Friday, September 30, 2011

the maple tree

Kirsten gave me a frame for my birthday that's specifically a house frame. Soooo, I've been waiting for just the right day to get a picture--when the maple tree is amazing and the sun is shining. Yes! We got it.

To take the pictures I went across the street to the sidewalk. Some teenaged boys were walking along, and they looked at me strangely standing there with my camera. I told them, "I'm taking a picture of my tree."

They turned and looked at it, "Ohhh, that's beautiful."

When I came back, we had the basketball happening.

They're not very good at this point, sorry to say. They'll get better though. Time is on their side.

And here's the crowd in the backyard. Tonight is homecoming, so they dressed all up in school colors and headed out as evening approached.

Maria borrowed my socks.

r.t. showed up in my room wondering if his bandana was appropriate. (It looked good.)

Oops, here's the tree peeking from behind the roof. Wow, the sky was blue today.

And here we are at the end of a very great Friday.

Heidi's baby was here and we went back to bed after she arrived. We watched TV for a while, and she chewed on toys. Then we took a nap for TWO HOURS in the sun. When we woke up, she looked at me and did a little chuckle like, "Are you kidding me?" (It might have been my Einstein bed hair that made her laugh.)

Onward to tomorrow, and Saturday is looking pretty fine. love, Val

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

wednesday wonderful

It was a perfectly gorgeous day.

And that little girl is almost seven months now, and she's going nuts, pulling herself up on the furniture. She falls a lot, and she HATES a bumped head--makes her scream in outrage. But in the little car she's safe, can do all her stunts without hurting herself.

We did some work on the patio.

And then ran through the sprinkler.

Oh yeah, here we've got it going on. This tree came with the house. It's the first one to turn colors and drop leaves, and we knew it was going to happen. It does every year.

Anyway, this day was a very welcome surprise, for which I am grateful. Onward to Thursday. with love always, Val

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

decorating for halloween

We made a trip to Menard's tonight to buy stain for the fence, Julia, her dad, and me, and we found this Simpson's Halloween decoration and it's fun. We ran cords around to a window to plug it in.

The little kids were so excited about putting up the Halloween decorations today. I brought up the boxes and we separated out the Thanksgiving-specific ones, and they had a good time.

Tim knew where some little fake candles were in the buffet. I didn't remember that. We haven't had real candles here in a long time--pretty much hardly ever since the top of the piano burned that time.

This is the first Halloween decoration. My mother in law gave it to me in 1980, but it's still good.

Here's a dude sitting in a basket from Heidi and Joe's wedding with gourds from my parents garden.

Oh, and these placemats! I bought them on clearance last year, so they're brand new--unmutilated. Becka gave us the Halloween dishes many years ago.

And here's a video I found on my camera, not edited for cussing. Whatever, kids. It was a dark, half-rainy, somewhat dull day. We did a worksheet packet on autumn, seemed fitting.

I baked apple muffins, even though I couldn't find my cupcake pans. (Maria found them later.) My cousin gave us the apples from his tree, and we don't know what kind they are, but they were crunchy and bright tasting, wonderful. I bought cinnamon-sugar butter last week--a new product. Well, it's an excellent product with apple muffins. b.g. ate two, and gave one to the dog.

But now it's now and the end of the night. And this was one of those dark, boring days made better by a bunch of kids excited about old Halloween decorations and the dusting of the furniture. Days like this when they take the dark and tedious and make it special, I feel lucky to have kids in my hair still.

This video, I don't know. b.g. was taking a nap and the main directive was: BE QUIET so the child can sleep.


Onward to Wednesday, and to the fine season of autumn. love, Val

Sunday, September 25, 2011

her 89th birthday

We spent the weekend at my parents' place in Wisconsin.

It was a beautiful fall weekend, a little cold, but not too much.

The chickens:

Dan showing b.g. all the tractors in the barn

Here he is showing Tim how to hold a golf club. Normally Tim smacks the ground ahead of the ball so many times before he hits it, I'm surprised the clubs aren't all bent.

This is the supervision of b.g. and the dog so they don't get hit by clubs or flying balls.

And here's the girl with the 89th birthday, opening gifts.

Some art was created. Julia and Lydia did these in a painting lesson with my dad.

These they did on their own.

Here are a bunch of us at the party today. It was at my aunt and uncle's lovely home. The food was potluck, and as always amazing. My cousins are friendly and fun and their kids adorable. It was a great day.

Here she's got help from some great grandchildren. That's my cousin's little girl.

Here is a picture of the view out back. They're on a hill, and the valley drops away for miles, gorgeous.

And my cousin put together a slide show of...well, slides. Remember those? They set up a screen and projector, and these pictures, slides a good fifty years old were as brilliant and vivid as ever.

There were lots of me, and lots of Pam. We are the two oldest grandchildren, and were a popular photo subject. We were there in the summer green hills, my curly hair, and Pam's big dark eyes, in piles of leaves, standing on snowbanks, in Christmas dresses and snowsuits. My baby brother appeared, rosy and blonde.

And there were pictures of my crazy cousins too, and my aunts and uncles as teenagers and in their weddings, and standing by their cars, goofing around in the yard, holiday after holiday.

A picture lit up--my aunt and uncle in matching Nordic sweaters, and their son started to laugh. "What ever made you think THAT was a good idea?" In the picture, my uncle is skinny with a ducktail and my aunt is grinning creamy sweetness.

Well, she started laughing back, and her laughter, Anita's laugh--it's been over a year since I've seen her, heard that laughter. It was the best part of the whole slideshow.

And to my sweet, fearless grandma, the one who has always forged ahead through anything, 89 years of you Grandma, loving us all? There is no one like you. Oh my gosh, lucky, lucky us.

Happy Birthday.

We all love you so, Val

Friday, September 23, 2011

lydia's adorable haircut!

Here's a before picture. This was taken at the lake a few weeks ago--no idea what she's doing.

And here's the haircut. We went there and the girls looked through magazines until they found a picture of Emma Watson. When the guy came over, she told him that's how she wanted her hair.

He peered at the picture for a long minute, then took a good look at her and felt her hair. Then he motioned her over to the shampoo chair.

She gave me a nervous look and followed him.

As he started cutting, long chunks fell on the floor, and then smaller bits as he went around her head snipping. When he cut the long part off in the back and I saw her slim little neck and shoulders I thought, "Oh, how pretty."

She's so happy with her haircut. Lydia, you lovely girl, what a great Friday. love, Mom

Thursday, September 22, 2011

tomorrow is FRIDAY

This girl is very, very mobile this week. Today she crawled from her safe little blanket in the family room out to the kitchen--just where a person wants a precious, beautiful baby, right? Going around the dirty floors.

(Stay on your blanket, p.j.)


Boring on the blanket.

She was almost to the dog water when I spotted her and put her back in the family room. b.g. was interested. He was in the high chair then and asked me where she went? At that point, she was underneath the high chair. He found that funny, leaning to peer over.

The pajamas Heidi brought her in were old ones Lydia and Julia wore. They're some kind of fuzzy, soft polyester, warm and lovely. Except they function exactly like some kind of swiffer suit.

Aaagh. Unwelcome. Gorgeous, friendly baby looking like a dustmop? Ugh.

She fell asleep in my arms later, and her noodley neck, and the weight of her head in my hand, her long legs sprawled across my lap was all too much. I put my nose in her neck and wished this moment could last forever.

Okay, here he is--while p.j. was sleeping, I wrapped him up for a nap and we both slept on the big red couch--me for almost an hour, him for a while longer.

Here he's escaped to the yard after his nap. It was cold today, with a stiff wind, and he was undoubtedly in a wet diaper.

I wanted him to come inside.

But how to get him in without any drama, the dragging of his flailing body and hollering?


I yelled out the door, "b.g.! Time to come inside! We're ready for Moo Jr.s!"

(A Moo Jr. is ice cream on a stick with a chocolate coating.)

He ran straight into the house.

It reminded me of last spring when John wanted t.c. to use the bathroom before they went somewhere, and the kid was hollering about it.

I said, "Go potty and I'll pay you a buck. I'll give you a dollar."

He stared at me for a second, surprised, then ran into the bathroom.

I paid him. Peace prevailed.

Kids are crazy.

As he ate his Moo Jr. I changed his diaper while he stood there. (I did cloth for 8 kids. How I love disposables, with their velcro.) After I had the diaper taped and was trying to tug his blue jeans up again I teased him, "Can I have a bite?"

He frowned, "No, no, Gramma," and tucked the Moo Jr. behind his back.

And this fine video is of the kids fighting. I found it on my camera tonight. (Nobody asks, they just help themselves. grrr. As long as they BRING IT BACK, it's okay.)

Tim makes definite attempts to help her, but she's such an easy target, and she gets so outraged so easily.

What-ever, right?

Tomorrow is Friday and I have a list that seems a bit ambitious considering it's me, and now it's the end of Thursday and time to go to bed. love, Val

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the genes we share

Tonight I was at school conferences with James.

We were not in bathing suits. It's become cold! We had on sweaters.

We met his teachers. They all are personable and positive, in general and also specifically about James and the classes.

This is all good. I talked to a couple of Maria's teachers too, and they were equally happy to discuss that girl and her education.

The French teacher is sweet, has both of them in different classes, and is as elegant as a French teacher would be.

They asked about the grown kids. The phy. ed. teacher wanted to hear about Kirsten. Ms. Berg asked about John, who has been gone from that place for at least twelve years now.

Anyway, as James and I were standing around waiting, I mentioned to him how these occasions amuse me--looking at how much people look like their kids, how the families go together.

The distinctive arched nose, the full, pointy lips, the stride--recognizable generation next.

At preschool years ago there was a mom and daughter duo who looked so alike--fair skin and dark hair, distinctive dark eyebrows, freckles, sparkly denim blue eyes.

I mentioned this to the mom as the kid played off to the side, and she said, "People say this to us all the time. The freaky thing is that we went through adoption process. She and I are not genetically related at all. I take it as an extra sign we were meant to be."

No doubt.

But as it is, these guys are genetically related.

This is the So Serious picture Alicia mentioned. I have no idea why he's so sober. Nothing has gone wrong, everything is same as ever, okay.

And this is the picture of Dan at age 7. This picture has a story.

Of course.

John got a guinea pig for his birthday that year, and named him Nibbles.

Dan's birthday was in August, and we kept our eye on a lovely guinea pig until closer to his birthday.

We brought him home, named him Rusty, and he died within days.

We don't know why. Nothing happened to him, that we know of. Later we wondered if Nibbles was preventing Rusty from getting to the water, but we'll really never know.

While I was getting ready that morning, Dan was in the hallway, with his scratchy, chirpy voice, "Rusty just won't wake up."

I was a kid then too about 25? I thought, "Oh, Dear GOD, help me get through this without screaming."

I told him to bring Rusty so we could see. Dan had him cuddled on his chest, and as soon as I put my hand on Rusty, I knew.

It's a sad thing to tell a child. He was surprised, and baffled, and sad.

We had a respectful burial on the hill.

The next week we went to the pet store with the story, and chose another guinea pig and I insisted on an entirely separate cage. The guy tried to convince me that two male guinea pigs could live in love and peace, man.

I listened for a few minutes and then said, "Are you trying to prevent me from buying this cage?"

He said no. I paid him the $68.

So we came home with this guinea pig, and an entirely separate housing arrangement, one that would not lead to death.

Dan named him Marty, probably after Marty McFly from Back to the Future, which John played incessantly by VCR back then.


We have your Dan. With the Marty on his chest.

And a face full of ambivalence.

Marty had an amazing plume and was a fairly cool guy who lived for many years. Our attachment grew, but on this day, it was a little uncertain.

Marty had personality--the way he slammed his water bottle around in the dark, his wild red hair. He was okay.

All right. Look at this picture if you want, and tell us which parent b.g. resembles more. I love those random combinations of traits, familiar and different every time. love you all so, Mom