Monday, July 11, 2011

The Big Girl Bed

You just KNEW this would inspire a new blog post.

Hurricane Jane is no longer contained! Duck and cover!

Really though, with all the anticipation, moving to the big girl bed has been...well, rather uneventful. I guess Jane's bedroom curtains would beg to differ with this statement, since they got pulled OUT OF THE WALL on her second night of freedom, but other than THAT mishap, it's been a pretty smooth transition.

But what of the baby bed?

I got this email from my mother this morning: "Tilda, what did you do with the baby bed? I had a dream last night that you got pregnant again."

Funny, because last night *I* had a dream that all my front teeth fell out and I was spending my time running around and trying to find a dentist who could fit me in IMMEDIATELY, but I kept being distracted by the children's needs. And then I would remember my teeth and panic.

Between these two dreams coming true? I'm not sure which one would shock me more.

Where were we? Oh...right...the baby bed.

Jamie and I got that baby bed when I was pregnant with Jay. Jamie spent HOURS putting it together with his father. I am NOT EXAGGERATING. Hours. This was before he was mechanically inclined. The whole thing DID sort of resemble a scene from a movie where everyone gets frustrated with the crib and wants to beat it with a screwdriver. I think my mother in law and I went to Target to escape their wrath. Target is good for that kind of thing.

But eventually, the crib DID get put together, complete with beautiful bedding and sweet baby Jay slept in it until he turned two and I evicted him to get it ready for baby Annie.

And when we got it ready for baby Annie, I decided that I wanted my dark wood crib to be white. So my father spent a few days sanding and spraying the crib as it hung from the ceiling in my garage. This time, putting it together was much easier. And when Annie finally came home from her stint in the NICU, she slept in her newly painted, beautiful white crib

When Annie turned two and a half, we found her a cute little toddler bed at a garage sale. We bought her cute little bedding at Target and spent an afternoon taking down the crib and getting her cute little room all set up with her new bed. That lasted aboooouuuut and hour and a half. Poor Annie was so terrified of her cute little bed that we could not bear to leave her in it. Jamie put the crib back together at nine o'clock at night. Luckily, by then he had gotten quite adept at it. I think we ended up selling her cute little bed at OUR garage sale when we moved to Oklahoma. She never slept a night in it. She went straight from the crib to a twin size bed when she turned three.

When I got pregnant with Jane, my in laws hauled the crib from Mississippi (where it was being used by my niece) and brought it all the way to Oklahoma. Jamie and I spent MONTHS preparing Jane's room for her. This time, all four of us put the crib together. Jay and Annie helped us to get the whole room ready for their baby sister.

And so, when Jamie and I took the crib down we had all those memories swirling around us. All those labors of love that our family had put into that crib. And this time we knew we were taking the crib down for the last time.

And it's not just the last time because Jane is the last baby, it's the last time because THE CRIB IS BROKEN. The crib is also recalled. Yes, you got that right. I let my third child and last baby sleep in a broken and recalled crib. That's what happens when you're the third baby. Your mother no longer cares about things like recalls and broken beds. I believe it makes Jane stronger in the end. Survival of the fittest. I learned THAT in Biology. I think.

Anyway, Jamie and I are sitting in Jane's room, surrounded by crib pieces, talking about the memories we have with the crib (like it's a PERSON!) and Jane is running around her room alternately yelling, "Bye bye baby bed!!!" and then falling upon the crib pieces and crying, " baby bed BROKEN!!!" THAT didn't tear my heart out AT ALL.

So then, Jamie looks at me and says, " what do we do with it now?"

What do we do with our broken, recalled crib that we do not have attic space for? It is broken and recalled, so we cannot sell it. It is broken and recalled, so we cannot donate it. It is broken and recalled, and we don't have the attic space for it (because WE DON'T HAVE AN ATTIC). Jamie says, "I guess it needs to go in the trash."

We both looked guiltily at the crib. It sat there, in pieces, on the floor, silently mocking us.

We decided to put it in the garage, where we will trip over it every day until it drives us crazy enough to put out with the trash.

That may take a few years.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Finding the Funny Again

It's been a little hard to write lately.

Well, at least a little hard to write on my blog.

I've had stories to tell, but they've been told elsewhere.

I'm writing a travel report on another website because something was keeping me from writing here.

I've spent the last two weeks traveling with my family to Florida and then to Mississippi. You KNOW there are stories there. I would think, "Oh, THAT would make a good blog post!" but then it would go unwritten.

It wasn't until the other night, when I was visiting with Mama and Daddy that I could really put my finger on what it was SPECIFICALLY that was keeping me from writing.

I was watching Mama on Facebook. She was working on her wall (which just sounds plain odd if you read that out of context) and making it so that the link to my last blog post about Chad showed up when you pulled up her wall postings. She wanted that link to be first so that she could see it and others could see it when they came to her wall.

Kind of an internet memorial to him.

That was my moment of realizing WHY I have avoided my blog. It's this simple fact: The post I am writing right now will push down my last blog post about Chad's death. His post will no longer be first on my blog.

Which kind of makes it seem like life just goes on.

Like the line between grieving and funny is just one blog post away.

It's hard to know, with every story I tell about my kids and their antics, I will watch my post about Chad being pushed further and further down until it moves into my blog archives.

In a weird way I feel like I am leaving him behind.

And now, I guess I'm just wondering, how in the world do I follow up with the funny?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Oldest One

I am an only child, but one of nine grandchildren on my mother’s side. Those eight cousins of mine are the closest people I have to brothers and sisters. I grew up spending every summer with them. When I was a kid, we chased the mosquito truck at dusk every night in the Mississippi Delta humidity. We swam in the country club pool and swatted at horseflies that did their best to bite us while we stood on the diving board. We spent countless hours at my grandparents’ clothing store, running back and forth and playing house in the dressing rooms. We piled in at my grandparents’ house in Belzoni, draping across chairs in the den and watching whatever we could find on the 12 stations (maybe) Belzoni had back then, while the grown ups talked long into the night. We made dorky home movies and played stupid games with each other. Some of us took baths together. And as I got older and new cousins were born, I GAVE a lot of baths. And changed a lot of diapers. I always had two or three younger cousins in my bed on Christmas Eve and I would stay up late helping put together the stuff that Santa brought them while they slept in my bed. Then I would fall into bed, exhausted from the day’s events, only to find them awake at four in the morning. They would beg me to tell them stories for hours until it was time to wake the grown people.

I was the second oldest grandchild. My cousin, Chad (who you see in the picture on the right, taken when we were little), was the oldest one by three and a half years. This was an honor I was glad for him to hold, because it meant that I was a kid that much longer and HE got all the responsibility of doing stuff first. Stuff like going into 7th grade (which I dreaded), going off to college (while I was still enjoying my high school years), choosing a career path, and getting married and having kids. Growing up, I watched him in awe, just sure that I could never be as confident or as personable as he was with his thousand watt smile and dimpled chin. As adults, he was a good friend, who had children close in age to my own. I could always look to him get a feel for what came next in life.

Chad died Tuesday in a car accident.

I got the call from my father on Tuesday morning before 7:30am. The news was being spread to my whole family at this time. I was very upset and shaken, but knew I had a list of things to focus on so that we could leave for Mississippi the next day.

Part of that list was informing Jay and Annie’s teachers that they would not be in school for the rest of the week. This is necessary because we JUST went to a funeral a couple of weeks ago for my grandmother. I have actual funeral clothes. I hate that.

So, I went up to the school and talked to Jay and Annie’s teachers. “My cousin died in a car accident this morning and we are headed to Mississippi to be with my family.” And as they sadly nodded their heads and told me they were sorry, I realized that the words, “My cousin” just did not accurately portray exactly what Chad was to me. Or what any of my cousins are to me. They are the link to my past. They ARE my present. And I cannot imagine my future without them.

The sadness I felt (and still feel) over losing Chad could not be felt for just “my cousin”.

One of “us” was gone. And I felt an indescribable pull to get to Mississippi as fast as I could so I could be wrapped up in my family. Oklahoma never felt so far away. I needed to look at them, make sure they were all still there, because it seemed to strange that one of them wasn’t and would never be again.

This has been an incredibly emotional week. And that is as it should be. I was prepared for that. The raw emotions of knowing that we had all lost someone who was so well loved weighed heavily on my heart from the moment I got that Tuesday morning phone call.

But what I wasn’t prepared for was the thought I had, standing and looking at Chad for the last time: I am the oldest now. I lost my place in line.

I feel disoriented. Something that defined me in my family has changed That missing place will forever leave a hole in my heart because being The Oldest One is not where I am supposed to be.

And there is just something incredibly wrong with that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Uniquely Blessed

***Just a note to say that this post was written last week after Bammy's graveside service. I planned to post it immediately upon my return to Oklahoma, but then there was a sick cat and a soccer tournament. Once again, life gets in the way of blogging. Go figure. ***

Another name for this blog title could have been, “Two Year Old Tyrant”. But I have decided to go with the sentimental side of things instead.

My cousin Johnny said today that our family is “Uniquely Blessed” because Bammy’s life impacted us all so much. He is right. And I must be “Abundantly Uniquely Blessed” because BOTH of my grandmother’s and BOTH of my grandfather’s have been such a large part of my life. Not to mention aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed, and...okay, you get the point. I’m probably the only “only child” out there who never actually FELT like an only child because of my huge extended family.

Bammy’s graveside service took place in Shaw, Mississippi, which is about two and a half hours from where my parents live. So, it was a bit of a drive to get there, and since the burial was at 2:00 pm, we would need to eat lunch on the road somewhere. This of course, called for a picnic. Because my grandmother? She loved a picnic. In my grandmother’s obituary, my Aunt Sue wrote, “ A lover of nature, Barbara taught her children and grandchildren how to fish, row a boat, pack a delicious picnic meal, and appreciate the joys of being outdoors.” And so it was decided that the perfect way to honor her 95 years was to pack that delicious picnic meal and stop at a park on the way to Shaw.

I remember going on one of my first picnics when I was probably a little younger than Annie. Now, I am certain that I had gone on a picnic with my parents before, but THIS particular picnic was LARGE with A LOT OF PEOPLE (at least in my seven year old mind...). It also included pimento cheese sandwiches. I will forgive you if you are unfamiliar with this particular Southern fare. I know that I was at that time as well. I thought it sounded disgusting, if you want the truth. But I still remember tasting that first bite and loving it. And now every single time I eat it, I think of that picnic with ALL THE PEOPLE AND ALL THE FOOD. But let me just clarify one thing: Do NOT buy your pimento cheese from the grocery store. It will not taste like homemade and then you will wonder what all the fuss was about. You can thank me for that later. And just so you know I’m serious, I’ll even give you my Mimi’s recipe for pimento cheese. It’ll knock your socks off.

But when I think of that picnic, I also think of dirty feet. Because where ever we were, there was a lot of dirt. And being that is was Mississippi inthe summer time, I’m sure the air was heavy with humidity and we did a fair amount of sweating. In sandles. I won’t spell that out for you, but let’s just say that we took a picture of all our nasty feet in a circle before we left out picnic area. I wish I could find that picture to scan it in and include it in my blog post, but my mother told me that it would involve moving the couch to find it in her vast array of picture albums. As much as I love that picture, I don’t love moving her couch, so use your imaginations. Dirty feet. In a circle. There.

Today’s picnic would be a family affair. There ended up being around 25 of us. We stopped at a park in Greenwood, Mississippi. It was in a beautiful area and included a nice, open air gazebo with picnic tables where we could gather and eat. No pimento cheese sandwiches this time. Instead, we had chicken tenders picked up from a local restaurant.

And unlike other picnics, this one included men in sport coats riding seesaws.

And great grandchildren riding merry go rounds.

It also included a family “Uniquely Blessed” by each other.

I think Bammy would have loved it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dearly Beloved

Today was both a happy and a sad day. My cousin, Anne Claire, got married (which is the happy part) in Louisiana. I so wanted to be there to watch her walk down the aisle and remember how she used to sing "Blue Suede Shoes" in the bath tub every night. But we live here in OKLAHOMA, which happens to be very far away from Louisiana, and Jamie's work schedule prevented us from being able to make it. Not being able to make occasions like that always makes me homesick for my family in Mississippi. I was kept abreast of events through pictures and emails during the day and that made for some good laughs and made me feel more a part of things.

But what I wasn't expecting right before Annie's soccer game started, was a phone call from my father to tell me that my grandmother had died. This was not exactly unexpected news, since Bammy has not been doing well for a while and on Monday they discovered a large brain tumor. I guess it was the TIMING of the phone call that was unexpected. But then, is there ever a good time for these things? I didn't want to get too upset at the soccer fields, not out of embarrassment, or out of fear of eye makeup running everywhere, but because I didn't want Annie to suspect anything was amiss. Annie is very much my child. She wears her heart on her sleeve and feels EVERYTHING. She has known about Bammy's decline and about the tumor and was very sad about it all. I wanted to keep it from her long enough for her to be able to play her game and then I would tell her.

So, we managed to get through the soccer game (we won). And then when we got home, I told her. We both did some crying. Annie asked lots of questions. And then I got to tell her lots of my special memories with my Bammy. We cried some more. We also did a lot of laughing.

My girls are named after some special women. Annie is named after my grandmother, Mimi and my mother, who's names are both Annelle. And Jane is named after Bammy and my mother in law. Jane was Bammy's middle name. Funny how we had such a hard time coming up with a name for our second daughter, but when we thought of "Jane" it was a perfect fit. And now that Bammy is gone, I can't express how happy I am to have named my youngest after her.

Annie and I talked a lot about my memories about Bammy. I told her the story I used to love to have Bammy tell me. Once, when she was a little girl, she and her brothers were outside by the train tracks in cold weather. They were playing around and one of her brothers dared her to put her tongue on the train tracks. When she did it, her tongue instantly stuck to it. This was a problem, but the bigger problem was when the brother yelled, "TRAIN!!!!" which caused Bammy to rip her tongue from the train track, thus leaving behind a good chunk of skin. I always laughed and laughed at that story, especially the part when the brother got a good beating.

I told Annie about how Bammy used to make me fishing poles out of bamboo and then we would go down to the Benoit Outing Club and fish all morning until I was so hot and sticky that I would be begging to jump into the club pool just a few yards away. I told her that she taught me to do leaf rubbings and that she knew the names of EVERY flower and plant around. She could make the BEST hot fudge to go over ice cream. And her peach cobbler could not be rivaled. Whenever I find the PERFECT fig preserves, I am instantly transported back to my childhood and sitting in her kitchen with the smell of bacon (and possibly burned toast) in the air. She always had a smile and a laugh, and as I told Annie today, she always made me feel so beautiful. I was precious in her sight.

You want to know the best thing? Annie felt precious in her sight too. What a blessing. What a great blessing that my sweet girl is just as sad about losing my grandmother as I am. How lucky I am that my children can share such special memories of the people I love. Being able to share my love for Bammy with someone who loved her as I did was such a comfort to me today.

After our talk Annie went upstairs for a long while. She came down later and played with her brother and sister. She laughed, she played games, she did all the things she normally does. But when it was time for bed and prayers she got teary again. She walked upstairs to get her devotional that we are reading during Lent, and when she came down, she brought me this:

Bammy is in the middle, with the heart on her shirt. She is saying, "Papa Tango!" which is what the kids call my father. My father is standing next to her saying "Mom!" and up in that tree to the right is my grandfather (my mother's father who died while I was pregnant with Jane) who is represented by a cardinal. This is what she drew earlier in the day when she was upstairs for so long. I love that girl.

And I love you too, Barbara Jane. But then, you already knew that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Incredible Baby

Poor Jane is sick. What started out as a cough and congestion last week has morphed into a high fever and crying at night. This, of course, warranted a trip to the doctor yesterday in a mad attempt to (hopefully) nip this thing in the bud so that we can have a decent Spring Break with the kids. Not sure if anyone remembers LAST Spring Break, but we were kind of hoping for an improvement over that. Meh. So, doctor's diagnosis? Ear infection and possibly a sinus infection. The urgent care clinic is not so much about a solid diagnosis, more about giving out an antibiotic and sending you on your way. Hopefully she will be back to her old self quickly. But while we wait for her to return to her wily ways, I will fill the time with what happened LAST week.

Let's set the scene first...Jamie and I are downstairs in the late afternoon hour enjoying some QUIET as all of the children play upstairs. AWAY FROM US. I can hear bumping coming from Jane's room occasionally. I can only assume she is playing dress up, which is her favorite activity. BUT I AM NOT CHECKING BECAUSE I DO NOT LOOK GIFT HORSES IN THEIR MOUTHS. After a while, she comes downstairs and hands me this craft set that I THOUGHT I had put in the top of her closet. Surely not though? Because HOW would she have gotten that? I dismissed this, thinking that I must have put the craft set in a different area altogether and had forgotten about it. This would not be unusual since I like to hide things from myself on a normal basis. That way I can blame the children when I can't find something. It's all a part of excellent parenting, I tell you.

Bedtime rolls around and Jamie and I walk Jane into her room. In the middle of her room, plain as day, is her Easter basket. Now, I KNOW the Easter basket was at the top of the closet. Of this, I am sure. This is where I start stumbling for words, "The Easter basket? That was in the top of the closet? Why is it down on the floor? How did it get down here?" Jamie told me he was sure she had climbed up on something to get it down. I opened her closet door and sure enough there was a chair there! Only it was a tiny child's chair. And if Jane had stood on the tiny child's chair and reached WAAAAAY above her head, she still wouldn't have been able to reach the BAR that holds the clothes, let alone the top shelf of the closet.

At this point, I have this whole scenario going in my head in which Jane climbs up onto the chair, makes a giant leap to grab hold of the clothes bar, swings around it until she is hanging by her monkey toes and then flips over to grab the Easter basket off the shelf. WITHOUT SPILLING ANY EASTER GRASS. I mean, there is no other explanation right??

Then, a few days later, we were watching the Pixar short films clips that were on ABC Family. There was a scene in which Jack Jack, the Incredibles baby was staying with a babysitter and the babysitter kept LOSING him every five minutes because he could fly and would end up on the ceiling. "THAT'S IT!" I shouted. "SHE CAN FLY!" I told the children the story about Jane and the Easter basket and they were pretty well convinced of her super powers too. Jack Jack can also set himself on fire occasionally, and I think it's possible that Jane possesses that super power as well.

So, I told this story over and over to various grandparents and friends. Also included in that story was how Jane crawls into the evacuation crib at church every week and they still cannot figure out how she gets there. AND they tell me that she will occasionally get her juice out of her bag. Her bag that is HANGING WHERE SHE CANNOT POSSIBLE REACH IT. Clearly, she has super powers. It explains so much!! Why did I not think of that sooner??

Only after telling the story over and over, Annie comes to me one afternoon and tells me that she now remembers getting the blocks out of the top of Jane's closet and putting her Easter basket on the floor, along with the crafting set. So. I guess she can't fly.

Oh well. I still think she's a pretty incredible baby.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mortifying Moments of Motherhood

Now THERE'S a good title. Kind of makes you feel little bit sorry for me? And maybe makes you want to read about what happened right? Probably because if you have kids, perhaps are related to a child, or even KNOW of a child, then you MIGHT have been in my shoes before. Or possibly you are going to DUCK AND COVER!!!!

I like to write about the funny things my kids do. And I REALLY like to write about the frustrating things my kids do because it helps me to make light of a situation and find the humor in it. Somehow, it's easier to take the moments that drive me crazy and turn them into something funny in my head. Making light of a situation is my coping skill, I guess. But today's story? It just plain embarrasses me. That's a little harder to write about, because I've got no funny to fall back on. But, I figured that if this is a blog about Motherhood, then it's best to explore ALL aspects. One cannot always find the funny in a situation, because sometimes it's just not there.

The day started out innocently enough. I was, in fact, lulled into a false sense of security as I walked into my bedroom and found Jay making MY bed WITHOUT BEING ASKED TO DO SO. Then I walked into the kitchen and found Annie fixing Jane her milk WITHOUT BEING ASKED TO DO SO. Who trained these children?? And just for the record, I do not normally have the children doing my household chores. Although, now that I think of it, maybe I SHOULD. It would be good payment for that whole Mortifying Factor that I deal with from time to time.

Jane and I dropped the big kids off to school and then headed to a PTA meeting. Jane actually listened to me as I told her she could not have more candy out of the candy bucket in the PTA meeting. Jamie and I have really been cracking down on her about her whining, as well as listening when we say no. She is getting better and better, but the "two" still rears it's ugly head often. This is when I repeat "Children are a blessing. Children are a blessing. Children are a blessing." But TODAY, I did not have to repeat that mantra because apart from one distressed cry, she did not argue over the candy issue. "I am rocking this mom thing," I thought to myself.

See...they lull you into that false sense of security so you'll let your guard down.

After the meeting, we met some friends at McDonalds, as is our normal monthly routine after meetings. As we pulled into the parking lot, Jane yelled, "YAY!!! Donalds!!!" She likes to give me an extra dose of "cute" before lowering the boom. We ordered our food and went to play on the playground.

Here is where a little backstory is needed. The friends we meet at McDonalds are good friends. Actually, scratch that. They are GREAT friends. And thankfully, after today, FORGIVING friends. Our kids have been playing together forever and Jane looks at them as siblings. She has a love/hate relationship with her one friend who I will call "Sweet Baby Boy" for this particular post. And he IS a Sweet Baby Boy. He cuddles with me and loves on me and calls ME "Jane". I love that boy. He and Jane also knock the tar out of each other on a regular basis though. They also hug a lot. So, we have hope for them yet.

So, the kids are playing and I am getting into the groove of hanging out with the mommies and catching up on some time with them when the SCREAMING starts. It is coming from Sweet Baby Boy and Jane is standing right next to him. That can't be good. His mother goes to him and discovers that JANE HAS BITTEN HIM.

*Jane's mother hangs her head in shame.*

My BABY bit another baby. Hard. Hard enough to leave a mark and what may have possibly turned into a bruise. Oh. My. Word. The shame. The embarrassment.

I snatched her up and spanked her fanny. Many times And fussed at her. VERY VERY LOUDLY. (This would also be called "yelling" but it is harder to write "And I yelled at her" for some reason without sounding like a Terrible Mother.) And in all the commotion the McDonalds play area FELL SILENT. All of the children stopped what they were doing to watch me spank my child. All the PARENTS fell silent to watch me spank my child. And I promise, this was not my imagination. IT WAS SILENT in there for a good 10 seconds as I unleashed my wrath upon my wayward child.

And then all the parents and all the children watched me as I packed up my bags to get the heck out of there. To punish Jane and also so that the tears of embarrassment would not fall while I was actually IN McDonalds. Jane gave Sweet Baby Boy a hug and then we began our Walk of Shame out of the restaurant. She trailed behind me sniffling and looking forlorn. But I was too mad and too embarrassed to care much.

Because ya' CHILD BIT SOMEONE. ON PURPOSE. With the intent of biting and leaving teeth marks on said person. In order to HURT them.

I know I am not raising a serial killer and that kids do this kind of thing from time to time, it's age appropriate and blah blah blah. But REALLY. Really, really, really. It is hard to swallow your pride and watch your child purposely do something like that to another child. Because somehow, as a mother, you feel as if you are to blame. It's that whole, "Where did I go wrong?" thing.

It's funny how our children's actions have such an effect on us. Because I have relived that moment over and over today. And I still feel just as bad about it as I did then. As if *I* somehow can control the choices that Jane makes. Boy, wouldn't THAT make life easier.

So, anyway, we went home. Jane was QUIET all the way there. She didn't ask for her blanket or her cup or anything else that she normally asks for in the car. Just her sniffles from the backseat occasionally. She knew I was TICKED. When we got home she went straight to time out and stayed there while I stewed and loaded the dishwasher. And stewed some more.

When I got her out of time out, I knelt down on her level and talked to her about the biting. But she's two, so who knows if what I said really made an impression. She was still upset and cried for a while. I was still upset and cried a bit too. Jamie called and asked if we wanted to meet him for lunch. And as we loaded up in the car, Jane looked at me and said, "I bite." Only, she said Sweet Baby Boy's name at the end of that sentence. I looked at her and said, "You DID bite and that was wrong. You got a spanking and had to leave your friends. Are you going to do that again?"

She told me no.

We'll see.