Twelve Little Toy Animals, A Little Girl and a Big Imagination

A few years ago my husband and I bought our little granddaughter some toy zoo  animals.

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We assumed she would play with them for a couple of years and then we would pass them on to another small child.  We also assumed she would just play with them by herself.

Were we ever wrong!

From the very beginning she wanted someone to play with her and the animals.  In her imagination, she would take them to McDonald’s or to the playground.  Someone was needed to be their voice and order french fries for them or scream with delight as they climbed the monkey bars.

When Mom and Dad and Grandpa all declined the honor, I became their voice.  Thinking the novelty would wear off soon, I had no idea that four years later I would still be their voice.

Oh, the places we have been.

We started with trips to McDonald’s and to the park, but soon we went to even more interesting places like the museum, the mall and Kids Church.

When she began taking Taw kwon do lessons the animals also went to class.

Then there was school.

Oh the roles I have played!

  • worker at McDonalds
  • worship leader at Kids Church
  • school teacher
  • principal
  • unruly student
  • parent
  • Taw kwon do instructor
  • Taw kwon do student
  • museum curator
  • clerk at Walmart

Oh the places I have been!

  • playground
  • school
  • church
  • museum
  • Nana’s house in Missouri
  • Aunt Beka and Uncle Rob’s house in North Carolina
  • Sierra Leone

The animals have even taken on personalities and we have named them all.

  • Giraffe boy
  • Hippy Hippo
  • Charlie Cheetah
  • Ellie Elephant
  • Winnie Warthog
  • Barbara Bear
  • Ted Tiger
  • Gary Gorilla
  • Ralph Rhino
  • Lexie Lion

And the last two have really become best friends.

  • Zoe Zebra
  • Macey Moose

I think their names and their becoming BFF is probably because my granddaughter is Zoe and her BFF is Macey.  Whatever we are doing, taking a piano lesson, going to McDonald’s or on the playground at recess, these two are always together.

As she grows older the animals come out of their special home (a big plastic box) less and less.  Just when I think I am through being their voice, she pulls them out again and says with a big smile:

Grandma, let’s play with the animals!

To be honest, I do sometimes get a little tired of playing with them.  Yet I know I will miss the day when the animals are never invited out of their box to play with us.

Then, my little girl with her big imagination will be no longer little.

Hey Zoe – let’s play animals!

 

 

 

 

 

The Cycle of Life

My parents died in the same year – Mom in April and Dad in August.  I remember my sisters and I looking at each other and saying “We are now the older generation.”

Until that time we could think of ourselves as young – it was our parents’ and their siblings who were old.

But now that generation is gone and we are the old ones.

Even then, still in our 50’s and 60’s, we did not really feel old.

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But time has passed and we are slowing down.  We look at each other and see the wrinkles, the grey hair, the slower gait and realize we have come to the last chapter in the book.

With that in mind, recently I have seen so many posts on Facebook of the next generation – my daughter, my nieces – becoming grandparents and it has made my heart so happy.

Watching them and their excitement at having grandchildren brings back the memories of that time in my life.  I relive those wonderful days of children and grandchildren.  Now I rejoice in great grandchildren.

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I love this picture of my youngest grandchild.  She is 8 now but this is still a favorite memory!

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When this little grandson was born, doctors were not sure he would live and said if he did he would be a weak little guy.   Today he is 6 foot 6 inches tall and anything but weak or little.  God is good!

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Love this picture of our youngest son with two of his children welcoming their baby sister.  All three are grown up now but still a joy to me.

Seeing their joy, seeing the next generation take the stage – it brings me such satisfaction to know our family will continue on.

Shakespeare said it well:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

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Each stage of life has had its blessings and its difficulties.

Those carefree days of childhood with little or no responsibilities.  Still, there was the pressure to do well in school, trying to “fit in” with the other kids.  Hoping to make friends.

Young adulthood brought the joy of first love and marriage and babies.  What excitement those first years of marriage brought.  Yet, there were sleepless nights with babies who would not stop crying, worries about meeting the bills.  For me that time also brought sorrow as my husband was killed in an accident and I struggled as a single mom with two young girls.

Middle age came.  Finally, jobs were more stable and money problems were less.  The kids were at a age to really enjoy adventures with me and many evenings were spent playing board games, shopping or just “hanging out” together.  For me there was new joy as I found love again with a wonderful man who loved my girls.  However, I began to realize my body was aging.  I could still do what I did in my 20’s but it took me longer and I was many times exhausted by the end of the day.

Now old age has come.  This body refuses to do what it once did.  Not only does it take me longer to walk the mall, I simply cannot shop as long as I once did.  My husband and I love road trips but even those have to be shorter and I am exhausted for days recovering from the trip.  Still, there are joys in this stage.

I can get up before dawn, sit with a cup of coffee and watch the sun raise.  Or, I can turn over in bed, pull the covers over and sleep until long after the sun has risen.  Lunch and dinner can be a gourmet meal with our best china sitting at our dining room table sharing a great conversation with my husband.  Or, we can eat pizza on paper plates while sitting in our recliner and watching a movie.  There is a great deal of freedom to just do whatever I want to do.

Realizing that my days are much fewer than when I started this journey called life, I am more appreciative of each one.  Thankful for the sunshine, for the rain.  Thankful for the silly jokes my husband tells, for the scrabble games we play.  Thankful for the phone calls from grandchildren checking on me.  Thankful for the hot shower.

A study by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist at Stanford found that as people age they got happier and their emotions bounced around less.  Our drama-filled days seen to lessen as our negative emotions such as sadness, anger and fear become less pronounced.

Psychologist Karl Pillemer interviewed over 1,000 older people for his book,  30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.  He found that:

“Many people said something along these lines: ‘I wish I’d learned to enjoy life on a daily basis and enjoy the moment when I was in my 30’s instead of my 60’s,’” he says. Elderly interviewees are likely to “describe the last five or ten years as the happiest years of their lives.”

So my advice to those in the earlier cycles of life:

Enjoy each moment.  Do not let the difficult times stop you from enjoying all the good times.  This day, this moment in time will not come again.  Look for all the good in your life and savor that experience.

As for me knowing I am playing out the last chapter of my story, I take comfort in God’s Word.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

May my last chapter be my best!

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Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-so-good-about-growing-old-130839848/#xr2BBzFeUxqfgrfg.99

Thanks for Remembering!

This month two of my grandchildren are graduating from college.  A granddaughter in North Carolina is getting her BS and will be starting law school in the fall.  A grandson in Tennessee is getting his Master’s.

As I rejoice in these two grandchildren’s success and hard work, I wonder where did the time go?  It was only yesterday they were playing with puzzles at my kitchen table or playing on the merry-go-round at the park.

As my grandchildren grow up, go to college, start careers, get married, have lives of their own and also live so far from me (grandchildren in Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Tennessee – but only one in Michigan where I live) it is only natural that my time with them is limited.  The circle of life turns and we old folks are no longer an active part of their lives.

But I often relive times spent with them as they grew up.  My granddaughter who is graduating was such a cute baby.

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When this picture was taken I was in the Philippines along with my husband and youngest daughter teaching in a Bible college.  I missed her first year but I always treasured this picture her mother sent to me in the Philippines.  Sometimes I feel sad that I missed her first tooth, her first step.  But thankfully I was back with her by her second birthday and shared so much joy watching her grow up.

Her first step toward becoming a lawyer was getting her Associate’s Degree.

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Now she has completed the second time with her Bachelor’s Degree.  So excited for her as she takes this next step and enters fall school.

One of my prayers for my grandchildren has always been that when the time was right, God would give them a Christian husband/wife.  It was my joy two years ago to see the answer to that prayer.

 

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But sometimes I must confess I wonder if the memories I treasure are held in such esteem by my grandchildren.

So – today my heart is so happy.  I got a text from this granddaughter that said:

Brandon and I are at the mall and we saw a carousel.  It made me remember all the times you and Grandpa took me and my brothers to the mall to ride the carousel.  I love you!”

What can I say to express my joy!

If someone has given you great memories be it a grandparent, a parent, an aunt or uncle, maybe a school teacher or a youth leader, take time to let them know you remember.  We often wait until someone has died to share how important those memories were.  Sadly, it’s a little too late then.

Thank you Barbara Rose for remembering!

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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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.