Hazel the First

Bill and I very soon will be celebrating 31 years of marriage, which is a pretty long time to be stuck together with one person. We have shared that day for years now with the birthday of our 4th lovely circus clown, Jodie Grace Wynonna. So it’s never really just our day. But even before Jodie, it never really was our day. We were married on the day of Bill’s grandparents’ (Momma and Poppa – Hazel and Osie) fiftieth wedding anniversary. Yeah, it was their day.

I can’t imagine being as gracious as Momma and Poppa were to share their day, their celebration with two crazy, in-love kids dressed in the OMG-what-the-fresh-hell-is-that 80’s wedding fashion. But they were. I’m so glad that they were so generous.

It was but a couple years later that I knew I truly belonged to this family I married into when Momma would address me as Teri-Toni-Dottie-Patty-Laura.


Years and years later, I am carrying on for her, much to the annoyance of my kids, when I address them by all of their names until I eventually hit their name. Deep down I know that Hollie-Zoë-Abby-Jodie-Hazel-Fallon appreciate the family tradition. Of course they do.

Momma and her daughter, my dear mother-in-law, Mom, taught me how to properly fry chicken which is something I know Bill has given thanks for over the years. It’s not perfect or nearly as excellent as their fried chicken is, but it is properly fried chicken. Through the years, memories were made, laughter and tears were shared and babies were born…a lot of babies…

I loved Momma’s playfulness with my babies. All five of them have enjoyed her cuddles and being bounced on her knee trottin’ the pony. The awkward conversation we had where I explained to her that it was her grandson Bo’s fault that we had birthed no grandsons not so much. Still I loved the laughter we shared after that conversation.

Momma and Poppa had three children who became parents to nine grandchildren for Momma, who went on to have A LOT of great-grandbabies (I’m counting 17 but then again my math skills are seriously suspect) and 5 great-great grandchildren. All adored Momma.

Then again, what is there about her NOT to adore?

One memory I have of Momma is the fact that she always seemed to be smiling. No, not a big toothy smile. It was more a quiet smile with the corners of her mouth always upturned. To have lived as long as Momma has I know it wasn’t always perfect and rosey but clearly she lived her life with a positivity that was reflected in her quiet smile. One of many things that made her beautiful. But truth be told, my best, happiest memory was the first Thanksgiving she shared with her namesake, Hazel the Second.

Now how many 90-something year old ladies do you know who will get down on all floors to play with her carpet-crawling great-great grandbabies?

Yeah, I thought so.

I can only hope to be as kick-asstastic as her.

Hazel the First graced this world for over 95 years until today when she passed away.

Mother’s Day will be tempered with the fact that she is now part of our family’s sweet memories. For me, in the short time that I have been blessed to call her Momma, there has been many sweet memories. I will always have her to thank for knowing how to properly fry chicken and to at least try to just sit back, relax and enjoy the blessings around me (and there are a lot) with a quiet smile on my lips.

Hazel Frances Shock-Yowell, November 16, 1918 – May 9, 2014


play it again: the baby sway

originally published February 22, 2005

If you are a parent you probably know what I am referring to here.

Have you ever noticed a parent of a new baby, especially the mom, when they are holding their baby they tend to sway rhythmically to an fro. It seems to come naturally and it usually does wonders for calming a fussy newborn. Have you ever noticed the same parent when they put the baby down or hand them off to someone else? They are more often than not still swaying. I call that the baby sway.

I did this with all of my babies. I don’t know why, I just did. Maybe it was comforting to me too.

Well, last night I cared for a term newborn being treated for hyperbilirubinemia. She was a doll and her parents were the sweetest couple. Mom was really determined to only breastfeed her baby and insisted on coming in every time her daughter was hungry. I was able to accommodate her request and more than supportive provided mom promised to lie down and at the very least, rest in between feedings as her daughter was demanding to be fed every two hours nursing for thirty to forty minutes.

After one middle of the night feeding, her daughter seemed to have a little difficulty settling while under the phototherapy lights. Mom stayed at the bedside “nesting” her daughter on the warming bed like I showed her how. Eventually, the baby quieted and was soon sleeping but mom and I continued with our conversation about other ways to soothe her baby. It was then I noticed that mom was swaying as if her baby was still in her arms. I smiled to myself as I remembered doing that with my own babies. It was such a warm, fuzzy memory.

And then I realized I don’t do that anymore. Of course I still do the baby sway with a baby in my arms or MY baby in my arms….but he isn’t really a baby anymore. He will ALWAYS be my baby, but he definitely is a little boy. He still needs me very much and makes that known with his numerous requests for hugs and cuddles throughout his day but once that need is fulfilled off he goes back to his little boy adventures. I remember the same transition with each of his sisters.

It is bittersweet. My internal baby sway is now dormant as we enter the next phase of my son’s life. There are no more babies for me. It will have to be the babies I care for in the NICU, cuddle at church and someday…..a long time from now!…..my grandbabies. Then the baby sway returns with the soft grandmom shoulders that all grandbabies love to snuggle against.

December 2013:

Of course I had no clue that three years later I would become a grandmother, a Mima, much, much sooner than I was ready to be. Oh well. Thankfully, my own baby sway did return and on many occasions, I somehow managed to put those grandbabies to sleep when no one else could.

Skills…I haz skillz!

the first, the second and the first

There is no doubt at all that grandchildren are super awesome. Great-grandhcildren, I imagine are even greater than super awesome because my memories with my great grandparents, Chester and Austa Caudle, are definitely my happiest childhood memories. Obviously I had to be their favorite. In my own imagination this is true. Of course I was the only one who named one of my children after one of them. That certainly secured my status of favorite great-grandhcild. Still I am thinking the ultimate has to be great-great grandchildren. It has to be.

Especially when one shares your name!

I am so happy that Hazel the Second and Fallon the First got to spend some time yesterday with Hazel the First.

Not to change the subject or anything but I want to look this hot when I am days from my 95th birthday.

on the walls

Watching me hanging pictures on the wall, Hazel notices that there are NO pictures of her and Fallon…”why, Mima?

Why indeed?

She was a little judge-y in her query kind of like the way she has judged my fashion choices in the past. Still I couldn’t blame her. I would have been upset too if the tables were turned…which reminds me of the fact that there no pictures of me in her home.


We’ll address that later.

A friend of mine suggested that the lack of pictures of my grandbabies on the walls of the Big Top is actually the responsibility of their parents…meaning that they should be providing the framed photographs and portraits. I would say true. I always provided lots of portraits of my circus clowns to the grandparents until that one time when that one grandparent asked me not to give anymore pictures. I guess the fact that I have so many kids means that a lot of space is taken by all those pictures I had given in the past. I refuse to believe that the grandparent didn’t want pictures of these adorable children because that would be ridiculous. And so I stopped giving pictures of the kids…more for me to enjoy here under the Big Top! But one of the reasons Hazel and Fallon’s parents aren’t showering me with pictures of these gorgeous pictures is because I am the one who takes pictures of them…all the time. Well, I AM the mamarazzi.

And so we go back to Hazel judging her Mima for not having any pictures of her and Fallon on display here under the Big Top.

Well not anymore!

So now we will discuss why there are no pictures of Mima and Papa in Hazel’s house.