It seems like it can't possibly have been a year since this happened last but here it is again, my son's birthday. The day I met him, the day he was born, the day I saw his eyes for the first time. He has been such a force of joy in my life, and such an instrument of change to the person that I am as well. We had an awesome weekend to celebrate his birthday. Of course, he got his presents from us family members while everyone was still in pajamas in the morning, including this cute hippo headrest from his little sis' (she also gave him a hippo cookie cutter and hippo alarm clock, and noticing the hippos shirt - a birthday present from grandma last year - I'm sure you sense a theme here!). Yes, the boy still loves hippos. "Donation to WWF hippo protection" was one item on his birthday list in fact, and he has talked lately of a future in wildlife biology, studying hippos of course.
Then he wanted to camping, so we headed to one of the most beautiful places on earth: Waldo Lake. Some friends were camping there and we joined up for a couple of days of sunshine, incredible clear water (one of the clearest lakes in the world, with over 100 foot visibility), forest, and an amazing display of stars at night. My mom came to join us and brought her kayak, which Mackenzie really enjoyed paddling around in for hours and hours (I think mom thought she might never pry her paddle back out of his hands)
Besides kayaking, we went hiking, the kids rode bikes all over the place, there's a swimming dock, and they waded around catching frogs in the marshes and had frog races. All the things that make a late-summer camping trip so sweet....
At 4:14 in the afternoon, my alarm went off. Mackenzie and I were alone on the shore, he was still wrapped in a towel, and I wished him the happiest of birthdays in that quiet moment (and of course, snapped a pic of my birthday boy, looking very quietly contemplative here).
After getting home late Friday night, we spent Saturday morning getting ready for his birthday party. I woke up at about 2:30 am in a mild panic. The wind was blowing a cold and pelting rain through the open French doors in our bedroom, and Mackenzie had planned an outdoor party with lots of games (and he had about 20 guests coming, so I was envisioning how I would keep all of those kids busy in our house if we got rained out!) But I shouldn't have worried as Saturday dawned clear, if a little chillier than the usual August weather. The sun shone on his party and everyone had fun playing tug-of-war, capture the flag, and water balloon fights.
And of course, he had fun opening presents, from a chess clock to D&D books, Yu Gi Oh cards, favorite games and gift cards, he got some very thoughtful presents from his friends. Then they all played in the park until the dusk closed in on another turning of the year.
The next day, we went for a hike up a local mountain with my sis and brother-in-law. It was great to have them here for the long weekend, and celebrate together as a family. The good weather held until about an hour after everyone hit the road to go home, and then it started pouring. It was definitely a serendipitous little window of weather for Mackenzie's birthday weekend.
As always, I'm grateful that I've gotten to spend another year on this planet in this young man's company. As he grows and matures, we spend more time together as friends, and less time with me reminding him to wash behind his ears or pouring his milk. He's a great person to hang out with, even if he wasn't my son he'd be one of my favorite people on the planet. With a ready quip, a rollcking laugh, an inquisitive spirit, and a soft spot for hippos, his cat, and all creatures great and small, he's just a terrific 12 year old kid.