Tag Archives: grandparents

Summer Life Saving

17 Jun

I hadn’t planned on going to my niece’s wedding. She was getting married in Orlando last week and had planned a large party/reception for friends and family in Illinois in early July. In honor of her grandparents (my parents) who had been married 65 years, she had decided to get married on their wedding anniversary, June 10.

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But when I received my niece’s email, asking friends and family to send or bring a rock to the wedding, I knew I had to go. You see, my mom LOVED rocks. She once chased a Caterpillar D10

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working on road construction through a field on her little John Deere

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to ask the driver if he would push a mountain of a boulder onto the farm ground. He did.

My niece learned to love rocks—well, that might be a stretch—she learned to wash the landscape rocks that surrounded my parents’ house. My mother believed that the landscape should be washed every spring, and the grandchildren (once the kids were grown and gone) were just the people to help her do it. So my niece learned to LOVE washing rocks.

It was natural that she would want rocks for her wedding. They’re a symbol of a strong foundation, right?

I got the email and immediately knew I had to TAKE the rocks to Florida, not ship them. We boated over to Angel Island, scavenged one large 10-pounder, one fist-sized, and a handful of smaller green stones called serpentine. Perfect! I would skimp on clothes and carry these in my luggage.

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Yes, the TSA left their calling card in my suitcase. They must still be shaking their heads, wondering why anyone would cart around a bunch of rocks.

Anyway, I delivered those rocks and myself to Orlando four days later. The ceremony was quite moving, with my nephew telling his rock story during the ceremony. A few months earlier, he had been shopping for a First Communion gift for a family member and saw a pile of rocks at the store. One read something along the lines of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The saying reminded him of his grandfather’s calmness and how he dealt with stress. The second rock he picked up read “This Too Shall Pass,” his grandmother’s favorite saying. He decided those two rocks were meant for him, and he bought them along with a communion gift.

Then a couple of months later, he gets this request from his sister to bring rocks to her wedding on a date that honors their grandparents. So instead of keeping those rocks for himself as mementos of his grandparents, he gave them to his sister. (Yes, he is a fantastic guy!)

Really, those two rocks were my parents’ way of sneaking into the wedding.

Now, fast forward a couple of hours after we all head out to the hotel pool complex.


We’re settling in, when my sister-in-law passes by a couple of people shaking the arms of a little girl lying on the pool deck. They had just pulled her from the water, and she’s not responsive.

Sooo, my sister-in-law grabs my niece and nephew (her kids) who happen to be physician’s assistants. They find no pulse and begin lifesaving techniques that include an inverted heimlich with the girl’s head below her waist. My nephew tries to activate the little girl’s gag reflex by sticking his finger down her throat. (Someone calls 911. Concerned bystanders suggest laying her flat. NO! Don’t do that! They also suggest giving her a glass of water. REALLY??) Still no response, but the heimlich is pumping lots of water out of her. My nephew tries again and again until he gets a gag from her and she begins to vomit water and food. Another few seconds of heimlich with her head down and she’s still vomiting but begins to cry. Success!!

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In honor of the wonderful world of Disney

Paramedics arrive, give her oxygen, and prep her for heading to the hospital, where she will stay for observation.

Two days later, I leave for home and get a text with a photo of my niece and nephew “meeting” the little girl and her babydoll at the hotel after she was released from the hospital. I’m not going to show it here because I don’t have a release from her parents, but suffice to say, I cried when I saw all three of them together and smiling.

Soooo, everyone, it’s summer swimming pool season. Please be vigilant. This was one of two bright spots (wedding, too!) in a horrific week for Orlando. Watch those swimmers, and if they don’t know how to swim, keep them in floaties whenever they’re near the pool. The one shown below snaps behind the child’s back, so they can’t take it off themselves. 

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Remember, a child slips below the surface without making noise. Be watchful, and listen for silence.

Mama Seeton’s Whistle – Perfect Picture Book Friday

18 Sep

Hello everyone! Back for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Extravaganza.

My entry is the hot-off-the-press:

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Mama Seeton’s Whistle by Jerry Spinelli (yes, THAT Jerry Spinelli).

It has an old-fashioned look because it’s an old-fashioned memory. And it’s based on Spinelli’s next door neighbor that he knew as a child. I dare say there won’t be a dry adult eye by the end of the book.

So what’s the story?


Mama Seeton’s two-year-old boy, Skippy, isn’t in the back yard when she calls for him. Instead of panicking, she whistles a “simple two-note whistle.” Of course, he’s only two, so it turns out he’s been hiding in the house, eating and sharing cookies from the cookie jar with the family dog. But he just can’t resist the whistle and surprising her, saying he’d been standing behind her all along. Know any kids who’ve done that?

From then on, with Skippy and each subsequent child (there are four), Mama Seeton uses her whistle to call them home. When they hear it, no matter where they are, they head home for dinner—and chocolate cake, of course. Well, these kids get older, and as they roam farther and farther away in the town, they still come home when she whistles.


Because those whistles represent love, a sense of home, and comfort food—especially the love part, because it’s one that travels with them and brings them back no matter where in town they go.

But then those kids really grow up, have careers (fun ones, of course) of their own, and Mama Seeton misses the old days. She still bakes a chocolate cake, but only once a week. And she doesn’t whistle because her children are too far away to come home for dinner.

Mama Seeton gets sadder and sadder, until she finally takes action. 

On the surface, the focus is on Mama Seeton’s feelings and her whistle. But underneath, this story will engage and mean so much more to kids. A physical representation of an unending, unconditional love. That no matter where they go, love (and comfort food) will always be waiting for them at home.

The illustrations of the kids, their adventures, and the family dog as an active but silent presence, will keep kids engaged in a story that will also appeal to parents and grandparents. Sniffle. Sniffle….

Happy reading!

Title:Mama Seeton’s Whistle

Author/Illustrator: Jerry Spinelli/LeUyen Pham

Publisher: Little Brown

Pub Date: 2015

Ages: 2-6

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