Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Visit from Grandma Manny

My grandmother Manny just knows how to live.
She turned to me the other night with a magazine on her lap and a bowl of ice cream in her hand. She gestured to the open window.
"The breeze is so nice," she said. "I have something to read. Life just doesn't get much better than this."
When Manny left after a two day visit, Haven cried.
"I am poor," he said. "I am poor because Manny went home."
And of course, like all mothers, I find my children's wisdom profound. In this instance, it is also fitting. Manny has always found her wealth in people, especially her family. She has always lived simply but has put out tons of energy to spend time and make memories with her kids, grand kids and now great grand kids.
This week it was wild blueberry picking, book discussions on the couch with Haven, a trip to the lake and a bit of babysitting so Pete and I could go out -- what fun!
We have definitely established a new ritual called "Visits from Grandma Manny" and I hope they'll be often -- perhaps the next one should be at harvest time. We could carve pumpkins.
Other highlights from Manny's visit:
-- "Do you think Denzel got a permanent?" she asked as we watched The Great Debaters.
-- Yummy noises after each bite, intermingled with "This is WONDERFUL!" at every meal (I promise, I love this; I don't get many "thank you's" around here unless they're demanded).
-- Mesmerizing little boys with 30+ years of kindergarten teacher reading experience -- using character voices, engaging them in thoughtful discussions -- "Now, why did the little engine chug over the hill?"
If you're reading this, Manny, come back when the leaves start to change.
We can't wait!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Enjoy It

"Enjoy it."

Who said it first? You know the quip old ladies exhale as a travelling circus spills out the seams of your shopping cart.

They smile. They remember when.

"Enjoy it," they say as they wave their crumpled shopping lists like the Pope waves his staff in a blessing.

"Enjoy it," they say because they know first hand that the trees and the forests of care taking can swirl into a blinding fury. And that, no, we young mothers can't tell them apart. That between the frenetic need to feed and clothe growing children and sort their clothes in bins and drawers and wipe crumbs and jelly off of counters and floors and couches and faces, we young mothers can easily, so easily get caught up in a whole lot of not enjoying it.

They also know that in spite of all the hard work, it only takes a second to make a choice. To turn on a dime. To lift up one's heart. To open one's eyes. To meet a nagging cry with a smile that's contagious. To set the tone of the home with a glance and a grin. Or the absence of one.

The old ladies know how simple, right and good -- but oftentimes hard -- it is to enjoy family life. They know because they were young mothers once too. They know because they look back on the days of intense mothering as the sweetest (or so they say; Although, I still have yet to meet one who actually wants to relieve me of just one of my precious offspring -- believe me, I've offered -- "Come on, just take one for 10 minutes while I hit the freezer section. I'll meet you at check out. Come on, lady. 'Enjoy it' yourself!")

But really. I know they're right. And so I find myself echoing their collective command as my children hang and cling and climb on me like a mommy jungle gym.

"Enjoy it."

"Enjoy it."

"Enjoy it."

And then I'm surprised to find myself smiling as I rock a colicky baby on the porch while toddlers run in underpants under a summer sky. Knowing that my cup runneth over, knowing I'm so glad this crazy, sweet life is mine to enjoy.

"I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; also that it is God's gift to man that every one should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil."

Ecclesiastes 2:12

PS: A little Simeon update:

Our precious baby is doing so well. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia did confirm through DNA testing that he does have Noonans Syndrome. I know I had written that he originally tested negative for pulmonary valve stenosis (the heart defect associated with Noonans) but further testing revealed that he in fact does have the defect. However, we met with a specialist last week who says his case is very mild -- no surgery if things stay the same -- thank God!

We just love him. He's giving crazy smiles and jabbers incessantly. Of course, all prayers, especially in regard to his long term health, are greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Adventurous Park Outings

"Don't worry, he's nice," smiles a preteen girl with a dog that has come over to sniff my butt.

"I'm not worried but I don't like dogs," I reply as my kids scream in the car and I fight with my 3 wheeled stroller to work just one more time.

"Oh, but he's real friendly. He won't hurt you."

"Yes, but I'm UNFRIENDLY AND I MAY JUST HURT HIM!" I spat with a jump and clenched fists.

She made the most horrified expression and ran (I mean ran) away and for some odd reason the whole exchange put me in the best mood all morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Amazing Love

I don't know this couple, Esther and Rupert, but they have an amazing story. Three years ago before they were engaged, Esther was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Rupert proposed anyway and they married.

Esther has already outlived her prognosis by two years and is in her last days. Rupert's love, courage and sacrifice are truly inspiring. Please join me in praying for them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Everyday Summer in Ordinary Time

"Help me trash pick this grill and I'll give you a million bucks," I told her.

"Could I just swim in your pool?" she said with tired eyes. I'd sell my soul to swim in your pool.

"My pool is small. The kind just for babies. You could give it a try."

She did. Gangly legs curled up. Wild, yellow hair chopped like an accident. A house key tied loose to a cast aside sneaker.

I felt so guilty. The grill was so heavy. The mountain so steep. We pushed it on bad wheels at 4000 degrees.

But she smiled the way a child does when a neighbor is kind. She sat in the pool, peacock in puddle, with a smile. I wanted her to laugh. I wanted her to think I was neat. So I dumped iced tea on my head and yelled, "that feels GREAT!"

Haven cried but she just laughed. We tossed water all through sunset.

I don't have a pool but I'll give you what I can. Salad bowls brimming with water. As many as you'd like. Fun is easy to understand, young girl. The cusp of life, not so much. The world, your loneliness, your need to be wanted, I could never touch. But a smack on the back from a bowl full of water, a smile, some friendship, I can give you that.

And Gussie in the lake.

His brother Haven too.

And bare feet with blueberries picked fresh. I can give you that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

20 Healthiest Foods for Under $1

I just got home from Aldi (have I mentioned that I love Aldi -- I really do -- I actually have Aldi highs -- where I call good friends -- ok, just one good friend -- just to talk about Aldi) and read this article. I found it prophetic. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

When You Harass Good Friends Long Enough

They finally make you a blog; come on Jean and Danelle you ladies better be next!! In the meantime, visit Kate at:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I Could Kiss Your Face a Thousand Times

My little boy. Has it been 2 years already? Since I first saw your face. Since I first held you?

I'll never forget our rocky start. And today I promise to spend at least two straight hours feeling nothing but joy that you survived.

I don't think about our ordeal much at all. It's easy to forget what a sick baby you were when there's nothing sick about the boy you've become -- no motor skill delays, no hearing loss, no cognitive set backs -- nothing. If anything you're more agile than most and beat your brother to the sliding board.

What can I say, my Augustine Ambrose, but I love you. You took me from being a girl with a baby to a mom with 2 kids. You stretched me and made me realize my capabilities. I never knew I could be so strong.

Today you are two. You're my firecracker, my spitfire, my beautiful tornado. Your veins pump pure diesel fuel. And while you exhaust me beyond words, you give me life.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you
May He make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace."
Happy Birthday, Manchop!

(*We cheated and had cake last night with cousins.)