Wednesday, July 31, 2013

fun on friday

Last Friday some guys came to play for a while.

It was a wild little cousin fest.

The nap lasted between two and four seconds and then they hid in the closet, and found the shelf with my pajamas and tried those on.

And now it is the last day of July, which is my favorite month of the year.  But it's okay. August is looking very fine.    love, Val

Monday, July 29, 2013

alicia's birthday

It's past midnight now, so the birthday was officially yesterday even though it still feels like today.

I hope it was a great day.

When I talked to Dan about a birthday party, in all overwhelmed honesty the answer was:  "Let's do it with Tim's birthday."

I so appreciate a true story, the real truth, and I understand.   As much as I want to bake a cake and light candles and all that--we get tired!  There's softball and work and this summer is flying past, and there are many birthdays in August.

Alicia, I got to know Dannell by living with her.  We did for years.  And kind of the same with Joe.  His family lived far from here, so he'd come for long weekends and time in the summer and stay with us.  

You and I never lived together, and had zero sleepovers other than family weekends at the lake, and that's different.

I love how we finally really got to know each other:  You were planning for natural childbirth, and so I gave you some old homebirth newsletters for entertainment.   And then in a bit you shared your blog with me, which I have devoured ever since.    I loved getting to know you that way--you were so observant and really funny besides, and your affection for Dan was evident, which always makes a guy's mom happy.  And then when this blog was a few months old and I was writing about your baby, I sent the address to you.

It's a weird, technology way to get to know each other, but I'm nothing but grateful for it.

Every day for the last what? dozen years?  You've been nothing but nice to me, even though I'm your mother in law and probably irritating as hell at times.  You're kind to my little kids all the time--even when they're rowdy and foolish.  To Dad, you are nothing but sweet, and you're good to Dan and are a crazy good mother to those little blonde boys we both adore.

Happy Birthday and of course it's true: The whole family is better because of you.  Thanks for being ours.  love, Val and Jay and everybody.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

60th anniversary

Happy Anniversary!  

Jay's parents, sixty years.

Some pictures from the party:

This makes me laugh a little--the next generation of mommies making lots of little plates for lots of little people.   And then the wound up little darlings barely eat anyway at a party.   I've scraped thousands of meals into the trash--probably enough to have fed at least another ten kids.

Nothing changes.  Kids are still crazy--but that's the good part.

Grandma and John:
Grandpa and Kirsten:

He told me, "We are being nice."

It was true, too.

This is a picture of all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were at the party today.  One niece and her kids were not able to be there, and Little Jay couldn't come either.  But it's  most of them--click on it to enlarge:

And this going on smack in the middle made Little Jay laugh right out loud with me when I showed him, "Now we'll zoom in."

This is my niece's little girl squeezing the cheeks of b.g.'s little brother, trying to help him smile.

As if he needs any help smiling, but it's a nice thought.   Oh my goodness.

Mom and Dad--Congratulations on your anniversary.    This whole wild family loves you so much, and wouldn't even be here without you.

love always,  Val and Jay and EVERYBODY

sunset on the ride home

love, Val

reunion, 2013

Lydia got to pet cats as much as she wanted.   I took no pictures the whole day, forgot the camera was even in my purse.  These pictures are Maria's or my niece's.

My Aunt Anita and Uncle Roger hosted this picnic at their house.  It's beautiful there at their big farm in the woods.   My cousins took us on a ride on their John Deere Mule or Gator--whatever it is.  It was great for going up and down the hills, loaded up with all of us in the back.

The woods are lovely--my cousin pointed out things through the trip and at the last part she said, "This is my favorite part, the most beautiful place."   She said it had never been logged, so there was little brush and the tree canopy arched high above.   Sound was muffled, and on this overcast day it was weirdly green, felt like the bottom of an aquarium.

Sitting in a pile of my cousins, all of us crowded together, listening to their voices, I felt very lucky to have grown up with people so good-natured and kind.

This was the first time we've all been together since Grandma's funeral in December.  Though it was as fun as always to be together--tons of good food, lots of laughing--there was a big fat empty spot where Grandma and Grandpa should be.    We'll get used to this, I suppose, but it's going to take time.

It's good we have each other.

 There was an array of the last of the items from Grandma and Grandpa's house that my aunt's grandchildren arranged on long tables and the gang was told: Take anything you want because what is left will be donated.  So the kids all did, and it was wistful, but okay.

My sweet cousin had an album from my grandparents' 25th anniversary celebration back in 1966.  It's quite a treasure, photos and cards, and as she paged through it she said, "They must have not let us kids sign the guest list."

I was confused, "Honey, you weren't even born.  You didn't even have any little hands to write with."


A look came over her face, and we laughed our heads off--she was remembering their 50th anniversary celebration.   Wow how many years went by.

kitties in doll clothes on a kitchen chair

Her little boys are the ones who made a bet with my mother last spring when they were cleaning out the garage.    One of them asked if he could go look in the old outhouse?

My mom said he should ask his Grandma (her sister.)

He said, "Oh she'll never let me. She'll say, "There might be wild animals in there.""

My mom doubted that, "Oh she will not."

"Yes she will! I'll be you a dollar that's what she says!"

So they bet.

And when Aunt Pat came back he asked her, "Grandma, can I go look in the outhouse?"

"Oh no. There might be a skunk in there."

My mom said the kid leaped in the air, arm over his head and hollered, "Skunk!  Technically a wild animal!  Pay up!  Pay up!  You owe me a dollar!"

Oh my goodness.

Yesterday my cousin Michelle played swing ball with all the kids.   The ball is pitched to a kid on the swing and how far it gets kicked indicates how many bases and so forth.   Her husband and I watched for a few minutes, her patiently navigating all the arguing and personalities.

He said, "This is Missy's made-up game. She makes up the rules."

In a few minutes she said she was cold and asked Dan to take over pitching and said to him, "You know the rules, right?"

Dan said he thought so, and her husband howled, "They are MADE UP rules."

Oh well.

Grandpa and Grandma

It was a great day, and thanks to Roger and Anita and their family for hosting us all, and to all my cousins, uncles and aunts:  Thank you for your friendship and love.     love you all so, Val and all the rest

Thursday, July 25, 2013

no pudding for you

Here's Maria.

Today was the day the wisdom teeth came out.

I used to think this was somewhat of a racket, an invented problem.  Now I'm not sure.  Jay's wisdom teeth finally caused him trouble in his thirties and it was a tough surgery.  His upper sinus cavity was punctured in the process and he had a nasty infection.   Mine came through but had to be pulled by the dentist eventually because of decay.   

So anyway, Maria has had one hurting on and off for about six months and today was the day.

She survived quite nicely.   I knew she was no longer under anesthesia when she  peeled her eyes open and noticed I had on her shoes.  We have identical pairs. Hers are one size bigger, but that's not even necessary because we have the same size feet.

Then she said, "And you took both pair to the wedding.  Do you even know where yours are?"

I knew she was going to be fine.

On the way home there was a bout of intense nausea--drenching sweat, white lips.  I pulled the car over fast so she could puke on the grass, and she knelt there for a while until she felt better but never did actually throw up, so that was good.     A guy came out on his deck and watched us closely.   I know he was completely baffled.

(If a car stopped in front of my house and a girl fell out, ripping bloody gauze out of her mouth, and knelt there while a lady hovered around and brought her a bottle of water, I'd be wondering too.)

As the hours went on, she felt better and better.   I ran to the store and fetched her prescriptions and also pudding and jello cups and Gatorade.

Heidi and Kirsten and p.j. came for supper. They heard their dad was grilling burgers.  (Kirsten stays with Heidi when Joe is traveling so she can help out with the child.)

Well, after supper ALL the kids were ON these stupid pudding cups like white on rice.  No, you can't eat them!  They're for Maria who had oral surgery today.


Little Jay was perched on the washing machine next to the fridge, "No pudding for YOU."

Jay was there and he started laughing, "That's in a song! It is! What song is it?"

Heidi laughed too, and knowing the loud bands her father used to enjoy in his youth snarled in her best rocker voice, "NO PUDDING FOR YOU!"

 Jay said, "It was Pink Floyd, I think."

I said, "Pink Floyd?  They didn't do much screaming, did they?"

Maria got on her little device and found the song within a minute.  Brick in the Wall--the line is at the end.

The other line we always laughed about in that same song was this one:  "Hey. Teacher. Leave those kids alone."

Yes, indeed.  No pudding for any of you except Maria.

Maria?    This little ordeal was not fun, but you dealt with it well.   Tomorrow will be a better day.


love, Mom

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

a beautiful place

 Yes, it is, astonishing.

We laughed about this, how fussy they are at the public pool about every little thing.

At the resort pool, smoking is fine IN the pool.  There's a swim up bar.  Kids dragged a big lawn chair off the edge, and nobody cared.

We observed and ordered chicken wings. They came with fries, as well as rum and coke.  Or plain coca cola lite if you prefer.  (I prefer.)

The parents eventually dealt with the lawn chair problem. (Lawn chairs are not great rafts, as it turns out.)  It was fine.

Pictures from the ocean:

We were here to attend a wedding on the beach and celebrate, in a place on this planet it almost didn't even seem real.  The bride and groom are both good-natured and gentle.   I can see why they fell in love.

The bride, on the arm of her father:

Congratulations, guys.  Best wishes always.

And then we came home.

We came home to a house full of people happy to see us, happy kids, bouncy dogs.  One very much great part about going away is coming home again.

love you all so, MOM

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

turning nine

And yes with the Justin Bieber cake again.

We picked it up at the bakery and the baker seemed just as amused by his creation as he did last year.

It was a different baker, but he brought it out and asked, "So who is Julia?"

And then he peeped the lid open so she could see the gorgeous face of the Bieber, and she gasped and grinned, and so did he.

Oh, to be nine.

That's m.c. above, foot healing nicely, though these things take an infuriating amount of time.  She informed me that Justin Bieber has been seen smoking pot.

Well, I didn't even know what to say about that, not knowing the man personally.

I waved my hand and said, "Ach, he's Canadian."

For some reason, she found that hilarious, though I don't know why.

This buddy was here too, and his parents even stayed for cake. 

 Okay, this rowdy scene is my grandbabies playing Don't Break the Ice.

Only with these guys it's: Yes Break the Ice Fast. 

They all frantically pound at once until it's done.   This takes three to seven seconds.

Time for gifts.  I told her because she received that gorgeous doll in the mail from one set of grandparents, and her other grandparents and me and Dad all went together to buy her that blessed Nintendo 3DS, there might not be many gifts to open.

Did she understand that? 

Well, there were other gifts too.

This is Tim getting wrassled back into the fireplace by a small, wild nephew.

He laughed.

And at the end of the evening, time for cake.  There were two kinds of ice cream--chocolate chip and cotton candy, and nine candles on the Justin Bieber cake.

And they were blown out in a flash, and we ate.   And after a bit the wild ones put on pajamas and kissed us all good bye.

Julia?  My baby girl?  I have described you as the maraschino cherry on top of a big sundae of family, and that is you:  the grace note at the end, the fancy curlicue that makes everything complete.

I love your chubby lips and your weird, goofy nine year old teeth.  I love your long fingers and toes and your greenish-gold eyes.   I love your energy and scrappiness, your loud laugh, your big heart.

This family is just right because you're here.  We're so lucky and we know it.

Happy Birthday.   love forever, Mom and Dad and everybody