The Faraway Nana – 4 Ways To Make The Distance Easier

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As most of you know, all 7 of my grandchildren now live far away from me. It has been a difficult and emotional transition for me–one where I’ve shed many tears, and prayed often for God to help me see this new season from His perspective. And He has!

What I miss most as the Faraway Nana is being able to do fun things with them in my home–like baking, reading, picking flowers, going for walks around the block, watching their favorite movies while munching on hot, buttered popcorn, coloring pictures and playing Polly Pockets–to name just a few.

I was having one of those days when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself when God dropped an idea into my head.My four oldest grandchildren tell me often that they miss Nana’s House, which has always been like a jab to heart. But this time God gave me an idea, and a new tradition was born.

Nana’s House Newsletter

I told Bristol, Norah, Willow and Bradley that if they couldn’t come to Nana’s House, then Nana’s House would come to them. ūüôā I began publishing a monthly newsletter called Nana’s House. In it I put personal notes, little contests, crafts and something they can all enjoy from the 7 year olds down to the babies. When finished I stuff all the supplies needed for the crafts as well as candy treats into the Priority Mail Flat Rate small box and send it on its way. I take a picture of the receipt with the tracking number and text it to my daughters, so the kids can know when their little package will arrive.Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.25.58 AM

This has helped me more that I could have ever imagined. I still get to go to the craft store and pick out something special for them to do. I still get to highlight funny things they’ve said or done. I still get to hear their voices squeal with excitement when they see another newsletter is on its way. The only thing I haven’t figured out how to do is hug their little necks and do nosies with them. Which brings me to the next thing I’ve done to help with the distance…

Skyping

What fun we have had Skyping, and now using Google Hangouts (which works better when you are connecting three phones). We have colored Easter Eggs together, baked cookies and read books. I’m currently reading a series of books to the girls titled, The Doll People. They color while I read to them, and it has been wonderful. I ¬†love how they have absorbed the story and beg me, “Nana, just one more chapter–pleeeaaassssee?” We’re currently on book two, The Meanest Doll In The World. After this there are two more, so I think we’ll be able to enjoy this adventure together for quite a while.

Facetime

StellaMy younger grandchildren love to talk with Nana on FaceTime because they can carry me with them to their room to see their new toys. I have had the best conversations with Stella (aged 2) all the while looking at the ceiling.

She takes the phone to her room, sets me on her kitchen set and fixes me the best cups of coffee. I’m always asking her to prop me up so I can see her face. ūüôā We are still working on that one, but I wouldn’t trade staring at her bedroom ceiling for anything. She’s precious.

Writing Letters

I love writing. I love penmanship. I’ve heard that public schools¬†are no longer teaching handwriting, and it makes me sad to realize this is going away. I always loved learning to write my letters. I practiced over and over again, until I like how it looked.¬†¬†This gave me an idea to start writing letters to my grandchildren once they learn to read. I print until they learn cursive writing. Once they do, I will write to them in cursive. The younger ones who can’t yet read, don’t like that the older ones get this special treat. But, I pray it will motivate them to learn to read for themselves. Cards are also a fun treat for the younger ones when it’s not their birthdays. Such an inexpensive way to show them how special they are to me.¬†

Final Thoughts

Being far away from those you love is not easy, especially since they grow up so fast. For a long time I resisted finding joy in the distance, but I’m beginning to see that there is much good that happens when miles separate you from those you love. In this day and age we can still connect in ways my grandmother would have never imagined possible. When she moved away from her family to Jenks, Oklahoma, she didn’t know if she would ever see their faces or hear their voices again. Their only means of communication was through snail mail–although back then, it was delivered by horse. We are blessed that no matter how faraway you are, you can connect in so many ways as often as you like. What a small world.

Are you separated from your little people? I hope my ideas will inspire you to embrace the distance and make it something special. 

Blessings!

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Well Said

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Have you ever happened upon a You Tube video that so affected your life you wish you could take credit for the wisdom shared? I just did! Our son shared the link to this video on his Facebook page and I watched it mesmerized by the way the creator of it managed to share such wisdom. I pray you’ll take a few minutes and watch it in its entirety. It’s worth it!

Restoring Family Heirlooms From A Florida Basement

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There is something in my home I count as the most precious possession I own. I pick it up daily and cherish it. I love the way it feels when I take the time to appreciate it for what it is. What is this treasure? It’s my Bible.

I got this particular copy in 2003 and the pages began showing their wear and falling out a couple of years ago, especially the book of Psalms–I could completely remove it from the rest of book. It was time to do something, but I knew I didn’t want to buy a new one. This one has markings in it indicating the revelations God has given me while reading. I have favorite verses underlined. I have comments next to convicting passages.

Imagine how thrilled I was when Tom told me he found an English hand book binder in Daytona Beach who uses the old method in re-binding broken books. As a blessing to me–we drove there last month to have it rebound¬†and recovered.

The book binder’s name is Paul Sawyer. He works in the basement of his old Florida home surrounded by lush landscapes of palms and bouiganvillea flowers. As we descended the steps to his quaint workspace, I felt as if we were entering a hobbit’s hole. When the door opened we were met with his bright smile and the musty smell of recorded history. It was an inviting, albeit crowded space where this gentle man spends much of his waking hours. He was delighted to share with us his workmanship from his recent purchase of a set of old atlases to a handwritten letter from Charles Dickens, it was obvious he loves what he does.

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An interesting discovery as we talked was that he came to America being commissioned to work with the Library of Congress. You can read more about his work and training here.

I also took my great-grandfather’s family Bible from the mid 1800’s and had it cleaned and recovered as well. We found it while going through my Mom’s boxes of books after she passed away. It was on the bottom of a box that had gotten wet in the garage. I was so sad to see the state it was in having endured a house fire at my grandparent’s home in the 60’s and now this damage from water.

Mr. Paul Sawyer, bookbinder

Mr. Paul Sawyer, bookbinder

What makes this Bible even more precious is that it contains my great-grandfather’s handwriting recording marriages and births of his parents and their children. What a treasure it is for me to have my current Bible sitting next to this family heirloom¬†on my coffee table. Hopefully the generations to come will realize how important it is to read the Bible and to record family history as it happens.

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What old books do you own that are precious to you? Were they passed down in your family, or were they discovered on the dusty shelf of an antique book store? 

You might want to add a note inside in your own handwriting that tells the story of why it is precious to you. There may be a day when someone you love is wanting to know the answer to that question, and you’re no longer¬†around to answer them.

The Value Of Handwritten Notes

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Do you have an old family Bible?

I do. I found it when we were cleaning out my Mom’s house a year ago. It’s a rich treasure holding keys to my family’s history. Most of the facts I¬†already¬†knew, but to see birth dates and death dates penned by my Great-Grandfather’s hand is quite the experience. It’s a treasure! To think that a man I never met was holding the same Bible at one time recording information in it for a generation yet to come (me!) is awe-inspiring. It matters, and I am grateful.

I love handwritten notes. When my husband, children and now grandchildren take the time to write out their heartfelt sentiments to me on paper I have a hard time ever parting with them; My closet is proof of it. I have a small handwritten note from my grandmother that she gave to me at my bridal shower 35 years ago. When I received it, it was expected. But when she passed away only four months later in June of 1979, it suddenly became priceless to me.

I’ve heard there is a huge debate taking place about the need for teaching our children how to write in cursive. Really? They say there is no need for it anymore, since everyone communicates through a keyboard or Smart phone. How sad. If cursive goes by the wayside, it will be a permanent disconnect from our past. So many important documents are written in cursive, like the Declaration of Independence and our own Constitution, to name a few. If children can no longer read it, maybe they will no longer care. It will become as indecipherable to them as a foreign language.

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Four Reasons Handwriting is Better Than Keyboards:

1. When someone takes the time to write their thoughts on paper you know they’ve purposed to slow down and think about what they want to say. It’s not the same as receiving a quick text or e-mail. I can type so much faster than I can write, so I don’t have to think as hard when I’m using a keyboard. Case in point–think of the many texts and e-mails you wish you could rescind. But a handwritten note is usually read through before it is sent on it’s way. And when it is received it is appreciated all the more.

2. One’s handwriting was also proof that it was they who said what was written. In the Bible, the Apostles often ended their letters by saying it is with my own hand that I write this to you. It was a validation. Computers are much ¬†more impersonal. They validate nothing because anyone could have typed an e-mail.

3. It is believed that creativity is inspired when one writes in cursive. It provides an expressive outlet for what we want to say. It’s not just about the words chosen, but also about how the words are written. I remember when I was in sixth grade practicing how to spell my name over and over again. I wanted to have pretty handwriting, so I worked hard on how I wanted each letter to look. I paid attention to how others wrote their letters, and if I liked it, I practice until I could do it as well. Some of my letters I still write the same today–and I’m turning 55 this year.

4. Finally, handwriting is proof that we existed. Years from now when people see something we’ve written, they’ll pause to see what it is we took the time to write–like when I found my family Bible. Think of how special each signature is on the Declaration of Independence. You knew that each man was in the room when it was signed. It was a part of the story, seeing their “John Hancock” written so beautifully. It’s not only a rich document in content, but it’s rich in artistic beauty.

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I pray we won’t allow our children/grandchildren to lose the gift of handwriting. The only way they will appreciate it is if it is seen as valuable to us. Do you believe there is value in writing in cursive? Or have you stopped altogether and communicate only by way of keyboard? My 57 journals written by my own hand since 1989 are proof of my answer to this question. I pray each volume will matter to those who are growing up behind me, my three children and my seven grandchildren. It is my hope that they will read what mattered to me while I was living, and that in doing so it will have an effect on how they live.

(Photo Sources: Bible, letters, child writing)

 

 

 

 

 

Like-Minded Cousins

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Yesterday we had the privilege of visiting my cousin and her husband’s home for dinner in Ashe County, NC. We arrived early so we could have as much time together as possible. I admired her gardening ability, something we both enjoy doing that was passed down from our grandmother, Grace.

We worked on cutting and chopping for dinner all the while talking about various sorts of things. I happened to notice a beautiful pewter tea pot on her sideboard. When I asked her where she got it, guess what? It had a story! ūüôā

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She opened the lid to read a note she had taped to the inside. It was a wedding present given to her maternal grandparents back in the 1800’s. The tea pot looked brand new, but in reality it was one of the oldest things in the house. Note: the couple in the framed picture is my parents on their wedding day.

As we were about to eat, she took the chicken out of the oven that had been baking in this old, clay pot. She told me it was nearly 200 years old and had been passed down from generation to generation and was still “cooking,” literally! We talked about how amazing it would be to know all the meals that had been cooked in that clay oven. The chicken was moist and delicious, as was the entire meal.

Sometimes you can’t improve on the old way of doing things.

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My cousin is a great cook!

Question #17

What is the oldest family possession you own, and what is the story behind it?

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This is post #17 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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What Makes A Family Heirloom Special?

Photo Credit: Star Shine Chic blog

Photo Credit: Star Shine Chic blog

I believe the answer to this question is simple–What makes a family heirloom special is the story that goes with it. Now some may say it’s the value of the piece, and that’s true, I suppose. But I’ve found that the items I’ve been given are much more meaningful to me if I know the story behind them.

Question #2

What is the oldest family heirloom you own, and what is the story behind it?

My Mom passed away in December, and we have spent most of this year cleaning out her home and sorting through her stuff. We found things we didn’t know she had, special things, beautiful things, but without a story behind them–they are just things.¬†However, a few of her older items had little notes attached to them letting us know a bit of where it came from and to whom it belonged.

The oldest item also happens to be my favorite.

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It’s a little ¬†porcelain tea cup that has a red stamp on the bottom stating it was made in Germany. I know it went through the fire at my grandparents home back in the early sixties because the outside is speckled as if the smoke was glazed into the cup. But what makes this cup so special is the information written on the label my Mom placed on the inside.

It says, ” Sarah Kirwin gave to daughter, Grace Oswalt, when 12 years old.”

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That means this cup was made around 1900, which means it is the oldest thing I own. Grace Stella turned twelve in March of 1901. I found one like it on an Antique Appraisers website. They’re selling one without the smoke marks for only $7.50, but this tea cup is priceless to me!

“The measure of a woman’s character is not what she gets from her ancestors,

but what she leaves her descendants.”

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We are taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.
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