Welcome Home Little Prince

William and Kate’s third child emerged from a London hospital yesterday just seven hours after he was born. Mom’s hair and makeup were perfect, the dress was lovely, and Kate was walking with ease.

Thinking back on the births of my three children approximately thirty years ago, I see the changes in hospital births. During those earlier days, no one other than the hospital staff, Dad, and me were permitted to hold any of my newborns, and when fathers held their children, they were attired in hospital scrubs just like the nurses. Today, it seems as if anyone is allowed to hold those new tiny little bundles of joy—no hospital gowns required!

None of you spent the night with me in my hospital room. In fact, the only opinion anyone cared to ask of me was whether or not I wanted my babies returned to me for a feeding or allowed to remain in the nursery and bottle-fed by one of the nurses. I opted to do the 2 am feedings myself, and then the babies were returned so that I had a little peace and quiet before the next feeding. Nowadays, as witnessed by the newest babies in our family, the nurseries seem to be a thing of the past, and the babies currently stay with Mom all night long.

When I gave birth to my children, I remained in the hospital for 2-3 nights, which gave me a bit of time for my body to adjust to the birth. I did not bring in my hairdresser and make-up artist, and I left in stretchy sweats and sneakers, not a lovely dresss and heals.

For Grandma, her hospital stay was at least a week! Now, as witnessed by the lightning quick exit of the newest prince from the hospital, new moms may not even stay in the hospital for a single night.

For the mother of a prince who lives in a palace with plenty of people to attend to all the needs of her growing family, this is not as difficult as it is for the rest of the world. Ah, to be a royal for a week or two!

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Do I Look Good in Orange?

When Dad decided to visit a few islands impacted by last year’s hurricanes, I did not realize it could become complicated. After all, we have been on numerous cruises throughout the Caribbean so it should be easy, we thought. But we never visited a Communist country.

We booked a cruise which will be visiting Key West and Cuba—each for no more than a day. Dad was particularly interested in seeing the old cars, which is one of the attractions for tourists visiting that island nation. Why are they all old, you may wonder, and the answer is because the Castro regime had banned the import of foreign cars since 1959.

Once the trip was booked, we learned we needed to purchase a visa to leave the ship in Cuba, and we cannot go to any beaches and are limited on strolling around the island on our own during the entire stay. During the Obama administration, I had learned that travels to Cuba had opened up slightly, but there are 12 categories of authorized travel permitted, such as journalistic or religious activities and research.

Under Obama, individuals could visit under the “people-to-people” category, which meant you had to interact in ways that “enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities.”

Our new president has changed that, and it now appears that individual travel is now banned. We need to be with a group—hence cruise travel. We booked an excursion through the ship—a show at the Tropicana Club—which is allowed under Trump’s new Cuban travel rules. (Who knew watching scantily-clad women would be permitted?)

However, I have read that our little group of four people can do a tour with a private (non-government) agency, but I am still researching this rule before I book it. I keep thinking of Grandpa’s sister, who we all know ended up in that Russian jail after not following the rules.

All I want is to see the city of Havana, enjoy a nice Cuban lunch with a cold mojito, and check out the old cars. I am thinking it would be easier to visit one of the other Communist countries such as China or Vietnam.

I’m a Winner

We didn’t win the big lottery last week—the $521 million ticket which was purchased in New Jersey. Could it be that someone in our family is the lucky winner but is just deciding how to break the news to us? I am not naming names. You know who you are and you know you claimed you would share it with us.

Did I mention to any of you that I was notified earlier this week that I am the winner of $2.6 million dollars—and a brand new car—from Publisher’s Clearing House. I always thought they just showed up at your door with cameras blazing and a big fat check.

But apparently, that is not how it is done. I guess they want to ensure you are home, so they call first.

“Ma’am, are you familiar with Publisher’s Clearing House?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then I am happy to tell you that you are a winner.”

The caller proceeded to tell me about what I had won, and then asked me to confirm the name of my town. He then told me that they would be coming by this afternoon since they were, at the time, an hour away.

I must say that I did not believe any of this for a New York minute, and I expressed my skepticism to the bearer of such happy news.

“You can’t be too careful nowadays,” I explained to him, and with that, he hung up on me. I guess I need to keep buying those lottery tickets.

P.S. Publisher’s Clearing House does not inform winners by phone. Like in their television ads, they really do show up at your house.

 

Happy Birthday to You

Although you have all read my book, how many of you know that today is Grandpa’s birthday?Today he would be 99.

There are so many things I would love to discuss with him. I would love for him to read my book and critique it. As hard as I researched it, I am sure there are mistakes, and there are many holes I would love for him to fill.

I would love to know how he and his siblings felt when they learned they were moving to Russia. Was there a lot of anger and sadness in the house? Where did they get the money for the move, and how long did it take for them to prepare for it?

I am interested in learning about the trip from the memory of an old men about what he recalled of his thoughts as a twelve-year-old boy. Who found the apartment in Leningrad which they shared with another family, and how did they get along with them?

In particular, I am interested in learning about how he felt about his very long journey home alone. I would have been so frightened, particularly going on that trip as a twenty-two-year old. Unlike today, he had no way of communicating with his family, which is an experience that none of you ever experienced.

An example of this is happening as I write this. Kelly and Mark are on their way home from Alabama, where they went to pick up the kids who spent the week in Louisiana with their other grandparents. I was easily able to ask Kelly how the trip has been going via text messages (indirectly my invention).

I learned that they have been discussing the fact that Lily is unhappy with her hair, so the two of them have been trading ideas regarding how to transform her—purple pigtails was their decision! Can you believe a two and five year old are discussing hair styles?

If Grandpa were still here to celebrate this milestone, I would tell him that I finally understand so much of his behavior: why we never moved into a bigger house, why he never wanted to go on exotic trips (but I am glad he did not object to Grandma going on jaunts with her family and friends), and why he was always calling someone to right a wrong, such as complain about the noxious odor emanating from the local chemical plant.

I would tell him how sad I am about what I learned about his childhood, particularly regarding the details of what happened to the three members of his family he lost during the war. I would tell him I am proud about how he was able to get himself home, serve in the Army, and then settle down with Grandma and raise five children.

Whenever I think I can’t do something or think life is too difficult, I think of him. That is what I would tell my dad.

                            

Maybe It’s Not So Bad

I thought I hated to shop, but I am now considering that I may just hate to shop when the pickings are slim. I had this revelation this past week when Dad and I took a field trip to Charlotte. My IPhone battery arrived, and the nearest Apple store is seventy miles north of here in North Carolina. I decided to take the opportunity to do some scouting for dresses to wear to our next family wedding.

Although I love where I live, there are very few stores near our house where I have much luck shopping for clothes. I frequently leave my shopping excursions frustrated and with little or nothing to show for my time.

The mall in Charlotte is beautiful, and I found myself actually smiling as we wandered down the unsoiled “streets” of the shopping center. We passed multiple coffee/tea chops, the Disney Store, a Lego Store, an Apple and a Microsoft Store, and one of my favorite places to organize my life—The Container Store. These are fun places to shop.

I did some wedding-dress research and purchased a dress for myself, which I may or not wear for the big day depending on the opinions of the womenfolk of the family.

I believed that I was having a relaxing, politic-free day. That ended when I nearly grabbed a dress off a rack in Dillard’s. Can you guess the rest? Dillard’s is arranged by designer, and there, on top of an array of pale pink dresses, I spotted a name which caused me to literally recoil in horror when the name “Ivanka Trump” jumped out at me.

“No way,” I told Dad. As much as I enjoyed the deal I got on the dress at Macy’s, I informed him that I would not consider one of those dresses even if they were giving them away. Dad added, “Even if you were being paid for it,” and I completely agreed.

Despite the little political intrusion, I left the mall in a good mood. Perhaps we just need to take a few more road trips when I need some new clothes. Maybe I don’t necessarily hate shopping as much as I thought. We’ll see. Kelly is skeptical.

 

This Memory Will Stick

During the early years of our marriage, Dad was more of a NY Yankees fan than a follower of any other sport. It was not until Kelly went off to college that viewing college football games became a regular activity in our family.

For Dad, playing and watching golf is now his primary interest—so much so that his telephone has labeled his trip between our house and the golf course as “work.” It is therefore a great source of excitement to him as he observes the growing interest in golf with his first grandchild.

It began a few years ago as grandfather and grandson would stand at the edge of our backyard to watch the golfers head toward the green on the course behind our house. Next, we watched father and son at another golf course—father hitting the ball as his little boy sat patiently behind him, anxious to chase the ball once it left the tee.

On his fifth birthday, Bryce was presented with his own set of clubs and is eager to learn the sport. A few weeks ago, he excitedly told us his big news, which was that he was going to The Masters—one of golf’s most famous tournaments—with his father, other grandfather, and uncle.

Yesterday was the big day. The plan was to allow him to attend for just a few hours because it was believed he would not have the stamina or attentiveness to stay the entire day. That assumption was incorrect, because he told Dad and me later that he was sad that he did not get to see more holes. He enthusiastically showed us the card which he got at the tournament and explained that he planned on taking it to school for Show-and-Tell.

Dad, Kelly, and I agreed that because Bryce is five years old, he is old enough that he will be able to look back on this day as an adult. Five-year-old memories do not disappear as two-year-old memories do. When he is a father, he will be able to tell his children the story of his first trip to The Masters, including the fact that he was the youngest attendee that day. Oh, what a memory!

I Am So Confused

Dad and I visited the Strom Thurmond Federal Building yesterday so that he could get a new social security card—among other things. The process of entering the building is not unlike the TSA experience when flying.

I emptied my pockets, handed over my driver’s license, and put my purse through the scanner. Having gone on over a dozen flights since my hip-replacement surgery last year, I was confident I would have no problems. Having just returned from a trip this week, I walked through the human scanning machine without mentioning my spare parts. This time, however, I lit up the machine (are you kidding me?), so I was instructed to step aside to be wanded. It was time to confess that I was a bionic woman. At that point, after raising my arms, and turning around several times,  the beeps were restricted to the surgical area, so I was permitted to go about my business.

The unsettling thing was the fact that I could board an airline with no problems, but I could not walk into a federal building without lighting up the machines. Perhaps after the Oklahoma City blast, security has been tightened—but why not on airlines?

I am so confused.