Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My rock

The past year has hit me with several unbelieveable situations--many of which I didn't know how I would face--or how I would get through. There were many times when I didn't know what to do--at these moments Mom would whip out an answer in reply.

I think all kids think at some point that their parents just don't get it, are stupid or just wrong. We all think we are "right." However, this past year I have become extremely close with my Mom. She is my best friend and I decided when she would whip out a reply--I would do something NEW--I would LISTEN.

It has amazed me how many times my Mom has been right. I would tell her what I was dealing with and she would say "Amy....." I would think she is not right. But I would be quiet and listen. What do you know, not one day later, I would call her and say "Mom you were Right!" She would just be quiet and say, Honey I know....

My mom is my best friend. We have laughed, we have yelled at the world and it's tough situations together, we have cried and she has supported me when I didn't know how I could make it. She is a strong woman and an example of having humor and grace under fire.

She is my rock.
I love you Mom.

A Termination Notice For Roy G. Biv

We all learned in school about the spectrum of colors... red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, which of course introduces us to our acronym friend, Roy G. Biv. Granted, most of us just think of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, completely ignoring the hippie-sounding "indigo" and renaming the gothy "violet" with something less easy to use in poetry. C'est la vie. Said redoing of the spectrum leaves us with the unpleasant and slightly gastrointestinal sounding Roy G. Bp, which, in light of the oil spill, was probably some good foresight on the part of the color-teaching higher-ups.

In any case, the reason for the above rambling diatribe is because one of the first memories I have of Annie has to do with colors. It must have been Christmas (or some other present-y holiday) and Amy and J.J. had been given sleeping bags. (If I remember correctly, I think that Jenny and I may have been given sleeping bags the same year, showing some awesome teamwork on the behalf of the D'hues and the Holeshas.)

I was probably about 5 at the time and in the throes of newly-acquired Holly Hobbie sleeping bag ownership. Amy and J.J. simultaneously tore open their oddly large and sleeping-bag-shaped presents and squealed with joy. I distinctly remember Annie looking at Amy's present and enthusiastically saying, "OH!! Pretty pink!!" Now "pretty pink" is kind of a girly, accepted phrase. My cynical, 5-year-old wordsmith self mentally braced for what awesome phrasing Auntie Annie would come up with for J.J.'s robin's egg blue sleeping bag, because Auntie Annie ALWAYS phrased things in the most awesome of ways.

"... And pretty blue!"

"WHAT??! Pretty BLUE? That's not a phrase!" I thought.

That's the great thing about Annie. OF COURSE "pretty blue" is a phrase. Hell... "pretty burnt toast" or "pretty infected pigeon wing" are phrases in Auntie Annieland, because, of course, in Auntie Annieland, above all else, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

Annie's joy is limitless. Annie's compassion is limitless. Annie's love of others is limitless.

Unlike our friend, Roy G. Biv, who has served me little more than helping me to desire and acquire new shades of nail polish, Annie's spectrum of love encompasses way more than a 7 letter acronym. Her various shades of love have served me during my highs and lows. I have never doubted that I was loved, and my love for her is equally as limitless.

That's the best thing about Auntie Annieland. Words are joyful, love is endless, and her spectrum, herself, is bigger than a list of colors could EVER encompass.

Friday, May 28, 2010

You can pick your friends, you can't pick your family...

...but when your choose to make your friends your family, you have a good thing.

Winnie and Annie "grew up" together through parenthood...the Jamie/Amy years, and (god help us...) the Jenny/J.J. years. Both sets of "sibs" were on the same wave length...the older sisters pretty much thought they were in charge. And the "Casual Kids", as J.J. and Jenny named themselves at an early age, spent their formative years bonded to the proposition that "all children are not created equal."

The site of the Casual Kids running sprinting across the lawn away from Annie's house, the shouts of the older ones..."They're getting away, they're getting away..."

I remember the very first time I played an outdoor concert with the band...Elburn, Illinois. Through the lights, I can still see "Mr. Rhythm"...J.J.....unable to contain himself at about age 3, just breaking down his dance moves on the grass. He looked like the gopher from Caddieshack.

And Amy...when the kids were videotaping themselves at my house...dancing to "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns and Roses, twirling a doll over her head by the hair...until the body popped off and she was left holding the head...much to her on-camera horror....

But most of all, the way both Annie and Winnie lit up when it each other's company....PRICELESS.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hide And Seek

I obviously have a lot of great stories about my mom. She has been an amazing mom. But her true calling is being a grandmother. I think she's aware of this fact as well because, regardless of how much fun she has with my boys, there is no mistaking the relief etched on her face when it is time to return them to their primary caregivers.

Aidan and Connor's favorite game to play with her is Hide and Seek. Now, I'm not really sure when the allure of Hide and Seek wears off for most kids, but when they are with their grandma, any sign of my boys discontinuing their Hide and Seek pursuits are not to be found.

To the untrained eye, the manner in which my mom plays Hide and Seek with my boys may be viewed as mindless placating of youngsters. The untrained eye misses so many beautiful, wonderful items.

You see, when my mom is "Seeking," my boys whip themselves into a frenzy and resemble Shaggy and Scooby from the old cartoons. You know the scene. Shag and Scoob have been terrified by this week's crotchety-old-man-dressed-as-monster, and as they attempt to flee, their legs move furiously, but they don't really go anywhere. Throw in a little Three Stooges-esque running into each other and falling down, and you've got a great idea how these games take shape. Needless to say, the boys usually are left scrambling for a hiding spot and must settle for a less than stealthy concealment. Regardless of the flaws in the boys hiding places, it always takes my mom ages to find them. One would think that the uncontrollable giggling would disclose their location. Not a chance. Not with grandma.

And when it is my mom's turn to "Hide," it is truly a a lesson in clandestineness. She has created absolute gems of stealth such as, "A Portion Of Face Behind 1 Foot Square Pillow," and "A Little Bit Of Body Beneath Afghan." True marvels of camouflage. But the boys absolute favorite is, "Head Behind Newspaper While Standing In Open Closet." This cunning maneuver consists of standing in an open closet while concealing her head with an open newspaper held in front of her. At this point I can neither confirm nor deny that she has been been contacted by the CIA regarding the execution of this tactic. I have actually feared that the boys would hyperventilate from laughing so hard when she employs this move.

It's amazing how much can be communicated without words through a simple game. I have studied this process on several occasions, and I have trained my ear to hear the subtle communication. I have found that, when my mom is "Seeking" and is unable to find my rascals right beneath her nose, while she says, "I don't know J. I think they must have run away," she is really speaking to my boys and is saying, "I value your effort. You have done your very best with the resources you have been given and I will honor you for that. I value your creativity and initiative. I am proud of you."

When my mom is "Hiding," and the boys find her with ease and the three of them tumble over each other with laughter, what she is saying to them then is, "Most times the things that bring us the most joy, the most fulfillment aren't 'somewhere out there,' but rather right here in from of you. Being found doesn't mean that I lost, but rather that we all won because we are together. I love you."

As I watch my boys grow, it is evident to me in the people that they are becoming that they have been "listening" to her as intently as I have been.

There are not adequate words to describe the gratitude I have for these lessons learned during Hide and Seek. Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!!!

There we were, up in the northwoods somewhere...the Holeshas, the Chapins and the D-Hues. They put the "newlywed" Holeshas up in the loft in two single beds so we could be alone.

So, I fixed them first thing in the morning.... by belting out Oh What A Beautiful Morning from the show Oklahoma....

Annie, you and I still laugh about that moment. Remember the every morning should be a beautiful morning, especially in the Keys, or in Florida, or just at your home with Ken.

Love ya

Saturday, May 22, 2010


For those of you who know Ann, my mom, you know that she has found her deepest appreciation of joy surrounded nature. Whether planting in her diminutive patch of soil, or cherishing time spent at the local arboretum, she was never more fulfilled than in these moments.

As you may or may not know, she has been battling cancer in various forms throughout the past several years. Very recently we learned that the cancer has spread and is present in many areas of her body including her brain. The prognosis is painfully short.

I have created this page for two reasons.

The first is to invite all of you to contribute to this page. To saturate it with your memories, your stories of how Ann has impacted your lives. I want for this to become a place where she can go in the time that remains to realize how many people she has touched, how many people love her. In order to create an original post, I will have to add you as a contributor. Please e-mail me at and I will be happy to add you as an author. This type of contribution will certainly be the most substantial to my mom.

The second reason I created this page is to create a memorial. As you know, my mom's two favorite places on earth are the Morton Arboretum and Herrick Lake (where she and Ken were married. "The scene of the crime," as they both affectionately call it.) We would like to honor my mom with the planting of a tree in her memory at either of these sights. The total cost for this is $2,500. In the coming days, I will be setting up a memorial fund at a local bank and adding a donate button to this page. Please consider donating as she would be overjoyed to realize this is happening.

Any funds raised above and beyond the $2,500 will be used to help ease the burden of costs associated with final preparations.