Grandma! Again!

March 2, 2010

That’s right! There’s another on the way!

I’ve been given the green light to share my sunshine…

Nestled safely inside that warm and comfy space is a wonderful little baby. An ultrasound today confirms that our grandberry is ten weeks old, with a nice steady heartbeat. Sarah, Mark, and Asher will welcome an addition to their family, our family, sometime around September 28th.

Sarah is doing great with this news. Laid back and patient. Grandma, on the other hand, is thinking about onesies, the Carter’s coupons I got in the mail last week, and trying to remember how it is to have a two year old and an infant. Breathe deep, grandma. Sarah’s got the right idea. All in due time. No pun intended.

Birthday Thoughts

February 28, 2010

My mom would have celebrated her 92nd birthday today. Her name was Viola, a name my daughter shares. Her friends called her Vi. My cousins called her Aunt Vi-lola. My kids called her Gram. Actually, my son first called her mom. Most likely because that’s what he heard me say.

She was widowed at 56, 57 when I married, and just shy of her 76th birthday when she died. I reflect on these numbers now because in my mid-fifties, I often find myself thinking about our similarities and differences. Being a grandmother has given me yet another comparison to draw from, being just a few years younger than when her first grandchild came along.

Except for brief periods of my life, we kept in close contact. When I was in college, we communicated on an “as needed” basis, admittedly more to meet my needs, than hers. After my father’s passing I moved back home. I wish she would have made me stay in school, but she didn’t. Within a year, I set up a household of my own. We loved each other, but didn’t like each other so much when we lived under the same roof. After a brief cooling off period, we spoke to each other almost daily.

It was a small amount of time set aside from a busy day to say good morning, what’s on your plate for the day, and I love you. It’s interesting to think about how communication has changed over the years. In the mid-seventies, the phone was our only option, limited by the length of the coiled cord, and the calling area. Remember long distance? There were no cell phones, but phone booths aplenty, if you had a quarter.  No e-mail, Twitter, Chat, or Facebook to read. For a young mother, there were no mommy-blogs, parenting networks, or Google. It’s hard to remember life without Google. But there was always mom. And she was only a phone call away.

After my brother married and moved away, there was the two of us.  We usually spoke in the morning, and again in the evening. She was alone and there was some comfort in knowing she was up for the day or home for the night. As she grew older, it was a necessity. But for the most part, I wanted to share my life with her. Still, after all these years, when something exciting happens I get the urge to pick up the phone and call, quickly followed by the sad realization that she is not there anymore to answer. And then I miss her.

Truth be told, she depended on me – our family. We helped with the yard work and the odd jobs that needed done. I went out once a week to sweep her hair up into that french curl. Sometimes the kids and I had to set time aside to make the drive out, but it was worth it to her. And as I look back, it was worth it to us, as well. As she got older, she would talk about how hard it was to get up and down the stairs. Now I walk the same stairs daily, and I understand. Often, more often lately, I find myself thinking this house is too big to keep up, and I understand. I think of my kids, and I understand.

It really wasn’t much different a relationship than most of my friends had with their mothers, back in the day. In fact I tested this theory with my friends at work and found that to be true, even today. For some time, I carried a sense of guilt about the close relationship I had with my mom. Perhaps over the years it had been at the expense of my family. It’s baggage I’ve decided not to carry around anymore. It seems like a little thing, but there is great comfort in this resolution. Sharing the sometimes menial details of our day-to-day lives was a good thing.

Finally there is a sense of satisfaction here. It was time well spent, even if only for two people. My mom and I.

On Ice

February 21, 2010

The forecast is calling for snow and rain this evening, changing to snow and sleet, continuing through tomorrow with a total accumulation of four to eight inches. I’m one of those strange birds that loves the cold and snow, but I’m finding out this winter that I don’t do so well with ice anymore. I’ve fallen three times so far. The first time I fell to my knees on the driveway trying to get to John with his cell phone for a school call. The second was also in the driveway, on my way to the car heading off to work. We keep the driveway pretty clean, so that’s not the issue. In fact, maybe we keep it too clean. The third was Friday night on the way into a local restaurant. The last two times I ended up on my rump. I’m so grateful for ibuprofen.

It’s a little disconcerting, to say the least. I didn’t think much about it after the first one, or really, the second. But after Friday the only thing I can think of is that commercial where the little old lady says, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”! At least it doesn’t happen in the house, as well. It’s a very humbling experience. Mother Nature – 3, Gene – 0. Moreover, it’s an embarrassment. Sure hope none of my neighbors had their camera ready when I went down. I might end up on the world wide web, like this poor guy.

The sad fact is that I grew up on the ice. From the time I was old enough to don the double blade skates, my dad had me out on the ice at my grandmother’s house on Lake Dale. Before that, I slid around in boots. He would clear a big space so I could skate while he would ice fish. I would move from his space to mine with ease, and enjoyed every minute of it. We also skated on Turkey Creek, the little winding stream behind our house. Ah the memories we made there. I hung up my skates when my kids were in elementary school, but never ever had a fear of the ice. Maybe that’s really the issue. I like to think of myself as invincible. I don’t like thinking that I can’t move around with the same confidence and freedom that I’m accustomed to. Hate that.

And I don’t want to use the O.L.D. word. Not yet anyway. I’m thinking I might give these a shot. No laughing. Better to bruise my psyche rather than my posterior. Again.

my life according to dylan

February 20, 2010

or, listening to music like we did back in the day.

Dilling posted this meme few weeks ago, and today I had the time and good fortune to do the same. While fiddling around in the music, an interesting thing happened…

Using only song titles from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions…
Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think!
Post as “my life according to (band name)”

In order to be successful, I would need to pick an artist that I liked, but more importantly, one that is a prolific writer. Bob Dylan fit the bill, although the true Dylan fan in our twodom is John. My taste in Dylan has progressed like my taste in wine. My friend Rita calls it “a more mature a palette”. I found a CD I really like a couple years back. That was all it took.

John sent me to My Back Pages, the ultimate website for Dylan fans, where I ended up in a mire of titles and lyrics. Then I had to listen to the songs. So we tapped his CD collection and he hooked me up to the links, by album. As I write, we are listening to Blood on the Tracks, Tangled Up In Blue. I love that song. Best of all, as we listen to the CD, I’m reading the lyrics. READING THE LYRICS! Flashback to the vinyl days when there was actually print large enough to read. Ah, those were the days!

In the midst of all of this, I sucked John into blogging again. He agreed to let me pull his blog into WordPress, and as I write, he is working on the same list I am. I can’t wait to compare his post to mine…

Bob Dylan
Just Like a Woman
Tough Mama
Like a Rolling Stone
Girl of the North Country
On The Road Again
Down the Highway
Forever Young
Shelter from the Storm
New Morning
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
Simple Twist of Fate
If Not For you
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Summer Days
Gotta Serve Somebody
The Times They Are A-Changin
I Shall Be Released
Blowin in the Wind
You Gotta Quit Kicking My Dog Around
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

Road Trip

February 18, 2010

Traveling North last weekend was a great and wonderful adventure for us. We’ve been on many trips together, some with John’s children when they were younger, but for the most part it’s just been the two of us. We’ve developed a sort of a rhythm to traveling together. Up early, out on the road, usually without much of a plan. We stop when we find something interesting, eat when we are hungry, and are in bed pre-midnight, adjusting as needed. Footloose and fancy free. This was our first trip in many years with a toddler.

We made reservations a month ago at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan, for four. And a half. We conceded to bringing Asher’s parents along for the ride. Just kidding. There’s no way I would have even attempted this without his parents. It would have been like traveling to a foreign land. Without a translator.

Thanks to a good friend, who has a son, who works for a car rental agency, we got a tremendous deal on a vehicle that would hold luggage, a pack and play, a stroller, food, four adults, and a car seat. And several bottles of wine on the return trip. John was in road warrior heaven. He began his period of mourning the minute we returned the auto Monday night.

It had eight cylinders, four wheel drive, and all kinds of bells and whistles that I was not the least bit interested in. It made a big roar when he stepped on the gas. He did, too. Even Asher couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. It’s a man thing.

The indoor water park was outstanding. So outstanding that I didn’t stop to take any pictures. Fail, as Sarah would say. By time I realized I didn’t have any, it was five minutes to closing on the last night. But the pictures I have in my mind will last a lifetime. His trunks were bright blue and orange, and he wore a navy latex short-sleeved shirt. The lodge provided a bright yellow life jacket with an inflated collar, and a handy little black loop on the back that was just perfect for tethering a toddler. His smile was contagious, yummy, and forever. He never stopped, from the first time his little feet hit the water soaked floor, until we lifted him up for the last time to head back to the room. Each of us took turns following him from the toddler pool, to the fort – complete with all kinds of water filled fun, to the adult pool, back to the fort, then to the toddler pool, then to the fort…get the idea?

He spent most of his time in the room trying to get out the door to get back to the park. No kidding. We had to use the bolt, and when he figured that out, we used the latch, which allowed enough of an opening to make the longing even worse. Not to mention pinched fingers. We were pretty lucky to come away unscathed.

I would like to say that after considerable prodding, on the last evening I did go down one of the water slides in a double inner tube with John. Twice. Sarah said she could hear us screaming all the way down. Both times. I loved it. Naturally, he hit the slides as soon as we got there. That’s one of the things I love about him.

As for traveling with a toddler, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It took some adjustment, on his part as well as ours, but he was a trooper. As for John and I, a wise old soul named Jane once told me when I struggled with my first child, “The best parent is one that has been there before.” After all these years, it’s perfectly clear. We understand all of the bumps and grinds that are a toddler. We’ve been there before, and love going there again.

firing on all cylinders:

February 8, 2010

having all its cylinders working and thus providing the maximum amount of power. The old car is firing on all cylinders despite its age. This thing’s not hitting on all cylinders –  The Free Dictionary.

One of the things I enjoyed most about last week was watching how my grandson connects thoughts. That’s the neat thing about grand-parenting. Living a distance away that allows for snapshots of development, I am constantly intrigued by things I took for granted with my own children.

His mother told me to have the waffles ready when he got up in the morning or he would cry crocodile tears. I had the waffles ready, but I forgot about the cup of milk. He instantly opened the drawer where the plastic cups are stored and offered one up to me for filling. He scooted into the living room when he was finished eating and when I called him back to get his hands washed, he responded by walking back to me,  then shifting the cup from one to the other while I wiped them off. When the television screen went blank, he looked at me and then the screen with hand extended.

At not quite 18 months, the thought process is all there even though it is not displayed verbally. At least not in any form that I can understand. Yet we communicated wonderfully. I loved watching how he thinks through things and adjusts appropriately. Friday afternoon I sliced an apple and asked him if he would like a piece. He had the cup in one hand and a car in the other. He handed the cup to me, put the apple in his mouth, took the cup back, and headed into the living room to watch television. This car is firing on all cylinders despite its age.

This thing’s not hitting on all cylinders. Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

I’m a Hoosier, darn it.

February 7, 2010

We are a Colts household. We plan our days, from the beginning of football season to the bloody end, around when the Colts play. If an unmovable force presents itself during game time, although few and far between, we tape the game and stay up to the wee hours to see it through. John dons one of three Colts hats and his worn-out royal blue sweatshirt with the familiar horseshoe on the front every game day. Even if I’m not downstairs watching the game, I can tell how we’re doing by the whoops and hollers resonating up through the floorboards into the living room.

There’s a large contingency of Bear fans from “The Region”, which is understandable given the proximity of NW Indiana to Chicago. That would not be us. We’re Hoosiers. We’ll cheer on the Bears, but only if the Colts are out of the picture. I’m not fickle. I have the same allegiance to my hometown high school sports teams, even though I work in a neighboring school district. That’s just the way it is.

Most of the Bears fans I know have now become Saints fans. That’s not surprising. I don’t think it’s so much that they like the Saints, but that they’re for anyone that plays the Colts. Actually I have some pretty sinister feelings about Notre Dame, probably related to Digger Phelps and the four corner stall or maybe even some obnoxious alumni, so I guess I can’t call the Bears fans out. Then there’s the Purdue alumni that would like to see Drew Brees take the Saints to a Super Bowl win. I get that, too.

There has been exceedingly heavy sentiment in the press for New Orleans – the real “feel good” story. That’s the hard part for me. Like many other folks, I have a soft spot in my heart for NOLA. I have love letters that my parents wrote to each other while my dad was stationed there, before shipping off to war. And a box of memories from a visit my mom made to see him before he left. John and I loved everything about New Orleans when we visited, and to see the devastation of Katrina was heart-wrenching. I rooted for the Saints in the playoffs, as well as the Colts. New Orleans needed the win, and besides, it just felt good. This was fine a few weeks ago, but today it presents a bit of a dilemma. Because I’m a Hoosier, darn it. And no matter who wins the Super Bowl, the other has to lose.