Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In The Blink Of An Eye

The last four or five days have been a blur.  Between shopping and cooking and preparing for the arrival of our granddaughters, and then being caught in the maelstrom of activity two little girls can create, I'm sitting here at my desk wondering what the heck happened, and how could it all be over with so soon?  It started peacefully enough, watching my daughter, her husband, and Mia and Hayden walk into church to come sit by us.  Mia shyly waved at L and whispered "Hi Papa."  Hayden wanted to sit on my lap.  It was so nice to have them here at last!
After church Mia was ready to hit the road.  Sadly for her, Katie had a lot of people she wanted to say hello to.  She grew up in this area, and there are still a lot of families who were excited to see her and the girls.  I'm sure Zach was ready to hit the road with Mia, though, as he doesn't know anyone - but he was a good sport who knows that trying to get Katie to stop visiting is an exercise in futility.  She is a social animal.
At last we made it out to the car, much to Mia's immense relief.  We got home and got comfy, got out the toys, and of course, that meant the fairy castle.  Mia remembers all of the toys, but Hayden doesn't really have a memory of them - it was all a new treasure trove for her.  I did have one new item I'd bought: a foam hopscotch game that fits together like a puzzle.  The top square is a kitten face, and the whole game is a girly pink.  We fit the pieces together in the living room, and Mia practiced her hopscotch, which she said is her very favorite game at school.  Hayden hopped along like a little frog right behind her.

Hayden thinking what other trouble she can get into.

I was in the kitchen trying to chop and dice and stir.  After awhile I noticed that it was very quiet out in the living room.  The girls were gone, and when I asked where they were, Katie said that L had taken them up to his office.  When we went up to check, Mia was sitting at L's second desk coloring away on some Strawberry shortcake coloring pages that L/Papa had downloaded and printed out for her.  Hayden was also busy coloring pages.  Mia told us that she was an "artist of coloring" and that her Papa was an "artist of rooms" - presumably because his office is so nice.  Every so often, L would let them strum his electric guitar a little bit, and then they'd go back to coloring.  He kept them busy for a couple of hours - it was heaven!  I was able to get dinner completely finished while he kept them occupied.
My parents came over for dinner as well - it was their 60th wedding anniversary, but they never get to have the day to themselves because it is also Scott's birthday - and he and Ashley (or as Mia calls her: Aunt Ash-a-lee) also came to dinner.  It was one of the best family dinners I've ever had.  Everyone had fun, no one cried, the food was good.  It was so good to see Katie and Zach, and Scott and Ashley being able to enjoy being together.  I think that's what I miss the most with the kids all spread out -  everyone being together and having fun.  It rarely happens anymore.  Even L was having a good time.  He usually retreats to his office when we have a house full, but this time he stayed downstairs and visited with Zach and my dad.
Katie and Zach were hoping for a little "alone time" and were hoping that both of the girls would spend the night.  Wild horses couldn't have kept Mia from staying over, but Hayden was iffy.  We got her bathed and settled in watching a movie, and I thought she would settle in, but all of a sudden she started to scream that her "bum hurt."  I called Katie to ask what that means, and Katie told me she had a bad diaper rash.  I tried to check her diaper and could see she'd had a "blowout" but she wasn't about to let me do anything about it - she was screaming by this point.  Yes, yes - I know I'm the adult here, but have you ever tried to subdue a screaming 2 year old who has a bad diaper rash?  It would have taken L to hold her still while I tried to keep the crap contained - literally - to the diaper.  I just really didn't want her to go away with a memory of being held down by the two of us, so Katie turned around and came to get her.   Hayden is only 2 1/2 - and she wasn't really having the idea of spending the night.  So, sadly for Katie and Zach, off she went with them, and we settled Mia in for the night.  When I checked on her 5 minutes later, she was out cold.  It was a beautiful thing, because I really needed to put my feet up and just chill out.  Pretending, playing fairies and unicorns, and quieting screaming toddlers kind of takes it out of you when you're not used to it.
The next day Katie and Zach were taking the girls to Disneyland, and Aunt Ash-a-lee was going too.  I kept wishing I was going, but I knew I'd never last as long as they would.  And then I'd get crabby and turn into a martyr.  Better that they just go and have the best and longest day possible because Disneyland is obscenely expensive.  It's disgusting, really, what it costs to get it, but I won't go off on that tangent.
Mia got up and I made her pancakes and bacon (she doesn't like eggs, she said) and she poured her own syrup on her pancakes and dipped her bacon in syrup.  A little gourmet.  A little while later she was hungry again and had a few blueberries and a strawberry smoothie.  We went out on the porch to wait for her mom and dad.  And Aunt Ash-a-lee.

Mia contemplating meeting Disney princesses.

At last, they arrived, and everyone was off.  Quiet house.  Too quiet.  I had a hard time working, but in a sense it was good to have a little time off to recoup.  They went straight to their hotel after their big day of meeting princesses and riding Dumbo and Splash Mountain (Seriously!  Mia sat in the front seat, got soaked and LOVED it!)  Hayden's favorite thing was the carousel.  They each got to choose a toy as a souvenir.  Mia chose the new Brave princess doll, and Hayden chose a Brave playset with several little figurines.  (Brave is the new Disney animated feature due out June22nd for all of you who don't have little ones about and/or don't watch TV)
Tuesday I was lucky enough to not have a lot of work to do, so I didn't feel bad about spending the day with the gang.  We went to Huntington Beach and spent a little time just walking around, shopping, and having some lunch at Wahoo's (fish tacos!)  The girls just wanted to go to the beach so we walked across PCH and hit the sand.
Hayden headed straight for the water.  Waves kept hitting her, knocking her down, and she'd roll and tumble and come up laughing.  Tough kid, that one.  Zach finally had to drag her out and dry her off.

I stayed up on the dry sand with Mia.  We were collecting small shells, and digging in the sand.  The water was a little too cold for her liking so she was happy to stay up with me.  It struck me that she is getting her mother's long legs.  Brought me right back to when Katie was small.

Mia - our little beach baby.

After everyone was dried off we walked back to the car and drove to Balboa Island for frozen bananas.  By that time Hayden was dead to the world but Mia wanted one.  Katie and Zach got out to order them and Mia stayed in the car with me and spelled words for me.  "Cat"  "Bat" "Can" "Man" - she is getting to be quite the reader and speller.  She discovered that she loves frozen bananas with sprinkles.
From there we went back to the hotel for baths and a little rest.  Family pictures at 6:00 - we were meeting Katie's friend Michelle down in San Juan Capistrano for a little photo shoot and Katie was working very hard to make sure everyone looked perfect.  I remembered how hard it is to get a good family picture when you have a 2 year old, and I kind of felt sorry for her.  Hayden was up to no good from the very beginning.
She refused to wear the beautiful hair clip Katie had ordered for her.  She insisted on blowing raspberries, arching her back, throwing gravel - anything she could do besides pose for pictures.  Photographer Michelle was really working it, and I was feeling sorry for her as well.  In the end, Michelle being the genius she is, and Katie being just as stubborn as Hayden is, there were enough good shots to choose from.  Here's a small sample: Mia looking lovely, and Hayden with her hair in her eyes.
Mia trying to contain Hayden.  Hayden doing her best to escape.  So naughty.

At one point, Hayden started hitting Mia and when Zach told her to say she was sorry she said "No. I don't care."  So you see what we were up against.  Once 2 year olds hit the wall, there's just nowhere to go.  Michelle looked none the worse for wear, but I felt absolutely wiped out trying to make an ornery little girl wear a hair clip and/or sit still and smile.  Once back in the car, however, the sunny disposition returned and we giggled and laughed all the way back to the hotel.
L/Papa met us there to say goodbye to the girls, and we spent a little while playing with them and their new Disney toys, and loving them up.  It's always so hard for me to say goodbye to my girl Katie too.  It seems that we never quite have that girl time for just us and it always leaves us feeling that we need more.  As I walked away Mia ran to me and gave me a hug, and then Hayden ran over on her little legs yelling "Huggies!  Huggies!"
It was a sweet few days.  I haven't even begun to tell all of the sweet little things that were said and done.  I think one of my favorite things was seeing L spending time with the girls and enjoying his role as "Papa."  I love the feel of tiny hands in mine, and soft cheeks to smooch on.  I looked at the clock this morning as their plane took off, and I felt like my heart was going with them.  They're off to Arizona for a week with Zach's family, and then it's home to Worcester.  Katie said Mia told her that I'm the best grandma.  And that's just about the best thing anyone has ever said about me.

Huntington Beach Pier


  1. Oh Karen,
    My heart as soaring with yours as you told this story and catapulted to the ground with their departure. It does all go way to fast and yet it is so very exhausting! After watching Lily all by myself the other day I reported to my husband that indeed they give children to the young for a very good reason! Hayden and Lily seem to both be at the 'oppositional' stage. Fun and funny but makes for creative parenting/grandparenting!
    I hope you and Katie get to work in some alone time next visit...I really felt for you there. I love all the names of the places in your area...they all sound so romantic and delightful! San Juan Capistrano...Balboa! Luuuvvvvv!
    Sounds like L was a great Papa and wonderful help!

  2. Hi, karen! Although taxing and tiring, the days spent with your granddaughters were priceless. I'm the kind of man who typically retreats to a private, quiet spot to escape the mayhem during family gatherings that involve screaming children, but lately I've been working on that and I admire your husband for staying in the trenches. These new pictures of the little ones reinforce my previous assertion that they will be a force in the years to come. There is an abundance of wisdom, intelligence, intensity and personal power in those eyes. It's easy to age progress Mia into a 40 year old. Incredible! I know how you must miss all of them while you're apart. I feel your pain. Yet, you can be thankful for having such a lovely family in the first place, something many others do not have, and for completing a very successful family visit filled with love and laughter. Together you produced golden memories that will last a lifetime and some of the best are preserved here on your blog in words and pictures.

  3. What a wonderful time with the kids! I love the statement "When a two year old hits the wall" I love it! I think every one of us gets to a point where we hit the wall.

    Visits with the kids are too short! My SoCal kids get her in 5 more sleeps!

  4. Oh my, I know exactly how this feels. My 2.5 yo granddaughter is still here. They are camping this weekend with the other side of the family so I am putting my feet up to take a little rest while they are gone so I can have more energy to play again when they get back. It has been fun but I don't have the energy I used to.

  5. This is just so darn beautiful- all the family, the sweet grandlove times, the pics, the beach...ahhhh!!!! Love it!

    Also love the "artist of color"- too cute!

  6. Reading this made me impatient for our beach trip in July. It's not far off!

    The girls are so beautiful, Karen. And so photogenic, too. Amazing.


  7. I loved this post, Karen. And that sepia picture of Mia is absolutely beautiful. I'm glad you took full advantage of your time together. I wanna go to Disneyland.

  8. Those children are so delicious I want to chew on their toes! Darling!! i love reading about your interaction with them. They are so blessed to have you with all the Love you give (and pancakes and bacon to boot!) :)

  9. We had so much fun! Couldn't have asked for a better trip. Love your pic of the pier, hope mine turned out that well!

  10. It's great to hear about your family. The visit sounds very familiar..yes, that's how it goes when our kids all visit..fast and furious and tears just for variety! You have a great place to visit. It reminded me of my childhood when we went to Cali. to visit my Mom's brothers and Disney, the beach and all the other tourist places were so exciting to us kiddos. We took our kids there too and they loved it all. Now you can relax just a bit and I hope your weekend is great.

  11. I need to sit down and rest after reading all that. Whew! The things we do for our sweet grands - but as much as we love all the activity and all the kids, IT IS TIRING!! The girls are beautiful, with or without the lovely headbands. LOL!!

  12. I can't wait till my kids have kids.


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