Memoir, Real Life, Seasons and Holidays

Why my Grandpa Loved Halloween|A Life Well Lived #centenarian #Halloween


On October 31, 1916, at age five, my grandfather, Ernest Hedges almost died. You see, he was all dressed up for Halloween. Ready to go to the annual Halloween party at the one-room schoolhouse, but a fever landed him in bed.

His mother and eight siblings, all except his big sister Pearl left without him.

Grandpa Ernie
Eunice, Ernie, and big sister, Grace

He gradually grew worse. His skin turned as orange as a pumpkin and his fever spiked way beyond an acceptable level. Papa Hedges rushed him by carriage to the nearest hospital in town.

The ER doctor knew right away the problem. A ruptured appendix. By the grace of God, Grandpa Ernie received life-saving surgery. He recovered in the hospital for a month.

Missing Halloween had a huge impact on Grandpa. Even in his elder years he still loved to dress up.



Grandpa lived through the World War I, The Depression, and World War II, in which he was finally drafted.

In Italy, he met his beautiful wife, Cina.


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After they both returned to the states, they built a home and a life. My father, Jonathan was the youngest of four children.


When my father was five years old, they moved from Madison Wisconsin to Melbourne, Florida. Grandpa was a baker and opened Hedges Bakery in Downtown Melbourne. Grandpa Ernie did the baking and Nona Cina decorated the cakes beautifully.


Grandpa and Nona’s family grew.


And grew.


But Nona developed a cough that wouldn’t go away. Doctors confirmed she had lung cancer, though she never smoked a day in her life.

Six weeks after her diagnosis, she was gone.


In her memory, Grandpa Ernie wrote, Flowers for Cina, his life story, at the age of 92.


Many birthdays later, at the age of 105, Grandpa celebrated with his children, grandchildren, and twenty great-grandchildren.

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Only a week later, on Halloween, October 31, 2016, exactly 100 years after he almost died as a child, Grandpa Ernie got a cold, which turned into pneumonia.

At the blessed age of 105 years old, Grandpa passed into the loving arms of Jesus.

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Halloween was a special day for Grandpa. It’s a day he was spared and given an extra 100 years to live. To share the love of Jesus, inspire his family and friends, and mentor his many adopted “grandkids.”

I will always remember Halloween as a special day for a very wonderful grandpa.


Blog, parenting, Pregnancy, Real Life

My Crazy, Blessed Birth Center Story|#tbt


Having already given birth at a hospital to all my other babies, I got the crazy idea to try something new, something different. A birth center. My previous obstetrician usually deemed me “high-risk” in all my other pregnancies, so I didn’t think a birth center would take me.

But, it was worth a try. Read more here.


Special Needs

5 Ways to Build Bonding Experiences with Your Special Needs Child


Not another temper tantrum! That’s the tenth one today. Amidst my own tears, I was at my wits end. Having a child with autism proved too much for me. I didn’t think I had the strength to do it.

The day-to-day care of a child with special needs requires much more of a parent than seems possible. The extra therapies, doctor appointments, and at-home treatments can sap all of our energy. And, behavior challenges can be the tipping point for us.

A pervasive sense of hopelessness can settle in. We think, “Is this ever going to get easier?”

Looking back, the day I had a change in my perspective was the day it did get easier.

Read more here.

Children's Picture Books

Our Bee-utiful Buzzy Friends|Bee Books for Kids #SavetheBees

A few years ago, summer pool lessons turned into a sad time for my Little Princess. As her bare feet padded around the pool, she cried out when accidentally stepping on the exact spot a bee had landed to take a drink.

The stinger that hung from the bottom her foot, which I promptly removed, was no longer attached to the little fuzzy buzzy bee. Sadly, the insect lost its life that day.

Thankfully, Little Princess had no allergic reaction to her first bee sting. But I wondered if this incident would make her forever afraid of bees.

This year, we planned a home school field trip to an apiary. Not only was Little Princess scared of getting stung, my tween kids voiced their concerns of being chased and attacked by a swarm of bees.

Never having been to an apiary, I didn’t know what to expect.

Our tour guide showed us inside the warehouse how the honey is taken from the honey comb frames with a spinning extractor. The honey comb remains and the golden honey pours from a spout via gravity.

Each part of the hive can be made into a bee product. There’s beeswax candles, bee propolis (my favorite new natural home remedy), royal jelly, and even the pollen is sold as a health supplement.

My children stood entranced when we came to an active hive protected by plexi-glass. The bees dancing on the other side felt like our visits to “Terrors of the Deep” at Sea World. Despite the Mako sharks circling overhead, the clear tunnel barrier gave us much needed security.

When we reached home, I had purchased a literal gallon of honey, some propolis, royal jelly, and the kids received a few honey hard candies for free. On top of that they seemed less afraid of bees.


Being educated about what we are afraid of helps us have peace. Books are a good way to impart knowledge with a little bonding time thrown in. After reading, The Honey Makers together, my Little Princess sat pondering and concluded, “Thank God for the bees.”

The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons

IMG_20180519_082415240_HDRHere’s another bee book to help kids learn the importance of our little honey-making pollinating friends.

The Beautiful Bee Book by Sue Unstead



Without bees, flowers couldn’t pollinate, seeds couldn’t germinate, and crops would not bear fruit. Instead of fearing our fuzzy friends, let’s find ways to protect them for generations to come. Protecting bees can be made possible by bringing awareness, using less pesticides, and buying from sustainable farms.

Have a bee-utiful day with your family as you share books about the importance of bees!

Children's Picture Books, Life Skills, Special Needs, Teen

Having an Almost-Teen With Autism|13 Ways He’s Like Any Other Teen #WorldAutismAwarenessDay #AutismAcceptance

Parenthood flies by in a blink of an eye. A preemie, my firstborn daughter weighed in at only 4 lbs. 14 oz.

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After six days, she was released from the hospital. I brought her to my grandfather’s 90th birthday party to show her to the family.

Setting her down on an upstairs room carpet, I stepped away to grab a diaper from my bag.

My aunt stood in the doorway and gasped. “I thought there was a doll on the floor, but she moved.”

So small, so delicate, I didn’t know if she’d ever catch up to the regular developmental milestones of most children.

But then.

Blink. My baby girl could walk.


Blink again. She’s studying for her driver’s permit.

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Blink away the tears. I only have 2 years left with my baby!

My oldest daughter is now sixteen. And my have the years flown by.

In only one month, my next-born, my only son, will be turning from tween to teen, the rite of passage year of thirteen. In some cultures, this would be the year he becomes a man.


The thing is, he has autism. Picture 008





Does that mean he can’t be a regular teen?

So, far he’s been like any other almost-teen in many ways.

1. The boy loves to eat.

Some of his favorite foods are not super healthy, but isn’t that like any other kid? If I let him, he’d eat yogurt and Life cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner everyday. Veggies are not at the top of the list, but he’ll eat a good salad and a bowl full of broccoli cheddar soup.

2. The boy loves tech.

Video gaming, time on the tablet, the phone, the TV. Anything with a flickering screen.

3. The boy loves books.

Being a book-loving mama, this is what makes me most proud of him. Reading a-loud to him and audio books started my boy on liking stories (those not on a screen). He learned how to make a movie of what he was hearing in his mind. Now he reads books on his own. Recently, I peeked over his shoulder and recognized the book he was reading. A classic we listened to on audio book this year—Farmer Boy.

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4. The boy loves LEGOs.

Grown men play with LEGOs. So, it’s okay that he asks for a new set every week (but, I tell him to use the blocks he already has!)

5. The boy loves classical education.

Latin, history, science, English grammar, geography and more, the classical style of learning fits my boy’s way of thinking. This year, we studied U.S. history and all we’ve been through as a nation. It’s opened his eyes to a world that is bigger than the four walls of our own home. And that he is a part of the great timeline of history that still goes on.


6. The boy loves people.

He may have trouble meeting new people and making and keeping friends, but his heart is full of compassion for human beings made in the image of God. Every time we see a homeless person, he prays for him. When we studied September 11, 2001 and the destruction of the World Trade Center, he cried for all the lives lost. He has wept after realizing he’s the only boy out of our family of four children because his brother lived only a short life.

7.  The boy loves truth.

The Internet can be a scary thing. No telling what our kids can stumble onto. We have clear rules in our family about not getting on the computer when Mom and Dad have not given permission. Our boy couldn’t keep it a secret that he watched something without asking. I’m thankful it was only a kids’ show and that he told us the truth.

8. The boy loves God.

Throughout his childhood, we’ve read the Bible to him, prayed with him, have taken him to church, but I didn’t know if he could grasp spiritual things. Then one day, as I folded laundry, he sat next to me and blurted out, “Mom, I want to become a follower of Jesus Christ.” Stunned, I said, “Okay.” Then my heart overflowed with joy. By the grace of God, he got it! I prayed with him and have seen the fruit of his faith.


9. The boy loves goodness.

Like any other almost-teen, my boy doesn’t get why anyone would want to harm another human being. He now knows there are people out there who completely lack empathy and do very evil things. He’s learning that we must overcome evil with good. To see change, we must be the gift, the miracle, and the one who changes first. To do right, to be merciful, and not think you’re better than anyone else will change the world. Having three sisters, and a tendency for brotherly teasing, he gets to practice at apologizing everyday.


10. The boy loves beauty.

He tells me, “Mom, you look beautiful today,” which makes me smile.

Watching films with epic scenery and music are one of his favorite things to do. We listen to John Williams’ soundtracks on family trips.

On our visit to the Morse Museum to view the Louis Comfort Tiffany art collection, he stood in awe at the way stained glass could depict life with such beauty and light.

11. The boy loves creating.

Since he was old enough to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He’s always said the same thing, “Inventor.” I bought him The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, and The New Way Things Work to hopefully help him generate ideas on which to build.


12. The boy loves to argue.

Arguing is not a bad thing as long as he’s respectful. It means he’s forming his own ideas about how the world works. It means he’s growing up.

13. The boy loves his friends.

He’s had friends when he was younger. Usually one really good friend for a few years, but then that friend would move away. But lately, it’s been getting harder and harder for him to find friends his own age. Thankfully, he’s made friends in his weekly Social Thinking group at 3 C’s Therapy who all have autism like him.

The point is, he’s growing from being a boy to a man. It may not look totally like other almost-teens, but I’m still proud of him. My heart overflows with motherly love for my boy. I know he’s growing into the man God created him to be. And that’s enough for me.



For the Love of Fairy Tales|7 Kids’ Books for #ValentinesDay

This Valentine’s weekend, two little princesses and their daddy danced the night away at our church-sponsored Father Daughter Dance. To celebrate and hope in happily ever afters.

What makes a little girl want to be a princess or a boy want someone to fight for?

Fairy tales.


Thanks to fairy tales, the beauty of romance can be learned at a young age.

The noble, the gallant, the bold, and the brave all fighting for someone to save.

Our hearts long for the realization of redemption. We sigh at the happily ever afters.

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Our treasure of happily ever afters

7 Beloved Books of Fairy Tales


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I’ve kept this one since I was a girl.

1. Best Loved Fairy Tales of Walter Crane.

My first book of fairy tales given to me by my mother. Includes The Frog Prince, Little Goody Two Shoes, Beauty and the Beast, and the less familiar, The Hind in the Wood. The exquisite detail of 1930’s neoclassical illustrations beg to be traced, copied, and colored.

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2. A Book of Famous Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

These original versions, translated from the Danish-born Hans Christian Andersen are sometimes less black and white in their happily ever afters. That’s what I like about this antique anthology.

Color plate illustration of a fairy with delicate butterfly wings in A Book of Famous Fairy Tales

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3. The Random House Book of Fairy Tales

Truer to the original versions by the Brothers Grimm, these fairy tales contain more peril than updated retellings. At the end of Snow White, the wicked stepmother is made to wear burning hot shoes until she dances herself to the grave. In Rapunzel, the prince is blinded by thorns. Some of the tales may not be appropriate for younger children, still the charming pictures, by Diane Goode, bring out the brilliant beauty of each character.

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4. A Parable About the King

A redemption story at its best, Beth Moore created this fairy tale as a parable of life for all God’s children. Frustrated with all the work her father makes her do, a princess decides to run away. But life outside the kingdom is not what she expects it to be.

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5. The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder

Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tale characters. Far from Disney’s version, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is a marriage of both fantasy and sci-fi. Cinder is a futuristic cyborg who falls in love with the crown prince. The first in a series of four, you may have to read on to see if Cinder truly experiences a happily ever after.

6.  Snow and Rose

I love it when an author finds a forgotten story and breathes into it new life. This is one such fairy tale that will remain remembered thanks to author and illustrator, Emily Winfield Martin.

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7. Sleeping Beauty

The newest book by my favorite author, Cynthia Rylant, is sure to delight all ages. With words that carry a deeper, richer meaning, making it the best kind of fairy tale.

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How to be an Einstein|12 Ways to Think More Intellegently #Einstein #ClassicalEducation

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The name Einstein brings up the image of man who is synonymous with crazy hair, a bushy mustache, and E = mc2.

When someone is called an “Einstein” it means that person is considered a geniusexceptional at learning, thinking, and problem solving.

So, who was the man behind the name?

Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879 and grew up in Germany. His father owned a company that sold electrical equipment, so he wanted Albert to pursue a career in electrical engineering. 



Einstein at age 14


The school where Albert attended taught primarily through drills and strict rote learning, which he struggled with. He described this teaching style as losing “the spirit of learning and creative thought.” Einstein may have not liked repetition and memorization of facts, but it may have helped him later when writing papers and calculating great mathematical figures to have this foundation of knowledge. 

When Einstein was fifteen, he was able to leave the school with a doctor’s note and attend a new school where he could pursue his own educational interests. It is here where he wrote his first theoretical essay, “On the Investigation of the State of Ether in a Magnetic Field.”

Although Einstein received top grades for physics and mathematics at age sixteen, he failed to pass the general education portion of the examination to enter the Swiss Polytechnic school and pursue a career in physics. 

He spent a year focusing on his studies. At age seventeen, he tried the examination a second time and passed, entering their physics teaching program.


Einsteins’s passing grades


In 1903, when Einstein was 24, he secured a job as a patent examiner, helping to decide whether new ideas and inventions worked and were not copies of ones that already existed. Reviewing ideas of other scientists and inventors inspired Einstein to form his own ideas, ones that nobody else thought of.

It is during this time that Einstein joined a discussion group with friends who all had the same interest in physics called “The Olympia Academy.”  They met together on a regular basis to discuss science and philosophy.

The Olympia Academy

In 1905, Einstein earned his PhD in physics and in the same year wrote his most famous “1905 papers.” These papers discussed new concepts, including the theory of general relativity.

During a solar eclipse in 1919, in accordance with Einstein’s calculations, light from another star appeared bent by the sun’s gravity.

Solar Eclipse of 1919

In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. He traveled to the United States to meet with other scientists and share his findings.


Einstein in 1921


From then on, he met with other scientists around the world until he returned to the the U.S. in 1933, the same year Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.
Hitler made it clear in his speeches that he hated Jews and blamed the Jewish people for all of Germany’s problems. Jews were denied their rights and began to be relocated to camps where many were mistreated or killed. Einstein was Jewish and knew it would be dangerous to return to Germany while Hitler was in power.

Einstein spent the rest of his days mainly in the United States, where he eventually became a U.S. citizen in 1940. He liked Americans’ “right to say and think as they pleased,” he said, which encouraged people to be more creativethe same freedom that helped him to pursue his own areas of interest, leading him to develop some of the most important basic concepts in physical science.


Einstein taught himself how to play the violin and was invited to play as a symphony guest in a professional orchestra. The other violinists were amazed at his incredible ability to play. Einstein’s love of music may have been a factor in his high intelligence. He was said to have been playing piano while trying to work out the theory of relativity.

The ability to process, understand and create music is located in the right hemisphere of the brain, as well as, control of the body and the ability to perform functions like dancing, playing an instrument or writing a paper.

Language, reading and mathematical reasoning are located in the left hemisphere.

Many people are stronger in one hemisphere and weaker in the other. But, having a balanced brain—to be strong in both hemispheres—makes it easier to learn.

To strengthen both left and right hemispheres, it is helpful to do exercises—physical and mental—using both sides of the brain at the same time.

Some activities for a Balanced Brain:


  • Play a musical instrument requiring both hands (e.g., drums, violin, guitar, piano, recorder, flute, clarinet)
  • Play outdoor games requiring both hands (e.g, archery, baseball, basketball, zoomballhopper ball)
  • Learn to sew, knit or crochet
  • Learn knot tying
  • Learn to whittle with soap or on more advanced wood projects
  • Bead necklaces and bracelets
  • Work out math problems while listening to classical music
  • Create comics with speech bubbles



To have balanced brain is one step to learning better. Another step is to develop stronger connections between both sides of the brain. This can be achieved through crossing the midline or using one side of the body to cross over to the other side. 

Some Activities to Cross the Midline:

  • Do cross crawls by placing a hand or elbow on the opposite knee 10 times on each side every day
  • Do complex mazes with each hand, making sure the paper is directly in front of your body
  • Draw “lazy eights” for one minute with each hand, making sure the paper is directly in front of your body
  • Play games that challenge players to reach from one side of the body to the other side, like the Minute To Win It balloon game. 

The part of the brain that connects both sides is called the corpus callosum.

This part of the brain is covered with a white substance called myelin, which is made up of the same healthy fats found Omega-3 rich foods like fish, flaxseeds and walnuts. The more myelin, the stronger the connection between the right and left sides of the brain.
Eating foods or taking supplements like fish oil that contain Omega-3 fats helps our brain to work better.
Also, having a diet that includes all five food groups will help the brain function well.
If you have food allergies, be careful to avoid those foods that cause inflammation in the body.


Einstein did not think it wise to merely memorize facts without learning how to use them to form new ideas and explain complex problems. In Einstein’s time, the classical teaching method was used to educate children. There are three stages or levels of learning in this method: grammarlogic and rhetoric.
The grammar stage of learning usually takes place in elementary school. It is important to learn the basic math facts, phonics sounds, spelling and grammar rules to do mathematical computations and read and write independently. Einstein struggled in this stage, but still needed to learn these basics to be able to do research and write about his findings. It is important to work hard to master this level before moving on to the next level.

In the logic level, a student is able to use all the knowledge learned in the grammar stage to think about the “why” behind reading and math. At this stage, students will begin to answer more difficult questions by analyzing a story or using basic math facts to solve algebra and geometry. This is the beginning of active learning, where students can begin to form discussion groups, much like Einstein’s Olympia Academy. One good way to form a discussion group is to start a book club and read through the same book, meeting together once a month. Or join a math clubscience club or problem solving club that meets regularly.

A student entering the rhetoric level will be able to create a new idea or solve a problem by using the scientific method to attempt to prove it and share findings through writing and giving a presentation. Einstein achieved this level and spent the latter part of his life giving talks about his research and theories. Speakers on the TED talks, are good examples of people who have progressed to the rhetoric level of learning.

Through the development of learning, thinking and problem solving abilities, our children can be like Einstein and have their own ideas worth spreading.

Einstein Books:
Albie’s First Word by Jacqueline Tourville
Odd Boy Out by Don Brown
Ordinary Genius by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
Einstein Websites:
Garden of Praise has Einstein games, puzzles and quizzes
The Why Files has an explanation of Einstein’s theories
Image and Impact has more history and photos of Einstein