How Did I Get Here! Page 8

HI everyone;

Yesterday, I gave you pictures, and a request for comments.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  As there were no comments made, I’ll assume that everyone knows how to grill the perfect turkey.  So for today’s page, we will continue our journey back to a time when life was more innocent, and babies ruled the home.

Munchkin 2 grew quickly and was soon sitting up by himself.  Like his sister, he couldn’t wait to learn how to manipulate his little arms and legs so that he was mobile.  And like with his sister, I couldn’t help but to assist him at every opportunity.

Before long, he was taking his first tentative steps, and falling backward to a sitting position, further proof that babies were born short for a reason.  With mobility came the challenges of life.  Munchkin 2 proved adept at grasping things that he shouldn’t be touching, like anything hanging from any table-top that he could reach.  He pulled things down on himself regularly.  Of course this would create a noisy and sad little munchkin that we would soon console to the best of our ability.

It was at this time period that we purchased, for munchkin 1, a Wonder Horse, you know, that incredible toy that looked like it had just jumped from a merry-go-round and onto a spring-loaded frame that allowed a youthful rider to either bounce up and down, or rock forward and backward energetically.  This Wonder Horse was a full sized version, the largest we could find at Toys-R-Us.  When we placed munchkin 1 in the saddle, and showed her how to hold onto the wooden dowels that poked out from either side of the horse’s head, she just sat there… for a moment.  So wanting our first born to experience the thrill of riding this wonderful toy, we lightly bounced it with our hands.  At first, she was a little frightened.  But before long, munchkin 1 was riding Wonder horse like a pro, in both modes.

There was an obvious problem with this toy though.  It was so large, that though our beautiful and adventurous little girl could climb onto the frame, she couldn’t swing her legs up onto the saddle.  It was frustrating for her.  and it wasn’t that she was clumsy or inept.  She was very agile.  Rather, the toy was just too big for her little body to navigate.  So I thought about the problem and came up with a solution.  I purchased a piece of plywood and cut it to the proper length and width to fit the frame from sided to side.  This provided a platform that allowed munchkin 1 to climb onto and then into the saddle.  Unfortunately, the platform got in the way of the horsey legs.  I solved that problem with a jig saw, but cutting the plywood into an hourglass shape.  The legs cleared the platform easily, and munchkin could climb aboard any time she wanted.

Remember the story where munchkin 1 chased down the thief and gave him what for?  That was an aberration from her normal character.  She loved to share, and to make others smile; and she loved playing with munchkin 2.  It didn’t take long before she was asking us to place her brother onto the horse in front of her.  She would then hold him in place with her little arms while she grasped the wooden handles, and give him a ride.  We of course thought that this was perfect, as it allowed us time to get chores done, at least for a little while.  And how did our little guy react?  He loved almost every minute of it.  She sometimes bounced him up and down, and sometimes rocked forward and back, always with extreme energy.  She could really get that horse moving. 

Now I said that usually, munchkin 2 loved riding with his sister.  But there were times when all was not fun and laughter.  Occasionally, munchkin 1 would get that horse moving so briskly that her “not yet walking” brother couldn’t keep up, and his poor little chin, or nose, or forehead would bounce against the back of that horse’s sturdy plastic neck.

Several years previous to this time, I rode real horses, out of a stable located on Millington Naval Air Station, in Tennessee.  Some of the horses were notorious for trying to lose an inexperienced rider.  One day, I swung into the saddle of one such animal.  Her reins stretched from her mouth to her tail, and I accidently sat on them.  Wouldn’t you know it but this huge, and fast creature decided that this was the perfect moment to bolt. 

So there I was, with the horse galloping down the trail as fast as her legs would carry her, while I was standing in the stirrups, trying to pull the excess reins out from under me.  I was in no danger of being thrown, but knew that I had to get the mare under control before she did something extra stupid that would hurt either her or me.  The best way to stop a bolting horse is to turn tis head firmly to one side or the other, using the reins.  And of course I couldn’t because I was sitting on them.

Just as I got the reigns firmly in hand and started turning the mare’s head, she ran me into a tree-full of low hanging branches, some of which broke against my body, while others whipped me in the face.  I had numerous holes in my brand new jacket, scratches on may face, and was very angry.  That’s when I learned that the top of a horse’s head is tougher than is my hand.  I punched this critter right on the crown of her head, between the ears.  And I punched her hard.  From martial arts training, I know how to hit things hard, to break boards, and to maximize the force of the blow while still protecting my knuckles and wrist.  Even so, the man that thinks he’s going to hurt a horse by punching it between the ears, either is ignorant of the hardness of a horse’s skull, or is a fool.  I can honestly say that I was ignorant.  I only made that mistake once!

I imagine that to munchkin 2, striking that toy horse’s neck and head was to him like punching that live horse’s head was to me, except that he did it with his face!  You can guess the results.  It took several episodes of careful explanation before munchkin 1 understood that when she shared the horse with munchkin 2, she couldn’t ride him quite so vigorously.  But she did learn.  Eventually, munchkin 2 could sit behind her and hold on well enough that we didn’t have to worry about face-plants any more.

Remember how munchkin 1 was the prettiest baby ever?  Well munchkin 2 came into his own at about 2 years of age.  The face plants did nothing to harm his cute little munchkin face.  All of the neighborhood ladies, and girls oohed and ahhed over him.  This continued until he got married.  His 5th grade teacher was so enthralled with him that she confided in us that she wished that either he was much older, or that she was much younger, because he was just so adorable.  Girls were drawn to him like a bear is drawn to honey.

All I know is that these two scary smart munchkins, and later, munchkin’s 3 and 4, were to give us more joy, and more challenges than any thing else in our lives.  Both he and his youngest sister are experiencing those same challenges and joys right now, with a two year old, and a 1 year old, both of whom are scary smart, and as cute as munchkins can possibly be.  All I can say is, good luck!  But that’s their story.

One more thing before I close; there was a leader from our church who said something so profound, that I have made it my mantra.  But since my memory isn’t exact, I will paraphrase it just a little. – “No success outside the home can justify failure within the home.”  What that means to me is that family comes before all else, period.

Goodnight once more, and I wish you a great night;  G.W.North

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How Did I Get Here! Page 7

On this page, I give you a picture of the crown roast recipe from a couple posts back.  I’m also showing you a picture of a perfectly cooked, grilled turkey.  Want the technique and recipe?  Leave me a comment.  Let me know.


Goodnight.  I wish you a wonderful evening.


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How Did I Get Here! Page 6

Munchkin 2 came along, much the same way as Munchkin 1, only faster.  Where Munchkin 1 took many hours of labor, munchkin 2 fewer; and Mommy got to see him right away.  Like his older sister, he grew quickly, both in body and mind.  And like his sister, he was a sponge for knowledge and experience.  He couldn’t’ learn fast enough. 

Munchkin 2 had the advantage of more experienced parents.  I still had him tasting flavors and experiencing life’s excitement too early.  And it didn’t seem to hurt him a bit.  One of his favorite games frightened many an adult who saw it.  You see, I have had great eye/hand coordination, and exceptional timing ability most of my life.  Some of it was natural ability with which I was blessed.  Some of it was learned avoiding very large trees while riding dirt bikes through thick forests, where I’d miss the occasional turn at high speed, and some how came out of the other side of the woods without bouncing off of anything.  But this isn’t about me. 

Like many adult males, I thought I was invincible, had too little humility, and believed I could do and accomplish anything.  When munchkin 2 was old enough (and that would mean sturdy enough) to not be quite so fragile, I started raising him up, while grasping his little chest, until I could lift him no further, as I came to the end of my reach.  At that point, I would let go and he would continue upward for a few feet, then drop back, where I would catch him by the thighs, and lower him toward the ground, inverting him in the process.  As he dropped, he would swing in an arch between my legs until I was again at the end of my reach.  Then, I would  swing him forward and up, and drop him when he was about eye level with me.  I catch him again by the chest, and lower him gently to the ground.  He laughed and giggled, and squealed at this game, the motions taking far less time to execute than for you to read this description. 

DW was fairly used to my playtime with the kids.  She’d seen it with munchkin 1, knew of my training, and had witnessed first hand my athleticism.  It didn’t worry her that I played with our children in such a fashion.  Other people weren’t so sure of my abilities.  Usually, when around other people, I played other, less potentially hazardous games with the munchkins.  Another favorite of my munchkins, and every munchkin I’ve ever been privileged to play with, was to lay on my back, with my knees lifted toward the sky, and both feet planted on the ground.  I would sit a child on my knees, and take their feet in my hands, one in each, and make sounds like I was a car starting.  Then, it was a simple mater to bounce my knees slightly up and down, and sway them from side to side.  The idea was to give the children a virtual wild car ride, which they absolutely loved.  As they grew older, they were able to interact better and make the engine noises, pretend to steer the air-steering wheel, and work the “petals”.   There were so many other games that we played.  We’d wrestle on the floor, where I’d pretend to get pinned, or a host of other things to entertain and teach them. 

One sunny day, we wanted to take family pictures.  Mommy was taking the pictures while I held the munchkins.  We’d already taken pictures with Mommy holding them.  Munchkin 2 as in my arms, and mommy snapped the photograph.  She said “Now pick up your daughter so I can get a picture of you and her.  So I placed munchkin 2 on his feet, on a concrete sidewalk, and reached for my daughter.  DW said in a panicked voice; “What are you doing!” just as I heard the sickening sound of my son hitting the ground.

You see, I was so used to setting munchkin 1 on the ground, or floor, and her just taking off at a run, completely stable and capable, that I didn’t even think that I was placing my precious boy, who couldn’t stand up yet, on his feet, on the sidewalk.

There are only a few times in my life as an adult, that I have had a serious lump in my throat.  These were, when a loved one died, and when I set my baby boy on his feet, and he did a face plant on the concrete.  He cried so hard, and I felt so horrible. 

That day, I learned an important truth.  God planned that babies would be small, and I’m convinced that part of that plan was so that they wouldn’t have far to fall when their dad’s did stupid things.

Munchkin 2 was for the most part, unhurt.  He didn’t even get a bruise out of the experience.  He got enough of those without my help as he went through life, and a few stitches as well.

Finally the day came when I was out of the Navy.  Eventually, we moved Northward to Spokane, Washington.  But that’s another page.

So before I quit for the day, here’s another little recipe for you, one that I think you’ll enjoy.

Really Good Carrot Cake with  Cream Cheese Glaze

I developed this recipe after trying several that had just too much fat in them.  Though I’ve reduced the fat by half compared to the original recipe, this carrot cake has a rich flavor, and a wonderfully moist texture.  I also modified my basic cream cheese icing recipe to turn it into a dreamy smooth glaze that flows to blanket the cake, and is still thick enough to make a perfect coating, and still be used between layers. 

Tip:  Replace the Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake with this and the lucky person who receives it will be begging you for the recipe.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.

Carrot Cake

Dry Ingredients:
2 ½ cup flour (all purpose or whole wheat, your choice)
2 cups sugar or Sucrolose (Splenda) sweetener
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg.

Wet Ingredients:
2/3 cup cooking oil
4 large eggs
½ cup water
1 tbs. dark molasses
1/8 cup pineapple juice

Fruits & Nuts
2 cups finely shredded carrots
½ cup crushed pineapple
1 cup broken walnut pieces
1 cup plumped raisins

Preheat oven to 350’ F. 
Grease and butter a 10” springform pan, or 9X11 cake pan.
Place the raisins in a microwave safe dish with just enough water to cover and heat for three minutes on high.  Let sit for three more minutes and drain.  Set aside.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  This will insure that the batter isn’t over-mixed.  Combine the contents of the two bowls together and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk until everything is combined.  Fold in the fruits and nuts.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and place in the hot oven.  Bake for  45 minutes.  When the time has elapsed, insert a clean butter knife into the center of the cake.  If it pulls out clean, remove the cake from the oven.  If there is uncooked batter on the knife, put it back into the oven for about ten more minutes and retest.  When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Glaze
You can use this to top lots of things besides carrot cake.  But it’s superb on carrot cake too.

½ cup unsalted butter
5 cups confectioners sugar or powdered sugar
3 tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. cream cheese

Melt the butter in a large, microwave bowl.  Add the cream cheese and microwave for 2 minutes on high setting.  Stir until silky smooth.  Stir in the water and vanilla extract until smooth.  Slowly add the sugar while beating with wire whisk until all is incorporated into the icing.  Let it cool to room temperature. 

Icing the Cake.
Use a long, sharp knife to cut the cake into two equal layers.  Slide a thin, plastic cutting sheet between the layers and lift off the top one.  Spread 4 tbs. of the cream cheese glaze over the bottom layer.  Put the top layer back on.  Spread the remaining glaze over the top, allowing it to run down the sides in sheets.  Clean up any excess from around the cake bottom.

I love this cake refrigerated and cold.  My wife prefers it at room temperature.  Either way, this might just become one of your all time favorite cakes.

From the Kitchen of G.W.North

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How Did I Get Here! Page 5

It’s another too busy day. But I didn’t get a chance to add to the blog yesterday, and so I’m making sure to give you something of worth today.

One more quick story about munchkin 1: We were babysitting twin boys who spent most of their time in a play pen, when at their own home. In my home, they were allowed more freedom to explore. Because they were always in close proximity to each other, they were apt to steal toys from one to the other.

On this day, our little munchkin was playing with a toy, with the boys nearby. They also had baby toys to play with. Well, I guess they weren’t satisfied with what they had. One of the boys came over and took munchkin’s toy away. Now you have to understand, they were all three at the crawling stage.

Munchkin calmly turned and got a second toy and began playing with it. The same boy again crawled over and stole it. Munchkin again grasped another toy and began playing calmly. What happened next was classic and was again one of those situations that make parents suppress laughter that is just trying to burst out. When this little thief came and stole munchkin’s third toy, she suddenly went into pursuit mode. The other child was crawling as quickly as he could, for I believe he sensed the wrath of an angry female coming toward him. Munchkin outpaced him and soon had him wrestled to the ground, where she re-took the toy and then proceeded to whap him about the face and head several times. We, of course, rushed to separate them, and try to express our dislike of fighting. But really, the boy had it coming. This same daughter, turned into a gentle, and loving woman, full of compassion. But on that one day, she was an Amazon Warrior.

Munchkin 2 came a little less than two years after munchkin 1. This time, we were blessed with a boy. He looked completely different than his sister. He wasn’t quite as pretty, and complete strangers didn’t spontaneously give him gifts. But he was adorable (can a guy say adorable?) and immediately grabbed my heart strings, just like his sister had. I foresaw endless hours of frolic and fun with munchkin 2.

This one, unlike his sister, was born with hair, medium brown and so very fine and straight. Btu it grew in a peculiar pattern. It laid down properly on the sides and back. But in an inch wide line, running from his forehead to the back of his head, it stood straight up.

Now you have to understand, my parents lived in the Midwest, while I was a sailor on the west coast. And being a dutiful son, who was full of pride and joy at having a second incredible child in my home, I sent pictures of munchkin 2 to his grandparents. Someone told grandpa that we cut the boys hair in a mohawk. Shortly thereafter, grandpa called and demanded; “What in the world did you cut his hair like that for?” He wasn’t impressed. It took a good deal of explaining to convince him that munchkin 2’s hair did that all by itself, in spite of our best efforts to make the center lay down.

Now mommy was blessed with plenty of mother’s milk, so much so that she expressed the extra and gave it to a military hospital for premie babies. And the milk was rich and good for our munchkins first meals. Of course, munchkin 1 had been used to getting all of our attention. And she seemed to have a sixth sense of when munchkin 2 was finished feeding, at which point, no matter what room she was in, she would come to where her mother was and demand, “Put he down. It’s my turn.” Meaning that she wonted to be held, and to soak up some attention herself. At that point, I would take munchkin 2 and let DH give her daughter the attention she craved.

As far as food goes, not one of my children was picky. They ate with gusto, anything and everything put before them. And me, being the lover of good food that I am, had them trying all kinds of flavors and textures, almost from birth. I may have been scolded a tie or two for putting something on the end of a finger and placing it in a munchkin’s mouth. By the time they were five years old, they’d had everything from potted meat sandwiches, to escargot, to calamari, and just about any kind of meat, fowl, or seafood that I could get my hands on. And veggies, none were off limits, including hot peppers. They must have gotten their food tastes from me.

I have to close now as I have to drive my son several hundred miles tonight, so that he can catch a train. And I want to be well rested before starting that journey. So here’s a recipe that I hope you enjoy.

Crown Roast

Alright, you on the left, tell me how you’re going to cook this dish. Remember, this is an elegant one, so it must be done right. What’s that? You don’t have a clue? Yes you do. You just need a bit of coaching.
The crown rib roast is the best tasting, most succulent piece of pork I have ever cooked, or eaten. It is beautiful to the eye, and to the mouth. This roast is made from the baby-back ribs. The ends are frenched”, that is, the small eye of meat, and the meat between the bones is removed from the bone end. That meat can then be used for sausage, or stuffing, or kabobs, etc. When purchasing the ribs, ask your butcher to leave the tenderloin attached. This will give you much more meat than ordinary baby-back ribs. Also, when the meat is formed into the classic Crown shape, the loin will act as a base to hold in the stuffing.
Most butchers will French the ribs for you upon request, though the butcher I went to didn’t. After I found out how easy the process was, I was glad he didn’t. I now have about three pounds of meat and bone with which to make a grand pot of baked beans, bean soup, and stir-fry (not all at once of course).
This roast is best when cooked in a smoky barbecue, though it is quite good roasted in the oven. Usually some kind of rub or marinade is used to treat and tenderize the meat starting the day before. Then while cooking, a glaze is brushed over the meat. The center is filled with fruits, farce meat, or stuffing after the crown roast is placed on the platter. Colorful vegetables placed around the roast complete the dish.
The following is just one way to prepare this elegant roast. You will undoubtedly find your own way to flavor your roast to perfection.
Rack of Baby-Back Ribs with at least 16 bones. The chine bones should be removed.
3 cups Mandarin Orange slices
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper, coarse grind
1/2 cup Sugar, or Sweetener
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium cooking Onion, diced
1 orange Bell Pepper
1 yellow Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
2 whole Cooking Onions
1 cup Brown-Rice
2 cups Water
3 fresh Red Tomatoes, uncooked
5 whole Carrots
1 cup cold Water
1 bucket of water soaked hardwood
Prepare the meat by laying the ribs on with the meaty side down. Slice the meat from between the bones until reaching the thick loin muscle. Cut the small eye of meat from the bone top as well. Turn the meat over and remove the strip of fat and connecting tissue lying over the top muscle. Then, fillet that muscle from the loin. You will end up with a long and slender muscle containing small bones. Trim the ends of the rib rack so that when it is stood and formed into the crown, the end ribs will be about  inch part. Reserve the trimmed meat and connecting tissue for later meals.
Place the rice and remaining water into a covered pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to simmer, add  tsp. salt, cover, and let cook for thirty minutes. Add a touch of garlic powder and the mandarin oranges. Dice one of the onions and mix into the rice. Cover refrigerate. This is your stuffing.
Mash two cups of the oranges in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add one cup of water, 1/2 cup sugar or sweetener, the garlic, diced onion, salt, water, and pepper. Put into a very large plastic bag along with the ribs. Remove all air so that the ribs are completely covered by the marinade. Place in the refrigerator.
Next day, remove the ribs from the marinade and place into a lightly greased, heavy, cast-iron frying pan with a metal handle. Pour the marinade into a w quart sauce-pot. Bring the marinade to a boil and set aside.
Fire up the grill for indirect heat. Let sit until the charcoal is red hot. Stand the ribs on end, meat side down, and form the rack into a circle with the meat turned in. Tie the end bones together with butchers cotton string, and wrap the entire roast with a turn of string.
Put four or five chunks of hardwood on each charcoal pile. Place the grill in place, and center the rib pan between the charcoal piles. Cover the grill and close the vents halfway and let cook for 1 hour.
Remove the lid and brush the roast with marinade. Put aluminum foil hats on the bone ends. Replace the lid and baste every fifteen minutes for the next half hour. Check the meat thermometer. When it reads 150′, remove and fill the inside with the rice/Mandarin orange stuffing. Put the lid back on and cook for another twenty minutes.
Brush all veggies , including the onions (peel them first), with cooking oil and lightly salt. Remove the barbecue lid and arrange the veggies around the fire. Add more wood if needed. Brush the roast with the cooked marinade sauce. Cover and cook for ten minutes more.
Remove the roast and place on a large platter. Let sit for fifteen minutes.
Place the colorful Veggies artistically around the roast and remove the string. Set a beautiful table and impress everyone with cloth napkins. Charge each member of your household $5 per plate and grin. You know your kidding. But do they? Muahahahaha.
Remove the veggies and place in a suitable bowl.

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How Did I Get Here! Page 4

At the end of the last post, I began to tell you about my life after munchkin 2 arrived on the scene. But before I go into that part of this life story, let me humor you with more of life with munchkin 1.

I told you that we had the most beautiful little girl in the world, and I have proof. Now I understand that many adults, especially of the female persuasion, love babies, any babies, be they adorable, or hideous. That’s just the way it is, and I accept that. Now how do I know this? Well, I grew up with three, yes, three sisters, one older, and two younger than myself.

One day, we went as a family to get a dog. The family that was giving them away had a toy Dachshund, and a mutt that was part toy Poodle, and part toy Manchester Terrier. Surprisingly, the Dachshund was friendly, and not a yipping little ball of viciousness. The Terrier, well, not only was he ugly, but he was noisier than a teenage girl.

I voted for the wiener dog, an animal that was practical, handsome, and was bred specifically to tackle badgers, or other pesky animals that might want to burrow in your back yard, and everyone knows that in Upper Peninsula Michigan, we have such a problem with badgers (OK, so we don’t have any badgers, but we have the dangerously lethal rabbits!). The parents said “wah wah wah, wah wah, whah wha.” Oh wait, I can’t use that. Charles Schultz already did, and might I add, brilliantly.

So, let’s try this again. The parents asked; “So which dog do you want, the dachshund, or cousin it?” At that point, the owner piped up and said; “His name is Toby” My mother gushed; “Toby is so ugly, he’s cute. Don’t you think?” By my way of thinking, she wasn’t thinking. But what did I know, I was just a twelve year old boy. So I kept my mouth shut. And the man who was supposed to be my mentor, the guy who was my hero and example, well he kept his mouth shut too. The girls all fell in love with Toby, the ugly dog. Every one of them thought he was so adorable. I mean, he was so ugly with his almost black, but somewhat gray coat that couldn’t make up its mind between curly and wiry, his poodle face with terrier eyebrows, and long, spindly legs. And you don’t want to know what he looked like wet. It was scary.

Now you might say that the females in my family just didn’t understand cute, and that it was just a peculiar trait of my family. But next door to us lived a family of a father, a mother, and three girls. Yep, you guessed it, they reacted just the same way as did my sisters and mother. To them, this ugly critter was cute beyond words. So there you have it.

Now where was I? Hmmmm. Oh yeh, munchkin. Now when a baby munchkin is taken from the sheltered confines of the home, into the big, scary world of the supermarket, or department store, they generally are swarmed by ladies and girls who ooh and ahh over them continuously. But that’s usually as far as it goes. My munchkin, however, took this a step further. She radiated a contagious joy that infused itself into men and women alike. From out of the blue, complete strangers would want to just, touch her, or buy her a stuffed animal, or get a picture of her. She was a media star, without the media. And she deserved it. Her smile made you want to forget about all else but making sure that her life would be perfect. We bought the good clothes for her, and used only cloth diapers (I still hate diaper pales), and made home-made baby food. We played with her endlessly, and loved her. She made life worth living.

For her first Christmas Season, we purchased a tree, and put nails in the wall, to which we attached heavy twine, which we then tied to the tree, to make sure she couldn’t pull it over onto herself. We cut away the low branches, and made sure that all decorations were beyond her reach. And we bought her toys that we could use to teach her, and help her to grow.

One of these was an inflatable plastic turtle. I tied a string to it, and before she could crawl, used it to help her lean to move on her own. I would drag the turtle in front of her while she laid on her belly. She would grin and attempt to grab it. But she could only touch it as it was barely beyond her reach. Munchkin wouldn’t fuss. Instead, she would perform a maneuver that looked as if she was trying to fly from the ground and into the air. Both arms and both legs were raised and lowered simultaneously, causing her little body to lightly bounce. Her excitement was almost tangible, and made us excited too. Munchkin had so much fun doing this exercise, that I had to try it out for myself to find out why it was so fun. So I laid on my belly, and took the position of a sky diver. Then, I raised and lowered my own arms and legs, like munchkin did. Sadly, all I ended up doing was kicking the Christmas tree and lightly knocking the wind out of myself. Oh well, it worked for her.

When little munchkin started pushing with her feet in an effort to scoot forward, I just couldn’t leave her alone. I had to help. She wanted so badly to become mobile. And I wanted so much to watch her, help her learn, and love her in any way that I could. So when she began trying to scoot ahead on her belly, I would place a hand against her feet, and let her push against them so as to provide resistance to her thrust. She wold scoot forward a few inches and get all excited. And then we would repeat the exercise. Before I knew what was happening, my precious munchkin was busy crawling all over the place. Needless to say, she was an early walker.

Another thing that we did right, was to never allow people to speak “baby talk” to her. If someone asked her if she wanted her wa wa, we would instantly correct them and explain that we didn’t want her to learn now to say wa wa. We wanted her to learn how to pronounce water. And we never spoke “baby talk” to her either. Yeh, she was an early talker. I still wonder if that was wise.

Babies are like little sponges, empty, but ready to learn everything, and all at once. They first learn to manipulate these clumsy and difficult bodies, with all of those darn moving parts. They learn to use their eyes, and soon begin to identify shapes with people (that would be us parents). They listen to our voices and learn to recognize that a particular voice brings with it love and caring attention. They understand the discomfort of intestinal gas, and know that mommy and daddy can help relieve them of it, if they let it be known that that they have it. (OK, you new mom’s and dads, lay your own munchkin on his or her back and raise the knees all the way up to the belly. Then alternately pump the legs in and out, while reciting these important sounds; “chuga chuga chuga chuga, choo choo” with the chuga sylables coinciding with the leg pumps, and the choo choo coinciding with raising both knees to munckin’s stomach. Be prepared for baby flatulence. Yes, this sounds kind of gross, but is one of the many sacrifices we make for our munchkins.)

Yes, baby munchkins have a serious job to do, learn how to use their bodies and brains, and it’s up to parents to help them learn how.

And television… I have to ask you; what could ever be seen on the TV that could in any way compete with the joy of watching, listening to, playing with, or interacting in any way with a munchkin? And with that said, I think it is again bedtime for this young grandpa (in spite of what my kids say about my age). So again I say unto all of you, have a grand night, and I’ll keep you in my prayers.


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How Did I Get Here!

Let’s start out with the basics. I enjoy writing; I”m a gregarious kind of guy, and I love helping people. So with that established, let me tell you a bit about myself.

I’m am old guy according to my kids. I’m just right, according to my wife, and I wish I was about twenty years younger. I have two granddaughters, and yes, it’s true what you’ve heard, they are the cutest little girls on the planet, no argument allowed. I have four adult children, with the eldest, a beautiful woman, married, strong, and a joy to be with, followed by a son who is a devoted and exceptional father in his own right, another son who prefers the single life right now, but who is a hard-working and upstanding man, trustworthy, and thoughtful, and finally, another daughter, who amazes me with her young wisdom, life choices, and mothering skills. What can I say? I’m a proud papa.

You see, it all started some thirty-three years back, when I was introduced on a blind date (how cliche is that!) to the woman who was to become my wife. I was a sailor in the U.S. Navy at the time, stationed on Coronado Island, just across the bay from beautiful San Diego, California. I was a single sailor who was busy riding dirt bikes, learning scuba, fixing electronics in Navy jets, and having the time of my life with good friends in Sunny Southern California.

I had secured a date for a Friday night at the movies, double dating with a good friend and his girl friend. I called my date to find out if she would be ready on time, and found out that she had stayed out too late the night before, and got grounded by her father. I called all of the young ladies I knew and found that they were already busy. My friend’s girlfriend made a call to my future wife, and was able to talk her into doing something she swore she’d never do, date a sailor. The rest is history.

I had a secret weapon in the dating world, a knack for creating good food, and a highly creative mind that loved to experiment with everything. That pretty much secured my role as future husband, that and the fact that my wife and I spent more hours in the cab of her pickup truck than I can remember, talking about what we wanted in a marriage, and out of life. In the era of free love, and anything goes, we took the time to build a relationship out of respect, and trust, something that has never wavered in our marriage.

Why did we spend all that time in the cab of my DW’s pickup truck? Well, remember how I said I did a lot of dirt-biking? The bike I rode was street legal, and powerful. It was my transportation. Just before I met my wife, it was also stolen. So I was between vehicles at the time, and rapidly saving for a new bike. I guess that thief did me a favor.

Let me tell you what. Though I chose to follow my religious beliefs and remain chaste until we were marriage, I think our first child was conceived within a week. and that’s all I’m going to say about that!

So, somewhere around nine months later, we were blessed with the most beautiful little girl on the planet (it’s true, the most beautiful on the whole planet). Little did we know at the time how that precious little baby would change our lives, for the better.

Now all of you guys out there who think your life is grand, without the strings of a family tying you down, let me tell you, you’re missing feelings that truly transform you into a man. You see, I did all of those adrenaline producing things, downhill skiing, body surfing, fast motocycles, fast horses, and things that I won’t blog because they might just give some young man ideas that he shouldn’t have. I’ve gone faster, standing on a single ski than a man should go. I’ve climbed a stone cliff in the high Sierras, wearing wet tennis shoes, and clutching a fishing pale in one hand, with frost covering the ground, and legs that were numb from wading a river near Mammoth Mountain ski resort.

I found out though, that I was seeking thrills to fill an empty hole, a hole that could only be filled by a loving wife and loving children. When I married, with the intent that my marriage would last forever, I found that the joy given to me by my family far surpassed any feeling I could ever obtain in the temporary adrenaline rush of ridiculous acceleration. There is just no feeling that can replace the complete trust and love of your own children, and knowing that you will never break that trust.

Well, it’s bedtime now, and I have to work tomorrow. Maybe I can throw in one of those really great recipes that I promised to put up every now and again.

For Thursday, March 17th, I wish you a wonderful evening.

G.W. North

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How Did I Get Here, Page 2

Eureka! I’ve found and purchased what looks to be a quality, rotary, fly-tying vise for a good price.

Now you may ask yourself; “What’s a fly tying vise, and why on Earth would you want to tie up a fly?”

The answer my friend, is simple, so they don’t escape!

But seriously, for the fly-fishing enthusiast (which I some day hope to have time to become), a fly tying vice is essential, and becomes an extension of who you are. But alas, you don’t get to engage in such activities until your kids are fully grown, and out of the house, which brings me back to the blog

Now where was I? Hmm. I think I was trying to convince you that I was the fortunate father of the prettiest little baby girl on the planet. Yeh, that sounds about right.

So, there she was, in the hospital room, nursing from mommy. And what did daddy do? Daddy started snapping snapshots of his most beautiful baby, in a moment that should have been exquisitely beautiful, and private. As you would expect, mommy heard the click of the camera shutter and demanded, “Just what do you think you are doing!” as she hurriedly tried to gather blankets about her to protect her privacy. She continued; “You don’t think those pictures are ever going to get printed, do you?”

I stammered “Uh, I’m sorry honey. I was just caught up in the moment. I’ll destroy the film.” Who says that guys aren’t sensitive?

A strange transformation took place when that little one came into my life. I had been driving cars, trucks, snowmobiles, and motorcycles since I was about fourteen or so, and had never even worn a seat-belt. I had driven off of a thirty foot cliff on the motor cycle, been hit by a car, again on a motorcycle, had participated valiantly in a judo club, and did numerous other things that could have cause me more pain than I ever really thought about. But the day my baby was born, I put on a seat belt for the first time, and have never driven a vehicle without one since. I had someone who needed me around.

There’s an ancient mythical legend about this woman, Pandora. The story says that it was her womanly curiosity that released all of the evils into the world. So now we know what the ancient Greeks thought about women. I have to say though, that most men are every bit as curious as are our female counterparts. One day, as the munchkin (that’s what I called our little girl) was crawling about, she chanced to discover the telephone. Somehow, she got the line cord that connects the phone to the wall, out of the phone and into her mouth. Now even though I was experienced with trouble-shooting printed circuit boards to the component level, I had never placed any type of electrically charged wire into my mouth. When munchkin did that very thing, she started crying as if she had just bounced her head off of a low desk. We ran in to see her, in what we had thought was a child-proof room, grasping the telephone line cord in one hand, while sitting and crying.

My wife reasoned that she had placed the end of the line in her mouth and gotten shocked. I said that I bet that hurt a bit, and that she wouldn’t try that trick again. D.W. said “I wonder what it feels like.” I could see where this was going and said; “Uh uh. I’m not touching that cord to my tongue.

She replied; “Oh c’mon. It can’t be that bad. Munchkin isn’t hurt, just crying. I bet it’s like touching a nine-volt battery to your tongue.”

I took the intelligent side of that conversation and refused categorically. So, D.W. calmly walked over to munchkin, removed the cord from her hand, and touched the business end to her own tongue. I watched with incredulous eyes, expecting her to yelp. But she never made a sound, didn’t even wince, not even a little. I had absolutely no clue what she had felt. So I asked her; “So, what’s it feel like?”

“If you want to know, you’re just going to have to try it for yourself.” she said somewhat coldly and aloof. Well, you can guess what happened. We soothed munchkin and sat down to watch a little TV before bedtime. But not knowing what it felt like, it just nagged at my brain. I fought it. Really, I fought it with every fiber of my being. But…

Have you ever felt a knife cut your tongue, sharp and quick? Yeh, it felt like that. And munchkin, she’s been helping me get into trouble ever since.
Oh, one more thing; I promised you a recipe. This one is deceptively simple, but will completely change your view on the PBJ. And don’t worry, my recipes include everything from Peking Duck, to ridiculously juicy smoked turkey, with all the trimmings. to The World’s Best Pancakes. This one is presented to show you how easy it is to make something that tastes incredible.


2 slices whole wheat bread

Peanut Butter

Your favorite Jelly or Jam

Butter (at room temperature)

Preheat a flat griddle. Spread peanut butter on one side of one slice of bread, a bit thicker than usual. Spread jam or jelly on the second slice. Put the sandwich together.

Now, butter the outside of one side and place the buttered side onto the hot griddle. While that side is browning, butter the exposed side. Cook until the first side is medium browned, and flip. Lightly brown side 2 and remove to a plate and turn off the stove. Eat with plenty of napkins. This hot sandwich is gooey and extraordinary. Really.

See you tomorrow.


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