Troubled Toes

Grandma Kc wrote this on April 18th, 2014 9 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

My sister Judy and I always wanted to have a swimming pool. We certainly had plenty of room for one. There were at least two springs on the farm. One was hidden under the back porch. They found out about it when Judy put her foot through a crack in the cement floor. Pieces of cement started to fall in and we heard it splash into the well below!

There was another well out behind the barn. It had an opening that was maybe 12 inches across. We made up our minds one hot summer that we could turn it into a swimming pool. We got a shovel and a trowel and started to try to widen it. On a hot, humid summer day in Michigan, this project did not last long and we gave up the idea.

When we both started skating competitively, it meant attending events out of town. It also meant staying in a hotel/motel! We would have to be at the rink very early in the morning, which wouldn’t allow for driving there in the morning. I remember us talking mom into staying at one of the motels that had a big outdoor pool – it even had a diving board!

We had never been in a real swimming pool before and I think Judy and I spent hours in there that night. We finally went back to the room because my feet were hurting. We were thoroughly water logged and our fingers and toes looked like plumped up prunes. The bottom of the pool had been very rough and I had managed to peel a layer of skin off the bottom of my big toes. I started to panic when they started bleeding. I think the sight of blood was the only thing that made us get out of the pool when we did.

Judy’s toes were fine but mine sure weren’t. There was no way I was going to skate the next day. I was lucky to be able to get my shoes on and walk. I was in big trouble; fees had been paid; costumes had been made. We wore socks in the pool after that.

Kc practicing her figures

I’m not sure what competition I was practicing for in this newspaper clipping and it isn’t the best of quality but notice my hair is short. I wonder if I cut it short because I couldn’t get my long hair under a swimming cap and they were always required. Or, it may just have been to avoid more hair dryer torture.

Don’t Drink the Kool-aid

Grandma Kc wrote this on April 11th, 2014 20 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I was probably 8 years old the summer that I joined the softball team. It wasn’t a team like the one you think of today, partly because our town was so small. This was one of the summer activity held at The Wright Street Park, which was just down the street from our house. I think anyone could play which was good because I wasn’t one of the best players.

I could actually throw and catch OK. I remember the excitement of getting my very own mitt. I think it was a catcher’s mitt and it was beautiful golden leather. I may have slept with it. I loved the way it smelled and I was so proud of my mitt. I also had my own bat, which was good, as I needed a lot of help with my batting. I had a very bad habit of throwing my bat. I thought of it as “follow through” and when my bat hit the ball I just let go and let the bat keep going! I do remember Daddy telling me I was going to hurt someone although I never did.

Old Round ThermosSummers in Michigan were hot and humid and we would bring things to drink with us. My mom had just gotten a big round Thermos so I thought it would be great to make Kool-aid and take it with me. I could even share it with my friends. This was over 50 years ago, long before they had presweetened Kool-aid and I can even remember the dented metal measuring cup that I used.

I packed up my Thermos, my glove and my bat and went to play softball – I was very excited about the fact I was bringing Kool-aid to share. I guess I thought that anyone who wanted to could drink out of the white cap that also doubled as a cup. We did that back then. I remember being really warm and sticky and taking the first big gulp of my Kool-aid and immediately spitting it out! I’d made it with salt. I was so humiliated and even worse, I was thirsty!

I’ve always wondered where my mother was while I was making this Kool-aid. I’ve also wondered why she had a huge canister of salt sitting next to the flour canister. Furthermore, where was the sugar?

I really did have the original “Don’t Drink the Kool-aid moment”.

Bowling for Babies

Grandma Kc wrote this on April 8th, 2014 18 Replies

One of the best parts of living only one mile from Amara’s house is that it means we get to do a lot more little things together – the just stuff things, the everyday things. The last couple of weeks we have done lots of things.

One of those things was picking Amara up after school one afternoon so that Mommy could chaperone the 7th and 8th grade dance. It was a Friday and we had made plans to go have yogurt with one of her classmates and his Grandma. His Grandma is the same Grandma that volunteers with me every other Friday to sell fruit pops for the PTA. Selling fruit pops = extra hugs!

Another day she and her Mommy took me to the eye doctor so that I could have my eyes checked and dilated and not have to drive. While I ended up ordering contacts, again there was still a lot of craziness going on as the three of us tried on glasses for one another!

I also went with Jenna to pick Amara up after school last Thursday and the three of us headed to the new Farmers Market. On our way there, Amara told us she thought she might want to be a teacher. I love asking her questions, “What grade?” “Well, not the upper grades because they don’t really enjoy learning and not the lower grades but maybe 5th grade. I think 5th grade would probably be perfect.” How she knows that since she is only in the 4th grade I am not sure. That morning we had gone to the 5th grade class presentation of “The American Revolution — A Musical” at her school. She was very impressed with those 5th graders, as we all were, so that may be why she thinks they would be the perfect age to teach.

Meanwhile back to our trip to the Farmers Market. We had perfect weather and I had perfect company! An aloe plant she saw had her very intrigued so she bought it with her own money. She told her Mommy it was so she could use it on her after the Jog-a-thon next year! Mommy didn’t get nearly the sunburn this year but Amara is going to be prepared just in case!

Sunday afternoon Amara and I went Bowling for Babies. We have friends who have worked hard for the last 7 years to raise funds for the March of Dimes, ever since the very early birth of their daughter Shea. While Amara has heard me talk about Shea and the March of Dimes before I wanted to make sure she remembered what is was really all about. So on our way there I asked her. She sounded so mature and so sweet as she explained that they work to help care for babies that are born to soon. Pretty good answer! I love that girl!

March of Dimes Water Bottle that Amara won in the raffleWe had a blast bowling. I have no pictures to share and I wish I did! Amara’s bowling style could only be described as unique and inventive! But who cares, we were having fun! She bought raffle tickets and dined on french fries between frames! She kept going back to look at the raffle prizes again and again. She had her eye on a purple March of Dimes water bottle. She wanted it so bad! SO bad that I even bought more raffle tickets. And guess what? It was the first prize they drew and she won! She was beyond excited! It was filled with all sorts of wonderful gift certificates and we had to call Mommy and Daddy to tell them before we could leave the parking lot!

On our way home, as she admired her new purple water bottle she asked me “Why do they call it the March of Dimes, Grandma?” I had to be honest that I wasn’t sure but that I remembered when I was a little girl that they actually collected dimes so maybe that was where they got their name. I told her we would have to look it up on our computers and discuss it later. Grandma has since done her reading and I am ready for her questions! These are some of the everyday things I’ve enjoyed recently because I am so nearby. I really am very lucky!

Shea's Baby Brigade Logo

Shea’s Baby Brigade will be walking for the March of Dimes on April 27th, 2014 and would welcome your support. Please click their image above if you would like to make a donation.

Burnt Offerings

Grandma Kc wrote this on April 4th, 2014 22 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I don’t really remember what occasion first took my sister Judy and me to the skating rink but I know whatever it was we both came home begging to go back. From there it went to begging for group lessons, which quickly led to private lessons and some of my favorite childhood memories. I think I was in 3rd grade when it all started.

Pink foam spongy rollerSometimes the competitions were far away but sometimes they were at The Stadium, the rink where we skated. It was one of those competitions that led to my worst skating memory. It wasn’t the skating that was the nightmare but what led up to it. Competitions always meant that you had to look your best. Costumes were important but so was your hair. At the time my very straight hair was long and often in a ponytail for practice. For competition, it needed to be curled. My mom would put it in “spongies”. They were pretty comfortable to sleep in but since my hair was so long, I would often wake up with my hair still wet at the ends.

Old fashioned hairdryerSo she got a hairdryer similar to this one only hers was blue and looked more like the old-fashioned carryon luggage. The plan was she would wash my hair, put it in rollers, put the dryer cap on my head and put me to bed for the night. I thought this was going to be a good idea. It was going to solve all the problems – and then it got hot. Really hot! I remember yelling for my mom and her coming in and telling me, “just change positions and it will be fine”. It wasn’t fine it was hot! It was so hot that the next morning when she went to take those foam rollers out of my hair she found two of them had melted and she couldn’t get them out! If I hadn’t been so panicked I probably would have said, “I told you so” but you didn’t do that with my mom.

She went looking for the shears to cut them out. I was not going to let that happen so I stood there and carefully pulled each strand of hair out of the melted plastic mess. It hurt and I know there were a few tears but I got them both out. I had scalp burns, too that took at least a week to heal and it would hurt to brush my hair. I don’t remember what my hair looked like afterwards but it had to be better than having one side short and the other side long.

Newspaper clipping of Ernie our skating instructor with Judy and me.

Newspaper clipping of Ernie our instructor with Judy and me.

I don’t remember anything else about that day but I do remember being very bitter.
She really should have listened to me!

Horse Sitting

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 28th, 2014 22 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

My sister Judy and I always wanted a horse. What little girl didn’t want a horse when they were growing up? We were never lucky enough to own a horse of our own but for a few years we got to babysit two of them! Our family had become good friends with a family that lived outside of town on a real farm! They were Jehovah’s Witnesses and when they would go away on retreat Lucky and Sugar would come to stay at our house! In my mind, it was for 6 weeks in the summer but I doubt that it really was. They couldn’t have been gone from their farm for that long.

My Dad was an excellent rider; he had grown up on horses so he taught us to ride. That meant learning to put on their bridles and their saddles. Daddy would ride bareback but we rode with saddles. I can remember standing in the front yard as he put the saddle on Lucky and then showed me how you had to nudge her hard in the stomach with your knee so that she would let her breath out and you could cinch the saddle down tight. I think my mom found out about that trick the hard way when she and the whole saddle slid off one time. We thought it was funny. She didn’t!

Daddy and his horses when he was about 17

Dad on his childhood farm at 17 with his horses

Lucky was a tall pinto and had a mind of his own; he was not easy to control. Sugar was a beautiful brown mare that did everything at about half the speed of Lucky and followed Lucky everywhere. Judy rode Lucky and I rode Sugar. She was much more daring than I was! Lucky had tricks! He would look for low hanging limbs so he could knock you off. He even took Dad off in the peach tree once. Lucky also knew that if he took off and ran for the barn door – he could duck and knock you off! More than once as Judy got off Lucky she let go of the bridle and he took off for the alfalfa field. NO ONE but Dad could get him out of there!

The horses also liked to make a run for the crab apple orchard. It really wasn’t an orchard so much as 30-50 crab apple trees that someone had planted and then forgotten. Lucky loved crab apples and of course, wherever Lucky went Sugar followed! One of us would have to run home to get Dad before they eat too many apples.

Lucky and Sugar both thought it was fun to go down the side of the gravel pit with us on board. Neither of us had much control over those horses! Now going down the gravel pit on a sled in the winter was just amazing – going down the side of it in the summer on a horse was just plain scary!

Both the horse knew that Daddy usually had sugar cubes in his pocket and would bump him with their noses until he gave them some. I remember feeding them apple pieces and sugar cubes from our perfectly flat palms so they wouldn’t bite our fingers by mistake – another lesson from Dad. While I was always a little hesitant to do it, I loved the feel of their warm lips as they took the treat from my hand.

We really were very lucky to have such an interesting backyard. We may not have been Horse Whisperers but how many people can say they were Horse Sitters?

Jog-a-thon 2014

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 24th, 2014 24 Replies

Friday was my 4th Jog-a-thon. It was Amara’s 5th but I missed the one when she was in Kindergarten. Since then I have gotten more involved each year and each year, I have had more fun. This was the best one yet. We got lucky again and had wonderful weather. It was a bit cool and overcast in the morning, which meant less chance for the kids to get over heated. By afternoon, the sun had come out but it was a very comfortable 68° and there was a nice breeze.

The PTA Presidents as the day begins

My day started with getting to Amara’s house at 6:15 so her folks could get to the school and start setup by 6:30. Amara had to be at school by 7:30 for Computer Club. They meet before school on Friday mornings and Amara was very excited because that morning they would be working in the MAC lab. She was anxious to see the difference between a Mac and a PC. I just love that she tells me all these things! I love that she belongs to the Computer Club, too.

Amara jogging and having a blast

Getting her there early meant I would be at school early to help with setup, too. There isn’t easy access for water on the field so a couple of dads were busy filling 5-gallon bottles from the hose. When they were done I got busy filling a dozen squirt bottles to get us started, seemed appropriate since I knew I would be using one. Those 5-gallon bottles and those squirt bottles would be refilled many times before the day was over.

Amara and her friend cooling off with popsiclesAs in past years, each group would jog for about 30 minutes after which they were treated to Popsicles. The teachers had fun getting them to stretch and warm up a bit before they got started. Jenna would welcome each group and remind them of the rules. She would check with Mr. Steve that he was ready with the music and then start each group by saying, “GO! And may the odds be ever in your favor”. The students loved it. There were lots of volunteers to help mark off the laps as the students came round and to help hand out cups of water. Plus those of us lucky enough to have a squirt bottle were positioned strategically around the track!

There seemed to be a lot more volunteers this year and a lot more parents and grandparents in attendance. Some of them had done this before and had brought lawn chairs to sit on, some brought sun umbrellas and one family even made a double sided sign to cheer on their two students who would run at different times. I bet next year you see lots more signs!

Amara hugging her Daddy while he tallies lap cards

Once setup was done Justin spent most of his day helping to total lap cards. Having him at that table made it easy for Amara to find him and give him hugs during lunch and at recess. He did take some time out to run his quad copter video camera. He posted it on YouTube and on Facebook. If you haven’t seen it you can check it out here!

Kc and Jenna as the day finally came to a close

Like I said, it was a great day. They won’t know how much money they raised until all of the laps are counted and matched to envelopes but I would say the day was a huge success!