Thursday, December 29, 2016

Did this make YOU smile or laugh?

 Taco Bell closed a few weeks ago, and the building is for lease. On Christmas Eve we saw this. I laughed out loud. The wind has been whipping viciously today and the sign ripped, but the last word is NAVIDAD. I have a warped sense of humor.  My kids said I just have a writer's mind. 

 I am in a writing lull and am deciding on whether I want to tackle the piles of papers and notes on my desk. Probably not today. Seems like a good task for New Year's Day.

This is one of my favorite photos of Liam and his mama. We took him to Six Flags to see the Winter Wonderland of Lights one night before Christmas. He loved the live Nativity stage show. When the donkey came down the aisle with "Mary" he said, "I ride that donkey, too?" 
Then he saw the camel and nearly jumped out of my arms. He knew for sure he was going to ride the camel, just as he and his daddy had done the week before at another nativity scene, The Way of Lights at Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.

We arrived late, so we only rode the large Ferris wheel which overlooks the park. Liam talked about it the next day, "We ride the big ride. The way up high ride, way-way high up."

I am so blessed to be able to see the holidays through his eyes. My daughter, his Nana, has an in home day care which he attends. She says he has been playing with a baby doll. He tells her there's a baby in mommy's tummy. She asked him if he wants a baby sister or brother. He replies, "A baby brother AND a sister." That is a distinct possibility as twins run in our family.

We'll know more in three weeks when Ashley goes to the doctor. Liam is going to be a wonderful big brother, and my daughter is going to be exhausted.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Big news in our little house Christmas day

My son Jason and daughter Tracey. 

 Bill and his daughters Robin and Michele.
 Liam had more fun wrapping himself in the ocean of wrapping paper and tossing it in the air.
His mama and daddy made a major announcement Christmas Day in a novel way...
 Ashley's mama and I read the message, and we screamed so loud, we nearly deafened her.
August 2017 Liam will be a big brother. He keeps saying it's a sister. We're hoping!

Nicholas, a freshman, will be 15 in a few weeks, and Sean, a senior, is 17. Look how tall these 6 ft guys are.
George, our volley ball pro is home from college, and he's grown so tall he can touch our 8 ft ceiling.
These are just a few of the photos taken at our house Christmas Day. We are blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

An oldie but goodie on the night before Christmas

If you've dropped by from Lisa's blog, click here to view my previous post, for a little face time with cutie, and a bit of inspiration. 

Contemporary Version of  'T Was the Night Before Christmas
 by Linda O'Connell

'T was the night before Christmas at the North Pole,
Old Santa was edgy, feeling quite droll.
Mrs. Claus was baking; the house smelled yummy.
Santa walked into the kitchen, sneaked up on his honey.

He reached for a snicker-doodle still warm on the tray.
Big Mama said, "No more! You've eaten two dozen today.
Your cholesterol is up, your triglycerides soaring,
absolutely no more, and I’m tired of your snoring.

"You’re going to have to start losing some weight.
And do you realize the time? It IS getting late."
Chubby old Santa said, "Oh, Woman, drat!
You’re always complaining about this or that.

"Where are my long Johns?" he dared to inquire.
"For Pete's sake," she said, "They're still in the dryer."
She wiped her hands on her apron and turned with a jerk
Mumbled under her breath, "It's all women's work!"

"Get dressed, dear old Santa, go hitch up the sleigh.
Get all the presents and be on your way."
Santa tugged on his suit, and as Mrs. Claus watched
he loosened his belt another notch.

" Do remember when you had a pillow-gut?"
"Yes, and back then, Mrs. Claus, you had a size seven butt!"
"Hrmph! I think you should leave now!"
"I think that I will, but first I need my cholesterol pill.

"Blood pressure pill and one for my arthritis,
another one for my sinusitis.
A Dramamine tablet so I won't get dizzy,
a calm-me-down pill, so I'm not in a tizzy.

"Vitamin C so I don’t sniffle and sneeze,
Asthma medication so I don’t hack and wheeze."
"Be on your way, Man! Get going; you're done.”
"Wait," Santa shouted, "I forgot just one."

He popped a Viagra, climbed into his sleigh.
"Ah, the miracle drugs they have today!
I'll be back in a jiffy," he smiled with affection
I have forty-eight hours to get a…"

"LONG WINTER'S NAP!" she exclaimed as he drove out of sight.
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Ho-ho-ho, and if you've read this far, I wish for you a very merry 
whatever-you-celebrate, mostly broken cookies, because all the calories fall out, and remember if you eat unbroken cookies, be sure to eat double, so the same amount of fat lands on both hips, otherwise you'll waddle when you walk.

Seriously, I wish you a wonderful holiday and blessings galore. Jesus is the reason for the season, and a family member's presence is appreciated more than their presents. Show someone you care. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It was a beary fun day.

Is this not the cutest little face you've ever seen? Liam was at his grandma Tracey's house.

 And do you think he would dare smile when he was seated on my lap? Of course not.

I took him to a neighborhood house decorated with hundreds of Teddy Bears and bear scenes.

We went home and watched a National Geographic movie, Santa Claus and the Arctic Animals. 

When we went to Wal-Mart later in the day, Liam saw the over-sized Teddy bears. He liked them from a distance. I put a big Teddy bear in the cart, thinking he'd be thrilled. When he discovered it, he said in a little squeaky voice, "No?" As I tried to coax him, his protests grew louder, No. No-No-No. NOoooooo!" The idea of the big Teddy bear was safer than the reality of it. 

Are you ever eager to attempt something, and then when you realize the gravity of the situation, do you back off, or reconsider? Thinking about it is different than actually doing it. Would you agree?

If we don't take risks and address our fears, how do we overcome them? As I always told my students, "Never say, ' I can't.' Always say, 'I can try.' "

Is there something holding you back? Something you would like to do, but are hesitant about? Step out in faith and at least make an attempt. Never read at an open mic? Give it a try. Considered submitting to publications and then thought they were out of your league? What's the worst that could happen? A big growly bear is not going to bite your head off. You might even find success instead of failure.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Well what would you do?

My little buddy had a bad experience yesterday. I made a chicken stew and decided to teach him a life lesson, and demonstrate love and kindness through sharing. I told Liam we were going to walk across the (seldom busy) four-lane street and bring some food to the elderly farmers, 89 and 92, who are no longer mobile and appreciate every visitor.

I gave him a red, light-up, holiday pen and a pad of paper so he could draw pictures while I visited. As I was juggling the food and the 2 year-old, he dropped his pen in the middle of the street. It was all I could do to keep him from darting back for it. Three cars came by; two avoided his pen, but the third one hit it and smashed it to smithereens. He was aghast. "That car breaked my red pen!"
I empathized matter-of-factly as we walked up the driveway. "I'm sorry, honey. When cars hit things they break."

We got the mail out of the box and took it inside to the gentlemen farmers who used to farm from sun rise to sundown.

Were they ever surprised and appreciative of the meal. Last week when we visited, Liam wouldn't speak to them and hid his eyes. They were so happy when he walked in and greeted them by name! He shocked me that he remembered their names. He handed them their mail and began talking a mile a minute. He must have repeated the story ten times. "That bad car smashed my red pen in the street."

They got the biggest kick out of him when he resolved the problem himself. "Well, that's okay. Nana buy me a blue one." We are on day 2 and he is still telling everyone he sees, "That bad car breaked my red pen in the street."

How do you handle disappointment? Are you resilient? Do you dwell on your loss? Focus on misfortune, or move on? An editor's rejection  is seldom an opinion about your writing. It's usually related to editorial needs at the moment. 

The lesson I intended to teach Liam turned into one for me.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

SNOW much fun at our house

Come on in for a visit.

# 1.   I have a love affair with snowmen at this time of year. I was thrilled beyond words when I spied this brand new snowman cookie jar from Kohl's still in its packaging for $3.00 at the Goodwill Store.
I already had the mugs. The tall cup is my coffee cup and the mug with a hat/lid is for my yummy peach or blueberry tea or hot chocolate. The cookie jar is filled with chocolate chip cookies, and the plastic ware is filled with yummy peanut butter cookies I baked early this morning.

#2. These are my very favorite snow people, a gift from my son and daughter-in-law years ago.

# 3.  That tall dude was made by my dude many-many years ago and has sentimental value.

 # 4. This snow family is animated but not my favorite. Their noses are Pinochio-size.

# 5. These stuffed puffs make me smile, remind me of happy days when the kids were little.

# 6.  This thrift store discovery appealed to me because they look like they're hand carved sculptures.

# 7.  If you look closely you'll notice a wooden, jointed moose sitting on the bench. It was a gift from my dearest, life long, late friend Sheila, who had a summer lake home in New Hampshire where moose roamed. Looking at that guy brings back so many memories. Our last time together, her husband drove us to Moose Alley hoping to see moose. We drove for hours on a deserted highway, but there wasn't a moose to be seen. We pulled into town to go to a restaurant, and an enormous moose came out of the woods, stopped in front of the car and looked right at us. A gift, of course.

# 8. Another grouping that reminds me of when my kids were small and winter was fun.

# 9.   I bought a cloth woven place mat that I think is whimsical, and I framed it. I love it!


 # 10.   Even Santa likes bubble baths. He's animated, kicks his legs, swishes his towel, and sings Splish-Splash I Was Taking a Bath, much to Liam's delight.

Which of these is YOUR favorite?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What does it for YOU?

I am thrilled to have received an acceptance from Sasee Magazine. My story about my son, his little boy, and me is going to be published in January issue. This story is special to my heart. Can't wait to share it with all of you.

 I look a bit worn in this photo, but I loved the lamp post. I'm not fond of having my picture taken, because I see all my flaws. Years ago when I was half my age and complained to my doctor about my crows feet wrinkles, he said, "You see wrinkles when your face is six inches from the mirror. No one else looks at you that closely. So your flaws will always be more obvious to you than anyone else." I like to think that's true.

This is the second week we attempted to visit with mall Santa, but Liam is still apprehensive. He did go close enough to get a candy cane, though. I think he has a sweet tooth like me. 
Made me think about life in general. What motivates or entices you or me to do anything? A little bribe? A reward? Self satisfaction? Do you have to coax yourself sometimes to do what you know needs to be done?

I am going to admit something here that I am ashamed of. Every time I took a break from writing yesterday, I reached my hand in the cookie jar... a dozen times. To be honest, it was a baker's dozen of those home made chocolate chip delights I devoured.

THE END, as Liam says when he reads a book. Sun is shining and I am going to go walk off a few cookies. Hope I don't work up an appetite. That would be my luck.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Did you ever notice the unexpected?

I see trains all the time and don't pay too much attention. But when I saw this long line of freight cars I had to take another look. St. Louis is a major Midwest hub for rail traffic. I guess I never thought about it. As I watched these cars pass by, it was a nice a little distraction from my sadness to see global trade of goods and transportation  in progress.  

I thank you for your kind words and condolences. This little guy sure knows how to get Nana out of a slump. He'd tickle my neck and then belly laugh. He did ask where Tweeny was when he came in, and I told him Tweeny was in heaven with Jesus and didn't live in our house anymore. He is so innocent and sweet. He said, "Aww, Tweeny, thank you Jesus, now Tweeny sees the butterflies."

In the summer I would tell him when he saw a butterfly to say, "Thank you Jesus for my eyes." He made the connection. Liam has a bad cold, so would appreciate prayers for a speedy recovery.

I am going to write a holiday story for my writer's group tonight, so I must get going. It's a haunting tale, and I am having fun with it. I hope you are writing also.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A gamut of emotions

My heart is broken. Hasn't been the first time and it won't be the last. It never gets any easier to lose a beloved pet. Kitty No-No, whose name was actually Tweeny, (named by the original owner's kids when he was adopted at age one by my son and his family from the Humane Society) crossed the rainbow bridge on Saturday.

He had been panting the past few days. We thought he was having nightmares. When he snoozed, his chest rose and fell heavily as though overexerted from playing or running. It became apparent even when he was awake, but he was never in distress. We took him to the neighborhood walk-in veterinarian, an older man, who has no diagnostic equipment in his little store-front office. He sent us immediately to the emergency hospital. 

Tweeny was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Ultra sound revealed only a small portion of his heart was functioning, and the left chamber was flacid and flapping, not filling. He never once complained, or seemed in pain. In fact he ate more and was more cuddly than ever. The doctor removed a lot of fluid from his lungs, but she said although he was no longer at risk for imminent death, his lungs would steadily refill. So we did what we had to do. We sent our 10 year old best buddy over the Rainbow Bridge.
 He lived with my son's family for six years, then when they moved away, we took him. He was our sweet boy for three years. Such a docile and sweet kitty, he loved "hiding" in a paper bag.
 He enjoyed watching his favorite show, the fish aquarium on Net-Flix. He always looked toward the floor when one of the fish swam downward and disappeared from view.

Last year, the Hershey Kisses holiday commercial, where the kisses ring We Wish You A Merry Christmas like hand bells, always got his attention. He'd come running, sit in front of the TV and watch it, turning his head this way and that. This year when he heard it, something in his memory triggered. He looked at me quizzically. He wasn't the brightest, but he was sure the sweetest and cuddliest.
He had a "relationship" with a chipmunk who scampers in front of our door and runs in and out of the bushes. Kitty would talk to the birds on the lawn, and he liked to look out the front door at passersby.

What he really liked was when Liam came through the door each Monday. At first he was jealous of him, and avoided him when he was little. Lately, he ran TO him instead of away from him, because he knew Liam would feed him his treats. At nap time, they would both curl up on the bed. I dread having to tell his little buddy tomorrow.

I'm going to miss him sleeping at my feet, meowing for his breakfast, and following us around the house. He had to be in the same room with us. And his favorite place to snooze was between Bill's legs in his recliner with the foot rest raised.

Tweeny was loved so much. He will be missed, and I know the ache will eventually ease, but right now, our eyes are red and our emotions are raw.

Blog friend Claudia is still hospitalized trying to recover from surgery, and will be there a while. That is all anyone knows right now. I appreciate your prayers and concern for her well being. Cancer took another friend and fellow writer, Mary Hughes, last week, and a high school buddy was recently diagnosed with cancer.

On a happy note, my doctor walked in the exam room and said, "You sure look good on paper!"

Of course it would have been better to hear her say, "Wow! For an old broad you look great." But I knew she was talking about physical exam results. Haven't shrunk at all, and am maintaining my blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. I told her I'd prefer to lose 20 pounds. She said, "But for your age, your BMI is within the norm, so you're okay." My lab results all improved, and I am not on any prescription medications.

She asked if I regularly exercise. I told her about 3-4 times a week I walk briskly up and down the aisles at either Wal-Mart, Sam's or Costco. She nodded, and then this evil little grin crossed her face and she said, "But do you stop at every little freebie booth for a handout?" I smiled and lied, "No, my husband does." She laughed.

I have a lot to be thankful for, especially your readership and kind words. Winter is about to nip at  my nose and toes here in St. Louis. Stay warm if it's cold where you are.