PART ONE…Thanksgiving Day…

Thanksgiving Day in our family is full of good food, wonderful family, and furious decorating!  We always have lunch at Pop’s with Joy in charge of the kitchen.  Due to the effects of the past few weeks, we had a lot catered this year, and paper plates were in order.  It was delicious!  Our Birmingham Boy, Ian, came bearing two delightful deserts…one made by his own hand!  Yummy!

While Lori slaved cleaning up the kitchen, all by herself, with a joyous attitude, Tara, Joy, Suzanne, Ian and I were busy seeing to the decorating of Pop’s house.   It has been our tradition since Mom moved to Heaven to spend the hours after Thanksgiving dinner getting Pop’s house into a Christmas mood.  Ian made 65 trips into the attic since he was the only male with young enough legs and strong enough arms to tackle the job.  The other men were all a ‘few’ years his elder. His 3 peers were needed elsewhere…. onewas urgently needed to help control the deer population…out in the wilds of Abbeville.  One was needed to sew and patch and transfer those who chose Thanksgiving and big sales as their clue to begin partying And, the last one was helping watch the youngest of the male members of our clan as they were showing their mad skills to each other and their grandfathers on various athletic equipment consisting of 2, 3, or 4 wheels!  (But, if you notice, in the pics below, one of the little boys has a busted lip, chipped tooth and skinned nose…Way to Watch, guys!)

After we finally got the tree fluffed, and plugged in, we set about finding and hanging the 586 ornaments Mother had on her ‘family tree’.  She also had a ‘Fancy Nancy tree’ elsewhere in the house, but the family tree has every single ornament any of her children or 5 grandchildren had ever made, or that anyone had given her.  Oh, my!  So many…and every one of them dear to her and Pop’s heart.  We did away with the fancy tree, but still put this one up right in the den where he sees it.  If Mother decorated something in years past…it must still be decorated now, according to our patriarch.  Oh, and it makes him so happy to know she would be so happy to see it still done so.  This means that 6 wreaths get hung, 3 light posts get adorned, arrangements on a dining room table, a kitchen table,  the island, and two tables in the hall.  AND the old ceramic tree with those tiny plastic bulbs that is as old as I, am goes in Pop’s study.  We had fun, as we always do when we are together.  Even Lori’s grumbling about people still using forks and glasses couldn’t stop our fun!  (just kidding…well not really, but she did say it with a smile in her eyes!)

Someone may or may not have fallen off a step stool, onto a 3 foot tree lying on the couch and continued rolling until he/she hit the floor.  And, the little tree may have been permanently altered.  However, it sits proudly in its spot…propped up by 2 books that are hidden by some burlap around the base…looking to all the world as if it is intended to be that way.  There can be beauty in the broken.  Mom would be so proud!

Anyway, back to the purpose of my post today.  John Thomas and Levi were so excited at the prospect of having another tree to decorate!  Oh, the ornaments were shiny and bright and wherever they put them was perfection!  John Thomas called the right to put up the star, with Uncle Ian’s help.

Let me just interject this observation.  John Thomas is most cooperative and gracious to anyone who may even think they want to make his picture.  He waits.  He poses.  He makes the most adorable smiles that make you just want to pitch his little cheeks!  In fact he wants to be in every picture made!

Sweet Levi, on the other hand, does not have the patience nor the ‘want to’ to smile sweetly for just a quick second while you try and catch a cute picture.  Pose?  Are you kidding?  You have to sneak around and usually the best I can do is get something from the side.  If you ever do get him from the front…his eyes are looking around furiously to see what he can do the minute he is released.  They are NEVER looking at the camera!!!  (Unless he is being threatened by someone whom he knows really means it!)  I always take 10 or 25 pictures of him in hopes of getting a good one!











You can not imagine what it took to get a good one of these 3 below…







Spot the difference in the two little boys?  God love ‘em both!

All kidding aside, with this tradition, we honor the sweet memory of our Mother and Granny and take great pleasure in making the house as festive as she did, knowing what pleasure it gives to Pop.  And, he is so gracious and appreciative.


PART TWO…The Day After…

I ask for trouble.  I know it’s true.  Don’t mean to…but it happens.

Last year John Thomas was visiting me and asked me if we could paint a Christmas tree.  I told him that I did not have one but I would look around and see what I could do.  Well, things happened and people happened and life happened…and I did not get to carry out my plans. But, I told John Thomas that if I was able we would do it this year.  And I was…and we did.

The day after Thanksgiving John Thomas and Sweet Levi showed up at my house at 10:00 sharp.  And, I was ready and waiting on them!  Time for our morning of fun to begin!  I had a huge sheet spread out on the floor.  Both boys had the same supplies…a bare tree, a palette of paint, brushes, an empty snow globe, two empty glass ornaments, a tiny truck, and a tiny tree.  I kept control of the paint bottles, and the supplies for the snow globe.

We began by swirling different colors of paint inside the glass ornaments…these turned out very pretty…but was not a hit with the boys. It took too long for the paint to run down the sides.  They needed fast results!

Then we started the trees.  Now this, they loved.  They discussed  which colors they would use.  Levi told John Thomas that he should copy him because he does art everyday.  John Thomas told Levi that he already decided which colors and not to copy him!  I think that ended all discussion of paint colors.  They both went to work and let their creative spirits soar.  I guess they didn’t notice they both had the same 4 colors.









The trees are hinged on the back so they will stand up.  They did a great job!  Then we washed up and sang a few Christmas carols to liven us up!


We made our little truck ornament for the tree, and then came time for the snow globe.  Oh my!



I found the neatest snow globes at Michael’s this year.  They are plastic and are in 3 pieces…the globe, a little platform for the characters you choose, and a twist on cap.  And, they are large enough that you can put more than one thing in it.  I had a snowman, a deer, trees, 2 elves, a house, a bicycle and two signs to the North Pole. And two bags of snow!  John Thomas chose first cause he said he was older.  Levi said, “Don’t you know I’m 4 now?”  JT told him it didn’t matter, he was still older.  Levi told him that he went to his birthday and he was four, too!  John Thomas just rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, two years ago, Levi”  I didn’t stop at 4!”  Not sure Levi gets it yet, but we let JT go first.  He tried out several and decided on an elf and a tree and a sign.  So, I hot glued and then we opened the snow. OH! THE! SNOW!  I bought some somewhere that was teeny little styrofoam like balls.  BIG MISTAKE!  They immediately attach themselves to your hands and clothes and face and everything!  And, they are so very lightweight that every time you breath out or say a word the weight of your breath sends them into orbit.  They fall where they will and refuse to let themselves be picked up again!  I learned a lesson, for sure.

Levi and John Thomas were sure troopers though.  They got down on the floor and tried their best to corral the lost snow.  Oh if only it would really melt!  Needless to say, we grabbed what we could and dumped it in a bag and decided Levi would use the flaky snow!  He had been studying the pieces and finally decided that he would take the other elf and a tree and a sign…just like John Thomas!  I glued.  And told him to wait for me to open the bag of that lighter than air flaky stuff.  Somehow, his brain did not comprehend what those words meant and he bit a hole in the top of the bag and proceeded to pull it apart with all his might.  And he did…pull it apart.  And it really truly snowed in my studio.  A whole bag full.  I couldn’t speak.  John Thomas stared at me.  Levi laughed and said, “Come on, John Thomas, help me put it back in the bag and lets do it again!”  JT didn’t move.  He knew.   He’s 6.  The bag was quickly then removed from Levi’s hands and cleanup began.  OH ! My!  What Fun!  Here’s the two other ones we did.  See those little demon balls in the snowman?  NEVER buy them!


We finished up with the projects and put everything away.  They played with cars for a while, then John Thomas chose a book for me to read.    But, no.  Levi decided he would read to John Thomas.  He ‘read’ him a photo album of his K3 year of school.  I don’t think JT was particularly enthralled.  But, the dear boy was kind, and let Levi finish.

And this is the only bad picture of John Thomas known to be in existence!



And our fun morning came to an end.  The boys gathered their treasures together to take home and soon their Moms came to pick them up.  I tried everything to remove snow from my studio, and finally hit on a lint roller as the best tool for the job.  Used up all the sheets on the roll…but there’s very little snow left!







JT looked the the pics I took before he left and he told me I messed up on this one.  “You don’t have anything in this picture, Aunt Tonja, “he said.  “Oh yes, I do, Little Man!  There’s a little hand reaching into to a beautiful palette of paint!  He can paint anything he wants.  He can create a blue sky or a dark storm, or a truck or an airplane or even a family.   It’s all up to the artist.  I think it’s beautiful!”  He said it still looked like a wrong picture to him.  That’s OK.  He’s 6!

“…work with your own hands…” 1 Thessalonians4:11



And, it’s now nap time for the grown-up!



I first have to admit something.  I am an indulgent Lulu.  I have bought many toys for Levi…many…from the time he was an infant.  But, I am very particular in what I buy.  It has to be quality and it has to be used to teach …whether it’s learning about shapes in puzzle work, or cars that depict actual vehicles he may encounter…even to a baby doll that teaches the things daddies need to do for a little one.  And, of course, we have a plethora of art supplies.  I can’t even tell you how I love to buy art supplies to feed his creative mind!  Those things just jump in my cart without me even noticing!

I have, from the time he was old enough to understand, insisted that he take care of his toys.  We only throw those things intended to be thrown.  Every thing is put away in it correct container.  And, it is put gently in its box…NEVER thrown.  This has been an important lesson to him that things cost money and if he does not care for them they break and are gone forever.  We only replace broken things if it was truly an accident!  And, that’s MY call!

He’s really very good about following my rules on these things, and we have very little trouble with it! One of the things I have learned through out my 40 some years teaching and raising children is this…the RULES need to be shared first!  It’s exciting to have something new to play with or experiment with.  And, in the excitement, it is so hard to listen and remember the rules.  But, BEFORE the toy or art supply is in the child’s hand…he must hear the rules!  ***In the house, the balls stay on the floor.***  Play Doh is used only at the little table and can never leave!***Crayons are only for paper.***Caps go on markers immediately after using and before using another one.***Toys that are not treated gently or used properly are put in Toy Time Out for a week…in full few of the perpetrator, I might add!

Enough about that.  Last week, I discovered that my sweet boy had taken about 25 of his little cars into the pantry.  He said they were having a picnic.  That was fine.  I actually think a pantry is a pretty clever place to have a picnic, don’t you?  After playing around the food for a while, I suppose the smells got to him, and he decided it was time for him to picnic as well.

Lulu, I need a snack.

OK, Babe, pick up your cars and we’ll have something.

But, they are having a picnic and they are not finished.

Oh, OK, well when they finish, then I’ll get you a snack.

But, I’m really hungry now.

I understand.  Just take the cars back and put them away, and we’ll find something to eat.


He said OK…but he didn’t mean OK.  He was just kinda stuck there and couldn’t get going.  (Been there myself)  So, I went and got his grocery cart and wheeled it into the pantry.

Why don’t you put all your cars in the cart and then roll them back into the studio, that will be easier!  

He thought that was a good idea and set about the task at hand.  Then, I heard the sounds of two of his biggest trucks being thrown with great force into the cart.  They slammed together with a great crash! I walked into the pantry with a shocked look on my face.

Have you lost your mind?

Looking up at me in all innocence,   I don’t think so.

Did I?  Where did it go?

I was trying so hard not to laugh.  Did you forget about throwing your cars?  That’s not following the rules.  Put them away correctly.

In a minute or two I heard him call…Did you find it yet, Lulu?

I had moved on and thought he was talking about his snack.  Find what, Levi?

My mind…I don’t know where it is.

Well, what does it look like?  I’ll help you look.

It’s clear.  It’s shaped like a head.  It has all the things I think about in it.

OK, finish the cars, and I’ll find it.

He took the cars back to their place.

Did you get it yet, Lulu?

Come here, Little Man.

He came over to me and, I laid my ear on the top of his head.

Everything’s fine!  It’s in there.  I can hear it thinking!

Whew!  I’m glad.  Cause I don’t know where minds like to hide!  And, I want to keep all my ‘thinks’.


Now why I ever asked him a question like that, I’m not sure.  I’ve never said that to him before.  And, I won’t again.  I wasn’t using my mind…I forgot that preschoolers think literally.  What we use as an expression, is not understood in that way by a little one.

The next morning, I asked him to tell Pa and Uncle Alex about what happened to his mind.  He did and, his wise Pa reminded him of a very important Bible truth.

“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Phillipians 4:8 NLT

Pa reminded him that he had a wonderful mind and these are the kinds of things God wants us to think about with our minds!  Levi told Pa that when his friends were hurt or sad it made unhappy ‘thinks’ in his mind.  Pa explained to him that that happens to all of us, but that’s the time we pray for God to take care of the things that make us sad.

What a sweet talk the four of us had together that morning.  It is such a blessing for us to have the opportunity to spend time with this sweet boy.  His other grandparents feel the same as his Pa and I.   It is such a privilege to share in his “training up”.   We do not take this responsibility lightly.  His parents do such a wonderful job of raising him in the knowledge of our Lord, he attends a church with a wonderful children’s program and he is in a terrific Christian preschool.  I thank God that this young man is surrounded by those who love him, cherish him, and continually point him toward Jesus!  ”

“Thank you, God, for sharing the gift of this delightful boy with all of us who love him!  Never let us fall down or be neglectful in our responsibilities to him.”

“I could have no greater joy than  to hear that my children are following the truth.”   3 John 4







It seems I’m always sharing things with you, my FB friends.  But, when I find a ‘treasure’ or an unusual piece or a the perfect gift for someone, I just want others to share in it.  I guess I wish other folks would do the same and share some of their great finds!

Nevertheless, today, I want to share with you a Nativity set I found for Levi.

20151107_195625~2 copy


I found this in the toy section at TJMaxx.  It is made by Melissa and Doug, whose wooden toys are always superb, long lasting and full of play!  I paid $19.99 for mine, but I think they retail for about $30.00. It comes with all these pieces and then there is a stable in 3 pieces.   Levi was able to put it together by himself.  It has all the necessary characters to follow along with the Christmas story…Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, sheep, Wise Men, and angel.  All wood construction.  And remember, you can always Google for a coupon before you buy!




I did not intend to give this set to Levi until after Thanksgiving, but made the mistake of not hiding it quick enough!  But, as you can see…he got right into playing with it.  I don’t suppose it matters too much if he took Jesus on a ride in the back of a garbage truck …at least he let the angel follow along from the bed of a pick up truck to keep an eye on things!   The fact that he knows the characters and knows the part they played in the birth of our Savior is enough for me!  The joys of little boys!


20151105_125139 copy


I checked and you can get them at Toys R Us, Target, Kohl’s, and Amazon..and TJMaxx and sometimes Tuesday Morning.   Melissa and Doug toys are sold lots of places.


I am such a big believer in exposing children to art….in showing them how to do art…then letting them explore and figure out what works for them.  This does not require any thing fancy or expensive.  However, it does require patience on your part and a willingness to step back and not ‘help’.  We do art of some kind every day Levi is with me.   He has his own supplies and they are readily available for him.  On this day, I had found a large wooden letter in my craft closet that I don’t remember buying.  I had it laying on the art table.  He asked me what we were going to do with it.  I had to think a minute and told him we were going to cut and past the most beautiful colors we could find!  And, so out comes a stack of old magazines, and we set about finding patches of pretty colors we liked.  It took a little while before I could get him to see the color…and not just the picture.  But, he finally got it.  We cut and pasted for the longest time.  As we worked he began to cut triangles and squares and circles out of the colors.  It was such fun!  We glued them all on the letter.  I taught him about overlapping to cover up the wood.  After it all dried, I put a couple of coats of Mod Podge on it to seal it.  Then I sanded all the rough spots where it wasn’t even and ended with another coat of Mod Podge.  And showing him how to peel the glue off his fingers was a hoot!  Fun and a great learning experience.  (Another Levi/Lulu project).






Levi loves trucks and cars.  Big ones he can drive around…and little ones all over the house…literally!   He keeps most of them in my studio where I try to contain most of the clutter…but he is allowed a little stash our bedroom.  He and Don have put that road tape down and they have races in there after he gets ready for school.  Quite an incentive to get the clothes on and teeth brushed and hair combed, so there will be time left for racing.  He is very specific about their placement…there are 2 groups who are in perpetual race-offs.  So one group overnights it under a chair and the other group under a footstool.

Lately, I’ve seen some cars stashed in other unusual places…and started documenting just where a 4 year old decides is a good place to hide a car!  It’s like a happy surprise when I run across another one stuck in a place that so amuses me.

Under the ear of the zebra skin rug in the library….




Another one hiding atop a stack of his books in the library.  Those zebra stripes make excellent roads!



Hidden amidst the paint bottles on the art table…



Taking a rest in my hair product tray next to bathroom sink…



Adding his own touch to the little vignette I put together for him next to his place at the table…



The door handle next to his car seat…  I feel sure this one is just waiting here for him while he’s in school…



I have no clue why this one is in the Commentary…other than it’s in the bedroom and perhaps this is the winners circle…or something…




That’s all !  Just sharing!


Dear Linda,

Yesterday I went back to the doctor to see about my knee.  The meniscus is not torn…but there is no cartilage there anymore.  And it has severe oseoarthritis in is.  You can imagine my delight when he said this will entail a new knee.  I do so love new things!  He went on to say, however, that he thought we may could put it off for a while by going the route of shots!…steroid and rooster…ROOSTER?  Anyway, I don’t remember what else he said for a few minutes when he came at me from one way with a needle and the nurse came at me the other way with some kinda spray voodoo medicine.  “Don’t jump!’ he says.  “Jump?” I thought.  “My plan was on running!  But they sorta hemmed me in!

Of course, I must tell you I was horribly embarrassed.  He asked me to roll up my pants leg…OVER my knee.  Well that was like trying to pull an old pillowcase off a nice new overstuffed pillow!  He watched while I contoured  and pulled and twisted.  These pants are designed to be entered from the foot section and pulled up over the hips…there is no leeway for rolling them up to make shorts out of them!!!I finally got it past my knee.  However, he pointed out we better hurry and get that shot done cause my leg from the rolled up pants leg down to the foot was slowly turning a lovely purple!  Oh!  I did shave my legs in the shower before I went to the doctor.  But, I didn’t remember to rub some lotion on that sad old, dry donkey skin!.  So on top of everything else, it looked like a little private snowstorm had fallen all over my skinny legged BLACK jeans when I eased them them back down, ever so gingerly trying to bypass that hole he left on the right side!

It was at this point, being the oh so observant man that he is,  he asked about why I had a brace on my other foot.  So, I went into the saga of the two years of ACHILLES TERROR that I had suffered with my ankle.  He suggested, after I told him all Doctor ONE had done with little results, that I see Doctor TWO.  I told him it felt so much better when I was hobbling on a toe to knee cast or wearing the lovely space cadet air boot.  “Oh, yes”, he exclaimed, “It’s time for you to let Doctor TWO look at it.  Sound as if they need to remove the tendon from the back of the heel and scape it down from the back of the leg and do some witch doctor magic on it!  It is pretty involved surgery..but that’s the point you are at now.  I’ll just get my nurse to get you in to see him next week!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I was able to hold it together and hobble to my car.  I immediately got in the front seat, rolled the window down, and “Had A Little Talk With Jesus.”  I didn’t get a very sympathetic vibe from him though.  Thoughts kept coming to me that I was 62, and I was forcing my legs to work harder with this little , bitty tad of extra weight I was carrying around, and I had better get busy getting things in order if I wanted to escort Levi down the aisle one day at his wedding….if there is every a girl good enough!


I had lunch and ran an errand.  Then I came home and got out my clothes to wear to the breakfast and the shopping with the Sunday School girls tomorrow.  I was determined that I was going to go to bed early and rest this throbbing knee, so I could be fresh as a daisy tomorrow for the good time we were certain to have!

I decided to get off my feet around 5:00 and check FB and email.  (Notice the time I sent you the message that I’d be there in the morning.)  I fixed myself a glass of tea and got an aspirin for my knee.  Had my computer in my lap, and no reason to move for an hour or so.

After several minutes, my gaze fell around the room, and I noticed my closet light was on.  Well, you know my dear hubby.  He is such a fine upstanding man and provides so well for us.  He really doesn’t complain about all the things he COULD.  However , lights being left on is not something he is good with.   Now, sometimes I don’t even notice until he brings it to my attention…being as how I am blessed with the scattered brain that I am…but today I saw it and knew I needed to turn it off.  It was really not bothering me in the least, but I didn’t want to give him any grief.  So I went over to turn it off.


I woke up about 30 minutes later.  Not where I should have been resting, but on the floor wedged between my piano and the painting table.  I  vaguely remember leaning over some toys I had moved to one side.  Things Levi had outgrown.  I was going to put them away…IN the closet…but I have to do these things slowly, because the boy knows when one thing in his stash has been removed from play.  So, I let him get used to being in another place and slowly it disappears into the never,never land at the back of the closet.

I had found my self in this situation when I woke up.  I think I hit my head on the piano bench.  I was lying face down with both elbows under me as if I was getting ready to consider the possibility of maybe trying to do a push up.  Yeah!  Fat chance!  Anyway one elbow was bleeding and my left knee where the doctor had gouged a hole earlier in the day was whimpering slightly.  But , my left hip and around to my sit upon was screaming at me that I wasn’t playing fair!  I lay there a minute, breathing hard, and wondered what to do.  I really was afraid to move by myself..  So, I called Alex…who lives DOWN the hall…past the door to his apartment…past the door to his bedroom….Both closed by the way!  Plus he had a book on tape playing.  He never heard a thing.  Finn did…but not Alex.  Then I wondered if Adam was working and could I call him if I was really hurt.  But, no, he would be so totally embarrassed to have to come into this this toy strewn and paint everywhere studio and rescue his mother.  My phone was too far away or I would have called Don.  No, this was a job for no one but me!  So I eased my legs to one side and tried to bend my knees to begin getting up.  They worked OK,  however the hip was not in a getting up mood.  I needed to move my arms to push up…but the bloody one said, “No thanks”.  So , Linda I could not really tell you exactly how I got up, but I did.    It appeared nothing was broken.  Even my loudmouth hip.

And, then I saw what had caused me to go me to go on this little journey.  In a corner, beside the things I was slowly letting disappear…a sweet little man had set up  a construction site.  We’re talking backhoes and dump trucks and caterpillars and all manner of things to build a new shopping center with.  As it turns out, Levi and I have been closely watching two construction sites as we travel to school and home each day.  We are even making pictures of the trucks and the different things the big rigs do.  Then we are going to make us a book about construction!  We even have talked about how sometime the builders have to get their trucks into tiny spaces and clears things away before they can begin building.

Why do I feel the need to explain things so throughly to him?   Why do I try to give him all these experiences of what is going on in the world ?  I don’t know. But, I know for sure that he had found a little space to clear and and soon a shopping center was going to be built in the front of the door to my closet.  And, since someone not too smart had put the light switch behind the center of the piano, I had to lean over the construction site AND the toys headed to never land, and try to smack down that light switch with the tips of my fingers!

It didn’t work.  So, here I am on the daybed in the studio lying where I have been since bout 5:30 last evening.  I did manage to get the pants off my legs…but I have pretty much stayed in one position all evening and night.  I know this is true because I have watched The Young and The Restless on dvd, The Shark Tank, 2 hours of beauty tips on QVC (Argon oil is quite a thing now), an hour of Christmas lights and decor on HSN, O’Reilly, and every commentator that has opinion on HOHO Clinton and all her mess, and a few cartoons thrown in for good measure…also a rerun of The Big Bang Theory,and an old episode of The Golden Girls and a few episodes of Flea Market Flip and House Hunters.  What I’m saying here is I haven’t slept any.  Nada.

My hip has a bruise the size of Georgia and my elbow is still whining, and my head has a knot on it.  But I guess there is a silver lining to everything.  Perhaps I can hobble out to Don’s truck at some point and put together something for Trunk or Treat tomorrow evening at church!

Oh well, the ‘best laid plans’ and all that.  Y’all, please have fun for me!  I’ll miss you!

Love, Tonja




It appears in front of me once again.  Filled to the brim with the oddest assortment of ‘stuff’.  Cornmeal, yogurt in little pouches, 2 pints of chocolate milk, and a 1/2 bag of carrots!  Yesterday it was a canister of rolled oats, a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of pancake syrup, a canister of chocolate bars, and a box of rice.  Last week it contained a box of aluminum foil, squeeze bottle of mustard, a box of macaroni, a loaf of bread and a can of peas.

When Levi was just beginning to walk, he went with me to The Dollar General store.  There was a plastic grocery cart that he immediately latched onto.  He was in heaven!  He pushed that little cart for all he was worth…filling it with various things that were within his reach.  When time came to go, he was heartbroken over having to leave that cart in the store.  I’ve never seen him before or since carry on about wanting something so bad.  In fact, I felt so bad for breaking his little heart, that when he left to go home, I went back to the store and bought him one.  In a box.  Brand new.  It was very cheaply made…I hoped it would last.  If not, I could buy a well made one from the toy store.

I wanted to put it together, so he would see it when he came the next day.  There it was…purple basket, orange undercarriage, and turquoise wheels!  All the parts were there and soon it was together!  I could hardly wait for him to see it and push it and gather things in it!  I could just imagine the look on his face.  And, him coming to me and saying, “Lulu, you are the best!  Thank you for this wonderful cart.  Thank you for giving me my heart’s desire!  I will love you forever!”   Well, it wouldn’t sound like that, because he couldn’t talk then, but I would be able to read the emotion behind his eyes!  I set it in the middle of the studio and waited for the next morning.

He came in the door and gave me a big hug as always.  Then into the studio he went.  He saw the cart and went straight to it.  Not a word was spoken.  He took it by the handle and began to push…all the way around the table.  Then he began to fill it up…little cars, colorful blocks, books, balls.  He pushed them around a few times then took them out and refilled it.  Still not a sound.

However, the next sound I heard was plenty loud enough!  It was a cry of despair.  I looked up quickly and there he was…and there was the cart.  But, the cart was now in 3 pieces!  He was heart broken.  I rushed to see what I could do.  Nothing was broken…pieces would just not fit together anymore.  What was supposed to fit inside of another piece was either too big or too small. I’m guessing it was fine until he put too much in it and then it collapsed.  I told him I would get him another one.  He cried louder.  And louder.

And, so, being the resourceful Lulu that I am, I got out the duct tape.  That will fix anything.  Unfortunately, all I happened to have was a roll that had a big checkerboard design on it.  Not to worry, it would hold it together long enough for me to get a new cart.

20151016_153510~3 I taped for a while and he waited and watched.  And, soon he was on his way again.  Happily filling it up with strange pairings of objects, taking them for a spin around the studio, and putting them back.

He was barely two when that cart came to live at our house.  He has pushed it every. single.  day.  After the duct tape surgery, it has held up remarkably well.  Never even offering to come apart again.  It has carried small loads and big loads.  It has carried items that make sense being carried and those that don’t.  It has waited patiently for a little boy’s whims to hit and has been ready to partner with him in his escapades.

About a year ago, he began grocery shopping.  Because the shelves in my pantry go to the floor…and his legs have gotten longer…he can imagine he’s in a real grocery store.  And, he goes grocery shopping every day he’s at my house.  I am the grocery clerk, of course.  And he is the shopper.  He says I have to welcome him to the store.  Then after his shopping, I ask him if he found all he needed.  He always does.  Then we check him out, he uses his credit card, and I bag the groceries.  Then I remind him to drive safely and remember to put all the groceries away in the pantry when he gets home.  You know…he always does, too.  Well, they’re in the pantry…not always on the right shelf.  (Can you spy his credit card in the cart?  An old motel key card works great!)

And, the grocery cart…held together with duct tape…will then sit quietly until the mood to shop strike again.  Or until Olaf, and Mickey Mouse, and the orange frog get ready to go for a ride.  Or until his 5043 little cars decide they want to race in the den.  It is probably the thing he plays with more often than anything else he has!  I have never been able to bring myself to get a new one.  That sad little cart has become a fixture in our play.  And, we both love it…just as it is.


We don’t need to be the prettiest or fanciest to get the job done.

Broken things have their own beauty.





The first annual BOO-GA-LOO CAMP is history.  But, history that is bound to be relived and talked about for a while to come.  Because family is so important and I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like with mine…I decided that the big girls and the little boys would have a special few days together.  Why ‘Boogaloo’, you may ask?  Well, it had to have a name.  And, the Boogaloo (bugaloo) is a fast paced dance with wild, crazy movements…. and with these little guys around, we ‘re nothing if we are not fast, wild and crazy!  So Boogaloo it is.  I also changed the spelling to my liking…because I don’t want it called the ‘bug’aloo camp.  Cause bugs…not invited!

Joy and I arrived a day early to rest and reserve our strength for what we knew was going to be a wild weekend.  We were wise to do so!  However, I did have one small project for us to do.  We bought pavers and sorta/kinda laid a walkway between the house (The Sandcastle) and the trailer (The Flamingo).  We had to wait until it was almost dark for it to be cool enough for us to work outside.   And, late afternoon…prime mosquito time!   It wasn’t exactly perfect …but it worked well enough that the boys did not have to walk through the sand spurs to go back and forth.

The crew arrived and the first order of business was discussing all the activities that were to follow. Oh, yes!  Arts and crafts, swimming, sunning, bumper boats, story time, water fun, go carts, and donuts, of course!  We blew up a big pool for the boys to play with their new water squirters and boats and cars.  While we girls sat around and visited.








After a meal out, we turned in…praying for a sunny tomorrow…with NO rain!  The next day was our planned time on the beach.  And, wow! we could not have ordered a more gorgeous day.  Perfection!.
















The boys and girls rode the waves, gathered shells, and floated in the glorious ocean under a blazing sun!  Joy and I sat in the shade of a giant umbrella and enjoyed the show!  Back at the Sandcastle, we got in a little art work.  Painting, stamping, building boats…puzzles, cars, and games.









Levi even got a lesson in Solitaire from Aunt Joy!



After a night’s rest, we were up and ready to go again…this time to the Water Park.  Oh, the boys love it here!  There are fountains popping up from the ground to run through and glorious misters to stand in.  The kid’s pool is only 2 feet deep and it is huge!  There’s 2 slides and all sorts of water fun.  There is also an olympic sized pool with obstacles to run.  And around it all are ledges for the older folks to rest…’cause the little boys don’t stop when they get there…until it’s time to eat.  Also lots of covered picnic tables to escape from the sun for a while.






After a little rest, we went to a wonderful place to eat…Boondocks.    After dinner came go-cart time!  This was our promise to Levi.  And, then we had to scout out some shells.   This was our promise to John Thomas….he has a shell collection…and there really aren’t many to be found on the beaches.  Found a great place, and the boys were going strong.  Joy and I, however, were fading fast.  So we switched up cars.  They went for ice cream and Joy and I went back to the Sandcastle.

Plans were to head to the beach for some crab hunting, but Levi came in the house in his Mother’s arms…already deep in dreamland.  So that’s on our list for next year!
















The crew left out by noon on Sunday.  But Joy and I needed a day to recuperate.  They all left and by 2:00 we were both napping!  Revived, we did a little shopping, a little visiting, and a little eating.  We finished cleaning the next morning and were home early afternoon.

What an amazing few days together we had! Time focused just on family and fun.  And building memories for the boys.  I think both boys were sad their dads were not along.  It makes me happy that Will and Adam spend such quality time with their sons that they want them along wherever the fun is!  Such good daddies! But, this trip was for us girls!

We are so thankful that God granted us these days to laugh, and read and sing and dance and play and swim and rest at night!  God is good to us and His blessings can never be counted.  It is He who established the family.  And, it is He who blesses ours.

ADAM…An Album

Born to Donald and Tonja Owens…Adam Ryan Owens…6/3/75…9 pounds! Scan 5 Joy's Wedding owens1 - Copy with Poph with Don with Mom..6 flags copy riding at Granny and Pop's Disney World 3   Skateboarder at PCB SR.pic...SBC aro2 wedding day DSCN0056 Boondocks 6


Boondocks 1


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My eldest, my heart…you have struggled and overcome.  You have the kindest soul and a genuine love for those who are suffering.  You help these people everyday with courage and wisdom and compassion.  This mother’s heart overflows with happiness.  I am so proud of you.  What a fine husband you are, a loving father to Levi, and a blessing to all of us in the family.  I love you.  Happy 40 th!