She's flown in a plane, ridden in a kayak, enjoyed horse-drawn carriages, and a chair-lift to the summit.
Friday, May 29, 2009
She's flown in a plane, ridden in a kayak, enjoyed horse-drawn carriages, and a chair-lift to the summit.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I discovered recently that I have a not-so-secret admirer. The outgoing President of the MIT Club became aware of my blog. And, to my surprise and delight, read far enough back into my archives to discover that he likes my poetry.
Who wouldn’t be flattered?
Soon after, I was honored with the opportunity to pen a poem for his retirement from the MIT Club of NE Ohio.
Flattery will get you everywhere – or, at very least, it will get you a poem.
This ‘pro-bono’ work (as if I have ever been paid for a poem) was well received at the MIT luncheon today.
His wife Joy, who heard the poem in advance, brought his chair to the luncheon. He sat upon his actual chair to listen to his poem.
Without further adieu -
By MIT Mommy, with due respects to Edgar Allen Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, with his eyes bloodshot and bleary.
Joe studied Aero-Astro in his Phi Beta Epsilon lair.
It was Seventy in the Spring – so anxious for what life would bring,
Looking forward to chase his dreams, MIT years - his best nightmare.
Soon would be his graduation, eyes face forward celebration.
The gift of knowledge – and a chair.
He wed his Joy he loved the most, lived in cities from coast to coast,
Soon he would have more to boast – his household grows beyond a pair.
Children must be always going, parents busy watch them growing.
Keeping home fires ever glowing, blowing laughter into the air.
These bless’d parents ever knowing, at family table room to spare.
Sit with me here upon my chair.
Joe’s family makes Cleveland home, for many years he wouldn’t roam
Too far as our MIT Club learned the talents that he could share.
A decade he was on the Board, the Club asked if he could afford,
To lead the MIT Club, or if it was too much time to share.
A Club’s success is very rare, without a leader for its care.
Seven years more, he earned his chair.
Joe’s MIT preparation matched with honest dedication
Furth’red students’ education at those Heights Schools near Shaker Square.
Joe’s hard work was sensational, directing Educational
Council for the Region – with MIT caliber savoir faire.
A Morgan Award only fair, your achievements it does declare.
No time to rest upon that chair.
Joe’s next stop will be New Hampshire, once again to tend the home fire.
They proceed ahead as a pair to keep her mother in their care.
Moving forward, never grieving, many items they are leaving
Who needs things when you’re believing, sailing forth through your life with flair.
They leave behind their cozy lair. All he will need when he gets there -
Heart full of mem’ries and a chair.
A year from now, he’ll leave the shore, braving seas the world to explore.
Safety first we do implore, we wish your skies are ever fair.
We wish our best to this fine couple, now his Joy is truly double,
It may seem simple, little trouble, yet such a duo seems so rare.
A great adventure they will share and once completed return to where,
He leaves behind his lonely chair.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We took our camper (aka Jessie Marie) for her maiden voyage this weekend. We made it just outside the suburbs of Cleveland to Punderson State Park. Under the tutelage of our friends, we learned the art of camping, and we practiced very, very hard. Difficult procedures and detailed instructions were given on topics such as, "How to hang a hammock," “how to put kids to bed and sit around the campfire,” and many other important themes. Relaxation has never been my strong point, but I feel obligated to learn - you know, for the children.
So, here is a summary of our lessons, in no particular order.
1. Do NOT impale your forehead with a dull metal hook. A picture was taken, but you should thank me for not posting it.
2. “Norman Rockwell” style parades are awesome, especially when shared with nine families, a canopy, and plenty of food and drink. (Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
4. Three parades in one weekend would seem like a lot if the third one wasn’t completely by accident. (Newbury, Ohio)
5. Backing a 26-foot trailer into a “tent only” spot can be done as a team without causing marital tension. Of course, I doubt it could be done twice.
6. Forgetting your towel when visiting a public shower seems insignificant if you recently impaled your forehead with a dull metal hook. Fortunately, I forgot my camera too.
7. Showing up at your son’s piano recital in jean capris and with bloody head is disrespectful, but won’t get you kicked out.
9. S’mores are the best dessert ever, especially when made by children.
10. Although everyone may not agree, I still think a friend’s guitar playing surpasses a radio – even if I did sing out of tune when he played. (Next time go easier on that crazy pudding you gave me – is that recipe really in the PTA cookbook?).
11. Children will ride bikes all day if given the opportunity.
13. Watching a daddy help his kid ride without training wheels is fabulous, even if that child is not your own. (Gladys tried, but wasn’t quite there.)
14. If the sewage drainpipe isn’t sealed properly, you could get a nasty surprise. Sorry, Honey.
15. Camping with experienced campers helps mitigate the issues you might face while realizing all the things that you don’t have. Thank you, Laura & Pat.
16. Everyone laughs harder around the campfire.
17. The comforter that comes standard with campers does not appear to be made out of any natural fibers. I am considering keeping it as a picnic blanket. It might be waterproof.
18. If I do happen to be bleeding profusely from the forehead, having my husband anoint me with Neosporin in a “May the Lord be with you” sort of way will cause me to laugh so hard I can’t breathe. I guess you had to be there for that one.
19. We made the right decision.
Lesson #20 - Our family will learn more this summer than how to camp.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009
I picked blue. I guess that is blue?
I have a weakness for fabric. I love texture and color and feeling how a nice fabric falls. I own fabric that I have purchased in many countries because, even when I did not have time to sew, but plenty of time to travel, I always bought fabric on trips.
I still did not plan on redecorating the camper.
I considered all of the hotel rooms at which I have lodged. Never once did an upholstery pattern negatively impact a vacation. Never. I am NOT going to worry about the fabric in the camper.
Sunday morning, my children begged us to eat breakfast in the camper.
“We’ll spend plenty of time in there this summer. We don’t need to do that today,” I replied in a usual motherly way. All I could think about was dragging everything out there. Yes, we eat on the deck frequently, but we had SO much to do on Sunday.
“Come on, Mommy. We should see if we all FIT.”
I laughed. Friday when we took our first tour of the camper, the children all climbed in the bed to check if they would ‘fit.’ Indeed, we need to ‘try it on.’
They are so excited. “Okay,” I said, “let’s practice.”
Consider for a moment the upholstered sofa in your living room. How many times have three small children sat on it eating bacon? Syrup? Never? Good plan.
A quick inspection found that the upholstery is not truly removable. Those clever zippers are part of the production process. They don’t come off. I am not sure what an upholstered bench would look and smell like after three weeks of eating on it (or worse), but I have no plans to find out.
Immediately after breakfast, I set out for some fabric – something practical, "campy," in blue and sage - hopefully a classic pattern. Something with a real zipper – that could be scrubbed and Febrezed and hung outside in the sun, or even thrown away if necessary.
I found exactly what I sought in a blue, cream and tan plaid. The tan pulls out the sage perfectly. I loved it. It was on sale. I needed six yards. They had a yard and a half.
After a little searching, I realized that I liked the plaid enough that nothing else would do, so my little brain started redesigning my seats. I bought some navy blue that compliments it and came up with new design.
I realized very quickly that my new design seemed very car-like. I felt like it was the right design for a long-distance car trip. It took me a little longer, though why this design felt so very comfortable.
And then I remembered.
The early 80’s AMC Hornet my family owned.
Plaid seats. Brown trim. Fast food grease.
There it was, my neo-classic design.
If that poor old Hornet hadn’t died a “death-by-teenagers,” today it would be considered a classic car.
It may be hard to tell in this picture, but the blue fabric comes up over the top of the cushion trimming it on the bottom. That is the detail I recall from the Hornet. The link above shows a 1973 Hornet, that had a smaller scale plaid and less leather around it than the 80's version.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
“Honey, you don’t really wear clothes, you install them.”
I guess it is time to admit that it is true. I find something I like, something classic, of great quality, comfortable, and attractive, and I wear it. I wear it Every Day. (Until, unfortunately, it may not be so attractive anymore, oops). I have gone years without owning more than one pair of shorts at a time. I mostly wear skirts and dresses in the summer, with my favorite pair of sandals. I wear mostly skirts and jeans in the winter, with my favorite pair of boots.
That is who I am.
On Monday, Ohmommy teased me about my seven-year-old sandals. When my side started hurting from laughing and I finally settled down, I felt quite smug because my sandals are not really seven years old. And, by the way, I already had purchased replacements for them just this past week.
The salesman at Nordstrom salivated when he saw me walk in with my old Cole Haan sandals. He recognized immediately that they hadn’t sold that style for at least six years or so. I had bought the very last pair and they were on sale – so they are about six and a half years old.
I left having ordered a pair in my size, because even Nordstrom doesn’t carry many narrow shoes anymore.
Unfortunately, they are still in the box. I haven’t worn them yet. I might even take them back. As you can tell from the picture, they are a huge departure from my previous sandals. I am not sure society will withstand the shock.
They aren’t even brown.
See, I'm not really that practical. These sandals are not even older than my minivan.
Should I trade them in for brown, really? I mean, after only three years a light color will look shabby, I need them to last at least five years or so. Tee hee hee.
Monday, May 18, 2009
A Mula is Mandatory Unpaid Leave of Absence. Call it a furlough if you prefer. It means you are unemployed, at least for a week, or maybe its two weeks, or maybe someone is just calling it a ‘furlough,’ but you know the real word is ‘layoff.’
Call it what you want.
I call it the Mula Hula. It’s a new dance craze.
Some people are dancing to just barely keep those hoops from touching the ground. Other people have decided that it’s the chance of a lifetime – they are showing off those sweet behinds and enjoying the dance.
It is some combination of attitude, financial stability, and plain, old-fashioned faith that everything will be just fine.
Anyway, we have our health. It is just money. We can always go live with your brother, right? They keep dancing – smiling at least some of the time.
My husband has been awarded a few weeks of Mula Hula over the next year. I have a half-dozen friends who have actually been laid-off. And, the truth is, we DO have our health and ingenuity and that little chump change that is left of our savings. We are planning to enjoy the dance. (After all, I DO have a pretty sweet behind for my age, or at least I did when I last looked back there a decade ago).
And now, you understand why we bought Jessie Marie (known for two days as Bessy G II, until Andrew and Gladys announced her name had changed).
I have a few weeks to wrestle with Cleveland City Hall to make sure her name is right on the birth certificate (okay, a little sick humor). And then, we go out West in an F-150 off-road pick-up truck hauling a 26-foot trailer into the sunset.
I am alternately excited and dumbfounded. I never, ever expected to own a trailer. Ever!
But, I really do want to show our kids every inch of America, one mile at a time. We can leave whenever we want. The kids can throw a dart at the U.S map and we’ll go there.
My husband and I have been to 17 time zones together. The rest of the world still beckons me. The first time I traveled overseas, I was 17 years old and without my parents. It did me good. You never truly understand America until you leave it behind.
Our kids will need to experience that too.
When they do, they will remember dancing through mile after mile of America.
And, they will understand why a little Mula, still makes their parents Hula.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
and then there was the time that it wouldn't pop down,
and, yes, those are safety pins, don't remove them,
and, you'll need your toolbox to use that.
Oh, and don't forget to put the stabilizers down, and park her at a tilt so she doesn't leak, and don't put your pillow in THAT corner . . . and take good care of her, okay?
Bessy travels with character. And, you have to be a little bit of a character to travel with Bessy.
Our newly-purchased pop-up camper (for our South Dakota trip) was taken on a maiden voyage a few weeks ago. It seems prudent to learn how to use it before taking it for our 1300 mile adventure. And, even better, our friends from whom we purchased it came along to show us the ropes.
As we drove down to a local campsite, Andrew announced that our new camper needed a name. She immediately became part of the family. Without much hesitation, Jay suggested the name “Bessy.”
“Really? Bessy?” I squirmed in my seat.
When we named our first born, we agreed to not use family names for the kids – too much pressure. We weren’t going to have enough children to use everyone’s name, so why use any? And, I thought it might put undo pressure on the child to follow in the footsteps of someone – maintain a legacy that may not even exist.
No family names. Period. Someone would get hurt.
“You want to name the camper after Grandma?” I asked softly. In the background, I heard Andrew already saying that it was the perfect name!!
“Jay, why Bessy?” I continued to squirm. “Why would he pick my father’s mother? What about our three other grandmothers, not to mention the kid’s grandmothers?”
“What an awesome name, Dad! Bessy is a great choice!!” Andrew’s comments continued, and were ringing in my ears. Jay shot me a funny look.
“I’ve always like the name Elizabeth,” he explained (which is true, we couldn’t use it because we have a niece named Eliza, and a grandmother named Bessie), “I just thought Elizabeth was a little formal, Bessy just fit better.”
Andrew continued to repeat his praises . . . what was he saying, exactly?
Finally, I listened. “Mom,” he repeated “Grandma’s name isn’t Bessy, don’t you even know your own mother’s name? (said with that fabulous undertone of – duh – that only a 5 year old can master) Bessy is perfect because it’s the name of the big, old road-laying trailer in the movie Cars. Its big and old and a trailer, just like our Bessy! Its perfect!”
I smiled. “Oh, THAT Bessy, I get it.”
Andrew went on, now requesting middle and last names. John looked at me again. “How about Bessy G?” (G for my mother’s mother). I shook my head laughing.
That is how The Bessy G got her name.
And, in 20 years when everyone has their own story, you can trust that they are all correct.
That is how family lore begins.
Here they are, saying 'goodbye.' That isn't our red car hitched up to Bessy this time.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Definitions really don’t change so much. The children poked and annoyed each other. We encouraged them to “stop their bellyaching.” We played a few games.
The intended purpose of the drive, aside from testing patience, was to put 400 more miles on our new truck, Henry. It is common practice to put 1000 miles on a truck before requiring it to haul heavy loads. We bought the truck two weeks ago with about 24 miles on it. Henry will be ‘hitched’ to Bessie II (our trailer-to-be) on Friday, so he needs to be ready. (Henry belongs to two engineers with great respect for the proper care of machines – and an obvious need to drive unnecessary?? off-road vehicles.)
We visited the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, with a brief stop at Vince’s bar for lunch. If you did not enjoy a pizza lunch on a tippy bench for Mother’s Day, after a three-hour drive with three young children, you have every right to be thoroughly jealous.
I shouldn’t brag like this, but lunch really was delicious. And, I was able to introduce Gladys to a ‘towel machine,’ which she had never before seen. Remember those machines? The ones where you pull the towel out to dry your hands and the used towel loops up back into the machine? I hadn’t seen one in years. I really ought to get out more often.
After a big pizza lunch (Andrew ate three slices), we traveled deeper into the National Forest.
My husband has been reading about off-roading and trail ratings and places to go on our trip out West. Jay and Henry had made some unofficial plans to leave the map.
I didn’t flinch when Henry turned onto a side road.
The steep grade and bumpy road amused all of us, but didn’t impress Henry much at all. I glanced over my shoulder to see Andrew’s huge smile.
George began singing ‘aaaaaaaaaa’ to enjoy the voice modulation resulting from the bumpy road. I love his ability to self-entertain, and I giggled out load.
Soon, we heard Andrew complain.
“We are enjoying George’s song,” my husband and I admonished, “stop your belly-aching.”
He complained again.
“Andrew, you were enjoying it a minute ago, just enjoy the trip. Look out for animals, I bet we see more deer.”
“Dad! Stop! I’m really, really, really, really going to puke!”
Jay stopped. He pulled off the dirt road onto a small dead end. But, it was too late.
Andrew looked left, and Gladys was immediately covered in puke.
I leapt over the back of the seats, grabbing Jay’s (washable) jacket and caught the rest of the volcano. In the meantime, Jay tended to Gladys.
After mitigating the worst of the voluminous vomit, Jay took Andrew out of his seat and I continued cleaning the truck. I admit that I was pretty upset. It wasn’t Andrew’s fault. We should have listened. He shouldn’t be allowed to eat so much pizza. I could have put the blanket under their seats, like I do in the van.
Should have. Would have. Could have. I muttered to myself as I swabbed up the sticky mess in our beloved new truck. Grrrrr. George watched me quietly.
And then I finally looked up. I saw Andrew, standing outside the truck, free as a bird save his sneakers.
My gasp of surprise was enough to set Andrew into giggles. I laughed too, in spite of myself.
Henry was baptized on Mother’s Day.
I hope your day was as memorable.
Pick-up trucks are particularly handy for carrying loads of pukey clothes and for washing off disgusting car seats. Wash thoroughly after use.
Friday, May 8, 2009
“We are fixing your brother’s name.”
“But we already did that,” I heard the whining start.
“It didn’t work. We try again.”
“Can I wear my bells?! Pleeease.”
“Fine. But, if they become a problem, you’ll have to take them off.”
I collected my documentation, and we left for City Hall, for the fourth try. Somehow, an ‘e’ was missing out of Georg's, I mean George’s, first and middle names on his birth certificate. I’ll try to make a long story short.
I called City Hall. I told them the problem. I asked them what documentation I needed.
“No problem,” they said kindly, “just bring your i.d.”
Skeptical, I brought my drivers’ license, passport, marriage license, social security card, copies of his incorrect birth certificate, a checkbook, cash, and credit cards.
After an hour wait in line, they said, “I’m sorry. The mistake was not made in our office, you’ll have to go over to Probate Court.”
I walked to Probate Court. Probate Court explained the procedure for having his name changed, not corrected, then kindly told me that a letter from the hospital would be all I needed to have the birth certificate corrected.
I immediately drove to the hospital, on the other side of town.
The hospital’s computer was down. A few days later, I received the request for correction letter in the mail.
I returned to City Hall, with everything from the first trip, plus the request for correction. I waited for an hour in line with my two little ones.
“You need to fill out this form.”
I filled it out.
“Is your spouse here?”
“He will need to come to our office, or you can have his signature notarized.”
I returned with all of the documentation from above, with the form signed and properly notarized, which took me a few weeks to arrange. I waited for an hour in line with my two little ones.
“We will need your son’s social security card to show the correct spelling of his name.”
“It is wrong too.”
“We need some proof to show which spelling he commonly uses.”
George and Gladys were with me. I thought about assaulting a federal officer. I thought about having her interview George to see how he commonly spells his name. I wondered if he would just as soon be called Frank. I mean, the kid is two years old, did you expect him to have a W-2? Of course, I didn’t do any of that.
I peeked into the social security office across the street (after running across the street in the rain with two children). The wait was longer than my parking meter allowed. I went home.
Although I had already confirmed in the past that Ohio did not have any useful information about this process on line, I decided to research what other states would accept. I hit upon the Minnesota website, which gives detailed instructions. Minnesota does not accept a social security card as an additional form of id in this situation. Minnesota accepts baptismal certificates as an official document.
I didn’t call City Hall to ask. I went through my calendar and, based on my other tries, decided that the people who worked on Friday seemed the most efficient. Today, I found George’s baptismal certificate, made three copies, and went to City Hall.
Gladys hopped up the steps with both feet jingling all the way. The few people smoking outside the building smiled and waved.
The security guard softened as we approached, “Nice bells!”
“Yes, she is very festive, isn’t she?”
The people waiting in line at the birth certificate office thoroughly enjoyed my children’s dances.
“They are so precious,” one woman said to another. They clearly had never met. They both smiled.
The usually stale, cold, concrete building in downtown Cleveland took on an unusual jolliness. When my turn arrived, I explained the error on the certificate and handed her the documents one by one. A few minutes passed, until I heard the words of victory.
“How many copies will you need?”
We jingled happily out the door. Gladys hopped down the concrete steps with both feet, maximizing the jingle in the echoing hallway. The security guard, my fellow citizens, and the employees on break, all smiled and waved ‘goodbye,’ to our passing parade.
I stopped to take a few pictures outside of City Hall, because, as you may have noticed, I am now an official blogger because I take pictures of half-eaten ice cream sandwiches. I pleaded for George to stand by his sister, but he was terribly distracted by something behind me. He would NOT listen to me.
I turned around to see a Cleveland Fire Truck pulling away from the curb behind me, still waving at George.
Only in Cleveland.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This afternoon, with Indy on the way in less than an hour to drop off her eldest son to my care, I began making dinner and cleaning the house. We had just arrived home from Andrew’s piano lesson. He worked on his homework. I pounded out chicken breasts, breaded them, fried them, whipped up a spaghetti sauce from a can of tomatoes, boiled pasta, put away laundry, and coyly admonished Gladys and George for running around stopping on the floor to the rhythm of my meat pounding.
“Stop pounding on the floor! Right this instant!” Pound! Pound! Pound!
The house reverberated with the sounds and smells of a happy home.
The irrational behavior began when Indy left and I decided that at 5:15pm, the children should go ride their bikes instead of eating the dinner that I had so lovingly prepared. I put dinner in the warm oven, and went out with them.
I opened Henry’s tailgate and sat there reading my mail. I felt responsible. I would go through the mail and watch the kids – the queen of multitasking, and all that nonsense.
Then we heard a happy tune. The Siren’s song played in the distance.
The children went WILD. They raced off on their bikes towards the sound of the ice cream truck.
Ha! I did not have any money with me. The evil side of me laughed internally. I would survive this. My children would, indeed, eat a fine, homemade dinner, lovingly pounded, breaded, fried and warmed in the oven.
“Please, Mom?” There was a please. No one cried.
The ice cream truck stopped to serve the neighbor children at the corner of the cul-de-sac.
“Wow. That looks really good.”
“Yeah. I was really looking forward to ice cream.” No whining. No crying.
Then, the ice cream truck stopped to serve another child. My children followed the truck.
“My mom doesn’t have any money with her,” I heard Andrew explain to the person in the truck. He looked longingly at the selections.
Another child was served.
“Please, Mom?” No whining. No crying. They were still excited just to see the truck.
Neighbors with two children too small to appreciate the sound of the ice cream truck (until now) came hurrying out.
“Yeah, I’m the evil Mom,” I explained.
“You aren’t getting ice cream?” the neighbors looked at me like I was crazy.
“They haven’t had dinner yet.”
“We’ve only had it once before,” Indy’s son remarked flatly, no surprise in his voice.
I couldn’t take it. If they had screamed, I would have sent them all inside. If they had whined, I couldn’t possibly have bought any. I received no back-talk, no ridiculous demands. They were all smiling.
I told the ice cream vendor to meet us at the house with the white truck.
If you aren’t convinced my behavior was irrational, Indy’s son had leftovers. It is the truth. He said he was FULL. Wow. One of these days I will have to see just how much ice cream is required to make my children say they are “full.” I have never, ever, finished a cone for one of my children, even George.
Incidentally, they did end up eating a good dinner. I’m wondering if my remark to my husband about how I really shouldn’t have let them have it because it will ruin their dinner had any bearing. I’ll never know for sure, but maybe I’ll cling to that fantasy. It makes me feel more rational.
This is leftover ice cream. I had never seen it before. I had to take a picture.