sadie & santa’s workshop

img_2066-e1535148049488.jpgOn Wednesday, Sadie turned four and a half. The concept for an all-in adventure (but neither presents nor party) half-way through each grand’s year is new but they have quickly caught on. Sadie has eagerly anticipated her turn since we launched celebrations with Oliver’s five and a half in July.  Rosie is already on record with a request for February!

Sadie agreed on the destination: Santa’s Workshop at North Pole, NY. She doesn’t like car rides but was sold by the website depicting mechanical rides. The Hubs and I were somewhat apprehensive about a long drive with six preschoolers.  Continue reading sadie & santa’s workshop

five and a half

On Monday our eldest grandchild turned five and a half. That gives me pause. “Slow down,” I plead silently. “Don’t grow so fast.” I should know how chids grow, having raised three of them. Even faster now, with so many activities and more intense schedules. I don’t like it one bit.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about this phenomena and lit on the concept of “half birthdays.” Frankly, I never really got it. Suddenly it made perfect sense. Take time to celebrate mid-year, just because. Winter in the North Country sets some limits. It’s cool that two of our six grands can enjoy a summer “birthday” this way. Oliver is first up!

Continue reading five and a half

she farms

#SheFarms Series

she farms | refining fire | milk bath morning | silos away!
second sleep | big cows | dill pickle proudspirit of bart
blue ribbon day | triumph over trials

One of my greatest joys as “GiGi” has been helping our grandchildren learn to appreciate the farm. Even as preschoolers, they are eager to help out when given a chance. One by one, they’ve found their way to the calf barn in the last few weeks to lend a hand.

Henry and Sadie proudly show the others what is what in calf feeding protocol. Rosie and Oliver join in the action. Anna “Beasy” uses the same voice as with her baby sister, “Hello, baby moo-cow!” She crinkles her nose and meets them eye-to-eye with her beguiling smile. They are so adorable; it’s almost too much cuteness to contain. Their great-grandparents and dairy farm founders, Lloyd and Betty, would be proud.

Continue reading she farms

stepping stones

IMG_1545This summer I resolved to take advantage of newfound flexibility and spare time to Get. Stuff. Done. What a list of projects! I’ve been putting most off since we moved into our new home two years ago. I wasn’t looking forward to the work. Ugh. Staining treated lumber is my least favorite chore. But one project I was enthused about: mosaic stepping stones.

Even so, I procrastinated, not sure how to accomplish my vision. There are at least dozen different ways you might create stepping stones, as a bit of research will reveal. I’m not going to try to fool you. I didn’t know what I was doing. Inching along, step by step and hardware store by store, I figured it out.

Continue reading stepping stones

easter eggcitement

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This Easter was simply fun — more so than any I can remember in a long time.  Of course, it comes down to the chids. This was the first year the grands were of an age to enjoy the sweet and silly side of a beloved spring holiday. Each of them knew the Easter bunny was coming!

Henry received his Easter basket a few days early, before traveling to visit his Nana. He came tromping into my bedroom early that morning, proudly displaying his bright blue tin bucket of treats and toys. “Look, GiGi. It’s my Easter!” He guarded that bucket like a doberman until it was time to load in the car. Before he left, he warned me sternly not to eat his treats while he was away.

Midweek we visited Ollie and Sadie and took along some plastic eggs for an inside activity. They happily retrieved their Easter baskets and took up the hunt, delighted with any new game involving hiding and seeking, Oh, my mercy! I’d no idea a plastic egg was such a prize. It’s a good thing there were an even number to split between them.

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After church with Henry and Anna and a delicious dinner with the whole crew, it was egg hunting time. The grands thrilled to the challenge, tearing off across a scruffy-brown but mostly dry yard — quite a novelty in late March in the North Country, to say nothing of the balmy 65-degree day. Baby Anna Beasy was content to watch the action as adults scrambled to keep up with chids scampering along in pursuit of brightly colored hollow eggs filled with all sorts of small treasures. Rosie, youngest of the mobile grands, carried a basket half her size with dogged determination. She was in it to win it!

I had a sudden flashback, Easter, circa 1972. My sisters and I were decked out in new Easter dresses, white socks, shiny shoes. Department store Easter-wear was inexplicably inappropriate for frost zone 3 but we braved the spring chill to find a couple dozen hard-boiled eggs dyed in a beautiful array of pastel blends and tucked into nooks and crannies around the yard and outbuildings at our grandparents’ home in Belleville. We never found them all but Grandpa did, by the tell-tale smell of rotten egg as he mowed the lawn weeks later. Was that one special Easter or an annual tradition?  Such is the way of childhood memories.

When all the eggs were safely in a basket and only last fall’s apples remained on the ground, the grands moved on to digging and sliding in the sand pile, cuffs and pockets quickly filling, or swinging on the swing set, nearly falling asleep, before bouncing off to the bounce house, sock feet becoming damp and brown. It know it’s unreasonable to expect they’ll remember this sweet slice of family life but somehow, I hope they do.

~ René Morley


anna beatrice

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On October 26, a sweet cherub joined the family. She is our fifth grandbaby and third grandgirl. Her name is Anna Bea. She is an itty bitty girl, weighing in at 6 pounds 12 ounces and only 18.5 inches long, but healthy as can be. In fact, her mama said she was wailing even before they lifted her from the womb in surgery. (I’m sure that’s why her Apgar scores were so high!) By all accounts so far, she is an easy baby. If these early days are any indication, she is destined to sweetness.

IMG_2903Anna Beatrice was welcomed home by big brother Henry James, who is quite proud to call her sister. If I am holding her as they are getting ready to go out somewhere, he is quick to tell me, “Don’t keep her, GiGi.” He likes to hold her himself and is generally quite sweet with her. Of course, he is also two year old boy who doesn’t fully appreciate the potential impact of a digger or a dump truck, so we keep a close watch.

Anna Beatrice is named for my mom’s only and elder sister. My Aunt Bea is beloved by the entire family and a blessing to anyone who knows her. However, it wasn’t until she and my uncle moved to back to our area, early in their retirement and in my early 30s, that I truly got to know them. They lived with us for three months as they were purchasing a home and settling into the North Country, which says a lot about their fortitude. For nearly two decades thereafter, they lived just a few miles away. I am so thankful for that time we had with them.

It was a wonderful but chaotic season in our lives, raising three young children on a shoestring budget and some big dreams. On numerous occasions when I was strapped for childcare, trying to complete my education or establish my career, Aunt Bea stepped into the gap. I don’t know how I (we) would have done it without her and my uncle’s ready assistance.

The Hubs and I will never forget our first cruise, which originated in Aruba in 1992. We left our chids, ages 6, 7 and 9, behind with Aunt Bea and Uncle Chuck. It was no small task but the chids were in great hands as we enjoyed our first real vacation and celebrated our 10th anniversary. As a grandparent now, I have even greater appreciation for what we asked of them then. Typical for a young-ish parent, I didn’t think a whole lot about it at the time. I am amazed they were willing and so generous!

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When Anna was born, Aunt Bea and Uncle Chuck were celebrating their birthdays together in Aruba. Talk about full circle! (We also celebrated earlier this fall in Florida.) It was pure joy to send good news of Anna’s arrival almost to the equator on my aunt’s 80th birthday. It blessed me immensely to announce the wee lass who bears my aunt’s name. Somehow, I just know Anna Bea will grown into the kind of woman who will make both her GiGi and her Great-Great-Aunt Bea proud. I can’t wait for them to meet!

~ René Morley

sticky-sweet and rosie

DSC_0475This week there is no reprieve from the heat and humidity, morning to noon to night. It is oppressive. It’s tempting to complain, home air conditioning being a luxury in our northern region. But I am secretly glad for a solid week of sticky sweet and mushy heat. Like melted butter on sweetcorn or toasted marshmallows on s’mores: at least we know we had summer.

Soon enough, temps will drop sharply after midnight, dew will lay heavily on the grass and a chill will hang in the morning air. I’ve already heard a couple flocks of geese flying over. We know autumn is not far away. Today I will savor summer.

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This summer has been full to the brim with sticky sweet memories — farms and playgrounds, birthdays and weddings, mountains and valleys, visiting with dear friends and family, farm-fresh produce and patio barbecues. Oh, how the grandchids love their sweetcorn! Henry really goes for s’mores, too. (That’s his special “smile for the camera” face above. 🙂

The most perfect day of all was in celebration of Rose Elizabeth: her first birthday and Jewish naming ceremony. In deference to her parents’ preferences, I did not publish my typical “grandgirl is here!” post in early August last year when she was born. But today I cannot resist telling you a little bit more about Rosie.

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Rose is a joy. She is so capable, confident and eager to take on new challenges — surprisingly so, for such a tiny little toddler. Her naming ceremony and first birthday party were precious reminders of the importance of traditions in faith and in family. Generations of parents, aunts, uncles and cousins of both Jewish and Christian faith joined in to celebrate this precious cherub.

This was my first experience with the ceremony, which was just lovely. It was a special and unexpected honor to pray a blessing over Rosie as her GiGi and Pops on that day.

We rejoice ! A child is being brought into the covenant of the Jewish people   May she be blessed in her every act.  May she find light and happiness in each new day and may she bring joy to her parents with each new experience.
May your life be filled with unconditional love.  May you always know that your family cherishes you and values you not only for your achievements, but because you are a unique and beautiful human being whose love we are privileged to share.
Gift of God, precious child, miracle, my little one.  Lay your head on my shoulder.  It seems that it was yesterday that I held your daddy in my arms just this way.  You are a sweet blessing to me, a tiny messenger of joy.  Welcome to this magnificent life.  
May God grace you with all things that are good and shield you from all harm.  May the bonds of our family be your strength.  
May our love be your comfort.  
May our faith sustain you.  
May God be with you now and always.

I’ll treasure this sweet memory forever.

~ René Morley