Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss Him. He's 6.

I think it's funny that Calvin will probably always wear green on his birthday. (At least from the ages of 5 to 11 and then again around 32, when he has kids of his own.)

He's my Irish-Korean-American-Jabber-Jaws.

He melts my heart faster'n a stick of butter on a windowsill.

We surprised him with dinner out at Red Lobster, on account of his recently discovered, deep and abiding love for shrimp.

It all started about a year ago, with these. Shrimp snacks.

Think shrimp flavored Cheetos.

(Though wouldn't we all rather not think shrimp flavored Cheetos?)

In an endearing display of brotherly love, Calvin was introduced to Shrimp Snacks via his brand new brother, fresh off a plane with nothing but empty bottles and 2 bags of Shrimp Snacks.

Oh, they smell so bad.

Suffice it to say, Calvin was pumped for his own plateful of shrimp.

Exhibit A: The Before Shot

Exhibit Be: The After

Homeboy really packed away some shrimp, along with half of Daddy's plate of assorted fried sea delicacies.

(Incidentally, this is what he looked like when he was in full-blown ALPS mode, with a spleen 3 times its normal size.)

I gotta tell you, I'll be fine if I don't dine at RL for a long, long while.

It was greasy and expensive.

And Cory kept chatting up the locals. (He worked there 15 years ago and several of his old co-workers still! work there.)

But again, and again, ad nauseum, it wasn't about me. Our birthday boy slurped up the grease like it was his job in life.

It's such a gift, living life with these amazing small people.

All day long I found myself thinking of his birth Mama, a world away. We talked about her tonight at bedtime and I knew I was treading on thin ice, bringing up such a potentially emotional topic with the lights already turned out, just two ticks away from a dream. But it's not my place to sweep this sort of thing under the rug then dig it back out at a more convenient time.

This is his story, and I want him to know it deep in his heart.

My eyeballs throbbed while we talked about how pretty she must be and how she is definitely thinking of him today. He was surprised that she would know that this was his birthday. This is why we talk about these things. We told him that she would never forget his birthday, that she probably thinks about him every day. We told him how lucky he is to have so many people in the world who love him so much.

I cranked up my will as loud as it would go and prayed that it echoed all the way over to his Own Special Habitat. Look at our boy! He's so happy. So loved. He's the most amazing six year old in the entire Universe, and you gave him that life. Be proud of him, Mama. Know that he's well and smart, with a kind heart and an intuitive soul. Know that he loves Jesus. Know that he loves you.

Calvin Lee drifted off to sleep in new Star Wars Lego pjs with a belly full of shrimp, a smile on his 6-year-old face and a heart topped off with the kind of love that never goes away.

I'm calling this birthday a success.


  1. Oh - verklempt! You have such a good heart. Happy 6th birthday to your Irish-Korean-American-green-wearing-shrimp-eating-loved boy!

  2. Happy Greenish Shrimplovin' Birthday Calvin! You are super duper cute. Sweet dreams kiddo!

  3. Sweet success indeed, what a wonderful story - hope you know you I've shed a few tears envisioning what went on in your home tonight. Calvin is indeed a lucky boy loved all over the world!

    Wonder what it is about seafood this week? Little JImmy got a hankering for some hot, hot fish (???) and just had to have some. He demanded it at every meal till I caved in yesterday and took him to the fish counter. I told him he could pick any fish he wanted - of course he chose the ridiculously expensive swordfish - I had the guy wrap up salmon instead ... he'll never know the difference.

  4. happy birthday!! what an adorable boy!!
    (ew, red lobster:) bless your heart)
    very moved and encouraged by your bedtime chat-my guy is only two, i see us having the same conversation when he is a bit older(and talking).
    thanks for sharing your joy!
    I'm learning from you, friend!!

  5. Shannybo...remember when I first started commenting here - I think the Calvinator was fourish - and I asked you to please stop it - to stop posting this stuff, that my heart couldn't take it? Why you no listen to me. I'm dying. I want to see Calvin in his pajamas, and hear his sweet little voice, and talk to him about neurons and chemical free crop dusting. Why must you torture me so? Why Shanny? But this post isn't all about heartache my friend - oh no - it's not. The Shrimp Sticks will now aid my weight loss efforts. Everytime I think of eating something I shouldn't - I shall think of the Stinky Shrimp Stick - and I'll be just fine.

  6. Okay, so I'm watching this show that's new to me - Coming Home - about soldiers surprising their families when they come home from service abroad, and I'm already teary eyed and now I read the sweetest birthday tribute - ever! So how's a girl supposed to keep a dry eye???

    Shannan, that was just too sweet for words! Becky

  7. oh shannon... such a sweet story! i loved it all, including the two posts you linked to, and your message to his birth mother... and your descriptions of yourself... mustering up your will and your eyeballs, and on the other posts, your heart. so... raw. thank you for sharing.
    love 2 u.
    happy birthday to calvin.

  8. Why when I see pictures of Calvin, do I think of "It's A Wonderful Life" when Clarence is in heaven seeing George Bailey's life and seeing Jimmy Stewart(the grown up George) for the first time and says "I like that face, it's a good face...!" I think it everytime I see Calvin, is that weird?!! You made me laugh about Cory chatting up the staff. It would depend on what mood I was in. If it was - I love my husband mood - I would find it endearing and charming. If I was in a - You are bugging the crap out of me mood - not so charming! Happy Happy Birthday to Calvin.

  9. What a precious part of his story to have written down here. Your kids are so beyond lucky (not that I believe in luck but, well, you know what I mean) to have you as their mama.
    My middle boy, who also just turned 6, has recently discovered a love for shrimp too. What's up with that?!?
    Happy Birthday Calvin!

  10. Ya done gone and made me cry. What am I supposed to say so cleaver after that? I haven't the least of ideas.

    This I know:

    1. You are a brave woman, and you wear it so beautifully.

    2. Riley is getting those same pj's for his birthday. I know that, because I bought them from the Walmart and tucked them away last week.

    3. Shrimp snacks may have made me gag. Only because Nadiyia brought me some fish jerky from Ukraine last year and I imagine the smell is the same. Gag me with a spoon, please.

    3. Happy Birthday Calvin. 6 is the nest age ever. I want it back.

  11. Happy, Happy Birthday Calvin!

    Love the links to past posts and pictures of little Calvin and little Ruby---so cool to see how they have grown and changed into the great kids they are today.

  12. what a sweet birthday boy :)
    and good for you, mama, for not sweeping his story under the rug :) i'm sure it's not always easy to do.

  13. This was a lump-in-your-throat type of post!! So incredibly sweet and amazing how you are instilling in him so much of his heritage and history- all the while letting him know that he is so loved. Happy Birthday to Calvin!!

  14. How awesome is that? Happy Birthday to your greatly loved and endearing lil man! It brought a smile to my face. Happy birthday to your amazing Green loving, shrimp eating cutie!!!!

  15. Sweet boy! Gotta love a little boy that loves sea food. Love the birthday sign too!!

  16. Birthdays at the Flower Patch makes my eyes water. Your a wonderful mama through and through. Sacrifice of pocketbook, taste, and most important your heart, all for the lil man you love and adore. Birthday Wishes Calvin, your smile is the cutest in all of blogland.

  17. k, those before/after photos seriously cracked. me. up!! - had to have the hubby take a peek too! happy birthday to Calvin.

    you're a great mama to weave his story so tight in his heart.


  18. Oh so precious mama!

    I can relate to the shrimp cheetos- my niece used to eat baked baby sardines! Oh my how her breath would smell after, bleck!

  19. giosmama26@yahoo.comMarch 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Happy Birthday little man!

    You're a one of a kind mama. Your heart is truly something special. You did a wonderful thing tonight by talking about his birth mom. You're truly a gift in this world of ours.

  20. it's hard to breathe, for all the tenderness.

    happy sixth, c.

    ps not to break the mood or anything, but i deeply hope that he is wearing a sweatband on his wrist for the shrimp-fest because if so he has officially stolen my heart and ran off to cancun with it.

  21. You're beautiful even right in the very center of your great-big, Jesus heart. Your leprechaun is blessed beyond belief to have you. Oh, and check this out: the last three youth pastors at my former church are leprechauns, too. Isn't that odd? Like 03/17 is a job requirement, huh? Blessings to you and your beautiful boy and everyone you both love and touch.

  22. I am so in love with Calvin Lee. I'd like him to come eat shrimp with Ethan when we come to Chicago in May. :) Ethan also loves shrimp.

    Your view of your family makes me want to go squeeze mine tighter. Sometimes I forget how very much a gift they are.

    Happy Birthday, little boy!

  23. Happy Birthday!! IT sounds like a wonderful birthday. What could be better to a six year old...a full belly, Mama love and new PJ's!! Awesome :)

  24. well, i don't know 'bout those shrimp snacks but i'm sure that calvin had a great birthday and has so many people that truly love him!!!

    God bless~

  25. How fortunate your children are to have you and their daddy. I know you feel even more fortunate to have them in your lives. I've visited your site a few times {new here}, and have tears in my eyes {good ones} every time I leave:)
    God Bless and a big Happy Birthday to your little man:)

  26. God Bless you and your li'l sweeties! Happy Birthday to Calvin!

    : )

    Julie M.

  27. Heavens to Betsy, Farmgirl. I'm about to pop from all the sweetness goin on tonight. I remember one of my very first visits here you had a post warning Jayme not to read any further - I think it must have been when Calvin sang in church? He is pretty darn adorable, that's for sure. Happy Birthday to your future Coastie.

  28. What an amazingly perfect birthday for him. Your description of the bedside conversation filled my heart......I love the before and after picture of that belly! ;) Thanks for sharing your love....and your's a beautiful testament for all of us to hear. And you are much appreciated ;)

  29. I just love you so... and your amazing way with words!

    You are right. Calvin's birth mother will never forget March 17th as long as you all shall live :o)

    Happy Birthday little friend! SIX is a totally big deal!

  30. How blessed is that wee guy! And yes, how blessed you big guys are too.

    Happy Birthday, Calvin.

  31. happy birthday to that precious little person!

    i am a kindred spirit with him and his shrimp.

  32. I love how much I'm learning through you! Great job, Calvin's mom!

    BTW, I'm so with you on RL.

  33. A seriously sweet post.

    A little tear dropping and very sweet.

    Your one good mama;)

  34. success indeed
    in many more ways than one!
    have a wonderful week of continuing celebration of that sweet shrimp loving baby boy

  35. ~What a wonderful post

    ~you bought tears to my eyes with your prayer.

    ~What a special boy with a special family


  36. A momma's love is a beautiful, tear-inducing thing. Happy birthday, Calvin!

  37. Happy birthday Calvin! Fantastic post!

  38. pinchy winchy on those cheeky weekies! i would love to lay a glob of mush on him. he is the cutest and the happiest of birthdays to him. he has the very best parents and u should be proud of yourself. i am so glad u r teaching him about J-E-S-U-S.

  39. sweet girl. this is the most beautiful story and i love how you explain his birth mom to him. i love your words and wisdom here. you have so many gifts.

    happy birthday to calvin. what an amazing boy!

  40. oh happy birthday sweet boy. looks wonderful. i have fond memories of a giant lobster hat sitting on my sixteen year old head...and a whole table of drunk men singing happy birthday to me. red lobster = good times.

  41. You guys are such great parents-sacrificing your own gastrointestinal health for the joy of your son. Hats off to that! And in your "before" shot, Calvin really looks like a real in, not a sweet little halfway-still-a-baby, but a real elementary schooler. Could be the watch/wristband combo that's getting me, but still. Big stuff!

  42. Well done Mama. And, having lived in China I can attest that those things STINK!!!!!!!!!! Ugh. ;) But what a cutie pie.

  43. darn it, you made me tear up....again!
    I'm happy your little man had a lovely birthday!

  44. We are So fortunate that you share these moments with us. You are SO fortunate that you recognize how special those little ones are...SO special. :)

  45. So stinkin' cute! I love his happy shrimp smiles:)

  46. I too was praying for his birth Mama many many miles away. Asking God to let her know "He is doing great, and he is amazing in every way." I am looking forward to seeing her in heaven someday and giving her a big hug and thank-you.

  47. Your Mama stories make my heart heart (in a happy way). You've gotta be the best Mom ever.

  48. How could I have never met you before? You are a wonderful, wonderful mother. We talk about Kaishon's birth mother in our house all the time too. And we have a picture of her. We talk about it because it is real. She is his mother. So many people don't talk about that stuff. It is vital.

    I love your blog. I love your family. I love your heart.
    I do not love imagining shrimp puffs ; )

  49. You bring happy tears to my eyes! He is a very lucky boy to be so loved and well taken care of. His Birthday was made so special in so many big and small ways. A success indeed! :)

  50. Happy Birthday, Calvin. My sweet not-so-little-anymore 22-year-old Korean born son loved Red Lobster, too, when he was little. Only he called it "Red Crabster". We will always and forever refer to it that way.

  51. oh, this makes me want to cry. i hope with all my heart that his birth mother does know all of this. what a gift! and the things we do for our children...greasy, expensive meals ...and.... shrimp puffs? eeeek : )

  52. What a great mommy you are to Calvin.

    I think it's amazing and so important that you talk with him openly about his birth mommy and how so many people in the world love him, even when it's hard and uncomfortable.

    This post made me laugh and almost cry...

    I'm also not a huge fan of RL but am happy that Calvin got a fix o' shrimp..

    Happy Bday Calvin!!

  53. Happy birthday to your Calvin!
    In Holland we give the mom flowers on her childs birthday. So imagine right now that I am giving you a bunch.

  54. Happy Birthday to your Calvin!
    In Holland we give the Mom flowers on her childs birthday. Imagine I am giving you a bunch right now.

  55. This was a beautiful post, your love for him is so evident, so powerful, and just makes my own mama heart ache. I love the before and after pictures. His full belly is so darn cute! A very happy sixth birthday to Calvin, and you. You have been with him almost from the beginning, and this day is a celebration for you and your sweet hubby's excellent parenting!!!

  56. Yes. Definitely a success. And beautiful, too. Stunningly, achingly beautiful!

  57. Wonderful!!
    Happy happy Birthday Calvin!!
    Such a sweet and fun post!



  58. Oh Shannan this is so important to talk to him like this. It made me cry and wish just a little that you had been my mother. I trully believe that God knows what he's doing.

  59. Happy Birthday to your little man. Happy life to all of you. Blessed indeed!

  60. Oh my gosh he's SIX?! So grown up. Shrimp cheetos sound aweflu. and by that my fingers mean "awful" but I left it because it seemed like an appropriate made up word.

    I don't like Red Lobster.

    But? I do like birthdays, and I have a bad feeling that one day my love for children is going to land me at a birthday party at Chucky Cheese. My son calls it Chunky Cheese and I don't correct him.

    He is so blessed to have you. I love your love story with this little guy.

  61. Ah... my favourite prawn crackers...

    I like this boy already.

  62. oh so precious. but that "after" picture is killing me! what is it with boys and the grease??? mine love the Chinese buffet specifically for all the seafood. I don't think they eat one "Chinese" dish - just fruit, jello and SEAFOOD!

  63. I know this is so NOT the point of the post (which was lovely by the way!), but can you tell me where you found Star Wars Lego son turns 6 in May and would LOVE them!


  64. Well, I'm just getting caught up on some blog reading (fun Saturday night, huh?!) and I just HAD to stop and say what a wonderful, beautiful, fun, funny mama you are. I even had to read your part about the shrimp-flavored Cheetoes out loud to my husband because it made me laugh.

    Oh, how I wish I had met you at Blissdom. :(

  65. Happy birthday gorgeous Calvin. You are exactly one month younger than my Lucia.
    I hope you always wear green on your birthday. It's the best colour. Well, it's my fave colour anyway and I'm not even Irish.
    You always make me smile, special boy. Know that you are loved by people who you don't even know, all around the world, but none more than your Mum and Dad.

  66. Happy Birthday Calvin! (March birthdays rock)

    FPFG, you've gotten that pesky dust stuck in my eyes again. Sniff sniff.

  67. You are an amazing person & mom! What a great story. Happy Birthday Calvin...

  68. I've tried the shrimp fries. They arent so good. Apparantly Asian countries like everything to taste like fish or shrimp. In Malaysia, the kids loved these little shriveled up dried shrimp that came in a chip bag. They were crunchy, I gagged.

    But, I am so thrilled that Calvin loves them. Happy Birthday to him!!