Sunday, August 12, 2018

What 's your load?

Here's to motherhood!

Liam has a cold; Alex is teething, getting his top teeth all at once; Charlie eats every hour or two, and mama has had little sleep. Thank goodness for grandmas! I will be spending my days this week with Ashley and the boys. My daughter was her support system this weekend. Women need women as friends, confidants, and helping hands. Embrace the chaos. It will pass.

I call them Sneezy, Teethy, Pee-pee, and Weepy, but shhh! don't tell my granddaughter, Nana's girl. Life can pile up on you, take you on a ride you didn't expect. Life is unpredictable. One thing at a time! 

You may feel overwhelmed, too. If you are a writer, you may feel like you are being pulled in all directions. You have an idea or a thought, and you just don't have the time to jot it down, much less develop it. By the time you do have the time and try to recapture it, poof! Vanished.

There are times when you will feel like giving up or giving in, but believe in yourself, and KNOW THIS TOO SHALL PASS! Take one thing at a time. "Chunk it" we teachers used to say when there was so much to do and so little time to do it. A little at a time, or you will burn out. 

Whether it's your work load or your wash load, you can get through it if you do a little at a time. Don't be afraid to reach out.

Friday, August 3, 2018

He arrived!

 Ashley was in labor all day AT WORK.  She was in no hurry because she was sent home with false labor last week. This time the contractions did not stop.

She  called at 8:00 p.m. and said  she was heading to operating room at 8:30 p.m.

 When the doctor held the baby up to show mama, he clutched the sterile drape.  He weighed 8 lbs 10 ounces and was 20 and 1/4 inches long. And did I say CUTE?!

 I cannot believe I feel the same kind of emotional and deep love all over again.

 Look at this pudgy little guy. He is a jabberer already, and grins. He has blue eyes. He was in a milk coma here, but he is very alert and precious.
 Liam was thrilled to see his baby brother. He  is such a loving little boy.

 Daddy Justin introduced Alex, and he nearly climbed up his daddy's arm trying to avoid Charlie.

 But once we were all in the room settled in, Alex was very interested; Liam was very protective, and Nana Tracey was very thrilled with our precious new baby boy.

 Liam NEEDED his mommy and asked to be close to her. So she snuggled him, too.

He cried at bedtime when he was tucked in at my house and at Nana Tracey's. We showed him the photo of him and his mommy and he said, "That is just what I needed. Thank you." He is such a sweet, sensitive little guy.
 He and Alex are inseparable. They are forever giggling, wrestling, and playing together. Just wait a few months when Charlie is tumbling and rolling with them. God bless baby Charlie.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Oh what a miracle!

Charlie arrived last night. I have photos to download and stories to tell. Please come back tomorrow and meet the little pudgie doll boy.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Pineapple induction? Something is going to hit the fan.

I have had stomach issues for about a week or more. Finally straightened out, so I hopped on the scale and panicked at the readout: 13.2 pound weight loss. I screamed-cheered.

I Googled "Sudden 13 pound weight loss. "The results were catastrophic. I worried until I realized I had weighed Sassy Cat in my arms two weeks ago. Whew! What a relief that was.

Some days you have to laugh at yourself.

Still waiting for Charlie's arrival. His mama said she read eating pineapple induces labor, so she is eating an entire pineapple today.

I told her not to panic if she notices sudden weight loss, because eating an entire pineapple may induce more than labor. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The final countdown

Liam is finally interested in his "kit-tar", the ukelele I have had in his play room for three years. He sat on the bed with Alex and me, strummed, and sang, You are My Sunshine... three times. The first time he was embarrassed and barely moved his mouth. Second time he sang it to Alex, who laughed and climbed all over him, and the third time Liam was very animated and sang to ME. I asked, "Who is your sunshine?" He replied sweetly, "YOU are." I could eat him up! I told him he was soon going to have another brother, and he replied, "Then he will be my sunshine, too like Alex."

He is the BEST BIG BROTHER ever!

Alex continues to have the most placid personality. He is such a good baby. He thinks he's one of the big boys at the playground these days. He gets excited when I pull into the parking area.

He holds onto the bars and laughs when kids run across the hanging bridge and bounce him. He likes to go down the baby slide and also loves to swing. He's crawling all over and will be walking very soon. Not sure if we should discourage or encourage his mobility...

because baby Charlie has moved into birthing position and is on the count down...two weeks or less. Ashley's fun, friendly, female obstetrician is on vacation in Italy, so Ashley will see Dr. Dreamy tomorrow. He looks like actor Matthew McCoughnahy. He delivered her other two boys, C section and told her if her OB was in, she would likely move up her delivery date, but HE cannot. That bummed her out.  

Little mama is going to have her hands full. Alex's first birthday is less than a month a way.
Imagine blonde, wavy, shoulder-length hair on Liam, and that is exactly how Ashley looked.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Walk a bit in my shoes

I took a neighborhood walk yesterday. The corner church has been completely razed, and now the process of building a gas station is happening.  Noise galore from all sorts of excavation equipment and endless dump trucks transporting mounds of dirt up and down our street, into and out of the building site.

 I kicked up a chunk of metal with crimped edges, no bigger than a quarter. It rolled across the sidewalk releasing many memories of long ago.

When I was young, we used to go to the shoe repair store. YES there were actually cobblers who made, repaired, and resoled shoes. People didn't toss their shoes when they were nearly worn out.

High school kids, boys and girls, went to the shoe shop to have silver, metal taps nailed onto the soles of shoes, a tiny crescent moon shape tap for the toe and a wider one at the heel. The purpose was to prevent the soles from wearing down. I loved the sound the taps made.

We younger kids wanted taps, too. So we placed two bottle caps, crimped edges up, on the ground, and then we stomped on them forcing them into the heels of our soles. We clomped around like the cool kids until our taps fell off.

Bill remembers collecting bottle caps from his dad's tavern. He and his buddies used to play Bottle Caps in the alley. A pitcher tossed bottle caps to the batter, who used a broom stick as a bat, and the pitcher and catcher tried to catch them to call the batter out.

Those were simple days when we played outdoors and made our own fun.  Check out this short clip, and discover what my childhood was like. Many people tell me I am very creative. I attribute it to this.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

An encounter with swerving

Witnessed a most confusing traffic scene. In the evening  we were driving on four lane, busy Telegraph Road.

It looked like mass confusion at first glance. The oncoming two lanes of cars were swerving en masse, like a wave. 

Left, right, then halting abruptly. Nearly bumper to bumper. Nobody was honking or upset.

A dozen cars appeared to be slow moving in choreographed formation. 

Then I saw it, a small shaggy little dog running down the road BETWEEN the two oncoming lanes. Drivers were trying to keep it from going into our lane of traffic. A man hopped out and rescued the shaggy, little black and white, dirty, exhausted dog. It was heart warming 
to witness goodness in action! 
Not this dog but similar.

Then we went to Taco Bell. Three college age guys, one Hispanic, an African American, and a baby-face, chunky, white kid entered wearing backpacks and name badges. The Hispanic guy spoke to an older gentleman waiting at the counter, who either didn't have his hearing aides on or did not speak English.

 "We're not from around here. You must experience winter, what with all those pine trees."

The old guy replied, "They're on the counter."

The dude rolled his eyes. When he sat next to us, I asked if he was from a warm climate. he looked confused, perhaps a bit offended as if I were suggesting Mexico. 

I smiled and told him I'd overheard his conversation about winter. He said, "We're from Ohio." Then he flipped his badge on a lanyard and said, "Working out of Clayton. Hired to obtain signatures to  get three initiatives on the ballot here in Missouri. They pay us VERY well to lead the "sheeple" who don't realize they are being led. Everything in politics is about money and campaign contributions."

I said, "You are young to be learning this lesson. It takes some people years."

He replied, "And some people, NEVER. It's all about what money can buy."

That kid had moxie and a mouth and I can only imagine him on street corners pitching a political agenda, drumming up signatures. Wonder if he walks a straight or crooked line as he moves from place to place.  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

That's the way it goes!

I've been lax this week.  I blamed my lack of writing on the weather, my busy life, the world situation. You name it, I have been procrastinating. But today I sent something to a big house.

I used to tussle with that little brat inside my head who is as annoying as a gnat. "They won't even consider your work. Why do you keep submitting?"

Well I decided to shush that brat when I hit the send button a few moments ago. I fed myself affirmations and atta girls, because I know I can write and I have confidence and faith in myself.

And wouldn't you know it...

I submitted accidentally and prematurely without attaching my submission. The brat is saying, "When they see two submissions from you, they will disregard. You screwed up. Na na na na na!"

My retort, "What is meant to be will be. I know this for a fact."

This pesky voice reminds me of  the first time I visited my country cousins, and they invited me to sleep outside on their open air porch. Afraid I'd be eaten by mosquitoes, I begged, "Turn on a light!"

My aunt said, NO, but I cried and insisted. She said I was a hard head and would have to experience what would happen since I wouldn't listen to reasoning.

If I thought the mosquitoes were bad, I was terrified when moths and beetles bombarded, attracted to the light. It was like being dive bombed by wing flickers and fierce biters. This city girl wanted a bed indoors.

Today I am turning off my "porch light" and not listening to the buzzing pests.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Was it a bird or Big Bird?

Jefferson Barracks Park ( a former military installation) is near our home. I feel overwhelming
sadness when we drive past the thousands of tombstones decorated with American flags in the National Cemetery. I am proud of those who gave their lives or fought for our freedom. But the image leaves a heaviness in my heart.

 We have often gone to JB Park for a variety of events, concerts, fireworks, or just to see the wild deer roaming in the evening. When my 21 year old grandson Austin was less than two years old, I took his mom, my mom, and his sister to a Native American Pow Wow in the park. 

Austin was a smart, observant little guy with a good vocabulary. When he saw this little fella kicking up his heels and dancing, Austin darted for him and yelled, "Bird!"

Feathers...his  frame of reference. I darted right after him. Although this was a serious ceremony, we were invited to join in the circle dance with the group. I have no official proof, but my dad and his brothers all claimed to have Native American ancestry. I grabbed Austin's hand and we joined the group. For a moment I felt a profound connection to my late dad and "our" people as we shuffle stepped side to side.

On this Independence Day I am saddened by U.S. and world events, and I wonder why we can't be more inclusive and invite others to partake of our abundance. With the heart of a child, if we would all reach out in love and acceptance. Let the children lead...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hello, Bob

Did you ever meet a stranger and "click" right away? Bill and I met Bob and Rhoda, a married couple about our age,  while on a cruise last Halloween. We dined together and attended evening performances, then sat and talked. As we got to know one another we found ourselves saying, "Me too!" about everything.

Bob passed away recently, and so Rhoda decided to take a road trip from Arkansas to Chicago to visit her daughter. She laid over one night at our house. It felt like we'd known each other all our lives. We dined out and then we watched evening news and a little late night TV.

At 11:00 p.m. Bill said good night and went to bed. We said we were turning in also. But as it often happens when women get together, we talked for nearly two more hours, finding more things we had in common.

At 12:45 a.m. while in the middle of conversation, the lap top computer which was off, lid closed, sitting on the TV stand, startled us when a late night host, whose show was on three hours earlier, blared at the highest volume. We were startled and shocked. I ran to turn it off, but it was OFF. Then the TV came on. I opened and closed the computer and clicked on and off the TV.

Confused, Rhoda and I stared at one another and shrugged. I finally said, "Hello, Bob we miss you."

When we told Bill in the morning, he did not believe us.

It happened, and there is no explanation for how two turned off electronic devices...

What do you think?    

Monday, June 25, 2018

Unload, go ahead, then upload!

Marc Crepeaux, the founder of Rusty Wheels Media, is seeking submissions for his next book, Letters Never Meant to be Read, Vol. IV. The contest for Volume III closed last month.

Send your submission to and write Letters in the  subject line or mail to Rusty Wheels Media, PO Box 1692, Rome, GA 30162

The call for submissions is ongoing.

Surely there is someone in your life who you would like to thank, praise, criticize, or yell at, for whatever reasons. An old love, parent, spouse, boss; been holding an angry grudge? This is an opportunity for possible publication, so let your work shine. Be real, be honest, emote! If accepted, you can publish anonymously.  

The link below will take you to Marc's Face book video, where you can get to know this English professor, Captain in the US Army Reserves, and soon-to-be dad from Rome, Georgia.

Listen to him read a moving letter he wrote to his gram.

Please pass this information on to your writing groups and friends.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Break a leg

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Let me tell you how I got these bruises on my left upper arm, forehead, ankle.

Bill has a large comfy recliner which backs up to our front window. There is a four foot tall wooden  shelf  with five shelves and lots of ceramic frames which display photos of grand kids. It is against the wall to the left of his chair (as I am standing facing it.)

I saw a throw pillow on the floor behind Bill's chair. I reached for it, lost my balance, grabbed onto the upper part of his recliner and the dang thing RECLINED which sent me reeling into the shelf. The ceramic frames crashed like dominoes as I tried to upright myself.

"What have you been up to?" I heard Bill say.

"What does it look like? I busted my head and my arm, and I'm stuck. Why don't you help me here?"

"How long has it been?" he asked.

"How long?! Who cares? Just give me a hand!"

Then, the door opened and in walked Bill who found me crumpled in a heap. I had been interacting with a damned soap opera actor.

So much for my acting debut. I didn't even have an audience when I nearly "broke a leg."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Touched by an angel

Winter slammed into the Midwest in December 2010. Snow-covered, icy roads did not stop Donna from her duties as a foster mom.

As a single mother, Donna was always extremely responsible. She reached out to help others: family, friends and strangers. With her engaging personality, gravelly laugh, and lively chatter, she left a great first impression: BUBBLY. 
Someone was goofing around with her in this photo, thus the arm around her neck. This is how I remember Donna,

With incredible determination, she not only provided for her baby, who required frequent surgeries for a birth defect, Donna worked harder than two women. In addition, she cared for her own challenged mother. DYNAMIC! Donna was a super charged woman when we were young moms. When her daughter grew up and married, Donna filled the void with work and selflessly assisted other mother's daughters.  She became a foster mother.

On December 17, 2010 Donna was not going to allow lousy weather to stop her from transporting one of her foster daughters. She was headed back home for her other foster daughter's birthday celebration. Her tires hit a patch of cinders, meant to enhance traction. Instead she lost control of her car; it careened backwards, down a hill and bounced to a halt in a ravine. The back of her seat broke, and Donna was trapped, flat on her back, strapped in, unable to move. She was most concerned she could not answer her frequently ringing phone. She KNEW it was the disappointed girl. Donna was more worried about her than her own predicament. Donna lay in that car for hours/days until she was rescued. As a result of the accident, Donna is still paralyzed from the chest down.

My children and her daughter are cousins. I married the older brother, she hooked up with the younger brother.

It had been years since I'd seen Donna. We were long overdue for a meeting. Sunday, we met at a half way point, coming an hour from opposite directions. We ate a late lunch (because I was late) at Long Horn Steak House. She was accompanied by her daughter, my sweet niece, Veronica, and also her home health care attendant, Melanie, who does an awesome job and is very personable. Eighty hours a week, she works with Donna. Kudos for the good care giving and friendship. I felt as if I knew Melanie.   

Donna has the same genuine smile and dynamic personality, even if the years have softened her voice. Her eyes sparkle and radiate joy. Her heart radiates love. She is an angel. Donna has use of her arms from the elbows down, but arthritis has crippled her hands. That doesn't stop her from strapping on a wrist fork and feeding herself.

Obviously she is a home town Cardinals baseball fan. Look at those fancy fingernails! I admired her many pretty rings; this one in particular. She removed it and handed it to me. "Here, it's yours. I want you to have it." Her selfless act brought tears. I tried to refuse, offered to buy it, but she insisted. I will treasure it always.

Two hours passed quickly. We shared life stories, old memories, and made some new ones. We laughed and reminisced... our younger girls came out in us old gals. I hope she enjoyed herself as much as I did. She has a devoted daughter, my sweet Veronica, and a caring family and support system. Nothing seems to get her down. I can't imagine being confined to a wheel chair, but Donna makes all of life seem easy. Lazy me, I think about exercise and complain about my flabby arms. Donna exercises her arms and proudly showed me how firm they are. She's been my incentive. If she can do it, I will, too.

I am so proud of my sister-in-law. She is an inspiration. While many would have given up or given in, Donna continues to give... to everyone she meets. I really do know an angel on earth. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

What should I do?

Decisions, decisions! Is it always about principle?

I have been writing for many years, and have received accolades from far and wide. I have written for publishing credits only. I have written for money, and even chocolate... yes I won a contest on the theme of candy, and part of the prize was my favorite dark chocolate.

I have ghost written stories, letters, poems and articles that resulted in prizes of complete wedding packages, a scholarship, and publication for money (for others.) I created an anthology for a publishing company, and I have published in more than two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

I have published for free for a cause, most recently on the topic of mental health to assist others. As a result of my words, I have been contacted by editors, publishers, friends and strangers in far away lands. I have made contacts and friends, and have helped others. I feel the need to give back, and I do. I present workshops, speak at libraries, conferences, and advise other writers.

I have been advised by well known authors that writers should never give their work away. I disagree. I have done so,  but this evening, I find myself reluctant to sign a contract. The misunderstanding is on my part. I mistakenly thought an acceptance came with a stipend as well as publication.

I made a decision based on the merit of my words, and I have to stand on conviction this time.
Have you ever withdrawn a submission. If I do not value my words...

Hope you are busy writing.


I inadvertently deleted a positive blog comment from the editor/publisher of the publication. Marc, please feel free to repost.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Six mug shots, and that doesn't include the newspaper clippings

Does the name Allen Funt ring a bell?
He was an American icon, a television producer, director, writer and television personality best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera.

TV's first reality show consisted of hidden-camera pranks when it aired in 1948. Camera crews headed to towns across the country, sometimes with assists from celebrities, on unsuspecting folks, then surprising them with the iconic phrase, "Smile! You're on `Candid Camera.' 

Versions of the show have played in every decade since; Peter Funt, Allen's son took over after his dad's death.

Candid Camera was one of my all time favorite shows. Many times in my life weird things have happened that made me suspect I was on Candid Camera, but actually every time I have been on television, it was always with my knowledge.

The first time I was featured on television was in the 1980s (when I had big hair.) The mother of two of my preschool students nominated me as a Class Act Teacher through our local TV station.  My classroom phone rang and a man said, "I'm calling from Channel 2 Newsroom. You have been selected to be interviewed as one of our class act teachers. I'm surprised I'm covering a preschool, because the contest is specifically for teachers of grades K through 12."

"Who IS this?!" I asked thinking someone was pranking me. Tom O'Neal convinced me he was the news anchor assigned to me and my classroom, and he was coming with a videographer the next day to spend a couple hours.

I was nervous, especially knowing I was on camera at all times. They interviewed two of my students— the child whose mom nominated me, and also a precocious little boy. Years later, I taught the same little boy's son. When the cameras weren't rolling, Tom and I made small talk about our teen daughters. Let's just say we had a lot in common, similar complaints.

The interview was pared down to a two minute clip which aired midweek and also on the weekend. They showed me in action teaching, and also discussing my teaching philosophy. I received mail from many. Email and cell phones were not in existence or the main communication devices then.

My next mug shot was with my last preschool's owner/director and several students. We were featured outside a newsroom window. The anchor came out and interviewed us about an upcoming community event in which we were involved. My mom called to say she saw me waving and smiling. I was wordless for a change.

Then when I started publishing in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, a media person from another local news channel inquired as to when three local, published CS writers and I would be available for a live on-air interview. We all went downtown and smiled for the camera and brief individual interviews.

My aunt made her husband take a photo of me speaking. She was so proud of me, she mailed me the picture. I was so nervous, I blinked my eyes way too much.

My next two TV spots were in my classroom while a film crew filmed me reading and doing actions to Chick-a-Chick-Boom-Boom with my students (shake your body.) They interviewed the owner about her one-of-a-kind school, which she founded specifically for children with food allergies. I received text messages and emails from many former students and moms.

My last TV appearance was a Mother's Day interview at another news station in town. The interview was to discuss a story I had published in The Ultimate Mom, 2008. 

Mama Left Her Hand Print is about the day our life insurance agent came to collect the premium for a policy. Mom asked me to tell him she wasn't home. So I did. "Mama told me to tell you she isn't home." Mama did leave her hand print...on my heart and soul, and in my story I enumerated the many ways.

The female news anchor was friendly and prepped me ahead of time. She asked me what I regretted most as a mom. I said, "Saying NO too many times. I wish I had been more flexible."

She wanted to go with that. She tried leading me several times, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember the word "FLEXIBLE." She finally had to say it, and then I agreed. Talk about a Candid Camera moment.

TV stations are no longer calling me. I wonder if I've been blackballed? 
 My mom's earthly birthday is coming up in a couple weeks. If you would like to read my story about us, I will gladly email it to you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Splishing and splashing

What a pleasant and unexpected surprise to receive a phone call from my granddaughter on Memorial Day in the evening. Ashley lives about 45 minutes away, and although we exchange children on a  parking lot each Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m., we are always in a rush and seldom have time for a leisurely chat. 

Years ago one of my teacher's aides used to say, "It's such a rushing world these days." She was nearing retirement, and her words didn't phase me then. NOW, I understand. 

Little mama in her third trimester, is expecting her third little boy in three months.
She asked where the sprinkler park is that Liam talks about. I gave her directions, and she and her family came  to our neighborhood for fun and games just before dusk.

 Alex loved splashing in the fountain. He was shivering and still wanted to do it again and again. What a giggler this little cutie is. He's quiet and very observant.
Daddy Justin and Ashley had fun in the sprinklers too. Ashley got soaked.
 Liam walked right up to a fountain spray and dunked his head, because he wanted to feel the hard spray on his hair. He laughed out loud! I hope he never loses his sense of wonder and discovery.
 He is such a curious little guy. He tried to catch the stream, stepped on it, sat on it. There is a button to press when the fountains stop. He frequently presses the button because he thinks he controls the flow. Oh to believe you have the power to move, catch, and control water. "That was a really good spray, buddy!" I encourage him, and he beams with pride.

When Ashley was seven, we were walking on the beach. She said, "Nana, I have a secret. I control the ocean waves. When I think slow thoughts, the waves roll in slowly. But when I think of fast things, like race cars, the waves come crashing in very fast."

"You are amazing!" I told her. And now I am telling her little boys how amazing they are. Time is flying. The sixth month of the year is upon us. It IS a rushing world.
I had the best time at the sprinkler park with my granddaughter and her family.
I am so blessed to be able to spend time with my little guys. SLOW DOWN, time.
Have YOU made any waves lately? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My heart was pounding!

Bill and I stood in the back yard yesterday morning and watched as a behemoth like this flew into our neighborhood with propellers/rotors/engine roaring. It kept descending behind our house. We were concerned there was a sick case and a neighbor was being airlifted to a hospital. We observed as the chopper headed down the block to the elementary school's open grassy area and landed.

ELEMENTARY school for goodness sake. NO! I couldn't imagine another horrific event. Not in my own neighborhood. It made me sick to think about what might be going on.

Then a police helicopter followed the same flight path. Out front a S.W.A.T. tactical vehicle, firetruck and other emergency vehicles pulled into the school parking lot. I shouted for Liam and swept Alex up and hooked him into the stroller and away we went.

I realized what it was, career day at the local elementary school. Thank God! What a fun way to end a school year. The students filed out of the building and visited the various community helpers and their vehicles, and I'm sure they learned a lot.

Liam and Alex and I sat at a picnic table and observed from afar. Quite a thrill and lots of excitement in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Honey, sweat, carpenter...they all have something in common

What a thrill to discover a honey bee flitting from flower to flower. I wish there were more, but we only found one. Bees are crucial to pollinating the tomato plants in my honey's garden. And we want a bumper crop of those luscious Big Boys.

Baby Alex is nine months old tomorrow and getting cuter by the day. He is such an easy going baby. His personality is developing, and he is becoming more vocal. His babbling is hilarious and his laughter is contagious.

I spied Liam examining the red bud tree in our front yard. Its purple flowers are now gone, and the leaves are growing. I asked him what he was doing and he replied, "I want to climb a tree." So I lifted him up to a big branch and let him cling for a moment, explaining most of the branches are too small and he would break them if he tried to climb the tree. He agreed to wait a while. 

So he investigated the ring of flowers under the tree. When he spied a tiny piece of greenery fall from the tree, he ran like crazy. He thought it was an insect. So, of course...
we had to go in search of live insects. We found ants and rolypolies, which have their exoskeleton on the outside of their bodies like many crustaceans, and that's why they need moisture. We found a smooth caterpillar which might have been a slug and `moved it to new chomping grounds far away.
To Liam's delight, we discovered a tiny sweat bee in a rose. We watched its activity and discussed what he knew about bees: they make delicious honey, and they sting. I stuck his arm with my fingernail and showed him how a sting might feel. We learned that only female sweat bees sting, and most of the time you can shoo them off your skin and they won't bother you at all.

We have carpenter bees on our patio. They like to devour wood. Someone on Facebook said they stuff a small paper bag with plastic bags and hang the small brown bag on their carport. The carpenter bees think it is a paper wasp's nest and skedaddle. Worth a try.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Everything is budding!

Longest winter ever is finally over. We had a week of spring weather, and I was so happy to get my flowers planted and see the buds on the rose bush and the purple buds on the red bud tree.

 And then a week later, summer weather nudged out spring, or rather elbowed it hard! The temperature climbed into the 90s. The warmer it got the more buds I saw on the rose bush. I whispered into the bush, "Please bloom on Mother's Day." And I woke up to this!
 Everything is growing and blossoming, even Liam and Alex's mama. Baby Colton will be here in August, scheduled C section two days before Alex's birthday. My daughter Tracey is Ashley's mama.
Look how big Alex is getting. He loves Nicole and especially her long hair. He reached up and grabbed it and giggled. My Mother's Day was fantastic. Almost all of our kids were here, and the house was crowded, and the food was yummy, and all the women made over Alex. 
Life is coming up roses! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

You still have time...

I babysit Liam and Alex on Tuesdays. Since they will be at their other grandma's on Mother's Day, I helped Liam make a gift for his mommy. We took it to her work and surprised her. 
The "girls" loved it.

When I did these with my students I used larger paper, and they prattled on and on telling family secrets. With Liam, I used a piece of  the 8"x11" stationery which my friend Lynn gifted me.

My students' perceptions often made me and their moms laugh or cry. I gave verbal directions to
those who didn't draw yet. "Make mommy a round circle face. Give her eyes, nose, mouth, and does she have ears or a neck? Hair? You can make a dress by making a triangle. Want to try? Young children usually draw arms coming out of heads because that's their perception from their eye level. They look up from our legs and see arms and head. It's a developmental stage of art.

So I asked, "Can you put sleeves in the dress so Mommy's arms can come out?" Then I asked probing questions: "Who is this? Is she young or old, and what number is she? How does she look? What does she do? What kind of mom is she? Do you do anything special with her?" Sometimes I didn't have to lead them at all. The highly verbal children prattled on and on, and often I couldn't write fast enough. Oh the things I heard!

A few years ago, the mom of one of my students loved her portrait and said, "My mom has one of these that I made for her twenty years ago." We made the connection through that unique little gift, that I had also been her teacher. Not many teachers spent so much time on such projects, but I had the foresight to realize they would one day be TREASURES. Since my granddaughter posted these photos on Facebook, I have heard from several of my former students and parents who still display their Mommy (or daddy) portraits, even though their kids are grown. That makes me so happy.

This is the simplest kid craft, and they look so beautiful. Materials used: a paper towel tube, two paper plates (painted green, I used a green bingo dabber) because the plate thickness works better than green construction paper, and 4"x4" tissue paper squares.

Cut paper plates in half, then slice strips 1/2 inch apart about 3/4 way down from the ruffled plate edge. Wrap with the straight edge down, and hot glue around towel tube in four tiers. Fold the strips downward, scrunch and glue on the tissue paper.

I used to collect plastic liquid detergent lids that came in all colors to use as the base, then hot glued the flower "stem" in. But I happened to have an old vase. A spritz of perfume scented the "flowers" and amazed the students. Mommies loved these. They make great gifts for grandma's too. For younger children, use toilet tissue tube and one plate, not so much scrunching for those little hands.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mothers of Angels, Special price, pre-publication sale

My story is included in this anthology collection. Forty-six years ago I lost a fetus after the birth of my daughter and before the birth of my son. Writing about losing my middle child was difficult as I relived the moments, but it was also cathartic.   

May's Book of the Month Sale - a pre-publication special for Mothers of Angels, due out at the end of the month.
One book for $9.99 - Save $6!
Or...two books for $19.98 - one for you and one to donate to a newly grieving parent.
Sale price only available through the author's web site. Books will be available on Amazon after June 1st.

Mothers of Angels
Regular $15.99
Sale price $9.99

Mothers of Angels is an anthology with reflections about living through the grief of losing a child. Twenty four authors open their hearts as they share the pain, loss, and grief that was thrust upon them. They also share the navigation process as they learn to love again and live life with a new normal.

The stories are meant to encourage and inspire other mothers of angels, and fathers and other loved ones, while also honoring the child whose loss forced us on this difficult and undesired road. As I and many of my friends that have lost children often say, “It’s a club none of us ever asked to join.”

Along with the stories and poems, various resources and tips are included to help comfort and guide grieving parents. We don’t want to be in this club, but we also want to be available to those that need a shoulder during the most horrific of life’s experiences.

Join us as we celebrate the lives of the children that left this earth too early. They left, taking chunks of our hearts with them, yet the love and their memories remain engraved on our hearts.

Mothers of Angels will be available at the end of the month. Take advantage of this Pre-Publication Sale and save $6. Regularly priced at $15.99, you can get your copy during May for only $9.99. (Plus $3.50 shipping)

We’re also giving away books to different organizations, as support for newly grieving parents. You can get your copy – and donate a copy for a grieving parent  - two books for only $19.98. (Plus $3.50 shipping.)

Books will ship at the end of the month, when received from the publisher.

 This sale is good only through the author's web site and doesn't apply to Amazon listings.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The sun is shining and the house is shaking

What does it mean when your house is shaking, and a small shelf  just fell off the wall?
Not an earthquake. No, the dryer isn't travelling across the floor.
The pavers are out front FINALLY laying asphalt down our county road.

Hooray! Little things really mean a lot. Now to go find some sturdy anchors to suspend my shelf.

Sometimes you have to shake things up before you realize what you should have done all along, such as install those little Molly devices that hold screws in the wall. I talked about it forever. Now that the shelf over my bed is on a pillow where I lay my head, I think I will get a move on and secure it.

Although I tend to work best under deadline, procrastination leads to my laziness. Truthfully I'd rather be sitting on the patio on my porch swing reading. But I must write, because today is the last day of April and I need to submit two more pieces to meet my self-imposed quota of seven submissions a month.

I hope you have a productive day.The sun is shining, and I am pining to get outdoors. 85 degrees tomorrow! I am delighted.

What are your plans for this week?  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

So long SASSY; hello CHARLEY

Originally I named this three year old cat Sassy. When he found us during winter, he was a terrified yowler who flinched at touch and snapped at hands coming toward his face.

 He has since developed trust, calmed down, and although he is still a sassy talker, his voice is less piercing and quieter, and he's become quite the lover boy. 

My granddaughter has decided not to name their baby Charley, (as Liam and I had hoped,) so now WE have a Charley. And he actually responds better to his new name.

Today I planned on telling you how sweet Charley has become since I gave him a bath last month. He did not resist and enjoyed it. He is more affectionate than ever, translation: pat me, touch me, hold me, PLEASE.

At night when we go to bed, he waits until we're snuggled under the covers, then he pounces up onto the bed, cautiously walks up to look at me, and meows softly. He walks over, gazes at Bill, and meows into his face, as if to say goodnight. Then he pads to our feet and curls up. I cover him with a small blanket. He sleeps the night.

At 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. he starts meowing softly, then a little louder. If I ignore him he walks up and looks into my face and gets increasingly noisier. I fake sleep, so he reaches over to the nightstand and does what he sees me do each morning. He reaches for my glasses. Sometimes I catch them before he sends them sailing onto the carpeted floor.

And so our day begins. I feed him a big breakfast, but he would eat all day if I'd let him. We researched his breed on line and discovered Charley is true to his DNA. This type of cat is VERY affectionate, always wants to eat, and 80 % of litter mates are males.

  Charley has been an inquisitive snoop and nincompoop this week.
He found a new perch and actually thinks he's hiding from me on a kitchen chair. He's been reaching on our desks to see what he can knock off: ink pens, papers etc. This morning he had fun catching fluttering butterflies.

They were just out of reach on an end table. Liam had been matching sizes using the butterflies I cut out from a decorative Kleenex box. Charley finally knocked them off, caught them as they fluttered down to him, and happily tossed them into the air. He has all sorts of toys to chew and chase.

 However, today he prefers MY things. He swiped seashells from the shelf behind him and knocked them all around. He found my pillow and attacked it. He's looking for trouble today.

I think Charley has spring fever. Do you have spring fever? I do.