A Time Gone By...and a Life Well Lived

Meet MaMa.
Today is my grandmother's 92nd birthday. If this gives you any indication of how healthy she is... a few months ago, I walked into a room to find her holding my 33-lb son. And she wasn't sitting. This woman is strong and amazing.

When I think of the quintessential Southern homemaker, I think of MaMa. She managed to become an expert on cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, and most importantly, loving her family.
Mrs. Lois Carr Waddle
Though a stay-at-home mother for many years, she returned to work after my grandfather had a partially-paralyzing stroke. She is usually the one I call when I have a question in any of the domestic domains. I even had her come stay with me a few years ago for what I named "MaMa's Boot Camp" so that she could impart to me all her wisdom.
Even though Courtney and I grew up miles apart from our grandmother, with us being in New Jersey, and MaMa in Mobile, Alabama, I am overwhelmed with sweet memories of our time with her. She would sometimes come to stay with us for as long as two months, and the visits never seemed long enough. (Just to give you a laugh, my mom has quoted me saying the following as we watched MaMa head to the airport..., "It's so easy to say hello but so hard to say goodbye. Tears are falling down my soft cheeks." Yes, even at 3 years old, I was a drama queen.)
Me, MaMa, Mom and Courtney (circa 1983)

When my sister and I were young, MaMa would send hand-made clothes for our Barbie dolls. Yes, that's right. Tiny skirts, tops, pants, ballgowns, and fun outfits...our dolls had the best wardrobe in town. She taught us how to make Chocolate Covered Cherries, which became a holiday tradition. I remember her garden being one of the most peaceful places and yet such an exhilarating oasis to explore. And no grandchild or great-grandchild will ever forget MaMa's voice and her songs that she has sung to all of us over the decades. I tear up every time I see her rocking Carter and singing to him, as I had envisioned that scenario for years. I can't wait to see Grace enjoy her songs as well.

Last summer, I interviewed my grandmother so I could get her stories and life experiences recorded. She grew up in a different era, and her tales make me nostalgic for a more simple lifestyle and a culture long gone. I never tire of hearing about her childhood and early adult years. From lining the bottoms of her shoes with pasteboard during the Great Depression to losing her brother, Jack, in World War II, her life was not easy. But then there are the light-hearted tales such as working for the phone company as a switchboard operator and meeting my grandfather (the details to come). She loves to share that, as a boy, he enjoyed holding onto the back of a horsedrawn ice wagon so it could pull him on rollerskates through the streets of Mobile. MaMa is full of wisdom, humor, and knowledge that only years of life can nurture.

Over the next year, I hope to devote monthly posts to my grandmother to share her stories, tips, recipes, song lyrics, and talents. I always find it interesting to learn about the lives of "ordinary" people, and I know you'll love her stories and anecdotes. I hope that the posts will honor MaMa, celebrate her life, and allow her legacy to extend beyond our family.

Happy 92nd Birthday, MaMa!


Grace is the New Proud Owner of...

...this fabulous book.
After my "Wild at Heart" post last week, Scott was inspired to get out this book,
which was given to Carter by his Uncle Stuart on his 1st Christmas.

From instructions for tying knots and camping to a list of books every boy should read, this book is packed with ideas and lessons to instill a love for adventure.

An Amazon review describes the book as "a guide book for dads as well as their sons, as a reminder of lore and technique that have not yet been completely lost to the digital age. Recall the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic and the Battle of the Somme, relearn how to palm a coin, tan a skin, and, most charmingly, wrap a package in brown paper and string. The book's ambitions are both modest and winningly optimistic: you get the sense that by learning how to place a splint or write in invisible ink, a boy might be prepared for anything, even girls (which warrant a small but wise chapter of their own)."
Scott thought that Virginia Grace was just as in need of a guidebook to adventure as her brother, so he headed to the bookstore and found the companion book, The Daring Book for Girls.

The description of this book on Amazon says, "The Daring Book for Girls is the manual for everything that girls need to know—and that doesn't mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it's female heroes in history, secret note-passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it's not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers—although that's included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly-girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl's invitation to adventure.
And while I typically think my kids are naturally "wild," this picture from today suggests they may need some inspiration for adventure. :)


Wet-Your-Pants Hilarious

Y'all....I just finished reading this article in the June 2010 issue of Parents magazine. And I've been laughing so hard that I made my kids laugh just at the sight of me. You HAVE to click on the link and read it...it's by Jay Mohr, an actor and comedian, who shares a real-life potty-training story that will make you almost wet your own pants. You can appreciate the humor even if you're not yet a parent. After you read, please come back and share your thoughts so I know I'm not the only one who thinks bathroom humor (more like diaper humor) is hilarious! :)

Surgery Done and Good Report!

We're home! Virginia Grace's surgery was quick and easy. She's asleep in her bed now, sleeping off the anesthesia. (She's also moaning and crying out occasionally in her sleep...I think it was a little traumatic for her to be taken from my arms and carried off. She hasn't had anyone take her away from me since Gotcha Day.)

The tubes were put in her ears, and Dr. Woolley checked her tongue where the teratoma (benign tumor) had been removed. He confirmed that all of the tumor was indeed gone and that her tongue was well-preserved and looked great!! (He was actually surprised given that China doesn't have the best medical care.) We are so thankful, as I couldn't imagine our sweet girl having to endure another surgery right now. Thanks for praying for us! We're rejoicing in the good news!!


Language According to Carter and Grace

Who: Carter
Sounds like: Sure??? (as if he's asking a question)
Context: Ones in which "Sure" would usually be interpreted as "if you say so." :)
Example: Carter, who did you play with last week?
Alex, Tate, Cece...
And did you play with Graham?
Another example...
I did shoes ALL by myself.
You did?

This past weekend, Scott and I were organizing toys into bins so we can rotate them in and out every week. When we came back into the hall, we found both kids like this.
All squished in together but getting along amazingly.
Of course, it lasted all of 2 minutes.

"Uh-oh, uh-oh"
Who: Grace
Sounds like: a lower octave on each subsequent uh-oh
Context: Whenever she drops something. Or whenever anyone drops something. And sometimes I do it on purpose just to hear her say it.

"All my friends went bye bye."
Who: Carter
Context: On his last day of school. And the conversation went like this..
Carter, did you have a good last day of school?
Mmm hmmm
What did you do?
Read book
You read a book?
What else?
All my friends went bye bye.
Did you say all your friends went bye bye?
Well, you'll see them again. It's okay.

Who: Grace
Context: When she felt how warm the corn was at dinner. Now, she says that when I give her a warm bottle. Or when we get in the car in 90 degree weather.
Besides "hi" and "bye," this is really her first English word she's used on her own.

By the way, this sweet dress was hand-embroidered by my friend Abby and given to us as a gift. Isn't it precious??
Her little business is called The Flossy Finch, and you can order something yourself at www.abbymaddox.etsy.com
"Come with me!"
Who: Carter
Sounds like: Come WITH me. (Emphasis always on "with.")
Context: Someone is taking Jackson out and Carter wants to go too. Instead of saying "come with you," he says "come with me." I just love how he puts the emphasis on with.
Hanging out with Daddy
"Ahh! Goi guh hek ty na na poosh!!! HAA!!!"
Who: Grace
Sounds like: what it looks like
Context: When Jackson jumps up and takes Grace's cracker.

Who: Carter and Grace
Sounds like: heaven
Context: When both kids are asleep. Or... simultaneously pooping. And yes, this happened yesterday.


I Can't Get Enough

...of this sweet face
..or her dimple
...or her contagious smile
... or her look of determination
...or her beautiful "empress' eyes

...or her teeny legs and arms that are steadily gaining some chunk.

Sometimes I just stare at Virginia Grace, amazed at her beauty. Awed by her courage. Aware of her resiliency. And humbled that God chose me to be her mommy.

Happy 18 months, Princess!


A Little Sentimental

I'm crying. Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of longing. Why? Because today was Carter's last day of the 2009-10 school year at MBBC Mother's Day Out.

I took these pictures of him this morning, and then I just looked up the pictures I'd taken on his first day back in August.
That's when the tears came. My baby is growing up.


Summer Begins

It definitely seemed like the start of summer on Tuesday when we spent a few hours with my cousin Ashley and her four kids (Alex, Tate, Graham, and Cece). From trucks, treehouses, and trampolines to wagons, swings, bubbles, and ice pops...it was a classic summer afternoon. Carter and Grace LOVE their cousins, and vice versa. Alex and Tate even begged to get out of school early that day so they could join in on the fun. They are SO good with the younger ones. Grace took to them all pretty quickly and even ventured onto the trampoline once she had watched the others for awhile. All of them play so well together, and we look forward to many more sunny playdates!