Grandson #1 is THREE!

It was on a Tuesday three years ago that my first grandson was born. He’s a wonder and joy and I’m blessed to be able to spend time with him each week.  He even spends the night on an occasional weekend.

He has a little brother who just turned ONE in June, and is learning that the little fireball of energy and curiosity is not going away, but will continue to push and shove his way into things and places whether invited or not.

G1 and G2 are the bright spots in my life who will continue to bring joy and wonder to their Grammy (me) and Grandfather. I love them both with all my heart, differently but oddly the same. God understands this logic, as He loves all His creation in a similar fashion, I suppose.

Happy birth month to my G1, the boy who loves and excels at puzzles!

Love is having all the pieces in place!

Love is having all the pieces in place!


Prioritizing is not my strong suit, otherwise I’d be doing something else instead of writing a blog post as midnight approaches. My choices in no particular order:

  • sleeping
  • creating & printing Valentines for my customers who will attend my 8:30am Jazzercise class tomorrow morning (I should really be sleeping now!)
  • create a “LOVE” themed, pulse-pounding, hip-swiveling class for tomorrow which won’t involve learning any new routines
  • clean the kitchen (because I did not do the dishes after last night’s meal)
  • night-time face & teeth cleaning routine, jammies, prayers
  • start a load of laundry (I should’ve done this two days ago!)
  • scoop the cat litter
  • knit one more row (current row is at 280 stitches)
  • race 25 times on my iPad game “Cars: Fast as Lightning”
  • tidy the living room
  • drink a glass of water
  • read a chapter of ANY book on my Kindle
  • see what’s new on my Facebook wall… well, better not…
  • check my e-mail to see if any urgent messages need a response before tomorrow
  • review my bookkeeping records to be sure everything is ready for tomorrow’s appointment with our tax accountant

It’s now 12:05am, and my next move is to put a LOVE set together for class while drinking water, make Valentines, get ready for bed, and set my alarm for 7am and go to bed.

I have plenty of clean dishes in the dishwasher, the cat litter can wait one more day, and I’ll just wear capris instead of long pants in the morning even though the temperature is expected to be in the mid-thirties.  Hey, this is sunny Florida!

Good night and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is having all the pieces in place!

Love is having all the pieces in place!

The Grandest Sandbox of Them All

Spending an entire day with our 2-year-old grandson was awesome and amazing this weekend. His daddy brought him over early with his “visiting bag” (diapers, clothing changes, books and sippy cup). Daddy received a half-hearted ‘bye-bye’ wave; we’re working on improving the wave, but love that he LOVES spending the day with Grandfather and Grammy.

Anyway, Grandfather and I were finishing our coffee while Gabriel played with his stash of thrift-store Hot Wheels cars on the living room carpet. Thinking out loud, making plans for the day, I mentioned that we should go out to the sandbox because it’s not raining, and the little guy springs up and runs to the front door to go outside. There’s no way we’re going to say “no” to that exuberance! It’s PLAYTIME outside NOW, something that has been scarce because of a 2-week cycle of never-ending rain.

This is why Grandfather and Gabriel are playing with his “Mighty Machines” (CAT Construction Toy set) in the sandbox at 9:00 a.m. I love taking photos and videos; capturing special moments and preserving memories for myself and others, but especially for Gabriel. He’ll have his own scrapbook this week with these photos (and more). We uploaded two short videos from Grandfather’s iPhone, Playtime! And another, Playtime – part 2. Enjoy!

It took some negotiating, but playtime in the sandbox ended 2 1/2 hours later. We’ve got some plumbing issues in the house, so Gabriel had to take a shower (perhaps his first?) to clean up after a morning spent in the sandbox. We tried to make the shower quick and easy, using the handheld sprayer so he wasn’t traumatized by water spraying in his face, and washing his hair while he lay on the shower floor on a folded towel. More laundry for me, but there were no tears and he had a fun time doing something different, I think.

Grand Sandbox Fun -- Grandfather & Gabriel

Grand Sandbox Fun — Grandfather & Gabriel

No more rain! It's sandbox time at last!

No more rain! It’s sandbox time at last!

Playing in the sandbox must’ve tuckered him out, because he actually slept during his nap after lunch. When he woke, we visited the Art and Algorithms Festival taking place in downtown Titusville. NASA provided an inflatable planetarium on Saturday. The three of us spent 20+ minutes watching the show (sitting on the ground), pointing at the stars and the sun and the growth of the universe as it rolled across the sphere above our heads.

We enjoyed an early dinner at Caffe Chocolat included a scoop of vanilla ice cream for Gabriel, and he loved every spoonful while Grandfather valiantly kept the little guy clean with a wet wipe and I took a few photos and enjoyed him enjoying his ice cream treat.

A scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream is a Special Treat!

A scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream is a Special Treat!

Gabriel got permission to spend the night with us, so we headed home in plenty of time to meet his 7:00 p.m. bedtime. We had a few minutes to spare because he’d had a shower earlier in the day and wouldn’t need another, so Grandfather wracked his brain for a last hurrah for the day. Grandfather drove to a local construction site and saw some “mighty machines” up close for yet another treat for this special boy who fills our lives with joy. You should have seen his little eyes light up! Oh, I think I have a photo of that moment!
Dump Truck -- Mighty Machine Style!

Dump Truck — Mighty Machine Style!

Gotta touch the hub!

Gotta touch the hub!

I’m learning the names of each “mighty machine” … Excavator, Steam Roller, Grader, and Dump Truck, (and others) because learning real names of people, places and things is important for vocabulary development and effective communication. The mighty machines we enjoy in his world of play, watching “Mighty Machines” on Netflix and seeing/touching in real life are great experiences we’re blessed to have with him and look forward to sharing with Benjamin when he gets a little older.

The Three Steps to Writing Your First Story


I’ve had a few story ideas over the years, but no self-discipline. Sad but true. If I was dedicated to being a writer, I’d follow these tips.

Originally posted on Jon Negroni:

For the first time on this site, I’ve opened up a post to someone else. The following is a guest think piece written by Tim Wilkinson, who was gracious enough to lend some of his advice on writing to you guys.

Tim majored in Screenwriting in college and has taken a variety of creative writing classes on the side. He moved to Hollywood and hung out with other writers while doing freelance work on the side. During his time there, he met a lot of great (and not-so-great) writers who have helped shaped his strategy for making what you make, well, great. Enjoy!

By Tim Wilkinson.

A strange mistake writers make when they decide to write something is when they think they have to start by crafting a novel. If you were just learning how to sew, you wouldn’t start by making a California King-sized quilt, just like if you…

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The Effect of Blessing an Unborn Infant


Simply lovely!

Originally posted on joy of nine9:

I call on all parents to bless and nurture their unborn children and then their infants and children by praying scripture, Catholic blessings, or by speaking words of life right to their spirits. 

Fact: An unborn child hears and reacts emotionally not only to his mother but also to the people and activity around him.


Prenatal babies have personalities before they are born. As any mother can tell you some babies move around energetically both in and out of the womb, while other infants are physically passive. Some infants are night owls both in and out of the womb and others actually sleep well at night.

Nurses will point out to new parents that their newborn quickly turns towards the voices of their mother, father, siblings and even grandparents. So that means that an unborn child hears what is happening and remembers what he has heard while he was still…

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7QT: SOTG, leftover leftovers, ants, sandbox fun, thrifty finds, letting go and knitting

— 1 — wirelessly delivered Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book, “Something Other Than God,” to my Kindle Fire on Tuesday. By Thursday morning, I’d finished the book. Then I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture of myself reading it in an amazing place! I’ll be re-reading it SOON, so I have time to plan an fun photo in hopes of winning one of Jennifer’s contests.

It was definitely an unusual experience to read a memoir/conversion story of someone I feel I know through her blog writing. To learn intimate details of her life before blogging, especially before she blogged about ‘scorpion infestations,’ kinda threw me off kilter. Jennifer is an amazing woman. Grab her book (hardback or Kindle edition). It’s a great read!

Here’s me posing with my Kindle Fire and my blog post rough draft late at night. Think it’s goofy enough to win a prize?

Au natural

Au natural

— 2 —

This past week was the worst cooking week of my entire married life, I’m sure. How many times can a person eat leftover leftover chicken? Or leftover leftover Sausage, Sauerkraut and Dumplings? And now, leftover leftover Tacos. How can this be? (That’s right… leftover TWICE. I may instigate a new kitchen rule. After ONE leftover opportunity, the food goes in the trash or I schlep it over to my mom’s house. (She’s been schlepping her leftovers to ME–thank you Mom!–for a decade.) Is anyone else experiencing a cooking slump?

— 3 —

There are only two things guaranteed to make me swear. One is when my knitting goes horribly bad, and the other is ANTS in my kitchen. I haven’t knitted for a month, so this pretty much means that I gear up for war upon entering my kitchen. It’s been a week since the damn little piss-ants have been drunkenly carousing all over my counter, back splash and sink, and I’m sick of it. I half-drained a can of RAID around my windowsill (inside AND outside), even sprayed the countertop, and those damn ants just keep marching on, and on, driving me INSANE. Me, a grown woman, will stand at the counter for five or ten minutes staring at the wall, the counter, the windowsill, trying my damnedest to find their starting point. They just APPEAR! How can ants do that??? I think I saw some come out from behind a receptacle cover. Are they inside my WALLS??? Augh! Now I have to scrub and sterilize my sink and counters or risk poisoning my family in my quest to be rid of this scourge. Does anyone have a remedy for/against these teeny tiny itty bitty ants?

— 4 —

My husband is pretty handy and capable with DIY projects. He built a sandbox for our grandson two weeks ago. (He proudly tells me it’s all notch construction–no screws or nails!) It’s huge by anyone’s “sandbox standards.” Our daughter’s first reaction when she brought her son to us for a day of playtime was “Hey! The sandbox you made for Chris and me wasn’t that big!”

Boys and their Toys

Boys and their Toys

Our response: “He’s our Grandson… he deserves a Grand Sandbox!” It’s so big, we need another load of sand to fill it up. The sand is clean Florida sand from a local nursery named “Growing Crazy.” The sand has no rocks, but it does contain clay. It holds moisture really well and is easy to mold and make tunnels that don’t collapse. Now I need to find a laundry detergent capable of removing stains similar to those incurred when a baseball player slides into 2nd base. Any suggestions?

— 5 —

I had a strong urge to visit thrift stores last week. I found great deals on several good quality, gently used, children’s toys and books. For a fraction of retail, I scored some like-new wooden puzzles and some blocks that look like huge Lego’s (no, not Duplo). So far, G-man has ignored the puzzles, but he went nuts for the blocks. Of course, I’d built a castle and he was all about KNOCKING IT DOWN. (He’s not even two years old yet.)

The mother lode of thrift store gems was discovered at Goodwill … a wooden childrens’ easel (chalkboard on one side, wipe-off board on the other) for only $10. An Aurora Hobby Horse (retails for $34) for only $1.99, but the best of the whole lot was the Little Tikes Vacuum Cleaner for only $1.49. For those not in-the-know, G-man is very enamored of my Simplicity upright vacuum, especially the wand with the floor attachment. I taught him to “push and pull” months ago. He’ll use bats, sticks, wooden spoons, etc. as a vacuum at home, at the park, at friends’ homes… so when I found this child-size play vacuum I KNEW it would be a hit. It was and is, despite his obvious distraction by the song “Let It Go” in the movie, FROZEN. (Note: you may want to click this link… it’s the Disney link with lyrics and a bouncing snowflake to follow along. It’s pretty cool.)

Distracted by "Let It Go" song in FROZEN movie.

Distracted by “Let It Go” song in FROZEN movie.

Okay, I forgot to leave room for this gem I found on GodTube, but it’ll fit (for obvious reasons you’ll realize after watching five grown men act out a Bible story as told (literally) by 5 kids. Enjoy!

On a serious note, I respectfully request Little Tikes or the Dustbuster folks get real about making children’s vacuums REAL. G-man play-vacuumed my entire living room, hallway, his bedroom, and half the kitchen. It really stinks that I have to do it AGAIN with the REAL vacuum this weekend.

— 6 —

There’s only 52 weeks in the year, so I suppose it’s inevitable that the week my daughter’s second baby is due is also the week I’m scheduled to teach ten Jazzercise classes because my associate will be enjoying a well-deserved vacation. I’m not worried about teaching ten classes in six days, but the two 5:45 a.m. classes will be a challenge! I trust in God to get me through difficult times as well as little things in life. A Jazzercise instructor for 20 years, I am blessed to have fun and flexibility built in to my daily life and am enthusiastic to share the joy of dance & fitness with others!


— 7 —

My Jazzercise associate will teach ten classes when I’m on vacation in Daytona Beach. I’ll enjoy quiet time while sitting poolside (or beachside). It’s only an hour from home, but a great way to get a vacation, ya know? I have BIG plans, one of which may include some swearing, if I’m honest. If you read post #3, you may have guessed that it will involve knitting. I’ve got to fix a knitting mistake before the weather cools down. I was doing GREAT with the new baby blanket for grandson #2 until I started a new skein in the MIDDLE OF A ROW near the end of the blanket. What was I thinking??? It’s best to end and begin skeins at the BEGINNING of a row, and weave in the ends. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of yarn! Let me show you what happened when I had a lapse in judgment… uh, I may have a MAJOR PROBLEM… where the hell did I put the new blanket??? All I wanted to do was take a picture to post, but the blanket is not where I thought it was. I haven’t seen the blanket for weeks! Excuse me while I have a minor panic attack…

Okay. That’s done. Now I’ll just say a prayer to St. Anthony…

Hi Saint Anthony! It’s me again. I’d be ever so grateful if you could point me in the right direction to help me find that darling blue baby blanket I’ve spent the last four or five months knitting. It has an adorable “baby block pattern.” I ask for your intercession with love and gratitude! Your sister in Christ, Monica. Amen.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. FOUND IT! YEA!

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Hi Saint Anthony! Me again. THANK YOU SO MUCH for planting the idea it could be in my bedroom. I also received the suggestion that I clean my room soon. De-cluttering is an excellent strategy for loss prevention. Your intercessions are never taken for granted, and I know and rejoice that all glory and honor belong to Jesus Christ, our Lord!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Childhood Classics to Re-Read… and Why!

My toddler grandson is a book lover. His little book collection is mostly the “first book” card stock books with touch ‘n feel pictures; some look as if they’ve been run over by a truck a few times. The books with real paper pages are torn from the exuberance of “turning the page.” In other words, his books are well-loved and re-read several times daily, exasperating his mother when she tries to get some housework done.

“How many times a day can I read “Green Eggs and Ham?”

she texted me one day.

He’ll read soon, I’m sure. His mama started reading when she was three. So she’s got another year of reading, and longer, if he’ll let her!

When my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade, she was reprimanded in school for ‘reading too much.’ Yes, her father and I were actually called in for a parent-teacher conference because she would hide her books inside schoolbooks to read when the class assignments were complete. The teacher laughingly confessed that she wished her other students read half as much as our daughter did.

This post by Michelle reminds me of my daughter. She always has a book (or two or three) that she’s reading. She’s kept all her books over the years, and is now a new mom trying to decide where to place her 8 bookshelves crammed with books (in alphabetical order). The spare room that used to be the ‘library’ needs to be converted to a bedroom to accommodate a new addition to the family.  Perhaps she’ll de-clutter her collection, (there’s still books stored in boxes, too). I’ll have to ask her for her “Top 7” books.

Enjoy Michelle’s list of “7 Childhood Classics to Re-read… and Why”

7 Childhood Classics to Re-Read… and Why!.