Monday, May 31, 2010


Jeff and Ali are locked in combat trying to decide the Championship of the MarioKart World. He's devised some sort of handicap for himself and she's giving him pointers, so I suspect the balance of power remains on her side of the Wii.

It's fun listening to them. Unless he's instructing her in his Captain Reed persona, he's really sweet with her.

I know it's Memorial Day weekend, not Father's Day, but for all the grief I give him, I can't help being really grateful for his "dad-ness."

His one failing (in his mind) is in not yet getting her to be as fascinated with the Red Sox -- or any sports game in progress -- as he is. I say yet because I'm sure he'll get her eventually. He's persistent, but she loves him that much and one of these days she'll watch a game with him out of mercy and get caught up in it.

He's a little annoyed with me because she and I sometimes share deep thoughts while we're in the bathroom. Generally, it's her using the facilities, and I get beckoned, but sometimes it's the other way around. Whoever is the visitor gets to perch on the tub and we'll talk through school trouble, movie or book reviews or just her question of the day.

This weekend, I was delivering clean towels and happened upon her. She asked if I'd stay, so of course I did, and she asked me, very seriously, if I was planning to have any more babies.

"Nope, not gonna happen," I said, bracing myself for her to either press for company or end with a plea for a cat if she can't have a baby sister or brother.

"Good!" she said, clearly relieved.

I was a little surprised at her vehemence, and learned that it was quite the subject at school among her classmates who had younger siblings. They apparently are all crybabies who demand too much attention and practically steal all the attention that should otherwise go to the classmates. Alison wants none of that.

"I like it with just you and me and Daddy," she said.

"Me, too," I said.

When I relayed the conversation to Jeff, he asked when this could have happened. He'd been around all weekend.

I told him it was in the bathroom. He reminded me that he doesn't like the closed-door girl talk, and he particularly thinks its weird that we have these talks with a toilet in the room. I'm sending him over to Amy Tokash so she can explain why it's a sacred sharing. Sure, there's a little urine involved, but you don't focus on that -- and it goes away pretty fast. It's the intimacy of the occasion.

He has the Wii and the DS and any video game that comes along. He can still toss her in the air in the pool. He is the tall, strong one who can fix anything. And if she ever does start to like team sports, I will be relegated to the snack wagon and laundry room post haste.

I'm keeping the bathroom chats.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zip it! Zip it Good

Alison has discovered something she enjoys even less than country music on road trips: audio books.

It was Sunday and we were on the way to Turkey Run State Park for a Brownie field trip. I'd gone to the library the day before to pick up a copy of the book we're reading -- She Got up off the Couch and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana -- but all that was left to me was the book on CD. (Yes, I'm woefully unprepared for Book Club.)

Oh, sure, I could have driven to another library but that would have been even less time to get through the damn thing before Thursday. And I was already behind the eight ball. Plus, I had 100 miles of driving -- each way -- and I thought I'd get through most of it on the road.

I knew nothing of the book and honestly, I've never even known of a pet named "Zippy," let along a girl named Zippy. But I trust my friend Amy McKune to pick a fun book. Or I should say I once trusted my friend Amy McKune to pick a fun book.

We hadn't gotten to Crawfordsville when I heard from the back seat: "Mo-om. What IS this stuff?" Turns out Alison has no love for Haven Kimmel, AKA Zippy and author of the book.

"That is the most boring thing I have ever heard in my entire life," said the kid with nine years under her belt -- nearly half of them including Religion class, courtesy of Christ the King School.

I have to admit that I wasn't mesmerized with Disk One. On the way to work, though, there was a fun altercation with a cow. And this afternoon, as we ran around greater Broad Ripple searching out fresh fruit and vegetables, both Alison and I were on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what happened when Zippy, anchor to an ill-fated whip of roller skaters trying out their skills on newly paved church parking lot, crashed and suffered multiple fractures and shattered bones.

Ali won't ever admit it that's she's a little curious about this Zippy girl, but I think she is. I may not get through all eight discs by the time Book Club rolls around, but I'll finish the book. I might even get the first book Ms. Kimmel wrote: A Girl Named Zippy.

I might have to withdraw my mistrust of Amy's choice, too.

The canoe trip turned out to be nearly as ill-fated as Zippy's roller skate game of Whip It. It's been so rainy, the creek was too high and flowing too fast. Which was fine except that flip flop sandals, while fine for canoeing, are not designed for hiking through a muddy state forest. About half the group were in flip flops.

I don't remember "the ladders" at Turkey Run, but believe you me, they're hell if you have a hint of a fear of heights. There are three sets of them bolted into an area cut by rock for at least a gazillion million years. It's a long drop down to the bottom where a stream gurgles up at you, double-dog daring you to get down to it.

I have no fear of heights, and I was not wearing flip flops. Ali has no fear of anything but spiders and Writing Wednesday, and she was itching to scramble down. All was well. The non-height fearing adults were helping down the girls willing to brave the ladders and cautioning them to mind the slippery mud on mossy rock.

And then, some random guy (who apparently couldn't hear our warnings) got tired of waiting and then got careless. I heard a whoosh, looked behind me as I helped another girl down the ladder and saw this guy fly through the air backward. He landed in the pool below on his back, about three inches from a rock that jutted up from the floor. It had to be at least a full story fall -- maybe more.

The forest stilled. No one even breathed. And then, red-faced but apparently unharmed, he sat up and looked to see if his cell phone had survived as well. The girls -- and most of the chaperones were seriously freaked out. We got the girls out and trudged back through the mud, hoping we'd find our way back to the suspension bridge across the creek that was too dangerous to float.

We all survived. It turned out to be a great lesson in how to roll with life's changes. And maybe that you should be careful on the edge of slippery ravines.

Zippy would have loved it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Watch this, Weight Watchers!

Ugh. I'm back to hating Weight Watchers. Although I'm kind of wondering if there was operator error on the scales today. We had a new person. Just when I'd learned the other lady's name, too.

Get this. All week I've been mostly good. I may have had a sip or two of an alcoholic libation here and there, but if it wasn't imaginary food or a fruit or a vegetable, it didn't pass my lips.

Whatever got through, however, felt obliged to linger on my hips.

I gained a whole frickin' pound!

Yeah, you say, "oh, what's a pound?" I'll tell you what a pound is. A pound is the first dip on that slippery slope back to Chubbyland. That's what a pound is.

A pound is where unwanted pets end up.
You tell people you're annoyed with to go pound sand.
You pound your enemies into the ground.

In for a penny, in for a pound? That cliche was coined by an 18th Century chubbette on a losing streak.

That's what a pound is.

Last Saturday, I shoveled nearly a full pick-up truck load of compost onto a garden and I either biked or walked (at a high incline) on the treadmill 4 days during the week. I worked for two hours in my own yard.

But I had those drinkie-poos. And Greek food one night. And Chinese last night. It's the damn Greeks and Chinese who've done me in. Or maybe it's me. Hell. I hate this crap.

I was so prepared to celebrate today. I'd gotten comfortably into a couple of size 8 skirts last week and I'd stuck to the exercise plan. I want to say that the working out is building muscles and not to freak out over a pound. But I know me. An ounce of rationalization is worth 10 pounds on my ass.

I'm not going to try on any single digit clothes until all my double digits fall to my ankles when I pull them up. Meanwhile, if you want me, I'll be at the gym...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Excess? What excess?

Alison is as high as any 9-year-old should ever be. From exquisitely hand-decorated sugar cookies (Aunt Margaret is a master)to gift cards and new Wii games and Webkinz and $2 rubber bracelets, she may have reached a new height in birthdays.

I thought after five hours in a water park with 9 of her friends, I thought she'd be tired. The Dairy Queen cake, silly string war and pinata refueled her, though. And when Jenna (who couldn't make the party due to previously scheduled soccer) arrived, it was as if she got yet another fuel injection.

They took in Furry Vengeance, giving it a nearly reel-by-reel, real-time review. "I bet I know what's going to happen next." "Oooh, that's stinky." "Awwww. How cute is that?" "He's mean...." Coming home, they needed more food and then settled in with Zubber (a huge disappointment; don't bother with this unless you're like Aunt Margaret and have both patience and talent.) before "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

At one point in the madness, Jeff looked at another parent, rolled his eyes and said, "This is just how my birthdays used to be."

In retrospect, maybe there was a smidge of excess. I didn't have birthdays like this either, but I'm enjoying them through Ali. And it was fun to spend time with some moms I don't normally hang out with.

And Ali? She lapped it up. But she's not unaware of or ungrateful for how good she has it. A couple of weeks ago, we were in the car on the way home from school and talking about time travel and how if you could be like Phineas and Ferb, you could change your whole life.

"I wouldn't change my life at all," declared Alison Reed (now this this was BEFORE her birthday blast.)

"Really?" I asked. "Your life is so good you wouldn't change anything?"

"Well. It would be nice to have all my grandparents," she said. "But that's all."

I love that girl.

And now, Excerpts from a weekend of fabulous, 9-year-old appropriate excess:

1. Ali was reviewing her new Phineas and Ferb soundtrack (thanks, Dad!) and discovered that some of the songs had a hint of country in them. She accepted it because, she said, "There's a little bit of rock mixed in."

"What makes you think it's country?" I asked.

"Well, I heard that harmonica and then I heard that quote: I ain't ever seen a country boy with tires on his truck this high," she said, clearly displeased.

Later on, there was a romantic little ditty.

"Oh, the agony," she moaned, rushing to fast-forward. "Those sweet words make me barf in my mouth a little bit."

2. In the rush of trying to transition from the pool to the arcade, Dominic Datillo paniced. "I can't find my pants!" he yelled repeatedly.

Jeff has proudly told everyone that a boy lost his pants at Ali's birthday party. I bet he'll sing a different tune in a decade...

3. Apprised that Jenna couldn't attend Alison's birthday party -- the first one she's ever misses -- the girls were temporarily bummed. But then they were thrilled that despite the next day being Mother's Day, Jenna could come late and have a sleepover. I'm not sure which one said it, but one said, "I like it better when it's just the two of us, anyway." "Me, too," said the other.

4. This morning, the girls wanted cookie dough for breakfast. I said, "Our diet was horrible yesterday. You can't have cookies today."

Jenna gasped. "Diet?"
Ali said, "Yeah, my mom is on a diet."

"Not my diet, you goobers. Yours! Yesterday, did either one of you even see a vegetable or a piece of fruit?"

"Well. I saw one," said Ali.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Squishy and soft

Ali and I were walking out of a birthday party and talking about going to Dairy Queen to pick out her birthday cake when another mom asked if we'd taken advantage of the DQ "Buy a blizzard get one for a quarter" sale last week.

I said no, I was trying to stay away from food like that right now. She laughed, said she couldn't resist. She was tall, thin and pretty, yet I didn't hate her on sight. She was just too nice. So we chatted a bit and I mentioned that Alison and Jeff had her same metabolism.

Alison put her arm around me and asked if I minded that she and her dad were tall and thin. "Of course not, silly," I said, and hugged her back.

"Good," she said. "'Cause you know when I lay on Dad when we're watching TV? He's kind of bony. You're squishy. You're soft. Kinda like my own special pillow."

I appreciate the sentiment, yet feel the need to share than I'm approaching 25 lbs of less squishy. The conversation did make me wonder just how un-squishy I really need to be...

In other news, I may have met my endorphins this morning. I'm not exactly sure, having never met them before. But if they weren't the real thing, I think they may have been cousins.

It was about 75 minutes in on what turned out to be a 90 minute bike ride on the Monon Trail. I was coming back down from the 86th Street intersection and had to speed up to get around a walker in time to avoid a coming biker. I was tired, but going to fast to just brake and wait, and I swear I got this sort of mini-high.

So I sped up some more and felt even better. It was weird. I almost liked the sensation of the sweat dripping down my chin. The lactic acid burning a trail from my calves to my upper thighs suddenly took on the feel of those hot rocks the pedicurist uses sometimes. I could breathe. I was totally caught up in the moment, whizzing along with the spring breeze in my face and the blur of greenery all around me.

But then I had a cluster of walkers on both sides, had to brake hard and nearly flipped myself over the handle bars. The endorphins (or whatever they were) fled and I was back to chugging along, feeling the burn and wiping away sweat before it blinded me. Still. It was a happy chug.

When I got home, I spent an hour trying to hack back the jungle in my back yard. I discovered that the neighbor's fence that divides our properties has a little jog in in. It gives the yard a little more character. Or will if I ever clear the piles of overgrown shrubbery debris that now litters the ground. And if viney overgrowth wasn't actually what was holding it up.

I'm guessing that tomorrow will find me immobile from arms to feet. By then I might have some feeling back in my posterior. Of course that feeling will be pain. Do endorphins like post-workout pain? Maybe they'll come back and visit.

The rain left some awesome mud puddles, so after dinner, Jeff suggested a bike ride so Ali could get the most out of her Sunday bath.

I declined to accompany them, but did manage to snag a quick picture of the post-puddle jumpers.