Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bob and Zach are back

The Elves on the Shelf have returned for the 2104 Christmas season, and it appears they are not fans of how "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" pokes a little fun at this holiday tradition.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bunko job

Our growing 9-year-old son’s bedroom was smaller than the less oft-used guest room. So when he asked if he could switch rooms, I decided to grant His Highness’s royal wish.

I sincerely thought I could dismantle his large bunk bed and move it into the bigger room.


But before you question my mental status, I’d like to state for the record that I was doing just that.

Armed with only an Allen wrench and a flathead screwdriver, I was like the super-fan-ta-bu-lous Bob Vila, only in reverse.

The first bolt?

No problem.

I popped that baby out of there like I did my son’s first loose tooth.

I was flying through the process, envisioning my husband’s return home from work where I would triumphantly show him what I had done.


I even practiced my “Ta-da!

I wanted to have just the right amount of flair, you know, without dipping into the category of obnoxiousness. He’d brag to husbands everywhere how much his wife rocks an Allen wrench.

But, like the tragic heroes of Greek mythology who counted their chickens - er, drachmas or whatever they counted back then - before they hatched, the universe decided to screw with me in the form of one tiny, quarter-inch, seized bolt.

Oh, I don’t think so.

I stomped down the stairs and into the garage, threw open the lid to my husband’s tool box and grabbed another - larger - screwdriver.

I can’t tell you what I planned to do with it, mind you, but it seemed like a good tool to start with.

I stomped back up the stairs, aligned the Allen wrench on one side of the bolt and wedged the screwdriver onto the bolt’s fastener and proceeded to turn the bolt counterclockwise.

Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty, you know.

I gripped the tool handles tightly, squeezed into the scant six inches of open space between the bed and the wall, braced my shoulder against the beam and turned with everything I had inside of me.

And blew out a kidney.

And tore a rotator cuff.

Holy mother of God. This is war.

I threw down the screwdriver and stomped back down the stairs.

(I’d like to say it was at this point I got smart and just grabbed the tool box to take back upstairs with me. But I can’t say that without lying about it. So I won’t.)

I grabbed something that looked like a cross between a pair of pliers and the forceps they used on me when my son was born.

If they got a 9-pound baby outta my uterus after 24 hours of labor, then that seized bolt was MINE!


73 minutes later....

I won’t lie to you. By this time I had lugged the toolbox up the stairs and tried every *#&% tool we had.

I even tried drilling it out. No luck.

And that’s when I spotted it.

The hammer.

Just sitting there in the bottom of the toolbox.

All alone.

Calling to me.

I bent over and picked it up, hefted it in my hand, testing its weight, and thought, “Just one swing. Just one. Then all my troubles will be over.” I smiled.

Just as I swung the hammer back in a large arc over my head - I heard this behind me, “Hi, Mom.”

Oh, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world.

With the hammer frozen over my head, I turned to see my son standing in the doorway of his bedroom. He smiled at me and said, “I just wanted you to know I’ve been downstairs praying for you. I know you can figure this all out.”

I turned back to the bed and muttered, “Well played, you little son of a bunk bed. Well played.”


When my husband returned home from work a bit later it wasn’t to congratulate me on my awesomeness, as I had envisioned.

Instead, he found me crying in a huddled mass underneath the bunk bed, clutching the hammer to my chest and babbling about my kidney.

First, he fixed me a really strong drink. He’s a good man.

Then he grabbed the drill and ripped out that bolt like it was butter.

I’d like to think I’d loosened it for him.

At least...that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweating the sweets

After 41 years on the planet I finally got smart.

I didn’t buy Halloween candy early this year.

Past experience has taught me well.

Buy candy early. Eat all the candy. Throw up.

Buy more candy. Gain 10 pounds.

So I decided to Just Say No this year and wait until the very last possible second to get candy for the little tricky monsters.

However, what I didn’t count on was my family’s less-than-stellar reaction to my plan.

“WHAT?! WE DON’T HAVE ANY CANDY YET?!” my husband screeched the morning of the big day. “THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!”

Whoa. Settle down there, cowboy. 

It’s not like I forgot to buy beer.

“Don’t worry,” I patted his arm. “I’ll get some later today.”

He puffed out his chest with all the self-importance of a guy who’d just planted a flag on the moon for all of mankind and announced, “No, I will get the candy this year.”

I’m not sure if he was expecting a fight, for me to defend my candy-buying responsibilities.

Like that was gonna happen.

“Don’t forget to grab something that’s not chocolate and something nut free,” I advised as he made his way to the garage.

He stopped, turned back around and grunted, “Huh?”

His eloquence is overwhelming.

I sighed, “Because some kids don’t like chocolate and others could be allergic to nuts.”

He looked like he’d just licked a lemon.

“What? Who doesn’t like chocolate?” he muttered and headed for the door.


You ever try to describe what Smarties look like over the phone?

Go ahead. Try it.

The phone rings.

Me: “Hello?”

Husband: “What should I get that’s non-chocolate?”

Me: “Smarties. Kids love Smarties.”

Husband: “What are Smarties?”

Me: “They’re like Sweet Tarts but smaller. Best thing ever invented for dentists.”

Husband: “Why don’t I just get Sweet Tarts?”

Me: “I don’t care. Get Sweet Tarts.”

Husband: (after a brief silence) “I don’t see any Smarties. What do they look like again?”

Me: (after I rolled my eyes) “What happened to the Sweet Tarts?”

Husband: “Just thought I’d look for Smarties first.”

Me: (for the Love of God) “They are round.”

Husband: “What color are they?”

Me:  (I wanna die) “All kinds of colors.”

Husband: (after a brief silence) “That doesn’t help. How big are they?”

Me: (I know about 12 different ways to kill him) “Jeez, about the size of a dime, I guess. Maybe a little smaller. And they’ll be stacked together in a roll.”

Husband: (after yet another brief silence) “I don’t see them on the shelf. I’m just gonna get Sweet Tarts.”

Me: (thank you, Jesus) “Sounds great. See you at home.”

Husband: (after a brief silence I hear him yell like he just discovered that beer has been given its very own spot on the Food Pyramid) “Oh, wait. I found them! I found the Smarties!”


That’s about 10 minutes of my life I will never. ever. get. back.


He arrived home with no less than 37 bags of candy. “What have you done?” I wailed. “There’s too much candy here!”

He shook his head and sagely said, “No, we’ll be fine.”

I waved to the plethora of sugar and pointed out, “You bought too many different kinds. You put all this in a bowl, give a kid this many options, and his head is gonna explode.”

He scoffed and said, “You’re crazy.”

I shook my head, “No, seriously, I’ve seen it. Three is the magic number. You have more than three kinds of candy and the kid will just stand there, looking into the bowl like he’s a fortune teller reading tea leaves and unable to make a decision. Then the parents nudge his side and mutter ‘hurry it up,’ which doesn’t help at all. Because then the kid starts hyperventilating. He picks up one kind, then puts it back. Picks up another kind, then puts THAT one back. By this time the parents are threatening to take away his XBox if he doesn’t move it down the street. Then he starts to cry.”

I looked at my husband and said, “Is that what you want? Do you wanna make little kids cry?!”

His eyes were THIS BIG. Then he cried, “I don’t wanna buy candy any more!”

Next year?

We’re moving to the moon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Little white lies

Let’s be honest. We lie to our kids.


Like how all the Snickers bars are gone (they’re not).

Like how the blue shirt goes with the red pants and neon yellow socks (it doesn’t).

Like how their crafts project is the most spectacular piece of art that ever graced the earth, rivaling both the “Mona Lisa” and “Dogs Playing Poker” (it’s not).

These little white lies are not meant to be hurtful. Rather, the opposite. Their purpose is to spare tender feelings, bestow warm fuzzies, establish trust in a “the world is full of rainbows and unicorns” kinda way.

Except in the case of the Snickers bar.

Nobody comes between me and chocolate.


So lying is a rite of passage for parents. But it comes as a shock when you discover your world of little white lies is precariously perched on a towering pyre full of spark-worthy kindling just waiting for a match to light up the world.

Enter Indiana Jones.


In the same vein the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man threatened to be the innocent-looking downfall of the brave Ghostbusters, I was blown away when I discovered that the swashbuckling professor of archaeology and romancer of females would one day waltz in and spark a discussion I wasn’t quite ready for.

Over the years, our young son had occasionally popped up with a question regarding where babies come from.

So we said what every parent says, “A man and a women meet, fall in love, get married and have a baby.”


That’s all the information they need at the time.

Once in a while, as the years passed and he spent more time observing the world around him - and learning how to do armpit farts - he would ask for a little more clarification.

“How does the baby get into the mommy’s tummy?” or “Does the daddy have to KISS the mommy first? YUCK!”

G-rated stuff, my friends.

So all was great in our world as we waited until that fateful day when puberty reared its temperamental head and necessitated “The Talk.”

But thanks to that fedora-wearing, whip-toting windbag that day showed up sooner rather than later.


There we were. Watching the fourth installment of the Indiana franchise. Those unfamiliar with the storyline might like to know that the movie takes place a couple of decades after we first meet Indy and his search for the ark of the covenant.

(Spoiler Alert) About halfway through film #4, we discover that Indy and his long-ago love, Marian, have a son. EGADS!

Considering this was about the fifth time our nine-year-old son had seen the film, I wasn’t prepared for his unexpected reaction.

But today was a special day, and it appeared those brain synapses of his were firing especially fast.

He frowned, looked at me and said, “Hey, if Indiana Jones and Marian never got married, then how did they have a son?”



I opened my mouth to answer. Something. Anything. A set of words that, when strung together, would help dig me out of this sticky situation.

But his sweet baby face looking at me for a little honesty was just too much to handle.
I decided it was time to face the music.

“Well, kiddo,” I said gently, bracing for impact, “men and women don’t have to get married to have a baby.”

Then, in a PG kinda way, I briefly - BRIEFLY - explained just a little bit about the proverbial birds and bees.

When I finished, he jumped from the couch and tore from the room.

I. Am. Screwed.


At first, I thought he was joking. But when he didn’t return, I went looking.

And found him sitting in the office, curled into a big chair, his head down, arms hugging his knees.



I leaned over and gently touched his shoulder. “I’m really sorry, honey, but I didn’t want to lie to you any more.”

He raised his head, a couple of tears stained his cheeks. He looked me straight in the eye and snarked, “Mom, you are creeping me out! I don’t want to hear anymore.”

OK. He wasn’t ready. Lesson learned.

The truth is overrated. Little white lies are OK.

At least until you’re 10.