Our Camp Grenada – Apologies to Mr. Sherman



Found sillies from the shoebox – I love rediscovering things I jotted down and tucked away . . . She was likely a pre-teen when I presented this one to her. It had no effect on the state of her room. Ever.

I may revise it for her and her husband.

My silly lyrics loosely based on what I remember of Camp Grenada by Alan Sherman – This version is lovingly dedicated to my daughter, my inspiration, my messy muse if you will. I dramatized things just a tad, but the premise of this little ditty is based on actual events, my husband and I are still in therapy, but things are getting better by the day.

I’ve actually had this tune stuck in my head since 1977 I believe, at least the tune to the first verse, I’m not certain if it even has any variation in tune between stanzas, all I know is it haunts me. It never leaves. It’s the fault of my sweet little troll sister. She sang it repeatedly from the age of five until just shy of her ninth birthday. I wonder if she even remembers the song.

This is your muddah,

and your fadahh,

we’re writing to ya,

our dear daughta,

we’d like to say that,

we really love ya,

but if you don’t clean your room we’re gonna holla.

We are standing,

in your room now,

things are movin,

and things are crawlin,

dad looks mad now,

I feel like bawlin,

if we’re not careful we could end up fallin.

There’s that new game that,

we just bought ya,

it’s in pieces

neath your fadahh.

It wasn’t his fault,

now just keep readin,

I’m pretty sure that I can stop the bleedin’

I see garbage,

he sees dishes,

we both wish that,

we had three wishes,

we would wish that,

things were cleaner,

or maybe we

could just be meaner.

Maybe we should,

get outta here now,

it’s getting dark and,

I feel fear now.

What if we can’t,

find our way out,

I don’t think that there’s a clear escape route.

Oh my dear daughta,

it’s getting hotta,

it’s been hours,

since we’ve had watta,

we are thirsty,

and we are hungry,

maybe there’s a snack under that laundry.

Your faddah’s searching,

beneath the pile,

it seems to go on,

for miles and miles.

I don’t see him,

and I don’t hear him,

oh I hope that he’s not suffacatin.

I’m going in now,

it’s been an hour,

I’ve got to find him,

he’ll need a shower.

When I reach him,

I will hold him,

I just hope and pray that he’s still breathin.

Oh dearest daughta,

things look real bad,

I hope we make it,

don’t be too sad,

if we’re unconscious,

when you find us,

just resuscitate me first and then your dad.

By the way dear,

you are grounded,

no matter how this,

letter sounded,

we would rather,

throw your junk away,

than look at this big mess for even one more day.

Sincerest of apologies to Mr. Sherman . . .

Crystal R. Cook

Dear Me . . .

Dear Me - The Qwiet Muse

Just to clarify ~ I’m not crazy. I don’t have split personalities, the one I have may be splintered just a little bit though. Truthfully, we all have many faces and facets that make up the entirety of who we are. Sometimes we disconnect from self, we may not even be aware we’ve neglected certain aspects of ourselves, but eventually it begins to manifest outwardly and when it does, people notice.

It may be some internal attempt at self-preservation, it may be our experiences in the moment are simply so overwhelming they overshadow parts of who we are. When his happens it can lead to depression, self-doubt, and a sense of emptiness in our lives. I’ve seen it happen to those around me, people dealing with illness, heavy work loads, and other life-changing events. I see it happen often with caregivers and parents. It’s happened to me.

Women seem particularly susceptible, especially mothers. We tend to forget we are more than just wives and mothers and the ten thousand other things we are expected to be. We are unique and complex individuals, there really is more to us than what the world sees, there is more to us than we can sometimes see as well.

We often push parts of ourselves to the deepest depths of our inner being, we become what we think everyone needs and expects us to be. That’s okay as long as we don’t forget to nourish the essence of who we are. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves we are important too.

When my kids were still little ones, I went through a period of loss. Loss of self. My life was a whirlwind of schools, doctors, therapists, and medication. I had four young children, two with developmental disabilities, a husband frequently away in service of his country, and a recent diabetes diagnosis. I lost myself in the mayhem.

In a rare and quiet moment the weight of it all bore down on me and I knew I had to do something or I wouldn’t have the strength or the will to continue. I hadn’t picked up a pen to write much more than grocery lists and schedules to keep for a long while, that night I decided to dust off my journal and try to make sense of it all.

What I ended up penning to the page seemed odd, and to be honest, I thought at the time, stupid. I closed my journal feeling no better than I had when I’d opened it. The next day though, I felt stronger. I took little breaks throughout the day to sit and read, to simply sit in thought. I felt a sense of peace. The rest of the week I felt lighter, I enjoyed my days a little more.

I’d forgotten about my journal entry until I decided to write something about a month later, I was surprised at what I found. I didn’t recall writing the words I was reading. I’d penned a letter to myself. It was the first of many . . .

Hello there my old friend. It’s been so long since we’ve had a moment to talk. I just thought I would check in with you and see if you’re okay. Are you? I only ask because you’ve been so distanced from me lately. Remember the hours we used to spend together in thought or in silent prayer? Have you forgotten how wonderful it was, sitting back in the sun, reading and resting?

I miss the quiet moments we used to spend together. I miss hearing your laughter. Do you laugh anymore? Tears seem to have replaced that twinkle in your eyes and that saddens me. I wish I could help. I am trying, do you even hear me? I know you must, you simply have to. If we could just reconnect I know it would ease your troubled heart.

I can feel your loneliness, it is mine as well. There’s no need to be lonely, I am still here. My presence seems to be crowded and nearly lost by all of the pressures and pains you’re feeling. I know the responsibilities you have are great, but what happened to the time you used to make for us . . . for you, the time used to rejuvenate your soul and refresh your mind and spirit?

You cannot keep going without checking in with me every now and then you know. You need me and I need you. What would we be without one another? I shudder at the thought of it. I know right now you feel you do not have time for me, but I think if you tried you would find you really do.

I’m not asking for days or even hours, just a few stolen moments every once in a while. We could read a chapter or two in an old book or step outside and let the cool winters breeze give us goosebump kisses. We could sip a cup of tea and write poetry and breathe.

Please think it over, I know you will feel better once we have been in each other’s company for a spell. I will be here for you when you’re ready, just as I always am. I do hope you will squeeze me in soon. I’m afraid if you do not I will lose you forever. What would become of me? What would become of you?

I whispered a prayer for us. I look forward to spending some time with you soon. Sooner than later I hope.

I miss you and I love you . . .

Sincerely yours.

A little part of you.

Crystal R. Cook

Reality Check

Going through the shoeboxes again . . . I distinctly remember the day I wrote this. I was tired. So, so, very tired. The week had been a whirlwind of medical appointments, two IEP meetings, my husband was out of town, my blood sugars were high, and my energy was low.

Autism was in charge and it’s sidekick Bipolar was running amuck. I was outnumbered and out of my mind – Thankfully, a little reality check pulled me back.

Seems like only yesterday sometimes

Seems like only yesterday sometimes

I remember reading something once about about people with unsinkable souls, I believe I am an unsinkable soul. I simply must be. If I weren’t, I certainly would have drowned in whatever sea of muck souls sometimes sink into long ago. I’ve felt myself being pulled under a few times, but I always manage to pull myself up for air. Sometimes, I even manage to find dry land.

I recall one particular night when my toes were just about to reach the bottom of this proverbial, soul-sinking pit, and I was ready to throw in the towel, search out a nice little cave and see if it was possible for a human to hibernate. Ultimately, I decided it sounded like too much work and made one last attempt to free my sinking soul from the murky depths by reaching for my pen.

Miraculously, I managed to pull myself up and I began to write. I was going to pour my heart out on the page. It was going to be a gloomy piece, a somber and sad work of words. It’s often said writing is a healing art. I’ve never doubted it to be anything but true, but I may have taken it for granted now and then.

On this night, as my tears fell to the yellow pad beneath my hand, transforming my words into water-color patches of blue, I was reminded of the awesome power writing holds. I did not pen a masterpiece that night. I did not create an epic tapestry of words that would go down in poetic history. It was not my best writing, nor was it the worst.

It was also not what I thought it would be when I began. It turned out to be something that dried my tears, made my husband laugh, and my children smile. Writing is a healing art.

Peace and quiet . . . Solitude and rest,
someone else to cook the meals, someone else to clean this mess.
Someone else to do the laundry and mediate the fights,
someone else to sweep and dust and get up and down all night.

Oh, for just one day, I need a little break,
I need someone to give, instead of take, take, take.
Let me have a little nap, for just an hour or two,
a rejuvenating rest sounds like a wonderful thing to do.

I’d love to take a shower till the hot water is all gone,
I simply can’t imagine staying in there for that long.
I could actually take the time, to shave my legs tonight,
and I’d love to go to bed sometime before midnight.

I could paint my nails or polish up my toes,
I could curl up on the couch and catch up on some shows.
I could read a book and maybe have a cup of tea.
I’m not trying to be selfish, I just need some time for me.


The kids say they are starving, they are on the brink of death,
you can’t make it down the hall unless you watch your step.
The dryer keeps on buzzing and someone just got punched,
I don’t think I’ll get to take that nap, but that is just a hunch.

I’m sure I’ll get to shower, sometime late tonight,
when the kids have given in to the sleep they like to fight.
The hot water will be gone between dear hubby and the dishes,
so I’ll keep that dream close to heart with all my other wishes

Maybe I’ll just shave my legs tomorrow or the next,
I’ll wait for a new razor, I think this one has been hexed.
Most my nails are broken so I’ll pass on that one too
the other stuff sounds nice, but I’ve got too many things to do.

Like drop from sheer exhaustion and drift off to sleep and dream,
of perfect little children and a house that’s always clean.


The morning sun has risen, a new day lay ahead,
and there’s a morning snuggle bug curled up in my bed.
I wrap my arms around him and hold him near my heart
I cannot think of a better way for a brand new day to start.

I really can’t imagine someone else to take my place,
and chance missing a precious little smile on a dirty little face.
The housework’s not that bad, not compared to other things,
like the joy and love and laughter having a family brings.

Crystal R. Cook

Rainbow in the Dryer -or- The Sock Queen

Another shoebox classic . . .

Guess what a blue crayon, a pink crayon and a green crayon make in the wash . . . a rainbow in the dryer. Normally, I am a quite fond of rainbows, but for some odd reason I found no beauty in the brilliant colors splashed across my last good shirt, my socks and every other wearable article of clothing I owned.

As I began pulling my ruined wardrobe from the dryer I spotted them, a little yellow (blue and pink and green) pair of shorts which more than obviously did not belong to me, so in my loudest, meanest mommy voice I shrieked for their owner. She appeared in the doorway with a look of fear and feigned innocence in her eyes.

After a few renditions of “It wasn’t me!” and “I haven’t even used crayons in years.” I pulled the paper wrapper from a blue crayon out of the pocket of her little yellow (blue pink and green) shorts. “Oops, I guess I forgot I put them there.” was her only reply. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk or brightly colored melted wax. What was done was done. I tossed around the idea of tye-dying all of our clothes in case it ever happened again but decided it would be best to just check pockets a little better from that point on.

The laundry room is my least favorite place in the house aside from the kitchen, the kid’s rooms and their bathroom. I just know someday I’m going to go in and never make it out. I suppose it’s my own fault for letting the kids wear clean clothing day after day.

imageWhen I was a little girl I dreamed of becoming an archeologist, of traveling to far off lands and uncovering buried artifacts from days long since past. In some small way my dream has been realized. However, instead of some distant shore on the other side of the earth it’s the cold garage in the back of the house and instead of discovering long lost treasures I simply find LEGOs and coins and candy wrappers . . . and unfortunately the occasional crayon.

I keep a large flower vase on the shelf above the dryer. I use it as a collection bin for all the little trinkets that find their way into the laundry room by way of un-emptied pockets. Someday it will serve as a memory jar for them. I will present it to the first one who complains their dryer has become a rock tumbler at the hands of the precious grandchildren I may one day be blessed with.

I have another jar up there for found money. I never give it back or inquire as to whose it may be. Most of it is their hard earned, as little as I can get away with allowance money which I simply use to pay their following weeks allowance with. I rarely have to dip into my own pockets to pay their weekly bribe money, they practically pay themselves!

Another aspect of laundry I despise, perhaps most of all, is socks. Don’t get me wrong. I love the warmth they give on a winter’s day and the comfort they provide in my favorite pair of tennis shoes, but when it comes to their care and maintenance I shudder at the thought of them.

First, there is getting them into the washer to be laundered. Sounds easy enough right? Well, it’s not. At least two of my boys take the foul things off in such a way they are rolled into little balls or donut shaped rings. I need a gas mask and a haz-mat suit just to straighten them out. Once they are in the washer, no problem. Throw them in the dryer, piece of cake. Taking them out is where the trouble begins.

I have only myself to blame truthfully. I have a sock basket. It is a tradition passed down from one generation to the next in my family. The idea is to have a small basket next to the dryer to place the clean socks in while you fold the rest of the laundry. Seems like a great idea except I never quite got the hang of it, I have a rather large sock basket. Okay, it’s a full size hamper, but with six pairs of feet in the house there are a lot of socks. My problem is I leave them in the basket until every last sock in the house has been dirtied, cleaned and deposited there. When that happens, I become The Matchmaker . . .

They assemble before me each week, huddled together in anticipation for they know by day’s end their solitary existence will be over. I carefully sort through them to find each one its perfect mate. Sadly though, every now and then, there a few I simply cannot pair up and they must return to the basket alone. The sad soles. When my task is complete I take the newly matched socks to the various closets and drawers they will call home. I wish them well and bid them adieu. Unfortunately, they never stay together long. They always come back alone, waiting for me to find them another perfect mate.

I’m one day going to come out with my own line of children’s clothing. I will specialize in socks. They will have brown soles made from the finest of stain resistant materials, no toes will ever peek through and no heels will ever wear thin. They will be crafted in such a way they cannot be taken off inside out and they will remain together in every wash, guaranteed.

I will be known as the Sock Queen and mothers all around the world will adore me. Come to think of it, there may be an offshoot for children’s underwear along these lines as well . . . School uniforms with a mustard, ketchup and playground dirt motif. I may just end up famous after all.

I suppose for now though I will gather together my supplies and trek off into the laundry room. Who knows what wonders I will uncover on my expedition.

Old (made up) Proverb – Women who sort laundry by color have too much time on hands.

Crystal R. Cook aka The Sock Queen

Gather them.


Today became yesterday
before I knew it had passed,
I pray my sweet memories
of each moment will last.
When tomorrow arrives
I will cherish the day,
for I know that it too
will pass quickly away.
In the midst of a moment
precious memories are made,
we wrap them in love,
in hopes they won’t fade.
We gather them up,
tuck them safely away,
inside of our hearts
to look back on someday.

Crystal R. Cook

I remember writing this years ago, I recall just how I felt in the moment. I’d had a moment of heartbreaking realization, time is fleeting. I could not believe how fast my children had grown. They were still babies really, some days it feels like it was only yesterday.

Time really is fleeting.

On our way!

Shoebox poem . . . Ya know something? I kind of miss these days every now and then.


I was on my way
with children in tow
when all of a sudden
I heard something blow.

A diaper exploded,
and that big poopy mess
started making me gag
I hate to confess.

We were wiped up and powdered
and again on our way
when screams rang out,
“Oh, what now?” I begrudgingly say.

“He touched me again.”
was my sons reply
and his eyes welled up
for his crocodile cry.

“Get over it” I said,
“don’t touch him again.”
“I didn’t do it!”
“You know it was him!”

“That is enough!”
I commandingly yell,
we are gonna be late,
what on earth is that smell?

Oh no, not again,
how can this be,
why can’t this baby
ever just pee?

Again wiped and powdered
and now in the car,
I couldn’t believe
we’d gotten that far,

but where was my purse?
Wouldn’t ya know,
right on the table
will we ever just go?

Purse in hand
and kids all buckled,
I did it at last
I think with a chuckle,

“Okay troops,
we are ready to go!”
Hey . . . where are the keys?
Does anyone know?

Crystal R. Cook ~ circa sometime around ’98



Shoebox Memory on a Post-It

So my son licked a bar of soap. I know, kids do weird things, it’s to be expected I suppose. He immediately began rubbing his tongue on his shirt and proceeded to lap up water from the faucet like you would from a garden hose.

His younger brother, who by the way has never licked soap, asked him why on earth he would ever want to do such a strange thing.

His reply, which he seemed to think should be sufficient to leave any lingering curiosities  quelled was this –

“I had questions, I needed answers.”

I see. Carry on. The boy needed answers.

Oh, did I mention he is 16? Yeah . . . There’s that.


He is now 22 . . . Yesterday he placed his hand on the ceramic burner to see if it was hot. Again. I guarantee it will not be the last time he does so.