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.

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!.


Death and Taxes

— 1 —

I was deathly ill for 36 hours. I’m still confused about what happened, and why I’m still alive to write this 7QT post. We ate at a local franchise restaurant Wednesday evening that I will not name because despite my initial suspicion of food poisoning, ten hours later I was betting on influenza. Every bone in my body was under fire, and felt as if the bones were flaking apart inside my body as a dry desert wind would blow pain this way, then that way. I was unable to do anything more than sleep, dream, roll over, moan, and sleep, continuously for 30 hours. My husband brought me a cup of chicken broth sometime Thursday night, and I remember trying to take a few sips of water, but sleep is what ruled my world. Thursday, April 10, came and went without me. I woke Friday morning to the realization that I’d missed an important deadline… and it cost me $50. What the heck happened to me Wednesday night?  Was it food poisoning? Was it a 24-hour bug that decided to stay a few extra hours? A “viral syndrome” is what WebMD came up with after I listed my symptoms… in addition to several types of cancers and diseases. I’ll take curtain #1 for Viral Syndrome. It’s Friday night and the pain is nearly gone except for a twinge in my lower back. I wasn’t sleep deprived. I’ve gotten plenty of sleep this week. I was so sick I even prepared myself to die in bed. I prayed the “Act of Contrition” and was ready to leave my aching, pain-wracked body.  I’m still here, thank you, Jesus!  I’ll get to meet my 2nd grandson in two months, God-willing.

— 2 —

Near-death and taxes.  My husband would have been really mad at me if I’d died before getting our taxes done on Saturday.

— 3 —

Easter dinner. I’ve committed myself to having guests for Easter dinner. How much of the house REALLY needs to be clean?  Bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room.  Is it okay to keep bedroom doors closed to keep guests out?  Or is that just rude?  How much is expected of someone who knocked on death’s door a week before Easter?

— 4 —

My old XP computer was one of my favorite computers. I pulled the (Internet) plug on it today in an effort to keep it from being attacked by those nameless, faceless, evil hackers who make life hell for normal folks who just want to play a game of solitaire now and then between checking eBay and posting pictures of their food on Facebook.

— 5 —

My 19-month-old grandson’s new favorite movie (after a solid YEAR of watching “Cars” daily) is “Frozen.” At any time of the day you can say “Do you wanna build a SNOWman?” and he’ll smile and his eyes will light up with joy. It’s the darnedest thing to see! Here’s what he looks like while actually watching that scene…

— 6 —

Vice and Virtue. This was the title of one of the nightly presentations given by Fathers of Mercy missionary priest Father Wade Menezes last week at our church’s parish mission “Work Out Your Salvation.” I bring it up now because I still haven’t made a commitment on which to focus my prayer and energy. I’m sure procrastination is on the vice side, so the corresponding virtue would be… what? Punctuality?  After my mysterious illness, I’d better start getting my virtues in tip-top shape!

— 7 —

Look at the time! It’s 3:24 a.m. and I’m late for bed by anyone’s standards. I’ll need to start being punctual tomorrow. But who can blame me?  I slept for over 30 hours yesterday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Knitting in Florida

Stockinette stitch (knitting)

Stockinette stitch (knitting) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Knitting simple projects and finishing one in time for Christmas gift-giving is giving me incredible stress. Mostly because I delay for one reason or another.

  1. It’s too hot to knit in Florida in [ December ] or any other calendar month, for that matter.
  2. It’s too hot to knit because I’m experiencing another hot flash.
  3. My iced tea glass will drip condensation on the yarn (because it’s too hot in Florida).
  4. Yardage was not calculated before beginning project. Ran out of a discontinued color. Oops! I was in a hurry to leave the yarn shop because it was hot that day!
  5. It’s been so long since I’ve knitted, I have to relearn my knitting technique.

A male friend recently commented “it would be cheaper to buy it already made” whereas I replied, “but handmade shows you care and were thinking of the recipient.” I win.

A funny thing about prayer

A good prayer doesn’t have strings attached, unless you consider heartstrings. When I pray, I think about the answer I’d LIKE to get, sure, but I wait to accept God’s will in the matter.  I’ve recently realized that God knows what’s in my heart, because I allow my heart to be open. Most of the time I don’t know the words anyway, so an open heart simplifies prayer. Which means that it’s not easy to immediately understand if a prayer has been answered.  Sometimes the answer is clear, other times it takes years of distance and pondering to see God’s wisdom. Like Dory singing “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” I “just keep praying” for my needs, the needs of others, and especially for blessings received. I pray for answered prayers,  whether the answer was “yes,” “no” or “not yet.”

For example, as soon as I got the go-ahead to sponsor a screening of the new epic film, Mary of Nazareth on an outdoor screen at our church, I prayed for good weather. But that was my external prayer, the prayer in my thoughts. The prayer in my heart was different. Passion resides in the heart, not the mind. My heartfelt prayer was that this incredible film would lead people to a closer relationship with Jesus through His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I thought, “How could anyone watch this film and not be moved by Mary’s incredible faith in God? Her trust? Her love?”

In my opinion, actress Alissa Jung’s portrayal of Mary is a gift to mankind. She brought Mary to life in our crazy world where lots of people expect instant gratification and avoid heartache and pain. In this film, we see and feel Mary teaching by example–patience, faith and steadfast love, even through immense suffering. We see what it must have been like for her to ponder the words of Simeon, and realize she shared these thoughts and other events with the Apostles after Christ’s death. 

The morning of the  movie, November 16, dawned weakly, as if the sun didn’t even want to show up. The sky was gray with rain clouds. It rained steadily. Not our usual spate of Florida showers followed by hot sun to dry everything out. The entire day was dreary and wet. While my husband and I enjoyed a late breakfast in Titusville, I was speculating that others would expect the movie to be cancelled due to rain. I knew this from recent experience.

Smart phones are pretty convenient. I googled a patron saint for good weather while finishing breakfast, and the saint is… St. Clare. As we’re walking out of Waffle House, out loud I beseeched St. Clare, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and God to open a patch of blue sky to encourage others. Perhaps to encourage myself, as well. As we were driving home five minutes later, not one, but two patches of blue sky opened in the gray gloom above us. It was great and I thanked St. Clare, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and God in the car as we headed home. (I’m new at blogging, otherwise I would’ve snapped a quick picture of those patches of blue sky to post here.)

In retrospect, the prayers I prayed for good weather for November 16 weren’t what I thought I was praying for, because my open heart’s prayer wasn’t about weather. My heart’s prayer was for people to draw nearer to Jesus Christ through the faithful and loving example of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The night of the movie, it was still raining. (With a sponsored screening, the DVD has to be returned within 2 days to avoid hefty late fees; we had no rain date plans.) “The show must go on” was my goal, so a solution was found. About 100 people in lawn chairs crowded together under a covered breezeway at 7pm on November 16. Everyone was closer to their neighbor than they would normally sit. As event coordinator, I thought about everyone’s personal safety in the event of an emergency, but my heart and mind were reassured that all would be well. We prayed a “Hail Mary” and began watching Mary of Nazareth, enjoying the grand adventure of close quarters for 2 1/2 hours (with a unanimous vote for a 15-minute intermission).  

Special memories were made that night, and the true feeling of love for our neighbor must’ve pleased Jesus and Mary as we moved our chairs close to our brothers and sisters in Christ on that wet evening. I feel that my heart’s prayers were answered in a way that requires pondering for years to come. The influence of this great movie and the unusual viewing situation was unique. 

One more point… the location of the outdoor screen was placed in front of our parish’s Marian shrine, opposite the covered breezeway where we sat en masse. Mary’s presence behind the screen had an impact I can’t fathom yet. It’s still in the “pondering stage” for me, and perhaps others present that evening!

Scoured the news for an entirely uninteresting story. Here’s how it connects to my life.

When I scoured the news for an uninteresting article, this was the best I could do. I’ve now got several articles saved for reading later, and I’m particularly interested in finding out about the six-tailed asteroid between Mars and Jupiter that has scientists stunned. (I love it when scientists are stunned!)

 Ortiz Gets Boston Mayor Votes but Didn’t Place 3rd

BOSTON November 8, 2013 (AP)

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is apparently so popular in the city that some residents think he should be mayor… more


As for figuring out how David Ortiz, the World Series MVP, received write-in votes to become the Mayor of Boston, connects to ME, the only link I can grasp is that my dear niece, Jacci, lives in or near the Boston area. For all I know, she or her DH may have cast a vote for David Ortiz, but I seriously doubt this would ever happen, as Jacci is practical and reasonable. While I am a fan of Major League Baseball, I doubt Mr. Ortiz has the time, experience or passion for Boston politics at this point in his life. 

7 Quick Takes – Shutdown

— 1 —

A household shutdown is imminent.

I’m not able to focus to get any tasks complete. I need a break from this mess that I mostly created by myself. I am a slob!

— 2 —

What would my family’s reaction be to a shutdown?

Hello? Anyone home?  Oh. He’s in his “man-cave” doing serious stuff on his computer–“World of Warcraft”  No reaction. Hmm.

— 3 —

WHICH services would be denied during the shutdown?

Cooking. Dishes. Laundry. Shopping. Vacuuming. Cleaning the toilet. Yard work. Making the bed. Washing windows. Scooping the kitty litter. Washing the car. Non-essential crap.

— 4 —

How long will the shutdown last?

Aim for Christmas.  More crap will be received then, and will need to have a space all its’ own.

— 5 —

Who will resume services when the shutdown ends?

Crap.  Me.  After 2 seconds of serious thought, a shutdown is not  sounding like a good plan.

— 6 —

Is mooching at Mom’s house allowable during the shutdown?

Of course. Mom loves me no matter what. More than that though. She wouldn’t want my hubby to be scarred by this experience. He will  eat like a king!

— 7 —

What lesson will I learn from a shutdown experience?

A shutdown is like a tree falling in the forest.  No one hears it; no one cares. The tree rots. Bugs are happy.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


The simple force of gravity on a small object produced my grandson’s sweet laugh and giggles of merriment and joy last Sunday morning. It took his parents and grandparents a while to order their breakfasts, and so the babe became a wee bit restless since his own breakfast of baby oatmeal had been gobbled up quickly. I had the pleasure of holding the one-year-old and entertaining him while we waited for our food. My daughter and husband know I have a knack for producing entertainment from thin air, but even I was impressed with the show. I tied two knots with my plastic straw and released it from my fingertips from a 12-18 inches above our breakfast table. Not surprisingly, it plopped to the table as a light object is wont to do. This pleased the babe so much I repeated the lift and drop for about 5-10 minutes. When it was clear this entertainment could go on for a while, my daughter used her iPad to capture a bit of it on video. Who doesn’t like to hear a baby laugh? It is truly one of the good things in life! Enjoy!