Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Family Time

This past weekend, my husband and I packed up our daughters and drove four hours through Illinois corn and soybean fields to Otter Lake.  Meeting us there were my dad and stepmom, my sister Lindsey, my brother Brandon and his son, and my brother Kyle, his wife and two sons.  It was the first time our whole family had been together since my other brother Brent's funeral in December.

This was a weekend long in the making.  No family is without drama, even mine, but after Brent's sudden death just before Christmas, we all decided it was time to put differences in the past and bring our families together.  I'm so glad  we decided to do this.

My girls were loving being on the boats and in the water.  They got to fish with their Uncle Kyle and Grandpa Lou, and boy were the fish biting!  One after another, the bluegill popped out of the air, only to be removed from the hooks and (most of the time) released back into the water.  The fun was in the catching!

I reveled in the fact that we were all getting along, that laughter was ringing through the air, and that all of our kids were healthy and thriving.

Brent's absence was obvious, though as I thought about it, I realized that he was there in the smiles and laughter of his nieces and nephews.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Growing Up

Earlier this week, my almost-10-year-old daughter started asking me about various ways to style her hair.  She has an American Girl book called Hair:  Styling Tips and Tricks for Girls that she's been reading quite a bit lately.  My girl has been growing her hair out since she first saw Pocahantas and decided she wanted her hair to blow in the wind just like the Disney princess.  A few months ago she mentioned that she'd like to donate her hair to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.

My girl's hair is incredibly thick - when wet it's nearly impossible to get a ponytail elastic around it.  It's beautiful brown hair that flows down her back.  It's also incredibly hot.  With the Chicago area heatwave in full force, she decided enough was enough; it was time to cut the hair.

I made an appointment for both of us to get our hair cut by my stylist this afternoon.  The girl decided she would go second so she could think about how exactly she wanted her hair cut.  Her eyes were a little teary, and I could tell she was beginning to feel unsure about the big cut-your-hair plan, so as she climbed into the chair and began to tell Mikel about her dream hairstyle, I breathed a sigh of relief.

So now it's done.  My baby made her SECOND grown-up decision today (the first was getting her ears pierced), and I couldn't be more proud of her.  She looks fabulous, but also older than I'd like her to look.  I know her hair will grow out, and I know I'll get used to to the new 'do, but I know I'll also miss the little girl she used to be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot summer days...

It's HOT here in Chicago today.  It's going to be even hotter tomorrow.  These hot summer days have got me thinking about summers I spent as a kid, growing up in southern Illinois. 

Here are some things I remember...
  • riding my bike all over town
  • running crazily through sprinklers, either our own or the one belonging to whichever neighbor was watering his lawn at that particular moment
  • swimming at my grandmother's country club and signing my aunt's name to the charges
  • camping with my dad's parents and family at Clearwater Lake in Piedmont, Missouri, and taking the boat on long rides up the river to a spot where the water was so clear I could see all the way to the bottom and so cold it almost hurt to swim in it
  • "camping" with my mom's parents and family at Anthony Acres Resort in Effingham, Illinois, and playing shuffleboard on the playground
  • waterskiing until my hands hurt so badly I could no longer hold on to the rope
  • playing with my friends until the sun went down, whatever time that was
  • catching fireflies
  • reading under a tree
  • hanging out at a different small-town homecoming every weekend while my dad worked at the beer stand (my grandfather owned a beer and liquor distributorship, and my dad was one of his managers).  My mom would hand me a handful of ride tickets and off my brother and I would run.  We would only return to get MORE ride tickets, or perhaps fifty cents for a corn dog or some cotton candy.
I DON'T remember...
  • sitting inside watching TV
  • being bored
  • having my days planned out for me
  • feeling hot!
I think about how my childhood summers are so different from those of my own daughters.  I know times have changed, and I'm sure I was bored AND hot quite a bit during the summers (nostalgia makes even summer look perfect).  I hope that while the experiences are different, my kids will look back and think "Wow.  Those were the days."