Saturday, August 28, 2010

Twelve with dorky helmet

I completed 12 miles on my unicycle! Twice! I had the goal to get back on my training schedule (that I make up as I go). I am so relieved that I was able to “Ride Captain ride on my mystery ship” (why did that 70’s song just pop in my head?). This progress gives me hope that I can complete the half-marathon, and who doesn’t need a dose of feel-good confidence? Well, I do….especially after the conversation I had with my sons and their friends.

Driving back from a pool day, I was stressing the importance of always wearing a helmet when skateboarding, biking,showering (ha!) etc. I told the four boys in the car how I hate wearing mine and that I did not always wear it until some of my peeps gave me the “shame on you” intervention (with love) for not. Thank God they did. I know the boys did not need a lecture, but last week my friend was not wearing a helmet, was cut off by a car and slammed on his breaks flying over the handle bars, his face/head breaking the fall on the curb. Serious-scary-shocking-sobering stuff! He survived and is recovering. So, on I go, driving these boys telling them to always wear a helmet. And they say how they don’t like to wear helmets and I concur with them, lamenting that I hate mine because I look so dorky wearing it when I ride Blanche. Then a twelve-year old reassured me that it doesn’t really matter because I look dorky riding a unicycle without a helmet! I was speechless, but then admitted he is probably right.

On a side note, I went back to work in second grade, attended a CPR /First Aid class (FYI - 30:2 chest compression to breath ratio to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive”) , sent my son off to Catalina Island for Camp Del Corazon (Camp for kids with congenital heart disease) and yesterday we celebrated my younger son’s 10th birthday, Hawaiian style. I made another ice cream cake and it turned out much better than that monster Dr. Seuss one I made before. In a nutshell…work, party prep, half-marathon training and camp packing has kept me busy; darting around town, sprinting through the stores, hauling groceries, pedaling for miles, etc….you bet I’m wearing that dorky helmet!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Like a car rusting before your eyes, I go from 27 to 0!

Last week I rode 27 miles on my unicycle! Three times I did the nine-mile course and it got easier (who knew?), only falling once toward a ride’s end, in front of the gas station/donut shop (don’t those two businesses just go hand in hand?). Driveways are the hardest to stay balanced on. Totally embarrassed, I did not even look around, brushed off my knees and became so nervous it took me three attempts to hop back on Blanche. Can I tell you how much I hate that scenario? In my head, I could hear myself telling my boys about the “scheme of life” and saying, “In life, when you fall down (and you will), just hop back on your horse and keep going. Don’t give up!” So, I chomped on my own words as I flailed to remount, praying no one was staring at my tired struggle. But I know they were…so what!

This week? I have logged in zero miles (thus far) on my unicycle. From 27 miles to 0 … in one week. You might be thinking “She is a bi-polar unicycle rider,” but that is not totally the case. I have been immersed in a planting project in my front yard and have spent hours digging holes and planting roses, vincas and begonias galore. I like to think that is my excuse for not unicycle riding, but part of it is the heat and my lack of motivation. I really want to do this half-marathon in October, so I better suck it up, and remember I am in “training.”

Note to self: Hop back on your horse!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Italian Luau

The local Italian restaurant Ottavio’s is a favorite family spot. The walls are painted with murals of the watered “streets” of Venice and the rolling Italian countryside. The lighting is dim, food excellent, upholstery red. I have good memories of this restaurant; Ottavio’s is where we held our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner almost 16 years ago. My family is Ottavio’s best customer, reserving entire rooms for private parties often, whether a baby shower, birthday, wedding shower, you name it!

 This weekend when we celebrated my Uncle Richard’s 70th birthday, it was no surprise that fifty of us gathered at Ottavio’s. The only difference was that I was not dressing up for a nice Italian dinner, but dressing down, as there was a South Pacific theme. A sort of Italian Luau; if that even exists (sans the roasted pig, poi and pineapple and heavy on the pasta, bread and vino). Add a grass skirt, loud Hawaiian shirt or sarong, flowered lei, and hibiscus in hair and presto … we were doing the hula in Old Italy.

Without a lot of explanation (I am not sure it can be explained, other than my family values one another to such an extent they stretch to great lengths to make you feel loved and special) when one celebrates a birthday with a “0” (50, 60, 70 …), a customized written musical ensues and is delivered by characters dressed in whatever the party theme might be. One year it was the UCLA (Retired) Cheerleaders, another The (Burrito) Supremes, and another The Lasagna Sorellas. It is an entertaining ritual that is the highlight of these birthday gatherings, and needless to say, the females in my family aren’t shy. They, enjoy creating lyrics and dance moves to a song about the guest of honor, and love getting up in front a crowd. They act like they don’t, but they do. Uncle Richard’s serenade was no different, being sung by four beautiful Island Girls belting out his song that was set to the tune of South Pacific’s, Bloody Mary is the Girl I Love. But tweaked, “Uncle Richard is the man we love (clap, clap, clap, clap), Uncle Richard is the man we love and ‘aint that so damn grand!”
Another thing I liked about this 70th birthday is that we sat at the “kids table.” The kids were all younger than fifty! Median age of 41! That is what happens when you get up there in decades, so do the children … ahh, the cycle of life. Surviving another year is worth celebrating, but those birthdays with a “0,” sure do get a lot of attention around here. As well they should! Every decade above ground is a good one!
 Cheers to you, Uncle Richard! (cin cin)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Do these things bug you too? What’s on your list?

1. The Halloween costume catalog arrived in yesterday’s mail. I don’t know… does it bother me more that it was delivered in August, or that my son wants to be Michael Jackson? Tie.

2. Only 19 days left until school resumes and I return to work with twenty-four second graders: little people who are missing teeth and pick their noses. Sounds like I work at a convalescent home.

3. My neighbor’s goliath RV that blocks our view of the end of the street, city and rest of the outside world. Where is Ty Pennington when you need him? “Move that bus!”

4. We started with three mice, our dachshund ate one. Then one mouse ate the other. Ewwww! It bugs me that we have a lone surviving mouse, Jerry, living in our garage. He is eyeballed by the dog all damn day. Will Jerry ever die? Or should we donate him to a friend’s pet snake? Eeeew again, but what else? Poor things gotta be petrified and bored. Ok, it’s a mouse.

5. Girlfriends that would never, ever leave the house without makeup. What are they hiding under there? It can’t be THAT bad, can it? Two words: Reeee Lax. And that’s coming from me!

6. Jelly Belly’s are a favorite candy. Love them. It really bugs me that they ruined the gourmet bean with barf, moldy cheese, pencil shaving, dog food and ear wax flavors. If you happen to get a booger flavored bean instead of juicy pear – you’ve’ been Bean-boozled. It’s gross! . Maybe that’s the point. Just in time for Halloween, see number 1.
7. A “friend” (term used loosely) tagged me in a Facebook photo. I saw that ten people had commented on it. I perked up! Some folks’ names I recognized and others I had never heard of. I was curious, what picture was posted? It was no pic of me, but a city issue meeting she is promoting. I am up to 20 comments clogging my email. The old bait-and-switch …. Manipulative, sneaky and bothersome. I’m ready to unfriend her because I don’t need to be used in this silly way to promote her views.

8. Skin chaffing. I love the nine-mile unicycle rides sans the skin “fallout.” Time to invest in some special products for those sensitive areas. Half Marathon here I come!

9. Seeing people in clothes swimming in a pool or at the beach. This includes babies wearing only non-swim diapers….fully loaded water absorbed ten-pounder diapers that practically drag in the sand. I don’t get it. I’m happy they are enjoying the water, but it looks uncomfortable to this California girl. Buy a swim diaper or invest in a cheap swimsuit. That is why Target and Wal-Mart were invented, right?

Monday, August 9, 2010

You are never too old for The Spanking Machine

We are all getting older, every minute of every day…tick-tock, tick-tock. But isn’t it how we behave that determines the youthful-joy factor in our life? For example, at my husband’s Birthday on Saturday, our friend Bill (he’s an 8-year old trapped in a 40-something body) orchestrated and executed The Spanking Machine. Remember that painful, yet wonderful, human contraption when you were a kid? I dreaded and welcomed it—all in the same minute. The kids loved leaping and smacking, the adults loved watching and I loved the fact that my husband participated with a happy, boyish-birthday grin. What a great 43-year old sport!
My “Baskin-Robbins-on-steroids” ice cream cake was a mass of freezing deeee-lish success. Once sawed through, the pieces were so large they had to be halved, and even then, there was enough sugar to injure a diabetic. We will be snacking on cake leftovers through November. He received wonderful presents; a gift card to his favorite-teckie-nerdling store, Fry’s, a Boston T-shirt (he is a classic rocker-at-heart) and a poster-size picture of the“Wiener Sisters” we had blown up for his office. I am sure that he would agree, hands down (think spanking) the best gift of all is good health and friends to ring in a new year of the amazing Captain Phard (that is his nick-name and it can only be explained in a separate post).
Happy 43rd Birthday, Ralph!
(i heart you)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Riding to a Baker's Dozen

Perhaps this is crazy but life is too short to care. I registered to ride my unicycle, Blanche, in the Camarillo Marathon on October 3, 2010. Ok, I'm doing the Half Marathon of 13.1 miles, not the full 26.2, but it's still a major trek to me. It is a Boston Qualifier Race (whatever that is). I am soooo not into running and I had to ask permission to participate on a single wheel instead of two legs. I attempted to participate in another race earlier in the summer and received a big-fat-no from the race organizers. I did not expect to get a resounding yes this time! But it is a go, not a no … as long as I wear my helmet, keep to the right and show proof that Blanche is in proper working order by obtaining a bike safety inspection. Yes sir, sir! I have never heard of this, but apparently there are professional bike inspectors out there. Somewhere.

I am unsure if I can ride Blanche for thirteen long miles. Thankfully, I have seven weeks to prepare. Fifty-seven days, really. Feeling hopeful and excited after registering online, I decided that I would attempt a nine-mile ride today. Yes, today. Why not today? The worst thing that can happen is I become weak and fall on my face, busting out my front teeth, right? The nine mile course I attempted today is four miles farther than my longest ride ever. Maybe I should have built up to it? But. But. (there’s always a but) I was feeling excited and impulsive (an often dangerous combo). So, I upped the ante, because of enthusiasm, two cups of joe and curiosity.

Guess what? I completed nine miles in one hour and thirty minutes! Admittedly at mile six my balance was not so keen, my back became achy and my can started to get sore. Building endurance over the next weeks will help keep constant control, sharpen balance for all thirteen miles and hopefully build some needed back muscles. Dare I say that I am in “training?” I have never, ever, ever in my life trained for anything. Except a pub crawl in college. And Lamaze breathing (that was perfectly useless).

I feel I am on the cusp of being, again… dare I say, an athlete? Fit? Part of the half-marathon club? The suspense of what will happen next is killing me (along with my sore can and legs).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I can bake a cake I can!

“And NOW comes an act of Enormous Enormance!
No former performer’s performed this performance!”
-Dr. Suess
I thought it would be “fun” to make my husband an ice cream cake (his favorite) for his birthday. The cool thing is that I could make it beforehand and freeze it until this weekend. Time saver. I have never made an ice cream cake, nor am I the baking-type, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard. When I’ve purchased Baskin Robbins ice cream cakes they are wonderfully decorated, perfectly stacked, symmetrical and come in just the right sized box. That‘s what I was aiming for. I Googled "ice cream cakes," but few explained how to easily create the Baskin Robbin's layering thing, so I decided to piecemeal together my own recipe. I fastened my sense of humor and got to work.
I started with my 9-inch spring-form pan to make two mint-chocolate chip ice cream layers. Wax paper and time is the key here. Then I baked up two boxes of Devil’s food cake mix, and I used three, 9-inch round cake pans. This was my first mistake, as I produced enough Devil’s food cake and ice cream to serve all of Whooville. For a week. After all cakes were baked and frozen, I layered my 11.8 pound (yes, I got the scale out) heavyweight masterpiece as it melted and slouched. I had to work quick, slathering on chocolate frosting in between layers to keep it glued together. My lopsided masterpiece is eight inches high and nine inches wide! It is much huger than I anticipated (think Baskin Robbins on steroids) and I have no idea how I will frost all that square footage without it melting, or falling apart. And if, if, I can frost it, we will need an axe to cut into this frozen mass. I keep hoping Thing One and Thing Two will roll through my door and complete it for me. I am visiting Costco this morning with the hopes of finding a box big enough to store it, as my decorative glass cake holder is dwarfed by this frozen monster.
It is not turning out as pretty as I hoped, but Dr. Seuss would  appreciate my uneven blob of cartoon-cake performance. And hopefully, my husband will too!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Wiener's Bucket List

Mother Nature has not cooperated with producing sunny Southern California days during the three weeks my son has been in Junior Lifeguards. My hopes of parking my can in the sand and watching him swim the Pacific dwindled down to shivering in my clothes for an hour here and there. One fun thing we did, despite the cloudy chilly weather, was bring the Wiener Sisters on their first beach field trip. This has been on the Weiner Sister Bucket List for some time and I was happy to facilitate them meeting this goal.

Sara would not come close to the water and I don’t blame her as it was shiver-me-timbers cold. Otherwise, they loved the change of scenery, dead sand crabs and new salty smells. Remember, dreams are free? Even the Wiener Sisters believe it. I know this because they hoped to chase and catch one of the hundred seagulls standing down the beach. But alas, their legs are too short and despite ears flapping, they never did take flight after them.
At least the Wiener Sisters can cross “visit the beach” off their list and I can get started helping them with the next thing on their bucket list; building dachshund stilts.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Magic Cotton Candy Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain is only forty-five minutes from our home and it’s a family tradition that we put our life on the line every summer and head to Santa Clarita. We pack a lunch, grab our buddies and pay for a day of motion sickness, rapid-nervous heartbeats and hoarse voices. This is another event where my husband is the only dad/husband in our group, and we joke that he has three wives. Just like last weekend at the Food and Wine Festival…another three-wife event for him. He’s not complaining.
I am happy to report that my 13-year old son is growing into the Magic Mountain Park, riding Revolution for the first time. Twice, actually. This was a big hurdle for him, as last summer he snuck out the chicken door at the last minute. Oddly enough his younger brother is an unflinching daredevil ; my sons couldn’t be more opposite….think Laurel and Hardy for looks and the Odd Couple for behavior. My younger kid will ride anything that his height will allow, even going on X2, the world’s first and only 5th dimensional coaster. Just watching this ride makes my heartbeat rise and hands sweat. X2’s seats resemble bingo numbers rolling frantically in the little ball basket while speeding around huge drops as the coaster hurls you. I don’t know how they avoid chucking up their churro and $13 soda (the cost of food there is criminal. I could buy two cases of soft drinks for one seasonal green plastic Magic Mountain cup). But my husband and little one survived this “Xtreme Xperience” and I felt like an un-fun old bag next to them as they both gleamed adrenalin.
What do I personally look forward to? Cotton candy. It is my theme park daily requirement. I rather sit, eat sweets and chat it up with my husband’s other wives instead of seizing the challenge of Goliath, that monster coaster with the 255-foot drop into a 120-foot underground tunnel at 85MPH. Yes, Cotton Candy is much safer and less nauseating. I loooove the sugar-spun-sticky stuff that looks like pink, puffy sunset clouds and tastes like a little slice of heaven.
Thankfully, the day of our visit the weather was bearable. Unlike the 110 degrees it was just two weeks ago in Santa Clarita, we hit an 85 degree day and this made all the difference…we closed the park down and didn’t get home until 10:30 PM! The long day, heat and crazy rides usually poop me out, but not this time. I was under the spell of my children’s (and husband’s) excitement to go on just one more ride.
I am not a big roller coaster fan, although I did go on Scream (perfect name for this coaster). This ride had a unique floorless design that sent me racing at intense speed with my feet dangling in the air. Uh huh! You bet I screamed.Loud.