Life is an adventure.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grandma Erwin

Growing up my Maternal Grandmother and I were pretty good friends. Some of my earliest memories include my Grandma Erwin. As Christmas approaches I can't help but think of her. Every year she would take my brother and I out Christmas shopping. She allowed us to pick out whatever we wanted, within reason, and that was pretty much our Christmas presents. She took it all home, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. Some years we would go so early in the year I'd forget what I had chosen, which made Christmas morning even more fun. I clearly remember going to Benetton and begging her to buy me a shirt. All the kids had one! She was reluctant because they were a bit pricey but she agreed to buy a peach colored shirt with Benetton in different colors. After one wash it shrunk up so much my doll almost couldn't wear it. She marched right back to the store and got her money back. I had to go with and was never more embarrassed!
I spent many nights sleeping over at my Grandma Erwin's house. She lived, with my Grandpa, in a small house in Iowa. It was the house my mother grew up in and the house I would eventually call my own. Even today I will smell something that reminds me so clearly of that house. It had a particular smell that I just loved, and still do. We would open Christmas presents at home, my mom, dad, brother and I, and then we would go to Grandma Erwin's for breakfast. I can vividly remember the first Christmas morning when we realized she was sick. Christmas breakfast was cancelled and Grandma went to the hospital. She had shingles and then we later found out she had a brain tumor. Now that I'm an adult I long for those Christmas breakfast mornings. Life was so simple and predictable. My Grandpa always had Juicy Juice out of a can ready in the fridge. If I close my eyes I can see us all there sitting in the kitchen at the table. I can see the tan and pink stripes on the carpet, the green lamp hanging from the ceiling and the bell that hung in the doorway. I can see my mom and dad and my Grandpa in his blue, plaid flannel. Hmmm, I don't see my brother, wonder where he is. Oh I'm sure he's there, I just block it out of my memory! Only kidding.

My Grandma Erwin died August 27, 1996. Her brain tumors finally got the best of her and she ended up in a nursing home. I never visited her as much as I wanted to. It was difficult for me to see her. She was clearly not the Grandma I had known all my life. Close to the end she didn't even know who I was. She would occasionally call me by my mother's name, which made the visits almost unbearable. So I stopped going to see my Grandma. It was a decision I now regret more than any other bad decision I've made in my life. She was at the nursing home only 18 months, but it probably seemed like a lifetime to her and to my Grandpa. I did go see her the day she died. She was thin and weak and not the person I remembered as my Grandma. While it was very hard to see her that way, I'm glad I was there shortly before her death.
She was the best friend I have ever had. She played Uno with me for hours without complaint. She would call me up out of the blue and say, "Lets go shopping!" As I got older we would go to Weight Watchers together and then promptly out to lunch at the Chinese place we both loved so much. She let me drive her Escort while I was learning to drive and never flinched! She was part of a Birthday Club that met once a month at a restaurant for lunch to celebrate the birthdays of the group for that month. Even after my Grandma's death I remained close with many of the woman in that club. When the gambling boats came into town she would always be sure to share her winnings with my brother and I. And when she lost big she'd always say, "Don't worry kids, it's just your inheritance!"

While cleaning out my Grandparent's house after the death of my Grandpa, I found this little box filled with post cards sent to my Grandma's father back in 1912 and 1913. There were a few that were sent as a Christmas card but most of them were birthday post cards. I thought it would be fitting to add those post cards to this post. They remind me of simpler times. They were simply addressed to Earl Allicks Letts, IA. No specific address. It amazes me that they arrived to the correct destination. I can't imagine addressing a letter today with the name and the town and then having it arrive to the correct house. We have certainly grown and evolved.
This Christmas I would like to spend some time remembering my Grandma Erwin. I hope to show pictures of her to my children and tell them stories about sleepovers and Chinese food. It makes me sad to know that my kids don't have the opportunity I had to spend time with their Grandmothers. I think we'll play a game of Uno with the kids in remembrance of my Grandma Erwin.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Mall

Bryce had parent, teacher conferences Friday which meant no school for Bryce or Hannah. My husband had to work so I had to find something to keep us busy. I don't know why, but when my husband is gone time seems to tick by at an exceedingly slow speed. So we decided to have lunch at the mall. Our mall has a great softish play area surrounded by the food court. I decided to allow the kids to eat and then I had lunch while they played.

While I was eating and watching the kids play I was remembering how often we came to the mall when we first moved to Wisconsin. Hannah was not walking yet and Bryce was only 3. I had diapers to change and strollers to park. As time went by, Hannah learned to crawl up the steps and go down the slide. The first year or so I would need to be near her so she didn't get trampled by the bigger kids. As time went by, I was able to sip a coffee while sitting on the sidelines. Soon enough, having lunch at the mall was something only Hannah and I did because Bryce was in school.

Our time spent playing at the mall has certainly evolved into something quite different today. I sat outside of the play area and ate my lunch with no worries of my small child escaping through the entrance. I didn't have to remind Hannah to go down the slide and up the stairs, not the other way around! I was able to look down from my children, take a bite, jot down a note or two and not fear my daughter had pulled someone's hair or my son had run around knocking other kids down. My kids are growing up.

The saddest part is, my kids are growing up! Soon enough we'll walk through the doors of the mall for lunch and neither kid will ask if they can play. Soon enough the soft play area will be part of our past. As each day passes I'm reminded more and more how my life is preparing for a shift in seasons. The days of play dates and mall play areas are almost gone. I'm sad to some degree. However, I'm mostly excited to see what the next season of mothering has in store for me and my family.

Thanks for the good times mall play area. Our time with you might be gone but will never be forgotten.

Monday, November 3, 2008

For Uncle Jimmy

Flag football season has come to an end. Bryce was a total all-star! They designed a play specifically for him. He played center AND receiver. They would fake a hand off and Bryce would be way out in the field all alone, and the QB would throw it. It didn't work very often, but it was cool when it did!

This kid can run! He has the best eye for where the ball is. At the last game he captured almost all of the flags. When the opposing team was blowing past three and four kids at a time Bryce would be the one to pull the flag. Amazing!

Ok, so sometimes he got a little bit rough. He likes to tackle. I've had a House Rules sign up in our house for almost 3 years now. The #1 Rule is Keep your hand to yourself. Do you want to take a guess at how many times a day I say "Keep your hands to yourself, Bryce!"? Lets just say I say it more than once. He was kind of the Brett Favre of flag football. He broke a lot of records and one of them was getting the most penalties for tackling.
I'm already looking forward to what next year brings. One of the parents was hanging kinda close to us at the last game. He finally said, "So, what school does Bryce go to?" The kids go to different schools, and I could tell this dad was a little upset. He went on to say, "Not all kids have an eye for football, but you know when a kid's got it, ya know? Bryce has got it." I just smiled, but inside I was thinking..."I know!"