Monday, August 10, 2009

Ode to Nana

From NANA summer 09
We are still mourning the departure (*updated from "loss" per my brother's astute observation that loss indicates something else completely!) of Nana down here in Atlanta. We had a glorious 5 weeks with my mother, who worked as our full-time childcare provider, sous chef, baker, hairdresser, and maid. We paid her in dark chocolate M&Ms, dirty diapers, open mouthed kisses (Miles, folks, not us), and Tetley decaff tea.

We cannot begin to adequately reflect on the impact she has had on our family, and how much we miss her. In fact, Miles called her at 6am on Saturday. No, I am not kidding. He was playing with my cell phone and of ALL speed dials, he pressed #4: Ali's parents. I tried to quickly hang up, but within minutes we got frantic phone calls from my parents wondering why we had called. (Let me also mention that Miles ORDERED A MOVIE ON THE ON DEMAND! He was playing with the remote, and the next thing my mom and I know, we are watching "Confessions of a Shopaholic." No joke. Ask Nana--she witnessed the technological feat.)

Let me pull out all of the stops and impress you with an articulate sentiment: It sucks living far away from family. I really cannot think of a better way to say it--I am sure Pablo Neruda or Elizabeth Barrett Browning could have been more delicate with a description. But I am pregnant--remember that my vocabulary is truncated by 70%?

My mom (Nana) was brilliant. She started off with the promise that she would get up with Miles EVERY MORNING and feed him his bottle (yes, he still nurses/takes a bottle first thing in the AM and last thing in the PM). Seriously?? Having a child wake up between 5 and 6am is draining--so even getting an extra hour of sleep is priceless. We still got up with him in the middle of the night on the rare occasions that he screamed at 3am, but the morning shift that she took over for 5 weeks was life changing. (Now, I must mention that Eric gets up with him in the AM now--but being a psycho preggo Mom, I pretty much toss and turn waiting for Miles to crawl in after breakfast to slap me with an open mouthed kiss. He's cheeky.)

And then there were the weekly homemade baked goods. Chocolate Oatmeal cookies, PB Cookies, Raspberry bars (with hidden spinach), Banana muffins (with hidden pureed veggies), homemade oat crackers...it was like I was back growing up knowing that in the tin next to the fridge there would always be some homemade delight.

Using her master skills as an early childhood educator, she engaged with Miles in unique and creative ways throughout each day. The two had their little daily songs and games, and my mother taught him how to crawl down the 1 step in our house, eat with a spoon, and write his name in cursive. Okay, the cursive part was a lie. They had their rituals of washing hands and feet in the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink after every walk. Did I mention she took him on long walks to the park TWICE A DAY?? And the poor Nana would go down the slide with him over and over. I couldn't even maneuver my body to do it once! (But if you look closely at the pictures below, you will see her redonkulous muscles for an, ahem, almost 60 year old. I was jealous of her 6-pack while she was 4 months pregnant--picture proof in my earliest posts, and now I am jealous of her arms.)

The two really bonded, and it made my heart all warm and gushy. There were even a few times that he would voluntarily bypass both Eric and me to go to my mother to be picked up or consoled when he was fussing about some minor incident. And he quickly picked up on "Where is Nana?"

Nana also put Miles down for his nap 90% of the time--successfully. You would think she raised 3 of her own kids or something. And during the day, she somehow managed to do dishes, wash and line dry Miles's cloth diapers every other day, fold and put away laundry, and generally keep our house looking pretty orderly!

Truly, the 5 weeks Nana was here were invaluable--especially being pregnant. We extend our invitation for her to come and squat in our house any and every summer. But let me go ahead and acknowledge what a huge sacrifice it was and is for her to come down here. She says good-bye to her husband (Grandpa) and friends for an extended period of time, and replaces her days with HARD work, and the company of a child who at this point, apparently only speaks Mandarin (or is it Urdu or Thai?)...and a child who is not walking and demands you walk him, hunched over, all around creation. I am not throwing histrionics with the word "demand." Miles will walk over to you, find both of your hands, and essentially uses his brute strength to pull you up and get him walking.

Let me end by saying that Eric, an honest fella, mentioned on a number of occasions how easy it was to "live" with my mom. He said this to me in confidence, and also out of nowhere would say it to my mom. I know that many would have trouble living with an in-law for that much time (and our house is SMALL), but she really did not leave a big footprint in terms of annoyances. I think I am the only one who can claim an annoyance--and it boils down to a difference in vocabulary. Here's the thing. I am all about using anatomically correct words and terms. (Anyone else cringe when you used to babysit and the parent would say, "make sure he tinkles before bed," or the "did you hurt your pee pee?" Come on now people...) BUTT (and I use that pun intentionally), there is one phrase that drives me batty: BOWEL MOVEMENT (aka BM). I cannot stand it. I have no idea where my problem stems from--especially b/c I grew up with the term my whole life, but I cannot stand the sound of it or the thought of saying it. I prefer "poop." "Did he poop in his diaper?" Not, "he had a huge bowel movement during breakfast." I just shuddered writing it. My mom used that phrase exclusively, even when I told her the house rules, along with no shoes, was not using the words bowel and movement together to describe the junk that fills Miles's diapers. I don't think she ever actually acquiesced and said "poop," but Mom--the house rule still stands whenever you visit. :)

Somehow, Eric and I have managed to keep our house in workable order now that Nana has departed, but I won't lie--I hate dishes.

We love and miss you Nana! And now the photo montage (more pictures can be seen in Picasa)...

Fourth of July
From NANA summer 09


Neighborhood Park--visited twice a day almost every day!
From NANA summer 09
From NANA summer 09

Forcing Nana and Dad to walk me around the park
From NANA summer 09

My big baby playing at the park
From NANA summer 09

I think this is the area of the yard my mom would always tell Miles they were going through the "secret path" before the walk. Nana--can you correct me?
From NANA summer 09

Daddy's attempt at an artsy shot
From NANA summer 09

Grandpa Visits!!
From NANA summer 09

And then Grandpa sent down an INCREDIBLE fruit treat. And believe it or not, I wouldn't put it past my child to try and eat this whole bouquet. This kid is a fruit head.
From NANA summer 09

Enjoying one of Nana's homemade cookies
From NANA summer 09

You would be this happy too if you had a Nana this awesome and walked to the park every day!
From NANA summer 09

Nana makes me PUDDING PAINT!
From NANA summer 09

It was so dark and yucky one day, I walked in on Nana and Miles spending the afternoon playing in the kitchen sink.
From NANA summer 09
From NANA summer 09

The last morning with Nana. :(
From NANA summer 09


Miles and his Nana...
From NANA summer 09

7 comments:

  1. Nana's awesome! Homemade edible pudding?! I remember thinking what a perfect mama you had growing up with all the baking and books and playing outside!

    P.S. My word verification is "bless"... how very appropriate :)

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  2. Questionable choice of words at the top of this post "We are still mourning the loss of Nana down here in Atlanta," but I know what you mean.

    Great pictures, and Mom/Nana is right, he has gotten a lot bigger over the course of the summer. Hope the Thanksgiving plan can happen. You name the pie and I'll stuff you full of it.

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  3. Aw, what a sweet post! I know we are very spoiled having both sets of parents here in town. I'd love the recipe for the raspberry bars... :)

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  4. Aww. I read this with tears streaing down my face and laughter - the kind that brought you out of the bedroom the day you thought I was crying at the fruit on Miles's face - as I read about the bowel movement. I did so use poopy diaper on occasion!!!! Hey, I was raised by a pathologist father who used to regale us with tales from the path lab at dinner. Bowel movements were clinical talk!
    Yes, it is the secret path. The secret is to narrate life so that Miles is being soaked with language throughout the day. I love you all and miss you. I envy Tamara being close to their parents.
    Yeah, I am glad I am not being mourned at "the loss of". I am still here.
    Love,
    Mom

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  5. I forgot to say thank you for a lovely and loving tribute and for the extensive photo documentation of my visit. I will treasure those baby boy pictures!
    Y'know what's horrifying, though? When I look in the mirror, I see a not too old looking me with white hair (as you know I like my white hair), but in photos, I look scarily old and wrinkled. It's creepy! I we see something kinder when we look in the mirror so that we won't feel to depressed to function!

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  6. Miles is one lucky little boy for sure!!!

    Anne- you do not look "scarily old and wrinkled" one bit!!!!

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