Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eating My Way Around Town

I had this initial insane plan that I would bring my workout DVDs with me to Ohio on "vacation" so I could exercise, eat right and lose weight while we are here. What is that sound? Hysterical laughter?

Anyway, on the plane the boys were talking about all of their favorite Ohio foods they couldn't wait to eat. Sad, I know. Things like Donatos Pizza, Graeter's Ice Cream, Jersey Mike's Subs and Marie's Candies were being shouted out from Row 27, seats D, E and F. I was right there with them actually--I've got the mushroom caps at First Watch on my list (I'm meeting a friend there for breakfast tomorrow so that's all taken care of). Then we discussed our favorite foods that were not from a restaurant--like Great Grandpa's homemade ice cream. I usually down about three bowls. People are amazed. Or perhaps appalled.

So this is what happened after our fight landed: We drove straight to Donatos. We did not pass go. We did not collect $200. But we did collect a large half cheese half pepperoni pizza. And we went to my Mom's and ate all of it.

But actually, before I even got to my pizza, I was shoveling in bites of Marie's Candy that Mom had "thoughtfully" purchased last weekend.

We were still chewing when we set off on foot for Graeters in Worthington. Mom is within walking distance to a Graeters. Danger! Danger! Danger! So I thought I'd get some sorbet. As if. I noticed peanut butter cup was on the menu and my resolve crumbled.

We rolled home and I think I probably munched some more Marie's. I didn't sleep well. I'm guessing indigestion.

I will say that I got up and did my workout Wednesday morning. I'm not sure why because it was more than negated when we got to Grandpa's. We had a great summer lunch--fresh tomatoes from the garden, marinated cukes and onions, homemade potato salad, sandwiches. I ate two helpings of everything, except the sandwich. Then it was on to the ice cream. I ate my bowl. I finished Declan's bowl. I finished Finn's bowl. I had another bowl. And two brownies. I waddled around the farm for the rest of the day.

Mom and I ate salad last night. Oops, but it was preceded by guacamole and chips. And some pico de gallo. Debbie came over to fit my dress which is now requiring additional alterations because of my guacamole tummy.

But then Mom and I devoured a huge bowl of popcorn watching the Olympics so I obviously wasn't too worried. Yet. But now I'm starting to panic that I'll be huge and bloated when we got to see the Jonas Brothers on Saturday. Because I'm sure they'll pick us out of the crowd and ask us to come backstage to meet them. At least that's what Marci and I are hoping--we're taking Declan and Marci's daughter Kendall to see those adorable Jonas boys. Sigh.

In vain, I exercised again this morning. Why? Ten more days of eating lies in front of me. Should I just stop and let the pounds fall where they may? Start fasting immediately and forget that Mom bought sushi for dinner? I'm back in Ohio just under 48 hours and all of my childhood (also adult) eating habits seemed to be hanging around here waiting for me like an old, unwelcome friend. Like a giant Marie's Candy just waiting to devour me. Ah well, there are worse way to go.

Here's what we've been doing so far:

Actually, last weekend, before we left, we had a visitor. This is Eamon, Eamonn's cousin. He's a pilot with NetJets. He flew into Eagle on Saturday and we got to spend the day/evening with him. We're actually back here in Ohio for Eamon's wedding on Aug. 30th. Actually, the wedding is in Michigan so we're road tripping from here to Niagara Falls for a few days before ending up in Michigan next week.

Declan at the airport before we departed. Eamonn had me take pictures of the boys so if one of them went missing I could immediately give the police a current photo. Frankly, I don't worry about it too much with Declan. . .

. . .it's THIS one you have to look out for. What do you think of his short new do? I got a little carried away with the scissors, but he seems to like it.

The boys at Graeters, Aug. 19, 2008. The amazing thing about Graeters is that it's always busy. Even in the dead of winter you see people in there. It's THAT good.

At Grandpa's. Their favorite thing is to ride the lawn tractor. Declan is actually a fairly good driver.

Declan and Great Grandpa. Great Grandpa is 95. His birthday party is Saturday. He still gets around.

Finn at the wheel. Not such a great driver, this one.

Finn and Great Grandpa. A little more driving intervention was required with Finn.

Declan tries to get away from Finn on the tractor.

Picking pears.

Picking tomatoes with Great Ruth. I just realized I forgot to itemize out all of the lemonade I drank. I'm sure those were harmless calories.

A dove in the walnut tree (as opposed to a partride in the pear tree).

The fruits (and veggies) of their labor.

The boys and Watson, Grandpa and Ruth's dog. He was more interested in having his tummy scratched or playing than posing for photographs.

Trying to photo Watson again. . .

The boys with Great Grandpa and Great Ruth. And Watson who really looks like he wants Finn to let go of his head.

Watson comes back from the end of the driveway the paper. Good dog.

Must run. Sushi is calling.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Me and My Big Ideas

Over the years, I've had a lot of good ideas that have just gone wrong. I'm one of those people who can't do anything halfway. If I learn about something new that really piques my curiousity, I go at it whole hog. For awhile. Then I do it sporadically. Then I realize that I have no idea what I'm doing and have likely wasted an inordinate amount of money doing whatever it is that I'm doing. Then I stop. I might try the thing again, just to be sure I'm really bad at it. Then I'll stop again.

There are a million things that come to mind. Like when I tried to cross stitch the entire Cincinnati skyline because I was moving to Cincinnati. When I first wanted to cross stitch, Erin was advising me because she was a big cross stitcher. I went to the store, found the skyline pattern, bought all the stuff and came home. Erin's comment: "Well, you might want to start with something a little simpler first." I didn't heed her advice and I think I ultimately completed the "C" in the cross stitch before giving up. All of that counting got to me.

On another occasion, Tara tried to teach me how to crochet these homemade dish cloths. A friend of my Grandma's made them for us for years. Then when she died, Tara took up the mantle. But I go through them pretty quickly, and even though Tara used to give them to me for my birthday every year, I thought I wanted to be able to whip one up whenever I wanted one. After trying to watch Tara show me how to even start the dishcloth, I was having heart palpitations and broke out into a cold, nervous sweat. I clicked and clacked those little stick things around for what seemed like a productive few minutes and all I was left with was a bunch of knots. I had to stop because it was giving me a complex.

Then there was the famous Harry Potter Qudditch Robe incident from last summer. When we lived in Ohio, Theresa did all of my sewing projects for me--like curtains for the boys rooms or putting blackout fabric on the curtains because the sun came roaring into their bedrooms in the afternoon and if they were in there napping at the time, they'd be frizzled like ants under a magnifying glass. So Theresa put the blackout fabric on there to stop the laser-like sunlight.

So anyway, once we moved, I didn't have anyone to sew for me. I convinced Eamonn I needed a sewing machine to do some little sewing projects. We got a good deal on a floor model from a cycling friend of Eamonn's who owns a vacuum cleaner/sewing machine store. I did my few little projects. Then I got big ideas. Which is bad. Very bad.

The Harry Potter #7 book release was approaching and the local bookstore was having a big party and costume contest. Aha! A challenge. The robe actually turned out pretty well, but the process was a nightmare. The pattern wasn't really for an authentic Quidditch robe (imagine that) and so I had to make all sorts of changes to the pattern. In addition, it was an adult size, so I was doing all these crazy things to make it fit Declan. Oh well, I thought, it's a robe so it's not like it needs to be perfect. No one will ever notice. On the outside, it looked great. If you looked at the inside, you'd see all sorts of wild and totally wrong stitching.

And I will also add that I find patterns so confusing that I sewed the hood wrong three, yes three, times before Eamonn intervened and pinned it the correct way for me. In the end, it was fine, but the process was nightmarish and I recall thinking something like: "Whew. I'm so glad I said I'd never make clothes."

Flash forward to May. We're going to Eamonn's cousin's wedding on Aug. 30th. I needed a dress, becasue heaven knows that living out here, I don't have anything appropriate in my closet to wear to a wedding. It's mostly fleece and cargo pants these days. Unfortuantely, I got an idea in my head of what kind of dress I wanted. The wedding is in Michigan at the end of August so something lightweight and cool was going to be key. So I shopped online and looked around, but wasn't finding anything that went with my "vision." Until one day I was in WalMart. And I saw a pattern for a dress that was exactly what I had envisioned. I couldn't believe it. AND, it was labeled "easy." Hey, I have a sewing machine, the pattern is labeled "easy," what's not to love?

For several weeks, Eamonn has been saying, "You need to start the dress." But there were things going on. My Mom and Erin visited. I had deadlines for work. I was sleepy. I wanted to watch TV. You know how it goes. One thing led to another. Besides, it just looked like two pieces of fabric stitched together. Eamonn, who grew up watching his mother sew, knew better. Heck, my mom pawned our sewing machine to my aunt for a little extra spending money so it's not like I had a great sewing diva to look up to.

Finally, last Sunday (a week ago), I started the dress. Problem #1: Not enough fabric. The fabric quantities on the pattern were reversed so it showed me that I needed more than a yard less than what I really needed. Bummer. I jumped in the car, drove 35 miles to Glenwood to buy more fabric. Fortunately, they had it.

Problem #2: I cut out the fabric according to the size my measurements said I should be. I pinned it together and put it on.

Eamonn: "Well, hello Mama Cass."

Literally, two of me could have fit in there. I cut it down another size--still a shapeless mumu.

Eamonn stepped in with his pins and went to work. He pinned it so that it was a more attractive mumu. However, because there isn't a zipper in this dress, pins in the appropriate places made it so I couldn't actually get in and out of the dress without the Jaws of Life.

For two nights in a row, Eamonn pinned and tailor tacked, re-pinned and re-tacked. I ran to my computer.

Eamonn: "What are you doing?" Probably annoyed because he thought I had just decided to give up and surf the Internet.

Me: "Creating a contingency plan. I learned to do that in graduate school."

I was googling a seamstress who had made a bridesmaid dress for me in 1994 and then made the bridesmaid dresses for our wedding in 1996. I had this grand idea that I could meet with her when we arrived in Ohio later this week. I found her. Unfortunately, she no longer lives in Columbus. Dang.

But then I remembered my friend Debbie. I used to babysit for Debbie's kids when they were little. Now Hillary, who was six the last time I checked, is getting married. Anyway, Debbie sews and actually knows what she's doing (unlike me), and is coordinating a rescue operation for my partially constructed dress.

Tonight Eamonn asked me if I have now spent more on this dress than if I had just bought one to begin with. I pretended like I didn't hear him.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's for Dessert?

Apparently, when my children ask, each and every night, "What's for dessert?", I'm supposed to whip out a menu with a laundry list of options.

We have a rule about dessert in our house: don't ask about dessert until everyone is finished eating. Because without fail, the other kids who is still eating (it's Finn 99.9% of the time), will drop his fork, say he's finished, and want to know what's for dessert, too. This rule is hard for them to follow. Because let's face it, dessert is really exciting. Unless you live here.

A kid: "What can I eat for dessert?"

Me: "Well, there are some banana muffins, some vanilla ice cream, some sorbet (note: They're these sorbets in fruit halves that we bought at Costco. Totally delicious. . .and totally artifically flavored. Sigh. Won't be buying those again.), or you can have some fruit."

A kid: "Is that it?"

Me: "Yes, that's it. This isn't a restaurant you know." I'm annoyed. We go through this every night and I have to relive the insufficiences of my dessert offerings 365 days a year. "Or you could have nothing." I'm so mean.

A kid: "Do we have any cones for the ice cream?"

I wonder if I said no they'd launch into some Meg Ryan as Sally Albright-esque description of how they wanted their ice cream instead. . .

Sally: "But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

I think my kids are high maintenance dessert eaters.

How often do you have dessert at your house? Do you make a homemade dessert all the time? What do you offer? Because clearly I'm sub-par here.

I swear, next time they ask what's for dessert, I'm going to say flan, baked Alaska, and pineapple upside down cake and see how they react. Just kidding boys. Your choices are banana muffins, vanilla ice cream, sorbet or some fruit. It's deja vu all over again.

Tuesday and Wednesday we're off to Denver for bloodwork, an eye exam and an echo EKG--all for Finn. We're squeezing in a trip to the Museum of Nature and Science, which looks awesome, and staying at a hotel. We will be eating out. I wonder if they'll ask for dessert.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

365. . .

. . .days that is, since Finn's last chemo. 365 and counting.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Slug Bug Red!

When I was a girl. . .as many stories in this house start, we didn't fly anywhere, we drove. I didn't travel by airplane until I was 15 years old, a laughable comparison to the Rooney boys who were both international travelers in their first year of life.

So all of us who grew up traveling by car -- before the age of in-car or portable DVD players, portable music players of any kind, or your parents making any effort whatsoever to entertain you except to reply to you in monotone that we'll be there "soon" -- we had to entertain ourselves with car games. Car games that didn't have any magnetic parts or pieces, just simple games that you played by talking to each other.

One of our favorites was My Grandfather Owns a Store. Surely you played this one, too. It starts out, "My grandfather owns a store, and in it he sells something that begins with . . ." and you choose a letter that corresponds with a product from the store and everyone else tries to guess it. Sort of like 20 questions about food. Unless you were being really devious and choose something like "C" and it was for charcoal. That was a good stumper. I'm guessing this game became annoying really quickly for my parents because my sisters and I used to say, "My grandfather owns a store, and he really does, and in it he sells. . ." We said it every, single time. How that must have grated on the old nerves on a drive to Florida in the brown Oldsmobile that I don't think had any air conditioning. But it was true. Grandpa did own the only grocery store, an IGA, in West Mansfield, Ohio. Clearly, we were very proud of this. Proud enough to be really, really annoying.

Another favorite game was the Cow Game. If you're not from some state that has large herds of cows grazing in pastures next to the road, you might not be too familiar with this one. Each kid takes a side of the car. As you drive and see cows, you count them and keep track. The first to get to a certain number, I think we used 100, won. The bummer--if you passed a cemetary on your side AND the other person saw it, your cows all "died" and you have to start over. We did some drives so often--Columbus, Ohio, to Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, for example--that we knew what side of the car was best to be on to win at this game. Cheaters.

And of course, there was the license plate game. You could play this one of two ways: try to get through the alphabet finding letters on license plates or look for as many different state plates possible. I think we usually did the letter version.

Finally, there was probably everyone's favorite: Slug Bug. Ah, the VW bug. Such an icon of the automobile world that it had its own car game. A simple, and yet painful, game. See a VW bug, lean over and slug the person next to you on the arm and shriek, "Slug bug red!" Or whatever color it was. I don't think it was actually so much of a game as a way to be loud and annoying in the backseat and cause bodily injury to others. We didn't play this one a lot. But then again, we were girls.

So what do kids do today when there really aren't that many bugs around to slug each other for anymore? The other day I found out. Declan, Finn and Garvin were in the backseat and suddenly someone yelled out, "Prius! Green!"

The times, they are a changin'.

Got a great car game? We've got a car trip ahead of us in August, so let's hear it!