Sunday, February 27, 2011

Class pig

Most of the sticky candy and gumballs have been eradicated as we edge closer to Alison's potential 2.5 years of braces. She has brackets on her teeth. Wednesday we get her all wired up. She had four teeth extracted last week to get ready.

Her lower lip had swollen last week to what seemed like 100 times it size, but she's all good now. Other than her ban from popcorn, gumballs and Laffy Taffy, she's fairly excited about the braces.

This weeekend was a first for us. We babysat for the 4th grade class's pet guinea pig, Cocoa. It was an experience that I missed in part due to Book Club and Bunco (thank the Lord.) Apparently at one point, it pooped either on or near the girls. Later, on Captain Reed's watch, the pig was out and crawling on the girls, who were zonked out on the couch.

Alison and I changed its bedding (ick) today and let it crawl around on us a while. It did not pee or poop on us, although it did nibble on my book. We fed it a carrot and that was kind of fun. I'd had a piece of peanut butter toast (4 points) and I think I had a little bit left on my fingers because the little pig liked me a lot. It kept crawling on my lap and nibbling on my fingers.

Ali wants one now, of course. While we were buying the new bedding, I wondered out loud what kind of clear ball it might like if we were so inclined to buy one so it could roll around the house without fear of flinging poop and pee and fur. Alison was totally affronted. "Cocoa is not an 'it,' Mom," she said.

On Saturday, she and Madison broke out a little chemistry set I'd bought her a while ago. They made a beaker full of some kind of flavored bubbly water and some other concoction that involved sugar and vinegar. Then, they were inspired and came up to the kitchen.

"We're going to make a volcano," they informed me.

"Uh," I said. "Where's the recipe for that?"

Alison rolled her eyes and kept gathering equipment. "Mom. It's a classic. We don't need a recipe."

Lo and behold they did it. Ali dragged out the vinegar and baking soda and they erupted about 10 volcanos in a row in the kitchen sink. It was hilarious.

The previous weekend, Ali and Amanda made a wreck of the family room with Littlest Pet Shops. Alison hasn't played with her Pet Shop village in I can't remember how long. But they had a blast.

When we took Amanda home to her (I'm not kidding) palatial estate, she and Alison were both bemoaning the return.

"I'll trade you houses," she said. "Your house is so fun."

I know the sentiment was rooted in going into a home where she wouldn't have a friend along, but Madison later said something fairly similar. And I'm vain enough to take comfort in it.

Don't tell Alison I'm that shallow....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Life rocks

I bought my husband a red velvet bag of rocks for Valentine's Day. Lest you look askance (as he did) at my selection for our anniversary/Valentine's Day celebration, I will explain.

The rocks are polished and etched on both sides. One side said, "I love you" and the other said, "because...." and gives pithy little reasons for said emotion. I grew up with a band of Pentecostals. They try to teach you how to talk to God; communicating well with the rest of the world is sort of left to you to figure out.

I remain a slow learner in this regard and I believe it's possible that my verbal expressions are sometimes interpreted as more strongly felt than is the case. In any event, I needed the damn rocks.

I'd been eyeing them for weeks. They're from Red Envelope and representative of the silly but sweet products the company often offers.

One Christmas, I gave Jeff a similar gift of metal collar tabs -- he'd been using the plastic ones that come with his shirts. These have little romantic messages, and it's one my all time favorite gifts to him. He's hard to buy for and this satisfied my desire for whimsy but met his need for practicality. (The hat rack I bought him in 2002 ranks high in my gift-giving infamy...)

In any event, I bring up the rocks only because they've got me thinking about all the different reasons for why I'm loving life these days. Here goes:

I love my friends because:

...We can disagree vehemently about immigration, whether country music rocks or not (it does), politics, religion and whether the need for good grammar has expired (it hasn't) and still love each other when the shouting quiets down.

...they know all of me and love me anyway.

I love my family (both sides) because:

...while they may shake their head from time to time, they haven't disowned me yet...

...they let an Indiana girl into their Down East circle and seem to want to keep me...

I love my daughter because...

...she is 100 percent herself, even when she sees that she could try to conform to fit in better...

...she likes hanging out with me and will even still reach for my hand on occasion...

...she makes me work harder to be the person she thinks I already am...

I love my husband because...

...he makes me slow down and appreciate the beauty around us and within that little girl...

...he is a wonderful (if somewhat discipline-fixated) father...

...he doesn't turn the station when I'm listening to country music...

...he's carrying around a polished rock in his pocket, laughing ever so quietly at his silly, often inarticulate wife...

The photo today is of Ali and her friend, Amanda, who's new to school this year. They had a play date Saturday that turned into a sleepover. We capped it off with a visit to BR Nails. It's tough to be a little girl these days. I'm sure I was at least in my 20s if not 30s before I had professional nail care. And I had to walk uphill in the snow (both ways) to get it, too!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2 sloths, a work horse and some expired squirrels

I joked yesterday that Alison and I were sloth-like. We morphed into slugs on Sunday -- neither of us feeling very well. Which I guess might explain our Saturday behavior, too.

Jeff picked up the slack for us, though, and our neighbors, too. While a bit of water is already seeping through our foundation, he spent most of the afternoon and evening digging ice trenches so the melt would have reason to go away rather than inside the house. He dug a trench down the drive and along the street, even digging out the storm drain.

He's going to deserve a very nice anniversary/Valentine's gift. Maybe he'll get it early if my apparent recovery actually takes hold.

Tomorrow starts Alison's foray into braces. I take her for a consult to the tooth-puller and on Tuesday Jeff takes her to the orthodontist for spacers. On the 21st, she'll have four teeth pulled. In early March she'll get her braces. Sounds fun, aye?

In a non-dental aside, Alison was passing by the wall of pictures the other day and brought up one from my very early years. It's my siblings and me with my Dad showing off a squirrel harvest. Each of the kids is holding a dead rodent by the tail as if they were Christmas or birthday presents. It's straight out of Appalachia.

She questioned why we were holding dead animals and I tried to explain that it was a big deal and that the picture was representing what a good hunt and a good day it had been.

"It wasn't a good day for the squirrels," she muttered.

Yeah. She's a city girl....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow on the roof; fire in the belly

There's a reason I buy Jeff Cap'n Crunch breakfast cereal: no matter what the calendar says, he's still a 12-year-old boy.

Take today, for example. He heads off to basketball, I dawdle in bed a bit (Ali was at a sleepover) then head to the grocery and the gym. The gym doesn't open until 11 or I'd have gone there first. I left a note for him to call me when he got home, thinking two things: 1. I want to be sure someone's here to receive the girl when she returns and 2. I want to be sure he's not going to do anything dumb.

Like climb upon on the roof when no one is home to call 911 when he falls. The whole state of Indiana is covered in ice, so there was no safe place to put his fancy new birthday ladder. But he's been itching to use it and he's been eyeing the 4-6 inches of snow that landed on top of the ice layer yesterday, wondering if our roof can take the abuse.

Sure enough, I call him back to learn he's on the roof. Yeah. He's home alone. And he's talking ON THE PHONE from the ice-covered roof.

I sigh. I step on the gas. I get home to find Alison has returned only to go next door to help the little girl there scrape a circle in the snow. They're not practicing witchcraft; they've uncovered an ice rink and are skating happily around.

I go back home after answering the, "Come over here, Mom, you gotta see!" call. I'm three steps down the walkway to the porch when I hear overhead, "Oh shit!"

And down comes Jeff. Luckily, he'd used his three seconds of realization that he was in a free fall to land, cat-like in the huge pile of snow that we've been adding to over these last few frozen weeks. Lucky for him it wasn't one of the one with ice blocks from the driveway.

I look at him. He looks at me. And grins.

I think he wanted to do it again! I waited just enough time to learn whether he'd shattered anything before I turned around and got my own shovel. While I considered piling up a perimeter of snow cushions around the house, I decided he'd probably learned his lesson. I just cleared the piles he'd been pushing from the roof.

While up on the roof, Jeff was still wearing the body armor he's taken lately to wearing at basketball. It helps shield his back and other tender parts from the young guns he plays with. I think he'd taken off his knee brace, which is high tech but squeaks when he moves.

Because he doesn't play with his hearing aids in, he's not fully aware of just how squeaky he is when he has that brace on. He has an inkling, though, because they've taken to calling him "Tin Man" on the court.

I think they should come over and watch his roof dismount. I wonder what they'd call him then....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Puzzle Please

The other day, Alison asked me if I wanted to play with her. Like a good mom, I dropped what I was doing and said, "Of course I do!"

We put a puzzle together. That led to another puzzle. And then another. And before you knew it, we had nine puzzles laid out in a colorful pathway along the family week.

It's not that we're puzzle freaks or anything. The puzzle boxes have been stacked up neatly, ignored for months. But circa Puzzle No. 6, as we passed pieces back and forth and, well, puzzled over where this one should go and whether we'd lost a piece, Ali murmuerd, ""I like hanging out with you like this, Mom."

That easily got me through Puzzle Nos. 6-9. In fact, I wish we had a couple more. As Alison pointed out, we do have room.

It took us a couple of weeks to finish them all. Along the way we had help from Alex and Hannah and even a little bit from Dad. We finished the last one tonight. Today's ice day helped. She was off all day. I got released at 2 p.m.

We're going to snuggle a little bit now and I'm going to hope the whole city is shut down tomorrow and no one has to go to work.

If I get to stay home tomorrow, I don't know that I'll tear up the puzzles and start all over again just to keep her engaged with me instead of the television or the Wii.

She beat us both at SlapJack after dinner. Maybe I'll teach her euchre...