Back to Minnesota for Grandpa’s Funeral

I was going to write a post about the midpoint of summer break, and whether or not I was keeping up with my goal of making the summer worth something.

Unfortunately, my grandfather died last week, so instead I spent the week writing his eulogy and attending his funeral.

I grew up with eight grandparents. Mom’s parents were divorced and remarried, and then we had Dad’s parents, and Stepdad’s parents.

As kids we called all of them “Grandma” and “Grandpa” to their faces. But when referring to them privately, we found it hard to keep track of the original six. They became “Grandma and Grandpa,” “Grandma and Grandpa in Florida” and “Grandma and Grandpa Who Shoots Bears.” Once George came into the picture, we were old enough to understand that we could attach last names, and we did so for his parents. Still, even as adult my brother and I referred to our grandparents by their original nicknames.

Three of them have now died. The first two died of alcoholism and lung cancer respectively, so we knew they were sick. “Grandpa Who Shoos Bears” died fairly unexpectedly. He was in the hospital and then the ICU unit, but he got sick really quickly.

My mom and aunts asked me if I would write the eulogy. I was nervous about doing Grandpa justice, but I was also honored to be asked. I couldn’t help much from a distance, and this was a way to do something for the family, to take something off of their plates.

I collected memories from his four daughters and wrote the eulogy, using his nicknames as a running theme. One of my cousins read the eulogy and did a wonderful job with it. My brother made a beautiful slideshow for him—and yes, he found a photo of Grandpa with a bear he’d shot!

Grandpa Who Shoots Bears was a trucker, and his big rig was at the church, which was a nice touch.

With Grandpa’s Big Rig, Good Man, and the Niece and Nephew

We were able to see Grandma and Grandpa Who Shoots Bears at the Fourth of July party, although we didn’t get any photos with them. Originally, I had wanted to go to Minnesota in August, for the State Fair. We went for the party because Good Man insisted it was important to see family.

I’m glad I let him “win” that argument.

North West Company Fur Trading Post

The rest of our visit was full of family. We attended a Fourth of July party, where Good Man got to remeet family he’d met years ago. We hadn’t told anyone we were coming (although Mom spilled it to a few people) so we got a lot of “Oh! I didn’t know you were coming!” looks.

Before we left Minnesota, we took my sister-in-law and the kids to the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Pine City. I’d never been there before, which is surprising since we have extended family in Pine City and visited them often while I was growing up! (Unfortunately, they had bad colds and we weren’t able to see them on this visit.)

The Trading Post had a small museum. Nephew mainly hung out with Good Man and Niece mostly hung out with me. As I was pointing things out in the museum, my sister-in-law said I was “such a teacher.”

I guess it comes out even in the summer!

We took the tour with the reenactors, and the kids had a blast although it got a smidge too long for them. At the end, our guide showed us how to start a fire with flint and steel. That was really neat!

Almost Got It

Feeding a Spark

On Top of the Lookout

In a Wigwam

It was really nice to get to spend time with our niece and nephew, but it did reinforce that we have no interest in having kids, even ones who are well-behaved most of the time. I’d rather be “Aunt” than “Mom.”

Kiwi Crate Crafting

So before we went to Minnesota, I found something called Kiwi Crate. It’s a monthly subscription of crafts related to one theme and done with an educational slant. Educational and crafty? That’s right up my alley.

Since Good Man and I have sort of been slacking on our auntie-uncle duties, I decided to order the summer series so my niece and nephew could have something fun to do over the summer on rainy days.

My sister-in-law held the box until we got there, and we were able to do one of the crafts with the kids. We tried to steer them toward the same craft, but they were having none of it. Niece worked with me on a lantern (complete with an electric tea light!) and Nephew made the collection box with Good Man.

We were really impressed by the quality of the materials and the kid-friendly instructions and the kids loved their crafts!

With Uncle Good Man

Collection Box

Lantern

Leading the Way

When they were done, we went outside and they found things for the collection box together. There was a brief scare where Niece lost her tea light (because she was running around like Paul Revere) but she found it again on the gravel driveway. I was surprised (and relieved) as how quickly she was able to find the tea light, because if we’d lost it in the grass…

Nephew fell asleep with the collection box (filled with treasures) on his nightstand and Niece fell asleep with her lantern (on) next to her head.

We ordered the kit with the sibling add-on and got duplicates of all materials, which meant each child could do each craft entirely. The kits were a hit, and we’ll probably continue to order them as long as the kids are interested in them.

Each month you get 2-3 crafts with all materials (the first crate in a subscription even comes with scissors) right down to the crayons and tape. The box includes additional “learn more” ideas crafts, and the whole box is packaged in a very environmentally-friendly way. The box ended up becoming the background to play with the puppets which were printed on the back of the “This Month’s Crafts” pages. The kids played with the puppets later and loved them.

I’d never heard of Kiwi Crate before finding the site, but I’m glad we tried it! The kits are aimed at 3-7 year olds and they certainly entertained the kids. If you use my referral link, you and I will both get $10 off an order.

Suprise!

Saturday, June 29th

Stretching myself into downward dog, I heard my sister-in-law speak quietly behind me. “I have a surprise for you,” she said to my nephew.

I changed to a seated position while nephew eyed me shyly from the doorway. “It’s been a long time since I saw you,” I said. “Do you know who I am?” He shook his head and I said, “I’m your dad’s sister.”

His face brightened and he ran to give me a hug. “Auntie Amanda!”

Shortly, Nephew was pulling every toy out of his room one-by-one to show me. While he was doing this, my sister-in-law told my niece I was in the living room. She ran out and hugged me, even though we’ve never met.

“Surprise!” I said. We hadn’t told the kids we were coming to visit.

“Are you sleeping here tonight?”

“Yes, for a few days, and I have another surprise,” I said. Good Man was showering and appeared a few minutes later.

“Uncle!” Nephew shouted. Niece, however, hightailed it back into her room.

“You’re scaring small children,” I said. The dog growled. “And the dog, too.”

Good Man shrugged.

It took nephew a few minutes to warm up to Good Man, but soon he was showing us his toys again.

From the bedroom, a small voice shouted, “Is the strange man gone yet?”

***

We spent that afternoon at Interstate State Park, exploring glacial potholes. Niece wanted to hold my hand, and Nephew wanted to be with Good Man the whole time.

Conquering the Big Rock

Fifty-Cent Trinkets

Glacial Pothole

A Lesson on Leave No Trace

Butterfly Toy

At one point, Good Man took the (slippery, uneven) rock stairs two at a time. “Don’t do that,” I yelled, “Your nephew is going to co—”

Too late. He was also bounding down the stairs two at a time.

Satisfied Grin

Trying for One Last Shot

Try Again…

Finally?

Mother Comes for a Visit: Police and Waitress Adventures

“When will you be home?”

I crammed my box of sewing things in my trunk and juggled my phone. “Um, I don’t know, I’m leaving my class now.”

“The police were here. And they scared my mom.”

What?”

***

So Mother went home today. The visit was…interesting.

Last week Good Man and I both had vacation, but this week Mother was home alone. We took her to the Korean spa and left her there for the day while we worked (which she loved), and she did a Korean tour agency’s tour of Luray Caverns and DC on Wednesday (which she also enjoyed).

The real adventure came Thursday afternoon, though!

After Good Man called to tell Mother he was on his way home, Mother saw the police digging through our mailbox. She peeked at them through the windows, and became very nervous. She decided to go out and see what they needed

When she left the house, she locked herself out.

Mother managed to explain to the officers that it was her son and daughter-in-law’s house and that she had locked herself out. (I was really proud of her when I heard she did it in English.)

The officers, in turn, tried to break into our home using a credit card.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

The credit card break in was a failure (luckily, I think?) and our neighbor across the way saw Mother. She came over and asked which language Mother spoke. She then called several friends until she got one who was able to interpret for her.

When the neighbor discovered what was going on, she invited Mother in, but Mother was too nervous. (Ir probably didn’t help that the neighbor has some very gorgeous, very large Huskies!) So the neighbor gave her a lawn chair and some blankets so she could keep warm while she waited.

She wasn’t locked out for too long, and Good Man soon came home.

When I arrived home after my sewing class, it was well after dark and I called the police to see why they were digging in my mailbox.

Mother had gone for a walk during the day, but not wanting to get lost, she had walked up and down our street several times. She was afraid that she had looked suspicious and wanted to be sure she hadn’t gotten us in trouble.

I wanted to make sure the police were real, since we had a weird incident a few months ago where a woman knocked on the door and accused us of having her husband’s iPhone.

They were real police, and they had been digging through our mailbox. They were looking for a name, but weren’t sure of the address.

I don’t know why they didn’t use computers.

***

When Good Man got home, he and Mother went out to look for boxed juice. She wanted to give the neighbor a thank-you gift, but wasn’t able to find the bottles of juice she wanted. Instead, she bought a whole lot of…grapes.

After school yesterday, Mother and I walked to the neighbor’s house so we could thank her.

“In Korea, you give food. Usually you give a box of bottled juice, but we couldn’t find that. So we bought these,” I said, holding out the bag of grapes.

My neighbor peeked in the bag and exclaimed, “I love grapes!”

We spoke for a few more minutes, and Good Man got home and thanked her as well. Finally, the three of us headed out for a last dinner together.

***

At dinner, our waitress was amazing! It was super busy, but she was always friendly, attentive without being annoying, and really bubbly.

When the manager asked how our dinner was, I complimented our waitress. When the waitress brought us our check, I told her I had talked to her manager about her. She laughed and thanked us, and then asked what we were doing during the weekend.

I told her Mother was leaving and she wished her a good trip. Good Man was away from the table and I interpreted. Mother told me to tell the waitress that she was great.

I did, and the waitress continued her friendly banter and then, out of nowhere, Mother patted the server’s butt.

My hands shot across the table to grab her wrists. “Mother, you can’t do that!” I said in Korean. I turned to the waitress and apologized.

Mother put her hands together as if she was praying and apologized. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“Older Korean women, when they like younger people, they sometimes swat your butt,” I said, the words tumbling out of my mouth. “I am so sorry!”

The waitress laughed and said it was OK. Good Man arrived at the table. “Your mom just patted her ass.”

“I’m sorry.”

I started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I looked at our waitress and chuckled. “She knew me for years before she patted my butt. She must really like you!”

We tipped her twenty-five percent.

Mother Comes for a Visit: National Aquarium

Good Man and I went to the National Aquarium for a wedding almost four years ago, but didn’t take any photos. This time I was able to get some pictures, and they had an amazing jellyfish exhibit, too.

We got to see people cleaning the aquarium from the inside, which was cool, but the place was crawling with little kids, which was…less than pleasant. (Of course, it is spring break, so it’s not a shock.)

Being around so many kids today reminded me of why I like to teach them but don’t want to parent them.

Our hotel offered free breakfast. This morning, Good Man and I were seated next to two boys. Their parents were getting breakfast when the younger one (preschool/kindergarten age) flipped off the older one. Two-handed, even. The older one (about second/third grade) gasped and said, “I’m telling Mom.”

Younger Brother twisted his face at the older one and shook his head. As soon as his mother appeared, he pointed at Older Brother and said, “He stuck up his middle finger!”

The mother started scolding the older brother while he protested. It was obvious she didn’t believe him and I piped up. “Excuse me, Ma’am? Ma’am?” When I had her attention I pointed to the younger one. “He gave him the double bird. I don’t mean to tattle on your kids, but I’m a teacher. I have eyes all over my head and saw it all.”

She thanked me and spun around. “You did what?”

The older one crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat, satisfied. The woman a few seats down from me leaned forward, caught me eye, and said, “Busted!”

At the aquarium, a young teenager stormed away from her mother and smacked right into Good Man. “Watch where you’re going,” the mother said in a bored voice.

“I don’t care where I’m going! I hate you! I hate everyone!”

Good Man just looked at me and shrugged.