Friday, November 27, 2009

Nachos for Thanksgiving

I was seriously hoping to have nachos for our Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday. It seemed so easy. We all love nachos. We make them as healthy as they can possibly be (not very)and there's like no mess.

It's the first year that we stayed home, just the three of us, and I was really excited about the low-key, no travel, no make-up opportunities. Thanksgiving has always gone to my side of the family, and we have a starch fest, generally. Mashed potatoes with noodles on top, Donna's yeast rolls, sweet potatoes, and turkey, of course.

Alison doesn't like turkey. And she prefers her mashed potatoes to be covered in Heinz chicken gravy. She doesn't eat chocolate, any kind of pie or cake or pudding. I'm sure that will serve her well later, but it used to bother me at family feasts. I've learned that she'll find what she'll eat and be able to make it through the holiday just fine, but it amazes me.

So nachos seemed like a great idea.

But then Karin and the kids came over Thanksgiving morning and I ended up at Kroger with her. She was picking up last minute things for her family's traditional feast. She uses fresh cranberries to make some sort of gelatinous goo -- they all love it.

I bought cranraisins thinking I might make stuffing or salad. the cranberry thing just sounded dangerous. Apparently you know they're ready when they explode.

I was inspired, but not stupid. I can blow up a stove all on my own doing regular stuff. I didn't need to introduce exploding fruit.

So there I was: ready to put on an apron and make a real Thanksgiving dinner for my family. Did you know Kroger only sells turkeys are frozen rock solid and need 24 hours to defrost? That's not really helpful to last-minute chefs. It was 9:30 before she came over, and we didn't get home until after 10.

So I picked up some turkey breasts, some gravy, an enormous sweet potato, and some green beans. Later, I decided we needed a pumpkin roll and Ali and I drove all over Broad Ripple looking for one.

There were no pumpkin rolls anywhere on Thanksgiving morning, but we did find an unfrozen turkey breast at Marsh. Ali said she'd prefer KFC, but she settled for March fried chicken.

Jeff loves tiramisu, so we bought that in lieu of pumpkin roll or pie. (No, I never thought about trying to make a pie or pumpkin roll. The turkey was intimidating enough.)

It all seemed to come together; nothing blew up, and I forgot about the cranraisins. We had garlic bread instead of Donna's rolls. I even set the table with our fancy Fiesta plates.

Jeff and Ali cleaned up. I hit the couch. And not 10 minutes later, I started hearing funky noises coming from my stomach. I was sick all night. Freezing cold. Sweating bullets. It has not been my finest hour.

Ali and Jeff are fine, so it appears that I poisoned only me.

I knew we should have had nachos.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Hunt

As I recovered from too much rum at Bunco last night, Alison entertained herself this morning. She can running into my bedroom telling me that she had a grand plan for when Jeff came home from basketball.

"Last week he said his feet hurt and his back hurt, so I have something to take his mind off of all that," she said.

All on her own, she'd come up with a scavenger hunt that featured a bunch of dimes from her money collection. Jeff collects dimes like she collects every other kind of currency she gets her mitts on.

She'd drawn a map of the house and hidden dimes and scraps of paper with clues underneath different things in various rooms. Her spelling suffered a bit as she worked to be sly and poetic, but she had a great time planning it all out. I got to pretent to be Jeff for a dry run.

She was crazy excited waiting for him to get home.

With help from Alison -- who tends to give away secrets more than she keeps them, he got through each of the eight steps. His reward: a cookie we'd made earlier in her Easy Bake Oven.

1. Go to the Work Room (my office)
2. To find some more treasures look behind, a special place that tells time. (under the clock in our bedroom.)
3. You've found the dimes I hid, I see. Now look where you would freeze. (refrigerator -- she's a tricky one)
4. You have looked in the right place. Now look ware I like to race. (living room)
5. I have found you very smart. Now look were I do wall art. (her bathroom)
6. Congrats! You've got the clue. Now look where I'm stuck like glue. (bean bag chair in front of the television)
7. You have found the place. Now look ware I decorate. (her bedroom)
8. Congrajulations you've found them all. But now find the best one of all Hint: it smell like cake (cookie next to the Easy Bake Oven)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The List

I've been telling Alison, "That sounds like it should be on your Christmas list!" everytime she asks for something new lately.

So, voila: The List arrived today. In recent years, I've had to supplement her list, or prod her to add to it. One year all she wanted was "A Bug's Life" DVD, and it was the highlight of the holiday.

This year, she has 23 must-have items, she informed me. One of them is a Pokemon: Platinum Arceus.

"Is that a stuffed animal?" I asked.

"No it's a card," she said, looking at me like I'd suddenly turned stupid. "There are only one or two of them in all of existence."

I looked at her. "Hmmm. I don't know if I'm going to be able to swing that one if it's that rare."

She chuckled and I'm sure thought to herself, "Oh, you silly mom."

"That's OK. I'm asking for that one from Santa," she said, confidently moving through the rest of her list.

I mumbled something about how Santa might not be able to fulfill all of her wishes.

"Well, I might ask for some things from my family," she said, still reciting.

And, she pointed out that a few of her requests aren't really for her at all. They're for her lonely stuffed animals. Apparently some of her Webkinz have paired off -- and two of them have even produced an offspring.

But her tiger, Stripes, and her gecko, Luky, are unmatched and in need of a friend, she said.

"Although I have noticed that some people don't seem to need a husband or a wife," she said. "Maybe Luky would be ok alone."

Strips, apparently, though is needy. He gets scared at night when she goes to sleep and she thinks he might need two lady friends to keep him happy.

I think she's got life pretty much figured out.

I share this list with you only because I love to see her spelling when she doesn't have to make it correct.

Wish me good luck with the shopping gods.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Patience of a Saint? Me? Not so much.

Even at my advanced age, I'm probably too old to be a curmudgeon. I don't even know if girls can be curmudgeons. It seems a male kind of category to me, but I don't want to be a crone or a hag. So I think I want to be curmudgeon.

Or maybe I'm just cranky lately.

I took Alison to a birthday party today at Chuck E. Cheese. I don't mind the place; it's actually kind of fun, and the amount of fun it brings Ali makes it all worth it.

But I didn't stick around for the 2-hour treat the oversized rodent can bring. Instead I went for a quick shopping spree. I didn't see any dresses I liked, and I didn't find any boots that fit, so I went to Half-Priced Books. Size doesn't really matter there, and everything's a bargain.

I found a bunch of paperbacks and still had an hour to kill. Instead of parking myself at Borders, I just went back to the Mouse House, parked with the windows down, unbuckled, leaned back and grabbed a book.

Before I was two chapters in, the occupants of the car next door came back. The kid wanted to extend the day's events with a jaunt over to the movie theater. Her companions were loudly annoyed. To the extent that I wanted to put the windows back up. They didn't notice me but set about berating the kid, who yeah, was a bit of a brat, but geeze; who hasn't wanted a little bit more of paradise? I wondered how they treated each other at home behind closed doors.

Finally, they left; the elder two still talking at high volume about the lack of gratitude their shorter friend was displaying. "After she done spent $40 on you, you want to go to the movies, too?! Shii-iit. You didn't even say thank you yet. You'd better be saying thank you. blah, blah, blah..."

I settled back into my book only to be interrupted again. This time by a screamer. The kid did not want to go home. And she didn't care who knew. Just seemed to think if she wailed loud enough someone one would take pity on her and save her from the mean parents she'd been cursed with.

A little before the appointed hour, I went in to get Ali. I was afraid of who would be parking next, and I didn't know if I'd be able to hold myself back from smacking the kids or the parents, or both.

Happily, Alison was wrapping it up, didn't whine for quarters or tokens or cry that she'd hand't gotten enough plastic crap for her two hours of video gaming. She even used her good manners to thank her host before we left. Maybe some of her St. Elizabeth Seton acting from school sunk in deeper than I'd thought.

She'd spent the weekend playing with the Ogdens and a new little friend who we've just met. Her father lives across the street and she's informed us that she'll be coming over every Wednesday and every other weekend.

She's sweet and about a year younger than Ali. At one point Alison asked about her parents.

"Are they divorced?

"Well, they never actually got around to getting married," I think I heard her say.

"Oh. Well. How does that work?" she asked.

I cringed, thinking we were going to have to have that sex talk early after all.

"Like, do you have to pack up all your stuff every time you move from one house to the other?" she asked.

"Yeah. Kind of," Maddie replied.

"Huh. I think they could make it easier. What if you had two sets of all your stuff at both places and you didn't have to pack so much stuff around."

"Yeah. Maybe we'll do that," Maddie said.

I'm not sure how long the parents have been apart. Seems like either it's recent or Maddie's presence in her father's life is new. I don't really want to know too much. I have enough friends and can't keep up well enough with them to qualify as a good friend half the time.

Plus, two of the closest neighbors are already fueding, and one of them is mad at Ricky (Maddie's dad) whose girlfriend was mowing the yard last week around 9 p.m. Debbie (the other neighbor) was pacing the edge of her lawn, glaring through the darkness at the woman (Chris)as she went back and forth across the lawn. I don't know if Debbie ever approached Chris or if she thought glaring would short out the mower. She tried to drag me into her outrage of this after-hours activity but I resisted.

There's an adults-only neighborhood party sometime this month. We haven't RSVP'd. I'm really thinking that I'd rather stay in.

Does that make me a curmudgeon? A recluse? Or smartly discriminating?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Like Cheese on Pizza

Anyone who knows me knows that I have no artistic ability. But check out this pumpkin Ali and I concocted. She was the director. She found an example in a magazine and asked if "we" could make it.

"We" really means me, although she did help a little. If you don't see the magazine layout, you might be a tiny bit impressed.

We used other magazine art to make brides of Frankenstein, skeleton cupcakes and some other treats. We're getting better at them, but we're no where close to the magazine pictures. I think those people have special tools. Or talent, maybe.

We were lucky enough to convince Gary to come visit us for Fall Break and Halloween, and it really livened up the holiday.

He got into the spirit and was a great pirate/escort for a gaggle of trick-or-treaters. In true pirate form, he set a bad example for them, though, when he and his witchy friend, aka Lynn Sinex, fled the group before they'd tired of begging for candy. Witch and pirate claimed they were cold, but some of us noticed they made a detour to the bar on their way to the fire...

While everyone who either saw him again or met him for the first time thought he was a hoot, here was his best review:

"He was great! If I were single, I'd be on him like cheese on pizza."

But Gary beat a quick path out of town and is home safe in Maine this evening.

In other news of the love lorn, Alison is apparently having a relationship problem, though she appears to be oblivious to it.

Last week, her new friend Anna informed her that they were best friends. Ali quickly informed her that Jenna is her first best friend. If you ask her, though, Alex Ogden is her next best friend. Jenna will forever edge everyone out because they were friends long before either actually emerged from the womb.

But Saturday, Jenna was tricking her own neighborhood and Ali had Dominic (her friend from school who declares his love for her early, often and loudly, much to her dismay) and Alex.

Dominic was insisting -- in front of Alex -- that Alison declare her intentions. Dominic was confident that Alison liked him more than Alex.

Alison, frustrated with the situation, said, "Look. I like you both equally."

So Dominic's unrequited love went unqueched. But Alex got more than a little bit ticked off.

Alex and Alison have no romatic interest in each other. They've been buddies since preschool and had Karin and I known each other and Alex was a few months older, he might have given Jenna a run for her money. But they've never had a love connection.

Alex, in fact, is in love with another little girl and has been busy planning their wedding for a couple of years now. But given his long tenure attached to Ali's hip, he expected to come out ahead of "that clown," according to his mother.

Alison has a small clue, but not a real one. "I think Alex is mad at me, Mom," she said in the car when I picked her up after she was at his house for a couple hours today. "I think he's made that I didn't let him put a hole in the middle of the leaf pile."

"Well, I think he'll get over that," I said, only momentarily thinking about telling her what his real issue is.

"Yeah, probably," she said, pulling out a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and settling in.

In other news, my meniscus is apparently what's ailing my right knee. It still hurts, but it seems to be getting better -- especially if I just sit around and don't walk much...:) If it's not better in two week, my doctor says we'll go down the route of Xray, MRI.

I'm hoping to avoid both of those things. Which means the keister isn't going to be shrinking anytime soon...:(

My friend, Jackie, is on the prowl trying to determine what kind of surgery and drugs she can talk me into. It's a good thing it's a virtual war. She'd be able to overpower me right now and drag me to the doctor...