A quarter of a century ago this guy came into our lives. Happy Birthday Andrew!
Back when the kids made me Mother’s Day cards.
Nearly thirteen years ago the kids and I set out on a drive to Illinois. Dean must have been on a business trip. For one reason or another, the kids and I each wrote our account of the day on Holiday Inn stationery. We really didn’t need to write down the part about the seatbelt — none of us will ever forget that.
Left home at 11:10 this morning. Had hoped to get an earlier start but no luck. The kids were fine. Great first few hours then they began watching LOTR-FOTR. Stopped in good old Breezewood for lunch and gas. Bought too much food.
Arrived at motel in Fremont, Ohio around 7:30. Checked in. Kids wanted to stay in the car.
When I got back Clare was doing something to Andrew’s back. I jokingly asked Clare what did she do to Andrew. Then I saw that he had the seatbelt all tangled up and round his belly. I helped him escape and was on the verge of calling 911 to get him out. He finally did a backward somersault and slipped free. Dinner was good.
Kids watching TV now.
We left a lot later than I wanted to but we had TV. Then we ate lunch at a fine place. Then I had to go to the bathroom really really bad. Then we went to a place we went last time. Then stuff happened. And then…I got stuck in my seatbelt and I got to do a somersault. It was weird.
Today was funny…Halloween woke me up. Awwwww. Mom was mad. Dad left blah blah blah. OK later, Andrew got stuck in the seatbelt. Umm, I have no clue how. He had to do a backward somersault. errr.. Dinner was odd… umm mom probably told you. A cute kid (adorable) waved. He was 2. Then a thunderstorm came. I went to our room and am watching TV now. The seatbelt disappeared in his tummy. GTG ~*Clare*~
While enjoying a tasty pizza dinner together a few weeks ago, my son surprised Dean and me by telling us he was not going to be spending Christmas Day with us this year, but, instead, was traveling to Atlanta to spend Christmas with his friend, Alex and her family. I acted brave, but cried when I got home, and texted him that I was not ready for my kids to not be with me for Christmas.
I’ve spent the time in between thinking about him not being home on Christmas Day and realized it was okay — he would be there the day after and we could squeeze in a family Christmas on December 26 before Clare left on December 27. We often moved our personal Christmas celebration around when the kids were small because we usually traveled back to Elgin for the actual day.
Andrew and I had lunch earlier this week and he confided that he was a little nervous because he’d never not spent Christmas with us and we had our own traditions. He was going somewhere where they had their own traditions, ones he was not familiar with.
I thought about this and remembered that my first Christmas away from my family was in 1978. I was a year younger than Andrew is now and I was gone from early December through March. That year I did student teaching in London and left Elgin early to spend time with my English friend, Jeremy, and his family. I also recalled that I, too, was nervous — although I’d spent months with this family over the previous four years — because I was not familiar with their traditions. It was wonderful though. I was introduced to wine with Christmas dinner, Christmas cake, chocolate oranges and Christmas crackers.
While I never did attempt to make a Christmas cake, I did insist we have wine with Christmas dinner the year after I returned from England. I also always made sure to include a chocolate orange (and a real orange) in everyone’s Christmas stocking. Once Christmas crackers became readily available (and affordable) in the US I always buy a box Christmas crackers which we pop before the Christmas meal, wear the silly hats that come in the crackers, read the lame jokes and play with the included toys.
I sent Andrew a text telling him about that Christmas and that many of the unfamiliar traditions I experienced that year were such fun that I incorporated them into our family celebrations.
His reply made me cry a little again. He thanked me for telling him about my first Christmas away and then said he was bringing chocolate oranges and Christmas crackers for her family.
I’ve not posted about wrestling in a long time because my favorite wrestler has gone on to bigger and better things. This past week, though, I’ve been back in the wrestling state of mind. It has been a long time coming, but one of Montgomery County’s own wrestlers, Helen Maroulis, made it to the Olympics and made Olympic history by being the first US female to win a gold medal.
Why did I care so much? Mostly because she and Andrew grappled a few times in his freshman year. I remember the first time. We got to the meet and saw that Andrew was up against a girl. It felt a little odd, and I remember hearing, “Andrew’s wrestling Helen” repeated a few times that day. The next time he was up against her, it was not so strange and by then I’d learned more about her. She had a brother who was also a wrestler, she was very good.
Here is Andrew wrestling Helen at Counties:
Here he is wrestling Helen at Regionals:
She beat Andrew each time he wrestled against her but when she was wrestling others in different meets I, and all the moms of our team, not-so-secretly cheered Helen on.
After she left our county to train more extensively I followed her on Twitter and Instagram. I was disappointed when she didn’t qualify for the London Olympics, and delighted when she qualified for the Rio Olympics. I told everyone who would listen about her and Andrew’s history with her.
On Thursday of last week I stopped what I was doing to watch her win the quarterfinals, the semifinals and finally the finals. I cried tears of joy when she ran her victory lap around the arena, the US flag trailing behind her.
We most likely never exchanged a word, but I am claiming the right to feel proud to have been in the same room with her and watching her wrestle as a young teen.
Andrew graduated in May, spent a few days with us then went off on his post-graduation summer travels. First he went to Colorado with a couple friends by way of a circuitous route and flew back to Maryland about a week later. Not long after that he flew to Seattle with his bike and very few other possessions to embark on a 1300 or so mile solo cycling trip to San Diego.
We heard from him weekly along the way (a predetermined compromise from several times a week) about how his trip was going. He spent a few days with friends in Seattle, then took the long way to Olympia to visit Clare. He tried to cycle to Portland, but was picked up along the way by Clare and friends. He spent more time in Portland (but didn’t participate in the Naked Bike Ride even though he thought about it.)
The next time we heard from him he was in Newport, Oregon setting up his campsite. He told us he was living on rice and beans cooked over a small cooker and it was getting old.
Andrew and I had a nice conversation when he was somewhere in the middle of California. He lamented that his trip was more than half over but was really happy he was doing it.
It seemed like more than a week, but we finally heard (though Tal) that Andrew was on his way to Santa Barbara where he was going to spend some time with our friend Tal. When he got to Santa Barbara Tal set up a Skype chat. Andrew, Tal and I talked for half an hour or so. Tal knew I was anxious to see how Andrew was doing and I am forever grateful to him for that gift.
After that I saw some Facebook posts from a friend of Clare’s showing Andrew in Topanga having fun with some dogs and swinging on a rope. He called us sometime around then and said he’d stayed with Dean’s Uncle Ed and Aunt Fran in Pasadena one night.
We talked to Andrew a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. Once when he was in Baja California and again on Sunday when he called me from New Orleans for my birthday. Again he repeated that the trip was a great one in which he learned things about himself, was able to reflect on his life and he met some great people along the way.
Andrew comes home tomorrow morning. Home meaning the home in which he spent most of his life so far, but I know that before long he will have a new “home”. None of us know what is going to happen in the future. All I hope for is that Andrew be happy in whatever he does next.
I am so proud of both Andrew and Clare. They have both turned out to be amazing adults. I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Yes, it seems like only last week we dropped Andrew off at Oberlin when he was a new student. I took photos and planned a blog post about it but waited too long and now he’s graduated. Time sure does fly!
Andrew graduated from Oberlin with honors of some sort. We even went to the home of the president of the school to celebrate his honor where we drank punch and ate fruit on sticks. Dean’s sister, Diane, was able to join us for much of the weekend.
Oberlin goes all out for graduation and invites several alumni back for reunions. Oberlin goes from a small quiet college town to a very busy place. It was even more busy this year because one of the graduation speakers was Michelle Obama.
We spent much of our long weekend lounging on the grass. The weather was perfect for that — although it became a little hot on graduation day. I thought I would be in mourning since I loved Oberlin so, but strangely I didn’t feel sad. It would not be the same without Andrew there, and I said my expensive farewell to Bead Paradise.
The ceremony was far too long, but the two main speakers were excellent. Michelle Obama’s was the best, by a long-shot. My favorite takeaway from Obama was:
“And I know that these days, that can seem counterintuitive, because we live in such an instantaneous age. We want everything right away—whether it’s an Uber or your favorite TV show—and we want it tailored to our exact preferences and beliefs. We fill our Twitter feed with voices that confirm, rather than challenge, our views. If we dislike someone’s Facebook post, we just un-follow them, we un-friend them.
And even here at Oberlin, most of the time you’re probably surrounded by folks who share your beliefs. But out in the real world, there are plenty of people who think very differently than you do, and they hold their opinions just as passionately. So if you want to change their minds, if you want to work with them to move this country forward, you can’t just shut them out. You have to persuade them, and you have to compromise with them. That is what so many of our heroes of history have done.”
Marian Wright Edelman’s was inspiring too — although a bit long. Someone suggested that since she was an elder she felt the need to be thorough in her speech. My favorite takeaway from Edelman’s speech was “So often we want to be a big dog and make a big difference but all of us can be a flea and bite and bite and move the biggest dog. Enough determined fleas biting strategically can make the biggest dog uncomfortable. And if some of us are flicked off but keep coming back and continue biting, we can change our nation. So be a flea for justice—for children and for the poor.”
Eighteen years ago today my obstetrician said I could get out of bed and stop taking Terbutaline.
Eighteen years ago today I got up, showered, dressed and drove to the obstetrician.
Eighteen years ago today the obstetrician said the baby could come at any time.
Eighteen years ago today I stopped at my favorite greeting card store to buy thank you cards.
Eighteen years ago today I felt the unmistakable onset of labor in the middle aisle of the above mentioned card store.
Eighteen years ago today I quickly paid for my purchases and drove home, occasionally wincing in pain.
Eighteen years ago today I called my friend, Frances, and casually mentioned I was in labor.
Eighteen years ago today I finally called my husband and told him we were going to probably have a baby very soon.
Eighteen years ago today I packed a bag for the hospital.
Eighteen years ago today I made dinner, but didn’t eat much, if anything. My husband ate though.
Eighteen years ago today I called the neighbor who’d promised to take our daughter when I gave birth.
Eighteen years ago today we finally called the doctor, told her about the contractions. She said we should go to the hospital.
Eighteen years ago today I checked in to Alexandria Hospital.
Eighteen years ago today I wanted to watch Murphy Brown on TV instead of giving birth right then.
Eighteen years ago today the doctor showed up and grumpily delivered our son at 11:11 pm.
Happy Eighteenth Birthday, Andrew!
The kids and I went out to dinner this evening. We all had a lazy Sunday, but Saturday was big for both kids. Andrew placed (5th) in Regionals and Clare took her SAT. Andrew was giddy with the knowledge that he could eat what he wanted and not stay after school for the grueling practice wrestlers go through.
Saturday night Andrew ate the last of the ice cream, declaring it to be his first ice cream in 3 months. Tonight he ate sausage soup, tortellini with sausage, several bites of appetizers, an entire ice cream dessert, two root beers and half a cannoli. When we got home an email was waiting for Andrew from his coach. The coach wanted Andrew to practice with the team and be prepared to possibly step in should someone in his weight class not be able to wrestle.
He was nearly inconsolable. We talked and he is now prepared to have another week of hard practice and little food. After his dinner tonight, I’m not sure if he could loose the weight that he gained from the ice cream and pasta.
He asked me to buy him a lot of fruit for the rest of the week.