Songs of Hope And Sorrow: Party of One

I have loved Brandi Carlile’s music for a long time. Since the beginning. 2005 or 2006. She’s a sneaker wave. Out there, picking up momentum, rolling in. This year she’s finally getting some good recognition, having just won three Grammys. Her songwriting and incredible voice are both amazing. This one, Party of One, off of her latest album, By The Way, I Forgive You, is a favorite. The album is all about forgiveness, in its many forms. I love that. A whole album about forgiving, being forgiven. Party of One is about a couple who is struggling, feeling like it’s impossible, but in the end, you know there is this one person for you and you love them. No matter how mad you get, no matter what the struggle, “I am yours”. I love the strings, in the end, soaring. It captures that feeling so well of coming back to someone, remembering you love them, that in the end, the love is all that really matters. This is the second video for this song. On the album, it’s just Brandi singing, but here Sam Smith does a one of a kind assist. His voice, also incredible, marries so well. Enjoy.

Fathers

I originally posted this in 2013, but thought it could use a re-post.

Fathers

I started writing this on Father’s Day and was, as can happen, distracted by actual life events.  Visits from family and then traveling can do that.  I nearly forgot about this post until I noticed it idling there, the red “draft” sitting beside it in my post queue.  It was important to me to get this piece of writing out there, so here it is… late, but no less important to me.

Originally, like most people, I started out with a Dad.  One.  He was full of life, fun loving, sporty, loved his coffee, loved to laugh and laughed a lot, went gray early, had false teeth, played the pedal steel guitar better than I’ve heard anyone else play it, had a major sweet tooth, was legally blind, and smiled with his eyes… Warm and full of love.  My Dad was a dork, which I inherited.  Totally goofy with a dork’s sense of humor.  I’m honored to carry that on.  I’m also so happy to have his sense of joy.  It’s the best gift he passed on to me.  That and his sense of play… and awe.

When I was a tad older, and not much mind you, Mom married Bill and brought another dad into my life.  For 33 years he was the man of our house.  Bill had a sly sense of humor, often a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a love of science and the PBS shows Nova and In Search Of, could fix nearly anything, was the best BS’er I’ve ever seen, adored his tractor, loved a good pancake breakfast, and loved my Mom.  Bill taught me to love learning, whether he knew it or not.  He had a keen and curious mind.  Always reading National Geographic, Scientific American, and the like, he was interested in how things worked. And even though he wasn’t much of a traveler he wanted to know about the world.  He was a guy who didn’t have a large formal education, but he was a very educated and very intelligent man.  Bill, or Billbsy, as Kev and I called him when we were younger, was a guy of deep feelings and strong opinions.  I didn’t often agree with his politics, but that was OK too.  Bill had the ability to talk to anyone and did.  I was always amazed at how he just struck up a conversation with the people he was around, whoever they were.  He taught me to fly fish, to love small Mom and Pop motels and car trips, and passed on to me a great appreciation for the mysteries of the larger world.  I am oh so grateful for those gifts and for the gift of seeing my Mom love and be loved so well.

A few years after Bill passed Mom met and married Don.  I recently, after Don’s passing, wrote a blog post about him so I won’t go into all the things about Don that impressed and amazed me, but I will say that after just having attended his celebration of life I was so awed by the number of people he affected in such a positive way.  He was an amazing father and grandfather.  He lived an amazing life and I was so honored to have had him in mine for a time.

I gained yet another dad when I married Karen and met her dad, Don.  From the beginning, even though Karen’s parents tend toward the very conservative, they accepted me, and our relationship.  I knew I was in when Don, one day, put his arm around me, called me kid, gave me a little squeeze, and smiled at me.  That small gesture meant more to me than I can express.  He has been strong, and wise, and has shown me love from the start.  I  also, see an earlier blog, had the honor of being chosen by him as the forker during a new in our relationship Thanksgiving dinner.  I won’t explain here, but needless to say, I was thrilled to get the job.  Don is steadfast, opinionated, warm, curious, and can, even still, move fast when he’s headed somewhere with a purpose.  He has a fantastic laugh and does it with a great twinkle in his eye.  He gets joy from small things, which has been a great lesson for me because when it comes down to it it’s the small things that matter.  He’s quiet, reads voraciously, loves his family and extended family with a passion, and is a solid rock of support and strength.  I appreciate his presence in my life every day.  And like I told him this Father’s Day, privately with a little kiss on his cheek, he is the only dad I have left and I love him so.

Lastly, when talking about Dad’s, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about my Grandpa, my Mom’s dad.  Grandpa, who I also wrote about in a couple of previous posts, was the epitome of a fantastic father and grandfather.  I learned so much from him… how to play cribbage and backgammon, how to tie my shoes, what a good person should be.  He had a love for life, an adoration of family, and a playfulness and sense of joy that was so strong it still flows through our family.  I was with some of the family this last weekend and I could see him in all of us.  Those were some amazing genes he passed on.  He is the father of my Mom and so through her, he also gave me so many gifts.  I was blessed to have him in my life for so long and am so lucky to be a part of him.

As I look back at this list of fathers, my list of dads, I am amazed at the quality of the men here.  They were nothing like each other, and yet the most important thing about them, their ability to love well, is shared by all of them.  Most people get one dad and I have been fortunate enough to have four.  They have been, and are all, each one, a blessing to me and my life.  Men, who might be reading this, and I know a few uncles, brothers, brothers in law, a son in law, friends, and cousins who might, you should know you are valued.  You, as fathers, are priceless.  You bring so much love, joy, strength, and happiness to the children in your life.  You might not know this, or be aware all the time, but you are so loved.  What you do, what you provide, is invaluable, and I, for one, am so thankful and grateful to you.  Watching you dads be dads is an amazing thing.  It’s a joyous thing.  So thank you fathers, mine and the dads I get to watch every day being fathers to their daughters and sons.  Thank you, and happy Father’s Day.

Eight Years

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Photo by TJ Parker

Eight years ago today a doctor walked into my hospital room and told me I had leukemia.

Since then I’ve periodically asked a question of myself.  Not, as you might expect, why me, or even just why.  There is no why.  It was random, not predictable, and as far as we know not preventable.  It just was.  So the question isn’t why, but who.  Who was I then, am I the same person now, what did I learn from the experience?

I’ve written here about my philosophy of life a bit… which is basically kindness is key, our love for the people we love and who love us is all that really matters, find joy in the every day, and don’t lose hope about the things that matter to you.  But as this day rolls around every year I find myself doing a bit of an assessment.

I believe in forgiveness, in kindness, joy, hope, and love.  But, I’m not always the best at those things.  And on this day I find myself trying to remind myself who I am.  I find myself trying to forgive myself for the ways I know I’ve hurt people, which doesn’t let me off the hook for those slights, but it does let me employ one of my strongly held beliefs which is that each of us is doing the best we know how at the moment.  Sometimes our efforts aren’t that great, and we don’t handle things well, but at the moment we are only doing what we can with what we have.   It still means we have to try and do better, be better.  We owe our people that.  But, we also can’t continually beat ourselves up for the things we’ve done.  This is where apologizing comes in.  Sincere apology.  We admit what we’ve done, we feel it in our bones, the ways we’ve hurt someone, and then we say we’re sorry for it.  The apology is freeing for both people.  So I ask, have I apologized enough and meant it.  Have I forgiven others, have I forgiven myself?

Kindness.  Have I been kind?  To my people, to strangers, to myself.  Am I moving through the world as a kind person?  Do I say thank you, look people in the eyes, empathize, treat people with respect, watch out for their feelings, simply honor people as the beautiful human beings they are?  Am I kind to myself?  I hope so, I hope I do all of these things, but I know the answer is, I don’t always.  So I need to be more kind.  We can always be kinder.  I think there’s always another level of kindness to strive for.  I think the key for me is to be aware, to be present with people.  If I am, I’m kinder.

Joy.  It’s easy to get discouraged in life.  About our place in it, circumstances we find ourselves in, the state of the world.  The enemy of joy is fear.  So the key is to not be fearful.  But, that’s a tough one.  Having gone through this whole life-threatening experience I find myself afraid of the random and unknown.  Afraid of what could happen, suddenly, without warning.  This fear has no face or name or even bearing on what’s actually happening in my life at the time.  It just comes with large amounts of anxiety.  And when it comes it eats my joy whole.  Like a kipper snack.  So I find myself searching for ways to lessen the fear and find the joy.  I’m innately a silly, joyful person.  I’m a dork.  I can find joy in the smallest things when I’m not afraid.   So I’ve spent some time working on and continue to work on trying to be present in the small moments of life, which I feel is where joy lives.  In smiles and sunsets and dogs and wind in the trees and whispered secrets from grandchildren and laughs over nothing at all.  I try to remind myself to be present.  Nothing is promised to us, which certainly includes time, so we have to live now.  Be alive now.  Be joyous now.  This is a tough one, but I’m trying.  The wind chimes are going strong right now on the front porch, and the sound is magical, and there is joy in that.

Hope. It’s tough to be hopeful when all you see is the stuff that’s not working out.  But as I’m taking a look this year I find myself reminding myself that life is perception.  We see what we want.  Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes of all time.  It comes from the movie, The Abyss, “We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.”  At the time the film was made the cold war was still in full swing, so the Russians were the bad guys.  But the point isn’t that part of the quote.  The point is the essence of it which to me means we see what we want to see, which is frequently driven by our personal fears, and we have to look with better eyes.  So, I can either see the world from a place of love and forgiveness and hope, or I can see fear, I can see enemies.  I try to come from a place of seeing people as friendly, as human, as trying.  Again, I don’t always succeed in this, but when I do, hope springs and the world looks different somehow.  Brighter, fuller, rich in color and possibility.  It is hopeful.

Love.  I believe in connection and responsibility to and for that connection.  Life is about love.  Who we love, who loves us.  It’s about how we love.  Do we say it?  Do we show it?  Do we let the people we love feel the love we have for them?  For me, this brings gratitude into my life and makes me want to share that gratitude.  To say how grateful I feel for the people and love in my life doesn’t even cover it.  I am sometimes overwhelmed by the waves of it.  Struck profoundly silent by the weight of all the love I know I have in my life.  But, it’s sometimes too easy to see what we don’t have in life, what we think we’re missing.  And in the muck of that, we sometimes forget to take stock of what we have, or even to recognize that it’s there.  Who we have and what that means to us.  Love is all around us.  It’s all around me.  So, as I go through this day I let that wave of gratitude for enormous and profound love wash over me.  Hold me up.  It did when I was sick.  It’s what got me through.  Even though I was semi-isolated when I was sick, I felt the love pouring into me.  Lifting me up.  Holding me.  I felt it.  And luckily, I feel it still.  If I sit with it for a few moments I cry.  Out of a gratitude so overwhelming it crushes me in all the right ways.  That’s where I want to live, where I try to live.  Even when things are tough, the love is there.  I have it, and I try to give it back.  We’re responsible for giving it back.  For loving, and loving well.

Eight years.  If I think of all the beautiful and strange and magical and messy things that have happened in my life in the last eight years I’m amazed and so moved by it all.  It has definitely not all been easy, and there have definitely been sad and heart-breaking times, but there have also been so many moments of joy and laughter and love.  And I guess maybe that’s the point of taking stock.  Which is to say, it’s a messy thing, life.  But it’s in the middle of all that mess we find love and hope, kindness, and joy.  And I remind myself, isn’t that an amazing and beautiful thing?

Eight years.  Eight years on top of the nearly 45 years before those.

Wow.  What a ride it’s been so far.

 

 

 

 

The Whistler

As people begin to change their Facebook profile photos to pictures of their Moms I felt, this year, I needed to do a bit more than that.  Yes, I’ll be changing my photo too, but that just doesn’t seem like enough.  I needed to say a bit more about my Mom.  She’s a good one.

Where to begin.  What to say.  She is a woman of many talents, of many depths, of many experiences.  She is a helper, a champion, a sounding board, and a fantastic example to follow.  Her heart is big and holds so many of us in it.  She’s independent and fierce when she needs to be, sometimes stubborn, sometimes tough, always up for an adventure.  She smiles easily, looks you in the eye, and gives a great hug.

I have stories.  So many stories.

When I finally told Mom I was gay she cried.  Not because she was upset I was gay, but that it took me so long to tell her, that I had been conflicted, afraid, unsure.  She ached for me, for my struggle, because I had been scared.  That’s love.  That aching for another person with no thought of herself, that my friends is unconditional love.

She was just here visiting us, we had all this stuff planned, but plans change and in the middle of her visit we, she and I, ended up driving 6 and a half hours one way to drop off our trailer at the factory, we hung out for a couple of nights in that area, then drove the 6 and a half hours back home.  She’s a great travel buddy, plus she took it all in stride.  Was totally up for it.  Her adventurous spirit fully on display.  She is literally up for anything at any time.  She once ate a fish eye in Guatemala and crickets in some other place I can’t remember, for goodness sake.  I wouldn’t do that.  Mom did.

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Our family history is complex and beautiful.  There have been additions throughout the years and through it all, she opens her arms and her heart to everyone.  My step siblings, half siblings, friends, my wife and her family, and on and on.  Her heart is big.

I grew up with Mom’s whistle.  It’s an amazing thing, birdlike and stunning.   She went through a period of time when she couldn’t whistle (she had braces) and it amazed me how much I missed it.  Luckily it’s back.  Seriously, it’s a great whistle.  Some of my fondest memories are of doing the dishes with Mom when I was younger and listening to her whistle, or make up songs.

Making up songs.  Mom can be silly, she knows how to laugh, how to have fun.  When we were doing those dishes I would throw out some or other thing, a topic, an item, whatever, and Mom would make up a song on the spot about it.  She might not even remember this, but I got the biggest kick out of it.

Mom is a jack of all trades and contrary to the saying, she’s a master of many of them.  In fact, I literally can’t think of a single thing she’s attempted that she didn’t end up being able to do.  Kids always think their parents can do anything, I know mine can.  It’s not just me that thinks this.  When anyone has a problem to solve, a thing to build or construct, some gardening question, whatever… she can help.  She usually just knows, but if she doesn’t she has a great mind for problem-solving.  She’s a fantastic problem solver.

She also pitches in, helps out.  All the time.  Whenever she’s needed.  It’s above and beyond.  When I was sick she helped out at our house.  When K had to go to England for a month during my illness she would only go if Mom agreed to stay with me.  Mom agreed, even though she had her own life going on.  And that didn’t mean just staying with me, she took care of me.  Got me to appointments, stayed with me in the hospital when I spiked a temp and had to go in for a week while they shot me full of antibiotics, helped me through some bouts of anxiety and panic about leaving our house during that time, cooked for me, helped me shower.  And other times, before I was sick, and since as well, she’s helped us so many times.  Painting and dog sitting and yard stuff and working on our Oregon house before we put it on the market and with the rentals and on and on and on.  I don’t have enough room here for all the times she’s helped us, all the things she’s done.  I am forever grateful and beyond lucky.

She is full of grace.  As in she handles very tough situations with a grace and depth of feeling I admire.  Unfortunately, Mom’s lost two husbands.  The first she was a caretaker to for nearly a year before he left us, and the second suddenly, without warning.  Both times, handling it with such grace.  There was emotion and great sadness, both times, but through it all, she never acted bitterly toward those around her, she never took anything out on anyone, she kept going, stayed strong, and never gave up on herself, on us, on life. She impresses me every day.

Mom’s a great human.  Of course, she has her faults, don’t we all, but she is fully a fantastic human.  Loving, forgiving, open, honest, full of integrity, fun-loving, smart, feisty, adventurous, kind, and just plain nice.  She’s a genuinely nice person.

I don’t pretend to know all the depths of her.  No one can know all things about another person, but in my nearly 52 years I can honestly say that she is one of my two most favorite people to spend time with, the other obviously, if you’ve read this blog, being K.   Which puts Mom not just in the Mom category, but in the friend category.  I enjoy being with her, am a better person for the time I’ve spent with her.

I wouldn’t be who I am without her, wouldn’t have the life I have without all the help and guidance and love she’s given and continues to give to me.  I say this all the time because I have that Mom, the one all the friends like and everyone wishes they had, and I have her, so I say this all the time… I am lucky.  Beyond lucky.  I was blessed and lucky to have her as my Mom.  I know this.  I’m fully cognizant of the fact.

I wish I could somehow bottle the feeling I have right now, this feeling of being overwhelmed with love and joy and pride and gratefulness for having this wonderful person in my life.  I wish I could give it away, let other people experience it too.  I can’t pour it into this page so that it emanates out to everyone who might stumble across this post, but I wish I could.  It’s a great feeling, this feeling of overwhelming love.

It’s a great feeling because I have a great Mom.  A one of a kind, in her own class kind of Mom.  I can’t really, fully, describe it, but I guess this attempt will have to do.  Until that is, I can give her a hug.

I love you so very much, Mom.

Now, excuse me while I go and change my Facebook profile photo.

 

 

Time to Get Out and Rake

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Photo by TJ Parker

I was sitting here at my dining room table yesterday looking out the sliding glass doors to my backyard like I’ve done countless times over the last five years.  It was a beautiful fall day in Illinois.  The sun shining, the air crisp, the leaves falling in cascades and covering the yard. I realized we’d have to rake again soon.

We took our dogs to the vet for their yearly check up, some shots, a blood test.  They are good.  They did well during the vet visit.  They got some treats from the girl at the Espresso Royale drive-thru afterward as we got our large breves with an extra shot.

After the drive-thru we came home and had a visit with our daughter and grand daughter.  Our grand daughter is not much over one and half, her second birthday is coming up in February.  She is busy and curious and is speaking sentences, which is a little freaky, but oh so cool, coming from such a young one.  Our grandsons didn’t talk this well this early, so it’s a bit of an anomaly for us, but really awesome.  She played with shells and rubber duckies and blocks and a wooden bus we have that has doors that open and wooden people inside.  She watched videos of dogs and her Mama dancing and some muppets.  She laughed.

We took a run to our local Menards to get some door tab insulation.  I actually have no idea what they’re called, but they do really help to keep that cold Midwest air out of the house.  We also stopped in to get toilet paper and a 16 count box of fruit cups in real juice with cherries in them.  We call them cherries and all of the grandkids love them.  We like to have some on hand when they come to visit.

We made a great dinner last night of our version of chicken parmesan with broccoli.  It was awesome.  We watched a movie, held hands, pet the pups, and decided to go to bed early to continue watching Good Girls Revolt on Amazon.  If you haven’t watched it, do, it’s pretty damn good.

I was incredibly sad all day, we hugged each other a lot, and in fact at one point I had a good cry, but…

Life, mine, ours, is beautiful.  It goes on.  It continues to move forward.  One beautiful moment and day after another.

And, as my honey says, no vote can take that away from us.  We have each other, our love, our life together, no matter what.   She is amazing.  My rock, my center.  I love her so much.

Today I got up, turned on the High Hopes playlist I started making, poured a cup of coffee, sat down, we talked again as we’d done yesterday about places we might start volunteering, and I looked out to the backyard where we are having another beautiful fall day.  There are tons of birds at our feeders and the wind is hitting the trees and creating a rainstorm of leaves out there.

We are really going to have to get out there and rake.

 

You’re a Big Brother Now

Dear Sebastian…

I don’t think the Grandmas have written in a long long time.  We’ve seen and spent time with you plenty, but have been so lame about writing anything here.  We thought it was time to remedy that.  So here goes…

For six weeks now you’ve been a big brother.  Your little brother Dominic was born on May 13 and since then you have been so good with him.  You love to kiss his little head and you’ve even held him a few times.  What a great big brother you are.  Not only do you love him, he loves you right back.  He loves the sound of your voice and looks in your direction every time you are around him.  He’s already looking up to you.  It’s so sweet.

Your Grandmas are so proud of the big boy you are and of how you’ve helped to welcome your baby brother into the family.  You are such a caring sweet boy and we love you very very much.

Love…   The Grandmas

 

A Weekend With The Grandmas

 

 

Morning Story Time

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Goo Goos

Dear Sebastian…

We have been so lucky to see you so many times this week.  We spent the weekend with you and your Mommy and Daddy in St. Louis for Mother’s Day.  We went to the St. Louis Zoo and had so much fun with you.  Then on Monday you came over and played for a little while, and on Tuesday you came over again.  We also went over to your house last night to have dinner with you and your Mommy and Daddy.  We had so much fun.

You are such an amazing guy.  You have your own language for some things and we love it when you talk to us.  Here are some of the words you say…  you call your Grandma Moo Moo and you call your Grandma Tam DaDa.  A motorcycle is a goo goo and Wicket is Nu Nu.  Blue is Ooo do do.  You say nah when you mean no and uh when you mean yes.  You say diaper and Simba and yeawhoa for yellow.

When we were at the zoo you had a good time looking at the hippos and petting the goats.  You also really liked riding on the train and even though you were a little scared going through the tunnels you were so brave and did it anyway.  We were all so proud of you.

We so love spending time with you Sebastian.  It’s why your grandmas moved all the way to Illinois from Oregon, so we could be close to you.  It was worth it little man.

Your Grandmas love you….

Squishy Face

Dear Sebastian…

Your Grandmas came over to your house the other night to visit with you for a little while.  Your Daddy and Grandma Tam went out to a movie and your Mommy and Grandma stayed home with you.  Before your Daddy and I went to the movie we were spending a little time with you.  We played with your new plane and I made some pretty funny noises while we were playing, pretending to be the plane sounds as it flew around your head.  You really liked that a lot.  Then we got out your play dough and you started making the squishy face.  No one knows when or where you might have seen it in order to make it.  We think you just made it up on your own, which is really smart.

Your Grandmas think you have the best personality.  You are so much fun to be around.  Thanks for letting us spend some time with you the other night.  We love you so much and always like to see you when we can.

In fact, we are going to come over to your house tonight so your parents can go out on a date.  Your Grandma Karen has a cold, but we are going to come over anyway because we really love you and are excited about spending time with you.

Fun Through Photos

Dear Sebastian…

We have spent a lot of fun time with you in the last few weeks.  Hanging out with you while your parents went on dates, watching you swim, going to your gym class graduation, visiting with you at Grandmas house, and having breakfast and dinner with you a few times.  It’s been so much fun.  Your Grandmas thought we would put a bunch of fun photos here so you could see some of the things we have been doing.

Your Grandmas love spending time with you so much.  You are one handsome, kind, important, smart little guy.

Love,

Your Grandmas

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No Disappearing Act

Dear Sebastian…

Your Grandmas have been so busy in the last couple of weeks, a lot of time with you, that we haven’t had time to write anything.  We are so slow at this stuff sometimes.  We are going to have to write another catch-up post about all the fun stuff we’ve done… like hanging out with you while your parents went out to dinner, and going to breakfast with you after we watched you swim, and going to your Little Gym talent showcase (you are very talented), and having you and your parents come over to our house for dinner, and a lot of little visits here and there to play and hang out.

Your Grandmas love you very much little man.

Love,    Grandmas

Christmas in Illinois

Dear Sebastian…

We had the best Christmas this year and it was all because of you.  Christmas is the time when a person should feel a lot of joy and enjoy a lot of warm family gatherings.  Because of you your Grandmas felt both of those things.

We spent a lot of time over at your house with you and your Mommy and Daddy.  We ate good food, your Grandma made pierogi on Christmas eve.  You liked it very much, just like the rest of us.  So good.  Then after you went to bed Santa got to work.

Your Grandmas came over early Christmas morning so we could see you see your presents under the tree for the first time.  You really liked your wagon and Zeus.  We were so happy you did.  We spend a lot of time opening presents.  You are such a loved guy you got a lot of them and not just from your parents and your Grandmas, but from your aunts and uncles, and your great grandparents.  We even had to take a couple of breaks from opening, to go for a walk and to play with some of your new stuff, before you finally finished later in the day.

That evening we had dinner too.  You loved that and then you went bed.  You had such a fun day.  Just what Christmas is supposed to be… time with the people you love.  And you are one loved guy.  I can’t believe all the people that love you.  It’s a lot.  It’s because you are such a fantastic guy.

We love you…

Your Grandmas

A Day With Your Grandmas

Dear Sebastian…

We got to spend the whole day with you today.  Aren’t we lucky!  Your Mommy and Daddy went to St. Louis to see the places they used to hang out when they were first dating and to do a little shopping.  So, while they were off doing that we came over to your house and spent the day with you.  We had so much fun.

 

You are a such a fun guy to be around.  We played and played, went for a walk, played some more, watched videos, and you hid under your magic cloak.

Your Grandmas love spending time with you.  In fact, I don’t think there’s anyone we would rather be with than you.  You are just that special of a guy.

We love you…

Your Grandmas

Daddy’s Birthday

Dear Sebastian…

It was your daddy’s birthday today. He turned 34. Doesn’t that seem old? It really isn’t though. Your daddy is still really young.

Your mommy made your daddy a cake and your grandmas came over to help him celebrate. Birthdays are fun!

After we ate the wonderful dinner your mommy made we all had cake. Even you. You never really ate cake before, and you really liked it. Yum!

You helped your daddy open his presents. He really loved the one you gave him.

Celebrating with family is what it’s all about.

We love you.

Your Grandmas

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Born Conductor

Dear Sebastian…

We went for a walk with you the other day.  You are such a great walker now.  We had a hard time just keeping up with you.

We love you… Grandmas

 

A Morning Together

Dear Sebastian…

We have had so much fun with you lately.  We came over to pick you up so your Mommy and Daddy could sleep in and have a quiet morning to hang out with each other.  Your Mommy and Daddy love you very much, but they were very tired, so to let them get a little extra sleep we came over to your house before you woke up, got you up when you woke up, gave you breakfast and helped you change into your day clothes and then whisked you off to have big adventures with your grandmas.

We had some fun times.  We went to the store and did some shopping.  I think your favorite part of being at the store was when you got to ride the pony.  You loved it.  Good thing the pony was free or your Grandmas would’ve gone broke feeding quarters into the horsey so it would go.  You rode it that many times.  You are such a great buckaroo.

After the store you came over to our house for awhile.  We had so much fun hanging out, having lunch, playing with your friends, your animals, and Jack.  You are such a good walker now that you walked all over our house.  For awhile you enjoyed wearing a Santa hat while you walked around.  You are an amazing little man Sebastian.  Your Grandmas are so lucky to get to be your Grandmas.

We love you…

Your Grandmas

Clowns and Hats and California

Dear Sebastian…

Early in the month of November we went all the way to California to see your Great Grandparents, your Aunt Cathy, Uncle Clem, Uncle Don, and Cousins… Charles, Elizabeth, and Dave.  We flew all the way there so we could all have a party for your Great Grandpa Don who turned 80.  Living until your 80 and still going strong is pretty neat.  We had such a great time with everyone.  People played with you, hung out with you, told you stories, and you got to walk around and see everything at your Great Grandparent’s house with your Great Grandpa Don.  It was pretty cool.  It was your first time in California and we think you liked it just fine.

We had two kinds of cake… a big 10 gallon hat and a clown cake, watched your Great Grandpa and Great Grandma open presents, and you got to have a turkey dinner.  Pretty special since it wasn’t even Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Everyone loved spending time with you.  You’re a pretty fantastic guy so that was no surprise.

The only bad part about the trip is that your Mommy and Daddy got sick during the trip. They were both really under the weather.  That part wasn’t too fun, but you spent a lot of time with your Grandma, who took good care of you while Mommy and Daddy slept and got better.

All in all it was a really fun first time in California for you.  We can’t wait to travel with you again to somewhere cool.  You are a great travel buddy.

Love, Your Grandmas

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Swimming and the Goats

Dear Sebastian…

Hi there Mr.  We had a really fun time with you the last few days.  We got to see you twice on Saturday.  We are really lucky.

First we went to see you swim again.  You are such a great swimmer already.  Your Grandmas are really impressed with your skills.  Kind of amazing how you manage to have so much fun.  Your Mommy swam with you again, playing and helping you do all the things you needed to during your swimming lesson.  It was pretty cool.

Later on Saturday we met up with you and your parents at the Curtis Orchard where you picked out your pumpkin for Halloween.  You had so much fun playing on the wooden train and riding the pony.  You are such a brave boy.  It’s pretty special how you do all this stuff and aren’t even scared.  You did the zip line too, with your Grandmas help and that didn’t scare you either.  Wow.  There were goats at the orchard too, and ducks. You really love animals.  It’s so fun to watch you with them and how excited you get.  You fed the goats and also got to pet them.  They had slimy tongues, but you didn’t seem to mind.

Today we came over to your house to see your cool Halloween costume.  You were a train engineer.  Grandma Tam was supposed to bring her camera, but forgot part of it so I couldn’t take any photos of us.  I used my phone camera instead to get a picture, but it turned out kinda blurry.  Your Mommy took some pictures of the three of us with her camera.  I hope one came out, but just in case I’ll put the blurry one on here.  That way we can keep the memory safe and sound.

Love, Your Grandmas

Hello Sebastian!

Dear Sebastian,

This is the first post in your new blog.  You probably don’t know you have a blog now, but some day, when you’re older, you’ll know.  Right now blog is probably just a funny word you don’t understand.  That’s OK.

Your Grandmas decided you needed your own space.  Or, I guess more accurately, we needed a space where we could write you “letters” and post photos of all the things we do together.  That way, when you are older, you will be able to look back on everything we’ve done together and the things that have happened in your life.  Pretty cool.  Or at least we hope you think it’s cool.

Of course, we didn’t think of this until just recently, so we are starting a little late.  You are now almost 14 months old.  It’s actually October 25, 2011.  Since your Grandmas are lame in starting late we thought we would use our sketchy memories and powers for recent time travel and actually “start” this blog just before your first birthday, when we arrived in Illinois after our move from Oregon.  We also thought it might be cool to throw in a few things that happened before you were born and right after you were born.  Sort of catch you up to where we are now.

So… here goes…

You were born in Lancaster, England on September 7, 2010.  Your Grandma Karen was there with you.  She’d flown all that way, from Oregon to England, just to be there when you arrived.  That’s pretty far.  Grandma Tam wanted to be there with you too, but she was sick in the hospital and couldn’t make the trip.  When your Mommy went into labor your Grandma Karen drove her and your Daddy to the hospital.  This freaked out your Grandma a little because they drive funny in England and Grandma didn’t know how to drive there.  Luckily it wasn’t far and she managed to get you, your Mommy, and your Daddy all there safely.  After a while at the hospital you were born. Everyone was so happy to see you.

Grandma Karen called Grandma Tam right away to tell her you were here.  Grandma Karen also sent a picture of you.  Grandma Tam was so happy she cried.

It was such a great thing, you coming into the world.  We’d been waiting for you for a long time, since we heard your Mommy was going to have you.  We loved you right from the beginning.

Your Grandma Karen got to stay with you for about three weeks after you were born. She loved every minute she had with you and would call me a whole lot telling me stories about how you were already growing and changing.  You were an amazing guy even then.

After those three weeks were up your Grandma had to fly back to her house in Oregon and to Grandma Tam.  She missed you right away.  So did I, even though I hadn’t met you yet.  Being apart was really hard.  Grandma talked with you and sang to you over the computer every day.  She would sing the same songs over and over to you, Patty Cake and If You’re happy and You Know It and Itsy Bitsy Spider.  She sang them so much to you you knew them when you finally got to be with her and me again at Christmastime.

At Christmastime, when you were just three months old your Grandmas came to see you in England.  Grandma Tam was really excited because I hadn’t met you yet and got to meet you for the first time.  We got to spend five whole weeks with you over Christmas and New Years.  It was your first Christmas so it was a pretty big deal.  You, your Mommy, and your Daddy, got really sick over Christmas.  We thought it was the swine flu.  You had a temperature and so did your parents.  It sort of sucked, but luckily it only lasted for a few days.  The rest of the time we were there we went shopping with you, played with you, held you, sang to you, danced with you, watched you in your Bumbo, and just hung out with you at home.  It was so much fun.

The next time we saw you was in March when you and your Mommy and Daddy flew to Oregon to spend some time at our house.  It was your first plane ride and your first time in the U.S.  You got to meet our dogs, Weston and Riley, your Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Don, your Grandma Julie, and also your Great Grandparents.  They were all so happy to meet you.  Your Great Grandparents drove all the way up from California just to see you.  And your Uncle Don and Aunt Carolyn flew all the way from Florida.  You’re a pretty popular fellow, everyone always wanting to travel just to see you.  We had a lot of fun during that visit.  You jumped in your jumper, slept in a playpen in our office, went to the park, and used a tiny high chair that strapped onto a kitchen chair.  It was a blast.

When you left our house in April, after you were done visiting, we knew we weren’t going to see you for a few months.  This made us sad, but Grandma Karen talked to you, sang to you, and played games with you every day on the computer until then. Grandma Tam peeked in every once in awhile to say hello too.

In June your Grandmas traveled to Illinois to buy a house.  At that time we knew you were going to live in Illinois so we decided, because we loved you so much, that we should live in Illinois too so we could be close to you and see you all the time.  Moving was a big deal for your Grandmas because we loved our house in Oregon and we had a lot of family there, but you are such an important guy in our lives we knew we didn’t want to live far away from you any more.

When you moved to Illinois from England in July Grandma Karen flew to Illinois from Oregon to meet you and your parents and get the keys to our house.  You and your parents lived in our house for the first month you lived in Illinois.  You didn’t have much when you lived here in the way of furniture, but you had a warm place to stay until your Mommy and Daddy bought a house.

When we moved to Illinois from Oregon in August we packed up all of our stuff into a big truck and drove it out here.

When we got to Illinois in August you were already here.  Yay!!  We were so excited to see you!  And so excited to be living near you.

In the last two and and a half months since we moved here your Grandmas have had a lot of fun with you.  We’ve been to the Sweet Corn Festival, the Arcola Cheese Festival, the Children’s Museum in Decatur, to parks, on walks, to the library, to your first swimming lesson, your first music lesson, celebrated your first birthday with you, watched you ride your Wonder Horse, and have played a lot with you. Your Mommy and Daddy even let Grandmas babysit you for a whole weekend when they went to Aunt Ashley’s wedding.  We played and played while they were gone.

And in fact, you were just here today.  We played at our house.. singing to you, playing with your friends (Tiger, Jack, and Triceratops), playing outside in your fort, and we gave you a little monkey that we hid in the cupboard until you found it.  Your Mommy brings you by almost every Tuesday after you go to the little gym.  We haven’t been to the little gym with you yet, but we hope to do that soon.  We love getting to see you a lot now.  It’s why moving here was such a good idea.  You and your Grandmas get to hang out all the time. Which we happen to think is pretty cool.

So this is the start of your blog.  We hope you like it.  Actually, we hope you love it.  By trying to keep up with this, writing to you here pretty often, we hope to keep a record of our time with you so you know all the fun stuff we’ve done and will do together.  We hope you get a kick out of it.  And… by putting all this here we hope to create a place, a space, where we will always be with you.  If you are away at college and need a laugh or to smile, hopefully you will think to look here where there will be smiles and hugs and lots of love waiting for you.

Love, Grandmas