Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jack loves Gatorade

No really, I mean it. The kid LOVES Gatorade. He asked me to take this picture of him kissing Gatorade so "We can take this picture to always remember how much I love Gatorade!"

I'm kind of nervous about it though, I must admit. He really does look like he, well- actually loves the Gatorade. I feel like maybe I intruded on a private moment between a boy and his drink. You know what I mean?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Green Acres is the place for me.

"What we do in life echoes in eternity."
-Maximus (Russell Crowe) from the movie Gladiator

After this past weekend, that quote has new meaning to me. It has always been one of my favorite quotes- a reminder to myself that actions have consequences and each action taken has a ripple effect of sorts on my life, and the lives of those around me. It's been over 20 years since I last visited the farm owned by my family in Wisconsin. It is a farm rich in history. My great grandfather farmed the land and was a blacksmith when he came to the U.S. from Finland in the late 1800's. He built the house on that land with his own two hands. My maternal grandmother grew up in that house. Over the years, the people living there were my relatives; a homestead passed down from generation to generation. And as is the way in many families, even relatives who didn't reside on the property would lend a helping hand when needed- fixing roofs, tilling the land, cleaning-those kinds of things. Now it is my turn. Along with my brother, we now have the responsibility of maintaining the farm. It wasn't until I stepped foot on the land and entered the house that it dawned on me what a responsibility this was. But it is one that I welcome. The house has a history that is undeniable. Past actions and events that took place here are echoing through eternity into my lifetime, into my children's lifetime.

There are clothes hanging in the closets from generations past.

There are photos galore.

There are papers from years past. The most disturbing of which (for me anyway) was a Western Union telegram from the 1930's sent to my aunt. All it said was, "Jean. Billy died in an accident. Get home." Even after all these years, that single piece of paper endures to remind me that life is fragile; that life can turn on a dime.

But there were two other things that I would say fall into the disturbing category:

1) The flies. Oh.My.Lord. The FLIES!!! They were EVERYWHERE. I was in the house for about 10 minutes when I looked at my brother and said, "Are we sure there isn't a dead body somewhere in here???" And then we laughed because, well, in those circumstances you just have to laugh. Even if the flies are dive bombing your head as you're laughing. And then we went and bought every fly trap the local grocery store had on their shelf. It wasn't until we found out that it was actually "fly season" in northern Wisconsin that I stopped wanting to scrape my skin off my face. Huh- who knew??? Fly season? I think I must need to get out more because I've never heard of fly season- deer season and bear season, yes! Fly season? Not so much.

2) The Bedroom. The last relative who actually lived on the property full time was my uncle. He passed away two years ago and left a um (cough, cough-shift uncomfortably in my chair) legacy of sorts. Let me put it this way... at best, he was extremely eccentric- at worst, I think he had a severe hoarding issue. I knew we probably had an issue on our hands when the guy in town who works AT THE GARBAGE DUMP told us we must have our hands full with that place upon hearing that my brother and I were taking over the farm. I mean, when the garbage guy is telling you there's a problem- trust me- there's a problem! In the last two years, generous family members and friends have slowly but surely removed, cleaned and restored most of the farmhouse to a liveable status. Most of it, that is, except for "The Bedroom". It was the most daunting of tasks to undertake- cleaning out that room. Much of it hadn't been touched in the two years since his passing. But since the rest of our relatives did such a fantastic job restoring the rest of the house, "The Bedroom" was the last room that needed attention. So, my brother and I donned our face masks, put on our plastic gloves and decided to tackle "The Bedroom".

My brother looks somewhat optimistic in this picture...

I on the other hand, well, I was scared shitless. You can see it in my eyes.

We gave it our best shot. We cleaned out the drawers and our long standing opinions about my uncle's eccentricity were more than confirmed. He had always been one to want to live "off the grid". One neighbor asked us if we found any parts to his wind generator that he was building. He was always into Sci-Fi and based on what I found in the drawers, I think he had a true fear that nuclear war was an imminent possibility. There were groups of pills to take in the case of radiation exposure and more than one exposure meter to measure your radiation exposure. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. In the interest of some level of decorum, that is all I will say about the details of "The Bedroom" cleaning. With the exception of this- we were not successful. It was too much. What started with optimism ended with me and my brother dry heaving on the front lawn.

So now we are looking into Plan B. Candidates for Plan B include but are not limited to the following options:
1) Take another crack at it ourselves when we go back there in a couple weeks. But this would require me to get very, VERY drunk first.
2) Hire a fire/flood restoration company to come in and wipe the slate clean. But since there technically wasn't a fire, or a flood, I'm not sure we could qualify for their services.
3) My brother suggested that we just order new carpet and keep our fingers crossed that when they show up to install the new carpet, that they would rip up the old and haul it away without asking any questions. Good idea in theory but in practice I'm guessing not so much.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thar she blows

I've always HATED the dentist. Like most of my other fears and dislikes, I can pinpoint the specific moment(s) where my hatred of the dentist began. When I was a child, my mother took me and my brother to a dentist who didn't believe in "drugging" children so we never received Novocaine for any procedures. For my brother this wasn't an issue- he never once had a cavity. I, on the other hand, had at least one cavity every.single.time I went to the dentist. So, let's do the math for a moment, shall we?

1 cavity X 2 visits a year X 8 years (went to this dentist between the ages of 4-12) = approximately 16 cavities filled without Novocaine. So yeah, I hate the dentist. I can't hear the sound of the drill without getting goose bumps; the smell of the dentist office makes my mouth water- and not in a good way!

But since my kids have started making their semi-annual trek to the dentist, I've put on a brave face for them. Luckily, they haven't had any cavities and I really try hard not to give off the sense that I don't like the dentist, or that there is anything to be afraid of. I certainly don't want to pass along my dentist phobia to them.

Now, there were certain things I fully expected to pass along to my children: my eyes, hair color, skin color etc. But yesterday I realized the extent to which some of my DNA had been passed along to Megan during her semi-annual dental check up.

Everything was going just fine, she sat in the chair and the dental hygienist (DH)came in. She was nice enough and made a little bit of small talk with Megan while they decided on the flavor of toothpaste to use during the cleaning.

...And then the cleaning began...

The DH put the toothpaste on Megan's teeth and rinsed with the water sprayer; she used the sucker thingy to suck out the water from Megan's mouth. I could see it was starting to be too much. I could sense it; I've been there before. There was too much going on in her mouth and the DH wasn't removing the items often enough to allow adequate recovery time. You see, I know this because Megan has obviously inherited my gag reflex. She's the child that gags every morning while she's brushing her teeth. She gagged while chewing her first piece of bubble gum. She's, well...she's a gagger- just like her momma.

She barely made it through the cleaning and the last step was the fluoride. The DH put it on her teeth and told her, "Now keep your mouth open for one minute; don't swallow it!" So Megan tried to follow the directions. She salivated; DH jammed the sucker thingy in her mouth- over and over again. Megan must have tried to close her mouth because DH then decided it would be a good idea to stick her finger, along with the sucker thingy, in her mouth to keep it open.

...And then it happened...

Megan gagged.
She gagged again.
I fired a warning shot to the DH. "Um, I think she has my gag reflex."
And another warning shot. "She's gagging pretty good there."
Megan's eyes watered as the DH said in her sing songy voice, "Just breathe. Just breathe. You are doing just fine."
Megan gagged and burped at the same time.
My final warning shot. "I think she might throw up."
DH continued in her sing songy voice, "Oh no, just breathe. Open and close your mouth on the sucker. Open, close. Open, close. That's right. Just like th---"
And a final gag and...
Thar she blows. Megan threw up all over herself, and the DH.

Then a tad bit of mayhem ensued. I was irritated; Megan was embarrassed and crying; DH was trying to convince me that it wasn't her fault. "You know" she said to me quietly as I used her sink to clean the puke off my hands, "Do you think she might not be feeling well? I mean, she didn't vomit last time she was here."

"Actually, no." I said. "She feels just fine. I told you she had my gag reflex and I'm sure that is why she threw up."

So, I suspect that in 6 months when we go back to the dentist that Megan may not be afraid of the dentist... but I'm pretty sure she'll be afraid of the DH- or at least afraid of fluoride!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Caddyshack moment of sorts

Yesterday's bath started like most others. I filled the bath, threw in a few of Jack's toys, got Jack undressed and plunked him in the tub. I turned away for a moment or two, listening to Jack play in the tub.

"Uh, Mommy?" Jack called to get my attention.

"Yeah?" I called back.

"What is this thing?"

I walked closer to the tub to see what Jack was talking about. He pointed at a brownish item floating in the tub. It wasn't much bigger than a kidney bean.

"What is that?" I inspected it a bit closer. "Is that...poop???"

"I didn't do it. It's not my poop." Jack said a bit too quickly.

"Well then, where did it come from?"

Jack looked up at me innocently and said, "I don't know. Isn't that weird? Poop that came from nowhere???"

I scooped the poop out of the tub and it wasn't moments later when Jack announced that he needed to go potty. Upon closer inspection of the resulting content, it's pretty safe to say there wasn't any question where the "floater" came from.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Privileges that come with age and maturity

This morning I was helping Megan to get set up with a television show of her choosing. I stopped on a channel and looked over at Megan for approval on the channel selection. "No," she said. "That show is stupid." Even now she says stupid tentatively, almost in a whisper. I guess it takes time to unbreak a habit, even when you have parental approval to do so.

You see, up until about a week ago, in our house the words "stupid" and "hate" were thrown in the same category of words as sh!t or he!! or F*$k. So taboo were these words in our house that when Megan would hear them from others, our little rule follower's mouth would gape open and at times she'd look like you just hit her upside the head with a wooden stick. "Grandma!!!" or "Aunt Lori!!!" she would lament if by accident hate or stupid accidentally slipped from their mouths. (Which by the way, I realize this rule is totally hypocritical, since I have been known to spout more than my fair share of profanity.)

But last week, Megan and I had a heart to heart discussion about this rule.

Megan: Why can't I say those words? Everyone else can.
Me: Because I don't think those words sound very nice and you can think of something better to say.
Megan: But all my friends say it and it's weird that I can't say it and I have to say things like, "I don't like that." Besides, I would never say it to someone. Like, I would never say, "I think you are 'S'" or "I 'H' you."
Me: Well Megan, I think we can talk about this because you seem to understand when it is appropriate to use those words. For instance, you know how when you are in a group of friends and no adults are around, you probably say things that you might not say when adults are around?
Megan: Yeah...
Me: It's the same way with those words. As long as you understand and make good choices about when to use those words, I think you are old enough now to be able to make that choice.
Megan: So I can say them???
Me: Let's set some ground rules. You know never to say those words around adults because it's not respectful, right?
Megan: Yeah, and like, I would never say it to someone because that would be mean.
Me: Exactly. And I'd prefer that you not say those words around Jack.
Megan: Right. Because he's not old enough to know the difference?
Me: True. So I think you understand so I'm not too concerned if you use those words under those circumstances.
Megan: So I can say them????
Me: Well, we'll check with your dad to make sure he agrees but if he does, then yes.
Megan: Okay!

So we checked the next day with Jay and he agreed, and readdressed the ground rules of using the words stupid and hate. And thus, Megan added two new words to her vocabulary.

When she came home the next day from school. I joked, "So how did your day go? Did you use any of your new words?" Megan nodded vigorously and said, "Oh yeah! At recess I said hate like, five times!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Perhaps not the best advice I've given my daughter.

Megan came home from school the other day and was kind of quiet. She turned to me and said, "Mom, do I ever have to have a play date with Jane Doe?" (obviously not her real name...)

"Not if you don't want to. Why? Do you want to?"

"Not really."

"Why not?"

"Because she's not very nice. She called me gross."

"Why did she call you gross?"

"I don't know. She didn't like the way I was eating my pudding."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, um, I kind of like to drink my pudding with a straw and mix it with milk. And Jane Doe said she thought it was gross and then she wrote a newsletter and was going to hand it out on the playground and I saw it and it said, 'Megan is gross.'"

Without thinking I heard these words fly out of my mouth, "Next time she calls you gross, you just tell her you think her face looks gross."

As soon as the words flew from my mouth, I thought perhaps that wasn't the best advice I could have given her. But being her mother, and feeling protective, and already sensing she's had her first brush with a "Mean Girl"- in second grade mind you- I feel it is my duty as her mother to make sure she knows she should be able to stand up for herself.

I looked at Megan and saw her eyes as wide as saucers, and her mouth hanging open. "Mom! I can't say that. I could get in trouble with my teacher!"

Fair enough. She actually had a decent point there. So I took this opportunity to share with her the ways of the world, like it or not. As much as I didn't like delivering this information, I felt she needed to know the truth.

"Megan, let me tell you something." I began. "In this world that we live in, there are certain ways that people act and certain things that people do that are considered by most to be 'normal'. And like it or not, sometimes when people see others acting in a way that they don't think is normal, it makes them uncomfortable and so they say mean things because it makes them feel less uncomfortable. I'm not saying that is the right behavior and I'm not saying that Jane Doe had any right to call you gross because she didn't. But I'm guessing that since most people don't mix pudding with milk and drink it with a straw, it might have made her uncomfortable and that is why she called you gross."

Megan said, "But I like to eat my pudding that way."

"That is fine if you want to eat your pudding that way. You can eat your pudding however you want. Now that you understand a little bit how people work, you can make that choice. And you know that if you do something that others consider not normal, that they may say something that isn't very nice and that is why. Right?"

I remember so well what it was like to be in her shoes. I struggle with wanting so much for her to be a unique, interesting individual and yet, wanting her to fit in without losing who she is. Is there a happy medium? I hope so.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Coincidence or foreshadowing?

I was in San Francisco earlier this week for work- for less than 24 hours. I was actually supposed to come home late Friday night but due to certain circumstances, I ended up catching the first available flight back and came home on Wednesday night.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up sweating, crying and in a panic. It was about 3:30 AM. It has been a long time since I had a nightmare like that; one that shook me awake and seemed so real. For hours I just laid there with every cell in my body telling me to GET HOME and every part of my brain trying to convince myself that I was just being crazy.

My dream...

My plane was coming in for a landing and at the last minute the pilot aborted the landing and back up we went. My palms started to sweat and I looked around at the other passengers and saw their concerned faces, their hushed whispers. I shifted in my seat and looked out the window as our plane once again began to descend. I watched as our plane came in lower and lower and as I scanned the ground I noticed there didn't seem to be an airport, or a runway, in sight. "We are heading toward the highway. I think we are going to land on that highway!" I heard a passenger behind me whisper to her seatmate.

I craned my neck to look and sure enough, we were landing on a highway. What the heck is going on? I thought to myself. After we landed we exited the plane and no further instructions were provided. People just started wandering off into the woods aimlessly. I periodically asked people what was happening and all I was able to figure was that there was some sort of natural disaster that had taken place and people everywhere were stuck. My cell phone didn't work for what seemed like an eternity. I was finally able to reach Jay and he said he couldn't get to the kids from where he was but that Megan was spending the night at our neighbor's house and Jack had gone home with a family from daycare since Jay couldn't get there before they closed down for the night.

In my dream I was temporarily relieved and went through the motions of getting back home 3 days later. I walked into my house and Jay and Megan were there. "Where's Jack?" I asked Jay.

"He's still at that family's house from daycare. They haven't called to say anything was wrong so I'm guessing he's just fine where he is. I'm just waiting for them to call and say to come pick him up."

"You mean they haven't called for 3 days? Who is the family he's with?"

"No. I haven't heard from them. I was told he went home with the Glass family."

I started to panic as I dialed the number with my fingers trembling. I asked the family if Jack was there and was horrified to find out that they never took Jack home with them. This meant that Jack had been missing with no word from him for THREE DAYS. My mind started racing. Where could he be? Does he think we abandoned him? Is he still alive? Where do I even begin to start looking?

And as I opened the phone book and started to search for hospitals, I completely broke down struggling to turn the pages of the phone book.

...and that is where I woke up...

A few hours later I was still trying to shake the nightmare from my mind when my cell phone rang. It was Jack's daycare. They were calling to tell me he was sick with a temperature of 103.5, headache, nauseous...the works. I called Jay and left messages on his cell phone and work phone to go get Jack. After talking it over with Jay, we decided that it was likely with Jack's temperature that he would be sick for the rest of the week so I made arrangements to come back as soon as I could.

I came back late Wednesday night just before the rain began to fall in Chicago.I went in to check on Jack. I put my hand on his head and he was burning up. He felt me touch him and he lifted his head, looked at me and said, "Hi Mommy. Did Daddy tell you I have a fever?"

"Yes he did, sweetie. That's why I came back. I'm going to give you some more medicine, okay?"

"Okay Mommy."

It was at that moment where I put any work guilt I had to the side. I was exactly where I needed to be. That decision was only reinforced as the days went by and Jack's temperature refused to fall but the rain in Chicago continued to fall, and fall, and fall.

Moral of this story: Sometimes you just need to listen to your gut. Maybe it was mother's intuition or maybe it was foreshadowing; maybe it was just a weird coincidence. I don't know. All I do know is that my baby boy has been sick for 5 days. And I know that here in Chicago we are having the worst patch of rain that I ever remember. It has now been raining for 4 days straight and had I kept my original flight that was supposed to come in late Friday, I probably still wouldn't be home.

This is my yard at this very moment.

(Oh, and that rectangular item in my um, "pond"? Yeah, that's my sandbox floating around in there.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I know why the Twin Towers aren't around anymore

For Patriot’s day, Megan’s school suggested the kids wear red, white & blue clothing. When Megan came home today, I asked her about her day at school and if everyone wore red, white & blue. “Yeah, a lot of kids did. It was kind of weird.”

“Why was it weird?”

“I don’t know why we had to wear it.”

“Well, it’s Patriot’s Day in America and wearing red, white and blue is a way to recognize this day.”

Megan thought for a moment and circled around our driveway on her bike. “There was a guy once who walked on a tightrope between the twin towers. Did you know that? He did. Really. But the twin towers aren’t around anymore. They don’t exist. I know what happened with the planes and the twin towers, you know.” She said.

I’ve been waiting for this day. The day that she would bring this up and the day that I knew I would struggle, depending on her age, with how much to tell her about that day. If only she was older than 7 I could tell her how after that day, the world as we Americans knew it would never be the same. For once we had experienced what many, many countries and people experience every.single.day of their lives. The shock, fear, grief and the utter sense of lack of control in your surroundings that once seemed untouchable.

“Oh? What happened?” I wanted to test the waters to see how much she had picked up on over the years. After all, she was wasn’t even 3 months old when 9/11 occurred.

“Well…” she said as she continued to ride around the driveway. “There were a couple of robbers. They robbed the planes and then flew them into the twin towers and it wasn’t even an accident!” Even at her age and even with her most basic explanation of events, I could sense her disbelief at something so unbelievable, so evil.

“Yes, it was a very bad thing that happened. I still remember where I was when I found out about it and saw it happening on TV.”

“Really?” She stopped pedaling and looked at me. “Where were you?”

“Well” I said, choosing my words carefully and letting my memories carry me back to that day. “I was sitting in my bed and you were really little. You were only a few months old. I had you on my lap and I was rocking you. I was watching a TV show and they started showing one of the towers after the first plane hit. And as I was watching, the second plane hit the other building. I remember thinking that maybe it was still an accident-that maybe the second plane got confused in the smoke and hit the tower by mistake.”

“But it wasn’t a mistake.” Megan corrected me.

“You’re right. It wasn’t but I wanted to believe it was. Those were some very bad people that did that. It was a very sad time. Then I took you to your babysitter but after an hour or so, I went to pick you up and brought you home.”

“Why did you do that?”

“Because nothing like that had ever happened in our country before. It was a pretty scary time and I just felt safer having you home with me.”

Megan thought for a moment and then said, “That’s weird.”

I left it at that and we walked inside the house. Someday, when she’s older I’ll tell her more…I’ll paint a more vivid picture of how that day changed our world.

I’ll tell her about how for days, no weeks, I sat in front of the television absorbing the terror others were experiencing; absorbing it to the point where I had nightmares and Jay scolded me to turn off the television to just have a moment of inner peace.

I’ll share the fact that it is because of those events that news programs now have the scrolling news items and headlines across the bottom, providing constant updates.

How everyone on 9/11 and in the days following became all too familiar with the name Cantor-Fitzgerald and how those names will forever be linked to 9/11.

How after that day, some good, decent people had their lives made more difficult simply because of the way they looked or the religion they chose to practice.

That for probably the first time in our country’s history, we had a surplus of blood donations that were meant for survivors- survivors who didn’t exist.

That it wasn’t just the Twin Towers but our Pentagon and who knows what other landmark I would have had to include in that list had it not been for those brave people on flight 93.

That for years after that day, every time I boarded a flight for work my palms started to sweat and even now I am reluctant to fly long distances because I know long flights, with full gas tanks, make the ideal weapon.

And I’ll tell her about the Oprah show that I went to that October that broke my heart. The new widow with a 7 month old baby inside her sobbed and contemplated what her life would be like raising a baby without her husband. My heart ached for her and still does. Every 9/11 I find myself wondering how she’s doing. Has she picked up the pieces? Has she been able to move on?

But for now, that’s enough. For now...

He's either delirious from sickness or just plain sweet

I came home early from my trip because Jack is sick. He has 103.5 fever and is throwing up. This morning he came down the stairs, all glassy eyed and pink cheeked. He sat down on the steps and with his lower lip trembling informed me, "I don't feel so good." I scooted up the stairs to give him a hug and as we sat there on the stairs hugging, he looked at the bone in his ankle and asked, "What is this bone?"

"It's your ankle bone." I replied.

Jack thought for a moment and asked, "Momma, does God make all the bones in our bodies?"

"Yes he does."

"And your skins, and your brains and your guts too?"

"Yes. Those too."

He sat up and looked me in the eye and said, "I think God makes our hearts so we can all love each other."

"Yes buddy. I think you are right on that one."

...and then I hugged him tighter.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A philosophical discussion on the solar system

According to Jack, "The sun is the most hottest thing in the world and the most powerful heat source." Megan tried to prove him wrong on a technicality that the sun isn't actually on Earth but oh SNAP! that little guy was too quick for Megan this time and he rallied with the accurate fact that he can see the sun from the earth.

To that fact, Megan countered with a profound response she likely learned from me- "Uh, well, uh" followed by uncomfortable silence. But then defense mechanisms kicked in and Megan attempted the belittlement tactic by telling him, "You'll learn that when you go to kindergarten."

Then, realizing that probably wasn't enough, she started calling up random facts about Pluto being a dwarf planet and how cold it would be there. And my personal favorite- without wearing your helmet...on Pluto...you probably couldn't breathe.

Transportation grades

Jack: In school we are learning about transportation. Transportation means getting you from one place to another.
Megan: I know what transportation is, Jack. Do you know what the Titanic is?
Jack: Uh, no.
Megan: The Titanic was a big boat that people were on that got them across the ocean.
Me: Well, uh...not really.
Jay: Yeah, the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.
Megan: Good point. If I had to grade the Titanic, I'd give it an "F".

Officially a soccer mom

This weekend was Megan's first soccer game. I was a bit nervous as to how it would all go down because most of the other girls on the team have been playing for at least another year. That, and Megan only had two practices before her first game so I wasn't sure enough preparation had taken place. But she did pretty good if I do say so myself. She had a few good kicks and she ran in the same blob of girls as the rest of the pack so she didn't stick out. She had fun though, so that's the most important thing.
A few other highlights to note in the video below.
1) You'll notice Megan right away. She's the one picking the underwear out of her butt.
2) Jack was there and rooting her on. You can hear him screaming at the top of his lungs, "MEGAN!!! HI MEGAN!!!!"
3) Speaking of Jack, in the middle of the video, you'll see Jack's uh, "nature" stop pretty much in plain view of the 50 or so people on the soccer field. I didn't capture this part on tape but at one point, he apparently had his pants down to his ankles and his little white butt was hanging out.
4) If you are paying attention to the conversations in the background, that is my husband referring to "banana hammocks" and commenting on the guy mowing the grass in the middle of the game with, "You need to mow right now, dude? Seriously? Seriously???"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It feels just like yesterday

I read a post a while back from Post Picket Fence that inspired me to reach out to old friends. When I was in high school, I had a tight group of girlfriends. There were eight of us that were inseparable. Over the years, as we graduated high school, went off to our separate colleges and started our lives as adults, we gradually lost touch.

When our 10 year high school reunion started to creep up on us, we decided the time had come to reunite. For some of us, we were still in touch (cliques within our clique) but for others, we only kept in touch by word of mouth as to the others whereabouts. We met the night before the actual reunion and after a few moments of awkwardness, we just slipped right back into our friendship. We laughed so hard we cried and being together again felt so natural that I think we all wondered how we had let our friendships lapse over the years. As we walked into the reunion, old classmates commented to us, "Oh man, you all still hang out together???" And although we had only been back together as a group for less than 24 hours, in some ways it seemed like no time had passed at all.

Last night I went to dinner with these girls. These girls who know me, at my core. Most of us made it to the dinner, a few did not.

These girls are my history and we try, as best as our busy lives allow, to make sure on some level that we remain a part of each other's future. Even if we don't talk every day or see each other as often as we'd like, I do value their friendship so much. It's so rare to have friends that know all your quirks, that have seen you from the very beginning of your adolescence-who have seen you at your worst and at your best. These are the girls who knew my family for what it was- both good and dark. These are the girls who helped form the person that I am today.

Even now, as I write this, so many memories come flooding back.

I remember us all hugging and swaying to the music of "I'll be there for you" by Bon Jovi not caring how cheesy we looked or that anyone else at the party existed for those 3 1/2 minutes.

I remember some of us in our cheerleader and Pom Pon uniforms out on a "scavenger hunt" and seeing the red flashing lights of the police car as one of us was stuck hanging from the street sign we were trying to, uh "borrow".

I remember when a classmate of ours was killed by a train seeing one of us cry for what I think might have been the first time. She was the one who always laughed, not cried but we put our arms around her and shared her fear and grief and realization that we are all mortal and here for a finite period of time.

I remember getting in ridiculous fights over pickles and clothes and getting "blown off" but knowing all the while that we would work through it.

I remember laughing so hard that we wet our pants (okay, well it was me who wet my pants but everyone was laughing really hard, too) while tee peeing a classmate's house for like the 4th weekend in a row.

I remember using the Ouija board and convincing ourselves it was real. We were so freaked out that a friend's sister's boyfriend took full advantage and put a chicken foot in the couch and we thought for sure it was the devil who put it there.

I remember the cross country road trip to Virginia Beach for spring break when our car, The Killer Lemon, died on us. We were afraid of the mechanic and one friend turned and looked at us cross eyed and whispered, "Make yourself look ugly."

I remember leaving my house every morning for school at least 30 minutes early so I could make the rounds and pick up some of the girls just so we could spend more time laughing and gossiping together.

I remember all of us saying we were spending the night at someone else's house just so we could stay out all night long doing things we shouldn't.

Those are just a few of my thousands of memories with these girls. But now, I get the privledge of seeing these girls turn into women. It's funny to see these women whose hair I used to hold back while they puked share pictures of their growing families or hear about their promotions at work or their determination to chase their dreams.

Next year is our 20 year high school reunion and that reunion for most of us will mean we've been friends for over 25 years.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The boy needs to figure out how to pronounce Deck...pronto

We just got back from a relaxing weekend at Grand Bear Lodge. We rented a huge cabin and 13 of us stayed together and spent family time together celebrating my in-laws 40th wedding anniversary. The weekend consisted of laughing, stories, food, Wii, food, water park, food, cocktails, Wii, napping, water balloon fights, food and more food.

It was a nice mix of togetherness combined with everyone doing their own thing. The resort had a little train that would come around and you could hop on it and get a ride to the water park. My sister-in-law Lori and I jumped on the train one morning with Megan and Jack. As we rode along through the resort, Megan commented on some of the condos that were available.

Megan: I like those buildings.
Me: Oh really? Why?
Megan: They have those really big decks. I like those big decks.
Jack: Yeah, I like the ones with the big dicks too.
***At this point, I looked over at Lori with a Did-I-just-hear-what-I-thought-I-just-heard? look and one look at her face confirmed my suspicions. Lori and I from this moment on avoided eye contact and I muffled my laughter***
Megan (exasperated): Jack! It is pronounced DECK, not DICK.
***More muffled laughter from me and Lori***
Jack: I know. That's what I said.
Megan: No Jack. You didn't say DECK, you said DICK.
Jack: I do like those dicks. I like the small ones and the big ones too.

And while Lori and I giggled like teenagers at the conversation taking place, I also was reluctant to intervene because their pure innocence was something I wanted to preserve. Neither one of them had a clue about the alternative meaning of their conversation. From their perspective, they might as well have been having a discussion about the pronunciation of To-may-to vs. To-mah-to.