Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Man Worth Knowing

Yesterday we said a final goodbye to my Grand Poppy,  Harry A. Stout.  I just cried a little more typing those words, and I am tired of crying. But some people are worth crying over. Some people deserve a fuss being made over them.  Grand Poppy certainly deserved it, but he may not have liked it.

In my memory, Harry A. Stout was a good man, an honest man, a humble man. He did not talk much about his childhood with me, and yet he was a wonderfully child-like grandfather, always willing to go for a walk or play a game of cards.  He could nearly always be talked into a bowl of ice cream.  He didn't seem to care what name we gave him, and he answered to all of them: Grandpa Harry, Bobby, Grand Daddy and Poppy.  Maybe names weren't such a big deal to him, as I often heard him say "There's my girl!" when someone new walked in the room. I usually had to look to see if he was talking about my dearest Grandmother, Piki, or one of his daughters,
 or one of us granddaughters or one of his dogs.  He loved all of his girls, and he made each of us feel like his favorite, his special girl.  I wish my daughters could have known him better.

But why do we wait until someone is gone to say nice things about them? I said "I love you" each time I saw him, but never told Grand Poppy how much I appreciated his humility, or his generosity, or his ability to pretend that our hands were glued together. I hope that someone expressed to him in words what I left unsaid.

Today I will begin saying the nice things that others need to hear.  I will tell people that they are wonderful, that they can do great things. I will pretend with my children, and I will tell them family stories until they can recite them back to me, until they are sick of hearing them, until they know the good people that have come before them.  Today I will speak my love and admiration.

And I will have a dish of ice cream topped with a few salty tears.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine Babies

Happy Valentine's Day!

My little Valentines had a party two days ago. For the first time in five years, I did not obsess over worry stress out spend any time creating an amazing valentine box for anyone.
I think it may have been a major break through.
I was headed into a craft store to pick up a few pink and red supplies when I saw a display of "memory boxes" on clearance.  Shoe-box size. Colorful. Pretty. Varied designs. Cheap.  It was an easy decision.
Ruffer Valentine Boxes, 2013 Version
I still feel a little guilty about these boxes.  It felt like a selfish choice. Easy decisions often feel selfish, don't they?  I think a big part of me missed taking an old shoe box and crafting a Valentine monster. But another, equally big, part of me didn't mind having a little extra time in my day.  (Honour Math: 1 big part + 1 big parts + various little parts + chocolate = 1 guilt-wracked mother.)  Plus, they are cute boxes.  
One of my boys felt like his wasn't personal enough.
He printed off pictures of Angry Birds and glued them to his box. Perhaps his feelings about Valentine's Day are more fully expressed now?

 Ginger had a relapse of an illness we've been sharing around here, so her older brothers and sisters helped me throw glitter and glue candy down to the pictures she didn't color.

When she was feeling better, and fortified by a heart-shaped sucker she ripped off of someone's valentine, she inspected their handiwork and declared it acceptable.  At least, I think that's what she was declaring.  She's always declaring something, but usually her pronunciation is difficult to interpret.

These were my favorite of our home-made valentines. I love variety of colors and the preschooler signature. When Willa was lagging behind in production, her older sister very kindly helped her finish and the owls became more uniform in their appearance.  The crazy-quilt application holds a certain charm for me.

 Of course, their creator holds a certain charm for me too.

 Norah's Valentine's were "store bought" but she very carefully wrote names and attached lollipops.  I think tiny cards are precious.  In fact, if I ever start sending mail on a regular basis, I might exclusively use tiny envelopes. I wonder if the USPS will mind?

Isn't she dear?  She tries to be so grown up, and with two little sisters hanging around, I sometimes think she is.  But then I see a picture of her, or listen to a voice mail message she's left me and I remember that she is still a very, very little girl. That's good, because I'm keeping her home with me forever. I hope we stop arguing about her hair soon.

 These are Sammy's messages of affection.  The girls got pencils, the boys got football cards.
And Sam, apparently, got a touch of memory loss.  Why are we giving valentines away?

Weston's cards pretty much were the same as Sammy's.  There's only so much you can do with a girly-holiday like Valentine's Day that doesn't seem, well, girly.

Weston is a little tired of pictures.
And maybe you are too.
So you'll be happy that I don't have a picture of my true Valentine and the card he gave to me.
I will also spare you a picture of our muddy yard.  All our snow has melted (so there, Boston) and we now can see all the random bits of garbage that Dolly the Wonder Dog has pilfered from the trash and left half-chewed across our winter grass.
February without snow is not my favorite.
Thank goodness for {cute} boxes with chocolate to cheer us up.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sister/Mouse Help

I know this will shock no one, but my house is dirty. All of it.
This morning I felt like I was on the verge of a Housekeeping-Mothering-Christian Living Crisis.  I don't believe a clean house is a measure of one's Spirituality, but - for me - being surrounded by clutter and chaos is unnerving. It is hard to be a nice mother when my house is dirty. Being a nice mother is sort of a hallmark of following Jesus, isn't it?  I mean, if you are a mother. Non-mothers should be nice in their life calling, I guess.
Anyway. Verge of crisis.
I called my sister Amy to see if she could help me infuse my situation with humor and defuse my ever-shrinking temper.
She listened.
She sympathized.
She posted this video on my Facebook page.

I handed my phone to GBaby so she could watch it while I fixed her lunch.

Her siblings (well, the three that weren't laying on the couch all sick) crowded around her.

And I promptly stopped fixing lunch and grabbed my camera.

Because they are so cute. People that cute don't really need to eat, right?

I love her little hands. They may be almost two years old, but they're still baby hands to me.

This video clip was just what I needed. It felt so nice to have my sister acknowledge my good heart and over-worked status as family drudge.
I am obviously Cinderella.
I even have mice in my house.
Maybe if I started leaving little suits of clothing for them instead of traps they would be my friends.
Then they could sew pretty dresses in the attic while I'm busy fetching food for and cleaning up after my family.
I'd rather have them run the vacuum, but that might be more than their little mouse arms can handle.
Also, I wonder if they can be trained to sing in deeper voices.  I don't know if I can take much more squeakiness.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Winter Thoughts

There is a difference between dormant and dead.
There may be no green stems, no unfurling leaves, no stretching out towards the sun, no fruit-bearing.
But that doesn't mean there is no life.

Even seeds aren't dead. (Well, unless you roast and salt them. Then they're just food. And food should mostly be dead.)
They are just sleeping.

Trying to maintain color out of season is unnatural. (Everyone has a great-aunt or two whose hair color attests to this fact.)
And a waste of photosynthesis.
And a waste of transpiration. (Yes. I do know what transpiration is. Do you?)
Color out of season is draining on a plant.

Maybe your brightness is past. Maybe your fruit has shriveled on its stem.
(OK. The fact that I just typed that shriveled fruit sentence makes me laugh on the inside [LOitI]. The fact that I am leaving it ensures that my mother will call me tomorrow and revisit our conversation about sharing too much information [TMI] publicly.)
(The fact that I am making fun of over-used acronyms makes me hope my sister Amy reads this and appreciates it.)
(The fact that I used the word publicly makes me miss my sister Isabel.)
(The fact that I just alluded to a couple of inside jokes makes me wince.)

Be patient.
You are not dead yet.
Maybe it is just winter.
The long sleepy time for gardens.
The perfect time to recharge your mind.
(I did not place this banana sticker on her head. I merely took a picture of it.)
Also the perfect time to cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate.
(She was trying to be Downton Abbey-ish - her words. I did not have the heart to tell her that ripped jeans were not early twentieth century, but late. I appreciated the attitude and the effort to sit up straight on the edge of her chair.)

Or enjoy a bit of silliness.

Or indulge in a bit of over-reaching introspection and wordiness. (The pictures made me do it.)