golden child

Does anyone still do golden birthdays these days? Are any of you old enough to know what that means? I was sitting here thinking back to when I turned 17 on that one fine (and I’m sure, cold) January 17th back in … eh, it doesn’t matter the year. Because I’m too old to remember. But doggoneit, we just had a golden day around here and it was for my one and only golden child.

I was so super proud of myself this year because at least three weeks in advance of Connor’s birthday I had a cake ordered, gold-colored candles, a gold-flanked 14th birthday banner and a shirt I’ve wanted to order for years from Amazon in-hand. I’ve not ordered it previously because it isn’t on Prime (which is so dumb!) but it made sense for the golden theme. I mean, you only turn 14 on the 14th one.time. It might be totally lame but I love it; it says, ‘February 2006 – Limited Edition – 14 Years of Being Awesome’. And yes, I made sure he wore that sucker to school. But my hunch is no one saw it because the child lives in a hoodie. It’s fine.

We also had our ducks in a row a couple weeks prior about our plans because Connor’s birthday happens to fall on the highly-anticipated love fest that is Valentine’s Day so instead of trying to do dinner out, he chose B.C. Pizza, cake and ice cream in with the fam bam. Honestly, it’s one of the many reasons I think the world of this child. He’s not terribly high-maintenance (maybe just thank God in general for boys) and he is ridiculously happy to eat gluten free bacon and cheese-laden bread. Also, a huge shout-out to Connie’s Cakes in Grand Rapids. They delivered what I heard was ‘the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my life.’ So, good job on that, too.

So, while it was a golden birthday, I really mean it when I say this child is golden. Maybe it’s supposed to be man child now. I don’t know when they make the official switch but I do know that we talk more about him being a man (ahem) than we talk about him being a child. And I’ve watched him change so much again just from a year go, deep voice aside.

I thought I’d put a quick list of ‘things I never want to forget about Connor at 14’ together so I can refer back when I’m much older, like 41.

  • This was the year Connor fell in love with golf. He spent much of his summer days at a few different courses with my parents and has decided he will probably be playing that instead of baseball (yes, I die) when he gets into high school. Side note that my parents are the greatest grandparents on the planet
  • This was the year Connor got sick. And it sucked and we’ve talked about it. But, it was also when he showed amazing resilience, courage and commitment when it came to his school work. He was nominated for Student of the Month when he missed the most school he’s ever missed (16 days).
  • Speaking of school, the kid is a straight-A student. And it’s effortless for him. That was never the case (still isn’t) for me, to be clear.
  • He is also super diligent about getting his homework done. That, or he is doing the gchat thing with a few ladies that make his little face grin in a way that frightens me. I’ve seen the grin. I know the grin.
  • We also likely know by now Connor is a sports fanatic (FAN-A-TIC). He has dreams of being a commentator of some kind and I have no doubt he can do it if he so desires. I hear there is a good school for that in Oregon. *wink*
  • … which means he is obsessed with football and basketball. Well, those are the two he is obsessed with anyway. And it also means that he plays on fantasy leagues. Not just one. Multiple. He played in a league with some guys from church and it was literally the sweetest thing ever because those adult (I mean, are they really though?) men welcomed him into their little clique and then gave him awards at the end of the season. More than that, they just loved on him and it always warms this mama’s heart to see it.
  • In the world of outdoor sports, Connor has shown crazy promise fishing as well as now, hunting. We went camping for a bit last summer and he spent H-O-U-R-S fishing. Sometimes, I had to beg him to come to the camper to eat dinner. That’s not like him. He also snagged his first deer this past gun season. I mean, it was his first time out. And, the second time (aside from sighting it in) that he shot his gun. I actually cried watching the whole scene. It might have been because he was gutting a poor, defenseless deer as well. I can’t be sure. But, it was a beautiful buck and I’ll be honest that I was actually crying because his brother-in-law (my hero) took him out and showed him all the ropes and celebrated alongside him. I’m serious. I’ve never felt more thankful and appreciative for the man my sister sucked into this chaos. It was also sweet because his dad came to see. We were both so excited for Connor.
  • He grew and he grew, too. CJ is now hovering just over 5’10” which is officially the height that makes it too hard to let go of him sometimes. He just needs a little more meat on his bones and then he’ll be my perfect snuggly companion.
  • Nearly everyone that I encounter who has spent time with CJ tells me what an amazing young man he is and how much they just love him. I pray that is always the case despite his age

Connor’s 14th made for a good sampling of who he is right now. He had a great day at school (which he said was easy), a dance after (to which he said he didn’t dance with anyone … can we just all pause and say a big ‘hallelujah’ about that?), a shower (in which he takes too freaking long), his favorite meal (that he can devour in three minutes-ish), gift-opening with the fam (where I had no choice but to get him a membership to the Dollar Shave Club – save me) and a basketball game that he forgot to tell me about until ten minutes before he wanted to leave (yep, that’s 14).

I love him. He is my hero. He makes me more proud than I ever could have imagined he would (even when he does act like a teenager, because he does!). And I just know that God has so much more for ahead for my golden man child.

more about the dance

I posted back in April about the overly used ‘dancing in the rain’ quote. Guess what? It came up again. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

Anyway, I wanted to grab a card for a friend today and just like it was meant to be, a card including that very quote stood up above the rest. What was I supposed to do … pass it over and look at the other cards? It’s like when you’re driving by Biggby and the sweet little voice in the backseat inquires, “Hey mom, can I get a Biggby?” You get the kid a Biggby.

Do you guys agonize over cards like I do?  Continue reading

better late than never

Just about a year and four months ago (give or take), we celebrated my niece’s sweet sixteen. Thankfully, she’s incredibly patient and understanding because it took us this long to actually make due on her gift. Thanks to Groupon and schedules that finally lined up, our shopping trip to Chicago became a reality, ahem, this very first weekend of 2014. Which, coincidentally, will also go down in infamy as “Snowmageddon, 2014″; which, as we all well know, still doesn’t nearly rival snow storms of 30-60 years ago.” Thankyaverymuch.

We decided to drive in case we came back with a gazillion bags. Lord knows there was no way we were making the trek to Union Station with a two-person suitcase and six or seven bags. Oh, I meant … there was no way I was doing that. Turns out, it was a wise choice we drove. More on that later.

We found a hotel super close to Michigan Ave so we could easily walk to the Mag Mile and shop our little hearts out but, as it turns out, shopping wasn’t really on the agenda. As soon as we saw a sign for Navy Pier we opted to head out there and check out the ice situation and if, in fact, it was windier near the water. (No, I actually had no question about that). It was fairly quiet but absolutely beautiful (and yep, windy as suspected) off the end of the Pier.

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We may or may not have accessed a couple of areas on the Pier that are under construction and not meant to be traversed at this time … but that’s part of what makes an adventure an adventure. Right?

I’ve always enjoyed visiting cities in the winter, because as it turns out, people just don’t know well enough to stay in. My hunch is that many of them were travelers like ourselves trying to get some last-minute enjoyment out of the holiday lights and shops, but either way, it actually makes you feel warmer to be surrounded by all of that other downtown energy. And buildings. And the sights. Oh, the sights. There was this guy, who was clearly lost and clearly trying to duck and cover after he knew I’d spotted him. Silly goose.

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And this … guy? who … well … wasn’t in any hurry to get anywhere when my sister pointed him out. Poor thing.

IMG_0627_FBOur short walk on Michigan Ave. took us into one store before Alyssa decided her heart’s desire was to see Blue Man Group. We’d talked about it briefly on the way and we knew there was one late Saturday evening show. None of us had been and it sounded like fun so we figured we should shift our focus to getting some food. Have I mentioned I can’t go more than four hours anymore without thinking about food? Sheesh.

We found ourselves at The Cheesecake Factory (hello, best-portion-sizes-for-weight-gain-on-the-planet, I think I love you) and I thought it would be wise to check on tickets for the show. There were four left. In the premium section. I ended the call and we were all a bit dejected (but in my heart, I was all, yay shopping!). But, Alyssa was bummed and there was no way we were going to have a bummed birthday celebrant so we called back and got the last.four.tickets.

Alyssa took her first cab ride over to the Briar Street Theatre with my new favorite cabbie who I swear said that business was slow because people aren’t getting out as much and he’s just (murmuring) “learning to drive in the snow.” Awesome.

Oh, did I mention at this point that there was probably a good four inches of slush and junk on the sidewalks so we were all a bit … disheveled when we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for the show? And, at this point, we’d already walked about 7 miles.

Turns out, the show was absolutely phenomenal making the few extra dollars completely worth spending. We all hurt a bit from smiling and trying not to get completely creeped out from the blue creepy guys leading the show. Did I mention they are creepy? Have you ever been up close to one? They don’t smile or talk … they just, just look at you. Eek.

Alyssa and I acting normal with that one blue creepy guy. 

We took the El back to the city (after a colorful detour to Caribou Coffee) and girl-talked until just after midnight. Mom and I bunked and Nikki and Alyssa did the same. I refuse to bunk with Nikki because she and I have a bad bunking history. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

We woke up this morning to news reports of ridiculously treacherous conditions, which yes, we knew were likely but who can really trust meteorologists anyway? Am I right?

This is where I’m thankful we drove. We didn’t need to load the rig with bags, but I was thankful we were together in our car making our way slowly back to Michigan. It took us just about five hours to get back, and even though it wasn’t a good idea to test the weather in the first place, the trip and the time with these ladies was totally worth it.

I’m sorry, miss Alyssa, that it took us one year and four months to gift you with your trip to Chicago but I hope you loved it just as much as I did. You’re always worth the upgrade, chick. And just think, soon, you’ll be 18 and we’ll have to do something even super-awesomer (but this time, before you turn 20, ok?). Ok.