Monthly Archives: April 2012

Community gardening….


“Look at Dixie!!” Kristen shouted, as we all turned to see what the dog was up to. “She’s playing soccer with herself”.  Sure enough there was our dog, chasing the soccer ball, trying desperately to find anything she could grab a hold of and finding none.  “Well at least one of us is having a fun time” the boy lamented as we turned our attention back to the tasks at hand…gardening.

The hubby and I have talked for years about planting a garden in our backyard, but never getting around to doing so.  Frankly, I believe because gardens take a lot of work and we’re too lazy.  So when my friend offered to turn her backyard into a large community garden, I thought, why not?  Having an expert gardener overseeing and giving us advice on how to grow the vegetables is a win-win for all of us.

“Boy, I need you to help the girls…” my friend said to him.  “Could all three of you pull some of this ivy out-of-the-way?  We don’t need it growing in our garden.  All three kids bent down and began pulling the crafty plant out of the ground. I came over to watch and take a picture of the kids. Moving to a good vantage point, I bent down to take a picture when I heard my friend say, “Doll, boy, throw the ivy in the direction of your mother; that area still needs to be plowed under.”  But what my kids heard must have been different because both of them flashed me a wicked smile and began throwing everything at me. The boy had the winning shot as dirt landed on my head and trickled down to my clothing. Honestly I think this was his way of getting back at me for making him work hard on a Sunday afternoon.

Once area was cleared of the ivy, my friend asked the boy if he could help her use the shovel in that area.  Without hesitation the boy gladly grabbed the shovel and helped turn over dirt, preparing an area for the girls to plant onions.  If I had asked him, a heavy sigh followed by an “I’m tired” remark would have come forth.  Instead, he was more than happy to help her out.  Once that area was complete and the girls began planting, I approached the boy and said, “Way to go bay! Could you overturn the dirt over here too?  We need four rows created about six feet long so we can plant some corn.”  I was surprised he didn’t argue with me and instead began overturning the dirt.

Meanwhile, Daddy and I were busy pulling old weeds and plant roots from another part of the garden.  I laughed saying “Who needs to go to the YMCA after working in this garden?” as I did squats over the ground, to keep my back from screaming foul.  After two and a half hours of heavy work, Daddy and I called it quits.  We were tired, dirty and hungry.  The kids by then, once all the onions were planted had given up as well.  While we only got onions planted yesterday, we did a lot of work preparing the ground for the next batch of seedlings–which will be planted very soon.



What price good health?


A few weeks back I found an interesting article on the web, concerning the foods we really shouldn’t eat, which prompted me to take a look inside my pantry and find most of the foods on the list.  As a parent, I want to feed my children healthy nutritious foods, yet here I am, looking down at this food saying to myself, “Well, once we’ve eaten all this, then I’ll never buy it again.”  Nothing like shooting myself and family members in the foot now is there?

Yesterday, while at Costco buying my weekly 5 gallons of milk, I passed a large container of real popcorn.  I’ve walked past this before, but decided on a whim, to buy it.  As I told my husband, maybe popcorn will become a “treat” again, instead of an expectation while watching a movie or an everyday snack.   When I arrived home and brought in the groceries, the boy walked into the kitchen and stopped–looked at the container of popcorn and said excitedly, “Yeah, you bought kettle corn”.  “No, that’s not kettle corn” I replied.  A bit perplexed he looked at the container again and said, “Then what is this?” “Popcorn boy, that’s popcorn.”  Looking very lost he studied the container once more, reading the ingredients then looking back at me he said, “I don’t get it, where’s the bag?”

Trying not to laugh I said, “That is not microwaveable popcorn. This is  good old-fashioned popcorn.”  “But, I don’t understand how does it become something I can eat?”  His sister, upon entering the room, tried to sound more intellectual, “Duh boy, anyone can tell that’s popcorn.  The real question is what is the process used to make the kernels become something we want to eat.” “I know that doll, that’s what I just asked Mom”  he shot back.  “You don’t make this in the microwave.  Popcorn and the microwave are a thing of the past in our house from now on.” I said to them.  “Why?” they both moaned.  “Because I read an article where they said they found cases where rats were developing cancers after being exposed to all the chemicals in microwaveable popcorn”  “Mom did you know they used rats in Belgium to…” the boy began to say, before I cut him off.  “I’m sure they do boy, but this is about us, eating healthier.”

“Um, mom, I’m still lost….how does this…” she said pointing at the container, “how does this become something we want to eat?”  “By putting oil in a pan, adding heat and then popping the corn”.  “So there’s no bag?” the boy asked again.  “No bag…just oil, a pan, and popcorn.”  “Isn’t that dangerous?” the boy wondered.  “Yes it is, if I don’t put a lid on the pan.  But honestly, this is the best tasting popcorn because you can eat it as is, or put some flavor toppings atop of them”.  Both kids shrugged their shoulders and exited the room.  A short time later both kids asked if we could make some of this “new” popcorn which I replied with “No.  Maybe tomorrow, but not tonight.”  Disappointed the doll asked me why.  “Because making the popcorn is messy and I don’t feel like making a mess tonight.”  “It figures!” the boy interjected.  “How come every healthy comes with a price?”

Laughing I said to both of them, “Better to pay the price now than later on down the road…”  To which the boy replied, “Yeah, whatever mom!”  Whatever indeed.





Mornings with Mary Alice….


“I have learned over the years, the best thing is to let go and let happen…” Mary Alice tells me several times  a day.  Very sage advice from a woman in her 80’s, who along with her husband raised ten children.  “Let go and let happen” hmm those words are easier said than done.  “Another way of looking at that is ‘Let go and let God’ I say in return to her.  “Yes, that is the best way….”

On Wednesday and Thursday’s I get a treat; talking with Mary Alice about everything under the sun.  Most of our talks are centered around God and family.  Mary Alice is a devout Catholic, much like my mother, which is probably why I get so much enjoyment hanging around with her.  She’s a great surrogate for me.  “How old are your children, I know I’ve asked you before…” she asks, several times within the same conversation.  “The boy is 13 and the doll is 10.” I tell her.  Sure I could change their ages, make a game out of our time together, but that would leave me feeling false.

“You know, my husband and I raised ten children, and sometimes they didn’t behave the way we wanted them to.  Some of them thought they knew everything and did things I disapproved of.  I just continued praying to God that they would come to their senses.” She always says with a chuckle.  “Once they finally grew up and got their heads on straight, they turned out to be wonderful people.”

This morning, we had pretty much the same conversation as yesterday, but I don’t mind.  I’ll interject new thoughts and ideas, here and there which fit well into the conversation.  We laugh and chuckle about how no matter things change, they really stay the same.  Yesterday we laughed at the colloquial phrase, “Same shit different day”.  But as our conversations come to a close, she looks back at me and says, “I have learned over the years, the best thing to do is let go and let happen”.

Which prompts me to say, but I never do, “Yes mom, I hear you and I’m trying…!”

a glimpse of the boy….


The boy has decided the only kind of food he’ll eat has to contain 100% sugar.  Yes, candy has become his best friend…much to the displeasure of his parents.  “Boy, did you know Diabetes runs strong on both sides of the family?  Your Grammy, my dad both have the disease.  My Grandfather also had both legs amputated above the knees as a result of his diabetes.  Eating so much sugar in a day is unhealthy” I told him.  Acting as if he understood, he disappeared into his bedroom.  A while later I entered his room, dropping off freshly folded clothes, only to see him sitting in a pool of candy wrappers.  “Did you hear what I said earlier?” I asked perturbed by my discovery.  “Yes, I heard you….”  “….and….then why are you eating all this candy?”  “I’m impulsive.”

He came home from school the other day with an infraction, for improper footwear for gym.  For some reason, the boy likes to where his Docker dress shoes everywhere.  Whether because they are comfortable or because he doesn’t have to lace them is anyones guess.  Upset with himself over the infraction he tried to lay the guilt onto me.  “Mom, why didn’t you make sure I was properly dressed?”  Smiling at him I replied, “Well considering this is your fourth infraction for the same issue, one would think wearing proper footwear would start to sink in…”

For some reason, the boy likes to wear a coat we received as a hand-me-over a few years back, everyday, all day.  Sure he removes the coat during classes at school, but every evening I have to ask him to remove his coat and stay awhile.  “But I love this coat!  This is my happy coat!” he tells me.  “Perhaps, but you are rapidly outgrowing your happy coat…” I’ve said on numerous occasions.  The inside pockets have been torn out–leaving the inside lining as the only thing preventing his  treasures/goods from falling about the floor.  “Mom, you just can’t put a price tag on comfort-ability” he tells me.

At the start of the current school year the boy weighed 130 pounds and was 5’3″ give or take an inch.  Yesterday I had him stand on the scale….151 pounds and he’s 5’7.53527″ tall.  In other words, he’ll be passing me in height any day now.  Hard to believe my cute little boy is turning into a handsome young man.  What can we attribute to his growing status?  On average I buy 5 gallons of milk at a time from the area Costco.  One would think the milk would spoil…but not in my house.  The boy cannot go a day without drinking at least eight cups of milk–usually from eight different cups.  “But mom, milk goes with everything, even candy!”


Hair today…


The girls were busy doing their homework the other day when their conversation turned to talk about hair growth on their bodies.  “I have really light hair on my arms, which I like, because it looks like I don’t have any” the doll commented.  “Yeah me to…” added Mary.  “Have you ever noticed Molly’s arm?  Her arm looks like it belongs on an ape” the doll snickered.  All three girls laughed at the thought before Mary added, “I know, so does Jackie; I feel so bad for them.”  Elle, wanting to contribute said, “Yeah me too.  My arm hair is a little darker, but not nearly as thick!”

“Did you girls know your dad used to have thick curly hair?” I asked Mary and Elle.  “Yeah, he told us when his hair started getting thinner and thinner, it was easier to just shave it off.”  “I remember your Dad at age 16, wearing glasses and sporting a thick beard with curly brown hair on his head.  He looked older than me” I said.  Trying to get that image into their heads Mary giggled, “Yeah, I wouldn’t recognize him like that at all.”   “What about uncle Mike?” Elle asked.  “As long as I’ve known uncle Mike, he’s been hair challenged atop his head…and I’ve known him for more than 26 years.” I said.  “Wow!” Elle commented.  The other two seemed unimpressed.

Changing the course of the conversation I said, “Did you know you have hair on your face right now that’s so light, you can’t see it?  Plus the older you get the more hair you’ll have all over your body”.  Mary approached me and replied, “Yeah, like the hair you have over your lip, except that’s yours are kind of dark Aunt Marsha.” “Out of the mouths of babes…” was the first thought that ran through my head, before giving way to “Wow you set yourself up really good for that one”.  “Yeah, I suppose I need to do something about them” I said before slinking away to the bathroom to take care of my “Fu man chu mustache”.

Just before taking the tweezers to task, I noticed three girls standing in the doorway to the bathroom watching my attempt at hair removal.  “Mom that looks painful…” the doll said.  “Well, that depends on your accuracy…” I replied turning my attention back to the task at hand.   “Aunt Marsha, don’t forget that little hair sticking out of your chin…” Elle said before bursting into laughter.  Smiling at the three I said, “Mark my words ladies…this is all in your future…!!!” With that the girls turned and ran screaming “GROSS!!!” throughout my house.  Turning my attention back to the  task at hand, I reiterated what they said, “Yup, gross!”

I can tell….


I could sit here and give you play by-play details about this past weekend but that would take far too long.  I can tell you the doll looked nervous during her first dance on Saturday.  “Mom, after that first dance, we were all like “Whew!” and that settled us down” she told me afterward.   I can tell you no matter how hard I tried to look at the other dancers, my eyes were always drawn back to my beautiful dancer,”Mom, did you see how we were supposed to be sullen during the sacred dance, so I wasn’t allowed to smile”.  I can tell you at one point the doll came stage left, just in front of her Dad and Grandmothers who remarked how old she looked. “Mom, I looked older than ten?” the doll said with a note of incredulity.  I think she secretly liked hearing that, while her family members were saddened by the thought.

Dancing Queens

I can tell you, had it not been for Mary and Elle’s mother, the doll and I would have been in big trouble!  “Mom, Aunt Kim is really good at putting on the make-up and has all the hairspray stuff” the doll reminded me, when I attempted to comb out her hair.  “Yes, I know doll, I just thought I’d help you comb out the tangles.” I replied.  I can tell you I would make a lousy “back stage mom” which is why having a BFF and sister-in-law, volunteer for those positions made our lives so much easier and the doll more beautiful than I ever could.

I can tell you the doll doesn’t critique herself–which is good.  “Doll, how do you think you did?” I asked her following Saturday’s performance.  “I think I did great!” she replied.  After nine weeks of intense practices and nine months of classes, there was no way she couldn’t be.  I can tell you which was the doll’s favorite dance both nights, Jazz.  “You could tell she had a different vibe going” her Grandmother noted after Sunday’s performance.  “Doll, tell me was Jazz your favorite dance?” I asked Saturday night.  Giving me a small giggle she answered , “Yes, I mean I like the other dances too, but Jazz is just freer and funner.”  Which was quite evident on the stage.

I can tell you our days of ballet might not be over…  “Mom, I wish we had more than just one weekend of ballet performance.  I really liked being on the stage-that was so much fun.”  she told me as we left the restaurant and walked toward the car Sunday evening.  “I know dolly, I know.” I replied.  “You know, there is talk that one of our dances, “The Washington Post March” might be used for “Music Under the Stars” at the Zoo this summer.  That would be really cool to perform that to a whole different crowd of people” she relayed excitedly.  And all I could so is smile along with her…”I know doll, that would be cool”.

I can tell you that right now, we’re all very happy to have a week of rest…no ballet until next Monday.  Perhaps by then some of her enthusiasm for being a Prima-ballerina will pass…though, I doubt it.

oh what tired legs we weave…


I arrived to the theater a short time after 11 pm last night, ready to pick up the doll and bring her home.  “Yes I’m looking for the doll” I told the women at the theater door.  “She’s currently onstage.”  “Ugh, can you tell me how much longer you think this will take?’ I asked politely.  Giving me a sarcastic smile, the woman opposite from me said, “You know the drill.  If she likes everything she saw, they’ll take quick picture and they’ll be on their way.”   As I stood their waiting a bit impatient, I could hear the music wafting through the theater.  Realizing I was a few steps from the back of the stage, I inched closer so I could watch the doll dance, from a distance.

A woman who worked at the theater stood to my left watching the girls dance.  “How long have they been here?” she asked me.  “My daughter’s been here since about 4:15 pm.”  “Wow” she remarked.  The music played on and there was by beautiful, tired and exhausted girl; doing her best not to sleep dance upon the stage. Finally the song ended, some minor corrections were made and pictures ensued.

I stood back in the wings watching as the doll fluttered here and there, listened and tried to do everything she was told.  After several minutes of stops, starts, retakes, and finally given the clearance to leave, she exited the stage.  Seeing me she shot me a smirk that basically said, “Get me out of here!!”  After several minutes the doll appeared, carrying all her costumes and ready for bed.

Once in the car she filled me in what happened that day…”I never had a chance to study mom, there was no time”.  “Mom, did you know Mary and Elle are going to miss an hour of school in the morning?”  “I did not know that.” I replied.  “Yes, and AL and a few other girls are skipping school altogether.”  “Well we’ll see how this goes.  I have to work in the morning…so if you stay home, you’ll have to come with me and clean…”  That idea didn’t set well with her.  “Could I at least miss the first hour of school?” she suggested.  “We’ll play it by ear.”

When we arrived home the doll asked if she could have some Ramen Noodles (a newly discovered treat), as she was starving.  So she ate some noodles before heading off to bed.  I do believe she was asleep long before her head hit the pillow.  I stood there in the back of her room and watched her sleep.  My beautiful and engaging doll has worked her tail off for this ballet recital and I hope she can take the time to draw the experience in and enjoy the fruits of her labor.