Day 260: Celebrate Adriel’s Birthday

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This evening’s first was a celebration of Adriel, my youngest child, who had a milestone birthday today. She turned 30. It was a milestone for me as well, to have my baby turn 30 and to now have all three of my children officially in their 30’s. Oh my, the time has flown by.

I was very tempted to stop by Adriel’s house early this morning and knock on her door. When she came to the door, I would have made a strange request of her, much like she did to me when I turned 30. Of my children, Adriel seemed to be the most concerned about me reaching this grand old age. Alarmed might be a better word! The morning of my birthday, she ran into the bathroom, where I was taking a shower, and demanded that I stick my arm and hand out through the shower curtain. Amused, I did as she asked. She held my hand and carefully turned it palm up and then palm down again, examining it intently. Finally she sighed with relief. She was afraid I had become all wrinkly overnight, since I was now so old! She was four years old at that time.

Adriel arrived in our family during a time of transition. We had just bought our house and we were in the process of extensive remodeling. I had 4 year old Elissa, who would be starting kindergarten the next fall and 2 ½ year old Nathanael, who had just moved beyond diapers and a crib. Being 18 months apart, those two were more like twins, and they were constant companions and playmates. And then the tale-tell sign for me…..I couldn’t tolerate anything sweet all of a sudden. Three months after we had moved into our new house, I discovered I was pregnant. Adriel knows now that physically, it was a very tough pregnancy for me. A minor heart condition became a major problem for the next 8 months, requiring weekly doctor visits and creating difficulties at home, as I cared for two toddlers and a house that was in a state of deconstruction. However, the day I heard this new baby’s heartbeat, at the doctor’s office, my whole world shifted. Even though it was the third time I had experienced hearing a tiny, yet strong heart beating beneath mine, I was awed, and amazed, and completely undone. My own heart, which was beating more rapidly than the baby’s, expanded with the deep love I felt for this gift, this new life I was being entrusted with.

Adriel has been a precious gift. Perhaps because she is five years younger than her sister and more than three years behind her brother, she has always demonstrated first born traits. All three of my kids show characteristics of being a first born. Adriel not only strove to keep up with her older siblings, she succeeded. She was also the orneriest of my kids, but maybe that goes with being the youngest and finding her place in our family. She was artistic, musical and had a flair for drama. Not dramatic. Acting. As a youngster she wowed audiences with her portrayal of an old woman, during a monologue. Had she desired to, she could have pursued acting and become another Sandra Bullock!

Instead, at the age of 14, Adriel became a volunteer at Freeman Hospital. And thus began a journey that has continued all these years. She amazed me by deciding to pursue nursing. I wasn’t astounded by her compassion for people, or her desire to help the elderly or the very young, especially. I wasn’t surprised by her determination that has carried her through years of going to school while she also worked. I was amazed because as a child, if anyone even said the word “snot” around her, she gagged. This child with the sensitive stomach now does things, as a nurse tech at Freeman, that I cannot imagine anyone doing. And she does those indescribable jobs with grace and dignity and great skill. In 87 days, Adriel will graduate from nursing school. She never wavered from her goal, and I am so proud of her for meeting challenges and adapting her life and continuing to work while doing so well, both academically and emotionally. Nursing school is tough. Life can be tough. This girl, with the sparkly eyes, is tougher.

I didn’t make my daughter show me her hand tonight, but I did have the opportunity to observe Adriel. She is a beautiful young woman, with no wrinkles on her smooth face. She and her sister and brother had animated conversations as we dined at Olive Garden. They are still so close and Adriel has often been the glue that holds that trio together. Both her siblings have relied on her during difficult times in their own lives, and when she has needed them, they are there for her in return. Her artistic bent tends more toward creative Pinterest projects and it has been a while since she sat down before a piano or acted in a play. That fiery, independent spirit is very evident though, as is her loyalty to family and friends and her commitment to her chosen profession. This child, now a lovely young woman, has always set huge goals for herself. I have no doubts that she will accomplish all she intends to do. Happy Birthday to my youngest, my achiever, my level headed planner, my charmer. Seize life and enjoy the journey!

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Day 235: Happy Birthday Kaleb

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Today’s first was another birthday get together. My niece’s son, Kaleb, turns three years old tomorrow. Because my family loves to celebrate each other, as often as we can, we gathered today in Broken Arrow, OK to spend time with one of the younger members of the family.

Kaleb is a extraordinary kid. He lives in a big, beautiful house with his mommy and daddy, older brother Ethan, and his Meem. That’s what the boys call their grandmother, who is also my sister, Debbie. Kaleb captured my heart immediately after his birth. He is an old soul, in a young body. And this boy and I have a special bond. We have been communicating with each other long before he could speak! As a baby he’d turn and smile at me, knowingly, and I’d smile back. Our eyes would meet, and our gazes lock, and that’s all we needed to do to start the flow of love and joy and understanding between us.

Kaleb is gifted in his abilities to know things and understand the way the world works, far beyond his current ability to speak about what he knows. He’s a deep thinker. He is the happiest of children and his smiles light up the room. His little face is animated and he is a master at expressing what’s going on in his sharp mind. He is such a joy to his mom, dad, brother and grandmother, who love him so.  When we are together, we slip into an easy camaraderie, aunt and nephew, yes, but more than that, kindred souls.

During a recent overnight visit to Kaleb’s house, I enjoyed his company as the family watched a movie and I blogged. He snuggled up against my side, watching me as I typed, talking to me in hushed tones. When I completed my post, and put the computer away, he settled into my lap and we finished watching the movie together. Afterward, I had the honor of putting him to bed. I had to leave his room for a few minutes, promising I would return. And I did, in a short time. Kaleb was lying quietly watching for me, his big eyes filled with tears. He didn’t complain or cry or even speak. His eyes told me he was wondering if I would, indeed, come back. I sunk down next to his bed and held his little hand, brushing the hair back from his forehead with my other hand. He blinked the tears away, gave me a beautiful smile and sighing, closed his eyes, gripping my hand tightly. I sat there for a long time, watching Kaleb and listening to his breathing grow steady and deep as sleep overtook him. It was a precious moment and I whispered blessings into his life and asked for guidance and protection for him.

This afternoon, we gathered around Kaleb at the Build a Bear Workshop as he selected a purple pony to become his birthday buddy. Scott, Nicole and baby Weston surprised Kaleb with this wonderful gift. This was my first time to visit a Build a Bear facility and it was fun to watch Kaleb move through the steps that ended with him cuddling a new stuffed toy. Across the road we had lunch at Chuck E Cheese, where the adults munched on pizza and chatted while Jon, Scott and Nicole chased after the boys. The pizza restaurant was noisy and colorful, full of children plugging tokens into machines that rewarded them with tickets. Kaleb had a great afternoon trying out different games.

I deeply love and appreciate all of my grandchildren and great nieces and nephews. Each of them has gifts and abilities that I marvel at and encourage. It is a great joy to watch them as they are growing up. It is so important to celebrate them and shower them with affection. Today was Kaleb’s special day to shine. I look forward to journeying with him, and all the others. What adventures we will have.

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