Monday, January 31, 2011

Preparing for the Big Storm

The big one is coming. It's all the buzz on could be as "bad as the storm of 82'", so they are predicting, or saying.  Is predicting or saying about the same thing in this age of advanced weather tracking tools? 

I remember that storm of 82', having school off for the whole week.  I recall that was back in the days before all the fancy snow melt chemicals were invented and snow removal guys just threw sand down on the roadways to try to create traction.  By the time the storm of 82' ended, it all melted away, I think we were building sand castles on the highways with all that leftover traction substance.

We're bracing here at the Keeper abode for the "big storm" of 20-11.

How do we brace?

I headed to the grocery store at 7am to load the pantry up.  If I didn't the five of us would have been feasting on fighting over tortilla chips, Captain Crunch and sticks of salted butter.  Mmmmm, Mmmmm.  Oh come to think of it we have fresh fish in the freezer, except the kids would rather starve than eat fish.  Anyway, we are stocked up now and I am prepared to make days worth of comfort foods.  I guess I was late on the rush to the store as the bread shelves were empty and the last gallon of 1% milk was nabbed by moi. I hope all the other late comers' flavor is thick and fatty whole milk, cause that's all they gots now. And, I didn't even have to have a show down for that last gallon of low fat calcium building beverage.

Now if Mother Nature can just hold the ice and snow off till the school day finishes.  Hear that Mother Nature hold it off we have no desire to lengthen the school year.

Oh, and Mr. Groundhog, we'll be talking later!

Hi-ho-hi-ho it's off to work I go....    


Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the Dark

Friday I was in the shower getting all clean smelling for work when pow--the power went out.

I felt like this:
Because as I stood in the pitch dark bathroom, home alone, I began to let my mind wander to horror films. I began to think someone must have broke into the house, turned off the power and was coming to get me.  It wasn't Norman Bates after me. So who?  Who was coming to get me but this guy:

I recovered quickly.  Except for the fact that I now had a wet head and no blow dryer.  My hair for work pretty much looked like this:

I was afraid to open the frig to make my lunch; being by the time I left for work the power had been out an hour.  I wanted to keep all the cold in the box in case the power stayed out all day.  I brought microwave popcorn from the pantry for lunch. Yuck.  Then I burnt it in the hundred year old office microwave with it's turn dial timer.  I stunk the office up something terrible. I ate Fiber One Cinnamon Toasty O's I keep on my desk to snack on instead.  What a lunch that was!   

That was my Friday.

King Ralph and I are now on a quest to see every Oscar nominated film before the big award show.

Here's our viewing record to date:
X  Black Swan
X  The Fighter
X  Inception
__The Kids Are All Right
127 Hours
X The King's Speech
X  The Social Network
X  Toy Story 3
__ Winter's Bone
__ True Grit

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Biggest Losers

Dear Biggest Losers-

I have failed you, my co-workers.  Admittance is the first step to getting back on the right track, right?

So here goes.

Last Friday was a bad day so Saturday morning found me digging into M's leftover DECA Krispy Kreme donuts...three chocolate iced donuts to be exact--Mmmmmm.  I suppose you can call that emotional eating.  Yesterday I had a Diet Pepsi from the staff lounge vending machine.  Plus I kind of skipped on the whole exercise thing. I've fallen of the wagon.

So...I plan to skip the weigh-in.   I won't be found stripping down to my undies and tank in the bathroom stall this Thursday morn.  Nope I plan to ease the pain of seeing the Biggest Loser scale read a pound heavier and just anny-up the fricking buck for weight gain.  I suppose there could be chance I could have stayed the same and only have to anny-up fifty cents, but, but I am taking the weak way out. 

Now the question is should I weigh down the envelope with four quarters or keep it light with the one green back? 

Jodi- a weak link in the chain of healthy co-workers she goes to pack her fruit salad for lunch.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Adjust And Carry On

Not every day is the day you want it to be or even expect it to be.  But, somehow we always manage to carry on.  We keep on loving.

Not every wintry Monday starts out how you expect it to...then you just roll with the punches and adjust.

With that said: I scooped M off the kitchen counter (as this is where she chose to lay her head as she began to faint), chipped the thick layer of frozen wintry mix from the truck's windshield, drove D to school (which took seven times longer than it should), fixed Princess A's continuing college tuition payment aggravation issue by phone, made a doctor's appointment for M, called into work (hoping to get in there at some point today)--all by 8:26am and now...I'll get clean and sing in the shower.

Despite, I still like Mondays. Maybe just not this Monday.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Smell of Green

Everyday when I walk into work I don't smell the scent of crayons and pencil shavings, nope, I smell I money. Cashola. The green backs. Bankroll. Moolah. I smell 70% of the $290 Biggest Loser pot.  I could even deal with my sniffer breathing in the aroma of a second place 30% take.  In the last two weeks I have managed to lose seven pounds.  Could I be okay with nabbing the third place pot?  Maybe if the rest of the cohorts keep gaining or maintaining ($1 each week if you gain, .50 if you maintain).  By April 29 I have plans to be able to sport my prom dress again. (Only Lin has had the pleasure of enjoying the vision of my beautiful vintage frock.) I'm going to be needing to do a lot of fast moving to meet that goal.  

Oh, talk about fast moving, it's surfaced: the proof, that  I was working my Ginger Rogers moves so fast I seem to have lost my shoes.

The proof not only I, but Tina too were cutting-the-rugs-chaperones in Pasadena.

 That my friends had to be worth at least a pound of a head start on the race to being the Biggest Loser.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Day

It happened again, SNOW DAY! 
The last allotted one. 
After this it's payback time.

I sat staring at the TV last hoping they would flash across the bottom of the screen that we didn't have school, work...that I could sleep knowing no one would be calling me at the wee hours of the morning breaking into my dreams. 
 Ha! fat chance, 457am ring-ring "no school today Jodi". 
 Except now I had to come alive, fumble in the drawer to find that
phone tree sheet and make my call. 
 By 515am I was wide awake watching none other than
 The Housewives of Beverly Hills. 
  Never watched a Housewives show before.  
The 6 inches of fallen snow with more on the way must have stolen my brains.

You want to know what really took my brains?
Milk? Check.
Bread? Check.
Eggs? Check.

I thought I was going to have to resort to this
and a roll of Bounty paper towels
. Lucky me, in my personal state of panic, 
managed to dig from the bottom of the linen closest, 
 hiding under beach towels, a 36 pack of Supers. 
Whew, day saved.  Disaster diverted.

So the next big snow we have I guess I know now
 to add that to the list of emergency supplies. 
 In a house of four girls it is as important as milk for survival. 

By the time the snow stopped falling I collected my brood
 and tossed them all shovels and ice scrapers. 

Then I heard this come out of my nearly twenty-one year old's mouth:
"snow days equal child labor". 
Uuuu, um, you ain't no child no mo' Princess A!
To which I say: shoveling builds character and I am all about character education!

I thank you.
Your daddy thanks you.
The truck thanks you. 
Your car in the garage thanks you. 
For that snowless driveway.  
(Just so don't think I am a total slave driver I helped too.)

Now we sit waiting and wondering will we have school tomorrow.
Will the next storm that is coming to dump on us Sunday night
give us a five day weekend? 
Time can only tell.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bears Vs Grandma

It hit me at Christmas when I opened my grandmother's Christmas card that she was slipping into the next stage of aging: when everyone else does everything for you.  You see my grandmother has signed her cards "Grandma Chicago" since Princess A was around three-years old.  Being that my kids were born having more grandmothers than the usual kid--they had a great great grandmother till 1995--everyone got a moniker.  This Christmas my grandmother's card arrived signed "Gramma" in my aunt's hand writing.  It was no surprise that she didn't have the strength in her eighty-eight year old hands to scribe her many given names upon her own cards; her voice was weakening with every weekly call I made to her.

On Christmas Eve we received word that she was taken to the hospital by ambulance.  Leaving for California in a few days left me worrying the "what-ifs".  But I was told my grandmother would have it no other way than for me to head west...of course there was no assurance of what would or could happen while I was in California.

This past Sunday we piled into M's car ('cause Illinois gas is crazy expensive) with constant moans from the girls about not taking the truck and headed to Downers Grove. 

Don't the big girls look all cozy and snug in the back seat of the Honda Accord?

As long as we kept them slumbering they didn't complain, much.  Mostly M because she felt she was much to much of a Diva to be smashed in the middle.

When King Ralph got tired of their we-are-to-close-together-back-here groans... we did what we do best as the dominating gender of the house--we sang every song from the Carpenter's greatest hits album to him.  His response to our song bird voices..."the more you sing and drive me nuts the longer before I stop [for food]."  No wait I believe he said, yep he did say, "I'm waiting for you all to sing Dionne Warwick".  Like every car trip he breaks down and stops before we cancel our choir practice.

I had called my grandma the night before but she was just getting into bed for the night at 730pm.  They put those poor old folks to bed before dinners have begun to digest.  She asked me to call her back the next day.  I did better than that I came, we came, to visit her. Surprise!  She was shocked, but thrilled as she adjusted her blinding eyes as we stepped into her room, "Joooodeeee,(pause) Alee,(pause) Maddi, (pause, pause) Demi and Kevin, ooooohhhh."  I figured we would add to her company, that I would see a cousin or an aunt, an uncle.

Me: Grandma, has anyone else been up to visit you today? Or coming?

Grandma: Ha are you kidding, no, the Bears are playing! 

Chicagoans have their priorities; the whole nursing facility was empty of visitors, except us fools from Saint Louis.  Even Grandma had the Bears playing on her TV.  

My grandma's mind is as sharp as a tack but her body weak.  Although, her appetite proved healthy as she ate her lunch from her wheelchair.   Her body holds more fluid than my bath tub.  Her heart beats faster than a metronome. She always says "you never know when your bus ticket is going to arrive" I'm glad we made the short trip up to visit with her.  Who really knows when her "bus ticket" will arrive; could be today, tomorrow, next week, next year.  In the meantime, just in case, I feel better knowing we'll have no regrets.  

Then we met my best friend and her family for some deep dish pizza and fried calamari.   Some how the two of us managed to spring a whole lot of girls from our loins; leaving our Beta males spouses out numbered ever more.

We checked into the hotel where the girls drew straws as to who got to sleep on the pull out sofa...

which left D ticked off as she is usually always is the one who gets the short straw and is left disgruntled slumbering on the ground.

 Before we left for another visit with Grandma and then home I hit the hotel gym...winning the Biggest Loser at work is a priority for me!  I see dollar signs when I close my eyes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Few Of My Favorites

King Ralph and I are about to head downtown to the RV and Travel Show to take more notes in our search for the perfect new family recreational vehicle.

In the meantime I thought I would share my two favorite floats that rolled down Colorado Blvd. on New Years Day.

Why are they my favorite?  First, for their artistry.  I mean look at those seeds and such laid in flawless detail that make a perfect black and white photo...

and that it's Ronald Reagan.
To mine eyes came tears as I stared at the beauty of this float...not meaning all the great skill in creative endeavor.  No, I am talking about the grace of unselfish nature of those riding on the float. Each person on the float is holding a photograph of some who gave them an organ or a family member who's life was lost but gave an organ to save another.  Since there obviously isn't space enough for all these heroes families; beautiful seed art offered colored photos of many more....

That's why these were my faves!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Building Dreams,Friendships&Memories--The Finale

I spent my snow day on Tuesday in my jammies, making a pot of cream of leek-potato-smoked ham soup, watching Bette Midler's HBO Vegas special and blogging the trip finale...then my hand hit some unknown button and, poof, all was erased.  Frustrated I closed the computer and told myself to try again tomorrow.

Well, it's past tomorrow.

So here goes.

After the band's crazy loud New Years Eve bash, which ended promptly at 9pm in order for everyone to set the cell phone alarms for 330am...let me just say a chaperone needs more than 3 hours of sleep to function.  I tried to trick my body into believing that a hot shower (no time to wash hair, ball cap to the rescue) and a fresh pair of panties would make me feel alive.  Truth is there isn't enough Bath and Body Works floral scented  body wash and not even the silkiest pair of Victoria Secret panties could make any human feel alive at 330am.  But I fooled the kids with a perky act that could have had Hollywood talent seekers hunting me down on Colorado Blvd.  By 4am I was bunning the hair of Color Guard girls.  By 430am I was swishing the girls to the elevators for breakfast and a bus ride.

Before leaving Saint Louis I prepared these beautiful trash bag coats for the girls

here you go, the full length view...I'll take orders later. 
Once out of the buses everything on your person is either part of your parade materials or is going to the trash.  They were ever so grateful for these hobo coats as it was yet another COLD California morning.

We arrived at the parade route around 630am to a throng of coach buses
 While the 208 kids were in their parade holding pattern; we chaperones, family and friends hunkered down in section

where our resident equipment/cheerleader dad lead us in our customary Lindbergh spirit cheer F-L-Y...E-R-S (repeat x3), flyers,flyers are the best.  Then anyone sitting around us, say like the Wisconsin fans knew we were a crowd pumped with pride.        

Here's what you don't see on HGTV

the die-hard folks who camped out all night for that perfect spot on the parade route, all ready for
and to see...who else but the queen of cooking with butter herself--Paula Deen.
This is how Paula Deen looked before section 1680 started chanting Pau-la, Pau-la, Pau-la...she stopped smiling and just looked at us all shaking her head like, you silly grown-ups, and then waved to us.  She felt our love. We melted her heart like a stick of butter in a hot pan.  Of course I wanted to run down, hop in that fancy old time car covered with flowers telling about how her bourbon beef tenderloin I served for Christmas Eve dinner was a smashing hit or that her dark chocolate truffles Princess A and I made for a dessert choice were so heavenly they spiked Uncle Al's blood sugar out the roof...but I didn't.  I left her to her royal duties.

As mine and Tina's handy float work approached I belted out "look at that raccoon, with its macaroon coconut and black onion seed"...we laughed while those unaware of our float decorator talents sat amazed at my ability to tell the natural material used from a distance.

I didn't want to brag to much to the crowd so I'll brag to all of you instead...look at our little pig hay house work.  Those bundles of hay are so perfect.
you need a better look? 
They kept on coming--the floats, the bands, the horses 
and with horses come...
pooper scoopers with corsages and a strike a Vogue take-our-photo pose.  Classiest pooper scoopers ever!  These must be very skilled pooper scoopers to be doing this sh*+ job dressed in white.


Then in the blink of an eye the kids marched right on past us 

Ask any of us parents what tune the kids were playing as they passed us...we couldn't tell you.  Why?  Because we were cheering and whistling for them so loud nothing else could be heard.  Ask a kid what was the greatest part of the parade and they will all tell you it was marching past section 1680 and feeling the oozing over-flow of parental pride and love. (Don't worry we watched the video later to hear what we drowned out.) It was better than knowing they were on TV.   

What they didn't tell us until after the parade was that our band director struggled to keep the pace walking in his ill health.  That he was chauffeured on a scooter along the route, stepping back onto the pavement as he approached our section.  He rose to the occasion for everyone else...but mostly for the kids.  Sitting by his elderly mother, who joined us on the trip, she had tears in her eyes.  It must have been both difficult and joyous for her to see her son on that day of accomplishment for his young students.  
Now what I want to know is who got stuck cleaning up after all those curbside campers?  Those parade watchers are some messy folk!
(See the blue line? If you dare to step over that line during the parade you are subject to arrest.)

Then it was back to the hotel.  To pack up the truck. Uhg!  (yes turth be told this was the point when I got totally verklempted packing those rose flags; as I realized the Tournament of Roses Parade was forever the final band performance that one of my offspring would be a part of). 

Then kids came with lots and lots of suitcases!!

Since our body's fuel tanks were running on empty the best way to fill them up again was with a party.  It's time to celebrate on the Queen Mary! Which meant fancy party clothes for a special dinner.  It meant time to thank a band director who made the trip in the name of the kids with the seniors performing the Alma mater..
 it meant dancing...

   and more dancing...
and even more dancing.

We drug our worn out selves back to the hotel for one last night and this time a good nights sleep (okay well not me because I tended to vomit explosions all night) where dreams of memories made will be treasured forever.

Especially for these thirty-two teens of the Class of 2011

The End

Monday, January 10, 2011

Building Dreams,Friendships & Memories Part 3

Wheeeeewwww!  I, my fellow chaperones and a majority of the kids have now made it through this trip all the way till December 31, on the amount of sleep most bank in 2.5 nights.  How do they figure they can wake us up?  Toss us all into an amusment park for more FUN!

The weather was California cold
We layered up
 (except for our manfriend who sported shorts no matter the weather). 
We rode everything time would allow. 
Which wasn't enough time. 
Of course we did some eating between rides.
  All that eating can give the girls gas.
Nothing was passed in public, just a lot of talk. 
 Our manfriend/ride buddy was slowly becoming one of the girls. 
The only thing he couldn't grasp was our constant need to visit the restroom.  

I made the ride buddies stop for photos with characters

 While we waited in line for the back lot tour
We got some devastating news--an F3 tornado had hit our community.
The text starting rolling in with pictures attached showing the devastating damage.
The night before my father-in-law who lives in Branson was hit. 
 His boat dock was demolished by the twister. 
 Two boats in the slips sunk to the bottom of Table Rock Lake. 
 His house, well the roof got kissed by the fierce winds as well. 
I text my friends who lived in the areas that were affected...
the same area many on the trip live.  
Many of our chaperones and families on the trip depended on their neighbor's
 kind heart to board up their homes--windows blown, roof totally gone. 
King Ralph was enjoying his day off when he was summoned to work.
Princess A and D starting sending me pictures of the city that he protects and serves
downed power lines up and down the main road. 
Sad and scary! 
This is how one of the neighborhoods down the street from the school I work at looks
(ten of the families in the school have been displaced)
there we were on the back lot tour and the
War of Worlds set didn't look much different than our Sunset Hills neighborhood
When you are hundreds of miles away there is nothing you can do but continue on with what you are doing.  The kids knew to call home and if they needed to talk with us we were there to listen.

We just kept on having our Grinchmas fun.
 My favorite ride was 

We took one of the other male chaperones on the Mummy. 
We ride buddies rode it twice in a row. 
So the extra had to ride twice.
It made him green...he ditched us after that.  

We found the kids in line behind us on Jurassic Park

I snapped a final photo of M and her senior class/band mates
Then it was time to cut the fun short.

It was after all New Years Eve
when in California to march in the Rose Parade
you have to celebrate the New Year on New York time
M and her roomies bought these fun glasses
at the Universal gift shop
to ring in the New Year
(which they are  planning to wear to graduation--so they say)
Wait, here's a a closer look at the light-up spectacles
Then when the bellies of 208 teenagers
 had been packed with ice cream sundaes
(since there was no bubbly to toast for the adults we too got drunk on the sugared treat) 
 The California clock struck 9pm...
which meant in New York it was midnight...
which meant in the ballroom of the Warner Center Marriott
it too was midnight
and the kids, all 208 of them blew their party horns
and hugged and high fived
You know I am still curious the kid who got a
full comic book character face paint job
at the amusement park got the stuff off.  

Then we sent those sugar charged teens to bed with their alarms set for 330am.

To be continued...