Category Archives: family

Sister, Sister, Brother, Sister

One of the things I enjoy most about Thanksgiving is seeing my sisters and my brother. This year, I saw all my siblings, but at different times. After we eat a large Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law’s house, we have started the tradition of going bowling. My brother joins us for a few games. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of us bowling.

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My youngest sister spent Thanksgiving with her husband’s family, and then she came up to see us. We went out to eat BBQ at a place called Smokey Bones.

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My sister from California stayed at my house for the whole week! Today we took a long walk, and we also took some selfies.

A couple of years ago, we took this picture in the forest preserve. It’s still one of my favorites!

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; a Parent Review

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Yes, we went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, even though it is rated PG-13. Ed and I don’t let Lily and Emmy watch PG-13 rated movies, but we made an exception with Star Wars last Christmas, and made another exception this weekend (perhaps because I really wanted to see this movie myself). What did I think? Well, it’s a mixed bag.

First of all, I didn’t realize that this movie isn’t adapted from a book. J.K. Rowling wrote the 41 page Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them for a charity, and it is a “textbook” that Harry Potter used at Hogwarts. As I was reading an article on USA Today about the movie, I realized that yes, I am your parent that has this book in the basement, as a caption of a photo explains. I bought it, along with Quidditch Through the Ages, from Scholastic Book Club when I was teaching second grade many years ago. While I was a avid Harry Potter reader and read all the books as they were published, I didn’t have any interest in reading these little side books. The actual story of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is only available as a screenplay and is not a novel.

Since I read the Harry Potter books so long ago and have only seen the first three movies (Lily wants to read each book before seeing them), I am happy to report that you do not have to read the Harry Potter books to understand what is happening in this movie. The Harry Potter references are there but not critical. Lily reports that the spells were familiar and Dumbledore is mentioned once. Grindelwald is an important name in the movie; unfortunately I didn’t remember who he was since he has a minor role in the books, but it didn’t spoil my understanding of what was happening.

So, should you take your kids to see this movie? The beasts themselves actually were fantastic, and it was fun to watch them all interact with the main character, Newt. Some beasts escape from Newt’s magical suitcase, and Newt needs to recapture them. That alone would have been enough of a plot for me, but there was also a much darker plot woven into the script. The story line included fantasy violence and death which I was uncomfortable with, and frankly, was unnecessary. The ending was very ominous and would also be hard for younger children to understand. I think my 9 and 12 year old girls were okay with it, but I’m glad they aren’t younger.

The characters in this movie, however, were an absolute delight. I enjoyed “getting to know” the four main characters: Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob Kowalski. Katherine Waterston, the actor that played Tina, reminded me so much of Maura Tierney, especially when she had a little mustard on her lip from eating a hot dog! However, I couldn’t find any connection between them, except for an adorable picture of Maura Tierney attending the movie’s premiere. It must have been just my imagination.

Overall, it was a fun movie, but if you are hesitant to take your kids to see it, I would recommend either seeing it yourself first or waiting until it comes out on DVD. If you have seen it, what did you think about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?

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A Simple Piece of Cloth

It’s just a simple piece of cloth folded into a triangle. And yet, as I watched the representatives from the military unfold the American flag, it was so much more than a piece of cloth. Unfolded, held firmly, crisply, by its four corners and tilted it so we could see the stars and stripes. Our flag, held up in honor and memory of one who had served in the Army during the Korean conflict.

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You may remember me telling you that Ed’s dad died at the end of September. We had a memorial service a few days later, but his ashes weren’t ready yet. Today, we buried my father-in-law next to his wife, right where he wanted to be.

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As I drove him to one of his radiation treatments, we talked about his wife, Virginia. He said he was going to ask her, when he saw her in heaven, if they had a good marriage. I told him that she would say yes. She was a wonderful mother-in-law, and I always wished I had the chance to know her more.

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The service at the graveside was short. There were tears and also smiles. We felt we had already said goodbye to a good man, and yet we were honoring him again today for serving his country.

That simple piece of cloth was folded up again, precisely, into a neat triangle. It was presented to my sister-in-law with words acknowledging her father’s service to our country.

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Busy Airport

I went to pick up my sister from the airport today! Yay! The airport, of course, was super busy and the traffic was horrific. What should have taken 40 minutes took an hour and a half. It’s always that way at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lily and Emmy were so excited to see their aunt because we didn’t get to see her this summer.

O'Hare Airport; photo courtesy of my sister
O’Hare Airport; photo courtesy of my sister

Since it took so long to get home from the airport, it took a while to get the girls to bed. So much excitement! And now it’s time for me to go to bed, too. Coming from California, though, means that my sister will probably stay up past our bedtimes. She has to get used to Central time, so we gave Lily and Emmy strict warnings. Don’t wake up Aunt Meredith too early!

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Sometimes I still…

…check on my children when they are sleeping. It used to be that I had to creep quietly into my little girls’ rooms at night to check on them before I could go to bed. If I forgot, I would lie in bed and worry about them until I got out of bed, quietly tip-toed into their rooms, and made sure they were still breathing.

Now that Lily and Emmy are older, I don’t check on them as often as I used to. But tonight, Emmy was coughing a lot, so I checked on her to make sure she had fallen asleep and was resting well. I also checked on Lily, because I can’t check on one daughter without checking on the other. Lily, however, now that she is older, has more trouble falling asleep and said, “What?” when I crept by her bed. “I’m just checking on you,” I said. She is used to me, and barely opened her eyes.

I was an exhausted mommy!
Lily and Emmy sleeping on me!

How old will they have to be for me to stop checking on them? I suppose I’ll always want to, although when they are teenagers they might not want me to come into their rooms. My mom used to say that she was the happiest when all four of us children were under her roof, even when we were adults. I was 40 when she died, and she still wanted all four of us to be with her.

Thanksgiving week is a difficult week for us. Mom died early on Monday morning, November 23, and we had to wait until after Thanksgiving to have her funeral. A couple of church families provided our Thanksgiving dinner that year. We were so grateful to them. We didn’t have the energy or the motivation to prepare a turkey…or mashed potatoes, or anything else!

I am now closer to 50 than to 40 years old. Sometimes I still…miss my mother. I suppose I always will.

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