Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carter!

Carter is three years old today. It's so hard for me to believe it's been three years since the terrifying day when the doctors said he was going to be born that very morning to save my life, 11 weeks too early. I wish I could remember his birth with love and joy, but I can't. Instead, it was terrifying and shattering, and I still mourn the things I lost that day.

Thankfully, there have been very few days since Carter came home from the NICU that were anything less than joyful. Carter is such an amazing child, not only because of what he survived early on, but because of the person he has become in the last three years. I know all parents love and adore their children, but I also love and adore him for who he is, so much.

It's interesting to watch his personality emerge, to see what interests him and what does not, to see what he notices, what is important to him, and to see how he is starting to make sense of the world around him. I love his sense of humor, his sensitivity to the people around him, his emerging creativity, his intensely obsessive focus on the things he is interested in, and the simple honesty with which he dismisses the things he is not interested in. I love seeing bits of my personality surface, and then bits of Doug's. He is so confident, so secure in who he is, and so determined.

I love the way he's so come into his own lately, with such a strong desire to make his own decisions and to have some control over his life. We try very hard to respect his decisions when it's feasible, and also to recognize that he may change his mind completely in another five minutes. We try to help ground him through the storm of emotions he's still learning how to handle, and to give him that secure space he needs to complete this transition from baby to child.

Lately his big thing is, "Let's pretend we're _____", where the blank can be anything from chickens to dinosaurs, puppies to band saws, grapples to characters from his favorite TV shows. And so we do, running around the house and yard making crazy noises and pretending. I love it!

So today was his birthday. We elected not to have a party this year (maybe next year, when he knows more about what birthday parties are) and instead decided to make it a day full of things he loves to do. We started with breakfast tacos at Rudy's and then went to Williamson County park to ride the train.





We decided to spread his birthday presents out all day, so we brought one to the park with us.


This was an air-powered rocket, which he completely loved.


Here is a video of him and Doug shooting them off.

He loved chasing after the rockets, too.


After we played with the rockets for a while, we went for a bike ride on the trail.


We were walking along while he rode, and Doug said, "Oh look, Carter, why don't you go play in the cactus over there?" Which he meant as a joke, but of course, Carter takes these things literally, so he said, "Okay," jumped off his bike, and headed right into a big prickly pear patch! Doug had to go running after him, and then he immediately proceeded to dig into a fire ant mound with his bare hands, so Doug had to pull him out of that too. It was actually really funny, heh.

After a morning at the park, we went to the Waterloo Icehouse for lunch, where Carter loves to play.


He got incredibly dirty, OMG! We didn't get a lot of this out if his hair until his bath. Ah, but being dirty means he's having fun, of course!


We picked up cupcakes on the way home (in lieu of a big birthday cake), and so we had them after lunch and again after dinner. He loved blowing out the candles, and kept wanting me to relight them so he could do it again and again.


He only ate the frosting, which is a sad waste of cupcake, I have to say.


We opened more presents. This one is an adorable front loader that you can take apart and put together again.




We played outside for a while with the neighbors' new foster kids. They were in awe of all the ride-on toys Carter has -- two tractors, a bike, a scooter, and a big wheel -- and so there was a lot of encouraging of sharing going on. Carter saw the older boy riding a bike and immediately wanted to go ride bikes with him! They are hoping to adopt some children soon, so there will be more little ones near Carter's age in our cul de sac to play with.

We Skyped with both sets of grandparents on my side today, which was fun. Carter is still a little uncertain about talking on the phone, but video calls go pretty well. It's funny to think that will be completely normal to him, but was unheard of when I was a child. We opened the rest of the presents after dinner, and Nana got to watch Carter open a present from her via Skype -- this fantastic tent shaped like a front loader.


He loves it! We spent quite a lot of time playing in it tonight.

We decided to let him stay up late, so after his bath he came downstairs to play. He ended up watching a video and then fell asleep in my lap at 8:45. I guess he had a big day!

Happy Birthday, baby boy. We love you, so, so much!

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