Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Happy Meal Birthday

Happy Birthday, Dear Beenie:

You won't remember the day you turned one year old, so I will gather up a few memory treasures and stick them in a trunk in this old attic for you to uncover later.

It was great that we had the chance to spend this time together on your first birthday and my thirty-second wedding anniversary.  Your mama and daddy had to work, and Pa-pa was off skiing--so it was up to us to make this day something really special.

And although you won't remember it, we managed to do just that with a little help from good ol' Ronald McDonald.  At about 11 o'clock this morning, we sashayed into the lobby and made our somewhat cumbersome presence known. We shared a cheeseburger Happy Meal topped off with cake and ice cream, and you were quite impressed with your Ronald McDonald toy.


You won't remember the cake, but you liked it a lot.  It was a little vanilla cake-in-a-mug I baked last night and frosted with some icing left over from our last batch of cookies.  It even sported a single lighted candle.

(For future reference and possible other birthdays, I will take a detour here and document the logistics of that cake.  I mixed in a coffee mug 4 T. milk, 1 T. oil, and 1/2 t. vanilla, then added 6 T. flour, 2 rounded T. sugar, 1/2 t. baking soda, and 1/8 t. salt before baking it in the microwave for two minutes on high.)

Although you won't remember it, ours was a relatively quiet little celebration tucked back in one corner of Mickey D's.  But I considered it a success of the greatest magnitude because

  1. you didn't scream.
  2. you didn't poop.
  3. we made less of a mess than the teenagers at the next table, and
  4. we didn't start a fire.
Mama and Daddy will have a big bash for you next weekend when your whole family can be there.  Now THAT will be a party, and even Aunt Cookie and your cousins will be here to take in the action. Ours was just a little prelude to a much grander performance to come.

You won't remember today, but trust me when I say that both of us had a great time--followed by a great nap when we got home.  No, Beenie Boy, you may not remember this first birthday of yours, but it was as special as I had hoped for--and I will never forget it.      

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Googery

googery /goog'-uh-ree/ n. :  a collection of grandchildren's photographs taken by a googie, treated with an artistic flourish, and then grouped and displayed on the wall of the room the kids use for sleep and/or play during extended visits

I am pretty proud of the googery.  I use the definite article the here, because I am sure it is the only one of its kind.

Unique to my googery (an invented word telescoped from googie and gallery) are not only the particular five children who inhabit it but also the technique by which it was designed and the way it evolved.

It all began when a two-page ad in a magazine caught my eye.  I was impressed by the fact that the entire second page consisted of only an 8 1/2" x 11" graphic whose design and palette of colors cried out to me with the very essence of carefree childhood joy.

Instantly, I imagined it as the matted portion of a series of 8 x 10 wall portraits featuring 4 x 6 photos of my grandkids (who at that time numbered only three, but two more were on the way).  Each piece would feature a frame and secondary mat in a solid color matching one of the colors in the graphic.  The color would be different for each child, and I would change out the photographs periodically as the children grew.

It took only one trip to a couple craft and hobby stores to see that my great idea was couched in dollar signs.  Frames were expensive, mats were worse, the colors weren't a perfect match, and there weren't five different colors available of any one design.  Facing obstacles like these, how would I ever make my idea work?

Well, unlike most people whose brains are divided into left and right hemispheres, my brain has three distinct sections: left, right, and cheap.  I decided I could make multiple copies of the graphic by photocopying it onto white card stock and use matching sheets of variously colored card stock for the insets.

With cardstock purchased piecemeal from our community college reprographics department, I then invested in five cans of spray paint from Wal-mart and five wooden frames marked 25 cents each at a local thrift store.

With a little snipping and spraying using supplies like this,

 my updated googery now looks like this:

Things have been so busy that I just recently got Beenie and Zoomie, both born this past year, added to the display along with newer photos of the other three kids.  All told, the project required an investment of about three hours' time and less than $20, with the biggest expense being the paint.

I love to sit in the glider-rocker in the kids' room and admire the way the googery stretches across the wall above Pooh's toddler bed.  I like the fact that the different colors showcase each child's individuality, while the common mat design suggests the ties of family.

If I ever need to add another piece to the googery, I will go with the graphic's chocolate brown for the frame and the inside mat.  After that, who knows?  Maybe I should keep my eyes open for new graphic ideas just in case.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Perfect Chair

In scrolling through the Internet's vast offering of rocker recliners, I see that the perfect chair is not anywhere to be found. 

The perfect chair is a huge rocker recliner with no arms.  It has a rounded, papasan-style seat with the high back of a typical recliner.  It sports a chocolate brown, easy-to-wipe microfiber surface.  Its footrest is easy to raise and lower, and it rocks with a gentle, squeakless motion that bestows a restful comfort on children and googies alike. 

Because it has no arms, its spacious seat can cradle a googie, two grandkids, and a bowl of popcorn expertly when there is a Disney movie playing across the room.  Or, replace the popcorn with a third kid and a book, and you have all you need for some serious story reading.  Or, send all the kids upstairs to play while you rock the baby to sleep.  There is very little that the perfect chair can't do.  It is magical.

"Good luck," you must be thinking.  "A chair this perfect is impossible to find."  And, it would seem, you are right.  Tonight's Google search yielded no photos of the perfect chair.  That's why I am especially grateful that it sits in my family room, occupying the corner like some majestic throne:

The perfect chair came to live with us almost six years ago, just about the time Sooby, the oldest of our five grandkids, was born.  Since then it has performed its duties, hazardous and otherwise, like an ultimately devoted and selfless servant.  Its forgiving surface has graciously wiped clean of any substance capable of emanating from a child's body.  It is known around here as "Googie's chair," and it is like a member of the family.
This is not to say there are no signs of wear on our old friend--quite the contrary.  Some of its noble seams are showing evidence of stress in places, and it has begun to protest our sometimes vigorous rocking with the slightest little squeak.  But overall, the perfect chair has been a trooper, and, if I could, I would give it a medal for meritorious service.
The unique design of the chair also serves me well when I sit or lie in it alone, recovering from a marathon day with one or more of the kids.  I can stretch out with the footrest, cross my legs up Indian-fashion, or lie sideways with my legs dangling over the side.  The perfect chair accommodates my every comfort whim.
That's why I have started to worry a little about what I will do when we finally wear it out.  After all, how much battery can a chair, even a brave soldier like this one, be expected to survive? 
It was this distressing thought that precipitated tonight's premature, casual online search for a replacement.  In the event that the grandkid total does not stop at five, I want to be secure in the knowledge that there are reserves waiting to be called into action if needed.
With the arrival of daylight savings time today, bedtime is coming early tonight.  Beenie, almost a year old now, will be coming tomorrow for our Monday together.  He will get here bright and early, and the new day will be like a present for me to unwrap and enjoy.
And so, we will gather up his bottle and binky and bib and blanket and head downstairs to begin our day in the perfect chair.  Stay with me, old friend.  Beenie and I are counting on you for another perfect day.   

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Barbie and a Cupcake

On this date in 1959 the Mattel Toy Company debuted the Barbie Doll at the American Toy Fair in New York.  She went for $3, the same amount I paid three years later for my first and only Barbie, who sported a black and white knit swimsuit and a blonde bubble-cut. 

I bought my Barbie with a matchbox full of quarters I had saved from months of allowance money, and I still have her downstairs in a shiny black doll case along with her friends Ken (with the fuzzy blonde crewcut), Midge, and Allen.

But I digress.  What I really want to focus on is the significance of March 9.  Barbie (who, by the way, looks remarkably good for being almost as old as I am) is not the only one with a birthday today.  Yes, today Barbie may be turning fifty-four, but "Googie's Attic" is turning two.

I remember March 9, 2011, very well.  I had just brought Pa-pa home from out-patient surgery on his right rotator cuff.  A day or two before, I had read a magazine article praising blogging as a creative outlet and a means of documenting thoughts, ideas, and life events.

Since I would be close to the ranch with Pa-pa for a day or two, I decided I would give it a try.  So I knocked on the portal of and "Googie's Attic" stood there on the porch, shifting restlessly from one foot to the other, waiting to see if the door would swing open and allow admittance to this wonderful, new world. 

Now, 150 blog posts later, I am still here, celebrating the day with the birthday blog.  We have had two memorable years together as we have chronicled the many and sundry adventures of Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie as well as the arrival of two more grandsons and the loss of their great-grandpa. 

We found ourselves in a bonus situation a year ago, when "Googie's Attic," a toddler who had barely cut its teeth, finished as close runner-up to an established blogger in's contest for Favorite Grandparenting Blog.  With that, our visibility reached beyond our community of e-mail contacts and Facebook friends and stretched its way over the nation and the world.

As I publish each post to Facebook, I print a hard copy to keep in a huge three-ring notebook for quick off-line reference.  Also, every time I get about twenty pages of copy, I send those posts to blog2print for binding in a very nice soft-cover book, each of which roughly corresponds to a season of the year.  I received my last one, Volume 9 of Googie's Attic: A Different Kind of Grandparenting Blog, just a few days ago.

The things that make "Googie's Attic" different from other blogs are the things I enjoy most.  I love experimenting with the different genres of writing and playing with the nuances of the language.  I thrive on unexpected comparisons, ironies, analogies, sensory description and metaphor.  I love to incorporate the elements of dialogue, suspense, and humor.  I can't wait to discover what a piece will become in the process of the writing.

"Googie" is first and foremost a literary blog, where words take center stage (see?  a metaphor).  Although I greatly admire blogs with advertising, giveaways, magical graphics, lots of pictures and videos, and other techno-savvy bells and whistles, they are not me.  I know this may limit "Googie"'s appeal, but I am out to document the childhood of five special little people using the best language I can find.

For the most part, I am content to let the kids' parents do the picture-taking.  (I know there are occasional exceptions, especially lately.)  But as far as viewing childhood through the lenses of cameras and camcorders goes, I have been there and done that.  I have stacks of albums in my closet to prove it. 

With the grandkids, I am after a style of documentation that offers them more of myself.  I like to think that, as adults, they will find that meaningful, and that, even after I am no longer a physical presence among them, they can invite others they love to rummage around in this attic of ours. 

Enough of this.  On to the celebration.  "Googie" is two today, and tonight I am putting two candles on a cupcake to celebrate.  Who knows, I might even invite Barbie.