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.