Staying in Focus: A Happy Beginning

Christmas truly arrived for us this year on January 1st. That’s when our grandkids arrived to celebrate with us.  They had just returned from a trip to Colorado, and had lots of exciting new experiences to share with us. Here are a few photos that captured the  fun!



Staying in Focus: Happy Birthday, Gavin!



Six years ago this precious little person joined our family. He is one of the sweetest little boys the world has ever known. His smile lights up my life, his laugh tickles my ears, and his hug chases away the blues like nothing else can. I cannot believe he is six years old already – Happy Birthday, Little Man! We love you!

When I was One,

I had just begun.

When I was Two,

I was nearly new.

When I was Three,

I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,

I was not much more.

When I was Five,

I was just alive.

But now I m Six, I’m as clever as clever.

So I think I’ll be six now, forever and ever.

– A.A. Milne

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Staying in Focus: Grandchildren, Cupcakes and Hugs

We had a birthday celebration for Evelyn on Saturday. The first part went off without a hitch. We ate at Red Robin and the staff gathered round to sing her a happy birthday song and give her an ice cream sundae. Unfortunately,the museum we planned to visit was inundated by both rain and people. We couldn’t find a place to park for miles around. So we gave her a rain check and headed home to open gifts. Evelyn especially liked the harmonica and book of Jack Prelutsky poems we gave her, as well as the hundred-dollar bill that was a part of the money for swimming lessons. We topped the day off with colorful cupcakes.

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Monday, our little buddy came by  to stay for a few hours. We had fun with Legos. Gavin created this Indiana Jones all by himself.IMG_3728IMG_3731



Pretty clever. Then he and Grandpa got a case of the sillies.



Finally, there is nothing like a Gavin hug!

Daily Post Photo Challenge: Treasure/Staying in Focus

Daily Post Photo Challenge: Treasure

My treasures are ages 7 and 5 years old. They are the light in my life. Evelyn wants to be an archaeologist/geologist/biologist because she wants to hunt for tombs, and she likes rocks and germs. Gavin wants to be either a daddy or Ironman when he grows up. When they come to visit laughter fills the rooms and imagination floats in the air and for a brief time, we are young again and life is full of endless possibilities…


Staying In Focus: Their Future is In our Hands

Young Archeologists at Work.

My sister hit a home run when she gave my granddaughter a Smithsonian Archeology Kit for Christmas. It consists of a rectangular sunblock, goggles, a hammer and chisel, a paint brush and a magnifying glass. The aspiring archeologists “excavate” gem stones by gently tapping the chisel with the hammer and when one is discovered, carefully brush away the sand as the gem is removed from the sand block.

Both my seven-year old granddaughter and her five-year old brother had a blast searching for the gems. They unearthed 5 of the 11 gems buried in the block so far. Evelyn declared that science was the most fun and that she was going to be an archeologist/geologist/biologist because she wanted to go tomb hunting, find more hematite like the stone she had at home and work with germs. If anyone could achieve this trifecta, it would be Evelyn’

She is currently writing a “non-fiction” article about hookworms and other parasites, after reading about them in a book on the slimy side of science which Santa brought her for Christmas.  We gave her a laptop computer for Christmas, and she is already learning how to use windows 8, and drew her hook worm using a Paint program, and then inserted it into her Word file.

Although I am a proud grandmother who thinks her grandchildren  are the smartest and cutest on the planet, I know there are millions of other bright minds out there. Children who will grow up in a world where technology has exploded in its ability to transfer information, cure diseases, entertain us with the unimagined  ability to cross the boundaries between reality and the virtual world.

But I fear we are falling behind in preparing our children for this brave new world.  Our teachers are undervalued and underpaid, held to strict curriculum that allow for little in the way of creativity. This is boring for the students, and unpalatable for the best teachers. So they are leaving the profession in droves. Latest statistics show that 40% of those with advanced degrees never enter the classroom at all. Finland is reported to have the best school system in the world. Why are we not studying this model? Are we too arrogant to admit we can learn from someone else? If so, where does that leave my two future archeologists?

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Staying in Focus: Focus On: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GAVIN

We celebrated my grandson’ s 5th birthday this week with a chocolate chip pancake breakfast at Bob Evans. Here are some photos of the event:

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To Gavin

How can it already be year number five

since you first arrived, so precious and  small?

but in almost no time at all

you won my heart with your winning smile,

and vibrant personalityIMG_6070

I love the special kind of hugs

and kisses that you give to me

you have such a great imagination

I look forward with expectation

to find out who you decide to be

your father says right now the choice

is between being  a daddy

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and Ironman.

To be both of then, I think you can –

but in my heart and memories

you’ll always be my little man.

Happy Birthday!



Staying in Focus: Autumn crafts/precious moments

The finished product

The finished product

One of the things I most enjoyed about teaching was exploring the changing seasons and celebrating the holidays through art. I enjoy crafts myself and loved sharing this with my students.  Now that I have retired, I enjoy sharing these  interests with my grandchildren. This weekend they came over for a visit. Their laughter and exuberance fill the house and bring a charge of energy to their Grams and Grandpa. We decorated a Halloween scene, made puppets and then they put on a puppet show . Here are some pictures of our day together.. IMG_2416IMG_2415                                                                          Adding the finishing touches. And now it is time for the puppet show:IMG_2441

The finished product!


                                                                                            After all that work , it’s time for some physical activity :                                                                                                                               IMG_2420

           Each day spent with them is a precious moment.                                                                                                           

IMG_2421 IMG_2423 IMG_2424 My friend, Denise, who recently moved here is also a craft enthusiast. Here are a couple of simple crafts we made together, We took a plain pumpkin and fancied it up with ribbon and fall flowers. You can use a real or a manufactured pumpkin. The leaf mat is a simple piece of white cardboard cut into a circle the size you need, with leaves (real or silk) ironed flat and glued  onto the circle. We used a hot  glue gun. A white sock and an empty 2 liter bottle of soda become a ghost. Simply fill the bottom with beans or sand for stability . Use a little wire  to make the peak atop his head and make the arms bendable. Use scraps to decorate. A spaghetti jar and some stretchy medical bandage become a mummy. Add googly eyes and some creepy spiders to decorate. Place a candle inside. I use the battry powered ones for safety. IMG_2428 IMG_2423 - Copy IMG_2426 - Copy Filling your home with holiday crafts brings back memories of special time spent together with family and friends. Our family has exchanged homemade gifts for many years. They have included clever crafts like those above, beautiful cross stitch pieces from my mom, and cross stitch ornaments from my cousin Phyllis, painted dishes, mosaic hot plates, candles, potpourri jars, decorated coffee cups from my sister. I’ve added annual  Christmas poems with watercolor backgrounds, family photo books I designed on Snapfish, framed photography and a myriad of homemade ornaments. My brother has made us each beautiful carved walking sticks, and very clever things made from found objects like large, rusty bolts from railroad tracks, my sister-in-law Elise gave us clever scarves  made of yarn, our niece Jeanette has painted feathers and shells and framed art pieces. These are the kind of gifts you remember year to year. And the making and giving of gifts are  some of the truly precious moments of our lives. This inspiration for the ribbon  pumpkin came from all you magazine,the September 20, 2013 issue.

Staying in Focus: Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree Grandchildren

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Who can express carefree better than children? I’ve  always liked this shot of my granddaughter finding pure delight in running barefoot on a summer’s day,. What a smile!

And in the second picture, her brother chooses to express his carefree mood, sprawled in a chair, having finished his pizza and  drink. Just chillin!

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Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Ripped Into the Headlines/Home Invasion

Daily Prompt: Ripped Into the Headlines

Our Top Story: Home Invasion.

Earlier Sunday, the home of Bill and Pat Coyle was invaded by a gang of two little people. Upon arriving at the residence the little people boldly rang the doorbell. Pat recalls looking out the peep-hole, but not seeing anyone, opened the door. The two little people stormed into the house. The smaller one declared  that he was a zombie.. Armed with  shark and alligator shaped water shooters, the two ruffians demanded that  the Coyles  turn on the water sprinkler so they could cool off.IMG_0919 The Coyles had no choice but to comply.  Later the petite invaders demanded


they  play “the princess, the cat and the bad witch”,  assemble some puzzles, stack dominoes in rows and watch them fall, assemble an airplane and play Wheel of Fortune on the computer.


IMG_0916 Following a phone call made to an accomplice, whom the Coyles believe was code-named “dad”, the two forced the Coyles to outfit their car with little people safety seats and drive them to Cold Stone Creamery. After consuming the treat they directed the Coyles to purchase for them, a car drove up and whisked them away. The Coyles identified the car as a Honda Accord with a broken mirror on the passenger side. The Coyles opted not to press charges, realizing that they really had enjoyed the day. The next morning, “dad” called. “What did you do to them yesterday?” he inquired. “They were exhausted  and feel asleep at seven o’clock.” The Coyle’s offered to have their home invaded by the two little hooligans anytime “dad” needed a break, as long as he promised to  drive them away in the getaway car before the Coyles, both seniors, fell asleep standing up. The diminutive home invaders have reccruited the Coyles into their gang. Code names, “Grams ” and “Grandpa”.