Tariku Turns Seven!

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My little man turned seven Friday. Add your own cliche about time here. It’ll be true. It’s all true. These milestones never fail to blow me away.

Here’s a belated birthday party picture dump, because I was (supposedly) observing the National Day of Unplugging while throwing a party for 80 people. Why so many? Because I’m a sucker, that’s why. And because I can’t stand any of the kids feeling not-invited and then I can’t stand for parents to have to find childcare for siblings and then I of course want all our besties there to dance with me and do the heavy gift-lifting. So we just invite em all, and wheeee!!! I have many commendable personality traits, but being sensible ain’t one of em.

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Did I manage to do it unplugged?

Well…

Sorta.

We had some people over Friday night for T’s actual birthday and we did turn off our phones. We talked and hung out by the fire pit, looking at the stars through T’s new telescope. The kids played music for hours. They weren’t exactly playing ukuleles and washboards or anything– they were totally plugged-in and jamming to Katy Perry’s “Firework” over and over. But the the jam was not Instagrammed.

On the morning of the party, I cheated. Scott didn’t unplug, so I pretty much just barked texts at him all morning:

Text the DJ and confirm!

Text Meredith and see if she wants to ride over together.

Text Jen and see if she’ll take pictures.

Scott said, “I don’t think the point of this is that you get a personal secretary and a personal photographer.”

True, true. But it was still an educational experience…I did learn that if the day ever comes that I get to have a personal secretary and a personal photographer, it will make me feel relaxed and awesome!

At the actual party, my phone did remain in my purse. I didn’t take pictures (photo credits are all Jen Rindler- thanks, Jen!), which is, like, a Herculean effort for me. The truth is that I had a great time without it.

What I liked most about my pseudo-unplugging, was that even in the ways that I failed, it made me more conscious. I did walk away from it feeling grateful for the ways technology enhances my life and aware of the ways that it’s probably extraneous.

Overall, the party was a smash. Tariku gets super, super super excited about his birthday. He’s already planning next year’s party. I’m not kidding. He’s also assigning birthdays to his stuffed animals, so that “they” can also have parties.

As you can imagine, that’s a whole lot of pressure and expectation for everyone. So it was a wonderful weekend, but also anxiety provoking for all of us. I’m glad we did it and I’m just as glad that it’s over and we’re getting back to our usual routine.

I can’t believe I just said that, but it’s true. Even though it was initially contrary to my free-spirited nature, the practice of establishing a routine for Tariku has been far and away the most effective thing for increasing his sense of security in the world. The more consistency we employ, the more regulated he is. I’ve come to crave the structure as much as he does. It makes all of our lives so much easier.

So now we are back to relative normal, and eagerly awaiting Tigey’s (T’s tiger/alter ego) bday. I’m a little bit worried about it, because frankly Tigey can be a real a-hole. He’s like T’s Jungian shadow. But we’ll be okay. We’ll make it through. And I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure I will opt to stay plugged and Instagram the heck out of it. Because you deserve to see a stuffed tiger in a party hat.

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Can She Do It?!

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Starting Friday at sundown, I’m unplugging for a whole day, in honor of the National Day of Unplugging. The tricky part is that Saturday is Tariku’s 7th birthday party. As a mom blogger, doing an unplugged b-day party is like the seventh circle of hell! It’s torture! I feel both anxious and excited about the prospect.

Honestly, I wouldn’t do a day completely unplugged if my kid wasn’t going to be glued to my side all day. But he is. And I’m gonna try it. Because I’m curious.

So… if you’re coming to the party- don’t text me for directions!

I wrote a post for the National Day of Unplugging about why I’m doing it.

Here’s a teaser:

I’m curious to see what it will be like if I’m not reserving a portion of my awareness for judging my experience as I imagine others will- on my blog, on social media, on all these platforms that have been so enriching for my life but have nonetheless certainly altered how I experience it. I’m curious to know what will happen if I don’t have this escape hatch of connectivity every time things get the slightest bit boring or uncomfortable. I’m curious to know what will happen if, when my son starts being epically annoying, I lean in to that discomfort rather than relying on the outlet of some snarky tweet and the balm of inevitable supportive responses. I’m curious to know what happens to our connection if I don’t make him repeat his every feat of adorableness for me and my beloved camera.

Read the rest HERE.

Four No More

T-bone turned five yesterday. He triumphantly announced- I’ll never be four again. And then he said- Mommy, what’s wrong? Because of course I was sobbing all over the turkey sandwich I was making for his lunch.

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I lost my mind and threw him a big bowling shindig this weekend (his idea), and it was actually fun and gratifying. It was the first birthday that he was conscious of what it meant that all of his friends showed up for him. He talked about it for days. Of course, the other side of the coin is that now he cares whether or not friends come to his parties, which is pretty much the root of all childhood pain. So here it all is- the delight and the vulnerability to heartbreak. It’s all happening, friends. He turned five. Five.

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And three seconds ago, a heartbeat ago, a lifetime ago, on another continent, in some other dimension, this happened:

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Of course, I think about his birth mother a lot around his birthday. As an adoptee, it took me a long time to realize why birthdays were such a complicated emotional mess for me. I try to be conscious of that complexity with T, try to be a little extra soft, a little extra patient. I don’t think I’m projecting when I sense some sadness in him. On the morning of his actual birthday, he hid under the couch pillows and didn’t want to talk about it. But, being T, he shook it off in favor of crazy dancing. Because if that kid has a talent for anything in this world, it is joy. I hope somewhere, somehow, his birth mother can feel the reverberation of that joy in her bones.

Birthday Crazy

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Tariku turned 3 on Sunday and I admit it- I went birthday crazy. We threw an absolute rager at his fave spot: Travel Town in Griffith Park. Travel Town is a train museum that T visits at least twice a week. It was an ideal place for his party because there’s tons of outdoor space, so T could go off and chill when he got overwhelmed.

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I honestly had no idea how it was going to go over. I hoped that he would have a blast but I had accepted the possibility that he might get overstimulated and want to get the heck out of there. Still, I wanted to give it a try. I’m happy to report that it went over beautifully. He loved it. He’s still talking about it.

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We had the Let’s Be Frank organic hot dog cart and crafts and choo choos and a chocolate cake decorated with an airbrushed rendering of his new blue guitar. We even had Brobie from Yo Gabba Gabba.

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T’s over-the-top baby bash had a precedent. While I was swept up in the frenzy of the party planning, I recalled the extravagant theme parties my own mother used to throw for me as a kid. One could look at this as a legacy of bourgeois suburban madness, but I remember the parties very fondly. She wasn’t generally a showy or competitive kind of mom and I believe our birthday parties were a real creative outlet for her, as well as a chance to just joyfully indulge for a day. I took the torch and ran with it and I’m glad I did. It was a special day. I don’t think I’ll do it every year, but this is the first birthday that T was really aware of and it was fun to deliver it in style.

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And seriously, how great is Scott? For a million things, but particularly for agreeing to get completely dorky and wear matching engineer outfits.

The pictures were taken by our friend Leon Mostovoy (have him shoot your party or portrait: leonmostovoy@yahoo.com) and by our own stalwart Auntie Jo (who just got on my case for never giving her credit when I post her videos).

The Boy with the Blue Guitar

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Tariku turned three yesterday. He’s been asking for a blue electric guitar for months, so that’s exactly what he got. The only one we could find was a little big for him. Does anyone have a suggestion for a real electric guitar that would fit a three year old?

The scene made me think of this, from “The Man with the Blue Guitar” by Wallace Stevens:

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

And they said to him, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar,
Of things exactly as they are.”

It was a magical day. Party pictures to come…

You can see him play it here.