Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy 96th Birthday Grandpa!

My Grandpa is one of the most awesome people I know. He's smart, funny and caring. His views on the world are based out of logic, doing what is right and a firm stand in equality. He usually has several books going at once and though he may not be able to do his daily swimming anymore, he still goes to the Y several times a week to walk laps in the pool. He loves silly songs and sweets, and I want to be just like him when I grow up.

My Grandpa turned 96 years old yesterday. We threw him a little "luau" at my house, with all three of his children, and many of his grand- and great-grandkids in attendance.

We made my Grandpa a sign of "96 Wonderful Things" about got me thinking about all the things that have happened during his ninety-six years- not just in our family, but in the world, and I decided to write a few down.

So, just a very few of the major events (mostly from the US point of view) that have happened in my Grandpa's lifetime:

US enters WWI
First commercial radio broadcast aired
League of Nations established
Women gain the right to vote
Insulin discovered
Talking movies invented
First Winter Olympics
The Scopes Trial (teacher tried for teaching evolution)
Winnie the Pooh published
Lindbergh Flies Solo Across the Atlantic
First televisions sold
Penicillin discovered
Stock market crash
Amelia Earhart First Woman to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic
Scientists Split the Atom
The Dust Bowl
The Hindenberg
Helicopter Invented
First computer
First atomic bombs
Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier
The Korean War
First organ transplant
Polio Vaccine Created
DNA discovered
End of segregation
Rosa Parks
Soviet Satellite Sputnik Launches Space Age
First men in space
The Berlin Wall is built
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Civil Rights Act passed
The Vietnam War
First men on the moon
First test tube baby
AIDS identified
First personal computers
First woman in space
Berlin wall falls

Makes me wonder what D. will see in his lifetime.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen

I was baking for a get together this weekend and on the list was a must- my favorite cookie, the chocolate crinkle. I have been making these cookies since I was young enough that I had to stand on a stool to stir the chocolate in the top of my improvised double boiler. My mom didn't ever actively try to teach me to cook, but she made her cookbooks available and would get me what I needed if I wanted to make something. I never really liked making dinner type stuff (that was my sister's specialty- she could take all those mysterious "ingredients" and make something yummy, without so much as a recipe), but I would bake and make fudge now and then.

The things that I did cook when I was young are the things that have stayed with me as favorites. The chocolate crinkle recipe was used so much it fell out of the cook book and I had to tape it to a recipe card and, eventually, scan it so as not to lose it. The fudge I learned to make in Junior High I still make every Christmas. And I still love the bean tacos, which were one of the first "meals" I learned to make.

I want D. to have those early cooking memories- the tastes that bring back the warm fuzzies and a happy memory or two. I also want him to have at least basic cooking skills before he flies the coop (I was amazed at the number of guys I knew in college who couldn't even read a recipe, much less follow one). I have had D in and out of the kitchen since he was a toddler, but now I am trying to be a little more organized about it.

Every week or two, I am having D pick out something he really likes to eat and having him do most of the prep, cooking, etc, with me acting as advisor/sous chef. The first week he chose Mac & Cheese with hot dogs and a side of green beans. The next week he got a little fancier and made Potato Soup. This week he wants to make homemade meatballs for some meatball sandwiches. He seems to be enjoying his time in the kitchen and he is definitely very proud when he serves his family dinner. Memories in the making. :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You want a piece o' me?!

I have never been afraid of a haircut. Actually, changing hairstyles became a habit- no more than 6 months in a given style. When D. was young, though, I decided to bite the bullet that is the growing out process and try out a longer style. When it started approaching mid-back, though, the familiar itch for something new returned. Having just seen a classmate of D. (1st grade at the time, I think) donate her long, beautiful locks, I figured that was the perfect way to liven things up and do some good at the same time. Off came the hair, into an envelope and on it's way to Pantene's beautiful lengths program (they make wigs for cancer patients). Fast forward a few years and I found myself right back where I was before...with long hair and a need to lighten things up.

So, yesterday I toodled my way over to see Jeanne (best hairstylist I have ever had) and she ponytailed me up (lots of them to maximize length, since my hair wasn't quite as long as last time and the Pantene program requires 8 inches of hair).

Many snips of the shears later, I have a short new do and a little piece of me is now winging it's way through the US Postal Service, on it's way to becoming a wig for someone going through chemo. I hope it offers them even a tiny bit of comfort.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Some days I just want to make something. I want to take parts that are just sort of blah on their own and mix them, mash them, change them and create something new. The "something" changes day to day and year to year.

I spent about four years scrapbooking- the "something" I made were pages of memories, all bound up in a book. I being able to go to my bookshelf and pull out an album, take a trip down memory lane. I haven't scrapped in a few years, though, as I tend to go all-in on an activity, which sometimes (often) leads to burn out after awhile. Now when I get the urge to take scissors and glue to paper, it's more likely to be a card or some such- something I can finish quickly, then move on.

On a less tangible level, I like creating with words too. It takes a lot to get me into writing mode, though (for anything longer than a blog entry, that it). I can't tell you the number of times I have stopped and started the same story. It just always seems so much better in my head...I don't know that I have the skills to make things come to life on the page the way they are in my imagination. But, it's still a fun way to exercise my brain, especially on cloudy days like today.

Knitting is another activity that pops in and out of my creative repertoire over the years. I have never advanced beyond basic shapes (scarves, hats, blankets). I added crocheting in there this winter, making a blanket for B. for Christmas. With the leftover yarn from that, I made 7 hats (plus one for D.) for Head Huggers (they give hats to cancer and burn patients). I like the repetitive motion of the knitting/crocheting. I listed to the TV (I can't watch- I'm not good enough to trust my hands without looking at them) and just watch the long line of yarn turn into something else. Knitting has the added benefit of keeping my hands busy and out of the candy jar. :-)

I think my favorite way to create is to bake. Bread, muffins, cookies, pies, bars, doesn't matter. Nothing smells better than a house filled with the smell of something warm out of the oven. Humble ingredients like a cup of oats become something mouthwatering and filling. As much as I love to eat the results myself (love a little too much, truth be told), my favorite thing is feed those bits of baked love to the people I love. There's just something special about feeling your friends and family- it makes me happy.

I am thrilled to see that my love of creating things has brushed off on D. He creates songs & dances, computer programs, toys, gadgets, stories and especially games. This weekend he created Monsteropoly, with board game, pieces, chance cards and all. It's just like Monopoly, only instead of jail, you go to the dungeon, instead of things like Park Place or Reading Railroad, you have Dark & Spooky Caves and Haunted Houses. The game pieces are vampires, ghosts and zombies, instead of the car, iron or shoe. I love his imagination!

Hope you get the chance to create something fun this week...I'd love to hear about it!