“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++