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Micah’s class in The Best School Ever has a super-cool ceremony called “The Walk Around the Sun”. Parents help their child write down special events or memories from each year of the child’s life.

These are read, year by year, as the child walks around a lit candle. One turn around the candle is one year of their life, and what was special about each year is read.

I love that – and wanted to do something similar here for his birthday.

7 turns around the sun, 7 walks around light.

He is 7.

0-1 square
“What was special about this year for me? Being born. I learned how to drink milk, then eat.”

1-2 years old done

“I learned how to ride a bike, how to use a toilet. I loved to take baths and play with trains.”

2-3 years old

“My little sister was born. We made our first long camping trip in Mexico. I started to like Star Trek.”

3-4 years old

“I learned how to read, learned how to take pictures. I started preschool and we went to Mexico again.”

4-5 years old

“I loved my Star Trek puppets! I loved riding my bike! I loved my garden! My baby brother was born.”

5-6 years old

“I enjoyed my brother and sister. I loved Star Trek and Star Wars. I was in Mexico and then moved to Petrolia. I love Petrolia. Moving here was a very special moment in my life.”

6-7 years old

“I loved swimming in Mexico and going to the beach. I also loved my new friend, Jonathan, who lives in Patzcuaro. I love trying new food and traveling.”

– and that was his take on his 7 years of light, walking around the sun.

Shine bright, kid.

We love you so, so much.

 

017at this moment four years ago, I was in labor, on the ball, on my hands and knees, walking, hanging on to the door frame

at this moment four years ago, I was still hoping that the amniocentesis would be wrong. She had had diffuse fetal hydrops (- in which all of her skin was lifted off her body and filled with fluid) and she had had heart holes, all of which had miraculously healed. I was hoping (against hope) that she would be the 1% (or was it the .1%?) that was wrong, hoping that she’d pull a miracle again and be born without Down syndrome.

at this moment four years ago, I was not longing to meet her.

at this moment four years ago, I was very scared. I didn’t know what she would look like, had no mental image for what she would be like, scared that I might not love her or want her.

at this moment four years ago I had been in labor for 8 hours… I had 13 hours to go.

at this moment four years ago, the pain and pressure of childbirth was triggering my brain and knocking me out – surely I’m one of the rare few that had to be slapped to stay awake while engaged in the act of childbirth?

at this moment four years ago, I didn’t know that placenta would be left in me after birth and would fester for a month before paralyzing me and changing our lives completely.

at this moment four years ago, I was like a bird in its egg, with a new world waiting for me on the other side of breaking free. I didn’t know that I was birthing my own moxie as well as my daughter Moxie, that accepting her disability would lead to the acceptance of my own, and that the pain of the Placenta Incident,and walking on fire would resurface my soles and re-brand my heart.

at this moment four years ago, I didn’t know the future.

at this moment four years ago, I was terrified of what it would be.

***

moxie
moxie

I want this post to be about Moxie and about what a glorious person she is, how fun she is, smart and sparkly and oh-so-pretty.

I want this to be about all of that and yet, Moxie’s birth feels to me to be something more than a celebration of the day that she came.

Because when Moxie was born, I welcomed into this world both a slippery 8 lb peach and my own courage.

After she was born and after the Placenta Incident, my life shifted into focus.

She was born. I was re-born. 

Many parents say that their children teach them so much, particularly their children with a disability. I think what the parents actually mean by that is that the parents opened up their own hearts in response to their children and their own hearts taught them the way.

Their own hearts taught them. But it was the child coming that enabled their hearts to open to accept this new space and understanding of courage and of prejudice, helped them to look at the world through a focused lens.

I am no different.

She came. My heart opened. My heart taught me. And I am full of gratitude to her for coming, so happy to have this precious Rainbow.

moxie nichols

 Happy birthday, sweet Moxie

***

PS:

The book which I have been working on is almost done – it should be available tomorrow. Stay tuned!

The foundation that we are starting, the Foundation for Living with a little Moxie, will also be starting very soon – details coming.

xoxo meriah

Let’s say you married someone that is the Love of Your Life but is the absolute worst at gift giving? We are talking purely hypothetically, of course.

And let’s say that this Love of Your Life gets overwhelmed because two of your three (hypothetical) children have birthdays right around the same time as YOUR OWN (hypothetical) birthday which is RIGHT NEXT TO Mother’s Day, and oh my God, it’s just nuts!

Soooooooooooooo, let’s just say that your birthday AND mother’s day hypothetically fall through the cracks every.single.year and you know what? That’s no fun.

This year I have created an affiliate-link free (no bullshit) handy dandy gift guide for this Beloved Person – it can be bookmarked, shared, printed and pinned.

And it doesn’t have to be about a birthday or Mother’s Day, does it?

I think just for being alive and present, not to mention for laundry, childbirth, c-sections, wiping snot and butts, for singing  “Wheels on the Bus” on an endless cycle of repeat at 4 in the morning, gifts are GREAT way to show appreciation for our presence and participation in the field of parenting!

Yes! For the hours and hours spent researching AND IMPLEMENTING every*single*thing possible to make those (hypothetical or not) kids well adjusted, happy, content, and “reaching their potential” – every exercise, therapy, book, app, game, pinterest playdough recipe. For the wrinkles gained, the pounds, the sagging skin, the stains on every garment owned.

I dedicate this list – which is listed in no particular order, and may be used at ANY time of the year – to you.

1. TIME

a. Time with friends:

Time to hang out with friends, time to TALK and catch up on everything that is happening in each other’s lives, time to sit and laugh and maybe cry a little too. Time to fill up on that special sauce that is ‘friendship’ and walk away feeling refreshed. This. Is. Gold.

Super awesomely thoughtful gift on the level of high radness? Arrange for Friend-Time.

Gold, I’m telling you.

b. Time with the Beloved:

mnmI love my One True Darling Man, Mikey. He’s my best friend and I find him wildly attractive. We haven’t ever been able to spend much time alone with one another since we had kids, but when we do, I treasure it. A marvelous birthday/ mother’s day present from him to me (NOT THAT I’M HINTING OR ANYTHING) would be to set up a great date night for us together. Love.

c. Time with myself:

I like doing things with myself too. I laugh at all my own jokes! Time doing things that relax or amuse me makes me happy, as I’m sure it does for most people. Things I like to do by myself:

– get a good haircut

It’s my belief, perhaps born from 10 years of living in Asia, that a good haircut can heal a whole lot. It’s maybe kind of like getting a great new frame that makes everything held a little better. Makes me look and feel thinner, younger, prettier, -er, -er, -er – all good, makes my world just more-er. If you are in the SF Bay Area, I recommend Remedy, in Emeryville. Any of the stylists; they are all great, and all awesome and all make me feel like a rockstar about once a year.

 

japanese bath– soak in a hot tub

I’d love to have a big, deep wood hot tub, preferably filled with hot spring water which may or may not be scented with natural oils/ candles… CHILDREN WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. Except by specific invitiation.

And children will be OKAY with that (- they won’t cry or scream or want me at any time in which I am relaxing in it)

 – indulge in the spa-tastical 

You know, diving into packaged kits and sets, made out of NICE INGREDIENTS (- Earth Mama Angel Baby has nice stuff, as does Kiehl’s, L’Occitane and our new neigbour, By Nieve. Massages, fluffy towels and aromas that make you sigh.

I love this stuff. I think all women do?

2. Stuff

Stuff is nice too:

a. Cards

I really like these, and I like the handmade ones. I know, it’s almost a cliché, but I really, honestly dig the handmade cards made in squiggly kid’s writing with their deeply abstract artistic renderings. Love! Love the glitter and splotches of colour, love the “love you”, love the fact that the little hands were pressed upon the paper and creativity was flowing all over them

grandmothers necklace674 (1) b. Jewelry

Yes, I like this too! My favorite? Stuff made my this company – http://www.brentjess.com/ is my favorite [reminder! that is not an affiliate link – I get not one penny from them if you buy any of their cool stuff]. Swwoooon!  Fingerprint necklaces, wee drawings made by our creative genius’, oh, the love. Sweet, sweet things.

danskoc. Shoes

Give me darling shoes of nerd-bent and I’ll give ya a big kiss. Shoes I like include these old school Danskos, Saltwaters, (Merrill) BOOTS and pretty much anything red. Did I already mention the Dansko’s? Yeah, I really, really like them. You can get these ones at REI – or the dansko website (- NO affiliate links here!)

 d. Makeup

My dear friend Terre was asking me what I missed about my life before I had kids. I said, “makeup” and she was surpised, she said she expected me to say something deeper/more meaningful like “reading” or something.

Um, no.

I spent hours, literally hours in Sephora before I had kids, trying out EVERYthing, I read makeup reviews and new makeup reveals like novice runners read “Runner’s World” shoe reviews or tech junkies look forward to the annual Mac conference or those crazy-for-something people who sleep in lines for days waiting to buy tickets.

I loved makeup, I adored makeup! I miss it now. I miss the nice smells and colours of Benefit, the perfect lipsticks of Mac, the Nars glosses. I miss Urban Decay, their lovely fluid bold eyeliners, I miss Lancome mascara, Smashbox primers and shadows. I miss wandering around and testing, seeing what’s new, trying, mixing, shading, feeling.

Marvelous makeup, GUILT-FREE (- like, I’m not trashing my kid’s college fund for this blush) would be pretty awesome.

 e. Cute clothes

It’s been so long since I had cute clothes – or ones not stained, hole-y, pre-used, ill fitting in some way – that I’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like – but I vaguelly remember it was REALLY NICE and FUN! Like, fun flared pants, things that didn’t scream, “I WIPE BUTTS ALL DAY”.

***

Summing up, I’m completely predictable! I like clothes, jewelry, nice-smelling stuff (- but not perfume), flowers (I forgot to mention them, but I LOVE flowers!!), cards (handmade!), I like time with the people I love, especially the ones I rarely get to spend time with. I like hot tubs and relaxing.

Here’s the handy summary

giftlist meriah nichols

**

Another note: you can get GIFT CERTIFICATES for almost everything listed here! How great is that?!

 

Little love,

there is a song that we like that has lyrics that say,

On the day that you were born, the angels got together

And decided to make a dream come true…

We think that is exactly what happened on that early morning that you were born – angel dust was sprinkled in your hair, birds sang and gave you the gift of their bright eyes, and the stars shone down from the universe and smiled.

meriah nichols micah 6-17

Because when you came to us, an entire world opened – you made me a mother, you made Daddy a father – in one fell swoop, you made us both the happiest and most terrified we have ever been.

You’ll understand the feeling someday, if you choose to have children.

meriah nichols micah 6-18

Micah, you mean the world to us.

meriah nichols micah 6-7

Micah, M-I-C-A-H

meriah nichols micah 6-6 meriah nichols micah 6-5

M is for your magnificent caring heart. You see and you love and you care

meriah nichols micah 6

I is for your inquisitiveness. Go ahead and look it up – I’ll wait – “inquisitive” – got it? Yep, that’s you, Sherlock!

meriah nichols micah 6-9 meriah nichols micah 6-8

C is for creative: you make up words, stories, pictures, cities, businesses, dance moves, names, even animals! Goo-goo-ga-ga scorpions!

meriah nichols micah 6-16

A is for articulate. You like words and have a knack for using them.

meriah nichols micah 6-2

H is for happy. You have a spirit that is happy and bright – your little light shines, Number One!

meriah nichols micah 6-21 meriah nichols micah 6-25 meriah nichols micah 6-14

 

M-I-C-A-H: Micah, our little boy who is growing up so fast and so well.

meriah nichols micah 6-22 meriah nichols micah 6-27 meriah nichols micah 6-28

We love you.

meriah nichols micah 6-26

With all of our hearts,

Mommy and Daddy

 

 

Today is my birthday and I am 40.

I’ve heard people say now that 40 is the new 30, but I think that’s kind of a crock o’ crap.

40 is not the new 30.

40 is 40.

40 feels old to me. It feels like it needs to wear responsible pants and sturdy, sensible shoes that are capable of lasting a long time. 40 feels like it needs to be moisturized to look good, needs to be loved to glow. 40 feels like bad (yet thrifty) haircuts are on the horizon, right along with weird skin tags. 40 feels like it needs to be supported.

40 feels like it can’t take as many chances as 30 did.

If ages were cars, 30 would be the mini cooper and 40 would be the honda civic.

****

Looking back, my actual birthday absolutely sucked when I turned 30. I mean, big-time. It ended up with me standing outside the club, crying. Feeling so lonely and wrung out and…just sad.

I was 30.

I was new in the Bay Area (despite being born here), I had recently broken up an engagement, I had gone from being a fancy corporate trainer in Tokyo to taking care of old people. I was struggling through job interviews because I couldn’t hear and I had no idea how to get a job in the US.

****

I was  30.

The birthday was not what I would have wanted it to be, but the decade was. It was different than I planned, with the first part focused on my career and the second part focused on my family. It’s not what I thought it would be; it was more than I dreamed could be possible.

10 years ago, I was standing outside of a club in San Francisco, crying. I was alone and I was lonely. I had no idea how I was going to make what I wanted, happen. Being 30 was scary to me then because I felt I was dramatically failing in everything that society said a 30 year old could/should/would be/do/have.

And now I’m staring 40 straight in the eye.

***

40 is not the new 30.

40 is 40.

It’s nothing like 30.

I am getting the sense that it can be just as sweet as this cherry that Number One picked by hand and left on my table to enjoy as soon as I woke up this morning.

photo 4

40 is a number I’ve never experienced. It’s a new marker, a new benchmark, springboard.

I imagine it’s going to be just as frustrating as learning to crawl can be.

photo 1

My body is changing. I am feeling my mortality – which has never scared me but because my One True Darling is five whole years younger than me with his mother’s perfect (read: ageless, wrinkle-less) skin, I get nervous.

Not like I need to be, he says.

Okay, anyway. Where was I?

Right, 40.

40.

This brand new decade, full of promise. Promise of being able to still do cool stuff and having some thoughts worth thinking in my head. Issues resolved and I’ve located my baggage and unpacked a fair amount. 40, with the promise of big dreams that can be fleshed out. Promise of more juicy life, lying straight ahead, saying, “BITE me! I’m SAUCY! I’m FUN!”

40.

This new big adventure in which I have this partner that I love with all my heart, by my side

photo 3

Complete with small offspring! Woo-hoo!

photo 2

photo 3

40.

I’m going where I haven’t gone before.

And I’m not going to lie: it’s scary.

photo 2
(I wanted a bold, fearless kind of look here)

40.

It still feels like it calls for sensible shoes, thrifty and unattractive haircuts. Makeup that doesn’t sparkle much and “mature” moisturizer. But I look at myself and I really do look the same. Maybe more, on account of 3 babies and extra weight, maybe more, on account of becoming more comfortable in my own skin, with who I am as a person.

40 is already starting better than 30 did, thanks to the sweet “celebration cherry” left for me by my sweet son. And thanks to the delicious coffee brewed for me by my One True Darling Man, Mikey. The sounds of the kids playing – shreeking, maybe – as I type this post fills the air and their overall delight makes me smile.

photo 1

The start of things that are scary always seems to hold the potential for something really amazing. 40 is new for me, it’s scary. And like this day starting off so much better than my 30th birthday, I believe that this decade will take us further than the decade of my 30’s took me.

Hopefully. God-willing. And with some effort.

Just like the effort, hope and will that my Mom employed to bring me here in the first place (and thank you, Mom, for that!)

So, 40 isn’t the new 30. It’s nothing like 30. It’s scarier, it’s bigger. It’s more challenging, it’s riper. It’s smarter, it walks with more assurance and speaks with more soul power.

40 is on the way to knowing itself and doing something about it.

 

You know, everyone except Mack had or will have a birthday in the first two weeks of May. In light of that, and of leaving soon for the Pan Am Overland, we thought we’d go all out and have a party. We just don’t do that sort of thing normally.

We are ridiculously introverted and private.

Funny, huh, considering that I write this blog and all! 

I think only a small handful of my closest friends have ever visited my home on any occasion. I just don’t usually invite people over and since Mikey doesn’t either, well, we are left with Micah who pretty much invites THE WHOLE WORLD in. Like, literally – he stands on the porch and calls out, “COME ON OVER AND PLAY!

With our minds set on a PARTY, we invited a lot of people and I think 99.5% of those invited RSVP’d “coming”. I freaked out and spent about two days sweating through preparations. I really don’t know if it would have been any better if I put on parties more often? Like, I’d be more assured and know *exactly* what to get and so forth?

I have no idea. And I was trying to figure out how much of whatever we’d need, trying to collect it all with 3 kids around me: crying, fighting, playing, screaming, bucking, needing something from me every minute of the dang day.

So anyway, the day came and I had been up since dawn trying to clean and get ready and LO, it was 10 o’clock and people were showing up and we were NOT READY and I was trying not to panic or freak out even more than I was. My friends Katie and Katherine – BLESS THEM FOR ALL ETERNITY, PLEASE GOD – went right to work, taping up paper, setting up the food. My sainted mother was in line at Costco all morning, picking up the cake and pizza.

Somehow. It all came together.

I think it’s because we have really lovely friends – old friends and new friends. And all of them, delightful.

I think it’s because the sun was perfect, the air was full of the sounds of kid’s laughter.

It was because people were content to just paint and play and bang a cool pinata.

It’s because… well, maybe I don’t know why, but I’m really happy that our one and only BIG party was a lot of fun.

PS

A bunch of kids at the party got to the presents before a responsible adult who could record who-gave-what did. This means I have NO IDEA who gave us what (unless you gave it to me directly). ARGHHHH. Please, if you can, either let me know what you gave or accept our sincere and blanketed notes of appreciation? I am so sorry.

PS2

If you live in the Bay Area and we did not invite you, know that it was because this was totally kid-focused. Trust me: without a kid there, you would have been pretty miserable.

If you have kids and we didn’t invite you, it wasn’t intentional! I’m sorry! Forgive me! I’ll try and make it up to you! I swear!

 

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