Hat-making on a wing and a prayer!

June 18, 2010

Coco, Lulu and Mimi are visiting this week and I wanted to take them to my favorite tea room.  So, I thought it might add to the fun of it if I made them hats to wear for the occasion.

First, we went out and found a sun dress that they each liked to wear to the tea room.  Then we would try to make the hats coordinate with their dresses.

I made the hats out of wrapping paper.  They chose which two papers to use, and which ribbon and flowers to add to their hat.

Mimi was my guinea pig.  I cut a piece from each of the two papers to makes the hat.  (I learned after hers to also trim them into a round shape first thing.  With hers, I had to deal with alot of extra paper that I trimmed off as I went.)

Because Mimi’s was the first I had made in a long time, it was very much trial and error.

I needed Hubby to help me by holding the paper down over the crown of their head while I used the masking tape to make the “bowl” of the hat.   (By the third one I decided to try scotch tape because it was a challenge to cover the masking tape with ribbon so that it didn’t show.  I would definitely use scotch tape next time.  It was sturdy enough to do the job.)

My solution to all the extra paper I was dealing with on this one is that I rolled the edge and hot glued it down.  My answer to not getting the masking tape totally covered was …

… lots of flowers, a bow and a butter fly.

After dealing with all that paper on the first one, I got smart and used two pencils and a piece of string to make circles of paper to use on the other two.  It made life alot easier.  Here is the beginning of Coco’s.

One thing I learned from Mimi’s was to make the bowl of the hat deeper on the other two so that they would stay on better.

Coco’s completed.

Coco loved the big, black rose (which was actually an old pin I had worn on a suit), so we added the butterfly on it to “lighten it up”.

Ah, the beginning of the last hat, Lulu’s.  This one profited from the “experimenting” I had done on the other two.  Two big pre-cut circles of paper and a deep crown of the hat held with scotch tape!  BTW, I put a glue dot between the two papers in each case, right in the middle, so that they didn’t try to come apart while I was working with them.

It bugged me that I couldn’t make the crown of the hats smooth.  So on Lulu’s I suggested flowers all over the crown.  I really liked the way that turned out!

As a finishing touch, I put a dot of the hot glue every few inches around the edge of Coco and Lulu’s hats to hold the two pieces of paper together.

Tomorrow the girls in their hats and dresses for a visit to the tea room.

I need 28 hours in a day!

June 15, 2010

I started to say, “I need 26 hours in a day!” and then I thought, “What would I do with the extra hours?” and my answer to myself (I do that alot) was, “Sleep!”.  So as long as we are adding extra sleep time, let’s not skimp!

DD’s three girls are here this week and, as much as I enjoy them, they are the reason I would love to have some extra sleep.  I am exhausted!

We picked them up Sunday afternoon, and the speed of our lives immediately increased dramatically.  Yesterday morning, the girls and I shopped for sun dresses for them to wear to the tea room, then they swam and played on the slip and slide and Papa took them for boat rides.  Later we went to Cinema Grille to see Karate Kid and eat dinner with our friends Linda and Doug.  When we got home from there, Coco, Mimi and I went shopping for some extra “stuff” to help us make hats for them to wear to the tea room.  (Lulu had chosen to stay home with Papa.  When we got back from shopping Hubby told me that Lulu had gotten lonesome, and he was here!  Let’s face it, he’s just not as much fun as the rest of us!)

Today, we all go to the science museum first, but then we make hats (Papa is thankful he’s not necessary for this activity).

Hectic, but I wouldn’t miss these times for the world.

Pictures of hat-making to come!

Fun times go fast!

March 24, 2010


Nikki and Jay were here last week for their spring break, and we had a great time.  We went to Cinema Grille twice! (Alice in Wonderland received good reviews from all of us — Diary of a Wimpy Kid, not so much, but I thought it was cute!  Although, it was typical middle school humor, i.e., gross at times.)

    Hubby and Jay went to the gym every day.

    And Nikki and I went to the gym one day too.

    But then we thought, “Hmmm.  There has to be a way to get our exercise without sweating!”

    Soooo, we came up with a brilliant solution — we got our exercise the rest of the week by shopping! … and getting haircuts and …

   … making cake balls!  I made the balls — she dipped and decorated them.  Didn’t she do a great job?

      At the end of dinner one night, something we talked about reminded Hubby of a couple of  harmonicas he had in the back of a drawer, so he got them out to give to Nikki and Jay.  But while Nikki finished eating, Hubby and Jay teamed up to “serenade” her on the harmonicas.  (Well, when I really think about it, it was more like “dueling banjoes” than a serenade!)

   We all laughed alot.

   But even though Hubby got out the harmonicas as a joke, Jay immediately began to produce some actual music with his!  Hubby has never had music lessons and doesn’t like to sing, but he has always been musical.  He can whistle beautifully and has always been able to sit down at a piano and play or play a tune on a harmonica.  And as fast as Jay took to the harmonica, I would guess he has inherited some of that same ability.

   I took this on the morning we were leaving to take them back for the “hand-off” to Gunny in St. Louis.  They had just gotten up, can you tell?  While Hubby packed the car, I suggested the three of us take a short walk just to give our legs a good stretch before beginning that long ride in the car.

   We walked part way around the lake and there were signs of spring everywhere …

   When we crossed a bridge, we looked down and saw tiny fish passing underneath.

   A couple of ducks were on a roof top, probably looking for a good place to build a nest.  (Oh oh, I think they’re looking toward our house.  There is a spot near our front door where, even when we try to discourage it, a mama duck makes a nest every year!)

   As soon as we returned, it was time for them to go home.   

Just one short week out of a whole year that we spend with just the two of them.  I hope we have given them some good memories, because they have definitely given us many!

Time really does fly when you’re having fun — especially with two people you love very much.

A Grandparenting Paradox

March 16, 2010


When grandchildren come to stay for a while, it feels a little like Hubby and I are trying to jump on a moving train!  Life suddenly gets hectic and moves at a much faster pace.  So, we have to “run” to get “up to speed”.

Nikki (16) and Jay (15) are here for their spring break and we are busy.  It brings back memories from when we had teenage children at home — never enough hours in the day.  Things that you just don’t get to do, because there just isn’t enough time

So on the one hand, all this activity makes me feel like there is a plug in my side that holds in my energy reserves and that it has suddenly been removed and all of my energy has drained out!  (We sleep like the dead!) 

But on the other hand, having teenagers in the house brings us a different, fresh energy that is exciting.  “What’s for dinner?”  “Do I have time to get a haircut?”  “We want to work out.  Can we go to the gym?”  “Yeah, I’ve wanted to see that movie!  It’s at Cinema Grille?  All the better!”  . . . cell phones, texting, hair issues, teen fashion, favorite food requests.  Whewww.

We’ll get our old energy back after they leave and we get back to our routine. 

But during this week they are here, we’ll just enjoy living in the aura of young, fun energy that fills every corner of our space right now.

We love you Nikki and Jay!

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Christmas weekend in pictures . . .

December 29, 2009

 . . . with a few words thrown in.

   Like a kitten mesmerized by a dangling string, I’m drawn to the sight of dancing flames, sparkling lights . . .

    . . . and twinkling smiles!  DD and her girls arrived late afternoon on Christmas Day and left Sunday afternoon.

  But before they arrived, we were guests for Christmas day dinner at Candy and Johns’.

    Sometimes you “eat” and then sometimes you “dine”.   And the food and the company were as wonderful as the table was beautiful.  Thank you Candy and John!

Soon after we returned home, DD and her girls arrived.

That evening we exchanged gifts and just enjoyed being together.

         The youngest gift-giver, Mimi, gave me a very interesting gift.   Can you guess what it is?

            — it’s a very warm and cozy little muff with an ice scraper inside!

        I went to the garage to test it.  Perfect!  While I’m scraping my windshield, my hand will stay toasty warm.  I’ve never had one of those, but I know it will be very useful!

         This was my early morning breakfast on Saturday morning (as compared to my second breakfast that I ate hours later with my family!) eaten while admiring  gifts from my grandchildren (including the placemats!).

       When everyone else got up, we had bagels and cream cheese with the wonderful homemade grape jelly our next door neighbors Belinda and Mike gave us.  It is absolutely delicious.  If this were the grape jelly they served in restaurants, no one would ever ask for some other spread for their toast!

After breakfast, DD, Mimi and I went shopping to spend the money gift Mimi had received at her favorite store — the Disney Store.  She bought a glittery princess gown with matching crown, shoes and wand.  The key word there is glittery!  Let’s just say, even after a good going-over with the sweeper, our house still “sparkles”!  But, she looked darling in it (I can’t believe I didn’t think to take a picture of that!) and enjoyed it, so that’s what counts.  The little bit of glitter residue is temporary . . . the memories are forever.

When we returned from shopping, we all went to Cinema Grille for dinner and the Chipmunks movie.  Mimi wore her whole new outfit, including the wand, which she did understand had to be turned off during the movie.  I imagine, with her looking like a princess as she arrived at the theater, we must have looked like her serfs just tagging along behind.

I can also imagine that when the employees went to clean up the theater afterwards, they must have wondered at the sprinkles of “fairy dust” here and there.

         Next week is the birthday of the little giver of ice scrapers/princess.  So, when we returned home from the movie, and she changed into more dealing-with-food-approprite clothes, she supervised while I baked her a chocolate cake, her favorite.  And then she decorated it.  (Why yes, she had just drank some red fruit punch.  How did you guess?)

       It’s obvious she is her Nana’s girl (besides our shared love of “sparkle”) — she loves lots of color just like Nana does too!    She was very proud of how it turned out and said she thought it looked like stars and fireworks.  I think so too!

     On Sunday, we went out for lunch and then came back to the house to have birthday cake (and, of course, to give Mimi our presents, which I had bought at the Disney Store while her mom shopped with her over in the “sparkle” section) before they left for home.

      Then it began to snow in earnest and the forecast predicted more, so it was time for DD and the girls to leave.

   Already buckled into your seat in the back of Mom’s car, and then realize you didn’t get to kiss Papa good-bye?  Not a problem.  Papa will find a way to get to you for that good-bye kiss!

   Papa’s “little girl” made sure she got her good-bye kiss too!

    And they were off for their four hour drive home, which they completed safely.

That evening, after the snow quit, Hubby went out to plow and I went out to take some pictures.

   He worked . . .

    . . . while I played.  The neighborhood lights are lovely at night. 

   There are two of these concrete urns flanking the garage door that faces the street.  I put geraniums in them in the summer, but they look somewhat “naked” in the winter. 

   But about a month ago I saw this suggestion in an article on outdoor decorating — you put an evergreen wreath on top of an urn and put a big Christmas ball in the middle.  It was easy to do and I like the way our seasonally drab urns look “dressed up” for Christmas.

A fun weekend with friends and family.  I hope yours was the same.

While grandchildren visit, life changes!

December 26, 2009



Dear Readers, Commenters and Lurkers,

You know I love you guys, right?

But DD and her three girls got here on Christmas Day and will be here for the weekend.  And, as much as I love my readers, grandchildren take love to a whole new level!

So, have a wonderful weekend.  I know we will.  And we can meet here again on Monday, okay?

And, in the meantime, maybe we’ll run into each other at the Chipmunks movie or out shopping for a good deal!

Love, Sandra

“Today I am a man.”

December 11, 2009


   The three wrestlers about a year ago.  Jay is about 5 inches taller now.

Because we’ve been married 44 years, there aren’t too many things I don’t know about Hubby.  So, it was interesting  last week to be on the phone with him and Gunny and listen to them talking about their wrestling experiences in high school, sparked by the fact that Jay, Gunny’s son and our only grandson, has just started wrestling as a freshman (on varsity! — the proud Nana said).

Gunny said that he remembered his first “pin” (win).  It was a guy who had beaten him the first time they competed.  He said achieving that “first” was almost as much fun as seeing the shocked look on the other kid’s face that Gunny had beaten him this time.

Hubby surprised me when he said he remembered that first win for Gunny too.  Gosh, I think I went to most of Gunny’s wrestling matches, but I honestly don’t remember much about them.  But, I guess it’s okay because apparently Hubby remembers Gunny’s wrestling experience much better than I do.  Probably because I never wrestled!

Then Hubby told us about his first win in wrestling, which I don’t remember ever hearing before.  He said that when he walked back to the team bench, apparently he must have looked pretty proud of himself because the coach smiled at him and said “Today, I am a man.”  A funny but nice tease about his obvious pride but also an acknowledgement of his achievement.  

And now last night Jay called to tell us that he had had his first “pin”!  A milestone in his life that he wanted to share with both of us, but especially Grandpa.

“Today, I am a man.”

Call me Nana

November 16, 2009


When I was a little girl almost every grandmother I knew was called “Grandma something“.  I say almost because Mama’s mother chose to be called Mom Browning by everyone, including her grandchildren.  I remember asking why that was the case and being told that she didn’t want to be called “Grandma” because it made her feel old.  I don’t know if that was really her reason, but I do know that it was considered unusual to not call her “Grandma”, at least in our family.

But then I met someone who widened my view of the world by letting me see a totally different way of life than my own Midwestern one, giving me many new experiences that I would remember for the rest of my life, and changing many of my notions along the way about “how things are done” … including what grandmas are called.

 I was 7 or 8 years old when I met the fascinating Page who was marrying my brother.  She dazzled this little Midwestern girl in many ways, not the least of which was that she was pretty … slim and tan with dark hair and eyes and a soft, husky voice that always sounded like she was smiling.   (Can you hear a smile?  I thought I could.)  She was 19 or 20 years old when I met her and she lived with her family in a big house in California, with a swimming pool in the back yard!  I had never known anyone with their own swimming pool.  And I even got to swim in it! 

And she took me for my first ride in a convertible on a California freeway.  The combination of riding in a convertible for the first time and on a multiple lane highway with lots of cars whizzing by, all done with the (in my eyes) glamorous Page doing the driving in a very chic big straw hat with a scarf-like attachment to tie under the chin and big sunglasses (very 50’s chic, ala Audrey Hepburn), is all indelibly etched into my memory. 

Even her name charmed me.  To me, Page just sounded so sophisticated and so different than all the Peggy’s and Barbara’s and Susie’s I knew!

The other thing I loved about Page was that she talked to me.  Remember when you were a little kid?  Aren’t the people you remember the best the ones who looked you in the eye and actually talked to you, rather than at you?  I remember Page was one of the people who did that with me.  And in one of our conversations, she told me about her beloved “Nana”, her grandmother who had died a few years earlier.  I decided right then and there that when I was a grandmother, I was going to tell my grandchildren to call me “Nana”.

Years later after Page and my brother divorced, she continued to deal with circumstances in her own unique way.  She and her three girls and her new husband lived in California and my parents lived here in Indiana.  After the divorce, that would have been a great excuse for Page to lessen contact with my parents, but she didn’t.  She kept in contact with them herself and made sure that her girls did too.  And, when she and her new husband and the girls would travel in their motor home around the country, they would always come by to see my parents.  Many, many times Mama said how much she appreciated that Page made sure, even with the distance and the divorce, that her girls had as close a relationship as possible with their Indiana Grandma and Grandpa.

When Page’s daughters started having their own families, it didn’t surprise me at all that she came up with a very unique name for her grandchildren to call her, Star.  I don’t remember exactly what the story was about why she picked that name, but it was certainly an original and I’m sure she never had to worry about identifying which “Star” she was, as some grandmothers have to do, ala Grandma Smith as opposed to Grandma Jones.

Since then, I have heard many names that grandmother’s have their grandchildren call them other than Grandma, like Mimi, Memaa and Mame.  And DD’s Italian mother-in-law used the traditional Italian name, Noni.  But there was never any question that when I had grandchildren, I wanted to be called “Nana”.

I was inspired to write this post about names for grandmothers because last Friday, Page’s oldest daughter became a grandmother for the first time, and I was wondering what she would have her new grandson call her

But, in the end, it really doesn’t make any difference what we are called.  Grandma, “Mom”, Nana, Star, Mimi, Memaa, Mame, Noni and all the other names … are all just identifiers for women in a very special “club” who have the honor of being someone special in their grandchildren’s lives.

Thankful for Family Time

November 8, 2009


Two weekends ago we visited Gunny and his family for a very busy long weekend.  Our goals while we were there were — to see Nikki cheer at a varsity football game — to celebrate her 16th birthday — to attend her and Jays’ confirmation — to see Jay play on the freshman football team — and to squeeze in some visiting time whereever we could.   And we managed to do it all!

On Friday night:

100_5943  Because of the confirmation we didn’t have any flexibility in which weekend we visited, so if we wanted to see Nikki cheer we would have to drive to a game on Friday night two and a half hours away!  But when you live as far away as we do, you have to take opportunities as they present themselves, so we made the trip and were glad we did.

100_5952g  It was an exciting game that our team won in the last few minutes.




100_5965f  Nikki with a close friend who is also a cheerleader.

100_5966f   It was realllly cold and I hadn’t thought to take gloves, so Dilly was kind enough to lend me one of hers.  Not a perfect, solution but at least it helped!  (It’s hard to see, but we had our gloved hands clasped together in the middle.)

On Saturday:

100_5970   We celebrated Nikki’s 16th birthday!

100_5975r   We couldn’t decide on what kind of cake to buy at the fantastic local bakery, so we bought two small ones — one lemon and one red velvet.

100_5969g   But, as her special birthday “cake” Nikki opted for a slice of strawberry cheesecake, and then we bought this humongus candle to go on top that was about the same size as the slice it was sitting on!

100_5972g   I wanted to get a nice family picture of them.  But, Jay was goofing off a little.

100_5971ff   So, he and Gunny “discussed” how he should pose for the picture …

100_5973f   … ahhh, much better.

100_5981f   I love this picture.  Nikki knows how to smile for a picture, but Jay does have trouble deciding how he should pose.  So I like this one because he just looks like him – no pose at all!

100_5982   I don’t know.  Do you think you can tell they’re related? I kind of think so.

100_5983h   And these two look a little alike too.

On Sunday morning:

100_5988g   Nikki and Jay were confirmed into the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  They each had to ask someone to stand with them at the front and read their confirmation bible verse, and they asked Hubby and me.  Hubby for Jay and me for Nikki.  We were very honored that they asked us.




On Monday night:  We enjoyed watching Jay’s freshman football team win their game.  Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as cold as it had been for the varsity game on Friday night!  But, unfortunately I forgot my camera, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that he was very cute (in a “manly” sort of way, of course) in his uniform and played well.

Early Tuesday morning:

100_6014s   Gunny met us for breakfast before we left town.  We had to wait a few minutes for the doors of the restaurant to open at 6 a.m.!

Thank you Father for the wonderful time we got to spend with our loved ones.

Not just volleyball …

October 15, 2009


… but also a place to learn some of life’s lessons.

Last weekend we went to a volleyball tournament of sixth grade teams in Chicago.  It included two teams from Coco’s school, one of which is coached by DD.  Neither team won it all, but both won some of their games. 

DD says that in fifth and sixth grade, volleyball isn’t about winning.  You are teaching the girls the rules of the game and possibly a love of the game.  Then, if they like it and have an aptitude for it, they can go on to play on competitive teams in the higher grades.  I love that idea.

But, DD and the other coaches at her childrens’ grade school really act out this concept, not just talk it. 

There are eighteen girls in sixth grade who play volleyball, all at varying stages of development of their skills and interest.  That number of girls means that there need to be two teams so that everyone can play.  And, apparently, those two teams are fluid — the girls aren’t always divided up the same way.  I say that because I know that before the Saturday tournament, they were re-divided so that they were as even in talent as possible.  For example, the girls who have developed the skill to serve overhand (including Coco) were divided evenly between the teams.

As we were sitting there watching the teams play it occurred to me that each girl on these teams, no matter what her talent level is, is learning some valuable lessons.  Because the teams aren’t divided as an “A” and “B” team, with the “A” team being the one with all the best players on it, all the girls will experience winning and losing, together and equally. 

In all my years “in the bleachers” I have observed that a team or player who doesn’t have much experience losing, can fall apart if they start losing.  And a team or player who hardly ever wins, may have trouble picturing themselves winning, so sometimes mentally defeat themselves.  But in this grade school’s system all of the players are experiencing the high of winning and the disappointment of losing, and seeing clearly demonstrated that there are time that there are actually more important priorities than winning. 

A great lesson that will hold them in good stead in the future in all areas of their lives, not just volleyball.

Of course, we are proud of Coco, and she is blessed with some natural talent.  But, I am especially proud of our daughter, Coach DD.  When I watch her on the sidelines I see our always competitive daughter very successfully putting her competitiveness aside and just being a great encourager and teacher of young girls who may or may not go on to play the game, but who will hopefully have great memories of their time on her team.


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