Family birthdays, or how Older Daughter time traveled & took us with her

We all think our children are wonderful. We all believe our children are the very best ever & have extra-super talents that make them unique & special. But can your child travel forward in time–and not only propel herself a month into the future but take other people with her?

I didn’t think so.

The first thing to remember in this story is that my son-in-law’s birthday is today, Sept. 10. It always has been, for as long as I’ve known him. His Sept. 10 birthday is an indisputable fact, confirmed by both his mother & the state of Alabama. I wouldn’t argue with either one.

The second thing to remember is that we are a birthday family. When it was just my two daughters & me, we celebrated each birthday with wild abandon … desserts, balloons & presents & surprises for days. Now that the girls are all grown up (how did THAT happen?), we continue these birthday traditions (albeit somewhat muted) to the bewilderment of our menfolk, who were brought up much more sensibly and really only want maybe a simple acknowledgement & a slice of chocolate cake. This love of birthdays mean that my daughters & I start planning early (despite the recent crisis that I shall call The  Year I Let My Husband John Pitts Forget My Birthday*) to make sure everybody’s on board & there are no scheduling conflicts.

The third thing to remember is that Older Daughter, wife to our Sept. 10 son-in-law & mom to the three most adorable, funny, smart, creative & kind young men–our grandsons, ages 9, 5 and almost 3–is an organizational beast. She runs her household with precision. The exterior of her refrigerator door resembles a NASA control room. She is in charge of who is supposed to be where at what time. When she says “Soccer practice is at 6 & then PTO at 7 & I’ve got dance class at 7:30,” we all nod & agree & synchronize our watches.

So, a couple of months ago, when Older Daughter glanced at her calendar and said to me, “You know that Jason’s birthday is next Thursday,” I immediately went into birthday mode, briefly thinking “Wow, is Sept. 10 already coming up? That sure was fast,” before joining her in a discussion of cake flavors & gift cards. After all, school was starting & vacations were ending & we were recovering from the afore-mentioned Year I Let My Husband John Pitts Forget My Birthday*, so it didn’t surprise me that somehow we had rushed through August & were now into September without anybody really noticing. During the next few days, I alerted other family members (“Don’t forget that Jason’s birthday is Thursday”), shopped for presents & helped Older Daughter organize a birthday timeline.

It’s at this point in the story that I have to pause & seriously question my life choices. I mean, during all of this early-September birthday planning, I was operating in the real world. I went to work, I met friends, I read the news. I used my laptop, desktop, tablet & smart phone daily. I knew who the president was, I knew a total solar eclipse was coming, I knew that “Broadchurch 3” was wrapping up.

Apparently, though, I didn’t know that it actually was August and NOT September.  The upcoming 10th was Aug. 10. Not Sept. 10. It was as if I was in two parallel universes, one in which everybody agreed it was August & then one in which everybody believed it was September. But maybe somehow I sort of knew? When Older Daughter finally told me that somehow she had time-traveled our entire family a month into the future & that her husband’s birthday was not in two days but in fact was in 32 days, I wasn’t that surprised. It was if I’d finally cleaned off my glasses & realized that the fuzzy spot I’d been seeing was not, as I’d feared, a supernatural presence that kept hovering at my left side but in actuality a fingerprint from the almost-3-year-old grandson.

Clarity is everything.

And how did this story turn out? Well, given all of the prep work, we went ahead & celebrated Jason’s birthday on Aug. 10, resulting in only slight family confusion. (“Kacky,” said the 5-year-old, “it’s Daddy’s birthday but it’s not really because Mommy messed up.”) Older Daughter claims it was an issue of stuck-together calendar pages. I now know I’m extremely susceptible to believing things that are demonstrably untrue. And Jason gets two birthday cakes this year.

And Older Daughter once again has proven the strength & power of an organized mom. There’s nothing like it.

*  I’m still not sure how “The Year I Let My Husband John Pitts Forget My Birthday” happened. Although I usually let him know my birthday is approaching by dropping subtle hints such as “We might have to take the garbage can out to the curb early on Wednesday because THAT’S MY BIRTHDAY,” I got distracted this year. We were out of town & then stuff happened & more stuff happened & suddenly the window of reminding him ahead of time had closed & it was more a matter of damage control. To be fair, he did say that he knew my birthday was Aug. 2 & he knew that Aug. 2 was coming up & he knew that Wednesday was Aug. 2–he just didn’t realize that the Aug. 2 coming on Wednesday was, in fact, the same Aug. 2 that was my birthday. I forgave him–after flowers & chocolate & a nice dinner out.

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Good things — Mississippi football & grandbabies

coversOh my goodness. I don’t know about you, but things have been CRAAAZY around here lately. For one, my husband right now is the most important person in the state of Mississippi. Well, one of the most important. Well, OK, an important person. (And, of course, to me he always is the most important person everywhere. This commercial message brought to you by the institution of marriage and soulmate-age.) Why is this, you ask? What has 10624932_10203004590851939_4174530144616862315_nhe done to bring such fame and fortune? Of course, those who know John L. Pitts are not surprised to discover the extent of his influence, but lately he holds in his hands, literally, the story that is shaking up everything IMG_4031anyone knows about football: namely, that the two teams his newspaper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, in Tupelo, covers — Mississippi State and Ole Miss — are in the top 10 in the AP poll. And, as of right now this very minute, they are no. 1 and no. 3 respectively. Pretty amazing. And now there’s Heisman talk? All I know is that for the past few weeks, my sports editor husband has been working pretty much 24/7 to cover this national story for his local readers — not easy. But, as always, he’s excelling. Of course, this could explain his recent encounter with a deer, on cara heavily traveled road less than a mile from our downtown. I really don’t like to think too hard about this. And what’s even stranger is that my Republican-voting, NRA-supporting, Obama-criticizing husband went and bought a new car that’s synonymous with all he makes fun of: a Prius. It’s the mileage, you know. And the anti-deer capabilities.

Grandson no. 3!Well, those are not even the most exciting things to happen to our family lately. Our third precious grandbaby-boy got born last weekend. Older Daughter and son-in-law did an amazing job of completely un-medicated childbirth in a hospital suite dedicated to a natural and drug-free experience. She is a warrior mom, through and through. I did un-medicated by accident with Younger Daughter (Me: “I really think that we need to go to the hospital now.” Husband-at-the-time: “No. You can’t be that close to pushing yet.” Folks at the hospital as soon as we got there: “Get this woman to delivery stat!!!”), and there’s something to be said for it — now that I’m 28 years away and have pretty much forgotten the details. And speaking of totally awesome Younger Daughter, she now shares her birthday with her third nephew, which is the second shared birthday in our family. I think we’re on a roll.

Happy Birthday!

Older Daughter cooperated nicely for the camera, but Grandson Nolan was dealing with an itchy nose and couldn't concentrate on smiling after his recent very cool haircut. That's okay, though. Happy 4th Birthday, Captain Adorable! I know you're way too big for that cute baby name anymore. After all, you can dress yourself, draw a train, dig for worms, caution Mommy about getting lost while driving and help me -- Grandma Kacky -- get past those peskily tough Angry Birds levels. (Thanks for unleashing the Bird Bomb, by the way. Nicely done.) You truly are a big boy, as you tell us emphatically. But to everybody who held you on that cool spring day four years ago, you're still adorable. And you always will be.

Happy Birthday!

Aw, today is my birthday. Whoo-hoo! Fifty-three years ago at about 4 p.m. my dad finally convinced my mom to go to the hospital and a couple of hours later, there I was. They were laughing about that today. “I didn’t want to go too early and have to lie there for hours,” my mom said, shaking her head and smiling. “I just told her to stop being stubborn and that we were going to go to the hospital,” my dad said, chuckling. Realizing for the first time how close I’d come to being born in a car or sidewalk or hospital hallway, I was the only one in the room not really amused by this story. But that’s OK. They then went on to the fun parts about how they set up the baby bed and brought me home to their one-room — not one-bedroom, but one-room — apartment and how my dad picked wildflowers in their backyard for my mom’s coming-home bouquet. Now, that’s a story. I also had a birthday party at Older Daughter’s house, and 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable generously shared the Elmo tablecloth, plates and napkins left over from his birthday party. We had the perfect birthday lunch: Nothing But Noodles takeout, beer, cute little cupcakes and chocolate and peanut-butter ice cream. Plus, the Captain gave me hugs and kisses and told me “Happy birthday cake,” because to him, “cake” naturally comes after “birthday.” I like the way he thinks.

Family

Ponderosa Tree Farm AntiquesHappy 75th birthday to my mom, Susan Wood, of Antiques Manchester, Tennessee, today! She is practically the most awesome person I know, and my goal is to grow up to be just like her. And since she hates having her picture taken, I’ve done the next best thing and put pictures here of just one of her claims to fame: her antique shop, Ponderosa Tree Farm Antiques. She is known far and wide as an antiques and auction expert and she’s gathered some of the results Tennessee antiquesof her sharp eyes and buying skills here in her antiques shop. She also has three booths at an antiques mall, but my favorite is her shop. I love wandering through and discovering new finds she’s rescued from folks Manchester, Tennesseewho don’t appreciate the value of a vintage flour-sack apron or a chunky retro beaded bracelet. She’s got dishes, books, kitchen ware, dolls, toys, clothes, linens and almost any other thing you might want to collect. And, listen, she does all this herself — and with help from my dad. She loads and totes and prices and organizes and cleans and presses — it’s exhausting just to think about, but she loves it. I cannot keep up with her. In fact, I can’t keep up with either of my parents — they pretty much put me to shame. Read more in my weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20091030/ARTICLES/910305000, and have a happy birthday, Mom! Love you!!!

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday!Sunday was Younger Daughter’s 23rd birthday, which is absolutely amazing to me. I mean, how did she get to be 23??? Wasn’t she watching Sesame Street and playing with her My Little Ponies just yesterday? (No, seriously, wasn’t that just yesterday?) Unreal! But what’s truly amazing is the talented, funny, smart and caring young woman she’s turned out to be. I am in awe of the things she’s accomplished and the impact she continues to have on the lives of people lucky enough to know her. In fact, both of my daughters are beautiful inside and out — proof that nature triumphs over nurture! I cringe when I look back and think of all the parenting mistakes I made. Yet, here they are: Two strong and capable women with so much to contribute. That truly is amazing! Younger Daughter is set to graduate from college in December and right now she’s facing those familiar young-adult questions: What do I want to do with my life? What can I do with an English degree? And why-oh-why are there so many bugs in my apartment??? I helped her with the last question — exterminators and bug traps — and I’m confident she’ll get the other ones figured out. After all, she can lead an entire university marching band, successfully battle miserly landlords and deal with rude and obnoxious restaurant customers — all valuable life skills we all envy her for. Happy Birthday plus one, sweetie!

Shopping

You know it’s your birthday when those wonderful “presents” from Anthropologie sewing kityour “friends” at your favorite stores start rolling Anthropologiein. Usually it’s something along the lines of “You’re our special customer and we love you and to help celebrate your birthday, we’re offering you a chance to get 10 percent off your first $200 you spend with us that day.” Uh, thank you? With friends like that … But when Anthropologie sent me something, I perked up. Not that the monetary offer was anything extra enticing, but the packaging was classic Anthro at its best: An adorable handmade-looking cotton “sewing kit” with button and colorful thread and a cute little pouch for needles and what-not. Whoever does Anthropologie’s marketing and customer relations does it perfectly — everything always reflects and enhances the Anthropologie brand and makes me want to overcome my natural frugalness and go ahead and blow my birthday money on a simple $180 cotton sweater. Genius!