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Milestones

 

 

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Our family has recently experienced several milestones.  September saw two birthdays for our sweet granddaughters. Addie turned 5 and Zoe 3. I love the expression in the picture where Zoe has just opened a card from her Poppy (my dad) and out comes money. Even at age 3 she’s well-aware of the significance!

Then Konnor lost another one of his top teeth. He even pulled it out himself then gladly posed for a photo. And brother Callan scored three goals in one soccer game!!!

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Milestones are important. They serve many purposes. They boast of an important event and serve to remind us of things that have occurred. Milestones can also teach lessons and they can keep us from repeating poor decisions, too.

In September we got to enjoy several happy milestones: the lost tooth, soccer goals, birthdays, and a move to a new house. But we’ve also experienced a sad one as time on earth winds down for a dear friend who is soon to leave this world. So we’re storing up memories of him now with lots of visits and I’ve asked his family for an item from his house to keep because each time I look at it I’ll think of him, remember our many years together, and smile!

The Bible talks about memorials because they are built to remember something important in our walk with the Lord. Just like the Washington, D.C. memorials, each one holds significance and reminds us of an encounter. Good or bad, memorials or milestones can cause us to reflect and learn and lament and rejoice.

So this September I’ve done just that. Rejoiced over birthdays, soccer goals, and a lost tooth, enjoyed the blessing of a new house and all the new adventures to come. I’ve been thankful that my move enabled us to live close to my dad (only 4 miles apart!), and yes, I’ve been sad and mourned the loss of a friend that’s soon to come.

Whether they are happy milestones or sad, they all paint a picture of my life. Of the way God orchestrates every aspect and weaves together every thread into a beautiful tapestry. They point me toward Him as I see his faithfulness, experience his blessings, or receive his comfort.

So I choose to remember the good and the not-so-good for all serve a greater purpose as I am continually being made and shaped into God’s image.

How about you? Experienced any milestones lately?

Mimi

A moment at the beach.

BeachWe’re enjoying a little visit at the beach where my parents live. Their tiny town abuts the Atlantic Ocean and they have been blessed with a waterfront home. Their 12th story view is just amazing.

As often happens, we visit the pool, but don’t always make it to the beach. I decided to end that abysmal track record so yesterday ventured out for a brief walk.

In the middle of the summer walking on the sand without enduring first degree burns is impossible but at this time of year it’s just perfect. The sand retains just the right amount of the sun’s warmth so walking down to the water’s edge can be slow and thoroughly enjoyed.

Yesterday’s water temp was a beautiful 83 degrees so I walked in the salty loveliness and let my mind wander. I realized very quickly how loud the breaking waves were…they created a din like a deafening roar. The sound blocked out everything else and as I watched people play in the surf I realized I couldn’t hear a thing other than that roar. The conversations and shouts of glee were blocked out, the seagulls’ squawks were muted, and I found myself in my own little world. And instead of being disconcerting, it was instead rather pleasant.

And the light bulb went off as I realized this may be one of many reasons why some people I know absolutely love going to the beach and plan their weekends and vacations around it. I’ve kind of taken it for granted since I can go anytime I want simply by visiting my folks, but in that moment yesterday when the entire world faded away as the ocean roar took over I discovered how beautiful and calming being near the ocean can be.

Mimi

Boys will be boys.

Callan Zero

Callan BeetleLooks like I’ve got an all-boy grandson. Four-year-old Callan is all about new challenges and apparently won’t let things like icky bugs or reptiles stand in his way.

Those pictures show him holding his brother’s pet gecko Zero and playing with a large, strange beetle he picked up from the ground recently. Me? I’ll hold the lizard, but will say “no thank you” to the bug!

The advice to my daughter at this point? Always empty his pockets before doing laundry. If the kid is willing to pick up a big beetle, chances are those pockets will hold a host of other things occasionally, many of which SHOULD NOT go through the washing machine!

Do you ever wonder why God created some of the things he did? I’m sure they serve a purpose of some kind but when a cockroach scurries across my path (or my half-eaten pizza as happened at my house last week) I have a hard time figuring out the “why” behind the creation.

Thankfully, I know for certain God had a plan in mind when He created me. I’m here for a purpose and it’s a good one, too. After all, Jeremiah 29:11 states it quite clearly:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Knowing God has a purpose and plan for my life encourages me to seek Him more because I certainly want them fulfilled according to His desires.

My friend, read that verse again because it applies to you, too. He’s got a brilliant plan for your life as well.

Mimi

This Mimi didn’t have a clue!

Clue GameSummer is winding down and there are only a few Mondays with Mimi before school begins on August 24. No sleepover this week; instead I drove to the boys’ house to spend the day with them there. And boy did we have fun!

I went prepared with a craft and some cookies to decorate. As you can see from the pictures, decorating and then eating the cookies was a big hit.

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We never did get to the craft as the boys elected instead to play some games. We started with Zingo which is a Bingo game with pictures instead of letters. That one was great for both a four-year-old and a nearly seven-year old.

But each time I suggested a different child’s game, Callan (age 4) would point to the adult version of Clue and insist that’s the one he wanted to play. He even broke down in heart-wrenching sobs when I told him it was for grown-ups and he wouldn’t know how to play it. He continued to sob and state emphatically that he did in fact know how to play the game so I finally relented and got the game.

And I quickly found out Callan was right—you don’t have to know how to play the game to enjoy it. The three of us just did our own thing, making up everything as we went along. You should have seen how happy the little guy was to play Clue with his brother and Mimi. I think we ended up playing for nearly an hour.

The lesson: this Mimi didn’t have “a clue” as to what really mattered. In my rigid mind I thought the game was only appropriate for adults who could play by the rules. But I was wrong! We had a blast despite never following a rule or reading the instructions.

There was such a clear contrast between the fun anticipated by Callan at doing his own thing with Clue and the fun I didn’t think was possible because the game was not age-appropriate. It all boils down to being able to look at the world through the eyes of a child. Rules, schmools! Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and GO FOR IT!

So that’s my encouragement for the week. When it comes to enjoying time with your grands, just go for it. Don’t worry about how you look dancing to the Wiggles. Don’t let a little rain keep you from playing in it. Who says you can’t dress up in ridiculous clothes and pretend to be someone else or enjoy smearing purple icing on cookies and covering them with sprinkles.

Let’s abandon some of our restraint and embrace our inner child and just enjoy the moment, especially when those moments are spent with our grandkids.

Mimi

A Minor Inconvenience

jumping joyIt’s been about four weeks now since the scooter incident that resulted in a broken left arm and I have to say, while I’m a relatively good patient, I’m also relatively impatient with the healing process.

I would love to think I’m transparent enough to share photos of me doing things with one arm. But I’m not quite there yet. Instead, let me try to paint some word pictures.

The Basics

Underwear. Any men reading this can simply skip ahead to the next section.

My occupational therapist daughter shared early on that when dressing the injured limb goes in first. So while putting on most clothes went fine, I found the upper underwear a bit tricky. A standard bra wasn’t going to cut it. The answer? A sports bra. And it worked fairly well. By putting in my injured arm first, then following with the right arm, and all sorts of strange contortions and twists I am able to get the thing on and shimmied into place. Of course, at night I have to reverse everything. More bending over, twisting, and scooching arms out…you can see why I took no photos.

Hair. As you know, I have straight hair worn in a short bob. And while it looks simple enough, truth be told, the hair is 61 years old and stubborn. It needs to be loved into place after each shower. And that involves blow drying and using a large curling iron. I never realized it also takes a two-handed technique. The answer was to do everything with one hand with lots of equipment changes. So first up is a round hair brush to try to get the wet hair to turn under. Then the blow dryer is used while bending over, then straightening up with a big backward head bop so the hair would flip back into place. Blow dryer down, hair brush again while leaning to the left or right so I could get the brush under and hopefully curl the hair under. Repeat and repeat until done. Then do the other side. Took three times as long as with two hands but it worked.

Then, of course, I had to do similar stunts with a wicked hot curling iron in hand to wrangle those straight hairs into a slight bend. Let’s just say for all these weeks I’ve been sporting an extremely modified slightly turned under bob. And I’ve gone from “doing my hair every day” to doing it only when absolutely necessary.

Typing. Ok, I know this is bragging, but it’s the truth so I’m gonna tell you; I type about 100 words a minute. Yup. I do. And since I think fast, too, it works well for me. But one-handed typing is slow and tedious. Until that wonderful day when I learned I could remove the splint, I was typing with my right hand only. Thought retired, I stay busy on the computer assisting a friend in her business. Thankfully I was able to slow myself down and get some work done. And on top of that I discovered Microsoft has a built-in voice to text feature that works quite well. I would have never know about this but necessity is the mother of invention and led me to the internet in a search for voice to text tools. Who knew!

Cooking. Oh my, try to slice a potato or carrot holding a giant chef’s knife in one hand but without a second hand to steady the vegetable. After several failed attempts I asked the hubster to assist. But that didn’t always go over well with my independent spirit, so I began experimenting with wedging the item in a corner or against a wall. Not much better. Finally, I resorted to placing the item on a cutting board and simply whamming down the sharp knife against it hoping for a slice that didn’t send the food soaring across the room. Yup, out of all methods, this worked best…but unfortunately not well at all. Oh well, instead of salads we ate cooked vegetables for a week until I started removing the splint while prepping food.

In all of this, I realized how my very minor inconvenience seemed to interrupt my well-planned life. I saw again how inflexible I can be. Ah hem…how stubborn I am.

I thought of my friend Jan who instead of being inconvenienced by being blind has turned it all around and simply found alternate ways of doing things. I thought about someone who lost a limb to cancer but instead of lamenting about the loss of limb was instead rejoicing in being alive and in remission.

I thought about how easy it is to gripe and complain when things don’t go our way when instead we should be grateful for each day, for each breath, for each blessing, for each moment in life, for each triumph, for each loved one, for each freedom we share, for forgiveness of sin, and for life in Christ.

Truly those are the things that matter and no minor or major inconvenience should ever stand in the way of being grateful for those things and so much more.

Need a reminder from God’s word? How about this one from Psalm 1 (Bible version: The Message):

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart,

I’m writing the book on your wonders.

I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;

I’m singing your song, High God.

Mimi,

Your temporarily broken winged, one-armed, but happy and rejoicing friend.

 

 

 

Look out…grandma on a scooter!

ArmSo…a funny thing happened to me a few weeks ago.

I broke my arm. Or as Callan would say “Mimi bloke her arm.”

How? you might ask. Well, ah hem, I fell off Konnor’s scooter. Ooh, did I really say that out loud? Yup, I did.

I was having a grand old time and realizing just how much fun it is to fly down a sidewalk on a thin piece of metal attached to two tiny, hard wheels. Did I mention two tiny and hard wheels? Nearing home and keeping my eyes forward, I saw a raised hunk of sidewalk. In a moment I thought to myself: It might not be a good idea to go over that…but hey, kids do it all the time.

Next thing I knew wham! Those tiny, hard wheels hit the raised sidewalk, the scooter stopped in its tracks, and this Mimi went flying over the handlebars. And when I hit the pavement, I knew it wasn’t good.

Shocked and embarrassed I was actually happy no one was outside to witness my scooter defeat. I simply picked up the scooter with my right hand, held my hurting left arm close to my body, and limped home, muttering “This isn’t good, this isn’t good.”

Konnor was great. I told him I thought I had broken my arm and he got me an ice pack along with a towel to wrap it in. Then he and Callan played quietly for the hour until Mommy came home. Kate took one look, said something very medical like “eee-ooo” which to me meant something’s definitely wrong, you need to go to the ER.

Lesson  1: Be choosy where you go for treatment. I’m not kidding. It was afternoon drive time so I purposely did not choose the stand-alone ER on the major road thinking others would stop in on their way home from work. And I also didn’t choose the large complex that many use as their primary care practitioners. Instead I opted for a small hospital where I thought I stood half a chance of NOT being there until the wee hours of the morning. And it turned out to be a very good choice. I was in and out in less than two hours. Not bad at all.

Lesson 2: Never ride a scooter when you are a relatively inactive 61-year-old. ‘nuf said!

Lesson 3: Trust your instincts. I knew my arm was broken; it hurt like crazy, was swollen grotesquely, and I couldn’t straighten or rotate it. The x-rays showed no breaks according to the ER doc. But after examining me the doc took a second look at them and pronounced a break after all. Splinted me up and told me to follow-up with their recommend ortho in 3-5 days. The next day when I called that ortho to make the appointment, the office informed me the x-rays had been reviewed overnight and the opinion changed to no break, follow-up with ortho in 14 days. What? I’m in pain. I’m nervous, and I’m also about to go on a three-week car trip. I’ll be in Ohio in 14 days—who’s gonna see me there?

After stewing about this over the weekend I called my own ortho on Monday, got an appointment on Tuesday, brought the x-rays with me and a break was definitely confirmed. But the good news was the ortho showed me how to remove the splint (I didn’t know I could), told me to exercise the arm, and take Ibuprofen for the swelling. None of that info came during the call I made to the ER ortho.

Trusting my own instincts and going to see my own ortho resulted in me being a much happier camper. Exercising the arm and taking Ibuprofen has reduced swelling and allowed me to perform some tasks carefully. And taking a shower without a garbage bag wrapped around the arm is so much nicer!

But it will take weeks to heal. And the pain I continue to have is a constant reminder that while I want to be a fun, hip Mimi, it’s important that I also use common sense. I had two opportunities to avoid what happened: (1) I should never have been on the scooter in the first place, and (2) when I noticed the raised sidewalk I should have stopped immediately and not decide to chance it.

The final lesson: I can still be a fun grandma in a million ways that don’t involve scooters such as baking with the grands, or doing crafts, taking walks, or even riding bikes.

Mimi

Life has a way of surprising you.

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As you know from my April post, I’ve joined my husband in retirement. While I worried for months about what I’d do with my days, let me just say that those who encouraged me to not stress about it were right. When I don’t make plans there’s always something to do. And when I do make them, they usually end up changing.

For the first week and a half, this grandma could be found reorganizing closets, cabinets, and the pantry. To some this would be an all-day affair but since I’m just a tad OCD, truth be told they were already relatively organized. No, I don’t alphabetize my pantry but the cans are indeed in one place and the boxes in another. And yes, they are also separated by category such as baking, side dishes, veggies, and fruits. (I know…it’s a sickness.)

Hubby and I also enjoyed some extra time together doing puzzles, walking, and reading a devotional each day while at the same time we respected each other’s alone time.

So far so good.

With a three-week car trip getting closer we began organizing the daily drives, planning our stops along the way, and generally looking forward to our first retirement event. All that was put on hold, however. Why? Because life happens.

Unfortunately, my mom got sick. Though the car trip has been postponed, what a joy to know the hubster and I have nothing but time on our hands to travel back and forth as needed to care not only for Mom but to offer support to her caretaker, too…my dad. My parents cared for me for two decades. It’s a most beautiful privilege to now be able to be there for them.

The good news: Mom is getting better and we will continue to make trips south until she’s back to her feisty self.

The lesson: As writer Allen Saunders said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

And I’m okay with that. We didn’t know Mom would get sick. But the plans we made for our car trip cleared our calendars and has provided us ample opportunity to visit and be available in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Oh yes, I’ll keep on making plans. After all, I just can’t seem to get to bed without tomorrow’s to-do list sitting on my counter and I certainly can’t shop for food without making a two-week menu and writing out that all-important shopping list. But I won’t let the plans run my life. I’ll use them as assistive devices only and continue learning to enjoy the moment and allow life to happen…even when it’s not on anyone’s list!

Mimi

A little touch here, a little touch there.

Recently, we did a little fix-up project on the front door. At 25 years old, the house was showing a little wear here and there. Hubby and I love keeping things updated both inside and outside but somehow the front door, other than a good paint job, had eluded our to-do list.

With retirement about 18 months away and with a strong desire to downsize from our large house to something on one level and much smaller, we’ve begun looking at little fix-ups that will make our house more appealing to potential buyers.

One such project was the front door. I forgot to snap a before photo of the entire job but here’s a before photo of the old, tarnished door handle and two “afters” showing the finished job.

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Though we had painted the door a deep red several years ago we repainted to freshen it up, then swapped out the handle, added a brass kick plate and also added a door knocker. As you can see, it brings the door to life. And as you walk along the brick path from our driveway to the front entrance it really does look inviting.

Cost? Less than $200. Benefit? Hopefully it will draw in buyers and subtly say (without words) “Think this looks good? You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Little things really can make a difference. As a grandma it’s putting on a lightly scented cologne, always the same one every time I spend the day with them. Don’t know if the grands even notice, but I want them to smell that lovely scent when I hug them hello so that each time I’m near they will be reminded of how much I love and cherish them.

Or it’s wearing sneakers with your outfit instead of the pretty sandals that look better so you can be ready to play ball with the grands or climb playground equipment with them.

It can also be taking the time to research fun things to do with our little ones so it’s exciting and “new” when we’re with them.

And maybe it’s baking cookies either from scratch or from the preformed ones in the dairy section of the store.

Just like my front door updates, none of these things takes a lot of time and they don’t cost much money either. Just little things to do with your little ones that have a huge impact now and will lead to a lifetime of great memories for them.

Mimi

The Glory of the Ordinary

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I’m enjoying a whole new relationship with grandchild No. 2. After dropping off No. 1 at school we essentially have six hours together before it’s time to return to school to get his big brother at the end of the day. And I’m loving every minute of it.

Callan is agreeable, sweet, loving, and very funny. Take a recent trip to Hobby Lobby. After finishing up our purchases we got in the car and began driving to our next destination. Out of nowhere comes a car zooming across empty parking spaces, completely ignoring the fact that she should have been driving down the aisles rather than where cars are normally parked. And she was driving fast, too. So fast I had to quickly step on the brakes or we would have had a very close encounter.

And from the back seat I hear a very stern voice scolding, “Oh you’re in big trouble Mister Car.” I just couldn’t help but laugh. It was so funny. And he was absolutely right, too.

But the funniness continued later on when folding laundry. I happened to hold up a pair of his daddy’s clean “drawers” announcing “Look, Callan, I’m folding Daddy’s underwear.” Without skipping a beat he shouts out “That’s disgusting.” And when he saw my reaction—which was unbridled laughter—he began repeating it over and over again “That’s disgusting, Mimi, that’s disgusting,” all the while wrinkling up his nose and making faces as he said the word disgusting.

Yup, it seems a young 2-1/2 year old knows how to reduce his grandma to fits of laughter and tears.

I was so tickled by the things he said last week that I actually wrote them down in my phone’s NOTES application so I would remember to write about them later. And it’s these very things, these ordinary-kind-of-day things that make me want to write. That compel me to write so they can stay with me always. I don’t ever want to lose the glory of the ordinary.

It’s easy to take delight in our grands. As we observe them in uninhibited play and discovery, we are reminded of the things that really matter and of life’s simple pleasures.

Oh that each day I would take the time to observe what’s going on around me and revel in those simple pleasures—of seeing the good in others, of appreciating their kindnesses, of sharing a laugh with a coworker, of enjoying an evening chat with a neighbor. That I would indeed experience the glory in the ordinary that surrounds each of us every single day.

Mimi

 

Mondays with Mimi or Fun Days with Mimi?

The boys' suncatchers.

The boys’ suncatchers.

It’s been so long since I’ve written a post. And it’s only recently that I have started putting my finger on why. I think it’s because I’m no longer babysitting on Mondays due to a change in my work schedule.

Things are changing. And while change isn’t necessarily bad, it’s still change and change doesn’t always feel very good.

My identity since Konnor’s birth has included being Mimi. First to one, then two, then three, and very soon I’ll be Mimi to four grands. Wow! How wonderful is that.

And part of my identity has also been on being the Monday babysitter to two fun, sweet, precious grandboys. Babysitting isn’t coming to an end but the regularity associated with it for five years is. And though I am still available each week, their mommy’s work schedule has also changed so my availability to watch the boys doesn’t always coincide with Kate’s work days like it did in the past.

But though I may not be with the boys each week, I will certainly be with them from time to time and I will still want to record my thoughts. So I’ve decided I need to continue to write…which was the reason I started this blog way back when—to remember, to record, to enjoy the wonder of God’s sweet creations.

So here goes.

I did get to spend the day with the boys yesterday and what a great day we enjoyed together. Gotta love Target. There’s just so much free fun to be had. Stop in to the bakery to grab a cookie, then off to the toy department for 15 minutes of play. Yesterday there were several others enjoying this same treat because the toy department aisles were crammed with kids along with all sorts of sounds: hi-pitched sirens, growling monsters, shooting laser guns. It seems like nearly every toy has a little open hole in the packaging with the words TRY ME next to it. So that’s just what children do.

We also enjoyed another freebie – a visit to Petsmart where we spent another 30 or 40 minutes looking at the kitties, parakeets, reptiles, fish, bunnies, hamsters, etc. But the best part was interacting with the large green parrot. He was a talker and noise maker. And while we never did understand much of what he said, you can believe we all cracked up over and over again when he would throw in a farting noise every now and then. It was pretty hysterical.

We also go to enjoy a fun craft together – the results you see in the photo. I found the idea on Pinterest and wanted to share the original website with you but apparently didn’t save it. To make these cute suncatchers, you cut out two circles of clear contact paper for each project. I used the lids to my kitchen pots and made two sets, one slightly larger for Konnor.

We first took a short walk looking for treasures – flat items such as grasses, leaves, ferns, tiny flowers, etc. Callan held the bag and gladly stuffed it with all sorts of items.

Then it was time to assemble the suncatcher.The most difficult part is peeling the backing off the contact paper, but once that was done I put one on the floor for each boy. They proceeded to add some of their treasures to the sticky side. Once everyone was satisfied with their artwork, I put down the remaining contact paper, sticky side to sticky side, sealing everything in place.

It wasn’t perfect but a pair of scissors and a quick trim took care of that. Then you need to rummage in the back of your junk drawer for the elusive single hole punch so you can punch a hole in each item. Of course while doing this it’s always fun to have the little one find the ribbon you plan on threading through that hole—and have a blast unrolling it.

All wrapped up!

All wrapped up!

When your little one is finished playing with the ribbon, cut off a bit, thread it through the hole, tie a bow or knot and hang it up on a suction cup hook. Don’t they look great!

Observation: it’s never about how much money you spend, it’s how you spend your time. And being with my family (specifically my grands) is always precious to me. It may seem as though I’m imparting so much into their young lives. But truth be told, I think I get much more out of it as I’m reminded afresh that God creates each of us, made in His image, but unique and wonderful at the same time.

Mimi