Thursday, December 3, 2015

His Greatest Year

It has been almost ten months since Kendan turned five years old. Most of a year has passed since my oldest child reached the age I consider him to be a "big kid." We celebrated his special day accordingly. We had every single boy from his Pre-K class and some good friends over for a dinosaur-themed party. He was giddy and appreciative. And I was completely overwhelmed with the feeling that my baby was officially a kid. In the days that followed I could barely bring myself to accept this fact let alone sit down and write about it. And now as I sit here after so much time has passed, I find it even more difficult to log this memory with so many already on this blog. I find it more overwhelming. Not because the details have faded or because I don't know how to express how I feel. I remember the bits of his birthday as if it were yesterday. Filling goody bags with dinosaur toys and temporary tattoos. The smile on his face when his friends sang to him. The house buzzing with the noise of 15 boys exploring every room. And I'll never forget what it felt like to look at my first-born son and try to register the fact that he was now five years old. It felt like I was betrayed. Like it became resoundingly clear that the only person who agreed my baby couldn't grow up was me. I felt my heels digging into the ground while my son pulled me further and further into a reality where he was no longer a toddler, far from a baby, and was maybe never an infant. I can write about those details with complete clarity. What I struggle with now is not how long it's been since his fifth birthday, but with how much more he has done and has happened since then. It seemed like the idea of sitting down and capturing a still of who Kendan was at five years old was futile. He changed and grew and learned and loved more deeply every moment. I couldn't keep up with him! I still can't, truthfully. Every day he surprises me with some knowledge or skill or understanding I didn't know he had. He blazes through shoe and jeans sizes. His interests change like the wind. To do the last nine months of his life justice would require a whole lot more than a recap of a birthday party. That was just a glimpse of what was in store for him. 

Shortly after Kendan's fifth birthday he tested for and earned his yellow belt in Kempo Karate. Karate was something we always knew he would love and need to be enrolled in. He has been adding "hi-ya's" to every single super hero move since before he could properly talk! So it was no surprise that he fell in love with being a ninja from the start. He takes it very seriously and really pays attention to his Sensei, soaking up every single lesson. After his quick promotion to yellow belt, he was then promoted to orange belt, and is currently ranked purple belt; all within ten months of signing up. And these are not just lopsided kicks he's throwing into the air. He's required to learn several long forms and defensive maneuvers. I was completely useless in helping him past white belt status! Every test he participates in has me a nervous wreck but he just remains calm and kicks butt. It's quite impressive. I know I will always be in awe of what my child does, as made evident by some of the questionable art work hanging on my fridge. But I truly admire his determination in karate. My heart swells with pride at each high five his Sensei gives him and wink she shoots over to say, "Did you see that, Mom?" I hope he always loves this art and keeps going until he's a certifiable deadly black belt. 

The summer after preschool ended was a big deal for Kendan. Not only was he no longer a preschooler but he got to experience some firsts and conquer some fears. We took a short trip to meet my mom in St. Louis in June. We had a wonderful visit filled with all of the kid-friendly tourist attractions you can think of. But the most memorable part was our trip to the St. Louis Arch. We decided to visit the arch on our way out of the city as our last stop. As we approached it Kendan observed how tall it was and had many questions about how you get to the top. Tired from several days of fun and cringing at the thought of being stuck with my kids in a tiny cage, I knew I would not be viewing the city from this landmark. I assumed my children would also stay behind. My step-father announced he planned to go to the top and Kendan exclaimed, "Me too!" And that was that. He was in. Not afraid to let go of my hand, wave to me as he walked into a long tunnel, and knowingly travel several hundred feet into the air. This is the same kid who almost cried on a kiddie coaster and refused to put his hands in the air with me sitting next to him only one summer ago. I was shocked. And a little sad that he was so indifferent to whether or not I would be joining him. I mean, don't you want your mommy? No? Ok. *insert dagger into my heart* I promptly purchased a (very official) certificate for his "First Time to the Top" in the gift shop and nervously waited for my child to return. I'm so glad he experienced that. He loved it. And I realized this was just the first of many firsts. For him. For me. 

No fear quickly became the theme for the next couple of months. We spent a lot of time poolside as we usually do each summer. And every summer my children look like the tropical version of Ralphie's little brother from A Christmas story. Completely covered in a layer of sunblock, a swim shirt and shorts, swim shoes, puddle jumper flotation device, goggles, and sun hat. Sorry, kids. Not only do we burn, but we sink. And two children at a pool with 50 other children is difficult. But this summer was different. There was no lounging in the shallow end with my feet in the water while throwing toy torpedoes for my kids to fetch. Off to the deeper end Kendan went as I move all of our pool gear across the way. And then came "going under." So much for relaxing at the pool. We spent the remainder of the season completely submerged in the deep end. I've never seen him so proud of himself


Fourth of July also forced me to recognize just how grown up and fearless he was becoming. Other than a sparkler or two Kendan has historically liked to observe fireworks from a safe distance. In years past that could even mean indoors while Dad set them off .... with his ears plugged. Not this year. He was the only kid out of five to stay outside with the adults from the start. He even wanted to hold the fireworks as they were firing into the sky. I hate to admit that I was, once again, shocked. But I was. What was it going to take for me to realize that this kid was brand new? Gone are the days of him timidly crossing the bridge at the park and insisting the slides are too tall. Clinging to my leg and sucking his thumb while shaking his head back and forth. That was my baby. And now this is my big boy. 
In August we took a family trip to Hilton Head. I expected the boys to enjoy their first beach experience but did not think much about it before leaving. Having spent the summer poolside already the thought of sun blocking my children every day for one more week exhausted me. But this trip was so much more wonderful than I ever imagined. The boys loved, LOVED, the beach. Sandcastles and seashells, racing into the waves and splashing literally all day long. I could hardly get them to the blanket to take two bites of sandwich for lunch before they were dying to get back in the salt water. Kendan began by sticking close to us but was barreling into the water as it rushed back and forth around him after only one hour. And the giggles and squeals and joy on his face! Completely overwhelmed, I closed my eyes while waist deep in the water and just thanked God for all of it. For the vacation and for my family. For the incredible ocean and for my son so full of exuberance and wonder. There are some things I have discovered in life that are far better once you have children. Christmas and birthdays, movies in the theater, popping popcorn, and the beach. Definitely the beach. We filled in our moments away from the beach with ice cream at the local shops, long naps in the beach house, and the boys loved helping Craig crack the shells of his All You Can Eat Crab dinner. But every day began the same. We woke up and headed straight to the water. Put our toes in the sand. Built monster sandcastles that the boys smashed while pretending to be dinosaurs. We would even return to the beach in the evenings for the kids to hold onto the sandy, salty magic just before bath and bed time. It was a memorable family first to say the least

By mid August I began to stress out about Kendan going to Kindergarten. Would we adjust to the earlier, busier schedule with longer days and attending school five days a week? Would Kendan keep up with the curriculum and make new friends again in another new school? Would he have trouble finding his classroom? Would Damien and I miss him terribly all day? Or, worse, would he be at school missing us? I think the issue that had my mind racing the most was the change in our daily lives. For over five years Kendan and I had stayed home together. We spent the majority of every day with each other since his birth. If we wanted homemade pancakes on a random Wednesday we had the time to whip some up. All of the museums and the zoo and play places were manageable because we went on week days. We had all day, every day, to make our own. To make memorable. Yes, he attended two years of preschool that had him out of the house occasionally. But that was only a few days a week and didn't even start until 9am. Now we had strict instructions to be at school by 8:10am, every day of the week, for seven hours a day! The life we built and enjoyed together was going to completely change. It made me very sad. Sad to think that all of the fun stuff he gets to do with Mom is now reserved only for weekends and holidays, when the rest of the city is also out attempting to have fun on limited timelines. No more sleeping in and making a day of movies or costumes knowing we didn't have to get dressed that day if we didn't want to. It felt like a split custody situation and kindergarten was getting the better end of the deal. It truly broke my heart. All of those feelings mixed with the idea of my first born being old enough to be in Kindergarten and I was a bit of a mess. I definitely broke down in the parking lot of a Whole Foods on his second day of school. Simply because he was not with us running errands. Cut to five months later ... We love school. I realized that I may have over reacted to this milestone for him and I now see that this is a wonderful beginning in our lives! Yes. Our day-to-day changed. A lot. But now we are in the school days. And, even though waking up early is not for us, we are already well adjusted to our new reality. My ability to embrace all of this is all because of my incredible son. Kendan has done so well and loves Kindergarten immensely. He is reading, he's writing, he's picking up on math extremely well! He's become even more creative and his drawing and coloring skills have advanced. And he is so much more independent since school started. When we sat down with his teacher she only had wonderful things to say. About how helpful he is, smart he is, and about what a great addition to the class he is. He has made some great little friends and I have been able to volunteer at every class event to date. Kendan even lost his first tooth at school during lunch. There was a small part of me that was devastated to have missed it but I knew just how cool it was to him to lose it while at school. It has been a great start to real school for our family and I hope he always has positive experiences going forward. Oh, and he hasn't gotten lost on the way to class once
The birth of the boys' baby cousin, Winnie, in September was also a very sweet reminder of just how much older Kendan has become. Of course his physical size is more substantial than that of a newborn. Seeing Kendan hold Winnie only hours after her birth was startling. His arms wrapped around her tiny body in a swaddling blanket. Kendan's head competing with his little cousin's whole torso in size. But more touching than just how much bigger he was than her was how sweet he was with her. When Damien was born Kendan was a month short of two years old. And he was far from doting with his little brother. He was jealous. And feisty. He was rough and insensitive. But as a child who has grown so much in the last few years he showed nothing but great admiration for the precious newborn in his lap. I could watch him hold her for hours. It was a moment I'll never forget

Five was the age I dreaded the most. I could only see it as a number. To think of my baby being that old was hard. But I didn't know just how special it would be. So many firsts for Kendan. So many wonderful moments that added up to make a year in his life that, I believe, has been the most telling of just what a special person he will be in this world. And the year is not even over for him! I will always remember this age as the moment I realized that it's ok for your kids to grow up. They may not always be small. Or need you in the same ways. But the things they say, the way they think, the qualities they begin to offer you and the people around them are worth their growing up. I'll always miss Kendan as a baby. But I now know the best is yet to come

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Some Mornings

Some mornings the boys wake up before me. They make their way first to their door, then through the door of our bedroom. The sound of them fiddling with the handle usually wakes me before they have a chance to. But occasionally they make it all the way to my bedside and tickle my feet before my eyes open. I will pull them into bed and cuddle them for a few minutes before the day officially begins. All of us too warm and cozy to budge. Other times the cuddling is cut short or skipped all together as Kendan frantically rushes to the bathroom after a long night in bed. I reluctantly get out of bed to the sound of cracking joints and creaking floor boards. 

Some mornings I am awake far before my family. Still very dark and cold outside, I warm up my car as I wait on the coffee maker to provide just enough fuel to get me to yoga class. On my drive home I am thankful for the quiet. Never taking for granted the joy of driving alone. I marvel at the orange and purple clouds as the sun rises on them. And then I am home, often before any of my boys are awake. My clothing still damp with sweat, I decide whether I should shower or just dive into making breakfast. Usually the latter. I begin to hear footsteps upstairs. I move a little quicker knowing the boys wake up hungry. Some mornings mini waffles lead Kendan to announce that today is the "Best Day Ever!" Other mornings every breakfast option is refused and argued about. Damien doesn't want yogurt. Or, yes he does. No, they wanted the other cereal. The time we have before school quickly winding down and my hopes for eating breakfast myself fading fast. 

Some mornings the boys wake up mischievous. Their methodical and quiet descent on the stairs, a soft giggle, and big brother hushing little brother are all evidence that they are ready to play. I pretend not to see them from the corner of my eye and let them believe they have successfully snuck up on me. "Ahhhhhh!" They come barreling around the corner and I do my best flinch accompanied by a shocked face. Other mornings they are already twenty minutes into a dance party in the bathroom with Daddy when I walk into the house from my brief departure. Thankfully, Daddy has recorded their best moves so that I wouldn't miss them. And, my goodness, what moves they are considering the complete lack of coordination on both of their parts.  

Some mornings Kendan enters the kitchen fully dressed and ready to go. The outfit we agreed upon the night before satisfying him just fine. But then there are mornings where he refuses to dress. None of his pants are comfortable. All of the shirts he is willing to wear are dirty. He wants shorts despite the freezing temperature outside. And we are at a stand still. Damien is always the last dressed. I am usually able to haphazardly throw something on him on our way out the door. But his increasing reluctance to follow any of my suggestions leads me to believe those days are numbered. 

Some mornings I yell. A lot. They're not eating fast enough. They aren't listening. They're fighting. Truthfully, my yelling is always my issue. I'm tired. Or I haven't planned our time well enough. But on the days I yell, it's much easier to blame it on them. Other mornings I don't yell. Whether the morning is going smoothly or not doesn't seem to phase me. I've come to terms with my perpetual tardiness long ago. Sometimes I don't even glance at the clock when I know we're running late because I refuse to let it rattle me. I get one chance to spend the boys' childhood with them. The chance of a lifetime. And I try really hard not to allow being late to stress me out. 

Some mornings we have time to play before we leave. Toys come up from the basement. Baskets get dumped. Action figures fly through the air before being abandoned, waiting to be played with again after school. Other times we are out in a flash. No time to play. Breakfast plates left on the table with egg yolk drying to them. I'll sometimes return home after a couple of errands to find the lid still off the peanut butter. My half-filled coffee cup was left to get cold. Which I will heat back up later in the day. Always.

Some mornings we are woken up by crying. A virus has taken hold of one of the boys and sleeping comfortably is no longer an option. We move to the living room for an early morning show and consoling. Glossy eyed, feverish, and sad is never a fun way to see your children. But holding them close and reassuring them that it's ok, despite how they feel, is one of the best parts of being a mom. 

Some mornings we all sleep in. Praise the Lord. We all take our time waking up. The whole family unanimously decides to walk to the local bakery for cinnamon rolls. Maybe the boys will ride their bikes. Barely making the short trip there and back because of their rumbling bellies. We settle in for a family movie and sugary treats. One of the best kinds of mornings. 

But every single morning we wake up in our home. We wake up to find each other there. We wake up to the sun rising. We wake up as a family. I wake up grateful. Every day. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

D Turned 3

I still cannot believe it. Call it shock. Maybe denial. But I just cannot wrap my head around Damien being three years old. I wouldn't say I'm particularly sad. The thought of either of my boys growing up and out of my arms always provides moments of heartbreak. Dull pangs that hit me suddenly when I remember them as infants, forcing me to close my eyes for just a second and breathe through the lump in my throat. But Damien's third birthday did not send me into a state of perfectly balanced grief and happiness as their birthdays have in the past. This year I was just stunned. He's three. It's been three years since that bitter cold day in February when we brought him home to live with us forever. It sounds like such a short amount of time. But when I think about our life before he was here it feels like a dream or like something I only read about in a book. Life with little brother around is reality. I barely remember a time without him.

Part of my inability to believe Damien has already had three birthdays stems from just how little he feels to me. By this age Kendan appeared to be such a big boy! He was potty trained well before his third birthday and Damien isn't even close. We have not even begun the process. He's just so little! I cannot imagine my tiny baby boy learning to use the real bathroom. And his size alone. Kendan was only slightly bigger at this milestone than Damien is now, but it's enough to convince me that Damien's not the age his birth certificate claims he is. By three, I couldn't believe Kendan hadn't already started preschool. He was more than ready and felt so grown up. Now Damien is registered to begin in August, the same timeline as his big brother's first school experience, and it feels too soon. That little guy will be in school soon? How? Isn't he just a baby? I realize Kendan being my first is partially to blame for my feeling Damien is still so little. The presence of a little brother, by nature, made Kendan the big brother. And he'll always feel bigger. With as fast as these childhood years careen by, it's a blessing to be able to view Damien as younger than he is. Even if only for a little while. Even if the universe says, "No. He's big now." My heart will disagree. And I'm so lucky for that. 

Aside from being shocked about Damien's birthday, I mostly just felt so much joy! I was happy. Happy to make the day all about him. Anything he wanted, I wanted him to experience it. Happy to make him his favorite meals. Happy to play whatever he wanted to play. Decorate his cupcakes however he envisioned they should be. And to even let him help frost and sprinkle them! Damien chose pink frosted cupcakes this year. He pointed to a box of Funfetti cake and specifically to the pink frosting pictured on the box. "I want pink cupcakes for my birthday!" My fearless, rough, all-boy, three year old wanted pink. And, darnit, he was going to get it! Kendan is already spoiled by gender differences and supposed roles. But, despite big brother's insistence that pink is for girls, we frosted every little individually wrapped pillow of cake with bright pink. Damien and Kendan then meticulously pressed little sprinkles, one by one, into the pink peaks of frosting. 

Damien's favorite activity is going to the movie theater and eating popcorn. I've never seen anyone consume more popcorn than my child does during a two hour feature film. Popped kernel by kernel, eyes never leaving the screen, until I'm sure he'll explode. We have found that playing movie theater at home with the boys is a close second favorite pastime for Damien. The darkened, roped off living room provides its own special hint of magic. They're not just settling in for a movie at home, they're going to a movie and just happen to be at home. We pop popcorn and serve it in very official containers and have the boys use quarters from their piggy banks to purchase homemade tickets and concessions. For Damien's birthday, we spruced the whole concept up by having the boys' friends, Brooks and Hank, over for the ultimate at-home movie theater experience. After cupcakes, singing, and ripping through the present our friends brought, the boys lined up outside the "theater" to "buy" candy and popcorn and to see Muppets: Treasure Island. They were all wide-eyed and smiles when we greeted them and made official gestures like removing and replacing the rope as they each entered the living room lit only by the TV screen. 

Once the floor was sufficiently covered in smashed popcorn and there were more kids running around than butts on the couch, we called it a night. Time for the sleepover portion of the birthday! Four boys, one room, a million giggles, and countless appearances from mom and dad to tell them to go to sleep... They finally did. Peace and quiet. I peeked in on them, covered them up, kissed foreheads, saving my birthday boy for last. I crawled on the floor into the tent he was in and brushed his curls off his forehead. The baby who had told anyone willing to listen over the last week that he was turning three. First looking at his fingers to concentrate and then holding the correct digits up. Three. "My birfday!" He completely understood this year. This day was special. And all his. It truly filled me up. I was so happy. Our baby boy had a wonderful birthday. It wasn't an elaborately planned birthday. There was no theme. No official invites. No goody bags made up to take home. The only actual decoration was the same Happy Birthday banner I hang every year on the mantle above the presents. The day was simply all about D. Exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it. He turned three with presents and sugar and fun and friends and family and love all around him. 

The following day the house woke up a mess. As sunlight filled the rooms through slatted blinds, every piece to the game Marble Run littered the dining room floor. Two boxes of Legos sprawled the landscape of the living room. The basket of toys kept in there was overturned to showcase all of its belongings. The bits of popcorn amongst the toys I didn't get vacuumed up once the party-goers had gone to sleep still sprinkled the carpet. The new birthday presents were still under the birthday banner in the front room, only not pristinely wrapped anymore. Some of the contents of their boxes flung clear across the room by four excited boys. I told myself all day to clean it up as I stepped on things that made me howl in pain. But is there ever a better excuse to have the house in such disarray? We celebrated a birthday boy and that was the result. It felt appropriate to just be thankful for a happy mess than to worry about tidying up. So that's just what I did. Now I just need to pay attention when Damien holds one hand up with three fingers on it to show me how old he is. I think I may be the only person who doesn't believe him. My baby boy. 


Everything you do and say feels so unique. Your father and I get so much amusement and joy out of your simple gestures or tone of voice just because you're you! Even when you're upset you make us laugh. Balling up your tiny fists, pounding them on the table, and sticking your bottom lip out as far as it will go. Your temper is red hot and your sweet side is as pink as the cupcakes you insisted on. You have never stopped being a bubble of energy and easy to please. I pray I always remember to be grateful for you, just as you are, and for all time we get with you because you are such a wonderful little guy. 

I love you more than you'll ever know.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saying Goodbye

We moved from Kansas City to Dallas just under two years ago. It was our fourth big move as a couple, our third move for my husband's job, our second move with Kendan, and Damien's first. All of our belongings have been packed and unpacked more times than I care to think about. We have left behind so many beautiful homes and a lot of renovations and hard work put into them. Two nurseries have been disassembled and set back up in a new house; never fully capturing the love we poured into them originally, but cozy all the same. And so many goodbyes have been said to the most wonderful friends. So it does not come as a surprise to us that we are moving. Again. The plans have been in motion for over a month now. My husband has already been living and working in our new destination city. A beautiful home has been purchased and made ours, ready to be filled with our stuff and our memories. Preschool is all set up for Kendan on the other side. The movers will be at our Dallas home next week. And we are, once again, exchanging farewells with amazing friends. 

In some regards, I've become an expert at this. Drawers and closets have been raided for anything that can possibly be donated. Utility companies have already received a termination date from us. Grocery shopping was almost immediately cut in half as we attempted to eat everything out of our fridge and freezer. 

I was even able to quickly remove my emotional attachment from our current home; a skill I taught myself after it almost broke me in half to leave our house in Indiana. The excitement and joy I feel when we move into a new home takes a nose dive once I realize we are leaving it. Suddenly the cracks in the walls, that one stain on the carpet, even the tiny spiders who set up residency in the corners of our bathrooms, leave me feeling unattached and ready to move on. This detachment does get relief though as I walk out of the home once it's been emptied of our belongings, our life, of us. That part is hard. But it is quickly replaced with giddiness as the movers unload all of our boxes in our new house. Giddiness and stress when I realize I now have to unpack all of those boxes (but seriously, why don't the movers stick around and help me put all of that stuff away? Jerks). 

All of my "expertise" aside, there is still one aspect of moving I have not mastered. Saying goodbye. It never gets easier. It starts with telling our closest friends that the time has come for our family to uproot again. Just as those roots had begun to spread and wrap around these {still somewhat new} friends it is time to let them go. This part is sad enough but doesn't feel real when we discuss that we will still be around for a couple months. But that time goes fast. And suddenly it is one week before the end and the casual play dates we make have a solemn undertone. The last one. The last time our kids will play while we are living nearby. Never exactly sure as to when we will see them again. Instantly, everything feels nostalgic. One last walk with the friends we took many strolls with through paths in parks. One last weekly playgroup with people that welcomed us into the neighborhood a couple years ago. Even one last hour of sitting at a friend's house while our kids destroy the place in an effort to play with every toy in sight. It's all important to me. It's all memories I will cherish forever. Then the time is up. Someone is ready for lunch or needs a nap. And we officially have to give our fiftieth and final hug. Taking one million pictures of our children embracing. Secretly thanking God that they're still too young to know to be devastated by this. And wiping the tears off my cheeks as I reaffirm to my friend that we will return for visits (and we really will; you're never rid of me!). 

Today is the last full day at our home for my boys. Tomorrow I fly with them so they may stay with my in-laws during the moving process. But today we spend our time doing everything at this home one last time. Every thing. This morning was Kendan's last time to descend the stairs into our living room lit only by the sun peeking through the closed blinds. Into my room to wake his {still sleeping} mother. The last time I make Damien his requested "waffle sausage" in this kitchen. His final time to raid this pantry for crackers and cookies and dry cereal as a snack only ten minutes after breakfast. The boys will play in their playroom at the top of the stairs and will never see it again after tomorrow. Tonight will be the last bath time in their Batman themed bathroom. The last time I will tuck them into beds in separate rooms since they'll be sharing a room in the new house. 

While all of these final rituals have me feeling sentimental, it's not the house I'll miss. It's the boys in it. The time we all spent here as a family. This feeling of conclusion is only amplified by all of the farewells we said this week. I am so thankful that, along with all of the boxes and furniture, we get to take all of our memories and lifelong friendships with us as well. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


There wasn't anything especially different about this evening. In lieu of dinner, the boys and I did pop popcorn and watch a movie; I suppose that's not normal. But our typical routine of play time, bath time, and bed time followed shortly afterwards. Kendan had no issues with it, aside from not wanting to clean up the playroom or go to bed. But I noticed Damien was getting easily upset, having mini meltdowns at every turn. It could have been his lack of nap today, but it occurred to me that he didn't have much of a dinner. At two and a half years old, my son can eat far more than a child-sized bowl of popcorn as a meal. In fact, he eats more than anyone in the house! He will eat a waffle, strawberries, a cup of yogurt, a sausage link, and a hard boiled egg for breakfast; only to scoot up to Kendan's chair and finish off the leftovers once his big brother has left the table. So I decided it would be best to feed him before he slept. 

We said good night to Kendan, whose hunger was clearly satisfied as he willingly and cheerfully crawled into bed. I brought Damien into his room and whispered to him, "Let's go have a snack," as I dressed him in pajamas. His face lit up! "A snack?" he asked. "Shhhh!" The last thing I need when it is already past the boys' bedtime is to have them both downstairs in the kitchen goofing around. I softly explained to Damien that we needed to be quiet. To whisper. His sweet voice got lower and lower as he attempted to mimic the exact volume of my voice. Not quite getting it at first and continually testing whether he had it by asking, "Mommy?" I would gently remind him to whisper and when he finally said it again, in the sweetest softest voice, I answered him, "What?" His face exploded in a smile. I almost told him "Shhhh" just to be sure the excited grin didn't turn into a squeal. But he held it in.

We made it to the kitchen and I gave him grapes, almonds, a graham cracker, and a cup of water. He thanked me in his previously mastered whisper and I began to wash dishes. For a few moments I even forgot he was there. Aside from a mouse like chewing noise he kept very still and quiet. Then it dawned on me: I've never done this before. I've never sneakily spent time with Damien. He has never been out of bed while Kendan has been in bed. Sure, Kendan owns the house when Damien is napping during the day. But never the other way around. This was very special time with my youngest. Our first stolen moment past bed time to bond over secret crumbs all over the table. I immediately sat down across from him and purposely gave him my undivided attention. He smiled again, cracker between his teeth. Damien made flirty eyes and soft giggles as he diligently ate his snack. I was correct, he had to be hungry because he ate very quickly. He stopped only one time to take a sip of water. Drinking from a cup without a lid is a newer privilege for him since he can finally do so without spilling it all down his shirt. I watched as he held the cup between his adorable, puffy hands. His fingernails just past the point where they need to be trimmed. He placed the cup back onto the table and used his index finger to wipe away a droplet of water on the corner of his mouth. He went right back to eating the last quarter of his cracker. Being the master of procrastination that he is, the last three bites took him as long as the first ten. But I didn't mind. We were on borrowed bed time time. Just me and him. I snuck one of his grapes and he picked up the whole bowl and said, "Eat all of them," in his tiny whisper (grapes are not his favorite). I had to laugh and it came out a little louder than I had advised him to speak. He took the opportunity to chuckle loudly himself. The last of his cracker was in his mouth and I broke the news that it was bed time. Never being one to miss out on a calorie, Damien slid the two leftover almonds into his hand to bring with him on our short return to his room. They were gone before we made it there. 

We were very quiet when we closed his blinds and said his prayers. He snuggled his head into the blankie on my shoulder and we slowly rocked for a minute. I was grateful for the tiny amount of time with my sweet boy. One grain of sand in our hourglass spent teaching him to whisper and me soaking him in. Time used to flash grins at each other and share a secret. A secret he's not old enough to boast about to his big brother, but at the perfect age to know it was different and special.