The Good Ol' Days

The older I get, the more I take time to reflect upon my childhood, my upbringing, my home, my loved ones, and my life. The older I get, the younger I wish I was. The older I get, the more I miss loved ones who have taken their place in heaven. The older I get, the more I contemplate God, my purpose on this Earth, and what happens after this life. The older I get, the more excited I am to have my own children and share with them someday a happy, adventurous and loving childhood. I pray that when they're married with children of their own, they'll do as I am doing now and reflect lovingly on the wonderful experiences and memories they cherish. I want nothing more than the pattern to be repeated. I want my family to experience what I did as a child. 

Happiness. Fulfilment. Exploration. Adventure. Encouragement. Determination. Support. Joy. Contentment. Ambition. The-well-deserved-kick-up-the-ass-every-now-and-then. And most importantly, unconditional love.

Today while I sat on the couch sipping a cup of tea enjoying the next episode of Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker (seriously, LOVE this show!) I was suddenly bombarded with WhatsApp messages from my Sister. Wondering if someone had lost a leg, or if she'd just accidentally sat on her phone, I hurried to respond. When I unlocked my phone the first thing I saw was an old picture she'd sent me of my Grandma Cousino and I.
And I cried. I cried because I miss her. I cried because this is one of the very few pictures there are of her. I cried because it was precious. I cried because she looks so happy. I cried because I feel angry and robbed of my time with her. I cried because she was taken away too soon. I cried because I hate Breast Cancer. I cried because I still remember the day she died and sitting on the back porch swing with my Dad as he wept. I cried because she wasn't here to see me turn 16, or graduate High School, or finally have my English cup of tea like we'd always talked about, or Graduate at the top of my class in University, or get engaged or get married. I cried because she'll never meet my children. I cried because I hate that she's not here and she's missed more than she ever deserved to miss.

But then, I smiled. I smiled because I love her so much and this picture shows how much she loved me too. I smiled because I still remember her voice. I smiled because I still know her phone number off the top of my head from when I used to call her every single day as a child. I smiled because I remember the story Mom tells of when Grandma caught me, ass first hanging out of my bedroom window, trying desperately to escape from nap time. I smiled because I remember how she used to let Sonya and I help her make hummingbird food for the feeders and how we'd sit at the kitchen table eating cucumber and butter sandwiches waiting for one to flutter past the window. I smiled because she's the reason I love tea. I smiled because I accredit Grandma with my love of crafts and ability to do them well. I smiled because I know she's watching over my family and I right now and somehow, some way, she's been watching over all of us this whole entire time. 

Mom told me that when Grandma found out she had cancer, she insisted she babysit my sister and I over the next summer vacation. Mom said how she and Dad had tried so hard to talk her out of it because they knew she'd be weak, but Grandma wouldn't have it. She was a stubborn woman and determined to spend that last summer with us. I only found out in conversations as a teen the real reason Grandma insisted so. Mom said she was petrified we wouldn't remember her and kept saying "I don't want them to forget me."

That summer we were spoiled rotten. That summer was my favorite summer of my childhood and there were lots of memories made. Like the time when, at the ages of 8 and 9, my Sister and I decided it was a good idea to drive the lawn mower around the yard, I sat in the back wagon, full of Grandma's flower bed weeds, barking orders at Sonya who was behind the wheel. Mom laughs so hard she cries when she tells that story, and says she can't believe we didn't kill Grandma right there and then with that stunt, as a woman sick with cancer was forced to run frantically across the lawn after us before we hit a tree. Or the time Grandma pushed all of the dining room furniture out of the kitchen so Sonya and I could dump entire buckets of water on the floor and scoot around on wash clothes (I got scolded that day because Sonya pissed me off so bad I thumped her with my wet wash cloth and she went blatting to Grandma. Little turd. Ha) I love that I still remember everything. Just like I remember the endless supply of fudgesicles and swirled ice cream pots she had in the freezer. The beautiful dolls she used to paint, and the day she gave us an antique life sized Barbie who, when you hold her hand, walks right with you. I remember the late afternoons when we'd sit on the back deck and watch the deer come from the woods to lick the salt block. I remember the moose named Betsy she took us up to the mountains to pet (she even bought us a shirt with Betsy on it). I remember the Lisa Frank stationary sets she'd buy us, and the letters I'd write her. I even remember the way she smelled, a comforting sweet musky smell of flowers and mothballs. 

I remember so many things about you Grandma, so don't you worry. I haven't forgotten, and I promise I never ever will. 
In addition to the pictures of Grandma and I, Sonya sent loads more oldies she'd dug up. I sat with tears in my eyes and I very nearly peed my pants with laughter. It was SO fun to look back and chuckle at how much we've all changed. I showed them to Carl and I reminisced about my absolutely wonderful childhood. It was humbling and brought me right back to my little Vermont town and all of the special memories I have there. 

They're so funny, I just had to share them all with you. So, get ready for a blast from the past!
Mom and Dad's High School Prom Picture
Their wedding day

Sonya and Mom (she's SO cute! Haaaha!)
A perfect example of why Sonya lost her pacifier a year early. I even hogged her walker! Haha poor kid! I'm literally sitting on her head!
Mom, I think you should be ARRESTED for my hair cut! I look like a BOY!  However, Sonya's crown of bows is hilarious.

Over at Mr and Mrs. Pawul's house 
Sick little girl - I still have that blanket I'm hugging.  It's lovingly referred to as "Tickle" and my Mother-in-law has tried to throw it in the garbage many a time. Ha She'll never win! I'll have that nasty hole-ridden blanket until the day I die!
Ring Pops and The Little Mermaid!
Sonya thinking she's a little country star.
We have a  home video of this exact moment. It's mine and Sonya's birthday party, and I (being the loud bossy one that I am) am demanding my cousins Kayla and Andrew sing Happy Birthday to us. Sonya (being the quiet, lovely, sweet one) unexpectedly got fed up that they weren't singing and shouted in their faces "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!" Immediately after she does this, she giggles and waves to the camera, as sweet as pie. We laugh til we cry when we watch this video. I'll be sure to upload it someday.
Our family puppy-dog Max. He lived to be nearly 17 years old, and we all cried like babies when he died a couple of years ago.
Max and I when he was a puppy (again Mom, what kind of hair-do is THIS? Bowl-head mullet?)
If you've read the post with my memoirs you'll already know about the song Sonya and I made up about Max. If not, let me enlighten you with the lyrics now:

Max is our puppy, a beautiful-a puppy.
Don't let him pass by you!
During the afternoon when Maxy plays,
He always get's his ways,
Eating hamburgers and hot dogs...

(Diabolical. Trust me, I know)
All ready to go on the school bus for my first day of school (equipped with my special Strawberry Shortcake Lunch box)
Ugh. Those hair-do's again!
I love this one because my Daddy looks like a real cowboy here. So cute!
And finally, we come to the last, and most disgusting picture, on this journey down memory lane. I'm only showing you this because I love Peter Pan and Mr. Smee haha It's well and truly a testament to how HORRIBLE my hair cuts were. Clearly the bowl-head mullets continued right up until I was 11. (Mom, I have a serious bone to pick with you after this!) 
Adventures at Magic Kingdom, Disney World.
Regardless of the bad hair cuts, the bad clothes and the poor picture quality, I LOVE these photos with all of my heart. They're so special to me, and they're precious snip-its of wonderful childhood memories that I cherish. Carl always picks on me, saying I take too many pictures and I'm going to be one of those obnoxious Mom's who posts 80 pictures a day of their child. But if it means that when they're older they have a collection of memories to enjoy, like I do now, I don't mind being that Mom with a camera permanently stuck to her face. I'm just glad my Mom had one stuck to hers :)

Thanks for reading, guys!
Take good care,


  1. what priceless photos! and how fun to reminisce on the good ole' days!

  2. So cute! I love looking at old pictures of my family too.

  3. Ok...so...you brought me here to look at Nutella today and then I end up doing some catch up on your blog and you have me crying!!! What a BEAUTIFUL post!!! Your grandma obviously meant the world too you and it just makes me that much more grateful that mine is still here with me. I never take that for granted. And yes...breast cancer sucks. All cancer sucks. And I know how hard it must be to look at pictures and miss her so much, but that's what's so amazing about heaven. Your grandma is there with the same smile on her face looking down at the woman you have become :) And on a less serious sappy note...I'm pretty sure I had the same Ariel tank top as you and I could put a hurt on ring pops as a kid. Ha!

    1. Haha sorry for the tears! If it's any consolation, I looked like a blubbering baby while writing this! Ha!

      Thanks so much for the kind words. And you're right, she's in heaven right now smiling from ear to ear. I bet she's tickled pink we're all talking about her so highly. Haha :)

      Ha! You weren't cool as a kid if you didn't have Ariel plastered on everything you owned! And Ring Pops were the bee's knees! I haven't seen one in years but I could kill for a sour green apple one right now!

  4. I cried, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed this post Mandy! It's your best yet :-) glad I could include you in my flash back picture day love you

    1. Sheester, I knew you'd enjoy this post as much as I did. Thanks so much for sending me those pictures and inspiring me to write something so meaningful. It will be good for the soul to look back and read this often, especially on days when we're feeling down.
      Love you to the moon and back xoxo


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