Saturday, February 28, 2009

Car Conversations I

Addie:  Hey, Mom, what's the baddest bad word?
Me:  I'm not going to tell you.
Addie:  Why?
Me:  Because I don't want you to know it and I don't want you to say it.
Addie:  Well, just tell me what letter it starts with. 
Me:  No way!
Addie:  Why not?
Me:  Because I don't want you to know it and I don't want you to say it.
Addie:  Why?  
Me:  Well, first of all, Dad would be really mad.
Addie:  Well, we just won't tell him.
Me:  Very funny.
Addie:  OK, is it 'stupid'?
Me: No.
Addie:  Is it 'butt'?
Me: No.
Addie: Is it 'jackass'?
Me:  (Hiding a smile -- she's heard that one before!) No.
Addie: Is it 'damn'?
Me: (Well, OK, not so bad...) No.
Addie: Is it 'Christ'?
Me:  (Thinking, "At least she didn't say, 'Is it Jesus H. Christ on a Cracker'.")  No.
Addie: Well, what is it?
Me:  I'm not going to tell you.

Phew!  If she's heard me drop the f-bomb, she wasn't paying attention...DON'T tell Dad!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Miss You, Gram

Gram and me in FL, 2000.
With her first great-grandchild, 2004.
Four generations! 2005

My mom's mom died a year ago.

At the time, I was still grieving the loss of my brother, Joel, who, at the age of 20, decided his life was over and shot himself in the head with my dad's .308. I am still grieving my brother -- no doubt I always will -- but the loss of my Gram is becoming more real to me. She was young -- she became a mom at a young age and then became a grandmother at the age of 39 when I was born.

My grandfather died in 1992, just about the time I really took an interest in my grandparents as people. I remember my grandfather was full of laughs. He wasn't a large man, but his presence and his voice filled a room. My gram was just that same way. She loved having fun and was always quick to giggle and laugh. I never remember her being idle. She was always doing something: walking, working outside, painting, traveling, going here or there with this person or that. Her life was full of activities and friends.

She particularly enjoyed painting. She was in several art leagues and almost always had some kind of showing, or art festival, on her calendar of events. Every birthday or holiday card that we received from her was either painted by her, or was a print of one of her works.

As long as I can remember, Gram (and Grampa, too, when he was alive) spent only the warmest months in Pennsylvania. They were usually here from late spring to late summer or early fall, and the rest of the time she (they) spent in Florida, or traveling around the United States or Canada. Actually, there were a good many years where they were only in PA for a few weeks per year, when they owned Green Bay Camp in Cloyne, Ontario. They would live and work there in the summer and then would winter in Florida, just stopping by in PA on there way to and from.

Anyway, all of my memories of her are full of fun -- playing with her button stash while she sewed, singing Puff the Magic Dragon and Green, Green Grass of Home while she played on the organ, helping her clean cabins and pretending to mind the store, listening to the almost constant (but strangely comforting) sounds of her and Grampa bickering, going through her multitude of photo albums and hearing all about her latest adventures, laughing, joking, playing cards, eating sticky buns, looking for Burrowing Owls, gathering together for the annual Labor Day picnic.

I miss you, Gram.

Credits: Papers, elements and alpha from Amy Teets' "Sun Porch" and Shabby Princess' "Vintage Florals." Paper tear templates from Diane L. Miller. Georgia font. Adobe PS/CS.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Post-Valentine's Reflections, or Things I Really, Really Like...

My husband
  • Because he's super, duper smart.
  • I like the sound of his voice.
  • No one else could put up with all my bullshit.
  • He's ultra-patient and tolerant.
  • He takes really good care of us.
  • He's a great dad.
  • He has a good sense of humor and makes me laugh.
  • Did I mention he's really patient, and puts up with all my shit?

My kiddos

  • They are super, duper smart.
  • I love the way they laugh.
  • They are so adorable, sometimes I'd like to eat them.
  • They are brave and adventurous.
  • They are full of mischief.
  • They still think I can do anything and know more than they do.
  • I see parts of my brother in them.

My family and friends -- you know who you are!

  • For all your dysfunction, idiosyncracies and craziness, you've been around, made me laugh, held me up, talked me down and make my life full and complete. I love you all.

Aikido at Itten Dojo (hope this comes up on your google search, Sensei!)

  • It is full of fun, dedicated and genuinely nice people.
  • It has whipped me into shape.
  • It is both physically and mentally challenging.
  • NO ONE SMELLS BAD! Can you believe it? I can't, but it's true.
  • Once in awhile, for a few brief seconds, by some alignment of the planets, or some freak chance, I actually experience the magic and power of Aikido and it is exhilarating!
  • Sometimes, there is blood.

The Farm

  • The farm holds all of my best childhood memories.
  • It is my refuge, my retreat and where my family gathers.
  • It is beautiful and clean and lush.
  • There is something fun to do there in every season (hunt, make maple syrup, garden, swim, hike, sled, snowmobile, four-wheel, harvest honey, fish, can/freeze/preserve, relax, eat/drink/talk, etc., etc.)
  • No matter where I am, it's what I think of when someone says "home."

Books and Music

  • Duh!

Ashley @ Lush317

  • She's super funny, totally real and cuts and colors like a magician!

Tattoos, Boots, Harleys, Dive Bars

  • They're just cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cheating to Lose

My daughter recently has acquired enough interest and skill to be able to play board games like Candy Land and Uncle Wiggily. We play just about every day, Candy Land being her favorite and Uncle Wiggily being mine.

She becomes intensely focused on winning and frequently has outbursts of temper if she loses a game. Then she tries all methods to win: trying and stack the deck, or changing the rules, or skipping spaces. I have spent a significant amount of time teaching her that it's fun just to play a game together, that you never know what will happen in a game, and that it's good sportsmanship to play fair, etc., etc.

Well, yesterday we were playing Candy Land. I kept winning over and over and over. Addie was taking it like a champ. She really kept it together, sighing when she would lose, but for the most part playing fair and being pleasant.

I really wanted her patience to pay off. I wanted her tolerance to be rewarded by a hard-won victory, fair-and-square. But her win never came. She put on a brave face, but I knew she was so disappointed.

On our last game, I thought she was going to pull it off. I was on the home stretch and she had just pulled the Princess Frostine card, putting her one space behind me. We were keeping pace down the straightaway. Then I pulled two doubles in a row, which put me three spaces from the finish. Addie kept pulling singles. I knew if she got one more double card, she'd make it to the finish for a win. I was on orange and was hoping for a single green or red, which would give her an extra turn. But as I began to pick up the next card, I saw it was a double. If I picked up that card, I'd win again...I paused and Addie said, "Come on, Mom, pick it up." Instead of taking the top card, I picked the third one down, a single red and took my turn. Addie picked the card I should have gotten and won the game. She was so happy! She repeated some of the phrases that I had used on her over the last months, "See, Mom? You just never know! It's fun to just play!"

I felt a teeny bit guilty that I had stacked the deck in her favor. After all my talk about playing fair and someone has to win and someone has to lose and how it's just nice to play a game together...I wanted her to win so badly that I cheated.

It is my hope that she didn't notice. I did it very quickly and we were talking of other things at the time, but I think she knows what I did. Was the reward of her being momentarily happy worth the potential "lesson" that cheating is okay? Or that she thinks she can't win on her own merits, that she can only win if someone rolls over for her?

Certainly this isn't the biggest parenting dilemma that I've faced, or will face, by a longshot. But, it's a dilemma nonetheless. Not even hindsight is giving me 20/20 this time. *sigh*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One More Post Before Bed

In our pre-kid days, Chris and I used to visit all kinds of creepy places. Neither of us is entirely sure if we 'believe' in ghosts, but we'd sure be interested in seeing one. Anyway, this photograph was taken inside Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadephia. ESP was a prison started by Quakers, who believed that solitary reflection would lead criminals to find their best selves.

The prison is now an historical site, and a way cool one at that! We spent hours there. All around the grounds are numbers placed in certain locations. You are given an MP3 player upon arrival and when you get to a spot with a number, you press it and get a recorded message about the significance of whatever you are viewing.

We didn't see any ghosts, but I got some stunning photographs, this being one of them.

Manic Mama, Signing On...

Well, here it is -- my first official blog!

Here are some topics you may read about here, because they are things I like and/or love and things that interest me:

The Kiddos
The Fam (some of whom shall remain nameless to protect the guilty...)
Wine and Food
Digital Scrapbooking
County Fairs
Life in the 'Burbs

You may also read about my hatred of Dell, Inc., their crappy products and pathetic customer service.

Sometimes I may write about politics, religion or social issues. If I offend you, it is not intentional, but this IS my blog...