Emily’s birthday

twelve-years-old

Dear Emily,

Twelve cheers for you! You’re 12 today and, better yet, for the next 365 days too. Enjoy every second of this special age.
 

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daisy list for emily

 

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sisters, sisters

emily and dolphin

Emily holding baby Ian

Emily's happy talk

drama queen

emily's snow hug

you in my life

 

Oops! Did I just get a bit carried away or what? That’s what happens when you try to “play” on the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’…. had to come up with the twelve ways of Emily and, after all, you are twelve years old today so what is a Nana to do.

But… lest any of my other grandchildren feel a bit offended or left out by the length of this happy birthday greeting…. always know there is more to follow for all of you. The heart has infinite capacity for love and I love you all dearly and in so many more ways than even twelve.

To be continued!!

But… today is Emily’s day and I wish you a very happy birthday dear granddaughter of mine.

Love,
Nana

Birthday Wishes to Vicky

true friends

Most all of us have friends during stages of our lives but only lucky ones can say they’ve had the same friend through all stages of life. Okay… so we weren’t in one another’s lives during the earliest stages of childhood but once we met in high school there’s been no looking back on the friendship that Vicky and I have shared for over fifty years now.

a tale of two dresses

So here we are in our wedding dresses… me on the left in 1970 and Vicky on the right… one year later 1971

Ah but wait!

maid of honor 2 of us

There’s Vicky on the left in her maid of honor dress at my wedding and me in my wedding dress as her maid of honor.

Whew! Even I’m now thoroughly confused!!

Now mind you, as I recall…. this switching of the dresses from wedding to maid of honor and vice versa was not a calculated plan but rather an evolutionary process that just materialized when Vicky decided to wear that beautiful yellow dress which she had chosen to wear on my wedding day as her wedding dress when the time came a year later and then I decided why not? I’ll wear last year’s wedding dress for her big occasion. How many brides can say they wore their dress twice?

Here I am to say happy birthday to a dear friend and up pops all these wedding memories. But…as I was looking through pictures to find a proper memory to share for Vicky’s birthday day… these stood out amongst them all and memories just have a way of doing what they’re going to do.

Besides…. beautiful dresses as those were and… as smashing as we looked in them… those pictures and memories deserve preservation on this little blog of mine. Wouldn’t you agree?

And, for the sake of truthfulness and clarification…. much to my dismay and due to circumstances beyond my control at the time, Vicky was not “technically” my maid of honor on my wedding day. Except that in my heart then and now and always, she was and is and will be my maid of honor.

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And while we might bemoan seventy plus candles on the cake and the aging process just a little bit…. let’s definitely plan on being eighty together!!

Love,
Julie

Happy Birthday, Tanya

Has it been almost a decade ago now that we were introduced to Tanya?

Not long after her arrival in this country from her home in Moldova, she joined our family when she married our son and brother, John. Since then she has become a United States citizen and blessed us all with Micah and Ivy. I’ve so admired her courage and strength and love for her family over these past years.

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Not to mention that she is a terrific photographer who captures the joys of her children, family and friends in charmingly, delightfully wonderful pictures.

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So blow out a candle and….

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“This is my wish for you:

Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love,
Julie

big-sis-and-little-bro-bwIs one picture really worth a thousand words?

I wonder!

You might call us mid-century modern ’cause, if I’m guessing correctly,
we must have posed for this portrait… circa 1950?

So adorable we appear to be.
 
Well…actually, we were kinda cute!
 

North 71st

Two homes we shared! Both with 525 as the house number and both on hills… one more steep than the other!
(look carefully…. Mom and me up close to the house and toddler brother sitting on furthest top step looking towards us.)

let it snow

Whether meant as a metaphor for sibling relationships or not, this quote from Dylan Thomas speaks volumes for the ups and downs of the love/hate relationship that two siblings often share. And, no…. we never had tea after a snowball fight. More like cocoa in the warmth of our kitchen.

Decades and Decades ago, when I was a little girl… before birth control, before seat belts, multiple bathrooms, open concept, color tv and velcro (to name just a few) …. let alone internet and social media ….

“there was a little boy inside the man that is my brother….Oh, how I hated that little boy. And how I love him too.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Younger brother and older sister were we. Growing up, I silently cursed my parents for not giving me a little sister to play dress up with, to have imaginary tea parties with, and to share sisterly secrets with. Instead, I received a terror of a little brother who broke my crayons, decapitated my adorable baby dolls and seemed to steal away my mother’s time from me.

In all fairness, young children tend to think about love as a limited commodity: that is, parents have only so much of it and if you have to share it with more people, you’ll get less. And…I never was good at sharing! You were doomed from the start!! And in hindsight… Being just four years old, I probably would have been equally pissed off with a baby sister.

94th street

And then there was a second home where we spent most of our growing up years…

Doesn’t look like a terror of a brother now does he? Beautiful blonde haircut atop your sheepishly bent head and shy grin. Disarmingly fetching… bringing out the parental nurturing even in your big sis. But….were you being bashful and cute or coy because you’d just done something you knew was a no no. Yikes! There’s the cynical big sis coming out in me!

Wonder where we were going with those bouquets of flowers! Knowing you and your amazing memory dear brother Jim…. I just bet you can recall this picture and why we were carrying bouquets of flowers. Mother’s Day perhaps?

That’s what I mean about pictures being deceptive renditions of the actuality of life. Well.. that was deep! But, you get the picture. There was a lot going on in the growing up of Jim and Julie on 94th street.

But, through all of it…. the good, the bad and the ugly…

as much as siblings squabble when they are young, this is not a sign that they do not love each other. In fact, one of the biggest lessons learned in the growing up process is that we can feel terribly angry at people and then feel loving towards them again with no loss of intimacy.

You are an irreplaceable part of my childhood, brother.

Happy Birthday on this… your day of birth. I’ve been thinking about you a lot today. Can you tell?

Love from your big sis,

Julie

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elizabeth

  
Okay Miss “Lizzie Lu” (Shh! I always wanted to call you that but wasn’t sure how kindly you would take to my nickname…. so I decided to leave well enough alone.)

So, Miss Elizabeth…

This is one very belated birthday story! And Birthday Wish For You!!

Well…. don’t really have a story to tell because I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of the day you were born so many times already that I’d just be a boring re-tell… even though I do have a certain perspective that no one else could possibly have seen. So… someday you and I will have to share what your very real ‘birthday’ was like from my point of view. Until then, know that you were a joy and blessing to welcome into our family. The very first of my now seven grandchildren.

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Ah! But wait! A mere three months later and along comes blessing number two by the name of Ethan Jack. And you dear boy… I always thought you’d become an EJ and I was looking forward to the nickname.

But, alas!

Neither you nor Elizabeth ever got shortened into the category of nicknames. Perhaps just as well. Both of you have simply glorious given names. I can’t imagine calling either of you anything but Ethan and Elizabeth. So I was right in the first place by leaving well enough alone.

And, as with your cousin, Elizabeth, I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of the day you were born many times over. It was quite a coincidence, however, that you both decided to make your appearance into this world, and our lives, an entire month earlier than you were actually due to land… giving us all pause to worry just a bit!. But here you both are into your teen years and growing up all too fast for this Nana to adjust to.

So There!

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8792324 - back to school. green desk with school supplies.

You know that I just can’t resist a little bit of reflection!! Chalk it up to the teacher in me! (pun intended)

Not that I would have listened to any of these suggestions that I’m about to propose when I was fourteen but maybe you two will. If not this fourteenth year of your life, perhaps in years to come….

Dear Elizabeth and Ethan,

A friend of mine had dinner with her 28 year old granddaughter the other night. My friend was proud to tell me all about her granddaughter’s accomplishments as a graduate in the school of business and that she now has this amazing job with a great company here in town. It got me to thinking about the both of you and where you might be in fourteen years, and more importantly, how you will be in the world.

And, I shall state the obvious here…. a lot of that depends on you and the choices you make. There will be so much you can’t control in the coming years. But you can choose, in fact you have to choose, every single day who you’re going to be.

FOR EXAMPLE:

You can choose gratitude over thanklessness. “Let your heart be awakened to the transforming power of gratefulness.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

You can choose kindness over thoughtlessness. If you act from a compassionate place, you can change someone’s life. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama.

You can choose how you spend your time. Because how you spend your time really does end up being how you spend your life. It’s not about how you make a living so don’t worry about what you want to be when you grow up. Just decide who you want to be today!

You can choose to ask for help, support and the love that you really need, instead of pretending you can go it alone because you’re determined not to impose on anyone else. This bit of wisdom and advice comes directly from the heart of your Nana as, in this case, she admonishes you to do as she says… not as she has done in the past. “I get by with a little help from my friends.” ~ Ringo Starr

Are you nodding off yet?

‘Cause I, of course, could go on and on but I won’t. That’s enough pontificating for this journal entry.

Well, come to think of it!

As a connoisseur of the gourmet, I must add one more small but very important addition to my list of reflections on growing up…..

Don’t wait until you are forty to try mustard greens or swiss chard or other foods you think are weird. After all, Ethan, remember how much you liked your Mom’s green salad the other day at lunch? Who knew? And, if you hadn’t tried, you would never have known. And now your palate and menu choices have been broadened.

I’m so excited about the young man and young woman that you both are now and will become in the years hence. I can hardly wait to see you fourteen years from now.

“God willing and the creek don’t rise,” as a very wise and dear old friend used to say to me so often… let’s plan to meet for lunch. OK?

Just what delicious morsel will be ordered off the menu in fourteen years? I wonder!!

Love,
Nana

Ian's Seventh

rocking seven

 

I spent a little time doing some research on why turning seven years old is so important. Mind you, I do have plenty of my own thoughts on the subject but…. what the heck! A little research never hurt any journal entry which Nana is about to write! Right?

Look what I stumbled upon:

7-YEAR-OLD BOY DISCOVERS NEW SPECIES OF DINOSAUR

Bringing your kids to work has its benefits.

Seven-year-old Diego Suarez was playing outside with his sister while his parents, both geologists, studied rock formations in the Andes in southern Chile. As they were playing, Suarez uncovered a fossilized dinosaur bone, which turned out to belong to a previously unknown species.

Paleontologists called to the site eventually discovered bones from more than a dozen dinosaurs, including four near-complete skeletons, The Guardian reports. The scientists named the species Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, after its location and the boy who discovered it. Most of the Chilesaurus remains are from animals roughly the size of turkeys, though the species could reach almost 10 feet in length.
The Week
Apr 27, 2015 –

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Diego’s dinosaur had many features in common with carnivorous dinosaurs, but it did not conform to type. Its small head and leaf-shaped teeth were like those of a plant eater, researchers report in this week’s Nature.

“It’s like a T. rex that’s been shrunk but not shrunk equally,” says Pete Makovicky, an associate curator and dinosaur specialist at The Field Museum in Chicago. “This animal would’ve looked more silly than fearful … more similar to an ostrich than to T. rex.”

~Traci Watson, Special for USA TODAY April 27, 2015

I’ll say it again!

Welcome to the 7-year-olds society! 7-year olds rock!

So, dear Ian…..look at this birthday as your own personal NEW YEAR! What do you want to do this year? What will you learn? Where will you go? Remember that you are very special, and so is your life. Spend this year exploring the world around you and finding out the what, where and why to new questions.

Not that you’re likely to discover any new dinosaur bones but I’m sure there’s something out there that’s exciting and new for you to stumble upon. Perhaps next time you visit we can build a new magformer dinosaur and give it a name.

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Something like this perhaps? Or, is this a horse? I just know you’ll be smart enough for both of us and can help Nana figure it out. After all, you’ve amazed me so many times with your magformer skills that it will be fun to try a new project.

 
 

And, last but certainly not least….. SEVEN is a ‘lucky’ number and the most popular number all over the world. So this year remember that you’re a very ‘lucky’ kid. Take a chance or two and become South Kitsap’s best seven year old soccer player! How’s that for a goal?

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Happy Birthday, Ian.
With much love from,

Nana

pluviophile

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“Umbrellas are fine but where are your boots, Julie?” my mother’s voice rang out. “Those yellow boots that we just bought for rainy days like today. Stay out of the puddles, please, until we find your boots. That means no wading, no jumping and certainly no splashing!!”

And that means no fun for me until I can find those boots! I looked everywhere! Under the bed, in the closet, over the porch railing, in-between my dresser and the wall…. but no boots!

Looking at my ‘umbrella and me’ picture brought back the memory of my mother’s admonition and I suddenly realized that I now know exactly how Gossie (a yellow gosling) felt when she lost her bright red boots.
Gossie

 

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But… that was then and this is now!

And, at long last… it’s raining!

Most disappointment lands on those who are looking forward to the sun rising, as promised by the weather person, only to wake up to raindrops falling overhead. For a certain minority of beleaguered pluviophiles,
the opposite is true.

As for me, I’m among that beleaguered minority. For days now, I’ve been teased with the promise of at least some showers but only ‘partly’ cloudy skies greet me in the morning. And, those clouds hadn’t yet reached enough saturation to let loose and rain down upon us.

Until today, that is!

So when the mere uttering of the word ‘pattering’ gets me all aflutter, you can only imagine my contented happiness (as unreasonable as it seems) when I awake to the very real sounds of pattering raindrops against the skylights. I feel safe! I feel sound! Not only do I have the comfort of my down blanket…. now I have the comfort of a rainy day.

While a weeping gray sky denotes gloominess to others, nirvana doesn’t seem an over-exaggeration of my state of well-being when it rains. After all, in Chinese medicine, rain is very yin… symbolizing the internal, the feminine and the unknown. A rainy day is a perfect excuse to stay home, comfortable and warm inside….to go within and be quiet.

I stretch and pull the comforter tighter around me, as I contemplate all the possibilities for this wonderful rainy day. It suddenly dawns on me that I don’t have to get out of this very bed on any time restriction. Unlike the delight of the ‘flashback child’ in me who couldn’t wait to get outside and splash around in puddles, age has forced some common sense and brought greater appreciation for indoor inactivity, including sleeping in.

I’ll wait until winds are reduced to a whisper, telling me the rains have stopped before I venture out to appreciate one of my favorite (unbottled) scents of all time “after rain” or, as Bill Nye the Science Guy would call it, “petrichor.”

Then again, I could just open a window or two!

Petrichor…. perhaps a new word for today’s vocabulary list? Petrichor is what science calls the aroma given off after a rain storm and is a combination of aerosols and bacteria that are released. When raindrops hit the ground, they form bubbles that float upward and when they burst in the air that delightful, soothing, fresh scent comes along for the ride.

There you have it! A major digression which should become my middle name, as I’ve become so good at it.

“Cause I have yet to decide how to spend this rainy day. As I’m afforded the luxury of not having to go to work today, there are so many delicious possibilities… so let’s make the most of some of them. With dark gray skies comes the lighting of candles. While waiting for the teakettle to boil, the orchestration of raindrops against the kitchen window is soothing but the delight of studying their descent as they race downward to the window sill’s finish line can be wonderfully entertaining.

With a warm cup of tea in hand, do I shower or indulge in a hot bath? Once dry, dressed in my favorite sweats, do I binge watch my new favorite Netflix series or curl up with a good book or come to my journal here and write away? Guess what I chose for now, anyway? Let’s hope that along with a steady downpour of rain, comes a steady downpour of creative writing.

Yes, I have to admit it; I do love it when it rains. Between creative bursts, I can look over my shoulder at the window behind me and just watch and listen all day…. oh, but I must leave enough time later today to cook that new chicken pot pie soup recipe I found in the latest issue of Food and Wine. Yum!!

I simply cannot comprehend why people complain about rain… let alone live in this small corner of the world and have disdain for rain. It’s so beautiful, relaxing, and allows you to just be…. whether it’s with yourself, your family or friends…..’cause there’s a rare but certain bliss that comes along with the luxury of a day to just be.

So, how about you dear darling little granddaughter of mine? Have you been at all persuaded to love a rainy day?

 

Ivy's rainy day