Learning to Crawl

Ellie — Opa and I took a wonderful trip to Seattle to see you and your parents two weeks ago. We came back with lots of warm memories, a zillion photos of you and us, and, as a bonus, the cold you had.

What did we want to do while we were in Seattle? your mother had asked. It was an easy question: Not much. We just wanted to spend time with the three of you.

So, we rolled around on the floor with you. Opa gave you crawling lessons that you pretty much ignored.


He and I took you to the park and sat on the grass with you. We listened to you unleash a string of syllables when you felt talkative.

“Da-da,” you said.

“Ma-ma,” I prompted. Or, more surreptitiously, “Co-co. Co-co.”

“Da-da,” you replied, happy with yourself. “Da-da.”

Saturday morning, your other grandparents, Marci and Dave, drove an hour from Olympia to have lunch with all of us. Here we are with you:


Marci and Dave also live close to their other three grandchildren, so they’re kind of in grandparent heaven, as far as I can tell. If we weren’t so crazy about them, Opa and I would probably be wildly jealous of them. But they’re too lovely to resent.

Marci, who’s from a tiny town on the Kansas prairie, still works as a school guidance counselor. She’s the extrovert of the pair, energetic, warm, and talkative. Dave, who worked as an occupational therapist, is quieter and slyly funny.

I love them because they’re your father’s parents and good, caring people. But I also love their quirky, offbeat personalities.

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Dave collects gongs in his backyard in Olympia, for no particular reason I’ve been informed of — he just likes gongs. He also always liked to play jokes, your father says: “When we were growing up, he used to glue quarters to the floor of his VW and told my mom – who never let change go unpicked – she could have every last quarter she could pick up.”

Marci and Dave, Halloween 2015. You see what I mean?

Marci and Dave, Halloween 2015. You see what I mean?

And Marci, I learned recently, earned her private pilot’s license when she was young. I wasn’t completely surprised: I could have already told you she’s a lot more adventurous and daring than I am. According to your father, she was also the first girl to bring knee-high boots to northwest Kansas, which sent her small town reeling.

You know, it’s funny, writing this blog for you. Sometimes, I try to give you advice. Sometimes, I talk about our family history and what’s been important for me.

But other times, like now, I simply want to recount a moment in time you won’t remember yourself.

So, there we all were in Seattle on the weekend of March 18th-20th, 2016. We had brisk, edgy spring weather and uncertain blue skies and a sharp breeze.

Your parents were still young, good-looking, and fun, as you can see.


Your four grandparents were still physically upright, cheerful, and rapturous about your every movement and syllable.


You kept trying to crawl and talk. It was clear that, at seven months, you were becoming less of a baby and more of a toddler-to-be. Sometimes I looked at you, trying to see the girl, then young woman, you will become.

That’s just human nature, always thinking of the future and distracting ourselves. We can never quite still our minds to fully enjoy the present — even when the skies are blue, the baby is bursting with promise, and the older adults around her are lucky to be upright and healthy on such a gorgeous day.

So, I’m telling you this story of a single, beautiful day when we all had so much fun with you. It was just perfect. Love you, Coco

(Copyright 2016 by Ruth Pennebaker)


  1. Brette Sember · April 5, 2016

    It’s lovely that you and Ellie’s other grandparents appreciate each other.

  2. Roxanne · April 5, 2016

    So nice that you could go for a visit and document a time when everyone was UPRIGHT (ha ha). Sorry about the germs, though. Feel better.

  3. Sheryl · April 5, 2016

    Beautiful… and worth coming home with such warm memories to fill you until next time. May your cold go bye-bye ( says Ellie).

  4. Linda Cox · April 5, 2016

    This was so sweet, Ruth. What a delightful visit, and a fine piece of writing about it.

  5. Kerri @ Living Large · April 5, 2016

    This is so precious. As a woman who never knew any of her grandparents, *I’m* envious of your granddaughter and what this blog will one day mean to her! One of my grandmothers was alive when I was a baby and I often wonder what she thought of me. This line made me LOL: >>Your four grandparents were still physically upright, cheerful, and rapturous about your every movement and syllable.<< So great.

  6. Kerry Dexter · April 5, 2016

    Lovely how being in the present then creates memories such as this. Thoughtfully and well written, Ruth, thank you.

  7. Jane Boursaw · April 5, 2016

    Oh what happy times. In the midst of all the problems our world has, I love hearing stories about happy days like this, and with such a cutie-pie like Ellie. Thanks, Ruth.

  8. Alexandra · April 5, 2016

    Love the photo of the crawling lessons! My third granddaughter is 13 months now. She cannot say Grandma, but she’s getting good at the “g-g-g-” sound.