Years ago, before Alaska and Hawaii became states, my mother and father-in-law decided to purchase a quilt pattern for the then, 48 United States of America. The pattern was was for the state birds for each of the 48 states. They thought it would be a wonderful addition to their home.

When it arrived, she was excited about it, and went to right work on it. She always liked that sort of thing. She used to knit, crochet, embroider and sew. Of course, with 3 children and later, 4, 5, and 6 children, time to spend embroidering things that weren’t necessary to the running of a household, or clothing the children…well, it was just scarce. So she worked to embroider the squares whenever there was time in her busy day, but gradually there was less and less time for such things, so it became a long project.

It was a different time and place then. You didn’t have dishwashers, and many people grew large vegetable gardens and canned or froze their food, and since that is very time consuming, the quilt squares took a good amount of time to finish…not to mention the fact that embroidery is a very meticulous art…one I never had the patience for. Anyway, I’m sure you can imagine, time was something she had precious little of, with cooking and cleaning, canning vegetables, and clothing 6 children. So, over the years the squares were finished, but as often happens in with these projects, life got in the way, and they were packed away with the intent of someday turning them into a quilt…a plan that wouldn’t materialize for over 20 years and of course, the addition of 2 more states.

One day, their daughter Debbie came across the squares and decided to have the work finished. Her mother-in-law quilted, so she spoke to Cleo, and she agreed to put the quilt together so it could be returned to my mother and father-in-law as a surprise. And a wonderful surprise it was. They were thrilled to have it, even if it had taken so many years.

Again, like often happens, the quilt was packed away for safe keeping, and thought to be lost…until recently when Debbie was helping them go through some things and came across it. Which is how we once again have a little piece of history…the quilt of the 48 United States of America.

Little kids are so much fun, and your grandkids would have to rank right up there at the top. They have such an innocence and wonder over life. Everything is new and exciting to them. It is so fun to watch.

When Christopher and Shai were little, they were going through all the new experiences together, since they were only 1 day apart in age, Christopher being born on February 28th, and Shai being born on February 29th. We had such a great time with them. Every new thing, every excitement, every experience, we had times two. What a cool blessing to have both my daughters become mothers one day apart. Even though one was a boy and one a girl, they went through all the same experiences at the same time. Slightly different in the things of boys and girls, but many were identical too. It was wonderful.

It was great playing the little games with them that I had played with their mothers. People who aren’t grandparents don’t know how cool it is to get to watch two generations of their children go through all the newness and excitement of those toddler years. That wonder of learning and playing. And with your grandchildren, you just feel differently about it. You don’t feel like you should be somewhere else, doing something else. You aren’t the parent. You are free to simply enjoy. No responsibilities to make sure they grow up right, not that you don’t want that too, but the responsibility belongs to your children now. You have earned the right to simply play with the kids. It is a very liberating feeling.

This particular picture looks like two kids just playing in a hallway, but if you look very closely at what Shai, my granddaughter, is looking at, you will see the real reason for the looks on their faces. There in the corner of the picture is their grandmother…me. We were playing “I’m gonna get you” and they were doing everything they could to get away, only to put themselves in a position of nowhere else to go. The next few seconds included delighted screams and giggles. I had caught them, and it was quite a moment.

Sometimes it just amazes me that a child can look so much like one parent, and yet at the same time can look so much like the other parent. Not in every way of course, but while they may look a lot like one parent, they can take on a whole different look when they smile or maybe frown.

Such is the case with my grandson, Caalab. Now Caalab is definitely his daddy’s boy. He looks and acts so much like Travis that it is like looking at a picture of Travis, and I’m sure that when they look at each other, it is like looking in a mirror. And their personalities…well, anyone who knows them can tell you that Caalab definitely got his personality from Travis. Wow…it’s like they rehearsed it or something.

But, sometimes when I look at a picture of Caalab, he reminds me so much of his mom that it astounds me. He smiles like Amy smiles, and when they are both deep in thought, they look so much alike. I have pictures of them as little babies, that could almost pass for the same child, and yet I have seen pictures of Travis as a young boy that are totally Caalab.

It isn’t unusual for a child to look totally like one parent or the other, or be so much a mix of the two that the child doesn’t really look like either of them, but to look so much like his dad, and yet sometimes look so much like his mom, seems unusual to me. Of course, I must say that with Caalab, it is pretty much in a look here and there, and certain situations that he is like his mom, because in most ways, I have never seen a boy more like his dad!! It’s almost uncanny.

I guess children are their own people, built from the DNA of their parents, and taking from both sides, but sometimes there is enough alike in them to take you by surprise. And when the similarities come so early on in life, you just can’t believe that it is the child copying the parent. Caalab has always been a jokster, as has Travis, but when Caalab started telling whole jokes at 4 or 5, and never missing the punch line…I had to remind myself that he couldn’t be reading them. It was just Caalab being just like his dad. That is one place where he is definitely all Travis.

Through the years, my Aunt Bonnie has made dreams come true for many brides in the family. I know that might sound odd to many people, but my Aunt Bonnie made wedding cakes, and cakes for many other events. Her creativity was amazing, and her cakes beautiful.

Aunt Bonnie made my wedding cake, and my 25th Anniversary cake. She also made the wedding cakes for both my girls weddings. These were exquisite cakes that would have cost a fortune anywhere else, but she wouldn’t take payment for them. She said it was her wedding gift to the couple. And what a wonderful gift it was. Her cakes tasted wonderful, so they made the party a great success, but that isn’t all they were. The cake is the central focus, other than the couple, at the reception. The pictures are taken around it, and it is always featured in the photographs. So it was a gift that is forever treasured, and never forgotten.

As I said, Aunt Bonnie is very good at making cakes. They are truly a work of art, as you can see. She takes the design the bride picks and the ideas in the brides dreams, and turns them into a stunning reality. It is one part of the wedding day the bride can completely relax about, and just leave it in the capable hands of my Aunt Bonnie. She always has the bride’s interests foremost in her mind, and because she has such a sweet heart and spirit, the cakes she creates simply shine on the special day.

While she doesn’t make the cakes anymore, the memories and happiness she gave to those who were blessed enough to receive them will last a lifetime. You have given more than you will ever know Aunt Bonnie. Thank you. I love you more than words can say.

Every grandma will tell you that every moment with your grandchildren is a special one. From the first time you hold them after they are born, you just never get over how wonderful they are. They delight your heart with their antics and their humor, and even when they are being a little naughty, their charm will make it almost impossible to be mad at them.

Why is it so different with grandchildren than it was with your own kids. You knew you had to discipline your kids, and you knew you should with your grandchildren, but they are just so darned cute, and after all, it is their parents responsibility to discipline them…isn’t it? So, you spoil them and shower them with love, and their parents hope you don’t do more harm than good, but it just seems like you feel differently about kids behavior as you get older. The little things just don’t bother you as much.

What you notice instead is just how much you can love that little tiny person and just how easily they can wrap you around their little finger. It is a place you will live for the rest of your life. They will always have the ability sweet talk you, and make you feel like they didn’t. And while you know it is going on, you just don’t seem to mind. You simply don’t have it in you to be as hard on them as you felt you must with your own kids. And sometimes they are just so sweet that your favorite Grandma picture doesn’t even include Grandma, it was just a grandma moment.

So, you treasure each moment, each smile, each laugh, knowing that all too soon they will Shai and GrandmaJoshbe grown up. It is with mixed emotions that you face that reality, because you realize that before you know it, they will be grown and their little kid days will be gone. But then you also realize that when they are grown up, they will marry and before you know it they will have children of their own, and the cycle will start all over, with new little grandbabies to love and hug, and to share those grandma moments with. And you realize how very blessed you are.

Sometimes the things kids find interesting can be so funny. When my oldest grandkids were little, like most kids, they liked places like boxes, baskets, and other such hiding places. I don’t quite understand what the draw is for kids, but they always seem to think it is a secret place, or maybe a fort, or their own special place. Whatever it is, those little places are as special to them as…maybe a car is to young driver. They thought of it aa their own play area.

Christopher’s family has always had dogs. They were and are members of the family. Since Christopher grew up with them and Shai spent a lot of time with Christopher, it just stands to reason that the dog’s kennel held some interest for those two kids. The dog was a special friend, and the kennel belonged to her. It was the coolest place they could think of.

In fact, that is putting it mildly. It was a favorite hangout for them. Every time they were together, Corrie would find them in the kennel, playing. They would bring their toys in and play in there for hours. Meanwhile, the dog really wanted nothing to do with the kennel when the family was at home. It was a bed for her and nothing more. She knew she had to be in there when they were gone or in bed, but the minute she was allowed out, she was out. And here are these two little kids who can’t wait for the dog to vacate so they can take over. I guess it is all about “the grass being greener” on the other side.

I seems that the very coolest thing for the kids was trading places with the dog. I guess that isn’t so odd, since, all the dog wanted to do was trade places with the kids. It seems that the grass really can be greener on the other side, because it is all about the eye of the beholder. Or maybe it is like the big box that the appliance came in. Once the item that was normally in the box, or the kennel, came out, the kids could go in. And so they would…and they would have the most wonderful adventures while they were there.

Kids make all kinds of faces. Of course, they cry and pout, and they are serious and silly. Their little looks make our world a little bit more interesting. Oh I know our children can annoy us. They can scream loud enough to break eardrums. Still, through it all, we love them, no matter what their look is today.

Josh has always been a smiley boy, who loves to make goofy faces, and they always make me laugh. One of the cutest faces is the one you see when a child is filled with excitement, like Christmas day or their birthday. The smiles are the biggest ones you have ever seen. Kids have such a hard time containing their excitement and joy. I find it sad that we tend to lose that as we get older. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have that same innocence and happiness in our lives.

A baby trying not to fall asleep, or one who has just awakened from sleep, can be some of the funniest faces out there. The face Caalab made trying to stay awake when he was little, was just so funny. His head kept dropping and then he would jerk it back up. He finally lost the battle, and sleep took over. Christopher on the other hand was just waking up, and the funny look on his face makes you wonder what exactly is in that cup he has, but since I know his parents well, I know it is just juice, and Christopher is just goofy.

Learning to wink is one of the things that can produce so of the funniest looks. First both eyes blink, then the nose crinkles up and the mouth opens, and finally after lots of work a wink appears. Shai worked so hard to be able to wink. She really wanted it, and she was so proud when she got it. She would wink on demand, and it was precious.

Kids have many moods and many faces. They are precious lights in our lives. They bring joy and…well, life into an otherwise dull day. What a wonderful blessing from God they are.

When kids are little, all they want to do is be like their parents. Little girls want to wear their mothers heels and makeup, nail polish and dresses, and boys can’t wait to have feet as big as Daddy’s or be as tall or they want to use the same tools or play the same sports.

Kids are so cute when they are trying to be their parents, and wearing their shoes, or the shoes of some other adult. They clomp along, trying not to fall…in shoes that are several sizes too big. And when they do, they just laugh, get up, and totter away again. If they can manage to get up on their own with the shoes that they have on. Most of the time, it seems that they need help to get back up…especially in boots. We look at them and laugh, not just because it is so cute, but because it reminds us of ourselves when we were little. And of course, they are laughing too, possibly at the absolute hilarity of it all. They know how goofy it is and yet they seem to think that you might not realize that they know.

I also find it funny that every time kids put those shoes on, they put them on the wrong feet…every time!! Unless we help them, that is. How can that be? You would think that, at least part of the time they would get them on the right feet, but it seems never to happen. It’s like they plan it or something…maybe, just to be funny. Do kids ever get their shoes on the right feet? I think not, so why should it be different in their parents shoes?

I don’t know what is going through their minds, exactly, but I do know that it is common for them to want to copy the person or persons who have had such a big influence in their lives…at least so far. These are such fun years, and they are so quickly over. Before we know it these little ones are driving and dating and married and having babies, who then try to fill their parents shoes.

When my parents were dating, they sometimes double dated with my mom’s sister, Evelyn, and her husband, George. They would go to formal affairs, such as the military ball, but more often they went to movies. Family was important to all of them, and sometimes the best double date is your family.

One night, Mom, Dad, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George went to the movies. The had a great time and were enjoying their visit on the way home. My dad had driven that night, and so he and my mom were taking Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George to their Mills home, before he would take my mom home.

It was a beautiful moonless night. They drive past The Wagon Wheel skating rink, and around the corner to the railroad track. At that time, there was no signal light or gate. As they started to cross the track, something caught Uncle George’s eye. Thankfully for all of them, he knew what it was. He yelled, “Train!” My Dad instinctively turned the wheel in the same direction as the train was going, and the car was dragged along beside the train until the train was able to stop.

My dad was normally a very calm man, but this was no normal situation. Dad got out of the car and threw down the popcorn he had been holding in his lap. He went up to the engineer, and started yelling at him. You see, the engineer didn’t have the headlight turned on in the engine, and remember that it was a moonless night with limited lighting in the area.

The engineer insisted that it wasn’t his fault. The police were called, and a representative from the railroad showed up. They argued the matter back and forth, but even with the 4 people in my dad’s car insisting that the engine had no headlight on, the railroad wouldn’t step up and do the right thing. The accident was deemed my dad’s fault.

So, after a very frustrating investigation, the couples were cleared to go. They got back into the car, which was thankfully, ok to drive, and my dad started looking around. He searched for several minutes, and them my mom asked, “What are you looking for?” To which my dad answered, “My popcorn!!” They all began to laugh then and told him that he had thrown it on the ground when he got out of the car, because he was so mad at the engineer. You can imagine Dad’s surprise.  He simply didn’t remember throwing the popcorn down, because of the shock of the whole situation. It would be the one thing they could laugh about when they thought back on the train wreck.

For Mother’s Day, my mom often asks us to do the projects she has planned on over the year. It is a great way to get things done that she would otherwise have to pay someone to do. So, we pick out a weekend, and get the plans made, and on the chosen weekend, we all descend on Mom’s house.

This year’s projects consisted of spring cleaning her bedroom, re-painting trim on the house, planting her flowers and cleaning the yard, and building a deck. Seventeen people showed up to help, a pretty good crew. We have been doing this for several years now, but it always amazes me that that so many people can have a general plan, but no true foreman, and yet the as the jobs are laid out everyone steps up and gets started.

At first, it looks like total chaos, then maybe organized chaos, but then suddenly, the different projects begin to come together, and before you know it something amazing has happened. Seventeen people who don’t normally do this kind of work…who are everything from mechanics to teachers, students to insurance agents, in the medical field to police officers to those in the legal field…and yet today we were painters, gardeners, carpenters, housekeepers, and cooks, and that worked for us.

So, why do we do this and how is it that it works for us. Well, love can produce a multitude of talents that we didn’t really know existed. My mom wanted nothing more than to have her children all together. It wasn’t just about the projects, although those were important to her too, but she has always liked it when her children are together. The projects turned out great. And while we are not quite finished, we will be tomorrow, and for another year, we probably won’t all work on a big project. But Mother’s Day will roll around again, and new projects will be dreamed up.  And once again, we will all become weekend warriors, ready to tackle the jobs she needs done. It’s not a bad Mother’s Day gift, after all. And in reality, to her, it is the best gift ever. Having her children all together showing their love for her.

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