Conversations with Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top

Superman has the habit of helping calm down the midgets at bedtime. He waits til the storms are over and then goes down to their “home” and spends time with each child, talking and praying for their needs.

Papa is a very special man, and I am blessed to be able to say HE IS MINE. Today we celebrate 33 years of belonging officially to each other. I think I got the better side of the blessing, and believe me when I say HE has been the one who has loved me through it all…and that ALL has been a lot over the years.

Back to the present…

Curly Top OWNS Papa. Not that we all don’t, but she has a very special position in the family…and we ALL know it.


When Papa went downstairs, Curly Top was contorted upside down, feet up the wall…wiggling around and Papa sat down. Now this child is named Curly Top for a reason, and she loves to suck her thumb and twirl a curl into a knot. To her mama’s great frustration! So as Papa sat down, she took her thumb out and said to Papa:

Here Papa, my hair is tangled.”

“Do you want me to untangle it?”(as she pulled it around for Papa to reach. It took all of his skill from untangling fish nets to have success, and by that point she was almost asleep.

As soon as he finished the tangle, she sleepily pulled out another knot and said, “Here Papa, another one…”

So Papa untangled the second knot, and by the time he finished, that precious little girl was asleep.

Papa kissed her good night and moved on to the next bed…

Meeting the Ocean

Meeting the Ocean

It was Papa’s turn to talk with Froglegs…whose heart’s desire is to have a real dad. {I just cannot believe a man (questionable that he qualifies as a man based on his behavior) would abandon these bundles of love and joy.}

Papa, I really wish I had a dad. But I don’t have one. But you’re kind of like my dad. And Nana is kinda like…my UNCLE!

Okay…is being an uncle a GOOD thing if you are a Nana??? My head is cocked to the side and I am wearing a very puzzled expression, even now as I think about it.

But the conversations continued as Papa moved on to the next bed…occupied by Dancing Eyes…

Those eyes...

Those eyes…

“Papa, I watched this movie all about Noah today! There was this big, big, big, big, BIG whale! God made the whale eat Jonah (ok…probably the movie was about Jonah and not Noah). Then Jesus told the whale to spit out Noah. (yep…definitely mixing the names up a bit).

Oh, you mean Jonah?

Man, I always get those two mixed up.

But the conversation with Dancing Eyes continued onto several other topics…the boy was full of the need to share his many thoughts…at bedtime. Before Papa prayed with this delightful boy, he asked what things made him thankful?

What’s that song? Oh yeah…(and he started singing … perfectly in tune)

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is STRONG.

Yes, Jesus loves ME! Yes, Jesus loves ME! Yes, Jesus loves ME! The Bible tells me so!!!

At which point, he jumped up and pointed to the map of the world hanging on the wall…

I know where WE live (pointing to the exact spot on the map, in the near darkness).

Papa, where do Jessica and Eric live (our neighbors who live two doors away)?

I would imagine that he will learn about maps as he gets older, but Papa got a sweet chuckle out of that conversation.

Little Dancing Eyes has a habit of needing to have total seclusion in the bathroom. Door locked, stripped to the skin head to toe…not quite sure why, but what we hear through the door is amazing…he composes original music with lyrics.

It is like listening to what is in his heart put to music…how much he loves his mommy, his friends and family, but more importantly, how much JESUS loves all of them. He sings his little heart out…all behind the locked bathroom door. (I really need to capture some of these songs before he quits…). His mommy used to “compose” songs exactly like this…that was how she put us all to sleep at night…night owl that she was and still is!

We have learned a lot about parenting as we have grand-parented our four grandchildren. Little Mini Mohawk lives so far away that we don’t get as many opportunities to physically share in his life like we do with the ones who live downstairs…but all of them are the beneficiaries of what we have learned and how we have grown through the years.

We are so blessed!

Dancing Eyes, Froglegs with Mini Mohawk, Curly Top

Dancing Eyes, Froglegs with Mini Mohawk, Curly Top


Hula Hoop Hugs

I never got the hang of the hula hoop. I just couldn’t get my body to figure out when to go left and when to go right. It was actually more of a hazard for me than a jump rope…and if you think about all the ways jumping rope can go wrong…

But the other day I was speaking with my mom. Our little buddy, Froglegs, was having a little sadness in his heart and we couldn’t fix it. He is one of the thousands of children whose “father” can’t be bothered to care for him. And somehow, it is especially hard at the beginning of the school year.

Imagine wanting to be in Cub Scouts without a dad? Or signing up for soccer and no dad to help you practice and cheer for you? What about when you play baseball and you have to play with your “papa” who can’t run as fast anymore?

All those father-son activities are hard enough, but then…where is that “father” when you have serious questions like “Why aren’t you a good dad?” or “Don’t you love me?” or “Why don’t you ever call me?” or “Why did you move so far away from me?”

You see, my little Froglegs has a very tender heart. His little heart has been bloodied far too many times by this man who doesn’t deserve the title of “father.” And my little buddy asks the tough questions and demands honest answers. He can smell a lie or a shifty answer before we can.

So, as my mother and I were talking about the little broken-hearted boy, my mother said, “You give him a special hula hoop hug from his great Nana!”

“A hula hoop hug?” I asked.

“Yes. My arms would wrap around him just like a hula hoop circle.”

I thought about that. A hula hoop hug. That was the best description I could think of to remind that little boy how much we all love him. That no matter who was failing him, he could count on our love wrapping all the way around him.

But then I realized that, in a way, our promise of forever being there is really not true. We are older. We have health problems. Our lives, in reality, are frail and subject to disease and death.

While I cannot promise that we will always be here to offer hula hoop hugs, I CAN promise a greater love, a more steadfast love that will never, ever fail my little Froglegs. There is only one who can offer that eternal love, our Savior.

He promises that He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He is the Father to the fatherless and the husband to the widow. He is the Friend who is closer than a brother. That Gentle Shepherd and paschal Lamb. And His love is even better than a hula hoop hug.

1 John 3:1-3

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

3 Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. Our heredity on the Godward side is no mere figure of speech—which explains why the world will no more recognise us than it recognised Christ.

Oh, dear children of mine (forgive the affection of an old man!), have you realised it? Here and now we are God’s children. We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, if reality were to break through, we should reflect his likeness, for we should see him as he really is!

Everyone who has at heart a hope like that keeps himself pure, for he knows how pure Christ is.

Dancing Eyes, Froglegs-Toothless in St. Louis and Papa

After what seemed like an eternity, Papa arrived home safely late last night. After spending the last two days becoming intimately acquainted with the Sea-Tac airport, the ins and outs of flying stand-by, and the challenges of eating on a budget while stuck in a place that is known for gouging its patrons, he arrived safe and sound just before midnight.

I let out a sigh heard around the world when I saw him walk through the door. Relief.

The little people were all sleeping, so they didn’t know for sure if he was home when they awakened this morning. One by one they came up the stairs. I guided them  to the front door where they could look out and see Papa watering the garden.

Dancing Eyes was first. “Papa’s home?” he asked, softly.

He then went out the door and into Papa’s outstretched arms.

After a few minutes, the child formerly known as Sean, came up the stairs. {I realized a few weeks ago that this sweet boy did not have an official alias yet for my blog. How unfair! So…he has two, based on his developmentally appropriate statuses–frog legs and toothless in St. Louis. :)}

He went straight out the door, to be enveloped in some long, outstretched arms. There was Papa, holding two still sleepy, but very contented little boys.

Safe Haven

So, our world is turned right side up. And humor has rejoined my space in this universe.

Froglegs aka Toothless in St. Louis came inside and stood, looking out the door.

“Nana, I still recognized him. I did.”

Apparently, Papa was gone so long…


Sigh. I’m bored. It’s too hot to work in the yard. It’s too hot to play outside with the little guys. The several hours of watching the crews repave our street is over and done with in less than a day. Trash trucks won’t be around until Thursday.



Big sigh.

Waiting on the counter tops to be installed, so no progress to be made in the kitchen.


I have a bad case of the summer doldrums. And I miss my sweet little guy so much!

isn’t he the sweetest little thing?

Sigh. I want a few more little hugs and snuggles. I hate being so far away.

Sigh. I’m so bored. And sad. I think it’s time to move.

Psyching Myself

We are getting ready to take a mini-vacation. Not really sure vacation is the appropriate word, but nonetheless, we are driving to the Twin Cities to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby {not necessarily in that order 🙂 }. The normal driving time for my husband and me is about 9 hours. We don’t stop too much, and when driving through the heart of Iowa, there isn’t much to look at but farm fields. They are very pleasant, but after awhile…well a cow or horses would be a welcome change of scenery.

THIS time, our daughter and her three cherubs will be driving with us. I am already bracing myself for the dialogue along the way. (Are we there yet…I’m hungry…I’m bored…She’s annoying me…) We won’t be leaving until later in the day, so everyone will be awake. Wide awake. And Curly Top is potty training. Glory. I think we will need to stop more than midway through the drive. Ugh.

So you can appreciate why I am preparing myself in advance. But you know what is a tremendous motivator for me? When we arrive, I get to see…

Janielle, Ben and little Isaiah

Don’t you think this is a good reason to drive for nine hours with crazy little people complaining, laughing, sleeping, annoying, fighting, singing, screeching and whatever else they will do in the car?

Or maybe this will be good enough…

my sweet daughter and her baby

Or maybe this???

little man so sweet

Or maybe this one?

such innocence and trust in those eyes

Or certainly this is…

jolly sweetness

I am preparing everyone for the fact that I will be holding my little guy the entire time we are in Minneapolis. I miss them all so much, but I don’t think Janielle or Ben want me to hold them. And I don’t think my back could take it anyway. So I will be enjoying some nana time with Isaiah. And I don’t plan to share.

So I am going to soak up all that sweet innocence as much as I can…and when the going gets rough on the way to Minnesota, I will just remind myself of the sweetness that awaits. And I am investing in a great pair of ear plugs. I haven’t figured out the motivation for the return trip yet…I am open to suggestions.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Nana!

So it’s likely to be an interesting day when it starts with a conversation like this:

“Vida, do not hit,” said in my kind but stern voice.

The reply caught me off guard. “Rock, paper, scissors, Nana!” said the crazy but adorable little curly top.

I have been parenting and raising mine and others’ children for a very long time. But this was definitely a first for me. Was I supposed to make a choice? Hmmmm, what might those choices look like to a crazy granddaughter like mine?

Rock. Hit him with a rock?

Paper. I got nothing.

Scissors. Cut him? Cut his hair? Cut her own hair? Cut paper? I don’t know. It was only about 7:45 AM when this discussion ensued. I have to admit, I am still confused.

But she DID quit hitting, so I guess I won that battle? I’m not quite sure yet.

I guess time will tell…yes, tell a crazy story about a crazy little girl with curly hair and big brown eyes and a button nose.

The Mini-Remodel Could Just Kill Me

We are in the middle of a mini-kitchen remodel. I hesitate to use the word “mini” because the room has been stripped down to the studs and subfloor. The cabinets are not being replaced. Well…even that isn’t really true. Let me explain…

A few months back I blogged about needing a wall to come down so that I could see from the kitchen into the living room. In order to accomplish that, we had to remove upper cabinets and shuffle the layout. So…we removed two upper cabinets, moved some of the base cabinets, are shifting the dishwasher, stove and microwave as well as moving the refrigerator. This allows for a peninsula with room for eating. Woo hoo! It more importantly has opened up a “window” about five feet wide that has totally transformed the house. (My husband suggests putting a mat down on the opening so that I can take naps while keeping an eye on things. Ummm, no, I don’t think so.)

Check out some of these shots…


beginning to see the light of day…

Sean helps remove the old tile

Dancing Eyes gets into the action

New tile almost done…

Since these photos were shot, the floor has been fully tiled, grouted, sealed. Phew. A few outlets were relocated. Phew. The studs have been removed. Phew. The ductwork has also been relocated. Phew.

BUT…I have no sink. Well…I have a sink. I DON’T have a CONNECTED sink. Or stove. Or dishwasher. My dining room is like an eat in kitchen with only a functioning refrigerator. My bathroom is doubling as my dishwasher. Don’t think too hard about that one. I am disinfecting constantly.

I came close to complaining over the weekend. It was starting to get to me…but with three weeks of laundry piled up, I felt a little overwhelmed. A contributor to my sense of whelming over could have also included the fact that bedrooms were being shifted around to better accommodate the kids and the guinea pigs and assorted junque.

But…it’s Monday, and I have regained a portion of my sanity. The laundry is done. Dishes are caught up. First layer of drywall dust is cleaned up. Kids are happy in their new room and on their new bunk bed WITH SLIDE. The guinea piggies are getting their cage cleaned. And I don’t have a headache. I am not dying. I have not killed anyone, and my husband still loves me and has not given up on the mini-makeover. Phew.


P.S. My husband informed me that I complained on and off all weekend. He credits that to the headache. Hmmmm…