Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Lois!

Among the latest things I'm celebrating is my friendship with Lois Stewart, who's birthday we gathered for last week at the Cater Me Cafe on the Northside of Indianapolis.

I met Lois back in my FOB days. She instilled some much-needed ladylike skills in me, including instruction on when I needed to wear a slip. She never approved when profanity took over my mouth, but she always forgave me.

She made me a better person than when I entered those enormous double doors, and I'll always be grateful, if not the lady she'd rather I be. Happy Birthday Lola!


The weather in Indiana has been as idyllic as you can imagine. It's given us great opportunity to soak up a little autumnal sun and even exercise a little bit. Ali and I rode the bike to dinner one night when Jeff was done, and yesterday, we took a short little trip down to the White River and had some fun in the backyard.

We did have a tragedy, though: one of Ali's snails committed suicide by crawling out of his fish tank. She did everything short of CPR but Jeff decided it'd been dry too long and let the snail slip off its mortal coil.

Ever since Ali could decide what to wear on her own, she's shunned blue jeans, deciding they were too uncomfortable. She's flat-out refused to wear them, but encouraged by her dad and the option of earning school "money" she agreed to wear jeans to school for Spirit Day. Now, she can't get enough of 'em. It's about time. For a kid who's as much a tomboy as she is, the skirts and thin pants were doing a number on her knees.

And now, an excerpt from shameless eavesdropping on Alison and the Ogden kids:

"I've know you longer than any of your other friends, Alison," said Alex over pasta and red sauce Monday night.

"That's not true, Alex. I've known Jenna longer than anyone," she said through a mouthfull of shells.

"Nu-huh," he said. "I met you in Day Nursery."

"Yeah, but Jenna and met when we were still inside our mommie's bellies," she said patiently, knowing it was a bit of a revelation.

"What?!" said both Ogden kids. Even Hanna was fully engaged by now.

"Yeah, we were friends before we were even on the outside," Alison said.

"Wow," was the response.

"Yeah, and do you know how we got out of there?"


"We came out from our mommies' vaginas!"


"I know. But it's true."

"Gross. Hey, we came out of our mommy's vagina, too!"

"Yep. That's how it works."

Happily for me, the conversation ended there. Amer is on the edge of her seat wondering what I'll come up with if they ever ask how they got in there. I'm actually wondering that myself...

The photo to your left is what happens when kids making funny faces get carried away. They actually accidentally touched tongues, which freaked both of them out.

They had parked themselves on the roof of Alison's little playhouse and came really close to falling right off.

No desserts were lost in the making of these photos.

I labeled the picture of their tongues as "LikeMothersLikeDaughters." This is why:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lazy Sunday

My sister, Nancy, sent me this fun survey. If you try your hand at it, it'll help you determine where your presidential political sympathies lie. I was 12 of 13 questions for Obama so I guess my issues of the past few weeks have been resolved.

It's been a great weekend. Mostly because my friend Jeph Slaughter is cancer-free again but he celebrated a milestone birthday. He's now officially an adult whether he wants to be or not. We had a great Bunconian birthday bash for him. So great that I left my camera at Lynda's.

Jeff and I had date night at Irish fest and then at the movies. We were supposed to hook up with Lisa Sirkin, John Vielee and company but we only caught a glimpse. They spent three days at the festival of green. I think they should be in recovery as I type.

While Jeff pretended to be a plumber, Alison and I spent the morning biking to the newspaper stand where her current favorite adult -- Josh -- snuck her a piece of bubble gum. She had fallen in love with Matt from the newspaper stand back when she could barely walk and he snuck her her first lollipop. He's now good only for grilled cheese. Josh is her new favorite newspaper man. I fear I'll turn around and she'll be standing around with the boys around the newscounter smoking a stogie and swapping stories about what she did last night.

It's only a matter of time, I think.

On the way home, we saw that the local produce stand has a bumper crop of pumpkins, so we got home, got out the wagon and walked down. $30 later, we came home with three massive pumpkins, some farm fresh tomatoes, potatoes and small gourds. We decorated a little bit for fall, deciding it was just too early to get out the Halloween gear.

It's been a great day in Indiana. Coolish weather, just a few bugs. It's shaping up well.

Ali's next door at a bounce house that's leftover from Chelsea's birthday party. All the neighborhood kids are in it. I'm at outside, just a fence away listening to them argue about who has to be the monkey in the middle. The little one doesn't want to be the monkey and is protesting mightily. (Brings back my days of all-day-catcher in the backyard at home.) I'm on her side.

Hope you're having fun! Thanks to all who are helping with Flat Rachael.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Flat Rachael

My little friend, Rachael Weir needs some help from you travelers. (she's the second one in from the left -- one of Alison's fabled cousins.)

She's got a school assignment that takes off on the Flat Stanley phenomenon by requiring the kids to make a drawing of themselves and have it photographed in all kinds of places around the globe. So far, channeling Johnny Cash, she's been to Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and is planning stops in Georgia, the Sullivan County Jail (courtesy of an employee NOT an inmate,) deep in the bowels of an underground coal mine, at Butler University and what's left of Texas.

We'll have her in Maine for Christmas, but they need Flat Rachael to go everywhere, man.

If you're willing, it'll work this way: Jaime (my niece) will send you, via postal mail, your very own Flat Rachael. You take her out and photograph her doing something fun that illustrates a certain setting, and mail the photo back to Jaime. Your could have her:

  • climbing up a mountain
  • riding a horse
  • on a ferry going across the Sound
  • at an airport
  • in a dentist's chair
  • addressing Congress
  • getting a massage
  • field dressing a moose with Sarah Palin
  • getting her nails done
  • cheering Barak Obama after he wins the election
  • studying corrosion formulas in Boise
  • gambling on a river boat

You get the idea.

Jaime promises to send you only Flat Rachael, and not any kind of goofy stuff. She'll also refrain from putting you on "some pyscho mailing list" (her words; which make me wonder if she actually can do that.) She'll keep you posted on all of Flat Rachael's trips if you want, too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thar she blows!

So I've decided (again) that I'm just too fat and I'm trying to take measures to shed a few tons. This time, I've enlisted the help of Alli -- a fairly new miracle pill that promises to help you lose weight faster.

If you follow the directions -- eat way less fat and calories and exercise -- you should lose weight without the little blue pills. I know this. But the incentive for me here is two fold: 1. It says it'll shoot excess consumed fat (to a point) out of your body which is how it speeds the weight loss and 2. If you eat too much fat, it will totally embarrass you in public. I won't go into the details because I'm fairly certain you've figured it out by now.

This I know: I will eat myself to death if allowed. This I also know: I hate to be embarrassed publicly or just by myself. So I'm fairly certain I'll lose at least a little bit.

But tonight, I feared I might have a setback. You only take the pills when you're going to consume some fat calories. I had a banana for breakfast, so no pill. I plain forgot at lunch when I had a Weight Watchers calzone but it was followed up by fat-free pudding and a garden full of carrots. So I was OK without the helper.

For tonight, though I made nachos for dinner. It was healthier than it sounds, but it probably had too much sodium. I know this because I literally could feel my stomach start to swell up. Then I could see it. I was like some Macy's parade balloon. It was frightening.

So I thought, hey, a little exercise will help. Otherwise I'd put the family at risk when I, uh, blow. I'm telling you, I could feel the elastic on my panties start to call for help. So we got the bikes out.

While I pretend to be an environmentalist, I was prepared to pollute the atmosphere a bit. Better out on the bike than inside the house, I reason. Of course, I forgot that Alison was riding on the tandem right behind me.

We take a short ride over to the Ogdens to drop off an overnight bag for Ali. I confess my plight to Karin. She hustles us right out of the house -- no offense taken. I'd have done the same thing.

So I'm thinking along the route home that this has been a good plan. I hit a particularly rough part of the pavement and I twist around to ask Ali if she's still attached to the bike.

She says, and I swear I'm not making this up, "Well if I could just get rid of this excess flatulence."

"Excuse me?" I gasp. "Did you just say 'if I could just get rid of this excess flatulence?'"

"Yeah," she said. "I heard it on Chowder. It means farting. But I got rid of my flatulence. I'm OK now."

I thought I would fall right off the bike. Probably would have had I not still been a little inflated.

For the record, click on the hotlink to Chowder. It could be me in elementary school

See why I need Alli?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Something's Fishy at Chez Reed

Thanks in large part to Peter and David, we still have three fish swimming freely at the Reed house. Cleaning their three bowls has become a Saturday ritual.

She's named them Grace, Clementine and Alison. The two snails are Jennifer and Jenna. Jenna the gold fish, you may recall, didn't make it home from the Fair.

Ali thought Auntie Jen and Jenna Tokash would love having snails named after them, so I hope they understand the honor and aren't weirded out. Snails aren't really all that much fun, but they both are still alive, too... Well, I know one of them is alive because it sticks itself to the side. The other one sinks to the bottom. Alison says it likes it there. I'm not so sure it's capable of decision making.

Ali is really hoping for a big tank with more fish. I suspect if that ever happens, both Jen and Jenna will get better billing.

Alison is pretty good about feeding the fish only just enough, and we've both gotten better about making sure the gravel doesn't get into the garbage disposal. I still get the great duty of making sure the fish poo gets out of the rocks. No one told me about this part of motherhood... And if you don't know this already, goldfish poo a lot.

Alison is sure the amount of fish defecation is directly related to me over feeding them. But they look so hungry and bored just swimming around in circles. Sometimes I give them a little extra just to perk up their day. Ali puts her hands on her hips at least twice a week, cocks her head and says, "Mo-oom. Please tell me you're not feeding the fish again! It's not good for them!"

Um, they're still alive, I remind her. No one's jumped out of the bowl in a suicide pact. And as long as it's me pushing the poo out, I'm going keep on keeping them happy from time to time.

Ali thinks she's trained Grace (the Beta who arrived in January) to follow her finger.

I'm not telling her that when I walk by they all beat a path to the surface and start chattering to me by opening and closing their little mouths. I swear they make noise. "Feed me! Feed me! I'm going crazy in here!"

Election blues

As many of you know, I'm struggling to get excited about the election this fall. This is one of those times when I need my dad. I have a feeling he'd tell me to just stop fretting and support the Democratic candidate if I have a question. My problem isn't that I wonder if I still support the Democratic party in principal (I can't ever see that changing.) My problem is that I'm just not passionately moved by any of the individual candidates.

About a hundred years ago I told my dad I was thinking about voting in the Republican Primary because I wanted to help a weaker candidate win so my Democrat candidate would have an easier time in the Fall, he said, "Oh, honey. You don't want to blemish your record." I didn't, and my candidate still won in the Fall, but I was worried the whole time.

This year, I'm unhappily in the position of casting my support against candidates I really don't like rather than for those I do. (And yes, I'm sorry to say this extends to the state races. Heavy sigh.) I like to love my candidates.

Nearly all of my "D" friends are excited about Barak Obama. But he's taken on that most popular boy in school feel for me. People seem to be flocking to him because everyone else is. I still want to know what he'd do. Specifically.

I like his position on women's issues a lot, and I like the way he and Michelle appear to relate. There's a great piece in Ladies Home Journal that has both of them talking about some of the issues I care about. MarieClaire carried a similar piece. Sure, they're PR pieces and not exactly hard hitting, but there's some depth there that had started me toward the excitement door.

I have to say that I was nearly over my heartbreak about Hillary not winning the nomination, and I was nearly ready to "do the right thing" by fully accepting him. But her speech was just tremendous, and it just made me remember why I like her so much. And she did it again when she released her delegates. Sure, she's made some mistakes through the years, but she's tried really hard to help those who need it the most along the way, and I give her points for that. I think she's learned lessons from her past failures, and I think that painfully won knowledge would help us now.

I'm afraid that Mr. Obama hasn't had time or opportunity to learn so much from failure. As one who's failed spectacularly, I respect the lessons you learn from boneheadedess.

I also point to Chelsea Clinton when anyone takes potshots at her mother. Just look at that young woman. By all rights, any kid who grew up with her parents in the White House with all that occurred there would be a drugged-out, trust-fund baby. She's poised. She's smart. She's compassionate. Even with all the pressure she was under at the time, Hillary Clinton played a huge role in helping her to be who she is right now, and I just refuse to lose sight of that.

I was glad to see Time magazine give Evangelicals credit for seeing the hypocrisy in the discussion over Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol. If she was Hillary's child, the pregnancy would be because of bad parenting. And, as John Stewart so succinctly pointed out, Sarah says Bristol "chose" to keep this baby. All well and good. But Sarah doesn't want to give anyone else the opportunity to make that same choice. And that's not good.

There's been a ton of stuff written about Ms. Palin lately, and some of my friends are worried she's going to re-energize the GOP. My hair stylist (yes, I know it's shocking that I have one.) is a Sarah Palin supporter solely on the choice issue. We talked a little about it while she covered up my gray. I respect people's beliefs, even if they differ from mine, and I think it's possible to have reasonable discussions. I'm not sure I moved her, but I think she was open to listening, at least.

My hair came out great -- so maybe I wasn't as eloquent as I thought....

Anyway, I'm hoping Time has it right and the evangelicals won't blindly follow. If you want more on Sarah Palin, check out this and this.

I'm not saying she's evil. But for those of you who hate Hillary for being ambitious and gutsy, um, you might want to learn more about little Miss Alaska.

OK. I'm off my soap box.