Grandpa

My grandfather, Tom Lowder, died on July 9 of this year. He was born August 14, 1923, in Lake West, Oklahoma. He grew up the youngest of seven during the Great Depression, losing his father when he was only 2-years-old. He fought in World War II, earning three bronze battle stars. He raised five kids, while working for the Sohio Oil Company for 43 years, retiring in 1985.

He was a success professionally and personally. He never went to college, but he worked his way up to regional superintendent of the Sohio Oil Company. When he retired, they named a building after him.

He worked hard and played hard. He loved his family and life more than anything. Two of his other passions were music and tending his yard, both of which he indulged to his heart’s content after he retired and in his spare time before that. I like to think I inherited my love of music from him. Many people in our family love music, but he LOVED it. And so do I. Some of his favorites were the Bee Gees, Frank Sinatra, and Neil Diamond. My earliest memories are to a soundtrack of Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees, the Pointer Sisters, Wham. Grandpa had the most eclectic musical taste of any grandfather I ever knew. He loved that I liked some of his favorites, like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and would willingly lend me CDs or make copies. I always felt proud when I liked something he liked or introduced him to something new he liked. In fact, one of my proudest moments was when he told me the CD Chris and I made as a gift for out-of-town guests at our wedding was “great”. That made my day.

We also shared a love of Humphrey Bogart and old movies in general. I gave him a copy of “The African Queen” for one of his birthdays. Again, it was a proud moment, because he was hard to buy for. He invited me over to watch it with him and we watched it together on his big screen TV. I felt very lucky that, even as a college kid, I still had interests in common with Grandpa and enjoyed hanging out with him.

He was renowned for his yard, which had beautiful azaleas and crepe myrtles. He was very protective of it, to the point where most of the family was afraid to park in the driveway for fear of accidentally driving over the grass! I never risked it until I was in college.

He was meticulous about his appearance, never appearing for breakfast until he was completely dressed and ready for the day. In fact, my mom said that they had to wait to open their presents on Christmas morning until he was dressed. While I do not get dressed first thing, I like to think I take forever getting ready because I take after him. 🙂

He always made me feel so special. He was always so excited to see me and even at the end, his face still lit up when I came in the room. I talked to him on the phone for the last time three days before he died. Even though he was so weak, he still said, “Helloooo, Sara” as cheerily as he ever had.

I know he was proud of me, but I want so much to live up to being his granddaughter. I want to live life with the gusto he did, to enjoy it as much as he did. To have such a positive impact on so many lives. He is so loved and respected, so greatly missed.

I learned so much from him and I am more determined than ever to make him proud. In honor of Grandpa, I am going to love life, live it fearlessly, and never let anything break me. He never let anything break him, not the Depression, or World War II. Not even having his wife and half of his children precede him in death. He kept going through it all and his smile always came back.

I am grateful I had him for 32 years. He was at my graduations and my wedding. He knew my son Max and was there for his first Christmas and his first birthday. He knew there was going to be another baby. I am so grateful for all of that.

I wish my son and his new sibling had a chance to play with Grandpa on the floor. I wish they had known what it was like to nestle into the crook of his arm in the red leather armchair and watch the evening news and Looney Tunes. I wish he wasn’t gone.

But every time I sing, he lives.

Every time my nephew Thomas dances to Neil Diamond, he lives.

Every time I look at my son’s face, he lives.

Every time azaleas bloom, he lives.

Every time a family member retells one of Grandpa’s corny jokes, he lives.

I am the granddaughter of an extraordinary man. For the first 14 years of my life, he was a father to me as well as a grandfather. Thank you so much for your humor, your grace, and your zest for life, Grandpa. Thank you for the example you set and for your love. Thank you for everything.

Grandpa as a little boy

Grandpa as a young man

A professional photo with my grandmother. I used to stare at this for hours as a little girl.

One of Grandpa's favorite poses

Posing on the boat at Kentucky Lake

I love his smile in this one.

Leaning on Grandma

With my mom

Enjoying music with Uncle Bill and Mom

With me as a baby

Playing with me on the floor

Happy to see my Grandpa

Telling Santa (Uncle Ben) what he wants for Christmas. It was usually his two front teeth. 🙂

Celebrating his catch with Uncle Don

With my brother Chase in the red leather armchair

Cutting the cake with Tiny at their wedding reception given by the family after they eloped.

With me at my high school graduation. I don't remember why he had the neck brace.

With Chris and me at our wedding

With Max at his first Christmas

With Max at his first birthday party

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Happiness, TX

Tonight is the third anniversary of the day I moved in with my husband. Which means I have now lived in North Austin a year longer than I lived in South Austin. I have officially lost most of my weird points. I hang my head in shame. Luckily, I have a baby and rarely get out of the house, so it really doesn’t matter where I live at this point.

I would rather live in North Austin with Chris, Max, Belle, Angus, and Fort than in the very heart of the 78704 alone. I would move to Frame Switch if that’s what I had to do to be with them. Happy anniversary, baby, and Happy New Year to all!

Sort of like a fuzzy navel …

I was changing my son’s diaper today when I noticed he had some fuzz on his body. On the tip of his penis, to be exact. Now, this raises an interesting issue for me as a mother or maybe it’s for all of us as a society. I’m not sure. Maybe we have all gotten over-sensitive if a mother cannot handle (I wish I could think of a better word.) matters pertaining to her son’s penis without feeling awkward. He’s only two months old. It’s tiny. (No offense, kid.) However, it took about ten tries for me to get that fuzz off of his penis. I felt so awkward that I kept trying to remove the fuzz without actually touching his genitalia, which worked about as well as it sounds like it would. (The fuzz removal, not his genitals. I have no idea how well they function, except that he seems to have no trouble peeing, preferably with his diaper off. ) I even called my husband right before I managed to finally, successfully, remove it.

Max (That is my son’s name. I am in the process of rendering this blog un-anonymous, but haven’t had time to update my “About” page.) was seemingly oblivious to all of this. However, I veered between feelings of awkwardness over having to touch him when not changing his diaper or bathing him (even for fuzz removal purposes) and fears that I would accidentally hurt him. During one of my desperate, spastic attempts to remove the fuzz, I felt like I accidentally tugged too sharply on his poor little penis. I decided he would have let me know if I had, though. As for any awkwardness, I’ve discussed this with other parents and it seems to be something we all feel. Especially with a child of the opposite sex. Just comes with the territory. I wonder, though, if it ever stops being awkward? Or becomes less awkward?

We’ve been bit

by the flu bug. My son and I both have the flu. His is probably H1N1. However, that one is apparently not as dangerous as the regular flu, despite the hype. We were at Dell Children’s Hospital from midnight to 6 a.m. trying to find out what was wrong. Despite the horrible wait, the doctors and nurses were wonderful once we finally got some help. Their cheerful attitudes at 4 a.m., despite an ER packed with cranky patients, are an inspiration.

I hope some of that cheer rubs off on me, because I am feeling pretty pessimistic about the coming week right now. I am really not looking forward to being alone and sick with a sick baby. I know I will do what I have to do, but it will be hard. I already got a taste of it last week. Even though my husband works at home, he still has to actually work most of the time and lately that has included evenings and weekends. Please send good thoughts and prayers our way.

Lucky little boy

I am so, so grateful that my son has a wonderful father who will be there for him his whole life. My father left when I was 13 and was never really around after that. In fact, he was never really around before he left. He was usually on business trips and when he was home, he was either asleep or locked in the bathroom. Or we wished he was asleep or locked in the bathroom.

Due to those experiences, one of my goals in life was to make sure my children had a father they could depend on. I know children can do fine without a father. My mother is one of the best women on earth, maybe THE best, and I marvel more and more everyday (especially since I’ve had my own child) at the bravery and sheer guts she displayed in striking out on her own and taking care of us. Luckily, she was only on her own a few years before my stepdad showed up, but she sacrificed a great deal for us before and after her remarriage and I will be forever grateful. Due to that example, I knew children could be great with a single parent and I might have gone that route if I had had to wait much longer for my husband.

Fortunately, my Prince Charming came along and now I have my beautiful baby boy. I finally have everything I really wanted (except possibly more kids, but we’ll wait a couple of years at least before we do anything about that). My baby boy has a terrific daddy AND he gets to have my mom for a grandmother. And those two are not the only wonderful family members he has. I think my son is set. (No pun intended.)

Baby mine

I’ve decided I don’t appreciate this biological hooey where the baby looks like the dad the first few months, so that the father can be sure the baby’s his. Not only is it insulting to the mother, but it’s also just plain not fair. I carried my son for forty-one and a half weeks and spent 12 hours giving birth to him. (Drug-free, thankyouverymuch.) I’ve been breast-feeding him round-the-clock for almost two months now. Also, he has all of my facial features. My eyes, my nose, my mouth, even my forehead. Yet, he looks like my husband! Only one person has said he looks like me! I know it shouldn’t matter, but come on. I’ve already put a year of my life in to this kid. He’s half mine. By rights, it should be more, considering all of the extra effort I put in. 😉 He’s already got my husband’s last name! Where’s the MOM’S evidence that the baby is hers?? Believe it or not, we need some reassurance on that point, too.

Diaper-changing on the road

Picture, if you will, a Brookshire Bros. grocery store in Buffalo, TX. A young couple are in the parking lot attempting to change their newborn’s diaper. Actually, the mom was driving, so she is in the front changing the diaper while the child lies in the front passenger seat. Almost everything that can go wrong does.

First – The child in question keeps pushing off the back of the seat with his feet. Consequently, his head is already hanging off of the seat before his mother even has his diaper off.

Second – The mother mentions that her open can of Diet Coke is in danger of being sprayed if the cloth diaper covering her son’s penis does not effectively block the spray if he pees. Due to extreme sleep deprivation, she does not notice her husband reaching right in front of her and removing the can.

Third – Her elbow strikes something on the console between the seats while she is trying to wipe her wriggling son’s butt and keep the makeshift “pee-pee teepee” in place. At first, she thinks it is the bottle of formula her husband was feeding her son moments before. However, she soon discovers it is her can of Diet Coke, which is now upside down between the well and the passenger seat, covering the floorboard with Diet Coke.

Fourth – Wife yells at husband “Why in the world did you put that there???” Husband proceeds to calmly tell wife not to yell at him as Diet Coke continues to leak on the floorboard.

Fifth – One of the parents (Can’t remember which one.) finally collects their scattered wits long enough to grab the Diet Coke can. Mother tells father to stop telling her to quit yelling at him and help her clean up the Diet Coke on the changing pad before son puts his foot in it.

Six – Mother explains to father that she wasn’t trying to yell, just exclaiming in wonderment over the fact that he thought it was a good idea to put the Diet Coke can there. He’s usually smarter than that. That’s what sleep deprivation will do to you, kiddies.

Seven – Father helps clean up the Diet Coke, goes to grocery store gas station to get paper towels.

Eight – Son spits up as soon as father leaves. Mother is still holding him on front seat. Burp cloth is in backseat.

Nine – Mother makes do with a wipe until father returns, retrieves burp cloth, and finishes the job. Afterwards, mother realizes she no longer knows which cloth diaper is “pee-pee teepee” and which is burp cloth.

Ten – Son is returned to backseat unscathed. Parents have a good laugh at themselves. Son laughs at parents from car seat. Parents drive out of the parking lot after that stunning display of mental acuity and coordination.

Although it doesn’t sound like it from that story, our first trip as a family went very well this weekend! Our son barely fussed in the car. He is the most amazing baby ever.

Day in the life of a mommy

7:30 a.m. Wonderful husband bottle-feeds son, so I can get some extra sleep after my horrendous Saturday night.

7:35 a.m. Realize that my Mommy radar won’t let me sleep when the baby is awake and in the immediate vicinity.

7:45 a.m.-ish Go back to sleep with baby after he has been duly fed and burped.

11:30 a.m. Awaken next to squirming baby. Rush in to bathroom to test milk on Milkscreen to make sure glass of wine consumed 12 hours ago is safely out of bloodstream.

11:32 a.m. Rush now-screaming baby in to be changed after Milkscreen’s thumbs-up.

11:35 a.m. Am now feeding baby, who falls asleep after one side. Right boob, which has not been feed or pumped off of in over 12 hours starts to pulse  ominously.

Noon: Place smiling, giggling, but totally uninterested in eating and relieving Mommy’s discomfort baby in swing. Silently curse the Fates for making me have to put him in the swing when he’s happy, yet deal with him when he’s screaming his bloody head off. Realize will have to pump while having breakfast.

12:05 p.m.: Find pumping equipment still dirty in sink and vitamin container empty. Breakfast moving farther away.

12:30 p.m.: Finally start making breakfast after cleaning pump, filling cats’ water bowls and disseminating Fancy Feast and about a thousand cat treats. Hear Nature calling just as toast pops up.

12: 40 p.m.: Finish spreading soupy butter on room temperature toast.

12:45 p.m. Realize all of my nursing and baby paraphernalia still need to be moved from bedroom to living room in case the baby wakes up hungry or cat plops itself on my lap, rendering me unable to move.

1:20 p.m. Finally sit down to breakfast. Baby starts to stir. Start wondering whether to pump or wait.

1:30 p.m. Baby asleep. Must pump before boob explodes and obliterates Tokyo with typhoon of breast milk.

1:40 p.m. Crisis averted. Tokyo safe.

2:20 p.m. Baby awake. Finished all of breakfast except yogurt. Place yogurt on mantel to protect from cats. Change and nurse baby.

3 p.m. Tummy time.

3:30 p.m. Try to place baby in bouncy seat, so can pick out husband’s birthday present. Baby suddenly hates bouncy seat.

4 p.m. Discover all birthday ideas are not available until after birthday.

4:30 p.m. Baby asleep in swing. Rush to finally dress and brush teeth and hair.

4:45 p.m. Eat lunch.

5:20 p.m. Change and nurse baby.

5:45 p.m. Attack poor, unsuspecting husband for being late and calling while my phone was in the back and I couldn’t answer it (due to nursing).

6 p.m. Make up with husband after we catch each other smiling at Friends.

7 p.m. Eat dinner from Baby Greens, watch season premiere of 90210.

8 p.m. Nurse baby, watch series premiere of Melrose Place. Already looking forward to next week. Good sign.

8:45 p.m. Discover yogurt still on mantel.

10 p.m. Shower.

11 p.m. Nurse baby.

12:30 Blog, eat ice cream, go to bed. Start all over again tomorrow.

Baby cute

My husband asked me to post a cute, innocuous entry, because he wants to tell his sisters about my blog and he was afraid they would wonder why he wanted them to look at it right after my last, rather explicit, post. I probably do need a post where I don’t talk about bodily functions, but, as I’m sure many of you know, you spend most of your time dealing with those as a new mom, so they are always on your mind.

However, the second thing foremost on my mind is how cute my baby is and now much I adore him. He is, quite simply, the cutest baby ever. Despite the fact that he has all of my facial features and yet still manages to look like my husband. Which everyone points out. My husband is very handsome, but I carried the baby for forty-one and a half weeks and spent 12 hours birthing him. And he has MY features!! Grrr.

Mommy brain, part 2

I was gazing at my son’s perfect face today and suddenly I panicked. “He’s already almost a month old and we haven’t brushed his teeth!”, I thought in a panic. “We brush the cats’ teeth and even apply sealant to Earl Grey’s religiously once a week, but we have neglected our child’s dental hygiene!!” Then, reason and logic briefly held sway in my sleep-deprived brain. Newborns don’t have teeth. Riiiiggghht.

It’s a very cruel joke of Mother Nature’s that, at the time when we have a vulnerable new life to protect, we are so out of our minds with lack of sleep that we can’t walk straight or form a coherent thought. Last night, I forgot the first lines to two of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs I was attempting to sing to my son before he went to sleep. This morning, I banged my toes in to the wall on my way out of the kitchen yet again and blasphemed. Thank God the kid was across the room. Later on, I accidentally dropped a spoon on the coffee table and woke him up. I promptly followed that stunning feat by uttering the Queen Mother of Dirty Words. I said it under my breath, but he was much closer this time. (Did I forget to mention that being wakened every three hours or less to feed someone causes lack of patience and frustration as well as stupidity?) Not batting a thousand as a mom today. Maybe it is the lack of Starbucks. They really need to start delivering.

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