sun, childhood memory, sunriseDo you have a “first” moment – the moment you first remember as a child?

Most of us can’t recall the first few years of our life – the babyhood of crying or teething or ruining our parents’ sleep. We can only believe our moms when they tell us that if they didn’t give us enough attention we emptied the flower pot, then played with the dirt on the rug, or how we crawled out of our crib at nighttime and slid under the card table during bridge night, refusing to come out.

Fortunately, my first moment is not of getting spanked or being denied a second cookie.paper dolls, childhood, play Continue reading

I Want My Nap! few weeks ago my man and I take two of our son’s three little boys for four hours of fun, fun, fun with PaPa and Pammy.

We drive the 45-mintues to pick them up, making plans along the way: walk in the park, an hour in the new playground near our house, a swim at the local pool, maybe we’d even have time to bake cookies!

After car seats are maneuvered into the back seat, the 3-year-old and 4-year-old grandsons are strapped in, and we make the noisy ride back to our place amidst:

When are we getting there?” “Where’s Henry the dog?” “Can we sit on Henry?” How does a dog get arthritis?”  “What IS arthritis?” “Can I have a drink?” “I’m hungry!” “How much longer?”

When we arrive, the 4-year-old plops himself on the lounge chair in our deck overlooking the Bay, puts his hand behind his head, and exclaims, “What a view! I’m going to sit here allll day.”

The 3-year-old has found the puzzles I store in the kids’ closet and throws the pieces of all three, together, across the living room floor.puzzle, nap, grandkids

“Man-to-man coverage,” my guy suggests. He takes the puzzle tot, I take the “unmovable boy” who now has found the bookcase in the hallway and asks, to my delight, “Read this one, Pammy!”

Six books later, the 4-year-old insists he wants to read all day.

Llama Llam time to share, grandkids, reading, books“Let’s go to the playground,” I suggest.

“No! I want Llama Llama Time to Share again!”

In the meantime, Henry the dog has a puzzle piece in his ear, and the man-to-man defense is weakening.

We squeeze in a 15-minute trip to the pool and a few bites of peanut butter and jelly, but it’s close to nap time, when we promised the munchkins’ parents we’d bring them home.

The 4-year-old begs, “can’t we stay and reeeeeaaaaaaaadddddddddd?”

The 3-year-old insists: “I want my mommy!”

So we hustle to the car and begin the ride back.

Five minutes into the drive a sound as loud as 20 chalk pieces screeching on a board emits from the back seat. My guy and I jump so high our heads hit the car roof.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, turning around to check on the distressed 3-year-old.

I WANT MY NAAAPPPPP!” he screams.

Huh. I thought parents begged children to nap, not the other way around.

The 4-year-old consoles his brother: “It’s okay, you can nap in the car.”

NOOO!” his younger brother retorts. “I need my MOMMY, then I can NAP!”

A tense ride ensues, with a strangled sound coming from the 3-year-old’s side every so often: “Naaaaaappppppp!!!”

In a record 39.5 minutes, we deliver our charming grandchildren to their relieved parents.

“You’re late!” our son exclaims.

As I unbuckle the blonde-haired, sweet-as a-snowball 3-year-old from his seat, he strokes my face lightly.

“Pammy?” he says softly.


“I love you.”

Ah, I’m a good grandmother, I sigh to myself, until the little one continues: “But I’m not coming to your house ever again.”

Defeated, I give him a light kiss with a chuckle and hand him off to his mother for a long afternoon’s nap.

On the way home, my guy drives over the speed limit. I gaze at him quizzically.

“I need my nap, NOW,” he exclaims.

Which only proves that little boys never truly grow up.

nap, grandchildren, grandparents

Hmmm, is it nap time?

Why I Hated Halloween

Grinning Halloween lantern vector illustration.I wasn’t the kind of parent who produced daily  science/art/math projects for my children, or thought up of special field trips once a week, or was creative in any way.

In my mind, that meant I didn’t stack up any “good parenting” awards. I hated working on anything “arts & crafty,” which included just about everything except reading a children’s book out loud.

So when school began each year, and the air became crisper, leaner, more aromatic, I began to gnaw my fingernails.

Halloween would arrive sooner than I wanted, and any time was too soon.

Because I hated Halloween.

I just wasn’t good at it.

“What can I be this year? young daughter would ask by mid-October.

And every year, I’d respond the same: “A gypsy?”

Halloween, costume, gypsy costumeI have photos of her when she was 4, and 5, and 6 (and beyond!) wearing one of my old patterned skirts and a worn down shirt, strands of costume necklaces, a bunch of bangles, a neck scarf around her head, and lots of red rouge and lipstick.

Viola! A gypsy girl.

My little boy, however, came home with tales of his friends’ moms making them elaborate ghost costumes, or turning them into Luke Skywalker, or even worse, fashioning cardboard boxes into honest-to-goodness real looking silver rockets.

“No,” I always stated. Sadly, yet defiantly. “Your mom doesn’t do that.”papter bag, Halloween

So most Halloweens, my boy insisted on wearing a paper bag over his head, with holes for the eyes, and a pair of my old cowboy boots.

“I’m a monster,” he’d insist, year after year.

But the year our family splurged for a vacation to Hawaii, I got clever.

Not artsy crafty, but clever.

I came home with children-sized Hawaiian shirts, grass Hula skirts, and plastic leis. When I showed the kids their Halloween costume the third week of October, the expressions were less than enthusiastic, but they appeased me and wore them on the 31st.

Halloween costume

Happy Halloween…?

That was the year my boy’s best friend’s mom sewed her little guy a huge green Tyrannosaurus outfit, the kind that could win a ‘BEST KID’S COSTUME IN THE WORLD’ award. Trexbig

My daughter’s best friend’s mom dressed her little pumpkin in a glittery pink and purple fairy queen outfit with gossamer fairy wings and sparkly silver shoes that lit up when she walked.

My children came home from trick or treating early that year, claiming they were tired, no joyous shouts as they counted their candy treasure.

I suggested they change best friends.

Then I castigated myself for not being a good creative parent.

However …

            Every October

                         I read to my kids

                                    a LOT of terrific Halloween books.

That should count, shouldn’t it?

Halloween books, Halloween


bookworm, reading, booksI lust for well-written, fast-paced, fabulously thought-out novels.

After a long week of work, with early morning risings, daily walks with the dog, constant work challenges (have you made a postcard, on-line, lately?), a week that is lengthened by attending night-time board meetings and teaching writing classes, baking homemade cookies for sick friends, and creating scrumptious dinners for my man (I say with tongue in cheek) — after a week like that, I adore an empty weekend ahead, with no plans but to sit down with a good book.

Even now, with a day left to the week, I pine for the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend, which will bring me to my soft burgundy chair (or sunny deck chair), dog at my feet, sunny gorgeous view of the SF bay (a view I ignore once engrossed), and a tome of fiction on my lap – in hardback, softback, orreading, good books Kindle format.

I hold back the urge to escape until Saturday afternoon, after I’ve taken my long weekend walk, meditated through my yoga class, picked up groceries for the weekend, and begun a load of laundry.

Then, then the need for a good read is as palpable as a strong, urgent, irritating itch.

I brew a cup of chamomile, sling on my soft comfy sweatshirt, plop down on my chair, and sigh with passionate desire to enter a new world.

book magic

Magic Book © Mariia Pazhyna

How about you? Are you a lusty, dreamy, passionate bookworm too?

(In the past month, I’ve chortled over Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, held my breath during the entire 940 pages of Winter of the World, and now, am chewing my nails over The Ophelia Cut. Next up? The Language of Flowers.)

reading time, books, children's books, grandmothering

Oh, and how can I forget the funny saga of The Pirates Next Door, by Jonny Duddle?


Who Am I? Who Are You?

Who Am I?I’m a curly-haired woman who loves fairytale fantasy, long walks along the water, communing silently with babies and animals, and reading for hours in a deep plush chair while sipping Tropical Green tea.

I dislike vapid vain chatter; inconsiderate drivers who turn without blinking; wayward souls who act as if they run the world; grocery carts with broken wheels; men who pinch women’s rears (yes, still!); unanswered e-mails; unplucked eyebrows; arguments; orange vests; and fruit drinks.

My heart soars with the soft, whisper-filled kisses of little ones; a sun salutation on a Hawaiian beach; a spontaneous loud laugh m&m'sfrom a coworker; a handful of M&M’s, particularly the green or blue ones; a sudden embrace from my irreplaceable guy.

The sounds I most enjoy: the swish of pens on paper (and the clack of a laptop) during one of my creative writing classes; the pounding surf on the New Jersey seashore; the beat of a Beatles tune; the bark of Henry, the dog, as he sits in front of his cookie jar,; the beginning melody of The Nutcracker Suite ballet; the soft plop of an omelet-filled plate placed in front of me at a sunny San Francisco corner café; the ‘hello Pammy’ call from my effervescent magnetic mom.

Hawaiian beach, solitude, happiness, loveLife is worthwhile because of soft classical music on a cold Sunday morning; two-hour conversations with a long-time friend; a tall diffident son who stares deeply into my eyes and says, ‘Love you, Mom’; a 2-year-old grandchild who sits quietly, attentively on my lap while listening to Good Night Moon; a foggy afternoon writing stories about people I’ve never met; a man who runs out to buy my special Earl Gray tea latte, non-fat milk with foam at 6:15 in the morning; a beautiful daughter who wears her heart on every sleeve and her love in her morning glory eyes.

That’s who I am.

Who are you?