Saturday, February 26, 2011

That's What Love Is All About

Assignment:  Buy valentines for Rylan's class party, help her address and sign 29 valentines--26 students, 2 teachers, one teacher's aide.

First Step:  Pick out valentines at CVS Pharmacy.  Rylan decides we should purchase one kind for boys and one kind for girls, because "boys don't like Princesses and stuff like that."  Boys get cool jungle animals in 3-D alternating poses and punny captions like "I'm not lion, I want to be your Valentine," and "I'm ape over you!"  Girls get puppies and kittens in precious photos with roses and tea sets, and sugary captions like "Sweet-Tea, will you be my Valentine?" and "You're the purr-fect Valentine for me!" along with a bonus kitty pencil.

Second Step:  Address all those valentines using the alphabetical list of students that Mrs. Lent sent home.  Rylan can read all the names, and knows if they are girls or boys, but still manages to mess up a few--giving a boy one of the girls' valentines or vice-versa.  She chuckles at herself when she makes those mistakes.  When we're all done, she still has a half pack of the girls' style and about a third pack of the boys' style left.

Third Step:  What to do with the leftovers?  Well, Grandma Val wants one for sure, and how about Kinley, Mommy, Auntie Carrie, Daddy?  First leftover goes to Cooper Dog, the family pet. He gets the two puppies, with the caption "No bones about it, you're my best friend, Valentine!"  All the girls in the family are awarded the appropriate kittified, cutified cards. 

Last Step (and punch line):  I ask her, "What about your Daddy Kyle?  You have lots of the boys' valentines left.  What animal do you think he'd like?"  Deep in thought, Rylan finally responds, "I think I'm going to give him one of the girls' kinds, because he really likes girlie things." 

Epilogue and Moral:  I share this funny story with Kyle when he gets home from work.  "Oh no," he says, "don't let that comment get around!"  It's ok, Kyle, I'm only blogging it on the internet.  Daddies of little girls liking girlie things is really what love is all about.  They play prince to their princess, they manage to get the heads back on Barbies, they participate in dance parties, they root on their budding gymnasts, they learn to brush tangled hair into neat ponytails, and they do it in such a spirit that their little girls believe Daddy really likes these girlie things.  Treasure that valentine, Kyle; it truly says how much your little girls treasure you. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Comin' Around Again

One of my grandma duties is to pick up grandkids from school.  When I’m quiet and just let the kids talk on the way home in the car, I can learn a lot about the day—like last Tuesday.  Rylan, our kindergartner, mentions to her sister Kinley, our pre-schooler, that she had fun playing chase with Ethan on the playground.  Rylan is in a class with 18 boys and 8 girls—odds are good that girls will be chased!

I mention the play ground antics to Carrie, my grown-up daughter, that evening, and she begins reminiscing about her kindergarten days in Miss Seidman’s class, remembering how Barry Barley, with his cute round cheeks and bowl-cut golden hair and Kevin White, with the olive skin and dark curly hair, used to chase her on the playground—always chasing, always wanting kisses.

Next morning, walking Rylan to the school grounds, she announces she’s not marrying Trevor ever.  Surprised by her own wit, she says, “Hey, Trevor and ever.  That rhymes, but I’m still not marrying Trevor, never ever.  Hey that rhymes too, but that doesn’t make any difference.”

So I ask her, “Why don’t you want to marry Trevor?”
She quickly informs me, “Because he’s annoying!”

“Why is he annoying, Ry?”

“Because he always bugs me and Ethan while we’re playing chase.” 

Grammy-curiosity just won’t let it rest, so I keep digging, “What does he do that bugs you?” 

“He tries to get kisses, lots of kisses.  That would be so annoying if I married him. (Uh, most of us wouldn’t be annoyed by lots of kisses—but I’m just fine with her reasoning for now.)

 “So who do you want to marry?” 

“I don't know yet, Grammy.  I’ll probably have to wait until the first grade and see.” 

Rylan gets to school, stands in the kindergarten line for all the kids with blue book bags (there are four kindergarten classes—each with their own distinct bags—reds, yellows, blues, and purples—each with twice as many boys as girls).  Rylan stands behind a tall boy with neatly combed blonde hair and a nice smile.  I quietly ask Rylan who Ethan is, and she points to the one in front of her.  I don’t find out who Trevor is, but that doesn't matter, because she's not going to marry him, never, ever.

While we are waiting for the bell to ring and Rylan’s teacher to escort the line to class, I have a sudden flashback to 2nd grade, running to the safe base—the tetherball pole—and barely escaping from yucky Herman in his dark blue and yellow cub scout uniform and his annoying pronouncement that next recess he was going to catch me and kiss me.   Oh yes, Rylan, it’s comin’ around again.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Everyone Knows It's Windy

Last Tuesday my daughter Carrie read my blog with granddaughter stories and then asked why hadn't I written down the funny things she and sis Jennifer said while growing up.  I wish I would have. I can jump back a generation and see what my fuzzy brain can remember of my first go round at parenting.

When Carrie was in the second grade, her best friend was Stephanie.  Stephanie actually lived in Antioch, but her mom made the 20-minute daily drive over the hill to Concord to have her daughter attend Ayers School.  However, classroom time just wasn't enough since best friends must get together often to super glue that little girl bond.  Stephanie was able to come with Carrie to our house a few times after school each week, so if a weekend play date was needed, it was only fair that we reciprocate and make the drive up Bailey Road and over the hill to Antioch.

One particularly windy Saturday, Carrie started the usual pleading to go to Steph's house.  I hated Bailey Road.  It was a narrow, winding two-laner with roller coaster style dips and blind curves, which was perpetually scented by road-kill skunk. (On one trip, we counted 13 dead skunks!)  Throw in some wind gusts and you have a 50 percent chance of an accident.  (I remember now that there was an auto wreckers yard on the road, and I just figured out why). 

Not wanting to risk two lives for one play date, I told Carrie that it was just too windy and that it would be even windier up on Bailey Road.  "Why, we might even get blown right off the mountain!"  She looked puzzled about that statement, went quiet in thought for a few moments, and then emphatically declared, "Mom, there isn't any wind on Bailey Road."  "How do you know that, Carrie?"  "Oh Mom, there can't be any wind because there aren't any trees." 

Well, now Mom was puzzled.  Carrie was right about one thing--the hills were just big grassy open areas.  But she wasn't making much sense; I thought she was just being silly to make me give in to the road trip.  "Carrie, just because there aren't any trees doesn't mean there won't be wind."  She gave me that aren't-you-any-smarter-than-a-second-grader look and, in all seriousness explained, "Mom, the trees start waving their arms and make the wind, so there can't be any wind if there aren't any trees!"

As I think about that innocent but backward view, I must admit many of us aren't any smarter than a second grader, especially when it comes to understanding how God works.  Jesus tells us, in John chapter 3, that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of all who are born again.  He likens the Spirit to the wind, stating, "The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."  The Spirit moves in our hearts, revealing a need to fill, an opportunity to help, a hurt that must be mended, a ministry or a purpose that we'd never seen before but suddenly can't turn our eyes from.  When we respond to that prompting of the Spirit, we are at one with God's will, bending in the direction he wants us to go--just like trees in the wind.  Too often, however, we get it backward, thinking that if we start waving our arms at God, He will move at our command.  We make our plans and we ask Him to back them.  We do and we do, and it just doesn't do, because we think we can make our own wind.  We really should get this lesson; Jesus restated it many ways for us.  John 15:7, "Apart from me, you can do nothing."  

So I challenge you today to read two chapters from the Bible, book of John, chapter 3 and chapter 15.   I'm predicting it will be a windy day.  Get ready for a wild ride with God!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let Them Eat . . . Cupcakes!

Yesterday, my granddaughters Rylan (5) and Kinley (4) helped me make cupcakes for grandson Christian's 5th birthday.  Cooking is a big event when it's real and not in the let's-pretend, kid-sized kitchen.  Aprons on, chairs to the counter, measuring cups out, all supplies ready, electric mixer plugged in, oven preheating. 

Now there are certain steps that these two are always eager to do--lining the cupcake pan with colorful papers, squatting down to check that Grammy has measured ingredients to the correct line in the glass cup, slowly pouring the water and oil in the big bowl, taking a turn with the mixer (and licking leftover batter off the beaters, of course).  But adding eggs?  That's supposed to be Grammy Val's job. Nevertheless, I coaxed them into giving the old egg-cracking a try.  Rylan was willing to tap the egg on the metal bowl, but I had to finish the cracking and drop the raw egg into the cake mix ("because eggs are too messy").  Kinley was up for the whole adventure.  She tapped, she squished, egg ran over her hand, but she got it in the bowl.  

Kinley proceeded to give me a slimy high five, and started woo-hooing and dancing around the kitchen, declaring, "I'm telling Mommy I cracked an egg by myself!  Whew! I can crack eggs . . I have the best life!"

How do we get back there?  To those essential and elementary moments of discovery and joy--to those times when we realize that life is a beautiful gift, the best gift?  The Bible tells us that a little child shall lead them.

So, if today your life doesn't feel like it's all it's cracked up to be, make some cupcakes.  Get crackin!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Beginnings and Double Blessings

I've always wanted to have a blog, a place to save the special blessings and must-not-forget moments in life.  Now that I'm a grandma, the want has turned into a need.  If I don't write down the fresh and funny perspectives that children bring to everyday events, I won't remember them.  So I'll save them in Grandma's Hope Chest where I can always take a second look at the treasures God has given me and hope that others will open the lid and receive a blessing as well.

Grandchildren are a double blessing because God once again entrusts us with open minds, open hearts, and the budding spirits of His next generation of explorers.  We get to explore creation again with new eyes and new insights.  We teach and we are taught in the classroom of life.   We discover that we have five senses that need a workout and we have trainers sure to give us a good one!  We get to be wisely mature and innocently immature at the same time. We offer all that we are and receive all that we ever wanted.

Today's hope is that this new beginning will lead to an overflowing chest of magical memories, of sure-to-bring-a-smile stories, and stick-to-the-soul lessons.  I'm trusting that God will reveal those  jewels-in-the-rough He places on my daily path and prompt me to pick them up and place them in my hope chest blog.  Thanks, Jamie, for starting me on my way.