Thursday, July 26, 2018

Are the Q Pages Finsihed, You Ask? Yes, Quite!

I really have to stop trying to come up with catchy titles for these posts about my ABC Book pages.  This one was a little lame, I'll admit.

But the Q's are quite done, and I am quite happy about it!

Before I show you the Q pages, I want you to know that I kind of cheated again.   Not really, but sort of.  I scanned and copied some old artwork of mine, because I was too lazy to try to recreate it all over again.  (Mea culpa!)

The original children's alphabet book that I started about 25 years ago for my youngest son and then abandoned completely after I'd finished just 10 of the illustrated pages (only to dust it off many years later and start working on it again when I became a grandmother) was somewhat problematic.  The artwork was done on very large pieces of paper, and it would have been necessary to shrink the pages down to fit a printed book format--which in my crazy pipe dreams, the children's book publisher was going to do for me.  The pages were also hand-lettered, because it was the olden days and I didn't have a PC with Word on it and therefore didn't have the ability to make the text look utterly professional.

Here is one of those original pages, with my big old size 9 feet nearby to give you perspective.
The first time around, each letter was going to have three pages of illustrations; but having gotten older and wiser, this time around, I decided that there were only going to be two pagers per letter.  (I mean, look how many years it's already taken me to move this project along--and I'm 60 now, as of yesterday. I figured there was a lot more hope of actually finishing this book for my grandchildren before I kick the bucket if I cut down the number of pages.)  I really liked those ducks and wanted to use them again, but I'd already completed my two new pages of D's.  What to do, what to do?

Well, one solution would be coming up with a new rhyme for one of the other letters where a picture of ducks would fit right in.  So that is what I did, and this is how my 25-year-old ducks played their new part in my soon-to-be-completed (hopefully!) ABC Book.
Boo-yah!  Yes, that just happened!

The new pages are drawn on 8 and 1/2 by 11-inch card stock, so they are much more manageable.  I print out the text first using Word and then do the artwork around it. The queen is all fresh and new; but those ducks were scanned and copied from the original book, and then glued into place under the text.

When I first decided to finally finish this long-neglected book as a gift for my grandchildren, I meticulously redid the artwork that I wanted to reuse.  It was painstaking--because it's extremely difficult to try to recreate a drawing that you liked as is the first time around.

Well, no more of that!  It's way too time intensive, and I have to get this thing done while my precious little ones are still young enough to be enthralled by alphabet books!

There is a part of me that thinks my queen needs a bit more tweaking, but I'm going to try to let the urge to improve her go and just move on; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I think I actually might get this thing finished before 2018 is over.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Turning the Big Six-Oh (Oh No!)

I never got depressed or stressed when I hit any of the milestone birthdays, the "big ones."  Thirty, forty, fifty--those numbers were not all that big a deal to me.  But SIXTY..hoo boy, that's a big number.  That sounds old.  You know, very senior citizen-esque.  That's a lot of years of living on this earth.  At that advanced age, you'd think I'd be the wisest woman in town, but this is not even close to the truth.  (And we live in a pretty small VA town these days.)  I still feel like the exact same person inside that I've always been, like the shy young girl who could hardly look at a cute boy when she passed him in the hall in high school (and then ended up marrying him--proving that anything is possible and dreams can come true!); however, my outside is starting to show a good amount of wear and tear.

But as my dear dad, who died  almost two years ago, just one day shy of his 82nd birthday, would say, "It's better than the alternative."  Dad loved birthdays.  His last week with us, he knew he was dying but he REALLY wanted to hang on to celebrate one last birthday.  That's how much love of life he had in him, even at the end.

So in his honor, I think I'll embrace 60 and remember that it is indeed better than the alternative.  Especially when you are surrounded by the love of a big and ever-growing family.

A couple of weeks ago, when our youngest son was in VA with his girlfriend (on leave and in the States for the first time since last summer), the kids planned a dinner out at a restaurant in our little hometown.  The four oldest boys and their wives got babysitters for all but our youngest grandchild (she was the youngest at the time, anyway--as reported in yesterday's post, another Pearl has since been added to the string), so it was a very rare grown-ups only dinner.  I had been eagerly anticipating this night out with all of my favorite grown-ups on earth.

When my husband and I walked into the restaurant, I realized that it was actually a surprise birthday celebration for me as well--a few weeks early, since our youngest would be back in Germany on my actual "natal day," as my Dad liked to call it.

There were balloons!
There was cake!
There were presents!

But most importantly, there were these precious faces gathered around the table together.  These are my people, and I am the luckiest 60-year-old woman on the face of the earth.
I've got more gray hairs these days.  More wrinkles. More aches and pains.  More fat around the middle that won't seem to go away (no matter how much ice cream I eat--ha ha!).  But I've got this amazing bunch of humans who love me and whom I adore.

Young mamas, look forward to this.  All the sleepless nights, changing dirty diapers, mediating squabbles over toys, fixing dinners for the pickiest of eaters, taxiing carloads of smelly football players, listening to your darlings' accusations of being "the strictest parents in the whole school"--all of those things you're going through now (and that's just the tip of the iceberg, of course) will be well worth it when your children become kind, thoughtful, responsible adults and fill your table with love and laughter, when they start having families of their own.

Life is indeed a gift.  So I'll take 60, with a heaping helping of cake.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Lucky 13

Our newest grandchild, a little boy named after two powerful saints, arrived on July 19--ten days before his due date.  He is our 6th grandson and our 13th grandchild.  (I like to say that we now have a baker's dozen, because any reference to baked goods makes me happy.)

His daddy, our oldest son, has recently started flying commercially, and he was scheduled to go out on a trip July 20-23. Even though they have lots of family (three brothers and their wives) and friends in the area who were willing to help out, I felt like it might be best if I could be there to set my daughter-in-law's mind at ease.  I wanted her to know that someone would be there with her if she went into labor when my boy was on his trip.  And even if nothing happened while he was away from home, I figured it would be nice for her to have another adult in the house to lighten her load at that point in her pregnancy.  My husband and I were up in NY taking care of our VRBO house on the lake, and we had planned to drive down to VA together on the 23rd, thinking that with a July 29 due date, that would be early enough.  But I started to worry that we would be too late; something told me I'd better get down there ASAP.

I hadn't been on an airplane in a while (long story--I can tell that one later), but I decided to two-leg it down to VA on the 20th.  Then when the flights that day looked like they were going to be too full, there was a last-minute decision to fly down on the 19th.  And what do you know: when I landed in NYC and turned my phone on, there was a text from my son saying that it looked like things were getting started that night.  Regina was having contractions and he was not going to be flying his trip the next day.  He was surprised and relieved to find out that I was already en route.  Through a flurry of texts, I was informed that son #3 was going to head over to his house to be with his four daughters until I got there.  I was picked up at the airport by son #4, and he lent me his extra car so I could drive over to his big brother's house to relieve son #3 of his babysitting duties.  I got to their house at 10:30 p.m. and the baby--their first boy after four girls--was born at 11:04.

Talk about great timing!

So lucky 13 is here!
Already posted this one on IG.

And I have been one busy Grammy for the past few days!  While mommy and baby are spending time together in bed, bonding and getting the nursing thing going, I have been reading books aloud, playing library (there is a budding librarian in the group), admiring drawings, telling aspiring novelists how to spell words, changing diapers, filling water cups, making grilled cheese sandwiches, organizing dance parties...well, you get the drift.

Which begs the question, you wonderful "mommy bloggers" out there who are in the trenches raising your young'uns: how in the world do you do it?  How do you have time to blog?  I miss blogging so much, but feel like I just don't have the time or energy to devote to it these days.  I have never been very good at multi-tasking; I can only juggle one ball at a time, I guess.  But I really would like to get back to writing posts here at String of Pearls.  There is something about playing around with words that is almost therapeutic for me.  Writers gotta write, I suppose.

Before I sign off, I thought I'd share a few pictures of the newest Pearl, our Lucky 13.  As you will see, he is well loved and doted upon by his older sisters.  I joked to my son that the little guy was going to be smothered with love by all those little mothers.  And he said, "Or literally smothered."  LOLOLOL!
This one has already been on IG, too.

My husband is on the road as I write this, driving down to VA to join me here and meet his new grandson.  I've really missed him, my "old building and loan pal." (That's one of our new terms of endearment for each other--and if you don't know where that line came from, I don't think we can be friends!  Just kidding, of course.)  I can't wait until he gets here.

Anyhoo--that's what's been going on in our neck of the woods!  (And boy is it wonderful that those woods are filled with so many people we love--our four oldest sons, their wives, and our 13-going-on-14 grandchildren! It's like an enchanted forest or something!)

Now I need to wrap this up and head on over to see the girls, who really hoped I would be there to have breakfast with them.  I'd been staying at their house until last night, when I decided that I needed to sleep in my own bed.  Thank goodness it's only 17 minutes from our place to theirs!

Okay then, bye for now...