Leaping Lizards

I am not squeamish. Heck, anyone who has taught elementary schoolchildren knows that one either loses fear of all creepy crawly critters or one does a good job of faking bravery. Otherwise one’s desk will have lots of unwelcome visitors during the school year. I became quite adept at feigning affection for a variety of animals: “Oh, what a precious little tarantula! May I hold him?” “You have a pet boa constructor? Those are my favorite!”

Honestly I don’t mind most critters as long as I’m not caught unaware. It’s the ‘holy crap’ moments that get me. Yesterday, I had one of those ‘holy crap’ moments. The day had been about as wonderfully boring as a day can be. I’d spent the morning putting away Christmas decorations and attempting to locate all of my regular decor. I swear, one of these days I’m going to figure out a way of tagging decorative items so I can remember where things go.

I mailed a package to our oldest granddaughter in Texas, and then stopped by the big truck stop to get a soda. When I returned home I parked the car and then walked up the driveway to get our mail. Upon opening the mailbox not one, but two lizards ran out to greet me. Holy crap! I screamed, dropped the mail onto which one of the lizards was clinging and did the “ooh ooh ooh” dance–shaking my hands and stomping my feet just in case….well, just in case. Poor lizards–I think they had a holy crap moment, as well.



2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 28, 2014

Had to share this one! Well done Pablo on Whiteouts!

White Outs

12-28-14 lego014 - color

My nephew posts funny pictures of himself on Instagram wearing a Lego head in various locales under the handle legoman_iac. If you’re so inclined, check him out and follow him. He asked me to do a Legoman cartoon and this is what I came up with. My first idea was to do something with a Lego lady involving the song “brickhouse” but when one looks closely at those lyrics…

Anyway…enjoy. 🙂

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McKayla In the Middle

Happy tenth birthday to beautiful McKayla, our mercurial middle grandchild. She is a dark eyed, dark haired mixture of sweetness and spunk, quick of temper, but equally quick to hug. She was born the very day of the devastating tsunami that struck Thailand on December 26, 2004, and there’s a bit of the tsunami in her. McKayla is a force of nature.image

Smart, funny, and imaginative, she can and does play pretend for hours. I’m always amazed at how quickly her mind works. No matter what scenario is tossed her way she has a comeback. It doesn’t matter if we are pretending that she is the owner of a pet shop and I only want a pet hippopotamus, or if we are pretending she is a waitress and the only thing I can eat is stuffed asparagus, McKayla has a solution. She doesn’t blink twice before saying, “We don’t carry hippos in this store, but I can find you one at another of our locations,” or “Our asparagus is rather soggy today, could I recommend the stuffed broccoli instead?”

She’s become a really good reader, loves her American Girl dolls, and is a cheerleader in her spare time. Oh, she loves animals and hopes to be a veterinarian or to own a farm with her cousin, Dominique, some day.

Here’s my story for McKayla. Happy birthday sweetheart!

McKayla’s Amazing Pet Shop

On the corner of First Avenue and Main Street sits a cozy little shop. In front of the shop is a sign that says,

McKayla’s Amazing Pet Shop

If you go into the shop today this is what you will find:

Five dogs
Four cats
Twelve turtles
Two snakes
A toad
Three guinea pigs
Two hamsters
A canary
A parrot
Twenty-five goldfish in a large aquarium
And a

If you go into the shop you will never find:

The animals are all best friends. The dogs play with the cats, and the turtles like the snakes. The horse is best friends with the canary, and the toad is the most popular animal of all. It sounds crazy, but it is simply amazing.

The secret? The owner of the shop, McKayla, has trained each of the animals to be kind to one another. Every morning the animals gather in a circle with McKayla to discuss their feelings.

One day Slither Snake said, “I don’t think anyone will ever adopt me.”

One of the turtles patted Slither on the head and said, “Just you wait. The right person will be along any day now.”

McKayla said, “It must be the right person. I would never send any of you home with someone who would treat you badly.”

“How do you pick the right person?” asked Toad.

“Yes, tell us about the right person,” meowed the smallest cat.

McKayla said, “Well, the right person will have kind eyes and a big smile,
a comfortable lap and loving arms. The right person will have a soft voice and a lot of patience. The right person will love you very much.”

“That sounds like you, McKayla,” said the horse.

“Yes! Yes, it does!” agreed all the animals.

“Thank you,” said McKayla. “Before we open the shop today let’s tell each other one positive thing about ourselves. Slither, you go first.”

Slither said, “I am a good listener.”

All the other animals nodded in agreement.

Toad went next, then each of the cats and the dogs took a turn. The horse said, “I am helpful.” And the parrot said, “I am helpful.”

All of the animals had something positive to say about themselves except for the goldfish who never learned to talk, so all the animals agreed that the goldfish were the best swimmers in the shop.

McKayla said, “I am very proud of you all. Now it’s time to open the shop. Places everyone!”

As soon as McKayla unlocked the door a customer walked in. “I need a pet,” the woman announced. “Something cute and cuddly that my grandson can play with.”

McKayla smiled at the woman, but the woman didn’t smile back. The woman walked over to the corner where the dogs were tumbling about.

She pointed at Curly Pup and said,
“That one will do. Wrap him up.”

“I’m sorry,” said McKayla. “All of the puppies are spoken for.”

The woman sniffed. “Then a cat. I don’t care which one.”

McKayla shook her head and said, “None of the kittens are for sale at this time.”

“Well!” huffed the woman. “I do not like this shop!” And she left.

“That was not the right person,” said Gary Guinea Pig.

“She was scary,” squeaked Curly Pup.

The door opened again and a young man entered. He was smiling.

McKayla asked, “How may I help you?”

“I am new in this neighborhood, and I’m kind of lonely,” he replied.

“Feel free to visit with the animals,” said McKayla. “Let me know if you have any questions.”

The young man sat on the floor to play with Toad. He tossed a ball to the dogs and dangled a string for the cats. He groomed the horse and cuddled with the guinea pigs. He exchanged pleasantries with the parrot and whistled with the canary.

“My goodness!” he exclaimed. “You have so many different kinds of animals in your shop.”

“Yes,” said McKayla. “They are all just waiting for the right person.”

“Well, I want a friend who will be a good listener,” said the man. “Which of the animals here is the best at listening?”

Toad hopped over to Slither. Parrot squawked, “Snake! Snake!”

McKayla laughed. “Our very best listener is Slither Snake,” she said.

“Slither,” said the man. “Would you like to be my new friend?”

And everyone knew he was the right person.<br />

Sam’s Secret Quips on Giving

I’m reblogging this! I want to hear my friends’ responses. Great post.

Another Voice

Daily prompt: Secret Santa
You get to choose one gift — no price restrictions — for any person you want. The caveat? You have to give it anonymously. What gift would you give, and to whom?

I wish I could present my loved ones with things that are not things.

Stuff begets stuff.

You generally don’t need money for happiness that is happiness.

A commercialised sentiment is no longer a sentiment.

Choose: more or less choices.

Gifts given anonymously don’t stay anonymous for long.

The act of giving is fulfilled only upon acknowledgement.

Is there anything more guilt inducing than a thoughtful gift?

Is there anything more persistent than a thoughtless gift?

The only gift worth giving is the gift of time and I seem to have squandered mine thinking of what gift to give.

You don’t need to give, just lend an ear.

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Grief during the holidays: remember them next year

This is borrowed from a blogger I follow: ftedailygreen.wordpress.com. Wise words for this time of year.


For many people, this is not the “hap hap happiest time of the year.”  They may hang a decoration or two, maybe even wish you holiday cheer; but underneath it all is lingering grief.  2014 was a difficult year.  We said goodbye to grandma, my friend’s sons lost their father, and my childhood friend lost her child to cancer.

stephI think as outsiders we feel helpless to easing their pain because really, we can’t.  So maybe this year we try to do a little more: dropping off holiday cookies, running errands, offering a shoulder to lean on.  We know that this first holiday without them- quite frankly- sucks.

What we often forget, though, is that second year.

I was a kid when my dad died.  I remember that first Christmas felt like everything was just going through the motions.  No amount of gifts, eggnog, or caroling was going to bring back…

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Friendship Tree

One of the bloggers I follow put together this lovely poet-tree using short poems submitted on their blog. I think it is beautiful!!! Check out movingtowardsthelight.com on wordpress.

Poems and Petals

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A Family Was Born


December 20, 2014, marks the 4th Anniversary of the birth of the Stephen and Ashley Houzenga family, the day when Stephen formally adopted Garrett and McKayla and forever changed all of our lives for the better. We love Stephen like a son for many reasons–the way he cares for and respects our daughter and the love he has for our grandchildren top the list.

Happy Family Day to Stephen, Ashley, Garrett, and McKayla. (And to Harper who joined the fray some time later)!