Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

William Wallace Denslow’s illustrations for Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, from a 1901 edition of Mother GooseOne of my all time favorite poems and one that my father said to me countless times is Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.

One of my all time favorite poems is Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater but not because of the rhyme, rather for the memory of the countless times my father said it to me. He also recited Three Blind Mice quite often to me.  One might think — given Peter’s treatment of his wife not to mention three mice tails in jeopardy — my daddy was abusive by his pick of poetry to recite to a small child but the truth is he was a gentle soul with hands and arms like steel. He earned his living at the end of a hammer and hand saw, beginning at the lowest position. it is those days I remember the most. My father coming home covered in sawdust and construction grime, kissing Mama on her cheek, then washing up for super. I would look for him each day and he never disappointed. Always home from work on time and giving me a big hug before heading inside. When I was twelve we moved to Bonnie Street . Dad brought home a chalk board that he hung on the garage wall. It was then we began to leave each other messages each evening on the board (welcome home, sorry for the mason jar, Daddy  — and other such messages) which usually ended in I Love You. Looking back I think he did this because I was growing up and he wanted to preserve the evening ritual of my running up to him for his big hug. I think he knew in his father’s heart the day was coming that his little girl would wave from a neighbor’s front yard or the park down the street as he pulled into the drive.

Per Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, the rhyme is not present in any of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century collections published in Britain. The first surviving version of the rhyme was published in Mother Goose’s Quarto: or Melodies Complete, in Boston, Massachusetts around 1825. However, a verse collected from Aberdeen Scotland and published in 1868 had the words:

Peter, my neeper,
Had a wife,
And he couidna’ keep her,
He pat her i’ the wa’,
And lat a’ the mice eat her.

As a result it is possible that the verse was an older one adapted to include pumpkins in America. This verse is also considered to be an older version of the rhyme Eeper Weeper

Eeper Weeper, chimbly sweeper,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Had another, didn’t love her,
Up the chimbly he did shove her.

Other versions exist, however it appears new verse has in many cases been tweaked to fit a specific purpose.  The following modern version is an example.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn’t love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

This gives me a new thought of how to decorate the front porch for Trick-R-Treat!


Hey Duuuuude Chill!

When my tranquility abruptly ends I am usually dealing with an under-appreciated (because Mum thinks I should appreciate and snap to) disturbance in the form of a personage which stands about five feet three inches tall and who will soon turn eighty-eight years of age, this is if my daughter and I let her make it to her birthday.  Last week my daughter had a dream in which she shoved a peach into her grandmothers face …. because (1) the dream upset my daughter so much and (2) because she felt the need to share her dream with me, I felt obligated to reminded her that a dream is only DE-fraging ones mind and that shoving a peach into her grandmother’s face is nothing she would actually do. But, now each time mother gets ‘testy’ which she does quite often these days my daughter and I let the dream serves another purpose, which is comic relief in the form of verbally speaking out of one word — PEACHES — and then we simply go about our business as if nothing was spoken, but with a smile on our face and sometimes the tiniest of a chuckle. Mother is none-the-wiser.

My mother is elderly and in poor health but improving in gait and stamina (even attitude) each day, now that we insist she be challenged physically by doing for herself. The more she does for herself — the more she improves — the more she improves — the better quality of life she has and the better her attitude. WE are so very aware the end of her days is coming sooner than later but our wish is for her to have enjoyment, comfort, independence and as much well-being as humanly possible from now until then. Given her congestive heart failure (CHF)diagnosis I know it is a challenge for her to make her bed, dust her dresser, pour her own cup of coffee and sometimes I do these (and other) things for her. I do a lot, actually as does my daughters and my sons, as well as the older great-grandchildren, but what we do not do is to enable her to be sedentary and wallow/willow away. We love her to much to allow that; so, . . . when Ms. Ugly rears up and goes into disturbance mode I just take a chill pill in the form of one word: PEACHES!

Are you dealing with the care of an elderly parent? Like my family have you opted to keep your elder at home during their final days? A lot of families make the decision to move an elderly parent in with them, providing comfort, instead if placing a parent into a nursing home when it is apparent that the parent can no longer live independently in the parents own home.  Perhaps, you have noticed during your visits to your parent’s home that your parent is beginning to need help with normal daily activities, (i.e. bathing/dressing/cooking/cleaning) and perhaps you have issues of concern for your parent’s safety (i.e. forgetting to turn off the stove burners or oven).  Some of you may find it difficult to approach the subject with your elderly parent especially if you have ever had to relieve your parent of their car keys, as I had to do with my Dad. I was not excited to have the next conversation with my Dad about the stove needing to be off limits to him (Microwave–yes; stove/oven–NO!) but it was a conversation that had to happen for his own safety and that of his lovely home us kids wished to remain standing.

If you are dealing with this issue: you are in my prayers (prayer is the most powerful thing I have) and feel free to borrow PEACHES, if you are so inclined.

Here are a few organizations which provide some beneficial information for all of us.


Training for Family Caregivers

Community-based resources may offer training and classes for family caregivers. Such resources may include: your local hospital; home care agencies; Area Agency on Aging, voluntary health agencies, and county and state departments of health.

American Red Cross has developed training programs for family caregivers. You will need to check with your local chapter to find out if there are classes in your area.

NFCA has developed an educational workshop to teach family caregivers to communicate more effectively with healthcare professionals. Check out the NFCA Website to find out if there are workshops scheduled in your community.


Caring for Elders

Vital information and possible support services for the elderly can be obtained by contacting your local county office of senior services or elder affairs as well as your local social service department. Area adult daycare centers may also provide information on resources for the elderly in your area. These numbers can be located in the governmental pages of the phone book or through a web query.

AARP supplies information about caregiving, long-term care and aging, including publications and audio-visual aids for caregivers.

What does a grown daughter say to her dad when he’s hit a light pole with the car? How does an adult son ask his mom if she’s taking her medications like she should? And how do siblings approach their parents about needing more help at home? These issues can challenge even the family where communication is free and open. Talking sooner is better than waiting until a crisis has occurred. That’s what the “40-70 Rule” is all about. This advice is designed to help adult children and their aging parents deal with those sensitive topics that often make conversations difficult. The idea is that if you’re 40, or your parents are 70, it’s time to start talking about the issues of aging.

Geriatric care managers (GCMs) are health care professionals, most often social workers, who help families in dealing with the problems and challenges associated with caring for the elderly. This national organization will refer family caregivers to their state chapters, which in turn can provide the names of GCMs in your area. This information is also available online.

The Administration on Aging is the official federal agency dedicated to the delivery of supportive home and community-based services to older individuals and their caregivers. The AoA Website has a special section on family caregiving.

For more specific/topic information and web sites feel free to check out:

Children’s Honesty: mini-short-stories

My Grandfather always said: If you want to know the truth about an old horse ask the kid. And he would be right, from washing machines for sale to the neighbors dog the kids will say the real truth.

Here are a few mini-short-stories to illustrate children truthfulness.

The first story came to me from a friend a little over a month ago. It’s too cute not to share. I’m giving it a title of: “Sunday School Lesson”

Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil.
One said to the other, ‘What do you think about all this Satan stuff?’
The other boy replied, ‘Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It’s probably just your Dad.’

The second is from an experience I had as a child and is titled: Mama’s Washing Machine

Oh, it did rock and roll across the back porch every Monday morning, churning out squeaks and pounding out loud hammering sounds. I remember the last Monday it was used as clearly as if it were yesterday because it was I who warned Mama the machine was scooting towards the steps.

With the speed of a sprinter Mama pulled the cord out from the plug. The next day she brought home a new used one. The following day she cleaned and polished the old used one and pushed it to the side yard with a large ‘4 Sale’ sign on it. She only wanted $5.00 for it and she nearly got it too, but just as the woman was reaching into her purse she winked at me and said something about the good deal she’d made. I don’t know why I said: “it’s only worth five because it bangs like a hammer” but I did say it; with that the woman closed her purse and left Mama standing there about ready to kill her favorite and only little girl.

Always, ask the kid.

The next story is about my youngest when she was three and is titled: Mama’s Hands

By the time I had my last child I was in my forties. I know, it was silly of me, but this story isn’t about that. It’s about my Mama again. Or more precisely it is about her hands. You see Mama always had the most beautiful hands. Of course, as she aged so did her hands. Mine has always been old, even as a child.

At age three my youngest noticed her grandmother’s hands were blue with veins and quite shriveled and said something about it. Well, that didn’t go over very well with Granny-rie (Mama’s name was Marie but her eldest granddaughter could not say Marie well so that’s where the rie came from and it stuck) and she began to tear up. Feeling badly for her I immediately showed my daughter my hands. I pulled on her skin at the top-side of her hand and then pulled up on mine. “See” I said, “your skin is tight, look how mine stays up a little. That’s because I’m older. We all age but to age is actually a beautiful thing” and, I went on to talk about all the wisdom of aging, all the joys of a life lived well. Of course, my mistake was telling this to a three-year old. After the three or four minutes I spent telling her how aging is wonderful she marched over to her Grannie-rie, pulled hard on her skin at the back of her hand and proclaimed “See, yours stays up a long long time, you’re really old” Mamma, must have been totally in love with this little girl because against all normalcy (that should/would have been her) she just gave her granddaughter a big hug. She did, however, save the glare for me, which was, in all honesty, expected.

The last story isn’t about a dog. You were waiting for it, weren’t you? It is about a goldfish and the honesty between sisters. I title this one: Bug-eyed

Younger Sister: Screaming out “It’s dead, it’s dead”

Older Sister: “It’s not dead, silly, it’s taking its nap, just like we do. Now, let’s take our nap and when we wake up Bug-eyed will wake up too, isn’t that right, Mommy?”

“Right” I replied. First thing was to call in a neighbor to set. Then, after the girls were asleep, I rushed to the nearest pet shop where I bought a “Bug-eyed” replacement of similar “Bug-eyedness” desperately trying to avoid the hysteria that would follow had I not.

(girls wake up from nap)

“See, Bug-eyed woke up from his nap and is swimming just like I said” Older sister says.

“It’s not the same Bug-eyed!”

“I know, the other one died and Mommy got a new own”

“Mommy lied?”

“Yes, but she didn’t mean to”

I sigh: speechless.


My girls are grown now, of course, but the stories told above are true, real and involved all of them. Bug-eyed: middle daughter and older sister on the left; Mama’s hands, was about my daughter on the right. Mama’s Washing Machine is, of course, about me when I was five or six.

Aren’t children wonderful? It takes years to learn how to bend the truth and I’m always sad to see that lesson being learned. We adults call it “little white lies” but honestly, I think that life has no room for “little white lies” and we all should be more like children every chance we get.

Date Night at the Mall

Destiny and younger sister Abigail are having fun at a local mall’s child care center while their parents shop for the perfect top to go with the new pair of jeans their Daddy gave their Mommy for her birthday.

More and more parents are utilizing this service so both child and parent can enjoy the shopping experience.

These two girl’s parents are taking this a step farther however by doing a ‘date night’ at their local mall. Of course, the fact that the girls grandmother owns the center is a plus. The parents happily leave their children to romp all they want while they shop and grab a slice of pizza and a movie. If you ask me this is a great idea. I wish this was available when my children were younger and my husband and I needed babysitting for our Friday night dates. It would have made leaving the house much simpler. Just take the kids along, drop them off for a few hours while you have some ‘us’ time.

On this particular Friday night the girls went home with their Nana while their Mommy & Daddy spent a little longer doing ‘date night’ but usually this is not the case.

“Usually, we drop off the girls around seven or so and shop a little if we need something and then go out to eat; then around nine-thirty we’re all home and the girls are in bed. It works out really well.” said their mother, Rebbecca.

Allowing time to be a couple, especially when you have young children who are more demanding of your time, is an important part of developing a healthy and lasting relationship. Building a solid foundation begins with simple things like a date night and taking the time to develop an understanding of who your counter-part, your best-friend is at their deepest levels. Date nights allow time to build your information file which helps during those times when it isn’t such smooth sailing in your relationship. Actually developing your spouse as your best-friend, a deep and loving friendship, is one of the secrets to a lasting relationship.

Another secret to a long and happy relationship is to (together) set some goals and then as a couple see those goal through to completion. When one goal is met find another to take its place. The goals don’t need to be colossal ones. They can be as simple as building a flower bed together to more significant ones like finishing a college degree but they need to be looked upon as a joint venture. And at the completion applauding is not only allowed it is advantageous to the relationship. Who among us doesn’t like a nice pat on the back and some appreciation?

I’ll give you another secret to a long and happy life together. It is a willingness to love unconditionally and a willingness to accept your best-friend, your lover, your counter-part, your spouse for who they are and not try to change them in any way, unless it is for their betterment such as insisting the use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea! Otherwise, no fair – acceptance is golden.

This is what Desi & Abby’s parents are doing (minus the sleep apnea machine, of course). Consistently building a foundation for a lasting and deeply loving relationship which will carry them through many many years with goals set and an eye on a future, together. And giving themselves the gift of ‘date night at the mall’.

“The best thing I can give my girls is to love their mother right” the girl’s father said. By example he teaches his young daughters. “You can’t ask more than that” added their mother.