Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baby Talk

I have a new picture on my refrigerator. It’s not—to tell the truth—the cutest or most colorful one there. But it is, in some ways, the most special—because it is our very first picture of our new grandchild-to-be!

Yes, I am going to be a Nana a third time! This is the one very important detail I left out when I was telling you in my last blog about our upcoming visit from our grandsons and their two mommies. There is also a third grandchild coming (in utero) and a third mommy—well, actually a mommy-to-be. Erika and Richie are going to have a baby in early November. How exciting is that!!!

Of course, we’ve known this for a while. But now that I have a picture of this new little one, I just can’t resist sharing the news with you. I have to admit this picture is not real detailed; it’s a very, very early unltrasound. But still, it is a miracle-in-progress. Just so amazing . . . the creation of a new little life.

What an awesome Creator-God we have!

There is something very special about having your daughter expecting a baby. Lots of you grammies out there (whatever name you may go by) know what I mean. But a baby to be born in Dublin . . . now that is an extra-special challenge. First, you all know that is just too far away from Wisconsin. But then there is the question of whether I will be able to understand this baby when he/she learns to talk. I already have enough difficulty understanding my son-in-law (sorry, Richie) even as charming as he is. But a baby speaking “Irish”? That will be an entirely new level of baby talk.

Sounds like a great adventure to me, all the way around. So, the “secret” is out! I just couldn’t wait another day to tell you. Especially since this new little life-in-process is arriving tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow! As Erika always used to say when she was counting down the days to vacation or a birthday party or Christmas, “only one more sleep!”

Which means I have to keep this short and get back to work on the homefront getting ready for tomorrow—and for a baby shower! Once Abby and Kelly get here next week, we’re giving Erika an early baby shower. It’s our only chance, trans-atlantic family that we are, to all be together (well, almost all—we’ll be powerfully missing “our men” Bjorn and Lars and Richie; Woody and Bengt and Soren will just have to uphold the male view of things).

So I’m off to the supermarket—and shower planning. I really love Baby Talk, don’t you?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nana's House

When I was a little girl, I loved to go to Nana and Grandpa’s house. I thought it was quite a magical place. A place we could make fudge and popcorn and drink Cokes (both in shorter supply at home as daily staples). A place where Nana seemed to have nothing at all to do but to talk with me.

(This always amazed me, as my mom, who was a part-time realtor and a full-time mom, seemed to have so much to do all the time, in spite of the fact that she truly prioritized spending time with me. Why was it that moms seemed so busy and nanas had so much time?)

My Nana's house was a place where there was always space—and time—for endless games of cards or Monopoly. A place where Grandpa would take me out to his garden to measure how high the corn was growing and to check on his tomato plants and green beans. Where he would fix me an early breakfast of peanut butter on toast while we waited for Nana, a later sleeper, to get up.

Yep, I loved to go to Nana’s house.

But—where do the years go?—now I’m a Nana. How I long for the situation with my grandkids that I had with my grandmother—living in the same town, just a short car-ride between houses. My grandsons live in New Hampshire and North Carolina. And, in case you haven’t looked at a map lately, both of these states are a looong way from Wisconsin. Way too long!

So . . . I don’t get to have my grandsons come to Nana’s house very often. More often it’s easier for them and their parents if we go to them instead of their coming to us. And last Christmas, when we would have all been together here, we gathered instead in Florida to say goodbye to another very wonderful “Nana” (actually named “Nini” by her adoring grandchildren).

But guess what is about to happen? Both Bengt and Soren are coming to Nana and Farfar’s house (They call Woody “Farfar” according to the Swedish name for “father’s father”) in just about one week. Their mommies, Kelly and Abby, are coming too, and also their Aunt Erika, all the way from Dublin. I’ve taken to calling it “Girls’ Camp,” though of course it involves two very special little boys and one very special big one named Farfar.

Do I need to tell you how excited Woody and I are? We just can’t wait! We are having a ball trying to transform “Woody and Linda’s house” into “Nana and Farfar’s house.” Woody and Linda’s house, so filled with books and CD’s and comfortable napping sofas, would surely be a boring place for a very active 2-and- ½ year- old and a nonstop 18-month-old.

Fortunately we have neighbors. Generous, thoughtful neighbors who have kids—quite a few kids between them. And fortunately they have kept a lot of “baby stuff” and miscellaneous toddler entertainments. So this weekend Woody and I will go on scouting trips to a couple of neighboring basements and garages. Quite magical basements and garages which apparently hold not only things like car seats and strollers and booster seats but also wagons and riding toys and—of all things—a backyard roller coaster. Should be fun-filled “one-stop-shopping,” as one neighbor describes her lower level.

Why am I telling you this? I guess I just want you to know how excited this Nana is! But I guess I also wanted to encourage any of you reading this who may be “Nana” (or Grandma or Grammy or Mimi or whatever): You can make a really big—and wonderful—difference in your grandkids’ lives. My grandparents sure did.

And, for those of you readers who are mothers of young children, please remember how very much their grandparents long to see them and spend time with them. Many of you are probably fortunate enough to have grandparents living close by. But for those of you who don’t, keep in mind that a trip to “Nana’s house” might just be worth all the effort—and I know travel with children is a massive undertaking!—not only for your sake and your kids’ sake. But also for that Nana and Farfar waiting on the other end.

Gotta go for now. Time to dig through the basement storage to find out what toys we really did save. Nana’s house must have some good stuff to play with!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mother’s Day: A Memory Mosaic

So many Mother’s Day memories . . . Some happy. Some sad. Some poignant. Some hilariously funny.

Mother’s Day evokes a host of memories, doesn’t it?

I have always loved Mother’s Day. No, that’s not true. Ever since I became a mom, I have loved Mother’s Day. Before that there were a number of years when Mother’s Day was hard for me. Very, very hard. Especially the year I had just had a miscarriage. And the years before that when I wondered if I would ever become a mom. I dreaded Mother’s Day some of those years.

I’ll bet some of you have memories of Mother’s Days like that, too. Years when you wondered if you’d ever be a mom—or had just lost a baby. Memories of days like that are part of my Mother’s Day memory mosaic—good reason to sit in church on Mother’s Day praying for women who may be sitting there desperately wishing they were mothers.

But then there came the year—the glorious year—when I became a mom. And ever since then I have loved Mother’s Day. When my kids were young, I loved the sticky cards and struggling plants and homemade gifts. I loved the early Mother’s Day morning flurry of activity in the kitchen—even though I hardly dared to think what damage might be done by three kids and a dad whose only excursion into the kitchen was Mother’s Day (Hey, it really wasn’t that hard getting egg whites or whipped cream off the kitchen ceiling—it was worth it!) I loved the procession up the stairs, when they would sing “Happy Mother’s Day to You” and carry a tray with a breakfast for me which they would enthusiastically devour themselves whenever possible. (I used to consider renting my kids out as some kind of a diet plan!) I especially loved the Mother’s Day breakfast menu cards Woody would make, complete with pictures of the kids as well as poignant or funny cards laminated on them. One of my favorite ones pictured The Three Stooges (a favorite with Lars) with flowers. I’ve kept every one of those cards!

As our kids got older, I looked forward to the hilarious cards they would pick out themselves. And the Mother’s Day brunches Woody would plan at a Boston restaurant. Now that our sons are married and have sons themselves, I love to hear about ways they honor their wives on Mother’s Day. Knowing what great mothers my two daughters-in-law are, they deserve pretty special treatment!

I’ve been a mother long enough now—nearly 32 years!—to have a host of Mother’s Day memories for my memory mosaic. And most of those memories form a pattern: a pattern of overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude for the gift of children. For the gift of my children’s spouses. For the gift of my grandsons. For the gift of my own wonderful mom.

Which brings me to a new part of my memory mosaic. Mother’s Day week for me this year has been extra-hard. I find myself missing my mom ferociously. I just so desperately want to call and talk to her. Just one more time . . . ??? Once again, sadness is a part of my Mother’s Day memories. Sadness because this year I don’t have my mom to send a card to. To pick out a gift for. To call on Sunday. I know she is so much better off than she has been any other Mother’s Day. What could be better than spending it with Jesus?!! But still, I miss her. With all the Mother’s Day ads and emails and catalogues, this feels like a long week.

Yet the mosaic still has the same theme, even with the sadness pieced in. The theme is gratitude. Not only am I thankful for my children and grandchildren, I am thankful for my mother. She was my prayer warrior. My best-friend-next-to-Woody. My most patient listener and most enthusiastic cheerleader. A mother who passed on to me a deep love for God and a deep faith. Not everyone has a mother like that—another reason to pray for other women sitting next to you in church this Sunday!
But those of us who do have a great deal to be thankful for on Mother’s Day.

So what does your Mother’s Day memory mosaic look like? For some of you reading this, it may be your first year as a mom. Some of you may have some pre-mom memories like mine. Some of you may be missing your mom as I am. And I’ll bet a lot of you have some pretty funny Mother’s Day memories to share! Please write in and tell us about them. We’d love to laugh—or even cry—along with you.

And while I’m asking for your response, may I remind you that I’m still looking for some stories of Mom To Mom end-of-year activities your groups may have done—or be doing. It’s never too late to tell us about those.

Happy Mother’s Day!