we’re going to title this “how I spent my summer vacation”

Back to school in our neck of the woods is fast approaching…TWENTY TWO DAYS!!!! So is my sister’s wedding and so is Jodie’s move to Arizona (SOB!) But until then, we have twenty two days left to try to have as much fun as we can and as we can afford because my sister’s wedding and Jodie’s move to Arizona is just around the corner. Meanwhile, since the beginning of June, here is where I have been three afternoons a week.

Sitting in the “Faux-bucks” in my local Target sipping an iced green tea while I write, edit photos, pin stuff on Pinterest, tweet, enjoy a podcast…especially this one because I know Kristen and she and Liz totally rock…and generally try to restrain myself from leaving the Fauxbucks to wander the aisles of Target and buy all the things while Daniel is next door at our local Sylvan Learning Center. Twenty tutoring sessions in and while I admit it hurts paying that tuition, I am so thankful for spending my summer vacation this way…and I guess Daniel spending some of his summer vacation there too. Suddenly my son is enjoying learning a little bit. Perhaps he will never be as excited about reading and learning as his nerdy mommy has been, is and always will be. But after his session with his tutor, he tells me all about nouns and verbs and pronouns and synonyms and homophones and vocabulary words….

HE.

IS.

TELLING.

ME.

He is telling me so much more than the standard “okay”, “we did math”, ‘we had an assembly” answers. He is actually enjoying learning and he is telling me about it.

Worth it.

So absolutely, completely worth it.

Plus I’m spending quality time in my local Fauxbucks, sipping my iced green tea while I people watch, write, edit photos, pin, tweet and catch up on my girls from Spawned.

ready to shake your hand

Six years ago a friend of mine met my darling son for the very first time. As I introduced him to Jessica, Daniel extended his right hand and as he shook hers he said, Hello, I’m Daniel”. And with a firm handshake, my friend and coworker met Daniel face to face for the first time. A day later, I received a message from Jessica telling me how impressed she was that my 7 year old little boy shook her hand and said hello. Clearly his introduction made an impact on her as she reached out to me to share.

Yes, that’s my boy. That’s who he is. Who he has been for as long as he has been old enough to respond when his mom would introduce him to someone.

Hello. I am Daniel.

My baby boy always would reach out and offer his right hand to say hello. Without hesitation. My boy. My baby boy.

Hi, I’m Daniel.

His Dad and I lost count this weekend how many times our son would extended his hand, without our prompting, to say hello and introduce himself to his father’s colleagues at Dad’s company picnic and then the next day to his sister’s co-workers at his niece’s birthday party.

Perhaps this is not what one might expect from the average thirteen year old kid given the reaction from the people who work with Bill and with Hollie; but this is my baby boy, my young man. This is who he is and who he has been. He shakes your hand…or he might reach out to hug you. Fair warning that if you choose to accept his extended hand and introduction he will follow with a discourse on Lego figurines, Nintendo game or, perhaps, the absolutely perfect birthday card he chose (by himself) for his niece. Just go with it. Accept it. Allow yourself to be educated, enlightened and consider yourself so damn lucky to enjoy a hearty handshake and introduction from this remarkable young man

.

too tall and other squad adventures

The perfect time to get away from the dusty triple digit temps that is the Central Valley is right now.

And in Santa Clara at California’s Great America, today was practically sweater weather. Kidding. But it was literally 20 degrees cooler than Manteca. So sorry work for not taking that call to come in and work extra.

This guy was literally counting down the days until we could play at California’s Great America.

So was Abby

And Abby’s BFF, Maci.

It was a great day enjoying all the food, all the drinks and all the rides in the park, courtesy of Bill’s company. Bonus, Daniel was more than tall enough to ride any ride of his choosing.

Well, almost any ride of his choosing.

One disappointment in a day filled with adventure for this squad?

We’ll take it!

don’t be fooled

Look at this picture. Look at these two.

So sweet!

So adorable!

Right?

Yeah.

No.

Don’t be fooled.

No one under The Big Top is.

It’s hard to be Uncle Daniel. It’s hard to be niece Fallon. It’s even harder to be Daniel sometimes. Also, it’s harder to be Fallon some days too.

These two. Sometimes in so many ways so much a like. I guess that is why, perhaps, that they do get along..and actually have fun together. Once they figure out each other’s boundaries that day.

Don’t be fooled.

Meanwhile, can we all just admire all that is epic about Fallon’s hair because that is just literally everyday. Love it! Love it so much.

poolside chatter

Sometimes the most challenging conversations with your child are the times when you are least expecting it. On a long drive down Highway 17 as the sun is setting, the kid is going to ask questions about sex…because you driving down a twisty, winding mountain highway is not nearly challenging enough. Or when you are gripping tightly to the steering wheel while driving up Interstate 5 in a windstorm it will be the perfect time to ask why their grandmother, your Mommy Dearest, never calls or writes or visits. So it would follow that while you are lounging by a hotel pool, your son will float up to you and pose a question that is guaranteed to make you sweat…not because it is over 100º even as the sun is setting…not because you are experiencing your usual round of hot flashes that come without warning and literally leave your hair and clothing soaked…if only! Nope. He floats up to the edge the pool where you are lounging, smiles and…

Hey Mom, I was wondering…do you think my biological parents loved me?

Oof!

So begins one of those hard conversations, the ones that make you sweat. Still I can’t shy away because this is Daniel discovering his story. He already knows our story of when he completed our family circus and it is a great story; he’s the first one to tell you that. But as he begins to discover who he is, as all children do as they grow up, part of that self-discovery includes his story before he joined this circus.

Do you think that they loved me?

So , taking a deep breath, I tell him yes. Because I was his nurse the day that he was born, I am privy to some of the more intimate details of his parents and his biological mother’s pregnancy.

Yes, son. I am absolutely certain that your biological parents loved you so much while they were pregnant with you.

Big tears fill his eyes as he slowly sucks in his breath. I hold myself back from reaching out to hold him tight. I wait. I wait to let him guide this narrative like I have learned too many times the hard way to do with the hard conversations with all of my kids. He exhales then meets my eyes.

But I was so, so tiny and so, so sick and they were afraid so they asked for someone to be brave for me like you and Dad. Right?

Right.

But they did love me?

Absolutely.

He looks away discreetly wiping away the tears then looks back at me and smiles widely.

I’m glad that they loved me.

Me too, son.

Then he reaches out to hug me, hug me so very tight. Now I’m the one fighting back the big tears filling my eyes. I know that I was brave enough to be his mommy when he was so, so tiny and so, so sick in the NICU; but god help me, I need to even braver for conversations like this because I am certain that there will be more to come. I’m thinking that for now, I will avoid drives on mountain highways with him alone in the car…for now.