April 6, 2017 | My Jottings

Not long ago one of my granddaughters came over to spend the night and do fun stuff with Grandma. I’ve called her Li’l Gleegirl since she was tiny because it fits her so well, but one of her family’s nicknames for her is Moo.

My usual birthday gift for my grands is a card with a note in it, giving them the choice between some money so they can buy something they like for themselves, or a date to spend the night at my house and go out to dinner together. The older kids lean toward the money now (sniff) but the younger ones still think being with Grandma is fun, and that’s what Moo chose.

She chose a local Italian restaurant down by the lake, and it was a thoroughly delightful meal. Moo is cheerful, chatty, energetic, diligent in her academic and dance endeavors, and is a really wonderful companion.

Here’s a picture of this ten year-old with her birthday dessert:

There are many traditions my grandchildren take part in when they spend the night. There is always a book to be read aloud, a tubby to be taken in the deep and fancy tub, snacks to be munched, games to be played, snuggles to be had. When Moo was here we finished reading the book Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John, which I have read out loud to my children and six of my nine grands so far. It’s one of the best books a child could hear. The new edition has been terribly revised, so I don’t recommend it, but if you ever want to buy a book that will profoundly bless you and those you read it to, you can find used copies online. The cover of the best edition looks like this.

As I read the last two chapters out loud, Moo listened intently with her eyes wide, anxious to hear how the hearts of the Swiss children Annette and Lucien were so dramatically changed by “letting the Savior come in.” I have read Treasures of the Snow at least nine times, and it always makes me weep at its beauty. It never grows old.

I keep soft footed sleepers in various sizes here for my grandchildren, so they don’t have to pack jammies when they come over. I know this might sound sappy, but I want even what they sleep in when they’re here to make them feel warm and safe and comforted. I know they will have memories to unearth someday, and I want them to recall even the colorful soft one-piece sleepers at Grandma’s. After a tubby full of mountains of bubbles, Moo put on the bright pink sleeper with the black print, and then sat patiently in front of me while I carefully brushed and detangled her long hair, and then put it in a French braid. I tell the girls that even loosely braiding their hair at night before they go to bed will save some tears the next morning from trying to brush out the knots.

Moo loves games and can be competitive, so we played Farkle, three games of Backgammon, and Gin. I love sitting across a table from her and watching her expressive face and listen to her near-constant chatter as we make our way through a game.

Moo takes weekly dance lessons and showed me the tap routine she’s working on. Her older sister Mrs. Nisky takes lessons at the same studio and is graceful as she learns ballet. I will attend their recital in May and will sit in the darkened auditorium with hundreds of other grandparents and parents, keeping a secret from them all: my granddaughters are the sweetest, most talented, radiant and lovely dancers in the world. I’m content to hold that truth close to my heart and wipe tears as I watch them perform, and send up prayers for their tender lives.

If Moo has homework she likes to get to that right away, and she asks me to check it. She might have a snack of peanuts and raisins or a cut up apple with string cheese. We might watch a kid’s show in the evening. She loves for me to make her a cup of hot chai tea.

When it was time for bed, we brushed our teeth together, turned on some pretty music in my bedroom, and read books. Moo sang a couple of songs for me, and she has a clear and lovely voice for a ten year old. She told me she thinks her name will be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame someday, and while that wouldn’t be one of my dreams for her, I can’t say I doubt it could happen.

When we got up on Saturday morning, I gave her choices for breakfast and she chose her usual: two fried eggs over easy, toast with butter, and an orange or clementine.

When our time together is drawing to a close, I always ask my grands to name with me the things we enjoyed together in the last sixteen hours or so. We take turns, and say simple things like, “We had dinner at Valentini’s.” Then, “We played two games of Farkle.” And “I took a tubby and you braided my hair.” And “We finished Treasures of the Snow.”

I realize Moo already knows everything we did, but somehow going through every little thing, the snacks, the songs, the games and books and conversations, the bath, seems like we’re making an altar of sorts, as happened often in the Old Testament. I’ve read about how sometimes God’s people built altars of remembrance by piling up stones at certain important locations (one example is in the book of Joshua when God parted the Jordan so His people could cross over on dry land). Moo might not realize it, but in my mind I’m ever piling up stones of memories, altars of remembrance and thanksgiving for the precious times I have with my grandchildren.

My most fervent hope and prayer is that when they’re drawing baths and reading aloud and braiding hair and frying eggs for their own precious grandchildren, they’ll remember old times with me and begin to build altars of their own, marking and acknowledging the unfathomable kindness and faithfulness of our God.

One of the kindest things He has ever done for me was to give me a granddaughter like Moo.


  1. Sharon says:

    She cracks me up regularly. I love her enthusiasm for the mundane mixed with her stubborn refusal to get started on things that are “too hard,” like cleaning her room. I love that she sometimes has so much joy that she must sprint back and forth or roll around the bed because the happiness is too much and it has to come out. I love that she is a good friend and kind to everyone, even if they are younger or different or not like her. And I love that she is ours.

  2. Just Julie says:

    She is so wonderful! xoxo

  3. Elizabeth says:

    We are kindred spirits in the way we feel about our grands!

  4. Just Julie says:

    So nice to see you here, Elizabeth. I enjoy your blog — have it on my Feedly feed. Yes, I so relate to how you love your grandbabies. God bless you in all you do, my across-the-country internet friend. xoxo

  5. Nancy Roney says:

    Money is gone and forgotten but what wonderful memories you have given your grandchildren. A gift that lasts and lasts.

  6. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Nancy. When we get closer to the end of our lives, it’s easier to see the forest from the trees, hopefully. xoxo

  7. Ganeida says:

    Can I be one of your grandkids? 😀

  8. Just Julie says:

    No. You wouldn’t like me bossing you around so much. But you could be one of my besties. xoxo

  9. Kay says:

    What a wonderful store of memories you’re compiling.
    On Sunday our grandsons ( 7 and 4 ) came here for a birthday tea
    for Alan. The 4 year old made him a card and wrote on it ‘ To Alan, I love
    you, from S’. They slept over and yesterday we did some chalk pavement art on our patio, played buses with some garden chairs, did some art & craft, went to the local park and watched Cheaper by the Dozen.
    When their daddy came to collect them, we were shattered!! However, we felt that we didn’t do too badly for a couple of inexperienced grandparents –
    you know of the history regarding our grandsons’ mother.
    God IS good. He is ”restoring the years that the locusts have eaten'”.

  10. Just Julie says:

    I loved reading about your day with your grandsons, Kay! And I had to laugh when you said you were shattered after they left! I get that! You are giving them love and memories that will last long past your lives. Love to you and Alan… xoxo

  11. Kay says:

    I’ve missed commenting on your lovely blog Julie. Not only have we had some technical problems here, I’ve been in so much pain that it’s sparked off my depression to a greater degree. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed just
    trying to get by each day.
    This afternoon I’m seeing my dr to discuss pain relief again.
    I’ve tried Tramadol, Pregabalin, Oromorph, Fentanyl, Co-codamol
    and I’ve had 9 spinal injections. Nothing seems to help very much and I’ve been told by health professionals that I won’t get better.
    I would so appreciate prayer for my dr visit this afternoon. I think I need a miracle for pain relief!!!
    ( I’m even at the point now where I need to use a rollator/walker when I’m out so I can sit on it frequently!)
    Sorry for the moan Julie, but I know some of your friends have prayed for us before and I hope they might do so again.
    Sending much love and hugs xxxx

  12. Just Julie says:

    Kay, my heart sank as I read your comments. I had missed hearing from you and I’m sorry I haven’t checked in with you. Pain makes everything grind to a halt. It must be hard to keep going, and you have tried everything. I want to hear what your doctor said, and I will pray for relief and hope! I know there are people who will be praying, whether they leave comments or not. We will lift you up. Bless you today… xoxo

  13. Kay says:

    You’re right, Julie. A lot of things have ground to a halt because of pain. I saw my G.P. yesterday and we’ve decided to try Fentanyl patches again.
    I’m also going to try hydrotherapy.
    Prayer would be so appreciated – both Alan and I are feeling the pressures of ill health, pain and depression.
    On a brighter note, it was Alan’s 64th birthday today. We had some family and friends around for Pizza & Prosecco last Saturday evening. We had to keep things very simple, but it was good.

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