Tag Archives: children

Toy Repair

 

My one-year-old grandson and I were playing with the toy trucks I keep at the house. His favorite is a little firetruck with an extension ladder attached to the top.

The laughter of a toddler is truly contagious, and he had me in stitches as we rolled the trucks around the living room, into the kitchen, under the dining room table, down the hall, then back to the living room we went.

As he rolled his firetruck along, he held it in a fierce grip. Unfortunately, the ladder on the top popped off, eliciting cries of “Nana! Nana!” as he ran to me with the broken toy. Fortunately, it popped right back on again.

This happened a number of times after the child first discovered how easily the repair was made. Each time the truck was handed to me I was allowed a shorter and shorter time for repair. Until we reached a point that he didn’t let go at all.

Realizing the futility of this amusing tug-of-war, I said, “I’m sorry honey, but you can’t break it again until I fix it.”

Then the top half of the ladder snapped off in his hand.

Shows me.

   Never underestimate the power of a one-year-old.

 

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

For Geek’s Sake Podcast II

 

What a blast I had sitting in on a recording session with the crew (minus Al) at For Geek’s Sake. As a writer, I’ll take every opportunity to promote the current work. As I recall, should you choose to listen in, you might hear me make mention of that fact once. Okay, maybe twice. Fine. I’m pretty sure I maxed out at three. Well. Pretty sure.

The actual reason I was invited to come on was to discuss the philosophy of art ownership. Once a beloved character has been released into the world, who owns it? There are a few schools of thought on this one. Let’s use  Superman  as an example.

One, Superman belongs to the fans. He’s been around since 1933, and so has his fan fiction.

Two, Superman still belongs to the creators (the estate, in this case) Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster.

Three, Superman belongs to the corporate entities that last purchased the rights.

I won’t give any spoilers on what each opinion was, but I don’t think Producer Dan and my fellow guest Eddie hated me by the end of it. (Well, here’s hoping.)

And, if they didn’t know before hand, they now know I’m writing a mystery series titled McShane Mini-Mystery  and the first four ebooks are available on Amazon.

 

 

(Insert shameless self-promotion below:)

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

For Geek’s Sake Podcast

Hi everybody!

I’ve been asked to sit in on a podcast this evening with For Geek’s Sake which has made more than 100 episodes. This week they’re focusing on writers (and other artists) who have created beloved characters. The question is “…who owns art. The artists creating it, or the fans purchasing it?…”

Good question. Tune in Thursday and check out this main topic along with random conversations I have with Producer Dan and fellow guests about Monopoly pieces, a gay Power Ranger, Defenders on Nexflix, chicken meat grown in a lab, and other oddities that hit home.

I’ll post the link here when it goes live. Stay tuned!

Dear Suzy

Dear Suzy,

I’ve waited long enough. I’m sorry, again, for what I did and said. I was wrong. Yes, I’ve already apologized, and we (kind of) got past it. But at two hundred and fifty miles apart, getting together is a challenge for “hugging it out.”

But now, there’s something I need to say to you. Since you’re not standing in front of me, this letter will have to do.

We met when we were around three. Throughout our childhoods, our home lives were strikingly similar. Alcoholic Mother and Father (for me, step-father), who might lash out at a moment’s notice. In your family, the kids might’ve been spared, but the grown-ups fought each other, sometimes violently. For mine, the kids were not spared. Sometimes violently. You kept me steady throughout that nightmare.

Your birthday was only two weeks before mine, and you made sure I remembered that you were the elder. Suzy, even though we were only two weeks apart, I admit, you did teach me so much. Which brings me to why I’m writing this letter.

An ancient soul who loves to laugh is the way I’d describe you. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh. Your contagious joy infected me and it runs through my veins to this day.

Thank you for teaching me what a Sister is and does. Yes, I have three by blood (and one brother), but we were all in a strained situation. Fostering close relationships was not our parent’s goal.

Thank you for teaching me to be proud of me. Growing up, there were a number of authority figures in my life from whom disrespect and shame were daily lessons. You taught me that self-respect, and pride, weren’t dirty words.

Thank you for teaching me dependability. No matter where you might’ve been, should the need arise and I called, you came to my side. You were there for me. Physically. Not just a phone call, not platitudes. You arrived on my doorstep, if for no other reason but to offer moral support (and rum). There are people in my life today that know if the need should arise, they only have to call me and I’ll come (with rum, most likely). You taught me that.

Thank you for teaching me that the truth ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Thank you for teaching me spontaneity. One phone call from you in the middle of an ordinary Friday afternoon, and we were checked into a beach hotel to watch the sunrise Saturday. And, speaking of that…

Thank you for all of the sunrises we spent on the beach together.

Which brings us back to this letter. I think that’s what went wrong the last weekend we spent together. There was no beach nearby. Granted, November isn’t exactly beach weather. But, we let angry words and actions go too long. The phone calls helped get us through the roughest patch. By February we were making noise about the next beach day.

But then you hit me with your final lesson. How to live without you.

You died so suddenly. You left this earth without as much as a goodbye. You went to sleep one night at the age of fifty-four and didn’t wake up the next morning. Your husband, daughters, friends, family, everyone whose life you touched, went reeling like a taught cord snapping. With your beautiful, ready smile, and filthy sense of humor gone, how could life ever be the same?

The answer is it can’t be the same. Ever. Your quick wit, your laughter, intellect, unending support, and effervescent encouragement are gone.

Our life-long friendship is over.

Sometimes, when I find one of those random greeting cards you’d sent (with a hand-written, Love, Suzy) or drive by a hotel we’d stayed in, or mention your name in a conversation with others, my breath catches and I have to pause to keep myself from crying. Dammit woman, I miss you.

Life will never be the same. But it is better because you were here.

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

THE SNOWFLAKES

The Snowflake Generation

The title is used as an insult to those who have newly achieved adulthood, and have the nerve to voice concern over the atrocities committed by their elders. It’s also popular to bring into account the “trophies for participation” which the snowflakes were given for showing up at any given function.

Huh.

Here’s a condemnation to those who condemn. Do you know who encouraged those trophies? Their parents. Why, you might ask? Because those parents (my generation) suffered an uptick in divorces through the ’80’s and 90’s. Guilt-fueled presents were offered when the non-custodial parent came to visit. More gifts were given to those poor, unfortunate children of broken homes when that parent left, and the custodial parent refused to be one-upped.

To see a moment of unhappiness cross those kids faces was to rip the heart from the chest of a divorced parent.

So, those parents may have gone a tad overboard in trying to ease the suffering of their young ones. No, not me, but I’m sure my boys would have liked it if I had.

I would offer this piece of advice to those labeled snowflake.

My generation found the Vietnam war to be particularly offensive, and we let the establishment know. We were then called “flower children.” We embraced the title. My suggestion is for the new grown ups of today to do the same. Be the snowflake. Each of you. Share your outrage of the human condition in this our world of 2017. Join together in mutual frustration, and brainstorm how we can get to the other side of 2018 in one piece. Find your place and put your intellect, and your frozen hearts, together. Let the rest of the world know that the snowflakes have gathered, and Winter is Coming…

I dare you.

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

THE LIE OF CATS IN THE CRADLE

 

Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin from the album Verities & Balderdash

“My child arrived just the other day

He came to the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch and bills to pay

He learned to walk while I was away

And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew

He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, Dad

You know I’m gonna be like you…”

* * *

 

This song, released at the end of 1974, has touched the hearts of millions. I first heard Cats in the Cradle at the tender age of fourteen. Being a young girl, I wondered about the Mom. She would be the ‘usual way’ referenced so dismissively in the second line. That the mother is there during the father’s disconnection is implied, right? I mean, the boy didn’t learn to walk and talk from apes.

 

Later in life I married, had two sons, divorced, and then married again. You know, “the usual way” in today’s terms. Rather than whine about the now-divorced relationship, I’ll sum it up with a quick (quasi-funny) story from before the divorce.

 

My boys and I had been a part of the local Cub Scout troop. After a few years of being Den Mother, I ‘attained’ the rank of Pack Leader, all while still holding a full-time job, and being a mom and wife. So, one day in the early 90’s, the two sons and I were at the Cub Scouts Pine Wood Derby Race. Their father had participated in this particular activity and was there as well. Suddenly, one den mother from my Pack yanked me aside. She pointed across the room and with true concern in her voice asked me who that man was with my boys. When I told her that was my husband she exclaimed, “I thought you were a widow!”

 

True story. So, I kind of empathize with that barely acknowledged mother from the song, and feel I can speak for her.

 

I believe the lie of Cats in the Cradle is the unspoken impression left of the other parent. By the lyrics, you would be led to believe that mom, or whoever it was that did teach him to play Cats in the Cradle, to walk and talk, who read Little Boy Blue and sang him to sleep, might have some type of precedence. You’d be wrong. The son who dealt his father such casual callousness most likely treats the mother in the same manner.

 

As parents, we slowly become marginalized from their lives, until the grave claims us.

 

There are some who will not go quietly. Those who clutch their sons to their breasts, tendrils of emotion (guilt) fixed inside the mind, to the point of being brain-washed that the man-child cannot live without Mama.

 

I’m told there are sons who are willingly attentive, visiting without prompting. They come with or without their family, just to spend time and share with the parents. I’m also told there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I haven’t seen that either.

 

Then there are boys who are raised to be independent thinkers, by parents who know those boys will leave, just as they left their parents. It is the natural progression. In the meantime, they do their best to build a man that will become a self-sufficient, productive member of society.

 

My children are now grown men. Not only do they have planes to catch, and bills to pay, they are also wonderful fathers to their children and are great husbands to loving wives. I know because I hear about it during the occasional phone call. If I get lonely, I can look at the pictures of their families on social media.

 

I do understand that generations of parents have suffered this conundrum, as proven by the oldest of Biblical scriptures “… a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh…” (Genesis 2:24).

 

You know what’s really heartbreaking, but true? The mothers of daughters are omitted from this passage, much to the chagrin to the mothers of sons.

 

Just sayin…

 

~ | ~ | ~

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

 

The Day After Halloween

 

I am a HUGE Halloween fan. Always have been. But not so much the morning after.

Today is the day after Halloween and we now suffer the “day after syndrome.” It’s the day after dress up day for kids and grown-ups. It’s the day after the silliness of embracing childhood fears. It’s the day of reckoning. It’s the day after. It’s clean-up day.

In the year 2016, Halloween fell on a Monday. An awkward day of the week for any holiday, as everyone hates Monday.

Didn’t really matter. All of the parties and the festivities for the big day were held on the previous weekend. There were kid parties with candy, and adult parties with candy drinks. We’ve had quite enough candy by the time the damn day actually gets here. We certainly aren’t going door to door to get one more piece.

And on a Monday, no one really expects you to. Except, of course, your kids.

We decorate the house every year starting October 1. All the kids in the area know our place as the cat eyes house. Through the years, we’ve watched the number of trick or treaters rise and fall. Whether the holiday is on a Monday or a Friday makes a world of difference in the numbers as well.

This Monday saw a pound of candy leftover from the five and half pounds I’d bought. For my neighborhood, that’s a real thinning. I’ve bought more before and ended the evening handing out quarters because the candy was gone.

I want to believe the dwindling numbers are a balance. The holiday had gone through the roof in popularity, and now, it’s balancing out. Monday is just another weight on that scale.

But still, for me, the door to door experience is the biggest and most fun part of Halloween. The children are so adorable in their costumes, with parents nearby, beaming. And the teenagers are grateful I even opened the door. I have a chat and a laugh with all of them.

I remember when my kids were young and I got to help them with their costumes. Every year, without fail. Halloween meant trick or treating. Even on Mondays. Good times.

But then there’s the clean-up. If you’ve put a bunch of décor up around the outside of your house, November 1st comes with a stigma, doesn’t it? You’ll be the laughing stock of the neighborhood if you don’t pull it down by the end of All Saints. All of those Styrofoam gravestones in the garden, and the muslin ghosts dancing in the trees, all of that must come down the next day.

Looking at the chore being done as soon as you get home from work Tuesday is what’s laughable. Enjoy the day after!

 

Disconnected

 

Living in Florida, one is never too far away from the water. Ocean, gulf, lakes, anything you could want. For saltwater aficionado’s, it is a fabulous place to live.

Please note that I say this during a breezy, cool, fall day, and that this would be after the skin-blistering, drought-threatened, and then hurricane-ravaged summer.

Ahem. Anyway.

Today, while babysitting my three-year-old grandson Malcolm, he asked if I would take him to the beach. Here in Orlando, it’s an hour and a half drive east (2 hours west), and you’ll be standing on beachfront.

I packed all of the essentials for a day at the beach. Swimsuits, towels, sunblock, cooler. Everything one might need, including beach chairs, and an umbrella to sit under.

Yes, I’d forgotten it was fall. Florida fall weather can be fickle.

Malcolm happily chatted away in the back seat as I drove toward sunrise. We were about twenty minutes from the coastline, when I spotted a rainbow in a cloud, shimmering high above. As we came to a stop light, I reached for my phone to take a picture.

Turns out, I would have a long way to reach. It was still laying on an end table back in Orlando.

Moment of truth; I seriously considered turning back. I mean, after the Trip of A Lifetime, I did not want to be away from my phone.

Dismissing the immediate thought, I drove on toward the beach.

It is (almost) embarrassing to tell you that I have 3500 various pictures and videos stored on my phone. I simply haven’t had time to transfer them from the phone to an external hard drive. For the last three years.

Don’t judge me.

So today, no camera. I mean, no phone. Honestly, the phone thing didn’t bother me as much as the lack of a camera. I grew up without a phone in my pocket, thank you very much. I can cope. But the camera. Damn. I’m not even gonna miss Google as much as the camera.

It’s all right. I can do this.

We reach the beach, and Malcolm runs ahead to check out the scene. I come trailing up behind, to find him speaking to a young man and woman. She is cradling something that is resting on a bed of seaweed in her hand. I come closer to see she is holding a baby sea turtle.

Of course, the first thing I think is, damn tourist! You can be arrested for touching such a vulnerable creature. But before my righteous indignation is unleashed, she explains to Malcolm that the sea is so rough, the little guy kept getting washed back up on shore. They said they were taking it to the Brevard County Sea Turtle Rescue, where it would be cared for.

Never heard of such an organization, and I didn’t want to challenge them.

However, Malcolm was mesmerized. He leaned in a little closer, until it was no more than 10 inches from his face. I put my hand on his shoulder to stop any more forward lean-in. He glanced up at me, the wonder still on his face, with the little turtle on its bed of seaweed in the background.

That would have made a great pic.

But, I might have gotten the lady in a whole lotta trouble.

Down at the beach, the wind had turned the waves chaotic. The sand became stinging nettles, as the sea foam washed on the shore. I was concerned the weather might put a damper on his spirits. To my surprise, we had so much fun scooping up sea foam, throwing our arms high in the air so the wind could blow the froth like bubbles from our fingertips.

It would have made a great video.

But, I would’ve been too busy with the phone to enjoy the foam.

The beach did not lend itself to a long-term stay, so we did what any other All-American Nana and Grandson would do in such a situation.

We went shopping.

A lot of people bad-mouth my favorite low-cost department store, and sometimes for very good reasons. However, it is still ‘low-cost’ enough for me to pop in when the time is right. And now was just right. We got out of the wind, enjoyed the air-conditioning, and I let him pick out a toy. It killed an hour or so, and then it was lunch-time.

We head for the diner/ice-cream shop across the parking lot. It used to be a popular chain, but now is only found in a handful of places. Friendly’s is a restaurant that I used to take my own boys to when they were young and had earned a special treat.

I was more than a little bummed that I didn’t have my phone to do a check in, because sharing this moment with my now-adult sons would’ve given me such a delight.

But then I might have been too distracted trying to share the moment rather than play connect the dots with Malcolm, or to color in the milk shake as he colored the sundae on the gigantic paper place mat. Seriously, the thing nearly covered the entire table.

The true reality of not having a phone hit me on the drive home. Well, not literally thank God.

Once upon a time there were roadside call boxes for emergencies. I knew they were there, but I took them for granted. Now, if anything should happen, I would have to depend on the kindness of strangers for some help on the side of the road.

Oh. Right. That’s how it used to be.

Maybe being disconnected isn’t all that bad.

 

 

Pokémon No!

 

 

The game is all around. Literally. Pokémon Go is now played by more people than are on Twitter.

 

Good Lord. Are you serious?

 

I was challenged to upload and play the game. Even though I am far past the targeted demographic… Challenge Accepted.

 

When the original Pokémon was released in the 90’s, it was made for children younger than my youngest son. Which is to say, our household largely missed out on the phenom, Of course, there was no escaping it. I even recognized the phrase, “Pikachu, I choose you!” no matter how much I tried to avoid it.

 

Now they have revived and reinvented said game in a thunderous comeback. The droves of players of the augmented reality game have affected everything from restaurants to police stations to Holocaust Museums. People walk along, staring at the screen of their devices, and try to find the simulated characters embedded by the software of the game onto their cameras. This has led to some serious issues which the police and others are trying to warn people about. While folks are paying more attention to their screens rather than their surroundings, there have been robberies, accidents, near misses, and one dead body found.

 

This is alignment to my personal experience. Honestly, I thought you’d have to be a moron to walk into a dangerous situation while playing a silly game. You’d have to be even stupider to drive while playing.

 

Now I understand.

 

I loaded the game and got my husband involved. We caught the first trial creature in our living room, and had a good time together looking for more. The thought that this cool game could lead to trouble was ridiculous. Weak-minded, weak-willed people, sure. But the average player must certainly be more aware, right? Well…

 

One late afternoon while in the car, my husband was driving and I opened the game. The gyms flew by, and I found myself shouting, “turn left here” and so he did. As the sun set, we chased a few of these things around while out and about, and I really enjoyed playing. Maybe a bit too much.

 

Then we got home. My eyes still locked on the screen, I hadn’t realized we had arrived until the car stopped. Jumping out of the front seat, I watched the screen while trying to relocate a blip I’d seen.  Totally engrossed in the game, I became frustrated that the damn thing seemed to have disappeared. Then I looked up.

 

I jumped as if waking from a dream. The sun had set and I was standing in the dark, four blocks from the house. For a moment of panic, I didn’t know how I’d gotten so far. More importantly, I didn’t know a game could control me like this.

 

As an aside, my IQ is 130. I’m not easily swayed by the latest ‘must haves.’ Trends annoy me more than excite me. Basically, I’m old. With all that said, I apologize to all those I thought less of because they joined the masses and played this game. I now understand. It is an addiction.

 

Pokémon Go might have been my latest, most enjoyable, addiction. But I’ve had to break too many addictions in my life. I don’t need to know where I would end up should I allow this one. The police station? The clinic? Hospital? Morgue?

 

Sad to say, Pokémon Go is now deleted from my device. I’ll try to keep an eye out for those addicted, and try not to judge.

 

PS, I’m really glad my grandchildren are too young for this round from the folks of Pokemon.

Animaniacs Return!

Animaniacs Return!

A review/recap of Episode One

The first thing I do at six in the morning (when I usually get up), is check out my news feeds. There were the regular reports of murder, mayhem, and of course the general buffoonery of politicians. But then, lo, and behold, I learned the Animaniacs were given a new home on Netflix! All ninety-nine episodes have been picked up. Be still my heart.

If you don’t know who or what I’m referring to, go to this link, Animaniacs, and when you’ve finished catching up, come back to this article.

Now, there are two basic types of fans of these three Warner siblings. The first group are the children who enjoyed the zany humor and lessons offered from Tom Ruegger’s group of animators. The second being the parents who sat with them. That’s the group I fall in. The ‘rents.

I loved the show. The more subtle adult jokes went right over the heads of my two young sons, I was certain. Of course, in later years, I found that wasn’t necessarily the case. I was much younger then, and confident in my knowledge of what children might perceive.

Then, I watched the first episode of the first season, more than twenty years later. You live, you learn.

The opening song is a catchy little ditty. Throughout the seasons, the lyrics would be slightly altered to fit the current events. One line of lyrics from the opening goes “Wakko packs away the snacks/While Bill Clinton plays the sax.” If you’re unfamiliar with the reference, you can check out old episodes of a talk show called Arsenio Hall. No, Hillary did not appear with her husband.

The entire show comprised of short skits, original music, and silliness. Steven Spielberg had a thirty-five piece orchestra play an original score for every episode. The music is still with me to this day.

The first episode feature was titled “Zanitized” and it offered a flavor of what was to come. Dr. Otto Scratchansniff was explaining to Dot Warner the Rorschach test he wanted her to take. In the explanation, he told her she should tell him what she saw. This is a still of the scene during the exact point in the conversation.

Animaniacs2

What do you see, boys and girls?

No, I’m not going to tell you. Keep looking.

The overt sexuality throughout this series is obvious. The age group which might not fully understand is five and younger. The over-five set might ask about some of the references. Pretty sure today’s ten year old won’t miss a thing. Including what’s in the picture above.

One of the most surprising things (for me) was to learn Bernadette Peters voiced Rita. Never one of my favorite characters during the show, Rita has gained enormous respect since that time. I look forward to watching the episodes featuring her unique (HOW did I not know this?) voice.

The second skit for the episode was, The Monkey Song. This lively number had the cast rollicking through the Warner Bros lot, and gave the audience a brief glimpse into all of the other supporting characters to come. Goodfeathers was an underused trio, IMHO.

The final skit for the episode, Nighty-Night Toon, a nod to the old story Good Night Moon offered the soft voice of a man wishing all of the characters a pleasant good night. Slappy just wanted him to pipe down.

As an intro to an amazing piece of animation, Episode One gets 8 out of 10 stars.

I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful piece of nostalgia Netflix has provided. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have 98 more shows to go.