Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Final Installment of a Five Week Long Series - Preserving Memories

For the Record
Kenny and Tyler’s Visit
June 22 - July 27, 2014

Writing this on Wednesday, July 30 & July 31



So, our grandsons’ last day with us was Thursday.  It’s hard to believe that they have been gone almost a week already.  

The five weeks now seem to be a blur.  They went by so fast.  

From the very beginning we quickly and naturally fell into a routine which was comfortable and accommodating for each of us.  

For the most part mealtimes were fairly easy.   
The bowls of Fruit Loops for breakfast had to contain equal amounts of cereal.  It was amazing how Tyler knew if his brother had even one more Loop than he did.   “Kenny has more than me,” was Ty’s standard morning observation.

Lunch time was peanut butter and jelly crustless sandwiches.  Grape for Kenny and strawberry for Tyler.  

Dinner time was whatever we decided would be on the menu, with a plate of food set aside for when Jimmy came home from work.

And always, always chocolate milk to drink in their own special glasses.  They had to remind me each time who got the red one and who got the blue one.

Ross would take them to the pool every day.   Even that became a standard routine.
It would start off by me yelling “Who wants to go to the pool?”  Most times the response would be a duet of “Me!”   Sometimes, though, one of them would say, and mostly in a whiney voice, “Aww, I don’t want to go to the pool.”   Usually, that would be Ty.  But as soon as Ty saw his brother getting his bathing suit on, grabbing his towel and his guest ankle bracelet,  he would immediately change his mind.

By the last week, I think I had a good insight into Kenny.   Everything he did revolved around how much time he could occupy until his father got home.  It was an interesting observation.
I understood that for Kenny, going to the pool meant using up two hours.  That meant two hours closer to when his father got home.  When he would ask to watch a movie or a tv show it was the same consideration for him.
It was really quite touching and a little heartbreaking at the same time.

Another issue for Kenny was staying close to home.  I think that also had to do with making sure he was there when Jimmy got home.

One of the things that we found a little challenging was finding ways to motivate the boys to leave, as they referred to it, “the neighborhood”.

One day last week we wanted to take them to the little zoo here in our area.  It’s really a rescue sanctuary for in crisis animals.  It’s called Popcorn Park Zoo.
We had been mentioning this to the kids since they first got here.  Neither one of them said they were interested.
So we I had to use a little trickery.
The day we picked to go, I told the boys that we were having workman come to the house and that we had to leave for a few hours.
It went something like this:
“Kenny, Ty, hurry up.  You have to get dressed. Quick, quick!  The workman will be here any minute now and we have to be out before they get here.”
They both started to run around and get dressed.
We were out the door within 10 minutes.
I kind of feel bad about that, but sometimes a grandma has to resort to such methods in order for her grandchildren to have fun.  :)
The zoo is a short 20 minute ride from the house.  When we pulled into the parking lot they both wanted to know, “What is this place?”
I told them that it was Pop-pop’s and my turn to work at the zoo.   We had to feed the animals.
“Oooo,” they said in unison.   “Can we help?”
“Well, okay,”  I said.  “I guess you can.”


So, even though they had to leave “the neighborhood” they had a great time.

By the middle of that final week, although he didn’t express it verbally, it was obvious by the increased number of times Tyler would FaceTime with his Georgia family that he was missing home.  

The last day, on Thursday, Jimmy brought his boat down.   He, Ross and Kenny went for a cruise around the bay.  Ty and I agreed that dry land was more our preference.

Back home, after the boat ride, there was a flurry of activity, packing the boys and Jimmy up.  They made sure that the presents that they picked out for their Mom and sisters went into the side pocket of the backpack.  The Minion hats I made went into the suitcase.   
I checked under the beds, dresser drawers and the bathroom to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind.  



But of course they did.  They left behind so many precious memories.






Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It’s Loop-de-Loop Time


I vaguely, but barely, remember the details of those days.   But, I vividly remember feeling that my life was like a series of amusement park rides.  The ups and downs of a roller coaster, the round and round we go, but getting nowhere, of a carousel.  I was always dragging and tired to the bone.  There was never enough time.
I thought about those times the other day after I left my doctor’s office.  I like my doctor.  She’s young, probably in her late 40’s.  She’s married with two small children.  She’s pretty with blond hair and caring blue eyes.  At my appointments, she never seems in a rush.  She will sit down, eye level with me and intently listen.
I’ve had doctors who come buzzing in the room, fire questions at me and don’t even look up when I answer.  They say, “okay” and mutter “uh huh”.  And after the allotted time granted to me, usually a mere 4-5 minutes, it’s “Take two of these and see the front desk for your next appointment,” as they rush out the door.
But not my doctor, she’s definitely not like that.  At that last appointment, though, when she came into the exam room, she didn’t greet me with her usual smile and the “I’m so glad to see you” look.  It was obvious to me that she was exhausted.  She told me that she hadn’t had time that day to get outside for that breath of fresh air that always perks her up and gets her ready for her afternoon appointments.
Apparently, she had had a bad morning.  I thought to myself, this woman needs a vacation, a good and long vacation.
A few days later, when I went to my hair dresser, I thought again about those past times when I felt as though I needed a good and long vacation.  I like my hairdresser.  She is the owner of a busy salon. She’s about my age and is a natural born schmoozer.  Even though I am not a regular client, I see her about three times a year for a hair cut, she remembers who I am.   I can tell that by the questions she asks me.   She always spends a lot of time on my hair.  But this day, there was quite a definite audible sigh at the end of her question,  “So what are we doing with you hair today, Lyn?”  Oh, she tried her best to muster up some enthusiasm, but it just wasn’t working.  I thought to myself, this woman needs to close up shop.
I am constantly amazed by the grueling schedule that my daughter, her husband and their three small children have to adhere to.  It leaves them with very little free time.
I don’t know where my daughter-in-law summons up  the energy she needs to dedicate herself to a demanding full time job, keep up, as a single mom, with an energetic 3-1/2 year old and among other things, train for a marathon.
I am impressed by the way my son fits in time to be with his boys as he works an unforgiving 11:30 - 8:00 shift.
When I take a look at all of these situations, I am reminded of the time of my amusement park life.   I have to wonder if it was worth it.   Oh, sure, that is the way of this life.  We certainly have to earn our living.
When I reflect back, though,  I can’t help but ask myself if there could have been some other way.
I clearly remember the exact moment that I decided that I had had enough.
It was Thanksgiving Day, 2001.  Just a few short months after September 11, 2001.  I was hosting dinner for my family.  The table was set.  The turkey was brown and juicy.  The last of the fixin’s were ready to be served.  Everyone was seated.  Just as I sat down, my work beeper went off.
I was on call.  I spent the next four hours on my computer trouble shooting a problem.  Was it a life or death issue?  Not even close.  One of the executives was not receiving his e-mail.
I retired in July of 2002 at age 55.

There are times, I admit, when I think I may have retired too soon.
I remember something my father always used to say…”Where are you going?” I realized on that Thanksgiving day of 2001 just what he meant by that.
So no, I have not one regret of my decision to  retire from life’s loop-de-loop.

I appreciate most of every minute of the serenity of my precious time.  Cause after all, “where am I going?”

What about you?  Where are you going?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Sixth Installment of a Five Week Long Series - Preserving Memories - Tyler’s Birthday, Minions and Big Brother

For the Record
Kenny and Tyler’s Visit
June 22 - July 27, 2014

Writing this on Friday, July 11. 


It’s the end of week three of Kenny and Tyler’s visit here.  This morning Jimmy will take them back to his house. 
On Monday, we picked the boys up from my daughter’s and brought them back to our house for the week.  My sister Johanna was up visiting from Virginia.  We took the boys to the  beach in the afternoon.  I’ll tell you, and I’ve probably said this before,  it is a chore to get two kids and two old people ready to go to the beach.  The old people I’m referring to is me and Ross not you Johanna. 
Anyway, we had to take two cars which were loaded up with all of the beach paraphernalia. 
The traffic was horrible on the island.  There were sirens, ambulances, and firetrucks flying down the boulevard.  
Luckily, we were going in the opposite direction.  (I later found out that there was a three alarm fire in one of the professional buildings on the main drag. )
Okay, so we get to our favorite beach, and the parking lot was pretty empty.  My first thought was that we were so lucky to have our pick of spots.  
It took us at least 5 minutes to unload the cars and then load us up with all of the stuff.  
As we were walking up the ramp to the beach, we passed a woman who was coming off the beach.  She told us to forget the umbrella because we would not be able to set it up.  “It’s too windy,” she said. 
She was right.  The wind was the kind that whips the sand up in the air shooting pellets of stinging granules into your face, arms and legs. 
The boys had already started to run down to the water.  I had to call to them to turn around and we trudged back up with all of our stuff and re-loaded the cars, which were now the only two cars in the parking lot.    
The boys were disappointed, but we took them to the pool when we got home and they were happy about that. 

Tuesday was Tyler’s fifth birthday.   We had a few little things for him to open when he woke up.
There will be a party for him on Saturday.  
My son-in-law came down with Bella and Ryan.   Ross met them at the beach with Tyler and Kenny.   (I had a doctor’s appointment.)  This day there was no wind  but the ocean was too icy cold for them to spend much time in the water. 
So they had fun in the sand instead.
From Left to Right
Kenny, Tyler, Ryan and Bella
The shoveler is Derek
Later that evening, Tyler was excited for his father to come home with his birthday present. So  excited that he, with a lot of encouragement from his brother, was able to keep those little eyes from closing until Jimmy got here. 
The birthday present was a Disney interactive video game called  “Infinity”.  Apparently, there are different play sets which you purchase separately.  Ty wanted the characters  which are based on the Toy Story movie. 

It was a good gift, especially since it has multiplayer capabilities.   That means he and his brother can play nicely together and there are no arguments.   NOT!  
I try not to get involved and somehow they manage to work it out between themselves.  

Wednesday, the weather was unpredictable.  I took the boys to the pool and as soon as they got into the water, it started to rain.   Fortunately, our community has an indoor pool.   With the help of their private swim coach, Pop-pop, the boys continue to make progress with their swimming.  

Thursday was another cloudy day.  So, it was the indoor pool again.  Later in the afternoon we took the boys to the local amusement park on the island.   However, we got there an hour before the rides opened.   But, there is an indoor arcade.   
I have to say, arcades just aren’t what they used to be when my kids were young.  
Now, they are like mini Casinos.  Bright flashing neon lights which attract the kids to games they are too young to understand.  They even have “slot” machines.  There are hardly any more games of skill, like the old pin ball machines.  Instead the walls are lined with those crane games.  
You know the ones where you have to work the crane
to pick up a stuffed toy.  The boys get so frustrated each time the toy drops before it gets to the shute. 
After putting in $10.00 worth of quarters, Kenny finally managed to “win” a stuffed toy Minion, which I am sure was worth no more than twenty-five cents.  
Then, of course, Ty got upset because he didn’t win one.  Kenny begged to try “just once more”.  He wanted to win one for his brother.  After another $10 worth of “just once mores”,  I said, “Okay, that’s it.”

As we went back out into the park, just in time for the rides to open, it started to rain.   So no rides this day.

On the way home there was a lot of commotion in the back seat.  Tyler was still upset about not “ winning” a toy.   Apparently, there were complicated negotiations going on about sharing the Minion.   I’m not sure what the outcome was.   Like I said, I try to stay out of it and let them work it out themselves. 

One of the things that Kenny and I share is a love of the TV show “Big Brother.”   I think it’s remarkable that he knows the names of all of the houseguests and that he has his favorites.   
As we were watching the live show last night, he was on the edge of his seat, hoping that his “guy” Zach, would not get voted off.   
He was cheering when the other houseguest Paola was sent home instead.   He told me that he wants to go on Big Brother. 
Now, the boys are packed up and it’s time once again for hugs and good-byes, and waves out the car window until next week. 

PS: I found a pattern on Ravelry for Minion hats.  The boys were thrilled when I told them I would knit one for each of them. 

   

Friday, July 4, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Fifth Installment of a Five Week Long Series - Preserving Memories Grandma’s World & ET Phone Home

For the Record
Kenny and Tyler’s Visit
June 22 - July 27, 2014

Writing this on Friday July 4


Kenny and Ty spent time with their cousins over last weekend.  Friday night they were with Domani at their grandfather’s house.  It was Christmas in June for the boys with Aunt Anne. 
Jimmy in the Rocker
Aunt Anne Sitting Crossed Legged on the Floor
Kenny and Tyler Opening Gifts
Domani is in the Green Shirt

They spent Sunday night with Bella, Ryan and Jackson at Aunt Jen’s and Uncle Derek’s. 

While they were with Bella and Ryan they learned that they can interact with each other playing  the computer game called Minecraft on their iPads. 
Bella Curled up in the Corner
Ryan in the Green Striped Shirt
Tyler in the Red Shirt
Kenny in the Blue Shirt
When they got to our house on Monday, they were no longer able to “connect” with each other. 
Now, for a person of my generation I consider myself to be a little more computer savvy than some of my peers.   

When I looked at this game, I was totally baffled by it.
 All I can say is HUH?  
But, I was able to figure out how to configure the network settings on their iPads to allow them to enter each other’s Minecraft world’s. 
I told them that I was going to learn how to play so that they would be able to enter Grandma’s world.
Now they keep asking when they can go to Grandma’s world.   

On Tuesday, for a change of pace, we took the boys to the bay beach.  Although it was stinking hot that day, there was a breeze by the water.   We told the kids that they could bring their super duper water guns with them.  
Ross and I never go to the bay beach.  We prefer ocean side.  
We got to the bay around noon time and it was jammed packed with little kids and their parents.    We quickly understood why the bay beach is popular with this crowd. There is a fairly large fenced off area where the water is very shallow and the beach is guarded. 
The first thing we found out was that squirt guns were not allowed.   But, the boys headed right into the water.  They played for a short while but were not able to “swim” like they do in the pool.  They quickly got bored. 


We left there, went back home and they went in the pool for a short while. 

In the afternoon on Wednesday the boys wanted to watch a movie.  They were arguing over which one to watch.  Kenny wanted to watch Harry Potter.  Tyler didn’t.  
I asked them if they had ever seen ET.  They hadn’t. 
I tried to convince them that it was the best movie ever!  I assured them that they would love it.  I told them that I had taken their father to see it when he was a little kid.  I asked them to try a preview and just watch it for a little while.  I told them if they didn’t like it, they could watch something else. 
I learned a little something about Kenny that day.  He can be quite stubborn.
Tyler was agreeable to it.  Kenny refused.  He kept putting a pillow over his eyes so that he wouldn’t be able to see the TV.   
What I found interesting was that even though he put the pillow down as soon as the movie started and it was obvious that he was being pulled into it, he refused to admit that he was enjoying it.   
Since Kenny has been up late, waiting for his father to get home, he has been falling asleep in the afternoon and naps for about an hour or so.  And, he fell asleep in the middle of the movie. 
Tyler, though, stayed awake through the whole thing.  
At the end he said, “That sure was a long preview!”
I keep asking Kenny if he wants to watch the rest of ET.  Stubbornly, he says no. 
Because of the holiday, Jimmy has a nice long three day weekend.   Yesterday, before he and the boys left to go back to Jimmy’s house, we took the kids to the pool.  
Those boys just cannot get enough of their father.  

The week flew by.   There were arts and crafts and “Go Fish”  card games with Pop-Pop.

 They like to hear the poems I read to them from Shel Silverstein’s “Where The Sidewalk Ends.”

So far the weather has been perfect every day for time at the pool.  Ross has been slowly and patiently  teaching the boys how to float on their backs, do the dead man’s float, and blow bubbles.  Tyler is a little more persistent than Kenny.  But they both try hard.  He thinks that by the end of their visit they will each know how to swim. 
I’ll be right here.


Today, it’s raining here as a result from the backlash of Hurricane Arthur.  We have no plans.  Maybe I’ll watch ET again.  That movie still makes me feel all mushy.  
Kenny, I hope you will finish watching it someday.  



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Just Like Greta Garbo - I Just Want To Be Alone

I have been discovered…again.   I have been enjoying my apparent anonymity for probably over a year now.   It’s been working out quite nicely. I have been able to coast along, unnoticed.  
 I thought I had figured out how to avoid and dodge them and keep them at bay.
But, for the past three days, I have been harassed, harangued, used and abused.
This was what was in my mailbox today:
That 301 number?  That is the number of spam comments I received on my last post.  They all came in today and they are all from the same “person". 

I had my comment option set to allow all comments, even anonymous, but to moderate comments after my post was 2 days old.   That method worked because usually the spammers would pick older posts. 

Now, because of this one spammer,  I have had to change the comment option to moderate all comments.  This means that my mailbox is being blasted.  I wish Blogger would have an option to “Not Allow” comments from “Anonymous”.

I really don’t want to have to turn on Captcha

I’m angry and annoyed. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  From anyone but you, Spammer BOT!

BTW, Today is my birthday.  Yay! 






Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Fourth Installment of a Five Week Long Series - Preserving Memories - Sharks & Green Vampire Teeth

For the Record
Kenny and Tyler’s Visit
June 22 - July 27, 2014

Writing this on Sunday June 29


On Thursday June 26 we took the boys to the Point Pleasant Beach Aquarium.  It’s right on the board walk.  When we got in sight of the amusement area they both wanted to know, “What is this place?”  I told them it’s the boardwalk.  They said in unison, “What’s that?”  
Hmm, it’s clearly obvious that these kids need to have much more schooling in Jersey culture.  
When we got onto the boardwalk, they didn’t know what to look at first.  If you’ve never been to a Jersey boardwalk, it is most definitely an attack on all of the senses. 

Even though the aquarium is not large, it has enough attractions to hold the boys’ attention.  
They were most interested in the scuba divers, turtles, squid, jelly fish, poison dart frogs and of course the sharks. 
After the tour of the aquarium and a bite to eat, the kids wanted to know if they could go on the rides and go into one of the arcades.  I told them they could pick one or the other.  They chose the arcade.  On the way to the arcade, they asked if they could each get a tattoo.  
Hey, we are the grandparents, we only get to see them a couple of times a year.   Of course we said, “Yes you can each get a tattoo.  Do you want the red and black snake or the green tarantula?”  Kenny chose a dragon and Ty picked the spider. 


In the arcade, because they are only 5 and 6, most of the games were beyond their reach, both physically and mentally.  But we did manage to find a couple they could play.  They were thrilled when, whatever game they were playing, would spit out prize tickets.  
I tried my hand at ski ball and I managed to rack up a nice amount of tickets. 
After an hour we told them it was time to cash in our tickets so that we could redeem them for wonderful and exciting prizes. 
I think they got the most enjoyment from feeding the tickets into the redemption machine.


Let’s see the prizes they picked were fake mustaches and green vampire teeth. 


Friday, June 27

Jimmy has off on Fridays. 

My heart is warmed to see him with his boys.

So, Jimmy took the kids to his house for the weekend.   We’ll get to have them with us again on Monday. 

Okay, yeah we admit it, we needed a little rest.  


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kenny and Tyler’s Visit - The Third Installment of a Five Week Series - Preserving Memories Mummies and Tough Love

For the Record
Kenny and Tyler’s Visit
June 22 - July 27, 2014

Writing this on Saturday June 28


I am pretty sure that Kenny and Ty won’t remember this time many years from now. 
These posts will be for them to read when that time comes.

We have fallen into somewhat of a routine.  The boys seem happy.  I’m glad about that.  We were worried that since this was their first long visit, they would be uncomfortable and have homesick issues.  But, so far so good. 

The weather on Tuesday started out looking iffy.   There were heavy low clouds.   The air was oppressive.   I decided that I would take the kids to the craft store to get paint for their pine cones.  Apparently,  Ross decided this would be a good rainy day activity for them.
I also wanted to treat each of them to a new pair of sneakers, and then stop at  “Five Below”.  They carry all kinds of stuff priced at under $5.00.  I thought they could find pool/beach type toys there.
Okay, I will admit it.  The shopping trip was exhausting for me.  It’s been a long while since I have  had to get little kids in and out of car seats.  Climbing in the back seat, trying to get the seat buckle in, making sure everything is secure may be easy for young parents, but let me tell you, it was a chore for this grandma.
They know how to unbuckle themselves and get out of the car.  As soon as I stopped the car, one kid would go out one door, the other out the opposite door. Then I would frantically try to gather them both together to make sure they didn’t go running out into the lot while someone was pulling in or out of their parking space.
So by the end of the trip, Ty had gotten his finger caught in the door latch, I started to drive away with my hatch back door open and I ran up and over a curb.  Crunch!
Yeah, exhausting!
In the afternoon the clouds disappeared and we were able to spend a couple of hours at the pool.
As I was sitting on the edge of the pool, (Ross was in the pool with the kids) I began to notice how all of the grandparents were chanting the same cheers.
“Good job, Susie!”  “That’s it Johnny, you’re doing great.”  “Okay, see if you can swim all the way over to the other side and back.” “Come on Bella, you can do it!”
Except, that is for this one lady. Her’s went something like this:
“What’s the matter with you! Put your face in the water!   Don’t be stupid.  How do you think you’re gonna drown with the life guard there and all of these people around.  Now swim!”
Ay yii yii, grandma!
Well, who knows maybe that kid will be the first one to learn to swim.  Tough love?
We spent Wednesday at the pool again.  When the kids get out of the pool now,  they want Pop-pop to “make me a mummy.”  It has become part of the routine.
Hard as they tried, the kids could not stay awake to greet their father Tuesday or Wednesday night. They fell asleep on the floor, side by side, with pillows under their heads, and wrapped in an afghan.
When Jimmy got home, he picked them up, cradled them in his arms and carried them into their beds.