Sorry it has taken me so long to post folks, we had a busy weekend here and I didn't have time to sit down for long enough to think and write.
As everyone knows from my last post, Kenny had a birthday...his first real birthday...last week. We were surprised that the night before he did actually manage to fall asleep reasonably early but he sure popped right up out of bed quickly Thursday morning! I lucked out and all 3 boys went to school with Dominick early for "Donuts with Dad" in the library, so I was able to easily sneak into his classroom and decorate his desk. I later learned from his teacher that ALL the kids were excited about that and wondered who had done it. He went to school wearing his "Birthday Boy" ribbon so everyone would know it was his special day...not that he didn't end up telling every single person in sight :-) This was such a big deal to him, and the night before just as he was falling asleep he asked me to pick out "church clothes" for him to wear to school so he could look sharp for his birthday.
Later that afternoon I went to school with a store bought cake with a "Cars" theme and we celebrated with his class. He then got a birthday spanking from his teacher with Joshie holding his feet. His teacher and I laughed as my natural born leader directed the entire event, telling the class when to sing, then directing them to sing to him in Spanish as well, then organizing the helpers to get the plates and hats distributed. It was a total riot and I realized even more just how similar he is to his Daddy, and that he will have to be self-employed someday or he will never be able to keep a job because he'll be canned for telling people what to do all the time!! Hahahaha! They then all played "Heads Up Seven Up" which I still remember from my school days, and I was allowed to play as well.
A moment I will never forget my entire life came when Kenny was sitting giggling in the desk in front of me as we waited to begin the next round, and he turned to me held my hand and said "Momma...thank you so much for my Happy Birthday...thank you for come to school for me.." and then he gently kissed the palm of my hand and carressed his cheek with it...
And that, my dear friends, is one of the many, many rewards of older child adoption. Yes, you miss first words and first steps, but you sure get to witness other remarkable firsts that touch you to the core.
On to Party #2 at home, and at this stage Kenny had a hard time holding it all together and we had a couple of pushy moments and he was sent to his room to mellow out. He had been awesome at school all day, much to all of our surprise, but the excitement was just too much. After a little down time we all decorated and got ready for our friends to arrive. We had a houseful, probably more than I have ever had in my house at once before. We had about 25 people with kids of all ages running around and parents visiting while we ate Kenny's ideal meal, spaghetti. I bought some of those small plaster cars and animals and had a Paint Station set up and then we all played a memory game, had a jelly bean hunt, and then the big moment arrived...presents! I kid you not, within 5 minutes every package had been ripped open, ooohed and aaahed over and then cast aside to move on to the next colorful package. I am grateful that everyone present understood that this was not a sign of ingratitude (Indeed not, as I didn't even have to prompt him to say thanks to each person as he opened their gift) but was mere excitement at the first time of ever having presents that were all his. I don't think he stopped smiling the entire night!
Cake time came and our family has a young special friend who is our Cake Expert and she made Kenny two cakes...a chocolate cake and a Superman cake!! We sang in English and Afrikaans (I know it makes no sense as it should have been Russian, but who cares? It's our party and we'll sing what we want to!) to him which he loved and then it was time for blowing out the candles and consuming it with great gusto.
Slowly everyone left and the whirlwind receded, and it was time for bed... and I was surprised to have tears out of Kenny. When I asked him why he was crying he replied "Because my Happy Birthday all over!!!". I explained to him that he would have another one next year, that this was only the first of many Happy Birthdays to come, which seemed to do the trick and he then drifted off happily to sleep, no doubt reliving his very special day.
I was also very proud of Matthew and Joshua, who throughout the day never showed any signs of jealousy or envy despite all the attention being paid their brother.
Birthday still wasn't technically over as we still had to go pick out a brand new bike that Grandma Alice sent money for and buy a few toys with money that Grandma Toni and Auntie Liz had sent.
All in all, I think Kenny had a spectacular birthday, and now maybe mom can have some peace and won't have to keep doing the coundown...at least not until June next year when he will start thinking about it again!!
And now it is time to look forward to Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays of the year. Christmas I could actually take or leave, as I join others in the lament of how commercialized it is. I had a conversation with a friend just last night about Christmas, and how our modern culture and media presents us with this image of what the perfect Christmas should look like, and how in real life it never lives up to that unrealistic expectation. Families are scattered and shattered, our houses are never decorated to the degree that we are shown on TV, people go in debt to a ridiculous extent thinking they have to show their love for others with things rather than time spent with them. It is so sad, and has ruined a wonderful time of the year. One of the biggest annoyances to me is seeing Christmas items in stores in September and hearing Chirstmas Muzak in October. Ugh!
But Thanksgiving, that is another matter...other than spending money on a turkey and some spuds, it is about loving one another, stopping to think of our blessings rather than dwelling on all we think we need but don't have. It is a day when we all stop our harried lives for just the briefest of moments to relax, visit, eat and say "I love you". Thanksgiving is a day that reminds us of how we should live our lives every day of the year, with a thankful heart surrounded by loving friends and family...for isn't that what is really what makes life worthwhile?
I was reminded of this quite well when during our church service yesterday members of our Congregation were asked to write on a slip of paper what they are thankful for. The overwhelming response was "My Family" from young and old alike (I'll admit I said "Macaroni and Cheese" as I have an overdose of expressing my gratitude for my family on this blog!!! Hahaha!). Funny...it wasn't "My new car", "my big beautiful home", "my bank account"...it was parents grateful for their children and children thankful for their parents. Why do we lose that in every day life, if that is what is really the single most important thing we are thankful for? Why do our families often get relegated to the back seat behind work, golf, new vehicles, etc.? Why does our pursuit of financial and material gain cause us to spend less time with those who really are what give our life purpose and meaning? It is when I contemplate that very thing that I am extraordinarily grateful for my husband who works hard for me to be home with our kids to be a mom most of the year, a man who leaves work to lead Cub Scouts, a man who cancels appointments to go to his son's class for an event. I may not have a beautifully appointed bedroom, granite counter tops or a brand new car, but I have a happy home and family, I have a husband who nurtures his children and wife, and I have the gift of time to give my kids as they grow up. To me, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.
We will actually not be celebrating with a turkey and trimmings on Thursday, but will instead be having our traditional meal on Wednesday with friends and then along with them will make the trek to Salt Lake City where we will stay for a couple of nights so we can see the beautifully lit city and Temple Square, hear the street musicians and with any luck I will be able to hear the pipe organ at the Mormon Tabernacle for the first time, something I have always wanted to do. We are doing this "on the cheap" planning on eating out of coolers the entire time but we wanted Kenny's first experience to see Christmas lights to be a special one, and I have never in my life seen a display like Salt Lake City puts on. We went two years ago and it was the one thing that has gotten me quickly into the spirit of the season, as I hope it does this year as well.
If I don't get to the blog before Thanksgiving arrives, I wish every single person reading this a very memorable and special day. Some of you may spend the day dreaming of children awaiting you, others like our family may be celebrating first Thanksgivings with newly arrived sons and daughters. Still others may have nothing to do with adoption but read this blog regularly and have spent the past year praying for us and holding us in your hearts. We are thankful for each and every one of you and wish you a love-filled Thanksgiving.