Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Speedster in the snow

Our last two days in Colorado were warm, sunny ones -- perfect for playing in the snow. And Will shed his timid skin -- first on a big sledding hill near the Eagle airport, where Owen took mini saucer rides on our laps while Will took high-speed mega rides on an innertue wearing a flaming pink snow suit mom picked up at the ski daycare lost and found. He took at least 30 runs, caught some minor air on a jump and probably hiked a few miles getting himself back up to the top. And then he nearly threatened to stay by himself on the hill when we told him it was time to head for home.

Today Will had his first day of skiing, lift ticket and all. And while he didn't figure out how to stop until near the end of his final run, he definitely learned how to go. Rob and I wore ourselves out walking skiless down the hill positioning ourselves ahead of him so we could catch him before he lost all control. Between ski sessions, we let him rest and play for a couple hours with Grammy and Owen while we made a few runs too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snow, snow and more snow

Merry Christmas (a day late) from Colorado, where we definitely enjoyed a white Christmas. The snow drifts in my mom and dad’s back yard are about as tall as Will – so we’ve begun work on some snow caves for him and done some snail-paced sledding as we work to pack out a run while the snow keeps falling. Here’s Will in the igloo he worked on today with Rob.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Will gets us giving

Today's Ledger-Enquirer article includes an article about how Will's suggestion that we buy a house for a homeless man he noticed on the side of the road prompted us to do some direct giving to a couple area homeless and emergency shelters this year. If you live in the Columbus area and are interested in donating directly to a shelter, here's a list of shelters to consider giving to. Many of them happily accept anything from monetary donations to clothing, household items and toys -- new and used. But call ahead to see what a particular shelter needs and how you can deliver donations.

Damascus Way, 706-653-2061, 1200 11th Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901: Shelter for Women and Children
Hope Harbour, 706-324-3850, Battered women shelter, crisis hotline
House of Mercy, 706-322-6463, 1532 3rd Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901: Shelter for Men, Women, and Children
House of Restoration, 334-214-5522, 908 7th Avenue, Phenix City, AL 36867: Transitional Shelter for Men
House of T.I.M.E., 706-327-6836, 1721 13th Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901: Transitional Shelter for Chemically Dependent Women
Open Door Community House, 706-323-5518, 2405 2nd Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901: Transitional Shelter for Women
Russell County Shelter for Battered Women, 334-297-4401, Battered women shelter & rape response
Salvation Army, 706-327-0275, 1718 2nd Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901: Shelter for Men
Valley Interfaith Promise, 706-494-6348, 1214 3rd Avenue, Columbus, GA 31902: Shelter, Support & Services for Homeless Families
Valley Rescue Mission, 706-322-8267, 2903 2nd Avenue, Columbus, GA 31904: Shelter for Men
Source: http://www.homelessresourcenetwork.org/services.html

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will quotables

First, from Friday, after his last day of school before Christmas break and before making a trip up to his Aunt Alicia's for an early Christmas celebration:

Will recounted something his friend had said to him at school:

"Mom, Creight said, 'I'll see you in January,' " Will said, chuckling at what Will obviously thought was a silly comment on Creight's part. "And I said, "I'm not going to January. I'm going to my Aunt Alicia's in Atlanta."

And then from today as we sat eating our early Christmas feast with Rob's sister, parents and grandmothers:

The phone rang and Alicia didn't answer it.

"No one has that number," she said. "It's just sales calls."

"Why's Santa Claus calling?" Will asked.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas crazed

I’m a procrastinator on all things Christmas and this past week the post-holiday madness has set in. I’ve been up until after midnight for 3 nights running and we still haven’t started addressing Christmas cards. Most of the time I kind of like the rushed run-up to the holidays anyway. It’s a fun kind of busy as long as Owen’s not tugging on my leg and crying while I’m trying to finish a task. On Saturday evening, we squeezed in a visit with Santa after Owen – who did wind up getting pink-eye -- had been on antibiotic drops long enough to not spread the illness to all other Santa lap sitters. Owen thought Santa was scary so we took a photo with daddy too. And when Will found the courage to sit solo on Santa’s lap his response to the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” was a baffled “I don’t know.”

On the way home from our Santa encounter, Will posed the question to us: “What do I want for Christmas?”

I reminded him of a few meager things he’d mentioned in his letter to Santa, and he took great relief in the fact that we’d mailed that message to the North Pole since he’d drawn a blank on the big man’s lap. In Will’s letter, after asking for a few action figures, he got chatty with Santa:

“I want a Christmas tree,” he told me to write. “That was a joke to make you laugh. I want to know how you’re doing. Are there anymore reindeer? If you want to write a letter to me you can so I can be Santa Claus.

“Owen might want a new little ducky, please,” he added after I suggested he might throw in a request for his little brother.

And he signed off with his own printed name and some funky looking stick figures.
We did our Santa sitting at the Landings, which earned Will a ride on their holiday carousel:
Who has fun Santa letter excerpts to share?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pink eye for you and I

We’ve kept Will sequestered at home for a few days with pink eye, which we only officially diagnosed and started treating with antibiotic drops late yesterday. On the drive to the doctor I noticed my eye itching, figured I was probably getting psychological pink eye just from thinking about the illness too much, but sure enough by the time we’d arrived in front of the nurse I had a clear case too. The upside of pink eye, in our case at least, has been that we’ve felt almost perfectly fine. And I enjoyed having Will and Owen together all day today and discovering just how much sustained time they could spend enjoying each other. I kept sneaking off into other rooms and keeping an ear out as they invented new things to do.

Occasionally Will would find me and register a complaint:

“I had the jack-in-the-box first and Owen took it,” he came to tell me once in a whiny voice.

“Hmmm,” I said. “I wonder how you could work that one out?”

“I guess just let him play with it,” he said, suddenly chipper, and he trotted back to play some more.

Tonight we passed our 24-hour on antibiotic drops mark, so we’ll get to return to the world. I’m still marveling at the fact that Owen hasn’t yet succumbed to pink eye himself since once of his favorite things to say of late is “eye, eye, eye” as he points to the eye of any nearby family member with such eagerness that he sometimes sticks his finger right in the eye he’s identified. We’ll see what he’s looking like in the morning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cookie time

One thing I love about the holidays is the excuse to bake a lot of evil sweet things and then unload them on Will’s classmates and our coworkers – while sampling plenty ourselves. This year we’re making gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, candy cane cookies (less for their taste and more because it’s fun to roll out little red and white snakes and twist them into candy cane shapes), chocolate covered pretzels and magic cookie bars. Will has played lead baker much of the time. I mastermind the cookie production but leave most of the pouring, stirring, cookie-cutting and icing and sprinkle-applying to Will.

Our main difficulty is managing Owen if he wakes up from a nap when we’re still prepping cookies. Generally he climbs up onto the chair Will’s standing on, squeezes behind his big brother and starts grabbing for various cookie making tools, at which point I swoop him up and attempt to find something more interesting than cookie dough to occupy him. No easy task. Play dough on the floor just isn’t the same. A couple times I've just let him stand on a chair at the kitchen sink, pouring water between containers (and of course onto the counter and floor), rubbing bar soap on his hands and generally making a grand mess. All in the name of buying a few minutes of peaceful cookie making for those of us who can be counted on not to stick our freshly washed hands in our mouths and noses before handling the cookie dough.

After we'd finished most of our cookie-making, I read this Cookie Swap article in the Food Section of the Ledger with links to some tasty looking cookie recipes. I'd like to try the Persimmon Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut for a start.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tree hunting and trimming

We made our annual trip out to Lakeside Christmas Tree Farm , near Phenix City, Ala., to cut a native Eastern Red Cedar. The next best thing to a trek in a snowy forest hunting for a Christmas tree (which I have fond memories of from my childhood in Colorado) is a wagon ride out to a Christmas tree plantation, where you can pick up a crude hand saw, let the kids run around in the maze of trees, and then cut your tree yourself. Here are some photos from this year’s excursion:

(Will took this one)
and one from our tree decorating celebration:

With Christmas music as background, Will sipped hot cocoa while Owen sobbed every time I removed a box of breakable ornaments from his reach. He tossed my offerings of soft teddy bear ornaments or cloth wreaths to the floor, unappeased. Finally a durable Georgia football ornament pacified him for a bit. Still we wound up doing most of the decorating during his nap time to keep the frustration to a minimum. Now I’m waiting for our little climber to take his first stab at tree climbing as he attempts to reach those tantalizingly shiny red Christmas balls.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bringing children to funerals

Today we made a day trip to Marietta to attend Rob’s grandfather’s funeral. We brought the boys, enjoyed a lunch at the church with family and close friends, and then I chased Owen around during the visitation – occasionally managing to speak more than a sentence to someone before I had to dart off to catch the kid, who was too squirrely to stay in my arms. We made it through 10 minutes of the funeral service, as I stuffed Cheerios one by one into Owen’s mouth to keep him quiet. He clapped after hymns and eventually was making enough happy exclamations that I made a swift exit and let him run around on the sidewalks outside the funeral home.

Toddlers and funerals don’t exactly mix, but still I was glad to have both Will and Owen there. We had wondered briefly about whether we should leave Will with a friend, wondered whether he wasn’t old enough to grasp a funeral and might be bothered by it. And of course, a 4-year-old can’t grasp death. Most of the reading we did suggests that kids see death as reversible until about age 6. (Here’s one article if you’re interested.) But that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from being included in an important family ritual – and surely the rest of us benefit from the joyfulness of the youngest generations at a time when we adults are grieving.

Back at home tonight I asked Will if he’d enjoyed the funeral and having a special time to remember Grandpa. He said he did. I asked him if he’d liked the music and the things that the speakers had said about Grandpa.

“Yes,” Will said. “And now he lives with God and Jesus.”

“I remember one part of the prayer,” Will added. “It says we’re all going to heaven.”

So we had a little conversation about heaven that quickly led Will to say, “But we want to live forever.”

“People don’t live forever though,” I said. “After a long, long life our bodies stop working and then it’s time for us to go.”

“Yeah,” he said and went back to his supper. And we left it at that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Goodbye Grandpa

Just after midnight last night, Rob’s grandfather passed away. He was born July 28, 1920, in Blairsville, Ga., and he had a long, rich life – 88 years in total. He stayed at home until Thanksgiving morning, when he was moved to a hospice where we got to visit him that afternoon. And so we spent Thanksgiving being grateful for his life and grateful for the fact that we got to see him one last time, on that day, and see that he recognized us, even watch him manage to get out the words “I love you” as he looked out on his grandchildren and great grandchildren and his wife. Grandpa was a soft-spoken, warm-hearted man. He gave the kind of firm prolonged hug that made you certain he was happy to see you and I often noticed that his eyes would get moist just looking at family members, especially when a goodbye was looming. He had a tender heart and a deep love for his family.

On Wednesday, we’ll take the boys up to Marietta, Georgia, for his funeral. First here’s a little tribute in photos – with a focus on Grandpa as a great grandfather (the only great grandpa Owen would ever meet).