Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving snow

It snowed last night - I'm guessing three to four inches. Our wonderful next door neighbor already plowed most of our driveway. So on my way out to grab the newspaper, I had to clear only the sidewalk.

"Awww," AJ complained when he saw what I'd done. "I wanted to shovel."

Can you tell it's the first measurable snowfall of the year?

I reminded him there was still the area right outside the garage that needed to be cleared, and so after breakfast, the kids excitedly geared up in snow pants and boots and headed out the door. Knowing how they think and hoping to head off the disappointment early, I warned, "It's really fluffy snow. It's not the kind that works good for snowballs and snowmen."

I could have saved my breath.

Ten minutes later, Sydney was pounding on the front door. She can't turn the handle with her mittens on, and would never think to take her mittens off. I answered the door.

"Mom! We're making a snowman! I need stuff for it." ("Stuff" is code word for a carrot and whatever else can serve as facial features.)

"I told you, this snow is not going to work for that. Go play something else." 

I returned to the kitchen where I was attempting to make my first ever apple pie from scratch. Two minutes later Sydney was back, pounding on the front door.

"Mom! We're going to use stuff outside to make the snowman."

"Okay." (Did I need to know that?) "Come get me when you've got something for me to see."

Back to peeling apples. 

A few minutes later, more pounding. "Mom! We made a snowman, but we need a carrot!"

This I had to see. I grabbed a baby carrot and a red gummy worm. And my camera and boots. Sydney was excitedly waiting outside the garage. "We named it ..."

I couldn't understand the name. It sounded like either Alice or island. I was distracted by the sight of the driveway.

"I shoveled it!" Sydney told me proudly.

"Yeah, I can sure see that."

Around the corner we walked. And there was the snowman.

"It's kind of puny," AJ admitted.

"Puny" doesn't begin to describe the small mound of snow, half of which tipped over from the weight of the baby carrot.

AJ restacked with slightly better success.

"We named it 'eyeless'. Because it has no eyes," AJ said.

But of course.

They went on to build another snowman. And Sydney came running back inside several more times in search of "stuff". They named the new one Larry. For no particular reason.

I went back to baking my pie. It turned out like this:

I have happy, healthy, imaginative (and at least for this morning - cooperative) children. A wonderful husband who doesn't have to work today. A mostly shoveled driveway. And pie.

How could I not be thankful?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cutting our losses

Some time last winter, I think it was in March, Sydney decided she was ready for a new hairstyle. She'd been looking adorable in a bob for long enough and instead wanted her hair to look just like mine, which meant growing out her bangs.

I tried to talk her out of it. I knew it wasn't a fun process. But she was sure, and quite honestly, I thought it'd be sweet to look back one day and torment, I mean remind her, that she once wanted the same hairstyle as her mom. And so we started letting her go shaggy.

We did our best to keep the bangs off her face. For special occasions, I convinced her to sit still long enough for a french braid. But that didn't happen often.

By early summer, I debated whether to get my hair cut into bangs. It'd be a far easier solution if the goal was to look the same. 

But still we let those bangs grow. Ponytail bands worked okay.

As did barrettes and clips...

Hair bands, not so well...

Eight months later, Sydney's bangs are just about long enough to tuck behind her ears. But this weekend, she'd finally had enough.

"Mom, can I have a bob, again?"

"What?!?" The worst is over, I wanted to scream. All those months of shagginess are about to pay off. But then I remembered one key thing. It had been her idea to grown out her bangs in the first place. So let it be her idea to cut them off.

"I look normal, again," she said, looking in the mirror. But to everyone else, she looks different, and that's exciting to her.

"Jayce said I looked totally different," she excitedly announced last night after seeing a friend at her brother's hockey practice.

And then a new thought. "I wonder if Mrs. Durand (her first grade teacher) is going to recognize me."

"I'm pretty sure she will," I said. "And I'll bet she likes it."

Reading at bedtime last night, Sydney did an even better job than usual. "Do you suppose it's because you can see better without all that hair in your eyes?" I teased.

Sydney just giggled. There's nothing like eight months of trying something new to make you realize that what you had to begin with wasn't so bad after all.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Halloween isn't over until the pumpkins are off the porch

I'm not sure which is worse: that I'm just now getting around to writing about Halloween? Or that the jack-o-lanterns you're about to see are still sitting on my front porch?

Each year the kids get a little more independent at pumpkin carving, and a lot more opinionated regarding how they want it to look. Which means they start strong, and then want me to help once it becomes clear to them that they won't be able to carve anything too intricate on their own. But I do make them scoop out the innards on their own. AJ makes the most of it:

While Sydney tolerates this gooey but necessary step: (note the elaborate drawing Sydney had already created.)

This is the first year I trusted AJ with a knife.

Here are our finished masterpieces. What, might you ask, is up with that odd, non-carved gourd between AJ and me?

Why, that's the work of my dearly beloved, who clearly was not in a pumpkin-carving mood this year. It started at the store when we purchased our pumpkins. Jeff picked a bumpy gourd.

On the night we set aside for carving, Jeff had a hockey meeting and so missed most of the fun. When he got home, he quickly looked around for an alternative decorating idea.

And that's when he spied the bag of puffballs in Sydney's craft supplies. He grabbed a glue stick and was finished in about a minute.

While I give him points for creativity, I've got to say that when the lights go out, his technique just doesn't cut it.

Halloween night was cold and wet. My swamp zombie and Rapunzel bride went trick-or-treating with friends Noah (injured - note the real cast - football player) and Elizabeth (the blue fairy from Tinkerbell).

As always, they collected far more candy than they could ever possibly need. But it's all good. Because two weeks later, as I type this, I'm able to munch on M&Ms and Gobstoppers. Gotta love the sugar rush!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The proposal

Is it a sign that I'm getting old that I'm suddenly recognizing so many anniversaries of various key events? Tonight is one of them. It was 15 years ago this evening that I got what is probably the best surprise of my life. 

I was working in the newsroom at WDIO. It was two days after the election of Jesse Ventura as Minnesota's governor. It was the start of a sweeps month and I was writing a series piece on World War II veterans to air later. These are key details to know because had Ventura not been elected, prompting a whole lot of extra media coverage, this would have happened a day earlier. And had it been a regular day of reporting for me, I would have been a little more prepared (i.e. I would have combed my hair and re-applied my make up) when the producer came running up to me in a panic, "Dana! Denny's in the bathroom throwing up. We need you to read the six o'clock tease!"

After a frantic 60 to 90 seconds (that's all the warning I got), I was looking as presentable as I was going to get and had an ear piece stuck in my ear for this life-changing moment:

I got asked a lot afterward if I was surprised. I wasn't surprised he asked, because I knew we'd reached that point in our relationship. But I was absolutely stunned that he asked me in that way. Never in a million years would I have guessed he would have done something so public.

We'd actually gone out to dinner the night before, before I knew we had any reason to celebrate. Jeff had set it up earlier in the week, assuming we'd be engaged by then. But as previously mentioned, with the stunning election of a former wrestler as governor, there was to much news coverage of that to allow time for something fluffy like a live marriage proposal. And so he had to wait a day. And when we were done we celebrated by eating leftover chicken at his friend Tim's house.

And I couldn't have been happier. I still couldn't be all these years later.

It's good that we have the video. My mind and emotions were racing so fast that day that my memories weren't the most accurate. I told people that night what had happened, and then watched the video and realized what really had happened.

What happened was that a whole lot of people managed to work together and keep a secret. They snuck Jeff into the studio and wrote dummy scripts. Fellow reporters hid in the bathroom (one even went so far as to put curlers in her hair) so that it'd look like there was no other option except me to read that six o'clock tease. Amazing!

We watched the video tonight with the kids. One of these days I need to convert it from VHS tape to a digital file. Jeff remembered how nervous he was that night. To me, he seemed pretty relaxed. I thought it was me who seemed nervous - I can tell by my unnaturally high pitched voice.

The kids enjoyed the clip. When it was done, they wanted to see if I was still wearing the same ring Jeff had given me back then. I let Sydney try it on my engagement ring, after which Jeff put it back on my finger and asked if I would marry him again.

In a heart beat!