I Was On The Cover…

We received notice around 7:30 last night that school would not be in session today due to inclement weather. This resulted in a relaxation of bedtime and a “can we play a game?” request. There was some disagreement among the two older children as to what game should be played. Then Daryl brought out Loaded Questions and Jane got on board.

Neither Daddy nor I were particularly interested. For a couple of reasons. First, we are accustomed to playing with an older crowd, and often at least a little bit of alcohol is involved. Playing with our children… hmm… But the other reason is that it’s just truly more fun with more people. Four is the bare minimum and isn’t fun.

Or so we thought.

For those of you that don’t know the game, I’ll give a brief explanation. On a person’s turn, they read a question on a card and everyone else writes down their answer. Then the answers are collected and read aloud. The person tries to guess who answered what. Each one guessed right moves the person ahead on the board.

One question read by my husband asked “How many times a day do you check your answering machine?” He thought this was funny and would be easy to answer since… well… no one actually has an answering machine anymore. (Actually, I know a blogger who does but still…) These were the answers he got:

On average, probably 3
Only when it says I have a message

He got them all right but rolled his eyes. I pointed out that his children were too young to understand what an actual answering machine was. To which Jane responded, “No! I’ve seen them in old movies. You know the black and white ones?” To which Daryl quickly muttered “racist.” Which prompted Jane to say he wasn’t funny while his Dad laughed and I struggled to catch up on what just happened.

While sitting on the winning square, needing only to correctly identify all three answers to win the game, I chose the question, “Who is the worst musician or band?” Jane is a rabid One Direction fan so some jokes were made along those lines. And then they read the choices:

Milli Vanilli
One Direction
Your Mom

“I think I just won the game,” I said smugly as I sat back in my chair. Jane has a tendency to say “Your Mom” at random, nonsensical times. Daryl has a tendency to poke his sister whenever he can. And Daddy was the only one old enough to have a clue who Milli Vanilli was.

What I failed to consider was that my children a) are insanely competitive and b) have no compunction about lying. Jane had listed her favorite band and Daryl had used her favorite catch-phrase. All without coordinating with each other. I have to admit, I was impressed.

Daryl was easily the best entertainment of the night, though. It was kind of refreshing to not be the most naive person at the table. Near the beginning of the game, he had responded to a question by stating that his greatest phobia was a fear of embarrassment. That made the game a bit rough for him since he found himself embarrassed several times over.

At one point, he was to read a question from the “No-Brainer” category. He read the question and exclaimed, “I don’t know any of this crap!”

At another point, my husband made a comment about the “Happy Trails” paths on the game board, reminding Jane and me of one of my more embarrassing moments of naivety. As Jane giggled, Daryl asked what Happy Trails were. I shook my head. He insisted he wanted to know. (If you don’t know, go check out Urban Dictionary. Or don’t. Your choice). He then asked if it was a State Park. Jane nearly fell out of her chair.

Another time, we were to say what the greatest height was that we would be willing to dive into a large pool of water. My husband offered that it didn’t matter how large the pool was – it was how deep it was that mattered. I said to assume the pool was as deep as it needed to be for the height from which he was going to dive. These were the answers that Daryl had to choose from:

4 feet
6 feet
6 miles with a parachute

Daryl pointed at his Dad and said, “You are the parachute.”

“No,” his dad said. “I’m the person who said I’d have a parachute.”

“Oh. Um.” He turned and looked at Jane. “You are the parachute.”

“Daryl!” I said. “Daddy said that he was the person with the parachute.”

“You!” he pointed at me. “You are the one with the parachute.”

“Are you listening? You got it right the first time. Daddy had the parachute. Now guess the 4 feet and 6 feet!”

The worst moment (or the best, depending on your perspective) was a question about magazines. Specifically, what magazine have you been intending to get a subscription to.

After the questions had been answered and the answers guessed, Daryl told his Dad, “I bet you have a subscription to Playboy.”

“Not currently,” his Dad said.

“Oh, yeah?” Daryl adopted his show-offy tone. “Well… I’ve been on the cover of Playboy.”

His dad stared back at him. My eyes went wide. Jane fell out of her chair and began to turn red as she struggled for oxygen.

“Yep,” he said, as he pulled his shirt up to expose his torso. “My shirt was up and my six-pack was showing.”

“Actually,” my husband interjected. “They are more interested in two packs.”

I joined Jane in the laughing-too-hard camp as Daryl continued, unaware.

After we had had our fun watching Daryl carry on, Daddy finally explained to him that Playboy usually had naked women on the cover.

Daryl turned bright red. “Oh,” he said. “I thought it was one of those for dudes with tattoos all up and down their arms and chests and stuff.”

“Well,” his Daddy said, “I’m sure many dudes with tattoos read the magazine but they don’t tend to make the cover.”

Needless to say, when we later had a question about a hobby you had always wanted to pick up, it was easy to guess who had said “Not saying stupid things like being on Playboy cover.”

I love this kid. He’s an incredibly intelligent young man. Who happens to have some holes in his knowledge base. I know he hates to be embarrassed but I hope he comes to understand some day why I treasure moments like this in my heart.

My Son, Author Extraordinaire

Hal is working on becoming an author. There is no reason that an inability to spell or even read competently should hold one back from such an endeavor. All you really need is a good imagination. The rest can be addressed by a solid editor.

Here’s the title page of one attempt:

The Hat Who Wanted To Fly

He claims the first two words are mistakes because, “they don’t make sense.” The title, in case you are not fluent in Kindergartenese, is The Hat Who Wanted To Fly. Personally, I think “I’m The Hat Who Wanted To Fly” works too, although I agree “Him” should go. But he hasn’t hired me as his editor. Yet.

The story ends rather abruptly on the first picture:

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This is Mr. Hattie, the main character who, presumably, wanted to fly. I never got to find out why he wanted to fly. Because Hal said bye to his hat fly guy. He let him die without giving him another try. And that’s no lie.

Ok, I’ll stop now. I promise. Too much Dr. Seuss of late.

My guess, based on his second endeavor, is that Hal, wise beyond his years, came to realize that a happy, feel-good children’s tale of a hat who desperately wanted to fly was simply not his destined genre.

This next one is a much more representative sample of the work that drives him:

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Angling for an award for longest title, he came up with The Death Book of Ghosts and Shadows: Evil Shadows, Evil Ghosts. If his writing gig doesn’t work out, I’m positive someone will hire him as an illustrator because those are obviously some evil ghosts and shadows.

This tale, he finished. And a grim tale it is. SPOILER ALERT: It does end happily even if it doesn’t look like it the first couple of pages. So don’t get too spooked out. It’ll all be ok. Ready?

Ok. Here’s the first page:


It’s a sad and scary day in… well… I don’t know where. I’m just glad it’s not here because that (read this in a shaky, spooky voice) is… The. Rain. Of. The. Blood. Drops.

Duhn! Duhn! Duhn!

Or it might be The Reign of the Blood Drops. But I’m not sure he’s big on double meanings yet, so let’s stick with a literal interpretation. And just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, you are faced with the arrival of…


The Death Square!

Please remember that I told you it’d end ok. I’m sure you are sweating it now. How can society possibly survive when The Death Square is terrorizing the streets and dancing in the blood rain?

Well, let me show you. I am pleased, relieved, so thankful and happy to introduce to you our champion:

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Super Circle!

Yes, yes! It’s Super Circle, come to save the day with his bright pink eyes and nose and that confident, assured smile. All is ok when Super Circle comes to town. Death Squares quake in his presence. The clouds raining blood drops retreat. The sun shines. And all live happily ever after.

The End.

Wake Up, Brother!

Hal (and his bedding) are very fortunate that he is so adept at leaning over the side of the bed when he throws up.

Can’t say the same for his older brother and the dog who sleep in the perpendicular bottom bunk beneath him.

What I can say is that, considering it can’t be fun to wake up to being splattered by falling vomit, Daryl handles the situation with considerable patience and good grace. Especially since it has now happened twice.

The dog does well too. Even goes right to work trying to help clean it all up. Although she needed some help with the stuff on the top of her head, and she seemed a bit concerned that she might be in trouble.

And for anyone wondering why we have a sick Kindergartener sleeping in a top bunk… he’s not sick. At least, not with a stomach virus. He has a lot of mucous build up. He gets to coughing and gags on the mucous and then… wake up, brother! The boys chose the sleeping arrangements and both are happy. Although Daryl might start reconsidering the merits of the top bunk.

There’s These Men…

So I’m driving down the road when Hal starts his longwinded manner of trying to tell me something.

“Mommy? You know that store? That one with all the books? The one with lots and lots of books?”

I have no clue if he means Hasting’s or Half Price Books or still some other place, but I make a slight affirmative noise and he continues.

“Well there’s a magazine I want.”

“What’s the name of the magazine?”

“I don’t know, but…” At this point, I know I’m going to get a very detailed description that likely won’t help me figure out the magazine. “…there’s these men. There’s three of them on the cover…”

I’m wondering if this might be some fitness magazine.

“…and they are holding guns…”


“…and there’s this big red skull in the middle of them.”

Oh, my.

“But the scary stuff doesn’t show up until the middle of the book,” he assures me. “Although there is this really strange looking dog.”

I have no clue what this magazine is and I’m not sure I want to know. I am fairly confident that I won’t be purchasing it for my Kindergartner.

Three Weeks of Single Parenting

My husband was out of town for three weeks. Things always go sideways when he’s gone. Part of it’s just the normal life stuff that suddenly seems overwhelming when handled alone and part of it’s stuff he normally takes care of that’s now added to my shoulders. But some of it’s special and over-the-top.

Here’s some highlights from my most recent single-mom experience:

  • A kid with a persistent cough that kept everyone up at night.
  • Cleaning up vomit from the floor of the car when said kid coughed so hard, he made himself throw up.
  • A mystery come-and-go ailment with the older boy that came on suddenly with headache and sore throat and left the boy curled up lifeless in the recliner.
  • A trip to the doctor’s office, 2 strep tests, 1 flu test. All came back negative, thankfully.
  • Constant fighting to get kids to take medicine that they don’t like the taste of.
  • Zig Zagging all across town to taxi 3 kids to or from 5 different activities in the course of a single evening.
  • Dead mouse stuck to the floor at the head of my bed.
  • A terrible rotting smell in my daughter’s room most likely the result of the animal that we thought we heard trapped in the wall dying. How does one extract a dead animal from a wall when you don’t even know for sure which wall?
  • Dog that has now decided the neighbor leaving for work at 4am is objectionable and barks to show her displeasure.
  • February started. This means I had to try to setup the next month’s budget on my own while pinging my husband, who was away and busy, to do one little piece. I think we were a week into the month, with me trying to save receipts, before I was ready to fund our envelopes in the GoodBudget app.
  • One kid managing to get both big toes infected due to excessive ripping off of toenails (rather than using clippers) that has left him with ingrown nails and pus seepage. This means me washing his toes nightly, spraying with peroxide, applying polysporin, and covering them. He’s getting to be a big boy. His feet are nasty.
  • Basketball coach forgetting to add me to her contact list resulting in me showing up with my excited Kindergartner at the local frozen yogurt place, only to learn the date had changed. Fortunately into the future, not the past.
  • Me calling my husband and chewing him out for not forwarding that communication on to me. Him getting his feelings hurt. Me attempting to apologize.
  • Four pairs of school dress code pants being pulled out of service due to massive rips in the knees. Two more lost their buttons. It’s a wonder the boys aren’t attending school in just their underwear.
  • Teenager on the rag.
  • Teenager poor decision making on Instagram followed closely by teenager lying, my dramatic (albeit temporary) conflict with another mother, confiscation of the iPod, worries about her social standing, stress, and nervous breakdown.
  • Flooding of the laundry room when I forgot to feed the temporary drain out the window before starting a load, most likely due to distraction caused by the stress of the Instagram debacle.
  • Throwing a laundry basket across the room in frustration after seeing the water and watching it fly toward a shelf of pottery, muttering pleas for it to drop before causing damage.
  • Breaking several of my daughter’s crosses when I rushed into her room to grab the two towels I had seen on her floor, only to learn as I snatched them off the ground that one was cradling the fragile crosses that had been temporarily removed from the wall.
  • Displaying incredible maternal fortitude by collapsing in front of the laundry room with the recently acquired towels, curling into a fetal position, balling my eyes out, and crying, “I can’t do this by myself” – all in front of my boys, who sweetly offered to help, not understanding what “this” was.

It’s times like this that I truly admire the real single parents of the world. To do this 24/7/365 takes incredible energy and dedication. Even doing it badly can take more than you’ve got to give.

The first week was the hardest. It got easier but I still can’t imagine doing it for the duration of a childhood or two… or three. Fortunately, my husband returns tomorrow. Because I’m insane, I’m trying to surprise him with some completed projects around the house. As if surviving with all three kids intact isn’t impressive enough.

DWI: Driving While (an) Idiot

I have a new theory about why teenaged drivers are so bad. I know the conventional wisdom is that they are young, inexperienced, and think of themselves as invinsible. Their frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior, is not yet fully developed. I think all of these are probably contributing factors. But I can’t help but think that so many teenaged drivers are bad simply because they are emulating what they’ve learned from their elders.

I’ve been driving my kids to school for three weeks now. It’s usually my husband’s job and I’ll be very happy when he resumes the role of complaining about the idiots at the Middle School. I can go back to just mumbling about the ones at the Elementary School I drive past on my way to work. It’ll be a vast improvement.

The road in front of the middle school is very wide – wide enough for a car on each side to pull over and still leave plenty of room for cars going both directions to pass at the same time. It’s also not a major road. The only traffic is comprised of parents dropping off their children.

And many of these parents have no respect for other drivers and some have an alarming lack of concern about the safety of their children. There’s a crosswalk. It doesn’t have a crossing guard but everyone knows it’s there and tend to watch for people walking in it. The sane parents pull over to the curb near the crosswalk. Their kid gets out and uses the crosswalk. Maybe the parent sits and watches until the kid makes it across the street, and then they pull out and continue in the same direction their car was already pointed.

Yesterday, one mom just stopped in the middle of the road, as many are prone to do, but she took the disregard for all the other drivers a step further when she continued to sit there long after her kid had finished crossing the street. I can only assume she was watching her kid walk all the way into the building. If she’s that concerned (or maybe fears the kid will try to skip?), perhaps she should park in the parking lot and walk him in. She could hold his hand for good measure if she’d like.

I was able to pull over and let Jane out by the crosswalk. By the time Jane made it across the street, the other mom still hadn’t left. I had to come up on her right side and go past her while she still sat in the middle of the road. I don’t get it.

The man today took the cake though. He did pull over – I’ll grant him that much. But he did it way before the crosswalk. I was coming up behind him and was getting ready to go past him when his daughter popped up behind his car, preparing to cross the street clogged with parents bringing their children. I sat there wondering if she was going to go and finally decided she was (wisely) waiting on me. So I started to go on by. At the same time, a car was approaching from the other direction.

At that exact moment, with his daughter standing behind his vehicle and cars approaching from both directions, this dad decided to execute a quick U-turn in the road. Of course, he was trying to do it from a dead stop in an SUV and he’s apparently not that skilled at it, so of course, he wasn’t able to complete the turn. That left him stopped perpendicular in the road; blocking me, blocking his daughter, blocking (and nearly hitting) the car coming from the other direction.

We all waited for His Highness to back up and complete his U-turn before we went about our obviously-much-less-important-than-him ways.

Jane thinks there’s no point in us griping about these people. She thinks we should just wait patiently for their idiocy and selfishness to clear out of our way. She’s obviously never been behind the wheel.

As I pulled away from the Middle School this morning, I switched the audio system back from Aux (we had been listening to Jane’s iPod) to FM. We caught the radio DJ saying, “You just have to forgive young and stupid.”

“What about old and stupid?” I asked. Daryl laughed.

A friend who teaches at the High School assures me it’s not just the Middle School parents. She has dealt with parents blocking her access to the teacher parking lot so they can let their teenaged driver extract band instruments, etc. before walking into the building. The teacher friend then waits as the mom walks around the car to the driver’s seat. Nevermind that the front of the school is the intended location for parent drop off.

I guess this makes sense though. If the parents haven’t matured by the time their kids make it to the Middle School, odds are that their kid transitioning from eighth to nineth grade won’t do the trick either.

So, see? Maybe all the bad teenaged driving is related to all the bad grown-up driving.

When It’s Time To Trade In The Lamborghini

As I drove the children to work this morning, we went past a never-opened barbecue joint, same as every morning. I don’t know the story behind it. Just that it’s an old building that had been in disrepair until 5 or 6 years ago, when someone fixed it up. It got a fresh coat of white paint with red accents. It started looking like a 50’s style diner. Then a sign went up announcing it to be “Pit Stop BBQ”. Only, it never opened. It has sat there vacant ever since.

We drove by and my 11-year-old son announced, “I love that barbecue place. I’m going to buy it one day. It’s a cool building.”

“Yep,” I said, “It’s a pretty cool building. But it’s not in the best part of town nor is it centrally located. You’d have to make sure you sold really good barbecue to get people to come to it. The best barbecue is often sold in little run-down buildings in not-so-good areas by an old black man that’s been making it for 50 years and is really good at it.”

I paused and thought about what I’d just said.

“I guess he doesn’t have to be black. It just adds to the panache. Your Poppy has eaten at a lot of different barbecue places and taken notes and done research. I think he says the best tend to be rundown places…”

We talked some more about what Poppy thought made a good barbecue place and why that might be. We compared his love of barbecue to our pastor’s and how their opinions might differ. The conversation continued in that vein until we dropped my daughter off at the middle school.

We pulled away and Daryl resumed his dream of owning Pit Stop BBQ.

“It’s going to be so cool! I’m going to put up a disco ball and we are going to paaaarrrrttttyyy!”

I laughed. “Not sure it’s big enough for a disco ball, honey.”

“True,” he said. “It’s a small building. I’ll just have to build a cellar then. One that goes under the whole town!”

“Basements are typically built before the building that they are under.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He paused.

“How much do you think that building would cost?”

“Oh, I don’t know much about real estate prices, honey. It’s not in the best part of town but the building looks like it’s in pretty good shape and it’s on a main road. I don’t know. You could maybe get it for 40 to 50 thousand, maybe?”

“40 or 50 thousand?! That much?!”

“Could be more. Who knows. You might be able to get it for less if there’s a lot wrong with the building. But if there’s a lot wrong with the building, you’ll spend a lot of money fixing it up.”

“But it’s a tiny building!”

“It’s commercial real estate, honey.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be using it as commercial. I can only cook eggs and that’s not even a full breakfast…”

“And I could only work there a couple of hours a day,” he added, thinking, I’m sure, of his full-time occupation as a fifth grade student.

“Wait!” he brightened up. “I wouldn’t be working there. I’d be the owner.”

I laughed. “Honey, the owners of small, newly opened restaurants typically work very, very long hours at their business. They don’t make enough money to hire someone else to do the work.”


Another pause.

“Ooh! I love that brick house!” he crooned as we drove past an old red brick house on the main road. “I’m going to buy that too.”


“How much do you think that would cost?”

“A lot more,” I responded. “That’s got to cost at least a hundred grand. Probably more.”

“A hundred grand!”

“At least.”

“Oh, ok. I’ll just trade in my Lamborghini for it.”

Go for it, dear.