I have to step away from the vacation stories I wanted to tell you, back up and do the Lammie Blog.
In the first vacation photo, you see Little Man asleep with his lifelong pal, Lammie. If he travels, he goes NOWHERE without Lammie. Lams may stay in the vehicle, but he travels with us.
Now Lammie's origins are somewhat fun. He was actually a gift for Jim when he was born. He is a product from Gund and is, quite literally, irreplaceable. Jim never had an interest in him so 11 years later, when Little Man was born, I found Lammie in a storage box of stuffed animals from his brothers. Thinking the baby may like the softness, I put Lammie in the crib. Little did I know what excitement such a stuffed animal would bring to our family in the future.
I was still active duty when LM was born. The day I came off of maternity leave, I checked into a squadron coming off of one deployment and gearing up for a quick turn around. I worked nights, which meant going in at 2 p.m. and getting home anywhere between midnight and 8:00 a.m. the next day. I was either on the road with the squadron or always at work. That may be why Lams became such a big part of LM's life. But soon after Lammie, Gramma Isabel gave him Blue, a musical lamb. From there, he discovered Lammie Horse, a big stuffed Suffolk sheep my mother had made for each of the older two when they were born. I was in Thailand and found Magic Lammie, a pillow that folds in half and becomes a stuffed animal shaped like a lamb. The very real irony of this whole thing is, Little Man was born in the Year of the Ram, is an Aries and his name is Abraham. So now we have the Lammie Family. But there is only one Lammie. When he could stand, he would pull himself up in his crib in the morning. To get my attention, he would make noise and I would see Lammie come flying out of his room into the hallway. To give you some perspective, he was in an 8x10 room across from the door. The kid has an arm, no doubt.
We would travel every weekend to see the grandparents. They only lived two hours away so it was not a problem for us to take the prodigal grandson on the road. We learned very quickly however to lock the rear windows when LM got bigger. As I'm flying down US-99 in our manly men truck, his window goes down and out goes Lammie. LM starts to howl, brakes screech as I pull onto the shoulder. Carlos jumps out and risks life and limb to retrieve Lams. No kidding running into traffic to get this stuffed animal. Window locks on, check. Yes most parents would have said, "Screw it! He's gone! Your fault!" But not us. Lammie had become an intregal part of the family.
A year later, I'm coming off of deployment. We decide to take the kids to Sea World before traveling into Mexico for a weekend on the beach. LM was a month away from two years old at this point. Lammie is already showing signs of wear. We spend no less than eight hours at Sea World. We have just exited the gates when I ask, "Where's Lammie?" We search the stroller, the bags, everything. Nowhere to be found. We re-enter and split up, backtracking to every place we were (basically a whirlwind retour of Sea World). Jim heads to where we stopped for lunch and asks them, "Have you seen a tan lamb?" They give him a very strange look and basically tell him to get lost. What do you expect getting a question like that from a 13 year old? Ater 45 minutes, we all meet back up with empty hands. Carlos decides to try the lunch joint one more time given the question that was asked and explains it's a stuffed animal. Lo and behold! Lammie comes out from behind the counter. Safe again. It's at this point I decide to look for a replacement, just in case there is a time when he does not come back. I get into the Gund website. This is how we acquired Fluffles, Lammie's brother. This is also how I found out that Lammie is really irreplaceable. He was only made in 1992, there were fewer than 1000 and that's it. That's how Gund works. So, I ordered Fluffles hoping he was similar. Not even close but at least we have another member of the Lammie family, right?
That same year, I transfer here to Maryland. Land of crabcakes and football! We start fishing and crabbing every weekend. LM is now three at this point. One gorgeous summer Sunday morning, we are on a pier in Shady Side. Carlos and the boys had gone to Bass Pro and bought all new fishing poles. It was an exciting day, indeed. I've got the crab nets down, the boys are fishing and LM is running up and down the pier. Boats are pulling up to the docks and everyone is greeting us, asking how the crabbing's going, etc. It was at this point that I turn to see LM doing the three year old thing. He's got Lammie by one leg, and he's swinging to and from. You know, that twisty thing kids do. Feet planted, arms swinging side to side. I get a bad feeling about now and yell to Carlos," Watch that lamb!" It was at that moment the lamb went over the railing into the Chesapeake Bay. Panic completely sets into the family but we've trained for this very moment. We have the experiences of traffic and Sea World under our belts. We are a well-oiled Lammie retrieving machine. We all know our roles and execute perfectly. Carlos grabs his fishing pole and has actually reached the sinking lamb. Jim has climbed over the railing with a net and is waiting for Lammie to come closer.
I'm screaming, "Oh my God! Get him out, get him out!" David is trying to help Carmelo "chopstick" him with his pole. Little Man is laughing to the point of almost tearing up. At this point, Carlos' brand new $150 pole snaps as he's trying to pull a very wet sinking Lammie to the pier. He quickly grabs Jim's pole to continue the chopstick. The Lams is sinking fast. I'm thinking all hope is lost at this point. Jim actually wraps his legs around the wooden railings and is lowering his body into the water. Now I don't know if the excitement was generated by the activity of our family or my screaming, but people are running down the pier. I'm guessing it was generated by the activity, myself. But people are jumping off their boats and running toward us full speed! Jim is now head first into the water trying to retrieve the Lams. I hear people yelling, "Is he ok???" as Lammie flys up over the railing and lands by my feet. I pick him and say, "He's fine! We got him!" And hold up a dripping wet stuffed animal. The rescuers stop dead in their tracks and look at me like I've lost my mind. Of course, since I'm busy attending to Lammie, I don't realize that Jim can't raise himself back up. So Carlos and another fisherman grab him by the legs and raise him out of the water. Lammie had to stay in the man vehicle after that.
Lammie has been thrown out the window on US-99 and I-5 in California. He has been left at Toys-R-Us ("We have found a very loved stuffed animal" is what we heard over the intercom when we realized it an hour later), Sea World, a variety of restaurants and Chuck-E-Cheese. He has even gone swimming in the Bay.
So, every Christmas card picture Lammie is there. Every trip we take, Lammie goes. We have now actually bought a wood and glass case to house Lammie in with some photos of his adventures when the time to retire him comes to pass. He is almost thread bare and is very lumpy now, but doesn't that happen to all of us that are well-loved and getting older?