Tutu’s Toys

Whenever our granddaughter comes to the house for a visit, there is a very specific sequence of events. Kulani will say hi to Glitch and then push past him as he tries to herd her to wherever he wants to herd her in that moment. She’s not playin’, she’s got toys to get to.

Her favorite is Mrs. Potato head.

Yes, she’s missing an ear. Don’t worry, it’s stored safely in her butt. Kulani could play with Mrs. Potato head for hours but we let it occupy her while unloading and chilling out after her car ride. From there she checks out her room to play with everything fun she hasn’t seen in however long (hopefully not too long or Tutu gets sad) and away we go!

Her last visit a couple of weekends ago made me think of the times I’d go to my grandparents and what I looked forward to playing with there. Remember, I’m a 70’s childhood girl so tv was out. Eventually we got the Muppets on Saturday and I’d put with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom but reading and play time was it at Grandma’s.

There were some things that were special about being at Grandma’s. When I was very little, they lived in a house with pillars out front. I thought this was very glamorous. It was also near the train tracks so at night when a train went by and it’s shrill whistle was blown incessantly, I would wake up screaming and running into my parents room. That was less glamorous. They also had their garage in an ally which was super boujee. I’d wanted one ever since until I moved to Tosa and people who’s cars were in the ally’s kept getting broken into. Hard pass.

One of the coolest things at Grandma’s was their tandem bicycle. Grandpa would be in the front, Grandma behind him and us kids would take turns sitting in the basket in the back meant for groceries and shit. We would fly through the streets and I’m sure were quite a sight. One time we fell, I don’t remember why. I just remember that Grandpa was annoyed with me because I was crying but Grandma was actually the one bleeding, sitting along the curb. I have no idea how we got home but obviously we figured it out or else I’d still be living on that street corner in Windom, Minnesota.

Grandma had a washing machine with a hand crank and she talked me into the idea that this was a toy. I give her all the credit for obtaining child labor under the guise of play time. Well done Grandma, well done. There was a park along the river that remains one of the most fun parks of my life’s entirety. Sometimes we even got to go swimming at the pool. Years later, after Grandma had died and Grandpa moved into an assisted living complex, we went to a different park and Zac got stung by a bumblebee. My Grandpa was super pissed because he told Zac to stay still so it wouldn’t sting him but then it did anyway. Gramp’s felt betrayed and as if he advised little Zac incorrectly. That was too much for me to unpack in one park trip and I just said, “shit happens, Grandpa. Let’s go get ice cream.”

But when I was the little one, the gold mine at the Grandparents was in the basement. Grandpa had a train set; an old western toy town, and a playhouse. Like, a real one. Wooden with real wooden furniture and doors that worked and I most likely spent hours and hours in that basement. The train set was off limits unless Grandpa was with me but I think of the fun I’d had with that western town every time I watch Blazing Saddles and they set up a fake town near the end to be destroyed.

I think back to the statement that it takes 3 generations to lose oral family history, if you’re lucky. Matt’s family is luckier than mine. His Grandma is still going strong at 95 and her great-grandchildren will take memories of her into adulthood. They’ll have stories of their Busia, aren’t they the lucky ones? My cousin’s Paul & Denise & I have Grandpa stories. If you get us together, bring wine cuz we can tell these stories all night long. Maybe our kids would be lucky enough to hear them, I’d like that. Because when we go, so goes the stories.

Maybe that’s the treasure of being a grandparent. We’re impressing on a generation we likely will not see grow to old age all of our memories and what the world was like, “back in the day.” The toys give them visual jolts of memory.

Another favorite of Kulani’s are these Care Bears that I got out of a vending machine in New Jersey on a barbell weekend with the Texas crew. Last time she was here she put them all, along with the gnome, into my boot which was a nice surprise as I shoved my foot into it. She’s kind of a stinker.

But her favorite toy at Tutu’s?

JaJa. She still likes to be flipped upside down, she’s lucky he’s strong. My grandpa never flipped me around but he wasn’t the strongest JaJa like Ku get’s. Lucky girl.

Each visit with Kulani is a treasure for us. We try to make it a treasure for her even though there are still rules at Tutu’s. Not many, but a few. Each memory made is almost like a sigh of relief that if something happened to us today, she may have a memory jolt each time she saw a Mrs. Potato head or a Care Bear and think of Tutu’s toys.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents can do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

Alex Haley


About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to jep6095@gmail.com At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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