Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom passed away in October, 2010 and I have been thinking of her all day.  We used to send her a card every year and flowers or some other little gift.  But the best part of Mother’s Day and every Sunday was chatting on the phone. We could talk for over an hour–sometimes we pushed 2 hours on the phone.  We lived over a thousand miles apart and only saw each other once or twice a year.

We chatted about everything and anything.  We might talk about any upcoming trips that Bob and I were planning, our kids and the shock we both felt that her grand kids were inching up on 30, my siblings and their kids, my dad, her health, my dad’s health, gardening, or the current class I was working on in school.  Or maybe she told me about her latest volunteer project or that she was able to adopt out a rescued cat or dog from the no kill animal shelter that she founded.

She would chat about when she was a child and growing up in the Connecticut/New York area and how much she loved it there and how much she missed it.  We would reminisce about our family and all the crazy stuff our family did, the trips we took and the fun we had.  There were eight of us kids, six boys and two girls.  Between the eight of us, there were 20 grandchildren, so my mom always had news about someone’s kids.

The topics we talked about didn’t matter–it just mattered that we chatted every week.

I miss our weekly chats, and although she’s been gone since 2010, just the other day I was wishing I could pick up the phone and tell her all about a sundress I just finished making for my little granddaughter.  I knew she would love it.  My mom loved to sew and she would have loved to make dresses for her little great-granddaughter.

I am so grateful for all the wonderful conversations I had with my mom.  All the Sunday evening chats.   I will cherish the memories forever.

Happy Mother’s Day!



Time for gardening!

What a great feeling to wake up this morning and realize that finally, after a winter that seemed like it would go on forever, spring had arrived and it was time to plan what I would plant in my garden this year.  It was time for gardening!

I was like a “kid in the candy store” today.  Only my “candy” was gardening supplies.  I could hardly wait to stroll through the garden store and select a few pots for planting seeds.  And soil, must have soil.  I always like to get a few plants that have already been started.  It’s satisfying to look out the window and see plants already  growing.  It makes me less impatient for the seeds to take root and grow.

Although we recently downsized and moved to an apartment, I am so happy that I can still garden. It’s a small container garden on the patio, but, it’s a garden.

There is just something about gardening.  It’s that feeling of pride and satisfaction at accomplishing something.  Salad tastes so much better when the lettuce and veggies came from your own garden.  And, maybe there is a beautiful flower arrangement in a vase on the table.  The colors seem so much more vibrant and the scent is more fragrant when the flowers have been picked from your own garden. And the herbs.  I love cooking with my fresh herbs and I always look forward to a cup of fresh peppermint tea.

The funny thing is,  I never used to think of myself as much of a gardener.  As a young child I knew the difference between a tree and a flower.  My mom used to tell us the names of some of the trees and flowers and eventually I knew some of the names, too.  But I never gave much thought to houseplants or gardens.  We had a few houseplants, but not a garden.  Taking care of the plants was not one of my chores, so I barely acknowledged that they were there.

I knew that farmers grew vegetables. And in the summer time we would sit on the back porch and snap beans, shell peas and shuck corn.  I knew that corn grew really tall and in the summers we used to go to Iowa to visit my grandma and we passed corn field after corn field.

When I was twelve, we moved from Indiana to Michigan and again, we had some houseplants and my mom had a small flower garden outside.  And again, I wasn’t responsible for taking care of them beyond watering them once in a while if I was asked to.  Other than that, I didn’t really have a lot of interest in the plants.  I noticed the flowers a little bit more because they were so colorful and pretty to look at.  We lived out in the country on 40 acres of land and I loved to take long walks and enjoyed all the wildflowers growing in the fields.

I’m not really sure exactly when, but at some point my sister took over the care of the houseplants.  Over the years the plants were starting to look a little sad.  My mom stayed busy between running kids to activities (there were eight of us kids) and always having activities of her own, and the plants weren’t getting the attention they used to get. So, my sister just kind of volunteered and took over the plants.   She nursed them back to health and they were looking the best they had looked in years.

Then it happened. My sister decided to get married and then she moved with her husband to a state a few thousand miles away. As they hugged each other good-bye, my sister’s last “command” to our mom was, “take good care of the plants.”

We stood there in the yard waving until their car was out of sight.  My mom continued to cry for several days, because after all, her “baby,” her oldest child, had just left on a road trip that would take her far, far away.  Or, was she crying because she had just been instructed to take care of the plants?

Fast forward about a year, and we were coming up on my wedding.  My  husband and I actually met at my sister’s wedding.  My husband and her husband were best friends and had met while they were stationed together in the Navy.

So, there we were, just about two weeks from my wedding.  One day, as I passed through the kitchen, on my way to the living room, my mom told me she needed my help with something. She was in the kitchen, baking.  She told me she was getting nervous.  I asked her why she was nervous and she said because my wedding was just two weeks away and that meant my sister would be arriving soon.  But she didn’t seem excited to see her.  As a matter of fact, she said that’s what was making her nervous, that my sister would be, “here, in the house.”

I shrugged, not quite following her. I laughed when my mom said she thought my sister might notice the plants hadn’t gotten the loving attention that she had been instructed to give them.

I glanced up and looked at the plant sitting on the kitchen window sill. Oops, I guess the plants had indeed been neglected.  Were they all like that?  I took a quick tour of the living room and dining room.  Yes, the plants definitely hadn’t had the loving attention they should have had.

Well, I had been busy planning a wedding and working full-time.  I didn’t have time for the plants.

Of course, I had to concede that my mom didn’t really have a lot of time for them either.  With my older sister and brother out of the house, and I soon would be moving, she still had five more kids she was busy with.  Between their activities and her own activities, she really was busy and I could easily see how the plants could get neglected.

We agreed that my sister would definitely notice the plants were, um, not quite alive.

My mom’s idea was that maybe we could buy all new plants to replace the plants that were more or less gone.  She wanted to buy plants that looked exactly like the existing ones, only they would be healthy plants and my sister would be tricked into thinking they were the same plants.

My idea was to get rid of the dead plants, buy all plastic plants, put them in dirt and dust them once in a while and then she would never have to worry about them again.

We took a trip to the nursery. We agreed that neither of our ideas were going to fool my sister and that the best plan would be to just buy a few new plants and ‘fess up to my sister that somehow “her” plants had been neglected.

Over the next week and a half or so, we joked about how my sister would react when she realized that her plants had been mistreated.   Of course we both knew she wouldn’t really be mad, but, it was fun joking about it and knew that my sister would get a good laugh out of it.

Finally, the big day arrived.  No, not my wedding day.  The day my sister and brother-in-law were to arrive in town for the wedding.

I was home when they arrived, and my mom said how glad she was that I was there for moral support.

Then, we saw their car as it pulled into the driveway.  And the next thing we knew, they were in the house.  After a round of hugs, my sister blurted out, “So, you killed the plants, didn’t you?” She had noticed the plant on the kitchen window sill was different and just presumed that the rest of the plants had died.

My love for gardening gradually developed over the years.  I started with houseplants and unlike the poor, neglected houseplants at my mom’s house, I found that I had a knack for caring for plants and loved them.  When we had kids, I learned about poisonous plants and kept those away from the kids and eventually got rid of them completely.

After a visit to my sister’s house and a tour of her garden, I discovered how easy it is to grow herbs and vegetables.

I started small and eventually added more herbs and veggies to my garden each year.

Now, we have a smaller living space and I’ve had to go back to a smaller garden.  But I will always have the desire to plant a garden.  Besides providing fresh veggies, fruit, herbs and flowers, the act of gardening is good for you. The benefits are good for the mind, body and spirit.








Just want to add a few words about my garden this year.  I have a small container garden, mostly herbs and two tomato plants.  I love gardening and love containers.  It’s so relaxing.  And makes you feel so good to see all the plants flourish and look great.  Plus, I love that it is just a few steps out the door.  So fun to go out and snip fresh herbs for cooking!

I put most of the plants up on a table and plastic bins to save my back.  I was tired of bending over.  The sore back was taking the fun out of gardening.  Then my birthday rolled around and I received the best gift from my daughter and son-in-law–two plant stands!

They are beautiful to look at alone–but once I added the plants to them–well they look fabulous and with the plants up off the ground it makes it so much easier to garden!

Lacing cards

Today I showed the kids how to use lacing cards and they loved them.  I bought a few sets of cards:  pets, farm animals and dinosaurs.  Didn’t take them long to get the hang of using the extra long shoe laces and “sew” all the way around the pictures.

Then once they laced all the cards, they gathered them and played with them, having all the animals interact with each other and just had a great time!

Art project

Yesterday the kids created some great pictures.  I handed them paper, glue and fabric scraps and they took it from there.  I love their creativity!  I sat nearby and used my good sewing scissors to cut the fabric to their specifications.  And sometimes my help was needed with squeezing glue out of the bottle, but otherwise, they created the pictures on their own.

They created pictures of houses, flowers, clouds and the sun.  They created pictures of airplanes and cars.  One of them found a Teddy Graham sitting on the table and glued the tiny cookie next to the house she just created and it became the teddy bear’s house.

They each told me stories about their pictures and what was going on.

I love creativity!

Quiet Time

One thing I treasure about spending the days with our grandchildren is the special quiet moments we have.  Yes, I know, with kids who are 4 and 2 1/2, it’s hard to imagine quiet time.  But when we go outside one of the things they love to do is sit on the patio swing with me and observe the birds and squirrels.

Usually the moment only lasts about five minutes.  However, for such young children, five minutes is great.  But they observe a lot more than birds and squirrels.  They also like to observe the trees, bugs, butterflies, pine cones and wild flowers.  They notice dogs barking, planes and helicopters flying over the house and cars going by.  They notice the big cool trucks, UPS and FedEx and the mailman’s car.  They notice  people walking, running and riding bikes.  They watch the birds flying in the sky and watch the clouds for pictures in the sky.

Someday they will be grown and moved away, and won’t always be there to sit with me on the swing.  And, it will be then that I can smile and remember our special quiet times now.

Grandma’s Journal, again

Well, once again I am back after a long time between posts.  It’s not that I don’t have plenty to say–it’s just that I struggle to find time to say it!  Or at least find time to keep up with posting to this site.  I keep a journal, but I just don’t always post to my site.

We have had a very busy year, with some personal situations and changes, including a move.  All that extra “stuff” took away some computer time.

I am still watching our two adorable grandchildren, who are 4 and 2  1/2, on a full-time basis.  I enjoy watching them grow and change almost daily.  I have always loved doing little art/craft projects with them and teaching them their letters, colors, numbers, alphabet, etc.  I like doing simple science projects and just love introducing them to as many learning experiences as I can.  We read books, sing, use a flannel board to tell stories and we even add in some simple Yoga stretches.

We get outside as often as possible and they love to swing and play in the sand box.    One of my favorite things to do is to take them outside after it has rained.  We put on rain boots, and jackets, if needed, and go out in search of puddles to jump and splash in.  And we seem to do our best bug discovering after or during the rain.  I always have to fake my excitement over bugs, though.  I am much better looking at flowers, plants and trees!

I have a double wagon and once in  a while they get in that and really enjoy a nice ride and I enjoy a nice walk.  There is a horse farm down the street and they love to ride down to see if the horses are outside.  They are friendly horses, they walk right up to the fence when they see us.

I recently introduced them to some pre-school work books and they like those.  They each have their own books and I am able to work with them individually, so they can work at their own pace.

And that is all for Grandma’s Journal for now.


Grandma’s Journal

Well, I had hoped to post here a little more often.  But, I don’t always find the time to blog as often as I’d like.  So, I did the next best thing. I copied and pasted my most recent posts from Facebook and put them here in order.  Some of these posts had pictures with them, but I think these work okay without the pictures.

Jan 14

We bundled up and went to visit Sarah, Keith and the kids on this freezing cold no school, no work kind of a day. We brought the sled and had lots of fun. Norah, Eric and Sarah pulled out the bubbles and had fun blowing bubbles. In the cold, we wondered if they would be turning into ice cubes when they hit the air, but they didn’t–they were still bubbles!

Jan 20

“They” call it spaghetti art, but, any kind of pasta works. Cook it like normal, drain it, but don’t rinse & it will stick to heavy paper, like construction paper. Best of all, if the kids eat it, it’s ok–it kind of doubles as snack, lunch or dinner!

Jan 23

The kids and I had a great morning. We enjoyed being outside for an hour today since it didn’t feel as freezing cold like it’s been. I love how Norah is my assistant activities director. She’ll say, “How ’bout we…” and then she’ll suggest something for us to do, such as go swing, put out corn for the squirrels, look for acorns, play in the sandbox, or whatever. And today we did all those things and more! I love that they each have their favorite things to do. Eric usually reaches for the big ball first while Norah will reach for the golf clubs or the tractor. They both love to draw with the chalk and to blow bubbles. But, I still think their all-time favorite thing to do is after we come back inside–they get to climb up on Grandma’s step stool and wash their hands in the kitchen sink.  They love playing in the water–but I think the main attraction is climbing up on the stool.   They don’t get to do that often.

Jan 26

We made homemade playdough today. Even as I was trying to mix it to get the right consistency, they both were reaching into the bowl trying to get some dough. So, I handed them some dough that was a bit “crumbly” and they loved it. I think it reminded them of playing with sand.

Jan 27

A dusting of snow is all it takes for Norah & Eric to have a great time playing in the snow. Norah likes to do everything from making snowballs and snowmen to making snow angels and as she says, “Let’s run in the snow, Eric!” With the snow pants and coat and snow gloves, Eric looks like the classic kid with his arms sticking out to the sides and walking is an effort. I brought water bottles out for us and poor Eric had a hard time holding onto his cup. I know Sarah and Keith will notice this–so the reason Eric is wearing Norah’s green hat is because I had all the coats, etc. laying out in order to get them ready to go out. As I was getting Norah ready, Eric grabbed his hat and took off! I didn’t see it and grabbed Norah’s other hat instead. I’m glad we went out when we did, as I look out front now, there is no sign that we had snow. After we came back in, we tried a new texture to use for play dough. Corn starch and water. If you haven’t tried that, try it! It’s a little different texture than play dough and they loved it!

Feb 4

Some people, myself included, like to look for the silver lining in everything. And, that’s a good thing. But, I’ve got to say, I like the way Norah looks at things. She finds the ice-cream in everything. I’m not kidding. When we play with play dough, she makes ice-cream cones. She took the green soccer ball and set it inside a plastic snack bowl and said, “Look, Grandma, ice-cream.” (she loves mint-chocolate chip) And, she was right, it looked like a scoop of ice-cream in a bowl. The other day it rained and so we went outside in the late afternoon, after naps and when the sun was still out, but the moon was also visible. Again, it looked like ice-cream. Maybe we should all look for the ice-cream!

Feb 20

Busy, busy, busy today. We stayed indoors today and have been busy. We watched the birds from the window, we played with our indoor sand, we painted, we went bowling with the discovery bottles and a ball, and we spent some time reading and telling stories using the flannel board. In the one picture you will see Norah reading Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. What I love about that book is that on the inside cover we can see where my Mom had written “Happy 2nd Birthday to Shawn.” So cool that Norah is now loving the book that Uncle Shawn used read.

Feb 24

Always seems a little strange to refer to our daughter and son-in-law as “mommy” and “daddy.” If I call them Sarah and Keith, so does Norah!



Grandma’s Journal

Going outside with the kids is one of my favorite activities. Not long ago I posted on how Eric figured out by himself how to get up the hill that is our front yard. (the downward dog walk) So, today, he was working on going down the hill. He’s figured out that if he just does a reverse “commando crawl” that works a lot better for going down the hill than the stand up, lose your balance and roll down method. He tires easily of any kind of hill climbing and ends up just studying leaves, acorns and rocks within reach of where he is sitting. When he got tired of sitting he just used the regular crawl to get to either me or Bob, grabbed our pants legs and waited for us to pick him up! Being carried when you are tired is the best way of all!