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Silly Boy

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My baby boy is coming for a visit in exactly ONE WEEK!! HOORAY!!! This youngest child of mine is the one that has oddest sense of humor and always keeps me laughing. He comes up with hilarious ‘off the cuff’ remarks that somehow seem to flow effortlessly and so quickly that I’m constantly wondering how he thinks up spontaneous retorts immediately. Daily I’m saying to him, “Joey, you’re a SILLY BOY!” He has been doing this for a couple of decades, beginning as the CLASS CLOWN in elementary school. He’s never outgrown it so I reckon that it’s just a part of his personality. He’s well-liked wherever he goes, so maybe that’s the reason.

I’ve not seen my baby boy in nearly 8 months this time. Or to be more ‘family correct’, I reckon I oughta say that my BABBY BOY is visiting. I don’t even remember when or why I started calling him that but the name has stuck. Just for me though. Nobody but his Mama calls him that, but then I suppose that mothers have cutesy names for each of their children (I surely do). Come to think of it, he’s had the most nick-names throughout the years out of the 3 of my kids. I honestly don’t think that there’s been any that he’s disliked. I often call him JoeRicky, which I think is a rather cute combo of his first & middle names that I’ve never heard anywhere else. He started out as JoeJoe as a baby and had that name for several years. I accidentally called him that, I don’t why it slipped outa my mouth, last year one time while we were with plenty of other folks. I was appalled, but he didn’t even flinch! I’ve never ever even heard him say “Mama, don’t call me that in front of my friends.” I certainly CAN remember asking my own mother NOT to do so at her many ‘pet names’ for me! Imagine my dismay when my mother came 4,350 miles from her small Hoosier home to visit me at college in Honolulu and managed to get my entire coed dormitory calling me ‘Jean Bean’! Oh, the horrors! But Joey has always liked his name. When he was young, he enjoyed the fact that his name meant the same as a baby kangaroo. I used to tease him that it was probably the reason that I had to carry him everywhere! That BABBY BOY wouldn’t walk till 3 months later than his brother and sister had. In retrospect, it was probably because I DID carry him so often that he didn’t feel the need to. With his sister less than a year older than him and his brother 2 years older than her, more often than not it was just much easier to grab the young’un and go!

My family and friends have all heard me lament over the fact that it’s really very hard when the youngest child is the first to move far away. Well, it’s true nonetheless. He’s 29 and engaged to a young lady that he’s been dating for several years. But I still miss him tremendously just the same. A thousand miles from Mama is tooooo far indeed! I’m sure he’s looking forward to some of my chicken & noodles; that’s the meal that he always asks for first! We’ll go to some of the theme parks, of course. The beach is a definite MUST; everyone wants to go to the beaches. Joey usually likes to go to a beach on both coasts: the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s one of the positives of living in the middle of a long peninsular state. We’re a bit more than an hour from either coast plus we have passes to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Naturally we’ll go to DisneyWorld since those are free for us. He and his sister and a friend are wanting to go to Universal Studios annual ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ but they can definitely leave this old Mama out of that one!

I’m looking forward to taking photos. My other 2 children live here in this area within 5 miles so maybe I’ll get a few great group shots of ‘my little family’. But as for my SILLY BOY, as seen in the photo above….we just never know what kinda mischief he’ll get into when I get ready to take his picture! Another example: last year at Magic Kingdom, an instant before I was to snap his photo in front of Belle’s fireplace, he quickly curled himself up INTO Belle’s fireplace! Aaahhh, JoeJoe my BABBY BOY always likes to keep us guessing….and laughing….and smiling. He IS my SILLY BOY before, still, and probably always!

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Hush Puppy!

hush puppies

Whenever I eat out at either Cracker Barrel or Long John Silver’s restaurants, I always remember to bring home a HUSH PUPPY! My daughter enjoys them. I used to like them too but I suppose my palate has changed over the years so instead of requesting that I not be served any, I’d rather bring a couple of these little cornmeal-balls home so that my daughter’s eyes will light up when I present them to her. I’m not really sure if I stopped eating them because of my health (surely there isn’t really anything nutritious about these deep-fried tidbits of cornmeal) or if it’s because my three kiddies liked them so much when they were young’uns that they ate them all before I got any! Either way, I don’t think that my tastebuds are missing much and I KNOW that I don’t need the calories, nor do my arteries need anything that’s deep-fried clogging them.

The kids got their first pup when they were in elementary school in Indiana. They named her Aria. She was half-Corgi and half-Malamute. The dog’s papa was named Amadeus so the kids wanted a musical name to kinda match the papa, thus my youngest son chose the name Aria. We’d hoped that she’d get big like her papa but that wasn’t to be the case. She had big paws and a big head like her papa but short little legs and body like her Corgi mama. It’s probably a good thing that she didn’t get large because she would’ve cost me lots in dog food! As it was, she was a wonderful first pet for my children. She was an ‘outdoor dog‘ all the way. We lived next to the railroad tracks….it literally was in our side yard, so the kids had to train the dog to get used to the slower freight trains and the quick Amtrak train. It was so very cute watching my kids when they’d command her, saying “HUSH, PUPPY!” and then they’d start giggling because of their love for the FOOD of the same name. I’m surprised that they ever got that dog to quit barking at trains because I’m sure that the dog had to be very confused as to why these kids would say “HUSH PUPPY!” and then laugh. But eventually, all worked out. The kiddies had a couple of other pups throughout their childhood, after Aria, and they went through the same thing all over again. They enjoyed the humor, this old Mama just rolled her eyes!

The photo above is from my leftovers from Cracker Barrel the other day, hush puppies and a biscuit. Still to this day, I cannot resist the urge to hand it to my daughter and say “Look what I brought you…HUSH PUPPY!” Yep, she still says “Ooh, thanks!” and has a grin on her face! That does make it worthwhile to bring home the leftovers!

Silly Hats

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Hats! Hats! Hats! It seems that my family certainly enjoys hats. Myself, as I’m getting older, I find that I’m having fun with SILLY HATS. Some of them are downright corny! I have so many hats that my walk-in closet has a wall entirely of hooks and that still isn’t enough for my ballcaps. I also have cowboy hats, straw hats, sun hats, fedoras, berets, Mickey Mouse ears, etc., etc.

I’m not quite sure when I began wearing hats but I’d guess that the reason ‘why’ is because I was always fair-skinned and my folks were possibly attempting to protect as much of my face and neck from sunburn as the hat could. Being an outdoor kid in farm-country, my reason was probably fairly similiar to that of my parents: I didn’t want any more freckles! My brothers and I didn’t really have a large collection of hats long ago, we just grabbed whatever cap was hanging by the back door on our way out to do our chores or to play or whatever.

Times have indeed changed now! One of my brothers rarely wears hats but the older one is almost always seen with a ballcap. He was the sports jock of the family. Nowadays, his photos usually show him sporting a cap with either Chicago Bears or Cubs or Bulls or Indiana Pacers or Indianapolis Colts logos. My youngest son doesn’t like to wear hats unless it’s absolutely necessary but my daughter and my oldest son almost always are wearing a cap, just like their Mama….and their Uncle….and their Grandpa before!

As a college student in Honolulu, ballcaps once again made sense, especially to keep the sun out of my eyes while surfing and my thigh-length braid fit perfectly through the hole in the back while also helping to hold the cap onto my head. Besides, my family in Indiana had fun sending me ‘care packages from home’, and these often included caps proclaiming that I was a ‘Hoosier’ or from ‘Indiana’, as if I’d forget! A decade later when my three children were small and the U.S. Air Force moved us to Oahu, my fair-skinned kiddies wore lotsa hats plus sunscreen and sunglasses. I didn’t even realize the vast assortment of hats that we’d accumulated until it was time to move on to our next assignment (in Ft. Walton Beach, FL) and I started packing ALL THOSE HATS!

Ten years ago, my children and I moved to central Florida ‘just for the summer’ to become Castmembers at DisneyWorld; we’re still here! I don’t know if it has something to do with the quirkiness of the Guests that visit here from around the world, or if it’s the genuine cheerfulness of everyday life here in this area….but I’ve found that this area truly is a very HAPPY place and I really do like living around tourists and all of these asorted cultures! The older I get, the bolder and more eccentric I’m getting too. So now I have some hats that I would not have ever dreamed of wearing when I was younger! Such fun it is to put on these SILLY HATS and see what kind of reactions I can get outa my adult kids now!

“Boy Hungry”

Jerry-age 3

It’s been nearly 32 years since the 1st time I gave birth. Even tho I didn’t think so at the time….the nurses exclaimed that it was a simple and relatively easy delivery. Of course I thought they were nutso, as I suppose most women that were experiencing labor pains would; but in hindsight I suppose that 2 hours of labor could’ve been much worse. I certainly wanted to kick the butts of those well-meaning nurses that told me that I’d soon forget the pain when my newborn would be laid into my arms. Well, that was certainly NOT TRUE! Not true at all….I’ve never forgotten the pain. Yes, it was worth the pain; but the memory of it does not go away. Nor does the memory of that teeny tiny little fella trying to nurse as I was learning to breast-feed him. For the next several months he was constantly a hungry boy!

My 1st child wasn’t much of a talker. He spoke so few words that we were concerned enough to have Speech testing done at the U.S. Air Force clinic at the base where hubby was stationed. After several visits to the Speech Pathologist, tests including x-rays and ultrasounds and even putting mirrors down his throat, it was determined that there wasn’t any physical reason that he wasn’t talking. The doctors said that he probably just wasn’t ready! This was frustrating because he was now 3 and his year-old sister was already putting together complex sentences. Of course he understood everything; that wasn’t at all the problem. When he did speak, for some reason he referred to himself in the 3rd person….ALWAYS. I haven’t any idea where he got this from or why he did this. It was kind of funny but at the same time NOT something that I wanted to encourage. So instead of using his own name, he called himself ‘Boy’. Several times daily he came to me and said: “Boy hungry” or “Boy thirsty” or “Boy need potty”! At least he WAS talking a bit and his Speech teacher told us to encourage even this small amount.

About a year later his speech SUDDENLY improved as though he just woke up one morning and decided that it was time that he had a lot to say! It’s 3 decades later and he still talks constantly. I’m not kidding; I’m very serious! From the moment he wakes up in the morning until his head hits the pillow at night, my oldest child talks and talks. His wife would surely agree!

Over the years, we’ve often teased him with “Boy hungry” at times. Of course, there have also been occasions when he was trying extra hard to get himself invited over for a meal (he lives 5 miles away) if his wife was working the evening shift at her resort or some other reason….so he’d use the old “Boy hungry” excuse on me too because he knows that it always puts a smile on my face!

As an example, tonight when he called….he wanted to know what sort of plans were being made for his upcoming birthday next week. Obviously he wants to go out to eat! Not surprisingly, this ‘hungry boy’ works in the Food Service Industry, as a trainer at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and has luckily managed to remain at a healthy weight. During his two days off, he’s usually baking ‘goodies’, constantly trying to invent new recipes….all of which I get to ‘sample’! Anyway, his wife is off of work the day of his birthday and they have out-of-town plans for that day. But the following day is his other day off and he is really really REALLY hinting at wanting his Mama to take him out to eat too. Even tho he’s gonna be 32, and nobody knows him like his Mama, I am wondering if this boy HONESTLY thinks that his hints are subtle?!?! Finally, I stop his prattle and say, “Awwww, what’s the matter? Is Boy hungry?” We laugh. I love these memories and I love this Boy, my first-born!

Flower Delivery

protea & other tropicals

My 1st job as a college student in Hawaii was at a boutique-type flower shop making leis and flower deliveries in an upscale mall less than 2 miles from my dorm. It took me less than 15 minutes plus 2 quarters by The Bus to get there, or I could take a brisk walk and make it in half-an-hour. Usually I took The Bus (that is literally the name of the public bus system) because it was handy and extremely efficient. Anywhere on the island of Oahu could be reached by The Bus for 50-cents each way. Although I’d begged my Daddy for a car, when he visited me he went with me to all of the places that I would ever need or want to go to….then he declared that I did NOT need a car because The Bus was well-suited for anything that I’d need it for.

The flower shop owner was, at the time, the top designer in the entire state and was much in demand for weddings as well as office and resort floral displays. This kept him very busy jetting to the other islands, and he was only at the store during business hours a couple of times per week to check on bookings. Those of us working there basically answered the phones, helped the walk-in customers, and constantly made leis of every kind. The boss had several gigantic coolers of beautiful tropical floral displays that were ‘sold out’ daily. Somehow, as if by magic, the coolers were refilled with dozens of new ‘creations’ by the next morning. Our boss was amazing at creating unique designs….the prices were expensive but the guests did not complain.

Our boss also had another business, a limousine service. The fleet of limos only had Silver Cloud Rolls Royces! Part of my job was to make flower deliveries. IF the boss gave me a large delivery AND ALSO had me deliver it by limo, then I knew that the flowers were going to a V.I.P. The limo driver, of course, wasn’t telling me where we were going. Usually we didn’t get to actually meet any celebrities. If the deliveries were made to a luxury hotel, then the flowers and I only made it as far as the Concierge. If the flowers were going to an individual’s personal home, usually a mansion or mini-mansion, then a maid or butler would take the flowers and I’d get a decent tip. I could drive up and down the streets of Kahala and Black Point and Aina Haina; also around Diamond Head and all the way up the ‘Gold Coast’ and point out the homes of every celebrity if I’d wanted to. But usually that didn’t excite me anymore because, with the exception of Cher, most of them were not especially what I would call NICE.

Usually my boss didn’t take me along with him to help set up for weddings and I didn’t particularly enjoy it anyway because of a nasty motorcyle-riding has-been celebrity, whom I won’t name, that made it not at all fun. Besides, I never did like those quickie Hawaiian weddings that folks do on the spur-of-the-moment because it’s not the way I was raised (to honor and sanctify marriage). Naturally, this was a huge money-maker for my boss tho! One of my favorite set-ups, however, was at Christmas. There were dozens of large banks and other office buildings that hired us to totally transform their lobbies into a Christmas wonderland, and it had to be done overnight so that their employees would come in the next day to see the ‘magic’ that had taken place. That was so much fun! My favorite was the 3-story Christmas tree that we erected totally out of red poinsettia plants. It was awesome. Lotsa folks don’t realize that most of the potted poinsettia plants that we buy at Christmastime on the mainland come from flower farms on the Big Island of Hawaii. My boss had a couple of plane-loads of plants for making these trees. The ingenuity and the work that went into making this happen was great to be a part of!

My best memory of my short stint working in the flower delivery business was the time when I had to deliver the biggest bouquet of daisies and roses that I’d ever seen. It’d seemed unusual that there weren’t any tropical flowers in the arrangement but this was an Anniversary bouquet for an older couple and supposedly was ‘their usual’ except that every year the bouquet would get larger. The bouquet was soooo big that my boss’ wife was assisting me in delivering it because I couldn’t handle it alone! So we got into 1 of the large Silver Clouds and the driver headed into Kahala. I asked where we were delivering and the boss’ wife and the driver just smiled. I knew then that it’d be yet another celebrity. We pulled into a circular driveway and started to the door with the bouquet. I wondered if it’d be a maid or a butler that answered, as usual. I was surprised when the door opened….I stood there speechless, mouthing words that wouldn’t come out! The older gentleman smiled that familiar-but-devious smile and said “Yes, I am Vincent Price. Do come in.” He laughed THAT laugh as we sat the lovely bouquet on the antique table in his round foyer. He was nicer than any of the other celebrities I’d met while in Hawaii, thus far, and he gave me a $50 tip!

April Fools!

ImageChildren always seem to have so much fun on April Fools Day. It’s a day of silliness and merriment that may or may not be much of a joy to teachers but at least the younger students have quite a bit of fun throughout the day. As the students get into the upper grades the tricks often get nastier and the pranks might not have the desired ‘end result’, sending some of the more devious students (who….me? couldn’t be!) to the Principal’s office for some explanation with hopes of avoiding detention.

Can we blame our parents? Oh yes, in my particular case, I certainly can! I grew up in a home that was fun-loving. Thanks to my Mama, my brothers and I knew joy, honesty, and happiness. Thanks to my Daddy, we knew about getting along with all kinda folks, laughing a lot, and when it was time for seriousness. Both of our parents took us to church, along with Gramma and Grandpa Joe, and that’s where we got a strong sense of a decent faith that’s loving but not overly-strict. My parents were the very best parents that God could possibly have chosen for me. They were Friendly, they were Happy, they were Cheerful….so was I. So AM I! But my Daddy and his friends could definitely play jokes on each other, usually much to the exasperation of my Mama! They always made it a point to ‘one-up’ each other too, so we never quite knew what to expect….except that we COULD expect something interesting!

When pregnant with my 1st child, I was asked permission to test a new kind of ultrasound for free. Of course I agreed, even though it meant that my bare belly was exposed to 8 OB/GYNs crowded around that table that I was lying upon while the technician slowly explained every step to all of these doctors (he was trying to make sales!). My own doctor announced that everything was A-OK during the ultrasound. I definitely wanted a boy but the baby’s legs were crossed and the sex couldn’t be determined so I had to wait until delivery to find that out. But my doctor said that the baby would be born on schedule….April 1st. OH NO! I told the doctor that I was NOT, under any circumstances, having an ‘April Fools’ baby! Eight doctors and an Ultrasound Technician/Salesman got quite a few chuckles outa that but I was serious. My own doctor patted my hand and told me that babies tend to have their own timetable and come out whenever they are ready! Well, he DIDN’T come out on April Fool’s Day and I was extremely glad about that. But he took 3 more weeks of making me wait for his debut so I should’ve suspected right away that this was going to be a child that was always gonna do things his own way!

It’s a lot of fun playing April Fools jokes on your kiddies when they’re little, and then pretending to be shocked and/or surprised at whatever they come up with when they ‘get you back’! Then when they start school, they’re getting a bit wiser to these tricks so I figured out that the best time to play my tricks on them was early in the morning before they’d really had much time to think about it. They weren’t fully awake until after breakfast so this was usually MY prime time for April Fools jokes. What fun we’d have during this one day each year. I sooooo enjoyed this and I’m sure that they did also. The only problem was: I’d get a great April Fools trick on each of my kids, and I’d get them first….but then they’d have the entire day away from me with time to think of a clever comeback!