Friday, May 2, 2014

Salad Bar

I'm sharing this story because of a conversation I had on Facebook last night.  The topic was Promposals (not gonna google how to spell that word because it's a ridiculous word that I shouldn't have to worry about spelling correctly) and how over the top the once simple tradition of asking someone to the prom has become.  Listen, I was an average high school kid with an average high school life (read completely insecure with everything about myself) who was just hoping as the spring season of my junior year rolled around that I would get to go to the prom.  I just wanted to go.  And guess what, I did.  And I'm pretty sure it was fun - the going.  The pictures show lots of smiling kids (babies, really - oy, we were so young).  The same was true for my senior prom.  I wanted someone to ask me so that I could go.  Someone asked.  I said yes.  We prommed (yes, I made up that word, but someone made up the word promposal - so, whatever).  And that was the prom.  Two nights out my high school career that did not suck.  At all.  It was fun.

Disclaimer: The fact that no date is pictured should not be taken as a sign that I did not have a date to either prom.  I did,  I just don't feel like I should share other people's prom photos without their express written permission and I've got about 10 minutes to hit publish here so I'm kind of working on a deadline.  
Prom 1988 and Prom 1989.
I look like the cast from Wicked.

So, prom - who really cares right?  Right.  But I shared the above because in the discussion of the ridiculousness of the promposal, I mentioned that Joel proposed to me [PROPOSED] over lunch at the Ruby Tuesday's salad bar.  I was wearing umbros and a t-shirt.  There are no pictures because nobody walked around with cameras in 1995 taking endless photographs of their shoes or their lunch or their engagements (why yes, I do photograph everything now but it's with my phone and not with a camera and I may or may not have a serious problem - I digress #6845photosonmyphone).  I couldn't even tell you the date he proposed.  I think it was in August (because he used the money he'd made clerking in Clarksville all summer to buy my ring) and I'm pretty sure it was on a Saturday.  He asked me to marry him.  I said yes.  We finished our lunch, walked around the mall feeling all engaged and special for a while then I went home and called everyone I knew (#landline).   It's our story.  And I love it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Tale of Two Seasons

I'm writing this today [now] before the universe realizes that my son's school soccer team is winning games and decides it needs to set things right in the world of parochial league athletics and smack a big ol' loss down on top of their heads. Brief back story - Owen spent the last two winters playing basketball for his school, and in those two seasons the teams he played on won a total of 2 games.  And no, I didn't leave off a zero. Two games - one in each season.  And it was more than just losing so many games, it was the fact that many of them were lost in a crushing and humiliating manner.   Crushing and humiliating. Both at once.  To add to the good times that were parochial league basketball, Joel coached one of those seasons. It's not much of an over-exaggeration when I tell you that parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even friends and neighbors of players all crossed the court at the end of one game or another to give Joel and his co-coach feedback on their coaching abilities. If you want to see people's frustrated true colors, coach a team of kids through a losing season of basketball.*  And so it was that basketball provided us with an abundance of character building life lessons about losing - with grace.  Yes, losing with grace (I always forget that part). Also, lesson learned.

But now we are in soccer season, and because we're playing in the same parochial school league we find ourselves facing off against those same schools who beat us so resoundingly during the dark days of basketball (our sport season of discontent, if you will).  The biggest difference between soccer season and basketball season is that we are winning game[s].  Winning!!  The school we played yesterday (and beat by a score of 9-0)  is one that fields a notorious "no mercy" basketball team, so it was more than a little satisfying when Joel told me that towards the end of the game their coach was voicing his dissatisfaction in what he saw as an attempt by our team to run up the score, which Joel and his co-coach were most certainly trying  not to do (sincerely, they don't coach that way).  At the end of the game, as I watched the parents from the other school fold up their chairs and gather up their belongings, I so wanted to yell across the field at them "That was for basketball!" - but I didn't. Instead, I walked to my car and drove the short distance home feeling like a bit of parochial league prairie justice had just been served.  And for the record, I understand that it's not supposed to be about whether you win or lose, the focus is supposed to be on how you play the game, but if you play the game and you win, well that's waaay better than playing the game and losing. Trust me, I've spent enough time on both sides of the scoreboard to know.


*That air of bitterness you may be detecting is all mine by the way, not Joel's.  He's a lighter happier soul who moves more freely in the world , unfettered (as I am) with memories of the [perceived] wrongs that I have carefully catalogued ponder from time to time.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Big Dreams

My Babies
Christmas 2013

  I'm copying photos [again] from one hard drive to another and scrolling through the thousands of images I've snapped of the kids since our family went digital in December 2003.  What this means for Owen (who was born in 2001) is that his early adorable years are locked away in photo albums and archive boxes and perusing them requires pulling books off shelves and boxes out of basements.  Rest assured, his baby days are appropriately archived (and he is the only one of my two children with a finished baby book) but they are not [as] easily accessible as Sarah's.  Honestly, I'm giving both of them enough material / evidence to effectively argue that they are not their mother's favorite - a la "you have more pictures" versus "you have a finished baby book".  All's fair in love and siblings, right?

January 14, 2006
The Very First Gymnastics Class
Green Hills YMCA

     I can say  without reservation that the best part of having access to thousands upon thousands of digital images of my children's childhoods is that I can pull up photos month by month and watch them grow all over again, skipping over the messy tantrum-y parts (which I photographed too), and focusing on the many firsts and middles and lasts of their young lives.  Take those two photos hanging out up above this paragraph for example, both snapped eight years ago today at Sarah' very first gymnastics class at the Green Hills YMCA. She was 23 months old and, as I've written about before, she took to gymnastics like a duck to water.

That picture over there on the left is from Sarah's Kindergarten graduation.  It's a tradition at SBA for each graduating kindergartner to receive their diploma then stop at the microphone before returning to their seat and announce what it is they hope to be when they grow up.  This photo captures the moment when Sarah said  "When I grow up, I  want to be a gymnast." At just six and barely tall enough to reach the very short microphone,  it was cute - especially considering her brother had said he wanted to be a ninja at his graduation three years earlier (and yes, many other children said they wanted to be things like a doctor or a teacher or a banker - we grow free thinkers here at Team Vallejo).  In the intervening years, Owen has moved on from his dream of being a ninja, but Sarah spends hours upon hours every week working hard at being a gymnast.  She says she wants to compete in college someday then move to Paris and become a successful artist with an emphasis on successful because Paris is expensive and you can't live there with no money.  I tell her she can do anything she sets her mind to, including college gymnastics and moving to Paris and supporting herself, as long as she makes good grades in school. She's heard me say dozens of times "Who gets into the college of their choice?  Kids with good grades get into the college of their choice.  Go read a book." Do I think she's going to be a college gymnast or pack her bags and move to Paris?  Honestly, I have no idea. I also know that it really doesn't matter what I think because these are her dreams, not mine. What I do know is that I am blessed beyond measure every single day to be on this journey with her and her brother.  These kids of mine are pretty terrific.   And since today's writing turned out to be more about his sister than about him, Owen can add this to the pile of evidence labeled "I know my sister was my mom's favorite."  

Owen at 2.  Those long eye lashes still make me melt.

And this face, it's a marvel that he wasn't spoiled rotten.
Oh, wait. I think he was.  
First child and first grandchild on both sides of the family,
it's amazing he ever learned to do anything by himself.

Sarah with Georgia flags, Fall 2013.
Go Georgia Gym Dogs.

Digital photos make cute movies.
I love living in a world with cameras.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 1944, Battle of the Bulge

My grandfather, LJ Hurst, and my mother, Norma Jean

My grandfather recorded his journey from the United States
to France and Belgium in November and December 1944,
his brief stay on the front lines and his evacuation
and subsequent hospitalization in Paris and England
in January and February of 1945.

[written on the back of photograph]
Left home Wednesday, November 14
arrived at Ft. Meade Thursday, November 15
Left Ft. Meade Tuesday, November 21
arrived at Camp Shanks Tuesday, November 21
Left Camp Shanks Friday, November 24
got on boat Saturday, November 25
Landed at Marseille, France on Friday, December 8
2 days near Marseille
got on train, 3 days
stopped at Toul near Nancy on Wednesday, December 13
Still at Toul now Sunday, December 17
Left Toul December 21 and arrived at St.==
December 21 left St. ==
December 22 arrived at ==
December 22 left ==
December 23 arrived at Metz
Today is December 25, Xmas Day
Just inside Germany, December 25
Left Metz December 26 arrived in Belgium December 26
at unknown town in Belgium December 26

[recorded in small black notebook]
Stayed in this town till December 28
Went to front lines December 28
Stayed at spot we first landed for three days
Beat of three counter attacks then left to take a small town
Sat on Hill overlooking town and dug in this way January 1
I had dug hole and laid down and fell off to sleep when I was hit
Was then cut off by enemy
Had to stay in foxhole for 2 days
Got moved out third night
Carried about a mile on stretcher where I was loaded on Jeep
and taken about 2 miles to ambulance
Then was taken to aid station
Taken from there to another station
then was taken to field hospital where I was operated on and sewed up
Stayed there 4 or 5 days then moved to 203 General Hospital outside of Paris
Left this hospital January 21 
was taken across Paris to airport
was loaded in C-47 airplane
Landed in England at some unknown spot
Stayed in hospital there one night
the put on train at 10 0'clock January 22
Was on train 10 hours
Landed at 83 General Hospital where I'm still, February 3rd


Hitler's "Great Blow" 
Hitler then launched a plan called the "Great Blow" on January 1st. His goal was to eliminate Allied air power. German fighter planes swarmed over Belgium, Holland, and northern France bombarding airfields. Many Allied aircraft and bases were laid to ruin from the attack but the price paid by the Germans was devastating. The German Luftwaffe lost 300 planes and 253 trained pilots.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Have Blog, Will Travel

Written over many days in many places because I can!!  

The State of Things
I'm sitting at gymnastics.  Again - or still, maybe.  We spend hours here, SG and I.  One of us working, one of us watching.  To be fair, I also spend many hours not here. For my own sanity I've learned that it's better to just walk out of this building.  Also, there are afternoons where this place smells like feet, which isn't pleasant.  So it is that in the last few months I have become something of a coffee shop groupie.  My current favorite is the Starbucks inside the Barnes and Noble bookstore.  All the books make it feel like a library but the Starbucks makes it feel like a Starbucks.  They also have very clean bathrooms - something of a necessity when you're whiling away your hours drinking coffee.  The other perk to the B&N Starbucks is that I can travel from the gym to the coffee shop and back to the gym and only make right turns.  Right turns are good. Left turns are bad. Welcome to my world.

He Who Cannot Be Named
I don't write about my job, mainly because people who write about their jobs often find themselves looking for new jobs.  I fear unemployment like someone who's lived through it.  I love being employed and all the benefits that go along with it like a paycheck and health insurance.  But back to the point of this paragraph and my job that cannot be named. For the sake of argument, let's say I spend my working days making widgets.  Let's also say, just for the sake of argument, that I know without a doubt that I make top notch grade A quality widgets - what I sometimes stumble over is making quality widgets quickly.  I am something of a widget ruminator which means I have a hard time letting my widget work products go at the end of a project.  I struggle with endings.  That's not just at the widget factory by the way, I struggle with endings everywhere.

Courage, Please
I participated in one of those Facebook lists last week and I wrote that if I could visit the Wizard of Oz the thing I would I ask for is courage.  Contemplating big changes is tough (for me).  Making big changes?  Oh good grief, who makes big changes!?!?  So there it is. Courage, please.

Sanity Saver
This computer that I'm typing on was a gift from my husband.  There are some people who know the two of us, Joel and I, and are under the impression that I'm the one who puts up with Joel. Truth be told, he puts up with me.  All the time.  I am my own particular brand of difficult - an only child who's willfully stubborn and determined sometimes to cut off my own nose to spite my face.  Interestingly (or not),  that little saying was something my father said to me thousands of times (I'm guess-timating) during my childhood and for years and years I thought he was saying "to cut of your nose despite your face."  Back to Joel, he is patience personified.

Video Killed the Radio Star
I'm sitting at my favorite lunch spot and this song just came on.  It's a good place to end, especially considering I'm sharing (again) the video below.  There is a typo in the video, but I'm loathe to go back and correct it.  Where it says "She hit everyone in warm-up" it should say "She hit every one in warm-up."  We aren't hitters in our family.  Unless Vandy beats UT for the 2nd year in a row.  I might hit you if you rub it in.  I'm childish like that.  Seriously.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Still in the Closet

My 20th College Reunion is this weekend.  As of this moment I'm planning to attend.  I'm not my best self (and by "best self" I mean "not skinny") but in the spirit of embracing life and meeting challenges head on, I'm encouraging myself to just go with it - whatever "it" is.  In preparation for this momentous event,  I may (or may not) have done the following things in the last week.

  • Googled "Make-up tips to make you look 10 years younger."  Realized that still makes me look "32".  Sigh.
  • Decided not to buy anything new because I have lots of clothes hanging in my closet.
  • Spent an hour in my closet. Confirmed I have nothing to wear.
  • Took a trip to the mall.  Tried on "skinny jeans".  Tried on not so skinny jeans. Tried on skirts.
  • Asked salesperson to show me their selection of slimming shoes.
  • Returned home determined to wear something I already have.
  • Found two pairs of college era jeans in the "never gettin' into these again" section of my closet. Felt wave of nostalgia for all things button-fly.
  • Googled "dress up your yoga pants."
  • Returned to my closet and realized I have approximately eleventy-million black sweater/dark jean outfit possibilities. Decide I hate every single black sweater I own.  Don't get me started on the jeans. Or the use of the word outfit. 
  • Returned to mall in search of the perfect little black sweater. Purchased pink sweater - not for the reunion but because it was cute and on sale. 
  • Googled "slimming scarves."
  • Pondered whether or not November 1st is too late (really) to wear my favorite black linen skirt,
  • Googled "slimming pearls."
  • Returned to mall (again), determined to find "the perfect outfit." Fail.  
  • Bought expensive "volumizing" shampoo - because BIG HAIR could be slimming.
  • Hav[ing] an allergic reaction to expensive shampoo.  Hair has volume but I have hives. 
  • Taking Benadryl.
  • Remind myself I'm going to this reunion to see people, not to be seen. Laugh out loud.
  • Remind myself I'm going to this reunion to see people, not to be seen. Try to believe it.
Now, what I am going to wear.  Sigh.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ponchos Save Family from Fashion Crime

A Post in Many Parts

Part The First - Fashion Victims Identified
     Sarah has a thriving in-house newspaper that she publishes on a somewhat regular basis.  She always has a page or two of news stories, followed by several pages of what I like to call "do it yourself journalism". There's the ever-popular "Create A Poem Page" and the always fun "Make Up Your Own Word Search". Tonight's news headline reads "Ponchos Save Family from Fashion Crime." And in case it isn't clear which family she's talking about, the first line of her front-page article is "Ponchos save fashion crime victims at [our home address] and Fashion Designer SG sat down with us to tell us what happened." 

Part The Second - Like Godzilla, Only Bigger
     There was a time not so very long ago that I was able to sit down and write on a fairly regular basis. That was nice. I miss that. I still think about writing a lot, although by the time I get home at night and catch up with my oldest child and talk to my husband and investigate what else Jack the Dog has decided to steal from the trash and ultimately hoard in his corner of the laundry room, I'm too tired to write. Also, whatever it was that I thought I might want to write about has disappeared in a fog of exhaustion.  I blame this, mostly, on the ever increasing volume of time that my youngest child spends at gymnastics (and the correlative volume of time I spend making that happen). Gymnastics - it's a trap.

Part The Third -  He Was Born That Way
     I received a phone call today from one of Owen's teachers.  She wanted to tell me what a great kid Owen is and went on to compliment him on his empathetic nature.  I've often joked that having two children who approach life so differently has led me to the understanding that I can never take blame for their mistakes . . . or credit for their successes.  Owen is who he is and has been since the day he was born.  

Part The Third - No Sibling for You
     For many years, my mom and her sisters had a system in place where they took turns calling my grandmother on a daily basis to make sure she was alright. It was a great idea (the daily phone call check) and it's one that I tried to implement with my own parents.  Here's where being an only child becomes somewhat of a liability though - there are only so many days in a row that I can call my dad before he starts to question why I'm calling so often and then gets irritated at me because I'm treating him like (I want to say "child" but let's go with) not an adult. So then I make Joel call.   It's only now that I'm beginning to think that having a sibling or two to help out with the daily dialing might not be such a bad idea.  

Part The Fourth - My Dog is Sad
     Joel is out of town this week and Jack the Dog is sad.  He's in the laundry room, watching for Joel's car to pull into the driveway.  Watching him watch for Joel to return used to break my heart.  Not so much anymore.  I just want to tell him "Hey dog, get over yourself - we all got troubles. For example, some of us very recently found out that we've been walking around as Fashion Victims." 

Part The Fifth - Five Years and Counting
     Ponchos and parents and gymnastics aside, it's been a rough couple of months.  Somewhere in late July the awareness that the fifth anniversary of my Grandmother's death and the fifth anniversary of my mother-in-law's death were approaching left me at loose ends - for lack of a better phrase.  I miss them both.  I miss the life I had when they were still here. Life now is good, but seems smaller - less. That may not make much sense, I really don't have a great way to describe it.  Grieving is hard.

Part The Sixth - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

They're happy. I'm happy. It's a simple formula, really.