Friday, December 31, 2010

Help Rissa Watkins

Though I generally save this blog for family and friends, today's blog is for a writer friend of mine, Rissa Watkins, who found herself fighting the same battle I have been winning:

What would you do if you discovered you had cancer and you had no way to pay your medical costs? Would you be able to come up with $500,000 in a year? The cost for cancer care is astronomical. I know. I have cancer too.

But I was lucky. Though it will sound sarcastic for me to say I was lucky, I really was, because I was so far below the poverty level, the government stepped forward to help me.

Rissa Watkins isn't so lucky. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia just this week and is in dire need of financial aid.

By reading her articles on Associated Content (link below), you will help her raise money to pay her medical bills.

Her battle has just begun. You can be one of the soldiers and one of the angels to help her win it.

Rissa's personal web site is located HERE.

Her articles are located HERE.

And information on how to help her in her battle to fight and win her cancer war is HERE.

Thank you for caring.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Sweetest Christmas Present Ever

Michelle, Kaden, Taylor, Zac, & Greg

My grandson, Kaden, just said, "Know what I wish?"

"No, Kaden, I don't. What do you wish"?

"I wish I could give Santa a gift."

At this point my heart melted all over the place, but I was curious about what type of present he would want to give to Santa.

"So what kind of gift would you like to give Santa?" I asked Kaden.

After some thought, he replied, "Probably a stuffed animal."

"What kind of stuffed animal."

"A reindeer."

And, as the grandma to this amazing child, I wondered how many other kids would have thought of giving a gift to Santa.

Want to read more from this author? Please see the sidebar and THANK YOU for visiting.

Our Nontraditional Christmas 2010

Greg, Kaden, Michelle, Zac, and Taylor (back and center) on Staten Island Ferry.
The Statue of Liberty through the snow.
Kaden playing with pigeons outside the New York Pizza place.
Christmas in New York – sounds glamorous, doesn't it? We didn't start off in New York, though, because after the kids spent most of Christmas Eve and part of Christmas morning opening their presents, with lots of excitement, I might add, the six of us (my son, his wife, their three children, and I) left Virginia and headed north.

The first place we stopped was in Central Park for a carriage ride. Though it was dark and cold, the ride was really fun. We saw hundreds of ice skaters skating on a rink in Central Park. I couldn't help but wonder how good they must all be, because if even one of them fell, a domino effect was likely to occur – but everybody skated around counter-clockwise at a reasonably fast pace, and from the time I noticed them until the time I couldn't see them anymore, everyone was still skating.

Busy busy city – New York streets were bustling with activity, apparently mostly due to the entire city rushing to see the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

I'd like to interrupt this blog right here to discuss the drivers in New York City. Visitors need to know that rules that apply in other cities around the country do not apply in New York. Even my three-year-old grandson, Zac, was confused as he insisted, "Green means stop. Red means go."

Pedestrians were oblivious to the cars around them. The "walk-don't walk" alert might as well have read, "gobbledygook." We had to crawl through traffic – wait, I'm sure New York has another term for traffic – maybe it's standstill. Whatever.

We finally made our way to the magnificent Christmas tree, but we couldn't find a parking space, so, since we were just crawling by anyway, we stared at the mammoth tree from the street, which was great, because that gave us a good half hour to view the tree from inside the car.

"The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree," according to the Rockefeller web site, "is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. The tree, traditionally a Norway Spruce, is illuminated by 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights on five miles of wire, and crowned by a Swarovski crystal star. Tens of thousands crowd the sidewalks for the event and hundreds of millions watch the Tree Lighting Ceremony broadcast live across the globe."

Wikipedia says the Norway spruce is anywhere from 69 to 110 feet tall and has been put up every year, with the exception of 1932, since 1931.


Next stop after we drove through Times Square? Christmas Dinner. But first we had to find the hotel in Queens to get our room. GPS couldn't find it. Nobody at the hotel answered the phone when Michelle called, and the online feature was inaccessible while we drove through several neighborhoods that offered no phone service???????? In New York?????????

Anyway, we finally made it to the hotel and looked around for an open restaurant on Christmas. Closed. Closed. Closed. Closed.

OH, WAIT! There's one! A Japanese restaurant where adults pay a mere $30/plate, and children pay $15/plate! Ridiculous. We drove on.

The ONLY place that was open was a combination Baskin Robbins/Dunkin' Donuts. And so, on Christmas day, my son, his family, and I, had donuts for dinner with ice cream for dessert. (I would have taken and posted a photo, but my son and his wife refused to allow me to take one.)

The next day we rode the Staten Island ferry, had some New York pizza (not bad, but I prefer Chicago pizza), and drove home through a blizzard.

All in all, it was a memorable experience, and I got to spend it with my son and his family, with whom I rarely spend Christmas, so I was really happy.

Next year? Who knows? Whether I'm sitting at my own dining room table eating Christmas dinner or standing in line at a Taco Bell, as long as I'm with family, I'll be happy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Zac's Mouth

While I was sitting on the floor playing with my grandson, Zac, who is 3, Zac ran behind me to jump on my neck. But while he was hanging there, he wanted to know about something he found on my neck.

"Why you got a bubble?"

"It's a mole," I told him.

"I pop it for you," he told me.

And when I looked behind me and saw his open mouth descend on my neck like a vampire (he really does have vampire teeth), I  screamed, "Noooooo!"

My outburst stopped him. "Why?" 

"Because you'll hurt me," I explained.

He thought about it for a few seconds, then decided that if I was hurt, I must need a band-aid.

"I get it for you."

I had been asking other family members where the band-aids were, and nobody else knew, but Zac walked directly to where they were kept (I still don't know where they are), brought one out, opened it up, and tried to place it on my neck.

It got stuck to his fingers, though, so every attempt to place it meant pulling it from one hand and getting it stuck to the other. By the time he was finished I had a wad of band-aid clumped on my neck, making my mole look more like a distorted pile of rubble than a band-aid covered bubble.

On another day Zac told me, as he has been telling me every day, that he needed to see a doctor. So when I mentioned this fact to his parents last night as we were on our way to Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate Zac's mother's homecoming after she had been gone for a couple of weeks (attending to business), Zac said, "Yeah, I need to see a doctor."

And I said, "He keeps saying that. Why does he keep saying that?"

And Zac said, "Know why I say that?"

And I said, "No, why do you keep saying that?"

And Zac said, "Because I have a mouth."

Only one thing wears this little dynamo out – eating. The photo above is of Zac falling asleep at the table after eating. To see a video of Zac falling asleep while eating, click HEREBy the way, Zac really does have a doctor appointment scheduled – for January 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Calling All Nurses!

Since so many people in my immediate circle are nurses (including my sister and my pen pal), I wanted to let you all know about where to find nursing scrubs, scrubs pants, scrubs tops, nurse uniforms, and, well, scrubs clothing in general – if you haven't already hear about this place:

Blue Sky Scrubs.

As I have made abundantly clear in most of my blogs, I like comfortable clothing. If it weren't for the fact that I don't handle crises well when it happens to other people and I have an aversion to cleaning up vomit, because it makes me throw up, I would have become a nurse – not because I wanted to go into the nursing profession, but because I wanted to wear comfortable scrubs clothing. Seriously, I could live in a nursing uniform.

And now that my hair is growing back after chemo, and it still looks hideous, I still wear the hats and scarves so many of my friends gave to me during my early stages of breast cancer. As cute/beautiful/pretty as those hats and scarves are, though, most of them are quite hot indoors, but Blue Sky Scrubs offers hats I can wear INDOORS without getting too hot, and the selection is awesome.

Who'd've thought nursing scrubs could help cancer patients? I would post a photo of myself with my hair today, but it might frighten you, so I'm just going to say this: I'm seriously considering getting some of these nursing scrubs items for myself.

And for all of you who actually are nurses and are looking for some really cute cheap (read inexpensive) scrub tops, uniforms, and scrubs clothing, I invite you to click on any of the links in this blog.

Seinfeld, Glee, Low-Talker Brittany, Taylor, and Misunderstandings

I've been in Virginia with my son and his family for the past couple of weeks, so I've had lots of interactions with Taylor, Kaden, and Zac. Kaden and Zac are LOUD. Taylor is loud only when she is yelling at Kaden, but Taylor's voice is usually, especially when I ask Taylor a question, barely detectable. My inability to hear her often leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Fortunately, I grill Taylor to explain her low-talking revelations. Last night, for instance, when she was supposed to be in bed, she ran downstairs and jumped on the computer. Here's how the conversation went from my perspective (keep in mind that even if I had used one of those funnels in my ear, I still wouldn't have been able to hear her properly):

Me: Taylor, what are you doing? You're supposed to be in bed.
Taylor: I'm looking up something.
Me: Well, if it's for school, why did you wait until after bedtime to look it up?
Taylor (who was in the same room but sounded as if she were talking from another continent): iuo
Me: What are you looking up?
Taylor: Inventor. (Wow, I actually heard that one.)
Me: Which inventor?
Taylor (again from another continent): Mariah Carey.

I could have let it go, because, quite honestly, I didn't know that Mariah Carey invented anything outside of vocal chords that stretched beyond human comprehension. But I persisted.

Me: I didn't know Mariah Carey invented anything.
Taylor (in her lowest possible voice): Muhrie Krey.
Me: Muhrie Krey?
Taylor (even lower): Mre Kre.
Me: Mre Kre???

At this point I stretched my neck until I felt like a giraffe so I could get as close to Taylor as was humanly possible without crushing her. This frightened me, because I'm getting older and older. Pretty soon I won't be able to hear normal-speaking people. How will I deal with low-talkers? I'll be completely left out of every conversation. But now that I was inside her throat I could hear her.

Taylor: Marie Curie.
Me: Oh, well, that makes more sense.

Bottom line: sometimes we don't understand our kids because we don't hear them properly, or sometimes our perceptions are just a little off. The next time your kids or grandkids tell you something that doesn't make sense, probe. And if they are low-talkers, consider surgically implanting loud speakers in their voice boxes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Clone Blog

What do you do when, for TWO WHOLE MONTHS, you have to deal with a ton of personal issues, including a car in need of more than a thousand dollars worth of repair, a broken vacuum cleaner with a warranty (but the nearest fix-it place is 50 miles away), a broken refrigerator (cost me several hundred dollars), a broken computer (would cost the price of a new computer to fix), no Internet connection (so even with a working computer, what difference would it make), seven blogs that cry for your attention, a memory that fails every now and then to remind you to take your cancer drugs and your asthma medicine, AND you take care of children all day long?

Well, I can't answer for you, but for me, I've decided to clone my blogs – at least this once.

Yessiree. If you go to any of my blogs (all of which are listed at the end of this blog), you will find that on this day, December 6, 2010, every single one of my blogs will say exactly the same thing as does this blog – assuming I don't get interrupted while I'm posting everywhere, that is.

So, without further ado (I don't think I've ever used that word before), here are a couple of (shortened versions of) blogs I would have written if I could have found the time and a working Internet connection:


When my hair began to grow after chemo destroyed it, I noticed about a thousand cowlicks EVERYWHERE. In other words, I continue to look as if I am permanently affixed to an invisible electrical socket.

My youngest daughter and I were sitting in the cafeteria at Barnes and Noble (one of my favorite places to visit) when I spotted two women, who at first appeared to be reflections of me in the windows and whose hair looked as ugly as mine did. Of course mine was hiding beneath Avon's Breast Cancer cap, so nobody could tell how truly ugly it was.

In complaining to my daughter about how horrible I felt, because every time I looked in the mirror I saw a frightening apparition, I decided to illustrate my sense of horror by pointing out the two women to her.

"See those two women sitting by the window with their short, ugly, no-style hair?" I asked my daughter. She discreetly turned around.

"That's how I feel," I continued.

"You feel gay?" she asked.

OK, before you get all uppity, know this: several people I know are gay, and one of my best friends is gay – I think HE would get a laugh out of my daughter's comment.


Everybody knows I have none – fashion sense, that is. I even wrote about my lack of fashion sense in my Weekend of Fashion blog, which I invite you to read by clicking the link.

Never had my lack of fashion sense been more apparent, though, than the year Jim Riordan shot his movie, Maddance, and one of his actors needed an outfit for a character she considered to be "trailer trashy."

Oh, what to wear, what to wear? Her eyes settled on me. I was wearing a broom skirt with a button down sleeveless top and a pair of sandals.

"That outfit, the one you're wearing. That would be perfect."

The #@%$&! What irks me even more is that I actually GAVE her my outfit!


Yes, I'll admit it. I have a temper. Some people might be surprised to learn that I do because I usually hide it, though not always very well. You can tell when I'm upset, though, because I sulk or become an absolute witch.

Seething with sarcasm, my eyes squint into slivers of hatred. I become a cartoon character of myself, and I really don't like ME when I act that way (though, believe me, I have plenty of reasons to be "witchy" sometimes). In spite of those reasons, I really TRY to be mature (at my age, you would think that would come naturally by now).

Sadly I can't always help myself, so I'd kind of like other people to step forward and slap my mind with things like, "Do you realize you're acting like a temper-tantrum-throwing child?" or  (sarcastically) "Yeah, it's all about you!" or (even more sarcastically) "Nobody else ever in the history of life itself has ever had as many problems as you do. You deserve the status of martyr. Give me the phone. I must call the Pope!"

When I act like the Wicked Witch of the West I don't understand why people don't just throw a house on me. Maybe my toes curling beneath the pressure of a house smashing me into the ground would be the catalyst for change and I would respond differently. I could smile and say chirpy little comments, like, "My car needs over a thousand dollars worth of repair – the Universe must be trying to tell me something." ("You're getting too old to drive, Nimwit!"), and, "My computer is so broken, it will cost me the price of a new computer to fix it, so the Universe must be trying to tell me something." ("You're the one who wanted to be a writer – maybe you should rethink you're 'ideal job'.")

Or, and this is just a thought, maybe people should start being more responsible for OTHER people, especially those – like me – who need…what? What do I need – a heavy dose of reality? No, thank you. I think I've had  plenty of that…a reminder that lots of people have it worse than I do? No, that won't work. Oh, how about ________ (fill in the blank – I'm trying out a new type of blog – interactive – how's that working for me)?

Oh, you know what? Just throw a house on me!

Hmm, you don't like my remedy for witchiness? Be gone! Before somebody throws a house on you!


Comcast is on my hits (rearrange the letters) list. For the past three years since I moved into my home I have had intermittent problems with my Internet connection, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I call them and they send a tech, without fail, the technician who arrives at my home to FIX (choke choke) the problem tells me that the guy who came before him didn't know what he was doing.


So, does that mean that for the past 3 years, every technician Comcast has sent to my home has been incompetent, or does Comcast hire egocentric techs with superiority complexes who believe that nobody but them knows how to properly connect a computer to the Internet?

Whatever. My Internet connection is in Illinois while I am in Virginia enjoying, in addition to attending to the needs of my grandchildren, a reliable Internet connection. Could the fact that I'm in Quantico, hub of the FBI and other government agencies, have anything to do with that, I wonder?

Despite the vacuum cleaner/computer/Internet/car/refrigerator problems I have been deftly dealing with over the past several months, I have managed to get a couple of articles and blogs written, the most recent of which is Paranormal Gifts for Your Paranormal Loved One.

In my Help For Single Parents blog, my most recent postings are:
Applauding Accomplishments
Single Parent Resources

The three recent posts that appear in my Paranormal Minds blog are:
Why Does the Tarot Scare People?
Interviewing the Dead
I Have a Confession to Make

My Heart Blogs To You includes the following recent posts:
What Happened This Halloween
T-Ball With Kaden
Why I Have No Time To Write
Jeremy – Another Writer In My Family

Your Weird Dreams could appear in this blog along with these dreams:
The Bobby and The Dead Guy In The Trunk
Violent Murder In A Dream
Dream of Former Workplace

Writer of Blogs includes only one recent post:
How Embarrassment Became a Kindle

Your Blog Connection is currently disconnected due to the fact that I have not interviewed anybody recently for that blog.
But just because I had no time to devote to this blog, doesn't mean you can't check it out ;) Also, if you want YOUR blog covered, let me know.

My Wordpress Blog:
Nothing new here, either, but feel free to visit for links to my other blogs and articles that automatically post here.

My most recent Associated Content Articles include the following:
A Halloween Paranormal Nightmare While Awake
I Wish Somebody Would Do Something About That!
The Perfect Gift for People Who Have Everything

My most recent Xomba Articles include:
A Halloween Paranormal Nightmare While Awake: Halloween Voices Won't Let You Sleep
Interview With Dead Rock Star Jim Morrison of the Doors
Learning the Mysteries of The Tarot
Paranormal Gifts for Your Paranormal Loved One

Hopefully by 2011, everything will be less stressful and I'll be writing more. The only way I can see that happening, though, is to find my own planet. But then I'd have to consider the costs to get there and...

In the meantime, thank you for reading this blog and clicking on the links.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jeremy – Another Writer In My Family

Grandson Jeremy pushing Great Granddaughter Ayla in swing
Finally! Somebody else in my family (which includes my parents, my two sisters, my four children, my ten grandchildren, and my two great grandchildren) wants to write.

My nine-year-old grandson, Jeremy (who admittedly is about as strange as the rest of my family – maybe he got it from me), is in the process of writing a story! Finally, one of my offspring's offspring has caught the writing bug.

I can't wait to read it Рit's about a Chinese serial killer named Jos̩.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why I Have No Time To Write

Nolan and Ayla Eating Lunch In The Back Yard
In addition to watching two of my grandchildren (Nolan and Audrey) every day (mostly Nolan when Audrey is in school), I am now watching Ayla (my great granddaughter) for the week while her mommy (my granddaughter, Sarah) picks up her daddy from California to drive him back to Illinois. No more Marines for Drew.

So in order for me to get any writing done at all, I have to sneak on the computer when everybody is preoccupied. Right now, Nolan and Ayla are seated at a table eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (see photo).

Prior to eating, we drove to the bank and to Walgreens to get a couple of my prescriptions filled. On the way there, the kids decided they wanted to play a game.

Nolan said, "I'm Super Why."

Ayla said, "I'm Super Princess."

And Nolan added, "Grandma, you can be the pig."

What more can I add? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

T-Ball With Kaden

Kaden at t-ball
I forgot to mention one tiny little event that occurred on my recent visit to Virginia. My son had pulled into the parking lot for my grandson's t-ball game. The tiny parking lot was surrounded by trees, so I was having a hard time imagining where the field might be. All I could see was a port-a-potty, other cars, and a bunch of trees.

It had to be behind the forest preserve, I reasoned. And it was. Unlike any t-ball field I've ever seen, this one was down a very l-o-n-g, steep trail that led to an open field. I was huffing and puffing by the time we got to the bottom of the mountain. The other team forgot to show up though, so we had to leave.

The weekend after my first visit to this field, I would return with my son's three children, because he and his wife were on a white-water rafting trip. With the help of GPS, I found my way to the parking lot and managed to get the ball, the bat, the cap, the helmet, the drinks, and the kids down the trail and on to the field. YAY! I could finally sit down.

Midway through the second inning (out of only three), Kaden came to me to tell me he had to go to the bathroom.

"Really? Now? You're going to make me hike all the way back to the parking lot where the port-a-potty is located? You can't wait? You'll miss half the game!" 

But he really had to go, so I asked Taylor to watch Zac while I trekked back up the mountain to the outdoor potty.

Out of breath and realizing I didn't have any tissue with me, but unwilling to hike back to the fields, I opened the door to hell and watched Kaden walk in. He froze in sheer panic and started to vomit. He had made the mistake of looking inside the port-a-potty.

"I can't do this!" he cried. 

"Just do it quickly," I suggested. "Don't look."

"I can't. It's too disgusting. It smells too bad."

I wanted to say I'd stay inside with him, but I couldn't. I know. I'm a horrible grandma, but I was almost vomiting too; the stench was that bad. 

We argued for a while: 

"I have to go!"

"So go!"

"I can't."

"Then what do you want to do?"

"I want to go."

"So go!"

"I can't."

After I realized the conversation was forming a circular pattern, I offered Kaden the ground outside the port-a-potty as an option.

But I had no toilet paper with me and Kaden was really concerned: "What if somebody sees me?"

So we decided he would tough it out. He hobbled back to the game, holding his stomach the whole way, and throughout the rest of that game and the next worked through the pain.

What a trooper my little Kaden was. If he ever has bowel obstruction problems, though, I'm blaming the people who are supposed to be in charge of cleaning the port-a-potty.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas In an Online Bed/Bath Shop

Christmas is coming and while I'd love to tell you about gifts you can purchase for your loved ones, I'd really like to tell you about gifts you can give to YOURSELF! I have never seen bedding like the New Bedding by Veratex or the New Bedding by Triangle Home Fashions. These are some of the most beautiful comforter sets I've ever seen. And if you'd prefer Chenille & Matelasse Bedspreads, check out that link as well. The colors and selection are amazing.

This place offers far more than just bedding, too. You can also take advantage of their Slipcover Sale, their Table Runners and Place Mats, and even their Modern Stools and Chairs.

Just click any of the links in this blog and you'll be taken to the spots that sell the items.

And if you've ever wanted an Outdoor Fireplaces (perfect for this time of year and they are so beautiful), check out that selection. Gorgeous stuff. Too bad my daughter didn't know about this place when she was looking for a fire pit for her husband last Christmas.

OK, now for the "shopping for others" part of this blog (though I suppose you could purchase any of the items listed above for them too): If you have any sports fans, like Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox fans, check out their MLB Shower Curtain and Accessories. OK, I'm going to shop now – I mean stop now.

 Happy Shopping! You can thank me later.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What Happened This Halloween

Halloween 2010 Candy We'll Probably Hand Out Next Year
My daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren, and I live together. None of us has any money, so when it came to getting candy for Halloween, all we could do was pull out the giant bowl of candy we still dig through from last year's take at Halloween.

I stayed home to hand out the year-old candy while everybody else went Trick-or-Treating. We still had so much candy and had returned so late from celebrating Audrey's 6th birthday at Chuck E Cheese, that we had only an hour left to hand out candy.

At one point, I decided I'd look for something good to eat. It wasn't until I got to the bottom of the bowl though, that I discovered some already opened candy (which I discarded), pennies (which I took out to save for the kids) and a bunch of cough drops.

Imagine the poor kids who came to our house going home and asking Mom or Dad to have ONE PIECE, PLEASE? and then discovering they had just thrown a cough drop into their mouths.

Sorry, little trick-or-treaters, but look at the stash you'll have for next year!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little Sister Saves Big Brother From Scary Robber

As the oldest sibling in a family of three children, I am well aware of the "perceived" hierarchy that exists in families who have more than one child. My younger sister and I frequently picked on our youngest sister by telling her she was adopted (she wasn't) and that aliens, disguised as specks of dust, were following her in the basement ready to kidnap her and take her away to a distant planet.

She claimed she didn't believe us, but we knew she was lying – I mean, we were so obviously superior to her. And like most kids, we always made sure our parents weren't around to hear us taunting her.

Which leads me to...

My daughter-in-law, Michelle, and I were talking earlier today about our shared fear – basements – when she remembered the time her big brother, Mario, woke her from a sound sleep to investigate their scary basement.

Mario was in junior high at the time, three years older than his tiny (even now, she barely hits five feet tall) sister, when he sent her downstairs with a bat and a knife to investigate sounds he heard in the basement (remember – she's afraid of them).

He thought maybe a robber had broken in and he had a plan, so it seems, to save the entire family from the dangerous robber by sending his LITTLE sister downstairs with a bat and a knife.

Michelle's job was to bang on a pole with the bat every ten seconds and to swing the knife around so she could slash the robber in case he crossed her path, which was probably smart of Mario, because at her height, she probably would have cut him in the groin.

If ten seconds passed and Mario didn't hear any more banging, he would know a robber truly was roaming the basement, because when the banging stopped, Mario would know that his little sister was dead – killed by the robber.

Mario's job? To call the cops when the banging stopped.

I can't explain to you why this story cracks me up so much – maybe you have to know these two people to understand the hilarity of the situation, but I really would have loved to have seen this scenario played out in person, so I could have watched mini-Michelle slash and bang and slash and bang and slash and bang (one-two-three…ten – bang) while Mario stood upstairs – phone in hand (probably counting in his head) – ready to call the cops when the banging stopped.

It never occurred to Michelle at the time that maybe her parents were better equipped to deal with potential robbers or sounds emanating from the basement – her big football-playing brother needed her help and she was going to face her fears and protect her family by wielding a knife and banging on a pole.

OK, I need to stop laughing right now and take a breath. But what I really want to do is to send a bat and a knife to Mario so he can save it for his son in case he and his wife ever have a daughter. That way his son's little sister can learn how to protect her family.

Blurry photo of Mario and Michelle was "borrowed" from their sister, Vicki (thanks, Vicki).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Emotions Connected with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Since September 2009, when I was first given a breast cancer diagnosis, I have been chronicling my breast cancer journey with details of the initial diagnosis, chemotherapy, and radiation.

The first four parts of my journey were very technical and clinical. This last journal entry talks about the emotions I experienced during my first year after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.

I invite you to read Diagnosis: Breast Cancer – Part V,  I welcome your comments, and I thank you for reading.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please do yourself and your family a favor by giving yourself monthly breast exams. It could save your life and prevent your family from experiencing the loss of a loved one.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Understanding 3 Year Olds

"This time never never again say that thing to me."

Here's "that thing": My daughter and her family have the movie, The Cat In The Hat. I have the same exact movie.

A couple of weeks ago Nolan wanted to watch MY Cat in the Hat movie. I told him that my movie was the same as his movie and that since we were watching it on HIS TV, we could watch HIS movie, which was right next to HIS TV.

He didn't want to watch HIS movie. He wanted to watch MY movie. So I got MY movie and held it next to HIS movie.

"See? It's the exact same movie," I said convincingly.

"But I want to watch YOUR movie."

"Nolan, look," I said holding the two movies side-by-side in front of him. "It's the same movie."

That's when he started crying. That's when I wondered, why does it matter which movie he watches if I have the same movie?

Dinner was ready, so we all ate dinner and he forgot about it.

Until the next day.

That day Nolan wanted to watch MY Cat in the Hat movie. Not his. Mine. And just when I was about to argue with him about how MY movie and HIS movie were exactly the same movie, he said, "This time never never again say that thing to me."

"That thing" apparently meant pointing out the fact that my movies and his movies were the same movies.

Recently, in order to downsize, I put all of my movies into a portable carrying case, ridding myself of all of the plastic cases. It saved me a lot of room. Now Nolan and Audrey enjoy leafing through the movies to find one they want to watch. What's perplexing about this ordeal is that they have HUNDREDS of children's movies. I have less than 20.

Despite the fact that they have so many more movies from which to choose, it looks like we will be watching MY movies from now on. Why?

If anybody out there can understand the thinking of a three-year-old, please explain his reasoning to me, because while I pride myself on figuring out the thought processes of toddlers, this particular toddler has me stumped.

In the photo above, Audrey and Nolan sit next to their plastic cup and paper plate creation. Behind them sits just a fraction of their movies.

Monday, September 13, 2010


When I told Audrey yesterday that yesterday would be the last time I would see her, she said, "And then you're gonna die?"

That was my laugh for yesterday. Actually, as soon as I find out from "All About Eyes" if my new glasses came in, I'm leaving for Indiana where I will spend the night with my sister before driving to Florida with my youngest sister, Kathy. I will also meet Chris, my pen pal since I was in grammar school. We have NEVER met.

I am looking forward to this trip for so many reasons. So to my family, I say good-bye and I love you, and to my Associated Content friends I say, CLICK HERE.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're Gonna See Penguins?

I took Nolan, my three-year-old grandson, to the part the other day and when I started getting bored because our "park" has only a merry-go-round (which I can't go on because it makes me sick), a teeter-totter, and four swings, I said, "Why don't we go find the peacocks?"

Well, that's what I intended to say. What I said, and what I ALWAYS say, was, "Why don't we go find the penguins?"

I don't know why I CONSISTENTLY make this same mistake. I didn't realize I had said penguins (AGAIN) until my grandson's eyes lit up. Surprised and happy, Nolan asked, "We're gonna see PENGUINS?"

I feel as if I should belong to one of those anonymous groups that meet for problems they can't control. Maybe, like alcoholism, my problem would be considered a disease, and I'm wondering if "ITIA", which I know sounds curiously close to idiot, is a disease that exists. (ITIA stands for Inability To Identify Animals.)

Maybe I'm the only one afflicted with this malady. Or maybe the synapses in my brain are hay-wired due to LACK OF SLEEP, INSOMNIA, and EXCESSIVE STRESS.

ITIA has been problematic for me for as long as I can remember. When my children were growing up, we sometimes visited the zoo and, peering into various cages, they would ask, as children usually do, "What is that?" I would have to run for the sign, because I might have warped their little minds if I had accidentally called a muskrat a giraffe.

As usual, when Nolan brought to my attention ONCE AGAIN my error in calling a peacock a penguin, my shoulders dropped as I let out a heavy sigh. And then I burst into tears, laughing at the absurdity of how I ALWAYS – EVERY SINGLE TIME – when I try to say peacocks, say penguins instead.

And now I'm afraid my poor grandson has caught my disease, because while we were looking for the peacocks, we saw the same white cat we always see when we search for the penguins. (I can NOT believe I just did it again – I meant peacocks.)

"Oh, look, Nolan, there's that white cat," I said.

"It's not a cat," Nolan told me, "It's a pig."

What defective gene did I inadvertently pass on to my grandson?

Maybe I should look into getting the National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Her First Kiss

Audrey was ecstatic yesterday. "Guess what, Grandma!"

Uh-oh. (Brittney already warned me.)

"I kissed Mason today."

Audrey met Mason at t-ball over the summer. Apparently it was love at first sight, because he has been her best friend ever since.

We knew she liked him, but hearing about the two of them kissing took us all totally by surprise. And I want you to notice – she said that she kissed Mason; not that Mason kissed her.

Audrey told me that she had said to Mason, "I want to kiss you," so Mason did what any red-blooded boy would do when asked that question by a beautiful little girl – he kissed her.

What's funny is that after he kissed her, he said, "I wanna do that again!" at which time his mother said, "I think that's enough kissing for today."

When we later discussed the events of the day at the dinner table, Audrey's daddy said, "Well, she's not going to Mason's house again."

We then had to remind him that Audrey was the one who initiated the kiss. Watch out, World – Audrey's coming (and she's not even 6 yet).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just Down The Road Right Around The Corner

Seems everybody in my family (excluding my son) has a problem with calculating distances. This morning Brittney asked me to accompany her to Audrey's doctor appointment because Brittney had to go to work and she wasn't sure how long the appointment would last.

"Where is it?" I asked her.

"Just follow me," she said.

The reason she wouldn't tell me was because she had previously told me (or so she says) that it was "just down the road" from where her husband played ball.

So we left, drove for several blocks and then she turned around. Oh, I get it, it's a game. OK. I followed her back to the house where she retrieved Audrey's forgotten lunch and backpack. Ah, I get it.

And away we went again.

Mile after mile, with me following behind her, we passed her husband's softball field and drove another mile, and another mile, and another mile. Still driving. Wondering how she might have felt to see my headlights drift slowly away when I ran out of gas.

I started thinking, it's gotta be close, right? It was "just down the road" after all. The ride was beautiful though. The sun was shining. I should have brought a tape recorder (note to self: buy a tape recorder) so I could have WRITTEN A BOOK in the time it took to get "just down the road," which turned out to be TEN MILES past her husband's softball field.

Oh, the memories that surfaced as a result of this morning's trip –

My sisters, Cindy and Kathy, my mother, my sister-friend, Nancy, and I –
A Las Vegas vacation –
Nancy high-fiving every unsuspecting tourist who walked past her –
My sister, Kathy, wanting us to walk to some bar she thought would be fun –
My happiness, because I had "all my sisters with me" AND my son (who was stationed in Camp Pendleton at the time). He had driven up to spend the night with us, driving through Los Angeles fires to get to us.

With the exception of the fires, who could ask for more?

Mom decided not to accompany us on our trip to the bar that was "right around the corner," because Mom discovered that just because you like cable car drinks doesn't mean you have to drink thousands of them, and she was feeling, shall we say, a little queasy. (Smile, Mom.)

So we headed out to a bar that my sister promised was "right around the corner". I want you to know, before I go any further, that I have a bad back, and even when I wear my back brace, walking for even a block causes pain. Walking for several blocks causes excruciating pain.

After a couple of hours, as we were crossing a bridge, I collapsed (we had been walking uphill for quite a while) as my sister sprinted ahead singing and dancing, "it's right around the corner."

"Right around the corner" turned out to be about five miles. I was dying.

After we spent a couple of hours at the bar, and after I got lost looking for a chiropractor, we found each other and took a cab back to the hotel.

And now I'm going on a trip to Florida with my sister, Kathy. I should probably discuss the driving/walking agenda before we leave.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Our Relatives

My Uncle Jack always told me that these were our relatives. I've been looking for them for a long time. And I finally found them!

Mannish Boy | MySpace Video

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bored? Sad? Have I Got News For You!

Amanda & Sarah, two of my beautiful grandchildren
We all experience moments of sadness or boredom. Even my own grandchildren will look droopy or sad because maybe Mom or Dad yelled at them for throwing the roller coaster at each other.

While one of them is crying from the pain, the other, sent to the corner for a time-out, screams out in fear of being tortured by spiders who camp out in that corner of the house. Amazing how quickly those little arachnids can build a home.

But I digress. A couple of my other grandchildren will Facebook things like, "I'm so bored," or "I hate people," or, "Oh, poor me. I'm going out to the garden to eat worms."

Wait. Sorry, that last one was a flashback to my childhood when my parents, who had no empathy whatsoever for my own sad feelings, would make fun of me by repeating that mantra every time I pouted about being unable to breathe as I lay dying from an asthma attack. Oh-oh, my exaggeration gene just sprouted wings again.

Anyway,  along came a spider – oops, I still have spiders in my head, or is that cobwebs on my brain (what is happening to me today?) – oh, I know, I'm just being me, and today is one of those erratic-silly-thoughts-in-my-head kind of day. And I wasn't even drinking.

I think it's because I'm getting kind of giddy knowing that soon one of my sisters and I will be taking a road trip to Florida together (wish my other sister could join us), and that after that I'll be taking another road trip to visit my son and his family.

What happens in my head is that my happiness excites the neurons in my brain and I feel, well, HAPPY!

Oh, YAY! Somehow I managed to get back to the point of this blog, which is to tell everybody who feels sad, morose, lethargic, or sobby (yes, I just made up that word and I like it) to read, 10 Ways to Feel Happy in 5 Minutes or Less by Joan Haines.

So I will leave you with the song and video, Don't Worry – Be Happy, released in September 1988 by Bobby McFerrin, starring Robin Williams and Bill Irwin. Embedding was disabled (I would have liked to have had it right here in my blog), so I can only provide the link. I invite you to watch the video and listen to it HERE.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Love and a Marriage Proposal

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

When she hopped into my car after I picked her up from the bus stop yesterday, Audrey announced, "I have some great news!"

I couldn't wait to hear, "I'm the smartest kid in the class," or "My teacher said I could go straight to college."

But instead, she said, smiling and proud, "I have a boyfriend."

Oh, OK. Who?

"Mason. He asked me to marry him."

Mason and Audrey were on the same t-ball team over the summer and instantly became best friends. Whenever they see each other, they practically run in slow motion to jump in each others' arms.

So now we're talking about weddings. Hmm...

This actually works in Audrey's favor and to her benefit, because her mom owns Briella's Boutique, an upscale baby, children, and bridal boutique, so Audrey can get beautiful inexpensive clothes the whole time she's growing up to save up for the wedding gown that her mom will probably sell her at a discount. It's a win-win!

I Crap Myself

Oh, the things kids say. They're so cute and funny and they crack us up.

When they are toddlers, as they are learning how to pronounce words, without benefit of actually reading the word and being able to figure out the sounds each letter makes, they rely on their own memories.

And so it happened that, surrounded by strangers, Zac blurted out, "I crap myself."

I'm sure lots of prim and proper parents were appalled by the outburst. I mean, wouldn't, "I pooped myself" sound so much better? Or how about, "Mother, father, I believe I just defecated." But, "I crap myself?" Are you kidding me?

Let's examine this outburst. Most likely, if you have children, you will understand that what kids say and what they are trying to say are two different things, and you will understand why Zac (pictured with his older brother Kaden) was actually saying, "I crack myself up."

(photo above is of two of my grandchildren: Zac on the left and Kaden on the right)

P.S. Aren't they adorable? They're funny too. They crap me up. I mean, crack me up.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Why WHY Do I Keep Saying This?

Today (and every day now that Audrey is in school), I take care of Nolan, who is three. He generally wants my undivided attention, because his usual playmate is gone, so I write only when I can sneak off to the computer (like now) when he's immersed in something (eating) or when we're outside in the back yard and I can sit with my laptop while he plays on the swing set.

We try to get outside at least once a day and I had asked him earlier if he wanted to go for a walk. Several blocks away from my home live some peacocks, but finding them is not always easy. So today (note the photo of the beautiful sky – can you see the moon?), I got out his clothes and asked him if he wanted to look for the penguins.

He was surprised and excited. "We can see penguins?" Normally I would have let that pass, because, well, kids often confuse words.

But no. Once again, for possibly the one thousandth time, I had told him we were going to see penguins when I meant to say peacocks. Why do I keep doing that? All the time! It makes absolutely no sense and it annoys me deeply!

I have already written about this problem HERE and HERE. What is it about my brain that CONSISTENTLY wants to call peacocks penguins? Can anybody help me out here? If brains are like computers, mine has a computer glitch with a "fatal error" notation that is in desperate need of repair. HELP ME before I start calling the psychiatric ward my home.

Excuse me, I have to get Nolan (who normally speaks very well but who today, for some reason, is having difficulty talking – oh, no, is he going to start calling peacocks penguins?) some pupcake pokey keggles after he eats his pubber jubby jamidge.

He was so flustered trying again and again to say Cupcake Pebbles cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwich that he finally opened the refrigerator, pulled out some chicken nuggets, which he was able to pronounce very clearly, and asked if he could eat those instead.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not ME!

See the arrow on the left, next to the box marked, RoseArt, which points to an empty bottle?

See the contents of that now empty bottle to the right of that arrow and the rest of the contents that are on the floor?

And now I would like to draw your attention to the final arrow that points to a set of foot prints.

The reason these arrows are significant is because they point to the point of this blog. Get the point?

When Audrey, 5, was at school and Nolan and I were home alone, I opened the door to the pantry, and this photo shows what I found. As I stood at the entry to the pantry, I asked Nolan, 3, "Who spilled the sand art in the pantry?"

His eyes widened, as he searched his repertoire of usable comments, and responded, "Not me."

His comment reminded me of a story my mom told me about the time I had just learned to write my name. My younger sisters, Cindy and Kathy, were still too young to attend school, and I was obviously too young to realize I could be caught in a lie.

I had written MY name on the wall, and when my mother asked me who wrote it, I blamed Cindy. (I chose Cindy, by the way, because she was usually the one who got in trouble, so I just chose the most believable person. See? I was smart, after all.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Clean Up Time With Nolan

I had been trying to get Nolan, 3, to clean up his mess, but Nolan enjoys watching his mommy, his grandma (me), and his sister, Audrey, clean up his messes. He would rather go to bed than clean up, so I've been using that tactic to get him to take naps.

Just kidding, but the child makes messes faster than anybody I know, so cleaning up is a LONG PROCESS.

In the time it takes the average person to go to the bathroom, the entire house will be filled with every toy, game, and puzzle piece Nolan can find.

Today, while Mommy was out of the room, and after she and I had repeatedly asked Nolan to clean up his mess or he wouldn't be able to go to the pool, which is scheduled to close next week due to the Labor Day holiday, I tried to help Nolan understand how cleaning would benefit him and his mother.

"Cleaning up your mess would make Mommy really happy," I told him. "Don't you want to make Mommy happy?"

I don't know why I'm always surprised by the comments that come out of my grandchildren's mouths. You would think that by now I would be able to handle their comments without laughing.

Nolan (and the rest of my grandchildren) make controlling my laughter nearly impossible, because when I asked Nolan if he wanted to make his mommy happy by cleaning up his mess, he said, "No, I want Audrey to make Mommy happy."

(Blogger wouldn't let me upload the good quality movie of Nolan – I gave up after trying for six hours.)

Where to Take Grandma When She Visits

Knowing I would have only a couple of hours to visit my daughter and grandchildren after driving three hours to West Frankfort, IL, Keeley wanted to come up with ideas for how to entertain Grandma (me) during the time I would spend with her, Wesley, 13, and Jeremy, 10.

I've never visited her for two reasons – I'm allergic to all the pets she has owned and – I can't see well enough to drive at night.

Even though the animals are outside the home now, I still have to wait for the dander to disappear (allergists claim it can take sometimes up to a year) before I can spend the night. Until then I will have to drive back and forth.

Keeley decided we should go to the mall and have lunch. Great. I was starving. But what about after lunch? I could have stayed at the mall, but Keeley wanted to do something a little more exciting.

I know, Keeley thought! Let's take Grandma to the prison!

WOW! That really wouldn't have been my first choice, mostly because it would never have entered my mind to entertain myself at a prison, but I was curious and, like I've always said, it doesn't really matter what I do with my kids and grandkids as long as we spend time together.

But I had to wonder what would we do there – look at all the inmates in their cages like we would animals in a zoo? And that's when Keeley told me it was a jail museum, but it was kind of far and I had to leave soon, so we decided to save The Franklin County Jail Museum for another trip.

Maybe I should rethink the whole, "I don't care what we do as long as we're together" thing, but Keeley assured me that it was really interesting.

Next on our list of things to do was leave my signature on a check. Jeremy's school is selling popcorn as a fund raiser. And he was quite insistent that I sign his popcorn form. This kid is quite the salesman. He never let up. He carried that form with him to the car, and asked me numerous times if I wanted any popcorn.

Finally, after his relentless pressuring, I asked (in my most incorrect English), "Who do I make out the check to?"

Anybody who knows Jeremy knows that he can't help but laugh at himself. So the second he started laughing I knew something funny was about to happen.

"Oh," he laughed, "just make it out to my best friend, Cash."

(Photo is of Wesley, 13, and Jeremy, 10.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Creative Tattoos Using a Birth Mark

I have a hideous looking birth mark on the back of one of my legs. One day, when I was around 4 years old, probably shortly after I noticed it (way back in the 1950's), I sat at my namesake's kitchen table.

There, on that table, was the answer to the question I had been dying to ask. The splotchy decoration that covered the middle of her white table looked EXACTLY like the birth mark on the back of my leg.

"What is that, Theresa?" I asked her, knowing I would finally, after four long years, discover the name for that hideous mark that covered the back of my leg.

"It's a grape stain," Theresa told me. (Back in the 50s, once a stain, always a stain.)

Hmm, so that's what I had on the back of my leg, a grape stain.

For my whole life, I have felt uncomfortable baring my legs because of that birth mark. I wanted to get a tattoo to cover it up, but because of its size, I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to use to cover it.

A butterfly seemed to be the most obvious tattoo, simply because, turned sideways, it kind of looks like a butterfly, but I didn't want a sideways butterfly on my leg.

Then I came up with the idea of getting an angel with flowing robes. But instead of angel wings, my tattoo would have butterfly wings! I loved the idea and sent it to my family for their consideration.

That's when my creative sister, Cindy, stepped forward with her comments. At first, she said she was a little upset by the fact that her older sister, who was nearing 60, would even consider getting a tattoo at such an OLD age. Then she thought that since I had been through breast cancer, I deserved to do whatever I wanted to do to my body.

Her suggestion was quite different from mine, though. Instead of an angel with butterfly wings, she thought, because of the color (grape), I should have the tattoo artist draw a sandwich around the birthmark, and let the jelly drip off the sides. Cute, Cindy.

If I didn't like that idea, she had another one – drawing a wine bottle around it. Again – cute, Cindy, but if I decide to go with a tattoo, I think I'm going to go with my idea of an angel with butterfly wings.

Photo is what my birthmark looks like pre-tattoo (or possibly forever) – you have no idea how difficult it is to take a picture of the back of your leg, by the way.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Happens When Cousins Protects Cousins From Little Brothers

I would like your empathy for a moment as I explain the following video to you before you watch it.

I was in charge of four of my grandchildren one night. We were in a 2-bedroom apartment that belonged to one of my daughters. Lindsey has no children, no toys, no games, no computers, and basically, nothing to keep them occupied, and she wasn't home to help out, so I had to rely on my creativity to keep them occupied.

After we played the Hokey Pokey and after we played Simon Says, I brought out my camera and asked them to PLAY so that I could videotape them.  Here is what happened (as you listen to the sound, remember, we are in an apartment where other non-family members live):

Explanation: Nolan got upset about the fighting and retreated to the couch. Zac scratched Audrey (can't see it in the video). Kaden wanted to protect Audrey (his cousin) from Zac (his brother) and demanded that Zac say, "sorry". Zac refused. Kaden got (shall we say) upset. In the end, Zac told ME to tell Audrey, "sorry."

I should have brought along a copy of the Preschooler's Busy Book. It might have taken me all night, but with 365 creative games and activities to occupy children between the ages of 3 and 6, I might have had a more peaceful outcome.

But then, maybe it wouldn't have been blog material.