Tuesday, November 29, 2011

something else that caught me by surprise

Is how much fun it is to watch your kids be parents.

They tend to be better at it than we were--their expectations are definitely more realistic. Maybe that's a good thing about having little brothers and sisters?  They came into parenthood already knowing kids are nuts?

I don't know.

But the year is nearly over, and it's actually been a very fine year so far.

He was so delighted with that one inch of snow we had a couple weeks ago.

And this little peanut for 2011, what a girl she is.

I hope 2012 will be just as fabulous as 2011 has been.

I know you already know this, but we love you. love, MOM and DAD

Friday, November 25, 2011


Here's a picture of my dad and John out on the patio last summer.

My parents were good parents, very good--pleasant, safe, reliable, patient, completely decent people.

But they are absolutely spectacular grandparents.  I think it's because as grandparents they cut loose in a way parents can not.

They're extravagant with these kids in every way I can think of, and they're funny.

My mom is the more gentle and supportive type.  My dad is the teaser.

Recently I heard about this joke he played on some other grandkids--not mine.

He does oil painting. He took this up as a hobby, and he told me it was specifically because he needed to cultivate some hobbies for his old age:   things he do can sitting down.

This made me scoff and laugh--hobbies for siting down--except it's very hard to learn oil painting, and not only has he persisted, he also gives tutorial lessons to the grandkids.

Well, this is the joke:  At a thrift shop, he found an oil painting of a beady-eyed dog, and to tease these kids, he brought it home and added some details to the picture.  He signed his name to it, and put birds flying in the corner and so forth. 

Then he sent it home to the kids--a painting I did of your dog.

The kids were conflicted.

It didn't look much like their dog.

What's with the beady eyes?

They tried to be diplomatic, but the as the story goes they frowned, and squinted, and scratched their heads, and looked at each other because it was just so weird.

I heard this story and laughed until I was holding my chest in pain.

I called him on the phone just to LAUGH and asked him, "What would you do if you didn't have grandkids to harass??"

He hooted, "Well then I'd have to harass YOU!"

Oh, thank goodness for the grandkids then.

This is  a picture from the past. That's my dad 30 years ago with John and Dan in his arms, Dan holding the little Vick's nose thing up to him.

Here's something really good to know--whatever laughs, hugs, meals, foolish crap you share with your grandchildren, just go for it. It's more important than it feels in a moment.




About this time, John asked my dad to go down to the basement with him so he could shoot the cap gun.  My dad said, "No, I think you might shoot me."

John said, "Nah, I'll only shoot you in the feet because you're old."  (My dad was 42.)

Oh, life is awful good, and yet you two have created some very big shoes to fill.   love you both so incredibly much, Val

ahh, the end of the day

 This was taken as we sat on the couch before chasing the kids to bed.

The picture below was from earlier, at the tree farm.  This was a new place and the drive there was a little hazardous with Heidi, Joe, p.j. and Kirsten following.  U-turns, quick corners, yikes.  No harm done though.

Heidi phoned and asked me, "Is Dad trying to kill us?"

I answered her truthfully. "No. That's the furthest thing from his intentions."

 Okay, here we are cutting the tree.  I don't know what I'd do without him.

Yes, that's Tim in shorts.

 Here she is, picking out a tree for her own home, for the first time.


 And below are Heidi and Joe.   Last year they had that dastardly fire the week before Thanksgiving, so their first Christmas in their own house, there were no holiday decorations.  They were living with us while their house was restored.

So this is their own first Christmas tree in their own house too, and that makes me incredibly happy.

 Aww, happy girls.

 About this time there were giddy kids raiding the cabinet where the Christmas stuff is stored.

 This is our neighbor across the street.  It's very Las Vegas, and yet I don't really mind.  The enthusiasm is a good thing.
 This is us.  I like those little candlestick lights in the windows.  The days are so short and the dark so long.  They make me happy.   We leave them up until end of January usually, just because we can.

After all that was done, there was still time and energy for the Christmas Village.  My parents gave this to me as gifts over many Christmases. 

It's not Dept. 56's  best selling village, but I like that too.  It's about the Alps and Heidi and Peter and Grandfather and the goats, and that old story.

Last year I was more tired and overwhelmed, and it never did get set up, so I'm proud we got it done this year.

Plus these two girls were so sweet, so excited about it, opening the packages, arranging all of it.  They haven't seen it in two years, so it was very fun for them.

Oh, but then these boxes had to all be sorted out and put away. It was like a big puzzle.

She's playing with the nutcrackers. They each have a different voice and were talking to each other. I couldn't follow the plot, but that's okay.

Oh, onward to Christmas and all the fun that goes with it. love always, Val

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thanksgiving, 2011

It was a fine Thanksgiving Day.  Here they are assembling a new shop vac.  Apparently the plumber used ours to suck some noxious substances out of somebody else's drain.

Oh, we got a guy home from college dusting.

And the tables were finally set:

The usual characters were here:

The eating began:

Everybody brought food, and the meal was delicious.

And a family picture was taken outside.

Lydia, aka Kari, had a haircut last week, and when I saw the guy cutting, thought, "That's really SHORT!  I hope she's not mad!"  But no. She'd brought a picture of just this very short haircut, and she was pleased.

It was brave of her, but it definitely suits her.

This girl was also looking fine.

And this guy too.
They didn't fight as much as usual today.  It was pretty nice.

Here's a den of football watchers.
Okay, and these guys were supposedly going to watch Curious George on my bed.

That's fine.

The main question is whether they're eating anything involving crumbs.

They were not.
But shortly My Sweetie, l.c., was the only one watching Curious George while the rest of the rowdies made foolish calls to Dannell's cell phone.  (l.c. is the little one on Jay's pillow.)

Sigh.   Just nobody call 911, okay?

Okay, here's Tim. Today Heidi cornered him for a serious question.

WHY do you store stuff in your CURTAINS??

She'd asked me about it, like it was some argument I have with him, but no.  He started storing stuff in there, and I'm not very strict anymore in my old age.

I just look away. What's it to me?  Do I look like Martha Stewart?

Heidi asked him why?

"For storage, that's all. So things are close by."  (He used to have a book case headboard, but that's gone, so this is apparently the new version of the ever-cluttered headboard.)

Heidi asked how items were sorted.  Tim told her by priority.  In the closest curtain was a box of Kleenex, because if you need Kleenex, you need it right away.

And also his DS.  (The importance of having that close by needs no explanation.)

"And the Bop-It."

That's when Heidi lost it in gales of laughter,  "The BOP-IT!  What do you need that for when you're going to sleep?"

"Well, nothing. But then I know where it is."

She gave me a long, quizzical look, then looked over at her own baby,  p.j., and started laughing again, "I don't know if I can have kids."

Well, they are a little crazy, true, but mostly in a good way.

For life's bringing us around to this holiday one more year, I'm thankful.

And for my parents and my sister and her fine family who brought food and came and ate and laughed today in easy company, thankful.

For this whole life full of family and racket, goofy dogs and love, and involved discussions about  the evolving and confusing nature of life, I'm grateful.

Thank goodness for all of you.  I'm so incredibly glad we have each other.  love always, Val, aka Mom, aka Gramma

p.s. As I'm about to hit the "publish post" button at 11:55 pm, Tim is here with a pillow pet, showing me some substance on it, and he's not happy.  

It's grape jelly, and Julia's fault.

I told him to just put it on the desk and GO TO BED.

How does grape jelly get on a pillow pet at midnight?  I don't even want to know.   Good night and love, Val