Monday, December 20, 2010

Unbelievable photograph from 1948

You’ve heard stories about fate, destiny, serendipity, coincidence, etc. Well here's another one.
Last week I received a gift from my 84-year-old grandmother. It is an old photograph with these words written on the back: “Santa Claus on the Caldwell square Dec. 11, 1948, Sandra Ellen age 4 years.”

Sandra Ellen was my mother.
She is pictured in the front, holding her mother, my grandmother Janice Ilene Day Watson’s hand. Grandmother Watson is 22 in this photograph. She looks so happy.

What’s so special about this photograph, which I did not know existed until I received, is that my father also is pictured in it with his mother.

Fred McDonald is in the back, center of the photo being held in his mother, my grandmother Ruth Frances DeVol McDonald’s arms. Dad was 3 years old in this picture and Grandmother McDonald was 28.

I’m still in awe of this photo, which I think was published in the Caldwell newspaper. Somehow here are both of my parents as little children with their mothers. Here are two families that did not know each other when the photographer captured this moment in time.

It is the split-second creation of an image of two complete strangers during Christmastime 1948 viewed by their offspring 62 years later.

It would be a decade and several more years from 1948 until Sandra and Fred and their families would meet, and everyone would share in much joy and then sorrow in a short amount of time.

Fast-forward to Dec. 20, 1965 – the day Sandra gave birth to her and Fred’s baby daughter – Lisa Lee McDonald – that’s me!

Grandmother Watson tucked two other vintage photos in my birthday card this year. One is of my parents on their wedding day in May 1965, and the other is of me and my parents on Easter morning 1967 at the farm. My mother is ill in the latter photograph, suffering from leukemia. Sandra Ellen Watson McDonald left this world in October 1967.

Thank you Grandmother for sharing with me a glimpse of our past through these wonderful photographs.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O Christmas Tree!

O Christmas Tree!
Last night we put up our Christmas tree. This year the whole family helped rearrange furniture, bring the tree up from the basement, set it up, put on the lights and decorate it.
And it was good.
We ended the evening by watching one of my favorite holiday films, “Elf,” and I laughed. We all laughed.
I took a lot of pictures of the tree this year and of many, many special ornaments.
From 1971 until the late 1980s, I received an ornament from my grandmother or mother, and these are the ornaments I put on my very first tree and the ones I still hang on our tree every year.
Every year I tell the boys how old I was when I received the ornament.
 The first one I received, in 1971, when I had just turned 6 years old, remains my favorite today.
It is a handmade ornament of blue velvet, blue stones and pearls around a satin ball. My late grandmother made it.
Another favorite is a ceramic snowman my mother purchased in 1975, when I was 10. She signed and dated the back, which means more to me than the ornament itself.
A simple snowflake dated 1978, when I was 13, came from Hallmark, which now sells millions of ornaments every year. It was purchased by my grandmother.
The list goes on.
Thank goodness my mother had the foresight to make my siblings and me a list of the ornaments we received, who bought them or made them, and a date, as some of them are without original packaging.
Because I have so enjoyed all of my ornaments, I started buying one or two each year for each of my sons so that when they set up house they will have a box full to share with their families.
This summer Will, who most often accompanied me to yard sales, found a beautiful porcelain angel ornament at one. It had been hanging on a peg rack since that warm day and he found it last night and made me take a picture of it on the tree.
Every year the boys want to put their own ornaments on the tree.
We have all taken ownership of the tree with our ornaments and memories of Christmas past.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, You give us so much pleasure!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Amish

An Amish man visited our house on Sunday and we all had a laugh because he is my brother. Matthew, in his Goodwill and costume shop (for hat and real hair beard) getup, also well acted the part and could easily pass as one of these people.

We had a birthday party for the boys. The oldest turned 11 in September and the other two, who will be 8 and 10, share birthdays that are two days apart in November.
November, in the past, has been a month when illness plagues our home so we decided to have a Halloween-themed party in October, which the Amish man attended.

The Amish support their large families by selling all kinds of goods from jams and jellies to quilts and furniture. They live in big farmhouses (one of my fantasies), ride in black buggies along the roadways, and generally attract attention with their simple living and plain dress.

My fascination with the Amish stems possibly from 1985 and the film “Witness” starring my early adult look-a-like, Kelly McGillis who paired with Harrison Ford to bring us an outstanding portrayal of a torn woman, who just happens to be Amish.
McGillis’ next film, “Top Gun” in 1986, landed her acclaim and it remains popular to this day. Three years after McGillis and Tom Cruise steamed up the silver screen at Top Gun Naval Flying School, I was sporting a longer hairstyle and was informed by the managing editor who hired me that I resembled Ms. McGillis.

Early in my career I had the opportunity to visit an Amish schoolhouse in Noble County where I took notes and also took photographs (of Amish children’s hats hanging on peg rails in the mudroom at the entrance to the school, which was heated by a potbelly stove). I did not photograph the Amish as they do not like to be photographed. It was one of my most memorable feature stories, not award-winning, but interesting.

Through the years I have followed the Amish stories, near and far. I have read about the Amish man, from the burb of nearby Birmingham, who was tried and convicted of crimes that I will not disclose here. I have watched the story unfold on national television of a man who carried out an even more horrendous crime involving the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In August I again visited Amish County, located in Holmes County just over an hour north of here, and purchased their goods and ate their food and remained intrigued by their ways, despite their tragedies.

A co-worker - who is equally allured by the culture as I - liked the photos I took of two Amish boys, eating watermelon and selling baskets. We were not surprised that the one boy, who finally became aware of my camera – pointing at him - covered his face with his hat. Another co-worker, who is easily annoyed by our Amish commentary, suggested we might just as well visit our own Guernsey County - more specifically his Quaker City - to see the Amish doing Amish things.

Ironically, a new situation has developed in my family which involves the Amish. The Old Man has recently taken a job as a timber buyer and his competitors are the Amish. He says Amish have “raped” the landscape, especially in Noble County, gathering precious oak and cherry trees for their hand-crafted furniture.

It is a small world in which we live … with the Amish.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Relapse

Since I blogged about my smoking cessation, I’ve got to tell about The Relapse.
Yes, I’ve started smoking again … temporarily.
Everyone is disappointed. More people are finding out each day.
I’m really stupid.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I know that.
I want to blame someone but there’s no one to blame but me.
It’s a sad situation.
This Old Lady with emphysema/COPD is smoking again.
This Old Lady who just received a clean bill of health from her doc is again smoking.
It’s ridiculous.
Last week’s obituary for one of my favorite newspaper columnists, Mike Harden, lists the cause of death – cancer.

Then tonight these words found.

Words written by Harden and published June 30, 2010, in The (Columbus) Dispatch – within days of this most-talented man learning his C-word diagnosis.
“Before you think I'm deserving of either sympathy or compassion, you ought to know that I consumed a steady diet of cigarettes from my draft-card days through my first Social Security check. I quit for seven years after the casket lid was closed on my 54-year-old father, leaving him without so much as a single Pall Mall to sate his three-pack-a-day habit.

“Seven years I was clean. But in the midst of a divorce, I picked it up again.”

This is what I needed to see.

So what do I do now?
I’ve thought about that a lot. I’ve been preoccupied with that question because it’s not like I can lay down the pack without planning.
Yeah, I have to have a strategy.
I learned a couple of things during my nearly year-long relationship with Shana, a professional health coach, who weekly picked my brain trying to find ways to help keep me smoke-free.
The first thing I have to do is set a quit date.
My quit date is Oct. 28 - one month to the day from when I took that first drag that nearly sent me dry heaving.
The second thing I need to do is remember the urge will pass – if I let it - during times of high anxiety.
Smoking doesn’t take away the stress – ever.
I’m smoking and I still have it.
So what lead to this decision to even light up following eight months of being clean?
The Slip followed an evening of inconsolable crying because I needed to talk with my late aunt - the same aunt whom I talk about in my Overcoming my addiction blog in April.

The Relapse occurred when I continued to smoke.
This is an awful addiction. If I didn’t know any better I’d think it worse than any drug my aunt ever took.
Go into any store and the clerk will sell you a pack of cigarettes and a lighter too. She may know you’ve quit smoking but she’s still gonna sell you that pack of smokes.
It’s too easy.

The most important thing I need to do now is to do something for me.
For me that is losing weight.
And the replacement for smoking will be exercising.
I need to get my body moving.
Since quitting smoking in February I have packed on nearly 25 pounds. Add that to the 10 or so pounds I gained from last November to February following two rounds of steroids due to respiratory illnesses.
I weigh more now than during each of my three pregnancies.
I don’t want to gain any more weight and quite honestly, smoking these past few weeks has allowed me to lose several pounds – without exercising.
I have no appetite.
I’m feeling better about my body but I know smoking should not be used to lose weight.

This summer I started walking.
That has ceased.
This summer I bought a couple pieces of exercise equipment at yard sales – a Tony Little gazelle and a cardio glide.
So in the next week I plan to get my butt in gear and learn how to use the equipment, set up the unpackaged Wii Fit Plus, purchased in June, in our new TV room in the basement (see the Where we’ve been blog posted last week).
I don’t think it would be wise to continue to smoke to lose weight and I really want to lose weight.
So that’s my plan.
I’ll let you know what happens.
Thanks for listening.

Mike Harden died from throat and chest cancer at age 64.

UPDATE: Tomorrow is Oct. 28 and I've pushed my quit date back a couple of days.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where we’ve been

I haven’t blogged in forever, and I miss it. I have a lot that I want to write about but today I will focus on my family.
So where have we been?
The first weekend of June, two days before the children’s last day of the 2009-10 school year, our basement flooded. Rather, six inches of sewer (and water) backed up due to a clogged line along our street following a torrential rainstorm.
It was absolutely horrible. And gross. And not the first time this has happened.
It took days to get that basement clean. Because we do not have attic access, the basement is used as a storage area and there’s also a bedroom and a bathroom down there.
After we got all the crap – literally – out of the basement a professional cleaning crew came and did some demolition of drywall and carpet and then sanitized and left six industrial fans for nearly a week. They also took away tools to be refurbished and bag after bag of contaminated clothing that was cleaned and returned.
It’s been stressful for me, getting this vital part of our home back in order.
Most of the boys’ clothes are second-hand. We have 30 some Rubbermaid totes full of clothing in nearly every size for each boy. The younger ones wear hand-me-downs so those also are stored in the plastic containers. When the basement flooded those totes had to be moved to our enclosed front porch, foyer and bedrooms. There are totes all over the house. Among other basement projects, I’m working on getting them back down there since the Old Man is done with all of the new drywall.
We are just now getting our basement back. We’ve redone both the bathroom (new shower and toilet too) and the bedroom, which is now a play/game/TV room for the boys. We have an exercise area and we’re working on putting an office area in the basement for the Old Man who is now buying timber.
The week before the flood we had purchased a new front-loading washing machine. Thank God it was not damaged.
After this last incident, a backflow preventer was installed on the sewer main so I’m praying this never happens again.

In mid-June we saw "Toy Story 3," which I already blogged about – and not too nicely. Interestingly enough the boys haven’t asked when the movie comes out on DVD.

In early July we attended my mother’s wedding – Ha. That sounds funny. Well she married her beau of a decade, but he’s not my biological father. LOL. My mom and dad were married for nearly 30 years (they married when I was 5 years old), but sometimes people change. I am happy for my mother and my stepfather. I also enjoyed their party.

Later in July we took a trip to Columbus to visit COSI, which the boys liked. And stay overnight in a ritzy hotel, which the boys loved. They got to go swimming and use the gym in the over-priced abode. I got to go to some Goodwill stores in the city, which was the highlight of my trip. LOL

In August, Superhero son entered two drawings in the longtime Salt Fork Arts & Craft Festival.
He is a talented artist. A pencil and crayon piece called SpongeBob & Friends captured third place and he came home with a $10 check.

School let out very late last spring because of all the snow we had last February and March. And, it started early too – Aug. 18 because Ohio schools will only receive three calamity days this school year. The boys are into routines now. A couple days a week we’re taking advantage of free breakfast at school. Everyone is doing OK academically. The first grading period wraps up tomorrow.
Last year the now 11 year old (he celebrated a birthday on 9/11) was on the principal’s list. He is working hard but not to his potential this year. He has some organizational problems, like missing papers, books, etc. The 9 year old has finally found a series of books he likes – Magic Tree House – and has started reading for pleasure. Yes!
Today he read 40 some pages.
Superhero son has started receiving peer tutoring in reading before school three days a week. One of the 9 year old’s classmates – who is a teacher’s son - is Superhero son’s tutor. I think that’s great. A lot of days Superhero son brings home work that he did not get done in class. I don’t care that he brings work home but the boy is frustrated. I have met with his teacher to come up with a plan to help him stay on task and succeed in second grade.

This week everyone got their flu vaccine except for the Old Man who doesn’t believe he needs one.

This is where we’ve been.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Magic Bullet

Thank you Magic Bullet.
Letting the boys turn the TV on this morning after breakfast proved very beneficial.
Ten hours prior the Old Man and I had viewed another gluttonous episode of "Man vs. Food" so it wasn't surprising there was a blender infomercial on the channel that makes you want to eat even if you're not hungry.
Today's product - The Magic Bullet
The boys were mesmerized.
No. I mean really, really mesmerized.
"Ohhhs" and "ahhhs" and "yummy" were all that came out these three mouths during a time that tends to be very stressful for the Old Lady.
Six-second Chocolate mousse.
Four-second Fruit sorbet.
One-second Cheese dip.
10 minutes of peace and quiet.
10 minutes of no fighting.
10 minutes of a prayer answered.
And then a rare deep-belly laugh by the Old Lady as we're headed out the door.
"Mom, guess what I want for Christmas?"
"The Magic Bullet."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Juice Milk Shake Recipe


Sometimes my kids come up with the oddest concoctions. The Old Man has a juicer that has proved beneficial with the children. They love juice made from all sorts of fresh fruit from the fridge. This is a good way to clean out the produce drawers.

The family loves ice cream too.

Tonight Superhero Son, who will enter second grade later this summer, made up a new recipe.

3 apples juiced
3 scoops of chocolate ice cream
3 cups of milk and 3 ice cubes
Blend it

Love the illustrations.

We did not try this. I refused. Yuck.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Toy Story 3' disappoints

Spoiler alert!
If you haven’t seen “Toy Story 3” yet and you plan to, turn away now!
The first thing I am going to share with you, for the record, are definitions of Motion Picture Association of America film rating system.
A “G” rating - General Audiences, means all ages admitted.
A “PG” rating - Parental Guidance Suggested – means some material may not be suitable for children.

Within hours of seeing “Toy Story 3” on opening day, I posted on Facebook: “It’s good and probably better in 3D, which we saw. I’m not sure how it got a G rating. A little intense … dark … I nodded off once …”

An event I’ve waited years for, the third installment of one of my favorite movies ever – “Toy Story” – hit the big screen last Friday.

My family bought tickets online the night before, anticipating a full house at the nearby movie theater that has comfortable stadium seating.

We were the first to enter the auditorium. The five of us. Two 40-somethings and three boys under the age of 10. We were all excited about Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s new adventure.

What happens to Andy’s toys when he goes to college?

I love the first two movies, equally. I can’t pick a favorite, but I know without a doubt the Birthday Party and Yard Sale Toy Stories will remain my favs.

Overall I enjoyed “Toy Story 3” – how can you not like a Disney and Pixar film?????

But honestly, I was disappointed.

I waited to express my displeasure, here, so as to not ruin it for a co-worker and well-read blogger who I just know would’ve snuck a peek at my blog had she known about it. And that would have been devastating to Firemom ( who saw “Toy Story 3” with her family yesterday, has already blogged about it, so I’m good to go …

My biggest complaint about the film was that it should have been rated PG. There was a bit too much adult reference about it. And though these parts probably went right over my kids’ heads, I felt uncomfortable. Too many innuendos for G.

I despised the gambling scene in the top of the vending machine where Buzz is brainwashed (his switch is turned to Demo and then he’s Reset). During this scene a Fisher Price See ‘n Say serves as the poker table and there’s a nice supply of Monopoly money and other props used in a social situation that was simply not necessary. Gambling is not necessary in a film seen by first graders. Sorry. What was the purpose of that scene?

I was surprised by the use of the word SUICIDE by Woody. And because of this I lost a little respect for the famous cowboy that day.

And, Newcomer Lotso’s “Godfather” script was unappreciated by this mother. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that scented bear another day.

I thought the ride to the incinerator was way too long and very violent. Seemed more like a highway to hell to me than an eventual escape route during a G movie.

Big Baby, a clever addition to the cast of toys, nearly sent me over the edge with its cry. The sad doll’s story made ME cry. I love Big Baby.

In addition to the aforementioned factors, there was something that felt disjointed with this film. The first two films are all about teamwork and while there was some teamwork there was a lot of division in the finale - separating Woody didn't make sense to me. Maybe there were too many characters "Toy Story 3." There were 302 to be exact.

My eyes watered at the end but not because I was really enjoying the interaction between Andy and Bonnie. Andy’s known Bonnie how long and they’re playing like preschool pals??? Ughhhh.

I teared up because I was thinking about my three sons leaving home and what it will be like when we say good-bye.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Overcoming my addiction

I finally reached a goal I set for myself following the death of my aunt a year ago.
I’ve quit smoking, and apparently just in time.
Today I was diagnosed with “mild” emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

My aunt, an educated professional who was 12 1/2 years my senior and more like my sister, was an addict.

For years she toyed with recreational drugs and alcohol (excluding her pregnancies). Then her husband died when her children were 8 and 12 years old. After that she was diagnosed with depression. Her addictions became more pronounced. Her physical and mental health deteriorated. Prescription drugs (written by numerous local physicans!) consumed her up to her death.

Her dying had become a real possibility to me but her death was still unexpected. I had prayed for God’s will to be done. I was working toward an intervention that might lead to her long-term rehabilitation, the only treatment for her, I believed.

I did not expect this kind of intervention.

I really miss my aunt with whom I spoke on the telephone many times a week. I hated her illness but I still loved her.

My life has changed in her absence.

To fill the void, perhaps, I started a blog – which you are reading - and tuned into Facebook and reconnected with people I haven’t seen since high school. What a place!

Plus I wanted to do one thing ….She couldn’t overcome her addiction but certainly I could. I had to try. Again.

My addiction for more than a quarter of a century has been nicotine, in the form of cigarettes. My parents don’t know this but I started smoking occasionally in high school. (My parents are proud of me for quitting).

I smoked in college. I smoked after college. I smoked when I started my job at the newspaper 21 years ago. I smoked at my desk! Crazy.

A health scare on Sept. 9, 1998, and a trip that night to the ER revealed I was asthmatic. (I know this date because I found the ER discharge papers in my files over the weekend). I’ve used an inhaler ever since.

And I continued to smoke … until last summer.

Through my workplace I entered a smoking cessation program that has been a godsend. Four months after my aunt’s death, since August and one time a week, I have spoken with a professional health coach – “S” - on the phone.

When I became ill last Halloween and ended up in the ER with severe respiratory distress, I had been smoke-free for a couple of months. I relapsed on Nov. 20 but thanks to “S,” got back on track in February when I became ill again and vowed I did not want to leave my children motherless (like my aunt) if I could help it.

This past weekend I shredded more than a decade of medical information - reaffirmation for my non-smoking brain. I examined every doctors office and hospital bill and prescription receipt. Seems every year of those 12 - sometimes two or three times a year - I’d visit the doc and be diagnosed with bronchitis.

And still I smoked.

I am pleased with myself and my effort to stay quit. It’s not been easy and I’ll tell you the truth, I came this close to smoking last night after an argument with my husband – just hours before my appointment with my pulmonologist. But I didn’t. It’s a huge hurdle.

Now I am focusing on weight loss through exercise because I’ve got more to do to make me well.

Today I think of my aunt and thank her for helping me to stop smoking before it’s too late.

(Those struggling with an addiction or those who have a loved one struggling with addiction are encouraged to watch “Intervention” on A&E and to visit the Web site -

Monday, April 26, 2010

Drawing and writing

We got some "new" Mercer Mayer books today from our favorite yard-saling kindergarten teacher who probably wants to remain anonymous.

Lee and I love Mercer Mayer's Little Critter characters and books. So much that's who we named our blog after.

Lee is an artist. Tonight he drew another Little Critter character (I hope Mercer Mayer doesn't mind) that he called "Little Critter Boss of Clown."

Lee is a writer. Today he said he learned from his wonderful first-grade teacher the rules of a "super sentence." There are three rules: 1) Don't write sloppy; 2) Start with a capital letter at the beginning of your sentence; 3) Put a period at the end of your sentence.

I think Lee may be the next Mercer Mayer!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our cats

Last September I told you about our kitten Whiskers and the painful accident that caused him to lose a leg. (see Compassion for a Cat). I also said I would post a picture of him in a couple of months.

I am posting several.

Whiskers and his brother Stuart will celebrate their first birthday next month. The cats were part of two litters of four kittens each born to identical all-white cats named Lovey and Dovey on the same day - March 11, 2009.

The cats were owned by a couple in Caldwell, which is where I am from, and featured in a newspaper story in The Daily Jeffersonian, where I work. They may be brothers or they may not. In the days following their births the mothers each nursed and cared for all of the kittens and by the time we arrived to pick them up in very early May they were for the most part separated from their mother(s) and weaned.

Stuart is a black cat – the only one in the two litters - with just a small patch of white on his belly and in the areas of both underarms (front legs). He has black whiskers, a black nose and black foot pads. He has yellow eyes.

Whiskers is a black cat riddled in white. He has white whiskers and eyebrows (giving him the appearance of a mischievous old man), a pink nose, and black and pink paw pads. He has yellow eyes.

The cats look a lot alike but are very different.

Whiskers and Stuart are the best of friends and routinely clean each other, sleep near each other and antagonize each other.

Whiskers’ disability has caused him few problems. He is slow to bat at toys on the floor although I have seen him use his head to push things along. His litter box manners are messier than Stuart’s in that he can’t deposit all the litter from his paws before he exits the box. Therefore we have tracking areas that contain the litter at both boxes and that has helped. Aside from those two factors, Whiskers continues to run around the house, up stairs and jump on beds and furniture. He is not declawed; having one “deadly” front paw might save him if he ever escapes.

Stuart is declawed (front paws only) and it’s a good thing because he’s active and very ornery. Stuart escaped the house just yesterday and Will just about bawled me out. (Hey, I didn’t leave the front door open.) Will, having found a cure for cabin fever by trying out his Razor Spark kick scooter he got for Christmas, found Stuart on our front steps. The cat might have been outside 5 minutes.

Stuart typically sleeps all day and some of the evening and begins his romping about midnight just as we’re drifting off to sleep. Stuart likes to collect toys from the carpeted living room floor and carry them upstairs to begin batting them around on the hardwood floor in our bedroom. In the past month I’ve collected a TechDeck tool, Playmobil dog, Imaginext sword, plastic nut and screw, pirate costume earring, plastic tree, pet rock and plastic Wendy’s spoon.

Whiskers is more laid back than Stuart and it shows. He weighs a whooping 14.5 pounds compared to Stuart’s 12. Both Stuart and Whiskers are neutered.

Whiskers is more vocal than Stuart and is a cuddle dud with all members of the famly but especially Will, who early on shunned the poor cat after he came home from the animal hospital. Will has come along way.

Whiskers and Stuart both have a fetish for string and have even eaten (and digested) a shoelace. The Old Man last night observed a string (from the boys’ magic kit) hanging from Stuart’s mouth. Similar to a yo-yo string Stuart snacked on a couple of weeks ago, The Old Man instructed the oldest son to get it away from him - but not in time. Gulp.

I haven’t cleaned the little box yet today.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The costume kid

For the past four or so years Superhero son has sprinted around the house, outside the house and even on errands incognito.

He’s been our costume kid.

Neither of his older brothers have enjoyed the costume box as much as Superhero son.

The Old Man and I have enjoyed his escapades but realize most cute things sometimes come to an end.

Are Superhero son's days of role play over?

He wasn’t too excited to receive one of Aeromax’s latest costumes earlier this month, the white Jr. Astronaut Suit, though he had requested it – but that was a year ago. The new costume has a cap, not a helmet (sold separately). And a really cool space backpack, space gloves and space boots also are available!

The first costume I remember him wearing - possibly inspired by watching episode after episode of “Thomas The Train” - is a Jr. Train Engineer uniform by Aeromax with cap, gloves and red bandana.

A couple of years later a firefighter’s costume aided in conquering his fears after our babysitters’ house burned down (on a weekend while the children were not there; no one was injured).

Aeromax Jr. Fire Fighter Gear w/Helmet comes in three colors – tan or black (or yellow-the newest). We have the black one. The costume - which is so authentic that I was tempted to send Superhero son to his preschool wearing it when they visited the firehouse – features bib overalls with pockets and knee patches, adjustable suspenders, a coat with buckles, zipper, pockets, authentic gauntlet cuffs and reinforced elbow patches. Plus, it comes with an awesome adjustable hard helmet – there’s no breaking this helmet!

And then there’s the Aeromax Jr. Police Officer Suit – a one-piece shirt and pants ensemble with official looking patches and a cap with a badge. Ours also came with a duty belt with radio, a baton (confiscated by the Old Lady), hand-cuffs (confiscated by the Old Lady), a whistle (confiscated by the Old Lady) and ID wallet.

Last summer just before the H1N1 virus became so widespread in many of our communities, our neighbors observed a new professional riding his bicycle up and down the sidewalk. The Aeromax Jr. Physician costume is perhaps the most real to me. It includes the white lab coat, real working stethoscope, scrub top and bottom, and hat, mask and shoe covers.

What I like best about Aeromax’s costumes are that they don't fall apart even after the 10th washing; the stitching and other details make these costumes stand up to plenty of wear. They have very cool accessories. Kids can be kids in them. They are kind of pricey so consider if your kid will wear the costume more than just a couple of times.

Now Superhero son will tell you that although he enjoys role play by dressing up in real-life costumes, he much prefers superheroes.

After all, Superhero son got his name honestly.

He loves Spider-Man - and the appeal of ripping off the Venom costume (black Spider-Man) and putting the blue and red one back on, plus Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Not to mention Ben-10.

The most difficult costume I had to create - because the costume makers apparently don’t know that kids want the villain costumes as well as the heroes’ - was Sandman from “Spider-Man 3” movie.

In the movie, Sandman, played by Thomas Hayden Church (previously best known to me as Lowell Mather on the TV series “Wings”), wears khaki pants, which were easy enough to find, and a navy blue and kelly green wide striped short-sleeve T-shirt.

Do you know how hard it is to find a blue and green striped T-shirt in a size 4T?

Are Superhero son’s days of wearing a mask coming to an end?

We’ll have to see if “Spider-Man 4” ever comes to pass and if Superhero son has a new villain to conquer.

To check out the huge selection of Real Gear costumes by Aeromax, visit

Keep scrolling to see some photos of Superhero son.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Isn't it ironic?
One of the first things I saw today when I turned on the computer was that Art Clokey, 88, died Friday.
Friday. The same day we bought Lee his first Gumby and Pokey.
Clokey, an animator, was the creator of the bendable dolls Gumby (1955) and his friend horse, Pokey.
Gumby grew out of a student project Clokey produced at the University of Southern California in the early 1950s called "Gumbasia."
I played with Gumby and Pokey in the 1960s. I watched the TV show.
In fact last night I went into detail with my husband about how I used to play with Gumby and Pokey - on my grandparents' cypress knee lamp (similar to the one shown here), which also was popular in the 1960s.

I loved that lamp, and Gumby and Pokey.
Gumby's TV debut was on "The Howdy Doody Show" in 1956. That year he appeared in his own NBC Saturday morning TV series, The Gumby Show.
Eddie Murphy revived Gumby's popularity in the 1980s on Saturday Night Live, which is where David said he first became acquainted with the clayboy.
Lee's Gumby and Pokey were purchased for $4.99 each at Cracker Barrel.