Category Archives: Family

The First Toddler Sleepover


We had the TX grands over for a sleepover this week while their parents were off celebrating their anniversary.  This was the first time that the youngest, who is 2 years old, would be staying overnight with us and I was a bit worried.  Oh, first a disclaimer.  The two older siblings aren’t really a unicorn and a giraffe.  Those were “crafts with Nana” that we had just worked on.  The toddler is the little, mischievous guy on the right.

When it was time for bed, the two older ones went off to my craft room where we have a bunk bed set up for them.  No problem.  I had set up Scooter’s bed in the guest room along with a baby monitor since his parents had told us that he would most likely keep the other two awake if put in the same room with them.

Scooter and “Papa”

Scooter went to bed and with just a little bit of crying, he went right to sleep.  Wow, that went well.  Fairly soon after, Papa and I headed off to bed since I was anticipating that I’d be awakened in the night by the littlest guy.  My son had told me, “He’ll probably wake up in the night.  If he doesn’t go back to sleep, we usually bring him into bed with us.”  So I slept quite fitfully, waking up often if I thought I heard a peep but surprisingly, it was going well.

Around 4:30 a.m., the monitor went off and we could hear Scooter crying for his mommy and daddy.  I stumbled out of bed and went into the guest room.  “Go back to sleep,” I crooned to him.  That wasn’t working.

I could hear him mumbling under his breath.  He seemed to be going through all the names of family, one by one.

“Scooter, do you want to crawl into bed with Nana?” I asked him.

“NO!” he replied and went back to mumbling with occasional cries.  Finally I offered, “Do you want to go sleep in Papa’s bed?”  That did the trick.  Yes, he did want to do that so we both walked back to the master bedroom and crawled into bed.  By the time he was in next to Papa, I had less than 2 feet of room on my side.  “Yikes”, I exclaimed as I tried to roll over and almost rolled off the bed.

Slowly I drifted off to sleep only to come awake with a start as I felt little fingers stroking my hair.  I gently told Scooter to go to sleep.

As I was drifting off again, I felt little fingers touching my lips.  I grabbed his hand, kissed the little fingers, and told him it was time for sleeping.

As I was drifting off the third time, I realized he had stuck his fingers in my nose.  Sigh!

Finally, I thought he had gone back to sleep.  Papa seemed to be sleeping.  Maybe I’d get some sleep after all.

“Ta dah, dah, dee dah.  Ta dah, dah, dee dah.  WAKE UP!”  he yelled.

Oh, man.  Why had I ever taught him that Army bugle call?

We got up. You don’t argue with the Army.

Great Sibling Tour ’17 Final Countdown

Well, I’ve made it to my brother’s home and enjoyed a nice long Memorial Day weekend with him and my sister-in-law.  I’ve survived my first seafood paella.  Trust me, this was a major feat for me.  If it isn’t deep-fried within an inch of its life, slathered in butter, covered in melted cheese, or in a casserole made with Cream of whatever soup, chances are that I’m going to have a hard go of it trying to get that food down the gullet.  I gave it a pretty good college try despite the chunks of mystery fish and that huge knob of artichoke but I can’t guarantee that I haven’t been scarred for life.

Unwelcome Friend

I’ve survived the ant infestation that greeted me and the two groundhogs caught two days in a row.

You’re Crowding Me

I’ve enjoyed watching the nest of baby robins in a twig wreath on John’s front porch and documenting the rapid growth of these baby birds.

Putting in the ‘Taters

I’ve gone on a seed and plant run with John so that he could put in his garden before he leaves.  I guess that means my sister-in-law will be watering the garden while we’re gone.  Lucky her!

New Geocacher

Speaking of Rose, we’ve introduced her to geocaching.  Doggone if she didn’t find one when we were unable to spot it.

Found it!

We DID manage to find four other geocaches while here at my brother’s home.

Geocaching Treasures

These little goodies were in one cache that we found so we took them out to take a pic and then carefully put it all back in the cache and hid it back where we found it.

Aaaargh, Matey!

But not before John “modeled” the eye patch.

Tools of the Trade

At one point, we were traipsing along a woodland path…John with his little child’s toy rake and me with my long knitting needle and I looked at him and said, “Boy, are WE ever a weird sight.”  Hey, those tools came in mighty handy for poking around holes in the ground and in vegetation while looking for elusive geocaches.

There was ONE geocache that we didn’t find which was in the middle of some dense woods.  Heck, we didn’t even find the initial clue (it was a two-part geocache).  I took one look at the woods and said, “I’m NOT going into those woods.  You can crawl around in there all you want but I’m not doing it.”

John tried to browbeat me.  “Don’t be a wuss, for crying out loud,” he said.  “How are you going to find any of these geocaches if we don’t go into woods?”

I reminded him that I had purposefully picked caches that were supposed to be in paved areas or very near walking paths.  I do NOT want to find any ticks on me or end up scratching my way around the Midwest with poison ivy.

John had a mini-tantrum, I stood firm, and my sister-in-law offered to fix me a margarita when we got home.

“It might be a long trip,” she said.

“Don’t worry,” I assured her.  “I broke his finger when I was a kid and I can still do it if I have to.”

We leave tomorrow.  Stay tuned!


Should Have Brought Cupcakes

I was tasked with bringing dessert to my son’s this afternoon for a Mother’s Day cookout.  I was going to try to make something healthy like a fruit torte but my son put the brakes on that so I dug through some recipes and found an old classic called the “Better Than S_x” Cake.  You can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.  In my day, we called it the “Better Than Robert Redford” cake but frankly, it wouldn’t take much now to be better than Robert Redford.  He’s not looking so good these days.

Well, I brought this splendid dessert over and right away Spud wanted to know what I’d brought.

“Is it carrot cake?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said.

“What’s it called?” he asked.  Spud is big on knowing the names of things.

Hmmmm.  I was starting to squirm.  “Well, what is your favorite thing?” I asked him.

“Carrot Cake!”

“It’s called “Better Than Carrot Cake”, I told him.

After a fine meal of enchiladas (at least I think that’s what they were…they had chicken or beef that you put into a tortilla), we got ready for dessert but not before Sweet Pea got all in my business and said, ‘So, Nana…is this REALLY called “Better Than Carrot Cake?”

“Well, what is your favorite thing?” I asked her.

“Unicorns,” she blurted out.

“It’s called “Better Than Unicorns Cake,” I told her.

She gave me the eye.  “How can that be,” she asked, skeptically.  “You told him it was ‘Better Than Carrot Cake.”

I went into a long explanation of how this cake was called whatever was your favorite thing.

She continued to give me the stink eye and then this seven-year-old said, as calmly as you please, “What are you hiding, Nana?  You’re not telling me something.”

Now I was really squirming.  I wasn’t about to launch into the Birds and the Bees talk.

“OK,” I confessed.  “If I told you it was called ‘Better Than Robert Redford Cake’ would that mean anything to you?”, I asked.

“No!” she answered.

“Well, there you go.  That’s why it’s called the “Better Than Unicorns” cake.”

“Is that cake cut yet?” I yelled.

I should have brought cupcakes.

Preparing for the Great Sibling Tour ’17

It’s almost time for my brother and I to head out on our annual sibling tour.  Last year’s theme was “silly roadside attractions” and we made lots of stops for selfies by bizarre or out-of-the-way monuments, sculptures, and roadside attractions.

This year, we’re going to try to squeeze in some geocaching along the way.  I’ve ordered some signature cards in case we find any caches.  If you aren’t familiar with geocaching, check out this website loaded with lots of helpful videos and information.  In a nutshell, you hunt for “caches” that folks have hidden and then linked to GPS coordinates.  When you find the cache, you sign your name in the enclosed logbook and then you can leave something in the cache if you’d like.  You can also remove something of equal value from the container but we’ll probably just leave our card and be done with it.

Enthusiasts geocache all over the world and the caches range from easy to find to much more difficult.  There are even traceable items that, if found in one cache, you can remove, log it into the website to show where it was found, and then place it in another cache when you find the next one.

Well, that’s our plan and we’ll see how it goes.  I’ve never done it but my brother tried once and didn’t find anything.  Until you find your first cache, you are considered a “muggle” and that’s ok.  You have to start somewhere.

Right now, I’ve been busy making motel reservations.  Oh, my…what an ordeal.  I’m pretty amazed how expensive hotels are if you don’t want to stay at “roach haven.”  It’s also been quite the experience trying to get clerks to understand my name.  Now I used to be an Army broadcaster and I know how to enunciate but man, how they can’t understand “Porterfield” is beyond me.  I have tried spelling things out using the military alphabet (you know, “P” as in “Papa”, etc.) and that hasn’t been real successful.  I usually fall back to my standard “Porter like someone who carries your bags and a field that you plow.”

Even THAT approach has been less and less clear to folks over the last few years.  It finally dawned on me today that there are most likely few people who have ever stayed at the kind of hotel where a porter actually carries your bags to your room.  They must not have any idea what a porter is.  And unless I’m talking to a clerk in the heart of farming country, who knows about plowing fields these days?  Guess it’s back to the drawing board for me or online forms.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a trip to plan.

The Annual Family Photo Shoot


“Wait, we aren’t ready yet.”

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  It’s “Family Holiday Photo” time.  This year it is even more challenging with two babies, one toddler, and two young school children in the mix.  I was up for the challenge, though.  Here we went!


“Everybody smile.  HOLD IT!  Son, what in the world are you doing?”


“Take THREE!  Everybody smile.  HOLD IT!  OK, John Travolta….knock it off.”


“Take four!  Everybody smile.  HOLD IT!  Son, you are about to be grounded.”


“Take Five!  Smile!  HOLD IT!  Listen, Mr. Atlas.  Get those arms down or I will deck you.”


“Take Six!  WAIT!  What are you doing?”


“Oh, my goodness.  That was exhausting.  Let’s have dessert.”


The “OFFICIAL” 2016 Family Holiday Photo

Mr. Grumpy Pants

Harper's Ferry

Harper’s Ferry

It was a pretty day yesterday albeit cold as I headed down to West Virginia to spend some time with my East Coast family.  We pulled into the area early, knowing that our daughter and her family were out running errands, so we decided to drive around Harper’s Ferry.  It’s a quaint area…very hilly and overrun with tourists even on a cold, November weekend.

Out for the count

Out for the count

Our daughter texted me to say that they’d be home late with two cranky, tired children.  She included a pic of Sprout.



When they finally got back home, the Sprout wanted to know what presents I’d brought.  Since I’d had his birthday gifts mailed on ahead of my visit, I told him we’d have to do his gifts the next day but for now, I offered to show him the shirts I had made for him.


“I don’t want that,” he complained.  “Take it back.”

I headed into the kitchen to get a glass of water.

“Hey, look at this, Nannie,” I heard as the Sprout came up behind me.

I glanced over and he was clicking away on my knitting row counter.

“Yikes,” I yelped as I grabbed it from him.  “Nannie needs to have that to know what row she is working on with her knitting.  Let’s find something else to play with.”

Spit-up King

Spit-up King

I glanced at Spike, who promptly let a mouthful of milk gush down the front of him.

“He’s been spitting up like that all week,” my daughter said.

“Wheee!” I heard from Sprout.  As I turned around, I saw him twirling my current knitting project by the needle holder, the ball of yarn swinging around in a circle.

“Whoops, nope…Nannie needs that knitting, Sprout.  Why don’t you play with one of your dinosaurs?” I offered.

I grabbed the yarn and he glared at me.

“Aaaaaaaaagh!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!” he growled.

“That’s new,” his mom said, calmly.

“That’s it!,” said his daddy and swooped him up to take him to bed.

Me?  I headed for the leftover birthday cake on the counter, after putting my knitting up on a high counter.


Potty Training AND a Newborn

I knew it was going to be tough to come out to the East Coast and help my daughter with her newborn, especially since she also has a toddler.  I’m not as young as I used to be and it takes a lot out of me to keep up with young-uns.  What I wasn’t anticipating was that I was going to step smack dab into the “potty-training battle.”  Oy!

Apparently most of little Sprout’s classmates have graduated on up to the next preschool class.  He is still in the 2-year-old class along with a bunch of other boys who are also NOT potty-trained.  They are the little delinquents of the school (biters and kickers) and Sprout’s mommy would like to get the Sprout out of that class and back with his little girlfriends, who are NOT biters and kickers.  They are huggers.  I could digress about this being a commentary on society in general but I shall stick to the subject at hand – potty training with a newborn in the house.

It’s stressful.  VERY stressful.  You’ve already got one big stressor with the newborn and when you add a toddler who isn’t particularly interested in potty training, you’ve got over-the-top stress.

Sprout’s mommy and I have been taking a gentler approach to his training, using lots of encouragement and incentives to get him motivated.  Yesterday his daddy decided to take the “manly” approach as in, “You ARE going to the potty and not wearing a diaper all weekend and you WILL be potty trained.”

Did I mention that there were a lot of accidents, a lot of tears (toddler and mommy) and a lot of frustration all around?  Time to go back to Plan A – the gentler approach.

Today, Sprout has used the potty several times and had success.  Then he’s gone through several cycles where he has NOT wanted to use the potty.

Naptime just rolled around and Sprout decided that he wanted to use the potty.  He insisted on crawling up on the big potty and sitting on a little insert.  I helped him out of his diaper and shorts and he got settled.

“Woah, Sprout, let’s move you so you’re sitting facing forward,” I urged.   (He was sitting sideways.)

Things were pointing outside the little shield so I showed him how to point his equipment down into the toilet.

Mommy came into the room and asked him how he was doing.  We all took a look.  It looked like he might be getting close.

“Hey, what is THIS?” Sprout said, pointing to himself.

“That’s your penis,” his mommy told him.  “It’s where your peepee comes out.”

“I’m going to hit it,” he said.

“NOOOOOO!,” we both shouted.

“You might not want to do that, Bud,” I told him.  “That’s going to hurt.”

“I think I might have to go peepee,” he said swinging around to look at us.  Things were pointing straight at us.  I took the high road and slid behind my daughter.  “He’s all yours,” I encouraged her.

“I want to poop,” he decided.

We waited.  Nothing.  Gave him another minute.  Nothing.

I decided to help things along with a made-up song to get him in the mood.  Feel free to sing along to the tune of “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay”.

“Ta-ra-ra poo de-ay.

I’m going to poop today.

I’ll poop right in this pot.

I think I’ll poop a lot.”

“STOP, Nannie.  That doesn’t make me happy,” Sprout insisted, holding up his hand in my direction.

“Well, it makes ME happy,” I said softly.

We played the waiting game a bit longer and then we finally put him in his crib with a diaper on for a nap.

Now I’m sitting here and I can’t get that tune out of my head.

It Was a Meltdown Morning


I woke up early (as in pre-6 a.m.) since I have the “let’s get Sprout ready for school” duty here on weekdays.  Blearily pulling on my clothes, I waited for the first hints of stirring in the room next to me.  Finally, I went in at 6:30 so that I could get him up, dressed, and fed before his daddy would take him to school.

“No, Nannie!  I want my orange dinosaur shirt,” he wailed after I changed him.  Mind you, this was after I pretended to change four of his stuffed animals AND had to lean over and pull him out of the crib because he was pulling his usual “I’m not budging and I’m scooting to the back wall of my crib” trick.

“Your orange shirt is dirty.  How about the dinosaur bones shirt?” I offered.

“NOOOOO!  I want to keep THIS shirt on,” he wailed.  Since this was his pajama shirt, I told him that wasn’t an option.

“OK, why don’t you come over here and pick out a shirt to wear then,” I suggested, opening his dresser drawer.


“Well, then…you can wear the shirt I picked out,” I said.


“Those are your choices, Bud!” I countered.  “Wear the shirt I picked out or pick out one yourself.”


“Looks like it is the shirt I picked out then,” I said and proceeded to put it on his wriggling, protesting body.

Then we had the struggle of trying to get him downstairs.  When he doesn’t want to budge, he just sits down and becomes dead weight.  Did I mention my daughter’s stairs are very steep and long?  I sucked it up and lifted him and struggled downstairs only to be met by my daughter and the baby.

“What is going on?” she asked Sprout.

“WAAAAAAAAAH”  There followed much screaming, kicking, and more screaming as mommy suggested a cup of milk (NOOOOOO!) and a slice of raisin bread (NOOOOOO!).  We both decided to walk into the other room and leave him to his tantrum.

The baby started to wail.  Et tu, Brute?

My daughter passed the baby over to me and I walked around the kitchen with him trying all of my tricks, to no avail.  In the meantime, Big Brother continued to scream, kick, and wail.

Just then, their daddy decided to make his appearance.

I glanced up and said to him, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

And then it was time to send Sprout off to school.  YESSSSSS!

Dinosaur-themed Roadside Park for Children

Dinosaur Land

Dinosaur Land

Do you have children that are crazy for dinosaurs?  We have several grandchildren that can’t get enough of these prehistoric behemoths.  Yesterday, our little Sprout paid a visit to a nearby roadside attraction called Dinosaur Land.  It is located in White Post, Virginia and I’d highly recommend it for your toddlers or children up to probably about age 8.



This is an older park but the fiberglass huge dinosaurs are well-maintained and the park is pleasantly constructed to corral your younger children.


First and foremost, it is shady.  That is important on those hot, summer days when you are looking for a nice, cooler activity to do with your little ones.


There are gravel walk paths interspersed between the grassy areas.  My daughter took the children in a double-stroller and reported back that she had no problems maneuvering the stroller through the park.


The park is fenced.  That is a big plus so that you can let your toddlers out of the stroller to run among the dinosaurs while you keep an eye on them.


The park also wasn’t really crowded at least on the day my family visited.  There were about 7-8 other families there which creates a more relaxing visit.


You can get up close and personal with the dinosaurs, within reason.  Obviously I wouldn’t recommend climbing on the dinosaurs but, with supervision, they can get close to them and feel them to their heart’s content.


Sprout wanted to feel the dino’s teeth but once he got THIS close, he decided that it was a “little scary” and was soon off to explore other dinosaurs.


Admission is currently $6 for adults and $5 for children under 11.  It’s free for children under 2.


Summer hours are 9:30 – 6 p.m. and off-season the hours are 9:30-5:30.  They are closed January and February.  When you finish your visit, there is a big gift shop if you want to have something to bring home as a lasting souvenir.

Our little Sprout was THRILLED with his visit.  He is almost three so there  you have it – one toddler who gives it two thumbs up.  His parents also highly recommend it.  These small roadside attractions are quickly becoming a thing of the past, which is a shame.  Not everything has to be as slick and over-the-top as Disney World to put a big smile on your child’s face and a great memory in their heart.

Breakfast Fog


I got up (early) this morning to help with Sprout since his mommy still can’t lift him out of the crib.  We came downstairs and I went to feed the dogs.  Whoops, the dog food container hadn’t been filled up last night.  Sprout’s daddy had been assigned that job since the big bag of dog food is too heavy for my daughter or me to lift.  Well, necessity is the mother of invention so I looked around and decided to grab one of Sprout’s little sippy cups to scoop out food from the big dog bag into the smaller container.

It worked and soon I had the small dog container filled back up.

“Hmm, I need to be sure to wash that cup,” I thought.

I got the french toast sticks baked per my daughter’s instructions and put some aside for the Sprout.  I grabbed a cup and filled it with milk for the little guy who was clamoring for his morning drink.

We finally sat down for breakfast and the Sprout wanted more milk.


I grabbed his cup and jumped up to refill it and as I did, I looked over at the sink and noticed that the cup I’d used for the dog food wasn’t on the counter.

“Did you put that cup I used to fill the dog food up in the dishwasher?,” I asked my daughter.

“What cup?” she replied.  “I haven’t touched any cup today.  Why?”

“Um, not to worry,” I assured her.  “Your brother once ate a dog biscuit and thought it was a cooky.  A little extra protein isn’t going to hurt Sprout.”


Oh, man, do I ever need some coffee that isn’t cold by the time I get to sipping it AND some extra sleep.


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