Bellbottom Blog

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Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Grandma and Me and Grandson Makes Three: Wichita

Bright and early Friday morning, the three of us reluctantly left the hotel in Oklahoma to head for Wichita, Ks and the family reunion. The red dirt of Oklahoma fading into the brown dirt of Kansas.   The drive up I-35 was more of the same for our Grandson, happy for a while, then rapidly deteriorating into crying.

I can’t really blame him.  I used to be the same way about visiting the in-laws. (kidding) (not really)

The last time my mother-in-law and I met it ended in a shouting match with her declaring that, “I had ruined her family by marrying into it.” To be fair, it was hot that day and by standing up to her, I had ruined her vision of how the family should behave. But, four years later, it was time to see her and we were bringing  the GreatGrandson.  If I could just lob him into the living room ahead of me everything should work out.

Thanks to TomTom we found the house.  A ranch style home in an older part of the city.

My sister-in-law, followed closely by my mother-in-law, approached the car.  I had taken the Grandson out of his car seat and held him a little like a shield until I could determine how everyone was going to behave.

The worrying was for naught.  Hugs were everywhere. Bringing a cute infant really makes a difference.  Everyone wants to hold him.  The next level of spoiling is underway.

One of the things we had to re-learn as grandparents was how to baby-proof a room.  Block the wall sockets.  Move the breakables to a higher ground.

My mother-in-law had not really thought of that.

Her place, as with every place she has ever owned, was full of breakables.  Picture frames.  Tea cup sets.  Glass miniatures. Lots of bric-a-brac. (That last one was a test to see who is reading this. It will be an exercise in restraint for one of you to refrain from commenting.)

It would have been impossible to hide everything, so the game turned into “No, Honey, Don’t Touch That.”  For the next few days. Fortunately, we were staying at a hotel, so there was some time to let him roam and not be constantly worried about the favorite thing being shattered beyond repair.

After lunch at Braum’s…hmmm..I bet most of you don’t know what that is.  Ok, Braum’s is a restaurant in that area of the country which has the best hamburgers and shakes found anywhere.  They are regional so the quality is kept at a high level. And they also have a small bakery/grocery area in which you can buy their milk and incredible cinnamon rolls.  If there is one food  I know very well,  it is the cheeseburger.  Trust me on this if you find yourself traveling around OK or KS, please try a Braum’s cheeseburger.  They are Bellbottom Blog approved.

So, after lunch, we took our stuff to the hotel and unloaded the car.  Cleaning out two days of thrown snacks.  Futile searches for missing pacifiers.  Just as we got finished, the call came that the Great-Great Grandma and her daughter had arrived at the house.

So off we went.  Back to the House of Breakables. ( HOB from here on.)

The weather in Kansas over our stay ranged from hot to very hot.  As a native of Indiana, we have a different type of heat.  It can be a little humid, but the worst part is when the wind doesn’t blow.  It is like wearing a tracksuit through a carwash.  The heat clings to you. In Kansas, there is always a constant breeze, not as persistent as in Oklahoma, but a breeze nonetheless.

We arrived back at the HOB and got the same type of greeting as before.  A lot of teasing about who is a Great as opposed to the Great Great .  The reality of our aging being dealt with through humor. We are ages ranging from 49 to 90 with a fifteen month old child in  our midst.

Sometime during this round, the subject of what to do tomorrow comes up.  It is decided that the zoo would be fun.

You have to understand that these folks always like to go somewhere. Nevermind that we all just drove hundreds of miles to get where we were.  They wanted to see a zoo with the Grandson.

My wife had come up with a strategy before we got there.  We were going to just agree with everything possible and take things as they came.  So with that in mind, we agreed to the zoo and went back to the hotel for the night.

In the hotel, there was a partition in the room separating the living room area from the bedroom.  We set up the crib in the living area and put him in it with his monkey and blanket.

Moving quickly, we slid into bed and heard from the other area, “Ahhh”.  We looked at each other and shrugged, “Ahhh,” we replied.  He started laughing.  After catching his breath, he said,”Ahhh” again, this time giggling in anticipation of our response.  This went on for about five minutes or so, until sleep overtook him. We did this every night. It is safe to say we will never forget those moments with him.  So simple. So memorable.  So funny. So sweet.

Next day finds us back at the HOB, half an hour late, expecting a group of impatient people waiting for us.

One glimpse at the driveway relieved us of any worry.  The visitors from SW Oklahoma were getting around a little late.

I will spare you the agony of wondering about what happened.  We never made it to the zoo. Making the plan was more important than implementing it.  So my wife’s strategy paid off.  Go along and see what happens.

The next day found us driving out of Wichita to find a Mexican restaurant.  The Wichita City Guide says their fair city has 1000 restaurants.  My mother-in-law insisted none of them had good Mexican food and since Great-Great Grandma had requested Mexican food, off we went.  You can’t say no to a Great Great.  It just isn’t done. We put the Grandson next to the Great Great and they had a blast.  She wasn’t able to hold him at the HOB, but in a high chair things went swimmingly.

My mother-in-law and her sister have a shopping problem.  They like it. A lot.  Especially at Goodwill. The Goodwill store just happened to be next to the Mexican restaurant.  On the theory that one can never have enough knick knacks, we found ourselves wandering through the store.  Many more breakables were bought along with a few things for the Grandson, mainly clothes but some toys as well.

Later that day it was time to say goodbye to the visitors from SW Oklahoma.  Leaving just my mother-in-law and sister-in-law plus the three of us.

The smaller numbers made it possible for us to go to the finished basement which was about 60 degrees cooler than the upstairs.  There were still a rather large amount of breakables, but it was manageable.

We spent the remainder of our trip looking over old photos, playing with the Grandson, going to yet another Goodwill store, watching Duck Dynasty.  Lord, is that funny. (That is not an official Bellbottom Blog endorsement. We have a high standard here. But it was funny.)

Finally, the day to leave was upon us.  Many tears were shed.  It had been four years since we were all together.  No definite plan for the next time. Our grandson had found his way into a few more hearts.

In front of was a long drive back to Indiana with a child who wasn’t ready for long drives yet, but we had no choice. The routine remained the same. Two hours driving intervals interrupted by Grandson breaks.  We were hoping to get past St. Louis that day and then we would see how he was doing.  Well, he made it to the middle of Illinois when we had to stop one last time.  We filled the tank, gave him a bottle and, miracle of miracles, he fell asleep for the rest of the ride.

This is where the Blues Brothers reference from the first part of the story comes in.  No stopping for anything as long as he stayed asleep

Our little road warrior made it from Wichita to Indy in one day.

We are glad to have had the experience with him and there will be a day when his Grandma and I bore him with our tale of the big road trip he took with us.

Thanks for reading.



Grandma and Me and Grandson Makes Three

Elwood:  “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we are wearing sunglasses.”

Jake: “Hit it!”

That exchange is from the Blues Brothers movie of course.  Elwood and Jake are going to the Cook County Assessors office in Chicago to deliver the five grand necessary to keep the orphanage open.

I will refer back to this later in the post.  Until then..

Here is the story of our trip out west.  Just the three of us mentioned in the title went on this journey.

Now, in preparation for the trip, you would think not much would be required as far as luggage and such.  After all, it was only for a week and a 15 month old child has very small clothing.  If you really think that, you should pay particular attention to this next bit.

We were driving a mid-size sedan with a nice size trunk. Lots of storage.

Grandma and I packed a regular size suitcase for us and an overnight bag for the one day stops.  Should leave plenty of room, right?


You could not be more wrong.

Small children need a lot of stuff.  For example, a small suitcase, diaper bag, bag with favorite toys including the ones he can’t go to sleep without, a foldup crib in case the hotel doesn’t have one, a bag with snacks, and a cooler with juice for those thirsty moments that occur just after the “Next Rest Stop 54 Miles” sign.

That is just the packing part.

Before we loaded up the car, we had contacted the various relatives and let them know our travel plans.

First day, Joplin, Mo.

Second and third day, SW Oklahoma to visit the Great Great Grandma and my wife’s Aunt and Uncle. SW Oklahoma also has some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire state, so we were hoping to take some pictures while we were there.

After that, we were going to loop back to Wichita, Ks. for my wife’s Mom and then after a couple of days, head for home.

My in-laws took the announcing of our plans as something that was subject to change. By them.After a few calls, we agreed on meeting the whole group in Wichita two days after leaving Indiana.

There was just one little problem, my wife is from Oklahoma and had not been there for over three years.  She missed the place and was looking forward to going back.

We decided to drive to Oklahoma City the second day and stay overnight, then proceed to Wichita.  All in all, about a 2000 mile round trip.

With that settled, we left bright and early on a Wednesday morning, car filled with the all the things I mentioned in the earlier part of this post.

We had some concerns about how well the young one would travel. The first two hours flew by.  He was talking and singing and happy to be there.  Snacks and drinks were consumed. This is going very well, we thought.

But that was not going to last as we found out.  After two hours, he decided that crying was a good way to spend his time.  Not just gentle sobbing but loud shrieks that said, “Can’t you people hear me?  I want out. NOW!”

This began a pattern of behavior  that we followed for the rest of the trip.

As soon as we stopped, he was fine.  We walked around. He had just started walking about a week before. He has that kind of walk drunks have at this point.  He knows that a straight line is the easiest way to get somewhere. It just isn’t always feasible.

When we got back in everything was fine until it wasn’t. Every two hours.

There was a point where we had to decide : go on or turn back.  Like the pioneers of old, we kept on going.  Over the Mississippi River through southern Missouri and finally Joplin.  Sweet, beautiful Joplin. All three of us were happy to stop there for the night.

The last travel hurdle for the first day was whether or not he would be able to sleep in an unfamiliar setting.

We are proud to report that our Grandson handled that like a pro.

Next day, a much shorter trip going to OKC.  Same two hour schedule. But we got to show our Grandson one of the great wonders of the world.  On the Will Rogers Turnpike, there is a big rest stop that has a huge McDonalds set of arches.  The restaurant is on the second floor. Pictures of Will Rogers abound. I am unsure how he would feel about politicians putting his name on a toll road.

While a lot of the country is suffering from drought-like conditions, Oklahoma and Kansas were very green.  The corn seemed to be ahead of schedule. It made the drive very nice. My wife was taking a lot of pictures. We were trying to make the most of our limited time in Oklahoma.

We arrived in OKC at a much more reasonable time of day with a slightly happier child.

After some Mexican food and watching the Thunder lose to the Heat, we settled in for another sound night of sleep.

Tomorrow, we were going to see the family and they were going to get their first look at our little traveling companion.


I can see  this is going to take a lot longer than I thought so let’s leave it here for now.

Next time: Wichita

Vacation News

I have had great fun following Ken’s trip to Texas and Amy’s trips to Florida and NYC.

I am aware of all the difficulty involved with those trips.

However, I believe I have one that has the potential to top all of those as far as degree of difficulty goes.

Mt wife and I are taking a trip by car to Oklahoma in the next couple of days.  Doesn’t sound too tough you say?

Well, get a load of this!

We are taking our 1 year 3 month old grandchild with us.  That’s right!

King Kong ain’t got nothing on us! (Sorry,got carried away.)

I can’t guarantee how this is going to go, but I will have a post about it when we are done.

With all the stuff you have to take for a young one, I don’t think there will be room for the computer, so no posts from the road.

Maybe some tweets.  Maybe some pics.

That is something to look forward to, right?

So for the next week, please send some kind thoughts our way for clear weather and a calm child.

See ya in a week.



Friday Potpourri Vol.12

Hi kids!

Today we are going to talk about a singing competition show.

Excited? No? Well, tough. If I have to sit through it, I may as well write about the experience.

(You want better topics. Let me know.)

The show we are going to talk about today is called Duets.

The premise is four singing stars pick two people to sing duets with. Each star takes turns singing with their two people and the other stars get to vote on the performances.

Still there? Great!

The four performers are:

John Legend–this man has amazing talent. He plays the piano almost as well as he sings.  Beautifully.

Jennifer Nettles–from the country group  Sugarland.  She has incredible range and a big voice.

These two understand music and are great for their amateur partners.

Kelly Clarkson–won the first season of American Idol. Can sing some. But in that annoying American Idol-y way.

Robin Thicke–I didn’t know who he was either.  His is the son of Alan Thicke, the dad on Growing Pains. He would be most comfortable singing into a mirror.

These two …..well, he seems to be a little preoccupied with himself and he had the first partner who got sent home from the competition because she had the lowest score.

In the first episode, Kelly Clarkson had to make some choices on her partners that broke down like this: She rejected one because the young woman was prettier than her and the other because she sang better than Ms. Clarkson.

BTW, I should mention that my wife concurs on these opinions.  In fact, some of this is taken directly from our conversations during the show. (You don’t think I watch this alone, do you?  Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in the beginning.  In exchange for all the sports I watch, we watch some of these type of shows together.  It’s called marriage, people.)

In any event, a few weeks from now, they will start to let the audience at home vote and eventually there will be a winner.  I don’t know what they win but they will win something.

It is worth watching just to hear John Legend sing.  The man is incredible.

But, watch out for that Clarkson woman, she is a snake.

When I was thinking about writing this, I was trying to remember what got me hooked on certain types of reality shows.  I am not counting Duets in that category.

Several years ago, on one of our trips to the Panhandle of Texas, we were sitting around my in-laws living room watching television.  My brother-in-law , much to my consternation, doesn’t care too much for watching sports.  So, we found our selves watching old episodes of Gunsmoke and then a little later a show came on that I found oddly captivating.

The name of it is Ice Road Truckers.

I had never heard of the Alaskan ice roads before.  The deal is these roads freeze over during the winter there and while they are frozen over, large and heavy shipments are taken by semi trailers to these remote destinations.  This all has to be done before the thaw and under some truly dangerous conditions. Melting roads. Blizzards. Whiteouts.

I didn’t think I was hooked until we got back home and I found myself tuning in to the latest edition of the show.  What?  I had to know how the season ended.

Not too many of these shows can hold my attention.  This one and Storage Wars.  Maybe Lizard Lick Towing. Or an occasional Parking Wars. But that is it.

I need something to watch until the election is over.





Another year

On the fourth of June, 1956, I came into this world.

56 years ago, in 1956.

11 years after the end of WWll.  Three years after my parents got married.


Thanks to my parents, I have a Colliers yearbook from 1957 covering the year 1956.

So let’s see what was going on back then.

It was the 500th anniversary of the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. The first book printed with movable type.

Elvis came to the attention of America’s teenagers.

He is described in this way by a writer from Colliers:

“For reasons which have concerned serious observers, his style of singing became a craze overnight. His singing voice has been described as negligible. So-called “rock-and-roll” music is essentially a mixture of rural Negro and hillbilly singing, to the accompaniment of a heavy musical beat.”

That was in the Personalities section. Under music there is no mention of anything  coming close to rock and roll.

He released the following songs in 1956:

Blue Suede Shoes (a Carl Perkins song)

Heartbreak Hotel

Don’t Be Cruel

Love Me Tender

Bell Telephone introduced an experimental picture phone. You could see a 2″ by 3″ picture of the person you were talking to.

Now of course, there is Skype.

In a little more realistic achievement, home stereophonic sound was introduced.  Seems fitting that stereos and rock and roll came into being at the same time.

We have MP3’s now.

The motion picture industry finally relented and decided to allow their films to be available for viewing on TV stations.

Netflix. On Demand.

Colliers devoted 8 paragraphs to Drug Addiction.   Oddly enough, they fail to mention any of the drugs by name.  They estimate 60,000 people in the U.S. are addicts.

There are too many things that are counted as addictions to come up with a number now. Eating. Not eating. Sex. Being addicted to addiction.

Disneyland celebrated its first year of operation.  Three and a half million people went there in that year.

To date, 600 million people have visited Disneyland.

The population of the U.S. was 167,191,000.

As of last year the population is 311,000,000.

I don’t really have anything profound to say about that year.  I know a lot has happened since then in the world.

I think of my grandmother who was born in 1900.

She was alive for the Wright Brothers. From the first flight to people using planes for commercial transportation.

The birth of the automobile.

Silent motion pictures.

World War l

Talking motion pictures

The Roaring Twenties.


The Great Depression.

World War ll



Then in her 56th year, she got to see her fourth grandchild come into this world.

Now THAT is an impressive 56 year history.

Way to go, Grandma.







Friday Potpourri Vol. 11

Here we are again.

Let’s try some movie reviews this week for starters, shall we?

One thing you should know is, I don’t go to the movies very often.  Hardly ever. But in a weak moment, my wife and son talked me into watching The Avengers.  You might have heard of it.  It has made 20 bazillion dollars since it came out.  We went to the non-3D version. Our son had already seen it once and he said the 3D was a waste of  money.

Now, I am not a Marvel Comics guy.  Mainly because I am too old for comic books. When I was a kid D.C. Comics were my preferred brand. Superman. Batman. The Flash. Green Lantern. Aquaman.

Anyway, my review of The Avengers is that it was very entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it.  There were some funny parts.  The special effects were well done.

The actual theater experience had all the usual flaws.  I might be repeating myself here but I am not going back through all the previous posts to check on it. So, bear with me.

First of all, it cost me as much at the concessions as it did for the tickets.  Granted they are using Orville’s popcorn now. And there IS a difference.

Second, the movie theater had the volume turned up way too far.

Then, the movie started late.

One of the ads was for a new TV show coming out soon.  Bunheads: From the people who brought you The Gilmore Girls.  No it is not about a wacky family of bakers.  You might think that but you would be wrong. Any more guesses?  I’ll wait………………….Give up? It is about someone who opens a dance studio in a wacky small town.  She teaches ballet.  The students put their hair up in a bun, get it?  Bunheads!!  Genius I tell you!

The Warner Brothers would be turning over in their graves to see a TV show in the coming attractions.

Also, there was no cartoon.  How long have I been away?  Why wouldn’t you put a cartoon on before a movie that is essentially a live-action cartoon?

All in all, I think it was a good experience.  You would like it. Or not. There is no money back guarantee with this review. I told you I don’t go to movies very often.

On the other hand, on HBO, there is a movie called Hemingway and Gellhorn.  The next part has spoilers, so skip over the following five paragraphs if you want to be surprised by how the movie unfolds.

It is about Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn.  They are both writers that meet, fall in love, get married, and eventually she asks for a divorce. Right there I just saved you 154 minutes. That is how long the movie lasts. I looked it up.  I didn’t last anywhere near that long.

Clive Owen plays Hemingway.  The problem with that is he looks NOTHING and I mean NOTHING like Hemingway. If you can’t find an actor who looks like Hemingway, why not fictionalize the story so I won’t be distracted by the fact your lead actor looks nothing like Hemingway.

Nicole Kidman plays Gellhorn. I liked her in the brief time I watched.  But, Clive Owen made viewing the movie impossible.  Just wretched.

As was the case with I Walk The Line, another movie I detest, if you can’t cast the main character right, you have lost me.  And my annoyance in both cases comes from the fact that Johnny Cash and Ernest Hemingway are two artists that I admire.

Spend the 154 minutes reading A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. You will be glad you did.

Probably by the end of the day, I will have tweeted my 10,000 tweet.  Browsing through them, you could find at least a dozen keepers. You might have to look real hard but they are in there.

Also, today is our 21st wedding anniversary.  If you followed my series of posts called Finding Love, you know the story of how it all started.  We are still here, still in love.   It ‘s a nice feeling.

Until next time…






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