Ya-ya’s Adventures,Year Two, Episode 4

It has been a great joy babysitting these three grand girls. It’s even more special living with Leah and Hannah. At first though, I had a bit of difficulty getting them to all their destinations on time. Since I have Delilah on a rotating schedule, my times to transport them to school changes. If I have Delilah on a Monday, Wednesday, or a Friday, all of us get into the NanaVan and travel to Delilah’s bus stop around 8:00AM. If both Delilah and Leah are going to their schools, I take Delilah to school at 8:30 AM. The second day of the “two schools” schedule, the girls were on their devices keeping busy while I tended to Hannah in another room. After awhile, Delilah comes to me and asks if she is going to school that day or staying home. I said she was going to school but we still had lots of time. As I sat in the room feeding Hannah, I gave serious thought to Delilah‘s question. Then, I realized I was thinking that I was to get Delilah to school at Leah’s time, which is 9:20. It was 8:45 and Delilah ‘s school had started! She was late! I rushed everyone into the car (thank goodness there was no need for coats yet) and rushed to Delilah ‘s school. I had to get all three girls out of the car and walk around the sidewalk to the main entrance. Then, I had to sign Delilah into school. Poor girl was all confused since she was just in kindergarten and didn’t understand what was happening It was 9:10. Could I get the other two little girls back into the car and to Leah’s school in time? I just made it. By the time I returned home and got Leah down for a nap, I took a nap, too. Before I napped, I send a message to both Val and Tim explaining what had happened and apologizing. Tim messaged back, “Silly Nana!” I haven’t done that since and I’m sure I never will.

A couple of weeks into the school year, Val messaged me a question: “How did I make Delilah’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich?” Apparently Delilah had told her mom that my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were perfect and she wanted one just like that. I was kind of proud that MY peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made such an impression! I went over the details of making Nana’s perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Later, I found out that Delilah didn’t want the sandwich any way it was made. She was just being particular. My sandwiches weren’t so perfect after all.

One Saturday, when I was “off duty”, that is not babysitting, Leah kept coming into my room. She does that often because I am a part of her family just like her mommy and daddy. But, this one time, I was busy enough that I didn’t want to be disturbed. Leah came into my room so often, that I said, “You again!” and frowned. The next time she came in, this three year old said, “Yup, it’s me again!” Now, how can I frown at that?

Another time, while I was babysitting and feeding Hannah, Leah was playing in another room. That’s what I thought. But, she burst into the room- with Crayola marker all over her face! She was so excited to show off her creation, until she saw my face. She said she wanted to be a dog- and she had done very well- with a black nose, dots on her face, black eyes, and black lips! All I could think of was getting that stuff away from her mouth before it poisoned her. It WAS Crayola so there was no harm, thank goodness. Rachel was disappointed that I didn’t take a picture before I washed it off.

Delilah was with me on a day her school was closed. She was not in a very good mood that day, with several melt downs throughout the morning. I had planned a visit to the library for story time and a craft but she wasn’t happy about going. The story was about “filling other’s buckets”, which is a concept about everyone having a bucket of good feelings. Our buckets can get low or empty when bad things happen or someone is not nice to us. All of us should make sure we fill the buckets of those around us with good feelings. I thought it was a great idea for Delilah with her mood. Delilah didn’t think so. It took convincing to get her to make the bucket craft and her mood did not improve on the ride home. But the kicker was when we walked into the house and Delilah announced that, “She wasn’t going to fill anybody’s bucket today!” So true, so true!

Leah loves to do things with me. Seeing how excited she gets over helping me with my laundry helps me enjoy the chore. My laundry hamper is on the first floor but the washer is in the basement so we throw my dirty clothes down the basement steps. Anything that doesn’t go all the way down gets kicked to the bottom as we walk down. I used to make Leah sit on the steps and go down on her bottom but she’s too big for that, she tells me. We go to the washer and she throws the detergent pod in. Then, she drags the clothes from the bottom of the steps to the washer where I sort it. If it’s something small to go in, she gets to toss it in. I have to watch because she gets a bit enthusiastic and sometimes throws the clothes behind the washer which is not good. The sorted clothes for another wash go into a basket. The washer lid goes down and Leah wants to be lifted up so she can push the “on” button. It takes both of her thumbs to push on the button and start the washer. The lid is clear so we watch the clothes getting wet for awhile before heading upstairs.

Occasionally, I take her to the grocery store with me. The last time I did, she insisted on wearing her tiara to the store. She did not want to sit in the cart so she walked right alongside me, holding onto the cart the entire time. Of course, she had to use the bathroom since I had forgotten to ask her to go before we left. Our half full grocery cart had to sit outside while I took her in. I swear she believed she was royalty when the people in the store talked to her and called her princess! When we got to the checkout, she asked the clerk for a sticker, please. She carried the toilet paper rolls into the house for me and told her mommy all about our trip.

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Leah playing with sticks in the yard – with her tiara…

One night she woke up Rachel with loud hysterical screams! There was a huge bug in the hall! Turned out to be a black sock. Another time she screamed she was stuck in the bathroom. A stink bug was on the door preventing her passing.

We watched the leaves fall from the trees a few weeks ago and she said that there were a lot of leaves on the ground. I asked her what Daddy was going to do with them and she said, “Rake them”. But, she can’t say the letter “R” so it came out, “Yake them”.IMG_0181[1] I asked her what Daddy uses to “yake” the leaves and she told me he uses a “yaker”. I’m going to miss all those mispronounced words when she gets older. For awhile, she couldn’t say the letter “N”, so that was how I became Ya-ya. But now I’m Nana. I miss being Ya-ya.

This past weekend, Rachel and Mike bought a new dining table. To save the money, they put it together themselves. When I came out of my room to see what it looked like, there was Leah lying on her back under the table watching her daddy, on his back, tightening all the screws.IMG_0180[1]

Went I entered my bedroom one evening, I found two dolls occupying my bed. Leah said they needed a place to sleep. IMG_1875[1]

Believe me when I say how much I love babysitting, especially living with Rachel’s family. There will be a time when I’ll have a place of my own but not yet. I would miss too much!

I learned:

There is never a dull moment in the Why households! From Na-na’s miscalculations, to Delilah’s announcements, to Leah’s antics, I never know what is going to happen next or when!IMG_0143[1]

Delilah’s teddy bear parade at school.

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Leah is picking tomatoes from the garden.

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James

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Hannah standing at the front door, just as her sister and older girl cousins did.

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Hannah gets to wear the tiara!

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Cassi in her walker

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Ya-ya’s Adventures, Year Two, Episode 3

The summer is long gone and Christmas is on its way. I look back and am amazed about how busy I have been! While Rachel, Mike and the little girls were on vacation, I had the house to myself. The absolute quiet was the most noticeable thing. No talking, laughter, crying, nothing! Even today, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Mike and Rachel are out and I’m here, keeping a watch on the girls while they are sleeping. But, it’s not completely quiet. The monitor showing me that the girls are sleeping is also playing Leah’s sleeping music and Hannah’s white noise. There is always sound, of some kind, here. But, that week, it was nothing. I played music to fill up the quiet.

I invited Aaron’s family over for a dinner. Aaron was working but the rest came, including BJ’s boys. Mary brought her sister, Jaz, too.

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Mary and children enjoying cupcakes on the deck. 

I love my conversations with my grownup kids. Even if they are not my kids by blood, they are by marriage. The grandchildren played in the yard while we had a nice adult conversation. Later that week, I went to Val and Tim’s house and enjoyed an evening there. It is difficult for them to go out because of all the equipment that comes with Cassi so I brought chicken from a local franchise which Jared and Delilah love. Again, it was another lovely evening of grownup conversation. I cherish these times especially because they are rare.

Also, that week, I helped out at the local Epilepsy Walk. I’m not all that keen on walking on a hot summer day so I volunteered to get the lunches ready. We wrapped hotdogs and assembled lunches for over one hundred people. Tim and the entire family were there, with Cassi, to do the walk. Some people who work with Cassi also walked in her name. Val created shirts that we all purchased with the logo, “C. Why We Walk” in purple which is the color for Epilepsy Awareness. It was a worthwhile event.

The Sunday that Rachel and Mike returned, my entire family, my parents, and my Aunt Ginny went to the Grove Reunion. This line of family comes from my mother’s father’s side. My mother’s maiden name was Grove. Many years ago, when I was a child, the Reunion was very large with relatives from Uncle Dan’s, Uncle Ray’s, Aunt Rhoda’s, and my grandfather’s family attending. Then, it dropped to just Uncle Dan and my grandfather’s family along with one of Aunt Rhoda’s grandson’s family. It’s still just those families but we have added another generation so it can be a lot of people again. Uncle Dan and his entire family own many, many acres of land that they farm and raise pigs and chickens. It’s a different way of life from us city people and so fascinating to learn about. Most of them are volunteers in their local fire department so we hear stories about the fires and the rescues they have made.

I also spent time with my parents. Mom really needs the company because Daddy just doesn’t do much talking. We celebrated his 84th birthday in the middle of August. He didn’t know it was his birthday, though. Another time, I took them to a concert at one of the local colleges to see the Army Jazz band. Both of them really enjoyed that. These military concerts are free and display so much amazing talent! There is always a military tribute near the end when the musicians play all the military songs for each branch of the military. Dad was in the Marines. We had to tell him when it was his turn to stand and be recognized because he doesn’t remember the music anymore.

We all were sad to spend the last day of the season at the pool we belong to. I had Delilah with me along with Rachel and family. We were hoping to just enjoy the water as always but the pool management had lots of activities planned for the last day. Neither Delilah or Leah were old enough or agile enough in the water to participate so we just watched the games and guessed who was going to win the races. Hopefully next year, Delilah will be able to take part in something.

All too quickly, summer was over and I was babysitting Leah and baby Hannah on a daily basis. Delilah also came in the morning for breakfast. Then, I put all three in the NanaVan to take Delilah to her bus stop. She is now in all day kindergarten. Just an anecdote about that first few days-Val wanted to talk to Delilah about appropriate touching when she plays on the playground. She was concerned about hitting and pushing. So, she explained all this to Delilah and asked if anyone was touching her in the ways that Val had just explained. Delilah say, “Oh, yes! Trevor kisses me all the time and I like it! We are going to get married!”

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Delilah waiting for her bus on the first day. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I take Delilah to her school and then, Hannah and I take Leah to preschool for the morning. Because Delilah has to be in school by 8:45 and Leah doesn’t have to be in school until 9:20, Leah, Hannah and I sit outside the high school, that has her preschool in it, while we wait. Leah gets to sit in the front seat which delights her to no end. The window goes up and down, the cover to the moonroof opens and shuts, the sunshade goes up and down, the mirror on the sunshade opens and closes and the seat belt clicks shut, then open, then shut, then open. It’s a wonder she isn’t exhausted when it’s time for school to start. I am just watching all, of this activity!

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Leah on the first day of preschool. 

Those travels in the car are long for Hannah, especially. But, she’s so good about it. She plays with a few toys I give her and takes short naps. Seldom does she cry and if she does, it’s only for a few minutes. When Leah is home, she watches TV or plays on my phone for awhile in the morning. Hannah plays on the floor in my little room. When we began our time together at the end of August, Hannah could not even sit up. She did not roll over either. Rachel took her to a specialist because she wasn’t making any sounds but occasional crying and she didn’t look at us when we called her name. Since I have had a hearing loss all my life (discovered in first grade), we aren’t really sure if the heating loss isn’t hereditary. My father’s father also had a loss of hearing. So, Rachel needed to check on Hannah. She passed all the hearing tests they could give a little one who is only six months and recommended that Hannah be retested at a year.

But, the past months have been an incredible growth period for Hannah. Now, she not only rolls over, but she sits herself up, pulls herself up to a stand, can sit back down, and crawls everywhere. She babbles all the time and responds to anyone calling her name. She’ll look at you and then crawl right over.

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Hannah!

She eats table foods by the handfuls and makes the sign language for “more”. If you hold her hands, she wants to walk. She waves “hi” and “goodbye” and shakes her head “no”. It’s a wonder to watch her!

 

 

 

 

 

I learned:

1. I am constantly amazed at God’s creations! Watching Hannah go from a helpless infant that can only suck milk and look at you to what Hannah does today is a true miracle! And every child that is a normal child does these things- all over the planet! Even Cassi with all of her disabilities is working hard at turning over and grabbing things. I’ve watched my children and now, my grandchildren, do through the same things in the same order pretty much the same time of their life.

2. My children and their families make me proud. I listen to them talk and I think, “That’s the little boy who loved trains, or that’s the little girl who wanted to be so independent and he was the little boy who learned so fast, the school put him in a progressive class with grades two to five all together. And, I look at their spouses and remember how different they are from the first day I met them. And all of this is good according to God’s timing.

Ya-Ya’s Adventures, Year Two, Episode 2

Some of the family celebrated Cassi’s second birthday in July. We celebrated the advances that Cassi has made but we were also very aware of the setbacks from the past year.

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Happy second birthday, Cassi!

Val and Tim have gone through NINE nurses in this year. Only two were true gems – people who truly cared about Cassi as a person. The others either lasted a few days or weeks. After talking with someone in Maxim, the nursing agency, we sort of figured out that the nurses expect a child who is barely mobile and not at all cognizant. But, Cassi WANTS to be mobile. She is frustrated when all the nurses do is let her lay on the floor (on her mat) or in her swing. She wants to do things!

Cassi has an array of toys that challenge her mind and senses. She loves to sit up in her wheelchair and play with them. She likes to be in her stander or her walker. Cassi in her walker with a therapist.

 She loves being outside and she throughly enjoys the water at the pool. Her little legs go a mile a minute!

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Swinging feels so free!

This year, she knew the party was for her and her smile made us all happy. She beamed while we sang “Happy Birthday” and beamed as Mom and Dad opened her birthday gifts. She received a red balloon (red is her favorite color) that she held in one hand and pulled it up and down all the while bopping her head against it. She knew what she was doing. It was her way to connect with the balloon since she doesn’t have full vision and can’t grasp it. She knew all of us. When I stood by her and rubbed her back, I called her “Cassi-girl” as I always do. She turned her head towards me and showed her Cassi grin while reaching to touch my face. When Rachel calls to her, she makes a sound that she always does just for Rachel, sort of an “aaahhh”, because Rachel always makes that sound too.

The two nurses that worked well both left. The first had previously applied for a government job and did not hear about it until she was with Cassi for a few weeks. She thought she wasn’t going to get it but she did. She was sad when she left and keeps in touch often. The second nurse that was great was a male nurse, who served several tours in Afghanistan. One day, he just quit. He said his PTSD was getting worse with Cassi’s crying.

Cassi has many problems that interfere with her quality of life. There are two big ones – the seizures and the ability to absorb her nutrients into her body. They go hand in hand. The g-tube puts the food/nutrients into her but, sometimes, they pass straight through. This is called “dumping” and is very awful diarrhea that goes everywhere. Because of this “dumping”, not all of her seizure meds are actually absorbed. So, her seizures continue. Cassi is on the maximum dose of two seizure meds but the seizures do not stop. She is also very vulnerable to germs. Nearly every time she gets sick (this winter was bad), she lands in the hospital with throwing up and frequent seizures. She has tests after tests with changes to the way she takes in nutrients or the nutrients themselves but nothing, so far, has been successful. Some days/weeks are really bad and she cries continuously but other times, she is such a brave and happy little girl.

All I can do is keep praying for all of them. I know that Val and Tim need to feel God’s power and comfort so they can keep being strong but I’m never sure what to pray about for Cassi. There are so many things. I just ask God to do what He knows best.

Vacations were much different this year than last. Val and Tim went on their own and so did Rachel and Mike. They even went to different places at different times. I did not go with either of the families so I created a vacation of my own. I have a friend, Holly, from elementary school, believe it or not. I have been keeping in touch with her all these years. She moved away from the area when we were in sixth grade but I traveled by bus to visit her many summers or we met at a summer camp. When she married, she moved to many different states but came back to visit with her family here. We always made some time to meet, even if it was only for a few hours. She moved farther away and most of her family did too, so we didn’t meet for many years. But, we always wrote many-page letters to each other at least twice a year.

In 2008, I flew to North Carolina to meet her for a week. It was such a magical time. I hadn’t flown since my honeymoon in 1975 and I couldn’t count that as actually flying since everything has changed about security since 2001. A few years later, she and her husband moved to Las Vegas, so this summer, I decided to visit her again.

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Welcome to Las Vegas!

This required  a change of planes on the way down and an overnight flight home three days later. I found out I LOVE flying! The taking off is so thrilling – that thrust of the engines that pushes you back in your seat and the moment that you see the plane leave the earth- what a rush! Landing is a bit stressful – that earth comes up SO fast! Too bad it’s so expensive to fly anywhere because I’d fly all over the United States. I was frustrated that I could not sleep on the plane like I hoped so I’m not too sure how I’ll do with a flight across the ocean. It was a wonderful to see Holly again. We went to see a Cirque du Soleil show and a made trip to the Hoover Dam. IMG_1801I did not do ANY gambling. I just could not take my hard-earned dollars and let a machine gobble them up knowing that I would never see that money again. And I wouldn’t enjoy the time while it disappeared. What do I know of gambling? I don’t even play the lottery for the same reason! I certainly didn’t mind spending my money on good food and great places to site-see. Hoover Dam was totally awesome. I am an info-junky so I loved the tour and the tour-guide’s talk in the power plant. I read every sign on the walls. We walked up to the bridge over the Colorado River to see the dam from high up and I straddled both Nevada and Arizona on the walkway. IMG_1803The hardest thing to see, and I never got used to in Nevada, was the lack of green anything. The land is brown, brown, and more brown.

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Colorado River

The houses are all stucco and painted very light colors. Greenery is palm trees and cacti. Too barren for me. I was glad to see the lush lawn and summer flowers of my own home when I returned.

Holly, and her husband, Dan, are discussing retirement in the next year. They plan to leave Las Vegas and move back east, maybe buy a travel trailer and move around the country. I hope to catch up with them in the future but I don’t ever plan to go back to Las Vegas. Once is enough.

I learned:

  1. We just never know where life will take Cassi. She has had so many improvements since her first birthday. I know she is in God’s hands. I just wish I knew what His plans were for her.
  2. It still amazes me that Holly and I can still pick up as good friends after all these years. We are so different! She and Dan returned from a bike ride on Tuesday morning because it was raining. Dan said Holly was giving him a hard time because he wimped out and only rode 8 miles! I struggle to walk up the street and back. I do not like exercise, unfortunately. She was never afraid to do things on her own and went many places with just her son and her little car for years. I am just now getting brave enough to try and travel on my own. But, we both loved reading, and that was always our bond. She is an amazing friend.

Ya-ya’s Adventures – Year Two, Episode 1


Now, that a year has passed in Ya-ya’s Adventures, the format will change a bit. Instead of posting about the weeks in my life, I will post adventures as they happen, not in the weeks that they occur. I still have much to tell about my life, my children’s lives, and my grandchildren’s lives, especially updates on Cassidy with her ongoing battles with her disabilities. The adventures may be grouped together as events or they may be posted as one adventure.

The month of June brought about Vacation Bible School again. This is a week long event for children ages three through sixth grade and involves singing, Bible stories, crafts, games and snacks. It is held in my church for five mornings. I have volunteered for this for many years now and it is an exciting time. This year, both Delilah and Leah attended. I would LOVE to have Mary and Aaron’s children come also but I just didn’t have the time or the transportation to include everyone. I would need a mini school bus for that. I tried to convince Aaron to bring them but it was difficult to get them all ready and to come across the city to the church, I suppose.

Delilah remembered the fun she had last year so she was so excited to attend. Leah was a bit reluctant but she got into it once she was there. The teachers and assistants in her class were great at directing her to an activity so I could slip out the door.

The first day, all children decorated megaphones which went along with our theme. At the closing of the morning, over 200 children were seated on the church pews and tooting into their megaphones. It was pure chaos! Pastor Dave tried to corral the noise by having every child toot into their craft for a minute or two at the beginning of the closing exercises. But, the children were loving the noise too much to put them down when he asked! Thank goodness, the noise makers (children AND megaphones) went home at noon. Only the children came back the next day, thank goodness!

On the last day, all the children stand, by classes, on the front steps of the church sanctuary to sing several of the songs we all learned during the week. Each song has a series of very energetic motions to go along with the singing. Leah and Delilah were just a few rows apart so Leah pushed through the other children so she could stand next to her cousin. Parents are invited to attend the closing exercises so Rachel and Val both watched their children be as cute as they could be – together and Delilah sang and Leah watched her. It was so sweet to see Leah trying to do the motions just as her big cousin did.

On Father’s Day, I went to visit my parents for the afternoon. My father did not understand what Father’s Day was anymore but he did enjoy my company. Mom says that he is more confused in the evenings. He has asked where his children are, as if we still live with them. And, he has even asked about his brothers that are no longer on this earth. He forgets that he is not a young boy living with his brothers in his parents’ house.

This Fourth of July, America’s birthday, I had a cookout/party for all my children and grandchildren and my parents. I was in my glory with seven of my eight grandchildren all running around together. Jared was on vacation with his father and step-mother as he usually is this time of year and Hannah didn’t actually run since she was only four months old. Val was not there either because it was a working night. After the picnic, Tim, Mary and Aaron and their children went to the community park for fireworks. Rachel’s family stayed home because of the late hour and Cassidy was with a sitter. It was a crazy time because we had an hour to wait until the big event. We got there early to be able to find a decent parking spot and place to put our chairs.IMG_1725 The kids ran around screaming and chasing each other and all the parents were put to the edge of their sanity until the fireworks went off. Mary and Aaron’s crew had never seen fireworks before because of the late hour for the little ones. James yelled to me, “Nana! It keeps making a loud sound!” The next day, Mike set off some small fireworks on the street in front of our house for Leah to enjoy. She was frightened of the popping and screaming and she cried. Better luck next year.

Later that week, Trinity came over to spend the night with Delilah at our house. They just love to be together! IMG_0049Now, Leah is so excited to join her big cousins, even though they are not as excited to have her with them. The next morning, Rachel and I packed lunches and got four little girls ready for the pool. “Moana”, the Disney character, was going to be there to read the children a story. After the story, she sang her theme song and invited all the children in attendance to sing with her. My eyes teared up as my three oldest granddaughters sang the song – word for word- along with Moana.

Leah wearing her lei.

Trinity with Moana

Even three year old Leah knows all the words. After the singing and storytelling, everyone got a lei. We were near the back and when it looked like the adults were going to run out of leis to hand out, Trinity pushed her way to the front to get leis for her, Delilah and Leah. Story time was followed by several hours in the pool. Trinity was just as daring as Delilah, maybe more so even though she has never had much opportunity to go swimming in a large pool such as this. I just stood in the three to four feet of water and watched them chase each other in the pool and continuously jump off the side to make big splashes all over me. When Rachel and I announced it was time to leave, Trinity walked as slowly as she could to the exit. All three girls cried because they didn’t want to leave (and they were very tired) so it was quite noisy in the car!

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I learned:

  1. My church does an excellent job of presenting God’s Word to many children. The weeklong event of Vacation Bible School takes many, many volunteers to make it run smoothly. All of these people, men, women and teens, take time out of their lives to devote to these children, many of whom are not members of our church. God is good indeed and so are His people!
  2. The times with my children and grandchildren are so precious! I cherish each moment we spend together as a family. My heart fills to overflowing as I enjoy my time with them!
  3. The times with my parents are just as precious. I don’t know how long these times can continue since both of my parents are in their mid-eighties, but I’m going to enjoy them every moment we have together!

 

Ya-ya’s Adventures: Weeks 51 – 52

Aaah, Summer!
This post marks the first anniversary of Ya-Ya’s Adventures! What a busy and eventful year!

June marks the “halfway” point of all the spring/summer birthday celebrations. Leah’s birthday was next, on June 10. She was very excited about this birthday. Leah is quite aware of what a birthday means and what happens during a birthday celebration. She was quite excited for her special day and finally turning three years old. Rachel and Mike took her on a day trip to celebrate. Mike’s mother came to the house to watch Hannah because I had a wedding to attend.

My good friend, Kim, from my teaching days, invited me to celebrate the wedding of her daughter, Meredith. I haven’t been to a wedding since Aaron and Mary’s wedding three years ago. I knew Meredith growing up and it is wonderful to see her as a successful young woman. She has completed her pharmacy degree and she and her husband, Joseph, are both completing residencies in a hospital in another state.

Joseph’s father is a minister and he officiated at their wedding in a beautiful chapel in a city nearby. The ceremony was intimate and lovely! The reception was held across the road from the chapel. I had the privilege of sitting at the table with Kim and her husband and the rest of their family. I sat next to Kim’s mother and really enjoyed the evening chatting with this dear lady. I hope I’m as sharp and healthy as she is when I’m in my eighties! It was an enjoyable evening. And I got there and home all by myself (GPS helped).

The next day was Leah’s party. Friends and family gathered outside for the festivities. Leah is totally into princesses so she wanted a Rapunzel party. Her cake was Rapunzel’s face and the cupcake icing was her long hair. Leah and her cousins and friends played on the slides and got thoroughly wet with the sprinkler. I sat with my parents and ex-husband under a tree where it was a bit cooler. The water balloon fight was great fun for Mike, Tim and all the kids! I bought Leah a Rapunzel dress since she loves to dress up. Her third birthday was a great event enjoyed by all.

The following Sunday, I made a move outside of my box again and took a bus to Dover, Delaware to see a NASCAR race. People who “know” me are surprised that I like to watch car racing. I know I don’t fit the “typical” persona of a NASCAR fan but I do enjoy racing. I don’t have a favorite driver, but I do root for several different drivers. I watch the race every weekend from beginning to end. Growing up, my family loved sprint car racing. My parents would take the three of us kids to the local tracks. My mother’s parents followed racing so the tradition went back a few generations. Mom’s sister is die-hard racing fan. She has one favorite driver that she routes for and has memorabilia stored in a special room in her house. On race days, she flies a NASCAR flag from her mailbox. We email back and forth about the race we are watching and it’s lots of fun.

I had never, ever been to a real race. Dover is close enough to make a day trip so I went online several months ago to see what tour buses were available. A gentleman, named Jack, ran sports tours very close to me and had a bus scheduled for Dover. I made my reservation and paid my fee so there was no backing out. It was interesting that Jack emailed me asking if there was one or two people coming. Guess he wasn’t used to scheduling trips for single people, especially women.

When I retired, I made up my mind that I was going to go places and do things that I wanted to do even though I was alone. I go with friends to many places but I like some things they do not, such as classical music and NASCAR racing. If I want to see these things, I must accept the fact that it is okay to go by myself.

The day could not have been more perfect. There was a threat of rain in the forecast at the beginning of the week but by Sunday, the rain chances were down to 20%. It was very sunny but cool. I wasn’t sure what would be comfortable to wear – jeans or shorts. I settled on capris which was perfect. The length kept the sun off the top of my legs yet were cool enough to feel good. Since the race was dedicated to “Autism Speaks”, I bought a t-shirt that said, “I support autism because of my grandson”. I added an “S” to grandson to honor both Jared and Zae. I had a small purse that went across my body so I didn’t have to carry it and carried a small cooler filled with water and a few snacks. I drank all the water during the race plus grabbed another water at lunch. Lunch was a tailgating affair hosted by Jack with a buffet lunch under a canopy by the bus. Even though I drank all that water, which helped with the heat, I did not have to use the bathroom during the race. That was a good thing because my seat was on row 55. The stadium had 60 rows. There was an elevator that brought us to the 30th row but we all had to walk up 25 more rows. I was so out of breath climbing up that I sat down on a seat at row 45 to catch my breath. I just hoped that no one came to claim that seat. There was NO way I was going to climb back down those steps until the race was over!  IMG_1693

The race was so exciting! I was high enough to see the entire track. Turn two was the farthest away and, as luck would have it, that’s where the most wrecks were. My aunt recommended that I listen to MRN, the racing station, so that I would know what was going on but my phone just could not connect to the Internet consistently. So, most of the time, I had no idea what was happening. There was a tower that posted the lap number and the top twenty cars in order but most of the race, the car number in the lead was not one I was familiar with. I know who drives that car now, though.

I sat in turn four which is where the cars start “pushing the petal to the metal” so they are up to speed when they pass under the green flag on the front stretch. The first time that they started upping their speed to the green flag, was so loud and exciting that I just screamed! I wasn’t the only one, of course. I will never forget the fun I had but I’m not sure if I’ll go again. There was way too much walking and climbing for me. It took two days to recuperate when I got home. My poor legs and back! I sent three emails to my aunt detailing all my experiences! She was the only one I knew that would understand the great time I had.
I learned:

  1. This is the second bus trip I have gone on by myself. Last summer, I went to New York. Both times, I had both seats to myself. That may be the norm when you are single but it sure is more comfortable.
  2. God is still taking care of me when I try something new. I was “worried” about several things, such as how hot it would be, what the other people on the bus would be like, and wether I would like the tailgating food. Anything could be off and take away the enjoyment of my trip but all was wonderful. Thanks be to God – again

Ya-ya’s Adventures: Weeks 48-50

Aaah! Spring!

Since Val and I had been to a Paint Nite evening in March, I wanted to go with my other daughter-in-law, Mary. Since she works nights – Monday through Friday, starting at 9PM, it was hard to find a workable time for her schedule plus Aaron works 4PM to close at a restaurant in the city. They rely on her mother and sisters to help with the children, along with Zak, who is Draven’s dad (Draven is BJ’s oldest son-six years old). Once we settled on an evening, the next thing was to decide on a painting that both of us would like to do. With both of those items settled, we set out with water and snacks to Pinot Palette to paint a sunset. It was lots of fun and I love the painting. Mary is not shy to ask lots of questions of our guide. Me, I’m so centered on not bothering anybody, that I seldom ask anything of anyone unless I absolutely need to. But, sitting next to Mary, I benefitted from her questions because they were the same questions that I had.

Mother’s Day and my birthday are always a few days apart which can be expensive for my children. I have always told them to chose one special day or the other to celebrate, not both. They always give me cards for both special days no matter what. Aaron celebrated Mother’s Day by taking Mary’s mother, Mary, BJ, and me to dinner. He even called ahead to make sure they were open and if they had a special Mother’s Day menu. This was a pleasant awakening on my part. Yes, I know he has three children and runs a tight household on a limited budget. But, to actually think ahead and make plans is a pleasant assurance that he REALLY is an adult. I keep thinking he’s that forgetful kid I knew long ago.

My birthday was just two a couple of days later. My parents took me out to dinner on the following Sunday, Tim brought me flowers to plant in my large planters and garden, and Rachel and Mike treated me to a very good homemade dinner. I love their diversity and appreciate their thoughtfulness. Everything was perfect! And the flowers are beautiful!

With Tim’s flowers, I was excited to get the gardens, deck boxes and planters filled again. But, it rained and rained and rained! By the time Memorial Day came, I was so sick of rain and cold. I wanted to get out of slippers and my shawl and go barefoot with shorts and short sleeves. When was that going to happen?

Finally, the rain stopped for a few days, long enough to dry out the gardens so I didn’t plant in mud. I love choosing flowers for the garden. I grab a cart at a local garden store and make my way up and down the aisles trying to decide on what to buy and what color. Since this is our fifth year in this house, you would think it would be easy. But, there are so many wonderful kinds of annuals in a myriad of colors! I have to think of what works in the deck boxes and containers as opposed to the flower garden in the front of the house. I have to think of what flowers need full sun and what flowers need lots of light but little or no direct sun.

Over the years, I have planted enough perennials to fill in most of the garden, including day lilies, roses, black-eyed susans, and coneflowers. I just buy annuals for the front border of the garden, the planters, and the deck boxes. Once I am finished, the garden blooms all through the summer with different flowers. It is most beautiful!


I learned:

  1. It’s nice to “hide” behind someone who is bolder than I am when it comes to getting answers to questions. I get irritated with myself when I have questions and comments but lack the nerve to “bother” the hostess. It’s not that I’m shy but that I don’t want to bother anybody, even though the hostess always tells us that questions are welcomed. When someone else asks the same questions I need answered, I can get answers without making myself uncomfortable.
  2. My children and grandchildren make a point to recognize me on my special days. All the other holidays and gatherings are for other people, usually the children, but Mother’s Day and my birthday are just for me (yes, I make time for MY mother, too). It’s nice when I feel their love.
  3. I never forget that it is by God’s design that the earth is covered with such a broad amount of floral beauty! He didn’t have to go to such lengths to give us such awesome detail. But, He certainly did!

Ya-ya’s Adventures: Week 45-47

Spring!

Rachel and I welcomed the first day of spring by getting free cones at Dairy Queen, a franchised ice cream shop in this area. We picked up Delilah from school and surprised

her with the visit. While we were there, several other children from Delilah’s preschool came with their parents or grandparents. I guess we all had the same idea!  Leah dropped her cone on the ground so I gave her mine. After all, I’m her NaNa, right? A reporter from our local newspaper dropped by and took pictures of the girls. Leah wouldn’t look at him so he “tricked” her by pretending to take the picture one way but took it when she turned her head. Two of my grandchildren had their fifteen minutes of fame as they say. Hannah missed out because she was sleeping in her car seat. She’ll have her turn another day in the future.

The month of April starts the season of birthdays! My mother, Delilah, and Mary finish out April. Rachel starts the month of May with me, Trinity and Aaron finishing the month. There are more in June and July, too. I go to a local card store and buy all the birthday cards at once along with Mother’s Day cards. Last year, I lost the whole envelope of cards. That was money wasted so I  took extra care to keep a watch on those cards this year!

Since my father is slowly losing his mind to dementia, he has forgotten my mother’s birthday. This is sad because he always made a big deal of it. Last year, was the first time he did that and she was so disappointed about it that I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be forgotten again. I could have taken them out to eat but I wanted it to be more intimate plus I wanted dad to enjoy it more. He would, if he was in his own home. I could have purchased something to take but I decided to make the birthday dinner. This is another “outside the box” moment for me. I did not cook dinners when I was married because I worked until five o’clock and my ex-husband worked third-shift and was home to cook. He was very good and he enjoyed it so he continued to be the dinner cook all of our marriage. The downside was that others assumed I couldn’t cook and he did nothing to change their thoughts. When he had a heart attack and I needed to take over, he complained about my cooking constantly instead of encouraging me.

All of this negativity destroyed my confidence so I always felt rather inadequate when it came to preparing meals. When I lived alone, my younger brother, the chef, taught me how to cook several things so that I didn’t exist on frozen box dinners. I wasn’t very confident in my skills to make Mom’s birthday dinner but I was determined. That has become my motto through all of these new things I am trying with retirement. I planned on the menu and made sure I had all the ingredients ready. It was a long day with Rachel working all day and me having Leah and Hannah until Rachel came home. I had to run to the store for groceries that I was going to be out of so I started to prepare the meal rather late. Mike and Rachel were using the grill so I had the oven and stove to myself but we jockeyed for positions in the kitchen as Mike and I prepared our meals in the same very small space. I kept asking Rachel: “The potatoes are to be baked at five hundred degrees but the chicken is to be baked at three-fifty. What temperature should I cook the food? I could not find fresh green beans at the market so I bought frozen. What changes should I make to the recipe?” She gave me advice as I prepare the meal. Add in two little girls who both decided to cry and scream during this time and you can realize the pressure I was under. I used techniques that my therapist taught me whenever I become overly anxious so I was slowing my breathing and sighing to keep everything under control.

Rachel helped me pack the chicken, potatoes, green beans and dessert into the insulated bag and I left for Mom and Dad’s. I called from my car to tell her I was on my way and to heat up the oven to finish the meal. When I arrived, all the food was still hot. I added spaghetti sauce and mozzarella to the chicken. Then, all was ready. I feared that the chicken would be dry and the beans would be limp, but it was all delicious!  I triumphed again!  Who-hoo!  My mother was so delighted and her birthday was celebrated again!

Hannah-2 monthsHannah is growing so much. She has discovered her hands and works so hard to get them into her mouth. She loves to lie on her playmat and take swings at the toys attached to the bar over her head. I watch her practice over and over. She is still an easy baby, with crying mostly for needs. She takes a bottle of mommy’s milk with delight. Delilah and Leah say she is SO CUTE!

Leah and Hannah

My friend, Peggy, and I went to another musical at our city’s performance center. The musical was Rent, a story set in New York in the nineteen-eighties. The main theme is about young adults struggling to live in New York, hunting for jobs and relationships while having AIDS. My brother, Quinn, loved this movie because this was his life, not in New York, but in Baltimore. He, too, had many good friends that died of AIDS, some by suicide before the disease could destroy their dignity. His deep depressions stemmed from survivor guilt – why did he never contract the disease while so many did? He told me that he took the same risks as those around him. But, his alcoholism and drug use helped cause his early death in 2009 even though he actually died of pneumonia brought on by bronchitis. I think of him so often because he was my best friend and helped ME through some very bad times. I used two of the recipes he taught me when I created Mom’s birthday dinner. That’s the best way to honor him.

The hardest days of babysitting are when I have all three girls all day. Two keep me busy because there are very few minutes of downtime. With three, the day is crazy!  No matter who I am trying to care for, there two more that want my attention, too. I asked Mom and Hannahmy parents to come over to help. They arrived around ten-thirty, eager to be useful. I gave Hannah to Mom and I took the older girls to the kitchen table to play some games and do a puzzle. Mom got to love on Hannah without interruption. They left right after lunch, when Leah went down for her nap. This was very helpful and we plan to do it again every time I have all three, which is every Tuesday in May.

My 2011 iMac desktop computer had a hard drive going bad. I knew that because I had run tests on it to find out why it was all wonky. I took it to Best Buy instead of the Apple Store because it was closer. Best Buy sells all types of electronics and just recently started a repair service for Apple products. They had it two weeks. At the end of the first week, I got a phone call asking for approval of the estimate- $400. I was disappointed that it was higher than I expected but it IS an Apple and the cost to replace it was more than twice that which would have been for a laptop, not a desktop. The gentleman on the phone also told me that the LCD panel was damaged in shipment and had to be replaced. So, all that weekend, I worried that the company was going to try to charge me for that.

When, I went in to pick it up, I asked if I was being charged for the LCD panel and the representative, Chris, assured me I was not. Then I said I was afraid that the high price for the hard drive included that price for the LCD panel. He looked online and said “there’s a zero balance”. I said that it was probably already charged to the card on file. He excused himself and went into the back and came out with his boss, Ryan.

Here’s the kicker- Chris, with his boss standing there, told me that I my bill WAS zero! Since the LCD was damaged, not by me, they were apologizing by paying for the entire bill! Who-hoo!!!!

In this day and age, where the customer is NOT always right, it was great to be a recipient of good business practices!  Thank you, Best Buy!

My Miss D, as I call Delilah asked me last September how long it was until her birthday so she could be five years old. I told her that she needed a complete year to learn how to be four before she could be ready to be five. We went over the holidays between September and her birthday in April. As each holiday slipped by, we would change all of my room decorations and door wreaths to match the new holiday. Then, we would eagerly wait for the next holiday. As the year moved on, Delilah learned how to count to one hundred and to recognize and write all of her letters. She is ready to learn to read and we are working on that. When Easter passed by, she could see her name on my calendar for her birthday. The days grew closer and closer and then, it was finally here! Val and Tim took her to the Butterfly Museum to celebrate the day. I recorded a message for her on Facebook.

The following Friday, we all celebrated with pizza, ice cream and cupcakes in an intimate family gathering. She had asked me for her own princess Polly Pocket dolls for a birthday present. Leah received them for Christmas. To my consternation, the dolls have been discontinued!  So, I looked on eBay and many people had them for sale – for sixty dollars and up! Single dolls were being sold for twenty dollars each. I hunted and found an older set of five princess and two dresses apiece for thirty dollars and I bought it outright. I also found a very large collection of Polly Pocket princess dolls with their castles and villains. I placed a bid on that for twenty-nine dollars but I lost out. The set finally went for one hundred and twenty-five dollars. It was way over MY budget. Val gave me a list of other gifts she wanted and I chose a game. I love Delilah’s joy when something special is happening. We sang and enjoyed the food and she opened her presents. She was delighted with all of her presents, including mine. But, her most special present was a two-wheeler bike from her parents!

I learned:

  1. Time with my parents is very precious. They ARE in their early eighties. Every chance I can spend with them is a very special time. I’m grateful that they can be here to help me with the three girls. It gives them more chances to be around my family. And that is so, very, very good.
  2. I CAN conquer my anxieties! Even through preparing my dinner with Rachel’s family present with all their activity and noise, I kept myself calm and collected and got the meal accomplished. I give thanks to God for helping me, also!
  3. The year really keeps moving on. It was much easier without teaching and with my grandgirls around. Before I really could think about it, spring and nicer weather was here. I thank God for that, too!

Ya-ya’s Adventures: Weeks 38-44

Rachel had six weeks of maternity leave and Delilah was mostly on her week-off schedules with mommy having her no-work days so I had much time to myself and few adventures to write about. My life actually became quietly routine. Three weeks ago, Rachel returned to work and Hannah became my baby during the day. I had Leah all day for two days the first two weeks and Delilah only three days of those weeks since the Easter holiday occurred during this time. In addition, Rachel only worked half days. This was an adjustment with Hannah being an infant. It was last summer with Cassi since I had to deal with bottles, burping, and sleepy times. 

I’ve had Leah and Hannah together several times but only one day with all three. That day was very difficult. But, it was only frustrating for three hours as Delilah slept late and Leah played quietly by me while I attended to Hannah. Once Delilah was awake and fed breakfast, the battle began. I can’t begin to tell you how often I heard, “You’re not the boss of me!” and that was from BOTH girls. They fought over toys and who was allowed to do what. Once, they were pushing and shoving each other which should have called for a time out but I didn’t want to deal with the crying and tantrums during time out so I got the girls up to the table for a craft.

Mugs of chocolate

There was a cute winter craft I had planned for our snow day but Tim kept Delilah home that day and I did not get to do it. I traced a picture of a mug onto cereal box sides and cut them out. The girls were to paint the mugs with paints so I had plenty of newspaper down. I gave Leah paint dabbers of blue and red while Delilah got the paintbrush and paints. The girls loved it but I had to hold Hannah most of the time because she was fussy so I was stressed because sleeves were dragging through the paint and there was mess everywhere. 

For the top of the mug, where the hot chocolate would be, I poured a line of chocolate syrup and the girls spread it around. Rachel came home at that moment and saw all the girls and I working on the craft with Hannah sleeping on my shoulder. The scene must gave looked so calm and controlled! But, I assured her that looks were deceiving and filled her in on my crazy morning. She and I agreed that it would get better as all settled into a new routine.

The second week was Holy Week so I had Leah and Hannah on Monday and just Hannah on Tuesday through Thursday. I was to have Delilah on Thursday but Cassidy was having problems with her g-tube and Val had to take her to the specialists to figure out what to do. Val had no sleep all day Wednesday with Cassi’s appointments so she did not go to work that night. This meant that Delilah would stay home with her on Thursday and home with daddy on Good Friday since Tim had the day off. By the end of this week, I had Hannah and a routine set in place. Two of those days, I took her for a walk in her stroller. She loved it!

My church had a Maundy Thursday service in the evening. Our new eduction director gave the message. I liked it very much. He’s about twenty-five years old so this is his very first appointment. He’s doing a very good job of adding elective Bible classes to our schedule in the evenings and during Sundays. I like his vision of Christian growth for children and adults. 

Holy Week

When I attend a church service, with a sermon, I take notes on my iPad. Before iPads, I wrote down my notes. I have been keeping notes of sermons for several decades. My bookshelf is lined with ring binders of notes from all the messages I have heard over the years. I started this during college when I realized I had a knack for writing down notes. As I listen, I zone into summarizing the message. It helps me remember the message because I am attentive throughout. I have also gone back through my notes in subsequent weeks to refresh my memory of the message. I truly feel that since ministers spend so much time preparing these messages, that I should honor their work by making it more permanent than just within my memory. 

Good Friday’s service involved all of our ministerial staff. Between reading passages of Jesus’ arrest and cruxifixction and music from our contemporary team and the choir, several of the staff did soliloquies from the perspective of Judah, Mary Magdalene, and Peter. It was very moving to me and certainly put me in the correct mood for Easter. They do such a marvelous job of depicting the characters and getting their message across. 

There were twenty-nine relatives and friends at our Easter celebration. We used the same facility as we have for this past Thanksgiving and two Easters past. We all marveled about how lovely the weather has been for every event. This is ideal since the children have a lovely playground to use. Every grandchild but Jared was there, including BJ’s two boys, Draven and Eziah. My cousin, Matthew, gravitated to Cassi. His career as a rehab nurse gives him a different perspective than the rest of us and he loves to hold her. James latches onto my other nephew, a Ben, and my brother has a special rapport with Zae and all his autistic tendencies. Zae was worried that bugs were gooing to bite him so my brother “attacked” all those nasty bugs before they could get near Zae. Rachel only held Hannah to breastfeed her. The rest of the day, she was passed around from relative to relative and loved. Trinity, Delilah, and Leah spent the day playing together, mostly by running and screaming. We had a gigantic egg hunt for the seven that understood what it was all about. The men in the family hid the eggs while we were cleaning up from dinner. I loved the excitement on the children’s faces as they lined up by the door to the outside, baskets in hand. As always, my mind went back to my brothers and I waiting in anticipation to hunt eggs as little children and then, watching my children as they did the same. Now, it’s my grandchildren’s turn and the eagerness is just as heightened by the wait by the door as it was for those generations past. 


I was delighted to put my new van to use! Rather than have Aaron, Mary, and the five children using his very beat up van to travel to the Easter celebration, I took them all in my van. Poor Aaron had to climb all around the back to get the car seats hooked up correctly, and then to get three of the boys settled in those car seats. Trinity and Eziah took the middle with Aaron in the front with me. Mary took BJ’s car with all the supplies and food. This was the first time I had the Odyssey completely filled and it worked very well! The NanaVan is going to be very useful indeed!

I learned:

  1. Oh, the sweetness of a baby! Sure, there’s poop and spit up, and uncontrolled crying, but it doesn’t take much to calm Hannah. And, oh my, she is such a snuggle-bunny! She loves to nestle in to the side of my neck and drift off to sleep. So angelic! I’m liking this babysitting gig even more. 
  2. I feel like a queen driving the NanaVan around. All those specialties from the moonroof, to the ability to link my phone, plus climate control within this automobile make me feel very pampered. Imagine! My phone rings and my car answers it! All I have to do is talk. 
  3. Holy Week and Easter will always be a wonderful time to take stock of my dedication to God and get myself on the right track if I’ve been drifting. And being surrounded by family and grandchildren recharges my batteries.

Ya-ya’s Adventures: Weeks 36 and 37

Leah, Hannah and an Odyssey

Living with Leah and baby Hannah has been blessing with a little bit of downside… I may be reading or working on my cross-stitch or doing some volunteer work for my church but to Leah, my door is always open,  even if its closed. I will hear her coming before she gets to my door because she always walks with a purpose, clump, clump, clump come her feet to my door. The handle slowly turns (unless she is running away from Mommy and Daddy), and there she is!

Sometimes, it is to give me a baby doll to hold or pretend food to eat. Often, it is to pick out books to read together. When she crawls on my lap, she says, “Going up!” because I push the button to raise the foot rest, and her. All my grandkiddos love to do that!

I have two bins of books in my room that Leah can chose from, the round bin on the stand holds all the board books that she loves so much. The square bin on the floor has the hardbound and paper copies of books that are near and dear to me. Many of the board books are from an author by the name of Sandra Boynton. Leah’s most favorite is Red Hat, Green Hat. In the story about colors, all the animals put on different colors of clothing such as pants, shirts, hats, coats, and socks. All, but the turkey. It puts on clothing in silly ways – pants on its head, coat on its face, shirt upside down, etc. In the end, he puts everything on correctly – and jumps into the pool! Leah loved the book from the first day we read it together but I did not realize how well she got the humor until, when she began to talk, she put her socks on her hands and told me, “I be like turkey!” From then on, everything she did in a silly way, was being like turkey. I was so delighted by this love of the book, that I went on Sandra Boynton’s website and wrote her fan email. I even got a reply thanking me for enjoying the books. I have archived this email to keep forever. I had never written fan mail before and my first was to a children’s author!

It is so much fun to read Where the Wild Things Are together. We yell our terrible roars, roll our terrible eyes, gnash our terrible teeth and show our terrible claws together. As we read, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, she tells me what the mouse is going to ask for next. Just an extra aside to this… Delilah loves this book, too. Being four years old, she is more aware of behaviors. One day, after our “hundredth” time of reading the book, she says, “That mouse wants EVERYTHING!”

If Leah is escaping Mommy or Daddy, usually to avoid bed, my door opens with a BLAM!!! And, she jumps on my lap yelling, “Save me! Save me!” No matter how busy I am or how much I would rather be alone, I can’t turn Leah down. How would she feel if she was rejected by her Nana? That’s a thought I don’t want to explore.

Leah is still not potty trained which is a great consternation to her parents. And its not because she doesn’t know how, its because she refuses! Leah will tell us immediately when she has peed or pooped in her diaper. She doesn’t mind lying on the changing table with her legs hanging over the side. But, she does mind us telling her that she should be using the potty. Yesterday, she ran into the bathroom while her mother was showering and pulled back the curtain to tell her mom that she pooped. Mommy got excited and asked, “In the potty?” Leah actually rolled her eyes and sighed and said, “No Mom, IN my diaper!” She has even told us that she doesn’t want to hear about the potty. She says, “Don’t talk to me about that!” and “Don’t say that word!”

I love how Leah talks. She grasped the idea of being polite very easily and now will say, “Thanks, Mom!” when she is given something she asked for. She can easily carry a conversation anytime and use very complex sentences but she has a few sounds she can not make. Fingers is pronounced with a “D” such as my “dingers” have dip on them! She will tell us that she can’t “yait” instead of “wait.” So cute! Daddy also introduced her to movies and now she knows what a princess is. Her favorite is, of course, Frozen. When she first watched it, she would find a long blanket and wrap it around her “like Elsa.” I got her a dress-up Elsa dress for Christmas and she wears that constantly. She also got accessories from Santa but she won’t wear her tiara with her Elsa dress because Elsa does not wear a tiara.

This morning, her daddy gave her “Oh-ohs” for breakfast. As he put them away, he asks her if he was allowed to eat some. At first, she said they were HER Oh-ohs, but then said he could have a tiny bit. She demonstrated with two fingers close together. When he popped a few in his mouth, she said, “That’s all! Put them away – now!” It’s so funny to see this little two-year-old giving orders to her father.

Rachel is a vegetarian so when Leah started to eat table foods, she ate mostly vegetables and fish. From early on, she has always hated chicken. Her mom tried to trick her into trying it by putting chicken in a sauce but in one bite, Leah yelled, “This is chicken! I don’t like chicken!”  So, there is no fooling her. Leah had no processed foods – mostly fresh or made from scratch but when her daddy moved into the house, she was introduced to hotdogs and desserts. Hotdogs have now become her favorite. And dips! Everything HAS to have a dip with it – ketchup, mustard, especially mayonnaise. She would put that on everything if allowed. And, she loves dips for her pancakes such as blueberry syrup. Mike makes that with fresh blueberries and Leah loves it.

And the tantrums!  Oh such drama from such a little child!  If someone tells her, “no”, down on the floor she goes with her arms stretched over her head and her legs spread-img_0802eagled! Such wailing and screaming! If someone suggests something that is to her liking, she quickly jumps up and all is good again! Seeing her do these theatrics brings back memories of another little girl, several decades ago, doing the same thing in my living room! Like mother, like daughter, shall we say?

Its wonderful having an infant in the house again. Hannah is only three weeks old so she is is pretty new to the goings on in this world. She is staying awake for longer periods of time and stares into your face when you look at her. She can easily be comforted by holding her on my shoulder, jiggling her and patting her bottom. She prefers to lie on her side and wiggles until she gets that way. I keep forgetting to put her on her side or back when I put her in the bassinet. In MY day with infants, we were not to put a baby on her or his back because the little one could burp img_0801and aspirate on the spit up milk. Now that the experts have researched SIDS, my children’s generation is told to put a baby on his/her back to sleep until the infant can roll over. I have done it twice now, automatically putting Hannah belly down. I have to override the “old way to care for infants” tape that runs in my head with the new way. I don’t want Rachel to worry about Hannah when she returns to work in April and Hannah is in my charge.

I watch Rachel and Mike learning how to manage two little girls throughout the day – and throughout the night. Its a difficult process at times. Hannah is awake often to breastfeed so Rachel gets up with her and feeds her in the rocker in the room. Because Leah is still pursued by those monsters and dinosaurs that try to eat her while she sleeps, she is waking up and crying for Mommy, too. Daddy settles her most nights but sometimes, she just won’t go back into the crib (she has been promised her big girl bed when she uses the potty) so Rachel lies down with her on the bed in Leah’s room to help her go back to sleep. Then, Mike has to come and get Rachel to feed Hannah. Neither are getting a full nights sleep right now.

Leah has become a picky eater and often refuses dinner. The rule is that she doesn’t have to eat but she must sit in her seat until everyone is finished eating and the table has been cleared. This causes much crying as Leah whines and bargains to get down from the table. Several nights, Hannah is crying, too. I’ve “been there, done that” and I eat quickly and escape to my room. The memory of two crying children at one time is very vivid in my memories of thirty some years ago. That’s when I become selfish. There are perks to being the Nana and not the parent and I don’t feel guilty claiming them.

Know what puts a lump in my throat?  Seeing my two sons melt like butter when they saw Hannah!  Tim rushed to the sink to wash his hands so he could hold her. When did my two ornery boys turn into such loving parents? I’ll never forget that feeling I had when I saw them with their sister’s newborn.

When Rachel returns to work, there are times when I will need to transport three children to various places. My blue Saturn has room for only two car seats. Not even a booster fits in the backseat with the two car seats. Plus, I have eight grandchildren! I want to be able to pick up any of them whenever needed. So, I needed a new car – preferably, something with three rows. Now, I have said before how nervous I am while driving on the highway, but driving anywhere makes me nervous. Adding several more feet of automobile to my driving was giving me concern but I was determined to try out a van.

Like any good secondary librarian, I did my research and found that there are three vans at the top of the list for ease of driving, safety and personal comforts. I don’t plan to give this car up for ten years or more so I wanted something I would really LIKE driving – one that had some nice bells and whistles to it. I am also rather shy and going out to negotiate with a car dealer about something so important was causing some anxiety. But, now that Rachel is home for her girls and the week for babysitting Delilah was only on Friday, I knew I that this was the best time to try out cars. Aaron, my youngest, agreed to go with me. I wanted someone who knew car mechanics but also wanted a second set of ears to hear what the dealer has to say.

One Tuesday morning during these weeks, I picked up Aaron and went to the local Honda dealer. I was introduced to Tom Smith and I explained my two agendas – I needed a three-row automobile to be able to transport my grandchildren and I was retired so this car was to last for awhile. I needed it to be as new as I could afford but not as expensive as a 2017 would be, it had to have as many safety features as I could get for my money and for my own pleasure, I wanted some nice things such as heated seats, lots of technology so my phone would hook up to it, automatic doors and locks, and anything else I could cram into the price. My secret wish was that it would be a pretty color such as deep blue or red. And, I always wanted a moonroof. The three of us walked to the vans and Tom introduced me to six different years, mileages, prices, safety devices and perks. There was a red one and a nice blue one but the best one was a 2016 with only 9000 miles on it. It had a backup camera and a right side camera. It had heated leather seats. My phone would Bluetooth to it. It was silver. But, with all these other nice things I wanted, silver didn’t sound so bad.

Then, it was time to test drive it. I was very nervous but the van drove so smoothly that there was no learning curve from my little Saturn to this big Odyssey. I drove right through the city and it seemed easier than my Saturn. The side camera was very handy to use if I felt I needed it. It also came on when I put my right turn signal on. The car was so clean and new! NO scratches or dings. NO stained carpet or seats! It was beautiful and I was done. This was my car. I sent a text to Rachel and she reminded me that I had planned to try out all three of the ones I had researched. But, I knew I didn’t need to, especially when we negotiated installing a remote start for $100. With the money I had to put down plus my old 2003 Saturn, I could afford the payments so, later that afternoon, I signed and signed and signed and signed so I could drive it off the lot and home.

I drove it off the lot, and back to Aaron’s house. He had not been with me for the signing and I wanted him, and Mary, to see it!  I parked and froze in panic!  I didn’t know how to turn it off! There was no key!  I had to text Aaron and Mary to come out and show me what to do.  I can’t believe myself sometimes!

It was dark when I parked it at home so I took the manual with me to learn all about my car. Being a reader and a lover of details, I read that manual from cover to cover, highlighting and “sticky noting” pages as I went. There were so many things in the manual that asterisked with a “if equipped” so I was excited to check everything out to find all the perks I did have. The next morning, I had an appointment, so I left before the family came downstairs. Once, I returned home, I stayed in the van, pairing my phone and setting my radio channels. I learned that not only did I have keyless entry, I also had push- button start and climate control!  I set the climate temperature for 70 degrees and the car heats or cools itself until it reaches that temperature.  No more fiddling with the cefba145-d337-41d9-9be1-0cec1b40ee69temperature controls and the fan!

My seat had touch controls to move it up, down, and back or front. The side windows have window curtains to pull down to keep out the sun. While I was setting everything to my liking, my phone rang – through the van speakers! The steering wheel had a button which I pushed to answer Rachel. She was wondering where I was. Since I was gone from my rooms and my van was parked on the street, she had this thought that I had fallen down the basement steps!

There is a DVD player in the van, too, but my trips from preschool, daycare and church take less than fifteen minutes – hardly time to use it – but it’s nice to have, in case. When everything was set up to my liking, I got out and locked my new car. As I walked up the driveway, I was looking over the sheet of things the van was equipped with to make sure I had learned how to control everything. It’s the paper that is stuck to the side window of every car for sale on a car lot. Reading through the list, I saw MOONROOF. I stopped and turned around to look – yes, my new van had a moonroof!  The dealer didn’t say anything and I just never noticed it with all the other things to discover! I ran back to the van, climbed back in – and played with the MOONROOF!!!l

I learned:

  1. Edna St. Vincent Millay said, in one of her poems, “Oh, world, I can not hold thee close enough!.” That is how I feel so often. There is such a joy, when I am spending time with my grandchildren, that overcomes me so that it takes my breath away. All I can really do is thank God for all my blessings.
  2. There are times when Mike comes home with something for Leah. He calls out, “Leah, I have a surprise for you! There is a great emphasis on surprise and its drawn out like surrr-prissse!  It is always something that will give Leah great delight. God must have been saying the same thing when I read over that equipment sheet and saw I had a moonroof. I can hear Him say, “Debra, I have a surrrrprisse! for you!  What an awesome God!

Ya-ya’s Adventures, Week 34 and 35

Sicknesses And a Wonderful Surprise!

These past weeks has hit us hard with illnesses. I had bronchitis in December and I’ve been healthy ever since but the rest of my family hasn’t. A stomach virus has been going around and Aaron’s family has been hit the hardest. They keep passing it around and around with all five kiddos getting it, one after another. Mary and Aaron got it too, several times. Both of them work so hard and get very little sleep so they are so vulnerable to any bad germs they encounter. Once they get it, it lingers far longer than other people.  Little James was so ill, they took him to the emergency room for treatment. His cough lasted for weeks. It didn’t matter if Aaron or Mary were sick, they still had to clean up after the children. Illness was so bad in Trinity’s school, that they shut down on a Friday so all could stay home to recuperate. Monday was  a holiday so everyone got a four day vacation. I’m sure the custodians were there giving the school a good disinfecting.

Jared got pneumonia. Both Cassi and Delilah had urinary tract infections. Then, just after getting over that illness, Delilah woke up in the middle of a night and couldn’t breathe. Val and Tim were concerned enough to call an ambulance. She had croup. Breathing treatments and steroids were administered but croup can take two weeks to go away. At my house, she had her very own box of tissues and a trash can to throw them in. She was out of sorts with everyone she met because she felt so miserable. After all that, Cassi caught the stomach bug and landed in the hospital. She can’t afford to lose calories plus throwing up meant that her medication wasn’t staying down. Seizures started again but all the doctors and nurses in pediatrics know her well and know just what to do. She was in for three days and is now recuperating at home. The new nurse is there to care for her which helps Val.

Leah ran a fever and complained that her ear hurt so, off to Urgent Care she went (of course it was late at night). She was on antibiotics for two weeks. Leah’s daddy fought sinus problems but luckily all else stayed away. I really feel for my own children as parents. Life is difficult enough without having an illness dragging you down. Come on spring!  We need to have windows open and the great outdoors and sunshine to play in!

Back in the summer, while we were our vacation, I received a wonderful surprise when all nine of us went out to a nice seafood restaurant together. After we ordered and were waiting for our food, I overheard Val said to Rachel, “Really? It’s true?”  I had no idea what they were talking about, even when Leah stood up on her chair to show all of us her “Promoted to Big Sister!” shirt.  The thought of Rachel being pregnant was so far from my mind that I was thinking to myself that Leah’s shirt was an odd consignment store purchase. Why would Rachel, or anyone, pick up a shirt like that just to wear on their child?  Then, I looked at Rachel and she was nodding her head!  It was true! I was going to have my eighth grandchild in February!  In October, we learned that Rachel and Mike were going to have another girl. Because this was the second year of Rachel’s new job, she hadn’t accrued enough sick time to be able to take off more than six weeks, let alone any time before the baby came. This pregnancy was a bit different than being pregnant with Leah. Rachel got bigger even though she gained less weight. This little one was more active than Leah with shooting pains running down Rachel’s hip and leg. But, she bravely persevered every day at work and collapsed on the sofa when she came home. Sometimes, she had enough energy to make evening meals but Mike filled in when she couldn’t.

I had no desire to see another child being born so I was glad to take care of Leah when the time came. The experience of birth had been awesome to see but I was a bit upset seeing my daughter in so much pain. Rachel’s due date was February 12, so she had an appointment on the 10th to be checked out. She came home all excited because the nurse practitioner said she would probably go into labor that night or sometime over the weekend. Within an hour or so, Rachel knew that things were starting to move along and she began to keep track of her contractions. They fed Leah, played with her and then put her to bed for the night. Rachel hooked up the baby monitor in my bedroom because I sleep in a bedroom on the first floor, below Leah. By 9:30, contractions were becoming more intense so she contacted Val and Tracy, Rachel’s best friend, to be ready to get to the hospital soon, and then, off to the hospital Mike and Rachel went. The nurse practitioner checked her in emergency and said that Rachel needed to be moved to maternity immediately. Rachel texted Val and Tracy to get there as soon as possible!  I was in on the group text so I asked for updates from someone as things progressed. Both Val and Tracy got there at 11:30. Tracy went to Rachel’s other side to help with contractions while Val grabbed Rachel’s good camera and began taking pictures. By 11:50, Tracy texted me that Rachel was pushing and at 12:05 Saturday morning, the little girl was born!

Tracy and Val stayed another half hour and then went out to an all night diner to grab some thing to eat. They were too wired up to go home!  I went to bed right after I got the picture of the new little one. At 4:00 in the morning, I heard Leah screaming for mommy and daddy. She was having a nightmare which has become a frequent occurrence. It always the same nightmare, a dinosaur or a monster is in the corner of her crib and attempting to eat her. The monitor has a speaker on it so, after a couple of tries to get the thing working, I managed to call into it and tell Leah that Nana was coming. I had to go to the bathroom, and then get my robe on, then climb the steps to her room. She grabbed me and picked up her feet because she wanted out of that crib. I sat on the rocker with her and showed her the picture of her baby sister and I told her all about the exciting evening after she went to sleep. This quieted the crying immediately. She was still frightened after several minutes so I had her walk downstairs and we sat in my room on my comfy lounge chair. I thought I could sleep with her like that but it was not going to happen. While I was sitting and holding Leah, Rachel texted me!  She knew I would get the text in the morning when I woke up but she didn’t know I was awake then!  We had a lovely conversation – just mother and daughter.

I congratulated her and Mike and asked about the baby. She was seven pounds, 9.9 ounces and nineteen inches long. She had lots of black hair and was already breastfeeding well. Finally, I asked the name. Rachel and Mike would not even give us a hint of what the name was going to be. They didn’t tell us for Leah until after she was born and we had all gone home. All through the pregnancy, I called the little one “baby ocho” since it was my eighth grandchild. Rachel texted back, “Hannah Grace.”  What a beautiful name!

By this time, Leah was ready to go back to sleep and she asked to go back to her own bed. When we both work up, later that morning, Leah and I went to meet my parents for breakfast. Rachel has met my parents for breakfast on Saturday mornings for years. Me showing up with Leah meant the baby was born so I showed them the picture and told them all about the birth. Leah seemed excited and proudly told everyone who walked by that she was now a big sister. This is a small restaurant with many people like Mom and Dad that are regulars. They were all excited, too. After breakfast, Mom, Dad, Leah and I all went over to the hospital to meet baby Hannah. It was such a wonderful thing to see Leah meet her baby sister for the first time!

I was expecting the family to return home the next day but Hannah developed an infection and had to receive several rounds of antibiotics. Since the birth was so fast (Hannah was born with three pushes), Rachel had many intensive injuries with stitches. She was glad for the time in the hospital also. They finally returned home on Tuesday afternoon when I brought Leah home from daycare. She was so excited to see her daddy’s car in the driveway and ran up to the back door. Daddy opened the door while she jumped up and down in excitement!

Luckily, Mike could be off work to help with Leah and Mommy. This gave me some free time because I wasn’t to get Delilah until the end of the week Leah needed her family home again. Leah saw her daddy every night because he came home to play with her and put her to bed. It gave me a break and helped Leah feel better about Mommy being away. But, she missed having them home all the time, especially her mom. Now, all was right with the world again and she had a new baby sister in addition!

I learned:

  1. I feel for my children as they go through the scary times when their children are very ill. I can’t do much but listen to what they are going through, tell them I love them, and PRAY!!
  2. New babies are so wonderful! My love for each grandchild is not divided as a new child is added but expanded and increased. Leah was quite a trooper with all that transpired! I’m glad I was the one to be with her.