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Wednesday, August 25, 2010


A few weeks ago my Dad backed into my car. He felt pretty horrible. It really wasn't that big of a deal. When I told the kids that night what happened, Cole immediately asked, "Is Grandpa okay?" Obviously, he didn't realize the mild severity of the "crash," and I was amused by Cole's sweet response. (So was Grandpa.)

Then another interesting event occurred. We ate supper at my parents the other night. We girls were chatting in the backyard. The boys were in the garage revving up motorcycles (I think).  Doug came back and motioned me to follow him. His stern look concerned me only slightly. Without saying a word, he led me to my car which now barely held a rear windshield with a bazillion tiny little cracks on the verge of shattering. And an 8-year old boy, standing by, ready to burst into tears.

A rock, no bigger than one-inch in circumference, was nonchalantly tossed in the air by our young son. And apparently it landed on the Achille's heel of the glass. To think that I've been worried about my kids puking in the car that was only purchased last May. Or even spilling something.

"God must not want me to have this car," said me, stupidly as I stared at the perforations, trying to fathom what happened.

But Dad reminded me God probably has a few other issues to deal with.  Then I noticed how my son really needed comfort with his twisted look of terror and regret. Poor kid. The only thing to do was to hug him.

For the past few days,  both incidents had me wondering if it was bad Karma or if the Universe was trying to send me a message. Then it came.

Yesterday Cole cuddled up to me on the couch. With his baby blues eyes he looked up at me and said, "You know the other day when I broke the windshield? That day Grandpa said to me, 'Now you know how bad I felt when I ran into your Mom's car.' But Mom? He couldn't have felt as bad as I did. I felt really, really bad."

I've been really concerned about Cole going down the wrong path. But you know what? There's no way that kid is turning to the Dark Side. There's way too much good in him. He's as good as....his sister.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Dark Side?

"If you don't be careful, your son is going to turn to the dark side..." was the foreboding of  my initial encounter with a psychic.  I thought she was mocking my family's infatuation with Star Wars...but as I giggled and she didn't, I realized she wasn't joking.

Last week a few of the girls and I decided to visit the winery across the street because Suzanna the psychic was doing readings for the bargain price of $5! Finally, a chance to hear if I was really going to get that big publishing deal or not...Low and behold, Suzanna felt it more compelling to warn me of things she sees coming in my son's future...and just in the nick of time.

"Does he have trouble finishing things?" she asks.

-I nod. Actually, I think he has a little trouble starting things. But I don't tell her this.

"You don't have a computer or video games in his room, do you?"

-"No." But they are in the room he's planning on moving into soon. Yikes. Bad idea? 

"Tell his father that he needs to spend much more time with him. And don't let him spend so much time by himself on the computer and on video games. The problem is that your son is too damn cute and no one thinks he is capable of doing anything wrong."

Just look at this face...
Okay. I'm totally with her on this.  The innocent little face speaketh too much about the day that he will drinketh. He's way too obsessed with bands like KISS and Guns N Roses. And, of course, I need to shut off the damn computer, IPOD Touch, DS and WII. Anyone know of super-encrypted locks that no nine-year old could hack? Oh wait, Cole installed his own lock on his IPOD Touch...even he couldn't get into until we called Apple... Anyway, who was the idiot who bought those gadgets for him anyway? Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy. But back to my story.

So, even though my dearest Doug thought I was crazy, as usual, and only looking for an excuse to visit a winery, even HE tuned in to Suzanna's advice.  (I think we both are on to Cole and his cute facade.) He got right on the stick and took him out for target practice that very night.

Well, maybe he'll still go to the Dark Side. But at least he'll be there with his Dad. But somehow I don't think so. Cole is very emphatic about only shooting inanimate objects like cranberry jugs...which makes his mother's animal-loving heart very proud. I might not be a psychic, but my intuition tells me that he's meant to be a Jedi.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is it really over?

What we did NOT do this summer:

  1. Play outside near enough...remember that bullsnake on the driveway early on?
  2. Paint walls orange.
  3. Visit enough museums. (This point is arguable in my tribe.)
  4. Get a new dog.

What we DID do this summer: Patronized zoo (only once, boo!), sweated buckets at ballparks, mowed every other day (only Doug did that), grew monstrous flowers (yes, that was me - and maybe God), played with a self-absorbed cat while grieving over dead dog, walked and walked through mutant butterfly gardens, witnessed kids create paintings sure to be worth millions someday, messed up house fiercely, vacationed with best friends (nice to meet up with them in KC because it's hard to catch them at home a mile away), motorcycled on windiest of days because Doug and I are happy doing anything together, shared memories with relatives as we cried over Grandma Shirley and remembered how much I missed my relatives, read more books than I care to admit (see messy house comment), planned five new family vacations because I'm a big, fat dreamer (not sure how will afford but will figure out, I promise, Doug) and noticed that Alex and Cole are growing up at Mach Speed...almost as fast as the summers always go.

Now, off to bed. School tomorrow.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday the 13th

On Friday, my husband turned twice the legal drinking age (as he informed his drinking buddies while imbibing his way twice past the legal alcohol limit).  And with the exception of not being with our kids, the night couldn't have been more definitive Doug. So, if you're wondering how to throw a party for my husband, here are the key elements:

  • Beer
  • Baseball
  • Friends that like baseball
  • More beer
  • Oh - and if you can manage a Yankee loss (especially a loss  to the KC Royals) that would be especially nice
We trekked to Kansas City with friends Pat and Amy to catch the KC/NYC MLB game on Friday night. Despite the two hour rain delay (which caused sort of a hometown reunion of sorts around the concession/beer stand area) it was great fun. And something AMAZING happened!

Pat caught a FOUL ball! 

Then he lost it. After demonstrating how he gracefully caught the ball between his knees, it slipped from his hands, only to drop and roll in front of the seats in front of us. A girl swiftly picked it up. I'm positive she was about to give it back, but my husband didn't think so. Doug quickly felt compelled to explain how Pat's FIVE children would be heartbroken without that foul ball. She handed it back without blinking an eye. (I really think she was handing it back anyway, but the men disagree.) So, you see, the story has a happy ending - Pat got the ball back. And he gave the girl $20 worth of guilt money.

The entire event was an interesting study in guy behavior. You see, what also happened, as Pat secured the foul ball with his knees, was my husband tried to aggressively shove Pat out of the way to get the foul ball himself, obviously to no avail. We didn't happen to see this highlight on ESPN this morning and Pat doesn't seem to be harboring any ill-will. So unless Pat shows up on the Today show next week, I think their friendship will be saved. (Guys just happen to be pretty cool about this kind of stuff.) Maybe it was Doug's role in getting the ball back from the little girl. Who knows? But the important thing is this: the seams on MLB baseballs are certainly different than regular baseballs.

Not much more happened after that...except more beer drinking and a lot more baseball talk. (Amy guarded the foul ball.) Finally, around 11:30, we decided to call it a night. The Royals were still ahead and even though it was pouring buckets, we decided to walk back to the hotel. Since rain was beating down, Pat splurged on four garbage bags. By the time we assembled the plastic wraps, it was merely sprinkling. Truly we looked ridiculously stylish and I found it almost hilarious, but the birthday boy was almost downright embarrassed. So, he turned his into a cape.  So much more demure. My super-hero.

By then it was almost midnight and the magical day was about to end which was a good thing. Because hangovers at the Plaza would be like maneuvering a land mine...and we didn't want to ruin the perfect weekend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Use Your Brain

A few of my peers were giving me a bit of grief about my last blog. Not so much on content, but on word choice, i.e., vocabulary. "I don't EVER hear you use those words." No, not out loud and certainly not all the time.  What they don't realize? Perhaps my lexicon is grandiose and slightly poetic!  (Usually after reading some particular piece of classical literature.)  And last weekend, despite being in the middle of a Dave Barry read and watching Animal House at the same time, my brain was pouring out with either sublime or pertinent words without a single glance at a thesaurus. Go figure.

At other times though, my brain utterly fails me.  I can't think of the name of the most simplest of objects, like that thing that holds water. You know? That you drink out of? When you're thirsty? Do you know yet? That thingy? That I'm pointing at right now? Yes, that's it! A cup.

I do the same exact thing with numbers. Despite what my husband may tell you, I pretty good at solving math problems - especially those that are algebraic in nature. But I'd be lying if I told you that I have never misplaced a decimal in my head a few times and completely miscalculated my savings in store, wanting to argue with the clerk at the checkout, but having enough experience to know that her cash register is probably smarter than my brain and not wanting to embarrass my daughter anymore than I already have by saying something that I no idea could be embarrassing...but I digress.

My point: Whether it's math, reading or using a dusty old vocabulary stored deep within some hemisphere of our cerbrum, shouldn't we engage our brain as much as possible? My favorite method: scribbling a few witticisms in attempt to hone my wordsmith skills. But I'm guessing Alex likes the math exercises for one reason only=>


Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Climb

The other day we (meaning the Bank) needed to replace a communication radio on a tower. (Dang lightning storms.) As I watched a contractor gingerly climb a momentous pillar, it occurred to me that my son could perhaps put his wall and tree-climbing skills to use for this lucrative career in tower scaling. Then I slapped my forehead. How could his own mother suggest such a career? A career that could cause him to fall and suffer horrific injuries? Or worse??

No one tells you about the perpetual vortex of angst that motherhood reels you into. Perhaps my worries are irrational, but it simply can't be helped. It's innate. Or so I explain to my hubby when he's rolling his eyes and allaying a fear if a child hasn't made it home timely from some fracas, such as a birthday party.

Anyway, I had sort of a breakthrough in Kansas City at Worlds of Fun. First let me explain that Doug has brainwashed our kids into believing that they have a penchant for roller coasters. (For the longest time, they were on my side  of the fence.) Ugh.  So, after surviving "The Prowler," (which is merely fast) the Kramer's (sans Mom) insisted on riding THE MAMBA - doesn't this look ridiculous?

Well, how could I sit and watch, helplessly, while my husband and two children plunged to their death? I'd have to join them. We'd all die together.

As we inched up the rails, I asked myself, "what kind of parents are we?" And as we whirled down the incline (with head in hands and eyes closed), and kids screaming with joy, I had to admit, it was kind of fun. My hurl reflex was well within check. And it seemed within sixty seconds, we were safely on the ground, laughing. Nervously, albeit, and perhaps with a bit of relief, but laughing.

Anyway, the morale of the story is...I'm not really sure. I still worry about my kids. A lot. But perhaps I'll just try to ride the roller coasters with them when I sense a great amount of danger ahead. They'll love that.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When I Grow Up

Doug and I often ask the kids what they want to be when they grow up. "Artist" and "rockstar" have been the predominant responses the last few go-rounds. I guess we might as well toss doctor or lawyer out the door. And apparently they're not enamored by ma and pa's positions - neither banker nor farmer have gotten any nibbles. Go figure.

We're always encouraging Al and Cole to pursue whatever interests them. "Follow your passion." Thus, music and drawing emerge as career choices. Logical. The hole in this theory, we fear, is the simple economics of making a living. Our kids have no idea what it means to struggle, i.e. to be broke. Not that I would mind if they occupied our basement forever, but somehow me thinks they should experience something beyond my awesome tator tot casserole.

The good news is that they're still young. No need to panic yet, right? I've been brainstorming a few tactics to better prepare the kids for the real world:

1-Practice frugality. Just say no to unnecessary items. Think plain vanilla. (Do you need a kitty playing a guitar on your school notebook for $3.67? Can't we just get the plain yellow one for 49 cents?) This will really teach them some lessons in hardship now, won't it?
2-And let's explore new, specialized skills that could end up paying big bucks. Such as:

Butterfly Whisperer
Monkey Imitator

Any other ideas? I know there are a few other clever parents out there...