Happy Birthday, Maya

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Oh, Maya. How can you possibly be one year old?

This year has been a rough one for some of us, but I think you enjoyed it more than anyone. And you have brought more joy to more people than you could possibly know. You have no idea how much you are loved. You have only a glimpse of how much I love you, and I’m just one little person.

Maya
Photo by Beth Fletcher Photography

 

From the moment you were just a sparkly thought in my mind, I have loved you. And there has never been, nor will there ever be, a moment in which my heart is not warmed by the thought of your precious, beautiful soul.

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I adore you, Maya. I can’t believe you have red hair, but it’s gorgeous, as is the rest of you. Your smile melts me every time I see it, and I can’t wait to see you grow to enjoy and understand your role in this family of ours that you help to make absolutely amazing.

May your every dream and wish come true, baby girl.

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It’s the end of my world as I know it

Maya almost fills up an arm
4 lbs, 11 oz of beautiful.

I was a little surprised when I got the text. “They want to deliver this week.” Because, you know, Maya was supposed to be born three weeks later. I was a little more surprised when I discovered that by “this week,” they meant, “tomorrow.”

I had figured that Maya was in a hurry. But seeing it in black and white . . . or black and green, I guess. Texts can be so pretty. Anyway, confirmation of her early arrival into our sight shocked me. It shocked us. In a good way.

The next morning, I ran. I’ve been training for a hypothetical 5K for the past couple of months, I guess, and I was due for a run. The first song to pulse through my ear buds was “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. That made me laugh. It didn’t make me want to spell her name Mia, but it was close enough.

The next song was “Born to Run.” This also seemed funny. Born indeed.

And the next song made me laugh the most. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I feel fine).” Because, you know, it is the end of the world and everything. Just ask the Mayans. See how my phone makes jokes? And, obviously, it feels like life as I’ve known it is over.

This beautiful girl has changed everything.

Maya Ryan Kellogg was born at 12:35 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2012. She weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. And Heather? Holy crap, Heather. she gave birth with no pain meds. She’s a fierce woman, y’all. And she’s doing great. Seriously, as well as could possibly be expected.

And Maya? She’s small. She’s got a big heart. She’s a great eater. She’s super strong. I love her to tears.

We expect to go home tomorrow morning. So, world? Watch out. She means business.

Two Boys and a Girl

On May 5, I’m walking five miles for two boys and a girl.

Addison, Colin, and I are walking in the March for Babies to raise money for the March of Dimes. Heather won’t be walking, she will (if everything goes according to plan) be just 19 days away from giving birth to our daughter.

But not everything goes according to plan. It usually doesn’t.

Neither Addison nor Colin were born prematurely or with birth defects, but when I look at them and the joy they bring to my life, I think of the many parents and children for whom things weren’t so easy. And won’t be. And I think about my daughter who is on the way I don’t really know when. How much does it mean to me to know that there are people who dedicate their lives to ensuring she has the best chance to live a long and happy life? Um, yeah.

So the least I can do is dedicate one Saturday to helping them. I’m walking for my two boys and my girl. But that’s not all.

I’m walking for two boys named James & Jake. And a girl named Beth. This is just my first year with this team, but it is the fifth and final year for Team James & Jake. I’m honored to be a part of it, and I would be thrilled if you would share in that honor with a gift in support of this walk.

Dear Whatever Your Name Is

Hello, daughter of mine. Depending on when you eventually happen across this note to you, you might find the whole idea of this introduction a bit odd. (You might find me a bit odd, too, but you’ll get used to me.) But you see, there was a time when you weren’t here, and I want to tell you about some of the moments when I realized the days of you not being around were all but over.

See, if right now you think back as far as you can, you’ll remember something that happened before any of your other memories, the earliest memory you can reach. I hope it’s a memory that makes you smile (I love your smile, even though I’ve yet to see it). Whether it’s happy or sad, though, your earliest memory is special, because it’s the first moment in your life you and I can both discuss as informed participants. But before that, there was more. This stuff I’m talking about now? You don’t remember it, but you’re a part of it. So I want you to know. You had a beginning. And before you began, we were here.

There was a time when I wasn’t here. I don’t remember that. There was a time when I was a baby. Don’t recall that either. Then I was your age, and I can recall a couple things from that time. There was a time when Mommy and Daddy met, and I can tell you about that if you want. Some time later, we fell in love, and that’s a wonderful memory. Then we got married, and there are a few good stories about that . . . but at that time, you and your brothers were just wishes in secret little compartments in our hearts. Maybe this part of the story is boring to you.

Then Addison came along. After several years, Colin joined him. Four years later, a moment came along that I think you might find most interesting: I missed you.

You weren’t here, if by here you mean this planet, this world, this house. But I felt you here in my heart. I felt like you were on your way, but I hadn’t met you yet. And this not meeting you? I was not really okay with that, because I love you quite a lot. I like having you around. Anyway, this moment when I knew that I missed you and couldn’t wait to meet you, that was my earliest memory of you.

Your mother kind of thought I was crazy, and I should tell you, she was kind of right. But she was also very interested in meeting you, too. Then, one sweet Saturday, we found out you were coming. Babies have a way of sneaking into this world so no one can see them, but when their parents find out? We get very excited and happy and silly. When we found out, we were very surprised, super happy, and as thrilled as we’ve ever been. I really love this memory, and I hope you like it.

Before babies are born, there are nurses and doctors and the most fascinating little machines that can help us check on how you’re doing. They showed us you when you were too tiny even to recognize. They showed us your heart not long after it started beating. And, just a week before I wrote this note to you, they told us some of the most exciting news of all . . . you’re a GIRL.

I know what you’re probably thinking. Duh, Dad, I’m a girl. But our hearts got a little bigger and a little fuller when we learned this about you. Not because girls are better than boys or definitively different than boys, but because we knew you a little better. We knew we were picking out a name for a girl and clothes for a girl and toys and accessories and room colors for a girl. But not just any girl. YOU. And you are special. You are ours. You are the only you there is.

I’m writing to you now to tell you that however I am now that you’re reading this, I used to be different. Daughters have a way of transforming their fathers, I’m told. Maybe because I knew, from the moment I heard who you were, that I would do anything I could to please you, to protect you, to provide for you, and to make sure you grew up to be the girl, the woman God designed you to be. A discovery like that doesn’t leave a man in the same condition he woke up in that morning.

There is a part of my heart now, little girl, that is dedicated only to you. From that moment I knew I had to meet you, to that morning this week when I first felt you kick, to this day when you can finally read and start to understand these words . . . and on into forever, my heart is yours. I want you to know that now and remember it on the days I’m being a jerk.

I love you. Someday I’ll meet you and help name you, but those are the later memories. Those are the details that fall into place as they come. My earliest memory of you is loving you and wishing you were here in my arms. That will never change. Any time you need to know that you are special, you are treasured, and you are loved, I’ll be here to tell you and show you exactly that.

Now, what to call you . . .

Hoping for a Girl

We have two pepper shakers. Everyone in the world hopes we’ll soon be blessed with salt. Because three pepper shakers? That would leave us with an awful lot of cartoon sneezes and absolutely nothing to throw over our shoulders for luck (which we’ll need by the truckload if we hope to have any chance against three pepper shakers).

I’m not exactly sure why we (and by we, I mean society) seem to carry this need for intrafamilial gender balance, as though having a girl would complete the set of Kelloggs we’re collecting. I do know that a lot of people wishing for the next Kellogg to be a girl have divine retribution, not balance, on their minds. They giggle gleefully at the prospect of me raising a girl. Because, you know, they think that would be cute or something.

I’m sure it would be.

But other people have a different cloud of purpose lingering behind their eyes. We have two boys. They’re a handful. They’re high energy. They’re boysssss. Gasp. (They are kids, by the way. I’m not at all dismayed by the fact that they’re not boring.) A third boy? Holy Moses, what would that do to Heather? What would it do to our house? What would it do to the universe?

Break them all, obviously.

So we simply must have a girl. Honestly, yes, we would love to have a girl. Heather would love a girl (finally). I would love a girl (obviously). Addison wants a girl (not all that surprisingly if you know his occasional feelings of angst toward Colin). Colin has expressed his desire for the baby to be a boy who is invisible (repeatedly).

Colin’s answer is the funny one, right? Too ridiculously specific and extraordinary. Except, everyone who says they want a girl or that we should have a girl does so with very specific qualities in mind, n’est-ce pas?

Girls are sweet. Girls are quiet. Girls are obedient. Girls are cute and pretty and sugary and spicy and exhaustively nice. Girls learn to read faster. Girls don’t wrestle. Girls don’t belch loudly. Girls wear pretty dresses and play with dolls and don’t crash trucks into your head.

I grew up with three sisters, and I know as well as you do that the above paragraph is a load of crap. Girls in general may exhibit similar qualities to those listed above (or below, if you’re standing on your head or reading this in space). But, as far as I know, there’s very little chance that Heather is giving birth to girls in general. There’s a 50% chance she’s giving birth to a girl. And when we do find out the gender, that will tell us absolutely nothing about what this child will be like.

She might be a tom boy. He might be a dancer. She might be a princess-loving, Barbie-toting, run-of-the-mill average girl. He might conspire to destroy the world. Somehow, I think we’ll love this child all the same.

Some people sagely advise that we hope and pray only that the baby is healthy. Oh, and cute. And smart. And nice. And successful. Because nobody wants to parent a sick, ugly, dumb, jerk of a failure. I don’t know. I just want to meet this kid and see how we get along.

All I know is that this kid is the size of a lime, and be he a he or be she a she, a lot of people seem to be placing an awful lot of expectations on the child. I just want my baby to feel loved. That’s something I can influence. Everything else is fart noises.

Random Sobriety

Or sober randomness.

Usually I try to make these lists of random thoughts kind of funny. If it happens this time, it’s entirely unintentional.

Writing to one person at a time has been far more intriguing to me than writing on this blog . . . which has been known to draw as many as two readers at a time.

I’m a sloppy prayer, but I try to keep it going.

Colin has taken to effusively expressing how much he’ll miss Heather and me when either of us is getting ready to go anywhere. It’s the nicest, most heartbreaking thing.

Addison has that friend at school. The one who teaches him what the bad words and rude hand gestures are. I’m so happy about this.

When I worry about him being too young to be exposed to that type of thing, I remember I was a couple years younger than he was when I took my Vulgarity 101 survey course. But Christian schools are advanced like that.

I was second in line at the CPO (Campus Post Office) here at Moody last week. The person in front of the line had a rather lengthy issue he needed resolved. When he finally departed the counter, no fewer than 8 students pushed past me to turn in package request slips, and one to just plain cut. I was amazed and impressed by their uniform rudeness. I won’t say they’re all going to hell. But they obviously have a way of bringing a little piece of hell with them wherever they go.

Don’t we all.

Seriously, we all need help. So help somebody.

By all means, eat food that is good for you. Just remember to feed your soul ice cream.

We got our goldfish a new fish tank. Our first fish was too big for the tank he had. Then we adopted a second, so . . . it was the ghetto of fish dwellings. They’re moving on up.

People love their pets, man.

Life is really one big lesson in how much I don’t know.

Facebook is becoming something other than Internet. It’s not even commerce or community. It’s like the new government. I’m afraid.

I’m writing stuff you can’t read yet.

Not because you’re not smart enough, I’m just not showing anyone.

I have long believed that you see a person differently when you look him or her in the eyes. If you’re having trouble relating to someone or taking them seriously or understanding them, the eyes have it. If they don’t, move on.

If you don’t understand what aposiopesis is . . .

Hate  is a strong word. But that doesn’t mean you should never use it. And just because you don’t use the word doesn’t mean you aren’t guilty of hatred. You’re just as likely compounding it with dishonesty.

I don’t know when you’re reading this, but I’m hungry. Trust me.

Here’s a playlist. If you don’t have spotify, I’m sorry. It’s part of the new government.

Morning Minute 9-9-2011

My niece Mackenzie sees things her own way. That’s a gift.

I can’t remember what triggered the memory (impossible to imagine me having a random thought, I know, but it happens), but I recently had a flashback to watching Return to Me with Mackenzie. She liked it. She didn’t complain. 98% of the movie left her smiling, but one story line absolutely captivated her. Here’s how she viewed the movie:

The gorilla, Sidney, needed a new cage.  david duchovny’s character’s wife died her heart was used in a transplant to save minnie driver’s character who then serendipitously fell in love with david duchovny’s character without knowing that her heart used to belong to his wife and then they found out and oh my goodness that’s so weird but then it wasn’t and then they wound up together because their hearts were meant to be together and what in the world is wrong with that. Then Sidney got a new cage! Applause!!!!

The question on most people’s minds: when and how will the two romantic leads finally make this crazy situation work? The question on Mackenzie’s mind: will Sidney get the bigger, better habitat she deserves? Who is asking the right question? I don’t care. But I know Mackenzie was asking the question no one else was asking. She wins.

So this is what I ask myself: what are the so-called small victories that could be easily won were I not so concerned about the issues that, according to popular opinion, are more important? Am I trying to make everyone happy when I should be trying to make Mackenzie happy? Or Heather? Or Colin? Or Reuben, Carrie, or Jamarcus? You get the idea.

 

Locked In

Addison readying . . . everywhere.
Addison readying . . . everywhere.
One of three different swings on which Addison was reading yesterday.

When we first moved into our house, we noticed something weird. Our neighbors never wore pants. Okay, that’s not true. They wore only pants. No, really, we had no neighbors. Or we had no pants. Our neighbors were Señor and Señora Pantalones. Alright, honestly, it wasn’t that weird.

We have two bedrooms at the end of the hall upstairs. One of them, now Colin’s room, had a doorknob with a lock in it. That wasn’t weird. The doors to every room had locks in them. The doors to closets, pantries: no locks. None of that is weird.

But one bedroom, what eventually became Addison’s room, the one right next to Colin’s, had no lock. Our utility closet did have a lock that ensured our furnace and hot water heater could enjoy as much privacy as they needed. So, you know, kinda weird. Not Señor Pantalones weird, but just, oh, it’s weird that someone at some point thought, Hey, what if someone tries to break in and take the air filter RIGHT OUT OF THE DUCT WORK?

Continue reading “Locked In”