Archive for June, 2012

“What I need is one hour of help in the garden and then you can read all day.”


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At 3:00 today two things happened. First we received a call from my sister that Grandma passed away.

Moments later an email came in and we read that a very special little girl, who we were praying for, made it through her surgery.

There was a 20% chance that the beautiful girl who pulls her oxygen tank around the soft ball diamond and made her first communion with Truman would survive.

We all cried a little and we all laughed a little and we all feel a little closer to God. Anna Mae says we are “sappy”… Sad and happy at the same time as we take it all in.

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I tend to just write about the happy stuff. I don’t really like to put the sad stuff on paper. I guess it makes it more permanent, but today that’s what I want…

In March my Grandma celebrated her birthday. For the past few years I got to plan a little party for her.

The location is always the same – Saint Camillus – that place on Bluemound across from the zoo. Everyone knows where it is – but I bet not so many people know it like my family does. Uncle Jerry told me last night that it beca20120619-093243.jpgme the family gathering spot when we cousins were born. It was such a part of my life, I figured they had been going there forever.

Uncle Bob lived at Saint Camillus for twelve or so years before I started the next generation. “Bobby” was Grandma’s oldest son – the first of five. He had a cool wheelchair, lots of friends, a great sense of humor and cerebral palsy. It wasn’t weird or uncomfortable to spend part of every holiday season at the nursing home. That’s where Uncle Bob lived and he was family. It’s what we did.

At some point after I graduated from college, when I was busy learning how to be a wife and figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up, my grandma decided to sell her house and move to Saint Camillus. She did not suffer from anything except maybe a stronger dose of practicality than anyone else I’ve ever met. Uncle Bob lived there and she would not have to shovel. Seemed logical to her and we all went with it.

As our family grows and a new generation of children arrive, we continued to gather at Saint Camilla’s. A few years ago Uncle Bob died, but Grandma had already made up her mind that we would come to her. That was all she really ever asked of me and honestly it was already part of the routine. So now my kids and their cousins are used to celebrating holidays and Sundays and the first part of a zoo trip at the nursing home so we could see Grandma.

Things are changing. I realize that a stop at Saint Camillus might not continue to be on the agenda. It will be part of saying good-bye to Grandma . It will be the end of a tradition that she thought was really important.

I could tell you about all the good things; the character, the appreciation, the compassion that came with those visits. For me however, it feels like more. It has become a symbol of family and tradition. Our routine. It’s a place that will always feel like home, even when it’s not where we go.

It’s permanent. A part of Grandma, it’s a part of me.


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Yesterday at the pool Cole was giving Grace a horse ride and the two were giggling like mad. It was the coolest things to see Grace finding value and fun in her older brother.

It’s not typical. Grace always chooses Anna Mae for help and Truman to mother. They both would like an occasional break from baby sister duty. Every time I suggest, “Cole could help you with that..” Grace wiggles up her nose and refuses. She has been doing this since birth and I think Cole is just used to it.

Last week the two headed up to the lake for Grandma and Papa time and to see cousins in a musical. I noticed a change then – Grace asking Cole questions – trusting him – seeking him out – but it was not until yesterday that I really saw them having fun together.

Being the oldest and adoring my baby sister – it is one of my parent wishes that my kids love each other as much as we love each of them. I didn’t want that moment to go by and not be mindful of just how cool it was…


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father’s day







Happy Father’s Day Tim… Thank you for the laughter, the love, the lounge chair afternoon. I know it wasn’t the perfect day, but it was a really good together day.

I love our family. I love watching you be a dad. I love that you can’t say “no” to ice cream.

I was thinking about your Dad too. I wish he were here to tell you that he is proud of you.

I wish I remembered to tell you more often. I’m glad we got to tell you today
that your a really great dad
we love you!

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This afternoon Grace had her kindergarten screening. In anticipation her sister has been providing “Anna Mae” university. It’s been an intensive review of numbers, shapes, letters, name writing, and coloring within the lines. Most important has been the body part training. Primarily because the only question Anna Mae missed at her screening was, “Where is your jaw?” Apparently, my competitive daughter was determined to redeem herself through her baby sister.

We are happy to announce that the training paid off. It was intense, as the well rehearsed question was asked at the very end. Grace was ready and answered perfectly!

I giggled and dear Mrs. Lovejoy caught on right away, “Grace, let me guess, has Anna Mae been working with you?”

“Yes, Anna Mae is a very smart sister,” answered the very proud Grace.

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Looks like that will be the theme for the rest of the year. New schools, a full time job, my baby going to kindergarten; it’s all about change. Truly, the kids are a ton more resilient to all of it than I am. For them it’s just a bump in the road. A new wake up time or a yellow polo instead of blue hardly gives them pause.
For me however, it feels like much bigger. I’m still holding on to the details surrounding the moment Cole was born and wondering how is it that he’s already headed to middle school. I’ve been here picking up his laundry for eleven years, but it seems like parenting is still new – something I’m still learning how to do.
I listen to my sisters who have little babies. They crave rest and routine and I know my advice,
“Don’t close your eyes any longer than you have to. You will miss this part of your life so much. Hold onto every moment”
…does not penetrate through their sleep deprivation.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps they will be like my mom who cheered the passing of summer vacation each year, sitting in a lounge chair holding her orange juice as if it was a cocktail, toasting the bus as it arrived to take us back to school.
I choose to believe some of that was just for show. Perhaps I am re-writing history, but I’d like to think that her zest for “moving on” was a coping skill. She was willing to accept it and find the good in what’s coming. Not totally a bad example as I get used to all this change…

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morning bike ride


It was a very good start to the week… Done teaching until fall and looking forward to more mornings like this.

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