Monthly Archives: November 2012

Princess Cakes


Every now and then, I am reassured that I am doing something right as a parent.  That, despite all my failings and lost tempers, I may manage to raise a decent human being.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year: my birthday.  Fortunately, Robbie loves birthdays almost as much as I do.  For the past two weeks, he’s been telling me it’s not Halloween anymore; it’s November and Mommy’s birthday.  He tells me I need a princess cake.  He and Justin went on a secret mission to The Mad Potter for my birthday present.  On Sunday, they ordered a birthday cake for me (I knew because I was at the grocery store about 25 feet away).  Then, Robbie cornered me in the bathroom, saying, “So, you have a birthday coming up.”  It’s an incredible feeling to have someone that excited about your birthday.

Yesterday, Justin and Robbie greeted me at the garage door when I got home from school.  Robbie could barely contain his excitement: “It’s your birthday, Mom!  Come on!  We got candles for you!”  And he wasn’t kidding.  They had candles.  Two “3” candles (odd, since I only turned 27…) and two dozen birthday candles.  Robbie led me to the table, where he put out his arm and said, “Look, Mommy!  A Cinderella cake for your birthday!”

And it was.  A perfect Cinderella cake, with a fairy godmother, a coach, icing pumpkins in the corners, and Cinderella herself.  It was the most beautiful, perfect birthday cake I have ever had in my life (Sorry, Mom!  Close runners-up: homemade Berenstein Bears cake and ballerina cake).  But do you know the best part?  The part that actually made me cry?  Robbie picked it out because he really thought it was something I would like.

There are times when Robbie is a typical three-year-old: so involved in his own little world that he has no idea anyone else exists outside his bubble.  Justin let Robbie pick any cake he wanted, and we all know that princesses aren’t much up Robbie’s alley.  He has been planning his next birthday cake for months – Cars is the current favorite, although he’s open to another Spider Man cake, too.  And it would have been so easy for him to get the cake that he wanted.  But he didn’t.  He thought about me.  For maybe the first time that I can really identify, Robbie planned for someone else.

It’s easy to see – and to appreciate – in a three-year-old.  But it’s also something we can all learn from.  How often do we do something for others with a spin of something that will benefit ourselves?  Probably more often than we should.  And so, as I hope to do more often, I’m going to take the lead from Robbie and do for others what they want and need.  After all, what could it hurt?


Mandatory Fun


We’ve all been there – and probably wearing matching outfits.  You know what I’m talking about.  The mandatory fun your mom insisted would be,well, fun?  But it just wasn’t.  Yeah.  We had that last Thursday.  And, yes.  We were wearing coordinating outfits, although that was purely coincidental.  I certainly wouldn’t make my family dress alike.  Although, now that it’s happened…

It started out innocently enough.  A friend mentioned the Southern Lights Stroll at the Horse Park – the opportunity to walk or run through all the light displays before the park opened the attraction up to vehicle-only traffic.  Robbie was thrilled at the idea of running through Christmas lights, and Justin naively joined in, thinking he was going to get to run a 5K.  How could this possibly go wrong?

Let me count the ways.

1.  The event was packed, which meant there weren’t enough t-shirts.  We all know a free t-shirt makes even the worst event a little more bearable.  But, rest assured , our shirts will be in soon.   Which will require another trip to the Horse Park.

2. Robbie refused to run.  Or even walk, for that matter.  And this was a three-mile venture.

3.  Robbie refused to sit in the stroller I pulled out at the last minute.  So, there we were, in our coordinating blue fleeces, with a child standing up in his stroller and screaming at the top of his lungs.

4.  In an effort to stop Robbie’s screaming and not waste our $40 registration fee, Justin carried Robbie on his shoulders for 1.5 miles.  At that point, Robbie’s hands were freezing, so he agreed to sit in the stroller to put his hands in his pockets.

5.  Justin wore shorts.  It was 45 degrees.

6.  Just when we began to think we were in the clear, we got to the car.  Everyone was buckled in, talking about a dinner at Cracker Barrel.  That’s when we heard it.  The sweet melody of a certain little boy wetting his pants.  All over the car.

Now, I have to give him credit.  As I sat in the car, explaining to Justin that, although I had not had the foresight to bring an extra set of clothes on our excursion, neither had he, it was all I could do to hold back my tears.  It was then that Justin took my hand and said the sweetest words a woman could hear: “It really wasn’t that bad, honey.  The walk was nice.  And the lights were pretty.  You didn’t ruin our Thursday.”  And I almost believed him.

Sleep Overs


For three years, Justin and I managed on our own in Boston.  Sure, we had some terrific babysitters and even a few friends willing to take Robbie every now and then.  But never anything overnight, unless we paid an exorbitant fee.  So, you can imagine how crazy it is for us to have Robbie spend the night out.  For the past month, Robbie has spent the night out at least once a week.

This past Friday, however, was perhaps the most important.  After getting Robbie through his double ear infection, I got really sick myself.  To the point where I left the doctor on Friday afternoon with five prescriptions and a diagnosis of bronchitis and the promise that if I had waited until Monday, it probably would have slipped into pneumonia.  My chest felt like someone had stood on it for ten minutes; it was all I could do to take a regular breath.  All of this with Justin traveling across the country for a week.

Thank God for family, particularly family willing to take Robbie for the night.  Hilary had called earlier in the week to offer a sleepover to give me a break from Robbie (and, ostensibly, give him a break from me).  I had grand plans for the night: cleaning, laundry, and catching up on trashy TV.  Instead, I wound up in bed, puffing on my inhaler, until 11:00 the next morning.  As pitiful as it sounds, I’m not sure that I would have made it through the night if Hilary hadn’t volunteered to keep Robbie.

Monday night, Mom asked if she and Tom could keep Robbie.  Not one to ever turn down an offer like that, Justin and I didn’t even bother to pack Robbie’s bags.  (Don’t worry; he has clothes and pajamas over there!)  We were out the door for an evening with friends fifteen minutes after Robbie was gone.

I feel guilty ever asking Mom or Hilary to watch Robbie – I don’t want them to feel like we are trying to take advantage of their generosity.  And it feels too good to be true when they do offer.  Perhaps the best part?  When I picked Robbie up from Nona’s on Tuesday morning, he said, “So fun to stay at Nona’s, Mom.  Wanna spend the night Aunt Hilary’s!”  I think he’s really got it figured out.



It was a once-in-a-lifetime-moment.  One you can’t get back or recreate.  One some people wait decades for.  One some people never even experience in person.  And Robbie only had to wait three years, three months, and three days for it.  His first Kentucky basketball game.

Robbie kind of knew what was going on before we got to Rupp Arena.  He was wearing his Go Cats finest, excited by all the other people in Go Cats clothes around him.  On the way from the parking lot, Robbie told me that all the adults at the game needed to drink Diet Cokes.  He started to realize something incredible was going to happen when we walked through the turnstiles and into Rupp Arena.

Robbie and I waited in line for pizza, popcorn, and, yes, Diet Coke, before climbing to our seats in the upper arena.  And that’s when it happened, when he realized where he was and what he was seeing.  He looked at me and said, “Mom!  It’s the Go Cats!  We’re at their house!”  I think that pretty much sealed the deal.

During the teams’ warm-up, Robbie cheered enthusiastically every time someone made a basket, yelling, “Good job!  We did it!”  He practiced yelling, “UK!” with an enthusiastic arm thrust to really bring home the point.  He danced when the band played.  He stood, eyes wide open, when the starting line-up was announced, cheering appropriately for each of his beloved Go Cats.  And then he asked me if it was time to go home yet.  We hadn’t even gotten to tip-off.

Part way through the first half, Robbie asked me whose school this was.  I explained that it was Mommy’s school and Daddy’s school, and also Aunt Hilary’s, Nona’s, and Pops’.  Robbie took this all in, pausing for a few seconds to construct his response.  “Can this be Robbie’s school, too?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face.

“Of course!”

“Yeah,” he nodded.  “This QiQi’s school, too.  I’m gonna go here, too.  Just like Mommy and Daddy.”   And there you have it.  Rob Manna’s intent, all but signed.  He took it a step further, pointing at the court.  “QiQi a winner.  QiQi play with black dudes.”  I have no idea where he got that.  At all.

Robbie and I stayed for the entire game.  Right through the final buzzer and into “My Old Kentucky Home.”  He pointed out his “favorite flags” – all the championship banners, making me take a few pictures of them.  And he partook in the traditional half-time ice cream cone, climbing all the way up to the very last row to enjoy it.

Now, is he ready for an SEC game?  Absolutely not.  But a little exhibition game?  Absolutely.



Halloween morning started off with a question about Christmas.  “Mom, is Santa awake yet?”  Always looking to the next best thing, this kid…

Because Robbie had to stay home from school for a second day, I was forced to make a difficult decision.  Did I let him go to his pre-school Halloween parade?  Or did I keep him home?  In the end, I had to make a decision that was, it seems, more difficult for me than for Robbie.  We didn’t go to the parade.  He is young enough that he has no real idea what he missed.  And I can, barely, manage to deal with the fact that I won’t have pictures of his three-year-old Halloween parade.

We still managed to get some trick-or-treating in, though.  After all, that’s the part Robbie has been looking forward to for the past eight weeks.  So, instead of going to a parade, we practiced trick-or-treating early at Aunt Hilary’s house during lunch.

Later in the afternoon, I took Robbie to an old family friend’s house to trick or treat.  Speedy’s house was always our first stop as kids, so it was a surreal experience to take my own child there, to watch him run up the walk and ring the doorbell.  It’s moments like these that make being home so incredible.  There’s something about watching my child do the same things I did when I was little.

Later, when it actually was time to trick or treat, Nona and I took Robbie around the new neighborhood.  Then he went around with friends.  And finally, Aunt Hilary took him around her street (thank goodness we all live so close together!).  This was Robbie’s fourth Halloween (how did that happen?!) but his first with my family.  Before, they only had pictures.  No mischevious little boy who rang his own doorbell for candy three times.

And then, as suddenly as it began, it was over.  Time for bed, the magic of ghosts and gobblins ready to rest for another year. A little part of me was sad about this because I think I’ve had as much fun as Robbie has getting ready.  Thank goodness there are a few more holidays around the corner!