Sunday, April 23, 2017

Park it!

I penned a poem in honor of Earth Day. Things change when one parks the car and becomes a pedestrian.

Trade In

Had a head on collision with my conscience
during rush hour gridlock, as I inhaled motorists'
tobacco smoke and engine exhaust.

Popped the clutch, took a great escape exit.
Twisted my ring, vowed to hang up the key,
trade my lead foot for a flat foot experience.

Swapped my speedometer for a pedometer,
raised my metabolism, lowered my blood pressure
racked up the miles, added more smiles.

Not missing the highway din, weaving out and in.
Enjoying my excursions and all the diversions.
Discoveries abound: curb appeal is money found.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Sabotaged by the thin one

A conversation with my alter ego

Me talking to myself: You know you really shouldn’t skip breakfast, and for a buck you can get a sausage/egg biscuit. Next exit, McDonalds! Pull in, sister.

No! No! NO! Fatso, you just keep driving. You know very well if you pull through that drive through, you’ll be pulling out with a cin-a-bun instead of a sausage biscuit.

Darn that crazy driver! I can’t get over; now I missed my Mickey D's exit.

Don’t worry Chunky Monkey, Schnucks Market is up ahead; buy yourself some fresh fruit.

Schnucks, yes, apples! Ahhh; their apple turnovers melt in my mouth.

Hey Butter Biscuit Butt, did you look in the mirror when you stuffed all that flab into your pants this morning? You’re not sucking in that gut as well as you used to.

Oh, whatever! I’m going to love myself the way I am.

The scale says there’s more of you to love, sugar dumpling. Still want that apple tart?

SHUT UP you little tart! I know I have 10 pounds to lose.

Heh-heh! 10? Kidding yourself again, Thunder Thighs?

Life is too short; I’m going to pull in and get an apple turnover.

Hey Bimbo, eat that turnover and soon you won’t be able to turn yourself over.

I am just going to love the skin I’m in.

Hey Pudge, they make Spanx that can suck in that skin you’re in.

Oh all right! I really don’t need the junk. I do need to eat better, and eat less. A lot less. I’ll be good and I’ll buy fruit, and I'll eat light all day today.

That-a-girl. Hey Fat Ass,


I just want to remind you there’s a free casino buffet coupon on your kitchen counter. They have a great selection of healthy vegetables, and oh those desserts: coconut cream pie, loaded brownies, eclairs, ice cream...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kids gone wild

Seems every get together at our house ends up in water play. Usually Paw-Paw is the perpetrator of all things water. But this time, he was not involved. 

The parents don't like it, but oh the memories the kids make when they come for a visit. On Easter when they broke out the squirt guns, there were no holds barred. Nick had the advantage, which ticked off Nicole. Liam was just glad to be included.

Our Bosnian neighbor, who speaks limited English, thought he was helping Liam by giving him the upper hand over the big kids. He called him over and showed him how to use his hose which has a firefighter type nozzle.

He never expected Liam to accidentally turn the stream on him in all his excitement. Later in the day, Liam went over to him, lowered his head, and said, "I sorry."

He didn't tell ME he was sorry for deliberately turning the hose on me a second after I snapped this photo. There was lots of rollicking laughter and fun by spectators as well as participants.

 Amazing what a dollar can do to make a little boy so happy. He bought a bag of balloons, and asked me to inflate them one at a time. He was surprised when I tied them all together and made a huge balloon bouquet. He tossed them and laughed so hard. He cried real tears when one popped.
 Then he made his own discoveries with Paw-paw's flashlight. "Nana, light shines through my balloons. I made yellow light, blue light, red light. LOOK!"
 He wanted me to fill the rest of his balloons with water, so we took them to the park to share with two little boys there. We ended our day at the playground, then a bath, and I read Bunny Trouble, one of my favorite books about a bunny named Ralph, who would rather play soccer than decorate eggs.

I taught Liam this balloon poem: I had a round balloon, almost as big as the moon. It floated so high into the air, then suddenly POP (clap hands) it wasn't there.

I asked him to think of as many things as he could up in the sky that might have popped the balloon.

He replied: a bee, a fly, a flea, a helicopter, a cloud, an airplane, a red bird. This kid is a thinker!

When I taught preschoolers, I always prompted my students for three answers: What? What else? and think of one more thing? If you have a little one, try this activity. What can fly? hop? is green? etc.
What makes ME so happy? This little happy-faced boy. He was missing his mommy. He said he loves her soft hair, squishy face, and the ways she tickles his back. Now that is love times three!

I am back to writing and submitting. Warm, sunny days make me WANT to write. I am inspired by sights, smells, and sounds, memories, and doughnuts. I submitted a serious poem with innuendo to a doughnut-themed collection. Now that's a stretch. Also wrote about wind turbines. I am diverse and prolific. How about you? Has spring fever infused you with renewed energy?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hop on in and meet the family.

Nicole is nine and as sweet and cute as ever. Liam loves her!

They had an Easter egg hunt. But the real fun didn't begin until later. Be sure to come back later this week to see what happened to the Bosnian man next door when he tried to intervene when all the grand kids went more wild than March hares. 

He meant well. He did. He really thought he was being helpful.

This is my son, Jason, and his wife, Jackie, and 15 year old, Nicholas, who has been battling with them to keep his long "la cross player" hair. He's varsity team captain and is only a freshman. He has a career in sports ahead of him.

 Liam's mommy, Ashley, 27, and daddy, Justin, brought Alex, who's still a bun in the oven.
Ashley is our oldest grandchild and has given us plenty of laugh lines.

Kyle, almost 24, is our second oldest. He and Gramps are best buds, always have been, always will be. Kyle has owned his own very profitable lawn care, tree trimming business, since he was sixteen. He graduated college, but he's really interested in farming, wants to raise dairy cows and buy a farm. I am sure he will one day. When he sets his mind to something...

He was searching on his phone, and someone asked if he was a on looking for a girlfriend. He joked, "No, I'm looking for a heifer."   One of the cousins piped up, "Same difference." Always a laugh-a-minute at our get togethers.
 Morgan, 17, is Kyle's sister, and this is Justin, her boyfriend. One more year of high school, and away she'll go, too. Her brother, George, 20 years old, is at college in New York.

Robin and George are their parents. Robin just flew in from NY from visiting their all star volley ball champ. She had to be at the airport at 3:00 a.m. She was ready to crash by the time she arrived at our house.

Madison, 19, with those stunning blue eyes and strawberry blonde ringlets has always been a heart stealer. A year of college under her belt, a part time job, and she's trying to decide which direction life leads her.

Sean, 18 in June, is Madison's brother. He'll be graduating high school in a few weeks, and is talking about a Navy career. He says he can retire in his 30's. He has every detail of his life, including his marriage to his long time girlfriend, a future scientist planned.

This is their mom, Bill's younger daughter, Michele. Her hubby, Joe, a firefighter, had to work.

This is my firstborn, Tracey, also known as Ashley's and Austin's super mama, and Liam's nana.

This is my son, Jason, Nicholas' and Nicole's super dad.

And this is my funny honey, who did NOT get in on the action yesterday when all of the kids went wild. Be sure to come back this week when I post incriminating evidence of the event.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cupcakes, candy, and my sweeties

I just  watched April the giraffe give birth to her baby boy. It made me feel weepy and emotional.

Liam's mommy posted the five month ultrasound picture of his baby brother. Gazing at the image of that little honey boy made my heart swell with love and anticipation. Liam is getting mighty impatient, too. He keeps saying, "Where IS HE!?"

Oh he  knows. He kisses mommy's belly all the time and talks to baby Alex. He is going to be such a good helper. He loves babies.

87 degrees today. I have been baking desserts and cooking all afternoon, so tomorrow before the family arrives, I'll pop the potatoes and pasta in the oven. I'll rise early, make deviled eggs, a garden salad, and a fruit salad, and wait for all my sweeties to arrive. Our former babies are all tall teens now, and our two oldest are in their mid-twenties. Where have the years gone?

Our kitchen is being taken over by ceramic bunnies. They are on the window sill, guarding the cupcake trays and sitting on shelves. Can't wait to see Liam's happy face when he discovers them.
Hmm, I just counted the sprinkled cupcakes. My funny honey thinks if he moves them around I won't notice there aren't a dozen on the tray. Boys will be boys.

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter, sunshine, and blessings.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring has sprung, and the boys have a new set of wheels

These are my wonderful finds of the day. Saturday mornings I like to drive to nearby yard sales. Today I bought this nice stroller for five dollars. It's black and gray with red trim, and it looks boyish. It's the kind I can release and set up with one hand. Just what an old granny needs when her hands are filled with little boys and their stuff. It will come in handy when new baby Alex arrives.

On the way home from lunch today, I asked my honey to stop at a Goodwill store in the city, where I found this lovely spring wreath with silk greenery and gorgeous cabbage roses... for three dollars! I added the sweet little ceramic rabbit which makes me feel as happy as a real bunny in a field of clover.

Gazing at it with the door open, the sun shining, and the temperature a breezy 80 degrees, makes me grateful for the little things in my life. I really don't need a lot of expensive things to make me happy.

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be as glorious as today's, and I am sure I will have more to share with you on Monday. I will post when it is raining and storming, but for now, I am enjoying this beautiful spring day.

Do you have a front door wreath, or is that just a Midwest thing?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A penny for your thoughts, or five bucks for the day

It's no secret, my honey and I go to the casino  senior buffet on Tuesday, each with a 20 bill. Yesterday was a profitable day; I came out with more than $20.

A sweet and dear lady in her late 80's chose the machine beside me. Her daughter said, "I'm parking you here for the day, Mom. Here, I'll put your money in, plus last week that lady gave you her ten dollar ticket when she was ready to go home. I don't know why she didn't cash it in, but you have more than enough to play on."

After watching this woman, I knew exactly why the gal last week gave her a pity donation. The daughter showed her mom how to play the machine. "You press the number 1 and then the amount #1."

I almost gasped out loud when the daughter left to go have her fun.

The senior lady said to me, "I wonder how Bob would like these machines? He's been gone 20 years, but I think he'd like them. Don't you?"

I smiled and said, "Yes. I remember when I used to complain to my children that I was not giving them a quarter to play Pac Man. It was a waste of money. Now look at me spending one quarter after another in these one armed bandits every Tuesday."

She said, "Well I don't drink, or go to the movies, or spend money any other way. I have lots of children I visit. They bring me here on Tuesdays for fun. I like winning a little here and there."

I pointed out she was playing one line for one penny, and if she upped her bet to a nickle or quarter she would  win way more than ten or fifteen cents. She said she had to make her money last, and she didn't mind. When she hit a jackpot for 80 cents she got so excited.

I was aggravated with her daughter for dumping her there with five bucks and making her think she was winning. When I got up to leave, the dear said, "I didn't run you off, did I?"

I assured her she didn't. I almost donated my winnings to her, but instead I went to another machine.

Another older woman (senior buffet, remember?) sat across the aisle from me. When she got up, she walked toward me, and her head snapped back. She looked over her shoulder, stunned. I watched as she looked around trying to figure out what was going on.

She was still tethered to her card, which was connected to a five feet long spring coil cord... and the card was stuck firmly in the machine. She was going nowhere fast. It took her a moment to figure it out, unfasten the clasp on her collar, and backtrack to her stuck card. I had to cover my mouth so she didn't see me laughing. She looked like a dog discovering she was on a too short leash.

As we were leaving, a bus load of seniors was entering, joking about being carded to see who didn't look their age. Those old jokers!

No need to remind me, I am one, too.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lessons from Liam, the barefoot baker

 Nana Linda loves Liam unconditionally!

His Nana Tracey does, too. She and Liam made cupcakes. He helped place one paper in each space. That's pre-math, but he doesn't know it.

The barefoot chef got to crack the eggs, pour in ingredients and use the mixer as she held it. He learned you have to listen and follow instructions.  Good lesson to learn early in life.

 Just like with writing and submitting, writers have to follow the guidelines.

Liam and I hang out on Mondays. We stopped at the Dollar Store. He saw the bin of footballs and had to have ALL of them. That is a developmental stage in early childhood. Children cannot share SOME until they have experienced ALL. They have no concept of sharing, and think when they give it away it's gone for good. He kept dropping them. He said, "Nana Linda, I have too many footballs."

Sometimes too much of a good thing CAN be overwhelming at any age. Do you agree?

He put the balls back when he saw his heart's desire in the party aisle. "BALLOONS!"
He had to make a decision. He talked himself through it. "I want the ones that are green, and purple, and black. No, I want the white ones. Hmmm, maybe this big bag with big AND little balloons." 

Choices are good, but it's hard to make a decision sometimes, isn't it?

He had me fill water balloons one after another. We took them outside, and he took them to the driveway. Then he chickened out. When I showed him how to spank the balloons to get air bubbles inside he got brave, came over, spanked them and realized they would roll on the driveway instead of pop. They bounced all around and he giggled like crazy. When he tossed one on the grass, it popped. So he tested the hypothesis: will they always pop in the grass?

 They did! He was amazed at his discovery. Some he popped deliberately, and some he tried and tried to pop on the pavement, but they did not pop. In fact he got a little frustrated. See picture below.

Trial and error is the way we learn. It's good to make your own discoveries. We learn best by doing.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, or how sure you are that something is going to turn out a certain way, it doesn't happen as you predict or think it will.

When you are so exhausted from too much work/play and frustrated that the way you planned things isn't working your way

it's best to grab your sleeping buddy, your favorite blankie, and curl up for a nap.

We are so blessed with this little guy who is beginning to declare his independence. It's like fourth of July at home. His new stage: NO! to everything. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nothing like keeping the family guessing.

Here's Ashley, Liam's, and soon to be A********'s, mama at the gender reveal party for all the grandparents. The house was decorated in pink, yellow, and blue. Little mama's been craving pumpkin pie recently. Her mom bought her individual pumpkin pies.

As soon as I walked in I saw this!!!!

Liam's paternal grandma, Shannon was as excited as I was. I bought a pink soft sleeper, but to be safe, also bought two, blue, newborn sack sleepers with drawstrings. My daughter, Nana Tracey, bought the cutest little dress, and of course baby boy outfit. Great-grandma Dot was prepared for a bundle of pink, too.

Justin's mom said he came over to her house one day and saw her working on a pink baby quilt. She asked if she should change the quilt colors. Told her to keep working on it. She assumed it was a girl. 

And then... we saw this!!!

They kept us waiting until after the delicious meal. 

 I am the cake maker in the family but can't take credit for this one. They ordered it from a new bakery in town. The owner used to be a plumber, and changed course in life. He said he was scared as could be, but stepped out in faith, and has not been happier since changing professions. I hear the yummy cinnamon rolls are as big as plates. That just goes to prove, one should follow their dreams.

Lemon fondant frosting, blueberry filling, real flowers, and sugar bees decorated the yummy cake. Liam absolutely loved the bees, I caught him sneaking them to eat.

As you can see, the cake was blue.  The new baby will be named Alexander Scott. Mama says he will be called Alex. But his daddy seems to think Lex and Liam sounds cute. We shall see what mama thinks, because everyone knows if a new mom isn't happy, ain't no one happy.

When Ashley opened her gifts, she held them up and said, "These are for the new baby."

Liam stopped in his tracks, looked all around and asked, "Where IS he?!"

I took the cutest video of him, but cannot figure out how to post it. If I do, I will post it later, otherwise, you can find it on my Facebook page.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy Puppy Day

You never forget your first. This little girl was my first baby in 1968. She was leading a great escape,  a jail break if you will, at a department store called Arlan's in south city which had a pet department. She had opened the cage and led her littler mates to freedom, or I should say, to the kibble buffet. She ripped into the bag and invited her brothers and sisters. I knew I had to buy her for seven dollars or risk having her be in BIG TROUBLE when the young male clerk came back from break. So I did. She was my girl for fifteen years.  

The year was 1969. My friend, Sheila and I, both expectant mothers in Alaska, were walking through the woods when we came upon a tractor tire on its side. It served as a pen for half a dozen puppies. The owner was not thrilled with them. Seems a Husky hooked up with his sweet white poodle. He begged us to to take a pup. So I did. Buffy Marie was my baby girl and not much bigger than the size of her own head when I chose her when she was eight weeks old. 

If you look at the bottom of the picture you can see Willy, my ex husband's puppy. He weighed sixty pounds at three months old. Buffy was such a smart girl, and Willy was a playful goofus who swiped things all around town. One day it might be a kid's winter cap and the next a large size bra he snatched off the clothesline up the road.

These two always frolicked freely in the woods. Buffy almost always had to drag Willy home in the evening. She was always ahead of him yapping for him to "Come on!"

One time my wonderful husband Bill, sometimes called Willy by my late friend, Sheila woke me after I had gone to bed. He was on the computer and saw I had received an acceptance.

"Wake up, honey. That story you wrote about me has been accepted."

In my sleepy fog, I wracked my brain for the story. I asked the title.

"Oh you know, the one you wrote about me titled, Goofy Willy."

You guessed it before he did! I had to let him down gently. "Honey, Goofy Willy was a dog I had forty years ago."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My great escape, a cultural lesson

We took pictures of various buildings in Progreso, Mexico. This is an elementary school. Preschool is mandatory. The children wear uniforms and attend for three years. The third year is similar to our kindergartens. There are 35-50 students in a class. OH MY GOODNESS! Recess is unsupervised. Children are expected to work out their own problems. Can you imagine? 

Actually, to some extent I used that approach when I taught Pre-K, 4s&5s. Children usually resolve their own conflicts if adults stand back and step in only to prevent injury. It is true.

Primary schools are grades 1-5, and secondary schools are grades 6-12. They sometimes share the same building and attend half days. It was an interesting concept. Also, after school there are street vendors outside the schools selling snacks etc. 

Our tour guide told us how the Catholic church had a very special wooden cross: the biggest and heaviest. People were gathering for a funeral in this open air church. The guide named all the religions in his town, then turned to look at us and said, "No worry. No Muslims."

That made me sad, and I wanted to say, "Not all Americans dislike Muslims." But I didn't speak up. I'm sure he has his stereotyped ideas, just as we have ours. It is good to learn about other cultures. After all, we are all human with the same basic needs.

This is comparable to the Colonel's chicken in the U.S., and they are all throughout town.
Many Americans travel to Mexico to purchase their prescribed drugs at a reduced price. There seems to be a pharmacy on every corner.
Mexican people are very friendly. Everyone shouted and exchanged  greetings with our bus driver.

He said many Americans retire there, and those who have set up businesses are well-respected in the community.

He tried to persuade us to move there. "You see? Very safe here. You retire, leave America in winter and come here. Maybe you stay, then fly your family in for holiday and send them back home. You have beach every day and have lunch on the beach with locals. Si?"

If that sweet man only knew how much I would love to take him up on his offer. See, reality set in the moment we left the open air double-decker bus and headed back to the ship on a motor coach. That will never happen.

There was an added bonus to this side excursion. As we were driving across the narrow bridge, I was gazing out the window into the turquoise sea, saying a little thank you prayer. A large sea turtle surfaced for a few moments, and I swear our eyes met! It was magical.

Well, now the trip to Mexico is a memory. A fond one, but my toes need sand and sea, not memories.

Heading to a family reunion today. Yes my people are in America, and I could never leave my Liam.

 He went to the doctor with me and his mama to listen to his sibling's heartbeat this week. After the exam, he asked the OB, "Where's your suckahs?"

She said, "My patient's don't get suckers, but I have stickers." That thrilled him.

When I show him beach photos he begs me to take him to the ocean. I hope one day I can.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

His nurse got a handful

My big guy went to the cardiologist for a stress test. He has always had a large heart, not enlarged, and so his resting pulse is about 50 or less, and he has to work hard to get his heart rate up.

He was on the tread mill doing fine, when the technician elevated it a little, then a little more, and before he knew it, my honey felt like he was climbing to the top of a mountain.

Sort of like when we were in our 40's hiking in Colorado to the top of St. Mary's to see the glacier. He'd warned me about the wild boars. We remained vigilant and on high alert. I had a lot of stamina when I was young and thin. I was ahead of him when I was attacked. I screamed, turned to run, watched him reverse course and trip over a fallen log, scramble to get back up and regain his footing. He shouted, "What?! What is it? A wild boar? What did you see?!"

Huffing and puffing, I barreled to the trail head, and stopped. My honey arrived and breathlessly wanted to know what was chasing me.

Bent over, hands on my knees, I panted, "A big insect, big as a saucer flew right at my head!" My eyes were as wide as saucers.

His eyes narrowed.

Through clenched teeth he gasped, "You mean it was NOT a wild boar?!"

"It was humongous," I cried.

I have never lived that down.

Yesterday he had an equivalent experience where he found it hard to catch his breath.

The female technician said he had less than five minutes more to walk on the treadmill, and asked if he was feeling any chest pain.

"No ma'am, but I think my legs are going to give out before my heart. I can hardly finish this."

She cheered him on. "Only three more minutes."

He shook his head, ready to give up. She shouted for the nurse who shouted to him, "Hold on, you only need less than two minutes. I can help you out here."

She came up behind him and grabbed the back of his jogging pants, got a handful of the top of his Fruit of the Looms and gave him a wedgie like he'd never had in his life, not even from his brothers when they were kids.

"I ran like hell on that treadmill trying to get away."

Results pending. If he has to go back for follow up, he says he is not letting the nurse near him.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

City of the dead and underwater Jenga

We discovered this activity in Cozumel Mexico. The cost is just under $70. We were spectators.

 Advertisement: Stepping into Clear Lounge is like stepping into the future. You’ll feel the weightlessness of the underwater world all around you, while the colorful lights and bubbles, mixed with refreshing, aromatic oxygen exhilarate your senses. It’s a whole body, multi-sensory experience.
You’ll enter Clear Lounge via a vertical ladder. As you descend the ladder, a high-tech Sea TREK® helmet will be placed on your shoulders. The helmet keeps you dry from the shoulders up, and provides a constant flow of cool, refreshing air enriched with oxygen and an aromatherapy scent of your choice. Once you have entered the underwater lounge, you’ll have a chance to:
·    Shoot targets with a high-powered bubble gun
·    Play a custom underwater version of jenga
·    Write and draw messages for your friends on the outside of the lounge
There were lots of young participants.

I am always amazed to find Mother Nature's surprises growing out of a crack in a vertical wall. 
 On our way home, passing through New Orleans, I snapped photos of scenes that captured my interest. I just like the way the trees seem to grow out of Lake Ponchatrain.
 And this picture does not begin to capture the giant wing span of this bird. Six feet, at least.

Cemeteries always fascinate me, and while I have always wanted to take a tour of one in  New Orleans, time constraints prevented our doing so. Cemeteries there are known as Cities of the Dead because of the elaborate sculptures, decorative art work, architecture, and tomb embellishments. New Orleans is built on a swamp, so burials are all above ground. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The sea calls to me

In case you were wondering, we cruised to Cozumel and Progreso Mexico last week. 

 We toured the town of Progreso in a double-decker bus and saw all sorts of interesting sights.
 I begged the bus driver to stop when we passed the beach. He said,"Only cinco minutes!"
 That was enough for me to stroll the beach, sink my toes in the surf and collect a few shells.
 Then we did a shore excursion. We swam with the sting rays and snorkeled in the sea.
 Their barbs are cut periodically, but I still wasn't that thrilled.  I mean kids have rapid growth spurts, and I thought it would have been my luck I'd feed a ray whose barb had regenerated. We held fish in our hands and put our hand on the bottom of the sea, then the sting rays swam over our outstretched hands and took the fish from us.

We also saw babies in an aquarium. They were so cute and felt like the softest velvet.

The tour guide warned us about the aggressive thieving pelican who tries to get a fish from tourists.
Bill is ever friendly and walked closer to make friends with this monster bird. It nearly snatched his nose off! You never saw a big man move so fast! I laughed and laughed. All in all, except for the last day, when Miami, Florida news reported the angry sea was tossing fifteen feet waves, and the ship was rocking, and the stage show canceled, we had an enjoyable vacation.