Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Farewell to 2011 -- The Year in Pictures (and blog posts)

 
January
Lora Leigh turns 10 with a Harry Potter Palooza Party!


February
(She was over it by fall.)

March

April,

May


June
I am the president of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
I hand out plaques to Louisiana's sports legends, and get to meet one of my all time biggest crushes.

July
We mourn the loss of my brother. Has it really been 10 years? Already?

August
I am the mom of a FIFTH GRADER! How did that happen??

 September
October
Newspaper journalist/passenger on the Titanic. Same difference.

November

December

Here's to 2012.
Happy New Year







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Wordless Wednesday -- No words


Parker Anniston Luquet
December 22, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Parker



I'll admit it. I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of becoming a grandmother.

I don't know that any woman with any sense of vanity is, really. Me? A gray-haired old Granny? Hell no.

But then we start imagining all the fun we can have, all the cute clothes we can buy, all those sweet baby kisses and hugs, all the sugar-coated sticky-fingered outings we can go on, followed by quick dropoffs back to their parents (followed in turn by a long, long nap) and we get excited.

A grandparent. OK. I can handle that. Just don't call me "Granny." That was my Granny's name. That's my sister's name.

That's where I am.

Was.

My stepson, who became "my" kid when he was 9 years old,   and his wife whom we've known forever , announced back in the spring that we were going to be grandparents. My husband was thrilled that he was going to be a grandfather. I was going to be a step-grandmother.

No, a Lolo -- which is what I already am to my stepchildren, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews and even one of my bosses. Lolo.

But we couldn't tell anyone.

As hard as it was for this reporter and social media specialist to do, I dutifully kept their secret from everyone except my closest family members. And my best friend. And my nail technician.

As hard as it was for the other grandparents -- my husband, his ex-wife and our very good friends the in-laws --  they too kept the secret, even long after it is traditionally necessary.

It was a very quiet pregnancy, which was fine by this not-ready-to-be-a-Granny. But there was a date circled on the calendar.

Then "it" became a "she."

Then "she" became Parker.

And that's about when those ideas about cute baby outfits and fun trips to the zoo and Sunday afternoons in my swimming pool began to form. And saying, "I'm about to be a grandmother," became a little easier. Every time.

And then came November, and a Sunday afternoon shower, for which I dug out some of my own baby girl's special things -- the first blanket I fell in love with and bought for my "possibility" of a child when we were waiting to adopt, and one of her favorite books after she finally came.

And then I ordered some cute little sports-themed onesies for this granddaughter-to-be of a high school baseball coach and daughter-to-be of a high school football coach, and a die-hard LSU and Saints fan. And a football-themed baby bunting.

Oh, I wasn't the only one. One of the other grandmothers coincidentally bought the same outfit, with shoes to match!

And then came December and Christmas shopping. And a beautiful Cinderella carriage piggy bank I just HAD to have, and a personalized Christmas ornament with "Parker" etched on the front. All beautifully wrapped under my tree for the few remaining days until Christmas and then her December 28th due date.

And, honestly, I couldn't wait to see Daniel become a dad. I had seen him be such a great big brother to his baby sister. He was 17 when she was born and the big galoot came in every afternoon after school to scoop her up and toss her around. She adored him, and he her.

"He's going to be a great dad," I said.

And then came the phone call.

My stepson, in hysterics, telling his father something was wrong. They couldn't find a heartbeat. They were on the way to the hospital. Come.

Then my husband peeling out of the driveway.

I stayed home with my 10-year-old daughter, the aunt-to-be, who had spent the last weekend with her brother and sister-in-law while we went out of town for a romantic anniversary weekend.  Who had hoped all weekend, to feel the baby kick, but never got to.

I waited for her to get out of the shower, to tell her we had to go to the hospital for Bubby. But when she got all excited, I had to sit her down and tell her what was really happening. She didn't want to go. I didn't want to make her.

So we stayed home, and waited for news, while the rest of the family gathered in the waiting room, waiting for the inevitable.

Parker Anniston Luquet was born December 22, 2011 at 11:22 a.m., perfect in every way except that she never got to take a breath. The very cord that gave her life for the last eight months took it from her sometime in the final days.

Her parents and grandparents and aunts got to see her, to hold her, to tell her how much they loved her. They shed a million tears over her.

I, the step-grandmother,  did not. I had to tend to my own baby girl, who wanted to know if there still would be a Christmas this year, and what would we do with her presents? We baked cookies with her friends. Then I hid in the kitchen and sobbed.

Yes, this was my stepson's child. My step-daughter-in-law's child. My husband's grandchild. And also mine.

Our stepchildren are just our children. There is no such thing as step-grief. Or step-pain. It all hurts just the same.

Believe me. I know.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift ideas for teachers. And their wives.

As the clock ticks down on the remaining shopping days until Christmas -- 11 as of this second.
 
(Wait! Really? That's it? Holy crap! I haven't even started yet!)

My Internet feed is filling fast with articles from mainstream news makers and burgeoning bloggers alike, who are all offering shopping tips for every person on your list.

Even my mother.

Today I came across this one, offering fabulous ideas on what to buy that oh-so-hard-to-buy-for-teacher-you-love, or even the one you don't love so much. The article claims to have polled several actual, real life teachers, who were only too happy to offer their favorite Christmas gifts from students (and their parents).

As the wife of a teacher, the stepmother and step-mother-in-law of another, the aunt of another, the aunt-in-law of yet another, the wife of the ex-husband of another ... (go ahead... I'll wait)...
And the friend (on Facebook anyway) of countless more, I think I'm more than qualified to take a shot at this one.

I know what teachers like. Better yet, I know what teachers' spouses like:

1. Food. We aren't particularly picky either. Chocolate is best, of course (says Mama), but any kind of food is good. Candy, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, delicious homemade concoctions cooked in your kitchen, or even Whitman's Samplers from CVS. It's all good. Even fresh fruit is nice. Satsumas you've grown in your backyard? We'll take 'em. We are the parents of a fast-growing tween/eating machine. She's hungry ALL THE TIME. And our schedules are pretty crazy, especially around the holidays. Neither one of us really has time to get to the grocery store. So anything to help stock the pantry is appreciated.




2. Restaurant gift cards. I'm not a bad cook. In fact, I'm pretty good. But when The Coach starts the coaching part of the year, there isn't very much time for family meals around the dining room table. And there's not much point in cooking for me and a tween who only likes macaroni and cheese.
Plus, our dining room table is usually covered with baseballs all spring and summer anyways.  And when The Coach and I do get to spend a little time together, we don't usually head for the kitchen. We do tend to eat out quite a lot. And we tend to be creatures of habit. We go to The Pub. A lot. So a nice little gift card to one of the major chains is always appreciated. By the wife, anyway.




3. Ornaments. Believe it or not, the teacher's wife who gets up on the ladder and decorates the tree every year (while the coach watches) really does appreciate the occasional hand-picked or even hand-made Christmas ornament. I'm one of those ladies who believes you can never have enough ornaments on a tree. And every year when I gently take each one out of the box (if it survives The Coach's packing of the box, that is), I will look upon it fondly as having coming from "that student."



4. Apples. Now I know that most of my teacher friends are going to cringe right now because most teachers I know already have more apple-shaped baubles than they know what to do with. And most teachers I know don't really appreciate them. But we happen to live on Apple Street. And, because of that, I have a fairly large collection of apple knick knacks and brick-a-brack. We eat on apple dishes. On apple place mats. In a dining room decorated with apples. So don't listen to him. There's always room for more, I say.



5. But the best gift you can give my husband is Thanks. You may not realize it, but the man I love burns the candle at both ends to be the best teacher, Coach, father, husband, son and son-in-law he can be.

He is up before dawn every day to get himself psyched and ready for his brutal schedule. And it is brutal.

Before my alarm clock even goes off, he's in his classroom helping special education students find their way, and troubled kids stay out of trouble, and other teachers teach them.

And just when I'm starting to watch the clock, counting the final hours till the end of my work day, he's heading off to the baseball field, where he'll spend several more hours trying to turn a bunch of hormonal teenagers into a winning team.

On practice days he'll spend hours teaching them to hit and catch and throw and pick runners off of first and third. And hit the cutoff man.

On game days, he'll get on a cramped, un-air conditioned school bus with no shocks and head off to some middle-of-nowhere town. He'll spend the next three hours taking what the umpire gives him. And if they lose, he'll take the blame.

And when that's over, there's field-prep and maintenance. Often he stays there, though, hitting that struggling kid a few extra ground balls, or a few extra swings, and sometimes explaining to his mom and a dad why the other boy is playing more than their son.

Meanwhile, his own child is at home without him, trying to do her math homework and wondering when he'll come home and what kind of mood he'll be in. Sometimes he'll even get home before she goes to bed. And maybe he'll even get to eat a little something before he crashes on the sofa or in his chair, utterly exhausted. And somewhere in there he has to call his mother.

Then he'll  get up the next morning and do it all again.

"Thanks." That's the greatest gift you can give him. And one I'll let him have all to himself.




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dear Santa

I don't know if she still believes.

Just a few weeks ago, in our "cuddle" time before bed, she did ask.

"Mom," she said, very serious. "I need you to tell me the truth. There is a web site that says that our parents are really Santa."

So, I told her the truth: "If you don't believe, he doesn't come."

She took that in.

But whether she still believes or not -- or whether she's just humoring her old mom trying to keep her baby from growing up too fast --  she is a pretty amazing kid.

And a pretty damned good writer.




Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Signing

My first book signed.

The awesome cake from a friend.








That's pretty much all the photos. My photographer (she's 10) got very distracted.

Fruition

The day is here at last.

All those years ago, back  when the dream of turning a simple little journal snippet into a published work was, well, just a dream, I dreamed of this day.

I couldn't help but imagine the day I would sit at a small table, with a small stack of books by my side, and a long line of well-wishers snaking towards the door. Folks from far and wide would be there, family and friends and strangers alike, clamoring for my signature on one of my books. There would even be folks camped outside, waiting to be the first in line (they promised!)

OK. None of that probably will happen.

But today, December 10, 2011, I am having a book signing. My first. I will sit at a small table with a small stack of books at my side and I will sign my name in my books for friends, family and even strangers who make their way to Destrehan High School (because, unfortunately, there isn't a book store within 50 miles of here). 

And it will be one of the most memorable days of my life -- like my wedding day, and the day that wonderful creature was born and placed in my arms.

I am proud. I accomplished something I've always wanted to do. And I persevered through a long period of silence and doubt.

Today, there is a book in this world, with a real ISBN number, with my name on it. Heck, my picture is even on it! And, from what my readers are telling me, it's pretty good.

Holy cow! I am on Amazon.com!

And, hopefully soon, I'll be in a Barnes and Noble somewhere.

So, forgive me if I take today. For me. To pat my little self on the back. It's a big day.

One of my longtime coach friends just messaged me to "remember to smell the roses." I plan to savor every second.











Saturday, December 3, 2011

Our family

Couldn't think of a clever idea for our Christmas card this year. So I asked Lora Leigh, my 10-year-old daughter who has just this year decided that art is her thing, and who absolutely loves The Animated Woman, to draw it for me. And she did.

I think she's from Mars...


Merry Christmas! From our family to yours!