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!

A How to Guide to Plan a Zoom-tacular COVID Christmas Party

Planning a virtual Christmas party took much forethought and coordination. Here is our “how to” of the steps we took to ensure a continuation of the traditions our family holds near and dear.

  1. Gather a team of cousins that love to plan parties and meet online to brainstorm ideas to make this COVID party more spectacular than ever.
  2. Divvy up the list of to do’s so everyone can share the load.
  3. Send along an email to the 14 families involved outlining the day long plan, and to get a head count of who’s in on the daylong Zoom-tacular party.
  4. Choose a book to read to the ten great grandchildren. Develop a craft to accompany the book.
  5. Conduct a virtual drawing for the family secret Santa gift giving. Email recipients.
  6. Create and shop for boxes of goodies for all to receive, setting the scene to replicate food and items commonly found at Grammie and Grampie’s Christmas party. Items to include bag of ribbon candy, mixed nuts and nutcracker, butter cookies, and a keepsake COVID ornament.
  7. Deliver local boxes, and ship boxes to out of state relatives. Cross fingers that the USPS will deliver on time. (PS – one house is still waiting for their box twenty-five days after mailing, and ten days after the party. Sigh.)
  8. Prepare activities for the game night.
  9. Send along respective secret Santa gifts to awaiting family.
  10. Set up day long zoom invite to cover story hour for the littles at 9am, family gathering, gift opening, and annual photo / screenshot at 3:30pm, and game night for adults at 8pm. Email invite to all 14 families.
  11. Request oldest son to write and give the toast at 3:30pm
  12. Sit back and enjoy the day!

While this list seems long and arduous, the day was a roaring success with many memories made and lots of laughter involved! Yet I don’t think I want to have to use this list again… so this list self-destruct in 10 seconds.

It’s Tuesday and I am joining the fabulous community of writers over at Two Writing Teachers. Won’t you join in?

Christmas Delight

The sirens were loud and fierce and moving closer to us. Living on a back road this noise is rare, so we concern ourselves with the destination. Our worries were heightened as we saw evidence of the proximity with the red light flashing and the the horns blasting, signaling urgency. As the large truck rounded the corner we ran to the window and then to the front door to get a better look as it made its way further up the street. The truck stopped at the neighbors, despite no smoky smell or flames in sight.

We fixed our eyes on the stopped truck and suddenly noticed people standing on the back. We commented on the strangeness of their placement until we were afforded the magical view. Christmas lights surrounding the entire vehicle suddenly illuminated the scene and then suddenly all became clear. It was Santa Claus!

The boys, aged four and two, screamed with delight and disbelief!

What?

Why is Santa on a fire truck?

Why is Santa here tonight?

And again Why is Santa on a fire truck?

A blurry view of the fire truck with Santa through the trees.

They were giggly with excitement and trying to make sense of it all. Being the perfect age for a little Santa mystery makes it all the more magical. Their eyes were bright with wonder and their smiles were wider than their faces. They couldn’t hold their enthusiasm in and honestly neither could this grandmother.

The magic, wonder, and joy of Christmas was born in them right then and there thanks to a little visit by the neighborhood fire department. May we all hold on to this hopeful feeling well into 2021, for we all need a little extra Christmas delight in our lives right about now.

It’s Tuesday and I am joining the wonderful writing community over at Two Writing Teachers with my slice of life story. Please take a peek and consider joining in!

Who’s Winning?

I am winning at the December fitness challenge sponsored by my trainer, having the most number of days attending class this month. This may sound like nothing to many of you but for me it’s a huge accomplishment, and one I don’t take lightly. In a year and a half, I have gone from never working out, shy of a fast walk here or there, to beginning each day with some sort of movement class. Three days a week I attend a class outside in a massive parking lot, distanced away from others and wearing a mask. The cold winter air of Massachusetts adds to the challenge of these vigorous morning workouts. The remaining two days a week I am in my small basement connected via Zoom, stretching in yoga like poses.

Why the change? It’s all about the trainer / teacher. I have connected with a physical trainer who values where each person is at, who has a sense of humor, and who knows the strengths and areas of opportunity for each and every student. He makes exercise fun by switching up the routines so that every class is different and lively. He also knows when to encourage me to push myself a little further than I thought possible. He is a teacher extraordinaire.

Whenever I think about his style of teaching I realize that is what all students deserve. Teachers such as these are what makes us all want to strive to be our best and that makes us all winners!

Thank you once again to the wonderful community over at the Two Writing Teachers. You are encouraging me to continue to write and write and write!