Friday, March 28, 2014

I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

Anna loves books.

It's one of the most common requests in our home, "should we read a book?"

And it's a request that can't often be denied.

She, like most 2 year olds, loves repetition as well.  

She could read the same book over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

And sadly for Mom and Dad, we don't find "The Little Engine That Could" quite as stimulating as she does.

However, I recently read that repetition for 2 year olds significantly aids development and provides essential stepping stones for learning to read independently.

It's interesting, since reading that, I have renewed motivation to read and re-read like never before.  Simply knowing that repetition is accomplishing a specific and beneficial purpose has made it tolerable:  "Yes, Anna, I think I can read it again."

Reminding myself of the purpose helps to do the hard things, the boring things, the small, seemingly inconsequential things.  

Now if only those things were as easy as turning pages to a child's delight.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Peter!

It's hard to believe, but this little guy is one year old!

I hope that when I look back and remember the childhood of my little boy, I'll call to mind...

his shock of red hair and toothy grin,

his tone of voice in communicating any and every thing, why talk when you can yell?

his aggressive style of cuddling (if someone's not crying after a snuggle, then it hasn't been done correctly.)

his "no, no, no" head shake, immediately followed by yes, yes, yes doing the very thing you know wasn't to be done.

all of the crazy nicknames!

Anna's best friend and partner in crime,

the needed and treasured addition to our family.

Peter's favorite activities right now include:  tinkering with his train, doing laundry (specifically his bath letters,) pulling himself up on everything, taking things out of boxes, pulling things off shelves, unfolding clean clothes (aka making a mess whenever possible,) bathing, and screaming.

His favorite foods:  Strawberries and cheese.

We celebrated with a host of friends, food, and fun.  Nana came from the States with cake supplies (just in case Mommy decided to opt for steamed carrots over sweets.)  We played games, ran/crawled up and down the hallway, laughed, and sang.  Happy Birthday to you, Peter!

Saturday, March 1, 2014


She just didn't seem like the kind of person who could die.

Love her or hate her, if she was in the room, you knew about it.  She did not hold back.  She was strong-minded.  She was strong-willed.  She was strong.

She taught us that the loudest voice in the room does get heard, and that it's worth speaking up for what you believe in.

But she could make you laugh; she could put you at ease; she could melt a room with the sound of her laugh.  She asked questions.  She gave advice.  She cared.

It was "the summer of Crystal Pepsi," according to my brother.  And the summer of, "Joel, you could marry your cousin, you're not blood related."  It was the summer of, "I only have one rule:  no rough-housing."  It was just one of many summers that we spent as family: cousins sleeping out on the trampoline in sleeping bags, pigs named Louise, J-dip gone bad, late night kick-the-can, "NOT!", hot tub bubbles, "The White Cruise", house-boating trips, MTV and mattresses on the floor, camping under a hail storm, roasting s'mores in our living room fire place, Red Coral, and it was Mimi's pride and joy.  Her favorite place to be was wherever she could gather her family, her crazy bunch:  "Do you think other families have as much fun as our crazy bunch?"

No, Mimi, I don't think they do.

It's been years now, but looking back, I realize that those are some of the most special memories that I have.  That place, that family space, was special.  And being a part of something special makes you special.  

That's where it all began for me.  My first friends were my family members.  Family had fun.  Family cared.  Family was where I was accepted no matter what.  Family was home.  Family still is.  "You're not really home [from being away in Russia] until you're back with this gang, are you?"

Family was where I'd always get my yearly chocolate birthday cake.  I guess I can now finally come clean and say that I don't like chocolate cake, heck, I don't even really like cake that much.  But those cakes were for me, because Mimi remembered me.  And she wanted me to enjoy myself.  She wanted to celebrate who I was and whom I was becoming, all of this done in the glow of the family unit she'd formed.  She toasted me and my closest friends at a bridal luncheon the day before my wedding at the University Club.  She didn't quite know that it would mean the world to me, she did it because celebration is always the right choice.  It meant the world and more.  Thank you, Mimi.  You made my day, year after year after year.

And that's probably what she did best:  she celebrated.

"Get in this house!"  The door was never locked.  There was always more coffee (and cool whip.)  And once you came in, it was hard to get back out.

She knew how to throw a party (tips to follow.)

She knew how to treat children.  

She was generous.

She danced.

She sang.

She chose to party.

And she was the life of it.

Mimi, we will miss you, but we will continue to celebrate, just as you taught us.  We'll keep this crazy bunch active.  We'll stay family.  We'll remember.

I found a collection of Velveteen Rabbit books from my childhood that I brought back with me from my last trip to the States, thinking my daughter Anna was now old enough to enjoy them too. Tonight it struck me that my Grandma got those for me on one of our many shopping outings growing up together in Denver. Sorry, Anna, I'm taking my books back, they're from a party where I feasted on chocolate cake nearly 25 years ago. 

Godspeed, Mimi, as you become a real rabbit.  

Some of Mimi's tips on throwing a party:

1.  It's always better to have too much food than not enough.

2.  If you can read, you can cook.  (Originally Tissie's)

3.  Never put the food and the beverage in the same location at a party.  Keep your guests moving.

4.  Hide the dirty dishes in the oven!

5.  Nobody cares what your house looks like if you are good to people.