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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Things

This guy has an ear infection. Don't worry - he stopped nursing and has gained 5 pounds in the last 6/7 weeks. Wow.

I had to change my blog. Well, it has been 2 weeks. But, more than that - every time I would turn on the computer and Turner would see it, he would say "DINK!! Hey Dink!!" He keeps "calling" him from his imaginary phones. After the funeral, we headed to my aunt Barbara's house and he "talked" to Dink the whole way there and just laughed and laughed. It part breaks my heart and part cracks me up. I never want him to forget the memories they had in the short 2 years. It encourages me that he calls him by name so much!
Just eating socks and hanging out in diapers

Anyway, we have been doing all sorts of Christmas-y things. I love this time of year. I mean, even this week before. It is nice to have Heath and other family off of work to help out and/or shop with. A couple of nights ago, Heath and I felt extra jovial and decided to make 6 batches of oreo truffles to deliver to family and some kids I used to teach. 6 batches was 1 or 2 too many for me. But, they are so delicious. Here is the recipe:
Ingredients - very easy. Package of Oreos, package of cream cheese (can be 1/3 fat, too) and almond bark (vanilla or chocolate).
Beforehand, leave out the cream cheese so it will soften.

Use a food processor to grind up the oreos into dirt consistency (or you can use a plastic bag and crush them over and over with your hands - I prefer a food processor). Mix in a bowl with the softened cream cheese. (This takes 3-5 minutes of really mixing it up until it is doughy)
Roll into balls and stick in the freezer for about 5 minutes to solidify.
Dip in almond bark (or have your assistant do it!) - they harden up in minutes!!
Our final project - too bad the actual Oreo balls aren't pictured. This could be any present!

Besides eating, we have been doing other fun Christmas things - like visiting Santa Claus, Christmas brunches/parties/dinners and even Zoolight Safari!
It was nice - it was cold, but not too bad. We had a ball!
Walking around with Wes and York
Check out those tiny snowmen!
The men rode the carousel
Watching from the stroller
Chilling with Santa (every time Turner sees him he says "Mommy, who's dat?" - every time. That means he knows, and just wants me to say it!! Stinker - he was sitting in the petting zoo next to the rat - such ambiance
Not sure what this animal was - but I know he repeated animal names this time instead of calling everything "dog" - progress.
We watched this bird eat a mouse
And we marveled at Aubie
Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Sweet Dink

Turner and Dink last Christmas

My mom just called me to tell me that my sweet grandfather - Harry Eugene "Gene" Frech - just went to be with the Lord. As sad as I am - for mom and her sisters and my grandmother and our family - I feel such a peace. He would have been 93 on December 30th. I just told my mom "Wow - he went fast." We both laughed - who says that for 93?? It is all relative, I guess.
Dink with Turner (December 8, 2008 - 2 years ago today)
On Sunday, mom and I were over there as the precious nurse from hospice (I wouldn't refer to many of them as precious, but this one was a Godsend) sat down my mom and Nanny and told them it was just a matter of days. She knew what she was talking about! Mom and I were crying, and Nanny was the rock. I told her I was crying more because I was sad for her - how amazing that they were able to be together for 70 plus years!! She calmly told me it was okay, it had been sad for a while. We talked about how he would be whole again, and how this life was no way to live! She had a peace.
Lindsey said the other night when she was there, Nanny came in to say goodnight. She has 2 broken arms - so she is not moving around too great. But, she said "Night, Poppa." (They called each other Momma and Poppa among other things). She said she stopped and looked at him and said "Are you trying to tell me goodnight?" She leaned over and kissed him on the mouth and told him she loved him. She knew. Heath reminded me that while this is one of my first times dealing with the death of someone close, she has done it more times than she would have ever cared to. She has lost almost every one of her immediate family, extended and close friends.
Nanny and Dink and Grandad, last Thanksgiving
I keep praising the Lord for the time he gave me with Dink. I was able to have him for almost 30 years!!! He was so active and so "with it" for so long. Only in the last couple of years did his body beg him to surrender. He had several strokes - mostly small, but they took their toll. And he had diabetes, and it is a miracle he lasted this long because he wasn't scared to "sneak" some sugar as often as he needed!
He had SUCH a sense of humor. He was mischievous for sure. I remember how he used to wake us up at his house with a feather tickling our noses. And he would laugh and laugh as we would bat it away. And he loved to trick us. At the beach one year, he swore that there was a party on the roof of our condo. He bragged about how fun it was, but you had to be at least 15 to get up there. Of course Lindsey and Derek and I were probably 6,7, and 8 at the time. He said "I would take you - you would really love it. You're just too little!" and watched as we were frustrated. And the stories mom and her sisters tell about how he treated their friends and boyfriends are hilarious - they would have to be with a house full of 5 girls! One time Mom said that one of the sisters (it may have been her - I can't remember) was dreading going out with some boy. They were being dramatic because he evidently was less than Prince Charming. Dink told her "I bet it will be great. If he is as ugly/horrible as you say, I will give you a dollar. Cheer up!" Well, when he came to the door, Dink welcomed him in and then gave the sister a dollar right then and there.
And Dink was an AVID Auburn fan. Though he couldn't really enjoy the last several games, I know he would have. He went to Auburn back in the 30s. And Yale. Who does that??
And he loved flying. He had a plane until 2000 or 2001 - and he loved to fly us in it. He was able to teach my cousin Mike how to fly and share that passion with him. He finally had to give up his pilot's license when he was 82 or so - and did it VERY begrudgingly!
He loved the beach - he still has 3 condos, and we went down there with him up until last summer! One of his favorite feelings was his feet in the sand right by the water. And he was able to share that love by letting us use those condos literally hundreds - probably a thousand times over the last years. He bought the Panama City one in the 70s. It is where my parents met on a blind date, and it is where we celebrated Kate's 3rd birthday this summer! There is a drawing of him as a cartoon character, walking on the beach with a big goofy grin. That is so him!
He was so generous. He helped us be able to enjoy Briarwood and Auburn and listened to us whine enough to buy Lindsey and me a Camry to share at Auburn. Then he drove down with my parents and surprised us with it! And Derek drove that thing until earlier this year - I am surprised the wheels didn't literally fall off, the way we treated that thing! But, I also remember a family living illegally on some of their property years ago. While it annoyed him, it was in the country (well Hwy. 119 - but it was "country" then). He had several acres, and a family had been squatting (is that even the right term??) for years on his property. Well, they had a trailer and it caught on fire. He bought them a brand new one. In the same place. With all new appliances and everything. He loved on them, even as they "borrowed" land and power from him.
I am grateful that I was able to enjoy him so long. He lived next door to my parents for the last 14 or 15 years - only last year did they move to assisted living. He was a fireball - we had to explain to everyone that came to help (as they almost got kicked out of assisted living facilities) that they had to excuse him for calling them an ugly or socially inappropriate name. He wasn't going to apologize. He grew up in a different time, and made no apologies for saying things, especially in his old age. While it wasn't right, almost every one of them loved him enough to be gracious and turn the other cheek.
At Milo's with us last September
He loved loved loved his daughters and grandkids and great-grandkids. He had a stroke about 2 months before I had Turner, but he still loved to talk to me about the baby coming. He called Turner "Smiley" and his favorite picture was this one from Christmas last year.
He had it framed in their little apartment! He was amazed at how smiley and funny Turner was. He held John Burke a few times, but wasn't as able to as he was with Turner. It baffled him that we named him a double name. He kept asking Mom what we were really going to call him. :)
Dink with Burke Burke
Taken from my phone
I am grateful that Turner was able to meet him. We went over there right before Thanksgiving and Turner kept saying "Deek. Deek." And Dink even gave him five just a few weeks ago. When we went to Granny's in Andalusia, he said "Where's Deek?" He couldn't put him with Nanny, not Granny. And he laughs when I try to explain it! Yesterday I was putting his clothes on, and he said "Deek?" I said, "Dink is about to go to heaven with Jesus." And Turner looked at me like I had lost my mind and said "Deek" again. Lindsey and I took the kids over there last week, and Blake and Kate and Turner kept saying "Dink!! Hey Dink!!" Kate even said, "Mommy, he didn't talk to me this time." How nice that this was one of the first times - and it was less than a week before he died.
God keeps comforting me through the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Though hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Thank you, Father, for sharing this precious man with us. And for guiding him (and us) through the valley of the shadow of death. I praise you that you have taken him home!!
*Sidenote - please pray for our family over the next days and weeks. I love blogs because I am able to sit here in the middle of the night and remember my grandfather with best friends and strangers all at once. Forgive the ranting and the fact that I didn't have better pictures of his whole life on hand. What a blessing that I was able to have so many from the last couple of years, though!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Turner!

Turner is almost 2, but we celebrated his birthday with a party on Sunday. We had it at my parents' house. It was a CAR party....since cars are his complete obsession. It was just family (plus Jeremy, Jeanne and Averitt) - I figure I will start inviting "his friends" when he is old enough to realize a) it is a party and b) they are there. Sunday he did not realize why we were all celebrating, but he had a ball nonetheless.
My goal was to keep it simple. I feel like I did for the most part, but you know how moms do when we are planning things. Or maybe it is the elementary school teacher in me. I had to stick with a theme!
We had riding toys outside. That only lasted 30 or 45 minutes or so because the party started at 3:30 and it started getting cold. Don't worry, Mr. Sketchy Mustache forgot his daughter's coat. Lindsey went in the attic and found this little ditty that Kate had worn. Can we say enormous?? But it kept tiny Chloe warm!
The grand plan was for us to roll out the Cozy Coupe (Turner's main birthday present) during the party. However, pre-party my dad was entertaining Turner in the garage/driveway and he spotted it (even though it was hidden under a sheet). It was OVER after that. He made my dad walk him up and down the street in the car for a full hour, and then played and played in it when people got there. He has a psycho-obsession with Cozy Coupes, so we have purposely delayed it until his birthday!
Then, we went inside and ate.
Thank you to "aunt" Laurahelen who iced every one of these cupcakes (and about 2 dozen more) for me on Saturday night. She came to help us get ready for the party, and I put her talent to work! I am so bad at icing, but not Laurahelen!! They looked great! And Heath made the Oreo balls. He has gotten very good at making them, who am I to stand in his way? Almost everything else on the table were favorites of Turner's - grapes, cheese, crackers and cheese curls!
We had a ball pit in the shape of a car, especially for the babies. John Burke skipped most of the party asleep upstairs (which was nice in a way!), but he eventually partied down with us. And Averitt, Ellie and Chloe kept the ball pit busy!
There were also 2 tracks set up in the living room. The night before Uncle Derek set one up and on the first trip down for the matchbox cars, Turner leaned all of his weight on it. Never fear, Hot Wheels track was fixable! And Derek remembered his secret stash of Hot Wheels from his childhood (surprised they weren't mixed in with Crash Dummies and Ninja Turtles), and he brought them down for the kids to play with.
Also, we played with cars on this little city rug. The big kids had fun with that, and so did the little ones! The party favors were little Beetle Bugs.
I wish Turner had understood what was going on, or that he is (almost) 2 now. But whatever - we had a great time! I am blessed to have this little weasel as my baby, even though he is not really a baby anymore! I want to remember that he is officially streaming words together now into almost sentences. A lot involve his car - "I see my car over der." Or "Daddy's car...where are MY keys?" (He thinks he has his own set of keys to each car. Not so.) And, he says a lot of "Burke Burke, STOP. That is mine!" and then ripping whatever it is from his tiny little fingers. Good thing Little Brother is pretty laid back about it all!
Here is a shot of Turner - he hasn't let the Cozy Coupe out of his sight. For 2 nights, he has asked if car could sleep in his bed. I had to pull it out of his bedroom, because he hasn't jumped out of his crib yet, and I don't want him to see it and try! I have to cover his head when taking him to his room, because he will call out for his car. And yesterday he had an unfortunate incident with the car (a wreck if you will), that resulted in a mini-black eye. Oh well - he is all boy!
Just watching some t.v.
Thank you to our family who came to the party - he loved every second of it! Of course - it was CARS!! Thank you for loving and supporting our children. What a wonderful blessing! We love you so so much, Turner Bug!