Monday, February 27, 2012

And the winner is...

Jeff and I walked the red carpet Sunday night. Really.

The red carpet was downtown-ish Indianapolis rather than the Kodak theatre in California, but there WAS a red carpet at Clay Miller's annual Oscar party. We haven't managed to get there for the last few years, but I'm holding firm to my plan to be less boring this year.

So we dressed up. Black tie was encouraged, and I modeled a few dresses for Ali and Jeff, trying to decide what to wear. As I modeled, I was wearing my glasses, no makeup and my hair was scraped back and up into a ratty ponytail. So I was a vision.

"Uh. Mom. You might want to think about wearing a bra if you're going to wear that one," advised my shorter fashionista.

When I drove Ali over to the Ogdens where she hung out while we were gone, I hadn't made a final decision about what to wear. I was not looking any better, either. The Ogdens don't live far. I was wearing my bedroom slippers, an old sweatshirt of Jeffs and my own yoga pants, hoping I wouldn't have car trouble or run anyone over.

Around 10 or so, when I picked Alison up, I'd spent some time with every heating implement in the house short of the stuff in the kitchen. I'd forgotten how hard it is to be a girl, but after a shower, a hair dryer with straightening serum, two flat irons with straightening spray, a wide-barrel curling iron and a set of hot rollers, I had my rats nest of hair into some reasonable shape. But I still had a long row to hoe, if you know what I mean.

I'd discovered some gold heels in Alison's abandoned dress-up drawer. The last time I remember wearing them was at a Christmas party at the Governor's residence hosted by Frank and Judy O'Bannon. It seemed appropriate then that I wore the vintage gown....

Jeff dragged out a bow tie, a newly tailored suit and we were off. I'd forgotten how a well-made gown feels swirling around your legs. And when one of the guest -- a sweet elderly woman I'd never met -- leaned over to tell me, "You have the best costume on here, dear," I decided the effort was worth it.

It was a lot of fun. When we went to pick Ali up, we were still in the Oscar finery, of course. Her reaction: "Oh my gosh, Mom. What did you DO to your hair."

Never mind that she's shanghaied me lately into straightening HER rats nest....She relented though and agreed it wasn't too awful.

We'd spent the previous evening freezing our toes off watching Drew Tokash play hockey. While our toes were cold, it was fun trying to keep up with the boys on ice and catching up with Amer, Lyn and Ginny Reed, Amer's mom.

The girls went black light ice skating. Or to hear Alison tell it, she spent the night falling on her bum. Somehow falling with a friend there to pick you up takes the sting out of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A bowl full of trouble-flavored jelly

Over the weekend, Jeff and I were honored to attend our friend, Pam's, wedding. We're very happy for her and her new love, Sean, but I was a little shocked at part of the vows.

It went really heavy on the "the husband is the head of the house and you will submit to his leadership," stuff.

Now I'm not judging. If Pam wanted that verbiage (and she wasn't visibly or audibly traumatized by the words as Jeff claims I was) and it makes her happy, then I'm all for it.

For her, mind you. Pam is an adult. An attorney. She's smart and strong enough to have withstood a lot in her life. But truly, if she's OK with it, then I'm OK with it for her.

On the other hand, I don't really want stuff like that to spread, so I when I reported on the wedding to Alison, I gently broached the subject of the vows.

She said, "Well you know, Mom. Everyone doesn't have to take the same exact vows."

"Right you are!" I said, so proud of my little, open-minded child.

And so then I told her how Jeff and I like to think of our marriage as a partnership rather than having one person in charge and bossing the other one around all the time. She thought about that a while and then brought our conversation back to a dispute she was having with her father over her Jelly Belly supply.

Aunt Margaret had recently blessed Alison with a gi-normous box of Jelly Belly jelly beans. It was huge, and Alison had re-arranged the little compartments into a rainbow color spectrum, light to dark. Problem was, she'd sampled along the way and now feels she's light on some colors. When she and her father were at CVS getting some medicine for her cough, she spied a bag of Jelly Bellies and asked if he'd get them for her.

"Don't you think you have enough?" he asked.

She went into great detail about her deep need for certain colors and even offered to reimburse him. He declined.

"So after he didn't listen to my reasons, then I started jumping up and down and saying, "please! please!"in between the bounces. I did that for about five minutes," she said.

"How'd that strategy work for you?"

"Well. It annoyed him."

Right. It also solidified his answer, which he had later relayed to me. As did she. I told her that I knew he'd said no already. She'd reminded me that he'd said no already. So my answer was going to have to be no. And here's where my fight for women's rights and independence came back to bite me in the ass.

"But Mom. Didn't you say you didn't take that vow to let him boss us all around?" she asked.

I bit my lip. Hard. And then I said, "Well yes, but remember that we have a partnership? And if he already said no, then I need to back him up."

"Huh," she said. "Well, I could always just walk the two miles to the CVS and buy my own candy. Or I could ride my bike."

I bit down a little bit more.

"Hey, Mom. How do I get to CVS from the Monon Trail?"

I laughed. I couldn't help it. "I don't think I'm going to tell you that," I said.

"Well. I AM going to Miss Amy's soon. Maybe I'll just get them then," she said.

We are in so much trouble...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

When I started flipping off the porcine survivors and calling them names I learned from Joe Baker, I knew I should stop playing Angry Birds.

I'd resisted the game for a long time. Alison had loaded it on my phone and iPad as soon as she knew I could connect to the silly thing. I rolled my eyes and let her. When she got her own iPad the birds were among her first e-purchase. She rattled on for days about the Mighty Eagle that was going to elevate her Angry Birds experience.

More eye rolling from me. I don't know why I tried it the other day. But I did. My version should be called "Happy Pigs" instead of "Angry Birds". It's soooooo frustrating!!!! The pigs laugh at you when you don't blast them to smithereens. Even if you give them black eyes, they still laugh at you unless you kill them dead.

Aside from my foray into the world of electronic malcontents, we've been settling back into our normal life since our trip. We got lucky and scored a pair of Ogdens last night, with Hannah dropping in first and Alex coming along sweaty from a basketball game.

I've known Hannah since she was in pre-school. She's so close to a grown up now it's almost heart breaking. At dinner there was a tiny moment when she said something or did something that made me think I was seeing a freeze frame flash-forward when she'll be a young woman.

She was talking about a little girl who'd had her first acting experience in Hannah's acting group. The little girl was struck silent when she was called on to perform and Hannah's impression of her was classic. Her blue eyes grew to the size of her dinner plate and you could just see the terror.

It was so hilarious, it made Alison emit more than laughter. And then, of course, she had to share, "I once farted, sneezed and laughed all at the same time."

Hannah's eyes got plate-sized again and she gasped: "I have always been afraid to do that because my Dad said if I did that I would EXPLODE!!!!"

We all dissolved into a giggle fest. When we could talk again we got back on the subject of stage fright, which prompted Alison to try to explain her spider phobia. She claimed she was once trapped in a bathroom and Alex had a spider he was trying to throw on her. I cried foul. That was my story and it involved a snake and my brothers.

"Were there two of him?" I asked her, squinting at her suspiciously. Hannah laughed because she knows my trapped-in-the-bathroom story, too. You could almost see the wheels turning in Ali's head as she tried to put out the fire on her pants.

Alex came in right about then, saving Alison from having to explain herself. The three of them entertained themselves until bedtime and then chased each other around this morning until Karin came to take them to church. I haven't seen them since.

They apparently came home while I was at the gym but Jeff was in the shower and didn't hear them come in. Ali and Alex decided to be spies and try to sneak in and out without alerting him. She did leave him a note to tell him she was at Alex's doing homework.

While she will depart from the literal truth for dramatic effect, she's a pretty good kid. Her grandfather sent her a Valentine with a $10 bill in it. She caught it as it fluttered out and said, "I know just where Mr. Hamilton is going."

I thought she had a iTunes gift card or candy in mind. Jeff was certain she was thinking of her portion of the iPad she still owes him.

"I'm going to give this to Hoops for Hearts," she said. It's an annual drive at school for heart research. In years past, she's jumped rope for hearts. Fifth graders get to shoot hoops. I'm sure she'll be hitting up some of you for donations, but she's seeding it with her first valentine of the year. How great is that?! Sure she might tell a whopper here and again, but she's got a good heart.

Later today, she will make cookies for her valentines at school. Her decorating expertise has been called to service by her friend Madison, who wants her to also help decorate cupcakes for the other 5th grade class. They're trying to turn it into an overnight, but I have no official confirmation of it.

Should it occur, it will be fortuitous for the mister and me. We'll celebrate 14 years of wedded bliss on Tuesday. OK, maybe every second of those years hasn't been exactly blissful. But we haven't killed each other, so that's something. I'm still hoping he'll keep me.

But let's not get mushy.
I have pigs to kill.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I've had worse things in my mouth than Alison's donuts.
* Dirt.
* Beans.
* A hickory nut worm

The worm was a trick played on me in my childhood. And you didn't believe me when I said I was raised by wolves. It was my father who tricked me.

Seriously, though, the donuts weren't bad. As Uncle James called it, "baked donut = tiny cake."

And they were very, very pretty.

A good day's work.

Time to make the donuts

Uncle James, you might be in trouble....Alison had decided to take on donuts.

I'm not sure what put her on the trail, but this morning, she came up asking where her recipe book is. She's got an assortment of smoothie recipes, something called Hobo Lunch and omelettes from her week of cooking camp. She apparently thought it needed bulking up.

I have yet to find a good spot for all of our cookbooks, which used to live on shelves beside our old refrigerator. The new one has eaten up that space.

So we found her book so could organize and add to it. She had her earbuds hooked onto her iPad and was writing down recipes. I didn't have the heart to tell her just to bookmark them. She was so into it.

She had even found for a recipe that would make healthy donuts. Or healthier, I guess. This version calls for baking the donuts rather than deep frying. And, um, no lard, either.

Today's culinary experiment has involved one trip to the store for castor sugar and more flour already. Instead of full cream milk, we used 2 percent and fat-free half-and-half. But real butter.

I'll update after the taste test. And probably another trip to the store for icing decor.

Right now, the dough is resting in the fridge. I'm fairly certain I've never had a baked donut before. I'm betting that I won't have to worry about the points value.....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Can you say "Super?"

It's been a busy few weeks. Good. But busy. Even Super at times.

Jeff and I went to Puerto Rico on a long weekend work trip. (Yes. I know. And yes, it was just as great as you're thinking.) Ali spent four days with the Ogdens while we were gone, who achieved a whole new level of friend for their good care of her and their willingness to just let her slide into the family.

I asked my notorious eater how it was. Mostly, it was terrific.

"But Mom. There was ONE thing."


"I had to eat chicken Pot PIE!!!."

"No!" I shared in her agony because it's a dish she truly hates. "But you ate it, right?" I asked.

"Oh yeah. I ate it," she said. "Blech."

That's a testament to how much she loves Karin.

In Puerto Rico, we had so much fun I forgot I had the camera along. And yes, I wore the two-piece. No one vomited within my eye-sight.

Since we've been back, Jeff has had that procedure all 50-year-old men should have. Alison was fascinated and talked about it for days. It's a perfect conversation starter for the 10-year-old set. I would relay all of the conversations we had over dinner, but Jeff has asked for discretion. (He's just fine, by the way.)

As you might expect from Christ the King School, the kids pray daily. Alison apparently was more concerned about her father than we'd realized. Alison told Jeff that Mr. Feeser had gotten curious. "Alison, you've asked to remember your dad and his surgery a few times now. What exactly is happening?"

"My Dad says I shouldn't talk about it," she said, regretfully. I think she relayed the conversation to prove that she'd really followed his wishes and was hoping he'd let her do the full reveal once it was over. No luck there, but a good try.

It's Superbowl weekend and Indianapolis has been going more than crazy over it for a a while. It's been fun to be here. We went down to Superbowl Village Wednedsday and like many other irresponsible parents, we kept Ali out a little past her bed time. We didn't see any celebrities but the crowd was amazing and it's just gotten bigger every day.

Jeff would have moved downtown and stayed there, I think. Once we realized we'd never get through the que for the zip line, Alison hopped around looking for superbowl logo images that were scattered throughout the party area. She found most of the teams but she liked the IMPD horse patrol better than everything except maybe the Xbox exhibit.

Alison asked me to straighten her hair for school on Friday. Taming the curls is an ordeal every day; actually eliminating them is an involved process. It generally takes at least an hour plus touch-up the next day. We haven't done it since the first day of the school year, and I was game. I started with the hair dryer and a pile of product.

A few minutes into it, I hear, "Uh. Mom. Does that hair dryer have to be so loud?"

"Yes. Ali. Yes it does."

She was happy with the final product despite the loudness and heat of of the tools.

I kind of owed her the attention because earlier in the week I'd had one of those days. And here's where having a great husband and great kid can save a person. Jeff took care of dinner and I crawled into bed.

Alison, a compassionate soul, crawled in next to me and read me Angry Bird comic strips from her iPad.

Now THAT was super.