Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Happy 7th Birthday, Matthew!

Last week, Matthew went to our local children's museum with one of his best buddies to play for the afternoon. They were hosting a kid-sized career fair where young children could explore all kinds of professions in order to learn all about the exciting things they can be when they grow up. There was an impressive showing at this pint-sized career fair: a chef from Wegmans, a firefighter, a veterinarian with a full-sized Golden Retriever to demonstrate how checkups are given, an engineer from GE, and a police officer. I was a little disappointed they did not offer any presentations from a lawyer, mortician, actuary, fast food worker, or accountant so the kids would have a true representation of all their career options, but you can't have everything. Total sarcasm.

While Matthew was there, he entered a drawing contest for a prize package. All he had to do was draw a picture of who he would like to be when he grows up. I heard all about the contest when Matthew came back from the museum: "They will call you Mommy if they pick my picture to be the winner!" I nodded, smiled, but didn't hold my breath.

However, the next morning my phone did ring and it was a very enthusiastic lady from the Children's Museum informing me that Matthew had in fact won the drawing contest. She proceeded to rave about his picture for the next five minutes: "Oh we simply loved his drawing! It was so adorable! It was definitely our favorite out of the bunch! You have a budding artist on your hand...."

Matthew has been really into breakfast sandwiches lately. Makes for an easy and delicious birthday breakfast!

With so much high praise, I couldn't wait to take a peek at this picture myself. Matthew is very artistically inclined but a lot of times when there are a lot of distractions about he tends to rush through his drawings. I was impressed that it sounded like he had actually put some time and effort into this award-winning piece of art. So, immediately after picking the winner up from school, we headed downtown to claim the prize.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a very nice lady at the front desk who went to the office of the Director and informed her: "Matthew the contest winner is here". Matthew was feeling pretty important. The Director came out and shook Matthew's hand and told him once more how impressed she was with his drawing. "We thought it was so wonderful that you want to be a Paleontologist when you grow up. That is just magnificent!"

"Yeah I want to dig up Maiasaurs in Montana. I'd be a good Paleontologist," Matthew said proudly.
"I'm sure you will be. Your picture was just lovely. We all loved it so very much! We will have to show your Mom. It was the cutest thing - he drew a picture of himself digging up a dinosaur!" the Director said as she rummaged about her office for the drawing.

When she finally brought it out, I glanced at it and in all honestly could not believe that this archaic crayon sketch was the winning picture in their art contest. Matthew had clearly spent about 20 seconds scribbling out in orange crayon image that could be generously interpreted as being a stout a stick figure man holding a crude shovel next to a blob that was in the general shape of a dinosaur. Cavemen drew better pictures with far less. However, he had clearly written across the top: "I am going to be a Paleontologist." And thank goodness for that because otherwise I would never have known what was being portrayed in that drawing. Matthew beamed up at me proudly and I smiled weakly. Not your best work, kid.

Matthew collected his prizes and took a couple more bows from a few additional members of the museum staff and then we headed back to the car. When we climbed back in Matthew proceeded to ask if we would be framing his picture and displaying it in the family room. I tried to gently explain to him, using the most tender and sweetest words I could muster, that the picture, while loved and adored by the museum, was really not the best thing he had ever drawn. I tried to emphasis that in a lot of his other drawings he uses much more color and adds far more detail and that is what makes them so wonderful. Please don't think of me as an unsupportive parent. I just know what my son is capable of and, trust me, that picture was reminiscent of something he may have drawn when he was three. Matthew himself agreed with me: "Yeah...I don't think this picture is very good because I just took two seconds to draw it. But they liked it so maybe we should frame it and let that lady hang it in her office!" I cracked up so hard. That lady really did seem to love it.

Matthew, Matthew, Matthew. He is now seven years old, a true milestone if there ever was one. I still remember turning seven. It as the birthday my parents always threw us a birthday party. I remember getting dressed up and sitting out on the front steps of our little house in Montana awaiting my guests beginning about an hour before the party was scheduled to start. Unfortunately, due to chaotic circumstances, I was not able to throw together a party of Matthew and I really do regret that.

The birthday boy, however, did not seem to care. He was just excited to FINALLY be seven: "Tomorrow I'm going to be SEVEN!" he said when I tucked him into bed on the eve of his birthday. He woke up extra early the morning of his birthday, around 5:00 AM to be exact, and came tiptoeing into my room, snuggled up next to me in bed, and whispered: "Here's your birthday boy!" I about wanted to cry. I still remember carrying him in my womb, feeling his little kicks, and excitedly anticipating the day he would be born and I would finally feel like a real mother, something I had always dreamed to be. I remember those first couple days after bringing him home and how freaked Paul and I were about taking care of our tiny baby boy - abstaining from flash photography, slathering his bottom in powder to avoid diaper rash, watching him carefully as he slept to ensure he was still breathing, playing the television at a volume only dogs could discern. We were such novices at the whole parenting thing and couldn't imagine every feeling any different. Now, in the blink of an eye, our firstborn is seven years old. He is reading, writing, and the proud older sibling to two little sisters. Paul and I are much more relaxed in our parenting but we continue to worry and stress over the future for our children, mainly hoping that we are doing our absolute best to ensure that they are instilled with sound formation and unshakable virtue. It's a work in progress and our job will never be perfect but I'm happy to say that despite any failings on our part as parents, not a day has gone by that I have not been so very proud of the sweet little boy that is my Matthew. He's a loyal friend, he's a lot of fun, he loves God and his faith, he's a whiz at math, he loves to read on his own but is always up for cuddling next to you to listen to a good book, he shares our love and enthusiasm for Star Wars, and he is an awesome older brother, especially to little Lucy.

He has grown so fast, so quickly. This memory popped into my newsfeed on Facebook the other day and I had to sit back and reflect on how quickly time has passed. I had completely forgotten about this incident but after reading about it in my own words, a wave of memories came flooding over me, not just of this particular moment but a number of moments where I could recall little Matthew - his expressions, his laugh, the way he would play with his hands as he babbled, and his ridiculously mischievous personality. Facebook has been great for reminding me of things I might have otherwise forgotten. This post was from January 2012 on what would have been Matthew's 2nd birthday:

"I'm making a banner for Matthew's birthday party on Saturday and I had bought some blue ribbon to hang it. I could not find it anywhere and was getting super frustrated rummaging through everything because I KNEW that it had just been sitting on the table. I jokingly asked Matthew: "Did you take Mommy's ribbon?" And he replied: "Yep!" and then headed over to his coffeemaker, opened the top, and proudly displayed my lost spool of ribbon carefully smuggled inside. I should have known."

Making Apple Pie on the floor with Miss Emma

Matthew requested that we dine at a cute little local pizzeria and we were pleasantly surprised by how cute, delicious, and enjoyable the experience was. The pizza was absolutely fantastic and Matthew declared the place his new favorite restaurant. Then, we went home where Emma and I had planned present hunt for Matthew. Emma and I came up with various places around the house to hide Matthew's gifts and then made little clues for hims to find leading him to them. He had a blast and Emma did a surprisingly good job at not giving away the secrets! After unwrapping his presents - books, new pajamas, a T-Rex shirt, a build-your-own mechanical dinosaur kit - it was time for birthday pie. That's right, Matthew is not much of a cake person but he loves his Momma's apple pie. So, earlier that day, I had used my floor as my countertop and made him an apple pie from scratch. It took about three times longer than it normally takes me but it got done and the birthday boy was pleased. He blew out every single one of his candles with gusto.

Yes, we still have Christmas lights up in the background. No judgment, please.

Matthew, you make your parents proud ever single day. You have such a sweet little soul and I admire how much you love your family, friends, and God. I wish I could keep you little forever, but I know that I must share you with the world because you have so much to give! However, no matter how many years pass by, you will always be my precious little boy. I love you, Matthew. And not just because you are an award-winning artist. Happiest of Birthdays to you!


  1. Sorry, but I'm going to have to chastise you for not posting a picture of Mathews drawing. After all, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!

    1. Haha! I posted a picture in my post labeled "Lessons from the Terrible Threes." I can't believe I forgot to include one on this post.

  2. I would need to agree...I think we need a post of the drawing. :)

    1. I posted it in the blog post just published on February 3rd. Check it out and prepare to be underwhelmed!

  3. Kudos to you for making an apple pie on the floor! I think I would have just used no kitchen as an excuse!

    1. Believe me, I wanted to but I couldn't make myself buy pie from the store. I just didn't look good! And it was my little boy's birthday! I HAD to make something from scratch!