Birthday Wishes & September Daydreams

When my daughter was born I watched her constantly, amazed that this marvelous little being was related to me. She seemed too perfect to be mine to love and protect and like many new parents, I worried that I might mess it all up. I muddled through those early weeks on a rotation of feeding, diapering, and adoration, tempered only by new mother fatigue and fear.

She was only two weeks old when this picture was taken at a local department store. I had a camera of my own then and a decent level of skill so I’m not sure why I thought a posed portrait like this one was necessary. I’m glad I have it now and not just because she looks so darling, but because it brings back some interesting memories of that day.

It was my first trip out with Miranda on my own as her dad was at work and I put the new unused stroller we’d received as a gift into the trunk of the car to make our outing a bit easier. It came in handy while we were waiting our turn at the mall and all went well with the photo session until we made it back to the car.

After strapping a now hungry and slightly fussy newborn into her car seat, I went to work on the stroller to fold it up and put it away. Here’s where I learned an important lesson … what goes up with ease does not always go back down the same way especially if you don’t read the directions closely, and sometimes not even then.

I struggled for what seemed like forever and Miranda’s fussiness turned quickly into wails with a volume that seemed impossible coming from a baby weighing about as much as a small cat. It became a tug of war with me pushing levers and yanking on different parts of the stroller trying to figure out how to make it close and I was practically crying myself before I worked it out by accident and was surprised and relieved when it folded up as easy as bending paper.

A few weeks later when this photo was passed around to family and friends, someone remarked that with so much hair and her big-eyed cuteness, she looked more like a baby doll than a real baby and gave her the nickname, ‘Fake Baby.’ Remembering how disheveled and weepy we both were about twenty minutes after the photo was taken I thought, ‘Fake baby my foot!’

Today marks 25 years of loving the little baby doll of my dreams and there’s nothing fake about her, she is always just as she seems.

Happy Birthday, Miranda!

You can find more sweet Miranda stories if you click on the posts written on September 14 in the previous years. 8:03 will always be my favorite and can still be found here.

What A Day!

Jubilee Rock – Bodmin Moor – My Girl

What a day, what a day, remember that check list of places and things I wanted to share with Miranda … here are a few images from yesterday.

Helland Bridge

Lavethan Wood   (Photograph by Miranda)

We also managed to take in a bit of the Camel Trail on foot and we walked through the buttercup field which is a little low on buttercups as it’s still early for them. Lunch was fish & chips at Rick Stein’s in Padstow, a meal and a port town we’ve been trying to get to all week and after a little sightseeing and shopping, we were off to an antique store in another town that I had mentioned earlier and she’d wanted to see.

Last stop was the library because it was that time again and after a quick trip to the pub where we had hoped to catch sight of some darling puppies, we headed for home where we finished off our day with a knitting lesson for me. Whew!

The best part of it all was we had a great time even though it was such a busy day. Miranda was both interested and a good sport as we went from place to place and at some point began to say, Helland Bridge … check, Camel Trail … check, Lavethan Wood  … check, but in a cute way that made me think she was glad to have a chance to see more of the places in person that I’ve been writing and talking about over the last two years.

I’m giving her a wake-up call in a few minutes because today’s another day and we’re off to see Stonehenge! Guess who’s driving

Getting To Know You

When John and Miranda met in Virginia at the university she was still attending a little over two years ago, they really only had a few hours to get to know each other and while it was pleasant, they were still virtually strangers when he and I married a year later in February of 2009.

Over the last two years they have interacted a bit during some of my online iChat conversations with Miranda, but most of what they know about each other has been filtered through me as I have talked or written about them.

You never really know how people will get on and it’s a big leapt to think that just because they’re my favorite people to spend time with that they might enjoy each others company as well. I am pleased to say that any concerns I might have had have melted away as I have watched them laughing and chatting about different topics on their own.

We’re off again in a few hours on our whirlwind tour of Cornwall. You would not believe the photographs we are all getting. John is shooting more video than anything else, but Miranda and I have our cameras in hand and it’s been fun at night to reflect on the day and remember some of the conversations that have come from our shared experiences.

Eden waits for us today along with Lanhydrock and maybe we’ll even have a chance to give a couple of babies a squeeze at the end of the day … if we have any energy left.

These Are The Days

In the first few minutes of the day when my eyes are barely open and I am still shaking off the last bits of sleep, there’s an increasing sense of expectation as I pull myself back to a waking awareness that I can feel around the edges of my consciousness, a sort of shadowy sense memory that today is a special day and I think to myself, what’s happening today … because it feels like Christmas and birthdays all rolled into one and then I remember that someone very special is sleeping in the next room and I smile as I stretch and think about how excited I am to have another day with her.

Another beautiful blue sky day where we get to explore the world or at least our part of it and I have a chance to see her across the table from me sharing a meal and the kind of table talk you miss when you are separated by distance.

Later we’ll have moments lost in uncontrollable giggling as we look over our pictures of the day and laugh at the funny ways the wind can make our hair look when it catches it and whips it high above our heads where it is captured forever in photograph that neither of us will want to share.

She won’t because she thinks that it’s not her at her best and I won’t because the moment of laughter is so special that I will want hold on to it … keeping it private for just the two of us, a memory of the laughing sweet days we shared in Cornwall she when goes back to America .

I think to myself over morning coffee that these are the days, and how I remember hearing a song with the same title for the first time, in a car, at a traffic light, in 1992, when moments with my then four-year old daughter were everything I wanted to hold on to and remember. These are still the days …


Remembering Virginia Tech 4.16.07


Last year on this day, I wrote a memorial post to mark the sad anniversary of the tragedy that occurred during my daughter’s second year as a student at Virginia Tech. The Ways We Remember, Those We Cannot Forget details more from April 16 and the days that followed.

When we moved into April a few weeks ago, I noticed my daughter had changed her profile picture on Facebook from her regular photo to the image below. It is familiar to many associated with Virginia Tech and the one I have seen most often in the three years since the Virginia Tech shootings.

After seeing the change on April 1, I asked her about it when we spoke later that day. I usually switch to the same image on my Facebook profile a few days before the anniversary, but never so early as the beginning of the month and I wondered why she had changed hers so far in advance. Miranda told me in so many words that in the month of April, the anniversary is always at the forefront of her thoughts so she wanted to note the significance for her.

When I hung up the phone, I considered that while most people were celebrating spring and new beginnings, she was remembering the day when so many died. It saddens me to think that this will likely always be a rite of spring for her. I wish there was something I could do to change that, but it is beyond my control as are so many things for parents when children grow into their independent selves.

Miranda is generally pretty quiet when it comes to that day. When people ask about it, she is polite and almost matter of fact. She tends to keep her feelings to herself. I imagine these kids, now adults walking around like war vets in a way … only really discussing that day with people who were there and lived through it too. As a mom who believes in the healing power of conversation it is difficult for me to stand back and wait to give comfort when needed, although I smile as I think, I am always at the ready.

I take comfort in how she chooses to honor the memory of those no longer living with her desire to risk more and live more fully for those who lost that opportunity on 4.16.07. I didn’t know she felt that way until I saw something she had posted on Facebook the other day that suggested that sentiment as a way to remember those who died.

I understand that thought completely as it is something I have tried to do when grieving the loss of friends and family who died too young. It gives me some measure of peace to see that we share a similar idea because I know it has been a source of comfort for me when I could not understand the why of premature death. I cannot think of a better memorial for those lost than a life well lived when searching for ways to honor those we can never forget.

Puppy Love

Ry In His Online (Pick Me) Photo

Two years ago a sweet little puppy changed my daughter Miranda’s life. She’d grown up around dogs adopted from shelters or from other families, but hadn’t had one she could call her own. While she loved those furry faces, she still longed to have a pup she could choose and raise herself. After researching a variety of breeds, she made her decision and has loved him fiercely since she first held him.

Ry will be two years old tomorrow and I wanted to show you a few pictures of his life with Miranda. You can’t help but fall in love with this sweet boy. I know I have.

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Miranda With Her Little Puppy

Looking at Miranda

Look Ma No Cavities

Look Ma No Cavities - But He Lost A Couple Of Teeth Playing Rough

Playmates

Playmates (No Cat Was Harmed In Making This Picture)

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Snow Days

Snow Days

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Me With Ry

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Buttercup Dog Days

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Water Dog

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He Insists On Running With Sticks

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Learning To Jump Through Hoops

Ry With His Little Saddlebags For Day Hikes

I sent him a little something special for his birthday… I just hope the bank will let him cash that check.

More Than Just A Wave

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Ry Saying Goodbye

When babies are learning to talk, one of the very first things they learn is how to say bye-bye. Along with a which they usually pick up the importance of tossing in a bit of hand waving as well.  Like all new (dog) mommies, my daughter Miranda has been teaching Ry to do a bit more than just sit around looking pretty. While I was back in America recently, she proudly had Ry demonstrate some of his newly acquired skills. He’s a smart pup and when there’s food involved can pick up new things faster than some of the folks who descended on my garage sale two weeks ago.

I think his little wave was one of the cutest things she taught him, although I have to say I loved his exuberant high five as well.  He jumps up to go paw to hand when she says, “High five” and you almost expect him to say, “Aw right ” along with it.

It’s been a busy four weeks since I went home to Georgia to sort, sell, and ship my stuff over to England. As you might expect, I have more than a few stories for you. Back at home in Cornwall now with John, it’s a blue sky morning and I’m getting ready to go for my first run in a month with Tina, my running buddy and friend. We’re meeting like we always do on the the village green at 9:00 and I’ll be a second or two late as I usually am, because I just have to write one more word before I go. She’ll be there on time and waiting and will swoosh away my apologies with a wave of her hand…understanding and happy just to say hello again.  

 

Just In Time For Mother’s Day

 

Mother's Day Rose 2009

Mother's Day Rose 2009

Two years ago Miranda asked me the question mothers everywhere begin to hear as Mother’s Day approaches. Always fairly forthright she said, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?”  More time with you…is never what a nineteen year old wants to hear so instead I suggested an activity that might ensure more than a few hours together. I asked her to help me plant some bushes and flowers around the front of the house. We picked out some plants and a small rosebush and dug and watered and settled them into the soil of their new home. If you live in the Atlanta area, you know the last few years have been fairly dry and although I watered and watched over them for a year, when I left for England last May I wasn’t sure they’d survive.

Arriving at the house last week to move the stuff I’d left locked in the attic, I immediately saw that one of the plants had died and the other one looked as if it was not far behind. The next day Miranda joined me to help load everything into a truck to move it to Marietta to sort for shipping to England. Towards the end of our work day I noticed a bit of color along the white picket fence that borders the front yard. Growing around the fence posts was the rosebush. I’d missed it there hanging on bravely through the drought, still green and alive and blooming with the sweetest little miniature roses you’ve ever seen.  It’s interesting how something that seems so fragile at times is really quite resilient and just when you least expect it…surprises you with a strong showing.  

I hope your day was as lovely as mine!

I Can’t Believe She’s 35!

 

Jennie & Elizabeth 1974

Baby Jennie With Elizabeth 1974

Almost 14 years separate us in age. Born on Easter Sunday, my youngest sister was a surprise in many ways. My dad, having remarried when I was 12, never expected to have more children than the two he’d had in his first marriage to my mother. I know my stepmom was as surprised as anyone when she found herself sitting in her doctor’s waiting room with women much younger and their developing belly bumps. In 1974, women who were 40 or older were more likely to be planning for their first grandchild’s arrival than a baby of their own.

So it was that Jennie, not Jennifer like so many girls born in the 70′s, came into my life. You could say she was a gift from the Easter bunny having arrived on the day when children wake to find surprises left by the fluffy symbol of Easter. Her maternal grandfather called her Bunny right from the start, making it a special nickname that only he would use in conversations with and about her.

I moved into their new baby household when Jennie was about six months old, stretching the limits of what my stepmom had probably planned for her life when she married for the first and only time at 38. Looking back, I am amazed at how well she handled all of unexpected  changes in her transition from single working woman to new wife, before all too quickly being called on to mother an infant and teen.  

Jennie, having been born to older parents grew up almost like an only child. While I was around and involved, I was a teenager after all and pretty well focused on my school and social life. Jennie and I played together, but I don’t remember having had too much required of me…as in no forced baby sitting or sulking about it as I can recall. I remember building her a little puppet theatre and covering it with a hideous pink fabric left over remnants of the 60′s… found somewhere I can’t remember. I made puppets and stories to go with it forcing her to endure and participate in my first playwriting experiences. (Sorry… no pictures seem to exist of the theatre to share.)

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Jennie was my model when I tried my hand at 17 with my first forays into posed portrait work. She was such a good sport especially since she was barely four at the time this poor quality image was taken.  

 

Jennie At Four

Jennie At Four

Joining the Army at 18, I was a visitor mostly after that, a sister who sent letters or gifts from other countries with occasional visits home while on leave. During the 5 years that I was away from Georgia, Jennie changed quite a lot during that time growing out of her little girl self of four into a more outspoken performer of nine. By the time she reached high school she was performing in musicals, sometimes winning the leading role. She began college as a performance major, but changed directions along the way, moving towards a degree and profession aimed at helping others.

 

Miranda Wearing Jennie's College Cap On Graduation Day

Miranda Wearing Jennie's College Cap On Graduation Day

After a few difficult years of helping children through Family and Children’s Services, she returned to school for a master’s degree in community counseling and added a certification to it that would enable her to provide counseling and support to children in a school setting. It’s there she seems to have found her home working with children who frequently need a listening ear and directional support. She spends her days in a rural setting where some of the children come from difficult home situations. Jennie’s quick to recognize a need where someone else might overlook it and at times has gone so far as to buy shoes for a child who didn’t have any they could wear. She does good work there making sure all of the children have equal opportunities for success along with a bit of nurturing and acceptance they may not receive at home.

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Jennie with Mitzi - At Home In North Georgia

It’s hard to believe that she’s 35 today … Happy Birthday Jennie!