Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So what is the talking stick?

It just occurred to me that in my previous post I did not describe what the talking stick is. Well here is how it works ...

At the Family meeting we will put a talking stick in the middle of the table. Ours is just an old tree limb about 18 inches long and an inch in diameter. When the boys get back we will decorate it. You cannot talk at the meeting unless you are holding the stick, when you are finished talking you lay the stick back down on the table. The next person that picks up the stick can then talk. This keeps people from talking over other people's thoughts and feelings with their own thoughts or opinions. It also forces that all important silence after someone has expressed themselves giving people time to ingest what was said. I hate how it feels when you spill your guts to someone and before your last word is even all the way out they are jumping in with what you know they have been thinking about the whole time you were talking.

At our first meeting we did great about picking up the stick to start a new topic but there was still too much interjection while others were talking. Consequently we would end up going on tangents and the poor soul that had the stick never got to finish!

We will do better next time. ; )

Sunday, December 27, 2009

First Family Meeting

First Family Meeting today and it was a huge success! The boys were not here, they were with Bobby but we still enjoyed it. As a matter of fact the things that involved the boys were best discussed without them so that we were all on the same page when we talked to them. Allison totally got into it ... getting her thoughts on the table is her cup of tea. It energizes her and you could just see any concern about her not having any say so in this thing we call life melt from her expression!

We discussed:

Knocking: To remind the boys how important it is to knock we are going to have them make signs that say knock and hang them on all bedroom and bathroom doors.

Respect for space and stuff: We reviewed what is private space and what is public and how it is important that we treat the private spaces with a hands off mentality unless invited. We also talked about picking up after ourselves in the public spaces so that everyone can enjoy them.

Working the kinks out of grocery shopping: We talked about the shopping schedule and the learning curve we will have regarding what and how much to buy.

Who's the boss and when?: We talked about there being too many chiefs and not enough indians for Matthew and Braeden and we need to let Jennifer take care of the discipline when she is here. Grandma and Grandpa will get involved when asked to. Allison has been freed of her responsibility to discipline them and instead will be a big sister and a confidante for them.

We talked about the use of the talking stick and used it some but we do need to work more with it! I do not think we followed the rules too well! ;)

Backpack Holder's and Pancake Breakfasts

Okay, it has been proven! I had a feeling but now I know it! Experiences create the memories that make the fabric that make the mortar and bricks we live in, a home. Does that make sense? It is my dream to make a home with experiences and not stuff because it is the experiences that change the house, not the stuff. We have a tradition of Saturday morning being pancake breakfast and have done that for a couple of years now. We are carrying on the tradition that Louis's parents did before us. The kids love it and they hold us to it. Matthew keeps close track of the days so he can assure himself we do not forget! Jennifer said when they moved into our little house in Roaring Springs where many pancake breakfasts were held the first thing Matthew asked her was when was the Saturday pancake breakfast? You see when he walked into the house it was not the furniture or the pictures that generated the warm feelings of fun but rather the memories. Here in Fort Worth they immediately discuss the many experiences and memories, not the color on my walls or the new lamp! I want my house to be the house they bring their kids to and memories flow as they reminisce about wonderful childhood experiences.

We went shopping yesterday for cubbies for the entry hall so that when they get home from school they have a place to put backpacks, etc. so we do not have the constant yelling from one end of the house to the other, "Wheeeerre is myyyyy baaackpaaack?". Or any other things they will misplace if they do not have a place for it. We found this great shelf unit and Matthew and Louis put it together last night. Louis texted me, "A kodak moment in the garage", so off I went camera in hand. When it was finished Matthew came to get me to come look at it and I do not think he could have been walking any taller than he was. He was so proud! Oh it was great and so perfect. I explained to them how we were going to use it and said let's take it in the house. In a tone as grown up as a 7yr old can put out there Matthew said, "Do you want to help Grandpa carry it in or do you want me to?" Now to appreciate this you have to understand this was not a lightweight shelf unit. I said how about if we both help Grandpa, he cheerfully said OK! Braeden then wanted to help and so I let each of them grab a corner and I followed close behind to help if needed. Braeden just had the proudest and contented look on his face as we carried it in. Kids expressions tell the whole story ... nothing is hidden like we tend to do as we get older. He looked back at me with a look as if to say I already know the answer but I am going to ask so I can hear you say it. He said, "Are you and Grandpa glad to have sons?". I said Grandpa and I are very glad to have "grand"sons! We continued into the house and positioned the shelf in its place by the door. I took a picture of the builders and then when Allison came in Braeden said "LOOK! It is a backpack holder!"

We had a really nice visit with Laverne and Larry today as they passed through on their way to Roaring Springs from Kentucky. I made the traditional spaghetti dinner Mom always made, Spaghetti with meatballs, salad and peas. We had nice conversation but the thing that sticks out most is a story Laverne told that drove home the point that even when we do not think our kids are watching us and learning they are. The examples we set are so much more important than the words we say.

Watch what you do ... you are being watched!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas night ... a time to reflect.

Christmas night ... Have you ever noticed Christmas night has an ambiance all it's own? There is something about the way you feel on Christmas night, the way the house looks, the tree, the decorations, the shadows, it is hard to explain but it is so different to me it is thick in the air. Only a night ago when you turned on those lights there was a lift in your step because of the anticipation of things to come. On Christmas night the mood is so different, especially for the creators of the moments (adults). Now the kids are still in perpetual motion, playing with their new stuff with a different type of energy from 24 hrs ago. The adults are more closely compared to marionette puppets and nobody has hold of their strings anymore! Just fatigued piles of clothes and body parts! ;)

Christmas was great this year ... it always is and I think what I love the most about our Christmases is that my kids and grandkids are the most unspoiled and appreciative people I have ever known. We never seem to have the money we hoped to have each year. But if you were a fly on the wall in our living room on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning you would not be able to tell the difference in the enthusiasm of my kids over the kids down the street that get every electronic and expensive gadget on the market. The exuberance in their voices is as heartwarming as it gets. And the sincerity in their voices when they say "This was a good Christmas" will bring tears to your eyes. I know that for my family Christmas is as much about being with family and the knowledge that it is a celebration of the birth of Christ and not so much about the gifts. Do not get me wrong though, they do like the gifts too though. After all Matthew did remind me that Jesus got gifts too!

Well for all of you that think this arrangement is going to be all hunky dory I have to burst your bubble. Jennifer and I had our first big loud discussion. You know one of those discussions where hands flail, fingers point, voices rise, doors slam and then long periods of silence. This is then followed by, I'm sorry's, hugs, and I love you's. You know what I mean right? We will have to work on what gets us to these moments. I am very direct and Jennifer is very sensitive. There has to be a way to meet in the middle.

Over the last few days I have had some things where I thought, "I need to put that in the blog when I sit down to write." I felt certain it was so important I would never forget it but here I sit ... totally blank! So I have set my blog up to accept text posts. This way I can do more blogging on the go so if you see some here and there that are very brief please check back later for the more expanded version.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas ... we sure did!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We are all home after a visit in Flomot

Welcome to my new follower Joe! Joe is one of my very dearest friends from work and one that I will really miss in my retirement. I wish I had known he was a blogger as I am enjoying his blog. How can you sit by someone day in and day out for as many years as I have sat by Joe and not know what a talent he has and more importantly how much I did not know about him. Joe you are such a multi-faceted person ... I am glad to know you.

We went to Roaring Springs yesterday and got the kids. As I suspected they really liked the Suburban. I am not a little boy and never have been but I think an SUV type vehicle is more like a fort than a utilitarian vehicle used to transport you from one place to another so it is a little boy thing that becomes a guy thing ... ya know, do not come between a guy and his truck!

Louis, Jennifer, Matthew, Braeden and I went to Flomot and got to see Grayson and Salina. Yep that is what happens Salina, when the grandkids come on the scene all of a sudden your name moves from the top of the list when telling the stories. ;) The focus shifts to those little ones. I don't know about anyone else but for this Grandma my grandkids are the chance to put into practice all of the things I wish I had done with my kids. For the most part by the time you get here you have figured out what works and what doesn't. And yes the girls are quick to point out what they missed when they see the grandkids get something they didn't.

Grayson melted my heart last night. He took me by the hand and marched me to the play room and we played legos, telephone and hide and seek. He loved hide and seek. He was so receptive to me and I was a safe place for him, throwing those arms out to me, smiling so sweetly. It seems hard to believe but maybe he remembered me from when we babysat at the wedding. A couple of years and he will be Grandpa's little shadow, the kids always flock to him as they get older, but for right now Grayson likes me best Grandpa and I am going to enjoy it! ;)

We also saw Everett, Clois, Kathy, Russell, Marion, Christi, Dwain, Emily, Hailey, Chase, Kristin, Kathryn and Wyatt and got some great pics. Not often we have this many together at the same time. It was a great visit with great food from Kathy as usual. She is the BEST hostess! Love to all of you and Merry Christmas!

This morning we loaded up and as I suspected again the boys made their nests in the 3rd seat. Braeden made a point to tell Grandpa he sure did think the Suburban was cool. It sure did make traveling nice. 6 people and 3 dogs and everyone still had space to be comfortable. No complaints, minimal whining after the 200 mile meltdown. 200 miles we have decided is Matthew and Braeden's limit but today it was better with the extra space.

We had pizza, cake and ice cream for Allison's birthday tonight and then watched a couple of movies. Very nice evening!

A quick funny. In conversation it came up that we have 4 houses and Jennifer said "4 houses and we all live in one!"

Pictures to be posted I hope ... let me see if I can remember how to do it! ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Decorating

Well I am now officially 50% ready for Christmas! I have the decorating done. Still have some shopping to do. I know, I know, why did I wait so long to decorate? Well, lots of reasons, aka excuses! ;) The main one was that I wanted to wait til the kids got here so we could make it an event. Then as it got closer to Christmas Megan said we are not even going to have decorations up for long if we wait for the kids. So I decided to do everything but the tree. Then Russell called to say he and the kids were coming and so then I thought I can't not have the tree ... what would those girls think of a treeless Grandma!!??

So today I was up before daylight and now it is dark and I have been going non-stop! I have a tree, lights, etc. and I am so excited! I love this time of year ... sometimes I wish I could leave the decorations up year round but the preparation for Christmas would be lost and that is such a part of the fun. I get really attached to some of my decorations. So much so that when I pull them out of their boxes I am so glad to see them again. Now do not laugh, I even speak to some of them ... "Hi there Mr. Snowman", "Hello Baby Jesus",and so on and so forth. Every year I am excited all over again, especially about the ones I have had for years because they have so many memories. Memories of people, places or events!

When I decorate I like to step back and see it thru the eyes of the kids. To make sure it sparks some imagination ... something that might come alive for them for a moment.

I have been talking to Jennifer daily. She is packing boxes but I have told her that this is going to be a great time to declutter their lives and make sure they only bring what is most important and most necessary. Storage upstairs is not in abundance. She is looking forward to me helping her maximize with the least amount of "stuff"! ; )

We are going out to get them tomorrow. We will head out to Flomot tomorrow evening and see family including Salina, Joe and Grayson! I cannot wait ... I see pictures of Grayson all the time and it feels like we miss so much. ;(

Well, the real blogging about kids with kids moving in is about to begin! 2 more sleeps!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Birthdays and Southwest

Happy 13th birthday Allison! I love you so much it makes my stomach hurt! ; )

We sent Allison flowers with balloons and teddy bears to school today for her birthday. She said they were awesome. When she called I told her I could not wait to see her in a week and with a hint of breathlessness she said "I can't wait to live there"! I am so glad she is so in to this because at 13 I know it is hard. She is a super resilient kid ... always has been.

Jennifer told Allison we would have another more formal birthday party when we get to Grandma's and Matthew asked Jennifer if that was because she did not know how to organize one. ;) I am usually the one that does it so I can see why he thinks that! I guess the next one I will have to let Jennifer take the lead so she can get up to speed.

Louis and I are excited about having regular events, eg. Friday pizza nights, Sunday movie afternoons, Sat morning pancake breakfasts ... etc. I think kids thrive on traditions like that.

8 more sleeps to the kiddo invasion ...

I cannot believe how close I am to my last day at Southwest. Three and a half days or 28 working hours and I will be a Southwest Retiree. I am so thankful to be a Retiree because I will always have that connection. Southwest will always be a part of my family. It has been different the last couple of weeks ... for so many months it seemed I would never get to this week and now it is not as exciting as I thought it would be. Very bittersweet! I have absolutely no regrets about my decision but I did not expect to feel this melancholy. I believe it is the same feeling someone would get if they were told they only had a few months to live. All of a sudden everything and everyone becomes more important. It is as if all of the negative feelings are gone and it is replaced by positive. So this is becoming more difficult than I thought.

But it does not change the fact that I am so excited about the future. It is so weird ... there is a very defined line in the sand at 10:30am Friday morning (that is the end of my last shift at SWA). The same intensity of sadness I will have at 10:25am will be replaced by an equally intense feeling of happiness at 10:35am.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Visions of Sugarplums dance in my head ...

We officially have the Grandkid Mobile. I drove it to work this morning for the first time and found myself looking in the rear view mirror several times imagining the kids faces back in the seats. They are going to be so excited. I can see it now ... first thing they will do is establish their "territories" and then setup all of their treasures ... Cars, books, assorted toys, cell phones, stuffed animals, pillows ... I predict there will be a few disagreements/heated discussions. I can almost hear it ... Look Braeden! Look Allison! Look Matthew! And then one of them will say something like, "Grandma, is this our truck? Do we get to keep it?"

We have not set a firm date yet for going down there and bringing them here. Around the 22nd. I am waiting to do decorating until they get here. I want us to do it all together ... fire in the fireplace, cocoa, cookies ... everyone dressed somewhat Christmasy, after the decorating we watch a Christmas movie, awww so perfect. Anyway that is my Hallmark Channel vision. I will let you know how it really goes! ; )

About 13 more sleeps ...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Long time no type ....

I have a new follower! Welcome Judy and thanks!

I cannot believe it has been 6 days since I was here! My time and my thoughts have been consumed by vehicle shopping. Looking for a used vehicle is such a taxing experience. When you start out the anticipation is great. You search the internet for just the right one. The pictures always look great, taken strategically so that you only see the best. And time and time again you get to the location of the vehicle and find all of the stuff that was NOT in the picture. You want to say to the seller, "Really? Are you kidding me? You call this a clean vehicle?" You have to ride this roller coaster several times before you get to the point that you tell your husband to just go look at it ... if it is half way decent buy it, write a check, whatever! ;)

So that has been our week. Go to work, go look at cars, go to sleep, start again. The house is a wreck, I hope I have not totally blown anyone off and have not realized it yet! We do have a 99 Suburban, low mileage and great condition lined up for pick up tomorrow. I will tell all about it then. I cannot wait to see the kids faces light up when they see it. All of us being able to ride together in one car will be a huge deal to them. When we are in separate cars Matthew and Braeden get so concerned if the other car is out of sight (lost). Some of my best memories of my childhood are trips in the car as a family.

Only 14 more days until school is out!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ticks can be good things ...

I was taking a shower and I found a mole type bump on my shoulder. I kept looking at it and then I would look up at the ceiling, then I would look back at it and then back up to the ceiling ... I was trying to remember if that was there before and if it was was it that big. I finally decided no and then the thoughts started racing thru my mind. Oh my gosh I can't go vehicle hunting tomorrow I have to go to the doctor ... I can't believe this, I can't have cancer ... when Judy's friend found a bump on her shoulder she died in only a few months ... what about Jennifer, how am I going to help with the kids if I have cancer ... I cannot believe this, finally retiring and everything is great and now cancer ... how can I have cancer, I eat right and I drink odwalla ... how can this be? Then out of the corner of my eye I realize it is only attached partially. Oh so it is a scab ... how did I get a scab, anyway I tried to pull it off and at that point I thought ... It is a tick! I called Megan to the bathroom and when she started doing the ewwwwweeee dance (she hates ticks) it was confirmed for me ... it was a tick ... not the C word! She pulled it off with tweezers and then bragged on me! "Mom, I can't believe how calm you were, you never freaked out about that tick!" I said well of course I was calm ... it was only a tick!" She said, "Only a tick?!!" And I said, "Yea, I thought it was cancer!" ;)

I made a few observations after this event. First, it is interesting to note that all of that in the previous paragraph took place in at most 3 minutes. It is amazing how the mind works and how it can process that much information so quickly.

Second, it also is a lesson in perspective. On any other day a tick would have had me doing the ewwwweeeee dance. On this day a tick was the best thing in the world!

Lastly, whenever I have heard about someone I know having cancer I have often wondered what goes through their minds that moment that they find the lump or whatever the symptom may be. I have always felt like I would be very calm ... ya know que sera sera ... but I do not think that is the case now. There is just too much to live and live healthy for ... like those Grandkids setting up camp here soon!

Be healthy everyone!