This is my second blog written to capture memories made with our grandchildren. The link to my first blog, "Meet Our Grandchildren," is listed below in the right hand column. Hope you have time to read some of it. Our journey to becoming grandparents has been full of adventure and much love.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Magical Family Christmas

I went into this year's Christmas season very different from prior years. My season always began in October. Shopping lists were started. I loved picking your brains (and your Mom's before you) for clues to what you each wanted. The list for needed baking products was on the counter (Papa hates clutter on the counter).

This year Nana had pneumonia and could do literally nothing. Being a typical type A controlling person, I was so sad our family traditions would not happen this year. Of course, no one could make my magic happen but me. Right? Wrong.

Papa jumped right in there. Besides taking care of me, preparing the house for the holiday, he shopped for each of you. I was really impressed when he showed me the excel document he created to keep everything in control. Christmas Eve Papa cooked and set a beautiful table. Your Moms baked cookies and TT made garbage bread.

It was a magical Christmas. I sat and watched as all these elves just made Christmas Eve and Christmas happen exactly like previous years. They scurried around and as if with fairy dust each aspect of the night and following day went perfectly. It seemed so strange, yet so wonderful. I could not prepare our beautiful Christmas, but my family could.

This reinforced for me what a wonderful family we are. We live as one unit. We are available to each other for whatever is happening; the good, the bad and the ugly. I found a definition for the word family online: a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family.

Our family is not the traditional family. We are so much more than that. I believe each of us was hand picked by God and put together to form this one unit - our family. I have a poem framed and displayed in our home. I believe it is a very apt definition of us as one unit:

Our Family
is like a patchwork quilt
with kindness gently sewn.
Each piece is an original
with beauty of its own.
With threads of
warmth and happiness
it's tightly stitched together
to last in love
throughout the years . . .
Our family is forever.

Thank you, God, for our wonderful family:~)
Hugs and kisses,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kara and Emily at The Polar Express

Sometimes the best laid plans just don't always play out. Connie, Ray, Ken and I planned on bringing Kara and Emily to Saratoga to ride The Polar Express to the North Pole. (And yes, this is our second time this year. That's too long a story to tell.) Then good, old Nana had to get pneumonia, which means I got to stay home. Connie was great and sent pictures to my phone throughout the evening.

As you can see, the girls enjoyed their ride as much as the boys did. I may not have been on that train, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Look at the smile on Miss Em's sweet face. Then there is Kara doing the mouth thing she did as a baby when she was happy and shy at the same time.

I was not there physically. Yet I got to see the happiness my girls experienced on their way to the North Pole. It really is going to be a Merry Christmas.
Hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kara and Zack's Winter Concert 2011

Kara and Zack had separate concerts, as Kara is in Elementary School and Zack is in Middle School. There are only so many pictures you can take; therefore, I decided to combine both concerts into one blog entry.

Kara, you looked absolutely gorgeous in your festive dress. And so grown up with your curly hair pulled to one side. The combined finale featuring third, fourth and fifth grade choruses singing "Peace On This Silent Night" was sung beautifully.

Zack, your concert featured the Middle School chorus and band. The chorus was great as it always is. The sixth grade band played first and sounded like all beginning bands. They put their all into their playing. It is wonderful how the talent musicians have increases with practice. I tapped my foot right along with your seventh and eighth grade band as you played "A Holly Jolly Christmas."

Next year we will only have one concert to attend. Both of you will be in Middle School. That will seem very strange. We better not get used to it. The following year Em will begin her concerts at Tamarac Elementary School!

It just doesn't seem possible.
Hugs and kisses,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Happy Day with Kara

Last Sunday we were invited to Kristen's and Corey's for dinner. Long before we left, Kara called and asked that I bring the red nail polish she bought me. She wanted to polish my nails. I love it!

Kara painstakingly applied a bottom coat of bright red polish. My pinkie finger and thumb next had white strips applied horizontally and vertically. These strips were then covered with green polish. Kind of looked like ribbon candy. HO HO HO was painted in white then green on the other fingers. As a final coat, Kara applied my red glitter polish. My nails looked gorgeous! And little did Kara know, she made her Nana feel special.

I couldn't wait to go to my lunch date the next day to show my manicure off. My friend, Mary Ann, thought I had them done professionally.

Thank you, Kara, for that wonderful experience; doing something just for your Nana.
Hugs and kisses,

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Ride on the Polar Express with Our Boys

One Christmas Eve many years ago, a boy lies in bed, listening hard for the bells of Santa’s sleigh, which he has been told by a friend do not exist. Later that night he hears not bells but a very different sound. He looks out his window and is astounded to see a steam engine parked in front of his house! The conductor invites him to board the Polar Express, a train filled with children on their way to the North Pole.
~an excerpt from A Teacher's Guide to The Polar Express written by Chris Van Allsburg~

Our visit with the boys on the Polar Express to the North Pole was awesome. The train car was full of over excited, happy kids smiling, laughing; just enjoying the night. We had hot chocolate and cookies served by dancing waitresses. Santa's Elves went from table to table talking to every child. The conductor of the train gave each child a bell attached to a red ribbon. Sometime during that evening he gave me a magic bell, too. Then we had a visit with the hobo who sleeps on top of the car.

The conductor was having fun harassing Zack. He kept telling him not to expect gifts from Santa. Zack played right along with him. It was so fun.

Suddenly Santa appeared! He made his way down the aisle and spoke with each family. Alex was in awe of him. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he said, "Nothing." Santa stayed and had a cookie with us. A magical moment, for sure.

Then the singing and dancing began. Elves and waitresses brought merriment to the entire train car. Alex was busy all evening just trying to take everything in. He kept saying, "Nana, I am so happy," over and over. Zack had a big smile on his face. He was just the greatest big brother, as always!

I thought the magic I felt with the girls at The American Girl Doll Place was the epitome of happiness and could never be matched. I was so wrong. The magic we all felt on The Polar Express Train ride to the North Pole equalled it in every way.

To see families sharing this night together gave me such a warm feeling. Christmas brings out the best in most people. We forget our problems and enjoy the season with each other. Hopefully, we remember the reason for the season; the birth of Baby Jesus, laying in a manger in each of our homes.
Hugs and kisses,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Alex's Kindergarten School Picture - 2011

Alex has adjusted very well to school. I have to admit I held my breathe for the first week. But he gets off the school bus every day wearing a big smile. He talks about his new friends, and most importantly, loves his teacher. He lost his first tooth this year; or should I say he knocked out his first tooth this year. One change he has made to make his Nana very happy is to adjust his smile so we can no longer see his tonsils. That's really a great change.

Alex, stay as happy and full of life as you are now. Don't sweat the small stuff!
Hugs and kisses,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So Different, Yet So Alike

I found this so funny. Here's the story. Aunt TT and Kara went Christmas shopping together. Well, as everyone knows, Kara is our hat and bag lady. She sees a hat she just loves. So Mom buys it for her.

They finish shopping and are ready to go home. Aunt TT gets a message and picture from Aunt Shell. She and Zack were out shopping for Alex's gifts. They saw a hat and sent a text and picture to Kristen saying Kara would really love it.

See below.

My girls think so much alike about their kids. And yet, they really are so different.
Hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 Brunswick Bulldog Cheerleading Exhibition

The Brunswick Bulldog Cheerleading Squad put many hours into practices and cheering at the Bulldog football games. They were anxiously awaiting their competition to be given the chance to show how good their skills are. It was scheduled to take place in Herkimer and at the last minute was cancelled. Where the girls bummed? That is to say the least!

Let's face it, most things in life include competition. And if used correctly, competition is a good thing. Those people cheering on the side lines are just as driven as the players on the field. They want their team to win. But it doesn't stop there. They also want to prove how good their squad is.

The team's coach, Kim Bugbee, along with other Moms, put together a Cheerleading Exhibition where the girls had the chance to show what their squad was made of. Their schedule of events included cartwheels, all kinds of jumps, tumbling and builds.

The girls ended the night with an awesome dance/cheer exhibition. Every where you looked young ladies were tumbling, jumping, doing builds. But it was all done precisely in sinc to music.

I am so proud of this squad. They utilized every attribute it takes to become a team - one for all and all for one!

Kara, you did good. You made us proud, as always.

Hugs and kisses,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's Apple Picking Time

Papa and I went apple picking with Kara, Em and family this year. To be honest the only part I found to be fun was eating the ice cream cone we bought on our way out. And when we got home we got to eat as close to a home made pie as you can get. Yes, we bought that there also! So, I say next year we just go for the ice cream and pie and just skip the apple picking. They sell those at the orchard store, too.
Hugs and kisses,

Alex Plays Soccer in Kindergarten

It has been so much fun watching Alex on the soccer field. The first third of the season he ran from one end of the field to the other, not really knowing why he was doing this.

By the middle of the season, he was starting to catch on. He knew it was great to get that ball inside the cage.

The last third of the season he was disappointed that he didn't "make a goal." And he knew he could not touch the ball with his hands. He really played well, especially since he had never been on a soccer field before and his coach did not call practices.

I am looking forward to seeing him play again next year, if that is the choice he makes. There's a rumor going around that Em might play next year, too. It's a tough decision - Rah Rah or soccer star. We'll have to wait until next year to find out who makes what decision. All in all, it was another fun experience.
Hugs and kisses,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Quarterly Calendar Time

I know I already posted a picture layout for the first day of school. This is actually the layout I put together for my quarterly calendar to place on my refrigerator. It really comes in handy. Not only do I know what each day's date is, but I get to look at pictures of Zack, Kara, Emily and Alex. It's a great way to start the day.

This one was fun to do. I really like the colors. Of course, the boys did not cooperate at picture taking time. So, what you see is what I got.

Hope you enjoy it.
Hugs and kisses,

Zack Looking Back and Ahead

Pops and I had Zack and Alex on a Saturday night a few weeks ago. We had gone out to dinner and during the drive home I asked Zack if he liked his new house. He took a few seconds to answer yes. I asked him if he missed his "old house." I just love his answer. He said, "Yes, I do. And when I grow up, graduate from college and get a job, I am going back to buy that house."

It's amazing that my grandson would want to buy a house that is the size of his current living room. The size of his "old house" has nothing to do with why he wants to own it. Inside those four walls, in this tiny house, his Mom and Aunt TT spent almost all of their years until they married. We, with our daughters, have more wonderful, funny, even sad memories than we can count. I smile while I reminisce.

Sounds like Zack has many happy memories made with him Mom, Dad and brother in that tiny house. I'm sure he thinks of times spent there with his grandparents, family and friends. You see, it doesn't matter what size house you live in. Lasting memories can be made any where, as long as you are surrounded by all the people you love and who love you. How blessed our family has been to be gifted with such love for each other, our extended family and so many special friends.
Hugs and kisses,

Friday, September 23, 2011

Zack's Keys to Success

I love this poem, Zack. You included things you were so proud to achieve in your younger years. And now you want to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. You want to play a musical instrument.

You have already earned many belts and you play two instruments now. So, you are on your way. Obviously, you feel you can improve these skills. You know you have the potential to go farther. That is great, Zack. Your music is one of your passions and it is something I feel you will work on for many many years to come.

Then come thoughts for future accomplishments; everyone going green. Seems to me you have it all together for a young man your age. I know you can't wait to drive, but I am surprised you didn't mention that Ford F-250 you have been saving for.

I dreamed of having a grandson and what he would be like. You are everything I could ever hope for. You make me proud.
Hugs and kisses,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Always Smiling Alex

I love this picture of Alex. The minute I saw it I thought,"Great for a fantasy layout." And here it is.

The picture was taken Memorial Day weekend. Shelley, Don, Zack and Alex spent the weekend at the Cape with friends and family.

Zack was looking forward to spending the weekend with Natalia, Anna, Heather and James. They were relocating to California in July. James was making a career change; a great one.

We miss spending time with them. Zack emails and instant messages Natalia, which helps. I'm hoping the Baldwin's make a trip to California next summer. They can spend quality time together. And hey, they can always take a trip to Disney Land.
Hugs and kisses,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Zack at "12" Years Old

I took this picture of Zack at Alex's fifth birthday party. He and Debbie, one of his Mom's best friends, were having a private conversation. It had to be something that tickled Zack's funny bone.

This is such a great picture, Zack, I had to share it.
Hugs and kisses,

Friday, September 9, 2011

The First Day of School - 2011

Our precious four have begun the school year mostly with smiles on their faces. Our trend-setter, Kara, chose her outfit and hair embellishments very carefully. And, as usual, she looked adorable. Emily was smiling from the moment we got to Grandma's and Grandpa's house. She looked so cute. We try so ardently to have her wear her hair back from her sweet face. The effort is almost always in vain. Well, as you can see in the pictures above, Miss Em was proudly showing that pretty face.

Alex wore this cute smirk on his face beginning the night before school. It being his first day of school, Papa and I stopped at his house to kiss our last baby goodbye and wish our big boy a great "first day" in school. I still can not accept his being school age! Now our Zack. He is not pleased with how his hair cut turned out. And I don't really blame him. But like I told him - it will grow. Alex and Zack were driven to school by Dad, so we didn't see them until after school. Zack seemed happy, but according to him he is not anxious to start a new school year. He is now in seventh grade and we all know the higher you go, the harder it gets. I have no doubt Zack will succeed. Alex was wearing a big smile and announced he had a great day. When Mom checked his lunch case, she noticed he hadn't eaten his lunch. When asked, he said, "Oh, I bought my lunch today. I had a hot dog." Mom explained that if you go to school with a lunch, that is what you eat. Too funny.

I have spent at least one day a week with a grandchild or two for the last eleven years. I have loved every moment of the time spent bonding with each of our grandchildren. I feel it has given us a special relationship. My four all know if they have a problem they are not ready to discuss with their parents, they can always come to Nana. Their Moms always knew they could go to their Aunt Suzy. I knew my girls would be given responsible advice I would approve of. I hope this is how my girls feel.

I hope this school year brings happiness, educational and social success to every child beginning the new school year!
Hugs and kisses,

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Films' and The Hines' at The Cape

We spent a beautiful, sunny and hot vacation at The Cape again this year. Emily and Kara had a great time riding the waves. There were actually more and larger ones than usual. The Films' love to walk the beach in early morning and collect unique sea shells. Wonder how many they have at home since we always make our yearly visit. Guess there are some things one can never get enough of. And for me one of them is The Cape.

The only thing missing were The Baldwins'. They vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland this summer and had a fantastic time at The Hilton Hotel. After that they moved on to Philadelphia. It was a great summer for all of us.
Hugs and kisses,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Sweet Em

This picture captures Emily at the age of five, just before the school year began. Only one thought is in my mind; how precious our sweet Emily is; how blessed we are.
Hugs and kisses,

Monday, August 29, 2011

China Reunion for Travel Group #131

This year Travel Group #131's reunion was held in Portland, Maine. It was hosted by Doug and Tammy Welsh at their home. The turnout was the biggest ever. Even Judy, Sean and Kiley from Singapore were able to attend. I so enjoy seeing all these six year old little Chinese girls holding hands, laughing and playing like they see each other every day.

These children have a very special bond. Hopefully, they will always allocate a time to celebrate the reason for that bond together.

I am looking forward to celebrating next year in Connecticut with them. I can't wait to meet the additions some of the families are expecting.
Hugs and kisses,

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Emily Turns "6"

Emily 's second "6th" birthday party was celebrated at Gramma's and Grampa's with her annual pool party. We all had a great time. The kids enjoyed the pool and the adults enjoyed chatting with each other. Aunt Stacy made Em's birthday cake. It was in the shape of a butterfly, but was actually individual cupcakes; unique, like our Em:~)

There were presents galore. And Em loved every one of them. She certainly has lots of crafts to do. Gramma and Grampa gave her the most beautiful beauty salon chair. It is for her American Girl dolls.

Emily had a hot, very sunny day to celebrate her birthday. But the next day the entire eastern coast suffered extreme devastation from the effects of Hurricane Irene. The recovery will be long and arduous.

My happiest times are those spent with family, especially the children; all the children. Their smiles make me smile and I forget whatever worries I have. Thank God for bringing us all our children.
Hugs and kisses,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kara and her BFF in 4th Grade Talent Show

OK, I know the Talent Show occurred in May, but you have to realize I am a very busy Nana. I had hoped the pictures would have come out better, but what you see is what we got. You can still see how much fun Kara and her BFF had dancing to a "Monster High Fright Song."

A few years ago Kara would never have gotten on the stage and performed. She has come such a long way. It has been lots of fun watching her personality develop. Kara is a beautiful preteen young lady who can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I think Miss Kara will amaze herself and her family many times throughout her school years.

So that about covers Tamarac Elementary's Third Annual Talent Show. Another fun night for Nana and Papa.
Hugs and kisses,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Too Funny!

We have the pleasure of spending the entire day with our four wonders. The boys stayed overnight with us. The girls had an overnight with friends.

When Papa went to pick up the girls, he looked at Kara and said, "You have Nana hair." Her retort was, "No, I do not" with the voice that says "I would never have hair that bad." Should I be insulted because Kara is insinuating my hair is so bad she would never have Nana hair? Or should I be proud because no one can have "Nana hair" but Nana????

Comments are welcome.
Hugs and kisses,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alex Turns "5"

We all had a great time at Alexander's fifth birthday party - both of them. The theme for his big party was baseball. As you can see, he had a Bouncy Bounce and a pinata. Candy flew everywhere and laughs were heard as the children bounced to their hearts' content.

Debbie rang the bell on The Baldwin's front lawn, but I think the party had already begun. This year Zack and Alex celebrated their birthdays in their new house. The picture in the lower left corner is the bird bath surrounded by Lazy Susans in their backyard. Many things in their home are very unique; making it feel like home.

Alex is a big boy now and is going to kindergarten in a few short weeks. It's hard to believe Nana and Papa will not be spending a day with our youngest grandchild. But it is time for our Alex to join the ranks of the other five and six year olds wearing backpacks and running to the school bus.

Happy "5th" birthday, Alex.
Hugs and kisses,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Note Left on Our Night Stand in Maine

This weekend we spent in Portland, Maine at Emily's China group reunion (that will be another page). Papa and I left our room to socialize with some of the Moms and Dads. We left their door ajar because we were going from Grandma's room to the Film's room all weekend. When we returned, Papa found a note on our night stand. He laughed that great laugh he has when something strikes him really funny. The frame on the left side of this picture is the note Kara left.

Of course, that night at dinner I had to share it with the rest of the family. Hence, Kara provided me with the note on the right side. It lists all the Monster High dolls Kara does not have. Since I am the one who lives with my computer, I hope to find a few of them for her.

All in all, we had a fun weekend!
Hugs and kisses,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So Beautiful to Me

I've had this picture for a while. I just love it. Kara looks so serene.

I have been taking closeup shots of all four kids. I just need to remember where they are on my computer.
Hugs and kisses,