Monday, November 17, 2008

"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on
the feelings, as now in October."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Our lives are so enriched as parents. There are days that go by so quickly I forget to sit down or eat lunch or swing outside. Its that last one that I usually miss the most. Madeleine LOVES being outside. Life is so busy sometimes with school and housework and Matthew's flight schedule that I forget how relaxing an hour outside pushing Madeleine on the swing can be. She is growing up so quickly and I hate to think I've missed a minute because the dishes just "had" to be done or laundry just "had" to be folded and put away. We took a ton of pictures this month to share with everyone. I love all of them, but its especially those we took outside where the sun hits her face just right and her eyes glitter atop those too cute dimples.

We celebrated Halloween at an assisted living facility in the morning with MOMS Club friend and trick or treating at Matthew's squadron (his work). Madeleine was delighted to see where Daddy works and the planes he flies. I liked touring the field too and seeing the Blue Angel planes up close and personal. Madeleine was a flower fairy and loved every minute in her costume. In fact, she asked if she could wear it to the grocery store today, but I assured her it was much too cold.

We were blessed with a visit from Matthew's parents after Halloween. Grandma Rita and Papa Ron stayed for the weekend and played with Madeleine to her hearts content. During their stay, we harvested the sweet potatoes we had been growing in our garden since we moved here. We had plenty of potatoes to make three pies and have a few left over for Thanksgiving! Matthew was certainly proud that he grew something we ate and I was proud it was actually edible.

Most of you know about my cupcake bakery dream. I'm regularly making cupcakes and trying new recipes out. I have a great assistant, Madeleine. I just had to include some pictures from our latest adventure with chocolate cupcakes and fudge icing. She usually has on clothes, but this was a special deal because chocolate isn't always so easy to remove.

We are finishing our Thanksgiving menu and welcoming friends and coworkers that will be here without family over the holiday. We love a big family Thanksgiving and since we won't be travel
ing home, we're doing the next best thing and having a big "not our family, but somebody's family" Thanksgiving.

Christmas is right around the corner and Madeleine is getting excited. Its great to see how each year she "gets it" a little more. Last weekend we were out having a family da
y at an outdoor shopping center and they were starting the season already with Santa. We ran into him walking down the sidewalk and Madeleine had her first Santa encounter. We've never been the parents to take our child screaming up to the big guy when she was a baby. We thought we should wait until she knew him and felt comfortable, because Madeleine doesn't trust just anyone. I think on Saturday she got a good feeling from him, because as we chatted with him on the sidewalk, he asked Maddie what she would like for Christmas and she began telling him all about it. Since then, she's told everyone about Santa Claus.

We hope everyone has a blessed and safe holiday season. We love all of you and we will be thinking of you as we are being thankful over our table in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looking back and leaping forward

September has almost gone and fall is in the air. We've spent much of this month doing just as the title suggests. The first of the month we watched in horror and complete sadness as our old home in Galveston was inundated by hurricane Ike. Our friends, colleagues, and classmates were scattered around the state and some stayed in the very city they loved. Galveston, though not our most favorite town while we lived there, has so many special memories for us. We had three wonderful years there. Madeleine was born and spent her first year of life there. We walked her along the seawall and watched Mardi Gras parades along the very boulevard the news crews showed covered with water and debris. As we watched the Strand become flooded with water more than chest high in most places, we recalled ice cream at the Emporium and all my favorite gift shops. We recalled our priest at every mass during Hurricane Season saying a prayer for the Blessed Mother to protect our island and our people. I'm glad to report that all of our friends and loved ones faired well from the storm. Our old house, just 6 blocks back from the seawall and built in 1920 made it through the storm. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Texas as the rebuilding begins. The storm made for some pretty wild weather here before heading to Texas. We had the opportunity to take some great pictures on the beach.

Now onto leaping forward. I had my first exam days after Ike's landfall (wonderful timing, right)! I did somehow come out with a 100. Matthew is doing well and finished his second training with "flying" colors. He will begin Primary this week.

Madeleine is settling into her school routine and making friends. The mom's group I joined has had tons of opportunities for Madeleine and I to make friends. She has her favorites, mainly, Ethan at the moment. We attended his soccer game on Saturday and they acted so grown with one another. Ethan, who is 4, hugged Maddie and thanked her for coming and she returned with a pat on the back and a "good job". Then, the two proceeded to hold hands and talk all the way back to the car.

I'm sure that you all remember the extreme drama that surrounded Madeleine's (or should I say my) attempt at ballet in Charleston. I was sure that I would never own pictures of my sweet little ballerina at her dance revue, like every other mom I know. Well, guess what folks??? There may be hope for me yet. Last week, Madeleine asked to have her ballet shoes down from her closet. I don't just leave them down, because the stupid things were like $50! I did take them down and she proceeded to put them on and ask me to tie them. Once she was all set in her shoes, she went straight into the family room and showed her dad "TAP, TAP, pull-it-behind, and CURTSY". I almost died! I could hardly believe she even remembered the classes, because I danced the steps with her on my hip crying the whole hour. She has chosen to repeat this little act quite regularly. I'm hoping that in time, the money will be well spent on another go at it. I'm sure you all can't wait to hear how my drama queen will take to classes next time.

Granny came for a nice visit after Ike. She had no power and we thought she should come to this century and live for a week with power and air conditioning. It was a great visit, if not too short. I miss having my best girlfriend be close. I hope Granny/ Mom had as much fun with our girl gossip sessions as I did. While Mom was here, we took her to some of our favorite places. We enjoy Thursday nights on the pier with a good band and some Sesame character usually shows up for the kids. Maddie prefers dancing to meeting scary furry characters up close and personal. It makes for a nice evening with a picnic by the water. On her last night here, we went out for dinner on the bay.

We made the leap to attend a Saturday night mass this weekend. We normally go at some point on Sunday, but we have a full day planned and decided to try something different. I showered and dressed in a satin top, caplet sweater and black pants. Matthew then came in and told me that it was a Saturday night mass and maybe I should wear jeans with my dressy top. I thought that sounded alright and made the change. He wore khakis, a polo shirt, and sandals. We didn't think to dress Maddie either, assuming this mass would be a little more casual. I will say that the mass was in fact different than Sunday's. We were the youngest people there by 60 years and we were slighty underdressed for the task Matthew accepted. Picture this... I enter mass, we get settled in our pew and I begin to pray. I'm kneeling there, recalling my week behind and pondering the next week and Matthew is tapped on the shoulder by a woman with a lace veil, looking very pious. They exchange a few words and she leaves. As I finish my prayer and start to prepare for the readings, Matthew informs me that we were asked to bring the gifts to the altar. I am immediately aware that we will be proceeding to the front of the church with the HOLY EUCHARIST and I'm in jeans and he in sandals. I'm sure that God will find it to forgive us for our informal dress this one mass, atleast I hope anyway.

I hope everyone has a wonderful October and that fall weather befalls our friends still suffering with some power issues in the wake of Hurricane Ike.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Life is better with frosting!

This post is dedicated to our grandparents, great grandparents, and parents (who are our daughter's grandparents). Today is Grandparent's Day. I thought I'd share the history of the day: The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade (now age 91), a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Even though neither Matthew nor myself have grandparents in nursing homes, we find it enjoyable to tap into the wisdom of our granparents as often as the week allows.

This is a day that I have never missed. My friends and most family are always shocked that I've remembered this day again this year, while they have let it pass without much thought. It used to be that the card section of the stores around town were LOADED with Grandparent Day cards. It seems these days that it has been passed over minus a small section that isn't taken over by Halloween cards. It makes me sad to know that there are people who forget this day, because I think of it to be just as wonderful as a Mother's day or Father's day.

Matthew and I had most of our rearing done by our grandparents. Sure we lived with our parents and they sent us to school and tucked us in at night, but some of our most enlightening moments came from those summers spent at our grandparents. I have often thought I could pen an entire novel on the "grandparentisms" I learned over the years. It would make you laugh until you cried and probably cry until you laughed.

I love my grandparents and all the little ways they made life better for my sister and I. We knew that no matter what the world had against us, we had two people in Orange, Texas who could make us feel unstoppable. There was always Blue Bell in the freezer (thanks PaPaw) and an all-night gab session in grandmother's bed. Don't think I don't remember the summer I wanted grapes and they were some ridiculous $3.99 a pound, but PaPaw didn't bat an eye and bought them for me. Then there was the trips to the DERA pool every afternoon after he'd worked a full day just so Chels and I could swim. Grandmother has made her sacrifices too, eating Mexican food everytime we come to town, even though her heartburn will sear through her stomach for days. There was also the trip that we took when grandmother and I were so sick, the travel trailer broke an axle and it was about a hundred degrees, but PaPaw didn't want Chelsea to suffer and took her down to the little hotel pool. Another infamous trip was to see the Grand Canyon. Justing getting Grandmother and I to look at it, made us both dizzy. We are both terrified of heights, but followed PaPaw's instructions to sit on limbs of trees (much too close to the edge for our comfort) and pose in all sorts of places around the rim of the Canyon. About half way through our walking tour, PaPaw notes that the roll of film is full and stops to switch it out. He proceeded to pull out loads of film that hadn't wound properly, assuring us that this was normal and that there was alway some extra. After nearly 5 feet of film had been removed, the film snapped apart and PaPaw thought we probably lost that picture. Sure enough, only one roll of all the film taken in that beautiful national park came out with any pictures on it. Our memories, much to PaPaw's dismay have served us well though. Thanks for so many great times and for those we haven't even dreamed of yet.

I also love Matthew's grandparents. They are the type of people that you meet and you instantly fall in love with. If you can picture the quintessential Brooklyn, NY couple married for 67 years, living in the same house they raised their children, that is Bill and Rita. From the first time I met them, I was hooked. Grandma and granpa took me right in. It was so wonderful living in Connecticut, when we could visit them often. They would get us Chinese from the place down the block and we'd bring the Rispoli's Italian cookies. We would visit at their table until dark. Grandpa telling his stories about his service in the military and grandma catching us up on the family. Thanks for loving Matthew and helping mold him into the wonderful husband and father he is today.

Madeleine is lucky to have been to born to parents with such great love and respect for their grandparents, because she has some pretty terrific ones herself. I hope that Madeleine will be able to look back on her life in thirty years and have the same great memories I have from my grandparents.

Time passes too quickly and we forget to look back. One of the best ways to look back often is to stay connected with those who have gone the road before you, especially your grandparents. I'd like to think that grandparents are parents with lots of frosting (and who doesn't love frosting)!

I've collected some of pics of our family with grandparents, enjoy the day. Love and hugs to all the grandparents, especially ours.

My mom and Maddie's grandparents Andrea & Seaborn:

Matthew's parents and Madeleine's grandparents Ron & Rita:

Matthew's grandparents Bill & Rita:

My grandmother and PaPaw, Jack & Peggy:
One of our surviving Grand Canyon pictures