Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Three day celebration

Despite the brutally cold temperatures and cyclone bomb snowfall that hammered the Midwest last week, we made it through unscathed. No burst pipes or power outages. We were thankful for a warm home and lots of fuzzy blankets to snuggle under as we watched Christmas movies.

During this horrible deep freeze I ran inside and out all day long with food and water for the birds and squirrels. 
Our back yard motion detector spotlighted an animal and illuminated our bedroom at 3:00 a.m. I dashed to the window and caught sight of a big orange cat with a fluffy tail climbing over the fence. Feeling sorry for it, I hurried outside, shivering in my nightgown and slippers. I tossed a handful of cat kibble.

At 7:00 a.m. when my husband woke up, he checked the outdoor video camera on the computer.
"Honey, come here! You have to see this fox that visited us about 3:00 a.m."

Next time I will put on my glasses before mad dashing to the window and out the door. 

This was our best Christmas ever. We celebrated with my daughter and her family, my son and his family, and Bill's two girls and grown grandkids who came from near and far.

We had a delightful holiday, especially with the great grandsons. Liam, eight-years-old was so happy with his Pokemon gift from us. Imagine eyes wide as saucers, and you get the picture.
Alex, five, greeted us at the door and tried to make a  few last minute Santa points. "I have been good all day and I even cleaned my room, today." His good behavior paid off. He received many gifts from his grandparents and great grands on Christmas Eve that made him squeal with delight. Christmas morning brought more exciting presents. 

He made a forever memory at the farm. Oldest grandson Kyle invited Alex to ride in the enclosed tractor to dump bales of hay for the cows and horses. Alex wants to be a farmer so badly. This was a dream for him.

And Charlie, who is four, jumped on Papa Bill's lap the minute we arrrived and he shouted, "I'm gonna get your nose!" Then he pretended to eat Papa's nose. Bill had more fun roughhousing with the boys than opening his gifts. 

Kyle's & Abby's house and heated garage overflowed with family and friends. When we played Rob Your Neighbor, Charlie was miffed when somebody "stole" his cake pop maker. He ended up with it anyway.

We ate an abundance of food, had an abundance of fun, and counted our abundant blessing for three days. I hope you had a good holiday, too.  

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Night Before with Mr. and Mrs. Claus

I lived 100 miles from North Pole, Alaska in 1969-70 (army life off base with my ex, a soldier).  Typical winter windchills were negative 35 to -50 degrees. My breath would freeze in clouds and my words would actually fall when I spoke. Quite an experience.

I am concerned for the people and animals in the path of this dangerous winter storm predicted to dump snow and bring temperatures with windchills in the minus 25 range. I hope you stay safe and have a very happy holiday. I wrote this years ago, but it always gets a chuckle. Enjoy!  

Mrs. Claus’ Point of View

'T was the night before Christmas at the North Pole,
Old Santa was edgy, feeling quite droll.
Mrs. Claus was baking, and 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."
Wiping her hands on her apron she 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.

"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 little blue pill, 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!"

by Linda O'Connell

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Making a difference, leaving your legacy, being a word keeper

Someone who writes or dictates a story.

Images such as old holiday cards make fantastic writing prompts. The authors of these pieces are four- and five-years-old.
Wouldn't a grandparent love a story authored by your little ones? This activity increases reasoning, creative and critical thinking, and confidence.
When you write it as they say it (verbatim) the stories bring joy.

I prompt with WH questions: who, what, where, why, how; can you tell me one more thing?  
I value all ideas, praise their efforts, nod, smile, and comment positively. Age-appropriate goal for four year olds: stay on topic for four (or more) related sentences. Five year olds, five or more sentences.

Sometimes during my 40 year career as an early childhood teacher, when I did these THINK ABOUT IT literacy activities I had to redirect without squashing ideas and overpowering with censorship.

 "Wow! You have good ideas. I like how you think. Can you think of another idea rather than shooting, killing, eating the....?" I asked the child who insisted on violence to imagine a kinder, nicer, less harmful idea. And they always complied. I hung the students' stories in the hall. In all those years I only had one boy tell his mom, "She left out the part about ... (violence)." I said, "Yes you did say that. Thanks for reminding me." Acknowledged and moved on.  

Charlie is a creative thinker and talks incessantly. Ideas about everything pour forth. He is funny. yes he said, "I welcome." 

Alex's first response is usually, "I don't know," or "I can't remember."
I have to encourage him by saying, "I don't know either, and whatever your idea is will be your story. Now use your imagination." Encouragement works. In four months he has gained confidence. He told this story with very few verbal prompts. He kept going. This is progress! 

I know this is a busy time of year, but if you have a few extra minutes, won't you sit down and write a letter/story or help a young child create a keepsake story?

 My greatest accolades came this week from several of my former students' parents who told me they still post their child's preK holiday stories at Christmas. Their children are in college or are grads or married adults. 
My most memorbale story, was dictated by a boy who selected a manger scene (card front) and "wrote" about the shepherd going to visit the baby Jesus and sneezing all over him. LOL 


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Ho-ho, hack- hack, but we are back

The holidays are fun when little children are not flushed, fevered, and full of phlegm. Alex and Charlie had a rough week. Then their older brother's class had a winter concert, and Liam came down with the crud, too. I have already had it and recuperated.

Since Bill has been barking like a seal for more than a week (on anitbiotics) I decided to drive to the boys' home so the little guys could stay in their own beds and sleep all day. Nothing like a back rub from Nana to help the healing. It's been an exhausting week. But we are back!

They were so excited to learn THEY could cut and lace a paper stocking and cut an oval. When they weren't looking I turned the oval into a mouse and added a candy cane striped paper straw for a tail and inserted the mouse into the stocking with the tail exposed. I read them Mouse's First Snow, then I handed them their craft project. They squealed, "A candy cane!" Their frowns turned to laughter when they saw it was a mouse with a candy striped tail. Alex loves stuffies, and he kept saying, "I love this so much."
Charlie was into bling. I colored a tree on a piece of cardboard and covered it with contact paper (inverted so sticky side is out) and they did math activity: roll the dice, place corresonding amount of jewels on the tree. This is a fun group game if each participant counts out 20 jewels. First one to place all gets a real candy cane! 

I hope you are enjoying the pre-holiday fun with you and yours, and steering clear of those viruses floating around. 

I am getting the urge to bake cookies. I always make multiple batches of peanut butter, but I know if I do, I will eat too many, too soon, and I will be sorry. 

Do you bake holiday cookies?

Monday, December 5, 2022

Kitty has a new best friend

Sassy Boy, also called Buddy, is a lazy, old cat. He loves snuggling with Bill. You should hear Bill sweet talk this fat cat. 
I just heard him say, "You are making me live longer, Buddy."
I'd have to agree with that.
This eight-year-old mewoer is interested in what I am doing, watching me putting up decorations and the tree. He was very curious about the blue-eyed Santa, and then I figured out why. A few minutes before I picked up Santa, I had grabbed a handful of kibble to put in kitty's dish. He must have smelled his food on the jolly old elf. He is ever hopeful he might find another bite.

I have trained him to say MAMA when he wants food. He sits by his dish and meows. When I walk over he says Mawww Maww. It is so cute, and annoying because he would eat non-stop.

Happy holidays from our house to yours. I am grateful for my blog friends. Is your house decorated?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Almost a tragedy

Yesterday at 2:30, we heard the school bus pull up in front of our house on a four lane street to drop off the two middle school boys next door. Then we heard an awful boom, grinding, and metal on metal collision.

Seems a BMW driver driving at high rate of speed passed the bus on the right side at our curb and drove up on our sidewalk, just as the bus driver opened her door to let the boys exit. Before they did, the car driver nearly ripped the school bus door off and sent shattered glass imploding into the bus. Kids screaming, but unhurt. Female bus driver shook up and in disbelief that the BMW would deliberately pass on the right on the sidewalk.

We figured the driver didn't realize the bus was stopped (along with two lanes of traffic) and tried to avoid rear ending a vehicle at a high rate of speed.

Can only hope nobody would deliberately ... It was a hit and run. Busted up our concrete sewer; rebar exposed.

We are so thankful the neighbor boys are unhurt and alive.
What a fright.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

How much turkey can one woman eat?

 Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I am grateful for my readers. I have so many blessings for which to be thankful.

I have to share a Charlie quip. I did a paper plate turkey craft with him. He snipped eight colored feathers and I wrote on each one. I asked him something he was grateful, thankful, happy, glad for.

He named his family members, yougurt, sour cream, gum, outside, parks, playgrounds. He was stumped. Finally he said, "I know! I am thankful I finally quit peeing my pants at night." He's had a few accidents.

It was difficult to keep a straight face and acknowledge his blessings. He was so serious.

We cooked our turkey Monday and have been feasting on it and all the trimmings for days.

Today we will be celebrating with Bill's daughter, Robin and her family, joined by Bill's other daughter Michele and her family. We will be visiting with their kids. All of our "babies" are grown, but they will always be our babies. Some are newlyweds, or recent college graduates, or home from out-of-state university where they are doing research and pursuing advanced degrees. 

Their hugs are gentler now that we are older. Their bodies are big, but their hearts remain kiddos. We are still Paw-paw and Nana.

We will be visiting my children later this week, eating two more turkey dinners. THEN, I diet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Saved by a bird and monsters

 Imagine minus fifty degrees, whipping wind, and pitch dark at 2:30 p.m. when the school buses rumbled down our gravel road plinking loose gravel at the sides of our faded green, old trailer on School Road. The stars looked so bright and close you could almost reach up and pluck one. But going outdoors caused breath clouds that froze in midair.

Entertainment was limited to personal interaction with other army wives who played Yahtzee, or watching the only television show, Military History Channel on T.V. Boring! 

In the evening, the six o'clock news was aired live from Fairnbanks, 100 miles away. When the male newscaster came on live, he was often caught licking his palm and slicking his hair down. After local news, Walter Cronkite broadcasted DAY OLD world news. The news reels had to be flown from Seattle to Alaska EACH DAY after the late news in the lower forty-eight. 

You could say we were a day late and a dollar short. We seldom had six cents left over at the end of the month for a postage stamp to write home about our daily lives in Delta Junction, Alaska, a small frontier town at the end of the Alcan Highway.

I discovered two major things in November 1969. I was expecting a baby. YAY! A new television show made its debut. In the first episode, Gordon took a little girl, Sally, on tour of the set to meet Gordon, Susan, Bob, and Mr. Hooper. Names not familiar? How about Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch?

Suddenly my TV viewing options improved. I snuggled in long johns, pajamas, socks, wrapped myself in an olive drab, woolen army blanket, and sat on our couch (a discarded school bus seat with a spring popping up) for most of winter that year. Sesame Street saved my sanity when everyone was going stir crazy from the deep freeze and dark days and nights.  

Happy fifty-third bithday, Sesame Street! 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

One ringy dingy; one hour or two; volunteers needed

 Ashley, my great grandson Charlie's mama, looked just like him when she was his age, except she had shoulder length blonde curls. She was as smart, talkative, bold and bubbly as Charlie, too.

I saw a commercial on TV today for the Salvation Army bell ringers. They are  notorious for their red kettles in which they collect donations for the needy. They are in need of bell ringers.

          This is not Ashley. Photo credit: Salvation Army website.

I was reminded of when Ashley was three years old and verbose. My daughter and I were holiday shopping, and at each store we gave Ashley a handful of coins to drop into the red kettles to help the needy. 

Each time she did, the bell ringer would hand her a Salvation Army magazine and say, "God bless you!"

After the third time, she stopped and looked directly at the man and said, "Why do you guys always God Bless me when I don't even sneeze?! And why do you keep giving me the same Karate Kid magazine?"

The cover was a shepherd wearing a head band.

Oh that girl has given me some laugh lines over the years. The hilarity continues. Her two littles are four and five, and they say exactly what they think, too. Thank goodness for eight-year-old Liam who tries to temper his little brothers' freedom of speech. LOL 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Just no stopping it!

There is no stopping some things.  

The boys are growing like weeds. The littles are reading simple words and so proud of themselves; they are very interested in learning. 

Liam is going to be taller than me by his ninth birthday. He was off school for voting, so I took him and his brothers to Suson Park/Farm. They played at the playground, walked around the lake, visited farm animals, and then we headed to Wendy's for $5.00 meal deals. Home for a nap for the littles. Liam thinks he's too big, so he played video games. 

No stopping it. When your body talks, listen! After Charlie and Alex woke up I couldn't find Liam anywhere. Discovered him completely under the covers, stretched across the foot of my bed, snoozing. Had to wake him when his mom came. 

My story, Grease Generously is being read around the world in Chicken Soup for the Soul, My Wonderful, Wacky Family. This one is hilarious. Every family has a wackadoodle. In this case, it was ME. I hope you get a chance to read it.

I also had an essay published in Prairie Times, above the fold, front page! This story is near and dear to my heart about zooming. No, not what you think. This is about a winter day with my son and grandson when I took a dare. 

I have been missing from blog reading and posting because I foolishly ate popcorn with chocolate drizzle. No stopping it, diverticulosis as a result.  Ouch! A week of liquid diet and rest. I am better now, and I am back. I missed you.

The weather in St. Louis, MO has been delightful. Today it is going to be 80 degrees. Can you believe it? But there is no stopping it: winter's arrival. Tomorrow and thereafter, 40s for highs and 20s for lows.  

Monday, October 24, 2022

Alex and Charlie nailed it!

October has been a fun month with the boys. They were happily surprised to find a large pumpkin in the classroom. They tried coloring it with crayon which didn't work very well. Then they decorated it with markers, which worked very well for my little scribblers.

We took it outside on a sunny day and sat in the driveway using hammers and golf tees to pound into the pumpkin. We extended the activity by hammering words and alphabet letters that they recognize. 

By the time they were finished, they had nailed those words and letters, and they had a fun time doing it.

This week we will remove the golf tees and send the pumpkin home so they can watch the deer and wildlife come eat it.


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Nature's thrills

Autumn is my favorite season. I am in my glory, love the sights and smells of the changing season. Have energy! Even though I do not like or look forward to the shorter daylight hours, I love the majestic trees and thrill at the secrets that float through the back door on a breeze: someone is cooking cabbage. A pizza is in someone's oven, and I know who is going to have pumpkin pie or muffins for desert.
As the leaves let go, the sound of the freight train off in the distance, on it's predawn run, seems louder with fewer buffers to dull the rumble.  My imagination runs along those rail tracks from state to state imagining...

Alex and Charlie and I went to the park to crunch in leaves, look for colorful baby maple leaves, and sing songs to squirrels. 

They rode their trikes on downhill paths, one zooming out of sight and the other bellyaching it was too hard to peddle back. But they did, with a little help from me. We had fun, made memories, enjoyed the sun on our cheeks and the breeze in our hair. Ahhh, fall.

The boys posed for me, and I developed the photos of them "blowing" then pressed the leaves we collected between contact paper to preserve them. I can't get Alex's picture to post correctly, but it is equally as cute. 

Are the leaf colors peaking where you are?

Sunday, October 9, 2022

I've been shot.

I scheduled my second Covid booster for Friday evening at a local pharmacy.

I thought I knew what I was in for since I have had terrible reactions to the vaccines. Literally wiped out and suffering from teeth-chattering chills, but no fever, for one and a half to two days. Doctor tells me that means I have a strong antibody.  

If only THAT had been the worst of it. I filled out my paperwork and when the pharmacy tech called my name, she asked if I was back in town. I told her I'd never left town. She asked my birthdate and middle name again. Then she said, "I see you have recently received the vaccination."

Nope! "Well that's weird, there is another person with your exact name and birthdate, and she lives in your zip code.

I laughed and explained I had received her birth control pills once when I was waiting for antibiotics. We had a laugh. Then she asked when I returned to St. Louis from Kentucky.

"Never been there, didn't reside there, but last year when I received my first booster the paharmacist entered my address as a town in Kentucky. 

Her eyes widened and she said, "Wow! That is jacked up! Should have never happened. Has fouled up everything in the system. This is serious."

I had caught the error and asked the pharmacist to enter my correct address, and they claimed they did. I even called the next day to confirm. They said it was taken care of.

Pharmacy tech said, "Obviously if they changed it, they didn't SAVE the changes. Serious stuff!"

I asked, "As in sue the pharmacy, serious?"

"Oh no-no-no. I can take care of this, but it sure is jacked up."

Now, I ask you, would YOU have chosen that terminology even if it WAS jacked up?

Perhaps, in my heading I should have said I've been innoculated or vaccinated instead of shot. See how words matter?

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Hey, Teacher!

 There is something amazing about friendships that survive pandemics, long distance division, and the imminent arrival of a hurricane.

Dianna Graveman, Mary Menke, and I met through St. Louis Writer's Guild. Dianna, a fabulous writer/editor moved to Florida six years ago, and Mary also a fabulous writer, who lives in town, has been busy teaching and editing.

Dianna and I each developed anthologies for Publishing Syndicate and produced titles in the Not Your Mother's book collections. We've done book signings and presentations together at conferences and writing workshops. We are writers who write! 

Former teachers (grade levels from prekindergarten through college) and published writers, we all felt a strong connection.

When Dianna mentioned she was coming in town for a brief weekend stay, we reunited. The best part about seeing our dear friend (and how much weight she's lost) was being able to pick up right where we'd left off six years ago. Now that speaks to our close friendships despite absences and life's ups and downs. 

Schlafly's outdoor patio on a fall afternoon was the perfect place to gather, gab, and grab a bite. 

I have lost so many friends early in life, so I know how important it is to stay connected. I treasure these friends. 

Dianna's family had minimal hurricane damage and now we are all off in our own whirlwinds doing what we do best, writing, editing, living life's crazy ups and downs. 

How do  you foster friendships?  

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ups and downs

Life is fragile and precious, and I am feeling an abundance of emotions. I was going to post a photo of me with my late, best friend Sheila, who passed away on this day a few years ago. Our forty-six-year friendship began in Alaska when we were 19 year-old soldiers' wives and neighbors. 

I just reread old blog posts about us. I cannot bear to read about her last days of suffering side effects of brain cancer in remission. Suffice it to say we were best friends until the end, and the end came too soon. She would have loved my three great-grandsons. She loved all children, much as I do. The scarecrow is not one my great-grands. Liam is in school. So I will focus on my precious and precocious babies.

Yesterday, after a busy preschool morning and lunch, I took Alex and Charlie to the park.

The boys were convinced they would see Owen, a little boy their age who had befriended them last week. They'd chased one another up and down slides and all over for half an hour. They had so much fun, they talked about Owen for days.

When we arrived at the park yesterday, there were six little girls and one younger boy on the playground. I went to get Charlie from his carseat. He looked dejected. I asked, "What's wrong, buddy?" 

He replied, "I can't talk to you right now, Nana. I am too sad Owen is not here. I miss him so much."

I understood my little guy. I miss my dear friend Sheila who gave me years of friendship and happiness and a life line, via long distance letters, phone calls, and vacations when life got hectic. 

Those big Tinker Toy-type toys remind me not to cage myself into a sad, depressive state for too long.

Everyday has something to celebrate and be thankful for. FRIENDSHIPS are at the top of my list. If you read my blog, I consider you a blog FRIEND, and I thank you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Is it an ending or beginning?

Summer is coming to an end, and fall is right around the bend.

Alex and Charlie had fun at the pool, but now it's time for back to school.
We are having excellent mornings learning in Pre K, and we go outside every day.

I packed away the water toys, beach towels, and pool. Then Mother Nature went off the deep end... and so much for COOL! 

Yesterday should have been 80 but was 97 degrees. The boys said, "Nana, Nana, water PLEASE?" 

They chalked the drive way, their trikes, legs, and knees! 

Which is your favorite season? And what is your reason?

Sunday, September 11, 2022

A hero named Daniel

We met a man named Daniel on a cruise years ago. He and his wife were our table mates at dinner. He relayed a very emotional story about what happened to HIM on 9/11/01. 

He was a first responder at ground zero. He and his partner raced up many flights of steps to rescue people. Midway down he did something he  deeply regretted. He left his partner, something he was trained never to do. He continued down stairs and along the way found an elderly woman and carried her down many flights.

When his mental state of mind became fragile, his grandmother helped him along by telling him God put him in that place to save that woman's life. That is what helped saved him from alcholism and survivor's guilt. Daniel is a wonderful man, father, husband who was there and is now in a positive state of mind. I send him a message every year on this date letting him know he is in our thoughts and prayers. 

I DID NOT KNOW what TO DO, so I...

 In commemoration of all the lives lost on 9/11/01

The Feelings Flag by Linda O'Connell

published in Chicken Soup for the Soul The Spirit of America, 2016

I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the first of the Twin Towers. I thought, what an horrific accident. I felt terrible for the people on that plane, and for those in the World Trade Center building. I did not realize that the horror had only just begun.

I turned on my car radio on my way to work and listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had made impact.

I arrived at school a few minutes later. No one was quite sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you hear about the plane crashes in NY?"

The gravity of the situation -America was under attack- was like a punch in the gut. We all felt winded, worried, and wounded.

 My preschool classroom was in the lower level of an inner city middle school. What I remember most is the panicked young man in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at war!"

"Calm down," I said. "Don't jump to conclusions. Nobody knows for sure what's going on. This does not mean WAR."

They insisted they saw it on TV and that military jets were intercepting other planes.

walked into my classroom, and watched as my students went about their school day, unaware of the attacks, I knew they were okay. My aide was capable, so I left her in charge.

I felt compelled to do something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension and confusion the middle school students were feeling, although I was not in charge of any of them. I cut
twelve- inch by two-inch strips of red, white and blue construction paper into strips, the kinds  kids use to create paper chains. I did not consult the principal or counselor. I acted on impulse. I visited each classroom and intruded on each classroom teacher. I asked each if might have a moment, then I said, "Nobody knows exactly what is going on. We've all heard rumors and news reports. It's a frightening time for all of us."

 I passed out strips of paper to the students and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment. Any fears, any words— anything would be acceptable. Some asked about spelling, and some asked if they should sign it.

"If you want to," I said.

I collected more than 200 strips and rolled them into  loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I read an outpouring of emotional comments. "I am afraid." "I want to kick their behinds." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

I posted one after another, row after row, until an American flag took shape. Some of the comments were laced with misspelled words and profanity; some were smeared with tears. I did not censor. I stapled every single one. I stood back and admired that "feelings flag".

At lunch I stood against the wall and observed teens and preteens, who were usually destructive with bulletin board displays, as they searched for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, owning their emotions, giving voice to their fears and frustrations, initiating conversations.

On that horrible day, when America came under attack, I didn't know if my actions would do any good. It just felt good to do something. My friend Tammy said,

'With that spontaneous action, you gave children a voice when no one knew what to say."

The bulletin board flag stayed up for more than  a week. Then the strips began disappearing as individuals claimed their sections... and their feelings.



Friday, September 9, 2022

Does your house need a paint job?

Sassy Cat and the boys are at an impasse. When they come near him, he sits and meows for a treat.
 Alex and Charlie tell me Sassy is "sassing" them and getting ready to strike out.
I have yet to convince them that he's merely begging. They refuse to go past him if he is in their path, and Sassy refuses to move out of their way. So several times a day I have to intervene. They know how to get a few morsels of kibble and put it in his bowl. But so far they ALL need my intervention.

They have associated his name with a word they know: sassing. Language development and vocabulary in action! 

Sassy is a sweet, eight-years-old kitty who loves his "mama" but adores his "dad" and MUST be near one of us at all times. He sits at the back door and cries to come out when we sit on  the patio. He's content to just sit on the picnic table and watch the birds and squirrels in our yard. He doesn't dart or  need an outcome: chasing prey. He  enjoys the experience of observing. When Bill goes inside, his boy jumps up and goes with him.

Have you ever done something simply for the enjoyment of the process of DOING? 

Alex and Charlie have been "painting" the house with water, a roller, and a paint brush.
Process vs: product is part of our preK day. Some days their art turns out to be "something".  Other days it turns into a fun activity that allows them to simply enjoy the process and explore the use of the tools.
Not every paint project has to have an identifiable outcome. I refrain from asking, What is it? Often they don't know until they have manipulated the materials for a while, plus it changes as they explore. 

Have YOU done anything lately simply to enjoy the process?

If you are a writer, choose four words at random from the dictionary and play with them, just for the fun of it. You don't have to produce a poem or paragraph. Just do word play and enjoy the process. 


Friday, September 2, 2022

Do you know how to make an impact?

Summer fun was educational, adventuresome, and involved hands-on learning activities for Liam age 8, Alex who turned five, and Charlie who turned four-years-old. We visited so many parks, playgrounds, pools, and splash pads.

This particular park, The Heights, was our favorite. It is next door to Richmond Heights Recreation Center/Library just before Highway 40 at Hanley. It has an outdoor naturescape: trails, plants, trees, sand, oodles of places to discover and hide in, and a delightful playground.

This is one of my all time favorite photos because it represents innocense and brotherly love, even though they do argue frequently. Liam is a peace keeper and wonderful big brother. 
In May, when Liam was told he would be spending three days a week with me and two with my daughter, he was not thrilled to have to be doing "little kid stuff", as he called it. 

He soon learned age has its privileges. He had access to the downstairs freezer: ice cream sandwiches and mini sodas in our lower level fridge. He went downstairs to play video games while his brothers napped. He spent a couple hours relaxing and munching in the preK class area... being left alone. 

I did not push academics, but did insist he write a composition or essay before returning to school for third grade. He was SO excited to be going back to school.
I told him how in my day the teachers always asked students to write a theme on what they did over summer vacation. 

He and his family went to Branson, but he said he had most fun with them at the Science Center. Mom and dad allowed him to ride a flight simulator. He laughed telling me how his parents worked to assemble huge, soft blocks to form a tall arch. He laughed when it toppled on him and his brothers.

I mentioned how important a hook sentence is. He wanted to write: This summer I went to the Science Center. 

I told him instead to write: This summer my parents knocked the arch over onto my brothers and me.

He became irate and told me I did not know what I was talking about. He reluctantly did as I instructed, but he crabbed, "If anyone asks me about this dumb sentence, I'm telling them YOU MADE ME DO IT!" 

I smiled and said, "Great!"

After he finished his composition, I read it to him using HIS opening sentence. And then again with MINE.

He looked up at me amazed and said, "Yeah, I see what you did there. I get it now. That is a better opener."

I hope he takes that simple writing lesson with him throughout his life.

I hope if you are a writer, you too will write a dynamic hook sentence and make your readers want to read more-more-more.

I'm going to leave you with one more thought: surprise is a great element. On our last day together I said, "Buddy, I'll bet when I see you for Christmas break, you will have grown up to my chin."

He darted over to stand face to face with me. The top of his head reached my chin! We laughed and laughed at that surprise. He has grown in so many ways.

I wonder if he would have accepted this as another impact opener? This summer I grew another foot.
Or: My great grandma can now eat a bowl of ice cream off my head.

Have fun writing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Have you ever experienced the unexplainable?

I am proud to announce my story, The Moose, will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Miracles and the Unexplainable, launch date September 13, 2022 everywhere books are sold and online. 

This is the 33rd Chicken Soup book in which my stories have been published and shared world-wide.

My story oringinally titled, Heaven Sent, is very dear to my heart and almost unbelievable, but I swear it happened, and there were three witnesses who can attest. 

I have had many unexplainable events, prayers answered, and unusual occurences in my life, but this was truly a God send. I thrill at the memory.

The 101 stories in this collection will make a believer out of readers, cause them to nod, sigh with satisfaction, and touch them deeply. 

This particular title would make a great holiday gift for family and friends, your church or synagogue, a hospital or nursing home, someone going through a rough time... anyone. 

I believe life's mysteries are often heavens gifts. What do you think?  

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Are you a writer in action, a builder of stories?

Sometimes, no matter where you are in life, you need a helping hand to get over a hurdle, to make a little progress, or reach a goal. Even when you think you have outgrown something, there is always something new to learn, a bit of enjoyment in reconnecting with your earlier self. 

The boys discovered their old stroller in my car trunk, and well, I could have said, "Absolutely not." Instead, I said, "Why not?" 

They had a so much fun pushing one another up and down the driveway. Five-year-old Alex used all his might to push his eight-year-old brother Liam. Alex gleefully rejoiced when he was able to propel his brother back up the incline. He felt a certain degree of success. "I did it!"
It was easier to push four-year-old Charlie, who squealed with delight at getting a free ride.

Liam became the brains and brawn of this operation, explaining the physics, the reasoning as to why something would or wouldn't work as well, this way or that... sharing knowledge he has already gained about the brakes and motion. Alex liked being in charge, but Liam supervised.

The boys discovered a surprise last week. They had a great time creating with Lincoln Logs. Liam, who is heading back to school, built a fabulous building but couldn't figure out how to make windows. It was all I could do to sit back and observe. Sometimes trial and error and experience are the best teachers. When he was finished, I showed him how to incorporate the smaller building logs to make openings. But first he tried his way. Despite his initial disappoinment that his structure did not have windows, he was proud of his accomplishment.

Alex is mechanically inclined and built with great fervor, designing on a smaller scale but adding his entire structure into Liam's as a garage.

Charlie is into tornadoes and is a whirlwind himself. He simply manipulated the materials, telling us a tornado knocked his down. If unsupervised, I can tell you his brothers' buildings would have met with destruction. He is just learning the basics, the fundamentals of stacking, interlocking etc.

Writers are builders, too. We pile one word onto another to create one sentence, and then our sentences become paragraphs... until we have an essay, article, chapter, or book. We go back and revise to make our work stronger. Sometimes we destroy our own work. It's all part of learning. 

Write on, readers! Write for your self. Write for others. Write for posterity or publication, but WRITE. Writers write; they don't just talk about writing.   


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?"


"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.