Do you like my hat?

It was silly but I figured it would make the grandkids happy.

I made a video. I put it on YouTube and I sent the address to the the kids so they could show it to the grandkids.

I can be silly with the grandkids as so many grandparents can be. I put on a hat and I used my regular voice and a silly voice for one of the characters.

The story was Go, Dog Go! by P.D. Eastman.

Over a year ago, my silly reading of this (in English) kind of caught on. In the video, I read the story and use a very silly voice for the female dog who keeps encountering a male dog. When she does, she wears a hat and she says, “Do you like my hat?”

My rendition of “Do you like my hat?” is quite silly and it caught on. The question is asked more than once in the book and the book finally ends on that note.

I started reading this story to the youngest of the grandkids when we were in Galena, Illinois with them and their parents over a year ago for a spring vacation. Then, for a long time, I didn’t read it as the book belongs to them and although I did a cursory search when at their home for it, I did not find it.

So I set up a tripod before going on a trip to Cape Cod, put my iPhone on it and recorded it, having MK focus the phone on me and pressing the buttons, something she is very good at. I sense that spouses are just good at buttons, what do you think?

Today, I talked on the phone to the soon to be four year old who kept reiterating that she missed me while we were gone. She said, “You know Papi, I watched that movie you made and it made me sad and I missed you so much.” That certainly made my day. Tomorrow she and her brother (and her two cousins) will be here for a good part of the day. I may have to read that book in person.

I really missed them all and cannot wait to see them, it seems like an eternity and yet it has just been slightly over a week.

What do grandparents who do not live near their grandkids do? We are most blessed.

Regarding the question, “Do you like my hat?,” what do you think the answer is?

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Don’t do me any favors!

Part of our family vacationed in Florida and brought us back some unbelievably good grapefruit. Some of them had sprouting seeds, something I have not seen in years. I planted them and had two baby trees growing. When I came home, the pot was empty and they were gone!

People do favors for you and sometimes they literally blow up in your face.

We had some work done recently and besides the actual work, something extra was accomplished.

That something extra necessitated searching all over for missing items that somehow disappeared while the work was accomplished. I couldn’t figure it out. Luckily, I had purchased extra chair pads and quickly managed to replace them, checking each chair to make sure that they had them.

A plant that I had been carefully nursing since about March or so disappeared. I found the empty pot by the foundation of the house and then I searched for the contents.

It wasn’t until I talked to my son who stayed at our house that I went back outside and found the baby grapefruit trees that I had growing in a pot in the backyard. I saw the tiny plants flung into the grass and quickly scooped them up and repotted them.

It is strange.

Then our son mentioned to me that a borosilicate teapot that we have and use for both tea and coffee was missing. I looked around and found the teapot lid and the insert for the loose tea leaves and nothing else. All we could figure out is that perhaps the cleaning lady had broken it. Luckily, it was not an expensive item, we bought it at IKEA, but it is a favorite. I remembered that we liked it so much that we bought a backup, it being made of glass, just in case we broke it. I pulled that out.

There are times when you prefer to do things yourself so you don’t get burned. Thank goodness our son and his wife were at our house to take care of Mr. Stewart and to make sure that other things did not disappear.

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“I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together.”

We remember fondly the Carol Burnett Special in the Fall of 2017 and how it brought back wonderful memories from a show that we hated to miss back in the day before VCRs and TV recordings. I remember the laughter that just couldn’t stop and I keep thinking that that is what we need now in these ugly times.

We had pretty much that last night in Chicago as we got a chance to see clips and snippets of Carol Burnett’s wonderful TV program along with a wonderful Q & A with Carol. It was great seeing Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicky Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner along with all of the celebrities who graced Carol’s program. We had seats in Row C of the Chicago Theatre, closer than midway in the middle front section. We had a great view of Carol.

The tickets were a combined Christmas gift for me and Mary Kay from our children. It was a fabulous idea.

To save us from too much of sitting in traffic, we left a little after 3:00 PM to head downtown for an early dinner. It was a mistake to think we would have no traffic and once again it was clutch in, clutch out as I drove my Subaru Blue Impreza WRX.

Beforehand, I looked at the Chicago Theatre venue, one that can hold up to 3600 people, and realized that Catch 35 was around the corner. Catch 35 is a great place to eat, has a nice ambiance, and great food. It also has valet parking ($12) that the restaurant reimburses you on your bill. You then pay the valet people, but it is as if you pay nothing for the parking and just for the tip.

Hugo, our server last night (and our previous one as well more than once) had told us that if we were going to the Goodman or anywhere nearby, using the valet service works well because that way we have dinner, go to the theatre, and return for the car. That is what we did and our car was parked right on Wacker in front of the restaurant. Talk about cheap and convenient parking. Add into that that the restaurant has a $35 Prix Fixe menu that is really good. Salad or soup, entrée, and dessert for $35? This is a decided win/win.

We had a leisurely time with cocktails, dinner, and then we went around the corner for a short walk to the theatre.

Carol received a standing ovation in the beginning and was absolutely delightful with her storytelling. Storytelling seems to be on the forefront of entertainment and comedy these days and is even something we heard about with Bruce Feiler recently when we heard him speak at a local synagogue. Storytelling is the glue that holds us together. Carol did exactly that and so many people thanked her for all of the wonderful memories she has provided us with and the positive feelings about life.

It was pretty much a two hour program and it went by in a flash. How an eighty-five year old woman could have so much stamina (standing for most of the time) and memory recall is beyond me.

What a delightful evening. God bless Carol Burnett!

Posted in Comedy, Family, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Fatherhood

This is actually Mary Kay’s high chair, used for our kids (when at their grandparents’ house) and now for the grandkids.

For whatever reason, I cannot recall, in my younger pre-fatherhood days, thinking about being a father. I think that fatherhood to me was just something that went along with life, with my career, with marrying and ‘settling down,’ whatever that is, and proceeding through life.

As a perfectionist, I look back at all of the mistakes and missed opportunities I had with our sons, never really, truly sure about what I was doing, but always going from the gut, with my instinct, and with the thought that I just needed to accept who I am, which has not always been the easiest thing for me. I view my life’s plan as a three pronged effort, being the best human I could be, being the best in my professional career and most importantly, as a family member, and with children that meant being a dad.

I gave it my utmost, my utmost within the framework of a human being with frailties, sometimes really hitting the mark and sometimes missing it. The love was always there and the thing about that is that it will always help you do your best.

Sometimes I view my career in education with thoughts that I might have done things differently, that I might have achieved more, but in the long run I think I served my students well and hopefully provided them with a learning environment that not only gave them a decent background into language learning, specifically French, but also a desire to be a good human being and to treat each and every person encountered with respect.

As Mary Kay has reminded me of late, when thinking of where my family fit into my master plan, the family was always first and foremost, and that it even affected my career plans. For example, in the perfect world, I would have been able to have my family and pursue the dream of a PhD. I realized that given where I was teaching, and what I was able to accomplish, that the only thing a PhD would do for me is to be a financial drain and take me away from my family, a price I was unwilling to pay. I was unwilling to have any time whatsoever as an absentee parent. For all practical purposes, a PhD would not have truly improved our financial situation, which was also a factor.

I came to fatherhood with pretty much a blank slate. I was savvy enough to read up on the subject, but also smart enough to realize that the manuals for parenthood change incessantly with time and thus perhaps might be less than desirable as something to follow with a religious fervor.

My blank slate in the fatherhood arena is due to the fact that my role models were lacking. My father was taken from me when I was seven and I can barely muster up the ability to even remember his voice, much less any activity whatsoever with him. I look at my four grandchildren aged nine and under and think all of the time, what would they remember of me if I disappeared from their lives? I had uncles that I saw with regularity, only from one side of the family, but they were too self-involved and didn’t really have time for me. My grandfather, the only real man who had a large place in my life, due to his helping my mom in single parenthood, was a less than perfect role model, having pretty much botched it up with his own children, but despite his inability to get to my level, surprisingly gave me fodder for my own personal parenting philosophy.

So I went with my gut. Strangely, although in other areas of my life, I sometimes didn’t have the confidence I wanted, I always had strong, common sense feelings about how I needed to proceed with our kids. My one hope? Not to screw them up too much; that is pretty much all we can hope for.

Despite our sons saying, as all kids often do, that they would never live where they were brought up, they all live nearby. We are incredibly blessed that not only do our sons and their families live nearby, but that we see them all the time, often even with impromptu get togethers. I feel as if we have created a dynasty of nice human beings who believe in fulfilling their potential, and are responsible, loving human beings.

So, in these uncertain, scary, nightmarish times, I can always feel loved within the bosom of my family, each and every member is so unbelievably dear to me, to the point that I doubt they could possibly even grasp how much.

Carpe Diem!

Posted in Children, Grandkids, Grandparents, Life in general, Loss, Love, Relatives, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Return from Cape Cod

Our house on the left, malbor’s on the right.

Our flight originally was supposed to leave Boston’s Logan airport around 4:30 PM; that changed to 5:30.

We took a leisurely breakfast at the Inn, said our goodbyes, and headed out. We stopped in Braintree, not sure where to really stop. That was not the greatest idea. We didn’t even stop there. On my mind all the time was the Boston traffic and getting to the airport. There were times when we were at a standstill on the highway.

Our only sadness was not having been able to see good friends. Phil was our best man and good friend from grad school. I was the best man when Phil married Ed a few years ago. We quickly realized that given the traffic to and from the Cape, that perhaps it was too much to accomplish. We also suffered in not being able to connect with Nancy and Dominique, parents of several of my students now living in Duxbury, Massachusetts. I promised both couples to be back and make sure to have Boston time.

We got to the airport early and checked in. The good news is that the Boston airport has some of the best food around, Legal Sea Food being our stop. We had an amazing meal and I really enjoyed Boston Cream Pie, something I rarely find in Chicago but found routinely as part of the cuisine in Cleveland, Ohio, of all places.

I had neglected to mention that our one of our hosts, Pamela, originally from the UK, has two children who attended Ohio University. I was surprised that I didn’t have to explain OU to her and even more surprised that her kids went there.

Our time in the airport was pretty routine, other than a fire alarm which proved uneventful. I profited from killing off, pun intended, a Louise Penny novel and starting an amazing true story, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann. OMG, that is a great read and one that will make you sick as you see how we treated Native Americans and others as we pushed west. I have already read half of it.

I used the local Taxi App for American Taxi for our return from the airport and it was a comedy of errors. It would have been easier to just call or initiate a new ride. This one was one I initiated at the end of our delivery ride to O’Hare. Our driver was utterly confused as I don’t believe he received our info and he arrived too early.

We arrive home before eight o’clock, everything in good order, thank you Diana and Mikey, the only thing out of order was that my car wouldn’t start. I went into the garage to look for something I had in it and found it totally dark and not responding to my fob. It was the battery. Our six year old battery installed by AAA was dying although I didn’t have to replace it. We did anyway as I would rather go into the Fall and Winter in this Chicago area with a fresh start, if you know what I mean. I love having them come to start the car and replace the battery, not necessitating a local garage visit.

Malbor was angry when the surveyor came to do his job as they moved his snow marker in the DMZ area. I can only imagine how he will react when he finds out the new fence will not be in some of the previous areas as we see no reason to fence off the area between our homes and driveways. We are only doing the back yard. Our houses are pretty much the same model of bi-level, the only difference being the windows on front (ours were a different type and then we changed to a bay window).

It rained all night and the pond is overflowing and still not clear. It got unclear after a major rain before we had left. I am hopeful that our additional stone deposit on the other side of the pond will keep the water clearer.

I miss Cape Cod!

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