Binks, Smiles, and the Joy From Within

Last week there was a little fella around here who is absolutely, slap dab adorable.  There were also two others here I love who are handsome.  But the little one–adorable.   

Because when they are under two, you can get away with calling little fellas adorable.  After that, not so much. 

My nephews.  My brother and his family were here, and I realized just how unbaby-proofed my house has become in the past four or so years since Cooter was a toddler.  I spent the first day following my eighteen month old little fella around.  Not sure what he might think of getting into (not much) or how Miss Sophie would react to someone she no kidding could knock down (she didn’t), I followed him around the counter and through the kitchen and around the table.  Over and over. He toted his graham cracker around and became Miss Sophie’s new best friend when he handed it over to her and giggled.  After that, she figured out he was the one to watch. 

When it was naptime, this little fella was allowed his pacy–bink, pacifier, soother, whatever you might call it.  He took it happily and put his head on my shoulder and cuddled close.  When he fell asleep, I didn’t even pretend to try to put him down.  Because I’m the Aunt, and I can get away with that. 

Today I saw a picture of a friend’s little guy with his “bink” in his mouth.  ADORABLE.  What is it that draws me to these little ones with their pacifiers?  I miss seeing my littles with theirs in their mouth, and it didn’t bother me to give it to them when they were little like that–it helped comfort them.  (Which is ironic because I never gave Aub a pacifier–the hospital discouraged it.  And so I became her comforter.)  They were so cute.  I can still picture their little faces. It was a hoot because our Princess was much like her little cousin–one in the mouth and one in the hand.  She often smelled hers too.  Sorry, sounds disgusting, I guess, but there it is.  As she got older she would do funny tricks and weave them together.  She also figured out where the magic drawer was that held her extras. 

As I looked at the picture of my friend’s son, it hit me.  I was focusing on his eyes.  He was smiling.  I couldn’t see his mouth to confirm this, but one look at those eyes and the joy was apparent. 


And that’s what it is.  I love to see joy that is so great it travels to the eyes.  So sweet. 

When Mama had her last HospitalStay, she was on a vent to help her breathe.  She wasn’t conscious for much of the 25 days, but one morning during that last week, she was.  I was sitting in the horrible STINKU (STICU) with her, and I said something inconsequential.  She looked over at me and wrinkled her nose, and from her eyes–she couldn’t move her mouth very easily with the vent–I could tell she was smiling.  That smile lit up the room and my heart.  And it all came from her beautiful eyes. My spirit lifted.  A smile with a wrinkled nose?  That meant “I love you” in no uncertain terms. 

Bless her. 

In all of that, a smile. 

Tonight I’m thankful for smiles that lift the spirit.  For smiles that come from so deep within that they bubble out and upward and light up a person’s whole countenance.  Children know how to do this without even trying.  Some adults haven’t forgotten.  I am thankful for the joy that brings on such light and beauty. 

May something bring you such happiness today that your smile can’t help but fill your whole face. 

Love to all. 

Making Do

Black bean burgers.

Yu-ummmmm.  I was so craving one.  On account of my sister Mess Cat talking about making her own a few weeks back, I made up a recipe and cooked some last week.  And they were some kind of good.

And I wanted more.

I went to the pantry in search of black beans.  Are you kidding me?  I ate them all already?

Well shoot.

This is what I get for not keeping a running grocery list like my Mama did.

All I could find were pinto beans.

I shrugged.  Well, when that’s what you have…..

"Making do" with pinto beans instead of black beans.  Use what you got, right?

“Making do” with pinto beans instead of black beans. Use what you got, right?

As I was mixing them up, I thought about something Mama said all those years.

They weren’t black bean burgers, but we’d “make do.”

Not looking too shabby actually.

Not looking too shabby actually.

And I laughed.

Maybe that’s why Mama said she was flexible.  She had a lifetime of “making do.”  In the first year she and Daddy moved to Peach County when I was quite small, they didn’t have a stove.

Just think about that.  No stove.  No microwave.  She had a little electric hot plate that she used to cook on.  A whole summer of this.  And then they got their first stove.  She was happy about her new stove, but she’d gotten by–because she made do.

When one of vehicles went kaput and they couldn’t get another one right away, I remember Mama driving Daddy to work so she could pick us up from school later.  They made do.

She sewed a lot of our clothes in the early years, and she made do with what fabric she could get.

When it came time to make something and she didn’t have a certain ingredient, she would figure it out and make do.

Sounds like she was into sacrificing, doesn’t it?

But she wasn’t.  She was so joyful most of the time.  Not Pollyanna exactly, but probably a first cousin.  She could find joy in the simplest or smallest of things. She did it with grace and a thankful heart.  On Mama “making do” looked like appreciation and ingenuity.   And her example of making do is a gift that I’m just now really growing to appreciate.

Because of her, I don’t take things sitting down.  If I have it in my head to do something, and I don’t have exactly what I need, I can come up with another way to make it happen and “make do.”  I think “making do” might be the mother of creativity.  Making do has created some pretty awesome school projects and costumes over the years.  Don’t have something?  Okay, let’s take what we have and make it work.

Tonight I’m thankful for a Mama who taught me the gift of making do.  I think it’s close relations to “appreciating what you have.”  A few of the thrifty folks out there have a tagline–“shop at home first.”  Mama was all about that way before it became the “thing” to do.  Making do was all about being frugal, a good steward, and being responsible.

Making do–it’s not a sacrifice, it’s a beautiful way of life.


My "Make Do" burgers.  Delicious.  And look at Miss Sophie photobombing, hoping for a bite.  Sweet girl.

My “Make Do” burgers. Delicious. And look at Miss Sophie photobombing, hoping for a bite. Sweet girl.

And by the way, the pinto bean burgers more than “made do.”  They were delicious.

Love and just enough to make do to all.




You’re Never Too Old to Skip

My sweet cousin whom I grew up playing Barbies and petting puppies and making toadhouses with sent me a gift two days ago.  One I want to share with y’all tonight.  She wrote me about something that happened that reminded her of my Mama.  A Maemae/Aunt Barbara sighting, I like to call it.  In the middle of missing Mama and grieving and remembering, it is such a precious gift to have someone else take time to remember with me.

My cousin and her daughter E, who is six months older than my Aub, travel once a week for E’s orchestra rehearsal. (She can play, y’all.)  My cousin goes along and takes her knitting and enjoys her time with her sweet girl and her time for uninterrupted knitting while E is rehearsing.  This is her story–

Last night as we were leaving, there was one of the orchestra members leaving at the same time but just slightly ahead of us.  E told me she plays flute and is very good, but is also very sweet.  She reminds me of Aunt Barbara.  She is built like her and even has some of the same features.  Well, as we are walking to our cars, she begins to skip.  Now this is not a young lady.  She is at least in her 60’s.  I thought she had one of the songs they had rehearsed in her head that encouraged her to skip.  So she turns around and sees us and I asked her what song was in her head to make her skip.  She said, “Oh, no.  I believe that the older you get the more you need to skip.”  All I could think of was your mom.  

Oh y’all.  The tears.  That is who my Mama was.  She loved this life and the people in it, and it seemed her spirit was often skipping even when her body could not.

Tonight I’m thankful for my sweet cousin who took time to share this story and who said it was okay to share it here.  I’m thankful she loves my Mama and misses her and still looks for her in this world too.  I’m grateful for my Mama, who loved life.  Her joie de vivre was a blessing to so many.

And I’m thankful for this that happened tonight on the way home from our walk with Miss Sophie.

Returning home from our walk--that's our Princess up ahead skipping along.  Cooter even started skipping a few steps later.

Returning home from our walk–that’s our Princess up ahead skipping along. Cooter even started skipping a few steps later.

I know it’s hard to tell, but when we were nearing home, our Princess began to skip.  She was singing and skipping, and I gave thanks that she has a bit of her Maemae in her too.

May you all have a skip-worthy day.  You’re never too old.  Love to all.