Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wind Damage

So Alison and I were minding our own business downstairs about 6:30 tonight, letting a sick Jeff Reed relax when he bursts into the family room with news that there may be tornadoes on the loose. We're not in Kansas, but all good Hoosiers respect the tornado sirens, so we broke out the candles and stayed downstairs. Just as we'd gotten word thru the TV news that we should take cover, the power went out. We didn't have a battery-powered radio. It was like we were the last people on Earth.

So we did what anyone would do: we played Monopoly by candlelight. Two hours later, we still didn't have power. The wind, which had sounded just a whisper short of the fabled freight train, had died down and all was quiet. The power returned but the cable wasn't back on yet. We came upstairs. I checked the news on the laptop as soon as I could and learned that a big tree had fallen in the 56th and Carvel area. Hey, that's our area! We have a disgustingly healthy sweet gum and a sickly oak tree in our front yard, but we hadn't heard any crashes.

Jeff went to explore. It was our neighbor's (the Jansens) tree where Ali occasionally swings. A hue oak. It had fallen parallel to the house, which was lucky because it's a big-ass tree and could have taken out Mike's Superbowl ring. And maybe the kids, the cat or Beth!

I'm not saying I wanted trees to fall in my yard, but why would the wind take that beautiful oak and leave my sweet gum and its limbs full of sticky balls?! Not fair, man. Not fair.

So no need to worry: all is well on Castle Row. The Jansens will have a bit of yardwork to do, but it seem like no one was hurt. Let's hope that holds true for the rest of the path of the storm.


Apparently we were more blessed than I knew. Our street is only one block long, and the downed tree is on the west end of it. I found this morning that a power line is down at the east end of the street, and Alison's school -- maybe 1/4 or 1/2 mile away is closed. Wow. I may have to buy a lottery ticket!

Monday, January 28, 2008

PhotoShoot Sunday -- update

Alison greeted me at the door at 6:23 this morning as I came home from the gym. She was all dressed for school and had decided that if she could be ready early, we could play for a while.All of her symptoms but her cough are gone, so the weekend of laying around seemed to have done the trick.Just after she had brought up her Pet Shops ("But not all of them because I don't want to have to drag them all up just to have to take them back downstairs!") she remembered that today is "Crazy Day" at school and she didn't have to wear her uniform. So then she was off to find the craziest outfit she could put together. Jeff helped her.If there's a prize for crazy today, she should win it...I'll try to hold off on sending you the photo until next week.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Of Mice and Stomachaches

Alison went to school Friday complaining of a stomach ache. It had seemed like a scam to start the weekend early, but when I was cleaning out her backpack that night, I found a note that she’d been to the school nurse. Even though the nurse hadn’t called, I started doubting myself. She wasn’t herself, really, and said she had both a stomachache and head ache, so I kept her home from dance class and we just stayed in all of Saturday. She was finally asleep around 9:30 that night and I thought we were home free.

At about 10:30, she came in, saying she thought she was going to throw up. So I went in with her and snuggled. We put a cold cloth on her head. She was restless and clearly not feeling well, so I agreed to stay with her for a little while.

At 1:26, she woke me up again. No vomit, but not a happy girl. I wondered if I had made a strategic error by being between her and the plastic trash can I had ready for the vomit.

At 3:15, she was awake again. “Mom, I’m not sure, but I think I might have had a heart attack,” she said. I had to put my ear to her chest and assure her that it was beating fine before she snuggled back in.

At 5:26, she was wide awake. I sent her downstairs to snuggle on the couch and watch TV and collapsed back into her bed. Sweet sleep wouldn’t come, though. It sounded like Tom and Jerry (the MGM cartoon pair) were right in the room with me. Alison couldn’t hear me ask her to adjust the volume, so down I went. I was bleary-eyed, to be sure, but when I got to the family room and saw it barricaded, I thought, ‘She’s been faking the whole time!”

Then I remembered that during one of our early morning potential vomit alerts, Jeff had come in and told us that he’d been on an adventure. He’d been Tom, and the Jerry in our house had been dispatched, he proudly reported. He told us that he’d chased down the rodent and taken it outside. I’m sure I mumbled some sort of accolade for his bravery, but I was asleep again within minutes, and I’d forgotten all about it until I got downstairs and found my way to the family room blockaded.

He’d sealed off the room with screens, the interlocking spongy mats we use in lieu of carpet down there and books. He’d moved the furniture. He’d up-ended stuffed animals and sent some of the Littlest Pet Shop animals flying. Alison was sharing part of the couch with a herd of stuffed cat family members and a framed picture of Nomar Garciappara (before his defection from the Red Sox.) She was following orders to get on the couch, but she didn’t want to chance breaking the artwork, so she had snuggled in with the cats on the other end. I could barely find her in all the mess.

I can only imagine how long Jeff spent chasing the little rat and how many times he screamed like a girl in the process. I bet it was long and often. From the looks of the family room, our home invader was more Jerry-like than Jeff had counted on. I have yet to ask him if he really did catch-and-release. I think he must have. I can’t imagine him killing it, and putting it in the trash can alive would have given us both nightmares. Of course, putting it out in sub-zero temperatures probably didn’t do it much good either.

In any case, we may no longer have a mouse in our house. I tend to think they travel in packs, though, so I’m on the look-out.

After I’d put the room back together, Ali was tired of TV and challenged me to a “carnival of games.” We’d play seven board games and the person who won the most games would be the champion. There’s something disturbing about coming out the big loser against a sickly 6-year-old, but that’s what happened. I was sleep-deprived, but I managed to win only at Candyland.

Jeff the Mighty Mouse Trapper didn’t get home as soon as I’d expected this morning, so instead of letting him be victimized by Alison’s board gaming skills, I brought her along with me to a monthly brunch I have with some great girlfriends. She fell asleep in mid-sentence on the way home and hasn’t woken up since. That was two hours ago. I think I’m going to follow suit in just a minute.

Wish me luck that Jerry doesn't find a way back in and bring any of his brethren with him. I need the rest!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

5 Things I Learned at Dance Class Tonight

1. If you eat a burrito (or two) 30 minutes before dance class, it will try to crawl back (from any orifice it can) out before you've finished warming up.
2. If you position yourself to be smack in the middle of where two mirrors meet, you can cut your body weight and size in half.
3. Just like high school, if you distract the teacher and let him/her tell a personal story, you'll reduce the amount of work you actually have to do.
4. Scarfing down a double cheeseburger on the way home from dance class because you were afraid to eat beforehand makes you need to find that line between the mirrors again.
5. Just like the gym, dance class is better when you're with a friend.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh you disbelievers!

For those of you who don't believe that real people actually consume varmints of the woods, or more pointedly, that I ever did, I give you this photographic proof. It was taken when I was about 4-years-old, I think. It was during squirrel season, of course, and we were showing off the bounty of the hunt. I'm the one closest to my Dad and apparently most proud of my catch. (The kids didn't go hunting; we just showed off the catch before they became dinner.) I'm not sure how old my brothers were before they got to go with the big boys, but from the look on Donnie's face, I'm guessing this either wasn't his year, or he'd been left behind on this particular hunt. While I've renounced squirrel, plenty of folks back home still enjoy the delicacy -- among others. I should organize a trip for all my city friends...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A joke from Alison

Q. What do you call a tick in the winter?

A. An Ar-tic.

Come on: you know you laughed.

This just in

With apologies to Colts fans, I just reviewed Alison's Valentine that she made for her Grandpa. It has the usual heart design and notes from the granddaughter, but then she added this:

Go Pats!

PhotoShoot Sunday 20 January 2008

The Food Critic

After three years of certainty that she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up, Alison is starting to think about other careers. Saturday night, we sat down to a taco salad dinner that Jeff had prepared. She’d protested earlier that she wouldn’t like taco salad and could she please have pasta or Ramen or nachos, but Jeff was having none of it and fixed her a salad.

He had her at first bite. As she munched happily away, she said, “I think when I grow up I might want to be a food critic.”

“Really?” I said, “Why a food critic?”

“Well, you just go to places and taste the food and then write about it. Seems pretty easy,” she said.

Her first review is as follows:

Dad’s Taco Salad:

“Kind of crunchy but with a just a little bit of mushy. Not too spicy. It’s good. Like, really, really good!”

The Artist

(I take these pictures and tell stories of our craft extravaganzas every now and then just to play with Amy Tokash’s clean-freak mind. I really should take before and after shots to reassure her that we do pick-up when we’re done. But that wouldn’t be as much fun as making her have nightmares about hosting her own craft corner one day.)

Because Valentine’s Days isn’t far away, we were on a bit of a mission this morning. We had open jars of paint, glue and glue sticks. Scissors, beads, ribbons, stickers, markers and crayons were scattered about. Paper scraps were everywhere, and the stickers were peel-offs, so there were those little bits of glossy paper bits, too. It was a fun morning. We may actually get our valentines done before February this year.

Other stuff

Congratulate our friend Bob Johnson, who recently scored a weekly columnist gig at the Johnson County Daily Journal. It runs Thursdays, and I think you can access it via: http://www.thejournalnet.com . Some of the content requires a subscription, but it’s worth checking out on Thursday to see if you can see his column.

Allah: There’s more to this tiger than you knew…

Jeff put Ali to bed the other night and she was having a hard time getting to a sleepy point. Jeff asked her if she ever tried telling stories to Allah, her best friend (from among her stuffed ones) and usual sleeping partner. Oh, sure, she told her secrets, too. Allah’s a good secret keeper because if anyone tried to steal one of Alison’s secrets, Allah could open her mouth up and swallow them whole. She could swallow a whole apartment, so there’s really no way her secrets are in danger, Alison said, quite seriously.

“Are you ever afraid that Allah will swallow you up while you sleep?” Jeff asked. (This is the guy who wonders why she sometimes has nightmares.)

“Oh no, Dad, see this?” she said, pointing to a stretchy bracelet she’d placed around Allah’s neck. “I put this device there so she can’t ever swallow me.”

“But what if she swallows someone else? Someone one who’s nice?” he asked.

“Well, I also put a special door in the back of her right leg, see?” she pointed out. That’s a secret way out. So if there’s anyone trapped in there, I can go in and get them and lead them to safety.”

“But what if a bad guy is in there and he finds the way out?”

“Well, I thought of that,” she said. “I put a sign in there that says, ‘This way to the exit,’ and has a big red arrow pointing left. But really, that’s the way to her stomach, and they get eaten up. The exit is really to the right.”

Should I be happy about her elaborate imagination or worried about its violent ending for the bad guys?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

PhotoShoot Sunday 13 January

First, a word from this week’s sponsor: Christ the King Brownie Troop #2501

It’s Girl Scout Cookie time, and boy do they recruit young: even Ali’s Brownie troop has been called up. If you want to order through Troop #2501, let me know what you want and I’ll add you to the order form. If you go to this site you can see the cookies (All are $3.50 a box) and nutritional info: http://www.littlebrowniebakers.com/cookies/cookies_main.html .

The order forms are due Jan. 28, so please let me know ASAP if you’re in.

If you’re in town and need a cookie fix, it’s possible that Karin Ogden will finagle us into the Jordan YMCA and the Athenaeum downtown for the little troopers to sell face-to-face. I’ll let you know if and when, although it seems there will be an obligation to actually work out while you’re there…

Now, to continue my lament that Alison is growing up too fast, Thursday she came home with the phone number and address that she’d been given by A BOY at school! Worse yet, they’d arranged a date!

I looked at the note, which spelled out the address of one Will Meyer, his phone number and the time of their planned rendezvous.

“Ali, I think I’d better check with Will’s mommy, don’t you think?” I said, fully aware even as the words fell out of my mouth that by using the word “mommy” rather than “mom” that I was mentally minimizing the importance of this event.

“Oh, that’s alright, Mom. You don’t have to. We have it all arranged,” she said.

I called anyway. Will’s MOMMY was just as surprised as I was and had gotten the same answer: it was all arranged and there need be no parental involvement. After some discussion, the PLAY date is this afternoon. On the agenda are a game of Uno and much trading of Pokemon cards.

While I may fret about whether this is the beginning of Alison wanting to date, my cousin-in-law Mary will repeat what she said at our annual Kids Night Out dinner in Maine last month. Jen and I were discussing with the rest of the table whether Mary was too lenient with her freshman-in-art-school/college daughter and her boyfriend. I know what you’re thinking, but we’d all had wine and it was a fun conversation, which ended in enough laughter that we scared away most of the other guests in the restaurant.

As we (OK it was mostly me) poked unabashedly into her and Mark (and maybe Courtney's) business, Mary turned to me and said: “You can’t say anything: YOUR daughter has been sleeping with boys since she was 2!”

As they say in France, Tou -fricking- che!

I’m still keeping an eye on this Will character….I know Drew and Alex – Ali’s first and still true boy friends. (That’s two words, not one.) Will may need some watching…

The photo this week is of the newest addition to the Chez Reed: Grace Reed.

She’s a Betta and the last of Ali’s Christmas presents. She would have arrived earlier but Ali was on punishment for tricking her babysitter into giving her 6 pieces of candy. She’d been banned from using Aunt Cindy’s Target gift card and from buying her fish for a full week. Like any good prisoner, Alison created a count-down calendar and had been marking off the days. When she was released, she ran to the fridge, marked the last “X” and then balled up the calendar, threw it away and danced around the kitchen singing, “I’m off my punishment! I’m off my punishment!”

Great Opportunity for you

My friend and perhaps one day, Alison’s ice-skating instructor, Jesse Doecke, is doing a great thing in June this year. She’s bicycling in the AIDS/LifeCycle, a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that’s designed to help support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. She’s riding for the cause, but specifically for her choreographer and close friend Brian Wright, who lived with HIV for 17 years and full blown aids for 8. I had some trouble giving an online donation at her Web site http://www.aidslifecycle.org/1051 so I’ll give her a check tomorrow. Please help if you can.

Kid Lit

My favorite child-authored poem remains “Ice” by Miss Annemarie Robertson (circa 1967), but Alison Reed is giving her a run for her money with a sentence she constructed in class this week. It technically doesn’t qualify as haiku, and I fiddled with the punctuation, but here you have it: My two, current, favorite child-authored pieces of literature. Feel free to offer contenders.


By Annmarie Robertson

Ice is nice.

It’s fun to hold.

When it gets hotter, it turns into water

You vs. We

By Alison Reed

You are you.

Until your Mom comes.

Then, you are we.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

5 Things I Learned at the Gym Today

5. No one looks good with words splashed across their ass. No one.

4. Men should wear long, loose shorts when they’re working out in public.

3. You should never actually speak to, or make eye contact with, that cute guy you sneak peeks at.

2. The people who look good while working out piss me off.

1. Working out sucks unless you’re with a friend who agrees with points 1-5.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Growing pains

I picked Alison up from school yesterday. Before I'd left work, I'd been feeling queasy, and it only intensified as I drove. Once I got to the school, I was just hoping I'd be able to collect her and get home before I hoarked in the hallway. She was playing with her friends, but happily got her things together and hurried up after I told her I wasn't feeling well. We got home and I told her she could watch television but that I needed to lay down for a while.

I crawled into bed, expecting her to curl up with me -- as she always does. After a while, I realized she wasn't coming. I dragged myself to the top of the stairs and called down to her in the family room.

"Honey, you can watch TV in my room with me," I croaked.

"That's OK, Mama. I don't want to get sick," she called back.

Intellectually and as a parent, I know I should have been proud of her. We've been teaching her for years that it's best to keep your distance from Mom and Dad when they're sick. Despite our instruction, she's always thrown caution to the wind, wrapping her tiny little body around any part she can grab and sending all the healing power she can through hugs and little touches.

Taken aback and feeling more than a little sorry for myself, I stumbed back to my sick bed. I called Jeff to be sure he'd be home soon enough to feed her, got a bucket (just in case) and collapsed. I have hazy memories of them chattering about their days and having dinner as I deposited the previous days' nutrients in the pail beside my bed.

As bedtime approached and I continued to waffle between nausea and self pity, I heard her little voice.

"Daddy, would it be OK if I went in to say goodnight to mommy?"

I swear to all that's holy I started to feel better just having heard that. Armed with permission to visit, she runs into my room and propels every one of her 53 pounds straight into my stomach, head first and grabbing on to me with all the healing zeal a 6-year-old body can hold.

The absence of contents in my intestinal tract helped me enjoy the moment. While it didn't heal my body, my soul was restored.

I'm feeling better today. I'm still in the sick bed, and the pail is still here on standby. (God bless Jeff for taking care of disposing of the earlier contents and cleaning it out. It's times like these that make you think marriage is really a good idea...)

Hope you manage to avoid the little beastie that's done me in. If not, Ali and I will come over and cheer you up. I'll hold her back from jumping on you.

I'm OK with Ali growing up and one day not needing me 24/7. I just need a moment every now and then when she throws caution to the wind and latches back on. Even if it makes me want to puke.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

PhotoShootSunday 6January08

There's been a lot of snow flying since my last PhotoShoot, and I hardly know where to begin.

There was Christmas, of course. We spent 8 days in Maine - our first Christmas without Jeff's mom. We all had moments when her absence was huge. As usual, Alison handled it far better than any of us. For Ali, Grammie's not really gone. She's actually with us more because she has a better view now.

We were playing dominoes one night and Alison had just destroyed her grandfather's plans once again, and she just laughed when he complained about it. I asked her who taught her to play so well and she looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "Grammie," she said, and continued plotting the way Grammie had taught her to her eventual win.

Getting into the house on Day 1, she'd made a bee-line for her chalkboard -- the one Grammie had always started the countdown. She dragged it out and wrote out two markers: one for how many days until Christmas and the other how many days we had left in Maine. She updated it faithfully. A day or so after Christmas, she changed the first one to how many days until the Littlest Pet Shop toys she'd gotten and which were already packed and shipped, would get to Indiana. Once home, she had me mark the day of the toys' arrival on our refrigerator calendar.

Yes, she gets too many things (actually it's a combination of us all) in Maine to cram into our suitcases. The trip to the UPS Store has become part of our holiday ritual. Christmas was great. The snow in Maine was up to my knees before we got there and it made for some great sliding days. Next year we may try to ski.

So we got home just in time to get the tree and most of the decorations down before I had to be at my Bunco Christmas party and then zip down to Jasonville the next day for a visit with my family. Donna made a clam chowder that would easily pass for great even in Maine. And she has yet to share the dang recipe with me.

Our New Year's Eve party, which seems to becoming an annual affair, was more on-the-fly than it's ever been. It was its usual mix of people from different times of my life -- some old friends, some new, a case of champagne and a table full of great food. Jeff didn't cook non-stop as he has in past years, but he managed to make chili, beef tenderloin with an assortment of sauces, sushi, shrimp cocktail, spiced and roasted sweet potatoes. Friends complemented the array with orange/soy roasted chicken, cheeses, guacamole, puff pastries, cookies and to top it all off, our friend Lisa came late. She was sitting around thinking, she said, and she said to herself, "Hmmm. I make cheesecake and I make baklava. What if I made baklava cheesecake.?"

For those of you who knew Jeff and me a decade ago, Lisa was the one who made our wedding cakes -- different flavors of cheesecake decked out like a "real" wedding cake. Her latest invention was amazing -- even better than the wedding cakes. Move over Paula Deen, your 15 minutes may be up.

So we're officially back to the grind tomorrow. Ali's back to school and we're back to 5-day work weeks. I do kind of need the break... Hope your holidays were as jam-packed and fun as ours.

Talk to you soon!

Finally! I did it!

So I sat down to do the weekly PhotoShoot and Lisa Sirkin's voice was buzzing loudly in my ear. So I went to the Web and roughed out a blog.

Hopefully, I'll dope it all out soon and we'll add video and sound.

Cross your fingers that this will be a more useful way to keep us all together.