A Maverick Woman

A recent situation arose in our family, which immediately returned me to our New Jersey home some twenty-plus years ago. It was the time that Jamie misbehaved  and Dad retaliated by removing her toys from her room. She continued her unacceptable behavior and did not stop until Dad removed her desk chair. (“Not my chair,” she said followed by “I’ll be good. I’ll be good!”) See You’re in Trouble with a Capital “T.”

Now the culprit was the 2 ½ year old of the family, who was practicing the skills she had just learned in her new gymnastics class by repeatedly climbing over the gate at her bedroom door. Not one to always listen to commands, particularly when she believes her actions are somehow wildly hysterical and worth any possible punishment, she ignored the orders to stop. That is when her mommy decided to resurrect the not-my-chair punishment.

Being her own woman—a maverick—this did not work. I believe one of her parents had to snuggle with her until she drifted off to sleep.

That is not the end of the story. On her first day of school after this incident, she returned home with her own report of her morning in pre-school. She mentioned the snack of the day (cheesy crackers she told me) and the fact that she had gotten into trouble. Apparently, she was comfortable with her surroundings, and as she does when in any place where she feels at home, our little cutie removed her shoes. The rest of the class responded in kind by removing their shoes. The teachers were not pleased.

She is a leader—a strong woman. I look forward to what she becomes.




The Future’s Not Ours to See

We have a budding horticulturist in the family. (Pun was definitely intended!) At just 2 ½ years old, Lily has surprised us with her interest in flowers, trees, bushes, and herbs. During each visit to my house, she insists on going outside to check out all that is growing. She points to each flower, tree, and bush and asks, “What is that called?” Sometimes, I do not know, so I am brushing up on the names of each plant in my yard.

She is beginning to recognize some, already identifying my crepe myrtles, roses, lilies (that’s a given), basil, and lantanas. Sometimes she cannot recall the name, but if I walk to a specific area and ask her to point out the lantana or the Mexican petunias, she has no difficulty answering correctly. We pick a few flowers and then carefully place them in a vase so she can admire the plants while inside my cool, air-conditioned house.

I believe her plant fascination began after I showed her my pumpkin garden, so our pumpkin patch is always the first stop on our walk around the yard.

Sadly, I am concerned about the possibility of even a single pumpkin surviving because they are apparently tasty snacks for our local deer, rabbits, and squirrels.

“Oh, no, Grandma!” she cries each time as she sees another flower bitten off the plants since her last visit.

On a recent visit downtown, she pointed out all the crepe myrtles she saw as she gazed out of the car window, and on a trip to an uncle’s home in Asheville, she was equally inquisical about the names of his plants.

What will her future bring? Que Sera Sera.



Thanksgiving in July

Last weekend was a joyful gathering of our family. Everyone from the photo taken in the Virginia “cabinet” (Bryce’s name for that house, not mine) last July was present except for my soon-to-be third son. Dad’s sister acted as his placeholder.

Each of our out-of-town guests descended on the house at various times on Saturday, and since Casey had to leave early on Monday, we had just one day when we were all together. It is a rare occasion when this happens, which is why I called it a joyful gathering. I am easily pleased.

We had no plans for the day beyond just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. Jamie needed a beach cover-up and Dad and I wanted a French-press coffee maker, so the womenfolk headed out to the store. As an avowed shopping hater, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed running around TJ Maxx with my three girls and sister-in-law. I had the best time!

Returning home, we played board games with the grandkids, colored, created pizzas with purple and green Play Doh, rebuilt the fort, and then all played an alternative form of hide-and-seek—“Sardines.” One person hides while the others close their eyes and count in unison. After reaching 30, the group disperses, and when someone locates the hidden person, then the “finder” must join that individual.

The hiding spot must be large enough to accommodate a crowd, and I must say that it is difficult to all squeeze together while at the same time, remain quiet. This game just invites giggling. The last person to find the group becomes the next hider. Try it, you’ll like it!

We ended the weekend gathered around the dining room table for a raucous dinner. I admit I cooked too much, and someone commented that it seemed like Thanksgiving in July, particularly since we had many of our traditional Turkey Day sides—sweet potatoes, green beans, applesauce, and a nice pork roast.

So when America is celebrating Thanksgiving Day in November, I will be able to look back and remember when my family celebrated Thanksgiving 2018 one hot summer day in July. Did anyone take a photo?

Storms Clouds are Rolling In

I think we can all agree that children are intelligent. They are constantly absorbing details and listening to what we are discussing. (Remember this before you speak.) It was therefore no surprise that Bryce has become interested in weather forecasting, just like his father.

During his recent vacation to our house, we spent the day at the home of our friends. We all swam in their pool, had a lovely lunch on their deck, saw the bees in the nearby hives, and enjoyed the view of the lake.

While I was satisfied with merely enjoying the scenery, the children wanted more. For Bryce, that meant trying to catch fish with a net and eventually, falling into the lake.

It did not take long for his eyes to wander away from the water, where he discovered a rowboat sitting idly by just waiting for attention. Before long, the three men were preparing to load the boat into the water. That was when the weather gene kicked in. Our little forecaster pointed to the cloudy sky and asked if we should be concerned about a potential storm approaching us.

My friend, Mary, was impressed, but not I. On more than one occasion, he has looked skyward and stated, “Grandma, there are storm clouds rolling in.” His dad is the family weatherman and is very savvy with interpreting weather maps, so this concern came as no surprise to me.

Bryce has discussed his dilemma in trying to decide what to be when he grows up, because “there are too many choices.” So now he is thinking about working in an office with Dad, helping Mom with her camera, becoming a teacher like Aunt Jamie, and alerting South Carolina of “storm clouds rolling in.”

Just a Little Hitch in the Plans

Let the countdown officially begin today, dear family and friends. For in just 365 days, the wedding that our family has been impatiently awaiting since Bush 43 is finally happening. Nestled in a brewery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, another family will join ours and I will now have my third son.

The plans are moving forward:  the venue and photographer have been chosen, and we will meet with a florist next weekend. A cake tasting has been done, and next month, we will shop for the dress.

Unfortunately, we did not anticipate that the state of Virginia would cause us some anxiety because their laws regarding acceptable officiants is not as liberal as the state of New Jersey. As you all know, our last family wedding was performed by Reverend Cousin Chris, who was able to get ordained via the Internet. Internet ordinations are not recognized in the Commonwealth of Virginia, so the plans for two very dear friends of the bride and groom to seal the deal need to be altered.

With the help of a family friend who practices law in Virginia, we were given our options: The happy couple can hire a local officiant, get married ahead of the festivities in their more open-minded state, or we can sue the state of Virginia. Although we all thought the third option could be fun, the bride and groom-to-be rejected it and are now deciding what to do.

I have a fourth choice, although I believe the likelihood of my idea happening is somewhere between slim to none. As we all know, Casey would think she had died and gone to heaven if her number 1 most admired person in her world performed the ceremony. That, of course, is the man on her favorite koozie—Joe Biden. He either could come to Virginia, or a small group of us could meet him somewhere near his home in Delaware, which is not far from where the mother-of-the groom lives.

What are your thoughts, kids? Is this not a fabulous idea?

This Memory Will Stick

During the early years of our marriage, Dad was more of a NY Yankees fan than a follower of any other sport. It was not until Kelly went off to college that viewing college football games became a regular activity in our family.

For Dad, playing and watching golf is now his primary interest—so much so that his telephone has labeled his trip between our house and the golf course as “work.” It is therefore a great source of excitement to him as he observes the growing interest in golf with his first grandchild.

It began a few years ago as grandfather and grandson would stand at the edge of our backyard to watch the golfers head toward the green on the course behind our house. Next, we watched father and son at another golf course—father hitting the ball as his little boy sat patiently behind him, anxious to chase the ball once it left the tee.

On his fifth birthday, Bryce was presented with his own set of clubs and is eager to learn the sport. A few weeks ago, he excitedly told us his big news, which was that he was going to The Masters—one of golf’s most famous tournaments—with his father, other grandfather, and uncle.

Yesterday was the big day. The plan was to allow him to attend for just a few hours because it was believed he would not have the stamina or attentiveness to stay the entire day. That assumption was incorrect, because he told Dad and me later that he was sad that he did not get to see more holes. He enthusiastically showed us the card which he got at the tournament and explained that he planned on taking it to school for Show-and-Tell.

Dad, Kelly, and I agreed that because Bryce is five years old, he is old enough that he will be able to look back on this day as an adult. Five-year-old memories do not disappear as two-year-old memories do. When he is a father, he will be able to tell his children the story of his first trip to The Masters, including the fact that he was the youngest attendee that day. Oh, what a memory!

I Could Have Poisoned My Family

Today is the era of meth labs like the one built by Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and terrorists creating bombs to hide in their shoes and underwear. In such a world, I cannot imagine that the chemistry sets that Dad and I played with as children would be permitted to be sold to the future scientists of today.

I remember experimenting with my beakers and chemicals in my grandmother’s kitchen, which at least showed some concern for safety because it kept me away from my four younger siblings. My research into those labs from the good old days showed that those kits most likely did contain small quantities of chemicals that could have caused a certain level of harm.

With a little knowledge, I probably could have blown up my grandma’s kitchen or poisoned my brothers and sisters. I think that Grandpa just hoped that gift would have encouraged me to walk in his footsteps. He did not see the potential for evil.

The advent of consumer safety laws and more skeptical and distrustful parents ended the market for those toys. Oh, those were the days, my friends.