Saturday, May 21, 2011


The second attempt at getting her ears pierced proved the charm for Alison. Stephanie is her new best friend, and I'm sure they'll be seeing each other in exactly six weeks from now when Ali can take out her new starter earrings out and shop for new jewels.

My offer to photographically document the experience was firmly declined or I'd show you Stephanie -- the certified piercer at the Castleton Square Mall Claire's location. I highly recommend her should you need a hole in your body, or that of a loved one.

She remembered Ali from her first try at the chair. Sure it was less than 24 hours since our first visit, but still. She greeted Ali like a long lost friend, asked if she still wanted the blue daisies, and was really great with her throughout the process.

God knows if I had the same job there would be countless ungrateful brats with uneven holes in their ears and maybe a few other scars. And I'd be in prison. But thankfully I don't have to deal with other children.

Ali is thrilled. As we pulled into the driveway, two neighbhorhood girls were in the drive across the street waving wildy. Ali leaned out the window, yelling, "Maddie, guess what I just did!" She was shouting the answer out the window as Maddie and Melanie came running up the drive. I thought she was going to leap out the window. I'd barely gotten the Subaru stopped before she out the door and showing off her sparkling ears.

"It didn't hurt hardly at all!"

It's truly a sea change for her. After we left Claire's, we ran around the shops looking for princess dresses for Angie and me. It's the annual Angie's List derby and we're on team Mario Kart and we have to dress up. Angie is Princess Peach. I'm Daisy. I'm on finding the dresses duty.

We ended up at TJ Maxx looking for clearance prom-like dresses. While I flipped through the merchandise, Alison bounced a 25-cent ball from the gumball rack, losing track of it every other bounce. She spent a good portion of her time crawling under the racks looking for it -- that's the Ali I know.

She hates to shop. Unless its for video games or ice cream. She'll spend a good amount of time in a book store, but she's never had much interest in clothes, or makeup or jewelry or girly things.

After battling her way from beneath a rack of maxi summer dresses, she asked if she could go to the girls' section. Not five minutes later, she came running back at me with six hangers of clothes she thought she might need and before we left, she was simpering down the aisle trying on a pair of stiletto heels.

I bought her a few tee-shirts with glammed up cats on them. The heels went back on the shelf. She didn't spare a glance for dresses or mini skirts. Yet. Eeek.

I only wanna learn this once.

Alison announced this week that she wants to get her ears pierced.

After I got up off the floor and righted my chair, I said, "Really?"

To-date her interest in all things girly has been below zero. When she was little she loved dresses and was often found in the front yard magnolia wearing her mesh tutu and dangly little top, Dora the Explorer panties exposed to the world.

But for the last two years it's been pants, pants, pants. She has to be cajoled to bathe, and she continues to have zero interest in grooming her own hair. Or any other body parts for that matter. She likes snakes and can't wait for the day at overnight camp when they play in the mud all day long.

As for romance, other girls are always whispering about their latest crush. Ali wants nothing to do with that kind of behavior. (Her father is openly thrilled at everything but the hygiene parts of her wants and desires.)

So she might as well have told us she was joining the circus or hatching a tiny dinosaur when she hit us with the ear piercing thing. Jeff isn't happy about it but he agreed to surprise her Friday with a joint pickup from school and a trip to the mall and the ear-piercing gun.

She was so excited, but truly nervous about the pain. So we get there. She gets in the chair and asks to see the gun. She gulped. Her little hands got sweaty. She got tears in her eyes and it was over.

We'll go back when she's ready. While milling about at the Broad Ripple Art Fair today and viewing some pretty swanky earrings, she declared herself ready to face the chair again. She talked it all over with a lady who sells earrings and two ladies who sat across from us while she had her chicken strips. She's very earnest when she interviews these random strangers. "Does it bleed when you get your ears pierced? Does it hurt? How long does it hurt?"

She's asked me to keep her in the chair no matter what. "I'm gonna suck it up and just do it, Mom. Let's do it."

Cross your fingers. There may be an update to this saga...but first...

While still reeling from the specter of a pierced child, I heard Ali ask Jeff what 'hump' meant. They were at the dinner table and I was in the kitchen getting a jump on dinner cleanup.

I know when to stay out of things. So stayed put.

He tried the "it'a bump" routine. I knew that wasn't going to work but I discovered a spot of pasta sauce that needed scrubbing so I stayed where I was.

"No. Dad, the other meaning," she said.

The artful dodger, he's not. "Where are you hearing this? Who is using this word?"

Of course it was kids at school. I thought about rescuing him only to hear him take a deep breath and say, "Well Ali that word sometimes is used as slang and means when a mom and dad try to make a baby.

"You mean S-E-that-letter-that-comes-before-Y?"

I could just hear his heart fall out of his chest. I'm pretty sure he fainted for just a little bit.

I came back to the room, laughing just a little. "Do you mean sex, honey?

She blushed and said yes, but reminded us that she's only in fourth grade and didn't really want to know any details about, you know, "that."

I reminded her that it would soon be covered at school. She nodded and acknowledged that she wasn't thrilled about the impending lesson.

I took my own deep breath and said, "Well, do you want to learn about it at school or from us?"

There was no hesitation. "School,"she said. "I only want to learn this once."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Urban gardening

Ali and I spent part of Saturday working in the Angie's List Garden. Ali likes to go because she gets to play in the gym when she gets bored with the dirt. And when she's really lucky, she finds some of the stray cats that have been adopted by the company.

The garden is a fun project led by Kelsey Taylor, our wellness director/trainer. She's not exactly what you would call a country girl, but she's serious about health and is dragging a bunch of us along with her.

She's the person who re-introduced me to my muscle tone and keeps me focused when I want to wander off the work-out reservation. I figure I owe her a few hours in the garden. I may have saved her life Saturday when she picked up a wire that was hanging from the electrical power lines and was encroaching on the garden plot. Well, I didn't exactly save her life. She ignored me when I warned her that she could get zapped if she touched that thing. And it didn't zap her. I still think it was a bad idea to touch it, and I think I might have to ask the Facilities crew what the heck it's doing out there...

Anyway, we dug the garden for the first time last year. This year, we have a bumper crop of Garden Club members, and we had it whipped into shape in record time. It's a little strip of green between parking lots on the edge of Indianapolis' downtown within the Angie's List campus. It always seems like such a little space. Until we get the shovels out. Then it grows by an acre or two.

The first photo is the beginning. Ali and I had to leave before the final box was installed, but this is fairly good look at where we left things.

I'll update you as it goes along. If you're in town this summer and need a little healthy snack, stop by. We might let you snag a little snack. Kelsey might make you do a push-up or two, but it'll be worth it.

We had dinner last night with Judy and Ken Beech, two transplants from Trinidad and parents of Amanda, Alison's best girlfriend at school. They are a hoot. Judy rules her kitchen and watching Jeff worm his way into an apron and manning a skillet was a lesson in covert operations. Another guest who's known them for years was in awe. He just kept saying, "Nobody cooks in Miss Judy's kitchen but Judy."

I spent 90 minutes in the gymn this morning trying to work off the chocolate cake, fried plantains and a rice dish that was the most amazing grain that ever slipped into my mouth. I asked her how she made it and she said, "Oh it's a bit of spices in the pot and some raisins and some corn."

I glared at her. "You don't have a recipe, do you?"

She laughed. "Oh no. I just put this in and that it. It's how we do it."

So I'll never have that rice again unless she invites us back. I'm hoping Jeff's encroachment was actually received as well as it seemed and that Kevin's repeated "Nobody cooks in Miss Judy's kitchen.." was not as life-altering as it seemed to him.

Alison stayed over with Amanda and has yet to make an appearance back here. While she was to have attended church, there was some indication that Miss Judy was taking the girls to the mall. Wish me luck that she'll actually come back home.

Miss Judy has more tricks up her sleeve than her fabulous cooking, and I suspect she may have a genetic connection to the Pied Piper...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Party Central

We've had two straight days of partying here at Chez Reed between Mothers Day and Alison's birthday, most of it overseen by Godzilla.

The inflatable monster was actually a wedding gift Jeff and I got from Eric and Tracy Yocum, who I think were cleaning their garage when they said, hey, let's add this to the pile! (They gave us an incredibly generous "real" gift, as well.) We use the All Clad more often than we let Godzilla out, but Ali loves the silly thing. She found it once in its original box downstairs and I think he's come out at every birthday since.

She likes to position it at the front door to greet people.

The poor thing has a slow leak, so sometime before she went to bed, Ali put the couch cushions under its head as it wilted on the living room floor.

So we've been serving up nothing but straight fun for 5 days now. Alison's birthday was Thursday but Jeff had to work so we had her dinner on Wednesday; she opened her family gifts Thursday morning followed up by her annual "It's-my-birthday-have-a-doughnut!" extravaganza. She shares with her class and some extra teachers and friends. Most kids bring in cookies or cupcakes but she doesn't like them. So she brings in yeast doughnuts. This year, we expanded into half of them being chocolate iced because so many of her friends like chocolate.

So we get the sugar to school and I go off to work. She and I laid around like dogs that night, resting up for a Friday sleepover with her friend Amanda and then her party at Laser Flash Saturday. It turned out that a handful of her party friends came over after, (some came early) and Amanda slept over again. I tried really hard to resist the Dairy Queen blizzard cake, but failed miserably. There's still half of it in the freezer downstairs next to my Costco box full of Skinny Cow ice cream. There's a reason "skinny" is not part of the Dairy Queen brand.

I'm not sure how I'm going to trick my taste buds into liking the Skinny Cow stuff again. But that cake has got to get out of my house.

Sunday brought Mothers Day and another pile of presents, including the new Sookie Stackhouse book, high-class coffee and an iPad.

Jeff had agreed to spend part of his Tuesday (Election Day)off work finishing up Alison's birthday shopping. Instead, he called me at work to tell me he's messed up our computer network at home and needed all my passwords again to fix it. He said he'd been trying to fix the thing for hours. I don't remember if I relayed my frustration to him, but I hope I kept it to myself.

Because, as it turns out, he was lying his butt off and calling me from the Apple store where he was loading up the iPad. Our plan is to give Ali the laptop, which she steals every chance she gets. But we can't do that until I figure out how to get my photos from the camera to the iPad.

What do you think I'll read first -- Sookie or the iPad book?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

One Fish, Two Fish...

Our very good friends Duane and Kirsten Jasheway agreed to take care of Alison's fish while we were on our vacation in paradise over spring break. Duane was such a good fish fellow. He came by. He probably had conversations with Cody, the Betta who has refused to give up the ghost.

Cody came to us about three years ago and despite my over feeding him, chilly Indiana water and a few weeks when his tank didn't get as clean as it probably should have, he swam happily, albeit silently, around in his little circles. Ali had a book about a kid who trained his fish to jump through a hoop. She claimed to have tried that. The best we got out of Cody was he'd sometimes laze around on a plastic leaf Jeff got talked into buying. Like a fish needs a hammock...

Actually for the first years of Cody's life with us we called him Grace and thought he was a girl. I don't know how we discovered he was a boy and needed a name change, but one day Alison insisted that she was a he and thus deserved a male name.

So there was Duane keeping his vigil. And on the last day of our vacation in paradise, poor Duane went to visit Cody to find him belly up. This is a trick Grace/Cody had pulled on us a time or two. But he wasn't fooling around with Duane. Fancy hammock or no, he had checked out.

Duane was beside himself. He confessed via phone. Jeff got the news at the airport, less than an hour before we would have found the corpse on our own. He may have shed tears. He was really concerned about Alison's reaction. She did cry, and she was truly sad for a little while.

I removed the fatality from her room but didn't know if I should give Cody a solitary, swirling good bye without her. For all I knew, she'd insist on a burial and a color guard. So I did what any good mother would do: I put him in a Ziplock and stashed him in the freezer.

Informed of his whereabouts, his owner was outraged. Initially I thought she was annoyed on Cody's behalf. He was a tropical fish, after all. The deep freeze was kind of not his scene.

Apparently I'd given my daughter more compassion credit than she deserved.

"Mom! That's totally gross. I don't want a dead fish in the freezer with my pizza rolls and tater tots!" she said.

"Well he's in there with a lot of other dead meat," I said, defensively.

"Nice, Mom. Reeeeeel nice," she said.

So Cody, still securely zipped, went into the trash, and that was that. For her birthday, we're thinking of getting her a small aquarium where she can have a couple fish. We were at The Reef checking things out and the nice lady there was pointing out her heartiest crop. Alison liked the most colorful, which, as you might expect, aren't the most hardy of the lot. The lady was delicate in her description.

Jeff interjected. "Honey, what she's saying is those fish are going to die quicker than these. Do you really want those?"

"Uh. Maybe not," she said, looking at the longer lasting ones. The good news is that we'll be able to get two fish to frolic together if we get a big enough tank and if we're careful about the type of fish.

Later, we were in the car and I was telling Ali that we might have dinner soon with Team Jasheway and I reminded her that Duane was still concerned about her. "Oh Mom. It's OK. I know he didn't mean it and Cody was an old fish. Besides, I might be getting new fish," she said.

She later put those thoughts into a little note for Duane just to be sure he knew he was still in her favor. And for that, I take full credit. Witness, if you will, the conversation she had with her father just after she'd expressed her forgiving nature.

"But Alison, you're missing a great opportunity. You could probably pretend you're still sad and get Mr. Jasheway to give you all kinds of stuff," he said.

"Dad!" she exclaimed. "For a lawyer, you're not being very honest. You're trying to get me to bribe him!"

I advised her that it was more akin to extortion. Jeff suggested blackmail, which led to a discussion of definition.

All Ali knew was that her father was up to no good. One of these days I'm going to define "lawyer" to her...