Knock Knock Knoxville

aliste, we got the hat you made for Lydia. Thank you so much! It is adorable. I’ll take a photo of her in it tomorrow to show you.

We’re pretty settled into our new house in Knoxville. It’s a ranch style, which is much easier on Riley. (He can manage stairs just fine, but when he gets whiny he’ll insist on being carried up or down, and when we can’t do that we get the total meltdown. A lack of stairs neatly sidesteps the whole problem.) It’s got a garage, and more storage in general than our old house did. It’s pretty centrally located, but Knoxville is sprawled, so we’re still spending more time in the car than we did in Durham.

Plus ça change… Our days are much like they were in Durham just before we left: we’re at home a lot, just trying to get through the day. We’re getting a lot of support from Laura’s mom and stepdad, though, and I’m feeling the benefit of that. I have felt a little isolated sometimes, only knowing about seven people in town besides Laura and the kids. And since all of those people are Laura’s family, I’m always something of an adjunct, just by definition (not by any kind of unfriendliness or anything, it’s just how it is).

But today I met some neighbors and had a great time. This afternoon Riley and I went over to our neighbor Jeremy’s house so that I could jam with him on accordion. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, keyboards, and a few other things. He’s quite a character, extremely friendly and open-minded. I accompanied his guitar and singing with just some really basic legato chords, but it sounded pretty good with the mostly folky songs he played. It was so much fun! He wants to work up a setlist and get some gigs with me. It worked pretty well today, I’m very encouraged. I’ll be able to fill out the accordion part better once I know the songs, of course, so I’m really looking forward to practicing some more. Now to find the time — and the real trick will be finding some when the practicing won’t wake anybody up.

Gimme an X!

So we’re having another baby. And today we found out that it’s a girl! My parents have five grandsons already, so I imagine she’ll be something of a princess. :) I feel a little more overwhelmed than I think I would’ve been with another boy; I feel like I’ve got a lot more to learn this way. But I am thrilled at the thought of a daughter.

She’s due the first week of August. Riley came two weeks early, so we’ll see. She’s perfectly healthy, from all ultrasonic indications.

Her name is still very much up in the air. We didn’t give girls’ names much thought after we found out Riley was a boy. “Grace” is a strong candidate at the moment, but we’ll be mulling it over for a while. I remember we didn’t really decide Riley’s until he was a couple days old.

Riley went to the ultrasound with us. He got nervous in the darkened room, and seeing mommy lying on the examination table and inaccessible, he cried. So I walked him around the halls outside for most of it. I briefly got to see the heart beating, and then later the baby’s face in realtime 3D. Riley and I found a wagon sitting in a hallway corner, and that kept him pretty entertained while we were waiting. Laura’s mom came too, and we all went for brunch afterwards. Just the thing. :)

Happy Birthday to Riley!

They say that time is relative, and I believe it. In blatant defiance of my own temporal perception, Riley turned one year old today. I can’t believe he was ever that small, and yet it can’t have been more than a few weeks ago, can it?

I’m really enjoying being at home with him. I’m so glad I have the chance.

He’s doing great. I could say he’s walking, in that he does take some steps without support, but he’s not yet stable enough to walk everywhere he goes. It won’t be long though. His main problem is that his steps are too big.

He’s pretty vocal, and he likes communicating with us. He parrots us a lot without knowing what he’s saying, but he also clearly and consistently uses words to communicate. He recognizes even more words than he uses himself.

A beginner’s guide to Rilese.

My Grandma Betty died Wednesday morning. She’d had cancer, discovered at an advanced enough stage that she decided not to treat it at all. I really respect her for having the strength to make the decision. As much as I love her and wish I had more time with her, I know everyone is happier that she suffered as little as possible. And I’m not sure it would have given her much more time anyway.

I’d known for a few months. She’s always been reticent about health problems, preferring not to worry us. All along, she seemed as emotionally prepared for death as anyone could be. Knowing how she hated to worry her family, I wondered whether she was just putting on a brave face for us all. But when I spoke with her, and especially when I saw her in person, it was clear that she really was at peace with it. She was thankful for her life, and looking forward to heaven. She was always a strong person with strong faith.

I got to see her at Christmas, and I know it meant a lot to her to meet Riley, even though she was already basically confined to bed by that time. It was like a lot of visits in recent years: I felt like we never got into the real substance, we were just catching up on little daily details, and distracted by all the rest of the family. But this time it was probably just as well. I found it easier to keep from crying if I stuck to telling her about Riley and not focusing on the fact that it would, in all likelihood, be the last time I ever saw her.

If I can be called a nice person at all, I have Grandma to thank for teaching me by example. She never had an unkind word to say about anyone. She was always patient and supportive. I remember when I was little, she always treated me like a child in the good ways, like making me feel safe and loved, but she never patronized me or made me feel like my opinion was any less important than anyone else’s. I wish I could have her guidance through my own parenthood journey.

She spent her last days at home, surrounded by family, with hospice care managing the pain as best they could. The funeral is this afternoon, and here I am a thousand miles away. I feel pretty lousy about it, but there it is. Apparently everyone else in my family is there.

I’ve been giving myself a pretty good subconscious thrashing lately for not being a better grandson, and just feeling sad in general because home won’t ever be the same again. But I know that Grandma wanted us all to be happy. So I’m trying my best.