Showing posts with label birthdays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birthdays. Show all posts

September 19, 2013

Unplanned? Unwanted? Unbelievable!

Today's post is inspired by Mama Kat: Tell the story of your birth.

I am child number four in a family of five children. As the only girl, you'd think I'd have a leg up on my competition...but it wasn't that way at all.

I was not a planned addition to the family. When I was in my 40s, my mom told me that she never wanted me, but my dad did. Like I needed that verbal confirmation - her actions over the decades spoke louder than any words that came from her mouth that day. And I always knew my dad loved me, no matter how hideous I was at my birth.

NOTE: Based on comments I'm receiving, I'm afraid that nobody is seeing the goodness and humor in my story. Trust me - writing about my less-than-ideal launch made me smile - it was all kinds of ridiculous, and resulted in zero difficulties in my physical development.

Anyway, back to my debut:

My mom went into labor when she was almost eight months' pregnant with me. She went to the hospital and was admitted. Back in the olden days, childbirth took place in labor wards. There was no private room, and no escape from the moans and screams of other laboring women, a flimsy curtain around each bed was the one semblance of privacy and method of maintaining one's dignity while the lady bits are open to the air.

As she was settled into her bed, labor stopped. She was moved to a regular room (semi-private, at best). For the next week, she was shuttled back and forth between the labor ward and her room, as labor started and subsequently stopped. Premature babies didn't fare well back when I was born, and everyone was hopeful that she could continue the pregnancy as long as possible.

On the seventh day, Dr. Newman, her OB, told her "You have a tumor. There are no signs of life."

On her eighth day of confinement, labor started again. But Mom had had enough of this nonsense. She endured the pain until she was nearly ready to deliver. In the rush to get her to the delivery room, I was almost born in the elevator on that April day. 

As was the practice, she was drugged into near unconsciousness and I was born.

At birth, I weighed four pounds, I.don' My arrival into the world was not without its setbacks. My head was misshapen; my mom always said that part of the back of my head was attached to adhesions she had. 

Apparently, my appearance was so horrifying that they threw a blanket over me and whisked me away in an incubator. My mom didn't see me for the first two days of my life.

During this time in history, fathers were not welcome in labor and delivery. My dad was at home with my three older brothers when I was born - they baked cookies. My dad called the hospital to find out if he had another mouth to feed. The nurse who took the call told my mom, "If I had thought about it, I'd have told him that the baby was not like all the rest, so he'd know he had a daughter."

My dad and brothers all came to the hospital. My mom waved to the boys from her window (since children were not allowed to visit). My ten-year old brother Terry, wanting to be helpful, yelled, "Mom, we brought your girdle!"

When my dad went to the nursery to see me, another dad who got a look at me asked, "Is she retarded?" 

That new dad got a bit of sensitivity training from a nearby nurse.

And thanks to the wonders of not-so-modern medicine, I have only a small bump and scar on the back of my head from the repairs that were made to help me approximate the appearance of a human. I spent an extra 10 days in the hospital until I gained enough weight to be discharged.

From this inauspicious beginning, I went on to give birth to three tumors children of my own. Talk about your metastasizing - mine continue to grow outside my body!

And in the end? Arnold was right.

July 16, 2013

Looking for a Few Good Men (and Tiny Baby Men)

Yesterday was the Young Man Previously Known as The Boy's (TYMPKatB) first full day of his eighteenth year, and the US Government is already after his ass.

Creative Commons by SavaTheAggie

A Marine recruiter called and asked TYMPKatB if he's at all interested in a career in the military. 

"I'm going to give the phone to my mom."

Being (in TYMPKatB's own words) "a tiny baby man", the phone was passed to me, and I talked to the eager recruiter.

"My son has an autism diagnosis and a bipolar disorder diagnosis. I am pretty confident that he'd never meet your requirements." The recruiter apologized for calling and ended the call.

Can calls from Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard be next?

With all this talk about the inefficiencies and red tape inherent in the Government, how the hell did they manage to call ONE DAY AFTER HE TURNED 18? How did they get our phone number? Our phone is not listed in his name (not even his last name).

Coincidentally, yesterday was grandson Cameron's eighth birthday. He and Jordyn had an exciting day.

Here they are, suited up:

Here's Cameron in action:

Cameron loves all things car-related (and all things related to Disney's Cars franchise). He didn't seem at all nervous while the car traveled 80 MPH around the track, even though his expression doesn't change during the entire video.

But he did have some trouble with the noise while he was waiting his turn:

I expect NASCAR to call them today for a job in the pit crew, at the very least. 

July 14, 2013

After a 37 Year Sentence, I Get A Reprieve

I've been legally and morally responsible for one or more of three children for the past 37 years. I started this gig during the Carter administration. Who'd have ever thought that I'd still be mothering a child after all this time?

Boy, am I tired.

Thirty-seven years of vigilance...and counting.

Eighteen years ago, I embarked on my most treacherous adventure, when I gave birth to The Boy via emergency c-section.

Both of us came close to dying that morning...but we made it. We're stubborn like that.

And now, The Boy has reached the milestone of adulthood (according to the law).

There were times when I thought that one or both of us would not make it.

I guess I shouldn't call him The Boy anymore...he's a young man now. He's not ready to take the world by storm, but he is making good choices and maturing nicely over the past year, so I have some hope.

I've seen the statistics on adults with autism, the odds are stacked against him as far as employment and living independently go...but he's reached further and higher than many experts thought he would to get where he is now.

Yesterday, he announced that he has plans to go to college and study drama - and I'll do all that I can to help him realize that dream.

He's not well-known now, but someday, maybe he'll have his fifteen minutes of fame. In anticipation of his eventual dramatic success, he's already perfected his autograph.

I was just happy he learned how to write his name in cursive.

We'll be lunching at iHOP (his choice); one of his friends from school will joining our celebration.

And sometime during the week, maybe he'll get his state ID card, and he'll sign up for Selective Service (though he'd never pass the mental health portion of the exam, thank God).

In a month, he starts his Senior year of high school.

The world is his oyster.

And I am now mother only to adult weird is that?

Happy Birthday, Boy Young Man! I love you!

Creative Commons,  gurdonark

June 21, 2013

Feeling Nostalgic...and Old, I Guess

On Saturday, Shannon, my oldest child, will be 37 years old.

How did this happen, when I'm still in my cough 40s?

I was telling the Mister how I don't feel old enough to have a daughter who's inching close to 40 herself.

"Oh, you're plenty old enough. You're confusing age with maturity."

Whatever, you old fuddy duddy.

He apparently thinks that his curmudgeonly demeanor is superior to my sense of spontaneity and childlike wonder. I didn't try to disabuse him of this notion. I think he's kind of cute (and more prone to do what I want) when he's delusional.

I started thinking about what I miss when I was a young first-time mother - and what parts of the experience I'm glad to have put behind me.

I miss hanging damp clothes on the line in the backyard while Shannon played
I don't miss damp clothes from leaky diapers and puking baby

I miss walks to feed the ducks, and the happy chatter that often took place
I don't miss the semi-regular tantrum that would occur when all the bread was gone

I miss snuggling together on the couch to read or watch TV
I don't miss reading books "again and again and again", as Shannon was fond of saying

I miss watching Mister Rogers' gentleness, and singing along to the songs (I still remember most of the lyrics of several songs)
I don't miss seeing Bob Dog on the show, he was just weird

I miss Shannon's bathtime, which was followed by more reading and drowsy snuggling
I don't miss the fit she would pitch if even one drop of water got in the vicinity of her face when I rinsed her hair

I miss the smell of Johnson's baby shampoo in her curls
I don't miss the smells of poopy diapers, puke, or baby vitamins

I miss watching Shannon reach milestones and master new skills
I don't miss the maternal stress I felt, wondering if I was doing enough to keep her safe and happy

I miss holding her in my arms while we sat in the rocking chair in the dark
I don't miss the many nights we cried together, sleep not even a remote possibility

I miss seeing the world through Shannon's eyes, and re-awakening the wonder in mine
I don't miss "Why Mommy, why?" approximately 769 times a day

I miss the toys - Fisher-Price had some of the best junk
I don't miss the unending job of picking up said toys (and Barbie shoes are from the Devil)

I miss holding baby Shannon while she slept - watching her grin in her sleep
I don't miss the many sleepless nights, and laying with her in her twin bed every night for a couple of years, just so I could get some "me time"

I miss the sense that I was doing something.that.mattered
But I don't miss the overwhelming sense of responsibility, the anxiety that I was doing it all wrong, and the fear that I was a failure as a mom

Obviously, I wasn't a complete failure, right? Even though I often told her she was my "practice child" - the one who had to suffer through all of my newbie mistakes, she survived. She went to college and had jobs and is married and has two wonderful children. And on Saturday, she can celebrate her birthday and worry about her own kids...they're in her capable hands.

Happy Birthday, Shannon! I love you!

May 15, 2013

Seth is FIVE!

Today is Seth's birthday. I love this kid. I especially love to talk to him. His leaps in logic are funny and his observations on life are priceless. 

He likes Mickey Mouse, Hot Wheels, Legos - and The Sound of Music.

His favorite toy is his tablet PC. He can go on and on about his favorite apps - and he takes great pleasure in the fact that he can beat my score on every game I've tried to play. Seth is interested in my game-playing ability, and wants to help me improve my performance by grabbing the tablet from me helping me. "I'll show you how to do it, Grandma!"

He normally isn't allowed to drink colored sodas - in his world, they are "grownup sodas". 

At a recent birthday, he drank Pepsi. His mom said, "Seth, you had a grownup soda?"

"I didn't even turn into a grownup."

He can count to 100...repeatedly...and he does at every opportunity.

Just in case I thought I was his favorite person, he clarified my position I hold in his heart by telling me, "You're not my best friend, Grandma. I only love you. Daddy is my best friend."

When I went to their house one morning, Seth was concerned about the fact that I hadn't had breakfast. He gave me a granola bar, and offered to get me some applesauce.

Seth - making a yummy dinner
When The Mister and I went to a Grandparents' Day celebration at his preschool, we went to Mass before visiting his classroom. Seth is a talker - a BIG talker. He talked about stuff the entire way through the school and into the parking lot.

When we approached a gate close to the church he said, "Grandma, when we get to the gate, we have to be silent." Silly me - I expected him to stop talking after we walked through said gate, but he continued his verbal monologue about the priest's dog and other interesting facts.

He talked (a bit quieter) during most of Mass, too, asking me why we didn't kneel when everyone else did, and why we didn't go up to the communion rail.

When he visited us on Mother's Day, he spent most of his time playing games on my laptop. "Type Kizi, Grandma. Not Kizi100, just Kizi. K-I-Z-I." When he tired of the games, he jumped on The Boy (who was laying on the floor). The Boy, not accustomed to the typical roughhousing of little boys, was not pleased about the attention.

Since it's Seth's birthday, he gets to pick the restaurant for his birthday dinner. Tonight, we'll go to Chili's to celebrate (he and brother Russ will have a joint birthday party next month). Seth loves sharing his party with baby Russell - he thinks that Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital and got Russell as a gift for Seth.

Seth is growing up too fast, and will be in Kindergarten in the fall. I can't wait to hear his well-thought out words of wisdom tonight.

I'm glad he's here to teach me.

April 24, 2013

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice - That's What Little Girls (and Wrinkly Old Women) are Made Of

Flickr, Creative Commons, courtesy of Will Clayton
On Saturday, our newest granddaughter joined the family. Yay!

She arrived a week after her due date - I'd done my best not to be the anxious Grandma who asked "Are you having contractions yet? What did the doctor say? Have you tried riding over train tracks? Zumba? Jumping Jacks?"

I can report that the baby is perfect - and perfectly adorable. 

Mommy and Daddy are happily settling into first-time parenthood. The Boy was thrilled to hold his one-day old niece (he'd never held a brand-new baby before), though he was afraid that he'd "screw up". 

Thus began the five day Female Family Birthday Festivities!

On Monday, my sister-in-law and I both celebrated our birthdays. Nancy turned 70; I turned  the ripe old age of 56. How the hell did we get this old? Nancy and I lamented about our decidedly un-hip decrepitude over the phone. Then I asked, "How did our kids get as old as they are?" The fact that our children are at or near middle age (except The Boy) made us feel a bit better about things. In fact, it made us feel younger and better about ourselves...until Nancy mentioned that we shared our birthday with Jack Nicholson (he's 76). She and my brother Stan always thought Mr. Nicholson was much older than they were.

"Does that mean we look a lot older than we think we do?" Hmm, so much for feeling better about our advancing ages.

Today (4/24/13), our oldest granddaughter Desiree turns Sweet 16! Though I've only been part of the family for a few months short of five years so far, Desiree has always made me feel welcome.

When I came to St. Louis for a visit back in 2007, Desiree cleaned her room - and she gave up her bed for my use (she slept on the couch). When I was returning to NY, I thanked her for her hospitality and I asked her if her room would be clean when I returned to Missouri for good.

"No, I won't clean it next time."

"Why not?"

"Because then you won't be a visitor, you'll be Grandma."

And true to her word, I've rarely seen Desi's room looking as neat as it did on my first visit...and my transition to Grandmahood was practically seamless in my new family.

As the oldest grandchild, Desi is the trailblazer and the first to navigate through childhood calamities and pangs of adolescent angst. I've noticed how much she's matured in the last year or so, and expect her young adulthood to be an exciting time of exploration and continuing self-awareness. From this Grandma's perspective, she'll do just fine. 

Having grandchildren is so much easier than being the parent - we get to experience the joy, dole out the love, but avoid the whole messy parental responsibility thing. We dispense unconditional love (and marvel at how perfect and funny these kids are) and have none of the worries about consequences and discipline - in short, it rocks!

In July, we'll have the male equivalent of multiple birthday celebrations when five (more if I count nephews) birthdays fall in a single week.

So as we celebrate a birth and birthdays, from our youngest member to those of us who have blown out candles on more cakes than we'd like to remember, I am grateful for each year (and slightly less so for each new wrinkle and aching joint), for love and family and every day bringing a new sunrise - and new opportunities to create family memories.

March 03, 2013

One of the Good Guys

Today would have been my dad's 92nd birthday. 

He was one of the good guys.

He wasn't famous, and he didn't earn a lot of money. He worked hard and got dirty, and came home every night to us. He wasn't brash or boastful; he was quiet and shy. He had a sense of humor, though in his quiet way of speaking, you might miss the joke.

He liked to fish and hunt, though he had no deer mounted on the walls, and never caught a record-breaking trout. He liked camping and read Field and Stream and mapped out vacations without telling us our final destination.

Many times, my mother was heard saying, "Not Canada, AGAIN!" as she packed her clothes into whatever camper or motorhome we had at the time.

Back row: Dad, Mom, S-I-L Nancy, Terry. Front row: Greg, me
Our first trip to CANADA - 1963

He didn't ask for directions, so some of our vacations were more scenic than others. One time, we ended up on a deserted stretch of beach and some local kids showed us the turtles that had just hatched. Another time, our Canada excursion included a ride on Quebec's metro - where all the signs were printed in French - and we got lost for a bit.

When a skunk approached our campsite on a trip with our extended family, he ran into the tent with us - and watched in horror as my mother jumped on the picnic table and peed all over the tablecloth...and my Uncle Bob, up there on the table beside her, screamed "She's pissing all over the table!"

My dad was a fixer and a tinkerer. He made my brother Greg and I toys out of a couple of  Tinkertoys, a rubber band and a sliver of soap. We watched those gadgets spin all over the patio. On one vacation, he used a Pepsi can and some wire and fixed a hole in the car's muffler. He liked to play cards and board games (Clue), and always wanted to invent a new game.

He taught me how to spin a top with a string; he helped me learn how to ride my bike, though he couldn't bear to look at my banged up knee when I took a spill and needed stitches. He couldn't stand the sight of blood, and his stomach would turn if we said gross things at the dinner table.

I was daddy's little girl, the only girl in a family of four boys. Dad acted as the go-between with my mother - he negotiated with her about the clothes she bought me (too many ruffles - he called them "pussy things"); he'd give me permission to go places with friends while my mom would say no. He was my "yes man" - I always asked him first.

I learned to say "full of wind, piss and excitement", and "Hell's bells" - some of his favorite sayings. I was his "twerp", his "schnookie".

He was a kind and loving and more affectionate grandfather than father. He often had a grandkid in his lap, and he'd read to them, or they'd sit together and chat. Although he had this thing about nobody touching his hair (his one vanity), he let Shannon and Erin curl his hair with my mom's curlers - and even allowed photographic evidence of the act.

I wish I had that picture - but it disappeared long ago.

My dad died in 1983 - next month, he'll be gone from us for 30 years. There are grandchildren and great grandchildren who will never know this gentle man - and it makes me sad for them. I often tell The Boy that my dad would have been nuts about him. I know that Pap Pap would have been a great role model, and my dad would have loved knowing that there were several other redheads in the family.

Dad's last Christmas - 1982
Mom, Steven, Dad, Todd, Terry
Front row: Stephanie, Erin, Shannon, Tammy

The grandkids, right where they belonged
Before my dad died, he still had travel in mind. After his death, my mom found magazine and newspaper clippings for places he'd like to visit. In his quiet way, he was quite the adventurer...and I've tried to be as much like him as I can.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

November 20, 2012

How Do I Spell Love? Today, I Spell it E-R-I-N

After I gave birth to Shannon, my oldest child, I wondered how I could love any other child as much as I loved her.

Then I had Erin.

And like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day. Funny how our hearts expand like that, allowing us to love bigger and deeper and more.

Today, my daughter Erin is 34 years old.

Of my three children, sometimes I think she's the most like me...and at other times, the most unlike me.

She's wicked smart (as my cousins in MA would say); she's a member of MENSA.

She's sarcastic, she's funny.

She's clumsy. She's broken bones (three trips to the ER for casts). And just last week, she tripped on the neighbor's driveway and sprained her ankle.

In these ways, she's a lot like me (though I am not as smart as she is, and I've not broken bones).

Then, the differences:

She's a neat freak.

She's organized. She's the only kid I know who'd get up early on a Saturday morning to clean out her closet.

She loved the toilet brush I bought her when she was nine.

She's far more ambitious than I am.

She's made me proud and made me laugh. She's caused me to be angry, and to look at things differently.

She's made me better than I was before. Her easy nature as a baby made me feel more confident about my parenting abilities (she was a far easier baby than Shannon was).

Erin's new bright light on that cold November night.

Happy Birthday, Erin! I love you more than words can express. May this year be your best ever!

August 17, 2012

Grocery Shopping Can Be a Killer!

Yesterday afternoon, we finally got some much-needed rain. The storm siren alerted us to a severe thunderstorm alert, and the skies soon opened up. A thunderstorm is my perfect excuse for a nap; I find the sound of the rain drumming against the roof and windows to be relaxing for me. So instead of making The Mister a wonderful birthday dinner AND baking his pineapple upside down cake, I snoozed on the couch.

I woke up at six PM, and no dinner/dessert had miraculously appeared, so I reluctantly agreed to go to the grocery store. Usually, The Mister does our grocery shopping. He's a bargain hunter, and likes to comparison shop. As for me, I'm more of a speed shopper. I just like to get the crap I need and get the hell out of Dodge (or Shop 'n Save, as it were). But since it was his birthday, and I had promised to bake him the cake, and I had neglected to make dinner, I announced that I'd go.

As I drove to the store, the traffic lights weren't working and the darkened sky looked threatening. Bolts of lightning arched across the clouded sky. I went into the store and bought a rotisserie chicken and mustard potato salad for dinner. A couple of rows over, I picked up  the canned pineapple. As I went into the baking aisle for the maraschino cherries, lightning struck again, and the store went dark.

Very dark.

So dark I couldn't see the shelves within arm's length, and I sure couldn't see if anyone was in front of me. Since all of the electricity was out, the store was also eerily silent; no coolers ran, and the constant hum of the overhead fluorescent lights was silent. All of the employees and customers were silent, too. Eerie, that silence. The three or four seconds of darkness seemed to last forever. Immediately, my mind switched into horror movie mode. I was sure that a crazed butcher, his apron already smeared with blood, was headed down my aisle, cleaver in hand. Behind me, silence; the only sound was the beating of my heart. I was sure that his rubber-soled work shoes would make no sound as he came for me.

The lights came back on and I looked behind me - no butcher was in sight, though I could see the double metal doors swinging slightly. I shrugged off my unease and pushed the cart down the aisle. I located the cherries and tossed the jar into my cart, eager to finish my shopping.

I made it to the middle of the next aisle when the store was cloaked in darkness again. Now I was even closer to the meat department and the bloodthirsty butcher who had homicide on his mind. I looked toward the doors but saw no movement. 

If this had been a movie, the ominous background music would have begun. I wished I had paid closer attention to my surroundings - were there other shoppers in my aisle? If so, they were silent. I stood completely still, anticipating the sharp pain in my throat that would allow my life's blood to pool onto the tiled floor.

Again, it was only a few seconds before the power was restored. I hurried to the nearest checkout line. Again, the store was plunged in total darkness. When the power was restored within two seconds or so, I put my purchases on the conveyor belt. While waiting for the customer in front of me to pay for his food, I realized that I had forgotten to buy milk - the one remaining ingredient that I needed for the cake. The cashier put my groceries back into my cart. Grabbing my purse, I headed to the very back of the store to get a half gallon of 2% milk. The lights provided both illumination and comfort, and this time through, I took careful notice of the other shoppers I encountered.

Was the guy with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company tshirt a murderous sociopath? Why did he smile at me? Then there was the guy in the dress slacks and polo shirt - had he lost his job today and was looking to take out innocent shoppers? A well-dressed female behind him steered her cart into my direction - was she an accomplice wanting to corner me near the sour cream?

Her vacant eyes and hideous grin belied the innocence of her apology. "I'm sorry. I really must be careful when turning a corner."

Deranged bitch. I scooted around her cart and hastily chose a jug of milk from the refrigerated case and scurried back to the front of the store. Why hadn't I grabbed my umbrella from the cart's child seat? I could use it to deflect the first blow.

My cart sat abandoned, my items still waiting. I went to the self-service aisle (most of the other registers were rebooting), and a clerk assisted me in checking out.

Oh my God, she's one of them! Look at her leer at me!

I paid for my groceries and finally felt secure - I could see the exit.

If lightning strikes again, will the automatic doors prevent me from making my exit? Will maniacal meat department employees surge toward me, their knives carving me into pieces for a weekend meat sale? Hell, Elvis died on this date, why not me?

Cue Psycho theme music.

Against all hope I made it ran out of the store and into the safety of my car. The sky looked far less ominous...for now.

As I drove past the non-functioning traffic lights, I saw a police officer getting out of his car to direct traffic. I noticed that porch lights were lit in my neighborhood, and I could see the glow of big-screen TV sets through half-opened living room curtains. I breathed a sigh of relief; I knew that I'd be safe...until the next stormy evening - and the "5 for $25 Meat" special.

August 16, 2012

Today is The Mister's Day!

The Mister turns 58 today! 

We'll be lunching at Red Lobster with Tammy today, and will enjoy the Endless Shrimp. Many tasty crustaceans will sacrifice their lives to satisfy our appetites...I'm sure they won't mind giving their all for the bossy guy.

Later, we'll enjoy a slice of Pineapple Upside Down Cake, The Mister's favorite. I hope he doesn't grow accustomed to this level of spoiling!

Though his tresses are mostly gray, and he no longer sports an Afro-like 'do, he still rocks his unique fashion style.

Tom and his girls, love the '80s fashions!

You'll never see him in jeans (he hates them), he does clean up nice.

Walking Tammy down the aisle

He's under the delusion that he's "in charge around here" - see how he is mad with power?

His diabolical plan to control that's gonna work
Despite his maniacal need for control, he can be a good guy - and I'm lucky to have him. He makes me laugh, he drives me nuts...and he keeps me supplied with chocolate and outrageous amounts of Coke Zero.

Most importantly, he tolerates me. What's not to love?

Happy Birthday, Mister!

July 16, 2012

The Latest News and Random Links that May Be Modestly Useful

The News
July is a great month for birthdays
The Boy turned 17 on Saturday. We celebrated with a meal at IHOP, where the waitstaff serenaded him and presented him with a free sundae. For once, he was the embarrassed member of the family.

He'll be a man some day, and can now be charged as an adult in the justice system. Sure, that isn't what most parents think of on their child's birthday, but in his case, it is a constant possibility.

When I talked to granddaughter Jordyn and said that The Boy is almost a man, she commented, "He's almost a grownup teen. He can't be a full grownup until he is 20." She said this as if it was common knowledge, with a hint of 'oh, Grandma Kim, you are so clueless' in her voice. It's a good thing I have her.

Grandson Cameron turned seven on Sunday. He got lots of Cars-related gifts, and it was good. He didn't want cake. There were long pauses in phone conversation - the toys took all of his attention.

July is a great month for unemployment
I have only two more weeks of "wifely vacations" before The Mister's job assignment is over. This event will happen approximately as the same time as the end of summer school.

Think about this a moment.

All three of us, at home, together, all.the.time.

Feel my pain.

Send chocolate.

Links to Sites You May Enjoy (because I'm always thinking about YOU)
Writing links
Use this site to determine how close your story is to becoming a bestseller. Simply copy 1,000 words into the sample box and let the magic happen. 

Read these tips from famous authors, and then write your best stuff. But finish reading this post first, okay? Thanks.

Are you averse to aerobics? Phobic about Pilates? Feel yucky about yoga? I'm right there with you. But fear not, this site will show you simple ways to get in a little exercise without having to wipe another person's sweat off the bicycle seat at the gym. Common sense, practical tips to get you moving without much effort. Who could ask for more than that?

Brand Loyalty - Really?
Before you next trip to the grocery store, take a look at this infographic. Do you have brand loyalty? Can you list the superiority of your favorite brand name products? Look who makes your favorite products.

Books, books and more books
This link opens a page that lists 20 sites that offer free ebooks. As a frugal reader, I love getting free books for my Kindle.

Speaking of books, if you want a thriller that will keep you guessing (and have you changing your mind regarding the guilt or innocence of more than one character), get Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I listened to this as an audiobook which improved my experience with the book.

This link lists one person's opinion of the greatest books since 1990. Give it a you agree? What would make your list?

Random stuff (like the rest of this post isn't perfectly random)
And finally, some totally useless information. Should I be proud or ashamed that I knew several of these facts?

Have some fun!

June 22, 2012

It All Started With the Practice Child...

Shannon with her dad, Cameron and Jordyn
Today is Shannon's 36th birthday. I refer to her as "the practice child". I was a young and foolish mother, and Shannon was my guinea pig for my adventures in parenting. When I made parenting mistakes, I first made them with her, poor child.

I spoiled her rotten, yet I felt that I wasn't doing enough. When she was unhappy, I felt that I had failed her. Maternal guilt filled my mind just as maternal love expanded my heart.

She came out of the womb moody and inconsolable...and I had no bag of tricks to figure out how to make her happy. There were times when we cried together as I rocked her in a darkened living room. 

Sleeping was not her forte - I tried many different approaches to get her to settle into sleep. When desperation was high, I'd strap her into her car seat and drive to Ohio and back, just so I'd have four hours of silence...which ended as soon as I pulled into the driveway.

As a toddler, Shannon was talkative and bossy (I don't know where she gets that from, honestly). Ever curious about the world, I bet she said "What's that?" one thousand times a day; I did my best to answer her questions and honor her requests. I read to her obsessively and recited nursery rhymes and fairy tales with abandon. I was her entertainment, her first playmate, her first teacher (though Chuck Woolery and Wheel of Fortune helped her learn the alphabet).

Shannon enjoyed being an only child - maybe a little too much. When her grandma told her that she had a new sister, Shannon responded, with as much disgust as a two-and-a-half year old can muster, "I don't want to hear it." Thus began her stint as big sister. There were times when I thought none of us would survive the conflicts, especially during her turbulent adolescent years. If I had a nickel for every door that was slammed, I'd be a rich woman now.
Shannon and Erin

She did well in school, though in the beginning, she thought she was never good enough. As her confidence increased, school became more appealing.

Shannon was shy and I was her mediator, easing her into conversations and encouraging her to make friends. When she was in college, she sent me a tape of Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" because she said I was her voice when she could not speak.

Shannon bloomed in college, and threw off her adolescent angst (and Erin picked up the mantle and ran with it). When The Boy was born, Shannon came home on weekends with onesies, and she was a great help after we brought her brother home from the hospital.

Now Shannon is a wife and mother of two of the bestest grandchildren ever. She's still kind of shy, it's just her nature (if only I had recognized that when she was a toddler). I am proud of the woman she is, and so glad that she let me experience motherhood for the first time. I couldn't have done it without you.

Shannon making the "mom face"

Thank you, Shannon, for being you. I love you. Happy Birthday!

May 15, 2012

Seth is Four!

Today is Seth's fourth birthday! He's an amazing fellow, talks like nobody's business, and is very curious and thoughtful. I love getting his take on things, and listening to his own take on things.

Three has been his favorite number because he's three. He used the same logic when he helped me bake a cake, and I let him break the eggs: "There are three eggs in the recipe because I am three, right, Grandma?"

On Saturday, we attended Frank's (Seth's and Russell's dad) graduation ceremony; he earned his MBA. The Mister, The Boy, and I arrived at the Muny, and The Mister and I sat down at the opposite end of the row. The Boy sat at the other end, with Seth.

Maybe about halfway through the ceremony, Seth finally realized we were there.

"Grandpa, what are you doing here? Grandma, you're not supposed to be here - you're supposed to be at home!"

He did not question how The Boy happened to show up at his end of the row.

So he sat on my lap for a while, and he commented about all the triangles he saw (three sides?), and wondered why there was no #3 seat in our row. There must be a #3, since he's three.

Lucky for me, I was sitting in seat four at the graduation - in anticipation of today, of course!

At the post-graduation lunch, Seth announced, "I eated all of my food! I want cake! Everyone, eat faster!"

Later Saturday evening, Frank, Tammy and Seth attended a Cardinals game. It was Seth's first baseball game. When he knew he was going, he told his mom, "Well, I don't know how to play baseball...I'll bring my T-Ball set!"

This evening, we're joining Seth at Texas Roadhouse for dinner. It's his favorite restaurant - he loves the music and the dancing waitstaff.

And next month, he and Baby Russ (who will be ONE) are having a joint birthday party. Seth thinks that Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital to get Baby Russ just for him, so he wanted to share his birthday party with his little brother.

Here Seth and Russ are, in deep discussion:

There's never any jealousy between them, since Russell is his "gift". Seth is such a special boy! Happy Birthday!

Now I need to find a cake recipe with FOUR eggs!

February 02, 2012

Eight is GREAT!

Eight years ago today, in Punxatawney, PA, Phil popped out of his dark home and his shadow indicated six additional weeks of winter.

But Phil wasn't the only creature to pop out of a dark hole and see the light on Feb. 2, 2004:

Granddaughter Jordyn turns 8 today! She's skipping school and will spend some time at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disney World so she can get her princess-y self dolled up. She doesn't know about the Boutique visit, only that she's going to the happiest place on Earth.

That's how I'd describe our house when they come to visit this June!

Shannon and family have a season pass to DW. Thanks, Florida-resident discount!

There was talk of blindfolding Jordyn until they walk to their destination, but I think that may be a bit extreme, not to mention weird.

In anticipation of the trip, Shannon and Aaron bought our little princess a Rapunzel dress.

Who knows? Maybe Jordyn will come home as a blonde with long, flowing locks!

But even without all the Disney pampering and paraphenalia, Jordyn will always be Grandma Kim's princess, for sure.

I better get myself dolled up in case she calls me to jet down to FL for a career-making photo shoot.

Now where did I put those bagpipes?

June 22, 2011

My Baby Turns 35! How Can That Be, When I am Just 39 Myself?

Shannon, my oldest child, is celebrating her 35th birthday today.

Where did all that time go?

Shannon lives in Florida with her husband, Aaron, and their children, Jordyn and Cameron. 

I miss them terribly.

Though I won't be there when she's blowing out candles, I'll be there in spirit. And I'll more than likely sing off-key to her over the phone.

I'm so proud of the woman she's become.

Shannon letting Cameron do the driving
Shannon with Jordyn (sporting sparkly Minnie Ears)

May 17, 2011

The Day I Figured I Was NOT Cut Out for Motherhood

Happy Birthday, Todd!

Thirty-nine years ago today, my nephew Todd was born. It was on that day that I figured I'd never make it as a mother of toddlers.

I had the dubious pleasure, at the ripe old age of 15 (go ahead, I'll wait while you do the math to figure out how old I am), to watch my niece Tammy (four and a half at the time), and her little brother, Terry (16 months old) while mom was in labor, and dad (my brother Terry) was busy at the hospital - and after the birth, was doing his regular shifts at work. Add in visiting hours, and sleep - my brother was useless not a big help to me.

From Wednesday afternoon until that Sunday, when Todd finally joined the family at home, I was in charge.

Those two kids were MY responsibility.

The little tykes ran me ragged. Tammy even escaped from their apartment and took off down the street (while I was busy upstairs, changing yet another diaper).

I found her. She may have only been partially dressed when she made her getaway.

They whined. They cried.

They hated food that I cooked...but they loved the Ovaltine.

When I told Tammy that Todd was born, she hit me.

"I don't want a Todd! I want a Tricia!" (She still remembers doling out that abuse on her favorite aunt).

I had been babysitting since Tammy was an infant, and thought I could handle this assignment.

I whined. I cried. I had Terry puke in my long hair...and they only had a clawfoot tub, and no shower.

I called my mother, asking her to rescue me. 

She didn't.

If this wasn't an endorsement for zero population growth, nothing was.

It wasn't. 

Four years and one month later, I had my own baby.

I whined. I cried. I had Shannon puke in my hair.

She was MY responsibility, and not just for five days.

It was so much fun, I did it again.

 (l to r, starting in the back): Todd, Terry, Erin and Shannon

And seventeen years after I had Erin, I did it a third time, because I don't know when to quit.

Parenting The Boy has been an altogether different experience. Blame it on his gender species "issues", or on my advanced's been a trip, but without the benefit of hallucinogenics.

Finally, I'm at the tail end of this 'responsible for a kid in the house full-time' gig.

Lucky for us, the grandkids visit - and the real fun begins. Grandkids are so much better than your own kids...all the fun, none of the responsibility. Spoil 'em rotten, fill 'em full of junk food, and send them home. It rocks!

I'm glad I didn't listen to the voice in my head that day in May of 1971...I'd have missed out on lots of fun, not to mention lots of slobbery kisses and sticky hugs.

May 16, 2011

Seth Turns Three and Shows Off His Mad Bowling Skillz!

Yesterday was grandson Seth's 3rd birthday. He had an awesome party at a local bowling alley.

 Here's Seth chilling out for his official "look how big I am compared to this alligator" birthday photo.

 His bowling cake. This boy loves to bowl!

 The Mister trying out his hand at pool, thus ending any further association with Minnesota Fats.

Here's Mom (Tammy) hanging out in the Pregnant section of the facility. She looks amazing! Only thirty-five (35) days from her expected due date for Baby Russ!

Seth showing his awesome bowling follow-through stance!

Daddy Frank made Seth his own bowling ball cake. He did an awesome job! Seth eyed the cake longingly while he sang along to 'Happy Birthday to You'.

Seth is such a great kid, and I'm sure he'll be a wonderful big brother to Baby Russ!