Tag Archives: Leeson



I had been working on a blogpost to update readers on developments in Europe, when I had to go collect our four-year-old grandson, Leeson, from school.   From there, we went to the dollar store.   I’ve learned that the dollar store is the only store I can take him, as “everything is one dollar” and it won’t cost me too much, no matter what he wants.

Within 30 seconds, he had chosen four dinosaurs (= $4 + tax).   As we walked down the aisle, he changed his mind and chose four ice cream cone shaped bubbles toys.   So I suggested he take back the dinosaurs. When we reached the dinosaur collection, he saw other toys he wanted.   Four of them, of course.   (Is this because he’s aged 4?   Will he want 5 when he’s five?   This could get very expensive!)

I thought it best to vacate the store ASAP, before he asked for other things. I managed to persuade him to only get two toys, for a total of $2.12 with tax.

We drove home.


His seven-month-old brother, Hayden, wanted me to pick him up out of his baby chair.   He prefers sitting in my lap to being alone in his chair.   While seated on my lap, he often just looks at me, staring for long periods of time.   It’s touching. I think I represent fun.   My wife says that’s not what it is – he just likes food and is always fascinated by what I’m eating!

Anyway, I thought I would watch the news while holding him.   The next thing I remember was Diane waking me up, with the baby screaming on my lap.   I hadn’t even noticed.

I’ve had a bad cough and chest cold for about a week now.   I can’t sleep at night.  I just cough all night.   I do manage to doze off in my recliner, which is the only way to get any sleep.   But it’s not enough, so I fell asleep holding the baby.

Five minutes after the baby was taken away from me, Leeson wanted to sit on my lap and look at dinosaurs on my laptop (do you see why it takes so long to write an article?).   I got a dinosaur cartoon on the screen.   At this point, he looked up at me and said: “I love you, Grandpa!”  I responded with:  “I love you, too!”   He came right back with:  “I love you, three!”  “Well, I love you four.”   “I love you 5, Grandpa.”   Then he quickly added:   “No, I love you 8.”

I can see now why “ONE toy” quickly turns into 8 when we go to the dollar store!   I tried to explain that from five you go to six.   But he still insisted on 8.   I can see this is going to take some time!

For a while, he was joined on my lap by his younger brother, who was returned to me.   Fortunately, their older brother, Aubren, is still in school – I have to go get him in ten minutes.   When I do get him, he will want to go with me to get a “slushie,” which is a weekly treat I buy him.

When we get home, there may be three of them on my lap, watching either dinosaurs or trains on my laptop, “Super Why” on TV or a DVD I’ve seen at least a 100 times!

Three on my lap is my limit nowadays.   A few years ago, all four girls would sit on my lap when they were together; until I developed circulatory issues.   Now I can only take three.   And, frankly, there’s a definite time limit on it!   I can no longer be buried under grandchildren.

Talking of being buried, the two granddaughters who live near us recently lost their other grandfather, who died when the truck he was driving rolled over in an accident.   It was very traumatizing for them.  Naturally, they keep talking about it and have expressed some concern that I will be next.

I was driving them home from school one day recently when we passed the cemetery.   They began encouraging me to stake out a plot on the side of the main road that is nearest to our house.   That way they could come visit and talk to me!   Perhaps they said that because they felt nobody seems to listen to them – at least I would be a captive audience.

This was not the time for a deep theological discussion.   They clearly were worried about losing me and I reassured them that I intend to be here for a while; but I also said if anything happened to me, they’ve still got Grandma, their parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.

But it’s nice to know they will visit me when I’m no longer able to go see them or give them rides!

With that, I must leave to go get Aubren, who turns 5 next month.

Footnote:   Hayden, pictured above, finally has a surgery date of February 8th. He has to have major cranial surgery.  He was scheduled twice before and it had to be postponed due to an ear infection.  Prayers would be very  much appreciated.



Ethan and Evan on their 4th birthday
Ethan and Evan on their 4th birthday

I’ve been going through a box of old papers from my college days at Bricket Wood in England.   The box is over 40 years old.

In it was a letter from the first minister I knew well, a man called Vivian Bassett.   He was the Methodist minister who first influenced me when it comes to religion.   It must be 50 years since I last saw him. I’m sure he’s been dead for quite some time.

He was a really nice man, a good example of Christian love, compassion and mercy, three qualities that are rarely found even in ministers of religion.

He was also a great servant.   He visited all his parishioners twice a year on foot, even if they rarely attended church.  He didn’t scold them, but rather encouraged them and listened if they wanted to talk about their problems.

Before he left our church he was ministering to thirteen widely scattered congregations – and did so without a car!

Thinking about him reminded me of what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 20:

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NKJV).

Vivian Bassett was not an ambitious man.  There wasn’t a political bone in his body.  He had no desire to head the Methodist Conference.  He simply wanted to serve the people at the pastoral level, which is what he did.

I remember his last service well.  There was standing room only in the church as people we rarely saw at church turned up to honor a highly respected and deeply loved man.

The new minister arrived a few days later after the Bassetts vacated the parsonage.  The new man was a highly academically qualified minister who knew his Bible better than most.   His name was Dr. Letch (we teens called him “Lurch” after a popular character in a hit TV show at the time) but knowing your Bible isn’t enough.  He did not have the same rapport with people that his predecessor had and did not come over as caring and compassionate, which are more important qualities in a minister representing Jesus Christ.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ.”  (Phil 2:5)


The twins in Indianapolis, Ethan and Evan, are now four years old.

Their mother, our eldest daughter Alix, reported a few days ago that she had gone to the bathroom and found the floor covered with water. She asked the boys what they had been up to (a question she frequently asks!).

This time they proudly told her they had washed their own feet — in the toilet bowl — and “look how clean they are!”   Yes, being a mom is a mixture of Aawww and Eew . . .


Meanwhile, their three-year-old cousin Leeson in Lansing has added a new word to his vocabulary.

That word is “Never!” as in “Never! Never! Never!” (or more accurately with a British accent “Nevah nevah nevah!), his typical response when asked to do anything.

At first, I didn’t think he knew what it meant, until I asked him if he wanted an ice cream and did NOT respond with “Never! Never! Never!”

He also knows how to tease with the three-word expression.   When I wanted to give him a hug before he left for school, he again responded with “Never! Never! Never!” but very quickly afterwards ran to me and gave me a big hug, loudly proclaiming that “I wove you, Gwampa!” (As the chief supplier of his drug of choice – ice cream – he can’t afford to upset me.)

But when it comes to following instructions, depending on his mood, we most often hear “Never! Never! Never!”

Jesus Christ told us to be like little children.   When I think of Leeson, I’m mindful of how his words should be our attitude to sin at all times: “Never! Never! Never!

Most Christians would likely agree with that.

But what about the words in Matthew 7:1-4?

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? For how can you say to your brother “let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”

When it comes to judging others for their sins, few Christians would exclaim:  “Never! Never! Never!”


The BARNA Group that studies religious trends and attitudes in America illustrated this in 2013 when they published the results of a survey of thousands of conservative Christians.  They had been asked a series of questions to determine how much they were like Jesus Christ.

Only 14% had the mind of Christ.   51% of these conservative Christians were like the Pharisees.   They defined the Pharisees as people who judge others harshly for their sins while justifying their own.

That’s 51% of conservative Christians!


Yes, Leeson and his brother have started school. Leeson, aged 3, is in the Head Start program that lasts three hours each morning, Monday through Thursday.   His brother Aubren, ten months older, is in the Great Start program that is seven hours a day.   Both are thriving in their new school setting.

The first few days were difficult, especially for their mother and, perhaps more so, for their grandparents.   There was lots of crying, weeping and wailing – and that was just from Grandpa!

My wife and I were about to look for a Grandparenting Support Group to help us get through the emotional trauma of taking our grandchildren to school.

Fortunately, we found a support group of sorts, in a Quality Dairy we stopped at.   It had a really good display, a “group” of fresh donuts!

Comfort food – that’s exactly what you need after dropping off two young children at a new school.   I don’t think we are going to need any other support group – we have about a dozen donut shops en route back from the school.




Coming back from our walk.
Coming back from our walk.

We recently moved into a new neighborhood, which has a handful of small stores within walking distance.  Our four-year-old grandson, Aubren, asks me daily to take him for a “walk,” which is his way of asking me for an ice cream, sold at one of those stores, Quality Dairy (QD).

It’s still challenging to walk, even though it’s been two years since I came out of the hospital following two major back surgeries.   I also have problems with my feet. But I love these walks with Aubren – and I only buy one ice cream when we go!

Aubren’s mother is a nurse and frequently reminds me that ice cream is not on the list of recommended foods for diabetics.   I find this bewildering – how can anything that makes you feel so good possibly be bad for you?   Nurses can be illogical – in the hospital, they would wake me up in the middle of the night to give me a pill to make me sleep

Aubren literally drags me to QD.   He pulls me along as we take the twelve-minute walk. Actually, more precisely, it’s 12 minutes 30 seconds – I timed it last night and that extra thirty seconds makes a big difference! I can feel the level of excitement rising in his little body as we get closer to the store.

When we arrive, he pushes open the door and immediately turns left to the ice cream counter.   There are 24 different ice cream flavors to choose from but he always goes for the “green”, mint chocolate chip.   But last night, there was no “green” ice cream.   Not to worry, he soon found a “brown” substitute, Mackinaw Island Fudge.

After receiving the “scoop,” we leave the store and walk to a nearby hill, where we sit. He takes his time with his ice cream, while we both look at cars approaching the intersection from four different directions.   He already knows the car he wants when he gets older – “the red one, grandpa!”  Any red one.  But it has to be red.

I smiled as I remembered a minister I knew many years ago who told one of his parishioners he must return his brand new red car and get one of a different color, as “red” was the color of the scarlet colored “harlot” of Revelation.   I smiled at this reminder.   At 4, Aubren is not concerned about such things, and I hope he never will be.

Mackinaw Island Fudge definitely is not as good a flavor as mint chocolate chip.  I know this because Aubren suddenly took his ice cream cone and started painting the parking lot with it.   This ruled out any thought I might have had of finishing off his ice cream – Mackinaw Island gravel did not appeal!

We started walking back, a slower walk as Aubren was no longer in a hurry.   He was now commenting on the “white van” in one driveway, the dog in another.   He was no longer thinking of ice cream, though there was evidence of consumption all down the front of his tee-shirt. I should have taken his top off to remove the evidence.   Parents sometimes get upset when I buy one of my grandchildren “food” that tastes a lot better than what they get on their dinner plate at home.   I’m not trying to compete with dinner but, rather, to supplement it!

We’ve had all nine grandchildren in the house all week. I took our four granddaughters, all aged 9-11, to get a milk shake one afternoon.   We took 3- year-old Leeson with us – he could not believe his luck at being included!.   As the six of us sat down to our treat, I said:   “Do you remember, girls, a few years ago, I used to take you all out for a walk in the park, or to the zoo, or around the neighborhood?   All I can do now is take you all out to get food that’s bad for you!”

One of our 11-year-old granddaughters came right back with:   “And we love you for it, Grandpa!”

This is what grandparents are for – spoiling their grandchildren. They are the center of our lives as we age and think about the legacy we will leave behind.

61 years from now, when Aubren is my age, he will still remember his walks with Grandpa and those mint chocolate chip ice creams.  I would like to think one of his grandchildren will be pulling him to the nearest ice cream store.   Hopefully, he will have learned to take some “wet ones” to remove the evidence before returning his grandson to momma, especially if she’s a nurse!




Leeson, 3, playing in the driveway.

I was sitting on the front porch yesterday evening, watching our 3-year-old grandson, Leeson, digging in the dirt that constitutes our circular drive way.   He had his back to me and happily played for over two hours.   I think he was enjoying some alone time as his 4-year-old brother, Aubren, had gone to play golf with his dad.   His younger brother no longer likes golf after falling off the golf cart (it was parked) and getting a couple stitches over his eye.   And Grandpa hasn’t liked golf since making a fool of himself the last time he played!  It was so bad, the city closed down the golf course soon afterwards, though this may have been a coincidence.

Back to the driveway.   I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but when he finally came in to the house to eat his dinner (or, rather, not eat it) I walked over to where he was playing and looked at his handiwork.

What Leeson had done was dig his own little pothole.

Clearly influenced by driving on Michigan’s roads, where potholes are ubiquitous, this future citizen is growing up thinking this is the norm.   I’m going to have to tell him, when he is old enough to understand, that once upon a time there were no potholes in Michigan.  In fact, when Grandpa and Grandma left Ghana for the United States in 1990, they naively thought that potholes were a thing of the past!

We never expected that, 25 years later, Michigan would be worse than Ghana for potholes.

Presumably, the United States has the technology to fix the roads, so that can’t be the problem.   A recent letter to our local newspaper was written by a man who had driven from Florida to Michigan, driving through a number of states, and remarked on how the roads deteriorated as soon as he crossed the state line from Ohio into Michigan.   He rather unkindly wrote that he didn’t need a sign to tell him he had reached Michigan – the state of the roads was enough to say where he was.

It’s been like this for a while, two or thee years.   Nothing is ever done about it.   For all the roadworks that seem to take place here, there are still potholes galore.

Perhaps all our taxes are going to Flint to improve the water quality before the entire population dies from lead poisoning.   I doubt it. Infrastructure does not appear to be a priority.

The question is: where are our taxes going?

We pay road taxes in different ways – our gas is amongst the most expensive in the United States.   Before we cross back into Michigan from Indiana, where our daughter and family live, we fill up our gas tank to save money.  If we smoked, we’d buy our cigarettes there, too; and if I drank a lot, I’d buy my beer there as there’s no deposits on bottles or cans.

An attempt was made last year to raise the sales tax (on everything except food) from 6-7%, but was rejected by the voters. Quite simply, the people did not trust their government to actually use the money to fix the roads. The 6% should be enough, together with a high tax on gas and car registration fees. Again, where’s all the money going?

Michigan taxpayers had to bail out the city of Detroit to the tune of $191 million, following years of corrupt administration in the city, where officials pocketed a great deal of the local tax revenue.   More recently, Michigan taxpayers have had to bail out the city of Flint to rectify its water situation.   Again, the problem was caused by the local city council.   The inevitable lawsuits will themselves run into millions, every dollar of which could be used to fix the roads.

Meanwhile, voters are forking out thousands each year on car repairs, made essential by the state of the roads.   At least the body shops are doing well!

It’s time the Legislature made a determined effort to solve this problem.   It might be more of a priority for the Governor if he didn’t fly around in a helicopter – from his perspective, the roads look fine!

To be fair, there is only one pothole in my drive.  I suspect, however, that Leeson will be out there again today digging up more of our own little road, until there are a dozen potholes in the drive, making it a more authentic stretch of Michigan road!

Perhaps, 15 years from now, when he graduates from High School, Leeson can work for the Transportation Department and help fix the roads.   I’m convinced those potholes will still be there.


Aubren, Papa, and Leeson watching saurs on the computer.
Aubren, Papa, and Leeson watching saurs on the computer.

Our youngest grandson, Leeson, aged 2, is fascinated with dinosaurs.   Every morning, he races downstairs on his bottom and then runs to me and says “soars!”   That’s my cue to show him dinosaurs on my computer.   He will sit on my lap for an hour just looking at dinosaurs.

He has a few toy “saurs” which he carries around with him.   I decided to buy him a bag that could help him.

We went to the dollar store.   Dollar Tree to be exact, where “everything is just $1.”

I’ve taken him there before and always put him in the top part of the cart for safety reasons.   But now he’s a “big boy” and wanted to walk around with Grandpa.   So we started walking down the aisles looking for a glorified shopping bag, preferably with dinosaurs pictured on the side.

I did not ask for help.   When I took him to Target a week or so ago, I was looking for a DVD of dinosaurs.   I went up to the young man in the DVD section and asked him for a DVD with dinosaurs.   He recommended an animated movie.   I said no, we did not want cartoon depictions of dinosaurs, we wanted the real thing!   That solicited a smart-aleck response from him about me living at the same time as the dinosaurs.

So, this time, I thought I would look myself and not ask anybody for help.

The inevitable happened.   Before we even got to the aisle marked “Toys,” Leeson saw a plastic cup with a T-Rex (his favorite dinosaur) on the side.   I took it off the shelf and held it in my hand.

We then got to the “Toy” section and his eyes alighted on a section of small animals.  He pointed and said “Saurs!”   So, I told him to go look amongst the animals for a saur, telling him he could have one.

He came back with four horses.   There were no saurs.

Remembering he is only two and wouldn’t understand if I attempted to explain that horses are not dinosaurs, that they are, in fact, very much alive in today’s world, I decided instead to concentrate on teaching numbers.

“Leeson, I said, “One – just one animal.”

With this, he put one back – and kept the other three!

I was too tired to argue.

By now, the one dollar I was going to spend on him had become four, plus a 6% sales tax.   And I still hadn’t found the bag for him to carry his ever-increasing number of saurs – and now horses!

We finally found the bags – near the check-out line, thankfully.   They did not have one with dinosaurs on the side, but they did have a Mickey Mouse bag.   He likes Mickey, so I bought him that.

We then went through the check-out line.   Thankfully, he was so happy with his new bag and busy trying to fit the horses in it, that he didn’t notice the candy being offered (at $1 per item) on both sides of the line.

The one dollar had now become $5.   With tax, the total was $5.30.

A few days later, he is still busy playing with his “saurs,” putting them in his little bag to take them upstairs to bed at night and then bringing them downstairs in the morning in the same Mickey Mouse bag.

He’s gotten into the habit of wanting me to take him places every morning after his brother Aubren, 3,  goes to school.   But, if it’s going to cost me $5 each day, I may think twice about it!

Not really.   I love to take him.   He’s a real joy.   Besides, how long will he want to go out with an old “saur” like me?



I took our eldest grandson out this morning – the first time since going into the hospital six months ago.

As he’s only 2 and a half, he had forgotten our daily trips last summer. Today, he was quite fearful about going anywhere with Grandpa.

This was not helped when I lifted him into his car seat in our Ford Expedition. It wasn’t easy to lift him. I had doubts myself as my surgeon said I should not lift more than ten pounds. But I got him into his seat and we drove to a nearby store.

He was still resisting me when I got him out of his car seat and into a shopping cart.   Thankfully, he’s easily bought – I gave him a packet of cookies and he calmed down. From that point on, he behaved himself perfectly, helping me select grocery items as we walked down the aisles (more cookies!).

I’ve started to address him as “Cookie Monster.” He’s a fan of Sesame Street and has learned the alphabet partly by watching the show. When the program today showed an ‘N’ and a ‘P,’ he came up to me pointing at the television screen and saying ‘O’, ‘O’ and again, ‘O’.   He’s not even three and he’s already correcting mistakes on TV!

He and his younger brother still favor “Hickory Dickory Dock” over all other electronic fare. Only they don’t say “dock” – they say “duck.” When I’m using my laptop, they will ask for “duck” and I switch over from whatever I’m doing to show them yet another variation of “Hickory Dickory Dock.” Does anybody out there know how many versions of the old nursery rhyme are on the internet? It must run into the hundreds! I can even sing it in Hindi.

I used to take both boys out for a daily walk but have not been able to this summer for health reasons. Today was a big step, taking Aubren out for an hour. Next time, I will take his younger brother Leeson. It’s going to be a while before I can take both out at the same time. But today was one small step forward into full recovery.

Diane and I are both recovering from surgery at the same time. It’s a slow process. We have to help and support each other. Hopefully by next spring we will be back to normal and able to go places and see people. I also hope I will be up to walking both boys again, on a daily basis. They won’t want to walk with Grandpa much longer, so I don’t want to miss any opportunity now.



Providing daycare to two of our grandchildren has its challenges, especially when I’m also trying to write articles for my blog.

Every time I open my laptop to start writing (like now, this very minute), a 15-month-old comes over and wants to watch nursery rhymes.  His two-year-old brother is never far behind.  Both want to climb up on my knee to sit on my lap and watch, yet again, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O.”   They love it.

Some nursery rhymes have more music than others.  When we play the ones that have real “bounce,” they do exactly that – bounce up and down on my stomach and my bladder, the result is me rushing down the hallway to the bathroom, stepping on toys as I run!   Some of the toys emit musical sounds when I trip over them, competing with the nursery rhymes still playing on the computer.

After 20 minutes of nursery rhymes, around the time I’m thinking that one more “Old MacDonald” will see me heading for the nearest asylum, I switch them over to “Thomas the Tank Engine.”  We begin with familiar songs from Thomas, starting with “Boo! Boo! Choo-Choo,” which was really scary the first time but is now just another catchy number.  After “Boo! Boo!” we watch “Never, Never, Never Give Up,” another rousing Thomas number.  Sometimes, I follow that with an actual Thomas story.

Today, the Dowager Countess featured in the story.  Sorry, that’s Maggie Smith on “Downton Abbey.”  I mean “Dowager Hatt” on Thomas, the Tank Engine.  They are both very similar – not somebody to argue with!  They both like to have their own way – always!   I doubt there’s anybody else in America, indeed, in the world, who watches both “Downton Abbey” and “Thomas the Tank Engine,” but, I must confess, I do.

Thomas is set on the fictional island of Sodor.  At least, I think it’s fictional.  (Mental note – if it really exists, don’t go there!!!)   Downton is sort of fictional – it’s a fictional place with fictional characters but it’s filmed in an actual castle, Highclere Castle, not far from London, a castle occupied by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife.  My wife and I would very much like to visit, next time we are in the UK.  (Such a visit would also give me a break from further viewing of “Thomas” – by then, I may need extensive therapy to get over it!)

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I like.  It’s all about the boys.  And they love “Thomas.”  Yesterday, I saw models of Percy, Thomas’ best friend.  So I bought two, one for each of the boys who live with us.   It was a wise thing to do – if I had bought one, we would have lived through non-stop fighting but two enables both to play with Percy at the same time without incident (until one gets lost or damaged, that is).  (Note from wife:  One already got chewed by the dog.)

I should probably go back and buy two more for the twins in Indianapolis, as we are visiting there in a few days.  However, I’m not sure they are in to Thomas and I don’t think the store had two more, anyway.  I will have to find something else for them.  Whatever gift I find, in a few days there will likely be four boys on my lap, all listening to nursery rhymes and using my stomach as a trampoline.

Aubren and Leeson are both now down for a nap, enabling me to write this and, hopefully, another article on a world news topic.   There’s a lot happening in the world and it can be overwhelming and negative – so perhaps it’s really good to take time out and watch a few episodes of “Thomas the Tank Engine” from time to time, interspersed with familiar nursery rhymes!