Sunday, February 28, 2010

My new favorite: Percy Jackson & the Olympians



I have found a series of books that are quickly becoming a favorite: Percy Jackson & the Olympians.

Easy to read, fun to follow. Gabe will enjoy them in a few years. Here's the link to the series: http://bit.ly/ccSOvs

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oh, so pretty!


I think the reason I can't figure out scoring in Olympic curling is because I keep getting distracted by the Norwegian men's team's pants.

(photo courtesy of MSNBC.com)



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Watch this

I think Olympic ski jumping would be much more exciting if the athletes had to vault over a shark pit ala The Fonz.

Here's a column that was inspiried by the 2008 Summer Olympics....

It was a perfect backward three-somersault tuck with a twist.
Too bad it was off the kitchen table.

And the “diver” was my three-year-old son who had narrowly missed landing on the golden retriever innocently taking a snooze on the floor.

That’s it, I thought. No more watching the Olympics on television for you, young man.

“What in the world are you doing?” I walked over to him and asked in a reasonably calm tone considering he’d also come thisclose to ramming his little blonde head on the edge of the table.

I looked down to see my son, flat on his back on the floor with one leg draped over the dog’s head as she struggled to free herself from his haphazard fall. So much for sticking the landing. Oh, wait. That’s gymnastics. Nevermind.

My son only smiled and asked, “Do I get a medal now, Mommy?”

My husband, who had watched the entire episode from the family room, decided it was time for a little discipline.

“Hey!” he hollered and marched forward. Just as I began to think he was gonna lay down the law about the dangers of jumping off the furniture he added, “Don’t forget to tuck your chin a little tighter. That’ll make you spin faster.”

Then he held his hand up in the air and added, “But good effort. High five!”

That’s it, I thought. No more watching the Olympics on television for you either, old man.

***

Since becoming a mom to a human with a Y chromosome, I’ve discovered the two most dangerous words in the English language are “Watch this.”

They are usually uttered before the following occasions:

Riding a bike.

Throwing a baseball.

Eating a bug.

Peeing in the toilet.

Sticking something up his nose AFTER peeing in the toilet.

As a result, one would think I’d be more cautious about what I introduce to his young world. Alas, no. I took complete leave of my senses and bought the little daredevil a scooter.

I must be insane.

“Watch this!” were the last words I heard before he took off down the driveway at a speed that was slightly less than a closer’s fast ball in the ninth with the bases loaded and the winning run up to bat.

Before I could dig my heart out of my throat to yell out a warning, he hollered, “Watch this trick!”

His “trick” was to go really, really, really fast…then jump off and fly through the air like he’d been blasted from a cannon.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

He landed on the ground with a sickening thud as the scooter shot to the right, rolled into a nearby tree and fell over onto its side.

At least my son was wearing a helmet. The fact that he had it on backward with the safety strap wrapped around his nose didn’t seem to bother him any.

Not many points for style, but it kept his head from cracking open like an egg. So for that I was grateful as I ran over to pick him up, dust him off and pray that our health insurance premiums were paid up.

***

I heard the crash about three seconds before I heard, “MOMMY! IWANTMYMOMMY!”

I raced up the stairs, flipping the bird to the likes of gravity myself when I missed the top step and rammed my knee into the banister.

Insert appropriate swear word here.

I limped into my son’s room to see him lying in a crumpled heap in the middle of his bed and rubbing the top of his head. My razor-sharp Mom eyes quickly spotted a small, head-sized dent in the wall next to the bed.

“Were you jumping on the bed again?” I asked, already knowing the answer. “And then fell into the wall?”

“Just a little bit,” he answered. “Did I hurt the wall?”

I leaned over for a closer inspection and answered, “Nah, nothing a little spackle won’t fix.”

I have a feeling I’ll be buying a lot more of that in the next few years.

***

As my husband’s brother once put it, “I don’t blame you for my nephew’s shortcomings. I blame your husband. We used to pull those stunts all the time as kids. But he hit his head a lot more than I did. That’s what’s wrong with him.”

Makes perfect sense to me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A spectacular sunrise


There are few people I know whom I would count among the most admirable, honest, intelligent and compassionate as my Uncle Melvin.

Toss in a wicked sense of humor and an undeniable love of Planet Earth and you have one of my favorite people. Together with my wonderful aunt, they raised two of the most terrific and talented kids I've ever had the pleasure to know.

In December, this giant of a man collapsed. We've prayed. We've hoped. We've begged for a miracle that does not seem to be coming. God has other plans for this beautiful man. My heart breaks for my aunt and cousins knowing their time with him is limited. The only solace I can offer is what was shared with me by a Benedictine Sister after the sudden passing of my dad:

"Death is not extinguishing the light," Indian poet Tagore wrote, "it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."

Thank you, Melvin, for sharing your life with us mere mortals. I cannot imagine how spectacular the sunrise will be in your new home.


My little Pele


Thanks to the Northwest Bearcat soccer team for hosting a clinic for 4- and 5-year-old aspiring players this weekend.

Gabe had a great time learning a few fundamentals. Plus, he scored three goals in scrimmage. It was a nice boost for him. When he played soccer last fall he was one of the youngest in the entire league. It was difficult to keep up with the older kids and rarely got his feet on the ball, but he stuck with it. That's my boy!

As a parent.... My kid isn't perfect. I'm not perfect, so I don't expect him to be. But he shined on Saturday. He was placed in a group that had two or three - shall we say - unruly little boys. They refused to listen, and disrupted the clinic for all else in Gabe's group. Gabe and the three girls, on the other hand, were very well behaved.

It may take a village but discipline starts at home, my friends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Holy cow!


I give my husband a hard time, so it's a good thing he has a sense of humor. That, or he's a masochist who enjoys the pity he receives from my readers. In any case, he's the best. And I don't say/write it often enough.

As if I'm not lucky enough to have such a great guy in my life, yesterday he surprised me with big birthday plans: a trip to Chicago in the spring. Details include a stay at the Ritz downtown, which makes me a little nervous 'cuz we're not Ritz kinda-people. Ritz crackers?...yes. Ritz hotels?...uh, not quite. But I'll give it a shot and promise not to steal the bath towels. But the shampoo is still free, right? Plus, dinner at Harry Caray's restaurant and - best of all - a Cubs game at WRIGLEY FIELD with seats so close to the action I'm practically guaranteed to get smacked in the head by a foul ball!

Can I get a HOLY COW?!

I'm so flippin' excited about that last part that I peed my pants a little. OK. Honestly. I just did. I lost bladder control years ago thanks to pregnancy and a 24-hour labor.

I've been a Cubs fan since I was little. Some might think that strange, growing up in KC Royals and St. Louis Cardinals country. But we lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I rarely got to catch a baseball game 'cuz our television only received one channel. On a clear day. If me or my brother stood next to the antenna with a stick of aluminum foil in one hand, the other hand placed on the TV and reciting 'Hail Mary'...and we weren't even Catholic.

And back before the powers-that-be struck terror in the hearts of baseball purists everywhere and added lights to Wrigley Field, the team played a ton of day games - games my Dad listened to on AM radio while on a tractor in the hayfield. Dad was a Cubs fan. Ergo, I was a Cubs fan.

And then I turned 12 and all was right with the world - Mom and Dad installed satellite TV. And this was satellite TV in its infancy, my friends. The dish was the size NASA used to send radio signals to deep space. It came with no fewer than 6 boxes. One for the transponder. One for the actual channel. One for ordering Chinese food. And the rest were for launching missiles at the good old USSR.

And with this new-fangled technology came a lovely channel called WGN. And they showed the Cubs games all summer long. I was in heaven.

And now I'll get to see Wrigley Field in all its spectacular glory. Part of me mourns the fact that I won't get to share this special moment with my Dad. He never got to Wrigley Field before a massive heart attack 2 1/2 years ago took him from us. But I know he'll be there with me on that day. Especially if the wind is blowing out to center.

Instead, I'll get to experience it with my husband. A great man who mirrors many of my Dad's wonderful qualities. And, like Dad, one who rarely shows his emotions but loves deeply and honestly. I'm a lucky girl.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What a difference a year makes


This week - one year ago - we were outside in T-shirts and shorts playing baseball. In February.

Now it's a 0-degree windchill with four inches of snow on the ground and the rumor is polar bears are moving in next door. Ah, Missouri weather. There's nothing like it. For a reason.

I remember this day well 'cuz Gabe pitched a heater to Jon...who quickly smacked it back to Gabe...right in the face.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge

Since winter has vowed to make our lives hell this year, we decided a mini-vacay was in order. Off to the Great Wolf Lodge we went.

Had a nice time on the waterslides (Gabe only fell off the innertube once, prompting a little rescue action from the lifeguards), followed by some air hockey in the arcade then off to Jazz for dinner and a little Super Bowl action.

All in all, it made us forget about winter for a couple of days. Definitely worth it. And - fortunately - Gabe has yet to demand we construct a Wolf Den in his room at home.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Words of wisdom from my little black book

I have absolutely nothing to write about this week. And I blame my husband.

“Come on, do something!” I hollered at him just days before deadline.

“What do you want me to do?” he hollered back.

The love in our home just blows you away, doesn’t it?

“Something stupid and embarrassing!” I replied.

“Why?”

“So I can write about it.”

“Oh. Sure,” he announced in dry tones. “I’ll get right on that.”

You see, my creative juices are directly proportional to whatever hi-jinx my family creates. With a husband, a 4-year-old and a golden retriever who thinks she’s royalty, there are usually enough incidents to warrant our own Homeland Security folder. But not this week.

It was - gasp - so boring that nothing jumped immediately to mind. So I pulled out my little black book.

No, not that little black book. The other one.

You know, the one I use to write down column ideas. You’ve seen it. Most of you run screaming in terror from me when you see me whip it out.

Imagine your reaction if I were wearing a trench coat and black socks at the same time.

I turned to page one....

“I want to be invincible when I grow up.”

Muttered by my son out of the blue after picking him up from preschool one day. Impressed by a rather extensive vocabulary for his young four years, I asked why.

“So people couldn’t see me.”

Oh. OK. Check that previous comment about his vocabulary being soooo stupendous.

“I think you meant to say, ‘invisible’ not ‘invincible,’” I corrected.

“Oh,” he said, “What does ‘invincible’ mean?”

“It means you’re the best, the strongest, that no one can beat you,” I answered.

“Cool!” he yelled from the back seat. “Then I want to be INVINCIBLE!”

“OK,” I replied, “but you’re gonna have to start eating your vegetables.”

Quiet. Then followed by a quick, “Never mind.”

Felled by the mere idea of broccoli. So much for his future of becoming a superhero.

Onward to page two....

“You won’t believe the size of the booger I just blew outta my nose!”

Nope, not said by the 4-year-old. Rather, the 40-something aforementioned husband.

I’m not sure what was more disturbing: the idea he wanted to brag about his nasal snot or the fact a 40-something man used the word “booger.”

Stand back, ladies. Here’s all mine.

And page three....

“Maybe it hurts ‘cuz your dress is too tight.”

Again, not who you might think. Going back to the preschooler with this one. But a little background first.

I spent the past 6 months shedding 30 pounds through diet, exercise and the sheer will to get back into three-quarters of the clothes hanging in my closet.

And I did it. Then I did what every other red-blooded American female worth her Visa card does.

I went shopping.

And found a cute little black dress. I tried it on. It seemed a bit snug but still fit. Even without the added help of a body-shaping bra, girdle, panty hose and starving myself for three days before actually wearing it in public. Nope, an honest-to-goodness real fit.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at the tag and realized I’d accidentally pulled one from the rack that was two sizes smaller than I wear.

My mouth formed a silent O. Then I excitedly jumped up and down in the tiny fitting room, lost my balance and smashed into the wall with a loud BANG.

Oh, so graceful.

The sales lady tapped on the door and asked politely, “Are you OK in there?”

I squeaked out, “Just fine,” quickly took the dress off, tossed it over the door to her and said, “Ring it up!”

Later that evening, I modeled it for my boys.

They ooh-ed and aah-ed appropriately. I felt a small cramp under my rib cage. My son noticed and asked, “You have an owie, Mom?”

I nodded yes then he wisely announced, “Maybe it hurts ‘cuz your dress is too tight.”

Insert seizure here.

Needless to say, the only one not in the doghouse this week is...well...the dog. Welcome to my world.