More Than Passing Time

  • So we are open to ideas on how to entertain, educate and occupy the hours of a week with an almost-eight-year-old boy—-our grandson, Oliver. (Please don’t call him Ollie. He is grown up now, you know.)
  • We are situated, thankfully, in what is a great spot for outdoorsy stuff, though mid-March is not the perfect time for building a dam in the creek; constructing a twig fort; or turning rocks and logs for insects and salamanders and the like. But I imagine we’ll do some or all of that anyway.
  • So here’s the list so far:
    1. Make a garden-duff infusion with some barley tossed in. Let it sit in stacking dish of rainwater for a couple of days. Examine under the microscope. Look at moss samples for water bears.
      1. Related: give him his own magnifying glass
    2. find the perfect hiking stick and cut it to the size he will be in two years
      1. wood-burn his initials on it with a magnifying glass (wear sunglasses)
      2. drill a hole near the top and make a boot-lace lanyard
      3. take it to him when he lives in Knoxville
    3. Watch a friend make a wooden bowl (for Oliver)
    4. Watch a friend make a whistle from a piece of rhododendron for Oliver to take home.
    5. Gather pine cones and twigs for the wood stove
      1. watch the pine cones explode into flame in the wood stove. Let him add them one at a time to the front of the fire wearing thick leather stove gloves.
    6. Go visit the neighbors who have two of every farm animal known to man, AND the Great Wall of Goose Creek
    7. Go for a walk at The Other Place so he’ll know something his folks don’t about where we’ll be this time next year.
    8. Connect with a friend who has a five year old son who is not shy
    9. Get him some creek boots
    10. See if great-grandma will tell stories of when she was a little girl (yeah right–see if we can stop her!)
    11. Let him use my camera to take pictures, then write out or record the story that the picture tells
    12. Read to him at bedtime from the books we read to his dad as a boy, and send the book home with him
    13. Hopefully the cat will warm up and be playful. He is around dogs at home but could learn a thing or two about how a cat is not a dog.
    14. Let him use the walkie talkie on the New Road
    15. Give him a journal (pocket notebook) and help him record the things we do, ideas he has, stuff he wants to be sure and tell mom and dad
    16. Find out what his favorite things are and help him dig wider and deeper
    17. Play music on the guitar, accordion, keyboard. Instill interest in music.
    18. Screen Time: Watch selected videos (like the one included in the first comment below) on the iPad or iMac. Use the iPad and iPencil for drawing, tracing, coloring a picture he chooses and send it to M&D
  • So that’s about we got at this point. I’m thinking we’ll probably run through 90% of this the first two days. Yikes! Gargle. Rinse. Repeat. So we are open to ideas from the Peanut Gallery.
  • Oliver has not been away from home before. He knows us only from our occasional and brief visits when they lived in Missouri. This will be a challenge for his adaptability, and ours, even as the house is under welcomed threat of being visited by potential buyers (who will have to overlook the Family Circus.) This too shall pass.
  • We are glad to be here yet. Oliver’s week with us could become an indelible memory; or it may, in twenty years, be one of those vague almost-memories that you “recall” only because you’ve been reminded of them over the intervening years. Those stories of others become what counts for your memories of forts and water bears, boots and long walks, and strangers that tried to make you comfortable in a strange land.
  • Except: you have that stick; those small boots; and a scrawled and worn little notebook and a picture you traced of a cat; and a bowl; and a whistle, and… Yeah, maybe there are true memories, like insects in amber, embedded in the mementos that tie the 2040 Oliver to a span of time and a place where his grandparents lived a little longer, in the spring of 2020.

Season of Sprouts: Family Children


This is perhaps the most memorable quote of the summer–so far.

Overheard from the back seat on the 800 mile trip from home to Goose Creek, the four year old offers this bit of wisdom to no one in particular.  And later, she performs for no apparent reason in the kitchen,  bouncing between the kitchen counters and the fridge.

What a puny stage for a beautiful budding ballerina!

And I’ve already shared about the brief visit of the grands during the short break between the last day of school and the first day of vacation. One warm day, the 8 yr old lost a battle with a strawberry ice cream cone at the Country Store. Quite the spectacle!


And no that’s not a spider on her cheek. I think it was a palm tree from the last day of school just one day before the ice cream attack.

Where Trouble Melts Like Lemon Drops


I think his territory might be limited to just this stretch of Carolina coast, but here, the good elf Ruddy, has been very busy getting the younger children primed for Christmas by laying out surprises overnight for the joy of discovery each morning.

Several days ago, he left a candy cane bud as you see here. When planted in a jar of sugar, he said would grow into a candy cane in three days (don’t add water.)

I admit, I was skeptical and said as much to the munchkin. She assured me that if Ruddy said it would happen, I had better just wait before I expressed such old-person doubt. Her older sister, Abby, assured me that Ruddy’s track record was beyond reproach.

And this morning, she made a believer out of me. Just look!


Vicarious Vitality: Watching Them Run

six year old soccer played well

Yes, we have two grand daughters, and it is only because the older one had a NIGHT game that she has not been featured in this back to back g-dau series.

The take-home from watching the energy expended on the field was that “there was a time” and it does not seem so long ago, when energy and strength were boundless and pain a stranger. To everything there is a season I suppose–a time to run and a time to refrain from running.

I remember when our son first “played soccer” (or at least there was  a ball by that name on the field.) The sport amounted to watching a tight little wad of appendages attached to every 6 yr old on both teams, all within five feet of whereever the ball was–a shin-kicking dust cloud of a sport.

six year old pursues the soccer ball downfield at full speed
Eye on the ball, full speed ahead!

Occasionally the ball entered the goal by accident and parents for the offense all claimed their child was responsible. Who could tell through the dust storm?

So I was pleasantly surprised to see in the game we watched on the tiny tot sized rectangle some actual attempts to pass the ball and hold some semblance of assigned position on the field. Not entirely, mind you; and there were a few on both sides who could be tagged as saying in future years that they were “not that athletic” growing up.

The shot up top was not my favorite, but with the format of “featured images” in this WordPress template, you’re pretty well stuck with landscape-oriented pictures to frame a composition to accompany the post.

So I’ve just tucked the other one in as a thumbnail of a better framed action shot and you can click or hover over it and see the larger image.

Honestly, it has been too long since I’ve had the Nikon D200 out of the bag, and it felt so good to have a responsive shutter and a manually controlled exposure/shutter speed option and manually-zoomable lens. You DO give up a good bit with the iPhone.

But the best camera to use is the one you have with you. My “phone” is ever with me, so has become the “best camera.” But I have apologized to my Nikon about my neglect and will make it up to her in the next few months. Promise.

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Joy for Free

6 year old joy playing in summer sprinkler

[su_dropcap]W[/su_dropcap]atching our grand daughter frolic in the sprinkler, I remembered the utter joy the first day we were allowed to go barefoot–in the zoysia grass, under the mimosas, only to get “stung on a bee” as one of us lamented when it happened.

The moving-parts oscillating gizmos came along well after the first one I remember–a ring of brass with holes in it that just sat there and put out a tiaraof luke-warm Alabama water a few feet into the sultry air.

Joy is found in free and simple things when you’re six. We should all be six as often as possible.