Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good Morning Campers

We delivered Alison to Flat Rock River Camp this afternoon. She was excited. I was less so.

It's not that I don't want her to have a camp experience. It's not that I don't trust her to keep herself alive and with all her limbs. It's not even that I mistrust the flock of total strangers who are now in charge of her care.

I'm just going to miss her.

OK. I don't trust the teenagers and I'm worried that she'll come home so grown up that she won't need me anymore. And that she'll be in a horrible accident and get hurt. And that she won't fit in and thus be unhappy. And I AM going to miss her.

Agh. Parenthood sucks!!!!!

Yesterday afternoon, I came back from seeing Lyn and Amy to hear Ali calling, "Hey Mom, guess what I'm doing?"

I thought she was in her room, but she was in mine where I'd put her little suitcase. Armed with a pencil and the list of things to pack for camp as outlined by the camp brochure, she was busy packing her own suitcase. She'd checked off the first column when I walked in.

"Uh, Mom: What's a toiletry?" she asked. It was her first hint of hesitancy over the whole idea of camp. She relaxed immediately upon getting the definition.

This morning, she and I were awake before Jeff and she was anxious to wake him up for his "lesson." She's put him in charge of her 35+ virtual pets and she needed to show him how to log on to find them and then care for them. She'd told me that she was planning to ask him to be her pet sitter.

"Um. Hello. What's wrong with me as your pet sitter?" I'd asked.

"No offense, Mom, but you don't really take very good responsibility with your own pets," she said. "I think Dad will do a better job."

It's true. It was under duress that I had agreed to let her sign me up for my own Facebook pets. (I learned this morning from the NY Times that they guy who invented that silly game is the newest gazillionaire and Silicon Valley stud.) I find that amazing.

Jeff is finding it more responsibility than he'd originally thought. At first, he was thrilled that she'd entrusted her pets to him. Then, he found out just how much work it actually is -- and if he doesn't log on as he's promised, Alison won't earn a new frog and pig.

"How did I end up getting so ripped off?" he said. "I had no idea there was so much involved. This stinks."

She gave him his lesson, complete with a written set of instructions and advice. It took at least 30 minutes before she was comfortable with his level of understanding.

Today, she loaded herself down with her backpack, suitcase, pillow and sleeping bag and was struggling to move toward the front door. "It's time to go, isn't it?" she panted, getting about a foot a minute. You could barely see her head amid the baggage.

We relieved her of most of her burdens on the way out the door.

On the way to camp, we learned that there is a Flat Rock, Indiana, and a Flat Rock River Camp. They are not within the same county. Thank God Indiana is fairly compact and that Lisa Vielee is a veteran camper. She set us off in the southeasterly direction instead of due south as I'd planned. (Phew!)

At the camp, we figured everything out, Alison and Helen got top bunks together as they'd wanted and it was "Bye Mom! Bye Dad!" They were chatting from atop their new beds and needed nothing from either of us.

I handled it pretty well, I thought. No tears. No sobs. We went outside and were chatting with John and Lisa when a blur of red flashed down the hill beside us.

I think we'll never know if she was en route to the Trading Post for a bag of Skittles or if she really wanted one last hug (she has a touch of Eddie Haskell in her.) But there she was.

Jeff shouted, "Hey! What are you doing out here?"

She jumped on him, hugged him and choked out an, "I'll miss you." Then it was my turn. I don't think I let any of the tears actually fall, but she sure got me misty. If she was channeling Eddie Haskell, she was doing a good job.

We hugged it out and she went back up the hill, Jeff dragging me off to the car and telling me to stop looking back.

We wandered across Indiana a little bit as we meandered back toward the Flat Rock I thought we'd be heading to originally. It's very near Columbus, Indiana, and we'd planned to have dinner with Larry, Shirley and Lori.

It was a glorious day for a drive in the country, and the miles we logged helped clear my head a little bit. She's going to have a great week.

Jeff has plans that should make it a good week for us, as well. If I can just get used to the house being so quiet, I may even cooperate.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the Origin of Species

I picked Alison up this afternoon from her first weekend in a gated community. She'd been invited to an overnight in Carmel at the home of her friend Dominic's grandparents.

Both Jeff and I went to meet the family before we gave her over. Not so much because we didn't trust them, but because when she saw the huge pool in the backyard, the tennis court, the home theater and the playroom downstairs, we were sure she'd never want to come home. We went to case the place for when we had to break her out.

Somehow, I managed to extricate her without having to call in the National Guard. On the way home, I was treated to this:

"Hey, Mom. Did you know that God did NOT create the world?"

"Really? What makes you think so?" I ask, knowing she'd had doubts but I'd left her with a very Catholic set of grandparents. What had gone on at Casa Fabuloso?

"Well. Here's what really happened," she said. "First, there was just the atmosphere. That's all there was. It was dark and really cold. And then, the sun was formed and it's heat started to move some of the gasses around. God had nothing to do with it."

"Really. Well, how did the atmosphere and the sun get there?"

"Uh. Well," she said. "I don't know that. Let's just go back to the atmosphere. OK?"

"OK, but do you think, maybe God might have gotten the atmosphere started?"

"I don't think so. See, the sun was so hot, it heated everything up and the planets started forming. And then, here came life. God didn't do it."

"Wow. Where'd you learn all this? National Geographic?" I asked. She's got a subscription to National Geographic Kids and had kept each one. They're in stacks by her bed and in her bathroom. She spews random nature facts like that 8-pounded kid from Jerry Maguire.

"Well not just that. Science class. Scientists have discovered all of this stuff," she said.

"That's really interesting stuff," I said. "You sure know a lot of stuff. Now I'm not saying I have any of the answers, but what makes you so sure that the way God decided to create the world was by having the atmosphere there first and the the sun, just like the scientists say?"

"Well, where did God come from?"

"Um, I said I didn't have ALL the answers."

"This kind of makes my head hurt, Mom," she said. "Like, how did people come to the Earth? And animals?"

"I don't know Ali. It's pretty difficult stuff. No one really knows one way or the other about anything."

"You know what would help?"


"Time travel," said the Phinneas and Ferb fanatic. "If we had a time machine, we could go back and learn all kinds of things."

"That would simplify a few things," I allowed.

"Yeah," she said with a sigh. "That what we need for sure."

She's promised to look into inventing the time machine just as soon as she grows up. Her first project was going to be a tricked out car that the homeless could live in. It would have full kitchens, TV and all the stuff anyone would need. It would cost a dime to anyone who was poor. The rich, they'd have to pay millions.

But hey, a time machine would be cool, too.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summertime in Maine

If it weren't for winter, I would totally live in Maine. One day I'll get smart or rich enough to summer there. Until then, I'm happy to mooch lodging off my father-in-law and hang with Team Reed Down East.

We sacrificed our annual 4th of July fireworks extravaganza in favor of a visit back home. And it was great.

Even though we were at the beach, Alison continued to frown on boys who went about without shirts on.

"Mom, look at that!" she'd say, shaking her head, disgusted.

Reminded that it was a scorcher, she was not moved. "Put a shirt on," she'd hiss.

We all had a great time, though it was far too short. We did get to see Auntie Jen's engagment ring up close. We're still recovering from the glare -- it's gorgeous.

I'm crazy excited to be a bridesmaid, and Jen and I spent some time poring over bride magazines looking for dresses. She's going to be a beautiful bride and we get to go back to Maine next summer for the wedding! I see summertime in Maine become a tradition for TeamReed Indiana.

Alison is excited about going to Maine regardless of the weather. And while she's happy for Jen because she truly loves her, as well as Peter, her soon-to-be uncle, she doesn't really care about the wedding or the dresses.

She remains more concerned about state of people's undress. She was aghast at the airport when she saw the cover of Rolling Stone.

And the grocery back home today, she turned around the magazines that featured women in teeny bikinis, again shaking her head in disapproval at the display of nearly naked flesh.

Just her little public service, I guess.

Sofa Trauma

I moved to Indianapolis 17 years ago and, due to what turned out to be the anti-heist of the century, had to buy new furniture for my new apartment in my new city. In between my life in Evansville and Indy, I'd rented space in a storage facility in Linton, Indiana.

When I found my new place and went back to get my furniture, it had vanished. There wasn't a stick of anything in that little rental cube the nasty man brought me back to. As you might imagine, I was pretty ticked. Especially when the man absolved himself of any responsibility. I was young. I was poor. I hadn't yet started sleeping with a lawyer.

So I went to Indy, financed a whole new living room and kitchen and settled in. The couch and love seat were covered with a brilliant white fabric splashed with pastels. Totally impractical. But I loved it.

Then the rental place called. They'd looked one bin over and guess what was there: yeah. The whole thing. The guy was even less helpful when I went back to get the stuff, which I parceled out to whoever would take it.

The couch and love seat managed to stick with me for many years. But Jeff did not love it, and it was relegated to the basement. By the time Ali came along, the couch had a few stains from chocolate ice cream, and stains from when a couch cusion fell out of a truck onto super-hot asphalt. So if Ali drooled, dribbled or drew on it, I didn't really care. She was little when she started jumping on it.

But she kept growing and the couch turned into a trampoline and sometimes doubled as a dinner napkin. As my appreciation for the thing waned, it waxed for Alison. She loved that couch. Ratty and dirty and torn as it was. It's logged millions of snuggling miles, and Jeff and I may or may not have had a few celebrations ourselves over the past dozen years or so.

But all good things must end, and I've been warning Alison for a good year now that the couch was going to go. Each new tear or stain was just one more step to the scrap heap. Finally, last week, I got a great deal on a leather set -- couch, love seat and oversized ottoman. The couch, ultimately, wouldn't fit down the stairs, but I've since found it a good home, so all is well, and I really only wanted the two pieces anyway.

You can't fit all three pieces and still have room for the Wii, you see.

Pleased as I was, Alison was not. She cried. She pleaded. She slept on the old couch the last night we had it.

When she saw it in the front yard with a "free" sign on it, all the drama returned. She and her Ogden pals (they're equally unhappy with the couch's demise) conspired to steal the pillows so they'd have a momento of all their good times on it. Jeff made them put them back.

Then it rained. Hard. On the sofa. Somehow, no one wanted to cart it away.

Even soaked and more disgusting than it had been in the basement, Ali still didn't want it gone. Today, the trash men came and the couch was finally out of our lives. We pulled into our drive loaded down with groceries just as the trash truck pulled away.

She at least fought the tears back this time.

"Mom. I'm still steamin' mad at you about the couch," she'd informed me yesterday on the way home from camp with Team Ogden aboard.

"Yeah, honey. I know. But it was the best thing. Really. You'll see."

"I've decided what you'll need to do to get me to forgive you," she said.

"What's that?" I asked.

"If you put in a pool that's in the ground, with concrete around it, I'll forgive you," she said.

"Ah. I see," I said. "I guess I'll have to work on that."

Hannah took the time to remind me that she and Alex had discussed the matter. They've spent many years climbing, jumping and dripping on the old couch, too. She was 100 percent supportive of the in-ground pool idea.

"We'd come over way more often," she said.

Tempting as that prospect is, I think I'll let the new furniture grow on the kids. I'm pretty sure my forgiveness will arrive any day now. For free.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

There's more than corn in Indiana

We're off to Maine in the morning and excited to see Auntie Jen's ring up close and personal. We hope to canoe on the Adroscoggin River, I'll find a lobster and try not to exceed the Weight Watcher point tally too much.

Jeff's Father's Day present finally made it to our house last Saturday and he's been practicing ever since. I think he's hoping that James and David will pull out their corn hole set (a beauty handcrafted by Peter Chase with bags handmade by Jen) and let him practice some more.

Jeff's set was handcrafte by a northwest Indiana man who apparently makes the boards for the tournament crowd. Even with those credentials, his price was way better than anyone else we found, and we'll be happy to share details if anyone wants to give him some more business. He'd never made one with a Bosox design before, but we were really happy with his work.

In addition to the fancy corn hole set, pie arrived at our house this week.

It was made and delivered by our neighbor, Mark, with raspberries from his farm. Mark is a devout Christian, quiet, highly moralistic and a prolific gardener. He's a great person to have next door.

I'm still battling the bulge, and I'm not really a pie maker anyway. When Jeff got home, Ali broke the news to him that pie had arrived.

"I think Mark was doing community service," she said.


Happy Fourth of July! If you're blowing stuff up this weekend, do it safely.

Congrats to my friend Jonathan on his great news!!!! Seems that romance is in the air all along the Eastern Seaboard....