Thursday, January 30, 2014

a dance party i found on my camera

This was a surprise!    love you kids, MOM

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

fifty four

Today was the birthday party.  The kids were all happy to see each other.

Here's m.c. opening a few extra birthday gifts.
 This little guy is approaching two and he was such a mild baby, but now he's a sassy little devil.

Ach, blurry.  Blurry!  So annoying.

 Heather came by, which was sweet to come be with us and say good-bye because at the end of the evening Maria rode back out to the university with Little Jay.   He doing his last semester, and she's heading into the second half of freshman year.
It's weird sometimes, thinking about that.  He's almost done school, ready to head out into his life, and she's all grown up too. 

Here's a picture I love from a long, long time ago.   Jay's offering to nurse Maria, unzipped the front of his Barney pajamas.  

And her, she's so little she doesn't even use her hands yet, but she's mastered the skeptical expression already.

Here they are now:

My parents were at the party today too.

Here b.g. is weeping because his cousins have to leave, so they're having a hug.

Time for cake:

Jay, you are the guy who keeps this family going.  In every way you are a force forward, helping, feeding, defending, making us laugh, telling us to keep going when we need to hear it, and telling us to hang it up when enough is enough and it's better to walk away.

You also work on yourself, at finding better ways to do things, kinder ways to be.  Not everyone does this.  You always have.

You figured out that instead of being a disciplinarian, less is more.  If you want them to do something differently, or you see a problem on the horizon, you speak up.  

"Keep it up and that dog will bite you."

"Honest to God! What do you do to these fishing poles??"

"Has anyone in this house ever heard of bedtime?!"

And the one that cracked my mother up, you teaching John to be gentle with the clutch on his dirt bike: "If  you're hard on the machinery, it will break.  Take it easy."

(She snickered about your speed demon days, "He learned that the hard way, didn't he?")

Because you don't make suggestions very often, when you do, they take you seriously and listen.  They may still do it their way, but they did stop and hear.  A lot of times they even reconsider.

 Or sometimes they explain, and there's more to it, so their way makes sense.

You don't criticize or pick at us.  As much as you help all of us, you also let us help you, not that you're always the most gracious about it, but you still let us, especially James with your phone.

So, from all this vast horde of people who love you:  This family would be so muddled and so BORING without you.    

Everything is better because you're here, and this is a very lucky family.

love forever, Me, and the Kids and Everybody

a gem from your 40th birthday

Saturday, January 25, 2014

the end of saturday night

 Today we baked a cake for Jay's birthday tomorrow.  Julia did the decorating.

And it was the Winter Dance and these two went.  Aww, look how cute you guys are.

 And then we went downtown to where my sales manager was playing jazz.   The food was interesting and delicious and the music wonderful.

And that is that. Onward to Sunday.   love, Val

Friday, January 24, 2014

a great friday

Friday is my favorite day of the week.  It's all that unspent weekend potential, best day of the week.

So when Alicia emailed yesterday asking if I could watch these boys because she had a deadline, I texted back:  "Yes."

Thank goodness for deadlines, maybe.

See that picture above? They actually offered to pose for me.   "Grandma!  Look at us!"

We had a day of decadent grandparent, aunt and uncle fun.   They ate whatever they asked for, movies played all afternoon, toys of every kind were spread out across all the rooms.

There were hugs and Moo Jrs and Space Chimp on TV.  It was great.

The little one--they tell me he is in the Terrible Twos.  I didn't see anything terrible, but it cracked me up that he makes accusations to the others.  I don't even mean tattling--he really didn't, but his tone and attitude can get accusatory.   I found it pretty hilarious, and these babies are so darn smart.

They did this too, and Lydia video taped a moment of it. 

Happy Friday.   love you all so darn much, Grandma

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

tuesday game

 This afternoon we made it to James' basketball game. They won, and he played well, and it was great.

Before we left I asked him to please play good because if you don't, it's not very inspiring.

He stared at me.  Apparently being inspirational isn't one of his priorities.
They charge us to watch the game, which I think is a total rip-off.   First we payed more than a few bucks for him to participate, and its a public school, and it still cost almost $30 for the family to come watch the game. 

That's annoying.  But it was fun anyway.  I did feel inspired, James.

This little girl was back today, getting watched.  We were in bed this morning watching Cat in the Hat, and Nick and Sally and The Cat were chattering on and on, as they will do.  This was about panda bears.   They handed the panda a stalk of bamboo, and I said to the child, "Hmm. They're feeding the bear a stick."

She replied, "That's what pandas eat, sticks and leaves," like isn't that common knowledge?

How did she know that?

(click on any picture to see it larger)

I told Heidi it reminded me of when Little Jay was four and the teacher told me he knew every color, even ones like pink and gray, and all the shapes, even extra ones like diamond and oval.

"You must work with him a lot."

I was in college and had other babies and he and I had never had a single conversation about colors or shapes.  How did he know that?  

No idea.

It's just like how Tim can put together anything from a diagram.  I didn't teach him that. 

He had to specifically  work to memorize the days of the week and months of the year--first kid I ever had to specifically teach THAT to, but it's so weird.

How did he absorb nothing about how time is measured?  How did he know all the other things he knew instead?

It's all a big, fat mystery to me.

Anyway, we're heading back into the deep freeze again as we cruise toward the end of January, which puts us one month closer to spring.

love, Val

Monday, January 20, 2014

quiet, quiet winter

Today we took down the Christmas Village, a good job done, packed it all in the boxes and stored it. Then we took all the little candles nightlights out of all the windows.  I usually leave those two things up long after the Christmas tree is taken down, and now it's time to put those to rest too.

January is so dark and cold, and this winter has been very cold--more severe cold this winter than there's been for years.

But the living room has been restored to its normal boring-ness, and a bunch of bored kids helped do it.

Here are a couple of them, still yukking it up, playing video games.   She finally sleeps in her own bed, and Tim is so happy because she kicks like a crazy mule all night long.  We knew she'd sleep in her own bed eventually.
In other news, I think a real estate listing of mine may well have a buyer, and I'm sooo happy about that.
We'll see how the week plays out. This seems to be a good one.  love forever, Val

Friday, January 17, 2014

you're killin' me, kid

This is the note My Sweetie handed me today.  I thanked him, and then he said, "It's supposed to say, I love you because you're the best grandma in the whole world, but I don't know how to spell all that yet."
Okay, I know I'm not, but I love that he wrote this and read it to me.

Oh, Sweetie.   You are awful sweet.   love you so, Grandma

Thursday, January 16, 2014

swimming lessons

Late this fall, the brochure arrived in the mail.   I was in my big Getting Things Done mood, and was susceptible to their advertising:  Learn to swim for safety, and it's warm here--no blue-lipped, shivering kids waiting for their turn, small class sizes.

Well, they have not disappointed.  The teacher is enthusiastic and friendly.  It's only the three of them in the class, and she was surprised by how well they tackled front crawl.  I told her they do this all summer at the lake.  They just are wearing life jackets, which is very different. But they're totally comfortable in the water.

It was nice to see.  Nobody's playing basketball this winter--the league is too disrupted to work for us, and winter gets long.  This is the only activity they'll have.  We didn't sign them up for Zumba, nuthin'.  Just swimming, in this tropically hot room where the ceiling kept dripping condensation on my glasses.

And her--she's a story all in herself.  She hears the word swimming and goes totally berserk, searching her backpack for her bathing suit, howling and crying at the top of her lungs, "Me going too!"

Well, this week we were stealth.  We packed the bags last night, and no discussion of anything was permitted today. The word, "swimming," did not pass our lips.   Julia wanted her hair braided for swimming, and p.j. wanted her hair braided too, though she knew not why.  It was tough to do--her hair is slippery and she kept moving her head, but look how cute she is:
We sneaked out the front door while she watching cartoons with Grandpa, no trauma or drama, whew.

We're halfway through January now, and that's a good thing.   love you all so, Mom

Monday, January 13, 2014

science museum

We haven't been there for years, but James asked to go, so we did.   He said some of the things he remembered, like the mummy, and the sneeze machine.

There's a lot to take in.  I'd like to go back again with Lydia, Tim, and Julia and go slowly and do some of the experiments.

 Lydia wanted to touch that bear, but see how high the Plexiglas is?  No touching for you.  Her winter coat became a burden at some point--too heavy to carry, too hot to wear, but this worked.

That big circle on the left is a slice of a Douglas Fir tree, 522 years old.

 The big windows, the light--it was so pretty in the winter sunshine, views of St. Paul.

Okay, we finally found this on the way out.   Jay's friend Desi was sure it was here somewhere, but where?     We went back to check it out and the kids ran up and went swinging from the railings making music.  It's a very cool thing.

And that was that.  We came home and made chili and a beautiful Sunday night ended a very lovely weekend.

Onward.   We can do it.   love you kids, MOM