So this business of storytelling. The folks reading my blog posts for almost 2 years now, know I write about every facet of my life. Every facet. Growing up in Rock Valley, Iowa, eloping at 18, motherhood, marriage, my life long love of the elderly. The complicated relationships with my Mom, Dad and sister. Not much has been off limits in baring ‘all of Neese’ in my bizarre little life. Until my stunning, beautiful, smart, sassy, talented, soon-to-be-12-year-old granddaughter, Peyton put the brakes on my writing. Have I mentioned she’s a bit assertive? Wonder who in the world she inherited that trait from?
|Peyton, my little Ballerina, 2005…|
Ok, Peyton’s granted me plenty of leeway on most subjects. Doesn’t care when I appear dumb, foolish, or write about things which should forever remain untold. Rolls her eyes at my silly subject matter, poor grammar, probably many of the pictures I use. And she truly cares not one whit about my writing. As long as it’s not about her! Technically, she did not forbid me not to write about her. She merely insisted she would read, edit, have complete control and authority over every word I write about her before I hit publish. Yup, that’s my power-tripping, pre-teen, fabulous granddaughter.
|Lovely, graceful Peyton, 5 in 2009…|
The reason for these strong feelings and opinions in writing about Peyton stems from one silly, stupid sentence I wrote! Can you believe it? If you’re curious about what messed her up so badly, go back to the story I wrote in December of 2014. Aptly named, Landon Andrew. See if you can discover the horrible incident which is now the reason I’m edited by an 11 year old. Sigh. But before we get into Peyton’s story, you need to understand a very real, concrete theory which concerns our family. When we get to PJ’s part, if it’s only a sentence or 2, you’ll know why. I’ve been hog-tied.
|Peyton’s smile lights up the world, 2008…|
First, let me explain our numbering system. Months and years don’t count here, only the actual dates. We had a good pattern working in our little family. For decades. I was born on the 2nd. Hubs was born on the 4th. Nice, low even numbers. The way God intended. Shannon Marie was first to join our unit, born on the 4th. Evenly spacing our kids a good 4 plus years apart, Joshua joined our merry crew with his entrance on the 2nd. Are you detecting a pattern here?
|Mutual admiration society, Ariana 15, PJ, 2, 2006…|
Adam proved to be a bit dicey. His due date was on the 7th. Yikes. But as a breech baby, with only 2 tiny feet pressing in my birth canal, he was in no big hurry to make his appearance just yet. The 7th came and went. Ugh, because I was overdue, whew, because he missed the 7th. He also missed the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th. Do I have to tell you how incredibly sick I was about still being pregnant? And worried? With some serious concerns for his healthy birth? I thought not. Adam came into our world feet first and shakey on the 12th. But wait, all was right with our little Adam, his birth date and our numbers world. If you add John’s, Shannon’s, Joshua’s and my birthdate numbers, it totals 12. Ta-da.
|Nearly 9 months pregnant with Adam, 1979…|
Our next extra special numbers addition was our first grand child. Ariana wiggled her way into our hearts and lives on the 8th. We gained our son-in-law Tracey, who was born on the 10th. My totally amazing grandson Landon, (Drew to the rest of the world) popped in on the 4th. Timing is impeccable with that kid.
|Peyton with Ari at first Ballet recital, 2007…|
So now we’re up to my blog post title holder. My beautiful granddaughter Peyton was due on 04-04-04. How clever is that? And she has proven to be a lot more than just clever. But she was a no-show on the 4th. Ditto with the 5th and 6th. We were nearing panic mode, but Shannon and I decided she would certainly wait until the 8th and share that date with her big sis, Ari. The moment they laid eyes on each other, they have been devoted, despite their age difference of 13 years. Have I told you how fiercely independent Peyton has been her whole (short little) life?
|Cute as a bug, Peyton 6 months, 2004…|
Shannon called when she was in labor, but said things were moving slowly and assured me she wouldn’t be giving birth until past midnight. I drove to Jackson because I will be taking care of Ariana and Landon, almost 4. I made a quick stop at the hospital to say hi to Shannon and Tracey. I walked into the birthing room, noticed the mid-wife and continued to walk towards Shannon. Guess who beat me to the bed before I got there? Miss Peyton Jada! We still had 6 hours to go before midnight. Hmmm. Peyton decided to make her own Lowder/Van Berkum timetable. Odd. The date was definitely still the 7th. She was extraordinaryly beautiful. And tiny, weighing 6 pounds even. Wouldn’t you know, she didn’t have any odd ounces, just an odd birthdate. But Shannon felt great. Life was good. This was Wednesday night.
|Peyton 11, taking a break from keyboard practice, 2015…|
Landon has many allergies. To name a few, beef, chocolate, eggs, nuts and milk. Around this time, he was obsessed with fried chicken. My fried chicken. But only legs. Not thighs, wings, white meat, just drumsticks. Of course we had to have a meal of fried chicken while I was there. So I was frying a mess (meaning many, and yes, very messy) of legs on Thursday night. Tracey was leaving the hospital in his car, John was leaving in another to have supper with us. Shannon’s good friend, Colleen was at the hospital, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over exquisite Peyton. About 2 blocks from the hospital, Tracey was T-boned by a lady running a red light cause she needed some smokes. John passed the accident before the ambulance, realizing it was Tracey, turned around and went back to the hospital. Since Tracey was not yet at the ER, John went to Shannon’s room. He started with, “Shannon, I’m sorry. Tracey never made it home from the hospital. He was in an accident!” As Shannon has said for 12 years: Worst. News. Delivery. Ever! She thought T was dead.
|Peyton loves Ballet, and it shows, 2016…|
When they brought Tracey to the ER, he was wearing a bracelet from the mother/baby ward. The ER folks couldn’t figure out why this guy was already wearing a band from their own hospital. Tracey hurt his neck and shoulder, but it wasn’t life-threatening.
|Peyton looking very fetching, 2011…|
Shannon and Peyton were doing terrific. Nursing was going smoothly, so mom and babe went home on Friday. I stayed until Saturday, then went back to Muskegon to get ready for Easter. But Shannon was doing poorly by Sunday. Shannon fed Peyton, then asked Ari to watch the baby for a little while so she could rest. Tracey went to the bedroom to check on Shannon a couple hours later, and found her under a pile of blankets, almost delirious. Ariana watched Landon, (yes, I believe he was still called Landon at this point, but it wouldn’t be long before he changed to his signature logo, Drew, for the rest of the world except me). Tracey loaded up sick mommy, PJ and headed to the hospital. By the time they arrived and parked, Shannon was unable to walk. After the car accident 2 days prior, still very stiff and sore, Tracey grabbed the carrier with 6 pound Peyton in one arm, and not quite close to 6 pound Shannon in the other arm.
|I love, love this serious pose. Peyton, 2005…|
Without getting too graphic, the ER doc thought a piece of placenta had broken off, (somewhat common) causing Shannon’s high fever. This was not the case though. She had a serious, unknown infection. Shannon suggested (see the assertive trait here) IV home therapy and they would be on their way. The doc was pretty blunt. “It’s Easter Sunday. There is no home IV therapy. You have to be admitted. Or you’re going to die.” (To this day, Shannon believes this was the same infection her great-grandma Wanningen suffered and died from at age 22 after my Mom and her twin brother were born in 1926. Unfortunately, back then there were no antibiotics to fight this killer infection). The hospital would not however, re-admit Peyton. Shannon called me, sobbing and so very sick.
|PJ must chew pearls when solving the worlds problems, 2004…|
I packed another suitcase, hopped in the car and tried to prepare myself for taking care of tiny newborn, Peyton. Little did I know. Tracey would not let that baby out of his sight, except when he came home after a long day running errands and staying at the hospital. Shannon was not only dangerously ill, she was devastated. Their pediatrician told Shannon she wouldn’t be able to nurse Peyton while on such strong antibiotics because it causes deafness in newborns. Now Tracey had to encourage PJ to take formula-from a bottle. Shannon was determined to keep milk production up so they could resume nursing when she was better. Unfortunately for Shannon, she had been admitted to the pediatric ward. Every time she heard a baby cry, her milk let down. Fortunately for Peyton, this would serve her well in the future when they were back home together. So Shannon pumped-dumped-and-cried, while Tracey took care of Peyton. I watched Ari and Landon during the week, which happened to be spring break. Tracey would drop Peyton off at the hospital for a few hours during the day. The doctors and nurses pretended not to notice a extra little person sharing Shannon’s room. When friends stopped by to visit, they were assigned feeding Peyton formula. If Shannon tried to feed PJ, she absolutely would not take the bottle. It’s that whole/mommy/smell/bond/nuzzle/thingy.
|One of our favorite things we do together, make fudge, 2014…|
By Wednesday after Easter, Shannon was feeling much better, but still on antibiotics. Happily for both of them, after 3 long, gut-wrenching, emotional weeks, Peyton went right back to nursing without a hiccup. And her superb hearing was never an issue. I’ve always been careful of what I said about my Mom after I moved to Michigan in 1987. She could honestly hear what I said about her. And she lived in Iowa, about 800 miles away. Yeah, Peyton has that kind of hearing.
|Cutie pie Peyton, 6 mo, 2004…|
As she did with Landon, Shannon took an extended maternity leave after Peyton for about 5 months. Plenty of time to bond. And move on to the next big step in her career. Decided not to go back to her job as foster care supervisor with the state, but begin a 4 year program to acquire her Ph.D. Those kids of mine, so smart and ambitious. Tracey, always supportive (and a little envious) of Shannon, stepped it up several notches. Since Shannon would be driving to Detroit daily, much of the day to day childcare duties, hauling them here and there would be up to him. And he took the reins like the champ he is.
|Peyton 3, with daddy behind her, 2007…|
Peyton went to day care in a home until Shannon enrolled her in Montessori pre-school/daycare. PJ grew and thrived into a brilliant toddler. Artsy-fartsy, loved drawing, coloring, and was introduced to Ballet by the time she was 3. Her first dance recital was incredible. The dance studio always has the youngest dancers do their routine first, because they have the interest span of a gnat. The teachers lead the half dozen 3 year olds on stage and stood them on their respective marks. The music started, and one little darling dancer moved with the music. Yup, Peyton. The others stood-awestruck. Did Peyton continue the routine by herself? Well yes, sort of. In between moves, she’d scoot to another statue (awestruck toddler) and literally twirl the next moves with her. Talk about a born leader. It was endearing and hilarious. What a hoot.
|Life is serious. Peyton and Ariana, 2015…|
PJ inherited her mom’s (and grandma’s) love of books. Another voracious reader. I don’t believe she’s ever come over to our house without vast amounts of reading material. Doesn’t matter if the visit is 2 hours or a week. She sets very high goals for herself in her school work. I believe she was reading at 11 grade level when she was in 4th grade.
|One of my favorites of PJ, 2006…|
Still dancing. An exquisite Ballet dancer, now also enjoys Contemporary and Jazz. Peyton has taken voice and piano lessons for several years. She’s in the Honor’s Choir as one of the few 6th graders at school. Likes to compete in singing competitions. Dreamed of trying out on American Idol, but that dream has been dashed as this is their last season. Not to forget her studies, she also competes in her school’s academic games. With dad at 6′ 4″ and some height on our side of the family, PJ will be closer to 6 foot than 5 when she’s done growing. She does not care for basketball, preferring to read during Landon’s basketball games. She does enjoy playing volleyball.
|Peyton’s unique light surrounds her, 2015…|
Before I stop, I must add the next members (and numbers) to the quirky Van Berkum bunch. The next one is a little tricky and required some serious brain power on my part for a logical solution. Lo and behold, about 8 years ago, Adam started dating a beautiful young woman named Sarah. They became parents 6 years ago to our 4th grandchild. A smart, cute, precocious boy named Graham. Who could rattle off every 18 syllable, technical, dinosaur species name by age 2. As God is my witness, a true statement. Well, Graham was a double whammy. Not only born on the 10th, that date was also Tracey’s birthday. Alas, Sarah’s date is (I can hardly type it) the 11th. Hold the phone. Really, it’s ok. Graham is the 10th, Sarah’s the 11th, and Adam is the 12th. Makes perfect sense. At least in my ‘little’ world.
|Sarah, Graham and Adam on vacation, 2015…|
Which brings me to our last addition (so far). Erica Little. MSU grad in mechanical engineering. Pretty, smart, savvy, runner and health nut. She hooked the whole family with one dazzling smile, and her infectious laugh. But it was Josh who fell hard. And we’re so glad he did. Now married 3-1/2 years, they’ve been busy remodeling (down to the studs) a house in Detroit. It’s nearly ready for them to move in later this spring. Erica’s date? Though heading for the stratosphere, still an even number at 18.
|2012, Cancun. Josh and Erica’s wedding…|
Just a sneak peak at one of my 4 favorite, fabulous grandchildren and a snippet on the family. Numbers, who knew? Well, I’m going to add some cute pictures and send this off to my boss, the editor. Your guess is as good as mine on how many red slash marks it contains when I get my copy back. Don’t be too hard on your gram Peyton. Every word was typed with lots of love, pride and admiration. Happy birthday, Peyton…
|PJ knows how to live on the wild side, 2016…|