Thursday, April 28, 2016

Beloved Grandma Mickie

On Saturday, my dear, sweet Grandma Mickie passed away.

She lived a wonderful, long, blessed life, which is something we should all be so lucky to have. We knew her health had been failing in the previous months, so it is comforting to know that she is at rest and at peace now.

When I was a kid, I always loved visiting Grandma Mickie's house. She was always just the sweetest, loved having us kids around, served the most delicious food, and had such a fun house and property to explore. I loved hearing her story of how she met my Grandpa Perry - and later comparing it to how I met Michael.

She and Grandpa were pen pals during the war by a total twist of fate. Their church handed out cards of soldiers from their town to write to. My Aunt Margie had gotten Grandpa Perry's name, but for some reason didn't want to write to someone in his branch of the military, so she swapped with the ever-accommodating Mickie. They wrote each other, and when he came home, he stopped by her house to ask her on a date. I love how Grandma Mickie would explain in horror how she had just finished washing her hair when he knocked on the door, and her hair "was bundled up in a towel! A towel!" It was meant to be.

When she met Michael, I thought she was going to adopt him, so much did she adore him. Even when she couldn't see or hear much, she was so happy to be present with the people she loved. She was always making sure everyone had enough to eat, making sure everyone's drink was full. She just wanted to infuse as much happiness into our lives as possible, whether that was buying one of those dancing stuffed animals for the kids, coming up with little games to play or trinkets to take home, or giving a funny toast.

My all-time favorite was, "Here's to martinis, which I love the most. One or two, and I'm under the table. Three or four, I'm under the host."

I'm simultaneously smiling and tearing up thinking of 90+ year old Grandma saying this at Christmastime.

Feel free to substitute whatever you're drinking at the time, by the way. I'll be ordering a Seven-and-Seven this weekend in her honor.

She and her twin, Aunt Margie, couldn't have been much more different than they were. Aunt Margie was like the salty ol' bird to Grandma Mickie's gentle sweetness. Mickie was utterly devoted to Margie, and I can't help but marvel at the fact that Grandma Mickie passed within a few months of when Aunt Margie passed away. She loved her twin so much.

Even knowing that Grandma Mickie's health was declining, I thought I'd get a chance to see her one more time when we were coming to visit next month. I'm sure you can imagine how I feel knowing that I didn't really get a chance to say goodbye. I am glad, however, that my mom did, and that my Uncle Mike was beside her, holding her hand when she did pass. And isn't that the end we all wish for? Passing of old age, holding the hand of someone you love, with your favorite music on in the background?

To be honest, sometimes I feel unsure about what happens to us after we die. But it gives me such comfort to picture Grandma Mickie finally reunited with Grandpa Perry, her hair falling out of her towel, bouncing around her shoulders while she runs out to hop into his convertible. Her eyesight restored, her hearing restored, the strength back in her legs and arms. Her gentle heart, as full as it always was. I'm grateful for that image, and for every moment I had with her.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

June at Five

June is five now. Five's a big deal, right? It feels like five's a big deal.

Five is when she'll go to kindergarten. Five is the first birthday party that both Michael and I remember. Five is going to be the beginning of a whole new phase of life, when real school starts.

June is so smart, man.

These days I like asking what she learned about in the science room at school because it's the best way to get a substantial answer out of her. She went on and on about birds, about how birds of prey are fastest when they are diving, and how we don't have blue jays in our area, we have scrub jays, and how mourning doves are in our area but we don't see them much because there are too many predators.

I'm just amazed about how much she picks up after only hearing it once, or I guess just how much she picks up. She's always listening. The other day I was whispering with Michael in the kitchen about if we should go get dessert somewhere. When I next saw June in the living room, she asked what we had decided about dessert. Makes me a little paranoid in my own house!

She has a real instinct to protect people. When Michael is wrestling with everyone on the floor, she is constantly leaping in to deflect him away from me, or jumps into a protective crouch in front of Bennett. "No, come after me!" she'll growl in between barks. When she sees kids being mean to each other at the park, she stops what she's doing and watches. She went over to help Bennett when a little girl was being mean to him the other day. (I wasn't there, but Michael says she told him to go away! when he stood near her group and waved at them. He continued to watch them, but the girl came over and sort of pushed him. Bennett said, "No, stop it!" and June swooped in to help, but Michael got there first. I actually wish I could see June follow through to see what she would do.) She holds Bennett's hand while he balances walking along a curb.

Sometimes she's the loud one in a group, sometimes she's shy. Whenever we're on FaceTime, she vanishes and doesn't make much of an appearance. But she'll talk to grownups as if they were old friends. (Our adult neighbors listened so patiently to a lengthy description of how she prefers to eat her hamburgers yesterday, bless them!)

She has this flair for dramatics. Where she learned some of these expressions or their appropriate context, I'll never know. She's got a face for seeming truly vulnerable so she gets her way, a lofty face for when she knows she's arguing a case she can't win, an exaggerated eye roll for when we ask her if she knows how much we love her. "YESS!" The other day Michael was waiting for her to use the potty before bedtime and she was dawdling. Finally he said, "June, it's time to go, come on, let's just go potty." She narrowed her eyes, said, "I'm about to," and as soon as she started going, cocked an eyebrow at him. I laughed so hard hearing that story.

And her silliness. On the night before her fifth birthday, I was putting her to bed. Normal routine of reading books, then cuddling for a few minutes. Then I said, "Alright June, I want one more kiss. One more kiss from 4 year-old June, because I'll never get a kiss from her again. Tomorrow it'll be 5 year-old June." As if she understood how solemn my heart felt about the moment, she tenderly brought her hand to my chin and gently brought my face to hers. And just as our lips met, she...stuck her wet little tongue in my mouth."UGH! JUNE! GROSS! Why did you do that? Oh my goodness, what am I going to do with you?!" And she LAUGHED and LAUGHED.

And, really, that probably was the best way to get a last kiss from my four-year-old, because that is just exactly who she is right now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, June!

We had June's birthday party at a little party venue this year. This was our first time not having it in our home, and I have to say, I did love not having to set anything up or worry about cleaning or anything! We just set the date, told them what themed decorations to bring (Star Wars) and brought the food/cake. 

It was non-stop fun activities and games for the kids. We have been to two other birthday parties here before (which is why June asked that it be here) but they even included games we'd never seen because of the Star Wars theme. It was so cute!

"Jedi Training" with "light sabers":

Bennett LOVED the instructor and basically stayed glued to her side the whole day.

Had to show a close-up of this photo since I have the same pose from my own 5th birthday:

Time for snacks and cake:

And then more fun activities...

Don't mind the look on Bennett's face, he loved this and immediately ran to get in line to 'swing' again:

I love this photo from the very end of the party, with all her friends grouped around her, giving a cheer. June has such a sweet little smile on her face!

That night, we had our neighbors and some friends over for a last-minute dinner to watch some Final Four basketball. All 6 kids fit around our tiny picnic table.

Happy Birthday to my 5 year-old (!!) girl! She is sweet, gentle, sensitive, smart, funny, imaginative and silly. I love her so much and love watching her grow up.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Easter 2016

Easter was really wonderful this year.

We started off with June running outside to see what had grown from when she and Grammy planted jelly beans in the back yard. (Word on the street was that something would pop up on Easter if you watered them!) To her delight, she found this was true!

(Thanks, Judy, for planting the jelly beans! This was a really cute thing for June to enjoy!)

There was a quick hunt in the house for Easter baskets... And Bennett did NOT want to smile for a picture.

Then it was time for the egg hunt in the back yard!

June got the Golden Egg this year! I told her she could hand it in for $5 but she didn't want to because it was too special to her. So instead she just hugged it to her body for about 3 days.

We took a little drive out to Amador county, which is the lesser known wine region so close to us (Napa being the other, of course). The kids took zero naps, so we sort of crossed our fingers hoping for a good time. 

We spent the day with our good friends who also don't have any family that live in Sacramento. This allows us to hang out together on a day that is normally spent with relatives! We went to the Andis Winery and had a lovely picnic and some wine tasting. Shannon and I did a tasting while the guys fed the kids, then we switched. 

There were lots of little games and activities the kids could get into...some intentional and some not.

One spot the kids kept wanting to go back to check out was the far side of the winery, where there was an orange tractor and a goose who had set up her nest right on the edge of the parking lot. (Lord knows why, it was sort of a high-foot-traffic area!) Anyway, the goose was a little anxious around us at first but came to not mind us once she realized we were only there for the tractor and bar to swing from.

You can see the goose in the upper right-hand corner of this photo.

It really was a day about as good as I could imagine. Perfect weather, great food, the kids were well-behaved but enjoying themselves, chilled wine, good friends.

I hope you all had a great Easter as well!