Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mary Ellen: joy of the ages

August 13th our sweet new granddaughter, Mary Ellen, became our newest (7th!) delight and I must say, having a new grandchild - even a seventh one - is fully as exciting as every one to come before. Mary Ellen's other grandmother and I stood in that wide familiar hallway listening at the door for any sign that she had arrived, and then Sean emerged wearing that age old paternal smile of enormous relief.She's here! She's fine!
I was struck with renewed wonderment and the recall of that quote which is so succinct;

A new baby is God's desire that the world should go on.
We are a nation at war, with all kinds of troubles and dire predictions of more trouble to come, and yet here is this tiny beautiful face wrapped in her mother's arms, designed to live on this wobbly planet with the radiant possibilities of every child ever born since the beginning of time. Mary Ellen has a divinely determined place, a role to fulfill, challenges to meet, opportunities to seek, lessons to learn and later on, with her own children ~ lessons to teach.

When I look at those infant eyes as they slide to and fro, those curled fists and slender air-dancing feet, I see that already she is preparing to search, to fight for what is right and to leap with joy!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow...
Mary Ellen, Mimi loves you so much!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I Don't know why. We just did.

A few posts back I mentioned my affinity for keeping junk. I found a particularly oddball/embarrassing/incomprehensible item that my mother had kept. She had to have kept it originally because I was too young to be in the least bit sentimental at oh, say, age 11?

Then I discovered it in a box of "stuff" she had kept for posterity, and I am trying to figure out what it signifies. Here is a photo.
Do not trouble yourself overly much in trying to imagine why it has been in my treasured clutter collection for the past 18 years. I have to keep it.

It falls into the category of:


I actually remember the shopping excursion. I was the sort of child to be totally thrilled. I even pranced into the living room to show my father the new item I had bought. 99 out of 100 little girls would have been bewildered. Or embarrassed. Not me. I thought it was great news! Look at this!

My father, it must be noted, was not a goofy, fun-loving, jovial kind of a man. He was an austere nineteenth century kind of a man. He went to work. He read the paper. He didn't discipline us. He talked to my brother about college football. He didn't know what to do about his impulsive, effusively excitable daughter. He was a modest man. After he had gone to bed if he got a phone call from his boss he put on his slacks to venture into the den to answer the single telephone we had. He wasn't cuddly. He never said "I love you" to me and yet he was so very, very loving.

Deeds do speak louder than words when you have a Daddy like that.

About a year or two before I waved that new item in front of the newspaper he was reading, he saw a sketch of a little girl wearing a striped dress. It was a Foley's Dept. store ad. He called out to my mother, "Olga, do they have this dress in Penny's size?"

Yes, for no special occasion at all, my father wanted me to have that dress. I loved it!

A few years later, when I was a freshman in high school, again he saw an item in a news ad. This time it was a very old-fashioned "Gibson Girl" blouse, white, with full sleeves and lace on the bodice. Again, Mother went at his behest to buy that blouse for me.

So. That is love. I think my mother kept this little box because it reminded her of a funny family story. I clearly didn't take into account my father's reserved personality when I ran in to show it to him. I was happy and I suppose I just had a trust that those who loved me most ought to be in on my joy! To me, it was better than an "A" on a report card.

To my father, it was probably just another dismaying event in the process of raising a girl.
I miss you, Daddy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Falling Rain

Well, Winston and I are visiting Laurel, James and toddler g-daughter, Wendy. When we arrived we felt that we were also visiting an unborn g-child, "Bitty". Thursday I went with James and Laurel to view the first ultrasound and we had sad news. The baby had "stopped" growing. No heartbeat. Just a still little form remaining.

"Into each life, the rain must fall".

I lost four early pregnancies in the 70's and had not given those long ago emotions much thought in decades. But it all came bubbling back.

The Lord gives and He takes away. We are greatly comforted by the knowledge that there is a purpose in every experiance we have, both the joyous times and the sad times.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The True Meaning of Junk

In the past few days I've had a bee in my bonnet to get rid of the clutter in my house.

This is no simple matter. For one thing, if it were easy for me to get rid of clutter, I wouldn't have collected it in the first place.

It is a love-hate relationship, between clutter and me. I cherish my piles and bins of stuff, while resenting the messiness and sheer volume of it.

So the day before yesterday I took step #1. I targeted the most offensive site - the bedroom which was Sean's. All the boxes, bins and piles came out of their hiding places.

I don't know about your clutter. Maybe you don't have any. If you don't have any, I'm not sure that I understand you. But I guarantee I'll admire you!

My sister-in-law gives me a subscription to Martha Stewart's magazine and the one thing I marvel at is the sleek lovely barren beauty of every room featured. That's what I like. That's the goal! But still I wonder, what does a person who lives in such a home do with all their junky treasures? They can't fool me. Come on! They must keep their kids' report cards, special baby clothes, VCR tapes of events in the 80's, letters, and the like. I'll bet off-camera there is a bin lurking around the corner. Or 11 of them stuffed into a closet. Gotta be.

Anyway, the project is on. Hubby comes home for lunch every day and scowls at the piles on the sofa. It's like a living thing. I clear out and toss 3 lawn and garden bags of junk in the daytime and when I awake in the morning it has spread down into the hallway. Like an amoeba.

Just in case you have any interest in what the piles consist of, I'll give you a rundown;

Tea lights, in bags and loose.

Cassette tapes. About 50 of them. Gotta listen to them all because there might be some with my precious childrens' voices on them. My children are now parents themselves.


A shirt a size too small with stains on it. I was going to shrink myself and take it to the cleaners and wear it again. Right?

Shoes that look like a refugee's footwear.

Recipes! I mean a lot of recipes! I am not lying here. I spent hours watching Fox news and looking at each one. The weight of the paper, clipped out of newspapers over a decade+ and ripped out of magazines is estimated to have been about 8 pounds. No kidding. 3/4 of that pile is going to the curb. I am never going to make Oysters Rockefeller.

Now I have to confess a small sin here. I think it's a sin...? If you ever go to the doc's office and are leafing through a magazine and can't finish the story about whether or not this marriage can be saved and discover a hole where the counselor's assessment would be, then you will know I have been there.

I am stealthy. I can tear out a recipe with almost complete silence. It's a fine art. Like pick-pocketing, maybe? The trick is to go slooooow. I would consider selecting a doctor based on the quality of the magazines in his waiting room. Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living and Good Housekeeping are on my hit list.

How ironic. Good HOUSEKEEPING.

Is there a support group out there for recipe addicts? I really want to get help now.

Next post I hope to be able to show you how sentiment drives a GREAT deal of my hoarding problem. If an item reminds me of a happy time, however mildly, I want to keep it. Maybe I can get Missy to help me post a photo of the wierdest item I have kept - I mean since, oh, 1962?

All for now. The pile is marching into the breakfast room and leaping up onto the table...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Three Weddings in Three Years: Bonanza!

When our oldest son Walker announced that he was engaged to be married, I was all in a dither. I realized that not only would I be gaining a new daughter, but also the dress-up wardrobe of my dreams!
Having not worked in years, I had a pretty skimpy and dated set of jackets-with-skirts and blouses-to-go-with skirts which worked fine for church and club meetings. The navy one. The green one. Here she comes in the maroon one again. On any ordinary day I would be seen in jeans, a camp shirt and Target flip flops.
Now my elder son, my baby, was getting married!
I wanted to do back-flips down the street! I told everyone I knew and had to restrain myself from telling whoever was in line behind me at the grocery store. We were adding Missy to the family! I had tons to do! I had a rehearsal dinner to plan! Showers and parties to attend! The wedding itself! Meeting her family, her friends!
Then it hit me. Clothes.
I needed new clothes. I needed to represent my son well, look stylish, even chic. The mere fact that my daughter Laurel was so excited about the prospect of her brother getting married and her enthusiasm for accompanying me on my urgent shopping excursions made it all even more delightful.
I was reminded of many years ago when I went shopping with my mother, not with an eye on what she might buy for me, but great joy over the fact she was going to buy herself some new dresses for a trip to New Orleans to visit her relatives. I recalled how pleased I was to see her in a flowy floral skirt for the first time with a new handbag to match.
So off we went, my daughter and I. My mental list was extravagant, but I was on a roll!
A lovely salmon-colored Capri pant set with beaded pants caught my eye, a deep turquoise pant set for a shower, perhaps, the luscious moss green sik blouse, the sleek black slacks. The shoes! My chunky black office heels would never do! Sling-back pumps with that impossible needle toe...then the DRESS. That all-important dress for the wedding. Mother of the groom! Imagine that! Gliding elegantly along on 3" champagne colored strappy heels in a matching bolero jacketed sequined dress fit for the Academy Awards! Gorgeous!
I wanted to look wonderful, even glamorous for my son. It was an expression of love no doubt lost on a male child, who most likely just wants Mom to remain Mom.
Suffice it to say that on my son's wedding day, I was stunning! Plus the clothes rack in my closet was practically groaning with brand-new snazzy apparel.
Not a year passed before our second son breezed in with Stephanie on his arm, to tell us that they were engaged! With ruthless glee I informed my husband that I really needed not only a new mother of the groom dress, but also at the very least a "going to the airport" ensemble to pick up his relatives at the airport. With matching shoes and handbag, of course. It worked.
Barely down from the second wardrobe blitz in two years. Just a little breather, then daughter Laurel and James announce that, yes, they are engaged. I'm off to the mall again! Three weddings in three years! Apparel in every conceivable hue and style, beaded and shimmery or simple and sophisticated. Shoes, bags, clip-on ear-rings, three different mother of the groom dresses fit for a coronation at Buckingham Palace.
Now I have run out of children and out of excuses to descend on malls with the zeal of a pilgrim in the wilderness...won't somebody invite me to a fancy-dress event?

I've got the dress, the shoes...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quotes about marriage you'll enjoy!

Married life teaches one valuable lesson: to think of things far enough ahead not to say them.

~ Jefferson Machamer

The honeymoon is the vacation a man takes before beginning work under a new boss.

~ Anonymous

I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experianced pain
and bought jewelry.

~ Rita Rudner

When a man and a woman marry, they become one. The trouble starts when they try to decide which one.

~ Anonymous

The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing - and then they marry him.

~ Cher

and my fav;

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

~ Rabbi H. Schachtel

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hell on Earth

Last Sunday during his sermon, our pastor David said that someone had once made a remark to him which was startling. But true.

"For Christians, Earth is Hell."

I have had the same thought. Think about it!

It is here that we suffer anguish, fright, dread, worry, misery and grief.

It is here that we may be mistreated, hurt in body, wounded in spirit, challenged in ways that trouble us.

Here we lose, here we misbehave (sin) and shame ourselves (Christians have a conscience most of the time!), here we know despair and anxiety and face uncertainty which is almost the worst pain of all.

Tough as life on Earth can be for Christians, what a blessing that this is as bad as it gets!

Then - Paradise!

Beyond that thought I got to musing about how we cope as we struggle through this "vale of tears." I realized that the people we are linked to (not by fluke or by accident, but through the design of God with lofty purpose), our families,, our closest friends, should be sources of comfort, inspiration and encouragement to us. With those special (truly very few) people we should be especially kind, loyal and patient. God attached them to our lives to soothe us and nudge us toward better behavior and by the same token we are entrusted to be merciful toward them.

In my life I see that the familiarity of being close also makes us "comfortable" about being mean, rude or downright taking advantage of those closest individuals. Yes, I am thinking of my own misdeeds. It is so easy to take loved ones for granted! Worse than that - to target them for the slings and arrows of our harshest criticism!

This year we gave our three sons copies of "Sweet and Low" for Father's day simply because Randall recommends it and I thought it would be a good read for those three business-oriented guys. Haven't read it myself, but ironically it describes the back-biting, greed and ruthless actions within the family which created that product. The achievement of astonishing wealth seems to have been a catalyst for the destruction of an entire family (surprise, surprise).

Maybe we all should be grateful that we don't have vast family fortunes to squabble over!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

Our 2 1/2 year-old granddaughter, Maggie Belle, has always been on the timid side. Yesterday she and her three siblings , all aged 4, 3, 2 (Maggie herself) and 1, had a modeling opportunity for a company that produces pro sports DVDs featuring small children in mini uniforms. Cute stuff.

Of course we knew that rough and tumble Shepherd, aged 4 1/2, would warm immediately to the notion of suiting up like a real athlete and tossing foam rubber balls and bats around. Eva Rose at 3 1/2 plays dress-up all the time and the pom poms attracted her right away so all went well with her session, of course. Then little Ingram, still crawling and with the stick-up blond fuzz he inherited from his father, was of course pretty clue-less but adorable nevertheless.

I think we saved Maggie for last because the chances for a spectacular Maggie Belle melt down were home she might have been napping. Instead we were restraining her from walking around the tiny cramped studio. Not a choice situation with Miss Mags! Added to that insult was the fact that there were no snacks, but Shepherd and Eva Rose had discovered a cold water dispenser and were guzzling it as if H2O was the nectar of the gods. Two grandmas and one harried mother were barely enough staff to keep 4 kiddos from injury, outright carnage and towering rage tantrums!


At last it was Maggie's "turn". Missy decided at the last minute to pull her blond curls into twin ponytails and hurriedly we dressed her in tiny white baseball trousers and a white baseball shirt..."Dodgers". She looked like the one child in America least likely to ever play any game that involves roughness and sweat. Despite the sports gear that looked quite natural on the other kids, she in fact looked like a fairy, as always.

Nervously, I took Ingram for a spin in his stroller around the reception area, just knowing that Maggie was not going to like all this tightly controlled instruction, having to stay in camera range, being told to hold this or jump or spin or whatever the action might be. No way!

But hearing laughter and whoops of delight from Missy and crew, I learned that Miss Maggie had found her glory at last! Her personal spot in the sun! She was almost meticulously responding to every bit of direction, behaving like a professional between takes, standing solemnly to await the next shot, then springing into action with just the right amount of animation each time! I never knew she could stack a tower of blocks so high, smile so beguilingly for a camera-person she didn't know. It was astonishing!

When finally she was told she was "all done", she lowered her chin and frowned. She didn't budge. Come on, Maggie! Let's go! Time to go home!


Alright. Missy had to go walk right on the set and pick her up, weeping and struggling.

The video lady shook her head and said,
"She's a natural..."

Wait a minute, Mr. DeMille.

I'm ready for my close-up now!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mimi's high school - 1966-1968

Every Sunday morning on the way to church, my husband Winston and I pass by our old high school. Without fail, our heads turn to the left and take another look at it.

The facade of the building has changed since we were students there (as alas, have our own physical facades!), but we remember those long hallways lined all the way down with grey steel lockers, the enormous clock above urging us to stop lingering and get on to class before...before...The Bell Rings!

We remember how we admired the cheerleaders, each one cute as a button with a perfect "flip" hairdo, petite and perky every minute of every day. We would spot the football team practicing out behind the building in intense southern heat, and we thought that they embodied everything marvelous about perseverance and raw roughness. Winston and I were not among those elite. We were firmly entrenched in the "everybody else" population, but there were common denominators between shyest girl and Homecoming Queen, struggling freshman math student and Summa Cum Laude senior.

We were all Cardinals!

I recall the litter in the hallways in those days, trampled red and white "spirit ribbons"... GO, CARDS, GO!, folded hall passes, "David D. to office - 1:45", the random gooey mascara wand, the candy wrappers (acceptable if consumed after lunch) and the putty-like ball of chewing gum wrapped in foil (NOT acceptable on campus at any time!) To this day the fragrance of Aqua Net hair spray catapults me back to the girls' locker room...every girl carried a giant grandma-like purse to accommodate the colossal can of spray. By the handle...tiny shoulder bags were yet to come.

Would any teen today believe for a second that in my three years there, I never heard a vulgar word?
Never once saw a student sass a teacher (oh, but the fun we made fun of them behind their backs, poor souls) My boyfriend, Winston, won my heart by creating a fabulous caricature of a particularly unintentionally hilarious lady who shall remain un-named here.

The teachers! The charmingly courtly English history teacher, Mr. Dillman, who wore a black stocking over the stump where his hand had been before it was blown off in a terrible accident when he himself was in high school - actually AT his high school. Each year he commemorated the anniversary of that date by telling the entire gruesome story, about how he and a friend had decided to confiscate some chemicals from the science lab and mix them together in a jar and then stand around chatting beside his car while the jar heated to super-sonic temps on his Fry-Baby car hood. Next thing he one could tell it like Mr. Dillman!

My own father suffered a paralyzed arm as the result of an oil field accident when he was 19 years old, and I knew the story of that even, too. But the difference is that Mr. Dillman did not speak of it as tragedy at all. I do believe there was even a question and answer period offered following The Telling of the Story, but we all sat leaning forward, mute and awestruck, not by Mr. Dillman's familiar black-sheathed stump, but by his gentle gracious demeanor, wry awareness of our shameless curiosity and astonishing good will despite this calamity. Wow. Is this how we should bear adversity? I think so.

Winston's favorite teacher was also a man, Mr. Pedigo, who taught English with an irrepressible zeal and startling boxer-dude sudden moves when throwing the blackboard eraser - HARD! - at sleeping students. What would that get Mr. Pedigo today in terms of jail time and court dates?

Let me state what it earned him in my 59-year-old husband's memory....respect. After the first or second eraser blast, all eyes were on Mr. Pedigo and every ear took in every word he spoke. What did he call students who did poorly on a test? "You bunch of lazy, worthless hounds!" Did parents call the school board about little Johnny's self-esteem? Not one. Why does Winston remember this man with such regard to this day? Because here was a teacher who could TEACH!

Lest I speak too fondly, I must admit that the cafeteria lunches were gruel on a beige plastic plate (thus the profusion of candy wrappers), the hall monitors were mean and enjoyed their duties a bit TOO much.

Things were different in those days. Virtually all the students had two parents, a curfew and said "Yes, Ma'am" and "No sir". Failing grades were a disgrace. Let me tell you some time about the pink failing slip I hid in my bedroom!) Smart students were ultimately admired more than the beauteous ones. No one wanted to "get into trouble" largely because they didn't want to face the mortification of those vigorously strict parents. We loved them, after all.

So, the story continues. Winston (class of '67) and I (class of '68) married and left town for his Navy career in 1973. Our lives revolved around planes, ships and deployments all over the world while raising three kids in places that couldn't have been more different from home, places like Ewa Beach, Hawaii, snowy Brunswick, Maine and exotic Japan. Finally to our astonishment opportunity led us right back to a home only a few miles from our old high school.

Now every Sunday at about 9:15 we pass by that school and chances are we will swivel our heads to the left for a quick look. If anyone happens to riding along with us we might simultaneously exclaim, "There it is! That's the high school where we met!" with a glee our passenger is not likely to comprehend.

We might remark that "our bench", which had been precisely THERE, right, Honey? has long since vanished, and we feel a little bit sad. Then the rest of the ride down that tree-lined avenue, we are quieter, lost in our own red 'n white Go, Cards, Go!memories once again...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Walker - Nov. 29, 1979

November 29, 1979


When I gaze at our son,

many boys fill my sight

As the babe held aloft

on that warm, starry night

With wishes and deep love,

so gladly bought

Can't be gone! But lies on,

in the cradle of thought.

And the man yet to come

so strong and so tall

Will not dim my visions

of Walker yet small.

For it is quite certain

there's plenty of space

For boys of all ages

in my Memory's place.

Making Medical History

Our three-year-old son Sean was very much annoyed by his older siblings, who were always reminding him that this toy or that one had originally been theirs. Finally one afternoon he emerged happily from his room carrying a huge dump truck, saying, "I was born with this!"

Bald was beautiful, too...

August 11, 1984

Today I cried.
At the store, among the hair ribbons,
clips, barrettes and brushes,
I cried.
I was buying those things for you -
for the long hair I thought you'd never have,
When you were bald.

For...your first day of school.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

March 27, 1969

After days of semi-frantic searching, last night I found the "Strawberries for Breakfast" journal this blog is named after...

Here's a poem I had included in the book...I wrote it when Winston and I were teens in high school;

Just Between You and Me

Five years from now, if all goes well
I'll be my true love's wife
And settled cozy, quite content
within a finer life
But will I mourn as many do
the ordeal that my hands
Must endure day after day
among the pots and pans?

Will baby's cry arouse in me
a weary sort of sigh?
Will I resent the steps I take
to see if he is dry?
And could I look upon this poem
if found among old things
As just a simple, idle bit
like pencil stubs and strings?

Lord, if these small and loving woes
can come to me some day,
I'll take great care to see that my
most grateful thanks don't stray.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Just the Brown Eyes

Back in the '80's in Maine Walker had an English class writing project - to describe the delights of enjoying a banana split. Took him alone with me to Friendly's which was a sort of sandwich diner/ice cream parlor establishment and somehow or other it was noted that Walker and I were both "firstborns" in our families. Laurel wanted to have a special connection to me as well, so it came naturally down to taking her to Friendly's as "just the girls". Then there was Sean. The baby - not the firstborn. Certainly not a girl. Finally it dawned on me - Sean was brown-eyed like me! So his trec to Friendly's with me was a "just the brown eyes" experiance!

Years later when I traveled to Dallas with Sean and his brown-eyed wife Stephanie and their brown-eyed baby girl Hattie, it was finally another "just the brown eyes" opportunity! Quite an exclusive little group, wouldn't you say?

Mary Ellen is due in August. Chances are she will be an honored member of the "just the brown eyes" group as well!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Baby epicurians

Our family enjoys fine dining at home. My brother-in-law could have been a chef. No kidding. Creme' Brulee, ....Seared Duck with Pears, you name it. I scramble when it's my turn to to do the big family after-church Sunday dinner, and Dan holds the bar high.

In the past week, two of our younger granddaughters, Hattie aged 21 months and Wendy aged 19 months have discovered their own epicurian delights.

While seated in the bathtub, Hattie was squirting water out of an empty shampoo bottle into her mouth! "Hattie", I asked, "what are you doing?"

"Drinking," she replied. "It's pretty good!"

Meanwhile in Washington state Wendy and her parents were invited to her father's boss' house for dinner. Wendy found the appetizer dish right away - a bowl of dry dog food on the kitchen floor. Before anyone could move she had sampled a handful. "Good Puffs!" she exclaimed.

Bath water. Dry dog food.

Dan, where did we go wrong?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Strawberries for Breakfast?

Sentimental reasons...very. Sentiment drives this blog, I am sure!

When my maternal grandparents married in Mississippi in 1906, a friend gave them the use of their house (I think in New Orleans) for a brief honeymoon sojourn. My grandmother said that on her first married morning a man was passing by the house calling out that he had strawberries for sale. Right away my besotted grandfather (who would become Papa to me 44 years later) dashed to the street to make his purchase. And the tenderest scene of all...he fed them to his bride one by one.

Loved that story and I do tend to cling to stories the way others hold on to whatever it is they store up as mind-treasures. So my first married morning when Winston insisted on calling room service, strawberries were my only request...

That first year I kept a journal in a blank bound book and had it embossed, "Strawberries for Breakfast" which I gave to him on our first anniversary.

To me, that title sums up the fact that life's simple joys are the most precious, and loving acts are worthy of remembrance for generations to come. So pardon me while I just remember on and on...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spacing Kids

Well, I have actually experienced having a 5-year-old "only" child and also two babies 22 months apart in age. You might say that I have fairly good insight into each situation!

First of all, it was never my intent for Walker to be newly 5 and in kindergarten before he had a sibling. But that was God's intent. I tried, He denied.

Being young and petulant whenever I didn't get my way, especially if I imagined my way to be totally honorable and blameless (
Come'on, Lord...all I want is another baby! Is that too much to ask?) I didn't take the denial well. I felt sorry for myself. I thought that other mothers with a string of little chicks, or even just two in stair-step heights was adorable. My lone baby was not a baby anymore, and my four losses grated on my mind quite a bit.

Until - I learned that almost certainly they would not have developed into healthy children. Then I
understood God's mercy. Four little precious souls soared to Heaven without gasping under ventilators and enduring tubes, needles and early death. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Walker was my solitary child for over 5 years and I have to say that I enjoyed his company immensely. He was funny, he was relaxed, he didn't compete with anyone, he had friends when he wanted them and lots of Mommy time when he wanted that. It was easy and fun to take him places as he grew older because he was cooperative and not rowdy - there was no one to be rowdy with! He was cherished by both sides of the family - the only child during his little kid phase.

You think - only child= SPOILED. I don't think he was spoiled because we didn't have much money at all and he didn't get toys or treats whenever he desired them. Besides that, Daddy and I weren't soft on discipline.

He also didn't have a playmate in the home. We had to import them.

Along came Laurel at last. Walker was 5 years, two months old. They would never "play" together in any way, shape or form.

She was 22 months old when Sean was born.

things got stirred up a bit! Diapers in two sizes! Tugs over toys before Sean could sit up well. Lots of tears and lots of baby giggles, too. I think one reason he talked well so early was because Laurel was constantly talking to "Connie". He crawled after her with infant rapture. They lined up stuffed animals under the oak breakfast table and made a "house" under there after I topped it with a sheet which overhang the sides. When they were seated in a wagon people thought they were twins...they had matching yellow blond hair and
jammered to each other ceaselessly. Sean's first belly laugh was when a hot dog wiener jetted out of her hot dog bun onto the floor. Her wails turned to peals of laughter because "Connie" showed her the humor in the situation. I think he was under a year old that day.

She was bossy and he was controlling. Sounds like a married couple, doesn't it? The thing that struck me as amazing was that he was worried about her safety by the time he was four. "There you go, talking to STRANGERS again!" he yelled when just we three were at JC Penney and she showed the lady in line ahead of us Brad Randall, her Cabbage Patch doll. He jerked her away with fierce anxiety while I stood there bewildered. Was my baby the man of the family while Winston was away? He'd grab her hand when we were about to cross a street and of course she'd try to pull away but he got stronger quick!

Inevitably, their gender differences, not age difference, created the GREAT DIVIDE. Laurel didn't want him in her room "touching" her things, (he could care less about her things). Walker was out and about the neighborhood long before Sean could cross a street without holding my hand. But for fully Sean's first four years he and Laurel were best friends. Just about the time she met Jennifer he met Miles so no one was left out in the cold.

So...that's what raising an "only" bigger child without a close sibling, vs. very young children close in age is like. Frankly, I enjoyed both situations to such an extent I wouldn't do it any other way! I loved hopping quickly in the car for outings with just one kid. I loved watching two babies tussle, hug and laugh together!

Love, Mom

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Ring Bear

Hi. we're baaaaaack! Had a fun time but we had offered to take Wendy to the motel with us after the rehearsal dinner so the bride and her parents could relax and the girls could get their hair done in the morning without worrying about chasing a toddler. Well, we got stuck in horrible traffic and it took us 1 hr. 45 min. to get to the motel in San Antonio!

That would have been bad enough, but Wendy began to vomit and she drenched her only pair of pj's I had with us and her beloved Pooh bear she now carries everywhere with her and splashed the flowergirl dress, and we still couldn't even pull over to clean her up! She kept saying, "Baby sad...fingers YUCKIE! Mouth sick!" all the way there. She actually had TWO major throw-ups then. When we got to the motel I had to carry her through the lobby - both of us reeking. Bathed her trembling body and then she threw up again on the only play outfit I had with us. Two baths. Wrapped her in a sheet while she cried for "Bay-uh! Baaaaay-uh!" and I dunked him in the basin and did all I could to get the odor out...even blow-dried him but he was still like a wet sponge. So she couldn't have him to sleep with. End of story? No...she cried and coughed until 1:38 AM!!

Don't forget the flowergirl dress, ecru eyelet with specks of broccoli all over the back of it. Had to dab at that with a wet washcloth.

Wendy up at 7:00. Took her in last remaining outfit - a sundress - to the "continental breakfast". She ate grapes and seemed better. Walked her around the lobby with still-damp and slightly stinky Pooh. Out to the parking lot where she insisted on carrying Bay-uh Pooh, her sippy cup and every rock she could find. I think she has all the makings of a fine hoarder. When she failed to be able to add in a 2' long stick, she began to weep. Time for a nap.

Winston takes van to be "detailed" and de-stinked.

Nap going fine...then Wendy wakes with you-know-what all up her back. This is not looking good.

This is now the wedding day. Wendy is flowergirl.

Off in the car to move to a closer hotel. Wendy now clad in only a diaper. She spews yet again. Winston says, "This is the perfect storm..."

So much for the $50 detailing job.

He sits with her in the car while I run into Target to get another outfit and wipes, paper towels and diapers, some sort of nausea remedy for babies...oh, and Pine sol.

To Taco Cabana so Winston and I can eat something. New brown heels and I step in a fat fresh wad of gum. What a day. Clean Wendy up in restroom feeling like germs are leaping from every surface to distance to get us.

Back in the car I pray aloud that she will be able to participate in some way in the wedding despite everything. Actually, begging for a miracle. Wendy listens and says, "Again." So I say the same prayer again. And Again. Again and again and again. Finally I switch to singing "Jesus Loves Me" but she doesn't like that as much.

To church. I am supposed to pin on the boutonnieres and corsages. Wendy asleep again in van. Winston sits out there with her with doors open. Thankfully it's a cool day!
Run in to pin boutonnieres...forget about corsages...out to check on Wendy every 15 min.
32 min. before wedding I reluctantly wake Wendy. Her cheeks are bright pink. She says, "Hot!" and she is. Why didn't I think to get baby Tylenol at Target?

Dress her quickly and she looks like a doll despite her half-closed eyes and whining, ""
Yep. Bear still stinks. Wendy's holding Bay-uh and so she stinks and I'm holding her so I stink as well. We are a stinky threesome.

God hears prayers. Wendy was able to walk down the aisle holding James' mother's hand and Bay-uh. Not the flowergirl basket. I guess you can say she was the Bear Girl?

Maybe she can start a new trend...she accessorizes with a stuffed animal!

Love! Mom