Our Little Atticus Boy is 3!

At the end of November, our little Atticus boy turned 3!

It was actually a really hard day for me – because I was in Omaha with FangFang and not with him. I’d known for quite a while that her tibias needed to be rodded, and I knew that if at all possible, she and I and another adult needed to go to Omaha for the surgery. FangFang, at age 4 and with a history of trauma, is completely opposed to my leaving the room after surgery. She doesn’t want to stay with a nurse, and she doesn’t want to stay with child life. This is understandable – but makes it difficult for me to do surgery trips with her as the sole adult (unless I can carry everything we’ll need for our stay in one trip and have no interest in eating for the duration of our time in the hospital). I talked with my mom about her availability, and I talked with a friend whom FangFang loves about her availability, and it just kept coming back to that week of Atticus’s birthday – that’s when it worked for my mom to travel with us to do surgery.

So I talked to some other mamas of kids with medical needs, who assured me that, yes, they had occasionally missed a birthday for one of their other kids, and it had all been okay; I spent a day crying; and then I e-mailed to schedule the surgery.

Fortunately, Atticus is young enough that he has no real ties to the specific day, and he was quite happy to celebrate his birthday early. In fact, it was probably even more fun for him, because we had family in town for Thanksgiving. We did love getting to celebrate with everyone!

Our little guy is obsessed with dinosaurs these days. Just about every present he received was dinosaur-related. There were dinosaur toys…

…there were dinosaur books…

…and there were dinosaur clothes!

Atticus, like our other children, has what our pediatrician calls a “strong personality.” One way in which this manifests itself is his pronouncements that certain clothes are good and others are not, seemingly at random. We have kiddos who have sensory challenges and preferences, and this isn’t that – it’s just a decision he makes. So, unfortunately, while he wants to wear dinosaur clothes on a daily basis, he has also announced that half of these items of clothing are unwearable! Youngest child or not, he has no problem developing firm opinions of his own and making them known.

He is almost completely potty trained (hallelujah, I’m almost done with daytime diapers!!!!), which actually makes this clothing dilemma less of a big deal, because he is my only kiddo who has had most success with the nude method of potty training…so he mostly runs around naked all day long when we’re at home 🙂 We may not be a conventional family, but it works for us 🙂

Anyway, back to our birthday boy and his dinosaurs 🙂 Even with many new birthday dinosaur presents, he is still excited every time he finds a new dino item. He was my grocery shopping buddy soon after his birthday, and he saw this walking, roaring dinosaur at Aldi, and he was so excited when I said he could use his birthday money from my dad to purchase it!

Aside from his dinosaur focus, he also requested an ice cream focus for his birthday 🙂 He choose pizza and ice cream for his birthday dinner, which was greatly enjoyed by everyone!

About 3.5 years ago, when we found out that the baby with whom we were pregnant was a boy, I was a bit intimidated. I wondered whether I’d be a good boy-mom. I wondered if I’d love him the way I loved my girls. And now, with a little 3-year-old boy in my life, I can say unequivocally that this little guy is a treasure. Our Atta-boy has hilarious thoughts – I mentioned to him the other day something about when he was born in the hospital, and his response was, “I was not born in the hospital! I was born on the coffee table!” The girls and I dissolved in laughter, and I assured him that he was in fact, born in the hospital, and I offered photographs as proof (which he, fortunately, accepted!).

He’s a climber and a jumper, but he’s also a snuggler. He loves to laugh and play. I could not love this little guy more <3 I’m so thankful for the 3 years we’ve had with him so far and look forward to many more!

Madeleine CaiQun’s Birthday Celebration

Last month we celebrated Madeleine CaiQun’s 7th birthday! One thing that was super special about this year was that Matt’s mom and sister Stacey came to visit us the weekend of her birthday, so we had family here to help us celebrate, and that made the whole weekend seem like a fun treat. We don’t get to see them often, so it’s very special when we do.

Stacey had ordered a giant cardboard house for the kids to color, which the kids thought was amazing.

We talked to Mei Mei about how she’d like to celebrate her birthday, whether she wanted a party with friends or to go somewhere special, or what sounded best to her. I wondered what she’d choose – I thought she might say she wanted a party like Miranda did, not because that would necessarily be most enjoyable for her but because that’s what her sister had done. I was glad, though, that she thought about what she’d really like and chose accordingly. She said wanted to celebrate with just our family, to have a fun day at home, to get Chinese food for dinner, and have a pinata. We told her we could certainly make that happen!

She got some fun gifts, and we all enjoyed diving into them. The game Blokus will, I think, be a good one for our family, and Madeleine CaiQun is a very spatial thinker, so I think she’ll be good at it.

And she was happy to share her jewelry making kit with Miranda (she’s super generous), and of course both girls still love all things Star Wars!

I was exhausted – Madeleine CaiQun’s birthday fell at the end of the week during which FangFang’s tooth started hurting tremendously, and neither she nor Matt or I was getting much sleep – and by that afternoon I felt like I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence and went upstairs to get just a bit of sleep. Grandma Nancy and Aunt Stacey stepped in to help the girls make the birthday cupcakes, and then we all enjoyed Chinese food and cupcakes for dinner!

I love it when Madeleine CaiQun smiles – when she does, she radiates joy 🙂 She is such an incredibly sweet child and brings so much joy to our lives. That sweetness was evidenced by the fact that she was totally fine with sharing a bit of the spotlight on her birthday with little brother, who was incredibly jealous that she got to blow out a candle!

And, I blame it on my sleep deprivation, but I completely forgot about her pinata until the morning after her birthday! No worries – we had just as much fun with it then as we would have the day before 🙂 She had chosen a gigantic dinosaur pinata – the largest one at the store – to our amusement! We’d filled it with candy…

And then we let the kids take turns whacking it with a stick 🙂 Matt had to help a bit to get it to break open, but everyone was quite entertained by the whole experience!

Madeleine CaiQun is such a beautiful soul. She’s sweet and kind and has a strong sense of justice. She’s self-aware and thoughtful, and she loves to snuggle. I am so thankful to have her in our family <3

Happy birthday, Miranda Grace!

We’ve had a busy few weeks around here, and I have a lot of catching up to do here on the blog! First up: happy birthday, Miranda Grace! This little girl made me a mama 6 years ago, and I rather adore her!

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She is intelligent and creative and highly passionate! As the oldest, she is our parenting guinea pig, and I often feel that we fail her in one way or another, but we keep pressing on together, doing all that we can to figure out how to live this life well.

Upon realizing that birthday parties could have themes, Miranda requested a Choco birthday, a la A Mother for Choco. She had assumed that just as her cousin Averie had been able to have a party with all things Frozen, we would easily be able to pull together a variety of Choco-themed party-supplies – not so much! However, Grandma came through with Choco shirts for the girls, about which they were thrilled 🙂

IMG_0296Miranda also requested a pinata for her birthday. Matt played with the idea of making a Choco pinata for her. I wasn’t sure this was a good idea – in part because at Averie’s party, they’d had a new type of pinata in which a number of ribbons hang down, and the children take turns pulling ribbons until someone pulls the one that releases all the candy, and I wasn’t sure Miranda really understood that a homemade Choco pinata would mean beating Choco with a baseball bat until he broke open. Once we explained the idea to her, she seemed enthusiastic about that possibility, too, though. However, when I was at Target purchasing candy with which to fill her pinata, I noticed that they sold ready-made pinatas for only $15 – $20 and called Matt to ask if I should get one of those. That was rather fortuitous, as he was just realizing that he might have over-committed himself in his proposal to create a homemade Choco pinata. Fortunately, Miranda was agreeable to that option and excited to choose a Darth Vader pinata (ribbon style, which, honestly, is mama-preferred!).

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In years past, I’ve simply allowed the birthday child to select a boxed cake mix for their birthday, but this year, in keeping with our new diet, I thought I’d offer to make something from scratch – perhaps a carrot cake or an apple cake? After hearing my suggestions, Miranda announced that she’d like a raspberry cake – not something I’d ever heard of before, but I told her I’d give it a try!

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Fortunately she was pleased with the result!

She got some gifts, mostly from Grandma 🙂

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We gave her a few small presents, but our kids have SO MANY THINGS, and we’re trying to encourage them to value experiences over stuff, so our big gift to both of our girls for their birthdays this year is a family weekend in St. Louis filled with fun activities. They’ve been talking about it and asking exactly when it’s coming up, so I’m hopeful that they’ll really enjoy it!

All in all, we had a very fun day celebrating our wonderful girl 🙂 Even on our hard days, I’m so thankful she’s in my life and that I get to be her mama. We’re 6 years into this journey of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come!