grandmas

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A tree house for Mia

Mia wants a tree house but she needs a tree...and some wood, some nails and a ladder.
She has it all worked out in her 5-year-old mind.
She is a problem solver.
She has seen a tree house like she wants at her friend's house.
It's cozy and up in the air and she can take cookies up there.
The main obstacle is the absence of a tree.
There used to be a tree in Mia's backyard but it was a mean tree with thorns and a rough scaly trunk.
Her dad cut it down to keep kids from scratching their legs as they attempted to climb it and because it was very old and leaning dangerously in the wind.
It now makes for an interesting stump to jump on.
So Mia is searching for a new tree.
She asked me if she could use our tree, looking at me with hope in her big blue eyes.
We have a cottonwood in the back that has some potential as far as she can understand it.
It's tall. It has lots of branches and it's right here in Grandma and Grandpa's yard.
She knows I would help her.
We went out to look at it.
Hmm. Most of the branches didn't look up to the task.
I told this to Mia.
She dismissed my concerns.
"I know where you keep your wood. We can put it up there and then try it. You could get some nails and a ladder and I could climb up there!" she said.
I sighed.
I asked Marc about it.
He was aghast and he fears for our precious tree.
"Mia might just have to do without a tree house," he said, looking at me pointedly.
Ok.
Fine.
I'll just have one more surveying look. Maybe if we propped a piece of plywood on the lower branch or hung a kind of hammock between two of the stronger ones?
Maybe a double-decker?


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A roller coaster ride...

As a rule, I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to roller coasters.
I like mine to be sort of leisurely with limited surprises.
So when we went to Orlando this past month I had to buck up a little.
I only agreed to ride the Rip Ride Rocket because my grandson really wanted me to. "You'll like it, gramma!" Jack promised. (He'd never been on it but he was sure about how much I'd like it.)
Not your grandma's ride
I went on the Dragon Challenge at Diagon Alley because I thought it was the benign Hippogryff ride I've been on several years earlier.
Wrong!
Watch out, the monster's torn out the track!
I rode backwards in the dark at high speed on the Everest Expedition because no one told me I'd be doing that after the Abominable Snowman wrecked the track.
Stomach dropper!
This is grandma's ride!
In all I figure we went on more than a dozen roller coasters — mostly back to back and several involving getting soaked — during the week I was in Univeral Studios and Disney World.
I'm pretty sure my doctor would not have approved. He's been concerned about my spinal cord for a while now.
But "Big Thunder Railroad" is a keeper. So is Space Mountain.
I love "The Hulk" because it shoots me out fast and I don't have time to panic. (The California Screamer is similar.)
The Gringotts bank ride is quick.
As we journeyed from line to line and thrill to thrill I tried to be a sport but I drew the line at Transformers and again at The Mummy ride. The Tonight Show ride through New York was sold out until 8 p.m. so I didn't get to form an opinion on it.
I thought for a senior citizen I gave it all a fair shot.
After all, I won't ride Wicked at Lagoon or the new Cannibal ride because I have a lot of time to reconsider my choices as the cars are pulled up the hill.
I prefer the Bat where you just sort of drift around in the sky.
In Florida, I liked the Hogwarts Express because you stay on the ground and the African Safari because the bouncy jeep we rode it was rugged and dependable.
I found I could mostly work with a scary coaster by closing my eyes all the way through or pushing up against the back rest really hard.
Or I could ride the bench and watch the others get knocked around and drop-kicked.
That's my kind of fun.
Right off the edge!
Holy smoke!
It looks scary and it is.
Rocking and rolling...
The Hulk is a keeper!








Monday, April 24, 2017

Ski season


Conner and Brayden at Brighton

Adell on the downhill
Poor Marc.
This winter he had to go skiing time after time in order to get all the grandkids who wanted to try the sport on the hill.
He had to log more ski miles this year than he's covered in years.
This 65-year-old grandpa did the improbable.
He had 11-year-old Adell who qualified for the program for 5th/6th graders that allowed a child to ski three times at each of the local resorts for a $35 fee.
In order to capitalize on her passport, he felt he needed to get her on the hill as much as he could.
He had Brayden, the senior who was just coming into his own on his snowboard.
Marc wanted to get him up on the powder so he could try out his newly honed skills.
He had Conner, the younger brother, who wanted to try it.
And you can't go just once.
Skiing demands a time or two — minimum — after the first go.
So Marc simply had to keep loading up the ski-rack and driving up the hill.
He even had to buy a new pair of skis and replace the ski boots that have become outdated and tight.
He had to pay the high prices for lunch at the lodge.
And I had to support him taking whole days here and there while I warmed the home fires.
(I didn't mind because my skiing days ended when I blew out a knee several years back. I like the fact that he can get some quality time with some grandkids as well.)
Happy skiers
So now that the snow is melting and we're turning back to biking and visits to the zoo, I'm a little sad.
It came and went really fast.
We do, however, have the photos!
Tough duty I say!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Upping my game


I've had to improve my smashing and bashing skills since Cael discovered Rampage! in our ancient video game collection.
He's 3 and doesn't like it when I die and ruin the game.
So I've had to learn to kick, grab and jump up and down on the buildings in Salt Lake City, Denver, Madrid, Los Angeles and Barcelona.
I have to pay attention to where the food is and make sure I don't run out of energy as we go along.
Cael also has a problem with my character punching his or getting tangled up with him as he tries to climb a skyscraper.
The problem is I didn't pay enough attention when my sons were playing this game years ago.
Usually I just wanted them to turn it off because the monsters make all kinds of noise as they destroy virtual communities.
(This is for a game we've had for 30 years!)
Cael and I are usually here alone when he comes to visit so I can't just rely on his older sister to help me.
She has shown me the codes to enter so I can get a stronger guy to do my destroying and Cael waits patiently while I input the letters and numbers.
But despite my best efforts, I still die too soon.
I'll be playing along trying not to get shot down or injured by fire and flying bullets when Cael will suddenly wilt in his banana chair.
"Died!" he'll cry. "Died!"
He means I died and it kind of puts a damper on our game as one player is left to finish knocking down buildings.
I've decided I will add in some practice time when he's not here and upgrade my game.
Instead of cleaning and cooking and writing stories, I will work on my kicking holes in the walls and plucking hapless people out of windows.
After all, that's the least a good grandma can do, right?

Monday, April 17, 2017

A crown of a different color



I paid a hefty sum for our tickets to the Medieval Feast in Orlando, Florida, which I didn't begrudge at the time.
I remembered taking three kids to this joust and dinner about 15 years back and it was entertaining. (You're all shuffled into a long table/seating area and pretty much left to make your way through the chicken and soup and salad with your fingers while knights and horses square off in the sand in the middle of the arena. The King and his daughter choose the victor for the hand of the princess.)
My son remembered it too and he wanted his son to experience the drama, the adventure and the fun.
So we bought tickets well in advance online.
Our knight is the one in yellow and red
We talked about what knight we might get to champion.
On the night of the feast, we arrived an hour early so as to claim good seats and a clear line of view.
(Turns out we were roughly assigned seats depending on how much we spent for our seats.)
When I declined an upgrade, we were summarily handed paper crowns that were red and yellow striped and basically dismissed.
We gathered in the big room where there were drinks for sale and souvenirs with high price tags...chess sets, feather fans, masks and leather-bound journals.
We hung around there killing time until the master of ceremonies starting announcing our entrances.
"Those with VIP tags and gold crowns may enter through the gates!" the man said.
"Those with VIP tags and blue crowns may enter through the gates," he sang.
"Those with VIP tags and silver crowns may now enter through the gates," he continued and on and on he went, inviting those who had spent more money than we to go in first.
One group after another marched through the doors into the arena leaving us with the wrong color crowns standing behind.
It was somewhat humiliating.
We didn't have red crowns or green crowns or blue crowns or black-and-white striped crowns.
We were the lower caste crown folk and it became evident within minutes.
Finally, we were allowed through the double doors but not until we'd been shown the color of money and of the right color crowns and what that could buy.
We ate well.
We saw an impressive show.
My grandson loved the horses, the clanging swords and the colors.
It's an event to remember but you know, somehow I think there's a better way to have done this.




Friday, March 24, 2017

Monkey business


At first glance, Marc and I knew the "Funtopia" place in Lehi was something our grandkids would enjoy.
Hannah conquering her fears
We could easily envision Mia at the top of the plastic tower of blocks. We could see Cael climbing the rope ladders.
Mia monkey
We just weren't sure that Hannah would like it just because she's unpredictable in what she'll try.
But we signed on anyway since we were having them for a week while their parents and oldest sister went to Maui.
It looked like something different and fun.
We signed up Marc as well because he likes to try everything and we might need him to help bring somebody back down once they climbed clear up.
Turns out no one had to do that and in fact, the only one that fell off with a terrific thump was Marc!
My job was to monitor the process.
The only real trouble we had was that Cael, being 3, was a bit too lightweight.
His safety rope kept taking him up when he wanted to stay down or where he was.
Grandpa trying to keep up
Someone had to hang onto him to keep him on top of the blocks.
Cael coming down!
But the attendants were very helpful and one guy even went all the way from block to block hanging onto Cael's safety line so he could reach the top one. (He was a pretty proud little boy!)
Mia is a natural climber with no fear so she had a ball. Up, down, all around.
Hannah had done this once before, sort of.
She'd come to a climbing place with a birthday party group and found herself paralyzed with fear.
This time she was determined to give it an honest go.
During the safety video I noticed she was shaking so I offered her my jacket.
"It's OK," she said, "I'm not cold, just worried."
We progressed and everyone got hooked up to a line and off we went.
Bravely, she started up a wall.
Next thing we knew, she was grinning at us from the top.
She climbed the walls, the ropes and the towers.
She hung from all kinds of contraptions.
She never complained or cried or asked to quit.
I think we have successfully created a monster. (Funtopia is expensive!)
Oh well, that's what grandparents are for, right?

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 schedule...school 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!"