Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Perfect Family

Last evening my girlfriend and I had a conversation about the perfect family.

It seems that the family holiday celebrations were marred by a conflict between two of their daughters, resulting in one of them leaving in a huff.

I miss my friend Nancy Pyne. Whenever things like this happened to me she was always there with insight and a laugh to remind me that my family was normal. Nancy, where are you?? (I know, on the other side of the continent dealing with your own version of family fun)

I reminded my friend that a perfect family happens in perfect moments. If you string enough of those moments together you can have memories of the perfect family.

Every family has growing pains as you add new spouses and babies. I like to refer to this phenomenon as the family stew pot. Each new face that joins the family brings their own spice of life. Each spice needs time in the family stew pot to steep and meld until the stew is tastey and delicious with the mellow flavor of slow cooked deliciousness.

In most families, mom is the master cook. It takes a lot of love and patience as she tries to blend all of the spices into the bubbling pot. Sometimes she will worry that the new added spice is too bold for her wonderful stew, but in time, with plenty of love and stirring, the spice will settle in and make the whole so much more delicious than it was before.

As I have spoken to a few friends this week about their holiday celebrations, especially in our new role of grandmother, I have heard phrases such as "Happy Chaos" and "sad affair" (this is from a friend with 30 grandchildren under the age of 12--meaning a little one was always crying over the sad state of life).

Overall my friends have agreed that it was hard work that was worth the effort. Keeping a family strong when you add in marriages and new babies is hard work for the grandparents, but in time it will turn into a memory of the perfect family get together. Small perfect moments strung together with the thread of memory creates the perfect family we all dream about.

I encouraged my friend to write a letter to her daughters reminding them of how much they both are loved. I encouraged her to give it a little time and prayer. Family, it is the place where we feel at ease to let it all out, testing to see if we are still loved, even with our outlandish actions. The answer is yes, there is family love, but sometimes it needs a little time and distance to see the beauty of each family member that comes together to make the perfect family.

The perfect family--created one perfect moment at a time, surrounded by numerous moments that may not be quite so perfect--such is life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

True Christmas

This Christmas was a bit disjointed for me.

It started last fall when my daughter hurt her back and needed my care for her and her children. We went day by day, hoping each treatment and the bed rest would bring less pain--and soon--4 months had passed.

I added a trip to Indiana to care for my son's family and took my mother to Germany for her first trip abroad. While in Germany I enjoyed the time with my daughter as the Christmas season began in earnest.

The next thing I knew it was December 15th and not a gift had been bought.

I spent a good deal of the season rocking fretful children, softly singing Christmas carols as a lullaby.

I gathered children around me and read holiday stories to ready them for bed.

I looked at trees trimmed with memories in each of my children's homes.

I sat and held hands with my sweetheart as we watched a movie or two that portrayed a heart felt message.

I drove down the streets of town looking at pretty lights in amazement of the magical transformation they make in the season.

Too soon the calendar stated that the time for preparation was past and it was time to sit and reflect.

It was not a year for wonderful home made gifts crafted with love. It was more of a checkbook Christmas which could only hint of my love for those that I call dear.

But, a magical Christmas it was.

I was able to see all of my children and grandchildren during the season. I was able to hold them and kiss them and hug them.

I played games with the children and cooked tastey food that I hope will make a memory far lasting than a trinket I might buy or bauble I might craft.

My daughter received a clear bill of health from her doctor. Though she is tired and weak, in time she will be strong again.

My husband is working his last few days in preparation for retirement in the first days of the new year. We have worked our entire married life for this exciting event, I am looking forward to this wonderful change in our lives.

I am thankful for the birth of my Savior, for his life and atoning gift for me and you. The world is a sweeter place during the Christmas season. I am glad I was able to spend the season rocking little children, looking at the sparkle in their eyes as the magic of Christmas unfolded with each new day.

I hope you were able to make a Christmas memory that will last longer than the falling needles of your once beautiful tree.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Car Seat Adventures

Lately I have had my 1 year old grand daughter staying with me while her mama recuperates from back surgery. She is a jewel of a child, always happy, but, I have been reminded that it is much easier to have and take care of children while you are young.

The car seat adventures were many:

Because taking a one year old with me is not my norm, making sure we had a proper car seat in the car of choice for the adventure we were setting out on was a daily ritual.

After finally getting the car seat into the proper car and securely strapped in it was time to strap in the child--this became a daily adventure as our Christmas weather this year fluctuated from a high that dipped to 40 then just days later soared to 70 necessitating the need of a coat or light sweater depending on the day--thus making the seat belt adjustment over the coat or non coat necessary.

One day after almost finishing this half hour ritual I noticed an aroma coming from the back seat that required a return trip inside to remove the coat, tights and diaper only to put them all back on the baby once again.

We went out for an excursion around the neighborhood one evening to view the lights while carolers loudly sang from the back of our truck. It was a fun evening that we all enjoyed very much, until it was time to remove the car seat again. My husband was at work most days while I played the car seat ballet. On this evening he attempted to help me, not understanding how the restraint system worked he attached the straps to a hinge on the back seat of the truck. When we tried to extract the seat it was an impossible task. He got out the screw drivers and removed the hinges, got out the pliers to pull and tug at the restraint, still no luck. He is a full sized man and our back seat in the truck is a mini sized area. Eventually with brute force he finally dislocated the seat from it's secure position, bending the restraint and his back as he did so.

After a clear bill of health from her doctor, our daughter and her husband came to retrieve their youngest child 2 days before Christmas. It was with a bit of sadness as we said farewell to the child and a lot of joy as we removed the car seat from our car for the last time.

I do not mind booster chairs in the back seat, they do not take up much room and make it easy for the child to see out of the window. Car seats though, are on my list of necessary evils that make the world go around. Ada, I miss you, but I must say that I do not miss our daily adventures with your back seat throne.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


From Germany to the States took almost 18 hours. Tired and worn out before needing to wade through security one last time, we marched on.

We had just finished passport control and found our way to
terminal 3. As we placed our items on the conveyor belt two men jumped in between me and my mother. Mom got through security just fine, the two men were struggling. It was my turn and my items were rolling along when TSA decided to pull me out of line and let me go through the newfangled security machine that can see EVERYTHING.

My health condition requires that I keep my stress low, eat regularly and get enough sleep--none of which were happening on this particular day.

With my arms over my head I tried to stand still as the modern wonder scanned my tooth fillings. I had my hair pinned up on top of my head with plastic clips (to minimize security stress) and the modern "see-all" did not like it. Soon a lady had her hands in my hair, poking and prodding to see what I had hidden in the rats nest she was creating. FUN, it was not.

I was visibly distressed with the poking and gouging from the lady wearing gloves that had been in how many other peoples hair while another TSA lady shouted at me that they could do a full pat down if that is what I wanted.

Now I know that two grandmas coming back from a Christmas holiday with the grandkids are truly a security risk to watch out for. I travel frequently and know how to do security, but these new machines, after a long day, while still facing still another few hours, was just a little too much.

As I look back on the experience I think the dirty gloves and pokey fingers, while being shouted at, were my undoing. I could not get home fast enough to wash my hair.

After the near tear experience at security we walked down the concourse to find our gates. As we looked down the long hall lovely Christmas decorations greeted us. Rich full garlands draped the arched ceiling. The garlands were wrapped in shining red ornaments and ribbons. All of a sudden we were reminded of the joy of the season and why we decided to travel at this time of year.

It was a great trip full of wonderful memories. After 24 hours of travel to reach my home that hot bath felt really good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Magic

Begin with 2 parents who are lacking in sleep and quiet time

Add 5 children under 10 who are excited about everything

Mix in one basset hound puppy who is almost adult size (but has no manners because she is still in training)

Toss in a Christmas tree, ornaments, toys, blankets, snowboots, gloves and scarfs

Sprinkle liberally with lots of good food to eat (most of which lands on the floor)

For good measure fold in a grandma and great grandma who are a little jet lagged

This is Christmas Magic at it's best--
Crazy and Fun