Thursday, December 31, 2015

Who was that gal in my bathroom?

Nana and Paw-Paw...We are the tree trunk and these grandkids are our branches. Time does fly.

This photo was taken in 2001. Grandson, Austin, the little boy on top step was not present this year, so he is not pictured below. The boy on top step this year is Nicole's brother, and that is Nicole bottom center. We are so very proud of each and every one of these young people we call OURS. The picture below from this year is evidence that we produce cute offspring.

Christmas day our house overflowed with cookie eaters, game players, gift openers, sibling teasers, toy lovers, and adult kids acting young. I love it when all of us are under our roof. The noise is sometimes deafening, and the seating is limited, so invariably long-legged young adults sprawl on the floor. We step over one another, laugh raucously, over eat, and hug good-bye with a new appreciation for each other.
Bill and I vacuum, do a quick clean up, and settle in to reminisce about another year over and another almost begun. I glimpse a game piece on the floor, a handprint on the door, ALL of my Snapple peach tea bottles in the recycle bin. These THINGS don't matter. It is family that does.

I lie on the couch and he stretches out in his recliner, the room lit by the Christmas tree, and I give thanks for all of our babies. Although our only real baby is Liam at 18 months (not pictured because he was off scouting out chocolate chip cookies) and the next oldest is Nicole at age 8. Everyone else has topped us in height and cuteness and smartness. Each one makes us proud.

I picked up a black ponytail holder off the floor. I hung it up high on a knob in the bathroom, figuring one of the girls would call and ask if we found it.

A week has gone by and it was still hanging up high, because Kitty No-No likes to eat those stretch bands. Today, before my shower I reached for my pink shower cap. Before donning it, I spied the pony tail holder and pulled all my hair back into it and slipped on the cap. Nice, none of my escaping tendrils would get wet. I didn't have to shove fallen clumps back under as usual. I proceeded to take a long, leisurely shower and forgot about the pony tail holder.
When I got out of the tub and dried off, I yanked off the pink plastic shower cap. Instead of my shoulder length hair cascading as usual, I screamed at the sight of Ruth Buzzy in my mirror. My hair wasn't drawn severely back in a hair net, but in that dang ponytail holder! Geeze, once I got my heart rate back to normal, I towel dried, moisturized and tossed that stretchy band into the trash can.  

In case you are too young to know who actress Ruth Buzzy is, here's a photo of her from a 60s show called Laugh In.
Shocking I tell you; it was just shocking. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Let's play a little word game with my cutie pie

Let's play a little guessing game here. Sort of like Jeopardy. These photos all have something in common. I'll give you a clue. The puzzle has three words. Each word begins with letter C and the last word ends with letter S. Begin!
Liam and his mama, Ashley, my first grandchild. He's a smart whippersnapper like she was at this age, and he is just as cute.
You can see by the chocolate drool down his chin he served himself from the plate of cookies behind him and is accepting another one.
Here he is with his Nana, my daughter. When he saw her and her husband coming up the walkway to our house he was ecstatic, yelling, "Nana! Paw-paw!" She babysits him daily. Look at his left hand.
Here he is giggling with Nicole, who indulged him, as everyone else did.
Of course, yes indeedy, his mouth is stuffed with what else? A soft cookie for my sweetie boy.
No, I am not giving him a kiss. I am eating the other half of ANOTHER cookie.
If you haven't guessed the three words by now, I'll tell you.
Count them. 1,2,3,4,5,6. Five that you can see and one that Nicole slipped him.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Won't you come in for a visit?

 I bought a cloth placemat years ago and framed it. It looks so cute at Christmastime. This year it's a reminder of crazy weather conditions. This is the only snowman we'll see for a while. Today, on Christmas Eve, the temperature will climb into the high 60s. I am NOT complaining.
This is our homey little tree decorated mostly with ornaments from our children and grandchildren and former students. We believe in Santa, and we know that Jesus is the reason for the season.

When Liam came in and saw the tree, I had planned to point out all the cute ornaments and the manger scene to him. NOPE, that did not happen. He was thrilled with what else..."Balls, Nana, balls!" The lights splayed colorful "balls" all over the walls. He was in his glory.

Kitty sits guard over the stable. He's never nosed around in the tree before. This year I caught him knocking off certain ornaments, ones hung with thin gold string instead of hooks. He ate the string!

The sign: Grandma's Kitchen... Kids Spoiled Here
I have been baking (and eating) cookies galore this week. I baked chocolate chip, peanut butter, Russian tea cakes with ground pecans (our favorite), and then last evening I decided to bake another batch of chocolate chips since I had a bag of Ghiradelli chips left. Well, I spilled half the bag and had to trash them, so although I doubled the recipe, I had half the amount of chocolate chips. As if that wasn't bad enough, I mistakenly added double the amount of baking powder instead of baking soda. 
Those suckers raised up to muffin top size. So now we have cake-like chocolate chip cookies...the kind Panera Bread Co sells for $1.69 each.  
There is a home nearby that draws huge crowds driving by each night. Everyone calls it the Teddy Bear House. The owners decorate with hundreds of teddy bear displays and scenes. It is the most magical place. Although it was daytime, we took Liam by to see it. He was so excited, he ran down the walk. As I pointed out the many different scenes, he stopped and discovered his very favorite of all...and that was it! I couldn't get his attention after that.  
He noticed the pretend candy pieces and started shouting, "BALLS, Nana, BALLS!"
I'm sure he dreamed about the Teddy Bear House. He awoke from his nap laughing out loud.

May the magic of Christmas fill your homes and hearts. Thank you for your visits, your friendship.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A little something for YOU

I wish I could rent a hall and invite all of you to come have cookies with me. I baked chocolate chip cookies, also peanut butter, and I have two more kinds yet to bake. Since we can't be together, I will gift you with the following writing opportunities.

We all have files, folders and drawers filled with pieces rejected by ourselves or editors. Take a few minutes to review, revise, and resend to this paying market.

$50.00 for essays, short stories or poetry. Guidelines and examples provided. If you happen to get published on this site in the new year, will you please let me know?

We would all prefer to be paid in cash, but would you consider compensation of $25 toward the  purchase any item on this site? Jennifer Brown Banks, from Pen and Prosper is a contributor today. Peruse the post and leave a comment for Jen, then take a look at what they have to offer. This might be a great opportunity for you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


What a difference a year makes. Last December, Liam was no bigger than these stuffed snow people.
Now the little giggle box is twice their size. He is so good natured, always smiling and laughing. He even woke up from his nap laughing out loud.

In preparation for Santa's imminent arrival in our living room, I  showed him his scrap book with last year's photos of him with Santa. He would look at the pictures then close the book and look away, indicating he wasn't really comfortable with the big guy in the red suit.

When Santa came down the hallway into the living room, Liam clung to me. I explained, "Santa wants to hold you like he did when you were a little baby. You sit on his lap and I will take your picture, then I'll hold you." He understood, but he was not really happy, on the verge of tears, and then Santa talked, and Liam recognized his voice. He was trying to figure it all out, and ended up giving Santa  high five.
How I love these two guys!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Away, far away in a manger

The Reason for the Season
These are two of my Christmas treasures. This old nativity crèche belonged to Bill when we met, except for the crystal angel on your left, which was given to me by one of my students 25 years ago. She comes with a story.

My first grandchild, blonde, blue-eyed Ashley, was precious and precocious. She was almost three years old when she spied the angel. She came running to me and said, "Nana, something isn't right. There's a BALD angel in the stable!" I told her a simple version of the Christmas story and explained that an angel announced the birth to shepherds in the fields. She said, "I know that, but where is her hair?" She went on and on about the bald angel. No, I did not make a wig for the "glass angel" as she called her. Learning to handle little disappointments leads to handling the big ones in life.

She used to lie on the floor on her tummy and gaze into the stable. One day she came running up to me and said, "Nana, you have to do something. Quick! Turn off the lights." I pointed out that the lamps were off, and the overhead light was also off. She pointed to the baby Jesus and said, "But, the baby can't sleep with that bright light in his eyes. Please turn it off."

So, of course, I darkened the stable and made one little girl very happy. I wish I could so easily do that for her now, but life gets complicated and everyday does not bring happiness. Or peace.

Especially at this time of year, so many people try to purchase happiness. Contentment and inner peace, which have no monetary value, is what we should seek. Happiness is fleeting and fluid, and the gifts soon forgotten. Kind words and loving actions are the priceless gifts that we should give to others.
This drawing was done by my daughter, Ashley's mom, when she was 7 years old. Gazing at it brings to mind the days of long ago, when she and her little brother and I went caroling with the Sunday school group. We ended up in the church basement for a holiday party. My kids won an award for singing "Away in a Manger" by themselves. They received a bag of candy, and she almost choked to death on a jaw breaker. Thank God for the man next to me who dislodged it from her wind pipe. He was our angel that night. In an instance, my happiness almost turned to tragedy.

Jesus is the reason for the season and He is the path to peace. If only people could apply the holiday message year around, not just in December. My wish for each of you is for PEACE and good health.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A GIANT of a all senses of the word

We went on a cruise right after Thanksgiving and stopped in the ports of Jamaica, Caymen Island, and Cozumel, Mexico. We enjoy sailing the high seas, and let me tell you, that ship was rocking this time as we went through some heavy storms. The result was the cancellation of top deck, outdoor movie viewing, dance parties at night, and our last shore excursion. But overall, the trip was fun and we were able to relax for a few days.

 I WALKED ON A BEACH and SWAM IN THE CARIBBEAN SEA. I got my fix! I will make it through winter, now.

This cruise was completely different from the spring break cruise, where preteens ran wild.
There were few children on board and lots of senior citizens. We met some very interesting and friendly people. Like most passengers on board, I was unaware that that we walked among greatness, a true American hero.

He stood 7 feet tall, had a commanding presence, and after Googling him, I learned he has a host of aliases and occupations:

Chicago Slim, (his handle as a blue's guitarist and co-leader of a Chicago's Blues Band.)

 Right Reverened Dr. D. (his DJ handle) He was a Blues music radio announcer for years.

An All Star, All state American Prep basketball player in high school. What do you expect at 7 ft tall?

His other moniker is "The Bone Doc."

When he walked into the ship's comedy club, it was obvious he was a dignitary and received VIP treatment. He and his wife sat in front of us. I overheard his conversation with the comedy club manager. "Yeah, every now and then, I just have to get away and relax. You can't do what I do everyday of the week."

When we went to our cabin, I was amazed to see his picture flashed across the television on CNN.

Dr. Daniel Ivankovich has been selected as one of CNN's Top 10 Heroes.

A remarkable orthopedic surgeon, who operates out of three Chicago clinics, has served more than 100,000 uninsured or under insured patients since 2010 through his non-profits. He treats patients regardless of their ability to pay. He performs 5-7 surgeries a day. He IS a hero.

He was born in Croatia; his family defected to Chicago in 1965 when he was two years old. You can read more about him at the link below, and also discover who the other 9 CNN Heroes are, and how to vote for them.
I lifted this photo from his Face book page.