Believing in Magic


The magical innocence of children…it’s the wonder of it that draws me in like a vacuum hose to sawdust.

Recently, my husband and I spent some time in Disney World with my oldest son, daughter-in-law and three of our young grandchildren. Their eldest daughter, at just five years old was up for anything. Riding rollercoasters of tall and fast, lumbering in a log toward splashing white rapids and marveling at roaming wild animals during a jungle safari. She loved the beauty of colored gardens and especially, getting autographs from her favorite Disney characters.

My only grandson who is just about to turn three gripped his grandpa’s hand while eyeing Captain Hook during a boat ride through storyland. Soon he fell down Splash Mountain, opening his mouth wide in joyous laughter. And later, he was thrilled to discover the Wild Animal Park hopping up and down on windy dirt roads in a bumpy jeep. One of his favorite things to do was climb the ropes around Dinosaur Land, and later, dig for “prehistoric” bones hidden in the cool dry sand under a billowy canopy.

The youngest of my grandchildren was carried by her mother in a knapsack of sorts that fitted across her waist and chest. There, Mama’s infant was serene and sublime most of the time. Hardly a peep was ever heard from this little one on any given day. She was exactly where she wanted to be: nestled against Mama.

One of the biggest hits of Disney World was having breakfast while meeting some of my grandchildren’s favorite Disney characters: Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickie & Minnie Mouse. To see their faces light from deep within, feel their emotions, and hear the bell of their giggles was truly priceless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them happier in the whole of their lives. It’s a morning I shall never forget for as long as I live.

As we left, my grand-daughter posed a serious question. “Grandma, are the characters REAL or are they people just wearing costumes? “Hmmm,” I thought. “How shall I answer this precious child?” I certainly didn’t want to take the allure out any of the joy we had just witnessed. “Well, sweetie, we are at Disney World where everything is magic. So, yes, here the characters are real.”

*Think like a child again. Put a little magic in your life today!

 

My Mother’s House


Thinking of my mother…a post written long ago in 2013

Yesterday, I said, “Good-Bye,” to my mother’s house. The one she and my father shared for over twenty years. Made of white stucco with a red tile roof, and a lovely front portico hovering over the dual wooden door. To all others, it’s a typical ‘Arizona’ house, but to me, it will forever remain my mother’s house.

My parents moved to this home sometime in 1989. I was a proud realtor back then and sold it to them. It wasn’t far from where I lived, just around the corner. My little family of three lived close enough to see. My parents followed us from their home in Michigan to escape the cold and the poor economy at the time. There were other reasons too. They had relatives who lived there, my mother’s sisters and an aunt, and my younger brother too.

I knew this day would come, and it’s time for it now. My mother’s been gone over three years. My father didn’t rush, he grieved as he should. Sand passed through the hour-glass, and things settled down as I knew they would. This is the last step in the order of things. My dad is ready now. He has moved on with his life and has a new place to go. I am happy for him. My siblings are too. He is 81 years old. What a treat it is to see him laugh and play, to sing and dance his early night away!

There is a sign in my mother’s front yard that says, “For Sale.” An offer to buy is being negotiated today. I may never step inside my mother’s house again on any given day. I knew it yesterday. I walked slowly through each and every room, soaking up memories of the past. Glancing up and down, brushing floors with fingers, tenderly touching walls with warm cheeks, and gazing at mirrors with pictures only I can see.  Memories everywhere….  The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, our children who slept on the floor in front of the fireplace. Oh, the fun we had!  The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, the wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere.  They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. She’s bending down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful looking this way.  Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

Memories everywhere….Sights and scents. The food she cooked, the holidays we spent, my children together with cousins who slept on the floor in front of a roaring holiday fireplace. Oh, the fun we had! The lemon pie she baked from scratch, the bird bath in the back, wind chimes singing on the patio, and the blooming yellow roses planted everywhere. They were her favorites flowers you know.  And, if I close my eyes ever so tight, I can almost see her there. Mother is kneeling down to smell a new bloom or nipping a fresh bud to place in her favorite aqua-blue vase. She’s truly beautiful. Always smiling at her carefully tended roses with the sun warming her precious porcelain face.

The big front door is closing now. As the old bronze lock clicks tight, I  shall forever be at my mother’s house, surrounded by yellow roses, soaking up the smile on her beautiful porcelain face…………

The Perfect Rose

New Life-New Year


Around the world people are counting down ‘till the hands of a clock strike twelve. Corks will pop atop bottles of bubbly, kisses and hugs will be shared while resolutions are repeated. Young and old will wish for a wonderful New Year through hopes and dreams and tears and laughter.

Recently, my heart spilled with joy while empty rooms of my home were filled shortly before Christmas. Father flew in from Phoenix, while my youngest son and his family drove from Nashville. Tired grand-babies tumbled from the car before falling into my squeezing arms.

During the silent night of Christmas Eve, a cell phone jingled its bells, waking my husband. He darted from under the covers before speeding to our eldest son’s to await sleeping children soon to discover Santa. My daughter-in-law was about to deliver my sixth grandchild.

Shortly after brunch on Christmas day, while stockings were emptied and presents were opened, my fifth grand-daughter was born in the quiet of a nearby hospital. Felicity Noelle, meaning “Happy Christmas,” weighed in at just over seven pounds, wearing a cap of silky hair the color of coal.

Surely, the gift of new life brings promises of a Happy New Year to all. Many blessings to you during 2017 with wishes of good health, success, and happiness.

“Grandma Joan”


She was an English war bride, named Joan. Losing her first love shortly after throwing her bouquet, she left her homeland and all that she knew to live in America with her second husband while still grieving her first. It wasn’t long after the war, and she had dreams of the new world awaiting her.

Joan was a kind and gentle soul who had a soft lilting voice, the tone of which reminded me of a string of tinkling brass bells moved by mellow winds during the warmth of a late spring day. While I worked outside the home, Joan sat for my eldest son who was just a baby at the time. It didn’t take long before our family more or less adopted her, calling her, “Grandma Joan.” She touched my baby as though he was her own, rocked him gently and bundled him close. Joan took him for rides in a stroller where he dangled a pudgy fist, hoping her black poodle, Pepper, would tickle it with his pink tongue. She taught him to feed fuzzy, quacking ducks in the lime green pond of the park and read him fairy tales before tucking him in for naps before toppling A.B.C. blocks.  And, when my second son was born she joyously added him to the fold, kissing him from head to toe.

Before long, “Grandma Joan,” spent almost every holiday with us including Christmas and birthdays. I remember whipping up her favorite German chocolate cake for a milestone birthday one year, while my toddlers surprised her with presents she didn’t need but loved to receive. One Christmas day, she delighted me with the gift of an angel soft afghan colored in cream. Surely it took many hours of love and toil to make such a dream. Today, nearly thirty years later, I still wrap up in the warmth of it while dozing in her scent. Joan taught my children manners and messages that can never be replaced while giving me memories of proper grace.

Occasionally, I sensed a chasm of pain behind Joan’s golden rims of wire. Reflecting pools of blue never to surface. A life of  youth and love sunken by war and loss.  As close as we were, some things were better left unspoken. People come in and out of each other’s lives at just the right time as part of fate or from a plan high above in Heaven. During the time we spent with Joan, her husband was dying in a nursing home from Alzheimer’s disease. And, before meeting Joan, my own little family had just moved from afghanout-of-state. We craved the love and touch of maternal wisdom. Suddenly, out of nowhere hearts and homes collided providing both with an extension of a family. Kindness, trust, and love.

This morning a chill is in the air. Doodle dog is by my side as I sit by the fire wrapped in an afghan of cream where I am forever thankful for “Grandma Joan.”

 

 

 

Costumed Charm


The other day we enjoyed Trick-or-Treating with two of our grandchildren in my favorite Missouri city, St. Charles. It is the third oldest city in the state. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Charles,_Missouri Founded in the mid-1700’s by a French-Canadian fur trader, St. Charles looks much like it did hundreds of years ago. The city has been preserved, making visitors feel like they’re stepping back into time. Quaint shops line the original cobblestone streets with a beautiful backdrop of the great Missouri river behind them. Rich in charm, original gingerbread architecture, and filled with history, St. Charles is the last known stop of the Lewis and Clark expedition way back in 1804. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition

Monday was such a perfect day for Halloween with temperatures rising into the mid-70’s. Surprisingly warm, it might have felt even hot to some of the costumed creatures covered in hair from head to toe. A few were sweating with chocolates melting. Still, others didn’t mind, so thrilled they were to soak up the sun. Charming shops shared treats with characters, big and small until our own little Super Heroes stopped to say, “I don’t want any more candy.” The kids were tired. Little legs had walked a long way. Grandpa carried our grandson on his shoulders while I pushed a stroller. Buckets were heavy, make-up dripped on the monster’s face next to me while a hot pink wig suddenly fell upon a bale of hay.

Afterward, dinner was enjoyed at my son and daughter-in-law’s house while a menagerie of children rang the bell. Ghosts and goblins came to the door, witches of black dusted off brooms and cheerleaders shook pom-poms before cheering for more. Our grand-kids donned satin capes, sure to save a mission or two before calling it a night.

Not long before the children’s bedtime, we gathered ’round the television to watch the movie, Room on the Broom adapted from the children’s book by Julia Donaldson, published in the spring of 2014. No tricks here, just one giant TREAT to end a terrific afternoon and evening of delight.

Below are links to a reading of the book as well as the movie. Please enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWB0goTWZic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuIZThG1APA

 

 

Do you know how to publish an ebook with pictures?


If you want to publish picture books, don’t waste any more time. Head on over to Jean’s blog to learn simple and easy steps to jump-start your publishing career! Thanks, Jean!

Using MS-Word?

Success at last! When I loaded it up to KDP, everything worked!i-did-it

If you write children’s books or comic books, I’m sure you’ve heard of Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. This program is terrific. However, the program limits which electronic devices that can open and read the book.

I wanted my picture books to be available on e-readers and tablets. I found out after using KKBC for A Most Reluctant Princess; this wasn’t possible. Using KKBC limits which electronic devices available.  Since publishing my first picture book, I’ve read tips, blogs, instructions, and watched videos searching a way to use MS-Word.

No one had the answers I needed. So, I began experimenting until I figured out a process that worked.

My new book, A Reluctant Little Prince, in e-book form, is written on MS-Word and can be read on a Kindle. Yay!

For the print version…

View original post 132 more words

Halloween Innocence


Trick-or-Treat for Halloween

Costumed monsters or movie queens

Door to door to ring a bell

Heart is beating thumping well

Treats of sweet sinking bag

Stuffed inside so full of swag

Chocolate pretzels plus kids to tag

Distant sounds and spiderwebs

Pumpkin smiles and waxy teeth 

Peek inside then run and hide

Witch’s hat atop hair of red

Have no fear she is a dear

Biggest treat I’ve ever had

Jokes and smiles to send me off

Treasures emptied upon my floor

Sit and count them to the door

One or two gobbled whole

Brush my teeth and scrub my face

Pajama time another race

Tuck me in with story time

Lashes long now falling fine

Friendly ghosts are in my mind

Magic wishes and floating dreams

Oh what a Happy Halloween

Some photos courtesy of Google Chrome

Hope and Fear


As we near the end of October, the official month of Breast Cancer Awareness, please pause to remember the many woman and men who are affected by this condition. https://siteman.wustl.edu/treatment/cancer-types/breast-cancer/risk-prevention-and-

Breast cancer in America is the most common type of cancer diagnosis, second only to skin cancer, among women. Over the course of their lifetimes, about 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Among American men, the odds are about 1 in 1,000 of being diagnosed with breast cancer. https://www.bcrfcure.org/breast-cancer-statistics Yet, thanks in part to the October month of Breast Cancer Awareness, education has increased, and research funds have continued to rise allowing improved quality of lives. Today, breast cancer is often treated as a Chronic Condition. Women and men live longer lives and are often cured!

I cannot begin to put myself in the shoes of someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know how it feels to stare the unknown devil in the face or to wonder about my tomorrows. But, I do know the fear of the possibility. I know too, how it feels to lose someone to this disease. The sorrow and deep absence of a loved who is no longer with us. The pain and struggle of children whose mother disappears forever.

Many years ago, a friend of mine, a former college roommate was diagnosed at a very young age. Thankfully, she was cured! https://www.bcrfcure.org/ Today, she happily lives and works in the same town she grew up in, the one where she raised her son from toddler to young adulthood. She lives productively, giving back to the community, thankful to be alive each and every day.

In the years between, I’ve brushed the arm or touched the hand of many others who have lived with breast cancer. I saw the fear in the glass of their eyes while feeling hope through the warmth of their skin. With cancer, hope and fear seem to coincide.

Like every woman should, I practice a monthly self-breast exam. Still, I was surprised when my doctor discovered a lump during my last annual physical. It was about the size of a small green pea, she said. The size that rolls around your plate next to roast beef and mashed potatoes during a family dinner. Although I had a normal mammogram a few months earlier, my doctor smiled cautiously while scheduling another.

During the next few weeks, I followed my doctor’s orders by having a second mammogram. The technician performed it before asking the radiologist to do yet another. I was taken into the next room where an ultrasound depicted even better pictures. To my relief, everything was determined to be normal and they sent me on my way.

About a week later, while driving my cell phone rang. The speaker blared from the seat next to me, “Your doctor would like you to see a breast specialist.” Shaken, I pulled into a parking lot where I was able to jot down a name and address. Upon returning to my office, I looked up the doctor’s referral. My computer screen highlighted the words, Cancer Surgeon. Air left the whole of my inside. Quickly, like a bright red balloon floating across a western sky only to land atop a desert green cactus. “P.O.P!”

Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, I absorbed palatable emotions as each new person stepped through the door or waited for their name to be called aloud. Some women were alone while others held hands of supportive boyfriends or husbands. Arms of chairs were clutched tighter with knuckles turning white. Smiles of strained were seen here or there while ears listened to gentle whispers. Occasionally tired heads lay on soft shoulders for comfort. Arms all around. A sisterhood was felt between women who had never met before. Bonding and empathy. Soon, each one would be pronounced cancer free, or they would begin one of the most difficult journeys of their lives.

Fear and Hope….

*After the “Breast Specialist” examined me and reviewed all of my records, I received fantastic news, “Cancer Free!” Still, I don’t take anything for granted. I will continue to do monthly self-breast exams, see my personal physician regularly, and never miss an annual mammogram screening. They are proven to be one of our best defenses in the world of early breast cancer detection. So if you are a woman, especially over forty, schedule a mammogram today. Please don’t wait until tomorrow.

 

 

Penny For Your Thoughts?


Long before I knew what growing up ever meant, I had two maternal aunts who were never far from my side, always ready to show me the way. My mother was one of four sisters, one slightly older followed by two younger half-sisters, several years younger. There was never any deviation between the four girls. They loved and fought with the gusto of any sisters, full blood or not.

Upon my birth, my mother’s little sisters, suddenly aunts of mine were only five and seven years of age. Throughout the years, we more or less grew up together, and I often thought of them as big sisters, more friends than relatives. We had a bond, often whispering to each other our innermost secrets and dreams, or wishes for the future which of course changed as the years went by.

When my little brother was three, he needed open heart surgery, one of the first to be performed at U of M Children’s Hospital https://kimgosselinblog.com/2013/10/30/loving-mother-infant-heart-surgery/. I went to stay with my grandparents during this precarious time, including several visits afterward whenever extended follow-up was needed. My aunts made my life magical during a stage in my life that could have easily turned traumatic. They took me under their wings, played with me like a baby doll, and made me feel safe and secure. I remember sharing a room with them, where we slept together in bunks of two while listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, on their phonograph over and over again. One of my aunts had to climb down the ladder to move the needle over every time the 45 record ended. Up and down, down and up. And, every afternoon, as soon as the two stepped off a giant yellow school bus, another of them would scoop me up before plopping me inside the front of rattan bicycle basket where the three of us rode off into the woods. There, we often sat on the rough of a fallen log where they made up stories while braiding my hair. Sometimes a snack or two was shared while we hunted for woodland treasures, caught frogs or waded in the clear of a bright blue stream among slippery silver minnows. 

The Chipmunks, as seen in the live-action/CGI ...

My aunts, of course, grew older before I did until one day, both of them had boyfriends. By then, I was simply a pest they wanted to swat away. Their sweethearts used to pay me to run across the street where an old neighborhood store sat on the corner. “Buy yourself anything you want,” they said. Suddenly, a shiny silver quarter was stuffed into my pocket, allowing me to purchase handfuls of penny candy. “Take your time.” Far too soon, I was back in front of them carrying a little white paper bag. Bazooka bubbles of gum smiled and popped directly in front of their boyfriend’s faces!

Bins of candy on display at Murphy's Candy and...

When my parents traveled for work, one or the other aunt would often babysit, staying for a weekend or more to wrangle me and my four younger siblings. They attended high school by this time, and I thought they were so cool. One day, I wanted to be just like them! We often shared my mom and dad’s king-sized bed, where I listened to whispered worries in the light of the moon. Treasured secrets never to tell….

Years later, when I married, one aunt was a bridesmaid, while the daughter of the other was my flower girl. Tragedy struck on one of the happiest days of my life. The aunt of my little flower girl had a seizure at the reception and was quickly taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She adored children, especially babies, and rooted me on during my monthly struggle with infertility. Nearing her end, she said, “Come’on, Kimmy. Hurry up and get pregnant! I want to hear the good news before anyone else. Promise me!!”

My aunt passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 34. Three months later, when my EPT tested positive, I dried my tears, hopped into my coveted canary yellow Chevette and drove to the cemetery. There at her gravesite, I bawled my eyes out while sharing my blessing. Yes, she was the first one to hear.

Penny for your thoughts?

Silence of The Lambs


This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental health conditions affect over 42 million people, approximately one in five or 20%. To my surprise, the statistics of one in five are the same found in children.  Yes, children…..

http://www.speakupforkids.org/report.html

I know of a little girl, who currently lay in a children’s hospital bed under mandated psychological observation after trying to commit suicide. She’s been abused emotionally and probably physically under the supervision of her single parent. Ever since birth, she’s been moved from one home to another while being kept isolated, often missing school. She has little to no social life, having been groomed to be her parent’s caregiver while being encouraged and/or allowed to take part in illegal drug abuse. Recently, a social worker stepped in, taking a drug test of the child, and indeed she tested positive. Like most abused children, this innocent one would do anything to protect her mother, anything in the world to sustain her mother’s love. Even to the point of taking her own life in order to silence herself.

I thank God for saving this child, and ask that she be provided the best possible mental health care. She needs true love, patience, and understanding, together with counseling and a stable home in the future. All of which are waiting for her.

We must remember not only the 42 million adults who suffer each and every day with a mental health condition but also the 1 in 5 children who are rarely mentioned. They must not be forgotten. Children most often do not recognize symptoms, nor do they understand that help is available! These innocent lambs are silent.

The above little girl’s case is rare. Most children living with mental health conditions are from warm and loving homes with parents who may not know their child needs help.

Mental health conditions should be treated as Chronic Conditions without any stigma. To all and everyone, please look for warning signs in children. No child should ever have to suffer.

Pick up the phone, you may save a life today!

Warning Signs of Mental Conditions in Children:

  1. Mood Changes
  2. Intense Feelings
  3. Behavior Changes
  4. Difficulty Concentrating
  5. Unexplained Weight Loss
  6. Physical Symptoms: Compared with adults, children may develop headaches & stomachaches rather than depression & anxiety.
  7. Substance Abuse: Children may try to cope with their feelings through alcohol or drugs.
  8. Self-Injury or Self-Harm: The act of deliberately hurting one’s own body, such as cutting or burning. Children with a mental health condition may also develop suicidal thoughts or actually attempt suicide.