Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Some go over the river,
Some go thru the woods.
We’ll fly through the sky,
And be happy we could.

Happy Christmas,
No matter where you go,
You’re what makes our holiday glow.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Team Reed Indy

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Drum roll please...umm nevermind...

Why I capitulated I don't know, but I was in the school band from 5th grade through my senior year. It's not that I don't like music, I do. I'm just not musically inclined, as any of my band instructors or anyone who's heard me try to sing or play music, would likely tell you.

As part of the school band, you had to be in marching band when you got to high school. It was terrible. My mother, who insisted on my and all my sisters' musical participation, routinely forgot to pick me up from the practices and parades. So I'd be there after a practice I didn't want to attend, waiting and waiting and waiting for my mom to look up from her Harlequin Romance and remember to come get me. The instructors, who couldn't go home til all the students were gone, LOVED me.

And the parades. Oh the parades. Initially I was in the clarinet section. My sisters, in order, had played the clarinet, trumpet, trombone and flute. Last in line, I was awarded the vintage, recycled clarinet purchased circa 1965 and left behind my sister Donna who had escaped it upon graduation.

In high school I staged a mighty rebellion and moved to the percussion section. What a bad idea. I'd been beaten with sticks my whole life by various family members, but I'd never actually wielded them myself.

Happily, the snares were occupied, so rather than learn how to execute an actual drum roll, I was paired up first with the bells. Apparently you need to know how to play piano to understand the layout of the bells. I tended to flail around making noise.

So it wasn't long before I was paired up with the bass. This is a fine and noble instrument. It's the heartbeat of the music; it's a beacon to the other instruments, sounding out the pace of the work. Well, that's the idea, I'm told.

For parades, nearly all of them carried out during the height of Indiana summer, the marching band was swaddled in wool uniforms and hats that looked like six sheep died to provide each towering Marge Simpson design.

The bass drum is roughly the size and weight of a tractor tire. It's carried in a metal Baby Bjorn on the bassists' chest. It might surprise you to know that I was no taller in high school than I am now.

That frickin' bass drum took on the proportions of a blue whale. It was wider than I was tall and I had to tote down the street. In front of people. While keeping step and remembering to bang on it every once in a while.

Full disclosure: that photo is of my sisters, Debbie and Nancy, also volunteered by my mother for the Shakamak High School band, but likely better musicians. At some point in my marching career, the school switched to slightly less hideous hats, but when I have flashbacks (parades and other gatherings of big crowds bring them on) I envision this rockin' look.

To this day, I hate parades. And it is on that hatred that I blame my latest discovery of how bad a mother I am.

Alison and her 5th grade class attended A Christmas Carol at the Indiana Repertory Theater this week. On the way, she'd passed by Indianapolis' Monument Circle, which for the past forever is turned into a giant Christmas tree thanks to local IBEW workers and a ton of lights and string.

She was entranced by the giant nutcrackers, candy canes and associated holiday decor. Yep. We've lived her her whole decade of life and I've never taken her to see the "tree" lit up. Not for the ceremony and not after. Why?

1. It's not a tree.
2. It's cold enough in Indiana in December to make you pine for that high school band uniform. (but not the hat; for temperatures cold enough to make you want the hat, you have to go to Antarctica.)
3. The idea of going to the annual tree lighting (attended by thousands religiously; considered a rite of passage for toddlers across Central Indiana) makes me think of going downtown for a parade. Huge crowd. Parking issues. Someone hits the lights. Wahoo. Back to huge crowd. Parking issues. In the cold.
4. Did I mention that it's not a tree?

Anyway, Alison had a dentist appointment downtown on Friday. So Jeff and I carpooled to work, he picked her up and took her to the dentist, then picked me up at work.

We planned to do a little shopping, have dinner downtown and see the "tree" in all its glory. Lucky for us, we were able to bring Ali's friend, Amanda, along. They wore matching minion hats and had their usual good time, oblivious to the cold and soaking in all the holiday fun the city sidewalks had to offer.

I need to take off my Grinch hat and embrace their spirit, I think. I might even have to reconsider my parade phobia. I am not, however, wearing that hat again.

PS: As a 5th grader, Alison is eligible to play in the school band. She has declined and I am not going to make her. Some traditions need to end.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's apparently Christmastime...

I'm going to have to edit my list of the "best days of my life."

The morning was kind of crisp and cold, but it didn't really matter because I had a bunch of indoor chores to accomplish. Ali was finishing her home work project so she could get to my iPad. Jeff was working on the outdoor Christmas lights, I was shopping online and getting a little organized for the holidays.

Ali and I went shopping together that afternoon. It was warm enough that my LL Bean vest and a turtleneck and jeans were all I needed. I convinced Alison to put on a jacket over her much-loved black sweats with one knee gone and her Justice sparkly tee-shirt. Neither of us had showered. Our hair was pulled back but not combed, and we both had our glasses on.

There's a little shop in Broad Ripple called Chelsea's that Ali wanted to go to because she wanted to get something unusual for Jenna this year (sorry Amer, your advice has been pre-rejected.)

Before got there, we stopped at Starbucks. Coffee for me, water for Ali, and then we strolled down to the store chattering away, laughing here and there and pointing out interesting things and people along the way.

It was one of those little slices of life that I hope to remember forever. The weather was just right. My daughter was thrilled to be hanging out with me. We we had nothing to do but be silly and buy stuff for people we love.

While it was lost on Alison (thank goodness) I remember Christmases past when the P.N. Hirsch in Linton, Ind. was a budget buster, so while we don't get crazy, it's a huge gift to me to be able to shop with a focus on making someone happy.

We called to each other across the stores -- "Ooh! Auntie Jen would love that! Look at all of these, Mom. I think Uncle James and David would like these."

We found a few things at Chelsea's including a Magic 8 ball that that Alison thinks Jenna needs. "Why this?"

"Well, I like it and I would LOVE to have one, so she should like it, too," reasoned Alison, echoing my own philosophy.

She tested it out with a question she made me swear not to repeat and then begged, "Please let it say no. Please let it say no."

We examined more than a few things at a shop I like even better than Chelsea's. Just down the street, the Bungalow has have fewer things, but they're more interesting, usually eco-friendly and the people are nicer. The Chelsea chicks seem to expect you to break things. At the Bungalow, I was juggling my coffee and wallet and a few trinkets and looking for more.

Suddenly there was a nice lady with a basket in her hands, telling me she thought I could use this. Sure, she wanted me to fill it up, but I was in similar shape at Chelseas and no one there did anything but raise her eyebrows.

Alison fell in love with some earrings and a little cat jewelry holder at the Bungalow. We couldn't verify the earrings didn't have nickel in them and while she was crushed that she couldn't get them (and act surprised on Christmas morning) she didn't dwell on it or whine.

She'd loved the penguins and the scotties equally but couldn't decide and then agreed that it didn't really matter as she couldn't have them. (The nice sales clerk helped me pull a fast one so Alison should be really happy when she opens them.)

The earrings and cat holder came back up later after we'd seen a dog wearing a sweater, a dog peeing on a garbage can and another dog that rushed by us "Sorry. He just really wants to get to his store," said his owner en route to the Dog Bakery.

That led to a discussion of cat videos and Uncle James and David. "They're cat people like me," Ali said.

We went into a store I'd never been in. Turned out to be a frat boy's garage sale or something like that. We left fairly quickly but not so fast as to be rude.

Out on the sidewalk, Ali asked me if I'd disliked the store. I said it wasn't what I expected but that I hadn't really thought there was anything there we needed. "What made you ask?

"I can just tell what you're thinking sometimes," she said, catching my hand. "It's a mom and daughter thing."

This morning she made cookies while I made my zero-point soup. She likes to spice the soup. She does a pretty good job of it, too.

Her cookie decorating skills have gotten way better since the first time we'd decorated at Auntie Jen's with Grammie.

As we shopped Saturday, we had talked about what we might do in Maine this year and I said we'd probably have to check with Jen to be sure we could do cookies again.

"Mom. It's CHRISTmas. Of COURSE we'll go to Auntie Jen's and make cookies. It's like. Well. It's CHRISTmas."

Of course it is. What was I thinking?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Halls are Decked

Alison's cousin Aleasha seranaded anyone who would listen on Thanksgiving Day from her repertoire of Christmas music.

"It's NOT Christmas yet. It's THANKSgiving!" exclaimed a horrified Alison, calling a halt to the tunes.

Not that 'Leasha will care, but Ali has been complaining since Halloween about stores that have Christmas stuff out and any other pre-emergent Xmas signs. She's like a little old lady complaining about kids in her yard. (She's literally working on her impression of that old lady. It's not a big stretch.)

But when we woke up Friday morning, the House of Merle Christmas CDs came out, the bins came up and Christmas exploded at our house.
We rocked out for most of the day. For the first time in the history of Christmas Decorating by A&C, we remembered to put the lights on the tree before the ornaments.

Ali has been using our Island of Misfit Toys collection and other assorted stuffed animals to decorate the tree. This year, we went straight ornaments, but heavy on Aunt Donna's candy shapes and Auntie Jen's misfit trees.

Jeff rescued a white ceramic tree from my mother's house and we're trying to remember where the green one came from. I normally scatter them throughout the house but Jeff and Alison were ahead of me. So we have a tiny ceramic forest shining from our dining room.

Let the Christmas celebrating begin!

In all sorts of stitches

We are thankful at Chez Reed for many things this holiday weekend. Among those things:

Health care

Let's start in reverse order. It had come to my attention (actually I knew about this but have been too lazy to fix it) that some people aren't on my photoshoot list on my laptop. So when I send the weekly update from upstairs, the people who live in my downstairs PC address book get left out. So I was trying to fix it while sitting at the kitchen counter.

Ali was cleaning her fish tank. Jeff came through and decided she needed to work harder. They were at the sink addressing the fish poop she'd left in the tank when she'd thought she was done. And then, a crash, a curse, a scream.

I twirl around to see Jeff holding a flailing, bloody, barefoot Alison. Approximately 1.5 gallons of fish poop-laden water and a pile of aqua aquarium rocks were rushing at me.

He was worrying (loudly) that she'd get her feet cut. She was panick-stricken and temporarily deaf. We got her out of the splash zone and I see what appeared to be a handful of slight cuts from arm to foot and a six-foot-long gash on her wrist. Maybe it was smaller, but I'm just reporting what I saw.

She was in the direct line of fire when the glass bowl had slipped from her hands and Jeff caught it quite firmly against the stainless steel sink. Hence, the crash, the curse and the scream.

My brothers have often used Super Glue for various cuts and scrapes, and we had some in the kitchen drawer, I opted, however, to dip into our health care plan.

Six Band-Aids, a bucket of tears and some terse exchanges after the fish bowl explosion, we were ready for a trip to the Immediate Care. That's when my cousin Lori showed up. We'd been expecting her. She was not expecting the reception. But like the good sport she is, she drove Ali and me to the Immediate Care Center while Jeff stayed behind to pick up glass and rock and fish poop.

Alison ended up with three stitches though she'd asked the doctor for "Instant Skin" instead. (She's been reading a lot of Harry Potter.) We'd told her she might not need stitches, but could instead have "liquid skin," a kind of FDA-approved Super Glue.

I'm sparing you some of the drama of how we went from flooded kitchen to stitched and wrapped wrist. It went on for a while. Hours after her recovery period in bed where she was resting her injury, she developed a distinct limp. It shifted from foot to foot as the evening wore on, so there was no follow-up trip to the doc.

This drama was preceded by a fabulous evening out with our friends Patricia and Patrick Jackson and followed by a fabulous evening in with our friends Duane and Kirsten Jasheway, all of whom we don't see enough.

The Jacksons get the prize for driving the farthest -- I first met them back in my Evansville news reporting days. Alison adores them both, and I suspect she and Patricia have some sort of mind meld.

We met for flatbread pizza at Napolese. If you haven't been there yet, you should go. Well worth the points, even on a holiday meal weekend.

So we laughed and reminisced well past Alison's bedtime.

On Saturday, Duane and Kirsten brought a sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pie that's been calling my name all day. I'm sure we had a lovely evening and talked about many sophisticated and silly things. But my mind is on that pie...

All this friendly frivolity, of course, was preceded by Thanksgiving. Team Reed doesn't often host because we rotate among my siblings and aunts, but it's always fun to do when we get the chance. I'm happy to report no trips to the Immediate Care Center were necessary on Thursday.

Jeff is still working a lot, so much of the day's planning and cooking fell to me. Always a risk. The gravy had more of a kick than it should have and the sweet potato souffles were better the next day, but it worked out and we had a great visit with most of my family.

Jeff deep-fried a turkey, I baked ham and turkey breasts. Yes, I confused cilantro and parsley, but the soon to be famous "green turkey" was kick-ass!

We all did miss our Aunt Joan, though, who passed away last week, joining Uncle Ed. You may remember him from previous posts that involved blowing things up with Jeff. They were two of our favorite people. Reportedly, their ashes are now resting side by side. His in a plain black box. Hers in a Depression glass cookie jar. Seems so fitting for the two of them.

We started the weekend on Wednesday with a visit from the Ogdens, and Ali just spent a few hours with them today. It's been a ton of work lightened with laughter and the warmth that comes from being with people who like you despite yourself. We're lucky to have all of them and all the ones we didn't actually see this week, but keep in our hearts. You know who you are.

And now, I think I'll have pie.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life is a bowl of cherries

Alison and I were talking about Thanksgiving. Team Reed is hosting this year, so I was thinking about stuff we needed to buy. Anti-chocolate, anti-cake, anti most traditional desserts, I asked her what she might think she'd want for dessert on the big day.

"Well, I might try pie," she said. "I've never had pie. I like cherries. I might like cherry pie."

Sad, isn't it? I'm sure her thighs and complexion will be the better for it, but who would have thought a child of mine would make it a full decade, and then some, without having pie pass her lips.

What's even funnier (to me) is that my sister Nancy is in charge of desserts. We were talking about what she might make and she said people will expect a pumpkin pie. She was worried because she's never made one before.

"Well who are these people with expectations? It's just us. If you don't want to make pumpkin pie, just don't make it," said I, the sane and reasonable one. (I don't really like pumpkin pie...)

"You HAVE to have pumpkin pie," frets Nancy.

I silently agreed to disagree with her and came up with this bombshell. "Hey, you know, if I was in charge of desserts, I'd just go buy a pumpkin pie."

"Buy one?" she mused. "BUY one. Yeah. I could BUY a pie."

And just like that, I saved Thanksgiving. But back to Alison.

Today at Kroger, I spied half a cherry pie in the buy-it-now-before-it-molds basket. "Hey, Ali, wanna try a cherry pie?"

Wrestling with an armload of cherry acai flavored yogurt, she looked at it from all sides. "It's kinda big. Think they have a smaller one?" asked my practical daughter.

We looked. They had individual (fresher) slices of pumpkin and pecan, but no cherry.

"Let's try this. It's on sale, and if you don't like it, we'll have to throw away only half a pie."

Life intervened and she didn't get to the pie until I came home a bit ago from seeing Breaking Dawn with some friends of mine. I'm glad I saw it. Silly, but fun with good friends.

So Ali has the pie out and greets me, "Hey Mom! Cherry pie is awesome."

She's getting out the ice cream and is going to have a whole slice. I'm not sure why I think this is great, but I like the culinary expansion. Heretofore, her dessert range has been sugar cookies, sugar cookie dough, sugar cookie and some cake icing, vanilla ice cream and frozen yogurt.

She dives in. The ice cream vanishes as if it was never there. "Uh. Guys. Does cherry pie go bad?"

"Well, it can be tart," we say.

She moves some cherries around. "Do you have to eat this part?" She forks the crust.

Sigh. Guess the people at work will like the pie tomorrow...

Maybe if I'd made it from scratch? Nah.

The way I see it, Alison's life is a big ol' bowl of cherries. Who needs 'em in a pie?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

She Shoots, He Scores

Yesterday on the way home from school, we passed a school friend/neighbor on a walk with her mom, brother and a friend of his. I had Ali and Amanda in the car because we were going to a party at Amanda's house later.

The girls lean out the window to say hi and learn the group is headed to the park. Ali and Amanda are invited to go, but they have to change first. The group keeps walking. The girls and I head in.

Deh. Deh. Deh.

I've never let Alison walk to the park by herself. Or with a friend. Yeah, it's less than a block away and I can catch glimpses of her from my window if I was inclined to spy. I can even see parts of the park from my backyard. If I was inclined to spy.

She's 10. She's with Amanda. They're going to the park where another mom will be there. Jeff just looks at me like I'm a mad woman. "They'll be OK," he says.

Deh. Deh. Deh.

They dash outside before I can change my mind. I watch them go down the road. I spy from the window to be sure they actually get to the park. It's a beautiful fall day. One of the last we'll get for a while. They're out in the crisp sunshine.

My heart is pounding out the Jaws rythm.

"Hey, honey. Want to go for a walk with me?" I ask, batting my eyes.

It worked for about a quarter second. But like the good man he is, he shrugged into a jacket. We strolled down the street. I saw her little red hair flaming in the sun as she played tag, yelling and screaming with her friends.

We turned the corner and kept on walking.

This morning she brought back up again a subject she's been on for a couple of weeks. "Hey Dad, do you think you would want to go to the Y with me and practice some basketball?"

As loud as my heart was beating yesterday in fear, I think his was pumping about to burst with pure ecstasy. But he kept it on the down-low.

"Sure, honey. I think I could do that."

Now, Jeff's in the middle of a pretty big case at work. He's been burning the midnight and weekend oil for a few weeks and there's more to come. But nothing was going to get in the way of his working out with Alison. And I mean nothing.

I dropped them off at the gym and went to the grocery only to find them an hour later still at it. Ali was sweating. Jeff was just shining.
I think he fell in love with her all over again.

If she's smart, she'll ask him for a dog again today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

R&R for 2/3s of us

It's been a great weekend. We did the bare minimum to survive. Well, Jeff is having to work overtime still, so it's been Alison and me acting like sloths. We've read a few books, watched the Harry Potter movie collection and generally laid around like dogs.

I did manage to bag a few leaves, clean off one layer of grime in parts of the house and get few errands done. Ali vaccumed, took care of her fish and other chores. But there was a lot of doing nothing.

In the midst of it all, I realized I'd forgotten to take pictures of her in her Ginnie Weasley costume. So my 2011 Halloween photo is of the cookies we made last week for the school celebration.

Trust me to say that while Ali's costumer wasn't to Aunt Donna's level of sophistication, she still made a great junior witch. Her friend Amanda came dressed as an Island girl and we ran rampant through the neighborhood. It would have made a cute photo.

Amanda hadn't been trick-or-treating before. It took her a while to realize she was really just begging for candy and that the people she approached actually wanted to be solicited. It didn't take her long to get into the spirit.

So, after Halloween, Jeff went back to the grind. Ali and I have been having a lot of fend-four-yourself dinners. That means I might have cereal and she might have Ramen. We've occasionally had real meals, but June Cleaver's spirit has been missing from the house.

We did, finally, have dinner as a family Saturday. Actually in the dining room, sharing a meal and conversation. It was great fun. And we took a moment to recognize it.

Tomorrow we'll be back to the grind. Grr. I was liking that sloth routine...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's good to be king

Jeff demanded that we not make a big production of his birthday this year. I'm not sure if it's that he doesn't fully embrace this particular one or if he's just so preoccupied with work that it wouldn't matter which birthday it was.

We've had mini-celebrations here and there all month. Jeff and I went to a couple of concerts -- Matthew Sweet on on a school night (!) and local bands, The Love Me Nots and the Vulgar Boatman -- earlier this month. Matthew Sweet played his "Girlfriend" album, which turns out to be the album every divorced or ditched man in America (JMR included) has used to get through the rough patch.

The LMN and Boatmen also have a connection to the former Mrs. Reed. She introduced him to the boys in the band. Interestingly, Jeff has maintained great friendships with them all, and they all seemed happy to see him at the venue.

Said former Mrs. Reed was at the last concert. I have never met her, though based on all the stories, it seems appropriate that it was October when I caught my first glimpse.

She was not friendly. I was prepared to be polite. OK. I was prepared for a cat fight in the bathroom and a little disappointed that I didn't even get a chance to miaow.

I will admit that I was never so glad to fit into single-digit jeans than I was that night. I had new, high-heeled boots on and I might have also had good hair, but I'm never sure about that. All I know is she hugged a table all night and I, well, let's just say I had something more malleable in my hands...

With those same two hands yesterday, I made Jeff birthday brownies. they are anywhere from 4 to 5 points. They would have been three, but I added Ghiardelli chocolate chips and walnuts. It is his birthday... and no, I didn't have one.

Ali described him alphabetically and with art. He is: "Amazing, Best, Creative, Dangerous, Entergetic (sic) Funny, Great, Helpful, Independent, Jeff, Kind, Loveable, My Dad, Nice, Outstanding, Protects Me, Quite (not), Really Awesome, Stupendous, The Best, Under 60 Years, Very Cool, When does he not help me never), X-treme, Y so Tall, and Zany."

Sadly, Jeff spent most of his birthday at work yesterdy and he's there again now. It'll be this way for a couple more weeks, so we might celebrate some more if we can remember what he looks like by then.

It has, for the milestone that it is, been a bit unspectacular. Until Andy came by and made my sporadic mini-celebrations fade to a dim ember, that is.

Jeff is now the Bourbon King.

So I guess it was a successful birthday celebration afterall. Long live the king!

A Tip re: Hats

We were killing time at Marshall's waiting for Justice for Girls to open.

I spied a display of hats and asked my stylists for their opinion. They're not ones to sugar coat it.

Ali: "No offense, Mom, but no."

Jen: "Heh. Heh. Uh. No."

"What if I put on some lipstick."

"That's not gonna help."

Once in Justice, where they were hoping I'd open my wallet for them, I tried again thinking their desire for new stuff would outweigh their discerning eyes.

"Uh. I don't think so, Miss Cheryl."

Alison slunk to the other side of the store.

Would you buy this book?

If only I had Jenna more often. The book -- I'm considering this title: "Why Mothers Eavesdrop" -- would come much faster. We snatched her for the first day of Fall Break. Her father wanted her for the second or we would have kept her.

While they do have their own little world, which means I lurk in the corners a lot, I am still needed for snacks and shopping money. And, in a stroke of great luck, they asked me to play with them in the pool for a while. You can bet I jumped right in.

Best quotes of Fall Break 2011:

Ali and Jenna discussing allergies. Ali rattled off dandelions, nickel and cats. Jenna had nothing until: "Well I don't know, but I certainly HOPE I am allergic to broccoli."

Ali, Jenna and I were on our own for dinner. I suggested Mexican. "Nah. We've farted enough today."

Packing for a day trip the next day to visit my aunt and cousin 90 minutes away by car. Ali: "I'm gonna need another bag. Like you said, it's gonna be old people. I will need entertainment."

Jenna, a dental asst and I were talking about how Ali is tall and we are short. I said good things come in small packages. Jenna: "I'm not that good. You know me."

Ali: "When I grow up and am allowed to curse freely I am going to create an alphabet of curse words and post it on YouTube."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No means no!

So last week there was near universal agreement that I am a sleep-over pushover.

I'll take that. It's true.

I don't know if it's the idea of last week or what but I was much less agreeable this weekend. Ali had a sleepover Friday with Amanda, and they switched it up Saturday to be at our house.

Jeff and I had gone out Friday (after a Tuesday night date) again to Radio Radio for a concert. It was fun, but as we all know, I'm pretty boring and two concerts in the same calendar year, let alone week is way beyond the envelope for me.

Saturday, Ali had a belt advancment test at taekwando, I had a baby shower in the afternoon and Jeff had to work. That evening, I had a surprise birthday party and a last minute opportunity to see good friends who'd gotten sideswiped by summer and kids. Then, we had a request to have another child over on Sunday.

So I started the weekend a little bit worn out. The threesome of Alison, Amanda and Dominick is a good one, though it is generally fraught with sporadic fights and appeals to a higher being. And demands for candy. Lots of demands for candy.

Jeff had to work. It was a lovely Fall day, so I left the kids to the Wii and television and mowed the back yard. They had zero interest in seeing the Prodigal Sun.

I'd gotten the front yard done on Saturday and had no gym time at all, so I was happy to get outside. Afterward, I built a fire in the chimenae and settled in for a cozy read.

Two chapters in:

"Mo-om, can we go to Snappers?"


"Can we go to a bounce house? No! Laser Tag!"


"Mo-om, can we play in the car? We're bored. There's nothing to do."


Somehow Alison ends up in the car. Amanda and Dominic pound on the windows. "Miz Reed, will you unlock the car?"

In my head, I'm shouting, "Reading here!!!!"

In my voice, I say, "Alison, get out of the car."

The alarm starts blaring. I sigh. I go save the neighbors' hearing.

"Mo-om, can we roast marshmallows?"

"Sure. Go get them and the skewers."

"Where are they? I can't find them. Mo-om."

"Miz Reed, where are the skewers. Can I have some water?"

Then a game of tag ensues with the marshmallows as the prize. Finally, they start roasting. Which was hilarious. Many marshmallows were sacrificed.

I give up on reading. I suggest a walk into Broad Ripple to feed ducks.

"Nah. We don't want to go outside."

I leave them to their Pixos, TV, lap top and Wii. I check the paper. I check Facebook and email. I check on why Amanda suddenly fled to Ali's room, left Alison to referee the fight between the other two and denied requests for candy.

Later, bored again, they decide that walk would be a good idea afterall. I see them in the front yard and check downstairs. I force them to return to the family room, turn out lights, the TV and pick up three or four hours worth of crap and dirty dishes on the floor.

I grab the loaf of bread intended for the ducks. Alison wants to carry it. Dominic whines that he wants to have it. Sixteen steps onto the Monon Trail, Dominick informs me that it's too heavy. Could I carry it?

"That would be a negative," I say, shooing him along. He has one hand on the bread and the other holding up his pants. I shake my head. A third of the way there, I make him switch with one of the girls. They fight over who has to take it. Then, they fight over who gets to have it last.

Three-fourths of the way to the ducks, Amanda asks me when it's my turn to hold the bread. "That would be never," I say.

We get to the ducks. Dominic is afraid of the geese. Alison claims she'll protect him. Dominic eats some of the bread. Then says he needs some water. I tell him he can hold out til we get to Kroger. There's probably a water fountain there. (Turns out there isn't...)

We get to Kroger. They ask if we'll buy candy. Can we rent a movie? Can we get doughnuts? No. No. And no.

"What do you want for dinner? They shop. Dominic can't decide. I tell him the clock is ticking. We buy sweet Italian sausages for grilling. Dom is still pondering his culinary fate. I inform him that I can take him home and he can have dinner there.

Dominic discovers there's no water fountain. The girls try to hide from him in the store. Which means I can't find them either. I hate that game.

I get just enough food to feel my muscles flex. We set out for home. Dominic remembers that he left his jacket with the ducks. I sigh. We go back to the canal, retreive the jacket.

"Do we have to walk all the home?" he asks.
"Can we have sno cones?
Can we go to BRICs?"
"No. We're going home to have dinner, remember?" I say.

"Will dinner be ready when we get home?" Amanda asks me.

I took a deep breath, swung the bag of groceries that contained most of said dinner.

"Remember when we went to Kroger and we decided you'd have sausages and we bought them and put them in this bag right here?" I ask.

"Oh. So it won't be cooked, I guess," she said.


Actually it was a fun afternoon. They're more hilarious than they are annoying. And I was happy to have them here. In between the piles of boredom, they seemed to have a good time.

I, however, am exhausted and will soon be finding my bed, my book and a remote. Should anyone want anything else from me, I have one word...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hoark vs. Hike: you be the judge

Alison greeted the weekend on or about 12:30 a.m. by puking up our pasta dinner. I found her in the middle of the hall between her bathroom and bedroom. I encouraged her to get to toilet but she looked up at me, mewling, frozen there in the glow of her nightlight.

I'd rushed to the sound of her crying so I didn't have my glasses on. When she continued to resist my efforts to get her next bout contained in porcelain, I squinted a bit to see she was surrounded by vomit.

Yep. Puke to the left of us. Puke to the right of us. And more bubbling to the surface.

It was, shall we say, a tricky manoever to clear a path without succumbing to it all.

Jeff got up and helped with the clean up, but she spent the greater part of a couple of hours with pillows and a blanket in the bathroom. About 3:30 we moved to the couch. At 7:30 Jeff traded me spots.

Ugh. I'm glad that's over. Sunday dawned bright and warm and all traces of Saturday were done. She did a little gymnastic routine on the kitchen floor to convince me we could talk to the Ogdens and voila, a hike was born.

I have to say the end of the weekend was way better than the beginning.

Thinner but Boring

So I'm at a crossroads in a part of the country where I never thought I'd be and I might need some guidance.

Weight Watchers says I've reached and maintained my weight goal to the extent that they gave me a little gold key and pronounced me a Lifetime member.

I don't know quite what to do with myself now. I wonder if mountain climbers who reach the peak get up there and say, "Well, hell. What now?" like I'm doing right now.

I know it's not enough to reach this level. I have to stay here. I know full well that I have the capacity to backslide into the culinary sins of fried food and full-fat ice cream faster than a felon just released from prison where he discovered Jesus.

I'm tempted to set a new, lower goal because I've gotten used to my somewhat restrictive diet. I've perfected my whine. I am so used to trying to lose that the idea of maintaining scares the, uh, pumpkin out of me.

Most people at work don't even try anymore to convince me to try the yummy treats they bring in. (For this I am deeply thankful.) Jeff's been great and for the last three weeks has been a WW believer. He's so into it now (dropped 10 pounds in three weeks) that he's teaching me stuff and shopping for low-point stuff like a lo-cal champion.

Don't tell anyone, but Weight Watchers is not all that restrictive once you get past the desire for foods that, truth be told, aren't really all that great.

Sure, it's nice to think about pie and chocolate cake and piles of ice cream. Pizza. Lasagna. Al Fredo sauce. Pumpkin rolls.....ahhh pumpkin rolls... Donna's yeast rolls and butter. Bread sticks...

Sorry. Got distracted there for a minute. Sure I fantasize sometimes and breathe deep when someone's having fried chicken. But there are few things I've learned from my 22.5 months of Weight Watchers membership.

1. I like being thinner way more than I enjoy chocolate. I know! I wouldn't have believed it myself two years ago. But it's true.

2. While I will occasionally indulge in a Dexatrim when I will be faced with great temptation (parties, traveling, vacation) chemicals aren't the answer. There's no quick fix. It's eating less and exercising more until you get to a point where you don't dread shopping for swim suits or when you finally get to the point where you're just not going to go up another size.

3. I've never been addicted to drugs or alcohol but I do think sustained weight loss has got to be something close. And like other addicts, no one can make you decide to really kick the habit. You have to do it. And you have to do it for yourself.

4. The gym is not a torture chamber. Well, if it is, it's at least one you emerge from better than you when you entered. And once you get to a point where you don't flinch when you pass the mirrors, you're home free. Don't tell Kelsey Taylor but I get cranky when I don't get to go to the gym.

If I can just stay in my WW world and focus on eating, or not eating, I don't have to work on other areas of my life that could need improving. So here's where your guidance comes in.

I might be thinner than I've ever been in my life, but I'm B.O.R.I.N.G. and I need help to overcome it.

I need to develop an interest in something that will energize all of us in the TeamReed family, not eat into the gym time and not expose me to too much culinary temptation.

Temptation lies in bars, wine festivals, beer gardens and street fairs where there's more grease per square inch than oxygen. (See why I'm boring?)

It's getting colder, so hikes and bike rides will be getting scarcer. While I can drag Alison with me, she's even less inclined than I to brave the cold. She has inheirited, I fear, my exultation in the couch, a book and snacks.

Music is great. But it usually comes with beer. Maybe I start there. I'm taking Jeff to see Matthew Sweet this week for his upcoming birthday.

Maybe we should go to a concert every month. My smart friend Angela has season tickets to the local theater. It forces a date night. Maybe that? Both will involve wearing grown-up clothes and makeup, getting a sitter, a little 5-hour-energy.

I think I need an after-hours coach. I'm good with school stuff, work stuff, yard work, working out and getting through the dinner hour. It's the prime-time viewing hours and the weekends when I want to stay home and veg out.

If this keeps up, I'll be a thin old lady with no friends who's only activity is running out to catch the leaves when they fall on the lawn.

Is there a class for boring people?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sleepover Weekend!

We had an all-Jenna-all-the-time-weekend, so it's taken me a little bit of time to get things back in order. We got her Friday afternoon and reluctantly gave her back on Sunday evening. We would have LOVED to keep her longer. Although I'm not sure I could keep up the pace.

Sleepover Itinerary
* Friday pickup at school -- Jenna first so Ali could show her off at CKS.
* Ali was waiting in the 2nd floor window overlooking the parking lot when we got there.
* One block from home, I let them stand up in the car and poke their heads out the sun roof. You would have thought they were Princesses in the Indy 500 Parade.
* Papa John catered, Roderick from the Wimpy Kid amused and there was no need for me in the family room.
* Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful for Jenna's soccer game. We attended. Jeff paid attention and gave Tom a great play-by-play text, complete with pictures.
* It's possible that Alison and I might have read during times when Jenna wasn't on the field. It's been a while since Saturday and my memory is foggy.
* Sadly, the Azetecs were felled by the Falcons which meant we had all afternoon to play together instead of one of us having to focus on a white ball and all kinds of confusing rules.
* On the way home, we stopped in at the Farmer's Market and come home with pulled pork BBQ, mums, apples, pear tomatoes and pumpkins.
* We get home, snarf down the BBQ and some apples.
* We get on the bikes to feed the Broad Ripple ducks and visit Broad Ripple Ice Cream (BRIC)for dessert.
* Jeff makes us bike to 86th Street before he'll give the girls ice cream.
* On the way to ice cream, we spy a school of fish as we cross the river. At one point I thought they might actually have been rocks, but they did move around. We even saw some turtles splashing around and a hawk overhead. It was a brilliantly blue fall day -- the perfect temperature, Jenna claimed, for bike riding.
* We get home, just in time to get dressed again to visit the Jordan YMCA for swimming (girls and Jeff) and a workout for me.
* Jeff visited Kroger after I rescued him from the pool.
* The girls and I set a record tossing her giant tennis ball without dropping it --
171 catches. The lifeguard was not impressed.
* Back home again to find dinner and Harry Potter.
* Girls crash on the couch and don't move until Sunday morning dawns.
* Jeff trots off to basketball. Ali and Jenna are head to head on the couch watching something horrible or obsese cats on the laptop. Breakfast is unnecessary.
* I have coffee, read the paper and plant mums.
* Breakfast gets taken care of without me.
* By noon, we're back on the bikes bound for BR Nails and a pedicure courtesy of Miss Amy's suitcase surprise. "Are you sisters?" the pedicurist asked. "No. We're friends. Well, we're best friends."
* Properly pampered, we go back to the ducks with leftover cookies to share. To escape an aggressive goose, we move downstream. Our plan goes awry and inspires a mass migration from the flock when they figure out there are still cookies to be had. (Go west young duck!) The sky was full of feathers. It was pretty spectacular; well deserving of another visit to BRIC.
* Once home, the girls break out the paint and glitter and set about turning their pumpkins into a vampire and a black something or other.
* After lunch, the girls decide they need one last swim.
* When informed we'll be making another trip to the Y, Jeff informs me that we are not compelled to grant their every wish. I'm still mystified by that. It was a sleepover weekend! Someone needs to explain the sleepover rules to him, I guess...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And now we breathe

A hundred years ago, I was a news reporter covering the cops beat. Sometimes I had to go ask people questions after tragedy had struck, and it was the worst thing ever. More for them, I'm sure, than me.

I think that's when I learned to compartmentalize. I'm pretty sure the mental health professionals would say it's not a good thing to do. But I'm a black belt at it now, and I'm too old to stop putting fears and tears and thoughts of foreboding into their own little closets in my head.

Take the last couple of weeks, for example. Jeff had hurt his knee playing basketball and had finally gone to the doctor. I suspected a muscle or meniscus tear. Something painful but fixable with time and frozen peas. "Baby," he said, calling me after the doctor. "Don't freak out."

So of course I freaked out. Silently, because I was at work. But yeah. The loop was thrown.

"There was a strange shadow on the Xray. It could be nothing. It could be cancer. I'll need an MRI to know for sure."

I'm not exactly sure that's what he said because it all went to Charlie Brown's teacher speak as my mind spun into how Ali would deal with being half-an-orphan, how I'd deal with widowhood and whether he'd be buried in Indiana or Maine.

I mumbled something I hope was comforting as he ended the call saying we'd talk more at home. I shook my head, built a new mental closet with a really big lock and slammed the door.

I dealt with an employee resigning from my already too-small staff. I dealt with last minute details with my upcoming work trip that would end the day the MRI was scheduled. I might have talked to my boss and co-workers. Hell, I might have been interviewed by CNN. Who could say?

I'm not sure how Jeff made it through the next few days. He apparently has a few closets of his own.

Long-story short, the shadow turned out to be a bone spur. Probably has been there since his little bones first formed. That news was clearly delivered and received. Can we all say, "wahoo?"

So anyway, it's Sunday, we're all as healthy as we can be. I've deconstructed my latest mental clost -- no need for that box of worry to take up any more space.

Ali and Dominic are upstairs, waiting for Jeff to get back home with Amanda in tow. I'm downstairs.

I hear the creaking of the floor underneath my husband's heavy tread and his booming voice. He's home. My daughter is squealing as her friends surround her.

My little world is perfect.

Model Behavior

I was sitting on the couch the other day, minding my own business and occasionally wondering where my daughter was. We'd been joined at the hip since I'd gotten home late Tuesday night from a 4-day work trip that had robbed us of our weekend, but all of a sudden, she'd put down her book and disappeared.

Then, I heard a clunking noise coming at me. I looked up to see the child formerly known as Alison coming at me. "Hey, Mom. I've been in your closet. What you do you think of my look?"

When she was a toddler, Alison was forever wearing her dress up clothes, which consisted mostly of frilly skirts and silky tops with my cast-off heels and maybe even a hat or two. She'd drape herself in beads and trip around, more often than not forgetting that you could see her Dora the Explorer panties under her sheer net skirt. She'd dress up to go climb the tree in the front yard.

She's had had an interest in my jewelry closet for a while, but mostly as storage space for her collection. This was her first actual foray into my things.

I was, in equal parts, horrified and over-joyed.

I love my little tomboy.
I'm not sure I'm ready for a real girl, certainly not one who is so close to actually being able to wear some of my stuff.

Several of my heels fit her perfectly. The length on some of the skirts and dresses was actually nice. Unlike some of her girl friends, adolescent hormones have given Ali only a passing glance, so none of the dresses or blouses were form fitting. "If I don't hold on tight, you can see my junk," she said.

Wearing a little black dress with a bit of a plunge, she said: "Mom, why are their fake, uh, things in here?" she asked, clutching at the bodice.

"Well, sometimes a girl needs help," I said.

She's been wondering when she'll see some development, but the idea of "help" resulted in a big, "gak!"

She ended up calling a halt to the dress-up when her little Ogden friends called offering a sleepover. Jeff had gotten home by then and his reaction was 100 percent appalled.

"You know she's not that far off from actually wearing stuff like that," he said, as if he was a Navy Seal revealing government secrets to al Queda.

"Yeah. I know," I sighed. Happily for us, she returned in torn blue jeans and tee shirt, happy to kick a ball around in the yard with Alex. She hit the friends-over jackpot when Dominic called, so she's been tearing around with him for a couple of hours. Soon, Amanda will be here and I'll be needed only for food and drink.

But it'll be fun to hear them being silly kids. I'll get her back later and I'll snag every second I can.