My grandkids were ecstatic to have me over last
evening for dinner. Their parents were heading
to parent-teacher conferences. I had some little
‘goody’ packages that had to wait to be opened
until after dinner, of course!
The dinner, I have to brag, was made by my son
and it included hand-dipped chicken breast strips
that were coated in a combination of flour and
crushed French’s onion rings. I had studied this
recipe, part of French’s advertising campaign,
once Thanksgiving is over and all the French
green bean casseroles are off people’s menus,
you may wish to try this one!
We had a lively conversation, talking about
their decorated shoe boxes and how the two
youngest ones, one in a preschool that does
not celebrate any holidays and the other one
too young to head off to preschool, were not
going to get any Valentines’ cards. I smiled
and said not a word.
Psst…shh! I had already packed extra ones
for them, having shared the same thought!
After dinner, since I had worked 9 hours and
was a little tired, I had brought over the
“Cars 2” movie. We watched most of it while
I was there, but left the conclusion for
them to watch after school today. It goes
back to the library in a week.
They opened their cards, while the animated
“commercials” were on, some from me, some
from my family up north, Great Grammie O.
having sent them sweet messages, too.
The movie is set in France, has a spy car
and Italian ‘bully’ race car that is mean
to the main ‘favorite’ one, “Lightning
McQueen” (voiced by Owen Wilson) and his
rusty truck buddy, “Mater” (voiced by Larry
the Cable Guy.) The kids say that the name
“Mater” means how a country person would say
‘tomato.’ I had to ask, since that was a
rather questionable name for a character in
a children’s movie!
If you have not seen the first “Cars” movie,
it is equally delightful and clever. The
World Grand Prix Cup goes to the Italian
car. There are cute jokes, espionage and
the children talked about the country’s
flags, making them interrupt the movie,
we put it on ‘pause,’ to talk about the
Olympics. The Schulz Elementary School,
where Lara and Landen attend, have had a
lot of games in gym class, use of competition
in their spelling bees and also, watched one
Olympic event on television. That was a
skating event for Lara’s class and a skiing
event for Landen’s.
When we had made it to the part about the
Italian car winning, their attention was
We ended up sitting in the kitchen, with
Marley and Kyah (Makyah) sleeping on the
sofa. We talked about songs, sang some of
their favorites. One they had both learned
in school and said, “Nana, you sing this one
It was, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad!”
Well, I do usually sing the middle part, with
the verses that start with, “Someone’s in the
kitchen with …” and in the car, I replace
the word, “Dinah” with my name, then each of
theirs. We have done this for years, when
Skyler was a baby, my other set of grandkids.
In my classroom, I used to sing this after
the Greeting Song, I learned on Romper Room.
(Yes, this takes me back a lot of years!)
The Greeting Song, goes like this,
“Good morning to you, good morning to you,
We’re all in our places, with bright,
This is the way, to greet a new day!”
Then, we would launch into the verse
of the Working on the Railroad song
with each of their names… This also
helped them to remember each other’s
names, plus the therapists, especially
the SLP loved this about our classroom.
The theme of railroads is a current one
with children and adults. There are trains
to take across the country, there are
short trains to see Santa Claus, and dinner
trains to go on in nearby Kentucky.
My grandchildren enjoy going to Cleveland
to see the trains in big stores and the
two small ones that go around their Grand
Uncle and Grand Aunt’s Christmas tree.
There is one in Cincinnati, I am sure
in a big collection but cannot remember
which location that my grandsons visited
with my first ex-husband, “Poppy” with
his wife, “Mimi.”
Here are four railroads that have been
given the label of “Most Scenic” and
have both comfort in their transportation
and inside cars, and excellent views of
This was taken from Peter Greenberg, who
is known as The Contrarian Traveler, in
AARP Magazine, (May/June, 2009 issue.):
Travel to the country of Norway to use
the Flam Railway. This descends from Myrdal
to the fjords of Flam! You will see waterfalls
and there are lovely scenes of farming
communities. The farmhouses cling to steep
slopes. The Norwegian State Railway is a
longer trip that takes you through glacier-
filled Hardangervidda National Park.
In Mexico, you can rid a longer trip of 408
miles that takes you through tunnels and
over 37 bridges. You pass over the Copper
Canyon (which is four times larger than
the Grand Canyon! Wow!) To stop in a town,
this guide recommends, Divisadero, which
will allow you to get off and view the
beauty and majesty of Mexico’s Copper
The 2,704 miles of Australian countryside
may be viewed on the Indian Pacific railway.
This is a 3 night journey and covers the
whole continent from Pacific to the Indian
You will pass the Blue Mountains, with its
historic mining towns. Another place, The
Ghan Line features views of the Outback’s
landscapes and numerous cattle ranches.
The fourth suggestion of a train trip is
to get on the California Zephyr. It will
take you over 2,438 miles between Chicago
and Emeryville, California. I have mentioned
this trip a few times, in conversations and
to my children and grandchildren, in that
“If I ever won the lottery or someone made
me rich, I would take all of you on this
marvelous trip across our United States!”
You will view the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada,
Mississippi River and Donner Lake. The spa
town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado was also
recommended to rejuvenate oneself and enjoy
your family together time. This is through
Hope your imagination soared!
When my oldest grandson was only 2, he made
a wish to ride a train like Thomas the Train
engine. It is still a popular dream of mine
and his, to take a wonderful family trip.