Friday, April 30, 2010

Snapshot: Prom night preparations

On this end, the prep work was relatively easy: buy the tickets, get a dinner reservation. Tonight's the Big Night, but for the tall boy, a shower, a tux and a corsage for the Lovely One are the extent of the glamour.

But stayed tuned . . . .!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So I wanted to thank all of you who have offered up your prayers and good wishes and love for Coleen and Nano. Today Nano's ship sailed from this earthly shore, and all of us who stand here waving good-bye are a little sad, of course -- because we are only human, and we will miss her. But we are so happy that her ship will soon come into a safe harbor, and that so many saints and loved ones are on the far shore looking forward to welcoming her home.

Sadie Forsythe
"Do what you can, and don't worry about the rest."

Monday, April 26, 2010

The absolutely true story . . . .

. . . . of my love/hate relationship with
Bill Nye the Science Guy.

I know, I know -- you're thinking, "what's not to love about Bill Nye the Science Guy?" And I absolutely agree with you. He's smart, he's funny, he has a theme song with his name in it -- the man is dreamy, I admit it.

But even though I love him, I also shudder just a little bit when I hear the sweet strains of "B-B-B-Bill! Bill!"

To understand why, you also have to understand that although the urchins are, of course, fabulosity incarnate, there may have been times when they have perhaps tried my patience, where "tried my patience" equals "made my eyeballs explode out of my head." This sweet, sweet picture is in many ways so misleading as to be a total lie. You see three loving urchins, snuggled together cozily on Mommy's bed reading books, while I see a slap fight on the horizon. Also, the dog? Farting; believe it.

But the thing about the television back then was that we didn't watch much of it. After the tall boy (not quite so tall at two-and-a-half) shared his predictions with me about the O.J. Simpson case, Mommy decided she was watching too much television (loved that "Mad About You," didn't you?) and we got rid of our cable box. So whatever we could get over the air was the extent of our television exposure.

We did pick up a PBS station, however -- on the top floor of the house -- and I was not above a little "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" and "Bill Nye the Science Guy" on those days when making our own play-doh and going on picnics in the park got a little stale. Raise your hand if you really believe that I have ever in my life made my own play-doh.

The problem with parking my kids on my bed to watch a little TV while I got something done (and you know that means "read a book") was that my bedroom tended to be a little, shall we say, disheveled. And with a little work it was possible that each of the urchins could find and succumb to his or her own personal temptation.

The oldest girl, like her father, has always had a sweet tooth, and candy of any sort is irresistible. On the "Bill Nye Day of Doom," Daddy had a bag of candy on his bedside table, because that's how we roll. It didn't take long for the oldest girl to start jonesing for that candy, and then she couldn't resist. She dove right in, and starting eating that candy just as fast as she could get it in her mouth.

The sunny girl was just a toddler, so the problem was that she toddled constantly. The child never stopped moving, never stopped picking up "pretties" to look at them, and never looked where she was going. She was two, so it was sort of her job. But again with the slovenly housekeeping, because the "pretty" that she found was an empty wine glass and she picked it up to carry around with her as she cruised my bedroom. She just didn't notice that in picking it up she also clunked it against the table and broke it. Shards of glass beneath her feet didn't impinge on her consciousness at all. And she didn't realize it, but in her hand she carried, like a blankie, a stabbing wine glass of death.

So where was the tall boy? He was right there with his sisters. I brag to you all that he was a very mature seven-year-old (tall for his age, it might surprise you to know), but the sad truth about the tall boy is that his personal demon has always been The Screen. It doesn't matter if it is a TV screen, a computer screen, a movie screen -- his eyes spin in circles and he is sucked away from this mundane world.

And what were they watching that day? You guessed it -- "Bill Nye the Science Guy." But watching is completely the wrong verb to use. I put down my book stopped working on an important task to investigate when the sound level coming from my bedroom rose to the point that even I noticed it. It wasn't squabbling or tussling -- it was just the volume on the television -- turned up as high as it could go. "B-B-B-Bill! Bill!" "BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY!" "Science rules!" And it was so loud the urchins couldn't hear me scream when I got to the door of my bedroom.

Here's what I saw: The oldest girl was sitting on my pillow at the top of the bed, popping candy in to her mouth one piece at a time, as fast as her hand could move. She was chewing very fast, like a rabbit, and her eyes were glued to the TV screen. The tall boy was sitting at the foot of the bed so he could be near his beloved, and he was singing along to the Bill Nye theme song at the top of his voice. His eyes, as usual when he watched television, were spinning.

And the sunny girl was cheerily toddling all around the room, with a broken wine glass in one hand and a piece of candy in the other. She had shards of glass stuck to the bottom of her feet, and not a single cut on her. A miracle, no shit.

So the upshot of all this was that the television noose tightened even more for the tall boy, and the oldest girl was banned from "all candy or candy-like treats" until she turns 35. The court of appeals eventually showed a little mercy on the candy front, but the television stayed off for years.

And I cleaned my bedroom, but not to excess.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Here's what I love:

. . . . Nano.

UPDATE: Coleen's Nano is indeed the peanut brittle Nano, as my Colassard commenting friend has noted. She makes the best peanut brittle this side of heaven. I'm just saying. Some of you may remember that Coleen's grandmother turned 101 last September; as she has all of her adult life, she spent the entire fall making peanut brittle which she sold at craft fairs and bazaars. By "she sold" I mean, of course, that Coleen sold it for her. But make no mistake -- the brittle was all made by Nano; the recipe is top-secret. The money's all hers, too.

I will ask you all to lift up both Nano and Coleen for the next few days. Nano has entered the period of her life's final transition; I hope you will pray with me that it will be serene and peace-filled for her -- and for Coleen.

Thank you all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shoot me now.

So the tall boy is all about the fabulous Bulldawgs varsity lacrosse team -- he's a defenseman, which means he plays "long stick." Since the tall boy is, as you will have surmised, tall, this is not a problem for him. Playing defenseman this year has also meant that the tall boy tends to play the entire game; not that many guys play long stick.

The tall boy loves everything about lacrosse: the thrill of streaking down the field; the teamwork and strategy; and frankly, the violence of the game -- all of these make him happy. As you may remember I was a little skittish about him playing this season. People! Doctors removed part of the child's lung six months ago! But the tall boy was absolutely adamant that he would play during his senior year, and he convinced his doctors to work with him. They all ganged up on me and told me I was being one of those annoying, crazy worry-moms. Crazy worry-moms are the worst. My only defense is to remind everyone -- they hit each other in the chest with sticks. Hard.

tangent: When the tall boy was starting out in the sport, his first coach tried really hard to break these (young) boys of their "Stop the game because I got an owie" fearfulness. He gave out coveted red stickers for the boys to wear proudly on their helmets any time they bled.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the husband called on the way home from the game the other night.

"How was the game?" I asked him.

"It was a great game! A little frustrating for the tall boy because they lost, but we had a great time."

"Fabulous! Are you guys hungry?" The tall boy is always hungry so this was totally a ridiculous question.

"Well . . . . "

When the husband starts a sentence this way, what comes next is never happy-making.

Half an hour later, the tall boy and I had taken our usual seats in the waiting room at the hospital E.R. A lacrosse stick blow to the wrist, followed shortly by a fall on the same wrist, were enough to make the team trainer frown, and send us for x-rays.

tangent: Can I just say that the tall boy has received enough radiation -- through x-rays and CAT scans -- in the past two years that if he is able to parent father a child with fewer than two heads, I will sing my praise to the Lord.

Tall boy aficionados know to keep their eyes peeled for those texting fingers . . . .

. . . and my geeky athlete will always be able to produce a book. This one looks so light and fun -- a perfect beach read!

When it was all over, we came home with a wrist brace and a referral to the quasi-sexy orthopedic doctor. The tall boy is completely cranky because a) this hospital adventure has gotten him out of absolutely no academic commitments, and b) he has been benched until the sexy doctor gives the all-clear.

Poor tall boy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poetry Slam

Jenn's haiku challenge theme this week is


In high school he was
just a flame -- but he's the one
I'll love forever.

My temper flames up.
I can't express how I wish
I could let it go!

A flame sucks me in.
Hypnotized, I gaze through
to a secret place.

Image credit:
"No. 18" /Jackson Pollock , 1950

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Snapshot: My heart can't take it.

Aaagh! The oldest girl is driving! Legally! People -- this traumatizes me, but not for the reason you think. The child really is an excellent driver, although she would not appreciate the "Rainman" reference.

tangent: Do you watch "Bones?" My family loves it, including the oldest girl -- who turns out to be somewhat Bones-like herself, in that she is brilliant and very, very literal. We had to spend quite some time explaining to her why it is funny when Bones informs Booth that she is "an excellent driver" and he responds, "back off, Rainman."

But she loves to drive, and now that she has a learner's permit she pesters us constantly to let her drive -- to church, to dance class, to softball practice, to the grocery store. There was never a girl more anxious to get her license and stop feeling like she is at the mercy of a family of people who view a start time more as a suggestion than a requirement. We do drive her crazy.

This is in complete contrast to the tall boy, whose philosophy about driving seems to be summed up this way: "I have a ride." He really does not appear to want his license at all, especially now that college looms ever closer; he knows that beginning in August he will live on a campus where first year students are not allowed to have a car -- and where the subway will take him wherever he wants to go. Whatever -- I mentally thank him every time I pay my car insurance bill.

But the driving girl is testing her wings, and yearns for independence -- which will be one step closer with that driver's license. She's thrilled to be growing up. And that's what traumatizes me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I dare you not to smile!

OK, so I admit that I was one of those girls who had every word of "The Sound of Music" memorized. Notice that I did not say "every song." Nope -- I can recite pretty much all of the dialogue too. It makes me either very lame or too awesome for words that I can do this for many, many musicals: "Oklahoma!" (obviously), "White Christmas," "High Society," "A Chorus Line," "My Fair Lady," "Camelot!," "Gigi," "Easter Parade," "Damned Yankees," "Guys and Dolls," "Fiddler on the Roof" . . . . My list could continue, but you get the picture.

tangent: As some of you may remember, my mother's people live in Oklahoma; I knew the words to that song before I knew "The Star-Spangled Banner." I'm not kidding.

My love for "The Sound of Music," though, is a love that I bet I share with most of you. I grew up watching it on television once a year as a "special event." Later, it was one of the first videos I owned ( along with "Mary Poppins" -- hands down the best movie ever made. I mean, what's not to love about a film that contains the words, "Close your mouth, Michael. We are not a codfish." ??).

That's why this YouTube video makes me so happy. How can you not smile and sing along?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gettin' it done

So I went to the oldest girl's softball game last night; it's always fabulous to see the Bulldawgs take another team down.

A thing that makes me particularly happy is that the guys from the baseball team regularly show up to root for the girls. A lot of times baseball dudes are dismissive of fast pitch softball -- because "hey, it's fine and all, but it's not baseball." I need to say I have never seen these guys express that disdainful attitude. When our pitcher smokes one across the plate, they hoot with glee -- and are glad they don't have to hit against her. And when when a fielder makes a a sweet play, they shout with pride. These baseball players make great cheerleaders!

Here's my girl in action at the plate, looking pretty confident as she waits for the pitch --

-- and takes her stance.

Her hit gets her safely to first . . .

. . . where she always does a little jig on the safety base. She says it feels like she's playing hopscotch.

The opposing pitcher always has to worry if her runners will try to steal --

-- and when my oldest girl is running, the pitcher is right to worry!

Safe at second base, Number 11 cheers on her teammate at bat. She rocks the bright red batting gloves, doesn't she?

There she goes again -- headed for third!

tangent: I am a little phobic about third base, because a couple of years ago my girl slid into the base, which for safety reasons is supposed to "break away" when a runner slides into it with force. Well, let's just say that the base did not break away, so my oldest girl's ankle broke instead. Ask her about it and I guarantee you that as she tells the story she will make sure you know that she was safe.

So I didn't get a picture of her scoring this particular run, because I was cheering and talking on the phone at the same time, as well as eating a hot dog, and I can only do so much, so don't pressure me.

At the inning change, the oldest girl took her position in the outfield, where she never misses a pop fly, and is the go-to girl for double plays. Not that I'm bragging.

But I have known her for a long time, and when she gets this look on her face, the job will get done. I'm just saying.

After the game the girls get the privilege of grooming the field. Ain't that a kick in the pants? It really does prove that an athlete's work is never done -- and the oldest girl would give that a big "AMEN," because she still had chemistry, Spanish and history homework waiting for her.

Final score: US 16 v. THEM 0
Go, Bulldawgs!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What was I saying?

Can you find the gift left by the Easter Bunny?

So I know it has been a while since I filled you in on the goings on and what-not -- and I have no excuse, so whatever. Moving on.

How've you been? Here, things are great! Spring is busting out all over the place -- with daffodils and tulips and forsythia and azaleas.

Our memories are short -- I guess that's just human nature; and as recently as a month ago we wondered if we would ever get out from under the Blizzards of 2010.

So now, I do break into a grin when I see my front yard just completely rampant with crazy color.

I decided that our Easter would bust out with crazy color, too. Dig my fabulous new tablecloth! Here's the thing about this table: it was the first piece of furniture my parents bought when they got married; when I got married, they gave it to me. My mom always insisted on keeping protective pads and a tablecloth on it, and I do the same thing. So now every time I unfurl a pretty tablecloth it evokes a wonderful memory of my mother. The basket on the left was the basket she filled for me every spring until I was 33 years old; now I fill it for the tall boy.

Easter at our house is really framed around the three days of the Triduum; in the Catholic Church these are the three most holy days of the year. Can I just say we spent a lot of time at church?!

On Holy Thursday, the tall boy (along with eleven other young men) represented our parish community as he had his feet washed by our priest. This is often experienced as a humbling and moving gesture, but truthfully, the tall boy was more concerned with not looking like a dork as he walked up to the altar with "one shoe off and one shoe on" like the nursery rhyme.

Meanwhile the sunny girl, plagued by hay fever, was attacked by the lilies and hyacinths.

On Good Friday, we venerated the Cross in a tradition that reminds us of the suffering of Jesus which was necessary for our redemption.

And the sunny girl, stalked by the tulips and azaleas, sought Kleenex in the sacristy.

On Saturday night, at the Easter Vigil, we began the ancient liturgy in darkness, lit only by the Easter candle. The Old Testament readings evoked the covenant that God made with the Jews -- His chosen people. As we sang "Glory to God in the highest," bells rang out and the sanctuary filled with light, introducing the readings of the New Testament -- and reminding us that Jesus is the true light of the world.

The two tall boys (mine and Coleen's) served as torch bearers during this liturgy, carrying these cool swinging torches. Latin purists would call them "lucifers" instead of torchbearers. I'm not sure how I feel about that!

The oldest girl served as an usher; look how pretty she is, even from the back!

And the sunny girl carried a full box of tissues with her, knowing that between the flowers and the candles and the incense, she was in for a long night.

I do hope that you and those you love had a beautiful Easter, filled with jelly beans and deviled eggs and your favorite kind of chocolate. And I hope that you were able to experience the joy of re-birth, renewal, Resurrection, and rejoicing.

And then more jelly beans.