Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

 Didn't even consider trademark infringement... 
and we had so much fun 35 years ago!
Our children were young. We were next door neighbors. We worked a week on those heads. We used oversized balloons, paper machae`d them and allowed them to dry at Rose's house, then we painted them.

Rose and I had a blast that Halloween trick-or-treating with the kids. People would stop us and take our picture. We went into neighbors' homes and shocked the women as we acted a little too familiar and frisky with their husbands. We received more candy than the children that year. One of my fondest memories of my late friend Rose.

Now hop on over here and see what Kathe had to contend with...and it wasn't even Halloween when her kids spotted the costumed witches.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Who are you gonna call? YOU know who!

White Ghost is a take off of a favorite children's book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
 I used a large sheet of construction paper, placed the child's forearms and hands on the far edges of the paper and drew around them. Then I used the remaining paper as the ghost. I drew lines for them to practice their cutting skills. Last I cut out and glued the arms on and interlocked the fingers. We chanted, "White ghost, white ghost what do you see?" They opened the arms wide and told me a color or shape that I had drawn inside on their hand prints. "I see a red triangle looking at me."
 I sent this home as a fun family game.
 It wouldn't be Halloween without a little ghost play. I prepared a sheet of paper with letters A-F for each student, and covered the papers and the table with clear adhesive. Next I put a shaving cream ghost in right hands and left hands, and the children finger painted with their ghosts, covering up their letters. I would shout a letter/sound and they'd have to uncover it. What fun!
The 3 year olds opened the class pumpkin, but first, we guessed what could be inside. Someone thought a ghost, but most knew it was seeds. We took turns inserting our hands and removing the seeds. When someone said, "I don't want to!" I replied, "Ewww! Neither did I. Look how messy my hands are, but we will wash them off, and then we'll make pretend pumpkin seed soup, so please get your seeds. WOW! You got a big handful. You tried! Look at your seeds!" While recognizing feelings and encouraging them to try new things instead of accepting an automatic no, everyone decided to reach inside. This activity generated lots of language and vocabulary: icky, sticky, wet, slimey, cold, yuck. The water play with small cups, spoons, ladles and colanders led to a fun sensory experience that lasted for half an hour for some of the children.
And because this is the season for ghosts, who are you gonna call?
This car pulled up across the street at a small automotive repair shop.
                                 Now, I would say that was my Halloween treat! Wouldn't you?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Did I ever tell you about the time...

I still get a flush thinking about how embarrassing it could have been at the book launch party when Dianna Graveman and I released and promoted Not Your Mother's Book...On Family, and Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Mom, (Publishing Syndicate).

I was so nervous and excited as we greeted patrons outside StL Books in Kirkwood, MO, I wanted to raise my arm pits to the gentle evening breeze on July 15th. But, I didn't. Like Anne Lamott, I must have lipstick on. I discreetly reapplied frequently, then stuffed the tube back into my teeny tiny sweater pocket.

At the specified time, we invited everyone indoors for a raffle and readings. I stood at the entrance, and as the throng proceeded into the small bookstore I smiled, nodded, greeted; repeated...and then I felt it! Panic set in, and I almost lost it (literally). I saw Lynn's adult daughter, Jessica, making her way through the line and mouthed HELP ME? I hugged her as if we were old friends, even though I'd only met her recently. She looked surprised when I leaned in and whispered in her ear.

"Please, do me a favor. Bend down and retrieve my cellphone which has been making its way from my waist inside my slacks, and is traveling down my leg. It's almost at my ankle, and will be exiting at any minute."

She laughed, and without missing a stride, bent down, grabbed my phone and handed it to me. I owe that young lady a latte`.

StL Books in Kirkwood, on the corner of Kirkwood Road and W. Jefferson, has Not Your Mother's Books available, so if you are looking for a gift, want to chuckle at the humorous collections of short stories, or would like to support local authors, please stop in, purchase a book or two and say hello to Robin and her family. Tell them Linda and Dianna sent you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another candle on her cake

Nicole celebrated her 7th birthday. She loved the cake I made for her. I told her the big ghost on top was her daddy, and one was her mom and another was her brother. She said, "Yeah, and I see me!" She pointed to the witch. 
She is so proud of her new room. She chose the color.
I love how the sun is shining in through the blinds.
I am so proud of my sweetie. She and I both wear glasses now.

I cannot believe how big her 12 year old brother, Nicholas, has grown. 
Time sure is flying by. Seems only yesterday they were babies. I feel so blessed.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Grammy's little pumpkin

My granddaughter, Ashley, and her hubby, Justin, and baby Liam went to the pumpkin patch today. He loved the hayride.
But wasn't too sure about sitting in the hay.
He has recently discovered his hair. When he takes his bottle, he rubs his left hand all over his downy hair. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen.
If you want to see a funny video of him, which made my students laugh and laugh, click onto this Facebook link, and  you can watch what he did. It's a little over one minute.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Medusa has nothing on her!

What makes us say and do these things?
It was another day of belly laughing. I had a two hour lunch with a dear friend. She is hysterically funny, has a wonderful and sometimes warped sense of humor. She said she is concerned that on the verge of her fiftieth birthday, she just might be on the verge of menopause.
"What ARE hot flashes? I don't think I've ever had one. Everything in the lady department seems to be regular. But I think it's menopause causing my erratic symptoms."

"Well, then, what are your symptoms?" I asked.

"This crazy snake lady comes out of my head, (she entwined her hands overhead like she was doing the Flamenco), wraps around anything or anyone that gets in my way and makes me say things I would never say. I am losing my filter."

I told her that I'd read somewhere that elderly Native American women are forgiven all of their foibles. They can get away with saying anything after menopause.

"Since my husband lost his job, he tends bar sometimes at an upscale restaurant. I am not jealous. I knew he would be out late, so I went to bed. During the night our six year old had climbed into bed with me. When he rolled over and plowed into my gut, I sat up and looked at the clock. This snake-head lady erupted out of my head. I dialed my husband's cell phone. He answered after a few rings and sounded groggy (or drunk). I tore into him. 'Do you know how unfair it is of you to make me worry like this? A phone call is all I ask for. There are only two places you could possibly be at this hour, either at a bar or at someone's house. It is 2:30 in the morning and all I want is the truth from you. Where the hell are you?!' "

Quietly, he replied, "In the other room, trying to sleep in our son's small bed."

We were laughing so hard and loud, gasping for air. The manager at Panera Bread Company walked over to us, and when he saw that he did not have to dial 911, he feigned interest in removing our dishes. I teach preschool, and I know the art of distraction vs. confrontation. I'm sure he would have urged us to take it down a notch or leave, except he caught a glimpse of the snakes unfurling from our menopausal heads.

Care to share your embarrassing moment? Laughter is good for the system as long as you're wearing a discreet wet your pants pad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What happened to you?!

A precocious, pie-faced, blue-eyed, four-year old boy walked up to me and stared.
"Hey, Miss Linda, your new hair color is darker."

"Yes, I got my hair cut and colored."

"SO, I guess they left the color on a little too long?" He looked puzzled.

"Well, it is darker. What do you think of my new hair?"

He walked around me giving me the once over. "I like it! I REALLY like it."

He redeemed himself. One day, that little boy is going to make the headlines, the girl's blush, his mama cringe... the big times. He reminds me of one of the Little Rascals.

He was merely making an observation, so I didn't correct him. My philosophy has always been, children should be seen AND heard. I've heard it all.

If you are a writer, it is important that your character's voice be heard, too. Do you censor your characters or allow them to speak, unfiltered?


Monday, October 20, 2014

It was no masked man

Damn Sam! I held my breath and tried not to move a muscle at 3:30 a.m. when I heard an intruder in the bedroom poking around in my jewelry on the dresser. He who snores loud enough to wake the dead was silent and on the far edge of the queen size bed. I wanted to reach over and poke him to see if he was breathing, but I knew he'd be all goofy upon waking: HUH?WHAT? and probably get us shot. I lay quietly in the pitch dark as the robber rummaged, making his selection. My heart was thumping wildly, and I had to pee so badly. And then I saw him. He thumped all 17 pounds of his fat butt down with a thunk, dragging a necklace across the floor and set off the bathroom motion-activated night light.
Fifteen minutes after his reprimand he assumed this position and snored worse than you know who.
"Yeah!" I said, "Sleep you goofball, now that I'm wide awake."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tripping around town and quick thinking

Guess where I took my class today.
We went to a pumpkin patch. I have been taking students on field trips to Stuckmeyer's Farm for many years. After several days of rain, the sun came out, and the temperature climbed. It was a beautiful day for a hayride through the growing fields. It is amazing to see corn on the cob growing on a stalk, or broccoli and cauliflower growing out of the ground. We also saw cute wooden cartoon displays tucked among vegetables and along the creek bank. We found Dumbo hovering overhead.
Does anyone know what this is?
It is a corn apple. When Kyle, who is 21, was two years old, he asked for an apple. I peeled it and he threw a tantrum. He wanted a RED APPLE.

I thought fast. "Buddy, I don't have any red apples, but I do have a corn apple if you want to taste that."

I coaxed him with the same peeled apple with two corn on the cob holders inserted in top/bottom and he ate it all gone. Thereafter, he requested corn apples.

When you have toddlers you have to think on the fly, or the pot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A little something for my fellow writers

A wonderful website for all my writer friends:
You can spend a long time here. Have fun.

Thank you for the cat names. I think we have decided to go with Friskee because he is the laziest old boy you've ever seen. Like calling a huge guy,Tiny.

Mevely we also liked Sweeney, so you get the book. Send me contact info at and I'll give you your title selection.

Kathy, kudos to you for taking your dad's cat.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Name the cat; win a book

We have adopted my son's eight year old cat because he did not make the adjustment when he went back home after being with us for five months. We went to visit him a week later and he was crouched under the bed, terrified of the dog and rambunctious kids he grew up with. He'd been under the bed all week. I couldn't stand seeing him so traumatized, and when Bill looked under the bed and saw him shivering, wide-eyed, he nodded. I scooted the cat out with a broom and he ran right to me and rode home in my arms.

He's home. He became accustomed to a quieter lifestyle, and must have wondered where the heck he was (they built a new home) and where we had gone. When I put him down in our house, he purred and rubbed against everything. He would not leave us alone. I'm sure it was his way of thanking us.

He's a big fat cat, with a hang down belly, although he looks smaller in the picture above. No matter how quietly I sneak down the basement stairs, he hears me and comes bounding after me with thump-thump-thump. He wants to be near us. Climbs on one of the office chairs to be next to me. He's a sweety boy.

He's so easy going, maybe even a bit slow in his processing, but he loves his toy mice and tosses them. He also likes to leap and catch a stretchy band toy. He's OURS.

I need your help. When my son and his family adopted him as a kitten from the Humane Society, they kept the name he'd had from his previous family. TWEENY sound silly. We've tried calling him Buddy, but he only responds to that high pitch "EE."

So, who has an idea for his new name?

Bill, who babies him to excess and sweet talks him, and takes him outside to sit with him and brush him on the patio table, calls him Queeny. I have called him Twinky, but I would sure appreciate YOUR ideas.

If I choose one of the names you suggested, I will send you a Chicken Soup for the Soul book or Not Your Mother's Book. GO!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

25 years ago I influenced a doctor

 Nana's girl, Ashley Anne was born to my daughter on Oct.12, 1989. Tracey was forced to deliver a couple weeks early and was induced in the afternoon. I lied to her all day as her contractions worsened and the numbers climbed...I told her they were half the intensity and coached her to breathe. At 11:30 p.m. I coaxed her to work harder, because if she had a Friday the 13th baby, I said I would call her Freddie or Jason.
I told the doctor we didn't want a Friday the 13th baby. At 11:48 he tried to plunger her out, but no success. I nagged and nagged. At 11:58 he tried again, and at one second after the stroke of midnight on Oct. 12th she was born. The nurse who recorded the birth shouted, "12:00.01 a.m. Friday, October 13th." I shot the doctor a look, and he said, "It's not Friday the 13th until one minute after the stroke of midnight. Record her birth as October 12th." We exchanged smiles.
Yes, we were once young, thin, so in love with one another and our first grandbaby. We are no longer young and thin, nor do we have natural color in our hair. This baby has given me more laugh lines. She was very bright and precocious with an above average vocabulary.
This is Nana's girl with her baby boy. I am so proud of the woman Ashley has become and the accomplishments she has made so far. She was raised by her mom, my mom, me and Bill. She had a lot of positive influences, and I know Liam will too, with all of us, his daddy, and his daddy's family doting on him.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monsters everywhere...

Preschoolers can be messy, mouthy little monsters.
This is a craft that is so easy to do. Draw a monster on paper, add a few drops of food coloring, give the child a straw and have them blow the liquid. This is the perfect time to recognize and address fears and talk about how monsters are not real. I bring in a scary monster mask and tell the children the only real monsters are on Sesame Street: Cookie Monster etc. I allow them to try on the mask and look in a mirror. Usually they giggle.

I address parents with a note about why kids are so messy. They don't have the motor control of an adult, therefore, they have lots of spills. Why they are so mouthy: they are declaring their independence. Even when we don't like their behavior, we love the child.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Three and four year old authors? REALLY?

My preschoolers are storytellers, and that's a good thing. I believe literacy is a gift that can be instilled at an early age. When children see their words in print and realize their teacher or parent is reading a story they wrote (dictated), they are interested in adding details to their next story.

I start by showing them an interesting picture, and I say, "Tell me a story about this." Immediate reactions are generally, "I can't!" or, "I don't know."

I reply, "Sure you can. It's not MY story. It will be YOUR story. You get to make it up. Pretend. Use your imagination."

Amazingly, after I ask them the five "W" questions: who, what, why, where, when, the three year olds can stay on topic for three related sentences. If they get stuck, I ask, "Then what happened? Tell me more?"

The four and five year old pre-kindergarteners add rich details, learn to describe and create dialogue. This story project was done by a little boy who will be four next month. The kids think they are just twisting tissue paper, but actually they are strengthening hand and finger muscles that will make them good printers. By the end of the year I can see the future writers in my class just by looking in their story folders.

This fall tree was made by cutting off the bottom of a lunch bag and twisting half way up, then cutting the top into 1/2 inch strips and twisting each. Scrunch up 3 inch squares of tissue paper and glue on the branches.  Vocabulary enrichment: branches, trunk... and so much more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

She was no Julia

Did I ever tell you about my late friend, Millie, who was married 37 years when her husband divorced her?
She worked at a big corporation in town and after a year of not dating, she invited a male coworker to dinner. She bought steaks and made a salad and baked two potatoes. When he arrived, she placed the steaks in the broiler and went in the living room to entertain him. Fifteen minutes later she went to check on the steaks, but they were still raw. The oven was hot; after all she had baked the spuds. She told her date it would be a little longer. Another fifteen minutes passed, and she hustled off to the kitchen, opened the broiler door and peered inside at the still-pink meat. She went back to the living room looking confused.

"I don't understand why the meat's not cooking. I can feel the heat, and I have the broiler set to 500 degrees."

Her friend accompanied her to the kitchen, opened the oven door. Blast furnace air escaped. He closed the door. Looked at Millie confused, and said, "Where ARE the steaks?"

"In the broiler drawer, down there," she pointed.

He opened the storage drawer and found the raw steaks resting on the broiler tray.

They laughed themselves silly. But it was really embarrassing to my friend, and she begged him not to tell coworkers. Of course he did.

Since her divorce, she had mainly used her microwave and had barely heated water or fried an egg on her new stove. She had no idea the broiler was inside the oven door and not under the oven like her old stove.

I incorporated this incident into a fiction story which was published a couple years ago.

Pays to always read directions, and if you are a writer, it is important to carefully follow submission guidelines. Agree? Or are you a rule breaker?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Who needs a dozen pairs of pajamas anyway?

Great grandson, Liam, who is 3 1/2 months old eased me over a rough spot yesterday.

It was my best friend's funeral in Boston. Sheila developed brain cancer in 1989, the year my first grandchild, Ashley, who is Liam's mommy, was born.

I'll never forget that phone call.  My first words to Sheila when she told me she had a cancerous brain tumor were, "Are you KIDDING me? Tell me you are. My neighbor, Vicki, just suffered a brain aneurysm. Not YOU too?!" (Vicki survived.)

"I wish I was kidding." Her voice was flat, my questions many. My heart was racing.

When she told me her prognosis: 2 years survival, I held my breath and didn't exhale for those next two years, it seems. I wrote her once a week, even when her letters were not reciprocated during that time as she dealt with chemo, radiation, depression and fought valiantly.

She went into remission, and in 1993 came for a visit with her husband to meet my guy who was so much in personality like her. We had glorious and fun vacations together from then on. She came for a visit four years ago for her 60th birthday. It was a bittersweet week, as she was fading fast.

Sheila made medical history. She survived 25 years. Her physician Dr. Jorge Dietrich took excellent care of her and now does brain research at Massachussets General Hospital.

I was blessed a few weeks ago. She fell and broke her elbow and was in hospital because her surgery had been postponed a day. Her family put her on the phone, and her voice was strong, her mind alert. We had a real conversation. Usually she was weak and confused on the phone. It was a gift, I tell you.


Saturday was blustery cold. A day I equally dreaded and looked forward to for a week. The temperature was in the 40s and 50s, but my daughter and I were determined to weather the weather with little Liam bundled up in a stroller. A nearby high school sponsors an annual outdoor Baby Mania sale. No babies for sale, but some of the mamas there would have considered giving their wailing babies away for a few minutes. There were so many.

The parking lot was filled with over a hundred vendors selling every gently used item a baby would ever need.The gusting wind unexpectedly powered baby strollers, causing moms to chase after their offspring. It sent tents and tarps toppling, and toys and clothing skittering off tables and across the black top.

We bought Liam's winter wardrobe: pants, long sleeve shirts and onesies, three pair of cute little shoes; a soft pair of Nikes, a suede pair of moccasins and Winnie the Pooh light blue cloth lace ups. We bought him a dozen pair of footie jammies. He's set.

I also bought Liam's next year's birthday present, a brand new set of Playskool blocks and cars. I think toys that allow children to use their imagination are the best.

 My daughter purchased items for her new day care, which she will set up soon in her home. You should have seen us stuffing the car.

As we were driving away, I saw a young police officer friend and shouted, "Hi Charlie. I'm loaded with baby stuff."

He tipped his fingers to his mouth and moved his hand back and forth. "Loaded? You must be; you're exiting out the entrance." He laughed.

Oops! We laughed all the way home. My daughter and I had a great day, shared the baby, ate a yummy lunch, and then we dumped our treasures out and went through them like they were Christmas presents.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Will you look at that!

Oh my, the things you see when you least expect it. I have seen two things in two days that I wish I hadn't.

Yesterday, my coworker and I went to lunch at a small pizza parlor. We were finishing up when an  African-American woman (about 50) walked in with a heavy set white woman and man guiding her by her shoulders. They all stood at the counter to place an order. She scanned the dining area, spied two burly, blue-color workers, older guys, sitting at a table an arm's length away.

"Well, helloooo!" She shouted, leaned back, squinted, and tried to focus on their faces. They nodded and bellowed hello.

My coworker and I got up to leave, and were taken aback by the woman's backside. She was letting it all hang out in short-short ripped jeans that were two sizes too small.

As I walked by the men, I raised my eyebrows and subtly nodded in the woman's direction. I mouthed, "OH MY!"

The guys said, "Uh-huh!"

I wonder... do you think she was there to buy or sell?

Today the police pulled up out front and then a hearse pulled into our neighbor's driveway two doors down. I don't know the details, but I do know it was the gentleman about my age who passed away, because his wife, a teacher, was outside crying.

Have you seen anything this week that seared an image?