Friday, July 31, 2009

She doesn't remember...


Every mom of every newborn baby can probably rattle off a list of items that she couldn't live without.

For some, it might be the Diaper Genie, or the bottle warmer, or just the Playtex nurser.

For me, it was a simple little CD.

There was a time when that one CD was the most important thing in our house. We knew where it was at all times. We even took it with us on trips.

Thanks to iTunes and the three iPods and one iPhone in my house, CDs have been made pretty much obsolete. That once indispensable disk has spent the last several years in a basket with a bunch of other old ones.

In passing the other day, Marty asked if I still had it. Of course, I do. I knew exactly where it was.

So I got it out and dusted it off. And last night, we had Lora Leigh play it (on the computer, no less).

She listened.... And then she said the words that about broke my heart, "What is this? I've never heard this before."

She doesn't remember...

How could she not remember?

By the time she was a year old, Lora Leigh had virtually memorized the words to every song on this CD. So had I ...

It was Linda Ronstadt's "Dedicated to the One I Love," a collection of songs that with the word "baby" in the titles or that were otherwise suitable to be sung to a baby.

Besides the re-arrangements of "We Will Rock You," and "In My Room," there's "Be My Baby," "Baby I Love You," "Angel Baby," and, the title track, "Dedicated to the One I Love."

(Each night before I go to bed my baby...)

Linda managed to turn all of them into soft, sweet lullabies, much to the delight of many a mom.

It quickly became one of my favorite CDs -- and my number one indispensable baby item. I have since gifted it to just about every new mom I've known since Lora Leigh was born.

It's not just that the music is cool, it also provided some of my most cherished memories of my baby's first months of life -- thanks to the one-time Queen of Rock and Roll.

Each night before she went to bed, my baby and I would rock (literally) to this entire CD -- from start to finish. It was our night time ritual. I would take her into the nursery, sit in my big white wicker rocking chair, push play and rock (and sing) my baby to sleep.

Sometimes, it actually worked...

After listening to the closing song, a soft and sweet version of "Good Night," I usually was able to lift her gently from my lap and place her in her crib. I would softly tuck her in, then I would tiptoe out.

Sometimes we had to hit play twice.

Sometimes we had to hit it three times.

Even as a little baby she seemed to love the music, Linda's voice, the soft and soothing rhythms. She never squirmed to get out of my arms. The only thing she ever fought was the sleep part.


Then there was the night when she was about 18 months old, when I was certain she had fallen asleep against my chest, after listening to "Good Night" for the second or third time.

Suddenly, I heard this tiny little voice singing along with the music.


As she got a little older, she was able to sing every word. So could I.

I sometimes wonder if this is, perhaps, the reason Lora Leigh loves music and singing so much. She has a beautiful little voice, a natural soprano, that is beautiful whether she is mimicking Hannah Montana or asking for something to eat. She has taken singing lessons and made her stage debut when she was 5.

But it has been a long, long time since I have been able to rock my baby to sleep.

She got very big, very quickly. Almost overnight, it seems. She no longer can fit in my lap. And, somewhere along the way, she decided it was no longer her favorite place to be.

And there is a stage -- complete with lights -- where the rocking chair used to be.

But listening to that CD, and all of those one-time favorite tunes, all the memories of those long, music-filled nights came flooding back to me -- but not to her.

I remembered those first days of staring into her face, not quite believing that she was really here and really mine.

I remembered the first smiles, the first sounds.

I remembered those first looks that told me that she knew I was her mom, no matter what Mother Nature said.

I remembered when her curls suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

I sure wish someone had told me that I would only be able to hold my daughter for about three years...

But I sure am grateful that I held her every single chance I got -- even if it meant hitting the "repeat" button more than once.





Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dragonflies



It was never my intention to memorialize my brother with a bug.

Oh, he definitely bugged me. I guess most big brothers do at some point or another.

He certainly liked to tease me, to take advantage of my youth and naivete.

He tried to convince me that root beer really did come from the roots of trees, that if a person ate an oyster and drank whiskey it would turn to a rock in his stomach, that if I swallowed the stuff the dentist uses to numb you BEFORE the shot, that you would die.

I nearly drowned in the dentist's chair when I was about 6 years old.

He did weird things. He drank vinegar straight out of the bottle. Tabasco sauce too. And pickle juice.

And when little bitty me fell in the bayou trying to match him in rock-throwing, he took his damned sweet time going to tell my mom. As I awaited rescue he warned me that the alligators and the water moccasins were coming for me. Then he laughed at me when they pulled me out of the mud.

That was my big brother.

Was.

On July 25, 2001, my big brother, Rhett Martin Lyons, left his home in Houma before the break of dawn for his job in Elmwood. After working a full day, he stopped for a beer with a couple of his buddies. Then he got in his car and headed for Grand Isle and the annual Tarpon Rodeo in the rain.

He did not buckle his seat belt.

It was the summer just before my husband, Marty, took over his baseball team, the summer just before my stepson Daniel was to become the starting quarterback. My big brother was excited. He was ready to become a Wildcat fan.

But when the fall season came along, there was an empty seat in the stands where he would have been.

And in the spring.

But although he was gone from our presence, Rhett was never far from our hearts. And as Marty's first season began, we all kind of felt like he had an angel in the outfield. We certainly called on him a lot, looked skyward a lot, prayed a lot. We even sent him balloons on senior day.

Maybe it was so. The 2002 Wildcats went 24-7, with quite a few improbable wins, and made it to the state tournament in New Iberia for the first time -- ever.

And it was at that tournament that I asked for a sign.

Being a first time nervous coach's wife at the biggest game of my husband's life so far, I was looking for one. In between rocking and feeding my then-toddler daughter, my stomach was churning and my palms were sweating for my husband. I was looking for some reassurance that things were going to go well for him.

"OK, Rhett," I said. Aloud. "I know you're here. Give me a sign that you're here."

"Make lightning strike... NO!!! That will hurt somebody."

"Send me a dragonfly."

Dragonflies are harmless little bugs. Don't bite. Rather pretty. Eat mosquitoes. Good bugs.

"Send me a dragonfly."

And no sooner had the thought formulated in my brain than a beautiful blue dragonfly landed on my leg.

My eyes immediately filled with tears, my stomach was immediately soothed and I was immediately reassured.

I caught my husband's eye in the dugout.

"He's here," I said. And he knew exactly what I meant.


The Wildcats didn't win that game, but our family was left with a legacy... and a mascot.


I now have quite a collection of dragonflies in and around my house -- mostly jewelry and garden decor. And friends and family are always on the lookout for more. The whole family has begun to collect them, in fact.

They remind us all of him.

My daughter used to say, "Look! It's Uncle Rhett!" whenever she would spot one.

The following summer Marty's players were trying to shoo one out of his dugout when he realized what they were doing.

"Hey! Stop that. That's my brother-in-law," he said.

Then he held out his hand. The whole team stood agape as the bug landed safely on his palm.

Maybe it is so.

I'm sure some question my equating a bug with a brother.

But I rather like to think of him free and flying, buzzing in and out of our lives, stopping for a while to see what we're up to then moving on to another spot. I certainly like to think of him still being with us.

And maybe it is so.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

There's a little Martha Stewart in all of us, don't you think???



Haunted gingerbread house ...





Creative cupcakes ...




Hand-painted Mother's Day umbrellas ...





Gingerbread Valentine's Day "Love Shack."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer

Haven't been posting much on the old Lyons' Din.... Not too much to roar about I guess.

I've actually had a pretty nice summer so far. Quite productive, even.

Of course, that could be because I've had LOTS of time off. More than usual. The paper kindly requested that the entire staff take two weeks off without pay this year. Furlough, they call it. And they asked so nicely, we could hardly refuse.

So I took the first two weeks that Lora Leigh was off from school. We swam. We stayed up too late. We couldn't sleep late because she had drama camp. We watched soap operas. We went to the movies. We rented movies. We had our annual backyard luau. Went to convention in Natchitoches. Went to the Insectarium in the French Quarter. Visited my mom at work and went next door to buy pralines. Bought her a a bicycle so she could ride with me, but haven't found the time to teach her how to ride it. Went to Houma to see Aunt Lou and Lena and Madison. Ate crabs. Grew a cyber farm. Squirmed in a waiting room while a doctor cut on my husband's face.

And we read.

One day she asked if I would take her to "Barnes to Nobles." I chuckled and said yes. She wanted the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. She has read the whole thing this summer.

I, meanwhile, fell into the whole Twilight thing... Started with the first one and quickly became obsessed. Fell madly in love with Edward (not so much Rob Pattinson, but EDWARD!). Then, about halfway through the fourth one, I got over it. She should have stopped after the first third of that one. Actually, my favorite one is the unfinished one on her web site. It's Twilight told from Edward's point of view. That was awesome.

Actually, I just enjoyed the reading part. I don't think I've finished a book since Lora Leigh was born. And I've read six in a month and a half....

I've also written one.... Yes, the rumors are true. Nudged by friends and pushed by cousin Bob in Kentucky, I have finally put together a manuscript. It's actually some of what you've read here -- the journal I kept while we were trying for a baby, then waiting for Elle then Lora Leigh. It has been an amazing process. Talk about becoming obsessed with a book!! I've written it, read it, re-read it, edited it, re-edited it, re-written it.... A few friends have read it for me and given me great feedback. Right now there is much hope and promise.

But even if nothing comes of it, I will have left a legacy of love for my little girl.

I hope someday she gets it....