Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Nap

A porch swing in the summer is an antidote for stress and a stimulator of rest and relaxation.
I have never seen it fail to soothe a baby or distract a fussy toddler. Porch swings are magic.

Take today for instance.

Vivien's mama is genius in organization. She has the vision to take an over stored area and make it into a useable space. She says its all about sorting what you have.
Vivien's mama's friend is having a baby in a few weeks and she is nesting to the max. She is intent on utilizing previous storage space for an additional area for her three year old son to play and craft in and a space for her own creative pursuits. Today was the day they were going to finalize their plans. Time for some pregnancy photos was allocated as well. It was to be a full day.

That's where Grammy comes in. A Visiting Grammy has all the time in the world and all the desire to hold and entertain. This comes in handy when there is a baby on the way and things that need to be done.

Vivien and I took our place on the friend's porch to spend our time together. Mama's friend lives in a wonderful older home with character and of course, a porch. Vivien was entranced with the traffic and the noise that living in city affords. Vivien has a lovely room. She has darkened shades and a noise machine to rid her of noisy things that will distract her from sleeping.

So you would think...

Once the little girl became mesmerized with the soothing motion of the porch swing, nothing, and I mean nothing was going to wake her up. And the city tried. Vivien slept through the squealing hydraulic brakes of a dump truck across the street. She slept through sirens and the deep vibrating sounds of a bass system in a car stereo. A day care worker, leading a parade of a dozen children yelled loudly, 'Akilah, don't you pretend that you don't hear me!'. A summer thunderstorm roared through, complete with near by claps of thunder and threatening lightening. And heavy rainfall. Still the slumbering princess slept on....

That's how it is with summer naps and porch swings....Summer ambrosia....


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vivien's Choice

Today, Vivien's mama, Vivien and I went to the fabric store. It seems I travel with my sewing machine these days, making London Shades, quilts or kitchen curtains at each of my progeny's homes. I cannot tell you how much I love to do it. It's grand to be allowed to be a part of their homemaking.

My daughter introduced me to the joys of Amy Butler's vibrant fabrics years ago. I made a sun dress for her for an thus began the love affair. It was only appropriate that when nursery material was needed for Vivien's room, that my daughter would look to Amy to supply the needed inspiration. And we got it in spades. The mentioned shades, the quilt, the matching bumper pads, the diaper bag and even her spit up cloths have all been adorned with lovely fabric.

And Vivien loves it.

My daughter will hear her 'talking' to the Mandarin Dots, the Morning Glory, and others of the Midwest Modern II and Lotus line. She is content to lie on her quilt made with a patchwork of all her fabrics. Her very large diaper bag, featured in Amy's book Little Stitches for Little Ones, is big enough to hold her and it catches her attention as well.

So today, when we were at the fabric store and while the clerk was measuring out several pieces of home decorating fabric for the bags that I make, her little eyes were scoping out the design and the colors. She could barely wait till her little hands could touch the appealing fabrics. Even though, this time, it was not Amy Butler, her trained eye discerned that, this indeed was good enough to give it attention. The clerk was entertained by her young interest so we explained how she has always( 4 months!) loved good design.

My daughters have been moderately interested in sewing. Vivien's mama is great with yarn, knitting things beyond my comprehension. My youngest daughter, enjoys utilizing sewing for her artistic bent. So my hope is that Miss Viv will be my apprentice in the years to come. I hope that she will follow me into my sewing room, expecting me to explain patterns and techniques every time she visits. Will she be the one to inherit my collection of vintage linens and make something very special with them? Could it be that she will out do me in every aspect of sewing?

I certainly hope so.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I am currently in Grammy heaven otherwise known as Mason Ohio.
Heaven, not because of King's Island or that it is a mighty nice community. The heaven part comes from the fact that Mason Ohio is the home of my extremely important, special and idolized granddaughter, Vivien.

It appears that at least once every six weeks, I have found reasons for visiting. I manage to wangle an invite. Perhaps it is my pleading, whiny tone. Maybe it's the incessant questions about Vivie's size or updates that make my daughter feel sorry for me. Whatever it is, it's been working and I am here again.

Last night, as I lay in bed in the guest room, going over the events of the day and contemplating the wonder that is a grandchild, I noticed my son in law and daughter's college diploma hanging on the wall.

I home schooled my daughter for eleven years. I didn't say I was good at it, but I did the best I could, determined to keep her from the traveling special ed classes that our school district offered. Due to a myriad of health issues, Vivien's Mama struggled with learning. She was an amazingly brilliant little girl who struggled with the timelines of learning. Homeschool circumvented so much of the technicalities of schooling, but much was missed in the whole scheme of things. (Much was accomplished, to be noted, but much was also missed.)

Imagine my joy of her adult decision to pursue her education after high school! She was able to accomplish piece meal, allowing for moves and alterations to her and her husband's locations. A year ago, she accomplished her degree. Her father and I were so proud of all her hard work and her great grades. She truly is my hero.

And then I remembered her husband's college journey. I remember a visit during the first semester of his first year. I opened his math book, perhaps calculus, only to see squiggly lines and mysterious codes. The first page, I could not understand. This man, who had fun in college and still managed to do well, was my daughter's best tutor during her time in college. It is with profound gratefulness that I viewed his help with our daughter's schooling.

So know I look at those diplomas and all they represent. I am staying with these young adults in their lovely home with their adorable daughter. They are doing well for themselves and they alone have made it happen. Hard work and determination, the stuff that success is made of.

No wonder I fell asleep last night with a smile on my lips and a little bit of tears in my eyes.

Sigh.......Here's to my wonderful daughter and her equally wonderful husband.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Lily Story

I have a six year old friend named Lily. We met when I began babysitting her when she was ten months old. Just a once a week event, but the pattern began a relationship that has spanned these past five years.

Even now, Lily will leave a message on my answering machine, reminding me that we need to get together. Our days together are full of chatting, tea parties, drawing and this summer, going to the pool. A few visits ago, she let me know how old she's getting by asking me if I had any fingernail polish. I assured her that I did, but that, sadly, it was boring old lady colors. Never one to miss a cue, Lilly arrived the next time with a handful of nail polishes, designed to spice Her Debbie up a bit. When she was ready to leave, I reminded her of her polish; to not forget them. She quickly responded that she was leaving them here for me because my colors were boring.

I grin every time I see her colorful offerings in my drawer. After a quick mini pedicure to myself one night, I grabbed one of Lily's polishes that looked a bit demure. I thought to myself that the next time she came over, I would ask her why she thought that that color was any different than mine. I was assured that she would have an answer for me.

A few days later, I was needing a bit of a touch up to my sandal exposed feet. I considered changing to a brighter color, but chickened out, not wanting to draw much attention to my buniony, arthritic feet. Again, I applied the same subdued Lily color.

My husband and I were out walking after church last week and glancing down at my toes, I was surprised to see some very bold, hot pink tootsies staring back! I usually have my walking shoes or sandals on so generally, my toesies are covered. A post church walk usually means that I have my dress walking sandals on. I stared in disbelief that I could not remember when I put this garish color on! Wouldn't I, even in my limited memory these days, remember such a momentous decision? My husbands response to my incredulousness, was one of head shaking, tsk, tsking about the sad state of my memory, maybe even a bit worried about future accessory decisions to come.

After bathing that night, still perplexing about my toe nail dilemma, I happened to glance at Lily's polishes one more time. On the back of the one I selected, was written in big letters: CHANGES COLORS WHEN EXPOSED TO SUNLIGHT!!

Aha! Dementia is apparently delayed for another time, and my surprise neon pink toes mystery is settled at last! Only Lily would take me on such a fun journey of wonder, doubt and suspicion.

I smile broadly each time my glimmery toes are exposed to the light....
Can you see them from there??

Friday, July 24, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

Most days, I go through my day with a semi agenda; certain goals and aspirationsto be accomplished, but after four children, I have come to be very flexible with my schedule.

Good thing too, or I dare not think of the fun times or wonderful opportunities I could have missed had a slavish schedule hemmed me in.

Take yesterday. I was cleaning my sweaty post dog walking self up a bit for a visit to the grocery store. I get a phone call from the 2G's mama.....she is calling from my driveway! Little Grant's pinkie has apparently met with the locked end of a heavy door and Mama needs some opinions as to a need for xrays. Did I mention that Miss Grace also used this intense time to fill her drawers to the max? AND left some on Mama's shorts? Ah yes, the craziness of mamahood!

Nana was ready, so the kiddos(and mama) get cleaned up and off to the hospital we go. I quickly pick up some crayons and a matchbox car for my purse and maybe just a few peppermints that Grant likes me to break up for him and off we go. Baby Grace is all clean and mama has changed her pooped on shorts. Did I mention that while I was changing from my sweaty clothes into clean ones, that I found a twenty dollar bill in my pants pocket?! Sounds like the makings of a post hospital visit luncheon!

Grant was a good soldier while his finger was inspected, x-rayed and proclaimed not broken. He received Tylenol, large fish shaped cinnamon cookies, little cheese crackers, many stickers and several atta boys from a collection of health care workers. Grace just stayed on my hip, charming everyone with her persona and rakish hair do. We shlumped kids, backpacks and toys to the docs, hospital and back to docs again with a celebratory parade like style. Grant carried his collection of rewards all the while keeping the offended pinkie in the air for protection. Mama and me were, by this time, a bit silly with low blood sugar and the fast flowing events, that almost everything that was said or happened brought about more than a bit of giggles. Grant had to wonder if everyone who is injured has quite this much fun.

We proceeded to lunch at a most agreeable place. Not only was Grant offered CHOCOLATE milk, but an ice pack for his owie. Mama and I ate voraciously, fielding a rather food ready Grace off our plates. She acquiesed to sit in a high chair and view and entertain the world. Grant picked at his food, by now quite full and catatonic from the morning's events. While Mama took Grant to go potty, I had to purchase some lovely chocolates for our desserts. A special treat for a Mama who took it all in stride and lived to tell the tale.

Both of our little companions fell fast asleep once the car started moving. Mama and I enjoyed our special chocolate treat while the little ones slept.

Just imagine the fun I would have missed if I had insisted on pursuing my lofty goal of grocery shopping and finishing my baby blanket!

Be open to opportunities...where they take you is usually better than you had planned......

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My mother is law taught me how to sew in 1971, after I had lied to get a job in a fabric store. Who knew that in a mix of 100+ applicants and out of the three they selected, I would have been one of them? My dear MIL, busy with ten children, took time out of her busy week to teach her soon to be lying daughter in law, to at least be able to fake it, on my new job....

Therein began my love affair with fabric and all things sewn.....

The peace I feel when completing a project, the rush I get when finding just the right fabric, the victory that comes when overcoming a technical glitch, all these things add up to Sewing Nirvana...!

Yesterday was the perfect example...

Cool, rainy July...Too wet to be in the garden; the perfect excuse for an afternoon in my sewing room...Add a creme brulee candle, a large glass of tea, a great book on CD, Dixie, by faithful canine companion on her quilt by me, vintage buttons to add on to the wonderful bag I'm creating for Emily, and I couldn't be happier....Well,ok, if Vivien was sitting near me to absorb all of Grammy's instruction, THAT would be Sewing Nirvana!!!!

Emily's bag got completed, a new storage idea for the sewing room came to me, a summer bankie for a baby that will probably be born today and I was one content grammy....

There is something engaging in placing all the complexities of a sewing project and what it does to your brain, that straightens out your mind, clears the mechanism for better thinking all the way around....

Should we start a sewing circle for all our world leaders?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Its the small things

This year, my home turns 90 years old. In respect to it's age, my husband and I decided to treat it to a manner deserving by sprucing things up a bit. Starting at the top, a new roof was in order. Who knows when the last time it's high peak had been walked upon? New gutters and downspouts added a ribbon like effect to the house package. And now it's my turn; I get to paint the trim around the first floor windows! (Obviously, I'm letting those with younger years and really high ladders do the second story!)

So yesterday, I'm fussing around the fireplace windows. As I'm balancing myself on the ladder by holding onto the limestone sill, I start to groom the chimney. I begin meticulously picking ivy roots from between the grout and pull old vines from around the brick. From my elevated view, I remember how many times my husband and I had driven around looking for houses with this tell tale sign of a fireplace. We would scout the older areas and like a odd game of I Spy, we would shout out our find of a house that had a brick chimney attached to one side of the house, with the customary set of windows on either side. This was our sign of home. Our goal, our longing, our dream, to have the kind of home that would draw our family and friends together around the peaceful setting of a wood burning fireplace.

Ten years ago next week, we moved into our dream home. The home that I literally would day dream about when I wanted to go to a peaceful place. The entry, revealing a generous living room, showcased by a far wall with fireplace and bookshelves flanking both sides and the obligatory windows above both. The staircase would be on the other end of the room, allowing it to be an auxiliary focal point. These two specific things were actually in my day dream that I had for many years. Imagine my surprise when I walked into this home the first time to see it in person and for sale!

So I meticulously continued to clean the chimney bricks, scrape the beloved windows and apply it's first coat of primer. At one point, I believe I even patted the decorative brick around the base of the chimney in some kind of weird affirmation of affection.

It is important to add, that my husband and I should never have been able to afford this house. We have been a one income family since our first pregnancy in the 70's. My husband did not graduate from college, even though the job he now has, requires it. I barely graduated from high school. Our third child was the first in my family to graduate from college and that was just last year. We have been your typical middle class family all our married life. And yet, we are living in the exact house that we would have parked our car on the street to look at many, many years ago. We would have discussed our best guess at how the house looked inside but never, never would have had the gumption to call a realtor over. But yet our dreams persisted and years later this factory rat and his unemployable wife entered the doors of long sought after dream.


God is good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dixie Saves the Day!

I am the third owner of a rowdy, noisy, incredibly loving and opinionated Jack Russell Terrier. It appears that three other owners had experienced enough of her, ahem, attitude and boisterous comments, to run screaming themselves to the nearest shelter, dislodging themselves of this noisy pest. Good for me.

Dixie has been with me for nearly two years now. I had much to learn on how to be a good dog mommy. It has to be intentional for me. In my post mommying years, I find myself in grandma mode; forgiving bad behaviour so much quicker than I did as a stern mama. The word spoiling comes to mind. I ruined my time with a beagle named Molly due to my cosseting behavior. But I had received word from my long suffering, non dog person, hubby, that I was going to be watched. Any inkling of doggy spoilage, and we were both in big trouble. I read the books, watched the video and entered into Dog Ownership with a strong resolve.

It has worked. Hubby's happy. Dixie is obedient and I have passed the test. Whew.

True to some canine/owner observations, Dixie resembles me. She is non stop, mouthy, has a small head and her colors of black and tan mirror the colors that I prefer to wear. She is fiercely loyal and very protective. She grumbles when justice is administered. She takes on big dogs with no fear. Or sense. Wow. Could we be any more similiar?

That's why when she uncharacteristically flipped out late Saturday night, barking into the dark night when she is usually fast asleep, I did not correct her. I let her have at whatever was disturbing her security. I followed up by turning on outdoor lights and checking the perimeter, my guard dog in tow. Back to bed, having done our duty.

Last night, a neighbor told me that his car had been broken into Saturday night. Same time as Dixie's warning. I was oddly curious that my truck door was slightly ajar when I went to use it yesterday. According to my best guess, Dixie, Protective Warrior, heard the intruder in her slumber and barked loud and long enough to push the invader on. I could see a slurky, dark. ner do well, running through my side yard to the neighbor's field and onto his car and it's contents.

Sometimes it's important to make a little noise....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Loving Vivie

One of the most remarkable things to have happened in my life is something that I had no active part in. The birth of my wonderful first grandchild, a precious little girl named Vivien Claire, has set my life on a tangent of adoration, devotion and dedication, that I didn't think possible. Vivien lives three hours away, so a daily, even a weekly cuddling, is out of the question, but on those monthly visits, cares melt away, all agendas are put on hold and my world revolves around getting to know this sweet little girl who promises to be a grand companion to me.

The first year is one of such hyper growth and progress, that each visit reveals more and more about the person that Vivie is becoming. The stages move rapidly whether or not Grammy and Poppy are there. But one thing remains static in the past months; Vivien is well aware of who I am whenever I see her. Last month's brief visit at Aunt Carly and Uncle Devon's, proved once again that the magical connection between grandchild and grandparent is real and enduring. Entering into the more skeptical months, I approached her cautiously and slowly. And then it happened. The connection via the eyes. The gazing into the soul of each other, sending out the mysterious threads of belonging to our brains and voila! The circuit is complete and her tiny little baby brain searches all her memories and there I was! Grammy! Vivien recognizes that she knows me, knows that I love her, understand her and will die for her if need be. She knows that I am to be trusted and somewhere within, knows that we belong to each other. All this is transmitted from the gaze into each other's eyes. Supernatural, spiritual, and beyond anything I've ever experienced. You know that that will happen with children that you have birthed. That is expected. But to have the link via her mother is something rare and fine.

I may have many wonderful grandchildren to come, but this experience with Vivien Claire has altered my life and encouraged me on to my elder years...Thank you Vivie......

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Late July is a gratifying time for gardeners. The toil of planting and planning and watering is ebbing and the reaping of the benefits of gardening is at it's best. You've have had successful blooms in daffodils, tulips, peonies, lilacs, love in a mist and the multitudinal echincachea. Now, I am content to watch the black eyed susans and daisies provide wide color in the garden along with the late season petunias and geraniums. The meandering morning glories provide a beautiful peek of the excellent blue that promises to be abundant in those late summer mornings. In general, slower maintenance is the rule of thumb and an enjoyment of the longer days amidst the profusion of color, is the epitome of the gardeners goal.

Taking a view of the work done on the gardening season by sitting amdist the wisteria vines in the early evening, makes the work done in early spring, all worth it. There is such a peace and contentment in a garden well done. The thoughts of the brutual winter to come seems lessened by the yearly hope of just such a night as this among the late bloomers.

Gardening, parenting....Very similiar, right?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

off to market

I have two little friends that I call the 2G's; Grant and Gracie. They are 2 years and 7 months. Their mama is a special friend to me and together, we enjoy sharing our faith walk, our sewing adventures and now, during the summer, we have been attending our local Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. The 2G's mama refers to it as 'doing the FM in the AM'! And I love it.

The children seem to love the bustle, the music, the aroma of fresh produce and plants and of course, the lovely baked goods. Grant, particularly literate, enjoys the 'Buck a Book/Book a Book' wagon, which generously gives each child attending, a book of their own for free. Each week, he approaches the cart like a miser with gold. He usually knows immediately which story book will go home with him and he is usually busy enough with his new book, to let Mama and I pick out one for Gracie. Her literate tastes is currently dealing with literal tasting at her stage, but we make sure to get good book to add to her collection when she is as interested in reading as Brother Grant. We continue on to see what local artists and gardens have produced during the week. We stop many times to answer questions about the darlingness of the 2G's and their two seater stroller, packed high with goodies from the market. Grant knows that we look at everything before we join the Amish children at the playground. He is that good that he patiently waits without complaint because he knows that his mama will be good on her word and take him to play on the playground equipment while his Nana Deb stays with Gracie Beth.

I love watching Mama and son play on the swings and merry go round together. I love watching Grant interact with all the children and I love it when he waves at me sitting there with Gracie and yells a friendly, 'Hi Nana!'.

Today, we purchased blackberries, tomatoes,corn on the cob, baby eggplants, a pie and a loaf of Amish made bread. We both look forward to sharing these fresh items with our families. But both of us know that the sharing of the time and the experiences on these warm summer Saturdays, will stay with us for many summers to come...

Friday, July 17, 2009

By the way...

I forgot to mention that there is more to me than a font of wisdom! I love to sew; my favorite thing is 'repurposing' old things and making them cooly new. Nothing like finding pieces of vintage toweling as the cute little pocket twins on a vintage/retro/new apron! I have saved, in my thirty years of fabric collecting, crazy pieces and scraps of materials that spark memories and now show up as oddly contemporary.

Like to sew or want to know more about how to utilize what you have into some thing amazingly new? We can do that! Being a one income family most of my 36 years of married life, creativity has had to come into play when finances were pinched. Many of my creations have come out of necessity but gave birth to whole new way of seeing things.

Look forward to ideas and inspirations to come that are sure to spur you onto seeing things with a repurposing eye....Fun, useful, politically correct and just plain wonderful!!

Stay tuned...

For what its worth

I have a passion for directing new/young moms on the incredible journey of parenting. I have enjoyed to great depths, my path of mothering four children into adulthood and feel humbled and overjoyed at the amazing people that they have become. There is no formulas or special recipes for this. Purely intentional, greatly inspirational, supernaturaly and mostly determination.

This does not come easily. That 's where I come in. I want to steer the next generation of loving mamas into a blanket of encouragement and affirmation. The journey of molding a tiny infant into a walking, talking, thinking individual, bent on doing good on this good earth is a daunting experience and one best taken with the wisdom of the ages and the benevolence of those that have previously traveled the path.

So that's where I come in. Not as a know it all. Think of me as mentor, encourager, teacher.

I look forward to sharing my journey and encouraging you on yours. I want you to reach my age with no regrets or second guessing, or what ifs. Live your life with your little ones as an exciting adventure. Soak up the newness that they experience each day right along with them.

And always rest.

Join me and let's discover all the wonders this time has to offer......

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