The Caregiver

Me, Maddie, Wil, Lucas and Jacob

2 Timothy 3:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I knew I was in trouble when agreeing to add another day to caring for two of my grandsons. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my grandkids, but finding things to occupy their days has made for a summer of adventure.

So far they have participated in a science camp, learning to build a robot. When I picked them up from the camp they said a kid was bullying them. Jacob said, “Grandma, this kid said that I attract mosquitos, and I even took a shower today!” Lucas claimed the same kid kicked him in the head. I told the boys to point out the bully, and that I would wait in the bushes and attack him. Then we just laughed it off.

one day of  art class, really?

They only attended one art class. This class was a freebee from Groupon. The boys did not want to go back, in Lucas’ words, “I will never go back to that class. The teachers drew everything for us, and plus they don’t even speak English.” He was right about them not speaking English; I believe that they were speaking in Farsi. They disliked this class so much that they didn’t even like for me to drive past the art studio.

These kids live on their tablets, and that drives me crazy. I had a choice: let them become hypnotized on their devices, or think of activities that allow body movement.

We made up a list of things we could do. They protested almost everything on the agenda, with the exception of getting ice cream (of course!) Monday is going to be dedicated to going to the Orange Library and joining a book club. Lucas wanted nothing to do with that, but I forced him to check out two books. Jacob was excited to join the club, boasting to the librarian about how intelligent he is, and that his reading level is much higher than kids of his age. Then he added how good he was in math too. I couldn’t take another word, “Please, Jacob, tell the lady how humble you are too!”

Sweet Paco and Jake reading
Lucas reading

When we got back from the library, for the first few hours all was quiet and the boys were enthralled in their books. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. These boys were really reading! We had come to a consensus that if they read for an hour then they could use their devices for a half an hour. I left the room and, sure enough, Lucas turned on his Chromebook. The battle was on, and Lucas insisted that the books that the librarian chose were above his reading level. He desperately tried to prove his argument by asking both Suri and Alexa, neither of which gave the answer that he was looking for. They never do.

In frustration I yelled, “Lucas, I do not want to hear another excuse for you not reading! Get your book out and read!”                                                                                                                                                                                          “But grandma, how can you expect me to read a book that is too hard to understand!                                                       I’ll prove it to you!”                                                                                                                                                                  “No, you’re going to read!” I answered.

Lucas wanted so badly to prove his theory so he asked for my phone and looked up Lexile. I had never heard of this system that measures the reading level of books. It took him a good half hour to prove that, indeed, this book was meant for 7th grade reading. He’s entering 4th grade, but I still have my  suspicions.

Lucas and Jacob, Miraculous Meda

On Wednesdays we will be learning about saints or Bible stories. This week we studied the life of  St. Catherine Labouré, a French nun and visionary. The Blessed Mother appeared to her and instructed her to make a medal with this prayer written on it: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. The Blessed Mother also said that those who wear the medal with trust will receive many graces.

St. Catherine’s incorruptible body, The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Paris, France

I have been to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France several times. I always go into the small shop adjacent to the church and purchase Miraculous Medals to share with others. In our home there are  three drawers dedicated to all the small religious purchases I’ve made when I travel. I found some durable yarn and threaded two Miraculous Medals for the boys to wear.

Soon we will be studying about St. Francis of Assisi. I looked on Amazon to purchase a book about this holy saint but refused to pay $7. Instead we drove over to The Bookman, a popular used book store in Orange. There I found a treasure of St. Francis books for $27. It’s a lost cause and inevitable: this summer is going be filled with me spending money.

Our precious Maddie
Wil, best 12 year old basketball player

My other two grandkids are so busy that their parents barely see them. Maddie has soccer camp all week, trying out for the high school team and practicing for her club team as well. She is also taking a summer health class, and will be trying out for the volleyball team in July. Wil is busy with basketball camps, two so far, and now he has taken up skateboarding. He is a gifted athlete and fascinating to watch. I imagine that my poor daughter-in-law Jenny is worn out with all the driving she has to do.

Next week the boys will go to visit family in Minnesota. You’d think I’d get a break, but no, their obnoxious dog Paco is staying with us. There is a slight possibility that this dog could be bipolar. He barks at airplanes, butterflies, and whatever his keen ears pick up on. You cannot walk Paco in public; I learned that the hard way. We were almost to the house when an old man with a black lab approached us. “Can they be friends?” He asked. I was about to open my mouth to yell, “No!” when that half-a-dog Paco  tore out of his leash and attacked a dog twice his size. In a panic I tried to get ahold of him and was knocked on my butt. I leashed him again, and again he went after the dog. The old man who  was walking the black lab was in shock. I was in complete humiliation, having to drag my battered body off the cement only to witness scene two. The dog fight was loud and seemed overly dramatic. Then I saw the old man give Paco a swift kick to stop the altercation. In disbelief  I watched with my mouth fully extended as I heard the old man saying, “Wow! Wow!” as he walked away.

Other than being the biggest jerk dog, he can also be the most loving.

There has to be a balance when being a grandparent. Above all I am going to teach them to love God.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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A Dress for a Special Wedding

Everyone looks forward to a wedding, right? Well, maybe not so much the men, but women do. We love to be part of a celebration that brings two people together in the eyes of God. We come alongside them to support the decision that they have made to become one in the Sacrament of Marriage. We also get to dress up.

The Dutch Dress

I decided to shop for a dress early so that I would not be pressured into not knowing what to wear. I do not own a lot of dresses, and the dressier clothes that I have are more for winter. I tried ordering clothes online, but it never really works in my favor. One dress that I ordered online looked more like a Dutch costume; the only thing missing were the wooden shoes.

Next I went to a high-end store and tried on a whole slew of dresses. I had a specific idea of the dress I wanted to wear, a midi dress with three-quarter length sleeves.

I forgot about the 10 pounds that I had intended to lose before for event, but that is usually the case. The days come so fast lately that I honestly put off the dieting, and now, three days before the wedding; my weight remains the same. The great news is that no added weight gain means that my clothes still fit.

Floral print dress

I went shopping by myself, and that can be dangerous, because you are your only honest critic. The salesladies want to make a commission and are afraid to operate in truth. Nowadays, the word “opinion” has spilled into the sales floors because, God forbid, we may get insulted and write a bad review on Yelp.

Most of the dresses that I tried on were just okay; as nothing really shouted out, “This is the one!” I did love one dress, but I could not get the darn side zipper to close all the way, I needed an extra large. Side zippers, and invisible zippers are the worst. If Mike is not home, I cannot wear anything with a side zipper because he has to zip it up for me. Invisible zippers, always get caught up in the material; then you’re stuck trying to solve a problem only women go through.

I decided to purchase a dress with a large floral prints. I came home and tried the dress on with spanx’s (a woman’s best kept secret) and modeled it for Mike. “I guess it’s okay, but did you know that your bra is hanging out?” he said. “Yes, I know, I guess I’ll have to take it back to get it altered,” I answered. When your husband tells you that your dress is “just okay” you need to get another dress.

We had to take a short trip to Las Vegas for Mike’s business. While Mike tended to his work obligations, I went shopping. I walked into the same high-end store, and saw the dress that I loved. Again, but no extra large. I also saw the dress that I purchased and started to hate it. All of a sudden the flowers on the dress seemed much bigger, and I felt like the dress was more for a luau. Now I was on a mission to find the right dress.

My favorite, but side zipper issues

Mike and I had a quick breakfast in Vegas, and as he was leaving, I remembered the saleslady telling me that there was one extra large dress (my favorite) somewhere in the Midwest. I did not pray about this at all, but felt a rush of adrenaline as I pressed the button on my phone and ordered the dress.

I tried the beautiful dress on, but something went wrong: the stubborn zipper would not budge, and it was way too long. So now I had two stupid dresses for the wedding.

Before I retuned the dresses to the store, I went to a discount department store. There I found the perfect dress for so much less money, but it was sleeveless; so now the mission was to find the right shrug. The good Lord was on my side, and I found the perfect shrug. I made the purchase and was pleased with all the money I saved.

I returned the two dresses, and prayed that sales person would not ask why I was returning them, because I have a habit of being brutally honest, even in these trivial matters. I did not want to say that both of dresses were stupid.

I shared my story with my daughter Sonja, and told her that I had returned the two dresses. “So what are you going to wear?” she asked. I told her about my great find, and then she asked, “What color is it?” “Ecru,” I answered. “You can’t wear that color, it’s too close to white. Only the bride can wear white!” Sonja was animated in her response, but I explained that I had a colorful shrug to cover most of the back of the dress.

I’m going to wear the ecru colored-dress, but I needed to try it on for Mike. I found the shrug on the markdown rack, and it may be a bathing suit coverup, but at this point I didn’t really care.

The Ecru, “Did your mother make that dress”

I did try on the dress for Mike, and this is what he kiddingly said, “Did your mother make that dress?” So I just may wear something old.

The moral of the story is: Do not spend so much time worrying what you are going to wear. It’s not your day; it belongs to the bride.

Matthew 6:28-34 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Michael and his beautiful bride Trisha


Russ, Sonja, Mikos, Jenny, me,and Mike

My Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for Michael and Trisha, that You would always be the center of their lives, that their love be inflamed by Your Holy Spirit, and that they recognize Your holy presence in their marriage.

Lord, forgive me for all the wasted time looking for the right dress, and for getting caught up in the things of the world. AMEN


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Graciously Rolling With the Punches

Lately, I feel as I get on in age, different health issues are attacking my being. In October of last year, while I was brushing my teeth, I heard an unusual sound hitting the sink. Much to my chagrin, it was the back part of my front tooth. I went to bed thinking, “Dear God, how much is this going to cost us?” For a week I postponed going to see the prosthodontist; in the meantime, every time I talked, every word ended in a whistle. It was time to make an appointment with the specialist.

The new grill

My front tooth has been an enduring cross for most of my life. My sister Jo was the cause of this injury. I do not recall if she was beating me up or swinging me as a small child. Either way I landed on my face and my front teeth took the brunt of the fall. With one tooth cracked down the middle, it would take years for the other tooth to manifest its injury.

5th grade and my chipped tooth

I was in junior high school when I noticed that my other front tooth had turned to dull shade of gray. I never brought this to the attention of my mother because she was too busy making sure my three older brothers were staying out of trouble. One day I noticed that I had developed an abscess, and finally told my mother. She took me to the worst dentist in Colton. This small-town dentist did the minimum for his patients, and if it had it been anything but my front tooth, he would have extracted it. All my adult dental problems stem from his lack of professional training. His name was either Dr. Van Voorhis or, fittingly, Dr. Pain. I’m sure he is no longer among the living; he has either gone to heaven or perhaps hell. I pray the former. For sure he has made my life a living hell.

This doctor filed down most of my front tooth, and every single dentist and specialist that I have gone to, has remarked on the botched work he did. I have had my front tooth replaced at least five times. I was not going to mess around with a novice dentist, so I made an appointment with one of the best in Orange County, Dr. O’Brien.

I knew it was going to be a great expense, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices. At the first appointment doctor O’Brien fixed my chipped tooth with a composite veneer, and placed a temporary cap on the botched tooth.

I so badly would like to remodel the main bathroom in our home but all that had to be put on hold. I cannot share the cost of the work done on my teeth, but I could have purchased a nice used car.

In the meantime, my temporary tooth had fallen out three times, because I’d forget and use the water pick. It took almost four months to get my tooth right, partly because I was traveling and I missed several appointments.

Taka, the specialist from Japan was making the tooth, and each time I would go in for an appointment for the fitting, Dr. O’Brien would say, that was the color was off. I would hear them discussing my tooth. “It needs more gray, and yellow, and some pink.” I was right there when they were describing the color of my teeth. Finally after a few months of working to get the color perfect, I was scheduled to go Taka’s lab, the Japanese genius. There on 4th Street, in Tustin, California, with bright lights overhead, the perfect porcelain tooth was born.

These doctors are doing what God has called them to do. I love going to their office because there is always a cohesive atmosphere. Dr. O’Brien takes hours to make certain he gets it right. He is never in a rush to get you out because it’s as if he is doing this unto the Lord. When you are doing what God called you to do, you do it with great joy; you look forward to your daily task, because it not only pleases you but also bring a smile to the Lord.

Colossians 3:23-24 New King James Version (NKJV)

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

I’m certain that my sister Jo can still beat me up, as she was always the strong girl in our family. I remember in one fight, after sassing my Mom, Jo came after me. I threw our pet cat at her, because I knew that this would allow enough distraction for me to escape the inevitable.

Jo, her sons, Nick, Frank, Rocky, and Torie

Thank God we outgrew our childhood without any serious injuries. All that toughness that my sister developed would later help her raise four boys that grew into fine young men.

I love to smile, and now, thanks to these great specialists, my confidence is restored, and I thank God that they followed their calling!

Romans 11:29 New King James Version (NKJV)

29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Have you answered your call? I have, I follow Him, His love guides my path.

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