Leah, Hannah and an Odyssey
Living with Leah and baby Hannah has been blessing with a little bit of downside… I may be reading or working on my cross-stitch or doing some volunteer work for my church but to Leah, my door is always open, even if its closed. I will hear her coming before she gets to my door because she always walks with a purpose, clump, clump, clump come her feet to my door. The handle slowly turns (unless she is running away from Mommy and Daddy), and there she is!
Sometimes, it is to give me a baby doll to hold or pretend food to eat. Often, it is to pick out books to read together. When she crawls on my lap, she says, “Going up!” because I push the button to raise the foot rest, and her. All my grandkiddos love to do that!
I have two bins of books in my room that Leah can chose from, the round bin on the stand holds all the board books that she loves so much. The square bin on the floor has the hardbound and paper copies of books that are near and dear to me. Many of the board books are from an author by the name of Sandra Boynton. Leah’s most favorite is Red Hat, Green Hat. In the story about colors, all the animals put on different colors of clothing such as pants, shirts, hats, coats, and socks. All, but the turkey. It puts on clothing in silly ways – pants on its head, coat on its face, shirt upside down, etc. In the end, he puts everything on correctly – and jumps into the pool! Leah loved the book from the first day we read it together but I did not realize how well she got the humor until, when she began to talk, she put her socks on her hands and told me, “I be like turkey!” From then on, everything she did in a silly way, was being like turkey. I was so delighted by this love of the book, that I went on Sandra Boynton’s website and wrote her fan email. I even got a reply thanking me for enjoying the books. I have archived this email to keep forever. I had never written fan mail before and my first was to a children’s author!
It is so much fun to read Where the Wild Things Are together. We yell our terrible roars, roll our terrible eyes, gnash our terrible teeth and show our terrible claws together. As we read, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, she tells me what the mouse is going to ask for next. Just an extra aside to this… Delilah loves this book, too. Being four years old, she is more aware of behaviors. One day, after our “hundredth” time of reading the book, she says, “That mouse wants EVERYTHING!”
If Leah is escaping Mommy or Daddy, usually to avoid bed, my door opens with a BLAM!!! And, she jumps on my lap yelling, “Save me! Save me!” No matter how busy I am or how much I would rather be alone, I can’t turn Leah down. How would she feel if she was rejected by her Nana? That’s a thought I don’t want to explore.
Leah is still not potty trained which is a great consternation to her parents. And its not because she doesn’t know how, its because she refuses! Leah will tell us immediately when she has peed or pooped in her diaper. She doesn’t mind lying on the changing table with her legs hanging over the side. But, she does mind us telling her that she should be using the potty. Yesterday, she ran into the bathroom while her mother was showering and pulled back the curtain to tell her mom that she pooped. Mommy got excited and asked, “In the potty?” Leah actually rolled her eyes and sighed and said, “No Mom, IN my diaper!” She has even told us that she doesn’t want to hear about the potty. She says, “Don’t talk to me about that!” and “Don’t say that word!”
I love how Leah talks. She grasped the idea of being polite very easily and now will say, “Thanks, Mom!” when she is given something she asked for. She can easily carry a conversation anytime and use very complex sentences but she has a few sounds she can not make. Fingers is pronounced with a “D” such as my “dingers” have dip on them! She will tell us that she can’t “yait” instead of “wait.” So cute! Daddy also introduced her to movies and now she knows what a princess is. Her favorite is, of course, Frozen. When she first watched it, she would find a long blanket and wrap it around her “like Elsa.” I got her a dress-up Elsa dress for Christmas and she wears that constantly. She also got accessories from Santa but she won’t wear her tiara with her Elsa dress because Elsa does not wear a tiara.
This morning, her daddy gave her “Oh-ohs” for breakfast. As he put them away, he asks her if he was allowed to eat some. At first, she said they were HER Oh-ohs, but then said he could have a tiny bit. She demonstrated with two fingers close together. When he popped a few in his mouth, she said, “That’s all! Put them away – now!” It’s so funny to see this little two-year-old giving orders to her father.
Rachel is a vegetarian so when Leah started to eat table foods, she ate mostly vegetables and fish. From early on, she has always hated chicken. Her mom tried to trick her into trying it by putting chicken in a sauce but in one bite, Leah yelled, “This is chicken! I don’t like chicken!” So, there is no fooling her. Leah had no processed foods – mostly fresh or made from scratch but when her daddy moved into the house, she was introduced to hotdogs and desserts. Hotdogs have now become her favorite. And dips! Everything HAS to have a dip with it – ketchup, mustard, especially mayonnaise. She would put that on everything if allowed. And, she loves dips for her pancakes such as blueberry syrup. Mike makes that with fresh blueberries and Leah loves it.
And the tantrums! Oh such drama from such a little child! If someone tells her, “no”, down on the floor she goes with her arms stretched over her head and her legs spread-eagled! Such wailing and screaming! If someone suggests something that is to her liking, she quickly jumps up and all is good again! Seeing her do these theatrics brings back memories of another little girl, several decades ago, doing the same thing in my living room! Like mother, like daughter, shall we say?
Its wonderful having an infant in the house again. Hannah is only three weeks old so she is is pretty new to the goings on in this world. She is staying awake for longer periods of time and stares into your face when you look at her. She can easily be comforted by holding her on my shoulder, jiggling her and patting her bottom. She prefers to lie on her side and wiggles until she gets that way. I keep forgetting to put her on her side or back when I put her in the bassinet. In MY day with infants, we were not to put a baby on her or his back because the little one could burp and aspirate on the spit up milk. Now that the experts have researched SIDS, my children’s generation is told to put a baby on his/her back to sleep until the infant can roll over. I have done it twice now, automatically putting Hannah belly down. I have to override the “old way to care for infants” tape that runs in my head with the new way. I don’t want Rachel to worry about Hannah when she returns to work in April and Hannah is in my charge.
I watch Rachel and Mike learning how to manage two little girls throughout the day – and throughout the night. Its a difficult process at times. Hannah is awake often to breastfeed so Rachel gets up with her and feeds her in the rocker in the room. Because Leah is still pursued by those monsters and dinosaurs that try to eat her while she sleeps, she is waking up and crying for Mommy, too. Daddy settles her most nights but sometimes, she just won’t go back into the crib (she has been promised her big girl bed when she uses the potty) so Rachel lies down with her on the bed in Leah’s room to help her go back to sleep. Then, Mike has to come and get Rachel to feed Hannah. Neither are getting a full nights sleep right now.
Leah has become a picky eater and often refuses dinner. The rule is that she doesn’t have to eat but she must sit in her seat until everyone is finished eating and the table has been cleared. This causes much crying as Leah whines and bargains to get down from the table. Several nights, Hannah is crying, too. I’ve “been there, done that” and I eat quickly and escape to my room. The memory of two crying children at one time is very vivid in my memories of thirty some years ago. That’s when I become selfish. There are perks to being the Nana and not the parent and I don’t feel guilty claiming them.
Know what puts a lump in my throat? Seeing my two sons melt like butter when they saw Hannah! Tim rushed to the sink to wash his hands so he could hold her. When did my two ornery boys turn into such loving parents? I’ll never forget that feeling I had when I saw them with their sister’s newborn.
When Rachel returns to work, there are times when I will need to transport three children to various places. My blue Saturn has room for only two car seats. Not even a booster fits in the backseat with the two car seats. Plus, I have eight grandchildren! I want to be able to pick up any of them whenever needed. So, I needed a new car – preferably, something with three rows. Now, I have said before how nervous I am while driving on the highway, but driving anywhere makes me nervous. Adding several more feet of automobile to my driving was giving me concern but I was determined to try out a van.
Like any good secondary librarian, I did my research and found that there are three vans at the top of the list for ease of driving, safety and personal comforts. I don’t plan to give this car up for ten years or more so I wanted something I would really LIKE driving – one that had some nice bells and whistles to it. I am also rather shy and going out to negotiate with a car dealer about something so important was causing some anxiety. But, now that Rachel is home for her girls and the week for babysitting Delilah was only on Friday, I knew I that this was the best time to try out cars. Aaron, my youngest, agreed to go with me. I wanted someone who knew car mechanics but also wanted a second set of ears to hear what the dealer has to say.
One Tuesday morning during these weeks, I picked up Aaron and went to the local Honda dealer. I was introduced to Tom Smith and I explained my two agendas – I needed a three-row automobile to be able to transport my grandchildren and I was retired so this car was to last for awhile. I needed it to be as new as I could afford but not as expensive as a 2017 would be, it had to have as many safety features as I could get for my money and for my own pleasure, I wanted some nice things such as heated seats, lots of technology so my phone would hook up to it, automatic doors and locks, and anything else I could cram into the price. My secret wish was that it would be a pretty color such as deep blue or red. And, I always wanted a moonroof. The three of us walked to the vans and Tom introduced me to six different years, mileages, prices, safety devices and perks. There was a red one and a nice blue one but the best one was a 2016 with only 9000 miles on it. It had a backup camera and a right side camera. It had heated leather seats. My phone would Bluetooth to it. It was silver. But, with all these other nice things I wanted, silver didn’t sound so bad.
Then, it was time to test drive it. I was very nervous but the van drove so smoothly that there was no learning curve from my little Saturn to this big Odyssey. I drove right through the city and it seemed easier than my Saturn. The side camera was very handy to use if I felt I needed it. It also came on when I put my right turn signal on. The car was so clean and new! NO scratches or dings. NO stained carpet or seats! It was beautiful and I was done. This was my car. I sent a text to Rachel and she reminded me that I had planned to try out all three of the ones I had researched. But, I knew I didn’t need to, especially when we negotiated installing a remote start for $100. With the money I had to put down plus my old 2003 Saturn, I could afford the payments so, later that afternoon, I signed and signed and signed and signed so I could drive it off the lot and home.
I drove it off the lot, and back to Aaron’s house. He had not been with me for the signing and I wanted him, and Mary, to see it! I parked and froze in panic! I didn’t know how to turn it off! There was no key! I had to text Aaron and Mary to come out and show me what to do. I can’t believe myself sometimes!
It was dark when I parked it at home so I took the manual with me to learn all about my car. Being a reader and a lover of details, I read that manual from cover to cover, highlighting and “sticky noting” pages as I went. There were so many things in the manual that asterisked with a “if equipped” so I was excited to check everything out to find all the perks I did have. The next morning, I had an appointment, so I left before the family came downstairs. Once, I returned home, I stayed in the van, pairing my phone and setting my radio channels. I learned that not only did I have keyless entry, I also had push- button start and climate control! I set the climate temperature for 70 degrees and the car heats or cools itself until it reaches that temperature. No more fiddling with the temperature controls and the fan!
My seat had touch controls to move it up, down, and back or front. The side windows have window curtains to pull down to keep out the sun. While I was setting everything to my liking, my phone rang – through the van speakers! The steering wheel had a button which I pushed to answer Rachel. She was wondering where I was. Since I was gone from my rooms and my van was parked on the street, she had this thought that I had fallen down the basement steps!
There is a DVD player in the van, too, but my trips from preschool, daycare and church take less than fifteen minutes – hardly time to use it – but it’s nice to have, in case. When everything was set up to my liking, I got out and locked my new car. As I walked up the driveway, I was looking over the sheet of things the van was equipped with to make sure I had learned how to control everything. It’s the paper that is stuck to the side window of every car for sale on a car lot. Reading through the list, I saw MOONROOF. I stopped and turned around to look – yes, my new van had a moonroof! The dealer didn’t say anything and I just never noticed it with all the other things to discover! I ran back to the van, climbed back in – and played with the MOONROOF!!!l
- Edna St. Vincent Millay said, in one of her poems, “Oh, world, I can not hold thee close enough!.” That is how I feel so often. There is such a joy, when I am spending time with my grandchildren, that overcomes me so that it takes my breath away. All I can really do is thank God for all my blessings.
- There are times when Mike comes home with something for Leah. He calls out, “Leah, I have a surprise for you! There is a great emphasis on surprise and its drawn out like surrr-prissse! It is always something that will give Leah great delight. God must have been saying the same thing when I read over that equipment sheet and saw I had a moonroof. I can hear Him say, “Debra, I have a surrrrprisse! for you! What an awesome God!