The month of May was a Very Busy Month here at the Dillow house...busier than a standard month by far. I meant to post a preview of what we had to look forward to like Laura did, but I didn't get it done and suddenly the month of May was half over. But in recap:
• I taught a class for National Scrapbooking Day • we went to Ohio and met TWO new members of the family, Juliette and Charlie • we celebrated Bridget's first birthday • we celebrated Maddie's sixth birthday • we celebrated Mother's Day (flowers for our mamas, shoes for me) • Maddie, Gracie, Bridget and I ran/walked/strollered in the elementary school 5K • Matt and Greg went to see Van Halen with David Lee Roth (we saw VH with Sammy Hagar long ago, but this made his life just a little more complete) • Matt and I went to see Ben Folds • Bridget finally figured out standing up, making me feel a little less guilty about corralling her in the Pack and Play:
Plus work, school, gymnastics, co-op, playgroup, library trips, adventures at the farmers' market, adventures in our own backyard, movies with friends, and regular life details. No wonder I took a nap yesterday.
I've seen Blues Traveler... three times? Phish, twice. Dave Matthews Band, twice. Big Head Todd and the Monsters, three times. And now, my life is a little more complete, because I HAVE SEEN BEN FOLDS.
We had a really good Memorial Day weekend—it was absolutely gorgeous weather, we spent lots of time with good friends, we spent lots of time with each other. And, I thought a lot about a man named Frank Buckles.
Frank Buckles is 107 years old. When I first started waiting for him about ten years ago—not even knowing his name at the time—he was one of a few thousand. A few years later he was one of a hundred. In May of last year, he was one of a handful. And now, he is the only one. There were 4,734,991 Americans who served in World War I. 4,734,990 of them have died. Frank Buckles is the only one left. I can't even imagine how bizarre it must be for him to be the last man standing in the Great War, the one overshadowed by everything that came after. 116,000 Americans died fighting in the Great War. More than every other war after World War II, combined.
Memorial Day isn't just about WWI, obviously. As far as eras in world history, however, I feel a special attachment to this one—it was one of my favorites by far to teach, because it's just so phenomenally fascinating and significant to everything else that happened in the 20th century. I grew up attending Memorial Day services at Stow Cemetery, first as the daughter of the band director and later as a member of the band, and I always looked forward to the sense of formality and quiet and honor that was always present. I successfully lured many of my GFH kids to Highland Cemetery's Memorial Day service with the promise of extra credit and was always thrilled when they admitted it was worth their time to attend. Once, a WWI veteran attended and I watched a handful of students transform from extra-credit seekers to history students in awe of someone so....old, someone who had seen so much, so long ago.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In every Memorial Day service I've ever attended, someone has read the classic WWI poem In Flanders Fields. It never fails to send chills up my spine, this perfect poem published by John McCrae in 1915. I get that Memorial Day is about all Americans who have served in wars, but to me, it is especially about WWI, and those people who thought that the war they were fighting was so horrific that there would be no more war.
And now there are almost no more of them. Just Frank Buckles.
As I get closer to the halfway point in Project 365 + 1 (which will actually end up being Project 365 + 2) I've been taking significantly more photos than I used to take, which is definitely saying something. I have a hard time on days like today when there are multiple candidates for the Photo of the Day; sometimes I let Matt pick, sometimes the most important event of the day is chosen, sometimes I toss a coin. Here are some of the other possibilities for today:
Gracie, looking at her worm adoringly, and no, I didn't ask her to do this on purpose
Bridget, the first Dillow baby to actually use the Play portion of the Pack 'n Play. The day she stops shoving nature into her mouth outdoors is the day I'll set her free in the grass.
Sorry, but this one can only be called "Get me THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!!"
I take an inordinate amount of pictures of the ivy in the backyard. It's like a little hobby. I don't really know why I like it so much, I just do.
On nights where Matt works late, the girls have to have "a plan" for when I'm putting Bridget to bed. Tonight their plan was to go outside and read books sweetly on the deck in their jammies. *sigh*
Sniff, sniff. This is the last night Maddie is 5. Or, 5 3/4 as she is quick to point out.
1. I was right about David Archuleta, sadly. I was rooting for him to win, despite the fact that I predicted he probably wouldn't. Ah well, not a bad choice to be made between the two of them, really. I skipped the hoopla of the final elimination show and went to a movie tonight instead.
2. Speaking of which, I went to a movie tonight with Jill and Deb: Then She Found Me. We all liked it. We also were all startled by how old and thin Helen Hunt looked. I say this knowing she probably won't be reading. Just in case, though—we all still love you, Helen. But how can you be 44 already? And Matthew Broderick is 46? And perhaps most startling of all: it's been 25 years since War Games came out? How is this even possible?!?
3. After the movie, we went to Busboys and Poets and I had some apple pie and ice cream that was exceptionally good.
4. Maddie warned me this would happen if I read this book too much to Bridget:
5. Gracie continues to be obsessed with Cariboo. I suppose it is the game I would choose if I had to pick one game to play while stranded on a deserted island with a three year old. It sure wouldn't be Chutes and Ladders. I still haven't recovered from the trauma caused by trying to teach Maddie how to play Chutes and Ladders when she was three.
6. Maddie asked for tickets to a show of some sort for her birthday. We are going to see a show here in July. Doesn't that look like fun? She is also getting double-dutch jump ropes, plus a few other small things. Did you know there is an American Double Dutch League? Me neither, until tonight. I am excited for her to learn how—I have very good memories of time spent double-dutching in the summers. She also requested mud pie with gummi worms in lieu of cake.
Yesterday you turned one year old. It sounds so cliché to say it's hard to believe twelve months has already passed by, that time flies and you blink and the newborn is suddenly a kid, but it's all true—every single little bit of it. I can close my eyes and recall every single detail of your makeshift nursery in our bedroom in California: the giant sliding glass doors, the heartbeat bear, the feel of your special diaper basket caddy thing in my hand, fighting to stay awake in the middle of the night while sitting in the rocking chair in the corner... and now here you are, living on the other side of the country, a million miles away from that little hedgehog baby who burst into our lives four days late and three pounds larger than expected.
I had to be careful with you yesterday, because I was overwhelmed with the urge to squeeze you all day. That's how cute you are.
Someday you will want to know what you were like as a baby, and I can tell you without missing a beat that you were, perhaps, one of the sweetest babies ever born. I know, people say this about their babies all the time. But I have evidence. How about the time that you and I flew from Virginia to Las Vegas when you were four months old? The woman who sat next to us literally rolled her eyes and huffed when we sat down, and by the end of the flight some four hours later she was falling over herself to hold you so I could gather our things. Oh, and I took you to Las Vegas when you were four months old, did you catch that? People don't normally do that, take babies to the gambling capital of the universe. We weren't there to gamble, though, and the employees of the Bellagio are probably still telling stories about that sweet little baby who came to stay. Well, all except for the ones who work at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant. You weren't particularly sweet there. But the fact that I can pinpoint the non-sweet moments of your first year on my left hand is really quite remarkable.
You have this way about you, Bee. You make people calm. You make people happy. You make happy people even happier. In our family, you are the person that others go hang out with when they're feeling low or stressed. It's a role that has developed steadily as you become more interested in and engaged with all of us; everyone recognizes your superpower and you are more than happy to share your good nature freely. We can't imagine life without you, quite honestly. Your sisters regularly state how lucky they are to have such a sweet baby sister. They put up with your occasional hair-pulling and face-grabbing because you are so cute when you give them hugs and say "awwwwwww" as if to narrate your own sweetness.
A few other details about you right now: you look so much like your Grandma did at this age that it stops people in their tracks. You also look like your Da frequently, occasionally like me, and once in a while like your Aunt Amy. Your hair seems to change colors daily, and your eyes are moving toward the mysterious color of blue/grey/greenish that your sisters share. You are mostly done with baby food, preferring tiny pieces of cut-up big girl food, and you have no patience for drinks served in sippy cups, preferring your mama. You don't sleep through the night. You do convince me every night to bring you to bed with me for an hour or so, and then fuss to go back to your own bed just as convincingly. You cannot sleep without your blankie. Your favorite game is "Where's Bridget?" but playing catch is a close second. Sometimes you demand to hold a book while nursing before bed, and you look at books every morning quietly in your crib. You love when Maddie comes in to read to you in the morning and think it's hilarious when Gracie climbs into the crib after your morning nap. Except for a short-lived scare around eleven months, you take two good naps a day. You are wearing clothes designated for the 18-24 month demographic more and more. You love to sign words and say "hi Da" when Daddy walks in after work. You have the beginnings of curls. You mark the end of an era.
Last night after dinner you enjoyed a chocolate cupcake with pink frosting with your family and Curtis. We let you open up your gifts after a necessary scrub in the tub even though it was 7:45 by the time you had your jammies on. I think subconsciously I wanted to keep you up as long as possible last night to preserve the last few moments of baby. Of course you're still a baby today at one year + one day, but it's just ever-so-slightly different now. Now you've crossed the threshold where the changes are more noticeable: sitting to standing, standing to walking, babbling to talking, eating crayons to writing journal entries about school field trips. I made it through the whole day without being ridiculous and weepy about your birthday, right up until I placed your exhausted body down in the crib. Then your ridiculous and weepy mama kissed you goodnight and wished you a happy birthday.