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.”

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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!

 

To the moon…and back

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…He was almost too sleepy to think anymore. Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be further than the sky.
“I love you right up to the MOON,” he said, and closed his eyes.
“Oh, that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.”That’s is very far.”

Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. 

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile,
“I love you right up to the moon-AND BACK.”

~Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney

My third quote for the 3 Quote Challenge is more of a passage from a well-loved children’s book titled Guess How Much I Love You. And last month’s super moon was more than happy to help me out with this one.

Guess how much I love you?….in the literal sense of the book it’s a conversation between a child and a parent; a question and answer to reinforce the bond that happens between those that genuinely care for each other.

But what does loving someone to the moon and back really mean? The distance between the earth and moon is almost 500,000 miles. If I wanted to really convey my love, wouldn’t I say I love them “to infinity and beyond”? Yeah, I could and it would probably more accurately represent my feelings.

And why to the moon and not the sun or stars or other planets? Seems a bit short-sighted.

It does until you really stop and think about it. The closest planet to our earthly home, the moon has always been romanticized and the subject of deep mystery and intrigue. Waxing and waning…new and full…the moon’s cycles represent eternity and an endless cycle of life. She lights up the sky, yet not by her own power….but great power she has upon ocean tides that can wield unparalleled force in nature.

And to a wee one who doesn’t understand the logical or statistical nuances of the distance to the moon, “to the moon” is an unimaginable distance to travel.

So the phrase now takes on a new meaning….I love you more than you can possibly imagine, with great power, and endlessly for my whole life!

Mystery solved.

The value of a moment

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Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
~Dr. Seuss

Wow. Talk about a huge FAIL. Carol challenged me to a 3 Quote Challenge back in November. I got one in on Nov. 22 and then………oops. So, here is my second quote post. In my defense, I did mention I probably wouldn’t post consecutive days. 🙂

These two shots capture why I drive everyone insane taking photos. Entrepreneur rolls his eyes and others drag their feet when I mention “family photo time.” But let them gripe and complain. I think it’s important to capture as much as possible as often as possible. Most of those complaining are under the age of 35, so they haven’t hit that time in their life when looking back is just as important as looking ahead.

Precious memories. That’s what looking back provides. And that’s all they are now….memories. So often, we’re so caught up in life’s stresses and interruptions that we fail to really take in those fleeting moments. Photos capture those times when we, perhaps, were too busy to notice or care.

It’s only when your children are grown and gone that photos from their childhood take on a newfound importance.

It’s only when your spouse is no longer with you that those photos become cherished memories of a life together.

It’s only when you’ve had to say goodbye to those that now wait at the Rainbow Bridge that you realize how special those muddy paws were on your clean floor.

No, we rarely realize the value of a moment until it’s past and all that remains is a memory.

So, as we all enter the holiday season…get those cameras ready!

Sunshine and Grey Skies

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Be someone’s sunshine when their skies are grey.
~Unknown

There are friends….and then there are Friends. You know the ones I mean.

We all have friends..well, most of us anyway. They’re the people we like to hang with, party with, spend a fun evening with; people we like to chase fun with. They are the ones who are more than willing to celebrate with us during the sunshine moments of our lives.

But friendship is much more than having a group of friends that are fun to be around, or lumping large quantities of acquaintances into a category….contrary to what Facebook would have us believe.

While I have lots of acquaintances, my circle of friends is much smaller. These are the ones who, of course, celebrate sunshine moments….but are first in line when life turns into those gray, Eeyore-ish days. They are the ones who go out of their way to bring joy…and sometimes they don’t even realize it.

One such friend, I’ll call her K, shared with me some iris and rose campion plants when she cleaned out a flower bed last summer. A small gesture of friendship. I accepted the dirty bundles and stuck them in a landscaping problem area where I’ve not been successful, not expecting much to happen. In other words, I forgot about them.

Winter was long and spring has been a bit unsettled for me, mentally and emotionally. The past few months have been challenging, and the last few weeks have left me exhausted on all fronts. My month of May-hem has been true to form.

So imagine my surprise when, one warm spring day, I rounded the corner of the house and saw no less than 10 irises in full bloom, with more on the way. The rose campion plants had taken hold and doubled in size from the scraggly tufts I’d planted in the fall.

And I felt joy. Perhaps for the first time in a very long time. Who would have thought a simple thing like an iris bloom could be an attitude changer?

And the juxtaposition of haphazardly planting these flowers in an area where nothing had successfully grown well in the past (except weeds) did not go unnoticed. Because that’s the beauty of real friendship.

They’re the people in our lives who accept the challenge of being there to offer joy to the problem areas of our lives. They cultivate understanding with grace. They are always there, willing to provide a shoulder on which to cry; an extended hand to pull us up from the abyss; a reassuring embrace that somehow makes us think we can make it through. And the beauty they give to our lives can be an attitude changer.

I am blessed with more than one of these types of friends. They are the women who have stuck with me through many seasons of life. I celebrate in the sunshine with them….and know they will always be there when my skies cloud up and become gray. They know my  strengths and weaknesses. They know my heart.

They are my sunshine.

Playing along with Kelly’s Quotography at The Road Goes Ever On and Lisa’s Life Through the Lens at Simply Living Photography.

 

 

I blinked and March was gone

March 2016
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.
~Mark Twain

I have no idea how this  happened. One day it was mid-March and the next day it is mid-April. March seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. In short, March was a blur. Spring began and I think I missed it.

I remember thrilling at the sight of daffodil blooms. I remember dreary, wet days of rain. Mom Nature teased with days in the 60F and when we got used to that, she plummeted the temps to a high of 40F.

I vaguely remember frantically trying to tie up loose ends with my class and work before spring break. Since The Recruiter wasn’t able to get off work for a week, Entrepreneur and I volunteered to drive the grand girls to Alabama to see their dad, hang around the area for a week and then bring them back home. This was Twix’s first time away from her familiar routine and surroundings and we weren’t sure how she would fare.

Re-entry after break was rough. Both girls came home sick, which was evidently passed to me during the 13-hour car ride back to middle Missouri. Sunday began one of the worst sore throats I can remember….prompting me to [gasp] go to the doctor a few days later. Twix is still fighting a cold, and thankfully it has not turned into anything worse. Behaviors in the 8-and-under crowd have been as volatile as the weather, which has not been conducive to making this Nana Nanny feel better.

The garden sits unattended with a partial fence built to keep out the critters. The spring booms are admired from afar as I don’t have the desire to fight the 20mph wind to go outside. And I honestly don’t know where the hours go in the day. Oh…wait…there’s a two year old in the house… who just announced she took the batteries out of the television remote. Ahhh…..now, I remember.

So, now it’s April?

Playing along with Quotography and Life Through the Lens

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

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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!

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Linking up with Songography and LTTL

Our 2015 in review

In January, inspired by Mona’s Picturesque, I started creating collages of our world every month. Now that I’m finished with December, I realize (once again) how quickly time passes before our eyes. Peanut began the year as a wide-eyed kindergartener and Twix was not quite yet a toddler. I’m grateful to have capture just a few of the moments we experienced as they will never pass this way again.

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February 2015 72

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March 2015 collage

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April 2015 collage

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May 2015

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June 2015

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July 2015

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August 2015

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September 2015

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October 2015-72

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November 2015-72

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December 2015

These collages contain many highlights of 2015, but the year was not without its low moments. We said a very unexpected goodbye to our beloved Golden Retriever, Tanner. More recently, one of our kitties had to be put to sleep for health issues. Both are now waiting at the Rainbow Bridge with other pets that have gone before them. There were other underlying stressors that tested our patience and tried to steal our joy, but that just seems to be a part of life. The economic state of the nation has been a constant concern for a number of years, and we’re unsure what sort of world our grandchildren will inherit if things continue as they have for the past few years.

But on the flip side, Entrepreneur’s scans of the mysterious spots on his lungs after his kidney cancer surgery showed no growth or spread. He continues to be active and otherwise in good health. Our children are making their own way and the grandbabykins continue to a source of fulfillment in our lives.

What does 2016 have in store? I have no idea. I hope to live with purpose, love unconditionally and be grateful for each and every day, regardless of what it brings. And this is my wish for each and every one of you as well.