“Hi. My Name is Helen Keller, and I am BEAUTIFUL…”

The things I had forgotten about Helen Keller...

One of my favorite things to do since becoming a grandmother is the opportunity I have had to work with children. Being retired I have the time now to volunteer in my granddaughter’s classroom and help with lessons and projects. I always wanted to be a school teacher, so this fulfills that yearning. Not only do I have the satisfaction of working with kids, I also get to go to school all over again and relearn things I have completely forgotten.

Today is a pretty special day. The second graders are doing oral book reports. Their assignment was to read a biography about a famous person. They had to write a written  report and then come to school dressed as their character and give an oral presentation  from memory. They aren’t allowed to read from notes on their index cards and must tell their story in first person, as if they are that person, telling about themselves.

Today, we are Helen Keller. During this last month, my granddaughter read “Helen Keller, Light for the Blind.” We watched a movie about her childhood when Annie Sullivan came into her life. She learned about this remarkable woman who had a huge impact on the world. Today as Helen, she will share the fact that she was the first blind and deaf person to earn a college degree. She wrote and published twelve books. She traveled to many countries and gave lectures. She is famous for teaching others how to overcome adversity and that no matter what your disabililty, you can do anything.

Yesterday as we were viewing images of our hero we had found on the internet, my granddaughter said, “Oh, look at this one Gramma. Isn’t she beautiful!” Yes Helen Keller – you are. You are BEAUTIFUL!

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Hey Everybody… I have a GREAT idea!

Oh I have  GREAT idea...

In the town I live in, we have an outdoor skating rink especially popular around the holidays. A few years ago, when my grandson was not quite two and visiting for Christmas, I of course wanted to create good memories of time spent at Gramma’s house. During the week we had enjoyed a lot of the usual activities popular during this festive time of the year. We baked and decorated cookies, viewed the neighborhoods with the best lights, sang carols, had visits from friends and other relatives, saw the newly released kids Christmas movie, shopped til we dropped and had lots of playtime and giggles. As the week was winding down and we were running out of new things to do, I suddenly had a GREAT idea!  Why don’t I take the kids to the ice rink for a session of skating!  The rink was filled with smiling skaters, frolicking around to the beat of the Christmas music. We all felt the joy as we rented the skates and paid for the 90 minute session.

After 20 minutes of trying on and lacing skates, my son and daughter-in-law took my grandson and granddaughter out on the ice. I was going to sit back, take pictures and enjoy their FUN from the sidelines. Neither grandchild had ever skated before so they had to be held up and pushed around the rink. The first time around I saw smiles and happy faces. “Oh good,” I thought… this really was a GREAT idea! A few rounds later I noticed the expressions had changed. My daughter-in-law said her back was getting sore from bending over and took a break. I ventured out with little booties they offered that I could walk in and helped push the kids. While they’re slipping and sliding, my grandson is clearly ceasing to have fun. His pants are wet, his feet are sore, his jacket is hiked up exposing his belly to the cold, he’s crying and wants to go see Mommy!! Wonderful… I then spot my son leaning against the rail holding on to my four year old granddaughter, looking spent.  It’s definitely time for a break.

After having some snacks, warming the kids, and resting our feet, we go for round two. I am poised with camera in hand, rocking to the beat of the carols, yelling encouraging  words like “Great Job!!” from the sidelines all the while hoping to see smiles return as they round the bend. I still need my pictures! We only have 30 minutes left. “Ok! Look at you! You’ve got it! Let me see that BIG happy face…………”

“Hey everybody… I have a GREAT idea!! Let’s go get ice-cream!” Smiles return and I get my pictures! 🙂

The No Cavity Club…

The No Cavity Club...

For kids, a trip to the dentist every 6 months is like going to a carnival. Upon arrival, we are greeted by a high energy receptionist who acts like she has been waiting all day for us to get there. She is all smiles as she compliments my granddaughter’s choice of “Hello Kitty” t-shirts and stylish black boots. She wants to know all about her day at school as she checks us in.
While we wait our turn, we are ushered to a play area filled with brightly colored chairs and numerous video game stations from which to choose. My granddaughter picks one and begins playing. Within minutes, another enthusiastic young assistant walks in with her camera. She positions my granddaughter in front of a brightly colored mural painted with animals and snaps her picture. She takes two, just to make sure she has a good one.
A few minutes later, the dental hygenist comes in and says she is ready. She is also all smiles and immedialtely starts up a conversation, making my granddaughter feel like she is the most exciting patient she has had all day. “We’ll need some x-rays,” she says and places my granddaughter in a chair and covers her with a bright yellow printed protective shield. After the x-rays, she opens a large cabinet filled with an assortment of stickers. She says to take two and we pick “Hello Kitty” – they’ll work with the t-shirt.
As we make our way to the room for our check-up, she asks my granddaughter what flavor of toothpaste she would like her to use. There’s strawberry, watermelon, cookie dough, chocolate, mint, bubblegum, blueberry, cherry and orange. Bubblegum it is!
As my granddaughter is led to a long reclining chair, she is given large glasses, a set of headphones and a choice of two movies to watch while the cleaning takes place. (I am thinking – why doesn’t my dentist offer this?) After the hygenist is finished, the dentist comes in, gives my granddaughter a reassuring pat and praises her for excellent x-rays. “Your teeth look beautiful! You are brushing and flossing very well!”
As the dentist finishes the examination, the hygenist asks what color balloon my granddaughter would like. There’s yellow, dark blue, light blue, pink, red, orange and green. She picks light blue.
We make our way out, but not before picking up a goodie bag. In it we find a new toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a toy ring, a happy face sticker and the picture they took at the beginning of our visit.
And wait… there’s one more thing! The happy receptionist jumps for joy and hands us a final sticker with the words “NO CAVITY CLUB!” Everyone claps as we head out the door. “Can’t wait to see you in 6 months!”

And when we are ready to say goodbye… it always ends with kisses for the heart and this…

And when we are ready to say goodbye... it always ends with kisses for the heart and this...

My grandsons, ages 5 and 2 1/2 gave me one of the most precious gifts for Christmas. I absolutely LOVE this with all my heart! We often FaceTime – (they live 500+ miles away.) When we do, we act silly, we laugh and just talk about what it is that’s going on that particular day. “Look at this, look at that GramGram… look what I can do!” I don’t care what it is… it’s just time spent with my sweet boys. Most of the time it amounts to just being together – for the moment. Nothing expected – just GramGram time with my little rascals.
They jump around, they act silly, they run in and out of the room, they are rambunctious little bundles of energy. They laugh with those “children laughs” that can absolutely turn a not so great day into the most beautiful day ever. I can’t get enough of them. They make me smile and warm my heart.
And when we are ready to say goodbye… it always ends with “I Love You to the Moon and Back…”  We throw kisses to each other, catch them, and rub them into our hearts, where those kisses will stay… FOREVER! And how did they know I needed pot holders and an oven mitt with their handprints?  Maybe because they know I love them to the moon… and back.

The Science Fair… Who gets the Blue Ribbon?

I don’t know about you, but when my own kids were growing up, I was a little less than enthusiastic when they came home from school with the packet for the yearly science fair. Twenty pages of instructions and regulations outlining the criteria to have a project accepted. The do’s and don’t’s, the what’s and how’s, methods, directions, set up. You need a topic, investigative question, hypothesis, procedure, data collected and your conclusion.
My granddaughter’s parents keep long hours with full time jobs, lengthy commutes and school, so of course, “I will be glad to help.”
Day one, I kick around ideas suitable for a second grader. I come up with a brilliant plan. We will test food items to see what will float in plain water vs salt water; using carrots, broccoli, a chunk of hot dog and an egg. Sounds good and best of all, easy.
There’s a paper to fill out for the teacher to review to see if planned project will be acceptable. In bold print “PLEASE READ ENTIRE BOOKLET” before turning in ideas. OH! There are ten bullets pointing out what CAN NOT be used in your experiment. Number 10 – NO FOOD ITEMS. Seriously?!
So… it’s back to the drawing board. While I am looking up ideas on the internet, my husband comes up with a suggestion. Why not test her pulse and blood pressure after doing certain activities. We can start with resting, then compare how it changes after exercise and other actions. We have a blood pressure monitor. Perfect!
Our plan passes inspection and we can start. But… being tickled pink we landed a project, we don’t; we sit on it. Yesterday at our house was a whirlwind. The three of us are running around like crazy people getting this assignment completed. Getting a board, printing information, doing the actual experiments and writing out our data on cards. Occassionally I would give my input on where I thought something should be placed on OUR display. “No Gramma, remember this is MY science project! I want that over here!” Oh…
We made the deadline this afternoon and set up our project in the multi-purpose room. The judging will be done before tomorrow night when the actual fair begins. I can’t wait to see if WE get a blue ribbon!!

For crying out loud… Can you kids pipe down???

For crying out loud... Can you kids pipe down???

How many times growing up did you hear your parents hollering at you for making too much noise?
“You’re making so much racket, I can’t hear myself think!” That was a good one. What does that mean? Why do we need ears to think?
I have to admit, I probably said this same thing to my own kids. If you have a two story house, it sounds like thunder when your kids are upstairs and you’re on the ground floor. As soon as you run up there and open the door, they’re all sitting quietly and staring at you like you must have just been released from a mental institution.
“What are you kids doing in here?”
“Nothing…”
As soon as you get downstairs, the thunder returns. You can run back and forth as much as you’d like – the results are the same. They have this down to a science and win every time.

Now that I am older the raucous coming from my grandchildren’s playroom is music to my ears. Listening to them rambunctiously enteracting and playing is so pleasing and entertaining. I find myself hearing no noise at all. I just see happy kids, being kids, and having a great time. They bring a smile to my face, put joy in my heart and make me feel so alive.
I don’t ever want them to “pipe down.”

I love you Mom, I love you too…

Remembering Mom and Dad...

Eight years ago today, I was visiting with my parents in the apartment I had moved them into months before. Assisted living was my first choice. Mom had Alzheimer’s and it was difficult for Dad to take care of things and her all by himself. I thought assisted living would be the best thing to do. But mom hated it and so I moved them into an apartment and cared for them myself. I made visits to take care of laundry, housekeeping, shopping and whatever else might need tending to. Some days it was just to keep them company.

For some reason on January 21st, 2006, I had a feeling I should stay a little longer with Mom. We layed on the bed together, holding hands and just talked about old times. People afflicted with Alzheimer’s really only remember old times. When interviewed at the assisted living place, Mom was asked what it is she likes to do. She said, “Oh, I like to ice skate and play tennis.” Growing up near Lake Erie – she was an outstanding ice skater as a teen. She also excelled at tennis. But let’s face it, you probably won’t be so great at this in your 80’s. LOL – Dad and I smiled.

I went on home later that evening. A few hours later I received a phone call from Dad. The paramedics were there and taking Mom to the nearby hospital. I rushed to the ER to see her lying lifeless, with a tube down her throat. Dad was sitting next to her in a state of disbelief. The attending physician told me she probably wouldn’t pull through. Her heart had failed and her pulse was extrememly faint. Looking back, I whole heartedly believe Mom waited for me to get there and be with Dad before she took her last breath. That would be just like Mom.

Shortly after I had arrived, the doctor said, “Go ahead and call it.” Next thing I heard was, “Time of death, 10:08 pm.”

Eight years ago tonight, I said good bye to Mom. But more importantly, previously that evening as we lay on the bed together, holding hands, she had said, “I love you, Peggy Jo.” And I had said, “I love you Mom, I love you too!”

“Did you want to read this?”

Hi, my name is Sierra Rose. I came to my new home last April when I was just seven weeks old. My owners had a lab before me, named Maggie. I guess Maggie was a “good” dog. I keep hearing that… repeatedly. “Maggie never did that! What’s wrong with you?”
I like to chew. I like to chew everything! It doesn’t matter what it’s made out of. Wood, paper, material, metal – yum yum – it’s all so much fun! I particularly like to take things out of the trash. I guess that’s why every door in the house is closed.
I used to have a frisby. I ate it. I used to have LOTS of dog toys. I ate them. I used to have a soft pad in one of my dog beds. I ate it. The little girl that’s here after school used to have 5 Barbie’s. She now has 4. I ate one. There is an old chair in my parent’s bedroom that I have destroyed. I have crucified slippers, shoes, a pair of glasses and almost the entire drip system in my backyard. I try to eat rocks but they take them away. Something about ruining my teeth.
I guess I scared my owners the other day when I couldn’t poop. I tried, but it got stuck. Kind of resembled link sausages, connected with string. I had to have some assistance. Oh, and it was colorful too.
So now I am waiting for some new toys to come in the mail. They are supposed to be industrial strength, with a durability of ten. The toughest toys made, for dogs like me. They should be here any day. In the meantime, I found this magazine that someone forgot to put high up, out of my reach. Hmmmm… no one is in the room right now. Oh wait, here they come… “Did you want to read this?”

How Grateful I Am…

How Grateful I Am...

January 12, 1979, 35 years ago today. It was a Friday. I remember it oh too well. I was working at Pac Bell or was it still called PT&T? They changed the name so many times it’s hard to recall. Anyway, known as AT&T today, I was there in the office. I had planned January 12th to be my last day before taking time off with a baby due any minute. I could hardly walk. He had dropped and it felt like I was dragging around a 12 pound bowling ball positioned in my loins. We had a receptionist named Trixie. She kept asking me to take calls which meant rolling out of my seat, waddling to her desk to pick up a customer’s file card and waddle back to take the call. Seemed like she was doing this over and over, with plenty of other employees from which to choose. Was she not noticing my glaring expression, or that I was walking like an obese duck ready to lay the egg of an ostrich? You know the “glow” they say pregnant women have? I did NOT glow! What was WRONG with her? By 5 o’clock I was ready to punch her in the face.
I remember FINALLY getting to leave work. I picked up my not quite 3 year old and 18 month old sons from day care, drove home and fell on the bed. Exhausted was an understatement. My husband was in charge and I could totally just lay on the bed like a beached whale and not move.
Within an hour or so, I was moving…. I knew it was time. Baby was ready and so was I. I summoned my toddler to go tell daddy it was time to go have a baby. Away to the hopsital we went as my husband cracked jokes just like he did with the other 2 births. I was never quite sure if this was meant to calm him down or he thought it would take away the pain. At any rate, I am NOT in a laughing mood here! I remember the nurse asking me if I wanted drugs. HA! Are you kidding me? I’ll take whatever you got – this is my last kid and I don’t care about being a symbol of courage or bravery, in the name of womens’s lib or whatever – so popular at the time. Just kill the pain before I kill you. I remember looking at my husband with a scowl and saying, “I am never EVER doing this again!” I think he cracked another joke.
Saturday morning, January 13th, 1979, 5:45 am. My healthy, beautiful 8lbs, 7oz, baby boy is here. The pain is gone, and completely forgotten. (Okay, well almost…) Thirty five years later… I see this same baby boy with his 2 baby boys. I see him in their faces and him in their antics and relive MY little boy through his. Time marches on with the joy of new children, my blessings continue, how grateful I am. Happy Birthday baby boy!