Is There Soccer In Heaven?

Happy Saturday!

I just got home  from sweating my caboose off at my grandson’s soccer game. I remember going to every soccer game for both of my sons.  That turned out to be 13 years for one son and 11 for the other. I have sat in sweat, rain, wind, and frost. I have shouted “good job” or “move in! Move in!” more times than Bayer has aspirin. It has been a great run. And I love that I now have my oldest grandson (7) and someday his little brother (2) and maybe even their little sister or brother (2/18) to go and watch and yell “Move In!”

I wonder if they have soccer games in heaven.

And if they do, I wonder if it’s a perfect 65 degrees with a slight breeze from the south when I sit facing north, or a westerly wind when I’m watching the game from the east. I wonder if they’ll have cushioned seats instead of the sack chairs I’ve carried for the past 20 years.

Since time would be irrelevant in heaven, I’d be able to watch my sons and grandsons and great grandsons kick the ball back and forth over and over and over again. I could move from one soccer game to the next, no one ever getting tired, no one getting sunburn, no one getting soaked from the torrential downpour that started at kick off.

The fields would be enormous — large enough so that my ever-expanding family could picnic and play volleyball and drink  Piña Coladas without getting drunk. Each family member’s game would be at their own special separate time — no running from field to field to catch parts of each kid’s game.

In heaven I wouldn’t be chubby, giving in to sweating in all the wrong places as I cheer my grandkids and kids and great grandkids on. I’d be tall and thin and my flowing shift would match the kid’s uniforms. There would be more than enough treats and drinks for each team, everyone getting their favorite juice box and granola bar or Capri bag and bag of Cheetos. No arguing. No pouting.

If there are soccer games in heaven, there will be a balance of winners and losers. Except in heaven, there really is no losing, is there? There would be no obnoxious parents telling the ref he’s blind, no cheap shots at the goalie, no broken ankles or concussions from being t-boned on the field. No one will feel like a loser, because in heaven everybody is equal and happy and good natured.

Now there may be a question about which of your kids’ age groups you want to watch. I mean, I watched my youngest from kindergarten through high school. He was amazing all 13 years.  I watched my oldest almost as long. Do I want to watch my grandson at age 7 (now) or when he’s 10 or 15? I figure God will have figured that out by the time I get there. I mean, She’s/He’s omnipotent and all. And in heaven everything is possible.

My only dilemna is….what if 2/18 wants to play football?

Granny the Enabler

th-1Did you survive?

Did you eat too much? Drink too much? Get up too early to shop on Black Friday?

I did two of the three — and survived.

I admit my feet gave up before the second store…maybe I should have stopped and bought shoes, too. Actually, the crowds weren’t too bad. Yet I fear I was one of those shoppers everyone else hates to be around.

I let my 1.4 year old grandson run around the store.

What’s wrong with me?

My husband always calls me the enabler. He’s probably right. I’m the one who ventures forth where no one has gone lately. Grandbaby was crabby. Who wants to sit in a shopping cart when everyone around you is running around filling theirs? There are so many pretty sparkles up and down every aisle — surely there’s no harm in letting baby go check out a few while mom and dad slip away a couple of aisles down.

Enabler.

So here I go, toddling after the toddler, pulling him away from one thing, tempting him with the next. It’s amazing what interests a toddler.

The tags than hang under the merchandise, boxes that were way too big to pick up, emoji pillows, dog pull toys, duck tape, all were temptations the babe couldn’t resist. Nor could I pull him away from. After a few dramatic stretches on the floor, mom or dad would come back and place him gently in the cart or in the carrier.

Enabler Bad Granny.

Grandbaby was pitching a fit at Taco Bell for breakfast…wet diaper, hungry tummy. Nothing would satisfy the moment. So Granny gave him a few sips of her Pepsi through the straw. No sugar or caffeine for grandbaby.

Enabler Bad Granny.

What’s my problem? Am I that out of control?

Maybe it’s the holidays. Maybe it’s my second childhood. Maybe it’s my own kids all over again. What Grandparent says no? I mean, I do draw the line with dangerous things, with car seats and baby gates and no peanuts and diaper rash. I never endanger my kids, my grandkids.

Having said that, what’s wrong with a little exploration through the jogging pants at Kohls? What’s a sip of Pepsi here or french fry there? Life is full of sneak peeks. Of chocolate before bed and staying up to watch movies when the parents aren’t around. What’s wrong with playing soldiers with a 6 year old or dancing in the rain, getting all wet and silly?

Grandparents are supposed to do these kinds of things. The kind of things that parents smile and shake their head about. These are the treats, the perks, the golden magic between two generations that has skipped the one in the middle. It is the secret space that all grandparents hide in with their grandkids. The private tricks they play on all-knowing parents.

My inlaws did it to us: my kids were taken on more trips to Kiddyland, more staying up lates, more homemade cookie baking and animal farms than I ever thought about. At the time I was a little miffed; why were my kids’ grandparents trying to steal the show?

Now older, hopefully wiser, I see what really went on. I didn’t have grandparents to spoil me; my husband did. And my husband’s love for his grandma and grandpa is something he still talks about today.

So it is with my kids; hopefully it will be so with theirs. I hope when I am long gone I will be the star in the stories my grandkids tell again and again.

Granny. THE enabler.

 

Reflections on the Beach

SandPail_2Perspective. It’s what makes all the difference in life, doesn’t it?

Looking up through the trees at the sky looks different than looking across the trees at the sky. Glasses half empty or half full. All that falderal.

Like life at the beach.

This afternoon I was sitting at a picnic table at a small beach at a small lake in a small town. I’d finished my part of the water ballet, letting my grandson and his grandpa finish the ballet water-splash style.

The world went on as it always has…it’s just that this time I was sitting on the other side of the table. Watching the world as an observer instead of a participant.

It’s pretty busy for a small beach. Little kids manage to hit the excited scream level a lot of the time – whether it was laughing, fighting with siblings, or crying. I wonder if the sound bounces off the water a lot harder these days.

Women chat while their kids jump off the pier. Cathy was still going out with the louse from the next town, Handy’s had the best fish fry this side of the Mississippi. Jim was always working overtime and spending his spare hours at the golf course, and Neighbor Grocery’s produce had gone down in quality the last few years. I myself have always loved the ebb and flow of people talking when they don’t think others are listening. Voices always float through the air, bits and pieces getting caught in the sack chair or wrapped around the picnic bench so that all you catch is a sentence’s jagged inference. Maybe the louse from the next town is a dentist, maybe he’s a mechanic. All that could be grasped was the audacity of the woman sharing her thoughts.

Love games still abound at the beach, too. The cute little high schooler, long legs, short shorts, long dark hair wrapping around her shoulders; and the tall, lanky guy, not really a jock but not bad looking. She sways back and forth, hands behind her back, playing the coy card. He leans forward, saying something a little risque, and they both laugh, she turning slightly away. He threatens to throw her in the water; she squeals “no no!” in her loveliest girly voice. He grabs her towel (or hat or sunscreen), hides it behind his back, and she giggles, trying to get it back from him.

A lovely Lolita-ish girl walks down the pier, her tanned body barely covered by her flowered bikini. A young thing, maybe late high school, maybe a tad older, walking down to the end of the pier, blonde hair blazing in the sun, where she stops, and I imagine, sighs dramatically. There’s no sunset to dream upon yet; no cat calls from the audience, no college scholarship with her name on it. But there’s something sexy and dramatic about the sad, curvy side of youth.

Kids are always kids. One skinny 5-year-old desperately tries to gain the attention of two older 8-year-old girls, his arms flaying in the air, his swim goggles making him look like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. My insecurities make me uncomfortable. He doesn’t feel anything of the kind. He drifts off to look for fish in the shallow water, the girls never knowing he was there.

Three boys, all but four years old, compete with each other as Superman jumping off the deck into the shallow water. Bigger boys come by and laugh, some jump in and splash the little ones aside, making waves, being even cooler than the little kids. The little kids are too young to care; the middle schoolers get an ego boost by bullying those half their age.

It’s a cornucopia at this little beach on this little lake in this little town. I fancy nothing has changed in all the years moms have been bringing their kids to swim and high schoolers have come to make out and flirt and make plans for Saturday night. Not even me.

I still think of the time I never spent at the beach, never flirting with the kinda cute guy on the pier, never  dreaming dreams only cute girls can dream.

 

 

 

 

My Obligatory Kids and Kittens Blog

They say posts with kids and kittens get the most responses.

That’s because it’s easier to smile at laugh and kids and kittens when you’re not directly responsible for them.

I adore my grandkids. What grandparent doesn’t feel the same towards theirs? Yet mine exhaust me to the point of see-ya-later-maybe-much-later. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, yet it does create a guilt trip in this bubble mind of mine.

I have been blessed in ways others have not. My GKs have always lived within an hour’s drive. I still talk to my son (although I sometimes think he think’s I AM the bubble head queen), and I love my daughter-in-law. It’s a win/win thing.

Yet when I get the kids overnight it’s like I’ve never moved or babysat in my life.

One is almost 6, and wants to run around outside, which is the best thing in the world for him. But he wants to cut vegetables, saw wood, drive the tractor, dig with the shovel — things way above his talent (and height). My husband encourages Mr. Little Farmer (it’s not a farm but we all call it that)  in other directions (often with adult supervision), yet lets him sit on his lap in the tractor driver’s seat and drive down our long country driveway.

Yikes.

The baby, 8 months old, can’t tell me if he prefers cereal or puffs or spaghetti or a bottle. So I give them all to him between his crawling adventures. He’s no longer in the “hold me on your lap” phase — he’s more into the “put me on the floor!” state of demand. Off he goes, crawling over the dog, the cat, picking up weird things that hide under the chairs…crabbing one minute, laughing the next.

Somehow I don’t remember my kids being this pumped up.

Of course, that was 30 years ago. I was 30 years younger. (Ack!! Don’t say that!) My view of the world and my place in it, was much different. Back then I thought I could make a difference. That I could have it all — great job, great kids, a house out of Architectural Digest — all the things that motivate young people to work hard and study hard.

Now, at the age of 60+, I’m in the job I’m going to be in for the long run, and Wall Street it isn’t. Nor is my house the ones dreams are made of. Nor is my beat up 2005 Sable or 2004 KIA van. I have succeeded with the great kid part, but I am still learning to let them live their own lives, too.

My energy level has wandered away down some long forgotten path, too. I’m working on finding that path again — I figured if I want to live long enough to see my GKs get married, I’d better start walking those paths again soon.

Babysitting the kids fits that bill of exercise, too. Not wanting to look like the old, falling apart granny, I do my best to climb the hills, dig the holes, and ride the bikes. That, too, I believe, keeps the Reaper away.

But dang, kids — my pace and yours is not nor ever will be the same.

Maybe that’s a good thing — after all, if I had all that energy, what would be left for my own kids have to do?

Saturday Morning TV…If You Dare…

Poltergeist-movieHave you watched Saturday morning TV lately?
In a while?
Ever?

Saturday morning television (and, I’m sure, Sunday through Friday too), is not quite what it used to be in the olden days. Since my grandkids have lived with me, I’ve seen weird talking sponges, bunnies and squirrels using cell phones, human families with wild superpowers, princesses and pirates, and idiotic starfish, to name a few.

Now, I don’t expect it to be much like when I was a kid. With the ease of computers, poppy music, and an overabundance of adorable, obnoxious, little kid actors and actresses, it’s not hard to put together a half hour of babble. There is money to be made in morning TV land, and somewhere there must be a study that says to sell to kids you must be loud, colorful, hip, and overbearing.  It is a sugar-filled, rude, sassy, whirlwind trip through psychedelics and jammin’ music, fast talk, and junk food.

And it’s sooooo grating on my nerves.

I suppose commercials were obnoxious to my parents’ ears, too. Things like AlphaBets and Cabbage Patch Kids must have sounded like tires squealing across the parking lot to them. And I imagine I was taken in by slick commercials and TV shows, too. But today’s kids need louder and bolder to catch their attention. It seems like they are pounding out cute funny kids and dumb parents, and cute obnoxious kids and dumb grandparents, and slick beautiful kids and even dumber parents. Poor oldsters still don’t get credit for being able to breathe, no less save the world.

According to a recent article in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/10/donna-stevens-kids-watching-tv_n_7544888.html), Australian-born photographer Donna Stevens says, “The images (photographs she took) capture the children not as the curious budding humans we hope them to be, but comatose zombies, cast in the alien glow of artificial light.”

A lot of attention is paid to how hip and sparkly girls are, their skirts up to the ying yang in middle school, countered smartly with a pair of tights that are supposed to make the shorties okay; vests and hats and bling and sparkled eyes and oversized glasses that make a little kid even more “adorable”. There is always a “lesson” in the half hour variety shows, so their obnoxiousness (or adorableness) makes their antics okay.

Herein lies the problem: the lessons are given by kids who are thin and adorable (with an occasional chubby kid thrown in), sparkling and sassy. Quite the opposite of those who are watching.

Most of the kids I know are somewhere in the awkward, insecure, and gawky stage. That’s part of being a kid. They want to fit in. Eventually they do, yet some do, some don’t. And from these mindless television shows comes more pressure to be cool, fun, smart, and well-dressed.  A lot of kids can’t draw the line between “pretend” cool TV characters and their own life.  And that’s where I see trouble lurking.

I’m not saying that the trying state of childhood is based in artificial worlds created on TV and in the movies. Far from it. Television is a place where dreams form; a place for information, for adventure, and entertainment.  It’s a world separate from our own. A world we visit, but, for all practical purposes, do not stay. Kids’ worlds are made of parents, siblings, soccer and singing, school and swimming. Life is formed from all experiences combined.

But I just wonder what is accomplished by loud, colorful, hip commercials aimed at the young and impressionable? To someone who doesn’t have outside activities or a family life to get involved with?

Of course, this blog is written by an oldster, in of herself quite removed from the innocence of childhood. A lady who prefers sitting on the deck watching the branches bend in the breeze. A granny who has always stood at the edge of popularity in all its rainbow forms, yet has never quite crossed over the line.

Maybe I just need some Fruity Pebbles to make my life complete…

 

 

Ahhhhhhhhh….

baby-flash-games9How quickly we forget — how quickly we remember.

I live in a small town in Wisconsin; a town filled with college students, farmers, business people, teachers — and kids.

Lots of kids.

Last night was a fund raiser at Culvers (Yeah Culvers!) for one of the grade schools. So like a good granny, I trudged along with my kids and grandkids to have a Butter Burger and some cheese curds. Oh — and some overly-sweet custard. As you can imagine, the place was packed with kids. Lots and lots of giggly, loud-talking, visiting-friends-at-other-tables kids. Pity the older couples who picked last night to eat out.

Years ago I would have been quite taken with all the rumpus. BG (before grandkids), the world was quiet. Quiet job. Quiet house. Quiet hobbies. But then life reanimated itself in guise of a grandkid. And it hasn’t been the same since.

Waiting for our food to be delivered by one of several guest gradeschool servers, I just sat and watched the dynamics around me. Mothers in ponytails and sweatshirts, dads in ball caps. Kids sharing food, laughing, talking to siblings and friends at other tables, junior servers walking around and around looking for number 50 or 37, some with trays bigger than they were. I was “introduced” to Hayden (who didn’t have a clue what to say…even to my grandson), and other kids who told me their life story of the day.

Some college kids took the corner table; they were as polite to the little servers as they took their cold burgers and chicken strips. Moms toddled behind those too small to serve alone; we all laughed and smiled and helped out when we could.

It was loud and chaotic and it didn’t bother me a bit.  I realized I’d rather be a part of the madness than stand outside looking in at it. That the point of life is to get involved in circles bigger than my own now and then. And not to care. To go with the flow.

As we get older we tend to spend too much time by ourselves. Now, sometimes that’s good. An evening, a weekend alone, brings peace and quiet and does wonders for the psyche. But isolation as a substitute for personal time, even with a full time job, is dangerous. The more time you spend alone, the more time you want to be alone. The more segregated you get. From society, from friends, from family. You have no one to bounce ideas of off, to complain to, to dream with. No one else to complain to.

And pretty soon you are left with only your own thoughts, your own opinions, which slowly whither into shadows, as you care less and less about what’s going on around you.

Going out to the madness of Culvers wasn’t necessary what my psyche needed after a long, tiring day at work. But going out to eat, watching families do family things and couples do couple things lightened up my spirit. The madness didn’t bother me because I didn’t have to take it home with me. Like a voyeur, I could participate for a little bit, then leave the kindergartners and their siblings behind.

I’m not encouraging you to spend hours in the middle of a group of kids or shoppers or football fans. Find a way to weasel your way into the party, get your chaos fix, then move on. Maybe it’s shopping the day after Thanksgiving. A live concert. A high school or college football game. Even a bowling tournament. Watch the people. Laugh at the people. Be one with the people. Just enough to get your adrenaline going and your reactions moving. Then go home to your quiet abode and feel good about being a part of something bigger than you.

Life is too short not to take part in the madness. For that too shall pass, along with the chance of getting one more song in, one more school play, one more tailgate party.

And nothing is better after spending a few hours with children than going home, sitting in your favorite comfy chair, taking your shoes off, and going, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Silence.”

Did You Know You Spoke Chinese?

I have a grandson who is starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks. Ahhh…innocence floating out the window. No, not him — me. Or rather his mom. Brings to mind a blog I wrote back in October of 2011. Think it still rings true.

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

The teen years are stressful for those going through them. Puberty comes crashing in any time between the ages of 12 and 16, estrogen and testosterone fighting for space inside a body that is growing in too many directions at one time.  But hey. What about the ones on the other side of those swings? Those who pay for hot lunches and gym shoes and nail polish?  Not only do we have to put up with I-pods and cell phones, but we have to learn to speak a whole new language in order to be understood.  It is as if we have stepped over the threshold of reality into an entirely new universe.

Life seemed so much simpler when our kids were toddlers. The years between two and, say, five, are probably the most rewarding for all forms of parental figures.  We can do no wrong; our children hang on our every word.  They fear and revere us. They bounce around from moment to moment wanting only to please those in charge.  Pick up your toys?  Of course! Eat your spaghetti?  Of course!  Clean your room?  Of course! We speak, they listen, and things are ideal.

Then comes those “cute” years, say, six through nine.  Everything they do and say is cute, especially when they pout and say “no” with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  Pick up your toys?  No! I wanna play with ‘em a little longer.  Eat your spaghetti?  No! I want pizza instead.  Clean your room?  No!  I gotta have twenty dolls in the corner!  They are starting to catch on to the power of being an individual.  They still brush their teeth and do their homework and go to bed pretty much on time, but they learn to manipulate the world by talking or playing or whining, probably all three.

By the time middle school comes around, there is a slight Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-ish personality starting to surface. Football games and study nights with friends start to take on a bit more significance as our middle schoolers begin to feel the strength of their own convictions.  Pick up your toys?  Oh please, I don’t play with ‘toys’ anymore.  Eat your spaghetti.  Red sauce? I’d rather have cheese.  Clean your room.  Oh mommy dear and/daddy dear — it is clean!  A little clip in their voice should be the giveaway that they are catching on to you.

Just when you think you have settled the beast that rustles inside your child, their high school days hit you right between the eyes. Music becomes some thundering beat with  talking rather than singing; wearing jeans that cut low enough to show off underwear or vertical fissures becomes the fashion statement of the day. Homework becomes an enigma.  School semesters are identified by fall, winter and spring sports, and words like Paris and Pink suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

You wake up one morning sprouting antennae from your head. Your voice becomes a booming echo down an empty tunnel or a high-pitched squeak riding the airwaves.  Suddenly you speak a foreign language: ρτε τα παιχνίδια σας  (pick up your toys in Greek);  съешьте ваше спагеттио (eat your spaghetti in Russian), and 投入您的衣裳去, (Chinese for clean your room). Their eyes become glazed and their expression reminds you of eating a lemon.  One day you are a friendly, loving parent, the next moment you are Godzilla’s cousin.  You don’t know what you are talking about ― your ideas or so old-fashioned they will be amazed if you make it to 50.

How did this happen?  How did we fall off of our pedestal?  One moment our child is reaching up to be held, the next moment they cringe if you hug them in public.  Is this the reward for all of our hard work?  All our love?

Well, trust me.  This too will pass.  As your children approach their twenties, they are amazed at how smart you’ve suddenly become.  Your old-fashioned ideas transform into newly discovered truths of their generation.  The older they get, the more human you become.  Your antennae suddenly don’t seem so out-of-place; as a matter of fact, they kinda look cute on your old frame.  You find a common ground through life and all its ups and downs, and they finally understand what you’ve been saying all these years.  Words and ideas flow once again, and your pedestal gets packed away somewhere deep in their heart, only to be pulled out when you are not looking.

Either that — or you have finally learned to speak Chinese.

8 (more) Granny Rules

CAM00835 (2)I want to start this off by saying how lucky — and I mean lucky — I am to have my oldest son, his pregnant wife, and my 4-year-old grandbaby living with us for a few months. I will never have this opportunity again, so I don’t want to blow it.

Having said that, I have found that when family stays with you (even if it’s for a week or two), the rules as a Granny change. I find I’m not as freebird-ish as I want to be. I have learned that, much to MY chagrin, you have to be respectful of the parents’ wishes, thoughts, and actions.

So for you other present or future grannies and grandpas, here are some rules you should think about.

1.  Bed Time is Bed Time.

Oh, you may be able to squeeze an extra hour out on the weekends, but during the week, there is no watching TV in bed with Granny while eating an ice cream bar or jumping on the bed with the dogs. They need to calm down before sleep time. (So do you!)

2. Bed Time Snacks Are Different.

No more chips and soda before bed; no more cheese sticks and slices of salami, no more Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch cocktails. Pull that apple out from the back of the frig shelf, or pour a bowl of cereal. Act responsible. (Leave the ice cream bars for before YOU go to bed..)

3.  Ask your Mom/Dad

My grandson used to come over and get just about anything he wanted any time he wanted. Now that he’s under closer supervision, I can’t sneak him string cheese or pretzels and peanut butter  instead of dinner. I find myself saying, “Ask your Mother.” I feel like I’m shirking my Granny duties, but it’s better if the stomach aches come from them, not me.

4.  Kids and Pets

I tend to yell at my 3 stupid dogs a lot. I now have to clean up my language and not sound like a truck driver every time the dog pees or poops inside or wraps the leash around my ankle. My grandbaby adds to the furor by picking up my cats around the neck and parading around with them. When the cats have finally had enough, he takes it personally and starts to antagonize them. My language AND my reprimands are a little stronger now days. Not the Granny Way.

5.  Play Age-Approriate Games

Teaching a grandbaby how to use an axe to cut the string on firewood or mowing the lawn with a riding tractor (although grandpa rode on the tractor too) is not what a mother wants to hear. I am always honest with her — much to HER chagrin. While riding down the little hill on a Big Wheels looks as scary as a runaway train, a vigilant grandparent will be there every step of the way. Trust me — past times like coloring and playing with cars don’t hold a candle to a big squirt gun fight.

6.  Give your kids and grandkids space.

It’s fairly easy to trip over each other in one household. Fortunately my husband is gone in the evening and I’m gone during the day, so our 25 minutes of shared daylight doesn’t get in anyone’s way. But once grandpa is gone and I’m home alone with everybody, I tend to start feeling like a sticky note. I believe that evening times are Dad and Mom times, with a little Granny sprinkled in now and then for color. I usually wind up going into my room and writing/watch TV/fold laundry anyway, giving them plenty of time to cuddle as a threesome and talk about me if they want.

7.  No Hands.

And who better to teach a 4-year-old no hands on the roller coaster? Momma and I get sick just looking at them; then there’s Grandpa. And Dad. But Grandpa is the Instigator who looks fear in the eye and laughs at it. (He has a great laugh). If trying something off-center, try and pull one of the parents into it. It’s easier in the long run.

8.  Be honest.

Grannies are always honest…it just doesn’t always seem like it. Most times we are relegated to seeing our grandkids every other weekend, or, sadly, every month or every year. We have to make the most of our time together; after all, we don’t want our grandkids to forget about us once we’re gone. That’s why I tell my grandbaby (and my kids, but to a lesser degree), how much I love them, how much I miss them when they’re gone, how much I can’t wait to see them the next time. We plan things that might not come to fruition, but it’s the fun and love in planning that makes the difference.  I wear my love on my sleeve. And don’t regret the shredded mess at all.

 

We’re going to have another addition to our family in a few months. I have found as a mother myself that it’s easier to let go (to grandparents) by the time the second one comes along. Parents realize that their parents aren’t one step from the looney bin, they’re not Charles Manson followers, and the craziness that occurs is more in the mind than in reality.

Soon we will have TWO kids to spoil. My kids won’t be living with us by then.

Momma — watch out. Granny’s coming —

 

Reflections of Disney World Through Middle-Aged Eyes

0956dc8c1d8c51f1fab033809ce7a99fMy feet  are aching, my wallet is empty, and I have Wished Upon a Star. I’ve had an exhausting, sweaty, mostly wonderful time in the Big D; I’ve learned a lot and observed more. So here, for better or worse, are reflections about Disney and its mystique.

*   The Disney World transport system is a force come into its own. It’s slick, by golly. I hardly had to wait for a bus to go anywhere.

*  On top of that,  I have to stand up and cheer for the way the Disney System takes care of those with disabilities.  The buses are amazing; the entire fleet has wheelchairs down to a science. The drivers are patient and helpful; the rides in all the parks have special entrances and spots just for those who have to use a wheelchair to get around. Disability is just another word around there.

* The Fast Pass is the way to go. I can’t tell you the devilish delight I had passing those who stood in line for an hour and a half for a 1-1/2 minute ride. At 90 degrees, this quick fix beat melting into a puddle.

*  The biggest terrorist threat at the parks are people pushing strollers. Now, I understand that they, too, have little hot potatoes squiggling and crying and being totally unreasonable, but that doesn’t mean they have to run you down in order to get to the next ride/air conditioned show/home. I had my ankles nipped once and nearly pushed off the boat by parents who then look at me like I’m the alien. Steer clear if at all possible.

*  There is a total lack of modesty at the Magic Kingdom when it comes to Mickey Mouse Ears. I saw so many ears in so many colors and styles it made my head spin. Bride ears, groom ears, pink-and-white polka-dot Minnie ears, Minnie ears with Malificent horns, red velvet ears, sparkly silver ears, disco-flashing ears — the variety was endless. And that was mostly on adult heads.

*  It was great that there were 6 adults to one four-year-old. No one individual had the energy to keep up with the little guy. So, if possible, bring reinforcements.

*  I am the first to admit that I don’t get it. There were lots of people there with children under 3. I understand if the older siblings want to go on rides and meet Goofy, but it seems pretty goofy to me to take a 1-year-old on a spinning tea cup or a flying elephant. The kid doesn’t get it, won’t remember it, and will have sunstroke before noon. Plus — just the hassle of bringing your entire changing table everywhere you go. I don’t get it.

*  Every meal was $10+. No matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Every small bottle of NesQuik was $2.79 and every ice cream bar $4.  I know a lot of people bring a lot of their own food, but practicality dictates it’s not worth it. Ask for ice water at any stand (it’s free), split meals, bring snacks. Share, share, share. It doesn’t take the entire bite out of the budget, but the sting becomes more like a sweat bee than a hornet.

*  I used to think I was a people person. Working in downtown Chicago didn’t bother me a bit. Alas, that was 30 years ago. My patience has, shall we say, waned a bit through the years, and my tolerance for stupid people has waned along with it. Sticking to the person sitting next to you on the bus ride back to the hotel just didn’t do it for me. I realize that, in an environment such as that, we all have our limits. I definitely am not a people person. And am glad for it.

*  I also noticed that obesity is rampant in America. I admit I add to that pool; being 20 pounds overweight didn’t help my sweat-energy factor. But there were a lot of BIG people out there — especially kids. I read a note online somewhere to not attack obesity when salads are $7 and burgers are $1, but come on. $1 burgers did not do the damage. Bad eating habits and lack of exercise did. Hopefully walking around the park for days was a start of a new exercise regime. It is for me, for sure.

*  Sun and chlorine are wonderful aging elements. I don’t think I looked this old when I started vacation. But a week in the pool didn’t do much to make me look younger.  Maybe all I need is some Wisconsin weather. And Wisconsin cheese. And Wisconsin beer.

*  And, lastly, bobbing around in the pool or waiting for the kids to get off the ride gave me a lot of time for thinking. For recalculating who I am and what I want from life. Most of what I wanted was right there. But there was something lacking.

When you’re traveling in a group, your say is only one fraction of the whole. In this case, my opinion was only 1/7th of the whole. And somewhere in that percentage I lost myself. Not on purpose — it was just the way of the percentages.

I found that I wanted to be seen and heard and felt in a whole new way. That sharing is all well and good, but I wanted to do something that stood up above and beyond my 1/7th. I’m working on that readjustment this Memorial Day Weekend. I’m working on the reality that I can be 1/7th of an opinion and be 100% of one, too.

You can too. Just find a way to be yourself.

Maybe that’s what the point of all those Mickey Mouse ears was!

Creative Cooking Lessons

mcI am happy to say that the elections are finally over. Ballots have been cast, candidates have been turned into winners or losers, and life goes on. There was a lot of nastiness on television these last few days; a lot of sour grapes both before and after the polls closed. I know that politics is a serious world, but I think that candidates and pundits alike could take a cue or two from some of the most serious — and competitive — people on the planet.

The kids on Master Chef Junior.

Some of the kids are as young as 8 and have to stand on a stool to cook. Some are 12 and tall and lanky and move around gracefully. Some are articulate, others talk just like an 8-year-old. They are chubby and tiny and skinny and of all nationalities. They come with glasses and pigtails and braces. Yet they are alive and excited and they love what they do.

Now I know you say that’s TV and those kids are little prodigies and they don’t have to deal with unemployment and underfunded schools and brow-beating bosses. And you are right. But that doesn’t mean that the pressure isn’t on in their little world. They are competing for a lot of money and a lot of publicity and, of course, bragging rights. They are competing on a stage that they’ve been on for only a few years (after all — how many years can a 10-year-old have been cooking?) and are cooking things without a printed, written recipe.  They are digging into their little brains and coming up with things like chicken liver pate on a crostini, Brûlée pears, chicken wings with a Vietnamese marinade, Yuzu salad, and Chicken Parmesan.

But you know what else they do? They high-five each other. They congratulate each other. They share their ingredients and hug each other when they fail. They say things like, “I kinda feel bad for Isabella; she’s really nice, and no one wants to see her cry.” They aren’t there to hang each other out to dry; they aren’t out to sabotage or fight or scream at each other. I’m not saying they’re not competitive; it’s just that there’s not a bad attitude in the bunch. Their downers disappear in the freshness of their attitude. They are an inspiration to the curmudgeons among us.

There’s a lot of apathy in the world these days. A lot of frustration and impatience and intolerance. A lot of people hate their jobs, their family, their situations. They are fed up with the leaders and the followers, the policies and the politics. Lest you think I point a finger at you, I, too, am guilty of the “hate” rap at times. My patience is thin, my understanding of the world, thinner. Everyone around me has an attitude; often ~I~ have an attitude.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I have no idea what the lives of the competing chefs are like. I have no idea about their living conditions, their families, or their pressures. What I do see is an attitude of lightness. Of being in the now, working towards tomorrow, and having fun doing it. These kids blend their innocence with their love of cooking and food, making them the competition of the future. These are the kids that will make our work place a better place. Kids who will find enjoyment in the stress of a world they love. They will have hard times ahead of them, but they’re starting life out on the right foot. The foot of fun. The foot of creativity.

We so have to dump this defeatist attitude, this “I hate the Republicans/Democrats” mentality. It’s time to get over whatever it is that bugs us. If something in your life doesn’t “do it” for you, find something fun to do that does “do it.” Don’t let those bad feelings about the way of the world fester into something that, left unchecked, turns into a disease you can’t escape. Trust me. It’s just not worth it.

One of the kids from MCJ said it best:  “My dad’s favorite saying is:  Number one rule: always have fun.”

What’s Back There?

book4Greetings! I did a little “rollover” dance with my Explorer the other day. All is well, thank the Goddess, but I thought a little backwards glance into my glorious blog might entertain you while I recuperate a little…

Chocolat and the Sun 

Escapism with a Reality Check.  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-2w

2 Chocolat and the Tuscan Sun1

Life is a kaleidoscope of feelings: it is pain and death, birth and life. Because the cosmic implications of these things are way above my head, I would rather contemplate my own daydreams.

I Can’t Believe I Believed That

Legends are So Much Fun…  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-6g

Dolly-Parton-with-Crossed-Eyes--58695a

Urban legends are as old as Medusa turning those who look at her to stone — old as dirt.  The more society has matured, the easier it is to decipher falsehoods from the truthhoods. Or is it? Here’s a list of ditties I found on my wanderings while doing research for my Great American Novel #3 (let’s hear it for the Internet and a few spare hours!)

Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Dressing comfortable is one thing … dressing like a hobo another … http://wp.me/p1pIBL-67

31 Fashionable Hobos from Hoboville

Are you one who enjoys presenting your best side to the viewing public?  What I mean is, do you spend time fixing your hair, pants, shirt, purse, shoes, the whole bit?  Not that you strive to strut your stuff down the Chanel or Yves St Laurent runways ― it’s just that you want to be presentable. Most women who take care of their heart and/or soul take care of their appearance, too.  What I’d like to know, then, is why is it when we are away from the public eye, we look like hobos from Hoboville?

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Parents and their kids often speak two different languages. http://wp.me/p1pIBL-8N

chinese_symbol_for_laugh_postcard-p239398313843791555trdg_400

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

You Make Me Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Ever feel like you’re always doing the spin-a-roonie?  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-jt

dizzying

Not so long ago I wrote a blog entitled, “I Make Myself Crazy.” You know ― it’s the on-sweater, off-sweater, hot/cold thing.  http://www.humoringthegoddess.com/2012/04/07/i-get-on-my-nerves/  Nervous ticks aside, I now try to slow down and think before I flutter.