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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gramma Gets in Trouble

So, Kahlen and I are home on our own last night, like most Monday nights. We are having a good time playing and "talking." I get hungry for some pudding. I go to the fridge and get a chocolate snack pack. Kahlen comes up and looks so cute and I tell her to say "please." I must have turned my head just so and smiled when I said that because that is what Kahlen did. It was so cute. So I gave her a small little bite of my pudding. I take another bite, and decide to see if she will do it again. I tell her to say please and she tilts her head ever so slightly and flashes this big phony grin. It made me laugh, and I gave her another bite. She started giggling with a big chocolate smile. Well, before I knew it we had finished off two pudding packs.

Got her to bed about eight thirty, which is a little early for her and thought she was down for the night. Yeah, not so much. She was asleep for about 3 hours. Eleven thirty came along and she was up and crying. That lasted until about six this morning. Alyssa was not a happy camper. Not that anyone else in the house got any sleep either. You see if Alyssa can't sleep, no one gets to sleep. I guess it was part my fault. I would have gotten up and taken Kahlen for Alyssa, but I had to be at work at seven thirty, she didn't have to work until five pm. I think she got a nap in though. So, hopefully tonight will be better. We all need sleep.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

So Much Going On

Kahlens birthday was a huge success. It was at her Grammy's house in Grimes. Lots of people were there, including to my very pleasant surprise, my dad! He doesn't get out and do much these days, so when I saw him in the car with my sister I was very happy!!!! He sat in the sun and seemed to enjoy himself greatly.

Kahlen definitely enjoyed her first birthday. She got the hang of opening presents real quick, and figured out they were HERS even quicker. Daddy would go to put something aside to open something else and she would grab it back with that stubborn toddler "mine!" look. She ate her cake in a less then lady like fashion. She decided that the frosting felt funny on her fingers. She kept trying to pick up her cake but that gooey stuff on top was just nasty and gross and she didn't want it on her pretty little fingers. Instead she dive bombs her face into the cake and eats it like dog! Sticky and gooey is just fine on the face!

After her party we all met up with Dawn and her family at the Iowa State Fair. It was Kahlen's first trip to the fair. I know she enjoyed it. She waved at people, she "talked" to people, she giggled. It had cooled down by the time we got there, so it was a lot of fun for all. SHe got to see the horses and piggies, some bunnies and turkeys. It completely wore her out til she passed out in the stroller. It was so much fun seeing her experience it.

About two weeks before her birthday Kahlen started walking, and she hasn't stopped since! Before she started walking on her own she would walk holding on to my finger back and forth around the house. She could do this for hours! So, needless to say, it is a relief for me that she is doing it on her own now. She does still enjoy walking with me, too. For that I am very happy! When we do walk I need to hold her left hand though. Her right hand is her business hand, she needs that to pick stuff up and put it in her mouth after all.

She is saying many words. Mama, Dada, and to my extreme pleasure, Gramma! She puts a few together, "I done", "I did it," things like that. You have to listen closely ofcourse but the words are coming very quickly now. When she does start talking she will not be stopping, much like the walking. She babbles on and on, saying very important things that us big people just don't understand!

I can not believe that she is one year old! How has this year gone so fast. I'm just glad that I was here to help with the party and see her first steps. I still dread the day that I will have to leave her and move to Illinois. It makes me so sad to think of the things I will miss out on. We are not having any luck selling the house. That scares me, we can't afford to support two households. I miss Willie so bad! I am so torn inside. But I will enjoy the time I still have with her, and take her to see Grandpa when ever I can. Life has its ways of working out. Just have to have faith that God will make everything right.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Unexpected Life Changes

Well it has been a long time since I was last on here. Over Memorial day weekend we painted Kahlen's room. It turned out nice. It is apple green and lilac. It goes well with her bedding and is just a nice bright happy room. It looks like Kahlen. Alyssa and I painted it together. Had some nice mother daughter time together. We were both pretty darn proud of ourselves.

About a week later, we found out we won't be living here much longer. That is why I haven't written anything lately. I've been devastated. Willie has been transferred back to Danville, Illinois. He is already there and I miss him terribly. I'm staying behind to sell the house. A house that we have both put so much work into to make it feel like home. A house that Kahlen has spent her first year in. A house I thought we might get to grow old in. I know that it isn't like we are losing our house like so many others these days, but I had just come to believe we were going to get to stay here.

The hardest part is that we are going to be leaving our children and our little grand baby behind. Our children are all grown, and have lives here. They have no desire to go back to Danville, and I don't blame them. I will miss them dearly. It is ripping my heart out to think about leaving Kahlen behind. I love that little girl so much. I can't even think about not seeing her everyday. People at work have learned not to ask me about it cause it just makes me cry. As long as I don't talk about it it is ok. At night though, when I go to bed, no Willie beside me, I cry. I can't sleep.

One bright spot was this past weekend. Kahlen and I went to visit Willie in Danville. It was a challenging drive there. We left here about 4 pm after I got off work. I drove about two and a half hours to the I 80 truck stop just outside Davenport. Time to feed Kahlen and myself. There was some big festival going on at the truck stop, traffic was insane. I decided to go back across the interstate and ended up at a McDonald's.

Went to get Kahlen out of her car seat. She was dressed in a cute Iowa State outfit I bought her as a joke for her to wear to see Grandpa. He is a University of Iowa fan, but Valerie goes to ISU so we need to support both. The out fit was deep red with gold trim around the collar and ruffles on the tushi. I pick her up and she is soaked to the bone. Her outfit is soaked, her car seat is soaked. Yeah, the joke was on me. Went in changed her, fed her, fed me and back on the road.

Next stop, a little town just west of Peoria Illinois. Stopped at a convenience store where, I swear, there was a clerk there that looked and sounded exactly like Harold on the Red Green show. I kid you not! He was very nice and very polite, but Harold from head to toe.

Here is the challenge when traveling alone with an 11 month old. Bathroom breaks. Let's leave it at this, if you have to travel alone with an 11 month old keep a stroller handy! No matter where you stop to use the restroom put the baby in the stroller. Your life will be much easier. My life was not easy, The stroller was packed in the back in a way that I could not get it out. That's all I have to say about that.

It amazes me that in this day and age that there are still convenience stores and fast food places that do not have baby changing stations. This was another challenge. Poor Kahlen had to be changed in the car more than once. She didn't seem to mind, she is a little afraid of the baby changing tables anyway.

By this time Kahlen was very tired of being in the car seat. Just east of Peoria she started crying and wouldn't stop. I tried singing to her, no luck. I tried every song I could think of, still no luck. An hour later, desperate and thinking to myself "i will never do this again" I just started making various loud and strange noises. There was quiet in the back seat! So I kept making noises, guttural noises, squeaky noises, clacky noises, any noise my throat could make. If it had been light out and people could see me they'd have thought I was having some kind of spasms. A half an hour later, she was still quiet so I stopped the noises... Screams started again from the back seat. "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale a tale of a fateful trip..." I sang the ballad of Gilligan's Island over and over again for the next half hour. I got brave, stopped singing, and.... Quiet! She had gone to sleep. Next stop Danville. A six hour drive took seven hours.

Kahlen and Grandpa together again. They were both so excited. It was wonderful. Made the whole trip worth it. They played and giggled and chased each other until Kahlen just couldn't stay awake any more. Yeah, if Shane and Alyssa say it's ok, I'll bring her out again.

The next day we had breakfast with Grandpa, they played more until Willie had to go to work. We went with him and he got to be the proud grandpa showing her off to everyone. Then Kahlen and I went to the "mall" and walked around. She slept most of the time but I found some birthday presents for her. We wandered around looking for Wi Fi. Then stopped to feed her. We sat in an empty food court (yes this was Saturday afternoon) Kahlen ate her lunch and then went back to the apartment to change her diaper. A little while later we went and had lunch with Willie at Monicals Pizza, and fed Kahlen bread sticks. After we were done we drove around Danville looking at houses. That is the one thing good about moving there, houses are very affordable.

mmmmmm lemonade
We took Willie back to work and Kahlen and I went to the Vermilion County Fair. Apparently, they just don't take their fairs as seriously as we do here. There were food stands and 7 sheep. That's it. Again a Saturday afternoon. The rides weren't running. They didn't start running until five. I had to buy a lemonade just to justify to myself spending 2 dollars to get in. Makes me glad I'll be here to go to the Iowa State Fair.

Went to Penn Station for supper. Kahlen is wet, no baby changing station. decided to get my food to go so I could change her back at the apartment. While waiting for my sandwich Kahlen peed all over me and all over the floor. Desperate, I changed her in a booth. She couldn't wait til we got back to the apartment.

The drive home on Sunday was much better. We left about 11:30 am. We drove about an hour and stopped at a rest stop to feed Kahlen lunch. The stroller was a God send. Kahlen chased down a daddy long legs. Then back on the road. couple of hours later, stopped at a McDonald's, again, no baby changing station. But they had WiFi, priorities. Changed Kahlen in the car again.

Chasing daddy long legs
Next stop was at the I 80 truck stop again. The sky was looking dark and ominous, wanted to stop and check the weather. This time we got inside, the festival was over. We changed her diaper again and got an Orange Julius to share. Checked the weather, looked like it was just rain, no big storms. Walked around a little bit, found a couple of more birthday presents.

Back on the road. Drove about another hour, and stopped to feed Kahlen supper, why I didn't just feed her at the truck stop I don't know. I'm glad I didn't though. By this time the sun was shining again. We found a nice rest stop and dined outside. Kahlen enjoyed being out of the car and after a well timed poo, we both pushed the stroller back up the hill to the rest rooms.

Next stop, HOME. A six hour drive turned into a nine hour drive, but well worth the extra time. No crying no screaming and even a nice game of peek a boo in the rear view mirror. Mommy, Daddy and Baby together again. Happy mommy, happy daddy, happy baby. Tired grandma.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


As you may have read in an earlier blog, my friend Dawn is working hard to build a Children's Living History farm in the St. Louis area. She has a grant proposal in the Pepsi refresh everything project that needs your votes! Why am I so excited about this? It is good for kids, it is good for farmers, which in turn makes it good for Iowa too. Yes, the farm is in the St. Louis area, but teaching people about agriculture anywhere is good for farmers. We all know that what is good for farmers is good for Iowa. Farming is the core of our economy. When farms have a hard time, Iowa has a hard time. When farms prosper, Iowa prospers. Teaching children that their food is a product of hard work and devotion of farm families everywhere can only be good for Iowa and ALL Iowans. If you sell groceries in Iowa thank a farmer for growing them and then thank him again when he comes and buys them from you. If you run a restaurant in in Iowa, thank a farmer for growing the food and then thank him again for coming to eat the at your place of business. Do you wear or sell clothes? Do you work at a tire store, a video store, a book store? Well, if a farmer is prospering, he's going to come visit you, too. It is the same everywhere, not just Iowa. Wall street may think they are the kings of the economy, but without the farmer they would have nothing to buy and trade.

Children everywhere need to understand how important farming is to our country. We understand that in Iowa, but even we don't stop to think about it much. We take it for granted that the food will be in the grocery store when we want it. We know that the white cotton undies, that are so comfy, but that we will never admit to wearing, will be at Target when we want to buy them. Let's help children, who may only drive past a farm once in a blue moon, get the chance to play on a farm. While playing they will learn more about their food. Maybe if they plant some veggies they will eat some veggies.

I am so glad that I will get to take Kahlen to our Living History Farms. That's why I'd love to see children in Missouri have the same experience!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Full Moon

So, the crazies have been out and about. People never believe me when I say that the full moon brings out the crazies. They laugh under their breath and think I am the one who might be a little crazy. I find that the older I get the more I really believe things like full moons bring out the strangeness in people, or if you say the wrong thing that it will jinx you. For instance, when it is slow at work, you do not say it out loud. The second some one says the word "slow" you get slammed. It happens every single time. Some would say it is only a self fulfilling prophecy. That you think it is going to happen, so then you perceive that it has. That just doesn't wash with me. When someone at work uses the dreaded "s" word and then we get slammed, (also a dreaded "s" word) I'm not "perceiving" it, I am living it. My superstition doesn't bring all those people in to the store, but every time some one says the word "slow" they come.

This all leads me to believe unequivocally that I am correct about the effects of the full moon on how people behave. I have had many different kinds of jobs, and in all of them, when there is a full moon, I have suffered! (New moons also have an effect, not quite as pronounced, but the effect is still there.) The last few days at work have been awful. People have been rude, they have been obnoxious and demanding. Wednesday was particularly stressful. We had one woman come thru our drive thru, who first of all would not speak up. It is very hard to hear at our drive thru in normal circumstances. Cars are loud, people don't turn off their radios, random street noises echo into our ears. I asked this woman to please speak up. She huffed at me, spoke up for about two words, and then went on and on in a hushed tone that I could not hear again. I apologized and again asked her to speak up. She got mad, yelled at me for a couple of words and then went on and on again in a hushed tone. She seemed truly desperate to tell me something, but I could not hear her. The more I apologized and asked her to speak up the madder she got. I finally gave up trying to hear her. Apologized again and told her I would get a pharmacist. This also made her angry. One of the pharmacists came and tried to talk to her. She did the same thing to him. Turns out that what she wanted was for us to get her a free gator aid. She was hot and sweaty and could not afford to buy one for herself. She ended up yelling and screaming at the pharmacist. He told her if she was that worried she should go see her doctor and walked away.

She was just one example of the joyful people we had to deal with that day. At one point I heard one of the pharmacists asking if there was a full moon. It got me wondering as well. I asked another pharmacist later, after another incident, if she knew if there was a full moon. She didn't know either. I got home that night, finally, completely exhausted. Went up stairs. Crawled into bed and rolled over to cuddle with Willie. There it was, shining as bright as can be. One great big full moon. Yeah, I know what I'm talking about.

Children and crazy people seem to be the most effected by the full moon. Children get unsettled and restless. Ask any school bus driver. They don't need a calander to tell you when there is a full moon. They just know. The younger the child the more restless they are. New parents and their babies have it rough during a full moon. Kahlen and her mom and dad have had a couple of rough nights this week. Is it because of the full moon? Maybe not, but I think it is. Laugh all you want, but the next time your child is particularly difficult, or you have an unusual number of people being rude to you at work, check out the moon that night. Do it often enough, and you too, will believe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

Kahlen started crawling on Thursday! It isn't quite the normal crawl. It is half way between a normal crawl and the "Mowgli crawl." You remember Mowgli, from the Jungle Book. If you think a minute about the Disney version, Mowgli got around by "walking" on his hands and feet. Well, Kahlen crawls with one leg straight and one leg bent. It is so unique and so cute. Luckily, it also slows her down a bit, for now anyway. I'm sure that at some point soon she will either bend the one leg or straighten the other and the race will be on!

She also started pulling her self to a stand the same day. She was very proud of this accomplishment. She also figured out that she can cruise around a little bit. She was quite busy that day. It was very exhausting for her. She is growing so fast. Everyday she learns something new. You can see the little wheels turn in her mind as she discovers a new flower or practices a new sound. She is starting to make connections. Seeing how one thing relates to another.

She has learned that when someone puts her hat on her that she gets to go outside or bye bye. Her eyes brighten up and she smiles. She doesn't even try to pull it off any more. She loves being outside, and loves going bye bye, She has put that connection together.

We had a busy day today. We had lunch with Grandpa. Then visited Great Grandpa Bob and saw Uncle Ben, too. Then off to the store where she got to see Mama for a few minutes. We planted flowers and herbs in the back yard. She enjoys being busy.

It amazes me everyday just how much better this little tiny girl makes my life. Not to say she isn't a challenge at times. She was very whiny and inconsolable tonight. I think I may have gotten her a little over tired. I just wouldn't trade a minute of it though. Not even the screaming. She is healthy and happy, who could ask for more.

I had a friend ask me the other day if you have that instant bond with a grandchild like you do when you have your own children. I told her yes, most definitely. I was thinking about it some more today. I think as a grandmother, instead of a mother, it came even a little more quickly, or maybe just more easily. As Gramma, you don't have all the physical and emotional strain that comes with having a baby. No hormones raging through your system. No fear of the future that just changed drastically. No doubts, no worries. A Gramma just gets to enjoy the moment. Soak it in. We get to swim in it without the fear of drowning. Being Gramma, is plain old good!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nine Months Old!!!

Kahlen turned nine months old yesterday! She has been alive outside the womb as long as she was inside the womb. It is so hard to believe. She celebrated yesterday by starting to clap. We have been trying for a little while to get her to clap, and yesterday she did it on her own for the first time. She is not crawling yet, but is very busy rolling and scooting herself to get from one place to the next. She is "talking" in baby gibber jabber constantly, using facial expressions that just make you laugh. The things she is saying seem to be very important to her and us big people just don't seem to be smart enough to understand.

Ah, the sign of things to come.... "Mom, you just don't understand!" Grandpa is waiting, just a little impatiently, I believe, for the day a teen aged Kahlen lays that one on her mom. Ah, sweet revenge! You can just taste it, can't you. Mmmmmm so sweet, but best served cold. I met a man at a home show once who said " becoming a grandparent is the reward you get for not killing your children." I would personally insert the word teenagers in place of the word children. Really, as frustrating as the "terrible twos" seem it is nothing compared to the "you just don't understand" teen years. Of course the "eye roll" preteen years have their challenges, as well. You know what I'm talking about. The eleven year old who sighs and rolls her eyes every time you try to talk to her. Followed closely by the "duck and run" twelve year old who won't let you drop him off at school for fear his friends might see you. He would rather walk in the rain for 2 blocks then face the embarrassment of being seen with, do I dare say it, a parent. Oh, the humanity!!!

My kids didn't have a chance to do the "duck and run." Whether I embarrassed them or not was mute. I drove a school bus at their school. All of their friends knew who I was whether they liked it or not. While most of the time I tried not to humiliate them with my presence too often, I did enjoy pursuing the occasional red face at the expense of my kids. I look at it this way, after enduring the temper tantrums in public places. After sleepless the nights due to the loud, obnoxious slumber parties, allowed year after year. After the arm pit farts that interrupted a quiet evening at home. I deserved to see an occasional glare of "oh, Mother!" It just put a smile on my face. At least then the "eye roll" was a little easier to tolerate.

Yes, being a gramma is much more fun them being a parent. Partly because you can play all you want with your grandchild all day, but the sleepless night, that belongs to the parent. But also partly because of the secret joy we have in the anticipation of the eye roll that will be directed at your own eye roll queen. The armpit fart that will come quickly and unexpectedly at the dinner table. But especially, the "you just don't understand" that already seems to be on the lips, and will be directed at your child instead of at you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Alyssa

Congratulations for making it to your first Mother's Day with your sanity intact. For not having pulled all of your hair out. Congratulations on waking up thirty three times a night and resisting the temptation to become an ax murderer. For still being able to smile when all you really want to do is sleep for the next ten years. Congratulations on the 90,000 diapers you have already changed, and the 400 gallons of puke you have cleaned off of yourself.

Congratulations on the beautiful little girl you are raising. She is happy, healthy and growing like a weed. She lights up a room even when she is screaming at the top of her lungs. She is amazing. Her diapers are stinky, and she gets a little sticky at times but that is all a part of her charm. I can't wait to see who she grows up to be!

You have grown, you have changed and you have turned into a beautiful young woman! I am impressed with how well you have adapted to the stress and challenges that come with being a mommy. I think you are handling it better then I ever did. Dad and I are so proud of you. We love you very much!


photo by Katharyne Dunn photography

Growth Spurts

When my kids were babies, I was pretty much a stay at home mom. I was with them every day. Watched them do most every thing. The one thing I don't remember, is the growth spurts. I mean I remember them growing. What I don't remember is putting them to bed one night and then the next morning them looking noticeably bigger. I knew when the growth spurts were. They never slept very well and they were extra hungry. I knew their clothes were getting smaller. But I don't remember waking them up and "seeing" the growth.

Kahlen is going through a growth spurt. It is amazing, because every morning the last few mornings she has LOOKED bigger. Her arms are longer, her legs are longer. She is taller. It is physically noticeable. Yesterday, she was particularly fussy. Nothing made her happy. She didn't nap well and I was about at my wits end. I decided to put her in her car seat and we went for a nice long drive. She slept the whole time. We got back home and I went to get her out of her car seat. I swear she was bigger then when I put her in. It is absolutely amazing. Poor Alyssa hasn't had a decent nights sleep all week.

Is it because I am a gramma that I see it in Kahlen when I didn't in my own kids? Is it because new parents feel so overwhelmed that we just don't have the time to see it? I see Kahlen everyday, just like I did Valerie, Josh and Alyssa. I have thought before that I didn't "see" the spurts because when you see someone everyday you don't really notice changes. Like when a person is losing weight. When you see them everyday, it doesn't really click. You go with out seeing the same person for a month, you take note.

I see it in Kahlen though, it is hard not to. Maybe her growth spurts are just more pronounced then what my kids went through. I only know I am just in awe. It is no wonder she is cranky and hungry. I'm so thankful she is a healthy happy baby, that gets to be cranky because she is growing.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I have a friend at work, Reanna, who is having difficulty conceiving. Her plan when she got married was to have had a child by now. Life has changed that plan. This is a woman who is going to be a wonderful mother, and her husband will be a wonderful father. But life and circumstances keep throwing her curve balls. I don't even pretend to know what she is going through. I know that she is heart broken with every negative pregnancy test. I don't have any idea how to console her except to say that God has a special plan for her. We just aren't on His level so we can't see it yet. I truly believe this. I quite often believe very strongly in my heart that there is a little girl out there already that desperately needs Reanna. I don't know why I say girl, it is just what I feel in my heart. I don't know that she is ready to hear it yet though. I pray for her everyday that she will become pregnant, I know that is what she wants. It has always been her plan.

Plans have a strange way of letting us down. We make them, we work for them, we count on them. Then one day, we look up and our plans have become out of reach. They seem to be getting farther and farther away. Like watching a train speed away down a track. We can see the way to get to the train, all we have to do is follow the track. But it is so fast, and we can't keep up. No matter how fast we run, the train gets away.

Funny thing is, we keep looking at the train that has disappeared, we grieve for it and forget that there will be another train coming down the track soon. It will be a different train. It will not have the accommodations we thought we wanted. It may switch tracks and take us a different direction then we had thought we wanted to go. It may change our destination, but the new destination might just be better. It may look much different, but doesn't that mean it has new opportunities? New choices, new hope? Is that what faith is really about? Learning to get on the train that God wants us on, instead of the train we thought we needed to be on?

When I had children, I imagined each of them going off to college, becoming professionals in some field and living happily ever after. My oldest, Valerie, is in college, working very hard to become just that. She has had many twists and turns but has determinedly stayed on her path. She waited for the next train, impatiently and regretfully at times. But her new train seems to be taking her to her original destination. If it switches tracks along the way it is going to be because she wanted it to.

Josh, my son, has not taken the train I thought he would. He seems to be off the train all together, getting to where he wants to go on his own and at his own speed. The way he has always been. He has never been one to be in a hurry to get any where. Not in a bad, lazy way, but in a "I'm not worried, and I'm not in a hurry" way. He seems to have the secret of enjoying life as it comes. It can annoy the crap out of people that might want to make plans that involve him. Which in turn can annoy the crap out of him. But, I think, if we admitted it, we all wish we could be more like that. I know he has plans, but he has his own way of getting there. He doesn't need one of our trains.

Sixteen months ago, my teenage daughter told me she was pregnant. Not the best day of my life. Not what I wanted for her. Not the train I had bought a ticket for when she was born. Not the plan I had for her.

Now, I can't imagine life without Kahlen. Alyssa has grown up so much. I don't know that she would have become the mature woman she is now if she hadn't had Kahlen. She still has her teen moments, but without Kahlen, I don't think she would be who she is today. She will be twenty in September. She has regrets about her lost youth, her plans have changed. She wouldn't give up a day with Kahlen though. I worry about her lost youth now and then, too. Then I think of who she is today, compared to eighteen months ago. God has a new train coming for her. He's busy teaching her patience in the mean time.

Did I ever in a million years think my life would be what it is today when I was 18, or 25 or even 2 years ago. No, I was going to be chief photographer at Time magazine back then. That train never even came down my track. I was never even at the right station for that one. The station I was at had this wonderful little train. I got on, not willingly at first and with much trepidation. It has been the ride of my life. It started out with just one little plain car. Together Willie and I have put it together to become this long, multi car train. It has hit a lot of bumps and derailed once or twice. Together though we have gotten it back on track. I can only hope for as much for my children and my friend Reanna as they lay their tracks for their trains.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stupid van

Alyssa, Kahlen and I all went to have lunch with Grandpa this afternoon. When we got to his work, Alyssa said she should probably jump into the back seat so that Grandpa could have the front seat. I told her, nah, don't worry about it, he will want to sit back with Kahlen anyway. The reason I know this, is one time Grandpa and I had Kahlen out and about. We stopped at Casey's and I ran in to grab something to drink. When I came back out, there he was, in the back seat with her, grinning his proudest grandpa grin. "She said she wanted me to sit with her."

Anyway, he comes out to the car and heads straight to the back seat. Kahlen, who had magically awoken, started giggling as Grandpa started playing with her.

We drove down the street to the restaurant and Grandpa proudly pulls her out of her carseat and walks in, beaming all the way. He goes to this restaurant very often for lunch so they know him there. Everyone, gushes appropriately and he puffs up even more with pride. I love taking Kahlen to go see him at work. It always brightens his day. He takes her around to show her to everyone. He is so in love with his little granddaughter and he just glows when he gets to show her off. I think it helps to see that little two tooth grin on a stressful day at work.

As we are driving back from dropping Grandpa off at work (and a little side trip to Babies r Us, my narcotic), Alyssa and I hear this thump thump thump thump from the front of the van. The stupid belt fell apart and flew off the van. Now, this van has had many, many issues with belts. When it rains too hard, it falls off. When I go through a deep puddle, it falls off. One time I was washing the car and went into a panic when I watched all the water running down my windshield, and into the motor. I almost rammed my way out of the car wash. I hadn't stopped to think before hand that it might make the belt fall off. I just knew I had a dirty car. Well, luckily that time, all was well. This time though, not so much. When the piece of crap comes off, the power steering goes out, I have to turn everything off so the battery won't run down before I get home, I hate this van. I used to be pretty strong and driving without power steering was no big deal. Now, well.... it really angers me.

We got home ok. We were close enough that the battery lasted. However, now I had to call Grandpa and tell him. He has been under so much stress, this was the last thing I wanted to do. I really did not want to add to his stress level. But, I have to have my van for work so, I made the call. I dialed his cell phone, got voice mail. Considered for about a second just leaving a message, at least I wouldn't have to hear the cussing. Thought better though, and called his work number. Got him on the line, took a deep breath, begged him not to be mad, and told him. It went much better then expected. No cussing, he was glad that we got home fine.

Apparently, the Kahlen tonic works even better than I had ever imagined!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Important Things

I have lived most of my life trying to be a good person. Trying to do the right thing as much as possible. Trying to get through each day with integrity and honesty. Mostly I think I have succeeded. Not perfectly, unfortunately, but I have always tried. But what I haven't done is been a part of something that is bigger than my own little world. I have worked hard, raised my family to the best of my ability. I have never really gone out of my way to do something for the greater good, though.

An opportunity has arisen for me to help, if even in a small way in a project that is one of those bigger than me things. My friend Dawn, is trying to start a Children's Living History Farm in St. Louis, Mo. We are both grammas now and she wants to do something to better her community. She has a plan and possibility of a land donation. Funds are what she is missing out on right now. She has submitted a proposal to the Pepsi Refresh project. What she needs right now are VOTES.

The idea behind the project is to give children a hands on experience with farming through the last 200 years. She is modeling it after our Living History Farms here in Iowa. But she wants to put it in an urban area, St Louis, because many children who live in cities do not understand the hard work put into growing the food they eat every day. Many believe that hamburger magically generates in the back of fast food restaurants. Vegetables come in cans. Many play Farmville on Facebook but have never seen an actual cornfield. She wants to get kids off of Facebook and out on a real working farm if even only for a day.

We have that here. Do you remember the last time you went to Living History Farms? Was It as a child? Do you remember having fun planting potatoes? Or maybe it was the tractor ride? Was it as an adult, getting to take your child there? Maybe chaperoning a class field trip? Point is you had that opportunity. Dawn wants to do the same thing for the children of St. Louis. It may be even more important there then here. We grew up, even around Des Moines, seeing corn crops and cows. We know how hard the family farmer works and how he is the mainstay of the American economy and even the American experience. Without the family farmer our country would not be what it is today. Children growing up in an apartment in a large city may never know this without a learning experience such as this.

Here's what you can do to help. Please vote for my friend Dawn's Project. go to this link and see what it's about.

It will take about 2 to 3 minutes of your time. Vote every day. Today she is ranked around 250 out of 1344. She needs to be number one or two to receive this grant. Please help. It will bring fun and laughter to children's faces. It will teach them new things and let them play in the dirt. It will teach them important stuff. It will get them out of the house and away from the video games. Maybe planting a few veggies will help them to eat a few veggies.

Childhood obesity is epidemic. Type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) is being diagnosed in 10 year olds. We need to teach our children and grandchildren to get outside and to eat better foods. What better way then letting them play on a farm all day.

Fun and learning, now there is a supersized combo we can all live with.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Anyone ever wonder when and why burps became bad manners. I know this is a cultural thing, but still why? We spend a good portion of a baby's first year trying, near praying for a baby to give us a good burp. We encourage it, we practically demand it. We say it is for the baby's good, but really it is in our own interest, we want peace and quiet, or to sleep or whatever.

Burps are good things, really. They are a natural function of the body. They relieve pressure in the stomach. They make us more comfortable. Let's face it, if that same air pressure doesn't come out in a burp..... It's going to come out in its less pleasant form later. The form that makes EVERYONE less comfortable. So... the question of the day..... Why are burps bad manners? Who decided this? Why is it that our society wants us to be uncomfortable with air pressure in our stomach? We certainly don't prefer the alternative, but yet seem to make darn sure the alternative is going to happen. Which, of course is also bad manners. (much smellier bad manners at that.)

We encourage our baby's to burp and then one day, "say excuse me" comes out of our mouths. Or, "that was rude, " or some other admonishment for a perfectly normal response to the ingestion of food particles necessary for normal growth and maintenance of the human body.

Why do we send mixed messages to our children. If helping a baby to burp, so she doesn't have uncomfortable pressure in her stomach is so important at age 6 weeks, why is it so necessary for the same child to keep that same pressure in at 3 years in the name of good manners? Why should a 3 year old, or a 10 year old or a 35 year old be in pain from holding a burp in. Why is that proper?

Don't get me wrong, I believe in good manners. I believe in saying excuse me when you need to slide past the person who is taking up the whole isle at the super market. Just because they don't have the good manners to move a little to the side to let others through, doesn't mean I have to be rude when going around them. I believe, when it comes to children, manners should be taught and taught early. Saying, please, thank you, excuse me, and not running rampant in a restaurant, all very important things. Taking time to stop and not make another person's day unpleasant by one's own actions need to be taught.

Burping though? Why?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Who Runs the House

This was a tough week. Nothing major or anything. Alyssa and I were sick. Monday, I went to work, noticed my hands were stiff and sore and not doing what I wanted them to do. This was just the beginning of several days of the worst virus I've had in seven years. As the day went on the pain spread throughout my body. And the chills, I was so cold I thought it was winter again. By the time I got back from lunch (didn't eat) I couldn't stand up for more than five to ten minutes. At that point my boss told me to go home, Bless her soul. Went to the doctor, just a virus, nothing to do but get through it. Got home, found out that the grand baby was sick too, she'd been throwing up. Mom and Dad took her to the ER. Basically the same thing, a virus.

So, I went up stairs, put on my warmest sweatpants and sweatshirt. Crawled under two warm quilts. Still freezing to death. Waited to DIE!!!! I couldn't even get out of bed without help.

The next day, still waiting to die. Kahlen, luckily was much better and back to her normal self.

Wednesday, Gramma, better but not good, not good at all. Still weak, and still not able to eat anything. Mom, now also sick and waiting to die! Dad and Grandpa were both at work. Kahlen, %100 better, ready to play with only Mommy and Gramma there to entertain her. Luckily she was a very good girl all day, and almost seemed to understand our limitations. Until bedtime, she wanted Mommy. Mommy was so weak she couldn't sit up, much less hold a squirmy eight month old. Gramma was NOT a reasonable facsimile! If Mommy is not there Gramma is fine. When Mommy is there.... absolutely not! We got through it though. I got her to sleep, some how. Then Mommy and I continued waiting to die.

Everyone is mostly better now. No one died. We couldn't get off that easy. But it did remind us who really runs the house when there is a baby living there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Always in a Hurry?

Have you ever noticed how we are always in a hurry. In a hurry to get the kids ready for school. In a hurry to get to work. In a hurry to get done with work so we can get home to our families. Then when we get there, we are in a hurry to get supper on the table, get the homework done, get the kids bathed and off to bed. We rush through the time when our kids are growing up to the point where we wake up one day and they are all grown. Is it a cultural thing? Is our country always in such a hurry that we don't know how to relax and enjoy the time we have with our families? In this game show that is life, why do we speed round our children's childhoods?

Is that why being a grandparent is so much more fun? We don't have to rush from here to there. Soccer practice is the parents responsibility. Baseball games and softball games are no longer an obligation but now a joy. I mean I loved going to my children's activities, but there were always so many of them. Let's face it you can't be in Adair, Des Moines, and Van Meter all in one night. As a parent when you have to choose to be in one place when two of your other children are off in another, you feel like you are short changing someone. It is hard to completely enjoy one thing when you feel guilty about not being at another. I'm sure one day I will still have to choose between things again, but as a grandparent I can rotate evenly. Not have to pick one over the other based on transportation issues.

I really enjoy getting to slow down and go at Kahlen's pace. I can sit and roll a ball back and forth with her for as long as she thinks it is fun with out worrying about what else I should be doing. We can go out into the back yard and smell the flowers and the herbs growing in the garden, just because we want to. Grandpa can sit out by the pond with her and feed the fish til the sun goes down. It just seems so much calmer. Maybe that will change as she grows and gets into soccer and softball and whatever else. I think (or at least hope) it will be different. The day to day rush, rush will be Alyssa and Shane's responsibility. Gramma and Grandpa, we can sit back, relax and enjoy each moment. (and maybe giggle a little to each other as we watch the next generation raise their children.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A day out with Kahlen

Kahlen and Great Grandpa Bob
Had wonderful day with Kahlen today. I love Thursdays they are my day to have her. We went and visited Great Grandpa Bob today. Kahlen really enjoys seeing him. She sits on his lap and stares up at him smiling and cooing. She also got to see Uncle Ben, she smiled at him, too, but not like she did Great Grandpa Bob.

I think Kahlen likes little old men. We went to Cracker Barrel today, not to eat, but to look at baby clothes. Their was a little 91 year old man there. He told us the story of how he was 9 years old when Bonnie and Clyde came through Dexter, Iowa. He saw one of the gang members, Buck, I think he said his name was, die on the street in front of him. His mother served the gang, including Bonnie and Clyde themselves four plate specials right before their infamous date with destiny. He was 9 years old when it happened and told the story like it was yesterday. Kahlen watched and listened to him as interested as I was. Like she knew every word he was saying. When he was done, She reached over to him, as I held her, and gave him a big hug. I think it it made his day.

You know at first when he started talking to me, I thought to myself "I really don't have time for this." I looked around to see if he was with anyone hoping for a rescue. Then I stopped to think of my dad. He loves to tell his stories, too. Then, I realized, you know, I really do have time for this and started to listen. I am so glad I did. He told the story so well, and to think, I met someone who actually was there when Bonnie and Clyde were in Dexter, Iowa. When is that ever going to happen again.

So, it seems that Kahlen can now propel herself around the room. No, she is not crawling, but I sat her down about 3 feet to the right of me to play with toys while I wrote this. Now she is at my feet playing with my shoe strings. It seems she has figured out how to scoot herself around while still in an upright sitting position. How cute is that? (I get to say that, I'm Gramma.)

Well, we have a little more day left, and a couple of more things to tend to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13, 2010

Beautiful day outside. Finally, feels like spring is here to stay. After the long snowy winter seems like everyone is feeling better and less stressed.

I wish I could say the same for my husband. He has been having troubles at work. He works for a big box home improvement store. He has always loved his job and this time of year is always a challenge, but this year even more. He is thinking about taking a step back from his responsibilities to be able to enjoy his new granddaughter more. It has been a long hard choice for him, but he had to make his final decision by today. I'm not sure what he decided, I just want him to be happy. And lets face it we aren't getting any younger and less stress would be good for him. The one thing that make him smile is our beautiful little granddaughter Kahlen.

Kahlen turned eight months old yesterday! I couldn't believe it, I actually found myself counting the months on my fingers to make sure it was really eight months. Is there anything more beautiful than an eight month old? I mean, really. They can sit on their own, entertain themselves a little, but still can't get around well enough to get into much mischief. She has personality that is just exploding all over the place and loves laughing. I must say that she takes after me in one way, when she gets too tired, everything makes her giggle. (until she gets to the point where she is screaming. And boy can she let out a wail and a half).

The reason I call my blog Growing up "Gramma" is that since Kahlen has entered my life I feel I have grown in so many ways. You'd think that you'd get to a certain age and growing would stop. That at some point, even though you still learn new things, actually maturity is finally reached. Its just not true. How long do we really keep maturing? I know in my case, I already see many things in new ways. Work for example. When I wake up to go to work, which is always hard, I can go into Kahlen's room. I see her sleeping, and think to myself "yeah, ok, this is a good reason to go to work today. Keeping a roof over her head, and making sure her room is warm and cozy, that's why I go to work." Some how it makes the day go better. Knowing that she will be there to give me a big old toothless grin when I get home, well that makes even the worst day melt away.

I know that one day her mom and dad will move out and start a home of their own. That will be a good thing when the time comes. But for now, I treasure every minute I get to have with this little girl. I know how lucky I am to have this time with her.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Learning New things

Here I am, trying out something new. For anyone who may ever read this, please be kind when you see the spelling errors and bad grammar. My brother the english major will probably cringe if he ever reads this, but I honestly don't care. Impressing him is not on my list of things to do today.

I have often thought over the years that my life is one that is just not that exciting, and not that interesting to talk about. I listen to my friends at work as they talk about their lives, I give my input, but rarely add anything about my own life. Not that I don't want to share, just have nothing interesting to share.

Well, now that has changed. I now have a new granddaughter that I would love to just gush about! However, my mom taught me that gushing make a person a bore, and that one shouldn't inflict captive audiences with such things. Sooooooo, I figure this is a good place to tell my story. If it bores you as a reader then you can move on no harm done. Perhaps though, if you find it entertaining even in the least you may come back now and then to see how we are doing here in Gramma world.

For now I have to go. Baby sitting tonight and she's been napping a little while longer then she should for being this late. Mom and Dad are going to be less than amused if she doesn't sleep tonight.