Motherhood memories

Mother's Day collageRemember back in grade school when the teacher would give an assignment to create an acrostic?

You wracked your brain trying to compose a poem or some type of composition where you used the first letters of a name or word to form a line of other words describing the vertical word or name.

Like the one I composed above. Thoughts of MOTHERMemories Of The Happy times Easily Remembered.

Mother’s Day is slated on the calendar for this coming Sunday. And as usual, this holiday honoring our moms always brings forth a tidal wave of memories for me.

This month marks a very special page in my book, not just because of Mother’s Day but because three special women in my life were born during the merry month of May.

One was my own mother. Another was Papa’s (my husband’s) mother. And the third was my first child, who being born just 45 minutes before it actually became Mother’s Day, bestowed the title of mother upon me.

So once May rolls around on the yearly calendar, sweet memories always leisurely float their way to the surface of the ocean of my mind.

Memories like my mother fixing a tiny tea party for a childhood friend and myself when I was around four years of age and the scent of fresh, clean soap when my mother held me close.

Memories of my mother-in-law, who was more of a mother-in-love and herself the mom of three sons, confiding to me that she considered me her daughter and the surprising day she gifted a ring, given to her by my father-in-law and one she wore each day, to me.

Memories of holding my first sweet-smelling baby in the labor and delivery recovery room after giving birth and listening as my brand new daughter immediately stopped crying when the nurse placed her on my chest next to my wildly beating and excited heart.

Memories. Happy, joyous times but also bittersweet moments as well.

Memories like the one of my beloved mother lying in her hospital room succumbing to that dreaded disease – cancer – and me being the last one to leave her side one evening. As I leaned over and kissed the cheek of the one who had held and kissed me in comfort and love so many times before, she lovingly took my hand in hers and whispered in my ear, “Pray for me.”

Memories of one last long-distance phone call to my dear mother-in-law as she soon would breathe her last breath. And the question, which was most pressing on her wandering mind, for me:  “When are you coming home?”

Memories of bringing my little one into this world without my husband by my side while he was serving his country in a land on the other side of the globe.  And memories of that sweet, tiny baby growing up into the loveliest of daughters, setting off on life’s adventures far away from her home and her mama. 

Memories that make me smile. Memories that make me laugh. And yes, memories that make tears well up in my eyes and cause a catch in my throat. They all are memories of motherhood.

May memories.

“The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.” ~ Sydney J. Harris

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Family blessings

blogIMG_9695I find myself writing frequently about family because it’s a topic near to my heart. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the close-knit family I have and it grieves my heart for those who don’t have that blessing.

During the almost 40 years of marriage to the Papa of this empty nest, we lived over half of those years away from our parents and siblings.  So those times we actually were able to spend with our families created special memories we hold dear.

Because of that, we tried our hardest to create a sense of family togetherness with our three children.  We made it a point to attend events together as a family whether it be a Little League baseball game or a musical choir concert.

Papa and I attempted to instill in our three that family means supporting and loving one another no matter what because so much of the time, it was just the five of us alone. Our children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins all lived too far away from us to be part of our daily lives.

Long distance phone calls were the only means we had to stay in touch back then, along with the occasional trips back “home” or when family came to visit us.

So gatherings with the extended family became precious because they were so few.

And now, it seems that history is repeating itself. Two of our adult children and their spouses live several hours away from Papa and me. Again, time spent together is such a blessing – truly something memories are made of – especially now that we have two adorable grandchildren in our family.

This past Easter weekend, Papa and I loaded up the car, left the empty nest, and headed west to our son and daughter-in-law’s lovely home to celebrate the holiday.  Our oldest daughter and son-in-law traveled a couple hours from their home to join us as well. Unfortunately, our other daughter and first little grandchild couldn’t be there with us and their presence was sorely missed.

But we were grateful for the time most of us got to spend together this Easter.

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How many people does it take to make a baby smile??

Loving and cuddling our newest grandbaby, snapping family photos, recalling funny family stories, taking a walk as a family to the nearby park, the guys’ skeet shooting outing, sitting together on the deck one evening just conversing, preparing and cooking meals in the kitchen together, attending church to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. 

Those were the highlights of the weekend.  Those moments don’t sound exciting but they fill my heart with such bliss.

And make me feel so very blessed. Isn’t that what a family should be? A true blessing. This family gathering was my special Easter blessing. 

“What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.” ~ Robert Brault

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Swiftly fly the years

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Our son with his newborn baby girl

Our son, our last born, celebrates a birthday this week. When I think of him, I smile and remember what a surprise he was when he emerged in that delivery room.  A boy! We had expected another girl and only had a girl’s name chosen.

But surprise! The doctor announced, “It’s a boy!” and we were actually shocked. The one thing I remember saying to Papa, who was right by my side through labor and delivery, after our son’s arrival was, “But he doesn’t have a name!”

We deliberated awhile and finally chose the name that my own father suggested.  It is a good, solid name. And I blinked and that baby boy grew up and turned out to be a good, solid man.

When I stop to think about the stage of life he’s in now (almost to his 30’s), the lyrics to the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof automatically come to my mind:

Is this the little girl I carried, 
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older, 
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty, 
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days.

When did that little boy who played with Legos, cars, and Star Wars toys as well as every sport that came his way, the son who made his parents proud with all his accomplishments, grow to be so tall?

And now after all the sunrises and sunsets that have passed, he is a parent himself.

He and our lovely daughter-in-love just had their first baby – our precious second granddaughter – right before Christmas. How can it be that baby that I once held in my arms – my last one – is now all grown up and holding his own beloved little one?

Because the days, just like in that song, do flow by swiftly.  And the years follow in suit.

My dad used to tell me how quickly time flew by for him in his 90 years on earth. When I was a youngster, it seemed that time passed by slowly. 

A friend and I were just discussing this recently. How when we were girlhood friends, we couldn’t wait for school to be left out for summer recess or we couldn’t wait until Christmas.  Or when we couldn’t wait to become teenagers. Then we couldn’t wait to drive. Then we couldn’t wait to graduate from high school. And then we couldn’t wait until we graduated from college….got married…had a career…or a family….or….. 

We just couldn’t wait to grow up! 

Before we knew it, we were grown up, our children became adults, our parents passed away, and we found ourselves to be the older generation. And now we wish time would slow down.

Just like that. [snaps fingers] Time goes by. And continues to do so.  Which is why it’s so important to make the most of our time before it runs out.

“Time passes so slowly if you are unaware of it and so quickly if you are aware of it.”~ Marc Bolan

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Still being merry

blogimg_9214-2I know. Be merry?

The date on the calendar reads January 24th.  And the Christmas holiday is long over.  So why am I posting about Christmas when the month of February is looming right around the next corner?

Our family has been making merry for almost two months now. We are one of those families that start decorating for the holiday the day after Thanksgiving. Out come all of the Christmas totes and boxes of decorations, the tree goes up, and Christmas carols and songs ring through the house.

This year, Papa, middle daughter, and I outdid ourselves with lights and décor because Little One (our almost 2-year-old granddaughter) delighted in it all. Each morning upon awakening, the first thing she asked us to do was plug in all (and I do mean all) of the Christmas lights.

We celebrated Christmas with her and our daughter (her mommy) a few days before the actual holiday because of daughter’s job and other circumstances beyond our control. 

Christmas Eve found Papa and Mama at our church late night candlelight service and on Christmas Day, we celebrated yet again with my sister and brother-in-law at their home.

Then just a few days later, we hosted another Christmas celebration and dinner in our own home with our oldest daughter and son-in-law and their sweet, newly married Australian friends who had traveled to the United States for their honeymoon.

And the season of giving just kept on giving.

Just recently, we celebrated Christmas yet again at our son and daughter-in-law’s home in one of the states next door.  Because granddaughter number two (who will be known henceforth in this blog as Little Two) was making her arrival just a few days before the holiday, we had already planned to delay our family gathering until the new parents and baby could get a bit adjusted to their exhausting new lives.

So a weekend celebration in January was planned for all of us to converge on their home and provide all of the meals and fun and exchange Christmas gifts to celebrate not only the birth of our Savior but the dear new little life that has joined our family.

What better reason than that to be merry? Whether it be in December, January, or all year long, Christmas should stay in our hearts.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” ~ Dale Evans

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Our family Christmas present

blogimg_8922Just the other day Papa and I received a most wonderful early Christmas gift – one all wrapped up with love. 

We’ve actually been expecting this present for several months and knew the arrival of the gift would be sometime before Christmas.

The givers were also the receivers. And while they gave this lovely present to us, they in turn received the same miraculous gift from a gracious and loving God.

What was this wonderful present for both receivers and givers?

Our second grandbaby is that most precious gift.

When son and daughter-in-love texted us from the hospital to say our newest granddaughter was arriving into this world that evening, exhilaration and joy overflowed in this empty nest.

Since they live several hours away from us, we had to experience this exciting news and the impending arrival via cell phone texts and photos.

A lot of text messages flew rapidly through cyberspace between the hospital in the state next door, a state down south, and our home right here. Aunties and uncle were anxiously awaiting the news as well.

Technology is something to be very thankful for in situations like this! We could see that mommy and baby made it through the birth process well and that son is one proud daddy.

This new fresh from God baby girl is beautiful.  She has been given a beautiful name to match.  And her parents are over the moon with love for her. 

And so is this Nana even though I haven’t yet held her in my arms to whisper in her ear how very much she is loved.

Years ago shortly after the birth of our son, a friend gave us a picture to hang on his nursery wall which included a quote by poet Carl Sandburg. I’ve never forgotten that inscription and you can read that line Sandburg wrote below.

It’s just as poignant to me today on the occasion of our granddaughter’s birth as it was when her daddy became a baby blessing to us in this thing we call life.   

Our family’s Christmas blessing arrived just in time to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

Welcome, little one!  And thank you, Lord, for this blessing of life.

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” ~ Carl Sandburg

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Birthday blessing

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Uncle T delighting his niece

He met our daughter on a bus.

He was on his annual short-term mission trip to Honduras with his church.  She was on her first ever trip with her church.

They sat together on a school bus traveling to the next site where they would be the hands and feet of Jesus. And a friendship bloomed. 

After they returned to their separate states, their long-distance friendship kindled over the next couple of years until the sparks of romance became a flame.  

We met this funny, endearing, and godly young man not long after that. And it’s safe to say he not only won over our daughter’s heart but our family’s as well.

What can I write about this wonderful young man? Not nearly enough.

He has a kind heart and compassion for others. He lovingly supports and encourages our daughter in all things. He treats her like she is the most special gift and makes her coffee every morning – even when they are visiting us here in our empty nest. 

He tickles her funny bone and makes her laugh. He comforts her when she cries. He prays with her each day. And he’s willing and excited to travel the world with her, experiencing new adventures along the way.

He treats us – her parents and family – with love and respect and genuine affection. And I know we have his parents to thank for that. They raised a most wonderful son who is the perfect complement to our daughter.

He has stepped up to the plate by being a godly influence and general all around crazy fun uncle to our little grand-daughter who giggles with delight at his antics and cries ‘more, more’ when he chases her around the house.  She loves her Uncle Tay-Tay for his funny faces and the smiles and shrieks of glee he produces in her. (see photo above)

He is my son-in-love.  And today – amidst the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season – is his birthday.

I don’t want it to be forgotten or glossed over because this man is so very special.  I want the world to know he is the best son-in-law any parents of a daughter could ask for. 

Our daughter waited a long time for a strong man of faith to come into her life. God blessed her with this young man as her husband four years ago.  And God blessed us by making him a cherished part of our family.

Happy Birthday, T!

May God continue to guide and direct your path. Thank you for all the ways you lovingly participate in our family in both joyous and difficult times. We love you!

“You may not have been born into our family, but you seem to have been born to be a part of it.” ~ unknown

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Tradition

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Our family Christmas Eve tradition

Tradition.

That word reminds me of a scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the character Tevye says, “And how do we keep our balance? I can tell you in one word. Tradition.”

He continues by saying, “Because of our tradition, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years…You may ask, how did this tradition get started. I’ll tell you. I don’t know but it’s a tradition.”

Traditions. We all have them and they pop to the surface and call attention to themselves at Christmas time. If your family is anything like mine, there are just certain Christmas traditions you don’t change or mess with.

Some of those traditions were passed down through our family from one generation to another. Some are traditions Papa and I started ourselves and our grown children say it’s just not Christmas without them. You know, keeping the season balanced, I guess.

I’d like to share just a few of our Christmas traditions with you. Like Tevye though, I don’t know how some of them started.

Bird ornament. When I was a little girl, I remember that my mom always had some kind of bird ornament hanging on the Christmas tree.  I don’t know why, but I recently discovered that such an ornament represents happiness and joy.  I do know that if you look near the top of our tree, you will see a tiny little white bird trimmed in red with wings outstretched. 

Hanging mistletoe.  Again as a small child, I remember mistletoe, which is not native to our area, hanging in a doorway of our family home.  I always giggled when someone kissed beneath it and as a teenage girl, I longed for someone to kiss under that greenery.  You just might receive a little peck on the cheek at our house when you stand beneath the mistletoe in the hallway by our front door. 

Candlelight service. One of my most favorite traditions is attending our church service at 11 p.m. Christmas Eve welcoming in the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child at midnight by candlelight while singing Silent Night.

Opening one gift.  Our children actually started this tradition of choosing and opening one gift only on Christmas Eve. When we lived in other areas of the country away from our families, packages would arrive by mail and rest under the tree.  Our kids had a hard time waiting until Christmas Day to open them, so we acquiesced to their pleading and allowed them to open just one the night before.

Christmas dinner menu.  Certain foods must be served or my kids are disappointed. In addition to the baked, glazed ham and twice-baked potatoes, there must be one of two salads – either their favorite frog eye salad or a special molded, multi-layered rainbow colored jello salad that takes forever to make. Growing up, Christmas dinner just wasn’t complete without my mom’s 24-hour salad – a tart fruit salad with homemade mayonnaise. And I believe I was the only member of the family who didn’t like it. So that’s why our traditional salad is different.

Cookies. There must be cookies – lots of Christmas cookies.  They can include old favorites like my mom’s tea cakes, peanut butter blossoms (Papa’s favorites), and M&M cookies, or new recipes but the tray must be full.  And there MUST be sugar cookies in the shapes of stars, trees, Santa, snowmen, and bells, and they must be iced and decorated.  This is a tradition that my kids loved growing up because they got to help cut out the shapes and decorate with scads of sugars and candies.

Candles in the windows. Even Papa inquires whether we’re placing candles in our windows for the Christmas season and we do, every year. Each window in the front of our home is lit up by one solitary electric candle.  This tradition came from my family. When I was young, my mother placed red wreaths, made out of some cellophane type of material, in each of our windows. In the center of those wreaths was an electric candle. I’ve heard that a candle in the window in colonial times meant you were welcome in that place. For us, it also represents welcoming the Christ Child into our lives.

Advent calendar.  Not just any old advent calendar marking the days until Christmas, but one that when you open each day’s door, you find a chocolate candy goodie waiting for you. There’s one in the kitchen right now that little one (our nearly two-year-old granddaughter) is enjoying.  A tradition she’s learning about already.

Chocolate oranges. Somewhere along the line, we started the tradition of having dark chocolate oranges – a chocolate candy flavored and shaped like an orange that you break apart into ‘slices’ for the holiday. As a child, there was always an orange in my stocking and I think it stemmed from that.  Just the other day, our middle daughter arrived home and said, “guess what I bought?” Yep, a chocolate orange to savor on Christmas. Another tradition we will probably be passing down to our granddaughter.

Christmas Eve sundaes. This one is an absolute must and our grown kids always ask to make sure I have all the ingredients for the special sundaes we eat only on Christmas Eve. Unlike some of our traditions, I know exactly where this one came from and how it started.

Back when Papa and Mama were young married folk with only one child, we lived in Oklahoma. Papa’s parents came to visit us for the holiday and we took them to Tulsa for a sight-seeing trip. 

We visited a quaint little ice cream shop – I can’t remember the name of it but do remember the sundaes we ate there. And those sundaes were recreated into our family Christmas Eve sundaes which we serve every single year after dinner.

Our sundaes consist of scoops of green chocolate mint chip ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup in between the scoops. Whipped cream tops them off garnished by a red maraschino cherry, red and green sugar sprinkles, and either a mini candy cane or peppermint stick.  All served in a fancy glass as shown in my photo above.

Traditions. Good things with good memories.What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

“At the heart of every family tradition is a meaningful experience.” ~ unknown

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com