You Are My Favorite

I have six grandchildren – five boys and one girl. They range in age from fourteen to twenty-three.

I tell each one they are my favorite. They each smile and laugh and say “You say that to all of us!”

And that is true! I do say it to each one, every time I see them. “You are my favorite,” because each one is, in their own special way, my favorite.

Mikey is my gentle giant. He is soft-spoken with a beautiful smile, a loving heart and giving ways.

Jake has the beautiful eyes and long hair of a male model. He is loyal, musical, loves history and is truly fair and honest.

Jimmy is my computer whiz. He finishes every job he starts, is very logical and can entertain himself when necessary – i.e. he likes his alone time.

Matt is the social butterfly. He is loud and boisterous, loves music and astronomy and has a wicked sense of humor. He can’t sit still for more than five minutes but can talk forever.

Mac is another computer nerd who wants to fly helicopters when he graduates. He is very loving, shy and funny. He saves his money for computer parts.

Katie, my one and only girl, is the artist who loves to draw and gets excited about pencils and pens. She is very creative, maintains an entire imaginary world in her head and loves cosplay. She is a true free spirit.

Can you see now why each one is my special one? How could they not be?!!

More important, I want each to know it – to hear the words out loud from me as often as possible. They are special as they are. It is unconditional love from me to them.

That “special” connection will always be there, no matter where we all are no matter our age or circumstance. Nothing will ever be able to break that bond.

And besides, I have to keep telling each one so the others won’t get jealous!!!

Think I made all this up? Check out comics.com/pickles by Brian Crane for January 14, 2021!

20 Questions To Ask Your Grandchildren

Do you have grandchildren in another state, as I do? Do you have grandchildren nearby, as I do? Do you visit them on the phone more often than you see them in person, as I do? Especially these days?

Do you find the conversations sometimes lagging when you can’t think of something to say? Or do you just ask the same questions every time?

Would you like to spice up those talks and maybe learn more about those precious kids? How about share a laugh or a secret? Maybe even let them ask you a question or two, or is that too scary?

Want some assistance all you grandparents out there?

Here are some helpful suggestions.

1 – What is one thing you would change about the world?

2 – Imagine you just won a million dollars, what would you buy first?

3 – What is something that helps you fall asleep at night?

4 – If you could change your whole name, what would you change it to?

5 – What makes you happy?

6 – How do you deal with angry feelings?

7- What is the best thing that ever happened to you?

8 – If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

9 – What do you think is the most difficult job in the world and why?

10 – If we had to leave today and you could only take one thing, what would that one thing be?

11 – What do you look forward to when you wake up every day?

12 – What is the question you always wanted to ask but didn’t?

13 – What is the worst thing you have ever eaten? Why was it so bad?

14 – What is your favorite word?

15 – What are four things your friends would say you are really good at?

16 – If your favorite color had a smell, what would it be?

17 – What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?

18 – How would you describe a perfect day?

19 – If you were allowed to make the biggest mess EVER, how would you do it?

20 – Which sense is your favorite, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or feeling? Why?

Words Are Powerful

Words are powerful! They are actual things. They exist out there in the world, as well as in our heads. They have substance, form and consequences.

Words can inspire an artist to paint the grand masterpiece. They can convince a soul it is loved. They can comfort a damaged mind, calm a frightened child, bring forth a belly laugh, rally an army.

OR . . . . . Words can break a heart, incite a riot, cause confusion and lead an innocent astray.

Words are powerful!

Words are not to be used lightly or casually, thrown away like useless trash. Words are sacred gifts given with forethought, generosity and love.

People, especially children and those who love us, will remember what we say to them and about them. The words we use will impact them, maybe forever. That is no small responsibility.

Our words need to always be intentional, appropriate and positive. They need to make the world a better place or not be spoken at all. Silence is much preferred to negative, destructive and harmful words.

Often the intent gives the word its power and strength. As in curse words (Which in my mind is just lazy language!) and ethnic slurs. None of them are intended to evoke any positive or kind responses. They are all meant to harm people.

Words are powerful!

Sometimes the tone of the delivery gives the word its most impact. Words that are sung can have a profound effect and can evoke responses in a very unique manner. We all remember a lullaby, a camp song, our high school song, the National Anthem or a random TV commercial.

We love how words are used in special ways – a poem that rhymes, Haiku, a Shakespeare play. And we never get tired of hearing the good old standards “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Birthday” and, of course, “I love you”.

Words should be used generously but always with kindness, thoughtfully with care and lovingly with joy.

Words are powerful!

What A Difference A Year Makes

Last year I was greeting everyone with a smile, hugs and touches. This year I’m waving from six feet away with a mask on my face and maybe bumping elbows.

Last year I was gathering in groups large and small, enjoying the companionship, thinking it was normal. This year I’m home a lot, alone a lot, Zooming a lot, thinking it’s normal.

Last year year I planned my Holidays, as I always did, with people, food, travel, sharing, giving and all the trimmings. This year I planned my Holidays like never before with many questions, many doubts. Could I even have people, food, travel and all the trimmings?

It feels like a lot of losses in this strange year. Many things have gone missing, maybe lost forever. But I am still here.

I’ve certainly changed. But I would have changed anyway. We all do over a year’s time, don’t we?

I know all the things I took for granted last year will never be taken for granted again. (I hope not anyway!) I know all the little things have become big things, the ordinary have become extraordinary and the normal have become, well . . . . . . just odd.

And it all happened so fast – overnight really. Mask wearing went from being an oddity to commonplace in a matter of weeks. Social distancing is being taught to toddlers and the status of the virus is all we talk about anymore.

But it’s the touching I miss. No amount of elbow tapping, waving from a safe distance or Zooming can replace a good solid bear hug for me.

I’m a touchy-feely person from way back but I never realized how much I actually needed to physically connect with people to relate to them until I was not allowed to do so.This year has really brought that to the forefront for me. I am desperate to shake a hand, pat a back, touch a shoulder or stroke an arm that need’s it.

I feel like an island in the ocean struggling to connect with the shore of another island. And I have no paddle.

And let’s talk about those masks!! Can I tell you how much I miss your faces?!

A face without a nose or a mouth has very little expression. It’s only half a face, really. And half a face just isn’t enough for me. I need it all!!!!

I need all the little smiles, smirks, pouts and frowns.

But when all is said and done, it is what it is. And we have to adapt. If not, we are in a constant state of stress, which of course, we don’t need any more of this year.

So is this year different than last year? YES!

Will next year be different than this year? YES!

Will it ever be the same again? NO!

Do we want it to be? Oh gosh, NO!

Are we going to be alright? You betcha WE ARE!!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mother loved to cook.  That is to say, she loved to bake.  Everyday meals were not her forte, but desserts and special occasions were her real love.

She had a real sweet tooth (which I inherited!), and so we had a dessert at every meal. Yes, even breakfast had something sweet and yummy.

Mother was well known for her homemade pies, especially apple.  The crust was always crispy and golden.  Daddy loved her apple pie with a slice of cheese on it.  I think he learned that growing up in South Dakota.

Christmas was a big baking time.   She would start in September, making cookies, candies, bars and pies. Everyone would get something – the mailman to the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to all the neighbors.

There was always something in the cookie jar and more stacked in the freezer, waiting for the right occasion.  Mother never went to visit anyone empty-handed. That was her rule, “Never go out with a bare face or an empty hand.”

The one item that brings back the most memories of my childhood is Mother’s chocolate chip cookies.  Just the aroma of the cookies baking makes me feel like a girl in her kitchen, helping her bake.  I suddenly feel all warm and safe with a smile on my face, eager to see how the cookies turn out.

Then there is the joy of tasting the first warm cookie from the oven.  That was always “cook’s treat” at Mother’s house.

My daughter feels the same about my chocolate chip cookies. When she takes a bite now, she closes her eyes and sighs, “Ah, my childhood in a cookie!”

Her son, Mac, says my chocolate chip cookies are the best.  Little does he know he’s talking about Mother’s recipe, passed down through all these years.

And I bet his children and their children will say the same.

Peggy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T water
  • 12 oz. semisweet chips

Cream sugars and Crisco.  Add eggs.   Sift salt and soda with flour. Add to creamed mixture.   Add water. Add chips by hand.   Drop onto cookie sheet by spoonful . Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack.

Life Lessons From Children

The older I get, the more I realize that children have some of the best answers to the basic questions of life.  They seem to instinctively know how to manage the twists and turns of everyday living.

With all my education, experience and wisdom, I have learned to look to a five-year-old for some of the wisest lessons in getting through life.

Here are my top ten favorites:

Play is the best medicine.  Children have the ability to play with anything, anytime.  It’s how they release their emotions and feelings.  It’s also how they heal themselves.

Take a nap when you’re tired.  Children can sleep anywhere, when they need to.  What a great gift is that!

Always greet your elders with a hug and a kiss.  This is good advice your whole life – no matter how old you are.  Grannies always love to be greeted this way.

Every day is a fresh start.  No matter what happens today, no matter how bad it is or who hurts them, tomorrow is always a new day to a child.  All is forgotten and everything is possible again.  Each morning is a clean slate.

Be courageous.  Sing out loud.  Dance to the music.  Children are not confined by fear of failure or shame.  They embrace life.

Laugh every day.  Children see silliness everywhere.  Look for the humor in your everyday life.

Be active.  Get up and move.   Go outside. Find something to do.  Contact a friend. Children rarely sit in a rocking chair staring into space, thinking about the past.

Scars are badges of honor.  Scars are sources of pride to children, not signs of weakness.  Be proud of your scars.  Tell the story.   Make yourself the hero.  Pass on the wisdom.

Try new things.   Children do not fear the unknown.  They will try a new game, dive into a pool or jump on a trampoline.  Be adventurous.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Step into the unknown.

Notice the little things.  Children can be fascinated by the smallest of things – ants crossing a sidewalk, the tiny feet of birds, the wings of a bumblebee.  The things we take for granted bring them great joy.  Take notice of all the small miracles around you, and see how much more beautiful your life will be.

Becoming more childlike is one of the wisest things we can do as we age.

Family

The one thing I always wanted was family.  I loved the thought of having many cousins, aunts and uncles.  I always wanted a sister.  I thrived on large family gatherings.

Having said all that, family is the one thing I was never blessed with.  I don’t relate to either of my brothers.  One just doesn’t respond in any way.  The other was in the prison system most of his adult life and died early.

My mother died at age fifty and none of her family has spoken to us since then.  My dad’s family has never related to us in all these years.  I have cousins I have never met, seen or talked to.

Because Gramps is a genealogist, I know more about my distant relatives than I do about relatives my own age.  It broke my heart as a child.  Wanting what I couldn’t have and having no way to fix it.  I had no power to get the family I wanted, when I was young.

When I got married and had children, I thought now I had the family I was looking for.  I had a devoted husband and two children.

Except now our son is not speaking to us.  Our daughter and her family live nearby but we only see them about once a month.  But lucky me, I have our niece who has become our daughter and her five children, who have become our grandchildren.  We see them a couple times a year and those times are so special.

Still there are no large family gatherings.  No extended family to relate to.

So I have devised my own way to have a family.  I have friends that care about me the way a relation would.  Some of these friends have been in my life for many years and some are recent acquaintances.  But all of them fill a hole in my heart and my life.

My friends share my love of sewing and quilting.  We love to sit together with fabric, needle and thread in our hands, sharing our thoughts about everything.  We care for each other in good times and difficult times.

My friends call me.  They check-up on me.  They ask me if I’m okay.  I do the same for them.

My friends invite me for dinner and holidays.  We have lunch together.  We share potlucks and buffets.

My friends share my good news and are happy for me.  They hold my hand and cry with me if the news is bad.  My friends do not abandon me – ever.

My friends are my family.   My lifetime wish has been fulfilled.  I have many sisters now.  I have gatherings large and small.  I have the equivalent of dozens of cousins.

The one thing I always wanted, I now have to my heart’s content.  I couldn’t be happier.