Thursday, December 6, 2012

Burgers, grandkids and fun!

As you can see by the photos, my grandgirls have fun wherever they go.
They are naturally energetic, outgoing, and LOUD!
My daughter says her home is never quiet, but on days when the girls' friends are around the decibel level is even higher. She says it wouldn't be a big deal, except she is now taking college courses online and trying to think with the kids going full bore isn't even a remote possibility.
So, in order to induce food comas and a bit more peace and quiet we take them across the street where we live and visit one of our favorite hamburger "joints," Hwy. 101 Burger
The girls have a fascination with writing on the tires which are used as table bases and advertising, with paint markers. You will see many I "heart" Vance, the owner of Hwy. 101 Burger, and many instances of Cassie loves Shayla, Neena loves everyone, etc.
From the first time we took Cassie to Hwy. 101 Burger, she fell in love with the owner, Vance. Who can blame her, he really is a very sweet guy. She even had her last birthday party there. She and Vance are in the planning stages of their first holiday party, complete with a free gift exchange and food for all the kids in attendance.
Not only are there amazingly good, hand-formed burger patties, but the best fries in town! He hand cuts all the fries, and hand forms every single burger patty. Several days a week there are optional add-ins like bacon, jalapenos, and pastrami. Needless to say we pop in there for a bite quite often. The prices are reasonable, starting at $5 for a burger, fries and a drink.
If you ask Cassie where she wants to go out to eat, it is either a pancake day, or a burger day. On burger days, there is no choice in her mind, or ours.

Our lunches or dinners spent at Hwy. 101 Burger may be any assortment of our family members as well as various kid-friends of our sweet girls. When you want to go somewhere with reasonable prices and darned good food in Lincoln City, Oregon, you can't beat Hwy. 101 Burger! Tell Vance my friend Cassie told me to stop by!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My granddaughter is an internet star!

My granddaughter Athena and her cousin Kat went to Kumoricon 2012 in Vancouver, Washington last week. My daughter Tess and I made Athena's costume, and we thought they looked great. Little did we know that a lot of other people did, too. One fan even posted this photo of them on their photo-blog. I thought I would brag about her and share the photo with you. You totally rocked it Athena!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Eric the "Mad Scientist"

My oldest granddaughter, Athena, is really into Steampunk. Knowing this I looked high and low for something for her birthday this year. I found a fabulous pair of authentic vintage welders goggles in the original metal case for a relatively reasonable price. I intended to give them to her on her birthday, but of course "lost" them temporarily. Trust me on this one, that is super easy in my house. I have a "collecting" problem, not exactly hoarding, but very nearly. When I found them again, I called her to have her stop by so I could present them to her. She fell instantly in love with them, and toted them home. She left them sitting on the front of the hand-made hutch that used to be in my mom and dad's house, but now lives at my daughter's home. A week or so ago my son-in-law, Eric, walked past the hutch and noticed the little metal case and wondered what was inside. Upon opening it he put them on, just to try them out and see what they actually were. My daughter snapped this great photo of him, Eric the "Mad Scientist."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cassie loves Howie

 May in our family is always busy and filled with fun since not only was my daughter, Tess, born May 5, but her daughters: Cassie, 8 years old, born on May 1; and Athena, 13 years old, born on May 31 are May babies, too. This May in addition to the usual birthday festivities my littlest granddaughter, Cassie, got to have her wish granted by Kids Wish Network. The wish process began a couple years ago with "Make A Wish," who rejected her since she doesn't have a firm expiration date. Kids Wish Network takes kids who are healthy, but dealing with tons of complications, surgeries, etc. and tries to make a real bright spot for them. After being notified she was getting her wish she received a giant box of gifts from them, all specially chosen for her, along with a couple of things for Athena as well. (Kids Wish Network not only does wishes, they also do toy giveaway events for hospitalized kids and other kids with chronic illness at a number of locations throughout the year. I can't begin to tell you what a wonderful job they do.)

We were all blown away with how amazing Kids Wish Network is. Cassie could have chosen to go to Disneyland, Disneyworld, or any number of different things, instead she wanted to meet Howie Mandel. She has been absolutely in love with him since he started judging on America's Got Talent. Tess had let Kids Wish Network know he was coming to Lincoln City to perform, so they could try to do it here. (Tess is afraid to have Cassie fly, since we never know what will make her sick)

So when the time for her wish came, she went to Portland along with Athena, Tess and their dad, Brian and headed to the Oregon Zoo where she got another wish granted. She was treated like a princess, greeted by their hostess for the day and taken straight to the "Penguin House" where she went behind the scenes to feed the penguins. She actually sat on the floor, hand fed them fish and got to pet one. Since they are revamping the penguin exhibit, the polar bears are right there, too, and Cassie got to choose their toy for the day and watch one of the biologists work with them as well. They spent the night in a fancy hotel in Portland and met their Kids Wish Network Jill and headed to IHOP for Cassie's favorite food: Pancakes.

Of course they went back for more pancakes the next morning then headed for Build-A-Bear where Cassie got to build a special bear to remember her wish by.

They headed back to Lincoln City and stayed at Seahorse Oceanfront Lodging. At 7 pm, a limo picked them up and took them to the Chinook Winds Casino to meet Howie. I sat in the lobby, since we were told only Cassie, Athena and Tess could go in (although Brian went too and no one questioned it). After a few minutes I heard a scream: HOWIE!!!!
Cassie calls him Howie and talks to him a lot when he is on TV and when she watches his YouTube videos. I knew he must really be there, since I was sitting in the lobby and they had passed through the showroom and were supposed to meet him backstage. I was amazed at how well Cassie's voice carried. He spent at least 20 minutes talking to them (with his make-up and prep people tapping their watches). He hugged Cassie multiple times, and told her "I love you" when she said she professed her love for him. Tess says he is one of the nicest people she has ever met.

He told Cassie what a cute girl she was. She replied, "I know" to which he responded, "and humble." He recorded his voice saying, "Cassandra this is Howie, I love you." The day after she met him the voice went into a special Howie-styled bear, complete with gold earrings and a Sharpie soul patch. Now she can talk to him and hear his voice whenever she feels the need.

After the meeting with Howie we went to the buffet for dinner. They rode back to Seahorse in a limo with a bucket of ice and bottle of sparkling cider. Cassie floated around on a cloud for weeks afterward.

She had given Howie a build-a-bear with the same clothing on she was wearing, and a little "shoulder buddy" (sort of like a troll doll which can sit on your shoulder). Howie wore the shoulder buddy he calls, Chip, on his shoulder when he made an appearance on "Ellen," a week or so later. He made sure to let Cassie know he mentioned his friend Cassandra had given it to him. So not only did she get her wish, but heard her name mentioned on TV. So the round of cloud floating started all over again.
Her photo with Howie was in The News Guard, News-Times and in the Oregonian. She was also featured in the casino's employee newsletter, so she gets recognition everywhere we go now. Tess helped Cassie set up a special Twitter account @CassieLuvsHowie where she tweets him quite often. She gets very excited when he tweets back to her. Since she now knows him personally it makes her memories of her special wish even better.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Off into the blog-o-sphere

Every blogger has that space in their heart where they dream of being read by people far and wide, few of them achieve it. One of my favorite bloggers is Dan, from "Single Dad Laughing." His topic this week was depression. He wrote it when he was in a low place, and many of us have also been in those places he described so accurately.  One of the things I love about his writing is his honesty, which many times happens to be funny. He is a brave man who brings up topics people would rather keep "swept under the rug" where they are safely hidden away from "polite company," as my mother was apt to say. I read his blog for insight and humor but also because he is genuine in his care, compassion and sensitivity.

Friday, April 6, 2012

San Francisco with Cassie

Just returned from a wonderful vacation with my daughter, Tess and youngest granddaughter, Cassie. We had a blast, wore our selves out daily, and struggled with a few places being not as handicap friendly as indicated. But the places that were accessible were wonderful enough to more than make up for the places that were not.

We had planned a lot of places we thought would appeal to us by buying CityPass SF books. They are wonderful IF you are ambulatory and no one in your party is in a wheelchair. Many of the places and things are not accessible, or have limited accessibility.

 One of the places we had not recognized in our online searches was Pier 39. It was the best place for touristy things, complete with a carousel (double-decker even), an aquarium, fabulous restaurants, tiny food carts, fresh-baked goods, a crepe shop with outdoor tables and birds to watch, an Alcatraz shop, and spectacular viewpoints. It is 2-levels and has elevators and ramps everywhere so Cas could access all of it, and plenty of benches for me to sit down on while my body recovered from each stage of our journey. Souvenir shops of every sort, including "ThePerfect Purse" and a shop featuring all things "Hello Kitty." Our favorite thing there is the California Welcome Center on the 2nd floor. They have a wonderful staff, especially Zakhida Makhmudova. She became instant friends with our Cassie, and they bonded in no time at all.

We took a cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, very close to Alcatraz, and around the harbor area. Of course the day we scheduled turned out to be the rainiest while we were there. We think it was just trying to make us feel at home, being from the Oregon coast there is a lot of rain this time of year, too. It was interesting to hear people complaining about the weather on the warm days we were running around without coats. Low 60s feels like summer to us, so we were very happy on the sunny days, and there were plenty of those.
Our hotel, Crowne Plaza, was wonderful, the only thing we would change is it's proximity to Pier 39. It had Cassie's required hot tub, and indoor pool. The staff was wonderful and accommodating. However it was also located just south of the SF airport, which places it a long ways from where we spent most of our time.
Cassie agrees that the hot tub was nice to have, but not required if it means she could have more time on the carousel, and watching the pigeons on Pier 39. Where there were street entertainers including a balloon man, a human statue, mimes, rattle-can artists, lots of musicians, and much more to keep us entertained even on the day it rained so much.
One day we went to find the "Yoda fountain" in front of ILM (Iindustrial Light & Magic). Tess was confounded by there being a security guard (complete with gate) at the entrance, but once we discovered he, too, was a Star Wars fan we were on our way. The entrance to ILM is very subdued (having looked it up on Google Earth once I had a physical address, I recognized it instantly). The Yoda fountain not obvious from the streets nearby was a dead giveaway to me. Tess was worried about trying to get in to see the memorabilia, but I had read visitors were welcome and promptly approached a door. Just then a nice woman came out and as she passed said, go in and look around, there really are some wonderful things to see. I motioned to Tess and Cassie and I went inside. We were oohing and aaahing over the marble typewriter, then I spotted a little silver statue of R2-D2. The imposing figures of Darth Vader and Boba Fett, complete with original movie costumes, were in front of beautiful banners, between bookcases full of StarWars books and original movie props. Around the room were a number of rare and collectors books, and several new magazines. The man at the reception desk engaged Tess in a lengthy conversation about her collection of memorabilia and books, stating one of Tess's books was extremely rare, and that she was the first person he had met who had a copy (other than the one in the lobby). Tess said she would gladly move there and live in the lobby if they would allow it. She said it was like going to Mecca is for muslims, or Jerusalem for christians and jews.

Of course ILM also houses LucasArts and Lucasfilm Ltd. She now has a photo of the wall showing the three businesses being together as her banner on facebook. She had people argue with her in the past about them being separate entities, now she can say I was there, trust me they are all together.
Cassie and I also had a girls day out bonding time getting Mani/pedis done complete with cute hand painted flowers on our nails, while Tess checked out the sales at a local shopping mall.

I'm sure we all gained weight after all the wonderful food we ate. Our favorite restaurant was Elephant Bar, and we ate there the last three nights of our visit. Our waiters were very kind and our favorite waiter, Rich, was kind enough to pose with Cassie for a photo and gave her a big hug.
All in all we found the people of San Francisco to be kind, friendly, and helpful. The drivers however is another story. Tess said she swears they get their licenses by showing they know how to start their cars.

One of our favorite places is called the California Academy of Science, which is like a museum, aquarium, and zoo all rolled into one.
We had a wonderful time, Cassie and I came home with colds, but as Tess said, at least we waited until we were leaving. We definitely left pieces of our hearts in San Francisco.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cheering in Lincoln City!!!!

Once again I have been a blog slacker. I have had some serious issues in the past few months, but that doesn't excuse not posting. In November my friend Kip drove me to Salem to follow up on my application for disability with Social Security. Apparently the online application I had filled out a year previously did no good, and wasn't even considered an actual application. So I had to start all over again at the beginning. I did however get a really wonderful lady named Mrs. Gonzales. She helped my fill out applications for both disability and SSI. She said that was a smart thing to do in case one got approved faster. It would at least give me money for continuing to pay my meager $250 a month rent and utility bills.

I developed vertigo last fall sometime, and had trouble with losing my balance so much even grocery shopping was nearly impossible for a while. The dizziness most days is much better than it was. Then I fell on Christmas night and dislocated/sprained my right shoulder which made doing pretty much anything annoying and horribly painful. Add these to my rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, carpal tunnel, etc. and it was pretty much the straw that broke the camels back. Of course all this was followed by me hurting my back a little over a week ago (seems to be a chronic state lately), and I did it getting up off the toilet. At least the doctor and I couldn't figure out how else I did it. My daughter says, "Mom, I can't believe how many meds you take!" I have a row of them now. I am however starting to feel a bit less pained most days.

Finally a couple of weeks ago I got a call from my daughter Tess telling me she had received a call from the Kids Wish Network. My littlest granddaughter Cassie has been approved to receive her wish. (This was after being rejected by "Make-A-Wish.") I am sure many of you think all seriously ill children are eligible for Make-a-Wish, that is not the case. They need an actual timeline of their life expectancy. What they didn't seem to understand is that her doctors don't know that. There is no way to predict what sort of issues she will have. Every time she has a growth spurt there are new problems, and that has been happening since she was born. Last year she endured a nearly 12 hour surgery to augment her bladder, which this year has caused her to have kidney stones. The first time she passed hundreds of them in a few hours. Then she had to go to Doernbecher Hospital for ultrasounds of her kidneys and bladder where they discovered a giant stone had passed to but was too large for her to pass, and wouldn't fit in the catheter. She later had to go back to the hospital and have it surgically removed. She is doing fine now, but of course every invasive procedure leaves her with infections that have to be fought. She has an open immune system and catches everything that goes around.

The same morning within a couple of hours I also got a call from Mrs. Gonzales at Social Security. I figured it was going to be the rejection call I had been warned by many people to expect. She sounded so cheerful I really wasn't sure what was going on. She told me I had been approved for both Social Security Disability and for SSI (which would have taken it's place had my disability app. been rejected). I am going to be receiving enough to pay my rent and bills and for the first time in years not have to rely on my daughter and friends for month to month expenses. I feel like an elephant was taken off my back. What a supreme relief. I am hoping I will have enough from the retro money I was sent to hire someone to help me clean up my house since I have been unable to do it myself for a long time now.

When I called Tess to tell her the news I was so happy I was crying. I could hardly talk and she could tell I was crying. She was really upset and I said, "It's happy tears, Tess, it's just too much good news on the same day. They approved my disability app." Then she laughed and said, "I was just so worried that you had fallen again." Needless to say we are a happy bunch, and Cassie's wish is going to come true, too. She wants desperately to meet Howie Mandel. She has been watching him on "America's Got Talent" for several years now and says she is his #1 fan. Cassie's wish on Kids Wish Network!