Thursday, August 27, 2009

And that's how my 5-iron ended up in the lake


Head down, he flexed his fingers around the handle of the club in nervous anticipation. He shifted his feet then straightened his arms and lowered the club until it barely scraped the short blades of the bright green grass.

He slowly drew back the head of the club until it stopped to hover inches behind the ball. Biting his lip in concentration, he gently moved the club forward and bumped the ball with the lightest of taps.

It slowly rolled three looooong inches until catching the edge of the cup and tipping in with a plunk.

The crowd of one cheered as if he’d just won the U.S. Open.

“Way to go, Tiger Woods!” I hollered across the green to my four-year-old son.
He turned with a frown and answered in a voice dripping with preschooler scorn, “My nickname is NOT Tiger, Mom.”

He stood up tall and announced, “Just call me...,” he paused for dramatic effect, “the Crocodile.”

Um…OK.

He bent down to retrieve his golf ball from the cup and walked off the green to his waiting bag of clubs. He stowed the putter and drew out his 9-iron.

“OK, Mommy, let’s do this again,” he ordered and walked about 10 yards out, dropped his ball and prepared to chip back onto the green for the 87th time that afternoon.

At least I couldn’t fault his work ethic. It’ll come in handy when he gets older and realizes golf is a game that will suck the life out of you, leaving you to search the rough for lost balls and wondering why the hell you didn’t take up lawn darts instead.

***

“Let’s go play some long golf,” our son suggested to my husband the next afternoon.

“‘Long golf’?” my husband repeated and looked at me. “What exactly is ‘long golf’?”

I shrugged my shoulders and answered, “To me, that’s playing about 12 holes too many.” Because after hole #6 I’m already tired, mad, used all the swear words in my vocabulary and launched my 5-iron into the lake.

Man, golf is so much fun!

“You know, long golf,” my son insisted, holding his hands far apart. My husband and I looked at him like he was one of Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees using sign language to communicate with us.

And we still didn’t get it.

“Not sure what you’re talking about, kiddo,” I answered. He sighed at my stupidity and continued, “LONG GOLF!” As if yelling it like a drill sergeant meant we’d understand better. He stomped in frustration and hollered, “Not mini-golf but LONG golf!”

And that’s when the light bulb clicked in our heads. He wanted to play a real game of golf, not the carnival-style mini-golf with windmills and dancing fairies.
“You want to play golf?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes and threw up his hands. “That’s what I’ve been telling you, Mom.” Then added under his breath, “Don’t you understand English?”

“That depends,” I snapped back. “Do you understand what go to your room and kiss your rear goodbye means?”

***

“How did it go?” I asked the conquering warriors as they returned to the house later that day. In my surprise, they’d been gone a while.

Much longer than the 10 minutes I estimated it would take to play one hole of “long golf” before our son – barely old enough to hold his own clubs – would last before getting bored and whining to go home.

My husband chuckled and said, “He’s a trooper. He played seven holes.”

Wow, consider me impressed. “You played seven holes?” I asked our son. He nodded then teared up a bit and said, “But I lost a ball, Mommy. I hit it in the water and Daddy said I couldn’t go get it.”

I shook my head in understanding, “Been there, done that, my friend.”

Putting down the clubs, my husband said, “He would have played all nine but after he launched one into the water, he refused to play any more holes that had water on them.”

Our son nodded with new-found wisdom and said, “I didn’t want to lose any more balls.”

I looked at my husband and said, “You should have let him look for his ball. You could have fished out my 5-iron while you were there.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who's got worms?

“Can I go skydiving?”

Whoa. That was a question I expected to hear when my son turned 18. Not 4.

“Skydiving?” I asked to confirm his earlier query regarding jumping from a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet and falling 120 mph to the earth to land in what would surely be the manner of a squashed bug on the windshield of life.

I don’t think so.

“Yes! I wanna go skydiving,” he answered. “And I wanna blue parachute!”
While I was curious to know where he got this lunatic idea from (thank you very much, Scooby Doo) at least I was comforted by the fact he was wise enough to know he would need a parachute.

It is, after all, what saved Shaggy on several occasions.

And since he had apparently spent some time thinking about his plan, I didn’t have the heart to shoot it down with the heat-seeking missile of my negativity. So I said what any self-respecting mom would say.

“Ask your father.”

***

Children should have hobbies. But I doubt even Britney Spears would approve of skydiving as an appropriate activity for a preschooler.

So it was off to the pond to teach our son the finer points of fishing. But we’re not stupid. We invited along an expert - Grandpa. And Grandma came along carrying lunch. How smart are we?

But then we also brought along two dogs.

OK. So we’re a little stupid.

For the next hour, it was a game of Grab the Collar as each dog wiggled loose to jump muzzle first in the cool, clear water. Splashing and flailing, rolling in muck and scattering fish in every direction. It was like watching the Swedish Bikini Team wrestle in Jell-O.

Not that I’ve actually seen it, but that was my husband’s comment.
After the two had exhausted themselves, they collapsed in wet heaps under the nearest tree. Praying the fish hadn’t sprouted legs and run off to Canada, we decided it was time to get down to business.

“Who’s got worms?” my father-in-law yelled out. I looked around, thinking he was talking to one of the dogs then realized he was looking straight at me.

“Uh...I...don’t have...worms,” I stammered, wondering what kind of gossip had spread through our small Midwestern town. “And I don’t care what you’ve heard!”

“Nooooo,” he laughed and pointed to the fishing pole. “Worms for the hooks.”

Ah, that makes more sense. My husband stepped forward with a small plastic container and said, “Here you go.”

“Is that what you bought from the guy under the tent by the side of the road on our way out here?” I asked.

“Sure, what did you think I was doing?” he answered.

It didn’t seem appropriate to ask at the time.

Then I realized my role in this bizarre little transaction.

“YOU MEAN THERE ARE WORMS IN THAT THING? I HELD THAT IN MY LAP!” I yelled. I began to feel light-headed and frankly more than a little grossed out. I reached out to brace myself against a tree, bent over and gagged.

“They’re just worms, Mommy,” the voice of reason said behind me. I turned my head to see said worm dangling from my son’s fingertips just three inches from my nose.
And...uh...that’s when I passed out.

***

“Mommy,” my son yelled from the bank, “I gotta go potty!”

Sure. No problem. We were, after all, in the Great Outdoors. This is what every little boy dreams of - getting to whiz on a tree outside without being picked up for public indecency.

I motioned toward the trees and said, “Pick one and go for it.”

He hopped excitedly toward me and said, “No, I have to go number 2.”

Oh, that presented a bit more of a challenge, didn’t it? I grabbed some napkins from the lunch basket and said, “Follow me.”

We hiked over to the far side of the pond. I pointed at a patch of grass and said, “There you go. Nature’s toilet.”

He shrugged as if to say “You’re the boss” and dropped his shorts. After he finished, he turned to me in excitement and said. “Wow! I went potty on the ground just like a dog! Wait’ll I tell everybody!”

So much for fishing, I thought and shook my head as he ran off. There’s always a catch. But not in the way you’d think.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sore loser



I've lost 20+ pounds since June 1, mostly by using the Wii Fit.
I started the Rhythm Boxing section yesterday. And today I'm sore.

Enough said.

(image copyright: Nintendo Wii)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Radioactive rump roast

My curiosity was piqued. I reached in and picked up the package.

The cold burned into my bare hands. The heat from my index finger carefully melted away a thin layer of frost and revealed a small clue to the identity of the misshapen bundle.

“Use by November 1,” said the tiny red letters stamped on the label. That’s not so bad, I thought. Then I read the year, “1998.”

Ooh, that is bad.

Cleaning out the freezer. It’s one of those household chores a person tackles only when a force of nature bends her to its will. Like a power loss or a 6-foot-6-inch brother-in-law demanding his chest freezer back.

Otherwise, I would have flitted through life, blissfully unaware that hiding in my kitchen was a toxic wasteland, rivaling anything caused by Chernobyl or our golden retriever after she eats the remote control.

And it was the thought of a radioactive rump roast spreading its diseased carcass around my kitchen that spurred me into action that Saturday morning.

No more battling for space in the freezer. No more shoving bags of frozen broccoli into tight corners, in between a two-year-old loaf of French bread and a fruit cake my grandma gave us three Christmases ago.

We don’t even eat broccoli. I only buy it because it looks so lonely in grocery store. The same could be said for frozen carrots, low-fat fudge bars and diet dinners. I buy because I care.

It had come down to this moment. Man vs. Machine. Female vs. Frigidaire.

The freezer is the black hole of kitchen appliances. What goes in never comes out. Except for ice cream. A gallon of double chocolate chunky crunch has a lifespan that rivals a fruit fly’s.

Armed with a pair of barbecue tongs, a roll of plastic trash bags, an updated tetanus shot and the gas mask I bought for $2.50 at our local army surplus store, I told my little boy I loved him deeply and to eat his veggies after mommy’s gone. But stay away from the carrots. They’re toxic.

I threw the freezer door open wide and was greeted with a large cloud of cold air and a smell generally reserved for a junior high school boys’ locker room. How’d that jockstrap get in there?

I reeled in horror, raised the tongs and waved them around to ward off the obnoxious odor.

Then I tripped over the dog sitting behind me who had decided to watch the proceedings with a misplaced notion that I was going to toss her a little something to challenge her iron-clad stomach.

I crashed to the floor and suddenly the lights went out. OHMYGOD! I’m blind! Save the baby!

That’s when I realized the gas mask had simply slipped down over my eyes. No need to panic. It’s cool. I let out a deep breath. That was a close one.

I stood up, pushed back my sleeves, wrestled the tongs away from the dog (who had snatched them off the floor and was halfway to the living room) and steeled myself for Round Two.

That’s when the ice machine loudly dumped a new load of fresh cubes into the storage bin. The freezer’s version of giving me the finger.

You are weak, my enemy. I am strong. I will crush you with my rancid smell and icy demeanor. And I have taken your double chocolate chunky crunch hostage.


The breath caught in my throat. Threatening me with the loss of double chocolate chunky crunch? That’s just plain mean.

I attacked with a vengeance. Nothing was safe. I reached in and grabbed boxes of stuffed jalapeno poppers, egg rolls and shrimp cocktail. I absently wondered who in the family had an appetizer addiction.

And a two-year-old frozen pizza with nothing but mushrooms on it? Who bought that and why aren’t they in therapy?

One hour later – with an amazing freezer burn on my arm the shape of Louisiana – the dust began to settle.

All that remained in the large freezer was a year’s supply of Girl Scout cookies and one gallon of double chocolate chunky crunch.

Man vs. Machine. It wasn’t much of a contest.
(originally published Aug. 8, 2006)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sunflower Smiles



Gabe is enjoying the fruits of his harvest this summer, including sunflowers. It finally bloomed today. By his excited reaction, you'd think he grew a diamond. It's nice to see my little guy appreciates the little things in life.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of my dad's death, I'm comforted to know my Gabe is so much like him.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shoes make the winner



Thanks to my freakishly small feet I can wear a youth-sized tennis shoe.

Found these on sale yesterday. My new Bearcat shoes shall bring us another national championship this year.

Fishing for compliments

The ping pong ball sailed through the air, making a perfect arc before falling back to earth and landing with a quiet plop into the small glass bowl about five feet away.

The crowd went wild; congratulating our four-year-old son for his perfect shot considering his small blonde head barely reached the counter of the carnival booth.
The attendant turned to me and asked, “Do you want the goldfish now or wait until you’re ready to leave the fair?”

Say what? Who said anything about a goldfish?! The prize in this booth is a goldfish?! Shouldn’t there be a sign or something?! A warning for parents to stay clear?! To run away?! Far, far away?! Of all the underhanded, sneaky, devious methods to…oh, wait. There IS a sign. Whoops. Sorry.

I turned my gaze from the much-too-happy-to-be-working-in-a-carnival-attendant to my husband and muttered, “He just won a goldfish.”

My husband - whose vision was distracted by a fellow carnival-goer who had eaten a few too many funnel cakes and stuffed her willowy 300-pound frame into a hot pink tube top and high heels - could only respond, “Eh?”

I nudged him hard in the ribs and repeated, “Your son. Just won a fish. We now have a goldfish.”

He dragged his gaze away from Angelina Jolie and looked at me in shock, “He did what?!”
I turned to our son and with as much enthusiasm as a mom can fake I said, “Way to go, kiddo…you won…uh…a fish.” I gulped and added in a strained voice, “Whoopee.”
He danced in excitement as the attendant fished his prize from the tank, dumped it in a clear bag and tied off the top. She handed it over the counter, and he reached up to grab it in his little hand. He turned to me, held it up like he’d just stumbled upon the crown jewels and smiled, “What do we do now, Mommy?”

Good question.

We had no bowl, no food, nor whatever else a goldfish needs to survive longer than four hours. And it was 10 p.m. on a Friday night.

That was really bad math no matter which way we added it up.

I soon found myself standing in the pet aisle of our local department store, desperately wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into as I gazed upon a mile of shelving covered with more fish-related items than Jacques Cousteau ever needed on an expedition.

“How about this one, Mommy?” my son asked and pointed to an aquarium the size of a small Buick.

What? Did we get Paris Hilton’s fish by mistake? I don’t think so.
I reached over and picked up a more modest $10 glass case and said, “I think your fish would be more comfortable in this.”

My son wrinkled his brow and stuck out his tongue, “Too small.” OK, Goldilocks. I put it back and chose one a bit bigger and placed it in the shopping cart. Without asking his opinion this time. I’m not entirely stupid, you know.

Two hours later, after a struggle over what color of gravel to get, what type of fake plants to buy, the right type of food, chemicals to treat the water and a heated game of rock-paper-scissors over whether he could buy a little ceramic sign that said “No Fishing” or a plastic shark to put in the tank, we found ourselves back home and in the middle of Fish 101.

One would think that two college-educated, reasonably intelligent individuals could put together a small aquarium with relative ease.

Think again.

“What’s this part for?” my husband asked, holding up a small piece of plastic tubing.
I frantically tore through the 36-PAGE INSTRUCTION BOOKLET (half of which was in either Korean or Swahili or Egyptian hieroglyphs) and answered, “Maybe it’s a beer bong for the fish?”

So we said a prayer and dumped him in the tank, hoping for the best. We turned off the light and quietly left the room. The hum of the aquarium’s filter drowned out the snoring of the sleeping little boy nearby.

I heard a little grrr and turned to find Chaser, Wonder Mutt of West Edwards Street, with her black nose pressed against the tank’s glass.

“No, he’s not sushi,” I remarked, grabbed her collar and marched her from the room, thinking it’ll be a miracle if that fish makes it to morning.