Category Archives: Grandparents

The Only Kid

Helen Story Pin

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Old Photos and Worn Cookbooks – Mother’s Day Contest Entry

Grandma Helen

Grandma Helen

Old Photos and Worn Cookbooks

By Helen Novielli

I’ve been working on a project about my grandmother. So far, I’ve amassed a great deal of stories and pictures. It’s been hard to get started on the actual writing and compiling because reading and re-reading is so much fun.

I grew up next door to my Grandma Helen. I was named after her. When I went away to college, she sent me notes and her family-famous Valentine cookies. Every return home saw me running across the driveway to see her before I’d even think of unpacking the car.

Grand Helen died at the end of my senior year of college. She didn’t see me graduate from college. She met my husband, but didn’t see our wedding. She never met Phee or shared stories of her six pregnancies.

I learned a lot and shared so many experiences growing up next to Grandma. I was the only kid I knew with family next door. Even then, I knew how special that was and how lucky I was. There’s so much more I wish I’d been able to find out, though. As I grew up, got married, got pregnant, I know she would have had so many more stories of her younger years to share. With all I did have, it’s hard to say that I missed out. But I did. And I do every day.

She is on my mind so often. When I’m in the kitchen especially. The kitchen is the center of so many homes, and none more so than Grandma Helen’s. When you walked into her house, you walked right in to the heart of her home and our family. The side door led into the long kitchen, scene of weekly family dinners, all-day baking marathons, and too many childhoods to count.

Phee isn’t growing up in that kitchen. She hears stories, but even then, I can only remember so much at one time. Some things are just better for having been experienced. And so I’m working on this project. It’s a considerable undertaking, compiling memories and stories from relatives. Already I have learned so much, seen many old photos for the first time, and cried over Grandma’s handwriting in well-worn cookbooks.

A grand project full of so many facets of Grandmother and her life. A trip down memory lane; memories old and new. More than anything, this labor of love is a way to find my place in a family full of strong women, led for so long by our beloved Grandma Helen.
About Helen Novielli: I’m a full time working mom who freelances on the side. In our spare time, my daughter and I like to do crafts, read, cook, and DIY projects around the house. Sometimes they work. And sometimes I remember to take pictures and share them.

[Like this story on our Facebook page to help the author win Positive Parenting’s Mother’s Day Writing Contest! (You’re welcome to “like” it here too! :)]

A Worthy Resolution

New Year 2013 with childrenOn my eleventh birthday, I got my first diary. It was a gift from my grandmother. It was pink, with a picture of a girl on the front. It also had a lock and key.

I wrote in it faithfully … for a while at least. At that age, I didn’t have much else to do.

Then the inevitable happened. I forgot to write in it for a while. I opened it, apologizing to the inanimate pages that I hadn’t written in for a while, tried to remember everything that had occurred over the past month or so, promptly got overwhelmed and closed the book once more.

A similar cycle continued over the years. At the start of a New Year or on my birthday, I would begin with a new resolution to write in my diary every day.

Sometimes I kept my daily journal for a while, but found it mundane to repeat the same things day after day:

I ate breakfast; I did school; I took the dog for a walk; I read a book; I got in an argument with my little brother.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I stopped keeping a diary. From time to time, I would make an effort, like when my daughter was born, or when I discovered that my kids were growing up waaaaaay too fast and I didn’t want to forget those special moments. But life always shoved itself into the forefront and pushed reminiscing to the back. My diary was forgotten again.

A New Year is ahead once more. Time continues racing. And my days remain as busy as ever. Yet, an idea forms in my mind.

What about a diary of “lasting” moments?

Not every moment. Not what I ate for breakfast or what I managed to clean up in the house or what work project I completed.

Lasting moments…the ones that tend to remain in the heart long after they are over.

It doesn’t have to be hugely unique or expensive. It can be….

  • A story read, with a child sitting on my lap, excitedly asking “What happens next?”
  • A project done together, even if the finished product isn’t perfect.
  • An afternoon outing to a park, complete with races or a game of hide-and-seek.
  • Watching a video together around a bowl of popcorn.
  • Putting aside a personal to-do for the moment to take time for one of the kids.
  • Taking one of them for a surprise snack.
  • Enjoying a board game together.

Those simple things that, patchworked together, create the unique frame for the portrait of childhood memories, hung permanently upon their hearts.

I think I just found a worthy New Year’s resolution!

“Let ’em Do It”

The wisdom of a grandmother…

I like to consider myself at least aware when it comes to teaching my children practical life skills. I am by no means a pro at it. I don’t follow a systematic approach at ensuring they have accomplished a certain set of skills at a specific level by a particular age. Every child is different, after all.

peeled orangeMy youngest, who just turned two, loves oranges, and tangerines—which he calls ‘baby oranges’.  I used to peel and cut the oranges for him. Then I started cutting them without peeling them and he does a pretty good job at eating the edible part and throwing away the peel. He used to throw them straight off the table, but has learned to aim for the garbage can instead.

At dinner recently, he was eating when he noticed some tangerines in the fruit bowl on the table. He was sitting next to my mom, and reached for the ‘baby onange’.  She peeled off a little patch and gave it to him to peel the rest.

His face completely lit up at the challenge, and he spent the next few minutes carefully peeling his baby orange. He didn’t mind that he had to work a bit before being able to eat it. He seemed very pleased, in fact, and had a great time accomplishing a task all by himself.

It’s great to have an outside source now and again to remind us how much our children are capable of accomplishing, and inspiring them to reach for the sky… or at least for the fruit bowl.