My Gran

She wasn't just "my" Gran. In fact, she had so many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and those who weren't officially either, but rather just inherited, I can't even begin to count.  But that's how our family is. Once a part of it, you're in for life.

Gran's picture could be placed next to a number of definitions in the dictionary: matriarch, mother, grandmother, friend, storyteller, comedienne.  But what she opitomizes most to me is unconditional love. Despite having had a rather large family, she had the unique talent of making each and every one of us feel like her favorite. I was actually her favorite, though. Just saying.

I was painfully shy growing up (I know, hard to believe). My typical place in residence, particularly during large family events, was on my mom's lap. I remember having a particularly shy moment when I was probably about six years old. My cousins weren't being very nice (as I was their favorite thing to pick on growing up; I now consider them as if they were my brothers). Gran pulled me aside and asked me, "Want to learn a secret handshake?" She squeezed my hand four times: "Do you love me?" And told me to squeeze back, three times: "Yes, I do." She then squeezed twice: "How much?" And told me to squeeze once, showing how much.  Then we did the reverse, so I could feel how much she loved me.  She told me to come back to her whenever I needed to know how much she loved me, as a little reminder.  This became something I did any time I was feeling down or insecure, and I could do it without anyone having to know. Later, this was passed on to my father and me, and often turned into an arm wrestling match, but it was something Gran had passed on. Emma will learn this secret handshake as soon as she is able.

That was Gran. Always finding a way to sneak in a little alone time, despite the chaos.

The last time I saw Gran was the Thanksgiving of 2009. Paul and I went to visit her at her nursing home with two of my cousins.  That weekend there was to be a mustache contest between some of the men in the family, and Paul had grown a doozy.  Despite sitting in her wheelchair with a curve in her back, Gran smiled from ear to ear every time she looked at Paul... She LOVED his mustache. All five of us giggled the entire time we were there at the ridiculousness of Paul's facial hair.  Gran told several of her famous stories we've heard a thousand times. I drank it in, knowing that it might be the last time I saw her.  Gran squeezed my hand four times before we left. I let her know how much I loved her, but it was our own little secret.

I inherited my nose from Gran. And her eyes. But most of all, I took from her an ability to tell stories, and hopefully to help others feel special in this crazy world.

Sunday morning, God took Gran to join Him in heaven. I have a feeling she's having a great 'ole time, finally seeing Grandaddy again, standing straight and tall with her beautful olive skin and almond eyes. She will be missed for a number of reasons, but all she has to do is look down and see the family that began with her.  So many of the traditions, love, and friendships that have occurred in my life are a direct result of her.

I'll miss you, Gran, and love you more than I was ever able to squeeze.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Mysterious Number Two

The time has come, my friends, to discuss number two. Yes, that number two. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this would come up in my blog, but here we are.

Little girl does not disappoint when number two appears. She is a purple faced, grunting and groaning monster. And the sigh of relief afterwards? Priceless! So yesterday we were playing around (putting off my 21 days of organization, mind you), and all of a sudden I could smell something not so appetizing.  Now because of E's "shows," it never occurred to me to check her.  I wandered around the house (with baby in tow) searching for the culprit.  Giving up, I check little girl's behind, and wheewwww! I don't know how I missed it. The mysterious number two. Not only was this occurrence perfectly silent, she was also perfectly content about it. I really think us adults should learn from babies. We'd all be a lot happier.

Which got me thinking... Babies can teach us so much about how to live life, reflect quietly (or not so much), and be the happiest humans in the world, and this brings me to today's topic...

What I've learned about life via my little one's number two:

*Do what feels right on the inside, even if you look like a purple-faced grumbly monster on the outside

*If you feel like you need to go, GO for goodness sake! You might not get another chance for quite some time

*Speaking of going, go with the flow. It's nice to have a schedule or routine, but sometimes flexibility is our closest ally

*While speaking your mind is not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes self-reflecting and keeping your mouth shut for a bit might do some good

*Observe the world and learn from it

*Smile at most things, laugh at everything else. Life is so much more fun with happy people in it

*If at first you don't succeed, stare at it for awhile, then try, try again (I actually learned this from my dad, but I think it still applies...)

*Surprise people. You never know what you might find...

That's all for now! Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


21 Towels, and Other Nonsense

Those of you who are keeping track, I may not be sticking to the whole 21 days of organizing, but I am doing my best to keep up with some of the challenges. I'm also skipping around (sorry, Toni!) to better suit my schedule. Well, E's schedule, really. Teeth are coming in, and all I can say is that things have been a bit wonky around here...

I digress!  I have tackled three more challenges, one of which I was dreading the most: the linen closet!  There are two reasons for this: 1) because it also doubles as our medicine cabinet (you should see the size of our bathroom-tiny!), and 2) because I knew there were a lot of things to be purged.

From afar it doesn't look too bad, but I can assure you that this closet is almost 2 feet deep, so there are a lot of little things lurking in there...

Which brings me to the title of my post today: TWENTY-ONE TOWELS. In our house. For three people, one of which has just surpassed the 2 foot mark, so she doesn't really count.  The humor in this is actually that Paul and I are so set in our ways that each of us really only uses one of two towels, and then I just wash them.

One bag off to Goodwill!  Check!

Oh wait... It gets better.  There is ONE queen bed in our house, plus the queen air bed used for guests when they come.  We have SIX sets of sheets in our house.  ?!?

Two bags off to Goodwill! Check and check!

The tension in my shoulders has released.  Purging feels GOOD.

Ahhhh... So much better.

Then there's under the kitchen sink, and the spice cabinet.  Actually, neither were too bad. Although there was the brand new scrubber I found, and when Paul got home he asked, "When did you buy this?" Of course my reply was, "I didn't." Turns out it was the previous owner's scrubber.  I feel like I may be needing to clean out things more often...

And after!
 And finally, my crowning achievement in the kitchen: the spice cabinet.  All in all, we (yes, 'we!' Paul helped with this one, as he is the chef in the family) threw away about HALF of what we had in the cabinet, including some hot chili oil from 2003. What?!


Sweet organization!
I am really starting to feel great about all of this organization... And I think I'm starting to inspire the rest of the family.  The desk downstairs has miraculously been organized! It's definitely catching on.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda

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