FIVE things I love about Clark.

Clark celebrated his fifth birthday this week.

This WAS Clark:

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And here he is NOW in all his five-year-old glory:

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I think he’s adorable.  Here are the five things I most love about my little guy:

  1. Mischievous smile.  He has the cutest grin, with little gapped, square teeth all lining up in a glorious expression of innocent happiness.  He always looks like he might be up to trouble, and he probably is.  The best way I can explain Clark’s toddlerhood is Curious George. Curious George's Faces2cmp
  2. His joy.  We’ve always joked that Clark is bi-polar, because when he’s mad, boy is he mad (see crying in banner photo above), but when he’s happy, he’s delightful.  He has a giggling, bouncing enthusiasm that is contagious.
  3. His positive attitude.  I will always remember the day that was one of my most trying as a mother.  Clark began and ended the day with misbehavior, and stayed busy in between.  I swear he spent half of it in time out, and I was seriously ready to revoke my own motherhood license.  Late in the day, he was reading a book on a chair in the living room while I was doing dishes in the kitchen.  I heard him sigh deeply and say, “What a great day.”  I learned much in that moment about why we’re supposed to become “as a little child.”
  4. His generosity.  He will always share.  This week, he got two Webkinz in the mail as a present from my parents.  He opened them up and danced around and cheered for a minute.  He handed one to Grant and said, “Here Grant.  You can have this one.”  This is typical of Clark.
  5. His gratitude.  He voices sincere appreciation for even the simplest things.  “Thanks, Mom for letting us eat our snack on the deck!”  If you look closely at that train birthday cake, (who am I kidding? You don’t even have to look closely) it is an amateur job by all counts.  He asked for a train; I did my best.  When Matt came home from work, Clark said, “Dad! Dad! Come see my cake.  It’s A-MAZ-ING!”  Heh.

Can I add that as I type this, I can hear Clark in the bathroom doing his business and singing out loud, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord…”?  Priceless.  Happy Birthday, Clark.  I love you.

Recovery, and one tiny deep thought.

My birthday is over.  You people are awesome.  I now have to figure out a way to burn about 4,327 calories.  Oh, the brutal gluttony.  I’ll do the giveaway drawing this weekend when I calculate the Haiku winners, too.  (If you got so wrapped up in the joy of wishing me a happy birthday and telling me about yourself that you forgot to actually enter the computer game giveaway, go back there and enlist yourself in the drawing . . . if you meant to in the first place.)

Excuse me while I write down a few things that I need to print out and hang on my forehead for tomorrow.

1.  No.  (answer to the question, “Can I have a snack?”)

2.  No.  (answer the question, “Can I watch a TV show?”)

3. Not yet.  (answer to the question, “Can we go to the swimming pool now?”)

For the record, sometimes the answer to those questions is “YES,” but just not when they’re asking over and over and over again.

And this may seem random, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately.  Why do we so often assume that we are not worthy of greatness?  Elder Maxwell always talked about “not shrinking,” and I think we moms do it way too much.  We kind of crawl into spiritual fetal position instead of spreading our spiritual wings.  I wish we were better at claiming and embracing how great we are.  Marianne Williamson wrote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

So shine on, ladies, and don’t be afraid to be as good as you really are.  Because you really are.  Really.

It’s my birthday, and I’m giving you a present. (You can drop off yours in the comment box.)

birthday_candlesIt always bugged me that my mom would never tell us her age.  So I’ll be honest, I’m old.  For the first time in my life, I feel old.  I figure maybe I shouldn’t say my actual age because then all you internet information predators could do the math and steal my identity and walk away with my amazing credit potential.  So let’s just say that I am now a lot closer to 40 than I am to 30, and that is INsane.  I am the “old people” in young people’s minds.  I have been out of high school for longer than it took me to complete elementary school, junior high and high school combined.  I have been through so many different stages of life that I have a bra drawer with about 12 different sizes in it.  (I should really get rid of them, because truth be told, I only need a very small drawer now.)

I’ll concede that older does mean wiser.  I now get it that all those boys that took up volumes of pages in my journals never liked me.  I was a dork.  I also know that a person cannot live on Pringles and bubble gum alone.  Plus, life has taught me many other important lessons like what not to do if you are a) mugged in China, b) cat-called in Argentina, or c) going outside too often in your pajamas in your own hometown.  So, yeah, one year older and wiser too…

old ladySo, I’ve got this whole blog birthday party thing worked out in my mind.  First a present for you.  

What do mommy bloggers need and appreciate the most?  Quiet time.  I’d like to introduce you to JumpStart computer games to shut up educate your children while they have fun at the same time.  My boys love the JumpStart computer games, and we actually owned two of them before the company contacted me about doing a giveaway on my blog.  Just today they played the 3D Virtual 1st Grade game while I blogged did laundry and lots of important things.  They really are very clever games that incorporate math, reading and critical thinking skills into fun arcade-like games and activities.  And now they have an on-line version of their games at http://www.jumpstart.com where your child can create a “Jumpee” (kind of like an avatar) and travel all around in a virtual world of learning adventures.  My boys have spent a little time playing around on it and they were quite smitten by some of the fun things they can do there.  Anyway, without further ado… you can win a three-month subscription to the JumpStart online world! (In other words, three months of built-in, guilt-free quiet time for you.)  You’re welcome.

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Now, for my present.  I want to know who my readers are.  There are many of you who are regular commenters and I absolutely adore you, but there are so many strangers that pass through that I never get the chance to meet, except as random IP addresses on my statistics tracker.  I average about 1,000 hits a week on this little ol’ blog (which I know is small potatoes to some folks), and I’d like to thank those of you who really just reload my page over and over again every day to make me feel good when I look at my stats, but there are so many of you I don’t know.  I think Ordinary Mom made this request on her birthday, and I filed it away in my brain as a good way to satisfy my own curiosity.

So here are your birthday party instructions (I’m old; I can be demanding and crabby if I want to be.):

1.  Leave me a comment and tell me something about yourself.  If you don’t want me to know your name, that’s okay.  You can be “anonymous,” but still tell me something about you.  (Where you live, what you do, etc.)  If you’re a regular commenter, tell me something about you anyway– I’d love to know you better.

2.  If you want to be entered in the computer game giveaway, just stick the word “(Giveaway)” at the end of your comment.  Or the beginning.  Or the middle.  I’m not picky.

3.  If you haven’t voted for your favorite entry in the Diapers and Divinity Summer Poetry Contest, go do that here.  The haikus are worth reading.

4.  Pretend that you’re really at my party and that I’m giving you a hug at the door and saying “Thanks for coming!”  Really.  All joking aside,

I believe true friends not only make life more enjoyable, but they help each other become worthy of the greatest friendship of all [with the Savior]… —to bring out the best in each other and help each other live righteous lives.”  (Monte G. Brough)

Happy Birthday, indeed.