Friday, May 27, 2016

A Day in the Life of Aiden Seyfried

May 27, 2014 I am born!

5:30 AM Wake up time!!! I'm grouchy as all get out but I need to MOVE! C'mon, poor pregnant Mom, up and at 'em!!!

6:00 AM We're off to the races!! Typical morning routine: I express a desire for breakfast. Nana whips up a bowl of "tasty" yogurt and blueberries. Two bites and I am ready to get DOWN from Nana's lap and UP on Pa's lap for...

6:30 AM Breakfast Take #2: eggs!! Sometimes I hate these yellow things! Today I love them! It's called keeping them on their toes!

7:00 AM Playtime!! I rotate between throwing and catching a ball (remarkably well), and my electronic English/ Chinese "Cognition Books" (20 or so buttons to push with images on them. Two options to hear them in the two languages.) I am a superstar!!!

8:00 AM Get dressed! I don't need a fresh diaper! I am happy being wringing wet!! AND I want to continue to wear my pajama bottoms as a fashion statement. Shoes? No way!! Let's head out into the yard in bare piggies!

9:00 AM A saintly parent pushes me in my stroller to the train station. Trains are my reason for living!!! I am at Oreland Station so often that the conductors wave to me! Already plotting for the day I get my Eurailpass and bust out of here!! Toot toot!!

10:00 AM Time for TV! You can keep your Real Housewives of NYC, I've got my Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends! If the weather is too icky to be outside, I will hang in for an episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood but honestly feel that the total innocence and lack of ironic undertone is a little "young" for me.

11:00 AM Snack time! I will either a) eat 10,000 grapes and an entire box of goldfish or b) skip the whole thing. What will I do today? I'm not telling!!

11:30 AM Throw a ball to/at Nana, and laugh hysterically as she pretends to be wounded. Nana is also good for blowing bubbles (my other current obsession). She doesn't mind if I throw the ball onto the piano keys because it is SO FUN to hear the sound it makes. She will leave it to my Mom and Dad to undo the damage when I am in third grade and still hurling balls at Steinways.

12:00 Getting tired now. Should be ready for a nap. Operative word is "should." I would rather scream and fuss awhile first. Clears the lungs!!

12:30 OK, OK I surrender!!! But before I retire to my crib I require: a drink of water, my blue blanket from Aunt C, Mom's blanket so I can smell her, my 50,000 stuffed friends, a selection of my favorite board books, and one of my little trains (of course). Off to Slumberland!!

2:30 Waaah!!! Lest you forget, there's a baby in the house!! I awaken in a foul mood, allowing only Mama to hold me until I really come to. Eventually I realize that I am STARVING. Mama juggles me in her arms as she heats up my noodles, meat and vegetables. Don't put me down, Ma!!

3:00 Let's go to the park! Raining? Freezing? Broiling hot? No matter!! I need my exercise! Let's climb and slide and swing and run around flinging wood chips!!

4:00 Home again and I'm on the alert for: Airplanes up in the sky! School buses in front of the house! Trucks and cars rumbling and roaring through the neighborhood! Glad I am on duty to keep East Oreland safe!

5:00 Baba (Daddy) is home!!!!! My joy is complete! He lets me jump on him and he swings me upside down and backwards!! Baba and I build "da bridge" out of Brios for my trains, and it takes a satisfyingly long time. Dinner is being prepared, but at this point I am only interested in...cookies and ice cream!!! It is my daily challenge to "sweet "talk one of my grownups into giving me dessert before supper--and I usually win!!

6:00 Starting to wind down, but I will never surrender!!! I may be lying on the floor pushing a toy car back and forth for fifteen minutes, but I am ever ready to snap into action! I' m awake! I'm awake!

6:30 Dinner! I get a kick out of holding hands with everybody and saying grace, even though I have no clue what they are saying. Whatever is on the menu, I am interested for precisely three minutes or three bites, whichever comes first! Then down from the high chair I go!!

7:00 Lala time!! There's a Chinese song calling baths "lalas" so that's good enough for me! I splash splash for at least a half hour, and most enjoy standing up and throwing bath toys around because that's just how I roll! Lalas forever!!

7:30 This is where I shine--stalling!! If Baba or Mama is practicing an instrument, I am all ears and adorable reactions. If Pa is watching the baseball on TV, by gum so am I! Anything but the dreaded C-R-I-B!

8:00 Maybe the crib isn't so bad after all. I am WIPED OUT. But I will not go gentle into that good night without  two drinks of water,  my blue blanket from Aunt C, Mama's blanket so I can smell her, 50,000 stuffed friends, a different selection of board books, all of which include a "good night" theme (not that I pay them any heed) and my "yaats." "Yaats" means lights and they are some of my very favorite things. I need a yaats or two before I can settle down. Maybe three. Who cares? Am I paying the electric bill? I didn't think so!

8:30ish I call it a night. At least, that is my grownups' wish. They want a few minutes to unwind without chasing me all over creation. I don't want to spoil them, so I often keep the party going for an hour or more, until they are slumped, snoring, in front of my crib. Victory is mine!

Sleep quick, my grownups!! The whole things starts again in just a few hours!!

Seriously, though, today is my Aiden's second birthday. I cannot imagine life without him, and adore him in ALL his many moods. God bless you, my little darling, today and always!

Second birthday shades!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I graduated from high school the day Steve gave me my engagement ring, in June 1974. The memory of sporting my sparkly diamond totally eclipses walking across the stage at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. I would tell you that I have fonder memories of college commencement but—shoot! I forgot to finish college! They say it’s never too late, but in my case I strongly suspect it is. Sometimes I feel a little sad that I don’t have a degree from an Institute of Higher Learning hanging on my office wall, but then I look at photos of my children (and now grandbaby) and realize I don’t have a single regret.

I revel in my kids’ graduations, though. From the tiny Curtis Institute of Music, to the much vaster
Evan's Graduation Day USNA
Naval Academy and Millersville University, these were red letter days to me. I totally understood why Rose, who finished Berklee College of Music a semester early, did not want to return to Boston for a cap and gown ceremony (but I admit I was a little bummed). Julie is halfway through St. Francis College, and I am already eyeing “Congrats, Grad!” banners and napkins to fete her.

We have one graduate degree in the family, and one soon to come. Sher received his M.A .from Manhattan School of Music, in a ceremony that I remember because a) it took place in a beautiful church on Riverside Drive and b) the commencement speaker was actress Angela Lansbury. Lord willing, Evan will complete his Master’s in July from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

And I look ahead to a future where my little Aiden graduates from elementary, middle, high school and beyond…not to mention the future academic careers of my grandchildren-to-be.

Life just doesn’t give us all that many public punctuation marks. Other than graduations and weddings,
Sheridan and Ya-Jhu's Wedding Day
our years tend to pass unmarked by the world at large. And it’s a shame, because there are so many other milestones that deserve a hurrah. How about the first time your firstborn slept through the night? How about the day you paid off your house (for us, the impossible dream, but still)? No one seems to stay in a job long enough for a gold watch, so retirements after decades with one firm are becoming rare, but still awesome if they occur.

As for birthdays, your immediate circle will note (perhaps) your 30th birthday, your 50th. Otherwise, you need to be in the Guinness Book of World Records to rate a headline (my hope for myself: World’s Oldest Woman Dies at the Roulette Table in Vegas, Smoking a Pipe and Chugging Straight Bourbon!)

So I challenge you today to think…what are you graduating from this year? An old, outdated mindset? What are you retiring from? Too many years of worrying? What are you marrying? A new commitment to the people in your life (friends, and friends you haven’t met yet)?

The milestones are yours to claim, and celebrate. So go forth! I salute you!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Walking Fish

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “like a fish out of water” to describe someone out of their environment, out of their comfort zone, out of their depth. Well, that was Steve and me these past 12 days in Spain and France—two fish, definitely out of water. We (let’s be honest—I) approached this whole adventure with much trepidation. We tried to pack clothes that would make us appear more like locals (albeit locals who stash their cash in hidden bags and belts) than tourists. We speak one language, with small, not particularly helpful, smatterings of a few others. We are unused to long international flights, foreign metro systems (Lansdale-Doylestown line is about our speed), and the ubiquitous euro.

Evan's very narrow street in Barcelona
What we don’t know about being cosmopolitan Europeans could fill a book (and did—I kept a journal). We got turned around (MANY times) on Barcelona’s narrow, winding streets, as well as Paris’ wide boulevards, despite guidebooks, maps and iPhone apps. We tipped when we didn’t need to (it’s usually included in the bill) and didn’t when we probably should have. We ordered CafĂ© Americano every morning expecting—well, American coffee, and instead got teensy cups of watered down espresso (I took to ordering two cups at a time just for me, and still felt under-caffeinated). There were moments, as we hopped on the metro going in the opposite direction from our intended destination, when I wondered just why we thought we could handle a trip like this.
Entrance to Paris Metro

But as the days went on, we began to feel comfortable. Evan’s presence in Barcelona helped hugely—not only did he have a great place for us to stay, but he was really knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of transportation, the must-see sights, the best tapas bars. The other huge help (and this was true in Paris as well): the warmth and kindness of the people (yes, even the Parisians!) No one laughed at our pronunciation of “gracias” or “s’il vous plait.” We were served fabulous food and drink with genuine smiles; patient passersby gave us directions to this museum or that cathedral. Though we’d been warned about pickpockets, we emerged with all possessions intact (and frankly never saw any suspicious behavior). While the street signs were sometimes missing or hard to see (not unlike, ahem, Philadelphia), I have to say both cities were pretty darned user-friendly—or maybe we just became better “users” over time.

I recently read about a species of fish that live in Thailand known as walking fish, who have developed the

The Walking Fish
ability to spend large amounts of time on land (they can even climb rocks!) They have somehow biologically adapted, to allow them to survive and thrive. So maybe, just maybe, Steve and I might have been “walking fish” as well: out of water, perhaps, but learning to successfully navigate a completely different—and wonderful— environment. Climbing to new heights of experience and understanding. Thankful for this chance to see another part of our amazing world.