Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bonding From A Distance

I have been blessed to have all of my faraway little people visit us in the past two months. We have had such a great time going to Disney, the beach and swimming in our pool. Lots of fun, food and memories to carry me until the next time we're together.

But what I want to share with you today, is a moment I won't soon forget. 

When grandchildren are born close by, you get to bond with them and be a part of their lives so there is no doubt who their Nana is. But when you live faraway, it's harder to bond especially when they're so little. This is why when this moment happened, it melted my heart to tears.

I was tucking my daughter's youngest little girl in bed. She is two. Brielle has only been to our home a few times, and this was the first time where she's really talking and expressing herself well. As I kissed her goodnight and sang her her favorite bedtime song--Tomorrow, from the musical Annie--she said something I didn't expect...

It was the sweetest moment as she looked in my eyes with such love.

So, distance doesn't prevent bonding from taking place. This little girl has a permanent fixture in my heart, and now I know, I have one in hers too. Thank you, God! 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Nana's Wall Of Love

I've had the idea for a long time, but it didn't happen until Tom took me to IKEA for a spontaneous shopping trip. It was right after our son and family had said their goodbyes to Orlando, leaving me once again with a sad heart. He knows me well and that it's always good to help me find a happy distraction--like the beach or a day date anywhere but in our quiet, empty home.

So here we were at this store on the other side of town that I hadn't been to in a while. He told me as we took the escalator UP that I could buy whatever I wanted. Wow! I knew his words (and wallet) had limits, but he didn't want to spoil my fun thinking of the possibilities.

It worked.

I loved looking at everything, thinking if I wanted this or that. If you've been there you know the winding path through every room imaginable takes time--lots of time. And Tom was in no hurry. We talked, we laughed, we thoroughly enjoyed just being together. Although I can never get used to their annoying shopping carts. Tom gladly took over that frustration for me too. :-)

And then I found it! The one thing, or should I say eight things, that I have wanted. Eight picture frames the size of a standard piece of printing paper (8 1/2" x 11"), with hinged doors that open on the front.

My adorable grandchildren love to draw me pictures--all the time. My refrigerator is full of their art work as well as a drawer marked "Nana's Treasures". Now I will have a place for me to display their masterpieces on a rotating basis where I can see them.

I took great delight in hanging them in my laundry room. I took a photo and sent it to my daughter and daughter-in-love, inviting them to tell my little people to start sending me their artwork. They squealed with delight! And I must admit, I did too.

The best part? It didn't cost Tom much at all--$4.99 for each frame, but the joy it brought my heart is priceless! I'm so glad that Papa loves Nana as much as Nana loves him. We make a great team.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I'm Back...

...and I must tell you this is the first time I didn't think in the back of my head about having to say goodbye at the end of the week. I was there in the moment and enjoyed every second. Well, except for the part when 3 year old Stella fell and broke her foot. :-( I didn't enjoy that at all. It's the first broken bone for one of our grandchildren, and she was a real trooper. I think she fared better than Mom and Nana. She was thrilled when the doctor offered her a glittery, purple cast. Thankfully, she'll only need it for four weeks. Tracy is happy too, she no longer has to carry her on her back "like a kangaroo" as Stella called it. "Hop, Mom!"

We managed to rally the gang for a much anticipated Easter photo. I say much anticipated--that was by me; the gang wasn't into it so much, but they made Nana happy.

The setting is our son's new backyard. I arrived in Atlanta on Monday and we left on Tuesday for Tennessee to visit with him and his family. I loved seeing the kids playing outside on what Ashley said was "the warmest day of the year so far." 

The laughter was contagious, everyone was so happy to be together. This was Brielle meeting her newest cousin, Phoebe for the first time. It was precious.

As I flew home I tucked away all the memories we made on this trip, grateful to have a family who wants to see me. Being a faraway nana may not have been my choice, but I'm discovering the times we share because of the distance are more precious than if we lived close to each other. If we did, I'm afraid we'd be tempted to take our abundance of time for granted and wouldn't even realize it.

So whether you're near or far from your grandchildren make the most of the time you've been given. It is a gift!

Brielle turned two

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Perspective Matters

Next week I will once again get to be with all my grandchildren for a few days. I'm delivering the girls matching Easter dresses, spending time with my daughter while her husband travels for work, and hopefully going to see my son's new home that they're moving into this weekend. It will be fast, fun and full of photo opportunities. But always in the back of my mind and heart is the reality that I will have to say goodbye....again! 

Our pastor said something this past Sunday that helped me so much in embracing the distance.

"If my children grow up and live all over the map of the world, yet love God and are doing what He's called them to do, I will rejoice! That's the whole point of parenting--training our children to grow up and continue the race they've been called to run. It doesn't matter what their address is, it matters where their heart is!" - Aron Osborne, Metro Life Church

As I pack my bags this time I'm taking with me this perspective. 

It doesn't weigh anything, the TSA employees won't pull me aside to ask about it, but my heart will be lighter like the balloon in this cartoon as I won't be carrying the weight of regret and disappointment.

How has a changed perspective helped you adjust to saying goodbye?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Adventures of Achoo Bunny

Last week I shared with you all about Achoo Bunny. This week I made a video of all his antics to give as a keepsake to my little people. I thought you'd like to see it too.

I spent hours trying to figure out how to make my own video using iMovies on my Mac. When I couldn't get it to work for me, I settled for Plan B. (It's always good to have a Plan B). I used my old phone to video the movie my smart phone put together for me. Sorry it's not the best quality, but when you're doing things for little people those things don't bother them at all.

And you'll also notice my youngest daughter texted me in the middle of the recording. Glad it was her and not a private text from my hubby. ;-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Adventures of Achoo Bunny

Papa and Nana are away to our cabin to celebrate our anniversary. Our four youngest grandchildren are the perfect age to take them along with us...kind of. You see when our four oldest grandchildren were their age we took Pooh Bear on a mountain adventure. We took pictures of him in all sorts of places and sent them to Bristol, Norah, Willow and Bradley.

This week we brought Achoo Bunny with us to entertain Stella, Vito and Brielle with his adventures. Phoebe is only 4 months so she doesn't get it yet. But she will one day.

So far Achoo Bunny has worn Nana's slippers because his feet were c-c-cold. Nana's slippers were just what he needed. This morning he warmed up nice by the fire. I'm sure there will be lots of fun adventures he shares with them before we head home.

You may be wondering why he has such a name; when he talks he always end up sneezing making his floppy ears flip over his eyes. This is always sure to make my kiddos laugh.

I love finding little ways to connect with my little people. Taking one of their toys along in a trip makes for a very special memory.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Privilege to Pray

I remember hearing my grandmother say that she was praying for us. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I must say that now, years later, I'm so grateful to God for a praying grandmother.

My Mom took up her mantle after Big Mama (that's what we called my Mom's mom) died. She prayed for all of us by name every day. When she passed away in December of 2012, this was one of the things I missed most--knowing that I was covered with her prayers.

This reminds me of something I committed to do after she was gone--pray for my own children and grandchildren specifically by name. I have eight grandchildren and five grown children including my son-in-love and daughter-in-love. If I add my husband to the mix that gives me 14 total family members--two weeks to pray for one each day.

After seeing the movie, War Room, I was inspired to go often to my prayer closet to pray passionately for all who were on my heart and mind. It's amazing to me how I can feel so strongly about something, and then completely forget all about it. Ugh! I hate that about me, but God is patient with me and gently prods me to do what I said I would do.

In an effort to help me, I'm sharing this post with you. Do you pray for your grandchildren? In what ways have you seen Him answer the cries of your heart? How do you remind yourself to pray often? I'd love to hear about it.

I leave you with a picture the Lord gave me that fits with the topic at hand: 

I was pondering about situations that cause my heart to sink. You know that feeling--you are given news that makes you reel emotionally. It literally feels as if you're taking a plunge on the steepest roller coaster. At least that's what I've experienced, and I hate roller coasters! 
In those moments, I sensed the Lord saying these circumstances are pulling your heart like a slingshot downward so that you can fling them towards heaven. Take those worries--those cares--those problems which seem unsurmountable--and fling them through prayer to the Throne of Grace. God loves to answer desperate prayer. 

You know what the best part is of all this? Prayer knows no distance. If your grandchildren live close to you or are on the other side of the world, your prayers are just as effective. Let us pick up this mantle together and pray daily for those we love.  

"The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry." Psalm 34:15

Copyright, 2016 Debi Walter
PC: Jennifer Woodward

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Found My Laughing Place

As a Faraway Nana one of my biggest disappointments is missing many of my grandchildren's firsts--first loose tooth, first time on the potty, first time rolling over...you name it. It's tempting to think you'll miss out on all of those special moments because of the distance.

But God!

Those are two words that never cease to amaze me. Certainly there are many firsts I have and will miss. But there are many that God has blessed me with experiencing first hand. This past week was a perfect example.

We were able to go with our daughter and her family to Walt Disney World for the first time. Seeing the joy on their faces was...worth.every.dollar (penny doesn't fit when you're talking about the Kingdom of the Mouse!) :-)

I soaked up all the memories knowing I would have to feed my soul on days when the distance gets the best of me and I'm sad.

I have to share with you one of my favorite memories...it was seeing our three-year old granddaughter, Stella, experience her very first roller coaster.

You never know how they're going to respond. This video delighted my soul. Makes me think of this quote from Song of the South...

Johnny: I wish I had a Laughing Place
Ginny: Me, too.
Uncle Remus: What make you think you ain't? Course you got a Laughing Place.
 Johnny: Really, Uncle Remus?
Ginny: Really?
Uncle Remus: Everybody's got one. The trouble is, most folks won't take time to go look for it.
Johnny, Ginny: Where's mine?
Uncle Remus: Well, now, that I can't exactly say. 'Cause where 'tis for one mightn't be where 'til for another.
Johnny: Come on, Ginny. Let's start looking.  
I think Stella found her laughing place--and you know what? I think I've found mine too!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, then...

...my heart is filled with volumes.

My daughter and daughter-in-love do an amazing job of helping me be a part of their daily lives. 

  • I get texts of quotes from my grandchildren that make me laugh-out-loud. 

  • I get close-up photos of little Phoebe's eyes, saying 'will they stay blue?' We pray so.

  • I get videos of Bradley shooting one of his first baskets during his Upwards Basketball game.
  • I get FaceTime calls from my nearly two-year old granddaughter who says she wants to call "Nina" and sing her Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
  • I get videos of Brielle who at 22 months has the vocabulary of a three year old, trying to say 'cantaloupe."

  • I get to sit next to Norah via FaceTime as she shows me her very own iPod and what it can do. She even set me up on her desk so she could show me how she's improving her cart wheels. :-)
  • I get photos of beautiful coloring pages completed with love for Nana.

  • And I get to read to my oldest granddaughters who cling on every word of the story. Except for this last time when Norah was drawn away from listening because the sun was shining on an unusually warm January day in GA. She kept looking out the window, and I completely understood because if I had been there with her that's exactly what I would have done too.
It's true, our world became much smaller when the Internet and Social Media came along. But there's nothing that can replace the feel of snuggling a baby close to your chest or kissing the cheeks of a giggling toddler. Those times are reserved for our face to face gatherings. But I must admit I'm grateful for the pictures I carry in my heart each and every day.

If you are a Faraway Nana like me, I encourage you to connect as often as possible with your grandchildren in any way you can. The time goes by too fast to waste a moment or a tear or a laugh with them. And they need to know that even though miles separate us we carry them close in our hearts 24/7.

I'd love to hear your stories of making the distance more bearable.

(Book shelf photo credit: inafurniture.com)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Waiting For And Welcoming Phoebe Wren To Our Family

In October were privileged to stay in Tennessee for 3 weeks to wait for the birth of our 8th grandchild to our son and his wife. Phoebe Wren (their 4th) was due mid-October so we got there a week early hoping to have plenty of time to meet her, hold her and help as much as needed.

Tom found us a little cottage on Airbnb.com that turned out to be perfect in every way. It was on an 5th generation dairy farm in a little town called College Grove south of Franklin. With one bedroom, a tiny kitchen and an even tinier bathroom, we managed to make it our home for our time there.

Now for our Phoebe story. The plan was for us to go to Jason and Ashley's home when she went into labor and watch their three kids so they could go to the birthing center, located about 15 minutes North in Nashville.

Ashley passed her due date, so she started getting a daily gift from me to ease the disappointment. This is a fun tradition she has enjoyed from me because she has always been late. <sigh>   I also spent time writing Phoebe's very own song from Nana. This another tradition I started with Bristol and have continued doing with all of my grandchildren.

On Saturday night, October 24th at 11:20p. Jason texted to say Ashley's water had broken. Yay! And OH NO! We were 15 minutes south of their home. We managed to get in the car in 7 minutes flat! Amazing, but it wasn't good enough. Jason called again to say they couldn't wait--they were waking the kids up and taking them with them to the birthing center. We said we'd meet them there.

We arrived in the parking lot right behind them at midnight. Ashley had just been taken to the birthing room, the nurse was there, but the midwife had yet to show up. We walked into the dimly-lit lobby to find our half-asleep grandchildren looking bewildered and concerned for their mom. Tom and I figured we'd wait to make sure all was well with Ashley before loading them back up and taking them home to bed.

At 12:05a. the nurse came in the lobby to get some water. I asked her if she had any idea how long it would be? I'll  never forget her response...

"Oh, she's already delivered. Both are doing fine!"

What!? We couldn't believe how close she was to delivering Phoebe in the car. And we thanked God for making it there just in time. A few minutes later we were allowed in to meet her for the first time. It was an amazing moment to see Bristol (8), Willow (6) and Vito (2) meet their new sister, and she has won our hearts.

I must admit that leaving Nashville knowing that I wouldn't be there for all the newborn moments was difficult. I soaked up all the cuddles and snuggles I could to last me until the next time I would see her.

God is helping me let go of what I've always wanted to embrace what His plans are for us and for them, and it is good.

Happy New Year!