Keep Out

We have a little room that’s tucked away in the back of the house. It opens into what we call “the big room” – an all-purpose office, guest room, gym, library, storage kind of place. The door into “the little room” is off in the corner, kind of hidden in the crowded space.

Apparently, the boys found the remoteness of the room very appealing because I found this on the door recently:

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I couldn’t help but wonder if a parental incursion would be considered authorized trespassing.

A Century or a Decade

As we were riding in the car recently, Jane leaned forward and whispered to me, “Mommy. Am I older than a century or a decade?”

I turned my head slightly and whispered, “A decade.”

“Ok, that’s what I thought but I wanted to make sure.”

She then sat back in her seat and turned to her brother, “Hey, Daryl. Did you know that I’ve been alive for over a decade?” She said it in a way that made it sound like a very impressive feat.

“Well, yeah,” he responded as if talking to a simpleton. “A decade is only ten years, Sissy.”

“Dangit!”

I think it’s getting harder and harder for her to pull one over on her little brother.

What Your Wrist Says About You

Dear Truck Stop Janitor,

I was walking by as you authoritatively lectured to the couple you had cornered in the hallway. You had your hand raised, with your middle finger and thumb bent toward each other, separated by a tiny gap.

You confidently explained that if the two fingers don’t touch, it means you are overweight. “Too skinny,” you said, gesturing toward the slightly overweight woman. “That’s what you are – too skinny.”

The woman laughed nervously and said she didn’t think so as they edged past you and hurried away. My daughter and I then entered the bathroom. I turned to her and asked, “Who can’t touch their middle finger with their thumb?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, demonstrating that she could. “Maybe I could imagine a really, really fat person being so overweight they couldn’t bend their fingers, but…”

I was ready to write you off as an ignorant fool but I had a hard time imagining someone being quite that bad so I continued to ponder it until I figured it out (I think).

You were referring to the body type test that has you wrap your middle finger and thumb around your wrist. If the two overlap, you have a small bone structure. If they just touch, medium. If they don’t touch at all, large. It’s a good test because the wrist is arguably the boniest part of your body. It’s chosen precisely because you don’t put on weight there. At least, not until you are so overweight no one would need to check your wrist to see it.

My fingers have always overlapped. By a lot. I’m a couple of pounds under being considered overweight, according to BMI. But I could put on 40 pounds and my fingers would still overlap. In fact, just before I gave birth, with 40 extra pounds and considerable water retention, they did so.

My daughter, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to touch those fingers around her wrist for a couple of years now. Athletically built, no one would dare call her overweight. She just inherited the Eastern European large bone structure of her father.

So, dude, you were spouting nonsense. My husband says that at least you were paying attention to something. I’d argue you weren’t paying much attention at all since you had it wrong. But you gave me a nice puzzle to solve, so for that, I thank you.

Sincerely,

Small-wristed woman passing by

Bagel Burger

On our way home via a familiar route, my husband noticed that a new eating joint that he had been wanting to try was now open. At the last minute, he quickly turned. “Let’s eat here! I’ve been wanting to try it! I want a bagel burger.”

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I glanced at the windows as I put on my shoes. I saw a picture of a hamburger on a regular bun. I saw pictures of donuts, bagels with cream cheese, a salad. No bagel burgers. I began to get suspicious, but the sign did seem to imply the kind of place he was hoping for, so I swallowed my reservations and headed to the door.

Upon entering, I found myself standing in a very typical donut shop, complete with the friendly Asian woman behind the counter. I scanned the menu quickly and saw that there were no bagel burgers. I began to ponder the merits of a croissant sandwich vs. a standard burger, when my husband entered the store.

“I’d like a bagel burger,” he announced to the woman behind the counter.

She stammered, “A bagel? Wait, I think we might be out. Hold on.”

I could tell she hadn’t understood what he asked for but before I could speak up, she returned. “We have a few bagels left. Only plain, blueberry, sesame seed, and wheat.”

“Ok,” he said, undaunted. “I’ll take one on a blueberry bagel.”

“You want a blueberry bagel?”

I started trying to get his attention. My frustration was rising. They were misunderstanding each other and the three children who had spent most of the morning and all of the previous day in the car were beginning to ratchet up the noise.

“Yes, I’d like a bagel burger on a blueberry bagel.”

“Ok. Do you want cream cheese?”

“Honey!” I whispered urgently, “They don’t have bagel burgers. She doesn’t understand what you are ordering.”

“They don’t?”

“No! Do you see bagel burgers anywhere on the menu?!”

“Oh.” He turned to the woman. “Can I get a hamburger but on a bagel?”

After some confusion, she agreed. During all of this, Hal was loudly calling “Daddy! Daddy!” and pulling on the front of his shirt. Daryl was repeatedly asking if he could get a fountain drink. Jane was moaning about how much she didn’t feel good. The woman was having trouble keeping track of everything that was being ordered and communication was sketchy.

I finally walked away and tried to calm down. When I get frustrated, I need things to be input to my brain one at a time. This isn’t possible with three children. Eventually, however, I had my croissant pig-in-a-blanket and bagel with cream cheese, although it took a couple of tries to get the right cream cheese. Jane had her hamburger and fries, while my husband had his on a blueberry bagel. Daryl got a blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a root beer. Hal rejoiced over his breakfast burrito and star-shaped donut with star sprinkles and an Iron Man ring on top.

“We don’t have to come back,” my husband said. “I take it you saw what kind of place it was before we came in.”

“I wasn’t sure or I would have said something but I definitely had my suspicions.”

And that was how we ended up having lunch at a donut shop. Before we left, I had managed to find my smile. But just barely.

Smells Like Candy

When I’m driving long distances, I usually like to have some sort of snack. It’s not because I’m hungry. And it’s not even that it does a particularly good job of keeping me awake. Mostly, it just gives me something to do. I find driving to be insanely boring.

As a result, when we stopped recently on a long road trip, I picked up a roll of SweetTarts, anticipating my turn at the wheel. SweetTarts and Junior Mints are some of my favorite choices because they taste really good yet don’t give me quite the calorie punch of the other gas station choices.

After we had been driving for awhile, as dark descended and the children were told to quiet down for sleep, I quietly asked my husband for them. He dug around at his feet and then passed them over to me.

A little voice immediately piped up in the back, “Daddy? What did you just give Mommy?”

“Something that she eats to help stay awake,” he responded.

I soon opened them and ate one. I placed the roll in the door handle, which was visible to Hal, who sits directly behind the driver.

“That’s candy, Daddy. Did you give Mommy candy?”

“Yes, I did, Hal. Now go to sleep.”

A few minutes of silence followed until he spoke up again. “But candy is bad for you. Why did you give her candy?”

“Because that’s what she wanted, Hal. When you are a grown-up, you get to make your own bad choices.”

The next day, we returned to the road for the final leg of our journey home. About halfway into my turn at the wheel, I quietly unwrapped the SweetTarts roll and ate one.

From the back, “What’s that smell?”

“I farted,” quipped my husband. “Does it smell sweet?”

“It smells like candy” was Hal’s rather suspicious reply.

“Do SweetTarts really smell that strong?” I whispered.

“He’s a four year old boy. He can probably smell candy from forever away.”

Taking It Too Far

There’s a remarkable irony about driving a Prius. At least, there is for us. We get such incredible gas mileage – especially when my husband drives – that we tend to think we can go farther than we actually can.

This has resulted in several close calls, including one that I blogged about <a href=”https://mybrightspots.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/almost-perilous-road-trip/&#8221; >here</a>.

However, we’ve always made it to a gas station. The Prius behaves oddly as you near the end of the tank. When the gas gauge goes down to one block, the car beeps. Fairly soon after that, it beeps again and turns itself off.

The first time this happened, my husband was alone in the car. He (fortunately) discovered that if he pulled over, put the car in park, and then pushed the power button again, the car would start and continue down the road. In his case, far enough along to get him to a gas station.

We had the opportunity to test this out again when we were returning from dropping the kids off at summer camp last summer. Again, the car restarted and we made it to a gas station. I commented on that trip about how deeply embarrassing it would have been to walk up to one of the farm houses near the highway and ask the farmer living there if he could drive us in his pick-up truck to a gas station to get gas for our hybrid.

But while there are remote, unpopulated sections of highway in Texas, I would argue that Kansas is perhaps more desolate. As we drove along I-70, he commented that we needed to get gas soon. “I think we can make it to Salina,” he said.

Sometime later, he asked me to look on his phone for the nearest gas station. The phone was unwilling to provide access to the internet, however, so we began watching for signs. We were still fifteen miles from Salina and the Google Map already loaded on his phone did not look promising.

The car gave its first beep. And then its second. Without panicking, my husband pulled over and restarted the car. We continued down the highway at a lower speed and with the air conditioner off.

The car beeped angrily. We continued along the road. It beeped again, sounding testy, and shut off again. Again, he restarted it and continued on. The carp beeped its complaint.

To our good fortune, we saw a sign indicating a gas station at the next exit. We crested the hill as the car beeped and shut off. We drifted down the exit ramp and breathed a sigh of relief as the gas station came into view. I marveled at my husband’s incredible good luck. Things always work out for him.

As we drew closer, he pointed out what I had missed. The gas station was out of business. We wouldn’t be filling up there and now we had wasted some distance and fumes on an unnecessary exit. At this point, I said, “I can’t stand it anymore. I have got to pee!”

He tried to coax his phone to look up gas stations while I walked behind the shell of one to find a private place to empty my bladder. I found success, but he did not and we were soon puttering along the shoulder, my husband turning the car on, the car beeping, then complying, then turning off.

Eventually he had to admit that we weren’t going to make it to a Salina gas station and I called AAA. The automated response asked for our card number and then hung up on me. I tried again and it hung up again.

He finally gave up on goosing the poor car along and stopped. When he took the phone, he inexplicably got a human instead of the computer and cheerfully announced, “I’ve run out of gas in Kansas!”

Forty-five boring minutes later, we were back on the road. “I thought for sure you had pulled it off again when we saw that gas station,” I said.

“Well,” he replied, “Daddy luck works on many things. For everything else, there’s AAA.”

Peering Over the Fence

While visiting my mother-in-law near Denver, CO this past week, Hal spent considerable time looking over the fence at the neighbor’s yard. He could do this from the raised porch or by climbing the fence and peering over the top like Wilson, the friendly neighbor in Tim Allen’s sit-com, Home Improvement.

He told us, just as he has on previous visits, how much he wished that house was his, pointing out all of the cool toys in the yard, including a fairly large trampoline.

“But you realize that those toys belong to the people, not the house. If it were our house, those toys wouldn’t be there.”

“Well, I wish I had that house with all the toys.”

After a couple of days pining over the toys, he finally met the young residents: a little girl about Hal’s age and her mobile, but still-in-diapers, little brother. He quickly climbed the fence and struck up a conversation. He talked incessantly and the little girl seemed to enjoy talking back.

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At one point, he took to dropping down below the top of the fence and then bouncing up, yelling “Boo!”

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Eventually, as the sky clouded up, the children went back inside. As the little girl left, Hal called out, “Hey! Where are you going?”

I couldn’t hear the response, if any. Indeed, I never could hear her part of the conversations, only his.

“Are you afraid of the thunder?”

I’m not afraid of the thunder.” Oh, really?

“I’m just afraid of the really loud thunder.” Oh, I see.

There was another pause and then Hal turned away from the fence, “I just rolled my eyes at her. Every time she walks back into her house, I roll my eyes at her. Like this.” And then he demonstrated.

The next morning, I found him back at the fence, calling for his friend.

“Hal, get down off the fence. She’ll come out when she’s ready. I don’t want you yelling.”

“But her mom said that she’d be back out in the morning and she’s not there. She might be in the house so I want to yell to her.”

“No, just wait.”

“I wish this fence wasn’t here. If the fence wasn’t here then I could just go over there and show her how well I can jump on that jumping thing. And I could go knock on her door.”

I’m sure her parents would just love that, my little Wilson.

{Note: It was a friend on Facebook who first pointed out his similarity to Wilson. I found the resemblance remarkable and was glad she made the comment.}

Zombies!

All but Daryl were enjoying some cuddles this morning. As Jane joined us, I asked if she had slept well. She replied that she had not and proceeded to tell us about the nightmare she had had just before waking. This caused Hal to “remember” his nightmares and he jumped to his knees to tell us about them.

In his best spooky voice and with eyes as wide as saucers, he began. “I had this nightmare about… a zombie! And he ate my braaaaaaaaaaains! Ooooooooooooh!” He loomed over me with his arms in the air.

“And then I had another nightmare about a big zombie. He ate my toe and then I farted on his face and he DIED!

“And then I had another nightmare about a BIGGER zombie that ate my finger and then farted on me and then I farted on him and he DIED!”

“Well now I know how to handle zombies,” Jane commented. “I just need to have Hal fart on them.”

My husband and I were smiling and laughing silently, while Jane was laughing loudly. Hal picked up he had a receptive audience and continued with glee, bouncing on the bed and flailing about as he demonstrated how each zombie died (the death throes were massive).

“And then I dreamed about this big HUGER zombie that was bigger than the whole… EARTH!” He leaned in close to my face and whispered dramatically, “It was bigger than this house, but not bigger than the bigger, biggest buildings.” Sitting back up and thrusting his arms in the air, “but it was bigger than the earth! And it ate my baby but then I punched it in the face and farted on it and it died!

“And then there was the evil monster! When it attacked, it was killed by the big… dinosaur! Oooooooh!

“And then I had another nightmare…”

“I think this boy sleeps too much,” whispered my husband in my ear. I smiled and listened to the dozen or so supposed nightmares as the boy frolicked across us on the bed.

Statue of Liberty… Attacks!

SPOILER ALERT: This post includes spoilers for “Angels Take Manhattan”, episode 5, season 7 of Doctor Who.

While riding in the car with my mother-in-law, my husband commented on his desire to go to New York City and see the Statue of Liberty. Daryl called out from the back of the minivan, “Why didn’t the Statue of Liberty go ahead and take Amy and Rory?”

He’s referring to the last Amy Pond episode of Doctor Who, Angels Take Manhattan, specifically a pivotal scene in which Amy and her husband Rory find themselves trapped on top of a building with the Statue of Liberty looming ominously on the other side of the building, mouth open in an angry snarl. The Statue of Liberty, like all other statues in Manhattan, is actually a Weeping Angel who will feed off their time energy if she can touch them. Weeping Angels can’t move while you are looking at them though. Just don’t blink.

At the start of the scene, Rory is keeping his eyes on her as he prepares to jump off the building to die and thus cause a paradox and hopefully, maybe, destroy all the Angels. But as he and Amy argue over whether this is a good idea, it becomes obvious that no one is paying the statue any attention. They have eyes only for each other.

“I’ve got five letters for you,” I quipped. This is an old family joke invoked anytime someone questions something happening in a movie or TV show. My husband used to say it to me, referring to the script. After he had used it several times, I realized, and pointed out with relish, that S-C-R-I-P-T has six letters. But the joke lives on with five.

Anyway, this particular plot point had bothered me too and I said so. “He started off watching her but then when he and Amy started pledging their undying love for each other, they started looking soulfully in each other’s eyes. She totally should have touched him then. I agree.”

“Well,” said my mother-in-law, “the Statue of Liberty is French and they can be dreadfully romantic. Perhaps she was just caught up in the moment.”

“That would make sense,” I said. “But then again, they were discussing what to do to destroy her so it seems like she would have intervened.”

My husband then joined in with his opinion on the matter: “The French never were very good at defending themselves.” Spoken like a true American.

Growing Like Weeds

Hal came into our room this morning and indignantly began to complain about his older brother. After several warnings of “you’re whining” from each of us, he managed to spit out his tale of woe.

“You know what the worst part is about being the youngest?” I asked. “Everyone is always telling you what to do, aren’t they?”

Daryl capered in about that time, prepared to defend himself if need be.

“Yes!” Hal responded, pointing angrily at Daryl, “And he tells me what to do when it’s not his job!”

I smiled at how well he was articulating his point. Gesturing toward his sister, I said, “Yes, they are both very bad about that aren’t they?” I then gave him a hug and assured him it’d be ok. Daryl began to follow him out the door but I called him to me.

Placing my hand on the back of his neck, I gently held him steady and called my husband from the closet to take a look. Both gentlemen looked slightly apprehensive about where I was going with this.

“Look at this boy. Just look at him. When did he get so insanely tall?!”

“Over the summer.”

“Wow, mom,” Jane called from the bed. “He’s almost taller than you.”

“No he’s not, but he is up to her ear.” Turning to me, my husband continued, “I think he’ll be taller than you by the time he leaves the elementary school.”

I began to press firmly on the top of Daryl’s head until it was somewhere lower than my armpit. “There. Stay down there.”

Daryl laughed and then scurried out of the room when I released the pressure.

“What’s wrong with you mommy?” asked Jane.

“She’s just feeling short” was my dear husband’s response.

“No, I’m feeling old. These kids are growing up too fast. That one…” I turned to point at the massive body spread across our bed, “do you realize there are kids at the high school this year that will still be there when she is?! In fact, there were kids there last year that will still be there when she is?”

“There were kids there two years ago that will still be there when she is.”

I looked up at him, puzzled. “No there weren’t.”

“Yes. They are going to fail.” I glared at the Cheshire Cat grin beaming back down at me before he embraced me in a hug.

I can always count on him to turn most any moment into a joke. Seriously, though. I’ve got a four year old asserting himself and demanding respect, a nine year old whose legs appear to go on forever, and a twelve year old that’s only a stone’s throw from high school. Who sprinkled the Miracle-Gro?