Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Memory of My Grandpa

My grandpa passed away yesterday. I was so lucky to have had such a wonderful grandfather. Here are some things I want my kids to know about him:

  • When I was little, I had an irrational fear that my parents would abandon me somewhere. Two things comforted me: 1. I knew my mom wouldn't leave her purse (and rationalized that if her purse was with me she must be planning to return). 2. I knew my grandparents' phone number and could just call my grandpa to jump in the car and get me. He would have too, even though he lived 700 miles away.

  • He loved children. As a little old man who bore a passing resemblance to Pope John Paul II, he got away with a lot and was known to pick up strangers' babies who held up their arms to him in restaurants and grocery stores. When I was trying to describe to my mom how much Ethiopians doted on Norah and Atticus when we were traveling with them in Ethiopia, I explained that it was like having a country full of my grandpa.

  • My grandma wasn't supposed to know, but he sent me shushkis (envelopes with notes and spending money) regularly.

  • He and my grandma were married for 64 years. He would regularly stop by the side of the road when he saw wild tigerlilies or sweetpeas and cut her a bouquet.

  • As a former funeral director, he taught me how to apply makeup using samples in drugstores while we waited for my mom and grandma to finish their shopping.
  • Another professional perk: He maintained an excellent relationship with his local Lincoln dealer and they always called him up when they had a good deal. For my college graduation he gave me his Lincoln Town Car. A few years later, Paul and I had to replace Paul's car. I knew if I mentioned this to my grandfather he would give us another car. We wanted to be grownups who took care of our own needs; we quietly purchased a Toyota Corolla. When my grandpa found out about it a month later, he bought himself a new car and promptly drove the old one out for us to have. Until the day we traded those two Town Cars in, I kept finding little vestiges of my grandpa tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the cars: plastic bags rolled and rubber-banded into the tiniest of squares, stray cigars and an ancient pack of Marlboros that he never would have smoked but probably was given and kept "just in case" he ran into someone who wanted them, silk flowers pinned to the sun visors, a bobble-head Jesus...
  • He loved dogs and horses. He kept sugar cubes in the car for horses he came across. The neighborhood dogs used to stop by to visit him for treats.
  • When Paul announced he would be moving to my college town to be closer to me, my grandpa's first words were "Keep your pants zipped."
  • He loved checking up on people and making the rounds. He had a long list of daily stops (the city mission to help serve food, the grocery store to see what he could see, the newspaper store, my mom's cousins' house next door when we were at the lake to find out what people were up to and what was in the candy jar...).
  • I lived with my grandparents every summer when I was growing up. Sometimes after evening meetings, he would wake me up with a coffee Fribble from Friendly's.
  • He didn't get much time with Atticus and Norah, but he was delighted by watching them swim and getting a chance to hold them.
  • He was absolutely the best grandfather anyone could ever wish to have.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Preview

We're still keeping our germs to ourselves today, but it was too beautiful to stay inside all day so I put the kids' Halloween costumes on and took them for a nice long walk. I think they make a pretty cute mouse and poodle.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Does This Make Me a Published Author?

Imagine my surprise this morning when I opened the December issue of Adoptive Families and saw a passage from my own blog! It's on page 15 in the event that anyone wants to check.

It's been an un-newsworthy week around here. All four of us have had colds and all of us except Norah have been slightly miserable because of them. I know we're not dealing with a serious disease or anything and should be grateful, but I am so sick of us being sick. Ugh.

Atticus has discovered that he loves to have his ears cleaned out with Q-tips. He actually requests it and has tried to do it himself.

Norah continues to keep us on Baby Suicide Watch. She's determined to walk right off the top of the stairs, the bed, the couch... She spent a good portion of yesterday amusing herself by putting a dishtowel over her head and then running around blindly.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last weekend I was relaxing outside in an Adirondack chair while the kids played wondering why I didn't do more of it over the summer. Then I realized that they've developed so much in just the last couple of months. Norah wasn't even crawling throughout most of the summer and now she's delighted to run around chasing the dog or exploring the yard. It gets better and better. (Yes, Atticus is napping in the first picture.)

Both of them have recently developed a taste for cherry tomatoes and Monday Atticus began to pick the red ones and eat them. Norah followed suit, except she skipped the picking part and pulled the tomato vines straight into her mouth.
Here's the other big development around here:

He not only figured out how to climb into the kitchen chairs and move a stool around this weekend, but also began to read aloud some of the words from his favorite books. I'm sure he just has them memorized and isn't actually reading, but we think he's a genius nonetheless.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


When I was growing up, my dad and I had a Halloween tradition of driving around to find the biggest pumpkin possible and then carving it together. This weekend he was nice enough to pass along the tradition with Atticus and Norah. Atticus wasn't too sure about this new activity; he spent most of the time in his great-grandma's lap checking out the action from a distance. Norah, on the other hand, thought it was fantastic. A big orange thing to chew on! Something to stick her hands in! Gooey pumpkin guts to wave around!

This morning Atticus practiced his newest skill, climbing up into chairs, while observing the pumpkin from a closer proximity. Videos of his weekend will be posted soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Odds and Ends

Seriously, how cute is my son? These kiddos melt my heart over and over again and I feel so lucky to be their mom. The picture of Norah is representative of all the pictures I've tried to take of her recently; the child does not stop moving long enough to capture anything that remotely captures her essence.
Here are some things the kids have been up to:
  • They like to compare their bellies. They can both show us where their tummies are and then they like to hold up their shirts and stand face to face laughing. It's adorable.
  • Atticus has started to throw temper tantrums when we don't drop what we're doing to read him a book RIGHT NOW. His current favorite is Oops! and we must have read it at least six times tonight.
  • He has been transferring his favorite word ("more") to all sorts of things and now uses it to ask for the toy drawer to be opened, to be spun around more, or to get into his highchair.
  • Before we stored it someplace secret and high-up, he was obsessed with our iron and would tote it around the house. Don't worry, we never actually use the iron or plug it in, so I doubt we have to worry about him burning himself.
  • Norah loves climbing out of the bathtub. She has also learned her brother's trick of using her sibling as a step to get onto the couch. They are so funny.
  • We took a family walk around the block the other day and both kids walked 3/4 of the way all by themselves. It was a fantastic way to tire them out and they thought it was hilarious.

Friday, October 3, 2008

She Has Them Eating Out of the Palm of Her Hand

My grandma has been in town for the past couple of weeks. She fractured her hip on Labor Day and had a portion of it replaced, so she has been staying with my parents while she recuperates. I can't believe she had such major surgery only a month ago and was walking around the library with us today! She is truly an inspiration.

It's been great to see her more regularly. Since my grandparents live in New York and my grandpa hasn't been well, we haven't gotten to spend nearly enough time together. She totally won Atticus and Norah over this summer by introducing them to their first cookies. Atticus learned to get the box off the table and take it to her since his mean old mama wouldn't have complied. Now that she's in town, the kids know who to turn to for their raisins and Cheerios. In addition, Atticus is besotted by her cane. Go figure. [For the record, those aren't real scissors in the third picture. They're a pair of cooking forceps that have provided endless amounts of entertainment to the kids. Again, whatever works...]