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!!