Sunday, November 28, 2010


It's been five days since I went to work. I'm not sure I'm going to be happy to see the sun rise tomorrow. Frankly, I'm not really able to focus on much right now. Jeff's at the Colts game, Ali beat me at Monopoly and then we watched a Cats & Dogs movie. Now she's watching some awful Fred movie and I've retreated to my PC.

Some Thanksgiving leftovers:
1. Alison's teeth will start 2011 ensconsed in metal. I'm thankful we've put enough money away in the old HSA to cover it. It will almost equal a year's worth of school tuition by the time we're done. Ali will be thankful circa 2013 when they come off.

2. We spent Thanksgiving at Aunt Donna's and had a fabulous time. I'm thankful Rachael was my euchre partner. We ruled. Until that last game when her father cheated.

3. We caught a break and got to see my cousin Howard Thursday, too. He's the guy on the Indiana highway crew who wears a cowboy shaped hard hat and gets marriage proposals from random women commuters on just about every job he works. They cat call and hold up signs as they drive by. Really! He's kind of a legend. That's Howard's wife, Cheryl. She doesn't seem worried.

4. We've done some real home improvement over the past couple of years: we took out a nasty tree in the front yard; had the driveway, back stoop and front walk replaced; and had all the windows replaced. Professional jobs, all. Jeff's been jealous every time the boys with their toys showed up, so we capped off the weekend with a little DIY, re-installing the drapes. Jeff is thankful he got to play with his power drill. I'm thankful that when the dining room drapes fell on me, I didn't get a black eye --only a nasty scrape. (Note to self: DIY sucks.)

5. I'm thankful for my Bunconians, too. We really know each other, sins and strengths alike. But we love each other anyway, which if you ask me, is real love.

6. I'm just going to take a leap and say that Jeff is thankful for Victoria's Secret. I finally agreed that I'm probably as small as I'm ever going to get and cashed in a Christmas gift from last year. I'm back in full touch of my A-ness and needed to resupply my lingerie drawer anyway. He got full run of the store (including the dressing rooms) on Black Friay, and my girls and I got the royal treatment. We came away with this contraption (among other more pedestrian equipment) that addes two cup sizes. I would never have bough this thing on my own or when I was single. It's too much like false advertising, if you ask me. Can't you just picture the big reveal? But don't tell anyone: it's a (Victoria's) secret...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bamboo duel

A couple of weeks ago, Alison took part in a Kum Do Workshop, put on by her Taekwondo teacher and some grand masters from Chicago.

It's essentially the first step in sword play. They used bamboo sticks instead of swords (thank God!) Short of Kill Bill, I had never seen anything like it.

Alison, of course, loved it. Jeff was there for the whole thing and shot some video. I came in half-way through and could hear the grunts and smacks from the sidewalk.

At one point, the grand masters -- outfitted in what sort of looked like baseball catchers' gear but more of it -- told the kids to whack them right on the head with their bamboo swords. And of course they did it. Later, they whacked the masters on their torso.

I got a headache just watching it. But Alison had a great time. I pity the first boy who tries to go somewhere she doesn't want him...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Workin' it in the yard

On what may be the last beautiful day of fall, I spent some time in the yard. Picture it, if you will: eye-glasses on, hair scraped back in a ponytail, red capri sweat pants that used to be too tight and an old, yellow long-sleeved shirt that was the first thing I found in the closet. Finishing out the ensemble, crew socks and sneakers.

I was about 2.5 hours in. It was sunny, but cool, so I wasn't a sweaty mess, but I'm sure I had leaves and twigs in my hair and dirt on my red face. At one point, I'd knocked my glasses off into a bag of leaves, so it's likely they were askew on my face. I'd shoveled up dirt with some of the leaves, and I'm sure I'd swiped my forehead a time or two with my dirty gloves.

A guy pulled out of the driveway across the street as I was bagging leaves in the front. I don't know him, but he made eye contact and smiled as he backed out onto the street. It didn't register, really, until my neighbor then came out of the house and stopped to chat.

"Man, whatever you're doin', Cheryl. Um. You, ah, you look good," he said. "I mean. Like, well you know. You look great."

Now Jason is often affectionate and a little inappropriate after some beers. And I guess he and his friend might have been lighting up a few. But he was driving, so I'm guessing he wasn't as far gone as I've seen him.

'Course, if you think back to that picture I hope I drew for you, maybe I should have taken his keys...

In any event, it made the rest of the work go faster.

For the record, I'm closing in on 40 pounds gone. Sadly, some of those lbs have fled from my upper torso area. The girls might need a little help if I'm to keep catching the neighbor's eye...

P.S. Alison's day spa is open for business to those outside the family now. Appointments in the evening, post-homework, please. She's still offering free dum dums, but if she has to go to you, you'll have to pay a dollar extra.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Porcupines and other sticky wickets

Alison was pretty upset Thursday when I picked her up from school. Seems one friend had told her that another friend had called Alison a name -- a hyper dork to be exact -- and Alison was some ticked off.

"I'm going to talk to Mrs. Zinkan about this," she said. "(She-who-should-not-be-named)is kind of a teacher's pet and I bet Mrs. Zinkan will be pretty interested in this kind of behavior."

"You think that's the best way to handle it?" I asked. "Tell me more about it."

It turns out said slur could have occurred anytime in the past two years, covering the time Mrs. Zinkan had completed her tour of 2nd grade duty. She's got the class back for their 4th grade year. Alison is sure the slight happened because she can always tell when her informant is lying, "And she's definitely not lying about this."

I suggested that perhaps Mrs. Zinkan didn't need to be called in, given that the slander had happened so long ago. Maybe it would be better to just talke to She-who-should-not-be-named.

"I think I'll have (the informant) with me for backup," Alison strategized.

Good idea. So the confrontation occured Friday. She-who-should-not-be-named denied the whole thing. The informant stood by Ali, figuratively and verbally. Alison had decided not to involve Mrs. Zinkan, though she's certain that she-who-should-not-be-named has flaming pants.

Flash forward to Saturday afternoon. The doorbell rings. Two neighorhood girls are at the door. "We have to talk to Alison," says Maddie from across the street, who tends to visit when she's on her father's weekend. With her is Melanie, from down the street, a full-time neighbor. Both are younger than Alison, and sometimes that matters more than others.

I direct them downstairs where the redhead awaits. I hear a bit of a commotion and go to the top of the stairs. I can hear them but they can't see me.

Turns out, Maddie has informed Melanie that Alison said Melanie cries a lot. They've come to confront her. I gulp. I want to go down there, but seems like the sauce is being served and I want to see how the gander deals with it.

"Well, you said it too, Maddie," I hear Alison say.

"Did not."

"You did, too! I was standing right there!" says Ali, who sighs heavily. "Look. Melanie. I am so sorry. I did say it but I just want you to know I had had a really bad day that day. My friend had been getting in trouble at school and I was trying to help her not get a conduct cut and it was really stressful. And then you two came over and you stubbed your toe or something and you cried. A lot."

"I'm sorry," Alison repeated. "But I was having a bad day that day."

"Did you get a conduct cut?" gasped the formerly injured Melanie. (Each girl attends Catholic school, but different ones. They all must follow the conduct cut discipline plan, though.)

"No, I didn't, but Madison did. She got four that week!" Alison said.


"Yeah. OK. Well, see you later."

"See you."

I scooted out of the way as the two girls came back up. "Bye!" they said. "See you tomorrow!"

Alison popped upstairs a while later. I asked her what that was all about and she related the details blow-by-blow. I told that while I didn't want her to hurt anyone's feelings, I was proud of her for not lying about the statement that started the whole thing.


Last night, Jeff was putting Ali to bed and he leaned in to kiss her.

"Da-ad! Kissing you is like kissing a porcupine!" she exclaimed, trying to get away from the whisker burn.

"Oh, sorry, honey. I'll shave these off tomorrow," he said.

"That's OK, Dad. I love porcupines," she said.

The Spa

While I was at the gym and grocery shopping Saturday, Alison was busy setting up her latest enterprise: a day spa in her bedroom.

She started out with the idea that she'd raise money to buy a television for her room. She's been coveting one for years. Her friends Breanna and Dominic have had their own televisions for years (yes, they're all only 9) and Ali has wanted one forever.

So I come in the door laden with grocery bags, still sweaty from the gym.

"Mom! Mom! You have to come see what I did!" she exclaims, bursting out of her room to catch me in the kitchen.

I put down the bags and go in. "It's a day spa!" she says. "Would you like a massage? There's a bargain price just for today! And if you buy a full body massage, I'll do your neck for free."

She'd put together a spa station on the lower bunk. She'd priced an arm massage at a quarter (per arm). Each leg would set you back 50-cents, but a full body massage was available for only $1.

I told her I would be happy to be her first customer, but first, I'd put away the groceries and shower so she could work on a clean body. She agreed that was a good idea. Jeff helped put the groceries away while I washed away the sweat.

By the time I got back, she'd expanded into a mani/pedi station and later, she added a make-over area. I'm apparently a silent partner as it's my mani/pedi tools and supplies that make up the most of her inventory. The make-up station is wholly hers, though. Angel dust glitter is her featured make-up product.

So I ended up spending $3.80 total for my day's worth of spa service -- I sprang for the lotion with my mani/pedi and I even tipped her. Done with me, she convinced her father that he needed some pampering. I think he opted for the pedicure because he doesn't exactly fit on her massage table. Both your feet and head are cushioned by a stuffed animal pile, which makes it easy to find a way to breathe when you're face down.

She's even drummed up a little side business from Hannah Ogden, who stopped in for a bit and will come back tonight.

My bet is that Alex Ogden won't indulge in a pedicure, but you never know.

She's open all day if you're in the market for a little indulgence. She accepts any form of cash, including coins she's spied laying around in your car. I'm sure she'll be working on electronic payment as soon as she thinks of it.

Any type of service comes with a free dum-dum, but you have to actually eat the lollipop on premises. She'd like to keep the wrapper for her collection. She's decided to re-wallpaper her room with dum-dum wrappers. If she gets tired of the design, she says she'll cash the wrappers in for a new DSI.

She's also decided the television can wait. She's saving up for a real fish tank now. Filtered and self-cleaning. A businesswoman has no time to actually clean a fish tank, you know. (I'm glad she came to this conclusion AFTER she'd already done her Saturday chore of changing Cody's water.)

Her entrepreneurial spirit is affecting more than her ability to complete her weekly chores. She's on the hook this weekend for spelling, starting a diarama depicting the Delaware Indian tribe and studying for her Religion test on Wednesday. Early in the evening, I mentioned that we should get started on some of that.

"Mom, I've just been so busy organizing my spa, I don't think I'll have time for any more of that," she informed me.

Today should prove interesting...