Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Oliver.


Last Sunday you turned three. It's hard to believe that you're three. You are so wise beyond your years that I find myself learning from you.  Every day you find reasons to be happy. Joy emanates from you. You flirt with cashiers and waitresses. You shout "hi!" to people that pass us by. It makes me so happy to see you so happy.

I have never met anyone as caring as you. When I come home from a trip, you say, "I am so glad to see you!" If I'm out of your sight for a while you come in to check on me, asking, "Is everything okay in here?" You are always the first person to tell Colin, "Don't cry. It's okay, Colin. I'm right here."

And you are. You're always right there. You're the best big brother he could ever ask for. You can't stand to see him or anybody else hurting. If you see me looking sad or stressed, you tell me not to be. It's okay, you say. Tomorrow is a new day, you say, and it will be okay. You've been right every time. It always has been okay.

You're the sun in our family. Before you were born, we didn't know we were waiting in the dark for you. We didn't know that you would explode into our lives and we would suddenly, effortlessly revolve around you, basking in your warmth and light. You are our gravity, pulling us back down to earth when we forget the things that really matter. Everyone is pulled in by you. You pull strangers into our conversations, and before you know it, they too are talking about dinosaurs or the weather.

As far as you are concerned, everyone is a potential friend. You chat up the oldsters living in the senior apartments. You talk to babies, to kids, to adults. You have no worries about telling a tatted up biker that you're going to have a stegosaurus cake on your birthday. You accept people's requests for hugs and good-byes and I-love-yous.

I guess I don't know where I am going with this, except to say that I hope you never change. You are so loved. You are so good. I can't wait to celebrate you all over again next year.

Happy birthday. We love you, Oliver. It'd be impossible not to.

Family Orchard Trip 2012

Last weekend was a nonstop funfest. We had our annual apple orchard visit, Oliver's birthday party, and TWO trips to Chuck E. Cheese. Oliver had a blast. I'm working on getting Oliver's birthday photos rounded up, but for now you can enjoy our annual orchard photos.

Colin keeping warm in the Baby Limo.

Say "Cheese" in a tree.

Fine specimen.

Another great find by Oliver.

A boy, a stick, and a dirt road.

Pre-picking inspection.

Oliver's photography skills.

Colin enjoying his favorite apple.

Sword fighting.

Just the right height to pick.

Oliver and trusty stick.

Oliver showing Colin his apple.

Colin and a pumpkin.

Annual Apple Orchard Cut-out Family Photo Op

Pony ride all by himself.

No fears, this year.
There's nothing that makes you feel more like a family than having annual traditions. See you next year,  Minnesota Harvest.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Baby wrestling.

I frequently leave Colin lying on my bed while I go to the bathroom. I ask Oliver to watch him so that he doesn't roll off the edge.

Oliver's always happy to oblige, the proud big brother eager to tell the little brother what's what. But really I think Oliver just wants an excuse to wrestle the baby a little bit.

I admit that he may wrestle with the baby more than a little bit...

I warn Oliver to be gentle but he always is. There's a rule in our house that you can only wrestle the baby on the bed and you have to be gentle.

 Most households probably have stricter baby wrestling rules, but when I see how much they're both enjoying each other I just can't say no.

Could you say no to this?

Friday, September 14, 2012


Oliver started preschool last week. I thought he might cry a little bit, but I didn't have any doubts that he'd like it once I left.  I knew he was ready. Parents were asked to stay for the first half hour of class, so I got to watch him interact with the other kids. When his turn came to stand up and introduce himself during circle time, he stood up and declared,

"I'm Oliver the Boy Human!"

The parents laughed. Most kids were busy picking at their shoes, their noses, their fancy first-day outfits. I was a bit embarrassed, but... At least he's orginal, right? The kid is rocking his own beat and I won't be the one to discourage him.

When the time came for parents to leave, I set him up with an easel next to his new buddy. He looked up at me and said, "Okay now, Mom. It's time for you to go."

Amongst the other crying children, it was a relief that he told me I could go. Just like that. He was ready. I would have felt terrible if I had had to walk out on him crying. But he was ready.

He started swimming lessons last week, too. I really doubted that he'd enjoy swimming lessons since gymnastics was such a bust. I had all kinds of coping strategies planned out in case he started screaming.

But I didn't need them.

He walked into the water with me. He listened to the instructions. He got his head wet. He practiced the back float and front float.  He went down the water slide all by himself not just once, but three times.

After seeing how he handled last week, I have to give him a lot of credit. He's not even three years old and he's so much braver than I am or I ever was. He told me he was scared at first, but he walked into something completely new and different. He gave it a shot. That's more than a lot of people, kids or adults, can do when they're scared.

As selfish as this is, I've been giving myself a pat on the back. I helped him to become this way. He's well-adjusted enough to handle change and do things that seem scary. Most of all, I'm proud that he trusts me enough when I say, "Yes, you can do it!" to go and do it. I'm proud that he trusts that I'll be there to catch him at the end of the water slide and to pick him up when preschool is done.

A few of the parents were crying after they dropped off their kids. I guess they were sad that their babies were growing big. I won't say that I didn't understand where they were coming from. But seeing your kid go into the world on his own and use the things that you taught him? That's amazing.