ATOP for WPC 3/19/17

Atop

Well, I’ve never tried posting a short video before but we’ll see if this works. Be forewarned. To YOU it might be gruesome. From my point of view, it is truly amazing!!!

Let me know what you think and if this is cheating. I know it is supposed to be a photo. I’ll post some of those separately!

PS Bummer. It didn’t include the music. This was videoed with Come Together by The Beatles playing loud in the background. Ths bug is climbing in time with the music!!

Ambience for WPC

Ambience

Ahh, to be thirteen again…and to be given complete freedom to decorate my own room. My Dad did that for me so I painted my room white and then, with a pencil, traced circles around plates, cups, and saucers all over my walls. I filled them in with pastel pink, yellow and blue enamel paint. (I also made striped curtains in the same colors.) I loved my room. It was such a peaceful haven in an otherwise tumultuous household. I could shift my mood by closing my door and immersing myself in the ambience I had been allowed to create.

When my son and grandsons moved back in with me I really wanted the boys to feel at home and so of course, passed on the traditional “freedom” to decorate their space.

Here’s a slideshow of how the oldest (13) chose to set up his room. It is filled with the dichotomies of his age and individual personality. I LOVE it! Enjoy the song below while viewing the show. (It reminds me of my Junior High/High school boyfriend, David Taylor!)

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My first reaction to some of his belongings was apprehension. His Dad (my son) was never allowed weapons of any kind, not even toy guns. That really backfired as a parenting stance. But I am not too worried about my grandson. His “weapons” are mostly decorative, and are nicely balanced with his other collections (Pez dispensers, sports stuff, art, guitars, etc.)

Oh and his “stuffies”, many from his babyhood.

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These are his favorite Stuffies; a fluffy elephant (he had one in his crib from day one that played “Imagine”) and his favorite, a “Frankenstein doll”.

My grandson posed in this photo…can you see him?

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A Swing and a Miss!!

OK you win some and you lose some. I get that. But it is so much harder to lose when you have been absolutely convinced that THIS time, it would be a WINNER for SURE!!

I believe that my duties as a grandmother are specifically limited. I do NOT get to “parent” my two amazing grandsons. Julius, who is 13 and Luca, 10 (for another week) depend on me to be that other adult in their lives that has the luxury of coming closer to unconditional love than either of their parents do. Even though they live with their father in my home, I do not have to crack the “do your homework” or “clean your room” whips. That’s their Dad’s job.

My self-imposed duties are clear to me though. I get to love them. I get to watch out for their safety. And my favorite, I get to teach them stuff, especially about our family’s history and traditions…

At Christmas time, it is not part of my job to be the one to give the “big” present each year. Again, that’s my son’s place and I never want to compete or even accidentally outshine him with his boys.

So I go for obscure, non-traditional gifts (no video games) and whenever possible, non-material. Gifts from Gramma are unexpected (sometimes unwanted) and always a bit weird. That’s OK with me. And I know some will land and some will fail! But most will be remembered.

Examples:

3 years ago, I made each a personal (Shutterfly) photo book of their lives so far. I think it got about a C+/B- grade from the boys.

2 years ago, I made them personalized “treasure boxes”. (They’ve always liked that concept). These boxes contained charms and totems and stickers that represented events in their lives. Each box also had a tiny tablet and mini pencil so they could guess, and then write down, what each token in and on their box signified. There was a prize for whoever guessed the most symbols. (Hey, do I know how to harness sibling rivalry or what??)

 

Last year, I gave them (all of us really) a family outing to a very cool local place. Maybe you have something like this in your area. It’s called the Boarding House. I have to admit I have some pretty strong judgments about how inundated our children are these days with all things electronic and technical…especially the whole video gaming addiction…so when I discovered the Boarding House, I was thrilled. It is a store/restaurant that sells almost every “board game” ever invented…not a single electronic game in the place! You can even go in and pick some games to try out at your table while enjoying a damn good meal. (Think the highest class “tavern food” EVER!)

This gift was NOT a hit because when they opened it, they had no idea what it was. They could not even grasp the concept of a game store without their coveted new video games for sale. (not an addiction, my ass!) It took 10 months for them to finally be willing to use their hefty Gramma gift certificate for dinner and games at the Boarding House. I’d say, eventually, this gift earned approximately a B-…but it was like pulling teeth.

This year, I thought I might finally earn an “A”. Oh well, best laid plans and all.

My son likes to expose the boys to a variety of different and special experiences in their lives. Wild and different restaurants. And last year, he bought them 3 piece suits and took them to the SYMPHONY!

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I thought they looked a bit Mafioso but maybe that’s fitting given their strong Italian heritage! 

Remember I said it was my self-imposed duty to teach them about Family Traditions? So, I combined my son’s determination to expose them to new things, and my childhood (and then Michael’s) tradition of weird food in our Christmas stockings, to provide a Christmas morning experience like no other. I knew it would be a HIT!! The boys love all the survival-type tv shows, especially when eating gross stuff is involved. So I did a lot of googling, shopped around, prepared a breakfast table, with a specific food challenge for each! (No crickets or ants involved…we are a Bug Household after all!) see

Here’s what they arrived to find for breakfast.

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mmmm, yummy!

The deal was, they had to read the research I printed about their given fruit, take at least one bite and then go back to the printed material to find a clue for a treasure hunt to their real present. A gift card to their favorite place to shop hidden around the house.

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Guava
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Sugar Cane
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Kumquats 
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Kiwano (Horned Fruit)
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My personal favorite, Buddha’s Hand (Citron family)

Great idea, eh? Expose them to something new. Teach them something old. I was so sure….

I think I earned maybe a D- !!

Oh well. The hidden $50 Amazon cards went some distance to save the day…

 

a few words about yesterday’s calorie filled Wordless Wednesday

If you saw yesterday’s post,

https://chosenperspectives.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/another-wordless-wednesday-slide-show-12-21-16-warning-very-fattening/

then you know my generous friend Michelle has to be one of the world’s best Grandma’s! What she does for her kids and grandkids is amazing!

The photos I posted yesterday are all Christmas decorations. She’s been doing this a while and creates a new one every year. Her rule is they have to be made with primarily “sweets”. So every eyeball, ear, rooftop, face, gown, hand, etc. is made from an edible treat. (NOT that they are eaten!!! Who would DARE after all her work?) Her display grows and grows and I am in complete awe of her dedication to surprising those kids with each new contribution.

img_8194img_8195This Santa is made from marshmallows, licorice and get this…That pink face is BUBBLE GUM. She had to chew it up for the right consistency!

 

img_8196When she did Frozen one year for the girls (above), of course then she had to do R2D2 for the boys next. (below)

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The Fairy House is my favorite. It is this years production! (below)

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This one even has a picnic outside and a Fairy inside and a flickering light (for firelight)!

 

The time it must have taken to attach every single gumdrop, orange slice, M and M, tic tac, jelly bean, Gummy worms, and peppermints, well, I think it’s a wonder. (That is a very small list of examples. She’s always on the lookout for candies that will work in her creations.)

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I’m hoping Michelle will comment (and correct any mistakes I’ve made) and give us all more information about this love-filled “hobby” of hers!

What lucky grandchildren!!

Fluffy, the House Duck

Another post inspired by another of my favorite Bloggers!

Check this out for context…

https://dailymusing57.com/2016/12/01/thursdays-special-pick-a-word-3/

Here’s the story I referred to in my comment to Lisa. A lot of it is the version I wrote when I was 9 or 10 years old, and then I added to it (mostly the sarcasm) at about 15 years old.

But, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now, the rest of the story.”

Fluffy, the House Duck

Having a duck for a pet was NOT my idea in the first place. I was much more of a Lassie or a Rin Tin Tin gal. I couldn’t help it that they had a drawing for a prize the Saturday afternoon before Easter when we were just innocently attending the matinee showing of Pinocchio at the Roxy Theater. I didn’t ask for my very own ticket stub to have the triumphant number, thus making me a winner of something for the first time, ever, in my whole life. I never even intended to be a contestant. I was only seven.

It also wasn’t my fault that I had to carry that squirmy baby duck in one hand and hold onto my squirmy 4-year-old sister with my other. So, who could blame me for dropping that duck, a time or two, on the way home? It was 10 blocks to walk after all. And since I was a first time duck owner, how was I to know that baby duck’s wings were not supposed to stick straight up in the air like this duck’s did; well, after those 3 or 4 drops anyway.

Oh, I guess it was cute enough, all soft and fluffy and yellow, but I had wanted a dog, a BIG dog, my whole entire life. No, I get a duck, with funny broken wings that never did lie flat against its body like they were supposed to. And it never did fly. It mostly just flapped.

Not wanting to invest much of my creative energy in this creature, I just started calling it Fluffy…because it was.

I was the oldest kid which, in our family gave me tons of extra jobs to do, but it also gave me the right to have my very own room. So, if I was going to have to SHARE my room now with a duck, it better not poop and pee everywhere. How was I supposed to know that you couldn’t housebreak a duck? I just did it. It took a few weeks but after it learned, it only pooped in a cardboard box. The whereabouts of the peeing I am less sure.

I’m sure now that my folks thought this duck was a “short timer” because of the broken wings and all. But, it was still in my room, months later, when it had lost all that yellow fuzz and become this pretty brown and iridescent colored animal whose cute little squeak  had disappeared and been replaced with a VERY LOUD quack. It was that quack that must have inspired my Dad to get busy out there in our back yard, creating a duck paradise.

One Sunday morning when I got up, he asked me to come out into the yard. Now see if you can picture this. It was a huge back yard with the requisite San Diego banana trees and citrus trees (lemons so sweet you could peel and eat them like oranges). We also had a swing set, a home made gazebo and two beautiful, flowering Oleander trees, the dangers of which, we had already been taught; (“It’s OK to smell the blossoms, but if the trees are ever on fire, do NOT breathe the smoke.) From the edge of the cement patio, where the garden hose could easily reach, my Dad had dug two trenches out to the Oleander trees. Then he had dug moat-like ponds around each tree and connected those with another trench. This elaborate system of waterways was to be Fluffy’s new home. Finally, it could be a REAL duck (just like Pinocchio had become a real boy). That was the plan anyway.

Well, I guess you can’t teach an old duck new tricks.

Although old Fluff seemed content enough in the daytime to swim around and around those trees, as soon as it would start getting dark, there would be that duck, loudly protesting, on the back porch, until it was let in for the night. So I continued to have a night time roommate…..until one morning when the strangest thing happened.

Fluffy, who, OK, OK, by now, was my pal, had remained non-gender specific. Then, this one morning I woke up and there was a large brownish egg next to Fluffy in her “nest” (which consisted of a bunch of rags in one corner).

I was amazed.

My Mom was appalled.

I think it was some kind of Last Straw. For me, it simply solved the gender question. I was pretty sure it was the girls that laid eggs. From then on there was an egg every morning but no matter how hard I tried to wake up early, not make a move in my bed and to watch, I never was able to witness this amazing feat.

“That damn duck should NOT be in this house!” is what I heard, day and night, and then I heard “well, at least we can eat the eggs.” Of all the nerve! They wanted to EAT the EGGS. AAARGH!! I mean, REALLY! I wasn’t sure why I even cared but hey, I figured, my duck, my eggs. At one point, we actually had 11 eggs in the fridge but they mysteriously disappeared one morning. I don’t even want to think about where they went.

Somewhere along in here, the next door neighbors adopted a HUGE, yellow Tom Cat, biggest one I had ever seen. He roamed the neighborhood pretty freely and this, for some reason, had my normally calm Dad very upset. What happened next, I didn’t even find out about until years later when my father, figuring the statute of limitations was up on Parental Betrayal, told me the whole story.

Evidently, Daddy was extremely worried that I would be wounded beyond healing if one day while Fluffy was paddling around in the back yard, that big old yellow cat stopped by for a meal. So, plotting with my mother and all my younger sisters (it seems I was to be betrayed by my entire family) they came up with a plan.

One Saturday morning they told me that due to my “oldest kid privileges”, I got to go to Story Time at the public library. (The trick they were about to play on me was dirty enough without using that big gun to get me to cooperate.) I was dropped off and told they would be back for me in 2 hours. I thought I was pretty hot stuff. Not even 8 years old yet, but old enough to go to the library all by myself. Their sinister plan was to charge back to the house, capture my duck and take her to Balboa Park up by the zoo where all the wild ducks wandered free. This actually was a well-intentioned plan. They thought it would be easier for me to recover from the inevitable loss of my duck if I was told she had a miraculous cure, her broken wings magically repaired, and she simply flew away while I was at Story time.

Nice try Dad.

The tale he confessed years later went like this. They all drove to a secluded place in the park where there was a pond and lots of city ducks. Dad, with my pal Fluffy under his arm, my traitorous family sitting in the car watching, walked out across the expanse of lawn toward the pond. He said a few words of good-bye, and tossed my duck toward the water. Satisfied that he had done his duty as a loving, protective father, he turned to walk back to the car.

Well, Fluffy was having none of this. She duck-waddled after Dad until she caught up with him, and then pacing herself to stay even with him, calmly followed him back to the car.

This could be a very long story. Let me just say that after several attempts, Dad gave up, and they brought Fluffy back home. Hey, imprinting is imprinting and like I said before, you can’t teach an old duck….

I think I had fluffy until I was about ten. She eventually learned to live outside, day and night. I was finally convinced that we shouldn’t waste her eggs, and duck egg omelets became a weekly treat. And ultimately, just as my Dad had feared, that damn orange cat got her.

But, I tell you what. She was my pal and what I know now is that she was an extremely unique duck. Not a bad first pet. Not bad at all.

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That’s me in the center…clearly in love with my duck! (also pictured are neighbor girl and my sister, Eileen)