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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grandma Nancy


Five years ago this weekend my grandma, Nancy, passed away. Even though I only saw her once or twice a year, I still miss her very much. So, this weekend I decided to take a trip down memory lane and remember all the things that made her so wonderful to me.

Grandma was a product of the generation that survived and thrived on their thriftiness and determination. In her frugality, she almost never threw anything out. For my bridal shower she wrapped my gift in wrapping paper she saved from my parents wedding shower 21 years earlier. In an effort to try and save money she would dry her clothes on the line rather than use her dryer, even in the winter. We all laughed when she seemed offended that the night air had dared to freeze her load of towels. Ironically, her outdoor freezer was her most prized possession. She believed hat freezing food gave it a shelf life of forever and that in turn saved her more money. She once froze left overs from Sonic and a near empty bag of Doritos for my cousins and brought it back out when they returned for a visit, 6 months later. "Waste not, want not" was her mantra. We once caught her eating moldy cheese, because it was perfectly good in her opinion and we often joke that it was that cheese and the rusted Slim-fast cans (which she was content to wipe "clean") that did her in.

I have fond memories of all of us sitting around playing cards; her, with her special egg nog, smirking over her cards and giving my dad knowing glances across the table as they tried to cheat. Even her chiding us for putting our hands on the walls or elbows on the table is sweet now. Not only did hands and elbows have proper places, but so did most everything else. She hung and shook her head at me when I said that the toilet paper went over the roll... or was that under. We even dubbed her the "Camp Nazi" after we had a camping trip to celebrate her birthday. She was ordering everyone around and remarking on everything from how to properly sweep a campsite to how much homemade Kahlua should be added to her coffee. She took to her nickname quite well. And even though she was a tough, no nonsense woman she was still brought to tears as she looked at all her grandchildren around the campfire and thanked us for such a wonderful birthday gift.

In many ways I am like her. Although I am way too practical for white carpet, I love architecture and one day hope to design and build my dream home, like she did. I have an affinity for black and white. I'm stubborn and I'm pretty strict when it comes to making my kids clean their plates. and I don't mind it at all when my parents jokingly refer to me as Nancy, after all she was beloved by her family.

I still get sad to think she missed the birth of her first great grandchild by 9 days. I had been pretty sure that as we drove away from her house that last Christmas and I watched her standing by her mailbox in the rear view mirror, that it would be the last time I saw her. I held out hope that she would make it till my due date and even though Levi showed up 5 weeks early, it wasn't soon enough for her. Five years later there are 6 great-grandchildren and one more on the way, and she won't meet any of them. But we will tell them all about her. How she made the best canned apricots, always had a jar of Maraschino cherries in the fridge, put shredded carrots in her Jell-o, wore a sea foam green, chiffon, toga dress to my wedding, gave her dog a queen sized bed, and loved all things Chinese. We'll tell them about our summers on the lake, boating and sea-dooing and the conflicts over running the AC when the low was in the 90's, about the glitter in the popcorn ceilings, the times she realized she should stick to giving us kids cash instead of clothes (I got a fabulous cat sweatshirt, complete with glittered whiskers, when I was 14) and the dollar bill she would send each of us on every holiday. These memories and so many others will continue to keep her alive in our hearts.

Love and miss you Grandma!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

1 week prior to the cut

After the birth I my oldest, Levi, I lost so much hair that I freaked out. Both my hairdresser and doctor reassured me that the hormonal changes I was experiencing, causing my hair loss, were quite normal. However, because of my post-pregnancy gall stone, it was almost impossible to eat anything for a while, and it only made matters worse. Within a few months you could see my scalp two inches back from my hairline when I put my hair up. This made my beloved, utilitarian ponytail embarrassing and having my long hair down all the time with an infant just wasn't practical. So, I cut it short, donated my long braid and hoped the new growth I was seeing would catch up faster that way. This time around I had hoped that being healthy and able to eat after Autumn was born would be enough to stave of the shedding. Alas, my hopes were dashed.

I don't know if there was a final straw when it came to cutting my hair this time. Maybe it was how many strands I was pulling out of my kids clean clothes. I began to worry I would have to rush one of them to the ER after inadvertently creating a hair tourniquet and amputating a finger or worse, a penis (you laugh, but I've heard of it happening...poor boy). Or maybe it was how much time I spent pulling hair off my hands while washing it. It literally was coming out in hand fulls. I finally started keeping a brush in the shower to collect it all and you couldn't even see he base of the tynes when I was done, even though I cleaned it out every time. I tried really hard to keep what the brush didn't get from going down the drain, using the walls as a canvas for my hair. It actually helped pull the strands off my fingers and it doubled as a tile scrub when I gathered them together at the end of my shower. Despite my efforts, though, my shower is gathering water in the bottom. And I'm now suspicious that my hair is also behind the two days it is taking the downstairs bathtub to drain and the water sitting in the bottom of my dishwasher. I'm pretty sure they collectively drain to one pipe somewhere. Maybe it was the strand that floated off my head and clung to the side of a pot on the stove, which, of course, scorched as soon as the flame from the burner was lit. I mildly panicked, until I was sure it wasn't trailing back up to the rest on my head. And even though I have an obscene amount of hair, my hair line is receding again. Besides, Autumn has a death grip. So, off with my hair.

My hairdresser is great. I've been going to Wade since I was 16 and this is the third time I've had him cut off this length of hair, or more. And it probably won't be the last. I think my cumulative total is around 45 inches now. My hair grows super fast. The first two times I donated it to Locks of Love but this time I'm going to try something different. A friend told me about (thanks Mel!), a website where you can list your hair for sale. I've been told all my life people pay good money for hair like mine and while I think they meant they pay a lot of money to make their hair look like mine (thank you 1980's perm popularity), now people might actually pay good money FOR my hair. So, I'm going to list it for the month and see what happens. If it doesn't sell in a month, I'll donate it again. But if it does sell, the proceeds will go toward paying off the laser hair removal I'm having done on my bikini line. I thought it fitting and ironic that the blessing/curse of having tons of hair should help pay for removing what I don't want. You can check out my listing at here.

It's weird to think of my hair being implanted onto someone else's head or made into a wig, but I have plenty to share, even after loosing nearly half my volume. And it will grow back, eventually. And eventually I'll vacuum all the hair out of our rug, stop finding it in my food, and maybe I'll even get my drain unclogged. Until then my husband can enjoy 24 hour access to the back of my neck (ok, I will too) and I'll enjoy the longevity of the Costco-sized shampoo and conditioner I just bought. Going from 1/4 cup to 1 tsp of conditioner is going to save me so much money! Hope you all enjoy the pictures from the cut yesterday.

Wade giving my hair one last wash

There it is, coming out in the comb

Here we go!

Four ponytails!

Wade begins sculpting

Autumn came along for the ride

9-16 inches!!

Thanks Wade!

See ya later!

The new me

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What kind of Jesus?


This past week has come and gone with out a blog post and I had to realize that I would come up with a million reasons why I didn't get to it; poor Internet connection, too many appointments, went to bed early, the Olympics began (I'm sure to have a post about them), blah, blah, blah. So, I've picked something that has been rattling around in the recesses of my brain for the past week or so. I call it "What kind of Jesus".

A couple of weeks ago I was in my Wednesday night book study at church and our leader said that everyone has a different picture of Jesus in their minds. When he pictures Jesus he sees Him picking up a child into his arms and giving a bear hug. And knowing what little I do of his childhood it's not surprising. Immediately after he made his statement, I began daydreaming and pondering how I and others view Jesus and what that says about my or their relationship with Him. I missed what happened the next ten minutes in our class, but I had a better understanding of who Jesus is to me.

I assume Mel Gibson pictures Him on the cross, revering his savior whose passion for the world lead him to self sacrifice. I think my dad would see him as the father running to his prodigal son, relishing in the offering of unconditional love, forgiveness and second chances. I wonder if Billy Graham sees him preaching on a hillside, awed by the droves of people coming to Him. Who is Jesus to you? How do you envision Him? I see Jesus walking on sea. The God of the impossible, calling me to get out of the boat. And I, like Peter, want desperately to experience the thrill of walking on the water. And, like Peter, I often get distracted by the waves around me, but I'm ok with that. I'm human, after all, and He is still right there to steady me or grab me before I go under. I've seen him perform miracles, equivalent to hydroplaning, time and time again. And I anticipate there will be many more in my future. I pray that each time I hear Him call my name that I will not hesitate to swing my legs overboard. I hope that eventually I'll kick the habit of panicking in the midst of what He is doing. But even if I freak out everytime until the day that I die, I'd rather be a wet, believing Peter than a dry and doubting Thomas anyday.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mila Hope


February 3, 2006
2:30 AM
Ontario, CA

An ambulance arrives at San Antonio Community Hospital. Inside are two children. One, a 13 year old girl, the other is the 1 lb. 10 oz., 13 inch baby she just gave birth to. When the ambulance arrived at the young girl’s home, minutes earlier, she told them she didn’t even know she was pregnant until her water broke in the shower. The baby girl was not breathing, her eyelids still fused. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would have their work cut out for them.

Four years ago today this is how my oldest daughter entered the world. What do you call it when a child survives a beginning like this? When they survive a grade 4 (of 4) brain hemorrhage, blood transfusions, seizures, bleeding in the retinas, a MRSA infection, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, 53 days on a ventilator, feeding tube, 144 days in the NICU, 1 ½ years in a nursing facility, 8 months in a temporary foster home, leg braces and eye surgery? I call it a Miracle. And that is exactly what her name means; Mila, from the Spanish, milagro. Her past is a miracle and her future has a hope. Mila Hope Grunau has beaten the odds and turns 4 years old today.

Even at four she bears the physical, mental and emotional scars from this traumatic start. She looks like she is two, and acts about the same. She has made huge strides in the year and a half she has been with us. When we got her at 2 ½ she could barely walk, had 2 words and depended on formula for most of her nutrition. Now, you’ll find her racing around the house in her braces and launching herself onto the couch, singing her favorite songs, and scarfing down a bowl of cereal or plate of pancakes all by herself (although she is wearing a good portion of it). We are making progress!! Its hard to say if we are making up any ground at this time, and while that frustrates me on a day to day basis, I occasionally have to step back and remember where we have been. In 2 weeks Mila will have been with us longer than she was with anyone else and I hope that it will be some sort of tipping point for her, that as our work and love becomes the most steadfast thing in her life, she, in turn, will be more stable in and of herself.

Of course, even this year with us hasn’t been the most steady. We’ve moved twice, she is at her second school and she has a new baby sister. While it’s safe to say we are settled in our new school, home and enjoying baby Autumn, I can’t help but wonder if she is still anticipating another major change. It’s hard to know what are realistic expectations for her at this point, considering all she’s been through. And while I have specific goals for her, (I am a long term planner, big picture person) I have to stop myself and remember what is REALLY important. I have to remember that if she isn’t mainstreamed by 1st grade, it’s ok. If she doesn’t exit Special Education by junior high, it will be all right. If she never passes the California High School Exit Exam, we’ll live. Even if she grows up and doesn't appreciate all that we have done for her, as long as she knows one truth, everything on this long and tiresome journey will be worthwhile. As long as she remembers…

Jesus loves her, and this she knows
For the Bible tells her so
Little ones to him belong
She is weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves her
Yes, Jesus loves her
Yes, Jesus loves her
The Bible tells her so

That’s what REALLY matters.

Happy Birthday Mila Hope!