Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You laugh or you cry. And we laughed a LOT!

It started out as a normal road trip, that is, if your definition of "normal" includes a nine and ten year old on 6 1/2 hour car ride through the cornfields of Iowa.  Actually, no corn was harmed in the travel.  Neither were the munchkins, which might be more impressive.  My bestie, Merry, came along as co-pilot.  She also packed the 10 year old, Ava, to counterbalance Bryce.  On a dry but overcast Thursday morning at 10:02, we departed.  Perfect traveling weather and only two minutes behind schedule.  Impressive.

First stop was for lunch (a bit on the early side to accommodate anxious bladders).  Second stop was more of the same, less the lunch.  Third stop was at the Matchstick Marvel Museum in Gladbrook, Iowa.  The creations were impressive - so were the bathrooms.  We enjoyed both before jumping back into the car for the final leg of the journey.

We arrived at my sister's house in the Des Moines area.  As I carried in luggage, the first words I heard from my traveling companions were, "Oh, you have cats."  Ding, ding!  Allergies!  Why do I never think of these things in advance?  Maybe it won't be so bad.  And positive thinking worked...for about two hours.  Around 11 that evening, we searched the internet for hotel rooms.  Who knew Des Moines in June is such a hot vacation spot!  We finally found a place with one room - which we quickly booked.

After a (not so) quick stop at a 24 hour pharmacy for an inhaler, four weary travelers, still smiling (maybe not as many teeth showing) brought our luggage into the hotel.  It was then that we discovered, simultaneous to our online booking, another traveler had walked into our hotel sleepily eyeing our pillows. When we arrived, there were no shepherds, no angels and no baby - but no room in the inn, either.  Mr. Night Manager recognizing the corporate timing error found us a room - a mile down the road in the casino.

For the third time in about as many hours, we loaded and unloaded our luggage.  All four of us were laughing, because it really did seem better than the alternative.  I agreed in writing not to take the pint-sized into the casino or to leave them in the room alone while I explored Blackjack.  Agreed.  The room was nice and beds looked very inviting.  First, however, came the trip back down to the lobby to purchase a toothbrush for a certain grandboy.  Casinos don't give those things away for free, you know, and they don't deliver them to the room, either.

I could go on to tell you about how a certain grandboy is not used to sleeping with anyone.  After piling pillows between us to protect me from his kicks, I fell asleep.  I awoke to find him sharing my pillow!  Would you like to know that it rained off and on the next day while we were at the amusement park?  It kept the lines short!  Night number two, our original hotel did not have our reservation right, either, but they worked it out - at Bryce's insistence. While I was counting to 10, he informed the manager that they had already turned us away the night before.  Not shy and/or very anxious to use the pool, I'm not sure which.  We spent 9 hours at the water park the following day, returning to the hotel with keys that would not work - and pretty much out of laughter when advancing four strong on the front desk.  They re-programmed our keys in exchange for us leaving the lobby.  Good trade.

The trip home was more subdued, but not without laughter.  All in all, we had so much fun that Bryce wanted to know what state we would go to next year.  Can I forget all the adventures by 2016?  Or looking back, will it all look like fun again?  Stay tuned!  Only time will tell!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What I Learned from a Mouse

Two years ago, I went to Disney World for the very first time - EVER!  I never really understood the hype.  In truth, my head probably still doesn't understand - but my heart does!!!  It was a best friend/daughter affair.  Being short on the daughter, I came along as best friend.  Merry and I have many stories that we would be happy to share, though not on Granma time.

You might notice from the picture that I am the shortest one in the group - meaning I met the five foot-something designation to join the frivolity.  I assure you, the vertically challenged were EVERYWHERE, except attached to our hands.  That is the way to discover the Wonderful World of Disney - height restriction strictly enforced!  I would, however, like to take my grandboys there - one at a time and only once they meet the aforementioned requirement.  Bryce is first up!  Maybe next year?!

At any rate, a mouse named Mickey invited me on an extensive tour of his home, which was incredibility hospitable of him.  He provided fireworks every night and shopping opportunities every 3.7 feet.  He even offered to schlep our purchases back to our hotel.  What an accommodating whiskered quadruped - and I'm not all that fond of rodents as a rule.  Mickey is an exception.

Last weekend was Bella's birthday party.  Bella has no aversions to rodents - or reptiles, for that matter, though that is a blog for another time.  There is the princess now!  I realize the picture is blurry, but I'm sure you will understand why shortly.  Knowing that Florida in June might be on the warm and humid side, Bella decided to party with a different mouse - named Charles - his friends call him Chuck.

Mr. Cheese, as I shall call him is a very distant relative to Mickey.  There are some similarities:  whiskers, ears, and tail.  Shopping opportunities abound every 1.9 feet, but you may only shop with specific currency that must be acquired from specially designed ATM machines that eat green paper and spit out gold coins. Grandboys never tire of THAT trick.

Being a rather brave (read: fool-hardy) Granma, I volunteered to bring Aidan and Josiah to the festivities.  They loved the gold coins and caught on quickly enough what to do with them.  They wanted to explore each and every coin slot - one to the left and the other to the right.  Granma was in the middle looking a bit like Elasta-Girl, or a failed version of said superhero.

 I consider myself a pretty quick learner.  And long before we exited the house of Mr. Charles "Chuck" E. Cheese, I had acquired several valuable pieces of information.  Granmas do not want to be friends with all 7' tall rodents.  Mr. Cheese's residence also has a height requirement, that being UNDER five foot tall.  Regardless of how much I shrink over time, I will always lay claim to my tallest, leaving me ineligible for a return visit.  That last sentence makes this Granma smile just thinking about it!

There is only one thing that will EVER get me back to the house of Mr. Cheese.  And that is: another birthday party for a grandboy or grandgirlie.  And I am extremely grateful that those don't roll around on a weekly basis.

Happy Birthday, Bella.  May number 6 be an awesome year for you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cookies - If You Dare!

Tyler and Aidan are only 7 months apart, so had been assumed from the start that they would be great playmates.  Well, maybe not from the start since infants are not really all that social, but rather a society unto themselves.  Eventually, though, it was assumed they would move on to parallel play before graduating to joint mischief making.  It didn't work that way.

At family gathering time, one would run in the door, spy the other playing with me, and become indigent.  Neither was convinced that Granmas can be shared.  Secretly, that is a pretty special memory for me - I do love it when mini-men fight over me.  Tyler and Aidan shared air space for years, but little else.

About two months ago, we had another family gathering, and just like that, a switch flipped.  The minute the door closed behind the second of them, Tyler and Aidan were off and running.  They chased and laughed and shared toys, each trying to top the other with imaginative uses for blocks and cars and Duplos.  The adults in the house all stood, mouths agape, wondering what just happened!  They were playing together with peals of laughter and screeches of pure joy!

Recently, I had just Tyler and Aidan over for a play date.  In the way of the spring of 2015, the butterfly farm plans were washed away along with the anticipated park visit, leaving me with two grandboys and their combined energy factor of 10.  We made cookies - Snickerdoodles, to be specific.

After carefully washing our hands with soap and water, we mixed together butter, eggs and sugar.  (Note to self:  little hands like to turn on the mixer.  Beware speeds five thru ten.)  We dumped in the flour - with all that implies. (Dustbuster to the rescue!)  After a few other minor ingredients, carefully planned so the number of "helps" was evenly divisible by two, the real fun started.  We rolled cookies into balls.  This is a certain cookie talent that is not well developed at ages 3 and 4, the ball rolling, that is.  We ended up with snakes. Never having been a reptile fan, Granma stepped in to help with the rolling motion, or at least to coil the snakes back upon themselves for a friendlier form.

Their ages and eager hands, however, made them very good at rolling the cookie dough in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  The dry mixture attaches to the dough very well.  But just to be thorough, grandboys, both, licked their hands, ostensively to test quality and to aid in its cookie adherence.  Judging by their sticky noses and goofy grins, they were quite satisfied with their efforts.  This is the reason we make cookies that must be heated several hundreds of degrees prior to public consumption.  No-bake cookies are not an option.

The great cookie challenge took almost an hour of well spent efforts, exclusive to kitchen clean up.  So what did we do in the next hour?  We put on a movie, created with Play-doh, Legos, Marble Works and puzzles.  By then, Granma needed a cookie break with two of the proudest bakers ever.  We all munched as two high-pitched voices explained the process using expansive hand gestures to illustrate.

They might not be ready for the Food Network, but those were some of the best cookies ever, sprinkled with love and laughter - and just the right amount of grandboy spit.  Cookies, anyone?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Pink Asterisk

Over 34 years ago my first son was born.  Seven pounds eight ounces of baby boy - beautiful beyond belief!  A little over nine months ago, another baby joined the family - number eight in a string of bundles of blue.  He was oh so himself and equally beautiful!

I have over three decades of blue to my credit - and by that I frequently mean black and blue.  Boys are a different beast.  Oh heck, boys are frequently beasts - cute, yes!  But beasty, too - rough and rugged and smelly and fuzzy-cuddly, too.  It's a boy thing - and if you have been around enough of them (which may be defined as only one), you know what I mean.  Just this weekend, Tyler (4) nibbled his grilled cheeses into the shape of a gun and shot at me across the table.  I'm not sure I've ever been attacked by American cheese before, but it felt so normal that maybe I have and just repressed the memory.

I had kind of expected a life time full of make-shift guns and best friend who double as punching bags.  In decades past, I would spend days being mad at my son's friend for a slight, while my son headed over to the offenders house 15 minutes later to play soccer.  Boys are just different!  But it's a different to which I have grown accustomed.


Meet Isabella!  Her face isn't always so purple.  In fact, just lately I've seen it in shades of pink and white with rabbit whiskers radiating from her nose and across her cheeks.  (When boys have their faces painted, they turn into Spider Man or Ninja Turtles or something - NO pink or purple.)  Bella is the daughter of Emma, girlfriend of Colin.

From the first time we met Bella, we just wanted to admit her to the family (Emma as well, mind you) - and not just because her favorite color is pink.  She radiates five year old confidence and love that is absolutely infectious!  But Saturday, for the first time, she called me Granma!  Be still my heart!  But listen closely, my ears!  Sweet, sweet music!!!

Oh, and just in case you missed the rest of the news, Bella has a huge job ahead of her!  She has to teach us how to treat little girls.  Apparently you should not turn girl toddlers upside down and spin them around and pretend to drop them only to catch them again.  And you should not jump out from behind doors and yell "BOO" and make them jump (and probably cry).  And you should have baby dolls and miscellaneous pink fluffy stuff for cuddling.  All of this education will come in very handy in October when the twin baby GIRLIES are born to Court and Christine!

Yep, yep!  There will be a total of three girls added to the Harris family by the end of the year!  So - do I change the name of the blog?  I think not.  But there is a huge pink asterisk in the title.  Well, actually, it's white, but maybe I can get someone more technologically savvy than I to change its color.

Make way for the pink revolution!