Thursday, January 31, 2013

p.j. in charge

 Starting at the very beginning of the day, she wouldn't let her mom change her diaper.   Apparently the child planned to take care of it herself later because I found her in the family room, soggy overnight diaper tossed to the side and she was trying to get a new diaper fastened.    She had the right idea, just couldn't get the tapes unfolded.

Okay, Grandma can help you.   Then she didn't want her leggings or socks back on, and I'm sure not going fight about that.   But in a little while she appeared with the leggings on and the socks on upside down.

Nice work!

Later we knew when she was ready for lunch and even what she wanted to eat because she brought us a sauce pan from the cupboard and a box of mac and cheese from the pantry.

Sounds good.

Then after lunch her aunties thought she should get dressed, and they're right.  That's a good time to get out of pajamas.   Well, she didn't want their help, and I could hear the girls chasing her to where I was sprawled on my bed watching House Hunters.   The baby was irritably yelling back at them, "No!  No!"   She ran in the room wearing only a onesie with the snaps flapping AND a pair of Dora garden gloves.

Okay, that made me laugh.  I helped, and we did get on clothes, but the gloves fell off along the way and when Grandpa handed them to her, she just slapped them out of his hand.

Well.  Nevermind.

She also pushed a kitchen chair over to the washing machine,  threw her snow pants in and put soap on top.  It's fine.  We do laundry constantly, just added some more and who knew the snow pants were even dirty?

And so this very, very cold  Thursday was spent doing absolutely nothing except goofing around and being entertained by a sassy little squirrel of a girl.

It was lovely.   Onward--tomorrow is Friday, which is always a great day.      love, Val

(i love this picture, alicia.  the beautiful room, sweet walter's bald head, her parents, the light in the windows, her serious perfect lips.  gorgeous.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

silly little plant

And hard to get a good picture of it!  

It's cold here today, maybe about ten degrees with a sharp wind.  My bare hands were burning while I carried in the groceries late tonight, and the storm door glass was all frosted.

But this little plant I bought at the grocery store is liking life quite well.

When I bought it, it had no blossoms, but within a couple hours, they were peeking out.  Now tonight a couple are fully open and turning their sweet, yellow faces to the lamp--I suppose because it's warmth.

Oh yeah.  February approaches, and that's a very good thing.  love always, Val

Monday, January 28, 2013


It was a beautiful night, snow falling-- looked like a Christmas card.

Here he is, our January guy.
Dog passing through--

The girls baked these special cupcakes for Saturday night--Reese's peanut butter cups were involved.

They did good.

These two on Sunday afternoon:

My parents were here.  John and Dannell could not be because they have some sick kids.  RSV?  Something like that.  It's not good, especially for the tiny guy, but he's feeling better with a nebulizer and antibiotics.

a picture dannell sent us

As a parent, it's hard to know what we get right.  It's confusing.   But Jay, this I do know:  You don't criticize, and you don't nitpick.

Sometimes you get annoyed there's bitching and even yelling,  "Do any kids in this house EVER GO TO BED??!"   But that's different.  That's situational, not personal. 

 I know for a fact that every one of these people including me, have benefited from that feeling of however we are is quite good enough.  You don't tell us how to be or what to think, just believe we're all in this together.

Here we all are Sweetheart, this whole family who loves you.  Thanks for everything you do for us every day, for your generosity and good cooking, for being able to laugh at yourself, so that we don't forget we need to laugh at our own selves sometimes too.

Thank you for all the ways we count on you--if it's a job that's difficult to impossible, messy, miserable, involves some kind of ridiculous weather challenge?

You'll be there, leading the way.

Happy Birthday, Buddy.   This whole family is nothing but lucky having you.    love, Val and everybody

Friday, January 25, 2013

leaving home

  a cute picture from October

 My grandma died in December, and my grandpa died in April a few years back.   So now the house is sold and mostly empty.   Thursday we went there to help empty the second floor of the house, to get all the last remnants down the skinny, steep stairway, and to take some furniture home.

I walked all around the house and looked out all the windows, winter Wisconsin, snowy hills dropping away, sky expanding, dark dusty edges of pines.   I don't expect to ever be in this house again.  Other people will live here and this hundred year old house will belong to a new century and new people, and hopefully a new family, new memories, and our lives will evolve in other directions, also good.

But the house itself feels like a family member too.

That's the paradox of it, I suppose.  Some of the happiest moments of my life are in this house with my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and holidays and summers and winters, and there actually isn't a single bad thing I can remember.  We weren't prone to arguing or drama, so there is none of that to recall.  People were accommodating and kind, for real.

The food was always delicious and the reception on the TV was reliably terrible.   There was always work being done--either farming or insurance, so the barn and buildings outside and the office off the kitchen manifested the unity between work and family.

My dad had interesting parents too, a sweet dad and a spicy, funny mom.  They were older and I was younger, and in the years since they've been gone I appreciate them even more, the people they were, the ways they showed love to me and each other.

 my mother receiving a kiss from her mother in law, the father in law right behind

My dad has said no matter what his dad was doing, if he arrived, his father would stop and come to greet him.

Yes, like that.

 my grandpa and my little brother

Leaving there hurt so much today, deep in the chest.  I looked out the windows and took pictures of what I saw, and of the wall paper in the closet.  I wandered around in the quaint slanty-ceiling bedrooms upstairs, sat on my grandparents' bed, and brought home a bin of Grandma's clothes which I will so enjoy wearing, odd as that sounds.

It was very cold in the driveway, and the kids were waiting, so I didn't run down the hill to look in the milkhouse one last time.  I know what it looks like, no need.   Later I heard John had looked in all the outbuildings.  Thank you, John.

As we left my aunt arrived, something about crystal candle holders--a gift I had given my grandparents at an anniversary.  My aunt was worried about this, wanted me to have them back, but even when they were in my hands, I told her:  I don't remember.

But her I definitely wanted.  In all this I've been craving my aunts.  They were teenagers when I was born and now we're all not kids anymore.  We have grown kids and grandchildren, and this whole long confusing year has been nothing but a journey of trust and love, and we have lost a lot.

When our car rounded the driveway, I looked at the old barn, the ditch full of bare twisted lilac bushes and then the big painted sign with their names:  Ken and Irene.  Yes, sixty-five years of them here, it's true.  Ken and Irene lived here, and this very sad, but mostly lucky whole family did too.

love always, Val

Monday, January 21, 2013

and lunch at the playland

 After the trains, we had lunch at the playland.   It's all hard surfaces and hyper kids prone to shrieking.

It was fun to watch them play though.  A little screaming never hurt anyone.
 And I got pictures of all my little boys:

That one is getting cooled off by his mom rubbing ice water in his hair.   

Saturday mornings don't come any finer than this one.  

Onward.  It's a bright and shiny Monday, coldest day in a long time--not even going to make it up to zero today.   It's -8 right now, and the kids are here to be babysat.   They ran off with Tim and Julia.  I'm boring, but I'm going to go find them for a few hugs.    love you guys, Grandma

model train museum

 Saturday morning Dan had the idea to meet at the Model Train Museum.  The building it's in is cool, used to be a train station.

On to the models:

 I asked John, "Why do I have so many pictures of you yawning?"

He said, "I don't know, Mother."

Oh my.  What a great morning.    love, Mom