Friday, February 22, 2008

Pinewood Derby Mania

I recently experienced a boyhood rite of passage which before I had only heard rumors about. Oh, and these rumors where the kind that legends were made of. Yes, I am talking about the infamous Pinewood Derby. I have two younger brothers that were actively involved in scouts growing up, but being the older sister I couldn't be bothered which attending such lowly events as a Pinewood Derby. But I heard my fair share of stories of close calls, cars weighted down with pennies, magnets and the like, dads who "helped" a bit too much- (aka-Mr. Reeve), boys who cheated (the Reeve boys) and the ones who won every year- (yep, you guessed it -those Reeve boys). And of course coming from the mouths of 8 to 10 year old boys I assumed the recall of events was to say the least over-dramatic. That was of course until I got to attend one where my own child's car was involved. It all began a few weeks ago when Finn brought home a box with a rectangle block of wood, wheels and little silver pins and a flyer with the date of the next pack meeting where the Pinewood Derby would take place. Let the planning commence. Oh, the planning. There were discussions of colors, pencil sketches of possible car designs, arguments over the proper placement of wheels and analysis of the right kind of weight to add. Do you realize there are very specific qualifications for weight, length and size of a Pinewood Derby car? Again all a bit overdone in my opinion. But the night of the big event finally came. We only had one problem- Finn was sick with a flu bug that could "put down a horse". (This is one of Eric's favorite sayings.) So I was given the official assignment of pinewood derby proxy. I took the car over the church expecting a small track where the kids could race each other, a guy with a stop watch and a few chairs set up for the small amount of spectators. I have never been more wrong in my life. I walked in and was immediately ushered over to the official weigh-in, length check, number assigning, car naming table, then I was sent over to have my picture taken in front of a checkered backdrop with a medal around my neck proudly holding up my car- I was the proxy so I had to do the whole ritual. Then I was told I could go over and have graphite put on the wheels. What?!? Graphite? What for? But I knew if Finn was there he would do it, so I did it. After the graphite was put on I was informed not to touch the wheels or else it would come off. Whatever! I put the car on the table with all the other contestants and went to find a seat. At this point I noticed how huge the three lane track was that rose up about 6 feet at one end and had digital sensors at the other end that told which cars came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I also saw a computer up by the front of the track. I found a seat among the 3 rows of seats that lined the track on both sides by a friend whose son was in his second year racing. I asked her what the computer was for and she just patted my leg and said, "You'll see." There was another gentleman who heard me ask the question and said, "The computer is there to keep things official so 'those parents' won't question or get upset." Oh, yeah- "those parents" I said back to him. So the race finally started. But to my surprise the boys don't even touch the cars while racing. The Cub Master sets the cars up against a pin at the top of the track and then pulls the pins so the cars all go down at the same time. So the first couple of heats pass by without much attention on my part. Then Finn's car- I named "Black Thunder" for lack of a better name got a turn. Hey- it got 2nd! Way to go. I should mention that the cars are in several heats that the computer records and then it figures the winners- who are announced at the end. After each heat the boys go get their cars and take them back to the table. After Finn's first heat another boy took his car back for me. Fantastic- I can continue my conversation with my friend. Black Thunder goes to race again, but I only notice because my friend says- "Isn't that Finn's car?" Oh, yeah. 1st place this time. Wow! I bee-lined over to the end of the track so no grubby-hand kid will rub the graphite off the wheels. This puppy really has a chance. A few more heats go by and I zero in on my main competition- that gentleman who talked about "those parents" was the grandpa of my #1 opponent. This fact was not lost on the man either. When the two cars were in the final heat he was elbowing me saying, "This is it. It's between yours and mine." I smile tightly and laugh nervously, "Yeah, they're both good." Translation- I'm sure glad we have the computer to keep this all straight so you can't cheat! Ohhh- Black Thunder comes in 2nd this time, but no matter- the beloved computer will not rob the real winner. After 10 minutes of computing and discussing among the scout leaders the award ceremony begins. They start with the "pretend" awards - you know like "the Spirit of Scouting" award for the poor kid who has participated every year but never won or the "Classy Car" award. Finally the real meat and potatoes awards- drumroll please- Black Thunder came in 2nd overall. Grandpa-whose grandson won 1st- and I shake hands in true sportsmanlike/scouting fashion and I'm proud that we had a very respectable 1st year showing. (Notice I said "we"- although I had very little to do with the constructing of the car I now take ownership in the whole event!) So of course I go home and just like my brothers 20 years ago recount all the gory, dramatic details. But if you'll excuse me first I have to get my foot out of my mouth!

Here is Finn with the spoils from his victory. I haven't received back the picture of me in front of the checkered background, but you can be sure that when I do I will post it!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Post Valentine's Day Analysis

I don't mind Valentine's Day, although I wouldn't call it my favorite holiday. I guess it is that streak of rebellion in me I probably got from my dad. I feel like saying to all those Hallmark/ Kay Jewelers/FTD floral people, etc.- "You're not the boss of me. You can't tell me when I can tell those I love how important they are to me." But there is one aspect of the holiday that I do love. It is a holiday that comes unexpectedly to my children. They forget to anticipate it and when it gets here they are pleasantly surprised. They aren't asking for stuff beforehand and they don't have to be warned to be good in order to get anything. It is a "no strings attached" holiday- for both them and me. I usually get them a gift, but it is not required. I don't feel obligated and they don't have to do anything to deserve it. I can get them something just because I want to and I love them. I don't get them anything fancy- this year it was just pajamas, but they were so excited and happy! Well everyone except Katie. I got her red pajamas and she kept screaming at me that she only likes pink and purple. But if I gauged my self-esteem as a mother based on Katie's reactions I would never get out of bed! But all this got me thinking about love in general. True love should really be "no strings attached." Because let's face it- we all do things to make us undeserving of the love we receive. But often we are pleasantly surprised at the love that is offered us in spite of what we do- but rather because of who we are and who we can be. And in having someone love us "warts and all" it allows who we can be to come through. I think we often forget to anticipate how much those around us truly love us and probably more importantly how much we can truly love others. So I guess if Valentine's Day can get me thinking this deeply about the meaning of love, I suppose its not such a bad holiday after all. Dangit- those Hallmark people got to me!:)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wow! My blog has everything- humor, intrigue, controversy and even scandal- if you don't know me well please know that was all said with "tongue firmly in cheek." But after that last post and all the firestorm it created, I think it is time for a nice, breezy, cute Annie story. Let's proceed- shall we?!?
Annie and her friend, Lauren were having a conversation about Suzie and her bald head. They had come to the conclusion that even though she didn't have any hair, she still looked like a girl. They proceeded to list reasons why she still looked like a girl. For example she had long eyelashes, she wore girl clothes and she has pink shoes. Then Annie ended with this observation, "And she has the kissing lips." (giggle, giggle) I asked her what the kissing lips were. She said, "You know- the kissing lips. Every woman has the kissing lips." (again more giggling.) Well , ooo la la. I didn't know I had "the kissing lips"! So in honor of Valentine's Day and since our house is so chock full of women here are some of the kissing lips in our residence.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Anonymous Come Clean!

I love comments on my blog just as much as the next blogger. I get excited when I see the comment number climb. I think we all do. Originally I didn't allow anonymous comments on my blog, but my mom kept saying, "I would like to leave a comment, but you don't allow anonymous comments on your blog." I told her how easy it was to create a blogger account but she didn't want to do that because then she would have to remember a password and right now her life is so busy she can't even remember that she has washed the same dish 4 times- a little trick my sister and I played on her at Sunday dinner. She is a bit of an energizer bunny when it comes to cleaning and she swoops through her house like a "place for everything, everything in its place" tornado- a quality I try to emulate, but often fall short. Anyway we were all doing the dishes after Sunday night dinner and my mom was in true form.
-yellow, rubber gloves on- check
-sink full of hot, soapy water- check
- towels for drying- check
-dishes cleared off ready to be washed- check
Off she goes. One of the first things she washed was a spatula with a yellow star on it. My sister was drying it and thought it would be funny to throw it back in the wash water and see how many times we could get my mom to wash it before she noticed. Here were our covert operation plans to distract mother bird: Michelle would hand the spatula to me and then ask mom where another dish went that we had washed- ahhh-the diversion technique. Then I would throw the spatula back in the water while mother bird was happily pointing out where another dish was housed, being so proud that her daughters were willing to help with the dishes to the bitter end. Operation Clean Spatula worked four times! On the fourth time she finally said, "How many times have I washed this?" We burst out laughing and told her what we had been doing. Luckily she was a good sport and thought it was funny too. The point of that story was to show how right now she can't keep much in her short term memory- especially a password for a blogger account. (In her defense she is planning a wedding and preparing to serve a mission.) Now let me try and link that back to the original reason I started writing this post. SO I allowed anonymous comments on my blog for my mother's benefit. But she rarely does because of the above stated reasons. But someone else does leave anonymous comments without telling me who he or she is. The person or persons seem to know me because they usually put my name in the comment. But I'm not sure. So come clean anonymous comment leaver! Or I may have to take away your privileges! But I do appreciate that you read my blog. I just would like to know who you are!