Monthly Archives: June 2012

summer boredom….


The boy has always been a loner, much to his parent’s displeasure.  He does have a best friend, who lives down the street; but his summer days are spent with his Aunt-at her house.  By the time he’s available to play, night has fallen leaving little time to hang out.  The doll on the other hand is a very social creature–yet she hasn’t figured out how to be social with other kids.

As we walked to the pool the other day I asked her, “How’s your summer going so far doll?”  “I miss my cousins and friends” she said.  “Why aren’t you doing something about that?” I asked her.  “Mom, I’ve called Mary and Elle asking them to come swimming at Grandpa’s every day and so far nothing!”  “Yeah, they and their parents live very busy lives…  But what about your friends from school?”  “What about them?” She said in a curious tone.  “Doll, why aren’t you calling and setting up play dates with them?  I can’t do it for you…”  Again she gave me an odd look, but the wheels in her brain began to spin….she became inspired.

Needless to say….we are having a sleep over tonight.   Me and my bright ideas…


the invasion….


Well as much as the doll is “changing” into a woman, she’s still my innocent little girl who becomes easily embarrassed and annoyed when it comes to boys…

The doll and I decided to take an evening swim at my Dad’s pool yesterday.  The boy, who missed his last day of Humane Society camp with a flu bug, stayed home with his father; moaning in misery for effect.  When we arrived at the pool, I went inside to say our obligatory hello’s;  basically informing my dad we were there, so he wouldn’t be startled later.  The doll meanwhile patiently used the skimmer, to remove debris floating atop the pool.  When I came out to get the pool set for play, the doll asked, “How does it look?  Pretty good don’t you think?” I agreed and prepared to jump into the pool with her……that is……until…..

the boys arrived.

My brother invited 5 members of his son’s baseball team over for pizza and pool, after a grueling hot day of games.  The look on the doll’s face was priceless when she realized she would have to share the pool with six twelve-year old boys.  Looking at me-looking at her she said “Why are they here?” “Why do you think?” I asked back.  “But…?”  Walking over to her I said “Doll this is not our pool it’s Grandpa’s–everyone is invited.”  Realizing the plan she had for us in the pool was not going to happen, she sat down unhappily in a deck chair.

The boys were rough housing in the pool and the doll sat off to the side miffed by their actions.  Occasionally they would ask her to play a pool game with them, but she declined.  She couldn’t get herself to “want” anything to do with those boys. “Doll, these boys are only two years older than you…” her Aunt Jean told her.  “Surely you know how to handle boys”.  “It’s not that Aunt Jean; it’s just I can’t swim what I wanted to swim with them in the pool”.  “Well doll there is room in there for you…” I pointed out.  Shrugging her shoulders she finally jumped into the pool.  Her water fun was short-lived however when the boys moved into her area.  Getting out of the pool quickly she looked at me and said, “I’m done let’s go home.”

I know she was disappointed when her plans were ruined with the boys arrival.  But I rather enjoyed watching her be shy with the boys.  In two years things will be different-she’ll be different and boys could become a wider focus for her.  But today, thank goodness, they’re still just annoying animals splashing about in the water.

timing…..for the doll is everything


Whenever the doll has a burning question she would like an answer to, she waits until she and I are alone….in the car traveling very short distances.  “Mom, how does a girl get pregnant?”  Wha?  Um, well, let’s discuss this when I have visual aids” I said a bit scattered by her question.  “But I know about a penis and a vagina Mom.  I just don’t know how they work together….”  “Dear God!!!  Are you trying to get us killed?”  I think as I drive along the road trying to pay attention to where we’re going and answer her question as honestly as I can. “Well, um…you see…” I begin….and then finish.

Yesterday the question was “Mom can someone marry a dog?”  “No silly, no one can marry an animal because the animal cannot reason with a human.” I replied.  “But if love is love, then it stands to reason your dog loves you so should be able to marry that dog.”.  “Doll why do you always ask these odd questions when we’re in the car?” I asked, a bit perturbed.  “Because when it’s just you and I in the car, we have a chance to have one on one discussions without Dad or the boy making comments.” the doll responded.  “Well you got a point there” (dammit) I replied.

” Okay–Unless the “dog” you are referring to is really a “human”, you cannot marry a dog.  First of all, we’re different species.  Second of all, the dog may love you as a companion but that animal does not love you in the same way humans love each other”  So the answer is No, someone cannot marry a dog.” I told her.  “How can someone be a dog?” She replied.  “Dog is a term people use for jerk or loathsome people”  I replied.  “Well they shouldn’t call humans dogs then, because dogs aren’t jerks-only people are.” she said emphatically.  “I know doll…but that term has been used for eons-several years before you or I came along” I said.

As she opened her mouth and drew in air for the next question we arrived at our destination.  “Hold that question until next time” I advised.  “Smiling she said, “I will mom and the next one’s a doozy!”  “A doozy?” I mouthed the word to myself.

God help me!

what’s in a name….?


My family is not perfect.  We all have our little imperfections which makes us who we are.  The doll it appears, has inherited some of my father’s OCD which is quite prevalent on my side of the  family.  My dad’s OCD shines bright when he wants something taken care of–and bother’s you endlessly until the job is done. There have been times, when I have quit speaking  to him for a spell; Because in my house I’m allowed to have things my way-not his.  Yet in the end, I usually end up caving in.

Since she was a little girl, the doll’s OCD has been visible.  One time while packing for our family vacation, I had all the liquid medications stacked on the counter.  Unbeknownst to me, she pulled a chair over so she could reach the counter, and put all the medications in order for height.  Another time, while visiting the Aviary at the Zoo, she needed to touch every piece of fence post as she walked through-and cried when I tried to move her along quicker.

Lately her brother, thinking he was being “cute” began to refer to her as “TL” my dad’s initials.  I don’t blame her for taking offense (I wouldn’t want to be referred to as a 91-year-old man either), but I also didn’t want her to resent her grandfather for being who he is.  “Doll, when I was younger my brothers and sisters used to call me “Joyce” all the time.  “Who’s Joyce?”  she wondered.  “My mom’s name is Joyce.  Evidently I can be blunt at times…as could my mom.”  “What does blunt mean?”  “I guess that means I tend to say things first without thinking how someone will feel.  I have tried to tone it down over the years, but on occasion, I still get into trouble.”   “Did you like being called “Joyce”?  she asked.  “At the time I did NOT.  I used to call them all sorts of names in retaliation.  But now, looking back, that just ties me to my mom–which isn’t a bad thing.”  “Mom, why is he calling me your dad?”  “Your brother is looking to get a rise out of you, and he did.  He could have used any letter combination and you wouldn’t have like it, now would you?” “No.  But I’m not like your dad at all.” she said firmly.

“Well that’s not true.  You have red hair like he did.  You are beautiful and intelligent–he’s still a very intelligent man (though if you ask him, he’ll tell you he has a touch of Alzheimer’s) and you have similar predilections–a penchant for doing things certain ways.”  “Huh?” she said with a puzzled look on her face.  “What I mean, is you both like to have things done in certain ways…attentive to details.  “Oh, well, what’s wrong with that?”  “Not a darn thing!  And as we both know the boy never pays attention” I said.  “So the boy actually calling me “TL” is a compliment?”  “Yup”.  Thinking for a moment she finally said, ‘Well, I don’t think the boy knows that, but I’d prefer if he just called me by my name.” The doll added.   “I know doll, but brothers can be idiots at times…case in point.”


a camping we shall go….


I wanted to find a culinary camp for the kids this summer.  My thinking was purely selfish.  First they might begin to cook for me, for a change, plus, perhaps the boy would finally begin to expand his pallet.  But I couldn’t find one that fit the bill. Seeing the boy is not much of an athletic type, the choices for camps became limited.   Some of the schools were offering vacation bible camps, however they only applied to the doll.  The boy would be too old.  I checked into reading camps offered by the libraries, however the times didn’t mesh well with my work schedule.  We were stuck.

Determined to get the kids out of the house and experience new things, I knew if I kept looking something would ring true with them.  Then I came across a three-day camp offered by the humane society that would teach children proper pet care and how interact with animals.  The doll and boy have both expressed interest in working with animals when they are older.  What better way than to give them hands-on experience?  Plus, if they do well here, there are other day camps offered by the humane society in July that they may partake in as well.

The camp starts this afternoon and the boy, who never sleeps in slept in.  As I sat here trying to write this blog he came running into the kitchen looking messed around.  “Mom!!!  MOM!!! MOM!!!!!”  “What?” I said calmly. “What about the camp?” he cried, looking very upset with me for not waking him up sooner.  “What about the camp?” I asked.  “What?”  “The camp begins at noon” I calmly said.  Relieved he slunk down in a chair.  “Oh, I thought it started at 9:00 am.  Whew!”  Yes the kids are looking forward to this camp. The only issue I have with the entire thing…?  My laundry will double.  Once the kids arrive home they will have to change clothes immediately, or they will be torturing me with animal hair that I, undoubtedly will be allergic to.  Ah…the price we have to pay for summer fun….

bittersweet memories….


Grammy looking out over the river…

For the last twenty some years, my husband’s family has owned a house in Tennessee.  First they built a vacation home-The Buttercup-over several months and weekends; located in Townsend, a small peaceful village located ten minutes from the Smoky Mountain National Park.  My husband and I spent our honeymoon there, waking each morning to the beauty and smells wafting down from the mountain landscape.

When my in-laws retired, they decided to make Tennessee their permanent home. However, their little vacation home would be too small to accommodate them; so they purchased a home in Knoxville, located only an hour north of Townsend.  They turned their vacation home into a vacation rental and settled into their new life as retiree’s.

“Keep your arms and feet outstretched so you can push off the rocks instead of getting stuck on them”

As life has a way of spoiling your plans, my father in law became ill and passed away in 2003.  My mother in law continued to live in Knoxville until this year, when she decided home was in Ohio, nearer to her children and grandchildren.  Last weekend we went down to help her pack up her house for her move north.  After working to load the moving van much of  Monday morning, we spent the afternoon frolicking in the wonders of the Smoky’s–the rivers and valley’s which make up the landscape.

Mermaid pose for the doll….

We drove along Tremont, looking for a nice place to pull over and play, when my husband noticed how the sun shined down on this little area.  We pulled over and out the kids climbed–over rocks and fallen trees; until we came upon a water hole.  The doll wore flip flops and tried desperately to hang on to them while swimming in the rock filled river.  The boy decided to forgo shoes and be like Tarzan–bare footed.

Daddy wondered out into the river and was about to go under when we realized…we’d left the towels back at the house!  Curses!  But the kids didn’t seem to care. After wading around for a little bit, Daddy hiked on back up the trail to check on his mom.  Meanwhile the kids found a natural water slide nestled between some cascading rapids and had fun riding the river down stream.

no children were harmed in this photo…though not for lack of trying…

I stood on the bank, snapping pictures and trying to skip the occasional stone across the water.  When Daddy made his way back to us, he decided skipping rocks was a good idea… too, even if the kids were in the way.  “Hey!! that almost hit me! The doll yelled as the stone skipped over her head.  Another time if the boy had raised  his head out of the water, he would have been nailed.  “Knock that off, you almost hit him” I snapped at him.  “I know, he he he” Daddy laughed.   “Daddy, are you trying to throw that rock in my vicinity?” the boy yelled.  “Yup!” his father answered.  “Well then your aim is off!” The boy shouted back.  “Don’t tempt him!” I yelled at the boy.  “DAAAAADDDDDD!” The doll yelled.  “Honey please stop trying to kill our children…we’ll have to explain this…” I tried to reason.  Smiling he said, “Alright, spoil my fun…”  I don’t think he was purposely trying to hit the kids…but he had an awful lot of fun just missing them.

We’re going to miss having a place in Tennessee to visit on our way to the Smoky’s for fun and play.  But the move is the right thing for Grammy and us.  Plus I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of those mountains.

The long car ride home….


A look of terror crossed her face as I said “Doll, I’m afraid you’re going to have to sit up front with me….”  “No mommy, I can’t; I’m not old enough the air bags will kill me!” she argued.  She made valid points in her disapproval.  However, I needed every inch of space in the back of the car so we could transport two 27″ (picture tubed) TV’s  along with an aging microwave and an assortment of other large items from Tennessee to Ohio.  “But doll, you’re taller than most 12 yr old’s (the cut off age); you’ll do just fine.  As if to convince her further I added, “You know doll when I was a little girl, we used to ride in the front seat all the time, without seat belts on”. Though I did neglect to tell her that the cars back then were made of steel not fiberglass.  The doll flashed a very unhappy look across her face–fearful just sitting in that seat would cause us to crash on the car ride home.

“Well, I don’t see any other choice.  You could have a TV fall on you if you stay in the back seat.  But if you’re up with me, I promise I’ll be extra careful driving home…”  Her father, who overheard me trying to reason with the doll added “What if you take your pillow and set it on your lap.  That way you can brace yourself against the airbag, should it be engaged.”  Thinking about his suggestion, she finally relented and began to ready the front passenger seat for herself.

The ride home usually takes about seven hours.  Add traffic in Lexington and Cincinnati around rush hour and the ride can take longer.  “I know what I’m going to do for this ride home, I’m going to sleep”, she said–no doubt fretting about her seat position.  Looking at her I said, “Oh I hope not.  I’m going to need you to help me stay awake”.  Lowering her head she replied, “Well alright if you insist”.  “I do!”  For the first twenty minutes of the ride, she practiced using her pillow to pretend block the airbag from hurting her, until she finally settled in.

Sitting in a  “Criss Cross Applesauce” position, she pulled out her Grammy’s seldom used Gameboy along with a few games and began playing to help pass the time.  As we drove down the road with my Ipod plugged in for music accompaniment,  the doll screamed “UGH!”  and then a moment later “OH” followed by laughter and disgust.  “Doll are you trying to kill us?” I asked, startled by her first scream (Now remember she’s going to be a screamer for the horror industry!) .  “Mom have you ever played ‘Frogger’?”  she asked.  Upon hearing the name of the game, for some reason,  I instantly recalled an old Seinfeld episode with George playing Frogger in a pizza parlor.  “Every time I’m almost across the street the frog gets it!” she laughed.  Smiling I said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”

As we wandered through Tennessee into Kentucky, we began to play the “Alphabet” game, finding letters of the alphabet from road signs, license plates and advertisements sprinkled about the landscape.  After three games the doll changed the game.  Instead of finding the letters we had to make up a sentence, starting with a letter of the alphabet in order. She began “A: An alien was seen landing in the road…”  Then my turn, “B: But he managed to avoid getting run over…” etc.   We played three games of this until we both became bored.  She went back to her Gameboy and I went back to the original alphabet.

“Mom, is it hard to drive a car?” the doll asked.  “The hardest part is paying attention to where you’re going” I replied.  “But doesn’t the car know where it’s going?” she said with a half smile.  “Doll, besides steering and knowing how to gas the engine, none of that matters if you don’t watch what’s going on around you.”  “Oh, I’m learning how to be a driver by watching how you drive” she said.  To myself I thought, “Well that’s okay, so long as you don’t pay attention to the speed limit signs, versus what speed we’re currently going.”

As we sped along the highway, I marveled at how great this time with her was.  She found a mirror behind her visor and began practicing making funny faces; every once in a while sharing them with me.  We discovered the doll has a very small bladder but took advantage of every stop we made either by getting gas or food during that time.  Plus we talked about everything: classmates, the future, summer plans.  She told me of her earliest memory “I was two and sitting on the couch staring off into space”  “Were you getting dressed?” I asked.  “Nope, just sitting there.” she replied.  “Was your brother with you?”  “Nope just me, on the couch staring off into space” she said.  Thinking for a moment I said, “Sounds like you every day of the week doll” and laughed as she hit me in the arm.  “Hey be careful, you don’t want to injure the driver!” I laughed and then she laughed and then we laughed together.

I wanted to bottle up her laughter–so full of joy and happiness.  She and I made quite the pair driving home.  The only bad traffic we ran into was ten minutes from home.  An extra ten minute wait as the sun set behind us.  Once we pulled in the driveway she said,  “You know mom, that wasn’t that bad of a ride”.  Smiling I understood what she meant…but in actuality-for me, that was a  million dollar ride–one that I probably won’t get again any time soon.

Post Script: Yesterday she jumped into the front seat of the car.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  “I’m riding with you to the store.”  “Um not in the front seat you’re not–back seat go.”  I said.  “What? Did you lie to me about being big enough to ride in the front seat?” {CRAP!} “Doll, on the highway is one thing.  City streets are more dangerous.  Please sit in the back”.  Reasoning what I said was the truth, she agreed and hopped over the seats into the back.  Once strapped in we drove off.  Me happy that she bought my explanation and the doll happy because was being safe.  Whew!