Archive for June 2008

Gotcha Day 2008

June 30, 2008

Fourteen years ago today, this was the scene at the international terminal at our metro airport. It was the hand off of the smiliest, cutest little bundle of Korean joy ever. He had a head full of hair, one deep dimple and eyes that totally disappeared when he smiled. I had gotten him first….and then my Mom…..and finally his Dad. Best way ever to give ‘birth.’ No spinals. No stitches. No ice chips. Just open your arms and BINGO. Instant parenthood. Unconditional love. Right from the get go.

And today, this was the scene at another of our favorite restaurants. Same kid. Same dimple. Same Dad. Same head of hair…not. Parting with previous ‘Gotcha Day’ traditions (pick of places for dinner, choice of a family activity), this year we gave him a ‘gift.’ Five whole days of being an only child again. Sigh.

TODAY was the day we dropped his sister off at the greatest summer camp EVER. Dad is home from work. Mom is off on summer vacation. Okay, so it wasn’t actually PLANNED this way but I am a ‘seize the moment’ kind of gal. Opportunity unexpectedly arose. Besides, the agenda now is to smother him with so much attention and affection so he will actually be GLAD to see the Princess on Thursday.

Wish us luck. : )

And how was YOUR day?

June 27, 2008

At a message board I visit, people were comparing the activities of their days. Dentist visits, shoe shopping, college classes, writing all fit in somewhere. Here is a rundown of what MY days have been like this week…..every day.

8 am Wake up kiddos and ask if they want breakfast
8:10 Chocolate chip pancakes in the pan and onto plates
8:20 Jump in shower
8:30 Dry/curl hair, dress
8:40 Jump in car to drive princess to band camp
9:00 Drop Princess off at the middle school
9:20 Buy a Gatorade at the market for Prince, coax/reassure/humiliate him that he does NOT suck at soccer, remind him that he is playing with kids 2,3 and 4 years OLDER.
9:45 Sit in front of high school soccer field to wait for someone for him to walk in with so he doesn’t feel like a ‘dweeb’.
10:00 Watch Prince saunter to soccer field with other freshman dweebs for a ‘volunteer’ Soccer practice.
10:30 Sit in a hot car at the middle school parking lot to watch Princess march with middle schoolers practicing for a holiday parade.
10:37 Smile/wave/take pictures/wipe away sweat streaming down face.
10:45 Smile/wave…again…as band comes back up the parkinglot drive.
10:49 Read new favorite novel.
11:00 Pick up Princess and a friend from Band Camp
11:03 Listen and nod aimlessly to a discussion about who is ‘hotter’ – Josh Hutcherson or the kid with the drum.
11:04 Listen to them hoot when I say that I am hotter because I was sitting in the car.
11:15 Drop friend off at home. Chat with friend’s mom.
11:30 Drive to high school to retrieve Prince while singing along with Princess’ new favorite Faith Hill song.
11:33 Count blessings that it is Faith HIll and not Miley Cyrus….again.
11:47 Sit in hot car waiting for Prince and watching Princess flirt with a school friend who is taking a tennis lesson. Wipe away more sweat.
11:50 Sit up straight and wipe away more sweat with the sudden realization that she KNOWS how to flirt.
12:00 Watch Prince saunter off soccer field with older high school soccer friends. No longer a dweeb….for now.
12:04 Try – in vain – to get Prince to recount how practice went.
12:30 Take Prince and Princess swimming/bowling/movies/driving range for ‘fun’. Spend too much money. Read a few more pages of new favorite novel when they aren’t looking.
3:30 Return home. Relax and read mail.
3:32 Smile when Prince says he did really, really good as a goalie during practice. Refrain from saying ‘I told you so.’
3:35 Remind Prince of ‘no television’ rule, tell Princess ‘later’ when she asks to ride her bike ‘a little while’.
3:38 Ignore Prince’s whine/argument about the ‘no television’ rule.
3:45 Start dinner meal for HRH. Recount everything done for ‘them’ when there is argument about setting table for dinner.
3:55 Demand that SOMEONE set the damn table.
3:57 Tell Princess she may NOT ride her bike to the ‘little store’ until tomorrow. Respond to Prince’s argument/whine about ‘no television’ rule.
3:58 Ignore the slam of a door as Prince goes to his room.
3:59 Tell Princess she may NOT ride her bike around the block right now….even though she did set the table.
4:00 Kiss HRH as he comes in the door.
4:05 Pitch dinner at HRH’s head when he dares to say, “It must be nice to be on summer vacation.”

Bob Wernet’s Super Chief

June 26, 2008

Every family has one, I am sure. The little greasy spoon…restaurant dive….that holds memories galore. For my children and I, it’s this place. The Super Chief. Foot long coney dogs with buttery grilled buns and messy, mild chili. The greasiest, best tasting onion rings in the world. Cherry cokes still made with real cherry syrup and bits of real cherries in the bottom of your cup that plug up your straw. I don’t think I have ever had anything else there in….forever. I know we went for breakfast one Saturday once…but it wasn’t the same.

We had an argument today about how many people the place holds. I said 33 but the Prince said I am imagining things. HE says it’s less. At any rate it’s small. They have added a small patio with picnic tables for the summer months. Maybe 4 tables. The cozy crowdedness is actually part of it’s charm. We have never had to wait for a seat. And there is always a steady stream of customers.

The Super Chief has been a favorite of my family’s for a good long while. Back then it was a drive in. You pulled your car in and someone came out to take your order. Food was brought to your car on a tray that balanced on your half open window. The perfect place for a summer evening dinner. I am not sure when they moved to this building. It may even have been a move back. My dad used to stop in for chili dogs when he was still driving a truck….way over 50 years ago. Once we gave my dad a tee shirt form the store as a Christmas gift. He was wearing it in Daytona Beach, Florida and was stopped by someone who knew the place. So they chatted a while. Memories….and chili dogs.

When my son was about 4 years old and my parents were visiting from their new home in Florida, we went for lunch. I remember him in shorts and a tee shirt, feet in tennies swinging, as I explained our family history with the place while my dad leaned against the counter and talked with deceased owner’s wife. My son had a quizzical little look on his face for a moment and then said. “Pop brought you hera when you were a yiddle girl….and now you are bring me hera.” The frown deepened a little. My guy. At four he had figured out a new concept. Continuity….and chili dogs.

The restaurant is right around the corner from the building where I would spend hours working on materials for my classroom every summer. I would drag the kids there, set them to work and promise them the work session would be followed by a visit to the Super Chief. One such late summer day we sat in a tight corner booth having a rollicking conversation as we sipped away on cherry cokes. The Prince and I had discovered a – then new – Lewis and Clark coin in my change purse. We were talking about how cool it was when the Princess piped up with some comment. The Prince was rather disdainful and told her she didn’t even know about Lewis and Clark. She informed him that she did so. It was Superman! Heh. (Before school routines involved watching a bit of ‘LOIS and Clark’ on television every morning.) That particular day a very well dressed lawyer type woman who had been reading the paper at the table next to us during our exchange, stopped by to tell me how much she had enjoyed my family that day. Heh. That’s the type of place it is. No secrets…..and chili dogs.

Another time we were there during the winter. Just the kids and I…again. Funds were a little tight that day and I knew she wouldn’t finish a whole foot long chili dog, so I planned to eat part of the Princess’ meal. When the waitress came to take our order, she asked if I wanted anything. When I said no, the Princess burst out that we didn’t have enough money. Well, two orders of onion rings, three foot longs, three cherry cokes and no bill later….we were the recipients of the owner’s generosity… something she does all the time, I was assured. Heh. Heartfelt generosity….and chili dogs.

Bob Wernet no longer owns the Super Chief. Neither does his wife. Bob passed away in 2002. The new owners have pledged to run it just as it has always been run. And just to make sure, Bob’s wife shows up for work there – every day. She has a huge candy bucket that comes out when kids are handy. The same Native American art works hang on the walls. Cheesy paintings of perfect people with feathers in their hair. There is a sculpture of Chief Pontiac on a shelf over the drink dispenser. And a drawing of Bob on the wall next to it. We took a friend with us this time. And a camera. I planned to take pictures for this blog entry. Unfortunately, we forgot to get a picture of the chili dogs before we ate them. Heh. Guess you will have to see one for yourself! Onion rings….and chili dogs

Bob Wernat’s Super Chief is located at 340 W Walton Blvd , Pontiac, MI
And they do take outs too. Phone – (248) 333-2028

A Foot

June 20, 2008

When he was a baby I was fascinated with his hands. I tried and tried to capture that sweet softness, busy-ness and squishy loveliness of his hands with my camera. Never could come close. Now that he is older I am fascinated with his feet. He is embarassed when I pull out my camera and does not want his picture taken….at all. So I have to content myself with an occasional sneaky shot. This time of a foot. A big foot really. A foot I used to stuff into socks and sandals and tennis shoes and snow boots. A foot that has worn out too many pairs of soccer cleats. A foot that actually danced with a girl last winter. A foot that is always on the move. You have to wonder where it’s going to take him in life. I do.

One down….

June 18, 2008

Gotta love a new coach who calls to thank you for selecting their club and tells you that your daughter ‘has the ‘head’ for soccer but also the ‘heart’.” He was amazed at how quickly she fit in with the others. She will be playing for $%@*&%!#& Community Soccer’s premiere U-13 team next year….and they are thrilled. So am I. Her team will practice at a school just 15 minutes away from home.


June 15, 2008

Dang but he was short……and cute. The Prince is the one in the yellow shirt. This was a game between the big kids and the little kids as a season ender fun day. And the end of the dual season. We were in the middle of our adoption paperwork for Nina and I couldn’t remember where I signed him up to play. Turned out to be both the YMCA and the local soccer club. Heh. One was full out, full team soccer and the other was 3 on 3. We were going to pick the one he enjoyed the most but ended up playing both. Practice/games four days a week. Fun….and funny when they are small.

Soccer Musings…..

June 14, 2008

We played our last games with WAZA Flo today. WAZA is Japanese for ‘technique’. When the kiddos were younger and went to summer soccer camp, ‘remember your WAZA!’ was sort of like a battle cry. And it was a good one. The Princess has played for this soccer club for four and a half years and her brother for two. The practice field has changed twice in that time and we have driven close to an hour each way two or three times a week….for practice. This year we were lucky that another family from school decided to play there as well. Car pooling became the name of the game. However, sky rocketing gas prices – among other things – have led us to decide to find a club closer to home.

I didn’t expect to feel melancholy today but I did. Watching the Princess play in the HOT sun with soccer friends – some of whom she has played with for four years and others for two- was a little sad. They have come a long way as a team – together. They have all really grown up….and in some respects, out. Heh. Thinking about where they were as as eight year olds and now they are twelve and thirteen….where does the time go?

My soccer fiends have both gained so much in terms of skills and confidence with WAZA. Seeing what his sister was trained to do is what precipitated the Prince’s decision to switch soccer clubs. He went through alot of taunting and bullying at school for changing. He even had a circle from the old club tease and pester him from the sidelines during an actual game. He was tagged a traitor by kids who shouldn’t even be allowed to say the word. I thought staying out of it and teaching him to deal with it by ‘blowing it off’ was the way to go. After all, he was going to have to deal with the same sort of thing for the rest of his life, right? A friend taught me different when she stood up for her son….who was going through the same thing for the very same reason…by cornering the parents of the kids doing the bullying. It stopped. Sort of. MY lesson learned.

We have planned tryouts at three local clubs in the next week. We shall see where we actually end up……

The School Year Endth and the Summer Commences…..

June 12, 2008

It’s the last day of school. The Prince is at an amusement park 3 hours away with his fellow, newly graduated 8th graders. The Princess is at a local rollerskating rink with her fellow 6th grade buddies. They will be returning to school to eat pizza and watch a movie. I am at home. Listless and bored. I still have to peel a few things off the bulletin board in my classroom. I have covered my bookcase with paper to protect the books from dust and dirt and what not. Nothing like I have had to do in the past. I’ll get to it in another hour or so. No hurry.

Yesterday – at the last staff meeting for the shcool year – my principal asked that we share a ‘celebration’ for the year. What was something that had gone especially right for us? As they went around the large circle, I sat there pondering what my celebration would be. It would have to be the whole freaking year.

Last year at this time I was scurrying to empty out a classroom that I had inhabited for five years. There were boxes and cupboards and shelves and more boxes to be sorted through. I know that I pitched $5000 worth of books and teaching materials in the dumpster. No one wanted them. It broke my heart. There were other boxes and toys and books given to an incoming Kindergarten teacher. 26 years of teaching were honed into 6 plastic bins, one book shelf of books and one small cupboard shelf.It took many, many hours. Today I have to peel some things off a bulletin board, clear some names and files off some computer programs….and I am done. Finished for the year. Heh.

And I love my job. I LOVE my job. I LOVE MY JOB! It has been more creative and challenging than I ever thought possible. I have gone on an adventure where Kindergarteners dug their little fingers inside an open computer to see what they could pull out. Second graders were visually and vocally awed when I showed them something new to do. Fifth graders fairly burst with pride when I would study their project and then say ‘wait….show me how you did that again…’ Fourth graders….ah those people pleasing, ever positive fourth graders…truely delighted in becoming independent and productive and sucessful in the Tech Lab. I can’t wait for school to start again.

Between now and then are eleven weeks of camps and events and vacations. I will be in the road to soccer tryouts, band camp, skateboard camp, soccer camp, Youth Police Academy, sleepovers, etc. We are going to Boston in August. We are hoping to get a little bit of camping in as well. And I can’t wait for school to start. Maybe I will feel differently in August. The Prince heads to high school in September. Yikes.

Go Figure

June 9, 2008

The Princess and I had a wonderful day together on Saturday. The Prince had spent the night with a friend and was not going to be home till late afternoon. Her daddy was working so we decided to check out a skateboard shop someone had told us about. It was about a 45 minute drive from home. Nice place. LOTS of board choices and she found one she had been eyeing online for a while. She was willing to empty her summer vacation money fund to get it and I was feeling pretty amiable so I agreed. We were driving home and she was caressing it and chattering on about it. Struts and bearings and grips. My daughter. A skateboard. Heh. Not exactly what I expected.

I have been a doll lover from the get go. Patty Play Pal. Chatty Cathy. Barbie. Tiny Tears. I had them all. And I played with them. My sister will tell you that she learned more about history by playing Barbies with me than she ever did from a textbook. We contructed Conestoga prarie wagons from shoe boxes so Barbie and Ken could travel the Oregon Trail. We filled the bath tub with water and set them sailing on an ‘ocean white with foam’ as they became Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine. They were forever running away from the Nazis. The bendable wire in Tutti’s leg broke. No problem. We wrapped it in pipe cleaners and thread and the little doll became one of Sister Kenny’s polio patients. Heh. I was doing the history/doll thing LONG before the American Girl Doll company came up with Felicity and Molly and Kirsten and Samantha and the rest of that very expensive gang.

As an adult I discovered a tremendous ceative op in learning to make porcelain dolls. Made quite a few over the years. So did my mother and my husband. I have also made large rag dolls in the Raggedy Ann style…with my own face design and costumes. Sold a number of those. Made two of them several Christmases ago for my stepdaughter’s twins. Is it any wonder that I could barely contain my excitement at the thought of having a daughter to share that love with? Riiiight. But that’s not what I got.

Oh…my daughter likes dolls. From a distance. Or stuffed under her bed. Or shut away in her closet. I should have known when we first saw her in Russia. Two little girls in her orphanage family group were off playing with a play hospital set up in the corner of the playroom. SHE was rolling on the floor with the little boys, playing with several toy trucks. I had brought along a small Beanie Baby doll for her to play with while we traveled home. She was much more interested in using the travel sewing kit to put beads and trinkets on the doll’s little dress. She was five. When she could finally speak English well enough she said she has never liked dolls because they ‘stare at her’ all the time. Heh.

Well, I kept on plugging. She had a baby doll with a box full of clothes but didn’t really know how to play with her. Stuffed in the closet. She is not really into clothes at all so Barbie held no interest. Stuffed under her bed. On her first trip to Chicago – when she was eight – I was so excited to take her to The American Girl Place….where Felicity and Molly and Kirsten and Samantha and the rest of that expensive gang reside. Kind of snuck in there actually. She really had no clue. She and her brother were fascinated by all the ‘little’ stuff. Little guitars. Little hiking boots. Little lunchboxes and plastic foods. They were playing quite happily with a little school set in the middle of a room for ‘Hop Scotch Hill Kids’ dolls when she stood up. I was watching her face as she slowly gazed around at her surroundings. There were dolls on display along the tops of the showcases. On the shelves below were boxes and boxes of dolls with an oval cut out so you could see the face of the one inside. Faces. With open, glassy eyes. All around her. All staring at her. My daughter’s brows lowered and her hands balled into tight little fists. “Get…me….outta…here….this place is FREAKING ME OUT!” she began shrieking. Loud. VERY loud. And very clear. I grabbed her by the hand and we made our way – quickly – out of the store. Past the dolls with staring eyes. Past mothers and daughters with their dolls, heading for the doll boutique and the Tea Room where dolls had their own little seats at the table. Never tried to get her to take to a doll after that. Heh.

So now she is not quite thirteen, sitting in the car seat next to me caressing a new skateboard and chattering on. I guess I can learn to love it too. It has a drawing of a girl skateboarder on it after all. She is going to add the struts and wheels….and bearings…herself. MY daughter. Go figure.

(The picture is an old one…..when she was six. You probably can’t see that her tonuge is hanging out as she does this trick….a habit that still sticks today.)

Something New…..

June 9, 2008

It’s the last week of school. Only four more days. We have had snow days and ice days this year. Today – Monday – we are having a ‘Power Outage Day,’ courtesy of the storms that blew through here last night. Dang. I have never had such a day when we might be the only ones at the pool!