Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My passion

What started out as a symbolic gift to my husband on Father’s Day 2004 has turned into a passion for me and just recently a visual aid for learning for our three young sons.

I collect antique Lord’s Prayer chromolithographs, most of which were created in the late 1800s.

Sunday night the boys were watching a 2006 version of the “Ten Commandments” on TV with their father. They were very interested in the movie so I took the opportunity to tell them they could see pictures of the Ten Commandments right in our own living room.

A wreath of vignettes illustrating the Ten Commandments surrounds a center oval of the Lord’s Prayer in three of my lithos.

All but one of the six lithos are beautifully printed with bright pastel colors and gold, and are displayed in antique frames. A lone print, which I’ve not framed yet because I’ve misplaced it, is a vintage greeting card size black and white print of the Lord’s Prayer written in several languages (very tiny print).

My favorite chromolithograph – the largest - hangs above our fireplace mantel in a stunning ornately-carved, high-gloss wooden frame that belonged to my late grandparents, Fred and Ruth McDonald, who lived in Caldwell, Ohio.

The first one I bought for David because he prays the Lord’s Prayer every night with the children before they go to bed. The 16-by 22 litho has an 1892 copyright and was published by Standard Supply House, Chicago, Illinois. I found it at an area antiques/garden store and later I was excited to learn, via the Internet, there are lots of other lithos of the prayer out there!

At least two that I’ve acquired were printed by Geis & Co. Buffalo, N.Y. with copyrights of 1877 and 1881. The former also states it was “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1877 by M. Yauck, 18 University Ave. Rochester, N.Y. in the office of the librarian of Congress in Washington.” That one was published by S.T. Buck, Milton, Pa.

One hangs in a Victorian Adirondack frame - the same kind of frame in which you may find paper punch and cross-stitch samplers from the same era.

I also have three old cross-stitch Lord’s Prayer samplers though one is just a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” and appropriately hangs in our dining room. I even have a Lord’s Prayer sampler in our bathroom, because the thread colors match my shower curtain!

The Lord’s Prayer is the most widely recited prayer by Christians. Two versions of it appear in the New Testament of the Bible – Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.

It’s “just a soopr day” that I can finally share one of my passions with the boys.

“For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever. Amen.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Christmas

Do you remember the story about the four adult siblings, all adopted as children, who were reunited live on TODAY on Sept. 23?
Earlier that week brothers Randy Joubert and Gary Nisbet appeared on the show to tell the story of how they met in July when Joubert took a job at the furniture store in Maine where Nisbet had been working for years. After being told repeatedly how much like brothers they looked, Joubert confirmed in September they were indeed brothers who had been taken from their abusive mother 35 years ago and adopted by different families.
When their story hit the local media, a half sister Joanne Campbell came forward and reunited with the pair.
The three appeared on TODAY and announced there was one more sister.
That sister turned out to be Kathleen "Kat" Cooper who the next day met her siblings on TV.
Kat's blog was mentioned in one of the online stories I read. Curious about this woman I spent hours reading her blog and in the process learned she is a non-believer. At that point I felt compelled to send her an e-mail:

ME: “ I just spent too many hours reading your blog after seeing the link the national story (TODAY) about your long-lost siblings. I think you are blessed but just don't know it. I'm disappointed you don't believe in God … take care and think about what has happened in your life in the past couple of days and consider that God played a part in this.”

KAT’S response in italic(which is posted on her blog; she did not reply to my e-mail):
“ I really don't want to offend anyone, but I'm getting an overwhelming amount of emails from a lot of people who believe in the big dog up in the clouds, every single 1 of them is saying that this is proof of his existence, that they followed the story here, read, read my blog, and were extremely disappointed to learn that I am an atheist.

take care and think about what has happened in your life in the past couple of days and consider that god played a part in this
Sorry, no.
It's all just coincidence, just the way it goes, it's totally awesome, but completely random events.
No religious miracle, no god did it or god chose this time of our lives to reunite us, none of any of that mumbo jumbo holy man nonsense.
It would take a whole lot more than this to make me suddenly fall to my knees and believe in a magical dude in the universe.
I appreciate all of the comments, I really do, but this was nothing more than random events, super awesome terrific random events, but completely random.”

I am saddened that Kat doesn’t believe but I was pleased to see part of my e-mail on her post and to know so many believers contacted her like me to tell her they are “extremely disappointed.”

I am also saddened by Godless billboards that popped up across the U.S., including those in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, last month.
They say “Don’t Believe In God? You are not alone” and were placed by chapters of and funded by the United Coalition of Reason – an organization of nontheistic (atheist and agnostic) groups.
Apparently this organization wants believers to be aware there are people who don't believe in a god.

"The point of our national billboard campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "Nontheists sometimes don't realize there's a community out there for them because they're inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope this will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren't alone."

In response to the billboard being erected in Columbus, media there interviewed random people on the street who all appeared to be believers.
Now the purpose of this blog is to remind believers that in the end times the Bible says these kinds of things will happen so we shouldn’t be surprised.
It is also a request that believers continue to spread the Word of God – in any way they can – and to celebrate the birth of Christ – a real “religious miracle” that was not a “random event” - this Christmas.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Easy Bake Oven for boys too

A while back Will and his older brother Christian said, "Girls get everything!"
I know first-hand that is not true, but I sympathized with them when they explained they meant cool stuff .... like the Easy Bake Oven.
A trip through the toy section with the boys recently revealed the oven comes in a sea-foam green color. I had thought it was pink. Has it ever been pink?
I showed Will the oven and he perked up but then scoffed saying it wasn't blue enough, and there was a girl on the box.
Boys can bake too.
So I told my mom and she bought him the oven for his birthday, which was earlier this month. Will is 9.
The "appliance" is still operated with one standard 100-watt light bulb - a bulb that CANNOT be long life, soft white or high efficiency - that really narrows it down!
I bought a pack of daylight bulbs.
Yesterday we baked two pans of brownies.
Will allowed his brothers to participate. The boys stirred the 1 1/2 teaspoons of water into the mix and "poured" it into the pan, which had been sprayed with non-stick spray.
The directions said to bake the brownies for 8 minutes. Maybe that daylight light bulb isn't as strong as a good old-fashioned regular 100 watt bulb. But since they apparently don't make those anymore the brownies went back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Now boys are not as attentive as girls and while the brownies baked they continued their horseplay in the living room building a fort using blankets draped across the sofa and loveseat.
When I announced the treats were done, not really to my liking - they were still gooey - they fussed and I caved and they wolfed down the first pan.
I doubled the cook time on the second pan and that seemed to help. The boys shared that pan with their dad at dinner. Mind you the round pans have a diameter of 3 1/2 inches and they cut the brownie into fourths so everyone got a bite.
I cleaned up and put the oven away thinking "Will really didn't enjoy that."
Today I read his Christmas list - which he revised after we baked the brownies - and he wants an Easy Bake Frosting Pen!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rap sheet

It's unusual for me to post two blogs in one day but I just have to share this with you.
The boys stayed overnight at David's parents' house last night (see previous blog). Lee, in addition to a portfolio of several new drawings, came home with a rap sheet on his brothers today (see image).


mom and dad
christian hit me in the nose
with a baseball
will gave me a sidewalk burn
christian dragged my face in the
From Lee

God Bless Us, Everyone!

We celebrated our wedding anniversary this weekend, and for the 11th time it was during the famous Ohio State vs. Michigan football weekend!
We were married on a Friday late afternoon (so as to not interfere with the huge game on Saturday) in Mt. Ephraim, Noble County, at the United Methodist Church there, just around the bend from my late mother (Sandra Ellen Watson McDonald) homestead and across the road from the cemetery where she's buried.
More than a decade and three kids later, David and I are still learning how to raise a family. It's hard. We know we are blessed and we are glad our God is a forgiving God.
We had a nice dinner out on Saturday without the boys. They stayed overnight at grandma and grandpa's.
This morning I went Christmas shopping - online!
This afternoon we collected the children and went to the movie theatre in Zanesville (closest stadium seating theatre around) to see Disney's A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey (his first role in a Disney film).
Carrey stars in a multitude of roles including Ebenezer Scrooge as a young, middle-aged and old man and three of the ghosts who haunt Scrooge.
We saw the 3-D version and it was awesome!
David said he wanted to reach out and catch the snowflakes.
The boys looked so cute in their 3-D glasses. Lee is pictured here in his pair. He is going to draw a picture of Scrooge which I will post after he's finished.
What a nice kickoff to the holiday season.
God Bless Us, Everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Courthouse holiday light show

The Guernsey County Courthouse holiday light show started running Thursday night and we've seen it twice already. We went back tonight to get some video to share and capture Lee conducting the "orchestra" and in this case "the choir" which he did last night too. An added element of excitement tonight was the cop car that zoomed up the Parkway. My kids love the light show. So do I. It's a great tourism tool for our tiny town. It brings bus loads of visitors to Cambridge in November and December. Oh, and did I mention the light show is secondary to the Dickens Victorian Village. But I'm not so much a fan of these heavily-clothed mannequins as I am the light show extravaganza. Unfortunately our camera (Nikon CoolPixL3) doesn't take very good video (video removed due to poor quality). Lee is conducting all the while but you can hardly see him there on the left. For more on Dickens and the light show, visit downtowncambridge.com

Sunday, November 8, 2009

E-mail address

I've created a new e-mail address to allow readers to send correspondence. You can check out my profile and send an e-mail from that page under CONTACT, or add me to your address book: justasooprday@outlook.com.

Friday, October 23, 2009


The 10 year old said it smelled like Christmas the other day.
It was cold outside and the furnace, which had kicked on a few days earlier, was running around the clock.
I remarked at Christian’s association of the cool outdoors and warm house and apparently some other comforting smells.
Likewise, his 8-year-old-brother a couple of months ago told me, “You smell like Aunt Peggy.”
I was taken back and shocked at his Will's senses.
My aunt, Peggy Ruppel, died unexpectedly at age 55 this past April and I brought home some of her favorite perfume “Opium” that I had not worn until the day Will said I smelled like her.
At that moment we all remembered Peggy and it was sad but comforting that something so simple like a smell could incite a fond memory.
Maybe I get emotional when it comes to the senses.
So many smells trigger certain places and certain times.
My grandmother Ruth McDonald wore - more often than not - a perfume by Evyan launched in 1945 called “White Shoulders.” Grandma’s been gone for 20 years now but I still smell her occasionally like when that woman pushed her cart by mine at Riesbeck’s the other day.
My grandmother Janice Watson’s signature scent is “Youth Dew” by Estee Lauder. She smells wonderful, and always will.
What I really wish is that I could bottle the way Grandma Watson’s 1800s farmhouse smells – like radiant gas heat mixed with clean laundry, hot tea and orange slices.
Bedrooms and bathrooms each have their own radiant floor heaters. There are fireplaces aglow in the office, parlor and living room. In the kitchen at least one burner is continually lit on the gas stovetop. And so in the wintertime the house envelopes me with its warm historic smell that will always be remembered as grandma’s house.
I loved the way the house I grew up in smelled too, which is a compliment to my mother, Judy McDonald given she had four children and a husband and all of their smells to deal with. Mom and a lot of her friends used Claire Burke Original room freshener. It contains roses, lavender and spice mixed with patchouli and vetiver. For a while Kroger marketed a spray air freshener that rivaled Burke’s trademark scent and I remember grocery shopping with mom and stocking up on canisters.
I have an affection for patchouli and enjoy wearing perfumes containing this mint that originated in East India and yields a fragrant oil. I’m always checking out Bath & Body Works latest scents to see if they contain patchouli.
I started wearing a new fragrance this week called Angel by Thierry Mugler, which contains patchouli.
I love the smell of Gerber’s Grins and Giggles Oatmeal Baby Wash, which we’ve been using for 10 years, since Christian was born.
This scent is no longer manufactured but I bought nearly a case of it at Odd Lots this past summer because I just can’t let it go.
We have maybe 12 bottles left.
Smells are like music they take you back to different times in your life and for a little while you remember ....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Best reads ever

I’ve just finished a wonderful book I want to share called “the Package” by Glenn Crabtree.
I won’t give the story away but this 2008 novel is about being lost and finding real joy, which is only possible through our Heavenly Father.
It is near the top of my Top 11 list.
Few books incite emotion in me so great that I cry real tears.
This is one of them.
This book blows “The Shack” out of the water.
Find a copy, read it and and share!

My Top 11 reads of all time:

1. Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West by Ethan Rarick
2. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
3. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
4. The Package by Glenn Crabtree
5. Night by Elie Wiesel
6. The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes
7. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
8. Under the Lake by Stuart Woods
9. Perfect Victim by Christine McGuire & Carla Norton
10. Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
11. The Shades by Betty Brock

The Shades, published in the early 1970s, was possibly the first chapter book I read of my own free will.
I think I bought it at a book fair at Caldwell Elementary School on the hill on North Street.
It might have been third grade.
I still have this tattered paperback now wrapped in Saran Wrap and tucked away.
Since having children I’ve purchased three copies of the book, long out of print, online so each of my three sons can have their own copy.
I shared my excitement about The Shades with the oldest boy a couple of years ago.
He hasn’t touched it.
That’s OK. He’s finding his own way through books.
And he’s loving it.
Christian just turned 10 and has read several of the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia novels already and is on a Goosebumps kick right now.
I am a proud momma that so far at least one of the children has taken after me and his father and enjoys reading for pleasure.
Anyone who has any good adult reads up their sleeve, please send me a note.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A reason to celebrate

(Originally published on 9/11/06 in The Daily Jeffersonian.)

I'm celebrating today.
I've celebrated Sept. 11 since
1999. On that day my first
child was born.
Last Sunday, after company
departed following an early
birthday party for Christian,
my husband and I were watching
"Inside the Tower" on The
Discovery Channel. A plane
slamming into the World Trade
Center was being played,
which caught Christian’s attention.
I asked him if he knew what
was happening.
His response was elementary.
"That plane crashed into that
A lot of people died when
that happened, my husband and
I told him.
Interested, I decided to take it
a step further.
"That plane crashed into the
tower on Sept. 11."
"Oh. Last year?" he asked.
"No, the year you turned 2."
So now he at least knows the
date the planes crashed into the
towers was Sept. 11, which he
knows is also his birthday.
That's enough for a 7 year
There are too many disturbing
aspects of 9/11 to tell a
first grader.
I don't want to shatter his
innocence by discussing something
he’ll eventually learn.
In the five years since 9/11,
Christian has gone from being
our only child to one of three
He grew a mouth full of teeth
and then lost 3 of them.
He learned to talk and backtalk.
He learned the alphabet.
He learned to ride a bike.
He started school.
He made some friends.
He doesn't need to know
about 9/11 yet...
In actuality, 9/11 is not a day
I think about until it rolls
As the years go by, I return to
it just like everyone else when
the images reappear on the television
and news stories are
printed and broadcast .
Even executing this assignment
has been difficult because
I've not really thought a lot
about 9/11 for a while.
I watched an "Oprah" episode
a few months ago about a 9/11
widow who is suffering from a
shopping addiction in an
attempt to replace the loss of
her husband. How sad.
Something else negative post
While my medium of work is
print news and most of the stories
I've come across have
intrigued me, I am drawn to
the visual. It's the still photographs
that I pour over like the
ones on the cover of this special
I recently purchased LIFE’s
Fifth Anniversary Expanded
Edition of 9/11 and it is filled
with lots of commentary (little
that I have read) and lots of
photographs (awesome). I will
keep it for Christian for his
9/11 "capsule."
In this business I see hundreds
of news stories unfold
every week and more than half
of those are tragic. After a
while it gets to you. There are
so many problems in the
9/11 was an historical event,
but what about the situation in
the Middle East? Have we forgotten
about Iraq and
Afghanistan? And what about
the woman from Ohio who was
sentenced for cutting off her
baby's arms?
Evil lurks everywhere.
So I thank God for a distraction,
a miracle amidst the
chaos, and I focus on the good
stuff for a while.
I retreat to age 7.
Reading, writing and arithmetic
... riding bikes ... friends.
Thank you Christian for
being my calm reminder of

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Compassion for a cat

Our family learned a lesson in compassion this week on the heels of a heart-breaking accident that cost our family cat one of its legs.

Whiskers, a five-month old calico, had his right front leg amputated on Monday. He is home now and recovering from the operation. A full recovery is expected. He had three days of pain meds and will continue on antibiotics for a week.

We are not absolutely certain what happened to Whiskers, but last Sunday one of the boys reportedly “twirled” him in the air and he landed with a thud, made a louder than usual meow and retreated under the bed. Later in the day I noticed he was favoring one leg and the other was limp. A couple of weeks ago one of the boys dropped Whiskers from the upstairs banister onto the stairs below. David observed the cat land on its feet but in retrospect said he believes this could have been the first injury.

I am disappointed in the children’s behavior and have thought a lot about that this week. We try to teach them right from wrong and we certainly don’t condone animal abuse. Aside from this incident I keep reminding myself that they will probably continue to disappoint and we will continue to be forgiving parents and hopefully everyone will learn some lessons along the way. I don’t believe my sons are animal “abusers” but I do think this has been one lesson that they will never forget. They now realize you can’t treat your pets like stuffed animals.

The boy who “twirled” the cat is the same one who upon running home from a friend’s house dropped his tree frog on the sidewalk, accidently stepped on it and entered our house crying hysterically that he’d killed his pocket pet. We buried the frog in the backyard.

The boys were shocked to see Whiskers in his carrier - one leg missing, though they were told what was going to happen - when I picked them up at the babysitters after picking up the cat from the animal hospital. I was glad of this. I told them that day that I hoped they would love Whiskers even more than they did when he had four legs. When we got home the boy who “twirled” the cat and stepped on the frog exited the van crying. “I shouldn’t have done that to Whiskers,” he said. I hugged him and replied, “I forgive you and so does Whiskers.”

I never dreamed a week ago we’d have a three-legged cat. A friend from high school, who is on Facebook, reassured me last Sunday that her cat had broken its leg and pins and plates were used to put him back together again, and that was seven years ago.

An X-ray showed Whiskers’ leg was shattered, said our veterinarian on Monday morning. It would be a tedious operation to repair the leg and it was not guaranteed he would regain full use of the leg. The recovery would require weeks of isolation and little activity. If he didn’t recover, the bum leg would have to be amputated. She then recommended a consultation, perhaps, with an orthopedic animal surgeon. All I saw after the vet's latter comment was dollar signs.

In the half hour I had to decide this cat’s fate, I rationalized that Whiskers' personality would probably change if he had to be confined to a room without any furniture and crated for 6-8 weeks post-op. Whiskers might turn into our last cat, Meg, who not once during the 8 months we had her (she was adopted in March by a Caldwell woman who has no children) let the children pick her up. I also couldn’t fathom the care Whiskers would require for these two critical months. And would the surgery even work? Even after David told me to “put him down,” I decided I could not have Whiskers euthanized. “There is nothing wrong with this cat except a broken leg. He is a wonderful companion,” I told myself over and over again.

So I asked about amputation. Can a cat lead a normal life with three legs? Yes. Have others resorted to amputation in lieu of surgery? Yes. Actually, the vet who performed the amputation said he learned in vet school that dogs and cats “have three legs and a spare.” Before being dismissed from the hospital the doc said Whiskers’ initial difficulty could be with the litter box and learning to bury his waste differently. I’ve not noticed any difference except that maybe there’s a little less litter on the floor (and that’s a good thing). The doc said Whiskers would be able to jump up and down and run like before, and he has.

He’s still slower than his brother Stuart because of the medicine, I think, and the big blue sutures, which come out in a week or so. There is no bandage or other compress to limit his activity. He sleeps a lot but he’s more friendly than he’s ever been – I believe. He is a vocal cat. Whiskers and I had a nice conversation last night in bed, where he rested next to my uncovered feet for a bit. I am keeping him isolated for hours at a time when we are sleeping or not home so Stuart does not tear a stitch before Whiskers heals completely.

Whiskers was shaved from the neck to the stomach but after his fur grows back I think his coat will be just as beautiful as before.

I will post a picture of Whiskers in a couple of months.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kelp Shake

Lee came up with a Kelp Shake recipe today after recently viewing an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants," in which the Kelpshake restaurant was featured where they serve Kelpshakes, a popular soft drink made of kelp juice.
Lee's Kelp Shake has four ingredients: Kelp, milk, ice, chocolate chunks. These ingredients are "blended up in the blender," says Lee.

Lee starts first grade tomorrow.

Lee's recipe - above - translated: kep (kelp), mic (milk), uis (ice), chocit chcs (chocolate chunks) blibd (blended) up (up) in (in) the (the) blibd (blender).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tooth fairy

Well, it's official. The youngest son doesn't believe in the tooth fairy who in the past has taken two days to arrive at this house because there are so many other children who have lost teeth.

Lee, who turns 7 in November, lost another tooth tonight - at dinner.
I thought the white speck on the tip of his tongue was a chopped onion.
"Spit it out if you don't like it, Lee," I said.
"It's not an onion, mom. It's my tooth," he said as it landed on the table.
"Well I think the tooth fairy will be visiting our house tonight," I said.
Long pause.
"I don't believe in the tooth fairy," he said.
"What?????? You don't believe in the tooth fairy?????"
"My mom and dad bring me money when I loose a tooth."
"Dad told me that ... but maybe he's lying."
"Lee, do you believe in Santa Claus?"
"EVERYONE believes in Santa Claus."

Monday, August 10, 2009


Tonight Will announced that the Black Raspberry Jam on his PBJ sandwich looked like blood.
“It is,” I said, “And I’m a vampire!”
Seconds later the comeback kid, Will, added, “It’s not peanut butter mom, it’s blood butter.”
The conversation, though probably not appropriate for little ears or from little mouths, resulted from the fact that I had just finished reading a story in The Daily Jeffersonian headlined “‘Twilight’ wins 11 Teen Choice Awards.”
I’ll admit, I’ve shamefully been “sucked” into the “Twilight” series.
I am not proud and tell few very people that I’m now reading the fourth and final book, “Breaking Dawn” by Stephenie Meyer.
My desire to read the first book stemmed from all the hoopla about the film. I wanted to see for myself what it was all about.
I loved the 1987 comedy-horror film “The Lost Boys.” I couldn’t resist the irrestible head vampire Michael (hunky Jason Patric) and his beautiful Star, played by Jami Gertz. The soundtrack to that film also rocked.
I have not seen the movie “Twilight,” now offered on DVD.
I may watch it some day when I’m home alone.
The trailer for the upcoming “Twilight” sequel “New Moon” played during the previews when we saw “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince” in Zanesville on Saturday.
I had already seen the vampire trailer online and was a little apprehensive about the boys and David (despises horror films) seeing it.
The boys said nothing.
“Wow,” said a sarcastic David as Jacob Black, the teen-werewolf transformed on screen when love-interest Bella Swan was confronted by a thirsty vampire.
I wonder how many of these teens who voted on the Teen Choice Awards have read the books?
The “Twilight” and “New Moon” film images online and on TV are disturbing to me, and yet, I am still a participant in this freak-show, albeit a passive follower.
No one sees what is in my head when I read the stories.
The burning question: Would Bella become a vampire?
I had to keep reading to find out!
Lead character vampire Edward Cullen (actor Robert Pattison) does nothing for my hormones.
Edward and Bella’s relationship is risky in more ways than one even before they are married.
Bella does turn into a vampire.
Edward and Bella parent a half-human, half-vampire baby.
Jacob “imprints” on baby Renesmee. Whoa!!!!! Enough already.
I’m nearly finished with the last book and still can’t understand the attraction to this series.
What are these teens thinking?
Do their parents consent?
Will it ever end ...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Train ride and the Wilds

We're taking a little vacation this week.
Since they were little boys my three sons have loved trains and we've taken rides on scenic lines in Byesville and at Dennison, Ohio.
Thursday we departed a restored depot in the downtown Elkins, W.Va., historic district on a four-hour, 46-mile round trip ride on the New Tygart Flyer.
The air-conditioned streamliner twisted and climbed along the cascading Shaver's Fork of the Cheat River. The ride featured two separate mountain grades, a spectacular "S" curve tunnel - with just a 2 inch clearance on either side of the train - and mile after mile of unspoiled mountain wilderness.
We had a buffet cold-cut lunch on the train. Our cars were furnished with tables and chairs. There were flush-toilet restrooms aboard.
The boys liked the ride.
I was a little disappointed with the train route itself - a lot of woods, and little narration and interaction. While there were a few children aboard, a majority of the riders were "older."
The highlight was unboarding the train at the the inspirational "High Falls of Cheat," an 18-foot high, 150-foot wide waterfall in one of the most remote and pristine setttings in the eastern United States.
We spent about 45 minutes here and then headed back down the track.

Today we took an Open-Air Safari at the Wilds near Cumberland, Ohio, and I loved it but the boys said they liked the train ride better.
The Wilds is one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world, and it's in our backyard!
Located on nearly 10,000 acres, it is home to rare and endangered species from around the world living in natural, open-range habitat. A newer carnivore compound features the cheetah and the African Wild Dog and Dhole (an Asian wild dog).
David said, "It's a money-making machine. I was disappointed we didn't get to see more animals."
We didn't buy any $6.50 hamburgers but we got to see some other unusual animals, several of which you won't see at the zoo. There are special kinds of antelope, birds, deer, sheep, goats and relatives, wild cattle and zebras and wild horses (the Persian Onager - a wild ass is pictured above) in addition to rhinoceroses, giraffes and camels.
I agree the prices are a bit steep but would still recommend at least one visit to the park.
This was my first "real visit."
When the Wilds opened to the public more than a decade ago I wrote a story for the newpaper on the endangered rhinos there. The paper's photographer and I got to go behind the scenes to see the rhinos, which were the only animals at the facility then.
Our guide today, a college student, seemed knowledgeable of his employer's mission and the interaction with the 30 people in our safari vehicle was nice.
For the three to four hours you spend at the Wilds I guarantee you'll forget you're in southeastern Ohio.

Our vacation is coming to an end.
Tomorrow we plan to see the latest "Harry Potter" film and do some back-to-school shopping.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mp3 player

The 10-year-old got a new mp3 player yesterday and it's going back to the store today.
Either the $24.99 player is defective or I'm technically challenged.
Made in China, the 2GB Element player looks cool. It is neon red with an LCD display and has seven backlight options. It has a voice recording and lyric display features, plus it came with the USB cord and ear buds.
So what more could a 10-year-old ask for ...
A mother who can transfer songs from the computer to the player.
Christian is so funny.
He couldn't wait to get it out of the package and tore the thing open in the van.
He said, "Man this is so light. Maybe when I put some songs in it it will get heavier."
I explained the electronic miracle of transfering music to him, which even I don't comprehend.
Later he commented, "It is heavier now" (with the AAA battery installed).
We sat for hours copying music from CDs onto the computer. I am determined to turn him into an '80s music lover.
I have a three-disc collection called Hits of the 80s (original hits by original artists). We downloaded that. Then we gathered some more. A few songs (the ones I could remember that had no cuss words) from Def Leppard, and some Journey, The Cars, Bryan Adams, U2, Foreigner, and The Police. Finally we added Clocks by Cold Play, and McDonald's CDs called Kids Bop 1 & 2 (kids singing catchy, popular songs).
Incidently, the 8-year-old who gave me the moniker Old Lady, Will, decided after the parental screening of music lecture that I probably learned all the cuss words I know from listening to Def Leppard. Ha!
In all we had nearly 80 clips saved on realPlayer ... five hours and 21 minutes of music.
The problem surfaced when I tried, repeatedly, to add the mp3 player device to realPlayer. I never figured this out.
So, I burned the music onto CDs - FOUR of them - and I had to delete songs to get all that music to fit. That shows you how efficient and convenient mp3 players are, even a 2GB player.
I just wonder what is next for our little boys who are every day liking big boy toys more and more.

UPDATE: This afternoon I downloaded a newer version of realPlayer, found the device and successfully transfered the music clips to Christian's mp3 player!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cambridge Area Yard of the Month

Thanks to the Old Man's green thumb, we've got one of the best-looking landscapes in town, and we've again received the Cambridge Area Beautification Council's Special Recognition Award.
This is the second time we've gotten the certificate in the 10 years we've been working on the house and yard.
Our newest flower bed was completed today, almost a week after our names appeared in the paper.
Everyone in the family helped make this bed and everyone loves it!
The bed is the focal point of our new on-street parking pulloff and widened driveway. The concrete for these new areas was poured last week (the day of the choking incident).
The new bed features a huge sandstone boulder which was retrieved from my grandparents' farm in Noble County. It was a cornerstone from the foundation of a wash house on the century-and-a-half-old Watson family homestead. Another accent in the bed is a sandstone address marker that David carved when he worked for a local stone yard.
A professional landscaper for more than two decades and gardening enthusiast, David knows his plants and tonight we made a list of all the perennials, bushes and trees in our yard.
Our newest bed - full sun - features lemon balm, red cardinal flower, China girl holly, Asiatic lily, Stella de Oro daylilies, coral bells, variegated liriope, mums, bells flower, hibiscus (annual), whiteconeflower and blanketflower.
Other perennials around our yard include autumn joy sedum, hens and chicks, purple aster, red and yellow daylilies, purple coneflower, green liriope, at least 10 different varieties of hostas, double knockout rose, old-fashioned yellow rose, Fourth of July rose, Pom Pom Scot's Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce (tree), Cherokee Chief red flowering variegated dogwood (tree), rhododendron, dwarf burning bush, blue sedum, Indian paintbrush, Mimosa (tree), iris, black-eyed Susa, lilac, spiderwort, zagreb coreopsis, hydrangea, oriental poppy, dianthus, green and white euonymus, green and yellow euonymous, lamb's ear, red yarrow, clematis, loosestrife, Dwarf Alberta Spruce, Alaska daisy, crimson pygmy barberry, wand flower, lamium, blueberries, Ravenna grass, sedge grass, mock orange, Texas scarlet quince, ostrich fern, and blanket flower, Little Princess spirea, and Creeping Jenny.
We have lots of annuals too including geraniums, petunias, marigolds, verbena, salvia, dahlia, bacopa, million bells, coleus, lobelia, begonias.
Plants are like clothes for the yard and I think David and I both are always looking for new places to put plants ... but we've run out of closets!
Our backyard, though seldom seen by the passerby, rivals our front yard. So if you're in the neighborhood, take a walk around the house and enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009


This morning one of my worst fears came true. One of the boys was choking and I was the only adult at home.
My kids are bad at the breakfast table. Lately I've been making them eat in shifts so they have no one to entertain. They tell stories, make jokes, yell and scream and laugh, laugh, laugh and sometimes it gets out of control. Today it got out of control.
In addition to uncontrolled laughter, today's cereal time included snorting like a pig, which is another blog for another day.
Just before the choking incident, I warned them to Stop Laughing. No More Snorting. Someone Is Going To Choke.
I warned them I would use the spray bottle on them (for the cats), and perhaps even the wooden paddle, if I heard another outburst.
I ran upstairs to exchange one blouse for another.
When I came downstairs I headed to the table and noticed Lee was acting like he was choking, then I realized he was really choking.
Will and Christian were still.
I stood Lee up and thought "OMG, he's choking!"
I performed a poor imitation of the Heimlich Maneuver. I think I was too high on the chest.
As he continue to suffer, I became worried I would need help.
Three men were pouring concrete outside our house.
I guided Lee to the enclosed front porch, within a shout of the men, where I tried again and he expelled one of the chocolate balls (as in Cocoa Peanut Butter Spheres) and some other goop.
I was relieved I didn't have to call on the concrete workers' help but I wasn't afraid to.
Lee says he told his brothers, just before he choked: "I'm gonna cough up a blueberry!"
He must have been thinking of blueberries.
Lee is alright.
Thank God!

I am going to look into taking a Red Cross CPR class.


Just came in the house and found Lee (superhero son) looking at a book called The Beginners Bible "Jesus Walks on Water." This story facinates Lee, who through a really cool nightly routine, is learning about Jesus and God.

For as long as we can remember, David (the Old Man) has prayed nightly with the children. Christian has his own room and just before bedtime, the boys and their father gather in Lee and Will's room for some conversation that sometimes turns silly but always ends in David asking the boys: "What do you want to thank God for today?" Their answers are simple and sometimes awesome. A lot of times they thank God for material things like Nintendo DS, PlayStation, skateboards, etc. but a lot of times they thank God for the sun, moon, stars, grass, trees, food and water, mom and dad, and Mary, Joseph and Jesus!

This routine is followed by The Lord's Prayer and Now I Lay Me prayer.

Anyway, today, Lee announced, "I'm going to draw a picture of God," after I asked him if he was going to draw a picture of Jesus because he was eyeing the cover of the book.

Here's what Lee says God looks like.
He has fiery eyes, white hair and a white beard, and he has white hands.
He is wearing a white robe with a golden belt.
"He has powers," says Lee.

Lee's picture of God is posted here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yard sale kitty

We're having a yard sale Friday.
Aside from marking all the merchandise is having a yard sale kitty ready to start the sale. I obtained this monetary list in the late '90s from from a library book. I wrote the information down and have kept it in my yard sale folder for reference.
The $50 kitty
-15 one-dollar bills ($15)
-3 five-dollar bills ($15)
-1 ten-dollar bill ($10)
Plus $10 in change:
-15 dimes ($1.50)
- 10 nickles (50 cents)
- 32 quarters ($8)
A kitty this size will allow you to immediately break that $20 bill that someone hands you for a 50-cent item.
I keep my money in a lidded coffee container. As the sale progresses I take big bills in the house for safekeeping.
At one sale this summer I saw a woman wearing tube socks. After I paid she folded the money and slipped it into her sock for safe keeping.
When adding up the profits from your sale make sure you subtract $50 from the total so you have an accurate record of your earnings.
Happy yard saling!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beauty salon

Today I got my hair cut and highlighted at my favorite beauty salon in town. This is the first time in many, many years that I've splurged and let the shop do the highlights. Usually I buy the box at the local department store and pull it through the cap at home.
When I picked up the boys from the sitters they immediately noticed my golden locks.
Everyone agreed that I looked stunning.
Later, the oldest son announced that I looked like an "old lady."
I can't seem to lose that title.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mercer Mayer

The inspiration for our blog name came from my superhero son who loves to draw and read Mercer Mayer Little Critter books.

Superhero son illustrated his own Mercer Mayer book recently, which he titled Just A Soopr Day... thus the name of our blog. His "Superhero" Critter character (an original) also appears here.

Our blog will be a place where you can come for useful news and where the Old Lady will seek parenting, cooking, homemaking, laundry advice, etc. from others.