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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I thought at first that I should be concerned that the first song Matthew comes home from kindergarten singing is Puff the Magic Dragon. Well, this is a public school, of course, the five and six-year-olds will learn all the words to a drug-reference song. But, I’m happy to report, that after doing some research (thanks to I discovered the following: No, “Puff the Magic Dragon” is not about marijuana or any other type of drug. It is what its writers have always claimed it to be: a song about the innocence of childhood lost. So, now knowing that the drug-reference stuff is just a bunch of hooey, I guess I owe my mom an apology. Last November, while under the influence of some pretty intense pain killers, she softly sang a slow mournful, contemplative rendition of Puff . I apologize for wondering (jokingly – for the record) about her past habits. She was just commiserating childhood lost as well apparently.

So, now that we’ve cleared up that a.) my mom never did drugs and b.) my six-year-old did not come home singing about drugs, let’s get back to the story. I was impressed by the amount of words that Matthew remembered from Puff (though the few that he did remember he just sang over, and over, and over…). I asked him about his music teacher (because quite frankly, I’ve hardly gotten any information out of him about what goes on in kindergarten, so every once in a while when he seems in a chatty, information-forth-coming mood, I grill him). I asked Matthew if he happened to have mentioned to his music teacher that his mom is a music teacher. (Just curious!) Matthew said, “No, that wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“Oh? Why not?” I wonder.

He thinks for a moment. “Because you’d argue about it,” and then he continues in a high squeaky (music teacher voice, apparently), “I’m a music teacher! No, I’m a music teacher! No I am! No me!” Interesting that Matthew believes that music teachers would bicker in the same way that 3 and 6 year old brothers do! (And for the record: I would totally play nice, and try to not start a fight at all).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let it be known that I like to SAY that I'm a morning person, but I really find getting up out of bed every morning pretty much the most torturous practice ever (just like everyone else). I like being up before everyone, I like the extra time of quiet to think and start processing; I just don’t like the actual part where I have to wake up and leave the cozy, warm comfort of my bed. In the darkness at 5:45 when I stumbled out to the coffee pot, I caught myself searching for something outside. And do you know what I'm hoping to see in the darkness just beyond that window? Just a shimmery, silver glimmer that indicates snow. That's right, it's only the 3rd-ish week of school, it’s only be fall for one week, and I'm already praying for snow days!!! Not good. So not good.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m loving school for the boys and I enjoy teaching on my music class days, but there was serious magic that happened last December when we had nearly two weeks of snow. The world stopped. We became Amish and it was a beautiful thing. (OK, well, Amish with a Wii and Christmas movies and microwave popcorn and nonstop Christmas music playing in the background. That’s the best kind of Amish to be). I miss being Amish. I miss slowing down. Playing games everyday – not just Wii, mind you, but games of the card and board persuasion as well. I miss reading. Snow makes me want to read Little Women for the who-know-whath time. I miss getting all bundled up to play in the snow and then coming in for hot chocolate. But the boys always think that hot chocolate is way too hot, so they let about three huge ice cubes float around and melt in their mugs making it midly-luke-warm chocolate instead. I miss wearing fleecy cozy sweats from 9-5 and THEN changing into flannel pajamas for the night. And I know I’ll eat these words: but I even miss that feeling of Cabin Fever – like we’ve just been all cooped up together for too many days and we just need to get out and do stuff. Right now, I’d be so happy for some Cabin Fever. Bring on the snow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The boys are famous!

Johnette Downing is a musician based in New Orleans whose music I've used quite a bit in my classes. I couldn't help but pass this along to her. Check this out:

I've got plenty of music-makin' to do myself this week. Today is the Montessori School, tomorrow I teach at Zach's preschool and then Friday is four library classes. Thursday night, Mike and I attend a three-hour adoption class. Saturday, we have an all-day workshop at church and then Saturday night, I will be MORE than ready to get out for a girls' night! Sunday, we're going to 'do the Puyallup' (going to the big Puyallup Fair) with my parentals, brothers and sister-in-law. I think I just may have to experience a deep-fried Twinkie. Look, the curiosity might just win out over the common sense on this one.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I’m being very naughty right now. I’m such a rebel. Wednesday is the day that I get up at 5:45 and instead of writing, I do some Yoga and meditation. Yeah, today I ‘overslept’ until 6:15, stumbled out to my yoga mat and laid there comatose for another ten minutes, smelling the coffee being made in the kitchen and thinking about writing instead of Yoga-ing. I motivated and did about eight minutes of the most lethargic, pathetic down-dogging/warrior-holding/cobra-upping ever and finally gave up. This is what I really wanted to do today. Well, this, and work on my adoption home study Autobiography a bit more. What I love most about writing about myself is that I already have the answers, I don’t have to be creative in making things up; I just have the creativity world oyster to pry open and see what pearls of witty prose lie within its’ gooey folds. LOVE it.

This week is ca-raziness as some of my music classes start up…today! I’ll only have three classes, so I’m easing in to things (not like my Hawaiian-dwelling, music-teaching friend Jessica who teaches full-time in a school and then has like 72 private students as well; that is crazy talk)! I did just get a random job offer from another Montessori school, so I’ve been emailing back and forth with the director to find out more. She won’t just come out and tell me what the salary is though, so that’s kind of annoying. Just show me the money! Mama’s gotta buy a baby girl! I’m going in Friday for an interview and to see if it’s a position I even want. The classes would be K-5th grade level. Besides private, one-on-one flute lessons, I haven’t taught anything over preschool level since before Matthew was born. And, ironically, part of their curriculum is teaching the recorder. Here’s the serious irony in that: I play the flute, taught flute lessons privately for ten years, taught music to grades 3-8 for two years, and I haven’t actually played a recorder since I was in 4th grade!! I think I could pick it up fairly easy…I’d be awfully embarrassed and lame if I couldn’t.

Last night was “Back to School Night” at the elementary school. I sat at Matthew’s table and colored a picture for him. He just got this awesome new hat for his birthday from Uncle Harry and Nana – a little picture math equation that has: a green crayon + yellow crayon = John Deere logo. It’s perfect for him and he loves it! So, I attempted to draw that in a note that he’ll find at his place this morning.

It was nice to hear from his kindergarten teacher what all they’re going to learn this year, and I’m pleased to report that he’ll be even more genius-y by June. I am a little distraught though because he’s already starting to bring home papers that say just “Matt” on them. I was determined to fight the “Matt” fight all through school, figuring that I had until maybe third grade before Matthew put his foot down and said, “No, I want to be called Matt, not Matthew.” And then I had every intention of blatantly ignoring that request. But kindergarten?! He’s already writing it in kindergarten?! I’m sure part of it is that he’s figured out it’s a heck of a lot easier to just write M-a-t-t than mess with that whole tricky h-e-w part at the end, but still! He will ALWAYS be my MattHEW and I’m determined to fight his growing up with every fiber of my being!!

As for MattHEW’s brother – Zachary, Zach, ZJ, Rocker Zo-Zo, Rocker Z has been busy coming up with a new career path. The last few days, I’ve overheard him a few times shot-rocker-singing into his “microphone” (this crappy, plastic toy that really just makes the kid’s voice echo a bit and was obviously created by someone who has never been around children EVER). So, Zach – legs spread wide and shaking his booty – was shout-rockin’ a new smash hit: FOOD IS HEALTHY. ALEX THE LION MOVIE. CHICKEN NUGGETS. Yup, those are the lyrics to the song. Very existential, don’t ya think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've been working on my autobiography for the adoption home study since 6 o'clock this morning (it's now nearly 8). It's a little wrong how much I enjoy writing about myself, isn't it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

We are adopting a girl. That’s a major-mondo-ginormous decision, and yet I haven’t even blogged a fair amount with a just explanation for you. It’s not that I don’t want to (come on, have I ever held out on you?!), and it’s not that I don’t have enough words (I’ve too many, as a matter of fact), it’s just a bit of a daunting and time-consuming task right now. September is THE most stressful month of the year (at least so far…) what with school starting up, music classes going again, all activities getting underway. As a perpetual student and/or teacher, I’ve always thought in terms of school year. Not this January 1st-December 31st business; that’s for ‘normal’ people. We the academics, think from September-June, thank you very much. So, I guess it is fitting that September – always feeling like an exciting/stressful time of new beginnings, new lunch boxes and sharpened pencils – should also be the month that Mike and I start this enormous process of adopting. And this bloggo explanation is part of that process!

As you know, we’ve successfully made two of the most freakishly handsome, genius-type boy children ever. We’ve done a great job…except that I’m not so good at the pregnancy part. My uterus is a selfish mothuh and not willing to give these boys a cozy resting place for as long as they need. Whilst in the hospital on bed rest, ‘Dr. Doom’ came to check on me – as he occasionally did. He strutted his British Behind in way-too-tight black pants, pushed up the sleeves of his black turtleneck and flipped his floppy, beautifully conditioned hair.

“You should not have any more children,” he said calmly like he really just muttered something as mundane as ‘It’s windy outside.’ “Every baby you have,” he continued, “will be early. We don’t know why you have preterm labor and we don’t know how to stop it. And typically with this pattern, each child tries to come a little earlier than the last. We usually see the preterm labor occurring two weeks earlier or more than the previous kid. Matthew was born at 35 weeks. With Zachary, here, you’ve gone into preterm labor at 28 weeks. You’ve said you have multiples as a trend on both sides of both families – twins, triplets. I just, quite frankly, don’t even want to think of that pregnancy.”

Well, at the time, I was so looped up on preterm labor-stopping drugs that all I could do was cry. I haven’t even given birth to my second child yet and you’re already saying that this is it! We didn’t necessarily have plans to go make 12 Catholic babies, but I didn’t want to be told by Dr. Doom that I had to be done either. So, the next step was denial. Maybe we should make it our mission to prove Dr. Doom wrong. Maybe I DO want five months of bed rest so I can finally write some award-winning books and get published. Maybe I could be the first music teacher to teach classes from…my…bed…or couch. OK, maybe not on that one.

But then the Post Partum Depression hit. And it hit again. And again. It rolled in like waves hitting the sand on a windy day at the Pacific – unrelenting, without any indication of potential end because just went things calmed down a bit and you think ‘OK, I’m getting better, I can handle this’ another dark moment of tumultuous pain and despair washes over you. So, then my other doctor (my primary physician) said, “You really shouldn’t have any more babies.” And then my normal OB/GYN said, “We loved having you in the hospital because you were so upbeat [um, cried everyday, but if you say so!], and we all miss you, but I think Zach should be your last…You’d be a great family for adopting! And then you could add a girl to your group!”

So, every doctor told me, “Uh, yeah, sorry, no more. Don’t do it.” But every bit of my tantrum-throwing-stomping-the-ground-with-hands-on-hips body said, “But I don’t WANNA be done!”

A lot of thought, a lot of prayer and the decision is adoption; adoption which – for the record – I’ve wanted to do since high school. I’ve thought about adoption ever since seeing that first Oprah about the condition of girls in orphanages in China. Now, it’s taken Mike more time to get on the adoption train, but I’m so happy to say – and praise God! – that he was the one who made it leave the station! (The, uh, adoption train station from which the figurative adoption train departs the figurative adoption station…to clarify).

Initially, I was thinking International adoption – it’s just what I’ve always wanted to do, and I figured that I could be like everyone else and just go get my daughter from China or Taiwan. (Please note: I’m not knocking ANY kind of adoption here, I’m just explaining how we came to our choice. There is no such thing as a superior way/place of adoption…it just varies depending on what’s right for each adoptive family or couple or person.) The more I looked into the Int’l route, the more I saw the trend that it’s become – countries see that they can make money playing with people’s emotions, and when it comes to wanting children most people stop at nothing to make it happen. So, International adoption has become, by far, one of the most expensive, time-consuming, wait-intensive (and potentially frustrating) ways to adopt…not to mention the travel time and expense and being away from our kids. So, I had to adjust my thinking. Plus, I realized, why would we go abroad when there are babies right here in the U.S.?!

But then, we saw just how expensive Domestic Adoption is if you’re very picky – one place would even make us pay a $6000 “Gender Specificity Fee” for requesting a girl. But we eventually found a more affordable option (though, still QUITE pricey) that offered major discounts and incentives (it’s like buying a car, for crying out loud!) if you were open to adopting babies of any race. And there’s such a need for it – they have an average wait time of 3-9 months which is ridiculously short for adoption! Apparently, there’s a huge need for multi-racial and African American infant adoption in this country…so much so that they have to offer huge financial motivation which just breaks my heart. I can’t understand why people are adopting older babies abroad when they could get a healthy infant from Day One right here. And it seems that when people are adopting here they’re typically opting for Caucasian babies who come with a $23000-40000 price tag and an 18 month-5 year wait time. Yes, race does have a price. (Again, I’m not saying this is bad. All adoption is good. It just varies greatly per family).

But still daunted by the price and frustrated by the idea that we – a family who could give a loving, safe home to a child who needs it – feel like this goal is practically impossible; I began looking for even more affordable means. That’s when I found Amara – an agency in Seattle that does adoption of babies relinquished directly to them or foster-to-adopt infants and children. I’d actually read about Amara and considered attending an information night but it was the same night as our Anniversary, and then I’d forgotten about it. A couple weeks later, at book club, complaining to the girls about the price of this process, my friend Molly mentioned Amara and brought it back to my attention.

So, again, after hearing about Amara’s program I was struck by the same kind of question: why would we look Internationally OR Nationally when there are babies and children right here in the Northwest who need a home? Now, one thing that’s different about Amara is, because there is a chance that our daughter will be coming out of foster care (though she’ll still be little – under the age of 2), we do have to do all of the classes and preparing to be foster licensed – a very involved process! We’re just starting the home study now. My guess/goal is that we’ll be licensed by January 1st. We need to be ‘ready to go’ (like the boys moved into one room, have the baby’s room ready, crib and car seat set-up) on day one and then we wait. Their ever-so-specific wait time is two days to two years. Obviously, most people fall in the middle of that and the majority wait closer to nine months.

At the end of last week, we received all of our paperwork for the home study part of which is 16 pages of questions for each of us to do an autobiography! Some of my writing time will have to be spent doing that. But Ha! 16 pages?! Are we limited to that?! While I’m excited and contemplating turning my adoption home study into personal memoirs (did they even KNOW what they were getting themselves into with me?!), Mike is wondering how he’ll find 16 words to use let alone fill 16+ pages. Good times!

Through this whole process I’ve had to continue to change the way I think about things. I won’t be giving birth to our third child. She won’t be the little dark, curly-haired girl I always pictured (or maybe she will be, she just wouldn’t be taking after me). We won’t have her from day one and we won’t get to name her (at least not until we legally adopt her which typically takes 6 months at which point, we could decide to change her name). But despite all of those things being different than how I always imagined, and no matter where she is right now or who she is, she won’t be any less ‘ours’ than either of our boys.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Today, Matthew had his first day back at school since the whole missing of the bus and my bug in the eyeball debacle and yesterday’s Snotty-Stay-at-Home-Day. Just to REALLY make sure he made it on the bus, I fashioned an exceptionally cool sign to his backpack. I also stuck a little note in his lunch box (which, might I add, he happened to see before he left for school and he read it out loud all by himself!). Overkill? I think not. I debated on Sharpie-penning a sign on his forehead but decided against it. Subtle yet successful, that was my goal.

And it worked! When Matthew got off the bus this afternoon, the entire BSC (Bus Stop Crowd) cheered. It was awesome. Matthew broke into a teeth-grin, came running at me and gave me an enormous hug. (He’s usually more of a let’s-keep-it-clean-and-cool-Mom-and-you-can-just-kinda-put-your-arm-around-me-as-a-greeting kind of kid). Needless-to-say, we were BOTH happy he made it onto Bus #7.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And so it begins. Matthew has only been in school for one week and already we’re having us a Sick Day. Matthew was up at 4 this morning all sniffly and coughly. Being a good, caring dedicated mom I planned on medicating him and sending him out to infest the world with germs (he got it at school, so he wouldn’t be the first to take it to school, right? Right?). Plus he seemed a bit better this morning…that is until he sneezed at the breakfast table. The sneeze was mammoth spewing across the table a shower of chewed-up waffle and “dinosaur snot” – that’s the nasty spewing, ooey-gooey kind – all over Zach who proceeded to sit there, shocked and unsure of what to do, covered in snot and waffleness going, “EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWW, he got snot all over me.” I looked at Zach; I looked at Matthew and said “Guess I better call the school.”

I was really hoping that Matthew would be at school today – not just because it’s lame he’s sick and missing class in just the first full week of school – but because I had an important note for him to deliver to Mrs. Randall. See, we had kind of a stressful event happen yesterday, and I wanted to let Mrs. Randall know so that it hopefully won’t happen again. Allow me to fill you in.

We were waiting at the bus stop with the Bus Stop Crowd – BSC. The BSC is huge and so far – in my immense BSC experience (the whole four days of it), I LOVE the bus scene. The families in our neighborhood are awesome, and I kind of think one of these days, I’ll show up, set up a table and start handing out glasses ‘o margarita goodness (it just seems like a party atmosphere) and we’ll have a fiesta in the street. At any rate, Zach and I are hanging with the BSC awaiting the bus to arrive driven by Bus Driver Bob. (OK, how can you not love the fact that Matthew’s first ever bus driver is called “Bus Driver Bob”? And Bus Driver Bob brings little dog treats and tosses them out the door to the leashed canine pets of the BSC. Even the dogs love Bus Driver Bob!!).

Bus # 7 rounds the bend, stops and about 20 million little people start tumbling out (in a safe, organized way). The BSC consists of nearly every elementary family in the neighborhood – we almost all go to the same stop, so it’s a ton ‘o kids. I see our neighbor girls Stephi and Ellie, Sydney and Zoe (lots of girls!), I see Mick from Matthew’s class, and then I see Shay – Matthew’s 2nd grade girlfriend and daughter of my running pal Andrea. Shay is more responsible than a 5th grader and has taken Matthew’s hand every morning (along with her younger sister Brooke’s) and led them on to the bus where the three of them squeeze into a seat. She’s been Matthew’s little 2nd grade guardian angel at school, and I honestly trust that girl more than…myself. ?! Anyway, I smile and wave at Shay and for the first time ever she doesn’t smile at me right away.

“Matthew wasn’t on the bus,” she says. I look up and realize that Bus Driver Bob is already pulling away from the curb and, yes, there is no Matthew in sight. I immediately say, “Snap,” pick up Zach and start running. OK, it’s wasn’t Snap it was something else that starts with S and has four letters and rhymes exceptionally well with HIT. Andrea yells, “Jenny! Leave Zach with me!” I put Zach down and start sprinting down the street. Bus Driver Bob – who is just starting to drive away shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders and raises his hands at me like, “Sorry. He wasn’t on the bus. Dunno.” I raise my arms hoping that in that one movement I’m communicating: Yeah. What’sup?! Why wasn’t he on the bus? Where is he? Thanks for your help, anyway. You rock, Bus Driver Bob. I’m sure he got ALL that from my flailing arms as I continued sprinting down the street. (I imagine I looked more like a large, awkward chubby bird flapping my wings attempting to lift off but fail miserably and have no choice but to keep running).

“Great. The one day I don’t bring my cell phone to the bus stop,” I think as I continue haulin’ down my street. I’m just nearing the one-block-away-from-our-house spot, when a minivan pulls up and drives along side me. It’s Holly – a mom in the neighborhood. “Looks like you need a ride!” She shouts.

“Yes, that’d be great, thank you,” I pant as I jump in. Holly and I have never actually met. She introduces herself and I tell her I know who she is and where she lives but I swear I’m not a stalker it’s because Andrea knows her and has pointed out her house to me. Meanwhile I realize that I have a bug in my eye. Yes. I’m that kind of dedicated mother. I was sprinting so fast to go find my lost 6-year-old that a bug flew into my eyeball. He did not stand a chance against this mama-on-a-mission.

“My kindergartener didn’t get off the bus,” I explain as I direct her around the bend to our house and try to extract bug carcass from under my eyelid. She glances at me and assumes I’m crying because of my lost child.

“I’m sure he’s safe and at the school office, they’re really good about this sort of thing,” she reassures me.

“Oh, I know. I just have a bug in my eye,” I say ‘cuz I’m the coolest/slash/cruelest mother ever. What must Holly think of me?!

“One of the moms from the bus stop flagged me down and told me to go pick up the running lady. You were doing pretty well with the running though,” she said.

“I run with Andrea,” I say as if that explains why I’m lightning fast…nothing but a blur of mommyness flying down the street.

I thank her for the ride and practically jump out of the van while it’s still rolling. Thankfully, the garage door opens right away, and I propel up the stairs to get my purse and phone. I check my phone, as I hop in the car and there are two messages – I pray that one of them is from the school.

It is. Thank God.

“This is Hazelwood Elementary. We have Matthew here in the school office. He seemed to think he was getting picked up today and missed the bus. Can you please call us and let us know you’re able to come get him?”

I leave the driveway (forgetting to close the garage) and head up the street. I turn the AC on full blast realizing that I’m sweating like a crazy thang. I dial the school back as I pass all of the BSC heading home – including Zach walking under 2nd grader Shay’s (and Andrea’s) protective care. They cheer me on. Dang. They’re still a LONG walk from home. I’m fast!

“Hazelwood Elementary,” a friendly womanly voice says.

“Hi, this is Jenny Martin,” I pant, “I’m Matthew’s mom, sorry I didn’t have my cell phone with me. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” I’m already turning out of the neighborhood on to the main street.

“OK!” she says cheerily. “We’ll see you soon!”

I park and hightail it to the main office. (I don’t run in the halls though since I’m pretty sure that’s still a universal school policy).

When I walk into the office, I see Matthew sitting in a chair – jacket on, backpack on, eyeballs all red from crying…I try not to join in right then and there while giving him a big hug.

“Matthew! You silly. Why did you think I was picking you up today?” [I don’t ever pick you up ‘cuz that’s just being an overachiever. You need to get your own butt home, child.]

Matthew mumbled something unintelligible. I thanked the office ladies. They thanked me for having all of my phone numbers and information on his bus tag (pinned to his backpack). Ha! Maybe I’m not a slacker mom after all.

In the end, this is how I understand the story: The kindergarteners have a Bus Buddy – a 4th or 5th grade girl who rides the same bus, helps them line up in the right spot and then leads them up the stairs to the bus curb. Matthew says – or thinks – he saw his Bus Buddy so he followed her, but instead of heading out the back door to the bus line-up spot, she went out the front door to the car/parent pick-up spot. That’s when – I think – he started to cry and a Mom saw him and directed him to a 1st grade teacher standing nearby. They saw his tag, took him to the Bus #7 line-up spot, but it was too late; the bus had already left.

I assure Matthew that he did everything right – didn’t get in a car, didn’t just start walking away from school, didn’t get too lost, he found a mom (or a mom found him) and got the help he needed – but from now on since he KNOWS where the Bus #7 line-up spot is, he shouldn’t pay attention to what other kids are doing he should just take care of himself and get to Bus #7. After saying this in about seven different ways, eight different times, Matthew finally says, “Mom. Can we be done talking about this now?”

Sigh. Talk about cutting the umbilical cord or apron strings. Pushing your baby out of the nest. Releasing them into the wild. Sink or swim baby, and thank God we’ve had over a year of swim lessons. It’s a BIG pond out there.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Change is hard. I understand that – my baby just started kindergarten. It is often difficult to accept time’s relentless march forward. But I really didn’t expect Matthew to have such a hard time accepting a good change – like turning six!

After dinner on Friday evening, we drove to my parents’ condo in Port Ludlow (about 90 minutes from here) for Matthew’s birthday/Labor Day weekend. Zach had gone over with them earler (on Wednesday night), so the boys were super excited to see each other. In the car on the way there, Mike and I reminded Matthew that the next day was September 5th. And what is September 5th? That’s right, it’s your birthday.

The next morning – the aforementioned September 5th of Matthew Martin birthday fame – rolls around all icky and drippy, cold, dark and wet. Nice three-day weekend weather. When I come out into the living room, Matthew is curled up on the sofa with Green Bear. I grab him and put him on my lap (Matthew…not Green Bear…though Green Bear came along for the ride).

“Do you know what today is?” I ask Matthew.

“No,” he says. Hmmm, very peculiar; it’s not like me or one of my offspring to forget a birthday.
“Today is September 5th!” I declare, awaiting his burst of excitement. All I get is a saddish, blankish stare.
“Matthew! What’s September 5th?!”

“Today’s my birthday?” Matthew asks quietly, incredulously.

“YES! Today you’re six! You turned six at 5:05 this morning. You’re six now!”

“But,” Matthew’s eyes start to turn into watery pools and his mouth gets that familiar sad square shape complete with bottom lip a-quiver, “But I didn’t know. No, I’m not six. I didn’t know.”

“What do you mean you didn’t know, silly? We reminded you in the car last night that today is your birthday.”

Matthew’s quiet sniffles turn into a more focused, determined cry.

“I’m not six! But I didn’t know!” I stare at my child disbelieving. Does he not WANT his birthday? Does he not want to get older? Does he not want chocolate cake? What the heck?

After some more back and forth of I’m not six – yes, sweet boy, you are – and it’s not my birthday – why, yes it is! I finally get it...or at least I think I get it.

“Are you just upset ‘cuz you don’t feel different? Do you not feel six?” Matthew grunts out a mm-hmm and slowly nods his head.

“Did you think that you would wake up in the morning and know that you were six?” I asked.

“Yes,” Matthew whimpers.

I sigh. How to explain one of the big disappointments in life – especially to one having to learn it so young? Your birthday is actually just another day. It doesn’t feel any different from the day before nor will you feel that much different in six months from now. But the anniversary marking the date of your entrance into the world is here. He’s right. It should feel a heck of a lot bigger and better than just another rainy morning.

Once Matthew had accepted that it was, in fact, his birthday and he was, in fact, six years old, things started to look up. Zach had helped my mom decorate a castle-cake complete with Lego soldier guys. (I’ve already accepted that I should never attempt to match my mom’s birthday cake making skill. Growing up, I had everything from a princess (like a Barbie IN the cake and the cake was her beautiful, full ball gown) to a cake that looked like a watermelon. In fourth grade, she brought dirt cake to school for my birthday and had a boy in tears thinking he really was going to have to eat dirt (as she dished it out of the flower pot with a trowel), and then in 8th grade my cake looked like the famous domed roof of Holy Names Academy – the all girls’ high school I was ecstatic to attend the coming fall. Needless-to-say, I don’t compete with Mom’s cake-making skills, so when possible, I leave the cake-making to her.

Thankfully, by the time cake and presents time had rolled around Matthew was ready – although hesitant at first – to accept change. It was a rough transition, but so far, he reports that six is a pretty good year.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Somehow I just signed up to be a follower of my own Blog. hmm, is that kind of self-involved or what?!
On the way home from the bus stop yesterday, we asked Matthew if he learned anything at kindergarten. He immediately responded, “Yes! I learned how to totally read.” Wow, that’s pretty impressive. And then he added, “But I already forgot how.”

Later, I asked Matthew if he got a chance to ask Mrs. Randall anything. He said, “Yep, I raised my hand ‘cuz that’s what you do in kindergarten.” I nodded my head seriously in agreement. “And then she called on me, and I said ‘Is it playtime yet?” Mike and I glance at each other while Matthew continues, “Mrs. Randall said ‘No, not yet.’” “And what did you say?” We both ask him.

Matthew shrugged his shoulders and said, “I said OK, [exasperated sigh] FINE.” (With all the dripping attitude of a teenage when told to go clean his room).

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Today was momentous. Enormous. Matthew – my baby – had his first day of full-day kindergarten. Mike and I drove him to school for the occasion. And while he was happy to have us there and clung a little bit, he was mostly just bummed he didn’t get to ride the school bus. (He did ride it home though! And from now on he’ll be a bus boy – a fact that he is most ecstatic about).

I did what all good moms do on the first day of kindergarten…I shed a tear or two. Mourning the loss of releasing my offspring into the wild. I held it together while in the classroom. Matthew was feeling a little apprehensive, and I didn’t want him to see that I was a tad upset. But then a mom stood up from saying goodbye to one of the little girls and she was practically sobbing. I looked at her and said, “OK, I can’t see that or I’ll definitely lose it.” She laughed and said, “She’s not even my kid!!” (I think she was a neighbor or something). Anyway, I managed to keep it together until we got outside.

The whole crying-thing really boggles Mike’s mind. He just doesn’t get why all the kindergarten moms were crying.

“It’s not like we just dropped him off at college,” Mike said. “And you’re already hoping that he marries a nice girl someday, so…”

“OK! I just dropped my baby off at school! And now we’re talking about college and marriage?! Can we please take this one huge milestone at a time?”

Thankfully, a little retail therapy got me through the day. We went to IKEA and bought the boys new loft beds for their new-and-improved, soon-to-be shared room. Mike got Matthew’s put together so it was waiting for him when he got home from the bus. He was VERY excited…as you can see. He had to try it out with Green Bear right away.

We have an interview/meeting at the adoption agency that we’ll be going through tomorrow. So, more on that to come soon. It’ll be a long process, but we’re excited to be getting it started! And the boys are excited to start sharing a room (yeah, that excitement will probably die the moment that they move in together, but whatever…we’ll run with it for now!), so we’re getting ready for that too!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Family fun this summer!
Well, I’m glad to report that we are happy campers! We had a fantastic and super fun camping get-away last weekend. It sprinkled a bit on Friday night after the kids went to bed, but other than that the weather was perfect. Rebecca’s dad came to the lake (Lake Goodwin) on Saturday morning and we went out for several hours. The kids and I all rode on the big inner-tube, Mike and Jason both wake-boarded and Rebecca water-skied. Both nights we made s’mores, and Mike proclaimed his utmost pride in Matthew’s “perfect marshmallow-roasting technique” (unlike my technique which involves burning the marshmallow to a black crisp). And Matthew reported at one point, “I sure like this camping business.” One camping trip down, many more to come, I’m sure.