Masterpiece Monday

Children Playing London Bridge

Today I wanted to spotlight African-American artist William H. Johnson (1901-1970). William H. Johnson was born in the segregated South, and as a child practiced his art by drawing the comics from the newspaper. He left for New York at age 17–working multiple jobs simultaneously to save for art school. He attended the prestigious National Academy of Design. After graduation, a mentor arranged for him to study art in Europe.

After returning to America to establish himself as an American artist, the prejudice against black artists convinced him to again return to Europe.

He returned to America a few years later and joined the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project and became an instructor at the Harlem Community Arts Center. He and his wife belonged to a group of artists, writers and musicians, and with the WPA helping to provide financial support, black artists began to see success.

Johnson’s exhibits were successful, but just as he was beginning to be celebrated as an artist, a fire in his studio destroyed all of his supplies and most of his work. Tragedy struck again, and within two years his wife died of cancer—and this left Johnson overwhelmed by grief. Sadly, over time he became more and more unstable, and was diagnosed with mental illness. Tragically, he lived out the remainder of his life,  (23 years) in an institution, where he died in 1970.

As with many artists, his artwork wasn’t fully appreciated during his lifetime—but is now part of many collections in Europe and America. The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds the largest and most complete collection of his work. His art tells the story of his life, folk art with a modern twist. 

William Johnson’s life was not an easy one—in fact it was full of heartache, but thanks to his art, his story is not over. I chose to highlight his picture of a group of girls playing London Bridge, because it reminded me of my time on the playground playing similar games with my girlfriends, and it brought back some wonderful memories of my time in school back in the day. And I think that is exactly what art is supposed to do.

Think Small


I recently passed what I consider to be a milestone birthday. You know the kind…where both numbers match; 11, 22, 33, 44…etc? You only get a very few of those in a lifetime. 

Suffice it to say, I’m now officially “etc.” years old. 😂 Because I was not looking forward to this particular birthday, I decided early on to make it a special one. 

I planned ahead to make sure that on the big day I would be doing my very favorite things with my very favorite people. And so naturally that meant I was off to visit my grandkiddos.


Granny Puckett from Hoodwinked Too!

Spending time with young people is supposed to make you feel energized and youthful. Spending time with my busy little ones, ages 3 1/2 and 16 months however, quickly made me feel every single year the oldster. Wait. How can that be? Wasn’t I just dealing with my own kiddos a few years back? Well…maybe a bit longer ago than that-but it still feels like yesterday to me. 

So what’s changed? Besides the fact I’m not as peppy…(understatement)… seemingly in a blink diapers are different, baby food now comes in pouches instead of teeny jars-(more like food I imagine astronauts eat), and don’t get me started on the blasted red button on car seats! Just when I figured out the over-the-shoulder straps and click into place, my hands didn’t have the super-human strength required to snap that damn red button. (Inconveniently located in an area where I could do a lot of harm with a misfire, I might add. Who designs these crazy things? )

 Now to officially sound like an old person on a rant…

Life was so much easier when I had my kids in the 80’s and 90’s. Probably not as safe when it comes to car seats, but definitely easier!

I never did get the knack of fastening those two car seats the entire time I was there…but I did do things that reawakened long forgotten sights, sounds, and feelings from way back in the day when I was a younger version of me. 


Starting with the sights. The majestic mountains reminded me of the many times I had driven alongside them on trips from Idaho to Utah. Starting at about age 19 I would drive my car (Henry) down to see my friends at college for brief visits. We wouldn’t really do much of anything, but we always had a great time together doing whatever it is that kids do at that age. 

Fast forward a few brief years, and I was frequently taking my baby daughter to the University Hospital there to receive treatment for her kidney disease. Gazing at the hospital now it surprised me that I was dealing with all that at 24 or 25 years old. Either I was very strong back then, or it was the youthful blessing of ignorance is bliss…

Of course when you look back with hindsight, you’re glad you didn’t know all that was coming. But it was a tender time, and those tender feelings rushed back. 

I actually felt grateful to be older (& wiser) because those uncertain times were now behind me. 

On to happier times, and fast forward quite a bit, and I remembered traveling up from Texas to drop my son for his time in the Americorps where he worked in the rugged wilderness of Utah for a time. A skip ahead brought memories of my daughter and her hubby married in the Salt Lake City Temple, and then a year later dropping my other son off for a two-year church mission. (That was a rough one as memories go…) 
Lots of memories and lots of years. But all of these things-past, brought me here today to my milestone birthday-present

Time  to  celebrate  the  here  and  now. 


My birthday dinner was at The Roof Restaurant overlooking Temple Square where my daughter and son-in-law were married. (It also happens to be the same building where we celebrated their marriage with a lovely luncheon reception.) 

With beautiful views of Temple Square, the surrounding mountains, downtown cityscape, and the Capitol building, it was a wonderful place to be. 

The pianist even played a jazzy version of Happy Birthday just for me! It was a bit awkward when the waitress showed up with crème brûlée and a lit candle-not because I felt shy, but because I was sitting there drooling over a plate of tiny desserts, fork-at-the-ready that I’d already nabbed from the dessert buffet using my grandson as a decoy.



Oh well, eat, drink, be merry, and all that. I’m daily marching closer to the “all that” so I might as well enjoy it a bit. present

Being with my grands was the best gift I could have given myself, and a timely reminder to enjoy the dailies. And I did. Like sampling lots of little desserts on a plate. Picking wildflowers in a field. Blowing bubbles. Feeding the ducks and playing at the park. Bath time! The joy of boardgames, baking cookies, and watching cartoons. Going to the library and reading lots of books. Mud puddles and dancing. Jumping on an air mattress…(don’t try that one-just sayin’.)


Being yourself with no inhibitions. Trying new things. Like Mickey Mouse waffles and kid’s toothpaste. (Yuck-bubblegum flavor? not so much…) 

Or trying old things you forgot about…like blue cotton candy, fruit loops, and cheap blue box mac & cheese. 

I even had Kool-aid for the first time in a million years. (Ok-not quite a million, I’m not THAT old!) 

Turns out, although I was dreading it, getting older really is just a state of mind. And if it continues to go the way it’s been going, I think I might like year 55 best of all.


The year I learned that to be happy being “big” you actually have to think “small.” 

imageThat’s me having my cake and eating it too!


Queen_Minnie_BBSGrowing old is mandatory but growing up is optional.

~Walt Disney

Baby Boy’s-Got-Swag!

I’ve heard mothers say these words over and over again, “It is hard to find nice trendy clothing for baby boys”. I have all girls, so I never really had to search the stores for boys clothing, unless I was attending a baby shower for a little boy.  Now that I have a grandson, I do understand their concern.  Most of the stores stock jeans and t-shirts for boys and they don’t get any more creative than that, but after searching and searching, I’ve found that more and more stores are stepping up their game and stocking more trendy items for boys. H&M, J Crew, Old Navy, JC Penney, Gap Kids, TargetZara  and Walmart are just a few stores who have great items at good prices.

Even as a baby, we would search for items that were different to dress him in.


1st picture: Calvin Klein jacket from Burlington Coat Factory, shirt from Carters and boots from “Thrift world”

2nd picture:  Shirt from “Kid to Kid”, shorts from TJ Maxx, shoes from Old Navy


1st picture:  Outfit from Carters , shoes are his first Jordan’s from Foot locker

2nd picture:  shirt and vest from  JC Penney, shoes from Carters

We have always enjoyed dressing Mazin in fun trendy clothing and he loves the camera so we decided to shop his pictures around to a few modeling agencies to see if he would be a good fit for the baby modeling world. Low and behold, he was accepted by the “Clutts” agency in Dallas and has been featured in many clothing ads. He turns into a little professional when he’s on his photo shoots.



Although we do love to dress him in fun trendy clothing and shoes, he is not “dressed up” every day. He attends daycare daily so dressing comfortable is the name of the game during the week.


1st Picture:  Jacket from “Kid to Kid”, shirt and Jeans from H&M and new Addidas from Journeys

2nd picture:  Jean shirt from “Kid to Kid”, shirt and jeans from Old Navy, hat from H&M and tennis shoes from Zara

He does have to be “clean” when it comes to his church attire so that he can keep up with his “GP” who likes to wear bow ties and fedoras.


Suit from a facebook trading site, shoes from K&G Superstore and hat from Target


1st picture:  sweater and pants from “Kid to Kid”, bow tie and shoes from K&G Superstore and hat from Target

2nd picture:  Shirt from facebook trading site, shorts from Walmart, bot tie from “Kid to Kid” and shoes from “Wish” an online site


Shirt from H&M , bow tie from “Kid to Kid”, shorts from TJ Maxx and shoes from K&G Superstore

We do have fun trying new types of outfits on him, but we are aware that boys tend to get dirty easier than girls, because they like to play in the dirt and like to display their food on their clothing or on their head.  For this reason, we don’t always buy new clothing items and if we do, we try to save those for times when he won’t get as messy.


Both Outfits from H&M

We’ve learned that Mazin is a shoe guy.  He likes to wear his GP’s shoes and rearrange them in the closet.  He also likes to store his shoes in GP’s closet, so his mom has to check GP’s closet when his shoes are missing.


He not only likes to wear his tennis shoes, but he also likes sandals during the warm months. He can even tolerate the thong sandals with no problem.


Outfit from Old Navy


Shirt from Polo, shorts and shoes from Walmart


Shirt and shoes from Polo, shorts from Target

Boy’s shoes have evolved a lot over the years.  Tennis shoes are not the only shoes for boys.  There are bucks, sandals, loafers, and boots.  Mazin likes his cowboy boots that he got for his birthday.  He likes them so much that he puts them on with his pj’s after his bath at night.  He does have several pair of slippers, but there is something about those cowboy boots after a bath…..LOL


PJ’s from Walmart, boots from his “GP”

With consignment shops becoming a popular thing now-a-days, it makes it easier to find name brand items for less. One of the consignment shops we frequent in our neighborhood is “kid to kid”.  They carry a large selection of name brand clothing and shoes for kids. Other great online resources are Etsy,, Little Sprouts, and ThreadUP .


1st picture:  outfit from H&M, Jordans from Footlocker

2nd picture:  Outfit from Polo, Jordans from Footlocker

Your little one can also have “Swag” if you shop at the right places.  Whether you’re on a budget or have lots of extra to spend.  The sky is the limit, when it comes to shopping for little boys.

Resources:  H&M, J Crew, Old Navy, JC Penney, Gap Kids, TargetZara  and Walmart

Online Resources:  Etsy,, Little Sprouts, and ThreadUP .