Sunday, August 28, 2016

Stormy weather, but we're still together

It's hard to complain about rainy weather and the shrill of repeated tornado sirens when our fellow Hoosiers up the road had devastation and folks in Italy lost lives in that earthquake. Our neighborhood lost a bunch of mature trees; sustained damage to others and were were without power for a while.

But just branches down at our house, and our Jasheway friends, who had a mature tree snap about 30 feet up, had very little damage to their porch. So more an inconvenience and additional chores than anything for us, thank goodness. It was kind of amazing to see our streets in water deep enough to paddle board on and to watch garbage cans float down Carvel Avenue.

Somehow in between the sirens and the clean up, we managed to have a fun night out with Rebecca Weir, our favorite Butler freshman. (That'll teach Alison to make plans with her friends.) We saw this awesome art exhibit along the downtown Indianapolis canal and had an amazing meal at City BBQ which advertises the convenience of "pig up and go." We pigged up and stayed and were lucky we didn't have to roll ourselves along the canal.

My photos of the art aren't very good, but it was pretty awesome and a celebration of the 100th year of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, which does pretty awesome things in and around Indy. Typical of their mission, they shared their celebration with the city, free-of-charge, and it was a packed canal.

Becca and I loved the coral reef. Jeff was fascinated with a guy who somehow made music with water, and we all loved the lighted up dresses that a series of girls were showing off as they strolled along the canal.

Saturday morning -- remember we had no power -- found me prepping for a TV interview on how to avoid storm clean up scams at my favorite pancake house - Lincoln Square. I skipped the food but was in desperate need of coffee and a charging opp for my phone and iPad.

Ali had a surprise party in the afternoon and a separate sleepover that night. Normally those Sunday mornings after a sleepover are slow pickup dates, but Jeff had to go get her for me as we'd committed to the Mommy Mile -- a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House. I had to be there early to help. Jeff and Ali, along with Karin Ogden (a sick Alex stayed home) Lisa Vielee and Lynn Sinex. My friend Vicki Burdick, her daughter Audrey, and I were helping out Michelle Study-Campbell and a bunch of others for the event. We even got lucky and snagged Angie Barnes to do the warm-up. 

Ali showed me a few stretching moves and then I made the mistake of telling her I was going to lap her on our 5K. She took off with Karin and I didn't see her for a while. As she dragged "Miss Karin" along, Alison was chattering away. Karin said, "Hey, what would you think about calling me just 'Karin',?"

Ali tried it out. "Uh, no. That's weird. I'll still be calling you Miss Karin when you're 80."

I played pick-up-sticks in the yard while Ali did laundry and Jeff went over to help Duane cut his fallen tree down to size. Ali and I snuggled while J&D went to another beer tasting. Rumor has it that they may need a ride home.  I may not be their best bet.

Feeling a little like Superwoman, I made a crock pot pot roast, and it called for a cup of red wine. That leaves a bit of a bottle for the girl who's exceeded her step goal by a lot the last few days...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The ripple effect

Sometimes I worry that I'm the worst influence in Alison's life.

It was from me that she picked up her love of cursing. Something she does -- almost always -- out of our earshot but I know she's a sailor-in-training. I sometimes commit minor traffic violations in her presence, and when it's just her and I and she asks if we can lay around like dogs watching TV with carryout for dinner, I almost always say yes.

I even blew off a parents' back-to-school night meeting to watch the Olympics with her. But I have landed a couple of solids in the good column, too, I discovered this week.

She was waxing poetic in the car coming home, telling me about some friends of hers who were complaining about their parents. One was unhappy that her parent(s) were too busy working and couldn't get her to something she wanted to do. Shopping or movies; something fun. They were terrible, awful people, not able to take five minutes off for their daughter. (Yeah, I know there's more to this story, but this is what I know.)

Alison said she listened for a while and then said, "You know where your electricity comes from, right? Food and water and stuff like that? Your parents have to work to pay for that stuff."

To another parent basher, she questioned the level of abuse they were actually suffering. "I'm pretty sure they're not that terrible," she said, pointing to another friend who was actually victimized by physical abuse. "Is it that bad? I didn't think so."

She shifted to talking about some friends complaining about the pain and agony of menstrual cramps. Apparently it's quite the topic of conversation and Ali herself has commented more than once about a girl who "saved my life" when she shared a chewy, double-chocolate brownie just in time.

Ali used to reject chocolate out of hand. Lately she's been carrying an Altoids tin that she's stuffed full of chocolate chips. Just in case another crisis erupts.  Somehow during the course of this latest hot topic, she turns to me and says, "The first thing you ever mentioned to me about it was that I'd better never try to be a "B" and blame it on my period. If I did that, you said you would have no sympathy for me."

I disputed her recall. I'm pretty sure we talked a lot about puberty and all its wonder pre, post and during. But then she reminded me of the day I'd made that impression.

We were in Target and there was a girl who was just ripping her mother a new one right in the line to the cashier. It was uncomfortable and the mom eventually caught my eye, shrugged and excused the behavior with, "She's on her period."

It was likely then that I whipped around to Ali and intoned the message that she'd better not take that incident as behavior she should emulate. Apparently I was a bit more forceful than I had intended.

I will move Heaven and Earth to keep Ali from being unhappy or in pain. And I know that periods play different levels of havoc on all who suffer through them. But it's not a blank check to be a bee-yatch to your mother or anyone else.

Side note: I'm fully aware that I, myself, am sometimes bitchy. You might try to trace it to a 28-day schedule, but sadly, sometimes I'm just cranky and I fail in my struggle to keep it from spewing like a broken water main.  Or I'm busy and I give my co-workers the virtual or actual hand.

This is a bit of a "do-as-I-say; not-as-I-do" kind of scenario, I know. But I struggle to overcome. If I can keep her from having this challenge in her repertoire , I'll be happy. And possibly make up for teaching her bad words.

Regarding my driving, Ali and I were on our own Friday as Jeff went to a friend's bachelor party kind of thing. I asked her how she was coming with her mission to convince the Captain to let her get her drivers' learner's permit.  She said she was still working on it and I offered to take her out to teach her to drive a bit.

"No offense, Mom, but no way," she said.

As I've been down this road with her in the past, I was not surprised, but I've really been thinking that she'd relent the longer she goes without getting behind the wheel when 16 is coming fast.

"Come on! It'll be fun," I said.

"Mom. You are a TERRIBLE driver. You know it. I know it. Miss Amy knows it," she said. "I really think I need to learn from Dad."

I argued back for a while but she was having none of it.  The ungrateful wench.

In reality, it's probably a good idea that I don't teach her to drive. There may be a few curse words she doesn't know yet. Better to keep it that way...

I leave you with her discovery that she is now the same length as our yoga mat, which is problem. Apparently she can no longer create a human sushi roll. Guess we need a longer yoga mat...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

If you can't be an athlete...

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to educate my friend Molly as she's worked to inform Angie's List about our annual softball tournament. There are a ton more people who do not play softball than there are those who agree to, and I among those who agree to but shouldn't.

And if there were more of a choice, I'm sure I'd be relegated quickly to the cheer squad. But the cheer squad is important, as the mission of the softball tournament is to raise money for the AL Foundation, which helps a ton of great nonprofits in our corporate neighborhood.

Molly resisted my efforts to use what I thought was a perfect line -- the school announcer from Rydell High: "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter." I chuckled every time I encouraged Molly to put it into an internal communique.

Sadly, Molly is more sophisticated than I am. And the lack of that phrase didn't curb our efforts. We missed our goal of raising $45,000 by less than $3K.

Though happy at the donations, I am still in recovery from the tournament. Our team started incredibly strong because it was stacked mostly with Kelsey Taylor's family, some other men who were high school standouts, and Jeff Reed in his second annual tour as pitcher. We had a few injuries and after my first few good plays, I rapidly descended to perform at the level of a 52-year-old person who plays softball once a year.

It occurred to me about six hours in that I was terribly misplaced. One of our guys was talking about how he'd been with his girlfriend for 12 years but at 24, he was just not ready for marriage. I opted not to tell him that college romances, let alone middle school, don't count. I was too busy reeling from the idea that I had almost three decades of living on him. How that happened, I just don't know.

It seemed like yesterday that I was playing softball at least once a week. Kind of terribly. But still. I could run the bases and make outs. So yeah. I need a new team. A geezer league. Jeff, who actually does still play regularly, didn't seem to suffer as much as I did.

We played from around 6 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday. By the time I crawled into our tent, I was filthy, stinky, sore and blinded by my need to sleep. Jeff stayed up a while, he said. He could have been in there with me for all I knew. Once I got prone, I was dead to the world.

Alison, who'd had plans on the West Side and thus had to camp out with us, didn't watch us play. She walked around a bit and chatted with folks but then couldn't resist the lure of her new Harry Potter book. She finished it before we finished our games.

Earlier in the week -- her last full week off before school starts -- saw her building Camp Kick Ass in our living room and then blowing up a bunch of balloons and stuffing them in my shower. Jeff and I took them out when she was distracted and put them in her bedroom. I came home to find them in my bathroom. They're in my bathtub now and I'm debating finding the energy to stuff them in her tub.

We had a very short visit from Uncle Peter and Alison's favorite cousin, Nicodemus. Peter and Jen are planning a Harley Davidson trip to Sturgis, South Dakota. He's driving  out and she will fly to meet him. The only think I know about Sturgis is my sister, Debbie, on a similar trip, was struck by lightning and made the local paper.

Tomorrow is the annual Ali and Mom day-before-school extravaganza. I'm glad I had Saturday and Sunday to prepare. We don't have a plan yet, and I'm a little worried that our day out will be interrupted by the Olympics.

Since she was able to escape him, Alison has not been a committed sports fan. She used to watch the Red Sox with Jeff and she created a great painting once that had the Yankees descending into hell. But for a long time, sports have not been a focal point.

This morning, as I cleaned cars, she crawled into bed with Jeff and the of them stayed there until late afternoon watching various Olympic events. I'm sure the neighbors could hear them cheering and gasping and calling out "No!" and "Yeah!" and wincing out loud.

I wandered in for the end of women's cycling and was crushed right along with them when Mara Abbott lost her lead and finished fourth. 

Regardless of the outcomes, the captain was in heaven. She begged him to have Sunday dinner downstairs so they could keep watching. I'm not sure what happened to cause this sudden fascination with sports, but it's been fun to listen to them.

Just before dinner, they relocated from our bedroom to the family room downstairs and she took on a less active couch potato role. But he was still beaming.

Despite my aching everything, I'd have to say that life is good today.