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.

 

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.

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.

My Boo!

Last week I celebrated a two-year old’s birthday, this week I celebrate the birthday of an 18-year-old. My littlest cousin who we call Boo Boo (Thanks to my son) is turning the BIG 1-8! With this rite of passage, the 18th birthday brings many “rights”… most of which aren’t that great for your mind or body. For example, you can drink in some countries (not the USA), buy tobacco products, purchase a firearm, get tattoos, pierce various parts of your body, and consent to what you want to “consent” to.  You can join the military, get married, buy a house, play the lottery, sign contracts, get a full-time job, and be tried in a court of law as an adult. Unfortunately, some may chose to do all of this simultaneously. Probably the most meaningful “right” you earn as an 18-year-old is your right to vote. Taking a short commercial break for a feminist rant….ALWAYS vote! Boo Boo…many women marched and fought hard for this right. Some women around the world dream of the day their voice is heard and recognized. Not all are on an equal playing field yet…but your voice helps move progress forward.  So always, always rock the vote!

Now back to being 18. I don’t recall much about turning 18. I didn’t get a tattoo, smoke a pack of cigarettes, buy a lottery ticket, etc. The best I remember, it was a pretty uneventful birthday. For some, the ripe age of 18 is a milestone or represents a time in their teenage life that makes them want to stay forever young. I never thought at the time that 18 would be my prime age, but some do. And for those…of course there is a song. Bryan Adams has a song “18 til I Die.” Goes something like this

Can’t live forever that’s wishful thinkin’
Who ever said that must of bin’ drinkin’
Don’t wanna grow up I don’t see why
I couldn’t care less if time flies by

18 til I die – gonna be 18 til I die
it sure feels good to be alive
someday I’ll be 18 goin’ on 55! – 18 til I die

I really can’t imagine being 18 until I die. I would love to have my 18-year-old body…until I die, but I hated the teenage years. The knowledge gained as an adult…with an 18-year-old body is indeed a deadly combination. So for everything there is a season. Even though you gained some extra “rights” by turning 18, it is still lumped in with “teenager” years. However, looking back it was more of a monumental year than I realized. It was the year I shifted from being a “high schooler” to a “college student.” It didn’t’ seem that big of a deal at the time…but hindsight is 20/20 and that year some of the decisions I made set the course for my life (which has been a fabulous voyage thus far).

Our Boo Boo is starting 18 off right; she has earned the recognition of a Governor’s Scholar and is receiving top honors at a one the finest State Universities (Go TOPS!). Boo Boo as you set off on this journey of turning 18, you are stepping into the world of college…the place where you carve out who you are, as well as, how and what you contribute to this world. Yes, there will be days you will miss your mommy…but you will live and come to adore the bond you share as adults. You will miss your family…but there will come a time when you will be glad to get away from them after you spend a weekend at home visiting with them. Heck, some days I would like to pack up and live in a dorm! Watch out…I might visit!

Speaking of home…”home” will never be home again. You will share a tiny dorm space, but it will be “home.” You are now charged with making yourself a home in this world as you chart your course. You will have roommates you hate, roommates you love, and roommates you don’t even recall that much about. You will meet new people and they will influence your life in many ways. Some will detract from your life and bring you more trouble than they are worth. You will say goodbye to old friends, hello to new friends, and eventually hello again to some of your old friends. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own life and who you let in it…or keep in it. You will have the opportunity to travel abroad and see this big world and experience it for yourself. You’ll experience love and heartache. You will be humbled and disappointed by adults. You will meet mentors who ignite your passion for a cause. You will learn how to push yourself. You will learn the value of a dollar and the joys and pain of balancing life and work. You will try crazy things. You will succeed. You will fail. You will grow. And ultimately, you too will be glad you aren’t 18 til you die.

As you turn 18, enjoy what this chapter in life has to offer, but do not let it comprise the opportunities and dreams the next chapters have to offer…for they get sweeter with time. Don’t miss the current chapter or the next chapter, by living in past chapters. And above all, enjoy being 18 while it last.  Happy birthday, my love…Boo Boo.

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Today my spoon is full of birthday wishes for one special gal!