Thursday, March 2, 2017

A week with the kiddos

Staying with the kiddos while mom and dad vacation in Maui hasn't been a problem.
Cael holding still as Capt. Kirk
I somehow raised six children so I know the basics.
But what's interesting to me is that no matter how well I've planned or prepared, there are mini-disasters that test my ability to come through like a super grandma.
I really prepared.
I made menus, froze a couple of meals ahead, laid in extra supplies of cookies and snacks.
I outlined a sleeping plan with each child to his or her own room.
I made a flow chart that read a little like a train at 8 for Hannah, kindergarten at noon for Mia, ACT class on Wednesday, dance on Monday.
I had my writing work all caught up and freed myself from a variety of tasks.
I planned a few outings and adventures.
And we were mostly good...
- except for the day we went to buy Bundt cakes for teacher appreciation day. The store ran out of samples before Cael got one so we had to wait around in the front where there were all kinds of glass dishes and display items. When Cael finally got his chocolate chip cake sample, he dropped it on the floor. He picked up what he could before I could stop him and took a bite. "Yucky!" he said and threw it back down.
- except when we discovered the girls needed to dress like superheroes on Thursday and here I was without access to a fabric store and a good idea. I dug through my costumes. I had an ancient Princess Leia costume that would fit Mia but nothing for Hannah. "That's OK," she said, "You could just make me a cape or something." (We came up with her big sister's Red Riding Hood cape and some nerdy glasses so she could pretend to be Supergirl's everyday persona..) The disaster came after we had Mia's hair in Princess Leia buns and tried on the costume. The pants were 5 inches too long...Emergency stitching!)
- except for the day I heard some anxious cries..."Gramma! We can't get out! Gramma!" The doorknob to Cael's bedroom was slipping around and not engaging. We had to do the screwdriver operation for a day or so.
Nothing like peering through the doorknob holes and making eye contact with a 3-year-old who wants you to get him out.
- The best part, however, was when we were trying to watch "Supergirl" so Hannah could see what Kara looks like. It was way more violent than we all expected so I asked the girls if we should turn it off.
"That's OK, gramma," said Mia. "We can just say a lot of prayers!"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

OVO bugs and bendy things

The ants play with their food in OVO

The red ants, the cockroaches, jumping spiders and walking sticks that crawl, roll and wiggled their way into The Maverick Center Wednesday night haven't been told that most of the things they do are, in fact, impossible to do.
People and insects don't bend that way. They can probably jump that high but to land in a heap without injury is a real trick.
To see the "OVO" show is to accept an invitation to live in the chaotic, wild world of tiny creatures for a couple of hours, a world where something wooly called a "Creatura" folds, flops over, shrinks and peers about with no discernible substance to it.
It's a world that is filled with stunts performed by artists who can walk on the tight wire bearing a chair or a cycle with no hesitation, artists who fly through the air and disappear into the floor with no apparent effort.
Acrobats swing and catch hold and release with no worry as to whether somebody is going to catch them. They're fearless.
This is a show of talent and song and dance and color.
The costuming alone is stunning, from the blue-colored, spiky insect who shows up dragging the egg he found to the green grasshoppers and spinning spiders.
The egg they've found has everybody curious along with the audience.
As they attempt to understand it, OVO becomes basically a series of inventive circus acts that defy physics.
There's really no narrative but it's fairly simple to follow the "story" if one doesn't insist on it all making sense.
The insects are curious.
The Ladybug and friends
They hop, jump, climb and dance — even sword fight with imaginary swords and war over females — without stopping.
Right off, the industrious-minded ants twirl and juggle giant kiwi and corn cobs with their feet.
They spin food discs like pizza.
Which way to bend?
A yo-yo trickster does the splits as he send the yo-yo wheels 50 feet into the air (one, two, three and four at once!).
Youngsters and teens and adults will like this although really little kids will cotton to some parts more than others.
OVO is different. It's colorful. The choreography is bold, the performers are skilled, doing tricks that amaze and make one gasp, especially in the second half.
There's plenty to marvel at, from the tarantula to the wall-climbers.
It's also a chance to see where working hard in gymnastics class can pay off someday.
OVO is in town through the 26th with tickets costing between $25 for children and $39-$135 for adults. More information available at the website: Be aware parking is $10 a car and it takes forever to get out of the lot after the show.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Scorekeeping and science

I hope I didn't dash anyone's dreams last night.
I helped judge a science fair and it was a challenge for me.
Not that I don't understand basic science and how to make a decent presentation. (I'm the kid who made a whole solar system out of salt dough and toothpicks, after all!)
But weighing the pros and cons of 10 projects that all looked to me like tons of work is difficult.
I wanted to give every one 100 points.
But there were barriers to that kind of outcome.
First of all, I was working from a smart device that was challenging me.
To be fair, I showed up late for the training so the people showing me the ropes had to hurry and gloss over the finer points.
I learned to get onto the Wifi and to pull up the judging form.
I understood there were 100 points possible and I knew I wasn't supposed to be a scary judge. I was also told NOT to give everybody the maximum points.
What I didn't know was what to do with situations like where no one showed up. After I put down a zero for those missing projects, someone made an announcement on the overhead speaker: "Please do NOT put a zero for missing projects. It messes up our system."
(When I told the guy in charge I'd already done that twice, he sighed. "It's okay. Someone always does that. I'll fix it.")
I also couldn't figure out how to put subjective impressions into numerical conclusions.
There were several projects I liked because they were more fun than most of the others. One pair of girls had made what they called a "Fidget Phone," designed to give your fingers something to do while you're waiting for a test, a lecturer to finish or a light to change.
I also enjoyed a project about using the Golden Mean to measure beauty.
I thought that was creative but did it beat the guy's 5-foot tall poster about an obscure gene that predicts cancer?
Did fish feces fed to plants mean more in the long run than whether or not distilled water froze better and harder than soft and hard water?
What about the fact that when plants were subjected to heavy metal music, they withered and died?
How about the kid who decided it didn't matter if you stayed up late the night before a test. "It doesn't affect me," he said, "or my friends." He had spent one whole evening measuring the effect.
I did my best.
I listened.
I read the boards.
I looked at the pictures and the charts.
I tried to sense whether the kids competing really learned very much from their experiements and effort.
At the same time, I tried to avoid losing the judging form into cyberspace.
We had to leave before I heard the final results and I can't help but worry a little.
What if I've nipped an Einstein in the bud?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Checking it out....

I almost didn't do it.
I felt a little sheepish as I headed to the elementary school to check one of my granddaughters out for a visit to the bakery.
She'd won a participation prize in the school art contest and couldn't wait to collect it.
Her mom hadn't had the chance to take her to get it. (Besides which she had three other children to consider who hadn't won a prize.)
So I had offered to take her.
I'm usually running around doing errands about that time and it would be easy for me to get her and take her.
But as I approached the school I began to think about what I would say if the office personnel asked me why I was taking her out.
It wasn't a wholly legitimate thing. She didn't have to see a doctor or a dentist or anything like that.
She'd only miss about a half hour of school but I didn't want to make her think I don't consider going to school very important.
Fortunately, no one asked me why I wanted to check her out.
The lady at the desk simply said, "She'll be down in a minute."
I went over to the stairs to meet her and found this 8-year-old girl flying down the hall with a huge grin on her face.
She was absolutely thrilled.
I hadn't told her I was coming so when she heard her name on the overhead speaker she was surprised.
She grabbed her backpack and headed for the door but not before telling her friends she was getting checked out.
They were all jealous, she said.
She grooved on it.
She told me it had been the most boring day of school ever up until then.
She said they weren't doing anything important and, in fact, she said usually they all got in trouble during the last part of the day. Kids would misbehave and then everybody in the class ended up having to put their heads down on the desks "when it wasn't even their fault!"
She thanked me over and over.
We had a good time.
So I'm happy I went ahead and got her. I'm glad I could spare her that heads-down experience.
The question is, what about tomorrow?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Things that go bump...

I heard an odd crunch as I backed my car out of the parking space at UVU.
Since there was a lot of snow on the road and more piled up behind the lot plus construction fencing spread out along the way, I figured I had run over a lump of ice. I was headed for an important interview, focused on my mission, so I drove away.
Fortunately, there was no one else involved. Just me and my car.
I had hoped to be able to park at the space reserved for electric vehicles and not only power up my little Nissan Leaf while I was doing the interview but also save me from having to pay to park.
It was not be be.
The charge space was not free as it once was. I had to have a Charge Point card or one of several other options. I didn't have any of them with me.
So I gave up the quest and decided to go on around to the north side of campus to the parking garage.
But again, as I backed up, I heard this funny sound. I looked all around, seeing nothing, no one.
It wasn't until much later that I looked at the back of my car.
It looked a little funny.
I turned on the garage lights and opened the door.
There was the little concave area that didn't use to be there. I noticed a couple of scratches and scrapes.
I obviously had collided with something solid, maybe solid ice?
I sighed.
Now I once again had to tell Marc I'd dented our little car. That's twice now in two years.
I had to call State Farm again, go back to the body shop again, pay out several hundred dollars again.
I've been without my car for several days. I'm having to learn to ask friends for favors.
I am sure I'll be paying more for my insurance for the next couple of years.
This is not a habit I wish to develop.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hopping along with Frog and Toad

Just one cookie more!

If you're looking for something to do that'll break up the winter doldrums, consider buying a ticket to see "Frog and Toad" at the SCERA Center for the Arts.
It's playing now until January 21 and is perfect for kids and families, especially fans of the Arnold Lobel books.
I took three grandchildren, ages 8-11, and they loved it.
So did I.
Shawn Mortensen plays a great Frog, trying to break out of hibernation and bring Toad along with him to swim, picnic and try new things.
Eric Smith is Toad with wide eyes and a chin that juts out when he's making a point.
Toad is certain that nothing will go quite right.
He's worried about it all. He, for instance, assumes he's dead when he falls out of the sled at the bottom of the hill. He's quite amazed when his kite actually flies. (It's a neat special effect.)
He is waiting patiently for a letter for the whole year and the whole show.
Frog and Toad go throughout that year, sharing adventures that are simple but challenging: sledding, raking leaves, celebrating Christmas, eating cookies! (Thank goodness, the SCERA offers five cookies for $2 at intermission.)
The show is a delight.
It's clever, funny and when the snail finally delivers the mail at the end of the story, it's so rewarding.
(Actually, every time the snail (played by Andrew Walsh) comes on stage, it's sweet.)
The great and terrible meany toad is just menacing enough to be a little scary but obviously just a giant balloon so children don't have to worry.
The thunder and lightning storm is actually kind of fun to watch.
The birds and squirrels who wreak a little havoc with Frog and Toad's yards are harmless.
Mortensen and Smith clearly have fun playing their parts and bringing these two friends to life.
The colors are bright. The set is cute; a couple of little houses with comfortable beds, a broken clock, chairs, presents and an oven for baking cookies.
The songs are easy to enjoy, easy to remember. My grandchildren are still singing the snail's mail song!
I recommend this.

My flight got cancelled

Once we figured out that Marc's son was in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood airport at the time of the shooting, we started to become concerned.
Was he all right?
Was he in the baggage claim area when the guy who hauled off and started randomly shooting people opened fire?
Was he traumatized?
Did he fear for his life?
We were expecting him and his girlfriend at our house for a family party Saturday. They were late so Marc tried to call him.
He didn't pick up but he texted.
"I'm in Ft. Lauderdale for work and my flight got cancelled," he wrote.
No more than that.
Later on, he said he thought he would have to try and get to Jacksonville to catch a flight out. He ended up driving more than five hours to get there and flew all night to reach Salt Lake.
He was so very understated.
After he finally got to our house, the story came out in bits.
He HAD been in the airport at the very time when bullets started flying.
He HAD been checking his luggage when he heard noise, commotion and shots.
He HAD taken cover with fellow travelers who hid out in the bathrooms, behind counters and under desks.
He HAD been delayed for seven hours until he and all the other passengers in the airport could be interviewed and cleared to leave.
"It was no big deal," he said. "What could I do about it? Why talk about it?"
Oh, I don't know.
Just because he's safe and sound and alive to tell the tale?