19


Little Bit,

You, my youngest, Miss Lizzy, Elly belly, Little bit, Elizabeth, are 19 today. You made sure to mention you’d be waiting for your birthday post last night. They matter to you. They matter to me too. Every time you turn a year older, it is the last time I will be writing a post for that age. Somehow 19 feels MUCH older than 18 to me.

You’ve spent a year in college now. You’ve come home only for visits. I’ve been out there to visit. You have taken new jobs and talked endlessly about them. I smile as you tell me about the senior living people and the work you do there. I imagined freshmen coming to your intro-ducktion and hit with the force of your personality while you talked up language courses.

You go floating down the Willamette. You volunteer with the safe ride program. You made friends and had relationships. You hatched quail to keep on your apartment balcony for eggs. You go running into life.

You care deeply about others. We took you to Disney World as a surprise for your birthday–a bit early while you were here. You were surprised. You knew that it was hot, high season, and expensive. What else were we to do with Ellen’s dream closing and the Great Movie Ride that you didn’t even remember? At lunch that day though, Sunshine got nervous that their lunch wasn’t going to be vegan, though the waitstaff took note. You called the waiter back and were going to order a veggie burger just so you could trade with her. I was puzzled, because of how the seats are in the scifi drive in, I didn’t know the anxiety part. I did know something though: you are a meat eater. A very happy meat eater. But, you were going to help out Sunshine, because you cared. You send Momal cards and notes. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to her. Both these things mean a lot to me too. You’re sometimes wild, grouchy, and loud–but the caring–that will serve you well. It makes me proud of you.

You undoubtedly get up to all sorts of things you don’t tell me about away from home. I get to hear shadows of it in asides. I worry, but I also know from experience that you will call for help, and when things are rough. You are good at that. I appreciate it. I know you have a good head on your shoulders too. You may be prone to the impulsive things and all the bad judgment of youth–but you also think things out.

You found a reason to make great grades for yourself–so you did.

You also are the best one to curl up and take a nap with when you are home. You share new things with me. I mean, I am sure that I would have never watched one minute of Ru Paul’s Drag Race without you. (Or you know–Hannah Montana for that matter) I definitely wouldn’t have gone to a Christmas drag show spectacular with Milk and the rest.

You love your dogs too. We could have stayed home when you came for summer break. You would have been happy enough with Skeeter. (She’s been ours for 5 years now) Buster even loves you. (and of course, you’d be happy to yell at Lola for face-licking)

Most of all baby girl, you bring an endless amount of love and joy into our lives. I am so glad you came into this world and changed it for the better. I love you.

All Hail Queen Elizabeth

Elizabeth, it is your birthday, your 17th. You know I know that because I texted you first thing this morning. Then you asked for your birthday post. Why was it not up? Err, at that point I hadn’t thought about it. You are the youngest child after all. Really, it was because I woke up to patchy, then no Internet.
I did think about you and your birthday ALL day though. (even while thinking about no Internet) I found a baby picture of you…without your siblings:

Elizabeth in a sling.

Elizabeth in a sling.

That was a bit tough to find. You were born in the digital age of cameras, but before everything uploaded automatically, securely (?) to a cloud.

The picture above is pretty much how I remember you as an infant, except the closed eyes. I probably took the picture because you were asleep. Novel! Your brown eyes were always WIDE open, watching everything. You were not even two months old in that picture, but you’d already stolen my heart. You did that during my pregnancy though.

You were the baby that I used teeny tiny letters to say I was going to join the Trying To Conceive board in testing. I knew I was pregnant already. But, no one else did. You were my tiny secret. Well, Ava might have known. She’d asked for a new little sister for her birthday after all.

But, there were so many only things about you from that first moment. Let me tell you about them:

  • You were my only induced baby. All of you were post-dates, but only you got the pitocin to get your way started into the world. By the way, I made Jim Bars the night before the induction to give to the nurses. They loved them.
  • I also fought a flame war while in labor. On Dial Up.
  • But then, later that day, I got to announce your birth on dial up to thousands–ok, hundreds of people. Your nurse from the pediatricians office remembered me doing that. “You were the one with the laptop.” It was odd in those days. But, my friends, needed to know you had arrived.
  • You were the only baby to sleep in a bassinet. It was a combo pack n play with a bassinet attachment
  • But you didn’t really sleep there. So, you became the only one of my babies to share our bed from infancy. Sure, there were naps here and there with your siblings–but only you were the attachment parented bed sharing baby.
  • You were the only baby with colic
  • You were the only baby that had her life documented online from the very beginning
  • You were the only baby who I put in the pack n play in the den in front of Barney and Teletubbies with a prayer that you would nap. You rarely did. Instead I held you while I worked, while we played with your siblings, while we went places. The stroller was for show or to push Ava and Rebecca. Rarely were you in it.
  • You were the only one who I carried in a sling. And, you were carried EVERYWHERE in it. I have another picture of you, well, I know it is you, at Magic Kingdom, on Dumbo, in the sling, with Rebecca beside us.
  • You loved to wrap the sling around you long after you stopped being carried in it.
  • You coined the term Breastbed Chair. The glider rocker and My Breast Friend nursing pillow were often our home when you weren’t in the sling.
  • Speaking of coins, my penny princess, you were the only child of mine to swallow one and spend a night in the hospital. I crawled in the crib like bed with you. Denise dozed in the recliner. They couldn’t fish it out, so they pushed it into your stomach. I presume you eventually eliminated it, but I never saw it.
  • You made the same faces in early pictures that you do now.

Enough about babyhood. It makes things worse. Worse? Yes. Because this is your last birthday before you graduate high school. I know you’ve heard me whine: “I need more time” with the bigger kids. But, really, I need more time. I want to rock you. I want to cuddle you. I want to tell you all the things I think you need to know before you tackle college and the grown up world. Yes, part of me is “Yay, last winter in Chicago”–but the rest of me knows that once I have moved into our new home–empty nest will strike hard. Really hard.

You are the child who has kept me on my toes for the last 17 years. The “normal” one–but never the average one. You make me laugh. You make me sad. You make me angry. You make me melt in a mommy puddle. Sometimes you do all those things at the same time. Most of all, you’ve brought me joy.

This past year has been rough for you for a lot of reasons. Instead of bringing more evil–you melted into kindness. You love to drive. You hug. You are sweet. (Yes, you still have that evil side) And I know you get up to more things that would make me cringe than you think I know. But, you are you. I love watching you grow into a woman. I love your tenderness for children. I am so freaking proud of you for going after what you want, even if no one else agrees. Your going to the job fair and getting a summer job all on your own, increasing the hours once you started, and being responsible and good at your job speaks so well for your future. I may have told everyone I know how much that impressed me. I am proud of how you speak to injustice–whether in your family or in the world. I am proud that you are taking the time to SEE and act on those injustices outside your own life. You are the smart one.

You are growing up. Seventeen. But, you will be my baby forever. Not just my baby in the way your older siblings are my babies–but my baby baby. The third child, the sixth child, the one I wanted, the youngest, youngest child. The one that not only walks around with my heart outside my body, but swoops it up and drops it spiraling like you did when you were doing circus. And now I’ve written your birthday post…and it is probably not the one you wanted. But, I can’t condense seventeen years of the awe you have brought into our lives into a few paragraphs.

I love you baby girl. I love you so very much. That never changes.

Anything. Anywhere.

I Facebooked…but should have blogged!

So here are the things I should have blogged:

Dog Newssickpoodle
Skeeter Bess–most beautiful and smart poodle and treeing walker coonhound in the world got sick last week. Really sick. She went from having some soft stools to shooting liquid blood out!

So, she went to the puppy hospital. (Blue Pearl , which I HIGHLY recommend. It is a chain, so check in your area–Skeeter has ended up there several times. The staff is SUPER. The staff is diverse. The prices are sometimes cheaper than our regular vet (who we do love) She stayed overnight, had bloodwork, ivs, meds. They tested her on food but since her digestive tract was empty when she came in–they didn’t get any fresh stools during her visit. We have been watching her like a hawk since she came home on Saturday for her to poop. Last night she did–it was black. I blamed it on old blood/meds. This morning it happened again. Denise called the vet who said “No, not normal. Take her back to Blue Pearl. Sounds like she needs the ultrasound and we will send her there anyway for that.”

We took her back. They took her to the ER part (where the pet people do not go.) and did a rectal exam which looked…NORMAL. But after talking with us, she came home on another med.

My Younger Sister’s Birthdaybirthdayshots

Mama coaxed me to take my younger sister out to dinner for her birthday. My sister lives in a nursing home and has considerable medical needs. She has gotten to the point where she can transfer to and from the wheelchair to the car and spend some time in a smaller “portable” wheelchair. (Portable in quotes because it weighed a ton and was hard to fit in the back of the puppywagon) So, anyhow, we ventured out with her and I was nervous. What if she got sick? What if she had a seizure? What if she fell? What if we did as we often do and turned into the sisters who act like they did when we were small?
Denise picked Toby Keith’s Grill for dinner. The drive there took forever because of traffic. Then the parking situation/driving up to drop off my mother and sister situation was totally insane. Add in the ACEN 2015 conference down the block and well, I was sort of a mess by the time we got there. (mostly the dropping off–a lot of walking for Mama. I’d left her walker at home, so the wheelchair would fit. Then I was pushing the wheelchair, helping steady Mama and carry her purse while Denise found parking.
By the way–the area it is in had some really interesting looking restaurants and entertainment options. It reminded me of sort of Harborplace meets South Beach or something. There is also a Outlet Mall nearby.

Then I got to Toby Keiths and wasn’t sure of the menu. Was there something Julia Rose would eat? Mama? Me? I also pondered the scantily clad staff that looked like UF co-eds and country music. Hmm. Why were we here? I did get a “specialty cocktail menu” mentioned on the main menu after asking after a drinks menu and being handed a beer menu. (Bleck)

The waitress was likely tired of our delays in ordering drinks. Denise finally came in. We ordered drinks. Then food. (Even after convincing my sister that it was indeed acceptable to order an appetizer for a meal) The brisket was good. The okra was good. The loaded freedom fries were good. Julia Rose enjoyed her meal. We all enjoyed our beverages. Julia Rose had held her meds–so we got the experience of sharing a shot together. (Birthday Cake Slice–some sort of birthday cake vodka with a TON of whipped cream and sprinkles–very festive.) The music was a bit loud but the restaurant wasn’t. Denise found a quicker way to parking and was able to pick us up with less walking. (though they made a pit stop in the bathroom which was quite a trudge to the back of a large restaurant) All went well and I think everyone enjoyed it, even though Denise was super tired.

Mama Sick

On Mondays, in a normal week, Mama goes to visit Julia Rose at the nursing home. She was feeling fine when she woke up this morning–but not long after getting to the nursing home–she texted saying she was unwell with tummy troubles and I had to come get her right away. So, I fetched her, brought a shaky, sick Mama home–I’d taken a chuck and nausea and diarrhea meds and water with me to help her as soon as possible.

She took a shower when she got home and was too shaky to get back to bed on her own. Scary. Especially since it wasn’t just she FELT too shaky–but actually was and I was definitely put into service to keep her from falling. That rarely happens.

Long enough…to be continued.

 

An American Love Affair

I didn’t get my license until I was over 21. In fact, I had already celebrated my first wedding anniversary before I was licensed to drive.

My children are curiously part of the millennials who don’t look forward to driving at ALL. Except for the youngest, she is chomping at the bit to be licensed. I love her for it. (even though part of me goes “her brain is not developed enough! Wait for 18!”, though there will be no waiting.

Ever since my first highway driving alone, I’ve loved it. Today, I had to drop Denise off to pick up her car. We technically have two cars, but only ever really drive her car–except now I am driving the car Santa gave to Ava that Ava has NEVER driven after she got her license.  I only get to do that for short errands. We live a city life. There is no highway driving in our lives really.

On the way home though, she got out of the car. I sat behind the wheel of the nice blue Dodge (aka Fun House Car) with a REAL engine and great seats. (yeah yeah the Prius makes more sense but whatever) It even has a nice sound system. Thunder Road started to play as I pulled on to the access road. 40 miles per hour and clear road. That is blasting fast roadway around here. I rolled down the window just a bit. Bruce Springsteen told me to let the wind blow back my hair. I accelerated and lost myself back into the strange meditation that is driving a strong car all by myself. The only particular place to go was home. I took the long way and enjoyed every minute. (even as the strange DJ said Pearl Jam was like as old as Buddy Holly)

Denise beat me home. She thought I had gotten lost or was dead in a ditch or something. I wasn’t. I was just being a girl who loves the road, who loves a car that loves the road.

No, the Dodge isn’t environmentally friendly. (though it does pass emissions tests with flying colors) It isn’t beautiful. It does have quirks and is old. But, it thrums with power, life, and music.

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