Felix cleans up after himself (and turns the corner toward 2)

Last night, Felix came running into the kitchen looking for a towel. He opened the drawer, took one out, and went down the hall with it. We all assumed someone must have sent him to get one, but no…it turns out he had spilled some water from his sippy cup and had gone to clean it up without being asked.

I teared up a bit in the middle of my happy dance in the hallway. My littlest guy cleaned up a spill! His own spill! No one told him to do it! I may have been prouder than the first time he talked or walked.

What could it mean? Do I dare to hope that he, like me, will be a person who notices messes and does something about them?

His older siblings are notoriously messy creative, process-oriented types who generally believe that the end justifies the means. They may also believe in small, magical cleaning fairies who come and take care of messes around here, despite my continued insistence that such fairies do not exist. They can be found drawing on walls occasionally (consequences be darned!), swinging from curtain rods and repurposing silverware for their own nefarious uses (like today’s jousting match gone awry, for example). They are not often seen putting things back where they found them.

Could Felix possibly be different?
Did I finally get one of them on my side?
Is it too soon to get him his own little broom and dustpan?

Only time will tell.

In the meantime, please help me wish Felix a happy half-birthday. I can’t believe he’s already been here 18 months…and at the same time, I can’t remember what life was like without him.

Here’s to bright futures (and maybe, just maybe, less messy ones).

Felix, five minute Friday, parenting

Five-Minute Friday: TIME.

Warning: self-indulgent blogging ahead.

There is a direct correlation between the number of children I have and my ability to enjoy each one. It’s a funny thing- I would have expected the total overwhelm that comes with having four small people depending on me to block out large chunks of the shining rays of joy that are supposed to accompany them. Four spilled bowls of cereal and milk does not a happy, relaxed mama make, and there’s not much joy in cleaning them up.

The surprise is that it’s just the opposite.

Felix does this thing now during diaper changes where he shoves his feet up into my face, arching his back to get them as close to my nose as possible, and shrieks, “Stinkyu! Stinkyu feet!” He begs me to smell his toes, wrinkle my nose, and declare them stinky. I do it, of course, because I do almost everything he asks me to do. Cackling with laughter, he demands it again: “More! More Stinkyu Feet!”

I cannot overstate how much fun this is.

Every parent has these games with each child, I’m sure. I know I have had them with each of mine, but I can’t recall ever being willing before to sit for an unlimited amount of time and play one, over and over and over and over until I’ve lost count of the minutes and the repetitions. I’d rather be late for library story time than refuse to play Stinkyu Feet one more time. I can’t bottle this moment or freeze it in time. I can take every chance to extend it, to allow it to expand to fill the seconds allotted to it until it passes naturally, lived as fully as possible, and takes its place in a long chain of memories that are indelibly imprinted in my mind (like a series of perfectly square photos I can scroll through when I need to remember how good things are).

This is fullness of time…not at the end of everything, but in tiny passing moments filled to bursting.

This is Felix’s gift to me.

31 days, Felix

31 Days, day 3: Capture.

I’m watching him splash with delight, smacking the water so hard that it sprays up and out of the tub, soaking my jeans. He chortles, studies my face to see if I’m going to tell him to stop.

I don’t.

Eyes bright, he seizes his yellow rubber duck and kisses it with gusto. “Mmmmmm-WAH!” he pronounces, smacking it down again so that the water sprays everywhere. More giggles.

As our fourth child, he has probably had fewer baths than any of his siblings by this point, but I’ve savored every single one. He is smaller than usual, all alone in the center of the big bathtub, wearing a washcloth as a hat as he sails a little plastic boat under the tap to see it quickly sink and bob up again as it passes under the spray. He raises his eyebrows at the boat, then holds it up triumphantly to the cheers of his small audience of siblings, all crowded into the bathroom to watch him.

“He’s the cutest baby in the entire universe,” my oldest says, and he means it.

One day, it won’t be like this, but today, it is…and while I can never seem to remember to take any video of this child, I can capture this image, right now, in my mind.

Find the rest of my 31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes here

7 quick takes, Felix

7 Quick Takes: Felix is one edition

So, this baby is one. One! A whole year has gone by since that day when the midwife met us at the hospital for my favorite birth ever. In case any of my kids ever read this, please know that saying it was my favorite birth ever doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s my favorite child. Not necessarily. I love all of you in your own special ways.


Because he is the fourth child, Felix has suffered in the baby record keeping department. I don’t have a baby book for him with all the carefully recorded milestones and the dates his teeth came in and what face he made the first time he ate peas. I do have a lot of pictures on my phone. (What did people do before they had smart phones to take pictures of their kids?)

I guess they just remembered to write things down in their carefully-kept baby books.

This week, though, I’m focusing on letting good enough be good enough, and I’m not going for perfect. So pictures will have to do, Felix. Good thing we have so many wonderful pictures of you!

I made a collage of pictures from Felix’s first year for the birthday party. It’s amazing how much he’s changed.

Our gift to the baby who already has everything by way of hand-me-downs was a plastic baby pool with ball pit balls in it.

It was awesome. He loved it. I think it’s the perfect one year old present, and I kind of want to give it to every one year old I know.

My nephew will turn one on September 1, but we will not be sending him a plastic pool filled with balls, because he lives in Nome, Alaska. His mother will probably be grateful.

If she had experienced this gift, though, she might appreciate the ball pit more.

George’s sister and her family, in a gesture of love (and possibly out of a desire to get even with us for that child-sized electronic drum we gave their son- our nephew and godson- on his first birthday), gifted Felix with his own Rock and Roll Elmo.

Elmo sings, dances, taps his foot, plays the tambourine and the bongos, and will share his instruments and microphone with any child who takes them out of his hand.

“Okay! Your turn to use the microphone! Ha ha ha ha!”

(Why does Elmo sound so maniacal when he laughs? It gives me the creeps.)

Anyway, our baby boy was delighted with Elmo and crawled right up to him to put his chubby baby fingers in Elmo’s mouth. Elmo just kept singing, but I thought it was kind of charming. It turns out that if my baby loves Rock and Roll Elmo, I kind of love him, too. I was even happy about the extra set of batteries they gave us.

Since the arrival of Elmo, Felix has started dancing. I don’t know if Elmo really gets credit for this development or if it is just coincidental. Either way, it’s really awesome. He dances sitting down, standing up, and in his car seat. I could watch it all day.

A one year old’s birthday party is a tricky thing. It needs to be kind of low-key and comfortable. We were so precious about Sam’s first birthday- our “first” first birthday. We tightly controlled the guest list, the food, the start and finish times (carefully chosen to protect both morning and afternoon nap) and Baby Sam’s overall sugar consumption.

No longer a baby. Semi-pro cake eater.

This time…well, yeah. Our family is bigger, so there’s a certain amount of chaos around here all the time. Our siblings’ families have also grown, and most of our close friends have several children, too. It ended up being a rather sizable crowd with children running everywhere in our backyard. We bought a bunch of kites from Dollar Tree and gave them to all the kids. That led to a wonderful, harmonious time where everyone seemed to be flying a kite. The only downside was that I felt like the soundtrack from Mary Poppins was in my head for the rest of the weekend.

Although I have never been one of those people who talks about how fast time is passing, I feel like time is passing fast with this baby. How is it that he’s already one? The rest of our children seem to be exactly the right ages, and I don’t feel time rushing by when I look at them (even though Sam is doing all kinds of big-kid things this summer every time I turn around). There’s something about Felix, though- there’s something about his turning 1 that makes me want to slow things down just a little bit.

Unfortunately, if I slow down at all, I’ll just have to run faster to catch up with all the others…and who knows what they’ll get into before I get there. Might as well keep on going, I suppose!

Happy birthday, Felix. You are the most, and we love you.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!