Friday, December 28, 2007
Then we decorated Christmas cookies.
Then they went home.
And we took Willa to the school down the street to enjoy their nice sized sledding hill.
Then we built a giant snowman. And a Willa sized one too.
Photos will be up when we're not glued to the bed, a little sore and very, very tired.
I think having a child might turn me into one who doesn't hate winter. As much.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Yesterday morning was my Grandma's funeral mass. I was proud to represent my family in remembering Grandma in the following eulogy.
Good morning. My name is Amy, I’m the first granddaughter of Bill and Virginia. On behalf of the ______ family, I'd like to thank Father Joe and Deacon Larry, this talented choir, the luncheon committee, and the whole congregation for giving my family comfort. To all friends and family here today and those thinking of us from afar, thank you.
It’s such an honor - and a daunting task - to stand here. I guess it’s that way for all of us today. An honor to celebrate the completion of Grandma’s long and fulfilled life. A daunting task to do the work of missing her. I hope I’m able to do justice in sharing some universal memories of Grandma.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven” or maybe a few times in your life, you’ve been so completely happy and at peace that you leaned back, looked around and thought, “I could die a very happen person right now.”
On Friday, Grandma was surrounded by family- even most of the out of town family was there. She was sitting next to her priest. The new Mr. and Mrs. William _______ was just announced and we joked that the crowd at the reception were standing to applaud her and Grandpa. She was happily glowing, just a little less than the bride. About ten minutes later, Grandma started to say goodbye. Perhaps she was so completely happy that her heart couldn’t contain any more… and it was time.
Grandma seemed to live her life driven by three core priorities: her family, her faith, and her pride in her Irish heritage.
Grandma was born on April 1, 1923. After hearing stories of her growing up with her sisters Jean and Illene, I’m sure their parents Arthur and Adelaide Lynch had their hands full with 3 firecracker daughters.
She and Grandpa married on July 5, 1947, and celebrated 60 years of marriage this summer. Grandma and Grandpa raised 5 kids: Sue, Chuck, Jean, Tom and Richard, and welcomed their children’s spouses John, Kathy, Steve, and Diane into the family. I’m sure that as Grandma met each serious boyfriend or girlfriend of her kids, she asked them what she asked my husband Jim when they met: “Are you Irish?”
He is, by the way, and since she found that out, she never stopped flirting with him. Sally and Lisa? Did she ever do that with Jim and Ken? Are they Irish? Anyhow, Grandma asked everyone if they were Irish, and like my dad said, if you were Irish, you were okay with Grandma.
And, if at any moment you weren't okay with Grandma, out came what Uncle Tom has termed "the wave of disgust." One hand for minor infractions, two is you were really in trouble.
Faith and her Catholic religion was another keystone in Grandma’s life. She prayed daily for family and friends. She prayed to Fr. Solonas, and believed that St. Ann’s oil could cure everything from a head cold to cancer. I think that each of us probably owes some of our happiness and success to Grandma’s prayers. She was like our family’s very own main switchboard operator to God. And with such a big family, I’m sure Grandma was praying a lot.
Grandma and Grandpa have 10 grandchildren. Growing up, some lived very close to their house and some lived very far away. On visits, if cousins weren't there, I would hear updates about all of them equally, she’d talk about Doug, Matt, and Jim, Scott and Sally, and Erin. And I’m sure they heard about myself and my siblings Lisa, Bill, and Brian. And later we would hear updates about spouses too, and her 6 Great-grandchildren as well. And out of the 10 original grandkids, she had exactly 10 favorites.
On Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to Grandma and Grandpa, and she turned to Grandpa - after looking around the room - and said, "we started all of this." They were both so, so proud of their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.
One of my memories of grandma is sitting in the backseat of a car with Lisa. Grandpa was driving and Grandma was next to him. It was a hot summer day and the 7th Inning stretch of a Tiger’s game was on. We were all singing… and when it got to “root, root, root for the ….” Line, grandma said either “home team” and Grandpa said “Tigers.” And Grandma said, “Bill, it’s __ whichever one she thought it should be.” There was a little pause and grandpa responded with – say it with me everyone – “Yes, Virginia.” That little game of theirs helped define the gentle and constant love that they showed every day.
At the visitation I shared with Grandpa that he had been married 30 times longer than Jim and I. Grandpa, here’s a better one, you and Grandma have more than 60 years on Bill and Jackie. I want to thank you, and Grandma for showing your kids and grandkids what it means to be a married couple, working as a team. Your dedication to your wife - throughout your life – is an inspiration and a guidepost to all of us learning the ropes.
And we will all continue to carry on pieces of Grandma in our lives. The pious curses of – excuse me for this, father – “Judas Priest, Jesus Moses” and, when she was really upset, “Jesus Mary and Joseph.” Most of you probably have one of these to wash your dishes and counter tops with – I think anyone who ever met Grandma received their very own hand crafted dishtowel. Well, maybe only if they were Irish. I think my premature white hair is probably directly correlated to the Irish blood of Grandma in my own veins. Someone’s going to have to learn how to make the congo and shortbread that everyone looked forward to at family celebrations and the larger August _______ reunions. . I sit with my daughter on my knee and sing songs that I remember Grandma singing to someone in their Albion St. living room.
I remember saying, as a 9 year old, to my parents on the way to visit Grandma and Grandpa, “I hope my cousins are there. It’s so boring when all you grown ups do is sit around and play cards and tell stories.” And there were stories! Some involved names like Oenei, Gruey, and Mocheri, some involved Grandpa's siblings and their families (Grandma's adopted 2nd family). There were many, many stories about my dad and his siblings and their antics.
And here we are to celebrate the end of a generous, warm, spirited life. And those stories and family ties are the best possible gift. And the best gift we could give Grandma back is to continue those stories.
So, thank you Grandma. And, as Doug requests, “Tell God we said hi.”
Here is a photo of Grandma and Grandpa at the wedding, moments before her heart attack. As you can see, she was having a wonderful time!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
My brother and his wife had a nice ceremony, and then the wedding party drove to Detroit landmarks for pictures: Comerica Park, Campus Martius (they got to get some photos on the zamboni).
The reception hall was beautiful, and there was so much joy and anticipation in the room. I was at the table with my parents and grandparents as the newlyweds were being introduced as "Mr and Mrs. William (their last name - top secret)." People stood clapping and cheering. I told my Grandma that the people were clapping for her and my Grandpa (same name). She smiled at the joke, but told Grandpa "that's us, they're clapping for us."
My brother was the best man, and in the middle of his toast, Grandma had a heart attack. She was taken out into the entry and was given cpr and rescue breathing (It seemed like 1/2 of the guests there were nurses!). 911 was called and she was taken to the hospital. There was not a lot they could do, so the doctors put her on some machines until midnight, allowing my parents to stay at their son's reception, so there wouldn't be a similar anniversary...
At about 12:45 my grandma died, surrounded by all of her kids.
My grandpa is doing as well as can be expected.
We're all trying to sort out the 2 events and give them their own space and feelings. My poor brother and his new wife didn't get the wedding they deserved, but some information was compassionately kept through the night, and I truly think that, while they had an idea, they were able to enjoy themselves.
My grandma got to say goodbye in a beautiful hall, with all 5 of her kids, and 9 of her 10 grandchildren. She looked beautiful and was having a wonderful time. A woman who has been walking with the assistance of a walker, she walked down the aisle between my brother and her husband unassisted, save for the graceful arm offered by each gentleman. She was enchanted with Willa and MaKenna, beaming at the happy couple, and so proud to have her family together. It couldn't have happened at a worse or better time, all things considered.
Please keep my grandpa, brother and new sister, and my entire family in your thoughts and prayers.
This post may be edited several times over the next few days, as details and new feelings start walking on their own. Also, there are wonderful photos of the wedding, which I will share as time passes.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"What is she listening to?"
"Uh... um... Barney."
"Well, we got home from the store, and I turned the tv on while I was unpacking the groceries and she saw him and..."
"You know, every bonus point you earned from grocery shopping is out the door."
"Well, it's not like she'll be getting a lot of Barney."
"That's like saying it's just a little crack."
Here we go folks, over the river and through mid-Michigan...
look for updates from the front.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
"NO! Oh, SHIT!"
She backed up, looked sad, and - I'm not making this up - said, "sorry."
Guess I'll have to be careful about the "oh shits."
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It is colorful and sweet and a good primer on feelings. On one page it says "Sometimes I feel like holding hands with a friend."
While lying in bed and reading the book to her, she reaches for Jim's hand and then mine and we all sit in a hand holding line for a second, until we get to the "Sometimes I feel like making mud pies" page and she drops our hands and says (over and over) "mess."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
"I know, you've said that every day for a few days now. With your voice."
Jim has been sick for several weeks now. Honest-to-goodness chicken noodle soup and wrap yourself in a blanket sick. And I have empathy for him because I've had what he has, but in the lite format. I have the Muzak version of his sick. He's dusting off his blog and writing again. In today's episode, you can - if you want to - read all about the sick. If you're not all into mucus, skip to the next post where he talks about music. 'Cause that's a good one.
Here's to health, when it returns.
Friday, December 07, 2007
This kid has everything. I'm pretty sure he even owns the moon.
Jim and I are going to get him a dress. Kidding. Mostly.
It'll be too late for birthday ideas, but how about Christmas, friends? Ideas?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
In Michigan, we have a female governor named Jennifer Granholm. During the last election her detractors spouted about not voting for "Jenny" because DeVos had better plans for the state.
When we are troubled by politicians we refer to them by their first names in a blatant sign of disrespect: "Tricky Dick" Nixon immediately comes to mind. In this particular administration, those less enthusiastically "hailing the chief" add a W to differentiate from daddy George.
And now here comes Hillary. She's not my top pick for the Democratic ticket - not that the party cares about what any of the renegades in Michigan think. I guess I'll have to come to terms with the fact that someday a granddaughter might ask what it was like when the first woman president was elected and I'll try not to roll my eyes and effusively proclaim that we missed our chance for real change in the presidency with a white Southern Male (Dear John Edwards? I know I'm from a state that will have no delegates at the convention, but still... you, me, grilled cheese?)... Anyhow my point... there's one here somewhere...
Hillary. Really? Her campaign is doing this themselves: banners, buttons, bumperstickers... all spalshed with one word Hillary. Maybe to differentiate from Bill Clinton, but okay, "welcome to the mideast peace talks, President Hillary will be joining us shortly..."? Or is she leaning to heavily on the maybe female voters will notice the "I'm a woman too" thing? One can only imagine the Hillary special edition Barbie advertised to help little girls dream that someday they too can be president. Cute.
I know this is a self-styled thing, but I heard a professional journalist refer to the field as Obama, Hillary and Edwards. Grrrr... Respect in parallels, please?
One could argue Rudy is doing this too... maybe it's a New York thing?
Here is a link to the On the Media segment that played on NPR on Friday, along with some thoughtful comments.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Once I found a recipe that combined peanut butter with eggplant. It sounded so awful, I thought it must be good, and I tried it. It was awful. This one is not. If you like pickles, give it a shot.
DILL PICKLE SOUP (serves 4)
8 chicken bullion cubes (I used vegetarian vegetable bullion)
8 cups water
1/2 cup chopped carrots (I'd put in closer to 3/4 cup)
1 cup diced potatoes (again, a little more might do you good)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (someday when "I'll allergic to mushrooms isn't around, I'll give it a shot)
3 large dill pickles (Grandma wrote in "Get pickles in the dairy section!")
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch (hey, follow the directions on the box for mixing this into water before mixing it into the soup)
3 tablespoons dill weed
Boil carrots, potatoes and mushrooms in broth until tender
Grate dill pickles (I love my food processor) and add to boiling mixture with butter
Reduce heat, add sour cream and mix vigorously with whisk
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water and add to mixture
Simmer for a bit, enjoy with a good bread. After, if you've still got a grandma send her a card. Include a Family Circus cartoon - she'll love it!
Bagels and apple crisp were made in the cocina de sinki. Is it weird to feel empowerd that I can make bagels at home? Spending time cooking has been centering for me. Slicing apples last night was like a meditation of repetitive motion. The slisss of steel through apple and klnk of apple hitting bowl... so natural, so small, but so satisfying.
My job has been a lot like driving on an icy parking lot. I'm not sure where I'm going, and I don't feel like I'm really in control.
Making meals and treats for my family is so productive and finite, and rewarding. Winter and a quest for direction has me standing over our in the middle of rehab sink. And that's where I'm comfortable this week.
In non-domestic news, we've been watching Heroes for 2 years now. Anyone else? Want to discuss the end of season 2?
Monday, December 03, 2007
We've decided to make the kitchen a kinder, gentler, less 1960's kitchen. And while we're in the slow process of remodeling, I'm enjoying being in there. Because it's going to be better, folks!
As evidenced by the homemade mac and cheese, vege chili, dill pickle soup, and raisin bran muffins all in the freezer. I also made some great chai (not from a box, thank you).
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Bead wearing Jim, yam loving Willa, dopey looking me.
Here we see Jackie and Bill in the last month of their year long engagement. Also here is MaKenna, enjoying her cupcake frosting, and Lisa, enjoying her first days after being self-emancipated from a job where her newly ex-boss called her Lisa Marie. (grrrr...) Brian's not in this photo, but he and Willa had a super good play time too.
My grandparents. Grandma looked around the room and told Grandpa, "we started all of this." It was a sweet moment. They are so proud of their family.
Willa stacking cups on her Grandpa's lap. Looking to give a toddler an inexpensive gift? A sleeve of colorful plastic cups kept her happily busy for a long time.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
"Well, Jesus was a liberal, though a lot of churches don't want to admit that."
"I know....um... uh-oh..."
"Well, I was just thinking about how sometimes the next generation completely changes political ideology from mom and dad. Which means that God would be conservative. In which case a lot of us are in trouble."
Monday, November 19, 2007
"I can't look at this anymore. Let's just do it."
"Yes, let's get started."
An hour later Willa woke up from her nap, walked into the kitchen and froze in her tracks. She was staring at the place where, just before she fell asleep, there were cabinets and a back splash.
"'ERE'D IT GO?!" She demanded with her arms lifted, hands palm side up. I chuckled, and she yelled again, "'ERE'D IT GO?!"
I thought it was amusing until I remembered a weekend home from college. I walked into the kitchen and it was someone else's kitchen. They changed it so much that the next morning, I walked downstairs, opened the fridge, pulled out the milk, and set it down on the island that had been there for the 15 years before. Only there was no island, and the milk crashed to the floor. Upset about home not looking like "home" anymore, I may have cried. Over spilt milk, I know, I know...
Change is so hard.
On the other hand, we have some of the new upper cabinets up and while I'm happy that they look lovely, I am jumping up and down excited about the extra storage space in our small kitchen.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Her hand started a patting motion. "Okay. The horn on the bus goes honk honk hon-"
"BEEP BEEP BEEP," she yelled, eyebrows drawn together. I could almost detect an eye roll and the phrase muttered under her breath, "geez, mom, you don't know ANYTHING.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The shock and needle thing was weird. I laid on a table watching my hand spasm as small currents of electricity went though my arm. Curious to see my finger move without me telling them to.
Jim wanted to come along to watch his wife become a science experiment, but alas, Labor Law class reading was making demands.
Some responses to recent comments:
Amanda, I picked up my orange tree at Flowerland about 2 years ago. It's only about 2 feet tall. If you have a sunny spot, it's a fun thing to watch grow.
Christina, Jim and I drink a lot of hot tea in the winter. We have about 9 or 10 boxes of tea open, to help deal with the clutter, we bought a shallow basket and store the tea boxes in the basket. Thusly our tea basket was born.
B~, Willa talks. Looking forward to a conversation between her and Rosalie next month.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
At the rate we're going, I may have truly edible oranges in 8 years.
Right now I've got 5 orange babies on the tree. They'll mature to about the size of your eyeball.
In 2 months, I'll probably have a tree full of blooms again.
There's something almost magical about stomping snow off of boots and removing mittens and scarf to be welcome by my citrus laden office.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
It's time to pull out soup recipes, and put away the garden trowel. Flannel sheets on the bed, and find that frost and ice scrapper. I've rearranged the tea basket, and Willa's new mittens are ready.
It's time to daydream about the days living in South Carolina and Georgia. Even DC...
There's something about the drive to hibernate that is tempting.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I hope this will bring some answers, I'm not sure that the vitamin D is making it better. Maybe I need more time with the D?
I'll tell you that this is something that isn't bothering me every day, and when it does it isn't constant. But at it's peak it's more than unpleasant.
Please join me in crossing fingers. Thanks, dudes.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Great, I thought, except I'm already in Lansing, and an hour away from the store, and more importantly the cow.
And it was just a $3 finger puppet that we picked up on the way to my parents house, but for Willa it was love at first sight.
"MOOOOO" she bellowed from the backseat of the car, cradling her new pal between her jaw and her shoulder. 2 minutes later she was asleep and drooling on him.
And then we went to buy a shower gift the next morning and, well he got lost.
I called my sister who lives the closest, but she didn't answer. I called home and talked to Brian. He wouldn't be near there in the next week. The manager of the store would send it to me, if only I arranged for prepaid shipping.
My dad called me a minute after I hung up with Brian. He was on his way to get it.
"No, dad. Don't make a special trip, it's just a cheap finger puppet. IF you're near there in the next week or so, you can get it, but really...."
"I'm on my way."
The cow has been picked up. Willa has a new hero, only she doesn't know it yet. I'm looking forward to witnessing a reunion of Willa and her moo, thanks to her super swell grandpa.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Twenty minutes later we left the room.
This Parenting thing? Totally awesome!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Two minutes later, Nancy Pelosi answered Neal Conan's question about what surprised her about the first session as Speaker of the House by saying that she had little use for the word surprise in a role that calls her to be ready for anything.
1) What a great way to answer that question.
2) "... little use for the word..."
This got me thinking -and talking to a coworker/friend (hey Sarah, thanks for the opportunity to explore this)- about use for words in different spheres.
I read this tidbit of awesomeness yesterday too. Oh Andrea at Superhero Journal - I would like to sip tea and make cards with you.
Jim mentioned last night that I've not posted an entry of meaty content here in a while. I kind of blew that off but...
I've been feeling quiet lately. I don't know if it's an autumnal thing, or if I'm not tapped into myself or what I find energetic lately.
Hi, um, Yesterday? What are you conspiring?
I'm going to let this all churn for a while and see what words I have a use for soon.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
*I love attending a church that lets me type "after the mariachi band played"...
Thanks to Amy in Motown for inspiring me to remember to share this here. See the story of her three year old singing angel here.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I kissed her on her head, her whispy hair tickling my lips, "bye Willa, feel better and go easy on daddy." She smiled at me, said "Moma," and patted the bed next to her.
This patting is how we invite the dogs up.
So, so difficult to put on my big girl shoes and leave them all there.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
- walking along and across the river with no plan
- sitting in the 80 degree sun
- a quick trip out of our hotel to see the sun set that landed us in Jacob's Field with thousands of Indians fans who saw their team lose the League Championship (we only stayed for the first 3 outs)
- eating room service pizza in bed because we stayed at the stadium too long and every kitchen in downtown Cleveland closes at 9 pm on Sundays
- seeing the original lyrics to "In My Life" handwritten by John Lennon at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- not needing the backup CDs in the car on the drive in case Jim and I grew tired of talking
- picking Willa back up at my parents - she never cried, and after an hour of watching the Detroit Zoo's polar bear for an hour with Grandma, has a new fuzzy bear to snuggle
- Best thing? Reconnecting with Jim as a partner outside of our roles as parents. This guy I've said "forever" to? So wonderfully perfect for me.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Hours later, Jim and I were enjoying some quiet reading time. I heard Willa starting to stir and cry just a little. I went to her crib, and she was sitting up, watching the lightening through the window. Her brow was almost touching her nose, she was so concerned. "Woah." I laid her down and said it was a thunderstorm and she was okay. "Woah, mama, woah." Seconds later she was back to sleep, snuggling her stuffed bunny.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Willa was playing with a ball. Her friend tried to take it. Willa bit her friend. I told her that biting friends isn't nice.
Uh-oh, I thought.
Instead, this is what I got.
"Willa did something funny today."
I eye my daughter suspiciously, she's in her backup outfit. Did she paint herself? Pour milk all over her front?
"She took off her own diaper. I went to pick her up and her bottom was really wet, and not as fluffy as normal. And then I noticed that one leg was a lot thicker than the other. She took off her diaper and stuffed it down the leg of her pants."
I am still trying to figure out the logistics of this. She was in a one piece romper that snaps around the legs (my delicate way to avoid the word crotch- oops). So... how did she undo her own diaper and then stuff it down a leg? The world may never know.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My mom's mom's dad was a bootlegger and ran homebrewed beer in the car with my young grandmother sitting on the seat on top of it. His wife died very young, and the paperwork says her bowels were punctured by a chicken bone.
Monday, October 15, 2007
This fella is 40 today.
Jim, full of kindness and laughs and integrity and creativity.
Jim got an "A" in his first Master's class, and does more dishes than he should.
Awesome dad, Jim. Bather of dogs, fixer of lamps, reader of everything, Jim.
My life is enriched by his partner-hood. I love him, Jim.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
6:40 am Jim gets up, brings Willa into our bed
6:42 am Willa turns toward me and kisses me on the lips
6:42.5 am Willa won't go back to sleep unless her lips are on my lips. And she's still coughing.
6:43 am Feeling grossed out that my sick daughter won't stop kissing me on the mouth, try to roll over, blocked by dog.
6:44 am Grateful that Willa is distracted from my lips and is now picking her nose. I doze.
7:02 am Alarm sounds
7:50 am All of us are still in bed playing and giggling, wishing it was a Saturday morning
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Last night we were having a pretzel snack. When I handed her one from the bag she looked at it and yelled "NO." She has never yelled "no" at me before. Greta and Arlo, hot on her heels, after her cheese? They get a stream of "NOs" followed by a hug with the cheese dangling in their face and a giggle. My "NO" was in direct response to the pretzel - the last one in the bag - being broken.
I've heard about this, but thought they were the child rearing equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle - just a little caution mythology, a little hyperbole about "those crazy kids."
Turns out those kids really are crazy.
My work review was 3 hours today. I am exhausted, but pleased. I am a good little worker bee, and have the paper to prove it.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
On the way home from the last outing (which was billed as a family trip to the pumpkin patch) Jim started musing about opening something similar but better ourselves. I think he wants a pony for his birthday.
Hmmm... look for Camp Sinki sometime soon. You'll find pumpkins, and concerts, and Sunday brunch, and a roadside produce stand, and a summer camp. And goats. In the interest of full disclosure, this is a Binder Park goat (last weekend) not a Post Family Farm goat (this past weekend).
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Willa is suddenly obsessed with Kermit the Frog. He's on the screen and she's riveted and squealing. He's off the screen and she's calling for her, "er's da frggg? (that's "Where's the Frog" for those of you who don't speak toddler).
She woke up at 5 this morning coughing so much I got her and we sat on the couch for a little while. Suddenly she was wide awake and pointing at the tv asking for da frggg.
She snuggled in and dozed off.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"How are you?"
"Well... not so great"
"Aw, geez, I'm sorry."
"... they want me to start on Tuesday!!!"
He got me. For a teeny tenth of a second.
Remember that job that you were pretty sure was killing anything good about you? The one that made your brain turn to mush, and more painfully pulverized your heart too? My brother has been teaching at a charter school that did not seem to have their students at the top of the priority list. There were 35 kids in his class this year. All boys. 6th grade boys. And a whole list of bad bad things that add up to this not being a place for any student or teacher, especially one fresh out of school himself with all these ideals...
Yesterday my brother probably sat his 1st graders down and started to learn their names and they might have talked about the calendar and addition. There will be challenges, but there will be support. And he is happy.
We were both crying as he gave me details on Friday. Sweet freedom. Sweet renewed purpose.
Completely unrelated, I forgot to mention and a comment reminded me. The red jumper Willa's wearing in the previous photos? I made that. Me and my sewing machine and several swear words. I made it for MaKenna, and now Willa's enjoy the hand-me-down.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
We went to Battle Creek for Jim's work on Saturday, and tagged on a trip to Binder Park. It was a great trip, and the park/zoo is pretty cool. Willa got a cracker to feed the giraffe. I guess I should have explained to her that it wasn't for her, because when that 16 inch black slimy tongue reached out and took it from her hand, she had a melt down.
While at the zoo Jim started feeling bad, and blamed it on a bad choice of Burger King's breakfast. On the way home, I got to hear my husband toss his cookies for the first time. At 2:30 Sunday morning I started. The stomach flu hit us, and then kicked us, and then spit in our faces. I was out of bed for a total of 20 minutes yesterday.
Today everyone is back to day care/work, but still feeling kind of dazed and sore.
Friday, September 28, 2007
And 45 minutes into the show when I heard her coughing, and then crying it all came crashing down. Good thing the VCR was set. Yes, VCR - we don't do the Demand/Tivo or any other fancy schmany recording of shows. This is how much we think tv is must see, I guess.
She threw up. In her crib, on the blankets, on me, on the bathroom floor.... more than once. Jim took to the couch and Willa and I hunkered down in bed together. When she wasn't coughing, she was churning next to me, like a river otter playing in the water, or a hot dog on the gas station grill. Around and around and around. Little feet digging under my back, little hand slapping my cheek.
And in a gleam of true Willa spirit, she woke up at 4 am, coughed enough for me to nervously grab "the bowl." Then she giggled and started calling for Alro to join us in bed.
So, I'm at work, and the report from nurse Jim is that she's coughing a lot less today. Hoping she didn't catch the croup - there's a sign on her daycare room door declaring that someone has been home with that this week. It's like a centuries old town with a warning on the gate that the plague was there.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
When we got home Willa got a bath. Baths are harder now that she's interested in sitting on the toilet. I find myself lifting her from the tub to her potty seat so many times that I end up drenched. After her bath, she gets a sippy cup of milk that she drinks in our bed while we read books to her. Last night she gave the sippy cup to her baby doll (mom and dad, she loves this doll, good job), first putting the opening on the baby's eye, and then moving it to the baby's mouth... all the while singing, "baeeee-beeeee" over and over.
Monday, September 24, 2007
At the birthday party nephew Matt handed me a teddy bear with the warning that "he might possibly be evil. He has red eyes," and then walked away. David, the birthday boy, was checking people into the house with "Hi! Did you bring me a present?!" I told him that we brought him a can of sticks, which Tinker Toys really are. John, the 8 year old nephew was caught between trying to impress his 16 year old step-cousin and doting on the little ones. Willa emptied the hosts garage of all balls, and pushed her self a la Flintstone on a tricycle. The other nephew and niece, who we don't see nearly enough hovered near their mom and dad.
On Sunday I woke up and knew it wasn't going to be a good day. I ended up horizontal for most of the day and watched the clock for the next dose of Tylenol. I'm hoping my next dose of D will bring progress in the leaky muscle world.
I felt irritated/frustrated/guilty as Jim cleaned the house, did laundry, made dinner, cared for Willa, and did yard work. Just before lights out I let him know how grateful I was (no perverts, not in that way):
"Thanks for taking care of me today."
"I'd make a good wife, wouldn't I?"
"You'd make a good Ann B. Davis as Alice. (hilarious laughter) I am very, very luck to have you as a partner."
"Keep that in mind the next time your frustrated with me, okay?"
"I know, all day I kept thinking, how can I get SO MAD at this wonderful man sometimes."
We laughed. No Twizzlers.
Today I'm feeling much better. Of course: at my desk I feel good. On a beautiful Sunday: not so much.
Friday, September 21, 2007
written 8/24 embargoed until more info is provided
I just got a spam email that had the subject line "It's all right. I can take it."
And for some reason, this email (with the contents promising for a larger "member" in days with a magic pill) was more comforting to me than Jim's greatest attempts at consolation last night.
"It's all right. I can take it."
My body is doing something weird right now. My muscles are leaking enzymes. Apparently everyone's muscles are a little leaky, but mine are extra leaky. We found this out when I told the fantastic Dr. B that my muscles were sometimes pained in a way I can only describe as weird shooting crampy dull industrial rubber bands around parts of me. And sometimes the rubber bands are pointy. Sometimes it lasts 20 minutes, sometimes only a few seconds. Mostly it's in one limb at a time. Sometimes it happens several times in an hour. Sometimes it takes a few days off. So, we did blood work and my CK level came back high (150something). She ordered another round of blood work and it got to 176. I didn't really know what any of this meant, so I did some online research and proceeded to have the pants scared off of me by a list of diseases that are diagnosed with an elevated CK level.
By the way, when capri's came out, I swore I would never wear them. Now most of my summer pants are at least cropped. Damn fashion trends.
This week (8/20) has been difficult, as my whole body is achy. It might be totally unrelated to my extra leaky muscles, but last night I got scared by the "what if" parade (including floats from ALS and MD, as well as the Lupus high school marching band).
And poor Jim. Well, what with all that testosterone, he went into problem solvin' mode. Very sweetly saying things like, "Why worry now? We don't know what it is. All this worry isn't going to make you feel better."
He's right. My brain knows that. But I needed a little window to sneak into a pity party. And again, all that maleness didn't get that all I needed was a hug. And a box of tissues.
But this invisible spammer sends me a virtual chill out.
And he's right. It's all right. I can take it.
And now for the latest info (written on 9/21)
I saw a Rheumatologist on Monday and he ordered more blood work. The results came back and I got a phone call to say that my Vitamin D levels are very low (most folks have a count of 30, mine is 13). This would account for the pain and the pain accounts for the elevated CK. In this round, my CK is back down to 158 - good news. I am taking a prescription strength D supplement, and trying to soak up the sun as much as possible. I've spoken with my Dr. who told me that this isn't related to my vegetarian diet. I go back for a check up in 6 weeks.
If the answer is this easy, I am a lucky girl. Big breath in, and a giant PHEW out.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"Can you believe our daughter is old enough to play here?"
"Yeah, but she's doing great. It's amazing that no one is falling down, or getting knocked down."
"I know. But some of the bigger kids are getting too close. I'm keeping a mental list of which ones to trip as they walk past."
Monday, September 17, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I had been in college for four years and still unsure of where I was headed professionally. I was active (maybe too active, my transcripts will show) in the volunteer program that year, and was curious about Americorps. I ended up on an airplane that landed in Charleston, SC in August of '97. I was a member of the Americorps*National Civilian Community Corps. That * is important. It's a government program, and it's in all of the literature and it was on my uniform, so * it is.
As a Corpsmember, I was on a team of 12 other folks aged 18-24. Our campus was on an abandoned Naval Base where the border patrol trained (imagine the ideological differences that came up in a common cafeteria where do-gooder hippie-types ate next to guys who wore t-shirts with the cartoon of a sombrero wearing mouse running from uniformed man and shouting "Andale!"). We did service projects in the realms of the environment, human safety, disaster relief, education, and other unmet human needs (again, government lingo). We served the SE region of the US. It was a great experience during which I learned how to frame a house, identify and kill specific invasive plant life on a National Seashore, spell Florida correctly (no kidding, I am a terrible speller) while tutoring 4th graders on their spelling lists, and pack for a two month trip on 20 minutes notice.
I made some great friends who were my travelling family. We were like the Partridges - but with hammers and shovels instead of guitars and drums - travelling the country spreading idealistic cheer and doing good works. Some of my old teammates were at our wedding. Some wanted to be but couldn't make the cross country trip. Some I've lost touch with, and I'm okay with that. At that time in our lives, the team was very important; we lived, travelled, and worked together, that leads to overexposure that will either lead to homicide or life long friendships.
So, back to the FedEx package. The Charleston campus is closing, leaving 3 or 4 other bases active in the country. The closing is somewhat mysterious, and when I questioned staff, they couldn't say much. I'm not sure they know much. In a room on the campus were probably thousands of binders. And in each binder was a portfolio that a team made when a project was completed. Someone from the Charleston campus unexpectedly sent me the portfolio from our project at a Charleston elementary school. In it are our reflections about our 2 months there, photos of our team with the classes we worked with, an Internet training manual for teachers, designed by 2 teammates who weren't excited to work with youngin's.
I had written about Marcus, the 4th grader who wasn't doing well in class, but not doing poorly enough to qualify for special ed. I remembered being very touched by the pride he developed in himself as we worked together. I wrote about his smile when he told me he scored an A on a test.
All of these people in my life who have helped shape me: like a river forming its banks. I'm remembering, I'm grateful. The portfolio reminded me to get more active in my community again. It reminded me of how I've grown in the past 10 years. It's spurred me to send out some emails to old teammates...
"... remember when we couldn't afford to go home for Thanksgiving, so we ate Thanksgiving dinner at an Irish pub? ... when we swam in the Atlantic 2 weeks before Christmas at night and walked back to the bunkhouse singing carols? How are you old friend? Where are you? Just a note to say I'm thinking of you on this 10th anniversary of our meeting, and smiling."
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I'm going to pick her up again in a minute. One of my favorite parts of the day. She'll see me at the door and run to hug my leg. Gotta go...
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Six years ago I was in a room with volunteers and staff at Habitat for Humanity who happened to be from the Mid-East, listening to discussion about exercising caution when out in a small southern American town. Then I packed and drove a 12 passenger van to Indianapolis to participate in the Habitat anniversary celebration, and to drive home my co-workers stranded by the chaos of air travel. I remember sitting in a hotel room, finally alone and processing what had happened, watching the news anchors talking about finding survivors in the wreckage with tears streaming down my face. "Hope-hope, Hope-hope" was the sound of my heartbeat.
"Can I interrupt for for a few minutes?"
"Well, I want to talk about a fear that I had today."
[This is where I should have waited for an affirmative, but didn't.]
"You know that I would really like to be a stay at home mom. But after today, I'm not sure I could do it. I mean, she cried for 2 hours straight. At the end of the day, I feel defeated and exhausted. I need you to tell me that it was so hard because she was home sick, and extra crabby. I need to hear that I'd be a good stay at home mom."
Jim looked at me and took a deep breath in. "Knowing the kind of person you are, I think you'll be a great stay at home mom. You'll plan trips to the library and the gardens and the orchard. I don't think you'll be the "watching soap operas while the kids play" kind of stay at home mom. You probably won't even at home much."
I sat at the table crying from the generosity of his affirmation.
"And your headache probably didn't help much either."
"Well, it did feel like it was going to explode most of the day."
"Now, I love you, but get out, I've got to study."
Monday, September 10, 2007
How do I know today's daycare report before the end of the work day?
Willa's on my lap with a 101 fever and glassy eyes. Early pickup and I'm trying to get some things done before leaving for the day.
Friday, September 07, 2007
She had one hour long nap yesterday, instead of two - hour long naps or one -90 minute. When we got home from daycare she started crying. She cried through eating a few things for dinner (I think she ate half of a cheese stick, 3 tablespoons of yogurt, and 8 blueberries, ignoring everything else). She cried while we played. She stopped crying long enough to laugh so hard she snorted. She cried and screamed while I gave her a bath. She screamed while she was lying with me, some books, and her sippy cup of milk. She screamed while she crawled on top of me, kissed my nose while hugging my neck. She screamed while I quietly sang in her ear and rocked. I put her to bed screaming at 7:14.
Jim came home at 7:15 (I put her to bed early, knowing that she was just very, very tired). He picked her up and brought her back to our bed. And she stopped screaming. They read and hugged and she asked for me. We all laid in bed for a few minutes while she finished her milk, and I put her in her crib, where she half-heartedly cried herself to sleep.
My brain was completely fried, and I watched TV all night. A terrible waste of so many hours of Willa-free time, but necessary.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Last week, I was picking CDs to take with us in our travels and put Paul Simon on the pile, smiling, but not remembering the song or the lyric.
We were heading east with the dogs in the back seat next to a head bobbing Willa, when Jim started singing "Graceland" louder with a smirk on his face:
"As if I didn't notice, as if I didn't know myself. As if I didn't notice the way she brushed her hair back and farted."
We laughed, Willa laughed, we ate Twizzlers.
Note: it appears as though I've heard the lyrics wrong all along too - for a peek at the real lyrics (and chords for y'all with a music streak), go here.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Over the summer a wave of distrust over Chinese products hit American shores. Tainted dog food, human food, toothpaste, and toys, all made cheaply so we can take our SUVs to Wallmart and buy our necessities for a good price.
There is anger and distrust and threats to boycott products from China. Reading labels on products shows just how difficult that will be. Retailers and shoppers are in for a difficult Christmas season. To avoid a massive recall, THE toy of the year might have to be a pet rock: but big enough to not be a choking hazzard, and harvested from organic fields in Nebraska.
Here's my proposed solution: buy less toys, no matter where they're made. Last night 2 empty and cleaned out yogurt cups kept Willa busy for hours. I know we're not yet at the age when branding invades her mind. She doesn't yell about how our breakfast cereal NEEDS to have Dora marshmallows, and doesn't mind that our band aids don't have a character on them either. I know this will happen, and when it does, you'll find me here asking for strength - and maybe rationalizing that the Disney princess underwear actually might help potty training go smoother. Please call me on it then, okay?
I'm all about Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs for her next gifts - anyone know where those are made now? If it's China, I'm going to hedge my bets and only let her play with scissors and sharp sticks.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
So, I have a pierced nose.
My mom asked why. I've been thinking about this for a while now. In 1992 I was voted "most likely to get a nose ring" in our band's mock elections. [This is just how dorky my roots are. Band. Mock Elections.] So, really it was Manifest Destiny, though it's a stud and not a ring - a point that gives edge to free will. I'm typically not what one would call patient, but 15 years is a long time to ponder a piercing. I had a vision of Willa having someone come in while I was on my death bed to "freaking pierce her nose already! She's talked about it forever!" And I decided it was time.
To celebrate decisiveness and action we went to my brother in law's "it wasn't a heart attack, but it was a scary wake up call" party, visited with my parents and uncle Brian, and went to the Michigan state fair.
Here MaKenna guides Willa's hand to pet the baby duck. "Duck" was the first word that both of them ever said.
Willa with her Grandma and Grandpa P. I promise that out of the 3 photos I took of this moment, this is the best one of all 3.
Our backyard terrace project - only you can prevent soil erosion. It's done enough for us to consider it done for now. Well... after some wood chips. And maybe some more plants. And stairs next to it would be nice...
Note: at the end, I realized I still hadn't answered my mom's question of "why" here. The very basic answer I gave her was, "because I think they're pretty."
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Blancodesinki receives no payment from Li'l Willies, nor should this photo be taken as an endorsement for this particular company in your porta pots needs.