Dear Granddaughter…..

In September, we celebrated Peanut’s 9th birthday. NINE! It’s hard to comprehend it was nine years ago I was promoted to being a Nana. A lot has been packed into those nine years…sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago she was placed in my arms, but at other times, nine years seems to have flown by at warp speed.

I put together Peanut’s school photos from Pre-K to her current 3rd grade shot. While they are not drastically different, the person behind the face has transformed in hundreds of ways in just nine short years.

Since time is a fleeting illusion, I want to take a few moments and pass on some Nana wisdom to my first grandbabykin.

Dear Peanut,

You have always been and always will be loved. I loved you before you were even put in my arms as a swaddled baby burrito. That is not to say you don’t do unloveable things….and I may not like you at times….but I always love you and will always be here for you. You can bet on that and be sure to win every time.

To steal a line from the 2016 Cinderella remake, Be kind and have courage. Both are difficult to do. Kindness may be becoming a lost art in our “me first” culture. It takes a lot of work to be kind to people, especially when you don’t like them, are mad at them, or see them as different from you. Extending kindness to family members is sometimes especially hard because there are times we make more of an effort to be nice to people outside our family and save the worst for those closest to us…who love us always!

Have courage. It’s scary to try new things. It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones in the way we think and act. I know this from experience. it was scary moving to a new house and school when I was in 3rd grade. It was scary to move to a new town after Papa and I got married….a town where I didn’t know anyone. It was scary when Papa and I moved to Columbia…a town where I didn’t know anyone either. It was really scary when Papa was told he had cancer. It’s also scary to do the right thing when you think others will look at you differently or not like you anymore. This is especially hard when your friends are doing things you know aren’t right, but you want them to like you so you’re tempted to do those things anyway. Don’t. Have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

Keep your faith strong. So many people walk away from their beliefs when they get older, thinking faith is something only for children. Our culture doesn’t encourage strong faith in God. It does encourage strong faith in doing whatever we think will make us happy…or is convenient…or easy. Being an authentic Christian is hard work. It requires we believe and do the right things even when we don’t understand or see the reason. Many times you will be tempted to not make your faith a priority in your life. But, dearest Peanut, your faith will sustain you in those scary moments when the storms of life roll in and tear your life to pieces.

Trust. Trust those of us who love you that the things we do are to help grow you into someone others will respect; someone YOU can respect. Growing up is hard, and there are many times when you’ll think you know what’s best….but you won’t. I ask you trust even when you don’t agree; even when you don’t understand. It’s related to believing and trusting God has a plan for your life….a good plan….even though many times you’ll feel like you don’t agree or don’t understand why things are happening the way they are.

Love yourself. Not in a narcissistic way, but love yourself as a person of worth. It’s easy to feel like we can never measure up to our culture’s ideas and expectations. I want you to always love who you are, flaws and all. That is NOT to say you shouldn’t try to change areas of your life that need improvement. And, this is not reason to excuse bad attitudes or behavior. You are a child of the King….who loves you unconditionally. If you can love your imperfect self, you can love others despite their imperfections too.

Peanut, you are strong-willed and incredibly talented in many areas. I encourage you to use that strong will and those talents in positive, constructive ways…and never be ashamed of the things you have accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

In the years to come, you will face many challenges and ride the roller coaster of emotions. I hope by keeping these things in mind, life will be a bit smoother….for everyone involved!

Love always,
Nana

 

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Pardon me while I brag a bit

Caution: this post contains shameless and excessive grandparent bragging.

Last week we went to Peanut’s school for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Now, normally, non-eduction types don’t voluntarily attend these ceremonies…unless given the heads up that their child is one of the recipients.

A little background info: Peanut started a new school this year after moving into their renovated house in August. She was filled with all the anxiety an 8 year old can feel about walking into the unknown. Peanut is not a fan of change and this was a major one in her young life. Slowly, she came out of her shell, made friends and did very well academically. Her teacher was a perfect match for what she needed this year.

Throughout the year, Peanut was recognized for a reading challenge where she read more than 600 pages in a week’s time. Last week, she was chosen as one of the Students of the 4th Quarter for academic excellence. She was also chosen to participate in a second grade STEM program.

 

So that’s the back story. Now, we’re sitting in the awards ceremony listening to all the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers announce their selections for various academic awards…..and Peanut’s name is not one of them. Okay, perhaps she’ll be recognized for Citizenship, Art, Music or PE? Nope. I was beginning to think there’d been a mistake.

I scan the program to see if I missed a category but the only one left is something called the Glory of Missouri. This is a proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in participating schools, each student representing one of 14 virtues; Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity, Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity. Peanut’s award was for Knowledge. The virtues were engraved in the House of Representative Chamber between 1922 and 1924 when the capitol building was rebuilt due to a fire.

Surely not.

But I would have been surely incorrect! As her name was called to receive the award for Knowledge, it was one of those elusive Joy moments I’m trying to find in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. I honestly didn’t see this one coming. Her teacher said there was no question whose name she would be submitting.

Knowledge
Qualifications:  The student qualified for the Knowledge virtue is one whom exemplifies this definition.  The student who receives recognition for this award must not only be book smart, but be aware of the state of information.

Example:  A student who possesses intellectual capabilities beyond his or her years, a student who has demonstrated aware behavior such as a potential valedictorian or a strong student leader. 

We are all so thrilled Peanut seemed to assimilate seamlessly into her new school. And, evidently, she never missed a beat when it came to the love of learning.

And…..we now have a third grader on our hands!

Fiercely Independent Snuggle Bug

Twix monitoredYesterday, Twix turned THREE! Can you even believe it? To look at her now, you’d never know she was three weeks early. Today, she is a happy, healthy almost preschooler who teeters between fierce independence and being a big snuggle bug.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Twix is a precocious child that never ceases to amaze me. Her problem-solving skills and deductive reasoning are almost scary. As smart as Peanut is, I believe Twix just might supersede her.

She is perpetual motion from the time she hits the door at 7:50am. Except for (mercifully) her afternoon nap, our days are filled with continual conversation that mainly center around answering her “Why?” questions. She loves everything Dora and putting things together….from Legos to blocks to assembling geometric shapes into different forms. She is mastering preschool academic skills with her Leapstart book and calls it her “laptop.”

twix-3yrs

Mama (aka The Recruiter), Peanut, Nana and Papa are her world right now. We are here to support, comfort, encourage, teach and, yes, discipline during these years that have been filled with more than a few changes. From the anxious newborn nights when she slept on a bili blanket to her first toddler steps, she knew we were there. From those unsteady first steps, she’s growing into a confident preschooler with a “there-is-no-place-I-can’t-climb-to” attitude. Really, nothing is safe. And don’t even think about leaving her alone for more than…oh, about two minutes.

Memories in the making. Our home is full of them. And their significance is not lost on us, even when the days seem impossibly long waiting for The Recruiter to finish with work. Entrepreneur and I know we’re blessed to have this opportunity to be such an integral part of Peanut and Twix’s lives. Nobody knows what the future holds, so we really try and take those good and not-so-good days and file them away under the heading of “thankful for every moment”….even the bad ones! With Entrepreneur’s cancer scare in 2014, we are keenly aware of how precious these moments are. I know it sounds fatalistic, but we are praying, if cancer returns, it won’t be until all our grands are old enough to really remember just how special and strong this bond is between us.

So, Happy Birth Day Twix! May you continue to become fiercely independent, yet always have a snuggle bug heart. Nana and Papa love you to the moon….and back!

 

July Photo Challenge: Photographer’s Choice

photo blog challenge

July’s prompt was our choice over at PJ’s A ‘lil HooHaa, and I chose Changes for the month’s theme. It seems our family has been in a state of flux for as long as I can remember. So, it seems fitting to have this month’s photo collection reflect the results of the past few years.

Changes #1
Our oldest daughter and family moved back into our house three years ago when her then-husband was discharged from the military and was going to college. If that wasn’t flux enough, she found herself as a single mom soon after Twix was born. Divorce and long-distance visitation schedules added to an already tenuous situation. A change in job opportunities has put her in a better financial position, and she recently bought a house for her and the grandbabykins. With the house came weeks of demo and reno, and she is hoping to move in to “her” place by the middle of August. We are excited for her, but I’m sure the change in our home dynamic will be met with mixed emotions.
new homeowner

Changes #2
What a difference a year makes. Last year, Twix was cautiously optimistic about the pool and everything that goes with it. This year, she is going underwater on her own and splashing Papa every chance she gets. Pool and Popsicle are synonymous words this summer. She has changed into quite the captivating two year old!
twix pool 2016

Changes #3
Peanut has been gone all summer to her father’s house for visitation. Changes…on steroids. Twix went for a couple of weeks and will build up to all summer in the next couple of years. That in itself is change enough, but having no Peanut around is a huge change for us. Peanut’s little corner of our home office sits empty…except when Twix is pilfering through its contents while she’s away. Add to all these changes that she will begin 2nd grade with a new house, new school and new friendship opportunities.
empty desk

Change #4
Our trip to Florida resulted in a change in the landscape around The Golfers’ home. Over the two weeks we were there, we transformed the front and back yards into something more in-keeping with their Florida, beach-y lifestyle.
yard crashsers

Changes #5
Yes, changes are coming to our home. For the past few years, we’ve grown very accustom to having the grandbabykins under our roof. It’s provided us a rare opportunity to create a special relationship with them. I know Peanut will remember the time she spent with us. We’ll continue to provide child-care for Twix during the work week until she goes to preschool, so there will still be time for her to form lasting memories. Even so, the changes that are coming will be bittersweet. But like the caterpillar that leaves its comfort zone to becomes something better, I’m sure these changes are for the best. Although life as we’ve known it the past few years will change….it will be an exciting, new time for everyone.
butterfly

Be sure to stop over at PJ’s tomorrow, July 30th, to see what others chose for their July theme.

And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.

Twix-two 72

And you, of the tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
~Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Teach Your Children

Twix monitoredTwix is TWO! It just doesn’t seem possible that just two short years ago she made her debut….right before a winter storm blanketed the area with seven inches of snow. Three weeks early, she gave us all a bit of a scare but to look at her now, you’d never know she had a bit of a rough start.

And now….now she’s perpetual motion and a non-stop talker! And, I’m not so sure she won’t surpass her sister in resourcefulness and intelligence. Noooooo, I’m not partial in any way. 🙂 And, I fully realize every grandparent believes their grandbabykins to be precocious. We have two pocket rockets and they show no signs of slowing down.

I think I’ve got this grandparent thing down pretty well. It does help when you’re immersed in the role 24/7 because they’re under roof. I felt fortunate when Peanut lived with us for the first two years of her life. Now, I feel doubly blessed to have the same bond with Twix. When she tugs on my hand and says, “C’mon Nana,” my heart melts. I never experienced that closeness with my grandparents…they were those old people we visited a couple times a year. I never really had the chance to become what I consider “close.” Fortunately, our children have had many opportunities to get to know their grandparents. As a grandparent now, I understand the emotions and feelings that go along with that title.

Ours is an unconventional arrangement, and Entrepreneur and I have yet to experience much of an empty nest. Life’s circumstances have brought our children back home for various reasons. We’re fortunate to have had the means to help their circumstances and provide stability in their lives, and have enjoyed many unexpected blessings in return. The Investigator’s current situation will be changing in the foreseeable future and we’ll all, once again, be adjusting.

But back to two-year-old Twix. Her discoveries, vocabulary and abilities amaze me on a weekly basis. And we are definitely in the throws of the “terrible twos” where redirection can cause emotional eruptions of epic proportions. “Me do it” is a common mantra, and she definitely has a little, mischievous sense of humor. But for all the challenges that come with being two, Twix is a joy to be around.

Helping raise this second generation has been an emotional roller coaster. I’m sure, at times, Peanut and Twix think they have too many parents. We’re blessed to be allowed to watch, first hand, these precious grandchildren discover, learn and grow. And I’m not sure I would trade this experience for all the empty nest perks in the world.

Today, as we celebrate Twix’s birthday, we listen to her run around the house chanting “happy birthday,” and are reminded how unpredictable life is….and how “failed” plans can turn out to be the biggest of blessings.

Happy Birth Day Twix!

two Twix

Linking up with Songography and LTTL

August Photo Blogging Challenge: Rule of Thirds

photo blog challenge

So PJ over at A ‘lil HooHaa switched things up a bit for our August photo challenge by choosing the theme: Rule of Thirds. Now, for those who are skewed more left-brain, this might not make much sense…but there is a mathematical logic to it. For those of us who have spent most of our lives in creative careers, the rule of thirds was drilled into our psyche s very long time ago.

To understand the rule of thirds in photography, imagine laying a grid over an image that splits the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. The grid shows nine connected areas. The “rule of thirds” grid can help guide the composition of a photo. When used while framing an image, points of interest are strategically placed for maximum viewer appeal along the intersecting points. Usually, our eyes naturally go to one of those intersecting points on the grid instead of the center of the image. Subconsciously, it helps viewers interact better with the image.

Here’s a sample….
rule of thirds grid

Cool, huh? But, just like any rule, it may be broken under certain circumstances. And it’s always good to know the reason behind a rule before you decide to go rogue with your own idea. I’m sorry to say, most of my casual shots don’t take this rule into account since many times I’m shooting on the fly to capture the moment. Enter Photoshop and the cropping tool. Yes, I admit it….hardly any of my shots are straight out of the camera. There’s probably a 12-step program for that.

So, here’s my five for August.

1. Tanner’s birthday is in August. He’s an 8-year-old puppy in many ways he’s come a long way since 2007. Still somewhat goofy, but totally adorable most of the time.

thirds 4

2. This Morning Glory blossom sums up our summer…..wet. While it was disastrous for the veggie garden, the flowers, trees and bushes loved the precipitation.

thirds 2

3. Ganzia is an annual flower I bought for the flower pots because it’s drought tolerant….for when I forget to water the flower pots. Didn’t have that problem this year. See above.

thirds 3

4. Free and easy was the summer’s goal. Twix is big enough to sit in the swing….and swing she did every chance she got! She loves all things outdoors and has since last summer when she spent a lot of time eating and napping in my lap on the patio.

thirds 1

5. Peanut started first grade around mid-month. Seems awfully early. Of course, we took gigabytes of “first day of school” shots to commemorate such an important event (only 11 more years to go!).

thirds 5

So there’s my five, Rule of Thirds shots. Please make time to visit PJ’s place and see how the others fared with the theme this month. Hope everyone had an enjoyable summer!

Look backwards to move forwards

pink phlox w-quote
Texture by Kim Klassen; Waterfront 7 Magic, 100% soft light

To look backwards for a while is to refresh the eye,
to restore it, and to render it more fit for 
its prime function of looking forward.
~Margaret Fairless Barber

Nostalgia. Memories. Reflection. Introspection.

Whatever you call it, it’s when you look back at life and past experience with mixed emotions. If you’re like me, there’s a few past experiences that make me shake my head and wonder….what was I thinking? Oh, thinking? Obviously, not a lot of that going on. But other memories, like the birth of my children and grandchildren, rank right up there in the top five best memories of my life.

As we get older, I believe we tend to become more nostalgic about our lives. Seems like when we’re going through it…living in the trenches….our minds are clouded with details and distractions. It’s only with some distance do we gain clarity.

Reflection. So important to our futures. If we are only focused on forging ahead, never thinking or learning from our past, we miss the opportunity to become the best we can be. Every experience we’ve had (good and bad) up to this point is instrumental in who we are today. And it’s our views and responses to those experiences that are key to what sort of lives we’ve chosen to lead now. The introspective adjustments we make in our thoughts, words and actions from those past events determine our next steps….and whether we face the future filled with hopefulness or despair.

So, it’s good to take a look backwards from time to time in order to see more clearly where we need to be headed as we move forwards.

Linking up with those who love to share at Life Through the Lens, Texture Tuesday and Texture Twist.