The Adventures of Super Dog and Super Turtle

When Chandler was in first grade he liked to write books called The Adventures of Super Dog and Super Turtle. He would draw pictures of a dog and a turtle with capes and write stories about them. It was freaking adorable.

“Hey, Mom,” he said to me. “Let’s have a book making party for spring break.”

“A book making party?”

“Yes, we’ll invite all my friends and we’ll make books.”

“Do you mean your whole class?” I asked.

“No, just the boys,” he told me.

Just the boys. Great.

But I am a writer. And maybe my son would grow up to be a writer too. Who was I to discourage such a party?

“Sure,” I told him, “that sounds like fun.”

And so we invited all the boys in his class (as well as a few more from some other classes) over for a book making party. I think there were 40 of them. Or maybe it was 15. It seemed like 40, because as luck would have it, it was raining. (Thank you El Niño!) You have never seen 40 (or 15) mothers drop their kids off faster, looking forward to having three hours of bliss, after having to entertain their kids for half a week during a rainy spring break. They were practically hydroplaning down the street, perhaps afraid if they didn’t get away fast enough I’d change my mind.

One of the mothers took pity on me and stayed to help. I think I cried tears of joy, got down on my knees and kissed her feet in gratitude, but I’m still not sure I adequately expressed my deep and sincere level of gratitude.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t remember much about this party. I don’t know if that’s because it was 13 years ago or because the experience was so traumatic it’s been blocked from my memory (or a combination of both), but I do remember this:

It takes 40 (or 15) boys about 5 minutes to make a book.

40 (or 15) boys do not want to calmly and quietly watch a video for the remaining 2 hours and 55 minutes of a book making party.

40 (or 15) boys trapped inside a house on a rainy day are easily bored, incredibly loud, and very messy.

I know I say this all the time and it is so (so, so) cliche, but I really can’t believe so much time has passed so quickly (a lot more quickly than that party). How it simultaneously seems like so long ago and just yesterday. (Trust me when I say I can’t remember much about yesterday either.)

Chandler went to Myrtle Beach with his track team last week for his first college spring break. I hope he made some wonderful memories.

Memories that years in the future will become blurry with time, yet at the same time seem like only yesterday.


Home Movies

My mother is trying to clean out the clutter. She’s pretty determined. I think she might actually succeed.

One of her projects is going through old slides and home movies that were my grandfather’s. During our Easter celebration this year my mom brought out dozens of photo albums and boxes upon boxes of slides and home movies. After my kids hunted for their Easter eggs (yes, my 13 & 17 year old still love to hunt for Easter eggs) we settled down and had a good old fashioned slide show.

movie projector
Yes, I do realize this is a movie projector and not a slide projector. (The slide projector is behind it  – see?)

The slides were set up chronologically and my grandfather made titles of the events out of alphabet refrigerator magnets.


“Best Christmas this family ever had,” I shouted out. (Obviously, as it was my first Christmas.)


Already multi-tasking – feeding myself a bottle and opening a present at the same time.



If my grandfather was alive today he’d be rocking the Power Point presentation like nobody’s business.

I should mention that I was the first grandchild and the second one didn’t come along until 1969 so there were quite a lot of slides of me. In fact some of my petty and jealous family members started calling it the Charlene Show. (And the problem with that is?) My kids were bored to tears. I thought it was great!

It’s possible that my mom, my uncle and I -the only three people in the room who actually lived the memories in the slides- were the only ones who truly enjoyed it after the first five or ten minutes. It was fun for us to try to figure out who the people were in the pictures and where the pictures were taken. I loved looking at the fashion. At the different era. There were slides of a dinner party my grandmother threw for her girlfriends where she set the table with her wedding china and fine silverware upon a crisp white table cloth. (As opposed to when I entertain my girlfriends with paper plates and cocktail napkins with martini glasses and snarky captions about being drunk.)

So many little snippets from my childhood.

My parents were so young and beautiful.

home movies learning to walk
My mom teaching me to walk – check out her awesome dress!

A family vacation to my great grandmother’s lake cabin that was hit by an avalanche and destroyed when I was eleven.

retro grandparents
That’s my paternal grandfather on the left (doesn’t he look cool), my paternal grandmother next to him, my maternal grandmother in yellow & two mystery people.

My paternal grandparents white Christmas tree.

My maternal grandparents overly tinseled Christmas tree.

My rocking horse.

The sandbox my grandfather built for me.

After a while we moved on. We watched a home movie of my mom when she was a baby. We started looking at photo albums. My grandfather was an excellent record keeper. Our family historian.

Damn I was cute! Who wouldn't want to watch hours upon hours of slides with this cute baby?!
Damn I was cute! Who wouldn’t want to watch hours upon hours of slides with this cute baby?!

I found this picture of me holding my cousin when she was a baby. (You can see by our age difference why she didn’t want to sit through the slide show until she showed up.)

family photo album
What are you more jealous of – my hairstyle or my granny dress?

And then yesterday this picture was taken of me holding her son. (And please don’t ask why I had to take a picture of my phone – let’s just say technology is not being my friend today.)

2014-04-21 06.29.06

History repeating itself with a new medium.

Now instead of setting up a projector or opening a cherished book we click through our computer screens, swipe our phones. It’s easier. More convenient.

But, like using paper plates when we entertain our dearest friends instead of our fine wedding china, it’s become a little too everyday and maybe not quite as special.