Friday, September 19, 2014

Shopping Spree, Pearly Whites, and a New Hobby

After saying goodbye to Grams, life went on. Riley and I spent much of the next day together, which I loved.

After breakfast, we both got dressed and went to Toys ‘R Us to spend some of his birthday money. He was so excited and happy, riding in one of the big blue baskets down aisles brimming with new toys. He picked out quite a few things, but I ended up with money leftover when all was said and done. (Grams actually gave him a $50 bill, which I did not spend.)


From the toy store we headed to the dentist. I am a bad mother who forgot to make him go for his first official cleaning when he turned three, but I didn’t let it slip this year. He did remarkably well, sitting still in the big chair and doing everything Ms. Pam asked him to do, although he did reach for my hand at one point. I was so proud of him. He left with shiny and clean teeth and a new Turtles toothbrush.

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Next, on somewhat of a whim, we decided to join Nola, AD#1, and Aunt Elena for a late lunch at Houston’s. By the time we got home, it was a bit late for Riley to nap, so I let him skip it. This overjoyed him since it meant he could play with all of his new presents. He and Kenny immediately set to work on putting a large tow truck together at the dining room table.



It was a good day. The four of us were together, Riley had a smile on his face, and LSU won their game against UL-Monroe handily.

But with Riley’s new hobby firmly and quickly establishing itself, I am now sorely in need of a good Lego storage system. I think I’ve already vacuumed up one of the incredibly small pieces, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Either that, or Rory’s been eating them.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Less than two weeks ago, and just four months after we lost Bop, my grandmother passed away. She was Nola’s 85-year-old mother, and we called her Grams. She was actually doing quite well on her own after losing Bop; we were all so proud of her. But then she was taken from us, too, so suddenly and unexpectedly.


Grams went to church with Nola on Sunday, September 7, wearing her “Finish Strong” t-shirt and her black and gold fleur-de-lis scarf in honor of the Saints’ season opener. The two of them went to brunch afterwards, which had become somewhat of a routine since Bop’s passing. They had just ordered when Grams suddenly suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Four hours later, she was gone. Just like that. It still doesn’t feel real.


Grams was born on January 24, 1929 in Pontiac, Michigan. When her best friend's brother returned from the Navy in World War II, they fell in love and married. They had three daughters, and eventually settled in Walled Lake, Michigan. She was widowed at age 30, and three years later married Bop.


Her new husband moved her and his newly adopted daughters to New Orleans, where he worked in the burgeoning space program as America chased the moon. They settled in Metairie and had a son.


Grams’ last real words to Nola were, “You know, Honey, I think I’ll have a bellini.” That carefree attitude was just one of the things we loved about her. Her greatest joy was to spend time with her extended family buzzing about her, a sparkle in her eyes and a wide smile on her face. It was how she approached living: always with a sense of joy and wonder.


Grams liked to have fun. When she wasn't golfing, she was challenging someone to cribbage, or playing dominoes, or rummy or pinochle. When alone, she played solitaire.




And always, there were the bridge games. She taught her three daughters how to play, so she'd always have a foursome. In later years, she played in two bridge groups, and when there wasn't a bridge game going on, she learned to play on the computer. And she also usually had an unfinished jigsaw puzzle spread out on a card table in her living room, waiting for the next piece to be placed.




She loved her soap operas. She knitted, crocheted, and cross-stitched a lot. She always put tinsel on her Christmas tree. She loved playing the slots at the casino. She always had plenty of M&Ms on hand, as well as cold raisins for Riley. Her holiday cheeseball, mushroom rice, and potato casserole were famous.


She immersed herself into the New Orleans culture and was always ready for a party. She loved her Saints. Jazz music. Mardi Gras.


Her “Love ya!” goodbyes. “Get any on ya?” Answering the phone on Christmas Day with her cheery, “Merry Christmas!” Hugs, Grams: her signature at the bottom of everything, including her comments on this blog, which she read faithfully every day.


She was a wonderful lady, and I am privileged to have had her as my grandmother for as long as I did. I was her only granddaughter; her other four grandkids were boys.


I have fond memories of spending the night at her house, eating dinner with her and Bop and Jeff, and then making “ice cream soup” on tv trays in front of a show before bed. She always kept gum in her purse for me (and Jeff) to find, and she let me dress up in her clothes on more than one occasion.


The three oldest cousins collaborated to read aloud the reasons we all loved Grams at her funeral, many of which are sprinkled throughout this post. We also got together earlier that same morning and made Bop’s breakfast with a side of buttermilk balls in honor of both of them. I’d like to think that made them smile.




So now, Grams, it’s up to you to “bless our loved ones, near and far away.” Have so much fun up there with Bop, but don’t forget to look in on us every now and then, okay? And just know that we will always love you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Annual Friends Beach Trip

The Thursday before last was the start of our annual friends beach trip. Kenny took a half day, I checked Riley out of school early, and we arrived at the same condo as last year around dinnertime. (MUCH preferable than getting there at 10pm; I hope we can have that timing every year.)


Our first morning was unfortunately rainy with lots of thunder and lightning. It slowed to a drizzle just before lunch, so we did go out for a bit, but the kids were back inside eating before they even knew it.




Luckily, the rain cleared out by mid-afternoon and we had a great few hours on the beach before dinner. There was a very wide shoreline area, which was awesome for the littler kids. Riley had a great time filling up buckets and his dump truck with water and hauling them back to the sand.

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We didn’t make Riley nap at all on the trip, but Rory needed his rest, so Kenny brought him out later in the afternoon to join in the fun. Only Rory didn’t think it was so much fun. Every time his feet would touch the sand, he would absolutely lose it and launch himself back into Kenny’s or my arms. Funny since he didn’t seem to mind the wet sand on Friday morning. Crazy, frustrating kid.



Rory did accept being held in the water, although he was still a little whiny out there at times. Possible he was just remembering the sand between his toes. Who only knows.


Riley got along with everyone really well, but he attached himself to Jackson for most of the trip. He wanted to be where Jackson was and do what Jackson was doing. I know he can get a little annoying, but Jackson handled the attention just fine. They were even calling themselves best friends by Sunday.






We enjoyed a bit of pool time before dinner, and then everyone made their way inside to shower off the sun and the sand. Becky and Jeff made jambalaya for dinner, the kids had some screen time before bed, and the adults even managed to stay awake long enough to play Chronology.




The next day was a beautiful one, and we took full advantage. We got out there early and had three solid hours of beach time before finally taking a break for lunch.




After eating lunch and watching part of a movie, Riley and I got back into our suits and headed back out into the sun. Our wide shoreline was there again, along with lots of bright green seaweed that had washed in during our lunch break. Riley had a blast gathering a bucket full of it.






Once again, Kenny brought Rory out after he woke up from his nap, and once again, he freaked out when his toes hit the sand. I was sitting in the shallow shoreline water chatting with Karen and Bridget, so I had Kenny bring the whiny boy to me. I plopped him onto my lap (where he firmly curled his feet up so as to not touch anything but my leg) and showed him the bucket full of seaweed.




He loved flinging the seaweed out of the bucket, after which I would quickly grab it and throw it back in. This went on for quite some time, during which he slowly slipped off my leg until he was completely sitting in the water. Then he suddenly decided to get up and run toward the beach. I fully expected him to freak out like he had been doing, but nope. He was perfectly content.



He spent the next ten minutes running into and out of the water, splashing and smiling and loving it. Then he ran a ways down the beach, with Kenny following him. Stubborn, stubborn child. Where was that sense of joie de vivre the previous day, huh?






A bit more time in the pool (with margaritas!) before dinner and all too suddenly our trip was almost over. The kids disappeared after they ate, until I realized they were gathered under the stairs in one big group looking at an iPad. So cute. I just love that they all get along so well.


I am so thankful that we decided to institute these annual trips. They are just so much fun, and each additional kid makes it all the more enjoyable. We started out with just one kid, 3-month-old Molly, in May of 2007.


Now, seven years later, there were ten kids on this little trip of ours. And there will actually be one more next year: we recently found out that Miche is pregnant with her third!


She got her way after all.

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