Posts Tagged ‘Granddaughter’

Dear Readers,

It’s summer and nothing is more pleasurable than going on a picnic.  In my opinion, there are two important elements in the art of picnicking – food and location.

But before I delve into these elements, let’s review the word itself.  For me, just uttering the word “picnic” evokes lightheartedness and fun.  It rolls off the tongue in a joyous cascade of sound.  I looked up the meaning of picnic in the dictionary – it is a meal eaten outdoors as on an excursion.  It’s derived from the French “pique-nique”.  Pique comes from “piquer” meaning “to pick”.  The word was rarely used in the English language before the 1800’s.  Even the French “pique-nique” conjures up thoughts of pleasurable recreation.

Let’s analyze the first element – food.  Any type of foodstuffs can be served at a picnic.  PB&J sandwiches, potato salad, cold cans of baked beans, bananas and pretzels are easy to pack.  So are fried chicken, watermelon and brownies.  At outdoor music concerts, there are the gourmet picnickers who feast on fancy cheeses, sturdy sausages, delicate crackers along with bowls of fresh raspberries.  I plead guilty to “picnic envy” as I observe them carefully unfolding this banquet onto fancy plates and pouring their chilled wine into elegant wineglasses.  I’m tempted to hide my pathetic paper cup of Hi-C fruit punch under my flimsy paper plate!

Let’s talk about what really makes or breaks the picnic – location.  It can be held anywhere that has a shade tree and a large patch of grass.  If there’s a picnic table nearby, that’s a bonus.  Even a park bench strategically placed in an interesting and scenic area is ideal for a picnic.

My family loves picnics.  When my children were young, we went on a lot of them.  Sometimes we would meet their Dad for lunch at a beautiful county park on Evansburg Road near his office.  The small park was full of big, leafy shade trees with a small stream running through the edge of it.  My husband reluctantly returned to work after these relaxing picnics.  Our home had a large covered deck off the kitchen.  It was there that we ate dinner every summer night on a large wooden picnic table, rain or shine.  It was sad when the evenings started to get too cool to eat out.

We also picnicked on vacations.  One June we spent two weeks in Paris and one of the highlights of the trip was a picnic at the Jardin du Luxomburg, a beautiful large public park.  My son urged us to plan one and we did – loading cheese, French bread, butter and wonderful strawberry preserve into a tote bag and riding the subway to the park.  On another occasion, my daughter, sister and niece were visiting us in California, where we decided to drive to Joshua Tree National Park for a picnic.  What a delightful place to enjoy lunch and then a hike.  I still  remember the styrofoam cooler the girls purchased at the local grocery store to keep our provisions cold.

As you can see, picnics are a big part of our family’s entertainment.  Maybe this will be the summer Papa and I introduce our three year old granddaughter to the “art of picnicking”!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Received this text message on my phone Tuesday, March 9 from my son:  “Margaret Ann was born at 4:06 PM, EST.  She weighs 7 pounds and she is precious!”  This message came straight from the delivery room in Raleigh, NC.  Mimi and Papa are overjoyed at the news of the birth of our second granddaughter.  She even arrived nine days early!

Maggie has been in my thoughts a lot lately.  Yesterday was her first Sunday and I wandered how she would spend other Sundays in her life.  I hope she enjoys the leisure time it provides.  That leisure time will take many forms:  Sunday brunch at the Morning Times; an excursion to the art museum; or maybe a Sunday matinee at the theatre or the movies.  Of course, she will have to be much older to enjoy these activities.  For the near future, Sundays will be a day of snuggling with her Mom, playing with her sister on the backyard slide or watching her Dad prepare a special Sunday dinner for the family.

She has her whole life ahead of her and I hope she can take the time to savor and enjoy each moment it brings.  One thing I know for sure – she is part of a big family that loves her very much.

Welcome Maggie!  And remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

My granddaughter does not understand the concept of God and religion.  But she does understand the necessity of saying “thank you” when someone has given her a gift or has done something for her.  It is within this context of thankfulness that she was introduced to prayer, and the importance of thanking God.

When her parents discussed prayers for Emily to say, I immediately tried to find prayers for the very young in various books.  The search was unsuccessful as most of the prayers were too advanced for a 2 year old.   So Mimi did the next best thing by composing a simple little prayer for her.  I made a book for her containing the prayer and pasted in various pictures to accompany it.  She really enjoyed reading the prayer book.  And since it is 2 days before Thanksgiving, I’d like to share it with you.  Maybe it can be your Thanksgiving prayer too!

Emily’s Prayer

Thank you Lord for birds and bees, for pretty flowers and big tall trees.

Thank you Lord for the moon and sun, for eyes that see and legs that run.

Thank you Lord for the food I eat; for watermelon and even a beet!

Thank you Lord for family and friends and rainbow days that never end.


I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Reading a book with a grandchild is one of life’s greatest pleasures!  At least it is in my life.  When Emily selects a book and asks “Mimi, will you read this to me?”, my heart sings.  I’m overwhelmed with love when she climbs into my lap and snuggles against me, ready for the story to begin.  The intimacy continues as we experience and enjoy the story together.

I have also found that some books are better written for and received by toddlers than others.  There are so many children’s books available that it is difficult to know what’s worthwhile and what isn’t.

My daughter-in-law introduced me to a book that is an excellent guide for choosing children’s books.  It is the “Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease.  It contains a list of books called the “Treasury of Read-Alouds” which includes the title, author, number of pages, publisher, year published and the age group the book is suitable for.  A one paragraph synopsis of the story is also included.  This treasury categorizes the books into wordless books, predictable books, poetry and fairy and folk tales.

A predictable book is one in which a certain phrase or sentence is repeated enough as to become predictable for the young reader.  A good example is “The Very Busy Spider”  by Eric Carle.  The sentence “The spider didn’t answer.  She was very busy spinning her web”, appears on every other page.

The handbook gives answers to questions such as “What is the purpose of fairy tales?”, “Why do they want to read the same book over and over?”, “Won’t a video do my child as much good as a picture book?”, and when it’s obvious you’ve made a poor choice of a book, “Is it okay to abandon it or parts of it and move on?”.  The author’s answers utilize the results of various studies conducted on children and reading and his own personal experience.

Before purchasing books for Christmas gift-giving, why not check out this handbook for suitable ideas?  After all, reading aloud is a win-win situation for both the reader and the child being read to.  In addition, this activity creates loving memories that last a lifetime.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

My granddaughter is enrolled in a music appreciation class for toddlers.  I had the privilege of accompanying her to this class.  About 10 toddlers marched and danced to songs like “Old King Cole”, “This Little Light of Mine”, and “Mississippi Cats”.  Their teacher played the folk song “Shenandoah” on the piano as the little ones rested in their mothers’ laps.

This class reminded me what a big part music plays in our lives.  There are lullabies, school songs, wedding music and yes, even funeral music.  These toddlers are just beginning their journey of making musical memories.

Let me tell you of a few musical memories in my life.  I remember being rocked by my Mom as she sang “I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles”, a line from Al Jolson’s song “Mammy” written in the 1920’s.  My Dad had a great tenor voice and he and I sang “Sentimental Journey” and “Buttons and Bows” for family and friends.

As a first grader, I sang “The teensy weensy spider climbed up the water spout . . .” and learned the accompanying hand gestures showing a spider climbing up.  In the fifth grade, Mrs. Webber, our choir director, taught us traditional Christmas carols to sing for our debut at the  5 A.M. Christmas mass.  As part of our family tradition, Dad led us in singing “Silent Night” at the completion of decorating the Christmas tree.

All the angst and joy of my teen years are relived every time I hear the songs of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and Little Richard.  I was 18 years old driving my car on a Sunday afternoon in January the first time I heard the Beatles sing “I Want To Hold Your Hand”!  Selected the theme from Romeo and Juliet to be played right before my wedding march down the aisle.

“Amazing Grace” was sung at Mom’s funeral and I’m reminded of her whenever it is played.  Tears still well up in my eyes, when I sing “On Eagles’ Wings” at mass.  My Dad loved that song and sang it with gusto.  For that reason, it was featured at his funeral mass.

My son loved being sung to sleep every night as a toddler.  His songs of choice were 2 lullabies:  “TooRaLooRaLooRal” (an Irish lullaby) and Brahms’ lullaby sung in German.  Found myself singing these same two tunes to his daughter the other night.

I’m glad Emily is learning to enjoy music.  It’s such a big part of our lives.  In happy times, momentous times and sad times, music is a way to give meaning to our feelings.  Emily, you are just beginning your life’s journey and I’m glad you’ll soon learn music can be your faithful companion along the way.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This summer Papa (my granddaughter’s name for her grandfather) and I had the privilege of spending nearly every Tuesday morning with our granddaughter.

We participated in quite a few fun activities.  Among them was a visit to the local science museum where the highlight was a room full of butterflies.  Watching the amazement of a toddler viewing hundreds of butterflies in a confined area was pure joy.

On other Tuesdays, we ventured to the public library’s toddler reading program.  Each week the program concentrated on a particular theme, such as a birthday party one week and gardening the next.  Three books would be read by the librarian along with guessing games and a weekly march around the room to lively music.  Our two-year-old was a little reserved, sitting on Mimi’s lap during the readings but eagerly parading around holding onto Papa’s and my hands.  Part of our library routine was to pick out a book from the open shelves and read it before we left.  Papa found a book about “stinky clothes” which she absolutely adored.

But the outing on this past Tuesday was the best of the summer.  After driving to Pullen Park, a great place for toddlers, we immediately headed for the ticket counter.  Our granddaughter heard the music from the old calliope and headed straight for the big, inviting carousel.  Papa stepped on to place her on the saddle of a horse of her choosing that rose up and down.  I watched behind the fence and waved each time she circled around.  Seeing my little granddaughter waving and riding the carousel horse with such delight, made my heart dance.  It reminded me of my own childhood and the thrill of waving to my Mom and aunts each time I passed by them.  I even saw her look up at the mechanism above the horse that makes it move.  I did that very same thing, watching the poles go up and down, trying to figure out how they worked.

We also took a train ride around the park.  On the next ride, our little girl navigated the small boats in the water, ringing the bell and waving each time she floated by.  Then there was a picnic lunch of cantaloupe, blueberries and a peanut butter sandwich, all consumed under the cooling shade of a large tree.  After lunch, it was time to head home for an afternoon nap.

The entire morning was great but the best part was watching “a little girl on a carousel” and realizing that she had discovered the magic it held, not just for today but for years to come!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Emily,

Papa and I want to wish you a very happy second birthday.  You are our special little sweetheart.

These past two years we have had the privilege of watching you grow, observe and learn.  We have enjoyed sharing with you the excitement of new experiences and learning new things.  It’s a gift to be reminded of how a child views the world.  You make us feel young again!

There’s no better feeling in this world than when you run into our waiting arms with a big hug and kiss!

Papa and I love you very much!  May God bless you each and every day of your life!  And remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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