To my husband on his fortieth birthday

Dear Stacy,

I still remember the first time I saw you: March 31, 2005, University of Louisville, Davidson Hall, Dr. Jones Black Political Thought class. It was my best friend’s 23rd birthday. We were debating if we should stay on campus to hear Michael Eric Dyson speak or go get an early start on drinking (drinking won, by the way).

You burst into the classroom, loud, gregarious, and full of smiles, three things I would eventually come to learn were very you. You embraced Doc in a hug, and my first thought was: “Damn. Doc has some good-looking friends.”

You proceeded to join the class debate on Booker T and DuBois, making an impassioned defense of Booker T in our very pro-Dubois class. You brought many people over to your side only to immediately admonish them for not being about shit and changing their mind to suit the tide.

I smiled to myself, amused. I enjoyed watching you for the rest of class, left with my best friend, and didn’t think a thing of it until May.

In May, I saw you again. Standing with my same best friend, I asked her, “Isn’t that Doc’s hot friend who came to class on your birthday?” My best friend was endlessly better than me with faces and names. I didn’t trust my judgment. She squinted at you and shook her head. “I don’t think so, Luc.”

But I knew it was you. I’d committed your face to memory without even realizing it.

You were back at UofL and you were teaching. I was getting ready to complete my senior year. One day you saw me in the Pan African Studies computer lab. The first thing you ever said to me was very romantic.

“What are you doing here?” you demanded asked.

Printing a paper for class, I told you. We exchanged names. I was wearing black shorts and a blousy yellow top. Walking to the printer I could feel your eyes on me, and I remember feeling simultaneously cute and incredibly self-conscious.

I began sitting on the ledge between Davidson and Strickler, hoping to see you. I would smile and wave, but sigh internally. You were a professor, I was a student. I was too young, to white, too shy. One day, eating lunch on the ledge with a friend I made meet me there everyday, you smiled and called out my name in greeting just as I was grumbling that you probably didn’t even remember it.

10247492_10100976865979924_4910088068714395126_n

I spent a lot of time on that ledge summer 2005.

On June 25, 2005 a girl asked to use my phone. She called someone, looking for a ride, but he didn’t answer. I would learn later she was the sister of your best friend, and the buddy she called was you.

That evening Fourth Street Live would change everything.

Who cares that Fourth Street Live is literally one of the shittest, douche-baggiest places in the city to go out for drinks? You and I were both there. I saw you. You saw me.

You looked up that missed call from earlier – the number you called back and knew was me when my voicemail picked up. You stepped away, called my number.

“Bet you didn’t know I had your number,” you said as I gasped, spinning around where you stood, smiling.

(We should really send Erica a thank you card).

We talked for four hours straight. As bars closed down at 4am we discovered we lived around the corner from one another.

You came over to the big, strange house I lived in with my friends. We talked more, and we kissed, and I felt this immediate rightness.

We started hanging out every day. You were so quick-witted, so funny, so everything I looked for in a guy but never seemed to find.

On day three I told my best friend I thought I could fall in love with you. I said it tentatively, feeling foolish and self-conscious because I already knew I was in love with you. And that was ridiculous, wasn’t it?

It wasn’t.

When you read some of my writing, something I’d shared with countless boyfriends but received only blank stares and mumbled comments in return, you immediately called me a great writer. You were sure I’d write a book some day. Maybe we would write a book together.

(Since then I’ve written almost four books).

You had me from that moment. Since that day, I’ve been yours.

The nearly ten years following that summer have been full of highs and lows and troubles. Looking back, I am not sure how we survived. There were moments I thought we would not make it as a couple, that the age difference, the race difference, the job struggles, they were all too much and we would surely break under the weight of all the bullshit.

We did not break.

We grew stronger.

And, my love, seeing you at forty? It was worth every single minute.

What an amazing life we’ve built.

What an amazing man you are.

You brought me into the lives of your oldest sons. You brought me my family.

1923649_521501210614_9462_n

I fell in love with you when you saw me. I knew I would marry you when I saw you with your children.

You are an amazing father. It is simply what you were born to be.

62133_538848972802791_1828096811_n 183673_460868380600851_1014309944_n

You make fatherhood look effortless.

284204_240306722657019_4856777_n

You are nurturing and kind, caring for our babies when they are sick.

1923869_539949041014_5702_n

You are playful and silly, delighting in our children on a daily basis.

225783_210182009002824_787103_n 229147_210182042336154_6654437_n 1935311_101416833212676_6474100_n 1934314_535361474534_65_n 1934314_535361444594_9153_n

1930420_538351821854_667_n

You are an affectionate, hands on dad, teaching our children through  example that nurturing knows no gender.

1913933_100392159981810_4334159_n 1913933_100391919981834_8231968_n 1930170_537317649344_2314_n 1934314_535361434614_8800_n 1934314_535361429624_8599_n 1934314_535361414654_8101_nYou have been my lover and my best friend for almost ten years. You are hands down one of the most incredible people I have ever known, and it is impossible to imagine my life without you.

You walked through hell with me were there for me through law school and the whole stadium heard you holler my name at graduation.

3846_597340208654_4304353_n

You make a great santa.

17836_637293167604_6491684_n

You’re good in a clutch moment.

20636_634407759984_6707160_n

When I said I wanted to run a half marathon you said “cool” in your nonchalant way. I started training. Seven weeks later you started training with me, and you kept up on a seven mile run like it was nothing. Even at forty it is easy to see the high school athlete and the military man of your twenties. You crossed the finish line with me, even though you could have easily left me in the dust.

1396004_10100796895716774_1696568545_n

You travel with me.

10303731_768945136459839_8006680568118961790_n

Estes Park

10403453_767742309913455_5754437145435393710_n

Loveland Peak

1913935_100645076623185_1513231_n

Puerto Rico

1923649_521501195644_8605_n

Florida.

I love the way you hear music. Music speaks to you the way books speak to me – straight to your heart until it fills up every part of you. I love when you sing. I love going to concerts with you.

17836_637111247174_7245591_nJay Z, Blueprint III Tour

You go black tie with me.

250089_817826826704_2108604_n

And protest with me.

536976_10151419475185427_1288385872_nRally for Trayvon Martin

You’re willing to do anything for your family, including cut your hair so you could get the job you wanted.

You got it.

559204_554486861239002_195704951_n

And you smooth grew your hair and beard right the fuck back out, too.

1544539_816935944994091_3630435962019155684_n

Because you know I love your beard.

Our older boys don’t quite realize how dope you are, but they will.

10898067_895261520494866_9158627086540974678_n 10614324_798931976794488_4068928203158731583_n

You give really good birthday surprises.

10675535_847169605304058_8975438507692665896_n

Really good.

10675753_847169625304056_940771043557286898_n

Really, incredibly, amazingly good.

10665134_847169658637386_1610005567497173118_n

And even before you had the ring you wanted to give me, you had me as your wife. I married you in my bare feet in St. James Court, in my dress from Target, adorned only with the clip Karen brought for my hair. Your best friend married us and we took shots of whiskey in the courtyard, giggling and gathering our things as the people paying tens of thousands of dollars to have a wedding in the same spot arrived to set up their chairs.

263652_10100236928764733_7037281_n

How do I find the words to tell you how much I love the life we have built? How thankful I am for our family?

17836_637290398154_2560203_n1909708_521501165704_2219_n1913933_100391533315206_6022027_n1913935_100658396621853_7921025_n17759_10151868277279937_548192666_nHow thankful I am for you?

10372255_769307636423589_1416820433183959454_n 68561_10151868277564937_410525841_n 17836_637294140654_3276893_n 20636_634674944544_649944_n 1005844_10100860187015504_481217733_n 17836_637282598784_4208053_nThis is forty, my love. And it looks damn good on you.

Happy, happy birthday.

Love always,

LB

To My Star Boy on His Seventh Birthday

Dear Sirius,

Today you turn seven years old.

Six was a phenomenal year, and it was markedly different from the five that came before. Six was the year that my baby (seemingly) all but disapeared and a boy stood firmly in his place. This was the year you began engaging with the world on your owns terms, and it was both amazing and heartbreaking for your parents.

10570368_805324689488550_8875555500686266160_n

For five full years, your father and I built a life for you of which we are exceedingly proud. Your life is a house built on the foundation of a strong, close family, built up brick by brick with amazing friends, and enriched with a great school, artistic and diverse experiences, and a heck of a lot of legos. We hand picked every person and thing in your life.

1426310_10101256589636474_2815796582287234260_n

And oh, how I love watching you run and play with those people in your life.

10320422_10101031839966614_518857813486696991_n 10439486_10101096995219964_7966755182048346894_n 10676219_10101273816458784_3016894348376342356_n997033_10101133753536004_3937499056259772624_n

Six was the year you started letting us know how you wanted to decorate your house. This is most evident in your friendships.

For five full years all of your best friends were the kids of our best friends. The people who are more like family, who you have known your entire life. This year you picked your own best friend, Lincoln.

10635994_816935484994137_8161574834947026773_n

10665068_816935508327468_6431777245990981760_n

Six was the year you chose Lincoln, and he chose you right back. You are two peas in a pod, matching each other in sweetness, silliness, and sensitivity. He made you a friendship bracelet for your birthday so you could be “best friends forever.” As I navigate the emotional minefield of watching you build your own life, I couldn’t be luckier that Lincoln was your first choice.

There are so many things I want you to know about your sixth trip around the sun.

You continue to be really into art. You’re a great artist.

1601357_10100993844829174_8769498205831550482_n 10274271_10101012758491044_6021040424517060564_n10337743_10101014399143164_677344816862104023_n10171671_10101012758446134_1404170459955057105_n

Spring semester Kindergarten year you made everyone in your class a handmade card.

1922327_10100909520610584_664742966_n

You like to color with me and Dad.

933871_10101235031539074_2284431858971071632_n 10403143_801703129850706_6341110195414241677_n

At six, legos are still basically the coolest thing ever.

1505400_10100869846961894_472924765_n

You’re also quite the chess player.

10405614_832379346783084_2529104623683681619_n 1798605_10100909839676174_593718131_n

You’re a problem solver and a negotiator (the latter, sometimes to your detriment). This was your solution to Dad’s rule about one dip per carrot stick.

10712957_836588713028814_5974638176677832480_n

While you can be rowdy and oblivious, you are also incredibly sweet and gentle. You truly love babies, and intrinsically know how to soothe them. When you meet a new baby, like Ruby, you ask to hold them.

10665847_10101204784793794_4851043046351382571_n

You went to Disney World for the first time. Our first day in Magic Kingdom, 4pm rolled around and grandma was taking the little boys back to the condo. You had a choice – go with them, or stay with us – and if you stayed with us, you had to ride every ride. Rollercoasters included.

You can now say you’ve ridden Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Mount Everest and too many other rides to name. Your favorite rides were the 4D Transformers and Spiderman rides at Universal Studios.

1016933_732515960102757_7749598014428030843_n

10300796_10101055355151994_7009628119743832911_n 1982099_10100981193816904_2905633503694232831_n 10300000_10101055352527254_3316129280416591_n 10360855_10101055354308684_2613947025309663553_n

You also made your first trip out west – Denver, Colorado. You visited museums and played with the mountains as your backdrop.

You rode a horse up into the mountains.

10383952_768945446459808_5309699085981663195_n

You visited the continental divide and threw a snowball at 12,000 feet.

1970987_767742236580129_4717109268096185981_n

10356138_10101071391684654_4799597771023624358_n

10441177_10101071409613724_1429908435410334449_n

And you got to spend some time with the Kaelins, hanging out and picking strawberries in Aunt Vicki’s garden.

10325547_10101067004207194_4420693720509147824_n

Aside from some big time travel, you did some pretty regular six year old stuff. You lost your two front teeth.

10154212_10100961532418504_1053455524_n

You went to see Godzilla in theatres with your papa, and dressed appropriately. He took you to the last 30 minutes only – the epic monster battle – because the whole movie would have bored you, with all the grownup talking parts. By the end of your sixth year, you were watching Godzilla from start to finish, following the story.

10303790_10101053551037454_2040036614765688206_n

10354589_10101053549405724_8548473239294542084_n

You started first grade.

1451488_10101146288969894_8861273605692764355_n

You’re such a great reader. You read James and the Giant Peach in three days, and you loved it.

1979896_723597034327983_2075478361_n

10671322_10101294385593074_8407062094645158596_n

10734011_855395944481424_2152307429293202317_n

You still get up pretty early and when you’re ready to sleep, by god, you are going to sleep.

In the car after school.

1796606_10100942801570274_1240695486_n

At restaurants.

10306473_10101047612014304_7780056345479092526_n

In airports.

1535391_10100988732140044_6044217327280107706_n

At Halloween parties.

64750_10101242774142834_1073972557480327709_n

Sometimes you still have to be carried, and sometimes you pretend like you are asleep just so you can be carried.

10628560_10101274827971704_41073843160406729_n

And I am happy to say you still take naps with your brother, a simple act so sweet it makes my heart ache every time.

10460735_10101078632713574_2578105612574757554_n 10177968_10101006976348504_8733975730148078651_n 10411996_10101198282913614_5424423842071822085_n 10387710_10101262933777764_304254669098772543_n 11412_862621293758889_538562026240435551_n

1926818_702035329817487_533494811_n

You are great at keeping your big brothers close even when they are far away.

1975194_10100941082754794_560006391_n

Though you’re definitely happiest when they are all near.

10173816_10100979645629484_1809974610686518650_n

You and Sam. Peanut butter and jelly.

1902919_10101198881354334_6172563370424458519_n 10273529_10101029029309194_7677848311383578966_n 1012937_885045834849768_2464532641999337535_n 10469201_10101065392676714_2451460083783601558_n 10155695_10100963079438264_2023196676_n

Every day you look more like your daddy.

7356_805324662821886_9023449552059008795_n

And I am so very, very thankful that you’re still into snuggling.

1978621_10100932257121434_1586146492_n 10479604_787244407963245_7028399982370987421_n 10374503_10101271594865874_5449897740994985922_nI am endlessly thankful for you. My big reader, my silly boy, my bright, shining star. There are never any words that are enough for how much I love you. This letter never gets easier to end because how do I end a letter when there is no salutation that captures the combination of joy, ache and pride I hold in my heart?

I’ll keep trying.

Until then –

Love always,

Your mama

10665114_10101203089521134_5111529842121265280_n

To My Fire Boy on his Fourth Birthday

You, my dear, sweet boy, you have what we like to call character.

unnamed

Some people drift through life. You are not one of them. You do not drift. You run, you jump. Sometimes I suspect you fly.

1536504_10100852022686884_951826467_n

Three was a heck of a year. I am honestly teary already, which I think must be a record when it comes to these letters.

383139_560235217330833_2077150044_n

Your curls slay me. Your eyelashes, too.

1381867_10100772759810324_1932374575_n

You are really into puzzles.

1969132_711693028851717_518876825_n

You are even more into building things. You make these big, elaborate architectural creations from the blocks I keep in a basket in the living room. You build one, carefully, meticulously, almost every day. I think they’re incredible.

10169338_10100963076104944_1224061255_n

1601256_10100875601000754_103881815_n 1625610_10100927246073614_241799888_n 1959871_10100926660347414_92384388_n 1920403_701964506491236_44639281_n 1962611_711692918851728_518913598_n

You learned to write your name. You absolutely know it is spelled “Sam” but you like to write it “Sma.” This is very you.

1010418_693839663970387_131379335_n

You are funny.

1900082_10100942803261884_1067919373_n

And mischievous.

1506845_10100851072251564_1167015576_n

And too clever for your own good.

1546400_711692888851731_536274071_n

At three you still take naps. Long ones.

1926818_702035329817487_533494811_n 1459689_10100806017611424_2017133164_n

Sometimes you still fall asleep on me. Right now you’re still small enough to fit. When I write you a letter next year I’m not sure if that will still be the case. So when you want to sleep on me, I usually stop whatever I’m doing and let you.

943735_10100602236685034_2143145496_n 1508207_10100850830231574_1913149030_n

1660854_10100921693990034_1033353257_n

You’re my little cardinals fan.

1610016_10100960606933184_1984508337_n 1236925_10100726285764684_1820896683_n

You have conversation skills that blow me away. Your dad and I joke that you’re better at talking to strangers (when we still lived in Old Louisville, this was mostly college girls) than most grown men (your go-to line – “Hi, my name is Sam Brooks. What’s your name?”). You are emotionally astute in a way a lot of kids – hell, a lot of people – aren’t.

Just too dang grown sometimes.

1383432_10100948272905674_477990080_n

It’s still uncanny how you say things exactly the same as Goldie, or make faces like him.

59218_10151868276324937_1065314359_n

Even though you’re getting older you’re still the youngest. Sometimes you don’t like it and sometimes you don’t mind.

20895_10151868276984937_1377215724_n

And you and Sirius? Man, that’s what being brothers is all about.

10155695_10100963079438264_2023196676_n

Remember your hug-nose-kiss routine I told you about in your letter last year? In the past year it has transformed. It’s current form is: blow it up, ears, arms, noses, kiss cheek-nose-cheek-forehead (twice), lips, then hugs (usually ten). You ask for this every night and every day when I drop you off at daycare. Now that I think of it, you approach hugs and kisses the same way you build your elaborate structures.

14083_10151868277319937_761964560_n

Speaking of daycare drop off, you usually go straight to a cot and lay down. You, my sweet boy, are not a morning person. You are a night owl and would be happiest on a 10 – 10 sleep schedule. Unfortunately for you, we don’t live that life.

You’re mornings are subsequently pretty grumpy.

1978603_10100953095725704_1140721848_n

I would be remiss to leave your first trip to the emergency room (the first trip of any of our children, actually) out of the letter. It was the day before your dad’s birthday. You were watching a movie with Sirius in our room – you know, the room with the no-wrestling rule.

You guys were wrestling.

I heard Sirius’s screams before I could hear you, and when I ran upstairs all I saw was blood. Your dad sat down with Sirius to calm him down. He was hysterical, devastated and scared that he hurt you when he swung you into the dresser and you landed precisely on the corner of the slightly opened drawer. I took you to the bathroom and started wiping the blood from your face, pressing a wash cloth into the cut, watching the washcloth slowly turn pink. When I got the nerve to pull it away and look I almost fainted. I was sure a chunk of your head was missing (turns out, that’s just what splitting your skin open looks like).

We wrapped you in a blanket and took you to the emergency room. It was snowing. We were worried you had a concussion. You hit your head so hard over the next few days you slowly developed two black eyes. I don’t even know how I kept you talking the whole way, but I did.

1546402_10100865477388554_1276935319_n

(That’s a Merida sticker on your arm. One of my favorite things about you is you like what you like. Brave, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First – to you they are no different than Spiderman, Ben10, Lego Chima, and Ninja Turtles. Never lose that).

You were obsessed with the remote in the hospital room. The sound came from a little speaker on the front instead of the TV.

1499641_10100865478401524_1264719871_n

Six stitches.

This is you looking at me as they finished. Whenever I see this picture it feels like a tiny person climbs inside my chest and twists my heart, like wringing out a wash cloth.

1526450_10100865479818684_2012912659_n

 

Two days later you had your second trip to the emergency room when I came home from work to find you with a very red and very warm face, your stitches infected.

577767_10100867565738484_624629192_n

Now you have a scar over your eyebrow. When you tell people what happened you refer to the whole incident, and your scar, as “The Blood.”

You are getting bigger and I want to be able to protect you. I want every problem in your life to be fixable with a needle and thread. I want you to fall asleep in my arms. I want to slow down time as it spins out of control, stretching you taller by the minute.

1456491_10100819270991544_1964792958_n

It seems impossible that you are so big. That I can scroll back and see Sirius’s fourth birthday letter and here I sit, writing yours. When I close my eyes I can see the images zip by – me, on the side of a bathtub holding a pregnancy test on that hot August day. Sitting for the bar exam with your steady kick-kick-kick for the entire day two. That final push and the absolute high of birthing you. Watching you sleep, fearing waking the tiny giant. The way you walked up stairs, defiantly, as soon as you could walk. Eating graham crackers with your toes. Then a blink and I am here, with a boy who will only be three a few more hours sitting beside me. It’s enough to make me weep and laugh all at once.

The other day you came with me to the store to buy things for your birthday party. You like being with me, you told me.

I like being with you too.

You and me, kid. You and me then, you and me now.

1075886_601006839920337_1034800988_n

Love always,

Your mama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To My Star Boy on His Sixth Birthday

Dear Sirius,

Today, you turned six.

540729_10100264308754948_1099877289_n

As I write these words and you sleep soundly in your Avengers sheets (because that’s how you sleep, soundly, almost the instant your head hits the pillow) you are probably growing even taller, your face losing it’s baby-ness even more,  so when I look at you at just the right angle I can see clearly the man you will become.

If five was hard, six is harder. The love I feel for you and the ache and joy that accompanies each birthday is still a palpable thing, so real it’s as if I could remove it from my chest and hold it in my hands. I imagine I will say the same thing year after year. When you are fifty and I am seventy-five I will probably clank away on these same keys, sipping tea and wiping away tears, wondering where my baby went.

Enough of that for now, though. Five was a year worth remembering.

You passed one of life’s great milestones: you started Kindergarten.

1184785_10100694412139684_605238202_n

My goodness, do you look handsome in your special occasion clothes. On that first day of school you looked like your could do anything.

1176304_10100694412838284_1150573198_n

And, as always, you were a big brother worth looking up to.

1095017_10100694413187584_660204114_n

Five was the year you learned chess. You play after school one day a week, and on Fridays your dad takes you to the coffee shop where you play a weekly game.

561322_560529143968107_1256750845_n

(Sometimes dad even lets you get a soda, because he’s cool like that).

1239016_616185451735809_1697053655_n

(Sometimes dad also does your hair. You have awesome hair).

1017009_613536155334072_1480770261_n

I love that you still fit in my lap and I don’t mind that your awesome hair smushes my face when you do.

1508544_10100847093609794_391801713_n

You also ran your first mile. We ran it together, three laps around St. James Court.

480212_10100588482603324_1146280092_n

You still love watching TV but you are increasingly getting into other things. Five was the year of video games, of Legos, Ninja Turtles, and Batman.

1452366_10100803111734824_738658668_n

You are still one heck on an artist. You make things that bring tears to my eyes.

1379614_10100784244080754_2002743130_n

And things that make me stand back and marvel, like the self portraits you did every month, starting when you were four and a half and ending when you were five and a half.

8499_10100598849692594_609353913_n

You wouldn’t believe how many parents and teachers tell us you have the best handwriting out of all the Kindergarteners, maybe even the whole lower school.

1521456_10100882380923734_678319221_n

I think your legs grow about an inch a day.

47977_10100653207344424_2100784358_n

You are taking your place amongst the cousins. You love family reunions with the fiery passion of a five-year old who knows it means late nights, lots of running, and grape sodas.

969571_604530249567996_1127895326_n

You still have your place right in the middle of the Brooks brothers. You are happiest when you are all together.

544584_10100547980899064_2127781752_n

You get to be the little brother.

533934_10100549142625954_1783099620_n

Aside from you family you have a whole lot of people who are crazy about you.

321067_10152407446805072_140091127_n

You are often the “big kid” when we are with our friends and you accept that role with a kindness and patience that makes me proud every single time.

1236223_10100723511639054_356704879_n

Being your mom makes me proud every single day.

996968_10100845467663204_256316488_n

You’re getting big now. When I carry you to bed I can no longer heft you onto your spot on the top bunk. I have to set you on the edge and you have to scoot to your pillow, much to your displeasure. You take naps less and less. You claim you don’t need them.

988363_10100806017681284_2009180188_n

You still like to snuggle, but you are routinely just as content to play quietly with your Legos. You can do more things for yourself. When I look at you I never fail to see a boy who can do – and be – absolutely anything.

1394389_10100766588727224_76738243_n

But know no matter how big you get, no matter how independent you become, no matter how many inches you grow overnight, I will always be here. Your weight, in that sense, will never be too much for me to carry.

541886_10151868278064937_2126983924_n

There are no words big enough to capture how much I love you.

Love always,

Your mama.

A Letter to My Fire Boy on His Third Birthday

Dear Sam,

You have never been ordinary. Your birth (which I am sure you will one day tire of hearing about) set the stage for the early years of our relationship – unbearable pain leading to euphoric love. There was a point, about thirteen hours into laboring drug free, that I thought “I can’t do this” only to push through and end up with all eight pounds of you in my arms, looking at me with eyes so bright and aware it was slightly unnerving.

Whether it was colic or a regular day with your often frustrating strong will, I’ve experienced that same cycle of feelings more than once these past three years.

I can’t believe today I woke up and there was a boy beside me and not a baby (yes, you still sneak into our bed on a regular basis). Just yesterday you were, after all, a baby. An undeniably, incredibly cute, baby.

24000_652959931284_8137961_n 26190_654884918594_4651797_n 44235_691552012444_2773216_n

This year has been a year of major, intense changes. I think the transition from two to three might be one of the most marked transitions of early childhood.

No more diapers.

150762_392428264111530_2036760387_n

You can say everything you are thinking and feeling and you can go just about anywhere you want.

306584_485042308183458_1733291062_n

Though you definitely enjoy the perks of being the youngest in the clan.

532200_10100778327996333_283449429_n 578896_382864591734564_940927282_n

You started your first season of soccer.

578372_550120835008938_70901264_n

You got your first hair cut.

303390_434463413241348_499009550_n 554784_434919513195738_2124339088_n

And your first black eye (followed by a second and a third – you are the definition of “rough and tumble”).

540066_428069733880716_2093793861_n

Between your quick wit, attitude, and wise-beyond-your-years-and-not-always-in-a-good-way self, you remind me a lot of your second oldest brother, Goldie. You all seem to know it. You are drawn to each other.

542027_385459848141705_1636303217_n

Kindred spirits.

535604_492850044069351_1188338993_n

You like to give your most immediate older brother a hard time.

65896_538084656212556_498721080_n

But we know the truth – you are partners in crime (or crime fighting).

532967_426901810664175_855081493_n 600061_427337077287315_2023627810_n 3710_470114366342919_1055745081_n 418147_486867414667614_184806577_n 548064_476714895682866_713320209_n

And even though you try to act like you, of all people, don’t need no stinkin’ big brother, I only have to go check on you in the middle of the night to see the truth plain and clear: you are best friends.

378506_10100402928330574_694360934_n 292993_10100344755973444_772216296_n 67028_10100422220863184_296923981_n 564105_474390959248593_963203076_n

You play hard.

66413_10100438307061314_768538158_n

You nap hard (you still take two-hour naps, for which I am grateful).

542863_393516214002735_385015744_n 543257_436416459712710_1028474988_n 576514_485117348175954_1402156414_n

You are my snuggle guy.

576217_10100321582672924_1451973940_n 603824_10100312339241834_539304033_n 544450_382358551785168_505970712_n 292140_391604544193902_1617256242_n

My fellow adventurer and dreamer.

307898_10100377403088364_1978032931_n

You go hard until you can’t go anymore.

599582_10100438306213014_510887122_n

You have a lot of people who love you.

321067_10152407446805072_140091127_n

You’re blazing your own path in a family of good men.

62133_538848972802791_1828096811_n

And luckily you have strong shoulders to stand upon.

543062_381624831858540_343256863_n

You are extraordinary. You are vibrant and fiery. You shine bright like the sun, with a temper as scorching and love that could light the whole world. You know what you want. It’s tradition in this family to pick exactly what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on your birthday. You were the first person to ever test the boundaries. You looked at me this morning and said “I want a cupcake for breakfast.”

So you had one.

I hope you never lose your fire. I hope you stay as free at thirty as you are at three.

544564_383926554961701_1994040987_n

You have this thing you do lately, where when we tuck you in you want a routine. First I give you a hug and you squeeze with all your might. Then you look at me expectantly until I say “what’s next?” You grin and say “noses.” We rub noses. “What’s next?,” I ask. You whisper “kiss” and pop kiss with absolute delight. You are sweeter than sugar and I love you more than you will ever, ever know.

Hug, Nose, Kiss,

Your Mama

576360_10100386045713474_1999806805_n

A Letter to my Star Boy on his 5th Birthday

Sirius,

Five seems old. More grown up. Five is like a million little needles, piercing my heart and reminding me all at once that you are no longer a baby. Or even a little boy. No, you are squarely on the path to boyhood. Five, for your mother, is a bittersweet mix of pride and blessing, ache  and nostalgia.

Four was an epic year.

Full of wonder.

398223_410376252316731_1883983319_n

314242_384845798203110_421301239_n

And stories.

35511_409050745782615_1610272826_n

Swim lessons.

529918_382339141787109_1995598037_n

And friends.

600406_10100775422374270_1612506141_n

Your entered that stage where even your most beautiful smile has to somehow be silly.

318199_391621307525559_1872953473_n

That “big kid” attitude started to rear its head.

601604_428071493880540_77880495_n

Though you remained, in so many ways, as serious and sensitive as your name suggests.

543077_385450008142689_1611542707_n

And – like at one and two and three – at four your brothers were your still favorite playmates.

526786_383925211628502_1296897186_n

And you continued to be a fantastic older brother.

600061_427337077287315_2023627810_n

You really are mama’s helper – baking cookies, clearing the table, cleaning up toys – you even helped me grade papers.

430612_10100158802815064_1518484756_n

Watching you grow into your place among the fine men in our family is one of my life’s greatest privileges.

525333_10100778361778633_1651304132_n

You got your first ever hair cut. You were thrilled, and I barely even cried.

484234_434462493241440_296957847_n

I’m pretty sure the new ‘do made you feel ten feet tall.

283702_10100956901817963_1469006190_n

You started Junior kindergarten at “the big school.”

293128_10101052324589963_387184971_n

You worked very hard.

562809_461248780562811_1989763680_n

I can’t believe how far you came with reading, writing, and math while you were only four.

536221_10100349889061694_124137694_n

427090_461246480563041_49102869_n

You played your first two seasons of soccer, with daddy as your coach (go Purple Dragons!).

386196_10100347497299804_1869744682_n

318374_10100343893616614_2116752734_n

You are the light in your daddy’s eyes.

556880_10100409125571254_581110040_n

You shot your first real bow and arrow.

185088_466652210022468_1766357220_n

It’s safe to say your favorite thing was Mario, followed at a close second by Power Rangers.

578547_483914414962914_2108799071_n

418147_486867414667614_184806577_n

And a close third was probably snuggling.

576217_10100321582672924_1451973940_n

525651_492134377474251_47069140_n

400255_492135574140798_967201545_n

You “voted” in your first presidential election.

65383_490685954285760_613570066_n

602291_10100398772858174_108780480_n

It was a pretty sweet year.

293245_10100323602021134_698997000_n

Sometimes I wonder if you realize how many friends you have, and how loved you are by so many people.

539684_10100400339094424_2027669243_n

535602_10100400336255114_840307711_n

Especially your mama.

538848_10100351224071324_1225818215_n

I have loved you since the moment I knew you existed. I have loved you since that first heart beat. I have loved you when days are hard and when they are easy, loved you as the sun sets and rises, loved you as infinitely as the universe. You are as your name suggests, the brightest light. In a night sky filled with stars I will always find you. Watching you grow is the great joy of my life and I cannot wait to see what five will bring.

Always and forever,

Your Mama579392_10100381387792984_113555910_n

A letter to my Fire Boy on his second birthday

Sammy Lu,

You might notice that you do not have a first birthday letter. That is highly symbolic of my relationship with you – nothing like I expected.

I’m supposed to be your parent, but for the first two years I am pretty sure you have taught me more about myself then I have taught you about this great big world we live in.

Let me start at the beginning.

From the beginning I expected you to be like your brother. I expected an easy, complication free pregnancy, the kind that let me take law school finals 9 months pregnant with your brother, birth him over winter break, and be back in class eleven days later.

This was not my pregnancy with you. I had this annoying low blood pressure thing which caused me to almost pass out on a regular basis. And there was the night I started bleeding. I remember everything with startlingly clarity. The yellow of the kitchen I was standing in. How hard I’d worked all day. The meal I was cooking (salmon croquettes) almost finished. When I felt the blood I went to the bathroom and there was so much. I felt my heart pound pound pause. The doctor confirmed there were no clots, told me to go to bed, and come straight in in the morning. My eyes wide open in the dark room, I thought about you. How terrified I was to lose you. How even though I thought I wasn’t ready (you were planned, mind you – you were just created a little earlier than intended) I suddenly knew I really, really was and I didn’t want to go back.

It was just a “placenta tear.” And it never happened again.

And unlike my first pregnancy, you came quickly. Instead of a c-section you came naturally, sans drugs and all. I have never experienced such splitting, encompassing pain, or the absolute high I felt once you were in my arms. I didn’t sleep for three days. You were me and I was you and it was incredible.

Then you started screaming. Your brother was the kind of baby who would sit in his car seat and stare for hours while I studied at Panera. You, not so much. I didn’t understand. I compared you to him. Your father and I tiptoed around when you slept, sitting on a couch like shell-shocked soldiers, not even bothering to speak in case we accidentally woke you.

Year one pushed me to some places I’m not sure I like to admit exist inside of me.

But here’s the thing. You are the most wonderful, hilarious, fiery boy I know. And you know why you were crying? Because you were so damn mad you couldn’t walk and talk and communicate. You, from day one, have desperately wanted to interact with the world. When you couldn’t, it infuriated you. Once you could, you were fine. This quality that made the first year so hard will probably be one of the things I most admire about you as you grow.

And there are so many things I admire about you. They coincidentally are the things also causing me to go prematurely grey. I adore that you are fearless, even though it manifested as you insisting on walking up and down stairs alone at eighteen months.

Yes, you have fallen down stairs. More than once.

But you always get up. And no fall has ever kept you from wanting to try again.

And you are so funny. Always making jokes. Playing tricks. Telling me to go to sleep just so you can wake me up.

You say hi to everyone you see. You are completely and utterly full of life.

You have done some things so crazy I won’t publish them on the internet in case you ever want to run for office.

You are one of the snuggliest guys I have ever encountered.

You are such a great addition to the Brooks Brothers. You mirror Sage so perfectly. And even though you all are completely different, you and Sirius have a lot in common.

You keep us all laughing.

I am so, so lucky I got you and not what I expected. I am so thankful you make me work hard at being a mom. I am so happy I have you, my fire boy, my namesake, the sun in my sky.

Always and forever,

Your mama