Category Archives: Family

Across The Great Divide

I recently spent some time up at my in-laws’ place planting tomatoes. I got up there in the morning, trying to get there as early as possible, and worked until it just got too hot. The garden has been fallow for more than a year, and the ground was difficult to work.

fallow garden

While I was up there, by myself, in this little clearing in the woods, I had time to just work and think. I dug the dirt and listened to the birds. I planted the tomatoes and felt the breeze. I looked up as Bob, my Mother-in-law’s dog trotted by to check on me before dashing off in pursuit of a chipmunk. It was peaceful up there, and I understand why my Father-in-law loved it. He was ready to retire, so he could work in the garden when he wanted to, keep his bees, play his banjo and find the next hobby.

peach tree at the garden with nice fruit.

Peach tree at the garden with nice fruit.

This was the second attempt at planting tomatoes. You may remember seeing Lollypop covered in dirt a few posts ago – that was from our first attempt, but all our seedlings died and I had to buy some plants to catch up. When we went up to the garden that first time, it was quite a shock to see it so neglected. I had never before seen the garden so grown up with little weeds. The blueberries and asparagus are still doing well, but the rest of it is covered in a bright green carpet.

We did plant some things last year. Jellybean helped me plant a few rows of corn, which all got knocked down by raccoons, and we put out some tomato plants, which yielded a few yummy tomatoes later in the season. But with a new baby for us and cancer treatments and complications for my father-in-law Jim, the garden was pretty far down the list.

three year old jellybean planting corn

Three-year-old Jellybean planting corn last year.

I remember the first time I met my husband’s parents. We were at a birthday party for one of Jim’s band members. It was also the first time I’d heard their band play. The band had been together for many years, watched my husband grow up and were really an extended family to him. That evening was quite enjoyable. I chatted with my husband’s parents about music and all our pets (they also have several cats and dogs). It was easy to talk to them, from the first moment.

I watched them at one point in the night, and Jim put his arm around Becky and they looked at each other and smiled. That moment was so sweet and sincere, and it has cemented itself in my memory. I knew I was watching two people who genuinely loved and cared about each other, even after more than 40 years of marriage.

They welcomed me as part of the family from the start. In the first years of our marriage, we lived a couple of hours apart from my in-laws. Whenever we’d visit, and especially after Jellybean was born, Becky and my husband would go off and play with Jellybean while Jim and I sat and chatted. We would talk about everything. We shared many interests: gardening, music, bread-baking, making things, among others. He was the recipient of my hand knit Christmas gifts every year, and one year he even complimented how much my skill had improved, much to my delight.

Of course, we didn’t agree on everything. We’d butt heads on occasion, most often about child-rearing topics, but he always respected me and my positions.

In the last months of his illness, he would tell me things he hadn’t mentioned to my mother-in-law yet, about a symptom he was having or how he felt. She might have overheard us talking if she was in the house, or I would talk to my husband about it and then he would tell his mother. I think that was a way to mention things to her in a round-about way.

He was genuine, down to earth, and a lot of fun to be around.

And I miss him oh so much.

We found out in late March last year that he had esophageal cancer that had already spread to his lymphatic system. He went through treatment that summer and it seemed promising, but it only reduced the size of the tumor in his esophagus. Further treatments were complicated by other long-term health issues. He passed away just before Thanksgiving.

I’m glad we moved when we did. We have been able to help out in ways that would never have been possible living more than 2 hours away. Jim got to meet Lollypop, which might not have been possible if we didn’t live so close. Jellybean got to spend some good time with them, too, even spending the night once. (Jellybean remembers going to eat at Captain D’s, and Granddaddy running over the rumble strip on the highway on the way there. Accidentally, at first, but then again and again because it made Jellybean laugh.)

lollypop with his granddaddy

Lollypop with his Granddaddy, September 2016

 

As I worked in the garden that morning, he was on my mind. He would be so proud of his grandsons. Jellybean is smart and clever, with seemingly endless energy. Lollypop is a little sweetheart, learning new things every day. He would be proud of his son, too. My husband has always been the level-headed sort, and he’s been running the family business since we moved here.

granddaddy and his banjo

Granddaddy and his banjo

 

It feels like an enormous loss to the world for Jim to be gone, but he leaves an incredible legacy. He contributed to the world in quiet ways: by putting his best effort into everything he decided to do, being generous with his knowledge, and loving the people in his life as much as possible. He taught my husband these same values and my hope is that we can honor him by raising our boys half as well.

jim's boys

Jim’s Boys

 

The title of this post is also the title of a song that Jim and his band played frequently. I think it was special to Jim and the band and their interpretation of the song always moved me, no matter how many times I saw them play it. It seems fitting to end this post with it.

This is Hickory Wind, playing at the Mountaineer Folk Festival at Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee. September 7, 2014.

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Robot Fever

Since we just had a last first birthday, we just had a last first birthday party. Since it is the last one, I wanted to make it good. It wasn’t a big party, just our family and close friends, but of course I had fun with it anyway.

The theme was Robots!

I must say a huge thank you to Pinterest for all  my ideas. I did this party pretty easily and cheaply, and still made it adorable. I recycled a bunch of stuff to made cardboard robots and the supplies I did buy were inexpensive. I got a lot of practice with spray paint and a hot glue gun!

One thing I splurged on, though, was a set of printables from SimoneMadeIt. I felt the price was reasonable, considering the absolutely adorable robots. I didn’t have to design it, I just had to put my text on it and print it out. She has tons of other cute ideas for party printables, too. I will be keeping her website on hand for the future.

robot parade

Robots ready for the invasion!

First, when our guests came in, there was the GreeterBot. He stood next to the front door and showed everyone the way in. He would have been holding balloons, but it was a very windy day and he was quite unstable already. I didn’t want him to fly away!

Our guests were welcomed to wear some robot antennae from the idea below. I hot glued the silver sparkly pipe cleaners to the headbands, and I folded half of them ahead of the party. I invited our guests to fold their own, and some were very creative!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures of our guests’ antennae, but they were a hit. Lollypop sure enjoyed wearing them. And a week later, both boys are still playing with the leftovers.

We had a fun banner hanging over the table.

robot birthday banner

Click to see the image larger

Big brother even drew a robot for his little brother to hang with the decorations.

robot party big brother

Big Brother’s Robot. This is SO going into Lollypop’s baby book!

We even had robot themed food. Since it was an afternoon party, we had only light snacks:

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20170508 Robots Cyborg Cakes
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Nuts and Bolts – Homemade Chex Mix
A Robot utensil holder
Anti-Freeze – Juice Boxes
The whole spread
Cyborg Cakes – mini brownies
Microchips – Crackers
Treat Bags for all the guests, which included a kazoo, a glow stick, Robot Energy Cells (Hershey bars) and a lollypop (of course!)

These are not pictured, but we also had Mega Bytes – hummus with pita bread and naan, Robot Oil (for robot adults) – Decaf Coffee, and of course we clearly marked the disposal unit (the trashcan)

Lollypop was spoiled with gifts from all our friends and family. I mentioned to several people who asked for ideas that he had a really pitiful amount of stuffed animals (three, to be exact) compared to his brother who had tons. So among the clothes, books and other toys, he got stuffed animals galore. Mimi got him his first teddy bear, he got a three-toed sloth (Awesome!), a lion, a tiger, and three dinosaurs. Well, and this wouldn’t be a knitting blog if I didn’t tell you about my stuffed gift to him. You guessed it, a stuffed robot!

remy robot

I think I really like making stuffed toys. The pattern is Remy Robot by Rae Blackledge. I used leftover Knit Picks Brava yarn from my stash. He’s cute and was a lot of fun to make, even though I put him together completely different than the pattern specified, and his left foot/leg is on backwards. (I can fix that later.)

We all had a really good time visiting with friends and Lollypop thoroughly enjoyed all the attention.

Our first year with two kiddos is in the books, and I am looking forward to the rest.

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One

So, around this time last year, there was a little baby born.

Baby Lollypop

He had a rough start, with feeding and allergy issues, but we’ve found workarounds for those issues and he’s thriving.

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His birthday, this past Sunday, came and went without too much fanfare. We had plans to visit family and we took some brownies to celebrate with, but the real party is next week.Baby Rawr Hat

I’ve so enjoyed watching him grow up this last year, but it does come with a touch of sadness. He’s our last baby, so his life will be the last of the firsts. This is the last first birthday. He’s had the last first tooth, the last first step, and so on. There aren’t as many photos of his every milestone, like there was with Jellybean, but so it goes with second babies.

lollypop in leaves

First time discovering leaves aren’t very tasty.

He’s at a stage right now where he’s into everything, learning and exploring, and while it is absolutely exhausting, it is so much fun to watch. He can say “Uh Oh”, “Ow”, and just recently learned “No.”

He has a word for “this” and “Daisy” and he makes his barking sound when we get home and get out of the car, as he’s looking around for Daisy. When he gets done eating, he calls for her to come clean up the food on the floor, too!

He adores his big brother and they play together more and more frequently these days.

Lollypop and Jellybean

One day, we’ll have coordinating furniture that isn’t cat-clawed. Maybe in about 20 years.

He loves his mama, almost to the point of being clingy, but can’t quite resist a little adventure. He’s timid around strangers, much more so than his brother was at this age. I’m ok with that.

He’s a happy child, but not without his little moments, of course. He’s fun, funny, smart and mischievous. He’s my baby boy.

Mama and Lollypop

Working at the garden. (if you can count eating dirt as working!)

Happy birthday, Lollypop.

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Family Weekend

We’re traveling home from a weekend with my parents, and I’m writing this on my phone.please excuse any weird autocorrect mistakes. 🙂 

We’ve all had a good time at my parents’ house. This was Lollypop’s first time to visit them, and he was a little dubious at first, but he warmed up really well. Especially when Papaw was swinging him around and around. 

Jellybean got to play in the dirt, see Papaw’s workshop, read stories with Mimi, and get spoiled with bunny grahams, ice cream, tv and staying up late. 

We’re all tired, of course, as it goes when you travel, but it’s so worth it. 

I got to do a little bit of knitting. I had been participating in a design challenge, but I got stuck on step 3 of 5 and wasn’t able to concentrate on it enough to get past the hump. I will continue on with the challenge this week, thigh, and I may end up with a pattern out of it. 

I managed to finish block 9 of the Knitterati Afghan. This one wasn’t my favorite looking block, but it was actually quite fun to knit. 

There’s a lot going on in this one. Cables around the border, wraps, 5-stitch bobbles, 3-stitch bobbles, a 1-to-7 stitch increase and a 5-stitch decrease. It definitely kept my interest as I was knitting.

It still needs to be blocked, but I wanted at least one picture for my post today. I have blocks 7 and 8 finished and blocked, but of course I didn’t take photos of those before we left. (I was to busy getting us all packed!)

The next big item on my to do list is planning a first birthday party! I’m having so much fun planning this one, but trying to keep it small. I’ll tell you all about it in a few weeks! 

Have a great week, my friends! 

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