Adventures with Ayda


I needed desperately to squeeze those chunky legs, to hear that melodic laugh and to hold that tiny hand in mine.  It was time.  Nana had to see Ayda.  I made the arrangements with my eldest and drove through rain most of the day to arrive at the pre-determined meeting place.

After a late lunch, we transferred her belongings to my car and headed north.  She is only four so I was a tiny bit nervous that she would get upset when we pulled out of the parking lot, but she just said, “I’ll miss mommy and daddy” and that was that.  We chatted about pre-school and recent birthday parties and Christmas.  “Ayda, do you see the leaves?  Do you know about the fall season?” I asked.  She answered in what I thought was somewhat condescending tone and said, “Nana, are you talking about autumn, when the leaves turn beautiful colors like yellow and orange and brown and fall from the trees?”   Yes, my dear.  Yes, I was.

In a couple of hours, we were pulling into a hotel driveway, ready to stop for the night as our destination was Pigeon Forge, TN.  We were going to visit relatives and she was excited to get to spend time with some of her younger cousins.  She wasn’t sure about this whole idea of staying in a “cabin” though.  For some reason she thought all cabins were inferior dwellings.  As we passed barns and falling down sheds, she would ask, “Nana, is it a cabin like that?”  I assured her that it certainly was not and that she would be pleasantly surprised.

Nana forgot how time consuming it was to unfasten a car set, put shoes back on and wait for little slowpoke to crawl out of the back of my Mustang.  After we checked in, I realized that with my bag, her bag, her toy bag, her snack bag, her electronic game and dinner we had picked up, I was going to need a cart.  I grabbed one, loaded it and sat her on top of my bag before realizing I had to do something with my car.  After arranging the cart inside and loading her back into the car seat, I found a parking place and we were ready to go upstairs.

Pushing the cart was akin to maneuvering a side-ways driving Walmart shopping cart filled with groceries.  I finally managed to get it to the elevator without taking some drywall with me.  Ayda spotted the “fire sign” and wanted me to tell her what it said.  I read, “In case of fire do not use the elevator”.  Way to go, Nana.  Little did I know that every time we used an elevator for the rest of our journey she would ask quite anxiously if I was sure there wasn’t a fire and explain that maybe we shouldn’t ride the elevator.    Thankfully, a nice young man helped me get the cart onto the elevator and even got off at our floor and pulled it out for us.  I think he discerned that Nana was exhausted and I was sincerely grateful for his kindness.

Finally, it was bedtime and Ayda and I lay in the darkness, the only light emanating from her Nabi which is NOT a computer, Nana.  It’s an electronic game that also has episodes of some of her favorite shows.  I wasn’t going to argue with her about watching one on our first night together, far from home.  We talked about our plans and said prayers and she was out like a light.


I decided the next morning to let her sleep in; partly because she needed it and partly because I love to watch her sleep, with her little brown tendrils floating across the pillow.  Before long her eyes opened wide and the first words out of her mouth were, “Why is that light on?”  You waked me in the dark and you are supposed to wake me in the light?”  I quickly rose from the chair I was perched on and opened the light blocking curtains.  She grinned when she saw that it really was daytime and then she snuggled in my lap while her little body finished waking up.

I dressed her and brushed her long curls carefully and reacquainted myself with pig tails and bows.  We went down to the continental breakfast in the hotel lobby where Ayda picked a muffin.  I looked up to see her with a horrible expression, somewhere between tears and disgust and discovered that said muffin had hidden berries.  I assured her she could spit them out and I got up to make a waffle for her instead.  The waffle was acceptable and I sat there and enjoyed my coffee, the grinning recipient of the “She is so precious” and like compliments, like grandma’s do.


We arrived at the cabin later in the day and she was thoroughly impressed, as was I.  There were stuffed bears and toys and snacks and a bunk-bed and the promise of soon-to-arrive children.  We enjoyed the time with family and I enjoyed time with her out and about in Pigeon Forge and through the Great Smokey Mountains.  She loved being with family and was not happy on Saturday, when it was time to go.


We travelled home towards South FL, because Papa had been unable to join us due to work and he was dying to see her, as were others in the family. We took a little longer route to go through the Smokies and stopped several times to pick up leaves and get pictures.  We stopped for ice cream in Cherokee and picked up taffy, pecan logs and a coloring book near the GA/FL line.  I have never seen a 4 year old travel so well.  She never complained; she sang, made me tell her stories about Jesus and played.  Every once in a while she would ask, “How much longer til Papa?”  Every once in a while, I would reach back to squeeze her leg and she would grab my hand and hold it for a few minutes.  Oh, the feeling of that little hand securely snug in my own!

After a week with Nana and Papa, assisted by Aunt Dee, since Nana had to work, we made the journey back to meet her mommy.  We stayed in another hotel and the next morning we found a pumpkin patch with a maze and then met mommy at a beautiful state park.


As my daughter strapped her in the car seat, she said, “I’ll miss you Nana”.  I told her not to cry and that it wasn’t goodbye just see you later.  I got in my quiet car, tears welling up in my eyes and my heart aching with missing her already.  With a song of praise and a prayer I encouraged myself and headed south alone, thankful for the precious time with her.

The brightest child ever

Today I am missing my little granddaughter, so I am doing what cold, lonely, forsaken (just kidding except for the cold part) grandmothers do who live 848 miles away when they can’t squeeze their little angels.  I am pining over old photographs and videos.  They aren’t really “old” considering my one and only grandchild isn’t even four yet, but you get the point.

As much as I loathe technology at times (very few times), now isn’t one of them.  For those of us who don’t live close to our kids, aren’t we blessed to have Skype, Facebook and other social media to share the milestones? When my son in law was in Afghanistan, he was able to “watch” Christmas and other events to an extent.  I’m honestly not sure if that made him feel better or worse, but at least he could see his wife and daughter in real time.

Just today I was considering how different things were when mine were small.  Of course, we had telephone and videos if you had a big, clunky video camera and a way to play the tapes (I’m not that ancient), but things weren’t nearly as “instant”.  I remember my aunt and uncle living a few hundred miles away and they would have my young cousin talk or sing into a cassette tape recorder and send to my grandparents.  We would all gather round’ to hear his sweet little voice and then deem him the brightest child ever!

The video I’ve shared above also stars the “brightest child ever”, my darling, my angel, my Ayda.  I hope you enjoy as she tries to figure out if she likes the fur on the stuffed animals.  We laughed over how they made her “shiver”.

This one shows her silly faces as she sings along to the “goodbye song” from Yo Gabba Gabba, which I hope I never have to watch again for as long as I live, but I would for her 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy




The photo challenge this week was to capture “joy”.  There are many photos I could use, but the look in my granddaughter’s eyes said it all.  She loves cake!

Peeling trees

Bananas on a banana tree. Personnal photo, fre...

Bananas on a banana tree. Personnal photo, free licence (see below). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My younger brother and sister bounded into the yellow house, excitement on their faces, along with dirt from their long day at play.   My sister, with the bulk of her auburn curls trapped in pigtails fastened with yarn and sporting a splash of cinnamon freckles across her nose, was the first to speak.  “Oh, Granny, guess what we did for Poppy?  He is going to be so happy!”  My brother was standing right beside my sister, which is where you often found him.  He was smiling too, a smile full of a sense of pride and accomplishment for his part in this good deed.  They both had some kind of juice and goo that smelled like banana all over them, enough where if we had been at home, mom would have escorted them quickly to the bathtub.  Not Granny though; that kind of thing didn’t faze her.

Granny smiled that kind of smile that grandmothers smile and animatedly asked, “Well sugar, what did you do?”  She had that way of speaking to you that always made you feel good; never a glimmer of frustration or impatience to be heard.  Her voice and tone felt like a warm hug.

“We peeled Poppy’s banana trees!  Granny we stripped every piece of the brown off and made them all nice and pretty!”

Now, before I go any farther, let me say that Poppy loved to garden and he loved his banana trees.  Looking back, I think working in the soil was relaxing for him after his long day as a fishing guide.  He liked to see the fruits of his labor and share them and he was very particular in the way the way he attended his plants.

The look on Granny’s face after their announcement went from perfectly peaceful to a bit concerned. I, being a little older and wiser knew the look and the once uneventful day looked suddenly as if it promised some excitement. She took their dirty little, banana gooey hands as they led her outside to survey the beauty of the project. I trailed along behind them anxious to inspect the ruins, and sadly, but honestly probably enjoying the possibility of the impending drama a little too much.

The trees were peeled alright, there was barely anything left.  Now, granted you are supposed to peel off the dead yellow leaves, which in their defense, they had probably watched Poppy do.

Granny elected not to share with them at that time, the trouble they were in.  Knowing her, I bet she wanted them to enjoy their excitement for as long as possible, while she prayed and figured out how to calm the storm she knew to be looming on the horizon.

I knew two things; one being that Pop was not going to be happy and two being that granny didn’t let anyone and I mean anyone mess with her grandbabies.  So, now to sit back and watch and wait for the Dixie to dock, and Pop to head home, all of which we could see from Granny’s front yard.

Pop got home and I waited.  They hurried up to him excitedly begging him to “Come look what we did for you!”  Poppy would make this snorting sound when he didn’t really want to participate in something, but when it came to his grandkids, he would usually relent anyway and this time wasn’t any different.

But when he saw his precious trees, he quickly lost his temper.  This was before Poppy had a sanctified vocabulary, so we heard some choice words.  He then described what was going to happen to their little derrieres.  Their joyful little faces quickly turned into blubbering, dirty little, banana goo messes and we all ran as fast as our little feet would carry us into the house and they jumped straight into Granny’s lap.  By this time, I was no longer looking forward to any action; I had softened and started to feel sorry for them, as I watched tears dampen their dirty little cheeks.

As Poppy angrily lamented what he thought would be the end of his poor trees and advised Granny as to whose hides were getting tanned, Granny got that wet mother hen look in her eye.  She made it a point to call them “the babies” and reminded him they were only trying to help.   She said very matter-of-factly that no one would be getting spankings on her watch.  Poppy snorted and shuffled back outside and that was the end of that.  I could have sworn I heard Granny giggle.

Before the end of the night, Granny had calmed Poppy and they were both chuckling about the peeled trees.  To this day, we still mention it with a smile; one of those things that for a few moments completely stole our peace and filled us with fear turned into one of those funny moments our family has laughed about for years.


Nana and Ayda playing patty cake

Nana and Ayda playing patty cake

“I luff you Nana”, she said.  Now, I’m not entirely sure if she meant those words this particular time from the bottom of her nearly three year old heart, or if it was the overwhelming gratitude she felt at my latest promise.  I had just said, “Nana will send you the Peter Pan movie”.

For anyone who has the immense, incomparable pleasure of being a grandparent, it really doesn’t matter why they said it.  It melts your heart, liquefies it right into a puddle of love.  Those four little words make you feel like the most important person on earth.  They are coveted words and not always shared so freely by our independent little cherubs.

Before we were blessed with Ayda, I remember other grandparents and their endless pictures and chatter about their precious little ones, the most brilliant little people ever conceived.  I thought I understood.  I didn’t.  Not even close.

I was there when she was born.  After my nervousness for the safety and health of my eldest throughout the process, I was blissful to see the little dark haired head make its entry on the scene.  The thrill of her first cries upon encountering this big, bright world overwhelmed me.

I remember my first trip back out to California after they had been to visit for an extended period.  Her daddy had been in Afghanistan serving his country, so they stayed with us during his tour of duty.  She wasn’t very old and it had been a few months since I’d seen her.

My daughter picked me up from the LA airport, in the early evening and we enjoyed catching up on the drive back to Temecula.  Ayda was playing at a friend’s house and we stopped by there to pick her up.  She sat in her car seat and jabbered all the way home.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her but I wasn’t sure she would welcome being held.

I will never forget getting out of the car at their apartment and her little arms reaching out for me, just like those months between visits had never passed.  And oh, the feeling when those chubby little arms hugged me ever so tightly.  I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it.  She remembered!

Am I smitten?  Totally!  In love with her?  Absolutely!  And don’t even begin to think you can understand, unless you’re one of the proud, the elite, the grandparents!!

Mitch Teemley

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