Julian is 8!

I’m not sure how this happened, but today I am the mother of an eight year old. Julian, my sweet boy, you are eight!

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A few weeks ago, you confessed to me that you are not ready to turn eight. It’s the first time I’ve heard you express some sort of desire to slow down the growing-up process. While I am also not quite ready (I never am), no one handles growing up better than you do.

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You are such an exceptionally bright kid. Your biggest accomplishment and source of great joy in the last year has been taking piano lessons. You look forward to your lesson every week, and you practice diligently each day, sometimes more.

You are growing in confidence. You really look like you belong with the piano. Your posture is perfect, your composure is calm and collected, and yet it is very obvious to anyone who hears you play that you love what you are doing at that very moment.

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At home you delight us with compositions of your own. You have also written several short books this year as well as a collection of amazing poetry that you worked on in school. Some of the poems are so honest, so spot-on. I sometimes can’t believe I had a part in creating you.

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You want to be an inventor or a scientist. You love designing things: city plans, details of a houseboat or the new the train line you have been dreaming up for about a year now which will connect New York, New Jersey and Delaware with a high-speed train network. I have no doubt you will accomplish anything you set your mind to, and I can’t wait to go on a ride on your train when it is completed.

You and I play lots of cards together. You play chess with Papa. You play soccer with Arthur. You still read a lot, and I can never get enough books for you from the library.

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Arthur and you have both developed more independently from each other this year, more so than ever before. Your interests are quite different, but you meet right in the middle when it comes to soccer, baseball, music, and building things. You two are also the best at pretending and will often run down the sidewalk in an invisible dragon fight.

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You’ve lost three more teeth this year, and the one that you knocked out when you were a baby is finally growing in, giving your sweet face a much more big boy look.

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Julian, you are eight. This means you are not too old to cuddle, not embarrassed to hold my hand in front of your friends or give me hugs and kisses. Part of me hopes it will always stay this way.

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You are adored by everyone you meet. At school your teachers delight in you, your friends love playing and talking with you, your brother idolizes and loves you more than humanly possible (although he sometimes gets on your nerves), and of course there is also me, your Mama.

You make me happy every day, you fill my heart up to the top, and just by making me a mother you have made my biggest wish come true. To see how you are growing each year, to talk to you every day, listen to your stories and songs, laugh at your jokes, get lost with you in your imagination — it’s all so much better than I could have ever imagined. You are making me the happiest person on the planet, just by being you.

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Happy Birthday, my wonderful, creative, smart, sensitive, stubborn, ambitious son. You are loved beyond measure.

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Arthur Baby,

Today you are 4.

You are insistent that you are not my baby anymore, but I assure you today – and every day – that you are and forever will be my baby.

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But you are also totally a kid; I get it. You’re a very capable person, and you’ve had an amazing year. You’ve come so far and worked so hard, and I am so, so proud of you.

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I mean, last year we tried to put you into pre-school, and you just cried and cried – and we gave you another year at home. This year you walk into school, kiss me good-bye, and you’re on your way. After school you grab my hand and tell me about everything that happened that day. That little walk from your school over to Julian’s school is one of my favorite moments with you – because you’re always happy and full of stories.

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You are a solo kind of guy. You’re very independent. Many times you yourself are company enough. You play well by yourself. You love Star Wars so much. You play with Legos, lightsabers, and most of all using your incredible imagination. And you’ve got your facts down. At 4, you officially know more about the Empire than me. The other day we were looking at one of your cousin’s books and you – who can’t read yet – correctly labeled about a dozen lightsaber holders. This included, for example, Ki-Adi-Mundi – and I’m pretty sure he was not a major character. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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You are something else, Arthur. You can drive me crazy while simultaneously holding my heart in your hands. You are wonderfully sweet and intuitive, a lover of animals and all creatures, and you are also the most defiant, stubborn, and complicated person. Life with you is never dull. Never.

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You work incredibly hard at your speech. Three times a week you sit down with your speech therapists – and you make it very known that it is not your favorite thing to do. But you power through, you work very hard, and you have made incredible strides. We are so proud of you. You’ve always been such a lovable, happy, outgoing kid, and despite your struggles you have stayed true to yourself. You don’t shy away from conversations, you share your thoughts, your feelings, and your fantastic sense of humor. You make up the most nonsensical jokes and make me laugh like no other.

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You are so cuddly. We still sneak the occasional nap together, you and I, even though I know I have to pay for it come bedtime because you won’t go to bed. But it’s worth it. Those sleepy, warm snuggles with you are everything. You still fit into my arms perfectly. Your head rests on my shoulders just so. And your hair in my face is something I can totally tolerate – other than my own hair in my face, which is just annoying. You are so loving, so sweet, and hugging you will solve almost any problem. You just need that hug. You need to know it’s all ok. And it is.

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I’m extremely emotional when it comes to you and ridiculously protective. But I am learning to watch you grow and stand up for yourself and maybe to let go a little. Maybe. You know what you want – but whatever it is, you’d gladly give it up for your brother. Whether it be the preferred color of a lollipop or a turn with a toy…you would probably give your right arm for your brother. You adore him so much.

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One time this winter you and I were in Prospect Park playing in the snow. Another little boy and his mom were also there, and the boy climbed up on a small pile of snow and proclaimed, “I’m bigger than you!” You didn’t think twice and replied, “Maybe. But no one is bigger than MY BROTHER.” So that pretty much sums up how you feel about Julian. I honestly don’t think I could dream up a better pair of brothers.

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Thank you for all the joy you bring into our lives. We all adore you so much. Arthur, even though I sometimes want to bang my head against a wall, I want you to know that I love you just the way you are, that you make me happy and proud and that you are exactly what our family needed. You keep doing you, my clever boy, and I will support you always. I love you so completely.

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Happy Birthday, my sweet baby.

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Arthur’s off!

Tomorrow is the first day ever when both of my children will be in school at the same time.

Julian suggests I read the paper, and Arthur recommends I busy myself by playing with his toys all day.

But let’s backtrack a little. Julian has been in school for a month now. Actually, it’s been exactly one month tomorrow. Arthur’s school was supposed to start a week after Julian’s (why?), but they have been delayed by a few weeks because the school moved into a bigger and better building and have been battling with all kinds of permits and such, and nothing moves fast. It’s been kind of frustrating.

This week Arthur’s school has moved outdoors, German “Waldschule” style, which is better than no school at all, but also not as great as actual school, with, you know, a roof over the kids’ heads.

On Tuesday Arthur had his first day, and even though there were many tears from many kids, Arthur kept it together.

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I almost cried, because MY BABY! But I, too, kept it together.

Of course it was a holiday everywhere else, so Julian and I got to spend the day together. Over hot chocolate and a muffin.

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Then we came home and baked Arthur our traditional “first day of school donuts” – because that’s a thing.

Arthur was happy at pick-up and flew straight into my arms. It was the best reunion ever.

At home donuts awaited him, and that too was a success.

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This kid is growing up. What a difference to last year!

I’m so proud of our Arthur.