How Did I Get here! Page 15

I’ve been gone for two weeks visiting Munchkin 2, his wonderful wife, and my 2 grand-munchkins. Grand munchkins are every bit as great, and bring as much adventure to life as do your own munchkins. Good times!

Well, I promised you a tale of awakening, my awakening on Saturday mornings. So here it is. Enjoy.

I normally worked a standard day shift while in the Navy, which meant 8 to 5, with an hour commute each way. I felt that as I worked all week, including cooking all of the meals at home, and took care of whatever chores needed attention during the week, Saturday mornings should be a day when dear-old-dad should get to sleep in. Now after munchkin 1 came along, and got mobile, her mother, that woman who was supposed to be my partner and helper, figured that I needed to be awake early, to help take care of munchkin 1. She knew that if she woke me up, I would be a bit grumpy, and maybe frustrated. She also knew that I just couldn’t be mad at the little bundle of energy that was munchkin 1. Can you see where this is going?

So, Saturday arrives in Sunny San Diego, with cool mornings, just right for snoozing. And there I lay, on our waterbed (no wave canceling baffles in that mattress), sleeping peacefully, no doubt dreaming about fishing or something. And then came munchkin 1, placed on that same waterbed, at its foot. Seh would then proceed to crawl from the foot of the bed, all over my body, until she could grab my cheeks in her little munchkin hands and make noises that little munchkins make, right at my face. Of course I would awaken to her cherub-like face, a face so full of joy and expectation that I couldn’t be grouchy. I was staring into the eyes of a miniature angel. And you know, staring into the eyes of miniature angels is better even than fishing. Yes, it’s true.

Having awakened to this little being who emanated joy, I then proceeded to play with her. Favorite games included any kind of wrestling, rough housing, tossing her into the air, etc. I had this game called pillow that she just loved. I would lay her sideways, parallel with the headboard, and use her little body as a pillow. She would lay still for a moment, then start to fidget and make noise. When she started moving, I would proclaim – “Pillow, hold still I’m trying to sleep.” as I tickled her sides. She would laugh until I quit tickling her, and then lie still once more. In less than a minute, she would begin to move and squeal once more. Again I would repeat – “Pillow, hold still I’m trying to sleep.”, and tickle her some more. She would laugh so hard. This would go on for thirty minutes or more, along with other games. And then, we’d get up and I would make pancakes, which she and her mother absolutely loved.

This Saturday morning activity went on for years, with more munchkins continually added to the fray. As they got older, the place and time of attack changed from on the bed, in the morning, to any night of the week, and on the couch, usually when I was trying to relax after a hard work day. And all four munchkins, and their mother would combine to attack Dad! I had the obvious advantage though as I had martial arts training, and had also learned to turn off my ticklish sensitivity. They couldn’t tickle me, and I was well able to ignore any submission hold they tried. I only needed to poke them in a ticklish sensitive area to slide them off of me. We had fun through their childhoods, and teen years.

They couldn’t beat me when I was awake, and would frequently say things like – “We’ll get you dad, when your old and in a wheelchair. And they took great delight in “getting” me at every opportunity. Every Thanksgiving day celebration feature my roasted turkey. I would spend half the night on Thanksgiving eve, preparing the sides, and getting the turkey ready for roasting. I usually got only three or four hours of sleep. And since I was usually cooking for my family of six, and either my in-laws, or when I moved to my present location, my Sister’s brood as well, I was busy all day on Thursday cooking, while trying to catch the Macy’s Parade. By the time everything was done, carved, presented, served, and eaten, I was normaly exhausted. of course I fell asleep, sitting in a chair with my head tilted back and my mouth wide open. This was the time that my children, often, or might I say, usually encouraged by their mother, to draw on my face, put things in my mouth, etc. and take pictures. You can bet that I will teach my grand-munckins the same tricks to use on their mothers and fathers after they fall asleep sitting in a chair with their mouths wide open. Funny thing though. Whenever I’m at one of their homes, I still seem to be head cook and bottle washer. Ah well. I don’t mind. It makes them laugh, and feel like they’re getting me back. I can live with that.

Until next time, enjoy every minute of every day with your own family. And remember:

“There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.”


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How Did I Get here! Page 14

More Adventures With The Munchkins

Let’s see. Where do we start. Well, as I said in my last entry, munchkin 3 threw everything that he could pick up. This led to some interesting experiences. When he was about three years of age, he was in Grandma’s front yard with his little sister and her same-age cousin on either side of him. They were sitting on the grass doing what year old munchkins do, you know, picking at grass, eating bugs, etc, completely unaware of the danger they were in. As attentive parents, we kept a close eye on the three of them, but evidently, not close enough. Munchkin 3, with his eagle eyes, had found a small section of metal conduit pipe. This wasn’t the heavy water pipe that is used to run wiring through. But still, in the hands of my son, it was a dangerous piece of 6 inch long pipe. I started toward the boy, intent on removing the pipe from him before an incident occurred. Alas, I was too slow. With no thought of what the results of his actions might be, munchkin 3 launched the pipe straight up and into the air. Now the fact that this two year old could throw a pipe ten feet straight up was amazing in itself. What happened next was poetic justice.

Visions of a pipe landing on one of the babies’ heads flashed through my mind as my walk turned into a run. Though I sprinted, the pipe was faster. It fell toward the Earth with amazing speed and hit munchkin 3 right on top of his head. Fortunately, as stated earlier, it was a small, lightweight piece of conduit and did no real damage.

Munchkin 3 howled for several minutes while I tried to calm him. Two year old munchkins just don’t like being klonked on the head. I tried to explain to him, yet again, why throwing things was just not a good thing to do. But as you will learn later in this blog, the painful lesson that I hoped the boy would learn was lost to his young brain. He continued to throw anything that could be thrown for another couple of years.

The babies, well they continued exploring the feel, the tastes, and the sight of everything around them, as 1 year old munchkins do. Let me tell you about munchkin 4’s first birthday party. We held it at Grandma’s house. It was a grand party with chocolate cake, and ice cream, with a place at the table for the birthday girl, her cousin who was two weeks younger, all of her siblings, and her cousin’s siblings. All in all, there were 8 munchkins at the table, all waiting for cake and ice cream.

Now anyone who knows anything about munchkins knows that when you put a group of them together, it can, and usually does turn into a wild and wooly experience. This occasion was one of those occasions. I all started well enough, with each child sitting in their assigned seat, talking and giggling, but not outrageously so. As it was munchkin 4’s birthday, we gave the first piece of cake to her, with the next going to her slightly younger cousin. The cousin daintily picked at her cake, eating it like a perfect little lady. My child however, was having none of that dainty stuff. She grabbed her cake with both hands and proceeded to stuff it into her mouth with abandon. Her older siblings and cousins though it funny indeed. Comments were made as they laughed at my baby’s chocolate covered face.

Well, it didn’t take long for the others to follow suit, including the dainty one. Even the parents were laughing. When the birthday girl completed the task of unceremoniously stuffing her face, she promptly climbed from her chair onto the table. For a one year old, that girl moved quickly. Oh, did I say that she was another early walker/talker? Before we could reach her, she walked to the cake and proceeded to stomp it into submission with her bare, baby feet. We adults were laughing so hard that we couldn’t move, at least for a minute or two. We were surprised and amazed.

Naturally, the cake my DW had so diligently decorated, was rendered inedible. We picked up our little munchkin and took her to the bathroom, where cake and chocolate icing was washed from every nook and cranny of her little body, including her hair.

As I said earlier, life is never dull with munchkins around; and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. In my next entry, I’ll be remembering the peculiar way my DW would awaken me on a Saturday morning, with the help of the munchkins. Until then, enjoy your own munchkins, or grand-munchkins. They will bring you the most joy that can be had in this life.

“There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.”

G.W. North

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How Did I Get here! Page 13

When I last left you, I had just returned from a 6 month WestPac cruise aboard the U.S. Aircraft Carrier, KittyHawk.  The cruise had been memorable.  But I was glad it was over, and that I was reunited with my family.  Munchkin 3 was all boy, you know, those little whirling dervishes that never slow down, climb on anything and everything, and don’t know that flying through the air is great fun, but landing is painful, especially when you are only 2 years old and the table your jumping from is four feet off the ground.  With that boy, I learned that I could fly, albeit only far enough to catch this air-born child from across the room.

Let me paint you a picture.  I’d be in the same room as this fearless, blonde headed creature, working on whatever it was that seemed important at the time.  Ten to fifteen feet away, I’d here those chilling words, “Daddy, catch me!” shouted with absolute glee and excitement.  I’d turn to see munchkin 3 launch himself from a table top, or the back of a chair, as if he were Superman.  That’s when the adrenaline would kick in and I would be in full after-burner mode.  Like my son, I flew through the air, praying that I was faster than acceleration due to gravity.  Fortunately, I was young and strong, and up to the task.  I never missed him, though my landings weren’t always graceful or painless for me.  But the important thing was accomplished, the boy was unharmed, and laughing with delight.  It didn’t much matter if munchkin 3 was in the house, or pool-side, well before he had learned to swim.  When I heard those words, “Daddy catch me!”, I knew I’d better be moving, and fast.

This young’en also loved to throw things.  Everything that he was able to grasp flew through the air, propelled by a surprisingly strong throwing arm.  I often commented that he was going to be a great baseball pitcher one day.  In the meantime though, I and DW had to find a way to protect our other munchkins, our home, and whatever was throwable from this miniature titan.

Where munchkin 1 was an intellectual, and loved to converse with adults, and munchkin 2 was a perfectionist and the absolute alpha male, munchkin 3 was a non-stop action figure that knew no fear.  And life was never dull.

People fell in absolute love with all of my munchkins.  Number 1 had toys purchased for her by complete strangers as we walked through stores.  She was so lovable and pretty.  Number 2, from the time he was born almost, had girls and women (and I’m not kidding here) swooning over him due to his good looks and winning temperament.  And munchkin 3 had a way of making people feel great about themselves, especially if they were pretty, blonde, female, and between 17 and 25.  I watched him walk up to an attractive, blonde, young adult lady who was in charge of a summer recreation program.  He was about 4 years of age at the time.  He walked right up to her and tugged on her pant leg.  He looked up with his his innocent little face, and his big blue eyes full of sincerity, and asked her in all seriousness, when I get bigger, will you marry me? 

Now you have to understand that munchkin 3 wasn’t as pretty as his older brother.  But he was adorably cute in a way that spoke of mud puddles, and jam covered cheeks, and running down sand dunes as fast as he could, until his feet couldn’t keep up, and he’d roll down the remaining slope giggling and laughing at the shear fun of rolling down a hill.

The young woman lifted him up until his face was level with hers and told him that if it were indeed possible, she would snap him right up, but that she would be way too old for him when he was old enough to do such things.  Yes, in that recreation program, munchkin 3 got special attention.  He had melted the young woman’s heart.

So that was my family, three munchkins who were so adorable that it was an honor to be their dad.  And then came munchkin 4.  And she was just as beautiful as the rest.  By now you are probably saying to yourself that no one could have four children as amazing as I have stated that mine were.  But I am really trying to be objective here, and give you only the facts.  I really don’t need to embellish.  If you could have seen them, you would be a believer.  And those that did know them, they agree.

As with the others, I played and frolicked with munchkin 4.  But I had learned a thing or two from the others so that she wasn’t dropped on her face, and never had the car door slammed on a thumb, or any of those crazy mishaps that parents unintentionally do to their precious children.  And like with the others, we never spoke “baby talk” to her, but spoke to her in complete sentences, with correct words.  She too was an early talker/walker.  And where the others liked to talk, and make their presence known, munchkin 4 put them to shame.  The girl never was quiet, and still isn’t.  She’s known around these parts as “The noisy one”.  And can she ever sing.  She has a beautiful voice, and has worked very hard to learn how to use it.

Where munchkin 2 always had to be the best, and munchkin 3 was fearless, munchkin 4 was determined.  When she was teaching herself to sing, practicing voice lessons taught to her by Jazz Choir, and trying to mimic her favorite singers, her brothers would complain that she was never quiet, and would often tell her to shut up.  She just ignored them and continued practicing, maybe in a different location though.  She was afraid of heights, and so at a two week camp. Learned to rappel down a steep and long rock wall.  She was up for any adventure, and even was instrumental in getting her high school to allow girls on the wrestling team.  Her and her best friend were the first girls to compete on a co-ed wrestling team in our town.  They were also a big part of why we have a girls soccer team at our high school.

If I have learned anything important in this life, it is that the time and effort you put into your marriage, and your children is given back to you a hundredfold, and that nothing is as life fulfilling as watching your children turn into wonderful adults, with high standards in everything they do.  Also, know that children are sponges.  They are driven to seek out new ideas, learn new information, and try new adventures.  It is our job as parents to help them explore everything that they can explore, and set limits to keep them safe, and help them understand why and how it is better to treat others with respect and love, and to maintain integrity and respect for oneself.

In my next post, I will continue with more adventures obtained as I lived with my amazing munchkins.  So until then, love your family and give them everything you have, your love, your time, and your wisdom.

There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.

G.W. North

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How Did I Get here! Page 12

My last story told of a long walk with two little munchkins. That winter was a time of great satisfaction, in spite of the fact that I was searching for suitable employment. We lived way back in the sticks, heated our home with an airtight wood stove, and lived off of some food storage, made home made breads, wheat gluten, corn flakes, and butchered some of our chickens. The munchkins learned how to slide down a snowy hill, and how to avoid things like parked jeeps. Money was tight, and presents were home made, as was our Nativity scene. Lack of cable TV, and inexpensive games, play, and a lot of work to do around the home brought us close together as a family.

The munchkins grew in size, and experience, trying every new thing they could come up with, including, trying to ride our very large and powerful yellow Labrador Retriever. After a year struggling to make ends meat, I received a letter from the U.S. Navy, asking me to re-enlist. They offered me a sum of money as an incentive. I had a wife, and two munchkins to support, so I re-enlisted for four more years of military service. We drove back from Spokane, to San Diego where I had to go through a short “boot camp” as I had been out of the Navy for about two years. Because I was married, and had previous service time, I was allowed to leave at five p.m. and go home every night. I liked that.

One afternoon, I walked from the base to the parking lot where my wife, who was very pregnant, sat in our car waiting for me. There was a sailor standing next to her open window. I could tell from his body language, and my wife’s very negative reactions to him, that he was coming on to her. She saw me, and pointed me out to this character. I think he saw the look on my face as menacing because he hot-footed it out of there in a hurry.

When i got in the car, DW related the sailors attempts to get her to go with him. She’d told him that she was happily married, and was very pregnant and that she wasn’t interested. He persisted until he saw me coming. Frankly, I was amazed by this guy. I kind of wished he hadn’t taken off. Remember the Judo training I’ve spoken of. Let’s just say that it gives you options.

I was soon released from the mini-boot camp and transferred to my regular duties, which were identical to those I’d had before getting out the first time. I was in the same shop, on the same base, and with the same sailors I had left. It was less than a year before I was transferred to sea-duty and stationed aboard and aircraft carrier for a six month cruise. Our third child had been born, a beautiful little boy. He was about six months old when I had to go. There were a lot of tears from my DW and munchkins. I had a lump in my throat the size of a basket ball, or at least it felt like it.

The first week away from my family was very hard. But I had a job to do and quickly overcame the sea and home sickness. The cruise went well. I sent all but two dollars of my paycheck home to DW, to pay the bills and take care of the munchkins. I kept the two bucks every payday as it was what I needed for soap and shampoo while on ship. When I was going to have access to a port, I’d send a letter to DW, six to seven weeks before we got there, and ask her to send me enough money to get something for the family if any amazing opportunities arose. I was able to get a beautiful Korean China set while in Pusan Korea. We had the opportunity to take a tour of a factory where the China was made. I watched the artisans hand blow vases, drinking goblets, and other beautiful products. They made it look so easy. We also went to a factory where graphite fishing rod blanks were made, I could have picked up blanks for two dollars apiece, where the same product would have cost me ten to fifteen times more if purchased in the U.S. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t purchase some.

We also traveled to the Philippines, where I purchased a great SLR camera, a Tiffany style lamp for dirt cheap, and a sound capable 8mm movie projector. VCR’s and VCR cameras weren’t invented quite yet. In Australia, I was able to purchase a beautiful gray opal for fifteen dollars. It was appraised for considerably more when I got it back to the States. I made some very good friends on that cruise, and had a pretty good time. Even so, I couldn’t wait to get back home. The day finally came when we finally docking back in San Diego. As was normal after a crew, the dock area was packed with families awaiting the return of their husbands, brothers, and fathers. I’d purchased a pair of binoculars while over seas, so that when we were pulling back into port, I could find my family. I found them and saw a little boy with long, blond hair. He was much larger than he had been when I’d left, and was walking. That lump that I’d felt when I’d left six months earlier, well it found its way back into my throat. I was so happy to see my family again. The docking procedure seemed to take forever. But finally, we were allowed to depart the ship. I raced to my family and hugged every one of them. We all drove to Grandma’s house, where my father-in-law-, and my mother-in-law were waiting. It was a wonderful reunion. And it was at that moment, when I was together again with my family, that I knew I couldn’t stay in the Navy. I couldn’t be away from them. In that six months at sea, my youngest munckin had grown from a baby to a toddler, and I had missed it. Fortunately, My sea duty was up before another long cruise arrived for my squadron. Except for a few training cruises, each lasting about two weeks, I spent the rest of my Navy carreer on shore, and went home every night to my DW and munchkins.

Well, I’m out of time once more and so bid you farewell for now. So enjoy your family. They are the most important people in your life.

There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.


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How Did I Get Here! Page 11

Due to my other blog, G.W.’s Good Grub, I haven’t put anything new here for you.  Today, I will correct that.

After my tour of duty was up as a sailor with the U.S. Navy, we moved to Spokane, Washington, in a little place called Moab Junction.  Munchkin1 was four years old, while munchkin2 had reached the ripe, old age of two.  We lived well outside of town, on ten acres of wooded land, in a two story house, with a barn, and a chicken coop.  Our water came ice cold, bubbling up from a spring.   To get to our home, you had to drive a two-track (that means unimproved dirt road) a mile back from the nearest paved road.  We had three neighbors, none of them living within throwing distance.  The setting was ideal for me, with no lawn to mow.  And I loved the forest. 

Work was scarce in the area however, as there was a major recession going on.  A great many people were struggling to find work.  I took minor construction jobs, worked as a janitor in a cardboard box factory, fixed answering machines, and did whatever I could find to do.  I even cut cordwood with one of my neighbors (yeh, I got to split all of the wood with a ten pound splitting mall while he operated the chain saw.).  But we survived.  We had a warm house, heated by a wood burning air-tight stove, and enough food to eat.

The munchkins loved going to the hen house with me to gather chicken eggs.  There was one very ornery rooster in the chicken coop that loved to chase and harass them.  But still they came.  One day, that rooster pecked munchkin1 one too many times and I decided it was time for a chicken dinner.  Now I could have walked over, grabbed him by the neck, and gave it a quick twist, thus disposing of the hateful critter.  But I had a score to settle with this feathered beast.

I went into the house and got my seventy-five pound pull compound bow, three or four good aluminum arrows, and the blunt tips that screwed onto the ends of them.  I was out for blood!  I walked into the chicken coop and the rooster knew something was up.  He hightailed it to the far end of the coop.  But with the fence nailed to the barn walls, he had nowhere to run.  The distance between me and the bird was about forty feet.  My bow shot arrows at a blistering speed.  I knocked an arrow to the bowstring, and set the shaft onto the arrow rest.  I drew the string back to my cheek, centered the sight on the rooster’s neck, and let the arrow fly.  The arrow flew fast and true, and hit exactly where I had aimed it.  Unfortunately, the rooster had snapped its neck back and the arrow just grazed a couple of feathers.  It did punch a neat little round hole clean through the barn wall.  I was in shock.  I would have never believed that any animal could move so fast.  So I placed another arrow on the string, placed the arrow onto the rest, aimed, and again shot at the neck.  Again, the rooster dodged the arrow.  I just shook my head.  I knocked a third arrow, and was determined that this rooster was going down.  I drew the bowstring back to my cheek, aimed just behind the rooster’s neck, and let the arrow fly.  The rooster snapped his head back and he was mine.

I don’t know if you have ever seen a rooster get his head chopped off.  I’ve seen it done.  The headless bird runs around squawking and carrying on for close to a minute, completely headless.  Finally, it realizes that it’s dead and falls over.  The rooster I shot was just gone when the arrow connected with its neck.  It didn’t squawk, or run, or anything.  It was just no longer living, instantly.  He sure tasted great fried up and served with mashed potatoes.  And my munchkins enjoyed gathering eggs with me much more than they had before.

One day, the munchkins were left with a friend as D.W. and I had to go back into the woods and collect wood for the upcoming winter.  We had at our disposal, a flatbed Willy’s Jeep to place the wood on.  It was about mid day and we decided to take a break.  I had with me a new, little, purebred Labrador Retriever.  He was a beautiful little puppy, as smart as a whip and almost as cute as the munchkins.  D.W. was sitting on the jeep’s bed, eating a sandwich.  I was picking up some more wood from a pile, and neatly stacking it onto the flat bed.  The puppy was exploring every little stick and leaf on the ground, not four feet from D.W.  Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere, a very large red-tailed hawk came from the sky, diving at the puppy.  It’s outstretched talons grazed D.W.’s hair.  I yelled at it and raced toward the dog.  The bird pulled up and missed my puppy.  I was a happy man and my wife was still touching her head, thankful that she had a head full of hair and was untouched by the bird.  She still remembers the day that her hair almost entangled a red-tailed hawk.

Did you know that four and two year old munchkins have even fewer smarts than teenage munchkins?  I know, it’s hard to believe.  But it’s absolutely true, but not by much.  Our Washington home was built into the side of a hill so that the back door was on the ground and led into the living room, on the 2nd floor.  The first floor had all of the bedrooms in it and a door, again on the ground level.  One day, I came home from work and D.W. was in a state of near panic.  “We have to take munchkin2 to the hospital, right now!” she said emphatically as I walked into the door.

“Why?” was my simple question.

“He fell out of the 2nd story window.  Let’s go.”

So I loaded everyone into our 1969 Doge Van and headed to town and the hospital.  To our relief, there was nothing wrong with the boy.  He was in perfect health, but with the slightest of red marks in the middle of his forehead.  He also had a few abrasions on his forearms.  The doctor said it looked like he broke his fall with his forearms.

About a month or so, previous to his fall, I started teaching the two munchkins falling techniques that I had learned in Judo.  One particular technique, the front fall, was absorbed by munchkin2 like he was born to do it.  He was a natural.  D.W. used to tell me I was crazy to try and teach the kids these techniques, arguing that they were too young.  But I knew differently.  I saw munchkin2 run across the room one day, trip, and go flying toward what I thought was going to be a classic face-plant.  I was instantly afraid for the boy.  But my fear was unfounded.  As he fell, his little arms went into the correct position, his head turned sideways, and he spread himself out in mid air to land on his forearms, chest, belly, and legs.  The falling technique was perfect.  He got up and continued running to his destination.  That same technique probably saved his life when he went out the 2nd story window.

Now you might be asking how the little guy ended up falling from that window.  Well, there was a chair parked in front of it, and the window was open, albeit with a screen on the outside.  When his mother was busy, he climbed onto the chair, and onto its back, which he had been told not to do a thousand times.  But he could see the chickens from that window, and the temptation was just to great for him.  So standing on the back of the chair, he leaned against the screen.  It popped out, and down he went.  All I can say is, thank goodness for Judo training.

A few months later, when snow covered the ground, we made a toboggan trail from the back door to the drive way, along one side of the house.  Munchkin one would climb onto the back of the plastic toboggan and sit her little brother in front of her.  She would hang on to him, to keep him from falling out during the short run down the gentle slope.  I thought this would be a safe and wholesome activity for the munchkins.  But I forgot, munchkins are not yet familiar enough with the world to avoid injury, on the safest runs.  The two had been sliding down that slope all day, without mishap as I worked in the yard nearby.  The perfect day was to come to an end, however.

As the two slid merrily down the slope, laughing and having a grand time, somehow, munchkin1 shifter her weight, causing the plastic vehicle of destruction to veer to the right.  Now, at the end of their ride, they weren’t destined to come to a gentle stop.  Instead, they headed straight for the side of the Willy’s Jeep!  Of course I was too far away to save them.  I watched in horror as they ran straight into the jeep, which was too low for them to slide safely under, but not low enough to keep them from sliding under.  Poor munchkin2 took the initial hit.  He ran his shoulders and chest square into the side of that immovable hunk of metal, which knocked him onto his back and out of the way of further injury.  His sister on the other hand, was next in line for pain.  She too hit the jeep.  She too was knocked backward to lay down as they both slid to the other side, out from under, and came to a stop.  My munchkins were crying as I sprinted to their rescue and aid.  Fortunately, munchkins are tuff little critters.  Neither was seriously hurt, just a couple of fat lips and a bruise or two.  Me, I was a wreck, sure that my favorite people were dead, or paralyzed.  You can understand my relief as I held my little ones close and wiped away the tears before they froze on the little munchkin cheeks.

During the Christmas season, that same year, D.W., the munchkins, and I trekked back into the woods, on our ten acres. and found the perfect Christmas tree.  D.W. and I set it up in our living room, taking care to find suitable anchor points to tie it off to.  We had a two year old munchkin in the house and were taking no chances.  After all, trees are heavy, and prickly, and have hot lights on them.  We didn’t want munchkin2 to pull our beautiful tree down on top of himself.  That just wouldn’t be a good thing.  You know what, even with our precautions, one day, he managed to do just that.  Now I believe in God, as the Supreme Being, and as my Heavenly Father.  And I think he has a special mission for munchkin2, as the boy seemed either incredibly lucky, or somehow protected from serious harm.  There was nary a scratch on him.  Nor was there any burn marks.  It was a miracle.

Did you know that dad’s will do almost anything, bear any pain, and become superhuman when need be to make a munchkins life easier?  Here’s proof.  To get to our house, as I said at the beginning of this episode, you had to drive a mile back into the forest on a two track.  What I didn’t tell you was that after the first hundred feet or so, the meager road made a quick left turn and went up a hill.  The turn prevented you from getting a running start at the hill, which became rather icy in the winter.  Now some of the neighbors had suggested that I purchase tire chains for my van.  But hey, I grew up in a place where snow banks were usually taller than I was, and where temperatures frequently dipped into the sub-zero range.  I learned to drive in the stuff.  Why, we used to take our cars, as teenagers, and drive them into open fields to see who could get the furthest without getting stuck in the snow.  We drove on lake ice that was three to four feet thick, and did doughnuts for fun.  We raced on ice tracks on that same frozen water, with chunks of snow to mark the corners.  By golly, you learned to control a skid with that kind of driving.  On snow and ice, I considered myself and expert, and was.  But you know, just maybe, I should have listened to the locals.

On night, it was just me and the munchkins coming home from a nearby convenience store (about 5 miles away after you got to the main road).  I had never failed to navigate that turn and make it up the hill, until that night.  When I was about half way up, carefully feathering the throttle to keep from spinning the tires, while still providing enough power to get up the hill, if finally happened.  The rear wheels broke loose (spun on the ice).  I knew I wasn’t going to make it the rest of the way up.  So I carefully backed down the ice hill, and tried to get as much of a running start as I could.  But again, half way up, the tires spun.  Again I carefully backed down the hill and parked the van.  I would get chains on the next day.

There were no such things as cell phones back in 1982. and I didn’t have a CB radio with which to call my wife.  So I put munckin1 on my shoulders, and carried munchkin2 in front of me.  I began to walk.  I noticed that the sky was beautiful, with stars filling the night with light so that I could see where I was going.  For the first few minutes, we sang glad songs to keep the munchkins occupied, for I thought they would become bored with the walk.  The  munchkins, however, had a plan of their own.  Dressed in warm clothes, with mittens on their hands, and warm boots on their feet, and secure with their dad (that would be me) they fell quickly asleep.  Munchkin1 used the top of my knit hat (we call them chukes or tuks up here in Yooper land) for a pillow, while munchkin2 nuzzled into my coat.  In spite of the long walk, carrying two munchkins a full mile, somehow, I felt privileged that night.  But that’s the way it is with munchkins you know.

Have a wonderful evening with your own munchkins, and your D.W., or D.H.  Good night.

There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.

G.W. North

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Especially For Dads, How Did I Get Here Page 10

Holidays and birthdays with the munchkins started with Saint Patrick’s day.  As DW is a good part Irish, St. Patrick’s day was always a big deal, with home made Kelly-Green Puff-Ball pins, a shamrock barrette for munchkin1, a shamrock pin for munchkin2, and always, always, always, corned beef, slowly cooked until fall-apart tender in the slow cooker. 

Now back in the day, DW was a rascal who loved to get one up on her dear and loving husband, who treated her so gentle and kind, never doing anything that could ever be construed as mischievous (hey, you wanna buy a bridge?).  Anyway, (I can see you rolling your eyes), on with the story.  DW loved to get one up on me because I was the most powerful person in the house.  When we would engage in any kind of playful wrestling, tickling, contests that required fast reflexes, etc. she just didn’t have a chance.  So, she learned to use the munchkins.

On one particular St. Patrick’s day, I was soundly sleeping as I worked a night shift from 11 p.m., to 7 a.m.,   and slept through the morning. I generally awoke around 3 p.m.  Invariably, it would be one or both of the munchkins that served as alarm clock, sent in by their mother.  However, on this occasion, munchkin1 was sent in to wake up her dear old dad.  You see, DW had been teaching her the mischievous side of the holiday, you know, where you get to pinch anyone caught not wearing green.  So she snuck onto the bed, and carefully made her way to my shoulders.  She placed her little hands on those same shoulders, and put her cute little munchkin face inches away from mine and said, Daddy.  Daddy, wake up.  I imagine it took her a little while to get through.  But when I opened my eyes, my first sight was the most beautiful sight that could ever have greeted me.  And then, it happened.  She pinched me!

Of course I knew something was up, but hadn’t yet realized what was going on.  Then she said, you’re not wearing green and we get to pinch you.  Mommy said.  Yep, I had heard it from the mouths of babes – Mommy said.  It didn’t take long before I was rough housing with my munchkins on the bed, pretending to try and remove the green from their little bodies so I could return the pinch.  Of course they defeated my every effort with laughter and giggles galore.  Being a dad, however, and trained in Judo, was a great thing.  A finger poke here, a finger poke there, a light flip of the wrist, and munchkins, with DW, were quickly subdued, and given the same treatment that they had tried to give me.

Oh, remember that corned beef? My crew always made short work of it.  I was usually able  to get two meals from it.

Munchkin1 had some unique abilities.  Almost from day one, she loved hot peppers.  And her hearing was incredible.  If she said that she heard something, you could be certain that she had heard it.  Often, we’d be playing outside in the yard when she would suddenly stop what she was doing, point at the sky in some direction, and say, “Airplane!”

I would search the sky in that direction as see nothing but blue.  But after a few moments, literally, the distant speck of a plane would appear, just barely within seeing distance, and usually only found by its contrails.  I was always amazed by her seemingly superhuman hearing sensitivity.  That same hearing ability made the 4th of July fireworks display less than perfect.  We had to get far away from the display to protect munchkin1’s hearing.  If we got to where most people watched from, the loud booms would cause her sufficient pain to bring tears to her little munchkin eyes.  And one thing this Daddy could not abide was anything causing pain to one of my munchkins.  Eventually, we got smart enough to purchase over-the-ear, muff style hearing protectors.  They did the trick.

Munchkin2, he loved fireworks from as close as he could get.

Every child is so different, each special in their own way.  They can thrill you, drive you nuts, and wrap you around their little fingers, all in one day.  Each is a joy, and a challenge.  And each of them makes life worth living.

Good night again.

There is no success outside the home that justifies failure within the home.

G.W. North

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How Did I Get Here! Page 9

The munchkins progressed as munchkins do,  growing out of clothing, learning how to get hold of more things that they aren’t supposed to touch, etc.  I felt it was my job to teach them how to be safe in the world.

We purchased our first barbecue grill when munchkin 2 had just learned to crawl.  Of course munchkin 1 had already taught us how dangerous munchkin mobility could be.  And now, we had a device that could remove the skin from their little hands, or cheeks, or whatever part of them that touched it when it was hot.  I had to find a way to teach them, in a way that they would never forget, that the Webber Kettle Barbecue was something they wanted no part of.

I remembered how as a very young child, about 3 years old I think, I was with my own mother and father, running on a beach.  We were the only family there on this particularly sunny day.  I ran across the sand, reveling in the joy of movement.  Unknown to me, someone had enjoyed a bonfire on that beach, and had responsibly buried the hot coals in sand before they left.  You can guess what happened.  I ran across that very spot where the still hot coals were buried, and they weren’t buried deep enough.  I always remembered that pain, and certainly didn’t want my children to ever feel anything like it.

It didn’t take me long to come up with a plan to teach the munchkins what they needed to know.  I fired up the barbecue and let the coals get blistering hot.  I then picked up munchkin 1 and placed her little hand in mine.  I then slowly moved both of our hands toward the hot fire.  It didn’t take long before munchkin 1 began to squirm, as the heat was very uncomfortable, almost painful.  When I knew she felt the discomfort, I pulled both of our hands away from the heat and simply said, “Hot!”  I repeated this action two more times.  I then picked up munchkin 2 and did the same thing with him. 

From that day on, all I had to do was point at something and say the word, “hot”, and it was sufficient to keep the children from wandering even close to the object.  And, my DW and I had a rule.  If we pointed at something and said hot, then that item must either be hot, or have the potential to be hot.  We never tried to fool our little munchkins.

After the little ones came along, sleeping in late on a Saturday morning ceased forever more.  The munchkins loved to wrestle with dear old dad.  And I loved to rough-house with them.  They always awoke before me.  And it seems that I was elected to be their favorite toy, and head cook of the house.  So, I’d be lying in bed, minding my own business, sawing logs, when without provocation, or warning, I would be attacked by two munchkins and a wife.  A great deal of laughter and giggling, with an occasional yelp would sound through our home.  We had a great time. 

After the rough awakening thrust upon me, it was then my duty to cook up a batch of my world famous pancakes (and they really are pretty famous) for the crew. 

You know, with memories like those, I really can refer to that time period as “The good old days”.

A fond memory from my own youth was sleeping over at Grandpa’s house.  I had a few good friends who lived near Grandpa’s house.  But sometimes, it wasn’t playing with my friends that was the attraction.  My grandparents treated me like a prince.  The morning would start with breakfast, and what a breakfast it was.  I was a skinny kid who was two years behind all of my peers in growth.  That worked to my advantage, as my Grandmother was always trying to “fatten me up”.  To give you a sense of how skinny I was, I weighed in at thirty-two pounds in 2nd grade. 

Breakfast always started with a grain.  Sometimes it was a sugar coated cereal such as Sugar Smacks, or Life.  Sometimes it was simply a slice of bread soaked in milk, with a teaspoon of sugar sprinkled on top.  The was followed by one of three offerings, 2 poached eggs, made in butter lined poaching cups (can you say yum!) and placed on buttered toast, with a side of either bacon or sausage, and a bit glass of my all time favorite beverage – ice-cold milk, or pancakes and syrup, again with sausage, or bacon, and milk, or waffles with the same sides.  I loved all of those equally, but most often had pancakes.  My Grandpa would come in with a platter-full, singing a little verse while he carried them into the dining room.  That verse has become aa required part of any pancake breakfast at my home.  It goes like this.  “Pancakes are delicious.  Pancakes are so fine.  I oughta know, ‘cause I like ‘em so, that I eat ‘em all the time.”  It’s a tradition.  Munchkin 1 & 2 know that song as well, as do the later munchkins.  I haven’t got to them yet.

Side note:  We have a pancake breakfast at our church every spring, with real maple syrup from one of our member’s sugar shack.  It has been determined that I am to be the head pancake maker at this function, until time ends.  So, that being the case, and since it’s my recipe that is used and loved, I make everyone who attends sing that little song before I will start serving up the food.  Yes, knowledge is power. Heh, heh.

Anyways, back to my own family;   Breakfast was followed by Tarzan, Superman, Thunder Cats, Voltron, The Smurfs, and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons, with maybe some Bugs Bunny thrown in for fun.  The rest of the weekend was spent catching up on chores, and then some kind of family activity, which could be anything from a visit at Grandma’s, to an afternoon at the beach.  And since I was a sailor at the time, and stationed at North Island Naval Air Station on Coranado Island, we got to use the beach that was owned by the Navy.  There wasn’t the crush of people there, as there was on all of the San Diego beaches.  We had a lot of fun.

Before the munchkins were good swimmers, we lived in a condo complex in a little nearby town called Santee.  There was a pool available to us.  To teach the munchkins to swim, I’d put there inflatable “floties” on their little arms and carry them into the pool, one at a time.  The water was up to my chest, and was deep to them.  We had enormous fun.  At that time in my life, I could swim 1 ½ lengths of an Olympic sized pool underwater, in one breath.  I’d also had scuba lessons and so was a pretty good swimmer (I grew up next to a very large river – 35 foot deep and ¾ of a mile wide in many places) as I’d been swimming most of my life.  The first thing I did to get the munchkins accustomed to the water was done in the bath tub.  When they were big enough to sit up by themselves,  I would play with them in the tub, me on the outside, or in swimming trunks.  We would splash water and play with tub toys while I washed them up.  I always had a pitcher with me, and would occasionally fill it and pour a continuous stream of water in front of them.  I loved watching them reach out to try and grab the stream, not understanding why their little hands just couldn’t get hold of that interesting looking liquid.  Every now and again, I would just dump a pitcher full of water over their head.  They quickly became accustomed to this and though it part of the “play time with dad”.  Needless to say, the munchkins loved taking baths. 

When I’d take them to the pool, I would jump up and down in the water, holding the either of the munchkins, and suddenly pinch a little nose and submerge for an instant.  They would gasp as they came out of the water and blink a few times, but were ok with it as they had lots of water poured over their heads in the tub.  Before long, they were holding my neck, while lying on my back as I swam from one end of the pool to the other, using the breast stroke.  When they got used to that, I swam under water with them holding me the same way.  They loved it.  Shortly after that, they learned to swim on their own.  And that’s when things became challenging!

We’d all be playing in the pool and I’d hear from one of the kids, “Daddy, catch me!”, at which point I’d turn to see a little munchkin body flying through the air toward me.  And they loved to show off their “diving” skills, doing flips through the air, and cannon balls, and swan dives, none of which displayed any semblance of grace or coordination.  And of course DW and I would compliment them on their form and amazing ability.  Sometimes we’d have splash fights, or chicken fights, with one munchkin riding on Mommy’s shoulder, and the other on mine.  They liked mine better because Mommy always got tripped up and lost. Remember, I’m the one with the judo training.

Well, it’s late yet again, and I need sleep.  So goodnight and sleep well.  I hope you have as much fun with your family as I did, and still do with mine.


“There is no success outside the home that justifies failure in the home.”

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