IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘nana

Michael and Laura are a set. He looks out for her and she looks up to him. You do not take one without the other, so we recently had a sleepover for 2 nights at Nana’s.

They arrived at the end of a work week when Nana is exhausted but still creative. It is decided that the drive-thru at MacDonald’s followed by a picnic on a blanket in the living room while watching ‘Tree House’ is just the thing for supper. Success!

All goes well until Nana suggests a bubble bath. She has been to their house numerous times when mom has prepared the nightly bath and stayed afterwards for ‘good-byes’ from damp and sweet-smelling grandkids before they head off to bed.

But what is this? They are in the tub with bubbles and lots of bath toys that Nana keeps in the sea chest, but there are squabbles with “Michael, don’t…,” “Laura wont….,” until finally they are whisked out and dried off and led to the bed to a pile of books in hopes of quiet.

The reading goes well and two little tykes are finally tucked into Nana’s bed. She settles on the couch and as she closes her eyes. . . “Laura is….” followed by wails and “Michael took..”

This continues for some time; then one is removed until the other is asleep.

Nana is a slow learner. The second night is a repeat in the bath tub, but sleeping arrangements have been altered. Michael chooses to sleep on the couch and a comfy bed is made for Laura on the rug. They fall asleep within minutes. Nana falls into her own bed. Success!

Early morning brings Monkey and Fritzy, accompanied by Michael and Laura into the bed for giggles and jumping and morning joy.

During both days all goes well as we pan for minnows in the Sheep River, run around at the water park, have a picnic and share our food with a wasp, buy new toys at WalMart, and go to Playtopia where instant friendships are made.

By the time mom and dad come for pick-up with big smiles and eyes glazed over after two nights and days alone in their house, there has been a THIRD bubble bath with arguments and copious amounts of water on the floor and Nana mentally reminiscing about her own 3 sons with their constant spats when they were little.

When she relates the tub tales, dad looks at her and calmly says, “That is why they shower at night now. We don’t put them in the bathtub together anymore.”
Oops. Guess I should have asked.

~ ~ ~

And then there is the dad who takes his son to the doctor to have 6 stitches removed from his nose. He had fallen a week earlier and the handlebar from a scooter had torn through his nostril. At ER they gave him a shot in the bum and when he was suitably unaware of his surroundings, proceeded to stitch him up.

This time it was a trip to the doctor’s office where there was no sedation and so much fear that the doctor was unable to remove the stitches.

The father of this boy who had been brave all week but was suddenly scared, took him home and because his child said he would let him instead of the doctor, cut and removed those six stitches.

All things are possible with love. I expect both father and son are sleeping soundly tonight.


Two days with Jack is more precious than gold. He brought his own pillow, his stuffed monkey and his sweet smile. After sleeping in the car for 2 hours on the way, we got to stay up later than usual on Friday night to talk, cuddle on the couch, watch Tree House programs on the telly and prepare a grocery list for Saturday which included strawberry gum, Honey Nut Cheerios and pumpkin pie “because it is close to Halloween.”

We talked about his fireman outfit for trick or treating. Because he is so young I asked him what happens when we dress up and go to people’s houses on Halloween, not sure if he remembered last year. Jack replied, “We give them our candy.” I remember Michael taking candy out of his basket two years ago and handing it to the lady at a house after she had given him some. There are good people raising my grandkids!

We rearranged my living room. Jack wanted the little school desk moved to a different location to become his space ship and we opened the sea chest that I use as a coffee table to pull out all the stuffed toys, Fisher Price dinosaurs, books and other treasures I keep in there.

After a sleep-in until 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jack and I headed out to shop, stopping at the barn first to see if the little filly was out and about. She was nowhere in sight as I drove up, and Jack asked if he had to get out of the car. I said no, remembering the last time a herd of very-large breed pups wanted to eat him up with joy and that scared him a bit. He did like seeing all the horses, and one wearing a blanket was immediately identified by him as a race horse.

Then we stopped at the Chinook honey farm to see the queen and her court behind glass, sample some different honey flavours and make some purchases. Jack likes the little plastic bears that squeeze out honey for his toast, so I got him one to take home.

On the way to town I told Jack that he could pick out a toy at the store and asked what he would like. Without hesitation he said he would like a remote-control truck. Down the very first isle, there it was – a remote control long distance transport truck that made backing-up, beeping sounds and other motor noises. The rest of the visit found that truck and the controller within inches of Jack at all times, even tucked in next to him in bed the second night.

The rest of the day was filled with MacDonald’s, the playground, a hotdog and movie purchase at Costco, bedtime stories and then I tucked him into fleece sheets. He was like a little bear cub, all curled up with blankets right under his chin, barely moving all night as he soundly slept.

(While eating his hotdog, I cautioned him about slowing down and chewing more between bites. This came back to bite me later.)

His one concern this visit was “Sara.” “Where is Sara? Is she going to jump on me? I don’t want her to scare me. Can you look first Nana?” He was referring to Sierra, the beautiful golden retriever who lives on the ranch and is a friendly, affectionate dog. Of course to Jack, she is monstrously large and jumping up is a scary attack. I managed to grab her each time so Jack could head to the car and get in before Sierra could assault him with ‘love’.

This morning he requested pancakes for breakfast, then had a bubbly play bath before we headed to Playtopia. If you have never been, it is heaven to a child who likes to climb, slide, roll, stretch, speed, run, jump, bounce, hop and sweat! Jack goes non-stop in that place with a few quick breaks for water.

No soft drinks this visit, just juice and milk and a chosen treat today at Playtopia of Smarties. Jack counted them out, ate them one at a time, asking how many were left and then re-counting them as each one disappeared. He really knows how to make a chocolate treat last a very long and satisfying time!

The drive to Claresholm to meet mom and dad started and ended sound asleep. Jack had worn himself out at Playtopia. I turned the rear view mirror so I could look at his sweet, sleeping expressions during the trip.

He was very happy to see mom and dad and we went into a restaurant to eat before heading to our respective homes, each an hour away in opposite directions. Jack had lots to say and was the last to finish his food. When told to eat up because everyone else was done and it was time to go, he stated, “It’s not a race.”  This was said very seriously and with total eye contact. Oops.

Parting was not happy as Jack realized I was not going with him. He cried and said, “I want my Nana!” When tears run down those dear little cheeks, it takes everything in me not to sweep him up into my arms and never let him go. We had our hugs and I blew him kisses as he cried from his car seat. I am sure he was fine within minutes, but it took me longer to recover. I came home to a very quiet basement suite with precious memories to keep me warm until our next visit.

There is new meaning to the expression, “If I’d known grandchildren would be so much fun, I would have had them first.”

Today I drove 2 hours to watch a four-year old play soccer. It was Jack’s second time. The teams do drills for 45 minutes, then they play a short game.

He is a Timbit or something. They wear forest-green shirts with Tim Hortons on the front. The name is silkscreened on, but the numbers on the back of the shirts are not. You could tell whose moms had washed the shirts from the first week because their numbers had fallen off, including Jack’s. When queried, the moms whose kids still had numbers were not sure if they should be embarrassed because they had not washed the shirts after one wearing!

Everyone sits and gets their soccer shoes and knee-high socks on and gathers up their water bottles. When the coaches arrive, off they all go, down the hallway to the indoor field, while parents and assorted other visitors climb up into the bleachers to watch. We were far enough away that they could not see or hear us very well. I believe that is probably a good thing.

I remember when Jack’s dad played hockey at the age of seven and I sat right above where the team sat. The coach, Dave Liddell, at one point asked me to move somewhere else. “Mom, could you please move to another seat?”

David, who was the goalie, was experiencing interference by his mom hollering, “Fall on the ice! Fall on the ice!” when the coach was trying to direct some advice his way. From that day onward, when coach Dave and I would pass in the halls at ISS (we were both teachers there), he would greet me with, “Hi Mom!” to which I would respond, “Hi Son!” This went on for many years and puzzled students would stare at us every time.

I digress. We are at soccer, indoors and warm, not hockey, indoors and cold. The two coaches are changing the drills every few minutes to keep the kids’ attention. Unfortunately, they never did get Jack’s. He had a ball and he kicked it, rolled around on top of it with his legs and arms sticking out, stood on it at the side, talking to total strangers, and then set it down beside him while he draped his body over the movable divider between mini fields to have a drink from his water bottle.

The coach would periodically ask him to join the group, which he did occasionally, but only briefly. I was laughing so hard that I doubt I got one photo that is not blurry. It was like watching a “Who’s on first?” scene.

Ah, but then the game began. Both teams ran from end to end, kicking the ball and travelling in a pack of green and blue shirts. Jack laid on his back and looked up at the ceiling, raising his arms and legs, then stretched flat and remained motionless as the pack sailed past him with the ball being kicked along by several little feet.

The coach invited Jack to join a couple of times, but he was not interested, and then suddenly it happened. Jack noticed the pack at one end with the ball and he suddenly got up, jogged over, slipped a leg in to capture the ball and began running down the field, guiding it all the way to a goal. Both teams ran with him but everyone was kind of in shock, so there was little attempt to get the ball away from him. He scored, high-fived with the coach and wandered off to drape himself over the rubber divider again, pushing his bum into the air and his head down on the artificial turf.

I did not even get a photo of this momentous occurrence because I was standing and yelling, “Go Jack!”

This reminded me of a soccer game in Edmonton 10 years ago when a young (3) Tala Sutherland was a newbie at the game. As her dad Drew hollered, “Tala! Tala! Kick the ball! Kick the ball!” she noticed we had cameras and proceeded to pose for us. Kids were tripping over her to get the ball while she turned this way and that, smiling for the cameras. The good news, ten years later, is that she now plays competitive soccer and is extremely good at it!

I see that in Jack’s future. When he decided to play tonight, he was very good at it. I see fame and fortune ahead. Well, maybe just some good soccer playing with his family watching and cheering him on and many goals being scored.

Lyndsey, Jack and I went for pizza after the big game, with Jack sneaking extra black olives off the uneaten pieces. He had worked up quite an appetite at soccer practice tonight!

My two-hour drive home was warm and fuzzy with frequent grins and remembrances of several hugs before leaving Jack.  He is such a treasure!

I will always remember being there for his first goal! (Are they called ‘goals’ in soccer or is that just in hockey?)

“Nana, I think your boat is sinkin . . .” says Jack, standing in his hard hat, wearing fluorescent-yellow water goggles, with socks on his hands and holding a toy drill. This is right after he tells me that my feet are in the water and then I put my feet up in the air to hear that my boat hasn’t got a hope! (I thought hope floats!)

He is in the process of fixing things with his tools – the cat’s tower, the couch, the fireplace. . .  He hands me a bright orange plastic hard hat and tells me it will protect me from all the smoke. Then he adds black, heavy-rimmed glasses to my attire. Did I mention he has bare feet and is home with bronchitis?

Suddenly he verbalizes that mom and dad are not here and it is “just us.” “Just us,” he repeats, then his eyes light up and he smiles. That sweet face melts my heart and heals all that ails me.

We have read books, watched a movie that made him very sad and wanting a hug from dad, bounced a ball around the room and off the walls (oops) and over the ledge to the downstairs. He played his guitar while I danced. Now he is wowing me with his shooting skills. (We all have Nerf guns, all us kids.)

Jack is four. His throat hurts and he coughs periodically and eats his popsicle too fast. Then he cries from the brain freeze and the frozen lump in his chest. A few minutes later, he sings as he cleans up all his toys in anticipation of his mom coming home. “Where can that fire be? Where can that fire be?” he sings.

When mom arrives, Jack announces, “I’ve been working on the cat house!”

Today I turned 8. When you pass fifty, you get to add the two numbers together. Eight has a nice sound, especially since my actual birth year was before the invention of colored televisions.

Best birthdays. Hmmm. How do you rate them? Most gifts? Best party? Longest celebration? Maybe. But really, which ones leave you with the warm fuzzies and stories to tell of love and laughter?

Today I turned 8. Michael, age 4 and Laura age 2, picked out a princess cake for me and it was chocolate with chocolate icing. They sang to me and Laura blew out the candles before the song was over. We all laughed. Michael blew out the candles on the second lighting.

The day started with my youngest son Dean phoning from Hong Kong and talking for over half an hour. He had to stay up very late (time change) to make this call.  Then son David called to wish me a great day. I had an appointment to see a specialist about my thyroid condition so had to take the day off work. (It is nice to not work on your 8th birthday.) After a two-hour appointment, I met son Jim for sushi. Later we picked up the kids from day care and Laura came running to greet me with a hug and a birthday card she had made for me. It had a photo of her on the front from when she fell asleep in the high chair at Eva’s house. Eva, her caregiver, is a lovely lady who thought this would be a nice thing to do today for Nana. For supper we had hot dogs on the grill, chocolate birthday cake and strawberries, white wine and Nana got gift cards from Itunes. Woo hoo!

Little ones excited about my birthday, sushi and a grilled hot dog, a princess on a chocolate cake – what more could an eight year old want on her birthday?  Lots and lots of birthday greetings from friends on Facebook. Perfect.

Absolutely the most perfect birthday, thank you.

Intrepid woman is not a princess and wears crocs instead of glass slippers (according to Michael) but feels like a princess today. Proof that you do not have to kiss a frog to become a princess.

I woke up to thunderous applause in the wee hours, and now it is raining and getting cooler in our apartment, a nice reprieve from the extreme heat of the last few days. Jack and Lyndsey are still sleeping; David and I are having coffee and enjoying the view as he sits with his iPad and I with my Mac.

This is a most charming apartment. There is a very complete little kitchen, separate toilet, separate shower room with a washer/dryer, a large bedroom and a living room with a table and chairs by the window overlooking the intersecting streets below. Upstairs is a tiny bedroom with a skylight and it is only big enough for a bed, nice! I sleep on the pull-out couch which is very comfortable and Jack has a trundle mattress next to my bed in the living room as he wants to sleep with Nana.

We have seen no others in the building but there is a plaque for an orthodontist on one of the doors. Our walk-up is circular and winding to the third floor which was not so charming when we first arrived with all our luggage.  I am not looking forward to dragging it back down, but will be physically able to do it better after all our exercise this week!

The train tracks run across the way, up in the air, but there is not much noise from trains. The sounds come from the people. They are loud and animated and delightful. There is an energy and a positive vibe here that is unmistakable. I remember it was very crowded in China when we travelled there and the people were aggressive and non-smiling as they pushed their way through the streets, fighting for personal space, but here, they seem to have a purpose but are enjoying the moment.

Everyone is drawn to Jack as he radiates such an inquiring innocence. Yesterday he was sitting and playing outside a shop with a little toy, and a shop worker came out to talk to him. He looked up at her quizzically as she poured out questions in French. When she looked at me and said, “English?” I confirmed and then she spoke in some halting sentences to him. He is quite shy with people. Most people here have some English and it is not hard to communicate with them. Lyndsey has learned an impressive amount of French while planning this trip and is leading us through many conversations!

I could not be here with 3 more sweet people! This is a holiday that I will often reminisce about when I am back to the hamster wheel of life in a few weeks. I have such wonderful memories of Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong with Carmen, Jim, Dean and Kaoru in 2004. How lucky to be able to add France with David, Lyndsey and Jack to my memories!

Long, busy day working at my list of things to finish while new things just kept popping up and making the list longer. Passing the torch to others now. I am done. Finished. Over. I have a life that does not include work. It includes Jack, my little heart-song. Tonight on the phone he said, “Two sleeps” and “I love you Nana”. Sigh!

Good story: contacted the two winners of our photo show, young people who get a week at Red Deer College in an art program in August. One said she wanted to give her week to another girl because she was a good artist and really would love it. Tried to talk her out of it , explaining you did not have to be a ‘good’ artist to go and enjoy the week. She was adamant, in front of her mom, so I accepted that she wanted to do this for her good friend. Turned out they barely know each other! She just really admires the other girl’s talent. I went to the Arts Council tonight (who are paying for the scholarships to this camp) and told them the story of this unselfish girl. They decided to send her too, as well as the other winners. Nice way to end the very busy and somewhat frustrating day today.

I hope these two girls enjoy the week-long art programs together and especially hope they become fast friends by the end of it! That would be a lovely ending.

And that sound you hear is applause. My hat is off to the Arts Council for their spontaneous generosity. Passing forward is contagious.

Historically Speaking

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