Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Gratitude in Pictures

On Wednesday night, the kids and I went to the airport to pick up Dylan. It had been a very busy day. I'd been at the hospital all day for clinicals, and when I got home I had an hour to make four pie crusts, vacuum, and clean the kitchen before Lyndsay and Aiden would get home from piano lessons and we could head out the door. We were so excited to see him. I told the kids, "Listen, I get the first hug. Nobody better get in my way." My only fearless competition proved to be Conor. When we saw him walking down the corridor we were thrilled! I jumped into his arms and started crying. Of course. He was sweet and happy--even gave me a squeeze hug and picked me up off the ground, which thrilled my heart. He's grown! He's officially 6 feet tall now, with washboard abs and a broad chest and strong arms, all of which he was proud to show off. It was wonderful to look at him again and see all of my children together.

When we got home, though it was dark outside, he still decided to hang Aiden's new punching bag for me right then. That was hugely impressive to Aiden, who has missed his big brother, and the two of them worked outside rigging lights and extension cords and finally getting it up in the roof of the carport.

Thanksgiving morning, after blueberry pancakes, they were all outside again, constructing an improved version of the rope (hose) swing that Aiden had begun last weekend, and giving Conor "kiss the tree" rides, which pretty much means, push him so high that he flies into the branches and leaves. He loved it.

Then they came in for some friendly light saber battles.

They pretty much each took a turn dominating, so that was good. And it was hilarious to watch. And slightly terrifying. Every now and then I'd remind them, "We don't have insurance!"

Caitlin and Sean were here to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with us. I've so missed having all six of the kids around the table. Dinner was delicious. So are the leftovers.

On Friday, we celebrated Aiden's birthday, which is actually today, but we wanted Dylan to be here for his party. We were able to sweet talk the man at the tree lot to sell us a beautiful noble fir before the lot was officially open for business, and Dylan and his friend Brad were pretty much crucial to getting the tree off the car, into the house, and into the stand.

Then the boys strung the lights.

And the kids and I hung the decorations.

I think my kids are growing up too much. This is a big tree and they're completely blocking it!

In the evening, we all went bowling for Aiden's birthday. Here's my sweet almost 12 year old. I cannot believe he is going to be 12!

Adam was there too. He took this picture. And, he's a pretty good bowler.

These two really missed each other.

And little Conor was a hit. He got several strikes and spares and beat all the other kids the first game.

And boy, was he so happy to have his Dylan around.

We stopped for a pizza on the way home and then enjoyed cake and ice cream. Aiden's choice? Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and this one was fantastic! Between this cake and all the pumpkin pies we've been eating, I'm thinking we're all good in the beta carotene department.

And he made his wish. I'm not sure what it was, but mine would be that he never grows up. Of course, based on past experience, I know that one's not likely to come true, so I'll go with hoping that if he has to grow up, that he stays as kind, forgiving, sharing, helpful, polite, hard-working, thoughtful, and companionable as he is now.

At 5:00 this morning I took Dylan back to the airport for his flight home to his dad. It was hard to let him go, but I feel content inside, and I know he'll be back in a couple of weeks for Christmas.

What a great weekend. I am one grateful mama.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Old Soul, Little Body

I was studying on the couch a few weeks ago, and Conor was busy on the floor next to me. I paid him no mind until I heard him say softly to himself, "Aiden is going to be sooo proud of me." He got up, satisfied, and was leaving the room, when I looked over to see what had inspired his self-confidence. There sat a chess board, perfectly set up. "Wait, did you do that?" I asked. "Yep," was his reply. I looked more closely, and darn if that kid--who just turned 5--didn't have every piece in its proper place.

I was impressed. But not as much as when I came back into the room later and found them both playing. And Conor had a sizable collection of Aiden's pieces. I was shocked! He knew the names of every piece and he knew how every piece moved! He was actually playing chess with Aiden (who, if you remember, is our little chess champion).

Apparently, Aiden taught him to play. He took an afternoon and taught him each piece, its moves and position. He said pawns capturing diagonally, though they move frontwards, was the hardest part for Conor to remember, but he got it, that kid.

I'm telling you, he thinks he's a grown up. The hardest part about kindergarten for him is the fact that everyone else in his class is 5. He loves school, and he's doing very well. Reading, counting, adding. One of his favorite parts is seeing the teachers, crossing guards, playground attendants, other parents, and bus drivers, many of whom he knows by name. Some he even has regular special hand signals or high fives as he passes them by each morning or afternoon. The students? Well, he tolerates them. After all, they are only 5 years old, so he tries to be patient with them. He told me the other day that sometimes he feels like a jerk. (Well, he has no real "r" sound yet, so at first I thought he said he felt like a "joke", and I said, "No, no, honey, you're not a joke! You're a great kid!") I find it interesting that he's analyzing himself in the way in which he interacts with others. We talked about it, he shared some interesting insights, and then I concluded, "Then, don't be a jerk." He's my 4th kid, you'd think I'd have more sage advice, but this one throws me for a loop constantly.

If you saw my status post on Facebook, you heard about how he decided to clean up the family room, just because it was messy. His mess, I might add. Toys strewn about. I would have told him eventually to clean it up, but he walked right in, noticed it, and said, "I better clean this up!" I praised him for noticing and cleaning up without even being asked, to which he replied, "That's because I'm being proactive." That's right, Proactive. I'll say. He hears his school principal talk about being proactive every Friday after announcements. But who listens to the school principal, you know? And who adds her vocabulary to his and incorporates it into his character? Well, my kid, that's who. My adult-loving, kid-tolerating kindergartener.

Gotta love him. He's very entertaining. I highly recommend a conversation with him, if you ever get the chance.