Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm not a gardener - I'm a virtual gardener

I love a beautiful garden. I love flowers, trees and butterflies. But I am coming to terms with the fact I might be a virtual gardener.

It pains me to admit it. But I think that when it comes down to it, I only like the idea of gardening. See, even though I've been really, really trying, I'm finding I'm not wild about being out there in the great outdoors. You know, with the bugs and the dirt and the worms and the, well, garden.

I have a picture window right outside my living room. When we moved into this house, there was a bare patch of land with a giant mound of dirt right next to it - it was very strange. My brother came over with his tiller and dug through it for me. I was a little nervous, wondering if I was going to unearth some unauthorized gravesite. But nope - it was just a whole lotta dirt. My neighbor later told me the former owners had big plans, but then were sidelined with back injuries. So here I had a little patch of shady land - right outside this oversized window - just waiting for me.

I'v been a dismal failure to this point. I'd show a picture, but I'm too ashamed. It's all weeds. Oh, maybe a wildflower or two, but mostly icky weeds, just smugly staring at me.

Today, for sure, absolutely. I'm weeding. But that doesn't mean I'm liking it. And that one big, smug weed is the first to go.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tae kwon do brings out daughter's potential

Near the beginning of the school year, I enrolled my daughter in tae kwon do. I didn't know that much about it, but I'd heard it was good for kids' self-esteem.

She was starting middle school, and I could see the transition was rough.

I didn't particularly care if she excelled at martial arts. I just wanted her to have fun. But when I learned the translation of tae kwon do was "the art of kicking and punching" I thought twice about the whole idea.

Now, seven months later, she loves it. And she is great. My little princess is preparing to break her first board. In fact, her instructor has invited her to join his STORM Team. STORM is an acronym, standing for Super Team Of Role Models. She'll assist in teaching classes of lower belts, as well as the Little Dragons (kindergartners and below). It's the first step on the road to becoming a junior instructor, should she so choose, he told her.

She's nervous and excited. So am I. Sometimes, all the potential is right there. It's just that someone has to break a board over your head so you can see it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sick of pasta? Time to create that cookbook

Spaghetti. Pork chops. Chicken. Pizza. Tacos. Salad. And more spaghetti. I'm in a dinnertime rut. So I have a new goal. This weekend, while laundry sits and writing projects languish, I'll be clipping and snipping through years of cooking magazines, creating my own cookbook.

I've had it organized in my head for months: Salads, appetizers, main courses (maybe divvied up if I'm truly inspired) side dishes, family favorites, and then my favorite - desserts. But right now, all I have are mountains of magazines and a memory that's increasingly unreliable.

Yes, yes, I know. It should be high-tech. It should be scanned, it should be stored, it should be filed on my computer. Stop - I'm getting tired already. Right now, I just want ideas in my head and magazines off my shelf. We'll worry about getting all fancy later.

Seriously - I'm not sure I can look at one more bowl of spaghetti.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Separate schools don't untie sibling bond

I can't believe it's the last week of school. I know I'll sound 100 years old, but I have to say it: "Where did the time go??"

I still remember that first day - my daughter at middle school, my son still at elementary. And I remember my heartache: This was the first year they would be split up. I was afraid it would ruin everything - that they wouldn't be close anymore.

And now the school year's over. So many things have changed. But one thing didn't. My kids are still practically joined at the hip. Sure, they have their own friends now. But that hasn't lessened their time together a bit.

They watch cartoons together in the mornings on the weekends. They watch movies together at night. They take tae kwon do classes together and practice their moves (carefully!) in the basement. And now they play this new Beyblades spinning/battling tops game; I can hear their gales of laughter from upstairs.

Separate schools can't untie a sibling bond. Love isn't ruled by proximity.

If only I'd realized that back in September.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Son's bike riding means workouts for mom

I have a new exercise regimen - bike riding. But it's not what you think. See, I'm not riding the bike - my son is. I'm just running behind it.

Adding to the cardiovascular workout is the fact I have to constantly shout, "Careful!" and "Don't go too fast!!"

My son has mastered his two-wheeler. He had tried for awhile, become frustrated, then tried again. And now he's got it. He figured out how to balance the thing, and now he rides it everywhere. He's not quite a steering pro yet, so there are some iffy moments, but that'll come with time, I'm sure.

In the meantime, he couldn't wait to ride his bike to school. For months - this year and last - he'd watched those other kids zoom by, seemingly effortlessly, and I could see the longing in his eyes. Now it's his turn. He's incredibly excited.

But he wants me to come with him. Now, I could grab a bike, and we could ride together, but the sidewalks are narrow and the ride isn't that long, so I've chosen to puff along behind. I manage to keep up if I walk briskly and occasionally do the effective, if dorky, racewalk.

By the time I get home to get ready for work, though, I'm pretty much a sweaty mess. Oh, well. I'm just glad it's not a motorcycle.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

With one taste, a new fudge fan is born

A mother and daughter often bond over the simplest things - like an inside joke or a silly song. OR the amazing taste of Mackinac Island fudge.

But first, a quick note: Before leaving for the island for our mom-daughter vacation last week, I decided to buy a little flip videocamera. Now, I'm not particularly techie, and I did have a vision of dropping the camera over the side of the boat, but I tried to put all that out of my head. Instead, I just thought positive, and maintained a fanatical death grip on the device at all times.

And I loved it. I whipped out that little camera at every opportunity. Which is how I ended up filming Katie - much to her chagrin - experiencing the deliciousness that is island fudge for the first time.

She turned out to be a pretty good sport.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rescuing Cousin Christine's beach ball

My daughter looked distracted and troubled. She was gathering up her books for school, but I could tell her mind wasn't on the task at hand.

"When we came back from the pool yesterday, you brought the beach ball, right?" she asked suddenly, looking concerned.

"No," I said. "Sorry. I thought you had it. I guess we'll have to get a new one."

Big deal, right? It's just a beach ball. But my daughter's face fell. "But ... that's the ball Christine gave us," she whispered.

Oh dear. Christine. Cousin Christine. Cool cousin Christine. Cool cousin Christine who used to be my perfect summer nanny. Cousin Christine who is pretty, fun and always energetic - the antithesis of mom. She buys Slurpees, plays fun games, thinks of great places to go, and occasionally leaves behind treasured presents, like beach balls.

Christine was at college now, opting to go back to school despite my pleas for her to stay home and watch my kids. But my kids still treasure her gifts. If I would let them, they'd still have the gingerbread houses she built with them over Thanksgiving. This was serious.

"I'll go look for it," I told my daughter. "Maybe it will still be there."

But I didn't hold out much hope. That pool had been jam-packed. Our treasured Christine beach ball was now likely in some lucky kid's garage. But I trekked over after my daughter's bus left, just the same. The pool was closed and deserted, of course. And no ball in sight. But there was an older man sweeping up. I asked him if, by chance, he'd seen a beach ball lying around.

He asked me to describe it. I did. Then he unlocked the office door and gave it to me. I have to say I was absolutely astounded. All day. All those kids. And no one took it. Somebody turned it in. Amazing.

I smiled all the way home.