:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

COFFEE Post 11: Happy Birthday, Babies! (Stephany)

The eight days between Feb. 23 and March 3 are a BIG DEAL at my house. My youngest, Eli, celebrates his 4th birthday on the 23rd, and my sweet daughter, Abby, celebrates her 10th birthday on the 3rd. (In years past, I’d have celebrated a wedding anniversary on the 1st of March.) It’s a big whirlwind of a week for us!

Yeah, so my kids have birthdays. ALL kids have birthdays. They sure do; it’s true. The big deal, though, for us is that birthdays are the biggest deal all year long. We celebrate New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, St. Patty’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Memorial & Labor Days, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and some other little things throughout the year. We do enjoy those, but we just do it on a smaller scale than most, particularly Christmas. But birthdays, BIRTHDAYS? Birthdays! Yes! They’re the best! A birthday is the only day of the year that is ALL ABOUT the birthday person. What’s better than that? I’ll tell you what is: nothing. To that end, a person’s (specifically, a child’s) day of birth is a big to-do in my house.

It starts with breakfast of choice for the star of the day. Treats and treat bags for the kid’s schoolmates. Then it’s the supper of their choice – out or at home – followed by gifts, cake & the like. The older kids have friend parties, too, although we keep those fairly simple and make them tons of FUN, and we have a party with extended family at some point. See? A big deal!

So, Eli’s big day started with biscuits with cinnamon & sugar sprinkles and apple juice. We took Transformers cupcakes and treat bags to his school for a party there. After opening gifts at his dad’s, his choice (obviously!!!) for birthday supper was Chuck E Cheese’s, which was actually a great time! Chuck E. brought out his cake and sang a special birthday ditty for him! I SOOOO wish I had the correct cable to get the pics off my phone and onto this page…. The look on his face was priceless, probably much like mine would be if Colin Firth or Jude Law brought out my birthday cake and sang to me (although the lusty yearning was absent from Eli’s eyes that would soooooo be in mine). Yeah, buddy! Then he opened gifts with Mom, too. On Sunday, we celebrated with my family back home: more gifts & cupcakes! His birthday finally ended yesterday when the package came from his Uncle Jason & Sanford… it was a good birthday. He’s thrilled to be so big, and I’m thrilled that he is thrilled. “I wuv birfdays, Momma. Turning 4 wocks! Now I’m so big!”

Abby’s day is quickly approaching, and the planning has been underway for quite awhile! She’s looking forward to pizza omelets for breakfast, pizza and treats with her class, dinner out somewhere – she still can’t decide (Girls! Sheesh! HA!), her gifts, and her party with friends at the Flip Shop (the gymnastics gym where her cheer team works out). We also celebrated her birthday with my folks on Sunday when we did Eli’s “thing.” She’s stoked about double digits, and I’m stoked for her!

I so love their birthdays. I love them getting excited about themselves. I love that they feel extra, extra, EXTRA special one day out of the year. They know they’re loved every day, but a day that’s ALL about them? That’s a great gift that they’ll never forget.

I look at these kids of mine, growing so quickly, becoming who they’re going to be, and I just can’t help but pinch myself. For real. Life the last few years has sucked (!!!), and, unfortunately, they’ve endured some of that suckiness. That’s totally unfair to them, and I hate that MY poop and their dad’s poop has run down to and on them. They have been one of the few bright lights through all of this, well, POOP, and it’s just so extra great to be able to share these special days with them and celebrate them this way. They remind me that the poop is part of it, and that there are so many tremendously and completely GOOD things in my life. THEY are among the best of those good things, and I’m so grateful for them.

Speaking of good things, I’ve made some progress on my COFFEE goals. And I’ve made some progress on ME… Check it out:

1. U 2.0 – U 2.0 is complicated, people. It’s liberating, to be sure, and it’s right. It’s just complicated, too. Seems contrary, I realize it, but that’s life, I’m learning. It’s not what you get that counts most, it’s what you DO with it. I’m learning to DO (and actually ENJOY) some good and fun and special things. One of the counselors at the school commented to me on Monday that the ornery sparkle was back in my eyes. I just grinned and told him to watch his back. I think that’s proof that I’m coming back. Yay, me!

2. Training for the Half – Despite continued hacking and spitting, I’m running again. One might think me a pro baseball player to watch me during a run, minus the grabbing, readjusting, and scratching part. Yum. My apologies to those with whom I will share the course in April if this doesn’t stop soon. Grant me wide berth, or you might get hacked on. I’m still running more on the treadmill than I would care to, but it’s mileage. I don’t know that my original goal of 2 hours is doable, but I’m going to finish this sucker if it kills me. And if I happen to finish anywhere inside 2.5 hours, I’ll have a real victory on my hands. So there, clogged lungs. Take THAT!

3. Book project – I can’t tell you what a relief it is to just be able to sit and reflect on the stories I’ve gathered to this point. No pressure to write, to make anything of them. Ahhhhh…. I will admit to spending more time with these than I thought I would when I gave myself the break, but I’m thinking that’s a good thing. We shall see.

4. Pondering studenthood – I. Found. A. Program. It’s a specialist’s degree, but it’s at a school that will allow me to roll that Ed. S. into a doctoral degree should I choose that within 6 hours of finishing! Plus, it’s about ten grand less than the other program I was considering, and it’s equally accredited and recommended! HOO-AH! Application process will begin this month. PRAY FOR ME, please.

5. Co-parenting – Someone told me way back when I first got separated that I would come to appreciate getting a break from the kids every now and then. “Think of all the things you’ll get done, that you’ll get to do that you never have before.” I told them I would probably like that – NEVER. Now I’m not saying that I do like it when the kids are at their dad’s, because this whole sharing thing’s still an open, raw, and bloody wound in my heart and in my head. I will admit, though, that I’m coming to be more productive during that time. Whereas before I would be all but paralyzed in my empty house, unable to sleep from the quiet and stillness, sick with missing those kids, I’m now able to clean, do laundry, take care of projects, leave the house more, cook just for me, and sleep a little better. Last night was the FIRST night that I have ever slept a whole night (more than 4 hours) in my own bed when the kids are at their dad’s. Is that weird? Maybe. But I did it. And it was a big deal… so maybe that person I thought was a completely heartless IDIOT (who enjoys their kids being away from them??!!!??? Please, IDIOT!) might be on to something… Just maybe… someday…

6. Awareness of Others – How interesting! More focus on other people, less on me… Shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. Less of me is such a breath of fresh air. Holy crapola! Why the heck did I ever get so wrapped up in ME? I’ve learned some very cool things about people in my life –students, new friends… I’m loving this and plan to try very hard to make this a lifestyle. Two thumbs, folks.

So it’s birthday week at my house, and COFFEE goals are coming around. All in all, life’s getting better all the time. I can’t help but include the quote again because it’s just too appropriate. Forgive me. Actually, no. Don’t if you don’t want to. I’m okay with it either way, because:

I choose to live by choice not by chance; to make changes not excuses; to be motivated not manipulated; to be useful, not used; to excel, not compete; I choose self-esteem, not self pity; I choose to listen to my inner voice, not the random opinions of others.

I’m enjoying this week. I’m enjoying my kids. I’m enjoying things anew. And I wish all my COFFEE sistas the same…


blj said...

Well happy, happy birthday week to you all! Those kids are lucky to have you to make them feel so loved and special. And I want the recipe for pizza omelets?!?

I can also sense a change in your tone... must be your ornery sparkle as your coworker commented. I'm happy for you that you're happy for yourself. And thanks for including the quote again, it is a valuable thing to keep front and center. I, for one, needed the reminder. Thanks, COFFEE Steph! Wishing you birthday week feelings all year long!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Happy birthdays Steph!!! It sure sounds like these kids are smiling A LOT! I also want to say, yummmmmo.

Congrats on finding a program. I have no doubt in the least you will rock any educational program you choose.

You continue to make me smile with your goals and your ongoing pursuit of betterment. You are tough.... one tough COFFEE chick. Thanks for the smiles in your writing. I'm pretty sure they're impossible to miss. Thanks sister.

xoxo - T

amy said...

Stephany, this post made me too, too happy. It was full of life and good spirits, lots of exciting outlooks for you and Life, and also gave me some good birthday celebration ideas for future years. Woo! on all of that!

Many prayers on that Specialist's degree...getting into it AND through it. I debated so long about whether to go that far too. I'm stuck at a master's for now (unless GA gets its act together).

I was the same way (but minus the child separation angst at that point--lord only knows what a mess I'd have been if Melissa was in the mix) when C and I were separated--esp. the part about being able to sleep for a whole night in my own bed. I get where you're coming from and kind of know how that feels...it's hard to sleep in that type of stress. AND I get where you're coming from on the breathtaking relief it feels when you do finally get a whole night's rest after so long. And how it feels when you finally start to feel like you're "back." It's most awesome.

And last, can I just re-state once again how amazingly fabulous people with Feb. 23 birthdays are? Honestly, Feb. 23 people grow up to be stupendously amazing people who do outstandingly important and magnificently brilliant things. I'd go down my list of Outrageously Cool Feb. 23 celebrities again, but you know. I don't want the people here who weren't born on Feb. 23 to feel flawed.

I went to Kani House for my birthday, but dangit! I didn't even THINK about asking for biscuits with cinnamon and sugar sprinkles for breakfast. Next year...next year. ;-)

All of your kids sound like rock stars--happy birthday to all of them! (And Happy Getting Your Ornery Sparkle Back Day to you!)

Steph said...

Thanks, girls!
@Becky: pizza omelets are simple and savory... eggs in the skillet until they firm up a bit, add pepperoni (or we do ham occasionally), mozz cheese, and a couple tablespoons pizza or spaghetti sauce. Fold & serve. Voila! DELISH!
@Tanya: I actually did smile while writing this... a lot! I love your smiles in your writing, too. They're one of my fave things about reading your posts. :)
@Amy: you so get me sometimes... poor thing! I was able to sleep in my room after he moved out. He took OUR bed, thank GOD. But somehow, when the kids started spending nights with him, it became all but impossible to even BE in that house without them. And why MY OWN BED has been such a stumbling block, I don't know. Slept there again last night, and it was good. Kids are home tonight, so that's awesome! Thanks... sometimes I feel like such a FREAK when it comes to all this stuff...

T-Free said...

Awwww... it is so cool to read about Eli's birthday and Chuck E. Cheese sighting excitement. And it is also good to hear that you are training, despite lung tomfoolery, getting back your ornery eye sparkle, and starting to deal with the time alone during co-parenting moments. I hope you continue to sleep better and be productive during your Stephany Time and that it soon becomes the new routine for you, rather than something daunting and unfamiliar.

Sending prayers and hopes that you get into the specialist's degree program that you want. That sounds really cool!

Rock on, Stephany! :) xoxo.

Katie said...

Stephany, I always so enjoy reading your posts because not only is there a good balance of soul-searching and humor, but because I think you are just a good person. And it is good to know you, even through the internet. The new milestones that come around every year must be hard. But you also strike me as a phenomenal multi-tasker (anyone who works with high school kids probably is...) and the fact that you can hold so many goals in your mind, AND make progress toward them is inspiring. Your training? WOO!! Co-parenting? Bah! but still day by day... Book project? I will wait patiently for the excellent things to come. Impending student hood - oooooo. That is exciting and scary and heart-pumping and holy crap! all at once! Congrats on finding a program! That is VERY exciting! Awareness of others? Good on ya, girl!

And that you can still celebrate those babies of yours despite the tangled mess is a mark of the wonderful mother you are. Well done.

Onward and Upward Superhero Stephany!! Go Go Gadget Ornery eye sparkle, AWAY!!!!!!!

patresa said...

love your bold paragraph here at the end! is that a steph original? wise words!

happy birthday to all the young'ns! cupcakes! yum! (you mean, you can still take homemade treats to school? 'round these parts, treats have to be pre-packaged, store-bought.)

also: i demand to know more about this pizza omelet business.

look at all that progress! half marathon = no problem. even with your watery knees (how are those, by the way?) and all that snot. it's okay. your body is just expelling the junk.

looking forward to hearing more on the book project. and the school project! ahhh! so exciting!

love that your shine is coming through again, big s!