Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Man Rules

I'm having too much fun in Maine to download my photos -- so in lieu of that, I thought I'd share a slightly edited version of an email my sister Donna sent me. It's making me think I might have a little more testosterone in my system than is considered girly...

Among my faves: 4, 6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 22. And as for No. 7, I can BE sympathetic, but I would apply the caveat of No. 4 to it...

The Man Rules

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

2. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

3. Sunday is for Sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

4. Crying is blackmail. Blackmail is illegal. The law should be violated only for a very good reason.

5. Ask for what you want. Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

6. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

7. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

8. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become Null and Void after 7 Days.

9. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

10. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one

11. Whenever possible, PLEASE say whatever you have to say during commercials.

12. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

13. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

14. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing", we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

15. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

16. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine.... REALLY!

17. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as football or motor sports.

18. You have enough clothes.

19. You have too many shoes.

20. If it itches, it will be scratched. Learn to deal with it.

21. Similarly, farts are fun. They just are. Learn to deal with that, too.

And finally, 22. You can either ask us to do something OR tell us how you want it done. Not both If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Many times in the past few months I've wondered if Alison is channeling Eddie Haskell.

I don't think she's ever seen Leave it to Beaver, but sometimes she's just so stinkin' sweet that I have to question her sincerity. Especially when she's trying to get something already denied her or when she's trying to get out of doing something she's been assigned.

I'm fully aware that I'm the soft touch in the house. I'm OK with it, and despite what the Captain may believe from time to time, I do put the hammer down on her occasionally.

But when she comes home from school with this assignment in her backpack, what's a Mom to do?

(She and I usually do this Thanksgiving weekend with Jeff's Christmas CDs playing in the background. She's set the theme since she could make the decision and reach a branch. For about three years, we had a tree full of her stuffed animals; lately, she's focused on the candy ornaments her Aunt Donna started supplying her with as comfort when her father curtailed her real candy intake.)

(Alison has no intention of ever spending Christmas in Indiana -- it's a holiday exclusive to the State of Maine, and it comes with cookies, nuts & bolts, and quality time with her Reed family.)

THREE IMPORTANT SYMBOLS OF CHRISTMAS ARE: the tree, the cross, and the lights.
(It WAS a Religion assignment -- I'm glad she managed to get at least one religious reference in there...)

(Eddie Haskell be damned. I think she really means it!)

December swim

What is it about little girls' giggles that makes you want to freeze time or bottle the sound and energy so you can pull it out later?

Alison and her cousins, Rachael and Aleasha, have been with us since Friday afternoon and it's been a riot. I'm sure they'd be happy to stay in the basement as long as the TV and Wii didn't stop working and as long as the snacks and food kept coming.

We dragged them out of the house at 9 a.m. anyway on Saturday for Alison's second advancement test in Taekwondo. She'll be awarded her green belt on Tuesday. One kick, again, was all it took even after Master Park switched her out for a thicker board. This does not bode well for the teenage boys in her school -- which neither Jeff nor I am worried about one bit...

After the test, the girls and I headed off to Caribbean Cove for six hours of indoor water parking. I have to say that one of the best parts of my day was noting the sweat running down the back of my swimsuit while walking past a window that looked out over a snow-covered parking lot. I like swimming in December in Indiana....this could become a tradition.

Sweat box though it can be, Caribbean Cove is not a place for an adult work out. I managed to say no to pizza, hot dogs, chips and candy. I did, however, eat all of the healthy snacks I'd actually squirreled away for all of us to share, and I stole some ham from Rachael's unfinished sandwich. She and Ali eventually snarfed down the remains of it -- it had become cold cheesy bread, and even that was looking good to me. It was a good thing they'd come back hungry for their break from the slides and lazy river.

The girls spent some time at the Jordan Y play room while I worked off the ham, fruit and nut mix. Then it was home, pizza and movies. Aleasha crashed fairly early, but Ali and Rachael were still going strong at 11. They ended up crashing where they lay -- the couch and bean bag.

It's 7:30 now and I've heard not a peep.

I'm supposed to return the girls today. But I might have to have car trouble....sure they have school, but the last two days before Christmas break aren't exactly academic, now are they?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another step away

Alison is becoming more and more independent. It's one of those things about her that I hate and love with equal passion.

OK. That's a lie. I hate to see her growing up. Hate. It. Every stinkin' day it seems like she's moving closer to the day she'll really be all grown up. I remember back when she was really little and she was just learning a new trick.

"I can DO it by MYSELF!" she would insist whether it was gluing a decoration on a homemade Christmas card, cutting out cookies, or putting together an ensemble of mismatched socks, underneath wildly patterned tights, a striped shirt and a flowered dress.

This weekend it was putting together the CKS 4A Class goody bags for the Christmas party on Friday. "Mom, I'd like to put the bags together myself," she said. "I mean, alone. By myself."

In years past, she and I have sat on the floor together, sometimes with other little friends, surrounded by stickers and glue, beads, markers, paint, construction paper and ribbons. We've made holiday cards and crafts for friends and family and treats for classmates from day care through third grade.

We'd make a huge mess and find bits of paper and paint in our hair, but it was fun. Not being especially gifted in the crafting skills, I've always been happy to team up, hoping my deficiencies could be attributed to her burgeoning fine and gross motor skills.

We've made some pretty horrendous crafts over the years. The Christ the King Secret Santa Shop pretty much put the kaibash on our gift-making. Jeff and I provide the cash, but se selects, buys and wraps the gifts at school.

I've made my peace with that. (It helps that she always blabs about what each gift but mine is.) I did think we'd always have joint assemblage duty.

But I swallowed hard, nodded, handed over the bag of supplies and walked away.

Oh my gosh. You should have seen her work. She did everything but put on a manager's hat and whip out a clipboard. She got the school handbook out and made a list of her 20 classmates so she wouldn't inadvertently leave someone out. She organized the goodies with all the precision of a surgical nurse setting out instruments. She tailored each bag to each student, and she double checked to be sure everyone was treated equally.

"These are some extras we can just donate to the class," she said, pointing to erasers and pencils. She had different plans for the extra candy. I reminded her of the Advent pledge she'd written on a test this week. "I will pray for the misfourtonet (sic) every day. I will also stop eating so much candy."

"Oh. If I did write that -- and I'm not saying I did -- then Mrs. Zinkan must have made me," she said. "I'm pretty sure she made me."

I made her wait for lunch before she got to devour the leftover Peeps. Chances are that had we been a team, she might have been able to nibble throughout. Hmmmm. There's a thought...

A reason to believe

Remember when the phrase, "It takes a village" wasn't the punchline in a political joke?

I'm still a believer in the sincerity of both the woman who brought that phrase to the forefront and in the power of the phrase itself.

For all you nonbelievers, take a look at the Arsenal Tech Cheer Team and how Central Indiana is responding to what Coach Dustin Wyman is doing for the kids on that team.

In short, a beautiful young man who's suffering from brain cancer, has taken a group of kids who social experts would describe as "at-risk" due to their economic and geographic circumstances and turned them into champions. Whether they win at the cheerleading championships in Orlando next year is almost irrelevant. These kids have already won.

They've won because:

* They've seen that they each have options beyond their neighborhood
* They know they have to work hard to make those options happen
* They're starting to dream of what can come next.

We've all won because businesses like Angie's List and ESCO, and hundreds of people across the city are pitching in to help Coach Wyman watch over the seeds he's planted.

Of course there are no guarantees for a bumper crop of great new leaders. There never are. But there's a whole lot of hope growing over there on the near-East Side and it's being nurtured by a whole of people from a whole lot of different walks of life.

That, my friends, is a village. And today I'm pretty happy with the village I'm calling home.