And So It Begins

He’s lost his two bottom teeth already, but the loss of the top front tooth seems so big to me. He will no longer look like a little boy. The fact that he kept his baby-teeth-filled-smile until he was seven (“and a quarter!”) made me happy.

It kept him little for a little while longer.

As these new big teeth grow in, we will get our first glimpse at the person he is going to become.

And so begins a long time of funny toothless pictures!

It’s going to be awesome.

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Halloween 2014

He lasted an hour this year.

Halloween 2014

That’s at least fifteen minutes longer than last year, and every year before that I’m pretty sure we made it to only a handful of houses before he declared that he was done.

Halloween 2014

When I think back to Halloween as a child, I remember staying out for every possible minute of Trick or Trick. The second we were allowed on the streets we were out there, and not until the last light went out at the farthest stretches of the street did we run home to count our candy.

Alex doesn’t need to do that. At least not yet. For now, he’s perfectly happy to spend about an hour walking around, saying “Trick or Treat!”, running back up to the same house when he realizes he forgot to say “thank you!”…

Life is good for boys named Alex.

Halloween 2014

Summer Learning

I may not have helped Alex advance in his reading/writing/’arithmetic skills as much as I would have liked, but he has learned a lot this summer.

Classic kid learning, which may be the best kind, has been a big part of this summer for Alex. The kind of kid learning that sticks with you well into adulthood. The kind of kid learning that often comes out when drinking with other adult friends, or reminiscing with people you’ve known forever. The kind of kid learning that only happens by osmosis.

Alex has learned how to make various types of bracelets/necklaces:

Taking a break.

The ones that I remember making obsessively in summer camp as a kid were not this cool. They were with boring ol’ string, of various colors, of course, or that really stiff plastic rope. I tried to explain this to Alex, but he didn’t understand why I didn’t just make a thousand rainbow looms a day like he does.

He’s learned hand slapping games galore. I’m sure if you asked my mom, she would groan at the memory of me constantly reciting them on my own, and repeating them over and over when I had friends over. (Miss Mary Mac Mac Mac, all dressed in black, black, black…)


There is another thing Alex has learned this summer. One that is not so typical of what I think about childhood summers, but it seems that now Alex knows only this. And this one will come back to haunt him as he has to unlearn it, I’m sure.

This summer Alex has learned that he always wins. Even if your mother eloquently explains to you how the odds are not in your favor, and in fact stacked against you, and don’t get your hopes up, and blah blah blah.

Big spiel about how these games are designed for you to lose, blah blah, and he goes and wins. Of course.

Even if the chances of you being the one summer camper to bring home the poster that you all decorated is slim to none. Even if not a single other camper won some carnival game because it isn’t designed to be won. Even if there is a 0.0001% chance of winning. (Maybe I should take the kid gambling.)

I mean, really? What more does a kid need to learn?

July 26

Worn Out

Christmas was amazing. It didn’t go exactly as planned, with me diagnosed with strep throat two days prior, and Alex’s grandmother heading to the emergency room on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve celebrations. Then Christmas day, all day, celebrations. Then Christmas part two on Friday. All with strep. All with a sniffly kid (no strep, just a cold). And a sniffly Daddy. And a Super Unhappy Sick Virus Infested Nana.

Still. It was amazing.

But by the end of Christmas Part II, even Alex was ready for a return to normal life:

Christmas Part II (Dec 27th)

I’m sad it’s over, but can’t say that The Kid is wrong. It will be nice to return to our slightly slower paced life.

Rest in Peace, John

Zach, Alex, and I just came back from a quick, three-night, trip to Colorado.

Colorado Trip 2013

My family lives…everywhere. Here in Pittsburgh it is simply my mother and the three of us; my grandparents are in Florida; my uncle and aunt are in California; great uncle and great aunts in Colorado; second (or something? I never can seem to keep it straight) cousins in Tennessee. Needless to say, it isn’t easy for all of us to get together.

In fact, the last time I saw the whole family was 10 years ago. In those ten years I graduated from high school, graduated from college, had Alex, graduated from nursing school, and am on my third job since graduating from nursing school. Each and every family member has changed and grown in various ways, too.

I’m sad to say that it took a death in the family for all of us to get together again.

My great aunt lost her husband a few months ago. When he passed, it was decided that everyone who could would gather in Colorado for services.

We spent our three nights in a very funky house way up in the mountains with a few family members. Zach and my grandfather managed to light the grill for dinner our first night with a small lighter and the handle of a shopping bag. Between all of us, we easily killed 50 flies that were constantly in the kitchen. On our last night there, I saw a mouse scurry under a kitchen cabinet.

Alex very much enjoyed seeing new (to him) members of the family: he had never met most of them.

On our last night, we all gathered in the library at the retirement community my great uncle and great aunt reside in, a beautiful place right in Boulder. Various members of the family spoke of our lost family member’s life: his intelligence, smile, total humbleness even in the absolutely amazing things he had done, his love of bacon, high-waisted brown polyester pants, and how he was there for many of us during trying times. Pictures were shared. Chocolate covered bacon was passed around.

Alex was with us throughout the services. He sat on my lap for the first few minutes, but, as any kid would have, he got restless quickly. People were crying, stories were told, and Alex wasn’t quite able to get it.

I was initially worried about how the rest of the family would react to Alex on the floor, silently playing with a small airplane-that-turns-into-a-pen, rolling back and forth as he looked from one person to another. Zach offered to take him out of the room.

But as I continued to watch everyone, it seemed that his presence was not only tolerated, but wanted. The death of someone in the family is hard; losing the eldest member of our family is devastating. But being able to look at the newest generation quietly playing on the floor seemed almost grounding. I watched my uncle, great aunt, cousins, smile at Alex as he looked at them. Blow kisses through their tears.

I think Alex did exactly what was needed: he recognized the importance, the gravity, of what was happening around him and remained silent, but as a five-year-old he wasn’t able to stay completely still. He respected the room, quietly playing, and brought lightness to a dark time.

Colorado Trip 2013

Alex never met his great-great uncle. I only met him once, and it was many, many, years ago. Too long ago to even remember. But as I watched his family, my family, Alex’s family, I didn’t need to know him to feel the sadness of losing him. He will be missed by us all.

Rest in Peace, John.