Friday, September 16, 2011

misty watercolor memories

This post is for Anna. The rest of you will find it really boring.

Grandma Ballard's house. I don't want to forget the details. Fill in what I have missed and correct what I have wrong.

You pull in the driveway and a rusty mailbox is on the right. Big yard on both sides of driveway. Some big rocks on the left? There's a cherry tree near the driveway and a plum tree that grows little tiny really dark plums. Push doorbell. It's round and white. Garage door opens. White and wood paneling station wagon on left. Golf cart or El Camino or empty on right. Lots of tools and grease. Smells like dirt and grease and cars. Open door that has like a frosty diamond pattern. Shelves on right. Oh man, what I wouldn't give to go through all that stuff now. I'll bet there were some awesome treasures in there. (I have a feeling I'm going type those two above sentences over and over in this post.) Laundry and freezer on left. Messy and cluttered but I never really gave the mess a second thought when I was growing up. Stairs going up, were they gray? I think they were gray or brown. White walls. Was every room in the house white? Did they not believe in color?

Up the stairs. Railings were wooden and smooth. Kitchen on right. Dark cupboards. Light counters. Hexagon rugs on floor? Octagon? Orange and brown? Cheap table with vinyl chairs that had a big vinyl button in them. Am I remembering that right? Old stand mixer. Giant salt and pepper shakers on the stove. Super old stove and fridge. Freezer on bottom. Stuff piled up. Dishes were white with blue flowers. Wish I knew the name of the pattern. Pans were hung on the wall. Remember that pantry built in the wall with the doors? There was a hanging on the wall that I can't picture. Grandad always said the prayer. Something like, "For this food we are about to eat, may the Lord make us truly grateful. Amen."

Outside kitchen, hallway to bedrooms on left, living room on right. Mirror on wall. Full length. Wall hanging with owls? Living room had big gray? couch. Two chairs. Table between them with a lamp that looked like the glass was cracked in it. But that was just the style. Mail on table with letters Grandma would save for other people to read. Organ. Fireplace. Pictures of grandkids on mantle. Red recliner across room next to something old. Some kind of cabinet. Picture on wall was people getting married with big old frame. Another table with pictures of grandkids. Next room had big clock that I would give my first born to see again. (Sorry Emily.) Grandma's chair and yarn. Couch with flower slipcover. Remember those vinyl pillows stacked up in bright colors? A TV. Another organ. Bookshelves with books and photo albums. Toys. Red truck toy that was like a wrecker or something. I can't picture the other toys but I know there were more. Was there a picture of a duck and a gun? Or was that in big room? Sewing plant room. Bench next to window to sit on. All windows with lots and lots of plants. More shelves with stuff and sewing machine. Ironing board. Hanging plants. Exercise bike.

Dining room with most beautiful dining table and chairs. Give second born to own that. Side table. Hutch. Wish I could go through that. More plants. Chairs by window. Can't remember what they were made out of. Chandelier was glass.

First bedroom was small. Double bed? White chenille bedspread. Several dressers and a closet all of which I wish I could see what was in it. Second bedroom two twin four poster beds...third born for those. White bedspreads. Two dressers. Fourth born for the mirror and brush set that sat on one of the dressers. LOVED that mirror and brush set. Fifth born for the old electric alarm clock that sat on the bedside table. What was in those dressers and closet? Treasures untold, I'll bet.

Grandma's room fuzzier. Didn't go in there as much. Big bed. Dresser. Grandad's coin purse on dresser. Grandma's jewelry behind door.

There was a book there about a little girl named Penny that goes to church. I would give sixth born for it. Glad I have so many kids.

Bathroom had weird hanging light. Rug on floor. Doorstop was baby food jar with water and fake flowers in it. Mirror on wall. Fancy towels and shower curtain. Mint green?

Saving yard for another post.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Unit, One Team, One Family

I wrote this article for the Plymouth-Canton Steeler newsletter.

We've been hearing every week about what it means to be a Steeler Dad. It's very wonderful how you all love the smell of leather and the sound of helmets bashing together.

But, what does it mean to be a Steeler Mom?

Being a Steeler Mom means that at any given time there are cups floating in the suds in your bathroom sink. I don't mean drinking cups. Sometimes they can be found on the floor of the family room. Even in your purse.

Being a Steeler Mom means that at 4:30 at least 4 days a week, you will spend at least 15 minutes trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle of protective gear in pockets that don't seem designed to hold them. You will also break your nails threading a belt through very small holes. Obviously men designed this system.

Then at 4:45, your kitchen will look like it was napalmed with ice and water as your kids get their water buckets ready for practice. And your ice maker will forever be empty from this day forward until the end of practices.

At 4:50, boys will start getting nervous because they don't want to be to be late even though they are on time every time.

Around 7:30, they re-invade your home smelling like a combination of sweat and dirt and other stinky smells and dump their stuff in their gear buckets and are famished. Your kitchen table must look like a Hogwarts feast in order to satisfy their appetites.

Being a Steeler mom means you are always doing laundry because gear always needs to be washed. It also means constantly looking for long black socks and hoping they never get lost in the shuffle.

It means standing at the fence and watching them run around the field and seeing your son trying to keep up and hearing him cry a bit as he approaches you and you make eye contact and know at that moment you have two choices: a.) Run out there and grab him and tell him "lets go for ice cream" and never make him do anything hard again or b.) Cheer him on and swallow option a, knowing that quitting never helped anyone.

It means watching your 13 year old son diet to make weight and run with a sweatsuit in the middle of August to sweat the extra 2 pounds out of himself on game day.

It means their fingernails are never clean.

It means their arms and legs are full of bruises.

It means your car is full of mud and dirt and old newsletters and wrappers.

It means your wallet is empty because they need cleats, football haircuts, athletic supporters, Steeler sweatshirts and food from the Snack Shack each week.

It means saying a prayer every time your son is snapping, catching, or carrying the ball or hitting another person or being hit by other people.

It means standing up in the stands when a player is down and hoping to God it's not your son and feeling bad because then it means it's some other mom's son.

It means listening to loooong discussions on paratroopers, 40 40's, burpees, bull in the ring, black 0, gold 0 and what mood Coach Lanava was in at practice.

Being a Steeler mom means after the game they come and find you first out of everyone and you can tell immediately how they did. Sometimes their faces gleam with happiness and they hug you so hard and tell you this is the best day of their lives. Sometimes their eyes are brimming with tears they are trying to hold back and they hang their heads and tell you they are so disappointed they lost.

Being a Steeler mom means knowing that your boys are in the most competent hands five days a week learning what it means to be a man because they have some of the most excellent examples around.

Being a Steeler mom means loving the game of football even though sometimes it makes no sense and seems a little barbaric.

Most of all, being a Steeler mom means being willing to make sacrifices for your children. Sacrificing your time and energy and money so that they can participate in a program that does a most excellent job at turning them into dependable, hard-working, polite and respectful young people.

Being a Steeler mom means holding your head high and having a certain amount of pride knowing your son has what it takes to be a Steeler player.

I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sooner or later, we all go to the zoo.

I love the Toledo Zoo. It's my favorite zoo that I've ever been to. For our family to go to the zoo, it would cost more than we have. I've been wanting to go. Cameron has never been to a zoo. Poor child! Last week, the Toledo Blade gave Chris 10 free tickets to the zoo. I was beside myself with excitement. I would find myself singing the Raffi zoo song at odd moments. I fantasized about the flashlight fish. And the baby elephant! The baby elephant! I was jazzed.

We decided to go on Labor Day. It was a wonderful, fun trip. We took our own lunches and didn't spend any money on anything else. We saw orangutans, polar bears, giraffes, tigers, lions, elephants (baby and big), snakes, hippos, birds, fish, turtles, penguins, sloth bears, apes, cheetahs and bald eagles.

The Toledo Zoo has changed a lot over the years. I was walking around remembering so many things that were different when I was younger:

Entering the zoo through the subway tunnel and yelling to hear the echo
Hearing the sound of the peacocks all over the zoo
The train tunnel that had a black light
The seals where the penguins used to be that would swim and play all the time
The smell in what is now the "Carnivore Cafe"
The petting zoo that had more than just goats
The giant tortoise
Sunday night symphony concerts at the Amphitheatre
I know there used to be another ride besides the train and carousel. Does anyone remember what it was?

I'm so glad we got to go. It was a great day. Thanks, Toledo Blade!

You can see some pictures of our trip here.

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