Sunday, January 30, 2011

a very perfect little hideout

see that glimmer of light?

She was mad. Angrrrry.

Lydia and m.c. wanted time alone, Friday. They wanted time to themselves, without her, little outrageous, scrappy, squirrely her.

She was pretty insulted.

In her huff she stormed and stomped, received some sympathy and also some suggestions that she forget about it and find something else to do.

Well, she found this to do.

check out those long toes. they make me laugh--her and little jay with the toes

And it turned out to be surprisingly satisfying and fun. It was also a way to thumb her nose at the obnoxious duo that is t.c. and Uncle Tim. They're just so far into Guyland she can hardly stand it. They find her disgust hilarious, but fairly unimportant.

After she'd been in there a long time, I wondered if she'd fallen asleep and knocked on the door.

No answer.

I peeked inside. She was playing Kari's pink Nintendo DS, quite happily curled on a big couch pillow in the dark.

It was a peaceful weekend. Jay went ice fishing with John and Dan and their friend Ed.

We were here. Heidi, Joe, and I made a brave trip to Costco. I filed papers and cleaned the office, and this morning even made it to church with James, Tim, and Julia.

Lydia said she was too tired for church. I was a little irritated and thought, "Okay, fine. I have no time to deal with you," and left. Well, she started puking while we were gone. She wasn't tired! She was sick!

Yeah, the barfing. She was on the bathroom floor with a pillow and blanket most of the day, but she's feeling better now, just a bit wrung out and tired. Should be a fun week, eh? Onward. February approaches. Bring buckets. love always, Val

Friday, January 28, 2011

aww, he's 51. i remember when he turned 18

But that was quite a long time ago. I gave him a pair of luxurious down-filled mittens. They're still in the mitten box now.

We had a party tonight, of course. He loves ribs and potato salad, so he made both last night while I was working--between driving kids to basketball, he cooked.

Excellent results. (Food and everything.)

It was a rather loud party.

Surprise, surprise.

Many characters were there.

this guy loves the upstairs. they always recongnize their own kind.

this guy is home for the weekend

serious sweetie

smiling sweetie

James and Sophie

Much eating.

Including cake.

At the end of the evening, as John and Dannell attempted to remove an annoyed and difficult t.c., Miss m.c. came leaping down the stairs wearing a new necklace Lydia had made for her--little sparkly crystal beads and the words, "Zo Zexy."

Dannell did a double take. "What does that say?" Then she put her forehead on the cool door casing and laughed. m.c. insisted she would not wear it to school. Dannell kept nodding, eyes shut.

I'm sorry, Honey.

I understand. Kirsten wanted one too, and here it is.

Other random pics from the evening. These pics of t.c. and Uncle Tim are in response to my request that they "Smile nice."(yah, hopeless.)

And now it's now and time for bed. He's already beat me there, sprawled on his back with a flowered pillow over his chest.

Happy Birthday, You. love, Me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

multi tasking tooth brushers

This morning when I picked up James from band, it was so January--the sky completely white, the snowbanks bright white. The trees all looked tan and gray, even the pines looked a funny charcoal color, rather than green. Every house had a perfect white roof, white tendrils curling from all the chimneys.


I was still in my pajamas in the car, feeling extraordinarily tired and also sorry for myself. I'd wanted to go to bed and stay there until tomorrow.

Today's Jay's birthday though, and in reality, I'd rather bake him a cake than sleep. (There was an internal discussion about that. The man won.)

But later while driving to the grocery store for flour and cocoa, ice cream and candles, the sky had brightened and the angle of the sun had a sudden February-ness about it.

We got the cake in the oven, and then took all the holiday candle lights out of the windows. Moving on! Gotta turn to face spring! Last year at this time I was stranded on the couch with a hurt back from falling on the front steps. Glad it's now.

Okay, a little bit ago I told the kids to brush their teeth, and then heard the little piano and the electric toothbrushes going.

When I came around the corner, there was Tim on the piano, brushing his teeth.

It made me laugh right out loud. By the time I came back with the camera, it was Jule on piano.

Gosh, they make me happy.

So does birthday cake, and so does the guy we baked it for. Happy Birthday, Buddy. love forever and always, Me

Monday, January 24, 2011

her buddies

Heidi's friends held a baby shower for her yesterday.

We were pretty impressed by the decorating, the cake, the food--oh my goodness the food. These people can cook.

They decorated a series of onesies for occasions through the baby's first year, pretty cute, and the love that went into all this work was pretty evident.

It was a great time.

It's pretty impressive too, all the new gadgets for caring for babies. It'll be interesting to see which ones stand the test of time.

When b.g. was born, Alicia was certain she did NOT want some garish plastic baby contraption taking up half the dining room. But then they were given one, and she said how much the child loved it--what could she do? He'd bounce and spin and chew on the attachments. She let the baby have his fun.

A old friend who teaches special ed told me, "Yeah, kids affect our behavior way more than we affect theirs."

You know, there's a lot of truth in that.

Plus we're such wimps when we just want to SLEEP. Anything, sweetheart, anything, just let me SLEEP. Please.

The party was especially nice because it helped Heidi focus for a bit on the baby, rather than on the stupid fire and the tedious, aggravating repair process. Yeah, a baby's going to be here soon.

And there's a reason to have a small hope they might be back home before then.

Hey, Girls. I'm so glad Heidi has you. love, Val

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

another point of moving on

Okay, so she had some fun stuff she was thinking about taking to Goodwill and called us first.

Hot pink polka-dot comforter with shams. Fuchsia and orange quilt. Striped sheets. A crazy chandelier. A floor lamp. Trinkets.

Yes, yes, and more yes. The girls were excited.

She brought them by, and she's a ball of energy who makes everything special. The kids adore her mostly because of the way she tunes in and notices them. Even my big teenagers slide up to the side and squeeze her. It's the beanie babies she brought them when they were little, the teasing and jokes, the bear hugs since they were tiny.

One morning in church, she reached over the pew and took wiggly Julia by the hand and they left. In a little while they came back and she whispered, "We had to go potty."

Julia got on my lap again and the evidence of the truth was right there.

I whispered back, "She smells like donuts!"

"Just ONE donut HOLE."

She's my buddy, and I have no idea why she ever befriended me, but I love that she did.

My life is better with her in it. She brought qualities I didn't even realize were lacking, and it was like turning on a light switch, but she said we make her "believe it's possible," whatever that means. She actually said that.

I showed her Tim's room. "You gotta see this."

She took one look at the ceiling and the sponge painting, grabbed Tim and said, "Timothy! This is child abuse!"

He laughed, but he agrees. This thing with the ceiling is dreadful, and we've battled this ceiling now, damned flat roof, for 22 years. We're so over it too.

t.c. told others he couldn't sleep in Tim's room when he stayed because, "There are holes in the ceiling and buckets everywhere."

Okay, that was one terrible day, not every day. There hasn't been a single drip in there now in weeks--since we cleared off that bad ice dam.

But it's grim.

So anyway.

Jay hung up the chandelier in Maria's before it ended up broken in some tragic accident involving an 8 year old boy and a toy jackhammer.

About the 80s hearts and flowers wallpaper that I'm very sentimental about because it's all about Heidi and Kirsten's childhood, she very un-sentimentally said, "Oh. No. I think that might be child abuse too." The pink gingham curtains I sewed in 1990? She shook her head no.

She's right. It's over. Whether we redecorate or not, those girls are grown women and their sweet childhood bedroom matters only to me and I can let go of the physical and still love the memory.

When I was a kid, there was an upstairs bedroom at my grandparents where it felt high in the trees like the girls' room does. It had a curved wall and big rose wallpaper, a mirror with a maple frame and an iron baby crib in the corner.

They were so pleased one weekend when we arrived to show us they'd remodeled the room. The curved wall was now flat. The wallpaper was replaced with PANELING. The crib and mirror were gone.

I'm sure that experience plays its part in my reluctance to change this bedroom.

that chandelier is so pretty

The ceiling fan they tied Barbie dolls to with the belts from their bathrobes? That thing is long gone. Kirsten said they played with the ceiling fan more than most of their toys. Sigh. I didn't know. It's not like they asked permission.

Upstairs is a whole different world. I can feel it as I'm climbing the stairs.

I told Tim he'd have to move up to Jay's bed when he goes back to college, so we can work on his room.

He's pretty pleased. James looked less impressed.

And after that, Maria and I are going to take down the old wallpaper. I honestly still really like it, even all these years later, but I can do it. Yes, I can.

Thanks, Jody. You make me a better person.

We love you. Val

Okay, look--to the left, Besse Pease Gutmann, and the right is a framed, embroidered thing Jay's sister made for Heidi when she was BORN. It's still on the wall up there. Heidi is 26 years old. Oh Jody. It was time for an intervention.

well, they've gone home now

And it's very, very quiet.

First it was very, very loud, and a very lot of chow mein was eaten.

this was saturday, not today, thankfully

l.c. was My Sweetie for the last five days. He hugged, he told little jokes, was thoroughly charming. He took exactly one nap in five days, didn't cry, was completely Mr. Mild.

And then his mom showed up and he was pissed. I'm sure he was mad they left. He was mad when John dropped him off, but rebounded quickly, played with the kids, or found me or someone else to carry him around when he wanted that. He talks, so it isn't hard to figure out what he wants.

She came in and it was like one continuous fit. "Don't put me down, but I'm going to make your life miserable." For Dannell, who had been missing her Sweetie, this was terrible. She missed him. She adores him. She left him with his flippin' GRANDPARENTS for crying out loud, not in a baby boot camp. And he's mad. And he's going to make her pay.

Sigh. Hopefully he'll recover quickly.

When t.c. heard they were coming to pick them up, and I said how happy he'd be to see them, he said, "Yeah, but why do they have to come back TODAY?"

I'm glad he had a good time.

Now it's time for bed, back to reality, I guess. Fourth quarter taxes are next on the list, and then wrapping up the year. Onward, 2011 has arrived. love, Val

Sunday, January 16, 2011

another fine day

We headed for my parents in the afternoon. t.c. leaped in the air when I told him where we were going, rushed around to find his socks. Should he wear his boots or his shoes? Shoes or boots? What should he DOOO?

And then there was the bitching about where everybody was sitting in the car. Okay, a real nice grandma hollered, "Just GET in the CAR!" He frowned at me disgustedly and took his seat.

Oh yeah.

They played their little hearts out at my parents, ate ice cream, and hated to leave.

This guy fell asleep in the car and was carried inside where he had a lovely long snooze on the big red couch, so this is why he's still upstairs playing Barbies at 10:30 at night, but that's okay.

We tried putting him to bed, but when t.c. was sound asleep and he was in the little crib yelling, "Gram-paw! Gram-maw!" we took him back out again. He holds his tiny little arms up to be carried around, whispers to me what he wants. I understood that little, "Bah-bees." Oh sure, go ahead.

Julia and Kari were very concerned when he arrived upstairs, thought he'd somehow jumped the crib without our knowing. That was pretty funny.

We'll try sleep again in a little while.

I talked to b.g.'s other grandma today. That's where he's staying, and it sounds like they're having a good time. He's sleeping in their bed, swilling bottles, ruling the roost. He was at his other great-grandparents' today too, being charming.

Imagine that, huh?

Happy Sunday. love, Val

Saturday, January 15, 2011

day two

Has gone well, no disasters, no crying, lots of fun.

t.c. was up at 6:40 and we told him, most sincerely, that it was still dark out, still night. Go back to sleep. l.c. was given a drink and covered up. He snuggled in a curl with his pillow pet and it was all quiet.

t.c. was up at 8:00, and he was sure he should wake up Tim and l.c. and we were definite: "No. They are tired. You cannot go in there and bother them."

His response? "I'm not going to BOTHER them. I just want to talk to them!"

Oh, absolutely not. He wanted to go upstairs and rouse people like Kari, m.c., and Julia, James, Maria, and Jay.

No, no, no. They're tired. They're sleeping.


He lived with it, and when they finally all got up at 9:30, he was pretty happy, complained to them of the BOREDOM.


Okay, this video was made during the couple hours I had to work this morning. This would not have been possible had I been here, mostly because of the little tin canisters.

Do you see those adorable colorful things? They're durable and all, little metal canisters from the 1940s and 50s. So what are they doing in a rock band? Getting unceremoniously smacked around?

I watched this and felt a little bit angry. Tim and I are going to watch the video and discuss this tomorrow, his use of a toy jackhammer against them.

He was so bent out of shape tonight when I threw away a remote control car that doesn't work, that we had to fetch it back from the trash to save, in case we can find a part for it at Radio Shack. (Highly doubtful, but whatever.)

I would never smack his possessions around in a rock band.

Or would I?

Here are a few rowdy pictures from last night. She's stolen my heart, her dramatic flair, her happy energy, her funny comments about her outrageous little cousins. Julia and Lydia adore her.

This is what Heidi and I found in the family room when we went to shut off the lights, this overwrought little auntie. It is not easy being an aunt at six. She loves her insane little nephews, but she's overpowered. The only tears today were pretty much hers--being bossed, being left out, unfair this and that. And then she gets mad, so she's not open to any input either. It's impossible to balance, but it's not for lack of trying. We did try to sort things out.

I moved her over and put her head on a pillow properly so she won't wake up with a wrenched neck.

Onward to Sunday. love, Val

Friday, January 14, 2011

okay, here we are

In the middle of the night of the five day sleepover.

Uncle Tim is asleep and t.c. is beside him on his Pokemon pillow.

l.c. is snoozing in the bright fuschia pack and play bed.

It took Jay and me several minutes of fiddling to get the baby monitor to work. Contraptions! Technology! What's wrong with babies that they can't yell loud enough to be heard? (What kind of dreamers are these parents, they think they baby won't cry loud enough to hear?)

Well, l.c. most definitely doesn't have a loud voice, and we do NOT want him crying and scared. We've got the monitor next to our heads.

Plus, Sam is there. She always has to sleep next to the baby. When b.g. is here, she throws herself down next to the big red couch while he naps. Right now, she's pressed tightly against l.c.'s bed, next to t.c. and Tim.

Today t.c. and Tim played in the snow for hours, and t.c. pounded on the door and came in yelling for me to come pull patio furniture out of the snowbank. I can't do that! Who could?

Little Jay?

You go ask him.

He ran upstairs in his boots, covered in snow, even to the hat.

Shortly, Little Jay was in the kitchen going, "What do you want me to do? Show me the chair?"

In a minute he came back inside, successful. I asked him about it. His response? "The hell if I know. He's happy."

Here they are with the play doh. When I nibbled l.c.'s neck on each side, asking, "Are you my sweetie?" kiss, kiss, he'd grin and giggle. Other side, "Are you my sweetie?" kiss, kiss.

He's delectable.

Onward to Saturday. love, Val


I'm not crafty. I look at stuff, I see stuff, not potential, not artistic or useful things.

A friend is a decorator and she can see possibilities everywhere. Everywhere she goes things are better, brighter, more special and fun. (Part of that is just her, too.)

Okay, which brings me to the point.

Weirdly, strangely impressive.

Oh, and this guy has showed up for the weekend. We got back from picking up James from band and I heard this booming voice, "Gram-maw! Look behind you!"

"It's you! I'm so glad you're here!"

"Yeah, for five days!"

Oh my gosh.

love, Val

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


This girl has it.

She's bold and graceful and openly loves without reservation. She's honest, yeah even to the point of bluntness now and then, plus she's also fairly hilarious.

I'm so glad to know her.

She came up with the idea it was time to get baptized, so Sunday was the day. (Usually it's infants, but not always. Little Jay was three.)

She stood smiling in the sunshine in her pretty Christmas dress with her mom and John and Dannell beside her and the moment was incredibly sweet. The pastor scooped water over her head, said the words, and it felt just right.

Later there was a quite delicious dinner, and a fancy cake, and a lot of racket, all in all a totally great day.

Happy Baptism, You. We love you so.
love, Val and Jay and all the kids

Saturday, January 8, 2011

a very fine occasion

This girl was Confirmed today. It's a Lutheran thing, happens after a couple years of classes, then there's this special ceremony marking graduation.

We went to their church, which is different from our own, and yet the same. We go to an old church in the city, an old stone and stained glass building, gothic cathedral kind of place. Theirs is a contemporary block building with lovely padded chairs and a jumbo tron and a rock band. My sister says it isn't as rowdy every Sunday.

The kids loved it. Julia was dancing in the aisle at one point, red satin skirt spinning, blonde hair flying. The pastor is an old Norwegian though, and the sermon was thoroughly Lutheran. Love each other. Take care of each other. It was a really fun time.

Our niece read a long bible passage, and didn't miss even a single word.

she and maria from a gorgeous green lake summer some years ago

Once upon a time she was a scrappy young squirrel, round cheeks and big brown eyes. When she disagreed with my sister she'd tell her, "My OTHER mother lets me do it." I've heard of imaginary friends, but an imaginary mother? Oh yeah.

here she is beside me holding julia the day she was born

Now she's a dignified teenage person, a young woman, learning to drive, all Confirmed now and all that.

We went back to their house for a feast with the whole family. The kids were crazy excited. A trip to my sister's thrills them as much as a trip to Disney.

Congratulations, Sweetheart. We love you so. love, Aunt Val