Birthday Shark Clubbing and UFOs

We had Jack’s birthday party on Saturday. I started baking his cake Friday night (it took WAY longer than it should have). Saturday morning I started on the frosting while David strung up the piñata and handed Jack a golf putter.

Now, word to the wise – it takes a WHILE for a scrawny six year old to get a piñata open. There is a reason these things are supposed to have a billion kids whacking at it! Jack had to take a break at one point because he got so tired from swinging the putter. While he took a break, David tampered with the shark a bit so that when Jack came back it wouldn’t be long before it starting spewing its insides.

shark pinata

Jack clubbing the shark

Jack loved it. He picked each thing up as it flew out of the piñata to marvel at it. This is another reason it took forever to get through that thing! I had stuffed all kinds of random stuff inside the night before, including leftover fortune cookies and fruit snacks. When the owl keychain I loaded in there flew out, Jack brought it to me immediately and said, “Mom, I think you should have this because you really like owls.” Aww!

I had some major troubles with Jack’s cake – everything was taking longer than it was supposed to, the caramel for the icing seized up the first time, and my buttercream freaked out and tried to turn into cottage cheese at one point. Luckily, I was able to fix it and and slap the UFO cake together. I’m pretty proud of how it came out and everyone else thought it was delicious! I added some monster cupcakes for the kiddies.

UFO Cake
monster cupcakes

I don’t think Jack even noticed that he didn’t have a big party with all of his friends there – he seems perfectly happy with the celebration and I think it was a great birthday party regardless of the size. Yay!

make a wish

Jack’s wish is to bring a dragon to life.

Six Years Ago Today

Jack’s birth was not an easy one. At 41.5 weeks, I was induced and it took 30 hours of contractions before real labor kicked in. Once there, it was another 9.5 hours until the kid was born. Until the very end, he refused to drop and hung out in my rib cage. He also did flips the entire time, so when he was finally born – purple – his umbilical cord was wrapped around his body three times. You can see his still-mottled coloring in this picture, which was taken after they gave him oxygen:

Can you believe that hair? That kid has the craziest amount of hair I’ve ever seen. He was born with sideburns! Even now, after six months of chemo, he’s hanging on to a bunch of hair still! He’s totally my fuzzy little ewok. (He was born up where they filmed the ewok scenes, you know!)

Jack was so aware right from the beginning. He often had a wrinkled forehead and looked so serious. He stared at me with those big, serious eyes early on:

Jack at 5 days old

He smiled and babbled early, too – he was *JACK* right from the beginning. It was easy to see that this little guy had a big personality just waiting to burst out.

Jack smiles at 5 weeks old

We had so many nicknames for him. Jackie. Jackazoid. Jackonaut. Jackington. Jackaroo. Bubba. Mister. They all fit, even today as he dresses up constantly and pretends to be a super hero or an alien or a sea creature.

I can’t believe he’s six. And yet, I feel like my life didn’t exist before he came along. He changed the state of things, that’s for sure. It’s because of him I’ve come so far in therapy. He’s made my life exponentially better and I don’t know what I would do without him.

Happy birthday, sweet boy!

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Jack’s Birthday Piñata

I wanted to do something special for Jack’s birthday. I love Jack’s birthday (mine, not so much!). And this year seems extra important, especially considering that most of the craptastic parts of his Leukemia treatment are behind us!

Jack has made two requests for his birthday. The first was that he wants a cake AND cupcakes (no problem – that’s an easily arranged request). The second was actually a wish he stated aloud:

“I wish I could have a piñata at my birthday but with only me hitting it!”

The thing is, Jack is currently neutropenic (immuno-compromised) and we can’t have a big party with a bunch of germ-factory kids hanging around. Instead we will have a small family BBQ and he’ll have two of his cousins to play with. It’s seems lame to me, but I know he’ll have fun anyway. And when his immune system (and our bank account) recovers, we’ll go rent that bounce house we promised him and invite all his friends over to play!

The piñata is Jack’s consolation prize. It’s fairly inexpensive and he’ll get to beat something with a bat and he’ll love it. But what to fill it with when he’s the only kid whacking it? His sweet teeth is almost non-existent since the chemo…

I went searching on Amazon (Prime shipping is a mom’s best friend!) and here’s what I came up with:

Shark piñata (he loves Scooby Doo and dragons too much to hit them with bats)

Filled with chocolate candies and…

Mini Plush Monsters

LED Finger Lights
Glow In the Dark Lizards

Monster Head Suckers

I plan to take a couple of each of these things and give them out to the kids at the party in treat bags, along with pairs of these awesome alien glasses:

I hope he likes everything. It incorporates many of his favorite things and won’t create a ton of clutter! The piñata also doubles as a birthday present ’cause I’m lazy like that.

I’m looking forward to being able to grant him this wish. He deserves it!

Off to Kindergarten

My baby went off to school today.  He is going to come back home this afternoon and then can I even refer to him as my baby anymore??  I don’t know.

Last night Jack picked out the clothes he would wear on his first day of school.  This morning I asked if he had any breakfast requests and he asked for pancakes.  I made banana chocolate chip pancakes for him (and for me).  His dad arrived at our house at 8:10 this morning and David, Joe, Jack, and I all walked to school together for the orientation (the school is two blocks away).

Orientation was…boring.  It droned on pretty long and Jack was bored (as was I).  I’m not sure if the staff actually intended to put the kids to sleep but they definitely were subdued by the time the announcements ended and the kindergartners headed to class.  We were told that while it used to be that kids just had to learn how to spell and write their name and count to 30 upon leaving kindergarten, the expectation now is that they are able to read and write sentences by the end of the academic year.  Now I’m feeling pretty freaking glad that we seemingly got a head start on that.  If he went in not knowing how to write or read a damned thing, I would be more worried.  Luckily he can read (he just doesn’t have the patience for sentences quite yet) and write pretty well.

Did you know kindergartners have homework?  Oh yes!  Jack will get homework Monday through Thursday.  Wowwee.

I didn’t cry and neither did Jack.  He did get nervous when he discovered that his “little white bunny” wasn’t in his backpack but he had notes from both me and Joe to remind him that we love him.  I made sure to let him know that this was everyone’s first day at school and they were all nervous, too.  That seemed to help.

Update this afternoon – Upon picking him up this afternoon Jack told David and I that his day was “wonderful…I can’t wait to go back tomorrow!”  Success!

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The next phase

My boy is 5 tomorrow.  Rather than shower him with more toys than he possibly needs, I thought it would be better to give him an experience.  So we’re waking up bright and early(ish) to take him to the amusement park in Vallejo called Discovery Kingdom.  He has alternately been excited at the prospect and worried about the rides.  I’m hoping he sees how fun the kiddie roller coasters are and goes for it once we’re there!

His dad and step-mom threw a birthday party this past Sunday in a park (pictures are here).  A bunch of kids came and everyone ran around being goofy.  Jack got a ton of “help” with opening birthday presents and was a very good sport about it.  He got a ton of awesome stuff and we were able to split up the ‘loot’ between our two households without trouble.

He is growing in leaps and bounds.  He is out of the T-sizes completely now.  He goes through shoes like nobody’s business (each pair lasts maybe 2 months) and it seems like he never stops eating (or talking).  That kid will pretty much eat anything.  I think his favorite food right now is pickled cabbage!

He can read and write so many words and sentences.  He has asked questions like, “why does elephant have a p in it?”  I was only slightly annoyed by a recent picture he drew because I was also proud that he spelled it all on his own (the yin yang is a product of seeing Kung Fu Panda not too long ago):

He knows a ton about Vikings and Jotuns, thanks to his dad.  He’s going to be quite the History buff in school, I’m thinking.

Jack loves aliens and “scary shows.”  Scooby Doo is his favorite, followed closely by Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.  He spends a ton of time drawing aliens and constructing Lego spaceships.  It doesn’t seem to matter that I suck with Legos – I just tell him it’s a space buggy or space glider and he totally buys it.

He is amazing with little kids.  He is the popular one in daycare and also the oldest.  His little friends gather around when he arrives in the morning to see what he’s brought with him and to show him anything they’ve brought.  It’s damned adorable!  Jack’s little cousin Sabrina was here this weekend and Jack was so good about showing her how to do various things (like putting toys back on the shelf in Target) – even when Sabrina wasn’t so much about listening.  It seems like he was a born leader and a born older brother figure.  That makes my heart squishy.

He seems to be more afraid of things lately.  He worries about monsters in the dark and asks about death.  I have been assured that this is fairly typical of a 5 year old.  Still, it hurts my heart when he cries for an hour because he’s afraid his friend Syndey is going to “stretch her arm into our house and steal [his] books.”  It’s heartbreaking and hilarious all at the same time.

I can’t believe I have a five year old.  Happy birthday, sweet boy.

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The Keys to the Kingdom

Jack can read.

This is CRAZY to me.  He’s not even 5 yet!  Actually he’s been able to read words for a few months as far as I can tell – it’s hard to say because he is a closet reader.  He is the type of kid who doesn’t like to show that he can do something until he can do it perfectly.  That’s how it went with potty training, too – he stopped peeing in his diaper at night by age 2 but didn’t decide to use the toilet until somewhere near age 4 (I honestly can’t recall) and then it was all in!  He had very few accidents once he decided he was a big boy.

So I’ve suspected for some time that he could read but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he was at his dad’s and officially read a book that he hadn’t read before.  He has been reading the backs of buses and is picking out episodes of Ben 10 (his ultimate favorite show) to watch from the Tivo by title.

He can also write his name, dad, mom, and this weekend I went into his room to find “THOAR!” on his magnedoodle.  (The kid loves exclamation points).  He signed his name on all of his Valentine’s treats back in February.  He draws letters randomly on all of his artwork.  He’s kind of obsessed.

I let Jack know that he has a super power now that he can read – he can figure out secrets that are written down and everything.  ;)   I can’t wait until HE is reading books to ME at bedtime!

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A little step

I did it.  I filled out the application for Jack to attend elementary school in Fall 2011.  I’ll swing by the SFUSD this week to turn it in and verify my identity and address.  After that we’ll get to sit back and wait to see whether Jack gets into any of the 10 requested schools.  We won’t know until March or so.  Jack will get a bit of sway when it comes to our #2 school because of where we live but since he has no siblings, is white, and speaks only English he is much further down on the list of students with priority.  With that said, we live in an area where half of our neighbors probably send their kids to private school and there is a huge portion that are not white, so Jack might just be the minority.  I really don’t know but we will find out.

In the mean time I am fighting to get Jack to daycare in the mornings.  He is increasingly resistant to going.  Today in particular he was not interested in going to daycare or going to his dad’s house afterward.  He said, “I just feel like staying home with you forever.”  I told him I know how he feels, that I don’t like going to work and would love to stay home, too.  In fact, I had nightmares about going to work last night!  Of course now he is going around saying he is having nightmares about going to daycare…oops.

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Random notes on Jack

  • He wants to be a bat for Halloween.  NOT Batman (which is unfortunate because he has quite a few costume options there).
  • He is determined to grow his hair long “like a Viking warrior.”  I have a feeling this idea came from his dad.  I haven’t been able to convince him to cut his hair yet and, to be honest, it is pretty cute.  Still, I’ve taken to calling him Beiber Boy, especially when he swings his head to get the hair out of his eyes.
  • Jack is suddenly very modest.  I’m not allowed to see his “parts” and usually have to leave the room while he is getting dressed (even if he is getting dressed in the living room).  This made for a conundrum during bath time last night because he wanted company while bathing.  I was instructed to look at the ceiling at all times, even while launching him into the bath like a rocket.
  • Naps appear to be a thing of the past.  Jack doesn’t seem to need them anymore and bedtime goes more smoothly without them anyway.
  • Jack will do almost anything for chocolate.
  • Scooby-Doo is now a big deal.  I wish he would have consulted me first.
  • We can usually interrupt Jack’s television or movie watching if we promise to record it.  He has that Tivo down these days and even paused a show all by himself to use the bathroom.
  • By the way, he is super fully potty trained.  He can still hold it for hours, though.  It’s pretty awesome that he uses the toilet, wipes his butt, and washes his hands all without help.
  • He is a child of a million questions, usually something that goes like, “What does doll mean?”  I feel like a walking dictionary.
  • Half the time he says something so grown up sounding that we feel like we couldn’t have heard him right.  I couldn’t figure out what the hell he was saying about “My gray shun” and that was because he was talking about migration.  It’s not totally my fault, though – when he’s not using big words, he is making up words like “swack” and “cackrages.”
  • Thankfully, Jack will still snuggle with me.  Other than that, I can hardly see a trace of baby Jack in him.  He is growing up!  *sniff*
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Jack is Four

Jack has had three birthday parties this year.  That kid is so spoiled!  Friday he had cupcakes with his daycare buddies, Sunday we had a small party for him at my house, and yesterday his dad threw a shindig for him.  Jack asked me over the weekend several times, “Why is it still my birthday?”  I explained that we were celebrating on different days, but that his actual birthday is July 13.  He refused to say he was four until then, so I think he somewhat understood…

Our decor was a mixture of Transformers, Iron Man, Spiderman, and Toy Story – all picked by Jack, of course.  He loved every bit of the party, especially the part where his cousin Isha and his best friend Sydney “came to my house!”

Photos are courtesy of David and Sarahndipitea who snapped these with my crappy point-and-shoot.

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Fantastical Four!

Jack is…I don’t know how to explain it.  He is like JACK.  Or *****JACK*****!!  He is more Jack than I thought Jack could be.  One moment he is melting me by saying something amazingly adorable like “I certainly am feeling better” while tilting his head to the side; the next he is full out bawling because I told him he couldn’t climb on me like a mountain.  “Mom, it hurts my feelings when you’re mad at me!”  He is Jack*10, an emotional whirlwind of a kid turning 4 years old in four days.  He radiates.

His memory is astounding.  Last night David was recounting a conversation the two had in the car on the way home and Jack corrected him, “I didn’t say dinosaur, I said dragon!”  Prior to going to Texas with his dad, I told him we would go see Toy Story 3 when he got back.  Over a week later, I showed up at his dad’s and the first thing he asked was, “Are we going to see Toy Story?!?!?!”  (Gone are the days where I can promise him anything and be lucky enough that he forgets about it completely…)  He talks about his Aunt Holly and cousin Sabrina all the time and he hasn’t even seen them in 6 months!

I don’t know how this kid has the energy he does.  He didn’t fall asleep until after 11pm last night and was bright and bouncy this morning.  David insisted that he stay in bed when he awoke at 5:45am; thank goodness he fell back to sleep for a bit and bought us a few more Z’s.  Still, the adults are dragging and Jack was racing me to the car on the way to daycare.

Jack wants to know everything.  He is in the WHY stage.  He doesn’t ask the same why question over and over, thankfully.  I think we must be pretty good at flooding him with information in answer to his questions.  I’ve had a difficult time explaining how the days of the week work, though.  He thinks every day that the sun comes up is Sunday.  :P   I’ve attempted to explain that today is Friday because it comes after Thursday and that there is an order to the days in a week but…”NO mom, it’s SUNDAY! See the sun?!”  Erm, okay.  I think it’s time to put a calendar up in his room.

Until recently, Jack refused to sing or dance (and he threw a fit if I tried!).  These days he is humming to himself constantly, telling himself stories while sitting on the potty, and asking to listen to Lady Gaga (yeah…I don’t know – he is also convinced that Rihanna is pretty and dances well even though he has only heard her on the radio.  He is a big fan.).  We dance around the house together without a care in the world.  He is constantly acting out “movies” that are basically him acting like a Transformer or Buzz Lightyear.  “Hey, mom, wanna watch THIS movie about gigantic aliens?? *pew* *pew* *pew*”  This picture was taken in daycare where he staged a dinosaur attack:

It always astonishes me to see how much love surrounds Jack (even the people who don’t like kids love him!).  He is a favorite everywhere he goes – to the point where I wonder if some people only acquaint themselves with me because of him (I’m serious – he has more adults coming to his birthday party than kids).  He is the leader at daycare and all the other kids want what Jack has (even if it’s just a knit hat that he calls a Viking helmet).  They will even try whatever veggie Jack devours – from bell pepper to asparagus.  (He is convinced that these foods will help him fly, by the way.)

I can’t help but think back to when he was a baby.  There were certainly elements of his personality there from the beginning but never could I have imagined that he would grow into the child he is now.  I’m astounded by this kid and totally blessed to have him as my son.  I adore him and my life is so much richer and more meaningful with him in it.

Tuesday is Happy Birth Day to us both.

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