10 reasons to hang out with a 2 year old child


It's my cooking grandson

It’s my cooking grandson

1.  Most little ones do not want to take time off of their fun day to sleep.

2.  Nature delights them: chirping birds, squirrels, dogs, and cats.
3.  Physical pain is easily healed with hugs and kisses.
4.  As far as they know, fanciful characters on TV are real friends. Example (Thomas the Train).
5.  They can greet you with smiles and hugs.
6.  Running and kicking a ball can put a big smile on their faces.
7.  The finest food is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
8.  A brownie qualifies as a surprise. It’s extra special if they stir the batter.
9.  Playing with a flashlight fascinates them.

10.  As far as they know, the world is a beautiful, friendly and heavenly place.

Why do you like to hang out with your grandchildren or nieces and nephews?

 

 

A lovely California wedding


 May 7 didn’t start out as a usual day. What was different? My husband and I were  going to spend the next few days celebrating our  son’s impending marriage.

When I got off the plane at The Bob Hope Airport in  Burbank, California, the weather wasn’t wedding friendly. It was a drab, cold day. Was this a joke? Isn’t it a rule that the sun is always supposed to shine in California?

So, after rolling our suitcases for at least a mile, (Okay a 1/8 of a mile that seemed like 5 miles), we  rented a car at the airport and headed to Hollywood. My son lives there, and booked us a room at a Best Western “Hollywood Hotel.”

Hundreds of movie stars were permanently residing at this hotel. Unfortunately, most  of them are no longer with us, but their likenesses and autographs were everywhere: the elevator, the bedroom, the hotel walls, and even the bathroom.  Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne are only a few of the featured principals. Millenials wouldn’t have a clue to some of their names. “Fame is fleeting.”

I encountered the other two wedding guests in the hotel lobby, my lovely daughters. ( My son-in-law and grandson could not attend). My mind’s eye flashed back to 1982. I saw myself and three little children going around the neighborhood block; my eldest daughter leading the way,  pedaling her shiny, blue, two-wheeler with training wheels, and her brother and sister in the double stroller. After a few seconds I catapulted back into the 21st century. In front of me I saw three responsible likeable adults.

The next day the family headed toward Santa Barbara, the wedding destination. I thought, how can this be bad when the place and I share the name, Barbara? The place is breathtaking. How can you go wrong with the Pacific Ocean, and mountains, and no honky-tonk; The shopping area is away from the beach and is very quaint.

My son’s  future wife is English and is a woman with good looks and spirit.  With her English accent, she sounds so “proper.”  Many things are “lovely.” During one of our conversations, we learned that people often wear hats to weddings in the UK.

The next day we got up, and went to the shopping district sans the bride and groom. One of my daughters saw a hat shop, and suggested we make it a “proper” English wedding. We happily tried on hats for an hour. I almost bought one of those english hats that they wore to Kate and Will’s wedding, but I figured the royals aren’t going to invite me, so  I settled on an American style  floppy white one.

Finally, the day of the wedding arrived. We arrived at the beach where the wedding was going to take place. It was an idyllic setting.The officiate, wearing an appropriate white blouse and black slacks arrived and told us where to stand.( Nobody minded the cute little dogs walking the beach with their owners.)

As if on cue, the sun decided to shine. It was like an old-fashioned film. (The era before they blew up buildings, people and chased each other in moving cars.)

The officiate earnestly performed the ceremony she’d written, based on the information the bride and groom gave her. She brought up William Shakespeare and his views on marriage. She also acknowledged our long 42-year old marriage. My daughter-in-law picked her parent’s wedding anniversary to marry. What a tribute!

Finally, they exchanged unique rings flown in from Hawaii. They were finally man and wife. The passionate kiss after the pronouncement made it official.

The small intimate wedding they planned together was lovely.

10 things volunteering can do for others and you!


1. There’s nothing like giving to others. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
2. People do need people. Although some animals need help too.
3. Meet other people you wouldn’t ordinarily ever come in contact with.
4. Share your knowledge about something: for example, art, writing, music…
5. Helping older people is a good thing. Some of them are very isolated, and this is not a good way to live. There are many children who need someone too!
6. Put good karma in the universe. ( I’m not sure there is such a thing, but
who knows?)
7. You would be surprised how many people you help will want to pay it forward and help someone else.
8. Maybe learn a new skill while you’re volunteering.
9. Stretch yourself further than you thought was possible.
10. In the process, you will make some good friends.

What have you gotten out of volunteering? Share your experiences and thoughts.

Leaving the grandchild


I’ve been gone from my grandchild for a week. I do miss him terribly.

It reminds me of the first time I left my three children when they were small.
I convinced my husband that we deserved a trip without the children. I had a babysitter I could trust, so I didn’t feel the least bit guilty. Not at first. But, as the week went on, I realized I had a big empty hole in my heart that the children filled.

Later, when they went to camp it was hard too. It did prepare me for the time they would grow up and leave.

Now, it’s been a long time since I had children. Like my mother always told me, “it’s like a dream.”

The Grandchild Brought It All Back
I feel fortunate to experience those feelings again. Naturally, I come in a very far second or third. But, his little smile of appreciation when he sees me brings those memories back. It’s nice to get a little piece of heaven again.

Becoming a granny


DSCN3763It finally happened. After waiting and worrying for months my grandson finally arrived on June 28. Reading my thoughts before his arrival was a bit funny. I wondered what he was going to look like, and if he would come out all right.

He came out just fine. It wasn’t the easiest birth for my daughter, but she made it through with flying colors. His physical looks aren’t much of a surprise because he is the spitting image of my daughter. Okay, he is a boy.  He has the same blue eyes she was born with, and the same cute face. His handsome dad is in there somewhere too.

I saw him right after his birth, and he was looking a little bewildered. I guess we all are when we come into the world for the first time. It was touching watching my daughter and son-in-law’s faces as they looked at their child that first day. Pure love, and in 7 weeks they’ve both turned into great parents.

Me, a grandma? My husband, a grandpa?

At first, I nervously held him. (After all, my youngest adult child is going to be 32 years old.) Now, I’m not afraid; it all came back. Especially that aroma when the child has done his business.

I couldn’t wait to cuddle that little baby and sing to him. He responds too. I love it when he falls asleep on my shoulder while I’m holding him. There’s nothing like it.

My husband is holding him the way he used to hold all three of our kids when they were little.  He sits him up in a funny way, and he talks to him. The child seems to be listening to him too.

My husband and I got into the same talking pattern, and saying the same silly things to the baby. For a moment, we could pretend we were young again, but only for a moment.

I am looking at this from a different perspective. I swear I don’t remember how much time my infants spent sleeping. I guess I was so busy that I didn’t notice how much time it took for them to grow and develop. It’s always a relief when they are sound asleep.

Right now, he’s at the stage where he’s fascinated with staring at light, and he is becoming  a little more engaged. He is even starting to smile.

He is different from my kids because he took his “binky.” That’s what they’re calling pacifiers these days.  My children just spit theirs out. I guess I didn’t have the patience for it. Besides in the olden days our kids slept with blankets. Now, they put them in some kind of swaddling thing.  They also put them on their backs. It’s a good thing because it cuts down on sudden infant death.

This child is very lucky. He’s wanted on both sides of his family. Everyone adores and loves him. That’s how it should be for every newborn. It seems unfair that everyone is not wanted and loved from the first second of life.

So, at seven weeks that’s where I’m at. There’s just something wonderful about a new innocent life. I feel very fortunate that I got to experience it again. I think I’m going to like this granny stuff.

A glimpse at the Harmony Project


I belong to a terrific group, The Harmony Project. We sing, share and serve. Here is a video showing us getting ready for a performance.

This group doesn’t just sit and complain about the way things are; they do things.

This season we’re  planting trees, building a playground, and painting murals. That’s just a few things we’re doing this month!

We are also giving a musical performance May 15 and May 16 at the Southern Theater. You can contact me, or call Capa for tickets.

If you know me, see if you can spot me. I’m in the second row wearing purple glasses and a purple shirt!

As you can see, many of us are from the baby boomer generation, but there are people of all ages, races, and different points of view!

It is very cool. I feel like the baby boomers in this group are still holding onto our ideals. This included, peace, love, happiness, and harmony!

Challenge for the week: Talk to a friendly stranger


Today I did something fun. I sat with a lady I didn’t know at Starbucks. There weren’t any seats and I asked if I could sit next to her.

I mentioned that when I was in Europe years ago, people sat together at tables. I found out that she was going to Germany next week, and originally lived there. She told me that she met her husband during WWII and he was a retired Air force man.  I found out she had a 17-year-old granddaughter, and was going to Europe next week. She talked about growing up in Germany. She told me a little bit about her life.

We started talking about the world situation and the trouble the military men have. Did you know the lower paid service man only make about $31,000 a year? I found out that they go on tour after tour. When they get out, they have to wait for benefits. In the old days they didn’t have to go on so many tours. I found out her husband fought in the first “Desert Storm” and was in Iraq for a year.

We also talked about other topics, and it was such an interesting conversation.  I found out her feelings about gun control. She thought it was important. She also pointed out that in some European  countries there are no guns and there is not as much violence.

It was time for me to go home, and I bid her farewell. It was time well spent.

I would’ve never known anything about this lady if I hadn’t asked if I could sit down.  Maybe she’ll find me in the cyber-world. I did tell her the name of this blog.

We’re all so connected to our phones, and our little worlds. What happened to the art of conversation? Everyone is so plugged into their own little world that we don’t look for opportunities to meet new people and learn new things.

It’s too bad. I think we’ve lost something important.

Talking about soldiers with a stranger.

Talking about soldiers with a stranger.

Challenge for the week: take a chance and introduce yourself to a total stranger. See, if you can broaden your horizons.

You just never know what you’ll find out!

Agree or disagree?

Home for Wayward Birds: A Memoir


Once upon a time, my husband and I ran a boarding house for wayward birds.  It started with my son who was desperate for any kind of pet.  My allergies to dogs, cats and fur, made this impossible. Although I loved my son, I wasn’t prepared to go around with hives, a cough and a runny nose for the duration of his childhood.

When he was about 12, my pet-starved son, came home with a little finch in a bird-cage. “Alicia’s father can’t keep this bird. He’s going to have to stick a knife through its neck and kill it.” My son, who rarely cried, was sobbing. What could I do? I gave in. It was a pretty little bird. What harm was it going to do?  (I didn’t personally know Alicia’s father, but I doubted that he was capable of sticking a knife in the bird’s throat.)

We put the little cage in our family room,  and Pearl (later renamed Tweety) became our first guest at our birdie boarding house.

A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niaga...

A pair of Zebra finches at Bird Kingdom, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The finch looked happy enough to me, but my husband thought she could use a boyfriend. So, he went out and bought another bird, (named Sylvester) to keep Tweety company. My son was quite happy with this whole arrangement.  It wasn’t a dog, but at least we cared enough about him to get him another living creature. My two daughters weren’t as thrilled as the rest of us about the birds. They were a little messy with their seeds. They could be noisy at times.

My husband would sometimes let the finches out of their cages, and they would fly around the house. We did this when the kids were at camp. Maybe we missed them. I knew it wasn’t the best idea, but I did think a cage might be a sad place to live. I’m all for freedom. (I didn’t even like keeping my toddlers in playpens).

The finches liked to sit on top of the family room vertical blinds and look down at us. I also noticed that they chirped when we played music.  The birds were pretty happy by themselves for a while. Although we didn’t have much of a relationship, they kept us company. It didn’t cost much to feed them.

The Parakeets Arrive

Parakeets and their young!

Parakeets and their young!

When my son entered middle school, he brought home a parakeet for the weekend. It seemed a lot more interesting than the finches. It was bigger and prettier.  I heard parakeets could talk, so I thought that might be fun.  (Little did I know that this creature, (Clark)  would never utter one word to me for the duration of his long life.)

Summer came, and the bird suddenly became homeless.  Nobody  in the class wanted it, except for my son. So, we adopted the parakeet. My husband became busy making it a large inventive cage that he cleverly built into our family room.  He made the bird  some really unique perches out of wood.  The parakeet  was quite happy hopping from perch to perch in the nice big spacious cage. He longingly looked at the finches, but they weren’t the least bit interested in him.

We thought the parakeet was a male. So, we got it another male to keep it company. Pretty soon we figured out that we had purchased Lois to go along with Clark.  We could tell this because of Clark’s behavior toward Lois. He ruffled her feathers.

Just for fun, we got them a wooden nesting box. Lois went in there to lay eggs. These birds were quite fertile and before we knew it, other little birds came into the cage.  It was interesting watching these birds build nests, sit on the eggs and watch the little birds hatch. The parents dutifully fed their young.  We supplied some materials to make the nests, and they all did a fine job. The father sometimes sat on the eggs, so the mother could get some seeds . It was a beautiful thing to watch, an equal partnership.

It was exciting to wait for the little birds to hatch. The little birds looked like worms when they were born. It was fun to watch them develop. Once in a while, we’d hold one. Life, on any level, is fun and exciting to watch.

It was funny how the baby birds held their mouths wide open while awaiting their food. The mother ate it first, then gave it to the baby birds.  Pretty soon, the baby bird’s feathers were as pretty as their parents. It was pretty funny to watch them learn to sit on the perches. It took a little doing. (kind of like a human learning to walk.)

After the little birds were big enough and could sit on those perches by themselves, the mother didn’t want another thing to do with them.  As a matter of fact, the parents forgot it was their baby. I thought that was a good lesson for human beings. When the kids grow up, stop coddling them. They are on their own!

We didn’t want the finches to feel left out, so we got them a nesting box too. We had a couple of extra finches come into our birdie boarding house.  Their nests were just as intricate and fancy. The tiny finches were adorable.

The birds believed in a definite routine. They ate in order, and went to sleep on the perches in order.  The best part was listening to them react to music. They all tweeted away. (The real kind of tweeting.)   It was sweet and nice.

My daughters were embarrassed about the whole thing. They just thought it was a little abnormal. I sometimes complained too. It got a little too much. There were a lot of birds (10-12) and they seemed to take over part of the family room. They made quite a racket when they talked to each other. Most of the time they just sat there, and looked at us.

I used to put my Kathy Smith workout on my DVD player on my TV,  and they’d sit and politely watch. They seemed to enjoy the whole thing. They tweeted to  Beethoven and Mozart music. The birds in our birdie boarding house had excellent taste in music.

Once they were grown-up, the birds didn’t fly on our shoulders, or want to be held. They definitely stuck to their own kind. Birds of a feather really do stick together. We tried putting the finches and parakeets together once or twice, but that wasn’t going to work. The parakeets wanted to kill the finches.

The birds lasted for around 10 or 11 years. Eventually, one bird after another would get inactive, and then pass away.  (We’d find them on the bottom of the cage). My husband would  say a prayer for each bird before he’d bury them in the backyard. They deserved a little dignity. After all, they’d been a member of our birdie boarding house.  I’d attend each funeral. One day we agreed to put the nesting box away.

When the last bird, a finch,  died my husband and I were both sad. By then, the kids had all left home.  We were finally alone. It was like we’d never had kids or a flock of birds living in our family room. He took down the cage, and the family room was no longer a bird sanctuary.

Sometimes I think we should just get one little bird to keep us company. Maybe we’d finally get one to talk, or fly onto our shoulders.  But, for some reason, it’s just like the kids. When they flew the coop, we just got used to the silence.

.