Posted in family, Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: into the woods

School is now in session. But you don’t always have to be in school just to learn something new.

It’s that time of year when the big yellow buses travel down our road stopping every few houses to pick up school students. New backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, clothes, and other school necessities have been purchased.

The school bell is ringing, and our oldest grandchild is growing up before our eyes as she is launched into a new year of learning.

The end of a lazy, hazy summer arrived before we could believe it, and we wanted to enjoy one last hurrah before her first day of school.

So, one day while her mama worked, Nana and Papa took Little One on a day trip that promised not only to be full of outdoor fun but also would allow some exploring and learning to boot.

Little One helped Nana pack a picnic basket with our lunch, sunscreen, tick repellant, and a thermos of ice water and off we set on an adventure into the woods. Our destination was a spot for which I have fond memories from my own childhood.

We traveled to Cook Forest State Park, an 8,500-acre area along the Clarion River in northwestern Pennsylvania. Sometimes thought to be a gateway to the Allegheny National Forest, Cook Forest is well known for its thickets of old growth white pine and hemlock trees.

It’s a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing down the river as well as offering cabins for vacation stays, camping areas, picnic spots, and many wooded hiking trails.

We first stopped at an old, historic fire tower that I remember climbing as a teenager. Papa and Little One braved the 80-foot climb to the top while Nana snapped photos of their ascent. From its pinnacle, the scenic view from the tower is panoramic.

After being cooped up in the car, Little One thoroughly enjoyed the short hike through the woods to and from the fire tower and climbing over gigantic rocks. Being active was a plus, but what she didn’t realize was that she was also learning something new.

We stopped along the way to inspect fungi growing on trees, toadstools, moss, and giant gnarly tree roots. Papa helped her count the rings on a tree stump to determine how old the tree must have been.

At lunchtime, we found a quiet picnic spot beside a creek which provided even more adventure and education. While eating, Little One noticed two kinds of butterflies on a nearby tree and enjoyed watching them.

After eating, we explored a short trail that took us over the creek via two wooden bridges. But the best part was when she examined critters and rocks in the creek.

Tadpoles were a delight to watch. Wading up and down the cold-water creek was even more so and giggles of glee abounded.

From there, we drove along the river where we watched a few folks paddling kayaks and those tubing along on floats.  We even found a spot to wade in the shallow water and toss stones to determine the largest splashes and kerplops made.

A quick shower of rain didn’t dampen our fun either. As the day wound down and it was time to head back home, how did we end our excursion? By eating delicious scoops of ice cream, of course, from the Cooksburg Café.

Little One devoured her strawberry ice cream cone happily discovering chunks of real strawberries in it. Papa indulged in white chocolate raspberry trifle and Nana satisfied her cravings with a chocolate peanut butter cone that included the largest pieces of frozen peanut butter I’ve ever eaten in my life.

It was a great way to end a summer’s day, to enjoy an outing before school resumed, and learn a few of nature’s lessons.

Our Little One may be growing up with no way to stop time but we hope she never halts her desire to learn new things in this life. And her Nana and Papa will provide those opportunities as long as we are able.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo

© 2021

Posted in family, Life

Tuesday Thoughts

You know that old saying? Time flies when you’re having fun. It does.

When you are enjoying yourself immensely, the hours on the clock seem to rev up to warp speed. When you’re miserable, each minute drones on and on and you honestly believe the wretched day will never end.

Thankfully, even in the midst of this ongoing period of time that appears to drag on mercilessly (I’m tired of saying pandemic), Papa and I spent last weekend with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts.

Blessedly, after about seven months of not being in each other’s company, we were able to spend an entire weekend with our son and daughter-in-love and their two adorable children – our beloved grandchildren.

Giggles, music making, and lots of playtime filled our hours and time whisked by us. Before we were ready, it was time to part.

That’s when we experienced some tears at the thought of goodbye. That’s when the little ones’ hugs and the “I love you, Nana” whispered in my ear reminded me that times of our family all being together, gathered in one place, have been too few.

And those times disappear as quickly as they come. Because all good things sometimes do come to an end.

But hopefully, not for long.

“Weekends are a bit like rainbows, they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.” ~ John Shirley

© 2021

Posted in family, Life

History keeping

I’m not a true antique collector, but I do possess several vintage items, classified as antiques, which belonged to family members no longer with us. Those mementoes aren’t worth much in monetary value, I’m sure, but for sentimental reasons, to me they are priceless.

For example, the photo above is an old washstand that once belonged to my maternal grandparents. Since they lived with us during the last few years of their lives, I distinctly remember this piece of furniture being utilized in their bedroom.

After their deaths, it found a home in my childhood bedroom. And when I was a young teenager, I painted it white because it was old and a bit decrepit looking. Years later after I married Papa, this old piece of furniture became ours, white paint and all, until I asked Papa to strip and refinish it.

He only occasionally worked on that project and soon it was relegated to the back burner of importance. A young family to provide for, family activities, and a career to maintain superseded an old hand-me-down. Eventually, he did manage to strip away all the layers of paint and varnish and dismantled the washstand into pieces to do the job correctly.

Then it sat in our basement, unassembled and in need of some repair work, for many, many years. Finally, just a couple of months ago, Papa hauled it out, repaired some broken areas, refinished it, and purchased new hardware for the drawers and door portion of it. And now, it occupies a place of honor in the eat-in portion of our kitchen.

And it gives me joy and provides sweet memories of my grandparents who I loved so much but lost when I was nine years old.

What do I know about this family “heirloom?” Not much, except of course, it belonged to my grandparents and they were married in 1900 – you read that correctly. So, it’s fair to say that this piece is at least 100 years old.  Sometime during the years in which my grandparents, married for 64 years, owned this washstand, the attached towel bar became missing.

But I’m happy to see this antique repaired, reassembled, refurbished, and in functional usage once again.

In the last few months, (because honestly, what else is there to do in this ongoing restriction of our comings and goings?) I’ve cleaned out closets and drawers in this empty nest. To say there is much to be purged from this home is an understatement and I just commented to Papa that we have lived in this house too long – over 20 years now, more than double the time we lived in any other home – and have acquired too much stuff.

His reply was, “You want to move?” Heck, no! But when we moved often in the first 20 years of our marriage, we did jettison unnecessary items each time, but now…well, we’ve found ourselves surrounded by more possessions than we truly need.

So, while blitzing through this and that, casting aside items to eliminate or donate, I concluded that some family heirlooms (and I use that word loosely), need attention. Both Papa and I can identify those items and from which family member we inherited them, but our offspring may not and probably do not have that knowledge.

Let me confess right here that I am an organizer deluxe. I prefer to have my ducks all in a row and to be able to find them exactly where I placed them. And now, with more time on my hands, my inclination for putting things in order advanced to the next level. Okay, don’t worry, I’m not obsessive compulsive about it; I’m just getting a better handle on what’s here and where it is.

I’ve often read articles that suggest at the first of a new year it’s a smart idea to take inventory of your household goods, document or update that, place it in a safe location, and if for some unforeseen reason, you have a catastrophe and lose such possessions, you then have an accurate record of them.

We hadn’t updated that in more years than I care to mention, so another project presented itself to be accomplished.  Using my DSLR camera, I took photos of all the rooms of our home, uploaded them onto a flash drive, and placed that, along with a hard copy list of household goods, with our other important documents.

Upon completion of that project, I realized that perhaps those family keepsakes passed along to us should be documented as well.  So, I created an Excel spreadsheet with each item’s description, where it’s located in the house, and most importantly, from which family member it originated, and placed that with our home inventory information.

What our offspring/heirs choose to do with those items will be at their discretion, but at least, they will understand why we kept the mementoes and the family significance behind them.

Maybe it’s because Papa and I have reached a certain age of…maturity… but we now wish we had paid better attention to family stories and asked more questions about some of the keepsakes we now possess. Since both of us are the youngest in our families and our parents were older when we were born, there’s family history we just don’t remember or even know. And such information didn’t seem important to us while growing up.

Papa never knew his grandparents since they were either deceased by the time he was born or shortly afterward and for those same reasons, I only knew one set of mine who died when I was in elementary school. Hence, many of our family’s stories died with them. All we really know for certain about most of our ancestors are their names and vital dates like birth and death.

I have one cousin still living and a couple of years ago, he presented very thorough genealogy information, going back a couple hundred years, to me in a three-ring binder. We also have a fair amount of family genealogy about Papa’s ancestors as well.

When I read through the several generations worth of names written in that information, I find myself wondering what those ancestors were like. What kind of people were they? What was important to them? What were their lives really like, especially those who lived so many hundreds of years ago in a country different from our own?

Maybe that’s why some of the keepsakes seem so special to me. They provide a link to our past that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Whatever the reason, my hope is that our children and grandchildren can learn a bit of family folklore from the memorabilia we’ve chosen to keep. Whether they opt to retain possession of those, pass them on to their progeny, or dispose of them will be beyond my control. But at least, they will know the family historical significance of each keepsake.

“Not everything worth keeping has to be useful.” ~ Cynthia Lord in the novel, Rules

© 2021

Posted in family, Life, Love

A valentine special

Photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash

When February rolls around on the calendar, a lot of folks’ fancy turns to celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Love it or hate it, this holiday is a mushy-gushy popular one with the masses if you consider all the merchandise available in stores and online.

Papa and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day with each other any longer. After three years of dating and 43 years of marriage, I truly don’t need a stuffed teddy bear wrapped up in a big red bow holding a fragrant or fake rose or a box of chocolates to tell me that my husband loves me.

He demonstrates his love for me every single day by the way he treats me, the loving ways he supports me, and in his kind manner of doing things for me. And I strive to do the same for him. So, we banished the cards and gifts a long time ago as truly not necessary because really, shouldn’t every day be like Valentine’s Day?

One of our offspring doesn’t care much for this holiday, not even when she was a teenager. To her, Valentine gifts and mushy greeting cards just seem overly showy and even insincere. I fear she resembles her mother when it comes to outlandish, unnecessary gifts and grandiose words of affection because those things don’t fill our emotional tanks like they do for some folks.

Instead, show us how much you love us by your actions – kind of ‘put your money where your mouth is.’ And by that I mean, don’t spend money on gifts, just mean what you say and prove it with your actions.

But since Valentine’s Day is fairly successful as a consumer-driven holiday, obviously many people enjoy the gift, card, and flower buying and receiving. Now please don’t think I’m berating those of you who love receiving or giving gifts, I’m not. I understand each person has a different “love language” and that may be yours. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Of course, the focus of Valentine’s Day seems to center on romantic love, but not everyone has a romantic relationship. So, maybe the holiday would prove more meaningful for everyone if we included demonstrating our love for our families, love for our friends, love for our neighbors, love for our fellow humankind – the way God intends for us to love one another.

When I recall Valentine’s Day in the past, I remember using construction paper to decorate a shoebox which I took to elementary school to be used as a “mailbox” for simple Valentine cards from my classmates. But two other fond memories of this holiday are foremost in my mind and both came from my father’s actions.

When I was just a youngster around three or four, my daddy sent me a big Valentine card in the U.S. mail. He could have just brought it home with him that day but instead he mailed it because he knew it would make me feel special. What a surprise that was and how excited I was to receive my own personal mail addressed just to me! That experience was such a treasure that I actually still possess that card – one I’ve kept in a safe spot for over 60 years.

The second memory is what my father did every year. On Valentine’s Day, he always brought home a big heart-shaped box of chocolate candies for my mother and three smaller ones for his three girls – my sisters and me.

This tradition continued even after my sisters, who were several years older than I was,  married. Dad still bought all of us Valentine candy. Years later after I married Papa and moved out of state, I continued receiving a package in the mail just in time for Valentine’s Day. A heart-shaped box of chocolates from my Dad.

At some point, we told Dad he could stop buying us candy since we really didn’t need those extra calories. I don’t know if he was disappointed with our decision or not. But now, I realize that those red and pink boxes bedecked with ribbons and filled with chocolates wasn’t the point.

It was the thought that counted. It was a loving husband and father reminding his wife and daughters that he loved and cared for them and in his eyes, they were special.

I remember my father’s loving gestures, which extended far beyond Valentine’s Day, with some melancholy tears brimming in my eyes, as I prepare little packages filled with Valentine goodies for my three grandchildren.

Do they need those little gifts? No, not really. But since two of them live in another state and Nana and Papa can’t visit them as often as we’d like (especially now), we must send Valentine greetings by mail.

All three of our grandchildren will receive special mail addressed just to them and those packages are reminders from Nana and Papa that we care about them, we love them, and they are all so precious to us.

So, in a way, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year by sending our love in a special package by mail.

“A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it – A song’s not a song ’til you sing it – Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love ’til you give it away.” ~ Oscar Hammerstein

©  2021

Posted in family, grandparenting, Life

Words for Wednesday: first day

It’s in the air. I can smell it, I can feel it.

The days are still filled with bright sunshine and warm temperatures tricking us into believing summer is still hanging on till the bitter end, but after the sun sets in the west, the evening produces a bit of a chill.

And in the early mornings? Oh, it’s so very prevalent.

I’m talking about the change of season which signifies another kind of change. It’s back to school time.

Do you remember your very first day of school ever? I truly do not. Since I first hopped onto a big yellow school bus for the first time to attend public school 60 years ago (can THAT be right??!?), I don’t recall my first day at all. But I think it’s safe to say I was probably terrified.

My school didn’t offer kindergarten classes back then and preschool existed only in the cities where children went to “nursery school.”  So first grade was my first experience at school. I do have a few recollections of first grade but mostly they aren’t positive ones.

I was shy and timid and my gray-haired, somber teacher was also the school’s principal, so she was a strict disciplinarian. To me she loomed large over us with her very stern appearance and her unbending rules. Frankly, she scared me and most of the time, I was afraid to even open my mouth.

Once I became an adult, my mother shared a story about my first few days of school with me. As we were adjusting to school and schedules and rules, my classmates and I tended to cry during the day. Obviously, we sobbed because we were frightened or we just wanted to go home or we missed our mothers, who were mostly stay-at-home moms at that time.

So every school day for the first few days or so after I arrived home, my mother would ask me which of my friends cried that day. I didn’t like to admit that I shed tears as well because I really didn’t want her to know that. You know, put on a brave face so mom wouldn’t worry and would believe I truly was a brave, big girl.

One day, Mother asked me that question again and I promptly gave up the wailing culprits’ names. Of course, she suspected I wept as well, so she inquired once more, “Didn’t you cry too?”

My answer was, “Well, I wheened a little.” Apparently I knew the word whined and what it meant, but didn’t know how to properly pronounce it. Obviously, my mother thought it was funny enough to remember it and tell me the story decades later.

That memory came back to me just the other day – the first day of school in our local district. A lot of preparation and anxious discussion preceded it due to covid-19 concerns, but after advisement from area medical personnel and listening to parents give their thoughts and opinions via a video conferencing school board meeting, the district announced school would resume in person for those who wanted their children to attend. For others not comfortable with that, online learning would continue to take place as it had during the months of lockdowns.

Tons of safety precautions and procedures later, those big yellow school buses roared down our roads, picking up students, whose smiles or frowns were hidden by masks. Children must have their temperatures checked at home before they board, practice social distancing on the bus, and undergo another temperature check upon arrival at school.

It’s enough to make your head spin but I know one school student who happily complies. I can hardly believe it, but our grandchild – our oldest one, the first one, the one who loves to stay at Nana and Papa’s while her mommy works – trotted off to kindergarten just the other day.

She couldn’t wait. She was so excited to ride the school bus. She shared that she was eager to make new friends at school and confessed that she was a little nervous because it was a “big school, not like my preschool.” 

Papa and I arrived at her house several minutes before the bus was due to pick her up, we snapped photos, and she looked so big and grown up in her dress carrying her lunch box and her pencil case. She didn’t appear nervous or scared or any of the emotions I’m pretty sure I experienced the first day of my school career.

Instead, it was her Mama and her Nana who were nervous and apprehensive for her – but we didn’t let on to her that we were feeling that way. You know, put on a brave, happy face so she wouldn’t see us cry.

The big yellow school bus stopped in front of her house, she held her Mama’s hand and waited for Mr. School Bus Driver to motion that it was safe to cross the road, and she boarded that bus all by herself. Miss Independent. And at the end of the day, when she jumped off the bus, we could tell that she had a great, fun first day of ‘real’ school.

Even with her mask on, her eyes were smiling. As she removed it, she gushed about all the excitement of the day and she couldn’t wait to go back to school the next day.

A great start to a new season of learning. A new season of experiences. A new season of growing up. A change of life just as the season is changing.

I don’t remember my own first day of school all of those years ago, but I remember other first days. Wasn’t it just the other day that I was sending my own first child to school for the first time? Wasn’t it just yesterday that the other two eventually followed her onto that big, yellow school bus?

I remember those first days when my own children were filled with the same eager excitement that my grandchild experienced. I also remember feeling a little sad and teary-eyed but happy for them at the same time as they began a new phase of life.

And as long as my memory serves, I will remember my grandchild’s first day going off to school as well.

“You’re off to great places. Today is your first day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” ~ Dr. Seuss


Posted in family, grandparenting

Words for Wednesday: make your own fun

Summer. Hot temperatures. Little rain. Humidity climbing up the ladder of mugginess.

Add covid-19 restrictions to that. No amusement parks. No summer baseball games. No fun at a playground. No public swimming pools.

No fun outings. No trips to a children’s museum. No trips to the zoo. No carnivals or county fairs. No festivals.

No trips to the library. No cooling off at the movie theater.

No Vacation Bible School at church.

Only drive-through trips to get an ice cream cone which you must eat in the car.

What’s a child to do on a hot, steamy day at Nana and Papa’s house when summer fun is restricted?

Make your own fun by engaging in a water blaster fight with Papa. And hope it helps water the dry, crunchy grass.

She makes us determined to make her childhood enjoyable no matter what!

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” ~ George R.R. Martin


Posted in family, Life

Words for Wednesday: revealed in light

It has occupied the same space on our office desk for over 20 years now.

Twenty years of knowing about its existence. Twenty years of noticing and using it just about every single day. Twenty years of acknowledging its presence but not realizing its importance.

Until just the other day.

Over 20 years ago, our family of five was unsettled. We had just moved from one side of our country to another – from the Pacific Northwest to our home state of Pennsylvania. Our household goods were in storage, we hadn’t found a home to call our own yet, my mother was in the throes of cancer treatments so we were temporarily living with my parents, and Papa diligently was searching for employment.

In the middle of it all, Papa’s mother, my dear mother-in-law, developed more life-threatening health issues and moved from her assisted living facility into a nursing home. Because she lived several hundred miles away from us, my husband’s uncle, a beloved brother of his mother’s who lived near her, cleared out her belongings and stored them for her in his garage.

Shortly afterwards, my mother-in-law passed away. After her memorial service, we sorted through the items, determining what could be given away and what items her sons wanted to take.

Papa’s mother had already downsized significantly from her apartment, where she moved following my father-in-law’s death, and again purged her belongings when she secured a room in the assisted living facility. So we accomplished the task of going through what was left in an afternoon.

Items we kept and brought home with us were not of great value, simply sentimental. One of those was a glass, rectangular-shaped paperweight with a sepia-toned picture pasted on the back of mothers, children, and a couple of cherubs.

It was a little odd but as long as Papa could remember, that paperweight sat on his mother’s secretary desk. Obviously old, we opted to keep it along with another circular glass paperweight sporting our nation’s Capitol building in Washington, DC.  

So for the last 20+ years, both have occupied different spots on our home office desk where our desktop computer is located. Both Papa and I have shuffled hundreds of pieces of papers around this desk. We’ve written notes and stuck them under that rectangular paperweight with the odd picture umpteen thousand times in the last 20 years.

But just the other day, something happened that stunned me and then caused me to additionally ponder. As usual when a visual presents itself to me, my mind searches for some kind of meaning from it.

The morning sun streamed through our office windows that day when I opened the blinds. As I often do in the early mornings, I imbibed in a cup of hot tea while logging onto the desktop computer, checking email, perusing social media, reading my fellow bloggers’ words, and attempting to conjure up my own blog posts for the week.

After so many dreary, overcast days, I welcomed the sunlight pouring in but its intensity almost blinded me while sitting at the desk. I didn’t want to close the blinds because well…sunshine makes me happy. So I shifted my chair over a tad in order to shield my eyes from the bright sunlight and that’s when I noticed it.

A brilliant ray of sunshine shone through that odd, old, glass paperweight. And as it did so, I noticed something I had never before seen – there was some kind of etching on the short end of the rectangular glass.

What??? I’d never seen that before! I picked up the paperweight and when I held it just so, I could see the etching included three upper case initials. Puzzled, I began to wonder whose initials they were because they did not match either my mother-in-law or my father-in-law’s names.

I called to my husband and asked him to come take a look. He too had no idea whose initials they could possibly be. All along we thought the paperweight had belonged to his mother or perhaps his dad, but what explained the different initials?

Turning the paperweight over in the sunlight, I then noticed more etching in the glass on the other short end of the rectangle shape. There a date was etched – 1900 –  plain as day or plain as could be seen when direct light hit it.

1900? So this paperweight had to be at least 120 years old. Wow. Again the wheels started spinning in my mind. 1900 – my father-in-law was then two years old (yes, you read that correctly; he was born in 1898).

My father-in-law was the oldest child in his family so he was, in 1900, the only child. The photo in the glass paperweight depicted mothers with children….mothers….and that’s when the proverbial light bulb illuminated in my brain!

The initials! I hurriedly looked up information on Papa’s family. There it was – the initials matched Papa’s grandmother’s name. My father-in-law’s mother. The grandma my husband never knew because she died when he was very young. Perhaps this paperweight was given to her on Mother’s Day in 1900.

We owned a sentimental piece of family history and didn’t even know it until now. A bit of a revelation!

And then my mind took a detour. That paperweight sat in the dark, so to speak, for over 20 years before its real ownership was revealed to us, until just the right angle of light presented it for my eyes to see.

That reminded me of God’s Word where much is written about light. Until I became a believer in Christ, I once was in darkness but as I came to know my personal Savior, I was brought out of that darkness into light, “His marvelous light” as 1 Peter 2:9 tells me.

I recalled that Jesus said, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in” as written in John 8:12 of The Message.

He also proclaimed in John 9:39, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

And then Jesus revealed Truth when he exclaimed, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.” (John 12:44-46 The Message)

Pondering those words also reminded me that truth is revealed in light. We go about in the dark, perhaps being fed lies after lies and believing them, and then bam! The light exposes the truth! The truth comes to light. What’s hidden in darkness and subterfuge becomes known and displayed in the light.

What was concealed is now revealed. What was covered is laid bare. What was hidden is now shown.  I’ve always cautioned my own children that what you do in secret will be revealed in the light of day. That is truth.

It took sunlight reflecting through a 120-year-old glass paperweight to allow my eyes to see and my mind to be reminded of truth. A little revelation thanks to God and thanks to my husband’s grandmother.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ~ Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 6:22-23 of The Message


Posted in family, Life

Just different, that’s all

blogIMG_1583It wasn’t a typical Mother’s Day. But then again what’s typical in this ever-changing world we live in?

A typical Mother’s Day for me consists of attending worship service at our church with some or all of my family, then enjoying a home-cooked lunch prepared by Papa and my grown-up kids, and spending the remainder of the day with my family in the same house as me until it is time for them to journey to their own homes.

If our three with spouses and grandchildren in tow can’t be here to celebrate this special day, at least one of them would make an appearance in person – our daughter and grandchild who live close to us – and I would receive phone calls from the others.

But Mother’s Day was different this year. Not terrible, just different, due to the continued sheltering in place or lockdown we’re enduring because of this virus which holds us hostage in our own homes.

Instead of worshipping my God in our church, Papa and I gathered around the computer to listen online to our pastor’s message for the day while Little One watched Journeys for Jesus. We scarfed down some left-over pizza for lunch since it was just the three of us around the kitchen table.

After lunch, we drove Little One to Daughter’s house so Little One could deliver her Mother’s Day gift to her mommy – a basket of pretty pansies and a homemade card, which is so much more of a keepsake than a purchased card anyway.

We visited with our daughter/her mommy from her front porch. She was quarantined behind her glass front storm door. We sat on the opposite side. No hugs, no kisses on the cheek. Just talk between glass. Different? Certainly.

blogIMG_1567The wind kicked up, the sun disappeared behind clouds (again!), and the temperature chilled, so it was time to bid farewell. Being weary of staying home for so many dreary, sun-deprived days, we opted for a Sunday drive around our area’s country roads.

Little One fell asleep in her car seat in the back of our vehicle and the lull of the car’s motion enticed me to take a little nap in the front as well. Papa drove in silence – a bit of peace and quiet for him.

Different Mother’s Day? It sure was.

But one thing wasn’t different. Words of love and appreciation from all of my grown children, photos of my other two little grandchildren, and a special gift delivered by UPS.

My oldest daughter knows I can’t stand the taste of coffee and am a devoted tea drinker. So what did she and my son-in-law send me? What could be more perfect on these unseasonably chilly May days than a hot cup of tea?

My special Mother’s Day gift was a package of “Novel Teas” from Bag Ladies Tea. Each of the 25 English Breakfast tea bags boasts literary tags with humorous or insightful quotes from well-known authors printed upon them.

Quotes like this one from Henry Ward Beecher: “Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?”

I could bemoan the fact that I didn’t get to spend Mother’s Day with my beloved offspring and all of my grandchildren. But I won’t because life is just a bit different right now – not terrible, just different and I must keep that in perspective.

“I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” ~ Martha Washington


Posted in birthday, family, grandparenting

Words for Wednesday: Party!

The birthday celebration was grand. The My Little Pony theme proved to be a big hit with the younger set and the adults enjoyed a great time of friendship and fellowship as well.

Little One (our first grandchild) turned five. (How can that be???) The children played pin the tail on the pony (Nana made the pony tails and Mommy made the pony), had pony races, got pony cutie marks (washable tattoos), designed their own bookmarks,  made rainbow edible jewelry with Froot Loops cereal,  and smacked the head off a My Little Pony pinata to gather up candy.

Keeping with the My Little Pony theme by using some of the characters’ names, food served included Twilight Sparkle hay bales (Rice Krispie treats), Spike’s spikes (Bugles snacks), Rarity’s crystals (rock candy), Apple Jack’s applesauce, Rainbow Dash’s fruit salad, and Fluttershy’s bunny food (raw veggies and dip).

And now that Little One is five, she now says she wants to be six! Don’t grow up too fast, my sweet grandchild. Remember that F I V E is Fantastic, Incredible, Vivid, and Energetic and enjoy every moment as you grow and learn this year. 

“Grandkids bring you into a sweeter, slower present. They show you the future at a time when a lot of your friends are thinking about the past. And they take you back to childhood–theirs, the parents’, your own: a three-time admittance to wonderland.” ~ Adair Lara


Posted in family, Gifts

Experience: a lasting gift

Somewhere along the way, I’ve read that the best gift you can give someone is not a material one but the gift of an experience.

I wholeheartedly agree. Especially when it comes to children.  Too often when we think of gift-giving to children, we think about what tangible items we can purchase – new clothes, toys, games, electronics, or books.

Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with those gifts. Children need clothes and shoes. They enjoy playing with toys. Books and games stimulate their minds. But eventually children grow out of the clothes, toys break, games are relegated to the back shelf, electronics become obsolete, and even books become too simple for them to read.

Those gifts may not last,  but giving a child an opportunity to experience something new, adventurous, or educational will make memories that endure for a lifetime.

Recently, we celebrated our first grandchild’s fifth birthday with her. She enjoyed a fun party with her friends, their parents, and nearby family. Little One’s mommy has a wonderful group of friends from her college days who all get together regularly with their young ones in tow to celebrate special occasions and get-togethers and they were in attendance at the party.   

Little One, as any child would be, was excited to open her presents. But one gift truly made an impression on me and eventually on Little One. One of her mommy’s friends gave her a gift card for admission to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

blogIMG_0769So on her birthday, Mommy, Nana, and Papa took Little One to this place of learning and fun. She had actually been there before when she was around two because a Daniel Tiger exhibit was there at the time and she loved Daniel Tiger. But she only remembers that visit because we have photos to show her.

Now at age five, the experience would make a longer lasting memory. We spent the better part of a day watching Little One explore the many hands-on exhibits, including one about the game of baseball and correlating math and science into the game.

There was so much to see and learn about light, mechanics, building, and even circuitry where Nana and she tried our hand at connecting lights and switches to batteries.  Hands-on exhibits with sand and water fascinated her. An entire floor is devoted to water play where children can pump, channel, and dam the flow of water and even experience rain showers and ice molding.

blogIMG_0793She loved the physical activities of climbing in and out of a two-story tall vertical maze, crossing a “gravity” room (a room tilted at a 25° angle to get to twisty sliding boards, and spinning on large sculptures called “Los Trompos” which resembled spinning tops.

Not only did Little One enjoy herself, but her Mommy, Papa, and Nana did as well. Nana and Papa even joined in creating a virtual puppet show where the puppets on a screen mimicked us as we moved, danced, and jumped.

blogIMG_0826A day to remember. A day to leave the mundaneness of winter and cabin fever behind. An experience that hopefully Little One will always remember.

Little One had a memorable experience thanks to the gift from a friend. And the best part of all was watching her excitement, seeing her eyes light up in wonder, and hearing her laugh. Good medicine for my cabin fever.

“A grandchild’s laughter is the greatest medicine.”  Unknown