Halloween: Fact for Treat

Halloween CandyIn my neck of the woods, October 31st marks the day when children get dressed up in costumes and venture out into the neighborhood hoping to earn some candy for their efforts. In simpler terms, it’s Halloween. I’m never certain from year to year if another one of my children has fallen off the Trick or Treat bandwagon and decided to say goodbye to a piece of their childhood by claiming to be “too old” for such things. Last year was no exception.

When my children were little, buying a costume was the only way to go. They ran the gamut: Buzz Lightyear, Teletubbies, Blue’s Clues, Bob the Builder, Spiderman, Batman…you name a superhero and at least one of my boys has donned that cape. But as the years rolled by, their interest dwindled and they began devising their own costumes from scratch. To me, this was the best part of Halloween. Creativity at its finest! My youngest son did not disappoint last year. He and his friends banned together and not only came up with costumes depicting them as characters from the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory but they also created a skit which they performed after ringing the doorbell in search of treats.

Big Bang
Me with “Leonard”

As is standard fare in our neighborhood on Halloween, the sidewalks were jammed packed full of costumed children, bouncing around excitedly in anticipation. Little voices shrieking, “Trick or Treat!” could be heard a mile away. I balanced between being close enough to my group of middle schoolers to keep an eye on them and far enough away to keep from embarrassing them. They cracked jokes in character with Leonard this and Sheldon that as people who passed by laughed with understanding.

About halfway through our escapades, we came across a house swarming with hordes of children. At the top of a long walkway was a porch where a man dressed like Abraham Lincoln was sitting regally. Upon further investigation, it turned out that in order to receive a treat, kids were asked to give a fact about our former President. (You can’t help but admire someone who put a spin on “trick” and sprinkled some education on top!)

abelincoln2So my group of kids marched up the long walkway and stood in the long line, awaiting their turn. Tempting as it was to join them and witness The Big Bang Theory entourage meet Abe Lincoln, I decided my choice of footwear for the evening dictated I would be better off watching from afar. As I waited on the curb with several other parents, a young family approached. The little boy, dressed up like the Blue Power Ranger, was probably about 5 or 6 years old. He was hopping around like the Energizer Bunny, undoubtedly amped up from candy he been sneaking from his bag while his parents weren’t looking.

“Now when you get up there, you are going to have to give the man in the tall hat a fact about Abe Lincoln.”

The Blue Power Ranger’s eyes grew big as saucers.

“You can do it!” the mother assured him.

Blue Power Ranger assessed the situation. I could tell he was trying to decide if it was worth it.

“Mommy, phleeeeze go with me!” he pleaded.

“You got this, buddy!” the father added a friendly shove toward the porch for good measure.

“I can’t!” the Blue Power Ranger whined.

“You’ll be fine.” At this point, the mom’s voice began to have a hint of frustration seeping through it.

“Daddy, phleeeze go with me!” Always good to have a back up plan.

“Just tell him he was the 16th President of the United States of America.” Dad suggested.

“Or that he’s on the penny.” Mom added, cutting it up into bite sized pieces.

“He was honest!” I offered.

As with anything, the moment of truth finally presented itself and the Blue Power Ranger boy reluctantly made his way up the path. To him, it must have seemed like the endless hallway in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

endless hallway

After a few backwards glances at his parents begging for them to join him, the Blue Power Ranger boy disappeared into the crowd surrounding Abe Lincoln and his bucket of candy.

The waiting parents made idle chit chat, commenting on various costumes and other bits of conversations parents have while waiting for their children.

Then suddenly, Blue Power Ranger boy burst from the crowd and came barreling down the walkway. As he raced past the returning Big Bang Theory entourage, I felt certain his cold feet had gotten the best of him. Yet when he finally made his way to his parents, he was grinning from ear to ear.

You could have knocked me over with a quill pen. This was not how I expected this scenario to end.

Blue Power Ranger boy’s dad asked in a voice that indicated he shared my surprise, “Did you get some candy, buddy?”

“Yep!” the Blue Power Ranger beamed.

“Did you give a fact?” Mom asked a little disbelievingly herself.

“Yep!” he proudly exclaimed.

“Well, what fact did you decide on about Abe Lincoln?” I blurted out.

We all waited with bated breath.

And without missing a beat, the Blue Power Ranger boy informed us of the fact he came up with all on his very own.

“I told him he’s dead!”

Well, there you have it.

I have a feeling that may have been my last Trick-or-Treating endeavor for awhile. I’m sure glad it went out with a bang!

Children Trick-or-treating

“That” Time of Year

  ginger ale“It’s cold out this morning

You should be getting into bed

Can’t believe it’s that time of year again”

~Sick Puppies

To me,  “That” time of year refers to the time of year when you walk into The Dreaded Wal Mart and the first thing on display are green bottles of ginger ale and boxes of saltine crackers that look like a game of  Jenga in progress. It’s the time of year when your family gets invaded by a bug and it goes through your house like wildfire. You know what I’m talkin’ bout. Rumors of it circulate quicker than the latest gossip. People talk in hushed whispers about having had it, knowing full well they will be banished to the Quarantine Corner if anyone gets wind that they may be contagious. News of it sends us into a frenzy of alternating between hand sanitizer and Clorox disinfecting wipes.

It’s the Dreaded Stomach Flu.

Dun dun dun!

One thing I have grown to learn as a Universal Truth is the last one in the family to get the stomach virus, typically gets it the worse. I say that now from the catbird seat, watching the rest of my family stumble down the Road of Recovery, not quite well, not exactly sick anymore, but somewhere in-between. Paranoia rumbles in my tummy as the duel continues in my mind: I don’t have it / yes, I do.


Let’s face it. It’s statistically inevitable that I’m gonna get sick and we all know there ain’t no cure for the Stomach Flu.

If there was a Stomach Flu shot, I’d be the very first in line to get one each and every year.

And I don’t do needles.

My twelve year old has become my third leg, never wanting to leave my side during this epidemic (The Dreaded Wal Mart allows me to call it an epidemic with their display). I know he expects me to somehow make it magically go away and I would if  I could but all I can really do is assure him that it will be over soon and nag him to take little sips of his ginger ale and tiny bites of his crackers.

My teenager, on the other hand,  is very laissez faire when it comes to anything involving his mother.

Unless of course he needs, say, the keys to the car.

So he has kept pretty much to himself these past couple of days, only groaning at my suggestion to avoid dehydration by taking little sips of water (he doesn’t do Ginger Ale) and little bites of his crackers.

And that was where I made my cardinal mistake while sitting in the catbird seat.

What I should have said was “Honey, don’t eat or drink ANYTHING and you’ll be fine.”

Silly me to have forgotten teenagers need a whole lot of reverse psychology to get them through sick days, well days, and frankly any days that end in “y”.

Eventually, my family recovered from the Dreaded Stomach Flu.  I knew we were in the clear when my sons resumed fighting. I scoured everything with bleach like a cleaner in a mob movie. I disinfected our house top to bottom. I was spared this time but I am fully aware that the Stomach Flu lurks year round and does not discriminate.

But for now, we’re good to go.

Until the next time…


My Summer Mantra


I had visions of summer bliss, I’m not going to lie. I imagined hanging out with my boys (ages 15 and just 12) in a plethora of excitement. I envisioned laughter and memories simultaneously bundled up in little To Go boxes for safekeeping. This summer (though not actually distinguishable from any other) would be “Extra Special”, one we’d never forget. One good time right after another.

That came to a screeching halt.

About a week into summer.

The thing is, what looks good on paper and dances around in your mind, is not always exactly what ends up transpiring.

No matter how much you want it to.

My plans didn’t just deteriorate into thin air. It was a gradual agony. The kind where things go from bad to worse before you’ve actually realized–or admitted–that it has all spiraled out of control and taken on a life if its own.

And it all started with me asking these three little words: “Could you please…

(Plug in any chore)….

          empty the dishwasher….”

                                     take out the trash….”

                                                           mow the lawn…..”

mowing the lawn

The responses went as follows with translations in ( ) :

“In a minute.” (There may be good intentions with this response but they are soon forgotten)

“Mom, I will.” (Mom, you reminding me is annoying me and making me never want to do anything)

“Mom.I know. ” (I’m sticking my feet in the mud and not doing it any time soon)

“Make him do it.” (Passing the buck to brother)

I did it last time!” (Avoiding personal responsibility)

“I always do it.” (Not gonna happen)

“I’ll do it tomorrow.” (Not gonna happen EVER)

It generally takes about two seconds after the last comment for me to go berserk and start into my diatribe about being a single mother and having to DO.IT.ALL.

♫  ♪ ♪ ♪ ♫ Insert Patsy Cline singing I Fall to Pieces ♫ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ ♪ ♪

It didn’t take long for the constant stream of friends coming over to add up to One Big Giant Mess that someone inevitably was going to have to clean up, and by golly, it wasn’t going to be me. (Granted, my timeline on this event transpiring differed greatly from the boys’ opinion on the matter.)

And that’s when I had to pull out the Big Guns that were tucked away in my apron, careful not  to burn myself on the hot stove I was slaving away over.

Ready. Aim. Fire.

My artillery included some awesome examples of two parent households where the kids do more chores in a week than mine do in a year, sprinkled with ever so slight amounts of

Would Jesus treat his mother this way?


and for good measure…..


which became our new Summer Mantra.

And then, one day I realized I held the trump card in my tightly clenched fist. The deal is, I wasn’t really included in my sons’ summer plans unless I was a catalyst in getting them to one of their activities. It turns out motivation quickly becomes paramount when someone needs a ride somewhere or money is required for an activity. And with the tables turned, our conversations went something like this:

“Mom, can you… (plug in any dire need)

            take me to the roller rink”

                             give me money for the movies”

pick up so and so.”

And my responses went as follows with translations in ( ) :

“In a minute.” (Karma!)

“I will if you ask nicely.” (We mustn’t forget “please” in our sentences)

When you finish your chores.” (It’s all about give and take)

“Can’t you ask so and so’s mom?” (Passing the buck)

I took you last time!” (Avoiding personal responsibility; c’mon, we ALL do it)

“Maybe” (Not gonna happen)

“We’ll see…” (Not gonna happen EVER)

So in the end, the moral of the story is what goes around inevitably comes around and sometimes it’s best to just throw in the dish towel because it all works out in the end and summer doesn’t last forever.  (This said with the full confidence of having school supply shopping and registration behind me!)