Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thinking of My Grandma Tonight

On Good Friday, I got the call from my mom that my grandma was in the hospital after having had a massive stroke. A few hours later we learned she was not expected to make it. She is currently on life support, and I’m still reeling from the news. Over the past few days, there are quite a few things that have come to mind. I wanted to share a few...
My grandma says she first knew she wanted to be with my grandfather at 9 years old. 10 years later, they were married. They raised 4 beautiful babies together, and buried a fifth who died at birth. My grandma had 10 grandchildren living in every part of the United States. And yet she and my grandpa didn’t miss a single graduation, a single wedding, a single baby born. It seemed they spent all of their money (and spare time, too) on traveling to see family- and they were proud that they’d raised kids independent enough to make homes and lives for themselves all over the country.
My grandma taught me how to apply nail polish, how to chat up a stranger (she was a master at this), and not to take crap from anyone. I inherited my love of music from her (she played the piano), and my love for children, too. In fact, I even look more like her than any other person in my family. I always imagined that because of that, I had a special connection with her. And yet, we probably all felt that way, because my grandma didn’t play favorites but she DID have a way of making each of us feel special.
My grandma was embarrassingly proud of each of us- once pulling a mail man into her house to listen to me sing while she accompanied me on her piano. Another time raising my hand for me when someone at her church opened the floor to anyone who felt moved to sing for the congregation. She’d slide her freshly done acrylic nails (usually a no-no for a pianist but she didn’t care) up and down the scale before settling into the right key, and I’d stand in front of her small church congregation, and sing.
This is the first song I ever remember her teaching me for us to play together. It was at a pastor’s conference my grandparents attended while we were staying with them for a few weeks over the summer when I was 12. She gathered a group of other kids at the church to sing in a little back up choir, and she accompanied me, as always. Our version was just a tad bit simpler than this Aretha version- but I can still remember her humming harmonies as she played in the background. And, to me, it was perfect.
Thinking of my grandma tonight.
Listen to Surely God Is Able (Live) by Aretha Franklin & The Franklin Sisters on @AppleMusic.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coppa Wayu!

Each day before we head out the door to pick up the big girls at school, I go quietly into Grant's room and wake him up. Then, put on his socks, shoes, and a jacket before waking up Harper, who likes to nap until the last possible second before heading out the door.

This agitates Grant, and he doesn't hesitate to let me know. For weeks now, he'll cry and moan, saying the same thing over and over. Something I have not been able to figure out, which only infuriates him more. "Coppa Wayu!!!!!" he howls over and over again, growing more frustrated each time he says it and I don't understand.

But, today was different.

"Coppa Wayuuuuuu!" he called out, and just as he did a little voice called out from upstairs, "I'll be right there, Grant."

Harper had understood him, though I could not. What he'd been wanting, what he'd been crying all this time is,

"Harper, where are you?"
Harper, with a protective arm around G

Thursday, September 4, 2014

These Are the Days

“Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.” - Walt Whitman

There is no happier time of year than back to school season. The smell of old books, freshly sharpened pencils, the huge crowds of excited kids. It's a time of beginning again, and I just love it!

It was back to school this week for my 2 big girls. It was, in fact, a very special first day of school this year. A day of seeing our life with a fresh perspective when, after a big move to a new neighborhood this spring, we were zoned into a different school. It wasn't what we wanted; and it would have meant big adjustments for the girls, for ALL of us, really. But at the last minute, and through a modern-day-miracle, we ended up back at our beloved school, where the girls are rooted, familiar, and happy.

That first day of school this week, the play yard looked greener than ever, the teachers' faces warmer and lighter, our community- so, so beautiful, perfect, and joy-filled. We were more grateful than ever before for what we very well thought we had lost...and then found.

But it isn't just that, it's this:

These are the days.

My two beautiful little plump faced babies have turned into gorgeous, thoughtful, fun-to-be-with big girls. And I still have two (relatively) little ones to squeeze, and hold, and relish when nostalgia has me weepy. 

We spent our summer basically chasing rainbows and pixies (it felt just about that magical.)  Losing teeth, riding bikes, going for hikes, watching movies, staying up late, eating popsicles and popcorn, giggling in the dark at bedtime, reading Harry Potter, swimming in the ocean and in grandma and grandpa's pool after dark, just being with cherished loved ones...everything good, and right with the world- we did.

And it was over so fast. It was over SO fast.

Now, we're back to the season of packed lunches, shoes by the door, 'brush-your-teeth, brush-your-hair, get-in-the-car, go-go-go.' And, I LOVE this season. But, I can see the changes in their faces. They are growing. They are older. This is the marker of another year beginning.

Norah was calmer, more resolute as she walked through her class door to third grade.  Her confidence growing with each passing year.

Avery's two front teeth are starting to grow in, and her tall, lanky frame looks older than her age.

I have covered Grant's fatty cheeks in a flurry of kisses about a thousand times in the last few days. I have held him in my lap for as long as he'll sit there. I have curled up next to Harper's little bean shaped body and lingered longer than usual in her bed each night for cuddles. I have stared wide-eyed at her eating her lunch. Big, messy chomps of peanut butter and jelly. Fluffy, messy curls covering her eyes.

And, I have listened to my two big girls, too, at the end of each school day. Trying to take it all in with them. This brave new world; another school year beginning because...

These are the days.

These ARE (do you hear me?) the days.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Last 24 Hours With My Kids

The last 24 hours with my kids: 

1) Last night, encouraging Avery to pull a very loose tooth, Lucas started a 'pull it' chant at the dinner table. Grant (who is not all that verbal) joined in, fists pounding against the table and all. 

2) Avery DID pull her tooth last night, and the other is hanging by just one last thread. As a result, she's talking with an extremely adorable lisp right now. 

3) When we parked at a McDonald's downtown this morning to head to John Stanford, Harper said, 'look, there's Old McDonald.'

4) In the parking lot of that McDonald's there was a homeless man sitting outside. Norah was holding Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (something to occupy her as we were waiting in the enrollment line.) And- I kid you not- she and the homeless man got into a discussion about how much they both love the series!

Oh man, I love this crew.

Is this the most adorable grin or what?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bedtime Books

I have to tell you a story about when I walked in tonight to cuddle with my 3 girls. When I looked over at Harper's bed I noticed a little light shining right in the center of her covers.  As I walked over to cuddle with her, I noticed she was hunched over a book, with a battery powered night light, trying to steal a few last moments of 'reading' to herself. She looked so young and so innocent- but also totally like a little old lady.

And I thought to myself, as I often do, I am in serious trouble.  How? (HOW?) Can you take a night light away from a tiny little pixie child? Her untamable mane of hair.  Her little cherubic face. So matter-of-factly holding the light to her book. Reading peacefully to herself in the dark.  Eager, determined, and content in the dark.

But, I did take the night light away.  Because that is my job as the mean old, no fun mama that I am.  That is all of our jobs as mamas.  To take away magical middle of the night night lights from our dreamy-eyed babies- when they steal away to read one last story to themselves in the dark. 'Bedtime," I said to her, as I pried the nightlight from her little fingers.  "Bedtime," I said, as I folded closed the pages of the book and kissed her little fuzzy forehead.  And, she rolled over, and rolled her eyes, too, and nestled her tiny body into her big, warm, bed.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pay Back

We have a very serious problem, you guys. Last night Lucas and I dared to go out, sans kids.  

Grant made sure to make the babysitter pay. And he's going to make sure this never EVER happens again by attaching himself to me permanently.

Drink coffee? How dare I. Go to the bathroom alone? Not a chance.

This kid has it all figured out. Cling desperately to mama and never let go and I will never leave again. 

That's how it works, right?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Loves of My Life

I wish I could take a picture of Harper's star-crossed, innocent eyes, right before she lays a big slobbery kiss on my lips.

I wish I could keep Grant's feet all big and Hobbit-like.  Chubby, squishy, smooth, and creamy white.

I wish I could bottle up my little Avery bounding through the door each day- with what seems like energy for days.  Jumping, running, and yelling at the top of her lungs right until the moment when her head hits the pillow.  Her face so peaceful, so captured by a dream, an earthquake wouldn't wake her.

I wish I could turn to look at Norah's face and always see the hollowed out places where teeth have fallen out.  The gap-ey toothed grin of a little girl coming into her own. Half grown-up-looking in her determined stare; half little girl, with a ragged, worn, blanket, still dragging behind her lanky, growing frame.

Time is getting away from me.  I feel it in my own body: the beginnings of wrinkles and little aches and pains.  The passing of years harder and harder to distinguish from one another.

But, most of all, I see it in them.  And I want every good thing for them.  A full, long, happy, healthy life. Including growing up-even if it means moving away from me.  Knowing freedom, and challenge, and the truest of loves.  I want it all for them...

But I also want NOW to last forever.  Because I see it, moving faster and faster away from me.

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Their childhood, our family, our life. Under one roof.  Huddled around one table. Cuddled onto the couch.  Crammed into one car.  The loves of my life.  Here.  With me.  Each day. Now.
Norah chose me as the guest of honor for her special Valentine's lunch at school.  I brought a vase of flowers, champagne flutes with sparking lemonade and a table cloth.  She and her bestie were thrilled.

These shoes unexplainably almost always make me want to sob. G is growing so fast.
Love him.

Harper pretending to be asleep when I went to unbuckle her from her carseat the other day.  I love that she knew this was joke.

Avery wrote us this sweet Thank You note all on her own. This is the good life, folks.