Sunday, December 28, 2014

And a greener Christmas still

No trip home to Maine is complete without a stop in Freeport, an outlet mecca and home to LL Bean. Jeff's parents used to frequent the place long before it became a global enterprise.

Back then, it was mostly a hunting and fishing supply store and no one had thought to build a trout pond or bring in big-ass, stuffed game into the store.

Alison has made the trip with us every year. This was the first time she christened the streets of Freeport with vomit. She'd warned us starting out that her stomach was grumbly. We thought she'd be fine. Sure there wasn't snow, but it was a clear day with brisk, healing air.

Not so much.

But this is Maine. So as I held her hair and looked madly about for a place to take her to puke in private, a passing motorist stopped and rolled down her window. "I have tissues and wipes," she said. "Good luck!"

Generally, once you've hoarked you feel better, right? We were sure our last meal of the trip with family was going to be the reinvigoration Ali needed. She started with soup and nibbled on bread.  Upon  departure, she leaned over the edge of the porch and lost her lunch.

The wait staff, just like the lady in the car, reacted with no drama and much sympathy.

Last night was no better. I snuggled with her. Jeff got to clean the bedspread. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get that smell out of my nose until I realized my pajamas hadn't fully escaped the onslaught. Blech.

She managed to get down some toast this morning but air travel wasn't the best treatment for whatever virus has taken up residence in her belly. She was so pitiful that even after the sit down and stay there warning sounded, the flight attendants made sure she could get into the lavatory, clutching her barf bag the whole time.

Her demeanor and grip on the bag didn't endear us much to our fellow passengers. But  hey, she wasn't a screamer like the kid farther up the aisle.

We may have left the little bug on the plane; she's been queasy but hasn't barfed on Hoosier soil. Sorry to any United flyers who followed us, but at least you'll be in kind hands...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Green Christmas

Jeff Reed may never have been prouder of himself.  A Reed family tradition has been to re-use wrapping paper and boxes.

Tomorrow morning - or afternoon depending on when Uncle David gets to stirring -- this is what you'll hear at 14 Hamlin Road once the colored paper starts flying:

"Oooooh. That's from Ledgewood Drive.
"Oh! I love that paper." 
"Ugh. Someone taped to the box."
"It's the box wrapped like on TV!"
"Did I really get a box of cigars?"

There's a stash of Christmas paper in the basement that reaches back to the last millenium, and I'm certain some of the ribbon may be pre-World War one. There are boxes from department stores only the oldest of us remember being open, along with boxes that once held baby clothes and toys.

And now the entry that may win the award for best use of old paper:

That's five different remnants, at least one from days before I joined Team Reed. The ribbons are what was left over on the gift-wrapping table.  Don't know what the box originally held. It could be anything from Amazonian treasure to duck calls. Only the tape is new.

I almost don't want to open it.

As Gary says, "The former Mrs. Reed would be proud."

In other Postcards from Maine, which is uncharacteristically raining and less-than-frigid, Alison added a twist to our annual cookie factory at Auntie Jen's. Can't spill the beans, but Jen is in on it. I won't tell anyone that she demanded a full share even after sampling the goods...

We've visited the breakfast place where I have banana walnut pancakes every year and Gary has his small omelette and Ali plays Jenga with the jelly. We're a few hours away from visiting with the Chinese buffet folks. Traditions are being checked off right and left.

Here's another:  Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, too!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stockings are hung

It's four days before Christmas,

And all through my house,

There's packers a stirring,

It's no place for a mouse.

The stockings are hung, by the chimney,

But who cares?

No hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

Tonight we'll be nestled all snug in our beds,

With visions of Maine dancing in our heads.

No 'kerchief for mama, but a nightcap for Dad.

It'll be hard to settle down for any kind of nap.

Cause out on the lawn there's such a glimmer, a beacon so bright.

That wrapped up magnolia keeps us up all night!

OK. Enough of the bastardization of Clement C. Moore. I'm sure he wouldn't approve. Plus, we've learned to shield ourselves from the tree. Hope the neighbors did, too.

I'm sure you have as much to do as I do, so I'll keep this short -- the better to keep on the good list.

1. The Young Actors Theatre board of directors overlooked my recent stage faux pas to let me join the group! Karin glided in easily as I expected. So look for all kinds of missives from me in the future about how great this organization is. And mark your calendars in January -- January 9, 10 and 16 -- for Ali's next play: "Judgement: Beauty and the Beast." Others in the January line up are "Conscience: A Pinocchio Story;" "Trust: A Pied Piper Story;" "Pride: The Emperor's New Clothes;" and "Fear: A Red Riding Hood Story."

Ali is in only the one, but you can't go wrong with a night out at the Athenaeum to see one of the shows. And yes, they're all there. I checked this time...

2. If I was ever going to be a cat burglar, now's my time. I burned off most of my finger pads trying to help with costuming for the various plays. If you go and marvel at how great a random costume is, you can just assume I made that one. Actually, it'll be the work of Beck. He's 15 and amazing. He'll be winning Oscars for costuming in the next few years.

That's about it from here. All is well. Home fires were burning until today when I decided to make a fire. Unlike the last time I tried on my own, I actually tried to open the flue, but something fell down and clunked and the damn thing wouldn't open. Jeff took a quick look and quickly took on a bunch of soot, which was kind of funny but didn't solve our flue issue. We did, however, have a fireplace full of Santa Claus there for a while.

We'll get around to addressing the problem in the new year, I suspect. The flue is likely unchanged from when it was installed back in the 1950s or so, so it's due an upgrade, I suppose. I'm just glad no critters fell down on me.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and Happy New Year to you all! Here's a little angel to send you off to the new year.

I've been trying to get her to re-sit for me, but she's resistant...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I'm not a stage crasher...I mean, I didn't mean to stage crash

I like to think I'm a pretty well organized person. I make lists. I have plans. I'm a "place-for-everything-everything-in-it's-place" kind of person. 

Not because I'm that way by nature -- I just hate to be that person who can't get to work time because I've lost my keys or had to go back to get my phone or work ID or lunch. Or, say, forgets it's early dismissal at school and leaves her kid on the bench outside Miss Becky's office. ("Oh, there's always one of you," said Becky that terrible day during Ali's first-grade year. "This year it's you." 

For the record, Ali's in 8th grade and I didn't make that same mistake again.) Miss Becky, apparently, thinks everyone is allowed a Lucy-and-Ethel moment or two. She's a keeper that Becky. I trust you all can view the following through her nonjudgmental, forgiving eyes... 

Yesterday started out great. I'd been fretting a bit about a meeting with the president of the Young Actors Theatre Board. Alison is developing her own life and doesn't need me as much as she used to. (Or so she seems to think.) I've been looking for ways to get back to contributing to the world a bit. 

YAT is an amazing organization. I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't rave about how much it's helped their kid develop confidence, inner strength and just an ability to find their own, individual awesome. Oh, and their performance skills too, of course. 

One day at a Canterbury Park spruce up day, I was talking to a neighbor about needing to leave to get Ali to YAT and a random jogger going by called out that her daughter had been a YAT kid and how they loved it. That's how great it is. 

Our Saturday YAT afternoons have become a highlight of the week for me. Alison jets off to the west end of the Athenaeum for YAT while I head into the downtown Indy YMCA gym at the east end. It's a great time to talk about this or that. Almost like the days when I delivered her to daycare where she'd cavort with Alex and Jenna all day and which would lead me to meet Karin Ogden, who'd lead me to YAT (and the downtown Y, for that matter.) 

On really great days, Karin meets up with me at the A. It was one of those days, actually, when she and I were talking about my need for to get back into volunteering when the idea of YAT board openings came up. She was thinking about it, too. Next step is us trying to pass muster with the whole board.  

Karin's a shoo-in. She's fabulous. As for me, well, up until last night, I might have had more confidence in my chances. 

Anyway, after my meeting with Mandy, I worked out, as per my usual. Just about the time I was sniffing the air and wondering if I should have showered after the workout, I see Justin, YAT's executive artistic director. Hoping I don't stink, I talk a bit more about how excited I am at the prospect of joining the board. It occurs to me to wonder if he's ever seen me when I don't look like a hobo. 

Ali emerges and asks if we could attend the YAT production of "Little Women, the Classic Retold." Hannah Ogden was in it and it was at 7:30. "Sure!" I said. We always like to see Hannah perform. 

And this is where I started channeling Lucy Ricardo. We rushed home because that morning when Ali was at volleyball evaluations, I'd gone to the grocery. Running close on time, I'd dumped most of the bounty on the kitchen floor and stuffed (I hoped all of) the food that needed chilling in the fridge or freezer. I check in with Jeff to tell him our plans. He'd trekked to Bloomington that morning on a bourbon quest. 

I texted Karin to see if she was going to the play. Hurrah! Yes she was. She'd get the tickets and we'd just meet her there. I remember congratulating myself for having just renewed by stash of tokens for the Athenaeum parking lot. That would make parking downtown a breeze and I didn't have to worry about getting online to order my tickets. I had loads of time.

So, I dragged out the crock pot, tracked down a recipe and did all the things that should create a pot roast sometime in the next 7 days. Oh, here's a side-note. I thought crock pot cooking was supposed to be this easy, peasy thing. Don't be fooled by all the hype. 

It takes hours and hours to actually cook the stuff and there's tons of work involved! I had to flour-coat, season and sear this slab of beef before it went in. Wash and cut vegetables. Track down spices and balsamic vinegar and wine and olive oil. It was a two-pot endeavor, my friends. That, by definition is "real" cooking. 

Anyway, it took a while. I was still stinky from the gym. (I had washed my hands.) It was nearing time to get to the play. But we were still in fine shape. In fact, I offered to Ali that we might have time for a Starbucks hot chocolate if she wanted one. She opted for getting to our seats well in advance of the curtain. 

 Turns out, the Athenaeum parking lot was full. I try not to do too much illegal stuff with Ali around so we circled a while looking for a proper spot and losing two to other lot patrollers. 

Ali started to really fret both about my parking and our timely arrival. I let her out to go in ahead and drove the streets looking for a spot. I was was nearly parallel parked when I noticed the bus stop sign glaring at me from the sidewalk. For a few seconds, I wondered if the buses really ran this late.

I ended up shelling out $10 to park near the building. I fast-walk to the door only to see Ali outside looking at the directional signage. "It's at Fringe, not here," she said. I do quick math in my head, calculating the difference between driving or trotting the several blocks. I opt to trot. My knee, already angry at me from the afternoon work out, decides midway that it had had enough. 

"Mom, come on! I can run in heels, and you can too." We get there. The ticket-taker say, "Oh you have plenty of time. We're getting a slow start." 

This cheers me up until we ask where the stairs are -- Karin had given us good directions about where to go past the stairs. There are no stairs at Fringe. 

Calmly, I inquire as to where the "Little Women" are. 

"We're not doing Little Women. We're doing a lip synching competition. It should be really fun. You should stay!" 

Alison is starting to panic. I'm still panting. My knee is still creaking and the sweat that started to pool despite the December temps and my warm scarf, starts to swim down my back. 

Enter Pauline Moffat, executive director of Indy Fringe. She introduces herself. I mumble something about my friend Lori Kaplan, who's on her board. She may still think I'm crazy but at least we have a friend in common. 

As I'm texting Karin to determine her whereabouts, half a dozen of the Fringe lip synchers whip out their smart phones. 

"Why aren't they at the Athenaeum?" Pauline asks. 

She's morethan familiar with YAT because Indianapolis, while big compared to my hometown, is really a small town. And the arts people, I'm finding, are both wonderful and wonderfully connected. And super helpful to idiots off the street. 

"I know!" I exclaim, feeling vindicated. "I'd just assumed that's where they'd be." 

We start rattling off possible venues. Half her cast is giving Google a work out. "I'll call Justin," she says. 

"Oh you can't!" I say. "He's directing." 

"Oh I think he'll pick up when he sees my number," she says. 

Karin pings first. "They're at Herron," I whisper. 

Pauline looks at me, unconcerned. "It's not that far. What time does it start?" 

Her Australian accent somehow de-accelerates my heartbeat. But I know where Herron is. More importantly, I know where we are and where my car is. I start thinking we can get to the play by intermission. 

To her credit, Alison has been a trooper. Sure she reminded me that she'd asked me to check for tickets, but for a 13-year-old, she'd been remarkably good about the whole running-madly-down-city-streets thing. 

Pauline learns of my parking spot, assesses Alison's face and says to her: "Why don't I drive you over?" To me, she says: "You go get your car and you can meet back up at Herron." 

Seriously. This woman who I don't know at all, who's running a production herself, is offering to drive my daughter to a show. "I'm superfluous here," she said, insisting. 

Had I not already fallen in love with her for her helpfulness, she got me with her vocabulary. 

So off they went and back out I trotted the half-mile or so to my car. It's possible that I drove the wrong way on a street or parking lot in my zeal to get to the paly. But Ali wasn't with me, so it was OK. I text Karin. Should I wait for intermission or should I sneak in? 

She advises me to sneak in, and I quote, "next time they scatter." Now, I remember bits of Little Women from my childhood. I don't know what "scatter" means in this context, nor do I know the layout of the venue. 

I get to the door, manned by Herron High Schoolers. I tell them my plan. They look at each other and gulp. "Good luck with that," they say, urging me to go on in. 

I should have waited for intermission. 

You see, the only doors to this particular production of "Little Women" open onto the actual stage. 

Yeah. That's why you go early. I realize my position only after I'm actually ON THE STAGE and the production is on full bore. Thankfully, the action is a bit away and I'm wearing a black coat. So I tip-toe like the Grinch behind a screen. I trip over it, of course, but it doesn't fall. 

Just as I get past the thing, I realize the actors are coming my way. Like, they're COMING MY WAY. I hunch down even more and scurry to another corner, practically crawling to escape detection. I dive behind a piano only to find it's part of the set, too! I squeeze into a corner, laying as low as I can when the lights turn my way and a conversation is had at the keyboard. 

What I don't know yet is that Justin has seen me. The cast and crew has seen me. He's contemplating whether to toss in a line to explain my presence. 

Hannah tells me later the cast is asking who I am and thinking the same thing. "She's here for ME!" she tells them. Thank you Hannah. Thank you God for Hannah. 

Finally intermission actually does come and I peel myself off the floor. I find Karin, who's with Dale, Alex and her sister Lynn. I tell them part of the story. 

"This is why you fit so well with us," says Lynn. I love Lynn. 

The play I heard as I scuttled about and the play I saw from my seat, was awesome. My friend Amy Magan's daughter was in it, and hilarious. Hannah, of course, was awesome. The girl who played dying Beth made me cry. 

And we got to bring Alex home with us. So all in all, it was a good night. I have another Aussie friend, my car didn't get towed and we were treated to yet another great YAT production. I'm totally going back to see the Fringe lip synchers, too. 

If my stage crawling doesn't get me banned from the YAT board before I even get a chance to begin, it'll be a small miracle. I'll be lighting candles about that for the next 13 days. Join me if you want -- or help me find a way to explain that despite my inattention to detail on this one occasion, I can actually contribute well to the group. 

And hey, we're having pot roast for dinner tonight. It was finally done around 11 last night. There's half-a-bottle of red wine left over from the recipe, and Ali is itching to bake. Come over and plot my recovery with me.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankful I Still Have all my Digits

Right up until I almost cut the fingers off my right hand, it was a holiday worthy of Rockwell.

We'd celebrated in Jasonville with my family where Jaime and Alison beat Rachael and me at euchre. 

Highlight quotes: "I'm not saying you're a cheater, but you win suspiciously."

"Hey, I'm not trying to see, but if she SHOWS me her cards, I'm gonna look!"

The food was tremendous and I was extremely grateful that the New England idea that you should boil onions and then serve them in milk had not made it to Indiana.

And yes, I had seconds of mashed potatoes and noodles. Plus dessert. I'd tried to prepare by jogging around the neighborhood before we left Indy. This was nearly a failure because A. I hate to run and B. I run about as fast as Alaskan molasses in December. But I trotted as long and as far as I could and tried not to cry when my muscles cramped up on the drive south west.

It was a lot of fun and ended with most of the girls poring over sale ads in anticipation of hitting the Terre Haute sales. For those of you who think shopping on Thanksgiving is akin to kicking puppies, the trip was largely for a Toys for Tots drive, and hitting the sales greatly expands the ability to buy for the needy. So it's a great thing. We usually don't spend the night on Thanksgiving but I might plan better next year just to help shop. 

Ali and I generally spend the Friday after Thanksgiving decorating for Christmas. She has done the tree for the past several years.  For a couple years, it boasted most of her stuffed animals, including our Island of Misfit Toys collection.

This year, she went traditional and put the animals above the picture window, taking my suggestion of using a strand of un-matched lights to give them an extra boost.

I've been very crafty this year. I wielded the glue gun with glee, and I had to repaint our outdoor terra cotta snowmen, who'd gotten flaky - and not in a good way. They look great and while I nearly fumigated ourselves out of the house with my applications of sealant, they shouldn't flake for years now.    

We got through a lot of the indoor decor Friday before our traditional post-Thanksgiving Day dinner out with Team Jackson. We were all pumped. I'd seen Patrick and Patricia last year when I went down to Evansville for a wedding but Patricia had gotten sick and missed their annual shopping trek to Indy. 

We met at Petite Chou - one of our favorite places to eat in the city - and had a fabulous time catching up and just chatting up a storm. No one was seated in our section after we came in. I'm pretty sure we were very entertaining. Maybe a little loud. Maybe. 

In between our catching up, I was checking on what seemed to be an outbreak of feral pigs in Jasonville that had gotten the local police involved. Turned out later to be only four escapees from a local farmer (I think) but it was fun for a while.

Dessert was at our house because Deb had sent Jeff home with an entire pecan pie. He was in heaven as was Patricia. Patrick and I agree that all good desserts have chocolate in them and we came home with two servings of pots de creme to go.

Saturday dawned and brought with it a warm front so it was outdoor decorating time. I asked Ali if she wanted to help. She hesitated. I told her I'd pay her. She suggested that we couldn't decorate before we got rid of the remaining leaves in the yard.

I was prepared to make the sacrifice but she was right. So out we set.  I dragged down the leaf blower,  absently noting that that last time I'd used it, I'd somehow knocked off the cover of the motor. I remember thinking I should fix that. But it hadn't gone back when I tried to re-afix it before and we had stuff to do. So out to the leaves we went.

Ali found the damp leaves unresponsive to the leaf blower and I'd had her snip down dead flowers and ornamental grasses while I took over. Jeff had come out, too, and was starting to apply 15 wheels of light strings, each containing 160-LED multicolored sparklers to the magnolia tree in the front yard.

He was happy because he got to use the ladder of his dreams -- possibly the best birthday and/or Father's Day gift he's ever gotten. (Boys are weird.)

It was about three hours in before it happened. I was in the midst of getting out the leaves beneath the bushes closest the house when I lost my focus. And just like that my index and middle finger met the hard plastic blades of my leaf blower as they whizzed by at a gazillion mph. Maybe 1- gazillion mph.

I was momentarily stunned. Ali and Jeff were at the magnolia. I looked down to see if I still had fingers. And how much blood was going to seep through my purple and black gloves.

It really hurt. Like hurt so much you couldn't really feel it. You know? I think if I'd seen blood, I would have cried out. Or fallen down in a faint among the leaves.  But no matter how long I looked, there wasn't any blood.

Here's where you are thankful for reflexes honed in the fires of having to evade saber-toothed tigers or marauding Huns or your brothers' BB gun. I don't know how it happened that my fingers met and fled the flying blades. I'm just glad I had only a little numbness to deal with. And that I wasn't an Angie's List DIY disaster story. (I've used others; I'd have used me, too.)

But with no real harm done, I finished the leaves and went to the rake as fast as I could. I have a newfound affection for that rake. It's awesome. 

So something like 15 bags of leaves and debris later, we'd depleted our store of decorations. 

Jeff was up in the tree for a few hours. I helped a little.

Years ago, long before we had the fancy ladder, Alison had gotten stuck in that tree. I'm sure she was wearing one of her mesh, frilly skirts and her Dora the Explorer underwear.  Under the influence of that early role model, she'd traveled a little too high and couldn't get down. I'd dragged out our old wooden ladder that came with the house, but I couldn't reach her. I was standing out there, craning my neck and trying to talk her down like she was a cat in a tree when our neighbor, John Engle from down the street came ambling over with his extension ladder.

He didn't say much. Just leaned the ladder against the tree, extened it and climbed up to snatch her down.  As he left, he said we could come get the ladder anytime we needed it.

Yesterday, as Jeff was high in the tree stringing lights and I stood beneath him, John drove by. He slowed his car and lowered his window. "I'm not going to have come back and get HIM down, am I?" he drawled before driving away.

I doubled over in laughter. Jeff grunted. He probably smiled a bit. For the record, he got down on his own.

Today has been a battle of wills and patience that I lost a few times. Since I got my iPad a few years ago, I've been horrible about backing up and organizing photos. Jeff bought a hard drive specificaly to save the artistry and I spent hours trying to move and organize more than 1,000 photos. It's been made more complicated by the fact that when you modify a photo, it affects its metadata. As a result of something I'm sure I did wrong, we had a bunch of imports that were allegedly shot in 1969. There were whole years's worth with the same date.

I dragged out old paper copies of Photoshoots, did a bit of googling and Jeff and I traded question like, was it 2012 or 2013 we went to Disney? When did James and David get married? What year did Ali first go to spend a week with Auntie Jen?  It was maddening.

After what seemed like light years, I escaped to the gym and Jeff took pity on me, doing a large part of the work. I still have to sort and and name a bunch of them, but I'm up to 2011 and have spent tons of time remembering some pretty good times in photos.

In the middle of the work, Team Jackson stopped by on their way out of town with two bottles of what may be the world's best chocolate milk. They'd talked about it at dinner and decided Jeff shouldn't live without the experience. Trader's Point Creamery makes it, and it's like drinking a Hershey bar. It's amazing.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I deserve some right. As I've regained the feeling in my fingers, I can even hold the glass. Plus, I have more damn pictures to label and sort. You need working digits for that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I love my friends. Really hope they're wrong.

We've had a few misses in our Book Club. Everyone can't always love every book we read. But the evening is always a great experience, and I've never once left wishing I had those four hours (more or less) back. I'm fortunate to have a great mix of women in my book club. I'd like to be more like each and everyone of them in one area or another. This month's offering was "Defending Jacob," and it inspired a lot of passionate thought. In short, it's about a family whose only son is accused of murder. The father is/was the chief prosecutor in their affluent town. The wife a fine person. The case of course blows their happy lifestyle wide apart and the guts of the book is how the parents dealt with the kid and each other. I won't blow the book for anyone who hasn't read it. It's definitely worth your time whether you're a parent or not. One of the tangents we followed for a while was how it's normal for a teenager to -- at some point in their most angst-filled years -- hate their parents and tell them so in word and/or deed. I had to disagree. I don't think it's normal. And right up until Friday night, I was sure that people who say it's OK for teenagers to treat their parents like crap is 100 percent unacceptable. It's sort of like the toddler who is allowed to kick and bite his mother as she's trying her best to keep the little brat alive. When I see that, I always fast-forward in my head and see the kid as a tattooed, facially pierced, green-haired teenager demanding keys from his mom who he/she calls a certain 5-letter word. (Am I judgmental much? Yes, sadly. But I'm working on that.) "You never told your mother you hated her?" I was asked by the majority of the group, who collectively were looking at me like I was the last American to try Starbucks. "Nope," I said. I refrained from the explanation. And upon reflection, I wonder if I really am smoking Pollyanna parental crack. I didn't tell my mother I hated her. (I didn't say I never thought I felt that way; but I can't imagine saying the words. And let me tell you, there were occasions...) I didn't tell my mother I hated her because I'm pretty sure she would have slapped the bejesus out of me. It's just not something a Pentecostal kid is ever allowed to do. It's no fun to be on the slap-ee end of an adult hand or plastic toy or the dreaded switch you had to fetch yourself. But then I thought about it. One of my sisters -- the one most close to my mother then, now and forever -- had big-ass fights with her a lot. I remember them yelling at each other and at one point, my mom literally pushing her out of the house with the broom, literally sweeping and smacking her out the door. Why? I don't remember. I just remember the incident. I don't know that this sister said the words, "I hate you," but their verbal disagreements do linger in my mind and I can picture it. Another sister was often unhappy with my mother, but I think it was mostly out of earshot of my mom. I'm not sure. I'm the youngest of seven, and I'm sure my memories are distorted. For the record, my mother was a fine person. Had I birthed seven kids in 10 years on a farm where modern conveniences were long in coming, I'd have been in prison for sure. In my older years, I like to think I give her a break for whatever perceived shortcomings she had a mom. At the same time, I never had a solid hold on where my mother unconditionally liked me. I know she loved me. That was non-negotiable. She didn't really have a choice. But liking your child isn't the same thing as enjoying their company. I wonder now if I didn't fight with her -- as my friends say normal teenagers do with their parents -- because I was afraid she'd cut that flimsy cord altogether. Certainly my sister who fought with her routinely had a strong tie to her. So, could my friends be right? They all have great relationships with their mothers despite their teenage rampages. Am I really destined to one day soon have the littlest redhead in my house turn on me like a snarling weasel? And should I want that to happen? On the way to acting class yesterday, I gave Alison an abbreviated review of Book Club and asked her if she thought one day she'd look at me and tell me that she hates me. She thought for a minute and said, "Well, I guess it would depend on what you did." "This isn't about me," I said. "It's not what I would do. This is all on you." She thought a bit longer. She couldn't envision such an emotion though she did allow that I annoy her from time to time. She kept going back to her original thought: "It would depend on what you did to me." I've known for a while that parenting is hard. I'm not sure I'm ready for the next few years. Did you tell your mother you hated her? And was your relationship stronger as a result?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shop til Mom Drops

If shopping were an Olympic sport, Alison Reed would rival Michael Phelps for gold medals. I have both the receipts and the sore feet to prove it.

She gets it honest, though.

Jeff is a fabulous shopper. Second only to Auntie Jen for his bargain finding skill, he'll spend hours sifting through clearance racks and bins and not think a thing about it. This applies to cashmere just as it does to anything Kroger sells. He likes fine quality, but he likes a price cut even better. I'm sure he's never paid full retail. For anything.

Me, I'd rather forfeit the bargain so I don't have to change my postal address to whatever store I'm in.

Take yesterday for example, the Captain and Duane Jasheway joined the VIP Club of Big Red Liquors in a quest for a bottle or two of the fabled Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. Made in small batches in Kentucky, the hooch is so sought after, there's a black market for it. The boys were hoping to land the chance to buy some of it via lottery at this VIP gathering. Also on the list was some craft beer favored by Tom Tokash, made in Indiana, but also in very limited quantities.

So they get to the warehouse before it opens. It took them 15 minutes to get to the beer where they discovered both of the beers they wanted had been snatched up. They didn't win the lottery to buy the Pappy, either.

Makes for a bad Saturday, right? Nope. There was a ton of high-end booze on sale. And somehow these two got themselves ensconced in the VIP VIP room for bourbon tasting. For Carrie Bradshaw, this would be the equivalent of being one of three people invited to a Louboutin trunk show. Or me at a book store where I could get all the vampish, get-me-through-the-workeout paperbacks I could get into a duffel bag.

They were there for at least six hours. Most of it in that back room where they compared and then re-compared sips of really expensive bourbon, whiskey and rye.

"I saw a guy buy a bottle for $3700!" a still reeking Captain Reed said about eight hours after he'd first set out. 

This is how much they drank: Jeff had forgotten his keys and Ali and I were 20 minutes behind his arrival thanks to a grueling grocery visit. It was in the 30's most of the day. Even having waited for us out in the yard, he wasn't cold. 

If I'd lit a match while he was talking, he'd probably ignited the both of us.

Knowing they'd gotten to the place by SUV, I asked: "Did they feed you at all?"

"Nope!" he said, grinning. He Duane did, however, stumble across the street to a Wendy's to soak up a bit of the liquor before they drove home. I don't know how Duane fared, but my boozer laid down on the couch and didn't move for a few hours.

Turns out, the store had come into several specialty bottles that were really hard to find, and they were offering a discount, too.  Amazing bargains that just couldn't be passed up. Really. He'd passed on most of the really expensive stuff, even the bottle one woman (member of the Jasper IN Bourbon Club and possibly a plant by Big Red Liquors) claimed was in the top 5 of the 3500 boubons she'd tasted this year.

The fact that Jeff now knows who the BRL wine guy is as opposed to the bourbon guy does not bode well for our savings account...

He came home with boxes and bags of booze including a Blue Label Jim Beam, a Four Roses bourbon, some champagne for me and other wines that were just too good to pass up. Right. Some of this we'll share with others and if you're really good to us, you might find booze in your Christmas stocking.

Today, after he set off for basketball and later work, Ali and I hit Target and the mall. We left around 11 and staggered back into the house around 4. 

Alison has a bit of the bargain shopper gene. She scored a pair of $100 jeans for $30. I decided to take them off her hands and add them to her Christmas pile. 

It was our first shopping trip where we split up and communicated mostly by phone. I spent a bit of it hanging with the husbands in the center aisle imbibing in my Candy Crush addiction. I don't think there was a store that Alison missed. She'd call me every so often and I'd go find her to give advice. 

She had a handful of earrings at Claire's but after consultation decided Christmas is coming and she really doesn't NEED any more ear art. Same for the tee-shirt with the funny saying at Hot Topics. And the boots at Journeys, though she'll be asking for multiple -- or one really big -- gift card from there.  She also loved some dresses and shirts at Charlotte Russe. I think I'm glad she didn't get my hooker job. I know I'm glad we left there bagless.

We're also experimenting with loose-leaf tea thanks to a recommendation from a friend of Alison's. 

"This could be something we do together for a long time, you know, Mom," she said after luring me to the store she'd been haunting for a while. Yeah, the Big Red Liquore store boys have nothing on her when it comes to closing a sale.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Are we atheists?

I went out with my friend Lisa last night, leaving my daughter to the mercies of her father.

They had a great night chatting about the latest in homework tribulations, current events and even dabbled a bit in philosophical matters. The Captain was deep into the conversational bonding until he started suspecting that she was really just getting around having to finish her homework.

But the lure of father-daughter bonding was great and he gladly bantered about the various subject matters. Until this.

"Hey dad," she chirped. "Are we atheists?"

He considered the question. Ali attends a catholic elementary school but we're not catholic.

"No," he said slowly.

"We don't go to church," she pointed out.

Now, my issues with organized religion are well documented and I count more than a few atheists as my closest friends and people I admire most.

I also admire more than a few of the religiously devout, and a few in-betweeners like myself. I'm honestly not sure where exactly I sit on whether He or She really out there, up there, or wherever a Higher Being might hang. He gave her  his position on the matter and discussed his light touch of Baptist instruction during his short-lived Sunday School Days 

As I wasn't there to stake a claim, Jeff said he didn't really know what I would say about the Big Question of whether I believe or not. He did remind her of the many hours I'd put in on a Pentecostal pew. 

"I'll tell you this, though," he said. "If you were in trouble, or hurt or something awful had happened and we couldn't find you, I bet the first thing your mom would do is pray."

She immediatley disagreed. "I don't think so Dad. I think she'd dial 9-1-1."

I laughed out loud when he told me about it last night and again this afternoon when she confirmed it. She's sticking to her guns about what she thinks I'd do. 

For the record, I'm pretty sure I'd hedge my bets and send up a flare as I dialed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

No sommelier? No problem.

I don't usually drink alone. Unless you count the bath tub, and even then, I'm usually fortunate to have at least one visitor inquiring as to whether I need anything. So it's not really a solitary occasion.

But sometimes, I feel like wine and my favorite sommelier, AKA the Captain, isn't around to ponder what vintage would serve me/us best. Choosing the wine is kind of his thing, so I don't often venture into our wine cellar. 

It's a cellar only in the sense that it's in the basement. We have a wine rack tucked into a closet in the coolest, darkest corner of the house. We have it because one year I was desperate for a "good" gift for Jeff for Christmas and decided he should stop piling up bottles in the corner. (This was far better received than the year I thought he'd love a hat rack.)

The same year I bought him the wine rack, I bought him a leather-bound wine journal so he could jot down all the research he does on his wines. But he's a Renaissance man and keeps his wine data in a Dropbox document so he can always pull it up no matter where he is.

I knew all this. But sometimes I get all full of myself and decide I can pick my own damn bottle. So I went to what I thought was an OK shelf on the wine rack. Some bottles I know are there for the long haul. (His digital wine journal says so.) Others are expensive (for us) and for special occasions. But there are some rows just fine for a Tuesday night, and I was pretty sure I had the right one.

Lemme tell ya, the wine I chose was spectacular for a Tuesday.  That''s because the 2006 Chateau Fleur Cardinale Saint-Emilion Grand Cru was a fine wine. According to the Dropbox wine diary, one wine critic, upon its birth, opined that it would be perfectly lovely. Between 2018 and 2023.  

Jeff swallowed hard when he saw the open bottle on the counter top. When I told him I was really enjoying it, he just said, "I'm very glad to hear that."

I DID take me several days to finish it, and I shared the last of it with my good friend Kirsten Jasheway. So while it may have been decanted a bit early, it was celebrated and fussed over as it should have been.

In other news, we ARE still married and mostly happily so. Alison ended her basketball career (perhaps forever) this afternoon with, sadly, a loss. But, there were cupcakes, she scored a free-throw, had a few rebounds and somehow escaped a foul call when she hip-checked an opponent.

We had a busy weekend with Helen Mansfield as our guest. We haven't had Helen overnight for a long time so it was fun to have her in the house. The girls baked cupcakes -- chocolate with fresh raspberry filling -- and generally cavorted about when they weren't busy with their own activities. 

Jeff was on his annual trek to West Lafayette with his buddies where they again went to a place with three Xs in the name that they swear is all about hamburgers. 

With basketball and a Tastefully Simple party at Aunt La's already on the calendar, Ali informed me this morning that she needed to paint a couple of paintings for a presentation due tomorrow at school. She's been studying Vincent Van Gogh and claims she'd mentioned the need to pick up canvass and paint. The wine might have dulled my memory of this, but regardless, we had last-minute homework to do.

So after Lyn's party, we flew to Michael's to get the goods. Helen had her own homework and needed to get home and I'm hoping she got to it OK. It was a FUN weekend. I'd totally forgot to cover homework duties.

Alison went straight to painting when we got home and Helen left soon after. If we're lucky the paintings will dry by morning. Yes, there's more than one, and that was by design. Alison had a vision of copying Van Gogh's  Crows in Wheat Field" painting as art critics saw it as well as a sloppier version to symbolize how his fellow villagers saw it. Turns out his friends and family never saw the brilliance of his work. It took out-of-towners to see it.

And, even better, the field is the location where the artist chose to off himself. So it's a perfect image for her presentation about the artists' life, work, self-worth and death. 

Given the short time span, I'd tried to talk her into a less ambitious presentation but she struck to her guns. (No pun intended, Vincent.) They're turning out really well and I'm proud of her for coming up with the concept and getting it done. Even if it did seem a bit last-minute. (Thanks, Helen, for finding the smaller canvasses. Key move.)

Heck. The paintings are even kind of good! But that might be the wine talking...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hello. My name is Cheryl and I am addicted to Candy Crush

I knew better. I've been down this road before. But I've been too many places with Jeff Reed lately where there was a lull in activity and he was just sitting there patiently, not complaining or impatient at all.

He was playing Candy Crush on his big-ass Android phone. 

I ignore it for a long time. Fidgeted. Complained. Whined about waiting whether it was waiting for Alison's basketball game to start, at the gym with no reading material. At the odd, long stop light.

FinallyI downloaded the goddamn thing and I'm this far away from inviting my friends on Facebook and actually spending real money to extend my lives when I lose too many times in a roll and it puts me in time out.  Yeah. It locks you out unless you pay up or invite others into the addiciton.

So far, I've accepted the break and returned to paying attention to things like my kid, my family, the soup bubbling over on the stove. You know, real stuff. I'm addicted and I don't even want to stop.

But here's the thing: I can work out a long time if I have a book to read, but sometimes I'm between reading stock and I don't want to re-read an old favorite again. This stupid Candy Crush game got me through a two-hour workout Friday and then another hour wait for Jeff to get out of city Permit Pergatory.  I didn't complain once! Well, except when I kept losing.

Anyway, besides my online gaming problem, we did manage to find some fun this weekend. We got lucky to score Jenna for the weekend and even a bit of Alex Ogden. It was day care days all over again even though they've all grow about three feet since then. And their bathroom habits are much improved.

They still fight and punch and giggle like they were 2, though. So it's always fun just to listen to them.

At one point they'd been catching up on each others love life and I remarked that Alex was their cute boy. Simultaneously they all groaned. Jenna: "Well that's kind of possessive. " Alison: "Mom. He's just my friend."

I agreed that he was their friend, but "Who doesn't need a cute boy in their life? No one!"

I couldn't swear to it, but I think Alex was fine with his position in the threesome.

It used to be that he'd be in the thick of their nonsense but as he's growing up taller than both of them and has that teenage air of coolness, I see him occasionally just watching them with this bemused expression on his face. "Is it still OK to hang with girls?" I asked him.

He grinned, said, "They're loud," but yeah, he still has a good time. Later, when they went to the bathroom together, he and Jeff just shook their heads at them. Ten years ago, he'd have been pounding on the door and they'd find a way to sneak him in. Ah. Maturity.

Speaking of cute boys, Halloween was a raw night and only the bravest -- or silliest -- trick-or-treaters were out. That mean Drew hung about in the house when the girls went out and we had the best time sitting around Amer's kitchen table sharing stories. Drew is like, 6-feet tall now. Definitely a cute boy. And not too cool to spend some time with the old folks.

I'd tell you more stuff but I think my Candy Crush time out is over. Happy Halloween! Don't forget to vote Tuesday!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

That's testosterone for you

As miracles go, it probably won't rank up there with fishes and loaves or turning water into wine, but around Chez Reed, it was pretty profound: Jeff did yardwork yesterday.

He'd come home sick from work on Friday and like a good Ebola carrier, immediately quarantined himself from us. Once on the couch downstairs, he didn't move. He barely watched TV. Apparently he needed the rest.

I'd taken the day off so was able to get most of our chores done before getting Alison to the salon for her historic hair cut. Ali went to a concert with her friend Nick and his family. Lilly and Madeline Jurkiewicz are  soon to become global phenoms and they had a concert in town. I had Bunco, and Jeff had the couch. 

But Saturday morning, he was dressed, up before Alison and talking about chores like a squirrel who'd feasted on fermented acorns. The switch from near-death to weekend warrior was remarkable.

"That''s testosterone for you," Alison said.

After she got dressed, she discovered him on the roof and decided elevation was far more exciting than the laundry waiting at basement level.

In the 90 minutes she had before Young Actors Theater, she'd swept out gutters and helped trim a scraggly fir tree that was clogging leaves at the corner of the house. I wasn't sure I'd get her down, but I lured her with Ramen.

I generally work out while she's acting, and we also hit the grocery. So it was nearly four hours before we got back home. We pulled in the drive to find a bunch of distended lawn bags at the curb and all the debris that had floated down from the roof was gone.

"I think he mowed the yard," I said. 

"Wait. Dad did yardwork?" she said.

We looked at each other. Jeff bounded out of the house to us, enormous grin on his face, recounting all the outdoor work he'd done and reaching into the trunk to lift out groceries. "Who are you and what have you done with the Captain," I asked.

Now married people, I have a riddle for you. Alison had a sleepover planned, and her pick-up was set to occur within 30 minutes of our return. He'd not only done yardwork, and cleand up, but he'd spoken with the shed guy who we've been planning to contact for about three years now.  It's on schedule to be done before Thanksgiving. And, he'd scoped out movie times for "The Judge," which I'd said I wanted to see.

What do you think that grin was all about?

For the record, I'm a fan of testosterone.

That's my girl

Throughout my pregnancy I worried. 

Would we make it to term? Would he/she be healthy? Would I know what to do with it once it was home? 

How would it affect our marriage? What if I couldn't do it. What if he/she got my legs and Jeff's arms and had to walk around like a chimpanzee?

Beyond the health concerns, my most common fear was if we would like each other.

My experience with newborns and infants wasn't great. I only really liked kids once they were able to communicate with words, if not complete sentences. I preferred those that could handle their own bathroom needs.

Thirteen years later, I still worry. The list is different but one from the past is missing: I really like her. And mostly she really likes me.

I'm not sure I've ever been more proud of her than I am right now, though. Folks who grew up with me know I've been surrounded by redheads since forever. Having her emerge with red hair was a shock to everyone, though. And her hair has been a remarkable feature since it grew in. My siblings and parents represented every shade from deep auburn to orange-y to Deb's mix of copper and gold.

Alison got the best of it all. Deb's color with wave and curl that you see in shampoo commercials. My stylist, Julie, did her best to match my "enhancements" to Alison's natural color but it's just not something you can recreate with science. 

One day we were heading home for a visit and stopped in to the Plainfield McDonald's. Alison was about four, I think, and wanted to order herself, so I gave her money and she marched up to the counter to make the transaction. In the car heading southwest, we unpacked the white bag to find an extra toy in her Happy Meal.

I wondered how that had come to be. She didn't even look up from sorting her nuggets in the back seat: "It's the hair, mom."

On Friday, for the first time in 13. 5 years of growth, those firey gold and red tresses got more than a trim. Ten inches or so of them were tied off into eight pony-tails and chopped. They're headed for Locks of Love. It was totally her idea, fully researched and planned out.

Our friend, Nicole, at Ado handled the cutting. No drama, other than me sneaking photos.

I'd worried that such a severe change in her look would be too much all at once and Nicole had joined me in counseling her about maybe going halfway and seeing if she was OK with it. Days earlier we were talking about it and she asked me if I was OK with the plan. 

"You know, Mom, I'm more than my hair," she said.

At the salon, she politely informed me that she didn't need me standing by the chair. In the few minutes it took me to relocate to the drying area, put down my purse and return with the camera, Nicole had gone to town and there was no going back.

We drove to Jenna's house right after to get their take. Jenna had really wanted to be with us but the girls' Fall Breaks didn't coincide and Amer wouldn't let me spring Jen early. Amid the squeals and gasps from Jenna, Amy, Lynda -- even Tom --  and me, Drew walks in. 

"Nice hair," says the 15-year-old.

No better compliment could have been laid down. She'd expected the girls to be ooh-y and aah-y. But Drew's understated remark sealed the deal.

I'm biased, of course, but I think the cut is really cute, too. Although now I'm worried that it's too cute. "I feel like I'm in college," she said. (Oy vey.)

I hope the new look and product that had to come wiht it means she'll actually want to style it a little bit. Even is she doesn't, the shortened snarls will be easier to tame. 

It doesn't really matter, of course. The hair will grow back or we'll keep it short. She'll do something with it or it'll be a shorter rat's nest.  What's important is there's a little girl out there who's lost her hair to cancer or some other terrible disease who needs a little boost of confidence. 

I hope she wears her new hair to a McDonalds and scores a pile of toys and extra french fries. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014


Alison is getting aquainted with frozen peas in a new way. She usually uses them to cool down and nutrition up her Ramen noodles. This afternoon they iced down her ankle, victim of her other ankle and the full weight of her body.

The CKS Tigers Cadet B Squad is 3-0. Alison was only one of the girls who got hurt today. They were all injuried by the other team, however.

She's doing fine. Kind of enjoying her time of the couch if truth be told. Jeff's liked it, too, because she finally watched a bit of football with him.

I've been helping her a bit with the laundry this weekend because even before she rolled her ankle, she'd been coughing more than I like. She's been having her meals on the "sick person's tray" in her room as often as she can. At 4 p.m. I decided she probably needed to give a little back.

So I brought her a couple loads of the latest dried clothing.

"Uh. Mom," she reminded me. "I'm injured." 

I reminded her that folding requires no use of the ankle.

In other news, she also got cracked on the head at a Halloween party. There was a little blood and there's a scab, but it didn't keep her down for long.

She's been on a roll of sorts, lately.

We were in the car and she was outraged by a commercial playing on the radio that featured something about the family turning to the mom for dinner because they were somehow unable to feed themselves.

"As if Moms are the only ones who cook," she said, full of feminist passion. "I mean, like, you NEVER cook."

I glanced at her. "I cook," I asserted.

"No you don't," she said.

"Do too."

"Do not."

"I do, too!  I make killer lasagna and sausage & peppers. I make soup practically every week," I said. "And meatloaf. I make meatloaf."

"You have never made meatloaf," she scoffed.

"Do too. You and your dad don't like it so I don't make it very often," I said.

"I LOVE meatloaf. I have it at Miss Amy's with mashed potatoes," she said, rubbing her stomach.

I stopped talking. Amy also has white bread. Jeff DOES cook most of our meals. I'm more famous for take-out, salads and cereal. And pancakes. I used to make pancakes a lot. 

I got a little freakes out at parent-teacher conference when one of the teachers volunteered that Ali is blunt, calls it like she sees it, and that it sometimes gets her in a little social trouble.  I cringed.

My lack of diplomacy wasn't wasn't among the things I wanted to pass on. My Facebook friends have talked me off the ledge, but I'm still hoping I can temper my thoughts better. And that there's time for Alison. Once  she gets off the couch, of course.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Scratch that

We went to the wedding of Josh and Cassie Lee on Saturday and it might have been the most fun wedding we've been to since 1998. 

Let me qualify that statement. We've been to some super fun weddings. This one gets special consideration because we went in thinking we'd know only the bride and groom, so it would be a bit awkward.

Annie Strahla, particularly should take note of this. And maybe you, Niki: there's much to tell your fellow wedding-planning addicts.

First, it was outside on a horse farm and deceptively simple. The backdrop was the farm, of course, which was gorgeous. So picture rolling hills with fenced in pastures, a small lake, a large and a high-roofed, open shelter in front of a gatherin of wooden chairs. Behind us was a beautiful old barn and surrounding us more pastures and hills. Overhead, an amazing, October sky that finished with a spectacular sunset.  (I stole this shot from Cassie's Facebook page.)

The wedding party stood in front of the structure.  and a small arched, trellis with a few sprays of grape vines and baby's breath. Three beautiful hand-made quilts hung from one wall of the open structure as a back drop for Cassie, Josh and the minister. It was stunning.

The men walked in from the right. The bridesmaids from the left. Cassie's dad drove to the back of the crowd in her grandfather's pick-up truck. She stepped out in a swirl of blinding white and the slight wind took her veil, which if you know Cassie, had to be a work of art. 

She laughed. He laughed. He caught the veil, tossed it in the truck, took her hand and brought her forward.

The ceremony was lovely. The music perfect. 

Inside a large white tent next to all this was the reception. As you entered, guests were asked to sign quilt blocks that will later be assembled for the couple, and to also take Polaroids of their partyto leave behind. You got your table assignment in exchange for the photo.

There was an open bar, as well as gourmet popcorn to tide you over until dinner. The decor was lovely but the thing that really got people buzzing was the fact that each of the few dozen tables was dressed held a different, guest-made (or Cassie-made) pastry.

There was flour-less chocolate cakes, 6-layer red velvet, a layered chocolate fudge, apple, spice, carrot, bundt, apple pies, large cupcakes, peach tortes, something that looked nutty. An amazing array. And of course, Alison's own brown-butter, butter-sugar mini-cupcakes topped with carmelized creme brule sugar sprinkles.

Ali and Cassie bonded early over their joint love of baking and along with our invitation to the event was a special request that Ali be among Cassie's friends who would contribute a dessert. How sweet is that?  You don't have to do much to make me your friend for life. Being good to my kid will do it. I can't describe how special that invitation was to Ali.

Reports back were that her cupcakes didn't just fit it; they were a huge hit. No hint at all that they were done by a 13-year-old who doesn't even have a Pinterest account. 

There was a traditional, but small, wedding cake, and there were other bits of lovely decor. But the shared dessert idea was brilliant. It didn't just give people a way to be personally involved in the wedding, it was an incredible ice breaker. Perfect strangers, long-time friends and family were trading treats back and forth, table hopping and sharing the night as if they'd all grown up together.

We did run into one couple friend there, and weren't seated with them --or Ali for that matter. But we made great friends with the people at our table and we fully expect to see them in real life out side of the Mr. and Mrs. Lee connection. One couple at our table turned out to be someone I'd worked with years ago so it was way fun catching up. 

In short, we went to the wedding because we love Josh and Cassie, and their inclusion of Alison was beyond sweet. But we didn't really expect to have a fabulous time. You've been to those weddings where you enjoy yourself but you're not really deep into the mix and it gets a little long. This was not that.

I need to introduce Cassie and my friend Niki. Niki is a wedding expert who dabbles in doling out advice and moderating conversations on a wedding planning site. It was amazing on so many levels.
I can't believe I didn't snap some photos. I just was having too much fun.     

Alison put a lot of work into the cupcakes and had rejected a bunch of ideas of what to make. Her work is all from scratch, of course, and she's got a bit of stuff on her plate already. 

In the midst of the wedding project homework, cheerleading, play practice and basketball for her, and  general work stuff and Book Club for me, we got late word that desserts were needed for a school fundraiser that was occurring on the night of the wedding.

We'd already offered to loan our cornhole board for the school event, and sponsored a team in our place. I asked Ali if she wouldn't mind doing an additional baking job, which I'd make easier by using a box mix as the base.  She looked askance at the box mix but given our general state of busy-ness, reluctangly agreed that this was a the smartest way. She baked the school cupcakes Thursday before basketball practice. 

There was no discussion about me making the things. Desserts are strictly an Alison job at our house.

I'd asked if I could just use excess wedding project icing for the school cupcakes to disguise the less-than-our-personal-best cupcakes.  

"Uh, no," she said.  "And if you don't mind, I would rather that you don't tell anyone I made these," she said.

I inquired as to why.

"Mom," she said. "It's a box mix. I don't want my good name tarnshed."

I informed her that she was a snob. A confectionary snob.

She loudly disagreed to the snobbery but stands by her baking standards. In exchange for her help with icing them, I agreed to let it go. And take credit for the school cakes. We further agreed that I'd buy icing for them.

Friday was wedding baking night for her; book club for me and, as it turns out, a spontaneous work fun thing for Jeff.  He had the Subaru and wasn't going to be home in time to get the cornhole boards to school. I had Book Club.

I rushed in late, gave Ali the sushi she'd asked for for her lonely dinner, along with ingredients she needed for her wedding icing and the store-bought icing. I'd planned to shower before Book Club but the shopping and work had put an end to that. 

My Book Club is great. They'd let me slide in stinky as long as I had wine, I knew that. So I collected my wine and other Book Club stuff, double checked my directions and set about stuffing the cornhole boards into my Mustang. 

They fit -- barely -- into my car by leaving the trunk open and squeezing my front seat nearly to the dashboard. We said our goodbyes and I puttered to the school in a light rain with stuff hanging out of my car.

It was only as I started out that I realized I hadn't wrapped the cupcakes, just asked Ali to toss them in disposable pans. I should have known she'd get them in there and not think about preservation. Even as she disdained her association with them, she did make them look pretty. Unprotected, but pretty.

It all worked out. I hope. We'll hear back today, I'm sure, at the football game where she'll cheer before heading out to basketball practice.

Somehow I have no pictures of any desserts or even the wedding. We had a great time though. Cornhole would have been fun, too. But I hear some of those desserts were store-bought, so we made the right choice.

Sent from my iPad