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...