• Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Meta

Old Person Bingo

BINGO!  It’s easy to cover the Bingo squares under O.  Concerned about fiber. Living room furniture all matches. Excited about Farmers Markets.  Have a kid older than 10.  Increased the font size on your phone. 

            This is a unique Bingo card that doesn’t have numbers; it has phrases. I only have one card which is really a birthday card that I’ve kept beside my writing calendar since July.  Every time I glance at it, I smile.  OLD PERSON BINGO (yes, in all caps) is written at the top on the front.

            If you have Medicare or receive Social Security, you could easily win prizes playing OLD PERSON BINGO, but younger people probably won’t like the game.  Look at the five spaces I covered under O.  Why would anyone not have matching living room furniture? My matching red wing-back chairs are perfect, and the fiber I’m concerned about has nothing to do with the fiber content covering those two chairs.

            Doesn’t everyone increase the font size on mobile phones?  (As I wrote mobile phone, I laughed at myself.  Only an old person who has a land line phone would write mobile.)   Have a kid over 10?  How about five Grands over 10!  And if you’ve ever read columns I’ve written during peak summer harvest season, you know I’m excited about our local Farmers Market.  

            Playing OLD PERSON BINGO, I can win across rows, down columns, and diagonally and I bet many of you could, too.  Wear clothing with additional support.  Does that include those elastic tummy control panels?  Can’t find your keys.  Found grey hairs.  Why do some things disappear and others glare?

            Think dinner at 4 PM sounds pretty good. Think 11 PM is late.  I can’t cover the dinner at 4 space, but everyone knows when both clock hands near 12, it’s late.  (Another old person thinking; I thought of an analog clock, not a digital one.)

            Enjoy jazz.  Don’t recognize any popular music.  Not only do I not recognize popular music, I can’t understand the words.

            Still uses Facebook.  Fan of historical dramas.  Get annoyed about remake of movies.  Worried about the economy.  Have considered moving to Florida. Have a 401K.  Feel stiff for no reason.  Have your own garden.  How many of those spaces can you cover?

            Have said the phrase, “Kids these days…”  Have said, “Ooh, a cheese plate!” in a restaurant.  Oh, the things I’ve said and wished I hadn’t. 

            Maybe my friends and I can create more OLD PERSON BINGO cards and add more phrases.  Doctors are listed among contact favorites.  Ate TV dinners on a metal tray. An exciting evening is watching basketball games on TV.  Do banking in person.  Pay bills by check.  Look forward to mail delivery. Wore plastic bread bags as boots to play in snow. Rereads birthday cards.             Playing OLD PERSON BINGO will be fun and prizes won’t be needed.  Laughing and being with like-minded friends – those are real prizes.


Would You Rather?

My eight-year-old Grand ripped the wrapping paper off his birthday gift and said, “Oh, great! A Would You Rather? book!”  He immediately opened his new book and said, “Who wants to play?”

            Was the book a game? According to the book’s cover, it’s a game book of 300 questions for kids, ages 6-12.  Son read a question aloud, “Would you rather lick the bathroom floor or be toilet paper?”

            Birthday Boy said, “No!” His older brother yelled “Yuck! Neither!”  His younger sister held her nose, grimaced, and shook her head.  Son, Daughter 2 (aka daughter-in-law), Husband and I laughed and the kids insisted we answer.  Neither was our answer.

            Author Simon D. May would not have accepted our answers.  He stated two rules in his book.  1. You have to choose between the two possible answers and be creative and silly and try to make other people laugh.  2. Have fun with all those around you while spending time together. 

            While Husband and I visited our Grands and their parents, who live an airplane ride away, would you rather questions did make all of us laugh and we had some funny and some serious conversations.

            Would you rather eat two live worms or have worms crawling over your body for three hours? We talked off and on about this question for two days.  Do you have to chew the worms?  Could you chop them into small pieces and put chocolate syrup over them?  How about putting them in a smoothie with ice cream and strawberries?  If they’re little worms, you could swallow them quickly and then drink something fast.  What would happen to worms inside your body?

            Could you sit in a bathtub filled with water while the worms crawled on you?  It might feel relaxing.  Or eerie!  It’d make your skin crawl! Three hours, 180 minutes, is a long time – longer than a movie! Finally, most of us agreed that eating two worms could be done quickly and three hours was too long.

            Would you rather turn into a bird when you cry or turn into an owl when you laugh?  My Grands chirped and squealed and hooted to imitate birds.  Could it be any bird? Would you be a human when you weren’t crying or laughing?  What if you just barely laughed?

            The choices of some questions were completely unrelated.  Would you rather give up Netflix or eat the same breakfast for the rest of your life?  Many were about eating, especially eating worms and insects.  Would you rather eat a worm or a bowl full of cockroaches? And some were too gross to talk about – like the bathroom floor and toilet paper question.

            Mr. May states on the inside cover of the book that the questions are silly, hilarious, outrageous, daydreaming, and challenging. The cover could say for all ages, for anyone who likes to laugh and be silly and have fun with others.  

            Would You Rather? is on my birthday wish list. 

Celebrate Birthdays!

On my birthday last month, it wasn’t a coincidence that Kim sent an email to the members of our women’s church circle group.  She wrote, “I want to share a devotional with you today and say it is okay to grow old.”  I agree and I appreciated this encouragement.

            “Wear out, not rust out” is the title of Dr. Joe Pettigrew’s devotion.  He questions why so many quit celebrating as the years pass and asks what it looks like to really celebrate our years. 

            I plan to make a big deal out of birthdays no matter how many candles are on my cakes.  When my children were young, I learned that celebrating their grandparents’ birthdays were happy times and created happy memories.  For a few years, Husband and I have celebrated my birthday with five Grands and their parents at the lake, but we sold the pontoon boat so in June my Grands began asking, “Gran, what’ll we do to celebrate your birthday?” 

            I had the answer. For two days, a huge blow-up water slide was in our backyard and we laughed and slid and splashed.  My Grands discovered ways to twist and bounce down the slide and throw huge water sprays from the pool at the bottom of the slide.  We ate chips and Moon Pies for snacks and hamburgers and chips for supper.  I blew out the many, many candles on my chocolate cake while everyone laughed when the candles continued to burn. 

            Days before my birthday, my 6-year-old Grand had asked, “What do you want for your birthday?” He was surprised that I hadn’t made a list and wondered how anyone would know what I wanted. What if I got something I didn’t like?  Micah was right, and I did want to replace my hummingbird feeder. 

            So now where my old faded feeder had hung, there’s a bright new one that Micah and his siblings gave me. And one morning last week, Micah’s older sister, Lucy, and I sat for over an hour watching two hummers dart and sip.  Would that have been fun for her if she hadn’t given the new feeder and poured sugar water into it?

            I’ve never understood why anyone says, “Oh, I’d rather just skip my birthday.  It’s just another day.” It’s not.  It’s a day that family and friends feel good about wishing you a happy day.  A day to eat cake and ice cream and ignore the calories. A day to remember childhood birthdays when getting a card meant getting money.  To celebrate blessings and overcoming trials.  To make memories for yourself and those who love you.  To look forward to the next birthday and what the future holds. 

            Dr. Pettigrew wrote that the idea of life winding down at age sixty or seventy makes no sense.  He even quoted scripture that gray hair is a glorious crown. I’m making note of those words since I have a natural gray crown.             

Wear out, not rust out.  That’s my intention.

THE Birthday Plate

“Look, Gran, your cake is on THE birthday plate!  And wait ‘til you see inside the cake.  It’s not a plain cake,” said my Grand.

            Elsie, age 12, had used a yellow cake recipe and stirred in Hershey’s Cocoa in half the batter.  She poured the two bowls of batter into round baking pans and then used a knife to swirl the flavors together.  “That’s exactly the kind of birthday cake I asked for when I was a kid,” I said.  “Chocolate and yellow swirled together. I haven’t had one in years.”

            Although my Grand didn’t know the kind of cake Mom made for my birthday, she knew about the glass plate. “What’s so special about THE plate?” Elsie’s younger sister asked. I told the story.

            When I was a little girl, Mom baked two-layer birthday cakes and served them on a glass cake plate.  I inherited the plate after Mom’s death and used it for birthday cakes too. For Dad’s 81st birthday, I baked his favorite yellow cake and frosted it with 7-Minute Icing just like Mom did.  To carry the cake to Dad’s house, I put it inside a plastic carrier with a handle and thought I had securely fastened the carrier top to the bottom.

            Just as I stepped into Dad’s house, I lost my hold on the cake carrier and when the cake plate slide sideways, the carrier opened.  The glass plate and cake fell onto Dad’s wooden floor, right beside his feet. The cake splattered. The plate broke into many pieces.  I cried.

            Dad consoled me saying the top part of the cake could be eaten and the plate wasn’t fine crystal.  He was sure Mom didn’t pay much money for it, and I could probably find another one somewhere.  My only thought was that I’d destroyed a part of every family birthday celebration.

            I rarely shop antique stores or junk stores or garage sales – the places where a 1950s glass cake plate might be available.  But for a year, I was on a mission to replace Mom’s plate and I walked through many stores and sales.  Finally, I spotted a plate, under a huge glass punch bowl, exactly like Mom’s.  Husband helped me move the bowl.  The plate didn’t have a price tag. “I wonder how much it cost,” I said.

            Husband answered, “It doesn’t matter.” The storeowner got cheated.  I gladly paid her price, $12, but I would have paid much more.

             A few months later, girlfriends and I went on a weekend trip. We walked and talked our way through several antiques stores.  “Look,” I said, “it’s another cake plate like Mom’s.  Remember?  The one I broke.”

            “Oh, that’s it?”  said Connie.  “I have one of those.  It doesn’t mean anything special to me.”  So, I bought a second plate for $15 and Connie gave hers to me.

            Now there are three cake plates in our family.  Daughter, Son, and I each have one.  THE birthday cake plate tradition continues.  And sometimes the cake on the plate is a surprise and sometimes it’s an old favorite. ####

Happy Birthday Grandmother!

Happy birthday to the woman who raised Husband! As she celebrates her 90th birthday, I honor my mother-in-law.

Recently, four Grands and I visited Ann, whom we call Grandmother. We asked questions. Where were you born? How many siblings did you have? Did you have to do chores? What did you do for fun?

Born on October 1927, Anna Love and her twin sister, Billie Dove, were the 7th and 8th children of twelve born to Kate and Dock Powell. They were born at home, in Bon Air, White County, Tennessee. Two younger siblings died before their first birthday. Their father worked in the local coalmines and their mother took care of the house, raised the children, cooked, gardened, and sewed the family’s clothes. “When a baby was born, Aunt Annie, Mama’s sister, came to stay with us and helped,” Grandmother said.

“With all those kids maybe she should have stayed all the time,” one of my Grands said. Grandmother laughed and explained that everyone, even the youngest kids helped.

“Let me tell you one of mine and Bill’s jobs,” Ann said. “You know how a hen sets on eggs to hatch chickens? Well, when it rained really hard, the mother hen would get her chicks under her. She spread her wings wide and gathered them. But sometimes, the chicks would drown because they’d be in a low place in the yard and a puddle would form. So we had to get the little chicks out from under the hens and put them in a dry place.”

“We didn’t have bicycles and toys and everything like you do,” Grandmother said. “We played ball and hopscotch. I saved a piece of glass for hopscotch.”

“Glass? A sharp piece of glass?” a Grand asked.

“No, a big piece that had smooth edges. It was just right for hopscotch.” Grandmother told about playing in the creek in the springtime. She and her sisters took their shoes off even though their mother told them not get wet. To avoid spankings, the girls didn’t go home until they were dry.

When asked about Christmas presents, Grandmother remembered that her mother made a little couch and two chairs and hid them under quilts. She and Bill found the little furniture and played with it before Christmas. “Mama could make anything and made things for all of us. She sewed and canned and cooked. She baked Christmas cakes – coconut, chocolate, and fruitcake – and we always had plenty to eat. At Christmas, we had a feast and everybody came,” Grandmother said.

Grandmother’s eyes twinkled and she grinned as she reminisced. My Grands wiggled, giggled, and listened. They knew before they left her house Grandmother would offer a jumbo pack of gum and just a little treat. Usually a package of their favorite cookies or candy.

Ann has passed on her mother’s joy for sharing and giving to her four children, five grandchildren, twelve great-grands, and us in-laws. She’s a blessing and I wish her the best birthday ever!

70 is just a number, right?

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 7.36.06 AMSeventy. A number on interstate highway signs: Speed Limit 70. The calories in 3 ½ ounces of Greek yogurt topped with a few blueberries, 70. About the cost of a LEGO Ninjago set that several of my Grands might write on their Christmas list, $70. The weight I set on the YMCA leg curl machine, 70 pounds.

Seventy is an easy number to write unless it’s on a form listing my name and age. 70. I don’t like writing 70 years old.

When I celebrated my birthday recently, friends said, “It’s just a number.” Yes, a big number. Someone said, “Seventy is the new 50.” No, I don’t agree. “Age is only in the mind.” And in my body. “You aren’t old. Old is ten years older than we are,” I was told.

Try to tell anyone under age forty that 70 isn’t old. And certainly don’t try to convince anyone twelve or under, the ages of all eight Grands, that 70 isn’t old. My six-year-old Grand asked, “So Gran, you’re really old now, right?”

I think of my grandmothers at 70. When Granny picked beans in her garden, her white hair hid under a broad brim straw hat. Her long sleeve, button-up-the-front shirtwaist dress fell almost to her ankles. She spent her days cutting out quilt pieces, stitching them together by hand, then quilting the quilt on a wooden frame that hung from her bedroom ceiling. Her social life was church, phone visits with friends, and Saturday afternoon talk around the town square.

Grandma Gladys wore black, laced shoes with chunky heels and thick stockings held up by garters. She fried bacon and eggs for Papa’s and her breakfasts and fried pork chops and potatoes for supper. Rheumatoid arthritis and depression prevented most activities outside of her home, but her three daughters visited often and every Sunday Papa took her for a drive. In the 1950s, I thought my 70-year-old grandmothers were old. Just as my Grands think I am now.

But I wear shorts, almost touching my knees, but nevertheless shorts, and tee shirts. I slip my feet into Birkenstocks and my hairdresser makes people assume my only gray hair is the streak front and center. Meet friends for lunch. Exercise at the Y (occasionally). Write and share columns and memories. Travel and vacation with family and friends. Chauffeur Grands. Stitch a little. Search the web. With Grands, play piano and write. Play board and card and word games with anyone who’s willing. Read books. And wish for more time and more energy.

I treasure a quote by Satchel Paige, ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?’ Maybe 40? 55? Even 67? Since my days are hardly different than when I retired from teaching eight years ago, I choose 62.

I don’t like how 7 and 0 look together, but I’m working on it and probably when the calendar declares I’m 71 years old, 7 and 0 will look better.


Happy Birthday!

It’s birthday season in our family. All eight Grands were born between March 17 and June 8. All spring babies. And that means birthday cakes, candles, and singing “Happy Birthday.” The perfect picture is the birthday boy or girl blowing out the candles while everyone else sings. So how did this tradition begin? Why do we have birthday cakes? Why candles? Who wrote “Happy Birthday?”

Birthday cakes were traditional for Ancient Romans. They celebrated someone’s birth with pastry and one theory about birthday candles goes back to that time. People brought cakes adorned with lit candles to the temple of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. The candles’ glow was like the glow of the moon, a symbol associated with Artemis, and it was believed that the smoke carried prayers to the heavens. Today’s tradition of making wishes before blowing out birthday candles may have come from that belief.

Or maybe the tradition of birthday candles can be credited to the Germans. In the 1700s, the Germans traditionally placed one lit candle on a cake to celebrate children’s birthdays. The candle symbolized the light of life. In 1746, a Count celebrated his birthday with an extravagant festival. According to an article in Mental Floss, published January 2014, “there was a Cake as large as any Oven could be found to bake it, and Holes made in the Cake according to the Years of the Person’s Age, every one having a Candle stuck into it, and one in the Middle.”

It’s no surprise to me that “Happy Birthday” was written by a schoolteacher. Teachers have always come up with little ditties to lighten the work of a school day. In 1893, a Kentucky kindergarten teacher, Patty Hill, and her older sister wrote the original lyrics: “”Good morning to you / Good morning to you / Good morning, dear children / Good morning to all.”

Later, in the early 1900s the lyrics were changed to become our beloved birthday song. A song sung around kitchen tables, in banquet halls, at the grandest of parties. In movies and radio. And then, in 1934, the Hill sisters secured a copyright over the song if it was sung for profit.

In 1988, after a series of acquisitions, Warner Music became the owners of “Happy Birthday” and reported earning $2 million yearly. Half of those royalties went into The Hill Foundation, set up in the sisters’ honor. But there were rumblings and arguments that the song belonged to public.

In 2013, a filmmaker filed a lawsuit against Warner Music over the copyright. Two years later “Happy Birthday” was declared public domain and royalties for its use would no longer be paid to Warner Music. “Happy Birthday” should belong to the public. I never imagined it otherwise. It’s the most sung song.

I’m thankful to Ancient Romans, Germans, and a kindergarten teacher who all contributed to making our family birthday celebrations fun. What would a birthday be without cake, candles, and singing?

Birthday Memories

imagesMy baby girl celebrated her birthday last week. Seems she grew up, went away to college, taught school, married, birthed babies – all in a flash of time. Even though she’s a mother, she’s still my girl.

Daughter was Husband’s and my first child. To take her home from the hospital, I dressed her in a frilly pink outfit with a white lace collar. The top barely covered her belly and the plastic lined bloomers were much too big over her cloth diaper. I swaddled her in a pink blanket and tied the ribbon attached to her white eyelet bonnet under her chin. The thirty-minute ride to our home seemed long. She cried. No doubt she was hot, uncomfortable, and unhappy strapped in an infant seat. I rocked and cuddled as soon as we were home. I didn’t want to put her down.

For her first birthday, Daughter had a three-layer cake, frosted with white icing and decorated with pink and purple and yellow flowers. She wore a white and blue bubble suit and no shoes. I set her on the kitchen table right beside the cake and encourage her to dig in. She smeared icing on her hair, face, clothes, and even her toes. And she smiled and laughed and babbled and entertained all who watched – grandparents, aunts, uncles, Husband and me.

Tennessee Tech’s homecoming coincided with her 5th birthday and Tech’s parade was just for her. She shook purple and gold shakers, gathered a bucketful of candy thrown by people riding on floats, and high-fived with Awesome Eagle.

When Daughter was ten, she planned her party, a skating party at the roller rink. With her friends, she skated for hours as I watched and silently prayed that no one would get hurt. They raced and chased each other. Skated on one skate. Held hands and slung the last person off the long whip. Thankfully, there were no broken bones or serious bruises. Not even for us grown ups, wearing skates, as we hugged the wall to stay out of the way. We ate pizza and strawberry cake, and then skated more. Great fun for kids.

Then came her 16th birthday when Daughter’s friends threw a surprise pizza party. I was happy they loved her enough to celebrate, and my only contribution was to order an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. One of Daughter’s friends picked up the cake and since they didn’t have knife, and didn’t ask for one at Pizza Hut, they set the cake in the middle of the table and all dug in with their forks.

During her college years, I mailed cards and gifts, wished her happy birthday over the phone and sent silly emails. And I realized that Daughter was as I’d prayed she’d be – an independent woman.

Last year Daughter’s husband and children planned a big celebration. They invited friends and served a catered meal. Guests laughed at pictures of past birthday celebrations.

In recent birthday pictures, Daughter isn’t alone. Ten years ago, she held her firstborn in her arms. Last week, her five children surrounded her and together they blew out the candles on her cake. The youngest, age 17 months, cried. Maybe it was the off key singing or the loud noise. I snapped a picture and then comforted Daughter’s baby boy and hoped no one noticed that I wiped his tears and then mine.

Children become adults much too fast.


Birthday Celebrations

IMG_1678Today is my birthday and I’m celebrating! I’ve never understood why anyone acts like having a birthday is a burden.   Why not be happy just as your parents were when you were born? As you were when you were 5? When you are 21?

And why say, “Oh, we don’t have to do anything special.” Those who love you want to celebrate and are happy when you choose the way, like Cathy did on her birthday last October.

Cathy is Daughter’s and my friend. Her age hits right in the middle of ours. She and Daughter bonded during the years they taught 5th grade in next-door classrooms. Cathy and I crossed paths at church, at social events, and as fellow teachers. Cathy loves Daughter’s children – in fact, she loves all children. So on her birthday, she celebrated with kids. Five of my Grands.

“Mom,” Daughter said in a phone call to me, “Cathy called and you might want to come by our house after lunchtime today. Cathy says she’d bringing stuff for her own birthday party.”

My Grands sat on their covered back porch watching for Cathy and they ask questions. Do you think she’ll bring a cake? What’s her favorite ice cream? Will she bring her own gift? Shouldn’t we give her something? How many candles will be on her cake? Can we help her blow out the candles? Is anyone else coming?

“I’m here! Let’s eat cake and ice cream!” Cathy shouted as soon as she opened her car door. She had made a one-stop shopping trip at the grocery store and she handed my older Grands, ages 7 and 9, packages to open. Birthday plates and napkins decorated with balloons. My five-year-old Grand put a candle on each of the dozen cupcakes. Six chocolate decorated with white icing. Six yellow, iced with chocolate. All with multi-colored sprinkles.

I opened the packaged individual ice cream cups. Chocolate and vanilla swirl. My three-year-old Grand put a small plastic spoon on top of each ice cream cup and Daughter passed out the individual packages of fruit drinks. This event had to be documented with a picture. I got my camera ready and Daughter, Cathy, and my Grands gathered close to each other.

“Wait!” said Cathy, “I forgot something.” She pulled two more packages out of a plastic grocery bag. Two packages with black looking hair. “They didn’t have birthday hats so I got mustaches!”

Mustaches. Black, fuzzy, stick-on mustaches. Cathy stuck hers on first. Then Daughter and four of my Grands, ages 3-9, and they all giggled and squealed.   Once again they grouped together for a picture. “What about Micah?” asked my oldest Grand. Micah, age four months, sat calmly in Cathy’s lap amid all the chaos. And he wasn’t exactly happy about having something stuck right under his nose, but he and his brother and sisters wore their first mustaches – long enough for a picture.

“Happy Birthday” has never been sung louder or more off key. Every cup of ice cream was eaten.   The icing on every cupcake was licked off and the cakes nibbled. Such laughing. Such a happy time. So much fun.

So, following Cathy’s example, I made plans for today. There’ll be children and cake and ice cream. No mustaches. Maybe a surprise or two. Surprises for those who celebrate with me.

Anywhere You WAnt

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 7.52.09 AMDaughter and I told my two Grands that while we were on an overnight trip to celebrate their birthdays, each could choose a place to eat. Ruth, turning 6, chose the Rainforest Café for lunch. It was convenient for our shopping at Opry Mills where the girls would later build bears. Lou, almost 8, doesn’t like the Rainforest Café. Its thunderstorms. Loud, roaring and squawking animals. Trees and bushes. The food. She’d wait outside in the mall.

As Ruth and I followed the hostess to a corner booth, I heard Daughter use her mother voice and minutes later she and Lou joined us. Ruth loves everything about this restaurant that her sister hates. “Look! There’s the elephants making their loud noises,” Ruth said. This Grand was thrilled. She ate most of the hotdog and potatoes that she ordered while Lou sampled her tomato soup and ate two packages of crackers and a crunchy yeast roll. “Remember,” Lou said, “I’m picking the supper place!”

There were many choices near the Providence Marketplace in Mt. Juliet. After an hour-long swim in our hotel’s swimming pool, both girls were eager to eat supper. “What are you hungry for?” Daughter asked Lou. We settled into our van and everyone buckled seat belts, the girls seated behind Daughter and me. Lou said, “What’s the choices?” And that’s when Daughter and I made our mistake.

“Anywhere you want to go,” I said. Daughter added, “Look around. There are lots places here. You pick.”   Then we announced a few places. Panera Bread. Chick-fil-A. Wendy’s. New York Pizza. Lou shook her head after every restaurant we named. Daughter drove slowly around the shopping center parking lot.

“Wait!” Lou said, “Is that Kroger? Let’s go to Kroger!” Daughter and I laughed. “We’re not buying food to cook,” Daughter said.

“No cooking,” Lou said with a big smile. “Let’s go to Kroger and get Lunchables!”

“Lunchables aren’t supper,” said Daughter. “It could be. Get two,” said Lou. I named more restaurants. “Kroger. Lunchables,” my Grand said.

Daughter said, “There’s no place in Kroger to eat.”

“Then we’ll take them back to our hotel room,” Lou said. I said that I wanted to put my feet under a table to eat, not while sitting on a bed. “Then we’ll take them to the swimming pool. There’s tables and chairs there.” I didn’t explain that food wasn’t allowed in the pool area. We were passed the point of being reasonable.

“How about frozen yogurt?” said Daughter. I suggested Marble Slab ice cream.

“Kroger Lunchables! Kroger Lunchables!” Lou chanted happily. Ruth joined in. My two Grands clapped to the beat of their singsong voices. “You said anywhere!” Lou interjected. Daughter and I shook our heads and smiled at each other. “And I didn’t like the Rainforest!” Lou reminded us.

Daughter and I looked carefully at the sign painted on Panera Bread’s door. It didn’t say “No Outside Food” so we stashed Lou’s and Ruth’s suppers inside our purses. We chose a back corner table. Daughter’s and my bowls of soup were delicious and my Grands ate every morsel of their Luncheables.

“Haven’t you written a column about Luncheables?” Daughter asked. I nodded. “This might rate another.”

How could a grandmother and a mother, both former elementary school teachers, not name three choices? Never ever say “Anywhere you want to go.” Never.