Sunday, June 01, 2008

Thoughts on Family

It's been another pretty weekend here in the Midwest, and even better, we haven't wasted every minute of it. Friday night we gathered up the family members and headed out to Alum Creek Park to commune with other members of the PTA and kids in Sarah's school. There were a great many deserts available and I managed to sample a few small items and not completely wreck my nascent diet.

Yes, I'm on a diet. I could definitely stand to drop about ten more pounds, tone up the saggy midriff, and flaunt my mid-life, undefined abs around the pool this summer. Besides, Lynda has been working very hard to shed the remainder of her pre-Hannah weight and a family that diets together . . . well, you know.

Besides, we've got a friendly bet going on. Because, the couple that goads each other, well . . . you probably know that too.

Saturday was almost too busy to be believed, especially in my sheltered, structured life. First I took Grace to her gymnastics class in the morning. After a quick lunch when we got home, we stepped over to our neighbor's house for their son's 4-year-old birthday party. Again, I only ate a bit of cake and ice cream. Once the party was over, Lynda took the older girls to another school-related party while I held down the home front with Hannah. And after we found something to eat for dinner, the girls watched their weekend movie while Lynda bakes cakes to be raffled off at church this morning. We're raising money for the Vacation Bible School outreach program that begins in July.

All very social and communal, to be sure, but it's good to step outside, talk to other people and wonder if we can make more friends with Sarah's classmate parents, some of whom live pretty close by. In the heady spirit of getting to know people, we are in the process of talking ourselves into starting this Fall to host a neighborhood Halloween Party. We have no more thoughts or details on it yet, but if we can pull it off, we might find new ways of stretching ourselves out into the world that our kids are entering. It's a place we need to be.

Today we drug the kids out again to ride bikes a bit. We pedaled our way to the neighborhood middle school and let Grace gain confidence going faster around the track. She is always initially reluctant to get out there and do it, but I think she feels accomplished once it's all over. Grace needs the attention, since she is the Middle Child after all, and its a shame, because she's got such a vibrant personality and is so willing to step out there and get into it with anyone. That is what makes her so unique and special compared to the rest of us. I want her to know how vibrant she can be and how she can make a room pay attention to her.

After bike riding, Lynda and S & G decided to drop over at the pool for a bit--the first pool visit of the season. I am staying here with Hannah, who hasn't had much nap time today and we are worried that her ear infection isn't completely subdued. We used all the medicine, but she pitched a right good fit earlier this afternoon that has all the markings of a "My Ear Hurts" problem.

In non family news, our back yard is a mess. We finally got started on the deck removal/patio installation project. I should clarify that the people we hired to do it got started. The old deck is now gone and there is a semi-prepared hole in the ground where it used to be. We've been reassured that the concrete will be poured on Tuesday, so hopefully I can anticipate the weekend with a nice book on my new patio before too much longer.

The good news about this is that I now only have to mow the front yard while all the mess is occurring in eh back. After we're done with this current project, we'll see about the last one we've got in mind--bringing some order to the backyard landscape. It is a real hodgepodge of beds, weeds, scraggly trees, sun-burned hostas, and I don't know what all back there and we're both tired of it.

When we bought the house, the yard was in better shape--though it wasn't a show piece. I knew that it would decline from that starting point, because given the choice, I'd rather read a book that weed a flower bed. Strange--in a way--since my dad loves nothing more (or not much more) that to plant, bed, weed, shape, and manicure. In all the houses that I grew up in, my dad's concern for the yard would shine through. My childhood home--as you can see in this decades old picture--was full of azalea bushes, pine needle beds, and beautiful things.

I know Dad cherishes this picture because the house looks nothing like this now. The people that bought the house when we left (the summer before my senior year in HS) neglected it and let it grow over (like I'm doing now). It makes him sad to see what became of all of those years of care. But, the memories of a happy family remain and that house--that image of that house--will always be home to me. I'll carry it in my memories forever, until I can't recall anything anymore. The home they live in now is more like Grandmother and Pappaw's home--the place where those of us that grew up strong on Woodruff Street can bring their own strong families to gather together and celebrate The Family. And that is just as valuable. May our children carry strong memories of the new yard, the new trees, the grass, the shed, and the weenie roasts forward into their own adulthood.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave for you nice thoughts about your memories of growing up on Woodruff Street. There were great times and I am glad they were special to you. I loved that yard, but equally love the one I have today. I love seeing plants grow, I guess. Working keeps me young and the body strong. Guess I learned that from my Dad. Love to all. I enjoyed reading about your weekend. Anxious to see your new yard on our next trip to Ohio. Looking forward to the family's visit this summer.

Love to all.. the "old" gardener.