Monday, February 23, 2009

PhotoShoot Addendum

As I was posting the Photoshoot and looking for an old ReedRight document for my new accountant last night, the nearly healthy Jeff Reed was helping Alison with her bath and getting her ready for bed.

It was clear that he'd been missing her a little -- being shunned is no fun even if it does make sense.

And while he may be loud sometimes, he and Alison are as close as father and daughter can be. (If she loved baseball like he loves baseball, I'd just be the maid...)

So I emerge from what used to be my home office and is now mostly a spare room, I see the two of them, snuggled up on the couch watching cartoons. I plop down beside them, worming my way into a corner of the couch.

Jeff looked at me like I'd invaded Normandy.

"Hey! We're snuggling here," he said.

Alison kept her eyes glued to the TV but didn't budge from his side.

"Yeah, so? I'm joining you."

"Uh, you're cuttin' in to my "dad" time, and I haven't had much of that lately," he mumbled.

I smiled, thinking it was sweet and happy that he'd been so attentive to her. But I stayed put. Not that it mattered. Two two 'toon lovers weren't to be separated.

Bedtime rolled around and I got ready to go upstairs. But no! That was apparently "his" time, too.

If I'm lucky, I'll get to fix her breakfast this morning....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Funniest line of the weekend

My colleague and friend, Jackie Myers Thompson, and I have been going back and forth about a work trip that's been more on-again/off-again than most. (This one may set the all-time record frustration factor.) It's been a little maddening for both of us.

After the last go 'round when it seemed the trip was going to be rescheduled, she asked me about what to do with a potential media stop.

And here I quote," Do you think I should wait until you confirm that? Because I can't cancel and then try and reseurrect it after that."

Now, both Jackie and I are alleged PR professionals and spelling is one of the requisites of the trade. She was pretty sure she'd gotten "resurrect" wrong.

But here's the best excuse ever given for misspelling a word -- and just in time as stores start decorating for Easter:

"I can't spell reseurrect...I'm a Jew."

Lego Land Revisited

Jeff's been sick as a dog with what I'm diagnosing as delayed malaria. It might also be the 'flu.

Whatever it is, it's been awful. Ali and I essentially shunned him once it set in, and so far we've avoided contracting whatever it was he got.

He was upright for parts of the weekend -- dinner with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Larry (payoff for a bet over who would become president) and dinner tonight at a Christ the King fundraiser for the 8th grade class. He skipped basketball this morning (the real evidence that he was actually sick) and managed to walk with us to the newspaper stand.

But it's not been pretty most of the week.

Alison rediscovered her chest of Legos yesterday, just as Jeff was coming out of his delirium. I'd kept her away from him, but she'd slipped downstairs. I'm not sure if she was missing him or she was missing the Wii, but she ventured into the cootie lair on her own.

The Lego chest has sat untapped for at least a year, maybe more. But she dragged it out and Jeff laid on the couch instructing her a little bit and building a bit himself. They built a playground, with a rock wall, monkey bars and a balance beam. It was pretty impressive.

Today, we all got into the act, each building our own Lego house.

Jeff's was a pigloo (What do you call a house built by a hog who lives in the Antarctic?)

Alison's was a square fort-like structure with an open roof so she could show off the furniture she made.

Mine had beautiful front and back entry-ways but I had some structural issues when I tried to put up the roof. And I ran out of black and white Legos, which kind of put a hitch in my design plans.

We had much discussion over how we need Uncle James to come in as a consultant, but the phones were too far away to snag. We'll have to settle for his review of our work.

We went for the walk after I finally got my roof to stay on.

On the way home, Jeff told us both that he needed to apologize for something he'd done on Saturday.

"Remember when I kind of yelled at you Ali, when you were doing somersaults in the living room and I had been downstairs? You were right on top of me and I wasn't feeling very well and I kind of yelled at you instead of asking you nicely to stop doing that," he said.

"It's OK, Dad," said the young gymnast.
"But, you know, we're kind of used to it. No offence, but you're kind of loud most of the time. You kind of yell a lot"

I'm not sure he heard exactly what she said after the "It's OK."

I was trying hard not to laugh out loud. Jeff is a loud talker -- especially when he's not got his hearing aids in. And he was pretty cranky. But when the malaria's got you, it's hard to be nice.

We'll forgive him this once...

Monday, February 16, 2009

I knew sleep was important!

Check this out!

According to Healthy Living I'm an idiot for dragging my chubby butt out of bed at the crack of dawn.

See No. 14. Life is not fair.

It's good to be with Mrs. Reed

If you're under the age of 10 and you have limited wants and needs, there's not really many better places to be than with Mrs. Reed.

Case in point: It's Presidents' Day so the local schools are closed down. Alison and Alex are hanging out with me today.

Officially, I'm in charge of them. Unofficially, Alex is providing childcare while I check in at work, do a little recreational reading and recover from weekend yard work.

They beat a path downstairs for Club Penguin when he first arrived. They've checked in on SpongeBob and their Webkinz pals. While I have a couple movies, I think Wii Sports is next in the line-up.

Around 11, Alex was hungry so I let them have some gogurt but then said we'd have lunch and they needed to think about what they wanted. I was planning on marching their little couch potato butts to McDonald's. It's a little cold but the restaurant is only a mile away and the sun is out.

But we couldn't agree on lunch. So we stopped in (via the Honda) at McDonald's, Arby's and Taco Bell. I'm making them eat fruit before they get to even think about dessert.

We may hit the park and/or library later. We would have lunch with the brass penguins downstairs from the library -- They're Glendale Mall institutions and kids get to climb and slide all over them until they stand taller than the sculpted trio -- but they claimed they were having stomach issues. So we ended up driving home, me in the front with the heat blasting, them in the back with the windows down sucking up frigid fresh air like queasy Cocker Spaniels.

All traces of illness vanished once we hit my driveway. It's magic like that. They grabbed their bags of booty and headed downstairs again.

They sound like they've finished lunch now. I'll have to check the fruit and milk supply.

Judging from the latest Alison outcry: "Alex, peee--u! That's just nasty!" Alex just farted.

He doesn't care. He's playing Wii tennis. Alison is coaching him. That counts as exercise, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book recommendations

when I'm feeling stressed, I turn to two things: yard work and reading fiction. It's too cold to go outside, so I've been a reading fiend lately. I also read at the gym -- it's the only reason I can last 45 minutes on a treadmill, bike or elliptical trainer.

Some say it's cheating to read while you work out; I say I won't work out if I can't read.

I thought I'd share a bit of my library with you in case you need a literary diversion from whatever ails your psyche.

I've left Stephenie Myers behind only because she hasn't published another Twilight book and I can't re-read them again for a while. I refuse to buy into the crazy movie hype and buy the silly Twilight-related things out on the market now. I like the books, but I don't need Twilight perfume, the director's handbook or the book about the making of the movie. Argh! Please. Just finish Midnight Sun already!!!

To occupy my thirst for silly fiction while Ms. Myers neglects my needs, I upgraded the sex quotient and stayed in the vampire genre for Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. I'm waiting on the next book in it, too.

Also deep into sexually viable creatures of the night is Mary Janice Davidson. She's got a fun set of characters that includes some seriously horny vampires and werewolves who spend their time solving crime and sliding in and out of each other's, um, beds. Tracy Wiseman turned me on to this author, and I figure if a super smart financial whiz/legal eagle like Tracy can indulge in this, then I can, too.

I found another series from Ms. Harris recently, though, and I think I like it even better than the Sookie saga. No vampires, but the main character is a woman who was struck by lightning and as a result can tell how people died. It's got some great plot twists. And yes, I'm waiting on the next one in that series, too.

Out of vampire options and thinking that I need to get out of that genre, I gave in and finally tried Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I'm hoping to finish her series in time for something new from the others, although I'm getting a little annoyed that Stephanie Plum doesn't seem to be getting any better at bounty hunting. You'd think by Book 11, she'd have some skills...

I read Water for Elephants (and a bunch of the aforementioned books) on vacation. It's a great read. It almost cured my malaria.

Oh, and Jeff surprised me with an early anniversary gift for the trip: the latest book from Carole O'Connell, who I found through a friend years ago. I'm still haunted by her Kathy Mallory character and this new one, Bone by Bone, introduces another, equally compelling story.

Thanks to a great husband with a prolific online shopping life, I have all of her books, signed by the author on the inside title page. I LOVE them, but they'll really stay with you and make you worried what will happen to your little girl should you die too soon.

It's cold here, today, so I might have to slip back into reading. But it's also Valentine's Day, which means it's my anniversary and I'll be focusing at least a little bit on that tall guy who lives here. We mostly celebrated in the D.R. (before the malaria struck) but I see champagne in my future.

Maybe I'll do a little research and find some vampire tricks for later on.... Happy Valentine's Day!

Losing my Religion (w/apologies to R.E.M)

Alison is in trouble in Religion class again.

She got a conduct cut a while ago for reading a book of a non-religious nature while she was supposed to be paying attention to her teacher. I didn't take that too seriously -- my sister Donna and I (and probably all of us) were notorious for reading all kinds of trashy novels in church, in school and whenever we had the chance.

But yesterday, Ali brought home her second assignment in a row with a less-than-stellar grade from her Religion class. Just like last week, it sat there in her stack of work, trying to hide itself among the 100 percents for math and spot-on spelling tests.

The girl loves math, which is no mean feat given her gene pool. But as my childhood preachers used to say, "That girl's done backslid." I'm sure they'd slip into high gear to save her soul, urging me to spare the rod and spoil the child or something like that.

We had a chat:

"What's going on here with this Religion homework," I say, placing the offending grade on the bed beside her.

"Mom," she sighed, very seriously, looking me straight in the eye. "I just hate Religion."

In my head, I'm thinking, "Who can blame you?" Out loud, I say, "Honey, it's just another subject like math or social studies. You have to pay attention and do the work. Should we put this paper on the refrigerator so we will remember to pay attention?"

Horrified, she started to cry. Like most houses where short people live, our refrigerator is where we show off her report cards, drawings and other positive stuff.

"But Mom, Religion is just flat-out, dang boring," she protested.

In my head, I'm thinking, "And math isn't?" But out loud, I say: "Ali, there are lots of things in life that you won't want to do. Your lesson here is that you have to pay attention to Religion just like math or social studies or spelling. How many times a week do you have Religion any way? Once?" (She goes to church on Wednesdays, so it seemed like the class could be that day, too.)

"No! It's every stinkin' day!" she said. Fat tears leaked out at an alarming rate. Said she wanted to go to a school next year where you don't have danged Religion every dang day. "All they do is talk, talk, talk, talk, talk about saints and dead people!"

I held pretty firm, but was wondering if the catholic schools let up a bit after 2nd grade, where it all leads up to confirmation in the spring. I like our school, and she does, too, for the most part.

We're sending her to Christ the King, at least a little bit, because we don't attend a church (I just don't trust organized religion, but I'm rejecting based on 16 years of steady attendance at the Coalmont Church of God.) I want Alison to have a good basis from which to judge. She can then reject or accept based on that. Academically, the school is great. It's safe, it's close, and they focus on good behavior.

And Riddle me this Batman: She hates Religion class, right? But this week we had some sad news: our principal's wife died unexpectedly. We were talking about it, and Alison got really teary about it and feels just terrible for Mr. Stewart and wants to go to the service/visitation to try to make him feel better.

She was the only one in her class who thought to give him a Valentine yesterday. "I share my birthday treats with him; why not give him a Valentine?" she reasoned.

In a WWJD context, I think Alison Reed's soul is in fine shape, but I'm not sure I'm worthy to judge.

Do they let Religion flunk-outs into Heaven?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back Home again in Indiana

Jeff and I got back from the wilds of the Dominican Republic late Saturday. We'd set off on Tuesday right as Indiana got hit with another round of snow. For at least an hour into the trip, the left engine was encased in snow and ice.

Assisted by a Bloody Mary and a good book, I forced myself to stop looking at it until the sky outside had shifted from cotton swab white to cotton candy blue.

The trip was great fun right up until I got malaria. That's what I'm calling it anyway. Malaria sounds better than what it really was. We had 2 1/2 days of great sun before my malaria swept in with the rain and wind. None of it ever let up for long after that.

Jeff was a great sport and despite my urging him to go have fun without me, he took on the role of the good doctor. I suspect it's easier to be self-serving when room service is 24/7, paradise is chilly, windy and wet and you're inside with good books and movies. But still. He could have been at one of the many bars.

We'd left Alison with Team Ogden, who'd whisked her away Monday night because our flight was so early. Hoping to keep the chance of homesickness to a minimum, we'd not called her at all during the trip. By the time was touched down, I was more than ready to hear her voice.

As Karin & Crew came in to get her that Monday, Ali had her first chill from cold feet. She mumbled something like, "I'm not really comfortable having new parents."

I'd been fretting about plane crashes and the potential for her to actually need new parents, so this wasn't really what I needed to hear. It was only momentary discomfort, though, and the trio were off in a flash and a few squeals.

I'd checked on her via email and knew she was doing just fine. But I called as soon as our wheels hit the tarmac in Indy. I'd torn her away from SpongeBob, but she seemed pretty happy to hear we were back in town. She was packed and ready to go.

When we got there, she locked onto me like a chimpanzee and all was well with my world.

We heard stories of Ali and the Ogdens stopping by our house to find Annie and her boyfriend here. Well, more precisely, they found Derrick. "The dude wasn't even wearing a shirt!" Ali and Hannah reported. Hannah -- all of 9 years old -- further reported on Derrick's 6-pack abs.

Karin fled the scene and called Annie to assure her they wouldn't be visiting anymore that night.

Ali helped Jeff make dinner tonight: Grammie Reed's special chili with an allowance of cornbread for me and the standard garlic bread for Ali and Jeff. Chef Alison mixed up and baked the cornbread "golden brown on the outside and treasure chest yellow on the inside."

The chili, she later pronounced, "is a little spicy on the back of my tongue" but otherwise is good to go.

It's good to be home.

Um, about me and that bull: We had the Angie's List Stan's Club Beach Olympics. One of the events was bull riding. It wasn't pretty, but I won.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Damn technology!

OK, so it's really MY fault I have no pictures of a great day sledding down the Sledding Hill at Fort Ben. (Yeah, they really call it that.) It's a huge hill on what used to be a military post -- one that Jeff worked at for a while.

It's good that it was so big because there were a ton of people out there. Ali, Alex, Hannah, Karin and I braved the elements for a little more than an hour. It's been horribly cold here, and we got a foot of snow -- that's Maine worthy -- last week. Today, it was finally warm enough that you could be outside without turning into an instant popsicle.

The sun was out, and there was so much activity on the hill that the sleds had worn grassy places -- at one point with three on a sled, the kids went so fast, they popped over a hill and into a grassy area and got a January mud bath. I can't remember the last time I sloshed through mud in January.

We were all muddy and wet by the time we straggled out. It was a bunch of fun.

The weekend has a sad tinge to it. I'm feeling very mortal now just a day away from flying away from Alison for almost an entire week. We've never gone away this long together without her. I'm hanging on to her so much that I'm creeping myself out.

She, on the other hand, and the Ogden kids wish their 6-day sleep over could begin today.

"But why not?" Hannah asked as we trudged up the hill.

"Because I want to hang out with her for a while before we leave," I said.

"Oh," said Hannah. "I can accept that."

They're very funny and she's going to have a blast with them. I'm going to have to find something very special for our friends Karin and Dale -- they're going to need some R&R of their own as soon as we get back.

I've got to go retrieve my camera from the car. At the hill, I discovered I'd left it uncharged. And now I remember that I left it in the car.

Have a great week!