Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's a Wrap!

I don't have to do much reflecting on the past year to recall twelve great months of watching the six grandkids grow and learn. With our newest set of family Christmas festivities officially relegated to memory (and the wonders of digital photography), it seems fitting to wish you a Happy New Year with one last pic of Googie and Pa-pa posing with the kids.

If you have wandered into "Googie's Attic" over the past couple years, you already know the problems plaguing any effort to capture all six kids in a pose that does justice to their cuteness. There is always one look askance, one set of closed eyes, or somebody who, tired of the whole thing, is walking off the set to take up a picket sign.

One year, our Christmas photo featured a group shot where everyone was mad for a different reason. That, as you may remember, was charming. Last year, Sooby decided to close her eyes on purpose because she thought it would "be funny" if it looked like she had fallen asleep.

So this year, I decided we would make no effort to attain professional quality in our official picture. Instead, I bought and assembled a set of eight festive photo booth accessories to adorn our countenances with some seasonal merriment.

For the record, let me identify, from left to right on the back row, Pa-pa, Sooby, Pooh, Googie, and Zoomie. On the front row are Bootsie, Heero, and Beenie. The kids range from two to eight years old this year.

The little set of props turns out to be one of my better $1 investments of the year. And, ironically, our picture probably turned out better than usual simply because we gave ourselves permission to have fun and be silly.

Happy New Year to all of you from Googie, Pa-pa, and the kids. We hope you will make an occasional visit to "Googie's Attic" in 2016. I will try my best to make it a place where grandkid magic remains alive and well, and where learning, love, and laughter rule.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Cowabunga! Christmas

In our family, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tradition has wrapped its lime-green arms around a second generation of little boys.

Named after Renaissance artists, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael, the Turtles began as mere comic book doodles in 1984, first acquired movie fame in 1990, and dazzled the cinema world most recently in a 2014 reboot. The '90 movie caught son Teebo, who was five then, and the newest one hit just in time to capture the imaginations of grandsons Pooh, Zoomie, Beenie, and Heero (who, if you ask me, would  themselves make a dynamic crime-fighting foursome).

So in my after-Christmas bargain stalking last year, it seemed ordained by fate that I should find a package of eight lime green tree ornaments. Having just seen an idea for making Ninja Turtle ornaments on Facebook, I determined that each pair of grandsons would have a set of these for their Christmas trees in 2015.

Later in the year I came upon a packaged set of four spools of ribbon with--get this--exactly the four colors of the turtles' masks. With a few googly eyes left over from a previous craft adventure, I was ready to heat up my glue gun and shoot.

Not only did the ornaments cost mere pennies to make, the process is about as quick and easy as you can imagine.

1. Cut a length of ribbon 14 inches long.
2. Stick its mid-point at mid-ornament with a spot of glue. (If your ribbon has a high paper or plastic content, be sure to use the low setting on your glue gun--I learned this the hard way, at the expense of Donatello's first mask).
3. Tie the ribbon snugly in the back and trim the ends to the desired length.
4. Glue on the eyes.
5. Add an ornament hanger.

If I should be lucky enough to find some more green ornaments after Christmas this year, you can bet I will snap them up. With the boys ranging in age from two to six, there could easily be some casualties involved.

After all, fighting crime can be a messy business, and we need to keep our Turtles intact. Merry Christmas to you, may your new year be filled with pizza, and Cowabunga, Dude!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Our Funny Santa Video

If you can find five minutes and forty-one seconds to spare in your hectic Christmas season, I have a treat for you. It is something you can enjoy by yourself or in the company of little people you love. All you need is a computer, iPad or smart phone that gives you access to You Tube.

In the four years since it was posted, a computer-animated short titled "Ornaments," produced by Aaron James Erimez of Eye in the Sky Productions, has amassed over five million views. I am pretty sure the kids and I are responsible for at least one million of those.

The video is a neat little piece of artwork that combines imaginative graphics, a variety of classical music, and a lovable Santa Claus ornament who encounters numerous conflicts as he tries to make his way off the tree to the coffee table, where an irresistible plate of chocolate chip cookies awaits him.

Despite the number of times my kids have seen this video, they relish it with new gusto every time. They love it so much that we watch it all year long, and not just during the Christmas season. Here is how you can enjoy this great little video feature for yourself:

1. Do a You Tube search for "funny Santa videos." When the choices pop up, look for a picture of  a Pixar-looking Santa with a Christmas tree on the right and a sofa with table lamp on the left. You will also see the "5:41," indicating how long the video runs.

2. Click on that picture, and when you see the names and titles mentioned in the second paragraph above, you will know you are in the right place. You will hear composer George Bizet's "Habanera" from Carmen playing and then a radio signing off the air. These are the video's only spoken words; the rest of it plays out to the immortal compositions of composers Tchaikovsky, Offenbach, and Rossini.

3. Sit back and enjoy the next few minutes as you watch the ingenuity of a Santa ornament who unhooks himself, rides a candy cane zip line down a garland of tinsel, lands on a toy train, catapults himself onto the piano, uses a director's baton to pole vault to the top, makes a paper airplane out of a piece of sheet music ("Silent Night"), and takes a harrowing ride in an attempt to get to the cookies.

Does he make it? If I told you, that would spoil the whole thing for you, wouldn't it? Really, you have to see this yourself to appreciate it. You will find it to be a creative, colorful, fast-paced piece of animation punctuated by numerous instances of giggle-out-loud humor.

There is not one of my six grandkids who has not seen and does not love the antics of "Funny Santa." I hope you will check it out, and let me know if you like it as much as we do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Two Reasons To Celebrate

It is an unseasonably warm and windy day here in central Missouri. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are knocking at our doors. But this day stands as an occasion to slow things down--to pause and reflect. To give thanks and due respect. Today I take this brief moment and this tiny splinter of cyberspace to celebrate my husband as a Vietnam War veteran and to honor the memory of my dad, who would have been ninety-one years old today.

This is the man my grandkids call "Pa-pa," my husband of nearly thirty-five years. Here, you see him in the uniform he wears when he serves on our local VFW firing squad to honor deceased veterans at the grave site. It is a service he performs out of selflessness, respect, and a genuine empathy with those who served their country.

Pa-pa himself was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving from 1966-68. In that last year (which he always refers to as "eleven months and twenty-five days"), he was with the First Air Cavalry. He followed in the footsteps of his own father, who was awarded a Purple Heart in World War II. My children and grandchildren inherit a rich background of service to these United States.

My dad, shown above with Sooby in 2010, was not able to serve in the military, but was born on Nov. 11. Sooby and Pooh remember him, but Bootsie was only a year old when he passed away four years ago, and Beenie, Zoomie, and Heero weren't yet born. Dad knew Beenie was coming, but never got to meet him. He bore the burdens of his terminal disease stoically and selflessly, and was, in his own way, a different kind of hero.

Mom is OK today, Dad. I had lunch with her, and we duly noted your birthday. She has demonstrated some bravery herself these past four years. You would be proud. As for me, I am proud, honored, and blessed beyond measure to have shared a family with both of these men that I love dearly.

Today is  Nov. 11. Happy Veterans' Day, Pa-pa, and Happy Birthday, Dad.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Metaphorical Musings

The poet in me loves metaphors. For me, the fresh, thoughtful comparison of something ordinary to something surprising involves the ultimate creativity. With metaphor, that comparison is implied rather than directly stated, and that makes it even more thought-provoking as a figure of speech.

For instance, if we describe Aunt Lucy as "the queen of Saturday night Bingo," that brings to mind a vivid mental picture of her--complete with crown, robe, and scepter--turning the drum to mix up all those little balls and then calling out, in her most regal voice, "B-4!" We find that interesting partly because the Bingo hall is about the furthest thing from a palace there could be. So we chuckle at that irony and think of Aunt Lucy in a fun and memorable new way.

Recently I happened on a list of "Quotable Quotations" about reading, and I couldn't help noticing how many of them use metaphor to compare books to other things. Because I have spent so much time reading books with the grandkids over the past eight years, I found these especially interesting, and here, right below one of our typical reading photos, I choose four of them to share with you.

According to a Chinese proverb, "A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." What a great thought--that printed words are somehow like seeds that take root in fertile little minds. That the vitality of a writer's thoughts is something portable that can be worn on your person and go where you go.

This metaphor suggests that our time spent reading is an investment of sorts, with potential to grow beyond what we can imagine. No wonder Robert Louis Stevenson called his book of kids' poems A Child's Garden of Verses. I still remember "My Shadow" and "The Land of Counterpane," as seeds planted long ago in my own mind. I hope the time I spend with the kids in this little plot of land will someday come to similar fruition.

Garrison Keillor, of Lake Wobegon fame, claims that "A book is a gift you can open again and again." There is nothing children like more than presents. To think of a book as a gift is to acknowledge that it is something given out of love and with no expectation of reciprocity.

But a book is not the kind of thing that will break or run out of battery power. Unique among gifts, it has the potential to be opened numerous times and to offer a richness that only compounds with subsequent readings.

Who could be a better expert on the child audience than the great Walt Disney? "There is more treasure in books," he says, "than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." Books become treasure chests, then, in Disney's view.

This is especially admirable coming from a man who made his fortune in the motion picture industry. But his comment here shows his understanding that, in order to have the movie, there must first be a story. Stories are treasures that we mine or discover with our kiddos when we read.  

For my last metaphor, I look to the great poet Emily Dickinson, who begins one of her poems with these lines: "There is no frigate like a book/To take us lands away." Here, a book becomes a vessel that transports us. It becomes a ship whereby we leave the land we know to sail to places of adventure and imagination.

A garden. A gift. A treasure chest. A ship. A book can be all of these things and more. I dearly love this time when the kids are all still young enough to want to help me plant seeds, unwrap presents, dig for treasure, and sail away.

I will close with a metaphor of my own: Books are boxes of Cracker Jacks. You open them to find things that can be sometimes sweet and sometimes nutty. But one thing is for sure: there is always a prize inside.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Mickey Mouse Operation

If you hear something described as "Mickey Mouse," that might not be complimentary. Maybe it refers to a college course that was too easy, or a procedure considered incompetent or ineffective.

But neither of those meanings refers to the operation Pa-pa and I got to share with little Heero last night. In our case, "Mickey Mouse" describes hats, plates, napkins, and cups featuring pictures of Walt Disney's lovable rodent. These wonderful decorations expertly celebrated the fact that our youngest grandson turns two years old today.

I, for one, was happy to see our party table alive with the Mickey Mouse theme. I cut my own teeth on "The Mickey Mouse Club" back in the late 1950s and early '60s, when that iconic black and white TV program (under the leadership of a big mouseketeer named Jimmy) burst like a party into my living room every afternoon. I even had my own hat with those furry felt ears.

But--tempted as I am to take off on a one-way trip down Memory Lane here, I will resist (for now, anyway) and keep the focus on our birthday boy. Here, you see him preparing to extinguish the candles on his birthday cake (frosted orange, by his decree).

Happy birthday, little guy! As you hit the two-year marker, Pa-pa and I love watching you learn and grow. You amaze us with the things you can do, say, and figure out at barely two years old. We had a great time at your party and hope you and brother Beenie enjoy all your new toys--your "puter," Sesame Street letter puzzle, farm set, and mega blocks--and I'm sure there will be more to come as your birthday unfolds through the day.

Let me close with those infamous words of the mouseketeer song. "Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company: M-I-C (See ya real soon!) K-E-Y (Why? Because we like you!) M-O-U-S-E." Karen and Cubby got it right, little guy.

Happy second birthday, Heero. Pa-pa and I look forward to helping you celebrate many more.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


A dizzy kid staggers blindfolded across the basement floor and slices the air repeatedly with a plastic boat paddle. It doesn't take long for the rest of us to figure out that this may not be the safest environment. So we artfully back away, dodge the swings, and cringe when the oar catches an unsuspecting laundry basket with a resounding "SWACK."

It seemed like such an innocent thing--a brand new pinata sitting there on a garage sale table with a price tag touting it as a $1 bargain. One dollar--really?

Pinatas like this go for $20 or more at Wal-Mart during holiday seasons. With Halloween fast approaching, I really had no choice but to scoop up this little prize, shaped like the head of a Mardi Gras clown clad in the most inviting greens, yellows, and lavenders. It was a no-brainer--this fall season my grandkids would experience a little cultural diversity along with their Halloween candy.

According to, we owe the joys of pinata smashing mostly to China, where paper was invented, and Mexico, where pinatas were prominent in religious celebrations. With the Mayans (those fun lovers) the blindfold was added, and the pinata achieved party game status.

The various cultures differ in the symbolism they attribute to the pinata. The Chinese filled theirs with seeds to represent abundance, while some of the Mexican peoples broke clay pots filled with small ornaments as offerings to their gods.

In some later incarnations the pinata stood for evil for those wielding sticks to demolish, while other times participants "looked up" to the hanging pinata as a symbol of hope. Today, people all over the world break pinatas just for the pure fun of it. These papier mache creations bring to parties and celebrations a suspenseful game allowing adults to take out their frustrations in a socially acceptable way and children to simply wait for candy to drop from the sky.

Anyway, here you see Sooby, Pooh, Bootsie, and me with our clown while he was still intact. If you squint, you can see that Pa-pa has already established himself at a safe distance, and little Zoomie, in a burst of premonition, had already hightailed it out of Dodge.

The fifteen or so minutes following the snapping of this photo were a blur of swinging weapons and flying tissue paper. No children or adults were harmed in the execution of this activity, though, for the life of me, I will never figure out why.

However, I am sad to report that the little boat oar standing there so proudly beside Pooh did not survive the second round, during which Pooh smashed it unceremoniously into the floor. When it was replaced by the only handy thing--a metal pole--our insurance rates all went up a bit.

But eventually, primarily through damage inflicted by Sooby and Pooh, our clown littered the floor with candy and little boxes of raisins and apple juice. (I figured that, as the kids were recovering from any injuries, they would at least have some healthy snacks to speed along their convalescence.) The kids launched into "grabbing" mode, and, surprisingly, the plunder came out pretty well divided among the pirates.

Our pinata experience is one we will not soon forget. It was a lot of fun, or at least I think it was. Since we have all lived to tell about it, this is another one of those stories I expect to attain mythic proportions as we re-tell it through the years.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

October Passages

Sometimes I fall into the habit of checking text messages early in the morning before I am even fully awake and out of bed. When I did that this morning, it was with this startling image that I opened my eyes to a new day:

That's nice, I thought sleepily. The kids have carved a jack-o'-lantern. No, wait a minute--that's Bootsie! She's lost her first tooth!

This came as somewhat of a surprise, considering that this pretty girl had her fifth birthday only two weeks ago today. If I remember correctly, this rite of passage came considerably later with the other kids. Sister Sooby lost her first tooth when she was a few months older, comparatively, and brother Pooh even later than that.

I have read that nothing makes a child feel more like a big kid than losing baby teeth. Even starting school and learning to read take a back seat. Today, Bootsie joins the ranks of the big kids, leaving only little brother Zoomie and cousins Beenie and Heero with full sets of baby teeth intact.

A couple weeks ago Pa-pa and I made an overnight road trip out to deliver our present (foam Sofia the First and Amber dolls with a full wardrobe of design-it-yourself princess fashions) and to wish Bootsie a happy birthday in person. Glorious autumn foliage greeted us all along the three-hour drive, and our visit, as so often happens, was a big two-day party full of games and hugs and pure revelry in the joy of being grandparents to four great little kids.

So, Bootsie, consider this your official fifth birthday blog post. The years are whizzing by, the seasons somersault one over another, and you are growing up so fast. You are one of the big kids now, and when you start kindergarten next fall, you just may be greeting your teacher with a whole mouthful of brand new teeth!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Teddy Defies the Odds

The minute I saw him on the store shelf during the 1986 Christmas season, I knew I was a goner.

Never mind that this was the most impractical Christmas gift ever for a four-year-old child. Never mind that it cost way too much. The minute Teddy batted those huge animatronic eyes and crooned, "Come dream with me tonight . . . ," I was ready to hop in the airship myself and fly away.

Manufactured by Worlds of Wonder, Teddy Ruxpin was an animated teddy bear who was activated by cassette tapes inserted under his tunic. Once the tapes began (I never understood why they ran backwards, by the way), Teddy's eyes would blink open and shut and his mouth would move in sync with the stories and music they contained.

Each tape came with a storybook, and an audible signal would inform children when to turn the pages. Through Teddy, we all met a delightful cast of characters that included the Woolly Whats-It, along with Teddy's best bud, Grubby the octopede, and their scientist friend, the aptly named Newton Gimmick.

Although Teddy's popularity skyrocketed in the mid-1980s, that fame fizzled out just about as fast, mostly due to the unfortunate timing of his arrival on the toy scene. Even early on, Teddy  bounced from company to company as he struggled to rise above a plummeting stock market.

He also had the misfortune of being a tape-playing machine arriving on the cusp of the compact disc era, and therefore was doomed before he could get a good paw-hold. Adding to the problems were the facts that his four C batteries tended to deplete rapidly, making upkeep even more expensive, and his mechanism was especially sensitive to damage.

Furthermore, consider the way four-year-olds generally treat their teddy bears. Is it really a good idea to give them an expensive piece of sensitive machinery and hope for any kind of good outcome? Think about it.

Although daughter Cookie was pretty careful with Teddy, he still went through batteries like a herd of cows through small bales of hay in the dead of winter. (It didn't help that his switch often got left in the "on" position.) Then, eventually, his animated features stopped working, forcing him to tell his stories like a ventriloquist with his eyes shut. But even then I couldn't stand the thought of getting rid of him, so he found a home for many years on a shelf in the bedroom closet.

That is, until just this past summer. To my delight, it seems that Bootsie, four years old herself, took a shining to Teddy, who, despite the fact that his eyes and mouth are frozen shut, still tells a story as well as ever. During the week that Bootsie stayed with me in July, this was a common sight:

An so, with nearly thirty years under his tunic, Teddy lives to entertain another generation of children in my house. That is pretty amazing, and I am so glad I didn't give up on him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our Fair Friend Otto

By the time the state fair pulls into our town every August, the kids and I already have a mental list of the things we will do. We will gaze down from the top of the Ferris wheel to see buildings that look like Legos, and people and cars that appear no bigger than toys.

We will go to see the "butter cow," hand-sculpted from hundreds of pounds of butter, in its refrigerated compartment of the dairy bar. And, of course, we will talk to Otto.

Otto will talk to us, too, because that's what Otto does. He is, after all, a talking car. Specifically, he is a 1931 Model A Ford roadster of the kind formerly used by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Every year, Otto comes to his special open-air garage in the fair's Highway Gardens to converse with children about any variety of topics, safety-related and otherwise.

Most fortunately, daughter Cookie captured last month's visit to Otto in a rare digital moment that includes me and all six grandkids:

There, totally immersed in as deep a conversation as you can have with a hunk of metal, are, from left to right, Sooby, Bootsie, Googie (no, I am not a midget; I am on my knees), Beenie, Beenie and Heero's mama, Heero, Zoomie, and Pooh (who, microphone in hand, is acting as our spokesman).

As I understand it, Otto first came to our fair in the late 1960s. He not only talks (with appropriate help from a trooper with a remote device) but also blinks his eyes and honks. As you leave his garage, he will see that the kids all get a T-shirt and a coloring book. What's not to like about a guy who can do all that?

Like Smokey the Bear in the Conservation Building and the llama in the petting zoo, Otto wears one of the iconic faces of our fair. He is a true personality, complete with jokes and teasing and the occasional safety tip.

The kids dearly love him, and so do I. No trip to the state fair would be complete without a detour through the Highway Gardens where kids are loyal subjects and Otto is king.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Silver Lining

I would never want this boy to be sick. I would always wish for him to be as happy and healthy as he looks here at our family reunion last month:

But if sick he must be, I would wish for it to be just barely bad enough to ban him from daycare--because this means that he gets to spend the day with me.

This week, a minor throat infection struck Beenie, and I had the pleasure of his company all day yesterday and the day before. His mild illness may have created a little cloud of intermittent fever and a runny nose, but our time together edged that cloud with a silver lining.

With no time to plan and no particular agenda, we were content to simply let the days unfold on their own and go with the lazy flow of late summer. We ate when we wanted to, played when we wanted to, and napped when we wanted to.

On their own, our two days assumed a kind of animal theme. Here, in ascending order of time spent, are the three activities that kept us the busiest:

Number 3: A Berenstain Bears Book Titled The Spooky Old Tree

When it comes to a simple story and illustrations that truly captivate a three-year-old, Jan and Stan hit the nail on the head with this delightful book. In it, the three Berenstain cubs, equipped with flashlight, stick, and rope, take off on an adventure inside a gnarled, darkly ominous old tree nestled in a wooded area inhabited by bats and vultures.

One by one they lose their possessions to an alligator, a broad axe falling from a suit of armor, and Great Sleeping Bear, who wakes up in a really bad mood when the cubs crawl up over his back as he sleeps. Although Great Sleeping Bear chases them with a large, growly scowl, they are able to hightail it out of the tree and back home to Mama Bear, but not before having the biggest adventure of their little ursine lives.

Beenie was most fascinated by the "suiting armors" lined up in the "spooky old hall" that the little bears dared to investigate behind a secret panel deep inside the spooky old tree. Many questions and comments related to Great Sleeping Bear came in a close second: "Is he mad? What's he doing? What's he saying?" You get the idea.

Number 2: The"Elefun" Game

My most recent (and best) dollar spent at a garage sale went for a game in which a battery-powered fan blows plasticized paper butterflies up through the soft, collapsible plastic trunk of a jolly blue elephant. Once the fan motor is turned on, twenty-something red, yellow, and green butterflies fill the air above and flutter down to be netted by an excited, giggling boy who is supposed to be sick but is not acting like it.

The whole process takes less than thirty seconds, and then it is time to reload and do the whole thing over . . . and over . . . and over. I can't say enough about how much true "Elefun" Beenie and I had with this. In fact, it is so much fun that you don't even mind the reloading.

Number 3: Dinosaur Flash Cards

The same garage sale got me, this time for 50 cents, a like-new deck of thirty-six flash cards with pictures and facts about dinosaurs. Although the cards are recommended for ages five and above, Beenie absolutely loved these. Early in the game, he picked out a dinosaur to represent each member of his family. (I am proud to say that I am the allosaurus.)

Beenie wanted me to go through the deck over and over pronouncing those difficult multi-syllable dinosaur names (Thank you, pronunciation key!). "What's this one called about?" he asked each time he turned up a new card. I'll be honest--tuojiangosaurus and pachycephalosaurus took a little practice--but I venture to say you haven't lived until you have heard a three-year-old say struthiomimus. Many times.

Dorothy and her friends on the Yellow Brick Road may have had their fun in the realm of lions, tigers, and bears.  But--Oh My!--what fun Beenie and I had this week with dinosaurs, elephants, and bears. It may not have been Oz where we were, but for the past two days this old house has been every bit as magical.

Monday, August 17, 2015

It All Makes Sense

"Three-year-olds learn primarily through exploring, using all the senses." So says the "Child Development Tracker, "a feature on the PBSparents web page. I may have already suspected that, but I know it for sure after spending twenty-five straight, mostly one-on-one, hours with Beenie the last couple days. With Pa-pa working basically sun-up to sundown at our state fair this week, Beenie was just what I needed to add some fun and excitement to these long days at home by myself.

Just look at that face. Doesn't it just cry out with enthusiasm for exploring? Indeed, the two of us had a glorious time together, with no sense left undeveloped (and some of them working overtime). Here is a rundown of our adventures for the perusal of all you child development specialists:

Certainly we deserve high marks in the tactile category. Those ten little Lego people (most of them wearing helmets--go figure) sitting side by side on the block bench we created took some serious hand-eye coordination, small motor skills, and downright manual dexterity. Add to this a couple hours in the pool both days, and you have a field day for your sensory receptors.

Accompanying us to the pool were three plastic dinosaurs--twin brontosauruses Tex and Rex (who is surprised?) and Max, who, just to complicate things, is a T-Rex. The dinosaurs were quite happy to bob around for our entertainment, until, due to minuscule, invisible holes in their anatomy, they took on water and sank. This required a deep-sea fishing expedition, after which considerable squeezing was required to rid them of excess water, leading naturally to a spirited discussion, complete with demonstration, of the potty habits of prehistoric creatures.

In our drier moments, Beenie and I moved on to develop the senses of taste and smell, which took the form of a huge bowl of popcorn the first day and a box of donuts (with chocolate icing) the next morning. To accompany our popcorn ("Can you get your own bowl, Googie?"), Beenie picked a movie from my sizable collection and we settled with our blankets into a huge recliner big enough for the two of us to sit side by side.

I would not have expected the movie he picked--Baby Mozart--but it offered us thirty minutes of utter nostalgia and serenity with its parade of colorful baby toys against the backdrop of lively, upbeat Mozart music. A VHS videotape we played together every afternoon Beenie stayed with me during his first year, it has not lost its appeal for him despite its intent to target younger children. Given his choice, Beenie asked for "Baby Ein-a-stein," and in that we got our fill of visual and auditory delight--supplemented, of course, by the books we snuggled up together to read at naptime.

Beenie's favorite of my storybooks, at the moment, are  Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon (which he calls "Fireplace" because of the cover picture), Jane Miller's Farm Alphabet Book, Roger Priddy's Happy Baby Colors, and Mary Murphy's I Like It When . . . ."  His CD of choice for car travel is Barney's House, and with that, we are back to where we started with Barney's close relatives Rex, Tex, and Max the T-Rex.

So, yeah, PBS people, the three-year-old-year is truly sensory in nature for both little boys and their Googies. He might be exploring for the purpose of learning, but I just get to revel in the sensory delights that are mine alone. I get to enjoy the warm snuggles, that cute little voice--and that rare moment when I actually get to have a bite of my own popcorn.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Making of a Pa-pa

Googie's Attic certainly wouldn't be the same without a permanent fixture named "Pa-pa." Certainly, in the eight years we have been grandparents, Pa-pa has done his share to make the memories happy ones.

It is Pa-pa that keeps our swimming pool going, builds our weenie roast fires, and gives the best rides on a John Deere Gator. So Pa-pa, on your 73rd birthday, here is a little recap featuring you and your kiddos.

It was Sooby who first made you Pa-pa on June 30, 2007. She was followed closely by her brother Pooh on Feb. 2, 2009.

Then, on Oct. 4, 2010, their little sister, Bootsie, came along. Looks like you must've really liked that red and black plaid shirt!

Son Teebo started his own branch of our family tree when Beenie (left) joined the fun on March 20, 2012. Three months later, on June 25, daughter Cookie added Zoomie to the line-up.

Last (so far) came Beenie's little brother, our little Heero, on Nov. 4, 2013.

And that, dear Pa-pa, is how we came to be the grandparents of six children in a little over six years. It has been a blur of diapers, high chairs, car seats, and sippy cups, but I am sure that neither of us would trade the experience for anything.

Just this morning, from his vacation on a Florida beach, Beenie called to sing "Happy Birthday" to you. We all echo that sentiment and look forward to many more good times to come.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Dire Prognosis

It is somewhat disconcerting, after all these years, to think that I might lose not only my job but also my home. Sad as it may be, I predict at least a 50-50 chance that, in the not too distant future, my services may no longer be needed in my current work environment.

It's not that I haven't been busy. In fact, the past eight years have found me very much in demand. At times I have had more customers than I could accommodate. Nothing or no one in the immediate vicinity is able to perform my job quite like I do. You might say I am built for this job--and I have worked faithfully and diligently at it for a long time now.

Let the record show that I have executed my duties despite considerable abuse. I have been climbed, mauled, and kicked. I have endured an abundance of pounding and caterwauling. I am often left in a total mess.

This is not my first time to be uprooted. In fact, it was just about eight years ago this summer that I was shoved into a garage in an undignified manner and stuck with a totally demeaning price tag of $15. Luckily for me, a nice lady named "Googie" came along and adopted me. She gave me a good bath, and gave me my own corner of her kitchen.

She got a good deal. I come from good stock, the Fisher-Price line. I needed very little training, and never produced a mess of my own making. I have been caught many times, however, with egg on my face as well as on my other various body parts. Still, I have stood tall, kept quiet, and never snitched on any of those little rascals who tried to make me look bad.

Just look at this innocent face:

I ask you, do you think I should be forced to leave my happy home here at Googie and Pa-pa's? Or, worse yet, subjected to another garage line-up?

I will admit I am worried. My sixth customer is just about to turn two years old, and already his legs dangle way down past my foot-rest. Is it my fault he is such a big, healthy kid? Already I have heard him say he wants to sit at the counter with my five other former customers. How quickly they forget.

So as you can clearly see, my future is at best uncertain and at worst in utter peril. Unless there is soon evidence of a seventh grandkid for Googie and Pa-pa, I am toast, and I don't mean the kind that is permanently petrified in all my nooks and crannies.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Here's to Dr. Seuss!

It's official--Dr. Seuss is immortal.

Although he died in 1991 at age 87, his heretofore unpublished book is being released this month, according to the current issue of American Profile (July 19-25, 2015, p. 6).

Yes, right there on America's bookshelves, alongside fellow Pulitzer Prize winner Harper Lee's much-anticipated Go Set a Watchman, will be Theodor Seuss Geisel's What Pet Should I Get? I can't decide which one I am the most anxious to get my hands on.

While Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has been, up to now, the sole ticket to her widespread literary fame, Dr. Seuss's prolific collection of children's books has nurtured the imaginations of generations of children for nearly a century. Among them, I am proud to say, have been my little brother, my own children, and my grandkids.

On the occasion of his new book release nearly twenty-five years after his death, I offer him this poetic tribute, composed in the tradition of his own readily recognizable rhyme and metrical patterns. The poem is an acrostic, meaning that the first letters of each line, when read downward, spell out his name. I hope it will bring some great memories to mind as you anticipate with me the release of What Pet Should I Get?

A Salute to Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat came when Mother was out.
He made our fish nervous and then made him shout.
Each Who down in Whoville remembers the day
Old Grinch came and kidnapped their Christmas away.
Do you like green eggs? Will you eat some green ham?
Oh, come on and try them--be like Sam I Am!
Remember The Foot Book and all of those feet

So distinctly unique as they walked down the street?
Elephants don't often roost in a tree
Unless Horton sits down where a bird ought to be.
Such genius poured from this pen and--oh boy--
Such a legacy left for us all to enjoy!

Geisel was great with the rhythm and rhyme.
Ev'ry kid with a book of his had a great time
Imagining characters, playing with sound
So ingrained in the words that this poet wrote down.
Each fun-loving reader, regardless of age,
Loves the way Doc could play with the words on a page.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Dessert Factory

Take one six-quart Rival electric ice cream maker. Add two grandkids who are staying at your house for the week. Then, mix up a few choice ingredients to pack with layers of rock salt and crushed ice. If you follow this procedure carefully on the first night of the kids' visit, you will have your dessert menu planned for the week, and you will have happy kids that look something like this:

From the mixing to the packing, Sooby and Pooh completed all the steps of the ice-cream manufacturing themselves. They combined three 8-ounce packets of Rival Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream Mix, six cups of whole milk, six cups of Half & Half, and two generous tablespoons of vanilla. For the kids, the mix is easiest because it requires no egg-cracking or cooking, and trust me when I say that flavor and texture are in no way compromised.


Once the mix is prepared, move the metal canister to the plastic bucket and secure the motorized top piece. One side of a double sink is perfect for this as long as you are within an appliance cord's length from an electrical outlet. That way, you can use the other half of the sink for the bag of crushed ice and your rock salt.

Show the kids how to pack the freezer in layers of salt and ice. Use the opportunity, if you wish, to discuss the freezing and melting processes and explain how the freezer works. Once it is packed, plug it in and begin the approximately twenty-minute-long freezing process. Coach the kids to add salt and ice as needed until the thickened ice cream halts the motor.

Tell the kids they can "lick the dasher" as a preview, but cork the canister as soon as possible and set it in your freezer to harden overnight. The next night you can have the first of any desired litany of ice cream treats, all made with your special homemade ice cream.

During the course of the week we had root beer floats, hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, and a side of ice cream with a preview cupcake in honor of Sooby's fast-approaching eighth birthday.

This was the kids' first time to make homemade ice cream all by themselves. They loved both the process and the results. For me, it was nice to have dessert already prepared each night. Some nights, we saved the treat until right before bedtime.

There is nothing that says "summer" like a freezer of rich, creamy ice cream. I would be willing to bet that homemade ice cream becomes a Googie Camp staple. Next year, we may try a new flavor (strawberry was suggested), add some new toppings, and experiment with the fine art of malt- and shake-making.

I didn't tell the kids, but I saved just enough ice cream for Pa-pa and me to have a small dish apiece tonight. This way, the flavor of a great summer visit can last just a little bit longer.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Want a wacky, off-the-wall art project to do with your kiddos? You may want to try the one Sooby, Pooh, and I have nicknamed "LIDZ!" We made it up ourselves.

All you need is a loaded glue gun, a medium-sized cardboard box, and about a year. By that, I mean you tuck your box in an out-of-the-way corner about a year before you want to do your project--and start saving plastic lids.

Yes, lids. All kinds. After about a year you will have a most colorful and eclectic collection that looks something like this:

You know you are ready for the construction phase of your project when you find yourself, as I did this past week, in the company of a couple grandkids with vivid imaginations.

The challenge is simple: Put the various lids together and design something. Then, Googie will wield her trusty glue gun to give your creation permanence. It was in this way that a unique line of original toys was born. Allow me to illustrate:

First, Pooh, who is fascinated by all things army, used fiber container lids and the top from a Bath and Body Works fragrance bulb to create a canteen, left. At right, a Tresemme hairspray lid and a top from a squeezable tube of toddler fruit combine to form a hand grenade. In just minutes, Pooh has upgraded his stash of GI Joe paraphernalia and found a way for the two of them to remain hydrated longer in desert terrain.

Demonstrating Pooh's softer side is this delicious-looking cupcake (lids from Extra detergent and Downy fabric softener) and its accompanying decorating tube (lids from Avon Sweet Honesty cologne and a mini yellow food coloring container).

Not to be outdone, Sooby adds a layer cake (assorted lids of different sizes) and a second decorating tube to the set.

And then, as only Sooby can, she comes up with this:

Give up? What you see here is a penguin (top center--see the white belly?) teaching her three chicks (right) to ice fish on a frozen lake (foreground--the red lid is the fish). At left is the penguin's nest containing one unhatched egg. I realize that, most likely, you had already figured those things out. (But just in case, I decided to include an explanation in the interest of completeness.)

Even I was able to get in on the fun by designing and constructing this Thomas-the-Train relative, which Beenie calls a "Moco-Lotive":

The body is made of two Static Guard lids topped with a Bath and Body Works shower gel lid (engineer's cabin) and Avon Sweet Honesty cologne lid (smokestack). On the front is another Bath and Body Works fragrance bulb top, while the wheels feature a combination of lids from milk jugs and, again, squeezable toddler fruit (Those make great spokes, don't you think?).

All in all, I have to pronounce our LIDZ! project a success. In a little over an hour we made some neat new toys and got a chance to exercise our creativity.

The only problem? I am in such a habit of saving lids that I may not be able to stop cold turkey. As it is, we still have enough leftover lids to stock the Art Department of Googie Camp for several summers to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The American Institution of Root Beer

The other day I was thinking about the A & W Root Beer stand that used to be located about half a mile from the house where I grew up. From the house, an easy walk of 15-20 minutes on a summer afternoon took me, car-hop apron in hand, to my first part-time job during the summers of 1967 and 1968.

Maybe it was the memory of those foamy mugs of root beer sloshing out on the trays I lugged across a gravel parking lot to hang on rolled-down car windows. Maybe it was the thought of amassing a whole ten dollars in tips on a weekend night.

Whatever the case, something told me last weekend that it was time for the grandkids to experience the divine taste sensation of a root beer float. It would be a tasty, easy dessert to greet us after the 60-mile drive home from our annual family reunion. With that in mind, I had the root beer and vanilla ice cream at the ready.

I don't think there is anything more fun than giving the kids the chance to try something new, and their root beer float initiation proved to be no exception. I had even frozen some almond milk to serve as an ice cream substitute for little Zoomie, who is allergic to dairy products.

The official results of the root beer test varied widely among the kids. Sooby, who doesn't care much for foods in the creamy/marshmallowy category, tolerated her float sample but opted out for ice cream and cake. But her brothers and sister loved their exquisite concoctions of texture and flavor and required seconds. Pooh required thirds and made me promise to save some root beer for his return trip next week, a request that I am happy to honor.

We used none other than A & W Root Beer, of course, and when one of the kids asked me what those initials stand for, I went to the official A & W website for the answer. There I learned that A & W stands for "Allen" and "Wright," who first marketed the beverage to the public on a wide scale in 1922.

Roy Allen, the site says, actually created the brew and first served it in Lodi, California, in 1919 to people attending a parade to honor soldiers returning home from World War I. It was also in Lodi that A & W pioneered drive-in accessibility and curbside service by carhops.

The stands became even more popular in the era of World War II and following, when more people began driving cars. Finally, in 1971, A & W Root Beer became available in cans and bottles at the corner grocery.

A little quick subtraction tells us that A & W Root Beer will have its ninety-sixth anniversary this summer. Now, that's a cause for celebration. I can think of no better way to commemorate this momentous occasion that with root beer foaming atop vanilla ice cream on a grand scale when Pooh comes to spend next week at Googie's.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

If I Could Be an Elephant

If I could be an elephant,
then I would have a trunk
(and, goodness knows, I'd need it just
to carry all my junk).
What's that you say? Wrong kind of trunk?
A trunk like mine's a nose?
Well then, okay, I'd have a way
to spray--just like a hose.

If I could be an elephant,
then with my ivories,
I'd play a happy tune all day
on my piano keys.
Oh, that's not right? My pearly white's
instead a pointy tusk?
(Then I can look quite sharp, I guess,
from morning until dusk.)

If I could be an elephant,
I'd make a trumpet sound,
and those who want to hear a band
could gather all around.
Oh no, you say? My trumpet's shrill?
Not musical a bit?
(Well, I will have to rethink all
the songs I play with it.)

Alas! I'm just an elephant
who shrieks with raucous noise.
Say what? You think I might bring fun
to worlds of girls and boys?
You think the circus tent's a place
where I might strut my stuff,
and it won't matter that my skin
is coarse and gray and rough?

Well then, okay, if what you say
is noble, good, and true,
then I can do some tricks and stunts
that might just tickle you.
Come see my trunk and mighty tusks
and hear my trumpet blow,
and I'll be glad to hear you cheer
me on--from the front row!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Mother's Day Cover-up

It was with an unmistakable sense of purpose that Sooby entered the house Friday night clutching a small pink gift bag. "Quick!" she said before her mama and the other kids scrambled out of the van laden with the paraphernalia required for a weekend stay. "We can't let Mom see this! It's her Mother's Day present!"

Just like that, I was involved in a conspiracy. At school that day, with the help of her second-grade teacher, she had collected a nice laminated bookmark, an original handwritten "Mom" tribute, a cellophane tube of instant coffee, and a handful of Dove chocolates. She was determined to keep the gift a surprise until today, but she was clearly worried.

"I don't know where to put this," she said, "and I'm afraid the chocolate will melt!"

"Go put the bag under your bed," I said, "and I'll put the chocolates in the fridge." We worked fast. We have been partners in crime before.

Fast-forward to this morning. Sooby is up early, ready to reassemble her gift so that it would be ready when Mama woke up. "Go down and put the candy back in," she instructs, handing me the sack, whereupon I descend the steps at my furtive best.

Good, I think, as I notice daughter Cookie still asleep on the house's lowest level. Stealthily, I open the "secret" drawer of the fridge and prepare to confiscate the candy.

One miserable Dove stares back at me. The rest of the candy has gone AWOL. Suddenly, I find myself on the middle floor of a tri-level house with a crisis on my hands. (I know it looked like a pink bag, but I guarantee you it was a crisis.)

Hearing Cookie stirring around a bit, I waste no time. I am about to be a turncoat and leak major sensitive information. "Did you eat the candy in the bottom drawer of the fridge?" I demand. There is no time for "Good morning."

"Yes," she readily confesses in a "So what?" kind of  tone.

Fifteen seconds later she understood the crisis proportions of the situation and we had a plan in place. I would staple the top of the sack so that Sooby couldn't peek inside to see that we were short a few Doves. Cookie would open the bag at a safe distance, exclaim appropriately over each item, and leave the candy until last.

My daughter was in some theatre performances in high school and college, but I never saw a performance to equal this one. She pulled off the cover-up expertly, identifying, as she looked into the bag, all the flavors of the candy she had eaten the night before. She was brilliant. Sooby was proud. I was a nervous wreck.

All's well that ends well, as they say, and one day Cookie and I will share "the rest of the story" with Sooby in our finest Paul Harvey fashion. Meanwhile, I think I had better contemplate better hiding places for contraband in the event that people I love have secrets to hide and an insatiable appetite for chocolate.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Googie's Victory Lap

Put me on the platform and hang a medal around my neck. Winners of Olympic gold could not feel a bigger sense of accomplishment than I do this week.

No, I did not make a hole in one, stay on a bull for eight seconds, hit a grand slam, or make an unassisted triple play. I did not swish a basket from half court to win the game at the buzzer. I did not pitch a no-hitter or score a hat trick or perform a piano concert at Carnegie Hall.

What I did this week was greater than all of these things combined. I can finally say that I accomplished something I have been striving to do for a year and a half: I made friends with my youngest grandson.

Little Heero, my new friend, has been anything but easy to win over. Nothing in my bag of Googie tricks, so flawless with the other five grandkids, made the slightest impression on Heero. My collection of toys and my repertoire of songs scored one giant goose egg.

Until recently he didn't even want me to hold him, and I rarely got the faintest suggestion of a smile. In Heero's book, I was clearly persona non grata, and it broke my heart. It is an understatement to say that Googie does not handle rejection well.

But slowly, over the past several months, there have been sporadic--but nevertheless definite--signs of hope. About a week ago, when I picked up his brother Beenie from daycare for a little extra Googie time, Heero actually came running to me with his arms out, then went to get his shoes as though he were coming too.

Then, day before yesterday, the boys' day care had to close for illness and Googie was commandeered into back-up mode. I arrived at the battlefield and braced myself for the usual resistance from my reluctant little soldier. It didn't happen. I know it is probably not wise to do cartwheels at my age, but I considered trying.

Beenie, Heero, and I had an absolutely beautiful day of doing ordinary little boy things. There was not one tear anywhere all day long (except for the time Heero conked his brother on the head with a wooden mallet--hey, it happens).

And although I still don't expect to be able to compete when Heero and I are in the same room with his mama, I am content with the knowledge that some bonding has, at long last, occurred, and Heero, in his own way and in his own time, will love me after all.

Prepare yourself, little Heero. We have some lost time to make up for, and that will be one of my Number 1 priorities for the summer. Next time I come to day care, I will make sure I have enough car seats and pick you up too, if you want to come.

You made a good down payment this week, but you still owe me some snuggles and some serious lap time. We have books to read and songs to sing. In case you are my last grandchild, I need to do a little extra spoiling. I need to do that even if you are not. It's going to be fun, little Heero. Now, more of the treasures in "Googie's Attic" will belong just to you.

On second thought, bring on those laurels. Maybe I will climb to that stage and accept that medal after all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easter Monday

This year, the grandkids couldn't be here on Easter Sunday, so we had Easter Monday instead. As it turns out, that was not necessarily bad.

For one thing, it meant that I could storm the doors of Walgreens early Monday morning and get Easter goodies for all the kids and grandkids at half price. As you probably know by now, there is nothing Googie likes better than (1) chocolate and (2) a good deal.

Also, with the serious responsibilities of the holiday past, we used our annual Easter ham as the centerpiece for a Monday night family dinner celebrating the April birthdays of both my daughter and my daughter-in-law.

With no particular planning (which generally doesn't work anyway), the three oldest kids and I broke out a leftover egg coloring kit and dyed a dozen (er, make that eleven--accidents happen) hard-boiled eggs, It was the first time Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie had ever colored eggs, and the mild weather enabled us to use the indoor deck for this most colorful of science experiments (and our spirited discussion on the difference between the words die and dye). Here is our result--and you owe us, Menards, for the free advertising:

You will be glad to know that, during the ensuing week, these eggs found good homes in, from left to right, chef's salads, tuna salad, and breakfast options.

With little Heero (who turned 17 months old on the day before Easter) joining in on the fun, we had for the first time a total of six grandkids scouring the back yard during our annual egg hunt. This year, because Zoomie is allergic to milk products, I filled the plastic eggs with gummy fruit snacks, Teddy Grahams, mini-Oreos, and other snacks without dairy ingredients. Does this crew look ready to hit the hunt, or what?

Left to right, you see Pooh, 6;  Heero, 17 months;  Bootsie, 4 1/2;  Beenie, 3;  Sooby, 7 1/2;  and Zoomie, 2 1/2. It is pure coincidence that Sooby chose the only basket made of fabric, that it happened to fit her head perfectly, and that the colors matched her dress. You can't plan things like this.

Everyone was gone by Tuesday afternoon, so this was one of our whirlwind celebrations. But it was perfect in every other way and, while it lasted, as sweet as any half-price chocolate bunny could ever aspire to be. We hope you also enjoyed a blessed Easter and look forward, as we do, to the promises of spring and summer.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Chocolate Bunny

I’ve tied the final ribbon ‘round
the baskets bound with cheer.
Tomorrow will be Easter, and
the grandkids will be here.
The baskets shine with cellophane;.
the kids will think they’re great.
They’ll all be so excited—
even I can hardly wait!

As I admire my labor,
I am thinking, “Wonder if
I might untie a ribbon and
inhale one little whiff?”
Those chocolate bunnies smell so sweet,
and surely I could pick
just one of them and have myself
a tiny little lick.

Well, that awoke my taste buds,
and now it’s only right
to go ahead just this one time
and take a little bite.
I don’t know what got into me—
I meant to only nibble,
but now one basket’s all awry
with bunny left a cripple!

It seems as though I've now regressed—
I’m in my childhood years,
when I could not resist the taste
of  hollow bunny ears,
and here’s a candy flower in
the bunny’s little hand.
Oops, where’d it go? I think I know,
and, oh, it tasted grand!

I need to find a perfect spot
where evidence can hide.
I’ll rearrange the basket, get
it straightened and retied,
and hope the littlest kid won’t miss 
the bunny this one lacks
(for now I have to think of how
to cover up my tracks).

I'm feeling some remorse, it's true--
there's not much left of bunny.
I hope the kid will not suspect 
or think that something's funny
when all the others "ooh" and "aah" 
with smiles all wide and bright
because their chocolate bunny's whole--
while he gets just one bite.

I’ll claim that it’s a chocolate kiss
old Mr. Hershey cooks
for any special kids that aren’t
obsessed by how it looks.
From that time on, I’ll try my best
to curb my chocolate habits,
especially when temptations taunt
me shaped like Easter rabbits!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blueberry Beenie

Beenie wouldn't have it any other way: he was determined that he and I were going to make a blueberry pie together.

This idea made its way into his cute little head by way of a bedtime story titled Grandma, Grandpa, and Me by Mercer Mayer. In the story, a rodent-like character named Little Critter is dropped off at his grandparents' house for a sleepover.

One highlight of his stay is helping his grandma make a blueberry pie for the country fair. The book's cover shows Little Critter rolling out pie dough with a big bowl of freshly picked blueberries nearby.

Unlike the super-grandma in the story, I will admit to using pie crusts from the dairy case of our friendly neighborhood grocer and canned blueberry pie filling. There just aren't many blueberries ready for picking in Missouri in March, and I wasn't sure Beenie's attention span would hold through the old-fashioned dough-rolling process. (Besides, we had some serious playing to get done that night.)

But just like in the story, we filled a crust with a juicy blueberry filling and sealed it up tight. Just before that, Beenie reminded me to add the same secret ingredient Little Critter's grandma used--so we threw in a little love.

Then we marked it with a "B" for "Beenie" (and "blueberry") and put it in the oven to bake  When it came out piping hot, this is what we had:

But not for long, because here is what happened soon after that:

With a little scoop of ice cream on top, our blueberry pie was a winner just like Little Critter's. Later that night, Beenie crawled in bed between Pa-pa and me for a good night's sleep--another idea he got from Little Critter.

Today, on Pa-pa's and my thirty-fourth wedding anniversary, our little blueberry pie boy turns three years old. So even though our pie is long gone, we will soon be diving into a chocolate cake with blue icing and dinosaur candles.

Somehow, I think Little Critter and his grandma would approve of that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Leprechaun Trivia

Everyone needs a little leprechaun trivia to make the celebration of St. Patrick's Day 2015 complete. While some of the following contain pure Googieness, others come your way with help from "Leprechaun Facts for Kids" at

  1. The leprechaun pictured above is the grandson known on this blog as Pooh. His real name is Patrick. This is why he always celebrates St. Pat's Day with a flourish.
  2. There aren't any girl leprechauns. Patrick will be glad to know this.
  3. Early leprechauns wore red instead of green. So Patrick's Spider Man shirt is totally appropriate for this occasion.
  4. Leprechauns dance a mean Irish jig. This explains so much.
  5. The old-time word for leprechaun was lobaircin, which means "small-bodied fellow." See, Patrick? You are supposed to be small.
  6. Many legends describe leprechauns as "mischievous." Enough said.
  7. There is a connection between leprechauns and gold. Patrick has a nearly-full piggy bank. He also has a collection of international and other "special coins."
  8. While some folks claim authentic leprechaun sightings, others believe leprechauns are mythical. I support the former, citing the photo above as proof. 
  9. Legend has it that a person who catches a leprechaun gets three wishes. Today, Patrick, I will settle for just one: Please come and see me soon. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Dinosaur Named Darryl

--for Beenie--

A dinosaur named Darryl
Sleeps underneath my bed
And listens to the bedtime songs
And stories that are read.
Darryl’s made of plastic
And colored mostly blue.
His tummy’s fat, his tail is flat;
He sticks to me like glue.

His mouth is always open;
His teeth are sharp and white.
By species he’s a T-rex,
And he stalks my room at night.
While I am sound-asleeping,
Darryl guards my door.
He keeps the monsters all away
With one big dino-roar.

He’s there when morning wakes me.
He smiles his lizard grin.
We make our way to breakfast
Where his eyes light up—and then—
He grabs a purple Froot Loop
In his enormous jaws,
Then chews and chomps and scratches
For another with his claws!

I think if there’d been Froot Loops
In prehistoric days,
Then Darryl might have friends around,
And I would be amazed
To have a thousand dinosaurs
For everyone to see--
But  now it’s me and Darryl,
And that’s all right with me!