Good Sunday evening.
The last few days have been a (wonderful) whirlwind. There are many pictures to share & a gush of emotions I'd like to think I can funnel into words, but in case I fail to do so, below is an agenda of what I hope to cover before signing off to enjoy my Thanksgiving Break. Oh, also, by "Thanksgiving Break," I mean cleaning out the kids' closets, grading research papers, & decorating the house for Christmas. Here's to "Christmas Break," eh?
Tonight you can expect to read & see more about:
(1) Pre-Thanksgiving festivities at school
(2) Grandparents' Day merriment
(3) ELLIOT ENGEL
(4) Family Fun Time
(5) Tears & life lessons in the American Girl store
(6) My return to ice skating glory
Clearly we need to begin.
Since we're decidedly not going to be attending school the week of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving-awareness began weeks ago at school. Pictured below is Reagan with the poster she designed & created herself. Given only the directive to present her interpretation of "the first Thanksgiving" on half of a piece of poster board, she drew & colored this lovely rectangular dining table which, when inspected closely, boasts apples, a turkey, & some strawberries.
Below, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Henry's best attempt to disguise himself as an American Indian (we laugh haughtily in the face of political correctness & dress as whatever & whomever we please):
Friday was a day that had been circled on my calendar for a long time. Friday was Grandparents' Day. What, you may ask, does that mean? What it meant for me, Reagan, & Reagan's wonderful teacher was that last week Reagan's schedule was completely obliterated & we had to do some fancy two-stepping to make sure her blood sugar stayed in an acceptable range. On Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday of last week Reagan dressed as a hot chocolate server & was bused to a local theater where hundreds of elementary-aged school children performed The Polar Express for interested parties; on Friday this included a throng of grandparents & yours truly.
Friday was also the day Dr. Elliot Engel was scheduled to lecture on Ernest Hemingway in Dallas. I was determined to be present for both events.
My mom took this picture below. This is my "We need to get on the road NOW because I am not going to be late for Dr. Engel's lecture" face. Trey always says I'd make a terrible poker player.
A month or so ago Trey & I asked our parents if they'd like to accompany us to Dallas to sit in on Dr. Engel's lecture &/or enjoy some good eating/shopping. My dad was the only grandparent interested in Dr. Engel's lecture, however all four grandparents made the trip. The eight of us ate a quick lunch Friday after Reagan's performance. We made great time on the way over, save one stop that initially irritated me but ended up being well worth it because I found these at a magical gas station somewhere in Texas:
Stuffed with fudge-filled pretzels, I, along with my father & husband, arrived at the appointed venue in plenty of time.
We enjoyed the coffee & cookies provided, & then we took selfies & discussed the select group of octogenarians gathered on a Friday night to hear Dr. Engel lecture on Hemingway.
If you're unaware, Dr. Elliot Engel is a literature professor with whom I first became acquainted as high school student. His only flaw is that he loves Charles Dickens a little too much, but otherwise he is perfection; he is an excellent speaker. This links to his bio on his website. I knew a Hemingway lecture was in his repertoire, & when I looked up his speaking schedule a few months ago & saw he was to deliver his Hemingway talk in Dallas, well, you can imagine the screaming.
It was a fantastic night.
(It reads: To Anna, Cheers Elliot Engel)
The remainder of the trip was, dare I say, seamless. I'd like to take a moment to raise my hands in praise to the person or group of people who decided to build a Westin hotel & attach it to the Galleria.
Let me tell you something. When you have young kids, you spend half the time you're on vacation loading & unloading them from the car. Every time you visit a restaurant, a new attraction, etc., you must repeat this process. Attaching the Westin to the Galleria eliminates the need to load & unload the car, &, and, it is a perfect set-up for those who travel with groups whose members have varying levels of shopping enthusiasm / stamina.
Saturday was a long, busy day, but a deeply satisfying day for me, someone who adores a good mall & equally adores eating at the Grand Lux Cafe. It is, of course, inside the Galleria, & it is excellent. We ate there twice on Saturday. Seriously.
Henry's day began like this:
Grand Lux visit No. 1.
Reagan took a selfie while I was engrossed in the menu & paying her no attention:
Waiting for all the carbs:
The only time I stepped into the elements Saturday was to walk over to the American Girl store with Reagan. It is mere feet from the Galleria, but there is no access from within the Galleria.
I could tell you a long & detailed story about the time Reagan & I spent inside this store. The short version is this: Trey told her she could look, but she was not leaving with anything. The thing is, she has a birthday & of course Christmas coming in December, so if we buy her a doll on some random Saturday in November, what in the world are we supposed to do to top that twice in December?
The other thing is, her room is a total mess of toys. After some handwringing & through tears, she selected a doll she wants. We told her she is to spend this next week going through her closet & all the other nooks & crannies in which she stashes
crap her belongings & decide what she's giving away to young girls who will never, ever own a brand new American Girl doll. I explained to her that she is almost seven years old. This doll is not a cheap doll; it is a doll she needs to make space for & be prepared to take excellent care of. I've had many emotional experiences inside retail stores, but this one may be the most emotional.
We did in fact leave American Girl with nothing. Trey then joined me & Reagan & we headed to Nordstrom. I found some lovely things to try on while Trey & Reagan made use of the camera on Trey's phone.
Reagan's emotional time in American Girl was nearly forgotten when I left her with Nana & Papa. They fed her a snack, bought her some cheap-o jewelry, & then my mom took a series of photos of Reagan on the escalator (you may think the Galleria is not an ideal place for children, but you've no idea how much fun they can have on escalators).
Reagan had two requests when we began the trip: American Girl & ice skating. I bore the emotional & physical brunt of both requests.
Something you may not know about me is that when I was, oh, about five years old my parents took our family of four on what was the first of many snow skiing trips. The time to learn to navigate snow/ice is when you are five years old; you're very low to the ground & are unaware of how awful a truly bad fall can potentially be. It has been years since I snow skied, but I think were I to strap on a pair of skis today, I could do it.
Saturday, for the first time in at least a decade (probably longer), I put on a pair of ice skates . . . & I did pretty well, especially considering I was overseeing Reagan's inaugural ice skating experience. One day I will tell you more about the similarities between roller skating & ice skating & how I excel at the former, but that's another story for another day. Seriously though if Skate Town would host an eighties/nineties music night for adults, I would be there . . . I'd invite everyone I know.
My dad was the only onlooker to take any action shots & for some reason they refuse to make the move from my phone to my computer. You'll have to take my word, & the word of my mom, dad, Trey, & father-in-law, that I was poised, coordinated, & didn't fall once. My mother-in-law was up in the the hotel room (which could be easily accessed without needing to load anyone in a car) with Henry.
Before leaving the Westin for good on Sunday my mom took a few pics for me in front of one of the many lovely trees. I really should arrange for a professional to take some pictures of the kids & the four of us, but I am perpetually presented with evidence suggesting that might be a waste of both time & money.
We are home now. I've already washed two loads of clothes. Tomorrow morning the children & I will make a grocery run, & then we'll pick up Sophie the dog from the vet where she spent the weekend. Upon returning home, the work of dealing with the ridiculous amount of stuff the children own will commence. I told them we are not decorating for Christmas until the house is in better order than it is now. Reagan has a great deal on the line; she wants to put the tree up, obviously, but she also wants her American Girl doll.
Last week I wrote about choice. I used the word several times with Reagan in American Girl Saturday. I want her to recognize that at times, her life will unfold as it does as a direct result of choices she has made. Agonizingly for me as a mother, I also want her to learn to press on & be happy when she is affected by things that are out of her hands, things that befall her despite her making the best choices she can, things like Diabetes. I want her to understand how truly blessed she is. It's hard to look at a six-year-old whose pancreas quit on her shortly after she turned three & tell her, "No, you can't have that doll today." It's hard to impress upon on her that she is fortunate. She is fortunate to have been born in America to two people who love her & love each other. She is fortunate to have a closet overflowing with clothes & toys & a warm house with a pantry always stocked with food. Despite these truths, she will have a lifetime of low, low moments when she doesn't feel fortunate or lucky at all.
I thought a lot about my mom on Saturday not only because of my emotional time with Reagan in American Girl, but because when I turned thirteen, my brave mother escorted me & some of my giggling friends to Dallas. We stayed at the Westin. We shopped. We ice skated. I don't know what all was going on in my fool head when I turned thirteen, but I know I thought life would be made when I was older. When I was married. When I had kids. When I returned to the Galleria to ice skate with my daughter. After everything that went through my head in American Girl, I guess what I realized later that day, when I was ice skating with Reagan, is that above all, I want her to learn to be content where she is, with what she has.
When she was first diagnosed with Diabetes, all I wanted was an insulin pump. Everyone told me a pump would make things so much easier. The pump does make things easier, but we lived for six months without one, & I now realize those six months were crucial. Pumps fail. We need to know how to manage Diabetes without a pump, which is probably one of the reasons they don't usually advocate commencing pumping immediately.
For Reagan, & anyone reading (& myself): Learn to celebrate & love life now, today. Maybe you'll get the insulin pump, or the American Girl doll, or whatever else it is you think will bring you happiness, but thirty-seven years have taught me that there will always, always be something else on which you set your sights. It's fine to have goals, dreams, wish lists, etc., but don't let them dominate today.
Happy Thanksgiving from the four of us.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Happy Thanksgiving from the four of us.