Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Girl-Of Course She Is

Remember when you were a sixth grader?  Maybe your parents started to give you a little more freedom, maybe you were allowed stay up a little later at night, maybe you could talk your parents into switching from Oldies 96 to CK105.5 on the radio, maybe boys weren't quite so unappealing as they were just a year prior.  Well, I've got a sixth grade girl now, and it's a whole lot different than having a sixth grade boy.

My girl tried something new this year-ice skating.  She took a few figure skating classes and seemed to enjoy them...

but then we had the chance to try ice hockey as a family, and Emerson was hooked.

I'm still holding out hope that she'll be a runner, though.  With the bribe of having her own Instagram account, I somehow got her to train for and run a 5k race last summer.  That's right-she ran three times a week for eight weeks and kicked butt in a trail 5k race!  Check out that smile as she crossed the finish line, despite the pouring rain!  (I see ultramarathons in her future-I'm sure of it!)

My girl has a major sweet tooth.  I'm talking HUGE.  But I think her favorite thing to eat is pickles!  If she finds a jar of pickles in the fridge, she claims them as her own.  Last summer we even made our own pickles from the garden and of course Emerson was in HEAVEN.

My girl has a slight obsession.  I guess we should not try to avoid the elephant in the room.  Emerson is obsessed with cats. And not just living cats, anything cat-related is also completely irresistible to her. Cat pillows, cat pajamas, cat calendars, cat ears, cat costumes, and even visits to the Humane Society to visit the cats.

Oh, and we can't forget Gypsy, the kitten who followed us home on a run and stuck around as an outdoor cat and then became an inside cat when the temperature dipped below zero and  then had kittens and is Emerson's pride and joy, CAN WE?

Despite all of the cat things consuming her life, my girl still finds time to snuggle with chickens and dogs wherever we go.  And while all of our other chickens have old lady names, Emerson's chicken is named Tatiana.

My girl is a kaleidoscope.  She is always experimenting with makeup and clothing and hairstyles.  Sometimes her look changes by the hour.  And while she's in her room re-creating herself, she's keeping track of all of it.  She makes YouTube and Music.ly videos non-stop.  In fact, just today in Tim Hortons, I looked up to find her dancing in the aisle to a song for her next video. I started to gather my photos to post a few, but I realized I had way more than just a few.  Here's a little sampling of everything that is currently Emerson, set to one of her favorite songs...

My girl is a social butterfly.  While my other children are content with just a close friend or two, Emerson always has a broad circle of friends.  Her weekends are filled with sleepovers here or there and hanging out with other friends in between.  And if nothing is planned for a weekend, she can fill the days in an unbelievably short amount of time.  We hosted a birthday party sleepover with all of her besties last weekend, and man-oh-man do they have her pegged.  Her gifts included coffee, coffee cups, funny t-shirts and SO. MUCH. CANDY.  I'm talking six or seven boxes of Nerds PLUS many other sweets.  I love that her group of friends is so diverse-it ranges from her second grade sister, to girls in sixth grade with her, to cousins, to even me.  (I will hold on to her letting me hang with her as long as possible!)  Again, I tried to gather a few photos of Em with her friends, and came up with a zillion, so here's a little clip of what her social circle looks like...

Emerson is twelve years old today.  Instead of cake or pie or cupcakes, my girl opted for truffles to celebrate.  (Of course she did.)

It's her last year before she becomes a teenager.  She's not a baby anymore and she's actually pretty mature, if you ask me.  As I give her more responsibilities, she rises to the challenge.  I am careful not to treat her like an adult, though.  She's got a lot more living to do before she's ready for that, and I think she's happy about it.  Emerson is content to be a kid-she's not in a rush to be all grown up and moving on.

But when she does?  She's got plans.  When she goes to college, she doesn't want a dorm or apartment-she wants to design her own tiny house.  Why, you ask?  Well, it'll cost less in the long run, it'll be hers to keep for as long she likes, she can take it with her wherever she goes and back home again, but most importantly, ALL of her cats can live with her and she can become the crazy cat lady she longs to become.

That's my girl.

Happy Birthday, Em. Mom loves you.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Here, in Spring

It's Springtime here in Michigan.  Daffodils and tulips are pushing their way up through the dirt, earthworms are stretching across pavement in the fresh rain, and the trees are filled with tiny, new buds.
She looked forward to walking around her yard, searching for the spring blooms and inspecting her rosebushes.  She was always cheering on the Detroit Tigers for every pitch of every game, even if it was while sitting at the kitchen table to listen to Ernie Harwell over the  radio.  With wedding season fast approaching, she'd be hard at work in her basement making sure that the bridal bouquets and corsages were absolutely perfect.
She was my grandma-my Grammy-Ellie Wogen.  When she was young, she pitched on her softball team, and was so proud of her reporting job for the Estherville Daily News.  Later, she became an avid bowler and volunteered with the McLaren Hospital Auxiliary.  But there was one thing that was always there: my grandpa, Grampy, her husband, Stan. She was many things, but she was the most complete when my grandpa was with her. They married in New Orleans in 1943, when she was just 17 years old, and she watched him go off to war.  And then, when he returned to her, they made a family.
They were a magical team.  Sunday at The Wogen's was an EVENT.  Everyone was welcome for snacks or dinner or dessert or drinks or for the entire day.  While Grampy grilled chicken, Grammy would be in the kitchen making scalloped potatoes and preparing pattipan squash from the garden.  And, of course, there was always bread fresh from the Balkan Bakery. While they were making dinner, we'd be out back picking raspberries and playing frisbee and trying to catch Grampy taking secret puffs from his pipe.  Their house was always the place to come home to.  Even now, not much has changed.  Emerson sitting at Grammy's piano looked quite similar to when I sat there thirty years ago.

Oh, and while we're talking about that piano, let me tell you how much she loved it.  Uncle Dennis and I would take turns playing our favorite songs, but at some point, we'd end up playing Heart and Soul. With just a few notes, Grammy would drop whatever she was doing in the kitchen to dance her way into the living room and sing along.

Together, Grammy and Grampy raised six successful children and watched their family continue to grow with the addition of 14 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.  I wonder if they had any idea that when they said their I-do's all those years ago that it would take them from that...

to all of this.

When my grandpa passed away, a little piece of my grandma died, too, but she carried him with her.  When she'd hear a strange noise in the basement, or if the doorbell rang and no one was at the door, she'd say that was just Stan having a little fun with her.  I suppose after spending 52 years with someone, it would be quite difficult not to see him everywhere.

The last few years were a little tough, but her children did everything in their power to make sure Grammy was able to stay in her home.  There were long, sleepless nights spent, and days filled with medications and nurses, but I think it was a gift that they got to spend so much time with her in her later years.  "Older and wiser" is a very real thing and we all benefited from her wisdom.  I think my youngest son, Nash, was quite privileged to have spent so much time with her, and Grammy sure enjoyed our visits.

She'd say on occasion that she had lived too long and she didn't want to be a burden to anyone.  But when you've lived your entire life giving all that you had for your family, you are seen as nothing but a blessing.

On Friday, we will say our final goodbyes to our mother and grandmother and great-grandmother and sister and aunt and friend.  But it's not really goodbye, is it?  She may have physically left this earth, but she is here-all around us.  In those raspberry bushes, in those silly little songs she'd sing, in those first rose blooms this year, she is here.