Tag Archives: birthdays

The Year of Eight … A Year of Firsts And Freeze Frames

19 Jul

Cupcakes after midnight …

A buddy of mine left this awesome flair for words for me last week. Sounds accurate … on so many levels.

I find myself again … baking after midnight and preparing for the first day of being nine and reminiscing on the last days of being eight. I think about him knowing my Dad the first two years of his life only, but having good thoughts about the time spent together.

Eight was a good year, some ups and downs, but overall a good year. A year of firsts.

 

The Year of Eight we took to the ice. First time playing hockey, first time scoring goals, first time for a hat trick, first time a sport gets his complete undivided attention. First time we have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be at a sporting event at 6 a.m.

First time for Boy Scout Adventures in the Great Outdoors and earning badges. First time for Pinewood Derbies and being proud of the green roadster we constructed. First time for Rocket Academies, archery and BB guns. Rockets being the favorite as we successfully launched them into the sky.

First time for reading Roald Dahl and loving Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, first time for reading all his books. First time for exploring so many books that I lost count but he continued with science adventure books about kids being his favorites.

First time for learning tough lessons about friends in third grade, and how sometimes they’re not so friendly. First time for brushing off the disappointment and then learning to chug along.

First time I hear that he wants to slow time down because things are going too fast, so I teach him about daily gratitude and being present in the moment. First time he tries it and it works. The sweet spot of Jar of Awesome moments last longer and time slows for a moment.

First time for jumping off the diving board at the swimming pool, took the swim test and passed the first time. Best cannonball ever. First time we won our cardboard boat race, it was the Dalmatian Monster Mutt that took us to victory. First time for Sandbox List Adventures to be crossed off, like being an America Ninja Warrior for the day, trying to climb that warped wall and tackle the obstacles. The first year for The Jar of Awesome …

The Year of Eight was a great year of firsts for my kid. I’m grateful I get the chance to write that letter for him and remember these things. I try to catch them in this time capsule because even though I slow things down, slow is too fast for these moments. Freeze frame seems more appropriate.

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But it just wasn’t a year of firsts there were many seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths … I remember all the times he got lost in the world of Legos, creating cities, battles, movies, and Star Wars scenes. I remember all the mini-figures he mixed and matched to create new characters in stories. I remember him wanting to play chess and always ready to setup the Star Wars chess set. He always wanted to be the good guys. I remember his love of chocolate, all kinds of chocolate, Kit Kats, Snickers and M&Ms being some of his favorites, although he also likes Doritos and discovered the wonders of Extra Spearmint Gum. I remember him discovering Minecraft, Minion Rush, Star Wars Commnader and Fruit Ninja on the iPad. I remember him waking up before 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons, The Jungle Bunch, Lego Star Wars Freemaker Adventures, Pokemon, Wild Kratts, Star War Rebels, SpongeBob, and The Lion Guard just to name a few. I remember how he always looked forward to Shark Week every year, marking the calendar and having a countdown of his own. Great White Shark is his favorite. I remember how he still wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.

I remember dancing to his feel-good songs and him cutting loose, every time. He feeeeeeels the music and he is the best Solid-Gold-Soul-Train-dancer in the house. Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Bruno Mars are some of his favorites. Although 80s always rule in the house. 80s and The Beatles. He smiles as I watch him dance and it’s priceless. I loved the Year of Eight dance moves.

I remembered all that tonight and more …

So tonight I hugged my eight-year old one last time before going to bed, one last time before he turned nine tomorrow morning. I hugged him extra tight, and took an extra breath as he was squished between my arms. He smelled like Dove soap. I held him tighter. I was trying to freeze-frame it. I asked him how his last day as an eight-year old turned out to be and he said it was awesome …

 

I rode my bike in the morning. Played some Legos. And then went to the Ninja Gym and did some America Ninja Warrior stuff, I got to the fourth wobbly cube, the green one. And then we had ice cream for dinner. It was awesome. Tomorrow I’ll be nine. I think it’s gonna be great …

 

The Year of Eight was good and now The Year of Nine begins. It begins with me baking, not cupcakes this time, but cake … cake after midnight. Chocolate, of course.

 

 

 

 

The Night Before Six …

13 Jul

It didn’t occur to me that the Birthday Eves were important to kids too. I just thought only adults took stock and thought about the night before turning 40. I realized it’s a moment to pause for kids too. I wished I would have thought about it sooner, so I could have done this earlier for my kids and for my son, so that I could look back and remember all the times that slip into forgotten memories unless you have a picture of it. But I was grateful to have remembered and started today.

So I wrote her a letter …

 

You didn’t even need me to catch you this time.

You found the courage to jump off the edge and perform your best cannonball yet. And it was only your second attempt. You smiled. You finally went on the blue slide … six times you raced me. Six times I won but you didn’t care, because that wasn’t the point of the blue slide.

We were there three-and-a-half hours.

You ate a strawberry-orange-fruity Popsicle and it claimed your front tooth, the one that wiggled all morning long, the one you wouldn’t let me touch. The pool-side Popsicle made the arrival of the tooth fairy possible.

You won a book, a dinosaur book, on the last day of the summer reading book club over at the library, and you high-fived me.

The hotel that lost your soft, plush brown stuffed-dog that you’ve had since you were one-year-old, the hotel that claimed it had no idea how it disappeared from your bed, sent a FedEx package to our door. Brownie appeared and was back in bed with you tonight.

But before you went to sleep we talked about it being your last day as a five-year old and how that felt, what you expected six would be like, what your best memories of being five were … you were grateful for that day. You cried a little, though, you were worried about being six. Your brother told you that being six was gonna be great and that you’d probably be tall enough to ride some roller-coasters now, play on the big playground at school, and read some good books.

Being six would be easy for you.

We had a family hug for a couple of minutes and that seemed to do the trick. You were still worried but you found your courage.

As you lay in my arms I remembered this was the year you tried out for softball and you liked playing first and third base the most. Your favorite part was batting. It was your first year of kindergarten and you met your buddy Emma. Your favorite shows were PAW Patrol, PJ Masks, Doc McStuffins, Sesame Street, and America Ninja Warrior. Your favorite animals were elephants, hippos and dinosaurs. You really liked reading Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems, The Fred and Ted Series by P.D. Eastman, The Skippyjon Jones Series … all of them, Dr. Seuss, The Hungry Caterpillar, and Good Night, Goodnight Construction Site. Your favorite movies were The Ice Age Series, Despicable Me and Moana. You didn’t like getting out of bed, you were the give-me-five-more-minutes-mom kind of morning person, but you did enjoy you feel-good songs to wake you up. You enjoyed Footloose, Our House In The Middle of the Street, Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something, and U2’s Songs of Innocence — the entire CD.

You liked art and drawing, you liked playing Legos and America Ninja Warrior with your brother, you like me chasing you, giving you piggy back rides, splashing in the kiddie pool, watching you ride your bike, and you really like doing The Wave at baseball games.

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It was a great day to be five-years old. The last day you would be five and it had many Jar of Awesome Moments. You have a Pippi-Longstocking-Amelia-Bedelia-Goonies-Moana adventurous spirit. I’m hoping to remember it all.

I’ll especially remember me making your birthday cupcakes. You requested chocolate cupcakes instead of a cake this year, chocolate with chocolate with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

I tried a new recipe and it was an epic fail. Disaster all over the kitchen and cupcakes tasted and looked nothing like cupcakes at 11:23 p.m. They were just gross. I have no idea what happened, but I imagine it had something to do with my math and my ounces/grams to cups/tablespoon conversion.

So, what could I do but laugh and start again. Finished the cupcakes after midnight and then started on the frosting … Birthday cupcakes will be great tomorrow.

Last day of being five definitely rocked it.

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before …

25 Jul

Only a few hours before midnight and the fourth decade of my life will have started and my head will be resting on the cool side of the pillow, I hope. Not with a wild and crazy party filled with dancing, music or a disco ball, but just with the soft, steady, breathing of my kids fast asleep and the quiet of the night that can only be the special kind of quiet when the moon is out.

Thinking of the big 3-9 that just passed me, the year that went by, the Gatorade-worthy moments that made me feel good all week and the sad moments the took pieces of my heart away where acceptance was my only option. All of this feels 40, the bigness of 40, I feel it.

It weighed on me today, nervous like cold feet before a wedding. I’ve got it. The cold feet.

I wish I had my best friend here, or just a phone call away. But I don’t. Did I tell you I lost my best friend? They didn’t die or anything the friendship just got lost with time, within the 38 and 39 year-old time frame. It got lost and not so much because of me, which is sad when a friend isn’t your friend anymore, and it’s hitting me more now that the Big 4-0 is coming up.

I still have friends though, good friends, circle of trust friends, comadres and compadres, but that best friend the first one you call when something amazing happens, or something just devastating blindsides you, crushes you and you can’t breathe, and you can’t find yourself and your best friend is there and they bring you back to you. They see the you, that you see and that very fact comforts you back into existence.

I lost them, but I’ve found ways to bring The Guat back to Guat. I’ve found moments. Through this 40-Before-40 journey the smallest moments throughout the day have given me something to be grateful for, something to smile about, something to find the pulse back to my heartbeat.

The sunset, taking a deep breath after my morning run, feeling the cool water of an early morning swim, meditating, finding Ben & Jerry’s, hitting the publish button on a new post, talking to my blogging buddies, laughing with Jon Stewart, getting an a-ha moment from a good book, or finding a life lesson where I least expected it.

But today … in today’s moment, I found that my kids’ hugs were tight enough to make me feel loved throughout the whole day. Today I found that my son’s cannonball brought a smile to my face, and that my daughter’s laughter helped me laugh too. Today I found that even though I haven’t had a best friend in a while, I had family.

I was grateful for that.

They reminded me that we drove all the way over here for a big adventure, a weekend vacation that we all deserved for my Big 4-0, and that it was going to be great.

Twas the night before … and I was feeling better.

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My Dad and His Hats

30 Jan

73.

He’s got 73 hats hanging in the closet.

Golf tournaments, production companies, Rose Bowl Championships, Super Bowl Championships, SC Trojans, L.A. Kings, Dodgers, and the numerous places we traveled on vacation or places my sister visited. These were some of his memories.

They sit there on hooks, just as he left them. My mom swears she’s gonna donate them to the cousins in Guatemala. I tell her it’s gonna be a battle to the death. I’ll steal them away before she does that. She asks me if I really need all those hats. Yeah I need all 73.

Even the ones that say Boar’s Head. Yeah, my Dad was a butcher. A poultry man. Yeah. I need all of them.

It’s not like I’m a hoarder or anything. But it’s really one of the very few things I have left of him. They’ve been hanging in the same spot the last four years. I borrow a few on a weekly basis, but I always put them back. He wore a hat almost everyday, except when we went out to fancy places with me. No baseball cap, maybe a fancy golfers hat if it was chilly.

He wore all of those hats at least once, I remember giving him some of those.  The ones from SC and CAL he got from me. The one that said Greatest Dad, he got on Father’s Day. Even with 73, he would have appreciated the 74th one just as much.

 

My Dad

My Dad

 

Today I took his Dodgers hat and his black windbreaker. I felt the need to wear the hat he was wearing the most, right before he passed away. Felt the need to connect to him more today. He would have turned 67 years old.

 

On hid birthday

On hid birthday

Wearing the hats makes me feel more connected to him. I think about all the other hats he would have bought as souvenirs. I think about all the vacations we would have had and the hats I would have bought him in the future. I think about how they just sit there in the closet and how he’s never gonna use them again. It makes me sad. So I pick a hat and think … yeah this would be a good one.

It still breaks my heart to know that this is it. There will be no more adding to the collection. His stories are done. I look at all the hats and try to remember the instances where he wore each one, but they’re becoming fuzzy. I hate that. But I do remember the important ones, and it hurts less.

So today I picked up his Dodger hat … the one he wore on the last game we went together. We sat in the field level. He made an effort to enjoy the game, even though he was sick. I took the ticket stub out of my wallet today and smiled.

I miss my friend.

So I thought I’d throw him a party.

I made one of his favorite meals, steak and potatoes. I baked him a chocolate cake, but not just any chocolate cake. Juliet Child’s Almond Chocolate Cake.

 

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I had three pieces

 

The kids got balloons. I told stories in hopes I would bring him to life for my kids. We sang happy birthday and blew out the candles.

I was trying to be happy and celebrate his life, but I broke down when I went to go visit him. No one really knows how much I miss my friend and wish he would have been there to enjoy the sunset with me. He probably would have been wearing a hat.

 

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Wishing he was here

 

 

This was what I listened to today …

 

 

Happy Belated Birthday

30 Apr

So you leave a message and they don’t call you back.

After months and months of unanswered messages you finally get the hint … you get the He’s-Just-Not-That-Into-You vibe. But it’s not your dude. It’s your long-time friend. The one that knew you when you were obsessed with Enrique Iglesias and the one who helped you get dressed on your wedding day.

You think it’s o.k. … they’re busy, they have a life outside the home. You get it. You don’t want to be a Single White Female stalker friend, so your calling frequency lessens.

Then her birthday comes up. You don’t leave her an artificial Happy Birthday message on Facebook along with 300 other friends. You don’t text her “Happy Bday”, because she deserves all the letters to be spelled out in that phrase. You don’t send an email, because she’s better than a type-written message sent in cyberspace. She’s worth real space. So you actually call  to talk to her.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have her number programmed in your cell phone, so all you do is scroll down the list and press send. The phone does it for you. No need to hand dial.

It rings, but you get the machine. So you leave a heartfelt message.

It’s been so long since you spoke that she changed her outgoing message. It’s no longer her voice, but the standard-robotic-chick-answering machine voice.

You wait for the beep.

You leave a heartfelt message about how you know you haven’t talked in a while, but that you often think of her and miss your friendship. You hope she is doing well at work and with her family. You hope that she has a fantastic night with her new awesome fiance and you’re excited that she’s celebrating with a dude that loves and appreciates her. You’re glad that her birthday wish came early and hope that she had a blast in whatever she did that day. You hope to see her soon and wish her well at work, at school, and with her dude.

You think maybe she’ll call you back. At least she’ll send you an email letting you know that she got your message.

But after a couple of days you don’t hear from her. You think, she must be on vacation. Probably whisked away to Paris in a romantic week to celebrate her birthday. You hope she brings you some cheese.

But no … no trip to Europe. She’s been at home, probably busy with work, with her dissertation, and with her dude. 

Sigh … it’s happened. She broke up with me and I didn’t even know it.

This has happened to me before. Once my close friends get girlfriends or boyfriends I usually get dumped. No more chick-flick dates to see Nicholas Sparks‘s books that have become movies, and no more phone calls just to say hi.

So that was it … until I got the phone call.

Another friend had called me. She wanted to say hi and see how I was doing and we chatted up a bit. And then she laughed.

“Oh yeah … I also got your message the other day. But it wasn’t my birthday. My birthday is not until October. And I didn’t get engaged.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You left me a really nice happy birthday message on my answering machine, but it wasn’t my birthday.”

Dude.

Apparently I have to look more closely when scrolling down my cell phone contact list. 

So in honor of my friend I wanted to wish her a Happy Belated Birthday.  Not actually belated because I remembered and called her and left her a great message, but yes belated because I called the wrong person.