Three Days With Mac . . . Or How To Occupy An Eleven Year Old

This week Mac’s parents have gone to Florida for a little R&R. Gramps and I will have Mac for three days and the other grandparents will  have him for three days. Share and share alike we say.

He came with the usual bag of clothes, a stuffed animal and the dreaded electronic gizmos. Although when he is at our house, he likes to use my phone because it has the “good games”.

Immediately upon entering the house, Mac asks for my phone and retreats to his bedroom. (Really the guest bedroom but we call it “his bedroom” while he is here)

This means there is no talking, no interaction, no relationship going on between us and him. This is totally unacceptable to Gramps and me. So we have put a limit on electronics usage in our home and especially no devices at mealtimes.

Instead we do other things. Mac loves to ride his bike, so we do that often when he is here. Good for him and good for us.

He and Gramps have explored the uncharted areas around our house and gone bird watching many times. They always have a tale to tell when they get back from their biking trips.

Gramps and I walk around the neighborhood every evening and Mac either walks with us or rides the bike around. Walking in our little neighborhood means greeting other neighbors, walkers, dogs and children playing in the street. So Mac joins in the conversations and pettings. It takes a while to get around the block but it’s a wonderful journey.

Of course, we play board games too. Our current favorite is Monopoly. Mac always wants to be the banker. I always use the thimble as my playing piece and Gramps always wins. I don’t know how he does it.

One evening we watched “How To Train Your Dragon” in 3D. The best part was looking at each other in those glasses and laughing out loud. We had popcorn and everything. Lots of fun!

The next day we took Mac out in the boat. What a grand day that was! Perfect weather. Perfect water. Perfect company. We did some fishing – caught nothing but shrubs. We let Mac take the wheel with Gramps a couple times, which thrilled him to no end.

We all got wet and wind blown. We laughed. We talked a lot. And Gramps showed Mac the sonar depth finder. (It’s a guy thing)

The last morning, before our handoff to the other grandparents, was designated as “lazy day”, so Mac played electronic games to his hearts’s content. He laid on his bed giggling to himself.

He told me later, “I love my down time”.

Our three days with Mac were packed with fun, conversation, interaction, learning and love. I can’t wait until the next time. I’m already making plans.

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Dresses For Christmas

What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? Say a dress made of white Batiste with cranberry trim and maybe some smocking? Maybe it would have a beautiful little green ribbon running through the threads of the smocking and maybe the tie would be cranberry too?

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Would that dress be the prettiest thing you ever saw? Would a granddaughter of eight years old think it was the best dress ever made for her?

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Would Christmas be just that much better wearing a new dress made just for you? Would you feel like a princess in a crisp white dress ironed just so and stitched with all the love possible?

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Would the pictures taken of a dark haired girl in the new white dress be all the more precious because her grandmother made the dress just for her? Would the dark haired girl feel the same because she knew the dress was meant for no one else but her?

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What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? How about two new dresses for Christmas? How about a dark haired granddaughter and a fair haired great-granddaughter in matching dresses? How about Christmas memories that will last a lifetime for two?

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Is that not that the best picture for Christmas? Two precious girls, in two precious dresses, at the same time? Am I the luckiest Granny ever?

One Hundred Years To Make A Quilt

One hundred years ago my grandmother Irene started embroidering linens and doilies for her home. She made tablecloths with matching napkins, pillowcases, dresser scarves, hand towels and handkerchiefs.

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She also began collecting special pieces that were decorated by others she knew. Some of the linens were probably to be used in a quilt or bedspread and some were treasured gifts from treasured people in her life. All were spectacular and beautiful.

Sixty years ago my mother Peggy inherited the wonderful collection of embroidered linens from my grandmother. She used a few of them in the house we lived in.

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Over the years, she added a few pieces to the group. I remember a tablecloth with napkins for a card table and a liner for a bread basket. I know she made more but that’s all I remember.

Both my grandmother and mother were great sewers and made most of their clothes. My mother made many of my clothes as well as my two children’s when they were little. What they didn’t do very much was embroider, so everything they did embellish is just that much more precious.

The embroidery has become more than just a pretty attraction. It has become a symbol. It represents continuity – a connection over the years, the decades. It is a thread that binds my grandmother to mother to me. All the hours they spent are there. All the starts, mistakes, restarts and finishes are there. All the plans blossoming into beautifully decorated linens are there. There for all to see, appreciate and learn from.

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Forty-three years ago I became the recipient of the grand collection, which by then had become fairly extensive. After a few years of my own collecting, I began to try to plan a good use for the expanding treasure trove of embellished pieces of linen and cotton.

Last year I designed a quilt using as many of the antique and vintage pieces as I could. The center is the middle of a tablecloth surrounded by four hand towels and corners of two dresser scarves.

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Around that are the borders of a tablecloth. The mosaic panels are made up of all sorts of linens and doilies overlapping all around the quilt.

Doily Quilt5 It is a glorious mixture of all the types f embroidery, crochet, tatting and crossstitch.

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The final border is made up of handkerchiefs of every color and design.

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While sewing every seam, I thought about mother and grandmother, their love of sewing and their contribution to the quilt. Their enthusiasm and love of the art were with me every step of the way. What a lovely way to share with the generations.

One hundred years of hand work, collecting and loving special pieces of cloth, three generations of women and one quilt to show all the care. What a grand result!

I couldn’t have done it without you two!

 

A Day With Mac

Mac’s mother called to let all of the grandparents know that Mac had a few open days after Summer Rec ended and before school started. Between those ending and starting days and an upcoming vacation to Washington, D.C., there were a few days open to Grandparent time. We ended with him this last Wednesday for twelve hours.

Now Mac is eleven years and is able to entertain himself a good portion of the time, but when Granny and Gramps get involved, the expectations are raised. Plans are made to fill almost every minute of the day. Fun must be had on an almost continual basis.

We picked Mac up first thing in the morning. He spent about an hour on my phone playing a video game called “Simple Planes”. He built and destroyed numerous planes in that short hour.

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Then it was off the movies to see “Jungle Book”,  in 3D of course. It’s a great movie of love, loyalty and perseverance – good wins out in the end. And Bill Murray as a Grizzly Bear is just funny no matter how old you are! Mac loved it! We all did!

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Child eating out with his grandparents in a restaurant

After the movie we went to lunch for burgers, chips, sodas and BBQ sandwich for Gramps. The music was very retro, so Gramps and I were humming along to songs from our college and high school years.

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The weather here in Texas is too hot for outdoor anything during the day, so home we went to play board games. Our current favorite is a game called Qwirkle, which is somewhat like Dominoes. Mac wins more often than not.

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Gramps and Mac watched a car race on TV together in the study. They rooted for their favorite cars and drivers. I have no idea who won! It’s a guy thing!

As the sun got low enough and the temperature lowered, Mac and Gramps rode bikes down to the lake near our house. They talked to the men who were fishing on the edge of the lake and rode their bikes back.

By then, everyone was hungry. Sweet Gramps made us a lovely dinner of baked chicken and sautéed squash. After getting full on nutritious food, Mac took a bowl of chips into the back room to read a book.

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An hour later, Mac’s mother came to get him. When she asked how his day had gone, he answered, “Fine. It was a normal day.” Normal day?!

Gramps and I certainly had a great deal of fun and loved the time spent interacting with Mac. We love listening to him talk and explain things. We love watching his brain work. But this was anything but a normal day! Mac was still raring to go. Gramps and I were exhausted, pooped, worn out, wasted.

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Mac’s normal day had taken the stuffing right out of us. All we wanted to do next was sit down, lay down and sleep. What a difference age makes!

 

Becoming A Granny

I remember well the day my grandson Mac was born. It was ten and a half years ago and I was there to see the whole event.

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I remember the feeling of awe and wonder at such a perfect little human being born after so much work by him and his mother.

I remember the overwhelming love I had for him. I knew in one tiny moment I would give anything to make sure he grew up happy and healthy.

I remember the instant bond I felt between us. One person older and the other brand new. One person experienced and the other having no experience at all. One person having lived many years and the other seeing life completely fresh and new.

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I remember thinking – now I am a grandmother. A grandmother to this child. A first for both of us.

There were so many feelings of joy, happiness, completion, newness, all swirling around me. I was completely overcome and overwhelmed. I laughed and cried all at the same time.

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Becoming a grandparent is the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another. Two forks in the same road at the same time. No wonder it is such an emotional time!

Becoming a Granny for me was the start of a new job – a most important job. I think it is the best job I’ve ever had. Everything in my life has led me to this job, being a Granny. All my experiences have taught me what I need to know to be a good Granny.

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Being a Granny is also a privilege. Not everyone is given this particular lot in life and I don’t take it for granted. I’m thankful every day that I’m allowed to be a grandparent to seven wonderful kids.

I also think being a Granny is a reward for being in the right place at the right time. I have gotten grandchildren by many means – by adoption, by marriage and by blood. Gramps says if grandchildren were sold in stores, I would probably buy them too! I say, get them anyway they come to you! And be glad of it!

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Being a Granny is the best and hardest thing I have ever done, but I wouldn’t change one minute of it. Being a Granny is the most fun I have ever had. Being a Granny is . . . . . GREAT!

Love At First Sight

A good friend of mine just became a grandmother for the first time. She is so excited and I’m so excited for her! Her comment the very first day was, “I love being a grandmother!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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I know exactly how she feels. I remember the very first time I saw my first grandchild, newly born, sort of ugly really, but the most beautiful thing I had seen since the birth of my own children. I was instantly in love. There was a bond at that second that has remained throughout the years.

I knew in one second I was not only in love with that baby but I was in love with being a grandparent. How is that even possible after so short a time? I’m not sure how, but I know it is a true, sure thing.

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I knew I would not only be willing to die to protect him, but I would be willing to do almost anything to keep him happy, strong, engaged, learning, laughing and healthy. And I knew all this in an instant.

It was as if I could see all the future times of playing with him, talking with him, sharing meals with him, laughing with him, walking with him in that one moment. Our lives together were very clear to me even though he was still only minutes old, we hadn’t touched and I had just seen him being whisked away to be measured and weighed.

In one moment I fell in love for ever. A unique love affair to be sure. A love that was very one-sided in the beginning, but still very satisfying. What he gave in return may not have been love, but it spoke to the depths of my heart.

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Now, of course, it is a very mutual love. We speak it, we show it, we are aware of it. In the beginning, he absorbed all the love he could get as if it were due him, which I felt it was. As his grandmother, I felt obligated and most willing to give him everything in the world I thought was good for him, starting with my unconditional devotion.

As the years passed, I have had the same reaction with every grandchild that has come into my life – instant love, instant unconditional caring and devotion for life.

How I wish every child came into this world with a guarantee of instantaneous love.

How I wish every grandparent felt love and exaltation at the birth of every grandchild, and would know instantly how wonderful that child was.

How I wish every grandparent and grandchild had an unbreakable, life-long, love relationship they could both rely upon and cherish.

How I wish . . . . .

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Good Night, Granny!

Gramps and I just had our 9 year old grandson Mac spend the night with us. We do different things – play outside, go to a movie, play board games. We eat different meals – pizza, hamburgers or Mac’s favorite meal of salmon and broccoli. Sometimes we’re very active and sometimes we’re very quiet, but one thing always stays the same – the bedtime routine.

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Getting ready for bed starts with Mac taking a warm shower. He feels very independent doing it on his own. I clean his ears, clip his nails and try to corral his hair with its many cowlicks. We go through the same jokes and conversations each time. How can they still be funny after all these years?

Next is tooth brushing. Mac likes to drag this procedure out for as long as possible for some reason. Maybe it’s because he likes to chat and keeps taking the toothbrush out of his mouth.

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Then it’s off to pick out the three books for Gramps and Mac to read. The two of them sit on the couch and giggle and point and laugh and read out loud together. Mac can read very well, but Gramps does better voices and sound effects. This step would go on for hours if Granny didn’t finally say, “It’s time to go to bed please.”

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After hugs and kisses all around, Mac jumps (yes, he literally jumps!) into bed. Now this is my favorite part! I lay down next to him for a few minutes while we have a nice quiet chat. We talk about the day we just had, the day coming up, funny things, odd things, ordinary things.

Last night’s talk:

Mac – “So how many baby teeth do people have?”

Granny – “I don’t know Mac. Let’s find out tomorrow.”

Mac – “OK”

What a great conversation is that! I love getting kids ready for bed with a quiet routine full of love and interaction. It is very soothing for me and my precious one.

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P.S. We have 20 baby teeth. Who knew?!