The soul is healed

Grady with "Uncle" Paul at Turner Field, Atlanta, August 16, 2014

Grady with “Uncle” Paul at Turner Field, Atlanta, August 16, 2014

“The soul is healed by being with children.”Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”Carl Sandburg

What a difference one short year makes in the life of a baby!  When I compare the photo above to the one posted one year ago today, which was taken less than a year earlier than this one, it amazes me how much growth happens so quickly.

For more than a year now, Grady has been shining brightly among our reasons not to give up hope.  Whether he’s feeling pensive, happy, funny, grouchy or rowdy, he is always interesting to be with.  We are so thankful for his healing presence!

Who are your favorite children?  Whoever and wherever they are, I hope you are able to spend as much time as possible with them.  They heal the soul in unique ways, and remind us that no matter what happens, life does go on.

One year ago today:

The simplest toy


  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    They are (in birth order): Jacob Henry, Katherine Ann, Jackson Twenty (actually his middle name is Alwyn), and Everett Ryan.
    The Lord willing, Sherry and I are to attend Jacob’s eleventh birthday celebration, toward the end of this month.
    Pure Joy!

    • Wow, I never knew Jackson Twenty’s real middle name! (In case anybody else is reading this, Jackson’s big brother Jacob, who was very young when Jackson was born, suggested “Twenty” would be a good middle name for a boy named Jackson. Makes sense to me!) It’s hard to believe Jacob is going to be eleven this year. Has he started building a life-size drivable Lego car yet? 😀 He might be able to finish it in time for his driver’s license in a few years. Your grand kids are all adorable.

  2. bobmielke

    For so many years I was a professional people photographer. I learned how to shoot kids the fun way, by working in my church’s 2 year old nursery. What a learning experience that was! Now I capture small kids at the zoo or in public places. Times have changed and I must be cautious with a paranoid, skeptical public watching anyone pointing a camera at them or their kids. Still, I love kids and refuse to stop capturing their energy, their unpredictable behavior that makes us all laugh because we were once young and unpredictable too. 🙂

    • Bob, I’ve read other professional photographers saying how sad it is that so much caution must be used when photographing children nowadays. It certainly takes away the spontaneity because the candid photos are always more appealing (at least to me) than the posed, studio-style pictures. Way back in 1975, my photography professor taught me that the best shots are always the unplanned ones, and his photos of our wedding proved that. The best ones were taken during the reception while everyone was milling around and having fun. That’s the great thing about little kids; you can get lots of those type of photos. I can imagine that working in the 2 year old nursery was a learning experience for you in many ways! But a fun one, as you say. Unpredictable is an understatement!

      • bobmielke

        I used to frequent a photographic forum based in Great Britain. There used to be arguments when ever I posted candid children photos. You see, in Great Britain its against their law to do so. Here in the United States I could photograph kids and sell them to porn sites and remain legal, if I desired to do so, under the freedom of speech laws here. If the parents don’t want their kids taken I don’t keep them but erase them immediately. The issue of mistrust will always be there, unfortunately.

        • Bob, just last week I read on Wikimedia Commons about the laws of various countries, and I was surprised that several countries make it illegal to even take a photo of a person without their express permission — written, I assume. Even if it’s not published! That seems kind of over the top, but I suppose there are reasons for it. I believe some people — the Amish come to mind — do not like to be photographed at all, and some cultural traditions preclude being photographed at certain times, such as recent bereavement. And with all the photo editing software out there, the potential for abuse of a perfectly lovely photo is ever-present. So I do understand it, although it’s sad. Was it Andy Warhol who said that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes? That time is apparently here, or nearly so, with all the images that go viral online.

          • bobmielke

            Not everyone is familiar with the laws in other countries. We can get in trouble by assuming our freedoms extend to other lands. I had to explain to the British about our laws. They were aghast at the freedom as they were accustomed to the strict regulation placed on photographs there. Our laws were alien to them.

            • It really is eye-opening to talk with people from other countries, isn’t it? In library school, there were students from China and other countries who told us that in their countries, public library shelves are not open for all to browse; rather, one goes into the library and asks the staff for information on a stated topic, and the librarians select the books to provide to them. I found this interesting, and needless to say, it made me all the more grateful for what we have here. This was 20 years ago so things may have changed, but as you say, our practices were different from what they had always known. There were some interesting discussions about censorship in that class, as opposition to censorship is part of the librarian’s code of professional ethics, at least in this country.

    • Although I’ve never before heard someone say “how to shoot kids the fun way,” I know just what you mean. When my kids were small, I was a single parent going to school, and we lived in the best neighborhood we could afford. At that time, it was common for film development services to give you “double prints,” so whenever I had photos of the neighbor kids that were playing with mine, I’d give them a copy. At one point, I attended an open house at the kids’ school, for which my daughter had been asked to “bring in a photo”of herself for a project. When I arrived, I was surprised and somewhat humbled to see three or four other kids photos were also pictures that I had taken! After that, it became a kind of ministry for me, to get pictures of kids to them. For some kids, their parents don’t take many photos, so it’s kind of special to be the subject of a nice photograph.
      “But I digress….” 🙂
      As noted, one has to be more careful nowadays.

      • Susan, one year when I was room mother for one of my sons (I think it was Matt but I don’t remember for sure) I arranged to take photos of the kids, four to a photo, which I then cut up into mini-portraits, and let them make laminated bookmarks featuring their photo for their parents at Christmas. It was more fun that way than using the school portraits that they already had copies of. The parents seemed to love it!

        • P.S. I didn’t even notice that “how to shoot kids the fun way.” Good thing Bob isn’t a politician, he’d be issuing some sort of ghost-written apology statement anytime now!

      • bobmielke

        I got involved in professional wedding/family photography decades ago because young couples couldn’t afford a wedding photographer. In the case of the poorest couple I shot 3 rolls of color slide film and gave them the finished slides as a wedding gift. The rest, as they say, is history. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Jack

    I recognize that look. When I was 1, I still smiled about the Braves in August too. Now, they’re no laughing matter.

    What a beautiful child!

    • Thank you Jack. Re: the Braves, I keep telling everyone that their karma is coming to get them because they are selling out and moving to Cobb County and leaving behind the venerable site of the old Fulton County Stadium “Launching Pad.” Turner Field was overpriced, but at least it was built at the same site, the true “home of the Braves.” Somehow it won’t surprise me if this move to the north side of town backfires on them big time. Of course, it’s the owners, not the players, who are to blame.

  4. Look out world, here comes Grady! 🙂

    • Yes, he’s ready to go out and do most everything he can. I wish we could see him more often, but we get the videos and photos, so that helps.

  5. Look at that little wonder, what a cute face, HA. He’s already got his own team t-shirt too. Way to be a fan Grady! He’s a widdle blondie like his Mema, was his daddy blonde as a youngster? I imagine little Mr Grady is the light of your day when you get to spend time together. Does he have a southern accent too? I tried to think of who might have little ones now. All my friends kids are in their early 20’s now, and none have started families yet. There is a gal who does classes for Urban Scrapbook. Karen is so nice and her young twin boys have just begun play school. Their first day, they stopped at the store. They walked in the door and both *yelled* at the same time, “we’re going to school today ! ! !”. OMgosh, they were bouncing of the walls and so excited. I laughed at their exuberance, it was so over the top. I want to be that excited about life! xoK

    • Yes, kids have a lot to teach us about how to live life with zest. I love to see kids on the first day of school! Jeff had dark hair all his life, judging by the photos. Drew was a blond most of his life and Megan has blondish-red hair, so Grady gets his hair color from both sides. You notice even his “Uncle” Paul (who really is not a blood relative) has blond hair too. Megan’s Mom still has naturally light hair, though her Dad has dark hair. Grady brightens our days even when we can’t be with him. I binge-watch his videos when I’m feeling blue. Works even better than digging into the cookies. 😀

  6. HarryS

    I’ll bet you a pretty he saw Homer.

    • I bet he did too, if Homer is still around. I think the PC cops may have gotten him banned as being an offensive stereotype. Megan said that Grady mostly wanted to push his empty stroller around the stadium. He found that more interesting than the game. Given how the Braves are doing, that’s understandable.

  7. Megan

    Grady seems to say, “Uncle Paul! I didn’t know YOU would be at the Braves game!” CUTE!!

    • Or as Beth said on FB, he might be thinking,”Dude, your glasses are on backwards.” 😀 Which is exactly what I think whenever I see someone wearing them that way.

  8. MaryAnn

    What a marvelous look on Grady’s face! He is ready to take on whatever comes his way, plus he is able to create joy, happiness, frivolity, conviviality & the list continues!
    The next generation Braves fan, I see!
    As you know, Julia, children are of utmost importance to me. Aaric, our youngest grandchild, who will be 13 tomorrow; is currently staying w/us while his mom is out-of-town.
    What a special joy to be the “homework police”, get him to school & spend lots of time together! Adds such joy to our household!
    Right now, I must hurry to help Michael, the 2 yr. old boy, who is being adopted. I will be his “wind-up toy” this morning, like you are for Grady!

    • Mary Ann, what a win-win situation for you and your kids. Jeff and I would have loved to have someone to keep ours from time to time so we could have some time together, just the two of us. But that’s never really happened, and I’m working on processing my resentment about that…Meanwhile, I am so happy you are keeping Aaric and also that you get to see your grandchildren often. It would be so sad if the grandkids of the legendary Momba were not able to make the most of the good fortune of having you for a Grandmother!

      • MaryAnn

        Your encouragement fills my heart to overflowing! As Scripture says:
        “my cup runneth over” KJV ;
        “my cup brims with blessing” The Message.

        • Thank you Mary Ann! It’s been a long hard day (and week) so your cheery thoughts bring me comfort tonight. We are all OK, just having lots of complications with various home maintenance/remodeling projects that we have put off for way too long. I keep telling Jeff, “Now we know why we put this stuff off for so long!” 😀

  9. In my teaching I’ve taught gifted and challenged students. It has been my experience, for the most part, that those who has less give more.
    As the poor woman in the New Testament passage, who gave her last pennies in paying her tax. Jesus said, this women has sacrificed more than any rich person who gave according to his means, because she gave the last she possessed.

    • Alan, I agree. I experienced a similar dynamic when I used to attend classes with a friend from church, who taught women at the (maximum security) jail in the city. The women who came to the class were not required to go — in fact, it was a privilege that they were allowed to attend — so all were there because they wanted to be there. I loved the fellowship of these classes because these women were totally real; all the superficial talk that we use to keep people at distance was nonexistent there. They had all their privacy and possessions stripped away, and basically all they had left was just themselves. It sounds corny but they were wonderfully humble and a joy to be with, always thanking us profusely for coming, and praying earnestly with us and for us. This was during a difficult time in my life, and I always left feeling happier and better than when I went in. Out of their poverty and humility they gave freely what they had to give; friendship, honestly, connection.

  10. He is so adorable! 🙂 My favorite children are always going to be our kids, Josh and Grace.

    • Thank you! Grandchildren are like the recent quote I featured about dogs…everyone has the best!

  11. Julia, it really seems as though “Baby Grady” has suddenly grown up. I love that expression, almost like he’s anticipating what he will do next. 🙂 There’s no doubt that he’s smart AND precious. I just watched a video on about an obstetrician that sings “Happy Birthday” to the new baby after each delivery. Well, I have six favorites that are near and dear to me….BEAHAG. Haha! That’s Brighton, Emmaleigh, Alston, Hewitt, Autumn, and Grayson. I so hope you’re having a good day. Love, Sheila

    • How adorable that a doctor sings “Happy Birthday” to the babies! That acronym is something else. It would make a great mnemonic if your grandchildren’s names are every a test question. I’ll see if I can memorize them. I already know Jack and Walter 😀 . Grady surely is growing up fast. He “talks” (the babble type of talking) quite a lot now. Megan says that his latest word is “squirrel.” Since that just makes word #6 for him (the others are Mama, Dada, hello and “all done”) I think that’s pretty good. Megan says it comes out sounding more like “skwill” but he says it in contexts where there’s no mistaking that is what he is trying to say. I hope we get to see him again soon.

      • What fun to read these comments about our ” lifelines” , our blessings! We have friends of the family that have a son that is the second or II and he is “Deuce” I’ve always thought was so fitting for a junior. 🙂

        • “Deuce” is perfect! I’ve never heard it, though I have known many who wanted to avoid being called “Junior.” No offense to him but I think Deuce would be a great name for a dog, too! Of course since I love dogs, you realize that is a compliment.

  12. Dorothy

    Dear Julia, how true about children lifting ones spirits. My husband has stage IV cancer and like Jeff is very stoic, very rarely complains and is always trying new treatments. At present he is well. Dexter, our grandson, is two now, a year older than Grady, and is a great source of delight to us both. He loves playing with “pop” and the first thing he says after giving me a hug is “where’s pop?” Children give meaning to the future and our own are so special. I hope you’re all doing well at the moment.

    • Dorothy, we are doing pretty well, trying to catch up with all that has piled up during the hectic and/or exhausting times of the past 2 years. I said awhile back that Grady would be better for Jeff than any chemo treatment, and I bet Dexter is also therapeutic for his Pop. What a blessing for us, to have these cute children to cheer us at such a time.

  13. Aw…Grady is so cute! And that grin? He’s gonna be a heartbreaker that one! 😉
    My favorite kids are grown up now but they’ll always be my babies!

    • Denise, I know what you mean. I feel the same way (about everything you said). 😀

  14. It’s been a joy to live in a neighborhood with so many children. My boys are teenagers now, but will remain ‘boys’ forever, at least in my heart. I’m lucky, too, to have an in-house daycare next door. The little ones come play on our ramp and deck and they also frequent our library. Even our Halloween decorations encourage little ones to stop. I love the wonder and the magic in their eyes, and remember when my boys were that young.

    Your little darling, above, is truly a gift. So happy for all of you. xoxo

    • Thank you, Alys! I just know the kids in your neighborhood love your decorations. They will probably talk about them years from now when they are grown (“There used to be this cool lady who made these totally awesome costumes for her pumpkins…”) Jeff, Matt and I love Halloween in our Alexandria neighborhood. It’s one time of year when living in a townhome complex is an advantage, since it’s easier on everyone and lots more kids are out and about. We have some adorable neighbors, and it takes some of the sting out of missing our grandson.

      • Nice, Julia. That sounds like a lot of fun.

        Thanks for your words of encouragement. It’s nice to do things that make a difference for others, even if it’s simply a happy memory.

        • I feel so much gratitude for my neighbors who take the time to decorate their homes for the holidays. If I happen to see them outside, I’ll tell them, but many of them probably have no idea how much I enjoy their efforts. I imagine it’s the same with your neighbors.

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