Two Humans and a Leopard Slug

Could anything be more adorable?

No TV, no video game, no tablet, just two angel children on a trail in the forest intently examining a Leopard Slug, or Limax maximus.

No fear, just curiosity.

Chatting With The Angels: All About Crunchy Towels

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

This story isn’t as funny as the one about little green moldy dots on my tortillas, but it still makes me smile every time I think about it.

When I’m at the Angels’ house, they love to assist me as I unpack my suitcase because they know I always bring presents. In fact, T “helpfully” carries the heavy one for me and C drags my smaller bag–anything to hurry up and reveal the goodies.

Angel Boy 2.0 says,

“We helped Mommy make the bed for you. Wait a minute Grandma, I forgot something!”

As he runs up the stairs, it’s easy to follow exactly where he is because I can hear dinosaur-like stomps on the way back down.

He hands me a giant bath towel. “Here, Grandma, feel THIS! It’s so soft, right?”

“THIS is the way towels are supposed to feel, not crunchy like at your house. Isn’t that nice and soft? Mommy does it the right way. Feel it again.”

I hear Mom laughing in the kitchen, and my own Angel Boy snickering in the dining room. Ha ha. (Let’s just see if they get THEIR presents I so carefully packed.)

Rewind back to their previous visit to Casa de Enchanted Seashells…

“Grandma, not AGAIN! Why are your towels so crunchy?”

“What are you talking about, T?”

“How do you wash your towels? Do you use the same stuff that we do?”

I know exactly where he was headed with this line of questioning, but I’m gonna let him continue, because 1. He’s adorable and so earnest and 2. He sounds exactly like a lawyer, maybe unconsciously channeling his great-grandpa.

“I think I use different detergent than you use at your house, my darling.”

“Do you use softener and put them in the dryer?”

“Nope, I don’t. You know I hang all my laundry out in the garden on clotheslines, right? I think the sun is especially good for towels and sheets. It’s solar power. I use the power of the sun and the wind to dry everything, unless it’s raining, of course.”

“WHY? But, Grandma”, and here he uses his hands to illustrate his point, “It makes them so crunchy and rough. I don’t like them that way. I like soft towels like at home.”

“Think about this, though. This is how Daddy’s towels always were and he didn’t complain about the way they feel.”

“DADDY GRANDMA SAYS YOUR TOWELS WERE ALWAYS CRUNCHY WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE BOY! REALLY?”

More snickering, and then, “Yes, T, Grandma always hangs clothes in the sun.”

T shakes his head in outrage at the apparent abuse his dad suffered as a child. He can’t fathom a world where towels are scratchy.

“Hey, you guys. Would you like it if I put the towels in the dryer for a while?”

“I do, We do. Come on, Grandma, do it our way.”

“OK, my little buddy, if it means a lot to you, I’ll soften them up in the dryer and they’ll be nice and warm for you and C after your bath.”

Am I the only one who still hangs laundry outside on a line? I admit that my towels are “crunchy” because they hang out in the sun until they dry. That’s actually the way I like them, ‘cos it’s like a loofah, but I can see his point.

Those children are priceless.

Random Chat with a Princess: Secret Revealed

Those two little humans I’m honored to spend time with love nothing more than to perch themselves on the bar stools, four elbows on the countertop in order to scrutinize and narrate my every move in the kitchen like a TV chef.

From chopping onions to slicing red peppers for an afternoon snack, to helping roll out pizza dough, I’m the star of the show.

“We have that same kind of hummus, Grandma.”
“Grandma, my almond butter at my house looks like yours!”
“I go to Trader Joes with Daddy. He lets me get snack bars. I like strawberry.”
“Did you get your almond butter from Trader Joes, Grandma?”

“I have a Traders too, Angel Girl, and a lot of the food I get at my store is the same food you get at your store. The next time I go there, come with me and we can compare all the labels and the similar types of food. Won’t that be fun?”

There was a unanimous request for breakfast burritos, so I placed all the ingredients on the counter and started preparing them like a short order cook.

When I opened the plastic bag of tortillas, I saw that SOME of them had a TINY–literally microscopic– bit of mold on them. (Ooops.)

That did NOT escape the eagle eyed surveillance of a curly haired little girl. She doesn’t miss a THING.

“Grandma, we have tortillas at our house too, but ours don’t have little green spots on them.”

“Why do your tortillas have little green spots on them, Grandma?”

She was seriously conjuring up a memory of the tortillas at her house and comparing them to these with admittedly very TINY moldy spots on them. As a reminder, this child is two and a half years old and speaks in complete sentences like her kindergarten brother.

I couldn’t stop laughing to myself because I have a slight problem I’ve tried to hide from everyone. It’s this: once in a great while, I confess that I’ve been known to camouflage or cut out mold on bread or tortillas and this brilliant and observant child just outed me to the world.

I poked through the layers of tortillas and found a couple that did NOT have telltale little green spots on them and finished their second breakfast of the day.

(Don’t worry, I don’t make a practice of serving moldy food!)

Later….

“Grammy, why are there so many seashells in your house?”

“Well, you know how much I love seashells and rocks, don’t you? I save them every time we go to the beach at your house and I bring them home.”

In the upstairs bathroom as I ran the water for a bath, T (the math lover) counted all the seashells, forgot where he stopped, and had to restart the count about four times.

“Grandma, there are thirty two seashells just right here.”

“That’s a nice even number”, I said, as we toss all the toys in the bath.

“But they’re everywhere!”

“Well, my friend, I guess you’ll have a lot of counting to do, right? But now it’s bath time, so in you go and then it’ll be time for Char’s bath.”

“Out of the mouths of babes” is so accurate. You gotta be on the top of your game 24/7 with those two bright humans.

Our Fun Day at Legoland California

Live to serve, serve to live...

I didn’t coin this phrase. The provenance belongs to DIL, but it accurately represents me, too.

If I told you that I was up at the crack of dawn and my day consisted of making kugel, lasagna with homemade sauce, oatmeal raisin cookies (with kale as a secret ingredient), pumpkin spice cupcakes, mango/strawberry ice cream, and apple pie, would you be able to guess who’s coming to visit?

All menu items were requested — except the addition of kale is our little secret, OK? He never needs to know.

The rest of the list includes crispy tofu, pizza, breakfast burritos, buckwheat pancakes, and whatever else their hearts desire.

Live to serve, serve to live, it doesn’t stop with baking and cooking.

When Angel Boy 2.0 turned six in March, one of his presents was a first visit to Legoland. I live so close to Legoland — it’s across the lagoon — that we have front row seats to the (cursed) fireworks, cursed because fireworks scare animals. I think they should switch to a laser light show which would be even more spectacular and harm no animals but so far, no one is listening to me. Sigh.

The original Angel Boy, his curly clone, and I packed up hats and sunscreen and bathing suits for the waterpark feature (not me, though) and we drove three miles or so to the Legoland entrance. We were early but there was already a line of cars waiting to get in. After paying $35 for preferred parking, we walked in. AB 2.0 was SO excited! This was his very first experience in a crowd with a lot of noise and so many distractions.

I laughed to myself at all the weary grandparents wandering around wishing their day would be over even though it had just begun. Heehee.

Here’s my overall impression of Legoland California:

–It’s very clean and well maintained.
–The employees were all friendly and helpful.
–The Submarine ride was REALLY cool and we enjoyed that a lot.
— The Dragon Rollercoaster was perfect for a six-year-old, just scary enough not to cause lasting trauma.(It was scary for me!)
–The Waterpark and the slides were was amazing. I sat in a comfy chair while the two guys played for the longest time. I was so happy to see an abundance of very alert lifeguards keeping everyone safe.
–Dad won a stuffed animal for T at a ball throwing game which made Dad the hero of the day.
–They got pizza for lunch and it was REALLY good.
–There were lots of places to actually build with Legos and Duplos.
–The lines for the most popular rides like Technic Coaster were WAY TOO LONG. No child should be forced to wait an hour or more for a ride. That’s totally unacceptable. Since Legoland is geared for 12 and under, it was a real hardship and we didn’t stay in line so the little guy never got to ride it. We kept checking the app but it stayed busy all day and we were there midweek.
–Some of the rides weren’t open, not sure of the reason, but it was a disappointment.
–The music was too loud for me and slightly disorienting.
–I observed a couple of children become separated from their grownups and it’s a continual lesson to NEVER take your eyes off the little ones, not even for a second.

Overall, AB 2.0 had an amazing time. He definitely wants to go again when his sister is a bit older and tall enough for the rides.

Even though I live so close, I think it would be fun to stay at one of the hotels on the Legoland property especially since one of the perks is to be able to enter the park an hour before the public.

After the end of an exhausting day, after dinner and a bath, he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Best of all, I kept my promise of going to Legoland. In the car on the way home, he asked if I’d come to Disneyland one day, and I think I might have to decline that invitation–at least I need a while to recover from this theme park!

Our motto: Live to serve, serve to live…

Here’s a gallery of pics. As you can see, it was a beautiful blue sky day!


Angel Boy Chat #323 “I TAUGHT GRANDMA SOMETHING!”

I have a lot of posts in my drafts folder; this sweet little convo took place the last time I saw the Angels.

“Tell me one fun thing you did at kindergarten today, my beautiful boy.”

(Note: I try to never ask questions that will never elicit a yes or no response.)

“I can subitize. Can you, Grandma?”

“What word did you say?”

“SUBITIZE!.” “SUBITIZE!!!” he yells RIGHT in my ear.

[Laughing] “Dude, I can hear you just fine, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that word. Say it again slowly.”

“Subitize.”

“What is that?”

“It’s like this” and he grabs a domino, looks at the amount of dots on it, and says “Eight”.

“Do another one, T.”

“Six.”

“How do you know without counting each one?”

He shrugs his TEENAGER-ISH shoulders, “I dunno, that’s subitize, Grandma.”

OK, well of course I know how to look at a group of items and my brain automatically counts them, but I didn’t know there was an actual word for it, so I learned something from our little kindergartner and he was BEYOND pleased that he could teach me for a change.

“Mommy, I taught Grandma something!” He was so proud of himself for knowing something that I did not.

From that day forward, our game is to say “Subitize me!” so he can quickly subitize sections of tangerines or apple slices or carrot sticks lined up to dip into hummus.

Did you know this word? Am I the only one who didn’t??

Subitizing is the rapid, accurate, and confident judgments of numbers performed for small numbers of items. The term was coined in 1949 by E.L. Kaufman et al., and is derived from the Latin adjective subitus (meaning “sudden”) and captures a feeling of immediately knowing how many items lie within the visual scene, when the number of items present falls within the subitizing range. Sets larger than about four items cannot be subitized unless the items appear in a pattern that the person is familiar with (such as the six dots on one face of a die).(Wiki)

From The Grandma Archives: An Audience of Two VIPs

It’s been a while since I recounted a moment in time with the Angels…here’s one that brings a smile to my face and a glow to my heart.

I couldn’t help but hear the thundering footsteps of the familiar dinosaur stomp down the stairs at 6am which is marginally better than 5:30 am.

“Wake up, Princess Grandma Coyote Rose!” (He thinks long and hard about how he’s going to address me. It’s different and ADORABLE each and every morning.)

“Warm my feet up, Grandma, feel how cold they are!” “Are you still sleeping? You didn’t get up before I came down, did you?” [He hates when I do that because he’d miss out on our early morning tradition.] Did Daddy have a Batman tower when he was five?” “See my squishy? “I brought lots of stuffies down, too. Here’s Daddy’s teddy with the torn off ear.” “See?” “Give him a kiss, Grandma.”

“Did you have any dreams, my beautiful little buddy?”
“I DID but I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Was it scary? Do you want to tell me in a little while?”

“Yes.” “I’m hungry. Oatmeal first and then buckwheat pancakes when Char comes down.”

“Here are your slippers, Grandma. Hurry!”

First comes blueberry cinnamon oatmeal with a side of sliced apples; coffee for me, and more chat about the day. I never did find out what that dream was all about.

Angel Girl wakes a bit later than her ever/always on the move brother, so I prepped the buckwheat pancakes to be ready when she came down, which she did while AB was still eating his oatmeal. She climbed up on the bench next to him — “I’m in my spot, Grandma!. I need my pink spoon!”– to eat hers as I started the first batch.

After everyone had a few pancakes with agave for dipping and there was moment of calm, I asked Siri to play Swan Lake, one of our favorites. As the music embraced our peaceful eating, I asked them each to identify what feelings were generated by different parts of the ballet and was SUPER impressed by their accuracy.

With my captive audience of two, I stood up–in my fuzzy cheetah print bathrobe hahaha– and started dancing.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, Grandma?”
AG to AB, “Grandma is dancing, Tati!”

“You guys keep eating and I’ll do ballet for you.”

“Should I do a pirouette?” “And this is a plie and a développé, and the best one of all, arabesque!”

“Wow, Grandma!”

“Let’s practice our ballet arms, OK?”
“First, second, third, forth, and fifth. I like fifth position the best, because it’s the princess one.”

I observed wide-eyed Angel Girl reproduce all of the arm positions while shoving more buckwheat pancakes in her mouth.

“Well done, C!” YES, I thought to myself, she will absolutely love ballet classes in a couple years.

I’m not sure if T was all that enamored of my dance skills (or as embarrassed as a teenager would be), but it kept him sitting and eating, and that’s a win for me.

“Now, listen closely. Can you hear the music is telling us to become the swan? Let’s practice making our arms fly.”

“Here’s how we do it.” Again, only one is trying, but the other one is still there, intently watching me. I can’t tell if he’s impressed or if he thinks I’m completely insane; either way, I’m entertainment. As soon as it’s safe to go, I will absolutely take them to see Swan Lake. It’s a rite of passage.

“Now that breakfast and the ballet is finished, we always end with a graceful curtsey.”

“OK. Let’s play, Grandma!”

No applause, no bouquets thrown at my feet, no curtain calls…but my heart is full.

I hope they’ll always have that memory of Little Grandma dancing to Swan Lake in the kitchen after cooking a gigantic batch of pancakes. And laugh about it.

Do you want to know where mom and dad were? Sleeping in, of course!

The Tooth Fairy!

Yesterday, Angel Boy 2.0 lost his first tooth.

Time really needs to slow down; I remember when he was born almost six years ago. No way this kindergartener not only loses a tooth but writes his first letter to the tooth fairy.

I’m DYING but heart is full. This is a true Winter Solstice miracle!

And you better believe this grandma also got him a gift to memorialize this historic event!

November Edition: Convo #854 with the Angels | Letting Go of Expectations

I found what I THOUGHT was going to be a really fun cooking and art project to do with the Angels…and it didn’t actually turn out as expected.

Focaccia Bread Art is a newish trend where you decorate focaccia with fresh vegetables and herbs to make beautiful edible art. Have you heard of it? It was started during the pandemic shutdown by Teri Culetto. The self-proclaimed Vineyard Baker of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, started creating art with focaccia bread as her canvas.

Focaccia is simple to prepare (see recipe below). I made the dough and cut up all the veggies and herbs, olives and cheese and tofu, so the kids would each have their own canvas to decorate. I parboiled yams and cut them out as jack o’lanterns since it was around Halloween time and themes are always good.

Each child received dough and a platter filled with more than everything they might need because I knew that there would be a lot of eating going on at the same time and that was my secret plan.

Then all hell broke loose with the 5.5 and two-year-old. With only one rolling pin, there wasn’t a whole lot patience while one rolled and one waited, so I had to save the moment and a melt down by creating another one with a dowel I found.

One angel (less than angelic) didn’t like it because their plates were DIFFERENT colors, so I heard a lot of “It’s not fair! Why don’t I have the same exact one!”

Dad solved the issue (which I was planning to ignore) by getting the SAME EXACT plate and all hurt feelings were soothed. With only one child, I didn’t ever have to experience that kind of behavior so it was a learning experience for me, too.

It was such a fun project and they enjoyed themselves so much so we did it another time, too.

Here’s the result from their first attempt….and below it is what I THOUGHT they were going to create. Letting go of expectations and allowing them to create their own masterpieces was a wise decision for sure, even though my OCD was slightly triggered.

It didn’t matter what they looked like, The Angels were very proud of their creations and ate them all up, including all the veggies, so it really was a success!

Do you see any resemblance at all? Nope, me neither.

For more ideas, go to Instagram and search for Focaccia Art and try it yourself!

As you can see, it didn’t matter what it looked like, it was a fun project for the Angels in spite of the sibling rivalry.

Here’s my go-to easy Focaccia Recipe. Pizza dough works great, too

1 + 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 TBS olive oil
Using a heavy duty mixer (or a strong arm) beat all ingredients together for about one minute. The dough will be wet and sticky but resist the urge to add more flour. With the dough hook (or your strong arm) start kneading until the dough becomes elastic. Scrape it into an oiled blow, cover and let rise under double, about two hours. When dough has doubled in size, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Turn dough onto well floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Flatten with your fingers into an 8-9 inch round or rectangle. I had the kids use a rolling pin at first and then they dimpled the dough with their fingers. Brush on olive oil and start decorating with all of your prepped ingredients. Be creative! Let rise for fifteen minutes. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

It’s Halloween!

Wishing everyone a light-filled thinning of the veil on this Samhain.

Angel Boy 2.0 is a firefighter this year (thanks to this Grandma for choosing the perfect costume) and Angel Girl is either going to be a mermaid a la Fancy Nancy or a spider. And me? I’m always a princess…

Halloween

Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta’en,
Beneath the moon’s pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.
Robert Burns-1759-1796

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite 

Convo 918: “I love myself.”

“Look at what I made, Grandma! It’s a sculpture, it’s my creation!”

“That’s absolutely amazing, T! Make sure you put it in a safe place so I can see it the next time I visit, OK?”

And then he was off to play with the little girl next door.

“Gotta go, Grandma, Em’s waiting for me!”

Oh my heart. He’s FIVE YEARS OLD.

That gave us time for Dad to share an incredible story about Angel Girl 2.0. During her bath the previous evening, she stood up, put her arms around herself in a big hug, and said, “I love myself.”

Then she said, “Daddy love yourself, too.” directing him to give himself a hug.

C was napping, so I wasn’t able to chat with her.

T came back for a moment to grab a pile of grapes to share with his friend.

“Hi, Grandma! I’m still playing out front, you know how we do that, right? Em’s chasing me.”

“Hey T, do you love yourself?”

He said, “I love YOU, Grandma”.

I DIED.

“Oh, T, I love you, too. But do you love yourself?”

“Yes, Grandma, I love me too.” (I swear, it’s like talking to a teenager.)

And off he ran.

That boy. *Shaking my head.*

Where and how does a two-year-old acquire that kind of healthy self love? One of my favorite lady docs first shared with me Louise Hay’s suggestion to look in the mirror every day and say, “I love you” to my reflection. At first I scoffed, too embarrassed to look at myself any other way but critically, but because I liked and respected that doc so much, I gave it a try. And kept doing it until it wasn’t so weird. After that, I did some of Hay’s Mirror Work and Inner Child exercises. It’s tough work, that’s for sure, but insightful and nourishing.

That this little girl already has such a beautiful light spirit is glorious. Imagine if everyone felt that way, the world would be a very different place.

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…

Try this Louise Hay Mirror Work exercise for a better morning routine:

  1. When you first wake up in the morning and open your eyes, say these affirmations to yourself: Good morning, bed. Thank you for being so comfortable. I love you. This
    is a blessed day. All is well. I have time for everything I need to do today.
  2. Now take a few more minutes to relax and let these affirmations flow through your mind, then feel them in your heart and throughout the rest of your body.
  3. When you’re ready to get up, go to your bathroom mirror. Look deeply into your eyes. Smile at that beautiful, happy, relaxed person looking back at you!
  4. As you’re looking in the mirror, say these affirmations: Good morning, [Name]. I love you. I really, really love you. There are great experiences coming our way today.
  5. And then say something nice to yourself like: Oh, you look wonderful today. You have the best smile. I wish you a terrific day today.