I LIKE TO PARTY!!! – PART 2

Guest post by Cindy Denen

KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY

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Last spring was our Kentucky Derby party!  I made a race track out of postal paper covering my kitchen table.  I still had my adult son’s old toy cowboy horses that I turned into race horses complete with their numbers draped on each side of them.  I placed note cards around the edge of the paper to make the spaces for the race track.  We rolled dice to determine how many spaces we would move our horses on each turn.

I bought sundresses for the girls and hats fit for the Derby for each of us.  For dinner we had, what else, Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is always a treat!  While Isabel and Sofi played outside Grandpa, Uncle Josh and I put on our “going to the races” clothes, laid out their clothes and set up the track.  I then called them in and when they saw us the look on their faces was priceless.  One of the joys of these parties is surprising them!  They became even more excited when I showed them their dresses and hats.  They changed into their outfits and we were “off to the races.”  We each selected our horse, named it and proceeded to race in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.  We awarded points for first, second and third finish and the winner was determined by the total at the end.  What fun we had shouting and cheering as we raced around the track!

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I put two Bible verses in the middle of the track, 2 Timothy 4:7,  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” and 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.”  We talked about these verses and how important it is for us to finish this life we’ve been given strong and faithful and to be on our guard, not allowing ourselves to be deceived by negative influences.  To hold on tightly to the truth we know with courage and strength but also to remember that love is key in everything we say and do.  Our faith is built on knowing that is how Jesus loves us and that is how we are to love others.  At the completion of the races our horses stood on the note cards, each saying something in those verses.  1. Fought the good fight. 2. Finished the race.  3. Kept the faith.  4. Strong! Do everything in love.  5. Man of courage.  Everyone who finishes the race God sets us on knows well that it is these verses that keep us running when everything in us wants to say it’s too hard.

To cap off the Kentucky Derby Party we watched one of my favorite horse movies, Secretariat.  We had so much fun that I almost forgot to tell them we had bought tickets to Family Day at Arlington International Racecourse and would go in a few weeks!!

FAMILY HERITAGE PARTY

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Our most recent was a St. Patrick’s Day Party where we honored my Irish heritage but also celebrated grandpa’s German heritage and our three grandchildren’s Hispanic heritage.  God was very much a part of this party as well.  We talked about St. Patrick.  How this man came to know God while in a very difficult situation and how he was faithful to God and the Irish people who had previously been so cruel to him.

We discussed what we believe are the three most important “pots of gold”.  The first and most important of all is God’s Son, Jesus.  You are truly rich knowing Him.  Second is family, health, home and provision.  Third is service – helping family, church family and community.  I bought little boxes and put an Irish quote on each box that I thought was a good saying for Isabel, Sofi and Uncle Josh.  I also placed little gifts inside

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Our meal was a huge part of this party!!  For the appetizer we decorated our kitchen to honor their Hispanic heritage and served Mexican pop, tortilla chips and salsa.  (I won’t even try to compete with their dad or their other grandma on Mexican cuisine!)  Then we sent them off to play so we could transform the kitchen into German décor and served delicious German potato soup.  For the main portion of the meal we set the dining room table with our china and served an Irish meal of chicken, potatoes and green beans.  Music from each country played in the background at each stage of the meal which added to the charm.  And of course, we celebrated St Patrick’s Day in the clothes we wore, also a chance and reason to give Isabel, Sofi and Zion new outfits!!

CONCLUSION

As I write I’ve another party in the making that I actually have been thinking about since last spring but I need to keep that a secret for now (in case some little eyes read this post!!)

Why do I do these little parties?  I love how our grandchildren light up when they see a party is coming, usually without warning.  I love to enter their world and show them in a fun way my faith, my thoughts and my desire to share time and play with them.  I also love to see their faith and thoughts.  A party never ends that I didn’t learn something special about them.

Years ago I wrote a prayer that has always been my hearts cry and deepest desire as a mother and a grandmother:

“My prayer request is that as a mother and grandmother I would lead by example a Christ honoring walk that would encourage my family to follow.  That I would, by the power of Jesus, put down everything that is a stumbling block to what a Christian should be.  That my greatest joy would be to learn and act upon what the Bible says.  That there would no longer be any modern day idols such as selfishness, materialism, apathy or a critical spirit allowed to be in my life.  My prayer is that I would commit to repenting daily of sin, return daily to active obedience and walk daily knowing the torch I hand off to my children and grandchildren will be one that is fully lit.”  Good Friday, 4/2/10

I believe our children and grandchildren will see our faith and our love as they see our actions.  We need to show our faith in everyday life and in making purposeful memories that are filled with fun and the gift of time.  These parties and other little things we do open up their hearts to hear what God has been doing in our lives because we have shown them we are fun and kid approachable.  In the midst of having fun my heart’s desire is to mirror this prayer because one day I want all of us to share in the GREATEST PARTY ever thrown – the one Jesus invites each and everyone who chooses to accept His invitation to attend!

 

I LIKE TO PARTY!!! – PART 1

Guest post by Cindy Denen

I may be a grandma but I love to party with the younger crowd!  The younger crowd being my grandchildren who range from one to ten years old.

TEA PARTIES & ROYAL DINNER PARTY

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It all began with pretend tea parties on the floor with my oldest grandchild, Isabel, when she was two years old.  We would gather her Disney princesses, sit them in front of us, share conversations, sing songs and eat lots of pretend food while drinking our imaginary tea.  Isabel’s younger sister, Sofi, eventually joined in and it got me thinking.  Why not dress up, set the dining room table with our china and give my husband and son, Josh, the privilege of serving the Queen Grandmother (me), the Queen Mother (my daughter, Noel) and the princesses (Isabel and Sofi) dinner?

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Queen Mother Noel, Princess Isabel and Sofia

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Queen Grandmother, Princess Isabel and Sofia

I must say the men played their parts well with fancy cloth napkins draped on their arms and white shirts while looking very proper and professional as they waited on the royals. Dressing up is a huge part of any party so we all got decked out in our finest!  I wore the dress that I wore for my daughter’s wedding, Noel, always looking beautiful a sundress, Isabel, her favorite princess dress and Sofi, her ballet outfit because, well, she just had to!  When the time arrived for the dinner, we gracefully flowed down our stairway where we were greeted by our servants (Grandpa and Uncle Josh) who announced our arrival and escorted us to our places in the Royal Dining Room.

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Princess Sofia, escorted by Servants Uncle Josh and Grandpa

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Princess Isabel, escorted by Servants Uncle Josh and Grandpa

We, the royal family, enjoyed our meal immensely as we discussed whatever we felt royal families should discuss.  The meal was far from elaborate.  There was the all time favorite grilled cheese sandwiches, chips, fruit, cheese, crackers and Twinkies.  Sometimes you do these things on the fly and “fancy” is in the eyes of the beholder –  the beholders being three and four years old!  And so it began.

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Princess Isabel

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Princess Sofia

 

Before I proceed with describing our numerous theme parties I want to emphasize that the point of our parties is not how fancy they are or costly.  They take time planning but a few were put together the night before or even the day of.  Often I buy them clothes to fit the party but I always buy them an outfit each season so the outfit they wear to the party is also an outfit they can wear that season.  The games I think up are simple and again not costly.  If we buy a DVD it’s watched again and again and meals are sometimes fast food and sometimes home cooked.  They may be a part of the theme or may just be part of the fun.

HALLOWEEN PARTY

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Our next party was a Harvest Halloween Party.  I made up everyone’s costumes that very day with the exception of grandpa, who thought of being a gangsta all by his own criminal minded self.  I got to be and talk like a hippie (something I deny I ever was though my adult children think differently.)  Isabel was a business woman, Sofi a 1920’s flapper, our at the time foster granddaughter, was the beautiful Princess Jasmine and our special needs son, Josh was Indiana Jones in preparation for his “dress up” special birthday party (11/11/11) that was in a few short weeks.  Let me tell you, they played their parts with attitude!!  We had a parade outside,

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played Pin the Face on Pumpkin, played musical chairs and hot potato.  I can’t remember the food but I am sure there was candy involved!!

CHRISTMAS MYSTERY DINNER PARTY

Christmas season came and we had a mystery dinner.  What began at this party excites me the most.  I chose to weave a spiritual message into the fun. I decided to use these special times of fun and play to share in yet another way our faith with our grandchildren.  We believe passing our faith in Jesus from the older generation to the younger is the most important treasure we have to give them.  Nothing else comes close.

The Christmas Mystery Dinner was titled, “Who Took the Key to the Last Room in the Inn?”  Josh and grandpa drove to pick up the girls and when they returned who was there to greet them?  Mrs. Claus!!

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Mrs. Claus

The look on their faces (including Josh and grandpa because they knew nothing about this) was priceless as they tried to figure out if this person was grandma or really Mrs. Claus!!  After everyone got dressed in their costumes I had selected we went out in two’s, Mary (Sofi), and Joseph (Grandpa), Cub Angel (Josh) and Lead Angel (Isabel) and Mrs. Claus (me) and her trusty Elf (our foster granddaughter.)

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WHO DID IT? WHO TOOK THE KEY TO THE INN?

I made up three little booklets for the six of us.  We traversed the entire house following the instructions in our books that eventually led us to discover there was no room in the inn.  Why?  Because the angels booked the last one (I know – not great theology.)  So Jesus would have to be born in a stable, according to God’s will.  We discussed that Jesus could have been born in the inn or a castle for that matter but perhaps Jesus meant to be received by everyone equally.  The lowly would be free to come to a stable and the important people of the day, if they were willing to humble themselves, were equally welcome.  We talked about the fact that the greatest King ever arrived in a simple stable and doing so showed His great love, humility and availability to everyone who calls upon His name to be saved.  Our dinner was simply pizza but all our desserts were Heavenly, angel food cake and sugar cookies.

TO BE CONTINUED!!………..

 

 

 

ENCOURAGER

Encourager – “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence; to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.”

Boy, it seems like everywhere I turn lately this word, or words with similar meaning, has been forefront and in my face!  So why not jot down some thoughts on the significance of this word, action, interaction, lifestyle or personality type.

Proverbs 12:25 NLT, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.”

WHAT DOES AN ENCOURAGER LOOK LIKE?

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Our daughter, Noel, fits the definition of an encourager.  Her encouragement has recently led us to some very important lifestyle commitments.  Through her encouragement we became involved with our local Gigi’s Playhouse, an organization for the awareness and support for individuals with Down syndrome. We began by attending a once a month event called Friday Friends, a gathering for adults with Special Needs, with our oldest son, Josh, who has Down syndrome.  We are now lead volunteers for this wonderful program and love these evenings as much as Josh.

Through her encouragement my wife, Cindy, began training for a 5K run and with Noel ran in the Advocate Lutheran Down Syndrome Clinics annual 5K event.  Over the last year Cindy, along with Noel and Cindy’s sister, Deb, who she encouraged, has continued to run and has run in two additional 5K races.  Cindy now has a Bluetooth so she and Noel, who lives out of town, can talk to each other as they run.

Through Noel’s encouragement we just completed a healthy eating program called 21 Day Fix.  She not only encouraged us to do it but also was our coach during this journey to a healthier diet.  Even our two granddaughters, Isabel and Sofi, got involved as encouragers by being our assistant coaches.  How I loved watching their videos encouraging us to keep going and not cheat or give up on the program.  These short videos were the highlight of many days and yes, helped us stay committed.

Through Noel’s encouragement we recently decided to step out and volunteer to serve in our local church’s ministry to children and teens with Special Needs.  When our children were younger we volunteered for all the church programs in which they were involved and also continued to serve in various ministries after they were grown.  But over the last few years we had backed away from service because we were the “older” people and finding a place that “fit” our schedule and passions was more difficult.  Noel, during everyday conversations, gently reminded us how important it is to serve.  Being a former pastor’s wife she has first hand experience concerning the need for volunteers.  So we did it!  And man, are we glad we did.  The first Sunday we served Josh, an adult with Down syndrome, got the opportunity to spend the time with an eight year old boy with Down syndrome, as his one on one “coach.”   As usual, we received more than we gave through serving these children.

HOW TO BE AN ENCOURAGER

So, by Noel’s example of being an encourager to us as mentioned above, I arrive at the following conclusions of how to be an encourager:

  • Share your excitement from personal experiences.  Noel volunteered at the Gigi’s Playhouse in a community by her, started running with a 5K training app and completed the 21 Day Fix before sharing these with us.  Her positive results and “testimonies” concerning these made it easier for her to encourage us to jump in.
  • Participate with those you are encouraging and come alongside.  On our first visit to  Gigi’s Playhouse in Rockford to check it out we were accompanied by Noel, Noel ran and continues to run with Cindy either in person or via cell phone, she coached us during the 21 Day Fix and also completed the program for the second time along with us.  She didn’t simply encourage verbally she had “flesh in the game.”
  • Be a cheerleader.  As we were going through the 21 Day Fix Noel was there daily with positive, encouraging feed back as we shared our struggles and progress, never criticizing or judging.  Her understanding, compassionate attitude shared through small posts gave us strength and courage to tackle the next challenge.  Also, during the daily 30 minute work out DVD the exercise coach was constantly saying phrases like, “you can do this”, “you are stronger than you think you are”, “when you feel like quitting think about the person you want to see in the mirror in 21 days.”  We joked at her words as we were straining to do those “surrenders” or “crunches” but that cheerleading drove us on.

ENCOURAGER GRANDPARENTING

Share your excitement from personal experience.  I LOVE to read!  Cindy and I made it a goal to instill this same love for reading in our children by reading to them when they were young and encouraging them to read when they were able to read on their own.  We have continued to pass this on to our grandchildren.  Now that our two oldest grandchildren, Isabel and Sofi, can read “chapter” books I decided last spring to do something to encourage them to continue reading through the summer.

Participate with those your are encouraging.  In April Josh, Cindy and I went with Noel, Matt, Isabel and Sofi to see “Peter and the Starcatchers” at a Chicago theater.  The first book we selected to read together was easy not just because we thoroughly enjoyed this play but also because the girls have loved everything Peter Pan since they were very young.  Isabel (Wendy), Sofi (Tinker Bell), Josh (Captain Hook) and I (Peter Pan) have acted out the story since Isabel and Sofi were two and three years old.  The “Peter and the Starcatchers” series was a huge hit with all three of us.  They zoomed through the first book and we completed the series by early fall.  We are now on to our second series, “The Kingdom Keepers.”  Due to the length of these books I was amazed at how quickly they read each one.

Be a cheerleader.  When we get together we spend time discussing the book we are reading, like our own little book club.  It gives me such joy to see how excited they are about what they are reading.  As I began this adventure with them I promised that when we completed a book I would take them out to their favorite restaurant to celebrate.  We haven’t done this after every book (due to the speed of their reading!), but when we have special memories have been created (even though Chuck E Cheese is not what I would select for a reward!!!)

Cindy came up with a fantastic idea of how to encourage our grandson, Carter, in this love of reading.  For one of his Christmas presents we gave him a book of Doctor Seuss stories as well as one of Cindy’s favorite children’s story book, Rattletrap Car, and Kelley Pulley’s Treasury of Bible Stories.  Carter lives five hours away so we scheduled every Monday evening to FaceTime and during this time we read a Bible story and one story from the other books that Carter selects.  Now the trick is that we bought the same books for us so we read the stories while Carter follows along with our son, Ben.  Watching his facial expressions and eyes while we are reading the stories is priceless.

CONCLUSION

Whether it’s reading, music, sports, theater or anything that is the latest “thing” they are interested in I, as a grandparent, should make it a top priority to be an encourager by 1. sharing excitement from my own experiences, 2. participating with them, and 3. being a cheerleader.  There are many ways to “flesh” this out and it may take effort to make it happen but the reward received is right there in their eyes when they turn and see you applauding after making that great catch, or curtsying after a perfect dance routine, or bowing at the close of the play.  Or yes it may be as simple as that look they get in their eyes when discussing their favorite character in a book over a slice of “pizza!”

 

 

 

HALLMARK ORNAMENT DAY

When our granddaughters, Isabel and Sofi, were little we decided to start a tradition of taking them to Hallmark to purchase a Christmas ornament.  We now do this with all our grandchildren and Josh around the Thanksgiving holiday.  It began with them picking out an ornament that caught their attention but it has become more about selecting an ornament that highlights something that stood out to them that year – a MEMORY ornament.

One year Isabel knew exactly which one she wanted, the little nurses smock on a hanger.  Why a little nurses smock?  That was the year she had surgery.  The year we got lost in Chicago heading to the American Girl Doll store that we had been to multiple times and the little girl that was so fearful of the impending surgery getting so excited when we drove right past the Children’s Hospital.  Everyone in the car, including Isabel, knew immediately this was a God moment.  The ornament was a MEMORY of this “getting lost” event more than the surgery because God showed up that day to let her know He was there for her.  This year she chose Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers hoping she would make the cast of a local youth production of The Wizard of Oz that she auditioned for the day before.  She and her sister, Sofi, made the cast so as she said, “now this will be a GOOD, not a BAD MEMORY ornament!!”

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Sofi on the other hand tends to stick to movie characters, like Bolt, Tiana, Aurora and Tinker Bell.  However, this year she selected a simple ornament that read, “Be Strong, Be True, Be You.”  When asked why she said it’s in MEMORY of her first 5K run she did this year with her whole family, quite an accomplishment for an 8 year old little girl who wasn’t even feeling well the day of the race.

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Last year Carter picked Rudolph because of the movie and this year he picked Superman because he’s really into action heroes.  Simple but it was very important to this 4 year old boy that he found that Superman!!

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Zion, being one year old, of course picked Santa Mickey Mouse.  Is it possible that he has a MEMORY of our family vacation to Disney World last January??!!

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We’ve been doing this for 7 years so I was beginning to wonder if it was losing it’s significance.  Twice within the last two weeks I was shown that this is still very important and exciting to each of them.

We have our “fun” Christmas tree in our family room that we all decorate as a family with these MEMORY ornaments and ornaments that were part of our children’s growing up years.  When we brought the girl’s ornaments out this year to hang on the tree they were so excited and told the stories (MEMORIES)  behind each years ornament.

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Then, as we were preparing to leave to go to Hallmark to purchase Carter’s ornament, Cindy thought she should double check what he bought last year so we didn’t buy the same thing.  While she ran back in the house to check it out, Carter, who is only 4 years old, told me that he had picked Rudolph last year.  He hadn’t even seen the ornaments yet so that was in his MEMORY!!

The final part of the Hallmark Ornament Day tradition is a trip to Culvers to enjoy just spending time together.  There’s chicken tenders, french fries (lately cheese curds), pop (a huge treat) and the greatest treasure, frozen custard!!  We laugh, talk, make lots of noise and I am sure annoy those around us.  But that’s ok, sometimes you just have to!!  It’s all part of the MEMORIES!

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Someday these MEMORY ornaments will hang on each grandchild’s family tree because we’ve told them that when they have a house of their own we will pass these on to them.  And hopefully we will have created a family tradition surrounded by MEMORIES that will have a life of it’s own for generations.

So, like Hallmark says, take time this season to see that “Life is a Special Occasion” and make MEMORIES that will help your grandchildren see that they are important to you and see what you believe and consider valuable.

UNCLE JOSH

“Am I a GOOD uncle?”

“You are a GREAT uncle!”

“I AM a great uncle!!”

This is a common conversation between myself and my son, Josh, after every visit with my grandchildren, his nieces and nephews.  Josh takes great pride in his interaction with his nieces and nephews and he is rewarded (I say with some jealousy!) by being a huge favorite of Isabel, Sofi, Carter and even little Zion.  He’s established this cherished position in their lives by playing on the floor with them, playing with toys, playing dress-up, playing make believe (Captain Hook being the leading character), jumping on the trampoline, being the shark attacking in the pool, running around the house in hot pursuit, playing Wii Mario Brothers or sitting next to them on the couch as they play games on his IPad.  Each activity generally is interrupted or ends by Uncle Josh saying, “Taking a break!” and with much reluctance they will stop and allow him to catch his breath.

Uncle Josh just celebrated his 37th birthday!!  Now Josh doesn’t just celebrate one day, he celebrates for almost two weeks.  Actually, he will start saying “my birthday’s coming up” months before and the excitement builds to epic levels by the time the day arrives.  I know this is the child in him and that part of him is what makes him “special” in the eyes of his nieces and nephews.  Uncle Josh is a grown-up with a childlike heart.

Josh is the first of our three children.  The night he was born 37 years ago was a traumatic time for a young couple that had only been together fourteen months.  We never anticipated C section for the delivery of our first child and that decision by the doctor sent a shock wave through Cindy and I.  We weren’t going to be side by side, pushing, breathing, pushing, breathing, experiencing the miracle of birth.  All the Lamaze classes we had faithfully attended, pillows in hand, only to be wasted.

But the news I received from the pediatrician while waiting in the father’s waiting room was a Tsunami.  Cindy came through the delivery fine, however, though he couldn’t be absolutely certain until tests came back, he was 95% sure that our son had Down Syndrome.

Son!  I didn’t even get a chance to let that single unknown before this moment fact settle in my mind because he wasn’t just a son he came with a label. Down Syndrome!   Not just any label but one that I had no idea what it meant for us or him.  “Can we keep him or does he need to be …….?”  Yes, I had to ask the pediatrician that question as tears streamed down my face.  I was suddenly totally, completely, absolutely lost and confused.

After assurances from the pediatrician that yes, we could and should “keep” him I thanked him, walked into the bathroom, shut the door and crumbled.  I wept and wept and asked “why me, why us?”  I wept for the son I hadn’t even met yet.  The son that brought fear, not inexpressible joy.

“Pray!  I need to pray.”  Cindy and I were people of faith.  Jesus was our Lord and Savior and if I wanted to find any reason or answers to this He was who I needed to ask.  Still weeping, still confused, still fearful I began to cry out with longing.  The answer came quickly and simply – “nothing happens by chance.”  We were His children, He loved us and this was His purpose for us.

“Cindy!!!  How am I going to tell her?”  She had just gone through major surgery, in recovery, awakening after a tremendous disappointment only to face something she could never imagine.  The walk to the recovery room was the longest walk of my life and the moments spent with Cindy revealing the unthinkable concerning our child were the hardest of my life.  So the process was repeated – weeping, hugging, questions, weeping, questions, hugging, praying!!

Then the miracle happened!!!  This son that we hadn’t met who had brought so much sorrow into our lives came into the room and was handed to Cindy.  She took him in her arms and we looked at him and he was BEAUTIFUL!!!  Tears of sorrow suddenly became tears of joy.  JOSHUA RYAN DENEN.  He wasn’t a label.  He was a baby boy.  Our son.  Of course the unanswered questions remained but that was for another day.  Today he was a baby that needed our love, care and attention, not unlike the babies without the labels.  He stole our hearts!

“NOTHING HAPPENS BY CHANCE!”  37 years have passed and this simple statement that I believe God breathed into my heart that evening has been lived out through Josh.  Our lives, the lives of our children, grandchildren, extended family and friends have been blessed and enriched beyond measure by this individual that God chose to give to us.  Josh has taught us so much simply by the way he lives his everyday life.  He has shown us by example how to be patient, how to be kind, not to envy, not to boast, to be humble, to honor others, to be self-sacrificing, not to be easily angered, to keep no record of wrongs, to not delight in evil but to rejoice with the truth, to always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere.  He has lived out 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 right before our eyes.  And he has clearly shown us that “love never fails.”

Yes, Josh still has a label, Down Syndrome.  But he also has the label:  son, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, friend, child of God and yes – UNCLE JOSH.

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Uncle Josh & Zion

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Uncle Josh & Carter

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Uncle Josh, Sofi & Isabel

The “Grand” in Grandparenting

LOVED my grandparents!!  I have so many fantastic childhood memories of time spent with them.  But as I now reflect on each grandparent one stands out more than the others because of the slightly different relationship we shared.  Granddaddy VanCleave!!  When Granddaddy was around he and I played cards (Eucher), played the marble board game he brought back from a trip to Florida (which eventually was marketed as the game Aggravation), or went fishing (mostly just sitting on the bank of the river talking).  When I got the rare opportunity to spend days with him at his home out of town I had the privilege to mow his yard with the old rotary push mower while he walked beside me instructing or simply talking.  Evenings were spent sitting in his front yard on his old metal lawn furniture as he chewed and spit (tobacco) and shared stories of his younger days.  Simple things but as you can see to a small boy they left a lasting, loving impression.

I LOVE being a grandparent!!  I have from the first moment my daughter, Noel and her husband, Matt informed us nine years ago that they were expecting.  Being the grandpa of now four GRANDchildren has brought countless hours of treasured memories filled with everything related to their life experiences.  Pregnancy announcements, pregnancies, births, diapers (uh, maybe not), naptimes, bottles, bath times, mealtimes, baby firsts, birthdays, play time, babysitting, slumber parties, holidays, dance recitals, school activities, ball games, plays, home concerts, school concerts, Christian concerts, church activities, vacations, grandma’s special parties, owies, sickness, surgery, pool parties, movies, and the list goes endlessly on!!   If “it” is happening I want to be present and engaged – clapping, cheering (shouting way too loud I’m sure), hugging, laughing, crying, supporting, lending a helping hand.

I LOVE my GRANDchildren!!!  Each one with their unique personalities, mannerisms, humor, talents and temperament have burrowed a unique place in my heart.  There isn’t anything (within reason) that I wouldn’t do for and with them, even spending a quiet, relaxing, peaceful Saturday afternoon at one of their favorite (my least favorite) places, Chucke Cheese!!

I will admit I do have favorites.

First there was Isabel (aka Bel, Bella, Izzie, Bel-a-boo, Bel-Bel).

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It was love at first site.

Then came her sister, Sofia (aka Sofi, Sofe, Fi).

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It was love at first site again and immediately Sofia AND Isabel became my favorite.

Then my son, Ben and his wife, Tessa had a son, Carter (aka Carter Joe).  

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It was love at first site again and immediately Carter AND Sofia AND Isabel became my favorite.

Finally (as of this moment) came Isabel and Sofia’s baby brother, Zion (aka Z). 

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You guessed it, it was love at first site and instantaneously, Zion AND Carter AND Sofia AND Isabel became my favorite.

Experiencing life with these GRANDchildren over the last nine plus years made it easy for me to come up with a Purpose Statement for this blog –  “Grandparenting that leaves a loving, lasting legacy through maximum worth interaction.”  

If this media had  been available when my wife (of 38 years), Cindy and I were in our child rearing stage of life the stories would have centered around our children.  The “grand” would have been left out to just leave “parenting” in the Purpose Statement.  Even now writing this I realize this statement continues to be true in my relationship with my grown children and their spouses, though lived out differently. 

Finally, this is more than a Purpose Statement for a blog site,  this is a lifestyle.  Those things that I deem valuable receive my focus, time and effort.  There is nothing of greater importance or more precious than my faith, my family and the legacy I leave.

So, welcome to Maximum Grandparenting, a portal to my life as a grandparent and those who have blessed me with that title!