Friday, June 24, 2016

Got Toddlers?

I'll be taking July off from blogging. It's going to be a busy fun filled month with company coming and all. But here's something those of you with toddlers, or memories of toddlers, might enjoy. As you may suspect, I wrote it for publication and it never was. Still, the message holds. 

See you in August and I'm thinking Contest! 

Teachable Toddlers

The thing about toddlers is – they don’t know a lot yet. Their lives for the next several years will be a colorful string of teachable moments. Grandparents have an important roll to play in unraveling some of that string. We’ve had six little sweethearts to help along this road. I’ve cataloged some of the moments that you may also have experienced. Here is what I’d love to tell those sweethearts – if only they’d listen. Um – their parents, our sons, didn’t, but there’s always hope for a new generation, right?

Dear Precious Toddler,

If we’re having a great time making a mess with cupcake frosting and I have to step into the pantry for eight seconds – I’m not leaving you forever! Really. If you follow me I’ll be turned around and on my way back before you can blink your big brown eyes and there could be trouble. We may run smack right into each other and get matching  owies – my knee and your forehead. How about I sing “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” for the whole eight seconds while I grab the food coloring. We need more blue. You stay in your chair and sing along.  

When Grandpa is sitting nice and comfy in his recliner, smiling and waiting to read your favorite princess story, you’ll want to dash into his arms. But watch out! Grandpa has big feet and chances are you’ll get to them before you get to his lap. Then, Kawump! Over  you’ll go. Grandpa will do his best to catch you, but it’s better to slow down and stop when you get to his fat laced up sneakers. The story will still be there when you do.

The difference between loading and unloading the dishwasher is very important. What a big boy you are wanting to help me do both, but mostly I’ll need you to help me put things In. We have to put them all in before we shut the door, too, with the rack all the way back. When the dishwasher is all done washing the dishes we’ll take them Out. I know just where they go in the cupboards. There’s no need to unload them onto the floor first.

Dog food and cat food isn’t that good for you. The bag it comes in is colorful and that doggy or kitty on the front is so cute. But it’s for animals. People eat different food. I know the dog sets a particularly bad example of how to eat – gobbling the way he does. It even looks like fun. Pay no attention to him. And you may think the cat is finicky, she is, but don’t try to share the tuna shreds in gravy with her. It won’t end well. She won’t eat them just because you do. How about crackers and juice instead? For you, I mean.  

So, the next time you visit Grandma, we’ll go over this list. Okay?

See you soon!

These scenarios happen in every generation. The only joy in them is seeing it repeated with a new batch of toddlers – not mine. The best we can hope for, I guess, is that by kindergarten the little munchkins will have these teachable moments deposited into their memory banks with interest to spare when history repeats itself with their own kids. Yeah, let’s say that’ll happen. 

Photo: What we'll be doing in July. Hope you'll be having just as much fun!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Bread - The Staff of Life

My late father-in-law, Pop, loved bread. Whenever my mother-in-law made him a sandwich, she was instructed to go light on the filling because the bread was his favorite part. He’d smell the bread, kiss his fingers to the air and proclaim, “Aw, the staff of life.” He was a simple man.

Our granddaughter, Anna, has followed in his train by also loving bread. When she was plopped here last week, not feeling well, I asked her what she’d like for breakfast.

“Toast with jam.” Simple as that.

“Strawberry or blackberry?” I asked.

“Strawberry.”  Of course.

But her all time favorite bread is the cheesy bread I make as an appetizer. I found it online and offer it here because I love my readers and want to share something good with  you. (We need it right now). 

Buy a Boule or some other form of firm round bread, uncut, at the grocery.

Slice it crossways, both ways, but not to the bottom.

Slice up some good cheese like Monterey Jack or sharp cheddar and tuck it into the cuts in the bread. 2  8 oz. bricks should do it.

In a saucepan heat these together:

½ cup butter (and a little olive oil)

¼ cup scallions chopped finely

2 tsp. poppy seeds

Heat oven to 350

Spoon butter mixture over bread then wrap it loosely in aluminum foil.

Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes then loosen the foil (so top is exposed) and bake for 10 minutes more.

Get the cooks share soon after you serve it or you won’t get any at all. It disappears at an alarming rate especially if Anna is within striking distance.

PS: Great for Father’s Day gatherings. Their fingers might even kiss the air and possibly you.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Gulliver of the Trampoline

It’s been many, many years since I’ve jumped on a trampoline. But yesterday I had the opportunity to do it vicariously through our youngest granddaughter, Sierra. I was asked to accompany her on her pre-school field trip to the local trampoline park. And joy of joys – we had it all to ourselves.

Sierra and her compatriots wasted no time in shedding their shoes, tearing up the steps, hair and giggles flying, to test their running and jumping skills. BOING-G-G. Well, how much fun is this? For about a half hour their high energy continued until each section of the room had been thoroughly tested. And then – along came a giant.

Tall, stocking feet, bright orange vest. One of two workers that day. His weapons neon green balls and  bright orange ones. Gathering them under his arms he stepped into the arena. And there he began pelting the kids with those (very soft) balls. Pow! Bam! Gotcha!

Small heads turned. Hey! What was this? An adult who wanted to play? The shock and then sheer delight at the idea soon went off like a cartoon light bulb in each little noggin. Guess what? We’re going to throw those balls right back at this big guy. Woo. Hoo.

Up until that point it was all about the other kids. Competition. Who can jump highest. Who can run up the trampoline wall the furthest. But now they had a common target. He was big. He was laughing. He was eyeballing their backs and they were loving it.

“I got him!” A five-year-old tank of a little boy yelled.

“Ha, Ha,” Sierra screeched as she made her mark, blonde curls swirling.

“Look out!” A warning to a fellow fighter to duck.

And on it went until they had him down on the mat pummeling him like the Lilliputians they were. Poor Gulliver. They only lacked ropes to finish the job. It was glorious to behold.

Things calmed down after that but it made me realize how much our children need us. Other kids are fine, but really, it’s the grown  ups they idolize. When they glance back to see if we’re watching – we need to be watching. When a lip is pushed out and tears are pending  - we need to have hugs and kisses ready. We must feed them, often with treats (soul food). We must shelter them – sometimes right under our own covers when we’re weary beyond belief. We must clothe them, even when we are not crazy about their choices. 

They’re watching us, these kids. They want to be us someday. They learn how to love – or not – from us. If you’re in an adventuresome relationship with a little someone, take that roll to heart. Throw balls at them. Let them throw them back. Be big and tall and fun. Be strong and soft and accepting right up to the day you must let them go.

Perhaps then, if we manage all this,  the world could be healed. Gulliver would like to think so. 

Image: Free Digital Photos