Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Special Day

Obviously, it was a different, special kind of day.

Not only was I up before she was, I let her have Krispy Kreme donuts in bed.

I took a personal day to spend our her fifth birthday together so that we go out for Tea at Pinkadilly

It is a delightful Tea Room in a quaint old, chilly cottage in the heart of historical downtown Fredericksburg.  I just read that it is rated the #1 tea room in Virginia and one of the top #100 in the country.  The warm fireplace and selection of hats to try on got us in the mood for the this delicacy of Mother Daughter experiences.

Some time birthdays don't always go as planned, but this one did.

I've noticed that Anna Cate is at a vertex between little girl and kid, between child and little lady.  Our luncheon was a way to take advantage of the little lady and play with the little girl.

She just walked in here and I asked her to help me put in words about the day.  "Thank you Mommy for taking me for tea.......  I liked the fancy tea cups....... I wish Nana and Grammy and your Grandmother could have been there."

We had tea, shared crumpets and spent precious leisurely time together.  I always knew I would LOVE my children; I've been blown away by how much I like her.

She tried the pink tea....after some sugar.

And decided it needed more sugar.

She had the "Little Miss" selection, which included some specialties like a tea pot shaped PB and J sandwich and a teapot lollipop.

After tea, we took advantage of being in downtown Fredericksburg to shop and visit friends.

And invited Baba and Owen to join us for dinner at Red Robin. (yes, we ate out all 3 meals)

Molly and Owen thought it was a date for them.

But Anna Cate knew this was an ending to a day about her.

As we were parting from dinner, Baba looked at Anna Cate and said the sweetest, most insightful thing.
Our dear friend Brenda, who has been there for this girl since night one
stood in a parking lot and said, "I'm looking at you and trying to remember what you look like at 5 years old."

I thought that was loving and wise.  I too want to remember who Anna Cate is at age 5.  Her thoughts are so pure and sincere yet silly and whimsical. She is determined yet considerate, quick-witted and sarcastic yet sweet and thoughtful.  I know she is my little girl, but her soul is not mine, it is her own. I want to remember her face, her expressions, her being. A tribute to who she is now honors the day she was born is the tip of love and wisdom I got from Brenda. (She has given me more than that.)

I want her face etched in my memory and the  essentials of her unaltered personality imprinted on my heart. I am focusing on

Her thoughtful look:
Her silliness: 
Her confidence:
Her pensive desire to notice the world around:
 Her unwavering attempt to understand the way things work, to get it right:
to be a part of the conversation:

To drink up life:

I want to recollect her sass and her eyes that open wide and flicker a knowing snicker:

I want to remember this smile, this child, this little girl.

Celebrating Anna Cate's birthday, the day I became a mother altering the course of my mind and heart forever,  was indeed a special day.

Tea for Three
Come and site with me and we'll have tea
And talk of things that were and things that are to be
Of places we will go and things that we will see
Just the two of us
My dear daughter and me

A little wooden table
With chairs for two, not three
Yes, of course you may bring your bear
And place him on my knee.
No longer just the two of us
It's tea for three, I see
My dear daughter, the bedraggled bear and me

The years passed by and you grew up
Framed in memory, I still see
Cherub hands dimpled daintily, clutching ivory cup of tea
Twinkle laughter owns the moment
Baby faced & full of glee
Starshine dusted by the angels
Oh, God's precious gift to me!

If I live to be a hundred
I shall never richer be
Then when I shared your dazzling presence
And together we sipped tea.
My dear Daughter, the bedraggled bear, and Me!

Lee Scott, c. 1998

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Since we wanted to make sure Nana (and Daddy Doug) could come to both the girl's birthday parties, we had Anna Cate's celebration 10 days early.  Having two parties two weeks apart was well worth it to have my parents there!  Anna Cate was dead set on it being a bowling party and including many friends, both adults and kids. The girl knows how to make friends and we are so lucky to have such sweet boys and girls in her life to celebrate with us.

We had the party at Splitsville, whose colors are red and black so I went with that theme and had fun adding in some hints of lady bugs for my little lady.

(If you are looking at her Monogram wondering how that is, Anna Cate is short for Susanna Catherine)
Party hat by RJMboutique
Cupcake toppers design by Cutie Patootie Creations
Banner by The Tom Kat Studio
This gorgeous cake is made by my beautiful and talented friend Chas at Mommy Bakes.
Molly and Anna Cate's outfits are made by Liz Spears, a sweet and talented lady from Centerville.

We "crafted" picture frames for the favors and will send out pictures for our friends to remember the day. BJ spray painted them all and with the help of ribbon, a glue gun some buttons, lady bugs and felt bowling pins and balls, and a glass of wine while Anna Cate was home in Tennessee, I spent my evenings pretending I was a crafty Mom.

I could tell a sweet, cute story about every kid there and a connection I feel to every adult, or express my aghast for those five candles on that cake.

I think about the precious Maeve Haun walking around high fiving everyone for getting strike or how the kids from Miss Diana's seemed to have really missed Anna Cate when she was home in Tennessee.  I can think about how BJ ran around crazy to make sure every kid got a slot because there were 22 kids there.  Or how the dear Jeannine Wampler brought these sweet little girls Naima and Regina who were born in Refugee Camps in Africa and have the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen. When I told Naima a few weeks ago at church she was going to come bowling for Anna Cate's birthday party, she gave me a huge hug and said she was so excited. When I said, "do you know what bowling is?" she said, "No." Or our friends the Silvers brought Yahahawa who Anna Cate has known since nursery at church and I don't even know if he was born in a camp or not, but I do know the kid had a major pouty face before lunch and was the happiest kid on the planet afterwards when his smile lit up his lane.

I'm sitting her wondering, "what is the story here?"  I just said to BJ, what is the story about Anna Cate's party? He noticed about what a social butterfly she is, how she really spent time with everyone without prompting and her inclusive nature makes us proud.

The endearing memories for me will be of her and these friends, our friends and family who are sharing this experience with us....this journey of raising children in general and helping us love and celebrate Anna Cate in particular. Knowing that we made the effort to move the party date up and that they made the trip to here signifies the insignificance of miles in this bond as family.

Molly Mae doesn't let anyone rock her, but snuggled right up to Daddy their first night here. So Daddy, even though the bowling party was a little chaotic, and you didn't get to bowl, maybe this made the trip worthwhile?!?!
At the heart of it for me as I remember this day is that this child is happy.

(Look at Molly clapping)

Believe me, I am not that parent that thinks happiness is the most important thing we give our kids (that job is left up to my mom and husband), but damn it is nice to stop and let that be the focus some times. Maybe that is why I like birthday parties so much. I indulge myself by indulging her for these happy times.

The truth is, we don't always know what our story is, when the defining moments are, when it ends or how it is going to be told.  I hope Anna Cate's 5th birthday party won't be a blur for me or her in the future. But if it is,  the elements in this story are the elements of her life and of her story so far -- of friends, family and fun...a little bit of chaos!

As if the events of the day weren't exciting enough, she had her first loose tooth and when eating an apple, it popped out, lacing the glittered path for the tooth fairy.

So the parties are over, and I'm left thinking about how much I love this month, the girls it gave me, what a daunting task it is to raise them and what a joy it is to celebrate them. Our story unfolds and I enjoy the parties and she rejoices as much in the tooth and $1 left on the pillow. So it seems we celebrate the big and the small things, but to a child you don't know which is which and that sentiment wins my acclaim.

"Your life, right now, today, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is. 
You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering. "

 Shauna Niequist (Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Tennessee visit

After Molly's brithday party celebrations, Anna Cate flew home with her Nana for a trip to Centerville all by herself. It was her birthday present.

I want to add these scenes to our blog, but I don't really have a lot to say because it isn't really my experience to share. It is theirs. I can pontificate on the fact that this extensions of my self in this trans-generational relationship gives me a sense of roots and wings. Or, I can relay that it warms my heart to see them cherish each other, but I don't truly know about the relationship because in fact, my relationship with my parents is different than Anna Cate's and my relationship with Anna Cate is a totally different breed of parenting than grandparenting. So I'll just show you the scenes I snagged from Mom's camera card. Hopefully it will warm your heart, too.

Daddy told me that almost everything Anna Cate says is hilarious, and that her precious spin on events and one liners are quotable, becoming part of our family lexicon. Maybe a later post will be some of Anna Cate-isms. I certainly collect them.

A bit about the visit:

 They went to Vanderbilt baseball games.  There is no more devoted (read INSANELY deranged) sports fan of their alma mater than my dear ole Dad to the Commodores.  Anna Cate enjoyed seeing their wins, and got to witness a grand slam. She also met a guy who might just rival Justin Bieber in her 4 year old version of a crush.

They went to church  twice. (both the ones my parents attend, which is a little country church that Anna Cate said upon her first visit there, "this is your church? It is so small. Mine is big;" and the one I grew up in where my brother's family go)

She attended Daddy Doug's Lady's dinner.  About twenty years ago, Daddy started hosting a luncheon for all the women in his life (female lawyers, court reporters, clerks at the surrounding county clerk's offices, secretaries, any person he thinks is charming, etc.) He always has a speaker. It has been my grandmother and myself among other ladies, but this year my brother gave the speech. I haven't heard it yet, but I'm sure it was inspiring. Anna Cate told me it was about our Aunt Betty, whom his daughter is named for. Mom filled in the details that it was about her and Doris Waitt, the ladies for whom Kitty's middle names are given.  

(tell me that is not the sweetest thing!?!  In making a photo album for Anna Cate's birthday party, I perused photos from the last five years and I was struck by how many scenes I saw of my brother paying attention to Anna Cate. Thank you from the depths of my soul, Douglas, for taking an interest in hers.) 

They had tea parties and play dates. 

They  seemed to thoroughly enjoy each other's company. Thankfully, my parents told me on skype that her behavior was impeccable, but I have a suspicion that it was more the lack of rules rather than her following them.   An example:

When I saw this I said to Mom, "didn't water get everywhere?" She said, "yes, but it was ok. I just mopped it up."
 We skyped a few times, but I think it is safe to say that Anna Cate missed me only as a perfunctory rite of passage since she is quite comfortable both around my parents and making new but soon familiar friends.   

On their way back to Virginia, they enjoyed a visit with Aunt and Glenn.

And a trip to the drive through Safari park. If you live in driving distance of southwest Virginia, you have to go with your kids. It is SO. MUCH. FUN!!  

As we parted each other Sunday here in our driveway, I said to my parents, "thanks so much for taking her home and introducing her to so many people." (What I meant was, thank you for help socializing her). Daddy said, "we didn't introduce her to a sole...she introduced herself and won people's hearts everywhere."

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.  ~Welsh Proverb

(Anna Cate's 5th birthday was Saturday the 19th and that post will come soon. I may resolve to take March off from blogging since I'm so busy planning and celebrating, I'm left with little time to reflect and chronicle my thoughts on such.)