Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Big Ones

Could we have ordered better weather for Daniel’s eleventh birthday? No! It was a gorgeous hot, sunny day to celebrate not once, but twice!
His “friends” party was filled with rambunctious water-gun wars and I don’t know why I bother putting effort into planning games, as all these water rats wanted to do was shoot each other and horse around in the pool. However, the game “Waiter Relay” went over well. There were two teams and each had to walk swiftly through the course (up and down stairs and around a tree) carrying a ping-pong ball on a plastic dinner plate with only one hand.  Fun stuff! For lunch, they feasted on cheap pizza and juicy watermelon with a homemade ice cream cake for dessert that tasted better than Baskin Robbins could ever scoop up! The boys loved wearing their Ray-Ban knock- off sunglasses that made them look much older than fifth graders. I can only sum it up as the perfect play day before the first day of school tomorrow (did I just write that? Farump!).
Daniel’s second party started immediately after the last kid was hesitantly pulled from the pool. Enter my family with another batch of presents, birthday cake by Aunt Miss Piggy, yummy dinner, swimming shenanigans and a campfire late into the night (guitar serenade included).  It was a long day of blessing after blessing and I’m left wondering how everything went so well. There is always a glitch when you plan parties and these two celebrations slipped under that radar. (I’m not complaining. Just saying). Now, I sit and mentally prepare for a new school/work year to begin while in awe of how good God is!

My “baby” is almost eleven (Daniel’s birthday is August 31) and, no lie, this kid is a source of endless joy. Seeing the happiness, appreciation and love in his smiling face gives me hope that he will have an amazing year!

Will you raise your soda can and join me in Cheers to Daniel? (CLINK!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Case Study: The Evolution of an All-American Kid’s Mouth

The evolution of my son’s mouth? Oh, it started out like any other little mouth, except for that slip on the concrete that yellowed his front tooth. It wasn’t purdy, but I was thankful that it was his baby tooth that looked like a corn kernel. He lost teeth, the tooth fairy descended and a month later this cycle repeated. This  went on for years. He had teeth disappearing and popping up faster than Pop-Tarts in the toaster. Then there was that mouth of awkward adult-sized teeth trapped in a child’s pie-hole; a once-in-a- lifetime photo op if you ask me!   

Oral disaster hit in fourth grade when a metal limbo poll forcedly met his permanent-front tooth. Although sad to know it would forever be half-composite, I reminded myself “At least it’s not open heart surgery!” and moved on.
Fearing his orthodontic consultation in first grade, I flashed back to my decade of oral work I suffered. No, suffered is not too strong a word. I had nine teeth pulled, a horrible overbite, neck gear, headgear, and braces for 2.5 years. Mine were not the braces of today that look like a metal dot glued to the tooth and decorated in colorful bands (and you could not customize your  color every month!). What I am describing is a full-metal jacket around each tooth. “Bands” are what they were called, but that name is too musically cheery for something that had to be fitted and positioned with a small hammer and what looked like a dull ice pick clanking in my mouth. Oh, the bad memories I carried with me into Lucas’s first orthodontic appointment six years ago.  Lucas was doomed from the start because the poor kid had my teeth , but it really didn't matter because my husband  wore top braces for one year (I know, big-deal!).

So, we put our money where his mouth was and started Phase One of orthodontic care. Back in my day there was only First-and-Last-Phase called Brace Face. Nowadays, the mouth stretcher, AKA: Expander, is used to make room for teeth, instead of pulling them.  Working this metal-bridged contraption nightly on my little one was miserable. Whenever I turned the key in his mouth to stretch the roof, he moaned and often cried. No, I did not miss that appliance four months later.  At this point I was unsure of what I had invested in after seeing the results.
Check out that gap!!
Please welcome, Phase Two: Top Braces. He was nine when he had this top-only set put in and they lasted a year.

He had a short (retainers only) break while we waited for more teeth to fall out and then the Jewel of the Jaw, Phase Three: Full set of braces for 18 months.
I remembered starting high school with braces and hating my often painful and shiny-metal mouth. Luckily, today Lucas got his braces off and I said a prayer of thanks, as his first day of high school is tomorrow! The last six years of this  All-American kid's oral-cavity evolution was well worth the money and long wait.
Thanks Dr. Mark Mc Dade, we are very pleased!

Look Mom, no braces!

Parents rejoice when our kid's orthodonture needs end. Not only because the payments halt, but our kids are happy to have it over and you can finally see some return on your investment: A big beautiful smile that warms your heart. Forever.
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't.  ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unicycles, Fourth Grade and Bee Stings, Oh My!

Sweating my way through nine miles on Blanche yesterday I anticipated my first day back to fourth grade. These thoughts fuel my excitement for a new school year; a fresh start that delivers a New Year's Eve feeling without champagne, horns and goofy-glitter hats. Laminating homework folders, creating new bulletin boards and orientation packets kept me busy while I reviewed in my head what we’ll study (all over again); California History, common denominators, the Rock Cycle and four types of sentences (imperative, interrogative, declarative, and  exclamatory … in case you forgot).  By the end of my first day in class, I was ready for a nap and that is what I did until the phone jolted me awake. It was Lucas.

He was at band camp and went on a nature hike with the percussion group. He and two friends trailed behind and managed to step in a bee hole. Band camp is not supposed to be painful and I’m not sure how hiking and making music overlap, unless John Denver is involved, but there he was describing his twelve (as in Days of Christmas and dozen donuts) bee stings!  Those angry boogers planted stingers in his head, ear, arms, back and leg. Some even zinged under his shirt as he was screaming and jumping around. He had to take off his shoe to let one out! Sidethought: You think maybee this is how singer Sting got his start? Hmmmm. Lucas was hurting and I thought it best to get him home and pump him with Benadryl and Advil. Thankfully,  Super Grandma picked him up while Daniel and I attended flag football practice. 

My conclusions for Friday?
-The unicycle riding is coming along, but I need some new tunes. Any suggestions?
-The first day of prepping fourth grade went well and I’m excited for a new batch of ten-year olds.  
-You can Bee 100% sure Lucas will never go on another nature hike at band camp.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Balance Challenge 10 ~ Want Less

The sermon on Sunday titled “Surviving Financial Crises,” started the bank teller in me computing the truth about riches or lack of. Apparently when it comes to money, you need to know what you own, owe, earn and where the green stuff goes, but honestly, it is much easier (and fun) to ignore those stressful facts. Leaving the Church service, I’m challenged to consciously stop seeking more. Not that I’m this gold-digging-status-crawler (no-way Jose!), but I admit getting caught up in unnecessary life stuff. At Target I’m spending because it’s an amazing deal, but really, I don’t need another candle, tablecloth or the latest chotchka.
My challenge is to want less, pursue nothing materialistic (clothes, shoes or bargain shopping for fun) and be creatively resourceful (helllllo, coupon clipping!) with what I’ve been blessed with. I am cutting the fluff and instead of indulging in cilantro-lime shrimp, I’ll pop a can of tuna.  Today I cancelled a massage and painted my own nails. This. Won’t. Be. Easy. It pushes against every cell in my All-American-unicycle-riding body that conquered a total of 19 miles the last three days and craves a massage, manicure and cilantro-lime shrimp!

I trust that practicing contentment results in peace and good-life balance. In our indulgent American culture, more is more and that is the message … Get more! Therefore, looking at my life and breathing thankfulness, frugalness and joy over what I have instead of have-not can feel “back-asswards,” (as my mother would say).  want less because when I die, nada is going with me. Nothing. The only things remembered will be memories and my database of thousands of digital photos. No one will care what I wore, my car’s age, fluctuating weight or vacation destinations.   For that reason, I am going to invest in thankfulness, laughter and less expensive groceries. You know … simpler things that result in being well-balanced.
In other words, I want less.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Penist

My exhausted father stopped by on his way home from his Sheet Metal Shop one slow summer afternoon. My mother was out of town and I could tell Dad just wanted to hang out. The boys and I were preparing to watch our Netflix, so of course we welcomed him to join us.  He settled into the couch like tired oatmeal and asked my older son how regiment band was going.

“Good,” he answered, “I got my drum.”

Looking to my younger son, he asked, “And how is the pianist?”
Confused and embarrassed, my ten-year-old son said, “My penis?”

“No, the pianist.  You know, someone who plays the piano,” explained Grandpa.
“Nooo ... that is called a PIANO-ist,” he said confidently.

(Insert rolling laughter with explanation of proper definition to the ten-year old). 
Smiling, I was reminded that no matter where we are in life, there’s always something new to learn!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wishy-Washy Birthday

One week after my Superman fixed Old Bessie, our washer, she retorted with smoke and a pungent burning smell throughout our home – Farump! Since our house caught fire, we weren't taking any chances and put Bessie down like an old racehorse (to the glue factory!)  Our new washer will be delivered today. It's perfect timing because August 10th is my husband’s birthday and isn’t that every man’s dream to be gifted a new washing machine to celebrate another year? Yesssss! Forty-four years ago today my Southern Man was pushed out in Memphis, Tennessee, and tonight I'm whipping up his favorite dinner of BBQ-pulled pork with coleslaw (hee-haw!).

Now, don’t get agitated thinking his only present is a washing machine. On Sunday we celebrated and he received a guitar serenade from Lucas, many-an-Amazon gift card and a poster-size-photo collage of his favorite people for his office.  Visiting his work recently, I noted that above his desk hung a 20X30 photo of The Wiener Sisters, a small photo of us from 1994 and one of the kids from years back. Way back. It was clear as a water-filled washer that a picture of his family was missing.

Honestly? What he would like is a Cobra kit-car, a quad-hauling camper, or bottomless trip to the Guitar center. However, in reality, today he is feeling the love with yummy BBQ and continued spotless clothes! On top of this my amazing husband is blessed with what every human desires; good health and to be deeply loved and appreciated by those close to us.  This sounds like not only a well-balanced birthday, but also a clean start to a brand-spanking new year!
Happy Birthday and Cheers to you Sweetie, I love you (Clink!)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Five Clinks

Just so you know, “Clink!” is my way of saying “Cheers!”,  “Celebrate!”, or as my Italian Family puts it, “Salude!” Counting Clinks reminds me of the many blessings, friends and situations to rejoice in when I feel shlumpy. Here are my Five Clinks of the day:

Clink to 43 years young!
1. Happy Birthday to sweet-strong-amazing-authentic-beautiful Stephanie, who turns another year older today! Clink to the blessing of true-blue friends! 

2. July 29th was my second Blogovesary. Clink to tapping on the keyboard!

3. I rode a seven-mile stretch on Blanche. Clink to perseverance!

4. Refurbished Bessie is still-running-strong. Clink to clean whites!

5. My family is healthy and together! That’s The Biggest Clink of All!
Popping my one-and-only tire is my Farumph! It's the truth that nothing ever goes as planned. Forget the Farmuph, Let’s count our Clinks!