That Alligator Dream

Although this is late in coming, I don’t want Easter passing without mentioning the alligator-dream Easter. Kelly reminded me of this when she was at our house on Easter Sunday, and then Casey told me that she had a discussion on FaceTime with Bryce about the incident.

One Easter, Jamie decided she was going to eat all the candy in her basked that day. I am not certain if we spent the day at our house or somebody else’s home, but I do recall that we were busy and no one was keeping an eye on Jamie, so she set out eating all the chocolate and jellybeans that were delivered by the Easter Bunny. She ignored the meat, potatoes, and veggies du jour.

That night she was rewarded by some frightening dreams which centered on alligators. (She probably saw a few on one of our Kiawah Island vacations!) She was not a happy camper the next day. I admit I don’t remember the details, but I imagine there was screaming during the middle of the night. I think she learned a lesson from that experience.

So both Kelly and Casey warned Bryce of the consequences of eating too much candy on Easter. I think it would be a good idea to remind him of this story on Halloween as well.

You Want to Eat What?

Now that I have small children in my life again, they are helping me dredge up old memories of your younger days.

Dad and I recently hosted a sleepover here with Bryce, and at dinner that night, we discussed breakfast options for the next day. When Dad offered to make French toast, Bryce seemed excited.

So the next morning when he awoke, he first announced that he would like to watch a show. That is very much like me since I don’t like to have any food immediately upon arising. Bryce still seemed happy with the idea of French toast, with a side of blueberries, so while he snuggled in our bed and watched Paw Patrol, Dad busied himself fixing breakfast. I was excited myself since I have not eaten French toast in years.

When we called him to the table, Bryce first ate all his blueberries and then just sat there. Apparently he had had a change of heart. As parents, we would have said, “Tough, tough creampuff. Eat your French toast,” but we are grandparents, so that is not what we said. Instead, we asked what he now wanted,and he stated that he wanted a turkey and cheese sandwich—deconstructed of course! Secretly, neither of us was  upset because, frankly,  the French toast looked great.

Dad looked at him strangely, but I was immediately reminded of Casey’s breakfasts back in the day. While Kelly and Jamie would typically have cereal or waffles, Casey loved to buck tradition just like her nephew. A typical Casey breakfast would be a tuna melt or perhaps a bowl of Progresso New England clam chowder.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with what she chose, but I just did not have the stomach for the odors of tuna or clam chowder at 7 o’clock in the morning. So in comparison, Bryce’s request was quite tame.

Daddy got right to work creating a beautiful “big plate.” In addition to the turkey and cheese, with a hamburger bun, Dad added some mac and cheese from dinner the previous evening. He tried to sneak in a pizza bagel, but Bryce was not interested. Obvi (as Casey would say), he takes after Aunt Casey with his breakfasts preferences, while Lily follows her aunt with her left-handedness.

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My Idea Was Stolen

I have been writing these stories since July 2015—272 in all—and while I never know what I will write one day to the next, something always happens to inspire me. Today it was a trip to the supermarket which set my creative juices flowing.

While Dad was trolling the cheese aisle, I looked up and saw Lunchables, which I packed for all of you (I think all three) to bring to school a few times. They were pricey for what you got—some crackers, meat, a drink, and some kind of dessert is one example. As I perused the selections, curious about how the selections had changed since you were young,  I saw choices which I don’t recall existing back in your day: chicken nuggets, nerds, and Capri Sun; mini burgers (cold), Capri Sun, and Reece’s Pieces; pancake and bacon dippers; deep dish pepperoni pizza (again, cold) Capri Sun, and Oreos.

Then I saw the inspiration, and grabbed my camera. Kraft stole my idea!

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The three of you know I immediately thought of “The Big Plate,” which was born out of desperation when I just couldn’t get to the store. It consisted of a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I think you could call it “tapas for kids.” It may be a piece of meat, a couple of slices of bananas, and some cheese. Whatever I could scrounge up in the fridge. You all loved it, and now, so does Bryce.

Love to You All!

I have been going through your memory boxes along with my box of cards from the three of you trying to find something appropriate to publish for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, the cards to Dad and me consisted primarily of Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, birthday cards, and Easter cards.

Finally, I stumbled upon a card from Jamie to the rest of the family, made in school when she was in kindergarten. Now she is a kindergarten teacher, so I thought she would enjoy seeing what she was able to do at that age. I would also like to mention that, among the treasures I found today, was something written by Jamie a year later. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up she said that she wanted to be a teacher. She was the only one who did not change her mind.

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How Our Names Define Us

Dad has started referring to Lily  as Lily-kins  and Bryce is  Meister  or Mr. Bryce. That got me thinking about other family nicknames.

When Kelly was 2½, she loved watching Cinderella (bibbidi bobbidi boo ♫), so for about 3 weeks, she insisted on being called Cinderella, Dad was Prince, I was known as Tooth Fairy,  and Jamie toggled between the names Esmerelda and Prunella.

When she began watching The Sound of Music, suddenly, we had to call her Maria or face her three-year-old wrath. She even had a “Maria hat” which she insisted on wearing. Sometime later, Dad began calling her Kellbert. The two of us still refer to her by that name on occasion.

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Jamie loved watching Peter Pan, so when she was three, she dressed as the character, Tiger Lily, which was what she said she wanted to be when she grew up. So Tiger Lily she was for quite some time. Another memorable nickname was Jamiac, which came with its own theme song, “She’s a Jamiac,” sung to the tune of  “She’s a Maniac,”  from the movie Flashdance.

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Through the years, she was also known as J-J, Spike, Jaymeister, and Jamus-do-do. (I have no idea where those names, particularly the last one, originated!)

While Casey has always been the biggest movie fan, I can’t associate any television or movie with her. I remember calling her Dawn, Cupsom (again, the latter particularly mysterious), Casum, Buttercup, Quesadilla, and Scootch. Scootch was such a catchy name that she even had a custom-made game made for her known as Scootch-opoly.

Instead of landing on Park Place, Boardwalk, and Jail, Scootch-opoly had spaces such as Jamie’s Bingo Board for $3600, Dad’s Pro Shop for $2900, Kelly’s Dorm Room for $1400, Mom’s Office for $3100, Grandma’s Irish Imports for a purchase price of  $2700, and Casey’s Oscar for $4000 (the most expensive, of course.) Dad still calls her Scootch!

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Did you all know that I had two nicknames as a kid—the first was  Daddy Long Legs,  which was kind of obvious if you saw me as a young teen, and the second was  Watermelon,  based on my last name?

Dad was the first of his crowd of buddies to land a job after college, so he was called Mr. Eugene. I know his friends Jerry and Dave still call him that. Perhaps more do.

So you see, some things from our past stick. Just a reminder.

That’s My Girl!

Now that we have children in the family again, I am back in the cake-making saddle again. I was reminded with the first birthday of my first grandchild that a one-year old has little interest in the cake, whereas by two, there is a lot of opinions involved. (It had to be a Thomas the Train cake the second time around.)

My first cake for a little boy was quite amusing as you all recall. We ever so carefully placed it on his high chair tray, and then waited for the reaction. He took one look at it, burst into tears, and pushed it away. You would have thought I baked him a brussel sprout-infested cake.

“Hey,” I thought, “I worked hard on your personalized blue cake with the green number one in the center!” (Coincidentally, green is now his favorite color.) I don’t recall any of you reacting like that. I think you all rather enjoyed your first cake.

With another one-year old in the family, I was prepared this time. I wondered if my little granddaughter would react in horror just like her big brother.

This time, her personalized cake was all girl—with pink frosting with gold dots. The cake was placed on her tray, and I waited for the reaction. I saw a smile, and I immediately thought “Girls really are different than boys! She knows how to butter me up already.”

She had a grand old time poking her fingers in the icing, stabbing it with a fork, shoving some of the sweetness in her mouth, and throwing much of it to the floor. The point is, she truly enjoyed my cake. That’s my girl!

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I look forward to taking her out for a tea party as soon as possible.

Dollywood, Shopping and Lunch in the Brook

We have all been reading about the tragic wildfires in the Southeast during the past few weeks. Here in my part of South Carolina, we were minorly affected by the fires, which were quite a distance away. I would check out the air quality, and on those few days when it rose to orange and then later to red, we minimized our time outdoors. It amazed me how much our air smelled of the smoke, which made me think about how awful it must be to be in the path of those fires. It happens all too often each year and makes me wonder how our country does not worry about our air quality more. I don’t want to live out my life wearing face masks like they do in China.

Well, I have certainly meandered off the path of my intended posting today, which was meant to be about one of our family road trips, not a subtle dig at our nation’s climate policies. Specifically, I was reminiscing about our drive to Memphis and our stop at Dollywood.

Growing up in the Northeast, we always headed to Florida—Disney World and Universal Studios— when we wanted to vacation in a fun spot with lot of rides. I never heard of Dollywood until I began investigating activities along the way. It turned out to be a hidden jewel.

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I recall it being very hot, but the park was filled with a combination of rides which would get us slightly wet, but not enough to be considered bathing-suit worthy. There were also misting stations scattered throughout the park, so we never felt hot for long.

Growing up in the North, we were not lovers of country music, so that turned out to be an advantage as you should all recall. Throughout the day, when a show was announced, the lines at the rides would pleasantly decrease so that we were able to get a lot more accomplished.

Traveling with all girls, we of course could not leave without hitting up the shopping scene, so we headed to Gatlinburg and meandered through the arts and crafts shops. You all probably picked up a few of your favorite souvenirs—magnets, postcards, and key chains.

One of the best adventures in that neck of the woods was our picnic in the Great Smoky Mountain Park. I packed a lunch, and off we went. We found a beautiful babbling brook and carefully maneuvered our way to a rock in the middle of the stream. The three of you thought that was the best place.

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Now I watch the news and see the fires spreading through that area. While Dollywood has been spared, I don’t know if the area around our special lunch spot is the same. It’s sad to watch, but seeing this on the news brought back some wonderful memories.