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Posts Tagged ‘Grandparents!’

Bob and I are camping out in our tiny Nashville house. We’ve got the fastest internet speed in our whole 38 year old pre-computer history – which is to say Cable…not yet fiber, but at least not a poor DSL country connection. The amount of cussing from my hubby’s mouth has decreased exponentially! This is just a week’s visit, getting some things ready and furniture delivered before our trip abroad and the big move. 

The Bride was sweet to meet us with coffee and wine. She had already unpacked and expanded our Zinus memory foam mattresses for the day bed in the study. The day bed is supposed to come today, hence the “camping out” phrase. I brought just enough linens to survive, and a new sofa from Article should arrive shortly. We can walk to the farmer’s market for lunch, and to a number of great restaurants for dinner. In fact, walkability was a major factor in this move. 

Well that, and two precious grandbabies.

We sent the Bride to camp in the Berkshires after our move to NJ. It was a disaster. The plan was for Bob to be the Camp Doctor for two weeks of the full season, and that part was fine. But no amount of cajoling could placate our ten year old daughter. Her “Take me Home” refrain never stopped and sleepaway camp became a one and done summer activity. The Rocker never stood a chance. 

For my part, I had loved my Camp St Joseph for Girls experience. I became a counselor-in-training there, later a waterfront counselor, and excelled in sports before Title IX. My first platonic boy crush happened one night at a dance across the lake at CSJ for Boys. For many years, well into my 30s, I would dream of camp and they were always dreams that left me happy and fulfilled. Summer camp was a time to build self confidence and strength in an era when young girls had fewer options. 

So even though I’m feeling a little unsettled, somewhere between the mountains and city life, unsteady on my feet, feeling out the neighborhood, I know this will pass. I’m “Heading into the Heart of the Dragon,” as Sally Field once said. Change doesn’t happen without a fight from your former self. This is a first step to finding our beach house; I want to be a waterfront Nana finally. We heard lots of birds singing our first morning in Nashville, and we’ve had plenty of April showers. But the sun is up and…

the universe is expanding as it should. Just look at this super computer simulation of billions of years http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/watch-universe-evolve-over-13-billion-years-180951366/

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When your birth father dies before your first birthday, and your mother is 40 years old that year, the Year of Living Dangerously, and then your adopted mother is ten years older that that, you end up without a grandfather. Well I learned many things due to the circumstances of my birth in a PA coal town. My Nana gave me a certain self-confidence that was sorely needed when we’d visit her on occasion. But I never had a Grandfather; and my children, I was afraid, would follow suit.

Bob’s parents were divorced, and his father basically skipped out on our little family. But Grandma Ada found it in her heart to marry again, when the Bride was two years old. Hudson was a “younger” man, and he lived in Poughkeepsie, so we called him the Poughkeepsie Gypsy, until he packed up his wood carving tools and his pastoral counseling degree along with his African missionary artifacts and moved to NJ. He instantly became the de facto grandfather I’d never had and our kids adored him.

He would drive them around in his truck; he would film their every move with one of the first hand-held, shoulder-mounted video cameras in America; he would cook them breakfast; he would show them how to plant a seed; he would swim with them in the pool and show them how to make a hot tub out of an old bathtub; and of course, he’d teach them how to whittle. To name certain trees, to catch crabs, to fish…

Little did I know Great Grandpa Hudson would eventually send me his official Baptist pastor degree, so he could marry the Bride and Groom on Carter Mountain. Or that their red-headed baby boy would carry on his name.

Bob is doing his best to carry on his step-father’s amazing grandfathering duties when we see our babies. From the WWII sailor who was called “Red” by his shipmates, Bob has learned to slow down time, to feed birds, and turtles. To dry tears. To name bugs and touch them, to teach the Love Bug how to swim. Luckily for me, Bob never picked up the habit of enjoying a good cigar, while patching a roof in the sun. To keep the mosquitoes at bay!

So Happiest of Birthdays Hudson! You’re turning 90 this weekend and friends and family are coming together from near and far to celebrate your extraordinary life. I’m sure Great Grandma Ada will sing your praises, you’ve been her rock through some very hard times. You’ve been her traveling companion for many years, her woodcarver. Her faithful, second-chance, side-kick on the carousel of life. Your marriage was the model many of your patients aspired to have; and still is a beacon of how love works.

I simply want to thank you for being the best Grandpa Hudson to our family. The family you chose, but really, we choose you! And always will. J&M  0596

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Three years ago today we were in Nashville. We had noted, not quite celebrated, Bob’s birthday and were awaiting our first grandchild’s birth. The baby was breech, like her Mama was, and so the Bride was wheeled into the OR in the hospital where both she and her husband had trained. Suddenly, the Groom appeared with the Love Bug in his arms and I could feel a cosmic shift in the universe. Love was expanding.

Over the years she has proven to be very much her Mother’s child

  • She can stand with her hands on her hips and insist on macaroni and cheese.
  • She can be a tiny empath and wrap her little arms around anyone in need of a hug.
  • She can direct her dog, her dolls, her baby brother, and her friends in the nicest way possible.
  • She can organize her toys and plan ahead in a monologue that lasts through a long car ride to preschool.
  • She can swim like a fish, as if the ocean were only blocks away.
  • She can and will choose her outfits with an eye for design and color.
  • She is a tiny dancer and a mixed media artist of the highest caliber!
  • And watch out world, she is starting to sing! “A Bushel and a Peck” is our theme song.

Her party was Sunday, but she was born on this day, one day after PopBob’s birthday, three years ago, and she was exactly herself. Happy late summer Birthday to our Love Bug. You make my heart fill with joy each time I hold you. Sleeping Baby 20120828

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While watching part of the GOP debate, I started to feel like that Angry character in the movie Inside Out. The one with fiery hair and a voice like Lewis Black. In the continual news coverage of Trump’s performance, I thought something is missing. Now we hear Hillary calling it out, the unbelievably, unimaginable gall of Rubio to tell us all that his Catholic faith informs his public policy – ie sorry no abortions ladies, life begins at conception, oh and btw, that he would make no exceptions for rape or incest.

And so we see again, ten men discussing womens’ private parts. But as Elizabeth (yes we’re on a first name basis) said, did they fall down and hit their heads and wake up in the 1950s? Because I lived through those years, when young women were butchered in backyard alleys, when they were sent away in shame to deliver a baby and hand it over for adoption, when they were rendered infertile and sometimes died. When women had no voice at all, none. Some women did the “good” thing and married the guy at 17, if he was amenable.

Today, young women are supposedly given condoms in school at a certain age and told how to use them. Of course this is all according to a state-sanctioned sex-ed/health curriculum, that varies from California to New York. Some states prefer to teach about waiting for marriage. But, girls can walk into a drug store and buy a Plan B pill if the condom failed…in fact, they still could walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic and get a shot a patch or a pill to prevent conception. But not if these ten men on stage have their way, clinics will cease to exist for reproductive health care – in other words, it’s the poor, the marginalized, the girls who could never in a million years talk to their parents about sex, these are the girls who will suffer.

Then this morning I read this: “Letter to Our Daughters: Do Not Be Good.”  The author, Megan Bergman, is writing about becoming a teenager to her pre-school daughters: http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/letter-to-my-daughters-do-not-be-good/

You are entitled to the Dark Poetry Stage, and although it’s going to hurt like hell when you push me away, it’s necessary. (I hope I’m there to be pushed, and return doggedly.) I’m raising you to be independent beings, not fleshy basement-dwellers who play video games and pound energy drinks while the sunny world goes by. Or girls who try to appease my ego by being conventionally “good” and who then have to forge a secret rebellion. No! Rebel in the open.

I want you out in the world getting the good stuff. I want sun on your skin and banned books in your backpack, and when I’m old and diapered I want you to walk into my house, turn down the George Michael songs, and tell me about all the incredible discoveries you’ve made about the planet and yourself. I want you to tell me about your mistakes, heartbreaks, dreams, and plans. Those things are your engine. In my life, failure has been a much better engine than success. Artistic and personal.

George Michael doesn’t do it for me, maybe the Stones? My generation of women wrote the Book “Our Bodies Ourselves” because if we can’t control our body, how can we take control of our own lives?  We don’t need to cover our hair, we can dye it blue. We can go to a movie like Trainwreck and celebrate our badasses.

Because being good isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: when it limits our choices; when it keeps us subservient; when it cancels our dreams.

We don’t have to take typing in school and end up in a Mad Men office anymore. We may even get equal pay for equal work soon! I went to Catholic school AND camp. I was taught to be good above all else. And believe me, throwing off those shackles felt amazing. Rubio and his ilk would like to put those chains back on, but he doesn’t know that young women today will never allow that to happen. After years of being dressed in a beanie and uniform, I allowed the Bride to wear whatever she wanted to school. It was the late 80s, think Dirty Dancing, and she was killing it!

Note to my daughter – remember your grandmother was a Flapper, remember this when the Love Bug turns 11, it’s a magical age.  Cute Kids

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Look around you America. If it looks like you’re surrounded by Barbara Striesand’s least favorite color, orange, you’d be right. And to be honest, being a strawberry blonde meant I avoided that particular hue too. But today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and I thought I’d share a few facts with you this morning while I listen to Ms Bean snooze.

Gun injuries to children and young adults cause twice as many deaths as cancer!

Now just think about that for a second. Think about all those pink ribbons, yellow bracelets, and fund-raising schemes non-profits have come up with to draw attention to a disease we still can’t quite pin down. Is it hereditary or arbitrary? Is it environmental or viral? We know some people have the right sequence of genes to make them more susceptible to certain types of cancer, but we still don’t have a cure.

Look at Beau Biden. He died at about the same age that my father died of the very same tumor. Robert Lynn left 6 children behind. Brain cancer is a death sentence 66 years later. Our society is pouring money into research and development to fight cancer, but in our nation’s capital, the NRA is pouring money into the bloody hands of politicians. Why? To keep doctors from asking questions of parents about guns. To get guns on college campuses. To fight any legislation that might make purchasing a gun difficult – background checks? So what if you have a restraining order and domestic abuse issues, step right up and tell us what kind of rifle you like.

Gun injuries cause five times as many deaths as heart disease.

Well now we’re talking. The American Heart Association once thought that educating Americans about their risk of heart attack and stroke was their main mission. Today they’ve upped their game, to include educating us on our diets, legislating “heart healthy” packaging strategies state by state, fighting childhood obesity and running anti-smoking campaigns. “Sitting is the new smoking” one doc told Bob at a recent medical conference. Leverage that against gun lobbyists spouting “freedom” like they invented the word. The freedom to walk into a movie theatre in Colorado, an elementary school in Connecticut, or a college in Virginia with a rifle. The freedom to leave a handgun unlocked and loaded where a child might pick it up. These should be the NRA’s four freedoms.

Gun injuries kill 15 times as many people as infections! 

MERSA? Tuberculosis? Flesh eating bacteria, SARS and the flu? HA, we may have some antibiotic-resistant strains roaming around the world, but they pale in comparison to the sheer number of guns and ease of availability we Americans have simply taken for granted. So every time someone dies from, let’s say West Nile, since I just happened to experience that horrific infection, 15 people die from gun violence.

A child shoots herself in the face; a child shoots his friend in the yard; a child shoots his mother while sitting in a shopping cart playing with her purse…

I am so sick and tired of reading about the ways we humans can so easily kill each other with guns. No other country in the world is as lax as we are in regulating guns. Make women wait 2 days for an abortion and watch some video about it beforehand, maybe even get a pelvic ultrasound in the interim, sure  –  but make you wait for a background check before buying a gun? Nonsense.

I’m wearing orange today for my grandchildren, so that they may grow up in a country without this scourge of gun violence. Because we need to elect leaders whose pockets are not lined with blood money.  IMG_2705

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“Would you eat them here or there? Would you eat them anywhere?” You may recognize the voice of Dr Seuss. His Cat is a master manipulator. You may think you don’t like green eggs and ham, but gosh darn it, you’re gonna like them eventually.

It’s a great book for a toddler, especially the Love Bug. She likes to tell me where to sit, “Nana, sit here!” She likes to tell me where to go, like when I told her that Mama would be home, she looked me right in the eyes and said “Nana go bye bye!” I told her my plan was to stick around for awhile and she smiled as if to say that would be just fine.

Transitions can be hard at every stage in life. Who knew that crossing the threshold of a door – from the world of the wind and the sun outside with popsicles on the porch and school crossing guards who wave “Hello,” to the world inside with high chairs you have to sit in and diapers that for some reason must be changed all the time. My Bug, like Jane Goodall in her new children’s book,”Me Jane,” loves to be outside!

So coaxing her to come in is a major challenge. In fact I’d forgotten this simple fact about toddlers – everything is a negotiation! Then I remembered that the Bride loved a good argument at this age too. I was convinced she was going to study law, that’s how good she was. I found myself saying my daughter’s name instead of the Bug’s, over and over again because her level of sophistication is equal to her mothers.

So last night I thought ahead. After dinner I sat the Bug down and said we needed to talk. I told her I would keep my promise and we would have popsicles on the porch, but then I expected her to be a BIG GIRL when it was time to come in and “Not Cry.” She said “Not cry.” And I said, “OK, big girl, do you want a strawberry or a grape popsicle?” And she said, “Strawberry.”

It worked!

Today was the best day ever. We spent the whole morning at the Nashville Zoo and topped it off with a wild animal carousel ride. She eagerly hopped on the painted kangaroo with me and we waved at Mama who is thankfully home and was waving to us miraculously every time we rode around in a circle.  And now that I’ve got this toddler transition thing down, from getting her into the car without a fuss to getting her out of the tub at night, I’ll be heading home. My husband tells me he’s missing me. But leaving her, will be the hardest transition of all.

IMG_0595

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Our mountain house is too quiet.No more Love Bug yelling , “MA” at the top of her voice, no more breakfasts for five or Mozart in the morning.

When my kids were little, we would get in the car and immediately chaos would descend about who claimed the shot-gun seat, which radio channel we’d tune into, whether we would stop at 7-Eleven on our way to the beach every morning, why the Corgi can’t come, etc. And usually by about halftime I’d holler “Let’s have some Ps and Qs.”  Peace and Quiet.

I’m not sure how or why that worked, but they both knew that those little words meant Mom had had enough. Before there were smart phones and iPads and Apps, and Disney videos strapped into the back of every car seat or hanging projector-like from a Suburban,  we parents had to rule the roost…while driving. Bickering died down and actual conversations might just happen. In fact, parents everywhere should take note, some of the very best conversations ever with your kids may just take place in your car! There is nothing like a captured audience.

But when all else fails, then and now, we sing! Our Love Bug is a Nashville baby.

Because the mere thought of strapping a one year old into a car seat that resembles a NASCAR engineering project for 9 hours of driving is my idea of family torture, so we sing. One year olds can’t tell you they have a dirty diaper, they can’t say “Id like to lay down for my nap now if you don’t mind,” they can’t point out the 7-Eleven and ask for a Slurpee. Babies lack the vocabulary to express their storm of emotions. But this baby loves to sing, yes she’s even starting to hum along with us!

So I’ve got to hand it to the Bride and Groom for their courage and creativity on this trip. For endless rounds of Old MacDonald and Baby Beluga. For not being too upset when they learned that I thought the Bug might like playing with her food. Which she did! For loaning me their precious little girl full of sunshine and light for a little while.

For helping me to realize that peace and quiet isn’t such a great idea after all.

photo copy 2

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