Category Archives: birthday

#thisis7

I see this hashtag all the time. If it’s not #thisis7, then it’s #thisis5 or #thisis3. Parents capture a moment in time that epitomizes their child’s age, smack a filter on it, and post it on social media.

I’m not criticizing it. Unless you’re posting naked pictures of your kid. Then I am criticizing it because stop it.

I’ve done it myself. Not the naked thing, the hashtag thing. There are moments that exemplify the sweetness of two, the irrationality of three, the stubbornness of four, or the pride of five.

The generalization of ages and stages are largely true. Most one-year-olds are delicious…

thisis1

…and most four-year-olds are silly…

thisis4C

…but it’s also subjective. I’ve seen a #thisis4 caption on a picture of a kid riding a bike with no training wheels and a #thisis5 caption on a picture of a kid eating sushi.  Neither were remotely like my four or five.

There is no truer depiction of #thisis6 to me than than this.

statueofliberty

Six is bored and “hangry” and MY FEET HURT at the Statue of Liberty so everyone else must suffer, too.

But #thisis6, too.

thisis6B

And so is this.

thisis6A

And this.

rileyleaves

Is my six anything like your six? Maybe, maybe not.

But #thisis[fill in the age] isn’t really for everyone else. It’s for us. Our relentless desire (need? obsession?) to capture perfect (I use that term loosely) snapshots of our kids personifying their age comes from a place of love and pride, and in many cases, from debilitating guilt over not making proper baby books. Besides that, it keeps Facebook memories, #tbt, and apps like Chatbooks in business.

We all think our kids are the bee’s knees, and that’s okay. My sometimes grumpy, blue-eyed superhero gamer is seven today and he’s #oneofakind.

He drinks a cup of Kefir every morning like coffee. (Seriously. Do not make eye contact until he’s had his Kefir.)

He’s a self-proclaimed computer nerd.

He wants to create a YouTube channel where he can review video games and toys.

He plays Minecraft, Roblox, and other computer games with the skills of an unemployed 20-something who lives in his parents’ basement. (Ruh roh.)

His gamer name is Nutty Riles.

His friends at school call him Nutty.

When he grows up, he wants to be a scientist and find a cure for diabetes.

He loves to draw.

He hates pants.

He has training wheels on his bike.

He doesn’t know how to tie his shoes.

He has some serious boyhood angst about having a name (Riley) that’s for girls, too.

He loves getting mail, “reading” Oriental Trading catalogs, and circling everything he wants. When he does this bizarre activity, he always circles luau-themed foam can covers for his Daddy’s beer.

He remembers every single time he’s seen me cry.

He has no front teeth.

He says “Bro.” A lot.

Last week, he had a threenager tantrum because I wouldn’t let him eat a cookie right before dinner.

When he cries (for real), tears don’t stream down his cheeks. They squirt a good six inches from his face.

He hates having his hair washed.

He loves scotch tape.

He believes in God.

He lights up when he sees an empty box he can turn into a racecar or an airplane.

He’s a good friend.

He loves bread. We call him the Bread King.

He’s #mybaby.

rileybaby

He’s was so excited to celebrate his 7th birthday at school that he wore a cape for the occasion. Makes perfect sense.

rileybday7

Happy birthday, Bro.

rileyminecraft7

#thisis7

 

 

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September, September, September

leaves

When I run up a steep hill, I chant, “Sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries,” for motivation. During the long, hot, sticky, and unstructured weeks of summer, I chant, “September, September, September.”

I love September. I love the weather. I love the foliage. I love the clothes. I love the warm cider and apple donuts. I love the new television season. I love the fresh start and the feeling that anything is possible. I love it all, and I want nothing more than to revel in this most wonderful time of the year.

In case you didn’t notice, it’s October. I wish I could tell you I’m late writing this September love letter because I’ve been so busy savoring every moment, but it’s not. It’s because I’ve been so busy. That’s all. Just busy.

This time of year is a whirlwind. There are birthdays and anniversaries and back to school nights and soccer games and doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences and books to (want to but never actually) read and pumpkins to carve and Halloween costumes to order and crafting fantasies (and failures) and flu shots and school projects and more birthdays and anniversaries and holiday shopping and party planning and the grand finale of ThanksgivingHanukkahChristmasNewYears, at which point I’ll surely chant, “sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries.”

September is like a scrumptious amuse-bouche. It’s a delectable, bite-sized start to an epic meal that always leaves me stuffed to the gills and incapable of taking another bite before the main course ever arrives (except for sweet potato fries because there’s always room for sweet potato fries).

Outside, the trees are turning gorgeous shades of orange, yellow, and red, and I keep telling my boys, “Look up, look up, look up,” because soon the branches will be bare, the wind will whip, the deep cold will settle in, and the next time I come up for air will be mid-January, at which point I’ll wistfully chant, “Summer, summer, summer,” followed almost immediately by, “September, September, September.”

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Filed under anniversary, birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Hanukkah, holidays

On The Fence About 40

fence

I’m a Libra. I don’t know a whole lot about astrological signs and I mostly think horoscopes are silly, but there’s one Libra personality trait that has always struck a chord with me. Libras are said to be indecisive, and I am quite possibly the most indecisive person I’ve ever met besides my husband, who also happens to be a Libra.

Many moons ago, when we lived in New York City, we’d roam the streets for hours at night deciding what to eat for dinner. Thai? That might work. How about Indian? Maybe. What about this place? I don’t know…

We always ended up somewhere, but I’m not sure if it was where we wanted to go or if it was just late and we were tired, frustrated, and starving. After 13 years of marriage, we still suck at planning ahead and we still wander the streets not deciding where to eat. The only difference now is that we pay a babysitter by the hour, which makes our collective indecision a costly proposition.

Today is my 40th birthday, and, not surprisingly, I’m undecided about how I feel about it. There’s the whole 40 is the new 30 thing, but I’m not exactly sipping the Kool-Aid. I mean, I feel pretty good and I’m relatively healthy, but I have cleavage wrinkles, eating pizza makes my stomach hurt, and I recently looked down instead of up at a mirror and saw neck sag. Neck sag! If I recall – and by the way, recalling is harder now than it was a few years back – neck sag wasn’t on my radar screen a decade ago. I’m starting to wonder if the expression, “Forty is the new 30,” was invented by someone who was 30.

Even if I do kinda sorta look 40 (whatevs), I don’t feel 40. Forty is for grown-ups, and I hardly ever feel like a grown-up. There was that one time when I did the math and realized one of the boys’ Kindergarten teachers graduated Kindergarten when I graduated college. Ugh, that was a moment. But mostly, whenever I’m forced to do grown-up things like attend parent-teacher conferences, sign mortgage documents, remove dead rats from the house, or compare car insurance quotes, I almost always look over my shoulder for the responsible adult in the room because surely it’s not me. Even motherhood hasn’t convinced that I’m in grown-up territory. I’ve birthed babies, for Pete’s sake, but I still feel like a kid.

I remember vividly when my mom turned 40. I was 12 years old, and now – in the blink of an eye – I’m standing in her shoes. At ages eight and six, my boys don’t seem concerned at all that I’m about to be over the hill. In fact, when I suggested that they think long and hard about what to do for me on this behemoth of a birthday, they decided – far too quickly if you ask me – to buy me socks. Obviously, they’re not Libras.

Let’s face it. Turning 40 is about more than looking or feeling the part. It’s also about the inescapable urge to draw a line in the sand and compare what we have and haven’t accomplished. Imagine the conflict this creates for an indecisive girl like me. Do I wallow in what I haven’t achieved or bask in my future potential?

I haven’t written a book… but I’m committed to a daily writing practice.

I haven’t run a marathon… but I run regularly. I ran a 10K last year at a faster pace than I did when I was 26.

I haven’t gone back to work… but what does back even mean after eight years of stay-at-home motherhood? Forward is where I’m headed.

I left my dance career too soon… but dance never left me. I recently took a ballet class, and it brought me great joy (and immense pain in my thighs).

I didn’t try for a girl… but I did! Her name is Gertrude Glenn (woof!).

I haven’t lost the baby weight… but don’t yo-yo diet anymore. I eat well and exercise regularly, and my body isn’t pissed off all the time.

I don’t have a lot of friends… but I have forever friends.

I haven’t conquered my anxiety… but my extreme worry has on occasion served me well. It was my anxiety that lead me to diagnose my boys’ sensory differences, discover the basal cell carcinoma on my face, and get a colonoscopy that uncovered a pre-cancerous polyp when I was just 35.

I haven’t traveled enough… but I’m only 40?

Is it possible to wallow and bask? Is it possible to accept neck sag and relish in a grand plié? Is it possible to fear car insurance quotes and boldly run up hills? Another common trait of Libras is the desire for balance. Maybe I don’t have to decide whether or not I’ve achieved enough, whether or not I’m qualified to be a grown-up, or whether or not my body is shriveling. Maybe the answer – the equilibrium – rests somewhere in the middle.

Today, I’m certain of a few things. I’m taking a yoga class (or taking a long walk…I haven’t decided yet), I’m getting a haircut, and I’m attending the kids’ back to school night because I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my 40th birthday than to squeeze my ass into a tiny elementary school desk and learn about the horrors of common core math. The real celebration will happen this weekend when my husband, who also celebrated his birthday this week, and I will hit the streets of New York City like the old days. Just don’t ask me what we’re doing for dinner because I haven’t decided.

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