Gangstas In the Hood

Click to play Mippey 5, livin’ on the edge with “Temporary Tattoos” parody of “Snapbacks & Tattoos” (by Driicky Graham).

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m a Mippey 5 fan.  Luke Thompson, the gangly Minnesota YouTube sensation, makes beverages come out of my nose kind of like “Weird Al” Yankovic did when I was — um — two.

“Weird Al” Yankovic with a “White & Nerdy” cameo by Donny Osmond. Click on this parody of “Ridin’ Dirty” (by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone).

Thompson’s probably never even heard of Yankovic, but they are like-minded, creative masters of self and pop culture-deprecation with lots of time on their hands. Yet, Mippey 5 can crank out a music video in the time it takes me to make a blog entry.  Impressive.

Recently the Mippey 5 gangstahs caused quite a scandal in the hood while taping the Harlem Shake.

Those Fridley kids are so wild.

“Welcome to My Hood” DJ Khaled parody of 2011. Okay, so why does this suburban humor strike me so funny?

Anyway, I have a request concerning Adele’s “Rumour Has It”.  I know — it’s an overplayed tune and there’s no rapping.  But envision a parody called “Lederhosen“.  You could start a new trend, Luke.  And, seems to me “lederhosen” offers just the right amount of syllables, some great video possibilities, and plenty of room for Minnesota cheese.

The Boys Are Back in Town!

Our son is the paratrooper you see walking in the last frame of this YouTube video from 2011.

We feel lighter today.   Must be because we can finally exhale. We just received word that our son is back at his military base in Italy after his second lengthy tour in Afghanistan.

He has proven himself to be an officer and a gentleman. We’re so proud of him for using his talents to serve our country.  We are eternally grateful to those who prayed for his safety.

Prior to our son’s first stint “downrange” our friend’s son, Major Frank Diorio, was featured on CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight.  During the interview, Philippa Holland, CNN Senior Producer, said, “No food, no sleep, no casualties during three solid days of fighting in what was considered the most dangerous city in Al Anbar Province. Diorio did not lose a single Marine during any of the 275 engagements in the seven months he led in Iraq.”

No casualties out of 275 engagements?  Unheard of.  These statistics wowed me, but I didn’t think much more about these numbers until my son headed directly into the danger zone — and he, too, was responsible for other mother’s sons as a platoon leader (and later, as a Captain).  So, I called New Jersey.  “Uh, this is your Minnesota buddy.  I remembered about Frank — how he and his men survived all of those battles with no casualties.  Can you tell me — what was his secret?”

My friend  didn’t skip a beat, “Psalm 91.”

He must have misunder-stood. I expected some top secret military strategy — something more tangible. “What? Can you repeat that?”

“Psalm 91.  It’s the Soldier’s Psalm.  I pray it every day and so does my son.  That’s what kept him safe.”

Our sons had their weapons of protection.  We parents needed ours — and we weren’t taking any chances.  So, I promptly typed up two-sided Psalm 91 cards and printed them on a camoflauge background for our son and his men to carry in their pockets if any of them so desired. I took the cards to Staples to be laminated.  The kid working at the counter rolled his eyes at first, but when I was ready to leave, he whispered, “Do you have an extra?  I have this military friend…”

My son admitted that he didn’t hand out the cards.  Picture it: “Uh, men, these are from my mom.”  But he gave them to the chaplain to distribute.  I’m hoping our son and his macho crew responded like the kid at the counter and took a card on the sly.

During our son’s first assignment in Afghanistan, his 503rd (Airborne) Infantry regiment platoon was deployed to follow in the footsteps of other brave American platoons, like those who were featured in Restrepo, the documentary (not suitable for children).  Watching the movie made the reality of our son’s situation all the more real.  Then, we watched Taking Chance.  I didn’t want to be Pollyanna about this.  I wanted to know what he was up against.

March 10 edit: Our condolences go to the family of Private First Class Theodore Glende and any families who aren’t able to celebrate the victory of their loved one’s homecoming. Our hearts break for their loss.  Our son didn’t share until today about the the continuous barrage of enemy fire to their bases or about the attack that killed Private Glende.  He always assured us, “Don’t worry, we’re safe.” I’m sure he didn’t want to worry us.

I can’t say why our prayers didn’t protect Private Glende from harm, but his story is far from over.  And, because he was where he was when he was — five other men were saved.  His young wife and his family deserve to be so proud of his valor.  We are eternally grateful for Glende’s life, but so sad about his death and his family’s loss.  This strenghtens our commitment to pray every night as long as we are able, for all brave men and women out there.  We can’t thank them enough for their sacrifices.

Our Sunny Valentime (Strategic Spontaneity IV)

Four year old “Sadie” looked forward to this grandpa/grandma/grandchild  date ever since we started the tradition with her oldest sibling last August.  Six months is a long time to make a four-year-old wait.  In fact, she cried a puddle of tears when she learned that her other sister and her cousin (grandchildren #2 and #3) would be in line before her.  We hadn’t considered how difficult the concept of seniority would be for a child.

On our car ride to her house, I tapped my husband on the arm and sighed, “This will make a little girl extremely happy.”

My husband patted my hand and winked.  “And, I think it’ll make Sadie happy, too.”

Grandchild #4 forfeited her favorites for this experience.  She didn’t wear her 12 hour/day, seven days/week pink outfit. She didn’t bring her blankets.  And, she even let her mom wash, brush, and put a barrette in her hair.  This made us feel colossally  important.

The best thing about Sadie? She’s an exuberant conversationalist.

She bit her corndog and pointed like a miniature Vanna White to the red and pink decorations around Culvers.  “Hey! Gwamma, do you know why there’s heawts eveywhere?”

I took a wild guess. “Because they love us?”

“No, sillllly! ” she laughed like it was the best joke ever, “It’s because it’s almost Valentime’s Day!”

As my husband buckled her into her car seat, she pointed out the window, “Hey! Gwampa, what does that water tower do?”

“I’m thinking it holds water.”

“Silly!  It has a super dooper drain so it can go to all our sinks!”

On the way to the Mall of America, “Hey! Let’s sing songs!  I’ll start. Boom chicka, boom chicka…”

On the ferris wheel, “Hey! Sometime can we come here with my flamily?”

Eating ice cream, “Hey! Sanks  for bringing me to the Mall of the Merika.”

On the car ride home, in the middle of an I Spy game, “Hey! Gwamma!”

“Yes, Sadie.”

“When will I die?”

Uurch!  It’s lucky I wasn’t driving.  I might have braked or jerked the car into the next lane.  My husband and I looked at each other. Where did THAT question come from?  Either she assumes her Grandpa’s the crazy driver or she thinks we’re really old.

Me, trying to match her tone of enthusiasm: “I don’t know, Honey.”

Grandpa: “None of us knows when we’re going to die.”


Then Sadie broke into a flamboyant and cheerful song about dying and Jesus and Heaven and friends and “Tree”.  (Tree is her favorite blanket.  It has trees on it.)

“Hey! Can I have Tree in Heaven?”

Me: “Absolutely, Sweetheart! Jesus knows the desires of your heart.  I’m sure you can have Tree and everything you love — all your blankets and more.”

“I would like to have Tree in Heaven. Hey! Can we have food in Heaven? Hey! I would like to have corndogs  and ice cream in Heaven  Hey! And, my flamily?  I would like my flamily to be in Heaven.  Hey! Let’s sing a song. I’ll start.

Boom chicka, boom chicka…”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy birthday, Mom! Mildred Lucille passed from this life into the next almost seven years ago.   We miss her, but know she’s very much alive, loving us in ways we can’t yet appreciate.
Recently my husband and I attended a Rediscover: faith talk where the speaker challenged us to join him in considering our purpose in this world.  Then he got our attention. “Every action reveals our answer. Every action is an investment we can never get back bringing us closer to or further from who we want to become… Will we leave an inheritance that will last?  Are we building lasting value?”

Mom lived a modest life. Based upon the world’s standards she’d be considered an utter failure.  She didn’t obtain a college degree.  She died with no sizeable estate.  She never had a powerful job.

But, by otherworldly standards, she was our family’s most productive stock broker.  She left an inheritance that will last. She invested in faith, hope, and love — and then gave it all away.

From all of us: Thanks, Mom! We LOVE YOU!

Strategic Spontaneity III

Cowabunga!  We are on an unexpected roll with our grandparent/grandchild dates.

January 25 I received a 2:50 a.m. phone call from our daughter-in-law that her water broke.  We rejoiced when grandchild #6 (“Spidey 2”) arrived without complications around 11:30 a.m. late that morning.

Spidey 2 came into the world only three days before his big brother’s (Spidey 1’s) fifth birthday, so we had two occasions to celebrate.  After meeting Spidey 2, birthday festivities,  sledding with Spidey 1, and helping the exhausted parents for three days, I offered to take Spidey 1 to our home for three more. This would give the parents some alone time to rest and bond with Spidey 2.

As we traveled, it occurred to me that Spidey 1 would be disappointed upon arriving at our home, because “Papa”, my husband, wouldn’t be there. He had to attend a meeting. That’s when I remembered Strategic Spontaneity.  Spidey 1 was due for a date.  After all, he was third in the grandchild line of progression, after his seven and six year old cousins.

As the Mall of America sign came into view I asked Spidey, “How’d you like to go to the Mall of America to eat?”

“No, I don’ wanna eat. I wanna see Papa. Look! An airpane!”

“Mmhmm, an airplane. You have to eat. And, you could pick whatever you want.”

“No, I don’ wanna go to the Ma of Amer-ca.  I wanna see Papa. Is that biwding a hopsital? A baby came out of Mommy’s belly at a hopsital.”

“No, that’s not a hospital. But it looks like a hospital, doesn’t it? Papa won’t be home until later.  How would you like to go on a Nanna date?”

“A Nanna date?”

“Yeah, a Nanna date — where you eat at Burger King or McDonald’s or A & W Rootbeer and go on rides.”

“Rides? I like Nanna dates.”

Spidey 1 is less complicated than the girls.  He would have been ecstatic spending the entire excursion on the escalators. But people (security) started to get annoyed.

Once he saw the amusement park, he let out a sigh like he’d seen the Great Pyramid of Giza.  He found Nirvana.  He declined the customary sibling gift shopping.  (After all, he’d already bought a Kit Kat for Spidey 2.)

He only stopped to eat his chicken nuggets after I bribed offered the choice: eating them = more rides or not eating them = going straight home.

He even chose one more spin in lieu of ice cream.

On the way home, Spidey sat in his carseat in the dark back seat, covering his head with his favorite blanket, so he could suck on his index finger in private. I heard the suction popping noise as he pulled his finger out of his mouth. “Nanna, I like Nanna dates.  Can we go again t’morrow?”

We didn’t, but Spidey 1 didn’t notice.  Instead, he enjoyed three more glorious days of dates with me, Papa, and his aunt, uncle, and three cousins.

We returned Spidey 1 to his home and family over the weekend and assured Spidey 2 that we’d be back soon for his turn, which would involve a bottle and a diaper change — kind of like what Papa and I will enjoy in a few years.

Now, as I sit at my desk, I realize that I’ve missed some submission deadlines.  At first this made me sad. But then I consider, there will always will be conferences to attend and agents, editors, and publishers to meet, but Spidey 1 will only be seen in public with his Nanna until — um — well, I’ll keep you posted…