Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BroCo Twenty Ten

We had another fabulous trip to Brown County, Indiana -- it's a perfect midpoint from Chicago, Toledo, Louisville and Nashville for a reunion with my dear sorority sisters and their families. Eight adults, eight kids, one roof, lots of wine. We took turns making meals for the group, chased kids around the house, soaked in the hot tub daily and retold hilarious college memories until we could hardly keep our eyes open. Despite our weekly phone calls, there's nothing like being together: we met Makaio, Jamie and Eric's beautiful new baby boy, and hugged Tara for the first time since her recent brain surgery. The guys have become tight over the years. They played poker and sat around the fire pit every night -- we could hear bursts of laughter wafting in through the windows. One of my favorite moments was when all of the kids were wildly chasing bubbles in the front yard -- shrieking, rolling in the grass and giggling until Ella and Madeline's joy bubbled over and they peeled off their clothes.

One night in the hot tub, Erin, Tara, Jamie and I counted at least 20 trips we've made together between all the Kentucky Derbys, bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, Illini football games and Brown County reunions (and that's not even including the times one of us couldn't make it). We decided to send in a picture to our Delta Gamma alumni magazine (I'm on that, girls). Travel isn't easy with kids -- especially with Charlie's incessant car barfing and a dead battery in the portable DVD player -- but I wouldn't trade anything for the fun we have and the memories we create every year.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

40 in a 30...

Yesterday morning, I went before a judge at traffic court. There's nothing quite like sitting underneath 18 glaring florescent lights at 7:30 in the morning to make you feel the shame of a common criminal. All I did was drive a little too fast. Okay, 17 miles too fast, but the officer was nice and dropped seven miles off the ticket to put me in what he called "a different class." Yikes. In my defense, I didn't have the kids in the car and got a little carried away when a great song came on the radio. As I sat quietly in the courtroom, I started feeling like the only person in the universe who's ever gotten a speeding ticket. Incidentally, I've been pulled over lots of times, but I've never had to go before a judge to take the magical class that wipes it from your record. I guess they're pretty tough down here.

I waited for my turn to step up to the podium, two arms lengths from Judge Taylor's nose. He was a fairly intimidating guy. The docket went alphabetically, so I watched almost every other person in the room go before me. One woman was ticketed for having darkly tinted windows. The judge looked past her into the room and told us that in Brentwood (just 10 minutes up the road), dark windows are allowed because of all the celebrities, but they're against the law in Franklin. Then he smiled. Ah! Some early morning Williamson County humor. We all chuckled uncomfortably. Most people addressed the judge as "sir" after everything they said -- sometimes saying it ten times within just a few minutes. Naturally, I started wondering if I should too? When it was finally my turn, the judge called Morgan Valch. Decision time: do I correct him? And if I correct him, do I say sir after I correct him? I corrected him. It felt too weird to say sir, but I tried to make my face look pleasant. Silence. He asked in a stern voice, "Guilty or not guilty." I've never officially declared myself guilty in an open court, but I did yesterday. Holy Cow.

My four hour defensive driving class is coming up. That ought to be fun (sarcasm). But I admit that this ticket is a good reminder to be safe and focused. I have precious cargo on board. First I had to scrub all my favorite curse words out of my vocabulary, including seemingly innocent ones like dumb and fart. Then after a near accident three years ago, I stopped yacking on my cell phone when I'm driving. And now I have to drive the speed limit too? Yep. It's just as simple as that. I'm working on it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Wonderful Easter Sunday

The Easter Bunny had a 5:45am wake up call (Charlie's our little alarm clock). That gave me plenty of time to stuff and hide eggs, start preparing brunch and finish assembling Easter baskets before Madeline even woke up. And boy, was she excited! Usually Rob and I take turns sleeping in, but not this weekend. I could hear Madeline from downstairs, jumping all over her daddy in bed and excitedly shrieking that the Easter Bunny had come! We had been building it up for weeks. The rabbit who lives under our deck often hangs out outside our dining room window, nibbling grass and torturing Maple on the other side of the glass. We told Mads that it's the Easter Bunny, scouting out the best spots in our yard to hide eggs. I felt a rush of love for Rob as I heard him act equally excited to be yanked out of bed and run downstairs to watch the kids tear into the baskets and run around the back yard hunting for Easter eggs. The Easter Bunny has a confession: I re-hid most of the stuffed eggs that Madeline brought home from the previous day's egg hunt with my Moms Club (mine were stuffed with animal crackers -- kind of lame compared to jelly beans and stickers). Then we ate a lovely brunch that Ning had delivered from Super Suppers.

Our attempt at making it to church didn't pan out. During these years while our children are young, our schedule is their schedule in many ways. Rob and I told Madeline that Easter is a special day when Baby Jesus, who was all grown up, went to heaven. She knows that heaven is where Grandma Bonnie lives, and she thinks it's a pretty awesome place.

That afternoon, Madeline and I went to Home Depot and picked out plants for a backyard garden! Rob turned the soil and Madeline helped fill holes with the seeds. Charlie and I joined in too, planting tomatoes, red peppers, strawberries, snap peas, lettuce, onions and marigolds. It was a gorgeous day -- warm and sunny with a perfect breeze. The very next morning, Madeline asked if we could go pick our vegetables!