Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How Typing Saved a Life

A few weeks ago, Little Dude and I were driving to school when he declared, "Typing saved Great-grandpa's life."

It's true.

The little one and I had spent that previous Sunday at my grandparent's house and Little Dude got to hear some of my grandpa's stories. I love his stories. And one of my favorite stories, which I never tire of hearing, is about the time typing saved his life.

It was during the Korean War. My grandpa's unit was overseas and a commander needed a clerk. So they asked anyone who knew how to type to take a typing test.

According to my grandparents, back in those days, not many men knew how to type as it was considered a woman's job. But my grandpa has always liked learning new things and he had learned how to type.

All the privates who knew how to type were huddled together in a small wooden room waiting to take the typing test. It was freezing cold outside and the room had a little stove heater for warmth. All the other men were huddled around the heater stretching their hands towards the small fire to warm up their fingers. They kept inviting my grandpa to come over and warm up his hands by the stove, but he declined. He put his backside to toward the stove instead letting the heat warm up his body. He was raised on a farm and spent many cold mornings milking cows. He knew from experience that the best way to warm up your fingers was to stick them under your arms and let your body heat warm them.

Soon the time came for the typing test. According to my grandpa, everyone else's hands started stiffening up as soon as they were away from the warm stove. He managed to best them with his typing speed and was assigned the job.

So how did it save his life?

My grandpa stayed behind as the rest of his unit was sent out. He said farewell to his friends and brothers in arms planning to see them again. But none of them returned. Not one.

He never gave us a lot of details about what happened to his unit. When he talks about it, his eyes tear up as if it happened recently. Sometimes I wonder if he feels guilty about not going out with the rest of his unit. But I'm selfishly glad that he was spared... whether it was because he knew how to type or knew how to warm up his hands or even just a stroke of luck.

You never know what "useless" skill could one day prove handy. You never know what menial assignment could one day change the course of your life. I hope that's the lesson Little Dude learned from that story. Hopefully he'll have many chances to hear the story from his great-grandpa and let the lesson sink in.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

All the Best Intentions

Why do the holidays always seem to fly by on a plane fueled with stress and loaded with unfulfilled plans?

It starts with Halloween. This year I was actually prepared. Ok, I'll admit I was only prepared because my mom gave Little Dude a Civil War costume for his birthday. But it worked. He made a handsome Union soldier. Even won the costume contest at our church's Fall festival. Little Dude was the North (the winning side, of course) and his cousin was the South (he can do a great rebel yell).

North vs. South

But when it came time to wear his costume to school, he opted for a ninja getup as he reasoned, "I don't want to get my costume dirty." And yet again I was (surprisingly) prepared.

I think he looks more like a mini Chuck Norris!

I had also planned to have the house decorated, the candy purchased and the pumpkins carved by Halloween night. Well, at least we had the candy purchased. My hubby ended up carving the pumpkins at the last minute because we were busy with Little Dude's soccer games and fixing my car after a truck slightly rearranged my trunk.

But it all worked out.

Trick or Treating happened. Candy was pillaged. And we got to meet a few more of our new neighbors.

Big Dude's handiwork.

Even Furry Dude gets in on the action!

Thanksgiving was next. A little different this time around as Big Dude's mom and my parents all left town for the holiday. Given my aversion to turkey, I tried to convince my hubby that the pilgrims could have eaten chicken tacos.

He didn't quite hold to the same creative historical interpretation, so turkey stayed on the menu. The only time in my life I've ever cooked the turkey was 7 years ago when I was cooking a little bird of my own. The morning sickness meant I spent more time leaning over the commode than the stove. So I wasn't prepared to cook the bird this year.

But it all worked out.

Luckily my sister-in-law offered to cook the turkey. My niece made the pumpkin pie. Hubby made he mashed potatoes. He asked his mom to make her awesome stuffing before she left town. I made the sweet potatoes and corn. And Little Dude set the table.

Then the race to Christmas began.

Why do I always feel like I lose the race?

I had the best intentions -- get Christmas cards out early so people would have our new address (I actually ordered the cards in October!), make family gifts, make Christmas cookies, decorate the house, put up Christmas lights, get all the presents wrapped right away and stowed under the tree, have a snow day, take Little Dude to see Santa, solve world hunger and give peace a chance. Um, well, you see...

Yeah, only a few of those things happened.

But it all worked out.

Little Dude did get to see Santa and play in the snow. It was the most magical Santa-filled weekend ever! And it snowed during our visit to the "North Pole" so he got to go sledding and have a snowball fight.

Top Row: L) Snowball fight! R) Holding his silver bell from Santa on the Polar Express!
Bottom Row: L) He helped the elves make the toys and then he tested the toys! R) One-on-one time with Santa. 

Other than decorate our tree, we didn't decorate much. And the Christmas cookies I planned became New Year cookies and then sometime-in-January cookies. I hurried up and wrapped all the gifts just a few days before Christmas. And we (Big Dude, Little Dude and me) all worked together to create at least one sentimental homemade gift.

But on the plus side the whole family worked together on the Children's Christmas program at church (Big Dude did sound, I helped direct the choir, Little Dude had a little solo, and even our niece helped with the choreography).

And although we had the best intentions, and our plans either didn't happen or were just seriously delayed (I blame the virus we kept sharing with each other), we still had a wonderful Christmas. We still kept an eye on what was important. And plans didn't get in the way of having some fun family time together.

Hope you had wonderful holidays and wishing you a wonderful 2014!