The Last One Bites the Dust

We recently celebrated the end of an era and now all our chldren are married. This time, we were smack dab in the middle of God’s country. (I even saw a sign proclaiming this.) As an aside, in researching this location, I learned that this was the area where the Seventies television show, The Waltons, was set. My Baby Boomer readers will understand when I say that this is a severely remote part of Virginia!

Nellysford, the town where all the festivities would be occurring, is so remote that tea bags were apparently unavailable for purchase. In order for our guests to have tea in addition to coffee at the reception, we had to buy them in South Carolina and deliver them to the reception. (I could never live where I could not get myself a box of Tetley tea!

But back to our celebration weekend. A lot happened before we walked Casey down the aisle, and I mentioned to more than one person that I felt as if I were in the sequel to the 1970 film, The Out of Towners. I called our film The Out of Towners: Mountain Edition.

Dad and I were on the road before 8:30. Kelly, Mark, and the kids were set to follow after school. That didn’t happen, because within minutes of their planned exodus from their home, Lily projectile-vomited all over herself and her daddy.  We all talked and agreed they should wait until the morning. Lily told anyone who was remotely interested about the details of vomiting on Daddy, complete with the specifics of the color and volume.

Our hotel was on the top of a mountain on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While I admit it was beautiful, it was also exhausting, and I did not enjoy hearing that Mark had purchased bear repellent in the event of an unfortunate meet-up with a wooly friend on his planned hike.

I quickly decided to abandon my physical therapy exercises after seeing that I would be replacing my leg lifts with never-ending stairclimbing—even when going to the bathroom. (14 steps up and 14 steps down.)

We unpacked our suitcases and stocked the kitchen with the snacks and drinks we brought in anticipation of entertaining some of our guests. With horror we discovered that the kitchen had a Keurig rather than a coffee pot. While we are regular Keurig users, which I love for their convenience but hate because of the negative environmental impact, we had only brought a can of coffee because “Kitchenette includes mini fridge, range top, coffeemaker, toaster,” according to the resort website. Left behind was probably 300 Keurig pods. We asked for a coffee pot and was literally brought the pot, but not the entire coffee maker.

Jamie and Geoff arrived close to midnight amidst so much fog that Geoff had to literally get out of the car to determine whether Jamie should turn left or right. It was quite the frightening end to an exhausting six-hour drive in the rain.

Kelly and Mark left before dawn the next morning, with the kids covered in protective sheets and with barf bags readily available for the next “episode.”

The wind on the mountain top was notable—so much so that it literally knocked Dad to the ground when he was leaving the car to check the address on one of the condos. While his jeans remained unscathed, both knees were scratched and bloody. He was limping the next day, and he worried about walking down the aisle looking like Walter Brennan. (Again, you need to be older to understand the reference.)

The big day was sunny and warm. Despite the lack of a DJ, which I wanted, and an abundance of hors d’oeuvres, which the bride and groom did not want, everything went well. The ceremony was beautiful, we had enough wine and beer, and as far as I know, no other vomiting events occurred until that night, when I joined the club five times.

Now I can add my new son-in-law to our family tree and relax until the next family wedding, which won’t occur until Dad and I are wobbly and wrinkly—when the grandchildren get married.

Congratulations Casey and Chris. It finally happened!


Not Your Most Conventional Career Goal

Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and you may be surprised by their answers. Perhaps they want to be like Mom and Dad and have a job just like them, or maybe they dream of becoming a teacher, firefighter, astronaut, doctor, or superhero.

Bryce, being a child of the Internet age, has quite an interesting aspiration. He wants to have a kids teaching YouTube channel—complete with commercials. He was telling me today that his first episode will be about vegetables, and although there are already several videos teaching children about every vegetable from A-Z (that’s how a three year old was able to tell me all about fennel), Bryce wants to both inform his viewers about vegetables and then have his dad make a pot of vegetable soup.

He has also given a lot of thought to his first commercial. He wants it to be a commercial for his newest favorite sandwich restaurant—Subway. Similar to how a man named Jared lost 245 pounds by eating a six-inch turkey sandwich for lunch and a 12-inch Veggie Delite sandwich for dinner for eleven months, Bryce wants to show his viewers how eating Subway sandwiches can make kid grow taller.

It turns out that Bryce is not unique in his career aspirations. According to a survey of 1000 children, the number three dream job for boys under the age of sixteen is having their own YouTube station. Check it out:

What’s his next show, you ask? Bryce is already planning episode #2, which will be a show about marble races. Stay tuned!

She Knows About Fennel?

Our grandchildren are being raised similarly to the way our children were raised as far as food is concerned, which is to introduce them to all sorts of food—lots of ethnic meals, fish, and spice-filled dishes—at very early ages.

Therefore, I should not have been surprised when I was asked by three-year-old Lily, “Grandma, do you like fennel? I like fennel, but my friend Sophia does not like fennel.” I admitted to her that I had never tried fennel but I would find a recipe with fennel soon. She then went on to tell me that “fennel is a root vegetable.”

That was a surprise to learn that she knew that. How did she know that? I soon had my answer. While visiting her yesterday, she asked to watch some videos, and one of them was about vegetables. I remember hearing that while both kids were at the grocery store, they pointed to a few items in the produce aisle and informed their dad that they were root vegetables.

So this brings up a problem. We all know that both adults and children are too connected to their electronic devices and plugged into their televisions far too long at the expense of free play and outdoor time. The obvious answer, particularly in the case of very young children, is to severely limit their e-time. However, I look at what they are learning—identifying root vegetables,the names and capitals of the states, and  not only the names and characteristics of the planets, but the dwarf planets as well.

What is today’s parent to do? How much is too much—that is the question.

To be Three Again!

It is now less than five weeks until our last family wedding, and as the mother of the bride, I feel like I need to have a new outfit for this momentous occasion. I am confident that wearing my favorite jeans will reseult in a few bad comments and shocked looks.

Hanging in my closet is my backup ensemble, which is a cute little jumpsuit that I recently purchased on a whim, not knowing until that moment that they had made a comeback. A jumpsuit had not been part of my wardrobe since 1992, but because of the inherent problem when going to the little girl’s room, I have not removed the tags.

If only I had a trunk of dress-up clothes like Lily does, I would be all set. While she was visiting me the other day, I asked her if she and mommy were going shopping to get a new dress for her aunt’s wedding. She paused a minute and then told me that she did not need to go shopping since she was planning to wear one of the dresses  she had received for her birthday. “I think I will wear my Elsa dress from Frozen.”

Knowing that the bride is a Disney fan, I thought she would love this idea. She told me a blonde braid would be needed, and I assured her that, of course, the Elsa outfit came with both the braid and the blue gloves.

Oh, to be a three-year old!

My Little Plant Buddy

Today is March 1, so I can finally see spring on the horizon, which means time to start thinking about what new flowers to plant this year. Mock me if you must, my children. Perhaps you all do not even know about my obsession with adding new color and textures to my garden, but Kelly certainly does since she lives close enough to watch this process happen each year.

It turns out that my interest is shared by three-year-old Lily, who began walking around my yard last summer, asking me the name of each flower, tree, and shrub. It has put a lot of pressure on me, since I cannot name them all. I have been forced to accurately answer her questions, and she clearly has listened to me.

I have been told that as she rides in her car seat, she enjoys giving a running commentary on what she sees outside the window: “There’s a crepe myrtle,” or “I see a palm tree,” or “look at all the pine trees.”

One of her birthday gifts from me was a garden set, complete with a little rake, shovel, watering can, and gloves. We went out together and purchased pansies, and together we planted them in her front yard.

As the daffodils began emerging last week, I promised her that when enough had bloomed, she could pick some to bring home. When she noticed a flower pot filled with nothing but dirt and a dead blossom, she asked me, “What happened to the vincas, Grandma?” So not only did she know I had planted vincas last summer, she recalled exactly where they were planted.

She loves that her name is also the name of a flower. I can’t wait to take her shopping for more lilies, and cacti, and one of her personal favorites—Mexican petunias.

I am happy to have a plant buddy!


I Thought We Were Done With Projects!

Whenever I see photos of the monuments in Washington, I am always reminded of the monument project you all had to do in second grade. Last weekend, when I saw the photo of two of you near the “Big Stick,” as Casey referred to the Washington Monument when she was a little girl, I was back in my time machine to 1992, 1994, and 1996. And now that we have a kindergartner in the family, the parent/child projects are beginning anew.

I thought that I would be out of that loop now that I am no longer the parent, but that was not the case this week when I was asked to help decorate a cake for cub scouts. Bryce had forgotten to mention the project until the day before it was due, but with the help of the Google Machine, we found a project he liked and was able to do on his own. His mom and dad are not going to be helicopter parents. They will assist but not take over these projects.

It’s a good thing we only had three children, because I can’t imagine what DC-monument project child #4 would have been allowed to create with Dad. As you all know, the first monument was the most involved: a carefully constructed replica of the Jefferson Memorial, built with wooden dowels and Styrofoam. The second was The Pentagon, which Dad carefully cut from scraps of wood and meticulously angled  together using his engineering tools.

Two years later he announced that he did not want to do this a third time, but he conceded that he would either make “The Big Stick,” or Casey would recycle The Jefferson Memorial or the Pentagon. She chose “The Big Stick.”

If there had been a fourth child, I would have recommended The Eternal Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. My design would have been a candle sitting on top of a piece of tile remaining from our bathroom renovation. Easy peasy. Done!

                    Mommy’s Eternal Flame

I Don’t Really Hate Kids

“I hate kids” was a common phrase that my mother says along with “don’t spill the wine,” “in my next life I am coming back as a man,” and “shit and shinola.” (And those are just a sampling of her greatest hits.)

After the particularly short night we had on Christmas Eve this year, I’d like to give you my thoughts on her most famous saying.

I don’t hate kids. I love you all—my kids, my in-law kids, and my grandkids. I would always laugh when my mom would express her hatred of all kids because I always knew in my heart that she was joking—mostly! However, just for a few moments on Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day morning this year, I shared that sentiment.

During the past few Christmases, our house has been Santa’s annex, since it would be difficult to explain the arrival of so many packages at the doorstep of a home with curious children. Both last year and this year my home has also served as Santa’s workshop since it is the perfect place to assemble some too-big-to-hide toys such as one very huge kitchen set and a three-story dollhouse.

Dad and I had to be involved in assisting Santa in transporting these gifts from our house to the house with the wee little ones. Last year, the kitchen set fit into the back of my car with just an inch to spare on either side and had to be taken into and out of the car by two very strong he-men.

This year—the year I briefly hated kids—we were faced with the problem of a child who was too excited to fall asleep until nearly 11:30, so Dad and I stayed up way past our bedtime in our clothes instead of in our heated-by-the-drier- pajamas. And in order to be able to witness the excitement of the children’s first view of the toys underneath the Christmas tree, we had to set our alarms for 5 am. That is when those infamous words of my mother ever so briefly popped into my head.

Just like that excited little boy, I also could not fall asleep because of those visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Christmas Day 2018 confirmed that five hours of sleep is just not enough for me. However, when one not-quite-three-year-old little girl bypassed her presents under the tree to screech my name with excitement and run towards me after she came down the stairs, my hatred of kids melted away faster than a dish of Moose Tracks ice cream on a very hot Carolina summer day.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Happy!