Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quilt As Desired - Number Seven

Robin is the youngest of the Batty Babes...and the last in the calendar year to have her birthday. Having a birthday between Christmas and New Years might get overlooked...but NOT by the Babes! We know how to do birthdays. We had her party last night and, as always, had a great time together. And I made her a full-sized quilt top that she can quilt any way she wants to. And in giving her that top, I also patted myself on the back for reaching a goal I had set about a year ago -- to make each of the Babes a large, scrappy quilt top for their birthday. There are nine of us, but one lives out of state and is not here for the birthdays, and the other is that left 7 quilt tops to make. Sounded easy enough. I had planned on pacing myself throughout the year. But, like many of my plans, it sounded good and looked good on paper -- but I should know myself well enough by now to know I sometimes need deadlines. And they came fast and furious in the last quarter of the year. But I did it!

When thinking about what pattern and colors to use for Robin's, I just knew it had to be pastels. She has a houseful of three beautiful, sweet daughters. I found the pattern in a magazine and this is the final product. She liked it very much.
Now I find myself (temporarily) without definite deadlines. So the question is this: Will I enjoy getting creative with new projects? Will I get busy and finish up some long outstanding ones? Will I get more reading, gardening, and scrapbooking done? Will I waste time on the computer? Probably a little bit of all of those!
Happy Birthday, Robin!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vesele Vanoce

You know...when you're growing up you accept certain activities and traditions as "normal" because that's all you know. You assume that what you do to celebrate certain holidays is what everyone else is doing. It's not until you're older that you realize your family may have been a little weird.

Take for example a Czechoslovakian Christmas tradition we grew up with called "Vesele Vanoce." Actually...that's how you say, "Merry Christmas" in Slovak. That's kind of nice. But what I remember from being a kid is that my older male cousins would go to all the relatives' homes on Christmas morning to "Vinchovatz". That's a verb. I'm sure it is not spelled anything like that. I don't even know if it's a word -- in any language. But that's what I remember. The way I understood it (and I can't find anything in doing research to back this up), the tradition was that it was a sign of good luck in the year to come if a young man was the first person to cross your threshold on Christmas morning. So in order to assure such good luck, the boys in the Mehall family would go out early and make sure they were the first ones over the doorstep. They would be invited in, of course, and they would give the greeting, "Vesele Vanoce a st'asny' novy' rok!" I just this year found out that's what the words are. To my young ears, it sounded like, "Vacille Vanochy, ashta slivy novy doke". But that may be my skewed memory, or it could be close to the truth. make it worth their effort and to ward off the cold of a Christmas morning in Illinois...they were rewarded at each house with a shot of whiskey. So by 10:00 a.m. they were pretty much loaded. Maybe we were one of the later stops.

But I guess things could have been worse. In doing research into this memory from my youth, I found out some other Slovak traditions that we did NOT perpetuate. First, there was the traditional extensive house cleaning in early December. On second thought, maybe we did follow this. It was hard to mother was always cleaning! But I have NOT carried it forward, even if she did. I found out, though, that baking cookies and sharing certain favorites with family and friends was always done. My daughters and grandchildren and I are doing that! I also like to make hand-made ornaments, like I wrote about a while back. But where we use wood, foam, paint, markers, bling, ancestors would make theirs from walnut shells wrapped in colored paper or eggshells decorated to look like fish or angels. And speaking of fish -- I read that these folks would go out on December 23rd to buy the "traditional Christmas carp for dinner". It went on to say that several days earlier, huge wooden barrels appeared in the cities with live carp swimming around in them. The buyer would point to the fish they wanted and the fun of trying to catch it began. Usually, the fish would be taken home alive and allowed to swim in the family bathtub until Christmas eve morning. Right -- I'll be at Kroger's...and when I'm in the shower on Thursday night, you can bet there won't be a carp in there with me -- dead or alive!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas Curse?

People give you many greetings this time of year. Usually, they're "Have a Merry Christmas", "Happy New Year", "Happy Holidays", "Season's Best", etc. But back in the Christmas of 1952, someone must have told my parents, "A Pox on You!".

That was the year that all 3 of us children had the chicken pox. My older sister, Karen, was just getting over she was doing pretty well. I was sporting a full-blown case of them and my brother, Chuck, was just starting to show little signs of breaking out. My mother told me I even had them in my scalp, so she couldn't comb my hair. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Mom seemed to take it pretty well, but I know she was disappointed. Especially because she had paid a woman to make matching dresses for my sister and me. I remember the dresses well. They were light pink...and very scratchy. They also had the most wonderful, soft purple velvet vest-style jackets that went over them and closed at the waist. Even with all the scratching -- from the dress and the pox -- I remember thinking they were quite special. Karen was 9 and I was 5 that year.

Fast forward 27 years to 1979. I remembered those dresses so well that I surprised my mom by making them for my girls...then ages 8 and 5. The dresses were made of softer material and I didn't put the purple piping on the collars and sleeves, but they were definitely very close to the originals and it really surprised and delighted my mom to see them walk in wearing them. time flies. Now my granddaughter will be 7 years old tomorrow.
Oh...and by the way...yes, I've had my shingles vaccination!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Decking the Halls

Decking the halls this year began on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. A new tradition for us the past few years has been to make ornaments after our Thanksgiving dinner...which at our house is the Sunday after the traditional Thursday. This year's "craft project" was to take foamy snowman and tree shapes and decorate them as desired using a whole lotta trinkets and trash that were splayed out all over the table. Jeremy's mom and dad had joined us for dinner and were good sports about doing the craft as well. And after all that creativity, we had some very interesting new decorations for the tree. We usually put up two trees. There is a pretty one in the livingroom with all white lights and red and gold ornaments, garlands, and even some sprigs of berries and sparkly things sticking out here and there. And we enjoy looking at it every night during Christmas. Then there is the one downstairs in the family room. It's a good thing it's a big tree, because it is becoming quite loaded. We don't even put every ornament on it any more, but definitely a sampling of all the ornaments we've accumulated over the years. Many of them are hand made. I have some that I made before I was married, we have ones the kids made when they were little, ones my niece and nephew made when they were young, and now the ones the grand kids are making. There are also special ornaments from special friends and family members. And there are some antique ones that I remember being on the tree when I was little.

I asked Jodi if the kids could spend the night and help me do a lot more of the decorating the next day. She was fine with that. What she didn't know, was that I was going to have them for 3 days because Jeremy was surprising her with a little time away for just the two of them. We had set it up weeks before and she knew nothing about it! He's usually as bad as I am at keeping surprises, but he pulled it off this time and they had a great couple of days of "together time". So the next morning, I harnessed all the energy that's stored in those little bodies and there were that many fewer trips up and down the stairs for me to take down the fall decorations and get out the wreaths and poinsettias for the front porch, etc.

It's a funny thing about that energy, though. It only lasts in short spurts, so you have to take advantage of it while you can. So after a while the kiddos drifted off to play and I kept putting a few things up here and there. Later I had to laugh when I went down stairs for something and saw that they had added to the tree decorations down there. There, on some lower branches right in front (where they like to hang everything), they had put some of their stuffed animals on the tree!

So that's one new thing in the decorating department this year. The other new thing is that I was so excited about having a pretty, new mantle to decorate for Christmas that I didn't know where to begin. I asked Jessica if they had anything nice at the gift shop. So one night she brought over several pieces and helped me pick out some things. It looks very nice -- and you sure can't beat the convenience of shopping at home! Thanks, Jess! She also loaned us her Christmas tree since she wasn't going to be putting it up in her apartment this year (and also because she stores it here, anyway) and that looks really nice, too. So now we're all decked out and ready for Santa.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The WOW Factor

We all like to try to please and excite our children and grandchildren. But I think it's getting harder to achieve what I would call "The WOW factor". For example; some friends of ours took their children to Disney World this summer. After all the planning and preparation -- not to mention time and expense -- they finally got there. After a short while of walking around, the kids said they were "bored". Then suddenly...right there in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, in broad daylight, there were fireworks! Only trouble is, they were coming out of mom's eyes and ears -- and even a few off the ends of her hair.

These children are no different from their peers. Youngsters of this generation are born into a world of constant stimulation and instant gratification. They are learning things at an earlier age than ever and expanding their knowledge and experiences constantly. This, like most everything else in life, can be both good and bad. One of the down sides is that it is hard to make their little eyes light up with excitement.

I was lucky enough to be present the other day for a WOW moment for Savannah. Jodi, Jessica and I accompanied her to the American Girl Store. This is something she has been looking forward to and working towards. Jodi had told her that when she reached a certain reading level, she could go to the store. Since this happened to be just a week before her birthday, she got to pick out a doll, and we even had reservations at the Bistro for a sampling of their decadent desserts.

It was fun for all of us to see her face truly light up as she walked around the store looking at all the displays...petting the little doll pets...making sure she'd made the right decision (after poring over the catalog at home and constantly changing her mind)...and FINALLY, holding her new best friend in her arms.

She had known which day we were scheduled to go for a long time and was counting down the days. When we were eating our desserts, she told Jodi that it was even better than she was expecting it to be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cookie Bake '09

We had our (7th?) annual Mother-Daughter Cookie Bake on Sunday. Jessica was first to arrive, sporting a cute apron that said, "Santa likes my cookies best". Well...we'll just have to see about that! Then I found out that she got one for Jodi and me, too, so we were all cute! She got Savannah one just like it, but hers said, "Santa's little helper". Emery was already a little bummed because he found a new flannel shirt in his surprise box -- instead of a toy -- and then he found out he didn't have an apron. Jess didn't think he'd want a girlie one. But I had a man's barbecue cook-out apron and we put that on him. At that point he wasn't quite sure how he felt about how the day was going so far.

Enough of the fashion show. Now it was time to get down to business. I had already done my two make-ahead standards -- fruitcake cookies and apricot fold-overs. But we set about making some other favorites like apricot double dips, potato candy, citrus white chocolate macaroons, chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered peanut clusters, Chex mix, sugar cookies, snails, and every body's favorite -- fudge! We tried a couple of new things this year, too; lemon cookies, polar stars, pretzel bark and Heath chip cookies with a Kiss.

Grandpa and Emery spent most of the day outside playing baseball, etc. But when I need extra muscles to stir the potato candy, I need to call them in for some help. Emery told me has stronger muscles than Grandpa. And Savannah learned just how easy (she would say, "Easy, cheesy") it is to make GREAT fudge.

My favorite comment of the day came from Savannah. She was mixing the melted chocolate chips and enjoying "taste testing" while we were making truffles. When I added the sour cream, she wasn't quite sure she was going to like these any more. Then I poured in the Amaretto. She smelled it and said, "What's that???" Jessica told her it was liquor. Her face lit up and she said, "Wow! It smells like magic marker!"

By the end of the day we had filled the dining room table with goodies to share with our friends and neighbors. Just a note for those who live near us: you may need to go outside the county to find any chocolate!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quilt As Desired - Numbers 5 and 6

The Babes' birthdays are coming fast and furious now towards the end of the year. I gave away 2 more quilt tops in the last few weeks.

First ... on November 24th we celebrated Ardis' big day. She likes fall colors...reds, golds, rusty browns, etc. And she appreciates the traditional use of muslin. She also likes this particular star pattern, and a few years ago shared with us a cool way to piece that star. So I designed this one for her. It's just 3 different sizes of the same star in the colors she likes -- set against a background of muslin. Like the other Babes, she was very appreciative.

Then only a week later...on December 1st, we celebrated Liz's birthday. You'd think that having a birthday in December, she'd want to go out of her way to differentiate between HER day and Christmas. But to the contrary...Liz LOVES everything Christmas. So she's easy to shop for. I made this colorful Christmas scrappy quilt for her. The pattern is called a disappearing nine patch. A nine patch, for you non-quilters, is a block with just 3 squares across and 3 down. In this version, you make the center block a lighter, contrasting color. Then you cut each nine patch block in half vertically and again horizontally...and then turn them and sew them back together to mix it all up. As you can see -- she, too, was quite happy. That's her on the right...wearing the big grin and the antennae.
Happy birthday, girls!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Horsey Girl

Last week my friend, Pam, asked me if Savannah liked horses. I told her she LOVES horses. Her favorite gift last Christmas was the Barbie-sized horse she got from Santa. Pam said she knew a woman whose daughter had collected horses as a young girl, but had outgrown them. She gave them to Pam because her granddaughter is very into horses...and riding. But she, too, is a little too old for them. So Pam thought Savannah would like to have them.

We brought the grand kids home with us after Thanksgiving dinner with the Yorks and they were going to spend the night so mommy and daddy could get up at 0 dark thirty for the Black Friday sales event (not this Nanny!). So I told Savannah about this girls' horse collection and how it came to be passed down to her. She was thrilled!! As she looked into the bag and brought out horse after horse...after horse (there were 12 of them), her face lit up and her eyes glowed like it was Christmas morning.

When it came time to go to bed, she asked if she could sleep with one of them. Since we share a bed when they stay over, I told her it was okay as long as he didn't kick as much in his sleep as she does in hers. Later, when I went to go to bed, this is what I found. Not only was Mr. horse on my side of the bed...she had him covered up to his neck. Seeing a horse head in my bed cracked me up and all I could think of was the Godfather movie. Have I done something to dishonor the Corleone family??

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remembering Aunt Leona

Most of you reading this know by now that we lost our Aunt Leona last week. Many of you may have aunts or uncles that you are particularly close to, but this lady was a very big and very special part of my life. If you were blessed enough to be raised in a traditional household, you had parents that were there for every important day and event in your life. You kinda expect that -- may even take it for granted. Since Aunt Leona never married and had a family of her own (she always said she wasn't an old maid -- she was an unclaimed treasure), we didn't have to share her time and affection with anyone else. So she, too, was there for every big and little part of my life.

She was there, of course, when I was born. And she had funny stories that she told and retold about when she babysat my older sister and me when my younger brother was born. Most of the stories cast a light on me as being the instigator of some sort of mischief...but I guess all was forgiven because she laughed every time she told the stories.

As I said, she was always there. And not just there...but involved and enjoying. I can clearly remember her being at my confirmation, attending graduations, and my wedding. Even after we moved to Georgia, she visited often and so she was here for Jodi and Jeremy's wedding as well as the birth of our first grandchild.

She always liked to stay busy, travel, visit, see new places, etc. In July of 2001, she and mom were coming for a visit and I planned a trip for us to take them to the Georgia coast. So they would know what to expect and how to pack, I sent them not just the information on where we were going (Savannah, Jekyll Island, St. Simons, etc.) but a complete itinerary. I sent it in the form of a letter from the "Happy Times Travel Agency" and made it all sound very grand. She got such a kick out of that and talked about it many times over the years. She'd say how cute that letter was and what a great time we had on the trip.

She enjoyed everything and loved to laugh. Here she is just days before her 89th birthday, sporting a tee shirt that she got for Christmas that says, "Born in America -- a long, long time ago." She also enjoyed gambling -- and was a winner. She would send people scratch-off lottery tickets in their birthday cards. She would give each of us a ticket on Christmas morning. But she was the only one who won anything. She also liked her whiskey and 5:00p.m. on the dot. She said she liked visiting here from Illinois because 5:00 came an hour earlier down here.

We will especially miss her this Christmas because she's been coming down here to spend the holidays with us for the past several years. Just last year -- at the age of nearly 95 (her birthday was New Year's Eve) her driver dropped her off at the airport and then she found out her flight was being cancelled due to bad weather. She got herself to a nearby motel, called me and said, "I'll see you tomorrow." Then she had a nice dinner and a good night's rest and got herself back to the airport on time very early the next morning and caught her flight. She would usually come a few days before Christmas and go back some time after the first of the year, so we've celebrated her birthday with her many times. Here she is in 2006. We went to a New Year's Eve party at Jodi and Jeremy's and Savannah thought the birthday girl should wear her tiara.

She celebrated her 80th birthday in the hospital having by-pass surgery. My sister had planned to spend several days with her while she was in the hospital, and she took a lot of reading material because she knew that afterwards she would only be able to visit with her for a few minutes every couple of hours. But by the second day, the nurses told her to just go on in. Leona was sitting in the chair, chatting and entertaining everyone who went in. And for the next 16 years she drove herself to the rehab center at the hospital several days a week. She viewed it not only as her own fitness club, but a social gathering, too, and she knew everybody who went there. That is, until this past August. At about that time her eyesight was getting bad and she had to give up driving. She moved from her apartment into an independent living facility in her home town of Streator. She was also getting a little unsteady on her legs, so she gave up golf at that time, too. The local paper did an article about her and it was on the front page. When I called to tell her I had seen it and several friends had sent me the clipping, she said, "I always thought you had to murder somebody to get your picture on the front page of the paper!"
Even though she may have been "unclaimed" by one special person...she was loved, appreciated, and enjoyed by more people than any other person I've ever known. I've been very blessed to have her in my life for so long.

Monday, November 9, 2009

They Know Stuff

Jodi is doing a fantastic job of home schooling the kids. Besides their reading, riting and 'rithmatic at home, she has them enrolled in a Tuesday morning class called Classic Conversations which is great for expanding their learning experiences. Add to all that vacations and field trips (which are interchangeable) with trips to museums, aquariums, zoos, caves, etc. and it's amazing to watch their minds soak up everything around them like little sponges.

I went to their house to babysit yesterday afternoon and they amazed and tickled me several times. When I first got there, they were playing in the sand box and hollered for me to come join them. As I approached, Emery proudly displayed a pail full of sand with lots more piled on top and coming to a point. He said, "Look,'s Mount Basooovious!" Then they went on playing and making sand castles -- each better than the others' according to the builders. Pretty soon the conversation turned to "trash talking" about what each of them was going to do to the other person's castle. I told them not to start fighting. Emery assured me it wasn't a fight..."It's the Battle of Hastings, Nanny."

We were going to make a pizza for dinner and when Savannah went into the pantry to get the crust, she showed me a large outline of a world map on the back of the door. She said, "Look, Nanny. That big part with the "C" is China. And down here is the Bay of Bengal. Madagascar is way over here." Then Emery chimed in with pointing out where the Pacific Ocean is.

Later, still, we were playing and she forgot something for a minute. She dismissively waved her hand and said, "Oh. I have short term memory loss." I could relate to that, but don't have a fix for it. :)

They are also honing their public speaking skills and building their confidence by asking Jodi to make movies on her camera of them doing presentations on everything from art, to cooking, to just giving out general information.

I think I should take them to New York. If we could find -- and ride in --the Cash Cab, I might be one rich Nanny!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pag Man

Emery has lived the last 3 of his 4 years under the assumption that he can do anything his big sister can do. Once he knew how to walk and talk, he saw himself as her equal. So now that she is deeply entrenched in first grade of home school, he's eager to learn, too. She's reading -- so he wants to read. He will look closely at letters and sound them out to try to make words.

The other day he was wearing his GAP sweatshirt. He looked down and started "reading" what his shirt said. Apparently he can read letters upside down -- but not backwards. From his point of view...and reading from left to right...he started sounding them out. He made a good strong "P" sound -- then got the short "A" right -- and then sounded out the "G". Softly sounding them out again and then putting them together, he proudly announced, "Pag!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here's Your Sign....

Saw this clever sign in a restaurant last week:

"Buy one dinner for the price of two and get the second one free."

Wonder how many folks ask for that special?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quilt As Desired...Number Four

My friend, Amelia, who had the flooded property I talked about in the last post, celebrated her birthday with the Babes last week. As for the previous 3 Babes' birthdays, I gave her a scrappy pieced quilt top that she can finish however she chooses. This one is called, "Prairie Vine" and I saw it in a magazine about 2 years ago and fell in love with it immediately. Actually, this is just the center of the quilt. The one in the magazine called for a wide, pale border on which a vine with 140 small leaves were appliqued onto it. I made this quilt for myself quite some time ago and I have the leaves basted onto freezer paper and ready to be applied...but I have yet to put the vine on and start stitching the leaves down. I knew there would be no time for me to do this as a border on her quilt. So I just made the center -- which I still love -- and she can finish it off with whatever kind of border she wants, or add more blocks, or anything else she might like. She liked it that way, too. Happy Birthday, Amelia!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

By now you've probably heard about the flooding in the Atlanta area. Here's how it was for us.

On Tuesday, the 15th, we got a little rain...less than 1/2". Our assistant pastor called and wanted to know if Jerry would be available the next day to help a lady in the parish who had to move some of her belongings from a storage facility in Decatur to her home here in Covington. He said he'd be glad to help. I went with him. So that was Wednesday, the 16th. I checked before we left home and it looked like there were a few green spots showing up on the radar, but I thought we would probably be able to get there, load up, and get back without too much trouble. With all of our drought years over the past decade or so, we're used to seeing blips on the radar that dry up before they get here. There was our open pick-up truck and one other -- also open -- and we loaded most of her things. It started raining lightly just as we were finishing packing. On the way home -- almost ALL the way home -- it rained as hard as it possibly could. Everything got pretty well soaked. I felt awful for her. I'm not sure how much of it she was able to save. She did have a fairly new mattress and box spring that had to go to the dump the next day. The person with the other truck went back the next day and helped her get the rest of it...but it rained that day as well. Still -- she was very grateful for the help.

Each of those days we got a little over an inch of rain at our house, but on the west and north sides of Atlanta they were getting much more than that. On Saturday morning we had planned to get up early and go encourage Jodi and Savannah as they participated in a one-mile fun run at their church. Since lightning is the only weather that will postpone a race, they ran in the rain. And we got there just in time to see them come it. We got another inch 1.1" at our house that day, but the deluges continued on the other side of Atlanta.

The system that was bringing all the rain was still around and we got just a 1/4" on Sunday. But by Monday afternoon things were getting serious. Some of the rivers and creeks in our area were under flash flood watches and warnings due to the run-off coming down from the north of Atlanta where there had already been flooding. Then on Monday afternoon we got about 3-1/2" of rain in about 90 minutes. Now we were one of the counties in serious trouble, too.

On Tuesday morning, Jerry and I were headed over to Covington. When we got to the bridge over the Yellow River -- about 4 miles from our house -- we were shocked to see how high the water was under the bridge. I asked him to turn and go down my friend, Amelia's, road. She lives just a short way beyond the river. Her house, as well as her father's and one of her daughters', are all on the left side of her road and well back and up the hill. On the right side of the road is usually a beautiful lake that is also their property. There is an earthen dam between the river and their lake. When we turned onto her road, we were surprised to see that the water was already over the road and rising. It was nearing the top of the earthen dam. And as we stood there with her and some of her family, we watched it rise over that dam and just keep coming. We were there about 10:30 in the morning and she said that when they left for work about 7:30, there was no water on the road. This little gazebo is on a walkway that goes from the shore of their lake to a small cottage on an island. Usually the gazebo is 5 feet above the water. Later in the afternoon, she said, the water was flowing through this gazebo and half of the walkway had been washed away. She said the lowest parts of the fence along side the road were under water, as well. She estimated that the water level inside the cabin was probably about 4 feet. She told us that in the 33 years she has lived in that house, she has never seen it like this.
Still, she and her family realize how blessed they were to still have their homes and each other. There are so many in our area that have lost so much more than that. It was amazing to see the power of nature close up and it is heartbreaking to see what it can do. But our thoughts and prayers are with so many of our neighbors as they begin the struggle to rebuild their lives.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Childhood Memories With Paste on Them

No...I'm not talking about eating paste in kindergarten. Not even talking about sniffing glue. I'm talking about wallpaper!

Recently, as we were tearing apart the living room and getting ready to do a major remodel, I was taking things out. The grand kids came over and were shocked. Standing there with their little jaws dropping open they asked, "Nanny! What are you doing???" I told them I was taking everything out of the room so daddy could build us a new fireplace and do some other work in the room. I told them it would all be different.

The decor at that time was largely a collection I had built of antique toys. I had even found a wallpaper border that had antique toys on it. I never realized the kids had paid attention to any of it except a few toys that they liked to play with. But when I told them the room was changing, Savannah said sadly, "But Nanny...I won't see the horse any more." I realized she had not only noticed the horse on the wallpaper border, but had become fond of him. Not too surprising, because she loves horses. She had just never mentioned it before.
Jerry thought I was crazy when I told him I remembered the wallpaper on my bedroom walls when I was in my youth bed. I told him it had children on teeter totters, etc. and it was in shades of pink and had vertical stripes. He gave me a stranger than normal look. And I also remembered that when Jessica was little she came out into the kitchen one day after getting dressed and said something like, "Ta-da!". I asked her why the enthusiasm, and she said she was dressed just like (and I forget the name she gave me). When I asked who that was, she led me to her bedroom and pointed to one of the several children on her wallpaper. She had named them all and made them her friends.

I realized then that those wallpaper memories are kind of special. So when we were stripping the wallpaper, I was very careful to remove a section of the border that had the horse on it. I put it in a frame and gave it to Savannah and told her she can now see the horse any time she wants. She was really delighted...and in thanking me, added, "And you got the dog, too!".