Monday, June 15, 2009

Sister & Brother

My Original Babies
Watching my two children together this morning made me a bit pensive, melancholy only with a tinge of sadness that they are growing up, or actually have grown up. I mean they are well past the legal age that defines them as adults. They have children--so you know they had to do that "grown-up thing" to get those children, my beloved grandchildren. They have jobs. They go places that I don't know about and/or necessarily have the right to know about. They still depend on me, but it's fun to watch them depend on each other more and more. The shift from depending on me to depending on each other is even more skewered! It's almost unbelievable. Why? Because although I have sisters (same daddy, different mothers) that I didn't really discover until I was an adult, I didn't grow up with any siblings so therefore didn't know anything about sibling battles. I now know that sibling battles are very very very normal, at least to the point just before blood is drawn. There were the usual squabbles when they were little. As they grew older and learned new ways to verbally insult each other, at times things were said to each other that horrified me and made me think "Oh, oh, that's it for that brother-sister relationship." But I soon learned how wrong I was, especially before I learned to not try to intervene. In my feeble attempts to intervene, they often came together quicker and somehow turned on me!!!! I finally threw my hands up and learned to stay out of their "teen-to-adult" squabbles and let them work things out for themselves. Somehow, and I'm befuddled as hell, those squabbles made and continue to make them closer!!!! The squabbles are few and far in between now. Thank God. And of course, as with all sibling relationships, it's always the case of "I can beat my sibling up, but nobody else better ever touch my sister/brother or it's on!" Trust me, I shudder to think of what my son will do if he ever gets his hands on his sister's recent ex-boyfriend (sperm donor of her two babies). And I've heard some of her thoughts about a girlfriend or two of her brother's. Unless it's a day they are both working or have other commitments, there's not a day that doesn't go by that Wesley doesn't come scoop his sister Debra up (most times along with her children in tow) and walk with her, go to the store to buy chips or breakfast or just go hang out! Yes this is the same Wesley shown teaching Debra's oldest to ride his bike in my previous post. Often times I get so caught up in my thoughts of my beloved grandchildren that I bemoan the fact that it seems like time went by so fast that I didn't devote as much time to my own kids. But now I realize, being the special little folks that they were (my own kids), I did spend a lot of loving time with them when I slow down and look at the photos and think of the memories. For instance, I have photos of Wesley at the fire station that houses Engine #73 when he was about 6, the same age as Khalil (Debra's oldest boy) is now. Oh the smiles on Wesley's face are priceless sitting on that big red engine, with the huge fireman's hat on his little peanut head (I don't know why it didn't break his neck). Well I will take my grandson Khalil to the same fire station and recreate those same photos, what some 20 years later. I don't have a photo of this next memory and bit of foolishness, but I still laugh at (and Debra still reminds me of this) my telling her that if she put a little pebble she found outside in her dresser drawer, that she'd have boobs as big as mine the next morning--she was only about 5 or 6 or not much older. The first photo is of Debra and Wesley when they were roughly about the same age as her children Khalil (6) and his little brother Aiden (2). The second photo, obviously when they were early teens and he, now taller than big sister. Okay, I'm done with this melancholy moment.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday Khalil

It Was Only Yesterday . . .
. . . that I watched you being born!!!!!! Where did 6 years go? How did they fly by so fast????? You talk to me now. Sometimes too much (laugh)!!! Like now, you're on the balcony with your Great Grandmother, but still talking to me. My bedroom is very near the front balcony and my window is opened. I just told you, "shush." You are loud. But, you have such a gifted vocabulary, using words, that we wondered where you learned them from, in their proper context. I told you recently that you could be the next Barak Obama. You said there already was one. I didn't try to explain what being the "next" was as opposed to actually being that person; that that's not possible. I told you that you and your family--wife, children--could live in the White House. You said you just wanted to be an Uncle. We have such interesting conversations. I had to chuckle to myself (and proud Grandma that I am, I didn't try to correct you either) when in the next room I overheard you tell your mother that she wasn't the boss of you, that I (Grandma) was!!!!! All your mother, my daughter, could say was that we were both the boss of you. Where the heck did you get that??? Was that in a Tom Cruise movie? I know that statement about somebody completing somebody else was. But you don't know Tom Cuise from vacation cruise. And you've never seen any of his movies. You love hanging out with your Granddad, Uncle, cousins, the various friends of mine, Granddad, etc. In your innocent little existence you often say you wish we could all live in the same house. I will cherish everything about you as you grow. But I will miss the innocence that all children lose as they grow to adulthood. I hope the next 6 years don't go by as fast.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Days

Learning to Ride a Bike
It felt like a summer day. It's not summer yet, not officially. But it was too nice to be shut up in the house. Well maybe I didn't have a problem with being shut up in the house after getting off from work at 8 a.m. If I didn't dive under the covers immediately, a few hours of knitting would have been okay too! But, BUT, with an 5-year-old Grandson who thinks he's a Power Ranger--Spiderman--Ironman, well you get the idea, it would have been cruel to have kept him in the house even with his favorite PBS kid's shows on. Having just graduated kindergarten, school is out. So after running some errands first, I let him take his scooter out and we went for a nice walk stopping first at Grandpa's to see the bike that he had put together for Khalil. Men! Not to my surprise it wasn't the typical bike, in my mind, for an almost 6-year-old to learn on. The brake is on the handle bar. There was no training wheels. But Khalil loved it and Grandpa and Uncle Wesley both took turns running up and down the block with Khalil in his first attempts to ride it. I've since talked Grandpa into putting one training wheel on it, like we did for our son, Khalil's uncle Wesley when he was the same age and learning for the first time. With one wheel, once he got tired of leaning and being off balance, his body automatically started balancing. With Khalil having not to worry about balance, he can focus on steering the bike and learning to stop, using the hand brake.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Short-lived Cynicism
As usual, before I hit my main topic of Celebrations, I want to share this epiphany I had. At the start of my blog I expressed some cynicism about blogging and the interest others might have in what I want and/or have to say. I think I think too much! First I like, and prefer, this type of "journaling" as opposed to using paper and pen because of the visual nature of blogging and the ease of editing as I compose. Secondly, it's not about the opinions (though they are important) of others, but the uniqueness of the interests and daily lives of others. It's another way of being exposed to new ideas, of learning about new things. It's another way of getting to know others in a way that doesn't require the initial physical investment of getting to know a "stranger." And, no doubt, the footwork is already done when and if friendships develop and step out from behind the anonymity of the computer. I was concerned about how often I'd post, or should post. It's about when you have something to say, when you feel like saying something, and when you have the time! But I couldn't wait to post to share the celebrations of this week.

Birthdays & Graduation
The past week started out with two of my grandsons turning two years old celebrated in a shared birthday party. Aiden and Camren (holding the big red cup) are my daughter's and son's children respectively. Aiden was born on May 22nd, 2007 and Camren on May 23rd. Camren wasn't due until July, but his little mother had several seizures and her blood pressure shot up which made it necessary for him to be born by C-section. Camren was so so tiny. Aiden on the other hand--well I've called him SAUSAGE from day one, and have done so, so much, until I've had to momentarily think of what his real name when folks have asked. There was such a wonderful crowd of family and friends to help the boys celebrate, from little cousins, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. I had to go to work that night, but the celebration made being a little bit more tired so worth it!

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten!!?!???
The day we've (especially me) all been waiting for. Especially me since I footed the bill, from tuition (making the last payment the morning of), field trip expenditures, uniforms, you name it!!! My Khalil graduated kindergarten May 29th at 9am. I was dissapointed they did not have caps and gowns but that was not a big thing. The children were beautiful, all dressed up in their Sunday best. They recited poems and sung three songs. The program was just the right length, thank goodness separate from the graduation of the 8th graders which was held during Mass last Sunday. In addition to me, Khalil's Great-grandmother, grandfather, uncle, siblings and one little cousin were all there. The night before my son brought me his digital, handheld camcorder. Without instructions!!!!!! He says to me, "Oh Mom, you have all night to figure it out." I did. Now I just have to figure out how to put it on the video section of my computer. So I'm taking photos with my digital camera with one hand and video recording with the other!!! Khalil thinks school is over. Ha!!! Until we find a summer program to put Khalil in, I literally have a "classroom" set up in the spare bedroom. This is where we did homework all year--a nice quiet place, an environment conducive to learning. So, come Monday morning and each weekday thereafter, he will continue writing morning stories, adding the dates to his calendar and practing how to say, "today is Monday, June 1st, 2009" as he points to the various components. He will continue to learn to sound out words, practice reading and math, etc. When my son saw this room, he told his sister (Khalil's mother), you go to sleep in this room, you'll wake up smart. But anyway, my Khalil received awards for handwriting, math and volunteering in the classroom, maybe something else too. I already have him registered for 1st grade. Is it too early to register him for Harvard, Princeton???? Probably. But I'm sure it's not too early to start saving. And, it's not over. Khalil will be turning 6 years old on June 9th. I've already printed out the Chuck E. Cheese cupons!!! My goodness, it seems it was just yesterday that he was born.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting Organized & Rid of Clutter

A Tribute
Before I start talking about organizing my space and getting rid of clutter, I want to pay tribute to my newspaper man Troy. It's been on my mind to do so in some way for some time now. Although I've only been in my apartment for about two years, I'm back in a community that I know well having lived in this area before. So it's like coming back home. But because I'm a few blocks over from where I used to live, new aspects of my community have come into my consciousness and everyday life. One such aspect was the neighborhood newspaper vendor who sold newspapers, rain or shine, hot or cold out of this little shanty of a newspaper stand. As he became more familiar with you, as a regular customer, his grunts of acknowledgement grew to words, like "you have a good day now," or he would honor your request for him to save a special issue of the paper for you. I knew he was old, but it was my daughter who made me realize he must have been really old. He was a tall man. Age made him move slow, but his build had not diminished like that of most older people who start getting shorter, sagging, losing weight, etc., etc. Plus, encounters were usually done through the open window of the passenger side of the car so I never really stood next to him. Then one day he wasn't there. Then the next day, and the next, and the next. I started asking the neighborhood regulars from the "upscale" to the "colorful characters"--"Where's the newspaper man? Anybody seen him?" No one had!!!! Not until my daughter saw the notice of his obituary in the window of the currency exchange a few blocks away did we know what had happened to Troy. That's when I learned what his name was. Troy, who had had no identification on him, had a stroke and laid in Cook County Hospital for nearly five days before his daughter had found him. I struggled with going to the services at the funeral home. I didn't go. Just wanted to remember him the way he was. Everytime I look at the special issues of the newspapers I asked him to save for me, and especially every time I look at the little lopsided, gray shanty of a newsstand he operated out of, I really miss Troy.

My Sanctuary
I love my bedroom. It is where I sleep of course, spend my quiet time, read, knit, spend time on my computer, watch a movie on my computer, entertain the grandkids with their movies--on my computer, just chill. The one room that I should have taken, in my apartment, is the one I gave my Mother (of course she doesn't want to change now, after almost 2 years)--the one that has the attached enclosed backporch!!!! That would have been the perfect, additional space for my studio, computer, etc. But since that's not going to happen, I've planned how to revamp my bedroom. But before I could even consider making a move, I had to get it organized which basically translates into throwing away clutter. Oh you won't see any photos here, yet (laugh). I can tell you, my computer desk is small but this is probably the first time you can see so much of its table top since I bought and assembled it!!! I'm no where near finished with my bedroom, but I've made such a tremendous start until I feel totally uplifted and/or like I've made some major headway. I have! I'm figuratively planning each wall space. Thank goodness it's a nice size room with wonderful walls. There is already the space that my bookshelf takes up with my wonderful books. The next wall is the one for my yarns and knitting supplies with a small rectangular table for my crafts. Thank goodness I don't indulge in many crafts like some of my more talented friends. I don't have the time for one thing. But knitting and counted crossstitch won't take up that much space. So when I've painted the walls, hung pictures and photos, then I will share my prized sanctuary with you.

I keep referring to my knitting. I've enclosed links to my favorite LYSs here in Chicago and other knitting sites. Well, although I do have many OTNs, WIPs, & UFOs (for the knitting challenged--On the Needles, Works in Progress, UnFinished Objects) I do knit. A lack of time is the single most important factor that contributes to my having so many incomplete projects. Okay, here are my excuses! I'm the only caregiver for my 90-year-old Mom; raising a 5-year-old grandson basically; still at the beck and call of my grown kids; and I work nights--at least I get to knit at work. But I do knit. Also, just like the "eyes being bigger than the stomach" syndrome when it comes to food, we knitters just have to have the next project, just have to buy more yarn, even when we have a ton of other things going on, on our needles. I have a large 3-ring binder of patterns I have pulled off the internet that I want to knit. It's no surprise that I discovered I'm not the only one who refers to knitters (myself at the top of the list) as ADHD!!!! But anyway I wanted to share a few photos of some things I'm knitting, have knitted, etc. The basket of pink yarn is for a blanket that I started knitting for my now 5-month-old granddaughter. She'll probably be able to use it for her first-born daughter. The blue garter-stitch sweater was made for Khalil(now almost 6) when he was maybe 3-years-old. I didn't know how to seam it. But I do now. This will now belong to little brother Aiden who turns two on Friday. This little blue garter stitch sweater is from Jill Eaton's book Big Fish, Little Fish, knit in one piece. It's really an easy, fun knit. I started knitting Kathy Zimmerman's sweater, My First Cardigan for my Mother for the 2008 Ravelympics. I suppose I could compete in this year's WIP category. Again, the lack of time knocked me way off track. But I'm determined. I've finished a few hats and scarves. I'll include photos of those things as time goes on. I don't feel like digging it out now, but the item I am most proudest of is a Brown Sheep Lambs Wool Sweater Jacket I made for my Mom. I had it lined and a small fur collar sewn on. I think it's a bit heavy for her 90-year-old frame now. In fact, I think if I threw it at her it would knock her down. But the weather here in Chicago would be perfect for it as opposed to the warm weather she experienced in Arkansas where I think she wore it a few times!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Last Day of Vacation

I know I was living in some sort of fantasy world to think 10 days was a long time and would not go by fast (laugh). Ten weeks would not be long enough for a vacation!!!! Did I accomplish any of the things I wanted to do? Not really. Not much. Not being at work was the only thing that changed. The rest of the responsibilities stayed the same, except for the days I "stomped my foot and said NO, I'm not going; I'm not taking you; I'm not doing it, do it for yourself!" So I did manage to get some rest, and some knitting in. But still, not enough. The weather was beautiful, seemingly perfect for what I wanted to do--cloudy, rainy days for when I just wanted to lay around and nap; sunny and warm days when I wanted to sit on the balcony. This is Chicago though. It's rare that the weather seems to do what you want it to, when you want it to!!!

I think I Jinxed Myself . . .
I mentioned that I hadn't intended to let a whole week go by before posting again although it seemed that that was an appropriate timeframe. But then, it's taken me almost a month to get back here to post. So, I won't ever mention what might be a proper timeframe again. Though I know it's good to post when you feel like it, I'd like to get myself in the habit of posting on a more regular basis and/or timeframe. I don't want to be like some who have not posted since, let's say, early in 2008 (laugh). The past couple of weeks were pleasant (except for some of what you might hear on the news). My grandson and I did not experience any more traumatic events as we did with the driveby shootings.
Mother's Day
I am blessed that my 90-year-0ld Mom is still alive and well. We went to church together and came back and had a quiet day at home. We spoke with my daughter on the phone. My son, one of his girlfriends and their daughter Julissa came by to visit us. As we all know, every day is Mother's Day! I hope I have the genes that my Mother has. I think (hope) she (and I) will be here until she reaches 100! Longer if it is God's will. I don't know of too many women who have had a worry-free life. You'd think maybe the rich have had a worry-free life. But not necessarily. Look at the late Rose Kennedy and the heartaches she endured. She didn't pick cotton or live the dirt poor, agricultural life of a southerner like my Mother, Grandmother, Aunts, etc., at one time did. Mom still has an indomitable spiritual and physical presence. I wish I had half her energy and all of her faith and wisdom. Because of her I got to spend time in the south with my grandparents on their working farm with every animal from chickens to cows, with cousins and aunts and uncles before landing in the big Windy City at age 6. Those were some very formative years for me and probably has shaped who I am more than anything else in my life. I look at my Mom at the end of her life and have to remind myself of the patience it takes to deal with an elderly person, and take the time to count the blessing of her longevity. It is a constant reminder to me, when I sometimes get frustrated with my own "grown" children, of how she is still here for me!

During my vacation I also got to go on a field trip to see Sesame Street Live! with Khalil's Kindergarten class. Deja Vu. I saw this last year with his preschool class at another school!!!! But it's always fun, fun, fun. It's great to hear the songs the characters sing set to music, say by Three Dog Night and others. I promise you, we adults have just as much fun, clapping and singing just like the kids. What's not to love about Sesame Street!!!!! And I always love riding the yellow school bus (and I wasn't on the short one) and encouraging the kids to sing songs that drive the bus driver (and usually the other adults) crazy.

Last Day of my Vacation

Ten days seemed like such a long time, though in my mind I knew they would fly by

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Week Gone By . . .

Under Construction . . .
I didn't mean for a week to go by before I posted again. But actually, it works out well for now if I post weekly. I'm still trying to learn how to do things to make my blog nicer; to get it set up the way I really want it (excuse my construction dust). But that's like waiting on perfection, and perfection is not something I believe in. I only believe in something/someone getting better. I used to tell my first grade class "practice doesn't make you perfect, it makes you better!" Again, excuse my "site under construction" mess as I add to my blog. In spite of how busy I am, I don't want to wait a week before I post. It won't be everyday, but a week is too long! Soon I will have my links to Twitter, Flickr, etc., etc., etc. And I will have photos very soon, within my posts!!!!! So be patient.

Joyful Occasion . . .
The usual happenings occurred this past week; work, seizing time to knit, get some rest, and do other things for myself, taking care of Mom and Grandson. Khalil and I spent all day last Saturday, and I mean ALL DAY, at our Chicago P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Worth Saving) shelter adopting a cat. There were two cats we loved. The one we didn't get was named Caitlyn, the fluffiest cat with the longest tail whom I believe could/would sit on your lap for as long as you would sit. She had orange (no kidding) eyes. But Khalil liked Hayden (both females) more. So I let him pick the cat we'd take home since I got to name his baby sister when she was born last December and it was a name (Olivia) that Khalil didn't really care for. I fought the urge the next day to go back and get Caitlyn. I didn't! But almost immediately, while we were at the shelter, Khalil renamed Hayden. Her name is now Sassy. I think he got it from a cartoon character! Sassy is so adorable. As soon as I can take a good photo of her I will post it.

A Sad Reminder . . .
I live in Chicago! Enough said. But we read and hear about senseless violence everyday, all over!! It really hit a little too close to home last Friday, April 17th. I picked Khalil up from school; driving, I made two right turns which put us on a busy main (79th) street. Minutes after going through the intersection there was gunfire. I'd made the decision to continue on to the McDonalds rather than stop at Burger King. I'd made the decision to stay on the bumper of a vehicle in front of me to get through a yellow light. Had we gone to Burger King and/or waited for the next green light we might have either witnessed the shootings and/or been in the line of fire. While we were waiting to pay for our McDonald purchases, we heard what we thought were firecrackers; saw kids running. Then with the rising voices, sirens (which came quick) realized it was gunfire. By the time we got our food and pulled out of McDonalds, I saw one boy on the ground, being held up in a sitting position, blood streaming from his face---so much blood---onto his arm, chest, etc. This 19-year-old got shot in the eye. He survived, I later learned. I also later learned that another boy was killed near the Burger King in the same shooting. I drove back around to Khalil's school and told the adults to redirect children (and parents) who might be walking that way. Father Bob mentioned the senseless violence during family Mass on Sunday.

Life Goes On . . .
Obviously a bit more cautiously, warily . . . Reminders everyday of how short life can be, how precious life is, but how we still have to tackle life head on! Isn't it great to be a part of the bunch who appreciates life, how precious it is, and not a part of those who don't value life. The dichotomy (if this is the right word) of two events---one speaking of life and it's simple life-affirming act/joy of getting a pet, and one speaking of life not being valued (the shootings) is not lost on me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beginnings . . .

Well here I am! Finally. I've always wanted to blog, but blogs just seemed to be so self-serving; the epitome of putting one's EGO on the proverbial pedestal. Blogs would have gone over well during the Me Generation of the 70s, 80s, & 90s. I mean, with millions of Blogs already out there, and more to come, who but your friends are going to want to read them, I ask? What makes me think that what I have to say will be so compelling (laugh) that my Blog will be the "must read first" of each day. Those already exist, by the way. But there is a wonderful appeal to blogging I have to admit. It can be therapeutic. Also, who knows? Maybe someone will pick up on it and want to create a sit-com based on a blog. Mine specifically, thank you. There's some sit-com coming out (saw it on Oprah) about Motherhood, based on a trio of clever Moms who blogged about being Moms. I mean who sees this stuff, out of millions of blogs, for them to tap into a blog and create a show around it???? Okay! But without us Grandmothers, there'd be no Mommies or Grandkids!!!! So hello. I hope substantial reference on this show to come is made about Grandmothers. If not, then MY BLOG should be the kickoff for such a show.

This leads me to the title of my Blog. I bet you were dying to know. A few days ago, while I was waiting for my 90-year-old Mother to get dressed so I could take her to the doctor, I decided to knit a few rows on a little Debbie Bliss designed jacket that I'm making for my Granddaughter Olivia (who's probably outgrown it at 4 months). Khalil, my 5-year-old Grandson and Olivia's big brother, was blowing bubbles and must have said to me with each bubble, "Look Gran'Ma." Those words stuck!!!! Like some Pavlovian signalled response, I stopped each time and gave him my full attention. Then my brain droppings expanded to think how symbolic his words were for ALL of the interruptions (large and small, wanted or unwanted) in my life that kept me from fully devoting time to the things that I love to do, things that are stress-busters, blah blah blah! So that is why my blog is titled "Look Gran'Ma." Enjoy