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Grandkids Week Day 6

Mama is Building Her Nest, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

The day began with a building dispute, and it so happened that from my chair in the study, I observed the entire matter. Evidently, this beautiful fat robin is “expecting” and has selected the wooden ribs of our deck umbrella for her nursery.

No one else was up yet when I first saw her. She winged around the umbrella, then flew inside the canvas circle, and, for a few minutes, merely sat where the posts converge, contemplating the location, I presume. The spot must have been anointed, for the next time I saw her fly in, she had twigs in her mouth…and so began the construction.

An hour or so later, I chanced to look out the glass door to spy a stellar jay sitting on the construction site, his beak full of twigs and now tearing apart the robin nest. I wrenched open the door and yelled loudly, all the while waving wildly my arms. (I’m writing this on Sunday morning, and within the last few minutes I have been called on to repeat this action…so I am sadly wondering if indeed this incubating area will endure.)

At another time yesterday the prospective mom glimpsed the Jays approaching her nest, and she flew fiercely at them. Squawking loudly, the ill-behaved birds settled into the nearby pine trees.

After my in-the-house-brood were up and about, I showed them the developing maternity ward and asked them not to go onto the back deck. It was still cold and wet, so most of the day, they were inside anyway. These four spent the better part of a couple of hours sorting, admiring and stringing buttons.
It seems that out of all the youngsters, Nathaniel and Cole have been assigned the most homework. Cole is in the first grade and besides math sheets, he brought two 30 page books, which he had to read, then write in his own words, the main idea of each page. Quite a lot, but he is dedicated to doing it. Nathaniel’s work has taken more than two hours a day. Gentry and Chloe didn’t have much at all to do, and have been finished for some time.
“Granny, may we please make a fort in the living room?”
“No, you can’t. But you may make one upstairs on the balcony.”
So, now this is the interesting view from our living room.
And this is a side-angle view of the fort.
In my original fort erection remarks, I had told the youngsters to be sure we could walk through to the game room which sets just past where the fort is now. So, when I first saw the completed project, I had to complain, “I thought I told you to leave a path to the game room.
“But there is one, Granny,” one of them insisted. “Look, you can crawl all the way through to the game room!”
And indeed one could, but I didn’t…and they had “outfoxed me.” The fort remained standing as originally constructed.
The house was quiet on Sunday morning. Seated in my study chair before the glass doors that view the back deck, I watched for awhile as Mama Robin continued her work on the nest. I drank coffee, then poured a tiny milk and sugared cup for Brady who was the first up today.
Then I crept up the stairs to view the building site of the three older grandchildren, who had slept in the fort. I held steady my camera and snapped this picture.
Stunning place, isn’t it?
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Grandkids Week Day 5

Gentry Cuts His Biscuits, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

First thing Friday morning, Gentry made from “scratch” his first biscuits. They were perfect, and we ate some of them with gravy; others with butter and blackberry jelly.

Aunt Becky brought puzzles down from the game room and spread them out on the dining table for the little ones, while outside the fog billowed and the winds blew. Soon would come in the snow, sleet and hail

Is not “Hide and Go Seek” one of the world’s best games, especially when Granny is IT.

“I’m counting to 100 as fast as I can,” I warned.

Rebecca scurried around helping Brady and Cole find hiding places.

He was so intense that even after Cole came out of the cupboard, Brady remained quiet and curled up. I tucked really low then and said, “I see you Brady.” Out he came.

Just before we all sat down for dinner, I cooked a batch of fudge. Ella is the official spoon licker. She looks pleasant here, but you should have seen her when someone tried to take away the spoon. She screeched!
It had been a long and exciting day. We finished it up with Biblical charades, performed by the local family troupe.
I think this is Jesus here.
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Grandkids Week Day 5…developing

Sleet at Grandkids Week, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

The thermometer showed 38 degrees at 5:30 am and the temperature has been falling. Chloe just reported it now to be 34 degrees. About an hour ago it began sleeting. We thought early this morning we saw snow on Rebecca’s car, then for sure we knew, when Jerry saw passing on the street behind us a school bus sparsely covered with snow.

We’re definitely into Plan B.

The children are ecstatic…and quizzing me closely.

“It can snow at this degree, can’t it, Granny?”

“Yes, but it won’t stick.”

“Do you know where the snowsuits are, Granny?”

“Yes, and I know where are the boots and the mittens.”

They’re also praying…yelping, to be more precise. “God, hear us, please. We want snow!”

The older ones dashed out in near freezing weather and did a snow dance!
Then the little ones became brave and dashed onto the front deck–everyone barefoot–yelping and dancing, then coming in and having us feel their cold feet.
“Feel, Granny,” Brady said. And when I felt and exclaimed at the iciness of one foot, he insisted I also gauge the second.
2:00 It’s snowing! I know you won’t believe it, and I hardly can myself as I look at the wintry mix coming down–rain, sleet, hail and snow. We’re now bringing out the snowclothes. Unbelievable.
Finally we had them outfitted…and we turned them loose.
The wind was howling. My pictures are poor; guess I’m wimpy, for when I went to the deck to get good shots, it was so cold and wet…I sheepishly retreated.
In the meantime, Brady was preparing for me.
Rebecca and I agreed that the children would not stay outside long at all, for it was very cold, but they surprised us, and endured the frigid weather for quite some time. Cole and Brady were the first ones to come inside. I stripped off their clothes and plunged their icy bodies into a tub filled with warm bubbly water. Aunt Becky had hot cocoa waiting when they finally got out of the tub, had been dried, and were wearing flannel pajamas.
The older ones stayed outside longer, then finally Chloe came in bearing instructions from the boys. “They want you to take their picture, Granny. They’re sitting in the puddle.”
Sure enough, I watched as they ran and jumped slap into the middle of the water that had accumulated at the foot of our driveway, and that was covered with a sheet of ice and snow. Then Nathaniel sat completely flat in the icy water. I have no idea why. 🙂
I love this picture I took of him as he raced in for the last time. To my mind it epitomizes the fleeting moments of childhood, and catches for a minute its sheer joy.
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Grandkids Week Day 4

Cousins Set for the Day, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

On Wednesday, he had volunteered to be the breakfast chef for Thursday morning. “I make killer banana pancakes.”

“Sure, Nathaniel.”

…so very early, here he came down the stairs. “Ready to cook breakfast, Granny?”

“Not quite, Nate. It’s pretty early and no one else is up yet.”

Soon they were though, and the kitchen was roaring. Gentry cooked a pound of bacon, Brady stirred up the hot chocolate, Cole got out the napkins and the silverware. Nate warmed Mrs. Butterworth and flipped the pancakes.

I’ve never known of anyone on either my side or Jerry’s side of the family who was in the food or restaurant business, but something must have occurred when Jerry’s genes mixed with mine, (and then with Rummel’s and Cowen’s) for all of these youngsters, on arriving here for a visit, surge into the kitchen, and start rattling pots and pans. They’re pretty good about cleaning up, too, especially with the mopping. Our kitchen got mopped three times yesterday–not including this little job here.

The weather has changed drastically here since Monday when it was almost hot. The youngsters played outside awhile, then thick fog moved in and it started raining. There was a mad scramble to get the wagon and shoes and socks gathered up. Now everyone was back inside…playing games…or trying to.

Once, when they were all upstairs, someone called.
“How far is it to Moreno Valley?”
“About an hour, I suppose.”
Seems a tornado watch had been called for Moreno Valley and they had heard of it on the radio. The weather was very unsettled and suddenly here were rolling thunder crashes and wild lightening flashes. Little bodies converged at the upstairs landing, staring down for comfort from Granny and Pappy. (You who live in areas where thunder and lightening is common must understand that in southern California it is a rare occurrence.) The temperature fell drastically, at one point in the afternoon plunging to 39 degrees. Later we learned it snowed in Big Bear during this period.
Plan B Make Cookies
I mixed up a batch of sugar cookie dough and gave each of them a mound. They rolled and cut and decorated, and made gingerbread men who have yet to taste of ginger, but it didn’t seem to matter, and as a precaution, we watched carefully when we stuck them in the oven. We’re pretty sure none ran away, but Cole thought one of his tiny ones might be missing. We’re not positive.
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Grandkids Week Day 3

Chloe and Ella at Arrowhead, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

On May 6th when Chloe turned 13, I called her. “For your birthday, we’ll sneak out for lunch and a little shopping while you’re all up here in a couple of weeks.”

“Okay, Granny.”

Yesterday was the day. We split up the children after feeding them all breakfast; Rebecca took the boys down to her home in San Bernardino where they spent the day jumping around on Nathaniel’s trampoline and playing in his pool.

First off, though, they needed more “floaties” and water rings for the little ones, so Rebecca made a stop at Walgreen’s. She gave a little talk before going in the store, and the youngsters were so good, the clerk commented on their behavior, and encouraged Aunt Becky to let them buy M and Ms which were featured as a special sale near the cash register.

Here at the house, we had a quiet morning after putting Ella down for a nap. Chloe read and helped straighten up the place, I did laundry, started marinara sauce for dinner, and set the table in the dining room.

A little before 1:00, Ella Claire awoke, we gave her a bit of lunch, pulled socks on her feet and carried her down to the car. Jerry and Chloe latched in the car seat, and we were off!

Lake Arrowhead lies about 10 miles from our house and is upscale from Crestline–has a little mall, a beautiful lake, million dollar homes, ducks, a McDonald’s and some other cute places.

Chloe and I had decided that since we had Ella Claire with us, it would be best to forego a fancy restaurant, and eat at a simpler place. We chose patio seating at the Belgian Waffle House and had a delicious meal. The waitress was kind enough to snap our picture, but it wasn’t done properly, so I can’t show you our table. Our view though, was similar to what you see here.

Please forgive me this week for talking about my grandkids so much, and especially please be tolerant with me as I now launch into a few words of bragging.

“Do they have a Claire’s there?” Chloe had asked me at the house.

“Yes,” I told her. So after lunch, we wheeled the stroller to Claire’s, which for you who don’t know is definitely a girl’s store, stocking inexpensive hair “things,” cheap purses, bangles and bows, cute bottles of toiletries, key chains, little wallets–that sort of thing.

Ella clings to Chloe as though she is her mother, and Chloe has been extremely tolerant of these demands on her time and energy during these last few days while their mother has been gone to St. Louis. She shows exceptional patience, and should the need arise, she could totally care for her baby sister.

Now, in the store, I took charge of Ella who was tired of being in the stroller. I took her out and set her down on the carpeted floor, where she played contently while Chloe shopped. The clerk had handed Chloe a basket for her purchases, and I watched…watched this little girl who totters at the precipice of womanhood…watched as she moved about the store. She placed a few things in her basket, occasionally speaking to me about how cute something was. Then she walked right by me, and I saw her basket was empty, then she picked up a pack of clear lip gloss, showed me it was flavored like cookies, and put that in her basket.

Later, though, she muttered, “I’ve don’t need that. I have lots of those,” and she rehung the package.

Once she asked, “Am I taking too long, Granny?”

“No, Chloe.”

Then she was through, with one or two items in her basket, and I handed her money to pay. “Oh, I’ve got $10.00, Granny.”

“No, Chloe, I’m buying this for you today.”

“Are you sure, Granny?”

“I’m sure, Chloe.”

She scooped up her sister, went to the register and paid for her little gifts. My point in telling you this today is to record how thankful I am that Chloe is not jaded, not greedy, nor materialistic, and that at 13 she is still young, and that she is thoughtful and kind, and that I see she has developed into a lovely human being.

Aunt Becky’s crew came in with fun reports of a great day, and we gathered for dinner.

The biggest hit of the meal were the little dipping plates into which I poured oil and vinegar for the dunking of sourdough bread. I had to get up a couple of times for more bread chunks.


Later, upstairs in the game room, Chloe looked up scriptures to help Nathaniel with his homework.

Nathaniel clearly let me know what he thought about it.
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Grandkids Week Day 2

Off to the Woods, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Our three older children grew up in Garden Grove, which is slap in the middle of Orange County of Southern California. We lived in a modest middle-class area, with nice, ordinary neighbors. Our youngsters were gregarious and adventurous; consequently had lots of friends, and they had the run of the neighborhood. I worried little about their safety.

When Steve, the eldest, turned six and was ready for first grade, he walked to school by himself. He and Michael went to Wheeler’s market down the way, and they crossed the street to the neighborhood park and to the house of the neighbors behind us when we lived on Stanford. They traded toys with Julio, and once made such a bad deal, I made them go back and “untrade.”

There were many hours through the day when I didn’t exactly know where my children were. They didn’t have cell phones, nor did they wear tracking devices.

They were playing.

Playing? What’s playing?

…so this week, because I remember play, and because I think children deserve some time without adults hanging over their every move, and because I refuse to be bound by overwhelming worry of every imaginable sort, including that of child molesters, a twisted ankle on a mountain trail or the remote possibility of a bear attack, I told our older three they could go into the woods by themselves.

They were ecstatic, then Chloe came and asked, “Can we take a little picnic, Granny?”

“How are you going to carry your lunch,” I asked.
“Oh, we’re taking the wagon,” and they prowled through our numerous storage areas until they found the red cart with wooden side rails that has hung around here for years. A beat up wagon which has transported more than one Buxton baby over the forest trails in Crestline.
I saw Aunt Becky whispering something to Brady as the big three took off on their adventure, and then he said to me, “We’re going to Oaktrunk, Granny.”
Oaktrunk is a store which sets next door to the post office in “downtown” Crestline, and it is one of the favorite places of the grandkids. It’s like a dime store (if anybody knows what that is) and it sells greeting cards, gift items, candy, ice cream, household products, fabric on the bolts…and junky, overpriced, shoddily constructed toys which have usually fallen apart by the time the parents are here to pick up their babies. There hasn’t been a “grandkids week” yet when we didn’t go to Oaktrunk.
Grandkids week here at our house should be called “Grandkids week and Aunt Becky,” because she nearly always comes up and helps me, and they all adore her, and I don’t know what I would so without her…
…so, it was off to Oaktrunk with Brady and Cole.
…and they came back with the usual assortment including a rifle that Brady chose to hunt with, and whose ammunition is a cork tied to a string. Seems to me its style drastically limits its big game usefulness, but for hours he aimed and shot, but I don’t believe he bagged anything.
While all the youngsters were gone, I whipped up a batch of cupcakes, and when they were ready to eat one, we served it on a large paper plate, and handed around bottles of sprinkles so they could decorate their own. Cole couldn’t finish his, wanted to save it for later, so with the big pencil he had bought at Oaktrunk he wrote his name on his plate.