Friday, January 23, 2009

We are SO going to Hell

Alison brought home her report card on Thursday, and it was stellar. She even improved her conduct and got a "good attitude" note.

We were so proud.

She'd had a bit of trouble adjusting to second grade and had had a series of minor conduct infractions early in the school year. It became, as some of you may remember, quite the issue with Captain Reed. He imposed a series of punishments for her if she didn't shape up; with repeat violations, the punishment would step up.

Faced with a weekend of being grounded from her Webkinz, the computer and TV for the full weekend should she step out of line again, Alison's conduct improved to perfect. Hence the bump up to A (from, gasp! B+) and the note about her attitude on her report card.

So imagine the level of horror she was facing Friday when smack in the middle of class, she got nailed with a conduct cut.

I'm sure she weathered the storm fine at school. When I picked her up, though, all the chickens came home to roost. She confessed and then wailed, "Now Dad is going to ground me for three whole days and I won't be able to watch TV or play with my Webkinz, and I'll have to write sentences!"

I asked her if she'd been given some warning before the hairy arm of the law came down hard. (Not in those exact words) She said, and I quote: "I don't recall."

Oh, woe was Ali for the entire trip home. She sniffled. She cried. I told her that she needed to calm down, that she'd face some punishment but that it wasn't worth all the angst. I asked her what she thought a suitable punishment was.

"Well, maybe I should not be allowed to read any books," she offered.

I laughed almost as loud as I did (in my head) when she couldn't recall the exact order of events. "Try again," I said.

But here's why she thought a ban on books was in order:

She earned her first conduct cut of 2009 for reading. Yeah. For reading Of course she was supposed to be listening to the teacher teach them about... what was that again? Oh yeah. Religion. She got busted for reading a chapter book instead of listening to a lesson on religion. Even the teacher was amused if the conduct slip was any indication. "Alison was reading instead of listening to the lesson in religion," Mrs. Zinkan wrote. She followed it up with smiley face and a parenthetical "It's OK."

Well of course it isn't OK for a 2nd grader to disrespect the teacher. But come on. Getting in trouble for reading at school is like getting in trouble for helping too many old ladies across the street.

I read illegally throughout my academic career. Usually it was more steamy stuff than Sideways Tales from WaySide School, but hell's bells! Of course it was religion class.

Anyway, we get home and she slow walked it downstairs to confess to the Captain. He was his usual firm self, and we agreed that she'll be banned from screen time tonight and most of tomorrow.

After she'd calmed down and agreed that it was a fair sacrifice to pay for her errant ways, he told her about the plan to go to the movies tomorrow night while I host Bunco.

"Ahem, Dad!"


"Remember my punishment? What do you think movies are shown on? A screen," she informed him.

I'm afraid she's going to the kid who reminds the teacher about assigning homework for the weekend. I'm going to have to start seeding her reading material...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Signs, signs, every where a sign

It's been a while since the omens of badness were flying so close to my head, so maybe I can be excused for ignoring them. All I know is I'm going to be more careful going forward.

It all started with an attempt to help the 8th graders at Christ the King by attending a trivia night fund raiser. We needed a team of eight, and I called on my friend and trivia ringer, Chris Austin. John and Lisa made sense -- he's a legacy at CKS -- so we needed three more people. We lined up our favorite sitter.

Then, John and Lisa had to bail. His company party was going on and in the course of going to it, they checked on the lakehouse to find it flooded with 5,000 gallons of water. Major disaster.

With no way of helping clear the mess down there, we we asked Team Ogden to fill in for the Vielees at the event. Karin invited a couple we'd met at our Halloween party. We liked them then, so it seemed like a good idea. We had 7 and I figured that was close enough.

But we didn't get an immediate confirmation from the new people. Chris ended up having a kidney stone and a bad work week and had to bail. By the time we got confirmation from the new people, the deadline to enter had passed.

We had a sitter, so we talked about going out Saturday anyway. Dinner and a movie. We'd invite the new people. What could go wrong?

Well, first, CKS announced a 2-hour-delay on Friday due to really cold weather and Ali celebrated by vomiting at 4 a.m. She'd had another cold for a while that was getting worse, so and I stayed home from school and work. We went to the doctor and CVS, where she vomited again in the parking lot before we got her meds. I alerted the pharmacist to the deposit we'd made, wondering if we should clear it out of the way. She laughed and said, "This is Broad Ripple. There's always vomit in our parking lot."

Ali was showing full recovery signs by Friday evening. So we decided we would go to the movies: us, the Ogdens and the new potential friends. We were to gather at our house between 6 and 6:30, plenty of time to get to an early movie and then dinner or to decide to have dinner first.

While waiting for the others, we quibble between Gran Torino, The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire. Karin and I put a bid in for Rachel's Getting Married and were soundly booed. We settle on Gran Torino. Jeff, who'd gotten distracted talking to our fabulous sitter, Claire, looks up says, "I'll see anything but Clint Eastwood."

6:30 came and went with no new friends. By the time they arrived, we'd lost out on getting to the early movie option. Not a huge deal, but annoying. I'd had a Red Bull. I figured I could squirrel another one in my coat pocket. They arrive with no apparent knowledge (or care) that they'd blown Option A. Finding a dinner venue proved a bit annoying, but we found a new, fun and even good place. The night was settling in nicely.

We get to the movies. We set semi-settled. Karin is on the phone. Hannah's sick. How sick? Let's let it go a while. If she's really sick, call back. The movie house dims. Karin's back on the phone. Will (potential new friend and driver of us all) and Karin disappear.

I wonder if we should all go, too. No one else is budging. Back to Clint Eastwood I go.

After a while I glance over. Now they're all gone. I text Karin who tells me Hannah is hoarking up a storm. I ask Jeff if we should leave.

"Uh, we have no ride," he reminds me and directs his gaze back to the screen. I get a text later from Karin saying Dale will pick us up after.

Turns out that Will took Karin to get her car so she could get Hannah. On the way back to the theater, his mini van gets smacked by another car whose driver ran a red light. (Dinner had been full of a great story from a month earlier when their parked car got smacked in the middle of the night by a hit-and-run driver who left behind her bumper. An angry Dawn went looking for the hit-and-runner in plain sight of the cops who later found it when the driver called in to say she'd been victimized by a hit-and-run. The same cop who'd responded to Dawn and Will's call went to that scene and put two and two together when the new victim showed him her bumperless car. The cop, amused as all get out, called to alert Will to the discovery and to also advise Dawn to keep her vigilante butt at home and not track down the criminal.)

So Will hikes back to the theater -- about 4 blocks away -- and snags Dale and Dawn. No one is hurt -- well a bunch of people were hurt in the movie -- but no one in our little circle.

We get home and are walking in the door talking about the crash when Leela, Dawn and Will's daughter pops out of Ali's bedroom, eyes wide. I'd just assumed Will had taken her home. But no, I get to scare the bejesus out of her with news of her parents' car crash. I have to call Karin to get their number to determine if they'll be getting their kid or if we should deliver her. For all I knew, Dawn was doling out some justice on the other driver...

Finally, we send everyone home. This morning, I wake up sick.

It doesn't pay to ignore the omens.

With apologies to Mr. Eastwood who's made a terrific movie, I think we should have just stayed home.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Good Grief! I see two great pumpkins, Charlie Brown!

Alison watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special one too many times over the holiday apparently. Whenever things don't go her way these days, she says, "Good Grief!" She had a bit of a stuffy nose right now so it's extra funny to hear the expression.

She's also fascinated with why Charlie Brown is always referred to as both Charlie and Brown. Lucy gets just a first name, and so does everyone else. Doesn't seem fair to her, she says. I reminded her that he is the title character. She's pondering whether that's a sufficient reason to saddle him with both names.

She spent the night Saturday with Jenna, who began the sleepover with a bang. Literally. She fell down the basement stairs and still had quite a goose egg on the back of her head this morning. She seemed to recover well enough for the girls to have a good time, though.

She was at Amer's because Jeff and I attended the Angie's List holiday party. It's good to have it after the madness that is December. They're a wacky bunch at the List, and this year's party was envisioned as an 80's prom. So it was a dress up affair, but retro.

Jeff rented a great leisure suit from Broad Ripple vintage, which came with aviator glasses and a huge necklace. I opted to bring the girls out and wore a skimpy black vest with a spangly long skirt and a velvet bow tie that looked like a choker.

Alison's review of our ensembles:

"Oooh, Daddy. You look just like they did in the olden days!" (how she's clued into the 80's, don't know -- plus thinking the 80's are olden days is enough to make me say, "good grief!")

"Mom, you look really pretty, but, no offense: I can see your boobs."

She's taken to saying "no offense" to shield people from hurt feelings. She sometimes uses it appropriately. I have yet to train her on the "If you can't say something nice, come sit next to me." Oh, wait. That's "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all." Good thing I haven't trained her yet.

Anyway, we looked pretty rad, let me tell you. Groovy, too.

Jeff was nominated for best dressed from among the 500 or so people there. He didn't win -- company workers won, but it was a big deal to be nominated in that crowd. My good friend Shelly Towns won for best dressed 80s girl and she so deserved it. Side pony tail, leggings and bright pink eye shadow... she was stylin'. Another cool work friend, Cas Riddle and her boyfriend Joey were nominated for best dressed couple. they were dressed like the 20s. They were stunning -- but camp won over beauty and grace somehow.

It was a fun evening and my first prom that featured uh, after-prom activities that crossed the G rating line. Yes. I was that much of a nerd in the olden days...

There was even a flowery arch with a photographer there to take prom pictures. I might send ours along when I get it if I don't look too goofy. Word around the prom was that if Jeff was a late '70s, early '80s pimp, I was his, uh, staff..........

Sadly, no one added, "No offense!" :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ho Ho Huh?

I would make a bad spy. If caught by the enemy, all it would take is one good dose of sleep deprivation and I'd either be so cranky they'd kill me or I'd sing like the proverbial canary about whatever my captors asked.

Which brings me to why I skipped a week in the PhotoShoot saga. You may have not noticed. You may have been relieved. You may wish I'd stick to the new pattern.

If you care why I lost the week, I'm blaming it on a serious case of not being able to focus on much of anything due to my own self-induced lack of zees.

It all started on the 23rd when an ice storm started creeping across the Midwest. My brother-in-law James noticed our flight to Portland, ME, was cancelled before we did. I'd just printed out the boarding passes and we were preparing to be chauffered to the airport when I noticed the airport didn't list our flight. About that time, James called and said, "Just get to New England, I'll come get you." Wouldn't that make a great country song?

While he didn't come with three wise men, he did bring Jen to Boston at 12:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve. They got us home around 3 a.m. and we had much fun right up until we departed, rising at 4 a.m. on New Year's Eve to get back home.

The flight home was uneventful. Team Ogden sacrificed to deliver us to and from the airport, so we didn't have to worry about getting our car out of hock, which was great. While Jeff was able to nap after, I couldn't relax and stayed mostly upright until about 1 a.m.

If you ever run into me and I've been up for 20 hours, just keep walking. Chances are I won't recognize you and even if we chat, I won't be coherent. I might be cranky. It's just not worth the risk. I could not have been pleasant to be around.

I went back to work on Friday, which was madness.

Saturday, we drove to Jasonville to see my family. While I've long known they'd much rather spend their time with Jeff than me, it was solidified in the heat of a discussion he was having with my brother, David. You have to know David to understand that when he referred to my beloved as, "you moronic bastard," that he said it with affection.

Red-neck affection to be sure. But affection reserved for only a few. Heck, David won't even tell stories to most people. He only really lets loose with those he loves. So Jeff is definitely in the family.

And yeah, that's right: Jeff's brother said, Just get to New England, I'll come get you," and my brother called Jeff a moronic bastard. It's hard to see how these "best of" quotes could be construed as to offer up equal amounts of affection and esteem. Unless you're a Bickel. So you'll just have to trust me.

Other highlights of the past two weeks:

Alison got great piles of gifts but in the midst of opening, she stopped, turned her back on her package mountain and scrounged under the tree for the gifts she'd bought for everyone at the school's Secret Santa shop. She watched while each of us opened it, explaining carefully what it was and why she'd picked it out. Brother-in-law David, for the second year running, got the most religiously based gift. I'm not sure if she thinks he's more of a heathen than the rest of us and needs the additional instruction or if she thinks he's more devout than us and would appreciate the scripture more.

Alison finally wised up to the fact that Peter and Jen are a couple and was singing the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song all week but she wouldn't do it in front of them. She sat on Peter's lap for a family photo, too, bringing back my days of heisting time with Jim, back when he was just dating Donna.

Jeff came through with shining colors on a wall-mounted jewelry closet. It's great. I love it. I do not love (as much) the Wii Fit that he bought which declared me both obese and 53 years old. I'm giving it one more chance if it arrives intact from shipping this week. I'm considering that we were trying it out on carpet rather than the hard floor it wants; I shorted myself an inch; and I went first in the balancing act it requires to factor in the age and weight.

The Wii creators must be genetically gifted skinny, tall people. They go so far as to make your little figure grow a fat little belly depending on how well you fare with their measuring stick. I hate them.

Maybe with a tile floor, my full height and an inkling of what the test is, I can improve my image. I'm not optimistic. I may just have to have my jaw wired shut.

Jeff also got Alison a Wii. It came from Santa. She's still a believer. It was not, however, among the items she asked the great elf for. She'd asked for a game (which she got the day after Christmas from Auntie Mary and a bat Webkinz, which came the day after that, and an LPS item that didn't come at all.)

On Christmas Day afternoon, Auntie Jen asked Ali how she'd fared with Santa. She dipped her little head and said, "I only asked for three things and he didn't bring any of them." She didn't cry, though, and concentrated on the other stuff he had brought.

And of course once she figured out what the Wii was, she commenced to killing everyone who played against her. When two of her three items came through she was over the top.

All in all, it was a good holiday. I'll eventually get the camera hooked back up and download everything. But right now I'm going to bed. The Japanese would think it's time.

Happy New Year!