Tag Archives: grandkids

“My Kingdom for a Real Recipe!”

“My kingdom for a real recipe!” I finally boiled over.

I’d Googled it, YouTubed it, searched it, researched it, boggled my mind about it—a process I’ve often used with moderate success.

Give me a good Wikipedia article, a few good hits from Google, a nicely done YouTube video, and I’d be tempted to try anything from building a jet-powered go-cart to performing a “simple” appendectomy.

Using this procedure, I’ve more or less successfully done all sorts of household fix-it jobs plus some fun stuff. I’ve concocted beeswax furniture polish (beeswax, turpentine, carnauba wax, and a homemade Bunsen burner), made a few Celtic flutes with PVC pipe, fashioned some simple tools to help “whip” some tree swing ropes in sailmaker’s style, and learned how to French braid my granddaughters’ hair. I even built a snow-making machine by attaching plumbing fittings to a water hose, an air compressor, and freezing my toes off outside at 28 degrees in a blizzard. My wife blew a fuse over that last adventure when my machine blew more sand back into our washing machine than it blew snow out into the atmosphere.

Last Saturday, it was back to the lab. A grandkid adventure weekend at the house is on the horizon, so I was looking for the perfect recipe for . . . slime!

Slime’s a big deal right now for kids and thus for grandparents. I found myself imagining how much fun my younger brother and I could’ve had if, back when we were furthering our education by conducting experiments in the family garage, slime had been available. Back then kids could get really cool stuff in chemistry sets which could be supplemented nicely by a trip to the local pharmacy. If slime research had been as far along as it is now, well, I’m pretty sure Jim and I could’ve chemically engineered some slime with gratifying pyrotechnic properties.

Honestly, I’m more careful now. It’d suit me fine if my grandkids didn’t play with fireworks. But I do want for them the best slime available. Unfortunately, I hit a snag.

Various lists of ingredients are easily found, along with scary Internet warnings about some ingredients (which I’m not too worried about but won’t use). Watching videos, you’ll see the ingredients as they’re dumped into a bowl: slime! But I wanted a good old-fashioned slime recipe listing tablespoons, cups, numbers of squirts, etc. Lacking such, my goo misfired until I found a real recipe complete with amounts. It works!

To a couple of slime connoisseur grandkids, I sent a pic of myself with some gratifyingly gooey purple slime dripping from my face and beard. Fine. Except that a pretty serious 5:00 purple beard shadow remained after the slime slid off. And, yes, it was Saturday. Research shows that preachers who look like purple smurfs on Sundays do hold folks’ attention, but it’s not the kind of attention most pastors want. To my relief, I found some soap that also worked.

One of the best recipes you’ll ever find is God’s, given in 1 Corinthians 13:13. It simply includes large amounts of faith, hope, and love, with a heaping load of the latter.


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Whiffle Sniffles, a Little Lad, and a Thanksgiving Tale



It wasn’t much of a tale, the story I told a tearful little tired-out almost-two-year-old as I rocked him to sleep for a nap on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

A little nap and a little sleep were what little Garrett’s parents and grandparents had in mind for my wee grandson, though he didn’t think much of the idea. Mom and Dad are quite capable of getting the job done, but I don’t get a chance to rock this little guy nearly as often as I would like, so, although I could have wished that the lad was somewhat quieter and less tear-stained at the hand-off, the rocking chair beckoned and I asked for the task.

Since he was crying already, I figured the worst thing that could happen would be continued or ramped-up crying. And I like rocking.

Come to think of it, one of my sweetest memories from last Christmas was holding that same sweet munchkin (smaller but in the same tired-out and teary condition) as we both rocked to sleep in the glow of the lights from the Christmas tree. (I was soon 90% asleep and almost faded out before he did. When PawPaws rock little grandpeople to sleep, that’s always a real possibility.)

So . . . I launched into a story about Gar-Bear’s tree house.  (We often call Garrett “Gar-Bear,” “Gar” rhyming with “Bear.”)

It seems that in Garrett’s yard was a beautiful tree with its spreading leaf-draped branches open so wide that it was crying out, “Gar-Bear, put a tree house in me!”

Sniffle! Pause. Yowl! Sniffle! Howl! [Breath.]

“[Breath]” seemed like a good time for me to describe the hammer and nails, the wood, and the tools used in building Gar-Bear’s tree house, so I did, and as we got started building the floor, howls and yowls tapered off a bit.

Sniffle! Sniffle! [Breath.]

From the “in the air” ground floor, we moved on up to the walls, complete with some nice windows (not much point in a tree house you can’t see out of), a roof, and a railed observation deck [Sniffle! Pause . . .] with a working non-toy telescope.

A whiffle sniffle just as I was beginning to describe how Gar-Bear’s tree house can morph into a ship at sea, a castle on the moor, and more fine things.  But then . . .

Silence. Gentle breaths with an occasional tiny post-storm mini-shudder. Then complete calm and “all is well” as our rocking chair rounded the outer banks and sailed into the land of Nod.

In future stories, I’m pretty sure that Gar-Bear’s tree house will indeed become a vessel at sea. We’ll see. (Possibly crewed by Garrett and eight or more cousins.) Or it might be fun to have the tree talk and give suggestions to the little builder about the magic house being built in its branches.

But writing this story about that story and my sleeping grandson is making this grandfather sleepy again. I love the way the little guy settled down in my lap. I think I’ll take a page out of his book and plot a course toward my pillow and my Father’s arms, in deep gratitude for some sweet rest following a really sweet Thanksgiving.

Who knows? My Father may tell me a story while I’m snuggled down into his warm embrace.


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! Stop by and listen to some Christmas music!


Copyright 2016 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Come Quick, PawPaw! It’s an Emergency!”


“Come quick, PawPaw! Come quick!” came the plea from the back door. As I recall, it was one of the times that week when the sweet almost-six-year-old voice intoned again, “It’s an emergency!”

Well, come I did. Out into the back yard, pulled by Brenley straight to the pool.

“The pool” is a plastic “blow-up” wading pool, maybe a foot deep. I admit we’d drowned the “fill point” line marked on it by the same folks who scribbled lawyer-litter on the hose we used to fill said pool, sternly warning me not to put the hose in my mouth and turn the faucet on.

Back to the emergency.

Bodies were floating in the pool. It didn’t take CSI Muleshoe to identify them. Bug bodies. Brenley had already done the initial investigation. As I made my way to the microcosmic ocean, she reported, “Five, PawPaw!”

There they lay. Or floated. In a kind of bug-eyed insect rigor mortis. Past all human help and grotesquely out of place in that decadent resort pool surrounded by lush palm trees, white-clad waiters, and paparazzi hoping to cadge photos of the rich and famous.

Okay, for real. Plastic pool. Elm trees. No waiters or paparazzi, just a little brindle-colored dog hoping to stay out of the line of fire of anything wet. No CSI techs.
But the bodies were there, and out of place. It was July, and they were still recognizable as June bugs, grub worm kamikazes issued wings, buzzed up, launched way short of flight training. They’d ditched at sea. And why not? All June bugs do is mindlessly crash, hazards to prudent navigation. These had paid the ultimate price.

Bren was obviously not comfortable with burying them at sea. A quick bucket dip-out, an over-the-shoulder fling-out, and . . .

I wish all the emergencies my grandkids will experience were so easily handled. The little folks are growing too fast, and the thought of a time when spending time with PawPaw and MawMaw in the back yard, all smiles and giggles because they’ve found a cool rock with a hole in it, or one that glitters, made stew by stirring leaves and water and dirt in a colored bucket with a stick, and shared stories and held royal court in the magic castle shed—well, the thought of a day when those delights fade breaks my heart. Right now, the little people know what’s really important. They know who really loves them, and the amount they care about what anybody else thinks is about the right amount: not much at all.

Grownups are incredibly dreary and short-sighted, and I can’t imagine these amazing folks with imaginations gone dull and dormant. I pray they never lose the seeds of what is in full flower in them right now. I suppose the flowers must fade some with the years, but one day these folks I adore will be old enough that the seeds will sprout again, probably watered by their own grandchildren. And they’ll be young again together.

No wonder our Creator delighted in spending time with children. I love that about him. However he arranges it will be fine, but I hope to spend an eternity doing that same thing myself where bugs aren’t any kind of emergency, and genuine joy—and giggles aplenty—are the King’s orders for the eternal day.


          You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! (It’s been updated recently.)

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Do It Again, PawPaw! Do It Again!”


“Do it again, PawPaw! Do it again!”

It could have been any of a jillion fun things grandkids and grandparents like to do, but it happened to be a trampoline game we call “Crack the Egg.”

I think there’s a real game with real rules, but we cut straight to the fun. One young little brave giggly person sits cross-legged in the middle of the trampoline, and then one heavier older person (that would be me), stands near the middle of the mat, and . . .

One quick little semi-jump sends the trampoline mat and little person down a bit. Then a more serious jump timed for just the right moment powers the launch. Little person goes giggling up into the air; PawPaw person catches little person in a bear hug on the way down. (The trampoline mat serves as a safety net, but I’ve not missed a little person catch yet.)

Don’t tell the little folks, but I’m beginning to see a couple of problems. First, the little folks are, at an alarming rate, turning into bigger little folks. Second, for a couple of days after the trampoline fun, let’s just say that from my lower back’s perspective, the game is not “Crack the Egg,” it’s “Compress the Vertebrae.” (I’ve had to slow down on “seat drops.”)

But a little pain is worth it if it produces such delightful giggles and that wonderful affirmation: “Do it again, PawPaw!”

Thank the Lord indeed, “delight” and “joy” are drinks from God’s well that will never run dry.

The “delight-full” G. K. Chesterton, in his book Orthodoxy (1908), wrote that it’s because of their “abounding vitality” and spirits that are “fierce and free,” that children will cry, “Do it again!” until the adult under their command almost drops dead.

Why? Because of their backs! No, we’re talking about the kids here, and why they keep pleading, “Do it again!”

Because, Chesterton postulates, the kids are strong in a way that God himself is strong and grown-ups are not. God and children are “strong enough to exult in monotony.” They find genuine joy in delightful repetition, and joy is never boring.

So Chesterton says, “It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.”

All daisies seem pretty much alike to most of us, but the God who makes “every daisy separately,” has “never got tired of making them.”

“It may be,” Chesterton writes, “that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

My kids all say that I’ve grown a lot more childlike since the grandkids have been coming. (They actually said “childish” and something about Dad’s “losing his mind.”) I just think their arrival has made me a lot younger, except for my back.

What a delightful thought: Our Father, the source of all Joy and Delight, is younger than us all. I plan to be among those one eternal day giggling and begging, “Abba, do it again!”


      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Your Identity Remains Unchanged”



An e-mail subject line just caught me by surprise: “Your identity remains unchanged.”

Really? I guess that’s good to know. I’ve wondered.

How much does a person’s identity change over the years? How much of who we really are is changed simply by the accumulation of years and experience? How much of our genuine identity is changed just by making the journey across life’s mountaintops and through its valleys, as we’re lifted up by deep joys and disheartened by deep sorrows? How much is just rubbed down or polished smooth by the day-to-day relentless tumbling of the sand grains of the years? What’s eroded and lost? What’s brightened and beautified? What will be left and how will it have been changed?

How much of what makes me “me” changes not much at all? How much would be almost unrecognizable to someone who knew the long-ago “me”?

I just picked up my coffee mug. (I’m not so foolhardy as to try to write without coffee.) Looking at my grandkids’ sweet photo on that cup, I fervently want to believe—I do pray—that the sweetness of those spirits, the pure laughter, and the sparkle in the eyes, will still be there when the years have piled up and they’re playing with their own grandkids and savoring sweet smiles and laughter and joy, and when they’re praying the prayer I pray right now that the kernel of that beauty and joy is something that grows and deepens over the years and never becomes lost or twisted or marred.

We are not our bodies, even though we have them. Yet even the ways our physical bodies change, but remain the same, is mind-boggling. As others have eloquently noted, our bodies are like waterfalls. The cells that make them are always changing, but the DNA inside ensures that though we’re changed by age and the cells we have are not the ones we started with, we have the “same” bodies. Amazing.

How much more mysterious is the soul, the part of each of us that makes us unique creations of God? As a Christian, I believe that God’s Spirit living inside us as we’re submitted to Him, continually cleanses our spirits, renews us, re-makes us, refreshes us, re-creates us into the persons He would have us be. And in mystery and in joy, as He molds us ever more deeply into His image, we become increasingly our truest “selves.”

I have far more questions than answers here. But I think the answer, deeply mysterious and filled with joy, is that for me to become more fully the self God made me to be is to find my identity in the One whose identity never changes.

By the way, that e-mail note was from a company supposed to keep me safe from identity theft. I now see that it said, “Your identity information is unchanged.”

If what I’ve just written is true, the worst identity thief is not a human one. And the Creator and Protector of my true identity is Divine.


    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

What Do Hotel Pool Alligators Really Eat?

I might as well admit it: I am one tired alligator. pool alligator

My three grandkids and I were paddling around in a hotel swimming pool when my oldest granddaughter, the six-year-old beautiful Queen Alexandria, decided that I should be an alligator. The other two, the four-year-old magic faerie princess and the almost two-year-old handsome elf prince, agreed.

Fine. Those little folks and I discovered a long time ago that when we’re together, it’s not at all unusual for me to morph into a unicorn, or a pony, or, on the darker side, even a dragon or an orc. Adding “alligator” to the list? No problem.

The rules were, to be sure, just a bit restrictive. It was decreed that the “alligator pool,” where gators actually live most of the time, would be in the deeper end of the pond. On a couple of occasions, I was ordered to paddle back over there and quit eating people.

Okay, but that brings up another question. What are hotel pool alligators allowed to eat if pint-size human swimmers are pulled from the menu?

I asked that question, and the queen answered so quickly that I suppose anyone familiar with hotel pool alligators would know immediately. Two items. The first? Seaweed.

Well, alright. Seems a little slimy to me, but, hey, it’s green, and everybody’s mama knows that green veggies are supposed to be good for you. My mom seemed to think “the slimier the better.” Come to think of it, maybe that’s why most of the hotel pool alligators I’ve ever been acquainted with were a little light on the “green scale.” I’d thought the pool chemicals probably bleached them out. But it turns out that the chlorine which may be okay for hotel guests is not so good for most native hotel pool alligators; it deprives them of needed seaweed.

But I was glad to hear about the second food item: squirrels. Even before I was a hotel pool alligator, I was a confirmed carnivore all the way up to my canine incisors. I have trouble believing that vegetarians live longer than carnivores; I have no trouble at all believing that it must seem a lot longer. This hotel pool alligator prefers ribeyes, medium rare. But, if the alternative was a steady diet of seaweed, the alligator under my hat might find squirrels increasingly appealing.

In fact, I must have been needing some protein. I almost ate an elf-prince. It was his own fault. He was squirming in a squirrel-like fashion.

I was about to chow down when the queen got loud and frantic and burst my bubble. “Not squirrels,” she squealed, “coral! Hotel pool alligators eat coral!”

Good grief. How depressing is that?! I don’t think even seaweed slime in a hotel pool alligator’s diet will help that kind of roughage make safe passage.

I simply can’t imagine any hotel pool alligator ever thriving on a diet of seaweed and coral. That queen needs to check her facts and speak more clearly, or hotel pool alligators will soon be endangered. They’re already hard to find.

Jesus spoke absolutely clearly when with love-filled eyes he looked at the little children and pronounced, “Of such is the kingdom.” Yes, indeed!

But I still think she said squirrels.




Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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