Friday, January 24, 2014

Little Love Notes in the News

As a casual writer, my attention is always drawn to stories about writing in the news.

Although writing isn't my career, I've been writing for most of my life.

My love of words began as a child. I committed some of my favorite books to memory before I could actually read, thanks to my loving parents and siblings reading them repeatedly to me.

I jumped fully into recreational writing in high school in a creative writing class lovingly taught by Myrtle Thompson, known to her students as "Pic".

It might seem strange to think of a high school teacher as loving, but that described Pic to a T. Her love for words was only matched by her love and affection for her students.

I moved out of state right after high school, but my parents and some of my siblings still live in the area. Thanks to my younger brother, Pat, I know that Pic left this world on November 8, 1991, a victim of cancer.

Pic was my Mom's age, born October 7, 1925. I was in her class in the mid-'70s and she also taught my younger brothers in the late '70s and early '80s.

AP Photo, Courtesy of Janna Holm
If Pic were still alive, I know she would have jumped right into the challenge faced by the family of Dorothy Holm, who lost the ability to speak due to a brain tumor.

Holm wrote a cryptic message on index cards as her life came to an end. In all, there were 20 cards like the one in this photo, covered with seemingly nonsensical letters.

Fast forward to 2014. Janna Holm was only 11 years old when her grandmother died in 1996, according to an AP article featured on ABC News.

Over the years, Janna and her family tried unsuccessfully to find the message Dorothy left as her final legacy. When her dad recently found one of the cards, Janna turned the mystery over to the word lovers at

Although the entire text hasn't been unscrambled, it seems that part of Dorothy's message to her family was The Our Father, with each letter standing for a word of the prayer.

Part of the rest appears to be requests to God for strength and comfort for the beloved family Dorothy was leaving behind and a message of love and thanksgiving to God for hearing and answering her prayers. I'll be following this story on MetaFilter as wordsmiths more talented than me continue working on the pieces of the puzzle.

ABC News Photo, Courtesy Samantha Manville
Facebook exploded with comments after this love letter was featured recently.

Samantha Manville, a Washington mom, wrote this letter to 8-year-old Alexia and 10-year-old Liam, her children.

Samantha and her husband had a late Friday night and were still awake at 2 a.m. on Saturday when they left this note on their bedroom door, telling their children they would be sleeping in until 10 a.m.

The love letter was specific with instructions about what the children could and could not do while their parents caught up on their sleep, according to the story featured on ABC this week.

Yes, you may eat cereal for breakfast and watch TV. No, you may not leave the house or have friends over. The love letter ended with, "We love you."

The mommy wars filled Facebook as many parents of younger children were concerned about the safety of Alexia and Liam while parents of teens and young adults gave the Manvilles a virtual high five and wondered why they never thought about doing this.

I don't know about other parents, but love letters to my kids is nothing new. When each of my children was born, I wrote a love letter and followed up with subsequent love notes telling of their accomplishments at various ages.

I remember writing little love notes to pack in my kids' lunch boxes when they were in elementary school. Another love letter was added when each entered middle school and high school and I still write love notes in their birthday cards and sign with Xs and Os.

Love notes are a wonderful way to communicate with kids. It's often easier to communicate with teens through written words they can read over and over again, even if they would toss aside the same words coming out of a parents' mouth.

My collection of love letters to my children is tucked away safely in a file cabinet, although I made copies for each of them of their baby love letters a few years ago, tucked into memory books filled with photographs and memories.

Love letters are nothing new, but sadly they seem to have fallen by the wayside in favor of text messages and Facebook messages. There's nothing quite like a love letter. Why don't you give it a try and add love letters to your family traditions.

Until the next time, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jump into Life with Abandon

Did you ever watch young kids playing? Young kids embrace life during every moment. From the time they climb out of bed until they finally close their eyes, they are going full steam ahead.

They run, they jump, they climb, they slide, they get excited about everything. They squeal with excitement about puppies, popsicles and blowing bubbles.

Kids know how to jump into life with abandon. They savor the moment and make every day an adventure.

When you try to take a young child's picture, you often end up with a blurry image.

Kids know how to use their imaginations. A blanket and a few couch cushions become a fort. A stick becomes a magic wand and an empty box becomes a car.

When you tell a young child to smile for the camera, you get a puckered up face with eyes squinted nearly shut.

There's something to be said about jumping into life with abandon, not caring what anyone thinks about what you're doing or how you look.

As kids get older, they often lose that sense of wonder and joy about the little things in life.

There's homework and chores to be done, rooms to be cleaned, dogs to walk and life to take seriously.

But there are still fleeting minutes when older kids forget about everything except the joy of living in the moment.

Receiving a special gift for a birthday or Christmas, sledding down a hill or being invited to a friend's party are all times when you might catch a brief glimpse of the excitement you remember so well.

There are certain places kids of all ages are willing to show their excitement.

Playing soccer or baseball, swinging at the playground, riding bikes and playing a new video game may all expose the little kid still living inside in your teen.

Maybe it's being told to "use your indoor voice" or "don't run in the house" that causes kids to be less willing to show their excitement as they grow older.

Most kids will happily ham it up for the camera at the pool, especially on the diving board.

Boys love seeing how big of a splash they can make when they jump into the pool. The boys always line up to take turns doing cannonballs and can openers off the board.

Kids of all ages gladly share their excitement at amusement parks too. Gather at the bottom of any roller coaster and you'll hear shrieks and peals of laughter.

I don't think the excitement really disappears. Instead, it just goes into hiding. Older kids and teens are just too cool to show their excitement most of the time.

It's funny how life works. As you grow older on the outside, you may also grow younger on the inside.

Older siblings, parents and grandparents are often willing to look really silly to make little kids laugh.

Hanging from a clothesline upside down like a monkey is always good for a laugh or two.

Making silly faces and talking in a high-pitched voice will make babies and little kids laugh.

Why can't we just enjoy the excitement of everyday life all the time?

From the cradle to the grave, what would our lives be like if we could stop worrying about whether we look silly and just jump into life with abandon?

Let the little kid living inside you out this week. Scramble to the top of a mountain or climb a tree.

Ride a bike really fast downhill - with no hands. Swing as high as you can and jump to the ground.

Life's too short to take yourself too seriously. When you're a little kid, life is a grand adventure. That sense of wonder and joy doesn't have to end.

Until the next adventure arrives, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The YouTube Fox: Top Video of 2013

One of the interesting things about being a grandma is watching new trends come and go.

Our grandkids live in a much different world than we did. They don't have three channels on TV that shut down at midnight.

Instead, our grandkids enjoy hundreds of channels on cable or dish, thousands of videos on Netflix and download and endless websites filled with content of every type.

One of the websites enjoyed by people of all ages is YouTube, which came on the scene in 2005.

Who could have known that a website filled with millions of people's videos could become one of the most visited websites on the internet?

My 5-year-old grandson knows more about YouTube than I do. That's not surprising to me and probably not surprising to others who are over 50.

On his most recent visit to our house, my grandson wanted to show me and my husband his favorite YouTube video, "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)"

In case you wonder what the fox says, click the link above and see if you think the YouTube artist Ylvis got it right. My grandson and his sister think this is the best video of all time.

My grandkids aren't the only ones who love this video. The video filled with nonsensical words of what the fox says is the top trending video of 2013 on YouTube with nearly 319 million views.

The Fox video on YouTube has more views than the next three videos combined. From toddlers to teens to young adults, everyone loves the walking, talking, rocking fox.

Times sure have changed since I was a kid. I can't imagine 319 million people looking at a single movie or television show when I was growing up.

It's great to learn new things. Life today is an endless adventure filled with many new inventions we couldn't have imagined when I was a kid including YouTube.

Until the next time, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart. For now, it may be "The Fox" playing on an endless repeat.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.