Sunday, April 29, 2007

Use it or lose it

Thanks to Terry at And Sew It Goes, quilt mistress extraordinaire and new grandmother of Sofia, for this gem of a video clip. Of course, Terry and I have a few more years to go before we join this rock band but it does look like a fun gig ...

My Generation

Gotta love those Brits!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Six and four (well, almost)

Ben (age 6), upon my arrival: “Babci, say tyrannosaurus!”

I indulge him and manage to mispronounce the word once again. How does he remember my tendency to place the accent on the wrong syllable? I haven’t seen the kid in a year and a half!

Ben giggles with delight and carefully corrects my mistake.

Sophie (age 6): “Babci, you’re silly. That’s crazy.” Dubious looks at whatever words of wisdom I think I’m dispensing. Cynicism at six? I no longer walk on water. It starts this early?

Olivia (age 4): “Babci, I love you.” Adoring look and quiet affirmation as she pours imaginary tea for me in her plastic cup.

Hannah (not quite 4): “Babci, you’re the best.” Sleepy words of satisfaction as I tell her a favorite bedtime story and rub her tummy “in circles”.

In all fairness, Ben told me I was “the best” too when he was four years old. But now he and cousin, Sophie, are moving on … kindergarten, friends, learning how to read and write, growing beyond simple trust and finding new voices to raise questions and challenge the adults in their lives. Losing baby teeth, cutting new teeth. Jokes and pranks and feeling so sure of themselves. Firstborn cousins, trying to assert their positions in the family circle.

I laugh at their teasing and impatience with me. They expect answers and dialogue now. It’s simpler with the younger siblings. I don’t have to work so hard. I can still lead the dance. With Ben and Sophie though, I have to let them take the lead and flap their wings a bit - stretching the boundaries but still wanting to know that it’s okay.

Different ages, different stages.

“Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I’m six and four”


Friday, April 20, 2007

A pirate and a princess

Flying out to the Pacific Northwest last week and spending time with son, Joe, and DIL (daughter-in-law), Katie, and their growing family was such a gift. I am so blessed here with daughter, Jenn, and clan but miss the long-distance connection too.

It had been fifteen months since last making the trip which involves two planes to Seattle and then either a two-plus hour car trip to a Victorian seaport town on the Olympic Peninsula or a ferry from Seattle and then an hour’s car trip to the kids’ house. This time Joe and Katie were in Seattle for the day and picked me up at the airport.

Stepping into the family van was as if time had not really passed at all except, of course, for the new member of the family sitting in her baby car seat. Ben and Olivia were firmly anchored in back of me and Ben was almost jumping out of his socks to pick up where we had left off.

“Babci, look at my new sneakers. Babci, I have a story to tell you.”

It seems that story telling runs in the family.

While Olivia slept, Ben recited a Chinese epic that he had heard in kindergarten. His mom, Katie, in the front seat had to be called on as a prompter when he occasionally missed a point or two about the dragon or the Mandarin magic. Finally, the never-ending story reached a conclusion and with that, my only grandson nodded off. We arrived home and dutiful parents carried the kids to bed. It was a long day for all of us. Ben was totally spent from his exciting recitation in the car. His imagination knows no bounds – dinosaurs, super heroes, Scooby Doo (one of his dad’s favorites too at that age), and, of course, pirates.

I contributed to the pirates by a tale I started telling on prior visits, the saga of Captain Gruffy Face and Razatazz. I created these two quirky pirates and Ben eagerly listened at bedtime whenever I visited. We would lie side by side and I would spin a story. Then, about two years ago, I drew some pictures, had them framed and sent to Ben for his birthday. Little did I know that the epic adventures of my misfit pirates were waiting to be rekindled with this visit.

Not only had Ben remembered every nuance and arc from the original story, he was ready for them to set sail once again at bedtime. And now little Olivia was just as thrilled to share in the pirates’ adventures. It was time to add a little romance and introduce Petunia and Princess Elena. (Every female heroine has to be named ‘Princess Elena’ according to Olivia. It’s her princess du jour.) Both kids shared a huge air bed in Ben’s room while I slept in Olivia’s bedroom for the week and this added to the fun.

Each night they would put on their jammies, brush their teeth and plop in bed, waiting for me to join them and continue the mighty tale. Ben would literally bounce up in glee as I added a villain or two and Olivia would giggle. It was such a joy to sit on the end of their bed and watch their reactions. The story has become one long soap opera and is very interactive. After the girlfriends, I was told to get them married and let some babies come. We added puppies and kittens and quite a few cannons to the Captain’s ship, enough to have him destroy evil Googly Eye’s boat and save the town. If I strayed in a direction they didn’t want to go, brother and sister would see fit to edit and direct the nightly production.

Having grandchildren has moved me in new directions. I never thought that stories I spun over a year ago would be so well remembered and then take on new life with my visit to Ben, the pirate, and Olivia, the princess.

I left with the promise that I would keep the story going and send them new chapters in the mail. Ben wants me to place a wax seal (of authenticity?!) on the back of the envelope. I will have to create a plot and character list just to stay on track. My pirate and my princess seem to keep all the details in their heads and will hold me to the task!

What is so endearing and rewarding is the fact that these silly made-up words from a grandmother’s mouth seem so special to the little ones who listen.

Perhaps that’s really the essence of becoming a grandparent, mutual admiration and remembrance – worth even more than a pirate’s treasure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Meeting Iris

Dear Iris

Thank you for the pleasure of your company last week. I have to admit that our time together was long overdue. I jumped into the waiting van and looked over to find two bright and very awake brown eyes smiling back at me. Your sister, Olivia, was fast asleep in the car seat behind us and big brother, Ben, was already eager to share lots of news and stories with me. But you, dear girl, held my attention. You were the new kid on the block. We sat side-by-side while your daddy drove us all back home for the next two hours. You already had quite a full day with mommy and daddy in Seattle but were still awake, giving me precious time to gaze into those big brown eyes. You didn't fuss or cry at the stranger sitting next to you. You seemed perfectly okay with my entering your personal space. The feeling was mutual.

I was so glad to finally make your acquaintance. I wasn't there last July for your home birth and missed the first tooth and other early landmarks. Easter week was a good time to come though - new life, new beginnings. It did seem a bit surreal and took some getting used to. After all, last time out, I had two grandchildren and now there was you!

You remind me of your daddy and your Aunt Jenn with those large deep eyes and you seem to have a streak of brunette which certainly sets you apart from your two blonde siblings. As I got to know you, I could see that you are sturdy and spunky and that will serve you well around Ben and Olivia. You are very chatty and laugh easily. You also seem to know what you want and when you want it. Another determined female. Credit that to both sides of the family.

You are almost nine months old and just about ready to take your first steps, a force to be reckoned with. I'm glad that you got to take me to Victoria BC for an overnight stay with mom, dad, Ben and Olivia. You travel well.

Grandbaby #5, it still amazes me. Now I have to find a way to add your birthstone to my grandmom ring. You're not ready yet for the tall tales I spin for your brother and sister but that will come. You seem quite content to be the baby. You giggle at Ben's knock-knock jokes and light up when Olivia hugs you. I think you are enjoying your role in the family circle.

I don't know when I will see you again. It was hard saying goodbye. I will miss more landmark moments as things happen so fast when you are this little. Just to know, I have an imprint of our time together and it's safely tucked away. I can pull the new memories out each day and keep you with me. All the many photos I took will help too.

Welcome to the family ... welcome to my heart.

Love, Babci xxoo