Storms Clouds are Rolling In

I think we can all agree that children are intelligent. They are constantly absorbing details and listening to what we are discussing. (Remember this before you speak.) It was therefore no surprise that Bryce has become interested in weather forecasting, just like his father.

During his recent vacation to our house, we spent the day at the home of our friends. We all swam in their pool, had a lovely lunch on their deck, saw the bees in the nearby hives, and enjoyed the view of the lake.

While I was satisfied with merely enjoying the scenery, the children wanted more. For Bryce, that meant trying to catch fish with a net and eventually, falling into the lake.

It did not take long for his eyes to wander away from the water, where he discovered a rowboat sitting idly by just waiting for attention. Before long, the three men were preparing to load the boat into the water. That was when the weather gene kicked in. Our little forecaster pointed to the cloudy sky and asked if we should be concerned about a potential storm approaching us.

My friend, Mary, was impressed, but not I. On more than one occasion, he has looked skyward and stated, “Grandma, there are storm clouds rolling in.” His dad is the family weatherman and is very savvy with interpreting weather maps, so this concern came as no surprise to me.

Bryce has discussed his dilemma in trying to decide what to be when he grows up, because “there are too many choices.” So now he is thinking about working in an office with Dad, helping Mom with her camera, becoming a teacher like Aunt Jamie, and alerting South Carolina of “storm clouds rolling in.”

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Just a Little Hitch in the Plans

Let the countdown officially begin today, dear family and friends. For in just 365 days, the wedding that our family has been impatiently awaiting since Bush 43 is finally happening. Nestled in a brewery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, another family will join ours and I will now have my third son.

The plans are moving forward:  the venue and photographer have been chosen, and we will meet with a florist next weekend. A cake tasting has been done, and next month, we will shop for the dress.

Unfortunately, we did not anticipate that the state of Virginia would cause us some anxiety because their laws regarding acceptable officiants is not as liberal as the state of New Jersey. As you all know, our last family wedding was performed by Reverend Cousin Chris, who was able to get ordained via the Internet. Internet ordinations are not recognized in the Commonwealth of Virginia, so the plans for two very dear friends of the bride and groom to seal the deal need to be altered.

With the help of a family friend who practices law in Virginia, we were given our options: The happy couple can hire a local officiant, get married ahead of the festivities in their more open-minded state, or we can sue the state of Virginia. Although we all thought the third option could be fun, the bride and groom-to-be rejected it and are now deciding what to do.

I have a fourth choice, although I believe the likelihood of my idea happening is somewhere between slim to none. As we all know, Casey would think she had died and gone to heaven if her number 1 most admired person in her world performed the ceremony. That, of course, is the man on her favorite koozie—Joe Biden. He either could come to Virginia, or a small group of us could meet him somewhere near his home in Delaware, which is not far from where the mother-of-the groom lives.

What are your thoughts, kids? Is this not a fabulous idea?

This Memory Will Stick

During the early years of our marriage, Dad was more of a NY Yankees fan than a follower of any other sport. It was not until Kelly went off to college that viewing college football games became a regular activity in our family.

For Dad, playing and watching golf is now his primary interest—so much so that his telephone has labeled his trip between our house and the golf course as “work.” It is therefore a great source of excitement to him as he observes the growing interest in golf with his first grandchild.

It began a few years ago as grandfather and grandson would stand at the edge of our backyard to watch the golfers head toward the green on the course behind our house. Next, we watched father and son at another golf course—father hitting the ball as his little boy sat patiently behind him, anxious to chase the ball once it left the tee.

On his fifth birthday, Bryce was presented with his own set of clubs and is eager to learn the sport. A few weeks ago, he excitedly told us his big news, which was that he was going to The Masters—one of golf’s most famous tournaments—with his father, other grandfather, and uncle.

Yesterday was the big day. The plan was to allow him to attend for just a few hours because it was believed he would not have the stamina or attentiveness to stay the entire day. That assumption was incorrect, because he told Dad and me later that he was sad that he did not get to see more holes. He enthusiastically showed us the card which he got at the tournament and explained that he planned on taking it to school for Show-and-Tell.

Dad, Kelly, and I agreed that because Bryce is five years old, he is old enough that he will be able to look back on this day as an adult. Five-year-old memories do not disappear as two-year-old memories do. When he is a father, he will be able to tell his children the story of his first trip to The Masters, including the fact that he was the youngest attendee that day. Oh, what a memory!

I Could Have Poisoned My Family

Today is the era of meth labs like the one built by Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and terrorists creating bombs to hide in their shoes and underwear. In such a world, I cannot imagine that the chemistry sets that Dad and I played with as children would be permitted to be sold to the future scientists of today.

I remember experimenting with my beakers and chemicals in my grandmother’s kitchen, which at least showed some concern for safety because it kept me away from my four younger siblings. My research into those labs from the good old days showed that those kits most likely did contain small quantities of chemicals that could have caused a certain level of harm.

With a little knowledge, I probably could have blown up my grandma’s kitchen or poisoned my brothers and sisters. I think that Grandpa just hoped that gift would have encouraged me to walk in his footsteps. He did not see the potential for evil.

The advent of consumer safety laws and more skeptical and distrustful parents ended the market for those toys. Oh, those were the days, my friends.

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Birthday Kid Picks the Meal

There are definitely pros and cons to having children with adventurous eating habits. As a parent to three children who did not fear exotic food such as escargot, I never worried when dining out about whether there would be a children’s menu.  Often the children’s menu was ignored, but the downside to that were higher bills at the end of the meal.

History is repeating itself via the next generation in our family. What does a five-year old boy want for his birthday lunch and dinner? Mac and cheese, hotdogs, or spaghetti are typical requests of little men, but not our boy. He requested sushi for lunch and mussels for dinner.

Remember what Dad taught you all. When you turn five, you become a human being. I guess that means your eating habits may become more sophisticated.

The sushi he chose was much more daring than the California or shrimp tempura roll which is what I usually order. Rather, the choice for birthday #5 was spicy salmon and spicy shrimp. And may I add that the mussels requested were not in some kind of red sauce such as one might see in your local Italian restaurant. Instead, what he wanted was a recipe recently prepared by his dad: Red Curry Mussels.

Impressive, right? I have the recipe and will include it in our family cookbook. I look forward to more birthday requests.

A Birthday and No Friends?

We celebrated another family birthday this past weekend. It was held at a cute little place called “My Gym,” which reminded me of your days of gymnastics lessons at the YMCA.

As we all know, little children and the elderly do not have filters on their mouths, so Bryce made the comment that “Lily does not have any friends.” While that is true compared to the amount of friends that a child who has attended school for three years now has, it was not particularly complimentary.

I decided to check out your baby books to see if you all had friends at the tender young age of two. As the oldest child, Kelly was the only one who truly had friends that were not related. They were the three little girls from the playgroup which she attended beginning shortly after her first birthday. That particular year she had three parties. The first was with her neighborhood friends, the second was with her aunts, uncles, and the only cousin she had at the time, and the third was with her playgroup friends.

Jamie had two parties. The first was with her playdate friends, all of whom were the children of my cousins. We had lunch and cupcakes. Like Lily, Jamie was a fan of Minnie Mouse, which was exemplified by some of the gifts—a Minnie Mouse bank, Minnie Mouse Colorforms and a Minnie Mouse train.

Casey, sorry to say, you had only one party, which was with your sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I suspect that as the youngest of three girls, you primarily played with your older sisters. I made a Dalmatian cake, and you received a Dalmatian puppy, a desk from Dad and me, a Ninja Turtle mug,  a Magic Nursery doll, and an Ariel outfit, doll and puzzle. The Little Mermaid gifts should not be surprising since you have reminded me on numerous occasions that the movie was released on the day you were born.

So Lily, when you grow up and read the account of your second birthday and hear what your brother said about having no friends, Aunt Casey and you can commiserate over a glass of wine.

The End of Innocence

At what age do children begin to lose their sweet innocence? As a grandmother, I have more time to observe than when I was a frazzled young mother of three, and I have concluded that it happens at some point during the fourth year.

Over the past few months, while enjoying many spirited afternoons sitting around the kitchen table playing Candy Land, I observed Bryce clearly cheating. One time the little trickster claimed ignorance when skipping ahead a few extra squares. “I didn’t know I skipped one yellow square.” Another time, I caught him not-so-slyly peaking at the cards while attempting to find the ice cream cone, which would put him near the finish line.

He knew what he was doing was wrong and was even familiar with the word “cheating.” I wanted to throw the book at him and vowed not to let to him win. This was war!

After returning him home today after his latest sleepover, Kelly showed us a broken ornament. Lily was the culprit, but at not yet two, I think she broke poor Cocky’s leg while trying to admire him. It was not intentional. Kelly told Dad and me that she had told Bryce that Bampa could fix it. Bryce had another solution.  “We should hide it from Daddy!”

Gone is the age of innocence.

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