Congratulations! You are the Winner!

It’s for you!

My daughter shouted as she shut the front door and entered the living room carrying a package. I thought I had just heard the familiar thumping of the delivery man’s feet stomping up the front steps and was about to get up but she was faster getting to the door. My mind quickly reviewed any expected deliveries and came up empty, so this package was indeed a surprise.

Look mom, it’s hand addressed so it is a surprise!

She said this knowing that most of the packages we receive these days most likely come from Amazon bearing needed household supplies that allow us to visit stores less frequently. Their boxes hold labels that are autogenerated and contents barely protected. This package was different for sure. My name and address was written out by hand in perfect printing, and the box was sealed and looking rather fancy with duct tape lining all the edges. I judged it was wrapped with sincerity. As the box sat on my lap awaiting to be opened I admired the parcel and the care taken to ensure the contents arrive unharmed.

I recognized the name on the return label and recalled entering a contest promoting a new children’s book by this illustrator. I had registered so long ago that I failed to remember what prizes were being offered. My daughter sat nearby awaiting the big reveal. She watched with eager anticipation, a welcome mid day relief for the both of us. I joked over the fact that it is hard to rip open a present quickly when someone is watching! I could have used scissors to cut open the box, but there was something satisfying about using my hands to conquer the tape on this present.

A few minutes later and success was finally reached. The first thing I noticed was a carefully written note congratulating me on winning the prize for the new book promotion. The handwriting was so artistic and beautiful that I wanted to sit and admire it for a while. Underneath was a gift bag containing bubble wrap and several tissue paper wrapped items including a bottle of fancy bubbles, a rubber ducky, a tub book, a small puzzle made from a page from the new book, and a ribbon ensconced package of beautiful handmade note cards. I sat and admired each little surprise and soaking in the care that went into creating this package. I was left feeling a great sense of contentment.

I arranged the items carefully back in the box, and left it in the living room where I could admire it throughout the day. Each time I walked past the box I smiled at my winnings. It was a joyful surprise adding warmth to a cold wintery Monday!

Can you guess what book was being promoted?

Yes, It’s Off to See the Sea, a new book by Nikki Grimes and Elizabeth Zunon. A delightful story of bath time fun! Lok at that joyful baby face in the tub!

It’s Tuesday and I’m sharing my post today with the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers. Take a peek and consider joining in.

Inaugural Feelings – Past and Present

The year was 1977 and I was a high school senior with high hopes and grand ideas. So grand that someone in our National Honor Society thought we should plan a trip to Washington DC for the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter. He was known as the people’s President and we wanted to be part of this new era of politics. Fortunately our advisors were all in and guided our trip planning, even adding in a tour of the Secret Service Office compliments of our teacher’s nephew. We traveled by Greyhound bus leaving late at night heading from Massachusetts to New York, and then catching another bus from Grand Central to Washington DC. While the hot stuffy bus ride left a lot to be desired, our energy and enthusiasm kept us from complaining.

I recall the excitement of being in Washington DC and witnessing the multiday event. We were part of a historic event. The crowds of people filled the city and the energy was contagious. We arrived early to secure a spot on the lawn and stood on our tippy toes to get a peek at the tiny figures on the podium viewed from a distance without the high-tech screens of today. We could however clearly hear President Carter declaring the oath to uphold the constitution.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

There was such pride and emotion standing among the throngs of Americans gathered to experience history in the making. The twenty degree temperatures in snow covered ground made standing a little tricky but we had our youthful passions to keep us warm. We ran across town in an attempt to find a good spot for the parade in anticipation that our new President would wave to us travel-weary citizens. We were able to catch a glimpse of him, his wife, and nine year old daughter, as they stepped out of their car and become the first presidential family to walk the parade route. Our youthful energy kept us enthused as we held tight to the possibilities for our country with this new administration promising hope for the working men and women. We were awe-struck!

It’s now 2021 and while I might not have the same youthful energy that I did when I was eighteen, I do have a similar sense of hope for the new administration being sworn in tomorrow. The mood will certainly be different in Washington DC, with 191,500 illuminated flags symbolizing the Americans that could not attend this year’s ceremony due to COVID placed on the National Mall to replace the crowds. And as I watch the festivities from the comfort of my home tomorrow I will be cheering just as loudly as I did so many years ago, hanging on to the optimism I feel for this new administration. My heart will once again swell with pride when our new President Joseph Biden, and the first woman Vice President Kamala Harris take the stand and profess those same words I heard forty-four years ago…

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

It’s Tuesday and I am joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers for their weekly Slice of Life post. Come join us!

A New Library

It was my daughter’s idea for me to start my own library for the grandchildren. Since COVID started my kids were hesitant to go to the library and missed the opportunity to choose their own books that the library allows. We all believe choice in books to be read is an important part of becoming a lifelong reader so we were left considering options. So seeing that I had just retired from public school and my ENTIRE library was now sitting on shelves in my office, it was only natural that I start “Bebe’s Library.” Of course I brought books to my grandchildren for each visit, and yes I left those books at their homes if requested but this idea was a little different. I decided I needed a way to make it official and allow my babies to choose books on their own.

The first step in making Bebe’s Library come to life was sewing personalized book bags. I searched through my stash of material and hand chose a fabric for each child, considering their favorite colors and patterns. I then ordered some webbing for the handles and started sewing personalized book bags for child. It felt official to make these bags for each one of my babies.

Next I had to come up with a system to check out the books. My kids told me they struggled with finding the books I loaned them amongst their own large collections so I found it necessary to come up with an easy plan to log the loans. I searched the internet for tips on how to set up a home library. There were complicated ideas of buying a scanner to process and label each and every book I own, or creating paper library card to the back of each book. Neither of those ideas seemed to be easy to develop and or maintain and seemed some what cumbersome to me, so I kept on searching and thinking.

I finally came up with a simple plan that allowed each child to borrow and track each book. Since my grandchildren love to take pictures on my phone, I decided to take that love and use it to track the books they borrow. To help us all recall who borrowed which book, I made sure each child includes their book bag in the background of the picture. Now when its time for the books to be returned I send along the picture to their parents to allow the kids go searching for the titles. So far the system seems to be working.

Being a grandmother librarian has added such joy to my day. Before each visit I consider each child and choose books that I think they might enjoy. I think about their age, their personalities, and the books that their cousins previously enjoyed. When I visit I bring along a huge stack of options and I share each title, giving them a little synopsis of the book. Most times they beg me to read each and every book so they can be truly informed about which titles they want to hear again and again in the comfort of their home. And of course I willingly comply. What could be better than a little one cuddled up on your lap listening to your every word? Besides that it feels so satisfying that all of my hundreds of books are being read and enjoyed once again. I love being a grandmother with a stash of books and little ones to share them with!

It’s Tuesday and I’m writing my slice of life post and sharing with the wonderful writing community over at Two Writing Teachers. I am grateful to this community of supporting writers.

Tell it Again Bebe

Her little feet began to drag ever so slightly after hiking for an hour. My four and one-half year old granddaughter’s stamina had hit bottom and we were looking for ways to keep her energy and enthusiasm up. Thus began the storytelling about when her papa, my son, was little. We had spent some time over New Years Eve looking at pictures of Christmas past so her mind was open to hearing adventures to go along with the pictures.

I began with the story of the time when he and his older sister were climbing on top of the retaining wall next to the driveway. Despite numerous warnings, the two continued to play until the oldest picked up the youngest and crash, down they both tumbled, with my son bearing the brunt of the fall on his arm. A doctor’s visit and x-ray later revealed that a cast was required on the forearm. My story continued with memories of making the best of this new situation with me stenciling an elaborate train on the front of the cast and wrapping a bag around the arm for baths and swim, and of course being banned from hanging from monkey bars. Her eyes widened with each detail and appeared to relish the storytelling. Well at least she wasn’t complaining about her tired legs. And then she said: .

“Tell it again Bebe”

I repeated the story two more times, each time embellishing the story with more elaborate details. And then:

“Tell me another one Bebe!”

My mind was blank. I stood for a minute until I could recall another silly childhood adventure. She was captivated by these stories of her papa, realizing he too got into trouble and did silly things as a child.

We finally reached the bottom of the climb and were back home. Our storytelling distraction had eased the tired legs and allowed for a few laughs too. As we heated up the tea and cocoa water to get our chill out, I realized that my parents and grandparents never shared stories with me. I felt heavy hearted realizing this loss of history and story about my past. The sadness grew stronger knowing I could no longer ask the questions of them. It was then that I promised myself to make a list of stories to share with my children and grandchildren so that they could understand our history and enjoy the stories and adventures of the past. The power of stories is real and necessary always, and not just when trying to distract tired legs on the trail.

Its Tuesday and I am sharing my slice of life story with the fine community of writers over at Two Writing Teachers. Take a peak and consider joining in the fun!