Category Archives: birthdays

Eleven.

It seems the last birthday post that Luke got was when he turned 11. That is not intended to be a hard-and-fast rule, but since Bennett turns 11 tomorrow, I decided I’d hop on here and record a little something.

11 years ago right at this very moment, I was starving. I was one of those pregnant women that gained every bit of the healthy amount of weight suggested by doctors, and I did so generally via carbs and cheese, and as was the case with Bennett’s pregnancy, jalapenos. I ate so many jalapenos while pregnant with him, and I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that I think it’s possible it contributed to his spicy personality.

I digress. My point was, at this moment 11 years ago, I was hours and hours into waiting on L&D to call me to come to the hospital to begin the induction/evacuation plan for baby boy #2. Already a mom, and a boymom at that, I anticipated more work around our house for sure, but I guess I kinda thought I’d just be redoing what I’d already done during Luke’s first 2 years.

 

blonde from birth! and just tiny.

 
I could not have been more wrong. While Luke is definitely the guinea-pig kid that Matt and I go through things with first, and get to figure out some semblance of whether we liked our decision-making before the other 2 boys get there, Bennett’s personality is so different that from the beginning, parenting him was just not the same experience repeated.

 

this is just SO BENNETT.

 
And I’m so thankful for that.

Not long ago I posted about him, and mentioned that he’s the best kind of adventure. And it really is such a good description…he’s intense and funny, fiery and unafraid, persistent and a hard worker, with a laugh that you can’t help but join when you hear it. (OK…that’s not always true. Sometimes I hear it in conjunction with his brothers flipping out, so I know he’s up to no good, and then my Loud Mom Voice comes out instead of a laugh.) He still adores his baby cousins (of which there is a new one, Alice, born 2 days ago).

I can’t really write anything that I haven’t already said about him in years past on his birthday posts, but I can say that his sense of humor is developing further and it is wicked hilarious. This past year he’s worked even harder at being fit (I’m talking one-armed pull-ups) and honing his basketball and baseball skills, and while it doesn’t really surprise me, seeing him be so dedicated is fun. I’m seeing glimpses of amazing leadership potential that I hope by gently pointing out, he will take to heart and embrace.

 

first game of the season last weekend.

 
He’s joining Luke at the middle school next year…he’s a big kid now. And speaking of that, he’s going through a growth spurt and can put away a SHOCKING amount of food for someone his size.

 

middle school tour night

 
Looking forward to celebrating his birthday the only way we know how, which is with a lot of baseball games and a postponed celebration.

Love you, B.

Eight.

Last weekend, Jack Henry turned eight, and we threw a huge party for him.

Ok. We didn’t exactly throw the party. We went to a party, and just worked a celebration for him into that party. However, it’s going to be hard to top next year, because this year, the party was a wedding reception. 🙂

My dad’s wife, Annmarie, has two children, and her daughter was married in a beautiful ceremony and reception in KC last Saturday. When we had a little bit of time, we had a party at our table for Jack Henry, complete with presents and a cookie cake we brought along.

he was waiting until 6pm (near his official birth time – i need to look that up) to really celebrate!

 

new catcher’s mitt. i’m getting pretty good at buying sports equipment 🙂

 

with papa!

 

we kinda like him.

 

bros. how am i the mom of kids this old?

 

jh and the beautiful bride gianna!

 

nieces and g on the dance floor.

 

my brothers and sister!

 

we make the brown-eyed in-laws sit together 😉

He loved his celebration!

So, to my boy: I could not possibly love you more. Your smile and laugh are infectious. The depth of your thoughts sometimes overwhelms me in the best possible way – you’re an old soul, and you’re not afraid to tell me what you’re feeling. You’re unlike your brothers in that way, and so sometimes, as your mom, I’m caught off-guard when you bring things up. Know that I always, always want to have those conversations with you.

Your dad and I are proud of the person you are becoming: so aware of other people and their feelings, still so sweet and kind and sensitive. And this age is one of our favorites: you’re still little, but also big enough to do fun stuff with your older brothers and dad, like ride roller coasters (I will never, ever join you on that adventure).

Can’t imagine life without you, buddy.

Love,
Mom

(Here’s seven, and one through six can be found here.)

Ten.

You guys. As of {1:50, but who’s counting} this morning, I have two kids in double digits. Yep. Bennett is 10!

aww…dimples instead of knuckles…my favorite toddler feature!

I went back to last year’s birthday post to see what I’d written, and this stood out, because it’s just so true.

Birthdays now bring about a sense of urgency in me…there’s still so much I want him to know, and the years to learn those things are just flying by. And when I get reflective about Bennett and who he is and what it’s like to parent him, I get kinda weepy…I don’t know, I just love him so much, and parenting him has been challenging beyond what I envisioned and made me grow and stretch and I’m thankful for that…

Truly, I am frequently at a loss when it comes to understanding this kid. Part of me knows that when we butt heads it’s because we are so alike…he is me in so many ways, and not all of them are my favorite. The other part of me just flat out doesn’t get him and his intensity. Or maybe I’m jealous of it?

Bennett knows what he wants, and he is willing to do the work to get there. Whether it’s with his schoolwork (he’s had an incredible year, after my fears over the summer) or doing push-ups every day or baseball, he commits himself to getting the job done. With baseball I already feel like I have to walk this fine line between being supportive of his dream and making sure he understands the reality of how hard it is to become a MLB player.

He announced this evening that he plans to go to college for two years, then “have a career in baseball, ” and then return to college to finish after his playing days are over. Jack Henry did not mince words, letting him know that his plan was not the smartest and that he should just finish school first. 🙂

i mean i know i’m his mom and all, but he was a really, really cute baby 🙂

All I know is this: as his mom, I get a front-row seat in watching who he becomes (and yes, clearly, lots of guidance), and while I absolutely do not want the years to move any quicker, I kinda can’t wait to see what he does with his life.

Love you, B.

Seven. Like 3 Weeks Ago.

Sigh. I can’t believe I didn’t get around to this before now. Sorry, adult-Jack-Henry-who-is-someday-reading-this. Mama loves you. She’s just flighty and busy, and sitting down to blog just didn’t happen.

Also, it should be noted that I just scheduled his well-child exam for sometime in mid-November, a mere 2 months after his birthday. Par for the course, thirdborn.

We actually spent several days celebrating our family’s youngest member during his birthday week. He had his first-ever friend party the Saturday before his birthday (the 20th), and then we had our family dinner/presents on the 25th, the day before his birthday. Because on his actual birthday, we had 2 baseball games at 2 parks 20 minutes apart (Nana Jo and Papa Ron came over to join us for the weekend!). And he was playing in one of those games. Then on the day after his birthday, Luke had a game and JH had a double header, and he had plans to join my brother’s family at their school’s carnival that afternoon. So it was like all Jack Henry, all the time, for several days 🙂

I’ve said before, so many times I know, that JH is just the perfect fit in our trio of boys. I can’t imagine life without him and his happy, sunny disposition, his tender, sweet heart, his loud giggle, and his wit and humor and funny, smart brain. I love that he’s still kind of a little kid…it’s still sometimes hard for me to believe that everyone is school-age now! But he’s the one that snuggles up on the couch, and greets me with a hug and holds my hand every.single.day when I pick him up from school.

So yes, it’s late, my dear JH, but it’s here. I love you.

Mom

Simplicity.

balloons

**Major disclaimer: please read this knowing it is my opinion and parenting approach, and not a rip on the way other people choose to approach this as parents. There’s plenty of that elsewhere in other blogs. I just thought that there might be some other moms out there, maybe younger moms especially, who could use some insight and encouragement in this area. That’s it.**

I know I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I’m not much of a birthday party mom. I generally find it stressful, and overwhelming, and not fun. And yes, I know it’s not about me, but when I am all of the above, it doesn’t make for a happy household. That doesn’t mean that we don’t celebrate birthdays, or skip parties with friends. It just means that I like to keep things simple.

Part of my issue is how huge, in both numbers of kids invited and expenses, birthday parties have become. I’m simply not interested in keeping up with the Joneses. The potential expense completely overwhelms me, and the excessive amount of planning time to make everything creative and perfect makes me break out in hives. And I’m a creative person. Who adores Pinterest. I think part of my aversion is that all of this effort is put into something that lasts 2 hours.

Now. If crafting up an amazing party is your thing, go for it, sister. If you can afford a fun location, go all out! I don’t think badly of you, and I’m happy you’ve chosen to celebrate your kiddo in that way. Those parties can be really fun!

But if you can’t afford it? Or don’t want to spend that kind of money or time on a party? It’s ok. It really, really is ok to go against the grain. I honestly don’t think it’s going to impact your kids negatively in the long run. In fact, it might even lead to some really great discussions from an early age about family priorities and making hard choices (i.e. you may give your kid the option of an expensive party in lieu of a gift from you if it’s that important to him to have a big party).

We’ve had several small parties at the house, and we’ve also done the pick-three-friends-to-go-to-the-movies route. Each boy has been given the option of one bowling party (or similar expense), but Bennett didn’t even want that, and instead chose to have friends over to the house because that seemed more fun to him. One of B’s friends’ parents take a few kids camping at a local campground for their son’s birthday…super fun, doesn’t break the bank. There are tons of ways to celebrate your kid and his big day without forking over the equivalent of a car payment.

Clearly my kids aren’t grown yet, and this whole topic of how lame their birthday parties were compared to their friends could still lead them to the therapist’s couch. I hope not, but I don’t know. So take what I say with a grain of salt 😉

—–

Yesterday was Jack Henry’s first friend birthday party (he will be 7 next week!). With a September birthday, he didn’t know enough kids at school last year for us to have one, and having attended two different preschools didn’t allow for a good group of friends to form by the time his birthday came around each year.

jh 7 bday party

my happy birthday boy!

He invited 6 kids, and 4 were able to come over for a 2-hour party with pizza, homemade Oreo truffle cupcakes, and ice cream. We decorated the kitchen with streamers and a fun banner that my friend Corrie printed for me for Bennett’s last party. A couple of balloons were tied to the mailbox and to JH’s chair at the kitchen table. The kids played with a giant whoopie cushion we have in our basement, played one relay game I’d planned (and weren’t that into it, so I let go of any ideas I had of more organized games), ate, opened gifts, and just played. Jack Henry said it was really fun. The other kids seemed to be having a good time.

jh party popcorn game

popcorn shoe relay race, found on spoonful.com

ice cream pinterest idea

excellent time-saving idea from pinterest…scoop ice cream into cupcake liners ahead of time, and pull out of the freezer when it’s time to serve dessert!

I’m sure it wasn’t the most earth-shattering day of any of their young lives. But it was a great celebration of my boy. He had fun. I didn’t put us in debt.

Win-win.

A Little Catch Up

This is long, I know. But it’s real, and everyone tells me I’m going to want to remember these times, so I know I have to write it down or it’s gone. That said, the last 4 days have looked a little like this:

Thursday
3:30am: I am awakened by strong thunderstorms that eventually turn into a tornado siren going off at…
5:30am: Wake boys and gather everyone in the basement. Turn on TV and realize that the tornado is nowhere near us, and send everyone back to bed. Which is kinda dumb because…
6:15am: it’s time to wake up for the day.
ALL DAY LONG: rotation of storms/hail/quiet for a few hours/more storms, knowing that very strong front is on it’s way around 7pm.
6:45pm: Tornado sirens go off well ahead of the impending storm…it’s still 45 minutes away, but we return to the basement, and stay there through…
8:20pm: seems like it’s over. Our front yard looks like this:

that's black mulch under there.

that’s black mulch under there.


8:30pm: boys are settled in their rooms
8:31pm: siren goes off again. Everyone to the basement.
8:40pm: all clear. Go back to bed.
8:50pm: Jack Henry is scared (for the first time in his life, I think) of all the sirens and storms, and doesn’t want to sleep alone. Executive decision made by me that he will instead go sleep in Bennett’s new room with him in the double bed. This is greeted by B with far less resistance than expected…he’s probably relieved he’s not alone either.
8:51pm: Luke decides he’ll just sleep on the floor in B’s room, too. Everyone, miraculously, just goes to sleep.

Friday
Normal day, really.
7:30pm: pick up coffee for Matt and a latte for me (serious turning point in my life: I can handle drinking a latte now despite my life-long absolute hatred of all things coffee!) at Starbucks drive-thru. Barista calls me sweetheart twice, which makes the 2 boys in my car giggle, and B ask, “seriously, why would he do that?”.
7:45pm: Matt’s mom and dad come into town to join us for part of the weekend! We meet at Luke’s game in the Chesterfield valley. Oh, it’s approximately 40 degrees and windy, making it feel like less than that.
9:50pm: game over. Absolutely frozen despite layers of winter coats, scarves, and blankets.
10:45pm: boys in bed. Time for drinking wine and chatting with Ron and Jo.

Saturday
1:00am: go to bed. Yeah. We stayed up kinda late but it was worth it.
6:20am: alarm goes off. I say to Matt, “Can you even imagine how tired we’ll be when we get to come home tonight at 10:30?”
7:30am: out the door headed to Forest Park for the Read, Right and Run Marathon, in a caravan with B’s friend Ty and his mom. For the first and only time (because it’s K-5), all of our boys are runners! 6000 kids are running (split into 2 groups) this year, and the organization of the event has clearly gotten away from them.
9:45am: boys finally nearing the starting point, so we head to watch near the finish line.
10:15am: we’ve seen Luke and Jack Henry cross the finish line…but where is Bennett?
10:30am: MASS CHAOS is the only way I can think to describe trying to get to the meeting spot for the boys after the race. I finally think to text my friend Robin, who was standing across the street from us, to see if she had seen B cross the finish line…the answer is yes, AND it was before Luke (crazy…I had no idea he could keep pace with Luke!)
11:10am: finally back to the van with everyone we came there with.

my 3 medalists!

my 3 medalists!


11:45am: pick up lunch at Which Wich, get home in bad traffic, eat, change, B opens his birthday gifts from his grandparents, and it’s out the door!
cool gifts from nana jo and papa ron!

cool gifts from nana jo and papa ron!


1:00pm: B and Matt to the ballpark. SIDENOTE: B’s team is comprised of 3 2nd-grade boys and 9 3rd graders, and they are playing in a league of 4th graders this year.
1:30pm: everyone else leaves – Ron, Jo and Luke to the ballpark, JH and me 30 minute away to his practice
2:00pm: B’s 1st game starts, JH’s practice starts
2:10pm: I get a quick jog in before…
3:00pm: pick up JH, head to ballpark
4:00pm: 2nd game starts
6:00pm: Ron and Jo head back to Effingham; we get dinner at BWW with some families from B’s team
8:00pm: game 3 of the day begins. Hard-fought, but the 3rd loss of the day.
10:15pm: home. Everyone to bed…but not before Bennett does his daily push-ups. Not even kidding…this kid just played baseball all day (and ran a short race in the morning), and he won’t let a day lapse without doing his push-ups. That’s dedication, and I wish I could say I was that devoted to keeping myself strong!
10:30pm: that should say “everyone to bed except the mama”, who has baseball pants to scrub and muddy coats to wash.

Sunday
12:15am: I go to bed.
8:30am: L, JH and me to church; Matt and B to the ballpark.
11:00am: all of us at the ballpark. B’s team loses game 4 of their tournament seeding games, making them the 3 seed (of 3 teams).
11:45am: celebrate B’s birthday with his teammates! B is grouchy, sore, and hangry (hungry+angry, it’s a real thing, especially in this family)
12:00pm: lunch at McAlister’s, during which time Matt tells me that Bennett’s baseball pants were filthy BEFORE the game even started because of the warm-up pop flies he’d been throwing him. I could’ve done without that information.
1:00pm: B’s mood has improved significantly after lunch and a couple of stern lectures about family and sacrifice yadda yadda
2:00pm: game 5 of the weekend). Truly, in terms of the tournament, the only game that was a must-win (to get to the championship game. And win they did! They kill it, and Bennett has an awesome game at the plate: 2 huge hits (a single and a double) and 3 RBIs.

i love watching this kid run the bases, and his dad coach him all the way around!

i love watching this kid run the bases, and his dad coach him all the way around!


ready to hit a double

ready to hit a double


batted in by the next batter after his double

batted in by the next batter after his double


4:00pm: championship game starts. They try hard, but lose 11-1, and are so proud of their 2nd place finish, especially in a league where they’re the youngest by far!
5:00pm: I bring JH and L, who are dirty and tired, home from the fields to shower and get ready for a sitter. I’m headed to small group at 6:00pm.

Matt and B come home at 7:30 and crash for the night, I get home at 8:45pm and our whole house is sound asleep by 9:30pm. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened since we had a newborn in the house.

Today, these kids are exhausted after their first full baseball weekend of the year, and so are Matt and I! Even having it be his birthday couldn’t get B up and moving very quickly this morning. We’re looking forward to a simple celebration tonight, and more sleep.

All About Bennett (Early Birthday Edition)

1. As a follow-up to this post on his coughing issue: it’s asthma. I’m certain. He’s been on a steroid inhaler for 2+ months now, and we’ve broken out the rescue inhaler twice and used it for a maximum of a week each time when he started a little bit of a cough. No daily coughing anymore! It’s such a relief to feel like we at least know what it is. Now, he can’t stay on this steroid inhaler forever, and will likely go off it after allergy season passes. So it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds after that, but at least now we know.

2. His head wound has healed so beautifully I can’t believe it! Just a perfect pink line all through his eyebrow, which is sure to fade with time. It’ll be slathered in sunscreen all summer, but he always is anyway.

3. On Saturday, Bennett had his first practice baseball game, and during warm-ups, somehow took a ricocheted flyball to the lip. Gotta love getting a call from your friend (and coach’s wife) who’s already at the game, alerting you to the fact that you may see B coming back from the concession stand with a bleeding lip and ice pack, but that she’s checked it and it doesn’t need stitches. Sigh.

4. We decided, rather rashly for our family, to convert the guest bedroom into a bedroom for Bennett, which means all 3 boys have separate rooms now! Bennett was all for this, and he will gladly give up his room and bunk with Jack Henry when we have company, which was the deal we made with him upon making the switch.

Of course, he chose Illini as his theme, which is really cool because we had all kinds of stuff to go in there. Take a little look around!

uncle jake...recognize that old poster??

uncle jake…recognize that old poster??

reading corner

reading corner

inside the closet...my fave ikea storage unit (expedit) with some old illini crates.

inside the closet…my fave ikea storage unit (expedit) with some old illini crates.

view from the door

view from the door

nightstand...hayley made that frame years ago! cutie-pie little illini bros pic from 2008.

nightstand…hayley made that frame years ago! cutie-pie little illini bros pic from 2008.

2 old tees stretched over a canvas on the left; a cross-stitch of the chief that matt's mom made for him in college.

2 old tees stretched over a canvas on the left; a cross-stitch of the chief that matt’s mom made for him in college.

I have to admit, even more than when Luke moved into his own room 2 years ago (very few changes were made to decor), this felt like doing a big kid’s room for the first time. Which made me a tiny bit sad, but it was also really fun that he had ideas and input.

5. As of next Monday, he’ll be 9. NINE. One year from double-digits. Halfway to leaving for college. Birthdays now bring about a sense of urgency in me…there’s still so much I want him to know, and the years to learn those things are just flying by. And when I get reflective about Bennett and who he is and what it’s like to parent him, I get kinda weepy…I don’t know, I just love him so much, and parenting him has been challenging beyond what I envisioned and made me grow and stretch and I’m thankful for that and just hope we’re doing what’s right and good for him (and his brothers, of course) all the time. Does that make any sense?

20140331-084722.jpg

He’ll spend the weekend leading up to his birthday playing baseball, and his love for the sport combined with his love for his team makes that the perfect way to celebrate.

2nd season of t-ball ( sadly, i have no pics of him playing his first season!)

2nd season of t-ball ( sadly, i have no pics of him playing his first season!)

he'd just turned 4 here.

he’d just turned 4 here.

There will be lots of little celebrations over the coming days that I’ll be sure to document!