Officially, it is now August 1st. Hard to believe that seven months of the year have gone by already, isn't it? What really bites for me is that I really haven't managed to accomplish much of anything in those seven months either. Now, that is really downright depressing!
I realized tonight too that I have some events coming up this month that I really HAVE to attend to, really HAVE to remember to take some special care to make sure some dates are observed.
First off, on August 14th, it will be my ex-mother-in-law's birthday. She'll be 82 years old this year - I think. Well, I'm pretty sure that's how old she'll be but Mandy is arguing with me here that she'll be 85 and I KNOW for sure, she ain't quite THAT old! I think I got it figured out now cause the oldest of her eight children - my ex-sister-in-law, Mary Lou - was the same age as me and Grandma was 18 (supposedly) when she was born, so that would make her then, by my calculations, 81 -right? What really confuses me here is that I know her kids had a birthday party for her two years ago to celebrate her 80th birthday and if that's the case, then she's gonna be 82. I'm confused! Ok, I know - what else is new? I stay in pretty much a fairly constant state of confusion it seems.
Mandy will be busy every time she goes shopping now over the next week to ten days though, searching all the card racks for just the right card to send to Grandma. Considering how much time my kids have NOT had to spend with their grandmother, it really does make me feel good to see Mandy trying to have a relationship, through letters and by sending Grandma photos when she can, of the kids and of herself and the other two of Grandma's grandchildren here as well. When Frank and I were married, his parents were then living in Illinois - Stockton, to be exact. That's at least a 12-hour drive from here to there so obviously, it wasn't a trip made very much by his parents or by us either to go see them or them, to come see us. I'm thinking while we were married, his parents probably saw us and the kids maybe 10 times max. And, after the divorce, the visits were really rare!
Back in 1981, I took the kids on a little vacation of sorts. We went down to D.C. and visited with a couple of my old friends there - including a trip to Annapolis and supper with a very old friend at a Crab Restaurant there. My girls would have nothing to do with eating the hot, spiced hard-shell crabs, but my son was game to give them a try and he and I -along with my old friend from 20 years earlier (Louie) -had ourselves a feast, we did!
After leaving Annapolis, we came home for a day and then, left and headed west towards Stockton and a planned visit with Grandma and Grandpa, timed so that it would take place over my son's 8th birthday. We had a brief stopover in Toledo, where we met up with a former co-worker of mine and we went to Cedar Point Amusement Park. Now, that part of our trip was really quite a hoot. My youngest, Mandy, was highly ticked off because she was almost, but not quite tall enough to be allowed on almost all the rides she really wanted to check out. She was the more daring of the kids when she was young and really wanted to go on this one roller coaster ride - I think it was called "The Blue Streak" or something like that. My son though, who was tall enough to ride anything, wanted nothing whatsoever to do with any roller coaster ride of any type. However, his older sister (Carrie) conned him into going on this one - the Blue Streak (or whatever) and they had to stand in line to board it for about 45 minutes cause it was so popular. The whole time they were in line, he was jabbering away at people in line beside them - total strangers, mind you - and telling them about how excited he was to be going on this ride but that it wasn't a roller coaster, etc., etc. Carrie was winking at people around her to signal them to please not spill the beans to him. Well, they finally got on the ride and as they started off, chugging up the first hill, there was Clate, still yammering on and on about this great ride, etc. Until they topped that first hill and the car gave a jolt and the ride was off and running, zipping around curves, corners, leaping the dips you know and there was Clate suddenly in a state of shock and realization that he'd just been hoodwinked by his sister. She said he looked at her and screamed at the top of his lungs, "YOU LIED TO ME, CARRIE! IT IS A ROLLY-COASTER!" She said the kids in the car behind them, who'd been in line behind them too were just howling laughing at him screaming that at his sister! And, we still tease Clate to this day too about how gullible he was way back then - still is to this day at times too.
When we left Cedar Point and headed to Stockton, for some reason which I don't remember now why, we drove all night and arrived at Stockton early in the morning of Clate's 8th birthday. Grandma and Grandpa were waiting for us and we followed them from their house out to the Mississippi River nearby where they had a little old trailer that they used as a camp there and where Grandpa had a motorboat too and while I hit the sack to catch up on some much needed sleep, Grandpa took all three kids out on the river for a ride on his boat. Then, he brought the girls back to the shore and he and Clate went back out so Grandpa could take Clate on his first ever adventure fishing! Grandma had met the girls at the river and brought them back up to the trailer to spend some quality time with her.
So, there was Grandpa getting to know the grandson -and vice versa - and doing this great thing of fishing in the Mississippi. A couple hours later, I woke up to the sound of Clate's voice shouting "I caught a fish, I caught a fish." So I got up and wandered outside the trailer to see him racing up the path from the river, with Grandpa following behind, carrying some fish on a string. And, Clate was soooo excited!
"Wait till you see these fish I caught, Mom!" Yeah, by this time, Grandpa was getting closer and I could see three fish hanging on this line - two small ones (I think a perch and a blue gill) and the third fish was this HUGE and really, really ugly -and I do mean UGLY -thing. I learned shortly the big fish was a carp.
Grandpa then arrived at the camp and began to tell us about their fishing adventure. He said the kid caught the two small fish first and he was happy, very excited about that, of course. But, when the carp hit on his line, Grandpa told us he was afraid the kid was gonna lose his right thumb because he didn't know enough to get it out of the way of the reel spinning around as the fish took the bait and RAN! And when it ran, it ran really, really hard, fighting Grandpa and grandson's efforts to land it in the boat. Grandpa said it took them a good twenty minutes or so before they were finally able to reel it in and get it into the boat.
Once the got it in the boat though, Grandpa said Clate sat back down in the corner of the boat and told him, "Let's go home now Grandpa. I'm all fished out. It's Miller Time!" With a wink, Grandpa asked me where the heck the kid might have heard that line from. Beat me, for sure because I always drank Genesee back then but Miller's was his Dad's beverage of choice.
Grandpa Ertmer died back in 1984 and a few years later - don't remember the year now - Grandma (Eileen) Ertmer remarried and now, she and "Grandpa FLoyd" Goeman live in South Dakota. They have been splitting their time between spending the winter months in Texas (a couple of Snowbirds, they are) and the spring through fall back at Grandpa Floyd's farm but Grandma told Mandy this past spring that she thinks they'll just be staying year-round now in South Dakota as the trip apparently is a bit longish for her and Grandpa to make that drive south now. So, if I don't remember to do this around the 14th, here's wishing you a very Happy Birthday Grandma from one of your ex-daughter's-in-law. (She's really one pretty terrific little lady, I must add!)
So, any way, now you know one of the things I have to keep in the back of my mind and start figuring out what to get my son for his big 34th birthday on the 22nd of this month. One thing, he's pretty easy to please - doesn't expect much - so we can (if we can find some good ones) easily get away with just giving him gag type gifts if we want. Here's a photo of Clate, celebrating his birthday here 2 years ago and it should give you a little idea of what a big clown he tends to be.
The photo to the left, is Uncle Clate, clowning around with the little Princess, Maya.
And, here on the right, is Uncle Clate with Princess Maya and the Prince, Alex, whose birthday happens to be three days before Uncle Clate's - on the 19th.
So, that means Grammy's gonna have to figure out a nice gift for Prince Alex and something for Uncle Clate - probably a cake for both of them too!
Alex's birthday though should be a lot easier for me to figure out what to get him. I told him last year that Grammy - this one, that is - won't buy him clothes because I have no idea what size to get him, don't know what he likes as clothing goes either (he can be a bit particular - a lot like his mother that way, where clothes are concerned -and Gram won't buy him toys either. That's something I will leave to his parents and his other grandparents to provide t him. But, because I know he likes to read, a lot too, and I am a big proponent of books at all ages, I have agreed that I will get him books for his birthdays and for Christmas. So far, that deal has been working out quite well. Last year, before Christmas, he had his mother send me an e-mail with the name of his favorite author and the names of some of that writer's books too that he hadn't read yet and would like to have. So, Barnes and Noble's website, here I come!
Here's some pictures taken last spring of my grandson, "Prince Alex." The one on the left here is Alex and his mother, my older daughter, Carrie.
And, on the right, here's Alex's paternal grandmother (Grammy Marge) and his step-grandfather, Pap, my Prince Alex and me. He wasn't quite 9 years old when these photos were taken, but you can see how tall he is next to me -and I'm not short at 5 ft. 6 in. His mother is almost 5 ft. 9 inches tall and already, he was up to her chin a year ago! Incredible how tall this boy is already! And he's just such a sweetheart too - a really, really great little (but big) guy he is! No, I'm not proud of him now, am I?
Sometime after the 14th (Grandma's birthday) and mid-September, we'll have a visitor here too - coming all the way from Nevada, no less. He's not sure exactly when he's going to be here yet though. That would be my ex-husband - my kids' Dad and "Poppy" as he is referred to around here with Princess Maya. He was here two years ago in May and last year, in June - spent a week here both times. Two years ago, Maya hadn't begun any therapy at that time so she was very difficult for him to get next to, to play with, to get acquainted and make any real "memories." Last year, the little Prince, Kurtis, was only about six weeks old and "Poppy" tends to be afraid of tiny babies - or so he says. Although I did manage to convince him that it was safe to pick Kurtis up -that he wouldn't break or anything like that - and he actually did pick him up and held him for about 5-10 minutes or so. This year's visit should be a whole different ball game for him and the kids as Kurtis dearly loves to be held and carried around and Maya - well, she has a vocabulary now, you can communicate a lot better with her and she'll really enjoy being able to show off to "Poppy" her bikes, her swingset, her swimming pool too if he shows up in August. She'll also be able to con him into taking her for walks up and down the road here - probably will want to take him down the road to show him "the 25" - meaning the speed sign down the street from us. I think he'll definitely have a totally different type of quality time to spend this year getting re-acquainted with his grandchildren, for sure.
The above picture was taken on his visit here two years ago and from left to right, there's Mandy, Princess Maya, Poppy, Carrie and Prince Alex. It's really a good feeling for me seeing how my kids - and the grandkids too now -have developed a very good relationship with their dad. If someone had told me even 15 years ago that a day would come that my kids and their Dad would communicate frequently, make plans to see him, call him almost every week and that he would call them frequently too, I would have told that someone they had to be crazy! But, since November of 1993, the relationship between him and the kids has grown steadily better and better. And, regardless of what happened between him and me, that's the way it should be for our kids and now, for our grandchildren too!
So there you have it! The events coming at me now this month and possibly into mid-September.
A lot to look forward too at any rate!