Remembering my grandparents

As I held and rocked one of the twins (9 month old boys!) today, I started feeling such strong love and emotion. These grandbabies, and my 3 year old granddaughter, are so very precious to me.

It brought back memories of my own grandparents, and what they did to have a relationship with us. It was back in the 60’s and 70’s and they lived 2000 miles away – no internet, no cell phones, no social media.

I was born in California, near San Francisco. My father’s parents lived about 40 miles away, in Sonoma, where he was raised. From what I gather, they were very involved with their three granddaughters. I was the middle sister, and when we were five, two, and six months old, my father’s company transferred him to Houston, Texas. This was in 1959. They packed us all up and drove us all that way. I imagine my older sister and I in the back seat, loose, and my mother holding the baby. Glad we all survived.

Anyway, looking at it from the grandparent’s view, it must have been pretty difficult. But it seems that they made the best of it.

Every summer we would meet them somewhere between here and there for a great camping vacation. The most memorable one for me was somewhere in Arizona, where we camped for a month and my father broke his leg.

When I was about 12, my parents went to Europe and Grandma Mae and Grandpa Howard, as we called them, and their dog Mike, came and stayed with us for 6 weeks! When I think about that- wow, I’m impressed! They would have been in their early sixties, and took on us girls plus my then 4-year-old brother. I’m sure we drove them up the wall, but I have only good memories of that time. Except for having to eat boiled squash.  I am exhausted after 2 days with my granddaughter, so no doubt they were VERY happy to see my parents. I remember going to the airport to meet them. Good times.

Long distance phone calls weren’t cheap, but I think they called us about every month or so, and I remember the excitement of knowing that Grandma and Grandpa were on the phone. We’d take our turns on the extension in my parents bedroom and talk for maybe two minutes apiece. I have no idea what we talked about, but the memory of sitting on my parents’ bed talking to Grandma brings a sweet thrill of love to my heart.

They’d always send us presents for our birthdays and for Christmas. I still have a book they sent for my sixth birthday, Happiness is a Warm Puppy, with characters from the comic strip Peanuts. I treasure it now simply because it brings warm memories of my grandma.

They would come and visit us occasionally, too, in between camping trips. I think they did a lot of traveling around the country after Grandpa retired, and they pulled a travel trailer behind their car. At least once they parked it in our driveway and stayed awhile.

This picture was probably taken around the time of the trip to Europe. That’s me in the hideous blue glasses.


Now that I’m a grandparent, I get it. It’s quite possible that I may experience long distance grandparenting in the future, and I know it will be much easier for me to keep in touch than it was for them. I am so glad they made the effort that they did. I hope Hazel, Hudson, and Sebastian (and any future grands) remember me as fondly as I remember Grandma Mae and Grandpa Howard.


7 things I learned from raising 7 children

1. Love multiplies

2.Mistakes will be made

3. Spanking doesn’t work

4. Everyone is unique from birth

5. It’s better to minimize toys and “stuff”

6. Pick your battles

7. You have to let them go.


Here’s 7 more:

1. Some children bite, and won’t stop til they grow out of it no matter what you do.

2. Some children will do anything to conquer all obstacles

3. Some children are dreamers

4. Some children ask questions about everything

5. Some children are born comedians.

6. Some children are born with heartache.

7. All children are gifted.

image (16)My oldest is 36, my youngest just turned 20. And there are really 5 in between. While they were small, and my life was busy with their needs, I was often overwhelmed. Now that they are all grown, I look back on the years and they flew by. I am very grateful for each one, and for what I learned from having them in my life.

What have you learned from your children?

Iowa Day 3

My sleep wasn’t as sound as the previous night, and the couch seemed lumpier. I’m not sure if the gray of dawn woke me, or the rattle of the freight train. The sound of a train is unique.. after it passes by, there is a trail of sound that follows, fading into a low sigh.

I enjoyed some quiet time, then fixed a breakfast of stewed apples and fried eggs. The temperature was in the upper 60’s and lacking the humidity of back home, so I took a morning walk down to the water tower and back. I love experiencing new places on foot – there is always so much to see that is often missed in a car. Discoveries today included a very realistic statue of a dog in a flower garden and a front yard that was completely converted into a vegetable garden.  I wonder about the people behind the walls, each with their unique experience.

I walk past a school and a cemetery on my left, and apartment buildings on my right. I see maple trees, lots of evergreen trees, a chipmunk! and the water tower, which is one of those great ones with legs that you can stand under. The grass in the field is the soft kind, that I would have loved to lie down in and roll around in. The dampness of it kept me from making a spectacle of myself!

The rest of the morning was spent visiting Rachel’s good friend Christi and her three daughters – a 4-year-old and identical twin 2-year-olds. Rachel is their godmother, and they were very happy to see her. One of the little ones even warmed up to me. I had seven children, but can’t imagine the energy it would take to have two babies at once! I enjoyed the drive there and back through Iowa’s famous farmland, and the visit was fun and relaxing.

After another lunch in a cafe called The Cafe, I took Rachel home to take care of some business things she needed to attend to, and set off on my own. My destination: Reiman Gardens on the University of Iowa Campus. My favorite part of the place was the small butterfly observatory, the most plentiful and very beautiful butterfly being what I later identified as the common blue morpho.

I enjoyed an afternoon walk through the gardens but it was a bit early in the season for flowers, and it got very warm, up near 80. The most interesting thing I found there was a statue of “the world’s largest gnome”!

I went back to the Main Street area to see if I’d missed any good stores there, and found Random Goods, which I highly recommend if you like vintage clothes and jewelry. They had other odds and ends of old dishes and miscellaneous, too, and I bought a bracelet, a scarf, and several tops, for less than $15 total! I love vintage stores and clothes!

I made one more stop – Wheatsfield Cooperative, the natural food store. I wanted to see if I could find a healthy snack for the plane ride, and I found it. They have a wonderful bulk section, and I was like a kid in a candy store. Only the fact that I have one small suitcase kept me in check! I got cashews, chocolate chips, and cranberries to make my own trail mix, and a small bag of loose licorice root for tea.

I certainly got in plenty of walking today, which is something I want to keep doing when I get back home, in preparation for my Montana trip in two and a half weeks! It was nice to get back to Rachel and just hang out for the rest of the evening. I had had such a large lunch that I opted for tea and toast for supper, and enjoyed the Chocolate Peppermint tea that I had picked up along my journeys.

We wrapped up the evening with Starship Troopers, which neither of us had seen. Both of us enjoy sci-fi, and I especially like the cheesy type. This movie, made in 1997, is based on a 1959 Robert Heinlein book. I was an avid Heinlein fan back in the 60’s and 70’s, and the movie was well-done and enjoyable. The best kind of movies are the ones that make you laugh and also have scary tense moments, and this one didn’t let me down.

Settling down for my last night here, a light rain was falling, the freight trains kept running, and I felt a deep sense of satisfaction.