…and I think I overdosed on shellfish

I was really hesitant about our trip to the beach this past weekend. The last time we went, Catie was terrified of the water and spent the entire time building sandcastles, and she refused to so much as dip a single toe in the water.

This year, I think it’s safe to say that she’s overcome her nervousness.

Catie decided that she loves the beach

She still won’t dunk her head under water, but I wasn’t really a fan of that in the ocean, either. She went out a lot farther than I was expecting, and she had an absolute blast.

Catie jumping waves with Chris

My brother gets MAJOR cool uncle points not only for taking her out to jump waves, but also for spending ages helping her collect seashells.

Lucy was not so sure about the water at first either. It was windy, she hadn’t napped enough that day, it had the makings to be disastrous.

Lucy & me on the beach

Then my dad took her out and dipped her toes in the water. She decided quickly that this whole beach thing was pretty awesome.

Lucy decided that the beach was not so bad after all

They both had a blast. It was fantastic, and I can’t wait to take them again.

I think they both had a good time

Random aside, but a little backstory: back in 1943, when my dad was 7 years old, his father (my granddad) was enlisted in the Army during World War II. Instead of going overseas, though, he was stationed in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Apparently because my granddad was in his mid-30s at the time, he was deemed “too old” to actually go to the front lines. My, how times have changed, no?) So my dad & his parents lived in Florida for a year, then moved back to Mississippi. My dad often talks about living in Daytona and how he’d go to the beach and jump the waves every day after school. He really loved the ocean. The last time he went into the ocean was apparently in the early 1970s, before I was born. So this was long overdue for him.

Honest to God, I haven’t seen my dad that happy in ages. He laughed and laughed and jumped the waves like he was a freaking teenager, and not a 76 year-old man. He’s usually such a grump, it was great to see him downright giddy.

Pop-Pop & Lucy on the beach

Also, my favorite moment of the day was watching my parents hold hands as they walked out into the ocean to jump waves together. It was such a sweet moment between the two of them. I so wish I had gotten a picture of it, but I was holding Lucy and a bunch of other stuff and I couldn’t get the camera out in time.

Overall, it was a great day at the beach. Everyone had great fun and we completely wore ourselves out.

family pic on the beach

After the beach, we came back to the hotel, showered the sand off of ourselves, and went out to dinner. We happened to pass a little seafood restaurant a couple of doors down from our hotel, and we decided to try it out. If you’re ever in Wilmington, go to Hieronymus, because OMG the food was a-ma-zing.

That night, my brother earned even more Cool Uncle Points by helping Catie as she washed and sorted all of the seashells that she had collected on the beach that day.

Washing & sorting today's seashell haul in the hotel bathroom. My OCD kid is in heaven.

(Related: I now have to buy some kind of display jar to hold her seashell collection because holy crap we have a TON of them.)

…And Lucy eventually sacked out on my mom.

How the beach day ends. Good thing my mom doesn't mind being a human pillow for her grandbabies.

The next day, my brother headed home, and we toured downtown Wilmington for a little bit, then met up with Ali and her husband for lunch before we headed home. It was a short trip, but it was fantastic and definitely needed.

We’re already planning our next beach trip… I’m thinking next month when Catie is tracked out from her year-round school. Maybe we’ll stay two nights next time so we can allow for maximum wave-jumping time.

I can’t wait.

the mid-December update

Things that have happened in the past week that I haven’t blogged about because holy crap, where did all my free time go? (Oh right, it’s being spent unpacking boxes.)

1. Our house is officially sold. We signed the closing paperwork and handed over the keys this morning. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. Mostly relief, because I’m glad to be done with it, but also a hell of a lot of sadness, because that was my dream house, and it’s gone. And yeah, I know we’ll make new memories in this new house and it will all turn out the way it’s supposed to be. But it’s hard.

2. Dave and his mom have come to visit. There was a lot of hubbub about it before they arrived (long story), but so far all of his visits with the kids have been low-key and drama-free, and I’m crossing my fingers that maybe we can maintain that from now on. I mean, I kind of doubt it, but I’m trying to maintain a tiny bit of cautious optimism. And that’s basically all I have to say on that particular subject.

3. My parents closed on their house here. Their moving truck arrives from Mississippi tomorrow. They’re going to be staying at my house for a few more days while they get things settled (they need to buy a refrigerator, that kind of thing), but it’s crazy to think that we’re going to be living less than two miles away from each other.

4. A personal Single Parent Milestone of mine: while hooking up the DVD player (which I did all by myself, boo-yah), a giant cockroach came scurrying out from behind the TV and was about an inch away from my hand. Since I had no husband to yell to come kill it, instead I grabbed my trusty Dyson with its loooong telescope handle and sucked that disgusting 6-legged bastard up.

(And this is where I tried to find a video of Delta Burke/Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women doing her rant about, “I don’t care what anybody says, I think THE MAN SHOULD HAVE TO KILL THE BUG.” Alas, YouTube has failed me. Oh well, you get the idea.)

I’m sure that seems pathetic, but that was my own personal version of a major crisis (I have a phobia of roaches that I cannot even begin to explain), and I took care of it, so I was proud of myself.

5. This past Sunday, I took Catie to see Disney Princesses on Ice. She was SO excited.

Somebody is excited about Disney Princesses on Ice.

The ice skaters for these shows are really amazing, and it’s definitely worth it if they come your way. Note that I am in no way sponsored to say that. I’m just saying, if you have a little girl in the Disney Princess-loving age range, you will make their week, if not their whole year, by taking them to that show. And it entertained me too, because I am a sucker for watching ice skaters do all kinds of graceful leaps and twirls that I could never do in a million years.

6. The girls had their school pictures taken for Christmas. It’s very hard to get a picture of Catie where she isn’t doing a hard “CHEESE!!” – it’s more like she’s baring her teeth than smiling. But Lucy. Oh my, y’all.

They also took pictures of the two girls together (which I couldn’t get a good picture of with my phone, since they don’t allow proofs to leave the premises, and I was sneaking pictures with my cell phone before the daycare director caught me). But needless to say, that photo company is about to get a whole lot of my money.

7. In the midst of unpacking, we managed to get our Christmas tree up, because I promised Catie I would do it as soon as we got to the new house. (Priorities. My clothes are still packed in wardrobe boxes, but we have the damn tree decorated.) I usually love to put Christmas lights outside, but I’m a little overwhelmed by everything this year, so we just stuck a wreath on the door and I’m calling it done.

8. I don’t usually get into all of the symbolism about new years being a fresh start, but let me tell you, 2011 is free to kiss my butt on its way out. I’m so looking forward to 2012 and the promise of new beginnings and clean slates. I already cannot wait for January 1st.

catching up

I finally got the wireless set up at my parents’ house, so I can actually blog now that I can use my laptop. (My parents’ computer is not conducive for writing.) I don’t know where to start on the recap of this week, but here goes. Brace yourselves, this might get long:

1.) The flight to Mississippi was amazingly easy. Catie was an absolute angel, she had a minor meltdown on one of the three (THREE!) planes we had to take to get here, but overall, she was fun and delightful and just a complete breeze. I can only hope our return flight is as easy.

2.) The only bad part of the flight was that the airline lost our suitcases, so we panicked and ran to Wal-Mart to buy emergency supplies – pajamas for Catie, underwear and deodorant for me, etc. But the suitcases were found and delivered to my parents’ house by around 10 p.m. that night, so I returned most of the stuff that we bought.

3.) The funeral for my dad’s cousin was yesterday. It was great to see all of my cousins who I haven’t seen since my grandmother died in 1996. It’s odd because we’ve all reconnected through Facebook, so we keep up with each other and see pictures of each other’s kids, and it felt like getting to see old friends, which was fantastic. At the same time, it sucks that it takes something like a death in the family in order to bring us all together.

After the funeral, we all went to my cousin Suzette’s house for food and conversation – because, you know, that’s how we roll in the Deep South. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing, right? And all of my cousins’ babies were there, so Catie got to play with a bunch of other kids, and she had an absolute BLAST. In fact, she had so much fun that she completely wore herself out and she slept the two-hour drive back to my parents’ house. Nice.

4.) One thing that came up in the last few days that I haven’t mentioned, is that there was a remote possibility that our money issues were going to get straightened out, and that we’d be able to close on our house on schedule. So, before I left for Mississippi, I ran to the escrow attorney’s office to sign a document giving Dave power of attorney for me**, so he could close on the house without me, just in case the money came through on time. Turns out, the money DID come through on time, and Dave closed on the house today. The movers are unloading our belongings at our new house as I type this.

So, when Catie & I get home, we will be going straight from the airport to our brand-new house. My mind = BLOWN. It feels so weird that I’m not there for the move, but since Dave is calm about moving and I tend to freak out, it’s probably better to have me gone and let him handle it on his own. I’m sure he’s happier that I’m not there nagging at him about every tiny detail, but still, he is racking up the Good Husband points like you have no idea.

5.) One bit of bad news: when the movers came to pack up our stuff yesterday, they had both the front and garage doors open, and somehow Beaumont got outside. Dave has searched everywhere and hasn’t been able to find him. Our neighbors are all on the lookout, and I’ve posted a “lost cat” ad on craigslist, but I’m sick with worry. He hasn’t been an outdoor cat for a long time, and even when he was, we lived in the sticks. The street behind our house is very busy (with a 45 mph speed limit), and I’m freaked out that he could’ve gotten hit by a car. Or that he’s hiding in the woods, terrified. I hope he turns up. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s ours and we love him. Please come home, Mr. B.

** For the record, the power of attorney document only applies to this one real estate transaction. It does not give Dave the right to have me committed to a loony bin. I sure hope he realizes that.

EDITED TO ADD: Beaumont has been found. Apparently he was hiding from the movers inside our box spring (there’s a tear in the fabric on the bottom, he hides in there a lot), and so he got loaded onto the moving van & spent the night there. He’s completely freaked out, but ok. I’m saying a prayer of thanks that we closed today and didn’t have our stuff sitting on the moving van for a week!

on parents & aging

I generally have a policy of not writing anything on my blog that might potentially offend anyone in my family. I envy the bloggers who are willing to put it all out there, no holds barred, but that isn’t me. Most of the people in my family don’t read this site, but it’s not anonymous and they could find me easily enough, so I try to be careful.

That said, I’m about to write something here that might get me in trouble later. And I don’t care, I need to get this off my chest.

My mom recently had all of our old home movies burned to DVD, and she made copies for me, my brother, and my sister. Today I’ve been playing around with the files to make short little snippets that I can stick on YouTube. I keep watching this one – a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast when I was around 6 months old (when my sister was almost-6 years old and my mom wasn’t even pregnant with my brother yet) – and I keep crying when I watch it.


A little bit of me is crying because I really miss both of my grandparents. My dad’s parents. I wrote a little about my grandaddy here, and I haven’t written much about my grandmother. She died when I was 20. I don’t really know what to write about her. She adored us – her three grandchildren – and we miss her.

Another little bit of me is crying because my mom does that thing she does in every home movie we have, which is that you only see her for a split-second (in this case, at the very end of the video), and she waves the camera away. She always thought she was too fat and ugly to be filmed. I wish I could go back in time to tell her how gorgeous she was. And I make a vow to myself to be in more home movies so Catie will grow up and know what her mother looked like when she was in her 30s.

Mostly, though, I’m crying about my dad. He looks so young in that video. I don’t really remember him ever looking that young. (Although, he still has those farmer’s tan lines, courtesy of his thrice-weekly golf game.) I think of my dad as always having looked like this.

Catie and Pop-Pop

And I’m crying because I don’t remember him ever beaming at me with that new-dad pride that he has in this video. That’s the kind of adoring look he gives Catie. I didn’t think it was ever directed at me. To say that my dad and I have a difficult relationship is an understatement, but I’ll leave that for another post. I just really hate that I don’t remember that look.

My dad is 73. For the past couple of years, it’s been obvious that his memory is slipping. It keeps getting worse. I don’t know if it’s Alzheimer’s, or some other form of dementia, or maybe he’s having small strokes (he’s suddenly been having headaches, which he’s never had in his life). It’s impossible to diagnose because he refuses to admit any of it to his doctor. My mom is a wreck about it. Last year, she called his doctor’s office and told them to do a neurological work-up on him when he went in for his annual physical. The doctor refused. If my dad won’t seek help for himself, and the doctor won’t help, what other recourse is there?

Just as a few examples, in the last couple of years:
* He forgot where a major street in my hometown is located. He’s lived there for the past 39 years.
* He & I had a major blow-up fight last September, which he’s forgotten entirely. I guess I should be glad he’s forgotten it & isn’t holding a grudge, but it’s also frustrating that it got us nowhere.
* He took Catie for a walk in our neighborhood by himself, and he didn’t pay attention when she said she wanted to get down. She tried to squirm out of the stroller, and she ended up getting stuck with her head caught between the seat & the snack tray, while my dad obliviously kept pushing the stroller until she started to scream. He panicked & didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, a neighbor came along just then & showed him how to remove the snack tray so he could get her out. But she could’ve been really hurt, and that’s when Dave & I realized my dad can’t take Catie on outings by himself anymore. Which breaks my heart.

The latest thing is his cousin. My dad is an only child, but his cousin Sue (who everyone calls Bee-bee, and don’t ask why, I don’t have a reason except that we’re from Mississippi) is the closest thing he has to a sibling. Bee-bee has been very ill for a long time with a number of health problems. She’s spent months in the hospital. We’ve known for the past year or so that she could die at any time.

Bee-bee recently went into the hospital again, and this time, things look really bad. The doctors aren’t terribly optimistic about her prognosis. Her daughter called my mom to give her the latest update. When my mom got off the phone and repeated the news to my dad, he was stunned. He didn’t remember that she’d been sick. Now he has to grieve this loss all over again. And when she inevitably dies (whether that’s next week, or next month, or next year), he’ll have to grieve it all over again, because he will have forgotten. Again.

I don’t have words for how upsetting all of this is for my family. I’m not terribly close with my dad’s side of the family, but of course my heart breaks for all of them. For Bee-bee’s husband of 55+ years (they got married as teenagers), for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. But especially for my dad.

I’ve decided that Catie and I will be flying to Mississippi for Bee-bee’s funeral, whenever that may be. I feel like I need to be there for my dad. It’s all I can do, really. I just need to be there.