“Ready, Freddy?” “Ready, Betty!”
Levi and I have used these code words since he could buckle his carseat by himself. It let me know that he was buckled in and ready to ride. (Course I always double check first.) He used to think it was so funny. When he was first learning about rhyming words…we would continue…“Where’s Eddie?” “Have you seen Letty?” “I’m feeling sweaty.” “I want spaghetti.” And on it would go until something else caught his attention.
Yesterday…4/12/17…after school pickup…
“Ready, Freddy?” No answer.
“Ready, Freddy?” Still no answer.
“Levi, are you buckled up and ready to go.” “I am.”
“Well, why didn’t you answer me?”
“Lulu,…… I just didn’t want to say it.”
“Well, Lulu…it sounds a little silly to me. And I am in kindergarten now, you know?”
“Oh, so you think you are too old to play this game anymore? It always makes me smile when we say it.”
“Don’t be sad, Lulu, I just think I’m too big now to say that. Can we just not do that anymore?”
“Well, of course, Little Man. I understand. When you grow up, some things you thought were funny one time…just seem silly now. So we don’t have to say that anymore.”
“Will you be sad, Lulu?”
“Of course not! You can always tell me if you prefer not to do something. Maybe I’ll agree. Maybe I won’t. But, you can be honest with me always.”
“I love you, Lulu!”
“And, I adore you, Levi! Now are you ready to go!”
“Yes, m’am. I am!”
And then we both started laughing again…his attempt at becoming grown up had led him to make another rhyming answer!
He understood the irony of that without me saying anything….another sign of maturing and growing. I can say I’m sad to see it happen, but that’s not really the truth. The truth is I will forever miss these little jokes we have had between ourselves. But, I want him to grow and explore and change. This is what he was born for…to become a man. And, even though he has lots of growing left to do…now that he’s 6…some things will be forever different. As he begins first grade, he will see this world with such different eyes. My prayer is that God gives him a mind that delights in new information….that he will always nurture his creative side…and that his goal will always be to be more like Jesus everyday! And, that he can always laugh with his Lulu!
He’s ready, Freddy!
I am a woman…daughter…sister…wife…mother…daughter-in law…mother-in-law… sister-in-law…cousin…aunt…great aunt…grandmother …friend…teacher…nurse…classmate…church member. I am a story teller… planner…artist… crafter… a decorator…a musician…writer…a collector. I am a driver…cook…caregiver…dishwasher.
I love blue skies…sunshine…kisses from my boys…tenderness from my husband…smiles of pride from my daddy…sweet memories of my mother…hugs from my friends…laughter from my grandson…talks with my daughter-in-love…time with my sister…camp with the family. I love reading a good book…watching a funny TV show…cooking out in the backyard…and floating in the pool. I love to be silly…plan surprises…have fun…make people laugh. I am messy and unorganized. My mind is always on overdrive…I have ADD. I have health issues that cause me pain. I have hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
I love chocolate..sweet tea…bread…Chinese food…Mama’s pound cake…sweet potatoes…broccoli…filet mignon…baked chicken…zipper peas…cheese crackers…graham crackers…peanut butter…eggs over easy with grits and bacon… little white powdered doughnuts…and chocolate.
I like to decorate…plan parties…throw parties. I like to play inside games…give gifts…read books to my grandson and grand nephew. I like to travel and explore new places. I like to dress in style. I love beautiful jewelry. And shoes. And purses.
I love listening to music…all kinds of music. I love to sing… but only with children….or congregational hymns at church…or in my car when I’m alone. I like making lists and marking things off…I like to take hot showers. I love to sit outside in nature and just breathe. I love to get a good book and get lost in it. I am truly happy to share everything I own. Things are not heart possessions...people are. What I have, I’ll gladly lend to you!
I love to teach children. It is my life calling, I believe. It brings me joy to see a little one coming to grasp some new information. I believe in following rules and having boundaries. I believe children should be immersed in art and music! I believe children should be listened to and taught when to listen themselves. I believe children should be taught there is always someone in charge. I believe they should learn about self control…and empathy. I believe we should respect a child’s feelings…never telling them ‘they shouldn’t feel that way’…they do. We should try to understand them.. I believe that they should know that doing the right thing...is its own reward and not expect another! I believe they should be surrounded by Biblical teaching from birth. There is nothing that matches the look on a child’s face when they ‘get understanding’ about a detail! It is magical to watch! There is no love that is so pure or honest and true as the arms of a child begging to wrap you in a bear hug! I imagine that’s the way my Heavenly Father feels about me, too!
I love a full moon…and the birds that come to the feeder outside my window…especially the redbirds…I love bare trees in the winter with all the branches showing…I love seeing tiny green buds appear on those same trees in spring. I love swinging in a porch swing.
I totally and unabashedly adore my 3 boys! My boys are strong, and they are weak. My boys are kind and gracious, but they are selfish and stubborn also. My boys are full of empathy…they lived through learning that trait. They ‘re the best parts of their father and I..and their grandparents. They never followed all our rules…sometimes they went their own way. They had the opportunity to choose the easy way…some took the hard. I believe that every single thing you go through in this life is a piece of the puzzle that fits together to make you who you are. Lessons learned come at a price…we all paid. We all grew. They are men who I love to talk with and yes, even still try to reason with and finagle. They love their Mama. They hold my heartstrings. We walked through the ravages of disease and sadness and pain together….and we grew through it and are the better for it. Brother helped brother helped brother and still do today. I weep at the goodness of God to bless me with the total and complete perfect gifts they are to me!
God blessed me with a husband who is a man of God. He is a deliberate thinker and a fairer man you will never find. He weighs both sides of a situation and with God’s help makes his decision. Always, he waits on God. I admire his peaceful nature and his patient ways. I rely on his wisdom to reel me in when I go off on some tangent. He is a man after God’s own heart. He is my anchor in this life we chose to go through together. (We absolutely argue and fuss. We absolutely don’t always agree. He absolutely drives me bonkers at times. We absolutely are together forever!)
I am a sinner saved by the grace of Jesus. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I love reading my Bible…singing the old hymns…responsive readings. I am Heaven bound! The Word of God can bring tears of joy to my eyes as I read it. He wrote it just for me! He added things that just I need to hear! It is my personal letter from Him!
I believe that God is in total control of the universe. I do not worry about global warming and such…my God is big enough to handle this planet…after all He created it. If we need more bumblebees, He can handle that! I believe God uses many things in our world to speak to us. I believe He speaks to animals…I believe he uses animals to teach us and to guide us and to protect us. He made them all and they are one of His great gifts.
I love life…and the people in it…I love learning about people groups of other cultures…I think missionaries that spread the gospel in foreign lands are true heroes. I love seeing the beautiful people who are so different than me, and were raised differently than me and do life differently than me. And, yet, we can serve the same God! I so admire and pray for those who give their lives in the winning of people to the Lord…especially in difficult situations. They deserve my praise.
I know who I am. I know what I believe. My belief system was formed from childhood as I was raised around the people and places my parents thought were decent influences. The friends I grew up with and their parents…the teachers and leaders in my church…my teachers at school and college…all left their lessons on me. I am strong and resilient. I have weathered very tough times. I have been inundated with stress and grief. These times brought lesson to my soul that stay with me always. Lessons learned from living through tough times sticks well! I am a survivor! I can speak for myself and am not afraid to do so. I believe it is always possible to be kind. I believe that you have the same right to your beliefs as I do. I do not need to belittle your beliefs.
I believe every law abiding citizen should have the same rights…I think our country should welcome any non-criminal who is willing to become a citizen, and learn the English language. I believe we should protect ourselves from the evil in the world whenever we can. I believe we should be knowledgeable and up to date on daily news. I believe we should never put our full trust in anyone other than God. I believe we should be discerning about who we follow. I believe the Bible when it says to “flee from evil”. I believe we can be kind to everyone, regardless whether they think like we do or not. But, your rights don’t trump my safety! I believe no group should have to sacrifice their rights just to make another group happy. I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe every child deserves the right to life. I believe those who abuse children and animals are deserving of a hotter hell.
I believe our guiding light should always be the Bible. I believe it is the perfect Word of God with no mistakes or double meaning. I believe our lives should be governed by His Word. I fully believe that God makes NO mistakes.
I believe we should pray for our government leaders. They are in their positions because God allowed it. Whether we voted for them are not. They are leading our nation and need the intervention of the Holy Spirit in all they do!
I believe I am wonderfully made. I believe God chose me to be who I am…where I am…with whom I am. I believe He chose the circumstances of my life in order to mold me into what He wants me to be. I believe He is always good. I believe He hears and acknowledges every prayer. I believe His way is always right. I believe He speaks to me and you. I believe He sends angels to watch over us. I believe He created everything just as His Word says and I believe He is in charge of what happens…when it happens…and where it happens. I believe He is never surprised. I believe He is all knowing . I believe Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. I believe He always keeps His promises. I believe He is truth. I believe God is love. I believe I will live with Him forever.
It is for me, then, to speak up when the opportunity is put before me…to speak wisdom when it is the appropriate time to do so…to take every chance God puts in front of me to speak the truth as I know it…to be quiet when silence is the best answer. I can impact others by living true to God and myself…where He put me…when He tells me.
This is the woman that I am. These are the ways I live my life with the freedoms that I enjoy…fought for and won by patriots and many wise and wonderful women before me. I am a woman of value. I matter in the lives of people I meet. I matter to my friends. I have been blessed with the best group of heart friends ever! Women whom I love and cherish and who continue to teach me! I matter to my family. This is what I am grateful for. I thank God I was born an American. I thank God that He chose me to belong to Him. I am blessed beyond measure.
I believe these words with all my heart and soul. Amen!
3/8/17…International Women’s Day
You are equally as valuable. You have your own set of values and likes. You can take some things easily and others turn your stomach. You are wonderfully made. I encourage you to take the time to put it all down in an essay such as this. There is no formula to follow. Who you are and what you experience works together to make the special woman you are. I do not feel boastful for sharing with you my heart thoughts. I feel understood. Tell someone today….better yet…write it down…just for you…just for posterity…for your great grandchildren to get a glimpse of who you are. You are important…You are special...You deserve to be known!
I love my grandson. I adore my grandson. Since he was an infant we have shared our days together (along with other grandmother). We have enjoyed wonderful days together as I’ve watched him grow.
I’ve watched as the toys have changed signaling new skills or interests. We’ve gone from rattles and chewy things to pull toys and toys that easily amuse. We’ve gone through big fat Legos to millions of teeny tiny ones that hurt like OUCH!!! when you step on them. We progressed from Play Doh to Mr. Potato Head…along with his missus! He fell in love with the movie CARS…and we have no less than 75 of the delightful people/cars to inhabit
my our studio. Of course they have an entire city consisting of pastures, and drive ins and car shops and tire stores and a junk yard for Mater! We have progressed from stuffed animals to the Disney characters to the Monsters, Inc family to the whole gang from the Toy Story conglomerate. We have colored in books, on paper, on cardboard, on canvas. We have painted on easels, on canvas on rocks on leaves, on the table. We have cut reams of paper and glued the results to other reams of paper…only colored. And, for the last little while..we have been inundated …and converged on…enveloped even, by Star Wars.
The characters are plentifully bestrewn all across the studio floor. There are big space ships and little spaceships and teeny tiny space ships. There are people in war regalia and creatures I did not know existed…but are ready for battle. There are 268 teeny tiny guns….each of which go to a certain character. To me a gun is a gun. To Levi, the character’s correct gun in his or her hands makes all the difference in winning the battle and living another day.
Now the thing about Star Wars is that I’ve already gone through this Invasion twice in my lifetime…about 40 years ago and again 7 years later with the instigators being boys named Adam (Levi’s daddy) and Alex (Levi’s Uncle). Alex was actually the more enamored one and when he was 16, insisted that we pack up the brightest and best of his collected dynasty to save for posterity. And it all sat in a big plastic bag at the top of his closet just waiting for another little man child to have the love and vision for what could be in a galaxy far, far away. And, one such devotee was birthed into our family. And, may I just add…the young one plays with those toys for all he’s worth. The ones from 39 some odd years ago are not even made anymore. He has some special pieces. And, they mix together just fine. He makes sounds for each separate spaceship and people mover. He engages in battles and wars that extend out of my studio into the foyer and down the hall. There is nothing…NOTHING…he loves better than for his Uncle Alex, who knows the finest details about Star Wars and has lived with these people for 33 years, to engage in battle warfare with him to save our very existence here on Planet Earth…or some such place. And, his daddy is becoming about as crazed as he is about collecting the various good guys and bad guys and good space ships and bad space ships…which is great by Levi!
So, my point her being…that Dear. darling Levi has a plethora of toys and books and art supplies to keep his healthy little mind occupied with plenty to do. That’s why this was particularly hard to take………
LEVI…Lulu, I’m thinking of another game for us to play.
LULU….OK, I’m a little tired of blowing up planets and sailing spaceships through the universe. How do you play?
LEVI…First, you go sit on the couch. But don’t lean on the back of it… sit at the edge of it.
LULU…OK, I can do that. And so I did! He proceeded to take himself all the way to the other side of the room. He then placed his body in a position reminescent of a runner beginning a big race. ” Something is amiss”, my clever brain told me.
LULU...Can you tell me the name of this game before we start?
LEVI…Sure…It’s called KNOCK DOWN THE GRANDMA !!!!????****!!!!
LULU…Well little man, there is one thing I need to tell you before we start.
LULU..You’ve picked up some tragic space sickness and it is lodged in your brain and is making you think about crazy things if you think I’m playing this game.
LEVI…AW, come on Lulu, it will be fun!
LULU…NO! NO! just no!
And, I destroyed the light in a little boys eyes who had such high hopes that his new game would be a delightful change of pace for all involved. But, I’ve seen that particular light in years past…and I never forgot it Hard history lessons only repeat because some one didn’t remember.
And, because I am a wise and clever grandmother, I was out the door and into the yard before he could blink. I grabbed the basket ball and threw it into his arms as he rounded the garage door. And we then spent half an hour shooting baskets.
And, that’s the way I saved my life on 2/22/17!
While getting ready to teach my last art class, Levi and I decided to make a sample at home before I taught the project to the children at school.
I taught the children how to draw a valentine heart shape. Then we covered the back of the drawing with bleeding tissue paper. This kind of tissue paper oozes lots of color when it is wet. The children used valentine colors and covered their papers. We saturated them with water. The next day, the tissue was dry…and all the lovely color had transferred to the heart. They then cut them out.
I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the rest of them, but here is Levi’s. I love to frame children’s art, And, it’s quite easy. I just bought a cheap frame from Michael’s and backed his heart with a piece of scrapbook paper. Makes such a pretty picture! And, oh how special a child feels when they see their art framed and put in a place of honor. Change it up with the seasons….or just start a seasonal grouping of art work through the year!
I love this…happy heart…happy color…from my happy valentine! (Another Lulu/Levi project)
Yesterday was the last day of Levi’s Christmas Vacation. Today his school starts back. We had plans to go to a movie yesterday with Pa, but Levi decided he just wanted to stay here and play. Fine with us!
After his breakfast, I showed him a project I had found on the internet, and he was anxious to get started. It was a Star Wars thing. We sat at the big table and worked together. It required some concentration. (This is BB8..in case you don’t know such things…a good guy droid…from Star Wars.)
So, I began talking to him and asking him some general questions. He was in a talkative mood and happy to answer. I had some extra paper nearby and I scribbled his answers as we talked.
Here, then, is a look inside his mind yesterday.
Now you are in Kindergarten. Is is harder? Just a little…but I do good work. Except when I make noises out loud. My teacher does not like that! (We’ve discussed that with his teacher several times! Levi says he doesn’t mean to make noises…they just slip out!)
What do you like to do the best at school? play outside.
Who are some of your friends? Laney Brooke, Lydia, Slade, Ty, Jackson, Cal, Vance and lots more. I have lots of friends!
Tell me about your teacher at school? My teacher is so kind. And, she loves hugs, too! (We love you, Mrs. Parrish!)
I know you like to go out to eat. Can you tell me some of the places you like to go? I Hop, McDonalds, Chick Fil A, Blue Plate, China Wok.
If you could only choose one, which would it be? Chick Fil A. (And, the playground there propels it in to first place!)
What is something fun you have done with your parents lately? We went to movies and saw Star Wars Rogue 1. Uncle Alex went too. That was fun!
Anything else? We went to Callaway Garden to see the pretty lights at Christmas!
What do Mom and Dad do that makes you laugh? Tickle me.
You like to visit with Papa Clyde, don’t you? I sure do!
What is it that he says about you? He tell me I am a clever boy! I am, too!
Tell me what you do on a really fun day. It’s when my Daddy is home and he and I play and go to Toys R Us and have fun!
Tell me about spending time with Mia and Papa (other grandparents). I like to play with their dog, Buddy. (A Jack Russell terrier). We exercise. I like to ride the tractor with Papa. Sometimes, I drive! They have berries for me to pick sometimes. They’re so good! I shop a lot with Mia. She buys groceries every day! And, she cooks good, too! Uncle Brian swims with me.
What is something fun you do with Pa (Don) . I like to go to Dothan Powersports with him. I have my own office and I like to work at my desk. Then we ride my motorcycle and sometimes we go on trails by the railroad tracks. I like Pa’s good breakfasts he fixes for me. I help him, too!
OK. Well what do you and I do that is fun? We do art together anytime I want to. And, we make things. You like to play with me and I like it when we sing together. Lulu, you are kind. And, you take good care of me. And, you make me and John Thomas a Boogaloo Camp! It’s the best fun! We like to play in the pool when it gets hot outside!
Did you go on any trips last year? I went to Disney World…YEA!!!. And, I went to the beach a lot. I went to Louisiana to see my cousins. And, Boogaloo Camp, too!
What did you like best about Disney World? I liked the Jedi training. And, next my favorite was It’s A Small World. I love Disney World. Can we go again? I already know what I want to do!
What makes you laugh? Funny jokes. And, I like to make funny pictures on your phone! Then you laugh, too, Lulu!
(He’s right! He’ll confiscate my phone and without my knowing, he’ll make pictures of different people and put silly hats on them or glasses or some such nonsense. Sad thing is, I have not a clue how he does this!)
Do you like to sing? Yes, I do!
What do you like to sing? My favorite is the Star Wars music…but I can only hum it because it doesn’t have any words. I like the songs I sing at school. Some are funny. And, I like Christmas songs, too! I go to choir at my church. Oh, Yeah, I like the jazz CD you have that I can hear all the instruments, too! (He and I are learning about instruments and the differing sounds they make.)
You love books. You have lots and lots of them. What are some of your favorites? The Little Blue Truck, The Pout Pout Fish, and every book I have is my favorite! (His Mom has read to him every single night since he was a few months old. It has paid off big time. He really appreciates books and treats them as treasures! Smart Mom.)
I know you and your Mom read every night. We do. We read some of my books and then a Bible story. Then we pray.
What is your favorite story in your Bible book? When Jesus dies on the cross to save us. He didn’t stay dead. He lives in Heaven.
Are you a happy boy? Yes I am!
Why are you happy? I do fun things. And, lots of people love me! Do you want to now what makes me sad?
I like being with my Mommy. I like it when she is out of school and we can be together all day. I really miss her when she has to go back to school. I cry sometimes when we talk about it.
I can sure understand that, Levi. Your Mommy takes good care of you and does lots of things with you. But, you know what? Mia and Lulu are sure glad we have a chance to take care of you while she works! You’re a fun boy to be around!
What do you think is the prettiest thing God made? Animals and birds. And, people. People are beautiful. I would not even be on this earth without God.
What do you know about God? God is strong. He has power to protect us. He loves us.
You have a big family. What does your family do for you? Let’s count how many there are. I think there is about a hundred. And 4 pets. I like them, too. They all take care of me and do fun things with me.
And, suddenly, the mood was broken. He finished his project and was off to do what little boys do. And, I was left to clean up the art supplies we had used. I often wonder what goes through the mind of a child. Today, 1/3/17, I know. It’ll all change as he grows, but what a sweet reminder of what was in his heart today!
*****SPOILER ALERT: MANY CUTE PICTURES!*****
We talked for over a year and we planned for several months and carefully made reservations. We read and studied and knew just what we wanted to do…or so we thought! We waited until we thought Levi was old enough to really enjoy it…we got that part right! We filled our gas tanks and headed south...DISNEY, HERE WE COME! Early on the morning of Nov.9, 2016 we began our trip. A couple of stops along the way…and we were there….in the land of the mouse!
Quickly we checked into our room around lunch time…we had passes for the first ride at 1:45! And we made it! Oh! it felt good to walk those streets of the Magic Kingdom again! All the happy people, the music, the quaint buildings and more smiles than you could count! Two more passes during the afternoon and then we made our way to dinner!
Pirate beds in our rooms…
New ‘BB8’ pajamas…
The next morning we slept a little longer cause the big Mickey’s Christmas Party was tonight! We had a nice breakfast and then hit the Magic Kingdom again!
Levi found these funky glasses at breakfast…
Many were the times his feet didn’t touch the ground…
The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast…then headed to the Magic Kingdom!. Tonight is Mickey’s Christmas Party, so we want to pace ourselves through the day! HA! Pace ourselves? With a 5 year old? Didn’t happen!
All decorated for Christmas…
At the Christmas parade was where I saw our Levi the most animated. With snow falling overhead and a cool chill in the air, it was perfect weather for a parade. Once it began, it was a continual feast of lights and sounds and singing and lovable characters. One after the other they came! Levi would push his little body outside the edge of the crowd to keep us informed. “Y’all its Goofy and Pluto! Y’all it’s dancing girls! Look it’s tin soldiers marching! Hey! It’s Mickey and Minnie” First he climbed up Don’s shoulders, then a while in my lap (the wheelchair raised me up) then on Adam’s shoulders, to finally collapse in Suzanne’s lap when they were all gone! What a glorious parade! What Christmas joy it brought to those watching! Delightful!
“It is God who has given us these times of joy!” Psalm 81:4
Day 3 was our big day at Hollywood Studios. Levi was looking most forward to this! He is a big StarWars fan (along with his daddy and uncles) and he wanted to do the Jedi training! They had to be in line at 8:00 to try and get a spot. But Don and I didn’t. We rested a while, then ate breakfast and joined them at the park about 11. Levi was able to meet several of the characters and see so much of the Star Wars paraphernalia they used in the movies. He was beside himself with excitement!
And a Jawa…
Then the time came for the show and he was picked to participate! What fun! He was a ‘young padawan’…boys who will eventually learn to be a Jedi Knight. He got to fight Darth Vader with his lightsaber!
Oh, what a special treat! Afterwards he went to the store and got his own costume and made his own lightsaber! It seems young padawans are exhausted after a fierce battle with the Dark Side!
Day 4 was Epcot Day. This was not as much fun to any of us because there was a food and wine festival going on and the crowd was shoulder to shoulder…literally. We couldn’t stop to see anything much in the countries area…we just got swept along with the crowds.
A highlight here was our dinner where the characters come by and speak to all the children. This made Levi even more excited~
And, we came to Day 5, our last day…back at Magic Kingdom. We rode lots of rides today. I had promised Levi that he and I would do “It’s a Small World and “Dumbo” together and we did! Sweet memories of riding these same rides with my boys 28 years ago on their first Disney trip…and a couple of other times since then. He rode a few others as well. One of his favorite seemed to be riding on my electric scooter, though!
Little boys and their little toys…tiny droids he made…
On the monorail…
With Mama and Daddy…
With Lulu and Pa…
We also rode over to see the cars from the movie “CARS” and “CARS2”. He loved being able to see these in person…we have about 100 of the small ones in the Studio and at his house…
Good ole Mater…Lightning McQueen…..and Fillmore…
And the end came on Day 6, as we packed up the cars and headed back north to Dothan. It was a trip full of good times…one Levi and his parents will long remember…as will Don and I. We talked of the sweetness of having a grandchild as kind and loving as Levi. He was a trooper…never whined…never complained…even took it with a smile if we could not ride something. However, he did not like one of the little roller coasters even though his parents were with him. Don’t blame him a bit!