20 Things That Don’t Cost A Dime

1 – A hug

2 – A smile

3 – A laugh

4 – Skipping

5 – Clapping

6 – A compliment

7 – Being on time

8 – Saying please

9 – Joining hands

10 – Being faithful

11 – Lending a hand

12 – Finishing a job

13 – Saying thank you

14 – Picking up trash

15 – Keeping a secret

16 – An honest answer

17 – A firm hand shake

18 – Keeping a promise

19 – Honoring your word

20 – Saying you’re sorry

Vacationing With Thirteen Year Olds, Part 2

Hello everyone! Welcome back! Let me continue my story of the great vacation with the grandsons. Let me see, now where were we? I think Day 6 – yes.

It started with a two-hour boat ride on the Wisconsin river. Two stops for refreshments and a look at some great rock formations. The boys got wonderful pictures and may have learned something about Geology.

The afternoon was spent at another water park. Yessirree – four hours of sun and water, AGAIN!!!! By now I was practically glowing in the the dark!

While driving into the parking lot and going over a speed bump, we heard a strange noise from the truck but, seeing nothing, we parked. Walking to the entrance, we came upon a tire next to a speed bump in the parking lot. Gramps and I looked at each other. This couldn’t be our tire, could it? Gramps went back to the truck and sure enough, our spare had fallen out. What were the chances?!! So we loaded it back in the truck, shaking our heads at the unbelievability of the whole thing.

This being the 4th of July, we later joined the residents downtown for a spectacular fireworks show. Nothing beats fireworks, patriotic music, red/white/blue colors and the national anthem surrounded by families of every color and nationality under the sun. Another great day!

Day 7 was a really slow starter – I think we all slept until 11 am. Being a tourist is hard work! By early afternoon, Gramps and the boys were off for some golf lessons. They planned a round of golf, but all three decided it was too hot. So back in the pool they went. It seems boys and water are a natural combination. Just add suits.

That evening we had a campfire at the RV site and roasted huge marshmallows. The boys looked up a list of the 100 best jokes, and told us one joke after another until I thought I would die from laughing – mostly fourth-grade jokes but still pretty funny.

My favorite? OK here it is. The Lord said to John, “Come forth and I will give you everlasting life.” John came fifth and got a toaster.” I know! I’m still laughing!!

That night was the best ever. We talked, we laughed, we interacted, we got to know each other better, we looked at Jupiter’s moons through the binoculars. How perfect! We kept the fire going as long as possible because we didn’t want the night to end. I wish all nights could be as wonderful as that one was.

Ready for another absolutely miraculous coincidence? The next morning Gramps was getting a new tire put on the truck to prevent another flat. A piece was missing from the spare tire carrier that had fallen off in the parking lot two days earlier. So he drove to the parking lot and there, on top of the now infamous speed bump, was a little washer. Just the right size washer, mind you, that fit the holder for the spare. Really?!! No kidding!! He found it days later in the parking lot of a water park in a resort town on a holiday weekend! One single 1″ round washer!!!!!

Now I need to tell you that throughout the week it rained – everyday. But sometimes it rained at night or early in the morning or if it rained during the day, it only rained for about 5-10 minutes. The timing was unbelievable. It never interfered with our fun or ruined any activity. Uncanny really.

Day 8 was devoted to a Drum Corps performance in Whitewater, about two hours away. We met some friends there and had a tailgate dinner with one of the Corps. Both of the boys play musical instruments – one the sax, the other tuba and drums- so we knew they would enjoy the musical extravaganza of Drum Corps. Well, it was perfect weather and a great show. Shawn, who had never seen a Drum Corps performance before, was enthralled. He sat on the edge of his seat all evening.

The next morning we all got up early for the long trip to Kansas City to put Shawn on the plane back home. Thanks to modern technology, the boys again entertained themselves in the truck for hours.

We also reminisced about our days in Wisconsin, the fun things we did and some of our favorite jokes from campfire night. Sometimes the best part of a trip is the memory of it.

Shawn got on the plane for his second time in the air. He was evidently a “pro” by then, of course. How funny to see a thirteen-year-old who thinks he knows everything about a subject, but still needs help.

Mac and Gramps and I got home the next night with no problems.

Were we alive? Barely! Were we exhausted? Completely! Were we still laughing and telling grand stories? You bet! Was it the best vacation ever? Absolutely! Would I do it again with two thirteen-year-olds? In a heart beat!

Retreat Revisited

Ah quilt retreat! There is nothing like it. Four days of sewing, chatting, sharing, laughing, eating and maybe some sleeping. There is lots of humming of machines, questions like “Does this border go with this fabric?”, answers of “I prefer the blue!”, whirring of rotary cutters and even some quiet times of hand sewing. One person can be absorbed in reading directions, two people can be sharing a new technique, three people can be giving an opinion on placement of blocks for a quilt and any number of people an be taking a class on a brilliant idea or some new sewing notion.

A retreat is many things and can be anything to one person. Maybe it’s a chance to finish that project . . . . finally. Maybe it’s a chance to start a new project . . . . finally. And maybe it’s just time, time to sew and sew and sew on anything and everything you have. It’s the freedom to do whatever you want.

Ah quilt retreat! Looking forward to it is a joy. Experiencing it is true heaven. Even the memories of it are a blessing. Here are a few of mine.

This is just one block for a quilt done in appliqué. Can you imagine how spectacular that quilt will be?

This quilt looks like it was woven. And it is made out of flannel. What a coy hug it will give on cold nights.

A beautiful Christmas tree already for the holiday.

A beautiful quilt done in squares. Very modern looking.

Is this too cute? I love the baby penguin!

A wonderful red, white and blue star quilt. Love those stars!

This quilt is big, beautiful and not even done yet. There will be more poinsettias when completed. How perfect will that be?

A quilt of foxes is being worked on here. How adorable!

A little Christmas village just got finished here in this cute quilt.

Several of us took lessons on making stars the Inklingo way. Here are our results.

This spectacular one is made from a zillion little pieces of fabric applied to the background. Isn’t it wonderful?

 

I love the brightness of this quilt. Must be all those primary colors.

This is going to be a great quilt when it is done. Don’t you agree?

Another very interesting quilt. The blocks are going in all directions. Love the clocks!

This quilt is very soft looking. I bet it is very comforting too.

Here is a special quilt of several blocks of the Lady of Guadalupe. It was made for a special friend. Lucky lady!

This is not exactly a quilt but still a real cutie. It is a wool mat for a platter. It is all done by hand with much embellishment.

A complicated quilt that is very lovely to behold. Can’t wait till this one is done.

This one looks very hard but actually it is the fabric that is printed to look like 36 square blocks. Interesting, right?

This is all I can show you of the marvelous retreat I went to. The best parts are the  intangibles. They are the relationships we all have and the history of many retreats and gatherings over the years. They are the hours spent in each others’ company through good times and bad. They are the words spoken between us over coffee, tea and wine, sharing meals, ideas and feelings.

All these things we carry in our hearts until the next time we meet. Be it tomorrow or next year. Nothing is lost or forgotten. Retreat is forever!

 

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.

Two Weeks, Two Retreats

I have just returned from two quilt retreats in as many weeks. Some folks told me that much intense quilting would probably kill me. But it didn’t.

In fact, it was exhilarating! It was inspiring! It was certainly a whole lot of fun! OK, it was a bit tiring. But I would do it again in a heart beat.

At a quilt retreat you join like-minded friends i.e. other quilters for a few days of sewing, laughing, sharing, learning and maybe a practical joke here and there.

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At the first retreat, I and about 25 other women spent four days in a special center built for just such occasions. We had our rooms and food provided – what a luxury! All we had to do was plug in our machines and begin sewing.

And sew we did. Quilts began showing up on the design walls immediately and didn’t stop until we were forced to leave four days later.

The five newbies were a bit overwhelmed by the sounds and the sights of the big room. But the sounds of the workroom were so familiar to those of us who had been before. The hum of machines, the chatter of conversations here and there, the ring of laughter floating over all, the chime of an “AHA!” as someone finally figured out a difficult problem.

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And what looked like mass confusion was really busy organization at work. Quilts were being planned, resized, sewn, ripped, resewn, quilted and bound. Advice was being given and received, knowledge shared, tips and tricks passed from one generation to the next.

All this was happening while relationships were being formed and strengthened. Actually, isn’t that what it’s really all about?

So, after four days, I came home, unpacked, washed my clothes, repacked and headed off to my second retreat. This time it was at a hotel and resort center.

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I roomed with a dear friend whom I have known since sixth grade. We joined 85 men and women for another four days of quilting heaven.

Yes, I said men! We have men in this group that quilt and they are wonderful. That is one of the great things about the art of quilting, it is very inclusive.

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So how do 85 people quilt together? Well, first they take over the entire Ballroom with tables, sewing machines, irons, ironing boards and design boards. It was a tight fit, but we  made it.

We nearly drowned in fabric, scraps and thread. But thanks to the hotel staff that vacuumed every night, we kept our heads above water.

quilt-retreat

I have never seen such a flurry of activity anywhere in my life. It looked like mayhem, but was controlled work, in actuality. Again the quilts began to appear almost immediately.

The creativity and beauty I saw was amazing. It just kept coming, from every corner of the room. From young and old (Our oldest quilter is 89!). From skilled to newbie alike, the results were wonderful, spectacular.

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Now I’m home again with my two finished quilt tops, one quilt bound and one quilt started. I got a lot accomplished, renewed friendships, met some new friends, ate very well, laughed until it hurt, learned some new tips and shared some others.

In other words, I had a perfect two weeks. The hardest part now is getting used to cooking again. Ugh!!!

Grand Things Kids Say

A couple weeks ago, Gramps and I took Mac to the lake in the boat. (It is still very hot here is Texas!) We went all around the lake and then decided we would beach the boat so we could do some swimming and wading in the cool water. Mac had his life jacket on and jumped over the side of the boat, making a very large splash. His comment – “What a huge displacement!”.

Thank you Science teacher!

Happy Birthday To You!

Birthdays come every year. When we are young, we can hardly wait for this annual event to occur. When we get older, we can hardly believe another year has passed so quickly. Birthdays are a reminder, not only to tell us we are getting older but that we are still alive.

Ten birthday cake candles against a white background

Gramps celebrated a birthday this week. He is now 73 years old. Neither of us, in our youth, imagined getting this old, but here we are. We had a wonderful BBQ dinner with all the extras, including a cake made by our daughter. (Mac says his mom makes the “best cakes ever”. I agree.) Family and friends joined us.

We ate, we laughed, we told “you know you’re old when” jokes, we gave gifts and we ate again. We sang “Happy Birthday” even though there were no candles on the cake. After all, a birthday is all about having fun and sharing it with others. And truly it has very little to do with presents.

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For kids, birthdays are especially important. Each one is a consistent marker of time and growth. It is a permanent memory, like a tree ring, of the past year of gain, loss, growth, learning and change. It is also a tiding of the future’s possibilities, the year to come, the time until the next birthday.The birthday itself should be a wonderful celebration of life. It can be of any sort to suit the child and/or the family – a party, a special meal, a sleepover, an outing, a movie, balloons, a cake, anything, anything out the ordinary.

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Children need to feel every day, but especially on their day of birth, that they are loved and valued. They need some extra attention sometimes and this is the perfect day to do it!

I write a note to each of my grandchildren on their birthday. I tell them how much I love them, how glad I am they were born and how proud I am of them. Presents come and go, but they will always have my birthday notes. If they are ever feeling down or unsure of themselves, they can read my little letters and hopefully feel the love in my words.

Every birthday should make the recipient feel better, happier, appreciated and loved. Remembering our loved ones’ special days is our duty and should be our delight.

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Children adore being remembered and fussed over. I adore remembering and fussing over my grandchildren, so it is a win-win situation for us.

Wishing all my Sweeties a Happy Birthday, whenever it is!!!