It's my baby's birthday today.

No, not Knox. That was last month. The still-dreaded double duty day. Knox turned ten on the eighth anniversary of his brother's Skjel's death. I didn't write about it. It was the first birthday of Knox's that my husband was home to celebrate.

It was also the very first time my husband has ever been home on the death anniversary.

I was relieved to have the emotional support this year until I realized his presence actually destabilized my control and sent me reeling back into a pit of grief. It didn't help that he convinced me to leave the house and go shopping for light fixtures for the Zeppelin Hangar. Every time a salesman would approach us my husband would start shaking his head violently at the sales person and beg them to go away with the power of his eyes. The sales person would look confused and then innocently ask how I was doing and if there was anything they could help us with.

At that point I would burst into tears, snot into a tissue so used it was starting to disintegrate and mumble something about needing a cake and pot lights. 

It wasn't our most productive shopping excursion ever and there are now five lighting stores I can never show my face in again. In the end, there never was a cake but there were smiles. Big tear stained smiles.

One day I'll be able to manage my son's birthday on my other's son's death day, no matter who is home or where I am. I'm sure of it.

Happy tenth birthday kid. Your peoples love you.

It's not Nash's birthday either. His was a week before his brother's. He turned 16. There was no cake for his birthday either. There was a volleyball game that evening and I made the poor boy keep score for his sister's team. Don't look at me like that. Have you seen how short the spandex bottoms are in girls' high school volleyball? I did Nash a favour. It may have been his best present yet.

I also gave him a car. Happy 16th son. Your peoples love you too.

There was a cake for Ken's 17th birthday, which happened three days after I wrote about Knox's hearing aide mysteriously disappearing. (No. His hearing aide was never found. Yes, it's been replaced. All hail name redacted insurance company.) Apparently I was too annoyed with losing my son's ear to write about my other kid's birthday but not annoyed enough to not throw a party for her and a dozen other teenagers.

May you never be too cool for dorky hats on your birthday, kid. Your peoples love you.

Today is Abbott's birthday. His first birthday. And like his human brothers, there will be no cake for him either. There may be a raw steak in his future but I draw the line at sticking a candle in it. Maybe. Hmmm. Suddenly Instagram is calling my name.

(Look at me, taking doggy parenthood to a newer, keener level of obnoxiousness.) 

And even though I couldn't be bothered to honor the birthdays of any of my human children on my blog this year, I'm bothering with my dog.

Yes kids, I do love Abbott more. But only for the moment because he is keeping my feet warm and I'm too lazy to either turn up the furnace or go outside to get more wood to put in the woodstove. 

When Nixon, my Boston Terrier, died on Nash's birthday last year, I thought I'd never be able to love another dog the way I loved him. Nixon kept me sane while I grieved the death of my son. I loved him wildly and passionately. 

But then we found Abbott. Abbott, the world's largest pain in my ass. And man, do I love this dog in an entirely different but equally wild and passionate way. 

Abbott sheds the weight of three cats in a day, he drools in a way that fascinates and disgusts me, he farts more than my husband and he hogs the bed worse than any toddler sleeping sideways ever could. He pees on my new grass with oblivious abandon, steals sips of my coffee as it cools on the kitchen table, and likes to put his head on my pillow while I'm sleeping on it and huff loudly into my face to wake me up at all hours of the night so he can dance in the freshly falling snow.

He sits on me whenever I have to pee, he hogs the couch when the kids want to sit on it and he has chewed holes in all my socks. While I'm still wearing them. He likes to walk through my legs as I'm walking. He steps on my flip-flops as I'm mid-stride and he has zero respect for cats and their personal boundaries. Abbott is entirely incorrigible.

But then this dog, this well-over 200 pound dog who is now actually taller than my husband and my son when he's standing on his hind legs, looks into my eyes, I melt. He's quiet and loyal and fiercely protective. 

Every morning he puts his face in Knox's and lets Knox kiss him goodbye. He stands still long enough for Knox's tight little arms to stretch out and he holds still as Knox tries to open his fists to pet him. 

Every afternoon he stands at the end of the driveway and waits patiently for Knox's school bus to turn onto our road and stop at our driveway. He sticks his nose into Knox's nose as if to say hello and then he walks beside Knox's chair the entire way up our drive.

And every evening, he snores gently with his head in Knox's lap as Knox and I read bedtime stories together.

He even leaves Knox's socks alone. 

(But not his toque.)

This big dopey dog is Knox's gentle giant and my constant companion. 

Happy first birthday, Abbott. Your peoples love you. Even when you chew holes into our socks.

Abbott, 8 wks old, the day I brought him home.

Nap buddies.

"I am the one who knocks."

My baby. I wub you widdle man.