Monday, September 28, 2009

My New Friend - A One Act Play by Morgan

Morgan: When we have free time today I’m going to find Macie and play with her. She is a little girl I met. Her name is Macie. I told you about her. She’s a fish.

Mommy: (silent for a while, wondering if Macie is a girl or a fish or a figment of the imagination) Do you mean Macie is in the Fish room? Like you’re a Butterfly?

Yes, Macie’s a fish. Do you want to know how I met her?

Mommy: Definitely.

Morgan: (in one breath) Some boys pushed her and then they were riding bikes and then she came over and asked if she could play with me and then I said yes and now we are friends and we’re going to play together again today.

Mommy: Well, that was nice of you to let her play with you. And that was a nice story to tell me, thank you.

In dedication to my best friends who:

Carried my tricycle to her driveway so I could ride bikes with her; let me borrow her Sweet Valley High and V.C. Andrews books; took me on my first roller coaster; rigged her Monte Carlo with a piece of 2-by-4 so I could reach the pedals and learn how to drive.

Walked into Mr. Burger’s fifth grade classroom with me, despite hating me in fourth grade; saved me a swing when ever she got out for recess before me in middle school; helped me develop Rules of the Midway; went to see Joey McIntyre with me when we were way too old to be doing such nonsense.

Wrote the first of many stories with me; didn’t mind that I came to her house to watch cable and read her TV Guide (“If you read the TV Guide, you don’t need a TV” – The Lost Boys); allowed me to leave and come back; always offers to help paint walls.

Border Patrol

I was going to work and I saw a Border Patrol van driving through Lakewood.

First of all…we have Border Patrol in Cleveland? In all my years, I have never seen such a thing.

I guess Lake Erie is technically a border, but I was pretty sure we weren’t worried about the Canadian’s swimming over. They usually aren’t itching to get in our country any more than we’re itching to get in theirs. And if they do get a yearning, I think we’re pretty tolerant.

So I am now to assume that the “undesirables” are first entering Canada and then planning on swimming Lake Erie. This assumption would have to imply that the Canadians are a little more lax in their efforts to keep potential “job-stealers” out. But I can vouch for the fact that they are not, since my co-worker and I were detained at the border while trying to get to an audit.

(It was his fault. I told him to just say we were attending a meeting, but he said it all suspiciously…and it was about 1 AM…and…we just shouldn’t have been traveling together.)

Second of all…do you need to ride around in a van? Shouldn’t they be in a boat patrolling the dotted line that goes through the middle of the lake on my map? Or better yet, couldn’t they just sit in a tower with binoculars, and check for people jumping in the water and be there to meet them when they step out?

The people at Cedar Point tell me that on a clear day you can see Canada from the top of the Magnum, so I’m going to have to say you could use binoculars just as easily.

And if you don’t need a van to catch the gate crashers…why would you drive around in one? Is it a perk of the job that you get a company car? Is it an advertising campaign?

And, for the sake of argument, you do need the van to catch them…why would you print Border Patrol across is in big letters? I would think an un-marked vehicle, might make the job easier.

But that’s just me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Laundry Chute

When you read this you are going to laugh. Rest assured it is NOT funny.

This morning started in the usual manner. Zoe’s persistent “mama…MAMA...MAMA…” chant raised me out of bed at 6 AM. Things went smoothly for the most part. Everyone was chipper and there was minimal whining from the older contingent, including me.

We were ready to go ahead of schedule. Well, not ahead of schedule, but ahead of when we usually make it out the door. It was easy…too easy.

Where are my car keys?

Incidentally, I only have one set, because the dealership couldn't find the other one when I bought the car and said they would order it for me. Two weeks later I called them, “Oh sorry, no one placed the order. I’ll do that today.” Two weeks later I called them, “Oh sorry, no one placed the order. I’ll do that today.” That is not a typo, it did happen twice. And there ended my love affair with Volkswagen, seeing as I still don't have them in my possession four years later.

I put the bags and the girls in the car before going back inside to make a sweep. I work backwards as my dad taught me to do when I lost Ross’s class ring in high school.

Hmmm...we came home from the library…I search the library bag, the diaper bag, the counters, the couches, the bathroom, the bedroom, and finally the meat drawer of the refrigerator (that’s where I found the class ring back in the day). Obviously, I must have put the keys in my pocket.

When I changed into pajamas last night, I threw my clothes down the laundry chute, which is in the bathroom on the second floor and goes all the way down to the basement. Isn’t that convenient?

I head downstairs. There is my shirt…my shorts are not there. Maybe I put them back in my closet, since I didn’t really get them dirty. Back upstairs. No, not in my closet, not in the bathroom. This leaves only one option…they are stuck in the laundry chute. I pick a dirty sock off the floor and toss it in to test, then head back to the basement. Sure enough…no sock.

Many expletives shouted.

Grab the mop, climb on the table in front of the shoot and stick the handle up. No contact. At this point I let the girls out of the car to play. I go upstairs, bang on the chute and shove the handle down. No contact. The shorts are on the first floor. Unreachable. I look for something heavy I can throw down in the hopes I can dislodge the clog.

I use Morgan’s metal piggy bank that is filled with all the change she steals out of our pockets. Don’t worry. There are plenty of clothes at the bottom of the chute to cushion the fall.

I hear it hit the bottom. Hurray! Back to the basement. The sock and a pair of Scott’s underwear have arrived, but no shorts. I look up the shoot. Definitely still something in there, but I can see light, so it is a fact that the shorts are snagged on the duct work. Still unreachable.

Many more expletives shouted.

If any of you have ever witnessed my road rage, you can multiply that by about 10, so it’s good that I had forgotten I was going to turn the AC off before I left and the windows are still closed.

Despite the AC being on, I am already sweating. My shirt has come un-tucked, and the laundry table is not so clean, so my black pants are not so black anymore.

I go back upstairs. My next bright idea is to send something down that will force the shorts to become un-snagged. Bath towel. I send it down, it stops halfway, but I am prepared with my make shift weight to throw down.

Unfortunately, the piggy bank doesn’t work this time. And I suddenly realize that if I have to dislodge the stuff from the basement, that bank is going to fall on my head. Not a shining moment in my life. More expletives. More sweat. More tears.

I’m ready to call Scott’s mom to see if she can come take the girls to daycare and I will work from home. Back in the basement, I use the mop handle again…wooosh, down comes the bank and the towel. No injuries, but no shorts. I look up and see them dangling.

I need something other than a broom handle. I need something with a hook. I need the damn thing from the info-mercial that looks like the alligator toy. You know the one where there is an alligator head on a stick and a little trigger at the bottom that works the alligator mouth and you go around and grab people’s butts with it. That’s what I F-ing need.

I do not have that.

I am able to fashion a hook and I can actually feel it hitting the material, but those F-ing shorts are not moving. It is like they are clinging for dear life to the F-ing ductwork. It’s probably my damn keys causing the problem. I hate keys. I hate cars. I hate having to leave for work.

Wait a second.

I was wearing jeans when I came back from the library, and then I changed into my shorts because it had gotten hot. I look around the floor. I pick up the jeans out of the pile and pull my keys out of the pocket.

This is NOT funny.

Laundry chute to be boarded up upon my arrival home this evening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's In a Name?

My first struggle with the blog was coming up with a name. How do you pull a name out of midair that symbolizes who you are and what you are about? Hmm...I got nothin'. So then I tried to think about what I would write about. brain is so full of random and tangent thoughts...there are not words to describe. So I asked Scott...but being it was midnight and he had just fallen asleep, nothing came to him right away.

The next day, I set out again. My first epiphany was that I always tend to relate everything to children's literature anyway, so why buck the trend? My whole 'never grow up' philosophy, and all. My usernames are usually from Peter Pan, I have a whole sociological hypothesis documented called the Hundred Acre Wood Theory (no joke), stray barn cats were always named after fairy tales or Greek mythology...and then there is Potter, of course.

So the idea was forming...but which to draw from? My go-to story of Peter Pan was off limits. Mostly because Michael Jackson ruined all use of the name Neverland for anyone else. But also because the Gemini in me rarely allows me to relate to one character in a story - the struggle between Wendy and Tink, Scarecrow and the Lion, Kanga and Piglet. But I'm always Alice.

Tangent 1 - This is different than the other game DAG plays: Angel or Spike (Spike), Ryan or Seth (Seth), Mr. Big or Aiden (Aiden), Edward or Jacob (Jacob), etc.

It was a little easier from there. The first name I tried was too close to someone elses, so I pulled out my Annotated Alice (yes, I have that - the definitive edition) and opened to the Table of Contents. I liked the idea of The Queen's Croquet Ground, but it sounded like I thought I was the Queen, so I threw that away. I kept coming back to my favorite part of the story - the mad tea party. (Incidently, I have never quite been able to convince Scott to dress as the Hatter for Halloween so I could be Alice. A little encouragement from the outside would be good.)

It was only a matter of seconds before the "clean cup" reference jumped out at me and my blog was born.'s so cute. No hidden meaning, just pure randomness, like the rest of me.

Here's where I digress...Tim Burton is making an Alice movie for Disney starring Johnny Depp, which in theory is a great idea, but I'm starting to get a little worried...

My first Alice was Disney's animated movie, which I love to this day despite many...liberties of artistic license. I didn't read the actual Carroll book until high school and I was hooked again. There have of course been many attempts at telling this story on screen, but most are lacking. I personnally love one that was made for TV in the 80's.

Tangent 2 - It was split over 2 days, and Ann Jillian was the Red Queen and Carol Channing was the White Queen and Ringo Starr was the Mock Turtle...and they did both Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass...I have never seen it anywhere again...perhaps a Google search is ready to happen.

Now I've been reading Alice to Morgan before bed. (She actually asks for it, but rarely remains awake until the end of the chapter, so I'm pretty she has no clue what's going on.) And it has not lost its splendor - for me anyway.

All the press I've seen about the upcoming movie seems to focus on the Red and White Queens, who aren't even in Wonderland, they're in the Looking Glass. Maybe they are jumbling it all up, which I could live with (though it shouldn't be called Alice In Wonderland). But my bigger fear is that the Red Queen looks suspiciously like The Queen of Hearts, which means they are combining characters and that is completely uncalled for. Do you hear me Tim Burton??? I don't care if she is your wife. She needs to pick one or the other.

In other news:

There is constant buzz that The Looking Glass Wars will be turned into a movie. I'll believe it when I see it, but wouldn't Gerard Butler from "300" be an awesome Hatter Maddigen (that question is for Denise...or Katie)?

The SciFi Channel (Why did they switch to SyFy? It just doesn't make sense. Was there a copyright issue?) will be premiering the series "Alice" in December. I'm so there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Washington DC - Day 3

Scott’s race wave goes off at 7:21 a.m.! He has me set the alarm for 4:00 a.m.! He calls me at 5:30 a.m. to read him something off an envelope - I may have read him the label on my shampoo. Wake up call is at 6:00 a.m.! (Yes, this is a vacation.) Morgan sleeps through all of this. For continental breakfast number two, she chooses only a sprinkled donut at first, but then she can’t take her eyes off my eggs, so she fills up. Always eat eggs when someone else is making them.

Thankfully, we are taking a taxi down to the race. As instructed by Scott, I tell our driver to get us as close to the Korean memorial as possible. He drops us off on the Vietnam side of the mall but closer to Washington than Lincoln. In other words, nowhere near Korea. Thanks, man.

We knew we missed their swim, so we set out to find a spot on the bike path. We managed to find a curb very close to where they would be dismounting their bikes, and were settled in by the time the first biker was coming in. I had no idea if we were going to be able to spot them. There were times when twenty bikes all came at the same time. We did, however, get to watch asinine people almost get run over as they crossed right in front of athletes traveling at speeds up to 35 mph, so that was fun.

I spotted Scott about 2 nano-seconds before he passed us, but he says he heard us cheer. Now all we had to do was wait for Phil. Michelle was fairly adamant that he would be behind Scott despite starting ahead of him. We continue to wait as Paige and Morgan wreak havoc on the snacks and Morgan wears out her whining privileges.

Finally, we decided there was no way it took Phil this long and we must have missed him, so we make our way to the finish line. I had estimated that we got there right about when Scott was going to cross. Turns out, I was probably right; because twenty minutes after we got there I had a call on my cell. Scott was finished, and had already retrieved his possessions from the transition area – including Phil. Turns out, Scott had caught up to Phil – almost at the exact place that we had been watching. So while we were yelling for Scott, we had totally missed Phil bike by at the same time.

So the purpose for our trip had come to an end, but I still hadn’t gotten Morgan to the Natural History museum. Since the guys had to wait before they could take their bikes out of transition, I decided that I would walk her there and then meet them at the hotel. L’ Enfante might be the biggest jack ass ever. How in the hell does it take so long to walk what looks like five blocks on my map? Okay, so maybe he wasn’t around anymore when they started erecting monuments and museums, but I need a scapegoat, and that goat has Frenchy’s name on it.

Guess what? Morgan doesn’t want to see dinosaurs. In fact, she barely got excited about the whale, but she did enjoy the large mammal exhibit and I was able to get my commemorative magnet for my fridge, so not a total loss. Just a long uphill battle back to the hotel and we are homeward bound.

Morals of this story:

If your child is between riding in a stroller and walking on their own for 20 miles, do not take them to DC.

If you disregard the first moral and take them anyway, choose the bulky all-terrain Jeep stroller with shock suspension instead of borrowing the light umbrella stroller that is three inches too short for you stand up straight while you push it and has wheels the size of Eggo waffles.

If there is a choice between using a roundabout or just having an intersection, choose the intersection. The world has enough statues and fountains.

Never under estimate how much joy a tunnel through a mountain can bring.

Washington DC - Day 2

Saturday morning and Morgan is further impressed by the continental breakfast. She gets scrambled eggs but passes on the sausage patty. Then we both pass on what I can only guess was some type of hash brown with ketchup mixed into it. I was not willing to investigate further. No matter…there are donuts with pink frosting, so we are good to go.

Since the Paige is a late sleeper (lucky bastards), and since Phil and Michelle got in the day before and already did a quick tour, we head out on our own to see what there is to see, before we get down to triathlon business.

Despite the mob scene of protesters near Pennsylvania Avenue and Morgan’s own protests against getting out of the stroller to take pictures – as evidenced by her happy expression in several photos – we manage to see the White House and the Washington Monument. And with only one wrong turn and a block of backtracking, we move towards the World War II Memorial.

Turns out, Morgan loves fountains. She is up and out of the stroller, setting up photo shoots. Thank God. Potential disaster number 3 averted. It’s going on 10:30 a.m. – a good hour and a half after we left the hotel, but a majority of that time was just getting down the hill. Now I can see the Lincoln Memorial. My goal destination is within my grasp.

Phil calls and they are going to take the Metro to the zoo. No problem, we will walk up to visit Abe and then head for the Metro ourselves. We can even take in the Korean War Memorial on the way. As I take pictures of the life-like statues, I turn to find a family of Japanese tourists taking pictures, as well. Except they are taking pictures of Morgan sitting in her stroller. WTF? They smile and nod their heads as they thank us (I think). Scott and I are wondering if the photos will show up on some anti-American site. “Look how lazy American kids are. They get pushed around in little buggies all day.” We will never know.

By the time we get to the steps of Lincoln a good forty minutes have passed. And another half hour to walk to the closest Metro (according to an information booth worker, but it just doesn’t seem right). Then another fifteen minutes to figure out how and what pass to buy, then there’s the ride and the walk to the zoo from the station. Just in time to meet our friends as they head back to the hotel.

Scott has to join them, because he and Phil need to get to the triathlon briefing and swim practice if they want to be allowed to race on Sunday. (Incidentally, their briefing is filled with West Pointers. How is that for intimidating competition?) However, Morgan has perked up again - perhaps because she sees potential in the large gift shop we have just passed. So we head out on our own. Three hours later (okay, maybe it only seemed like three) and we have seen just about everything. And of course a gift is purchased before we leave.

Morgan actually falls asleep the second we leave the zoo and I manage to get her on and off the Metro before I have to wake her because I can’t find an elevator. I anticipate rebellion, but there is none. Not even when I go the wrong way on Dupont Circle and have to cut back through the center (Damn that Frenchy). Potential disaster number 4 averted.

We have agreed to go back to the hotel and take a little rest, but of course housekeeping is currently in our room. Really? We were gone for six hours! What are the chances? We eventually make it in and Morgan zones out to some Cartoon Network (No Noggin! Yippee!) I tentatively ask her if she wants to go see the dinosaurs and a big whale in a museum. She is up for it.

Setting myself up for failure, I convince her to walk instead of ride in the stroller, to give my arms a rest. It’s only a little after four and the museums are open until 5:30. I decide we can run in to the American History museum and see the Ruby Slippers before checking out a larger portion of the Natural History museum.

Why does everything take five times as long as you think? We got her picture with Dorothy’s shoes and had to head back up the hill. Granted, at least fifteen minutes of that trip was spent debating the merits of purchasing a ruby slipper snow globe the size of a thimble and the manufacturing cost of a penny, being sold for $12. Mommy won, via compromise, but no meltdown, so considered a great success. Potential disaster number 5 averted.

In case you are wondering, it takes twice as long to walk up a hill than it does to walk down it. Daddy is in charge of the stroller for our walk to dinner. Morgan asks to go to sleep by eight and I’m in bed a little after nine. Right after I find out from my mother that the devil’s spawn is eating like a champion and wrapping everyone within a three-foot radius around her little finger.

Washington DC - Day 1

I’ve decided to start my blogging career with our trip with Washington DC for Scott to compete in The Nation’s Triathlon. We decided to take Morgan (4) with us. But as a result of a two-hour scream-fest driving home from Columbus this summer, we opted to leave our Zoe (1) with my parents.

This trip could have been the poster child for disaster – short time frame, traveling with a 4-year-old, said 4-year-old has a cold, potential for drowning in Potomac - and yet I have nothing of cataclysmic proportion to report.

Our trip starts off with a stop at the local deli for lunch, where Morgan asks if she can have the veggie tray with carrots, celery and broccoli. This is not my child. Then, when given the option of turkey, ham, or bologna sandwich, she chooses roast beef. Okay…and we’re off.

Roast beef sandwich finished, she asks for her veggies and is suddenly skeptical of the broccoli that she had only moments before been wildly asserting she loved. I make the mistake of saying “Looks good!” to which I am offered a piece to “try.” So I do. Yeah, still don’t like broccoli, but please give me props for not gagging, spitting it out into the glove compartment, and/or vomiting into my bag of chips. “Mmm.” Morgan takes one bite, also realizes it is nasty, and takes a swig of her chocolate milk. Still my child. She does finish the baby carrots, though. So maybe I won’t have to pump her too full of Flinstone vitamins in her youth.

Not only does Morgan not nap, she doesn’t even ask for a movie until we are an hour and a half out of DC. I can’t tell you what we did for the other four and a half hours to entertain her. She did remove just about every activity I had packed in her tote. And I vaguely remember some singing - her not me. Of course the Pennsylvania turnpike tunnel had her rapt attention for the entire sixty seconds it takes to complete. The only major problem was that I forgot her headphones, so she had to use my ear buds. Kids don’t like to stick things in their ears unless they are specifically told not to.

So we have entered the greater DC area and here’s where I see potential problem number two. The Mapquest directions indicate we will be proceeding to a “roundabout.” This will clearly add thirty minutes to our drive time. And though we did miss our “exit” on the first time around, we quickly compensate and only lose fifteen minutes – a decisive victory over the city planner (who I'm pretty sure was French so will hereafter be referred to as "Frenchy").

Since Morgan doesn’t remember the first vacation we took her on to Hilton Head at age 1, she considers this her first hotel stay. We have a small “suite” so here’s a quick run down on what impresses her: the appliances (“We can put things in the refrigerator! And here’s a dishwasher, so we can wash our dishes!”); the beds (“I have a bed and you and Daddy have a bed!”); the desk (“We can put Daddy’s computer here!”), etc. Now that we have had a complete inventory of the room contents, it’s time to settle in. Everything that was in her travel tote gets a spot on “her” bed.

And that is Day 1.

We stroll around town with our friends (Phil, Michelle and daughter Paige) to have a late dinner and are back in the hotel just a bit past primetime television. I get Morgan hooked up with a new movie and manage to watch the repeat of the Glee episode I missed on Wednesday. Bonus!

I call home to find out the devil’s spawn, AKA my darling Zoe, has been a complete angel for Nana and Papa – including standing in line with them for an hour at a funeral home. Of course she did.

I’m in bed a little after ten.