Simon’s 11th birthday

It started right after Christmas with Simon, this sudden and deep desire of his to own a puppy. He spent hours begging for a puppy and would often show us screenshots of available puppies from various Google searches. It didn’t matter to him if the litter was in Texas and were show-dog quality. A litter of puppies was available!

In my head, this yearning for a puppy feels like the beginning of the end of his childhood and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this is my last-ditch effort to keep him young. He’s 11 years old now and it won’t be long before puppy love has been replaced by real love. A love of friends, of soccer, of running and iPhones, of (gasp) girls will all be more important than anything I have to offer at home.

So with these thoughts in mind and his birthday looming closer and closer, I began the reluctant search for a puppy. We wanted something that would be interested in running, but not any bigger than our 70 lb. Labrador. I also wanted something that doesn’t shed, as I spend enough time vacuuming the floor. We also didn’t want anything ridiculously expensive.

Simon, meanwhile, was none the wiser to our secret searches.

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On the day of his birthday, we had him sit on the porch and wait while Matt and I ran to Great-Grandma’s to retrieve the box. Roan and Rowdy had almost ruined the surprise by telling Simon that they bought him puppy treats for his birthday. We tried to deflect by pointing out that there was no puppy (Do you see a puppy, Simon?) and that he was going to be VERY disappointed when he opened the box. We also mentioned that although Lizzy girl is an older dog, she would probably appreciate some new treats.

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Our one great mistake is that we didn’t get a video recording of him opening his present. It doesn’t matter because I don’t think Matt and I will ever forget him exclaiming, “IT’S A PUPPY! IT’S A PUPPY!” while quickly wiping away tears.

When he opened the box and saw this little sweet German Shorthair Pointer, I believe that he was completely and utterly shocked.

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He named her Kit-Kat, like the candy bar, which is ironic as Simon doesn’t like candy bars at all. I really wanted to name her Little Ann from the story, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” which is about a boy who desperately wants a puppy. I was vetoed, however, which is fine because she’s not my puppy.

If it were up to me, we wouldn’t even have a puppy. I was perfectly fine with our (neglected) fish tank, hamster, cat, and geriatric dog.

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But like so much in life, this puppy isn’t really about me. It’s more about a boy and the desires of his heart. Who am I to say no to that? Yes, Kit-Kat will be responsibility and lots of work. Yes, she will potty on the floor and dig in the garden. Yes, she will probably run all over the neighborhood.

My hope, however, lies in the fact that one blond-headed, gapped tooth, freckled face kid is chasing after this green-eyed little beauty. It won’t be long before Simon’s eyes find something else pretty to chase, I just know it. So for now, he’s deeply in the trenches of puppy love and I couldn’t be happier.

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Happy 11th birthday, Simon Pool.

Your Dad and I love you more than you even know.

 

10 trips around the sun

What I remember most is the fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of my absent period, fear of disappointing my parents. I crawled into my bunk bed and cried giant, hiccup tears while talking to my sister.

My Alpha Delta Pi roommates watched Sex in the City and pretended not to hear.

~~~~

The lady at the Pregnancy Crisis Center handed me a cup and pointed me to the bathroom. Sometimes I drive down Tennessee street and look for the building.

It was a small house hidden between big houses and landscaped lawns.

Find a doctor, she said. She handed me a pamphlet with baby development.

~~~~

I ate Burger King Whooper cheeseburgers after every prenatal class. I know nothing about what to expect. Sometimes I sleep at the sorority house.

Mostly I sleep at his apartment.

~~~~

I’m floating on a pool noodle at our apartment pool. My sorority sisters have all gone home for the summer. Another rowdy neighbor is enjoying libations because it is the 4th of July. He offered us a shot of liquor.

We declined.

That night, we watch the fireworks over the river. We are disappointed.

~~~~

I’m standing in the doorway to my grandparent’s bathroom. We’ve just stayed the night as house sitters. I’ve gone to the bathroom and felt the first contractions.

We go shopping for wedding shoes. We go out to eat lunch at Culvers.

We come back to their house. He rubbed my back while everyone watched.

~~~~

10:16 pm. July 5th, 2003. 6 lbs., 6 ounces of baby boy is born.

Simon Matthew, my baby.

It’s been 10 trips around the sun since then.

~~~~

I still have fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of not measuring up.

I have love too. An entire decade of love.

A collection of memories and a shot out of Simon's baby book on the blog today. || Link in profile. || #pictapgo_app #blog #bloggingwins

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And when my cross tongue or my sharp attitude makes you feel less than loved, I hope you will (some day) come back here to find these words.

I love you, kid. More than you will ever know.

~~~~
More birthday fun here: 9 in 2012, 8 in 2011, 7 in 2010, and 6 in 2009.

Linked up at the EO for Just Write.

Back to school!

I am finding it harder than I anticipated to work (part-timeish) outside of the home. However, I am respecting this time of transition and allowing everyone to experience this new normal before having a melt down. Work will get better once my training period is over. Right now I am learning a lot and going through lots of paperwork. I am finding that some things at home just have to slide to the side. (Hello, laundry pile up to my ears. Good-bye bi-weekly blogging.) Mama's working, babysitter's coming over, Daddy's sleeping. It's all new and I am giving myself the space to make it all work.

It will work. You know what really, really helps? That school has started.

Amen. Praise Jesus for He is good.

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Cora felt the need to photo bomb our little photo shoot. Have you forgotten what she looks like because I am a terrible blogger? She turned 15 months old today. Maybe I'll post again two weeks from now and write her monthly update. If not, here she is with her favorite person.

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I would like the record to state that Simon was a little shit about taking these pictures. (Just keeping it real, folks.) He was embarrassed and didn't really want to look at me or smile. Don't worry, Sunshine. I will be taking your picture on every first day of school. FOR FOREVER. 

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So now he is a 3rd grader and is half-way through his elementary school years. (Be still my heart.) His classroom is on the other side of the building and he is on the other playground at recess. Lunch comes later in the day and he has homework every night. Bascially, he has a whole new normal to learn too.

I'm giving him the same grace that I am giving myself.

We'll both make it through just fine.

~~~~
Kindergarten, First Grade (that video still makes me laugh), Second Grade. TOLD YOU, KID.

9 in 2012

Dear Simon,

So much of my time is spent in the daily grind of raising three small children. Currently comprised of late bedtimes, hot mornings watering the flowers, messy floors that constantly needs sweeping, laundry that needs flipping, swimming pool breaks, and time spent yelling at you. Pick this up! Go downstairs! Leave your sister alone! Your time is spent playing with Legos, rotting your brain with various electronics, reading, and annoying Bennett. It's good to be a kid.

Do you realize how much has changed in my life? It's hard to believe that it all happened 9 yeas ago.  

Baby Simon

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I sometimes SUCK at being your Mom. Let's not even beat around the bush or pretend it isn't true. I yell too much. I blame you when Bennett falls down. I have little patience for your shenanigans and then I tell you to 'go away.' I point my finger and shake my head and threaten to spank your butt as you quickly dart pass me in the hallway.

I want you to stop jumping, to stop showing off, to stop being inappropriate, to stop making noises with your mouth.

It doesn't work. It never works. Even when I threaten and come within two inches of losing it on you. You still bounce and jump and poke Bennett's head when I'm not looking. 

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Oh, Simon. What am I doing to do with you? You and I will forever be bound together, my first born son. Mother and child. The same could be said about you and Bennett. Big brother, little brother. You claim to hate him and that he's "the meanest brother ever." But some day (I hope), you'll be best friends. I'll keep praying about it.

Did you know that I am your advocate? Do you even know what that means? It means I would die for you, Simon Poo. I would fight until the end so that you get the best out of life. I must protect you. Mother and child. Maybe I am too protective, too sensitive to comments made by others, too easily embarrassed by your behavior?

You're just a boy.  A nine year old boy who runs and jumps and laughs his way through life. I hate that I need reminding.

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So here's to you, Love. Make a wish and blow it out. I wish for another year of learning and growing together. I'm going to do better, I promise. I'm going to yell less and say yes to more ice cream. We're going to play the Wii together, read Harry Potter longer, and go down every single water slide we can find. I am going to love you for you and not who I want you to be. Remind me if I forget. Can you do that for me, please?

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Love you always, all ways,
Mama

~~~~
Previous birthday thoughts here: 6 in 2009, 7 in 2010, and 8 in 2011. (2011 was my favorite post.)

Instalove

While I did take a little blogging break, I did not take a break from Instagram. (Follow the feed @thepools.) I don't know why I like this little photo app so much. Maybe because it levels the playing field a little. Anybody (Droid or iPhone smartphone users) can download and use it. I don't have to lug out my huge camera. I don't have to worry so much about lighting or flash. It also allows me to capture images I normally wouldn't capture.

Things like, for example, what's on my kitchen counter:

Blue Period

Or Tulip surrounded by flowers:

Tulip

Or Tulip (I like my cat, okay?) under the bathroom rug:

Meow

Or (WARNING! WARNING! PROCEED WITH CAUTION!) the staples in the top of Simon's head:

Ouch
(I made this image smaller. You're welcome.)

Gross, right? I thought FOR SURE that Simon was screwing off and doing something that he shouldn't have been doing. Turns out that he was working cattle at the rodeo. Simon, Roan, and Rowdy were reading the cattle tags and then running back and reporting the numbers to the Cowboys. He stood up too fast and bumped his head.

The staples come out on Wednesday or Thursday which is just in time for his birthday. Best birthday present ever?

I think so.

~~~~
We had the staples taken out. When the nurse asked him what happened, he said (clear as day and without cracking a smile) "I got in a knife fight." He said it made for a much cooler story. I tend to agree. Later on he told his Grandpa that it was a skateboarding accident.

Funny stuff, kid. Funny stuff.

Interview update- UPDATED

My 2nd, follow-up interview is next Tuesday at 12:30. Yay? Yay!

~~~~~

The interview went…well? It's hard to know for sure. Right now I am waiting patiently by my phone and hoping for a 2nd interview. Ugh to that. Overall, I felt pretty confident answering their questions and we spent a lot of time discussing how the process works. Under contract, I would be expected to work approximately 30 hours a week. The hours are very flexible though and can vary greatly week to week. The number 30, however, leaves me feeling slightly panicky.

All my full-time working friends are rolling their eyes right now, but how can I be away from my babies for 30 hours each week?

Simon at the lake

Then I look at this picture and start envisioning the bill from the (future) orthodontist and I don't feel quite so badly.

*fingers crossed*

Whisper hiss

So much of my daily attention is devoted to Cora and Bennett. If you look at my Instagram feed, there are only a few pictures of Simon. It's not that he isn't around, it's just that his independence is growing by leaps and bounds. We've even started leaving him home alone for a few minutes at a time.

He's a big kid. He just doesn't need what his siblings need.

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Don't get me wrong, he still has needs that we must meet. For example, his need to be heard. He has loved to talk since before preschool. I can clearly remember his (2nd) preschool teacher laughing about the things that Simon said in class. He's still the same to this day. I used to tell people that if Simon is telling a story that seems unbelievable, it is probably true.

The boy loves to talk. He loves to make noise. He loves to make people laugh. I have no idea where he gets it from.

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He has other needs. Needs that I struggle with sharing about simply for the sake of his privacy. I want to share, however, because I am proud of him and the growth that he has made. We live with his anxiety every day. Some days are easy breezy and nothing comes up. Other days I feel like pulling out my hair.

Lately? No problems. In fact, he spent the entire night away with his friends at a hotel. This is the same child that refuses to sleep alone at Grandma's house. So a night away is HUGE for him. He also ate dinner and breakfast with his friends. This is the same child that will go without eating rather than eat in a strange place. Granted, he's not up to eating at restaurants yet but still.

Huge progress. Huge, huge progress.

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I know that this battle will always be two steps forward, one step back but I am hopeful. Hopeful that issues we struggle with today will eventually be non-issues. I constantly am learning on how to be his parent and I want to help him succeed. I don't have it all figured out yet. Starting with the fact that I am not perfect and I yell a lot. It's a good thing he is forgiving.

I've given myself a daily challenge to hug him four times a day. I don't always meet my goal and I fail frequently. It's hard when he's gone at school all day but I am trying. Sometimes at the end of the day, he will point out that he only got two (or less) hugs. He remembers. He notices. He needs to be touched.

Trees aren't the only thing that I love to hug.

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Afer the morning we had today, he's already be given a hug. He woke me up at 6:55 to ask if he could use my computer. My whisper-hiss voice was in full force. The answer was no but I can promise it didn't come out that nicely. There might have been some wild arm flinging to signal him to GET OUT BEFORE THE BABY WAKES UP. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

I want to hug him. I don't want to yell or pull out my hair. While my attention is often focused on Cora and Bennett (and sleeping), I am trying to intentionally be a part of his life. I want to whisper that I love him.

He might be a big kid, but he's still my baby too.

Brotherly love

Sister is so into her big brother right now. She likes Bennett, of course, but right now Simon is her main squeeze. Maybe Cora likes Simon so much because I catch him doing things like carrying her down the stairs and sharing his food at the dinner table.

Or perhaps it's because they look so much alike.

Or maybe, regardless of the eight years between them, a sibling is a sibling. Some bonds just can't be broken.

Brotherly Love

I am the narrator

As Simon gets older, I feel like it is a fine line to walk when posting stories about him for all the world to read. Babies are funny and cute and babies won't remember the tales that I tell.

Simon does though. He is in 2nd grade now. I remember stories from my childhood, stories from before 2nd grade even, and virtually none of them are written down. On the contrary, I am the narrator and my kids are my characters. For over three years, I have been writing and sharing here at PPo5. I surprise myself. It's hard to believe that I've been writing for that long without giving up. (Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere.) It's just that most of the time I feel like my writing is 'same shit, different day.' How often do you want to hear about my kids and my boobs? I KNOW.

Of course, it's also hard to believe that this kid is officially 8 and a HALF. We celebrated his half-birthday by practicing the closed mouth smile. We still have time to practice.
  

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I've said it before, and I'll say it again: one of my biggest worries is that my blog won't match his memories. I worry that if he ever reads these words, he will say with disdain that my words weren't true and that the picture I painted wasn't as rosy. Simon? You are probably right. 

If you, Simon, gather nothing else, please know that I did love you. I loved you a lot and I was so proud of you. Right now I am most proud of the fact that you are reading just ABOVE grade level. For a kid that was behind in 1st kid, barely there and struggling in the beginning of 2nd grade, and is now ahead? That kicks ass. We set the bar high and we expect you to meet it. You have done just that.

I am sorry for all those other times that I failed you. I know there were many. Like the time I made you smile with your mouth closed to hide your terrible teeth?

Yup, sorry for that one too.

Scraps

While posting throughout the entire month of November, I have participating in a weekly link-up called, Just Write. Just Write is a creative writing exercise about ordinary moments, my ordinary moments. Hope that clears up any confusion. Lest my sister text me and say, "your last post was weird."

profile

Sometimes I read things and write them down on scraps of paper. The paper floats and the words wind around in my life- a Target receipt here with scribbled notes, a newspaper clipping there. The words I read are ideas that I want to expand on and inspiration when I have nothing else to write. Maybe, if I am lucky, the scraps are reminders of what I need to remember.

"Mood disorders are not weaknesses or character flaws but real illnesses that can be successfully treated." 

I want to shake the anxiety right out of him. I want to force him to get in the g-damn-car-with-Grandpa-and-go-to-Cabela's-and-get-out-of-my-sight-before-I-scream. Too late. I am already losing it. We try shame next. Fine! Don't go with Grandpa! We're going shopping instead- to your favorite Old Navy and then the grocery store and maybe even the dry cleaners! Are you sure you don't want to go?

Then I remember. I back down, take a deep breath, reign it in. He can't help it. Fear is what stops him and staying home, with us, is what makes him feel better. Going out means losing control. It's still annoying and I'm tired of fighting but it is not a weakness. It's not a character flaw nor can he help feeling that way. I wouldn't make a diabetic feel guilty about eating, so why do I use shame with my own son?

Stigma be damned. Stigma be damned.