Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Kids' Contributions

As a follow up to Monday's post I want to publish some pictures of some Lego creations from some very surprising kids. 

I have written before about the "gifted and talented" class I am helping with two mornings a week at the local elementary school. The same school where I work in the afternoon. 

The name of the class describes the academic abilities of the kids who are part of it. There is a class for 5th graders and one for 6th grade. They take place on Wednesday and Friday mornings, respectively. 

Each week for the last couple of months the students have been working on educational Lego kits that will eventually conclude with them adding motion to a Lego model through a computer program. 

The kids are very excited about this destination but not so much with the journey it's taking to get there.  

This past week I decided that they needed a bit of a break from following the instructions of the kits. I took all my Lego bricks and specialty pieces to the class. I thought perhaps it was time for some Lego free styling. 

I gave the 6th graders free reign to create whatever they wanted to make. They only had about 25 minutes from concept to completion but they did pretty good. Here's a couple of the results.


This model represents the US flag that was planted on the moon. In her defense, the student who made this didn't have time to make any more details. 

This next model is quite creative and one that impressed me because I secretly wish Lego would create an actual model of this historic icon. 


This is a Lego sculpture representation of "The Titanic." It's rather abstract but it really does represent what it's suppose to. 

I was really proud that one of the students in my class came up with this very piece creative of art. 

For the 5th grade GT class I decided to give the younger kids a bit of a challenge but with a purpose. 

I gave them the same conglomeration of Lego bricks but made them choose one of a variety mini-figures. 

I instructed the groups of 3 they needed to choose a figure and build a setting for them. Here's what they came up with. 



A bullpen for baseball pitchers. The group that made this model wanted to build a baseball infield but couldn't figure out how to do it. They sort of struggled with coming up with an an alternative idea. They did their best. 



This is an overview of a model that's a scientific research lab. One of the mini-figure scientists is working with a cart of beakers and the other (upper right) is adjusting a monitor. I thought this was imaginative and really well thought out. 



This model of a farm was inspired by a scarecrow mini-figure that, ironically, is not in this picture. The cow that was added an afterthought is. The vehicle is a tractor that is store in the red barn. 



Out of the four models put together by the 5th graders this one impressed me the most. The starting point for this scene was the mermaid mini-figure facing to the right near the top of the "ocean". 

The 3 young ladies that made this were very good at coming up with details. I'm not going to describe each aspect or enhancement but take some time to take in creative detail of this model. 

The last "kid contribution" I want to share is one that made me smile the most. It was a gift from a pair of kids who are part of the group that I care for in my "after school" job. 



In case you can't derive from the writing on the bottom left of the pictures, they are gifts from Hayden and Nathan. 

I have known Hayden since she was a toddler and Nathan is a kindergartner that I only know through the school. 

They don't normally play together but yesterday they paired up and made me these drawings. What is sweet about the pictures is that the kids purposely made the objects to look like they were made of Lego bricks. 

I am very touched by their thoughtfulness. The pictures are currently fastened up on my dry erase board with souvenir magnets. They will be there for a while cause I really like them. They make me smile. 

Now more than likely, none of the things pictured in this post will make a big difference in the lives of the kids who made them. By next week, they probably won't even remember making them. 

But they make me feel very good about the things I'm doing with the kids at the school. At least I feel like I'm making some kind of connection with them. That makes what I do worth it. 

So to all the kids who had a part in the creativity display above I say "thank you" for your contributions. They made my week. 


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Changes And Progress In "The Grove"

As I have documented before on this blog, for it's size the change and development here in Smiths Grove seems to be above average. This post is to update you on just what the most recent changes are.

Two months ago I wrote about the construction of a new grocery store on main street. From what I've heard the new Crossroads IGA is scheduled to open the last week of June. Here's a picture of the construction progress. 


Or the 5 restaurants in "the grove" two are fast food. One is in a very low quality truck stop eatery. I've only eaten there once and that was enough for me. There was a sign over the salad bar written in black marker on cardboard. The sign said "Please do not use your hands to get the lettuce."  YUCK!!!

The 4th restaurant is the local "home cooking" place. It used to be called "Donitas" but it has a different name now. It's best known for breakfast. 

The last place to eat here is a building that has had at least 3 different restaurants in it over the last 10 years. A fourth one is now set to open. The other 3 have had menus with all kinds of cuisine. From the sign that's on the outside of the building, this one will offer Mexican food. 


Not sure just exactly how to pronounce the name of this new place or when it will open but I'm sure we'll try it at least once. 

Next on the "changes" in Smiths Grove list is something that has been around for a while. I'm not sure when it was built and installed but it sits in front of a building Paula and I visit at least once a year. 

It's the most fancy enhancement outside any building here in town. The building it accents is the office of the accounting firm where we have our taxes done every year. 


Finally, I've got to show you a picture of a small specialty craft store that opened within the last two weeks. It has the strangest name I've ever seen for any kind of store. See for yourself: 


There are so many jokes I could write about this one but I think I'll let you make up your own. 

That's it for my change and progress report of my favorite small town in the good ole' USA. I'm sure there will be more changes to come. When they do I'll post them when they happen.

Reporting from all over Smiths Grove, I'm Ron Havens for RHFactors.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Different Side Of Lego

At the school where I work I'm know to many of the students as "the Lego guy". Last week someone I work with was kind enough to bring me a recent copy of the magazine Southwest Airlines distributes on it planes. It featured an article about AFOLs (Adult Fans Of Lego). The story about the niche of Lego enthusiasts over the age of 18 was very interesting. 

But something else in the magazine concerning Lego caught my attention and got me thinking. It was the 5 paragraph blurb directed to readers by it's editorial director, Jay Heinrich. 

Mr. Heinrich approaches the 80+ year old toy from a perspective I hadn't considered before. He claims that the charm and longevity of Lego products is not what you can build with it but rather what else you can build with it.   

He sights the ability to construct something with Legos using your imagination, take it apart and then get a second chance to build again. 

I think that's a uncompromising aspect of this creative toy. There is a type of psychological security that no matter what you make with your Lego bricks you will have the opportunity for a "do over". 

In his book "Brain Storm" which is about the creative process, former Disney animator and director, Don Hahn, clearly advocated multiple attempts at the same task as a vital component in the creativity process. The freedom to be able to do it better is present in all things creative. 

It's also a part of the foundation of the Christian faith. The main reason Jesus came to earth as a man was to make a way to give "the world" a spiritual second chance. It's the meaning of the keystone verse of the New Testament, John 3:16. 

Second chances are a constant in this life. While not always available, they are the rule rather than the exception. Those situations where there is no 2nd chance are always among the greatest regrets in life.

The belief in second chances seems to wain with age. The older we get it seems the less faith we have in the  plausibility of redemption. We view the world as "set in stone" with a definitive end and that limits our view of opportunities. 

One of the games my granddaughter, Aria, likes me to play with her involves her belief in 2nd chances. 

While down on the floor playing with her, she likes me to stack whatever is available. Cards, over-sized building blocks, quarters from her Minnie bank, whatever toys she has out at the time. 

Once I finish stacking them she takes great pleasure in knocking the stack down. TIMBER!!! She smiles and giggles every time.

The reason for her joy is the action.  We can then repeat the process of making the stack again. To her there will always be another chance. She immediately motions for me to rebuild the pile; convinced that our playing is a process with no end.  

Now people my age or older have much more difficulty with believing that they'll be able to do something they've delayed in doing or in getting the opportunity to do something right 2nd time. 

At our age we have set the pattern for our life, made our bed and need to accept that we must lie in it. We feel secure in our routine. If something didn't work out at this point in life, perhaps it wasn't "meant to be." Our belief that we are worthy of 2nd chances is very limited.  

The principle inherit with each and every set of Lego bricks is that there is always a chance to start over again and do your best to make it better this time. 

Lego bricks are tangible optimism with a hope for redemption as a bonus. 

You may or may not agree with me. But I can see this aspect being a key part of my enjoyment of Lego. As an adult I need encouragement to try things I want to do or retry those I have not done so well before. I see value in the simplistic positive statement that lingers among the bricks. 

So while most people may look at a Lego brick and see a 6 sided hunk of molded plastic; as an AFOL I know that there is actually an unseen 7th side. And that's the side which fuels my continuing interest in one of the world's most enduring toys. 
   





  















Magazine Editor's perspective on Lego and rebuilding life.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Online Future


I'm almost at the end of my first week of being on Twitter. So far I haven't really found it to be much different than Facebook. Oh, I know it is but I've yet to discover the advantages of the Twitter. 

The creation of the @RHFactors909, as I stated when I announced it, is a way of putting my toes into the waters of the online community beyond Facebook. I want to see what it's like.  

As of today, I have joined Instagram my user name is RHFactors909 on that as well. Will need to discover how to use this social media platform as well.  

I know I'm at the beginning of a huge learning curve. I want to have a larger personal and professional footprint online. But I'm going to have to do it step by step. 

I'm also thinking about starting a podcast. I was initially thinking about a shortened version of my Ron Havens Rewind program but the issue with rights to the music I would wnat to play would be a problem. 

So I may just do a podcast where I discuss things that interest me for a few minutes. I'll just have to see what happens with that. 

Because my friend, Mark, took some good video of the Children's sermon I did at church this morning I finally have at least one video to post on my You Tube channel once I create it. I'm going to make more over the next couple of weeks.

So as you have read I am all over the place with expanding my online presence. I will have to try and focus and set out on a specific path with a purpose as time goes on. 

But for now, I am absolutely sure that being more available on the internet is a part of the actions that will lead me to where I want to go.   

Finally, I must address the "elephant in the room" in regard to this blog. I know I have now missed 3 days of posting this year already. That still doesn't mean that I will do my best to post 365 times this year. Since I'll set a personal one-year posting record sometime in June (Published 170 times in 2009) anything over that number is a new single year standard anyway. 

I just might post twice on some days in the future to try and catch up. But I'll do that only if I really have something to write about. 

Right now I have some social media sights to learn and others to create. Being, up to speed with technology is a lot of work. I want my record player and transistor radio back. :)



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Evening Of Improv

1999 was a life changing year for me. Fifteen years ago I moved from Pennsylvania to take up residence in the wide open spaces of Kentucky. 

Also in that same year in the drama department, at the college in the town that I moved to, a group of students formed a improvisational comedy troupe. Think of a much smaller version of the Second City group from Chicago or The Groundlings from Los Angeles. 

The name off the troupe is "Happy GAS." Initially, I assumed it was a euphemism referring to nitrous oxide, an antithetic used by dentist. But I have since learned that the name is a compilation of those suggested by it's founding members.    

A couple of things from 1999 that seemed unrelated right? Well last night the paths that stemmed from those two events briefly intersected.  

For a long time I've been a fan of the TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway." I discovered the British version on the Comedy Central channel in the mid 1990's. 

In 1998 when the US version, with Drew Carey as host, appeared on the ABC television network I was a immediately a devoted fan. Some of my all time favorite TV comedy moments are from that show. 

As someone who has always enjoyed making people laugh, I've considered myself at my best when spontaneously making jokes based on my surroundings or situation. 

Therefore, every time I watched the show I was always wondered what it would be like to be a part of it. 

Flash forward to this past March, that's when I saw members of the Happy GAS group from Western Kentucky University,  on a local TV news program.

On that day, three troupe members were there publicize their upcoming public improv show at a small local theater. After being aware of the group for a while I was finally glad to have a place to try and "connect" with them. 

I went to their show and had a good time. While there I also found out that the group planned on hosting a couple of free workshops open to the public in the month of April. 

I marked them on my calendar and anxiously waited for the chance to "play" Whose Line for myself. 

Last night I drove up the hill to the WKU campus and went to the Gordon Wilson Hall to be a part of their workshop. 

The hall is one of the older buildings on campus and has no elevator. I was a little apprehensive when I found out that the workshop was in a room on the 3rd floor. 

But as I walked up to the building I saw a sign on the door that advise visitors that there was a accessible emergency  defibrillator device on the premises. So I felt better about  walking up 3 flights of stairs. 

Including the workshop leader there were 4  other people at the workshop. Not a very big turnout but enough to have a good time. 

For the next two hours we played some standard improv games. Most of them I had never played or seen before. But they were a lot of fun. 

The one that was the most fun was one where along with a partner I had to perform a scene at gradually smaller time frames. The scene started out as being 1 minute long then went down to 30 seconds and finally 15 seconds. Same setting characters and situation but less time. 

My scene had to do with being an experience police officer mentoring a rookie cop. 

I may not have been very good at the games. Although the other participants did laugh at a few of my lines and reactions.

The two hours went by very quickly but after basically being on my feet and active for that long I was rather tired. I said my good-bye's and thanked everyone for letting me be part of the night. 

Then I walked out of Gordon Wilson Hall, down the sidewalk to my car and drove off campus. 

The whole experience was a bit surreal. From the moment I got out of my car on campus I felt like a fish out of water. I have no point of reference in regards to what it's like to be a young college student. Being more than twice as old as any of the other participants in the workshop was a little intimidating. 

It may have been in an isolated room at the top of a building in a small southern college but it was an unforgettable experience for me. It was something I've always wanted to do. It was just as much fun as I imagined it would be.

I have no reminders of the night except for those in my memory. I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to do it again but I would in a second. 

I want to say a great big "Thank You" to the members of the troupe for allowing me to be part of their workshop. 

Back in the beginning of March I wrote a couple of posts about experiences I've had over my 15 years of living in Kentucky that I wouldn't have had if I'd not moved here. My night of improv on WKU's campus is the first item that makes to my list for the next 15 years. 

I have one more chance to be a part of their improv world, yet again, when I attend their last public performance of the year coming up in early May. I'm looking forward to yet another shot of Happy GAS. 






Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Backyard, Bike & Benedryl

Monday night after work I went home and started mowing my yard. A passing rain shower quickly put an end to that. I had to put the rider away with only half the front yard finished. Tuesday morning I got the rest of the job done. It only took me about an hour. 

Just another lawn mowing story right? What's the big deal?
Well, apparently I have developed an allergy to something I breathe in while mowing. Not the greatest news in the world. 

I'll explain but first details about something I am excited about. Yesterday afternoon I rode my bike to work for the first time this year. This picture taken outside the school where I work is proof of that. 

The ride was only a block or two but it was a good start. It's been a while since I have ridden my bike on a regular basis. It's going to take awhile to get back into it. Some things have changed since last summer. My knees are not as flexible as they used to be. Their limitations are going to require some adjustments. 

Nevertheless, being on my bike riding through town is still one of my favorite places to be. 

Now back to the problems caused by mowing the grass. While I was at work I developed the headache that has become the main factor in the aftermath of maintaining my yard. 

Once I got home from work in addition to the headache I started with other symptoms. My sinuses became congested and I got the chills. 

I took a couple of allergy pills, generic Benedryl, and laid down on the couch. I was done for the night. 

Because I felt so cold I ended up in bed in sweatpants and sweatshirt under covers. 

Throughout the night things changed. I went from having the chills to being extremely warm. It woke me up several times to change pillows and pull up or throw off covers. I won't go into anymore of the details but it was my second bad night of sleep in a row. 

As I sit here on Wednesday morning. I'm feeling better but not the best. Going to take it easy until it's time to go to work. 

Since I now know that mowing the grass will cause me to feel this way I am going to have to start being proactive and try take meds before I mow. 

This is a very frustrating thing for me. I've never had to deal with any type of allergic reaction to environmental elements before. But things change and now that I know what I'm dealing with I'll handle it. 

Maybe the best way to do that is to get on my bike and go for a ride? Yeah that's the ticket.   

Monday, April 21, 2014

RHFactors Is Expanding

Today I am creating a Twitter page to use mostly as a supplement for this blog. 

Quite often there are things I would like to share with my friends and family who follow RHFactors. But the subject doesn't warrant an entire blog post. That's why I've joined Twitter with the user name: @RHFactors909.

I will be looking for interaction with my blog readers who use Twitter. Please look me up and follow my new Twitter page. You can send me comments, questions or anything else using "#RHFactors". This way I can make sure I see your tweet. I will be checking that # every day. 

This is also the first step in a plan to become involved on more social media platforms to share with family, friends and potential business clients. 

Over the last few months I've seen more reaction to my blog because I've been consistent with my posting. My blog now has "content". That's the key to making sure that people keep going back to your social media pages. 

Prior to today, I was using Facebook and this blog to communicate and share select things about me, my life, and my perspective on the world. 

Twitter will be more of my "random thoughts" platform. The other day I put up a comment on Facebook while I was out shopping. From now on those type of "quips" will be put out on Twitter. I may also put them up on Facebook but Twitter will be my "random" and "rant" outlet going forward.

Twitter is on my smart phone so I have constant access. That's one of the reason I upgraded to a smart phone in January. 

There's another reason I got the Nokia phone, the camera. It takes 41MP pictures and great video. I've posted a lot of the pictures on this blog. But "blog spot" will not upload the videos I take with the phone. It's been very frustrating over the last couple of months. 

So my next step in social media is creating a RHFactors You Tube channel so I can post my video content. Look for it soon. I will post when it's up and running. 

But for now go to @RHFactors909 on Twitter and get even more content about things that happens between the posts. 










Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Before Easter

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. It is the most sacred holiday of the year for me as a Christian. It is a day that celebrates the reason for my hope. 

Easter is also rich in childhood memories for me. For my parents, my sisters and me while I was growing up Easter was second only to Christmas as far as holiday celebrations were concerned. It was ensconced in family traditions.

Brand new clothes, leaving the house at 5:30 AM while it was still dark to go to sunrise service at church, a hollow chocolate egg (molded into two halves) filled with M&Ms as the centerpiece of our Easter baskets, pots of hyacinth flowers and tulips given to my mom on display in our living room (I still associate the scent of hyacinth combined with the smell of chocolate to be THE unofficial aroma of Easter), and watching the movies: "The Ten Commandments" and "King of Kings" on TV  were among them.  

I have lots and lots of stories about Easter. They include getting stopped by the police after picking up a friend for sunrise service and my 4 year old sister eating too much candy and giving my dad his own Easter "present" all over his shoes. (Uggh!)   

 The Havens family did Easter right. To this day my sisters and their families in Pennsylvania have what most people would consider, an "over the top" celebration when they get together on Easter  Sunday. So as you can see Easter means family to me.

The way I celebrate Easter these days is through special events and services at my church and having my family over to the house. Today was the start those church events and preparation for spending Sunday afternoon with my family. 

In the morning I went to Ed Spears park about a mile from my house for the annual church Easter egg hunt. Unfortunately my granddaughter wasn't there to enjoy the fun but a lot of kids were. Here's the gang posing for the parents before their frantic dash to gather as many plastic eggs as possible began.



Even though I didn't have a child involved in the hunt I enjoyed watching and taking pictures of the event. I would love to put up some of the shots of the kids having fun but it's my personal policy not to without the parent's approval. 


After the egg hunt I went home and made up a list of what I needed for tomorrow's dinner and get together. Then I headed into town to get it all and bring it home. 

I went to Walmart, Kroger, and Sam's Club to get ham and cheese and other miscellaneous items we need for our Easter lunch. I also got some presents for the kids and, of course, Easter candy.

I have some special surprises for the kids when they come by tomorrow. Of course, most of them will be for Aria. There are a couple of baskets left by "the bunny" already on the table. And while she may not have been at the church egg hunt today; tomorrow she'll have a "hunt" of her own with special plastic eggs with surprises inside. 

I can't wait. I know it might seem a bit silly for a man of my age to be excited Easter Sunday but I can't help it. It's been one of the most special days of the year my entire life. Tomorrow will be yet another page in my book of Easter memories.   




  

Friday, April 18, 2014

TWIL #7: Mini-Figure Surprise

This has been one of those weeks where I find myself asking "Where did the week go?" I can't believe that it's Friday already. 

So other than spending time with Aria on her birthday and writing about her party what did I do this week? Well, I won't go through the entire week but I will mention a series of events that gave me a pleasant surprise in the world of Lego.

Tuesday I drove to Nashville for the 3rd time in less than two weeks. I had to return the costume I wore at Aria's party. I also made my "mandatory" stop at the Opry Mills mall. The Lego Store and Disney Outlet Store were once again my only destinations. 

I know this is difficult to believe but I did not buy anything at the Lego store; not even a cup filled from the "pick a brick" wall. 

But while I was there I asked about the release of the new Simpsons mini-figure series in a couple of weeks. The employee I asked told me that they would be available when the store opened on May 1. 

He also mentioned that a customer had claimed that the Simpsons series blind packs were already available at WalMart. I didn't think anything of it. I'd looked for a new series of mini-figures in stores only a day or two prior to the scheduled release date in the past and came up empty. 

I thought that if the Walmart claim was true it was probably an anomaly. In addition, I knew that if they were being sold early they were already gone. 

The next day while doing some grocery shopping at Walmart in Bowling Green, in what I considered an act of futility, I crossed the store to the toy section.  I had never found Lego mini-figures at this Walmart even after they were being sold at other major retail outlets. 


I walked down the aisle that displayed the Lego products and all the other building block toys. Among the Chima, Star Wars, Creator, City, Super Heroes and Duplo brands I saw no sign of mini-figure packages. Near the end of the aisle among the Kinex sets was the light blue cardboard box with the Lego logo and the Simpsons' mini-figure packets.  

There were a few packs left in the box. Two weeks before they were even supposed to be sold I was looking at 8 yet-to-be-discovered characters included in Lego's first ever commercially licensed mini-figure set that could be mine. 

I scooped them up as fast as I could and headed for the check out counter. Soon I was sitting in the driver's seat of my car, opening my new mini-figures with the pair of scissors I keep in the dash for just such an occasion. Here's what I opened.  



In case you don't recognize these characters I'll name them front to back from left to right: Grampa Abraham Simpson, Ned Flanders, Crusty The Clown (2nd row) Millhouse Van Houten, Ralph Wiggum, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (Partially blocked by Flanders), (3rd row) Scratchy the cartoon cat. 
I now have 7 of the 16 figures in the set. The eight figure was another Apu. 

Later in the week, I went to the other Walmart in Bowling Green and the Target store but didn't find any Simpsons packs. I called the Walmart in Glasgow but they didn't have them either. 

It seems that the Walmart distribution centers only sent stores one box of the product early. My best guess for this would be to judge how quickly they would sell. But that's pure conjecture on my part. 

So now I have to wait a couple more weeks to try and finish my collection. But this gives me the opportunity to study the pictures of the figures I need. 

I can make notes about the unique tactile qualities so I can identify them by feel and only buy those I need. I can also keep watching on the internet for news about the bump codes on the back of the packages. I did very well with the last series figures from the Lego Movie using these tactics earlier this year.

If you are a collector of any kind of item or product and have ever waited for the release of new products then you know how exciting this week was for me. It was quite a surprise to get a highly anticipated Lego product two weeks early.That adventure made it a great week for me in Lego. 

Now I look ahead with plans to be at the entrance of the Lego Store on May 1 at 10AM to restart my search for the Simpsons again. I look forward to opening new packs and finding the Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie figures to add to my collection.  















Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Birthday Tradition Goes On

The theme for this week, the celebration of my granddaughter's 2nd birthday, continues today. It's "Throwback Thursday" on social media (how did that get started anyway?) so I'm going with the trend.

Today is the "anniversary" of the day that my granddaughter, Aria, was born. So today is "officially" her birthday. 

When it comes to family members (at least those who live here in Kentucky) I have a personal belief that everyone must have cake on their actual birthday. 

I don't think I've missed keeping this tradition except for maybe once or twice over the years I've lived here.

Today I took Aria a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting from a local bakery.   

But with Aria I have a birthday tradition that's exclusively between us. 

It was 2 years ago today that the picture below was taken. Aria was only hours old when she had her picture taken with her "Papa" for the first time.

I don't have any pictures of me with any of my grandparents. So this initial picture with my newborn grand baby is very special to me. 


April 17, 2012: The Day Aria Was Born
A year later, the "birthday picture with Papa" tradition was "officially" launched. This April 17, 2013 picture was taken on the day Aria turned 1. It is one of my favorites from her first year. 



Today in the seating area of the Stakz frozen yogurt shop a 3rd picture with my granddaughter on her birthday was added to my treasured collection. 




We had a good time eating frozen yogurt time together. 

I will add this year's birthday picture to my collection. I'm looking forward to many more birthday pictures. But at the same time I don't want the time to go so fast. 

Later in the day Paula had the chance to spend some time with the birthday girl too; when we had dinner with Aria, James and Brandi at Logan's Steak House. 



Happy 2nd Birthday Aria Nicole. You started out as my "little peanut" but have grown into my "pretty princess". Your Papa loves you with all his heart and soul. I always will. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Aria's 2nd Birthday Party: Part 2

Let me start this 2nd post about Aria's birthday party last Sunday with a picture that shows exactly why I did what I did. It's one that I took while setting things up in the hall before the party.

My granddaughter was in her pre-party dress. She was sitting on the floor "coloring" with some dry erase markers while I was setting up the "stage" for the "side show" part of her carnival party. 

It's a very pretty dress and matched the one her mama wore for the party. (check out the pictures in yesterday's post to see Brandi's dress).



If after you see the pictures of what I did for my part of the party you find yourself asking why a man in his mid 50's would do something like that just come back and look at the cutie in the picture above and you'll have your answer.  

Being in charge of the entertainment for the carnival meant I would be donning the costume of a barker and getting the kids involved in sing alongs, special dances, and a puppet show. 

I would also be playing my ukulele as part of the act. My first "official" public performance since learning to play. 

A few weeks ago I had promised Aria's cousin, Allie, that she could be my assistant. I made sure she had a hat of her own. 



Here are some pictures of "Barker Bob" getting the kids involved in Aria's Carnival Side Show. 





Aria Had a good time playing with her cow puppet. 



Because the party happened differently than Brandi and I thought it would I didn't actually get to do all the things I planned. 

Neither Cecil the Turtle nor Leopold the Lion got the chance to wish Aria a "Happy Birthday". But that didn't matter. Once again all you have to do is see the way this little birthday princess is looking at her "Papa" to know that I'd do anything to make her day. 



After the kids played their carnival games I led them in doing the "chicken dance" as the final event of the party. I don't have any pictures of that but it was a lot of fun. 

There you have my recollections of the day I dressed up as a carnival barker. To paraphrase a 1987 song by Huey Lewis and The News, I did it all for "my baby." Or in this case for my "baby girl" on her 2nd birthday.


I realize that I have only posted pictures and no video. At the time I am writing this entry I only have access to one video of my party performance. 

Right now it's in a digital format that I can't post here. But if that changes I promise you'll see it. 

I want to do one last thing. Here are two of my favorite pictures from each of Aria's birthday parties. 



Compare the difference in these two shots and I can't even imagine what changes the next year will bring to my beautiful granddaughter. 

For her 3rd birthday, I will more than likely, once again provide some kind of entertainment at Aria's party. 

But Brandi claims that next year is going to be a small party with just family, a few friends and a very basic menu. 

If that's the case come next April I may just be wearing the costume of a pizza delivery guy. I have no problem with that. Whatever it takes to get Aria Nicole to smile. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Aria's 2nd Birthday Party: Part 1

As I mentioned yesterday, Sunday was one of the best days of this year so far. It was Aria's 2nd birthday party. 

The theme for this year was "the carnival." It was based on one of my granddaughter's favorite episodes of the "Sophia The First" program on the Disney channel. 

Upon entering the party, each guest was encourage to take a "clown nose" and wear it to set the mood. 



My daughter-in-law, Brandi, and her cousin, Jackie, did an excellent job in creating a carnival atmosphere. 



There were lots of treats and goodies: cupcakes, jelly beans, popcorn, cotton candy, and lollipops, to thank all the guests for coming. As you can see the center piece of the main table was the amazing cake made by Jackie. 

I published a close up of the cake with my last post but here's the birthday girl with her cake before she blew out the candles.



The main food menu included: hot dogs and nachos chips with cheese sauce. 

There were carnival games as well. All the kids loved the sack race (they ran about 6 of them) and Aria's favorite was the duck game. 



In true carnival fashion each child got to take home a gold fish in a bowl.  

There were also lots of gifts.

The birthday girl had a great time opening all of them. She was especially thrilled with her "cat" from us (she picked it out herself during our trip to Toys R Us on Saturday) and the special hand made gift from Jackie. 




As I've already shown you this party was a lot of fun. But I haven't even mentioned my contribution to the afternoon. It was the most fun I've had at a party in a long time. 

I've been hinting at just what my role for this party was going to be. But haven't posted about it yet. 

By now some of you have already seen the pictures and even maybe even an edited video on Facebook. But tomorrow, in "part 2" of this post series, I'm going to give you the rest of the story.   

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Party Day: Details To Follow


As I mentioned yesterday, today was Aria's 2nd birthday party. It was an exciting, memorable, and exhausting day. I am really tired at this point in the day (10PM). But I do want to make sure I posted something for today. 


This sweet, wonderfully decorated cake (custom made by Brandi's cousin, Jackie) was the centerpiece of a very well themed party. 

I will be sharing more pictures and details of one of the best days of the year, so far, in posts later this week. 

Right now, I'm tired and my left knee is very sore. Hope everyone who was at the party, enjoyed my contribution. Yes, you'll be reading about that for sure.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Renewing A Birthday Tradition



Tomorrow is this little cutie's 2nd birthday party. I am going to do my best to entertain her and her guests at the carnival themed celebration.

But for me the party really started today with the renewal of a tradition I started years ago. 

When my nieces and nephew were little I used to make giving them their birthday present an occasion by letting them picking it out themselves. 

I would pick them up on a Saturday around the time of their special day and take them out for lunch to McDonald's. It was during one of these lunches that I invented "the french fry game". If you want to know what that is, just ask. 

After lunch I would take them to the local toy store and let them look around. It was a lot of fun letting them look at all the toys. Of course they wanted everything but could pick only one. After the tough decision of what they liked the most it was off to the register and home to play with the new toy of their choice. 

It's been a long time since those days. My nephew, the last one I did this with, is now 22 years old. 

But today Paula and I had the opportunity to restart my birthday gift tradition with our granddaughter. 

This afternoon, we met our son and daughter-in-law at Toys R Us. For about 45 minutes we walked around through the aisles with Aria letting her look at and play with what ever she wanted. 

She picked up a stuffed cat from the FAO Schwartz toy line, sat in the motorized vehicles and, finally, became enthralled with the toy train sets. 

We left the store with a starter toy train set and a traditional "corn popper" push toy. 

We didn't go though my traditional "pick your own birthday present" process but it was still a lot of fun. 

Perhaps next year when she's a little older "Nana" and "Papa" will take the birthday girl out for lunch. But for now I'm happy with the start of our own birthday tradition. 

Now it's time to focus on getting ready for tomorrow. I've got a carnival side show to get ready for. I'm very excited about the party.