Texting With Grandma

Sixth grader Kayleigh on the beach near her house
One of my favorite parts of each weekday is between 10:30 and 11:30 (ET) when my cell phone tings! I know it'll be texts from my Flower...my 11 yo granddaughter on her way to school! It's  3 hours earlier in southern CA.  She texts (or sometimes calls) while walking 3/4 of a mile to the bus stop at Marina park, and somedays continues to text as the bus heads along the route to middle school. I look forward to her cheery good mornings, catching up on what's new...and  tidbits about the students boarding the bus!
Hi gma...we got the gift cds tk u soooo much
Good morning, mon fluer! u r welcome! TGIF!
The new Marina Park is open and is SO MUCH MORE FUN
Cool! I miss u sweet girl...ready for the wkend?
awwwww miss u 2. I hope u can come in March so u can see my room and go to the park
Hope so 2...we can ride r bikes
yesterday me and my friend went to the park and took abunch of videos of the nw stuff
wow...ur really ready for it! fun for ms kids too? Never too old, right?
have a great Friday my flower. off to do errands. LU
ok. u 2 love ya   omg...a kid I don't even know jst sat nxt 2 me!
Is he cute?
Practicing her viola (whom she's named Marge!)

That was the end of that convo....guess if he was looking over her shoulder, my comment was embarrassing.  LOL   I've gotten pretty good at this texting back and forth thing.....but sometimes it's easier to spell the word out than to think how to shorten it! She does a lot of letters only.....like nbd (no big deal) and idk (i don't know) which I can so 'coolly' use with my sister and older granddaughter now!

 Some evenings I'm delighted to hear from her again. It's after school and she's practicing her viola! I actually have several audio texts of her playing for me; including Christmas carols and Happy Birthday! (She taught herself in time to play for the twins....and I got a sneak preview/listen!)
Hi Gma, I'm going to play "Old McDonald Had a Farm." I feel that I've really progressed on my viola playing, so I just wanted to show you! I'm working on some of the harder notes now.

She plays it perfectly! 
And now "Jolly Old St. Nicholas!"......which sounds wonderfully Christmassy to me!
And now "Lightly Row" I'm really bad at this one.  Yes....some hesitant, scratchy sounds here, followed by 'you can probably tell I'm bad at that one! Now this is my D major scale.......a bit scratchy as well and trails off to the end.

Needless to say, I've starred this as a favorite and listen to it over and over! I called her immediatly to rave about her playing and got to hear more songs! I asked her permission to share it here on my Gramcracker Blog and she said "sure!"
However......no luck getting the audio onto here.

My oldest, McKenzie, taught me to text before we took her to Alaska 3 years ago. But she was a bit more reserved as she headed to school....have to have phones turned off, Gma! Nowadays she keeps it sweet and simple; answering my questions with ys, no, mb and sending me xxxx and ooooooo most evenings for our goodnights! She's more inclined to call and talk to me about stuff ....which I treasure!
 But Kayleigh has no worries.....my free spirit! I am so lucky to have this daily connection ...it's a limited window I know; but for now.....I'm her texting buddy and we're going to be texting up a storm as we get ready for our trip to NYC in April!

Kids Photo Poster

Look at my latest photo project for the Kid's Bedroom!
A 3 foot x 4 foot engineering print from Staples, laminated at Kinkos, decorative molding from Lowe's and wall letters from Michaels. All for less than $ 50!

Gramcracker goes to Nutcracker

I took my three youngest grandchildren to a local production of the Nutcracker this weekend. What an awesome experience! This was the first live performance they've seen; and since the daughter of a colleague was one of the dancers...it was even more exciting! Couldn't take any stage pictures....but these photos of my little muchkins say so much!

The twins, Paige and Lane, both take ballet lessons and have given recitals at their preschool. I love that it was especially reaffirming for Lane as he watched the male dancers leap and twirl and catch the ballerina on their shoulders. "That is so cool!" he exclaimed again and again.

 Paige was so intrigued throughout the whole thing, she forgot to suck her thumb!  She kept saying she wants to be in it next year!

She is wearing the hand-me-down dress from her cousin.....my oldest granddaughter....who wore it ten years ago when she watched my niece perform in the Nutcracker! I'm so happy my DIL sent it on to Paige! And look at my handsome 8 year old grandson.....he loved dressing up for it too! Kudos to my daughter for making this a very special occasion! I was so proud of them......and tickled to provide such an awesome brand new experience for them!

Grandpa's Christmas Ornaments

Grandpa started two very special traditions when our older granddaughters were young! Whenever he travels, he always sends a postcard to each child. Whether it’s back to the same states again and again. . .or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the land down under, he always finds five different cards, writes something about the area and what he/we’ve been doing and gets them mailed in the first few days of the trip!
The second “Grandpa thing” all the kids look forward to are their Christmas ornaments!  Gramps chooses something unique for each child from the time they’re born.  As they grow older, he thinks back through the year about something special that really captures a meaningful event, adventure or talent for him or her!  There's been horse camp, a little bookworm, the California move, karate, music lover, swimmer, a budding actress and dogsledding! 2012 is highlighting  interests in archery, volleyball, flag football and expert gaming!

They look forward to these every December as they celebrate the joys of the Christmas season. Their new personalized ornament from Grandpa is right up there with decorating the tree and house, baking goodies and making lists for Santa!

We used to head to the mall to the Ornament kiosks and select two; then three when our grandson came along. Once there was a sale “buy four, get one free”. . .so he bought one for our grand dog and one for us depicting our love for the beach! By the time the twins were born, he’d discovered online shopping and a wealth of online ornament vendors and selections. Nowadays he browses site after site where there’s bound to be that special one for each child; not only can it be personalized with their name and the year, but you have choices of gender/hair color/sports/artistic
skills/disabilities /school teams and much more.

Grandpa is getting just as much pleasure out of this awesome tradition. He prides himself on picking just the right thing for each child, and beams for days after they’ve excitedly opened the gift, hung it on the tree and jumped into his arms with a big thank you hug!

It’s especially heartwarming seeing them on the big girls’ tree. . .there are soooooo many by now!  And the younger ones eagerly anticipate what’s coming as soon as autumn fades.  He makes it a surprise of course, but they love to guess! What a wonderful collection they are acquiring; beautiful ornaments to cherish. . .AND a symbol of Grandpa’s love and pride! Looking at each one will tell them Grandpa was there. . .and that Grandpa knew this was an important time in their life. 



Almost Five

Gma, Paige and Lane on Thanksgiving, 2012
Our twins are almost five.......but first a story...

January, 1978....the moving van has left our Michigan lake house and we're not far behind as we head to our new home in Owensboro, Kentucky. The falling snow is pretty as we drive south.....but soon the hours and miles grow longer as pretty turns to heavy....then to whiteouts and icy roads. But on we drive, Michiganders that we are! Fiiiinaaallllly we arrive and check into a hotel for the night.
Eight year old Treg and Tracy who is almost five only have eyes for the heated indoor pool all the next day! Nice little treat....but then the call comes; the moving van and movers will not/cannot work in the snow covered streets of this southern town experiencing it's first heavy blizzard! Our hotel visit will become a total of 15 days!
Tracianna's coming birthday jumps to the top of my 'what to do' list. I called relatives back home to give them the hotel's mailing address...alerting the front desk of the possible flury of cards and gifts arriving soon! With a pocket full of dollar bills, Treg goes off to the gift shop over the next few days to buy presents (and trinkets he himself will enjoy!) Boxes and envelopes start to arrive, but the front desk folks agree to keep them out of sight in the office.
Tracy's Big Day arrives and we go down to breakfast with a few cards and Treg's gift bags behind his back. She is delighted to be five.....but asks "can we go swimming now?"
Mid afternoon, the staff calls to say we're invited to a special Birthday dinner in the dining room! YES! they have balloons, a cake and the presents and cards that have piled up in the "hotel hiding place!" A few of the wait staff sit and sing Happy Birthday to our sweet, five year old daughter...."It's a party" she squeals.......her eyes dancing with delight! 
No photos that night, but a picture has been sweetly buried in my heart until now.........her twins are  almost five and they love hearing this story about Mommy's "hotel birthday party!"


I retired the summer before they were born to help my daughter prepare; and have been part of the adventure ever since.
 I've spent the last few weeks gathering photos for my blog....Oh, what a walk down memory lane! First there was the ARRIVAL...three weeks before Christmas...making them the most unique holiday gift we'd ever received! Our own little Prancer and Dancer!   And although I've been in the other kids' lives from day one.....
something about caring for dos babies makes it more amazing. The cuteness times two.......(often times three as big brother helped out/loved on them.....and somedays became one of them!)

      They DO share a special bond, speak twin talk, and have each others back....most of the time.

They've gone from toddling partners-in-crime to savvy little tattlers who can say "he did it/she did it" faster than a speeding car! From dressed alike babies to gender friendly boy/girl outfits; from being called The Babies/The Twins/The Littles to becoming the kids or kiddos and whom we call by name now!

We've all watched young personalities emerge and blossom.....but watching it all unfold in 2D is awesome.......especially when the two peas in a pod are delightfully different! She can be  stubborn and mischievious like her mama was; he is our moral compass, making sure rules are followed and everyone gets a turn. Paige, my sweet valentine, is quick and eager to try anything.
 Lane is easy going and cautious....my smiling sunshine boy!

Cheering them on as they learned to crawl, walk and talk, praising the Lord when they learned to buckle themselves into their car seats, clapping excitedly as they ride bikes and scooters, climb the rock wall and run in the right direction during flag football! And now....as they're unlocking the keys to reading......I'm smiling with the bittersweet pride that comes with the words "growing up."

These little munchkins are "almost five" and looking forward to their upcoming party; inviting all their classmates to a rented jumping place and of course... two cakes! Their 8 yo brother will be joining in the fun as well........just like long ago when Mommy's big brother helped her celebrate!

"It's double the giggles and double the grins......and double the trouble when you're blessed with twins!"

           HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Prancer and Dancer!

Old Friends and Road Trips

My Mom always said old friends were the best! Those we’ve known practically since our beginnings!   Beginning school, being the new kid on the block, starting college or career, newly married, having kids. All those fresh starts we have in life where we gravitate to folks like us….eventually  bonding and sharing and growing along until one day;they've become life-long forever friends! Since so much of who we are is based on where we come from, it’s natural to continually reaffirm and.... 

                                                  Savor Old Friendships!

Spending time back home in Michigan the past few summers, my husband and I connected with family and pals from childhood, high school, first jobs and those who were there when we met and married! Lots of retelling……and rehearing…..the same old stories, but the laughter was always fresh! We needed to rehash, recall and relive some of those important moments in time that tend to stick. And as always these days, the conversation eventually turns to our children...yikes, how can they be pushing 50 while we’re still so young?…and our grandchildren! From a brand new great-grandchild to a granddaughter off to college, we nodded and clapped and shared in each others’ pride and joy in these precious rewards we receive for raising our own kids!

                                                        Road Trip North

Sometimes a 2 hour trip by plane,
 but usually a two-day road trip each way!  Oh what fun we'd have! Blue highways where you can take your time and see small town America; try Mom and Pop diners and pizza joints, see farm after farm with dairy cows, corn fields, bales of hay and handsome horses grazing around every curve in the road! It’s always a favorite to see the Amish folks in Northern Indiana out and about in their horse pulled carts. One time we were passing through local town Festivals…..so the carriages were filled with families and they were everywhere. I have so much respect for these people and was especially pleased to see some had embraced safety over modernization and installed stop lights and blinkers on their carts!  

We listened to Kid Rock and Seger  CD’s in Michigan of course, sang along (over and over again) to “Ain’t that America, you and me;  ain’t that America, home of the free” all through Mellencamp’s Indiana.  By Tennessee we’d moved onto Travis Tritt’s “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares”……..and then a little Huey Lewis and Adele thrown in as we made our way home via more back roads!   Great fun…….singing along as the miles go by always seems shorter! Reluctantly, we'd have to tune it down, hook up with I75 and join the highway-free-for-all the last couple hours.
No photos to post……..but oh, so many pictures captured in our hearts.  The spilled wine, the scenery, the shouts of  “I love your hair/love your shoes,” and that side-hug-and-a-handshake guys do. Our old campus has grown and changed so much it’s hardly recognizable; and the welcoming smile of the pizza lady who’s still there……where my kids stood on those same little steps to watch the pizza dough twirl......she's still there!

                                                 The Roots That Grow Us

As time flows on, our friends mean more and more because we've all made the same journey together. Maybe not side by side in the same town, but certainly soul to soul and heart to heart over the years in phone calls, Holiday cards, visits home or shared vacation spots. Thanks to each of you who always found time to be with us for a few hours!  

Now it's Michigan time again; only I'll be going back alone this summer. I'm flying, the vibe will be different...but home is home. During the years we lived there, Winter Wonderland was fun as we skied and skated and sloshed through snow as if there was no other way of life. But after moving south and making regular visits home to see my folks,the highlight for me was driving under the Say Yes to Michigan sign after hours of driving! And although Pure Michigan addresses all that this great state has to offer, including the cities that cater to agriculture, hunting, industry and shopping; my favorite is the new Lakeshore Galore slogan! The Great Lakes state has over 11,000 inland lakes, one on which we owned a house for many years. Friends and relatives have lake homes 'up north' and 'down west' as the smaller lakes that lie along....and are fed by...Lake Michigan are referred to. This year I can't wait to visit a few more, have new adventures and make new memories! 

Kid's Clothing

Racks of Spring Sale Clothing

Every January and August, I spend several days  helping my daughter prepare for another consignment sale. As a new school year begins and kids need the next-sized jeans, thoughts turn to Fall Shopping. Used clothing sales are a big deal...Halloween costumes, holiday party dresses;  warm sweaters and pajamas are perfect prey for bargain hunters.

What a sentimental task this always is as I pin, label and attach little pink & blue hangers to all the clothing the kids have outgrown the previous seasons. This is the fifth year I’ve helped and I’ve pretty much got the hang of it now. It always makes me smile as a certain piece of clothing taps into my heart and sets me off on a walk down memory lane. First stop, the navy-with-red-stripes tee-shirt the little guy loves. I pick him up at school and it’s on backward with lunch and paint stains...and he’s running and leaping for a hug!!

Here are the ballet and tap shoes Missy wore for her dance lessons and recitals. And so many adorable little dresses...now outgrown. She  too races to greet me when I pick her up at school asking “do you like my pretty dress, Grandma?”

So many boys’ red sweatpants and t-shirts...(Ohio State Dad) and one girly pink and white hoodie with Buckeyes on the front from their Ohio Grandma.  Past sales have offered University of Michigan Blue and Gold outfits (U of M Mom) but I don’t see any this time around. 

Two powder blue long-sleeved shirts with a fleecy big beagle across the fronts, one of my many contributions to dressing the twins alike. These soft tops kept them so warm last winter...I can’t believe they don’t fit anymore!

The “Big Brother” tee that our oldest grandson wore is now too small, and so are the matching Pirate pajamas for the boys...or were they for the twins?   We’ve been creative, my daughter and I,  finding matching or complementary outfits at these sales for boy/ girl twins. Amazing the shades of blue that look good on little ladies. It's sad to say goodbye to the cool, pink, camouflage pants that matched her brothers’ dark green ones.

And here are past Holiday dresses, all lacy and velvety and ribbony. You know she’ll say no to fancy dresses in a few short years.  I close my eyes and see the boys looking so handsome in  these hunter green sweaters they wore in our Christmas pictures.

Suede polka dot boots and dress shoes are the final touches that go with mix & match leggings, tunics and jumpers, all covered in dots of various sizes and colors.  I loved every outfit she wore….well, the ones I actually saw her in. Dinner at a restaurant, off to the movies or visiting her classroom for Star Student Day, there she was looking adorable with that I-know-I'm-cute grin on her face!!

The munchkins will be joining their big brother at school soon. They're off to Kindergarten and he starts third grade. My daughter will be browsing the racks and buying "new" shirts and pants and shoes for them to wear. They will continue to outgrow their clothes in the years to come, but right now as I help get things sale-ready, I love knowing these precious pieces will be worn by new children and treasured by another Mom and Grandma!

Vacationing with Grandkids

Several years after vacationing with our first grandchild, I've taken four more trips with grandsons and granddaughters! I have linked them below so you can read about their adventures as well. All five have given me new experiences, kept me young and helped me become a travel blogger for seniors, solo wanderers and intergenerational activities. 

Middle of the sizzling summertime and I’m planning a winter vacation to NYC!  We committed to taking each of our five grandchildren on a trip of their choosing and now it’s our second granddaughter's turn.  At twelve, my Flower is the perfect age to research and explore what she wants to see and do. It actually feels good to think about ice skating at Rockefeller Center right now! 

After climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge several years ago, I wanted to share the experience with my Sunshine girl, the oldest grandchild. When the time came, she sweetly asked, “instead of Australia, is it okay if we go to Alaska instead?”  
As an animal lover living on the beach in Southern California, she was curious about this harsh, snowy environment and totally smitten with Alaskan Huskies. One of the states we’d never visited, it's full of history and a great place for a “doing” adventure! Top of the list was dog sledding. It felt like a magic carpet hovering above the snow and whisking us through the silent, white meadows again and again!  Not only did she mush, she was able to harness the dogs prior to our rides. Early April is still very wintertime in Alaska. We spent other days hiking mountain trails, cruising the Gulf of Alaska and touring behind-the-scenes at the SeaLife Center.

So...New York City during the holidays, or maybe her fall break from school. We’re definitely planning on The Lion King, Lady Liberty, FAO Schwarz, and of course, the ice rink!  The 9/11 Memorial is important too, she was born the day after. We love the idea of seeing the holiday-themed streets, parks and store window as only this city can do. My little fashionista, she’ll LOVE the shopping! And luckily, not only does she enjoy a good meal, but readily tries new foods! 

The younger ones couldn’t wait for their turn...that perfect 10-12 age range when they’re responsible but still accept hugs and grandma’s hand if necessary. 
My third trip was a dude ranch in Montana complete with cowboy boots and long hours in the saddle with my oldest grandson. The following year, his younger brother was up and he wanted to sleep on a train or in a treehouse. 
Grandma was growing older too and saving money to make sure the last little one got her chance. She favored swimming, sailing, sand dunes, horses and tea parties! Yes...we made it happen! Read about our Michigan lakeshore tour here.   
 I wanted them to choose what captured their imagination and curiosity.  Something to savor time with me as well as embrace the joys of travel. 

Our Kids As Parents

Arriving in terminal 1 at LAX, 
my granddaughters and I are first off the plane. 
We quickly head to the escalator. 
"Look!" they shout as it rises.
Up ahead through the double doors wait Mom and Dad, 
bending over to see up as we lean down to wave back. 
And suddenly there they were, 
all wrapped in a bear hug in my son’s arms.

Arriving at the pool with 4th of July cupcakes, 
I  see my daughter in the middle of the pool
surrounded by her three munchkins.
One on her shoulders,
one hanging on her back 
and one doing flips in front. 
My younger grandkids wave, 
but I see and hear only her, whooping and laughing
with joy and delight 
as they perform again and again!

These are the moments captured only by the heart, 
but it's something more.
Internal, maternal and eternal. 
Like a smile coming from the soul, 
I feel so much love and admiration for these two 
as I watch them parent their own children. 
Thanks go to God...and to my husband! 
What an amazing  job we did, huh?  
We are forever parents and 
the sense of pride just keeps growing.

From Grandma's Flower

Over the last 10 days Grandma’s Sunshine and Flower visited G and G’s house. We made the journey from California and left our parents so we could spend all our time with Gramcracker and Gramps. We arrived late the first night and were toooooooo excited to sleep! We visited our cousins so much I can’t remember the days. It was such a special treat to see them considering we only come every summer or so. We also went for lots of swims, three times the first day! My hair began to feel like dried spaghetti. I was proud of myself because in one of those swims we went to Wills Park and I jumped off of the high dive! It felt like I was falling off a cliff, but in a good way. Thanks Grandma for catching it on video.

One of those days, I met a new friend. I helped Grandma pick out a cat at the animal shelter! We were so glad to save Burney, since he’d been in there since January. I'm so sad to leave Georgia, but glad to get back to my California home! I’ll miss the pool, the new cat, and Grandma and Grandpa the most.

Grandma’s Flower/Granddaughter #2

My Gramcracker Crumbs Facebook Logo
Grandma's Sunshine here.  Just wanted to say I hope you all like the new logo!
 Yes, I am the artist! :) -Granddaughter #1




Chess.....never learned to play/never paid any attention/never really cared. Then  my young grandson announced  he belonged to the Chess Club at school and did I want to play?!?!
He was staying with us for a few days; but rainy, cloudy weather meant no swimming or the park......so off we went to the Dollar Store to buy a chess set.
After two hours engaged with this game and this little guy, my
brain loved the feeling of something new and challenging!

There were no instructions with the box, so he carefully talked his way through, telling me the names of each piece, the various moves and giving me a "do over" when I made a bad decision!
Serendipity......that happy,unexpected pleasure that touches your soul and makes your heart happy! I am delighted to have learned something new (who knows how much I'll recall come tomorrow) .....but mostly tickled that this sweet, baseball-ready, wii champ, trivia expert and perpetually-in-motion boy.....put on his teaching cap and taught this ol' gal a new trick!

Sandwich Generation...Woman in the Middle

This is an evergreen piece I've updated many times. I originally wrote the first part about my summer vacation to share with my fourth grade students. It was also a contribution to the sandwich generation stories going around a few years ago. I then included the piece I wrote about slowly losing mom and the impact she had on all our lives. 

So much of who we are is based on where we come from, but today I’m thinking more about the beginnings, the in-betweens  and the here-and-nows.  As I move into the autumn of my life, I think the greatest contribution, the greatest achievement we make toward bettering the world are OUR CHILDREN. Give them life, allow them to grow, be themselves, carry on family traditions and values, then hope they give us grandchildren! I’ve been missing my Mom lately and why I feel the need to write and reflect on the this generational cycle.

I remember when I turned 50...right in the middle of life! I was so lucky to have my still-youthful-fun-to-be-with parents on one side and my two awesome adult kids on the other. Most of the time they think I'm still fun…and now I have grandkids who love to hang out with me.

As the years passed, I became the caretaker in the middle…helping out with the folks; helping out with the grandbabies.  I was never a sandwich person (just plain turkey with nothing on it) but there I was, an active member of the Sandwich Generation!  Defined as 'simultaneously caring for parents and children; a man or woman pulled in two directions,' I never felt anything but joy. These years became the time in my life I cherished most!

One summer I spent three weeks with my granddaughters in California and another two weeks with mom in Michigan. Like a “filling” rich in taste and texture, I was full of love, patience, smiles, excitement, helpfulness, hard work and yard work!
We shared sunshiny days, wish-upon-a-star nights, rainy mornings and rainbow afternoons. No beach for mom, but I got her outside at midnight to do the “starlight, star bright” thing just like the girls and I did.  The three of us splashed in rainy puddles and weeks later I coaxed mom to rediscover how refreshing cool raindrops can be; so what if her hair and shoes got wet!  I shared tales of family history with the girls and played the old game of “bread and butter” with them as mom always did with me.

Staying with the girls while their folks were away, I drove them to swimming and gymnastics and hula lessons. We played tag with the ocean waves, rode bikes, shopped, read volume 6 of Nancy Drew and planted seeds in the garden. My cuties taking turns sleeping in the middle with me was the BEST! 

The easy-going pace and companionship continued at mom’s house. I drove her to errands and to her volunteer job in the hospital gift shop. We pulled weeds, planted perennials, played card games and took slow walks around the block. I heard more family stories, read large-print magazines and watched Lifetime movies with her each night.  One of things I'll always treasure is Mom bringing me coffee in bed each morning! That was the BEST!  

Way cool, just being me doing the same thing in both places!  Sandwiches spoil if you don’t use them, so when I got back home, I babysat my new grandson, caught up on my reading and gardening and helped build a rock garden with stones from my parents’ backyard.
That summer I was an overflowing Dagwood sandwich savoring the strong and comforting  threads of family connections.

Flash forward a few years and I have two more grandchildren! Mom loved meeting these newest additions to our family...boy/girl twins! I retired from teaching to help care for them and to be able to visit Mom more frequently.  She used a walker or cane at times, but was always up for something fun when I was in town! Lunch, shopping, a movie.  Many days our conversations dissolved in fits of giggles since we shared the same sense of humor!

But all good things must come to an end. By the summer of 2010, I'd been flying back and forth to Michigan to spend a week or so at a time with her every month, just as my siblings took turns sleeping over or checking on her.  But after several falls we...and she...realized she could no longer live on her own. She'd had rigorous rehab to get her back to living independently; but I think she grew to like and depend on the extra help and daily attention. This ultimately helped her make the BIG decision. We spent weeks asking her over and over and every which way, "do you want to do this?  Move out of your home and into assisted living?" YES she replied each time.

Bittersweet....cleaning out and closing the condo. It was nice to know she was happy in her new place; but sad for us kids not to have "home" to go to anymore.
Oh the rich treasures we discovered! Daddy's war medals, Mom's journals and their old love letters. Notes and cards we'd sent her as kids, and old photos and mementos  she'd saved from school, scouts and recitals. Thank you, Mom! How I wished I had a huge house to hold the vintage sewing machine, end tables, comfortable chairs, my grandmothers' China cabinets...all important pieces of the life that shaped me. Thankfully the old furniture found homes with members of my wonderful family!

She was delighted with her room where my brother and sister-in-law had placed some of her own furnishings and favorite things. She participated in activities like table volleyball and made new friends up and down the hall. She had the monitoring she needed, but otherwise was the same ol' Mom. 

Several months passed,  but eventually I got the call. "Mom is fading, not sure what's up, better come see for yourself, " my brother said. I didn't realize when I quickly booked a flight cross-country that I'd be spending her last 48 hours with her.  Slouched  in her comfy, gold armchair, a mix of protein bars and vending machine snacks by my side, I held the phone for her while she said her goodbyes and  held her hand as she made an effort to tell me last minute things. And then suddenly, my Dad and the angels were smiling. Goodbye Mom.

She once told me never to put her picture on the internet. Well guess what? We all posted photos that day. We wanted the world to know what a wonderful mother, grandmother and great grandmother she was!  In the days that followed we celebrated. Her six grandkids wrote beautiful messages to share from their tucked-away-books of childhood memories, and baby yellow roses represented her five great-grandchildren. All of us gathered again and again to share stories, raise our glasses and laugh like crazy through intermittent tears.

Stories like this one:  "It's 1968 and Detroit wins the pennant! Donna is in the Country Squire laying on the horn to celebrate. Bill's telling her to calm down and all of Patton Street is going cookoo." Thanks to my kid brother for sharing that memorable moment about our parents...he was nine years old at the time! 

We all love Donna and Bill stories. Sometimes it's just a small thing that'll trigger the memory file in our hearts to spring open, but all are guaranteed to make us laugh and cry at the same time. We were so happy that night in October, 2012 knowing they were smiling down as their beloved Detroit Tigers won again!

  It makes me happy now when I read old letters, recall childhood adventures and reflect with my sister and brothers on how awesome it was to have Mom for almost 88 years!  We still love sharing tales and playing "remember when" every time we get together. We have mom's diaries and photos, my dad's medals on display and the family heirlooms.
  Almost fifteen years later, still a plain turkey sandwich girl, I am touched that all five of my grandchildren met and knew her! Each one visited her home, napped on her lap or played at her feet. They ate dinner with her and drew pictures for her, all to her great delight! She commented that she was so lucky to meet them when each was born, but how wonderful that they were part of her life and that they still remember her!
My parents taught us the importance of family, allowed us to grow and become who we are today. Those traditions, traits and values we learned are so worth carrying on. From them, we gleaned how to parent our own children, and for me, being the oldest, how to be a  grandmother!
She also showed me how to age gracefully; to recognize that my children will one day be the man or woman in the middle of this ongoing life cycle. I hope I'll be as fun and youthful as mom and that my son and daughter can someday enjoy the rich and savory filling that spreads throughout the sandwich generation years.

Taking Care of Grandma

Learning to be a Grandma is ongoing and forever enlightening! I've been on this journey for 14 years and there's never a dull moment or a day when I've not learned something new, fun or worthy! Today.......I learned something about myself! I don't have to hover and help; prompt and provide. Kids are pretty self reliant and can rise to any occasion. Lying on the couch with ice packs on my eyes after minor surgery, the Littles kept time checks for me, brought me water bottles, carried their empty cereal bowls to the kitchen sink, mastered two remote controls for the TV and CD's and got their own snacks! All the things G & G do when at our house!
One is playing Legos and the other coloring; I hear "I have to go potty" running back to the bathroom. Seconds later, "Oh no, I peed on the floor!" Instead of jumping up to take care of it, I let it go. Sissy decides to help and next I hear "why'd you pee on the floor?.... Because that's the way my pee pee went.......Oh" and then all's quiet as the floor is dried. Next...."did you wipe?....need me to check?.....no, I'm good" And back they came to continue play. Amazing.......I never got off the couch or said a word....as of course I would have....being me!
Chuckling and so proud of them all day long.......but what has touched me the most is my respect for thier maturity and ability! Sometimes less is best, right? Knowing that I can spoil and coddle them in many ways.....but they're perfectly fine if I don't! Thank you, my sweet munchkins!