Cooper Turns 9!

img_4517You are nine! What?!?! This ride with you seems to be going by at lightning speed. You have reminded me that this is the last year for single digits birthdays and next year your age is double digits. Just when you think we have had a great year with you, son, we are blessed with another great year with memories to last a lifetime.

This year you completed second grade and learned so much. You like to use big words now like “onomatopoeia” and “equity” and you are shocked that Dad and I know what they mean. You continued to excel at math and you perfected your reading skills with hard work. You say that the government is making you learn to read and it should not tell you what to do because it is a free country. We have a deal that when you turn 40 if you do not want to thank me for making you learn how to read than I will pay you $500. I really hope you either thank me, forget that deal altogether, or maybe we can settle at $250. You were super proud of your first big school project which was a boa constrictor habitat shadow box. You plotted it out and I hot glued until you were content with the masterpiece. You always had stories about the jobs you had at school like bathroom monitor and lunchroom table wiper-you took your work very seriously. You played the bucket drums at the school’s spring concert and you were so excited and proud. I will always remember the Galápagos tortoises on the school fieldtrip that were WWE wrestling (a.k.a. mating season).

You and your best buddy wore your tuxedos for Valentine’s Day again this year and the local news stopped by your school to interview you both. Despite asking me 1,000 times if you could wear your tux, when the news reporter asked where you got the idea to do this you said” your Mom told you.” I asked you why you threw me under the bus and you said, “well, I didn’t want to sound weird on the news so I just said it was your idea.”

What a year of adventures! We went to Helen, Georgia and we tubed down the Chattahoochee, took a short hike on the Appalachian Trail, climbed stairs to a giant waterfall, mined for gold but actually scored an emerald that I made into a ring-and I cherish it. I played the “Chattachoochee” for you and you sing it all the way to Georgia. You discovered the song “Prop Me Up By the Jukebox” on this trip but you sing it “prop me up by the juice box.” You were convinced we made the word Jukebox up-who has heard of that?

You enjoyed your first trip out of the country to the Bahamas with us-Mimzi and Poppa joined in too. You swam with pigs, dolphins, and stingrays. You fed iguanas that made me nervous, until you helped our tour guide pull a lemon shark into shore and that made the iguanas seem tame. You have plans to live in the Bahamas and you said I could have a hut in your backyard. I can make that work.

For spring break we had an amazing trip exploring Arizona which was first for all of us. We explored the Grand Canyon by me keeping a tight grip on the back of your hoody. It was actually, the Grand Canyon’s National Park 100th birthday. When we were driving through the Grand Canyon you asked me why you “kept seeing a sign of beaver in blue jeans that had boobs.” We finally figured out you were talking about “Smokey the Bear” whose significance is absent from your generation. You renamed him Booby Beaver. You made friends with the tour guide at Antelope Canyon, and climbed volcanic remains at Sunset Craters. We hiked the Red Rocks of Sedona. You and Dad gave me an asthma attack (literally) by climbing up the buttes in Arizona. You loved the Wild West of Phoenix and all cacti sprinkled throughout the state.

We just took a quick trip to Orlando where Dad met up with us while traveling for business. We were able to celebrate your ninth birthday at Volcano Bay. We enjoyed crab legs and a quick trip to Silver Springs.

We received a free Echo Dot with a purchase this year and you have worn it out asking it jokes, the weather, and how many days to your birthday. You blast your favorite songs on it that usually come complete with show stopping performance. Your favorite is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and various songs from the “Greatest Showman.” You have the pipes of an opera singer and can hold a note forever. I do not know if you will ever develop these talents…but you certainly are capable of excelling in music and performance if that is a path you desire. During the Christmas season, we listened to “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” approximately two million times. You sing Luke Comb’s “Beautiful Crazy” lyrics and you said it reminded you of me. Your latest playlist includes “Old Town Road” and any Shawn Mendes song. We surprised you with tickets to your first concert for your birthday to see Shawn Mendes.

You keep us all in stiches with your wit and funny antics. I wish I had the time to write everything down, but I would have volumes of journals if I did. I try to savor the moment and jot down some of my favorite which include: telling me you have a ‘two pack” of abs, asking me if a serial killer eats cereal, calling your backpack compartments- apartments. You do a funny Jim Carrey “smoking” impression and your just an all-around funny and quick witted kido. When I told you about the Momo scare on the internet, you immediately deleted YouTube off your iPad because you were freaked out. Then you spent the rest of the year trying to sneak up on me and scare me with your Momo face. Every night when I kiss you goodnight, I say “you are smart, special, kind, important, and loved.” On one night you told me “and…I am sexy. Don’t forget to add that.” You learned how to fart using your hand and armpit-it seems to be a rite of passage for second grade boys.

You still love to play soccer and futsal. You had an excellent season. Dad coached your team “Orange Justice” and you all placed second in the end of season tournament. Each soccer game you would paint spray your hair orange (the team color). I love that you are not self-conscious and keep doing you! I hope you always stay that way. You have some small soccer balls that you kick all over the house all the time. You cannot brush your teeth or go to the next room without kicking a soccer ball around. We enjoy catching Louisville City soccer games together.

You like to play on Xbox while conversing with your cousin on the iPad while he plays Xbox at his house. You still love your Legos and army men. You have added some King Kong toys to the mix. I do not mind the Legos all over the place and the war zones you have setup in the playroom because I know those days are numbered. You like to draw WWII things, comics, and Abe Lincoln. You love history and told me you want to study history in college but do not know what type of job you would have. My advice was to study what you love and let the rest fall into place. I might revise this statement if you over extend your stay at college.

You still find insects and animals anywhere you go. We laughed until we cried when you rescued a giant turtle from the road and it peed ALL over you. You have started fishing and love to go with your grandfathers. You call yourself “Kid King Fisherman” and your fish stories seem to grow each time you tell them. You have become quite the card shark and have taught us many card games. You also finally mastered ice-skating this year.

You ordered a keyboard off Amazon Prime with your own money and we started piano lessons this summer. So far, you seem to enjoy learning this skill. You and your Dad have constant discussions of why you should not sit around in your underwear. Honestly, I could care less and am jealous of your innocence to just be. He is worried you will be sitting in our living room at 30 doing the same thing. When you are not hanging in your undies, you love being outdoors, swimming, and being with family and friends. Your neighborhood buddy moved across town but you adjusted and learned friendship can span a distant…even if it is just a few miles. You still love your grandparent’s dog, Moxie, and proclaim he is the best and smartest dog in the world.

You still eat the same foods but you added spaghetti, turkey and cheese sandwich (no crust), and scrambled eggs to the mix. I have a vivid memory of you sucking up spaghetti, noodle by noodle, on New Year’s Eve. You love when Friday nights are reserved for pizza night and catching up on episodes of This is Us, A Million Little Things, 20/20, and CBS Sunday Morning. You also enjoy some of your Dad’s favorite movies from the 80s and 90s.

You are starting to show signs of being a pre-teen. You have reorganized my/Dad’s bathroom drawers because you need your own for your space even though you have your own bathroom you do not use. You bought a “Enter at Your Own Risk” poster for your bedroom door at the book fair this year. You still occasionally ask us to rub your back at night. Every now and then, you will request me to sing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen or “Blackbird” by the Beatles. We are starting to see the makings of a mustache and hairy legs. At this rate, you may look like Chewbacca by middle school. I am just not sure how this stuff works with guys. You call it “turning into a man.” You lost three teeth this year, for a total of 10. You play your iTunes music as loud as you can while in the shower. You honestly take such long showers that we cannot breath from all the steam. The mystery of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are almost over. You ask me “just how well’ did I know the Easter Bunny because it seemed like we were similar.

We have so enjoyed this year as a family. I wish that time would slow down…but there is more living to do. We love you son.

My spoon is full of great memories of year eight and the million times you have said “hey mom” this year.

 

Cooper Turns Eight!

You just celebrated birthday number eight. What?!?! Almost weekly you ask Siri how many days it is until your birthday. Every time you shout out the number that Siri shares, I tell you that I called in a special favor and that will you stop growing at age 7…no turning eight. Forever, my seven-year-old buddy. You giggle every time like it is the first time you have heard me say it and say “Mom, can you really do that?”

This year has been such a fun year for you, for us, for anyone that crosses your path. You have spent the year deep in your plastic army men, plastic animals, Legos, Nerf guns, and Lincoln logs. You have mastered your bike with no training wheels. We are still working on mastering the electric scooter. Our garage door has a large dent in it from your attempt to master the scooter. You love to play with your Dad. He helped you celebrate your 8th birthday with an epic water war party-complete with tunnels and camo netting. You two invented a game called snotbox hockey which involves a Kleenex box and pool noodles (note: if you visit our house-this is why my walls need repainting and my Kleenex box is duct taped together). Your favorite TV shows are CBS Sunday Morning, America’s Got Talent, The World of Dance, Toy Box, Little Big Shots, America Ninja Warrior, and Teen Titans. You also like to sneak and watch 20/20 murder episodes because you like to solve the mystery.

You are a noticer. You notice someone in need of a smile or friend. Once this year in the toy isle of a local store you noticed that, apparently, there is now a championship belt for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) women. You said “well, look at this. It’s about time the women can have their own belt.” You notice the shapes and sizes of clouds and you can spot a random camouflaged animal or insect with precision. On a cold, but surprisingly sunny day in February you walked home from your friend’s house shirtless. When I asked you, what you were doing…you said “just feeling the sun and fresh air on my stomach.”

You have developed your own fashion sense and think you need everything Under Armor and Steph Curry. Your “style” is one color. It does not have to be the same shade of blue. In your eyes, as long as generally have the same color on, you match. You still love soccer and futsal. Your Dad was soccer coach this year and you wanted to tell him what needed to happen on the field.

I know your sweet heart had a hard time understanding your Mimzi’s breast cancer diagnosis this past year -all of our hearts did. You religiously Facetimed her throughout the year to check in on her and often asked how her “boob” was doing. You are counting the days down to her treatments are done and she “just does drugs.” I hate you have seen this ugly side of life, but you have also seen the beauty of hope, healing, and strength in your Mimzi. The song you would constantly sing throughout this ordeal was Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” It was a fitting theme song for the season we were living.

You have kayaked, camped, ice-skated, bowled, hiked, fished, and rode horses (you laughed because my horse went crazy). You have spent time swimming, snow sledding, building snow forts, playing laser tag, building sand castles, finding starfish, and catching lots of critters (rabbits, turtles, birds, and a mouse to name a few). You went to your first comedy show and loved it. You witnessed a solar eclipse. You have visited many places with trips to Tennessee, Missouri, and Florida. You loved Gatlinburg as much as I hate it. While we were in Florida, our family had the experience of riding out a hurricane together. That was interesting and symbolic. You have went on special trips with your grandparents. You lost one tooth this year.

Your taste buds have remained bland. You have only added French toast and scrambled eggs to your favorites (which is a list of maybe 10 items now). You spent the winter months making rubber band bracelets and potholders. I am still finding tiny rubber bands around the house.

You turn songs and commercials into your own jingles. Like Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!).” Your version of one of the lines is “My Mom threw away my best toys, oh man” which is way better than the original lyrics of “now your mom threw away my best porno mag”). Instead of a Rebel just for kicks, in Portugal’s song “Feel It Still” you were a Rebel with a kickstand. You take your iPad into the the bathroom and sing at the top of your lungs when you are taking a shower. You belt out “Golden Slumbers” and “Ever Be.” When you are not in the shower, you steal my bath salts and bath bombs and try to make explosions. You are super excited you recently had a pimple because you said it means you are becoming a man.

You have moved from asking “why” to “how” and ask how about 100 times a day. You are still doing great in math and you are slowly starting to understand the power of reading. In your words, reading “just takes too much time.” You have learned so much at school and have been blessed with good teachers and friends. You soak up everything your teacher shares. You spent weeks telling me about and asking at least one million questions about “King Martin Luther” (Martin Luther King) and Harriett Tubman. While having lunch with you at school, I learned some of the girls have nicknamed you “buttocks” because you have a nice butt. I am pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor when I heard that but you laughed and said “girls are crazy. They like big butts and they cannot lie.”

You love being with your family and friends. You love all holidays. You even wore a tuxedo to school for Valentine’s Day. You love playing with your neighborhood friends. This summer you and your buddies enjoyed setting up shop in our front yard and selling every drink, individually package food item, and the rubber band bracelets you made. You were very proud of the “profits” you made and told me you offered a military discount to you customers. You are still kindred spirits with your grandmother’s dog-you might have been brothers in another life. When you grow up you want to live in a dimension (AKA mansion) and be an engineer and inventor. You even said I could live with you too!

You really do say the funniest things. You came home from school one day telling me that someone told you Justin Beaver” (Bieber) ate drugs”. You were so disgusted because you like some of his music. When I start fussing at you, you will say “momma stay” which is your way of saying “Namaste” which you think means calm down because it is said in yoga. You think any adult male who smiles, waves, or holds a door for me is trying to “flirt on me.” This year on my fortieth birthday, you woke me up first thing early in the morning and brought me a mirror so I could look at all the wrinkles all over my face. On Mother’s Day you woke me up with a big kiss and said, “Girl, me and you are like Mary and Jesus.” I could go on and on…about your funniness. And about you. This has been a fun year and I am thankful I was able to be along for the ride.

Today my spoon is full of sweet memories of a seven years and anticipation of the journey we will share in year eight. Thank you for letting me live life through your eyes and heart.

 

Lucky Number Seven

Seven. Many say seven is a lucky number. It is, indeed, a popular number. There are seven days in a week, seven Dwarfs in Snow White, seven continents, seven virtues to live by, seven deadly sins to avoid, seven colors in the rainbow, and there are Seven Wonders of the World.

Most important to me, there is a special boy, Cooper, who is now seven.

This past year has produced so many laughs and good memories. Many things have changed and some have stayed the same. My name of Mudder is now Mom (or Big Stace when you are being funny), you don’t hold my hand as much, but you still love Momma Radio (me singing you to sleep). You still love to sing and dance. In my face, in the car, in the shower-ALL THE TIME. You play the same songs over and over on your iPad. You sing your little heart out to “To Kill a Word” by Eric Church and Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away.” You love Bruno Mars “That’s What I Like,” the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “Fireball” by Pitbull. You have discovered the 1994 Tootsie Roll, but in the song intro you say “1894”-I doubt anyone was tootsie rolling in 1894. You also spent a few weeks this year shouting, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie DeShannon.” You had a short stint at guitar lessons, but said you were bored with learning the strings you wanted to just rock-n-roll. We will give it another try later.

You have learned a lot this year such as how to dive, backstroke, and be a better swimmer. You can ride a bike without training wheels. You are still kicking it in soccer. I love that your bold heart matches the bold, crazy soccer socks you wear each game. You apparently met a soccer coach from Notre Dame during a recent summer camp and told him you were going to play on his team. You started Futsal this year and loved it.

Your favorite shows to watch over and over include the Three Amigos, Harry and the Henderson’s, SING, Little Big Shots, Tom and Jerry, and Animal Fight Night-anything National Geographic.

You love being with your cousin-he is your bestest bud.You have such fun playing with your neighborhood friends-you all are making so many good memories together with Legos, Nerf guns, slip-n-slides, and popsicles. Your all-time favorite playmate and hero is still Dad.

You are obsessed with your grandparent’s dog, Moxie. You and that West Highland white terrier are kindred spirits.

You added Pokémon cards, fidget spinners, and Beyblades to your likes. You have an extensive collection of weird things such as a turtle shell, a rabbit foot, reptile feet, and unique rocks and seashells.

You are still full of questions. When you do not think I am giving you the correct answer or if I don’t happen to know how many hours it is to your birthday, when it is months away-you just say, “Give me your phone, I’ll just ask Siri.”

You like to tuck all of your shirts in, even when I tell you sometimes it looks dorky. You have got into the fad of having a design shaved in your hair.

Speaking of hair, you have a comb over technique that you have started that I try to fix before you walk out the door each day. You have lost seven teeth and have one barely hanging on.

 

We have had many adventures in places such as Florida, Alabama, Indiana, and Tennessee to name a few.

We have watched Monster Trucks, canoed, roller-skated, ice-skated, built sand castles, shot pellet guns, bowled, rode go carts, and played miniature golf. We conquered the State Fair. We visited the Huntsville Space Center, as well as many other museums and aquariums. We have explored caves, seen waterfalls, and hiked. We visited Rock City and you thought it was the coolest. We survived an animal safari where you were bit by a zonkey (zebra + donkey). On the safari, I was stalked by a creepy emu and your Dad was licked by the world’s largest buffalo. What a wildly fun adventure. We have jumped on trampolines and in bounce houses. You are a master at laser tag. On your bucket list is to visit the Leaning Tower of “Pizza.” You are going to be disappointing to learn it is Pisa.

You have picked everything from boogers and scabs to strawberries and honeysuckles. You melt my heart when you ring the doorbell and say “special delivery dear mother” and have a flower or a weed you have picked just for me.

You started Kindergarten this year. I will always remember picking you up with Mimzi (grandmother) on the first day of school. When you hopped in the car, we were both anxious to learn about your first day. I said, “how was your first day of kindergarten?” To which you replied, “some kid trashed talked me in the bathroom line and said the “a” word.” When I asked what the “a” word was, it was actually a word that started with an “s”-but hey, that’s what kindergarten is for, right?

You love the days when you are an car rider after school. You are a math whiz. You are learning to read. You have learned to tie your shoe. You have learned the Seven Habits and use them against me at times. You learned about being a bucket filler or a bucket dipper. You received an award for being a bucket filler-that made me proud. You won an award for citizenship and math. You’re a good friend. You will not stand for bullying. You love theme days at school. You have two Os in your name and you discovered you can make a smiley face out of your name by using the Os for eyes. I taught you to write sentence by using two fingers to make a space-to separate the words. When you first started reading you would say the “two finger space” dog “two finger space” ran “finger space” away “period.” 

You aspire to be a zookeeper or a scientist who makes potions. Your current plans are to live with me forever and have two boys named Campbell and Carter (after your favorite twins) and a girl named Kendall (not sure where that one came from). We really hope the babies’ Momma is in the picture and you have your own house where I don’t feel like a zookeeper.

You love traditions like looking at Christmas lights in the park and Valentine’s dinner, to name a few. You had a blast this year placing For Sale and Welcome Home Baby signs in our families’ yards for April Fools.

 

You are a master of iPad games, love Face-timing your family and your grandparent’s dog. You have us in stitches with Snapchat pictures and videos you create. You know about Amazon Prime and track my orders for me. You are your neighborhood buddies have been talking about starting a Nerf Gun Youtube channel.

Food wise, not much has changed. You have added French toast and “momma chips” (Stacy chips-which are named after me) to your mix. You have consumed a least a field or two full of strawberries and watermelon this year. You love to make coffee on Saturdays for your parents-you have perfected your brew-but it is still strong.

You are quick whited and funny. You see the world in a simple, loving, adventurous way. While on vacation this year, you witnesses for the first time, a homeless person. I tried to have a great parenting moment and explain what was going on and why. You replied, “nah, I think they just ran out of energy on vacation and needed a nap and some food.” I wish the world would stay that simple for you. You love big and your best days are spent with your immediate and extended family.

Today, my spoon is full of the all the great memories and adventures from year six and excitement for being the lucky one who gets to share seven with you.

Walking Away

As a Mom and an education professional the beginning of this school year looked different for me than the start of school years passed. This school year was different because my five year old son started a new school. I started the school year on a scooter after having surgery on my ankle. Instead of driving my son to school and myself to work, my mother picked us both up and delivered us to our destinations…kind of like the old days when I was a child and she was my taxi; except we are older and an extra mini-me is tagging along in a carseat.

I was determined to “walk” my son into this new building with new faces and new ideas…that’s what mom’s do, right? So my Mom would pick us up each morning, drive us to my son’s school, and unload the scooter so I could “walk”, I mean “roll,” my son into school. Then my mom would load me up and take me to work and unload me again. I would roll away, dreaming of day I can walk away from the car on my own without assistance.  After about two and half months, I was cleared to walk again and our routine returned to normal.  I walked away.

On scooter or feet, there were many days at the beginning of the school year, when I walked my son into school and he held my hand tight or clung on to me because goodbyes can be hard (and kids are generally experts at guilt tripping parents). There were days he clung to my neck like a chimpanzee and days my skirt felt like it might fall to my knees from him tugging on me.  After dropping him off at school, I would get in my car and on the way to work worry about him. Luckily, my drive time worries were short lived with less than a mile drive to my place of work and the realities of my workday smacking in the face as soon as I enter the doors. But, on the short drive and throughout the day I worried about how long this behavior would keep up? Was he not transitioning well? Was there something I was missing? Shouldn’t he be outgrowing the clingy stage? And on and on the questions grew within my heart and mind.

For the first months of schools, we kept our routine up each morning, me talking about how big boys act at drop off and shoving him onto an activity with his friends or into the arms of his teacher as I dropped him off. I bribed him with ice-cream treats and other rewards if he acted like a big boy.  And then one day, it happened. I walked him into his classroom and he just walked away without a kiss, hug, or a goodbye. No tears. No chimpanzee moves. Nothing. I was stuck between the two conflicting universes of happy and sad. Should I skip out of the school singing or mope out crying? I think I skipped out of the building and then I cried.

Then a few days later, something bigger happened. We pulled up to his school one morning, I parked the car to get him out, and he said “Mom, I am going in by myself today. Just stay in the car.” To which I replied “well, I will walk you across the parking lot to the building and get the door for you.” And he replied to my suggestion with “No, I don’t want you to. I got this Modder (Mother).” So off he went across the parking lot with a bounce in his step wearing his oversized backpack and carrying his lunchbox. I watched him walk away.

As I watched him walk away, I recorded the moment in my forever memory bank. I played it over and over in my head for days to come as I thought about his new found behavior…his new freedom to walk away.

The remainder of our morning drop offs this year, go something like this. He unbuckles his car seat and hops out of the car. I help him put his backpack on and give him his lunch box. He gets a big hug and kiss from me. As he walks away, I yell out “I love you, have a great day, and make good choices.” Without turning around he yells back, “Okay, I love you too and I will. Okay Mom.” I watch him walk away from me and bounce with pep in his step to his next adventure. I walk away and I get in the car, close the door and my heart says a silent prayer of thanks for him with a universal request that the world is gentle on him today. And, let’s face it, that he will be gentle on the world, too. Each time he walks away, I can’t wait to hear about his great adventures on the other side of his day.

Not too long after he started walking into school on his own, I captured this video to remember the feelings and emotions I experienced of him walking away.

I have thought about the emotions associated with walking away. I know my Mom was happy to see me walk away and not have to haul me around anymore as a teenager and as an adult on a scooter, but she was probably also a little sad that she wasn’t needed in that same capacity any longer. It seems that society has programmed us to think of walking away with sadness and loss. Walking away has a bad connotation to it- it makes us feel like we are giving up, calling it quits, or losing something. When I think about moments I have walked away, for good/happy reasons or failure/sad reasons, it seems that happiness always emerged eventually. So maybe walking away isn’t so bad and it really is about seizing the next opportunity, rather than losing something you are walking away from in that moment. Maybe what you are walking into is more exciting, than the loss of what you are walking away from.

It’s my job to teach my son when and how to walk away. There will be various forms of chimpanzees that want to hold on to his neck to hold him back and prevent him from moving forward. Heck, there will be a day when I am senile and I might act like a chimpanzee. However, I want him to know the strength of being able to walk away and listen to his inner voice that says “I got this.”

There will be lots of times, this precious boy of mine will walk away. This life is his journey to walk, not mine. Really, I am just fortunate to be along for the ride…even if my view is his backside walking away. I hope I am lucky enough to see him walk away to his new big school next year, to middle school, to high school, and on to college (if any Notre Dame reps are reading this-he has plans for a soccer scholarship so just call us because we can commit early). I want to experience the joy and excitement when he walks away from me and onto opportunities like field trips, special adventures, traveling the globe, and serving others. I look forward to seeing him walk away from me and walk down the on isle to commit to the love of his life, to his first job, to go meet his first born, and all the other life moments HIS journey holds. A journey that includes many stops that are his to walk without me.

Today my spoon is full of anticipation of when I get a chance to walk with him like old times. For example, like when his valentine box was just too much too carry and he needed my help or when we had two dozen cupcakes to drop off at school. I proudly jump out of the car and walked with him.

Full Hands, Full Heart

What are little boys made of? According to a 19th century nursery rhyme

          What are little boys made of?

          Snips and snails    

         And puppy-dogs’ tails,

         That’s what little boys are made of.

The same rhyme states that little girls are made out of sugar, and spice, and everything nice. As a girl, I would have to agree. As a mom of a boy I can attest that on top of the snips of just about anything snippable, snails, and puppy dog tails that little boys are full of sugar, spice, and everything nice as well.  Mothering has allowed me to learn a lot about boys…and inadvertently I have a better understanding of grown men. Having a boy was meant to be for me. I think I must have had an intuition that I would raise a son. When we were thinking about starting a family, my husband and I only had a boy’s name in mind. The night before our ultrasound to determine the gender, I dreamed the baby was a boy…and indeed it was clear by the very first ultrasound picture our baby was a bouncing baby boy. I should have known by all of his kicking and squirming during my pregnancy, that I had an adventurous fellow on my hands. As a matter of fact, he punched and kicked me so much when I went into the hospital to be induced, it turned out to be more than him kickboxing my internal organs…I was already in labor and didn’t know it. He was ready to discover the world…he has always been a step ahead of me.

While he has spent the last five years discovering this grand world, I have had the opportunity to rediscover its beauty and simplicity through him. The last few years have been filled with my son saying hundreds of times “Mommy, look!” and then each squeal of excitement for me to look is usually followed by his hands opened wide to show me his newest discovery. I will admit, sometimes when he has been too quiet for too long, I meet him with a little hesitation afraid of what I might see. When this started occurring on a regular basis, I started taking pictures of his hands each time. I wanted to savor the moment because it meant more to me than just seeing a turtle, frog, or a bird. Luckily, we haven’t picked up a snake…YET.

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In all of his discovery and my picture taking, I was reminded how much I love those little hands that grow in size and bravery each and every day. Those little hands are the sugar, spice, and everything nice…the gateway to his curiosity, imagination, and heart. They are the hands that stole my heart. On the days that my hands are full with love, life, and work, his tiny hands remind me to keep an open heart and mind, as well as, to see the beauty in the moment – to “look” at what surrounds me at THAT moment rather than what is behind me or before me.

He uses his tiny hands to stuff his little cheeks full of watermelon, to pray, to make messes, to dig in the dirt, to discover the world around him, to share, to clap, to play games, maybe pick his nose when I am not looking (ughh), make funny dance moves, etc. He loves to use his hands to color, paint, and make creations out of Legos, towel rolls, rocks, and sand. I love when he reaches his hands out to me for a hug. I love how he twirls his fingers in my hair when we snuggle. I love holding his sticky, dirty hands. My hands and heart are full, thanks to this little guy.

His hands remind me of a quote by Taisen Deshimaru, a Buddhist teacher which states “Keep your hands open, and all the sands of the desert can pass through them. Close them, and all you can feel is a bit of grit.” I strive to teach him to always have his hands open to explore, to help others, and to make a positive mark on this big that world we all share.  I hope his excitement for life, for discovery, for people, for nature doesn’t wain as he grows. I hope he always extends a hand to help others, and has the wisdom to know when he needs to accept a helping hand. I hope he knows when to use his hand to give someone a pat on the back and occasionally, give himself one. I hope when life deals him a bad “hand” that he will find the beauty in the ugliness and not close his hands and heart-only feeling the grit. Mostly, it is my hope that I raise him with open hands to share with the world so that he is free to find his place in this world, that I find joy in his discovery, and I don’t feel the grit of the years passing us by so quickly.

Today, my spoon is full of a handful of lessons learned from snips, snails…and a boy begging to add a puppy dog tail to our house.

A special thank you to our daycare

This week was my 5 year old son’s last week at his daycare/preschool. He has been counting down to his next adventure to kindergarten with excitement. Each morning he says,” how many more days, Mom? Sarcastically followed by “are you going to cry on my last day because you are sad I am growing up?” I told him I would not cry even though I knew I probably would (And…I did!). My how time flies. It really is bittersweet. The bitterness of life’s fleeting moments and the sweetness of new experiences for him in “big boy” school.

I remember visiting his daycare while I was pregnant with him. The owner showed me around the entire daycare from the bed baby to the preschool rooms. I have this memory in my mind’s eye of glancing into the preschool room where I saw children playing with friends, back packs hung on the wall, and kidos doing an activity using kid scissors. As I peered into the classroom I remember thinking to myself “wow those kids are so big and that it would be forever before we are in this room.” Forever turned out to be a very very short five years.

My son started attending his daycare at 8 weeks old. I am pretty sure the first day I dropped him off I had a typed listed featuring everything you need to know about my son. I am also sure the teacher thought I was nuts. I remember sitting in the parking lot and shedding a tear the day I dropped him off at daycare for the first time. I cried because it was my first time leaving him. Truth be told, I may have shed a tear or two of relief because it was the first day in 8 weeks he wasn’t screaming at me (see previous post about colic). He didn’t scream at daycare-he waited until I picked him up. True love.

This is a picture of my son on his first day at daycare.

First Day at Daycare September 13, 2010

First Day at Daycare
September 13, 2010

And…here is his picture on the last day of daycare. He looks a little different in this big old chair now.

Last Day at Daycare August 7, 2015

Last Day at Daycare
August 7, 2015

This blog post serves as a special thank you to his teachers and the owner over the last five years. You each hold a special place in this chapter of our lives. This is why you all are so great:

  • You helped teach him some of the most important life lessons-sharing, caring, taking your turn, manners, and the list goes on and on.
  • You always communicated with me about my son’s day with you.
  • You developed, within my son, a love for learning and exploration with classroom visits from community helpers, like policeman and firemen, and daily hands on activities.
  • You make learning your ABCs, 123s, animals, songs, and rhythms so much more fun than I could have ever made it. As a matter of fact I have relearned a few things myself. For example, I can’t get “bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?” out of my head this week. Last week it was “boom chicka boom.”
  • You have helped him create arts and crafts that I will always treasure.
  • You provided assurance about the stages in the life of a small child. We survived colic, a year stint of my son biting like a vampire, multiple dislocated elbows (to no fault of the daycare) and potty training together.
  • You have high expectations for my child.
  • You provided encouragement, comfort, love to my child.
  • You helped teach him how to be a good friend, student, and helper.
  • You helped him understand right and wrong and good and bad choices.
  • You were made by a greater power to love and teach children.
  • You are a beautiful example of women lifting up other women.

It takes a village to raise a child and our daycare is a part of my family’s village. As important as this place has been to my child, they have been equally important to me. They have greeted me with a smile and open arms EVERY day. Days when I am on time. Days when I run late. Days when life is perfect. Days when I am tired, don’t feel well, or want to quit. They have provided me the confidence I need each day to know my son is safe, happy, and learning. That confidence allows to go to work and spend my days empowering others in my profession.

This week my son and I were talking about the new building, teachers, and friends that come with kindergarten. During the discussion he said “sometimes when you try something new, it’s scary but you just be brave and it turns out good, right?” Sometimes I think he is wise beyond his years. With a positive attitude like that, I assured him that great things are in store for him. As we transition to the next phase of my son’s educational journey. These years at daycare/preschool will always have a special place in my family’s hearts. For this experience I am grateful.

As we drove out of the daycare parking lot on our last day, I wiped a tear from my eye and then I heard my son say “this air conditoning in the car is making my eyes cry a little (such a tough guy). When do I get to go back and visit?” I knew then he understand the great experience he had there.

Today my spoon is full of many great memories of our special daycare experience and the friends we have made along the way.

My Sonshine is FIVE!

I Am 5

I Am 5

To my Sonshine:

Did you really turn five yesterday? Yes, it is true. I tell you daily that I get a phone call from Jesus and he tells me that you have to stop growing at four years old and just stay my four-year old forever. You laugh every time, like it’s the first time that you have heard me say that and you always say “I’m turning five and getting big, Mooooommmmm” followed by “Jesus doesn’t know your phone number, does he?” There are lots of fun memories from this year that I will always cherish.

You still rely on macaroni and cheese, fettuccine Alfredo, strawberries, apples, watermelon, yogurt, and honeybuns (Honey Bunnies as you call them) to survive. You have added deli turkey, steak, and root beer (thanks Mimzi) to your diet. You like carrot cake cakepops…so that is one “vegetable” in the mix, right?

You are so smart. You say SO many funny things, I cannot possibly write them all down. Your Cooperisms keep me laughing…actually your words keep anyone who knows you laughing. Here are a few of my favorites from this year:

  • In the wintertime, you put your “hook” on each morning…aka your jacket “hood.”
  • You say funny, endearing things to me like “yes dearest mother” “my sweet love” and “my precious baby girl”…these usually come out of your mouth when you are headed to timeout.
  • You have a combined the word mustache and beard to create the term “mushbeard.”
  • The first joke you told (which I am not sure where you heard it) was “What does a butt crack say when it wakes up? Crack a doodle doo.”
  • You have asked me if there is a Mother’s and Father’s Day, when will it be Kid’s Day. As if every day isn’t about you at our house.
  • You spent most of the month of February talking about “Beaver Day” which was supposed to be Groundhogs Day.
  • Anything taking over 1 second is “forrrrrrever!”
  • During a conversation in an airport bathroom stall, you had the women in the stalls next to us laughing when we had an impromptu discussion about “pirate parts”…aka private parts. Needless to say, I did not want to exit the stall.
  • You have learned to look both ways when crossing a street, so you “don’t get flat.”
  • You tell me “You drive me crazy like a car” when I ask you too many questions about your day.
  • You told me you wanted to be a “Rine” (Marine) like your Dad and fight the bad guys. I told you that you couldn’t because I wouldn’t let you go far away to a war. You replied that you were “big enough” and a few minutes later came back and asked me “how do I get home from being a rine.” I think you are worried about missing your Mommy.
  • You like to talk out loud in public about people making “bad choices” to smoke or have their undergarments showing. These usually take place at Wal-Mart.

You love your family, your cousin “Tole” (Cole), and you love adventure. We have had lots of adventures this year. We have seen Disney on Ice, which you told me was boring; I agree. We have seen Marvel Superheroes Live which you loved. We have ridden on planes, trains, bicycles, ski lifts, escalators, elevators, amusement park rides, and horses. We had a blast on our Disney vacation. You loved the water rides at all the parks and thought it was so funny when I got soaked (like dripping wet) and you and your Daddy didn’t. When we got stuck on “It’s a Small World” we all started to go mad after a few minutes of hearing the famous It’s a Small World song over and over.

We have picked pumpkins, apples, and honeysuckles. We have swam, played soccer, and started our newest adventure “ninja school” (karate). We have camped (uggh), visited museums, watched movies, and went tubing. We have made snowmen and built sand castles. You love bounce houses and laser tag. You love being at Poppa’s farm. You love anything outdoors, especially if it involves water.

You love when Mom occasionally goes out-of-town for work and you and Dad have “boy time”. You love to play with your Dad-he’s your best bud. You like to pretend shave with Dad while he is shaving and spray (soak yourself) in his cologne to “smell good”. You have a cowlick that I spend each morning trying to tame…we usually concede and just turn it into a mohawk. You still love my snuggles and like me to sing you to sleep-occasionally.

You love Star Wars, Curious George, Horton Hears a Who, Happy Feet, and Ninja Warriors. You enjoy hanging out on our Hammock. You can make a stick into just about any kind of weapon. You play on my iPhone. You have more apps than I do on my iPhone. You have your own folder of “Cooper’s Jams” in my iTunes. We have listened to and sang at the tops of our lungs, Uptown Funk You Up, Boys Round Here, Little Red Wagon, Beyond Me, Who Let the Dogs Out, Roar, Stronger, and Gangam Style until I cringe every time it comes on…again. Some night we fall asleep watching YouTube videos of funny cats, Herman the Worm, or Boom Chicka Boom.

We had some tough conversations this year. Our cat of fifteen years passed away. It was our first talk about dying. You had lots of questions. You thought it was “so rude that Jesus would take your cat and not give it back.” When we visited family graves for Memorial Day, you had lots of questions for me about what do dead people do under the ground, is there a city under there where they eat and play, and wondered if they come out at night like zombies. Such a complicated subject for a little mind…heck it is complicated for an adult mind. You have learned that some kids don’t get to live with their mom and dads and other people get to love on them and be their parents.

You have shown me your kind heart by giving to others, you have brought me flowers, bugs, and all kinds of critters. Thanks to your Mimzi, we have a miniature Gnome garden in the landscaping at our house. I swore I would never have yard art! You love the Gnomes and rearrange them regularly.

You still have your hermit crab and haven’t noticed yet that one kicked the bucket while we were on vacation (he’s asleep in his shell, right?). You have stopped carrying and sleeping with your “blue” blanket and “Brown” the bear. You have become quite the photographer. I love when you grab my cell phone or camera and take pictures-everyone always smiles for you without hesitation. You have lots of questions and you pretty much talk ALL the time. Some days, I have to ask you to just rest your voice for a minute so my brain can catch up with you.

You have shared with me an amazing fourth year. I love seeing the person you are growing into. You bring me joy each day. I love being your “Mom” because you no longer call me “Mommy”. Dad and I love living life with you and making memories each day.

Today my spoon is full of lots of fond memories of year number four and ready for the spoonful of life year five will bring.