Goodbye Grandma

Defining moments in our lives don’t happen every day. In fact over my forty-two years, I can count them on one hand – the usual graduation, marriage, birth of a child… Sometimes though, they come out of nowhere, seemingly unexpected and slap you in the face, forcing you to take notice.  I had one of those “what now?” moments earlier this week when I had the honor and privilege of being the last one with my grandmother on her very last night on earth.

Between the moment when my mother first called to tell me my 94-year-old grandmother had taken a turn for the worse and the time I arrived at her nurse home, I wondered how I’d handle being the only one there as my grandmother passed from this world to the next. As it happened my mother after great deliberation went on a much deserved vacation and was a good 18 hours away. Her other two siblings and the other grandchildren also lived many, many hours from my grandmother. I was the closet and only relative in the area. I didn’t hesitate and assured my mother that my grandmother would NOT die alone.  I resolved myself not to fall apart and to be strong for everyone – a role I’m not used to playing. I worried how I’d stay awake all night, but in the end the night passed quickly and I never tired.

My grandmother lay in her bed, her respirations fast and labored. She looked so tiny, so fragile, nothing like the grandmother I remembered from my childhood. I held her hand and talked to her letting her know I was there. She never squeezed my hand or looked in my eyes or spoke a word to me, but I know in my heart she knew I was with her. Through the night I sat at her bedside, listening to the oxygen machine and my grandma’s breathing. I prayed for her, I read a book, I fielded phone calls and emails from concerned relatives, and I waited. The nurses were wonderful and cared for her with respect and tenderness. Around  9 PM or so the hospice nurse came in to assess her. I thought just maybe my grandmother might be doing a little better and the call would be a false alarm, but no. The nurse told me that my grandmother was “actively dying” and most likely would not make it until morning. My mother wouldn’t make it back in time. At this realization my tears began to fall.

My grandmother and I weren’t especially close, but I loved her and have good memories. Memories of eating buttered toast cut into triangle in her warm kitchen, of sneaking into bed with her early in the morning and putting my cold feet between her legs to warm them, of the green and white polka dot hat she wore to Geauga Lake so we could always pick her out of the crowd.  She made it through the night into the early morning. Around nine the next morning she quietly took her last breath. At peace now, she suffered no more. She had a good life, a long life. I was glad I’d been there for her. Someday down the line, I hope my future granddaughter would do the same for me. Over the days after her death as I wait for the arrangements and our final goodbye, my own mortality stares me in the face.  It forces me to look back on my life and ahead to my future and settle back in the present. Life goes on. It’s up to me to take mine in the right direction.

My daughters are saddened by great-grandma’s death, but don’t seem to comprehend death yet. Does anyone really comprehend it? In fact, aren’t we all from the moment we’re born, actively dying?  My youngest wonders how grandma got to heaven, what she’s doing there and what she’s eating. She told her preschool teacher she got to go to a funeral and have a party with the enthusiasm of a five-year old going to the zoo. Both girls are excited about traveling to the city were my grandmother lived most of her life and where she’ll be put to rest. They’ve already packed their bags. The oldest wants to be sure the hotel has a pool. They’re excited to be alive. Yes, life does go on. And as a friend of mine pointed out to me earlier in the week, they have the right idea. And I think they do. Someday when it’s my turn to go, I hope my family says a quiet goodbye as I leave them behind and then goes on to party.

What about you? What are your thoughts?

Passion in My Pants?

So the girls and I are on the ride home from work/school. My nine year old has commandeered the front seat. (I know she should probably sit in the back seat for safety’s sake, but I always loved riding up front with my mom and I let her. I do make her push the seat a far back as it goes. I didn’t have the air bag danger in my days in the front seat.) And the reason she wants to sit up front? To be closer to her dear ole Mom? Not likely. She wants control of the music.

When her dad’s is in the van with us, he is in charge of our listening pleasures. She has to listen to the music he likes (currently he’s in a Stray Cats retro period), which unfortunately is not what kind of music she likes. When it comes to music, I’m not a totalitarian as he is.  I don’t mind listening to the tween music she’s into. I like most kinds of music (except maybe recorder music played by the above mentioned fourth-grader, but that’s another story). While Taylor Swift, Bella Thorne, Zendaya, Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus aren’t at the top of my play lists, I have to admit they have some catchy tunes that stick in your head for the rest of the day. If the music makes her happy and smiley, then I’m happy and smiley. So I know the lyrics to Mean, and TTYLXOX and Good Girl. We sing along and rock it out. It’s not such a bad thing.  In fact many a day, I’ve found myself humming along to her music and realize she’s not even in the car with me — I just hadn’t  remembered to change the station after dropping her off.

My preschooler also knows to the lyrics these songs as well. I never really thought much about that fact until the other day. You see we are also into the wii game, “Just Dance” we have 1, 2 and 3. Although I wouldn’t want anyone I know to actually see me playing this game, its kind of fun. And so my fourth-grader has moved up in her musical tastes to “artists” like lmfao and Katie Perry and Kei$ha. I never thought much about the words of these songs as mostly I’m concentrating on the next move in the dance and not falling on my butt.

So when my five-year old started singing about “a bottle of Jack” I started to think maybe the music was a little bit old for the girls. Nah, I wasn’t going to turn into a music censor. If I say she can’t listen to it, she’ll want to listen to it all the more.  I remember when my parents and teachers had fit when we listened to “Jack and Diane” – he put his hands between her knees you know. Or worse George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex.” I remember my mother cringing everytime that one came on. However, I admit I had to pause when she then asked me what “passion in your pants” means. I decided maybe we needed to reassess the play list. I tried to ignore the question. Act like I hadn’t heard her. But she is persistent. “Mom, what’s passion in your pants?” Then the nine-year old chimed in, “Yeah, what does that mean?”

“Ahhhhh….I’m not really sure.” I get out.

The preschooler asks, “Is it some kind of bug?”

“Umm, maybe?” I dodge the question. I’m so not ready for that talk. “I think he just likes to dance and the pants he has on.”

“OK” she’s satisfied and moves on to some other question.

Hmmmm. Maybe we should just stick with the Stray Cats…

What do you think?

Spring Fever Rages

When I think of the month of March, typically I think cold, rainy gray days. I think of the smell of water-logged, dead earthworms laying in the parking filling the air. At some point during the month where mother nature may give us snow one day, rain and wind the next, and the warmth of the sun the third – or possibly all three in one day, I sight the first robin of the season and smile. I notice the leaves sprouting on the trees and the daffodils poking up through the muddy ground and know the hope for warmer days is near.

This March, however, we in the mid-west have been blessed ( although some snow sport lovers out there may think us cursed) with unseasonably warm weather. And I don’t just mean a day above 50 degrees here and there, but we’ve actually had several weeks of high 70’s and low 80’s. Yes, we had 80 degrees and sunshine in the middle of March. It is heavenly! It makes me wonder if someone up there in weather land got there M months mixed up. It feels more like late May than mid March, but I am definitely NOT complaining and neither are my children.

The girls wore shorts to school today. They didn’t even take along their jackets. The flip-flops and sandals were dusted off weeks ago. Everywhere I turn, children are playing and riding bikes, people are walking their dogs, flowers and trees are blooming and the diehards out there are actually mowing their lawns instead of shoveling snow. I love it!

Spring fever definitely rages in my home and workplace. Co-workers and I walk to a local cafe for lunch not wanting to return to our florescent-lighted, windowless cubicles afterwards. Not so much because we don’t like our jobs, but more so because the sun is calling us, luring us to sit and just absorb its warmth and bake off the winter pastiness and dreariness of the past three months. When 5:00 PM rolls around, I have approximately two and a half hours left of warm bliss that I take full advantage of.

A few nights ago I walked with my daughters. Actually I was the only one that walked. The oldest road her scooter and the youngest her two-wheeler with training wheels. We had a wonderful time walking and rolling and talking and laughing until… Until the youngest got tired of riding her bike about halfway home. She was just too tired to go on, especially after she’d tipped it a bit when she went down an incline (you can’t really call it a hill). From that point on she walked and whined about calling someone to pick us up while I pushed the bike (which I’d vowed not to do – sigh). A few moments later a car came up fast behind us (we live on a country road in the middle of no where, so I don’t see why people need to go so fast especially when the can see us walking along miles or at least yards in advance). Anyway it scared my oldest daughter and she veered her scooter off the road and wiped out. She scraped her leg although to hear her tell it you’d have thought it was broken. So now, I’m pushing the bike and scooter, while they both whine about calling their Dad to pick them up (even though the house is only yards away.) Oh well…at least we enjoyed the fresh air.

Last night our endeavor out was much more pleasant. We headed to our local park. Typically these excursions find me pushing two girls on the swings, helping them across the monkey bars and then collapsing on the bench to watch them. Tonight I took a different approach. I became a kid too. While I still pushed the swing, I never made it to the bench. I went down the slide and across that slider ‘thingy.’ I tried to pull myself up on to the top of the monkey bars as I’d done in my youth, but couldn’t quite make it – I have a lot more “girth” to move than I did when I was 10. Next we tried to skip stones across the pond (try being the key word) and then switched to seeing who could throw the farthest. No one was fishing, so I figured no harm. The girls smiled and laughed. When the sun started to set, we raced to the car, I would have won too if it weren’t for my shoes.

Today we’re supposed to hit 84 again. I haven’t figured out what we are going to do tonight yet. I’d like to get the flower beds cleaned out, but maybe will just shoot some hoops instead. I do know we won’t be sitting in front of the TV. The next few days rain is in the forecast and the highs are only in the 60’s. I am trying not to be disappointed. I am trying not to get spoiled, but I am. I think I might cry if the temperatures dip back into the 40’s or worse 30’s. And if it were to snow again before next December, well, I won’t be happy. For now though, my winter coat and boots are packed and my shorts and sandals are front and center. I’m going to feed that fever for as long as I can!



Introspective Blah, Blah

An undeniable restlessness lies within me, keeping me from complete contentment. I struggle to break free from everything and everyone that threatens to steal a piece of me.  The chasm between the woman I hope to be and the woman I am grows larger every day. Longing to run and run and run without looking back, searching for what’s missing, I falter. What am I searching for? What is it I am missing? Who am I kidding? I couldn’t run around the block without getting a major side cramp!  A little too deep even for me, sometimes my introspection gets a little out of control.

Although on the morning of my forty-second birthday, I can’t help reviewing the past, while hoping for what the future might bring. My past experiences, my past decisions all played a part into bringing me to this moment. They shaped me into who I am now – good or bad. If I had a do-over, would I make the same choices again? If I could go back in time as the person I am now instead of the person I was then, probably, but then I wouldn’t be who I am now. So…where does that leave? It leaves me in the present moment of right now. It leaves me struggling to be satisfied with who I am at this precise moment in time. It leaves me impatient. It leaves me wanting to be that better me right now, yet nostalgic for the past that has swept by remarkably fast. The minutes sometimes drag on forever, yet the years fly by so quickly I can hardly keep up. I only have to look at my children to realize that. A morning of clothes flying, insults hurling, and little girls screaming seems to go on forever. Yet it seems like only a minute ago I was cradling them in my arms as newborns.

So while I have set my goals for the next year in my life that I will strive to fulfill, my biggest challenge is to live in the present.  To embrace the woman I am right now, knowing that the “me” I am today is “enough” and through God’s strength nothing is impossible.  

Potty Talk

Poopy head. Pee-pee pants. Booty butt. Are you laughing yet? Does anyone find any of these phrases completely and utterly hysterical? Apparently my four-year old daughter does. These are three of her favorites these days. She’ll say them over and over and well over again. Much to the chagrin of my nine-year old and anyone else who happens to be in hearing distance. The more the nine-year old complains, the louder the four year gets. She turns the words into a song as she dances around the room.

I’ve tried to get her to stop without much luck. No sooner than the words “big tooter” or “booger girl” escape her mouth someone else laughs at her antics spurring her on. She finds herself to be quite a comedian. If she’s in the shower and water’s dripping off her arm or her sister’s chin, all of a sudden it’s peeing. If she peaks into the bedroom while I’m changing, she bursts into the “boobies” song. Yes, she has a boobies song. Don’t ask me. I know for a fact though that mine did not inspire this particular song.

The other day we were watching a movie. In this particular movie a dog, let a loud “fart” rip. She laughed so long and so hard I thought she was going to fall off the couch. It really wasn’t that funny. However, just listening to her laugh is contagious. She gets herself going and she can hardly breath. I always thought bathroom humor was a ‘boy’ thing. Not that it really need be; its just growing up I had a cousin, who happened to be a boy, who also had a fascination with all things pee, poop and belch. She hasn’t really spent much time with this cousin, but it does have me wondering if maybe instead of a gender thing, its genetic.

I don’t really find body noises or outputs particularly hilarious, I never have. I’ve learned to ignore my husband’s foray’s into this type of humor. If he farts loudly or belches, I pretend to ignore him. It only encourages him if I look at him in disgust or disdain. But with her, it is much harder to ignore. The ability to laugh that loudly and unabashedly at herself is a true gift. So the other morning when asks what me would happen if she blew a big fart that l loud on my bed, I hate to admit I encouraged her in her fart talk. I told her it would probably blow her all the way up to the ceiling. She doubled-over laughing, “that would really be funny, wouldn’t it Mom!” she asked. I agreed, it would be pretty funny indeed. So while you won’t hear me sing any songs involving pee, barf or burps anytime soon, I figure once in a while it’s better or at least more fun to join in the potty talk and have a good laugh than to crush her spirit with a timeout. Now if I could just get her to limit her songs and jokes to home, I would be all set! The only consolation I have for now is at least she doesn’t find the Three Stooges to be any funnier than I do.

Sleep Interrupted

“Are you going to sleep the whole day away?” I smile thinking about those words my late grandfather once uttered. I’d just rollover and put the pillow over my head and go back to sleep.  As a teenager and college, I could sleep for hours on end. It was nothing to stay out until one o’clock in the morning and sleep in until noon. These days I had to fight to stay awake just to ring in the New Year and sleeping in is 8 AM.

After becoming a mother, I now treasure and savor the precious commodity called sleep. Eight hours of uninterrupted Z’s? Pure bliss.  An afternoon nap? A slice of heaven. So when given the choice: Sleep or sex? Sex or sleep? I choose, sleep. Yes, most definitely sleep (sorry hubby, don’t take it personally; and I’m sure any male readers who might be reading this are glad they aren’t married to me).  In fact, I’d wager a lot of mother’s out there would concur that sleep wins over sex, diamonds or maybe even chocolate.  And it’s not that I don’t like those to other things, I do. I don’t want to sleep my life away by any means. It’s just that I get cranky when I don’t get my eight hours in.

I’d guess it’s been more than ten years since I’ve actually slept eight hours straight more than one night in a row (my oldest is nine and half and the sleep interruptions began when I was pregnant).  Chronic tiredness gets, well, tiring.  I hear the words “you look tired today” (AKA “you look like crap today”) more often than “you look smoking hot today” (not that I’d actually hear those words even if I weren’t tired, but a girl can dream). Yes, I know I look tired; I am tired. No amount of makeup can cover up the dark circles under my eyes.

Some of you may remember my quest to become a morning person. In doing so, I make sure I’m in bed by ten every night and I get up at five every morning. I know that’s only seven hours, but still better than before. In fact, after a few weeks, I actually felt less tired during the day; I was getting more done during my two hours of morning quiet and feeling pretty proud of myself.  Unfortunately my oldest put a kink in my morning-person quest. She’s developed a fear of sleeping alone. Having her sister in the room is not enough. It has to be an adult. It has to be me. Daddy isn’t good enough.

While most would think, her tactics a ploy, I can truly empathize with her fears. She recently saw a scary movie (at a church activity no less). I’m sure most kids wouldn’t find this particular movie that scary, but my nine-year old is sensitive. She sees a show on tornadoes; she can’t sleep.  She sees a show about a fire; she can’t sleep. We had to leave many a G movies because it was too scary for her. About an hour before bed she starts to feel sick to her stomach, anticipating being alone in the dark.  By the time its time to turn the lights off, she’s in full-blown panic mode; racing heart, hysterical crying, nausea, cold sweats.

I know what that feels like all too well. I’d do must anything to avoid those feelings myself. So when what alleviates her fears and gives me the opportunity to sleep myself (as opposed to fighting with her all night about sleeping alone), is to sleep with her, I do. I know she should be able to sleep by herself. I’ve tried leaving a light on (she can’t sleep with a light on) or checking on her every ten minutes, but the nights drag on and on and neither of us get any sleep. So now the compromise is, I lay with her until she falls asleep and then I move to my bed. Of course this shoots my whole in bed asleep by ten all to hell as she takes forever to actually fall asleep. When I try to sneak out, she immediately sits up and begs me to stay.

So my sleep-deprived self just wants to say what difference does it make if I sleep with her all night? Why does she have to sleep alone? Is there really a point to forcing her to sleep alone? She’ll outgrow the need for me to sleep with her eventually. Right? Is it wrong to just want to get some sleep anyway I can?

Of course my husband wants her sleep alone, by herself, in her own room as soon as possible. He wants me to sleep with him for some odd reason. So, I’ve come up with the perfect solution…we get a bigger bed and we all sleep together!  Sigh. Somehow I don’t think he’ll go for that. Back to the drawing board and dark circles…

2%, 1%, Skim – What’s the Diff?

A couple of weeks ago, my four-year-old started complaining about the “yucky pink milk” at her preschool. Pink milk? I thought. Had the school suddenly started serving strawberry milk or something? Not likely. They don’t even serve chocolate milk. Maybe they switched brands or something. Or maybe my daughter is actually a milk connoisseur and her young palate could actually discern the intricacies and nuances of various flavors and brands of milk… Nah, she’s probably just going through some non-milk drinking phase or maybe the school just got a “bad batch” that week.

I felt hypocritical telling her to just drink her milk, because it is “good for you.”  Especially, when I myself am not an avid milk drinker myself. Sorry diary farmers of America – I do enjoy yogurt, cheese and ice cream – it’s just milk I’m not fond of – unless of course it is over a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles or Count Chocula.

“Why don’t you ask for some water or juice instead?” I advised her.

“They won’t let me,” she pouted and stomped.

“Just take a ‘No Thank You’ sip,” I offered another solution.

“No……..” she wailed as we made our way to her classroom. The tantrum was about to begin. I smiled to myself after leaving her in the capable hands of her teacher. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with her mood for now.

However, after a few days of the milk ordeal, I finally asked the teacher what was up with the milk. “Did you guys change milk or something?” I asked.

Sure enough, they had. After the last state inspection, the inspector informed the director that the milk laws had changed. The school couldn’t serve 2% milk to the preschoolers any more. The new regulations called for either skim or 1%. They started off with the “pink” capped milk, which equated to skim milk.  No wonder she didn’t like the pink milk. White water. The teacher explained that they have now switched to the “purple” cap or 1% instead. The kids are much happier as it tastes almost like 2% (I guess – I’ve never had a milk sampling).

So, the reason for this milk law change? According to one of the teachers, they changed the milk standards to fight childhood obesity. Huh. Who would have thought 1% would make that much of a difference? Maybe cutting back on the candy, cupcakes, cookies, chips and chicken nuggets might, but milk? Really?

I don’t think 1% milk even existed when I was a kid. If only I’d been able to drink 1% as a kid, I wouldn’t be struggling with my weight now! I could have prevented the weight gain that came along with having two children, and well life, if only I’d had 1% milk as a kid. I could be super-model thin, if it weren’t for 2% milk. Lucky for my kids, that won’t happen to them! Now enlightened about 1% milk, they can be assured to avoid obesity! The 2% is now banished from our fridge. From now it is 1% all the way! It is only a matter of time before I am the envy of all my friends – wearing a size 3. But wait…I forgot…I don’t even drink milk. Too bad for me. I guess…I’ll  have to go back to the less food, more exercise method for weight loss. Big sigh. If only it were as easy switching to 1%.