Wednesday, June 30, 2010


     Eleven years ago today, at 10:08 pm, my oldest son was born.  Eleven.  How did that happen so quickly.  I vividly remember the days that Bob the Builder lived at our house.  He was an honorary member of the family and I was sick of him.  Had I known how quickly my boy's affections would shift I would have enjoyed having Bob around a little bit more. 
     Isaac.  We had his name picked out before we were even engaged.  I remember a date where Steve and I were walking around a park.  For some reason I remember lots and lots of bats swarming (do bats swarm?) through the trees.  That night we talked about wanting kids and with that conversation took another step closer to marriage.  We discussed names that night and the name "Isaac" came up as one we both liked.  While I don't completely understand the story of Sarah, Abraham, and Isaac (how do you understand God asking you to sacrifice your son??) I do love the meaning of the name: laughter.  Sarah laughed when she learned that she was pregnant at her advanced age.  I laughed when I learned that the baby I was carrying was a boy.  Laughter and happiness are intertwined and the happiness I felt at carrying this little man was palpable.   As soon as him "manhood" was confirmed via ultrasound, we named him.  We talked to him by name, the family "knew" him by name, and baby showers were all held for Isaac. 
     Gerald.  This is his middle name.  It is Grandpa Jerry's first name.  Grandpa died right before Steve and I were officially engaged, but he knew we were going to get married.  He welcomed me into the  Ruff family with open arms and I will forever love him for that.  Isaac's middle name is a gift to Isaac and gift to Grandpa.  They will meet someday. This I know.  Until then, Isaac carries a little bit of this amazing man with him wherever he goes. 
     Bob the Builder has been replaced by Zelda and Manga.  Though I'm not fans of those either, I know they are temporary visitors and will be replaced by other interests as he grows.  I embrace them as a part of my boy's life.  I'm flooded with memories of birthdays past. The third birthday Bug Party, the sixth birthday Pirate Party, and last Sunday at Grand Slam.  I remember pushing this boy out of me, nursing him while singing lullabies, rubbing his head and soothing him while he cried.  The first day of kindergarten and the last day of elementary school earlier this month are all rolled into one.  Recently, when he broke his wrist and had surgery, I was reminded that though he is growing up - a "tween" he says - he still needs me.  I hope he always will.  I need him.  He lives up to his name.  He brings me happiness and laughter every day of his life. 

                 I love you, Isaac.  Happy 11th Birthday! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Good-Bye Big Red...sniff sniff

    Today, after eight year, we replaced our mini-van.  Mind you, driving a mini-van is not my top choice.  I used to dream of driving a British racing green Mazda Miata with a tan leather interior.  Last week, however, the dream car changed.  I saw an adorable convertible Volkswagen Bug with brightly colored daisies all over it.  I was drooling.  Alas, with four children and carpooling duties, the dream car has once again been put on hold for practical reasons. 
     Though Big Red (our '96 Dodge Caravan) did not make my heart beat wildly, it was a good and faithful car.  It was harder to say good-bye to her than expected.  After all, 3/4 of our children came home from the hospital in this car.  We drove this car with three kids and my parents to Missouri for a family reunion.  It has taken us to the Jolly Fisherman Resort, to Chicago, Fargo, Omaha, Oklahoma City, and LaCrosse.  Kids have been driven to school,birthday parties, karate, soccer, gymnastics, and dance in this car.  When three of the kids broke bones, Big Red was there to get them to the doctor.  When two of these breaks resulted in surgery, our trusty van drove us to the hospital and home again. 
     There were the two times, both this last year, that Big Red was violated.  This fall someone opened her up and stole a car seat.  We were thankful she wasn't damaged.  Then, a few weeks later she was injured.  While the family enjoyed the The MN Institute of Art, someone smashed one of her windows - just because.  We lovingly had her patched back up.  And she loved us right back by going and going and going....
   Today, the things I was growing to hate about this car became endearing quirks.  The cassette player with the squeaky speakers, the rear window that would not open, the broken air conditioning, the cracked bumper and rusty doors, weren't really that bad, were they?  The engine was still running strong and had many more miles to go.  However, Big Red's oil changes and maintenance checks had made it clear that her time was running out. 
     So, today we said good-bye to her.  We entrusted her to the Honda Dealership in hopes that they will take good care of her.  We lined up behind her while the salesman took our picture.  And, while the kids piled into our new Odyssey, I patted her on the side, wished her well and silently thanked her for her years of faithful service. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Sadly, I got very few pictures of my parents and the kids when they were here last month.  There are, however, many wonderful memories that will be engraved in my memory - and that of the kids.

1.  Abuelita playing "fofi fofi."  This is a game my mom made up when the kids were babies.  No, that's not true.  She did this to my brother, my sister and me.  She holds up little baby feet and sniffs them and then says, " Mmmm Hmmm, fofi fofi!"  She pretends the sweet little baby feet are stinky.  For some reason babies love this!  The problem comes in when those sweet little baby feet become real big kid stinky feet.  While C will always be my sweet baby.  He no longer has fresh lil tootsies.  So, Ita was not play acting when she reacted to those chubby little stinkers.  Yes, she still plays with the big kids, but only after they come out of the bath!

2.  The one picture I did manage to get was of Paw Paw brushing L's hair before school.  She loves her long hair.  She hates to brush it.  The fact that she let Paw Paw at it is a sign of her love for him.  The fact that he noticed her snarly tangly hair needed brushing is a sign that he loves her.  This picture makes my heart ache at the distance between my kids and their Beatty grandparents.

Thankfully, we live close to Munca - C has nicknamed Grandma Ruff, "Munca."  It has stuck and we are all starting to call her that now.  We had dinner at Munca's on Sunday.  C had on his MN Twins jammies and decided that he  needed to play ball with Munca.. Munca was sitting down drinking her coffee when C decided to "recruit" her.  He ran over to her and grabbed her shirt to pull her up.  He'd pitch to Munca - big wind up of the arm included.  She would bat the imaginary ball and he would run the bases, crossing home plate by jumping onto the couch.  He was giggling the entire time.  This whole thing was repeated several times.  Each time, C and Munca laughed even more.  And, darn it - I forgot the camera.  All I need to do, though, is close my eyes to see those two playing imaginary ball together. 

What a blessing grandparents are to their grandchildren.  What a blessing cameras can be to capture those memories.  But, if like me, you find yourself in the midst of a Kodak moment without your camera - just let the moment soak into you and  burn itself into your heart and your memory.  You will always find it there.  And, honestly, it's a lot easier to scrapbook those pictures than the ones taken with your camera!