Not Your Average Pet Store – This is An Experience!

Spring break this year found my both my daughter and her husband out of town on their jobs leaving my husband and I to take care of – and entertain – our eight-year-old granddaughter.

What to do?

We played school with the animals.  My husband bought these animals at the local zoo one year when she was four years old.  From the very beginning she wanted Grandma to speak for each of the animals.  She would line them up and ask them questions and I would answer as if I was that particular animal.  As she got older I thought we would stop playing with them but the games have only changed.

Now we put them in groups according to whether they have colorful coats with spots or stripes or dull coats, whether they have fur or skin, whether they are a carnivore or not.

They have all been given names.  This week each of the animals had to write a report for school about how they spent their spring break.

  • Ellie Elephant went to gymnastics camp
  • Barbara Bear went with her family to the park
  • Win Warthog took a road trip to see a lighthouse
  • Hippy Hippo went to the zoo
  • Giraffe Boy spent a day at the mall
  • Charlie Cheetah went to Grandma and Papa’s house
  • Rhiny Rhino made some gitter slime
  • Goes Gorilla visited the Medieval Times in Chicago
  • Lexie Lion put together a hydraulic claw
  • Tom Tiger went to Taekwondo camp
  • Zoe Zebra had a date night with Mommy
  • Macey Moose made a trip to see her BFF

Then we did puzzles.  She is becoming pretty good at puzzles and we did a couple – one with 300 pieces and one with 500 pieces.  She loved the one with all the different dogs.

DSCF0036

Papa took her shopping and she got some “hot” bright yellow sunglasses because she insisted that her eyes were really hurting bad in the sunshine.

Being new to the area I did a search on the internet for places to take children and came up with this wonderful and unusual pet store.  This is not a pet store with lots of dogs and cats.  Rather, it is full of exotic pets I have never seen in a pet store.

From Eclectus a bird native to New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and the Maluku Islands to Caiques small, stocky parrots with very bright colors who can live as long as 40 years and everything in between they have it.

eclectus

Eclectus – beautiful bright green

There are rows and rows of exoctic fish.

And seahorses, shrimp, bearded dragons and much, much more.

 

They say “It’s not just a store, it’s an experience.”  They are right.  If you live near the Lansing, Michigan area you must check this store out.

 

Now I Am “Great!”

This past weekend I held my great-grandson in my arms for the first time.  He is just seven months old and lives with his parents in North Carolina – much too far away from this great-grandmother.

This triggered so many memories and emotions.  The overwhelming and instant love I felt when they placed his grandmother – my daughter – in my arms for the first time.  Struck by the responsibility I faced to care for this life that God had given me and my husband.  Amazed at the strong love that filled my heart at the sight of her beautiful little face.  Excited about what waited for us in the coming years as I would watch her grow and teach her to walk, to read, play with her in the park, take her shopping.  All the plans I had.

Thinking I had years ahead of me to spend with her, I had no idea how quickly she would grow up, fall in love and begin a new life.  A life where I no longer had that responsibility to care for her or teach her.  A time when she would no longer be my “little girl” but a grown woman and we would have to readjust our relationship.

But this time was also an exciting one.  Watching her fall in love, seeing her make her own way in the world.  The best part was when once again a little baby came into my life.

This time it was a grandson.  I thought being a mother was great – but holding that little boy – I thought nothing could top that.

I loved the years with this little guy.  Taking him to get ice cream or just walking after a rain and stepping in all the puddles we would find – all the time I spent with him was golden.

Too quickly he grew up.  Once again I repeated the history I had with his mother.  Watching him graduate from college, fall in love and begin his life as an adult.

Now once again I have experienced such a magical moment.  Holding my grandson’s son!  Amazing that little guy I had never seen before except in pictures, now was here with me – and I fell head over heels in love with him.

As the weekend passed by way too soon and he is now off to North Carolina again, I am thinking of my own parents and grandparents.  How life goes by so quickly but also how blessed it is to have family – past, present, future.

It is doubtful I will live to see this little guy’s children.  But I hope the memory of me will live on and stories about me will be shared with him.

I have worked some on my genealogy finding stories of great grandparents.  This visit has made me want even more to know more about those who went before me.   I will be working more in earnest once again to find and treasure their stores.

Past, present and future.  As I come toward the end of my own life I realize more than ever that in the end it is family that matters most.

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.”– Pam Brown

Just when grandparents think their work is finished someone calls them “great.”

 

 

One Lesson and She is an Authority

My granddaughter turned eight years old this month.  In her eight years she has kept me laughing with her wisdom.

One of the funniest memories is when she was four years old and was trying to get her Papa to make a decision about whether he would take her to one of her favorite places – the John Deere Pavilion.

We still laugh at her impatience waiting for his answer.  You can read that story at

Say Yes or Say No –

Recently we bought her some bird houses to paint for her birthday.  Her new home has lots of trees and we thought she would enjoy not only painting them, but watching the birds this summer as they made a next in the houses.

When she stayed all night with us recently her Papa helped her paint one of the smaller ones instructing her in how to mix paints to get a new color, how to hold her brush and the right strokes to make.

Painting With Papa

We left the other houses at her home for her to paint later.

Our daughter got the houses out with the paint and began to keep her some instructions on painting.

She promptly told her mother she did not need any help because

Papa taught me all I need to know.

One lesson with Papa and she is now an authority on painting.  Love this little girl!

 

 

 

Painting With Papa

So – school was cancelled and we have our littlest granddaughter for an a couple of days.  I listed some ideas we could do on a cold winter day.

What To Do On a Cold Winter Day

Well baby it is cold outside!

Right now at 6:00 pm it is -7 with a windchill of -34.

What a shame we cannot go outside because we have lots of snow and could build a great snowman.

snow

We have played games, watched some videos on the Bible.  These videos are made for kids and she is loving them and learning a lot about what is in the Bible.

This afternoon I think was the best fun for her when her Papa sat down and gave her a painting lesson as they painted a bird house.

dscf0001(1)dscf0002

Her papa used to paint years ago.  As he became a pastor he laid that talent aside.  Even in retirement he kept saying he was going to start painting again but his large hosta garden kept him busy in the summer and somehow he never seemed to get motivated in the winter.

Moving to Michigan he has renewed his interest in painting.  I think just moving to a totally new environment, having to adjust to everything new may have caused him to return to his love of painting.

Whatever it was I’m glad to see his renewed interest in art.

dscf0026dscf0031(1)

And now he is teaching our little granddaughter how to mix paint to create new colors, how to use palette for the paints and even how to hold her paint brush and make the right strokes for the best effect.

So neat to see her really interested in this.

Who knows?  Start with bird houses – what next?

And she is excited because after supper we are going to watch a show she loves – Wheel of Fortune.  At just 7 she already loves word games.

wheel

So – let it snow!  We are building memories inside!

What To Do On a Cold Winter Day

Baby it’s cold outside.  Right now it’s 7 degrees with wind chill at -5 degrees.

cold

But it is going to get worse.  The whole Midwest is getting hit this week by an Arctic blast of snow and cold air.  By Wednesday our high will be -2 degrees with wind chill factors unbelievable.

This is when I am glad to be retired.  No getting out in the freezing temperatures.  No walking on icy parking lots.

But what do I do being stuck inside all week?  Some ideas I’m planning.

  • making Irish coffee

irish.jpg

  • binge watching all six seasons of Downton Abbey

downton.jpg

  • playing scrabble with a super scrabble board

scrabble 3

  • reading, reading, reading

books

That’s my plans for the week.

However, I may not do any of that.

My daughter is going to be out of the country on a mission trip and her husband will be working.  With the weather forecast it appears there may be no school this week.

So – I may have my granddaughter all week.

When she comes to visit, everything else stops.  My only purpose when she is here is to be her playmate.  We color, we play school, we play the piano, we make all kinds of creations with play-doh, we read.

Her mother tells me I should say “no” once in a while and have her play by herself.  I always say I will but when she looks at me and says “please, Grandma” I can’t resist.

Part of the reason I can’t say no is I remember my older grandchildren and how quickly they have grown up, moved on with their adult lives.  I know how quickly this “grandchild of my old age” will also be grown and playing with grandma will not be such a high priority.

So – what I will do on this cold wintry week really depends on whether school is cancelled or not.

cancel

For all my friends and family in the Midwest, stay warm this week.

 

 

 

 

 

Conversations with Grandkids

Thanksgiving – a time with family.  Over the years the family gathering has gotten smaller as kids grow up, move away, have kids of their own.  But at this time of year I always remember some of the great interactions with my grandchildren.

There was Robert:No automatic alt text available.

225152_1034644719850_5600_n

Growing up Robert loved to talk.  I always tried to give him my undivided attention.  Picking him up after school one day, I had a stressful day at work and all I wanted was some quiet time.  As soon as he got in the car, he began talking away non-stop.  Our conversation went like this:

ME:  Robert, Grandma has had a busy day and I just need some quiet time.  I really am not up to giving you my attention and listening.

ROBERT:  That’s okay Grandma.  You don’t have to listen.  I just want to talk.

And Abby:

 

10628563_10204027232394599_1750052711916440354_n

Sitting on our kitchen counter making cookies with her Aunt, Abby was chattering away non-stop (does talking a lot run in my family?).  Her grandpa came in the kitchen and gave her “the look.”  She responded:

ABBY:  Am I aggravating you Grandpa?

GRANDPA:  As a matter of fact, you are.

ABBY:  Good!

Then Matthew:

230032_1034664400342_2877_n

The one that makes me still laugh so much is the conversation we had with Matthew after he came home from kindergarten roundup.

ME:  Matthew, what do you think?  Are you going to like going to school?

MATTHEW:  It is going to be great.

ME:  What do you think is going to make it great?

MATTHEW:  All the girls are going to love me!

These 3 are all grown up now (I just posted the pictures of them that I love best).

But our youngest granddaughter, Zoe, has given us some of the funniest conversations.

10511411_10204027237394724_6973543781904132532_o

ZOE:  Grandma, tell me a story about Jesus when He was a boy.

ME:  Okay.  When Jesus was a little boy.

ZOE:  No, Grandma.  Say “Once upon a time.”

And the one my husband loves the most is when she was only three years old.  Waiting for our food at a restaurant my husband excused himself to use the restroom.  As he was halfway between our table and the men’s room Zoe calls out in a loud voice:

ZOE:  Grandpa, it’s the one with “M” on the door.

Grandchildren, what a blessing.  Tomorrow I will miss being with most of them.  Living in Michigan, I have grandchildren in Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee and Missouri.

But my memories will keep me laughing.

And since Zoe will be at my house, I’m certain we will have some more interesting conversations to remember.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  If you are with family, enjoy and make lots of new memories.  If you cannot be with family, remember and treasure those times you had.

th.jpg

Papa’s Waffles

I’m having waffles in the morning made by my husband.  I know that because our little granddaughter is spending the night with us and she always wants Papa’s waffles for breakfast.  When we go to bed she gives Papa her “cutie” smile and in her “cutie” voice she asks:  

Papa, will you fix waffles in the morning?

Of course he will.  He is such a pushover for that smile and that voice.

I love maple syrup with my waffles with lots and lots of butter.  But my granddaughter calls for grape jelly on her waffles.

After breakfast we will read some books.  And she will insist on reading a Bubble Guppies book.

guppies

Her mother brought this book a few years ago for us to read together.  It is really more a “look and find”  book than a book to read.  She has long outgrown the book as she now reads chapter books well above her grade.

When she first started outgrowing the book she still liked us to do the “look and find” for fun.  I began to get tired of it and tried to encourage her to read other books more in line with her growing knowledge.

My protests became a game and now she always brings this book out with the other books she can read.  We have this conversation:

Me:  No, I am not reading that book again.

She:  Yes we are.

Me:  You are too big for this and I am sick and tired of it.

She:  Yes we are.

Me:  I hate this book

She:  Yes we are.

We argue back and forth until we are both laughing too much to even read.

When we downsized recently to move into a smaller house, I took a lot of her books that she had long outgrown to the local library and bought some new books.  But somehow I just could not give that book away.

I can see us when she is graduating from high school still arguing over reading that book.

Me:  You are graduating from high school.  It is time to quit reading this book.

She:  Yes we are.

Me:  I have done this for years and it’s time to stop.

She:  Yes we are.

Me:  I’m sick of this book.

She:  Yes we are.

And, of course, we will.