Family, History and Love

Wanda and I have been discussing, of late, the need to set down in writing some portion of our family history so that in the future our children and grandchildren will have the stories and tales of our lives direct from the source. The technophile that I am, I choose to do this online so that the what we write will be accessible and available for comment to our wider family (though I reserve the right to moderate those comments).

To that end, I have repurposed this blog. In coming posts, we will endeavor to provide an abridged story of our life (hey, everyone has their secrets). We're writing this for our children and their children and those that come later so elements of these tales will be familiar only to our family,

Friday, April 30, 2010

There's a Kernel of Truth Here

Men Are Just Happier People:
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can never be pregnant.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Gray hair makes you look distinguished.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks and engines.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
Your underwear is $9.99 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You never have strap problems in public.
Your can't see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color.
One mood all the time.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes -- one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ryker Dude!

I have only one grandson at this point in my life. I hope to have more in the future, but at the moment, Ryker is the one and only. One thing is for sure, he's all boy. He bundles ten times the energy and curiosity of his sister (and 20 times that of his cousin) in one small bundle. He's a little tornado and one of his t-shirts sums it up succinctly: "Here comes Trouble." But it's the best of trouble and I can't imagine life without this little bundle of energetic joy.

He gives the huge, spontaneous hugs and seems to be always smiling. Nothing warms the heart like having a little boy throw his arms open wide and come running toward you yelling, "Papa, Papa, Papa."

He loves climbing, running, dancing, slides, swings, hot dogs, yogurt, music, dogs, cats and baths. He hates milk, getting his nose wiped, and loud noises. He enjoys sitting on my scooter and making funny noises and loves to get his toy lawnmower out to help me cut the grass. He thinks that when I get in the floor it's time for a horsie-back ride, and when I sit down to watch TV, he thinks my lap is the place to be.

He's my grill buddy, and always helps me when we cookout. Of course, he gets the first taste of anything coming off the grill. One handed grilling can be tough, though, since Ryker insist that he be able to see the food at all times. Fortunately, his attention span is short enough at this age that my arms get frequent breaks during grilling time.

Ryker loves his grandma too, but I think I get the majority of his attention these days. She's not the least bit jealous, of course. :)

It's great to have grandkids, and I look forward to having more in the future, though if there are any more like this little boy, I need to find a new energy drink to keep up with them.

We'll get to have all three grandkids together this July, and it's going to be so fun to see them all interact. I'm sure they'll run us both ragged, but that's really part of the fun of being a Papa.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another Visit with Jocelyn

I had a great visit with Jocelyn and her parents over the weekend. I had to be in Phoenix for a business meeting on Monday evening, so I flew down on Friday evening and was able to spend the entire weekend with the family. I hadn't seen Jocelyn of her daddy since before Christmas, so it was a great opportunity for me to get reacquainted with my youngest granddaughter, who has grown so much since I last visited her. Who would think that a mere 4 months would make so much difference?

On Saturday we essentially spent the morning letting her get familiar with me again. She's a bit of a shy baby, so you can't just snatch her up and expect her to take right to you. So I simply sat in the floor and let her approach me. Pretty quickly were were playing with her Lego blocks, throwing her big, blue ball back and forth (she's getting pretty good at that), and putting her puzzles together. While she's definitely a daddy's girl, I think she enjoyed playing with her "Papa."

Her parents have her on a good schedule and routine. Much like her grandmama, she needs time to fully awaken, so she gets an hour of Yo Gabba Gabba in the morning. He daddy seems to like the show, but I think her mommy just barely handles it. After breakfast, she gets playtime, and on Saturday and Sunday that meant we got down in the floor and scattered toys everywhere. She goes down for about a two hour nap after lunch, so on Saturday I took advantage of that time to go for a walk and to dry out from all the rain we've been getting in Oregon lately.

The weather was beautiful in the Phoenix area over the weekend. The heat wasn't bad at all and the temperatures stayed mainly in the 80's, so  I had a nice long walk and grabbed a burrito for lunch while I was out.  One thing I noticed on my walk was the large number of Harley-Davidson motorcyle riders out and about. I kid you not, during my 90 minute walk I bet I saw a couple of dozen riders, all but a couple of them on Harleys. Arizona doesn't have a helmet law, so the vast majority of them were riding without protective head gear, and I saw a at least 3 riders in shorts and tank tops. Come on, it wan't that warm.

Later Saturday afternoon we went to tour the house that Jeremy and Kristin have made an offer on. It's a short sale, so they're getting a great deal. At the moment, their loan is approved and they are just waiting for the banks on the seller's side of the transaction to approve the sale. With any luck they will be able to move into the house in a few weeks.

I went along with them to see the house, watch Jocelyn and take some photos for them. The house has 3100 square feet of floor space, a pool, a hot tub, and an exterior kitchen area. It's very nice and I do hope they're able to conclude the sale soon. Jocelyn seem to like the house, especially the stairs. She and I went exploring on our own and she wandered from room to room checking out all the closets.

On Sunday we went to the zoo. The Phoenix zoo is smaller, but well designed. The desert landscape certainly lends itself to the zoo's design and inhabitants. The zoo features giraffes, gazelles, tigers, cheetahs, and lions for the larger animals, and a smattering of smaller creatures such as otters, meerkats, and African wild dogs. And there were squirrels everywhere. I think they were freaking out Jeremy a little bit since they got so close to the people.

The zoo features a lovely carousel, and I'm not sure who enjoyed it most, Jeremy or Jocelyn. His smile was certainly bigger than hers.  They also have a small water park area with slides, sprayers and a tunnel.  It was hot enough that day to certainly make it tempting for all the kids. There is a little pond adjacent to the water play area, and Jocelyn really wanted to jump into it. She got a little pissed when her daddy would let her jump in - though, I do think she managed to get at least one foot into the water.

One neat thing about the Phoeniz zoo is that they have a monkey enclosure where the zoo patrons can actually enter a fenced area where a number of monkeys are free to roam within the enclosure. You were prohibted from touching the monkeys or getting too close, but the little creatures were right there in the trees or in platforms with nothing between them and you.

Kristin, thrifty girl that she is, purchased an annual membership to the zoo. I think it cost her $80 for the family pass, but now she and Jeremy can bring Jocelyn to the zoo as often as they want and save the $32 entrance fee. Because she also got two free quest tickets when she signed up, getting me in for free, she saved $64 off that $80 pass on the very first visit. Seems like a great deal to me.

We called it a day around 1 pm as it was Jocelyn's nap time and the day was getting a bit warm (high 80's). All in all it was a fun first time zoo trip with my granddaughter and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I've always had great memories of zoos. My parents used to take me to the Atlanta zoo when I was small, and Wanda nd I always enjoyed taking our children to the zoo as well. Now, I'm getting to enjoy taking my grandkids to the zoo.

Jeremy had to work Monday and didn't get home until I had to leave for the airport on Tuesday, so I had to say my goodbyes to him that evening. After he went to bed, I went for another short walk and on my way back I stopped in by a place called Tom Ryan's. It was a small hole-in-the-wall country bar, but the staff was friendly and the beer was exceedingly cold. It was nice to be able to sit down, have a cold one, and listen to some music for a little bit. I had a couple of beers, a few pretzels, and then walked back to their place to turn in for the night. I, too, had ot work the next day, so I went to bed pretty early.

On Monday, I had a lunch date with Kristin and Jocelyn at a local park. Kristin had made a friend from an on-line forum for mom's and she was meeting a lady named Kim, her two little boys, and Kim's mom at Espee park and invited me to join them.

The park is quite lovely. Wanda mentioned how nice the Chandler, AZ parks were when she came home from Spring Break, and I have to agree with her. Jocelyn and I had a great time. We chased each other around the park, played on the huge covered play structure, and then Jocelyn had some fun on the water pad.  She really enjoyed the water until the very end when she stepped directly into a large stream of water falling from a fake water tower above her. The unexpected shock of the cold water suprised her and really pissed her off - and when she gets pissed, she has a screech that will clear the wax right from your ears. After that she was done. She just crawled up in mommy's lap and fell asleep.

Unfortunately, that was really the end of my time with her. By the time I got back from work that evening, she was already in the bed, and I had to head back into work the next morning before she awoke. I did get to see her briefly on the ride to the airport the next afternoon, and she sure was cute as she chattered and talked to herself in the backseat on the 20 minute ride, and it was sure nice to get a smile and a kiss from her before I had to fly back to Portland.

After over 10 years of traveling back and forth between Portland and Phoenix, I used to dread traveling, but I sure don't mind now. Too bad there are fewer business reasons for me to travel so much these days, but I'm sure I'll get at least one more trip in before summer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Back from Spring Break

Wanda got back from Spring Break the day after the POTN Portland Meetup. She had a very relaxing and fun visit with our granddaughter, Jocelyn, and with our son and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Kristin. Fortunately she brought lots of fun photos back to share with the rest of the family, most of which I've posted on Facebook but here are a few of my special favorites from her trip.

The Chandler area has some amazing parks, and it turns out that Jocelyn is quite the little climber. She seems to match her cousin Ryker in that regard in that the both have no fear of heights and will climb on anything with sufficient protrusions to grip. Jocelyn also enjoys her slides and bouncy play areas. On some of the larger slides she needs her daddy's help, but on many of them she'll willing to wind her way down all alone. You can't fault her for lack of bravery.

She's not nearly as shy, I'm told, as she was when we first visited her in her new home. She warmed up to her grandmother quite quickly and spent a lot of time playing with her grandmother, both at home and in the local parks and playgrounds

Fortunately, there was lots of warm weather and sunshine to recharge her grandmother's batteries and she loved helping with Jocelyn's meals. Jocelyn parents have her on a great schedule with a definite meal time, bath time and bed time. Something her Auntie Talitha really needs to work on with her two cousins. A steady and consistent routine gives small children needed structure to their day and triggers for specific behavior patterns of wake, eat, play, eat, sleep, wake, play, eat, bath, quiet time, bedtime. That was the process we used when our children were younger - or I should say the pattern that Wanda established and maintained during they're younger years.

Children adapt to those routine and their behaviors are triggered by the pattern of the day. The structure is important to them and helps cue them to be hungry, sleepy or playful. A good schedule can accomodate some flexibility in unexpected circumstances, but strives to get back on track as soon as possible. Over time, children learn their schedules well via their biological clocks and can get quite upset if their schedule is disrupted.

Her mommy and daddy have Jocelyn on a great schedule, so Papa and Grandma are going to work getting the other two on a schedule as well so when their mommy goes back to work we can keep it up and accomodate her work schedule.

There's obviously some monkey in this girl's genes. She probably gets it from her mom, though her dad was quite a climber too. As long as she doesn't start hanging from her prehensile toes like her mommy, she'll probably be fine.  I'm not sure what's going on with the tongue though. It might just be a new way to cope with the Arizona heat.

This is one of the many fanciful playgrounds in the area. Wanda told me that she was quite in impressed with the variety and the size of the play areas and structures available in the area near my son's home. From the looks of it, Jocelyn is quiet impressed too.

Little girls can't play outside all the time. When it's dark, they get to go play inside with their grandmother who gives them their batch, dresses them for bed, and reads them their books. And this grandma is a great reader of books, reading every single word with great enthusiasm and with the very best pronunciation.  She also reads with great dramatic flair and wonderful voices, making the stories come alive for her wonderful babies, creating fond memories for the little ones to cherish for many years to come.