Monday, January 31, 2011

Grandma's dishcloths

My Grandma Hollywood is months shy of ninety. Her tender heart and precious soul are now outliving her nearly century-old body. While macular degeneration, cancer, bone frailty, and deafness (among other cruel gifts from aging) have attacked her senses and mobility, the good Lord continues to give her breath.

My Grandma Hollywood can no longer read or drive. Though she lives independently, she must wear an Emergency Response System and she requires daily check-ins from family. Recently she fell while taking out the trash and she had to wait 10 minutes before mustering up enough strength to crawl back to her porch. One of the hardest realities of her 90 years is that she has outlived her husband, her son, dozens of friends and family, and her ability to engage in hobbies such as knitting, crocheting, crossword puzzles, needlepoint, and dancing. With the help of hearing aids, she can listen to music and books. But listening will never replace engaging.

My Grandma Hollywood will tell you that she's ready to go. She wants to be in Heaven with her husband, her son, and the mother she never met (her mother and twin brother died when my grandma was born). Selfishly I pray that my grandma has another 20 years. But that's not Grandma's prayer. She is at peace with her life. She is not afraid to die. She welcomes eternity with open arms.

Us grandkids joke that we need to keep procreating so that Grandma Hollywood has another great-grandbaby to live to see.

One thing Grandma Hollywood refuses to give up is her ability to crochet dishcloths. Many many years ago my grandma could turn yarn and thread into beautiful clothing, blankets and wall hangings. With what little mobility she has left in her hands and with just enough of her diminishing mind still intact, she manages to crochet dishcloths from memory. Every single visit from Grandma Hollywood is accompanied by a set of surprisingly well-stitched dishcloths.

And though I've collected dozens of Grandma's dishcloths, I won't throw the old ones away. Occasionally one will shred so badly that it no longer serves a purpose, and I sadly retire it to our compost. But that's the absolute last resort.

You see, each time I wipe a hand or scrub a counter, I think of my grandma. With every rinse from the crocheted work of my grandma's crippling hands, I remember my childhood. My obsessive use of these sometimes crooked-stitched cotton rags has little to do with cleanliness and everything to do with a love that only a granddaughter can feel from her beloved grandma.

You see, I refuse to part with these silly things because one of these days Jesus might decide it's finally Grandma Hollywood's time. And I don't think she can send me dishcloths from Heaven. Sure, I'll still know that she loves me unconditionally, but it won't be the same as kissing her thinning cheek or watching the attendant wheel her from the gate as I meet her at the airport or seeing joy overcome her as she hands me a stack of dishcloths that she proudly made using all her remaining memory, muscle, and might.

There's simply no replacement for the tangible love of my Grandma Hollywood. And I'll cherish every last darn dishcloth just to feel it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

These are the pictures.

These are the pictures that I look at when I want to throw in the towel. The days when I reminisce about how life used to be. When I could leave my house for a cup-o-joe anytime I darn well pleased. When my walls were covered in silence not ketchup-stained thumb prints. When multi-tasking involved expensive nail polish & DVR not moby wraps & a sea of laundry. When my lunch did not consist of half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and goldfish cracker crumbs. When coffee and Diet Coke were savored not survival. When my bank account always left me with an invitation to Nordys.

These are the pictures I look at when motherhood overtakes me. Because one day, those two babies won't look like that anymore. One day, they'll call me after curfew and snag money from my wallet and take the family car for a midnight joy ride. One day, I'll be longing for the screechy sounds of bickering toddlers. I'll crave the midnight cuddles that leave my t-shirt covered in snot. One day, I'll have to pull out the home videos just to remember how adorable chubby cheeks and pudgy toes can be.

Mothering two toddlers often gets the best of me.

And yet there isn't a day that goes by that I don't kick myself for not savoring more mothering moments.

Because these are the moments that I'll never get back. And these are the pictures that will forever hold my memory.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


At 23 years old, I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take a job as a Residential Counselor for Boys Hope Girls Hope. BHGH helps academically capable and motivated children-in-need to meet their full potential and become men and women for others by providing value-centered, family-like homes, opportunities and education through college.

For 2 1/2 years I lived in a house with 6 boys (sometimes 8) (ages 11-18) and two other counselors. It was the hardest yet most fulfilling job of my life. I miss the boys terribly, and thanks to facebook, I've reconnected with all of them (they are all grown up!)

David (DT) was one of those boys. David is an amazing kid. Highly intelligent, beautifully creative, unbelievably athletic, ridiculously funny, and fiercely motivated. Yet David's formative years were shaped by unimaginable challenges, and at 13 years old, David was often angry. My memories of David span from pee-your-pants hilarious to painfully heartbreaking. David has come a LONG way. He is now a pre-med student at Rhodes College (on a FULL academic scholarship), playing football and working as an RA. Can you see me beaming with pride?

Recently David blessed my family by visiting us for a week during his Christmas break. We had an absolute blast, and it broke my heart to put him back on a plane for Memphis.

David, Oma said it best the day after you left, "I really miss David. He felt like part of the family. It's not the same now that he's gone."

David (and Kirkland, Carl, Jacy, JB, & Paige): y'all are ALWAYS welcome here. I love each of you, and I am forever grateful to y'all for helping to shape me into the person I am today.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Oma!


Long before I even considered having babies, you were shaping me into the mother I have become. Not only are you the very very very best mom, you are also an absolutely unbelievable Oma. The sacrifices that you make for my kids are never-ending, and it is impossible for me to thank you for ALL you do.

Henry and Harper adore you beyond belief, and there isn't a day that goes by that Henry doesn't ask, "Can we go to Oma's house?"

The icing on the cake? You look like you could be my sister! No one can believe you are their grandmother, and I continue to pray for your genes.

We love you to the moon and back. Happy Birthday, Oma.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Christmas

After a splendid morning in Columbus, we headed 80 miles southeast toward the foothills. Every year Matt's family spends Christmas afternoon together, and for the first time ever, Matt-kids-dog-and-I made it in time for the Kelley family festivities.

Ah, the Kelley family. The matriarch Marceline, her SIX lovely daughters, and ALL their people. Quite the brood. The Kelleys are known for their cookbook worthy recipes, enormous hearts, country-chic decorated homes, rambunctious games, and of course, their unforgettable laughter. Get the Kelley sisters together and dogs run tails-tucked ears-pinned. There's nothing quite like a room full of cackling Kelleys.

And only the Kelleys can turn a two-car-garage into Christmas paradise. It was fantastic.

I was full for days.

Even Santa stuck around for the party.

And the decorations? They were also party favors!

These two spent hours playing at the sink.

I wonder how many more years before they can no longer share the stool.

Little missy was feeling left out.

Grandma to the rescue.

We played a fierce game of hot potato. DJ Marceline at the turntable.

She lit it up.

It was intense.

And ridiculous.

Would you believe me if I told you these were the DJs feet?

Because they aren't. But this is most definitely the back of her head. I promised not to speak of this moment, but I never said I wouldn't blog about it.

From hot potato to a hula contest.

It got scandalous, folks.

Would somebody please tell these people that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus? For the love!

It was a blast, and to think the weekend was only half over. The following morning we celebrated Christmas with Matt's parents, sister, and brother-in-law. The morning began with a visit from Grandpa's puppies. Henry captured the moment on his new camera.

The kids jammed.

And jammed.

And my piano prodigy performed her first solo.

Henry stayed glued to the dancing santa.

While Harper went to town on some pancakes (thanks, Uncle Joe!)

The morning ended with MORE presents because spoiling Henry and Harper is what our families do best.

And if only I could have captured this boy's reaction to this present. Auntie Kelley gave him a MP3 player with Buckeye music downloaded to it. All morning, Henry sat proudly with that darn music player, not once letting it leave his side. This boy dreams in scarlet and gray, I tell ya.

It was the merriest Christmas to date.

We simply cannot thank our families enough for a wonderful Christmas. Lord knows our hearts are full.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Morning

Does it get much better than Christmas morning?

Christmas morning 2010 did not disappoint. We woke up and began a new tradition, one my precious husband insisted on. Before breakfast or presents, Matt read the story of Jesus' birth from the book of Matthew. I attempted to capture the moment using my iPhone, but as lighting and sound would have it, the quality is poor. As you can tell from the video, next year we might want to serve the kids breakfast before reading from the Bible.

After spending quality time together as a family at home, we bundled everyone up and headed over to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas with my parents and sister. Look at these pictures and you'll understand why my husband and I have yet to buy our kids Christmas presents - ever (not to mention the loot the kids scored from Matt's side of the family -

After presents, we were blessed to have our dear friends, the Martins, join us for brunch. Amy, Billy, and their adorable son, Gregory, were to host Billy's parents for Christmas but Billy's stepmom ended up in surgery just days before due to a very broken ankle!

Could that sweet boy get any cuter?

Thank you, Lord, for another year of blessings. I cannot stop praising you for the beauty I am surrounded by everyday.