Nona Nita's Grandparenting Blog
The Blog for Enlightened Grandparents
Nona Nita's Grandparenting Blog

Ten Work Days 'til Retirement

The check will be 

HOW MUCH?

I paid into Social Security for 30 years and those politicians want to cut

THIS?

Seriously,

you’re kidding, right?

They don’t really tax it do they?


Oh Deer!


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The First Day of my Retirement




First I’m going to set up a daily exercise program. 


No . . .

first I want to make sure that I meditate each day. 

No . . .

first I’m going to spend lots of time with the family. 

No . . .

first I’m going to just get in the car and keep driving.

No . . . 

I think the first thing I'll do is blog, blog, blog. 

No . . . 

first I'll launch that home-based business I’ve been dreaming about. 

No . . . 

first thing I'll do is call all my friends who I haven't had a chance to call in a long time. 

No . . . 

first I’m going to sleep really late and spend a whole day lolling around the house in my pajamas. . . 

Wow! 

Besides the problem of deciding what to do first, this retirement thing sounds like soooo much fun!


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook 
and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living


With a Song in My Heart

  "Somethin’s comin, I don’t know, what it is, but it is,                                         gonna be great…”


     “I got no strings to hold me down, to make me laugh or make me frown…”    

                                                            

     “Free again… Independent me, free again. Time to call out all the crowd, raise the roof and shout out loud…"


     "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life, for me...feelin' good..."              

                                                                              

Damn, the heart sure sings when there’s only 20 more work days ‘till retirement!


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook 
and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living


"The new majority – plasticware is back".

        ...  quote from press aide to John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives


After an absence of four years, foam plastic coffee cups have returned to the coffee shop of the U.S. Congress building after the current congress began reversing a series of in-house green initiatives instituted by the former congress. Apparently the members of the new congressional majority have decided that lowering the congress’ carbon footprint is not worth the extra money.

What the *%#& is wrong with these people?

I am so sick and tired of hearing politicians proselytizing about “robbing from our grandchildren” when referring to money that funds any program that they are against politically, while at the same time sabotaging all attempts to leave the legacy of a clean environment to those very same grandchildren. Hundreds of dolphin carcasses have been found in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. NOAA scientist Blair Mase, said that the necropsies already performed on the dolphins indicate that they died from "something environmental" that took place in the past year.

DUH!

I wonder how much money will be spent trying to figure out what event that might have been… and who will expose those congressman and senators who mortgage our grandchildren’s food supply by taking money from the oil companies and pushing for off shore deep water drilling rather than funding green energy options?

It’s disgusting. It’s hypocrisy. It’s got to stop.

Money comes and goes. Clean air and water once gone, doesn’t come back. Apparently that method of robbing the future is too difficult for our representatives to understand.The least they could do is stop feigning concern for our grandchildren's futures.

 


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook 
and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living


Ten Things I Promise Not To Do, Now That I Have Become a Celebrity…

     Vowing not to become conceited with the celebrity into which I have been catapulted by being "grilled" on Grandma’s Briefs, I present this list. To those readers who might fear that such sudden fame might go to my head I say, "Not to worry!" The facts are that based on past experience, anything nice that comes my way that is as delicious as fame, would be more likely to go to my hips. However, to reassure all of you who know me as the humble grandma that I am, I vow that unlike other celebrities in the past, I will never…

1. pose nude for any magazine (bet you’re relieved already)

2. wear meat as a garment (at least not while there’s a crock pot within 500 ft.).

3. endorse any product that shores up my bones, stops me from  leaking, or prevents the urge to run to the bathroom every two minutes (unless, of course, I get lots of free samples).

4. be caught shoplifting luxury items that I can easily afford to purchase (like super soft double roll Charmin as opposed to the store brand)

5. allow any wardrobe malfunctions to interrupt my public engagements (barring the occasional under-wire popping out of its bounds and sticking me under the arm).

6. appear on The View to argue politics with Elizabeth Hasselbeck. (I mean, honestly, what would be the point when I can just turn on Fox News and yell at the T.V. set?)

7. star in any exercise DVD (unless the exercise consists of warming up by putting food in my mouth, working the muscles involved in chewing, and winding down with a swallow).

8. run for the office of Governor of California. (Actually this one wasn't hard… I don’t run anywhere anymore.)

9. enter rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic (unless they start a new program for seniors addicted to saying exactly what they think without first passing it through a social filter).

10. create and star in a new reality show entitled “Real Grandma’s of Long Island” where they might film me and my cohorts at the senior center tearing out each other’s silver tresses over who gets to date the only single man our age still breathing. (Actually, I might consider this one, soon as my hair grows back from the last trip to the center…)


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living

A Passion for Tea

     “Dainty” is probably the least likely adjective that comes to mind when people talk about me, with “ladylike”, “sophisticated” and “feminine” following close behind. So why is it that in middle age, I have become so fascinated by anything that has to do with the epitome of sophisticated, ladylike customs,  known as a “Formal English Afternoon Tea”?  If you knew me well, you would be as perplexed about this as I am because I am known to pride myself on being rather non-traditional.  For years I was a real minimalist. For example, my decorating style was strictly “modern”. While my friends were swooning over Ethan Allen and French Country, I preferred white laminated cabinets and clean glass and chrome accessory pieces. My favorite furniture store was IKEA, and I scorned any knickknack or chachka that would get in the way of sleek, clean lines and give me one more thing to dust in the process. One would never find anything as sweet as a Precious Moments figurine on my shelves and the closest my table ever got to fine china was plain white Corelle.                                       

     This all changed when my daughter became engaged and it fell upon me to give her a bridal shower.  In search of a theme, I remembered what fun we had on an outing to Manhattan where the two of us had enjoyed a formal “tea” at the historic Hotel Pierre overlooking Central Park. In this elegant, but prim and proper setting, we had enjoyed pretending to be society ladies, lifting our tea cups with our pinkies in the air while a tuxedo clad waiter served us petite sandwiches. When I saw that one of our local historic restaurants offered a bridal shower package which included a “Victorian Tea”, I made the arrangements. I was willing to splurge for this treat but when it came to picking the centerpieces, I balked at the price. I decided to make my own. I figured I would go to a few thrift shops; pick up enough used teapots for each table (I didn’t own any pots myself); fill them with multi-colored roses bought in bulk from Costco; and that would be that. Boy, did I miscalculate … especially on the “that would be that” part! Somewhere during my hunt through second hand shops, I totally fell in love with everything “tea”.

     The centerpieces were a big hit and the shower was a huge success. Afterwards, though, I missed my jaunts to look for teapots. Well, I imagine you can guess the rest. Since then I have gone on to accumulate a collection of over 50 vintage Sadler English teapots. In addition I have acquired too many dainty bone china tea cups to count; tea cozies and tea strainers; vintage tablecloths; and of course, tins and tins of all varieties of tea.The kitchen walls in my little cottage are laden with a display of tea paraphernalia, in spite of the fact that each little treasure requires frequent dusting.  Whenever I travel, I make a point of visiting the nearest tea room. I can proudly brag that I have “been to tea” in many fancy places from Savanna, Georgia to Bath, England, and I have gleefully held my pinky in the air throughout.  I have perfected a recipe for delicious orange cranberry scones and I’ve even learned how to blend a pretty good substitute for English Clotted Cream, both of which I serve frequently to everyone who visits.

     I have no idea why this passion, which would have once been so completely out of character, has grabbed hold of me. Is it the desire to have some lovely things to pass on to my daughter? Is it just a rather O.C.D. me in search of a hobby? Is it an aging woman finally beginning to appreciate everything “old”? Is it a non-conformist yearning for some tradition? Who knows? All I do know is that sipping tea which has been poured from a lovely bone china teapot into a dainty cup, with a three tiered plate of savory delights close by, lifts my spirits.  The neat part about it is that I never cease to surprise myself. It gives me a giggle thinking that at 61, I am still wondering what I will find out about myself when I finally grow up.

For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living

My Favorite Valentine

     Since the first time I saw this video back in the '80s, it  has inspired me and touched my inner child. It's a wonderful reminder of how important it is to nurture self-worth, inner strength, and positive self-esteem in children.  I offer it with a thanks to Whitney Houston for making it, and a great big 
Happy Valentines Day 
to everyone who stops by my blog.  


                       


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living




Out of the Mouth of Babes

So Hannah arrived for some “Nona Time” before I had a chance to finish straightening up the Living Room.

 “Nona didn’t have a chance to finish vacuuming the rug before you came”, I said. “We’ll 

have to do it before we take the toys out”.

“That’s O.K., Nona” she piped up. “You can let the cleaning ladies do it when they come.”

I cracked up.  Should I tell her that the cleaning ladies don’t come to everyone’s house?

 After all, cleaning ladies are kind of like Santa Claus for big people. Far be it from me to be the one to burst her bubble.


Oh well . . .  from her mouth to God’s ears . . .



For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living




Happy Birthday Grandma ... love, Nita

Maria Dominica Mazzaferro Tedaldi 

January 30, 1907 -  October 28, 2005

My most vivid early memory of my Grandmother was sitting on the floor in her screened in front porch, cutting out a big circle from a remnant she had taken home from the shop.  It was to be a flair skirt and the first thing that I would ever sew.  Grandpa was sitting there, chewing his tobacco. As she guided me through the cutting and hand sewing of the garment she insisted that I had to sew it all by hand before she would teach me how to use the sewing machine. As she put it “You have to learn to do it the hard way first, Nita. You might not always have a sewing machine, you know”. In between instructing me on the finer points of cutting on the bias, her hands were busily shucking peas into a big bowl on her lap. She had grown the peas in her wonderful yearly garden that at the time took up half of her back yard. 

 As the years went by, those same tireless hands brought  warm milk and honey for coughs; rolled out boards and boards of the best raviolis in the world; hemmed and sewed garments for all of our important occasions; moved quickly and efficiently over numerous strands of rosary beads; hung out bushels and bushels of wet clothes; hoed and weeded; baked thousands of cookies; checked foreheads for fevers; and lovingly pushed back hair to “get it out of your face”.  As I look back now on the 55 years that I knew her, I have come to realize that her hands were truly the symbols of her life.  Unlike many people who struggle with the meaning of their existence, for Nanny there was no question about it…life was tireless duty and service to family. For her, the most important thing was to get up each morning bright and early and get on with the business of getting things done to make sure that her house was in order and those she loved were clothed, fed, and safe. 

Sometimes you could wear yourself out just watching her.  If she ever questioned her priority of putting everyone else’s needs first, it was never evident to me.  I remember the day she received the letter saying that her mother had died in Italy.  Tears were streaming down her face as she scrubbed the kitchen floor on her hands and knees with a scrub brush.  I was furious that she seemed to be adding to her misery by, what I considered unnecessary, hard labor and so I went to get the sponge mop, but she wouldn’t hear of it.  Looking back, it is clear to me that hard work was her form of meditation. She was doing what she knew how to do best … keeping busy and accepting what life handed her with courage and determination.

That is not to say that grandma was always the easiest person to live with.  As all of her grandchildren who ever checked before we entered her house to see if we were wearing an undershirt know, there were times that her insistence on doing it her way could drive you crazy.   Sometimes it seemed out of step with the times.  But her intentions were always to teach us what was right and best for us…according to the way she had been taught, during her brief childhood at the school of hard knocks. 

For, of course, her service to family didn’t start when I was born.  Her many stories about her early life were always amazing to listen to and went far in explaining how she became the grandma I knew.  The stories bore the tale of a life of duty. She told of her early life in Popoli, Italy where she would carry lunch every day to the men in her family who were working the fields; her difficult journey to the U.S.A. in steerage on the S.S. America at the age of 9; her early adolescence spent in the brickyard cooking and cleaning for her brothers between walking miles to a two room schoolhouse where she had to sit in the third grade until she learned English; an arranged marriage to a man much older than her; her many years of slaving in a piece-work factory to make ends meet; and the numerous moves and financial hardships she experienced as she raised her two daughters;

The women in Steel Magnolias couldn’t hold a candle to my Nanny.  But she also had her times of laughter and softness, like when she would hold her grandchildren and great grandchildren in her arms and bounce them on her knees, singing patty cake, planning all the while just what to feed them next. It seemed as if they were the dolls that she never had in her youth, and of course, her pride and delight in each grandchild’s accomplishments shone through always.  More than once I heard her brag about each of us when her friends would be around and I am sure that more than one picture of this one’s graduation and that one’s dance recital, First Holy Communion, and educational or athletic accomplishment, was passed around at the shop, at senior citizens or at her house, over a piece of the best apple pie you could ever hope to taste. 

Sometimes, on a Sunday morning, you could catch her singing along to the Italian hour as she started cooking her Spaghetti (if she didn’t hear you come in, that is).  I still savor the memory of seeing her pleasure when she would open her hope chest to take out some special linen she had packed away years ago, or when she would carefully unwrap the paper from an afghan that she had recently finished and wanted someone to admire.  I cherish the memory of the satisfaction and pride on her face when she would take me to her closet in the bedroom to show me a dress she had just finished making from an old pattern she had altered or cut down from the shop.  If she made it well, she felt good about it, but if she made it well and had saved money doing it, she felt even better.

Nanny always knew where you could get groceries for the best price, and she was delighted to get a bargain. When I would scold her and tell her to splurge a little on herself, she would invariably reply “I have everything I need”. What she really meant was that she had her family, and that was enough.  In her later years she enjoyed her soap operas and, true to Nanny’s style, she would give out advice to the characters from her armchair, but she seldom relaxed and just watched… those hands were always busy at some crocheted or knitted project… either an afghan for the church rosary society raffle, a throw for grandchild’s dorm bed, a hat or scarf for her daughter or, a baby sweater or mittens for one of her great-grandchildren… this multi-tasking seemed to make the sitting down permissible. 

Holiday’s at Gandma’s were gastronomical delights. To this day, nobody in the family even attempts to make her homemade raviolis. Christmas Eve dinner was a special treat with the mounds and mounds of Christmas cookies ;that she would start baking in November; the Bacala and spaghetti with tuna sauce; followed by caroling around the table accompanied, until he died, by grandpa’s harmonica,  As the years passed, and accomplishing this feast became harder and harder for her, our whole family felt the loss and frustration along with her.

At the end of her life, especially in the few weeks when she began to slip away, I reluctantly managed to find a way to say goodbye to this noble, caring woman.  The family’s decision to get out of God’s way and let her make her final passage was heart wrenching for those of us, who on some unconscious level, secretly thought that she would be here with us forever, as she had always been.  We tried our best to ensure that she would transition with dignity, as she had lived.  When I left her bedside only two short hours before she passed, I whispered to her to go and claim her reward for a life of service well lived. When I heard that she had died, I felt comforted in knowing that Nanny finally did something for herself.  Although it has been six years since she passed, I have always felt that she is really only a heartbeat away. She is, of course, alive in my heart every time I remember all the valuable lessons that she taught me about life… the value of service, giving to others, perseverance, and faith.  These lessons are as precious as she was and I find myself calling on her memory often…and as I do, I always find myself smiling, trying to resist the urge to check to see if I’m wearing an undershirt. 


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living

My Princess Peeve

      I’m trying to figure out why I find this whole Disney Princess thing so annoying.  When my daughter was little, she loved to watch Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, over and over again,  just as my granddaughter does now. I can remember scouring yard sales for old dance costumes and sparkly tiaras to facilitate the imaginative play. What I don’t remember is being so annoyed about it. Of course, back then, there wasn’t a different costume including every accessory down to the earrings, available in every store for each Disney princess, and in those days, Barbie was just a well built girl, not a "princess". Now there are princess pajamas, princess slippers, princess t shirts, princess backpacks, princess toothbrushes, princess undies, princess Band-Aids, princess boo-boo buddies, and even princess chicken noodle soup.  Enough is enough!

      I get annoyed at myself every time I purchase one of these insanely overpriced items. The only reason I continue to do so is because my granddaughter is so taken by them, they are "pretty"  and, yes,  I'm an old softy... but the question still remains, why does it bother me so?  I suppose I could blame it on overkill in the marketing of these items. Besides all the chachkas, "Princess" stories abound, and are available in every genre, from DVD’s to computer games.  Every kind of book from Pop-Up to Sticker and everything in between bombards us from every shelf in every store. Between all the story lines and all the props available, there isn’t much room left for any real creative, imaginative play. From what I can see, "Princess" play circa 2011 is more like a puppet show, with a well-worn script and real live costumed puppets ... our little girls.  Even so, I don’t think the run-away marketing is really what sticks in my craw .

     I guess I just have to admit it. It’s the falling in love and living “happily ever after” part that pushes my buttons. One of my younger colleagues has tried to explain to me that today’s princess stories really try to encourage girls to become empowered and that the more recent ones like Mulan , Pocahontas, and The Princess and the Frog portray girls as courageous and accomplished, but the fact is, the majority of the princesses even in these newer stories still end up falling in love with some guy and living “happily ever after”.  I haven't seen one Princess yet deliver a line like “I’m sorry, it’s not you… it’s me. I need space to continue my studies, enjoy a rewarding and lucrative career, and then, when I’ve grown to know myself really well, I’ll consider partnering with someone who will be my intellectual and emotional equal.”  (although, to be fair, even real life Princess Diana had a tough time integrating all the elements of that one). The princesses of the stories may exhibit talents and execute courageous deeds, but the fact remains that the authors have the characters fall in love to complete their journey to “happily ever after”. I’d like my grand daughters to feel complete all the time. I don’t like the idea that they might think that they need to look for someone else to make them “happy”. 

     And so, I continue to assuage my guilt at participating in this charade by changing the endings a little to offer alternatives.  “Gee, what a shame she didn’t think about travelling the world a bit and then enrolling in college before she settled down”, I say at the end of Sleeping Beauty.  “Of course, she could have just thanked him nicely and asked for a ride back to the cottage where she could start a pharmaceutical company producing medicinal herbs and eventually find a cure for Plague, ” I add at the conclusion  of Snow White. Pointing out that any one of the Princesses could have enjoyed a career in the opera, is one of my personal favorites.

I know I'm not alone in this dilemma. In her book,  Cinderella Ate My Daughter, author Peggy Orenstein expresses genuine concern over the cultural messages little girls are getting from this phenomenon. A review  in The New York Times highlights some of the observations expressed in her book. I recently heard a local news show do a short bit exploring the possible damage being done to young, impressionable self images by this obsession, and I've heard the clucking of parents and grandparents alike as we line up at the cash registers with the latest batch of princess "stuff".  I know there are some people who will read this and think that I'm just an old dream crusher. But in 61 years, you have to learn something, and if there’s one thing I have learned for sure, it’s that nobody lives “happily ever after” until they fall in love with themselves.


For more on Enlightened Grand parenting visit Nona Nita's Nook 
and click My Path Productions for ideas that support conscious living