Peek-a-boo

blogIMG_7005Peek-a-boo, I see you.

Often I take a peek out our windows to check what fine feathered friends are noshing at our bird feeders. One feeder full of seeds hangs on a tree in view of our back yard deck; the other is a suet cake holder that swings back and forth on a front yard tree.

During these blustery winter days, our feeders are popular places for bird snacks. One day last week, I spied a red-headed woodpecker poking into the suet cake, but by the time I grabbed my camera, changed out the lens for a telephoto, and quietly opened my front door to try to capture him, he swooshed away in a flurry.

Disappointed, I checked the back yard where I noticed a bright red cardinal enjoying a free meal at the battered wooden feeder there. Worn by years of weather, wild winds, and just general usage, one of the perches has broken off.

Chowing down, Mr. Red sat upon the remaining perch which happened to be hidden on the back side of the feeder. I knew that if I opened the door and walked out onto the deck to try to capture his likeness, he too would fly away in a flash.

So I aimed my camera at the bird feeder and attempted to get a quick glimpse of him as his head or tail became visible. The result ended up being a peek-a-boo kind of photo, which you see above.

A few days later, my daughter, my grandchild, and I decided to go out for lunch and were traveling in daughter’s car. I kept hearing a little voice saying “Peek-a boo, peek-a boo” repeatedly from the back seat. I looked questioningly at my daughter who responded, “She’s playing peek-a boo with her baby doll.”

Our first born granddaughter turned four years old this past month and one of the things she dearly desired for her birthday was a baby doll. An honest-to-goodness soft dolly who looked more like a human baby than a cartoon character. One that she could pretend to feed, to dress in doll clothes, to bathe, to rock and sing to, just like a mama would do for her own child.

Baby dolls. Not easy to find anymore. Nana and Papa were determined to find just the right one for our little one, which actually proved to be a difficult task. I didn’t want to order one online because I wanted to see the doll in person, touch it, see if it’s eyes opened and shut, see if it felt…well…real.

The small section of baby dolls in the nearest Wal-Mart toy aisles proved to be fruitless. First of all, there weren’t many to choose from which was disheartening.  Out of the selections, one proved too small, one way too large, and a couple of others too cheaply made and not soft and cuddly.

We looked elsewhere with the same results, until finally I found one on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx – a baby with a tiny teddy bear and two changes of clothes. Who knew finding a baby doll would be so difficult?

And that commenced this old brain of mine to start to ponder. Is there not much of a market for baby dolls anymore? Have we truly become that kind of society where we discourage little girls from becoming mommies?

Do children no longer play house and pretend? Do they truly desire electronic gizmos and gadgets more than an old-fashioned toy like a baby doll?

It saddens me to think so. It saddens me to think that little girls don’t want to grow up to be a mother or that society or their parents are dissuading them from motherhood.  

Discouraging them to want to play peek-a-boo with their own baby someday. To hold a blessed miracle of life in their own arms.

It warms my heart to see my grandchild pretend to be a mommy with her new baby doll she wraps in a baby blanket. And it made me smile to hear her play peek-a-boo with her “Baby Annie” during a car ride.

My hope is that my precious grandchild grows up to be a wonderful mommy, loving and kind. Thoughtful, caring, and nurturing. And appreciative of the miracle of life – a baby. She’s learning that now.

“I am your mother, you are my child. I am your quiet place, you are my wild. I am your calm face, you are my giggle. I am your wait, you are my wiggle. I am your dinner, you are my chocolate cake. I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake. I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo. I am your goodnight kiss, you are my I love you.” ~ Unknown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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Words for Wednesday: family birthdays

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blogIMG_6834.jpgFebruary is a special month because, here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we celebrate two of our family members’ birthdays. 

So Happy Birthday Month to my son, my last born,  and to my first born grandchild. You both are my February valentines.  And I’m so thankful for you both!

“Have you ever considered that your birthday is truly a day of celebration? A day to recognize the special gift we all received on the day you were born; the gift of you. You are appreciated, you are loved. As another year begins for you may you be filled with the thoughts of how special you are to all of us! Thank you for sharing your life with us.” Robert Rivers 

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A letter’s reminder

person holding handwritten letter

Photo by Bryan Schneider on Pexels.com

January has been clean up month.

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest, there has been much ado about everything. Since Middle Daughter and Little One moved into their own little cottage on New Year’s Day, this mama has accelerated into high gear.

Actually, both Papa’s and my engines have been running in high gear for about eight weeks helping our daughter refurbish her new home.  I understand now the work it takes to flip a house and I’m not being flippant about it.

But now, it’s my turn to get my own home ship-shape, squared away, and back in order. With daughter’s furniture and belongings moved out, our house is less crowded and to be honest, less messy. 

This newfound free space has inspired me to clean up, clean out, and purge. Two empty bedrooms needed attention and some furniture rearranged back into those rooms. Closets, cupboards, kitchen pantry all needed cleared out and re-organized.

I’m on a mission. Search and destroy. Search and relocate. Search and donate. Search and label for a spring/summer garage sale.

During one of my search operations, I tackled the closet in what used to be our son’s bedroom – now a guest room. We managed to dump deliver most of his belongings to him quite a while ago, but still some items remained – things he did not want or need at age 30. Stuff I should have taken care of long ago but put off until later.

Well, now is later. Time to sift through it all – everything from a microscope set he received one Christmas (used once) to a Star Wars model (never put together) to stories he’d written in elementary and high school, college notebooks, a box of trinkets, a box of stuffed animals including several versions of Taz (his once favorite cartoon character).

And as if that wasn’t enough, an assortment of his sisters’ Christmas formal and prom gowns hung in that closet as well.  I also realized that a scrapbook and assorted  accoutrements which I once planned using to chronicle our son’s school years accomplishments also sat dusty on one of the shelves. Since Son graduated from college nine years ago, it’s past time to get that project finished.

While sorting through all of this, I discovered something that made me stop, sit down, and take time to read. It was a letter. A hand-written letter that my son received upon his high school graduation.

The letter was from a young man, one any parent would approve of, who had been our oldest daughter’s high school boyfriend years before.  Respectful, polite, all-around wonderful young fellow of good character and an excellent student graduating as valedictorian of their high school class.  

Upon graduation, our daughter and this young man headed off to separate colleges and they amiably parted ways remaining friends. Actually, our entire family kept in touch with him and we cheered for his accomplishments when he graduated from college at the top of his class once again.

Suffice it to say, this young man had been an excellent role model and made a lasting impression on our son, who was just a 6th grader at the time our daughter dated that boyfriend. I remember Son telling me he wanted to be like this young man and graduate from high school at the top of his class too.

And he did so. Our son was also valedictorian of his class. He set out to accomplish that goal and followed in this friend’s footsteps.  That friend attended our son’s graduation ceremony and it seemed only right that we invite our son’s role model to his graduation party.

When our son wrote a thank you note to this friend for a graduation gift, Son received a handwritten letter back from the young man, now heading off to medical school.

That handwritten letter I found in the closet.

I decided what’s written should be shared because it’s a perfect example of how a handwritten letter can be such a treasure, even when read many years later.

“It really means a lot to me that I was able to have that type of influence on you. I always knew you had potential, and I’m glad to see you are putting it to good use. Although I’m probably not the best person to take advice from, I wanted to offer you a couple of tips heading into college. I was in a similar situation to yours entering college – graduating as valedictorian does put a little pressure on you to achieve at the next level. I certainly felt it. Since bulleted lists tend to get the point across, I’ll use those:

  • When I started at (his university), people told me no one graduates with all A’s, but R (a friend) and I did it and were co-valedictorians in college. So, don’t believe everything you hear.
  • Challenge yourself with classes outside your comfort areas. This is one thing I wish I would have done more of. I took an upper-level sociology class my junior year – worked hard as heck but it ended up being one of my favorite classes.
  • If you’ve studied all week for an exam and someone offers you the chance to go to a Penguins game the night before, go to the game.
  • Earn the respect of your professors – there are several I still e-mail and meet up with because we ended up being good friends.
  • Don’t try the chicken-fried pork.
  • Try to make it to at least one type of every sporting event.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to beer if you end up at a party.
  • Get involved in a few clubs to make new friends.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to take hard classes, to try something new, to tell someone no, to make a big mistake. You learn from every experience.

So, there’s your nickel’s worth of free advice. I sincerely wish you the best of luck in school, in life, and in your future. Take care, buddy.”

I’m happy and proud to say that both of these young men – Son and Friend – have become mature, successful professionals – one a doctor, one a mechanical engineer. But I’m even more pleased and thankful that they both succeeded in personal life by becoming thoughtful, caring men of excellent character, loving husbands and fathers, good role models for others.

Finding that old letter reminded me how important role models are. I’m thankful that in addition to his father, our son also had a young man to admire and look up to. I wish every young male could have such excellent examples to steer them in the right direction, influencing them positively,  making a lasting difference.

It’s something I think our current day society truly lacks. My hope is that more men would realize that and strive to become good role models for young boys and other young men. It’s time to set positive examples.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” ~Albert Einstein

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

When there’s pie in a blizzard

img_6583 (3)What day is it anyhow?

Did you ever awaken after a deep sleep and be just a little bewildered about what day it is? It happens to me every so often. I open my eyes and think, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday?” Or “What is today’s date, do I have somewhere I have to be today?”

Yesterday I crawled out of bed at my usual time – early morning before dawn – to go walking with my life-long friend. Upon awakening, I knew it was Wednesday and I needed to don my walking clothes.

But what I didn’t know until I glanced out the window was that it was snowing. We walk no matter what the weather brings unless there is a deluge of rain, so I bundled up and slipped on my hiking boots.

After returning from our morning jaunt, which was so peaceful with snow gently falling, I looked at the date on my calendar because even though I knew it was Wednesday, I didn’t remember the actual date.

Seeing that it was January 9th, I remembered that it was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. And just like that (snaps fingers), memories of Grandpa came back to me.

Grandpa died when I was nine, so my remembrances of him aren’t plentiful, but I do have some treasured and humorous memories of him, like when snow fell in huge, fluffy snowflakes, he would comment, “Look at those big cakes coming down!”

I also remember stories about him that my mother – his only child – told me. Stories that happened long before I was born.

My grandfather was born back in the 1870’s (yes, you read that correctly). Having a birthday in January as he did, chances are there would be a lot of snow on the ground and it would be blustery cold on his special day.

Yesterday’s snowfall on the ninth day of January in the year 2019, 143 years after my grandfather was born, reminded me of a sweet family story about Grandpa’s birthday one year.

My grandparents were married in 1900; my mother was born 19 years later. Since she remembered this birthday story about her father, I know it was sometime in the 20’s or early 30’s but I don’t know exactly when.  

Grandpa’s birthday was on a Sunday that year and my Grandmother, who was a queen of hospitality, invited many friends and family members to their home to celebrate Grandpa’s birthday after church. In that particular year, some fortunate folks owned automobiles, but some still traveled by horse and buggy or on foot.

The day of Grandpa’s birthday party, it snowed and snowed and snowed. Cars had a hard time traversing the country roads from church to my grandparents’ home for the party. So all of the invited guests walked through the snow and cold, some for miles, to get there.

And some of them carried pies on their journey. See, Grandpa wasn’t a big fan of cake but oh, he did love pie. So Grandma asked ladies to bring pies so she could cut a piece of pie from each one, arrange them on a big plate in a circular fashion to resemble one huge pie, and present it to Grandpa for his birthday treat.

His eyes lit up when he saw his birthday pie consisting of all of those different kinds of pies. And I suppose the “big cakes” of snow continued to fall as the party continued.

I wonder in amazement about several aspects of this story. First of all, the resilience of those who lived before us comes to my mind. Snowfall didn’t stop them from attending my grandfather’s party. They trudged through deep snow carrying pies and thought nothing of it, making the best of a bad situation. Now we seem to panic when the slightest bit of snow falls. 

They could have said let’s not go, it’s snowing too much, but they didn’t. They could have decided it just was too much trouble, but they didn’t. I wonder would we walk through deep snow and blustery weather just to go to a birthday party?

No doubt they meant what they said when they agreed to attend, no matter that the snow piled up high all around. They knew the meaning of the word commitment. Are we still as committed to following through with our promises today? I wonder.

Secondly, how generous they were to all bring pies, carrying them while trudging through snow,  to surprise my grandfather. Those folks were so willing to go out of their way to bring a slice of happiness to my grandpa.

Happiness that didn’t come in a wrapped, expensive gift but instead in a home-baked goody. Why do we place so much emphasis on monetary gifts we give or receive instead of just sheer thoughtfulness? Why do we think happiness comes with an expensive price tag?

And finally, this story reminds me that often times we encounter a “blizzard” of unforeseen circumstances in life. But we must trudge through the deep “snow” and make our way to where we need to be, no matter what.

And when we finally arrive, there is something worth achieving.

A piece of happiness. A slice of joy. A portion of gladness. A wedge of bliss.

Grandpa’s birthday story is enough to make me want to eat pie during a blizzard and be thankful for both the blizzard and the pie.

“You don’t really get Jesus saying very often there’ll be pie in the sky when you die. He’s really talking about now and today, and it’s supposed to be like that. You’re supposed to delight in what’s right in front of you.” ~ Greg Boyle

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Family connections

blogOld photoIf you can believe all the ads on TV and the internet, more and more folks are wondering just where they came from.

Those ads inform you where you can send your DNA to have it analyzed and receive a report indicating what part of the world you descended from. I can understand why that information would be intriguing if you don’t know much about your family history.

For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated about knowing my ancestry. Shortly after Papa and I married, we purchased a family tree print which we filled out as best as we could with the limited information we had. We framed it and it has graced our living room wall for all of our married life.

Since both of our sets of grandparents passed away either when we were young or before we were even born, our knowledge of great-grandparents and further back in the family lines was very limited.

My father did possess a treasure trove of family lineage on both sides of his family and he passed that information to my sisters and me. But pertaining to my mother’s lineage, we had very little to go on beyond our grandparents.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been even more determined to find out more family genealogy but am limited with time to do so. It’s quite a task, even if you join one of the online genealogy sites. There’s a lot of misinformation, dates in error, etc. that can lead you down the wrong path and I have felt frustration over some of that.

Enter my cousin. I have one living first cousin left; all the others are deceased. My cousin’s father and my father were brothers and our families were close when I was growing up. Recently, cousin and I have had more opportunities to see one another and talk about family remembrances. And he just so happens to have done a lot of research on our fathers’ family.

A couple of months ago, my cousin came for a visit and brought along his three-ring binder full of his research, which is more extensive that what I have. He showed me how he had collected all of the information and formatted it into a binder, not just on our shared family history but on this mother’s lineage as well.

I was impressed and expressed that to him. We shared stories and many remembrances of family members long gone. Hearing my cousin’s stories – many of which I never had heard – made me even more determined to seek out more of my family history (and my husband’s as well), get it put down in writing, and prepare a similar notebook to be passed down to my children if they are interested.

But time. Or the lack of it. That is my problem. It’s been a busy season of life for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest even though I basically am retired from working outside the home and Papa is semi-retired, only working at a part-time job. Taking care of our granddaughter while daughter works takes up a good bit of my time. And there are always church activities and other commitments that also claim my free hours as well as writing this blog.

Recently, my cousin visited me again. I never imagined he would arrive with a complete surprise in his hands. He prepared a family history binder for me as a gift. Not only did he include all of his research and photographs from our shared family lineage, but he had done significant exploration into my mother’s (his aunt by marriage) family.

What an amazing gift! My cousin gleaned through ancient census reports, vital life certificates, and other information to complete my mother’s family tree. Then he printed all of his collected findings, formatted the family lineage, and placed it all in sections by family name in a three-ring binder.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

To say I am thankful for what he did is an understatement. His gift touched my heart in so many ways. I’m beyond grateful for my cousin, for the ways we have felt connected in our family ties, for the stories he has shared, for the vast amount of time he spent compiling all of the information he acquired.

My cousin gave me a treasure. A treasure I can pass on to my children in hopes they can pass it on to my grandchildren. A treasure of family connection. The past with the present. And into the future.

Just one more thing to be grateful for in my 30 Days of Thanks Giving.

 “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Grace for family gatherings

blogIMG_2113“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”  ~ Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Often, a quotation like the one above just hits me.  I know exactly where I want to use that quote, exactly what I will write to share on this blog, and that quote is perfect for it.

Grace. It’s what we call that little prayer before we sit down to eat the meal placed before us and no doubt, many folks will say grace before they indulge in a Thanksgiving feast.

But grace IS so much more. Grace is defined as good will. Grace means mercy; it describes God’s divine love and protection bestowed freely upon us humans.

Grace is a gift granted to us from God. But I wonder how often we willingly give that gift of grace to others? To those who do us wrong? To those who don’t agree with us? Even to members of our own families?

Thanksgiving Day arrives in just two days. And here at Mama’s Empty Nest, the holiday comes with some extended family to join us around the Thanksgiving table.

On Wednesday,  the day before the feast, 2/3 of our grown offspring will arrive from those places they call home in a different state than us. It will be a joyful homecoming for certain and a house full once more of noise and clutter and laughter and…if we’re honest…even a bit of annoyance.

When you put so many people, including young children, in one house, there’s bound to be some occurrence or someone that says or does something to put our shorts in a knot. It’s just how families are. It would be nice to think we all portray that pleasant Norman Rockwell painted family as we gather around the Thanksgiving table.

But reality says differently. Human nature reveals that someone may get their feelings hurt. Someone may insult another even if he’s unaware that he’s doing so. Someone may be so stressed by preparing the fixings for the feast that she’s a little testy with her words. Someone pays more attention to the cell phone than the people in the same room. One child may grab a toy out of another’s hands and crying results. Someone is miffed because the hot water runs out in the middle of her shower.

It happens. Disagreements, short tempers, cranky feelings. It occurs in our families because none of us are perfect. And none of us possess perfect families.

But when family togetherness goes awry,  we remember the gift given to us by a loving Father even when we are the worst offenders. We apply the balm of grace and offer up thanksgiving for our families and for the love for one another that covers a multitude of wrongs. And for the God who grants us grace.

And on this 20th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I give thanks for family and grace.

Below I hope you enjoy this amusing but poignant video about family at Thanksgiving.   

“It is delightfully easy to thank God for the grace we ourselves have received, but it requires great grace to thank God always for the grace given to others.” ~James Smith

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Tradition

photo of pumpkins

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tradition. To some folks, it just wouldn’t seem like Thanksgiving if certain traditions weren’t followed.

And that pertains to the food served on the day we set aside for thanks as well. In addition to the huge Tom Turkey that is the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast, many families serve other traditional food too.  Green bean casserole? Tradition. Pumpkin pie? Tradition. Cranberry sauce? Tradition.

When I was growing up, we celebrated Thanksgiving at one of two places – either at my parents’ home or at my aunt and uncle’s.  Tradition.

When we celebrated the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s home, just my parents and I joined them because my older sisters were already married and feasting with their in-laws. 

My mother would help out in my aunt’s kitchen where a table elongated enough to accommodate us all would take up most of the room. Dad and Uncle would sit in the front room and discuss whatever came to mind. Sometimes politics was involved because my uncle had pretty strong opinions about such things. Most likely, rather than argue, my dad would just sit and listen.

That left my cousin, who was seven years older than me, to keep me entertained while we waited for the Thanksgiving meal to be ready. We always sat in the TV room and watched the Thanksgiving Day parades on television.  Another tradition.

When my family celebrated the holiday at my parents’ home, again there were traditions that were followed. One of those was the fruit salad, called 24-Hour Salad, that my mother made and served at the Thanksgiving table. Every year. Without fail. Tradition.

I was the only one in my family who didn’t like that salad because of the vinegary taste of the homemade mayonnaise dressing. So when I began preparing our own Thanksgiving feasts after Papa and I married, 24-Hour Salad was not a tradition.

But eventually, we started our own. In addition to pumpkin pie, I make pumpkin bread. Instead of stuffing the turkey, I prepare stuffing balls that are baked in the oven. And in lieu of 24-Hour Salad, I serve another kind of fruit salad with an unusual name – Frog Eye Salad. I assure you it is tasty and I also assure you that there are no real frog eyes in this fruity salad.

Tradition. Every year.

I acquired the recipe many years ago in the Midwest when I attended a ladies retreat with a friend from church.  In a lovely retreat center, we were treated to delicious homemade meals prepared by Mennonite cooks.  They so graciously shared the recipe with those of us who thought the fruit salad – the Frog Eye Salad – was delightfully yummy.

And that’s how our own family tradition began.  I started preparing this salad for holiday dinners, especially at Thanksgiving and Easter. Our children were eager to always see a big bowl of it on the table and it became a family favorite.

When we gather for a holiday meal, the most frequently asked question when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner is “Are we going to have Frog-Eye Salad?” We’ve even lured our son-in-law into this food tradition; he’s always happy when there is enough left-over salad so our daughter and he can take a container home.  

I’m not really much of a ‘foodie’ so I don’t even think I’ve ever shared a recipe here at Mama’s Empty Nest, so this is a first. But I’m willing to share this tradition with my readers in case you’re intrigued by the name of this fruit salad.

FROG EYE SALAD

Ingredients:

1 (8oz) package acine de pepe pasta

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 beaten egg

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)

1 can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

¾ cup pineapple juice from drained pineapple

3 small cans mandarin oranges

1 carton Cool Whip

1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions:  Cook acine de pepe pasta 8-10 minutes. Drain well, place in large serving bowl, and allow to cool. Boil sugar, flour, egg and the 3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice in a small saucepan until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Pour cooled, cooked pineapple mixture over acine de pepe. Stir to cover pasta with mixture. Cover and let chill overnight in refrigerator. The next morning, add crushed, drained pineapple, drained pineapple tidbits, drained mandarin oranges, mini marshmallows, and Cool Whip. Stir gently to mix completely. Chill again prior to serving.

Traditions. On this 15th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I am grateful for traditions that link us to one another. Traditions that link us to the past. Traditions we can carry into the future.

And I’m joining my family in being thankful for Frog Eye Salad.

“It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast.” ~ W.J. Cameron

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Slumbering thoughts

girl sleeping with her brown plush toy

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

I held something incredibly precious in my arms today.

A sleeping child. But not just any child, my first-born grandchild who is three and a half and seldom naps any more.

Her Mommy left for her early morning hospital shift, so Papa and Nana were on child care duty for the day. A busy day mapped out ahead of us. 

After breakfast, Little One got her face and hands washed, teeth brushed, dressed in her outfit for the day, put on her backpack that seems almost as big as her, and we headed out the door for preschool.

After her morning there, we picked Little One up at preschool and whisked her off to a lunch out where she got an extra treat – a special cookie. Then we stopped at one of her favorite places – a nearby town’s library where there is an amazing and huge children’s section room complete with two play areas in addition to books galore.  There she not only played and chose some books to check out, but she got to touch newly-hatched chicks as well.

After another couple of stops for errands, it was time to travel back home. Little One was so tuckered out by this time she fell asleep in the car. Still in slumber-land when we arrived home, Papa gently dislodged her from her car seat, carried her inside, and laid her on the family room couch.  Mama sat down on the love seat with a new library book to keep watch.

About 20 minutes later, Little One opened her eyes, gave a little moan, and looked at me. I attended to her by walking over to the couch, holding out my arms, and she willingly let me pick her up, nuzzling against me as I did so.

I carried her, her limp little legs dangling in front of me, to the love seat, sat down, and she was already back to sleep.

As that dear little sleeping one nestled against my chest, her silky tendrils of hair curled around my fingers. With her little arms wrapped around my neck and her downy head so close to mine, I could smell her sweet breath (still as sweet as when she was a baby) each time she inhaled in and out in peaceful slumber.  

When I tipped my head to gently kiss her forehead, my love for this child swelled and filled my heart until I thought it might burst.  I could feel her little heart beat soundly against mine and I wondered if our hearts will always be connected, no matter what.

While I watched her sleep so serenely, it occurred to me that she must feel safe and secure in Nana’s arms. What a good feeling that must be. Not too long ago it seems, I cradled her as a tiny baby, totally dependent on her mommy, her Papa, and me, her Nana.

Now she is so big and seemed even more so as she slept in my arms. So tall, so bright and articulate, so eager to learn new things, so happy to run into Nana’s arms again after she’s been away from me.

And before I know it, she will be bigger yet. Older. More independent. Off to school all day instead of just a couple of hours a couple of days a week.

As I held my dearest grandchild, I thought of my other grandbaby, who is also not a baby any more as she will turn two all too soon. Before I know it, she too will be almost too big to sleep in Nana’s arms.

The thought of it made me melancholy. Surprising tears brimmed over in my eyes when I imagined my sweet grandbabies all grown up as adults and living lives after Nana and Papa are long gone.  

I thought of my own grandmothers, the ones who never had the opportunity to see me grow up.  One I never knew since she died when I was a baby and the other taken away from me too soon when she passed in my ninth year of life. My memories of her are special but few.

Will my grandchildren remember me with as much love in their hearts that it almost hurts? The kind of love I possess for them? Will I have enough time left in my life to spend precious moments with them, watch them grow up, make memories that they hopefully will remember for the rest of their own lives?

There is no way of knowing for certain as the answer to that lies in God’s hands.

So I treasure the moments I have to spend with these adorable grandchildren of mine. Moments to make memories hopefully to last a lifetime. Moments for this Nana to remember the sweetness of these little ones before they grow up.

“No one can possess an afternoon of rain beating against the window, or the serenity of a sleeping child, or the magical moment when the waves break on the rocks. No one can possess the beautiful things of this Earth, but we can know them and love them. It is through such moments that God reveals himself to mankind.” ~ Paulo Coelho

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Million dollar concert

blogIMG_5548 (3)It’s back to school time in our area. Summer vacations are officially over with the passing of Labor Day yesterday. School buses ventured by our house early this morning.

Even though the temperature is deceiving with sultry weather in the 90’s and humidity to match, back to school days always make me think it’s the beginning of the fall season.

And believe it or not, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that our oldest little grandchild is old enough now to attend preschool. Today is her very first day of three-year-old classes two days a week.

How did that happen? How did she get to be a preschooler already? Wasn’t it just the other day she was a tiny little babe in our arms?

She’s grown in so many ways. Physically getting taller with long curly hair. But oh, that vocabulary has progressed so much. Just the other day she informed me that a certain smell she discovered was “disgusting.”

And the things she knows and can talk about? Amazing.

Life with a three-year-old in the house proves never dull, that’s for certain. She always finds something to do or say that amuses us. Her thirst to understand how things happen or work is insatiable and we are constantly answering “why” questions.

Just the other day, Papa and I took our little one to the supermarket with us while her mama was at work. She couldn’t wait to go and on our way driving to the store, she proclaimed what she thought we needed to purchase. “Blueberries, strawberries, milk…” The list went on.

Once we arrived, she was happy to discover children-sized shopping carts. “I love this store!” she enthused while she pushed her cart around and proceeded to load it up with fruit and vegetables. When we got to the snack aisle, she picked up a bag of Cheetos and put them in her pint-sized cart.

“I want these,” she told us. “I couldn’t find them last weekend.”

She sounded so big. So adult-like. And it boggled my mind.

While shopping, we ran into an acquaintance that I rarely see. She asked if our little one was my grandchild. After affirming she was, I asked this lady if she had grandchildren yet. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree when she said, “Oh yes!”

“Isn’t being a grandparent the greatest thing ever?” I asked. “Oh, it is!!” she exclaimed back.

It truly is joy magnified. You might say my two grandchildren are the apples of my eye.  They are!  We don’t get to see our youngest one because our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter live several hours away in another state so we truly treasure time with her.

But we are blessed to have our oldest grandchild in our lives almost daily and doubly blessed to be able to spend so much time with her, watching her grow and change and develop.

One day, she gathered her Mama, Papa, and her Nana all together and instructed us to sit on the living room couch and hold hands. We complied, wondering what in the world we were in for.

She climbed up onto the piano bench and proceeded to serenade us with her own brand of piano music. Once her concert was over, she hopped off the bench, told us to clap, and took a bow.

What do you think? Were we a rapt audience or were we wrapped around her little finger? Either way, I wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks.

“What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure.” ~ Gene Perret

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com