Happy Birthday, Fat Boy

by Rebecca on July 28, 2015

Rex turned 1, and we celebrated the milestone of our little fat boy with… what else? Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches.*

Rex, 1st birthday 3

In truth, Homeboy is not fat, but with a year of weight struggles behind us, he looks pretty dang delicious and meaty to us.

Look how pleased he is (and a double chin, to boot!):

Rex, 1st birthday 4

I’ve been instructed by his loving grandmother that this is the last time we are allowed to refer to him as “fat,” lest he develop a complex. She makes a decent point. No more.

Ok, one more:

Rex, 1st birthday 7

We like to follow a fun Japanese tradition for 1st birthdays, even though we have 0% Japanese running through our European blood.

The idea is to place several items that represent different life paths in a row (a pen for a writer, money for wealth, etc.), and direct the 1-year-old to choose one. The choice predicts the child’s future. This website explains it in more detail.

Both of our girls chose the ball when they were 1, indicating they would have an athletic future. We expected Rex to choose the ball as well, because it’s the most fun item on display. But he headed straight for the conductor’s wand.

Rex, 1st birthday 1

While I was disappointed none of my children chose the money (Just WHO is going to take care of us in our old age, now?), I’m pleased as punch to have a future musician.

Rex, 1st birthday 2

1-year-old Rex:

  • Loves music. He will start dancing at the first hint of a melody or a beat. He “talks” in a singsong voice that makes me melt.
  • Refuses to walk, instead giving us a mischievous grin and sitting down firmly on his bum whenever we try to coax a walk we know he’s capable of.
  • Gives enormous bear hugs.
  • Has names for each member of the family.
  • Babbles constantly.
  • Loves to climb, and dives headfirst off couches, steps, etc. On a related note, he is closely supervised.
  • Tells us what a cat, dog, and elephant “say.”
  • Copies. If a sister is beat boxing with her hand over her mouth, he’ll do the same. If someone emphasizes a word, he’ll imitate it. He watches us closely, and tries to do what we do.
  • Gives enormous bear hugs. Did I mention that already?
  • Is worth all the trouble he gave us.

*Fat Boy Ice Cream gave us vouchers for free ice cream sandwiches. They were delicious… the ice cream sandwiches, not the vouchers.


Happy birthday, Rex

by Rebecca on July 6, 2015



I always think a baby’s first birthday should be about the mother. Yeah, I said it.

To me, that milestone represents all the blood, sweat, tears, exhaustion, joy, and love the mother poured into that baby.

What did the baby do during that year? Other than be totally adorable, of course.

The mother spent the first part of that baby’s first year recovering from the previous nine months of exhaustion, aches and pains. She also spent that first part watching her body morph and change, wondering if it would ever look the way she wanted it to look. She possibly spent a great deal of time adjusting to breastfeeding. Maybe she spent that first part battling postpartum depression, or crying her eyes out in the shower while the baby blues overtook her emotions. And she did this all on less sleep than a human needs for survival.

She spent the first year loving and doting on that baby. She spent all year finding the perfect spot on that baby’s body for her kisses (cheeks, of course). She held that baby in her arms, and sometimes even felt a little sad any time somebody else wanted a turn to hold the sweet thing. She pinched herself time and time again, not always able to believe the magnitude of luck and love that was now part of her life.

She spent the whole first year figuring out sleep patterns, determining how much her baby needed to eat until full, learning the difference between a high-pitched cry and a fuss, and worrying over various symptoms. The father did some of that too, of course.

But the mother did this:



She cried and bled and sweated and screamed — and nearly died for a little minute to bring that baby into the world.

So I’m taking a day off. Rex turned 1 yesterday, and we celebrated him. Today, I’m giving myself a break. The family is elsewhere, and I have nothing to do. I deserve it. It’s been a loooooooooooong year.

And what do I find myself doing?

Thinking about this moment, when I was in shock at the intensity of natural childbirth — and in shock that Rex was a boy:


Thinking about the squishy rolls of his 9-poundedness and how much I loved him after all that blood, sweat, cursings, and prayers:



Thinking about how he then failed to thrive, and I failed to see it for too long. Thinking about those rolls disappearing, being replaced by visible ribs, loose skin and sunken eyes. Thinking about the months of tears and agony as I tried to help my boy gain weight and avoid the hospital — or worse. Thinking about bad news after bad news after bad news with no solutions.

And then thinking about how we pulled through. About how somehow, miraculously, my little Rex grew. And grew. And grew.

And turned 1, complete with chunky thighs and dimpled elbows.

I sent my family away so I could take a well-deserved break — because Rex’s 1st-year milestone is all about me, of course — but all I can think about is that boy. Go figure.

Happy birthday, Rexy. You deserve the milestone.






The bottom of the well

June 23, 2015

Every now and then I panic about the drought over here in the West. What will happen if the Earth runs dry? Sometimes I place a bowl to catch the water that runs from the faucet while I wait for the water to reach the right temperature. And then I take that bowl outside and dump it […]

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The Middle Years

May 11, 2015

When we can’t find my 3-year-old’s favorite stuffed animal at bedtime, suddenly our house is under Code RED emergency lockdown. Nobody in, and nobody out until the precious bunny has been located, retrieved, and safely snuggled in the little dictator’s chubby arms. Sometimes it’s exasperating. Most of the time, though, I really don’t mind. I love the […]

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The first 10 years of marriage: What I’ve learned

March 18, 2015

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary. It’s a big one, and as a writer, I feel this funny need to look within and say something noteworthy about this milestone. So I started this post three times, but each time it was wrong. In my other posts, I focused on the hard times. I wanted to […]

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Motherhood? No thanks

March 12, 2015

I was sitting at a church activity the other night, listening to some teenage girls tell each other they would never, ever get married and have children. Once you do that, you see, your life is over. “Oh yes,” I said. “I don’t do anything. I have no life anymore.” It was a lame joke, […]

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The moments

March 4, 2015

I walked into our bedroom to see Emma (3) doing a little dance. She was wrapped head-to-toe in her towel after a bath, and everybody knows there’s nothing cuter than a kid wrapped in a towel after a bath. Ryan was kneeling down in front of her, still taller than her even on his knees, copying […]

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7-year-old Lydia

February 20, 2015

Ever since Lydia turned 1, we’ve been taking her picture with her favorite stuffed animal at every birthday. I knew I was going to love the tradition when I started it seven years ago, and I always have. This year, it’s making me all sorts of weepy. SEVEN? SEVEN! I feel like this is the year when we’re […]

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The gods must be angry — or not

January 14, 2015

“Do you think Rex is extra… strong? Or extra… smart? Or something?” I tentatively asked my husband a few weeks ago. We’re pretty gaga over our kids, and tend to think they’re geniuses at everything they do. But I was really wondering if the strength and intelligence I see in our 6-month-old was the same as […]

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It’s somebody’s fault

October 29, 2014

Two nights ago, I dreamed I was looking at the pile of unmatched socks I keep on my laundry room counter. I thought to myself how unattractive that pile looked, and wished I only had a drawer underneath the counter where I could stash them. Suddenly a drawer appeared, and I was giddy as I […]

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