Monday, May 28, 2012

Vroom! Vroom!

Dario Franchitti might have won the Indy 500, but Team Reed won in the kid sweepstakes this year when we got to keep Alex Ogden for most of the holiday weekend. Alison and Alex have been pals since their Day Nursery days and they're just hilarious to be around. They have a lot of common interests - video games, Harry Potter, anything involving bouncing, water sports and even (gulp) guns that shoot soft darts and bee bees. They call each other when they get too far a field of the truth when recounting stories and they back each other up when they're trying to wheedle their way toward something. I fall for the one-two punch of Alison's plea and Alex's sweet smile almost every time. The captain is a harder sell. But they get him, too. We got Alex on Saturday. I was finishing up another weeding/mowing tour of duty and Alison was wasting energy practicing her TaeKwonDo kicks in between cartoons while she awaited his arrival. Jeff was off fixing an issue with his Friday surprise for me. (more on that later.) So I'm in the yard, dripping with sweat and covered in yard waste and dirt when Karin, Dale and Hannah show up. Alison runs out, grabs Alex and they disappear into the house with a "See ya later." The Ogdens depart for their various parts unknown and I finish up in the yard. Not a peep do I hear from Ali and Alex. I did have the presence of mind to tell them not to play with Alex's BB gun without Jeff or me around. "Awww Mom." We were planning a trip to Jasonville to celebrate Acacia's high school graduation, but we were stalled a bit. I'd spent the day at work for our annual Derby Day. My team had a Hunger Games them and once again we were robbed by the judges and didn't win. But we had fun. Ali had tattooed me up so I could look like Glimmer, a character who gets killed but does a lot of killing herself before her tracker-jacker end. I guess I had stolen my boss's crossbow as one of my props. It might have contributed to our loss, but it was totally in my character's character. (Not my own, of course...) Anyway, I'm coming home from work, sweaty, tattooed and wearing braids when I check on Jeff and Ali. "What's up?' "Well, I'm here talking to Jen about a Mustang convertible," he said. At first I thought he was talking about Auntie Jen. But no. We'd been talking about trading in our Honda. It had served its time well. But I hadn't really thought he was so close to it. We'd even talked about my hope and dream of one day having a convertible again. I'd gotten to fat when pregnant with Alison to fit into my Honda del Sol. For 11 years now, I've been driving "mom" cars. I'm happy being a mom. Love it, actually. But mom cars are like mom jeans. You might need them, but you don't really want them. I have managed to escape the minivan, which might have ground my spirit right into the ground, so there's that. Anyway, Jeff says he doesn't need me and that he and Ali will continue to shop. So I bike up to the gym to work out. I deliver a sno-cone maker to my friend Tina. I recycle. I start a little laundry. No word from Jeff and Ali. I decide I'll shower because now I'm really gross. I've sweated off some of the tattoo and even I can smell myself. "Hey, will you bring up your Honda key?" Jeff asks. "Uh. I'm kind of gross."
"They won't care." So that's how I find myself at TruWorth Auto looking at a beautiful, 5-speed, cobalt, Mustang convertible. Jeff had told Jen that he was shopping for this car for me, in large part as a reward for working so hard to get back in shape. He'd considered a diamond upgrade but settled on a convertible. She was more than well on the way to being in love with him. Yes. I am fully aware that I am quite possibly one of the luckiest women on the planet.
Men, take note: 1. He appreciated the difficulty I have had in putting down the cheesecake lo these many months. 2. He understands and doesn't resent the time I take to work out. 3. He felt compelled to reward it somehow with a tangible gift beyond mere word. 4. He doesn't scrimp on the words either. 5. Yes, he has been and will be properly rewarded... So I can only imagine what Jen at TruWorth was thinking after an afternoon of Jeff negotiating over our trade-in, the price of the new (to us) car and the reason for us getting it. I'm certain she was not expecting the Sharpie-tatted, sweaty mess of a short girl who arrived. TruWorth is a little too close to the Fishers/Carmel area for me to have arrived the way I was. But in true sales fashion, she regrouped and carried on. Jeff had whittled the choices to three -- 2 on this lot and another in a different direction. Ali wanted the blue one. The red on had a camel top, which offended her artistic sensibilities. The white one was newer but the seats were configured differently and not for short girls. All of them were amazing to me, so it was an easy choice. We bring home the blue one. Ali rides home with me and is introduced to the joys of the open air, the feel of wind whipping knots in your hair and the sound of shifting gears. I know she's calculating how long it will be before she is behind the wheel. Thirty minutes after we get home, Jeff sees fluid under the car. The captain was in full consumer rage. He vents his frustration. He crawls under the car. He fingers the fluid. He smells the fluid. He vents some more. He calls the sales manager, who has, of course gone home for the holiday weekend. The long story short is that a clamp on the radiator hose had come off. It was fixed the next day at no cost to us and we were off to the graduation party. TruWorth proved to be worthy. As we get into the car, Alison asks who's driving. "Oh man," she says, looking at Alex. "I'm scared to death." Jeff was sure we'd get a ticket, but so far, it hasn't happened. It's been years since I drove a stick shift and we've had some jumpy moments. But so far its been so very good. The graduation party was fun. Except for when they found a snake skin and the wind made it move and I thought it was alive. Or the reminder of the time a nest of snakes fell into Nancy's pool. Everything else was way better than that... Yesterday morning we went to SkyZoneSports again and jumped around. I stopped drinking one hour before and visited the ladies room twice before I ventured out...) Later that afternoon, I was waiting in the car with the kids with Jeff who was getting sunblock at CVS when they got into a hitting war. This is something my brothers did and there was often collateral damage. Ali and Alex's version is punctuated with giggles in between but they were hitting each other so hard, I swear I felt it. At one point I reminded them that if they had to do this kind of thing, they had to have rules. "No hitting above the neck." "You are some kind of parent," Alex said, right before giving Ali a chop to the leg. She punched him in the gut. They howled with laughter.
We ended the afternoon in the Jordan YMCA pool, and the kids were asleep before dinner. Jeff woke them up for food and they clambered up the family room steps like zombies.
Today we might be going to the movies. So far they've entertained themselves with TV. I just hear Ali tell Alex to get his face off her butt. It might be time to make them come upstairs again... Happy weekend, everyone. I will be driving again today. Keep that in mind if you're in Indy....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What if...

My muscles are not speaking to me and barely allowing me to move but the Angie's List garden in nearly in, our yard is mulched, mown and weeded. Thank God Jeff's been in a grilling frenzy and has been here all weekend or I'd be eating dry cereal and letting Alison drive herself to Taco Bell for sustenance. Here's the story of the week. I'm sorry I don't have video. Alison, as you know, recently had her puberty lecture. I followed up on it the other day, quizzing her on what she'd do in a couple of scenarios. In Scenario 1, a boy tries to get familiar with her private parts. What would she do? She looked at me and ran her hands down the sides of her torso. "Mom. Really? I don't have anything anyone would want to touch." I implored her to focus on the question because regardless of her current situation, one day this scenario will be all too real. She sighed and got a little dramatic. "I'd say, dude! We're in 5th grade. You need to slow down." I nodded approvingly and posed Scenario 2: the boy asks her to get familiar with his private parts. "Ew!" I looked at her. "OK. I'd say, dude. Look. We're 11. Why don't you save that for when we're 21?" When I can move again, I'll go downstairs, print it out and her her sign it. That'll work, right?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

And another thing!

My actual Mothers Day festivities were awesome. Alison created a code and made me first solve it, then go from site to site to discover more heart-shaped riddles I had to solve before finding her gift.

It was the Social Studies project she'd claimed to be working on, but really she'd stolen from my cork collection to create a fun posterboard card with candy attached even. Oh sure, it was stolen, too. But it's the thought that counts!

Jeff decided I needed a keyboard for my iPad, which prompted me to have to learn both it and the photo import gizmo he'd brought home earlier like a cat with a dead mouse.

(I'm not so quick to learn on the technology front...) So I've been in techno hell for part of the day. I have the keyboard mostly working. But I'm having issues with getting the newly imported photos from the iPad to the blog. And Blogger has turned on me, too, no longer formatting with actual paragraphs.

It's a good thing we had an Indians game in great weather with an added treat of running into my friend Tina and a chocolate covered Jack. And I still have dinner to look forward to. Now, back to the technological salt mines...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

What a mother

I used to fend off Alison's requests for a sibling with silliness and diversion but a while ago, I told her the truth. That my body just wasn't good at manufacturing babies. That we'd actually suffered a loss before she was born. And that we got incredibly lucky when she came out with all the right parts in all the right places. I didn't get into the details. It's not something I talk about very often to anyone, and I was relieved when she seemed satisfied with my answer. But on the way home from school last week, she brought it up again. I told her that it was pretty horrible and that it made me really afraid to try again. "Is that why you love me so much?" she asked. I smiled and looked back at her. "Well. Partly. But you're kind of easy to love just as yourself." She liked that. I think. I work really hard to make sure she knows I love her. Sometimes she's roll her eyes and say, "I KNOW, Mom." Other times she'll snuggle up, and it's not uncommon for her to be the one reminding me of her affection. It's Mothers Day, of course, so it's hard to escape discussions of motherhood. How about that Time magazine cover, for starters? The tanorexic mom from Jersey, or my favorite talk show host, Andy Cohen, and his mom on the cover of Parade? Moms sure come in different kinds of packages. Which is lucky for all of us. I was creeped out by the Time thing, nearly as much as I was by my own tenure as a breast feeding mom. I did it because of the healthy boost it gave Alison. I didn't have that Hallmark experience. Despite my agrarian roots, my body wasn't much better at baby food production than it is at reproduction. I know women who cherished that time in their lives and I'm happy for them. It just wasn't my prime time. This Mothers Day I'm making a concerted effort to truly embrace the idea that every woman who tries her best -- whether that's breast feeding until the school bus comes or using formula from Day 1 -- is a great mom. God knows I've made crazy mistakes, done things no one else understands, spilled the truth too soon or lied too long. Who am I to say that what one mom chooses to do is right or wrong? Why do we do that to each other? Sadly, I'm judgmental by nature and far too verbal about my opinions too often. But I hope I can stick to this resolution. Because it's hard to be a good mom day in and day out. I was terrified every day I carried Alison that it wouldn't work and that that this creature and I wouldn't like each other when we finally met. I had nightmares that she'd be born with my short legs and Jeff's long arms and be cursed to walk like chimpanzee with her knuckles dragging the ground. Seriously. I still live in fear that I won't get to keep her. So I love her as best I can every day, and I make sure she knows it. But I'm still grouchy sometimes. Or not giddy about her latest artwork or iPad game. Or short with her when she doesn't do what I want, when I want and how I wanted it. And then there are the times I don't follow through. Or I give in. Or I forget that it's a 1/2 day with no aftercare. Or I give her extra dessert instead of making her eat a balanced diet every day. Oh, and I let her skip bath night way too much. And her hair. Oh. Her hair. I default to the ponytail way too often. But today I pledge that the only way I will consider myself failed as a parent is if there's a moment in her life that she truly doubts that I loved her fiercely and unconditionally every day of her life. That young mom on the cover of Time is being assailed other moms (including me before my epiphany) who don't understand why she would put her child out there like that or breast feed that long. But I don't doubt that she's doing what she thinks is the best thing for him. I don't doubt for a minute that she loves him. And in my parent playbook, that makes him one lucky little boy. Children deserve so much. But love is the first thing. Give them that. The rest will follow. Trust me. I'm a mom. I know these things...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

There's no "i" in "team" but there's a "p" in "jump"

So yeah. Alison is 11. Seems impossible, but you can't argue with math. Among the festivities surrounding her big day included a romp at the newest "most-go" venue: SkyZoneSports. It's a trampoline place for most ages. It's pretty big with separated sections that allow you to flip off into a pit of soft blocks, play high-powered dodge ball, dunk basketballs or just jump around. They do a good job of refereeing and keeping the big kids from bouncing on the little ones, and making it safe for everyone to literally bounce off the walls. So it was great fun for the kids, who were a sweaty mess after an hour of jumping around. But here's a tip for anyone fool enough to think that after your body has carried and expelled at least one child that you can still bounce like a kangaroo on speed. Yes, you can bounce. But you must also land. Sometimes you will land hard. Do yourself a favor and pee first. And that's all I have to say about that. Before the weekend was over, we'd had two sleepovers (separate kids) one extended play date, and transporation needs for about six kids. Jenna, for the first time in a decade, didn't attend the party because her mother made her follow through on a commitment to play in her soccer game. Midway through the party I get a call that Jenna's en route to the E.R. She ended up with a wrist sprain and not a break.
Now I'm not one to say, "I told you so," but it WAS me who suggested that skipping one lousy soccer game wouldn't hurt anyone. (Just sayin'.) Jenna and Alison like to say they were friends before they were born because Amy and I were pregnant together, and the girls claim they talked to each other on some sort of belly-phone. Since the terrible breakup when they left day care and started in different Kindergarten classes, they've seen each other less, but every occasion they're together, it's like they never left. It's the best thing to watch and eavesdrop on. They're the best kind of sister-friends and I'm grateful every time they get together. Jennas still got to come for a sleepover, but the poor thing wasn't feeling well and ended up puking her little guts out both Saturday night and Sunday morning. But even a vomit-plagued Jenna is a good Jenna, and we made the best of it. We had some high points signing her soft cast -- which she was happy to have, though she confessed that if she'd broken her arm, she'd likely have gotten out of doing any more work at school. "Yeah, that would have been better," agreed Ali. We didn't know she was sick early in the evening. I'd left the girls with Jeff to go to the annual Gathering of the Goddesses event and didn't get back home until about 11. The evening is great because A. It's a great cause that helps poor women get the health care they need; and B. I get to see a ton of old friends from years ago.
I came home in my finery to find Jeff beside Jenna at the porcelain throne. We got her settled down and the next morning she and Alison went to the Angie's List garden with me where I joined our fitness instructor and her daughter to move some dirt. About four yards of dirt, I think with three shovels and wheelbarrows. A fourth gardener showed up and we got the work done around noon. By that time Jenna had puked again, cuddled on a couch for a while and then dried out on a rooftop patio surveying us as we worked. Once she'd perked up -- fueled by birthday cake (instead of the banana I'd packed) -- she and Ali were our water girls, saving our lives on a couple of occasions. We'd planned a movie, but when we got home, the girls sacked out in the living room and slept right through. On the way home from returning Jenna, Alison seemed a little depressed. I asked her what the trouble was and she started to recount the weekend. She'd had fun and enjoyed all of her presents and activities.
"But it just wasn't the same without Jenna," she said. "She's just such a big part of everything and when she's not feeling good, it's just not the same." A little retail therapy perked her up. She used her Grandpa's money and some gift cards to buy some shocking pink Chuck Taylors and some neon shorts. Summer's almost here and she's anxious to get a jump on it. Jenna woke up Monday feeling good, keeping her food and was headed off to school, according to her mother. We'll have our birthday do-over sometime soon. As long as we can keep off that damn soccer field... :)