Layna and the Cat – A Purrfect Pair?

Happy Layna is close to the cat who is trying to act aloof while tracking a lizard.

Happy Layna is close to the cat who is trying to act aloof while tracking a lizard.

We are just coming off of four days (and nights) with my daughter’s children (ages 11, 9, 6 and 2).  Needless to say, I have been in recovery mode for the last two days.  Layna, the two-year-old, is especially active.  She’s adorable, but she will wear you out.

Layna has a thing for cats.  You may or may not remember that my husband Bob and I have a serious No More Pet Pact.  This was enacted after roughly 35 years of pet ownership.  We simply don’t want to be bothered with them anymore.  However, since our son and his wife have temporarily moved in with us, and they have a cat, we’ve had to relax the rule.

Layna could not be more excited about spending time with the cat.  Her poor daddy is highly allergic to them; and after observing her with one, day in and day out, I think they have an effect on her as well.  While she doesn’t break out in a rash or have trouble breathing, she does become very hyper and (for lack of a better word) “catish.”  As for the cat, he’s a nervous wreck.  I think he may be developing an ulcer.

By the end of our time watching the kids, it had become difficult to tell the difference between Layna and the cat.  For example:

  • A cat wants to go in and out all day, so does Layna.
  • A cat walks on all fours, so does Layna.
  • A cat meows, so does Layna – in fact she does more than the cat.
  • A cat’s babies are called kittens. Layna folds her blankie up like a little package and says it’s her baby.  When asked if it’s a girl or boy, she replies, “It’s a meow.”
  • A cat will get up on the table when you aren’t looking. Layna will, too.
  • A cat eats its food from a bowl without the use of hands. Yep, you guessed it – Layna does, too.
  • A cat uses the litter box in the bathroom to go pee-pee. Layna is happy to take her diaper off and go pee-pee in the shower.
  • If a cat is trapped in a room behind a closed door, you can often see its paws protruding from beneath the door. Layna does that, too (only her paws are called hands).
  • A cat is easily occupied by chasing a red laser light around the room. That keeps Layna busy, too.
  • A cat will sleep 16 hours a day.  If only Layna would, too!



Even in Sadness, Light Shines Through

June 4, 2014, was the last time I posted on my blog.  I am determined to post before July ends, so here I go with a snapshot of what the last several weeks have looked like.

June was Family Eye Doctor Appointment Month – at least it was for my parents and father-in-law.  During one week I had four separate appointments for them with a total of six appointments in three weeks.  They all go to the same group.  I am the transportation and extra set of ears for my parents and the “seeing-eye-daughter” for my father-in-law.  (He’s legally blind.)  I think I’m making friends there.

In mid-June, Bob’s two sisters came down to visit their dad.  Bob’s and my prayer was that he would be healthy and they would have a good visit.  His tendency to contract UTIs (urinary tract infections) would often land him in the hospital.  We hoped he wouldn’t be going through that or anything else during their stay.

God is good.  Their visit was amazing.  They spent a week with him and saw him every day.  Bob and his sisters took him out to lunch, which can be challenging.  It was a special time with him and his three kids.  They had great conversations and walked down memory lane.  There were no incidents.  The new declines that we were beginning to see were barely noticeable during their stay.  We were so thankful.

Two days after they went home, he fell.  A few days later on June 30, Bob and I were heading over to visit my parents to celebrate my dad’s 91st birthday when we got a call that he fell again and was being sent to the ER.

He was admitted.  We all thought it was a UTI, but it was not.  I think he was worn out.  It was his time.  On July 4, he was moved to Hospice House.  On July 7, he passed away at the age of 91.  It had been a long year for him, full of challenges physically and consequently emotionally.  We are thankful that he is now at rest in Heaven.

How kind of God to give such a wonderful final visit with his daughters.  And we are thankful for Hospice House – a place to die with dignity surrounded by people who understand, comfort and help.

On the last day that he was fully responsive, I spent several hours with him in the hospital.  He was living in his past and talking vividly about it.  I joined in his conversation like I was there with him.  Having known him for over forty years, it was not difficult.  I’ll always remember how happy he was on that day and how much he enjoyed reminiscing.  I had heard of things like this happening right before the end of life here on earth.  It was remarkable to witness.

The last thing he ever asked of me was to scratch his nose.  I think they had given him some meds that made it itch.  I gave it a good rubbing.  He said, “No, that’s not getting it.  The inside itches.  Scratch the inside.”

“Sorry, Dad, you’re on your own,” I told him.  He was not shy about asking people to do for him.  I don’t feel badly about not granting this last request plus it made him laugh when I said no.

Dale (Bob's dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

Dale (Bob’s dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

He also talked about his projects.  Right to the end, he was concerned about them.  For the last six months our daughter-in-law, Aubyron, had been more or less his secretary.  When she and our son moved back to Orlando, she wanted to help; so we hired her to see him weekly, take dictation from him and transcribe those last pesky stories that he had not completed.  Her duties also included delivering Icy Hot and Listerine and the occasional manicure and tweezing of the nose hair.  (This was not part of the original job description.)  She provided Bob and me with much-needed relief and she enjoyed visiting Grandpa.

When he died, we sent messages to our friends telling them that Bob’s dad had passed.  One of our friends asked us, “Hey, what was Bob’s dad’s name?”  He was always Bob’s dad or Mr. Anderson to them.  His name was Dale.  Among other things, he was a writer.  He encouraged me in my writing.  That being said, I guess I better buckle down and write.  That would make him happy.

Laura Bush, Muhammad Ali and Mary, Queen of Scots, Walked into a Room

One day Ella, our eight-year-old granddaughter, was visiting us.  She pulled out a biography of Laura Bush, whom she had been reading about over the last few weeks of school.  She shared all the facts she could remember with enthusiasm and answered several questions.  I told her about a time several years ago when I donned a wig and a pantsuit to dress as Mrs. Bush and joined my friend John Morgan at an event.  John is a George W. Bush impersonator.

Early in his career I would catch John glancing at me with that I-have-a-brilliant-idea look in his eyes.  “You look like Laura,” he would say.  “I know,” I’d answer.  “You’re creeping me out!”

John and his wife Kathy are among our closest friends.  Kathy used to impersonate Laura Bush and stand next to her husband during his gigs.  This was an extreme act of love for Kathy, who prefers to be more behind the scenes.  One day, Kathy couldn’t (or maybe wouldn’t) help her husband out, so she brought me the wig and talked me into standing in for her.  I guess that made me a Laura Bush impersonator impersonator.   I have to say – I know how Kathy feels!  I am glad for that once-in-a-lifetime experience but am happy to keep it as just that.

This story, along with what she was reading, made an impression on Ella; because when her third grade class prepared to put on a Wax Museum, she already knew who she wanted to be.  That’s right, Madame Curie.  Just kidding!

20140603-210624-75984499.jpgShe was very excited to gather her costume and become Laura Bush.  Our wonderful friends lent her the Laura Bush wig, so she was good to go.  Ella was also committed to helping her friends with their costumes.  One friend was going to be a queen, and she didn’t have a robe; so Ella borrowed an old kids’ robe from our house for her.  I struggled to see how Mary, Queen of Scots, was going to look regal in a faded blue bathrobe; but that was a problem for someone else.

The day of the Wax Museum arrived and the children were in position.  You would stop in front of each student and they would recite a small biography of the person they were dressed as.  A tri-fold board was behind them with more information on their subject.  Ella nailed her recitation.  As I checked out the museum,  I was happy to see that Mary, Queen of Scots, was not wearing a bathrobe.  That had been passed on to Muhammad Ali, who wore it well, along with a pair of boxing gloves.  I was also relieved that Mary was far from Queen Elizabeth I.  If you remember your history, you know that could have gotten ugly!


Don’t Look Away

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement…

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I write about the lighter side of life (hence the name).  I typically don’t take on the weightier things.  My fear of art stores, or cute things my grandchildren say, or my questionable behavior toward customer service people would be about as heavy as I get.

For today, though, I have something that I’d like to share with you.  It is the farthest thing from light and funny.  It is something that I am just learning about, and it’s a huge problem world-wide.  But it’s not the world-wide part that got to me.  It’s the national and local side.  The issue is human trafficking.

I have a dear friend who is championing a cause to help educate parents, grandparents and young people about this danger, which has become even more prevalent due to social media.

So, just for today, would you consider watching a teaser for a film he is working on? He, along with a small team he is working with, has a heart to save children from these horrors by educating them and the adults who love them.  He wants eyes to be opened.  The goal is prevention.  Click here to watch the teaser.

Eventually, the completed film will be available to view FREE on-line.  Meanwhile, the team is looking for financial support as they focus on making this film, which is what they are compelled to do to help prevent even one more young person from falling victim to this heinous crime.  Thanks for taking the time to watch and for allowing me this interruption to my regular blog.  I appreciate you.

If you’d like more information to help finance this project, click on this link

Art Store Alien

Today I ventured into unknown territory. I went to a store that has the word “art” in it. Even on the coldest of days I will break out in a sweat if I enter a Joanne Fabrics or Michael’s Arts and Crafts. If there is a sewing section in the store then I don’t belong there – I’m like an alien in a foreign land. I don’t speak their language. They use words I do not understand, like thread and notions.

But this shopping trip was not about sewing or crafts, it was about shaving. The Art of Shaving is a hip (do people still say that?) little store at the Mall at Millenia on the other side of Orlando. I went in to buy a gift for my son, Joe, who is graduating with his PhD. (We’re so proud of him. Congratulations, Joe!)

20140506-212912.jpgThis store is definitely a man’s world – the testosterone was palpable, yet it had a salon feel. I told the salesman that this was my first time in his store and he gave me a quick tutorial of the four elements of the perfect shave.

“Interesting. Are you anything like the Clinique counter at Macy’s? Do you have gift sets or promotions?” I asked, grasping for a point of comparison to my world.

He showed me their gift sets. Like Clinique they are quality products which are pricier and better than what you find in a drug store, but unlike Clinique there is no Bonus Time in which free products are given with a purchase.

He expounded. “We have four different scents of shaving cream – lavender, lemon, sandalwood and unscented,” the salesman said as he lifted the unscented variety to my nose for me to smell.

“Is this a trick?” I asked.

He didn’t even blink.

That’s when I began to suspect that The Art of Shaving is a very serious place.

Next he showed me the shaving brushes. “This is a badger brush,” he said.

I replied, “I don’t have a badger. Do you have a dog brush?”

He didn’t crack a smile. He just looked at me with the same look my kids give me when I say something hysterically funny and they don’t get it. I broke it down for him, but you lose a lot when you have to explain things.

I felt like my gig was up, so I made my purchase and left. To his credit, the salesman gave me a few extra samples of products (my own little bonus time – oh yeah!).

The store was quite the classy place – I can see why guys would like the atmosphere and the products; but for me, it’s just another “art” store for my list. I can visit, but I may need my passport and a guide.




From Two to Ninety-Two

Easter Sunday afternoon has changed a lot for us over the years. Bob and I have always lived close to my parents. For the most part, we were the only of my four siblings that lived near them, and we’ve never lived close to Bob’s family. That made for fairly easy holiday celebrations. Mom and I would take turns having events at our houses. We’d flip Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, but until the kids were teenagers, we usually ended up at their house for Easter afternoon.

They had a beautiful backyard on a small lake.  The beach area was dotted with palm trees and citrus trees lined the edges.  Mom loved hiding Easter eggs and the kids loved the hunt. Those times were uncomplicated. Once in a while relatives or some friends were there, but things still fell on Mom and me; and we liked it fine. My mom and I could throw together a holiday dinner with hardly a thought. We just split things in half. We each had our specialties.

This Easter we met at our house. We equals Bob, me and our four kids, three spouses, six grandkids (plus one in the oven), my mom who is 86, Dad who is 90, and Bob’s dad who says he’s 92 but is really 91.

That means there are five wives to cook. What a spread we could put on! What culinary masterpieces we could display. How our taste buds could be titillated! But I choose Costco, the happiest place on earth. Nothing beats picking up a spiral ham (no slicing), Hawaiian rolls, redskin potato salad and a vegetable tray. Throw in paper plates and you have yourself a perfect day. Okay, we did have homemade deviled eggs and desserts – we’re still human.

It has taken me a while to be able to admit this publicly, but simply put – it’s time for me to simplify where I can. 20140425-141648.jpgI’ll also admit that when I see Facebook posts of lovely tables set up in anticipation of Easter lunch, I feel a little guilty, but the feeling disappears as fast as a bowl full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.

20140425-113424.jpgThose wonderful, simple days of eight of us celebrating together are gone. I love having 18.25 of us together and look forward to the number growing. The challenge for me is remembering it’s about enjoying the people, and I don’t want to be so worn out from prepping and cleaning up that I don’t get to relax and play with them. Also, our people span 90 years. That means keeping the floor clear for a walker and a wheelchair, making sure I have my dad’s favorite root beer on hand, and giving Bob’s dad some time to tell a story to his grandkids and spouses. It also means having a portacrib for the youngest with a sound machine to drown out noise, and taking some time to play a board game with the kids. And, of course, there are always activities beyond the egg hunt in the backyard. Our oldest son is great about getting the kids outside and active. We have the added joy of our neighbors’ grandkids playing with ours – three generations of friends.

The Quest for the Golden Egg

The Quest for the Golden Egg

We are an exhausting group, so Bob’s and my parents don’t stay as long as they used to. My mom brings bags of treats, but now they’re for her great-grandchildren. We still have the egg hunt as the Big Deal of the Day.  My kids and I hide the eggs and Mom watches us.  I think she loves watching the children scour the yard for treasure more than any of us. I like to observe my mom. She stores up treasures in her heart more than the kids store eggs in their baskets. I want to be like her.


And let’s not forget about Jesus.  I’m not sure how we went from the resurrection of our Savior to dying and hiding eggs, but I don’t want Jesus to get lost in the shuffle.  When my oldest son was little, he and his buddy were into action figures.  They had all the usuals and a few unusual ones.  Among those were Jesus and Moses.

20140425-141704.jpgThis past week I found Jesus in the top of my closet, just in time for Easter.  I handed him to my grandson.  He couldn’t guess who it was and tossed him aside in favor of the Millennium Falcon.  I picked Jesus up and set him on the mantel among the chicks and bunnies.  He looked out-of-place, but I know better.



Disaster Date

Two people were standing at the edge of a parking space, looking like they had locked their keys in their car. Completely oblivious to the world, they peered inside the car window with hands cupped around their eyes as we gently pulled into our parking space.

The man finally became aware of us. He smiled as he dramatically pretended like we hit him. I rolled my window down and said, “I wasn’t sure you noticed us.”

He replied, “I noticed you. By the way, I’m John Morgan (a famous local attorney).” Of course, he wasn’t, but he was thoroughly entertained by his own comment. The woman – not so much.

At this point I’m trying to roll up my window so I can get out of my car and he is leaning inside of our car laughing. He obviously was enjoying himself more than the rest of us were. I raised my window and squeezed myself out past him while Bob quickly came to my side of the car. I thought to myself – this guy thinks he’s funny; I’ll show him funny.

“So,” I asked, “are you two breaking into this car?”

“Oh, no, no, we’re on a date,” he said.  Then he asked us how long we had been married.

“Nearly 39 years,” we answered.

That blew him away. He was so impressed that we were out on a date together after being married for such a long time. He waxed on and on about the importance of dating each other all through marriage. He pulled out his phone and showed us a picture of a couple he had just met at Publix. They were not friends. He met them and took their picture.  I guess that makes them strangers of his. He asked us to guess how long the couple in the picture had been married. (Seventy years, if you’re interested. None of us were.)

We told him that our relationship with Jesus was the thing that made our marriage successful. Then he told us about his church and warned us not to visit it or we would never like our church again – all this while chucking. The woman never said a thing, probably because it’s hard to speak when there’s never a quiet moment.

One of the Most Famous Disasters in History – The Sinking of the Titanic

Then came the kicker. He proudly announced, “This is our first date. We met on www.lookingforadatewithsomeonewholovesmeasmuchasido.yikes.”

I asked this quiet young lady if she would like us to stay with her. I told her that we have a daughter, and we would look out for her like our own daughter if necessary.

At that the man said, “Well, if this date doesn’t work out, maybe I could meet your daughter.”

After the shock wore off, I said, “Our daughter is married and has four children, but if she weren’t – no. No way whatsoever.”

If this guy had any hope of a second date, I think that went down with the ship. Maybe we should have hit him with our car. It would have spared that poor young lady a really awkward conversation. On the other hand, when she’s with her friends and they are sharing disaster date stories, I think she has a real shot at winning.


I saw the movie Noah and can’t pass up the opportunity to review it. You may be thinking – what kind of movie review can I give that would be consistent with my blog, Life on the Lighter Side? So, I have come up with a list of all the “light” moments of the movie.

Here it is:

1. Uh, let me think. There must be one somewhere.

2. No, nothing light about that.

3. Sigh…  I don’t recall any light moments.

This is not a light subject. The story is about God being grieved with the corruption and violence on the earth and His plan to use Noah to build an ark to preserve mankind and animals.  Judgment.  Redemption.

The film is based on scripture, but it is fictionalized, of course. Without a doubt, creative license is used. There are no first-hand accounts of how the ark was assembled. By now (spoiler alert) you probably know about the “rock people” that helped Noah. These creatures didn’t bother me at all. They made me think of the scripture from Luke 19. After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowd was joyfully praising God in loud voices. Some Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke his disciples. Here’s Jesus’ reply from Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I know it’s a stretch, but I couldn’t help but think that if stones would cry out praises to God, God could make them into creatures to build an ark with Noah. God is all-powerful and creative, after all. Of course, He also could have sent angels to help or He could have spoken pieces of the ark into place.  He could have given Noah the strength of ten Noahs, plus one.  He has so many options!

The part I really didn’t like about the movie was the depiction of Noah’s and God’s relationship. I wanted to see more that reflected this. Genesis 6 tells us that Noah walked with God and that makes me say, “Wow!” I do appreciate the difficulty of capturing that on film, especially by people who admittedly don’t walk with God. Of course, movie producers and directors have their own level of power, and I don’t expect any scriptural accuracy at all, but the lack in this area ruined the movie for me. Okay, ruin may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean (or do you?).

In closing, I need to tell you that Bob and I went with another couple from church to see the film.  We had differing views of it.  Bob thought the movie was terrible.  I thought it was okay if you took away the fact that it was supposed to be about Noah and pretended it was an action flick about some guy building a boat to avoid a flood. Our friend liked it and even applauded at the end.  That said, I guess you shouldn’t pre-judge what your reaction will be.

Here’s one of my favorite “theologians” telling the story of God calling Noah to build the ark.  Enjoy!



I Really Don’t Know What I’m Doing (and it doesn’t bother me too much either)

I’ve just had it confirmed that technology has left me behind. As a side note, I’m not surprised. Here are a few examples.

We have a Wii. We have this primarily because my husband and I love to play Tetris and Doctor Mario. Of course, like any self-respecting adults, we say we have it for the grandchildren. No one believes us. It’s probably because we are so darn good at those games. Bob and I frequently play World Championships of the Day to see who will be the reigning Master of Doctor Mario. I couldn’t tell you who has the title right now, not because I’m modest if I won or upset because I lost. It’s because I never remember. I should write it down. When we were younger we did keep a running tally, but now we have gone beyond those childish ways. Look how we’ve matured!

I didn't even attempt to set up this controller

It’s nice to have an uncle around to set things up.

Last weekend our grandsons who are six and seven were staying with us. I had the extreme challenge of setting up a different game for them – not only a different game but one that used a different controller. This proved too much for me. When one of my sons came home he helped me with my dilemma and delicately mentioned that the Wii is outdated technology. Ouch. The truth hurts. Another of my sons said he only has to tell his x-box to turn on and it does. That’s the kind of immediate obedience I always wanted from my kids!

Then there’s the whole TV thing. Everyone has a different cable provider or uses a satellite dish or hooks things through a gaming system. There are like nine controllers sitting around any given living room and they all mock me. I remember having to walk across the room to turn on the TV. Yes, all the way across a room! The only thing that remotely resembled a TV control for me was my little sister.

So now, I have a daughter who has no cable or dish system. She has a computer hooked up to her TV and a two-year-old daughter who hides the mouse. There is no sense in even trying to watch TV there.

As I mentioned, one of my sons has an x-box that is voice commanded. I don’t think it recognizes my voice and I am a little afraid I’ll mess the whole thing up. After the TV is on, will it tell me what to do? Actually, that would be helpful.

Another son has a dish system. He has step-by-step written instructions for me so that I can watch TV. It’s still challenging. When I was trying to turn it on for my grandsons, one of them asked me, “Do you even know how to turn the TV on?”

Well, I did it. I proved him wrong. It took me ten minutes, but I got that TV on and left it on for the remainder of my stay there. Why tempt fate?


I Feel Like a Princess (sort of)

I am a not-so-old, pretty princess. How’s that for self-affirmation?

This is not a sudden realization. It’s a quote from my eight-year-old granddaughter Ella. Let me back up a little.

I picked my grandchildren up from school for my daughter one day last week. Ella and her younger brother and sister were in the backseat. Mia, who is ten, was up front with me. When I have my grandkids, the pressure is always on to do something other than just go home. I decided to go through the car wash. This is literally a cheap thrill for them (and it gets my car cleaned).

Afterwards, we headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee for me and donuts for them. (All right, who am I kidding? I wanted donuts, too.) Somewhere along the way, Mia told me something she had noticed about me. Something that I would just as soon have no one notice about me. Thankfully, it was just an observation about the way I look – at this season in my life, I can deal with that.

“Well,” I explained to her, “When you get older your body does weird things.” (How is that for the understatement of the year?)

Now, Mia loves me like crazy and about this point she likely realized she was treading on shaky ground. She said, “Oh, Grandmom, you don’t look old. You look like you’re in your forties.”

With that, Ella commented, “No, she looks like she’s in her thirties!”

“Wow,” I said, “that makes me practically your mom’s big sister. That might be taking me back a little too far.”

Ella replied, “I don’t know, Grandmom, but I think you look like a not-so-old, pretty princess.”

We left it there. It doesn’t get any better than that.

And, while I’m on the subject of my grandkids, as I write this I’m at my other set of grandchildren’s house while my son and his wife are away for a few days. It’s a school day, so we were up early. My seven-year-old grandson cuddled up on the couch under a blanket and asked if he could watch a show.

“Does Mom let you watch a show before you go to school?” I asked being fairly certain of the answer.

“Well, Grandmom, you’re in charge now,” he replied. They sure learn how to work the system early!


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