Archive for the ‘Life and Family’ category

Behind the Scene Superheroes

October 1, 2020

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, each day is a challenge for numerous reasons. As a retired educator and grandparent to three active girls, I worry about the education of our young children.

How often have we heard that too much screen time is not healthy for our children? Quality versus quantity does make a difference, but how much should a five-year-old be exposed to the screen in a remote school versus an in-school learning situation? What about socialization?

Parents have a huge job – working, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and creating a healthy family environment. With the arrival of the pandemic, a new job has been added to the family dynamics – teaching. Along came the need for remote learning workspaces, guidance to keep young children on task, and help with completing assigned work. Because of social distancing on buses, some parents now have to get their kids to and from school on in-school days.

At-home Projects
Workspaces
Lunches
Backpacks and Masks
Drop Off/Pick Up

I’ve seen my daughter and son-in-law stressed not only with work but also by the new rules for my twin granddaughters’ kindergarten in the hybrid learning situation. I’ve seen my youngest granddaughter thrilled to go back to preschool only to have it closed until further notice because a teacher was exposed to COVID-19. I’ve seen the endless emails that pop up daily that parents must read and follow.

My twin granddaughters are in two different kindergarten classrooms. That means double emails Other parents with children in different schools have different rules and different starting times. The list is endless. It takes a superhero to handle it all!

Our superheroes are parents, extended family, and teachers who have families of their own to deal with. I want to applaud all those who strive to help children to be the best they can be – especially during this pandemic. All is not well with the world right now, but with hope, our superheroes will make the world a better place for our children!

Postscript:

Please don’t ask me how my granddaughters and I fared on the first day of remote learning. I think I flunked kindergarten!

Be gone COVID-19! Let the school doors open and stay open – full time.

A Race to the Finish Line

September 17, 2020

As of September tenth, my summer blog break ended with a review of Janet Halfmann’s A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch! The week before that I popped in early with a review of Artie Bennett’s The True Story of Zippy Chippy:  The Little Horse that Couldn’t to coincide with the  Kentucky Derby the following Saturday. Artie Bennett’s book was a perfect segue into the Kentucky Derby Party hosted by my daughter. Originally, it was for her colleagues, but it was postponed when COVID-19 changed the normalcy of our lives.

When the derby was moved to Labor Day Weekend, my daughter decided to have the party she had planned, keeping the invitees within her bubble. That meant her immediate family and Mimi and Poppy. That’s what my husband and I are called.

Enter the Derby Hall – Hats and Bow Ties of Your Choice

Even Doris Chose Her Hat

We usually stay one night when we visit, but because it was also Labor Day Weekend, we stayed three nights. It’s a good thing Ben Franklin wasn’t there to remind us that “fish and visitors stink after three days.”

We didn’t stink like fish. It was more like Kentucky bourbon! Almost every recipe had bourbon in it. We had a wonderful weekend filled with fun and food all planned and made by my daughter with a little help from my granddaughters and me. Derby Day was fabulous! It was a perfect day to relax and escape the worries the world has handed us.

Food for All

A recent birthday made me another year older. 2020 has not been my most favorite year, but I am thankful for my family bubble and our Zoom meetings with other family and friends spread across the country. I hope that a viable vaccine is found soon for everyone’s sake. My wish is that we all learn to live, love, and support one another and make our race to the finish line a success!

Summer Blog Break

July 30, 2020

It’s that time of year!

I interrupt this blog for breaking news. “Humor Me” is taking a summer blog break to relax and celebrate August birthdays and anniversaries. Look for the next post on September 10th when this blog returns to inform and entertain the masses!

Summer Blog Break

Keep on reading!

Family Life With COVID-19

May 21, 2020

I’ve added many new words and phrases to my vocabulary in the last few months.

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Flattening the Curve, Community Spread, Stay-At-Home Advisory, Safer at Home, Social Distancing, the New Normal…

These are not words or phrases I choose to make a part of my everyday conversation. I’m tired of hearing them.

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My husband and I follow the rules and do what we need do to keep healthy — Clorox® Wipes and masks are new items in our household. I’d love to have color-coordinated masks like Nancy Pelosi wears, but my COVID outfit is old blue jeans. I guess my masks would always have some hue of blue. Never mind.

The whole pandemic is so overwhelming and exhausting! After three months of being cooped up with each other, away from our family, friends, and people in general, my husband and I decided it was time to see our daughter, son-in-law, and three little granddaughters. We loaded up my van with Easter gifts, Mother’s Day gifts, a Father’s Day wheelbarrow, gardening tools and equipment, plants, and, yes — toilet paper.

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Off we went, making sure we drove safely, kept our vehicle distance, and stayed away from the crazies on the road. I texted my daughter to tell her we were almost there. As we drove up the driveway, this is what we saw.

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Our sweet family was in the front yard waving to us. A beautiful sight to behold! We kept our social distance, blew kisses from behind our masks and gave everyone long-distance hugs. We unpacked the van and then were ushered into the living room which was gated off from the family room. Besides the gifts we had, I also brought some books to read to the girls who were eager to hear them.

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Notice the Clorox® wipes and mask next to me and the two four-year-olds in front of me. The two-year-old wanted to cross the boundary line and come and sit with me. When I told her she couldn’t, she put on her oh-so-cute Shirley Temple pout and disappeared.

We had conversations, snacks, and exchanged long overdue gifts — goodies for the girls and a book of Family Holiday Traditons I have been working on for my daughter — plus that wheelbarrow for Father’s Day.

 Specially made gifts for us…

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A masterpiece for our refrigerator.

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A teacup fairy garden made by my daughter and all the girls, using natural materials found in their yard.

When it was time to go, we once again blew kisses from behind our masks and gave everyone long-distance hugs. We got into our empty van. A couple of tears slipped down my cheeks as we headed home. Okay, it was more than a couple of tears. Where are the tissues when you need them? If this is the new normal, I don’t like it one bit!

I look forward to better days when we can breathe in fresh air without masks strapped across our faces. More importantly, I want to be able to reach out and touch someone without being afraid of contracting or passing along a deadly virus. I want to freely hug, kiss, and cuddle my loved ones once again!

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A New Home for the Holiday

January 2, 2020

My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” ~Forrest Gump

Truer words were never spoken. This year instead of hosting Christmas festivities, my daughter, her husband, and their three daughters hosted us and my son-in-law’s family – his mother, two brothers/wives and a two-year-old. For three days there were thirteen people—nine adults, two two-year-olds, and two four-year-olds—walking, running, jumping, and tumbling around my daughter and son-in-law’s home.

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On Christmas Eve we celebrated an updated Slovak meal – Oplatky (a traditional Christmas wafer), oyster stew (a New England addition), Grandma’s Katie’s fried fish, coleslaw, French fries, and Christmas cookies.

Christmas Day brought Santa gifts, a gift-wrapping mess, and some wild and crazy little ones!

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The afternoon was spent preparing for Christmas dinner, taking naps, and quiet reading time for the non-nappers.

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The dining table was readied. No kid’s table allowed. Everyone had a place at the big table set with Christmas china, shiny silverware, and red and green cloth napkins, a beautiful centerpiece, and one more surprise gift that acted as a place card.

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Dinnertime is what our family calls the “witching hour” for the little ones. Usually, no one is happy with anything. My husband and I hoped for the best as we all gathered around the table. Dinner began with a prayer said by the grandchildren. We clinked our glasses, shared delicious food, talked about our favorite part of the day, and laughed. As I looked around the table, I saw the joy of a family gathering together, and not one child asked to be excused from the table early. It was a Christmas miracle!

Behold the happy family!

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Don’t look for us there. My husband and I had returned to our home to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Christmas season!

I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020!

 

 

 

Music to My Ears

October 24, 2019

I love a piano,
love a piano
I love to hear somebody play
Upon a piano, a grand piano
It simply carries me away

~From Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano”

I’ve always loved music – especially piano music. The downside of my love of music is I can’t carry a tune, and I never learned to play the piano well. The upside is our daughter has a talent for playing the piano.

This past Monday, our beloved piano that had a special place in our home for twenty-seven years moved out of our house and into our daughter’s new home.

Old Home

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The downside of giving the piano to our daughter is a big empty space in our great room. The upside is the piano will once again have loving hands that will make it sing.

New Home

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I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing our granddaughters follow their mother’s musical talent and learn to create sounds that will be music to my ears.

This book will put a song in your heart and be music to your ears when you read it.

bear and piano

The Bear and the Piano written and illustrated by David Litchfield is a captivating story of a bear cub who finds a piano. Over the years, he learns how to play the piano and charms his woodland friends with his music. One day a man and his daughter hear the bear playing and invite him to come to the big city. The bear had always dreamed of learning more about music and “to play bigger and better than before.” He finds leaving behind his forest friends is difficult, but the city calls to him. The bear becomes a famous pianist, winning awards and playing for crowds who give him standing ovations. But one day he realizes with all that he has accomplished, there is something missing. David Litchfield has written and beautifully illustrated this touching tale of fame and lasting friendship. It’s a must-read book.

The Power of Reading Books Together

July 18, 2019

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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One of my favorite books is Anne of Green Gables. Anne Shirley, the main character in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel, immediately captures the heart and soul of readers. She is an orphan with an enormous imagination and a vocabulary to match. She has a quick temper and a tendency to blurt out the first thing she thinks. But what Anne Shirley wants most is to find a loving home and a best friend – a kindred spirit. All of these characteristics make her an interesting character and an endearing heroine.

When my daughter was younger, I read this and some of my other favorite classic books to her. It was a wonderful time to bond through reading. Her love of Anne’s story led to a fabulous family vacation on Prince Edward Island where we relived Anne’s story.

Gables

Recently, my daughter gifted me with the picture book, Goodnight, Anne written by Kallie George and illustrated by Geneviève Godbout. It’s inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. This is a sweet, heart-warming goodnight story. When Marilla tells Anne it’s time to go to bed, Anne thanks all the people, places, and things in her life that she loves. Geneviève Godbout’s illustrations done in pastels and colored pencils are whimsical and calming as a goodnight book should be. This gift was a delightful treat!

My daughter’ inscription said:  …for instilling creativity, imagination, and the happiest of memories…

It is a reminder of how powerful books and reading are when you share them with someone — especially someone you love!

 

Moving Day!

March 28, 2019

While his people move out, Eeyore has a temporary home of his own.

 

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“I might have known. After all, one can’t complain. Not much of a house, just right for not much of a donkey. I’d say thistles, but nobody listens to me, anyway.”  ~Eeyore

 

If you love Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends as much as our family does, check out this book that contains the original stories!

Winnie-the-Pooh written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shephard, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017.

 

Christmas Chaos

December 13, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

Actually, it’s beautiful and sunny, but the atmosphere inside is frightful.

I’m behind in my Christmas prep. This is not my normal self. I’m usually on top of things.

It’s time to make my list and check it twice.

“Deck the Halls!”

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Done!

I’m Dreaming of a “White Christmas” with every Christmas card I write!

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Done!

Christmas Cookies – Wh-a-a-a-t?

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Recipes – waiting patiently!

Presents – That’s Santa’s job!

Wrapping –  Can’t wrap without presents!

What else?

Laundry baskets full of dirty clothes.

Dust bunnies hopping in every nook and cranny of the house.

Grocery shopping – the cupboards are bare.

There is chaos in our household. Guests invited weeks ago are expected for Saturday dinner. Family will be here on Sunday –  because there’s “No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”

I keep telling myself, baby steps. Oh, oh, those baby steps remind me of the three sweet girls coming on Sunday. Curiosity will get the best of them. That means to get ready for the “Jingle Bell Rock” and roll of the Christmas tree.

All of this is making me a crazy woman. If I keep this up, “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas!”

“Breathe in…breathe out,” says my husband. “You can do it.” And then he points to the tree in our backyard that he decorated with me in mind. His heart lights up my life!

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Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

 

 

 

The Simple Pleasures of a Birthday

September 13, 2018

Tuesday was my birthday. My husband bought me flowers, an ice cream cake, and took me to lunch. Simple but so enjoyable.

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Lunch in Portsmouth Harbor

When I was young, every year on my birthday I wished for a pony. I never got one. Now that I’m older I understand why that wish was never granted. A horse is too big to wrap. There wasn’t enough room in a bedroom shared with my two other sisters. And a horse is definitely not a house-friendly pet when you live in a city.

While growing up, our family birthdays were never extravagant, but they were always memorable.

Birthday wishes began in the morning from my mother, father, and siblings and ended with a special homemade birthday dinner of my choice. The pièce de résistance was Angel Pie. It’s a cherished family recipe that I requested for my birthday every year. Chocolate perfection made with my mother’s magic touch!

Then there was the year our oh-so-fun next-door neighbors brought over a watermelon half with birthday candles stuck in it.

There were always cards from family and friends lined up for me to enjoy.

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Tuesday’s Flowers and Cards

On my 16th birthday, my mother prepared a party luncheon that included fresh flowers, silver, china, a delicious main dish, and Angel Pie for dessert.

On my 21st birthday, my parents took my best friend and me to a nice restaurant where we celebrated our September birthdays with champagne.

When I went away to college, my father made sure a proper birthday wish was always there for me. In the early morning hours of my birthday, and that meant in the middle of the night, he would call to be the first to wish me a happy birthday. He never ever missed a year.

The year my father passed away, I realized how much I would miss those obnoxious early-morning birthday calls. Then sometime in the middle of the night on my birthday that year, my phone rang. Being in a sleepy daze, I imagined it was a call from my father in heaven. On the other end of the phone was not my father’s voice but the voice of my daughter saying, “I’m calling to wish you a happy birthday, just like grandpa always did.” Ah, the pleasures of having a wonderful, thoughtful daughter!

At 1:32 am on Tuesday of this week, my phone rang. It was my daughter calling to say happy birthday. She is insistent on keeping up the tradition that she knows means so much to me – no matter how annoying!

It’s the simple pleasures of life that bring you happiness.

Cake anyone?

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It’s not Angel Pie but ice cream cake will do!

 


Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50

Navigating the second half of my life

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children

Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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