Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Funny Little Things

Dear Ian,

Lately I've been thinking about the little things that you are currently doing that I might forget.  Then I remembered that we are lucky enough to have this blog to help us remember!  So here's a post all about your funny little things that make me smile:

1.  The way you say "hiccups."  This cracks me up.  You currently pronounce it "hup-pic," and it makes me giggle.  And lately you've been getting the "hup-pics" a lot.

2.  Your helpful spirit.  You love to watch us cook, "fold" laundry (really you just pull it out of the dryer for me) and vacuum.  When I vacuum the house, you do the front hallway by yourself.  Gives me time to quick-mop the floor, and you love it.  Another helpful story that comes to mind is from yesterday.  We had a small leak in one of the air conditioner pipes, and it was causing a brown spot on the ceiling by the kitchen.  Mr. Chris, our handy-dude, is repairing it for us, and yesterday when he was working away, you went in your room and got your toy drill to help him out.

3.  You love to read the same books over and over and over...  And lately, your favorites are Hand Hand Fingers Thumb and The Truck Book.  You even read Hand Hand Fingers Thumb to yourself!  You love to say "dum ditty dum ditty," and you could hear that book a thousand and a half times.  After reading the book one day, I asked you if you wanted to hear it one more time, and now after we finish reading, you say "Time?" to ask for it again.  The Truck Book is your other favorite, and Mommy has learned so much about the different kinds of big trucks and working vehicles.  Your favorite thing to do is crawl up on the couch with us and read, and that thrills me to no end, Little Boy

4.  I love to get you up in the morning.  As of late, you wake up around 7:15 or so, and you stand up in your bed and holler for me.  But when I walk in your room, you say "Hi!" in the happiest little voice.  Sometimes you even say "Mornin'!"  Whatever kind of not-enough-sleep grumpy mood I'm in, hearing you say that puts the biggest smile on my face.  Then you give out your morning hugs and kisses.  Sigh.  Makes my morning.

5.  You have a new-found love of stickers.  This started recently at swimming lessons.  After every class you get to pick out a sticker, and we have been collecting them on your swimming folder.  We absolutely cannot leave swimming without a sticker now, and you have recently discovered that Mommy has a sticker collection, too.  Believe me, small son, that I will be using this to my advantage.

6.  And speaking of swimming, BOY have you learned and improved so much!  You now kick your feet and scoop with your arms, and you can actually get from point A to point B as long as they aren't too far apart.  You LOVE being in the water.  And we just got our pool liner replaced, so I know where our family will be on weekends and evenings.

Other stuff that makes the right-now-you you:
- you're still attached to Lovey.
- you have to smell all of the ingredients I cook with, and again, you love to help stir things.
- whenever we go anywhere, I guess you think we are going somewhere to play because you "call roll" of all of your friends.  You also do this when you're at the table; the chair that Sarah, Issa and Payton use is to your left, and you point and "ask" where they are.
- You love all things transportation.  The other day we sat outside at Baskin Robbins, and while I thought you'd be thrilled at the ice cream, you were more excited to watch the trucks go by.  And watch the flag wave.
- And yes, you still have a fixation with the American flag.  You're getting better at pronouncing that word, too. 

Little Bear, I'm so glad I am able to write all of this down for you.  And for me.  I think of how fast time has gone by when you were just a little squirt, and I can only imagine it's going to get faster.  This post preserves little-almost-two you, and for that, I'm so thankful.

Love you tons and tons,

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It Takes A Village...

Dear Ian,

This post has taken me a long time to write, simply because I could not find the right words.  But I just finished reading a book that moved and inspired me to get to work; delaying this post wasn't fair to you, because I was delaying writing about someone important in my life.  And even more important, delaying this post wasn't fair to her, because she would have loved to meet and hold you.  This post is about a member of our family that wasn't really family: Lucille.

When I was a baby, your Grandma Davis looked high and low for someone to take care of me that would love me and keep me clean and safe.  Being a new mommy, and not to mention a director of a preschool, I know what a nightmare this must have been.  She told me stories of going places that had roaches crawling on the walls and of women who let poor little babies run around in diapers that were hours old.  Your Grandma was a great mommy and kept up her search until it led her to Havana, Florida to meet a lady named Lucille Davis.  It's completely ironic (and totally true) that her last name was the same as ours, since she became such a member of our family.  It was a long drive for my Momma and Daddy to take me all the way over there, but (as I now know) to make sure that their baby was in the best care, that was what was going to happen.  I don't know the specifics of how the whole interview and hiring process went, but all I know is that I, and your uncles Brian and Gary, were so lucky that our parents made the decision to have her care for us.

Lucille was a black lady.  Now that's not such a big whoop, I know, but I was born in the late seventies, and if you think about it, that's not too far of a jump from the tense years of the 60's when segregation and integration were such hot button topics for our country, especially in the South.  And even though it shouldn't matter, there are those out there with closed minds when it comes to races and differences.  It didn't make much difference to us kids, although it was sorta obvious that we were typically the only white kids around when we were at her house.  Lucille loved us, and we loved her.  She was funny, caring, one heck of a good cook, and a strict disciplinarian.  I learned so much from her.  With this post, I hope to share some of the things, good, bad and downright odd, that I can remember.

Me and Lucille, Halloween 1979
Miss Lucille was born August 7th, 1915.  That is a LONG time ago little man, and to think about all of the the things she saw throughout her life is just humbling.  She lived through the great depression.  She experienced 2 world wars: one as a small child, barely older than you and then the other as a 30 year old.  She watched the idea of civil rights take root and bloom into existence.  Men on the moon, presidents assassinated, communism fall, terrorism try to rise...  I honestly wish I had been a little more mature and thoughtful to ask more about her life.  I do know that she didn't go to school for very long: 7th grade was the highest she went through, if I remember right.  She went to work for a family taking care of kids and cooking, and although I know very little about that, she did tell us stories about how when she was little, she and some friends (maybe her siblings) would tie flaming paper bags to the tails of the farm cats.  Or how they would harass those same cats by tying them to bent-over thin pine trees and then let the trees go so the cats would get whipped around.  I know that sounds awful, and I so don't want you to think less of this person I am trying to introduce you to, but knowing her and how caring she was just makes that story so dang funny to me.

Miss Lucille did get married, but her husband passed away long before I was ever in her care, and again, this is one of those things I wish I knew more about.  She had a brother in California that she visited once or twice that I can remember, and she had tons of nieces, nephews and godchildren.  She didn't have any children of her own, but she loved and adored the kids that other people trusted her to look after; we in particular were some of her favorites.  I remember her combing my hair (she was hardly gentle about it) and telling me how pretty and fine it was.  I remember letting us climb into the chair with her while she watched her "stories" (soap operas like Guiding Light and As The World Turns) and rocking us.  Some of my favorite memories are sitting on her back porch eating "freeze cups" which was Kool-aid in little paper cups.  We had a trick of flipping them over so the softer, bottom side of the frozen part was the first you could eat.  And let's not forget licking off the gooey, sweet layer at the very top before flipping it.  Dang, now I am going to have to make some so you can try it and understand what I am talking about.  I also can recall her giving us fresh oranges, and instead of peeling them like normal people, your Uncle Brian, Johnte, Samathalyn and I would just poke a hole in it with our thumb and suck out all the juice and pulp.

But if there was anything that Lucille loved more than her kids, it was God and her church.  Lucille was very religious, and she spent a good part of her day reading her Bible or singing hymns.  Her favorite hymns were "A Charge to Keep I Have," and "Before This Time Another Year."  I am still on the lookout for a good recording of those songs.  I cannot find one, though, that comes close to hearing them sung in person by a full on "black church" choir.  I hope that one day you will have the chance to hear that.  Uncle Brian and I spent a lot of time with Lucille in her church.  Well, churches.  I remember going to China Hill Missionary Baptist church and Holy Light MB church.  We went on Mondays and Wednesdays, and she would walk in holding our hands and brag about how she had her "white chilluns" with her.  The ladies and deacons all knew our names, we got to take the tithing baskets up to the altar a couple of times, and going to church with her was a special experience.  Again, remind me to tell you the story of your Uncle Brian at Catholic church, but going to Lucille's church was a completely different experience than going to other churches.  I have never experienced such joy and true praise.  Again, I hope one day you could have that experience.  Lucille had such a strong faith, and that really inspired me.  I remember one time when we didn't go to church for some reason or another, and I remember her telling me that you could have church even when you weren't at church if you had Jesus in your heart.

Me and Lucille on the couch where we had to sit during thunderstorms

Yet, despite her faith in Jesus and how much she trusted that God would keep her safe, she still had some of those old, ingrained Southern superstitions and beliefs about things.  During thunderstorms, she would turn off all the lights and open all the doors and windows of the house, and we all - even us rambunctious little kids - had to sit still and quiet or else the lightning would get us.  She hated black cats, would bury the heads of any animal she cooked separate from the body so they wouldn't haunt her, and she believed in some crazy medicine.  Once when I had chicken pox, she took me to the chicken coop and started throwing chickens at me to get one to fly over my head.  It was her belief that the only way to cure chicken pox was to have a chicken fly over your head.  I am not a fan of chickens to this day.  Lucille also held dear to the more genteel ways people were supposed to act.  Thinking back on it now, those genteel ways she taught me probably stemmed from a past where "genteel" people didn't treat her so well, but she still taught me how ladies were supposed to act.  Manners were a big thing with her, and Lord help you if you didn't mind.

Discipline ruled the house when it came to Lucille.  She expected us to obey, and when we didn't there were consequences.  Let me start off by saying, I was never abused or bullied in anyway.  I was spanked, and from time to time I had to go "pick my switch" off the tree outside (and DO NOT get a skinny one), but I learned right from wrong, good from bad, and never once did I not feel loved.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  She loved us so much, and I remember her crying her eyes out when Uncle Brian first started going to kindergarten, when Momma first told her that she had to find care for Uncle Gary that was closer to the house, when we said we had to go after a good visit...  We were her babies.

Me and Lucille the day after I married Daddy. 
And she was a huge part of our lives.  She was always on our Christmas list.  Even after we stopped going to her house, your Papa still took her meat from hunts.  We took her fish to eat that we had caught.  We took her out to dinner - Lord, that woman loved fried seafood.  I remember one Christmas how we brought her to our house and gave her a new rocking chair.  We had her sit and the chair to try it out, and then Grandma or Papa told her to look on the tag and see who it was for, and when she read her own name, she fell out of the chair laughing and crying and hollering thank you.  She was so appreciative.  Another memory was from when Uncle Gary was born.  Papa had to go get her because, as Lucille told me, "Claire would not leave the hospital until she came to see that baby boy."  She then told me about how she rocked new-born Gary in the hospital rocking chair and that it made the worst squeaking noise.  Your uncles and I didn't consider a person worthy to date until Lucille had met them, too.  Your poor Daddy had to be inspected by your Grandparents and then Lucille.  He passed the test though, as you can tell, although she did tell him that he has yellow hair.  She wasn't able to attend our wedding because of her health (she was 86 at the time), but Daddy and I did go see her the day after on our way North for our honeymoon.  One of my biggest regrets is that she never got to hold and rock you.  I often wonder what that would have been like, her holding the baby of one of her babies.

The day she died was one of the saddest of my life, but I know that she was ready for God to call her home.  She was 91, and after dealing with health issues and a bad fall, she knew that she was ready to be in Heaven.  A week after her passing, her church held her "home-going celebration."  I wish she could have heard the power in the hymns the choir sang for her; I wish she could have heard the words people spoke in her honor; I wish she could have seen her "white family" - the only white people in the place -  walking into the church in the processional that is reserved for family members only

You see little son, even though we live in a different time from when Lucille was growing up, people still have issues with race.  Even in this day and age, it's hard to see past the way a person looks, and there are still people out there calling names and pointing out differences.  I hope to help you grow up as an accepting, open-minded young man, able to see past silly differences.  Lucille would have been so proud of you.  I hope you see how proud I am to have had her as part of my life. 

This post is already incredibly long, so I need to stop, but I keep thinking of more and more things to write: Like how we used to bathe in a big galvanized tin tub, her home-made cakes, the corn bread, taking you in your car-seat to her cemetery so she could "meet" you... Or how on the day you were baptized, the closing hymn at church was the same hymn (Catholic church-ified) that Lucille's choir sang as they brought her into the church for her home-going celebration.  But those will have to wait for another day and another post.  I am so fortunate to have my life touched by her, and through me, you'll be able to share in that experience.  We're a lucky family.
Miss Lucille Davis
August 7, 1915 - March 31, 2007

Love Always,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Little Fish

Dear Ian,

Things are happening around our house.  Specifically, we are FINALLY getting our pool fixed.  Two years ago, Tropical Storm Faye visited Tallahassee and dumped about a zillion inches of rain on our little city.  All that rain caused the ground to shift under our pool, and this ground shift caused a big air bubble under the liner, and that bubble eventually popped.  Our poor pool drained in a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, once you came along, the pool sorta took a back seat to all of the other changes going on in our life, and there it sat, gathering rain water, pollen and turning itself into a new pond-like ecosystem.  It was pretty gross actually.  We started calling it "the pit." 

But, we're finally getting Operation Back Porch underway.  We put down the little patio on the right side of the pool screen to fill in the gigantic hole that our dog, Basie, had created.  We replaced all of the screen screws that were starting to rust, and we also replaced a piece of screen that had a small tear.  Then we pressure washed the concrete, and now, we have finally reached the last piece of the over-haul: pool liner replacement.  As I type this post, we are about 18 days away from having our pool back in action.  We plan on celebrating with a big pool party shindig with our family and friends.  I cant wait.  It almost seems surreal.

Daydreaming about lounging in the cool waters of the pool, however, brought up a forgotten issue: namely your lack of fear.  Our pool is literally about six feet from the back door of our house, and you have proven yourself to have no fear of water.  You took to baths like a fish, you love to play in the sink and "wash" dishes, get a thrill out of splashing in your kiddie pool, and more frightening, you crawl head first into the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.  You love the water, and nothing about it scares you, and that simply terrifies me. 

The back door already has two locks on it, an alarm, and Daddy and I plan on adding another lock to the top of the door that you can't reach once you master turning the door knob.  We are also considering adding the special baby pool fence to our lines of defense and precaution.  However, all of that PLUS our eagle-eyed supervision might not be enough, so we made the decision to sign you up for special swimming classes through an organization called ISR, or Infant Swim Resource.  These classes don't teach the different strokes, but rather they teach water survival skills.  If you were to fall into the pool, you will have been taught to do a swim-float-swim sequence to either get yourself to an exit or to float and wait for a grown up.  Honestly, just writing this out and thinking about it gives me chills, because I can't imagine anything scarier or worse than this thought.  So I am going to try not to think about that and instead focus on how well you seem to be doing, even though you just started classes.

Today was your second class, and your teacher, Miss Patty, had you "swimming" (it's sort of a doggie paddle style, but your face is under water with your eyes open and looking for the steps or side) from her to the steps and to the side of the pool.  And then she would gently let you go, and you would swim to her.  I will be honest and say that you are crying a little during lessons, but Daddy and I know that this cry is more of a "I'm doing something new, and I don't really understand this process" sounding cry and not a cry of "I don't like this."  At the end of today's lesson, Miss Patty even asked if you wanted to swim to her again, and you immediately said, "yeah!"  The lessons are short, so I know that you don't get frustrated or overwhelmed, and Daddy and I are right at the edge of the pool cheering you on and encouraging you.  And about five seconds after getting out, you were asking to go back in.  That means the most to me; I didn't want you to develop a fear of the water, and so far, despite that you got a little upset, you still love the water and still want to swim. 

There are other, older kids that have lessons right before you, and I see how proficient they are in the water, and I am really excited that you will soon have that same ability and confidence.  Of course NOTHING is a replacement for our supervision, and that will be our first line of defense against anything happening to you in the water.  But it makes me feel a tiny bit better to know that you will have that confidence and ability.  We got quite a few different reactions from other people about these classes, and while most were supportive and understanding, there were a few that didn't seem to understand why we would make you go through something that made you cry.  Little Boy, if we didn't have a pool and you only had limited access to water, we probably wouldn't have worried with this option.  We would have simply waited until you were older and signed you up for lessons to learn swimming at the YMCA.  But with the risk so close, I plan on taking every step I can to keep you safe. 

Daddy and I were so proud to watch you swim today, and what made us even happier was to see you smile and say "POOL!" within seconds of getting out.  You are our little fish!

Love you so much!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Let The Summer Fun Begin!

Dear Ian,

I'll be honest, Mommy is not a fan of the heat.  How I have managed to survive 31 summers in Florida's armpit is beyond me; I am completely heat intolerant.  I don't like to sweat, I live for air conditioning, and I like to joke and say that I like the cold because I can put more clothes ON, but no one wants to see me take clothes off.  Today is only the second day in June, and already I have seen reports of temperatures of 102.  August is going to be a nightmare. 

BUT!  I must say, I am having a lot of fun with you already this summer, and most of that has been outside and in the heat.  Please note that this is a big thing for Mommy.  We have been to the beach, washed our cars, played in the kiddie pool and sprinkler and sat on the porch eating Popsicles.  It has really been a lot of fun, and I occasionally catch myself dreaming up more fun stuff for us to do.

Here are some pictures of us doing some of our fun Summer activities so far...

Memorial Day weekend, we headed over to St. George Island to play with Uncle Gary, Aunt Megan and Payton.  You had so much fun playing in the waves and digging in the sand.  It is definitely an activity that we are going to have to repeat.  
 This is what we did today: Your friend Isabella came over, and the two of you got to play in the kiddie pool and paint with paintbrushes on the fence.  This was super!  After all that fun painting and playing, you got to share in a cool summer snack: Watermelon!  

You were covered from head to toe in paint and watermelon juice, so then it was back in the kiddie pool for a "red-neck bath" to clean you off.
See what I mean?  I am really getting into this summer fun thing.  It's still WAY too hot for Mommy's liking, but we're making it work for us.  In a couple of weeks our big pool will be repaired, and I am REALLY looking forward to spending time with you splashing in the water.  We even have you signed up for water safety classes; those start on Monday.  
So it's a happy summer so far little buddy!  Can't wait to see what we're going to do tomorrow. 

Hugs and kisses!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Works of Art #15

Here's the birthday card you made for Grandpa Brooks:
You worked really hard on the marker art inside the card:
 And finally, here's our Transportation Week bulletin board and your stop light that you made: