by Stefani on 3-December-2008

It would be easy, REAL easy to go and get all sappy. 

I could tell you all about how I hold my new little nephew and fight back the tears because my own newborn babies are long gone… they've given way to these big, sticky, bustling, loud forces to be reckoned with. 

I could wax on about how baby Collin was born just two short days before my youngest's birthday, and how it's made me all nostalgic, remembering what it felt like to have a new life in my arms just after Thanksgiving, as all the Christmas jolly-making was beginning. 

Today, on my baby's birthday, I could mourn over how quickly he and his brothers are growing up, but instead, help me out here folks, instead I'm going to focus on right here, right now, today. 

And today is pretty grand. 

Our Ryder is something else. 

He's the 4 year old version of John Wayne – a straight shootin, swaggerin' son of a gun. 

He tells it like it is. 

He's not shy and not going to take any lip offa no one, no sir. 

He's tough and in charge and he keeps all our cheeks hurting from laughing at the crazy things that come out of his mouth. 

He's a lover – rubbing my cheeks and playing with my hair and saying things like, "You're my girl." and "I'm gonna fall in love with you, girl."

And he's a fighter too. Just you try to tell him that he's too little to do something, and you'll find out real quick that he means business. 

We love him a lot. A lot a lot. 

So today, Ryder's oldest brother, the one who dreams of being a farmer and a chef (all at once), the same one that has "Easy Bake Oven" at the top of his Christmas list, decided to make a meal, front to back, as a gift for his crazy kid brother. 

He made calzones. 

The Chef @ Work

And he made cheesecake! 

Real cheesecake… real GOOD cheesecake!

Luke also used his own money to buy Ryder his very own fish. (a fact that has resulted in my saying things a person should never have to say, like "please do not put your lips in the fish bowl!")

Ryder's other brother, James, had something special in mind for him too. See, James is forever building elaborate towers and castles. Ryder is forever wanting to karate chop them and revel in the resulting crash. This causes many a rowdy debate. 

But today, James patiently built and rebuilt, again and again, so that Ryder could karate chop and shout "kablooey!" to his heart's content. It was his gift… a whole day of building just for the sake of demolition. 


You know, babies are magic, fantastic and wonderful in every way, but big boys are pretty great in their own right. It is an amazing gift to see that all that love lavished on them as babies has taken root. They are growing into loving men, able to spoil someone they care about in their own uniquely wonderful way. 

It was a good day. 


A very good day indeed. 

Making His Wish

Happy Fourth Birthday Ryder!
Sarah Budd December 3, 2008 at 9:05 pm

that. is. awesome.

i love those gifts.

Cynthia December 3, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Aw, happy birthday Ryder!! What a sweet post, I so enjoyed reading it. 🙂 Such lovely boys you are raising.

Sarah Jackson December 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm

wait! I swear he just turned 3 a couple of months ago. It’s too soon!

Happy birthday little man! Four is a very big deal indeed (and it’s way better than three).

Emme December 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Ooh, this made me remember how much I love having my ONE boy in the midst of 3 girls. Boys are so, so precious! The “you’re my girl” and “I’m gonna fall in love with you, girl” comments almost made me cry (and laugh at the same time). Great post!

DeerDominique December 3, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Wow. What a beautiful post! Ryder is a lucky little gent with such an amazing family.

Jennifer December 3, 2008 at 10:06 pm

You made my day with your post. What a cast of characters you have! Happy Birthday to Ryder. And hugs to mom who is nostalgic for babies. I have been having similar feelings myself lately.

Kate December 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm

The sweetness abounds! I love it!

Happy Birthday Ryder. I hope four is all you dream of.

melissa s. December 3, 2008 at 10:42 pm

ahh so true. all that love just comes right back atcha. happy birthday to your little guy. he sounds like quite the charmer!

patricia December 3, 2008 at 11:18 pm

The second-to-last line of your post is beautifully profound. What more could we want of our boys? That kind of heartfelt gift-giving is the very best kind.

Happy birthday to your little man!

Melanie Corey December 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm


Thanks for sharing your journey. It is very inspiring. What special little ones you have.
Can you please give me some information about how you set up the one day of outside school per week? I believe it would be a good fit for us.
Best to you!

patricia December 3, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Oops, I guess I meant the fourth-to-last line. The one that says, “They are growing into loving men, able to spoil someone they care about in their own uniquely wonderful way.”

I missed the lines below the photos. Guess the cuteness distracted me!

bigbucketgirl December 4, 2008 at 1:05 am

A gift of building…wow! that is special. and the catering…another Wow!

What a great birthday!

Kristy December 4, 2008 at 1:13 am

Happy birthday!
Don’t you just love those sibling gifts?Priceless.

Anonymous December 4, 2008 at 1:51 am

Happy birthday!
The cake looks so yummie.

amanda o December 4, 2008 at 2:58 am

how sweet sweet sweet!

christi December 4, 2008 at 4:09 am

Happy Birthday to you!

that cake sure does look yummy!

Jessica H December 4, 2008 at 5:11 am

This made me smile, I love it when my kids bless each other so selflessly. The moments are always like clear little lights in the midst of the ordinary chaos of life. My son too had a EBO on the top of his list years ago. We snagged one up for him, but he wasn’t quite as impressed as he thought he would be. This made me think of how much I miss the island in our old house. He spent so much time seated on one side of it helping me do different kitchen activities….. oh, crap, now I’m turning sappy. Anyway, Happy Birthday little man and thank you for another happy post.

Our Green Nest December 4, 2008 at 5:14 am

Aaawww, so sweet…love it!

elissa Finger December 4, 2008 at 5:21 am

oh hooray, hooray for four!!!!! i know just how you feel missing babydom and celebrating bigness all at once!!! but growing up is such magic, isn’t it? those sweet boys couldn’t have given such lovely presents if they were babies…. and you would never get the chance to say things like “don’t put your lips in the fishbowl!!!” oh, hooray, hooray, yippee for four! pure magic. all of it.

kristin at prairie daze December 4, 2008 at 5:27 am

happy birth day to you all.

and happy aunthood to you too : )

Kelly December 4, 2008 at 5:29 am

and you made it all happen ~ way to go mama! 🙂

Julie @ Letter9 December 4, 2008 at 5:41 am

happy birthday, ryder. and yes, please: do not put your lips in the fishbowl. that goes double for your brothers.

molly December 4, 2008 at 5:51 am

can I tell you how much I love it that your boys never have their shirts on? it cracks me up every time…especially because my daughter’s prefer to be topless in the warmer months as well. They don’t quite yet understand why girls can’t go shirtless like boys can. 🙂

Happy birthday to that boy! The gifts from the brothers are amazing. You must be a proud momma. I think there’s pregnancy glow and then there’s “proud of my boys glow”. You definitely have that.

Sarah December 4, 2008 at 5:55 am

Hapde Burfday!

heather bruggeman December 4, 2008 at 6:20 am

happy birthday sweet boy. i loved four, it was the first time the big kids let me swing like tarzan on the secret vine near their fort in the woods.

and happy birthday to you too mama. you are so raising them up right down there. xo

Crystal December 4, 2008 at 6:54 am

Yay! Four!

Happy birthday big guy!

Molly Irwin December 4, 2008 at 7:11 am

Oh my, Happy Birthday to Ryder!

I cannot believe the great changes that take place between the 3rd and 4th b-days. Mine is someplace in between right now, still not pronouncing his ‘r’s. They grow so fast.

Lately I’ve been telling them I’m going to put heavy books on their heads to halt this fast growth 😉

Anna December 4, 2008 at 7:18 am

Happy Happy Birthday to Ryder! Such a warm, loving, and oh-so-personal celebration.

christi December 4, 2008 at 7:51 am

What a challenge it is to live today and it’s gifts…not tomorrow or yesterday! Good job!

Diane December 4, 2008 at 7:53 am

Your boys rock.

So do you.

molly December 4, 2008 at 7:54 am

happy birthday ryder! he’s just too cute.

and luke is way beyond an easy bake oven. that boy needs a viking or a wolf for christmas. good job momma raising such a fine lot of boys.

Leslie December 4, 2008 at 8:52 am

oh how i love those sweet little 4 year old boy moments….my little one tells me somtimes, “i pledge my heart to you”…happy birthday to your little guy

brit December 4, 2008 at 9:28 am

four. When did four get so big?

Mindy December 4, 2008 at 10:37 am

That sounds like the best birthday! How sweet that your boys wanted to do something for their baby brother. I hope one day I can experience something similar with my own children.

hanna December 4, 2008 at 12:01 pm


Hannah December 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Aren’t they wonderful, these unprompted and unvarnished displays of sibling affection?

Happy Birthday to your littlest man.

Melissa December 4, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Too cute!

Jennifer Hallissy December 4, 2008 at 8:03 pm

I have a four-year-old man-boy too. I so get the “a lot a lot” of love in your post. My son calls me “Mamagirl” and makes me feel like a real live superhero. Does it get any better?

Brittany December 4, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Yay! We’re going to celebrate my oldest’s 4th birthday next month and I’m so excited! I love age 4. I also love those things you think you would never say. My husband and I talk about that all the time. Today’s phrase we never thought we’d have to say was “Please take your tounge off the table”. So silly and strange but you gotta love it! Happy Birthday Ryder!

Cassandra December 4, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Oh how I love hearing about that love between siblings. You sound like you have a bunch of such fantastic little men. Happy Birthday, Ryder!

Kez December 5, 2008 at 1:13 am

Awww, what a sweet post – happy birthday Ryder!

Mandy December 5, 2008 at 6:59 am

This made me cry. My own baby just turned 6 on Thanksgiving day. How fast they do grow up. What sweet sweet boys.

jennifer December 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

how beautiful! my pregnant self is welling up with tears in expectation of celebrating such times. with a 3 year old boy and another boy on the way in march, i’m just beginning this journey. i am grateful for your inspiring words & your ability to celebrate your boys unique gifts. thanks for sharing.

emily December 5, 2008 at 8:27 pm

oh, your boys. they give me goosebumps every time. happy 4 ryder and mama!

erin December 6, 2008 at 5:54 am

it sounds like ryder had an awesome birthday! your boys are so sweet, stef.

Kez December 7, 2008 at 12:31 am

BTW Stef – I made your bandanna pants today but used normal fabric instead of bandannas lol. Photo on my blog.

Anne December 8, 2008 at 7:52 am

I’m going to come back and read this post when my son turns 4 this year.

Happy Birthday!

Alissa December 9, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Oh my- I have my very own photo of myself, shirtless at my fourth birthday party with that same number 4 sort of candle. Happy birthday Ryder.

Amber January 20, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Thank you for such a sweet post (& congratulations to Ryder!). I have 2 big/little boys and sometimes I think I try to ignore that side of them that is rough & ready & “john wayne” as you so cool-y put it 😉
I am so intent on growing them up to be good human beings that i forget that i need to embrace all of their humanness which includes it all – the magical & wonder-ful as well as the good, the bad, the ugly. Thanks for that big reminder 🙂

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