Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Preserving Memories

I love pictures. My house is cluttered with framed pictures of the kids. I make sure and get professional pictures done regularly and I take an insane amount of pictures myself. I scrapbook most of them. I have books for each kid, for each year of their life. I truly believe life should be documented, and pictures are the best way to do that.

This week, I've been digging through old pictures. I started  when my grandma passed away. We wanted to have some pictures of her through the years to display at her funeral. I found almost 70 pictures of her in my quick search. Once I finished that project, I kept digging. My goal is to get them all scanned and saved to my hard drive, so I'll always have them. The poloroid pictures from the 70's have not withstood the test of time...they are cracked and faded. But I am so thankful to have them, even if the quality is not the greatest. Even better, my parents wrote on most of the pictures from my childhood so I've got a date, and sometimes even more details, to go with the pictures.

I admit, I've become a little obsessed with these pictures. While the little girls napped today, I spent an hour and a half scanning pictures, rather than cleaning house or folding laundry. It's simply amazing to me how much Lizzy looks like me. I always thought my kids looked like Kerzmans, but as I look at picture after picture of me as a baby and a toddler, there is no doubt in my mind Lizzy is my mini-me.

I also find it funny to look beyond the people in the pictures... the pop cans, the dishes, the carpet...they all bring back so many memories. Unfortunately, these are the things we usually try not to get in a picture. I'm guilty of cropping things like that out of the picture after the fact. No more. I will leave the Diet Coke cans in the picture, because who knows what they'll look like 30 years from now.

This picture is from my second birthday... my sister and I are blowing out the candles on my cake. I knew right away where we were. The orange table was a dead giveaway...we were in our pop-up camper. That picture brought back so many memories. Dad farmed and Mom was a stay-at-home-mom so before Jenn and I started school we used to take vacations in the winter. It made more sense to do that...summer was Dad's busy farming season but we didn't have livestock to worry about in the winter months, so it was a great time to take a vacation. So, we'd pack up the camper and the big brown LTD and head south. I celebrated my second birthday in Texas. I got a ballerina Barbie with a crown attached to her head. I remembered all this... by looking at this picture.

This picture said just "Slim Buttes", but I knew right away it was taken during our annual trip to the Buttes to cut down our Christmas tree. It cost a dollar to get a permit and you could cut down any tree you wanted. We dd this for years. I think I was in college before my parents bought a Christmas tree already cut. I remember collecting pinecones for Mom to decorate with, having snowball fights, and stopping at Reva store for a treat after chopping down what we thought was the perfect Christmas tree. These trees were never perfect...they were far from it in fact! But they had so much character.

Beside the album from the 70's, I found our wedding album. It's been 13 years since Brad and I got married, and I have to admit, I have not looked at our pictures much in those 13 years (and I've never watched the video). But today I did. I looked at them all, and scanned a bunch of them. I remembered how sick I was that day, how I probably should have been in the hospital, and how bad the weather was (we got married on December 27, 1996...in between blizzards). Still, our wedding was a ton of fun, and I've got the pictures to prove it!

There are more pictures, and more memories. Someday I will get all of those pictures scanned and preserved digitally, because it's true... a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What a week!

The past week has been filled with ups and downs.... highs and lows...good stuff and bad stuff. But that's life. If life was always good, we'd be bored, although more good than bad would be nice! Here's a list of all the "stuff" that happened in the past seven days:
  • Baby Morgan had her two month check up. She tipped the scales at 15 pounds, 2 ounces and measured 24 and a half inches, putting her in the 100th percentile for her weight and the 97th percentile for her height. Interestingsly, her head size is only in the 24th percentile. Morgan got a bunch of shots too, but she seemed to handle them just fine. Our family doctor confirmed what I already knew...Morgan is a happy, healthy, awesome baby girl.
  • Grandma Parker passed away. I blogged about this before, but it's still very much on my mind. The funeral was beautiful, a true celebration of her amazing life. I was a little worried the weather would keep us from getting to Gettysburg, but we made it (and made it home too, although the last hour was scary..the roads were super bad). I am sad for my grandpa...he is without the love of his life. They were married for 64 years. I cried the most not during the funeral, but rather when I talked to my grandpa. He read my blog about Grandma and said to me "Jody, I know why you write for a living". I teared up and couldn't talk. I am proud to have written something that my touched my grandpa. But I am even prouder to be Jeannette Parker's granddaughter. She taught me so much, and I am trying to be more like her. I've already remembered to send two birthday cards!
  • Speaking of birthdays, I celebrated my 35th this week. The day was uneventful, and that was actually fine with me. The kids baked me a cake the night before, but I had to make the frosting after they went to bed (we should really start projects like that a little earlier in the evening so they can do the entire project themselves!) Lexi woke everyone up at 6:30 (not the little girls...they wouldn't budge) for cake and presents. I got the best presents...Lexi and her friend Tess made me a scrapbook. It is super sweet...but I'm a little concerned that they think "listening to kids fight" is one of my hobbies! Jake gave me three pieces of candy left over from a buddy's recent birthday party and a dollar....wrapped up in three kleenexes. Unfortunatley, I left the candy within Lizzy's reach, and she ate it while Morgan and I took a birthday nap!
  • I got to go out for supper with some good friends last night. It was so fun having adult conversation...although much of the conversation revolved around our babies, who are three weeks apart!
  • We had our first basketball conflict on Saturday...both Lexi and Jake played at the same time, on opposite ends of town.  So we split up... Morgan and I went to Lexi's game, Lizzy and Brad went to Jake's game. I have a feeling this will happen more and more in the coming years. Why did they have to switch the high school girls' season to coincide with the boys'? Seems like a big headache for parents. At any rate, Jake's team won their game and Lexi played three games on Saturday...won two and lost one. She had to miss today's game because of her baby sister's baptism. Lexi was not happy.
  • Baby Morgan got baptized today. And of course, Lizzy stole her thunder...she started yelling "no" when Father Gene put Morgan in the water. Talk about an over-protective big sister! Cousin Jorja was also baptized today, and while Morgan cried a little, Jorja loved the water. Brad was honored to be Jorja's godfather and we were so happy to spend the day with family and friends. I really needed a "happy" occasion.
  • Jake learned what it's like to be a true Vikings fan. We let  him stay up to watch the whole game tonight...and he went to bed in tears. I feel so bad for him, but I'm afraid it's not the last time his Vikings will disappoint him. Brad explained this to him, and Jake is now thinking about finding a new team.
So there you go...the good and the bad, the sad and the funny. Life is good. I can't wait to see what this week brings!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Bittersweet Birthday

It is 12:16 a.m on Januray 20, 2010. It's my 35th birthday. It's a significant day... one I've been dreading for awhile. 35 seems so grown up and, dare I say, old. But now that it's here, I'm sad for a reason that has nothing to do with my age.

I am sad because for the first time in 35 birthdays, my Grandma Parker won't call to wish me a happy birthday. Grandma passed away early yesterday morning. She went in her sleep, which is the most peaceful way I can think of to leave this world. Grandma is in a better place. She had been sick the past few months and we all knew the end was near. Still, that doesn't make it any easier. I miss her already.

My grandma was a huge part of my life. I was lucky enough to spend time with her and Grandpa every summer as a kid. I would spend the mornings at the ranch with Grandpa and the afternoons at the library with Grandma. She always had Recess peanut butter cups in the bread drawer and hard boiled eggs in the fridge. I remember how she was always shocked at how much milk we'd go through when I came to visit.  I went to basketball camp in Gettysburg, spent hours at the pool and loved watching cartoons on cable tv (a luxury not available at home). I loved going to rodeos with them. I'd sit in the grandstand with Grandma and anxiously wait for Grandpa to rope. Grandma knew all the other wives and I think she had more fun visiting with them than watching Grandpa, yet she always knew what had happened, and what to say to Grandpa on the drive home.
As an adult, I saw my Grandma less each year. My life got busy, and it was so easy to tell myself I'd go visit next weekend, or I'd call tomorrow. I never did. I used to print out this blog and send it to her and Grandpa. I eventually quit doing that too, but thankfully, my parents took over the job so Grandma always knew waht was going on. She was one reason I have been so faithful in updating this blog. It had replaced the letters I used to faithfully write to her as a child.

Grandma was so proud of her grandkids and her great grandkids. Just a few years ago she gave me a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings from my high school days. She clipped every box score and every article about the Bison girls basketball team and put it in that album. She always wanted to see Lexi play ball, but never made it. She did make it to a choir performance. She was so impressed and talked about that concert for months.  And every year, Grandma and Grandpa made it to my kids' birthday party. They never stayed long, but Grandma always had her disposable camera along, to document the day. Grandma was always smiling and always polite. She loved visiting with my friends and my in-laws.

There are so many things I miss about my grandma. She used to make us Christmas ornaments every year. I have a box full of them. She loved magazines, and was constantly subscribing to them for me. Just today I got a Taste of Home magazine in the mail, with a card saying it was a gift from Jeannette Parker. I haven't been able to look at it yet. My eyes filled with tears just reading the label. Even when she was sick, Grandma was thinking of others. What an inspiration. I witnessed that the first time she was in the hospital too, after her heart attack last fall. She was so polite to the nurses, and even though I knew she felt awful, she cracked jokes and smiled. She was a very strong lady, and was determined to be a lady, no matter what.

The last time I talked to my Grandma was on December 27th. She sounded so good! She called to wish Brad and me a happy anniversary. We celebrated 13 years. And on the same day, she and Grandpa celebrated 64 years of marriage. I told her what a good example they were for us, and how I hoped Brad and I will someday celebrate 64 years together. We joked that December 27th must be a lucky day. I am so proud to share my anniversary with such an amazing couple.

Grandma Parker made a lasting impression on me and I will never forget her. It is because of Grandma Parker, I write thank you notes. She is the reason I love a good book, pecan pie and a nicely set table. I feel guilty for not calling and visitng more, and for not going to the hospital the last time she was here. But I also know Grandma forgives me, and loves me anyway. I know I won't get a phone call from her today. There will be no birthday card with her perfect handwriting. But she is with me, watching me from above. I will do my best to make her proud.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cold, but Creative

It was so cold last week, it's taken me until now to thaw from the 30 below zero highs we had. I tried really hard not to take the little girls out in this ugly weather, especially Morgan. But while staying inside is best for the baby, it's kind of tough on Mom and big sister. But Lizzy and I managed to enjoy the sub-zero days anyway. In fact, we got super creative and kept super busy.

We started cleaning out my dresser, one drawer at a time. Actually, we only got one drawer done all week, but it's very organized. Only five more to go. When we're done with that super-fun project, we are going to clean the kitchen cupboards. Ok, I know it sounds lame, but to a two year old, it's so fun. The fun hinges on how it's presented... there are many tactics.... I prefer the "I lost a purple sock. It's gotta be here somewhere. I'll never find it without your help". Works every time, and keeps a busy two year old, well, busy, for a few minutes every day. For the record, we still haven't found that purple sock. Good thing we have five more drawers to search!

When we weren't searching for that purple sock, we found time to make homemade playdough that actually tastes good (as opposed to the salty stuff my mom used to make when I was a kid...no matter how many times she told us not to eat it, we still tried it everytime...and it was disgusting everytime!). The playdough Lizzy and I made had chocolate, peanut butter and powdered sugar...what's not to like? Problem is.....the snakes Lizzy rolled out of playdough did not look like snakes, but rather like something completely gross. We still have the playdough, and maybe we'll play a prank on the boys with those "snakes"!

And, when we were done cleaning and baking, we even found time to "swim". Lizzy loves her bikinis and she doesn't care if it's 30 degrees below zero..when she feels like wearing the bikini, she wears it. The mood struck a few times last week, so we took it one step further and put a big blanket down in the middle of the living room floor. That was our swimming pool. She swam laps, worked on her tan, splashed baby Morgan and had a great time. Of course she had to show her big brother and sister what she got to do while they were at school. They laughed, and Lexi said "wow Mom, you guys are really creative." 

Yes, I guess we are. But most of the credit goes to Lizzy. I hope she never loses her imagination and creativity. Those are the things that make kids so great. It is warmer this week, but we are still hanging out inside (still too cold for baby Morgan). Lizzy is staying busy. We made a project this morning and now the coffee table is a stage. She is pretending to be "Hannah 'tana" and putting on quite the concert. Earlier she was playing babies. Her doll was supposed to be sleeping but apparently was not cooperating with Mama Lizzy. I heard her telling her doll (named "Just Baby") "you are supposed to be sleeping, Just Baby. You like sleeping."

Soon it will be naptime and I will get two hours to myself. I will fold laundry, unload the dishwasher and maybe sweep the kitchen floor. They are chores that need to be done, but I'd much rather skip naptime today and hang out with my super creative two year old!