Happy Birthday, Mommy

She’d be 107 years old today. I miss her more than she probably ever imagined.

Her legacy endures because Angel Boy 1.0 and DIL named Angel Girl after her. They have photos of her at their home and both children know who she is and how much of an honor it is to be named for her. She’s Daddy’s grandma, Grandma’s mommy.

Since my mom was an absolutely amazing grandma, I try to emulate some of the same things she did with my son; have endless patience with laser focused attention, play with them forEVER, and take each of them solo toy shopping.

“Look what Grandma got me, Mommy! Grandma said I could get ANYTHING I wanted” as my son showed me one Matchbox car, the only thing he chose. (He always was frugal!)

I knew it wasn’t the object that made him happy, it was spending time with Grandma that was fun and special. And important.

Happy Birthday! I wish we all had more time with her, that’s for sure.

Driving around doing errands this morning, I heard one of her favorite songs at least three times, a message for sure! She loved Prince’s When Doves Cry, and so do I.

“Here’s What We Do”

Two children thump down the stairs like a herd of bison.

Very loud whispering…”OK, Charlotte, here’s what we do.”

“Every morning, we go into Grandma’s room and we say ‘Get up, Grandma, make breakfast.'”

“Like this…”

“WAKE UP GRANDMA! MAKE BREAKFAST!”

“Now you do it.”

“It’s OK, she likes it.”

“And then we jump on the bed; come on.”

“Char, you want me to turn the light on?”

He runs over to me, whispers in my ear, “Pretend to be asleep, Grandma.”

“Now you do it, Char!”

A very tiny voice says, “Grandma?”

I respond, “GOOD MORNING, you guys!”

And so my day begins.

Honestly, is there any better way to wake up than to be the first person two angels want to see every morning?

I think not.

GRATITUDE.

Serenity NOW!

My life’s odyssey doesn’t seem to be a straight line to bliss, that’s for sure.

The oven situation was NOT the easy fix I’d hoped for. It’s going to take a whole new electronic panel which’ll take several days to get here.

On the glass half full side, the technician helped me purchase the part online, saving about $100, so I appreciated his honesty. He didn’t charge for today’s visit and diagnosis, and the cost for his labor is reasonable.

As I bemoaned the horrible timing, he suggested I purchase a toaster oven. I had meant to do that a long time ago and forgot, so this was a great solution to my dilemma. I ran out and got one that day AND it was on sale, a fact that makes this Grandma very happy.

If every cloud really has a silver lining, mine is now pure gold with diamond sparkles. Charlotte’s new behavior is to run at me from across the room, jump in my arms, wrap herself around me and say, “Charlotte hug and kiss Grandma!” Over and over again. That two-year-old with the titian hair and her curly big brother expressing their affectionate and exuberant joie de vivre wipe away any and all angst about the oven.

Just now from Theo at 5:26 a.m., “Wake up, Princess Rosebud!”
Right behind him from Char at 5:27 a.m.,”Grandma, where’s apple pie?”

It might be a day late, but they WILL have their apple pie!

Have a happy and safe 4th, everyone!

Chatting with Angel Girl

For a long time, I’ve only FaceTimed with Angel Boy 2.0, but lately this titian-haired Angel Girl grabs the phone from him and runs away with it.

“Me Grandma, MEEEE Grandma!”

An explosion of epic proportions ensued until there was a conversation about sharing Grandma. That was an agreed upon solution to end the dilemma. I also simply hung up, and that was effective, too.

This time, it was Angel Girl 2.0 who called…

Daddy prompts her…

“Tell Grandma what your favorite animal is, Char!”

“Chimpanzee! Chimpanzee! Chimpanzeeeeee!”

Always the supportive Grandma, I reply, “That’s awesome, Char! That’s a very difficult but fun word to say.

Hey, Char, what’s your favorite COLOR?”

Chimpanzee! Chimpanzee! Chimpanzeeeeee!”

(Hmmm, seems like we went from genius IQ of 200+ to a normally bright twenty-month-old in a split second.)

Show Grandma, show Grandma!”

Says Mom, “She wants to show you a green ball.”

“I like your green ball. What color is the ball, Char?”

“CHIMPANZEEEEE”

OK, I definitely see where this is going.

What’s TeeTee doing?

I hear him…“My turn! I want Grandma SHARE GRANDMA! MY TURN!”

“Grammy? Show me the transformer again. When are you sending it?”

“First, tell me what did you eat for dinner, T?”

“PIZZA!”

“Was it a kale pizza?”

“NO, Grandma (laughing), you always ask me that.”

“Grammy, look at Char. She wants you to see her jump.”

“JUMPING!”

“Me show Grandma JUMP!”

“That is such a great jump, Char! I’m so proud of you!”

Then T says, “I’m going to jump over you, Char. DON’T MOVE.”

Oh no, this could be a disaster. But it wasn’t. It was a successful jump, but no more of that, I said.

“Where did you go today, Char?”

“CHIMPANZEEE!!!”

I knew they had gone to the park and the beach, but chimpanzee is clearly a favorite new word so there was no way I could disagree with THAT.

This call lasted for about thirty minutes while I was passed back and forth.

Finally, Mom said, “Say goodbye to Grandma, it’s bath time!”

And then from AB 2.0, “I’m going to hit the red button now, Grandma!”

And they’re gone, taking the sun and moon and stars and my heart with them.

The Rainbow Kids

For a Princess-in-Training

How could anyone resist this sparkly butterfly shirt and frilly tutu?

Not me, that’s for sure.

I can’t wait to send this to the one and only Angel Girl 2.0 and watch her twirl.

There’s not much else going on in SoCal on this quiet Sunday.

PS I kinda wish they had this in MY size so I could feel like a princess ballerina, too.

“Is that a keeper?” More chat with the brilliant Angel Boy 2.0.

My little guy and I LOVE LOVE to search for rocks and seashells and feathers and other treasures.

It doesn’t matter if we’re walking in the neighborhood or at the beach or in the mountains, we make time to search for Mother Nature’s precious gifts.

Holding a rock in his little (but almost as big as mine) hand, he says, “Is this a keeper, Grandma?”

I take a look, think for a minute, and reply, “No, not that one. It’s not asking me to come home. Let’s leave it for someone else to find and bring to their house.”

“How about THIS one, Grandma?”

“Oh YES, T! That’s exactly the kind I love. It’s perfect.”

“OK, you bring it home with you and I’ll see it when we come to your house.”

“Why do you love rocks so much?”

“Great question, T. I love them because they make me happy and I like to collect pretty things. Why do YOU like rocks?”

“They make ME happy, too, Grandma!”

“OK. Think about this. You like it when you get presents in the mail, right? Well, this is getting presents too, but they don’t cost money and we get to have so much fun finding them together, so when we’re not together, we can remember what fun we had.”

“Hey, T, is this the kind that you like?”

I’m holding a pure white oval rock.

“Oh yes! Do you want it, Grandma?”

“That’s very kind of you to think about me, T, but this one is for you. Let’s look for more.”

At this point, all my pockets are full and weighted down by rocks and seashells, and my backpack has no more room, either.

“T, look at me, I’m all loaded down! Let’s leave some to find next time, OK?”

“Grandma, we love rocks so much, don’t we? I put the special ones in the little box you sent me. Where do you keep yours?”

“My special favorites are on the windowsill in my bedroom, so I can see them every day and think about you.”

“Can you take a picture of them and send it to me?”

“I sure will, little buddy.”

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Shadow play and fairy gardens

Picture this.

I was on the phone yesterday evening, talking to my littlest Angel Boy who was beyond excited that the box of fairy garden bits and pieces had arrived.

There are fairy gardens all over his neighborhood and he’s fascinated exactly the same way I am.

A long while back, pre-Covid, I had gotten a lot of things from my local Dollar Tree to make a fairy garden here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells, but the trip they had scheduled to visit me had to be cancelled, so that’s why I sent them.

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As I was chatting with him, watching him place the little gnomes and owls and house and bridge in a corner of his front yard, I looked up and saw the most amazing shadows on the wall.

They’re some of the fifteen windchimes that line the house on the deck. The sea turtle swimming across the wall made me smile.

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Happy Saturday!

“I swear, Grandma!” More chat with the world’s most brilliant human

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Four going on thirteen. That’s Angel Boy 2.0, or as he likes to be referred to when he’s cooking: “Mr. Ovens”.

I have no idea where he gets that precocious attitude. Well, yes I do, but that’s another story.

Since the pandemic has eliminated all of our in-person visits, T-boy and I have been chatting on the phone a lot, sometimes several times a day.

If he sees my favorite breed of dog walk by his house, he likes to call me and say, “Grandma, I just saw a Border Collie, you love Border Collies, don’t you?”

Or he’ll call and flip the camera around to show me his weather, “It’s supposed to rain today but right now there’s some blue sky and clouds.” “What’s your weather like today at your house, Grandma?”

He likes to call me after dinner when Mom is giving baby a bath and putting her to bed and before his bath and bed routine. Dad is usually working in the garden and I’ll get a call.

“Hello, my special friend! How was your day? ”

“GOOOD. I’m outside with Daddy. You know what, Grandma? I had to call you. I swear. Daddy went on a skateboard and didn’t wear his helmet again. I swear. I told Daddy you want him to wear his helmet but he doesn’t. He wears it on his bicycle but not when he’s skating with me. I wear my helmet, Grandma.”

“Thank you for telling me about Daddy. And I’m so proud of you for making good choices and wearing YOUR helmet. Well done!”

“Thank you.”

“Let me talk to Daddy, OK?”

“OK, Grandma.”

And then I hear…

“Dad? Daddy? Jay? Jas? JASON NATHANIEL!! Grandma wants to talk with you. I told her about the helmet situation.”

It cracks me up every single time I hear T call his daddy by his other names using the same exact inflection that he’s heard. Pretty adorable.

“Oh you did, huh? Hello, Grandma.” Says the original boy who stole my heart so many years ago.

“DADDY, I was just informed that you are still not wearing your helmet when you skate with T. You do not need to be told about traumatic brain injuries, you know all about that. Who will take care of your babies when you are incapacitated?”

“Geez, he’s a tattletale haha. I wear it sometimes.”

“Dad, did you hear what Grandma said?”

“Hey, T, I have an idea. Tell Daddy that I won’t allow him to go surfing the next time you guys come to visit if he doesn’t make good choices and wear his helmet.”

I hear him yelling at the top of his lungs, “DAD! GRANDMA SAID YOU CAN’T GO SURFING IF YOU DON’T WEAR YOUR HELMET!”

Then I hear Dad, “OK, tell Grandma I will.”

“Grandma, did you hear that? Daddy said he would wear his helmet.”

“Awesome job, T. We love Daddy and we want him to be safe just like we want you to be safe, right?”

“Right, Grandma. Hey, look at me jump! Grandma, I can jump so high! Grandma, did you send me a box of presents? Did you send The Borrowers Aloft?”

“I did, you’ll get the box in a couple of days.”

“DAD!!! JAY!!! I swear, I told you Grandma sent the second Borrower’s book! I knew she did. I told you not to buy it, I remember Grandma said she was going to send it.”

“OK Grandma, I’m going to go now. I’m going to have a bath. High five, Grandma.”

He likes to “high five” the phone.

“Bye, T. I love you.”

“Bye Grandma, love you, too. I’m going to hit the red button now.”

And he’s gone.

 

 

 

My experience as the virtual grandma at Passover dinner during a pandemic

Wednesday marked the first night of Passover 2020.

Although my grandfather was a rabbi and we used to observe most of the Jewish religious dates, it was much more for the fun than any strict adherence to dogma.

Hanukkah was the fave cos of all the prezzies of course, and Sukkot is cool cos it was a gathering of the harvest, and Passover/Pesach was chock full of symbolism and the time for the youngest member of the family (usually me) to have center stage reciting the Four Questions to explain what Passover is all about. (see below)

How is this night different from all other nights? This is one year none of us will ever forget.

Growing up, my son wasn’t too interested in anything Jewish, probably because we don’t live in a Jewish community and the lure of beach and ocean and skateboarding was more important, so I didn’t really push religion on him because in all honesty, I don’t really care.

For me, seeing a butterfly or growing and eating our own fruit and veggies is equally as spiritual or more so than being forced to sit in a smelly synagogue and recite endless words.

However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my son and DIL’s interest in dipping their toes (along with Angel Boy 2.0’s) into the ritual and symbolism of certain Jewish holidays.

For instance, last night we all gathered together to celebrate Passover dinner. Since they are physically located in the Pacific Northwest and I’m here in SoCal and we obviously can’t be together right now because of the pandemic restrictions, I was able to be included via FaceTime, which was actually pretty awesome. I think the original Charlotte would approve.

Keepin’ it real, they set a place for Elijah, upon which my grandson placed a very realistic looking furry fake rat. Yup, he’s his daddy’s boy for sure. He had grape juice instead of wine, and if the way he drank it and kept refilling his glass is any indication of future behavior, well, ’nuff said.

I still have the Four Questions memorized, tucked away somewhere up in my gray matter, so I helped with the pronunciation, while my son read the story of Passover and they followed the rules of eating the symbolic foods on the Sedar Plate.

Angel Boy 2.0 ran off to find the afikomen (a piece broken off from a matzo during a Seder and put aside to be eaten at the end of the meal. (It’s traditionally hidden during the Seder to be searched for by the children.)  There’s a really funny Curb Your Enthusiasm episode about a Passover dinner, not sure what season, but it’s on Amazon Prime.

It ended with latkes and matzo ball soup (for them) and tofu for me. There’s always a silver lining and always a rainbow after a storm, if you keep your eyes open.

Here’s some info about Passover:
The story about the origin of Passover is also the story of the life of Moses. For a time, the Israelites lived in peace and prosperity amongst the Egyptians until a new Pharaoh saw them as a threat to his power. He enslaved them and ordered all their sons to be killed at birth to prevent a new leader from arising.

According to the story, one mother was able to conceal the birth of her son, Moses. When she could no longer hide him, she hid him amongst the bulrushes. The Pharaoh’s daughter noticed the baby and decided to adopt him. She sent Moses’ sister to find an Israelite woman to nurse him, so he was reunited with his mother. When Moses was older, he moved into the palace where the Pharaoh’s daughter raised him as her own son.

As a young man, Moses noticed the suffering of the Israelites and his actions in retaliation forced him to leave Egypt to become a shepherd. God appeared to Moses one day in the form of a burning bush and commanded him to return to Egypt to lead his people into freedom with the help of his brother Aaron. Although Moses and Aaron repeatedly begged the Pharaoh to free the children of Israel, they were not successful. As punishment, God inflicted 10 plagues on the Egyptians. After the 10th plague, in which all first-born children of the Egyptians died, the Pharaoh agreed to free all Israelites and to allow them to leave Egypt with their possessions. As they had to leave in a hurry, they did not have time to allow bread to rise, so they baked unleavened bread, known as matzoh (plural matzah), for the journey.

Many aspects of Passover have a symbolic meaning. Cleaning the house to remove chametz, using a candle, a feather, a wooden spoon, and a paper bag, symbolizes the removal of egotism and spiritual coarseness from life. The matzoh represents the haste in which the Israelites left Egypt, and the red wine or grape juice represents the blood of sacrifices and male circumcision. Special kitchen utensils and the Seder Plates are used in the special Passover meals.

The Seder Plate consists of 3 matzoh piled on top of each other on a plate or clean cloth, which are then covered with another plate or cloth. Next, small pieces of symbolic foods are then placed on top. The foods are: zeroa , a roasted shank bone or chicken neck; beitzah, a hard boiled egg; maror, freshly grated horseradish or the stalks of romaine lettuce; charoset, a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, and wine; karpas, a non-bitter vegetable, such as an onion or a boiled potato; and chazeret, more horseradish or romaine lettuce. A dish of salt water and wine accompanies the Seder Plate. Each item on the plate represent a different aspect of the Passover story and they are eaten in a particular order and in specific combinations during the ceremonial meal. From https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/jewish/first-day-of-passover

The Four Questions:

?מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת
Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?
Why is this night different from all other nights?

1st Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה – כֻּלּוֹ מַצָּה
Shebchol haleilot anu okhlin hametz umatzah; halailah hazeh, kuloh matzah.
On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzah, and on this night only matzah.

2nd Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת – הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה (כֻּלּוֹ) מָרוֹר
Shebchol haleilot anu okhlin sh’ar y’rakot; halailah hazeh, maror.
On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.

3rd Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת – הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים
Shebkhol haleilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa’am ehat; halailah hazeh, shtei f’amim.
On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once, and on this night we dip twice.

4th Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין – הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּנוּ מְסֻבִּין
Shebchol haleilot anu okhlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin; halailah hazeh, kulanu m’subin.
On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline.

https://www.kveller.com/article/the-four-questions/

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Synchronicity

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Like autumn leaves turning color, falling to expose naked branches,  I see the green, golden, and red leafy reminders of the same word everywhere I turn.

When I was with Angel Boy 2.0, we stood in the forest and I picked up handfuls of maple leaves, tossed them high into the air and we laughed as they gently floated down around us.

“More! More!” he squealed. “AmmahAmmah, MORE!” And so I did. And the moment was even more precious as he raced away clutching one of them to keep for the walk home.

The word I see and hear everywhere is FORGIVEness.

On social media, in emails, songs I hear over and over again, in a seemingly random manner or maybe not so random, right?

And this old song, “Heart of the Matter”…is it time to pay attention, to really LISTEN to that inner voice?

Just like those maple leaves, let it go.

‘Nuff said…