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Children Family Food grandparents Photography San Bernardino

Day 10 of 16 with the Grands *Restocking Day*

I had intended that Ella and I spend a chunk of this day down the hill shopping to restock the cupboards and the refrigerator, for both areas were now showing empty spaces . . .and the little mouths, the medium-sized mouths, and the big mouths were still chomping away. But she was tired from the late Disneyland trip, and still sleeping, when it was time for me to go. Brady was up and ready.

“May I go with you, Granny?”

“How about your school work?”

“I only have two more chapters to read, then I will be totally finished. Not just for today, but completely.”

So, he took his book, jumped in the car, and he and I jaunted off to San Bernardino. First stop was the 99 cent store where I stocked up on wonderful sourdough bread, grapes, tomatoes, and a few other things. Second stop was Aldi. Third stop was a remarkable thrift store in Loma Linda, a tiny place, that from time to time places hand-lettered signs on the door that announces spectacular specials. Today a sign read, ALL FURNITURE $5.00. “Five dollars?” I asked the clerk

“Yes.” She smiled broadly. As I say, the place is tiny. Couches were stacked atop each other, fine wing-back chairs were crammed about, and a most magnificent headboard in which I had interest was pressed against the back wall. But I passed it by, for it just was not a good day to be trying to buy a headboard, stick it in the back of the Jeep etc……..

Fourth stop was Wal-Mart, and because my list had nicely dwindled, I canceled stop number five which was to have been Costco. The only problem was I had planned to buy a rotisserie chicken there for dinner. But we had things in the freezer I could pull out.

Home, then. Everyone helped unload all the goodies, and later I baked peanut butter cookies to make up for the less than stellar meal.

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Children Family affection Food Goodness of man grandparents Home Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Day 1 of 16 with the Grands *Settle and Spaghetti*

Our trip home with the three grands on Sunday evening was smooth and uneventful. By mid-evening they were settled into their rooms and had stored their things. I was able to arrange drawers for Ella and Brady who are sharing an upstairs guest room, but in Cole’s room downstairs there are no drawers. “It’s no problem, Granny,” he assured me. “I’ll keep everything in my backpack.”

Shawnna had arranged their schoolwork with their teachers; Ella’s is in packet form, while the two boys work is assigned through the internet.

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Ella does her work on the dining room table, but close by is an antique secretary with a cubby where she places her supplies when she is not working. Ella is nine years old, in the fourth grade, and is an avid student who loves school.

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She also is extremely helpful and eager to work in the kitchen. For years she has been able to set the table, almost entirely by herself, even choosing table cloths, napkins, and placemats. We would be having spaghetti for dinner, so of course, she chose the butler dishes.

dsc_4417In one of the buffet drawers I have kept place cards she has made over the years, and for Pappy’s place she added a tiny violin, as well as a special ornament for each of us other four.

dsc_4420Brady poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the tiny butler dipping dishes.

dsc_4423You will never meet a sweeter person than Brady. On his last birthday he became a teenager, and is now in the 8th grade.

dsc_4421You see Cole there, bending over his Pappy to help with his computer? He looks almost exactly like Andrew, his father, did at that age, even down to the hair style. It startles me occasionally when I catch a glimpse of him in such a way that it appears to be Andrew. Cole is in the 10th grade. His long-term plans include an engineering degree, although I’m not sure, for I recall a few years ago when I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied, “I want to be a candy maker, Granny.”

The spaghetti dinner was delicious. My grands? Exceptional, wonderful, glorious, handsome, beautiful, smart . . .and mine! How blessed I am to have them for these few special days.

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California Children Crestline Culture Life love My Family My Home Photography

The Passage of an Angelic Visitation

…and it came to pass in the mid days of September in the year of our Lord 2009 that a decree (well, to be truthful, a request) came to my ears. And when the days were accomplished that we should do so, we traveled to Crestline in the state of California–both Jerry and I–there to be taxed, but more importantly there to be blessed with the arrival of a child–not just with one child, but with five. Five grandchildren! For their parents had been called…and had responded…to a time of vacation.

Hills lay about as we traveled–known as the San Bernardino Mountains: sleek horses grazed in green pastures along the roadside as we neared Crestline, but there were no shepherds. I neither smelled or saw sheep, nor did I see anyone cavorting around dressed in sheep-tending attire. The  skies were devoid of heavenly beings, but not to worry, I knew angels would come later.

They arrived, did the angels, bearing parents with them, stomping up the front steps, pushing open the door, grinning, hugging, yelping, tugging. “We’re here. We’re here, Granny and Pappy!” A small one rushed to where I sat and began helping me fold clothes. “When can we mop?” the little boy asked.

Daddy Andrew took to the floor, rolling his eyes in disbelief. “Mom, at home I can’t even get them to empty the trash.” I smiled and pondered these things in my glowing heart.

Earlier, in an Eastern land–Lake Havasu to be exact–wise people had laid plans, plans whose studying had resulted in the purchasing and laying away in cupboard, refrigerator and freezer, a massive amount of food. And now, although we had no star to follow, we did have The Plan. The Plan allowed each of the four older children to devise a day’s menu, cook the food, select the dishes, table cloth and napkins, set the table, and be fervently involved with the clean-up that would be necessary following such activity. DSC_0030That person could also choose locations for the meal; dining room, bar in the kitchen, or out on the back deck. Six-year-old Brady yelled the loudest to be first, so Monday morning found us in the kitchen cooking up a pound of bacon and frying pancakes. He close shrimp and chicken gumbo for his evening meal…and wonderful addition…Rebecca and Nathaniel drove up the hill, shared dinner with us and stayed into the night. These cousins are close and they had begged for Nathaniel to also miss school during this week and stay at Granny and Pappy’s, but wise mother, Rebecca, said she didn’t think  so, but she would bring Nathaniel up to visit when she could. They came again on Wednesday evening, and on Saturday around noon, staying then until the returning  parents arrived, which was well past midnight, I understand. Jerry and I had to leave at 5:00 pm for we had our Sunday morning service to attend in Lake Havasu. “Dark Hall” was the order of that evening, I am told, a game which  calls for wandering around in the dark playing hide and seek. After the younger ones were in bed Rebecca let the three older ones stay up until Andrew and Shawnna arrived.

These children really get into cooking and setting tables–never saw anything like it. Among other things they chose to cook chicken enchiladas, hamburger steaks, spaghetti with marinara and meat sauce, and when Chloe was choosing her meal, she said, “I don’t care what I cook as long as it has mashed potatoes and gravy with it!” Eight-year-old Cole decided on biscuits and gravy for his breakfast; I showed him the recipe, watched as he took down the ingredients, showed him how to measure, and directed his mixing it together. He did it all, cutting the biscuits perfectly, although I had to help get them in the hot baking skillet. They were especially scrumptious. Chloe prowled through the table cloths and napkins and thought to set the table with sterling silver. That’s okay, Chloe, DSC_0053I had said, but I reminded her it would require hand washing, and so Chloe’s meal of hamburger steaks with onions and bell pepper and mashed potatoes and gravy was consumed with sterling silver forks, knives and spoons. They were wonderful at this task; all flagging a bit at the required clean-up in the evening, but I cheerfuly urged them on, and each evening we left a spotless kitchen–well spotless in a relative way. Helped if your vision was a bit lacking in clarity. 🙂

“They have to do their home work first thing in the morning,” Andrew had told me before they left.  “We’re strict about that.” The youngsters seemed to have a clear understanding of that rule and I believe it was on Tuesday morning as DSC_0019I sat in a chair drinking early morning coffee, here came Gentry and Brady wagging their home work backpacks. It was still dark outside.

Gentry is eleven, and works as does a man. Of moderate build, he is strong and ambitious, and when Pappy set him to work offloading flagstones and a heavy birdbath we had brought from Lake Havasu, he did an amazing amount of work. Thus began the “pay” jobs. Now there were many regular jobs which saw no exchange of money; making their own beds, keeping their rooms and their bathrooms in reasonable order, putting their dirty clothes each evening on the washer, and taking the clean clothes to their designated spot after I had laundered them each morning. They were really good about it. Gentry and Cole’s bed looked professionally made every morning…but then to be honest, there were other things…towels thrown about in the bathrooms and blobs of toothpaste on the counter. But all in all, they were excellent little house guests.

And now the question of paying jobs had arisen. The yard was littered with twigs. We needed starters for the winter fires, so I rounded up containers and set the little ones to gathering twigs. 25 cents a bucket, unless the container was really big  DSC_0046which led then into a few rounds of negotiation. It was definitely a win-win situation; allowed me to be out in the gardens of my beloved Crestline, snap a few pictures, direct the gathering of twigs, and the boys knew their wealth was increasing by the minute. Plus, on our deck now, we have several containers smack full of fire-starting twigs.

Paying jobs emerged inside also, and every child was involved in this one, even two year old Ella who rubbed a rag over the same book for about five minutes. She grinned as I pushed a nickle into her tiny skirt pocket. Our bedroom needed attention, so we stripped the bed to the mattress, flipped it over (had to enlist Jerry for this one), then dusted, washed and polished all the furniture. Pot shelves rim two walls of this very large room, and neither Jerry or I can clean up there. Up from the garage, Gentry DSC_0028carried a tall ladder, and while Chloe and I handed up equipment and held the ladder securely, Gentry cleaned that area.  (I was touched when a week after they arrived home Andrew told me that when he did the church accounts that week, there lay an envelope bearing Gentry’s name. With no prompting from his parents, Gentry had given $2.10 tithe from the money he earned from his Pappy and Granny.)

It’s hard to imagine a better sister to a little sister than Chloe is to Ella Claire. They adore each other, and Chloe virtually took care of Ella while they were with us, dressing her every morning, bathing her in the evening, combing her hair two or three times a day, and in general clucking over her. My job was to change particular DSC_0045diapers, but I decided that job will probably be ending soon, when once Ella scooted down the stairs from the room she and Chloe shared waving a diaper at me. and letting me know she needed a job done.  Once when I was changing her, she reached into the Wipies packet, pulled out one, and handed it to me. “Here, Granny.”

Ella loves books…and loves her Pappy, especially when he takes her up and reads to her. She will listen forever; when one book is finished, DSC_0016go directly to find another and bring it to the reader. When she was with us, she was especially taken with The Three Pigs. “I’m a wolf,” she told me once.

“You are, Ella? You’re a wolf? Are you bad?”

“No, I’m a good wolf,” she soberly replied.

Tuesday’s lunch, sans Pappy,  consisted of ham sandwiches, chips, cookies and lemonade, poured for convenience into a plastic bottle that had DSC_0040previously held strawberry soda. We dined in the woods, our food having been transported by a family wagon with red wooden side slats. As we ate, Ella looked across a meadow and distinctly said to me, “I see Piggy’s house!”

“You see Piggy’s house?” I felt the need to verify the information. “Where?”

“There.” She pointed again over the meadow past the high trees. “There is Piggy’s house.”

We stared. Cole chowed down on his sandwich.

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…And it came to pass as the angels were gone away from them to San Diego, that the grandparents decided:

1. They were tired.

2. They are extremely blessed.

3. They didn’t take as many pictures as they had intended and they certainly didn’t take much care with the ones they did snap.

4. They slept longer at night than they do ordinarily.

5. They didn’t miss having the internet during those days for they had no energy to write anyway.

6. Angelic visitations are rare…and coveted.

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America California Children Christianity/Religion Culture God Life love My Family My Home Photography Social Weather/Nature

Grandkids Week Day 1

Welcom Sign, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

I’m not sure about the misspelling, for when Chloe showed me the sign and asked where I thought would be a good place for it, she mentioned it had a misspelled word. But it’s a beautiful sign anyway, and she taped it onto the sliding glass door off the living room.

For several years now, Jerry and I have hosted an annual “Grandkids Week,” where we have all our young grandchildren up for a week…well, usually it’s for about five days…and we don’t typically take babies in the mix. One summer when they came, we took them in our motor home to a campground on Lytle Creek where we picked blackberries, I made a cobbler, they swam in the creek…that sort of thing. Usually, though, we stay in our home in Crestline, and go on little jaunts from here. Last year, because of conflicting schedules–some of them are on year-round schools–and because of our being a little tied up in Lake Havasu, we didn’t have an official “Grandkids Week.” Rest assured, from Chloe, Gentry and Nathaniel throughout the year, I’ve heard about the unspeakable deprivation. So I had resolved that somehow we would have such a celebration this summer.

Well, when the opportunity arose for us to watch Andrew’s children this week because of the conference in St. Louis, I checked with Rebecca about Nathaniel joining and…voila!…this is officially THE WEEK here at the Buxton’s.

Jerry and I arrived here on Sunday evening around 7:00, carried in all our things, and by 9:00 we were sitting in the glider on our front deck sucking in the cool mountain air. Somewhere about 9:30, the van pulled into the driveway, the doors jerked open, and up the steps bounded Chloe and Gentry, yelping, arms spread wide for hugs…and a few minutes later here were Brady and Cole, then the tired mom and dad, and barely awake Ella Claire.

We snacked and talked and finally had the beds sorted out, and the youngin’s all tucked in somewhere. I’m not sure what time Jerry said, “I’m going to bed,” but I know it was 1:00 when I snuggled in beside him. (You have to know this was a special occasion, for I am not given to late hours.) Both Jerry and I were up before 6:00…and so went the splendid, perfect day.

Jerry was outside most of the day with his brood.
The weather is perfect…warm, and calling for popsicles. Cole chose red.
The older kids thought it was really funny that we were having turkey and dressing, a meal they associate with the winter holidays at Granny and Pappy’s.
Ella Claire eagerly helped unload the dishwasher after the big meal.

...and Goliath was this tall

I think it was around 7:00 when Andrew and Shawnna pulled away, heading for San Diego, and for St. Louis this morning.

Brady and Cole took a bath together, then shivered in the evening air, so I wrapped them in fuzzy robes and sat them down beside their Pappy. They sat mesmerized as he told them again of Jesse and his sons, and David and Goliath who was “as tall as this door.”

Brady is five and Cole is seven now, and as I looked at those little boys last night, I thought of their future, and of their challenges–of their lives that are ahead of them, of their vulnerability, their need to know of Jesus and His great love for them…and how much I love them.
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