Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The No Slumber Party

It was my daughter’s golden birthday this past weekend. The term was new to me, but apparently a few people were in the know. It’s when your age is the same as the date. It was her 11th birthday on April 11th and she was born at 11 p.m. So, of course, she just had to invite 11 girls to sleep over our house to celebrate.

I could have said no, but I remember how much fun I had going to slumber parties at her age. The girls were sweet and polite and there was no kitty-cat fighting. The clicks and gossip are coming, though. I heard hints of it in conversation.

My son showed off his drumming skills. He glowed in the praise of my daughter’s friends as he played along to their favorite songs. Very slick. I thought for sure they’d kick him out, but I had to lure him upstairs with a game of cards.

Now that she’s a pre-teen, I didn’t have to plan a theme or craft projects. No more fairylands, Winnie the Pooh or tea parties. They didn’t really require me at all.

Until they got hurt. The minute my husband pulled out of the driveway to get the pizza, mayhem broke loose. One fell down the steps with a soda. Then another promptly twisted her knee dancing. While I was tending to those two, my daughter hobbled down the steps leaving a trail of blood. She had dropped a glass and stepped on a shard.

By the time my husband got back, it was all cleaned up and everyone received the appropriate nursing care. He then fell soundly asleep, despite the noise that lasted until 4 a.m. How do men always escape the more harrowing aspects of parenting?

Next time, I’ll skip the balloons and buy bubble wrap.

First Communion Porno

We got together with the Matthews clan for a First Communion this past weekend. It was the big day for my cousin Jimmy's daughter. She looked angelic in her little white dress. He and his wife held the reception in a large room at a sport’s bar. Not too many spaces hold us all.

Not to mention the Masters could be watched from about six large TV’s. This is a not-to-be-missed sporting event in our family. An avid golfer, my late Grandfather attended the event the last several years of his life. As a bonus, my daughter, his first great grandchild, was born during the 1997 Masters. Yep, it was on in the delivery room. Sadly, she doesn’t like to golf - yet.

But my second-grade son does. He also loves poker and taught all the little ones on a video game at the sports bar during the party. After he left them to go play pool (I know I should be very worried), there was much giggling from the eight and under crowd at the video machine.

A large hunk of male anatomy appearing on the screen caught my eye. Apparently the video machine offered a diverse array of entertainment options aside from poker. Dear Lord! Then full frontal female nudity flashed up. Faster and faster, lurid images popped up. Little eyes were wide. Holy Moly. My husband dove for the cord. Ahh. Just another blessed event.

Dog Sledding - Mush!

I recently returned from dog sledding. Those who know me were perplexed. It doesn’t seem to fit me the way say sunbathing in Bermuda might. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. When we were young, my little brother Chris and I would tie our Siberian Husky Mishka to our sled for crazy rides. That’s when it used to snow in Philadelphia.

I managed to tie the trip in with research for my novel “Trying On Gigi Brigidi.” There was still plenty of snow falling in Jackson Hole, Wyoming the first week of April. It’s been a record year.

My citified protagonist gets relocated there by chapter five and I needed to get a handle on the changes that have occurred since my last trip there in the early 90s. That was a for four-day snow mobile safari through Yellowstone for a travel article. It will probably rank among the top three trips of my lifetime. I’m still waiting to take the other two – Italy and an African Safari.

Anyway, dog sledding was an absolute blast. Our trainer Dana was laid back and makes a mean cup of hot chocolate. The Alaskan Huskies are a mutt mix bred for specific racing characteristics by individual mushers. I had 11 on my team, lead by Zeus, a crazed and enthusiastic pup who has run the Iditarod twice.

We took off through the Teton National Forest, which gifts gorgeous views of the Grand Teton Mountain range and large unscathed swathes of forest. I got be a musher and manned the helm of the sled all by myself. And I live to tell…Actually, it was a peaceful and beautiful experience. I could have done it for days. My husband was quite pleased the overnight yurt was snowed in, though.

There was only one downside – make that backside. The excited doggies poo quite a bit while running. Aside from the rather graphic view, there is no windshield. Since this wasn’t a race, no one minded making puppy pit stops.

I also visited the National Elk Refuge for both a horse-drawn sleigh ride and a private drive. Besides thousands of elk, we spotted big horn sheep, coyotes, bald eagles, golden eagles and bison.

During a wildlife excursion, we got to see the elusive alpha of the Teton wolf pack. I was amazed at how huge they are – 160 pounds. He was spooky with black fur and piercing eyes. We also saw several moose, rare birds, coyotes eating an Elk carcass and an owl – not to mention surreal landscapes.

On a more civilized note, we stayed at the Rusty Parrot in Jackson. The room came with champagne, roses, chocolate truffles, a teddy bear, fresh apples and a wood-burning fireplace stoked every night. The comfy robes and slippers were ours to keep. It was probably the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. My low ick factor is borderline obsessive compulsive. I don’t go anywhere without my silk sleeping bag, shower flip-flops and Clorox Wipes. None were needed. I give the Rusty Parrot my highest rating. That would have been enough, but they threw in a chef prepared breakfast every morning. Those meals will have me on a treadmill for the next month. Dinner was delicious as well and incredibly intimate with only about six tables. The service was top-notch.

My favorite room in this Ralph Lauren-esque hotel is the library. Fresh cookies, a fire and great books. Ahhhh. Amazingly, I did get all my research done. A lovely real estate agent gave me insight while unknowingly convincing me that I could never live far from a major city, even though Jackson Hole may be the most beautiful place on Earth.