Spring’s bubbling up all over

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“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (English poet, 1792-1822)

It’s finally here. My second favorite season. Spring.

I fling wide open the door and grass so green it personifies the Crayola crayon that bears its name greets me. Happy sunshine-faced yellow dandelions (I know, they’re weeds, but to me they are a welcome sign of spring) profusely dot our 2.25 acre yard.

It’s spring! Perennials push their way up to the surface preparing to explode into colorful blooms.  I step outside and breathe in deeply the welcoming aroma of freshly cut grass and clean, pure spring breezes. Before I know it, the tantalizing scent of blossoming peonies will permeate the air as well.

It’s spring! And I suddenly emerge from my self-induced cocoon of winter hibernation with a burst of energy like a newborn foal. Okay, maybe I’m not as limber and frisky as one, but I do experience a surge of get-up-and-go.

I believe when the Almighty created this world He knew we would need a season of rest and dormancy like winter and following it, a season of vitality and a fresh new start to life once more. And I’m so grateful for it.

Last weekend, my spring really kicked into high gear. Even though the temperature was still a mite chilly, armed with a kneeling pad, trowels, shovel, and rake, I eagerly donned a sweatshirt and some gardening gloves and jaunted outside to attack some chores that desperately needed attention. 

It turned out to be perfect weather for digging up the overgrown perennial flower bed, thinning out some plants, clipping away the old and hauling it to the compost pile in order to welcome in the new. 

The sun warmed my back as our daughter and Little One, our granddaughter, ventured out to help me accomplish my goal.

Spring! Little One can’t wait to play outside every day. And spring is ever joyful when sharing it with Little One.

Even though there is much on the outside to-do list and projects galore around the empty nest, as the days grow longer and the sunshine becomes more abundant, there’s plenty of time to channel my new-found energy into play time with her too.

To watch bubbles soar and float through the air as she blows them. To cheer her on as she races her ride-on toys up and down the sidewalk. To watch her let sand sift through her tiny fingers in the sandbox.

To listen to her squeal of delight over touching an earthworm Nana just found in the dirt. To help her pick the tiny wild violets, known to us as johnny-jump-ups, springing up amidst the blades of grass.

Each moment creates a fresh, new experience to remember and that bubbles over in my heart. Just like spring.

“I am so fresh in soul and spirit that life gushes and bubbles around me in a thousand springs.” ~ Robert Schumann

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Of butterflies and raspberries

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playing with an inchworm

Grandparenting. It is so much more than I ever expected.

Recently, our daughter (and Little One’s mommy) resumed her career as a hospital nurse and this Nana was transported back into the world of providing care for a toddler full-time on the days daughter works.

I find it interesting that the everyday occurrences that drove me crazy when my own children were this age– spilt milk messes, toys strewn willy nilly across the floor making it an obstacle course, constant activity except during nap times, sticky finger smudges everywhere  – don’t bother me.

Is it that grandparents are wiser than we were as parents?  Is it that we recognize that we only have so much time with our sweet grandchildren so we don’t ‘sweat the small stuff’ anymore? Or have we finally reached the age where we just don’t care as much about appearances but relish time spent together with our child’s child?

The former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani once said, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”

This statement rings true for me and not just the cookie part. Pure unconditional love that just about makes my heart explode is what I’ve felt for this grandchild since I cradled her in my arms shortly after her birth. I find humor in things she does that I never would have laughed at as a young mom. I recognize that I’m much more patient with Little One than I ever was with my children.

No longer do I worry about whether the bathroom gets cleaned or the laundry is finished like I did when my kids were small. Instead I willingly spend all day just playing and exploring the world with my granddaughter.

And she is one busy bee. So inquisitive and so full of wanting to learn and do and examine and discover. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking that perhaps I didn’t spend enough time doing the same things with my children. And I wonder if that’s the thing – grandparents are given a second chance to ‘get it right’ with our grandchildren.

Since her mama leaves for work before the crack of dawn, Little One wakes up to find Nana lifting her from her crib. She definitely misses her mommy because she inquires about her upon awakening in the mornings, after naps, and often during the day by asking ‘mum?’ I tell her mommy’s at work, Little One nods her head and says yes, and I reassure her that mama will be home later.

Nana and Little One have settled into a nice routine. Last week we had beautiful fall weather – warm, sunny days when we could be outside playing and exploring in the mornings after the temperature warmed up and the dew on the grass dried. 

After a bit of time playing in the sand box, we went for walks around our 2.25 acre yard and made visits to the garden where Roma tomatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, and sunflowers were still producing.

She enjoyed picking tomatoes and wanted me to lift her up high so she could gaze into the sunflowers’ cheery faces. From there we ventured to the raspberry bushes to pick this last crop for the year.  Little One loves raspberries and eats them faster than I can pick them.

One day on our way back to the house with our bounty, we spied a butterfly which had lit upon the grass.  She pointed to it and as I told her to be gentle, she crouched down and touched the delicate creature.

I couldn’t believe it didn’t fly away immediately but it stayed in place while she touched it yet again. When it took off soaring into the air, floating and flitting around us, Little One laughed happily and clapped her hands. Such a simple thing that brought such merriment. 

Another day we examined the leaves on our maple trees and saw that they are starting to turn from green to red and also that some leaves had already fallen on the ground. As she picked up some of the fallen leaves, I noticed a tiny green inchworm.  She giggled with delight when the little critter crawled on her hand.

It’s a full and, to be honest, tiring day taking care of our Little One but watching her eyes light up over a new discovery gives me so much joy.  She doesn’t miss a thing whether it’s spotting an airplane soaring overhead, watching birds chow down at the bird feeder after we fill it, or an ant crawling across the sidewalk.

I’m just so blessed and grateful to be able to spend this time with her and nothing compares to the hugs and kisses our sweet girl bestows on me.

I wouldn’t trade being a Nana for anything in the world and come December, I’ll have two sweet grandbabies to love. Double perfection. 

“Truth be told, being a grandma is as close as we ever get to perfection. The ultimate warm sticky bun with plump raisins and nuts. Clouds nine, ten, and eleven.” – Bryna Nelson Paston

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The street where you live

blogimg_1155-2You might be able to tell by my mindset that I spend a lot of my waking hours with my sweet grandchild.  

Why? Because as I reread the WordPress post from this past summer announcing day two’s theme in the Developing Your Eye photography challenge was ‘street,’ the first thought that crossed my mind was a familiar line –  “What’s the word on the street?”

What street came to my mind? Not my own street because I technically live on a state country road not a city street. Not a street in my hometown either. Or a famous street that I once walked upon like New York City’s Wall Street or Broadway.

No, only one street surfaced to the top of my thought ocean.  A street where the “word on the street” is specific for a particular group of people. A street that only exists on a television set.

Sesame Street that is.

Long ago in a different house in a different part of the country, my three wee ones would sit glued to the television getting an early education in numbers, letters, colors, and all kinds of exciting things in this world by watching Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster.  Puppets interacting with humans on the street. A whimsical place called Sesame Street. They loved it back then.

And now, I feel like I’ve come full circle because our Little One is enthralled with Elmo of Sesame Street fame. When the show comes on our PBS station after her beloved Daniel Tiger, I hear the theme song question I heard so many years ago, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”

Often on this show for the preschool crowd, a segment called “Word on the Street” introduces new vocabulary words to young viewers.  Catchy little idea that seems to have ensconced itself into my brain.

So there you have it. Now days, my mind drives down a preschooler’s street.

What’s the word on my street today? Bricks. You don’t see too many streets still paved with bricks any more but I managed to capture this photo of one located in a small picturesque town in the state next door.  Brick paved streets are a throwback to days gone by but I remember them well in my own little hometown.

Just like I remember those days of watching Sesame Street with my children. And now those days of “street” watching have returned once more. Maybe streets paved with bricks will make a comeback too.

So that’s the word on the street from this Nana. When it comes to Sesame Street, I’ll stay on that street as long as Little One lives there.

“People stop and stare
They don’t bother me,
For there’s nowhere else on earth
That I would rather be.
Let the time go by,
I won’t care if I
Can be here on the street where you live.” ~ Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics from My Fair Lady)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Grandparents in training

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“Fixing” the piano bench

Do as I say not as I do.  

You may have grown up in a home where that was the norm.  Parents doled out dos and don’ts to their children but didn’t adhere to those standards themselves.  

Call it a double standard.  Call it ineffective parenting.  Call it whatever you want, a lot of human beings grow up in those kind of homes.

But I didn’t. I consider myself blessed that I had parents who were good role models, who practiced what they preached, who raised me with a strong sense of right and wrong and doing good vs. evil. 

They followed the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you shall have others do unto you.

That moral principle is one that Jesus himself taught in the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament book of Matthew, Chapter 7: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

My parents were law abiding, respectful of others, hard and conscientious workers, just plain good people.  They were also believers in Christ and took my sisters and me to church and Sunday School every Sunday to learn more about the Savior. 

Mom was the paramount homemaker, mother, and caretaker creating a home filled with lots of love, beauty, and delicious cooking, yet she expected good manners, obedience, and exemplary behavior from her children. I learned to strive to be the best mom I could be from her and I can only hope I succeeded. 

Dad never once complained about his responsibility to provide a good living for his family, including my grandparents, and he served people with respect and goodwill not just at his work but in our church and also in our community by holding an elected office in our local township for many, many years.

So yes, I had excellent role models. Papa and I endeavored to model good character and strong and genuine faith for our three offspring while they were growing up and we continue to attempt to be the parents God has called us to be.

But now, our roles have changed. Our children are adults and while we can still give advice when needed or opinions when asked, they must make their own decisions and their own way in the world. It’s their turn to demonstrate what they are made of.

Yet our influence has not ended. We’re grandparents for the very first time and I am even more keenly aware how we impact this dear little one who is a major part of our lives.

Our sweet little girl is growing up.  No longer an infant, she is now over 14 months old – a toddler – and learning new things each and every day.  She watches us keenly and she imitates what we do, the noises we make, what we say, how we react, and how we treat others.

So often we perform what seems like a mundane everyday task and little one, after seeing it one time, imitates what we’ve done. 

Just the other evening, I asked Papa to repair the bottom of the piano bench, which was coming loose after all of those years of cramming too much written music into it, and tighten up a wobbly bench leg.

He gathered his ball peen hammer and screwdriver, emptied the bench of the music books, flipped the bench over, and hammered the staples back into the wood. Little one was right beside him watching every step of the way.

When he turned away for an instant to grab the screwdriver, she climbed upon the bench bottom, picked up the lightweight hammer, and started ‘fixing’ the bench too.

She is a quick learner. She notices something one time and she’s on to it. She learned some baby sign language in no time. She follows directions (like ‘go find your shoes’) adeptly.  She amazes me.  And yet, this realization also gives me pause for a little trepidation.

Little one is learning how to live life by observing all that we do.  Along with her Mama, we have a huge responsibility to help steer her in the right direction.

And that direction is to teach her what is good, what is right, what is moral, but even more importantly, what is godly.

It’s a big job for any parent or grandparent in training. But we have an excellent training manual.

God’s Holy Word. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV) Or a more modern way to look at it might be the same verse taken from The Message: “Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”

It worked for me. My parents trained me for life and I’m still sticking to the way I was trained. The Guidebook for Life (the Bible) kept both Papa and me on the right path. As we age and enter into this grandparenting stage of life and beyond, it guarantees us we won’t get lost.  

We will never find our way in material possessions and the things of this world for that path is not the best choice. Instead we have a legacy – one of noble character and ardent faith – that we strive for and that’s the most vital thing we hope to pass on to our children and now our grandchildren.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children or grandchildren is not money or other material things…but rather a legacy of character and faith.” ~ Billy Graham

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com