Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Julia's Song

Julia has been asking if we could record her singing some time. We finally did and she insisted that we post it.

"Will this get like, a million hits?" she asked.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Guest Post #2

Greg here. The one thing I regret about giving up blogging is adding to the archive of events in our daughters’ lives. Deb and I keep these memories safe and we do a good job of reminding one another about events in the past – but old blog posts were good for some of the details that fall away. For example, reading about the exact height, color and smell of Allie’s projectile vomiting (years after the fact) made it seem almost charming.

I wonder if I’ll feel the same way about Julia locking herself in her bedroom on Wednesday.

Wednesday night Debbie has class so the girls were in bed by the time she got home. When Deb went upstairs to kiss them goodnight she couldn’t open Julia’s door. I heard the commotion and joined in. Deb and I stood outside Julia’s door asking her to let us in.

No response.

The silence from the other side of the door started a small wave of panic inside me. For me, fear means yelling. I began yelling at Julia to open the door. Finally, after pounding and yelling we could hear Julia whimpering. The yelling and the whimpering went on for a very long time until I gave up on the coat hanger I was using to pick the lock and just unscrewed the entire knob assembly. The knobs fell away and I popped open the door ready to scoop up Julia and fling her out the window. Frightened, angry and probably frothing at the mouth I grabbed Julia’s arm and demanded an explanation. All I got was crying.

The entrance to Julia’s bedroom no longer has a door.

On Thursday after plenty of interrogation Julia said she locked her door because she was mad at Allie. I’m pretty sure she made up the explanation just get me to shut up. I tried to tell her how she could earn back her door but she kept smirking at me and looking out the window so I gave up. It was obvious this was a much bigger deal for me than it was for her.

Last night was the first night Julia slept without a closed door since she was old enough to tell us she wanted her door closed. I suspect this change has disrupted her circadian rhythm or something because around midnight Allie woke me to tell me that Julia was downstairs in the living room. I went to retrieve her and found her on the couch with her head buried in the cushion and her butt in the air. I didn’t carry her upstairs. I made her sleepwalk back to her bed.

So far both girls have made attempts to look for Julia’s door. So far I’ve caught them looking in the garage, under their beds and in various parts of the basement. They still haven’t found it and seemed a little baffled that something so large could remain in the house undetected. I hinted to Julia that I gave her door away. She started to cry so I reassured her it’s somewhere in the house . . . as far as she knows.

UPDATE: This evening I had to take the door knob off our bedroom door because someone had locked it and closed it on an empty room. Deb just went to Home Depot to buy a nail gun.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Hi. Greg here. Deb said I could re-post one or two things here because my blog is hard to get to these days.

Thanks, Deb.

Here you go, Uncle Butch:

I was sitting in my Grandma's living room Saturday holding a tattered, eighty-six year old photograph. The photo was held together with a piece of tape and shoved into a simple, clear plastic frame. It showed a man and a woman with a baby between them. Someone had taken a ballpoint pen and written, Daddy on the man's chest, Gertie on the baby's gown and Mother beneath the woman's face.

Grandma told me, "Dad had just got a new overcoat and wanted to wear it for the picture." There really wasn't a need to explain why Charles (Daddy) was wearing his coat in the photo. It didn't look unusual to me. I have a feeling Grandma has heard this bit of trivia told to just about everyone who has seen this photo over the years. I'm sure Grandma offered the explanation to me out of habit. After all, she is the baby in photo so I wouldn't expect her to have any memory of what happened that day, eighty six years ago.

The picture is evidence that my Grandma was a beautiful baby back in 1918. It's no surprise that Charles and Amanda (Mother) chose to bring her home from the orphanage. Although, I'm told, it was Charles who immediately fell in love with Violet. Violet was Grandma's name before she was adopted. Charles and Amanda decided to call her Gertrude. I looked at my Grandma when she told me this and in my head I said, "Hello, Violet."

Surprisingly it fit. Grandma named for a beautiful flower seemed just as appropriate as Gertrude (I looked it up and it means spear of strength). And, as far as I am concerned, Grandma is really the only name she'll ever need. But I would never presume to argue this point with Charles, Amanda and everyone else who knows and loves Gertrude. So my first, Hello, Violet, will be my last.

Charles was a laborer for the Wabash Railroad and Amanda was a school teacher. Grandma tells me Charles spent most of his time washing the big train engines that would roll into the rail yard. I looked at his face in the pictures. I was somehow disappointed by his lack of resemblance to anyone in our family. An odd thought that seems petty and ungrateful. How could I be disappointed that a man who chose to love and care for my mother's mother didn't have eyes shaped like mine?

Amanda looked young, vital and sturdy in the picture. I had a difficult time reconciling this with the image my mom has implanted in my head of Amanda as an older, stern woman who lost a leg to diabetes. Grandma talked about the day Amanda died. I kept looking down at Amanda as Grandma told me about the day she lost her mother. My brain was swirling together an overwhelming sense of mortality with images of everyone I care about and I kind of wanted Grandma to shut up.

She did.

I could see it was far more difficult for Grandma to talk about that day than it was for me to hear about it. But I was grateful she spoke about it with me. It's what I couldn't stop thinking about at 2:40 a.m. on Easter Sunday. That and the eighty-six year old picture of a train washer in his new overcoat with his beautiful wife and his new baby girl.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In a class by myself

I am. In a class by myself. The summer class I'm taking toward my MBA pertains to the legal and regulatory environment of business, and I guess almost every other student of this college decided that was just too heavy of a topic for summer. Because only one other student registered for this class, and he isn't local, so he's not attending the classroom sessions; he's only participating online.

Last week, the instructor and I met to review the syllabus and so he could set the tone of the class. We were the only two people there. This week, he started lecturing and he lectured only to me. I'm being privately tutored.

Now I had some small upper-level classes when I got my undergrad degree from this college over 20 years ago, but this is new.

Needless to say, I'm making sure I do my preparatory reading for class!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Greg raised the blind in our bathroom this weekend. It's almost never open because the bathroom window is quite large. Awhile later, I went in to take a shower. I took a look; the trees have grown up so much that as long as I didn't get close to the window, and as long as I stayed away from one angle, no one was going to see me if I didn't close it while I showered. The only possible angle where someone would see me is if our neighbors were right out at their property line, and based on the look of their "garden" back there, that wasn't going to happen.

So I took my shower, dried off behind the shower curtain, and pulled the curtain open. And even without my glasses, I could see, our neighbor was back along the property line, facing in my direction, mowing his grass.

I ducked.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sleeping with the crickets

On Saturday night, Greg slept outside in a tent in our backyard. We've lived in our house for 11 years now and the blue spruce trees we planted along our back property line (to block the view out our living room windows of our neighbor's parked boat and camper) are big now. Really big. They were seven feet tall when we planted them and I bet they're well over 20 feet now. When you put a tent in that same area, it's now pretty secluded. They could pretend they were adventurers out in the wild jungle, I suppose.

There are several traditions associated with backyard camping. First is that Mom is a wimp and she does not camp with you (sorry, girls--think of it as kids-Daddy bonding time). Second is that there must be licorice. Third is that your bedtime is well after dark, and that you take a walk around the neighborhood once it gets dark with a flashlight.

This year, Greg told me that the three of them went to the park across the street and checked out the playground equipment, which is out of sight of our house and actually a bit of a walk away across a field (we're closer to the soccer field side). Greg said there were two kids there, one perhaps 19 and one who was short enough and slim enough to be much younger than 19. And he said they were both completely plastered.

I guess you never know what surprises you'll find in a city park after dark. We live in a small city, about 12,500 people, and we know that drinking is a big hobby for high schoolers (and I'm sure, younger kids too). I don't know if our girls noticed or if Greg said anything to our kids. I don't know what I would say.

Maybe a plea. Please, don't someday break your mother's heart by drinking until drunk and then hanging out in a city park in the dark. And don't drive.

I want my kids to have more nights when they think sleeping in a backyard tent is cool, especially with their daddy. Their childhoods are going by so fast.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May flowers

I feel like I need to post something so you all know I'm not dead. Well, I'm not and we're not, we're just busy. You know how that goes, your life takes a detour (in a good way) and you just don't have the time you used to have. Greg is giving a giant HAH! at that last statement and he's not even the slightest bit amused.

Regardless, we're all fine. Julia is sleepwalking a bit. That's an interesting new development. Still no thumb sucking though, so I don't mind the tradeoff. Her future orthodontist probably wishes she'd keep it up but she really seems to have kicked the habit without too much trouble.

Allie has been stressing over learning the 50 state capitals. I told her frankly that her daddy and I never had to learn the state capitals and couldn't probably name half of them--especially the ones that aren't in the biggest cities in the state. I mean seriously, who knew the capital of Nevada is Carson City. Carson City? It's pretty funny listening to Allie try to pronounce Baton Rouge though. Between that and Des Moines--- Hey, it doesn't take much to get a laugh in our household.

The title of this post reminds me of my wonderful grandma Martha, god rest her soul. She and my grandpa retired on a wooded five-acre lot and one of her greatest pleasures of spring was picking what we called May flowers every May. Delicate and pretty. I miss her. It makes me sad that my girls never knew her or my grandpa Elmer. Now there's a couple for you--Elmer and Martha. Aren't old names great?

And so life goes on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Growing up

As Greg mentioned in his post, Allie started learning about puberty in health class today. When she came home from school, Julia went outside to play and Allie and I talked through all of her questions for about 45 minutes. These discussions have been going on for awhile now, but now of course, she wanted more details on certain things.

Actually, I didn't answer ALL of her questions. She said, Mom, I understand that the sperm and the egg together make a baby but I don't know how they get together. I said, Allie, that's sex. She said, drawing out the word in realization, OOOOOHHHH.

I told her we'll talk about sex eventually, but that right now, we'll just concentrate on puberty. One conversation at a time, please.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

We caved

We did. We bought the girls a hamster.

It wasn't much of an expenditure. We already had everything except fresh bedding and hamster food. And the hamster. The girls named her Ruby (my suggestion) after an intense 20 minutes or so of name-considering.

We can't remember when our last hamster, Fuzzy Sara, died but Allie doesn't remember her at all, so it must have been before she turned 5. One morning, I was in the bathroom with Allie and Greg came to tell me that Fuzzy Sara was dead. I remember I asked if he was sure and he said, Oh, yeah.

So now Ruby has taken up residence in the cage. She has all the hamster necessities, including her own penthouse (that she's presently too little to climb up the tube into). She's a Russian dwarf hamster and Allie and Julia are in love.

So are the cats.

They somehow tipped the cage off Allie's bookshelf and the whole thing shattered last night. It seems like the hamster somehow escaped harm despite being under some debris when we ran up the stairs. Greg made a late night trip to Wal-Mart for supplies and now the cage is bungie-corded in place to the bookshelf.

Every time we checked last evening, the cats were sitting on the floor beneath the bookshelf or at the end of Allie's bed. Watching. Always watching. We've brought more excitement into their lives in the last 18 hours than in the whole three years we've had them.

Happiness all around.