Thursday, September 29, 2011

Someday I Will...

-Take a culinary tour of Italy (this is vastly different from EATING one at Olive Garden).

-Plant and nurture a beautiful Victorian garden (as opposed to planting and KILLING a beautiful Victorian garden).

-Learn how to make Rice Krispie treats that don’t taste like marshmallow-flavored hockey pucks.

-Scuba dive off the Great Barrier Reef.

-Own an authentic Epiphanie camera bag.

-Conquer my addictions to diet Pepsi and OPI.

-Write something else that gets published.

-Become fluent in Italian.

-Stop fighting and let my hair turn gray.

-Own a cottage on a beach or a cabin on a mountain lake.

-Treat my girlfriends to a week at a spa.

-Take my kids to New York City to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, visit Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial, take a carriage ride through Central Park, split a sundae at Serendipity and tour the Statue of Liberty.

Today I will...

-Attend an ASTRA meeting where I will help thirty teenagers plan a Halloween costume ball.

-Count yesterday's receipts at the store after which I will wash my hands, thoroughly (Money is dirty, y'all, hence the term filthy rich, I guess?).

-Pull the last of the beets from my garden.

- Cheer for the Man-Cub at an exhibition football game; hope he doesn't get knocked across the field (again).

-Cheer for The Teenager at a volleyball game; hope she manages a few kills and that her serves are as awesome as they were at her last game (nine in a row, cinching the set for her team).

-Make several dozen Gatorblox for The Teenager's PE class (yeah, still not quite sure how I got volunteered for that one).

-Vampire Diaries!!

-Watch Hugh pack for a weekend trip to Denver; help him find (insert item here).

-Tuck my children in for the night.

-Thank God for today and for the possibilities of Someday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Robert Frost Knew What He Was Talking About

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

This tree in my front yard is always the first tree to change into its' autumn finery; I don't know why. It is also the first to drop its' leaves and, it manages to do both these things within a couple of days so, blink and you can miss it. I'm glad I didn't miss it it this year.

Autumn is making itself known in other areas of the yard as well and, my garden is on its' last legs. Sunday evening, I roasted the last of the carrots and some beets and made Hugh a cucumber and dill salad with the last of the cucumbers. I still need to cut the heads off the sunflowers (cheesecloth turbans do keep the mice away; old-timer farmer folk know of what they speak) and I'll have beets and tomatoes for awhile yet but, otherwise, the garden is basically done.

This weekend, I'm hoping to hook up with Jana for a picnic in the mountains. We have both been hoping to get pictures of the kids in some of the locations that we used to take them when they were younger and we both especially like the fall colors so, fingers crossed for good weather and cooperative offspring (what are the odds?).

In the meantime, I'm going to take longer walks around the park, to fully enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of autumn  because, in no time, Old Man Winter will blanket the colors with a shroud of brilliant white and, I'll admit; I'm not quite ready for that.

Nothing gold can stay, indeed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Really Hope You Aren't on Dial-Up

The Man-Cub is officially a teenager, another Homecoming is finally over, and I kept my sanity through both events. Go me.

As I mentioned previously, the Man-Cub requested a simple sleepover with four of his buddies for his birthday celebration. Since all five boys are football fanatics, an evening at the Homecoming football game provided more than enough entertainment. Combine that with pizza, cupcakes and a late night of movies and games on the Wii and on the Cub's new iPod Touch and; the party was more than successful. Indeed, it was super-successful. Of course, we are talking about five thirteen-year-old boys here and, perpetual motion kept me from getting any decent pictures so, you'll just have to take my word for it.

I did manage to get pictures of the last of the Homecoming festivities, however and, you are about to be inundated. Consider yourselves warned.

So,Twin Day..

 Wow! You girls look...absolutely nothing alike.

...Blue and Gold Day and the entire Sophomore class getting into the spirit by decorating a float for the annual parade...

The theme for Homecoming was Stomp the Steers (we played the Longhorns in the football game) and the kids made a valiant effort to create a large football cleat out of half a barrel, some chicken wire, a package of napkins and some spray paint. The cleat was then poised over a large roping dummy generously provided by one of the local ranching families. The plan was great, in theory.

In practice? Yeah, not so much.

That's ok, the kids still had a great time and, since the fix is in (Junior class always wins for Best Float pretty much the way that the Sophomore/Senior Powderpuff team always wins the game: Righteous Cheating), and they didn't expect to win, anyway; they were free to enjoy the ride...

Isn't that your mom? With the camera?

God, yes. Just keep smiling and maybe she'll go away.

The week's theme was carried out nicely later in the evening, when our football team neatly disposed of the Longhorns and the kids had the next day to relax a bit before the big dance.

And, by relax, I mean; run around like crazy people, curling hair, painting nails, picking up boutonnieres and generally making their parents insane with the Homecoming Nerves. Or, maybe that was just at my house.

Gawd! Just take the picture, already!

Despite her nerves, The Teenager managed to get her date's boutonniere pinned on with a minimum of fuss (I'm lying).

Boutonniere pinning is hard, y'all.

Then, after the requisite three million photos...

... the two jetted off the porch and out of the driveway like they had just committed a crime. And I was barely even chasing them, I swear.

Don't lie, you were totally chasing us.

In my defense, I might be annoying her with the camera now but, someday she'll thank me for preserving these preshus High School memories. Someday.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to lie down. This has been a really taxing week for me; that camera isn't exactly light, you know.

Friday, September 23, 2011

There Are Two Teenagers in my Home

Someone help me.

All kidding aside, I am finding it really difficult to believe that I am now the parent of teenagers. I was perfectly content to be the mother of an infant and a toddler. A toddler and a pre-schooler. A pre-schooler and an elementary schooler. Two elementary schoolers. A pre-teen and a get the picture, but; two teenagers? Not quite sure I'm ready for that.

On the other hand, when those teenagers bring home midterm reports studded with A's and B's and liberally sprinkled with glowing comments from their teachers; it makes the pill a little easier to swallow.

Also, when your newly-teenaged son squeals like a two-year-old upon opening the new iPod that you bought for him, well; age becomes sort of relative.

Happy birthday, Cubby. Which reminds me; whatever will I call you, now? Have you outgrown Man-Cub?  are you now...Teen-Cub? Nah.

You'll always be my Man-Cub.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Things No One Tells You

From the moment the plus sign appears on a pee stick, people come out of the woodwork with stories about what to expect from parenting. They tell of sleepless nights, diaper blow-outs to rival the worst industrial accidents and colicky cry-fests that test even the most patient of parents. What they don't tell you is that you will often find yourself in the most ridiculous situations, all on behalf of your children.

Take, for instance, 7:00 this morning; when I found myself in the garden, hunting for five examples of insects for a science assignment that was due by noon. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find insects when you want to find them as opposed to, say, when you don't want to find them (in your salad, perhaps)? Factor in a nearly hysterical teenager (If I don't turn them in I will faiiillll! And I won't get to decorate the Homecoming float! Whaaa!!!) and a recent cold-snap that has seriously depleted the number of available specimens and you have a recipe for parental disaster, otherwise known as: The Mommy Meltdown.

And I hadn't even had my coffee yet.

Happily, I managed to keep my cool and, with the help of the Man-Cub, we found a grasshopper, a cricket, a (dead) wasp, and an ant. We thought we had a Praying Mantis but, unfortunately, it was missing its' head, and having a head was required for the assignment (Insects must have three body parts and six legs. Science 101). We hoped to find a butterfly or a moth but were out of luck so, The Teenager had to make do with four out of five of the assignment elements which is good enough for a B and; a B will entitle the child to push tissue paper into chicken wire float decorations quite nicely while, hopefully, impressing upon her the need to do homework assignments well before they are due. Not that she usually has a problem with that. I blame Homecoming which, by the way; today is Color Wars Day and The Teenager was rocking the hated pink quite well. Isn't she preshus? That totally makes up for all the ridiculousness (I'm lying).

You think I'm going to let a headless Praying Mantis jeopardize my status on the Honor Roll? Ridiculous! In fact, that's almost as ridiculous as seeing my mom crawling around in the garden in her bathrobe calling "Here grasshopper, grasshopper, grasshopper!" Almost.

So, yeah, the things we do for our kids. Parents-to-be? Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Dislocates an Elbow

The annual Homecoming Powderpuff Football game pitting the Senior/Sophomore team against the Junior/Freshman team took place under the lights of the High School football field this evening.

Despite getting a late start due to the misplacement of some vital equipment (flags and the football), it was a helluva game; with the Senior/Sophomore team taking an early lead, a lead they would retain until the game was abruptly ended by an injury to one of the players on the Junior/Freshman team. For the record, dislocated elbows are nasty to look at. I'm guessing one is no picnic to feel, either.

 Did you see that? That shit's gnarly!

Anyway, The Teenager and her team emerged victorious, the injury to their competitor is likely easily-treatable and a good time was had by all. Except for the girl who had her elbow dislocated, I mean, obviously.

No Powderpuff players were injured in the making of this pyramid

Monday, September 19, 2011

But I'm Already Home

It's Homecoming week here in Petticoat Junction, also known as Spirit! Week and you can bet The Teenager is raring to go. Today, she donned board shorts, a rash guard and a colorful lei in honor of Beach Day

She looked precious and was just so excited; her delight almost made it possible for me to forgive her when she asked if she could raid my closet for tomorrow's theme which is Fashion Disaster Day. Almost.

The rest of Spirit! Week will see the kids dressed as twins for Twin Day (duh) as well as in assigned colors for Color Wars Day. The Teenager's class drew the short stick and will be wearing pink again this year, which makes for two years in a row. The Teenager is now threatening a boycott of the color if the class draws it again next year and I have volunteered to purchase logo tees declaring Pink? WTH?! in the event that they manage to make a clean sweep of it by drawing the color again as Seniors, I mean, what are the odds (Ha! Jinx!) Finally, on Friday, the kids will outfit themselves in traditional blue and gold for the parade and spirit assembly prior to the football game.

Speaking of football, The Teenager will be playing in the Powderpuff game on Tuesday night despite the fact that she really, really doesn't want to have to actually  touch the ball,  just like last year.

I can't blame her, really, I mean, what if she takes a ball to the face and ends up bruised for the Homecoming dance? That would be terrible, especially since she has a date for the dance. You heard me. A date. Apparently, The Crush wasn't nearly as intimidated by Hugh as we had hoped and he has invited The Teenager to accompany him to the dance. The teenager is, as you might have guessed, thrilled. And, I got to order the first Homecoming boutonniere that I have ever ordered in my life, having given that chore honor to my own mother several decades ago.

Please do feel free to burst into a rousing rendition of The Circle of Life.

Speaking of which, in addition to all the Homecoming festivities, the Man-Cub is having a birthday this week (Thirteen. Kill me. Kill me, now). He's already requested a sleep-over with four or five of his friends and, I'm completely fine with that because three-out-of-the-five boys who will be in attendance have massive school-boy crushes on The Teenager and I'm fairly certain they will give The Crush a tougher time than either Hugh or I ever dreamed of and; I'm going to find that quite entertaining.

Homecoming is fun for everyone!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who Wears a Blue Suit and Flies Through the Air Like a Speeding Bullet?

My son, when hit by an outside tackle who outweighs him by about fifty pounds.

I'm not so much liking this football business.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Went to the Hellmouth for Eggs and Came Home With a Zombie

As one does.

Because, it's now the middle of September which naturally means that it's time to get ready for Halloween. At least, that is what it means to retailers and, I'm not complaining; I loves me some Halloween. Also, what red-blooded American family doesn't need an animatronic zombie for their front lawn? I mean, what would our other animatronic zombie do for company?

Yeah, Hugh wasn't exactly impressed with that argument, either but, then; I casually mentioned that the new zombie  pushes itself up while making the prerequisite zombie moaning noises whereas the other zombie merely turns his head from side to side while, um, also moaning. This obvious sign of zombie evolution convinced Hugh not to hold the purchase against me. Also, I'm pretty sure I saw him rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the holiday.

In fact, I'm positive and, you know, I did forget to pick up those eggs...hmm... I should totally send him to the Hellmouth where he, too, will catch the Halloween itch and rampant purchasing of zombies will commence. OMG!  We will have our own zombie hoard!

The neighbors will be so jealous.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking Porch Night on the Road

Quite some time ago, Hugh was the winning bidder on a wine tour excursion for up to twenty people. Now,  Hugh doesn't drink wine and would just as soon send his tongue through a paper shredder as board a bus with a group of wine enthusiasts but; he bid on that excursion with the intensity of a man fighting for tickets to the Super Bowl. The fact that he was at a table surrounded by slightly intoxicated women who very much are wine enthusiasts and who were cheering him on to victory with supportive comments such as; "Are you really going to let that eighty-year old woman defeat you?" and " Raise your paddle, man!" may have had a little something to do with his eventual victory but, the important thing is, he won and, because of the whole tongue through the paper shredder thing; I got to take the trip.

The tough part of planning a trip for up to twenty people is finding a time when the greatest number of people are available to attend which is why it took over a year to pull the thing together. It was worth it, though; I managed to pick a date that allowed for eleven friends to accompany me and, truly, twelve ended up being the perfect number of people for the excursion and, not just because I happen to have twelve cut-crystal glasses from which mimosas could be sipped prior to loading the party bus although, that was a happy coincidence.

Another happy coincidence was the discovery of two dozen chocolate-dipped strawberries on the bus since; two dozen divides equally among twelve people quite well (math! it was an educational trip!). We enjoyed those strawberries, along with a wheel of brie, crackers and other assorted cheeses once we arrived at the first stop on our tour of local wineries; Stone Cottage Cellars, named for the construction of the buildings, all of which used rocks culled from its' vineyard.

It was lovely. Also, quite educational as this was the winery at which we learned the chemical process wherein wine is made. It involves a lot of scientific terms and definitions and; it's a good thing it was the first stop of the day because, by the end of the tour, we weren't necessarily as capable of understanding chemical reactions involving lactic acid and carbon dioxide, you know, for some reason.

Following a tour of the vineyard and cellar, we were treated to our first tasting which was the beginning of the end of our sobriety. In a good way.

My favorite wine at this particular winery was a Chardonnay that smelled like buttah and tasted like heaven, seriously. I may or may not have purchased a bottle. Or twelve.

The second stop on our tour was a vineyard-slash-orchard with a produce stand thrown in for good measure.

In addition to wine, we purchased jams, jellies, gourmet honeys, BBQ sauces, marinades, chocolate wine sauces (that would be me), mustards and olive oils, all of which are produced right on the premises. We also had a chance to wander through the orchard and to pick our own peaches, several cases of which went home with us in the back of the party bus.

Then, we relaxed and visited for a bit by the river before settling in the shade for a picnic provided by the tour company.

Lunch was a delicious turkey wrap with gourmet pasta salad and brownies so chewy I thought I might die from the awesomness. In short, we were well fed before boarding the bus for the last winery on the tour.

At the last winery, which is also a distillery, we learned how gin and vodka are made and had a chance to sample both. And, of course, there was wine which explains why the only thing I remember about how gin is made is that the still was really, really pretty (copper! from Germany!).

The last stop on our tour was at a chocolate shop where we could watch confections being hand-dipped in chocolate while enjoying ice cream in old fashioned sugar cones that were also made in the shop. It was a great way to finish off the tour before we all returned to our normal lives which, for me, meant rushing to the High School for a volleyball game and, people; you have not lived until you've been dropped off at a High School volleyball game by a party bus. Also, volleyball is even more exciting while slightly buzzed on wine and chocolate. You heard it here, first.

To recap: wine is good, twelve is the perfect number for Girl's Day Out, and, my husband should get drunk and bid on fun stuff at charity events more often.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

10 years ago today, I was conducting my first Board meeting as the Executive Director of the Hooterville Tourism Bureau. I had been promoted from Assistant to the Director to Executive Director when the prior Director lost her shit and went crazy on the Board. It was not an ideal way to obtain a position and I don't recommend it but; there it was.

The job was slightly intimidating, the Board members even more so and, I was a bit nervous that morning.

The meeting started at 7:30, Mountain Time, 10:30, Eastern Standard Time and the attacks on the World Trade Center were well underway.

We didn't know that, of course; we were thirteen people in a small Board room, people with a genuine interest in the economic future of our small city. People oblivious, for the moment, of the changes that were about to take place in the airline industry, an industry vital to that economic future.

Shortly after 8:00, a secretary came into the room with coffee and scones; she delivered the first news of the attacks; a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

Someone, I thought, is going to get so sued.

I wish it had been that simple.

We finished our business that morning and the Board members departed. I joined several people in the adjoining office suite to watch as news of the Towers' collapse went round the world. We watched as The Pentagon burned and stared in gape-mouthed horror at a scorched Pennsylvania field and something became readily apparent; no one would be getting sued.

Instead, our world was about to change, irrevocably.

At home that day, I had a five-year-old and a two-year-old; children far too young to understand the importance of the events that were unfolding.

Today, I have a fifteen-year-old and a twelve-year-old, children who have grown up with the knowledge of the loss sustained in The Towers that day and, of the tragedy of lives cut short in the Pentagon and on that Pennsylvania field. They are completely unaware of what it is like to live in a world were every plane that passes overhead doesn't trigger an emotional response, where shoes have nothing to do with getting on an airplane or where news coverage of the war doesn't feature prominently on the television and on the Internet. The saddest part is; they didn't lose that innocence, they never got to have it; which is yet another blow delivered by the terrorists that September day.

But, the terrorists didn't win that day. Our country was not defeated. It was damaged, yes. Changes happened because of those events but, basic humanity overcame. People from totally different walks of life came together to pick up the pieces, to offer comfort to the families of the victims, to rebuild.

That day, we were strengthened. The steel of our nation was tempered in the flames of the terrorists' hatred and the nation came out stronger.

That strength is the legacy of 9/11, a beautiful autumn day during which the world was changed, forever.

And I was in a Board room with twelve strangers who, ten years later, I call friends.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?!

I am.

Well, I am as long as it involves these kids...

...and, yes, my son is the smallest kid in the group. He is not, however, the smallest kid on the team, in fact, he actually falls in the middle of the group as far as size goes; his closest friends just happen to be giants. And, in the case of two-out-of the-three of them, a full year older.

There's hope is what I'm saying. Also, puberty? You can have your way with my son any day now, as long as you gift him with some additional height and, please, fortheloveofgod, some bulk. Really, I'll deal with the facial hair and the stinky armpits if you will just please ignite in him a sudden craving for steak and potatoes. Or, protein shakes, whatever.

Anyhoodle, the boys played a good game despite losing 20-14 in the last 36 seconds. This brings their record to 1-1 with many, many games to come. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Unfortunately, of those games (that I'm obviously not counting); only three are home games. Three. I'm not sure what scheduling genius came up with that plan but my gasoline budget would like to kick him squarely in the groin.

On the other hand, if it weren't for traveling to yesterday's game, we would have missed the chance to see the school bus carrying our Middle School girls' volleyball team as it drove by on it's way to a game in a town just beyond the town in which we were playing. Had we missed that; we would have missed seeing the girls waving out of the windows, whistling at our boys and cheering them on to a touchdown and I would have hated to miss that because it was kind of awesome. Also, kudos to that bus driver for actually slowing down so the girls could see the touchdown.

I should mention that, on that bus was the girl on whom the Man-Cub has a wicked crush, so; he was especially happy to see it go by although; I can't imagine why....

...Oh, shit.

Puberty? I take back what I said; you cannot have your way with my son, after all.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I'm Not Running a Charity Kitchen for Rodents Here

Remember all those sunflowers that I didn't plant this year?

Yeah, those sunflowers.

Well, those sunflowers are now heavy with seeds, seeds that cause the sunflowers to hang their heads low and seeds that I fully intend to brine and roast for next year's baseball season because; I may not have planted them but I am not above enjoying the bounty of their crop.

Unfortunately, I am not the only creature interested in enjoying that bounty and, yesterday, I discovered irrefutable evidence of mice in the garden, specifically on the sunflowers.

That shit can't stand.

And, it was. Shit. Just to be clear.

So, I did the reasonable thing; I Googled "Mice on my sunflowers". The results were...not very helpful (Watch yourself, Google; I may have to quit you) so, I did the next reasonable thing and I started asking customers at the hardware store how to deal with the problem and, God bless those old farmers because they were a wealth of information and advice which is why my sunflowers are now sporting cheesecloth turbans over their heads.

Theoretically, the turbans will keep the mice from getting at the seeds before I harvest the heads, sometime within the next two weeks. I must admit, I'm not totally convinced; I've seen mice chew through Rubbermaid containers just to get at a Payday bar, I'm not sure a thin sheet of cotton fiber is going to deter them but; the old farmers were pretty certain so....we'll see.

On a completely different topic, The Teenager has her first weekday home volleyball game today which means that she was required to dress up for school (back when I was in school, we dressed up to travel for games; things have certainly changed. Also, where is my Metamucil because that sentence just made me sound about a million years old, damn) and she wore the cutest outfit, evah, see:

The Man-Cub has an "away" game, today. He wasn't required to wear a dress.

But I could have whipped him up a sweet little cheesecloth turban, had he wanted to wear one, which, for the record; he did not.

*Please ignore the random head poking up over the pumpkins on the right; it's actually part of a very cute statue that my in-laws bought for Hugh for Christmas one year and not some creepy kid from a Japanese horror film although, damn, that could totally be a creepy kid from a Japanese horror film.