Monday, May 28, 2012

Memories of Memorial Day...

Last year we played a game where we all had to answer, "What is our favorite thing that we do as a family?" My answer was our Memorial Day trip to McConnelsville. Then, this year, we had to go and mix it up-because when New Concord has a parade, I have to go to it. But the main gist was still the same.

Ordinarily, we leave on Monday morning and rush to get to the McConnelsville Memorial Day parade by 10. This always involves Nick and me getting into a fight. We are always late, but because the parade starts in Malta and makes its way toward McConnelsville, we have never missed seeing it. It's a very simple, small town parade, with gun salutes at different memorials along the way.

Then we pile back into the car and head out to Chesterhill, which is accompanied by a lot of moaning and groaning about how long it takes to get there. I, however, know that it's a pretty long trip and just have learned to live with it. I love looking at the beautiful scenery out the window, especially the cute little church at Todds. (A couple of years ago Nick and I went on a garden tour of Morgan County and it was one of the stops and it is just as darling inside as it is on the outside).

At Chesterhill, we always miss the turn and yell at each other yet again about how you would think that by now we would remember where to turn. Then we find it and pull right into the cemetary next to Nick's grandma's grave. The girls leave her pictures that they have drawn. Nick leaves irises from our backyard (not this year though, they bloomed a couple of weeks early due to this wacky weather). Nick's grandma died in June of 2002, just a few months before our wedding. However, I feel extremely blessed that she had made an afghan for me the Christmas before-she made afghans for everyone who entered Nick's family, either by birth or by marriage. I was the last person to receieve an afghan from her. I treasure knowing that she already believed me to be a part of her family.

Then we head back to McConnelsville and eat lunch at the Blue Bell Diner. This year the place was so packed we had to sit at the counter, a new experience for the girls.

Then on our way home we stop at the cemetary just past Rix Mills and visit with my grandparents. Again, the girls leave pictures. Again, we usually leave irises. We walk around and see my great-grandparents and most of my grandma's family. Some neighbors and friends. Always my favorite grave, which has a lamb on top of it.

The past two years, we have been blessed as a family to have been asked to place the flags on the graves for Memorial Day weekend at this cemetary. It is an honor and a privilege to walk around, finding the veterans in such an old cemetary.

This year, we had to change this all around. New Concord decided to have a parade, and since that is where we actually live, it took precedence. So we went to McConnelsville on Sunday. That was a nice change of pace, because we weren't hurrying to get there. So we stopped at the Big Muskie (which is such a lovely area, we always try to take a picnic there once a summer). We took our time. As always, we listened to our Living History CD in the car (it tells the story of Paul Revere, winter at Valley Forge, Molly Pitcher, and Nathan Hale). That takes us all the way to Chesterhill. (We listened to Annette Funicello on the way home-I love that my kids love my Annette.) Then we went to the Blue Bell.

Today we went to the Veterans Memorial in New Concord. I have to force Nick to do these things, but I am proud of his service. Then they had a Decoration Day parade for the kids. And it ended with a picnic in front of Stormont.

It was a lovely parade and they had all kinds of food and games for the kids. The John Glenn High School band played. But, unfortunately, it wasn't very well attended. I worry about this-I love NCAARD and all of the events that go on in New Concord and I hate that not many people seem to come to them. NCAARD is such an asset to our community.

But the girls had a great time. The only bad part of the day was the heat, which was stiffling. How hot will it be on the 4th of July?

Anyway, tomorrow when we go to take down the flags, we will take my grandparents their pictures. It is good for me to be forced to draw it out, otherwise I get really caught up in, "We have to do everything all in this one day." It was nice to spread it out, and it did away with our fighting (except, of course, for missing the turn in Chesterhill).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

MOPs and me

MOPs kind of saved my life. So I thought that I should tell you about it.

MOPs came into my life when I was a harried, overtired, overwhelmed mess of a first time mother. I had a baby of my own, and I was also full time keeping my niece Mallory, who is 3 months younger than Betsy. (This was back in the days before they were walking, talking, etc. and those 3 months mattered.) I literally spent every day in the house with the two of them. Other than going on a walk every day, I didn't leave the house.

Two things happened:

1) I started taking them to baby storytime, which was a nice diversion and of course I always love going to the library

2) I was invited to MOPs.

MOPs, for those of you who don't know, stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. It is a haven for such mothers. I walked in that first day (carrying both girls, so my arms were aching) and very nice women took them and watched them for 2 hours while I had some homemade food and listened to an interesting speaker and basically rediscovered my brain.

And so it goes. That was 7 years ago. And I still attend MOPs on a biweekly basis, and intend to do so for two more years. This year I actually attended MOPs in two places-in Zanesville, where I've been going for all these seven years, and in New Concord, where I actually live. The New Concord group is relatively new, only 3 years old I believe. But it is a terrific group and the one that I intend to make my permanent home for the next two years.

So, anyway, I want to encourage any and all moms who stumble upon my page to find a MOPs group. They are plentiful and many meet at night if that is an issue for you. Both of mine meet in the day, which I love and need as a stay at home mom. I have heard many wonderful speakers on an array of topics, but mostly its just nice to sit with a group of moms and talk about our lives. I've gone from being the youngest mom in the group, with tons of questions, to being the old pro who answers all of the questions.

When Betsy was a baby I read, "These are the longest days and shortest years of your life." How true that is! There are days that drag on and on, and then I turn around and somehow my babies are seven and four years old! And I ache to hold them close to my heart again. I'm that person now who says to the new moms, just hold them all that you can. Enjoy them. Forget about doing everything perfectly.

I try to take my own advice. I'm a lot better than I used to be.

I can't say enough good about MOPs. It has helped my girls to transition to preschool, to understand that they can be away from my side for a while. It has helped my to become the mother than I should be, the wife I should be. It saved my life...really.