Look at my great little brother!
|Cracking up our parents on Sunday.|
|Rocking a suit after church.|
|Being loved on by Dallas a million years ago.|
|Having a goatee at Dallas's birthday party in September.|
|Wearing a helmet and having a real discussion with Dad.|
|Celebrating Mom's birthday.|
|Carefully not actually touching me while we sidehugged for pictures.|
|Hating pictures, Christmas, and his sisters. Okay, he really just doesn't like pictures.|
Levi is 22!
Last year, Levi and my parents were spending Christmas together (with Mo, of course) in Leah's apartment while my sisters and I had Christmases with our in-laws and Leah spent her Christmas break with her family in Indiana. Technically, no one was alone but it was just strange.
Nashville was a nice meeting place for our Arkansan parents to spend some time with our brother, who was in North Carolina for work. I called him the morning of his birthday, we chatted briefly, and then I went to bed, pulled the covers over myself, and cried for about half an hour (Cody would probably say longer). We'd celebrated our family's Christmas (and the family birthdays) the weekend of my birthday, so he already had a present and a card from me, but I hated being so far away from him.
This year, we're having dinner together. I'll give him his card in person. I saw him yesterday and the day before. And the weekend before. And a whole bunch of times since he moved back home this summer.
We found out in July that he was moving back for a job.
Then the job fell through.
Then I was talking to him in mid-July and told him I didn't even know or care why he was coming back but he just needed to haul rear back to our great state.
I didn't tell him it was because I was pregnant, because I wasn't telling people yet, but I was sosososo very happy that I would not be having a baby while he lived in another time zone because that just felt wrong. Of all the things that stressed me out when I found out I was pregnant, the fact that my brother wouldn't be seeing my baby on a regular basis was pretty high on the list. It felt like something that would be a huge loss for all parties involved.
By the time we told our families we were having a baby, in mid-August, Levi was here and working with Sara's husband and living with our parents. Mom had gotten some manual labor done. Dad had a car buddy. Dallas had someone who would play video games and help him with his golf swing. And my sisters and I had our brother back. It's not like he was bouncing into our rooms every night and telling us all about his day any more (thank goodness, because I have an earlier bedtime than I used to and that guy can talk) but we were celebrating birthdays and seeing him when we visited our parents for dinner and just.... having him around. And it was great.
Since he's been back, he's worked on people's cars, he's been present for Sara's/Dallas's/Mom's/mine/Chad's birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And Mom and Dad's anniversary. And some dinners. And a few other special events. And we have been having a blast.
One of my family's many running jokes is to say that we're having a blast. It used to be Levi's go-to term to describe something that was the absolute best experience he could have. Golfing, going to farm shows, playing with friends, a trip to Mars, his birthday party (the one with a bonfire and a weenie roast), and adding to his Thomas the Train set would all be summed up with "It was a blast! We had a blast!" while he ran around all excited. He was a very enthusiastic little kid, and he's still a very enthusiastic person. I love watching him get all worked up over things like getting a good deal on a laptop, finding the baby onesies, playing soldiers with Dallas, driving Dad's truck, picking out presents, searching for the safest car seat in the world, Weezer albums, or just having a really good day.
The past 6 months have been a blast. An absolute blast.
I should probably also mention that the past 22 years have been pretty good as well.
We're about to be without Levi for a month so he can do some filling in work at his old job in North Carolina and do impressive stuff like this:
(If you squint and watch closely, you'll find him! He's the skinniest guy.)
He's also going to make some overtime money, grow out his facial hair until he looks like Wolverine, and build a portfolio to showcase his sweet car-wrapping skills in case anyone in central Arkansas is interested.
(Trust me, you're interested. He's a talented guy.)
He will also miss my baby shower that Sara and Laine are hosting, and probably tons of other awesome things.
But then he'll come back in time to be an uncle and Mom will probably try to make him shave and he'll look for different jobs and fix the wrap job on the church's van and we will be so thrilled to see him.
And, yes, of course we'll have a blast.
Happy birthday, Levi! I hope you're having a really great birthday and I can't wait to party with you tonight!