December 11, 2012


Sometimes the best books are the wordless ones.  That was the case this past weekend when I visited Baby Bird.  On display in his room was his new favorite book, Where's Walrus?, by Stephen Savage.  The adventure begins when a bored walrus escapes from his zookeeper and heads into the city.  He cleverly disguises himself in a number of urban locations before discovering an unknown talent...the high dive...for which he receives five 10s!  Baby Bird gave this book a ten, and I read it at least that many times or more.

Another recent addition to his library is Red Sled. This sweetly illustrated book consists of onomatopoeias to give life to a wild adventure on a red sled left outside by a child and discovered by her nature friends.  Get your sound effects ready when you 'read' this one!

The boys will all be together over the holidays, so my goal is to capture them all in a picture just being still for a split second to be in focus.  Is that too much to ask? 


November 27, 2012


November!  That month of feasting has come and gone.  Here's a taste of ours...









 Now wobbling into December.  I'm sure it won't go nearly as fast, right?

October 26, 2012

Put Your Feet Up and Stay Awhile

It's been a busy month or two around here with football season in full swing.  In between home games, I have been meeting delivery people at the new house on the island, and just having a good time hanging pictures, and pulling projects together that I started even before the ink was dry on the deal. 

Let me show you a few of the projects, and I promise to get back into books very soon.  (We HAVE been reading!)

Thanks to Country Boys, I have a very pretty basket arrangement on the door.  I love how the designer incorporated some low country feel into the flowers by adding cotton.  It was her suggestion to go with something other than a wreath given the oval window in the door.  I would have never thought of that. 

I went crazy with spray paint on some my projects.  Yay for spray paint!  Here is a sneak peek of the guest room.  The bed, the side table, and even the lamp got sprayed! I wish I had a more recent picture because I have added a lampshade and FINALLY gotten the best possible knobs for the old computer hutch.  Remember that project from last summer?  It's found a great space in the new home.

One of the 'funnest' rooms to plan has been the bunkroom for the grandchildren and other young at heart guests.  It has a nautical theme, and there is no end to the possiblities there.  I have an old oar, ship's wheel mirror, and lobster buoys still to be hung...see what I mean?  Happily, all three grands have already tested this room out and given it their stamp of approval!
And then there is the blank slate on the porch that Mama Cat is working on as a Christmas gift for us.  How many days til' Christmas?  Can't wait to see her 'vision' of what this area should be. 

That's just a small glimpse into some of the projects that have been occupying this Grammy's time instead of keeping up the blog.

I hope everyone has a spooktacular Halloween!



September 15, 2012

A Grammy By Any Other Name...

will answer.  Yes, there are many names for a grandmother.  Nana, Mimi, Grandma, G-Ma, Lovely, Honey, MayMay...and of course, Grammy.  Before PDub was born, I was asked many times what I would be called.  "Whatever he chooses will be fine with me," was my basic opinion.  Still I was pressed to choose something.  At the time, Candice Bergen was in a popular TV show, Boston Legal.  I enjoyed the show and thought Candice was a pretty attractive woman of my 'age', so when her TV granddaughter appeared in an episode and called her Grammy, I decided that I liked that.  It sounded like someone who would be fun to hang out with and that's what I hope to be to my grandchildren. 

The name has worked out well.  Gammy, as PDub, now pronounces it, has been used with great success.  Just let me hear that around 6:00a.m., and I am by the crib in a heartbeat.  When I hear it on the phone, I can't help but smile.  Yes, the name certainly seems to fit.

But a Grammy by another name works, too.  Baby Bird has dubbed me GaGa.  I love that name, too!  He picked up the Papa name for Papallama very quickly and follows him around like a little duckling, but he seemed confused as to who I was...namewise.  Then on our last visit, the magical moment when I officially got my title occurred.  When asked to point to Grammy, he smiled, looked at me, and said GaGa.  (Cue the sappy music)  Now he is quite satisfied as to who I am and what to call me.  And so am I.  I have asked Mama Cat not to correct him and tell him I am Grammy.  No, I am GaGa for as long as he wants to call me that. 

Just call me~

August 29, 2012

The Lonely Shadow

As promised, I checked out the books on my recent visit to the Low Country.  I found a great one at Wonder Works, the mother of all toy stores in Charleston and beyond. 

The Lonely Shadow is written and illustrated by silhouettist and song writer, Clay Rice.  I have always been a fan of his grandfather, Carew Rice, and Clay, as they use their talent and unique artform to illustrate landscapes and people of the South and in particular, the Low Country.  Clay Rice, who learned the art from his grandfather, has cut hundreds of thousands of silhouettes of children.  It was a wish I had to have sillouettes of my own daughters, but sadly, never fulfilled.  Still, I admire the sceneries and still lifes captured over the long careers of both artists.

The Lonely Shadow is a beautiful story about a shadow who doesn't belong.  On his search for his owner, he passes many lovely scenes (silhouettes, of course) until he finds the perfect match.  The text is sing song and perfect for a young audience and sweet enough for a bedtime story. 

There are many lessons that may emerge from reading this book.  Shadows, reflection, mood,sequence, cause and effect, and of course, art, are just a few that come to mind. 

And if you are really lucky, you may just find Clay on tour and not only have him sign a book, but complete a silhouette of your little one. 

The shadow often gets a bad rap. It's dark. It can not be grasped.  It is a reflection of us, good and bad.  But this quote and The Lonely Shadow's theme sum up my feelings about the dear ole shadow.

"Shadows sometimes people don't see shadows. The Chinese of course never paint them in pictures, oriental art never deals with shadow. But I noticed these shadows and I knew it meant it was sunny. "
-David Hockney

May your shadow be long today~

August 9, 2012

I'm on Island Time

There is an oak lined moss draped road that lulls me in and takes me to another dimension.  Let's just call it Island Time.  For years, Papallama and I would leave our hectic, stressful life and splurge on a week at the end of this road.  By the time we arrived with the girls in tow, we had already forgotten our cares and were ready to play and relax.  There must be something in that moss. 

I might have dared to dream about actually living there one day, but I never gave it serious consideration.  I felt really lucky if I made it back each summer.

So now I feel like someone needs to pinch me, because I am going to own my own island retreat in just a few days from now!  How?  Thank the housing bust, low interest rates, and well, Providence. 

Because buying a house and moving 'stuff' into it are monopolizing my time, this blog will have to wait for a few more weeks.  There is a great book store on the Island, so I will be doing my homework.  But until then

I'm on Island Time~

July 9, 2012

Happy Birthdays, Boys!

Wow! It's been a while since my last post, but I suppose after all these years, a little vacation is deserved!  It's been an incredibly busy month chock full of fun and exciting events. 

Starting in June, Baby Bird turned the big O-N-E!  I may need a new name for him now as he has turned into a full fledged toddler walking and talking all the way!  Mama Cat planned his birthday around a color scheme and made it a day to remember for all of us lucky enough to be in attendance. 

Following that birthday weekend, came Papallama's birthday ~a BIG one~ and he celebrated it alone with Grammy with a dinner and date.  His gifts included dry fit shirts to help him as he trains for his first 5K!!  He is running almost 30 minutes now!  If you are a runner, and especially if you aren't, you can appreciate that accomplishment!  Run, Papallama, run!

Tucked in there, too, was Jaybird, who ate Baby Bird's leftover cake and flew under the radar on his birthday.  Enjoy it while you can, Jaybird!

Yesterday, P Buddy was baptized, so he had a celebration, too, as he joined the family of Christ.  He was a trooper and other than trying to stay awake, it was a breeze for him.  Mama at Law, on the other hand, played double duty as she entertained family in attendance and threw a birthday party for PDub who is 4 today! 

Ah, yes, PDub has turned four. For the first time, he understood that he had his own special day though he wasn't completely sure why.  He proudly showed off his Avengers birthday cake and matching table setting and flew through the opening of his presents with super hero power speed!

That then, is where I have been and what I have been up to. Living the life and loving every moment.  Love that expression...

Life is not measured in minutes but moments.  Hope your moments are many, boys~

June 5, 2012

Here She Is...

The cabinet redo is slowing to a crawl and I am left with all the junk that I don't want to keep, but probably shouldn't throw out...or maybe I should...why is it so hard to just let it go?!!  Surely if I haven't used it, looked at it, or been asked for it in all these years, I don't need to keep it!

Like my sewing, please don't look too closely at my painting.  One of the knobs broke during installation and the screw is stuck.  Still trying to figure out how to remove the darn thing. In hindsight, I wish I had removed the doors completely.  In the future, I won't paint anything very large again.  Also, painted furniture chips.  Even with the best of care.  So primer, three coats, and three topcoats later, here is where she stands for now.

May 26, 2012

Repurposing Project

There is a new trend going around where old pieces of furniture are given a new life and purpose...repurposing, they call it. 

Grammy had already repurposed a computer hutch that Papallama built for her one Christmas, but she hadn't fancied it up yet.  This week began the beautification project to transform the hutch into a printer/arts/craft/sewing cabinet.  Let's just call it my PACS-inet. 

As is often always the case with my projects, it was more involved and more expensive than I anticipated.  And I was hoping to follow Papallama's mantra of "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing right."  So I cleaned, I sanded, I primed, I put one coat, I put another coat, and another...

Maybe one of these days I'll finish it.  For now it is drying its third coat.  I am posting a few pictures of it midway to give you an idea of what I'm in the midst of. 

Watching the paint dry~

May 21, 2012

If You Can Read This Warning...

It's probably too late. 

Recently, both Mama Cat and Mama at Law were greeted by signs at the childcare center warning them of the latest outbreak of a contagious disease.  For Mama Cat, it was a warning that several children had contracted Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.  She said that when she dropped Baby Bird off for Mothers' Morning Out, he was the only child there and the smell of bleach had replaced the toys.  The center had taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of this ailment.  Yet six days guessed it...Baby Bird began to break out in the easily distinguishable sores that give HFM its name.  Luckily, he seemed to feel no worse for wear and paid no attention to the sores.  For Mama at Law, the sign read RVS was spreading around the children.  Sure enough, when P Buddy got home that night, he started a coughing spasm.  His doctor later confirmed that he had it during his 'well' check up.  He, too, seems to be in good spirits and mending nicely.

I just visited Baby Bird last week.  His family is having to move after the landlord sold the house they were living in...a year before their lease was up!!  In the midst of it, Baby Bird caught another bug, this time a stomach one, and passed it around to Mama Cat and Jaybird. 

Well, you know the saying...

"What doesn't kill you will make you stronger!"  I know some folks who are much stronger now.  I just wouldn't try to tell them that just yet. 

Ay yi yi~

May 7, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Grammy and her girls
With Mother's Day approaching, I thought I would review a few books on the subject.  When doing a quick search, I ran across Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.  This book, written in 1986 when Mama Cat was just turning two, touched my heart at the time and continues to be a favorite of many.  New mommies are often overwhelmed with the level of love they feel for their baby, and how much that intensifies as the child grows up.  Munsch captures the intensity of the mother-child relationship in a sentimental and simple verse. 

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

But here is what shocked and surprised me, though it shouldn't have.  Munsch wrote this verse after he and his wife experienced not one, but two still births.  On his website, he writes, "The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing."  Then one day it occurred to him that he could write a story around the song, and well, 15,000,000 copies later, I guess he wrote a pretty good story.  My own mother had a still birth baby and her first son died when he was five.  I can tell you that while they were rarely mentioned, they were always present in her life.  To think of her pain and how she shielded us from it touches me still.

Some reviewers criticize the book as creepy.  Afterall, the mommy never seems to be able to let go of her little boy.  Munsch writes stories with lots of humor, and that's how I read it, with his sense of humor in my head.  He is not writing a 'how to' be a mommy book.  He is simply illustrating that we mommies will go to any length for our children and our love knows no boundaries.  Creepy to some, but that is why a mother lion will rip you to shreds, a dog will bite off your hand, and a bird will peck you on your head.  Don't mess with our babies. 

So, on that happy and cautionary note, I wish all the mommies and their babies a very happy Mother's Day! 

A Mommy holds a son's hand for a while, his heart forever.
A mom's hug lasts long after she lets go. ~Author Unknown

But only one mother the wide world over~

April 24, 2012

Change is...

Change is ___________.  How do you fill in that blank?  Do you love it or fear it?  I don't know how you feel about change, but one thing is true.  Change is inevitable, and it happens to all of us. 

My friend, Lisa Ray, and Dede Fischer have just beautifully captured another truth about change in their new book, The Joshua Tree.  No matter what the change might be, God is there every step of the way. 

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

This beautiful book, illustrated by Pamela Walker, uses the Angel Oak as inspiration for the setting, and Pamela has cleverly hidden eight angels inside her drawings throughout the story. 

Set in the surroundings of a beautiful old live oak draped in Spanish moss, the animals of the forest lived a very happy and carefree life.  The tree, who had been there longer than any of them could imagine, was a constant source of wisdom and comfort for them.  Beside this wise old tree ran a mighty river.  Unlike the old tree, the river was constantly changing, and except for an occasional drink, the animals were wary of it.  Life was good.

Then came CHANGE.

A violent thunderstorm strikes and the forest is set ablaze.  They immediately turned to their wise old tree for shelter only to learn that they would have to face the one thing they feared the most...the river.  In her last moments, the tree told the animals about the "One, the Maker and Giver of life, who loved and watched over them always. No matter where they were, He would always be with them."

I won't spoil the rest of the story for you here, but have faith.  It ends well. 

I love this book.  I love the setting, the little animal characters (even the possum) and beautiful drawings. But most of all, I found myself reflecting on my own situation and feeling a wonderful sense of reassurance.  Yes, Grammy fears change.  But I, also, believe the message of the book and Joshua 1:9.  I encourage anyone who thinks they or someone they know might be faced with a change to have this book on their bookshelf or give it as a gift.  You can order it directly from Lisa's website.  I have bought three already and may be ordering more.  You know Grammy.  She loves to give a good book away.

Lisa and I met as fellow teachers in a middle school.  She taught social studies.  I taught in the special education unit.  We underwent a big change together.  We instituted a team teaching concept where we planned classes and shared teaching responsibilities instead of "pulling out" the special ed students for isolated tutoring. Lisa and I made a great team.  More importantly, the model of teaching that we strived to achieve, made a positive impact on the students, and after all, that is what mattered most.   We even trained other teachers in other schools and districts on how they, too, could implement such a model.  I remember Lisa using a little story in our training sessions, where she dubbed herself the "Queen of Routine" prior to changing to team teaching.  She has also authored another book, Once Upon a Time, Y'all - Southern Origin Stories, available at Mast General Store. 

Off to make a change...

April 20, 2012

A Hip Trip

Papallama and Grammy are in their "go-go" years.  It comes just before the "slow go" years that come just before the "no go" years. 
Our latest "go" was to San Francisco and the wine country of California.  Since this blog is dedicated to my boys, bear with me as I write a little travel journal entry for them.  Thinking back thirty or forty years, I realize travel and technology have changed tremendously, so in the future, I am sure their travels will be something we can not even imagine today.

Boys, to get to San Franciso, it takes about 4 1/2 to 5 hours by plane from Charlotte, NC.  But before you even get on the plane, you are taken through a security check where you must remove your shoes, pack liquids in containers under 3oz, and walk through a scanner where you are checked for weapons or explosives.  Why?  Look up 9/11. For some reason, Papallama always gets a thorough inspection.
Caught the early flight out

To pass the time on the plane, it's a great idea to download a movie from iTunes.  You know iTunes.  It's on your Apple iPad. Speaking of Apple, Papallama keeps bemoaning the fact that he never bought stock in the company. Our first computer was an Apple. We loaded programs on it with a cassette player.  What's a cassette player?  Okay, this is birdwalking...back to the trip...

Didn't take long for the iPad to catch PBuddy's attention!
We really acted like tourists on our trip...seeing as how that's what we were.  We wanted to see the major landmarks that we had read or seen whenever San Francisco was mentioned. 

Alcatraz was a famous prison there.  Nicknamed "The Rock", it was supposed to be impossible to escape and the conditions on the island were brutal.  Our tour was one of the highlights of our trip.  When we arrived by boat, we were given an audio tour (headsets with an audio player) and a former prison guard shared many interesting stories and events about this national landmark as he led us around with his narration.  There were two prisoners who escaped and have never been accounted for. Wonder what happened to them?
Even on a sunny day, this would be a miserable place to be.
If Papallama looks scary, imagine a real prisoner!

My favorite day started at the tiny diner, Mama's, for breakfast, followed by a walk up a beautiful street to Coit Tower.  Coit Tower was a gift to the city from wealthy Lillie Hitchcock Coit and built in 1933.  You can really get some spectacular 360 views of the area from there, including Lombard Street, the crookediest street.  Plus, the walls are covered in murals painted by post depression workers, and they are a lesson in the areas history beautifully depicted in art form.  From there, we were lucky to catch a bus to Fisherman's Wharf, where all the tourists wind up sooner or later.  We saw sea lions hanging out at the pier enjoying a little bit of sunshine which we saw very little of while we were there.
Typical San Francisco residential neighborhood
Top of Coit Tower
A very diverse city
The Golden Gate Bridge seems to be visible just about anywhere you are in SF!
Crookedest Street
Just a small sample of the murals!
Sea Lions have taken over the piers.
Coit Tower from Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco has a large population of Chinese, and when you are older, they may even be the majority in that area.  We ate at Hunan's Home in China Town.  It was one of our better meals, especially for the price.
If you look closely, you will see Hunan's Home, a great Chinese restaurant.
Beautiful Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park
You can see the Golden Gate Bridge from lots of vantage points, and it's what most people associate with San Francisco.  It's an engineering marvel for its time and still serves the infrastructure of the area very well.  We crossed it to get to Muir Woods and wine country. 
The bridge is always being painted as rust is it's worst enemy.
The giant redwoods were something I had dreamed of seeing since I had read about them as child.  They were as big and beautiful as I had imagined all these years.  I do believe the whole trip was worth it just to see them and stand in their shade in person.

Where's the top?

My new screen saver
 Wine country included Sonoma and Napa Valley.  Not much of a wine drinker, this wasn't my favorite, but we did travel through pretty rolling hills covered in grape vines.  No wonder...the land sells for $300,000 an acre in Napa Valley.  Grapes are grown and sold there just because of the name and what it signifies to wine makers. 

Wine caves underground are great way to store it as it ages.

Sonoma was a cool little town and we had lunch at Sunflower Cafe.
And we met the Bush Man!  We kept seeing "Have you seen the Bush Man?" on travel brochures, but we had no idea what it was talking about.  Then, as we were walking down the sidewalk in Fisherman's Wharf, a branch of a shrub jumped out at us and growled!!!  Papallama jumped a foot off the ground and said, "Hey, man, you scared me!"  The "Bush Man" makes his living jumping out at poor unsuspecting tourists and yelling, "I made you holler, give me a dollar!"  (No, he didn't get a dollar from Papallama.)

We left San Fran happy for having had the experience. Grammy wants to stay on the east coast for the next trip. Papallama says we may cross the pond.
Cable Car ride is a must in San Fran!

But first, laundry...maybe in thirty years, we won't know what that is!