Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great Gram

This post is very behind schedule, but way too important to be forgotten. I have no excuses for slacking on my blog other than trying to keep my kids alive and happy, which sometimes takes a whole lot more energy than you can imagine. So each time I've attempted to work on this entry, Sophie has won me over in her pleading attempt to recruit me for a game of Chutes and Ladders, or read a story, or dance to music. How can I resist such great offers? Or else it's Jack wanting to play Eric's newly invented game "Run-Hug", which consists of Jack standing by the front door with one of us sitting in family room, waiting with eagerness to receive our crazy little man as he says "GO" and runs across the room in a full sprint.

I have realized that it can be hard to find a balance between productivity (especially if you are as task oriented, or, some might say "anal" as I sometimes am) and enjoying the tender age of toddlers who eventually are not going to be as excited about spending time with their Mommy. So I opted for the game, books, dancing and hugs this time around and have been rewarded with precious memories and even a Chutes and Ladder victory. And the blog entry will still eventually get done along with everything else on my increasingly longer list of to-dos.

A few weeks ago, my maternal grandmother, known to me as "Gram" and known to the kids as "Great Gram", graced us with her presence for about 5 days. Sophie has seen Great Gram often enough to have established a sweet bond with her, and I couldn't be happier. After one of Great Gram's earlier visits when Sophie had just started to talk, every time she saw the white-haired lady on the Ingles commercial she would shout "Great Gram!". This was Jack's third time seeing her, and depsite the fact that he didn't remember her, he was more than happy to show off some of his boy stunts, and was generous with flirtatious smiles and babbling conversation.

Since we didn't get a lot of pictures this visit, I decided to include some from past visits as well. In the process of looking for pictures, I realized how remarkable it is that we have seen Great Gram so many times throughout the beginning years in both Sophie and Jack's lives. When Sophie was born, we still lived in Northern Virginia, and since Great Gram is just outside of Richmond, our visits were even more frequent then.

While Atlanta is certainly more of a trek for her, she has still been able to visit once or twice a year, and we have been fortunate to see her for other family gatherings throughout the years as well, including visits to upstate New York, California, and even a trip to Italy. She has always been a trooper when it comes to traveling to see family, and is always eager for new experiences.

I have always had tremendous admiration and respect for my Gram. She is a strong woman who has consistently put her best foot forward despite some tough times throughout both her childhood and adult life.

She was very young when she began her adventure into motherhood, and it always gives me comfort (and more importantly, perspective) that she can't necessarily remember the gory details of some of the more challenging aspects of parenting -expecially those things that seem so big at the time but in the grand scheme of things are actually quite insignificant.

I am relieved and encouraged whenever she tells me I'm doing a good job at this parenting thing (which can be refreshing since my kids certainly aren't telling me that!), because she is one of the greatest mothers that I've ever known, and to receive a nod from her is a big compliment. The fact that all 3 of her children turned out to be pretty extraordinary individuals who love each other and their families, enjoy being together, and more importantly love and respect her, testifies to that.

When I listen to Gram reflect on her experiences as a mother even in the vaguest sense, or when I listen to my Mom or her sister or brother tell stories about their childhood, the focus is on the fun they had together, and the relationships they built in their family over the years. It seems to me that this love and nurturing, and fostering of strong bonds between family members is one of the most important contributions a mother can make to her family, and I will certainly feel like I've done the job well if one day in the distant future, my children still like to be around each other and have the kind of love and respect for me that we all do for Gram. She is an amazing women and we are blessed to have her in our lives.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Swim Lessons

Sophie had her much anticipated first swimming lesson yesterday afternoon. It was a one-on-one lesson at the home of "Miss Brencie", who has worked with this age group for many years. Fortunately Jack was able to be home with a babysitter (Thanks, Laurie!!) so that Sophie and I could embark on this experience without having to worry about the endless possibilities for Jack to turn 20 minutes poolside into his own little adventure. Especially since I wasn't sure how Sophie would respond to her first lesson, it was a relief for both of us to not have to worry about what we like to call "attack of the Jack".

At the beginning of the summer, Sophie was still pretty reluctant about getting her head wet despite loving being in the pool. She even wanted to use Jack's float to ensure she wouldn't go underwater. We've tried to take her to the pool as much as possible in order to acclimate her to the water before her lessons started, and she's become increasingly comfortable. It helps that all of her friends love the water too, and I think watching their comfort in the pool has helped alleviate some of the anxiety she may have had.

She had a great experience at her first lesson, and to my delight was not at all wary about being alone in the pool with Miss Brencie or being challenged to completely put her face underwater and dive for rings. At one point when she was learning how to float on her back, she told Miss Brencie it was time to do something different! I guess she got a little bored with that part and was more eager to practice going underwater.

Later that evening, we filled up our jacuzzi tub because she wanted to practice her new skills, knowing that we will return in a few days to learn even more. It's so fun to watch how quickly a child can acquire new skills, and more importantly, embrace new opportunities with such enthusiasm.

We will return for several more lessons throughout the summer, and even Jack is going to take a couple (with Mommy in the pool, too). Stay tuned for more posts... next up is Great Gram's visit!