Our youngest is one and he babbles incoherently most of the day. I understand a couple of his words like bah is ball and bubba is bottle. But the one thing I just don't get is why the kid cannot say mama. In fact, he refuses to. After all I have done for the boy - up with him all night, changing his poopy diapers, cleaning smeared yogurt off the high chair, the floor and the dog day in and day out - what does he do? He calls me Dada. My husband will point to me and say, "Mommy!" and the baby will look at me, smile and say, "Dada!" I walk in the room and he squeals, "Daaaaaaaa!" It could be worse since I don't think the baby even has a name for my husband, but I would love him to rest his head on my shoulder and pat me and say "Mama" just once. That would make me so happy.
The party was so great. The whole shabang. We had tons of family congregate for my uncle's 75th birthday. As I said a few days ago, his health is shaky so we all had an extra sense of purpose in being there, and, as it turned out, the bittersweet nature of it all made for better conversation, better laughs, and an all-around sense of togetherness that might not otherwise have been there.
We're a pretty varied lot. Everyone's interests, styles, and personal histories cover the range, and we have years and years of history and love each other, even if we don't get to see each other enough.
And we know how to make each other laugh.
Everyone brought poems and stories and props, and man was it was funny. I want a tribute like this one when my time comes.
At one point my uncle got up and talked about his relationship with my Dad -- how they've been close their whole lives, and as kids would team up against the world and always seemed to win. Then they sang acapella "Mountain Dew", a song about moonshine that they've sung since their teens. I grew up hearing Dad sing it, but had never heard the duet. We were in tears, happy and sad all at once.
Here are the lyrics --
There's a hollow tree down the road here from me
Where you lay down a dollar or two
You stroll 'round the bend and you come back again
There's a jug full of good old mountain dew
They call it that mountain dew
And them that refuse it are few
I'll hush up my mug if you fill up my jug
With that good old mountain dew
My uncle Mort, he's sawed off and short
He measures about four foot two
But he thinks he's a giant when you give him a pint
Of that good old mountain dew
Well, my old aunt June bought some brand new perfume
It had such a sweet smelling pew
But to her surprise when she had it analyzed
It was nothing but good old mountain dew
So, a little while back my 5 year old daughter (who is kinda in the middle as she has an older sister and two younger brothers and has therefore taken on the role of family peace keeper) called a family meeting. She must have been feeling like we needed some guidelines, because she said we had to make a list of Family Rules. She made a pretty good case, so I got a pad of paper and the kids started to tell me what they felt should be included in our "rule book."
I did not interject a thing and I have to say I was pretty shocked when, on their own, they came up with a huge list.
Here is a selection:
No potty words.
Try to say I love you as much as you can.
Don't ask for new toys everyday.
Always ask to play Gameboy and only play it at night or in the car.
Don't throw toys at people.
Don't kick Otis.
Family is the most important thing.
When we have the moments in which they actually go by their self imposed rules (albeit not that impressive in its consistency) it is a beautiful, wondrous day in our house. They feel good, I feel good and for a shining glimmer of time we have harmony. I wish I could bottle it.
On another note, I heard a great parenting tip last night. One dad wanted his kids to always look people in the eye when they were talking to someone, so he made up a game. Whenever the kids met someone new, the dad would always ask the kids after, "What was the color of the person's eyes?" It became a contest and you know what, it worked. The kids learned to shake hands, look people in the eye and pay attention to what the person was saying.
I love when I meet a kid who actually looks at me and doesn't look at the ground or shuffle their feet and mumble, so I think we will start the eye color game here too.
This weekend my aunt is hosting a 75th birthday party for my uncle. It's going to be a big outdoor event with lots of family coming from all over the country and one cousin traveling from China. We'll all go for a walk on the mountain near their house, which we always do when we visit them, and then we'll settle in for a big feast.
Everyone has been asked to bring a 'poem or doggerel'. My approach on this one is to gather facts about Charlie for a trivia quiz. It'll be multiple choice so the people who don't know as much about him have a shot at answering the questions. It's been hilarious talking to my cousins to gather the data. So far, the funniest one is how my uncle asked his wife to marry him. Answer, "Do you suppose we can hack it for the long haul?" So funny, and so out of character for him since he tends to be more formal.
But here's the thing. We just learned that his cancer has spread and he probably doesn't have that long. We all knew that the cancer was probably spreading, but now the fact of it is going to be front and center for all of us. It's going to be hard. He is a truly great guy and a big presence in my life.
But as much as I'm sorry we got the news this week, as I write this, I'm wondering if the timing of the news might not turn out to be ok. Maybe we'll all be that much more aware of how great things are right now, and Charlie will become aware, on a whole new level, how much his family loves him.
And the collective power of all of us together will scare that ol' disease into remission.
I've just discovered iPhoto albums. Oh man, are they great. I've got masses of digital photos on my computer, and have been worried that if something were to happen to my computer I could lose the photograhic record of my kids' young years. I've saved most of the photos to CDs, but apparently CDs don't last very long. We're supposed to copy the data on CDs every few years to make sure it holds up over time.
Yeah right. Who's going to remember to do that?
You probably know this already, but I just learned that if the CD is damaged in any way -- say a small scratch -- all the data is lost and irretrievable.
So, in other words, my backup system is pretty worthless.
In comes iPhoto albums. It took about 1/2 hour to chose a group of vacation photos, insert them into an iPhoto album album, rearrange the layout a bit and hit "print." Three days later I received a hardcover, beautifully printed book, complete with a large photo on the cover and a selection of photos inside, ranging from full-page prints to 2, 3 or 4 photos on a page.
Andy now thinks I'm a digital photo wiz and the whole process couldn't have been easier. Now that I am actually taking my photos off the computer and printing them, I'm feeling inspired to find the inner Stieglitz and use my camera to record my world. I might even take that Nikon class I've been thinking about....