William visits Gramsy and Deda July 2016 for almost the entire month!
Beware. Reading on may find you unexpectedly held hostage to a myriad of my family movies. Now would be a good time to escape if you are not interested in Gramsy’s World. I visit William every 2 months for 2 weeks. That is the penance my dear son-in-law must pay for moving my family so far from our home. He doesn’t mind and I love going. When they visit here, our world is turned upside down for a few frantic weeks of preparation. You can only imagine. “Our Prince is coming!” Above, he is 17 months. Already!
Last summer, when Lauren and Aaron surprised me for my 60th Birthday, I gave them a year to remove all of their belongings from our home. This was the trip where they were coming to purge and hall home what they wanted to keep. Nan, Aaron’s mom was coming with them for the first week, then Lauren and William would stay until the end of the month. We were beside ourselves. When they texted that they were in Leduc, we got the chairs out on the driveway, waited and watched with bated breath having a little silly Gramsy and Deda fun.
There they are!!! Oh, be still my heart!
Little William had been sleeping so deeply that he was shocked awake when the car stopped and very confused. (Still, exceedingly adorable even when confused!)
Gramsy tried to hold him and he reached for Deda, then wanted Mommy. “Put him down and let him find his car!”
The gift that keeps on giving. At four months, at 6 months, last Christmas, and again now. Each time, the car was “new to him” and a thrill. Oh my.
Do you see him holding a rock for dear life? Picasso had a blue phase. William had “a rock” phase. “A rock. A rock. A rock.” He had to pick them up where ever he was and take them with him where ever he went this month. He could not drive without his rock.
Time for the tour. Though William and his mommy and daddy usually only visit twice a year, Gramsy and Deda have been busy since they left in January. For two months we had the remainder of our basement fully finished, building a room for William. We built our home 14 years ago this fall, and finished most of the basement of our bungalow home: two bedrooms, a bathroom and an ample media room. There were plans for the future. There was the “grandchildren’s room” and the bar/kitchenette/games room. I stopped calling the designated alcove the “grandchildren’s room” five years into living here. But, that is what it always was. Once William was born, we knew we must make room for him in our home. Somehow, the work, planning, preparing, scheming and dreaming made the distance between us a little less devastating. As soon as everyone left after the holidays, we began. Now: the unveiling. Above, we have just come down the stairs into the basement.
A little detour to peek at the deacon’s bench. I built one for each of my girls when they were babies, and stripped them both this past Spring. One went home with Aaron for William’s house, and the one above, Gramsy and Deda re-finished and designed to match his room. Oh, what fun it was. I stripped and re-finished furniture with my dad for my University homes, and for my classrooms. It had been so many years, and my dad’s hand was on mine through the entire process. I am so thankful for his many, many lessons. I stripped it; Vanja taped it and I painted it. The design was pure team work. The day William saw his room, this bench was in it. But, as he still sleeps in a crib, we moved the furniture around and put the crib up. Deacon bench relocated until the crib is no longer needed. Yup. It is filled with fluffy stuffed animals, all fresh and clean. I didn’t have the heart to part with anything of the girls. Have always kept their toys for this very moment and the many more to come.
Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom is the guest room and connects to the “grandchildren’s room”, or the newly re-named “William’s bedroom”. The entire group is trailing behind Vanja, Lauren, Aaron and William. Nan, Me, Ragan, and my mom. The door wasn’t big enough to fit us all through to see his reaction, but we heard him.
He was plopped on the floor at the door and stopped to play with the house, then spied the newly re-finished dresser that Gramsy and Deda poured so much love into just for him. Oh, he did not disappoint. He ran right over to it, sleepiness now diminished, and pulled at the colourful handles, finding a resting place for “a rock”.
Below, the photos have been taken after the crib was put up later that day. The dresser moved to where the deacon’s bench was, serving as the perfect place for Gramsy to change a little boy’s diaper.
I love the smell of new. The room still held that smell and welcomed the family into the little room prepared for our grandson. This little room where we hope memories are made and dreams come true. We can imagine him growing here and built it to accommodate every age. There is a trundle bed under the bunk beds and we reinforced the bottom two beds to hold real people, not just children.
Above is the view opposite the crib, or from the crib. To the right, the door back into the guest bedroom that is always mommy’s and daddy’s when they are here. The closet is to the left, and straight ahead is a door that leads into what I call the “Memory Room”. It is a little library and sitting room for nursing, playing, reading, rocking, remembering and dreaming. The crib can even fit in there for future babies that may need to sleep separately from the toddlers. Oh, yes, I want so many grandchildren. Always have. But, if we only every have one, we are blessed.
The Ikea furniture and bins replaced the ice cream tubs filled with the toys that have lived under the stairs for the past 25 years. This little room is a paradise with all of the toys and books unpacked and scrubbed clean.
At the end of the long hall leading into the Memory Room from the other direction is a door from the Games Room. Early every morning, I would sneak down through that door and into his room so mommy could sleep. We would play in the Memory Room and then have breakfast. Come back down to get dressed and play in his bedroom unless it was sunny. Then we would go outside.
Oh, how William loves playing on the top bunk and in the middle “cave-like” bunk. I did too! We had so much fun every morning. Then, he would sit up, look around and say, “Mama! Mama? Mama! Mama?” and would not stop until he pulled open her door and woke her up. Enough of Gramsy. I want my Mama!
When we built the house, they put the electrical in the “Grandchildren’s Room”. We could not believe it. Why not in the furnace room? What were you thinking? One day we missed checking the build, and there it was. It would be $1500 CA to move it, so we did not move it. When finishing William’s room, we had the doors to the cabinet made into a chalk board. Of course, I will have more fun with it that he will. Likely for many years to come.
His bedroom is open to the Memory Room, above. Below, is the Memory Room with Ragan’s Winnie the Pooh (her birthday gift when she turned three) sitting on the little red rocking chair my dad built for me. None of us expected him to sit in the chair and rock, yet that it exactly what he did right after he pulled Pooh off of it and gave him a big hug and kiss.
Above is the other wall of the Memory Room with the door that goes back into William’s room. I have all of my art supplies in the cabinet and that leather chair is the best bargain ever, from Ikea. Exceedingly comfortable and perfect for story time, nursing, bottle feeding and rocking. When I am alone, I will come and sit in this room in the back corner of our basement and dream. Sometimes, I just think and remember…. my dad, and my sister, and Vanja’s mom. On the vintage dresser across from the chair, there are photos of them all with three domes and under each dome is a pair of eye glasses: one from each of them.
Trinkets from days gone by, and photos in old fashioned frames are behind the glass door. A shelf for each person in the family…. and then books of our travels and favourite novels – and the classics.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Picking Raspberries
This was not William’s first drive by picking. I had saved every raspberry on the bush until his arrival, but it was easy, even though they were early this year, as they had just plumped up for picking a couple of days before he arrived. The first morning, William and I explored the back garden, then he ran around the side of the house, pulled on the gate, Gramsy picked him up, and we ventured into the front yard. I plopped him down beside the raspberry bush and pointed to the berries. “Raspberry, William. Raspberry!” He reached out, and the first one needed a bit of help. After that, he got it. “Yummmmm!” We knew he loved raspberries, and it tickled my soul to be standing in my own grandmother’s footsteps (William’s Great-great grandmother) and sharing my raspberry bushes with him, teaching him how they grow and how to pick them. We already knew he loved to eat them, and now he knows how they grow.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Watering Gramsy’s Garden
He learned the same about Saskatoons, black currants, sour cherries, and apples! Sadly, we did not get a photo of Deda picking an apple for William almost daily his last week with us. “Apple! Apple!” Deda would pick a green one for each of them, as they were not yet ripe, and they would both bite into them, puckering up their noses at the tart sour unripened bite, yet keep nibbling.
Nan watered Gramsy’s garden and William was out watering with her. From that day on, every day, he would “water” Gramsy’s garden.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Exploring
Of course, exploring every nook and cranny of Deda and Gramsy’s house was an ongoing favourite activity.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Bye Bye to Beep Beep
The days that Nan and Aaron were with us were a whirlwind of taking her to all of the places Aaron and Lauren wanted her to see, and I was lucky enough to have a full day with her to take her to Whyte Avenue for a bit of browsing, and a drive and tour downtown and around the city. However, the day came that Aaron and Nan, with the car packed to the brim, had to leave. Little William had begun to call his little car “beep beep” (due to the adorable little horn in it) and every morning, as soon as he woke up, he would reach up, smile wide, and beam, “Beep-beep? Beep-beep?” How could Gramsy resist. Out we went, into the early morning sun to play with Beep-beep. Oh, what fun it was. Today, Deda and William say good-bye to Beep-beep (while puttering to fix the horn) as Aaron and Nan are taking it home. He never asked for it again while here.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Eating and Eating
William adored the wooden Toddler spoon Gramsy gave him designed and hand crafted by Earlywood in Red Lodge Montana. It is ergonomically designed to work with a toddler’s grasp and capabilities and as soon as he held it, he was filled with pride as he was able to eat independently with his little spoon. William enjoys his food. He is sporadically fussy, as toddler’s are, yet overall, he really enjoys his food and it is such a pleasure to see him chow down his mother’s healthy creations.
Lauren works diligently to feed him healthy, delicious, nutritious food, as do I. She uses her Thermomix machine daily to create kale spinach and nut popsicles, protein, mineral and vitamin rich meatballs, and so much more. Yet, there is the rare occasion on a very hot summer day when none of us can resist that pleasure of an icy cold treat when there is nothing nutritious in the freezer. And did he notice the difference. I wish we had captured his enthusiastic impassioned “Mmmmm!” as he savored this popsicle.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Running Through the Sprinkler!
Last year, Deda and Gramsy bought a little pool for his visit. We couldn’t wait to get him into the water, and he was not that impressed. He loved his bath, but cold water on a hot day was not his thing. It is now. Oh, my! The first time Lauren took him to a water play park in her neighbourhood, he was vibrating with excitement. I felt like I was right there with him watching the video clip she sent that day so when I saw this odd little water toy for a very reasonable price in the aisle at Superstore, it beckoned me. Gramsy’s are a target when it comes to these kinds of things. No doubt about it, but I usually do employ a good deal of restraint not only because I am a rather frugal gal, but because I don’t want to contribute to any sense of entitlement or “Spoiled Child” syndrome. It has become an epidemic, hasn’t it? In any case, I did pick up this little outdoor water toy, and I believe Deda and I had just as much fun with it as William did.
This steamy hot day in July was a Tuesday, Vanja’s day off, and the girls were at the waterpark in Sylvan Lake enjoying some sister time. Deda and I were spending our day with William. It was a perfect lazy, hazy, crazy day last summer… one I will never forget. Such gleeful guttural giggles.
Above, William in the pool here last year, and below, one year later, at home last weekend. Same speed-o! Same pool. Same boy. Different year.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Watching TV
TV? TV!! I could not believe it when I came downstairs one afternoon to find William sitting in his little chair watching TV. He doesn’t sit still for anything. And, he sat still just long enough for his mommy to take this photo. Good thing, too…. though there is some really educational TV these days for children (and I know, as I watch it – haha!), living vicariously is not what this little guy’s life is about. Funny enough, the chair was the gift I got from my mom last Christmas! I hadn’t realized it was a “media chair”, and thought it was a child’s leather living room chair when I spied it at Costco last year before the holidays. You know, a conversational chair for a toddler. That is what they do, right? Sit nicely, hands in their lap, and babble incessantly about their day with the utmost formality? Anyway, it was my favourite gift, and I could not wait for him to crawl into it.
William at Gramsy and Deda’s July 2016: Building his First Fort and Dancing to the Music!
Another day with Gramsy in charge found her building a fort out of chair cushions on the deck with William. Oh, what a blast we had! Jumping on the cushions, under the cushions, over them, in them and under them again. When Mama came home, William had to show her his fort, though the roof had caved in… and Gramsy had to show her how spontaneously William responds to music when playing. It was such fun to play music and dance with him, too.
William’s Outings: Play Date with Matteo
This is the first trip that we were able to take William on outings in Edmonton! It was such a gift to have him with us for so long, and a great sacrifice from his father. To be home alone for almost three weeks in July is definitely a gift of love and I thanked Aaron daily.
William was able to attend the baby shower that I had for Amy and her new baby, Heidi Marie. Marie is Amy’s mom, and my gal pal for 49 years now. It was such a blessing to have both Lauren and William at the shower. I would have loved Nan to have been there, too, to meet everyone, but was thankful for the opportunity to make this memory.
Matteo is Luciana’s grandson, and 4 months, to the day, younger than William. Luciana is my other gal pal for 49 years. We were invited over to her daughter’s home for a play date! This was Gramsy’s first grandson playdate. It was surreal on so many levels.
William was buckled in, all decked out for fun!
When these two boys saw each other, they both stopped in their tracks, looked at one another, then spontaneously moved toward one another for an embrace. What a testament to the mothering of these two little characters. At that moment, the transfer of our almost 50 year friendship was passed down to the third generation. I was moved to tears.
Julia is Matteo’s mom and is laid back with her parenting style, as is Lauren. By that, I mean, they let their boys explore and interact within their world without jumping up every 30 seconds saying “no” to prevent them from messing things up, or minor harm. Both boys are so loving, and little Matteo has clearly been around his large extended Italian family as he came to Gramsy as if he were my own. He shimmies and shakes, dances to the music and has that playful sparkle in his eye that convinces you he knows exactly how cute and funny he is. He is a little performer and clearly loves to charm his audience. I was instantly in love.
The four month difference in age wasn’t apparent. They played side by side, still very interested in what the other was doing and above, stopped for another big hug, and below, played with the same toy together.
William’s Outings: A day with Gramsy, Aunty Ragan and Mama at Fort Edmonton Park
Again, no group photo. I vow to do better. Oh, what fun we had. Fort Edmonton is a toddler’s paradise. There are not too many activities in the city for this age, but William will get to know Fort Edmonton intimately through the years. We had such an incredible day and there is so much to explore over and over, and more to explore, as well.
We rode the trolley and the train and the wagon. Each was a thrill for William and for each of us, through him. Look at those precious little fingers.
At the gate, the gal told us that horseback riding was happening until 1 pm. Though none of us had known it was even an option preparing to go, it became our first priority.
And though William didn’t grin wide, or giggle, it was evident that he was enthralled as he clutched the horn on the saddle and sat very tall and still listening to the guide and following her every word.
After the dismount, Lauren had to move like lightning to catch him as he raced back to embrace his horsey.
The ride on the wagon through the eyes of a grandchild is a completely new experience. As a young mother, I was concerned about very different things when I viewed the world through the eyes of my gals. I was the mom. They awakened awe in me, but I held the responsibility of providing that foundation of who they are and how to behave. As Gramsy, my responsibility is to love unconditionally, to support my daughter and to enrich the life of my grandson. What an unexpected and eye-opening opportunity. You cannot imagine Gramsying until you are doing it. But, as we all say, “It is truly the best part of our lives!”
William’s Outings: Deda’s 50th Birthday Celebration and The Pig Roast!
Deda turned 50 while William and Lauren were here! Early that morning, everyone woke with Deda in mind. Open! Open!
William loved Deda’s goofy gifts much more than Deda did!
At 4 pm, guests arrived as his 50th fell on a Saturday and Gramsy hosted a pig roast in his honor! Look at that expression! Deda showed William the piggy first, and I wasn’t there and he reached out to touch it. “HOT!” Deda said. “Hot!” William said. When I showed him the piggy just prior to this photo, holding him above it, he exuded an exuberant, “Mmmmmmmmm!” which really surprised me! Not sure about the expression above, though. We joked about damaging his psyche for life.
He has such fun at the party (soon to be posted). He loved his Great Grandma Helen’s buns. Yes, she made 80 that morning for the party! He wondered through the crowd, in his glory, a little out of character for him as he is more of a watcher than a participant in a crowd. Yet, on this day, he would wander, stop, watch, engage, and be on his way. He took to our friend, Rick in the sweetest way, “Piggy! Piggy!” he exclaimed as he reached up for Rick to pick him up and take him to look at the piggy. By this time, William knew it was in the garage being carved for dinner. All evening long, “Piggy! Piggy!” and Rick would take him around to the front of the house for a little visit with the carcass of piggy and a little taste of the succulent flesh. “Mmmmmm!” The next morning, William woke up, reached for me, and as he used to say, “Beep-beep?”, on this morning he enthused, “Piggy! Piggy!” so, our we went for a visit with the remaining head.
William’s love for piggy’s intensified, there is no doubt about it. He knew what a piggy was before. He had seen them at Fort Edmonton Park, and in his books. But, now, he had seen one roast, savored the flesh, and was completely enamored.
William’s Outings: A visit to cousin Denver’s Farm!
William, Lauren, Ragan and Great Grandma went down for an afternoon to visit Denver and Sara. They have chickens and horsey’s and tractors and a big garden: a child’s paradise.
William fed the horse, cried because it ate his cookie, chased the chickens, played on the tractors, romped in the tall grasses and slept all the way home!
William’s Outings: A visit to Great Grandma Helen’s Condo for Coffee with the “Old Folks”
Then a swing out on the deck with Great Grandma Helen. Oh, how proud she was to show him off to her friends in the condo at coffee that morning.
William’s Outings: At the Park
“Park?Park?” After Beep-Beep departed, the early morning request on a sunny day was the park. Gramsy was happy about that. I loved taking William to the park, but learned to take his stroller if it was before the sun had time to dry the grass. “Wet. Wet! Up! Up!” And carrying my little buddy across the expansive park to the play area is a whole different matter, light as he is. Also, Jack may be nimble, Jack may be quick, but Gramsy is old. Seriously, my mother is in better shape than I am. There is no way I could follow him up and down the stairs and the slide and through the climbing apparatus with my newly acquired arthritis. Oh, I was motivated and longed for the agility of my youth, 2 years back! Fortunately, Deda would come to the park, too. Mama and Deda are William’s favourite park buddy as Gramsy is too cautious and not nearly adventurous enough for his 17 month desires.
And does he have desires! He is tireless. Inquisitive. Indefatigable! (I learned this word reading Orwell’s Animal Farm in Grade 10. Can’t recall whether it was when I was the teacher, or the student.)
William Goes Home
The Monday after Vanja’s big party was D-Day. Gramsy did not cry. I got to change him and hold him and cuddle him in the very early morning hours just before we left the house while Lauren was maneuvering her stuff to fit into the allotted bags. Aunty had arranged to fly back with her sister and nephew to assist with all of the paraphernalia on the fight and for a little holiday. Sadly, she arrived at the airport with an old passport. We had just pulled into the driveway when we got the text. Heartsick, Vanja went back to pick her up.
In the end, Lauren managed very well on her own. William slept the second leg of their flight and all the way home, but as soon as he opened his groggy little eyes and spied Beep-Beep parked in the garage, waiting for him, he was out of Mama’s arms in a shot and ready for a ride around the block. “Beep-Beep! Beep-Beep!” How happy he was to be reunited with Beep-Beep!…. and his Daddy! But, I think they were too busy snuggling for photos.