Sunday, June 29, 2008
We've been collecting state quarters rather haphazardly in her biggest piggy bank for years. So when we got the gift home, we went right to the pig and filled in a good half of the book. Jeff took over a few days later, emptying his stashes and we filled in some more.
I had a lot of fun with this because the quarter collection has an extra kick. Back in my Statehouse days, Governor O'Bannon let me help collect proposals and settle on the final design of the Indiana quarter. I got to plan the announcement, too, which was way fun because it was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My friend Joyce called in her stamp buddies and we even got a special USPS stamp for the day. The event was even mentioned in a book written by my friend Andrew Stoner about Governor O'Bannon.
Alison is less concerned about Indiana's coin -- we've had that for years now and it's old hat. She's been searching high and low for others, though. A couple friends from work threw in a couple and I've been getting change in quarters so she can sort through them. We're currently missing only Illinois, Alabama and Kansas from among the coins that have been released. Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii have yet to be rolled out.
If you happen to have one of the missing coins jangling around in your pockets, and they're not earmarked for your own little ones, I know a small redhead who would gladly reimburse you if you'd like to send it along.
I say reimburse you, and I mean it, because along the way to finding her state quarters, Alison sorted and rolled all of the coins she's been hoarding since she first started snatching them up. Along with the folding money she's cabbaged from birthday cards and such, she'd amassed more than $130 in various purses, jars, and other things with lids or zippers. This despite my leniency in letting her buy the occasional Littlest Pet Shop or magazine at the news stand.
So we trotted her down to Chase Bank yesterday. Jeff had actually told her that he would take care of her deposit, but she asked if she could go, too. She put her rolled coins and twenties in the popsicle treasure chest she'd built and painted at camp and suffered through the 15 minutes or so it took to set up her account. She managed to talk the bankers out of some extra coin rolls for her future endeavors.
Jeff had her fill out her own savings book, so she's all set. The idea that the bank will actually pay her to keep her money there instead of in nooks and crannies around the house has thrilled her. She's planning on depositing her next dividend check from the Getty Realty Corp. (something her Grandfather passed along to her last year) and any other cash she can scrounge.
I'm afraid she's on the road to becoming a Republican.
I'm going to do my best to keep her a fiscally conservative Democrat. We've been making her give us plain old ordinary quarters every time we find her state quarters that she needs.
Jeff helped more yesterday when, before we went to the bank, we stopped off at Staples where he had to buy new ink because Ali had done wild printing out documents from Pixel Chicks and LPS.
She contributed $20 to the $80 bill in our effort to encourage her to understand the value behind the fun stuff she does. (Forget the price at the pump; it's the ink barons who are going to get us in the end.)
When Jeff asked her if she thought she should pay for a portion of the ink cost, she offered up a full half on the theory that she'd be printing more in the future. He thought $20 would be a more fair start. Silly dad. Peeling off a couple of twenties from her wad of cash didn't hurt one bit. "I still have a lot more," she said.
So if you have one of her missing quarters and you don't mind parting with it, make sure you get something back from her -- she's got the do-re-mi -- and she doesn't mind paying her fair share. I may have her in the D camp after all...
But this week, I have to give him some much deserved props. In the PR biz, this is known as a 3rd party endorsement, so it's even more credible than if I just complimented him outright.
He has been working on a project for my family that involves the potential for some property my father once owned to be mined for coal. It's complicated by the fact that the property is now co-owned by my siblings and me. Because he doesn't practice in the property rights field, and because he wants to do the right thing by the family, he reached out to some lawyer friends who do practice in property rights for advice and examples of contracts that could be similar to one we may need. Here's the message he was sent by the property rights expert friend, funneled through a utility expert friend."... please let Jeff know that I recently attended an ICLEF seminar and I have some good stuff on coal leases which I will overnight to him... Please let him also know that he remains in my book, one of the all-time best basketball coaches in the North Deanery..."
The reference to the North Deanery is back more than a dozen years ago when Jeff coached junior high boys basketball at the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He co-coached with Fred Miller, whose wife Laura and boys Steve and Jon, remain dear friends. A group of the boys came to our wedding, and it's one of my favorite pictures -- these boys with their grown-up clothes that didn't quite fit.
The guy who sent the message and the legal documents didn't even have a boy under Jeff's coaching tutelage. Jeff coached for a competitive team, but apparently his legend as the coach who wore a suit to every game (along with some good life-skills/bball instruction) lives on.
Jon and Steve Miller -- and all the boys Jeff coached -- are now full-grown men, out of college and working full-time. That's how long it's been since he coached them. I think it's impressive that someone would make a reference to it so much later and so out of the blue.
- Alison asked me the other day why fish didn't get cramps after eating.
- One day after camp last week, Jeff picked up the kids and loaded up on water guns. By the time I'd gotten home, the kids were in their swim suit and were loading up. It was great fun. So I guess I need to add Mr. Reed's influence to the likeability meter...
- Our friend Dale Ogden got a little fame in today's Indianapolis Star.
- Light a candle for Dale: he's in charge of the kids next week as we take a small, planned break from the structures of summer camp.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
They'll also get to swim and play with crafts and generally have fun and keep out of trouble.
But like all good paradises, there's a snake in summer camp. A thievin' varmint who's made away (so far) with two Webkinz, two Littlest Pet Shops and a bag of candy. And that's just from our three campers.
It was on the way home the other day that I discovered the Webkinz had gone missing. This was more than simple trauma. The Webkins were Hannah's. She'd loaned them to Alex so he could play with them during the day. The were the kids' two favorite Webkinz. And Alex had confessed already that he'd lost the gecko. We spent some time checking Lost & Found and in corners around the camp but no luck. When Hannah discovered in the car that he'd lost the lion, too, all sorts of wailing commenced. Hannah was mad and sad. Alex was distraught that his big sister was mad at him, even though he didn't do it on purpose. Alison was remembering her Littlest Pet Shops that that had been the victim of an earlier heist.
I say heist because I'm certain the toys have been stolen, rather than lost. The pet shops could have been lost, but the pattern has been the same: they leave the toys near, but not inside their backpacks when they go out for an activity or to the bathroom. They return to find no toys.
Now, we've all talked to them both before an after the thefts about the need to keep special things home. I think they've all really learned the lesson. But it didn't soften the pain of the most recent loss.
To help stem the sobbing I suggested that they think about ways they could recover from the blow. We talked about having a lemonade stand or doing chores for money to raise enough to replace the missing toys.
We've settled on a yard sale where they'll sell the toys they no longer play with.
Last week they made some pretty good inroads into examining what could be sold and what needed to be kept. The plastic bin in the photo is nearly full now; the toy box less so.
I think we'll have the sale in August when I'm off on vacation with them. It'll probably be sometime between August 11 and 14 if I can hold them off that long. And I think there may also be a lemonade stand. Depending on how I'm feeling, it may or may not have vodka in it...
Anyone who wants to donate toys for the sale -- or come by to shop or sip -- should stay tuned. I'll give you an exact date soon.
Prices will target the 4-feet-and-under wallet.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
My theory, however, was put to the test last week.
We have an arrangement with the Ogdens that they deliver the kids to summer day camp and the Reeds pick up. That gives the kids a little bit of play time at both houses. Apparently, the Ogdens prefer that I pick them up, rather than their mother. Karin got a little tired of hearing about the fun they have at the Reeds. "What is it with the frickin' Reeds, anyway? Why do you want to go there?" she finally asked through gritted teeth.
The two little cherubs twirp: "Mrs. Reed gives us candy. You only give us carrot sticks and yogurt."
While I was chagrined and thought for a moment that Jeff may actually be right about me, I have a second example of how it just may be my natural charm.
My friend and colleague Jackie was in town for work and was supposed to bring her kids to an after-work party on Friday. She ended up not bringing them, but we did get to meet the next day when she forgot something at work and we had to go downtown to get it. We hung out a bit, the girls played and had a great time. Ava is 5. She and Ali made fast friends, so it was natural that when we got in separate cars to go downtown, she wanted to ride with Ali and me. This continued at each of our stops. Jackie wondered if this rejection of her mother's driving was normal. I credited the presence of Ali, but sure, the Cheryl likability theory kicked in.
As they left for their journey back to Chicago, I stocked Jackie up with water, milk and snacks for Ava and Eli. Here's an excerpt of her account of the trip. "...... the first two hours (despite FOUR pee breaks) was heaven due to the horde of snacks I had accumulated from the Reed home. Every time I heard a whimper, back went a snack pack (I only took four, I swear) and then it was the sound of happy munching and slurping until the request to pee occurred (an easy task compared to fighting). I also got an earful on Alison Reed and how she was the new best friend and that they were going to go boating the next visit to Indy. I offered to be the chaperone to which my child (the traitor) responded "That's ok Mommy, Cheryl will take us instead."
Clearly, I rock. :)
The work party on Friday was a lot of fun. As evidence,
I post this photo of the Ogden kids and Alison.
They wanted desperately to see midnight. None did.
We put them into proper beds for the night.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A couple of years ago, Jeff Reed stumbled onto a local fireworks store where he struck up a conversation that turned into a negotiation with Tom Vielee, who was to become our good friend. Jeff can spend hundreds of dollars on fireworks, but he only likes to shell out the dough when he thinks he's getting a deal.
After about six days of negotiation, he was happy with his deal. He packed up his semi-tractor trailer full of blow-em up stuff and started home, only to realize that he'd shorted his new BFF $50. So he gets home, gets to the bank, and goes back , cash in hand.
He forks over the cash and heads out the door, only to hear "Hey, Mr. Reed," shouted out at him. It was John Vielee and his crew. Jeff went over to talk to them, and Tom, attracted by the shouting, looked out the window.
He walks out, says to his brother John, "Do you know this guy?"
John owns up to knowing Jeff (John at the time was my friend Lisa Sirkin's boyfriend). Tom put his arm around Jeff, and says, "Come on back inside. Friends get a special discount."
So Jeff fell even more in love with Tom.
So tonight, I had to go to Fishers on an errand, and I realized I had no cash. I went to the ATM, but I had only twenties, and I needed a ten. I'm looking for a place where I can buy a tiny item to get change, and Karin and I see a fireworks store. She goes in with my wallet while I wait in the car with the kids. I think to myself, "Self, I think you got a flyer from Tom Vielee recently that said he had a store in Fishers. Maybe this is his. Nah..."
So Karin gets back in the car with three tiny fireworks for the kids, extolling the virtue of the guy inside the store. "He was so nice! He told me he'd just give me change and that I didn't have to buy anything, but I went ahead and got something small," she said.
I described Tom to her. "That's totally him!" she said.
That Tom. What a nice guy. To give equal billing, the business is owned by both him and his oh-so-cool wife, Diane. If you're in the Indianapolis area, and you have a need for fireworks, go see Tom. He's great. He'll give you great fireworks, and he may give you a bargain... People who buy before June 27 get an extra 20 percent off.
Castleton: 465 and Allisonville (next to Mike’s Carwash)
McCordsville: SR 67 & Pendleton Pike (nest to Joe’s Grille)
Call Tom with any questions...997-4425.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
For anyone who has a job and works at it even a little bit, you deserve some help with the worst cleaning job in the house. I mean, really. I don't even like having to use the facilities let alone clean them up afterward.
When we moved into our house, we had one bathroom, and it came fully equipped. We've changed out the sink, but have the original toilet and tub. As long as we've lived here, there's been a line around the toilet's water's edge. In the other two bathrooms that we added, we've had issues that I won't go into.
I've poured bleach into the toilets, trying to get them clean. Once I mixed ammonia, bleach, Comet and vinegar, then closed the lid and did some other kind of cleaning. When I remembered my project, I went in, lifted the lid and nearly passed out. Jeff said I made mustard gas and could have blown up the whole house. After I came to, I checked the bowl. The line was still there.
But this week, I found Kaboom Bowl Blaster. It's a miracle powder that you just pour into the toilet. It foams up. If you have a really bad mess, you leave it longer and scrub it. If you have only normal stains, it apparently lifts them off like magic.
I never buy anything from TV, and apparently this stuff made its name on the infommercial circuit. I stumbled across it at Target where I was planning to buy the eco-friendly stuff. I wanted to believe something that would eat through decades of fecal stain would also be gentle and good to the Earth, but I was a doubter. The Kaboom said it would work, and I had no reason to disbelieve it. Plus, it was in a purple bottle.
I had to scrub a little bit, but the filth is gone! I haven't told Jeff yet that he's not allowed to ever sully our toilets again. It's Father's Day. I thought I'd give him one last, um, go....
Jeff has often lamented that Alison doesn't like him as much as she likes me, and he routinely claims that she listens to his direction as often as her mother does. (Translation: not at all.)
He would have been proud, though, to hear her description of some chewing gum that Karin Ogden had given her the other day. She demanded that I try it, but couldn't wait for me to discover the taste sensation on my own.
She cocked her head, chewed a little bit on her own gum and without meaning to, gave a dead-on impression of her father.
"It starts out a little minty, but then it finishes with a, well, um, a bubbly flavor just like bubble gum," she said.
It finishes? Chewing gum can finish?!? I just cracked up.
Then, on the way to her last T-ball game of the season, I think she did irreparable damage to Jeff Reed's heart. The last game of the year is a parents vs. kids game. I was advising her to get prepared to lose. I told her we were going to smoke them and I was hoping she would cry about losing.
"Well, who cares who wins, Mom? I'll still be your daughter and we'll still all live together in our house," she said. "Winning isn't that important. It's only fun to win if you have fun when you're playing."
Now I'm totally fine with that attitude. Jeff, who can't play Crazy 8s without devising and implementing a strategy to win, choked up a little bit.
"But Alison, the whole reason you play the game is to win," he protested.
"Da-ad. Winning isn't everything," retorted the sage from the backseat.
To his credit, Jeff just held his tongue. He may have been fighting back tears. I'm not altogether sure.
His Father's Day improved with a visit to the Talbot Street Art Fair where we ran into some great friends and then his big pile of grill-related holiday booty.
If you need one more piece of Father's Day, you won't be sorry to read this piece from my friend Bob Johnson.
Hope you all had a great day!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
My family back home is in the flood zone, though no one is reporting that they've had to be evacuated, as some people have. I got some of the lowdown from national television, but more from sister Diana, who lives at the top of the pasture where we grew up. She's next to the pond -- which apparently has decided to take on a little sub-sub-sub-suburban sprawl -- I'm not sure if the dam broke this weekend or during earlier gullywashers, but it's destined for a bigger portion of the property.
Diane and David, my brother, called me Saturday morning after seeing national news reports of flooding near Indianapolis. The pictures reminded David of the time he, Donnie, Debbie and I were investigating the creek (which now separates Diana's house from Jason's on my mom and dad's homeplace) after a huge rain storm. Normally a placid, ankle or knee-deep waterway, that day it was roaring and rushing through the little concrete bridge as it crossed under the road.
Donnie and David (who later would drag some gasoline down to the creek to see if they could light water on fire -- yes, they could and yes they did) saw the rushing water and had a little chat about just how fast it would get to the river. They must have argued over the mathematical calculation. Then they saw innocent, gullible little me, circa age 5. "Hey, Cheryl! Want to see the river?"
So they tossed me into the raging creek. Now we lived no where close to the river and I'm not sure if they'd planned to run alongside the creek the 10 miles or so before it would hit the Eel River carrying a stop watch or what. My dim recall is that they tossed me and then got distracted by a bug or a snake or an errant fart. Who knows. But Debbie was on the job. She snagged an arm or leg as I rushed through the bridge destined for a watery grave and pulled me out.
I remember the boys laughing and wagering over whether she could actually get me out. I think she shamed them into helping. The whole thing is a bit of a soggy blur. It was not the first, nor the last time my siblings would experiment with ways to kill me...
So David calls today to see if I'm anywhere near a creek and to warn me not to fall in. Funny boy, that David.
It didn't rain today but the forecast is for more tomorrow. If you see Noah, send him my way. If he happens to see my brother David floating by, just tell him to whip out a stop watch and track his progress. He's a good swimmer.
In other news, Jeff and I spent most of the weekend cleaning up -- in the basement and in the yard. But we found some time Friday to go to the Indians game. Ali and I were apparently on the big screen for a moment -- just enough time for Amy Tokash to spy us and call me up to tell me they were at the game, too.
Jenna and Ali squealed so loudly when they saw each other, I 'm sure the guy in right field heard them. It was so much fun. We ended up staying for the fireworks, and walking around in the park, Ali and Jenna held hands. So of course Amer and I had to, as well. We love going to the game, but having Team Tokash there made it even better.
Today, we took a late afternoon break from yard work to take Ali and the Ogdens to the pool. It was a lot of fun, too, and a good break from all the sweat and the dirt. Afterward, we let Karin make us dinner. I'm not sure either Jeff or I could have done much more than order, and I'm not sure we'd have had the energy to dial the phone.
Note to all you weekend gardeners: plant spikes only if you think you'll like them for all eternity. They're hard to dig up and harder to keep killed. Ditto for lillies of the valley. Oh sure, they seem pretty and they're perrinneal and not much work. But killing them? They'll be shading the cockroaches long after we're gone.
Working in different parts of the yard, Jeff trimmed two trees to within an inch of their lives and got rid of two stumps from trees that needed to go. I dug out an acre of lilies of the valley and dug up a few sections of black-eyed-susans so my neighbor could have some. They came from her yard when she'd decided she had too many. Then hers all died while mine have multiplied like rabbits. She's mentioned how much she wishes she had some back every time I've seen her this summer.
Alison was on stick pickup duty. She'd started with me on spike removal and we'd negotiated a $5 deal if she did good work. About 15 minutes in, she decided she needed a snack and never returned. She ended up crapping out on stick duty, too. No money for Al this weekend...
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Now we face the prospect of having Alison at her summer camp about 10 miles north of our house while we're downtown at work with Tornado Alley apparently in full swing. Argh! She's at a YMCA camp, though -- brick buildings with a great safety training record among the staff. I should stop worrying....
Here we go again...
This has been the worst few days for bad weather in Indiana! We're all back down in the basement. We've been lucky lately, so we're scoping out the best places to be in the basement should the worst occur.
Alison's convinced that we'll be OK come what may because our house is made of bricks. It worked for the little pig, so she's sure it'll work for us. Cross your fingers that she's right and light a candle for those without bricks or a basement.
Monday, June 2, 2008
We had a great time.
We ate great food.
We drank good champagne.
And Ali caught her very first fish.
John was a study in patience, helping Ali get her hook baited and then helping her for what seemed like hours dangle her hook in the water. They actually saw the fish they wanted. I ended up naming him Jerry and calling Alison Tom. That fish must have eaten a dozen worms before she finally caught him. I'd actually given up and was napping when Jeff dragged me out of bed to witness the first fish.
John got Jerry (if you squint you can see him just at the edge of where her dress meets her pants) off the hook and then kissed him before putting him back in the water, earning great respect and a tiny bit of disgust from Alison. She was so proud.
Notes from my sickbed:
Alison watched a bit of cartoons while watching over me Saturday afternoon. At one point I was making her Littlest Pet Shops talk when one of them asked who those other folks in the house were. "That tall, loudish guy is my dad," Alison said.
"Oh, so that other person must be your mom," said Iggy, the Iguana.
"Yes. She looks exactly like me but she's way, way taller and she had a job," Ali explained.
Alison came back exclaiming about some ants she'd seen outside. I think it must be mating season for ant -- not that I really know how they mate -- but in any event, she claimed to have seen an ant that had two heads.
"It was like Ant-enstein!" she said. (i.e. like Frankenstein...get it? :)
On Saturday, I thought I was feeling better and Alison was still on the bed watching cartoons. I reached over to hug her. She scuttled away.
"Uh, Mom. I love you but I do NOT want your germs," said my little Florence Nightengale.
As my local friends know from living through it, we had a little tornado in Indianapolis this weekend. We had a few more sticks in the yard and lost power for several hours but we got that back and suffered only some water in our basement. Others were far worse off. Our neighbors three doors away from us still don't have power, and a bunch of folks on the Eastside of town are have lost homes.
While I was in my NyQuil haze, Jeff took care of watching the weather alerts, getting Ali and me to the basement for the night, putting our furniture up in the basement when the rains started, cleaning up the water after and generally taking care of everything. And then, he grilled up a great dinner for Teams Reed and Ogden Sunday night.
It's good to have a partner who'll step in like that. And, as he lovingly reminded me, "One day I'll be sick all weekend and you can take care of everything!" Or maybe he was thinking of that long baseball weekend he and Bob Johnson are planning in August..... In either case, he stepped up big this weekend and I owe him.
2. NyQuil is my friend.
3. Never take NyQuil after you see "Tornado Warning" flash on your TV.
4. If you must take NyQuil after the tornado warning, make sure you have a friend who'll get you to safety in your comatose state.
5. NyQuil helps abate the terror that tornadoes can inspire.
Finally, I've found something that my family and Jeff's family have in common other than their great love for me (ha!) We have a shared love of Harley riders among some of us.
My sister Debbie and her husband Steve got their bike a few summers ago, I think, and with the departure of Annie to college this fall, I think they're going to be on the bike a lot. My sister-in-law Jen and her boyfriend, Peter, are also big-time bikers. Jen has all the leather to go with it, although she has yet to share herself in pictures. I have only this shot of Peter's beast to showcase.
I put the Harley connect together because Debbie called me Sunday to tell me she was in town for a fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children, here in Indianapolis.
All of Bickels have a soft spot for Riley, Deb more than any of us. They took care of her son, Billy, who passed away from a form of cancer when he was just about Alison's age. Johnney, Billy's younger brother, was treated there for the same illness, and I think he still receives care there even though he's now way taller than pretty much any of the rest of us. Alison had her tonsils out there. Jeff sees someone there for his hearing problems. It's just a great hospital, and we all think the world of the place.
But Deb and Steve did more than just think good thoughts for Riley – they rode in the Miracle Ride, which was a motorcyclists’ fundraiser for the hospital. The shot shown is of just one parking lot of bikers. There was another one just as full.
If you’re ever in need of a place to give your money, Riley is greatly deserving. They can’t save every child who comes their way, but they do their best. And they bring light into some really dark and dismal days for both the families and the kids.
Deb and Steve got to ride around the Indianapolis 500 track – she claims they hit 80 mph at one point.
I’m sure Steve was driving. The last time Debbie drove to Indy she ended up near Ohio, I think before she realized she’d missed her exit. That may be a slight exaggeration and it could easily have been to Illinois she was headed, I can't remember. I’m a bad driver. Deb’s a bad navigator.
While she thinks she has my hair, Alison, in fact, has Debbie's hair, which you can see from the photo over there.
And as of Friday, Debbie had replaced Donna as Alison's favorite Indiana aunt. I met Deb, Steve and Annie at the airport Friday to wish Annie good travels to Europe(a 3-week trip with the SHS German Club) and to pick up the Littlest Pet Shops that Ali had left behind the previous weekend in Jasonville. Alison was pretty quick to switch her allegiance -- though she was prompted a bit.