Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beach babies

Well, we are back from our beach adventure and I think we have finally rinsed the last bit of sand off of our flip-flops.

I love this annual trip, which involves Grandpa and Grandma, aunts, uncles and lots and lots of cousins. And food. Really -- just piles of food.

My sister was a little frustrated because her recent Graduation Week mishap meant that she couldn't go into the water. On the up side, it also meant that she was excused from most chores that involved using both hands. She didn't milk this nearly as much as I would have.

The urchins were very excited when they were introduced to a board game that is all the rage at the cousins' house. Let me be very clear -- this game is a winner. When the forty-something uncles and aunts and the too-cool-for-school high school graduates and the teens and the 'tweens all l-o-v-e the same board game, something very special -- not to say freakish -- is going on.

This one loved the game so much that she woke me up at midnight to ask me if I would come join the game. Do you understand the significance of this, people? She woke me up at midnight.

tangent: Formerly referred to as "the oldest girl," this one has been declared "the one in charge." If you knew how organized, forward-thinking, and logical she is you would understand why my dad calls her "the girl with the clipboard." Apparently in the Army, if you come upon a scene and don't know exactly where you should report or what task you should be performing, you always check in with whoever has the clipboard -- because this is the person who will always know where you should go and what you should be doing. Well -- in our family, that's this girl. When (not if) she takes over the world, everything is going to be much better.

Check out the rogues' gallery of cousins:

My tall boy . . .

. . . my sister's tall boy . . .

. . . and a couple of boys who are not quite so tall yet.

Watch out for this one: he's tricky. (Quick! What movie is that from?!)

As the father of two daughters and no sons, my dad has always had a soft spot for girls. The only thing he loves as much as granddaughters is grandsons. Here he is with my sister's oldest girl.

The sunny girl was all about the boogie board . . .

. . . while the girl in charge and my youngest niece spent much of their beach time digging. Digging with no goal in mind -- just . . . digging. It's very zen, don't you think?

We were missing my sister's other tall boy, who spent the week at Boys' State. I am proud to report that he was elected Commonwealth Attorney; in other states he would be called a District Attorney, but whatever you call him his legal career looms brightly.

And Grandpa and his oldest grandchild talked Army stuff, since the grandson -- my sister's fabulous tall boy -- is soon to be a West Point cadet. Grandpa's not too proud.

Next up: Margaritaville medical practice. Sounds like a new series on the USA network, doesn't it?!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Camera shy -- or shy one camera?

OK, so here we are in lovely Nag's Head, North Carolina. And there have been so many wonderful aspects to our vacation: the family fellowship; the beautiful shoreline; the goofball capers of a collection of cousins -- and I captures all of it with my trusty glamour camera. But I left the crucial camera cable connector thingie at home . You know -- the one that allows me to magically share my pictures with you?

I'm a little frustrated.

So until I can share all the details with you, let me just report that a highlight of our adventure has been daily excursions to Sonic, for "two-for-one drinks Happy Hour." Small pleasures, people -- we don't have access to Sonic at home. And I do love a lemon-berry-lime slush!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Well, so the tall boy graduated from high school last weekend, and as you can imagine I'm very proud and a little freaked out. People, the space-time continuum is pissing me off, because this child was born about a week and a half ago. I just pulled into the driveway from dropping him off at pre-school, y'all.

But it seems I am a little mixed up about the calendar, because the entire month of June has been arranged to make sure that I practice my "so long, it's been good to know ya."

First, the tall boy was kissed good-bye by the entire varsity lacrosse team. The coach talked a lot of blah-blah-blah about the tall boy's dedication and hard work. He didn't mention the part about that lung collapsing over and over again . . . .

Then, at the orchestra concert he and his stand partner -- the only seniors in the ensemble -- were praised and glorified. Ask me to tell you some time the tragic story of the stolen viola. I mean really! -- who steals a viola?!

tangent: The stand partner -- who was in pretty much every class with the tall boy this year -- has been a great friend. When the tall boy was in the hospital, she gave him the sweetest gift: a cute plush version of his lungs, with the anatomically correct surgery performed using her own formidable surgical skills.

Somewhere along the way he attended a lovely Boy Scout function . . . .

. . . .oh! Did I mention to you that he's an Eagle Scout?!?

And then this weekend was the big event -- held at an indoor arena, praising Jesus -- because it was pretty stinking hot out side.

The tall boy examined his diploma pretty carefully -- it almost looked as if he wasn't sure it was a legitimate document. Does he know something about his grades that we don't know?!?

Afterward he was stopped by various females (love this one: funny, smart, beautiful) who were collecting digits.

Then he found his buddy, who was as happy to see the tall boy's Coke as he was to see the tall boy.

tangent: Check out the girl in the background, who was sobbing -- overcome by either the emotion of the moving Commencement exercises, or by the just tragically overwhelming heat. Hard to tell.

And then the parties commenced:

It's very hard not to adore this collection of ragamuffin tall boys.

And this one!

My godson -- he and the tall boy have been photographed together literally since the day my boy was born. And since that day one has been the tall boy and the other -- not so much. They've been friends forever, and everyone comments on their "Mutt and Jeff" appearance. And can I say that they are so gracious and loving, because neither one of them thinks it is particularly amusing, but they always smile and chuckle . . . .

Well, on graduation night, the godson said, "can you please make it look like the tall boy and I are not both mutant freaks?" (I'm paraphrasing.) This is the photograph that resulted.

And so is this one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stock tip: Buy Kleenex futures

So it's graduation week at high schools all over America, and the Kleenex boxes are flying off the shelves. Moms and Grandmas across this great nation are stocking up on the tissues -- stuffing them in their sleeves, tucking them in side pockets of purses, making sure they're available at that crucial moment. The savvy investor has already put in a "buy" order for Kimberly-Clark stock. I'm just saying.

My sister's tall boy graduated Wednesday night to cheers and applause -- and emotional tears from Grandma, Mom-mom, and my sister. I suspect that Grandpa weeped a little weep too -- although he will never admit it. My mom -- never much of a weeper -- is gleefully dancing the stroll in heaven.

tangent: So my sister, a fifth grade teacher, fell at school on Tuesday and badly broke her wrist (surgery yesterday morning). The beautiful thing about this is that she has been hopped up on Percocet since then -- and crying at the drop of a hat as her cherished first-born prepared to don his cap and gown. This is different from her non-stoned state in exactly no way.

The tall boy took his last final exam on Wednesday morning which turned out not to be a final exam so much as an audition for an improv troupe. The requirement was to appear for the two-hour final dressed as a major character from one of the novels studied during the year. For the duration of the period, each student had to stay "in character" and engage in philosophical discussions with other characters during round-table encounters staged by the teacher.

Can I tell you how much the tall boy loved this? He was Charles Ryder from Brideshead Revisited; the night before the exam he made his parents quiz him about issues that are raised in the novel: youth and experience; the importance of the Catholic conversion experience; various definitions of decadence and redemption and memory . . . . All things considered this was a fabulous final exam.

The tall boy's dear pal -- he of the Physics rocket obsession -- showed up for the final as Jay Gatsby. The two tall boys were pretty into the Jazz Age look if you ask me.

So -- now the only thing left is graduation tomorrow morning. The grandparents and cousins are ready; the cap and gown have been hanging in the laundry room since March.

And I have stocked up on the Kleenex.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Snapshot: Sunny girl

The sunny girl sang in the spring concert at the middle school and I loved every minute of it.

Her smile makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

brag, brag, Eagle Scout, brag, brag, brag

So as you might have surmised from the title of this post, the tall boy is now officially an Eagle Scout. His Eagle Court of Honor was this past weekend, and the puffed up chests and self-congratulatory pattings on the back have subsided to some extent -- if only because I sprained myself reaching around past my own shoulder blades.

It is true that I am just so proud of him that I could sing about it. It is also true that along the way it sometimes felt to me like I was Sisyphus -- pushing, pushing, pushing that rock up the hill.

I suspect that if we're talking Greek mythology, the tall boy would tell you that he felt like Prometheus - chained to a rock and doomed to have his entrails plucked at repeatedly by his mother vultures.

But now all is sunshine and bragging, and I will tell you that the tall boy really is all that and a slice of peach pie. So is his best pal, who joined Cub Scouts with him twelve years ago. They have been best of companions ever since, and and it was only right that the two of them celebrated the end of their journey together at a joint Eagle Court of Honor.

Can I just say that these two fabulous boys -- and their siblings -- are proof that we can rest easy: the world is going to be just fine.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Farmer's Market

It is so ironic that I have not posted in a while, because I sure to have a lot to say. But the busy-ness of this time of year always takes me by surprise, and I feel like I just fly from one event to the next. I am sure you are all as busy as I am, although I suspect you are more organized.

So next week I promise to catch up with you, and tell you all my news.

But as we head into the weekend I thought you might like to whet your appetite for summer by looking at the fabulous Manassas Farmers' Market offerings.

Have a great weekend!