Happy Birthday #4 to Grandson Kai!

Kai marked 2010 birthday by mowing apartment courtyard.

Fond Memories Replayed

Kai Celebrates Fourth Birthday

Four years ago today grandson Kai entered the world 21 days early wailing at the top of his lungs.

In no time at all, he had charmed not only his immediate and long-distance families but also the hospital's preemie nursing staff and countless "aunties" around the world in the Clay Aiken fandom.

Adept at programming the family's DVR, Kai is reading, counting, and playing games on the Leapster from Grandma Caro. Both he and his sister Lia are learning about the 50 states and countries of the world via the Leap Frog maps lining their walls.

Kai learns while playing with his Leapster.

In his four years, Kai has traveled to North Carolina and to Hawaii, logging more frequent flyer miles than his grandmother. Events from his short life have been shared in various Carolina blogs; and, at times, I think he has his own fan club. All thumbnails in this overview are clickable.

Like most boys, Kai loves anything with wheels; he parks his beloved cars and trucks nightly in a special bookcase in his bedroom. I understand he was awake at 3 a.m. playing with his trucks and is now taking an afternoon nap.

Kai's favorite toy during a month-long visit in Hawaii was a play lawn mower, which made his grandmother's third birthday gift a no-brainer. The lawn mower arrived two days early, and the apartment complex courtyard was promptly sharper.

The smartest thing this long-distance grandmother did in September 2007 was order a good camera for Kai's mother. With the assistance of his artistic aunties -- AmazingCA, Ashes, A Beautiful Mind, Aspiegirl, Sally -- my grandson's first four years have been well-documented throughout the Carolina journal.

In the beginning, an overwhelmed household had no time for photos. Poppy, Kai's grandfather, even sent a roll of pictures to prove it -- dirty dishes in the sink, an unkempt living room, overflowing laundry room.

The stream of pixel-packed photos picked up dramatically once Sally created the "Hurricane Kai" collage of those images.

With a brand new camera and lots of tips from Sally, the new mother became a pretty good photographer, and the graphic artists often enhanced the images as fast as they arrived.

No activity went unnoticed by the artful aunties -- naps, reading a book, holidays, even the initial donning of a Tar Heel jersey sent to Kai by "Auntie" Sandy from Canada. Below are a few you may remember:


Grandson Solves Climbing Hurdle

Our grandson has always loved to climb, and he is constantly seeking paths to the pinnacle of tables, cabinets, sinks, you name it. After the adults leaned the dining room chairs in a manner meant to discourage his "hobby," Kai determined a solution, got down on his hands and knees, straightened an upended chair, and pushed it to the desired location.

Very early in the spring of 2008, the target was the dividing shelf between the kitchen and the dining room. Poppy was still asleep, but Kai knew the phone locator button would blast him wide awake. It did, and another adventurous day was soon underway.

After that, the dining room chairs were flipped upside down when not in use.

Kai Charms Carolina Clan

In May 2008, Kai and his mother flew to North Carolina where he met a whole different set of relatives. Arriving just after the rush of spring recital time, he and his grandmother had a blast getting to know each other, routinely watching kiddie programs like "Mickey Mouse" on TV and penning the Carolina blog together.

During the month-long visit, Kai learned to crawl, pull himself up to a standing position, and was beginning to talk before flying home with his mother.

Some of his favorite times were spent playing with twin cousins five years his elder. He loved swinging, going to the their t-ball games, and splashing in the pool while the they took swimming lessons. The lush, green grass and tall trees of this state fascinated him.

On 5/25/08, Kai "blogged" about meeting the Carolina relatives in Kai Joins Clay Aiken Fan Club, sharing some of his daily rituals: pulling out a few books from the bottom shelf of a music cabinet as he crawled by every morning; beating out a rhythm on the washing machine and dryer before entering the den and watching a full lineup of kiddie shows with his NC grandmother.

Not a day went by that we didn't check to see if the "Monkey Mail" had come. The grand piano was another favorite in his daily routine. At all times, Kai schemed for access to the keys and buttons on my laptop, telephone, and remote control

Back home three months later, Kai celebrated his first birthday; and, again, his artful "aunties" had a field day with the photos.

Kai 'Helps' Mom in Kitchen

With the 5/13/09 birth of baby sister Lia, Kai spent many hours hanging with his grandfather. A favorite haunt became the hardware store where he delighted in spinning wheels incessantly.

His propensity for buttons, snaps, openings and closures of all varieties continued; and Kai also enjoyed "helping" his mother in the kitchen. She created a cabinet shelf for him to routinely rearrange and eventually turned over the dishwasher to him, too.

Drums Add Beat to Birthday #2

Kai celebrated his second birthday with an impromptu jam session on Poppy's drum equipment, normally kept under lock and key.

Curious, clever, and extremely mobile, Kai knew his grandfather's bedroom was filled with a wonderful array of electronic treasures and percussion instruments.

Poppy, who had left the apartment early to visit his mother, called home the instant he remembered he had forgotten to lock the door.

Too late! Cagey Kai had already made his move and was scampering out of the bedroom with a pair of drumsticks under one arm and a practice pad under the other.

He set up his "drum" on a marble table and alternated between practicing and watching TV. Thankfully, his mother grabbed her camera for a video that the Carolina clan has thoroughly enjoyed.

Additional photos and videos are stored in his mother's Mata808 Photobucket account.

First Lap in the Barber Chair

A first barbershop haircut was a major milestone for two-year-old Kai. Below are clickable memories of his maiden voyage in the barber chair.

Besides the all-important lollipop, Kai was anxious to learn just
how the clippers worked. That settled, it was back to his sucker.

Next time ... maybe a
shave and a lollipop!

A Fun Day in the Park

With little sister Lia and Poppy taking an afternoon snooze, Kai and his mother slipped away for some sliding and swinging in a nearby park. Fortunately, Mom took along her camera, too.

PARK FUN -- Anyone knows you can't steer without proper sound effects.

SOUND CHECK - Kai investigates slide's nooks and crannies.

LONG WAY DOWN - Even a dare devil scopes out his slide
before diving into a maiden voyage.

SWINGIN' FUN -- Kai tried out several swing positions that afternoon.

Grandma's on the Radar

Being a long-distance grandmother can be difficult at times; but there are some high moments, too. In 2010, Kai and I began conversing via telephone. Since his sister copies everything he does, Lia is bound to be next.

Once he gets started, my grandson delights in providing a running commentary of all that's happening ("The dogs are getting ready to go out ... Lia is taking a nap"), as well as walking around the room pointing out items ("This is our TV; here's Lia's high chair; and this is my dump truck full of Cheerios") which the person on the other end of the line can only imagine.

"Grandmother" has become the voice on the phone so much so that when his mother was talking with a friend in Hawaii, Kai yelled from across the room, "Hello, Grandma!"

I look forward to the time when "across the room" is literally just that.

LOTS OF WATER: Kai and Lia enjoy beach in Hawaii.

Family Spends Month in Hawaii

Having lived and worked in Hawaii for five years, my daughter has many wonderful friends there; and in August 2010, she and the children flew 12,000+ miles round trip for a visit.

Kai and Lia experienced many "firsts," with visits to an aquarium, a zoo, and a natural history display, as well as seeing more water than ever in their short lives. They loved the exotic fruit and cool lagoons of the islands.

BIRTHDAY PARTY ON WHEELS: With Mom's special van decorations,
Kai and sister Lia have celebrated 9/17 all over town. (Clickable)

Here's to a very special fourth birthday, grandson!

Grandma Caro

Voting information for I AM NORM/National Inclusion Project is located in the 9/15 Carolina blog.

Happy Weekend, Clay Nation!



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