Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reindeer down!

The House of Reed is deep into removing all traces of fall celebration and bringing in the Christmas cheer.

We've had Jeff's X-marks the Spot collection on heavy rotation since dawn broke Friday. While he rocks out and reminds us where he was when he found that particularly excellent tune, Alison and I have been decking the halls and walls and other empty spaces.

At one point, I was in the kitchen and she was decorating the tree.

"Oh no! I crippled a reindeer," she exclaimed.

A little Super glue got the vintage flier back on track. It wasn't and won't be the last time glue will come into play this weekend, I wager.

We had a great time at Thanksgiving at Donna's where I reigned victorious over ever euchre table I sat at. Alison's game is coming along, too.

She spent most of her time outdoors, however, including one scary episode where she and Rachael re-enacted a scene from Lassie -- a show they've never seen.

And no, we don't have a Lassie so they had to rescue themselves.

They were allegedly playing hide-and-seek with Aleasha who was happily in in the warm house. The girls thought she was outside. As she wasn't, they quickly got distracted with other fun and Rachael found herself stuck ankle deep in a stretch of mud that will one day be a pond.

Right now, it's a mud bog. "Ack!" she called. This is where Lassie would have been handy. Ali went to rescue her and promptly got stuck herself.

Their calls for help bounced right of the windows and doors and didn't have a chance against the wails and moans from my euchre victims.

After a while of sinking deeper and deeper, the girls used a stick and elbow grease to climb out of the pit. They came to the door, covered up to their knees.

I hosed them down outside and Jaime had to go home to get them new clothes.

"We were calling and calling for help, Mom," Alison said. "Where were you?"

Other excerpts from the weekend so far:

Lee Weir (euchre loser) complained long and loud that his game was off due to nefarious activity between his daughter and me.

"I'm as honest as the day is long," I protested (truthfully.)

"Have you noticed how short the days are this time of year?" he groused.


Alison at dinner with our friends Patrick and Patricia Jackson was telling them of her Thankgiving feast. While we were surrounded with mounds of ham, turkey, homemade rolls, cheesy potatoes and a counter of desserts that would put any Paris cafe to shame, what did Alison have?

"I had four bread sandwiches," she confessed.

Patricia called foul. "It's not a sandwich if you don't have something in between the bread," she said.

"Well, there was air there," said Alison.


For many years, my contribution (by demand) to any family meal was ice. Yes. My culinary skills have never been exalted by the Bickel family. I've been elevated in recent years to fruit and vegetable trays -- which is good because it's my only defense against the rest of the stuff.

Jeff and Alison made whoopie pies, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and sugar. (See why I still get invited?)

Alison is all business when it comes to baking. Somehow, though, her thumb smashed into one of the sugar cookies as she was retrieving the pan from the oven.

"Dang. Guess I'll have to eat that one," she said.

With two full days of break before us, Team Reed is planning to make the most of it. Hope you are, too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prelude to Thanksgiving

Another busy weekend coming to a close too soon.

The important stuff:

Breaking Dawn is worth whatever you need to pay to see it. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll gasp. You'll celebrate the end of super great villians and/or the salvation of good guys depending on your point of fang.

Skyfall is also worth whatever you need to pay to see it.You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll gasp. You'll celebrate the end of super great villians and/or the salvation of aging good guys depending on. Well, depending on nothing. If you know anything about Ian Fleming's creation, you'll love this movie.

In between movies, I hosted Book Club and went to Bunco, raked the yard and sweated some of my wine away at the gym. Ali and Jeff made sugar cookies from scratch.

I sort of cleaned the house. Jeff cleaned the oven. Alison got to babysit herself while we went spy watching.

All in all, a busy but good weekend. At Target this morning, after she helped me recyle and before our last cinematic expedition, I offered to buy Alison a new book she's been wanting. I figured it would keep her from vegging out in front of the television too much while we were gone.

As we walked to the check out, I suggested she might want to contribute some of her allowance to the purchase.

"I'm not falling for that again," she said. "You already said you'd buy it for me."

I haven't told the ungrateful brat that she's not getting paid for babysitting but I'm sure she'll ask what her rate is before the night is out.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you get to enjoy good friends and family.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Screen-free weekend

Alison has never liked to get in trouble. She doesn't like to be the center of attention, generally, and never when it's negative attention.

So you can imagine her reaction to her very first detention.

That's right: the little red head had to visit the principal and explain herself. And then she had to explain herself to her mother. And her father.

It was not the happiest of times.

We're trying not to be too upset about it. Afterall, in her seven years of catholic academic instruction, she's never been sentenced to detention. She's barely been on the bubble.

And her crimes were not felonious. She failed -- three times -- to be prepared for class.

She claims she didn't hear that one assignment was due on Monday (rather than Tuesday) another one required both sides of the work sheet (not just one) and she didn't check the email account for math so she didn't even know about that other assignment.

Three preparedness infractions = a lunchtime detention to be served Monday.

When I went to pick her up Friday, she knew I knew. She saw me and her chin hit her chest. It's a wonder she was bale to traverse the gym floor to get to me her head was so low.

She sobbed on the way home as she confessed she'd had to see Mr. Stewart and he said he was "shocked" to have her in the hotseat before him.

I did not smile. I was severe. I used the dreaded "disapointed in you" line. She's grounded for the weekend. No Chatard football game. No screens of any kind.
And yardwork on Saturday.

Do you know how much time there is in a weekend without a television or an iPad? There's a lot of time. Like, a lot.

So it was good we spent so much time in the yard. We broke out LPS Monopoly, Pictureka, Gin Rummy and dominoes. She did her homework early and read a few books that had been collecting dust.

We cooked. We shopped.

We did allow her to attend the Christ the King Spaghetti Supper. But only because it was the most convenient time to gather with her basketball team for an end-of-season meal.

It was really sweet. The girls gave Coach Reed a gift card for dinner and some unique art and some really sweet notes. He spent all afternoon creating certificates for them with a tiger watermark, a team photo and cheer, a individual note from coach to athlete and a headband to keep them focused while they practice for next year.

The team is made up mostly of 5th graders and they'd really like it if he'd coach again next year. Alison was not in favor of being held back a year so she could play with her team again.

The moms and I are pondering whether Jeff could coach two teams next year. It would make practice easier...

He truly is a great coach. I admit that I was afraid he's be too hard on the girls and let a few bad words slip but he was great. The one time he pounded on a wall and made the gym echo turned out to be a celebration of something good.

So it was a great, albeit losing season.

Also this weekend, I was inspired by my friend Tina who changed her Facebook profile picture to one of her father in uniform. I, too, made note of Veteran's Day by posting a photo of my father in uniform.

I've been peeking at that photo all weekend. It's made me sad sometimes because I really miss him and happy too because I was so lucky to have him.

Alison looked at it and said, "Oh, he looks so happy and carefree. But that was before you all were born, right?"

A Facebook friend from home said "Everyone loved your dad. I never heard a bad word said about him."

My dad was 70 when he died. That's a long time to be around and not have anyone grouse about you.

He really was a great person. He was raised an even more strict Pentacostal than he raised us, and for him, it really stuck.
He was one of those unusual Christians. Deeply devout but not one to push it on anyone else. He suffered a lot, but seemed to deal with it by actually believing the Scripture that said the more you suffer on Earth the better off you'll have it in Heaven.

I'm not always sure there is a God. But I hope there's one, and I hope that he delivers on all the promises he made to my Dad.

None of my father's seven children measure up to him. Not a one of us. But he still loved us. Still tried to make us better people.

If he had to get a microscope out to do it, he'd find something about each of us that he could be proud of. He was good like that.

So anyway. Happy Veteran's Day to my dad and to everyone who served, including Captain Coach Reed.

My father liked Jeff a lot. In part because my dad was a traditionalist and he was happy that someone finally agreed to take responsibility for me. He might have also hoped that Jeff's law degree would be helpful in keeping some of us out of jail.

But I think my dad saw more in Jeff than I did. He saw the coach, the dad just waiting to be. I'll leave you with this interesting parallel.

Back when I was in high school, I was involve in an altercation at school. Long story short, I was in a bit of a love triangle although I was unaware of it. After nearly a year of bullying, a direct threat was made; a punch was thrown and I landed in the prinicipal's office.

Unlike my daughter, however, I wasn't in trouble as I was the victim and simply defended myself. But word on the street was that I was going to be beaten up next time I was in town and crossed paths with the other girl and her friend.

When my father heard the word, he decided I needed to know how to fight for real. As he was showing me how to make fist and where to punch first, I said, "Dad! Do you really think I can beat her up?"

"No, honey. She's gonna kill you," he said. "But I want you to get in at least one good punch."

(The second fight never happened. But I was ready with that one good punch.)

Flash forward to Alison's losing season.
The girls were starting to gel when the best player broke her ankle. Jeff was beside himself. But he didn't give up. He did some research, came up with new plays and flat-out told the girls to use their butts to get positioned.

The next game, Alison nearly fouled out and I'd never seen him more proud of her. He was going on and on about how aggressive Ali was and how the some of the other girls were coming along, too, and how this one had great promise and that one could do this when she put her mind to it.

"Do you think they can win?" I asked.

"Nah. They're gonna get killed," he said. "But they're trying. That's the important thing."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Week in review

Had a week that might have been as busy at home as it was at work. More success than failure, so I suppose it was a good week.

I'm trying to get past the failure part and to focus on the successes. Wish me luck!

Jeff had his birthday Monday, which was full of fun suprises in the morning and at night, and then two days later, he celebrated Halloween by fitting (well, I'll tell you) into his Army uniform that he hadn't even tried on in 20 years.

Yes, there really was a Captain Reed, and I'm hoping that if I'm ever in a fox hole, he's in there with me.

Alison converted her chocolate Halloween candy to $8 in a hard-fought negotiation with her father. She's getting way better at pleading her case.

We've been running into an old friend at Chatard football games, which is really fun. Mostly we freeze our butts off so Alison can hang with her friends. Having our own friends to hang with makes it better.

Unfortunately, the Tigers 5-6 girls basketball team hasn't been enjoying the blow-outs the Trojans have.

We lost our last regular season game today, but some of the kids were taller than me, and they had twice as many. So even though we didn't win on the boards, I consider it a victory that the other team had to sweat. A lot.

Plus, it was indoors. Oh! And I curtailed my cursing pretty well. I'm really getting better. Or maybe I was just happy it was inside.

Daylight saving time seems to be kicking my butt tonight. I think I'm going to call it an early night.

But before the lights go out:

Happy early birthday to Grandpa Reed!

Please join me in hoping for continued good news for little Christian Padilla and his parents, Brooke and Geno.

I hope, also, that you'll make time to vote this week. Even if you're on the opposite side of my politics (I'm happy to help you come over to the light; just let me know) we're priviliged to have this right.

And please keep those in the path of that bitch Sandy in your thoughts. While I complain about the temperature here, I know how lucky I am.

Here's what made me happy last week:

Monday: Happy to be inland today. Hoping for the best for everyone in Sandy's path.

Tuesday: Happy today with our latest project (see the photo below.)

Wednesday: Happy today that nearly all the holiday and birthday desserts are outta my house!

Thursday: Today I'm happy to successfully get through the first part of a busy morning and to get great advice from a co-worker who's turning out to be a great friend.

Friday: Happy today to have a kid who makes me laugh out loud and often. Last night she was yammering on about her life and future and ended with: "Once I get clear of you two, I'm going to get myself a puppy." (For the record, it's the Captain holding up that particular wish; her allergies keeping the kitties away.)

Saturday: Today I'm happy to finally get to the gym. Had a bad run in with bacon-laced, au gratin potatoes yesterday.The potatoes won big.

Sunday: Happy today that basketball is played indoors. Last regular season game for the CKS 5-6B team is this afternoon.