Friday, August 25, 2017

Liam, Alex, and Harvey

The big brother is getting too big. 
Liam has been very helpful with his little brother and wants to kiss him all the time.

Well who wouldn't want to kiss this cute little face? He is such an alert baby. He looks like his mommy's baby picture here. Going to be another smart one.

Keeping all those in the path of hurricane Harvey in my prayers. This looks like a devastating one. Just heard 20,000 people on several cruise ships are unable to head in to Galveston and cruise lines are making accommodations. Many folks on board are concerned their cars parked at port will be washed out to sea. I can't imagine 36 inches of rain after Harvey makes landfall and then spins around again. Stay safe, folks.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...or DOLLARS

Saturday we celebrated two lives.

Paw-paw Bill is celebrating a milestone birthday, and baby Alex was introduced to all of his relatives.

Naturally the women and little girls hovered over the four-day-old baby. One little six year old girl (like an adopted granddaughter) held him, and whispered in awe, "Go get my mom! Go get my dad! Go get everyone. I can't believe this!" It was such a thrill to see everyone having such a fun time. We have a small ranch house, and our living room (furniture and floor) was covered with mostly big kids sprawled wall to wall... and as you can see, Liam's popsicle sticks.

Kyle who is 24 let all the little kids climb on his back when he was on the floor. What a good sport.

 George, 20 years old, is home from his college internship at University of Alabama and will be heading back to New York for his junior year at Vassar.

He has always loved babies, ever since he was a baby. Just look at the joy on his face as he held Alex for the first time.

Nicholas, 16, our la cross champ, insists on wearing his hair in this "flow" style like the  professional players. I think it looks pretty cool. Parents don't always agree with grandparents. Nick is a softie for babies, too. Just something about these big guys bonding with their newest cousin that touches my heart.

But THIS is the picture that brings me to tears.

 Ashley texted me this photo and said, "I am so in love with him, I think my heart will break."

And speaking of breaks... I'd really rather not tell you about what broke my heart on Tuesday evening. My daughter pulled onto the parking pad behind my car in our drive way. She left adequate space between our cars. We waited for the phone call which we knew would be coming any moment. At 6:00 p.m. Ashley called and said, "The doctor said you have one hour to make it here before I deliver."

We rushed out to MY car, buckled Liam into his car seat. I started the engine, threw the car in reverse floored it, and plowed right into my daughter's MUSTANG! My car is much worse than hers. 

Talk about a Keystone Cops episode! I will certainly have a story for Alex when he's older.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

And baby makes four.

 This was how my precious granddaughter Ashley and her husband Justin looked one month ago.  

Ashley was in labor all day Tuesday at WORK! Contractions 3-5 minutes apart. (KIDS!) She left work an hour early, drove home 50 miles, (KIDS!) met her husband when he walked through the door, and off they drove  back 50 miles to the hospital. Baby Alex arrived at almost 38 weeks. If she had carried him to due date, Alex would have been almost 10 lbs, like his big brother, Liam.

This photo of our latest little blessing, Alexander Scott, and Mommy was taken on August 16, 2017 when he was one day old. He's a sleeper and a keeper! Ashley said, "I couldn't imagine loving another baby as much as I do Liam, but Nana, I do. I love him SO much." Bless those hormones!

Alex weighed 8.3 pounds and was 21 inches long, alert and calm, turned his head toward mommy's voice, and latched on like a pro. He is a smart one, like his big brother, Liam. And did I say CUTE?!

 Liam observed him from afar. I sat Liam on the bed with his mom and placed baby in his arms, but Liam cried. He was afraid of him. Last evening, during visiting hours, Liam brought Baby Alex a blue stuffed animal fish (tossed it to him!) and wanted to hold his brother. 

He told his Nana Tracey earlier in the day, "Baby Alex is so cute, and he's so little. And he's MINE!" 

I think Liam likes him!

My daughter, Tracey, has an in-home day care center. She is ecstatic. When Ashley goes back to work, Tracey will be able to snuggle, cuddle and kiss Alex, to her heart's content, just as she does Liam. The kids in her care call her Miss Tracey. Liam addresses her as MY Nana.

 I am absolutely in love again. This photo was taken minutes after his birth. Someone observed, "I think he looks like Paw-Paw Bill. How can that be?!" Paw-paw isn't blood related, but he sure has been a positive influence and will be a wonderful great-grandpa, again. 

He and Liam are best buddies. Paw-paw Bill sneaks him Oreo cookie thins. At the hospital, as we waited  for the birth, Bill did a little magic and pulled an Oreo cookie from behind Liam's ear.

Last evening Bill stayed home when I went to the hospital. Liam asked, "Nana, would you look behind my ear and see if Paw-paw left another cookie?" I said, "He did! He sent it to you in my purse."

Liam told all the visitors about Paw-paw Bill's magic. LOL God bless these little boys.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Watching the cherubs and waiting for an eviction

Here I sit, waiting, anticipating...
My honey and I went to lunch today and sat out on this lovely patio.

I enjoyed watching and listening to this fountain with cherubs. I sent up a little prayer for Nana's girl and Baby Alex, Liam's unborn baby brother.

 Little mama and expectant daddy are mighty discouraged. Ashley worked yesterday and had steady contractions all day. I went to the doctor with her after work. Okay, it's more like I dropped in unexpectedly and got the evil eye. But she did indulge me and allowed me to come into the exam room. I may have been a wee bit exuberant when the petite, sweet, young, female obstetrician asked, "So how are we doing?" I replied, "We're having a baaaaaabyyyy."

My baby rolled her eyes and grinned.

Doctor examined her and said if the pains worsen and are continuous she should go to the hospital. Meanwhile, she was directed to go home and eat a good meal, then put her packed  bag in the car. Baby Alex was as uncomfortable as Ashley. At one point she saw the imprint of his foot as he gave her belly a swift kick. Ashley read somewhere that pineapple has properties that can induce labor. She ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Maybe there's something to it, because that got the action going.

I started Alex's baby journal last evening, wrote that I thought I might meet him in a few hours. Hours passed. Day turned to night. Night gave way to today. Contractions intensified. Ashley woke at 4:00 a..m. dreaming of having a baby. She was in the throes of a hard contraction. She got up and got ready for work. (KIDS!) and by the time she got to work, her contractions ceased. Completely.
She's so disappointed, she said she's ready to cry.

I'm thinking of running to the grocery store for a fresh pineapple. To heck with the canned stuff.

UPDATE: (According to her Facebook post, since lunch: contractions three minutes apart. She may have eaten pineapple for lunch.)

Daddy Justin didn't get much sleep, and he probably won't for awhile. Alex's scheduled delivery date is 8/24. We thought sure he was going to escape sooner. Send some positive vibes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Just down the road... a step back in time

A hop and skip and jump from downtown St. Louis, MO is a quaint little town known for its huge crowds at the Apple Butter Festival in the Fall, Strawberry Festival in summer, and Witches Night Out at Halloween. If you've never been to Kimmswick, MO and you prefer less crowds, go during the week. You might encounter a tour bus or two unloading in front of The (homey) Blue Owl Restaurant. But the town is less crowded than on weekends.

After a yummy meal at any number of restaurants, you can take a walk back in time. That's what a dozen of my relatives and I did recently when five generations, ages three through 87 strolled the small town.

Mr. Kimm bought the property which is just South of St. Louis in 1984. The town of Kimmswick was incorporated in 1871. This little, historic river town consists of many small stone buildings. The  former residences have been converted to shops which sell everything from candles, and lace, to apple butter, mile high pies, and unique arts and crafts.

As we strolled past the post office, we met Mary Oster, the personable post mistress of Kimmswick Post Office.
She explained that the mail originates from St. Louis' Downtown Main Post Office.  The U.S. Postal Service delivers the mail for the 100 or so Kimmswick residents to the U.S. Post Office in Imperial, MO, a few miles up the road. Imperial P.O. delivers the mail to the old fashioned little post office in the town of Kimmswick. A step inside made me feel as though I were in a Norman Rockwell painting.

I assume Mary Oster knows everybody in town, and I'm certain she has many friends. She has a bubbly personality, and a flair for decorating. After a brief conversation I felt like I'd known her forever. She's one of those people who have never met a stranger. Look at her winnining smile.

When I lived in Alaska, this is exactly the way our daily mail was delivered... into individual post office boxes. I felt like I had stepped back fifty years in time and was picking up my mail from P.O. Box 157. I loved receiving letters from home. My mom sometimes stuffed a dollar or two into her letters. I made a beeline to the general store to purchase a package of chocolate cookies. The post office in Delta Junction was no bigger than this one in Kimmswick, MO. I certainly experienced deja`vu.

Mary came out to collect the mail from the postal box. She invited my cousin, Jeffrey, to help Liam and his cousin, Benjamin, choose a book from the little free library. She told them they could have a book to keep. What a thrill for the boys who are 4th cousins, I think.
 The Kimmswick P.O. Building was established more than 100 years ago.

If you would like to learn more about this town, which is about half an hour away from downtown St. Louis, click on the link and learn all about the town's history and upcoming events. If you happen to drop by the post office, tell Mary, Linda sent you.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Almost a decade later... never too late!

What a pleasant surprise! 

I went out to get the mail today and discovered a large manila envelope with a return address from Leesburg, Virginia. I don't know anyone from there, so I ripped it open and discovered a book: Rhyme On Adult Poetry Writing Contest 2017, by Symington Press.

I read the acceptance letter. I had submitted this poem back in April to Luodoun County Public Library contest, and I had forgotten about it. I assumed it had been rejected. 

They received 76 entries and published 20. Mine won in the humor category.

I wrote this about Nicole when she was a baby. She's all grown up, now, and soon to be ten.

Replica of Me

My little baby granddaughter somewhat resembles me.
Her big blue eyes are sparkly; mine look tired as tired can be.

She has a double chin like mine; hers you want to nibble.
Mine hangs loose and fleshy and catches all my dribble.

My little baby granddaughter has a roly-poly belly.
Hers is soft and solid; mine is just like jelly.

I love her many dimples, and I love her baby sighs.
My dimples look like lemon peel up and down my thighs.

My little baby granddaughter is as cute as cute can be.
When I look at her, I see a perfect little me.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Where you going, honey, and what do you have there?

In all our years together, I have never experienced anything like this. This was a first with my honey.

He woke at 2:00 a.m. got out of bed and stood up with his arms extended, palms up, as though carrying something fragile. He rummaged around in the bathroom closet, walked into the study, flipped on the light, and bumped into the tall book case. Flipped off the light, walked (arms still extended) into the hall, spied me in the bathroom with the door open and said, "Excuse me, ma'am, I thought there was another bathroom on this floor."

I said, "Use the bathroom in our bedroom." He looked very confused. I asked what he was holding and he replied, "A baby dragon on a plate. They said the guard wanted it for his kid. I'm trying to find the guard."

That is enough of his Sci-fi TV viewing before bedtime!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Math was never my strong point.

What the world definitely needs now is a heaping helping of kindness. 

My story, Filled with Kindness, was selected for inclusion in this collection of 101 stories.

This is the 26th Chicken Soup for the Soul book in which my stories have been published. Yes, I know I have been shouting 25th, but I discovered a CS book that had fallen behind the others on the bookshelf. That was a pleasant surprise this morning.

I had great English teachers in high school and college, but mostly I am a self-taught writer who writes from the heart and connects on an emotional level with the reader. My very first CS acceptance was a fluke, or maybe divine intervention. I saw this headline in our neighborhood news in 1999: Chicken Soup for the Soul Seeking Stories for the Gardener's Soul.

Let me tell you, I am no gardener. Don't ever look at my thumbs. I can barely keep potted plants and hanging baskets alive, but I am not a gardener by any stretch.

I set the newspaper down, then picked it up several times, knowing I had no gardening experience. I did have a story about a flower that bloomed in winter, per a pact my late friend and I made when she was terminally ill. I knew THAT was not a gardening story. However...

I TOOK A CHANCE, submitted by snail mail back then, and they accepted my story right away. Click this link to read it.

I was stunned, inspired and vowed to get my stories in nine more CS books. My goal was to be published in 10 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I submitted to almost every title. I certainly did not get into every book, but to date I have surpassed my goal of 10. Now that I'm at 26, maybe I should set my sites on #30.

Am I a dreamer? Sure. Do my dreams come true? Sometimes. Should I stop submitting if I don't receive an acceptance? WHY?!

Don't be afraid to dream. My Chicken Soup for the Soul dream has led to speaking engagements, paid gigs, panel presentations, and published articles about my experiences. I am the former high school student who would rather take a failing grade than speak before the class.

It is never too late to accomplish your dreams, whatever they may be.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What have you accomplished lately?

If he could have, Liam would have climbed to the top of this tree. He was so thrilled when we walked around the lake to discover this tree,  just the right size to latch onto.

Even though he was unable to do much more than swing his legs, he felt such a sense of accomplishment, and he talked about it all day.

We should all be proud of our accomplishments. What seems minimal to you may seem phenomenal to someone who is observing you. 

Liam's baby brother, Alex, will be arriving soon. Ashley has had contractions for four days. Her body is getting ready to deliver another great grandson to this nana who can hardly wait.

We had a diaper shower (and other things) for her. Liam gave his baby brother a gift. He was with me one day and I let him select a silly Halloween shirt for baby Alex.  He chose it because he liked the bright orange color. I allowed it because I like what was imprinted on the front: PLEASE DON'T SCARE ME. I POOP EASILY.

I decorated the cake to match the woodland creatures napkins and baby shower decor. I enjoy making cakes for family.  I feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I complete one, but I wouldn't want to do it for a living. I must say, it was delicious.

Tell me something you have accomplished lately. No matter how trivial it may have seemed to you.