Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Easter Parade"

I don't know if anyone still buys a new hat for Easter or even a new dress, but we all used to!  I loved shopping for my Easter outfit every year when I was growing up.  Always found a pretty Spring-like dress in some pastel color and found a hat that went with it.  Up until I was in my teens, it seems to me that I always got patent leather shoes in either white or black and had ankle socks with a ruffle.  Some years, like this one, when Easter was early, I also got a new spring coat.  We were living in FL then, and a spring coat could pretty much work for all year.  Does anyone still sell spring coats anymore?

There was one year I remember my new outfit particularly well because my mother made hand!  We had no sewing machine, but every now and then Mom would make me a dress.  She would buy a pattern, cut it out, pin it, and then sit in her chair every evening hand-sewing something for me to wear.  The Easter dress I remember my mom making was when I was around 11 or 12.  I was stick thin and short and there was no question  that I was still a child (unlike some 11-12 years old now who look at least 15!)  Anyway, the dress she made had a dropped waist, short sleeves, a kind of rolled collar, buttoned down the back, and had a full skirt.  It also had a long-sleeved light-weight (unlined) spring coat...which she also made by hand!!  The material that mom and I picked out was lavender flowers on a white background for the dress, and a solid lavender for the rolled collar and as trim at the dropped waist.  She made the coat out of the same lavender material.

There was a white hat, new white gloves, and white patent leather shoes.  I loved it!  I felt like I was definitely ready for the "Easter Parade."  That outfit was one of the last things mom made for me, except for some costume things for school and Halloween.  I was turning into a teenager and home-made dresses were not what teenage girls were willing to wear in a small town in FL in 1959.

Still I'll never forget the sight of my mom sitting each night for days and days with her needle and thread hand-sewing my brand new Easter outfit for the Easter Parade!

Whether or not you get a new outfit, I hope you have a lovely Easter that adds up to wonderful memories of what Easter is like in your house!

M-t-G's 2nd Easter
(Her 1st was when she was 1 week old!)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Just a Dream"

In a break from my usual type of postings....

Paul Newman! He's always been my fantasy-man....sigh! Sadly, the closest we ever got was "Just a Dream!"  Even if you're not a fan though, you've got to love this story!!  Someone I don't know posted this on FB, so I don't know if this is a true story....but God, I hope so!!

"The Long, Hot Summer"
 (One of his very best films!
If you've never seen it,
you need to do so... right away!)

A Michigan woman and her family were vacationing in a small New England town where Paul Newman and his family often visited. 

One Sunday morning, the woman got up early to take a long walk. After a brisk five-mile hike, she decided to treat herself to a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone.
She hopped in the car, drove to the center of the village and went straight to the combination bakery/ice cream parlor. 

There was only one other patron in the store. Paul Newman, sitting at the counter having a doughnut and coffee. The woman's heart skipped a beat as her eyes made contact with those famous baby-blue eyes. 

The actor nodded graciously and the star struck woman smiled demurely.

Pull yourself together! She chided herself. You're a happily married woman with three children, you're forty-five years old, not a teenager!

The clerk filled her order and she took the double-dip chocolate ice cream cone in one hand and her change in the other. Then she went out the door, avoiding even a glance in Paul Newman's direction. 

When she reached her car, she realized that she had a handful of change but her other hand was empty.   Where's my ice cream cone? Did I leave it in the store? Back into the shop she went, expecting to see the cone still in the clerk's hand or in a holder on the counter or something. No ice cream cone was in sight. 

With that, she happened to look over at Paul Newman. His face broke into his familiar warm friendly grin and he said to the woman, 

"You put it in your purse."

....You're welcome!  :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

"School's Out"

DISCLAIMER:   This is just a general opinion on the lifestyle that seems to have overtaken our society....everyone is too damed busy.  Here we have a chance to regroup, if we would just take that opportunity.  The post is NOT directed to any specific family, or person, or relative!  Honest, Ratchlet!

"School's Out, School's Out, Teacher let the monkeys out...."

Yep, here in Austin and most of Texas (maybe even everywhere?), this week is Spring Break for the public schools.   This makes the children very happy.  It makes the teachers very happy.  It makes the school administrators very happy.  It even makes most parents happy.  

Spring break is only a week long, just enough to give the kids a little down time to catch their breath, so to speak.  These days most kids have lives so full of activities and interests that a week off is like a grand vacation!  I wish, however, the more parents would let spring break be just what it says....a break from school (and by extension) from many of the activities they are involved in.  The kids need that time off to relax a bit, to be free of homework, band practice, sports, and tests!  I think parents should let then be free of dance class,  gymnastics, cheerleading practice, karate, piano lessons, Girl/Boy Scout meetings, and all the other things they do.   And the older they get, the worse it gets!  

They just need a rest from their busy days, filled-to-the-top schedules, and their hectic social calendars.  A lot of kids these days don't ever seem to have time to just BE.  A week with no commitments, no deadlines, no conflicts between activities, and no trying to juggle all the different things when there are multiple children in a family.

Taking this week to just sleep, relax, pamper, and rejuvenate themselves are what the families need....but very few of them will even slow down!   There are lots of people who just can't relax!   And that is a real shame!  

So to all the children, here is my advice to you:  Getting your life crammed with one activity after another is fine if you've got the energy, but a week off in the Spring?   Take a nap,  read a book, just breathe, whatever!  Using this week to do nothing is a big challenge to most kids and families and most of them are just too busy to try!  But you can do it, really!  And maybe in a week, you'll feel rested, refreshed, and ready to face the challenges for the rest of the school year!  What do you think?  Huh??  Huh?!

Yeah, that's what I thought!   :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Sleepy Time Gal"

After Mikey and I had been married about two years, he started to attend IIT to finish up his under-graduate degree.  He had about 2 years to go.  He had a full-time day job, so he attended classes in the evening.  Because he could only take 2 or 3 classes at a time, it took him several years to finish up that missing 2 years!    And that meant that I was home in the evenings with our toddler daughter.

One evening when she was between 3 and 4, I had already put Ratchlet to bed for the night, but Mikey had not gotten home yet.  I was sitting watching TV or reading in the living room.  I hadn't heard a peep out of her, but suddenly Ratchlet walked into the living room.  This was unusual.  When she woke up at night, she would cry until we went to her.  She didn't do that too often, generally once she was asleep, that was it, unless she was sick.  Getting her to go to sleep was always a struggle, she wanted to stay up where the action was (so to speak.)  Once down though, she stayed down.

Except for this particular night.

She walked right past me and straight into the kitchen.  I asked her what she wanted, but she pretty much ignored me.  I followed her into the kitchen and watched her walk straight to the table and try to pick up something that WASN'T THERE!!   It was the spookiest thing I had ever seen!  She was kind of whiny/crying and mumbling.  I couldn't understand anything she was saying, even though I asked her several times.  She just kept mumbling and kind of crying, and her hand continued to try to pick up something, but there was absolutely nothing there!

Can I say that I was seriously freaked out??  I felt her forehead and she didn't feel warm, so no fever.  She had been fine during the day and I didn't think she was sick.  I asked her several times what she was looking for but I couldn't get anything coherent our of her.  I finally was able to turn her around so I could get a better look at her face. Although her eyes were wide open, I could see that they were totally unfocused.  She was looking at something, but it surely wasn't the kitchen table!

It finally hit me....she was still sound asleep!  Relief flooded through me.  Thank goodness, she was walking in her sleep!  I had heard about sleep walking and knew it was a pretty normal thing, but I had never encountered it before.  It was sooooo weird!    I have to admit though, once I got past the being scared that there was something seriously wrong, it was pretty funny, too.  Watching this little tiny girl, getting very frustrated because she could see something that she wanted but she couldn't actually get it, because it wasn't there, was pretty darn cute.

I got her turned around and sort of set her in motion back toward her bedroom.  She climbed right back into bed and was back fully asleep in about 4 seconds!  And she slept through the rest of the night completely peacefully.

When Mikey got home about an hour later, I told him about our little night wanderer and he had never seen anybody actually walk in their sleep either!  He was sorry he missed it!   lol!

In the morning I asked Ratchlet if she remembered taking a walk during the night.   Of course, she not only didn't remember it, but she looked at me like I was a little bit crazy!   I later asked my mom about it, but she hadn't ever encountered it either.  I talked to the Pediatrician and he assured me that there wasn't anything to worry about.  It was a normal phenomenon as long as it didn't happen every night!  That was good news.

For quite some time after that, I was just waiting for the little sprite to come wandering out for another midnight stroll, but weeks and weeks went by and she stayed put.  She was back to being a regular "Sleepy Time Gal."

About  7 or 8 months later, it happened again.  This time I saw her walking toward the living room and I could see that same unfocused look, so I knew she was at it again!  I was able to turn her around and get her back to her bed.  She climbed in and was sound asleep almost instantly.

And that was the last time as far as I know.  Her nighttime adventures had come to an end.

I don't think, however, that I will ever forget her little hand, scrabbling  on the tabletop trying to pick up something only she could see!!   And I'll always wonder what my little "Sleepy Time Gal" saw!

Stole this from Facebook, forget the "like" part, just wanted to make it clear:
my little sleepwalker will always be my Baby Girl!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Oh My Papa"

March 5 was my dad's birthday.  He would have been 94 years old today, but he died much too soon, in 1978 at the age of 59....34 years ago!  I've written about my dad several different times, so I won't go into much detail here...well, I'll try!.  

The reality is, like everyone else, my dad had his strengths and he had his weaknesses, but overall he was a good man who loved his family very much.  You can see it on his face in every photo of him with my mom, Little Sis, or me.  

He wasn't the kind of dad who played with me when I was a child.  He never taught me to sink a basket or hit a ball, though he did teach me to ride a bike!  He never saw me as one of the cheerleaders at a football or basketball game.  (Come to think of it, I don't think my mom did either, but that makes sense, she had zero interest in sports!)  We never went to a Daddy-Daughter dance or dinner.  In fact, I cannot recall a time when he and I even went to dinner by ourselves, just the two of us.  

He pretty much always worked the evening shift (some variation of 3 pm to 11:30 pm,) so he never came to see any school choir concert or school program that I was in until I was 17 years old (he wasn't working the pm shift by then.)    

Again because of his work hours my mom was the one who did the "raising" of both Little Sis and me.  There was never any of the "wait 'til your father comes home!"    Any discipline needed was meted out mostly by Mom.  

I do however, remember one particular occasion when I got yelled at by my dad. There was a day when I was around 7 years old that I did something (who remembers what?) that angered him .  He gave me a lecture about whatever it was, and because I was pretty well devastated that my Daddy was mad at me,  I cried through the whole thing.   He closed his lecture with a final thrust, "You'd better straighten up and fly right!)   I pretty much stopped crying right away.   Uhhmm....huh??.....I was 7 years old, I'd never even seen an airplane up close.  What did I know about flying?   How could I fly right when I couldn't fly at all??. Was I supposed to be able to fly???    I didn't know what he was talking about!  Dad left the room and I sat there for a long while trying to figure out he meant.  I couldn't.  Much later (maybe even the next day) I screwed up my courage to ask what he meant...but I was no dummy, I went and asked MOM!   I wasn't going to tempt fate and make my Dad mad at me all over again!   lol!  I was greatly relieved to find out that I wasn't going to be banished to some unknown airfield until I could fly straight!  

Most of the time I didn't see much of Dad.  Most days he got up after I left for school and got home after I was already in bed asleep.  Still, I never felt he was completely out of the loop.  I knew he and my mom talked each night when he got home and I knew she pretty much kept him up to date on stuff.  

This was brought home to me when I was a Junior.  One of the classes I took that year was Typing.  Everybody said it would be useful in college,   Our teacher was Mrs. Elspeth Smith.  I'd never heard that name before and it sounded kind of witch-like to most of us....and her personality seemed to fit that category as well.  She was a hard taskmaster and she had a sharp tongue.  I was terrified of her!   We were using big old, clunky manual typewriters that were left over from  the War Between the States!   (Ok, ok.....that's an exaggeration!  But there were OLD!)  Anyway I really struggled in that class.  It was demoralizing, I was close to flunking the class! TYPING!!  Nobody flunks TYPING, right!!!??  I hated it.  The essence of learning to type is to practice.  All I got was the 45 minute class on school days.  I talked with my mom about how miserable I was several times.  I just wasn't getting any better!  She had no useful advice but to try harder!  It was hopeless.  

About 2/3 of the way through the semester, I came home from school one afternoon and in my room on my desk was a brand new manual typewriter!  I squealed and ran out to mom, "You bought me a typewriter!!??" Wow!"  (I couldn't believe it, I knew we didn't have that kind of money, typewriters were expensive!)  Mom started shaking her head no.  I was confused.  "What do you mean, NO?"  It's right there!  
She finally got me to shush and listen and she said, "Your Dad was worried that you aren't doing so well with your typing, so he went and rented a typewriter for you to use for the rest of the semester, so you  can practice more."   

I was about 13 in this photo....
note  where my dad is looking....
So because my dad was worried about me, he went and spent money that probably should have gone to something else, to rent me a typewriter.  It was just the thing I needed and my Daddy got it for me.  I passed the class (just barely, but I passed.)  Thank you, Daddy! 

So today as I think about my dad, I recognize his strengths and his faults, but I always knew that my daddy loved me.   And I loved him.

I miss him still....

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Long, Tall Sally"

There aren't any really tall people in my Mom's family.  My Gramps was shorter than my Gram. My mom was about 5'2".  She had two brothers that were around 5'11", but her other siblings were all fairly short.  I don't remember exactly how tall they were, but all of her sisters were somewhere around 5' 1' or 2" and the other uncles probably 5'6" or so.  On Dad's side, he was about 5'8" (even tho his dad and his uncle were over 6'.)

I hit my top height as a freshman in H.S. topping out at 5'' 2 1/2."  I wasn't exactly a "Long, Tall Sally", but I was taller than my mom and my sister too.  I couldn't swear to it, but I think my niece is about my height.  When Rachlet was growing up I used to tease her that if she ever got taller than I, she would have to move out.  She never did think that wa s very funny, nevertheless, she topped  out at only 5'2";....a full 1/2" shorter than her place in our house was secure until she was ready to move out on her own!   lol!   I remained the tallest woman in our immediate family.  Perhaps that is why I never felt particularly short!  Because I had family that WERE short and I was taller.

Rachlet's hubby, T.A. is 5"11".  His dad was about the same.  His mother and his sister are both around 5'5" or so.  His aunts and uncles are all over the map, but none very, very tall or very, very short.  Just average.

You may remember that when our Maddie-the-Great came along she was a tiny preemie....only 1 lb. 14 oz. and 13" long at birth!   She stayed in the lower percentiles for weight and height for several years.  Nothing all that unusual, she was just on the low side of normal.  I never really gave it much thought, but I guess I assumed she would be on the short the rest of the women in my family.  I remember when she was first born, I was talking with an acquaintance (no one I knew well), and this woman told me her son had been a tiny preemie too but now, as an adult, he was over 6' ft.  That just confirmed for me that being a preemie only affects children when they are young and there was no correlation to being a small adult.  It didn't occur to me, that M-t-G could be tall!

Well somewhere about 3 or 4 years ago M-t-G began to have growth spurts that would add several inches to her height over the course of a year.  Her place in the percentile rankings began to inch up (pun intended!)
That was reassuring.

It's also a little disconcerting!  It seemed like she had grown every time I saw her!  Well, it finally happened!  When we saw her last weekend, she had grown again and when we stood back-to-back, it was clear that she was as tall as I was!!  There is very little chance that she will stop growing right now and never get any taller.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she nudged past me during the last week and when I next see her she will be ......(sob)....taller than her Grammy!  (Which means she would be taller than her mom too.)   She's still only 11 (6th grade) and won't even be 12 until April.... and she is as tall as a grown-up!  (Okay, a short   grown-up, but a grown-up just the same!!)

I wasn't finished with growing until I was 14.  If she does the same that means she still has two whole YEARS of growing left to do!  She could end up not only taller than her mom and I, but taller than her other Grandma and her aunt!

Either way it's pretty much the end of my reign as the tallest woman in my family!  Of course, it's ridiculous to talk about being the tallest anything at only 5' 2 1/2"....that isn't tall by anybody else's definition.   A fact that I am reminded of every times someone stands next to me and says, "Boy, are you short!"   Still, it was my one claim to fame in our little family, I was the tallest woman.

So our M-t-G could be a "Long, Tall, Sally" before long, depending on how tall she actually gets before stopping, after all kids are bigger these days.  But it's okay for her to be tall, tall women have a stronger presence, they are harder to overlook, and tall people have more self-confidence....all good things!

When I look at the photos of M-t-G when she was tiny, I am so grateful that with all she had to go through, that she is so healthy today.  Our double-miracle grandchild continues to beat the odds in nearly every aspect of her life.  I do have to giggle just a little though, we were all so worried when she was born and it took her 9 weeks in the NICU to grow to reach 5 lbs, so she could go home.  It seemed like forever back then!  I guess we needn't have worried quite so much,  growing seems to be one of her very best things!

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Sometimes in the Morning"

Any woman who has ever had a child eventually realizes that every pregnancy is different.  There isn't a whole lot of rhyme or reason as to what makes the difference either.  If you had a difficult time with a first baby, there's no way of knowing if your second or fifth  pregnancy will be difficult too.  Your best friend might have struggled with high BP and needed bed rest; but your sister sailed through her pregnancies like a walk in the park!  Some women cry at the drop of a hat or have mood swings that are world class. Some women will have crazy cravings throughout the whole nine months for odd things like pickles or ice cream (or both at the same time!)   There just aren't any guarantees that pregnancy will be good or bad.  No way to tell!

But most women (not all, mind you, but most) will have some experience  with the dreaded Morning Sickness!  Some will spend the first six months as sick as a dog, where almost all food is disgusting and all you do is throw up!  Some will only encounter it in the first couple of months.  Sometimes it can be so bad that the mom-to-be actually loses weight which isn't a particular great thing when you're pregnant.  And sometimes it never happens at all!

I was pretty fortunate with my pregnancy.  I was young and healthy and I didn't have any swelling, my BP was always fine.  My hormones didn't appear to be too badly out of whack, so my emotions were pretty much under control and I didn't gain an enormous amount of weight.  When I was pregnant, I actually felt pretty!  I was lucky in so many ways.  Still there were a couple of weeks when I was about four months along when "Sometimes in the Morning" I would wake up nauseated and feeling like poop!  I don't recall actually throwing up more than once.  After that I put some water and saltines right by the bed and as soon as I woke up I would have some crackers and some water and then just stay still for about 20 minutes and the sick feeling would go away.   I was fine for the rest of the day. As I said, I was didn't last anymore than 2 weeks for me.  The rest of the pregnancy I felt terrific.  Oh I had the standard back ache and eventually couldn't see my feet, but all in all it was pretty much an easy time.

So saltines did the trick for me!  But other women have a horrible time with morning sickness!  Most of us know of some poor mom-to-be who always looked a little green around the edges and couldn't get past that feeling that dinner was about to exit stage left!  Some throw up so much they become dehydrated and can't keep anything down!  And they feel awful almost all the time.  Those are the times when pregnant women wonder if going through all this is really worth it.  Constant nausea can really be demoralizing.  It's like having a really bad  stomach flu for six months straight!  Despite how lousy they feel, it is still pretty much considered a "normal" thing during pregnancy.

In the years since my daughter was born doctors and moms have gotten extremely wary of pregnant women ingesting anything that could potentially harm the baby.  That's understandable and a good thing.  For a long while pregnant women have sworn off alcohol, smoking, all drugs and medications of any sort, won't do x-rays, eat only "healthy" foods, eliminate salt, even go gluten free (which doesn't do a thing unless they are already gluten intolerant) and so on.  That's great, really it is.  No one could argue against keeping the baby safe and as healthy as possible.

Now back in the day of my mother's generation and before, there were very few women who changed their behavior much at all during pregnancy.  My mother smoked throughout both of her pregnancies.  If she had a headache she took some aspirin (not Tylenol or Ibuprofen, aspirin!)  Other women might have  a glass of wine or even a cocktail.  "Everybody" did!  And both of my mom's babies (and most everyone else's) were born healthy, full-term, and perfect.  I am NOT, of course, recommending that women do what ever they want during pregnancy.  There can be serious issues caused by poor diet and bad habits that can affect some babies extremely negatively.  What I am saying, however, is that sometimes doctors get a bit carried away with all the restrictions.

In the last couple of years there has an easing of some of the restrictions, not too much, but some.  And today I read an article that a research team in Denmark had done a clinical trial on the use of a certain anti-nausea medication  by pregnant women.  They studied a large group of women who would take this drug to control their morning sickness over a lengthy period of time.  Here's a link to the article I read:
Study finds pregnancy nausea drug won't harm fetus .

They found that the drug DID NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT  babies either during pregnancy nor did they see any sign of effects from the drug after birth!  What this means is that, according to the study, a pregnant woman having serious issues with nausea, morning sickness, vomiting, or whatever one wishes to call it, can take this medication to get some relief and they will not be harming their baby!  It is safe!  What a wonderful thing for all those women who suffer so.  The researchers indicated that they wouldn't recommend the drug for nausea that is easily controlled by other methods (i.e., the saltines and such.)  However, when the nausea was severe and uncontrollable this medication could be taken to relieve the severity.

The article did not go into great detail about obstetricians' reactions to the study, nor did it include any reaction from pregnant women.  Given the general mindset of women these days who will do absolutely anything and everything to keep from harming their babies, I have a feeling that there won't be any great increase in the drug's usage any time soon.  So many people don't trust scientists or drug companies or even their own physicians.

At some point, I hope that other studies will be done that will either confirm or dispute the findings of the first study.  If those results are indeed confirmed and the drug does not harm the unborn, I hope that the information is provided to obstetricians in a timely manner.  I also hope that those women who encounter this extreme type of nausea more than just  "Sometimes in the Morning"  can unbend enough to recognize that there is help out there and  believe that their babies will still be safe.   We'll see!

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