Grey turns 13

It seems like just a few days ago that I was taking pictures like this:

Grey’s 0th birthday

But somehow, I now find myself hosting the 13th birthday party I’ve thrown for my eldest son. That’s right, folks, he was born 14 years ago. My son is officially a teenager. I’m sorry. I know many of you remember reading about how incredibly late his arrival was. Yes, I’ve been blogging before he was born. You read about baby Grey, and listened to me anticipating his firsts (most of which came early – having a kid walk at 7 months SOUNDS great until you have a 7 month old who can walk and then it sounds awful). You remember the cute early mispronunciations.

I realized last night that when I was pregnant with Grey, phones did not have applications. Only teenagers texted. And when we wanted the internet, we booted up computers. Whoa.

On this advent of his teenagerness, I wanted to take a moment and remember the little kid, I used to have. In honor of that, I’ve pulled together an album of pictures from all Grey’s birthdays. I have to admit that our cake game has definitely fallen in recent years.

Daycare birthday

1st birthday
Grey had two – one at daycare with Abuela, and then one we hosted with our friends to celebrate having survived a year of parenting.
Here’s what I wrote at the time. The incredible blue of his Grover cake frosting led to a blue-tinged boy for a while.

Grey’s 2nd birthday

2nd birthday
This year featured Spongebob on the birthday cake. It seems like another world when he loved Spongebob. I remember he had this ‘fridge magnet that played music & he liked to dance to at this age. I was starting to move from short form to longer form writing, and have a pretty comprehensive 2nd birthday writeup.

Grey’s 3rd birthday

3rd birthday
This is the first one I wrote on this blog platform. I was heavily pregnant with his younger brother at the time of this birthday. It’s also the first time we see Lincoln make an appearance. Lincoln will be in pretty much every birthday party from this point forward.

I’m four, mom.

4th birthday
I did not actually write a birthday update, but this anecdote update is a pretty fun overview of what Grey was like as a 4 year old. He already knew the fine art of flattery! We were still in Spongebob, with a Gary the snail cake.

Grey’s 5th birthday

5th birthday
Ha! It’s pretty funny to see me thinking that a five year old was Very Grown Up. Eight years later my son is pretty much my height, and a bass.

Lined up for pinata by age

6th birthday
This was the first year that Grey was in school! My writeup indicates it was also the beginning of role-playing and Pokemon.

CHUCK E CHEESE!

7th birthday
Apparently seven was all about the Legos. You never actually outgrow Legos, but they have definitely diminished in their importance over time. We did this one at Chuck E. Cheese, at his request. I’ve never returned to that place since.

Birthday dinner at Kyotoya

8th birthday
The 8th birthday party was pretty epic. A handful of friends were invited to Canobie Lake Park, then we had sushi for dinner (he’s liked sushi for a long time) and then home for Minecraft cake. I’m apparently full of disbelief every birthday that my little guy could be so very big!

All six Lego kids. These guys are Lego fanatics.

9th birthday
I think this year was a combined birthday party for both boys in the then-newly-opened Lego adventure. Then we came home & did Mentos and Coke in the back yard. I’m writing this year from a room away from a collection of near-teen boys, and every third word out of their mouths is STILL “dude”.

Sunday after soccer

10th birthday
It’s also kind of crazy to watch how my living room has changed through the years, along with my son. Laser tag that year! Also, I bought cans of Reddi-whip and let the kids pour it directly into their mouths. Because that’s what he wanted.

The sleepover-type birthday

11th birthday
Grey’s 11th birthday is a lot like his 13th is currently shaping up as, except that there are two computers and two XBoxes all linked together. Grey still makes cake often.

Nearly identical to this year

12th birthday
I didn’t write a “Grey is 12” post last year. I’m not sure why not – my blogging velocity is way slower now than it used to be. I’m not really writing a “this is Grey” post this year. He reads all my posts, and there are many things he considers to “cringey” to allow to post.

But I’ll tell you this – I deeply proud of my 13 year old. He’s turning into a person I respect, and one that I really enjoy spending time with. Some things I thought I saw when he was little haven’t come to pass, but other things have remained true about my son. His deep empathy, his old-soulness, his articulateness and unexpected kindnesses… all those seem to be things that have remained true.

The busiest time of the year

My six year old
My six year old

Autumn is my favorite season. The crispness and crackle in the air makes life feel more vibrant and immediate. I love the start of school and the apples and colors on the trees. Autumn is a time of itchy feet and revealed horizons and sparkling skies.

It is also, without a doubt, my busiest time of year. And I have a hunch that this will only get worse as time goes on. The busy season really starts with my birthday on September 23rd, which almost always coincides with Must Watch Baseball. Then in the first week of October, my eldest has his birthday. I get a week’s reprieve in which to go apple picking and make apple butter before my husband’s natal day arrives, followed a week later by my youngest son’s. And two out of seven years, the child’s birthday does not fall on a weekend. This means that I really have to do things on two days that week, because how lame is it to have your birthday and no cake? Almost as lame as having your birthday party and no cake, that’s how lame. So…. two cakes.

Three days after Mr. Thane’s birthday is Halloween, aka my worst holiday. (I am totally a “Let’s go to a store and buy you a costume” kind of Halloweener.) Of course, if the Sox are in the playoffs, my evening schedule also involves finding ways to sneak in the game because (as Sox fans are so keenly aware this year) we don’t make the playoffs every year. (This year the complicating role of baseball has been played instead by knee surgery and twice-weekly physical therapy.) Less than two weeks after Halloween, I host a Thanksgiving type meal for around 30 people – all sitting down to eat simultaneously.

Immediately after Mocksgiving (or preferably prior), it’s time to start with the Christmas cards. I usually do about 80. I almost always write a personal note. It is meaningful and important to me and takes nearly two months.

Did I mention I have a full time (plus) job, and two small children and a house to keep and (now) cookies to bake for the PTO bake sale at the Halloween xtravaganza that happens a week before Halloween, thereby narrowing my window for successful creation of costumes? Also, are any of you dying to buy raffle tickets to the cash raffle at said Halloween party?

Also, the inexorable exhortations of my soul require autumnal reading of ghost stories and preferably a good spooky game of Cthulu.

So if I’m running around like a one-legged mother of a six year old (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!) on a hamster wheel until New Year’s…. well, you know why.

Why the summers seem so short

This year I think I’ve figured out why summers seem half as short as any other season. The simple fact is: they are shorter.

Consider. Summer officially starts June 20th or thereabouts. June 20th is reasonable for summer starting. By the end of June, we’re pretty reliably above freezing and most of the snow has melted. Then you have July, which is really summer. (Except this year, when it was May Take II.) For me, the first week of August we have our big vacation of the year where I go home and hike Mt. Rainier and relax while my kids are entertained by my parents. I come back August 10thish a bit more tan and a bit more relaxed. But as soon as the tires of my Jetblue redeye touch down at Logan, I’m into planning for fall.

It’s not summer that’s weird. It’s fall that’s weird. No other season requires so much advance planning. I don’t plan for summer. I don’t plan for spring. I plan for Christmas, but not for winter. But well in advance of the calendar start of fall (September 20th or thereabouts), I’m planning.

Part of this is due to my own unique circumstances. Let’s look at my autumnal schedule, shall we?

*September 23rd – my birthday (generally ignored)
*October 6th – Grey’s birthday (big deal)
October 12th – my FIL’s birthday (we miss you Mike)
October 16th – my sister’s birthday (I sometimes scrape up a card)
*October 21st – my husband’s birthday (err… I usually buy something for him off his Amazon wishlist)
*October 28th – Thane’s birthday (what am I going to do for his first?)
October 29th – my niece’s birthday (make with the loot already!)
*November 14th (this year) – Mocksgiving (huge big hosting deal that requires lots of forethought)

Items with an asterisk require me to do party planning if a party is going to happen (which is a longer and longer shot with the grownup birthdays).

Add to that the typical things that need doing in fall — a new wardrobe for the kids, a new Saturday activity for Grey (we’ve settled on aikido), starting preschool, prepping the house for winter (cleaning gutters, furnace maintenance, mulching, etc.), Halloween, Thanksgiving and all that.

Finally, toss in a good measure of church starting back up. Now church doesn’t close down, but we have a more moderate schedule over the summer. Our committees meet less often. We don’t have quite as many events. There’s no Sunday School (we do have a kids’ event). There’s less extra work. But there’s a lot to be done for fall: the Fall lunch, the pumpkin party, lining up teachers to teach, ordering curriculum, the Sunday School launch party… all sorts of seasonal things. (Many of which I should probably start thinking about since the loss of a member has made us very shorthanded for some.)

Well, of course I had better start planning for fall by the middle of August! But what this means is that the amount of time I’m in summer and thinking of summer is about 6 weeks — from the end of June to the middle of August. Although there’s another 6 weeks of summer left on the calendar, my mind is already engaged with the fun season of autumn and has left summer behind.

Hmmm… I’m not actually sure I’m glad I wrote out all the things I need to do in Fall. Because right after I get those done we’re in Christmas. Ah well. As one of my professors used to always say (which, to be fair, drove me absolutely bonkers in college), “Life is rich and full.”