Archive | April, 2010

Fill-in Friday

30 Apr

1. I was enjoying one-on-one time with my daughter last night playing “Walk the dogs”.
2. I went to bed last night and I left my book The Art of Happiness on the steps — it will not be finished yet!
3. Why would you sell your customers a product that you are betting will fail? Is it too much to expect large American financial companies to act ethically?
4. The gulf coast was in my thoughts today.
5. One of my father’s favorite sayings is He who dies with the most toys wins!
6. “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” – E. B. White — I know that feeling!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to Date Night with my hubby, tomorrow my plans include getting the dog groomed and Sunday, I want to enjoy spending time with my daughter at the Girl Scout mother/daughter tea party!


Tell me Thursday: It’s a good thing they are cute.

29 Apr

My family has 2 cats, one dog, and 2 kids (plus one hubby and me).  It’s the all-American suburban demographic, including a nice sized two-story home with 3 bedrooms.  With all that space, you’d think I could sit somewhere — anywhere — without having a warm body touching me at all times.

No, it is not possible.

Somehow I have become the pet/kid whisperer, and if I decide to rest my tired feet in any location for more than — say, 30 seconds — I will have a furry critter or small child invading my personal space.

And I LIKE my personal space. 

I’m sure some mothers might see me as “unattached” or unmotherly for this, but I am my OWN person.  I need my OWN space.  I like — no love — to snuggle with my kids and pets.  But I sometimes feel like I’m being stalked in my own home!

If I rest on the couch?  Kids and dogs are clammering for the spot next to me.  The dog will even sit at my feet waiting for a kid to get up, then jump up on the couch — usurping the spot.

If I work on the computer?  One kid next to me asking “can I see pictures?”, while a cat wiggles her way in behind my back.

If I’m in the bathroom?  While I have learned to lock the door, a cat usually sneaks in first.  Meanwhile, I listen to knocking and “Momma?  Momma?” for the entire duration.

If I want to sit at the kitchen table and try to have an adult conversation with friends?  Peek under the table — you’ll see an interesting “game” of “block the kid from mom’s lap.”  He usually squirms his way on anyway.

After my children go to bed, the animals reign supreme. They dictate my bedtime.  If I do not go to bed on-time, a cat will meow at my feet until I head up the stairs. 

It’s a good think they are cute.

Wordless Wednesday

27 Apr

Virtuosos at Granny’s

26 Apr

Three virtuosos giving a concert today at Granny’s house.

Tell me Thursday: My dad’s 1967 VW Microbus!

22 Apr

Yes, that is a hippie wagon in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  To be more specific, that is my dad’s 1967 split window Dormobile/Westfalia VW camper Microbus sitting in front of one of the most famous world landmarks in the spring of 1969.

Why am I showing you this retrospective photo into my father’s past?  Because after years of nagging, begging, and conspiring, I now have possession of this vehicle, and am in the process of having it restored to original.
A highly condensed history of “the Bus”
My dad bought the Bus while in the Army, stationed in Germany; he had it delivered on his 21st birthday because you had to be 21 to own a vehicle in Germany.  During the next 2 years of his military tour, he toured Europe all the way from Spain to Finland, England to Italy. 
After returning home (the Army shipped the Bus back to the U.S.), my dad found his true love (my mom), married her by the end of 1970. They drove off on their honeymoon in — you guessed it — the Bus.  Over the next few years, their little family grew from 2 to 5, and the Bus was the vehicle of choice for many vacations.   However, by the beginning of the 1980’s, the family had outgrown the Bus for vacations, and she began her “long sleep” in the pole barn in Ohio.  She fell into disrepair.  Rust set in.
What is a penny worth?
After I reached adulthood, I started asking my father, “So, what are you planning to do with the Bus?”  I got vague answers about the repairs it needed.   
So, I started asking, “How about you give it to me?  I’ll fix it up!”  It’s not even that I got a No. I got blank stares of disbelief.  You have to understand: my dad does not part with ANYTHING.  Pack rat does not begin to explain his attachment to his stuff.
This non-conversation continued for about 15 years.  Occasionally my mom or my brother would chime in “You really should let her have it.  Then you could drive it again!”
Then, one day, we were over at my parents for dinner.  I had brought my dad some additions to one of his collections (he’s a pack rat — remember?): a whole bag of smashed pennies. 
I was about to hand over the stash to my dad, when my mother quipped, “You shouldn’t just GIVE him those.”  
I quickly threw out, “Dad!  I’ll trade you the Bus for this bag of smashed pennies!” 
As usual, I got a non-response and a weird glance from my dad.  In fact, he left the room.  Ah, well, I thought. 
A few minutes later, he returned — and handed me KEYS.  To the BUS! 
Restoration begins
The bus now sits at State of Mind Customs — a restoration company in Oxford, Michigan that specializes in VWs.  Did you see the weird VW commercials where Heidi Klum is talking to a vintage Bug?  Yeah — he did those.  They are in the final stages of the body work — paint is going on soon.  We are hoping to have the Bus completed by mid-summer, but these projects are never on a solid timeline.  It’s an expensive process, but fortunately VW buses are rare birds that are truely worth something as vintage vehicles, so all the work is going to be well-spent.
Curious about the details of restoration?  I’ve put up a facebook fan page for The Bus that has lots of pictures showing the process.

Wordless Wednesday

20 Apr

What do cowboys, vampires, zombies, and frat boys have in common?

17 Apr

You can find them all at the Double JJ Ranch!  Or, at least we did on our recent trip.  For the kid’s spring break, we decided to spend our money locally, and head to Rothbury, Michigan to the Double JJ Ranch (Yes, I know that makes four JJ’s — that’s still what they call it!).  With an indoor waterpark, old west town, highly rated golf course, and more, a good family vacation was assured.  Plus, we were able to bring along our dog by staying in the cabins (rather than the hotel). So, now you know where the cowboys fit into our puzzle.

Vampires.  My daughter A is *obsessed* with arcades.  When she found out there was an arcade at the resort, she wanted to live there.  She had brought all her tooth fairy money, as well as all the change she has scarfed up our change bowls, and was ready to blow it all.  And what did she buy her hundreds of tickets she won?  Bouncy balls, little stuff animals, candy, and VAMPIRE TEETH.

These teeth became her favorite new toy. A and R invented a new game in the cabin called “Vampire house” — A was the vampire, and R was her guardian.  Or maybe her butler.  I’m not sure which. 

In honor of full disclosure: I have a bit of a vampire obsession myself, and I wondered — as my 6-year-old daughter was announcing “I’m a VAMPIRE!” — how much my obsession had influenced her.

Zombies. We spend one of the warmer days walking around the old west town (named the “Back Forty”), and once my son R spotted the photo-op coffin, he was instantly transformed into a zombie!  
And, of course, once there is one zombie in the midst — the virus quickly spreads. Soon the old west town was infested with zombies. 

I’m so glad my kids have good imaginations.  🙂

Frat boys.  These were not a figment of my kids imagination, but they did make a big impression.  After 2 peaceful nights in our cabin, a large group of college students arrived, taking over several of the cabins nearby. 

While I am one to allow respectful people to have a good time as much as they want — these kids were NOT that.  They blasted music at all hours of the day, despite the resort staff coming by numerous times asking them to turn it down. 
After one night of feeling like I was living in a dorm, plus an afternoon of my son NOT getting his nap, I — along with every other family in a cabin nearby — requested to be moved.  We had our last night in a large, nice condo.
My kindergartner, upon returning to school on Monday, was asked to write about her spring break.  Did she write about the water slides?  Arcade?  Vampire teeth?  Nope.  “We got to sleep at the top of the cabin. There were campers.” Her detailed picture shows the “campers” — our frat boys, their loud music, their bonfire, and their red beer cups scattered on the ground.

Tell Me Thursday: Rosie’s Diner in Rockford, Michigan

15 Apr
To start out our vacation last week, we needed a lunch stop.  My husband has become an avid fan of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, so I’ve used our vacations as opportunities to check out a few of the locations.  We’ve already hit spots in Baltimore and Chicago.  Last week, I traced our trip to the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan, and found Rosie’s Diner just north of Grand Rapids.  

This is your old school fifties diner — even the booths are original.  They are TINY!  The menu has your typical diner breakfast and lunch items — omelet, pancakes, and french toast for breakfast (all day long);  hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches for lunch.  Plus, they do the old fashioned fifties diner items like made-from-scratch shakes, malts and floats.

Their specialities, according to Guy Fieri, include the onion rings and the Cobblestone french toast — so we had to order those.  The french toast was A-MAZ-ING.  A sweet cinnamon bread, french toasted, with apples, walnuts and brown sugar!   The onion rings passed my key test — the onion did not fall out of the breading;  John decided he preferred the onion rings at Blimpy Burger (another Dive pick by Guy), but I thought they were splendid.

The kids had to get their standards:  mac and cheese and a hot dog.  However, they did try an old fashion shake with a twist:  Amelia requested marshmallow flavor. They loved it.

And this is my picture from Wordless Wednesday.
At the end of our visit, we got our obligatory picture as evidence that John had eaten at yet another one of the restaurants on “the list.”

Wordless Wednesday

14 Apr

An Easter story in 3 acts

12 Apr
 Act 1.  A young boy is devastated.  A poor, unlucky jelly bean has fallen onto the dirty, dirty ground.

Act 2.  The young lad ponders what can be done…

Act 3.  The young lad’s beautiful cousin swoops in to save the jelly bean!