As a child, some of my fondest memories are of our trips to my grandparents house in Tucson. My sister and I traveled there several times per year, and for six weeks every summer. It was our second home. A home which we were spoiled rotten. This was very different from our regular home lives. Hardworking Dad working two jobs to make ends meet. Stay at home Mom, raising four children. We lived modestly and loved every minute of it.
When we went to Tucson, we were their only grandchildren, and we were definitely treated like the most important people on Earth. My Grandmother, being Mexican, and a magnificent cook, would prepare each meal, whatever we wanted it to be, with care and love. They were never anything short of perfect. My Grandfather, being an extremely hard-working and proud family man, would plan at least one big and memorable trip for us to take each Summer. These trips included, Disneyland multiple times, yearly trips to San Diego, an excursion through Canada, Hawaii, a cruise through Alaska, and several small trips to Nogales, Mexico, where much of our family lived. We were experiencing so much of the world and so many different cultures at such a young age, and we didn’t even realize it. While many of our friends were off at summer camp, we were tasting escargot, visiting secret waterfalls, and learning how to make colitas.
With all of these fantastic childhood memories and experiences, the ones that I remember the most and hold the closest to my heart are the songs my Grandmother would sing while in the kitchen, and the stories my Grandfather would tell after dinner and before bedtime. They both lives such incredible lives. My Grandfather overcame so many struggles, losing his father at a very young age and enlisting in the Army to support his mother and his two sisters. He was able to attend The University of Arizona through the military, which is where he met my Grandmother. Their love story is one I will cherish for the rest of my life and look forward to passing down to my own children.
My Grandmother was also quite the story teller. Her stories were straight from her creative imagination, but we thought they were all true. She would tell us about Paloma, the magnificent flying white horse, who would protect us while we were visiting and missed us deeply when we were away. And of these two little girls, right about our age, who would try to disguise themselves as the two of us and sneak in to our Grandparents’ home to play with all of our toys when we were away. We loved these stories and talked about them often.
There was never much television on these trips. There was always conversations though. We laughed together, played La Loteria (Mexican Bingo), sang songs, read books and told stories. To this day, I love listening to the audio recordings my Grandfather would take of our car rides. My sister and I, with our high pitched voices, singing at the tops of our lungs. Sometimes it feels like yesterday.
I also attended The University of Arizona, following in the footsteps of two of the most inspirational people I know. These stories and books must have helped me to decide my career path, since my degree was in Journalism. I used this after college doing marketing as well as writing press releases and editing for my previous company.
The person that I am today, I attribute to my Grandparents. Their guidance, morals and family values brought me to my current position. Today, my job title is “Mom”, although we all know there is much more to it than that. I am also, wife, blogger, cook, organizer, boo boo healer, baby food maker, story teller, singer and much more, depending on the day of the week.
As a mother, I now know the importance of talking, reading and singing to my children. A child’s brain is developing very rapidly in their first five years of life. According to First 5 California, it actually develops 90% by the age of five. It is up to us as parents to ensure a healthy development that will begin a successful life and future. Reading, talking and singing is a great way to ensure this. My children are three years old and 9 months old, and we make it a point to sit down at the dinner table everyday and talk about our day. Kolton loves telling us about his friends and his favorite toys and what games he played at preschool. Shayne hangs onto every word her big brother says and it is so adorable!
I have never liked the sound of my singing voice, and spent most of my life being very self-conscious of it. Now that I am a mother, none of that matters. My children think I have the most amazing voice in the world, just as I felt about my Grandmother. I sing songs they know, songs they don’t know, and songs that are not even real. Anything to make them smile, or to help them fall asleep. I also really value our story times. Whether it be from books, or from my imagination, they love to hear them.
Shayne already looks forward to reading books before bed. Her eyes light up at the pictures, and she stares at my mouth when I read the words. For some great ideas and resources, it is a great idea to check out the First 5 California Activity Page for fun baby activities with scarves, music and obstacle courses.
Kolton looks forward to our bedtime stories every night. I let him pick out two books before bed, although he usually picks out the same two every time, he reads with me through memorization and talks about the details on each page. When I am unable to tuck him in, I LOVE listening to my husband tell him stories of his childhood growing up on a lake in Michigan. Kolton gets really into them and will talk about them for days. First 5 California also has some great activity ideas for preschool age children, including homemade bubbles and Playdoh parties!
My grandmother was, and still is, a magnificent woman! Over the years, the more I have learned about her, the more amazed and proud I am of being her kin. Her stories went from magnificent fables to real-life, historical tales of our ancestors as well as her own life events. I only wish I could have heard similar tales from my Grandfather before his passing. I was still a child when traveled to Heaven, and I feel as though I still have a lot I could have learned from him. One day, I hope that my children, and my children’s children can say the same for myself and my husband. For now, my children are so very blessed to have their Great-Grandmother still in their lives. Although she can no longer do all of the things for them that she did for my sister and I, she is still able to read them stories, speak to them in Spanish, and give them all of the love they deserve.
Thank you for letting me share some of my special childhood memories with you. The simple bonding act of reading, singing and talking to our children is far more important than many know, and is something that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. For more valuable information on the importance of Talk.Read.Sing.® and some fun tools and resources, check out First 5 California. This is a government sponsored program, and promotes children’s early development.
What are some of your favorite childhood memories? Please share in the comments below.