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.

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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!!!

 

 

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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!

Child eating out with his grandparents in a restaurant

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!

 

I Need My Veg Time, Granny

This seems to be the age of busyness, always moving, forever going, scheduled to the max and stress beyond measure. When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings ?

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And when did it become okay to involve our children in all this over-scheduling, busyness and stress? How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just. . . . be?

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It’s too easy to get caught up in a comfortable schedule where adults and kids are kept busy from sun-up to sun-down. It tells the world the parents are good, responsible, and active. It tells the world the kids are involved, active, smart and well-rounded. What it doesn’t tell the world is that everyone is exhausted, tired, stressed, unhappy, with no time to form the relationships and community that we all so desperately need.

Even people who you think might be able to enjoy some down time pile errands on top of volunteering on top of working out on top of, well, you name it. When the children get home from school, they race from one activity to another and if at some point, life seems to calm down, then it is time to take on a big construction project, get a dog or have a another baby.

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With summer here, our kids are home more and we have more time for what really matters each day. Relax the schedule at least a bit. Allow for what Mac calls his “veg time” – unscheduled relaxed “being time”.

Lat’s all lean into a better us, a better community of friends. When someone asks “How are you?” let’s assume that’s exactly what they want to know. Not the many items on your to-do list, nor the many requests in your inbox. Assume they want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tel them how your soul is – happy, sad, aching, worried, whatever. Examine yourself and tell them about YOU!

Put your hand on the arm of the person to whom you are speaking, look them in the eye (and not constantly at your handheld device) and connect for one second. Tell something personal. Remember we are full and complete human beings who also crave undivided attention and friendships.

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Kids need the same as adults – time off from an over-scheduled life and a balanced existence. Sometimes that means unstructured play and relationship with other kids and sometimes it means electronically disconnected time alone with a book. Not every activity requires a team with a play schedule, a coach, a snack list and uniforms.

Children also desperately want to be heard when we ask “How are you?” I challenge us all to insist on a type of connection where when one of us responds, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up with, “I know Sweetie. We all are. But I want to know about YOU and how I can help.

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One Perfect Moment

It was not a holiday. Just a Sunday afternoon, about 3:30 pm as I remember.

There were no streamers. Just a small audience of friends and families.

There were no fireworks. Just the sounds of applause after each child played their musical number.

Nothing all that special, but just right in its own way – one music recital, one afternoon, one perfect moment.

Our grandson Mac has been playing the drums for almost two years now and is getting pretty good. He enjoys it, which is the most important part.

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He doesn’t actually smile while he drums, except, of course, when he sees a familiar face in the audience. Then there is the briefest grin and sparkle in his eyes. Otherwise, he is very serious and most intent.

Drumming after all, is serious business at this point. He seems more confident than at the last recital and is able to smoothly go from drum to drum to cymbal and back again. But all that requires thought, memory and attention.

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Mac played his recital number, “God Bless America”, flawlessly. All that practicing really paid off. He kept the beat, played the off-beats, made the riffs, and ended with a cymbal slap. Video cameras and cell phones were poised and recorded every second of the wonderful musical event.

We, meaning both sets of grandparents and his mother, were proud beyond reason. We clapped and shouted, smiled and laughed, pointed and high-fived.

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After the entire recital of drum, piano, and guitar numbers, we hugged and praised the budding musician. All attention was on him and his two minutes of fame.

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Then we all went home with joy and pride in our hearts. We relived that special time in our minds for days. Now we are enjoying watching the video of our prized drummer on the TV.

That’s all there was – just an afternoon. Just a recital. Just a perfect moment preserved forever in our memories.