Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do not adjust your screens...

You may have noticed I actually changed my blog's layout. You should know, for someone not so tech savvy, this is a big deal. I had not realized blogger was making an effort to allow customizing your look a more simple act for the, well... simple minded, like yours truly. They even have a tie dye background. I know, you are shocked that I did not choose that one. Alas, it ends up that the main area has a buttload of purple showing, and we know, I cannot tolerate that.

Here is a Rainy Wednesday List of Crap You Didn't Need to Know:

1. I am in a techy mode lately. I even changed my facebook profile pic... after over 2 years. Maybe soon I will figure out how to properly burn a CD. I know how, I'm not that stupid, but every CD gets to about song 10, and then its messed up. It is eternally annoying, everyone knows all the good songs are after #10.

2. I got duped again by Amazon and their magazine deals. This time it was Marie Claire. Since I love Project Runway, I thought I would love the magazine. Well, I love the fashion part, but I feel like it is the middle class girl's Cosmo. That means ridiculously unbelievable articles about trashy sex. Why is it so hard for the world to understand that normal people like fashion too? (and by normal I mean women that don't have bathroom flings with the gas station attendant or their barista at Starbucks.)

3. I think there should be remedial classes for the car line at school. I have never seen so many stupid, yes, I said it... STUPID adults in all my life. How hard is it to follow a line of cars, and pull up in proper order? Every day is a lesson in patience for me.

4. Small children who immediately start running back and forth and boxing the air when the Rocky theme comes on are hilarious and cute. Bonus points if they are in their Scooby-Doo undies.

5. It is pouring rain and I am refusing to go to the grocery store. I loathe wet plastic bags and water spots on my cereal boxes. Clearly, I would starve if we ever moved to Seattle.

6. A guy at church told me he thought of me as a "mother-type"... I suspect he knew he'd chosen the wrong family label by the shocked look on my old lady, wrinkled up face. (I was thinking older sister, I'd even go "aunt" but mother?!?! ) He should know, moms buy you things like underwear and toothpaste. Sister types, they come up with the cool stuff... homemade cookies, giftcards for coffee, etc.

7. I finally found and purchased my black booty shoes. They are not super comfy, but I don't care. I love them. I just wish the fashion industry would have come up with a better name than "booty". I feel like I am buying shoes for my butt.

8. I have refused to turn the heat on yet. I am trying to make it through the whole month of October without it. Micah took note that it was 58° in our house last week. So? I did turn the oven on for a few minutes and opened the door. Safety first is the motto at this casa for sure.

9. I miss Farley's candy pumpkins. If you don't like candy corn (and you know who you are ;) ) you may not know that years ago, there was a lesser known candy pumpkin company, called Farleys and they were fabulous. Not cheap waxy candy pumpkins, no... they were yummy little orange dye filled bits of goodness. I have acquiesced and now eat Brach's Indian Corn. Bridgette and perhaps Martha will know what I speak of here. Thank you for your confectionery support girls.

10. I went to IKEA and Trader Joes with Alden last week. I made a discovery. IKEA crepes are nasty. I looked longingly at Alden's $2.49 kid meal and realized, I had made a grave error in IKEA cafeteria judgment. The lemon curd from Trader Joe's salved my wounds.

The End.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lessons from the Road...

So last week Alden and I made the long and bittersweet trip home to the B-Lo for my grandmother's memorial service and burial. It was already an emotional Sunday as one of my best friends, Heather, and her husband were leaving that same day to go meet their daughter and have their court date and adoption in Africa. Hellos and goodbyes... and lots of tears from me, of course. Here are some lessons I learned from the road...

1. Packing a car for just me and Alden to go away for a week was so easy. It also left plenty of room to bring back plunder from Grove City. (oh yes, we stopped for two hours there on the way home. Go team MOM driving!)

2. Driving five straight hours with a 3yr old is nothing when that child loves Toy Story and you have a DVD player. We never used to have one, and the new little Suburban does. I never knew what I was missing...

3. I think being able to drive 80 mph (70 if you are Micah reading this) and hand a child snacks, toys, and beverages, should qualify you for a special license. We did pull over for a potty break once. I was not even attempting that one.

4. I spilled not one, but two of my own drinks in the car on the way up to NY. When I was forced to stop at a sudden red light in Pennsylvania after gassing up (the car, I was gassing up the car for all you lame-joke lovers) and realized there were NO OTHER CARS even near the light, I screamed, "I hate you Pennsylvania and your stupid roads!" We had to pull over to wipe everything down. I cannot drive in a sticky car and you KNOW one of my readily accessible items was Clorox wipes.

5. My phone even took a swim in the Penn DOT coke spill, but so far seems ok. Poor Alden asked, "Why we hate Pennsuvanaya?" I was ashamed, so I calmly explained that we just didn't care for the Penn DOT system of closed lanes for pretend roadwork, potholes and now apparently, foolish stoplights. I realize number five should be part of number four since it is the same story, but I was embarrassed that me spilling a drink had evolved into a whole paragraph. I will say, my change purse got wet too, and I spitefully threw coke ridden coins in every toll booth for the remainder of my trip.

6. People who speed up and slow down are the cause of 95% of road rage incidents involving weapons. Ok. I made that up, but it is the cause of my road rage where I would like a weapon... Why? Why little mini van driving dad are you tailing me like I am an old woman out for a Sunday drive going 35mph? Ok, I fall for it once. I get over. You pass, get in front of me, and then... slow down by 7 mph? HUH?!?! Then, I fall for it again... I know. I should have recognized the sign that **mini van dad's inability to pick a man friendly family vehicle would also indicate his inability to drive ... but I didn't. The third time? Oh no buster. I am going 80mph (again 70 if you are Micah reading this) and there is no way you and your Aerostar crew are taking down me, Alden and the Toy Story gang again.

7. I remain steadfast in my hatred of all public restrooms. My newest loathing? Why are there not toilets that a little boy can reach standing up? I am NOT sitting my Alden's sweet cheeks on that seat just for pee, and despite my best efforts, Alden decided peeing whilst mommy holds him in the air and um, helps him aim, is less than desirable for stimulating any desire to actually urinate. So... sorry Beckley, West Virginia. We totally peed next to our car in the parking lot.

8. One meal a month at McDonalds is more than enough for me.

9. My hotel slid a "quick and easy" checkout paper under my door... AT FOUR AM! Now, I was already toting Micah's big pocketknife, and let me tell you, the concierge who made this decision about lost a finger. We didn't receive this same "service" on the return trip... go figure?!?!

10. Singing When Doves Cry while driving around town always makes me feel a little lame. Belting it out at 80 mph (uh, Micah... you know the drill) while Alden sleeps... empowering. Thank you XM radio and 80s on 8.

So there you have it. Always remember your pocket lysol and enjoy your next road trip...
** Please note, I was using sarcasm with the mini van dad line. I do not want mean looks, e-mails, or to be run down in the church parking lot. I was kidding. It was a little joke; tiny, teeny,itsy bitsy.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ich Liebe Dich Meine Großmutter...

* Written September 8th, 2010.

This morning I received the news. She is gone. That she is my maternal Grandmother. I knew it was coming, but the shock of its reality still stung. (I was rendered to a wailing mass on the floor. )I mean, she was 96, but she went to Dunkin Donuts just last week. I don't know what to say, and lofty platitudes are not the salve today. Instead, I will cope by telling you about her, because I think she was amazing.

She came to the US as an 8 year old, straight off the boat into Ellis Island, from the small town of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. She always bragged that she was the only one who didn't get sick on the boat. When she arrived, my Opa, her father, was waiting with what she called "gifts better than Christmas." He had apples, oranges, and "groß", (pronounced "gross") chocolate bars. (it may be important to note, groß means large in German) Their paradise? A small apartment with not even a shower or commode. They had a shared sink and commode down the hall, and it was a special treat when my Opa took her to the public showers and paid a nickle for her to get a bath. She learned Polish and English at the same time. (hence she has no tolerance for immigrants who don't learn English. Politically incorrect? Maybe... but she lived it.) As she grew up she was known for her beautiful singing voice, and was a DJ on a German radio station.

She met my grandfather, who was 11 years her senior, at a dance hall in May of 1932, and gave him not a second glance. He had a reputation as a "lady's man" but once he met his Trudy, he would have none other. They were married in September of 1932. (yep, she played hard to get all of 4 months!) It was during the Depression and she wore a navy blue suit, but there was no money for pictures. That makes me sad. I have always longed for a photo of them on that day. After several miscarriages, she gave birth to my mother... in a hospital. Her sister and sister in law laughed at her "fancy" birth experience. In her day, babies were birthed at home, but my grandfather was not risking her life, or his baby's. (my mom was their only child.)

I remember her telling me how she walked to the market daily for their dinner needs, and how she had a special bucket if she bought fish. She was an amazing cook. Rouladin, Potatoe Salad, Spätzles, Bean Stew, and more. She sent me care packages at college and even as young married woman, that contained her special cowboy cookies and oyster crackers. (I almost wept when my dear friend Heather made them last year.) My favorites were her egg salad and her grilled cheese, which she would always make when we ate lunch together. I still have the recipe card where she wrote down her "secret" egg salad recipe.

Every holiday is remembered with her cookies; "Gramma's cutouts", yummy anise cookies made with a special rolling pin, amazing graham cracker bar thingys, rum balls (made with 120 proof rum. We have pictures of my sister passed out at the Christmas table to prove it ) and more.

She could make a flower grow anywhere, and loved African Violets and Forget Me Nots. When I got pregnant with Lincoln I called to tell her I was growing something special, she ran through a list of fall flowers, and then finally guessed it was a baby growing in my belly. :)

I remember her weeping when I was very little and she accidentally burned me with a cigarette once. She sang to me in German at bedtime, and I learned the word "scheist" from her.

She became a widow at a young age. She worked at and retired from JcPenney's, priding herself on her customer service skills. She lived in an upper apartment until she was in her late 80s. She liked lavender gum and candy. (yuck!) She drank buttermilk, mylanta, and put Cremora in her coffee. She liked half a glass of beer on a hot day. (now Micah knows where I get it from) and could spank hard. (I was the only granddaughter she spanked. Some are not surprised, hush it.)

I regularly butted heads with her, make no mistake. I know I get my stubborn ways from her, and I am ok with that. I love that I have her habits without realizing it. Just last week I told Alden to eat his carrots because they would make his eyes shine. Total Gramma.

Upon hearing that she was gone I wept loudly and bitterly. (I am ever thankful for my Micah and my sweet friends who offered shoulders to cry on and love.) I went to the garage and opened a box of her things my mom let me have, and immediately her smell wafted through the air. If I could seal that box up and keep the scent in it forever, I would. I will never forget the last time I saw her, or the way her soft hands felt in my own.

Folks, write your gramma that letter, spring for those flowers, make that call, go for that visit...

If you are a mama, chances are someday you will be a Gramma. Get your recipes down, pick some choice sayings, and get your scent decided on. Someday, yours will be the box of memories that someone is opening...

I love you Gramma and miss you with more than I knew I had in me.