Saturday, November 28, 2009

Alaska Gathering

Here in Juneau Alaska, the sun rises at 8:17 am and sets at 3:15 pm this time of year. The difference in temperature between day and night is two degrees. It's raining a lot, snowing just a little.

There is a woman, born in Juneau 100 years ago, who is completely used to the short days in the winter and the very long days in the summer. She was born here before Alaska was a state. She raised six children here and sent them all to college, despite the fact her husband died when she was pregnant with her last child, and she has never even had a driver's license. She is my husband's grandmother.

Her birthday has drawn about 50 people to Juneau, all of them related to my husband. Many of us are in the same hotel. It's close to the airport. So close that when you get out of the shower you have a great view of the control tower and the people in it. So close that when we arrived, we just walked across the street and checked in.

Juneau is a popular stop in the summer for cruise ships and for people sightseeing and hiking or fishing. The only way to get here is by water or air. The road only goes so far. You can drive out to the end of the road, from one end to the other, in less than an hour. In the winter, many of the stores and restaurants are closed.

Dark, chilly, wet. Lots of cousins. Not really anywhere to go. I'd say couped up would describe it. We have the room above the office, which contains hardly-working persons who do not appreciate the fact that there are at least five people above them, walking, stomping, jumping, wrestling, and occaisionally tossing a baseball around. We've gotten a phone call asking us to quiet down. Um, didn't they place us in this room? Didn't they see we have three boys?

So we decided to use the conference room at the hotel for a game night. We invited all the relative over, and we gathered dominos, cards, a jigsaw puzzle, and a couple other games. We were ready to occupy tonight, when the ever-so-attentive staff (oh I'm sorry, do I work here? I'm watching TV!) told us OOPS someone just rented it out. So while a bunch of ladies are trying on lingere and learning the ins and outs of all kinds of different sex toys, my husband's relatives are piling up in the tiny lobby and we are trying to figure out where to put everyone. I had the idea of going across the street to the airport where there is lots of room to run around, but no one seemed to take my suggestion seriously. I could hand-signal the control tower staff and ask if it's OK.

I better go down and see what's going on. I want to be there if one of the relatives wanders into the conference room.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Broken Wrist 2.0

Broken wrist 1.0 was middle child careening down a ski slope on a mountain bike this last summer.

Broken wrist 2.0 was oldest child playing all-out basketball at school and falling down. Just today.

We got to the doctor's office, waited and waited, then got to the radiology department just after they no longer accept wet-read orders. Meaning they could xray it but could not read it right away and tell us if it was broken. Huh. Hmm.

Time was of the essence. We've got a holiday staring us down here people! We've got plans! We've got non-refundable tickets!

Not to give away any secrets of having friends who are doctors or orthopedists, but when you need to call in a favor, you do.

No cast, just a brace, thank goodness. And we owe someone a couple bottles of really nice wine.

Boys, Baseball, Train and Bad Coffee

I brought my laptop but never even got a chance to open it up.

Between eating ridiculously large pancakes, trying to sleep with a train going by all night long blaring it's horn, four baseball games, and driving 760 miles, all in two days, there just wasn't time.

It was a lot of fun though. Fun games to watch, great parents to hang out with, it was a good road trip. I am becoming a real baseball fan. I'm scaring myself.

I'm not a fan, however, of the pervasive culture of crappy junk food that permeates baseball. If they had anything decent or healthy to eat at the baseball park, I wouldn't mind not being able to bring my own snacks and drinks. It wouldn't be so painful to pay exorbitant prices to eat there. But it is nasty nasty crap. The coffee cost more than Starbucks, there was no cream, only non-dairy creamer, and each time I took a sip I involuntarily winced it was so bad.

On the other hand, you can buy a beer, which is perfectly good because they don't make it there, and sit and watch your son play baseball. I personally would prefer a glass of wine, but I shudder at the thought of what selection they would offer.

OK, I'm a bit of a food snob. I admit it. But my son didn't want to eat anything there either. Why does it seem that so many baseball people have no taste buds?

I'm thinking that I'm going to invent an illness for my son, like gluten and free-radicals intolerance, so we can bring our own food into these places.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Off again!

I am off again.

Off to a U11 Baseball tournament in Riverside California. That's right, a weekend road trip with my son.

This time I am leaving my husband with instructions to put ointment in the dog's eye twice a day and to leach the ground-up acorns in the refrigerator once a day.

In exchange I am leaving him with a freshly roasted turkey breast and homemade cranberry sauce. I'm not sure if he will see this as a good trade or not.

I look forward to posting over the weekend about being immersed in this very testosterone-infused weekend. Should be fun!

Note to my husband: Don't eat the acorn stuff. It's not ready until Monday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We Saw 13

We took our boys to see the musical Thirteen tonight. It was put on by our local Children's Musical Theater, CMTSJ. There were about ten kids from our school in the production. I really enjoyed the show, both the story and watching children I know singing and dancing on stage.

For the first few minutes of the show, I almost had a heart attack though.

We were sitting rather far away and I mistook one of the lead girls for one of my son's friends. A friend of my eleven year old son, with whom he has been exchanging enough texts to fill a monosyllabic novel, or alternatively, makes us very very glad we got the unlimited plan. I'm not sure they talk to each other at school though. But they are masters of the three word question and answer exchange. I digress. Anyhow, I was having heart palpitations watching this girl on stage singing and poised and, well, kind of sexy and grown up-looking, tossing her hair and hips around and looking just like a teenager. I thought, my god, this cannot be the girl my ELEVEN year old son texts constantly! I am not ready for this! My husband was having a similar reaction. We clutched at each other, rather panicked. Then we realized that it really was a teenager and not the 6th grader we thought it was. Big sigh of relief.

My youngest son was literally at the edge of his seat for the whole show. His favorite line from the show was, "We all have a little more homework to do." He said that is one of the truest lines he has ever heard.

Toward the end of the show the actors and actresses say what they did on their thirteenth birthday. There were various things, then one girl says, "I signed a virginity pledge!" There was a rather long silence, when my nine year old turned to me and asked, "A WHAT?" in his not so quiet voice. Getting no immediate response from me, he thought I didn't hear. "A WHAT? SHE DID WHAT? WHAT DID SHE SAY?" Trust me, I heard him and so did everyone sitting within three or four rows. While my husband cracked up beside me, we shushed him and watched the rest of the show. I know that was a temporary reprieve and he will bring it up again soon. Like when we are standing in line at Starbucks or at the grocery store. Or hanging out with his younger cousins at the Thanksgiving table. "Hey mom, what is a virginity pledge anyway?"

After the show, we stood outside and congratulated the friends in the show. The aforementioned friend who is a girl (but not a girlfriend) was there, and my middle son awkwardly mumbled something to her, trying to look at her while trying not to look at her and not sure what to do with his body that was telling him to run away and stay put at the same time. Well, at least I know he will tell her "great job" in a text. Yes, we all have a little more homework to do.

Find more videos like this on 13 The Musical Fansite

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm Back!

I am back from my trip.

I had a great time. I am relaxed. I am tan, but not too tan. I have done a cranial flush and have forgotten when basketball practices are and that I was supposed to be in science class today helping to grind acorns. I feasted on Hawaiian fish and indulged in fruity drinks with umbrellas, some very weak and one very strong. I picked kohlrabi on the side of a volcano. I spent more time in the hot tub than is recommended on the sign nearby. I visited my favorite kooky coffee place, Java Jazz, and was happy to see the depraved Barbie-themed decorations are still there. I saw tattoos that were not right, and I talked to honeymooners still in shock that they just got married. I got briefly trapped in the back room of the Peter Max gallery in Lahaina with a saleswoman who enjoyed using the dimmer switch way too much. I watched every sunset and none of the sunrises.

And I came back to . . . three boys and a husband who were very glad to see me. Nothing suffered while I was away, everyone did just fine. But each boy found a moment to tell me it was nice to have me back, and I know they meant it because there was a little extra squeeze in the hug. Everyone appreciated me just a bit more. And I appreciate them just a bit more.

So I think I should go to Hawaii a little more often.

Halloween 2009

Click here to view these pictures larger

Elvis on a bad hair day, a hippie, and a referee! This is a very clunky way of putting a photo here of Halloween but I was a dumbshit and forgot my own camera, so this is what I get. I have to share this photo because I'm not sure how much longer all the boys will be dressing up. The older two were less interested in Halloween this year. I'm not sure what it is, too much effort?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Twinge of Guilt

I have a twinge of guilt.

I am off for a tropical paradise, leaving my husband to manage the boys.

I'm not saying he can't do it. Not at all.

It's just that usually it takes BOTH of us to get everyone where they need to be. We have a change over of sports this week too. Flag football has ended and basketball, both NJB and school teams, are starting practice.

What I'm Getting Out Of, By the Numbers

6: Days I will be gone
14: Number of basketball practices
3: Number of soccer practices
1: Number of baseball practices
1: Number of soccer games
2: Number of baseball games
10: Trips back and forth to school in the car
6: Dinners I will not be cooking
8: Number of times the dishwasher will need to be unloaded
0: Number of "people" my family has working for us to help with all of the above jobs
500: Number of times I will not be asking someone to stop bouncing a ball in the house
15: Number of times I will not be yelling at someone to go to bed
0: Days that I will wake up at 6:30 am

Oh god, now that I look at this list I hope that my husband will not read this. At least not until my flight leaves. Maybe I have more than just a twinge of guilt. As a mom there is just no getting around it, the guilt is always there when we shirk our duties to do something for ourselves. It shouldn't stop us from taking a break once in a while.

So I am going to do my best to not feel the guilt, have a great time, and come back to a very appreciative family with a rested and tan smile on my face.

Not too tan, or I'll feel too guilty next time I see my dermatologist. Oh there it is again. Stop it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kale Chips

This is not a cooking blog, but I must share this snack that has become a recent favorite in my house.

Who doesn't need an easy, quick way to get your kids to eat kale?

Kale Chips
recipe from Bon Appetit

1 bunch Tuscan kale leaves (also known as lacinato kale in my area), rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil (I use garlic-scented olive oil)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 250°F. Toss kale with oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

I have made these several times lately. My boys scarf down two bunches of kale made into these chips as an appetizer. I recently brought them to a cocktail party. They are vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and almost fat-free, pleasing just about everyone. If you have a three year old, you might want to rename this recipe Green Potato Chips, as one faithful reader of this blog did the other night. I hate to tell people how easy they are to make but I've had too many ask for the recipe so the secret's out.

Let me know how you like these.


I am drowning in the deep waters of sports. I'm blaming my lack of ability to update this blog on that at the moment.

Select soccer, tournament baseball, flag football (two teams), competitive tether ball (ok that one's only during recess), basketball practices (five different teams, don't ask), lacrosse clinic, timed-mile running in PE, football games on TV, World Series games on TV which seem to justify staying up late to watch or at least listen to the games. And mom, I might want to try out volleyball. Sports Illustrated magazines everywhere.


And that's not all, it's the endless discussion that we must have about each of the above, the review of each play, the analysis of each game or practice, the details of each point scored or lost, what each player was doing and what they could have done better.

I feel like I am living each day in preparation for the sports; the laundry, the food, the trips to the gas station. The shoes, the balls, the constant organizing of the right equipment in the right place. My car and my husband's car both smell like locker rooms.

Yes, I am drowning. But my boys are quite happily swimming around in this sea of sports. Not literally, thank god. That is one sport we are not participating in at the moment. Shutter. Those weekend-consuming swim meets are a no go.

So while some parents might think we are nuts, and I wouldn't disagree, what I CAN tell you is my boys are healthy, they are having fun, and they are NOT out at the local elementary school on weekends experimenting with Malatov cocktails. Which some 13 year olds in my town are doing. They are NOT taking marijuana with them to the school fair. Which some 13 year olds in my town are doing. And they are not sulking and sitting around playing violent video games. They don't have time for any of that shit!

Oh thank goodness, a life preserver has been thrown to me. A trip with a girlfriend. And no sports for a few days. It just might save my sanity.

Here is a little test for you. How many pieces of equipment are shown in this picture? (Answer: 13) How many pieces of equipment are necessary but not shown here? (Answer: 5) Can you name them all? Can you organize them all? Can you clean them all? Can you find them all when no one else can?