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Posted in BloggingFriends

Writing this post, the last for the Grand, is more bittersweet than I thought it would be. As I was looking through the archives to try to think of something either pithy or profound to write to wrap things up, neatly or otherwise, I came across a post that Charity wrote when she was just a couple of months away from getting married. In it, she said, “For those of you who don’t know, ‘The Grand’ isn’t a website, it’s a famhold . . . ” There is nothing that makes me more nostalgic for the famhold than this time of year—cold weather always triggers fond memories of the Lord of the Rings movies that were so much a part of our vernacular, and putting up the Christmas decorations, especially because I still live in the house, always recalls the year we prayed that we would have one more year together as roommates.

I have been writing in this space—first with the roommates, and later, just me—for close to nine years, which is a long time. And yet, in this case, the Grand isn’t the famhold or even the house; it’s a blog. And that, just by itself, doesn’t seem as weighty.

So with that said, I am nothing but thrilled to say that Jason built me a new site. And it looks really great—so great that I am a little intimidated to start writing there (but excited at the same time). Update your RSS feeds, your blog rolls, your hearts, and find me at Walk a Little Differently (read about the new name here).

December Photo Project

Posted in BloggingDecember Photo Project

December Photo Project 2012

I am so excited about the December Photo Project this year. It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year for the blog—the promise of a post every day. I’m particularly giddy this year, though, because if all goes well, I’ll be posting at a new blog home. (Jason’s working hard to get things up and running, and I’m loving what I’ve seen so far.)

So, yeah, the new blog is a combination of a wild hare and an idea that’s been brewing for quite a while. I’m not promising a radical change—I’ll still be me, writing and photographing and thinking out loud as I do—but I am definitely looking forward to kicking around and finding inspiration in a new space. More to come . . .

Look with Your Eyes Time

Posted in BloggingIan CliffordLife @ The GrandParentingPhotography


“Mommy? Mommy? Can you do this with me? Mommy?”

He was so sweet about it—pushed up to the kids’ table, short legs crossed at the ankle and swinging above the ground, hands folded and elbows resting on the table, waiting for Mommy to play puzzles. And my whole heart said, Yes! Of course! I can sit down with my puzzle-loving second-born and put together a 24-piece picture of planes and buses and boats.

Plus, he was not only politely asking and patiently waiting, he was also looking completely heart-meltingly precious, lit from behind by the morning streaming in the windows to the south and east, blond curls catching the sun, fever-induced watery eyes reflecting light back at me as he raised his eyebrows to ask if I was coming soon.

I was fully intending to play with him; in fact, I was on my way. But I didn’t say so out loud. Instead, I looked away and reached first for my camera. It probably took less than five seconds, but I turned back around to find him with his head down, sighing quietly, and looking sadly defeated (and all the more adorable for it). He peeked his head up long enough to mournfully say, “No pictures.”

“You want me to put the camera down?”

“And do puzzles.”

I can see his point, of course, but I’m torn. Sometimes I pick up the camera for selfish reasons (there really is something relaxing about it; five or six shutter clicks are usually enough to get me on the road to climbing out of a funk), and sometimes it is easier to document than to participate. Worst of all, sometimes I am thinking more about how I will write about this or that than I am about being present while said this or that is happening. The other day, for example, the day I was taking pictures once every hour for a blog entry, Simon wanted to show me something, and I said, “Wait, let me get the camera,” but he adamantly corrected me: “No, Mom! This is a looking just with your eyes time.” In those times, yes, it is right for my kids to call me out of elsewhere-land and into right now, real relationship with them, and I’m thankful when they do.

But there are other times that I pick up the camera because I am suddenly aware of how utterly helpless I am to stop the passage of time, and I think a visual cue might one day help me remember. What I really want to do is memorize him just as he is at two (and a half!)—the way his little cheek feels pressed against mine when he says, “I wuv you, Mommy, wiff all mine haught”; the way his sweaty head smells when he wakes up from a nap; the ring of excitement in his voice when we play “I Spy” and the fact that his first question is always, always, “Is it inside or outside?”; the way he narrows his eyes when he’s working on a puzzle or scrunches up his nose when he smiles for a picture.

In my heart, I know I’ll never remember it all. But I’m here now, so I put down my camera and look hard with my eyes and play puzzles with my kiddo.

Works in Progress

Posted in ArtFriendsIan CliffordLife @ The GrandInspirationsSimon WesleySimon SaysThe Darndest Things

On Thursday, the boys made Welcome Home signs for our newest little friend, Baby Davy. Simon’s picture was of Jake (on the left/bottom), Baby Davy (in the middle), and Joie (on the right) dressed as “injas” [ninjas], hiding under a giant tree.

A work in progress.

I snapped this shot as he was almost finished. He added a few more details and signed his name, and then I took the dictation of what he wanted the sign to say: “Welcome home, Jake and Joie, and especially welcome home, Baby Davy.” (Ian’s sign, which you can see a corner of at the top of this photo, had a similar theme—he loves to be like his big brother—and said, “Welcome home, Baby Davy. Happy having a new baby.” I’m not sure what all ended up in his final draft, but in one version he was drawing multiple circles, and when I asked him what they were, he gleefully explained, “I’m making Baby Davys!”)

What I found incredibly interesting—besides the fact that drawing a family of ninjas seems like such a quintessentially “boy” thing to do—was that Simon didn’t paint the ninjas from the start. He first painted the people as he normally would (stick figures with giant heads) and then added the ninja costumes later: “Okay, now I have to camouflage Joie.” “Why?” “Remember? They are ninjas!” I love his four-year-old logic.

In other news, I have been quilting again. My friend Kerri came over the other morning to talk quilting, and I have been rather obsessively reading about quilts (specifically about modern quilts), thinking about quilts, and, yes, even working on a quilt ever since.

I started this one almost eight years ago, shortly after Jason and I got engaged. The goal, of course, was for it to be done by our wedding. And, yeah, so seven + years later, it’s not done. And, actually, I am kind of glad because I am going to change it up and make it truly unique. I suppose it might be more dramatic to blog about it when it is all finished, but, let’s face it, even though I’m on the quilting kick now, it still might not get done (not trying to be pessimistic, just sayin’), and then even if I do actually finish it, who knows when/if I’ll get around to blogging about it. So I’m doing it now while it’s on my mind.

Someday I will tell the story of how my friend Erin and her mom, Judy, taught me to quilt. It’s definitely been a stable interest/desire of mine to keep quilting, but I generally lack time and gumption to actually do, rather than just dream. Also, I love to start projects; this is a well-known fact about me. Following through is harder.

So this particular quilt, my unfinished wedding quilt, was intended to be a Double Irish Chain. I have all the blocks made (81 of them, in fact), and all that was really left was to sew them together to create the top. But as I’ve been inspired by more modern quilts, I started thinking about how I could make these traditional blocks into something a little more reflective of my current tastes. I also wanted to come up with something that had meaning for our family, something that was unique to us. The result ended up being a collaboration with Jason, which in itself adds meaning. We played with a couple of different layouts, but this was the one that I was most pleased with.

Quilting again

The two crosses at the top represent Jason and me, and the three across the lower half represent the kids. I really like all the negative space, but, good grief, quilting math is hard, and I won’t be sure I got it all right until I sew it all up. I’ll also need to add a border (or three) of the neutral fabric to make it bed-quilt size. I haven’t planned the back exactly yet, but I do have 41 minus 13 of the darker squares and 40 minus 12 of the lighter squares plus many dark and medium would-have-been-border strips and various measures of the neutral fabric. I’m thinking I will do a nod to the traditional layout of the double chain but also incorporate some modern elements. It’s a work in progress for sure.

Scaring Sqooowuhs

Posted in Cruel WorldIan CliffordLife @ The GrandSimon WesleySimon SaysThe Darndest Things


Ever since “A” week at his preschool, Simon has taken a special interest in acorns (we collected a few to take for Show and Tell that Monday). A few days ago, he found that a couple of his treasures had cracked open a bit, and he wondered if maybe that meant they were ready to grow. So to test his hypothesis (thank you, Dinosaur Train), he and Jason (with Ian tagging along, if I remember correctly) headed out to plant the seeds.

The next day as we were shuffling kids out the door and into the van to get to church, Jason and Simon took a quick detour to water the acorns. As Simon headed back toward me and climbed into his carseat, I could tell something was wrong.

“Did you water your acorns, buddy?”


“Why not?”

“They were dug up. The sqwooowuhs [squirrels] stole them.”

(And I just have to pause here a moment to laugh at how quick my temper flared and how incensed I was at those darn squirrels. What right did they have? Those were NOT! THEIR! NUTS! A fierce and swift mother love is triggered at the slightest injustice—perceived or actual—done to my child).

“Well, silly squirrels. How do you think they knew they were even there?”

He paused just long enough for me to know that he was really considering the question, and said, “Well, maybe they hear-ed me and Daddy talking yesterday when we planted them. . . . Or maybe they smelled them.”

“Well, shoot, buddy. That’s disappointing, huh?”

And I thought that was probably the end of it.

[A few minutes later, from the back of the van] “Mommy? I think we can build a remote control robot, and then from inside the house you can just push a few buttons and the robot will make a really loud noise to scare the sqwooowuhs: a Real Dinosaur Roar!”

Jason and I laughed and told him that sounded like a good idea and that maybe he could invent that kind of remote control robot. Then Simon and Ian happily spent the rest of the ride to church plotting their revenge on the poor squirrels with ever-more-imaginative devices. By the time we arrived, they had thought up some kind of remote control (of course) knight/volcano that runs on “gas and water and pizza, but not fuel” and that swings its sword at the squirrels and pours hot lava out of its mouth.

I think the real takeaway here is that I have a lot to learn about boys.

Renae Morehead

My name is Renae, and The Grand is where I keep thoughts, observations, and photos from my life.


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