Monday, May 30, 2011

Sometimes, kids force you to have fun

I had plans for today, and they weren't particularly festive ones.

We'd just returned from vacation, and there were three piles of laundry waiting their turn for the machine.

I had some online work to do, as well, and I glanced outside as I carried my coffee to the computer, noticing that the weekend of rain had turned my little garden into a bed of weeds. Today's sunny afternoon would be a great time to fix that.

But I didn't count on the pool. And the kids. Today was the first weekend our subdivision pool was open, and I hadn't realized that our kids had been counting down the days.

"Can we go? Can we go?" asked my daughter as soon as she woke up. My son soon joined the chant. I didn't want to. I really didn't. I knew it would be mobbed. And really, I was ... busy. But looking at their faces, I couldn't say no.

Lying on the deck chair, with the sun warming my face, I couldn't say I'd made a bad choice Sometimes, kids force you to have fun. And that's not always a bad thing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Little dog lifts spirits in a big way

In the morning, the elementary school is a very social place. After the moms and dads drop off their kids, they don't leave right away. With their coffee, their dogs and their toddlers in tow, they usually stop and chat for awhile.

They laugh, the kids play, and it's a very nice, relaxed atmosphere. Today it was even sweeter, because today I met Ashton.

I saw Ashton - a tiny, 13-week-old spaniel/poodle mix - as I was hurrying back to my car. He was sniffing about on the end of his leash, and he was adorable, as most puppies are. But what caught my eye was the red vest he was wearing. On one side it said "Service Dog." On the other side, it said, "Please Pet Me."

Well, I had to ask.

His owner told me she's started bringing him to the school to interact with the kids because it's part of his training to become very socialized, very at ease around children.

Ashton will have a very special job: He'll be visiting terminally ill children in hospitals. "The children love it when the dogs visit," Ashton's owner told me. "It's amazing."

I learned two things this morning:

1. You can meet wonderful people doing spirit-lifting things just about anywhere.
2. I should never leave the house without my camera

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vroom, Vroom! - May means racetime

May is here, and the celebration has begun. The decorations are up, the flags are hanging and the excitement is palpable.

It's racetime - and that's a big deal at the Majeske household. The Indianapolis 500 is just around the corner, and for the men in the household, big and little, the excitement is almost too much to bear.

Conversations revolve around Will Power and Dario Franchitti. There's analyses of who might win, who will do well, who will make the race and who won't. The boys huddle together, studying the up-and-coming drivers and debating who needs to hang up the helmet. Sorry, Mom. No girls allowed.

It used to be just my husband who was a fan of Indy racing. For years as a sports editor, he covered practice, qualifying and the 500, enjoying every minute of it. But now, as my son has grown, he's become a race fan as well. And now, at the tender age of 8, Sean will be going to his very first race. He already visited the track once this year - charming the drivers and getting more than a few autographs.

One of those autographs came courtesy of Paul Tracy, who didn't make last year's race. As Tracy bent down to sign an old program, Sean said, "Sorry you didn't make the race last year." Tracy's reply? "That's OK. We'll get them this year."

The big prize, however, was the autograph from Will Power, Sean's favorite driver. Thanks to Merrill Cain, a very nice representative of Penske Racing, who saw Sean adorned in a Will Power hat and a Will Power T-shirt, Sean had his new Hot Wheels car autographed by his hero.

It made Sean's day, month, year and probably decade. He said loved it so much, he'd take into heaven with him.

I've never truly understood the allure of the race. But I don't have to. Just watching these two is enough.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Heading to the amazing Mackinac Island

There was a line in the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" that Julia Roberts' character uttered in the midst of complete frustration. She said, "I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something."

For some reason, that line flew into my head this week and wouldn't leave. I was burned out. I was tired. I needed to be amazed by something.

Now, I won't be going to Italy, India and Bali - at least not soon. I don't see a one-year leave like Julia's coming up. And frankly, I'm thinking the kids would balk.

But over Memorial Day weekend, my daughter and I will head up north to visit Michigan's picturesque Mackinac Island. I just decided we needed to get away. The boys will be going to Indianapolis to see race cars that weekend. This will be our getaway.

No, we don't really have the time, and we don't really have the money, and the traffic will likely be bad. But you know what? We probably won't ever really have the time or the money, and the traffic will always be bad. Sometimes you have to just go.

I want to ride the ferry and walk down the old-fashioned main street and feel the wind in my hair at the beach. I want to smell the lilacs and see the boats and pig out on that world-renowned Mackinac Island fudge.

I want to be amazed. And I want my daughter to be amazed, too. No, it's not a world tour. But it doesn't have to be. I still can't wait.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"I love you more than Madden 11"

My little boy made a big card for me for Mother's Day. I might just have to frame it.


I love you more than Oreos.
I love you more than Angry Birds.
I love you more than DS.
I love you more than an ice cream sundae.
I love you more than Mario.
I love you more than the Chicago Bears.
I love you more than Madden 11.
I love you more than Super Smash Brothers Brawl.
I love you more than pretzels.
I love you more than pizza.
I love you more than the color blue.
I love you more than tae kwon do.
I love you more than football.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Love, Sean

Friday, May 6, 2011

Meet Mr. Whiskers, the bucket cat

Through sun and rain and sleet and worse, the bucket cat is on his perch. Okay, yes, I know that doesn't really rhyme, but trust me, nothing good rhymes with bucket, either.

Besides, that's not the point. The point is that in front of my porch I have a gigantic bucket. I didn't put it there; it was there when we moved in. I'm sure at one time it was filled with pretty flowers.

But for the last few years, it's been full of Mr. Whiskers. See, every time there's inclement weather - which we've seen a lot lately - the cat will whine to go outside. Except it's a ruse. He's not really going outside. He's just checking it all out from the safety of the bucket under the eaves.

The kids used to worry about the cat when he wanted to go outside and the weather looked iffy. When it started to rain or sleet, my son would say, "Mom, where's the cat?"

But now, I can just say, "Check the bucket!" and usually, all is well.

Giant bucket. Giant cat. Just thought I'd share.

P.S. I know the photo isn't the greatest, but Mr. Whiskers was annoyed at the intrusion and didn't care to pose. Sorry.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My comeuppance from ... Wal-Mart

For years I've made fun of Wal-Mart.

I couldn't help it. The crowded aisles, the merchandise, even that little bouncing smiley face in the commercials that leads you to the markdowns - I've just loathed it all.

I can't even give you a real reason why. After all, I'm not rich, and I'm certainly not proud. I mean, I shop at Target. I go to the Dollar Store. But there was just something about Wally World that set my teeth on edge.

But this weekend, when I really, really needed something, when NO OTHER stores were open (at the crack of dawn), who was there for me? Wal-mart. And when I found what I needed - a white shirt - and was so harried I left a separate bag of groceries at the register, who let me re-shop for them two days later without batting an eye? Yes. You guessed it.

Wal-Mart. Oh, the irony.

It was like my own little corporate comeuppance. If this had been an after-school special, I would be cast in the role of the bullying mom who finally sees the error of her ways and eventually apologizes to the crowded, overgrown ... oh, sorry ... I mean, misunderstood, corporate kid.

Sorry, Wal-Mart. You saved my butt. I won't forget that. For awhile, at least.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Communion day brings stress, joy

My son celebrated his First Communion today, and I couldn't be prouder. But I'll be honest. I hit a few snags in the planning. And I almost let the the big day get overshadowed by a lot of little things.

I realized at the last minute there was a problem with my son's shirt and had to drive to Wal-Mart on Sunday at dawn in a thunderstorm. Anyone who knows my feelings about rising at dawn, driving in thunderstorms or shopping for last-minute items will know the stormy weather outside paled in comparison to the mood in the car.

I bought the wrong size nylons, because I never wear nylons but my legs are so white it would have been just plain sinful to show them in church.

Right after Mass began, I realized my cell phone was still in my purse. It's a new phone and I barely know how to operate it. So I held a frantic, whispered dialogue with my daughter, sitting behind us, beseeching her to figure out how to quietly turn it off. She did. I remembered later that the entire Mass was being videotaped, so my stupidity will live on through the digital age.

Then, as I sat watching my son receive communion, I realized that everything above - everything I just wrote - didn't matter. Not one bit. Because that's not why we were there.

I listened to the choir sing "Here I am, Lord," one of my favorite hymns, and I held my little boy's hand, and I could feel my eyes fill up with tears, I was that happy.

He had received his First Communion. But I was the one who felt blessed.