Pink Bunk Beds

My granddaughter, Ava, at 5 years old, finally has the bunk beds she has been wanting. When we visited last week, she couldn’t wait to pull me upstairs to show them to me.

“Wow!” I said. “I love it that they’re pink!”

“I know!” she said excitedly. “Mom and I picked them out, and I picked out the sheets, blankets and pillows.”

The sheets and blankets and pillows were beautiful; all hearts and flowers in pink, blue, yellow, light green and purple. I asked her which bed she liked to sleep in, the top or bottom bunk.

“Oh, the bottom one,” she said.

“Don’t you want to sleep on the top bunk?” I asked. “You’d be able to see the moon and stars out of your window!”

Ava looked down for a minute and then said softly, “I’m afraid if I sleep on the top bunk, bad guys will see me and get me.”

“I see,” I said. “Would you like to know how I kept bad guys from getting me when I was your age?”

Ava nodded.

“Here’s what I did, and you can do it, too. Get up on the top bunk and bring your biggest stuffed animal with you. Mine was a big red and white bear named Julisus. Are you with me so far?” She nodded.

“Here’s what you do: lie down on the top bunk, and put your stuffed animal on top of you, facing up.”

Ava said, “How come?”

I said, “This way, IF there are bad guys and IF they should climb up to your window, all they would see is a big old stuffed animal in the bed. They’d say, ‘there’s only a stuffed animal in that bed, no little girl. We might as well go home.”

By this time Ava was giggling. But I could see that she still was bothered by the idea of bad guys. So I asked her if it would be ok for me to put a never ending protection “charm” on her room.

“You can do that?” she asked, looking hopeful.

“I sure can, kiddo. Just watch me.”

Being a Reiki master, I was able to perform a little ceremony for her, touching every corner of the room, the windows and the doorway. When I was done, I told her that her angels were now on duty 24/7. She seemed happy about that, and we left her room together, I noticed her smiling at her upper bunk.

Oh, the magic of pink bunk beds, of being 5 years old and of having a slightly nutty grandmother!


A Bright Little Candle in the Darkness

When my mother died last December 16, we set up her viewing the day before the burial and church service. My dad and I were pleased and touched that so many people came to see my mom for the last time, and it kind of became a party. There was a whole lot of laughter and reminiscing as well as a few tears.

To our surprise, my wonderful step-daughter and her husband and the Amazing Ava (now nearly 5 years old) traveled down from Maine to be there with us. Ava, dressed in her sparkly best, wore two headbands and her favorite necklace, and brought her own brand of light and joy. It was as if a fairy princess had skipped into the room.

She looked at Mom’s casket, and asked who that was who was up there “sleeping.” I told her it was my mom, and said “You remember Glo, right?” She nodded, and asked me quite seriously if we could wake her up, and I told her no, that she was sleeping. Since I didn’t know if Ava had ever had the “death talk” with her parents, I was a little nervous about going into more detail.

But Ava being Ava made that easy for me. She took my hand and we walked up to see my beautiful mother in her beautiful outfit, with her hair and makeup perfect, a little smile on her face. Ava took it all in, and asked again if we could wake her up. I told her that Mom was really an angel with lovely blue wings, and Ava was immediately captivated. She asked if we could see the wings, and I told her that someday we would.

That seemed to satisfy her, and she skipped back to her parents and told them all about the wings. Dad just kept smiling at her, and said what an absolutely delightful kid she was. I couldn’t agree more.

It is amazing to me that a small child could be satisfied with what I told her, and that there was no fear or worry. She is a big fan of angels, and was delighted that she had actually met one.

What she doesn’t yet know is that she is one, too–a sparkly angel with beautiful pink wings, come to Earth to be a bright candle for us all.

“Poopy-Doopy, You So Loopy!”

On a recent visit to our granddaughter, Ava, and her parents (and of course the two dogs, one cat and several bunnies), as we were enjoying our “*Double Dad Fathers’ Day” lunch afterglow, Ava wanted to play one of her favorite games, the Rhyming Game.

One person starts with a two-word rhyme, like “wacky quacky,” and on to each person. You cannot stop, you can’t fool around and waste time; when your turn is up, you have to make a two-word rhyme or you’re out–them’s the rules. And of course, we always devolve into the “poop” rhymes just because they make us all laugh. The first time I told Ava “poopy-doopy, you so loopy” I thought she would never stop laughing.

One of the greatest things about being with Ava is that anything goes. She gives me freedom to be silly, to color pictures with her (and go outside the lines), to make things together, to follow after her when she says, “Lulu, I have something to show you!”

I never had children of my own, but through two marriages I have two amazing stepdaughters, one of whom is Ava’s mom. In fact, I watched her grow up, go to school, become a leader there, go on to West Point and then graduate and go to war overseas. By then her dad, my Crankee Yankee, and I were married. We both held our collective breaths through each of her five deployments.

Now that we have Ava in our lives, our own lives have changed. We now have is this amazing little girl in our lives, for whom we would do anything. I hear her voice in my head, I know when she’s happy, and when she isn’t, my heart hurts for her. I suppose that my revelations are no big surprise to anyone who has had children and then grandchildren–but they are brand-new to me.

There is nothing about Ava that doesn’t seem utterly fascinating, we love to know what she’s up to, what she likes and how she views the world. Right now her life values have been and are still being set. She knows these truths:

  • If you hurt someone’s feelings, you say sorry and give them a hug.
  • There’s no hitting another person or an animal–ever.
  • You always remember to say “please” and “thank you.”
  • She is deeply and vastly loved by her family.
  • She cares about animals and can’t stand to see them hurt.
  • She has an active and vivid imagination, which we all encourage.
  • She has an amazing vocabulary–you often forget you are speaking with a four-year old.
  • She is kind to people.
  • She loves music and she loves to sing and dance.
  • She has no problem walking up to a shy child and introducing herself, and asking them their name.
  • When she sees someone she thinks is beautiful, she tells them. (I have witnessed this once or twice, and the effect of her sincere flattery is incredible.)
  • She has her own chores to do, and is thrilled to be able to mark them off her little chore chart.
  • She understands that a family is a unit where everyone plays their part to help everyone.

And of course there is much more, but these stand out in my mind. For me, a first-time grandmother (or step-grandmother to be specific), this miracle of a child is a treasure and a blessing. I’m a pretty lovey-dovey person, but honestly, I couldn’t have imagined how far love can go or how it would change me. Ava has made me a better person, and I can’t wait to see all the good she will do in the world.

So, having said all that, “poopy-doopy–I’M so loopy!: 🙂

*The Crankee Yankee’s wonderful daughter, mom of Ava, made the favorite meal of both her father and her husband, homemade shepard’s pie.

Welcome to the Loudest Place on Earth – a 4-Year Old’s Birthday Party

The Crankee Yankee and I, along with his younger brother, David, traveled up to Maine to attend the 4th birthday party for our granddaughter Ava this past weekend. We were armed with all the right stuff: Princess Sofia’s Pony Stable kit, bright pink Lincoln Logs, and a pink canvas bag full of princess-y stuff; rainbow tiara, pink and purple wand with feathers, aqua, pink and purple beads, a princess coloring book, a Princess Sofia purple brush, and so on.

By the time all of Ava’s little friends showed up, the birthday table was loaded with sandwiches, several salads, a fruit plate, blueberry squares, chips, Cheetos, tortilla chips and salsa, a huge jar of jelly beans, and another of lollypops, and more. An enormous cake, decorated with a big purple, pink, blue and green pony, waited on the kitchen sideboard. The freezer held vanilla and blueberry ice cream, and there were colorful gift bags on the table for all of Ava’s guests.

Outside on the lawn, there were bubble wands, soccer balls, hula hoops and games. Both dogs, Jack and Ross, the two cardigan corgis, waited politely to receive the guests. The bunnies lounged in their outdoor hutches, ready to be admired. MCat, the tiger kitty, had wisely disappeared to one of his hideouts for the duration.

Honestly, it all looked wonderful; it was everything you could ask for to make a 4-year old girl giddy with happiness. The kids began to arrive; each one was wearing bright party gear, hair neatly combed, freshly washed hands, shoes on the right feet; everyone was ready to party big-time. Each guest was greeted with hugs and squeals of laughter, and everyone started chatting and making plates to take out on the porch to enjoy.

And that was the end of all quiet and civility. It was as if we had all suddenly been transported to Mumbai at high noon on a business day–a full-on assault on all the senses: loud and hard-to-understand foreign languages, wild colors, small people hurtling everywhere, and an overall sense of danger about to happen at any moment.

There may have been about eight or nine kids there, but I swear it seemed like 40. The sheer noise was unbelievable. And this was all before the cake and ice cream and opening of the gifts.

The kids went nuts with sugar-fueled energy, and there was mayhem everywhere you looked. There was a little boy who found a cup of milk and put all the crayons he could find in it. There were a few half-eaten sandwiches haphazardly spread out on the couch, and several chunks of fruit on the coffee table, the juice slowing staining the surface. Around the same time, a little girl began rubbing a slice of cake into the wooden floor, followed by her cup of milk. (What is it with kids and cups of milk? They pour it more than they drink it!)

The Crankee Yankee stepped in, re-directed the kids to some dry activities and cleaned up the mess. Muttering imprecations under his breath, he picked up the remaining smooshed and scattered cake and food bits and threw them out. I’m sure I heard him say, ‘there–no more ammo for YOU, you little cracker smashers!’

When it was time for Ava to open her gifts,all the kids lost their minds. They of course wanted to help her open her presents, and it turned into an orgy of ripping paper and tossing ribbons. Ava’s mom, a superb negotiator, sat in the middle of the maelstrom, managing to keep the house (and the kids) from imploding. She even managed to direct Ava to each and every gift-giver and thank them with a big hug.

As the present frenzy notched up, some of the kids seemed to think that part of all that party booty was for them. One little girl began stockpiling the gifts she liked. When her mother explained that these were Ava’s gifts and not hers, she screamed bloody murder and stomped around like a miniature CEO.

When everyone started to gather up kids, party bags, lost shoes, blankets and diaper bags, things began to wind down. Ava began to crash from sugar and excitement, and the Crankee Yankee and David and I prepared to leave.

Well, I won’t say that we didn’t feel the effects of the party, but will admit that, as soon as we were buckled in, we too crashed. Dear David drove us home, both of us out as cold as frozen flounders. Once we got home we had just about enough energy to feed the cats, wash up and go to bed.

I am pretty sure that when Ava turns five, her mom and dad are going to be mighty glad for any venue other than home to have the birthday party.

Hello, Chuckie Cheese!



“Ava the Brave,” One of Many Chapters

Introduction: The Crankee Yankee and I are proud grandparents of Ava, who will soon be four years old. I began writing little stories for her some time ago, and will post them here.

So far, there are four chapters. This one is Chapter Four, called “Ava Gets Into Trouble.”

Chapter Four: Ava Gets into Trouble

One day in the beautiful land of Holli, Princess Ava (also known throughout the animal kingdom as ‘Ava the Brave ,’ ‘Ava the Kind,’ ‘Ava the Good,’ ‘Ava the Comforter,’ and ‘Ava, Picker-up of Crying Ones’) and her parents, Tall King and Golden Queen, were having breakfast together.

It was mid-August, and they were all enjoying crispy pancakes topped with freshly-picked strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The two dogs, Sir Jack and Sir Ross, were sitting under the table, hoping for a pancake or two.

Tall King announced that he was going to trim the fruit trees that day, and Golden Queen said that she was going to weed the gardens. They asked Princess Ava to put the dishes in the sink and brush the dogs.

As everyone got up from the table, Princess Ava quickly tore a pancake in two and gave half to Sir Jack and a half to Sir Ross.

Princess Ava watched her parents start their work, and she went to get the brush for the dogs. She carefully brushed both dogs until their coats shone like glass. Satisfied, she went outside with them to show them off to Tall King and Golden Queen.

But when she opened the door, both dogs ran straight for the pond, which in the warm weather had turned into a large mud puddle. Before she could say a word, the dogs happily jumped right in the middle of the mud and rolled and romped in it. Their coats quickly became full of wet, sticky mud, and their previously clean coats were sodden and filthy. Princess Ava rolled her eyes and called them back. But they were so happy being dirty that they ignored her and went right on playing.

So Princess Ava decided to walk down to the river to see if they would follow her, jump in and get clean again. As she walked, she heard the contented ‘chug-a-rum, chug-a-rum’ of the frog king, King ShoShee, singing to his large family. She sat on the warm wooden dock, took off her shoes and dangled her feet in the cool water. As she idly splashed her feet up and down, she noticed a large dark shadow just beyond her feet. She looked down and saw a large fish swimming by. It kept swimming near her feet, and she leaned forward to get a better look.

SPLASH! Princess Ava overbalanced and fell right into the river. She remembered Golden Queen warning her to never swim by herself as the current could be strong. She knew how to swim, but she felt the current pulling at her feet and legs and, as hard as she tried to swim back to the dock, the current pulled her away. She began to panic, realizing that no one knew where she was. She tried harder to swim to the dock, but her arms and legs quickly become tired and harder to move. Her head slipped under the water, and she came up fast, coughing and choking.

Suddenly she felt two rubbery objects under her feet, and she realized that two somethings were holding her up. A ring of frogs appeared around her, and a chorus of little voices cried, “Don’t worry, Ava the Brave! King ShoShee and his brother, King Ranta’an will hold you up!” Princess Ava saw that she was surrounded by dozens of frogs of all sizes, some of whom she remembered moving from the pond to the river when the pond was drying up.

The ring of frogs moved close together until they surrounded Princess Ava. As the two kings steadily held Princess Ava up, they began swimming her toward the dock. The rest of the frogs supported her arms and they all slowly moved her back to the dock. Once she grasped the ladder, she pulled herself up. King ShoShee and King Ranta’an popped up and cried together, “Princess Ava, are you all right?”

“Yes, I am, thanks to you and your family!” said Princess Ava, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. “I thought I could swim back on my own, but the current is so strong!” She shuddered.

“Yes, yes, we know—it is very strong, but we frogs are used to it now. Princess Ava, you must promise us that you will never swim in the river alone again!” said King ShoShee.

“Princess Ava,” began the other frog, “I am King Ranta’an, brother to King ShoShee. I and my people know of your bravery in moving his family from the pond to the river. Because you did, my brother and I are together again and have merged our families.” He nodded to the circle of frogs, all of whom smiled and nodded at Princess Ava. “I, too, must ask you to please be careful from now on. You are much too important to risk your life, and any of us would gladly give our own life for you.”

Princess Ava bowed to King ShoShee and King Ranta’an, and thanked them and their people. She had been thoroughly frightened and was very grateful for their help.

Suddenly a very dirty Sir Jack and Sir Ross appeared over the hill, saw Princess Ava and ran to her. All the frogs ducked below the water with small plopping sounds. “Thank you! Thank you all!” cried Princess Ava. She hugged the dogs, mud and all, and together, dirty but happy, they walked up the hill to the house.

As soon as they got to the top of the hill, Tall King and Golden Queen came running to meet them. Princess Ava hung her head, knowing she would be in a lot of trouble. But she had no way of knowing that the two frog kings, King ShoShee and King Ranta’an, had already sent messengers ahead, Squire Greenspot and Squire Plinkott. They told the king and queen what had happened, and that Princess Ava was safe.

That night, over a dinner of sliced ham with sweet potatoes and an enormous salad of mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, black olives and chopped celery, Tall King and Golden Queen heard all about the brave frogs from Princess Ava. She promised them that she would not go near the river again without them, and they promised that they would always look after King ShoShee and King Ranta’an and their families.

As Princess Ava lay in bed that night, with her arms looped around Sir Jack and Sir Ross (now clean again), she remembered how frightened she had been in the river and how her friends, the frogs, saved her. She thought about how wonderful it was to be part of a family and to have friends.

As the moon climbed higher into the sky, far beyond the treetops, Princess Ava listened to all the frogs singing their songs. They sang about her, Ava the Brave; and Sir Jack and Sir Ross, Tall King and Golden Queen, about friendship, love and family. As she drifted into sleep, she still felt the small but strong bodies of the two kings under her feet, lifting her up.

When the moon was high enough to bathe the house and grounds with silver light, Princess Ava was fast asleep, dreaming and smiling.

Bad Monkey Road

Our fabulous granddaughter, Ava, is three and a half years old. She is the most fascinating person I know, and the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I just can’t hear enough about what she’s doing. On a recent visit with her and her mom, we spent the day together, did some shopping and went out for dinner. On the way home, Ava and her mom always play the “go straight, left or right” game. Ava knows the roads near her home pretty well, so most of her answers are correct. However, on one street she chose ‘go straight’ and her mom said, ‘nope–we should go right. But you chose straight, so we are going straight.’

Ava pouted a bit and then said, “well, ok, but this is a bad monkey road.” We asked what made it such a bad monkey road, and she replied that several bad monkeys live on the road and that we’d better be careful. So we all made sure that our doors were locked, and thankfully, got back safely with no trouble from the bad monkeys.

Well, the Crankee Yankee and I couldn’t stop laughing about that. After we left Ava and her mom and were on our way home, we sang “Take Me Home, Country Road,” and substituted ‘country road’ with ‘bad monkey road.’ I know it probably doesn’t sound as funny as it was, but we were punchy and chuckalicious from another good time with Ava, so we laughed our heads off for miles.

Ava is quite a talker, and is most emphatic about what she says. She also wants to be taken seriously. Her father often plays a little game with her about the name of her favorite rabbit, Hippy Hoppy. He will look at her and say, “now, what’s the name of that bunny of yours again?”

“Papa, it’s Hippy Hoppy!” Ava says, a bit irritated that her father can’t seem to remember the rabbit’s name every day.

Her father will sit back in his chair, nodding and saying, “Oh, that’s right–Clippy Cloppy.” Immediately Ava will shrill, “NOOOOO! Hippy Hoppy!” And off they go:

“Stinky Socky?”

“NOOOOOO! Hippy Hoppy!!”

“Oh, right. Flinky-Flonky?’

“*NOOOO-wah! Papa, it’s Hippy Hoppy!!!”

And so it goes until Ava dissolves into giggles as her father grabs her and tickles her, saying “Hippy Hoppy! Hippy Hoppy! Hippy Hoppy!” over and over again.

Look, I never had a grandchild before, and it is a wonderfully dizzying experience. Not only am I completely captivated by this amazing creature, but my life is so much richer with Ava in it.

To all the grandparents out there; I get it now. I understand now why coloring a moose green and blue with Ava is more fun than just about anything. I get it that, once you have a grandchild, nothing is ever the same. It’s MUCH better! 🙂

*The “-wah” at the end of the word ‘no’ signifies that Ava is particularly aggravated. Which is too bad because the rest of us think it’s hysterical. The poor kid.