Sunday, March 29, 2009

Driving in the Dark: Chocolate Shakes, Fancy Shoes, Loud Music and Bright Lights

I remember a long time ago, when I was driving somewhere with my kids.  2 year old John said, "Mommy, we are driving in the dark."  

It never dawned on me, how much we didn't drive around with the kids after sunset.  Bedtime was as early as we could set it and there was rarely a reason to be out after dinner.  We were a little bit like a reverse vampire family.

Last night we had our school auction in the city.  The ladies got their nails done and tweaked their outfits.  The men wore suits and we hit the town in a big way.  

This year, a group of us begged our friends or parents to take our kids overnight, so that we can book a hotel room and enjoy a get-away.

Free of our normal parental constraints, we let loose and bid, chatted, cut rugs to the booming music and pretty much had to be kicked out at the bitter end.  

Not ready to end our one night of freedom, the rumor spread that anyone still awake was heading to a speakeasy.   A speak easy?  What? Password?

Why not?  It isn't too often that we get to drive around in the dark.  Sometimes the answer to deciding to stay up late is: because we can.  So we speakeasied and then kept going to a local diner.

We ate onion rings and scrambled eggs and club sandwiches and slurped chocolate shakes.  We chatted and laughed and taxi cabbed it back to our hotel at 4:30 in the morning.  We were parents set free from our normal routine--we were finally out, driving around in the dark.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mommy, I Want A Pregnant Duck

By some stroke of genius, our school auctioned off a hamster at our annual school auction. The furry, little creature was brought to school and put on display in the hallway. At every minute of the day, even when the kids were supposed to be in class, there was at least one, tiny, hopeful face pressed against the bars of the cage just wishing...

That hamster and it's elaborate Habitrail became the talk of EVERY dinner conversation at our house between the onslaught of the display and the auction. It especially snagged the heart of our 6 year old third child. Our son has a dog and our middle daughter has a cat, so naturally, it was her birthright for us to be the high bidders on that hamster.

At the auction, my husband had a glimmer in his eye as they brought the hamster cage and all its trimmings to the bidding floor. We had said we absolutely WERE NOT bidding on a hamster, but how much trouble could a little hamster be? To my surprise (that old softie), he readied his bid number. As the bidding surged past $500 and topped out at $900, we were both in disbelief.

We broke the news to Birk the next day, and she took it pretty well. We had to explain a little bit about how an auction worked--what we didn't mention how much tequila you'd have to drink to spend that much on a hamster.

It seemed like that might be the end of it, but of course we weren't getting off that easy. That night at dinner, she wanted a turtle. Next night it was a bunny, then a rat. Lately, it's a pregnant duck, but she would take a chicken, if that's all we could get. Even with a boiled down explanation about the birds and the bees and local zoning(she said it would be fine with her if we moved to a farm), she is sticking with the duck.

Three kids, one dog, one cat and a pregnant duck? I'll keep you posted.

(this is a flashback post on last year's school auction...wish me luck this year!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Happy Spin On Life

Going to the gym is truly a luxury of time.  It eats a hole in your day bigger than a donut and I've resisted the pressure to commit to exercise in my lifestyle.  

I'm a curvier girl.  I am not built for speed.  Even my hair is very Roseanne Roseannadanna--it probably adds a good 5-8 pounds to the total on my scale.  Thus said, I am now 40 and it was like the Forty Fairies descended upon me with their magic wands on my  birthday and said you ate your birthday cake, now you will weigh, I mean pay.

My friend convinced me that spin class was the way to fight my need for Yummy Tummies and Spanx undergarments.  I'm always up for something new, but I feared that this something just might kill me--or make me look like a big, out of shape fool.

I took beginner baby steps.  I learned you could mostly cheat your way through spin class by adjusting the tension dial.  I actually did sweat and ache and drink lots of water through a whole 6 months of classes.  I smile and laugh a lot in class and probably don't take it as seriously as some instructors might like.

Most spinners have their game faces on.  They are sweaty and dead serious and you most definitely don't want to get in their way.  The favorite spin classes at the gym are crowded and you must get there early and angle your way in.

Today, at one of the most popular spin classes we had a substitute teacher.  He was goofy, loud and ready to have fun--as well as work our behinds off.  He was like the cheerleader of the spin instructors:

"Who wants to go faster?  Say, I DO!  Who wants to sprint?  Say YeeeeeHaaaa!  Now punch your fists in the air and whoop whoop!"

The serious spinners (SS) looked around, dubious.  I was whooping, hollering and pumping my fists and laughing like I was at a comedy club.  I had so much fun that I wished he taught every day.  The SS looked around and finally at the end of the class all but the die harders were smiling and singing to the Police.

All I could think was that this man was an unconventional ray of sunshine in the torture land of exercise.  He must be lots of fun to have as a friend--you know the kind of friend that says, "Let's just take off for Disneyland this weekend!"  Then you all go and have a great time.

I hope I can be a goofy ray of light to my friends.  I love the happy spin on life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm It? Now Tag, You're It!

I've just been tagged by two of my favorite blogging friends!  Tberri from The Four Scarbarys and Rae Ann from Critical Mass.  Considering my flip calendar still says March 15th, I'd better up my game and get running.

Here are the rules: 1. Link to the person who tagged you; 2. Share 7 things that people may not know about you; 3. Tag 7 people to share 7 things and link to them; 4. Let them know they have been tagged.

I love Rae Ann's idea of sharing the blog love and tagging 7 of my newest friends in the blogosphere that have left me comments, here they are:
2. Dawn at Rylee for Life
3. Janice at Can I Taste It Now?
4. Veronica of OF MICE AND raMEN
6. Kristen at La Dolce Vita
7.  Suzanne at Shabby Chicks

7 Things About Me

1.  When I go to the movies my popcorn has to have real butter and lots of salt--this horrifies most of my no butter no salt friends.

2.  My mini van is a mess.  I refer to it as a mobile unit.  We have snacks, extra sweaters, hairspray, brushes, tooth brushes, pencils, shoes, unmatched socks, loot bags--you name it, it's probably in my van.  It is famous at our school because of a poem performance we did on talent day called Stinky Van.  I am able to exist in chaos.  Maybe that's why I enjoyed teaching Middle Schoolers and Pre Schoolers in my BK (before kids) life?

3.  Oh, I write poetry.  Stinky Van is just one of the wordful marvels that I've created.  Talent day this year?  The Little Sister Blues, of course!  Not exactly odes to love or anything like that. Purely silly stuff.

4.  I grew up on a farm.  I had horses, but these were the kind of horses that you actually had to bale and stack hay to feed.  Horses are hard work.  I loved them, but have a hard time with my kids experiencing horses in the frou-frou-hand-you-the-reins-already-tacked-up-enjoy-your-ride-kind of way.

5.  I think I look scarier with make up than without it.

6.  I have a phobia of seafood.  I am not even going to attempt saying anything about that.

7.  Some folks won't play Scrabble with me any more...I play by the rules to a 'T' and I'm very adamant about enforcing said rules.  I am a serious player, but not a very good player. However, I'm not going to show you where you should go to get the most points if you are playing against me.  All is fair in love and Scrabble.  P.S. I know what you really mean when you call me the Scrabble Witch--you are really not fooling anyone.


The wonderful Rae Ann over at Critical Mass has surprised me with the Lemonade Award! There is so much to rave about Rae Ann, she has a terrific blog and will keep you in stitches with her humor.  Check her blog out!  

Now we are going to get down to business and make some lemonade...

The Rules:
1) Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post
2) Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude
3) Link to your nominees within your post
4) Let the nominees know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5) Share the love and link to the person from who you received your award

And the nominees for the Lemonade Award are:
1. Stacie from The Divine Miss Mommy
2. Kathy from Chatty Kathy the Yip Yap of a Thrifty Webster MOM
3. Tberri from The Four Scarbarys
4. Blue Violet from a nut in a nutshell
5. Betty from It's Me Betty
6. Harriet from Harriet
7. Staci from Playing House
8. Rachel from Life in Layout
9. Jennifer from It's A Beauty Filled Life
10. Becca from These Are The Days Of My Life

Thanks, Rae Ann, for thinking of me!  It's Monday, so I need to make some lemonade out of cleaning my house from the weekend fallout.  Here I go...wish me luck!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Frustration in 15 Easy Steps

#1  Agree to host the school's  Thank You Luncheon at your house.

#2  Decide, since all these people are coming to your house, you might as well replace that grungy, stained, extra gross carpet on the stairs that you've been talking about replacing for two years.  

#3  You ponder putting in hardwood on the stairs.  The rest of your house is all hardwood, why wouldn't you have hardwood on the stairs? 

#4  Your husband tells you that you are crazy.  He saw the stairs and they are made of plywood.  He tells you to get an estimate.

#5  Hardware on the stairs costs approx. $8,000.00.  The flooring man asks why you want to spend all that money?

#6  Husband spits out his coffee when he hears the estimate.

#7  You choose carpet and get a new estimate.

#8  Flooring Man #1 calls back when husband is working from home.  Husband scares that man away with hard core negotiating.

#9  Enter Floor Man #2.  Looks at the carpet you chose with Man #1 and  laughs. "Why would you want that on your stairs?  That will wear terribly."

#10  Choose new carpet get new estimate.

#11  Husband smiles because new estimate is $600.00 less than first estimate--and we even got a discount!

#12  3 days until the Luncheon.  Man arrives to install carpet.  Pulls it up...and BINGO, beautiful hardwood stairs.  Only the two bottom stairs are kaputt and need fixing.

#13  You make Installation Man wait one hour while you ponder how fast you can repair the steps and paint all of the trim in the stairway.

#14  Even though Flooring Man and Installation Man are willing to do whatever you want, you decide to go ahead with the carpeting (three days until the party, the cost of the hardwood refinish, on the hook for the carpet you bought, etc...).

#15  Bang your head on the wall as you watch carpet cover your coveted hardwood stairs for at least the next 5-8 years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Car Hop Moment

Those of you that know me, know that I was an A&W car hop for 13 years of my life.  Yes, I did hang trays with frosty, ice cold mugs of root beer on car windows.  No, I did not wear roller skates--I was born during a more litigious era.

Today I experienced a moment that I hadn't experienced for years...the grandma change purse moment.  Almost all little old ladies had snap shut coin purses and counted out their change to the exact penny. These were the same ladies that would ask for change for a quarter so that they could give me a nickel tip.

You learned to be friendly and patient over the years.  You could be in the busiest rush, and hustling your rear end off--then, there would be this peaceful moment as grandma dug in her purse.  I learned to take those moments where I found them.  I didn't tap impatiently or try to hurry these women along.  

Today in Costco, there was a sweet grandma in front of me in line.  Her granddaughter was with her, and we all waited for her to pay the cashier.  I thought the man behind me was going to have a cow.  The cashier looked sour and irritated.  

I hope we all take time to remember someday we might need some extra time.  Also, busy moms out there, take those moments when you can find them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

All the World's A Stage: Rockin' and Rollin' King Lear

John came home from middle school play try outs and didn't say much.  I didn't want to press the issue, in case he didn't get the part he wanted.  It wasn't until hours later, when we were driving in the car (a lot happens when we are driving in the car) that he let it slip that he had actually gotten the LEAD role.

When I first saw his script, I silently freaked out in my room.  King Lear in King Lear?  His highlighted version was almost completely covered in yellow on every page!  How in heaven's name was he ever going to remember all of those lines???

I bit my nails through late nights, as we ran the lines together.  I clenched my jaw through the rehearsals and dress rehearsals where almost none of the kids knew any of their lines.  I know that it's always a disaster and somehow comes together, but I hate to say I truly had my doubts.

True to form, our school's version of King Lear was fantastic.  We are blessed with a supremely talented drama teacher and talented kids.  John rocked his part, learned his lines, and made his family extremely proud.  

I don't know why I'm amazed--but kids are all pretty amazing from time to time, aren't they?   

Friday, March 13, 2009

Week of 'Down' Time

Due to the grace of our internet service, we had a whole week of wireless down time.  I didn't get to write, read my favorite blogs or even check and respond to my e-mail.  Consistently, I went to bed an hour earlier each night and I had a weird lull in my days.

I knew I was really addicted when I went to the coffee shop during my daughter's dance class and tried to get on line.  It turned out, that particular locale did not have wireless internet--drat!  I thought cafe and internet went together: internet cafe.

Now we've got one computer running, so I've got some catch up to play.  I am a bit thankful for all of that extra sleep, but I missed cyberspace just the same.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Front Porch (with a porch swing, please, if possible)

My friend was talking yesterday about her Barbie Dream House.  She lives in it right now.  I do not live in my Barbie Dream House.  I don't think I ever will.

For one, it really is not that important to me.  For two, I am happy to have a roofed area to call my own.  For three, what is there left to do if you can't have a little lust and envy?

In our 15 years of marriage, we have owned three homes.  Our first home was a 1970's bungalow. I hated the house.  George loved it.  I looked at the cul de sac and the big, mature, leafy trees and knew it would be a good home.  I caved, but mostly because I didn't care all that much.

Our second home was bought when George changed jobs and it required a move across the country.  The market was so hot, that any house for sale got multiple offers, complete with nasty bidding wars.  Houses sold in hours.  We hunted for weeks.  The price tags were hefty and the properties were a mere shadow of our Canadian home.  

The agent sent us an e-mail on Friday.  We looked at the pictures of the house and it looked pretty good. We bid $10,000 over the asking price and we were homeowners on Sunday.  House was bought sight unseen.  God bless the internet bubble.  Like I said, I am just not that picky of a person.

That house turned out to be just fine.  It was another good old California bungalow--but in California this time.  It was also very modern.  I am a country girl--I had no idea how to decorate such a fancy kind of place.  The layout was wonderful, but we quickly outgrew it.

Our last house is bigger, but it's the same 1970's Brady Bunch kind of place.  There is nothing fancy or imposing.  It is a friendly house where all the guests squeeze into our kitchen and don't move during parties.

Once again, my husband, who must have this thing for the 70's, loved the house at first sight.  I shook my head and said no.  Later, I woke up in the middle of the night and knew it was the place for us. We had been searching for a year, and I was too beaten down to search anymore.

I am still hopeful for a front porch and a porch swing.  That is my fondest desire.  A big, wrap around porch.  I see them, so I know that they exist.  There is even a house in town that makes me weak in the knees--it has a front porch so perfect and beautiful and awesome.

So,  essentially, this is an open letter to my husband.  Honey, if you really want to wow me.  If you really want to make my romantic heart pitter patter--don't buy me chocolates or champagne.  Just send me a picture of a front porch and tell me someday, just maybe, there's a chance we can stick my midwestern porch on the front of our Brady Bunch angular abode.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Are My Kids Learning At School?

My first grader, Birk, was in her booster.  I was driving the good old mini van and we were heading home from school
"Mommy, do you know about abortions?"

Whoosh, almost hit a tree.  I had to focus my eyes back on my little baby cupcake and try to figure out where all of this was coming from.

Luckily, Ruth piped in with just the right big sister question.  "Do you know what that means, Birk?"

I was holding my breath and trying not to take out any inanimate objects, or animate ones for that matter.

"It's when a mommy and daddy fight a lot and they don't want to live together anymore.  Then they get an abortion and they can marry someone else."

I finally found my voice again, "That's enough.  We will discuss this all later."  Luckily we were home and it was time to jump out of the car and have dinner.  Hope later is far off in my future.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A 7 Year Old's View of a Ground Delay

Birk drew this picture on the airplane during a 70 minute ground delay.  She patiently sat with her mommy and daddy, while the man in front of us was the perfect example of bad manners.

He complained endlessly, even when the flight attendants and the captain explained that we were grounded due to bad weather at our destination.   He insisted on a free bloody mary, even though the attendant explained that she could only serve water.  

This man rang the call button again and again asking about when we might take off and rang the call button again, ready to accept the offer of water.

The flight attendant cheerfully poured his water and the man yelled after her, as she continued down the aisle, that his water was not cold.  At that point it was clear that it was all that she could do just to smile and ignore him.  

It was all I could do not to stand up and ask him, "Why didn't your momma teach you better?"