Sunday, August 29, 2010

An apple a day...

Biking home from Taco Bell the other day, Alison informed me that she was kind of glad that Eve ate the apple.

"Oh really? Why is that?" I asked my daughter, whose last diatribe about Eden was to cast doubt on the whole theory of Creation.

"Well, after she ate the apple, they put some clothes on," she said.

We're having a quiet weekend. Alison's getting a cold and we're trying to stave off the respiratory issues that usually follow her sore throats and coughing. She slipped into bed with me Friday night before Jeff got there and didn't get out until the next evening.

She spent all day in just her pj pants. (It's OK to go shirtless as long as you're INdoors in your OWN house: Alison Reed Rule #1).

I checked in with her in between chores, reading a book while she watched TV. At one point, she seemed to be enjoying herself and dreaming that maybe she'd be sick on Monday and get to miss school. So I brought her homework in. She claimed sitting up to copy her spelling gave her a headache.

She decided a little later that she didn't really like being sick all that much, afterall. I know she's really sick, though, because she hasn't asked for ice cream or candy, and she IS coughing and a little warm. Ramen usually shoots her into recovery, but it hasn't worked its magic yet.

She perked up when Kirsten and Duane stopped by to replenish her gum ball collection. She put on a shirt when she knew they were coming over and she might be seen.

She's still not sleeping well. She slept downstairs last night, and Jeff ended up with her after a midnight incident. So far this morning she's made it to the downstairs couch and still hasn't eaten.

I haven't yet informed her that she'll be finishing her homework. Or taking a walk.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Club -- critique No. 1

I didn't make it to Book Club Friday night. I know you all wanted to hear what I had to say, though, so here it is. I might have to do this every month...

Book Club Book:
The late, lamented molly marx
a novel
Sally Kosklow

This is a Target Club Pick billed as "Delightful, comic, romantic, a page-turner from the word go." It is none of these things. Target should stick to retail therapy, stop supporting homophobes and give us better, cheaper books. If your book club is considering this production, you'll be wise to reconsider...

My assessment: Blech. Not even worth checking out at the library.

I do not lament the late Molly Marx. Frankly, I'm glad she's gone, think she could have gone sooner and I wish she'd shut up about her self-absorbed, selfish, utterly wasted life.

Her sister, Lucy, now she's a girl I might want to spend some time with. I cheered her kidnapping attempt and was pissed that the parents never seemed to support her (or even like her) as much as they did her sister.

Or Brie -- now there's a best friend anyone would be lucky to have. (Although I should point out here that her given name is Sabrina; therefore her nickname should be Bri.) I liked it that she tried the other team but send Isadora packing. I loved it that she (and Lucy)gave it to Molly straight.

Molly deserved neither of them -- nor did she deserve Luke. What she did deserve was Barry. If you ask me, Sally Koslow has a lot to answer for -- her nickname spelling the least of it.

I suffered through this terrible piece of fiction because I felt like I owed it to Book Club to finish. It was supposed to be a fun and witty read.

There's nothing funny about a four-year-old whose mother dies. (While Molly Marx is a pinhead of a main character, she did love her daughter, which may be her one redeeming quality.)

Among the flaws in this insipid novel.

1. A newlywed who finds her husband screwing a guest before the cake is even cut should not join said husband to cut said cake. She traded her soul for money and status. Dead or a live, she learned nothing and contributed little to the world.

2. Didn't Hiawatha Hicks have any other cases? Even the worst NYPD detective would have closed the case and moved on to another (more deserving)corpse within a month. The department would never have flown him to Chicago, and if one failed case sends him to law school, I bet he's a shitty lawyer, too.

3. I would have flipped to the end to determine who offed Molly and end the drivel if it wasn't against my own, personal book-reading rules. Frankly, I didn't care who killed her. And it was no surprise to find the jewelry was for the girlfriend. It was not all that surprising to learn who did the deed.

4. The only moment of intrigue was when she had Luke at the park, too. But it was too little, too late. And wouldn't he have gone out searching for her after a while? It's not like he didn't know where she was going...

5. Truth be told, we may owe Stephanie a silent thank you. Sure, murder is never a good thing and she paid for it the end (sort of), but we don't know that she meant to kill -- only that she didn't do anything to save Mollythe biker after she went over the edge. Anyone would could feel so passionately about a schmuck like Barry can't be trusted as a rational being anyway, so she would have gotten off anyway. And for Molly to snidely point out that Barry's money made it easier for Stephanie to deal with things -- hello pot: meet kettle.

6. Three hundred and three pages and we don't know who was charged with the murder? I could live with that had she not tried to tie up all the other loose ends.

7. The chapter where she wraps everything up was just stupid. After all the intrigue, cheating and lying AND being fingered as Molly's murderer, Luke gets to play Annabell's uncle? Why would either Barry or Stephanie allow him to see that little girl, let alone let him become so close he gets to be godfather?! Hicks becomes a rich attorney partnering with rich Brie? No mention of Kitty's demise? How could she not have three sentences to spend on that horrible woman? And the long-suffering Luke doesn't get a break and get to have even a schmear of happiness? Molly Marx is not worth mooning over for 20 minutes -- let alone 20 years.

8. Tabloid coverage? A made-for-TV movie? Puh-leeze.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mother of the Year -- again...

So last year, I didn't realize that Alison didn't have aftercare her first day of third grade.

About 1:15 or so, the school called to alert me that school had ended 15 minutes ago. I work about 20 minutes away, downtown.

I scrammed out of work, sped like a maniacal demon up College and across Kessler, remembering all times I seethed, feeling embarrassed and neglected as I waited for my own mother to look up from her Harlequin Romance and remember I was at band practice and needed a ride home.

I arrived in record (if not safe) time and found Alison sitting patiently on a bench at school, reading a book and not even remotely mad at me.

Becky Mueller, the fabulous woman who serves as the CKS traffic cop greeted me with a smile and shrugged off my apologies. “It’s always someone. This year it’s you,” she said. I’m certain she didn’t think another thing about it. I, however, relegated myself to the bottom of the Worst Mothers of the Year gob pile.

I apologized 20 times and promised Alison that it would never happen again. I’m sure I took her home and stuffed her full of candy and ice cream trying to make up for it.

This year, I remembered the early dismissal. Not that anyone gave me credit. Lisa almost called me, but silently sent me vibes to remember. Shortly after noon, my boss checked on me at my desk to see why I was still at work. (I'd arranged for afternoon care, thank you very much.)

While summer was great and I didn’t want it to end, I was ready for 4th grade. I was so ready. We’d tried on all her uniforms and cleaned up her backpack. She’d even gotten a hair cut at a real salon where her wild ends were evened out after a year or so of my hacking at her in the kitchen while she squirmed.

I'd bragged to all my friends who were running madly here and there, checking flyers for sales and picking up each item on the classroom list of school supplies. CKS, superior school that it is, has a service that for a price, those tedious items are delivered on Day 1. No muss. No fuss. Just a check.

I was sure I'd written it. So when I picked Ali up on Day 1, I was prepared to hear all about the wonder of 4th grade. Instead, I was greeted with, "Mom. I'm very disappointed in you."

The school supply service wasn't offered for this school year. Yeah, there were no supplies delivered to any CKS desk this year. None. As in, no pencils. No notebooks. No crayons. No nothing.

So yeah. Alison was the only kid who went to school that day with an empty backpack.

I am so stooopid.

We spent Thursday night running here and there picking up the 25 different items on the list of things all fourth graders need. We had to go to three stores to find erasable pens. (erasable pens? WTF is that all about anyway!?) She really wanted a notebook with GIR on it from Invader Zim. So, just like the candy last year, we went to Castlton to find the closest Hot Topics and a folder with GIR on it. I'm not going to tell you how much it cost.

Just like last year, she'd forgiven me for the oversight before I even arrived. She's a good egg like that. As we drove across Hell's Half Acre shopping for supplies, we spent a good amount of time remembering how we’d stuck our noses up at the Back to School section in every store all summer because we knew we were ahead of the game. We wondered how it was we (as in I) had missed the memo of no supplies at the desk thing.

CKS starts almost two weeks after the other local school bells ring. Guess how many school supplies remain in the bins after school has started...

When we finally struggled in the door, laden like pack mules with 17 different bags, we still had homework. She started in as I unpackaged the pencils, erasable pens, index cards (and pink lock box to hold them) markers, crayons, folders, and notebooks. I got her lunch for the next day started. (CKS has no cafeteria and the delivered hot lunch doesn’t start til September, that I’m sure of.)

Her homework was to assemble a "Me bag" -- 5 items of things that told a story of who she is -- and to decorate the outside of the bag. I printed out some things for her, got her paint and a glue stick from last year. We’d strategized in the car and we finalized our ideas for just how to accomplish the mission. She’s out to earn the full 30 points possible – five for each item and another five for her bag design.

Her Me Bag included the following items: a Wii remote, a glob of pink to represent her favorite color, a stick of bubble gum (we were out of gumballs), a kitty Webkinz and a book mark.

God bless her, she worked away, tongue sticking out a little bit as she concentrated on clearly writing her name and gluing down a photo of herself and clip art of her favorite Mario Kart game and the Facebook Happy Pet and Aquarium games.

I checked on her progress as I sorted trash from recyclables from the shopping spree and assembled piles for backpack packing.

She looked up and said, "Mom, you make my heart warm."

"Yeah? What makes you say that?" I ask.

"Well. You’re a good mom. You get my supplies and you make my lunch and you help me with my homework. You make my heart warm."

I love that girl.

Next year, I'm not going to screw up her first day of school.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

No offence, Mom

I've been semi cranky all day. Jeff could argue the semi-ness of it, but I'm sticking with semi.

I don't know if it's because a high school friend's brother died and I'm thinking about her, her family and my brother, David, or that a current friend's mother died and I'm thinking about her, my parents and my mother-in-law.

Or if it's that Ali goes back to school this week and she seems to be slipping more away from me toward her own self-ruled life every day. Or if I'm going back to work tomorrow after play-acting at being a stay-at-home mom.

Or if it's because not only did I find my old bathroom scales during a cleaning frenzy but I made this horrible discovery in the same week that I slipped up big time on the diet. And yeah, I've been stepping on the damn thing like a closet smoker sneaking out to the garage so the family doesn't find out she's back on the nicotine.

Whatever it is, I'm ready for it to pass. As in now.

Alison is off at a sleepover with her friend Dominic. She'll be there for part of the day tomorrow and then she'll try his tae kwon do class while I attend the CKS Back-to-School night for parents. If she likes it, she'll go every Monday and Wednesday night.

Dominic and Ali are members of a club they started in first grade. It's Ali and a bunch of boys dedicated to Pokemon and Mario. They used to play Total Drama Island at recess. Ali brought the marshmallows for a while. They used them to vote people off the island -- the one without the mallow got booted. They had to stop due to some issue with there not being enough marshmallows for everyone or something about the confection being contraband. I don't remember why they mallows got banned, only that they did.

During a short playdate Friday, Alison and Dom were talking about how they would get the gang together again - the one thing she's admitting to looking forward to come Thursday and her first day of fourth grade.

It might be good to get everyone back on a regular schedule. Summer's been great - the last few days especially.

Excerpts from a couple of hours of the Alison and Dominic show.

I was driving them somewhere and I said something in response to Dominic. It was hilarious but only I got the joke. I informed my seat-mates of my comedic genius.

"Mr. Reed is funnier," Dominic informed me.

"No way," I responded.


"No offense, Mom, but he’s funnier," chimes in the light of my life.

"What?! Prove it."

Dominic came up empty, as I knew he would.

But Ali, without hesitation, says, "Remember when I was at camp and he was taking care of my Facebook pets and he wrote and said my dogs were all sad but he didn’t know if it was because they were hungry or if you were making them listen to country music? That was hilarious."

Dominic, not to be undone, chimes in, "It’s true, Mrs. Reed. He’s way funnier than you. No offence."

"Yeah, no offence, Mom."


They were playing some video game. "Hey Alison, you won. Congratulations!"


"Of course you only beat me by 3 feet."
"Uh. Dominic don’t you ALWAYS win that game?"

"Yeah. I always play it on easy…."


Leaving the Jordan YMCA, Alison accidentally shut the door on Dominic as we were leaving. "It’s all good, dog."

This may not seem as funny to you reading this as it was to me hearing it from an 8-year-old, who was absolutely not trying to be funny.


That picture at the top of this post is a self portrait Alison took at her sleep-away camp. Doesn't she look like she's ready to hit the road like some flower power child? She'd been playing in the mud just before that.

I'm going to go weigh myself now. Maybe I'll do sit-ups first. Or run around the block in this still searing heat. Yeah. Probably not...

Dag. And I thought I was past the cranky....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The birds and the bees and other life lessons

Last week, Alison stopped me in the kitchen, stared me in the eyes and said, "Someone needs to do something about the laundry situation around here."

She was annoyed that she was down to one pair of favorite pants. It wasn't that she didn't have other options, but she'd taken her faves to camp and they were still in quarantine.

I've read enough stories about bedbugs coming home from summer camp that we bagged up everything she'd taken, sucked out the air and left them in the garage to suffocate. Yeah, it wouldn't have been a humane death, and sure, it seemed silly after a week and there wasn't a pile of exo-skeletons lurking in the bags.

But had there been even one, I'd have looked really smart.

Alison wasn't impressed with my bug strategy and I decided she was a little too high on her imaginary horse. So I introduced her to a nice couple named Kenmore.

She wasn't thrilled to expand her skill set, but I think it's going to do us all some good.

It's funny, but she doesn't seem to have an overriding urge to take on any more chores than she already has.

Jeff and I spent more hours than we cared to out in the yard this weekend trimming and weeding and getting rid of a dying bush. We put her to a little bit of work, but we're dangerous enough with sharp objects and ladders, so she was better off in the house.

I'd brought the work on us, but I don't mind yard work at all. We literally, sometimes don't speak the same language out in the yard. Or from the roof, as the case may be.

Jeff was on the roof trimming trees and cleaning gutters when I swear he calls down to me to bring him some loafers. He was switching jobs, and while I wondered why he'd need to switch out from his Keen's, I did his bidding as a good wife should.

I bring him the loafers he's worn to do plumbing (which seems odd to me, too, but hey, he's doing the work...)

"What are those for?" he asks. I tell him, isn't this what you asked for.

"I wanted the lopers," he said. "You know, the long, yellow handled clippers?"

Ah. Lopers. Who calls "clippers" "lopers?"

I was happy to get them because he had the electric trimmer already and was hacking away at a tree in front of Alison's bedroom. It's hideous and needs to go away entirely.

I'd said as much, again, earlier in the week, only to set Ali and Jeff off into eco rages. The tree has an ugly twin and they're flanked by equally unsightly bushes.

They're leggy and evergreen-y and disgustingly healthy. I've been trying to rip them out for years to no avail.

Ali claims birds sing from a nest in "her" tree, which just might be the ugliest tree in America. I bet any birds that sing from it are ugly, too. That, or so dumb or slow-flying they can't find their way to the back of the house where prettier trees with actual leaves grow.

In any case, the trees got a hair cut, the gutters got a bath and the weeds were pulled. We bagged at least 10 bags of weeds and tree and grass clippings. I even trimmed the red bud tree out back.

The only injury of the ordeal was my backside, which met with the stinger of a bee so angry I was in his garden that he attacked until he caught me unguarded. He was strategic and persistent. I had to call in reinforcements, and I think, thanks to a can of killer spray, he might have gone to live with Jesus.

It's a good thing I have other skills or Jeff, who hates yard work almost as much as he hates the Yankees, might divorce me after a weekend like this. I am wounded, though, sort of. I wonder if that will matter...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

She returns

We've had one of those exhaustive, great weekends that makes you wish for a four-day-weekend; one more day of fun than usual and a day extra to recover.

Unfortunately, I'll be doing my recovering at work in the morning...and I have stuff to do there too!

We braved the wilds of Fishers for dinner with Team Vielee, which is always worth the drive. The girls convinced me to try their new Wii dance game. It was fun, though I remain unhappy with the Japanese and their torture chamber. I have less than zero skill at any of their games, and the dancing proved to be at one with the world of Wii. But it was fun.

Saturday, we picked Ali up from her week at camp, which was way fun. Jeff and I did enjoy the week, but it was odd to have just us in the house. I was worried about and happy to see her when she made the daily photo slide show the camp posts on its website. But I felt a lot like Charlie Brown on Valentine's Day every day I went to the mail slot and came up empty. I got a letter about Ali from her counselors and was sure it was because they felt sorry for me that I was the only Mom who wasn't getting a letter from camp. (Turns out they send a letter to each of the parents...)

But I kept telling myself that it was an indication that she was having so much fun she wasn't missing us at all and was simply too exhausted to put pen to paper at night. It's true that I had asked her going in if she wanted to add riding lessons to her camp experience.

She had looked at me, horrified, and said, "No way."

"You don't want to ride horses?"

"Oh! I thought you said writing lessons," she said. "Yes, I do want to ride horses."

So yeah, I shouldn't have been rushing to the mailbox every night and my fretting that she'd hide in the woods rather than come with us were for naught.

We got to the camp as they were all gathered in the chapel in the woods -- a series of benches in front of a stage with the Flat River as its backdrop. She was in the front bench, and we were near the back but to the side. She spied us during the closing events, but couldn't leave. She kept sneaking looks, though.

She sped like a bullet to us as soon as her counselors freed their charges.

Hair was wild and free, she hadn't showered in three days and she was still wearing her pajamas, but she was back with us, whole and happy. She'd written us a postcard but hadn't figured out that she could buy a stamp at the Trading Post.

The only wrinkle -- and it was my fault -- was when it came time to check her out of her cabin, her teenage counselors wouldn't let us have her. Seems we weren't on the authorized pick up list. Thank God Lisa was there to fetch Helen or we'd still be arguing with the YMCA.

In their defense, I'm much rather have had the struggle (caused by me assuming parents were automatically on the list) than have her at a place that didn't put a premium on the safety of the kids. But isn't it sad that the world is in such a state that a summer camp has to have so many restrictions?

We got home in time to power wash the shortest redhead, let her touch her television and remember all the rooms in the house and have some Ramen -- five days without Ramen Agh! -- and then we were off to see Donna, Jaime and the cousins who were at an Indy softball park.

I won't discuss the fate of Jaime's team -- or Annie's (another niece who was in the state softball tournament) but suffice it to say, they didn't go home with trophies. I, on the other hand, went home with four young girls. We had a ton of fun and then went to Build-a-Bear today.

Overheard along the way:

Aleasha: "Rachael and I played slugbug, best-of-two-out-of-three, and I won all three times!"


Alison: "Mom, will you get us batteries for Guess Who Extra? I think they go in here. Oh. Hey. Maybe we should just turn it on..."


Rachael and Aleasha were arguing over something one of them had done. Alison was apparently sympathizing with Rachael.

"I hate to tell you, but you're related to her," Alison said.

"Well you are, too!" chimed in Becca, taking up for her youngest sister in a left-handed kind of way.

"Am not!" retorts the geneologically challenged Alison, who for as long as she's been aware of the Weir trio has referred to them as "The Cousins."

"Uh. Yes you are," said Becca. "We're your cousins, remember?"

"Ah. Right."


We caught a small glimpse of Team Ogden. They dashed by hoping to meet Donna & crew, but had just missed them. We caught up for maybe 10 minutes, then they had to run. Five minutes later, my phone rang.

"Mrs. Reed, did I leave my flip-flops at your house?" asked Hannah.

"Hannah! You weren't here 10 minutes. How could you have left your shoes?"

"I don't know. But I came home without my shoes."


Playing cornhole in the front yard, Team Cheryl/Jaime had just defeated Team Jeff/Donna for the second time in a row.

As Jaime and I prepared to bask in our glory, Jeff was setting up again. It would make for a better ending had we actually won all three of our own best-of-two-out-of-three, but sadly, the elder team somehow squeaked out a win.