Archive for May, 2024

Yipes!  Seems we’re due for an update on all things Isaac before this kid ups and turns three in just three months.  Two continues to be wonderful and terrible and joyful and exhausting, sometimes all within the same five minutes.  Big boy in a nutshell:

CARS.  Cars are his lifeblood – he’s rarely seen without a little matchbox car in his hand.  His color-changing Lighting McQueen is his absolute favorite.  Mater the Tow Truck is a close second.

When I want to chill and he wants to play, we make a game of him running his cars up and down my legs, to my toes (the “mountains”) and then back down the hill to my knees.  It’s my favorite.

Sometimes, sometimes, he sets the cars aside for new interests.  Like Juliette’s old baby doll.  This infatuation only lasted about 17 minutes, but it was awfully good while it did.

Shall I just go ahead and clarify the hair situation?  We went from mop top to what felt like almost-buzzed a few weeks ago, with his first professional haircut.  His locks were growing faster than I could trim them and so we booked him an appointment at a local salon with a dedicated fire truck seat for the littles.  I was anxious, mostly about Isaac’s capacity to sit still for a stranger, but he was a perfect customer.  The woman who cut his hair was very good with him, so I forgave her when she giggled, “Oh, wow!  Mommy cuts hair crooked!”

So fresh, so clean!  Perhaps a little shorter than I expected, but it suited him.

I do miss that swoop.

Favorite foods these days are still the messy ones.  Yogurt:


That extra-good vanilla steamer milk froth is a special treat…

And oh, the snacks.  After catching him rummaging in the kitchen several times over, applesauce pouches, granola bars, and dried mangoes have been relocated to the high-up cupboard next to the microwave.  That doesn’t assuage the constant pleading for a BARRRRRRRR, though.  Not my favorite.  I suppose I did this to myself.

The sleep sitch is a mixed-bag.  Naptime works fine – we’ve traded our chair dozes for afternoon naps in my bed, which I don’t mind.  There are few things I’d rather do on a Sunday afternoon than snuggle up with my boy for a snooze, and I can easily slip out after he’s conked.

Nighttime, though…getting this boy to sleep is a thing.  It starts with his objections of “No nigh-nigh time!” as we get his pajamas on, but we eventually get over that hump and then we negotiate our way through teeth-brushing, followed by much back-and-forth over which books to read.  We finally settle into our gray chair, Pink Bear and Deer tucked in close, and for that 10 to 15 minutes of reading time, all is well.  I love that 15 minutes.  But then I put the books away and the whining ensues.  There are pleas for more books (no) and for then for an “airplane ride” into bed (fine), and he’s tucked in and the real trouble starts.  “Chairrrrrrr, Mama!  Chairrrrrrrr!”  Kiddo does not take kindly to being left alone and wants me back in that chair while he drifts off.  I explain that I need to go take a shower or see Juliette or just take a damn break, and very occasionally he accepts my departure without fuss, but often there is crying and debating and me coming into his room 47 times to cover him back up with the blanket and ask him to settle down.  Again, this drama is probably self-inflicted, as I allowed him to get so used to having me so near (ahem, photo above, I KNOW), but it’s time, Bud.  Time to let Pink Bear be your bedtime pal.  We’re gonna figure this out.

Mornings are fine – he usually rouses around 6:15, which feels reasonable, though we do have the occasional very-early wake-up, which I don’t mind too much if he’ll come snuggle on the couch with me.  Bonus points if he falls back asleep!

Speaking of mornings, I have started taking Isaac to school on the bus once a week and it’s a hit.  It’s terribly inconvenient, as we board at 7:20 near our house and get off near school at 7:30 and then I board again when the next bus comes at 8:00 to take me downtown and then I’m eventually into an hour plus commute, but it gives Shane a break from the drop-off rigmarole and Buddy LOVES it.  He’s so sweet and excited as we settle into our seat, looking out the window and shouting “Yook, Mama!” as we pass cars and dogs and all sorts of banal things that somehow gain a new shimmer when seen from a bus window.  Every time the bus stops to pick up new passengers he asks “All done?” and I say, “Not yet!”, and he smiles so big to find that we can keep on rolling.  Totally worth the hour plus.

We’re very much on that steep upward language curve where he’s telling me something new every day still and it’s been fun to watch gibberish coalesce into legible sentences.  Favorite Isaac-isms are:

“No problem!”, used appropriately at minor accidents like spilled crackers (and maybe less appropriately when he hugs Shane only to discover he’s left a 6-inch smear of snot across his dad’s sweatshirt);

“C’mon Jooooooo-yet, c’mon” (his days of calling his sister Dodgeya are behind us);

“Bye Teet-tart!”, said in the mornings as a mimic of my own goodbye to him as he heads to the car with Shane; and

“FIVE MINUTES.”, stated with much seriousness and a firm palm spread toward me in a waiting motion – he does things on his own time and does not appreciate being rushed out of a groove.

Some silly snaps:

And sick snaps…Isaac has been mostly healthy, but we’ve had a couple of fevers here and there.  This particular morning felt extra hard, as Shane was in Minnesota with his Dad and I was feeling sad and anxious and tired and behind at work, but I shut down my laptop at lunchtime and we actually ended up enjoying each other very much.  Cozy box forts for the win.

Sister snaps:

(Juliette, you are THE BEST.)

And finally, bath snaps, because how do you top these?

Maui was magic, but March was hard.  We came home to the news that Shane’s dad, who hadn’t been feeling well, was back in the hospital again.  Shane decided to fly out to Minnesota to offer whatever support he could as Denny and Pat and a slew of doctors struggled to just figure this thing out.  It was a week of tests and hard news and more tests and treatment plans and eventually Shane came home to us, exhausted and anxious, but we maintained a glimmer of hope that his dad would rebound and we’d be seeing him again this summer in Walker, perched on the seat of his golf cart at the street end, waiting to tuck Juliette into her rightful place as his best copilot.

Hope quickly waned in the following days as Denny’s health declined and hard conversations were had.  I cried rivers that week.  I sent Denny daily videos of the kids being silly or wishing him well as I began to face the fact that he’d likely never see them again in person.  Juliette wrote him the sweetest letter, gushing about how lucky she felt to be his granddaughter, how much his love has meant to her over the years.  Shane bought another plane ticket to Minnesota, this time with the knowledge that he’d be saying goodbye.  He landed in Minneapolis shortly after midnight on March 17th, drove to his mom and dad’s house two hours north, and held Denny’s hand in the wee hours of the morning.  I was so glad Shane had made it, so glad he’d have a final few days with his dad.

Shane called me around 10am later that morning – I was halfway to the zoo with the kids, determined to stay busy and enjoy the unseasonably warm day.  But my phone and rang I knew before Shane even choked out the words.  Denny had passed away just hours after Shane’s arrival, at home and surrounded by his beloveds, like he’d wanted, but damnit, this wasn’t really what he wanted.  What he wanted was more years on this earth.  It’s sure as hell what we wanted.  We wanted more hugs, more fishing trips, more rides in the side by side.  More of his contagious belly laughs.  More time.

Instead, we gathered in Minnesota a couple of days later, abundantly aware of his absence.  Juliette immediately remarked on how different the house felt without him.  Isaac wandered into their bedroom on our second morning there, patted Denny’s side of the bed, and asked “Papa?  Papa?”.  I peered in from the doorway as Pat explained to him that Grandpa is in heaven now.  Isaac then ran to their sliding glass door, nodding as he said “Mmm-hmm.  Papa outside.”  “Yeah, kind of…” Pat replied.  I cried all the while.  I couldn’t believe he was gone.

We spent a lot of time that week looking out the window for deer in the corn, knowing how Denny loved to watch them roam.  We sat around the kitchen island, telling stories about the man that loved people and food and farming and America.  It was the first time all five of his grandkids were together in one place, and it felt so unfair that he wasn’t there to enjoy it.  We stood together and wept as the marines performed funeral honors, with a gun salute and a folding of the flag.  It was beautiful.  And heart-wrenching.

Saying good-bye was the hardest thing any of us had ever done.

There’s a lot I miss about Shane’s dad, but in scrolling through photos these past few weeks, taking the time to sit with my favorite memories, it’s the loss of my kids’ grandpa that stings the most.  Goodness, how he loved Isaac and Juliette.  How they loved him back.

Rest in peace, Denny.  We miss you, deeper than we’ve ever missed anyone before.  But your generosity of heart made an indelible imprint on us.  We’ve each got this little nugget of your love tucked deep inside.  We’ll have that forever.  Forever and ever, amen.