Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One More Ode to a Good Grandpa

I visited my grandparents home on Thursday as planned, to be greeted by my sister, who told me my grandpa had passed less than an hour before.  It was hard to say that last goodbye, but it was also good to see him at peace.  His face, at rest, made all sorts of thoughts go through my mind.  One is that his face is so familiar to me-- one of the earliest faces ingrained on my memory, one that has been to birthdays and baptisms and special days, given hugs to my little girl self and my grown up self and welcomed my children.

Just a month before his passing, I walked into my grandparent's garage all  alone. Even though they live in a different home than they did when I was growing up, the smell of their garage smelled just like it did when I was a little girl.  It brought back some potent memories.  I calmed my usual rushing self and just stood there in their garage and took in the smell and let myself reminisce about happy cousin days and sleepovers and my grandma's strawberry jam.  I let it soak in.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep my grandparents around forever, but for now I just wanted to remember.  Little did I know that a month later I would be saying goodbye.  Before he passed I wrote down a very rudimentary collection of words to help me remember, since I won't always have their garage to smell.  :)   As you'll notice, many of the memories aren't directly related to him, but it was his was an abiding presence that helped make them possible. It's not very refined, but here goes:


Old green truck
In a clean-swept
Musty garage.
Brown tweed chair
an old-fashioned Doris Day movie.
Knee-high grass
Crunching beneath our feet
As a dark,
Robust younger you
Called sheep--
They're running to you,
Skitting from me (darn).
Red brick
Roundabouts on cousin Sundays,
Fabled ditches,
Banana-colored longboards
And red,
Ranged in a line
Raced on rear ends
Over click-cracks
Under a tipsy
Orange moon.
Cushy additions,
Jennie's mystical
Orange-lighted room
Complete with organ.
Sleepy movies,
Jam on toast in
Red strawberry
Vinyl chairs,
Juice in tiny
Clinking glasses
Poured shallow with little
Ball games.
Big(ger) family.
Long-forged rolls.
Cherry pies,
Busy family coming and going.
Delighted hugs.
Smith smiles.
Sad goodbyes.
Driving directions.
Carrying my little ones
With pride and happy
Whooshes across a new
Family baptisms.
Corralling the greats now.

Popcorn at a brown bar,
Cousins abounding,
The smell of
Yellow scrapbooks,
Grandma's house.
Grandpa's too.
In his big chair,
But inside--
Someone thinking, measuring,


No more hunting,
no more sheep.
Children gone.
A longing for home
Shines back from the
Resided chair.
It's time to let you go
Your knees and your sheep will thank you.
So will hungry mother's arms, ever waiting.
But we're lingering,
Not knowing what to say,
Just that we'll
Miss the long-gone days of
The musty garage,
the movies,
Even the snoring.
I look at your peaceful face
And remember how
You wrapped me in
Grandpa arms,
Happy to see this little girl.
You go now,
And wait for me there,
Till I've done what I came here
To do.
Then you can catch me in your arms
Like old days.
Get your sheep ready--
Maybe we can finally make
Them like me.

FYI- I added some photos on to the last post.  See you tomorrow!  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Some Favorite Family Movies

Did you have a good Easter weekend, dear readers?  I had the stomach flu all day on Saturday, but that didn't prevent us from attending a beautifully done Easter egg hunt at a neighbors house (then I went home and collapsed on the couch for the rest of the day).  We enjoyed the day yesterday by going to church and then high-tailing it to my in-laws for a family get together that we have really come to look forward to each year.   Photos forthcoming sometime this week!

This is our spring break week!  I'm so excited!

So, lets face it.  We try to minimize the amount of TV our kids watch.  Sometimes we succeed and sometimes, its, well....harder.  These are all movies that I have watched with my kids on our family movie nights, and some of my favorites, for reasons I'll list below.  Enjoy!  (and please follow your own instincts when it comes to anything that might be inappropriate for your own unique child, since some of these would scare younger children or more sensitive children, I always look up movies on this site before I let my kids watch, I've learned this the hard way.  It gives guidance as to an appropriate age range, too, which helps a lot!)  :)


1.  Ratatouille

For any foodies out there who enjoy cooking and eating as much as I do, this movie is a real treat.  It is a beautifully animated story about a rat who dreams of doing more than eating garbage all day.   He learns all about cooking from a famous chef on TV whose claim is that "anyone can cook."  He meets up with a young man named Remy who is also socially isolated and they create a partnership that allows both of them to thrive and learn more about themselves as they are thrown into the center of a kitchen in a busy Paris restaurant.  I love this movie because it shows the power of following your dreams in spite of social pressure and about friendship and being your best.

2.  How to Train Your Dragon

Another story about a young man who doesn't quite fit in (there is a pattern here, hm), in his Viking village of dragon fighters.  He captures a dragon and surprises himself by refusing to kill the dragon (which would have finally brought him honor and respect at home) and instead befriending it.  Together he and his dragon forge a friendship that helps them overcome their individual handicaps, learn the courage to stand up to forces that kept them down, and bring understanding and change to the village.  A touching story about a parent-child relationship and finding the gifts in our children or ourselves that may be different than our own.

3.  In Search of the Castaways

Ok, this is an old movie (1962) with pretty rudimentary special effects.  But I LOVE it.  A story about two children whose father was lost at sea and their attempt to find him after a French professor found a message in a bottle, it is a fun and upbeat adventure story.  My favorite is the Frenchman and his optimism-- his song "Let's Climb"-- love it.

Meet the Robinsons

4.  Meet the Robinsons

A movie about the value of family and following your dreams in spite of setbacks, this is a great movie for all ages.  A young orphan named Lewis is a budding inventor who can't seem to find the right adoptive parents. When he receives a couple of mysterious visitors from the future, he discovers what family is all about (this one is so quirky and hilarious!) and is challenged to keep moving forward in spite of failure and find peace with his past as he races to save the future.

5.  Rise of the Guardians

This is one of our new favorites, though there are some parts that could scare young children.  Jack Frost is uncertain as to how he became who he is, and wonders why human beings cannot see him.  When the Boogeyman threatens to destroy children's belief in the "Guardians" of childhood-- Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman-- by instilling fear, Jack must discover who he is inside and why he has suddenly been chosen to help protect children.  The animation is amazing and imaginative, providing a fantastical and fresh glimpse into the characters and worlds of what could have been stale over-told stories (LOVE the Santa with his naughty and nice tattoos and the Australian accented Easter Bunny).  Instead it is fresh and inspiring story about the power of belief and childhood.

6.  Wreck-it Ralph

This is yet another story about someone on the fringes who goes in search of meaning and inclusion.  Ralph is the "bad guy" in an old-time video game.  Always taught that being bad was important and not to be questioned, Ralph gets tired of being marginalized and ignored for his contributions.  And yes, the poor guy has to sleep in the dump.  One day, in his frustration, he enters a different video game, and then another, in order to earn a medal to bring home.  The chaos that ensues is both cathartic, funny, and painful, as you watch Ralph learn about himself and others finally learn to appreciate him.  He meets a young girl who has also been socially rejected (a "glitch" in her game), and helps her discover her inner talents.  I really enjoyed the animation in this movie too-- the creative and humorous old, nostalgic games (remember Pac Man and games of us 80's brats?), as well as the incorporation of newer themes.

7.  Cars

This has been on my mind a lot because I've got a Cars addict on my hands that I have to fight off a lot around here.  But this truly is a great kids movie, one of my favorites as far as messages go.  Lightning McQueen is a young, arrogant racecar who only thinks of himself.  Until he gets lost on his way to a big race and has to do service in a little lonely run down town off of Route 66, for some damage he did to the road while evading a police car.  He finally learns to see outside himself as he becomes endeared to the various cute and quirky personalities in the small town.  What was once a one-man show turns into probably one of my favorite movie endings of all time, as McQueen finally learns that winning isn't everything.  This movie is chock full of funny automobile references and details that will delight people of all ages (little tiny car bugs?  Click and Clack?  Bring it on!).

I have some more I'm saving for another day!  Are any of these movies a favorite of yours too?