Monday, August 5, 2013

Birthday Bliss

So, I love Karis's birthday. I love having a reason to completely indulge her, and to watch her delight (makes me wonder, should I indulge her more on a daily basis? Or maybe we should have some birthday-spirited moments once in a while). I love thinking back onto the days leading up to her birth - finishing work, running an errand with my brother, making ice cream with youth group girls.

Walking into the hospital, talking to my mom. The midwife saying, "I think you'll have a baby by dinner time" and then we met Karis and then ate a late lunch. The first moments as a family of three, holding her, beginning this parenting journey. I would go back to that moment in time every day, to hold that baby in my arms. And that is the gift of memories - I can go back and smell and see and feel and remember (without the pain, yes, memory is a remarkable thing). Oh Karis, your name means "grace" and you embody this word - your movement, your heart, your character. You are God's gift to us, and we are honored and humbled to raise you.

I had the joy of attending a friend's baby shower this weekend, and I spent the drive thinking about Karis, and for sure cried a bit-  Karis's birthday has always made me emotional. I also spent time thinking about what to share with this mom (as requested by the host) as a hope for her in motherhood. I decided what I hope for her - for all moms, and a reminder to me: that she (that I, that all) would always have confidence that YOU are the mom that your child needs. And that your child is the exact one that you need in your life. You will grow and learn together. Always.

What we did:

In "Pandolfo style", birthdays are to be celebrated more than just one day. So, all week we talked about how we'd go to Freeziac on Friday, and then we'd watch a surprise movie. It was so fun to watch Karis anticipate a surprise, she anticipated and guessed what movie it might be (see below as to why the movie was Despicable Me). When we sat down to watch it and she figured it out, she said, "Oh, I was going to guess that, I just didn't tell you". Human nature at its rawest form!

Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast together, I headed to the baby shower, and Trev took the kids to a guitar store to get new strings for Karis's guitar. I loved walking into the house to this scene: Judah happily on his tummy, Karis and Trev stringing her guitar. Then K & T headed to Canterbury for a work event, then went to a western thrift store, then to YUM bakery.  I stayed home to get ready for Saturday and snuggle up with some quality cuddles with Judah. And a quick nap. And writing this. Beautiful.

Saturday night Trev was on K's floor for much of it . . . as she got up many times wondering: "Is it 7 yet? Am I four yet?!". I love her excitement and anticipation. We stuck a candle in a muffin, cooked up bacon and scarfed a "gogurt" before heading to church - where Karis proudly walked around telling people "It's my birthday! I'm four!". Now that I think of it, I proudly proclaimed the same to all our friends there. Per K's request, we ate at Potbelly's on the way home, attempted rest time (too excited), and welcomed a yard-ful of family for tacos and Karis-requested strawberry shortcake cupcakes  (for K's future reference if she's curious, here's the recipe - a winner), waterballoons, and swinging. Like any celebration, the time went to quickly and I didn't take nearly enough pictures . . . but the memories will last. One of my favorites is when Karis confidently walked around in her zebra party dress, passing out the water bottles and ribbon-wrapped gum that she picked out for her uncles and their gals. Then there was the frenzy of water balloons with lots of "big kids" running wild. Her hospitable spirit continues to humble me, her pure joy for life is inspiring. To mother this miracle is the highest calling I could imagine; the responsibility of nurturing her gifts, the honor of getting to know her more - like I said, we need some more birthday moments, I think.

I have some Judah memories from the night too - he needed to be in my arms . . . I watched him from across the table, just staring and trying to figure out where he was and how he might get back to where he belongs. Even in Trev's arms, he eventually scrunched up his face in preparation to cry, and I realize now how aware he's becoming and how a situation like the party might have been pretty unfamiliar and overstimulating. These are melting mother-moments, as his face broke out into open mouthed smile when he found his way back to familiar momma territory. Also worth recording is how he would stare at cousin Lee - just intently stare, lock-eyed, serious face. Over and over again. Hilarious!

And a random party memory is when we were all eating our tacos, someone asked what the "pink stuff" was that they had put in their taco . . . my answer, "pink pineapple, just jello sprinkled over crushed pineapple". Many others piped up and said they'd put it in their taco, thinking it was some kind of salsa. Indeed, most people enjoyed crushed pink-jello-y pineapple in their tacos. One gal even went back for more . . . maybe we're onto something? Or not, but I thought it was pretty funny.

And now, writing this paragraph the morning after the party - Karis was up at 6:30am ready to play with all her new markers and coloring tools. And a cupcake was a part of breakfast this morning. Oh to be four! I think this year is going to be delightful.

And now it's evening, and as I finally get ready to hit "publish" on this post . . . we're birthday-ed out. Time for a little normal . . . I was wondering how the day was going to go when at 7:30 poor girl was having a meltdown about wanting to wear her flower girl shoes outside. I really felt badly for her, overstimulated and overwhelmed feelings have to come out somehow! She got over it pretty quickly (don't worry, M, the shoes never made it out the door!) and the rest of the day she really just seemed like a FOUR YEAR OLD. How is she FOUR?!

From recent reading: 

From Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber : "We all have pain and anxieties; it is all relative. Everything matters and nothing does"

From A River Runs Through It  by Norman Maclean (have you seen the movie? The book is profound): "You can love completely without complete understanding . . . It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us".

There's another long passage that made me weep when I read it aloud to Trevor - and it struck the same cords that it did the first time I read this over 6 years ago. It's too long to record here, but for reference (mostly mine with this as my journal, or your's if you happen to read it) it's pages 77 & 78 - a transparent, beautiful exchange that to me signifies marriage to its very core.

From Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell: "If you become a major nurturer in the lives of others, then you have an opportunity to make a major impact on them"

Karis is enjoying: Jack and the Beanstalk, Toads and Diamonds, Mommy Date, Bumble-ardy, Where the Wild Things Are, Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights (not the unabridged versions! There is a "baby lit" series that is so delightful)

Trevor is plugging through: The Odyssey


- "Daddy, Despicable Me is IN OUR TV! But it costs money, so sometime we can just pay money. But we need tickets to open it"
- "Mommy, do I have moosebumps?"
- "Mommy, look! I'm wearing jeans!" (this said after rest time, when she had re-dressed herself in a new outfit . . . way too big, jeans and a top. She has NEVER chosen jeans. Oh my gosh, my girl is growing up. Too fast)
- (as told by cousin Caroline): "Next year I'll be five, then six, then seven. When I'm seven I can be a mommy". Ha!
- "I want to color my princesses!" (said at 6:30 am the morning after her birthday. The excitement continues!)
- "Daddy, it's my special birthday wish for you to wear the buckaroo at my party!" (confession, I told her to say that one)
- "So, this afternoon I'm going to the youth group girls" (pretty sure she heard me telling someone about having the youth group girls over before she was born . . . goodness, this girl listens to everything)
- "Mommy, where is my (fill in the blank with any obscure object that could be in any of a zillion places)"
- "It's hard to have my eyes open" (said after a post-birthday nap this afternoon)

Judah updates:
- He's grunting and make his opinions known
- He's starting to "make strange", as my mom says. Sometimes he's only happy in my arms, and it's really the sweetest thing
- He continues to be the happiest little guy, always smiling with his whole body (because yes, that's possible when you're a baby)
- He continues to be mellow, observant, loves being around people and just takes in his surroundings
- He continues to get up three times a night. He easily nurses back to sleep (what baby wouldn't get up a few times for a mom whose willing to do that, I suppose?!) and his little content noises in the middle of the night are the sweetest. It won't last long . . . at least, not forever
- He loves to reach for my phone