Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lesson 107: A Chip Off the Old Block

I opened an unexpected gift today.  It was in my inbox so it didn't need unwrapping, just a double click to unlock it, because how do you unwrap a song?  Eloise is Tim McGraw's number one fan, and because I am a loyal voting member of his fan club, I was alerted to his free song Christmas All Over the World.  Yes, it's really free and you can find it here, too.  Give it a listen by clicking here:  Christmas All Over the World by Handsome.  You'll be sure to love it.

I was kinda' bummin' because I had been on a search of Tim McGraw Christmas songs and I came up dry.  It seems as my Hero in the Black Hat hasn't produced a Christmas album.  That comes as a surprise as he is a Christian and even has the world faith tattooed on his arm.  (Oh crap!  That's his wife's name.  Darn it all.  Way to ruin my vision).  I did come across this pairing of Tim and Alicia Keys on the Oprah Show singing one of my favorites, Happy Christmas.  It made me happy (because he was wearing his black hat) and sad (because I realized how much I miss Oprah).  Yet I still felt that you may enjoy the duet, hence the above posting.

Tim's not just my hero because he's handsome.  You have to look deeper than that and Eloise isn't that shallow.  He's a steady singer, sweet and simple---never over the top--just consistently good.  I saw him in concert this summer and he's a great performer and knows how to play a crowd.  Tim's proven himself as a good actor, too and stars in one of my favorite movies, The Blind Side.  He's a democrat and even has considered running for public office.  But the most interesting part of Handsome is his backstory.

Tim McGraw was born to a single mom, a waitress who did her best to make a life for her musically talented and athletically inclined son.  Mother was a proud woman and chose to have a go at raising Tim alone, and never told her son who his father was.  As a boy, Tim came across his birth certificate while looking for something.  Imagine his surprise to find that his father was none other than Tug McGraw, a relief pitcher for the New York Mets.  According to a few Internet sources, Tug McGraw denied for years that Tim was his son.  When the two met later when Tim was a teenager, Tug could no longer deny that Tim was his son due to the striking resemblance between them.  A real chip off the old block that could not be denied.  What you do think, Readers?  See below:

 This is Tug.

This is Tim (minus the hat).

I'd say the resemblance is quite uncanny.

I am happy to report that the two did make room for one another in their lives and that is a good thing because Tug took an early exit out of this life with brain tumor in 2004.  Tim wrote this famous title track, Live Like You We're Dying about his father's death.

As a parent, you are always looking to see how your children are like you.  It doesn't matter if your children are your genetic offspring or if they are adopted, fostered, or step.  Anyone who spends time with a child during his formative years has an impact and traits or habits eventually show through and are passed onto another generation.  Eloise herself is going through this as I am raising my three children.  Sometimes I think that is really cool and other times I cringe.

 Let's take for example my Natalie.  Here she is with her iPod.  It rarely is out of her hand.  The kid listens to music constantly.  Just as Ellen taught Natalie to scream McDONALDS!!  every time we drove by the restaurant, I taught her this little number:  Who's your favorite singer, Natalie?  TIM McGRAW!!! she screams.  Love it.  A chip off the old block.  That's pretty cool.

Then comes Ellen, so named for her mother and Grandmother--Eloise + Helen.  With that kind of name she's bound to have some of my traits, right?  Ellen resembles me the least out of my brood but is most like me in one area that stands out--her writing.  This is a sample of one of her narrative writing pieces she did for school.  The girl writes with ease and has been begging me for her own blog which she wants to title:  Life Inside The Lamp Post:  An Insider's View.  (No lie, she came up with that title---and the answer is NO--an 11 year old doesn't need to be blogging, but I know paybacks are going to be hell for me someday).  Her story is titled The Steel Dragon and is a real life account of her first roller coaster ride.  For those of you who know me well, Eloise is a chicken and has some crazy fear of roller coasters.  My daughter has seemed to have a similar disliking, right down to the upchucking in a garbage can after the fateful ride.  Ellen's wit often emerges in her written words more so than in her spoken words.  That is really cool, too.  And speaking of wit and writing................................

...... onward to my son Sam.  Recently we drew a line in the sand (well, on the kitchen linoleum) over a slice of peeled apple he refused to eat.  He protested.  He whined.  He cried.  He threated to move in next door with Grandma and Grandpa.  (Did you hear that?  That was the squealing of van tires--my parents are making the great escape).  After two hours of empty verbal threats, Sam switched strategies.  He decided that perhaps a formal, written approach would get him a little further.  He made this sign.  It is a drawing of an apple with a worm head sticking out of it (in the middle) with a big X through it.  Underneath he has written his name backwards (to the left) and my name on the right, which is correct because even backwards my name works.  I asked him what his sign said and Sam replied the following:  "Mudders (still can't say that "th" sound) should not make their sons eat apples that taste like turds."  My reply, "It takes one to know the taste." 2 hours and 24 minutes later he finally ate the #$& apple and complained because the flesh had turned brown.  But I won.  Yeah for me.  Stubborn my boy is---you could say that.  A chip off the old block?  Well, I guess you could say that, too.  Cringe!

Here is Sam during one of his better moments, lining up his Toy Story characters and taking pictures of them.  A chip off the old block?  I guess so.

He's also a funny little thing, just like Eloise.  I love a good laugh.  Sam has taken the liking to making up jokes.  He picks up any book he finds and pretends he's reading us jokes out of it.  Here is one of his recent ones:  Why did the chicken cross the playground?  To get to the other SLIDE!  The joke isn't as funny as Sam cackling like a lunatic over the punch line.  The best part is that he grabbed a book from my bedside table where I keep my nighttime reads.  Didn't he grab Hell's Corner by David Baldacci??  Little Devils must be naturally attracted to the word Hell.   He calls it his Jokety Joke Book.  I guess the jokes on him.

At home, Sam is a laugh and a half.  At school and in public he's a bit unpredictable to say the least.  This is Sam's preschool class performing the Christmas play on Friday.  Can you spot Sam?  Look closely.  Keep looking............................................. you are bound to see where would my boy be....................................?
 Oh now, lookey here!?!?!   Who could that be peeking out from behind the stage curtain refusing to go on stage and sing.  Hmmmm..........
It was none other than Precious Himself.  The cutest little reindeer of the herd who opted to stand off stage the entire Christmas play.  I would have busted him about it, but I kept seeing myself on that very stage when I was young and I remembered how much I hated it.  Eloise was the shyest of shy kids and being in the spotlight put me in a panic.  Who would have thunk it that one day I would grow up to be a teacher of all things?!?!?!   Sam--again another sliver of ice chipped off this big, blond block.

To show you that he survived, Readers, here is his picture after the show.  Sam came running to us and said, "Didn't I do great!?!?!"  Yes you did Sam.  You did your momma proud.

Here is one final picture of Sam from this weekend smudging up my freshly Windexed window as he usually does.  As you can see from the scene we are literally chipping ice once again in Erie.  Winter has set in with its first significant snowfall.  Just an inch to cover the grass and make the sidewalks icy--but in December, who doesn't mind a little Christmas snow?   It's exciting.

The first winter snow is about as exciting and unpredictable as raising kids---especially mine.  I know some blizzards are coming, but they eventually will blow through.  I wouldn't trade my three for anything in the world.  They are the chips from my block and I am as proud of them as any mother could be.

Happy Christmas, Readers.

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