Choose Your Campsite With Care

It’s time to pretend we are moving again, so I have been going through closets, cabinets, and various cubby holes deciding what stays and what goes. The first hit was a bunch of clothes which I donated to a local thrift store whose profits goes to a homeless shelter.

Next, I donated sixteen wine glasses to one of Dad’s golf tournaments, which he had a nearby printer engrave for him. That freed up a shelf in the kitchen.

Now I am working on organizing my photographs. I purchased a box which contains sixteen sleeves, and each one holds the contents of one album—minus duplicate pictures as well as just awful photos that have no idea why I chose to immortalize in a book. I have been referring to old school pictures to date them based upon hair styles.

One particular photo of Jamie appeared at first to be of her swollen little face when she had the chicken pox, but upon further examination of her hairstyle, I concluded that the picture was taken several years after that nasty illness visited us.

I realized it was when Jamie went “camping” in the backyard and decided to make a nest from a pile of leaves. I remember that she came inside and mentioned how she was relaxing in a cozy bed of green, which I later learned after her skin reddened with a horrible, unbearably itchy rash turned out to be poison ivy!

Poor Jamie! She could not bear anything touching her skin but a soft nightgown. The look on her face told the story of her misery!



Rated “T” for Toddlers

Warning: Rated “T” for toddlers. Adults may be offended.

Our daily trips to the bathroom are personal journeys—discussed with few (thankfully) except our physicians. This does not apply to three-year olds, who are quite happy to discuss their visits to the bathroom in great detail with anyone who will listen to them.

This week Lily was visiting us, and after several vigorous rounds of Candy Land, she headed off to the bathroom which did not contain the step stool. I followed and offered my assistance.

“I can do it myself,” I was told, so I turned to leave.

“Stay, Grandma,” I was instructed. Clearly privacy was not important, nor did she even consider filtering her thoughts on what she was doing. In fact, she preceded to describe her past toilet observations.

“Sometimes it looks like a snake. Other times, it looks like a hotdog,” she said casually. As she was speaking, I was thinking that Grandma will just love hearing this story.

After the deed was done and her hands were washed, we both had to do the happy dance. There was no arguing with her.

Doesn’t everyone  stop to dance after they poop?

Liberty Science Center: The Next Generation

Today the torch is passing to the next generation as the two kiddies head off to Liberty Science Center with Mommy and Daddy, Aunt Jamie (not sure about Uncle Geoff), and great Aunt El. This brings me back to those days when I was bringing the three of you there.

There was a lot to see, but two specific exhibits stand out in my mind: the touch tunnel and the thingy-dingy which expanded and contracted and was so cool that Aunt Linda bought each of you a miniature version of the display that hung from the ceiling.

I still have two of these playthings. Lily and Bryce use them as bowling balls in my living room. The pins are ten Styrofoam cups. They are quite entertaining. I am surprised none of you ever thought of using them in this manner.

The touch tunnel was probably my first (and forgotten-until-now) time I found a needle in a haystack.

I had gone to this amazing science museum with one of you on a field trip. I recall getting down on my hands and knees to crawl through the pitch-black darkness of the tunnel. It was kind of creepy, but I did not want to be the wimpy mom who refused to participate. Somehow, and I have no idea how I knew, I realized that my contact lens had popped out.

Correct me if I am wrong, but in my memory, I recall calling for help, and somehow I was able to retrieve that lens with the help of a touch-tunnel attendant.

That was the birth of my finding tiny-lost-items gift.


When I was a young mother, birthday cakes became increasingly more important. I remember being impressed by a neighbor who was adept at writing “Happy Birthday” on her cakes, while all my attempts looked pathetic by comparison.

During my fifth year of motherhood, I enrolled in that cake decorating course which I had written about previously (It’s all about the Cake). Now I am the recipient of cakes decorated by my children—the most recent being on my birthday this past weekend.

Dad and I went over to Kelly’s house for a birthday/Father’s Day celebration. We were sitting on the sofa chatting while the US Open was playing in the background. No one was watching Lily. Big mistake!

Suddenly, she made some innocent comment about showing me the cake her mommy had made for me, and after hearing that comment, simultaneous light bulbs went off in our heads.  Several of us leaped to our feet. By that time, the cake had somehow been removed from the counter (how Lily reached it, I really don’t know).

Lily was walking ever-so-carefully toward me, trying so hard to balance my cake in her tiny hands. Gravity was winning, and no one was able to grab it before it fell with a crash, landing upside down on the ground.

We all screamed, and Kelly, who had worked so very, very hard to decorate that cake, and chef Lily, who had proudly helped her mommy by adding the sprinkles, both began to cry. While I was sympathetic to their distress, I could not help but smile as the scene unfolded. I admit I even started to laugh.

It really wasn’t so bad. The cake was in a covered container, so it was still edible. We placed it on the kitchen table and pasted it together with icing as best as we could. Although the entire message was undecipherable—Happy Birthday Grammy (I am sometimes called Grammy by Lily)—the word Happy survived the fall.

So we repaired the cake, added the candles, and then carried on with the birthday celebration. It was still delicious. We will always remember the birthday “When I was 64!”

The Last One Bites the Dust

We recently celebrated the end of an era and now all our chldren are married. This time, we were smack dab in the middle of God’s country. (I even saw a sign proclaiming this.) As an aside, in researching this location, I learned that this was the area where the Seventies television show, The Waltons, was set. My Baby Boomer readers will understand when I say that this is a severely remote part of Virginia!

Nellysford, the town where all the festivities would be occurring, is so remote that tea bags were apparently unavailable for purchase. In order for our guests to have tea in addition to coffee at the reception, we had to buy them in South Carolina and deliver them to the reception. (I could never live where I could not get myself a box of Tetley tea!

But back to our celebration weekend. A lot happened before we walked Casey down the aisle, and I mentioned to more than one person that I felt as if I were in the sequel to the 1970 film, The Out of Towners. I called our film The Out of Towners: Mountain Edition.

Dad and I were on the road before 8:30. Kelly, Mark, and the kids were set to follow after school. That didn’t happen, because within minutes of their planned exodus from their home, Lily projectile-vomited all over herself and her daddy.  We all talked and agreed they should wait until the morning. Lily told anyone who was remotely interested about the details of vomiting on Daddy, complete with the specifics of the color and volume.

Our hotel was on the top of a mountain on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While I admit it was beautiful, it was also exhausting, and I did not enjoy hearing that Mark had purchased bear repellent in the event of an unfortunate meet-up with a wooly friend on his planned hike.

I quickly decided to abandon my physical therapy exercises after seeing that I would be replacing my leg lifts with never-ending stairclimbing—even when going to the bathroom. (14 steps up and 14 steps down.)

We unpacked our suitcases and stocked the kitchen with the snacks and drinks we brought in anticipation of entertaining some of our guests. With horror we discovered that the kitchen had a Keurig rather than a coffee pot. While we are regular Keurig users, which I love for their convenience but hate because of the negative environmental impact, we had only brought a can of coffee because “Kitchenette includes mini fridge, range top, coffeemaker, toaster,” according to the resort website. Left behind was probably 300 Keurig pods. We asked for a coffee pot and was literally brought the pot, but not the entire coffee maker.

Jamie and Geoff arrived close to midnight amidst so much fog that Geoff had to literally get out of the car to determine whether Jamie should turn left or right. It was quite the frightening end to an exhausting six-hour drive in the rain.

Kelly and Mark left before dawn the next morning, with the kids covered in protective sheets and with barf bags readily available for the next “episode.”

The wind on the mountain top was notable—so much so that it literally knocked Dad to the ground when he was leaving the car to check the address on one of the condos. While his jeans remained unscathed, both knees were scratched and bloody. He was limping the next day, and he worried about walking down the aisle looking like Walter Brennan. (Again, you need to be older to understand the reference.)

The big day was sunny and warm. Despite the lack of a DJ, which I wanted, and an abundance of hors d’oeuvres, which the bride and groom did not want, everything went well. The ceremony was beautiful, we had enough wine and beer, and as far as I know, no other vomiting events occurred until that night, when I joined the club five times.

Now I can add my new son-in-law to our family tree and relax until the next family wedding, which won’t occur until Dad and I are wobbly and wrinkly—when the grandchildren get married.

Congratulations Casey and Chris. It finally happened!

Not Your Most Conventional Career Goal

Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and you may be surprised by their answers. Perhaps they want to be like Mom and Dad and have a job just like them, or maybe they dream of becoming a teacher, firefighter, astronaut, doctor, or superhero.

Bryce, being a child of the Internet age, has quite an interesting aspiration. He wants to have a kids teaching YouTube channel—complete with commercials. He was telling me today that his first episode will be about vegetables, and although there are already several videos teaching children about every vegetable from A-Z (that’s how a three year old was able to tell me all about fennel), Bryce wants to both inform his viewers about vegetables and then have his dad make a pot of vegetable soup.

He has also given a lot of thought to his first commercial. He wants it to be a commercial for his newest favorite sandwich restaurant—Subway. Similar to how a man named Jared lost 245 pounds by eating a six-inch turkey sandwich for lunch and a 12-inch Veggie Delite sandwich for dinner for eleven months, Bryce wants to show his viewers how eating Subway sandwiches can make kid grow taller.

It turns out that Bryce is not unique in his career aspirations. According to a survey of 1000 children, the number three dream job for boys under the age of sixteen is having their own YouTube station. Check it out:

What’s his next show, you ask? Bryce is already planning episode #2, which will be a show about marble races. Stay tuned!

She Knows About Fennel?

Our grandchildren are being raised similarly to the way our children were raised as far as food is concerned, which is to introduce them to all sorts of food—lots of ethnic meals, fish, and spice-filled dishes—at very early ages.

Therefore, I should not have been surprised when I was asked by three-year-old Lily, “Grandma, do you like fennel? I like fennel, but my friend Sophia does not like fennel.” I admitted to her that I had never tried fennel but I would find a recipe with fennel soon. She then went on to tell me that “fennel is a root vegetable.”

That was a surprise to learn that she knew that. How did she know that? I soon had my answer. While visiting her yesterday, she asked to watch some videos, and one of them was about vegetables. I remember hearing that while both kids were at the grocery store, they pointed to a few items in the produce aisle and informed their dad that they were root vegetables.

So this brings up a problem. We all know that both adults and children are too connected to their electronic devices and plugged into their televisions far too long at the expense of free play and outdoor time. The obvious answer, particularly in the case of very young children, is to severely limit their e-time. However, I look at what they are learning—identifying root vegetables,the names and capitals of the states, and  not only the names and characteristics of the planets, but the dwarf planets as well.

What is today’s parent to do? How much is too much—that is the question.