Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Summer Fun

 My cousin, Donna, is babysitting her grandchildren this summer. She invited the boys to come over for a play date. Charlie spied the kitchen set and went about preparing pizza. Then he grabbed the toy fire extinguisher and shouted, "Wait! Wait! I have to put the fire out." Last week our smoke alarm malfunctioned frequently. I think that played into his imaginative play.

Alex spotted the hot dog/pretzel/soda cart and prepared buns, and hot dogs, soda, and pretzels to sell. They had so much fun pretending.


Liam and Grant came in from swimming and had fun playing air hockey. The boys all had fun making memories.  

Bill and his "best buddy" have two-way conversations. We swear Sassy Cat knows how to tell time.
He wakes me at 5:00 a.m. Begs for a little kibble snack at noon, and he cries for his moist food (quarter of a can) between 4:00-4:30 p.m. He appeals to me first, but if I'm busy, he meows at Bill and waits for an invitation. then he bounds on his lap. Face to face these two talk.

"Buddy, what is it you want?"

Meow-meow.

"Oh you want your food? What would you like fish, or chicken?"

The cat meows and "answers" endless questions. He hops off Bill's lap and waits for him to come feed him. It really is a mutual love.

Bill brought groceries home from a big box store. Sassy found this cardboard box that was just his size, almost two foot long, and took a nap in it.
He gets the last of his kibble right before we go to bed. About 9:30 p.m. he starts meowing to Bill and then me, looking from one to the other. I ask him, "Do you want to EAT?" He jumps up and yowls with excitement. Yes, he's our fur baby and we swear he understands and can tell time. He is a good boy. When I tell him the boys are coming he perks up at the word boys. Maybe that's because they sneak him a few pieces of kibble when he meows. Liam proudly says, "We are the same age, and I have been feeding you since I was five years old."
Charlie and Alex are somewhat afraid when he meows and they keep their distance, which is just as well. This fat cat is 15 pounds.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Boys just being boys


Every single time I cooked in the past week, the smoke detector wailed. Despite the fact I had the exhaust fan going, that device blared and screeched. So, Bill ordered a new one. The small product came in a large box with yards and yards of brown packing paper. 

I placed the paper on the driveway and made a road for Alex and Charlie. They had so much fun. Then Paw-paw came outside and had a better idea how to use the paper. He turned the boys into mummies.

Bill's oldest grandson, Kyle, came to visit. The boys call him Uncle Kyle. You should have heard them cheering. "Yay, Uncle Kyle's here!"

Last fall they went to his farm. He took them to see the animals and rode them in a gator vehicle all over. He gave them the grand tour of his property. They were looking at their journals/photo albums earlier before Kyle came. They were pointing to the pictures talking about all the fun they had on the farm.

Charlie wouldn't look at Kyle when he came through the door. Kyle asked what was wrong. Charlie said, I'm shy about you."
That lasted five minutes, then the three boys were all over Uncle Kyle wrestling and playing. As he left they asked if they could come live with him on his farm.

What a wonderful role model Kyle is! Seems only yesterday he was our little boy, and we were doing fun things with him. Time sure flies when you're having fun.





 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Hands down, a week from ... well

Well, last week was a week from well... let me tell you about it. Liam cut the palm of his hand a week before, and had to get stitches, so on the hottest days of summer, none of us could go swimming or to a splash pad.

Instead, we went to Powder Valley Nature Center and had a great time looking at the exhibits. Liam was amazed at the size of the turtle shell. This room was strictly hands-on, so the boys explored every drawer, cubby, nook, and cranny.

Alex had wandered over to the viewing window to observe a wild turkey feeding outside on the ground below. 

Charlie put his hands on the tank. The turtle moved all over placing its feet in the same positions, mirroring him. I think the turtle had as much fun as Charlie, and eventually Alex who came over to participate and giggle.

Another day, I did a science experiment with the little guys, while Liam got to play his video game indoors where it was cool. I also slipped him a bomb pop, so he was happy.
Alex and Charlie had to figure out how to remove the small toys and objects from their blocks of ice. I gave them four tubs, one each of hot water, cold water, salty, and colored water. They had to discover which would melt the ice faster. They had so much fun with this activity. Each had a small chunk left. Charlie said, "Nana, I am going to use my big feet and make little stomps." What a thinker this boy is.

Alex hurled his chunk on the pavement and obliterated it, them beamed proudly as he picked up his little treasures. More ways than one to do things, right? 

This day they put the dinosaurs into the pool and began arguing right away. Charlie shouted, "NO! Alex, you cannot wash MY dinosaur with your orange star fish."

Alex said, "Wait-wait-wait, let me tell you. Your dinosaur needs a bath. He's stinky!"

Charlie said, "Oh, okay." 

Sometimes it's best to let kids resolve their own differences.

Tomorrow, I hope we can go to a splash pad, where the boys love hiding under the waterfall and dodging the pop up sprinklers. This summer has surely been a hot one.


 

Monday, July 11, 2022

This moment will never come again

I babysit my three great-grandsons three times a week. It has become a battle to get the middle one, almost five-years-old to nap. Charlie, the little guy, wears himself out and yells if his sleep is interrupted.

 "ALEX, leave me alone!" 

Alex retracts his arm from the pillow that separates them and stops poking him for a while. It is a battle royal some days. But on this day I felt so blessed. Big brother Liam, had stitches in his hand and was bored with nothing to do. 

When he came into the bedroom where I was refereeing, I motioned for him to lie down. Then I went from one to the other, tickling arms, rubbing foreheads, soothing my sweeties to sleep. Note that each has his own favorite blankie and stuffy. Liam has had this pig since he was a baby. Sometimes, an eight year old with a boo-boo needs a lovey too.  CLICK ON PHOTO

This image, captured on film, is ingrained in my mind. What a blessed moment. One I doubt will ever happen again. I stood at the end of the bed and prayed for each of them and thanked God for these three independent, smart and healthy little wise guys. 



 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

On the go again...STILL

I have tried to live up to my reputation of being the most fun great-grandma on earth, or at least in town. I am babysitting (as seated) eight-year-old Liam, three-year-old Charlie, and four-year-old Alex, three days per week this summer. I like summer, the great outdoors, and I don't mind the heat. We start out early and end up back home at noon for lunch and naps. 
I took them to Bee Tree Park in far South St. Louis County. They played at the playground for an hour, and then I told them we were taking a hike so I could show them something special. Charlie was all for it. Alex whined, and Liam refused to get out of the car until I told him our hike was fifty yards ahead in the tree line.

One by one they stood in awe on the bluffs, with mouths agape at the sight of the mighty Mississippi River. I explained it was a barge and boat route from Minnesota to New Orleans and empties into the Gulf of Mexico, which we call the ocean.
 
They climbed up on the fence at the overlook and observed that they were above tree tops.

Liam said, "I see a farm across the river."

Alex said, "I see a boat coming."

Charlie said, "WOW! I SEE CALIFORNIA!

Friday, I discovered a free indoor pool for me and the boys, and we spent three hours splishing and splashing.

I am blessed to be young at heart, still have energy, stamina, and the desire to "teach" my little  guys.

Liam said he thought this would be the worst summer of his life spending his school break with the littles and me, but each day he says, "This has been my most best day ever!"

OH NO! HE SLIPPED ON AN ICE CUBE AND FELL ON THE 4TH OF JULY. CUT HIS PALM ON A BROKEN GLASS. HE HAS FOUR STITCHES AND CAN'T GET HIS HAND WET FOR 10 DAYS. HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO WAIT FOR MORE BEST DAYS EVER.

Regardless of the weather, make this your most best day ever, too. Read a book, write something, spend time in nature, engage in an activity that makes you feel great. 

Tell me about it, won't you?

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Are YOU racing to the finish line?

Riding high! 

Liam and Alex spent time with their paternal great grandparents' on their farm. I took Charlie to my former school's parish picnic. He squealed when he saw the kiddie rides. "Nana, look! I want to ride that yellow and orange Jeep!" 

And ride he did (several times)! That smile stayed on his face the entire time. When the ride started and the car began moving, he spun that steering wheel back and forth. The ride functions kept getting better. The car elevated, and when it started jerking up and down, left and right he thought he was jumping hills. If you could hear his squeals. 


If you're a published writer, you probably have experienced this sort of joy, too. What a thrill to receive an acceptance on an essay, article, or poem you've submitted. 

I felt like Charlie when I received another acceptance from Chicken Soup for the Soul books for the upcoming book, Miracles and the Unexplainable, on sale September 13th. (Book 33 for me.)

In the writing world, along with elation comes deflation. A rejection can bring you down and make you feel like you're limping to a stop on a flat tire. It's natural to feel disappointment. 

Don't let all four tires go flat and bring you to a complete halt. It's easy to say, "That's it. I'm not writing anymore!"

Rest if you must. Take a break from writing, but never give up. Sometimes you race along at high speed submitting and receiving acceptances. Other times you drive through the desert of dry spells.

Keep writing and submitting your work. When you do receive an acceptance you'll feel like Charlie leaping hurdles. 

I wish you well in your writing endeavors. If you are not a writer, try jotting down a memory and build upon that over the course of a week. You will have a slice-of-life vignette, a memory that someone in your family may cherish someday. 

Write on!

 
 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Kings of the stump

Every little boy should have a carefree childhood where he can hop, skip, jump, and climb outdoors.
I thought this was the cutest picture of  Alex and Charlie and sent it to their mom. First thing she replied was, "Where are his shoes?"

Then I explained that Charlie's new shoes rubbed a blister on his instep. I allowed him to walk the trail in his socks. When we arrived at the playground, I rummaged through my purse for a bandaid. Had to use a paper thin, white, panty liner. Charlie shouted, ""Wow! That is the biggest bandaid I ever did see." All eyes on Charlie and me.

The picture below is what summer should be like for every three and four year old.

 Today I asked if they liked pickles. They said they did. I put a dill pickle slice on their plates and had them help me make tuna salad. They saw me empty the tuna into a bowl and shouted, "Ewww! We are not eating cat food!"

After some convincing, and a chocolate bribe, they each ate half a sandwich and liked it! I was published in a Parent's Magazine book years ago: tips to get kids to eat. 

Serve sloppy Joes or tuna salad in a mini ice cream cone. Make it unique, let them help, and they will usually eat.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Spontaneity


 Liam, Alex, and Charlie are rambunctious, busy boys. I have a variety of age-appropriate, diverse activities and games planned for them twice a week when I babysit. Fridays are park/splash pad/ swimming days. Public pools cannot get enough life guards, so we will be using the collapsible kiddie pool more than we'd like this summer. 

Sometimes I have to be spontaneous and come up with something off the cuff. This was one of those moments. After they'd successfully and cooperatively built a four room fort frame indoors with those sticks and balls, these were left overs. I made sure the sticks were secured into the holes in the hard balls to make putters, and I took a bucket of ping pong balls outside.

There is a sewer grate in our long driveway. Their goal was to land in the grate. Alex was the champ. Liam broke a few balls with his strength, and Charlie pounded and pummeled the hard solid plastic balls and concrete diligently trying to make contact. They had half an hour of exercise, fun and laughter.

Spontaneity is important in this world. Out-of-the-box thinkers take a round-about way to achieve the same goals as others. My husband says I am the only person he knows who can destroy one good thing to make another. Well, yeah...




Monday, June 6, 2022

My life this summer

I have lived a long and healthy life, so far. I have been blessed immensely with family, friends, a job I loved right up until the end. And now in my later years, I am so happy to be a great grandma to these three little adventurers. Alex is 4, Liam is going to be 8 next week, and Charlie is 3. They bring me so much happiness, and wear me out. I am teaching the littles and having summer fun with all of them.


These guys love the great outdoors. I do, too. I like to sit on the patio, (almost always a breeze) and read a book. 

Liam thought he would be bored at our house, but he said his first week with his brothers has been more fun than he could imagine. I led a summer day camp for school age kids for 15 years. He is amazed at how 'fun" I am and how many good ideas and games I come up with. LOL 

I believe a little dirt never hurt. Kids need to use their entire body and all their senses to explore and learn. We discovered a wonderful playground with a splash pad for all of the boys. That will be our Friday go to. If it were up to them, they would be there everyday. 

Yes, I get tired and stressed, but I am blessed. Today I am celebrating my 73 rd birthday. The boys will be celebrating their birthdays in June, July, and August. It is going to be a wild summer. I am fortunate to have the stamina, mind, and good health to handle these tigers. 

The littles are "reading." I placed a picture of a pig and pie on a paper. Then below the pics I wrote: The pig ate a pie. They touch and read. Of course they are reading the pictures (rebus reading) but they are very proud of themselves and interested in how letters make soumds and sounds create words. Literacy is so important.

Thank you for your visits to my blog. have a great week.




Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Long hot summer

 Life sure has a lot of big scaries!

Climate change, mass killings, hurricanes, forest fires, war ...

But three-year-old Charlie is not afraid. I told him not to ride his bike past the sewer in the

driveway. He declared, "Don't worry, Nana, if somebody tries to get me and sqoosh me, I'll squirt 'em!"

His year younger brother, Alex, took his Dawn dishwashing bottle (filled with water) and said, "This is my diesel fuel," and he gassed up his bike. Gas prices, talk about a fright!

Charlie had to use the bathroom and took off quickly. He came back looking dejected and said, "I didn't have to go. I just had gasoline."

I have all three boys, three times a week this summer. Here they are finger painting with shaving cream. Lucky for them I taught PreK for four decades, and for 15 years I taught summer day camp, 5-10 year olds. Liam is seven and impressed by my games with candy prizes. I have lots of ideas and tricks up my sleeve. It is going to be a long hot summer.



Monday, May 23, 2022

He's no Ninja! He's my hero.

Today I turned the corner onto a side street and saw a dinner plate-size, yellow-bellied turtle in my lane trying to cross the road. I stopped the car. Bill who has a bad back, achy knees, and uses a cane, said, "You are going to cause a wreck over a turtle," before he slid out, bent down, and plopped that big guy in tall grass far from the road. He's no teenager. He's no mutant. He's no Ninja, but my honey is MY HERO!

When I was small, baby turtles the size of quarters or half-dollar coins, could be purchased as pets from dime stores. Sales were discontuinued when it was discovered they carried samonella.

When my son was about eight, he rescued a box turtle from the country. We named it Speedy, because that critter could make it to the back gate in a flash. A few weeks later we returned it to the original spot. it never did its job anyway. We watched a water bug climb out of the sewer and over Speedy's shell.

Don't relocate turtles to new areas, even if you think their current location is odd (unless it is obviously hazardous, such as a busy parking lot). Moving them to an unfamiliar location can subject them to foreign diseases and parasites that they lack a natural immunity to, so that should be avoided.

A group of turtles is called a bale (ever seen a group piled on a log) or dole.

 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Tornadoes


This is three-year-old talkative Charlie. He is verbose, opinionated, informative, and a quick learner. He is spinning his brush, painting tornadoes and telling me everything he knows about them. 

Before he went down for a nap he said, "If you hear me say, 'OHHHHHH UHHHH' (big sigh) you'll know I'm up, okay?" He is a whirlwind of activity when he is awake. A cute little mini tornado.  
St. Louis and surrounding area experienced eight tornadoes Thursday, EF zeros and EF ones. Thankfully no death or major destruction. Damage to trees, cars, roofs. We are expecting a week of rain and storms. That is disappointing, as I had big plans for the boys.

Now, I'm expecting a lot of indoor activities next Tuesday and Thursday when Charlie and his year older brother, Alex, come for a visit. Life is filled with little disappointments. If we learn to handle the minor things we can be better prepared for the bigger ones. 

We had 91 degrees heat the other day. I put the boys in swim trunks.

"Where is the BIG pool? That little kiddie pool is too small." 

It served the purpose for water play and pouring. Making do is what we do.

Our neighbor invited the boys to swim in her son's and daughter-in-law's in-ground pool when she returns from vacation in two weeks. Excitement and disappointment all at once. 

The weather is too cool since the storms rolled through. But better weather will be here before we know it, and summer will be upon us. 


 


 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Moments in time

Grandkids growing up! Nicholas graduated last weekend and is destined for a good paying job starting next week. We are very proud of our instrumentation electrician.


Morgan graduated yesterday with a degree in psychology. She is destined for grad school and  pursuit of her masters in the fall. So proud of the hard work she put in these past years. Her last paper was on how music can be calming. She used Bill (her grampie) as a case study. She interviewed him on the phone and asked him to name 10 songs that had an effect on him growing up.

When he replied, "Tutti Fruiti," she laughed and thought he was joking. He named many other rock and roll songs which he loved to dance to over the years. He got so into it, he pulled the songs up on the internet and played each for her. He made her a tape of his old favorites from the 50's. 

This memorable moment made me smile, sniffle, wipe a tear, because the days are sometimes long, but the years have flown. Our knees are too bad for dancing, but we used to jitterbug all night long. The professor's comment was that music for Bill's generation represented social engagement and this generation has music at their fingertips and in their earpods. 

There were some memorable moments in Morgan's graduation ceremony. To begin with, the audience was asked to stand for the national anthem. Everyone stood. And waited. And waited. And waited. Technical difficulties... so we sang acapello. It was a moving experience. But not quite as moving as the older gentelman whose grandfather graduated in 1910, but his family had no record of it. Research proved he did indeed graduate from the college, and so the gentleman was presented with his grandfather's degree. He accepted it, turned to the audience and saluted. A memorable event, but not as memorable as what happened today.

Morgan's parents and brothers moved her out of her apartment and back home. She wanted to keep the fullsize bed she'd had while away, and advertised her single bed for sale. A buyer was coming at 4:00 p.m. to purchase it. So, her brothers sat it on the front lawn and pulled the moving truck in to the driveway. Nine of us helped unload the truck. Bill was the doorman. The young ones carried her belongings in. The house was filled with people coming and going.

Bill opened the door for a woman we did not know. (neighbor?) She greeted us and began walking around. Her husband followed. Asked if the barking dog would bite. We said no. He petted the dog. They began commenting about the furniture. Told the bed was outside, they said they didn't want a bed. 

"We stopped here because we saw an Estate Sale sign on the corner and figured this was the place."

We will laugh about this in years to come. "Grandpa let strangers in!" 

And so, a new chapter begins in the lives of grandson Nicholas and granddaughter Morgan.  We are thankful for family.    
 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Feeding the hungry

 I received news that moved me to tears. 

I contacted my first writing professor, 1979 (teacher appreciation week, you know) thanked him for a job well done, and sent him copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul books in which my stories are published. 

He said since I refused to accept payment from him, he has made a donation in my name to a worthy cause. Indirectly Chicken Soup for the Soul and I are responsible  for feeding Ukrainian people. 

No matter how small the effort, I can confirm one person can make a difference. 

I consider this HUGE. The monetary donation has been made in my name to World Central Kitchen. 

I am deeply touched by this gesture.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Who needs laughing gas!

Time to visit the dentist. 

Those words used to strike fear in my heart. I could feel the remembered pain from childhood dental experiences.

Visiting Dr. Holly Ellis, DDS and her team is always such a positive experience. Dr. Ellis is personable and fun and makes her patients feel at ease. 

I gave her a copy of my Chicken Soup for the Soul, Too Funny book. Her staff looks forward to reading a story here and there during their workday or at lunch. This one will have them showing THEIR pearly whites.

I was in the chair when Dr. Ellis walked in and asked me about my eyes. I wondered which of us was more confused. Then it dawned on me. She had read my story. We both had a good laugh.

My hygeniest, who I have known for many years, mentioned she was going to eat a light lunch. I told her she didn't need to worry about dieting. "You are so petite."

Denise said, "Yes I am. My brother is big; he got it all, the height, the weight, even the boobs."

Never laugh when you have a rinse device in your mouth.  

Visiting my dentist is like reuniting with girlfriends. We always pick up right where we left off. 

Ellis Dental
10296 Big Bend Rd.
Suite 207
St. Louis, MO 63122
314-965-1334

Monday, April 25, 2022

Is she or is she not a friend?

Whenever I read something aloud from my phone, my dear husband has a habit of asking WHO's that?

I have told him so many times, "I don't know. Just a friend."
He then quizzes me about FRIENDS I don't know.

I've tried telling him their names, but then he asks how WE know them. It gets to be a real Who's On 1st.

Finally I say, "They are Facebook friends, and YOU do not know them. They're from the WWW."
First time I said that he thought I meant World Wide Wrestling.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to actually hear my FB friends' voices and and see them on screen. 

Last week I participated in a ZOOM meeting with Amy Newmark, Editor-in-Chief of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I also met D'ette Corona Executive, and Shelby Janner, publicist, folks I have interacted with for many years. This was in celebration of the Chicken Soup for the Soul, TOO FUNNY release. Looks like it is heading for the Best Seller's List! Yay!

It was a real thrill to hear and see many of the contributors. Several of the Chicken Soup writers and I share publishing credits for other books and magazines, and it is always a thrill when we find our names in the contributor's section of a new CSS book.

Each contributor had 90 seconds to do a biography and tell about their story in the Too Funny book. 
It was like being privy to a secret discovering how the story began. Nice to hear the voices and see the faces of the friends I  know, (but don't really KNOW.)  

I used to participate in monthly IN PERSON Open Mic meetings, but since the pandemic stopped that, I've missed my literary "friends."

By the way, if you are reading this, just know that I consider YOU a friend and I thank you for your readership.

Proceeds from the sale of MY contributor copies will be donated to Chef Andre`s World Kitchen, which was bombed and destroyed in Ukraine, but has since been reestablished elsewhere. Everytime I look at the CSS, Too Funny book, I imagine a Ukrainian having a bite to eat thanks indirectly to Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. Proof that one person CAN make a difference.

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Be careful out there!

 I was at WalMart the other day standing near the frozen foods when a young, caucasion, clean-cut, wild-eyed guy, came storming up the center aisle shouting a female name. He was in a frenzy and screamed, "When I find you, I'm going to shoot you!" He did not display a weapon as he went running up and down the aisles.

 I hustled to the front and paid for my chocolate cake. 

It is getting dangerous out there.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

#TheMysteryOfTheBigBooger

Dr. David Michael Litwack has authored this book for young children. I have not read it, but all indications and reviews point to a fun and interactive read with lots of wordplay. Won't you check it out?

Thanks to Jennifer Brown Banks http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/ for the following:

If you’re looking for an engaging read that imparts timely lessons for young ones today, you’ll delight in the “MYSTERY OF THE BIG BOOGER” by author David Michael Litwack, Ph.D.


This 50-page fun read is interactive, interesting and inspired by games played with the author’s grandkids. Filled with colorful, lively illustrations to attract and hold the attention of children, it’s complete with witty word-play and humor.
Additionally, it has garnered many positive reviews via Amazon readers.

THE MYSTERY OF THE BIG BOOGER makes for a great Easter read or beach book for summer. It’s also a nice addition to any classroom library for teachers for grades kindergarten and up.

To learn more about the author and his other titles (or to order) please visit his site:





Monday, April 11, 2022

It's just my style!

 Have you ever been amazed at the choice of strong words you've used in your old essays or writings? 

I came across a stack of my older printed essays. After reading some, I realized that the frequent comment from members in my very first adult writing class confirmed it: "You have a writer's knack for using strong, powerful, and effective verbs." That's just my writing style. I am pretty much self-taught although twenty + years ago I was learning the ropes and paying attention to reading material and classes. 

I was shocked by the heading on one: Cut your babies and leave them on the floor. (Yuck! Ugh!) But that was a most valuable class. I learned that the action should be prompt and prominent. Don't lead the reader astray. Your character doesn't have to slip into her coat, grab her purse, open the door, get in the car, insert the key, start the engine... place her in the scene faster. 

On this rainy day I am reminscing about and thankful for the many publications that have published my work over the years, and the many people who have helped me along the way.

Whether you are a writer or a reader, it is nice to leave your legacy in print. Write a love letter to a family member, recall a memory, or write about your fears, fantasies, and future plans. When you look back in a few years you will be amazed, too.  


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Breakfast with the former president

In our town, Panera is known as St. Louis Bread CO. I dined there with a dear friend, who happens to be the former prez of St. Louis Writer's Guild. It has been a long gloomy winter for me, and fpor months I have set aside my literary aspirations. I have been lax in participating in Open Mic nights and critique meetings. 

Maybe it's the lush grass and spring flowers that have awakened my need to connect with other writers and friends. I enjoyed great conversation and even particiapted in a ZOOM Open Mic which has lifted my spirits. I hope the bounty that spring brings uplifts you, too. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Which came first the chicken or the egg?

I am a  firm believer in making accomodations that help children feel successful. This activity requires a hot glue gun and large box lid. Big box stores have boxes and lids etc. Glue a few dozen tops and bottoms of plastic eggs on inside of the lid. Give children the other halves and have them match by stacking the correct top and bottom and sizes together. No difficulty and low frustration for little ones who cannot yet connect the eggs. I "accidentally" drop them and say, "Oh no!" Charlie and Alex race to connect them. 

Bought a wind up chick from the $1.25 store. Made a BINGO game and then let the boys wind up the chick and watch it hop down the alphabet eggs and predict in which letter it would stop. Then we discovered FOR SURE which letter it stopped on and we made the beginning letter sound. They don't know they are learning to read. They think they're having fun playing games with Nana.

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Things that make my heart sing

I do wish I could have been outside when it happened, but I'm sure I was sleeping when the red bud tree's tiny blossoms erupted. Can't wait to see the tree in full bloom. 

It is the little things in life that make me happy. We have one Amarillys plant in our back yard that someone planted before we moved in 25 years ago. It has the best fragrance. 

The grass cutters just pulled up and started the mowers, and I darted for by little flower. I brought it inside and am delighted with the heavenly fragrance permeating the kitchen. Lilac bushes are my very favorite. Spring has sprung, but temps are cool. 

I am happy with all the new growth. Our lawn greened up overnight, too. Nature is wonderful. 
I pulled this photo off Facebook posted by, and perhaps taken by Kailish Chandra Sahoo. It speaks to me and proves that love crosses all boundaries, species, genders, and love heals. This swan was "thanking" the veterinarian. Does it touch your heart, too?

 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Something's Bugging Me!

Humor is subjective. I've been in comedy clubs where most people are laughing loudly, and others are straight-faced not even cracking a smile. I assure you, there are stories in this collection that will resonate and stay with you a long while. I have read the book cover to cover and still laugh out loud when I share two of the relatable, guaranteed-to-make-you-laugh stories with others. 

Something's Bugging Me is the title of my story included in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book. That makes 32 different CSS books in which my stories appear. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are printed in several languages and read across the globe. I am proud to be a part of this team.


Chicken Soup for the Soul: Too Funny! (Release date April 19, 2022, 978-1-611590890, $14.95) contains 101 laugh-out-loud stories, all true, and told by the people who lived through these embarrassing, hilarious, and truly relatable experiences. 

You would normally think of Chicken Soup for the Soul as the place you turn to for advice—on positive thinking, forgiveness, gratitude, self-esteem, raising kids, caring for the elderly, and other challenges. But this new collection is just plain fun, a welcome diversion in 2022. Chicken Soup for the Soul has gathered some great storytellers to document the mishaps and misadventures of everyday life. Prepare for lots of good, clean (and not so clean) fun. The chapter titles provide a preview of all the joy inside: “That Was Embarrassing,” “I Can’t Believe I Did That,” “Mistaken Identity,” “These Modern Times,” “Not What I Meant,” “Domestic Disasters,” “Happily Ever Laughter,” “Laughing at Ourselves,” “I Kid You Not,” and “Family Fun?”

No one is safe in this collection—from spouses and siblings to parents and children to friends and colleagues. And of course, the funniest tales are the ones people tell on themselves. No one is holding anything back, with tales of snafus at home, embarrassing moments, goofy pets, holiday hiccups, eccentric families, and every other kind of story that makes you stop, think, and then burst out laughing.

Chicken Soup for the Soul’s editor-in-chief and publisher Amy Newmark says, “I kept bursting out laughing as I selected these 101 stories from the thousands of submissions we received. Even when I was editing them, and had already read them a couple of times, I laughed all over again.” She continues, “If laughter is the best medicine, then this book is your prescription. Turn off the news and spend a few days not following current events. Instead, return to the basics—humanity’s ability to laugh at itself.”

For locals interested in buying a copy, I have a handful to sell ($10.00 each) and can deliver if you are not too far away. The library is not ready for in person book signings yet.

Care to share a funny that happened to you? Aw, come on, tell me.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Playful leprechaun or troublemaker?

Did you ever lay awake anticipating big plans, and then unexpectedly the plans fall through? It happens to all of us. If you are resilient you can find a way to survive and thrive. It is how we handle disappointment that really matters.

Sure, I was looking forward to taking our two youngest "leprechauns" to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dogtown, a local neighborhood. The weather was perfect, and I had planned to leave really early with three-year-old Charlie and four-year-old Alex.

Then they arrived... with snotty noses and allergies acting up. It would be no fun with sneezy and wheezy, so instead of seeing the giant blow up leprechauns and Irish displays and Hibernian parade, we decided to stay home and play outdoors. 

I painted tiny green footprints on the driveway, which the boys followed onto the porch, patio, and right to their trikes, where they discovered mini choclate eggs wrapped in gold in the 'trunks" of their trikes. That silly leprechaun even played with their basketball hoop. The boys scampered all around laughing gleefully and tracking the sneaky little leprechaun, discovering his gold, green shiny shamrocks, and new pennies strewn all about. 

They had fun and showed their mama all their treasures and their rainbow artwork. On the way home she texted me, "Charlie swallowed a penny. Do I take him to the ER?"

I told her if he wasn't choking or complaining it would pass through his digestive track and to stuff him with oatmeal to bulk the colon and get it to pass. (I should have specified COOKED oatmeal.) She called Children's Hospital and they confirmed what old great grandma said. So the kid is back in diapers for a couple days, as I'm sure the prunes will do the trick with the cooked oatmeal.  

This morning Ashley posted a video clip of Charlie discovering her eye makeup pallete, painting his face. He gave himself a unibrow, black cheeks, purple nose. This little leprechaun is an active one. Thank goodness Alex is more low key. And poor Liam at 7 is the guardian, such a terrific big brother.

 Liam spent last Thursday overnight with us, and I played Leprechaun tricks on him. Put a dab of green food coloring on my finger and gave him a pan of water, then stirred it. Shocked, he asked how I did that!? It was fun see him having hands on fun instead of having screen time.

 Charlie chatters in full sentences from morning until night. When he got caught with the makeup, he said, "Hey Mom, Mom. See, I'm using the little brush. The big one is for grown ups, right Mommy?" 

Someone suggested he get his own You Tube Channel.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Spring has sprung!


I am so happy about daylight savings time. I NEED more sunshine, longer days, warmer weather. 
I have a perpetual smile because the weather is beautiful and will be in the 60s and 70s all week. The windows are open;  I love the smell of a fresh breeze wafting through the house. 

Spring rejuvenates me. The daffodils are bobbing in the backyard. Bird song wakes me now. Hubby and I sat on the patio and played a few games of Rummy Cube. I've read a book, eaten lunch outdoors. Talked to neighbors. I hope spring is around the corner for you, too.   



 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Who's an author? You're an author.

 I was at the Goodwill Store looking for children's books for Alex and Charlie. I found a book about Liam the leprecaun. Perfect, because all three boys will be spending the night, and I can imagine the gasps when Liam hears and sees his name. His little brothers will anticipate hearing their names, too. So I will fake it and make them believe they are characters in this book, too. 

While looking through the book shelves, a woman looked at me and said, "It's a crime, they want $2.00 for a book that cost fifty cents a month ago. They are taking advantage of the people. I used to buy all my books here for my classroom." 

Turns out Miss Barb and I were kindred spirits. We'd both taught preschool for forty years and considered it our dream jobs. Now, our grandchildren and great grandchildren are benefitting from our expertise and our love for young children. 

My love of writing and reading comes from my father, who was illiterate. My late dad who would have been 105 this week, had a third grade education. He could not read me story books, but he could tell fabulous stories with sound effects and interesting details. 

I'm convinced my 20 year old grandson received the "gift" of writing, too. He called to ask my opinion on an essay he had to do for his college class. His writing floored me. I mentioned plagiarism, and told him professors could detect it immediately. He said he hadn't copied anything. These were his thoughts and opinions in his own words. I am so impressed. He received an "A" on his paper.

It is never too soon to start children off "reading" and writing, or at least making the association between symbols, pictures, letters, and words. 

I do rebus booklets with the little guys weekly. That is, printing the word below the picture, using finger reading to "read" the short sentence.

Ant 8 an apple. 
Bee bit a banana.
Cat ate a cupcake. (I glued real cupckae sprinkles on it. They were amazed at the touch and smell cupcake.
This week they will read: Dog ate a donut. 

You can bet the donuts will be smelly, too.  They are so proud of themselves for "reading".

I show them interesting pictures and have them tell me 4-5 related sentences and stay on topic. They are becoming great authors too.

 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Noisy boys


 Can't you HEAR this picture? The thrill of victory is apparent on Charlie's face. His whole body is screaming, I WON! 

When my late dad was a little boy he played marbles. Now his great-great grandsons are playing with marbles but in a different game. Not as much strategey, but as much excitement, for sure.

I found a brand new Hungry Hungry Hippos game at Goodwill for $2.00. We certainly have gotten two dollars worth of enjoyment out of it. This is an active and very noisy game, but what better way for two little tigers to release all their pent up energy? 

When their mom came to pick them up, I told her she could take the game home. She smiled deviously and said, "No thanks. You keep it here at YOUR house. They nearly killed each other over the Light Bright."

I remember those days when all I craved was peace and quiet. When my children were as young as these two, I used to sit on my front porch early in the morning and read the newspaper. I turned those pages so quietly, so as  not to wake the kids. But you know what? Those days passed way too quickly. 

Now I am appreciating every moment of our noisy boys' activities and competitions. Heck, even Papa Bill got  in on the action.

I loved my kids, and I appreciated my grandkids, but with my three great-grandsons, I have so much more understanding and patience. I keep photo journals for them because I can barely remember time spent with my grandma when I was their ages. I hope when they are grown and look at their albums, they feel the love I have for them.




 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

How sweet it is!

 What the world needs now is love sweet love...

So, if you can do one nice thing for someone, do it NOW. Share compassion, spread compliments, smile even if your heart is breaking.

My great-grandson's give me laugh lines. Charlie (3) a red headed, verbose, chatterbox walked into his Nana's house (my daughter babysits two days a week) and said, "OH, Nana. Wow! You are so bootiful today." She had her hair colored and styled. She told him he was sweet.

Alex (4) piped up, "Sweet? You have anything sweet to eat, Nana?"


 




Saturday, February 26, 2022

At a loss

I am heartsick over Ukraine and broken hearted by comments and opinions about gas pipelines, high food prices, and whomever/whatever the perceived blame for this war. 

This is real loss of innocent lives, all in the name of power. Blaming or praising world leaders for being weak or powerful? PLEASE!


I believe in the power of prayer. 

 

Monday, February 21, 2022

The president does WHAT?!

 Today it is going to be almost 70 degrees in St. Louis. On this Presidents' Day holiday, school children and many workers are going to be out and about. Our grands and greats are going to Elephant Rocks for a day of hiking and climbing on huge granite boulders.

When I was still teaching I used to do an activity for this particular holiday. I felt it was important to stress a sense of community inside the classroom as well as out. We did canned food drives, and the children walked with their donations to the local church food bank. I enocuraged kindness and caring. 

We did a craft activity. The children snipped with scissors all along the edges of their paper. Then they made a red, white, and blue  pattern using one inch squares around the border of their paper. Next I wrote, If I were the President, I would... (do to help others? Make a rule? etc) and I wrote their words and great ieads:

Give everyone food to eat and any toy they want.
Make everyone clean their room.
Play nicely with their brother/sister.
Help your grandma.

Next I wrote, What does the president do? What is the President's job?

Oh my goodness did I get some hysterical responses when Bill Clinton was in office.

He goes to hotels.
He flies airplanes.
He tells everyone he is the boss.
He talks on the phone to girls. 

The kids' answers were so funny I sent them to the White House. Don't know if President Clinton ever took a look, but somebody sure got a laugh. Twentyto thirty preschoolers repeating what they had heard at home and on TV. They sent us a packet of teaching materials, booklets and posters in return. 

I displayed the students' posters in the hall for all to see. Parents and staff loved it. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day/ anniversary

 Happy Anniversary and Valentine's Day to my funny honey. Where have the years gone? 

I wrote a parody song for a Valentine's Day radio contest. Winners were to be announced on the radio a week before Valentine's Day. Driving to work, I heard my name, among others, called as winners of a complete wedding package. I screamed! Then I called Bill, "We are getting married! Come home early so we can go to the county courthouse for our marriage licence."

He told me, "Calm down. Our wedding is planned for April, and we have plenty of time."

"Oh no we don't! I told him all about my contest win and our upcoming nurtials ON VALENTINE'S Day...on air. I did not tell him then it would be a mass wedding. We would be one of the 98 couples. sponsored by Y-98.

We won tuxedo, wedding bands, flowers, reception, photos. Bill's daughter videotaped the wedding ceremony/dance. Ninety-eight couples took to the floor at the Grand Ballroom of Union Station, and said our I Dos.

Later when viewing the video, four-year-old Ashley said, "WOW! I didn't know there was an earthquake at your wedding." There wasn't. Robin had a shaky hand while filming from the balcony. But I have been rocking with my big old guy for many years.

We have been laughing together for 33 years. We dated for five years, have been married for 28. I have never been happier. We are soul mates. I am blessed. 

We have left our footprints on Florida and Caribbean beaches, ball rooms, dance floors, campgrounds, cruise ships. We have lived and loved. Each day we appreciate one another more. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Hey, why won't my bike work?

 Last week St. Louis had a doozy of a winter storm. First we received freezing rain, and then almost a foot of snow in our neighborhood. Yesterday the temperature zoomed to 64 degrees here, and the snow began to melt. 

The driveway was cleared, so Alex and Charlie were excited to be able to ride their bikes outdoors. They asked if they could ride ON THE DEEP SNOW. I nodded, and they squealed with anticipation talking nonstop and fast about how they were going to slip and slide and spin and turn circles and beat one another. So rather than dissuade them, I said, "Sure! You can put your bikes up in the snow. Have fun."

That frozen snow bank was still about a foot high. Alex carefully positioned his tricycle on the mound, giggling and telling Charlie he would race him. Charlie took the bait and positioned his bike on the deep, frozen mound. The snow crunched as they climbed on their trikes...
 and promptly sunk down into the snow. 

I laughed as hard as they did as they tried to figure out why THEY couldn't drive on snow like cars had been. They decided the mostly cleared drive way, with a few icy spots would work, and off they went.

Have you ever been convinced that your idea would work, only to discover first hand that you were wrong? The best teacher in my opinion is experience.

We took the opportunity to discuss the properties of snow and watch it melt and trickle down the sewer. They put leaves and rocks and sticks on the run-off and spent fifteen minutes exploring how, why, what, and where. Science outdoors. 

When I taught, I told parents, "I will teach your children how to think not what to think." Kids really do learn best by DOING.


Monday, February 7, 2022

Scammers going to scam!

 Be careful, folks. Hubby opened his computer and saw a screen that indicated the laptop was inoperable and had been hijacked with malware.

"Better call the Geek Squad at Best Buy." I suggested. "I'll Google their number."

After hearing a recording from Best Buy, a man with a Nigerian accent came on the line and claimed he could help us. He said, "It is terrible what they are doing to senior citizens. We have been dealing with this for weeks."

And then, he asked us to give him access to the computer so he could repair etc. The clincher, he asked for $2,500.00  When I squealed, "We cannot afford that!" he said, "Oh do not cry dear lady. Sit back and relax. I can do it for $250.00. Do you have credit cards or Amazon?" 

When I questioned him, he gave me his name and email. I paused a bit too long, so he asked for Bill. He began to get irate and said, "If you do not trust me, disconnect right now!"

And so we did. 

Took the laptop to Best Buy. The first question they asked is, "Did you Google our phone number?"

NOW WE KNOW. That's how they infiltrate.

The Geek Squad removed viruses and said there is no way to completely prevent future viruses, but to be cautious.

We did spend $200.00 for a three-year plan on all our devices. 

When we picked up the laptop, we had a message from Amazon that someone tried to spend $250.00 but they cancelled the attempted transaction.

Dirty rotten scammers. 

On a happy note, the weather is rebounding and hopefully the 55 degrees expected tomorrow will melt this foot of snow still lingering on side streets and at mailboxes.