Lila Prints

Clean it up Grandma!

We recently replaced the trim around our mirrored coat closet doors.  While wiping down the filled nail holes so I could paint, I looked at the mirrored doors once again.  It’s not that I don’t see them every day, because I do.  I walk past them probably 20 times a day.  And I once again glanced at the Lila prints all over them.

I know that I should clean them off.  Some people might be horrified by the fact that I’ve left dirty fingerprints on my closet doors for nearly two months.  But they’re a tangible reminder of Lila’s last visit.  And I miss that baby girl!

Jennifer is very good at Facetiming with us on a very regular basis.  In fact, we got to see and chat with her and Lila earlier today.  It is awesome to have the everyday technology to be able to see and hear people you love by simply making a phone call.  I love the way Lila’s face lights up as soon as she sees me on the screen.  I enjoy seeing her run around the house (with Mama chasing after her to try and keep her in view!)  It’s fun to see her pull book after book off the shelf to look at, “read”, or just toss on the floor.  She played with a new wooden puzzle this morning, and carefully removed and replaced the pieces.  She likes her stuffed lambs, and it’s cute to see her hug them and carry one around.

We are blessed to have the technology to keep the connections.  I love being able to see Lila wave “bye bye”, and to blow her kisses when we have to say goodbye.  I love that she tries to reach through the computer to touch me.  And I so wish that I could reach through the screen and have her here with me!  But for now I have to content myself with the Lila hand and foot print ornaments from the last two Christmases.

Lila ornaments

These simple little gifts are so precious!  They are a reminder of just how little she was that first Christmas, and how much she has grown in the past year.  And since I have them, I guess I really should go clean the Lila prints off the mirrored closet doors!

Lila 1-18-19

Grandma loves you baby girl!

Welcome 2019

The sun has set on 2018 and 2019 is here.  Many people make resolutions of things they want to change or accomplish in the new year.  I remember celebrating New Year’s Eve at our brother and sister-in-laws home maybe 25 years ago when we all wrote our resolutions on a piece of paper, and put them in a shoebox.  Our sister-in-law put the box up on top of the china cabinet and said we should read them in a year.  I don’t recall if that’s what we did, but I do remember that my resolution was for us to buy a house.

It’s fun to recall memories of time spent with people we love.  It may or may not be so pleasant to recall the events of the past year.  Perhaps we have lost someone we care about, or lost a job, had a health scare, or aren’t happy with our current situation in life.  We have little or no control over some of these things, but we can work and make changes to help with others.  Everyone knows that they should eat healthier, and probably need to exercise more.  Taking a different perspective, improving our attitude, and putting in the hard work that is necessary can help us to change things.

One thing though that should be a constant in our lives is increasing our faith and reliance on God.  That may not be a particularly “cool” thing to do in today’s society, where popular culture tells us that even if God is real, we don’t really need Him.  You might think that too.  But what do you do when things are tough?  Who do you rely on?  Who do you thank when things are good and life seems to be going well?

I can tell you that I have faced hard things in life, the deaths of my Dad and all of my grandparents.  The unexpected and shocking death of our 35 year old niece comes to mind.  Like nearly everyone, we have faced financial challenges, health concerns, and dealt with all the normal problems and issues that arise in life.  But the problems have not overtaken me, because I have faith.  Sometimes it seems so hard to put it in God’s hands.  We like to try to control everything.  (Insert sound effect of a buzzer here, eeeee!)  Nope!  We can’t!  I have peace of mind because of my faith in God, in Jesus.  No matter how insurmountable our problems may seem, it will all work out in the end.

If you feel like you’ve lost your faith, or don’t think that you’ve ever had it, I invite you to open your heart.  God does not demand faith.  He doesn’t push His way into your life.  He knocks on the door and waits to be invited in.  That tiny little spark of desire in your heart?  Feed it!  Read the Bible, go to Mass, visit a church, pray, and talk to God.  Nourish your soul.

Go ahead and make your resolutions to workout, go to the gym, eat healthier, lose weight, etc.  But you can accomplish so much more and live a calmer, happier life by increasing your faith.  I challenge you to truly open your heart to God.  Invite Him into your life.  Put your troubles, problems, and desires in His hands.  Trust Him, talk to Him, and let peace and joy enter your life.

sunset 12-30-18

The sun has set on 2018, and 2019 is here.  Let the new calendar year be the beginning of a better year with the peace of Christ in your heart.

Heavy On My Mind

Put It In His Hands

A couple of people that I know and love are going through some rough times right now.  Because I love and care about them, their problems are rather heavily on my mind.  I worry about them, about the impact their problems will have on their respective families, what will happen, whether they are ok.  I don’t live near either of them, so I can’t stop by for a visit, give them hugs, be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.  The “little mother hen” in me hates that, because I just want to magically fix all the problems in the world.  As if!

Phone calls and texts are my way of being a listening ear, showing support, and offering (perhaps unsolicited :-)) advice.  The other important, actually most important thing I do is to pray for them.  They both know that I pray for them because I’ve probably mentioned it during a conversation.  They may not know what my prayers are, but I hope that they feel the comfort and calm that I hope my prayers bring.

My prayer life has matured over the years and I have learned from different sources and experiences in life.  From strong faith-filled friends, from bible studies, from homilies at Mass, and from reading.  My favorite book on prayer, 13 Powerful Ways To Pray by Eamon Tobin was so enlightening.  It really matured my prayer life.  Some of the important things I learned were to lean on God and let Him determine the way.

That “little mother hen” side of me wants to just fix it, and have things go in a certain way.  But that sure isn’t reality, is it?  I have zero control over either situation, and frankly, who am I to determine the best outcome for either of them?  That can be a hard thing for us to accept.  We need to lean on God.  And sometimes, when things don’t seem to be going our way, perhaps that’s the lesson that we’re supposed to be learning from the situation.  How hard it can be to humble ourselves and ask for His help!

We like to think that we can control every single situation, determine every single outcome, and make things turn out exactly the way we want.  But we can’t.  We (fortunately) don’t have control over others and can’t determine their actions and reactions.  And, how many times in your life have you wished that something had gone a certain way, were disappointed when it didn’t, then later realized that it was probably a good thing that your original wish didn’t come true?  That perhaps something better, different than expected, but better, took it’s place?

Which I guess is my long way of getting around to one of the ways I pray.  Rather than asking God for a situation to turn out a specific way, I ask for the situation to turn out the best way.  I put it in His hands.  I ask for His calming presence to be felt in the lives of the people I love.  I have faith.

I pray that your heart is open, that you let His calming presence be felt in your life.  That whatever is heavy on your mind, the load will be lightened.

A Bit of Light

Keep peering through the darkness

I love seeing the sunrise.  I think I’ve mentioned before that my morning coffee drinking spot faces the East, so I am treated to a sunrise every morning.  As the seasons have changed, I’ve noticed the sunrise has slowly rotated in a Southerly direction.  Where I used to notice it rising over the palm trees, it now peeks up through a neighbors large live oak.

It’s still the same beautiful sunrise, but you have to look a little harder to see it peeking through the dark branches of the tree.  I think that is kind of like our prayer life, or seeing the light of Christ’s love.  Sometimes it is so easy to see the glorious colors and brightness of the light.  Sometimes we feel that the light is blocked by our worries or the troubles of the world.  Take heart though!  Keep peering through the darkness, knowing that the light is always there.  Something as simple (and yet as hard!) as changing your perspective can bring the light back into focus.

Yesterday morning on our way to Mass we saw a beautiful sunrise with light streaming up from the clouds.  Since there was no traffic directly behind us, Dan was able to slow way down on the bridge so that I could lean slightly out the window to get a photo.  Tightly gripping my phone with both hands and trying to hold it steady against the wind, I was able to capture the moment.  Perhaps this is another metaphor for life?  Hold on to the good tightly with both hands, steady yourself against the buffeting winds, and capture those beautiful, wonderful moments.

sunrise 10-21-18

Remember, God’s love is ALWAYS there.  Keep praying and peering through any darkness and you will see His light.

Grandma For A Year

There’s nothing like being a Grandma!

There is nothing like being a Grandma.  I’ve always heard people say that and wondered what they meant by it.  I love being a Mom.  We were blessed with great kids who are truly wonderful people that we always enjoy being around and spending time with.  So of course I would love being a Grandma, as it’s our baby’s baby.

Dan and I were fortunate to be at a stage in our lives that allowed us to be close by at the crucial time.  We had sold our house in Michigan, and hadn’t yet found a new home in Florida.  So we rented an apartment for three months that was about 12 minutes away from our daughter and son-in-law’s home.  We were able to help with some last minute baby preparations, and to be there with Jennifer through 3 days of labor.  The excitement of our granddaughter’s birth was topped off when I finally got to hold her in my arms.  Her warmth, her smell, her soft baby skin, still covered in birth fluids.  My heart was overflowing with love.  first time holding Lila

I made breakfasts and dinners, and cleaned and did laundry, and waited impatiently for my share of baby snuggles.  Baby Lila wormed her way deeper and deeper into my heart.  The daily visits ended when we moved back to Florida.  But I am so grateful that we had the opportunity for that early bonding time.

We fly up for visits every month to six weeks or so, and Lila is always happy to see us.  We’ve watched her mature and grow, and seen the milestones and developing talents in person, in photos, and via Facetime.  It cracks me up how she tries to reach out through the phone or iPad to touch us.  The first year has flown by.

When Jennifer started planning Lila’s first birthday party, I was hoping that Lila would be able to wear the dress Jennifer wore on her first birthday.  Unfortunately, there is a stain on the front of the dress that I don’t think will come out after 30 years!  Since I like to sew, I knew I could make her something pretty to wear instead.

Jennifer chose a “She’s a wild ONE” jungle theme for the party and I instantly knew what fabric I was going to use.  I had ordered the palm print leaf matte nylon/spandex from Phee Fabrics intending to make a dress for myself.  But I hadn’t decided on the perfect pattern yet, so the fabric was stashed and waiting for me.  I thought it would be fun to make something for all three of us to wear on the special occasion.  I also thought that I had three yards of fabric stashed, but in reality only had two.  Yikes!

That ruled out the possibility of making dresses for all three of us, so Lila got a birthday dress, and the two of us got tanks.  I have made my daughter tank tops before, and have three different patterns cut out in her size.  Her favorite seems to be the Patterns for Pirates Essential Tank, so I chose that for her.  Its flattering, simple, yet shapely design is also great for layering, so I knew she would be able to wear it year round.  I debated between the Essential Tank and the Made for Mermaids Women’s Mya pattern for myself.  I decided on the Women’s Mya since it’s a bit roomier, I knew it would be a busy day, and there would be snacks and cake involved!

The birthday girl’s dress needed to be flowy and pretty and work with a knit fabric.  Jennifer and I both liked the Ellie and Mac Be Dreamy dress, but I had a few concerns.  Since Lila is a busy baby and a beginning walker, a floor length dress was out of the question.  The high-low hemline is cute, but still not practical for a one year old.  So it had to become a knee length dress.  This would be an easier fix if they lived close by and I could compare the pattern to her and her other dresses to judge the fit.  But she doesn’t, so I had to work off measurements. “No longer than seventeen inches” was the answer I received to “How long from her shoulder to hemline?”  So I overlapped my pattern pieces by the seam allowance, measured down from the shoulder, added a hem allowance and drew my new hemline.

Now to fit all these pieces onto only two yards of fabric!  I always take my time with pattern layout and cutting.  Everything needs to be perfectly on grain, and I hate wasting fabric.  Talk about your fussy cutting!  Fortunately, the palm leaf fabric is a true 60″ wide, so I was able to cut all the pieces facing (what I considered) upright on the fabric.  Since the leaves go in all different directions, it isn’t an obvious directional fabric and I could have made life easier by flipping things to fit, but that’s not how I roll!

The tank tops and dress sewed up easily, if slowly, since I just use a basic Brother sewing machine.  I like to finish my neck and arm band seams with my machine’s overcast stitch, followed by topstitching to get a clean, professional look.  (Someday I’ll get that fancy Babylock serger/coverstitch on my daydream wishlist!) 😉

The full circle flutter sleeves on the Be Dreamy dress were my other concern.  They needed to be light and fluttery, and preferably out of a solid, since the underside of the fabric shows.  Jennifer didn’t want to mix in a color with the palm leaf print, so that nixed the circular knit and tricot I had on hand.  My solution was white powernet.  I always use it to add support to the bras and workout tops I make, but it’s a versatile fabric.  I’ve added powernet side panels to workout capris, and have an idea percolating for a top with powernet insets.  Since it doesn’t fray, careful cutting with my rotary cutter was all the finish the fluttery sleeves needed.  I carefully tacked on some organza ribbon rose trim around the bottom of the bodice and along the hem and the birthday dress was complete!

Let the “She’s a wild ONE!” party begin!

plate napkinparty foodhostessG G Lila cakebirthday cupcakecupcake bite

There is indeed nothing like being a Grandma!  Lila fills my heart with joy and is a spectacular gift from God.  Her big blue eyes with mile long lashes, her laughs and saucy little grin, her backward waves, and heart-stopping desire to walk up and down the stairs, the way she practically runs while pushing her walker, and her undeniably fun personality all combine into one beautiful bundle of wonder that has completely stolen this Grandma’s heart.

Happy 1st birthday Lila!  I love you! Grandma Lila

 

 

What Draws You Closer?

It was the anniversary of my Dad’s death earlier this week.  Every Autumn I remember back to that year and to all the beauty and love, sadness and dignity, loss and growth our family went through.  Dad knew he was dying, he had grown weaker and more tired, and took several naps a day.  I remember my Mom, siblings, Aunt and I taking him to his cardiologist’s office to have his implantable cardiac defibrillator turned off.  They have to do this when a person is actively dying, or the defibrillator would keep shocking and shocking trying to get the heart into rhythm when it stops.  His doctor talked with him, asked him questions, and asked us if we had any questions.  It has to be a sobering moment for a doctor to know that there is nothing more that they can do for their patient.  The handshakes, hugs, and kind words from him and the staff as they said goodbye to a patient they knew they would never see again spoke volumes about the seriousness of the situation, and their fondness for Dad.

That last couple of months our family came together as we hadn’t been since childhood.  Us kids took turns spending days and evenings with Mom so that there was always someone there to help.  We bathed him, encouraged him to eat a few bites of food, refilled his water cup, helped him roll over and try to get comfortable.  By the end we were all basically living there.  I did loads of laundry every day, we took turns cooking a meal or going to pick something up.  We were so grateful when kind neighbors and friends would drop off food or snacks.  My youngest sister and I had longer drives to our day jobs, while my middle sister and brother were walking distance to their evening and weekend jobs.  Our varying schedules helped with ensuring that there was always someone there.

While Dad slept I would frequently sit quietly in a chair just to be with him.  We’d have conversations about whatever was on his mind.  His faith was strong.  He knew he was going to heaven.  Dying wasn’t what bothered him, it was the “collateral damage” that concerned him.  Knowing that everything would change, worrying about Mom and what would happen to her.

I remember conversations with Mom as we laid in bed with Dad.  About how we can’t see the big picture.  God has the big picture and knows that everything is going to turn out all right.   It’s like a tapestry and we see this little, teeny, tiny corner of the picture and don’t know or understand how it’s all connected to everything else, and keeps going on.

The opportunity for closeness and increased faith when someone is dying is a gift.  Was it hard?  Oh yeah.  It was exhausting and stressful.  I spent the last month living out of a paper grocery sack of clothes that I would stop by my house and exchange on my way home from work when I couldn’t stand wearing the same outfits over and over again for another week.  Like my sister, I burned through every sick, personal and vacation day to go to appointments for Dad and to be there for Mom.

By that last week we were all walking zombies from the lack of sleep and the stress.  The slightest sound from Dad and we would hop out of bed, or leap up from a chair, bound over a laundry basket like a gazelle running to see what he needed.  Since I had no more time off, I went to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday wearing my usual business attire.  Yet I bundled up in a zip front hoodie over my dress while at my desk, huddled in it like a hug.  When I got to my parents home after work, the hospice nurse who visited daily and the CNA who visited twice a week were in the bedroom talking.  As soon as I heard Dad’s breathing, I knew we were at the end.

It’s called the death rattle, and once you’ve heard it, you know what it means.  I hugged Mary, our nurse, and thanked her for being there for us, knowing that we would probably never see her again.  I don’t know if Mom fully grasped it yet, but I know my sisters did.  We spent the evening together and all went to bed, and Mom got in the shower.  Although it was very late, and I was exhausted, I felt the need to climb out of the guestroom bed I was sharing with my sister and go talk to Dad.  I laid my head on his chest, told him that I loved him, and that we would take care of Mom. Mom heard me in there and asked from the shower if everything was ok.  I told her it was, then continued my conversation with Dad.  I told him that it was ok to let go, that we would be alright.

Dad went to heaven to be with Jesus in the early hours of the morning, a place he had already glimpsed when he was slipping out of consciousness and proclaimed “So beautiful, all the colors and light, it’s just so beautiful!”

Oh, how I miss him!  He was so fun, and funny, so smart and handy, a grounding force in our lives.  I wish he could be here to enjoy our expanding family.  The grandchildren, weddings, and great-grandchildren that have added more love to our family, with two more weddings planned within the next year.  He would have enjoyed the babies and children, and having more people to love.

Death can shake your faith, or it can help it grow stronger.  God increased my faith, changing me in ways both  simple and profound.  I am much more focused on the things that are important in life, I am at peace.  I feel joy and calmness, and going to Mass makes me happy, gives me the foundation in life that I need.  “Thank you Jesus” is a common enough refrain because I do realize how very blessed I am.  I pray that when you encounter troubles, that you find the love and joy that your heart seeks, that your faith is increased.  Will you open your heart to Him?