Mar. 20th, 2016 09:51 am
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
My oldest niece is 12 today! I just caught up with her on a google video chat. She's in Montreal with her mom for spring break, skiing. She does black diamonds like it ain't no thang. Girl is brave! She's always been fearless, though. I remember being at Myrtle Beach with her when she was just a baby -- about 16 or 17 months old -- and she'd dive into the waves. She knew her aunt or uncle or dad would scoop her out of the water before it was a problem. It's funny how Frankie is about the complete opposite (she's a worrier, scared of a lot of things), but then Bess is very much like Lucy. So much so that she's got the name Knucklehead from not learning from her injuries...heh.

On the one hand I can't believe Lucy is so grown up, but it's not entirely the cliche "I-can't-believe-she's-12!" feeling. I can believe it. She's been really mature for a long time. She's an amazing big sister. She's a great thinker. She plays strategy games with me and wins against adults. She's inquisitive and always wants to learn. She's not trying to be too grown up, either. She loves playing and being a kid. I may be biased, but to me, she's the perfect 12-year-old.

I was feeling pretty morose last night, but talking to Lucy this morning turned my mood around a lot. My nieces never fail to lift my spirits. <3

Happy birthday, Lucinda!
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Lucy's 12th (!!!!) birthday is next week. My brother told me that she had a specific request for me and I should ask her what she wanted. I sent her an email and she replied with a link to these sippy cup caps...she says she wants them for the water bottles she takes to school. Okay, order placed. But I was confused as to why she wanted these specifically from me. I asked WT, and he said her reasoning was that they were too cool for anyone but me to understand. He doesn't get why she feels that way, but it's what she said.

I'm not sure if I've ever been more touched. And I'm not sure what it is about these sippy cup caps that Lucy thinks is SO COOL, but I do totally get it. The right drinking vessels are important! I'm particular about things like this, too. I guess it's a family trait.

Anyway I'm totally giddy that my niece thinks I'm cool :) Frankie and Bess think I'm cool, too, but they're too young to have attitude about what is and isn't cool. Lucy's got lots of attitude so it means more, y'know? 
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I'm going to play bridge in the Charlottesville game later today. After I showered and got dressed, I went downstairs and my mom was horrified by my choice of outfit. It was a maxi dress that I got at Falcon Ridge. Very hippie, but whatever. Mom said it was too revealing and she wouldn't give me the car keys until I changed. Rather than take up the fight on this one, I changed, just like she asked.

Lucy has had some really great misquotes this week. Here are some:

She couldn't get the word "aneurysm" right in her head. The background is that we rode roller coasters all week last week and some of them shake your head pretty roughly -- she complained of potential algorithms, amoebas, and algebra.

She was singing songs from The Sound of Music, including "The Lonely Gopher," which has been stuck in my head continuously. I would welcome an algorithm to get it out.

In the Taylor Swift song "Shake It Off," Lucy thought one of the lines was "bakers gonna bake" rather than "haters gonna hate."

Tonight we have dinner reservations at The Bavarian Chef. Lucy wonders why a fancy restaurant would be called The Barbarian Chef.

Yesterday, Bess noticed my tongue stud.

"Meg, I saw something in your mouth!"
"Oh, this?"
"What is it?"
"It's my tongue stud. My tongue is pierced."
"Oh yeah, I was gonna get one of those."

That kid. Then this:

"Meg, I'm growing!"
"Are you going to grow to be as tall as your mom?"
"No, Mom's not tall enough."

Rachel, WT and I took the kids to Grand Caverns on Tuesday. After the tour, the guide asked if anyone had any questions. Frankie was right in front of the tour group, and shot her hand up. "I don't have a question. I have a comment." I could see WT and Rachel both freeze in terror. What might come out of this 7yo mouth? After stumbling over her thoughts for a moment that felt like an eternity, Frankie says to the tour guide, "You have a really nice speaking voice!" And we all breathed a great sigh of relief.

I almost hope these girls never figure the world out, because their innocence and misunderstandings are just too fucking precious. I'm sure they will find new ways to be adorable as they grow out of these things. But I still want to bottle it up like it is right now.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I have ten pages due tomorrow, eleven next Thursday, and then I'll be done with this freelance project. The last few times I've finished an assignment for them, they've asked me to do a few more things in addition. If that happens this time, I have the built-in excuse of China, so I can accept on the condition that the deadline is far away. Even though this assignment has been sucking my will to live, it's good money and I want to keep working with this site. The other stuff I've done for them has been much easier, so I'm optimistic that future assignments won't be as rough as this one. But I'm also hoping for a lull in the work for a while. I need to just relax for a few weeks.

Z's birthday was last week. I reminded my mom about it, and she had Lucy at the time. She told Lucy they were going to the store to pick out a card for his birthday, and she volunteered to make one instead. He opened it yesterday and it made me cry. She had looked up images of Oregon online, then printed one out and traced it so she could make a card in the shape of Oregon. She wrote all sorts of sweet things on it and we were both very touched. I called Mom to tell her we got it and she told me all about how it was Lucy's idea. That made it more special than if she had asked Lucy to make it. She's just such a thoughtful kid. I'm so freaking proud of her.

Jack and Shanon came over yesterday. Jack is getting kind of good at talking. It's really cute when he tries to say "McKenzie." He's got my name figured out :) He's still quite a little psychopath, but I enjoy him. Poor Shanon has her hands full, but she's doing great. I'm really glad they're here in Portland :)
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I'm back from the cruise, but in Brooklyn for a couple more days. I arrive in Portland on Monday night. I was SUPER bummed that the cruise ended. It was an amazing time, but I'm also looking forward to getting home and seeing people I've been missing, mostly my husband.

I posted pictures and a few quick stories on Facebook. I'm running very low on energy right now, so I'm not going to do a thorough roundup of everything until I have more time. For now it's back to stressing about my writing deadlines. Just three more weeks of that, though.

All three of my nieces are wonderful and each has her own charms, but I'm especially impressed lately by the person Lucy is becoming. She is so incredibly sweet and thoughtful. More than once this week, she brought tears to my eyes with things she said and did that just floored me. And she's funny and fun, too. I love her so much. This week was good for my soul.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
When I got home from the gym yesterday, I was tired and defeated. Running on fumes, I dragged myself to the mailbox, only because I'm expecting a check. Of course the check wasn't there, but I did see a letter addressed to me in childish handwriting and the word "Lucy" in the return address area. I was immediately out of my funk and super happy. It was a reply to a letter I'd sent her last week, and she told me about what an awesome summer she's having. She ended it with "I love you and I can't wait to see you." You guys. I cried. Like, kind of a lot.

Lucy has never been particularly affectionate, and that one little sentence just absolutely wrecked me. In the best possible way.

Frankie, on the other hand, is brimming with affection at all times. When I first got to Brooklyn on Sunday, she would not calm down, and WT asked her, "Child, why are you being so crazy?" "BECAUSE I LOVE MEG!" I mean, shit, her crazy wasn't even annoying after that. She loves to hug and always lets me pick her up and spin her around whenever I need a little closeness. On Monday, I picked her up and hugged her and she said "I love your hugs, Meg. Give me all your hugs."

You guys.

You guys.

Seriously. Being an aunt is the best thing ever.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
My nine-year-old (!!!) niece Lucy recently finished a school project where she had to write an essay about one of her grandparents. She wrote about my dad, and the details she included are just so precious. Precious that he thought it was important to share, and precious that she thought it should be featured in his life story. The first time he had soft-serve ice cream (1951, in a movie theater). The time his pants split on a date (playing tennis with my mom). How much a full bag of apples would weigh when my dad worked on the farm during the harvest (50 pounds). I love it.

I wrote Lucy a letter yesterday, and I started off by telling her how much I appreciated her essay. I then dove into family history. She likes history, but at her age, that basically means she likes memorizing the presidents' names and a few macro details of the past. I couldn't stop myself, though, once I got on the subject. She didn't mention in the essay that the town my dad grew up in is named after our family. My guess is that it didn't come up so she doesn't know. But I went on and on about how special it is that our family has such a rich history, and even though it's not all GOOD history (i.e. slavery), that doesn't mean it can't be interesting and fascinating. I don't know how much she'll care about it right now, but I told her some stories that I hope she'll think are cool, anyway. The main one was about her great-grandparents, Cap and Margaret. My grandfather was born in 1901 on the family farm, 14th of 15 children, and dropped out of school before high school (I can't remember if it was 6th or 8th grade when he stopped) to work on the farm. Marma was 7 years younger, but I believe they began courting when she was just 13. At least, that's when they met. I don't know for sure what year they were married but I think it wasn't until the 30's sometime. I should figure that out. Anyway, even though her husband only had a partial formal education, Marma went to college AND graduate school, earning her master's degree in a time when many women didn't go to school at all. I wonder if Lucy will understand just how exceptional that is.

Marma was a Latin teacher, and she didn't tell a lot of stories about her work, but I do remember the one she told about the time her school burned down. A student was leaning against the wall and noticed it felt hot. Turns out it was a fire. She never mentioned if anyone was hurt or killed, so I'm going to assume that everyone got out safely. (In the south, death is golden gossip, ESPECIALLY sudden and tragic death, and children are not shielded from these things. My guess is that if anyone had died, she would have proudly eulogized them for me.)

I don't know much about my grandfather, because he died in 1971, 12 years before I was born. I know he was a smoker and lived the last several years of his life with crippling emphysema, which made him quite grumpy. Before that, though, he was active on the farm, a sharp investor, and worked for DuPont, which as I understand is pretty much what every young man in Virginia did at that time. His name was Bland Barksdale Massie, and I have no idea why he was called Cap, but he was. I'll ask my dad.

I wonder what my nieces would say about me if they were asked. I think they'd probably all mention that I love to write, and play bridge, and travel, and run...and that I have cool/crazy clothes. Hehe, I'd love to see what they'd come up with...
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
I'm a couple weeks behind schedule here, and I'm very sorry about that, but since you probably won't read this until years down the road if ever at all, I'm going to give myself a pass on the lateness. Apologies, though.

Happy ninth birthday, Lucy! This year has been my favorite year of being your aunt, because I got to spend more time with you than I ever really had before, and I got to witness some things that made me so proud of the young person you are. I happened to be in New York the week that you hosted your 8th birthday party, and you invited me to come along and help your parents. I was delighted to be included, and enjoyed playing and celebrating with you. That year, you told your friends not to bring presents, but instead to bring books that you would donate. You have done things like this before, as well, asking for donations for the less fortunate instead of toys and gifts. I am SO PROUD of you for this. I'm almost 30 and I still love birthday presents and get excited about them. When I was in elementary school, if you'd suggested that I sacrifice birthday presents, I would not have taken that well. I love what a generous heart you have. That also makes you a wonderful big sister.

You are so good with Frankie and Bess, and they are so lucky to have you. You and Frankie fight sometimes, but that's pretty normal, and most of the time you love each other to bits. One time when I was visiting last year, the two of you were fighting over a dressup outfit that you both wanted to wear. Rachel was busy breastfeeding Bess, and William wasn't home, so it was up to me to be the adult in the situation. I've never been the position of authority between a children's screaming match, and I was honestly shaking in my boots a little as I walked to deal with you two. It wasn't so bad, though. I just reminded you that time is a thing that exists on a continuum, and if one of you wears the tutu now, the other one can wear it later, and everyone settled down. But it made me tense and worried to have been in the middle of your fight, and so when I heard Frankie scream a few minutes later, I was really concerned there was another storm brewing. I ran over to see what had happened, and you had accidentally knocked her over. You helped her up and gave her a hug and said you were sorry. I braced for her to lash out, but instead she just sniffed, "That's okay Lucy, but it did really hurt." I can't really explain just how precious that interaction was, but it demonstrated the way you guys care about each other so much. A lot of kids your age are too proud to apologize or admit accidents, and might just yell back at their kid siblings in such a situation. But you deescalated what I was afraid was going to get very ugly, and it actually turned out to be one of the sweetest moments I've seen. It may not seem like a big deal, but to me, it spoke volumes about your character, and your love for your sister.

During that visit last spring, William arranged for me to spend the day with you, just the two of us, which we'd never done before. You needed more clothes for your Brooklyn collection, and I was super happy to take you shopping. I couldn't help myself -- I bought you everything you wanted and then some. You totally roped me in by complimenting my taste. When you said the things I was picking out for you were cool, I would have bought you the whole freaking store. Don't get used to that, though...I really can't afford it. Still, going broke on that shopping trip with you was the best part of my visit. We also went to see "The Lorax" together, just you and me. What a great movie! I loved it, and I'm glad you loved it, too. We walked home singing the song from the end credits together. "Let it grow...let it grow..." I still listen to that song frequently and I always think of you when I hear it.

We got to hang out some more over the summer on our family vacation in Williamsburg. We spent lots of time together at the theme parks, riding roller coasters and water slides. You are by far the most daring one in the family! You had to talk Uncle A and me into joining you on some of the more insane water slides, but even though I was kind of terrified, I couldn't skip out on the opportunity to share these experiences with you. Your smile was so big! I loved being part of your great time. My favorite memory from that trip was the night we went to Busch Gardens to see the fireworks show. We were riding the swings when they started, and you and Frankie both lit up with amazement as we twirled around in the air and fireworks burst above us. It was one of those moments that just feels completely perfect, and sharing that with you and the rest of our family was so great. I may have cried a little.

You're getting really into history lately. You told me you love all the presidents. I asked if that included George W. Bush. "Oh, well, no, not him." Atta girl. You read a lot and love to play games and perform for others. You have a beautifully creative mind, and you have entertained me a lot over the years.

I was sharing some of our family history with you, and when I told you that your great-grandfather was one of 15 kids, you said that you wanted to be one of 15. I don't think your parents are on board for that, but you said if they won't have 12 more kids, then I should have them so you could have 12 cousins. You said I'd be a great mom. I may have cried again. I don't really plan to do the mom thing, but I love being an aunt so much, and I'm so honored that you think I'd make a good mom. If anyone could talk me into it, it's you, but please don't...

I don't have as many photos of you online as I would like, but I have your school picture and a picture of us on Apollo's Chariot with Uncle A pinned to the wall in my office, along with a picture you drew for me. I look at you and smile several times a day. I love you!


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