Thursday, February 11, 2016

Double Digit Charlie

                 I have been preparing to write this blog post for WAAAAY too long tonight, getting carried away looking at all these old pictures of my boy.  I can’t believe that it has been a decade since Charlie came plunging into our world (if you haven’t heard his birth story, it’s pretty remarkable, you can Jeff’s version of it here, though mine is pretty different…need to document it one day).  I knew from the minute I went into labor with Charlie that he was going to be golden.  His entrance into the world foreshadowed the life he is leading: a big soul, breaking all the rules (in the good way), unique, full of excitement and kind of unpredictable.   He was also born with a Caul (and I just found out that there’s a whole website about this!). Apparently he is a Caulbearer.  He had a thin covering or veil over his face at birth.  Legend has it that this indicates great depth and wisdom and possibly all kinds of other magical powers.  Not sure how much oomph I put into those legends….but in Charlie’s case it could be true.  This kid is pretty remarkable.  08-01-2006 - BEAR LAKE 027It’s hard to believe that this little blob of a baby is now my big strapping young boy.  2006-1 More Charlie 0112007-09 hazel's birthday, linus, camping, tomatoes 097Look at that tomato bigger than his big belly.  2007-9 camping, birthdays etc 343charlie and hazel in window-4560I’ve always LOVED the determination with which Charlie does things. (especially running)IMG_7493-1925IMG_7515Quite the ladies man. IMG_4792IMG_0075(explanation: one year for Halloween Charlie dressed up like his dad….cutting his long locks into this winning haircut….)IMG_3424IMG_2605We did some serious celebrating this year for his big double digit birthday.  Jeff was going to be out of town on the actual day which really threw Charlie for a loop. So, to make it up to him, Jeff worked with him for a few Saturdays to build this loft bed.  Charlie has a builder/inventor heart beating in his chest, but in our 1400 square feet of living space there’s just now room for Charlie to build.  His room has been impossible to walk through lately, littered with all is building projects.  This lack of space may have bugged Jeff even more than it bugged Charlie.  Jeff wanted so much for him to have his own work space like Jeff had in his basement as a kid.  So, they came up with this plan and using some 2x4’s from Home Depot they gave his bed a boost.  With all the repurposing they did and with the bookshelves I snagged from someone’s trash I think the whole project cost them $35 and a few hours on a few separate Saturdays.  IMG_2616IMG_3065Here Charlie is with the finished under the bed workshop. Still not immaculate, but Jeff has stressed the importance of me not getting involved on that front.  He says the very definition of a workshop is a place that your mom doesn’t tell you to clean up.  I have to say, this little room transformation has completely transformed Charlie’s life.  He’s got the space to work on all the things his mind is chewing on all day. IMG_3066 I love this photo even more.  Shows all his passions: building, turtles, cello, space and baseball.    IMG_2876On the Sunday before his birthday we had the first of the birthday celebrations so that Jeff could be in on some of it.  For dessert we had blueberry dumplings.  Charlie was born on my Grandpa Deans birthday.  Dean died when my dad was a teenager so I never got to meet him, but  my Grandma taught me to make Blueberry Dumplings which I guess were one of his favorites.  So, in his honor we made them and they were really easy and super yummy.  I’ll have to post the recipe one day.  I love the connection Charlie Dean has with his Grandpa Dean.  IMG_2949On his actual birthday I took him out of school early for lunch and froyo and a trip to the RC car store.  IMG_3018And we went rock climbing afterschool with two of his best buddies.  We ate pizza and opened a few little presents and ate brownies and ice cream. 

IMG_8541And then, since he’s turning an even number this year, he got to have a friend birthday party.  He invited his whole class and about 3/4 of them showed up.  Charlie was so great planning the whole thing, getting it all set up with me, making invitations, figuring out activities.  They spent the first 20 min following our party plan.  They painted planets and then everything went wild.  They had a full on disco-lit, music blaring, screaming pillow fight in the basement before they came up for pizza and cake.  I’m sure part of the craziness is just their age, but I think it was also due to the fact that these same kids have been in the same class together for 4 years.  They were all biting at the chance to let loose a little together after spending so much time trying to be civilized in a class room. 

Charlie didn’t mind the craziness and I think everyone had a pretty rockus time.  IMG_3070

This ^^ is one of my all time favorite expressions of Charlie.  Pure glee in that face there.  IMG_8544IMG_8548

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Ten things Charlie has brought into our world over the past decade:

  1. An insatiable curiosity about how things work.  Mechanical things, yes, but he pretty much wants to know how the who world works.  He has a never ending supply of questions and when someone has the time to answer them he is quick and bright and gets it.
  2. I’m pretty sure he has the beginnings of some serious inventions inside of that head.  He’s going to make a mark on the world with all his questioning and thinking. 
  3. Sensitivity.  Charlie can sense what people around him need and has a way of quietly connecting with people in pain and offering them light.
  4. Lots of pestering.  Mostly the kind that makes Emmeline scream at the top of her lungs.  But working hard to reign that in.  To use that gift he has to know exactly what will get a reaction to get good reactions instead of loud angry ones.
  5. Glee.  Charlie is full of wonder and glee and those things spill out of him onto all of us.
  6. Humor.  Charlie knows how to take a joke and is pretty darn good lately at shelling them out.  I love it so much when Charlie really belly laughs.  He gains so much satisfaction out of the things he finds funny. 
  7. Faith.  Charlie has an infallible sense of what is real.  He feels things strongly and is willing to do hard things if he knows they’re the right thing.  He has a fire inside of him to be a force for good in the world and he’s sensitive to the light and truth that will lead him.
  8. Passion.  When Charlie decides to love something he throws his whole heart into it.  He lives and breaths it.  He digests it until it becomes a huge part of who he is.  Currently it’s RC cars, but it’s also baseball and rock climbing and cello. 
  9. Persistence.  Charlie will not let down.  If there is something good and right the he feels like he deserves he will find a way to make it happen.  At times this is a little problematic, but I trust he grow and learn to use this ability to make good and right things happen.
  10. Whole Heartedness.  Charlie is the most confident person I know.  He isn’t never seems to doubt himself (which at times, of course, is a little problematic).  But, he knows exactly who he is and what he’s about and that leaves him free to be himself. 

And we all pretty much love who he is.  Love you Charlie Dean.  We’re all so thrilled that you dove into our world. 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2015

At about 11am on Christmas morning Jeff and I both turned to each other and declared this Shumway Christmas “the Last Christmas.”  Of course we were (mostly) joking, but we were exhausted and the kids were strung out and there was just so much stuff everywhere.  But now looking over these photos a few month later I’m determined to give Christmas another shot next year.  There really is magic in all that mayhem.  (I am working on a plan though to cut down a bit, make things more simple and stream lined, manage a little better the stuff that buries us at Christmas).

Really, all in all, we had a great Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  Here are some of the highlights: 

Eli and Julie and their two little ones came to visit us from NYC.  We LOVE having them in our cozy house during the holidays.  It just feels right to have family all packed in.  And they are the most easy going guests you could ask for. IMG_2328 Christmas Eve day was incredibly warm so we dragged the kids to our favorite spot in the Fells.  Of course, as soon as we got there they were in heaven.  We met Julie’s brother and his family there and introduced them to our secret Christmas tree forest that we love to visit.  The fresh winter air and the beauty of those christmassy looking woods made us all feel alive (except for Charlie here in this photo….he was in the middle of an epic argument with Hazel).  IMG_2313IMG_2315IMG_2317IMG_2319IMG_2325IMG_2340

We had a really tasty Christmas Eve dinner, splurged and ate Beef tenderloin and not one person stuck their noses up at the meal.  That , right there, made the price of that beef worth it.  We had our dear neighbor Joyce join us.  She is always such a pleasure to have around. She’s really a third grandmother to our kids.  IMG_8098After dinner was my very favorite part of the Christmas season.  The kids all give to each other on Christmas eve so that their gift giving efforts don’t get swallowed up in the excitement of Christmas morning.  My parents did this growing up and made it a point to really focus on the giver as they gave out their hard earned or made gifts.  It always made me feel like a million bucks to be praised to no end for the thoughtful (or maybe not so thoughtful) gifts I was giving.  I think my kids feel the same way. The big kids worked hard for months before Christmas to save up money to buy their gifts.  Peter worked up enough money to buy some pretty stellar things at the dollar store.  I LOVE the expressions captured in these photos.  They were all engaged with their whole little beings, watching and giving and receiving with such intensity and joy.  IMG_8102IMG_8106IMG_8115IMG_8124IMG_8126Jeff got some pink rollers and Twinkies from Hazel.  Love her sense of humor.  IMG_8128IMG_8129IMG_8132IMG_8133I think Hazel takes the cake for great expressions and such gracious giving and receiving. She’s always been such a generous soul. IMG_8135IMG_8138Peter is just spilling with delight.  And look at Em’s proud face as she gave that winning light saber.   IMG_8152Raw and genuine Joy right there. IMG_8159IMG_8161IMG_8162After presents we re-enact the nativity (no pictures of that one), read the Grinch, leave out cookies and scamper into bed.  I love the excitement that fills the house on Christmas Eve.  It’s nearly enough energy to propel me through the hours that come. 

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As exhausting as it is, I really love the work of Christmas Eve.  I love seeing how all the work I’ve done to collect things over the Christmas season comes together.IMG_8183I had to snap a quick picture of this neat and organized scene before the Christmas morning tornado hit. The morning started early, but not as early as it did  back in 2012.  We still all have PTSD from that Christmas morning!  I loved hearing my kids squeals of delight as they went through their stockings waiting for us to wake up.  IMG_8179Here the kids are waiting to storm down the stairs and into the room.IMG_8169  We try to limit Santa gifts to one sort of big thing and a book and a few small little items.  Hazel got lots of little things this year since she could not for the life of her figure out what to ask for.  A used Kindle (instead of a book), a knock off apple watch (1/16th of the price), some glasses and some useful items to help her pull off the nerdy look she’s always going for. IMG_8170Em, on the other hand, knew exactly what to ask for.  Roller Skates.  This never would have crossed my mind, but it was EXACTLY what her little soul needed.  It’s February now and she still wears them pretty much non-stop.  IMG_8171And Charlie’s RC car obsession continues.  This is a kit hobby car that he is still working on nearly daily to put together.  I sort of love this hobby because there is a never ending list of items that he wants to buy to improve or fix his cars.  This makes him pretty dang motivated to do lots of money jobs and chores around the house.  IMG_8172And Peter asked for a piano book and a bat man suit case.  Go figure. A very practical boy.  He was thrilled that Santa even put a few little batman toys inside the suitcase.  IMG_2433I didn’t take too many photos, just tried to soak in the magic (and breath through the chaos) of it all.  But here is one of Peter, ecstatic about his suit case and Em sporting her new roller skate look(watch from Grammy and Grandfather).  IMG_8196

We spent most of the day unwrapping presents.  Julie’s brother and wife came over for brunch and we went for a walk in the cemetery before coming back for another round of gifts.

We felt so grateful for the abundance of gifts showered on all of us by so many who love us.  As conflicted as I feel about Christmas gifts, they’re a great tool to help our children know how to give and receive.  And a great reminder of God’s greatest gift to us. 

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