“It’s the Best!”

“Wait till I tell my Mom I’m having hot chocolate for dinner! Do you have marshmallows, too?” she’d excitedly asked the waitress.

“No marshmallows, but we have whip cream.”

“Oh yum!”

Children are so easy to please. I’d been in emergency all day, but didn’t want to cancel plans, so Ric picked her up from school and we three went to a local diner for early supper.

Able to read her own menu now, her eyes lit up at the sight of her favourite beverage. No vegetables touched her plate that night, a sin her mother is sure to scold me about, but in light of the day I’d had, I just wanted to soak in her joy.

Afterwards, we drove around to see the Christmas lights and then home for some television, a snuggle, and bed. All pretty low key.

“Staying at Grandma’s is so so fun!” she told her sister when they came to pick her up the next morning. “You get treats, and to stay up late.”

Don’t worry Mom, she didn’t even finish the hot chocolate.

As for me – my cup was overflowing.

(Thursdays I dedicate to celebrating the blessings in my life, which often translates to sharing Grandma stories. Can’t help it. They are the best, through my eyes.)

Creativity Is A Blessing

Ideas follow me around like little children tugging on my pant leg, begging attention. I’ve been brushing them aside, too unwell to give any them any energy, but with summer’s arrival and pending visits at Grandma’s camp, I push myself to get out the paints.

Untrained myself, I watch videos to gain knowledge and inspiration. I look for ideas the children will want to do,
and try them out to make sure they’ll work. The stack of pancakes, I discover, is easy and definitely doable with a 6 and 7-year-old.

The girls are eager to paint with Grandma, and naturally, full of their own creative ideas.

We play with the paints, and working with these uninhibited minds helps expands my own possibilities.

Each girl leaves at the end of the week with a framed masterpiece as a memento of our time together.

Sloane is a week shy of seven, and when I ask her what she would like me to paint for her birthday, she is very specific: two unicorns with the colours blue and purple.

“How on Earth do I paint unicorns?” I mention to Ric.

In his usual smart ass way, he responds: “You draw a horse with a horn on its head.”

Argh! I’ve never drawn horses before is what I meant. So I research again. This is the first attempt.

It feels wonderful to be sketching and painting again. I have one more birthday gift to attend to and then I’ve completed my year and I’ll start listening to those ideas tugging at my pant leg.

Big Little Blessings

A 6:15 a.m. phone call changed my life: “Hello Grandma…it’s a girl!”

There is no describing the thrill. I packed a hasty bag and drove the hundred kilometres in record time, scooping up that little bundle immediately on arrival. Her little tongue moved in and out rapidly as her gazed fixed on mine. I could tell we had so much to catch up on.

A year later, I would be present for the birth of another granddaughter, and then a third would be arrive.

Being a grandmother is the blessing jackpot!

Best of all – there are more to come.

Bittersweet Endings

“I’m losing my baby!” my daughter laments while planning our youngest granddaughter’s birthday.

The birthday girl is three. She is losing her baby fat, wants to do everything “by myself”, knows her own mind and can articulate it.

Like this unicorn costume she insisted on wearing instead of the party dress her mother bought her.

Last year, she spent most of her birthday in her playhouse in the backyard. This year, she barely fits.

Of course, she is forever a princess and will remain so in my heart.

For Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: endings.

Tell Us A Story, Grandma!

“Tell us a story, Grandma! Tell us about when you were a girl?”

The question throws me. First, because childhood is so far away, but secondly, because my stories are tainted with pain and hurt. Looking into this pair of eager eyes though, I know they want a story filled with good will and hope.

“Well,” I begin, and they snuggle in closer to listen. Outside the winds have picked up and the sleet of earlier has given way to soft thuds – snow. Stories at bedtime are a ritual with these two, if not a book, then a story about their parents’ youth, usually.

“When I was a little girl, about your age, every winter my father built a skating rink in the back yard.”

“I know how to skate!”

“Me too, and I’m fast.”

“I bet you are. Imagine every day that you come home from school being able to strap on your skates and go into the backyard to your very own rink.”

“Wow. That must have been awesome! Did you fall very often?”

“Sometimes, but there were usually snowbanks around the side and that softened the blow. I remember how we used to shovel paths in the snow and pretend they were streets and act as if we were driving our cars.”

“Who skated with you?”

“My sisters. My dad put a flood light on the rink, so we could skate past dark, and he hooked up a speaker to play music and my sisters and I would give performances, pretending we were figure skaters.”

“Were you figure skaters?”

“No. The lessons were too far away. I went for awhile, but the walk too long and I gave up.”

“Your Mom didn’t drive you?”

“Not in those days. She was too busy.”

“Was that the best part of winter, Grandma. Your own rink?”

“I certainly enjoyed it. The best part I remember though, is coming in at the end of the night, with my cheeks and fingers frozen from the cold, and having a mug of hot chocolate. My mom would always have a pot of hot milk on the stove waiting for us.”

“With marshmallows?”

“Marshmallows are the best!”

“Yes, they are.”

“Can we have hot chocolate tomorrow, Grandma?”

“I don’t see why not. Now, I want you both to go off to sleep. It’s snowing outside and if this keeps up, we may be able to make a snowman in the morning.”

They’ll whisper and giggle after I turn out the light, and I leave the door open a crack, bringing with me the warmth of their little hearts snuggled up to mine, and the glow of remembering something good from my childhood.

(My challenge this week is story. There are so many stories that weave together to make up our lives – some of them real, some of them imagined. Telling our stories, one at a time, opens us to the possibility of healing. The above story is true in the sense that it describes an aspect of my childhood that was good. The framework around it – a sleepover with the granddaughters – is only imagined, although they do like me to tell them stories. At this stage in my life, ready to let go of the anguish and pain, I am ready to retell my life story. This is a good place to start.)

Nailed It Dad!

Did you try some of the soup, Mom?

I glanced around at the many pans, ingredients, and baking paraphernalia lining the kitchen counters; not to mention my son-in-law and granddaughter who where firmly planted at the stove.

No, I messaged back. It’s a little busy here.

An unexpected trip back to Ontario landed me smack dab in the middle of my children’s busy lives. After two nights at my son and daughter-in-laws – where the bed was comfy and convenient – my body had a reaction to their dog, so I moved to my middle daughter’s home to couch surf for a bit.

While Mom and the two-year-old resumed their normal weekday activities, six-year-old Sloane and Dad were still on Christmas vacation and on this day they were attempting a “Nailed It” challenge.


Apparently, “Nailed It” is a baking show, which Sloane frequently watches. The premise is that the contestants are shown professionally decorated cookies, cupcakes, and cakes and challenged to reproduce them and then judged on the outcome. By default, I was nominated to be the judge.


Unlike the television version, Sloane and her dad did not race the clock, but dedicated a whole five-and-a-half hours to completing the task. I was beyond impressed by the organization and commitment that went into completing this task.

My judgment: cookies – nailed it; cake – nailed it; parenting – A++


Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Everyday Moments

Everyday is composed of moments, some insignificant, others worth savouring.  Time spent with grandchildren is the latter – their presence, always refreshing, the interaction guaranteed to leave a warmth that glows long past our parting.

Through them I alive again, reminded of my own childhood, and how pleasure is to be found in the simplest of things, like a bike ride with Dad.  Maybe it’s my imagination but I see myself in each of these little souls as if somehow my essence is sewn into their personalities.

lovingwatermelon
This one, fiercely independent, loves the taste of watermelon, does not care that the sweet, watery dribble stains her clothes.  She’d rather be naked running through the garden anyway.  She is two.  I am reminded of old movie film reels my father had taken that show me, hair unbrushed, running away from the camera without a stitch on.

 

artistThis one, more sensitive than her younger sister, is content with a journal and pen – will spend hours drawing or colouring, conveying through images what is important in her life, as well as the depth of her imagination.

She wants to know how things work, is curious about bugs and animals, the sky, the weather; says she will be a scientist and an engineer when she grows up.

We are kindred souls.

FloppedFinnThe first of my granddaughters, now seven, is smart, loves reading, and puzzles, and demonstrates athleticism.  She knows her own mind, never misses a nuance, and loves to entertain by switching accents and generally being goofy.  We are best of friends.   I am reminded of a younger girl, labelled a tom boy, whose imitations of Lily Tomlin became a family legend.  Laughter is a gift we share.

Every day is composed of moments and some of the best, for me, are spent in the company of these three young ones.

(Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is offered weekly, with rotating hosts.  This weeks focus is everyday moments.)

 

 

Come Play, Gamma

faces“It feels like my heart and my thumb changed places,” five-year-old Sloane says carefully guarding her injured digit.

I can’t help but laugh.  She can be a little dramatic, this one.

“Can you get us a tissue?” I ask her older cousin.

“I don’t need it!  It stopped bleeding.”

The blood has bubbled up on the end of her thumb where she scraped the skin off.

“Just in case,” I respond.

Finn tries to squeeze in on the other side, so I shimmy over, and the three of us snuggle on the couch.  On the coffee table in front of us sits a present.

“You can open it Grandma,”  Finn offers.  “It’s for you.”

“I’ll wait till everyone is else is here. I am their Mom, you know.”

“It’s because of you that we are here,” Finn says, and then remembers my mom.  “Actually it’s Great-Grandma.”

“Right.  What if my mom didn’t have me?”

“Then we wouldn’t be here!” Finn’s eyes are wide.

“That’s something to think about, isn’t it?”

“It sure is!” says Sloane.  “That’s weird.”

MomnbabeTwo-year-old August appears and immediately starts to unwrap the present.

“No!” We all chorus, laughing at the baby’s antics.

She climbs onto the couch beside her sister and pretends to sleep, snoring noisily.   We join in the game.

Being a grandmother is the best.  Removed from the constant deadlines, worries, and obligations of parenting, I am free to just soak in each precious moment.

Dinner is ready and we file outside, into the sunlight, and find a seat at the table. Adult hands join in to fill up plates and I go off to find drinks for the girls.  It’s a beautiful day, and the first BBQ of the season.

Still eating her hamburg, August slides down off her chair and reaches for my hand.

“Come play, Gamma.”

There’s a gravel path beside the deck, with odd shaped patio stones laid randomly offering a walkway.  The older girls are hopping from stone to stone trying to avoid the gravel.  August, still holding onto my hand, is walking along the second step which wraps around the deck.

“Careful,” she says in a sing-song voice.  “Careful, August.”

fullonFinnWe play till I am so tired, I need to rest, and I say my good-byes and go in search of Grumpa, who has disappeared.  He is asleep on the couch in the family room.  I seek out the couch in the living room and put my feet up.

Finn follows me in.

“What are you doing, Grandma?”

“Having a rest.”

She plops down next to me and leans in.  Sloane appears and sits on the large lazy boy across the room.

“Play with me Finn?”

Auggie shows up and wants up too.  The lazy boy spins on its base and the girls giggle and squeal.  The rest of the family pours in.  It is time for everyone to go home.  Grumpa is still sleeping.  I wake him up so that we can leave my son and his wife to their peace.  It has been a full day.

“Thanks again for having us,” I hug them; “and enjoy the quiet.”

I put the seat back down and close my eyes on the way home.  Processing the events of the day, I smile.

I am feeling very blessed.