Category Archives: Birthday

19 Years of Sous Chef… Photo Essay


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Sous Chef is 19 years old today.

It may seem sentimental, but I thank God for every one of those 6,935 days she has been alive. Each of those days is a blessing. Each of those days is a gift. Each of those days is a grace.

She is a wonderful young woman, as likely to be volunteering her time with a marginalized population as she is to be having a raucous time with her many good friends.

That I am reluctant to see her grow up and beyond The Cinnamon Girl and me is cliched and obvious.

That I am more proud than words can express of her is, I hope, equally obvious.

That she is one of the shining lights of my life and one of the best people I have ever known is gospel truth.

Happiest of birthdays, Sweetheart. Many, many, many happy returns.

 

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The Mater’s Birthday 2017


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I wrote about my mother on by blog teachboldly.org today and an except of what I wrote there bears repeating.

I love you, Mom!

Happiest of birthdays to you in this momentous year of your life!

From Teach & Serve III, No. 12 – Parents Are Partners

Today is my mother’s birthday and, no, I will not mention her age.

Looking back on a quarter century of work in education and with the experience of being a parent myself for over 20 years, I can say with certainty that I am very lucky to have Mom by my mom. When I was growing up, Mom was incredibly supportive of me. She was helpful. She was kind. She gave me all that she had (likely more than she should have) and was my strongest and best advocate.

She encouraged my interests. She came to my events. She cheered me on.

She loved me.

Me and Mom circa 1981.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet she also allowed me to make choices. She allowed me to fail. She allowed me to learn on our own.

When I had challenges at school – and I had some of these all the way into my college career – she listened, she empathized, she told me, in the first instance, to handle things on my own. If I could not, she would, appropriately, step in and advocate for me. If she felt my “side” was worthy, she would advocate for me, tirelessly.

You would have to ask my sisters if they remember our childhoods and Mom’s support of us in the same manner. I bet they do. We had good childhoods with great parents.

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You Can Do Magic – The Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday


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Spring 2017Today is The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday and it is a day to celebrate all that she is to those of us who know her and those of us who love her. One of the many ways we will do that is to give her cards and gifts and that is good. I love – LOVE – to give gifts.

However, it occurs to me as I write this post, that she is the gift. She is the present. She is so very special.

She is the most special woman I know.

I cannot imagine life without her. I do not wish to.

I know that that our children, too, cannot imagine their lives without her in them. She has given so much to us and is the connection that brings us together, the light around which we all hover.

I marvel at who she is and all she does.

She is confidant and confider.

She is humorist and storyteller.

She is shocking in every good way.

She is kind and compassionate.

She is breathtakingly smart and stunningly quick witted.

She is incisive and insightful.

She is beautiful by any definition of the word.

There are many (myself included) who wonder if she has precognitive powers – if she is tapped into some kind of font that allows her to understand the world in ways that other people do not.

Here’s the secret: my Cinnamon Girl is magic.

She is pure magic.

Happy birthday, Cinnamon Girl. Thank you for being the gift.

 

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20/20 Vision – Happy Birthday, Stretch


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MatthewStretch turns 20 today. 10 x 2. 5 x 4. 2 decades.

I do not know how this happened so quickly.

I do not know where kid went, the one who, as a toddler, would wake up incredibly early – we are talking before 5:00am here – and drag me out of bed to play with his “guys” (his little plastic football players).

I do not know where that same kid who wanted to play every sport imaginable for as long as the days, weeks and seasons would last has gone.

I do not know where the boy who would sit in front of a computer screen playing “Backyard Football” hour-after-hour has run of to or where the kid who was sure he was going to be an NFL wide receiver or tight end has flown.

I have been looking for the guy who sat next to me at the conclusion of a frigid cold, heartbreaking Denver Bronco loss with a tear literally freezing running down his cheek.

Likewise, I have been searching out the student who sometimes asked me to read his papers and asked for help on his homework.

High and low I have sought the 6 foot 7, red robe wearing graduate I hugged as he walked across a special stage.

What I have found in these searches – what I have found with this new 20/20 vision of Stretch  now that he is 20 – is a young man on his way to adulthood. Well on his way.

I have found a young man upon whom others rely.

I have found a young man who cares deeply about his world and those around him.

I have found a prayerful young man, a passionate young man, a smart young man.

I have found a young man who it is both honor and privilege to call “son.”

And I have found just how lucky we, his bonus mom, his brother and sister and I are that he is in our family.

Happy birthday, Stretch. Many, many, many returns.

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20 Memories… 20 for HJ jr.


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It’s HJ jr’s 20th birthday today.

Twentieth.

He’s 20.

20-years-old.

To say this is difficult for me to believe is something of an understatement. See, I remember when he moved into his teenage years and now he’s moving out of them.

I remember when he had a collection of sticks and toy guns…

when he tried to remember every piece of chocolate cake he’d ever eaten…

when he walked proudly across the graduation stage…

when he had a walk down a certain path and dropped his cell phone…

when he and I would sit at the dining room table and work though algebra problems…

when he has hugged me…

when he was named outstanding junior of the year…

when we went to see any number of movies that no one else in the family wanted to see (I still didn’t enjoy Elysium)…

when he almost slipped, once, and said something more than “good night” to me…

when he showed me at each-and-every stage of his life that he was the master and I was the learner by telling me about string theory or the Russian economy or any one of a number of things he knew more about than I did……

when he hugs that stupid dog we have (he loves that dog)…

when he texts The Cinnamon Girl … I am glad to be in touch even when he’s away at school…

when I think about his incredible dedication to what he wants…

when consider all the teachers at the school he transferred from lamenting that he was leaving … “he’s the kind of kid we need at this school” they said. They were right…

when I watch him in conversation with “adults” and see how he handles himself with poise and confidence

when he makes his quirky jokes; he’s just so damn funny…

when I get a glimpse into how he views the world…

when I remember the serious talks we’ve had and the difficult ones I recall what a privilege it is to be in his life…

… when he does something silly (keys in the refrigerator, anyone?)…

… when he, in his own inimitable way, lets his family know how much they really mean to him.

Happy birthday, bonus son. Happiest of birthdays.

I am forever honored to be a part of your life and forever proud of you.

 

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Happy Birth”Day” – Sous Chef at 18


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Sous Chef turns 18 today.

18.

She is the last of the brood to reach “adulthood” but, in a great many ways, seems more adult than her brothers, her step mother or me.

Composed, compassionate and cute, Sous Chef has been, for The Cinnamon Girl and me, an almost perfect daughter. I don’t use that term careless or without consideration. As the youngest of 3 kids packed together in rapid succession, Sous Chef was the last to leave for college and The Cinnamon Girl and I had the amazing opportunity last year to spend Sous Chef’s senior year with her. Here’s what I learned:

  • Sous Chef is one of the hardest working people I know.
  • Sous Chef is quick, witty and funny.
  • Sous Chef is one of the smartest kids I’ve known (and I’ve known plenty.)
  • Sous Chef is beautiful in every way that term applies.
  • Sous Chef is consideration and kind.
  • Sous Chef is one of the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given.

Here’s another truth of Sous Chef – she is someone I’d like to have as a friend. We’re stuck with family, to be sure, but I would choose Sous Chef as someone to spend time in any circumstance.

 

I know she’s destined for great things as an adult.

I miss her now that she’s at school.

I love her, deeply.

Happy 18th, Sous Chef!

She got the pun in the title of this post even if you didn’t!

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Some Dates Count, Count Some Dates – The Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday


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Regular readers of this blog, friends and family and anyone who has seen The Cinnamon Girl and me together knows something about us: we kind of enjoy being in one another’s company. We just spent a terrific weekend in Washington, DC, doing exactly what we like to do:

  • Enjoying good food (LeMadeline, Fishers Farmers Bakers, Lauriol Plaza)
  • Seeing sites we want to see at the pace we want to see them (National Portrait Gallery, the Spy Museum, Mount Vernon, both Air and Space Museum locations)
  • Walking, walking, walking
  • … and, talking, talking, talking.

Ostensibly, this trip to DC coincided with The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday. It was, in theory (because I break rules and gave her a few other items) her present, but the real present is mine. The real present is her. The real present is her presence.

I am not writing this on her actual birthday because, while some dates count, it seems to me we actually might be better served counting some dates like the dates I’ve been able to spend with The Cinnamon Girl, like the dates I’ve been amazed by her intelligence and beauty, like the dates she’s made me laugh, like the dates she’s dazzled me with her humor, like the dates she’s made our children into the young adults they are, like each-and-every date from the time I fell in love with her until yesterday- her birthday – today and tomorrow.

How many July 10ths doesn’t matter. Those dates don’t count.

Counting each day with The Cinnamon Girl in my life, that matters.

That counts.

It counts higher than I can ever reach.

 

 

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