Shhhhhhhh…they’re sleeping

We are in the throes of Winter. And I LOVE it! We live in the part of the Midwest that is usually just too far South for the real snows but too far North for the icy weather.

Most of the time. But this year, we are enjoying what I like to call Real Winter.

You know, cold temps, frozen precip, MEASURABLE snowfall???

And I really do love it. Being a girl from the North (Wisconsin and North Dakota) married to a guy from Alaska, somehow our variable weather here in Missouri does not generate much of a Winter.

Generally speaking.

But this year is looking a whole lot better for those of us who are partial to the white, fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, we enjoyed a single snowfall of over 12 inches. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

My sweet husband, who has a modified version of shoveling (let’s just say I am a bit more thorough and particular), agreed that since we were expecting so much snowfall, it might actually be worth shoveling the ENTIRE driveway and front porch midway through the storm, as opposed to merely removing a walking path to the street…

I know. Seriously. Why would anyone need more than a single, narrow path to the street when your driveway slopes 45º toward the house…

Maybe to GET THE CAR  OUT OF THE GARAGE and UP THE HILL???

But I digress…he had to fully shovel twice, and still the snow came down. The weight of the snow would not have been safe to shovel for people like him who are blessed with a tiny, metal screen-like straw inserted to hold the major coronary artery open…you know, shoveling and heart attacks and all that.

Midway through the snowfall,  after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

Midway through the snowfall,
after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

A greater portion of the day was spent cooking and watching the snow fall and hearing absolutely nothing.

Our massive Newfoundland/Lab/Chow mix dog, Joe Bear, did not want to come inside. Or STAY inside. Between the snow and the smells from the kitchen, he made numerous trips in and out to check on the progress.

Joe Bear: Why'd you make me come inside???

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

But the next morning, the beauty of the fallen snow was an amazing sight. And the winds that followed the snowfall made the landscape look as though a sculptor had been at work. A divine Sculptor, indeed.

Wind carved drifting

Wind carved drifting

Ripples in the snow

Ripples in the snow

Our entire world was covered in a very thick blanket of white. St. Louis was totally shut down. Most schools did not reopen until Friday, using many snow days with that single snowfall. Buses could not make it through the streets and most side streets in many municipalities went without benefit of a snowplow for days.

But I was very nearly entranced by the beauty of the snow.

And the ice crystals on the windows.

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

More crystal formations on the glass

More crystal formations on the glass

It had been so long since I had seen that kind of beauty. I just stood at my door and looked out the window. Little Froglegs came and stood with me. Just looking silently.

Then he said softly, “Nana, I am so sorry all your flowers died.”

I was surprised. Here I was, reveling in the beauty of my covered yard, under that fluffy blanket of snow, and my little tender hearted guy was sad about my dead flowers.

“Oh, it’s all right, buddy. It’s like a picture. You know how Jesus died for us on the cross, but then He came back to life and now He lives in heaven? My garden will come back to life in the Spring,” I explained.

Froglegs was quiet for several minutes, just looking out the door with me. Then he said, “I understand, Nana. I really do! I get it!”

In spite of the frigid temperature outside, my heart was warm standing there with my Froglegs. It was a beautiful moment to share. And the reminder of the Spring yet to come. My garden will enjoy the benefit of that blanket of snow, and Froglegs will have a memory of that important lesson learned from that big snowstorm of 2014.

My Winter Paradise

My Winter Paradise

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Beware the little mouth…

Every day I am surprised by the continuing development of the kids around my house.

I know I should never be surprised by it, but I am.

Bam Bam has been testing the boundaries lately. Something so very normal for a child of two and a half.

It’s a bit of humor that I get to share with his parents when I give them the daily report.

The other day, I had to correct Bam Bam. He likes to play in the doorways, but with pinched fingers…well, I try to discourage playing with the doors.

So I first told him not to play in the doors. He proceeded to play in the doors.

I told him a second time not to play in the doors. He continued playing in the doors.

Finally, I used my stern voice and made myself undeniably clear in what my expectation was regarding him playing in the doors.

“Nana,” said Bam Bam, “you don’t tell me ‘no’. You say ‘yes’ to me.”

At that moment, we enjoyed a very up-close and personal “eye to eye” conversation about who says yes, no and makes the rules and who listens and obeys.

We settled the issue of the doors…and have now moved on to the next one…sharing. Sort of a revolving door around these parts, if you will pardon the cheesy play on words.

Don’t you love it when a child instructs you, the adult, to share?

Yes. I share all my toys with everyone. But when the turn taking gets out of control and the midgets forget who OWNS the toys…well, they shouldn’t tell ME to share MY toys.

Cookie has come into her own in terms of fighting, and I truly mean fighting, for what she decides is hers. She and Bam Bam had a number of issues sharing the toys today.

I frequently had to remind the kiddos that I share all of my toys. They always look at me the same way.

“These are YOUR toys, Nana?” Why they say it so incredulously still amazes me. We have this same discussion each and every day.

“Yes. They are MY toys, and I SHARE.”

“You share with me, Nana?” asked Bam Bam.

“I share with ALL of you.”

“You share with ALL of US, Nana?”

“Yes. I share with ALL of you. But when you aren’t nice and don’t share My toys, then I have to put the toys away.”

“That’s not nice, Nana. You have to SHARE. Sharing is nice.”

Ummmmm, that sort of was the point. All that repeating our conversation to each other a gazillion times…

“Nana, if you put the toys away and don’t share, you will need a time out.”

Sigh. Will someone PLEASE give me a time out?

Playing Favorites

I refuse to post any pictures.

I don’t want to take any and I don’t want to share any.

BUT, I do want to know if any of you are guilty of playing favorites. Come on. Be honest…

Do you try to give the impression that all of your children or grandchildren are equally loved? That none is more lovable than another? Uh huh…

Well, today I have a confession to make.

The plumber is my favorite.

He comes when he is called. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work. (And I do mean dirty…). He doesn’t leave his tools out…when he is done, he leaves.

And I don’t even regret the exorbitant price I have to pay to get rid of the toilet paper clogging the pipe.

I know. Couldn’t it have been a toy? Or…rag or something? Did it really have to be toilet paper?

I told him we use Scott tissue. We even use the kind that is suitable for septic systems. He nodded. Complimented me on our choice of tissue. (Yay for me…)

When you have a bunch of little people…well, let’s just say that the plumbing can take a beating. I told our friendly plumber that I have had to call for de-clogging services at least three times since January.

Sigh…he told me that the roots are generating a separation in the sewer line…and that will need to be repaired…ugh…

I can now anticipate the digging up of my front yard. (Hopefully, my garden that wraps and winds around the yard will be spared…but who knows?)

But there IS a silver lining…since we live in St. Louis County, the repair is covered.

See why the plumber is my favorite?

 

Transitions

I do not like them. Nope.

Transitions are not on the list of my favorite things. I imagine I could find a way to make it seem like a positive thing, but really, don’t all transitions really have one thing in common?

You know…loss???

Each year, I seem to go through a transitional period with the little kids who joyfully come to my house so that I can coo with them, cuddle with them, teach them how to go potty, how to share, how to play nicely…you know…all that stuff that we do to with small children.

About the time the kids have learned to share, wash their hands independently AFTER going potty like such a big boy/girl, they are out the door and headed to pre-school.

Great. I do all the hard work, and those lucky pre-school teachers have it made in the shade. What do they DO all day?

Just kidding…believe me, I really am just kidding!

But the truth is that every day, I do my job. I love them and nurture them…cleaning their dirty bottoms and wiping their boogie noses. I sing and play and get all crazy with them. It’s my job and I love it.

But then we come to the transition.

At this point in life, they can talk, walk, self-feed, go potty…and some of them even get pretty good at talking smack and having a certain je ne sais quoi about coming to Nana’s house.

That is the transition. They are ready to move onward and upward. No longer is Nana’s house the magical place. They have outgrown their need for Nana.

It is a bittersweet period. While I am thankful that they have reached the pinnacle of life at Nana’s, it is still truly a sad reality that they are moving on and away from my care.

I am so proud of the big boys and big girls who are “leaving the nest” and going to the big school with the big playground and lots of toys and making new friends and learning even more about life and how to live it.

But I am sad, too. Those little chubby faces and pudgy fingers and toes are now toddler faces, with not so pudgy fingers and toes. They are not interested in nuzzling into my shoulder anymore. When I pick them up, they squirm to get down.

In the last three months, I have said good bye to “Australia” and now to “Vesuvius”. In the not too distant future, Bam Bam will be moving on to pre-school as well.

On the flip side, a new little bundle has just been born, and soon she will start her own journey with me. This little sister of two brothers who have already moved on from Nana’s house to pre-school and kindergarten.

These transitions are emotional for me and the parents. Tears and lumpy throats as we say good bye. But we also share a certain joy at the successes we have had as we learned all about each other and figured out how to draw out the wonderful strengths of each child and found ways to temper the not-so-wonderful things, so that in the end, each child could transition into the next leg of life’s journey with a bit more confidence.

Tomorrow will be our first day without our little volcanic eruptions. I don’t know exactly how that will look or sound, but we will figure it out and continue on this path we are on…step by step, until it is time for the next transition.

Saying good-bye to my little volcano

Saying good-bye to my little volcano

It’s All About the Attitude

I am finding myself too often consumed by the daily distractions of my life to sit and ruminate on something, much less write about it. I thought about taking a hiatus from my blog just because I cannot keep up with my personal expectations for myself.

Do any of you suffer from that? Are you constantly failing in your own opinion of yourself? Well, I often suffer from that virus.

So I told Superman that maybe I would not write for awhile. He, of course, was all about encouraging me to not give up on writing completely but just give myself the right to not post every. single. day.

Those of you who have faithfully been following me know that I am not keeping up with my original goal. I just can’t.

So I thought, why not write just once a week? He said not to commit to that often or limit myself too much either. He is a smart man. I am blessed to have him for my confidant and best friend.

When you care for children all day and have grandchildren living with you, there isn’t a lot of time to just BE. That time to have peace and quiet and do the things that only you can do. And so often that makes me feel like a failure.

I don’t have the same energy I had when I was raising my own children. There is a very strong argument that could be made regarding having your children while you are still young and fit enough to run and play.

But I still play. And never could really run…asthma went undiagnosed for too many years and I always had so much pain in my chest when I did try to run. Anyway, I digress.

I like to be silly with my little friends. We dance to silly songs and run in circles and play follow the leader. Doesn’t that sound all nice and rosy?

But as is the case so often with humans, there are times when little people get selfish or temperamental and need a little course correction. An attitude adjustment.

I try to make the corrections relevant and easy to understand. Apparently, that can be annoying.

Curly Top used to be this angelic child. Sweet and innocent and compliant. Whoever stole that from her, please return it. Immediately.

This week, on two subsequent days, that little Diva shared her attitude with me. I feel called to share it with all of you. Just a wee bit of insight into the developing personality of my only granddaughter.

That child who is so sweet can really spark a fire with her little mouth and attitudes.

She was sitting on the couch being annoying. Not really being naughty, just whiny and complaining and uncooperative. I suggested that maybe she needed a nap.

And without dropping a beat, she said, “I don’t think so!” With all the attitude you can imagine. Her mother and I looked at each other and it made us raise our eyebrows.

The following day, she and the other cherubs were running back and forth through the house, stopping and starting at the front door. (Apparently there is a code that determines who gets to be in which spot at the front door. And the spot by the door knob is prime real estate.)

Curly Top believed that prime real estate was her designated space. And pushed the others out of it. Hmmm, that seemed to be a great opportunity to discuss kind treatment and gentle hands and nice words.

“Curly Top, you need to gentle with your hands and say kind words to your friends. It isn’t nice to be selfish and mean to your friends,” I said, looking her in the eyes.

No response. She turned her face away. I turned her face back to look at me and held her chin in my hand.

“Do you understand?” I asked.

“Okay!” she replied, with a great deal of sass and completely devoid of sincerity.

I tried again.

“Say it with a nice voice,” I said, still holding onto her chin.

“Okay!” she growled, still with a great bit of sass, but less vehemence.

A third time. “You need to have a gentle mouth. Say it with a nice voice,” I said as I continued to look her in the eyes and hold onto her chin.

“Okay,” she responded. It wasn’t very sweet, but the sass at least seemed to be gone.

I turned from her and as I walked away, she muttered, “Finally!” with the sassiness of a thirteen year old. I couldn’t believe it.

She sounded just like a certain child of mine did…it brought back a lot of memories.

But that child, who can be so full of joy and laughter, is a little sinner, just like me. And her stinky attitude is exactly like mine when my attitude needs some readjusting.

I find that when my attitude stinks, it is because I am just not thinking about the things I should be thinking about. There are so many things that generate a right attitude, it shouldn’t be that difficult to have the right attitude, but we allow things to sour us.

That is when it feels like God takes hold of my chin, looks me in the eyes, and says to me:

Philippians 4:8

…whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—
if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

If I am dwelling on the truth, the honorable, the just and pure…If I am thinking about the lovely and those things that deserve commendation…If I make certain that there is moral excellence and praiseworthiness, won’t I have a right attitude?

I find that as I get older, I just don’t have time to dwell on the negative. I can’t afford the cost. I fail. I fall short.

But God daily pours out His love, His grace, His mercies over me. No matter how I fall short, He is there, faithfully forgiving me and demonstrating to me, over and over and over, how much He really loves me.

Even if I don’t write in my blog every day.

Philippians 2

So if there is any encouragement in Christ,
any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit,
any affection and sympathy, complete my joy
by being of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but
in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.  

Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Do you need to adjust your attitude? Where do your thoughts dwell?

Little Miss Mind-Your-Manners…

Yes...YOU!

Yes…YOU!

Have any of you been struggling with the flu? Or maybe an extended case of the creeping crud? Or maybe bronchitis?

If you watch the news, you will know right away that you are not alone.

There. Do you feel better? I didn’t think so.

The reason I bring up this topic is because the “seasonal” illnesses have been such an awesome learning opportunity for the little people in my house.

Over Christmas, my youngest grandchild and my son-in-law were so gracious that they shared their nasty virus with me. Sharing. I think I once wrote about it being highly over-rated?

Anyway, it knocked me on my backside. And then…the holidays were over, and the little cherubs came back…one by one.

Someone showed up with a boogie nose. And then sneezes. Someone else showed up with a yucky cough. And like good little doobies, they all shared.

{Could someone please explain to me WHY three year old toddlers think LICKING THE TOYS is a great way to play? Gross.} But I did discover that you can put wooden blocks through the dishwasher without them getting ruined. Several times. (I used a mesh laundry bag. See? I shared.)

So…as someone who suffers from asthma and chronic bronchitis, I really don’t get colds. I just get really sick. And for some reason, my asthma has gotten worse the last few years, and I don’t know why. Could it be because I live in the 6th worst city for allergies and asthma?

The asthma attacks are scary, for me and for my family. Last night, I had a bad attack. But it also came with a silver lining. Sort of.

An aside here: Do you ever wonder if you are getting through to little people when you are training them in manners? Well…I have confirmation that they really do listen.

As I was coughing and gasping for air, little Curly Top stood right next to me and whispered, “Nana, cover your mouth. Nana, you’re coughing. Cover your mouth.”

Yes. I was coughing. But I was holding onto the counter because I felt like I was about to black out. No. I wasn’t using the manners and rules I have been teaching. I was struggling to breathe. And I couldn’t get my inhaler inhaled because I couldn’t stop coughing. It was scary. I was afraid. My daughter was afraid. She almost called 9-1-1.

And little Miss Manners? She was very persistent. The entire time I coughed, she reminded me of the rules. Very softly, but also very insistently.

Once I got calmed down, I was able to chuckle about it. Now, the proof of this pudding is that when SHE coughs, she actually does tuck her little face into her elbow. Ever so sweetly.

If only they would all read the article I sent out about not sharing germs in the first place…

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?