Archive | July 2012

One Decade

Today marks a momentous event.  It’s the day my daughter was born, ten years ago.  Needless to say I am still having difficulty with the fact that she is 10 now.  I realized how much I am having difficulty when she came downstairs Saturday morning before her party with eye shadow and eyeliner on.  AT TEN YEARS OLD. Of course she knows she is not allowed out with make up but that doesn’t stop her from applying shiny layers of garish pink to her lips every night and carefully patting it off on little scraps of paper which she leaves thoughtfully all over her dresser.

Although today is the actual BIG day, and I should probably stock up on hair dye since I’ll be needing that in the next year or nine of tween and teen drama, we did have a small party for her on Saturday.  Having a summer birthday has always been a bit difficult since many of her friends are on vacations or at grandparent’s houses.  Fortunately three of her good friends and a younger sibling (who happens to be a playmate of my youngest) were able to come for a little party.  Since we are all still obsessed with Harry Potter, she wanted another Harry Potter party.

Last year, I was up most of the night before preparing.  I had made signs, bought candy and made chocolate frogs, prepared a sorting hat and game, and even had a little Knockturn Alley with a plastic eyeball and skull candle.  It was a fantastic party with wandmaking and lots of butterbeer (cream soda).

This year I didn’t have the energy and because my daughter was turning 10, I told her she could do most of the prep work.  The party was a smaller one, with a lot less decorating but the energy level was about the same.  That’s always a good sign.  Unfortunately it rained almost the whole day.  Fortunately it stopped a few hours before the end so we all were able to take her aunt’s suggestion of using the pool.  What a wonderful suggestion that was!  I don’t think my ears could take the noise much longer.   In spite of the rain and strange-looking ‘Hogwarts castle’ cake , The girls had a great time and I overheard my daughter telling her dad it was an “Awesome Party”.

The next day we spent recovering at my parents house and celebrating my mother’s birthday (which is also today).  I barely moved from the couch and dozed off several times.  I wondered briefly, if my own mother had felt this way on my tenth birthday.  But then I must have fallen back into a doze.

I think back to when I was ten years old, and it really doesn’t feel that long ago.  But I guess it really was.  My daughter is becoming such a young lady now.  She is her own funny, intelligent and talented person.   It’s a scary ride. I’m not sure that I like it going this fast, but I don’t think I can slow it down.  I only hope that the next ten years don’t go as fast, but I rather think they will.

County Fair!

Despite the triple-digit temperatures which have become so common this year, summer has always been my favorite season.  I actually don’t mind the triple-digits too much either, as long as there is a pool handy.  Even a kiddie pool will make me happy.  In the season of high humidity and temperatures which verge on oven-like, the county fairs come to town.  Last year, the county fair took on a whole new meaning with my daughter involved in 4H and the small animal groups.  We spent a lot of time standing in a blistering hot tent with a bunch of rabbits and guinea pigs.  Not to mention an extremely antsy and bored 5-year old.  It was still fun and we still went on some rides.  This year however, my oldest red-head decided to forgo the fair in favor of a gymnastics class.  So, I took the little one.

Here is my clumsy attempt at a picture of the fair from a distance.  (I’m a writer not a photographer)

As luck would have it, it was a cool cloudy day.  Yesterday was quite literally 100 degrees, and today, a breezy 78 degrees.  I almost wished my oldest had decided to come to the fair, since it was so pleasant outside.  But that passed as soon as I saw my youngest tearing out the door of the car  in her eagerness to get to the fair.  (Besides, I  have seen my girls both doing acrobatics and I know they love it too much to pass up) Only two years ago the fair moved headquarters to a much bigger field with nice barns, stands for the equestrian shows, and lots of room for the rides.

We parked and found our way to the entrance of the fair, the smell of trampled grass strong.  I always loved that smell because it reminded me of when my mother worked craft fairs when I was young.  Since we went early, it wasn’t that crowded yet and soon enough we wandered, tickets in hand, to see what fun cheesy rides they had this year.  There were several.  Some I got to go on, since my daughter doesn’t grow, and come even a two-year old could ride by themselves meaning she could as well.  I must say they were all pretty enjoyable.  We both agreed that the boat was one of our favorites.  It was one of the rides that swings up and then sideways a bunch of times.

After the rides, which were difficult to part with, we wandered over to the animal tents.  I grew up being fortunate enough to go to my county’s fair as a kid.  I remember the dust of the midway, the continuous roar of stock cars over the whole event, and of course the food.  Now I live in a town which is on the edge of a fairly rural part of the state, so there is a big emphasis on farming and agriculture.   Hey, we’re not called the Garden State for nothing.  Besides officially our county fair is called the FARM fair.  So yes, it has tractor pulls, sheep shearing contests, and even corn husking.

After all those rides and animal gawking, what could be better than some ice-cold root beer in an overpriced mug (souvenir of the fair of course) some cheese fries, kettle corn, and a cotton candy bigger than my daughter’s head?  Nothing could be better, except a sausage sandwich.  I’ll have to wait for the boardwalk for that one.

Now we are settled at home and my daughter is snug in her bed.  How she can sleep after inhaling all that sugar I’ll never know. Now we have a whole year to wait for the next fair.  And who knows, maybe she will even be big enough to ride the junior roller coaster.

What are your summer traditions?  Do you have a favorite fair in your town?

By the way, I really hope someone caught my credit to Star Trek up there.

My daughters are actually fish

Every day I keep telling myself I am going to actually use a computer for something other than work (which has become busier than the Parkway on a hot summer day).  That happened once last week.  My laptop has sat on the kitchen table for the last week  amid a pile of Gregory Peck postage stamps (a gift) and some dingy papers with notes of story ideas scrawled on them.  I check my email through my phone once in a while but that’s about it.  I’ve become a hermit.  I have finally found some energy and time to sit down and commune with my laptop.  It was missing me, I think.

So as not to wander too far from the title, I’ll tell you, well, brag a little, about my daughters and their fish like swimming skills.  Growing up, I was in the pool on a daily basis and also on the local swim team for several years, so swimming skill was taken for granted in the 8-year-old set.  However, my daughters do not attend any pool on a regular basis.  Until this year, summer camp consisted of a twice weekly day trip for a few hours.  The girls frequented their grandmother’s house too, which has a beautiful pool.  I have considered getting formal lessons for them for a few years, but something always took precedence.  Seeing them this weekend at their grandmother’s house however, I think they must be part fish.  They have red hair, so maybe they are descendents of the Disneyfied little mermaid.

For anyone who lives in the Northeast it was a hot sticky day and perfect for a poolside party.  Not having the good fortune to see them swim all the time, I was not surprised at their swimming ability but at their skill at using the ability to jump and dive. Ok maybe I was a little surprised at the ease with which my 6-year-old flung herself into the deep end and bobbed around.  They certainly have not mastered any of the traditional strokes, freestyle or butterfly, but they skittered through the water like little minnows.  I had a wonderful time sitting and watching them throw themselves through inner tubes into the water.  Their natural ability did make me wonder if maybe I should get them some swimming lessons after all.  But there is always next year.  And I would prefer, with all of our busy schedules to keep some time this summer for unstructured fun.  If the weather gets any hotter, I think we’ll all be swimming until December at this rate.

I helped a young author

All writers should help each other out.  Well, all people should really help each other out, but that’s not going to happen any time soon, so I’ll stick with the smaller group. 

A few weekends ago I went to Baltimore for the day.  It was hot and sticky.  No surprise for the summer of 2012.  After walking around the Inner Harbor and having lunch, it was time to try to cool off .  There’s really no better place to do that than a bookstore.  Unless you try the aquarium which is also probably kept at temperatures nearing the freezing point.  (By freezing point I mean 72 degrees F) 

After entering the cave like dimness of the bookstore, I bumbled around for a while letting my transition glasses do their thing and become un-tinted.  I think I managed not to run into any people.    Anyone who has been in the Barnes and Noble’s in Baltimore knows it’s the biggest bookstore in the known universe.  I try to stay out of book stores for the most part.  I tend to come away with a much lighter wallet and more books to add to the growing piles around the house.  After leafing through some unknown books in the clearance bins and some really tempting sci-fi stuff (not clearance), I rounded a corner and saw a young guy sitting alone at a table with a pile of books.  I couldn’t see what it was but the cover looked colorful and so I neared for a closer look.  The guy smiled and we regarded each other for a moment.  I glanced at the book and saw it was a young adult type adventury fantasy thing.  Right up my alley.  My daughter’s too, who I can easily use as an excuse when I check out library books for both of us.   I gave him another tentative smile and went on my way, ascending to the next level of the store thinking that I really should check the book out on Amazon and see if there were any others in the library. 

The book kept nagging at me though and eventually after making a circle of the second floor, I just had to go back.  This time, after reading the back, it definitely grabbed my attention.  I spoke to the author for a few minutes, now joined by his even younger looking wife.  (I found that out after reading his little bio)  He said it had taken over 4 years just to do the first draft.  That made me feed fairly normal since I was going into my fifth year and already on the second draft.  He was also an english teacher for middle school kids, and probably not as young as he looked.  I wished him good luck as he signed the book and he wished me all the success I could have as well.  That night I checked the book out.  It was a fun read.  My daughter liked it for the most part, but I think it’s more geared for 11-12 year olds. 

 This author, Andy Hueller has written two books, (Dizzy Fantastic and her Flying Bicycle and Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth- the one I got) and I am sure he will write many more.  I am glad that I helped him just a little bit by buying the book, even at retail prices and even though I had made a vow to stick to library books.  Please check these books out if you are still a kid and love  fun fantastical and quirky books.  Or if you have kids.  That works too.

My Shopping Splurge

Never let me go to Target alone when there are sales about.  Oh hold on, there are always sales at Target.  Since I generally shop for my basics in the grocery aisle of Target instead of the more expensive food stores, this is going to be a hard rule to follow.  Actually this time I did not behave too badly.  I did my customary food shopping last thursday during lunch break at work.  I usually do, since I don’t want to deal with the crowds on the weekend or drag my red heads, who make me buy even more.   I had my list, and my environment friendly bags.

Uh-oh…stop the cart!  Clearance 50% off sale in the girls department and my youngest needs shorts.  So I checked out the racks.  I mean can you ever walk by a 50% off rack without stopping?  Of course not.  There were even clothes in her size.  I picked up three pairs of shorts and two skirts.  She is really into skirts.

I did get the food order done as well. 

First we tried on the pair of cute little purple and blue shorts.  Too tight.  OK I can live with that. They were only two dollars.   They can go to the homeless shelter or even the second-hand store.  Hmm, maybe the cat will fit into them. 

Next we try the neon yellow shorts with the yellow striped tee-shirt I got for her on clearance two weeks ago.  Her favorite color is yellow.  Too Big!  Huh.  Same size too.  I am used to this since at 6 years old she still has some 4T’s in her closet.   This is no big deal.  I will just put a little piece of elastic in the waist  and I am sure next summer she will fit into the shorts just fine. 

Shopping disaster you ask?  Nope, the two skirts fit perfectly.