|Claire, Alexis, Julian (out to lunch in Melbourne)|
|Claire, Alexis, Julian (at Jenolan Caves.) I included this as proof that they don't always smile and look sweet on command. Sometimes they revolt against the papparazzi.|
All of a sudden I find that once again it is May, the time of year when I sit back and think, "Holy Mazoly, you guys are a year older, I think I blinked and missed it AGAIN!" The older you three get, the faster time seems to move - which is in keeping with the pace of your lives but certainly not the speed at which I would like your childhood to go! This year has gone by so quickly that I'm finding it quite difficult to even remember half of the adventures we had, but rest assured they were many and varied. You all learned to ride bikes, you all learned to ski, we endured (and loved doing) the mother of all road trips, and in general our family had one hell of a kick-ass sort of year. Your Dad and I have been raising you exactly in the manner we always said we would - with love, with care, with good intention, with patience and with a sense of humour. You all seem to have survived - no, you've THRIVED - under those conditions, so I think we'll just keep on keeping on, even though some days are more interesting or challenging than others.
You've really surprised me this year, Alexis. My shy, awkward little girl is suddenly trying out for the school musical (with no prodding from me), asking if she can go on endless Girl Guide excursions and camps, volunteering to sing in front of people, telling stories of her day punctuated with giggles and "Wait, wait, I've got to tell you the FUNNIEST bit!" It's as though this year you finally learned you have a voice and how to use it. My all-legs-and-arms coltish little girl has turned into quite the amazing pre-teen, emerging from her shell and announcing to the world, "HERE I AM!" The child who hid behind her teacher's skirt and had to be dragged up on stage has learned that being noticed can be a source of joy. You've finally decided to speak up when the other two try to railroad their talking over yours (which is often), you stand up for what you believe in, and you make it very clear that you are a girl who will not be messed with. There are still times when you would rather NOT do things - and you're terribly clever at avoiding them and kicking up a fabulous fuss about it -but on the whole you have grown this year into the kind of girl we all would like our daughters to grow up to be. Confident, kind, smart and able to do a handstand (and may I say, you're damn good at all of those. Especially the handstands. Yes, I'm jealous.)
|I'm pretty sure I gave them a brother so they had someone to lean on in times of exhaustion.|
|Julian, Alexis and Claire..enduring yet another of my "Seriously, just smile! Once? Please?" moments.|
|Autumn haircuts. They did not get the awesome hair gene from me, sadly...|
This is actually a fabulous collage of photos of you, my boy - because it shows almost all of the things which you love to do! Cook (or more accurately, obsess over food to the point of distraction), play music and sing off key (I forgive you. Dad and I are crappy singers, too,) Scouting (especially the dirty-camping running-around-being-foolish-boys part of it) and just being YOU. The only photo missing from this collection is one of you with a book in your hand - and that, my son, you definitely got from both Dad and I. You have had an absolutely amazing year, Julz. You've really come into your own in terms of your hobbies and interests. Someday you'll appreciate why even though it's not all that fascinating to sit through yet another basketball practice in a freezing gymnasium, I'll do so just because you asked me to. You really CARE about things, and you want me to care, too. So I do. A lot. Because I think you're worth it and I'm really proud of you for having the nerve to say, "Mum, this is important to me." You're still an overly emotional sap - but that's okay. You openly cry at movies with me, and feel real sadness when you get to the end of a really great book - and I think the intensity with which you feel things is a positive trait. To be able to love and be loved as much as you are is a gift - no matter how embarrassing it is when I give you big ol' squishy hugs in front of the rest of your basketball team.
You and I have spent an enormous amount of time together this past year, mostly thanks to our "shufflin'" - twice a week you and I (and the dog) spend half an hour or more walking together in the cold morning light. You're usually in shorts and t-shirt, happily walking along while I've got fifteen layers and a beanie on and I'm just trying to stay warm and not complain. Some days we talk. Others we stay silent. It doesn't really matter - it's the being together part which matters to both of us. I've discovered on those walks that my boy is quite funny, in that wonderfully Australian dry humour sort of way. I've also discovered that you have a lot to say - you just choose your moments well - and you're a great storyteller. There have been a few frustrations this year too - you wouldn't be Julian if there were none - but we are all learning that the Julian we know and love is a complex person. How boring life would be if you did not challenge us once in a while! You, my "sunny son son" - are going to be interesting to watch as you grow older. You are such a hugely intense person, about everything - that it's going to be a challenge to teach you to just relax once in a while. I'm not too worried though, there are countless mornings and countless kilometres to walk side by side with my son during which I can teach you the meaning of life (Although I suspect there may be a few lessons which I'm taught by you as we meander along.)
|Miss Claire all bundled up..|
|The only girl in the world who knew ponchos were cool (before they became cool again.)|
|One of many of self-portrait photos I found on my phone and camera. I especially love the eyebrow action.|
Oh Claire. Claire, Claire, Claire Claire....and if I said that out loud, you would right away reply with, "Oh, Mummy. Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, LOSER." And then you would probably laugh hysterically and give me the biggest hug in the world. Other people just don't understand our whole "you're a loser" joke - which makes it particularly funny when I drop you at ballet and shout out the window, "See ya later, loser!" and you yell back, "Yeah, whatever loser! Love you, loser!" and then all I can see is your little purple-leotarded butt wandering off to class and a trail of open-mouthed mothers who heard that exchange. You're such an interesting person, Claire. A girl of contradictions, in so many different little ways. You've got an awesome command of language - you're a brilliant writer, often have fantastic verbal commentary, and you adore reading...but you only ever want to mow your way through novels well below your skill level or read trashy magazines. You love being social...but will almost always choose to stay at home rather than go out. You're a born and bred Australian ... but you have a distinct American accent (Wasn't me! I didn't do it!) (I blame the Disney Channel.) As a baby and child, you refused to give anyone a hug...and now I've got a sore neck from the amount of hugs you demand all day long. You can sometimes be quite shy ...but you love to take endless self portraits, and you spend a heck of a lot of time on "The Claire Show" in whatever mirror is handy (especially the mirrors on the car visors.)
You, my loser daughter, are a great kid. You did come out of the womb as an 18 year old - but then that's what I love about you. You've always given me a bit of a run for my money - you're smart, you're sassy, you're always right (even when you're wrong.) I adore that about you. Like your siblings, you have some quirks which make you distinctly you...let's not talk about the hurricane which leaves a trail so we all know exactly when you've been somewhere. We also won't talk about the whole being-on-time obsession (but just quietly, I think you love that it makes us all crazy.) Your year has been just one of quiet achievement. You've continued to enjoy school, and enjoy dance, and you've just been a good kiddo this year - Kiki, I hope most of your years are like that. Just keep on being the fabulous person you are...but once in a while, clear the hairs out of the bathroom sink, okay? (It's making your mother crazy.)
|Dressed up for Purim. Oh wait, this is what they normally look like. :)|
Happy Birthday, kiddos.