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My oldest son turned 4 years old today. His name is Arthur and I love him simply to pieces.

I love this laugh

Current nicknames: GPS, the Map, Infinity-Alphabet Man, Hoardy McHoardington, Chunky Monkey, Yummy Cheeks, Loveangelboy

Likes: new present new present, playing gymnastics class off the sofa, drinking bathwater, SuperWhy to the rescue, everything big (balshoy in Russian), playing air guitar, yogurt, being chased, reading everything, climbing everything

Dislikes: anything considered small, being the same age as Clifton for 2 weeks, cake, scary movies, clowns, Raggedy Ann dolls, gravity

First visit in Russia - I recognized him in the group immediately.

Another good profile shot in Moscow

First week at home, January 2011 - always a good reader

Mardi Gras 2011 - Mommy's so excited that he likes to costume!

Love this face!

Happy Happy Happy - as Art says. Easter Egg Hunt at the Big House


Clifton said ‘Pop Pop’  for the first time.

And I flat out lost it.

During this whole process of becoming a parent, missing Dad has been separate from it.  Mom has tried to suck me into some of her weepy moments, but I’m a pragmatic; it’s something that can’t be changed.  I never knew either of my grandfathers and that’s just how it is.

And then that little squeaky voice says ‘Pop Pop’ during one of  his favorite activities, the group photo i.d.-athon.  This time it was the picture on my shelf of the night before David left for Iraq in 1990.  That awful awful night.  I came in from Phoenix; we had dinner at home; other people were there.  Dad’s awkward presentation of his St. Christopher medal and how proud he was of David following in his footsteps.  In the photo, you can see the dread of death in our ghostly smiles.  (David will probably disagree with my recollection of that night and photo description, but look at our mother’s face, okay?)

“Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”   –Julia Ward Howe

(Peaceful history of Mother’s Day to come.)


Jim takes the boys off for baths, and I sit at the dinner table trying to stop bawling.  I can see Dad’s funny faces with goofy sound effects, hear Clem Cadiddlehopper stories, see him wrestling with the wiggly ones, looking into their faces and listening to their secrets.

Clifton gets 3 books tonight, and I’m crying again in the somnolent darkness.  I realize that it’s not just all the things the deep breathing baby on my chest is going to miss.  What really has the tears streaming into my ears is what I’m going to miss.

I won’t be able to share these wonderfully crazy parent moments with my Dad.  I can see him looking at me as I calm down a struggling toddler, feel his hands squeeze my shoulders as he passes me in the chaotic kitchen, hear his jokes about the personalities of my sons and stories of us when we were kids (‘try having four’).

All this slams over me in a tidal rush.  So unexpected.  So sudden.  I can’t put the Pop Pop in their life.  They’ll be fine because they won’t know what they’ve missed.

But I’ll know.

My youngest son turned 3 years old today. His name is Clifton, and I love him simply to pieces.

Razor sharp smile

Current nicknames: Glommy Bear, Troublemaker, Lokiface, Dr. Destructo, Cottontail, Sweetloveangelboy

Likes: whatever his brother is currently playing with or reading or eating, everything sweet, cereal bars (‘nack’), all cats (meow meow), tickling (‘gilly gilly’), nasal orifices, announcing emergency bathroom issues once fully buckled into the car seat

Dislikes: just sitting down and eating a meal, speaking in low volumes, wearing clothes, loss of skin to skin contact, any request not in the form of a game

The look

Day 1 – when we first met in Russia – September, 2010.

We call this “The Look.”

Wild ChildJanuary, 2011 – first week at our house.  Aptly labeled here.

Sweaty playground

A few months later and he’s an adorably sweaty playground urchin.

Silly cowboy

And a totally silly cowboy

sweet love

I love this photo as it shows his constant affection.

(ps – Don’t I look deliriously happy?)

Quantam of Solace

Early days – Mommy’s Wild Child …. sleeps.

It’s a blurry early morning, and the boys’ bedroom door bursts open. Clifton comes stomping through the kitchen carrying the over-sized red train book under his arm like he’s been up reading for hours.

He’s two, almost three, and he’s wearing the red Spider Man print pajamas: long pants, button down top with long sleeves. His hair is sticking straight up, and he gives me the biggest smile as he walks past to the family room.

Have I ever been that happy at 6:00 in the morning?

Oh yeah, that would be today.