Thursday, March 12, 2015

Playing Hide and Seek With a Distracted Child

Have you ever played Hide and Seek with a distracted child? For practically my entire life I have played this game with my own children, my grandchildren, and the hundred or so other kids who have been in my care over the years. I tend to forget from time to time, however, that little 3-year-olds sometimes get distracted.

Yesterday my 3-year-old granddaughter, Avery, and I were playing, and I had to remind her not to call out my name when she was the seeker. She tends to panic when she can’t find me immediately and I have to assure her that I’m not leaving the house.

I found a spot that usually isn’t in my bedroom. I was washing my sheets and I had placed the comforter and blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed. I hurriedly hid under the blankets until she finished counting to 20 (though she must have an aversion to the number 15, which she sometimes skips). 

After she finished counting, I heard her shuffling around in the living room and I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Finally, after what seemed an inordinately long period of time, I called out, “Avery, did you forget we were playing Hide and Seek?”

“Oh, yeah,” she laughed. For some reason, though I’ve had the shelf of bins in my living room since shortly after I moved in last Fall, she became curious about what was inside those bins and was going through them while I suffocated under the blankets on the floor of my bedroom.

Afterword – Avery is usually very focused and very conscientious, as you can see in this video. I was cleaning up the kitchen after lunch and she was putting away the “castle house” we made before lunch so we could enjoy “quiet time,” the time after lunch when we watch a movie together. She makes up her own songs and sings them while she’s cleaning up. For some reason, though my son is named Greg and he is Avery’s uncle, we weren’t talking about him or doing anything Gregory-related. Still she came up with what I'm calling, The Gregory Song:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pretend Play With Avery

Avery posing for the camera.
Some people wonder why I enjoy watching my grandchildren so much. For them and for your enjoyment, here is one example:

Every time I get to watch my 3-year-old granddaughter, Avery, at my home, we play with stuffed animals. And we pretend. We often discuss things that occurred over the weekend or during the week, using the stuffed animals as our voices.

Since today is Monday, this morning my stuffed animal asked Avery’s stuffed animal, “Know what I did yesterday?”

“No,” said Avery’s stuffed animal.

Kaden and Zac waiting for their dad to arrive at the airport.
“I went to the airport and I picked up Uncle Greg and Kaden and Zac.” 

And Avery’s stuffed animal exclaimed, “Wow! You’re really strong!”

Have a joyful day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Child Discovers Her Fears Are Unfounded

When one of my daughters was around 4 or 5 years old, she became embarrassed about sucking her thumb, but she couldn’t quit. A neighbor friend had asked her to spend the night and she was afraid that her friend would make fun of her if she awoke to find Lindsey sucking her thumb, so Lindsey decided to find a thumb-substitute. Yes, you read that right. She searched through our toy box to find something – anything – that resembled a thumb. The only thing she could find among all the toys in the toy box was a red cylinder block. 

As you might guess, while her imagination was great, putting into practice what she thought would work – didn’t. A hard block is no substitute for a thumb. But I gave her credit for trying to get rid of her habit and I gave her credit for facing her fears and spending the night at her friend’s house anyway.

As we fast-forward to a time when Lindsey was around 8 years old, she still had the dreaded habit, and she desperately wanted to be rid of it, especially since one of her new best friends in our new neighborhood invited her to spend the night and she really, really, really wanted to go.

Lindsey labored over what to do, though. The stress was overwhelming.

After days of wondering about how to handle her situation, she finally decided that the best approach would be to tell her friend the truth. Sheepishly and somewhat fearful about her friend’s response, she admitted to her little friend, “I suck my thumb.” And then something unexpected occurred. Her friend shrugged her shoulders and responded, “That’s OK. I wet the bed.”

I just loved (still love) that little friend :)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Mom is HOT!

Recently I had the pleasure of spending the night with my mother. I use the term, “pleasure,” loosely. My mother lives in an oven cave. While those two words may seem completely unrelated, please allow me to complain explain. I like LIGHT – sunlight, to be exact. Part of my reason for enjoying sunlight is that my eyes can’t differentiate between various shades of DARK. When I walk into my mother’s condo from outside, my eyes have to adjust. I sometimes have to grab onto walls just to find a place to take off my shoes until I can see anything.

Once my eyes acclimate to her cave, I then have to take off my clothes. My mother likes the temperature to be at 73. She lives on the second floor, so it feels more like 80. I like my heat to be no higher than 68. You might think that 5ยบ doesn’t make much of a difference, but believe me, it does.

My mother also likes to give me things – lots of things. Fortunately for me, one of those things this time was a purse. Mine was falling apart, and I use my belongings until the bitter end. They have to be completely broken for me to throw them away. What Mom gave me was exactly what I would have been looking for if I had been looking for a new purse. She said it was too big for her and that she didn’t realize when she bought it that it would be so big – but it was perfect for me.

Another item she offered me was a product called, Ruby Reds (see ad above), a fruit and vegetable food supplement that was filled with all kinds of vitamins, enzymes, herbs, nutrients, and probiotics. She didn’t use it, so I brought it home with me, because I’m all for eating healthy!

The next morning, I opened the jar. The measuring cup, however, was cemented to the powder which, in the heat (I suspect), melted the contents and made the entire jar impossible to use. Try pouring a brick into a glass. So, as I do with all of my belongings, I kept the product to its “bitter end,” and it now sits in the garbage.

Back home, my body temperature is back to normal, I have a new purse, and I’ve learned that any powder supplement my mother gives me in the future will require either a concrete dissolver or a jackhammer, and the next time I spend the night I'm bringing tank tops. 

I LOVE YOU, Mom! Not that she reads my blogs, but just in case. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Your Cancer Diagnosis vs. A Loved One’s Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer hit my family in 2009, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While you may find what I’m about to say unbelievable, I never thought of it as anything other than a minor disruption in my life, because I knew I wouldn’t die and I knew I had the strength to handle everything entailed with a cancer diagnosis. I was glad it happened to me and not to somebody I loved. 

Chemo? Radiation? Baldness? Surgery? So what if one of my breasts got mangled? Bring it on! 

I was 58, though, when I was given the diagnosis, so I wasn’t really that brave, was I? It wasn’t like I was given a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer when I was only 21. My breasts had nursed 4 children, so they had served their purpose. I’m sure I would have reacted differently had I been younger and not had my children yet.

Cancer hit my family again this past week when my grandson, pictured above with me (photo was taken two years ago), received a bone cancer diagnosis. Remembering how my whole family fell apart at my diagnosis, my first thoughts went to Jeremy’s mom, my oldest daughter, Keeley. I was a rock when it came to handling my own cancer, but I was sure I’d have been a soggy mess if one of my kids had been told that he or she had cancer. And now my daughter was experiencing the trauma of knowing that her son had cancer – bone cancer. How frightened she must be.

Because my daughter and grandson live so far away from me and because I can’t visit them (I’m highly allergic to cats), I couldn’t just run over there, wrap my arms around both of them, and tell them that everything would be fine. But what I could do was help them financially (not by myself – I don’t even have a bank account) by opening a fund for them. After hearing the news, I had to DO something. 

When you are given shocking news, you can respond in so many ways. You can retreat into yourself, you can rage, you can sob, you can scream, and you can resolve to do SOMETHING to help in whatever way you can. So I went to the bank, opened an account for my daughter and grandson and went online to open a funding source that my daughter could access to help her with gas, overnight stays at the hospital, which currently is located two hours away from her apartment, and any other expenses she would incur for the next however many months my grandson will be in recovery after however many months of whatever form of treatment the oncologist determines would be the best plan for him. We know so little at this point. His next appointment is Monday.

I would have gone into DO mode for any of my 17 grandkids, but I hope I never have to deal with cancer or any other illness again, especially in relation to any of my kids or grandkids. Like all my grandkids, my grandson, Jeremy, is adorable. He is also bright, creative, quirky, and funny. At 13 he already has the strength he’ll need to get him through this difficult period in his life and he is already aware of how his cancer diagnosis is affecting everyone around him. Already he instinctively knows to act strong – for his mom.

Being given a cancer diagnosis can be devastating; a cancer diagnosis is life-changing. Knowing that your child or grandchild has cancer is a stop-dead-in-your-tracks, life-altering experience that demands your full attention. You can think of almost nothing else. But it can also be the catalyst to promote action on your part as you rise to the challenge to help in whatever way possible to gather together anyone and everyone who can support you.

If you or a loved one is given a cancer diagnosis, REACH OUT to everyone you know. Do NOT think you have to go through this bleak period alone. You would be surprised by how many people want to help. In this past week, I’ve learned so much from so many people who took time to offer advice on everything from contacting The Ronald McDonald House for help with lodging expenses to contacting the St. Jude foundation and the Social Security office, because my grandson’s type of cancer allows him to be put on Social Security Disability, to setting up a fund to help my daughter with all kinds of expenses.

If you can’t give financially, give your prayers and/or your positive energy. When I was given my diagnosis, I asked for prayers from everyone I knew, and even my oncologist was surprised that after only one chemo treatment, my tumor shrunk from 4 cm. wide to nearly imperceptible. Prayer is powerful. Positive energy thoughts directed toward their intended recipient(s) are powerful. If all you can do is pray or send positive energy, you have done enough, and you have already helped. If you would like to help my daughter financially too, though, please click this GoFundMe link. And thank you for whatever you do!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Drunk Wasted Guy

Every Monday and every Wednesday I care for three of my grandchildren. Avery comes to my home before her brother and sister arrive, because she’s too young to go to school, and Audrey and Nolan take the bus to my house after school lets out. When snacks and homework are finished, they have the option, in the Winter months, of playing on the wii, the PlayStation III, or the iPad – the OLD iPad, the iPad that is so filled with games that I can no longer upgrade it, the iPad that is so old that if they want a new game on the iPad, they have to get rid of an old game.

Naturally, as their grandmother and owner of my trusty old iPad (which still works remarkably well, by the way), I monitor the games they play. So I was surprised when I heard, after I asked, “What are you playing now?” this response: “Drunk Wasted Guy.”

Audrey is 10 and Nolan is 7. What kind of game is Drunk Wasted Guy? Who would create such a game? What do you do – give him drinks and see how fast he get wasted? What is this world coming to?

Grandma (I sometimes have to take myself out of the picture and refer to myself in the third person) was flabbergasted! 

I finally registered my distaste out loud – “Drunk Wasted Guy? You’re playing a game called, 'Drunk Wasted Guy'?”

That’s when the kids burst out laughing. What they actually said was that they were playing, “A Hundred Ways to Die.” Yeah, that’s so much better. I’ll bet getting drunk and wasted are two of the ways. I'm sure the game was based on the TV Show, A Thousand Ways to Die. I don't know. I've never played it. And I watched the show only a couple of times because another grandchild wanted me to see it.

Maybe my hearing isn't as good as it used to be – maybe I’m older than I think I am. But maybe I shouldn’t look into getting a hearing aid, because without hearing what's happening around me, I can remain blissfully unaware of how strange our world has become.

Four of my grandchildren appear in the photo above. They were playing – without electronics – at our Thanksgiving celebration.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

AMAZING SECRET for Looking Younger when You Have Gray Hair

Originally published on Yahoo! Contributor Network January 11, 2011 – UPDATES appear where necessary.

To begin, let's change the way you think about "Gray Hair." Gray sounds drab. I prefer the term, "White Hair." It just sounds better.

And now about "old age" - just because somebody is "old" doesn't mean that he or she has to act old or look old. As one who has been interested in the aging process since I was 29 (you'll find out why below), I've had many years to research why some people who are the same age look so much older, while others look so much younger.

My research is both subjective and objective. When people ask me how old I am, they follow my answer with another question - how do I look so young? That question always surprises me, because I have white hair.

But if I do look young for my age, I think part of the reason might be that I come by it naturally. My mother (pictured above) celebrates her 77th birthday today. (UPDATE: the actual photo was taken of her last year when she turned 80.) She will probably hate me for relating that information about her, but she never reads my blogs or articles, so I'm not afraid of her (well, to be honest, I'm kind of scared - Mommy can be wicked - seriously, she is far more interested in reading fiction than she is in anything I write.

Anyway, if you look at her picture, after you get over how cute she is, you will notice that her hair is dark brown. She never dyes it - it's her natural color. My hair, however, is white (I take after my father's side of the family). Unlike television and movie stars, my mother looks great without ever having had any kind of cosmetic surgery.

My mother exercises on her treadmill twenty minutes each day, twice a day. Consistently. She's healthier than some forty-year-olds I've seen.
But is exercising the secret? Kind of, but it's not the AMAZING secret. Everybody knows exercise will maintain a youthful appearance, but remember, this article is for people with gray hair. My mom is not one of them, though I will refer to her often throughout this article simply because she serves as a great example of how young someone in her mid-70s can look. (Remember, she is now in her 80s.)
One perplexing observation I made about youthful looks occurred in the 1980s when all of the exercise videos came out. Men and women with sculpted bodies peered through my television screen looking like gods or goddesses. Their faces, though, looked weathered and old.
Because one of my "friends" had told me when I was 29 that I was going to fall apart at 30 (yes, that really happened), and I was afraid I would one day look like one of those old cotton people dolls with their pinched cheeks and lips, I decided to start exercising my face. I didn't want droopy jowls and a turkey neck, so I devised a program that allowed me, every day, to feel as if I was contributing to keeping my face from falling to my feet.
I continue the process today. First I generously moisturize my face and neck. Then I open my mouth and eyes as wide as is facially possible. I then extend my chin upward toward the ceiling. After that exercise, I relax my face. Then I repeat the process 30 times.
(I swear my mother uses this method, because we spoke about my routine years ago. However, she has never admitted to using facial exercises as part of her routine.)
I also stay out of the sun as much as possible and use sunscreen when I have to be outdoors.
Another way my mother maintains her youthful appearance is by keeping in touch with friends. She has known some of her friends since childhood. Others are friends from the neighborhood in which I grew up. Still others she met when she working.
Every once in a while she meets her friends in Chicago or somewhere else for lunch. The point is, she maintains her friendships and meets with her friends regularly.
So is having friends the AMAZING secret? Again, no, but it helps.
As I said, this secret is for people with gray hair only, even if they dye their hair. One thing that creates an elderly appearance in people with gray hair is their eyebrows.
When I discovered how white or gray eyebrows contributed to the "look" of aging in a person, I wondered...if I kept my hair white, which I do simply because my hair grows so fast, but dyed my eyebrows, would it make a difference in the way I looked?
I sifted through all of the hair products in the store and decided I didn't want to waste an entire box of hair dye for something as small as my eyebrows. Then I found a product that I thought might work: "Just For Men" - for mustaches.
"Just For Men" for mustaches comes with tubes you can mix together so you can use the product again and again - as opposed to mixing the tubes together and then throwing out the rest of the product.
The procedure for creating the mixture is to mix a small part of one tube with a small part of the other until it becomes the consistency of a gel. Then, VERY CAREFULLY, without getting any on the eyelid, around the skin of the eyebrow, or especially into the eye, apply the mixture to the eyebrows only.
Did it make a difference? Absolutely. That one little change made a huge difference. Don't believe me? The next time you see an old person with white bushy eyebrows, imagine how different he or she would look with darker (and trimmed) eyebrows. Believe me, the difference is dramatic.
A word of caution: black will probably be too dramatic a choice in color. Experiment until you find the right color. Start with a color that is slightly lighter than your natural hair color used to be.
2011 is a landmark year for me, by the way. I will be 60 this coming July. (UPDATE: I am now 63.)
And, Mom, if by some chance you should happen to read this one day, Happy Birthday! I love you!