Monday, August 30, 2010


"Yes, Mom, please, please, please can I be in the parade??" said the six year old.  "Sure, you can be in the parade.  You will have to wear your team leotard and tennis shoes - and you might have to walk and do cartwheels - is that still ok?" said the mom.  Little did I know that it would be the hottest, muggiest, most shadeless day of the year.  No matter, we promised - and a promise is a promise.  We have lived in this area for only three years and had never attended this particular parade before.  We knew it would be an adventure for all of us... and it was.   
Hair done - check.  Shiny leotard on - check.  Water bottle ready - check.  We proceed to the parade line-up which is actually a gargantuan, snaking line of political candidates wear humongo stickers with their own name printed on them, hoards of dancers, karate kids, gymnasts, and fitness buffs screaming out the specials at their gyms. 
Where I come from, parades are teeming with proud veterans, antique cars, boy scouts, fire engines with high school cheerleaders riding on top, horses, marching bands, a smattering of political candidates, men driving tiny Shriner's cars, and large farm equipment.  Everyone in town comes and squishes into less than a mile of main street with their bag chairs and blankets to sit on.  This was different.  Very few people were actually sitting on the curb, and chairs were spread out few and far between.  There were large gaps between "floats" - and at times, it seemed as if the parade watchers might just be some random walkers out for their daily stroll.  And the parade - when it finally got to us -  went on for what seemed to be miles and miles.
At last, our daughter was seen in the distance and we knew she would be passing by soon.  Camera - set, family lined up along the curb for high fives - check.  Yes I see her!  Here she comes!  She's doing cartwheels and running!  As she approaches, she smiles, waves, and dumps a load of candy on her brother.  She jumps into cartwheel mode, and she's gone.
So here's the wrap-up: Traffic, parade line-up mayhem, buckets of sweat, possible heat stroke, and two miles of walking alongside the Gold's Gym float where the participants are screaming, "PUMP IT UP - BURN 500 CALORIES - ONLY PLACE IN MINNESOTA YOU CAN DO THE JAM!!!" -so that we can pick up our overheated little bambino at the end of the parade - all for two seconds of watching a shiny, green jumping bean spring right by us - and then find out later that she doesn't even remember seeing us or unloading candy on her brother.
Good times.  Next year's response, "Oh, I forgot to tell you... they cancelled the parade... permanently... sorry."

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Prompt: What is the oddest item someone would find in one of the drawers in your home or office?
When I was teaching Kindergarten, I had all sorts of interesting items in my desk drawers - usually confiscations from all-too-wise Kindergartners.  Sometimes items that secretly come to school, needed to be put out of distraction's way when being shown and wielded at one's table or at carpet time.  But what is most interesting about the collection of items stored in my desk drawer until it's time-out was over, is that they were usually items of no or little value.  Things like torn up eraser tops, straws bent into all kinds of contortions, plastic medallions, knots of rubber bands, little pencil sharpeners, rocks, pieces of shoelaces and random Happy Meal toys - all standard fare.  However, every once in a while I might run across something of more value and concern like an unknowing mom's diamond earrings carefully concealed in a kleenex... or maybe a dad's driver's license that happened to fall out of a child's back pocket.  One of my favorites was a beat-up beyond recognition plastic sword that had been taken away because the owner was fencing unarmed children on the playground  -not because I had ruffled the feathers of the child when I took it, but because it was his mom who came storming in after it on the last day of school.  Interesting.  Must have been an important piece in her plastic sword collection?
Now at home, it's my kids who protect rather odd treasures in their dresser drawers.  And just as I am writing this, I am thinking I should probably be a little more concerned about what might be in the desk drawers of my children's teachers... am I missing any earrings, documents...  or plastic swords??

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I am not the ideal soccer mom.  This is why:
1. When the rosters came out and I realized that my son was not on the same team as his friend, I quickly whipped up an email to the organizer to let him know how disappointing this was.  My son and his friend no longer attend the same school, and have chosen to make soccer their continued connection.  It clearly states on the registration form: "Please indicate who you are carpooling with, so that we can put your children on the same team."  What part of "please indicate" did he not get?  The response I got was clearly to neutralize me and my request that he be changed to the appropriate team was politely denied.  So, I became a bit more of an "advocate" for my son, and fired off another email - with a few more details.  The next response insinuated that I had not made a request at all and that in fact, another child (whom I had never heard of) had requested my son to be on his team.  What could I do?  I had to make a threat.  I was in full "mama bear" form now.  OK, here goes:  "My husband will not coach unless the appropriate changes are made."  The next email back to me simple stated:  "Fine."
2. On to the next child.  Through a series of snafus on several people's parts - including mine - she was somehow placed on a team of girls three years older than she is.  I thought it was a bit strange, but this was our first time - and how did I know that it wasn't normal for all of the girls to be a good foot taller than she is?  We got to the bottom of it, apologies were made, rosters were clarified and she ended up on the correct team - who were all the correct size.  Here's the kicker, she played one practice with the big girls - not knowing what she was doing, but because of her pure guts and determination, she got right in there and fought for her spot.  So on the second practice when Mama finally realized something wasn't right and went to take the six year old from one practice to the appropriate one, the six year old calmly said from the middle of the huddle, "No, Mom this is my team... they NEED me."  Right.
I have officially become the parent that I dreaded as a teacher.  How did this happen?  One day, I'm a crowd pleasing public servant, the next I am "The crazy mom who no teacher wants to have to deal with!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Way in Which Things are Done

Today's prompt:  Describe a person you know who does everything slowly and methodically.
Oh, do I know someone.  He wears a belt at all times, has a seating chart for all articles of clothing in his dresser, gets his hair trimmed every three weeks without fail, makes mathematical calculations on paper before hanging pictures in the living room, and takes pride in the fact that his lawn is the greenest and most lush on the cul-de-sac.  He's industrious, tenacious, and exceedingly careful.  Yes, he's my husband.
I prefer to depend heavily on the pictures in the instructions to guide me, and look for tools as I need them.   When I get stuck, I just look back at the directions and hope that I haven't already ruined something beyond repair.  This is how I was raised, and so far it has worked out just fine for me - with the exception of a few mishaps.

The man I married is the polar opposite of me when it comes to project planning, implementation, and thoughtful summarizing of said project.  Example A:  One Christmas, we were up late putting a play kitchen together while the kids were sleeping.  My sister was also present for this event.  We let the "Head Engineer" snap all the big components together - after an agonizing hour of watching him lay out all the instructions, Allen wrenches, and stickers - all in the order in which they would be needed. (Smart - right?)  As my sister and I were starting to tire, we thought, "Surely, we could help out (and expedite the process) by slapping a couple of the stickers of play food and microwave buttons on their designated spots."  We were mistaken.  We were not-so-kindly asked to leave the premises.

Little did I know at the time of matrimony that this would be the way with everything: the assembling of garden hose reels, lawn care sprayers, and kickstand attachments to bikes. As well as with the installing of smoke alarms, shelf building, and my favorite - the blowing up of inflatable pools with all of their accouterments.   I shouldn't complain, everything is done with precision and care - and stays put together for a long time.  And if I were just a bit more methodical, I might not have as many nail holes in my walls where I miscalculated and I might have actually added the chicken to the Chicken Tettrezini before I served it to my guests. 
It just seems that there ought to be a happy medium between the two worlds of paying no attention to instructions and reading all instructions as if they might hold the key to immortality or world peace. Right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This past weekend, my children were on cloud nine!  They had the company of our neighbor's grandchildren who come to visit several times a year - they love those three boys - it's like a Lego, water-fight, trash our garage bonanza for 72 hours straight!  What more could a mom ask for?
Each of the boys has a very unique personality: The oldest is more reserved and sensitive but thinks my son (who is a year older than him) is the "bomb!"  So he follows my son around and hangs on his every idea of what they should do next. By the way, this is pure euphoria for my son - as his sister does NOT engage in that type of behavior with him.  Then there is the middle child, who has a twinkle in his eye and a story on his tongue at any given moment.  Such as: "My Dad climbed a tree even though there was a bear in it and now we have a bear rug.  Really.  But we sold the bear rug and now we are really rich.  I mean, I have some quarters - you want one?"  This is the child my daughter schemes with all day when we have the privilege of his presence.  And then, there is the youngest boy.  The twinkle in his eye is double the size a regular twinkle and his duty is to follow my husband around as he tries to do his weekly yard work.  The conversation is usually one-sided ( my husband has to say very little - which works for him) and goes something like this:  "Can I come in your house?  Do you have a dog?  Do you bite your fingernails or are they just red like that?  Can I light the grill?  Do you have a kite I could use? We have a ghost in our house - but he's nice.  Are you older than my mom?  We have a boat that flies.  Do you have a grandma who makes cookies and buys you shirts with bananas on them?  Can I have a popsicle?"  etc. etc. etc.  This line of questioning continues up until nap time and then reconvenes as soon as nap time is over.
What made this past weekend just a little more special is the fact that our neighbors (their grandparents) just finished an elaborate landscaping project that is complete with fountains, stony rock paths with waterfalls, statues, a firepit, a pergola, and several areas for sitting.  The fire pit has been of particular interest to the grandsons and they decided on their own that there would be a campfire - that we are ALL invited to.  There would be s'mores and beer (their words, I swear).  So after we ironed out the details of the beer announcement, we told our children that it would be fine if they wanted to have a campfire with our neighbors - assuming adults would be present.
As dusk arrived and my husband was finishing up his chores, we both took a glance toward the neighbors to see if there was a gearing up of the campfire.  No action yet, but it wasn't very dark yet - and heck, it's the weekend, they can stay up a little later if they want.  Kids are still running wild between the two yards and the proclamation of a campfire is still alive and kickin'.  Now it's getting a little bit later and the mom wants to get the details.  So I head over to the neighbors to see if there will indeed be a "kid's campfire" or not.  I get sidelined into checking out some of my husbands handiwork of the day... and the night gets later.  Now I am finally on my way to the "land of fountains and expensive wicker" to nail down a time and a curfew.
Here's the kicker:  not only is there no planned campfire... our neighbors are not even home!  There is a young babysitter who sleepily comes to the back sliding door - all drugged out on Wizards of Waverly Place and says, "Oh...yeah... where are the boys?  They should probably come in now.  I think the parents will be home soon."
Later, as I am putting to bed my very tired, disappointed, bug-eaten children to bed, my son groggily and sadly says, "I really wanted s'mores an "abeer."  What's "abeer?"

Monday, August 23, 2010

What risk?

So I was reading my Real Simple magazine and came upon their annual writing contest.  The prompt for this year's contest is "I never thought I'd..."  and then the thought is that you are to write about a time when you took a risk.  This is how my entry starts:  I never thought I'd have to read about a writing contest in a magazine to realize... I've... well.... not really taken any risks - or so I thought.
So I thought really hard and realized that the word "risk" is relative.  Maybe I haven't jumped out of a plane or say, bought something that wasn't in the back of the store on close-out clearance.  But I have taken risks - in my own way.
Risk #1:  Dressed up in a homemade mouse costume in high school and did a Chinese fire drill with other costumed friends in one of the busiest intersections (for a town of 30,000) on a Friday night.
Risk #2: Tried out way too many times for the high school musical - only to be rejected every stinkin' time.
Risk#3: Went away to college and ... well... had a really good time.  Enough said.
Risk#4: Bought a shiny unitard.
Risk#5: Fell in love with the wrong guy.
Risk#6: Fell in love with the right guy - who knew I would love a Republican?
Risk#7: Fell in love with two children born on the other side of the world and brought them home.
Risk#8: Became a mom.
I haven't entered the contest... because that would be a risk.  But then again, so is preparing carrot ginger soup (only 1 week post-op from a major surgery and still in a "medicated" state) with a malfunctioning blender that sprays the entire delicious puree all over my entire kitchen.  Not that I know anything about an incident such as that...  So maybe we all take risks - just not the kind you hear about on the evening news... or in writing contests... I think risks are all in the eye of the risk-taker.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Welcome back to school!

So the summer is coming to a close... it seems like we just started.  How does that happen every year?  It seems as though we were just looking forward to June - the month filled with anticipation of a great summer: no schedule, being with friends and family, vacations and day trips, projects, aspirations of learning something new... and before we know it, that darn Target is already stuffing the patio furniture back on to trucks and making room for huge displays of school supplies - why do they do that?  Am I the only one who refuses to even walk by the stacks of wide-ruled notebooks and buckets of dry erase markers until I am good and ready somewhere around the middle of August?  Either way, here we are. 
As I was standing in the backpack aisle, debating whether or not to buy a new lunchbox for each of the kids, I started smelling something rather funky.  "What is that stink?" I mention to my almost 4th grader.  I get the usual shrug of the shoulders, "I don't know...."  I follow my nose downward and realize that this stench is emanating from my son's feet and shoes.  Ick.  It's a cross between forgotten sour cream and sweaty hands - lovely... I am now guessing that the shoes I had thought would be "just fine" for inside wear are now a force to be reckoned with, and would likely kill a good sized rat.  So... onto the shoe store.  Another "favorite" place.  But now, because I have waited until this late date of August something, I get to witness a whole mess of moms shoving shoes onto their children's feet - shoes they don't want.  I believe this was one of the comments I heard, "If you don't get this shoe on and walk up and down the aisle right now, I will NEVER buy you another pair of shoes!!" I'm assuming that was an empty threat because as I turned to look, a child seeming to be all of about five years old whizzed by me, running for the door wearing an ill-fitting pair of non-character, non-lighting-up shoes.  Is that a DHS call?  Hmmm...
Ahhh.... and so it begins.  No more hiding from the notebooks and markers... welcome back to school!