What an overwhelming week for family & friends

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Two infected teeth, preparing for my first day of school and my daughter having the audacity to step into 30 years of age, fearlessly, makes today feel like Saturday already. But on top of that,  25 copies of Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd by my girlfriend Emily were delivered early to allow for a “soft launch” of her poetry and watercolor book at Ed Hinkley Studios this Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5. His 16th annual Waterworks exhibition will include some of the paintings included in Emily’s book, some new ones, and of 20141002_113331course there will be the first pile of books on sale!

It’s so great to watch good things happen to good people. Here they were this morning waiting to open up the first box of books! If you have a free time between noon and 5 pm, come join us celebrate this awesome piece of work at 4052 N. Western Avenue.

By then despite how my teeth feel, I’m going to enjoy the wine, cheese and excitement surrounding a new exhibit. And I’m getting some holiday shopping done at the same time.

As for my daughter Jill, it seems three decades flew by faster than three years. I remember being in the hospital for two days as they induced labor for this little pip-squeak who’d clearly moved in. Thankfully, my doctor wanted to make it home for dinner the second night, and delivered she was. Perhaps a little well-done, but otherwise perfect. As fast as the time seems to have flown, the 21760_380724235336667_1537020678_nyears I’ve spent being proud of her mountain of accomplishments assure me it’s been at least 30 years.

But now I understand why my mom was bummed when my sister turned 30. She said it made her age 10 years―to 49 years old.

Those were great days. And so are these. I’ll take two messed up teeth as my family’s biggest problem any day.

Those Short Summer Breaks

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I have a princess visiting over this and next week. She’s everything one imagines of royalty: beautiful, poised, self-confident, someone you’re proud to say you know and be seen with. Of course, as is also true of royalty, she can be high maintenance. She prefers to be served her favorite food on her schedule. She counts on her wardrobe clean and at her disposal. She enjoys books read to her, arbitrary trips to her favorite stores, mani-pedis and at least one person with or near her at all times.

Those who know me have already guessed I’m talking about my six-year-old granddaughter, Princess Caitlin. There’s a three-week gap between camp and first grade. Her mom, the original princess and my oldest daughter, Jill, has taken off the third week. She’s excited to get her pix1354681652941daughter new supplies and wardrobe for the start of school, 12 years that neither of them realize zip by in such a distorted span of time it defies any normal understanding we have of days and years.

After all, it was only a few years ago we were preparing Caitlin’s mom and aunt for grammar school, then high school and finally college. And now they’re out in the world doing remarkable things without holding our hand or calling us for permission or even advice. So when Jill asked the family if anyone might be available to watch Caitlin during the two weeks between camp and her week off, I didn’t hesitate to ask for every one of those days.

Caitlin grows more independent by the minute. She prefers Justice, a clothing story, over toy stores, Buffalo Wild Wings over Chuck E. Cheese. She’ll ask for Nutella and crackers too close to dinner time. She has known every word of Olivia Helps with Christmas for at least three years, but she asks me to read it to her all the time. And if I step out of the room for more than a few minutes, a sing-song, “Grandma where are you? Are you coming back?” is routine.

Sure we’re spoiling her. But she’s a loving, caring, kind little person who somehow also knows this time together is special and doesn’t expect everyday life to be as accommodating. At the same time, her grandfather and I know all too well that being able to make this remarkable little girl content so easily is a finite ability. Happiness will be more complicated, her needs something only she can find a way to achieve.

Thankfully, Jill agreed to let us revel selfishly in the little time we have left to soak in all that is Caitlin, fighting over our own time to spend with her. Soon enough we’ll revisit paddy cake paddy cake and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with our new grandson while Caitlin follows her mom and aunt out into the bigger world where greatness awaits her, too.

The G-Word

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Hundreds of emotions rushed through me when my daughter announced she was pregnant with her first child. Her health, age, future, childbirth, anything a mom can fret about simmered within me throughout her pregnancy. The biggest surprise, though, was the difficult time I was having accepting the reality that I was old enough for grandparenthood.

If that doesn’t prove “youth” is relative, I don’t know what does. As if I couldn’t have passed for a grandmother without my daughters having children. I’d already had practice. My stepson had three handsome kids of his own who I adore. I spent a great deal of time with the oldest when he was young, and it remains among my greatest experiences. Gus is the first little person I didn’t give birth to who enjoyed being with me as much as I loved being with him. Nonetheless, he’s a reminder my husband is older than me, and another Grandma rightfully ranks first in all their big hearts. Bottom line: I avoided the “I’m-a-grandma-now” reality check.

Daughter #2, Niece, Daughter #1, aka Mom, and Cait

Like the teenager who knows everything, I was an early-in-my-50’s mom who still had much to learn but didn’t think so when daughter #1 announced her daughter was due in September, 2007. I was abuzz with busy―baby showers, learning the latest in all things baby, and calling friends, most of who held their Grandma comments to themselves, although I could see the smirk in their eyes.

My daughter allowed me to be with her when Caitlin arrived. I was overwhelmed remembering all the love and happiness greeting my oldest when she was born. My parents and I spent years staring at her, awake or asleep. My youngest daughter, Caitlin’s new aunt, joined us in the birthing room soon afterwards, and I remembered how excited my mom and dad were at her arrival, especially my dad who’d finally slowed down enough to revel in all things infant and toddler. Every mispronounced word worthy of a story, told repeatedly. Then in came my niece, and I relived the joy my grandmother, mom, dad, sister and I felt when she made her debut―the first girl born near enough to hover over since my birth.

I held Caitlin close for a few minutes, introducing her to these women whose blood she shares. I told her about the long line of strong women preceding her, a tribute to those who instilled a love so powerful that those remaining were present now. The notion of missing even the first few moments of this new life unthinkable to each of us who instantly became part of her story through no choice of her own.

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Grandma and Cait

What an aha moment for this mom. Just when you think you’ve experienced all the great stuff in life―job promotions, marriage, rock star kids, beautiful homes, and even the significance of surviving the big 5-0―it’s not a leap to believe any big, magical milestone moments might be behind you.

Silly, inexperienced me. It took a year before Cait could say “Gamma.” Now that she’s getting ready for 1st grade, she can pronounce, spell and read Grandma as her mother, aunt and great-aunt did before her. And, I learned that just when I thought there were no longer any more big life lessons left,  being a grandmother is perhaps the most definitive life-affirming experience.

Caitlin and now her little brother multiple infinitely the profound love I felt when I gave birth to their mom. I don’t think either my very tired and hard-working daughter and equally exhausted niece can process the concept of so much love. Nor can my youngest who will be a terrific mother after she ventures down the many paths still before her. They have plenty of time. But this mom, who’s more motivated than ever to stay healthy to experience her baby’s babies, too, alternately laughs and cries at that naïve 50-something woman who feared the thought of being called Grandma.

It’s only when we stop learning new things every day that we genuinely have something to fear.

Einstein on my mind

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I’d been thinking about an Einstein quote regarding technology becoming greater than humanity. I could spend a lifetime on Google trying to identify its context and viability. Nonetheless, this quote seems to pop up most:

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.


I think it’s true and sad. I was thinking about it because of my new grandson, Patrick Xavier. He’s smiling on purpose now, even giggling. He’s moving around more, and his world clearly is becoming larger. But his world still revolves around his mom for nourishment, a clean diaper, dry clothes, warmth and, dare I say it…love. Pure innocence and some kind of innate understanding—some will call it faith—that his needs will be met, humanity will prevail.

For what else is it when his mom or dad or aunt or sister hold him close, and he’s fed and warm and dry, and he looks at the world with such wonder and grins? He needs nothing else to be happy. Humanity in its simplicity is so obvious and so easy and already so perfect.

Leave it to us adults to muck it up.

The numbers alone tell the story. How lucky he is to be born a white male in the USA. How lucky he is to be surrounded by family on both sides who love him unconditionally and who would do anything to ensure his comfort, especially right now when he is helplessly only months olds.

All sad but true, as is this:  Neither the latest operating system or the largest 3D HD TV is associated with anything that makes him happy. And wouldn’t it be great if it never does?

If only the awe and curiosity and marvel of the world could be appreciated by Patrick his entire life, like the love and humanity that fuels him now. His intelligence could grow to its endless potential by using all those I-Phones, I-Pads and Androids as resources, but not as anything related to humanity. All of us surrounding him and by association all of us who experience the same would continue providing the identical unconditional love despite the imperfections we all grow into.

Per my quest of Einstein’s quote, technology may open open worlds of information that can help our population, but it’s yet to be demonstrated that any of that new knowledge has improved our humanity. In looking for the above quote, I came across this one from Einstein, too. A brilliant mind. I wonder if his heart hurt as he grew older.

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
We can only hope Patrick and all of those creating offspring will allow humanity to rule over all else, no matter what lessons he, his sister and their friends might pick up from the technology in their classrooms and common sense in the lunchrooms of grammar and high school. 

We already possess Humanity. What if we stop focusing on the technology, and use it solely as the resource it was meant? What we’re doing for Patrick and others we must continue to do if a sense of peace and happiness are truly important:  Love and trust our family, be there for them without question or condition. It’s easy when we’re talking about an 11-lb. bundle. Yet, I still see both of my girls like that. Let’s teach our kids to look at the own world the same way, every day. 

Naïve, nonetheless nothing to lose. At least put your laptop or phone down and hug someone as a reminder of the human-ness of humanity. C’mon, you don’t even have to tell the recipient why. It’s really all that counts. Really.