February 19, 2010

Another trip down memory lane..

I'm quite a bit older than my sisters. When I was a teenager, they were still in their adolescence. As they approached their pre-teens, I was moving out and getting married, starting a life away from the home we had shared.

As you can imagine, our age difference meant while I was playing with barbies and running through the woods playing "fort" or whatever other imaginary scenario we could devise, they were kept close to home under the watchful eye of our parents. When they were finally ready to go traipsing through the 10-acres, I was too busy worrying about the boyfriend and the after-school job at the small grocery store/pizza place/video rental place.

However, I do have one memory in particular that I hold dear of the three of us bonding. I don't remember if it was spring, summer, fall or winter, but I spent several weeks reading the Anne of Green Gables series to them. We shared a room and, for the few weeks that it took to get through the six books, we'd take a good twenty to thirty minutes every night before bed to treat ourselves to the mischievous antics of red-headed Anne with an E.



And, before they call me out on it, I'll admit I bribed them. They had to rub my feet while I read. We often joke about this because while Chrissy did an awesome job, Meg...well, she would pretend to fall asleep. Not that I can blame her. I'd probably have done the same thing if I'd had the job.

I mention all this because I started re-reading the series. I'm still reading it right before bedtime and there are three of us piled onto the bed. Only this time, I'm reading it to my boys. The excuse is that my youngest can take an AR (accelerated reader) test on it once we're done, but the truth is I jumped at the chance to introduce them to a piece of literature that meant so much to me and, if I'm not too bold for saying so, to my sister's as well.

I can only hope the boys find Anne as endearing as my sisters and I did all those years ago.

February 18, 2010

Treasures in the Attic

My mom moved to California a few weeks ago. Because space was rather limited inside the moving truck, she had to pick and choose what to take with her. When the last of the boxes were tucked away inside the semi, she had a collection of boxes that needed a new home. If no one took them, they'd end up in the trash. When she told me the boxes contained pictures and other bits of memorabilia my great-grandparents had left with her, I volunteered to come pick them up.

It took a few days. Sometimes our lives get so busy with work and school and the boys' sports schedule, that I forget about the spontaneous obligations that spring up.

I'm glad I didn't forget this one. Taking time out of my busy schedule to drive over to her old house and bother the new tenets was worth the effort. I ended up with six boxes and you cannot imagine what treasures I've uncovered.

When our Team-Up Thursday assignment was announced - nine - I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I pulled out nine of the most convenient items out of the first box I picked from the pile. Here's what I contributed this week:

9 artifacts

My great-parents were writers. Not the same kind of writer I am, but a writer of an entirely different breed. They wrote poetry. They wrote stories focused on family history. Some of the stories read like creative non-fiction, some like history lessons. Best of all, almost everything is dated and signed.

Reading a poem your great-grandmother wrote when she was sixteen is nothing short of surreal.

Of course, they weren't only writers. They were readers. In fact, I can still recall the dim sunlight filtering into their bedroom to caress the hardcover spines of assorted novels and piles of National Geographic magazines. Oh, how I wish I had more of those books or some of those magazines now.

What few books I do have from Grandma and Grandpa (I rarely called them anything else when I'd go to visit), are so very precious. Although not pictured here, I have a set of encyclopedias Grandpa gave me when I was a young adult. Now I get to add three small books that fit into the palm of my hand to that collection. Here's one of them:

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I'm not even sure who Charles Lamb is or why I'd want to read a collection of his essays, letters, or verses. But now I'm curious. I might just have to go Google this fellow.

Also, the binding. The copyright date of 1899. The print date of 1903. Delightful!

Even better, though? Is the inscription. "To Edwin from Mom". Suddenly this little book has added sentimental value because "Mom" in this instance is my great-great-grandmother. I barely remember her. Actually, I remember the snakes sunning themselves on her front step more than I remember her.

But somewhere I've seen a picture of me with her. I was perhaps 4 or 5 and she was 210. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. She might have been in her late 70s, early 80s or 90s. Hard to tell.

The great thing is I have an opportunity not many people are given in life. I can get to know her and so many of my other deceased relatives through the writing of my great-grandparents. Pictured below is one of three collections my grandparents pulled together of what they believed were the most important or revealing family stories.

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This book is perhaps a 1/2-inch thick. Maybe more. It's mostly a collection of family stories and reproductions of antique photographs. I've read a few.

On the dedication page I'm mentioned by name. Me, my mom, and my cousin Brad were recruited for the daunting task of transcribing my great-grandpa's nearly illegible scrawl. We took his handwritten efforts and typed them up.

One of the only times I can recall actually arguing with my grandpa was over this book. He told me I didn't know how to read and I told him he didn't know to write. I was standing on the back porch at my Dad's house. Grandpa was standing on the ground looking up at me. We were both so frustrated.

Luckily, Grandma's handwriting was much easier on the eyes.

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I wonder if she really meant these words. Was it a secret dream of hers to become a nurse? I never would have suspected!

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Not sure which of them wrote this one.

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Of course, the boxes contained more their poems and stories. There were also cards and letters. Property deeds. Newspaper clippings. And their high school diplomas! I'll have to update this post later with their graduation dates.

Inside Grandma's diploma was this little newspaper clipping. Of the five graduates pictured, two of them are my grandparents: Helen and Edwin. Isn't it cute? They were high school sweethearts!

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And I have six boxes filled with treasures like these. I feel so very blessed.

Now I just need to figure out how I can share them with the family at large. I'm thinking of setting up a website. I'm also thinking of reproducing the poetry and stories into something a bit more elegant. Perhaps a Lulu book that would be available to family members only? Not sure.

February 17, 2010

I Had Thoughts

On the way home last night I had a topic for a blog post. Really, I did! However, by the time I got home and decided I was too lazy to make myself dinner (the family had eaten while I was sitting in class), I completely forgot about this lonely, little blog.

Poor thing. It's been sadly neglected of late.

Mostly because I get tired of talking about my rather mundane life. Not that I'm complaining! Other than the occasional irritation or minor speed bump, things are good here.

Car has to have new brakes, but do you really need or want to know that? No, probably not. Just like you won't care that I have to finish my first paper for my Lit Theory class.

Although, you may be interested in the fact that I am completely enjoying Alice Munro's short stories and will be recommending her to anyone who enjoys artful writing that doesn't feel contrived.

See, I'm rambling in hopes that you won't realize I don't have a topic! No focus. Just blathering on about nothing of any real consequence.

Did it work?

February 11, 2010

A Diptych of Love


Love
Originally uploaded by Krheiser

Earlier this week (or was it late last week?), I signed up for the Team-Up Thursday photo challenge. As you may have guessed by the name alone, this challenge requires a partner. One I didn't have. Luckily, I wasn't the only one who signed up without a clear idea of who I'd be working with.

Looking through Kari's Flickr stream was a bit intimidating. She takes beautiful photos. She's artisic. While my photos tend to focus on people (mainly family members and friends), hers seem to highlight the beauty of a snow-hugged river or the fabric of a woven scarf. Gorgeous stuff.

I tried to imagine how our two styles would mesh in the world of diptychs. I hoped I wouldn't disappoint her.

Well, today is our first entry. The theme for the week was love. Since my little guy was in the middle of filling out his Valentine Day cards for his school party on Friday, I decided to focus on the cards and candy (pixie stix...yum!) celebrating this designated day of love. I had no idea what Kari was doing, but I hoped my rather childish symbolism would compliment her work.

I got her picture this morning. And I think we pulled it off. In fact, I think we pulled it off beautifully.

February 2, 2010

When 2nd Place Broke His Little Heart

I don't think I'm one of those parents who live vicariously through their children. Really, I don't. Oh, sure, I get excited and might yell a few encouraging things throughout their games or meets, but I know they're the ones doing all the hard work and I have nothing to do with their failure or success.

I must admit, though, that I want them to succeed and I'm happy when they win. No apologies for feeling this way, either, because I love watching their little faces light up with pleasure. I love the delighted smiles and the sense of pride they embody for those few precious moments after they realize they've been victorious.

Of course, there are days when they don't do as well as they'd like. Days like Sunday.

Now, let me be clear. They did well. In fact, they did so well that they both brought home second place medals. That's not too shabby! In fact, it's darn good and I'm continually amazed at how well they're both doing. Especially the oldest. Not because I don't believe he can do it, but because it's his first year and I frankly didn't expect him to bring home much of anything until the end of the season. Silly me. This is his 4th medal, which means he's gotten 4 medals out of 5 meets. He's only failed to place once. That's astounding!

This is the youngest boy's second year. He had already started accumulating medals at the end of the first season, so with another year's experience, I figured he'd hold his own from the very beginning of this season. And he has. Impressively, even. He, too, has received 4 medals out of 5 meets. Nothing below a 2nd Place.

And there's the rub. Three weeks running he could have taken first because he went into the final match undefeated. Each time he failed to attain the coveted chart, losing either by a pin or a onslaught of points. This weekend's loss in that final round was so very, very hard on him. He was devastated. Not just angry, which is what I'm accustomed to seeing in this particular child, but seriously crushed. Crying he asked me, "Why does this always happen? It's not fair. I get so close and then..." insert a few hiccups here "it's just not fair."

I can't say for sure, but I think this loss was more difficult than most because of his past encounters with the kid he had to wrestle. My son knows he can beat him because he has the last two times they've been paired up. Two meets and two pins.

Perhaps it was overconfidence. Perhaps it was a bad case of nerves. Perhaps it was a misalignment of the stars. Whatever the reason, my boy lost for the first time ever to this other kid. The result was the loss of the trophy and chart he had his little heart set on.

I tried to console him. I hugged him and told him that there's nothing wrong with second place, that he did an awesome job. None of my words were able to stop his little tears. He remained heartbroken, which , in turn, broke my heart.

When we got home, I did the one thing I do well. I spent some time snuggling with my boy in front of the television. I think it helped.

February 1, 2010

It's a meme!

Playing Pokemon on the Porch

  1. Which expensive electronic device do you most often let your older children abuse or your baby drool on?
    The kids aren't allowed to abuse anything I consider "mine". I'm a bit selfish that way. However, in my defense, my boys are incredibly spoiled and have expensive electronics of their own that they most definitely abuse; namely, their Nintendo DSs and games.
  2. How many take-out restaurant numbers do you have programmed into your phone?
    I used to have the pizza place down the road from our house pre-programmed but that was three or four phones ago. So, in truth, none!
  3. How many hours of television do you so totally not let your kids watch a week?
    Well, they sleep and go to school. So, if we add those hours together, I'd say they get about an 17 or 18 hour break from television. Of course, if we're talking weekends, I'd say they get more time in front of the television than I do.
  4. Do you think people who say “we don’t watch television” at play dates but really mean “we just watch DVDs” are lying liars from Liarville?
    Um. Yeah. Although I must admit I kind of admire those people who have the ability to live without television. They must get so much reading done or spend lots of family time around the table playing games. That seems kind of idyllic. Or terrifying. Not sure which.
  5. How many miles have you driven with your child and not one device of electronic entertainment in a single car trip?
    This is terrible. Rarely do I refuse to allow them their distractions. The last time I did I think they had to be in the car for about a half-hour without their games.
  6. What’s your record for calls to the pediatrician or Ask-a-Nurse in a single day?
    Probably 2 or 3 at the most. I'm more of the make-an-appointment or give-me-approval- -to-take-them-to-the-ER type of mom. The last time I remember calling the doctor after hours more than once I ended up insisting on taking the child to the hospital even though the doctor thought I was overreacting. (Yes, he was right. But how was I supposed to know he had inherited my vasovegal issues and there wasn't something seriously wrong?)
  7. What’s the sexiest thing your partner could text you after a hard day?
    That would require my phone having texting capabilities.
  8. What’s your favorite iPad joke?
    What, there's already jokes out there floating about the internets? Dang! I need to get to Googling!
  9. What’s the dumbest parenting tool, gear, gadget or device you ever bought?
    The ones that don't come with rechargeable batteries. Those are the worst!
  10. How many years will it take for your child to become more tech-savvy than you?
    Supporting the Online Helpdesk at work forces me to keep up my tech-savvy skills. However, given that my kids are growing up with the technology, I imagine by high school they'll be one (or two or three or four) steps ahead of me. Luckily, that day hasn't come yet!