Monday, April 17, 2017

In the backseat of the car

"Let's count buses," I said to the twins on the way to preschool. They were three at the time. The two restless toddlers zeroed in on the search for buses. The most we counted was about twenty-five on one trek. When they wearied of buses, we moved on to large trucks. The sizes of the trucks became an issue, so we returned to buses.

When my oldest granddaughter was the same age, we managed to have some pretty interesting topics in the car. My favorite was when she decided to make up a song called Pinky Pinky Pink. As we passed by things along the side of the road, they were added to her lyrics. At one point she informed me that she had another song. Oddly enough, it sounded just like Pinky Pinky Pink.....and had the same words. An imagination allowed to run rampant. Imagination brought to life by a toddler sitting in the backseat, looking out the window and an adult in the front paying attention.

Time in the car. With my children, I found those times together were some of the best. Problems were solved. Debates were had. Conflicts were worked out in a reasonable manner since there was no escape. A long time ago I decided that being a good parent/grandparent involved staying in the present. Never let opportunities slide by. Never ignore those kids riding in the car with you. In working with kids, I discovered that most of them felt their parents never listened. It made me think that maybe that was due to lack of involvement with them when they were small. For if you interact with them when they are small, your relationship with the struggling adolescent and teen is much easier at a later date. There is a foundation that supports a lifetime of love. It is built piece by piece starting when they are young. Maybe even in the backseat of a car.

"Okay, today we are going to look for heather plants and willow trees," I informed the dialogue-dueling duo on the backseat. "You mean Sydney's friend, Heather?" Emma asked. (Be prepared at all times for random comments and questions.) I slowed down as we passed a hillside of heather pointing out the pink flowers. "How can that be heather and Heather be heather?" (Oh, my). I explained to Emma that names like Heather, Robin, Lily, etc.can be shared with plants and even a birds. We passed the willow tree on my street and with great excitement, Nolan yelled, "A crying willow!"

Now no one said that it is easy being an older person and keeping up with little ones; however, I find that my mind works just about as quickly as theirs, and I can teach them at every opportunity with new, fun ways of learning. I can keep up with them. Just have to try.

The mind of a child is open to all information. They ride in that backseat just watching the scenery. Why not teach them the wonder of all they see? Why not interact and make the ride a joy for all? When the kids are no longer in the car, I will look at all the fun we had together and be thankful for each adventure.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Resurrect the spirit

[Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *Austron, a goddess of fertility and spring, probably originally of sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *austra-, from PIE *aus- "to shine" (especially of the dawn).Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Ultimately related to east. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pascha to name this holiday (see paschal). (from]

Oh, my, the hubbub about a word. Easter, Pascha, the celebration of the Resurrection. People demanding the word Easter. A word that has come to the Christians to mean a great deal in their faith. A word that was originally a pagan word for the goddess of fertility and spring. A word like Christmas and other words that have more than one definition or even date. Easter was adopted by the Christians, yet it was a pagan feast.

Truly God must be laughing as was I when I saw that people were up in arms over a package of Easter eggs with no mention of the word Easter on it. We have Easter parade, Easter eggs, Easter bunny, lovely Easter bonnet and, of course, the handy Easter basket. My bonnet is not holy. Nor are the eggs or basket. Yes, they are items that have come to be as did Santa for all people. The holiness of the days lies not in the name, it lies truly in the heart of the believer. We all worship differently and all are loved by the same God....yep, even the sinner as we are told. I refuse to be upset over a package of candy eggs that does not say 'Easter'.

I hold my faith not against others and their beliefs, but by the love of God that I accept as mine. Not by a special day but by my every day. My church is the world, and I get to love every one in it not by what I expect from them or what they believe, but by the word of Christ that says for me to love everyone as I would myself. For someday I will be judged by my love of all humankind not separating out immigrants or Muslims or people of color or by belief. But by my hope to lift people up, to open my heart and to give of the gifts I have been given, I truly will be judged.

We color eggs of different colors. Colors of the rainbow. A rainbow that holds the promise of God. A rainbow that encompasses all people of all colors, creeds, sexual orientation, ALL people. No judgment. Just love. No labels. Just love. No holidays just for ourselves but days of love for all people. Eggs of all colors hidden away by a big bunny so that children might find them. People hidden away that we might find them.

I wish you a rainbow day of celebrating your uniqueness and gifts. A day that will resurrect your spirit and let it soar.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Move over Easter Bunny

Tools: arcrylic paint, canvas paper, paint brushes in various sizes, cookie cutters, pencil, stickers and two four-year-olds. Ah, nothing could be finer.

Creating cards for Christmas and hearts for Valentine's Day brought us up to Easter. "Meme, remember the lady we gave the Christmas card to?" asked Emma. "She cried." Yes, I do remember and, yes, she cried. Someone took time to look into her eyes and give her a card. Someone who was four going on forty. "Can we do it again?" Words of pure joy.

So I gathered supplies. And, for two days little fingers held paint brushes and created all sorts of colors and designs on paint paper. I took the painted sheets, once dried, and outlined eggs, butterflies and rabbits with cookie cutters. Then the designs were cut out of the paper, and the kids added the bling with stickers. Their scribbled sheets of paper became beautiful little tokens ready for the Easter outings to spread some joy. The Easter Bunny was about to have competition.

After two days of painting and cutting, we must have around eighty eggs to distribute. I am so proud of the kids as they hand out the cards. I stand in the background watching. This is their thing not mine. To begin with, the kids stood frozen with the cards in hand. Gradually, they have come to delight in giving the card then walking away not looking back. We want nothing in return. It is a free gift of love from small hands and a grandma's love.

What do we give as freely in our lives not asking for anything in return? Do we see those forgotten faces that go unnoticed? Are we too busy with our phones or our own lives to notice the strangers we pass? What do we teach children in our actions? A little paint, a little paper and tears of joy. That is the legacy I hope to leave.

As I cut each design from the pages slathered with paint, I discovered beautiful pictures, composition from chaos. We marveled at what we had created. Over the next couple of weeks, we will delight even more at what these little cards from little hands will accomplish.

"Can we do this again, MeMe?" Nolan asked. "We have Mother's Day next," said Emma. Hm. That just might be a bit trickier. Spreading the love. There can be no stronger calling.