Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 22nd

My first little butternut squash bruiser of a baby turned 9 yesterday. That boy fills us with pride almost every day. He's such a good, good, boy. I'm kind of hard on him and I keep trying to stop, but haven't been too successful. When I drop the need to see perfection in him, we enjoy each other so much.

He had several friends over and had a low-key party. I had no intention of giving him a party but that slick guy worked one out of me. He is easy to please, and that makes it more fun to please. They played a few water games, jumped on the trampoline, ate pizza, watched a movie/puttered around and then went home. It was low stress for us, and thoroughly enjoyable for all of them.

AJ also turned 5 months
yesterday. I left my camera in Missouri over Spring Brea
k so I don't have a good camera and with a wiggly baby, it is hard to get a good shot.

I kept my mind busy yesterday, which is a problem for me, but a well-honed coping mechanism as well.

A year ago my mom was here, the picture of health....beautiful, vibrant, lovely, full of life. She spoke at Bo's baptism and stole the show. She jumped on the trampoline with the kids. We hunkered down in the basement for TWO DIFFERENT tornado warnings. The kids read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" with her and J's parents. J's mom laughed and laughed and laughed and my mom loved watching her friend laugh so much, and her grandchildren enjoying our unfinished, stinky, no-good-place-to-sit basement.

I was standing in the kitchen cutting watermelon and my mom went out the back door alone to jump on the trampoline. She had a nagging cough and it worried her. She knew it was a tumor pressing on her neck, but she'd had the tumor for 40 years. She noticed that she hadn't coughed much at my house, so she thought maybe the bouncing on the trampoline helped. 75 years old, she went outside to jump on the trampoline. She was alone and lost her footing and really hurt her leg. She came back inside about 10 minutes later and when I looked up she said, "I am not the same person who just went outside 10 minutes ago." She had really hurt herself, but she always downplayed her own suffering.

My mom was neurotic about privacy and imposing on people. My in-laws stayed downstairs on our guest bed and my mom stayed upstairs in Avee's room. She and my father-in-law had hatched a plan to notify one or the other that they were ready to go in the morning. The plan had to avoid waking anyone else, AND allow for each to have their privacy. They got up and left before dawn, we said goodnight the night before. I wish I had hugged her before she left. There was no way to know I would never see her again in the "perfect health" she was in that weekend. When I got up in the morning, there was an empty box on the landing of the stairs. I wondered aloud where it had come from and J informed me of "the plan" he overheard them devising. One of them was to either throw the box up the stairs or down the stairs when he or she was ready, so not to impose on one another's privacy, and to not wake the rest of us. We laughed as we looked at the random box on the landing. That was so my mom.

Last year Bo just had one friend from school over for his birthday. We invited our good friends over, and he had my mom and Jay's parents as well. His friend brought a card, no gift and I'm sure Bo was very curious about what was inside the card. He always got a card from my parents, and a generous gift of money. Bo wasn't sure if friends gave cash too!

So, when he was opening his gifts, he reached for the card that he thought was from Isaac. Only, it was the one from my parents. I will regret for a very long time that I was not videoing this moment. Bo excitedly opened a card that he thought was from another 8 year old boy and read aloud, "To a darling grandson we love so much..." Bo stared at the card, turned it over for the "joke" turned it back, looked up slowly at Isaac and was completely befuddled. Isaac said, "Don't look at me, I didn't give you that!" We laughed so hard when we all realized what Bo had been thinking.

I had so many memorable times with my mom, so many long talks, so many quiet moments, so many, many, moments over the years---and I can't help but feel sorrow that I didn't cherish every moment of her last visit. If only I had known.

I miss her like crazy. I miss her voice and when I hear it (I have a message on my machine), she's so alive. This business of her being gone is far far away. I stopped having dreams about her for a while, but they are back. She's moving fast, she's busy, she's got her finger on the pulse of my life, she's loving, supporting, encouraging, listening, applauding. I miss that in real life, desperately.

I was holding AJ yesterday, looking her over, cherishing her existence, loving every ounce of her squishy, snuggly, perfect little self. In my mind I heard my mom commenting on her. I long for that. I want to know what she thinks. Does she have my sister's coloring, my brother's temperament? Does she think she's a lot like Avee at this age? Does she see a tenacity or a tenderness that I might be overlooking in the everyday business of caring for her? Am I taking things for granted? Am I giving Danyo enough attention? Am I worrying too much about things that don't matter?

She'd always say, "I just did dumb dumb stuff in my 30's. You're so much smarter, so much calmer, so much more confident." I need to hear those words. I know them inside and out because she said them often. But I want to hear her say them.

So yeah. There's that.

Having Bo's friends over, I saw a lot of the personality traits he's picked up, and from whom. They aren't bad traits, they just sort of came out of nowhere, but now I get it. One of his friends had written some kind of creed on how to be awesome. One of the items was "have a catch phrase--my catch phrase is 'bow-chicka-wow-wow', and I'm awesome." Well, I'm certain this little guy doesn't know the origins of that "phrase". He does have older siblings though. Well, of course Bo has picked it up. On a paper he worked on in class he was supposed to draw a picture of someone having success and someone failing (or something to that effect). The failing person had a word bubble that said, "I'm doooooooomed" and the success person's said...yep, you guessed it, "Bow-chicka-wow-wow." Knowing that he just sort of is copying off of his friends, I haven't thought much about it.

Until today. Danyo pulled a piece of candy out of his gift bag and yelled, "Bound chicken wow-wow! I can't WAIT to say that to Emma when she gets back!"

Yeah. Might have to have a talk with him about that. Although, bound chicken is all kinds of awesome. His very own catch phrase.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Things are going well for us here in Iowa. I finished another semester successfully, and given the events of the past few months, that was questionable at times. I am so relieved to be done. Part of me wishes I could do the semester again, a little more plugged in, but I'm glad to have it behind me. I should have taken the semester off, and it was a difficult decision, but I need to be done by next May so that J can start his program, wherever that might be. I have about 7 weeks off from classes and two weeks in, it's everything I hoped it could be and more.

I don't feel less busy, but my house and kids are getting more attention. That makes me happy. A couple of weeks ago Danyo was hounding me to take him on a bike ride. Every time he'd ask, J would stand behind him, shaking his head with warning. Finally J confided, "He's totally crazy on his bike, don't do it." Usually we throw him in the bike trailer with AJ. He can ride a bike without training wheels (it's every bit as cute as you think it might be) so he really wants to ride with the big kids. I finally relented. One morning I strapped AJ into the bike trailer (it's precarious at best, she can't sit up just yet) and set out with Danyo on his bike.

He is crazy. He weaves and peddles like a mad man and I think he looks down a lot at his feet, so no consideration for what's 5, 3, 2 feet in front of him. I spent the entire ride "reminding" and "coaching" him to slow down, watch where he was going, stop weaving, get out of the middle of the road, move over for the other bikes, etc, etc. It was kind of funny. I had the time, and I had been warned, so I was okay with it all. But I see now why J was always shaking his head!

Some of you may not know that Danyo got glasses in February. I set all the kids up for an appointment on a whim, actually. Avee had complained of not being able to see things and headaches, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to get them all checked. I was in Missouri with my mom and had only taken AJ with me on this trip. I got a text from J, "It's a good thing you set up these appointments, Danyo is freaking blind!" I am definitely prone to exaggerated speech, and perhaps I've rubbed off on J, but turns out, he is practically blind in one eye. The optometrist was hopeful we could strengthen it, so his good eye is patched. It's ridiculously cute. He also has taken to putting on the patch himself, which is a whole 'nother level of cute and funny. He looks like this...

You'll notice the patch also covers his nose and comes quite close to covering his other eye. That's my boy!! It's working, his vision has gotten much better in the bad eye, so we keep patching.

Anyway, as we were riding to the park to meet up with friends, I thought that all things considered, Danyo was pretty amazing. 4 years old, 3 mile ride, 2 wheels, 1 eye. That's impressive!

I sat down to blog because I was reading through a composition notebook Bo just brought home and I started laughing so hard, tears were streaming. Bo's work often gets a hearty chuckle out of me, but this one hit my funny bone.The notebook is from his science club. I remember him telling me how they were testing the strength of paper towels by putting washers on them and seeing how many a particular brand could hold, when wet.This is what he'd written: "Exparament: Step 1 wett the papter towels Step 2 put warshers on...I realized as I read it that his teacher very much has the midwest accent and I couldn't stop laughing. He knew they were called washers, but when she was talking, he wrote what he heard her say. I will truly cherish this notebook as the treasure of our Iowa lives that it is.

Last night, Avee was jumping on the trampoline with Danyo and another 4-year-old friend. They found a moth and Avee helped it up and set it free. I actually don't know what they are, but there are THOUSANDS of them flying around right now. Maybe there are moths, I just don't know why there are so many so suddenly. Anyway, she found another one right after that was dead. I wanted to say "good riddance" but didn't because she was so caught up in it.

Unbeknownst to me, she gathered Danyo and his friend and went into the playroom and planned a funeral for the moth. She got each child to contribute a "eulogistic" sentence, and combined, they had a lovely eulogy for the moth they never knew, 15 minutes before.
She put each child's initial after the sentence they contributed. At the end, it was a joint effort, so there were two initials. I love this girl.

I have more stuff, but don't want to run out the attention span of some of my readers. :)

Off to prepare for Bo's 9th birthday. 9 years ago today, I woke up with a back ache. My mom had to tell me I was in labor. Oh what I've learned in those 9 years!