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.

saltine

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…

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Curiosity…well, there’s that.

I see you

I have a propensity for curiosity. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. We’re not talking about the kind of curiosity where the girl in the scary movie goes investigating the noise she heard while home alone babysitting two sleeping children. It’s the kind of curiosity where maybe there’s a line, and maybe you’ve crossed it.

Now at the end of the day, one could argue that we live in a curious society. Reality shows, for example, have us boldly delving into the abyss of strangers’ lives where we clearly have no business going.

And yet we’re begging for more.

There’s a story in William Bennett’s Book of Virtues for Children about a little boy who never uses the Please that resides in his mouth. The Please decides to escape from the brother who never uses him and run over to the brother who does use his Please. That’s what I feel about my Curiosity. She pries my mouth open whenever she pleases and asks whatever she is dying to know….

 It’s no wonder curiosity killed the cat.

Kitten trying to get at a goldfish

I have always been a curious soul. If something doesn’t make sense, I like to get to the bottom of it.

Facebook_logo

So when Facebook came along, I couldn’t wait to discover what had happened to all those people I knew Way Back When. Did they get married and live Happily Ever After? Were they successful in their careers? What kind of lives were they living? Did all their dreams come true? Each new friend request that popped up meant an exciting new adventure of discovery was about to begin!

And as with most everything, one thing led to another and each friend led to another and so on and so on and so on…

Well, it turns out you can make a living out of “Getting to the Bottom of What People Are Up to Since the Last Time You Saw Them.” I just haven’t figured out a way to get paid for it.

But it has a price and oh, will it cost you.

It will cost you memories you once cherished.

It will cost you redefining  what you believe you knew Way Back When.

All because things don’t always turn out how you perceived they would and sometimes that’s a really big bummer.

He puts the wedding ring on herFor example, I momentarily (we can define that later) got REALLY hung up on why a friend of mine from childhood didn’t marry the man I was certain (as I’m sure many others were as well) she was destined to. They SO seemed like they were heading straight toward Happily Ever After. When I clicked on photos and saw a different man standing next to her at the altar I was perplexed. How did this happen exactly? What went wrong?

Why? Why? Why?

So I did what any person located in my predicament would do. … I kind of creeped on her Facebook page a bit searching for clues to this unimaginable mystery. C’mon, you know you’ve been there, done that, got the Creeper McGee tee shirt. Deny it all you want but I know.

But there were no explanations to be found.

No indication whatsoever of why she married someone completely different! I briefly toyed around with the idea of asking her in a roundabout way what happened to Happily Ever After but quickly came to terms with the fact that there was no tactful way to accomplish this. In a moment of complete insanity, I contemplated asking her point blank what the hell happened but figured the response I would get would probably come in the form of being un-friended.

So I just left it.

More or less.

I mean with 900 plus friends on Facebook there is plenty to choose from as far as creeping* goes.

young woman in computer lab

So my creeper escapades on Facebook basically led me to the following conclusions:

  • people I thought would DEFINITELY march down the aisle and walk straight into the Land of Happily Ever After either a) didn’t or b) ended up getting divorced just like I did
  • complete fly-by the-seat-of-their-name-brand-pants idiots ended up getting better jobs than I did because of WHO they knew instead of WHAT they knew, and, yes, this REALLY pisses me off
  • good friends I should have keep in better touch with, I didn’t, but instead of feeling guilty about it I can at least like their posts and wish them Happy Birthday and occasionally post a memory on their wall
  • people I suspected were gay, are
  • some people who seemed really cool Way Back When ended up being Super Staunch Republicans and I had unfriend them because of their Super Scary Political posts
  • some people didn’t really deserve the lots in life they got and that really sucks
  • some of my ex-boyfriends ended up being exactly where I never wanted to be and I am SO grateful we didn’t end up together
  • some of my ex-boyfriends married REALLY beautiful girls and look REALLY happy in their  profile pictures and I have to admit this sometimes makes me feel REALLY (ugh!) jealous
  • some of the girls who weren’t so nice to me in school and who I friended only to see if they failed miserably in life turned out to have similar Parenting Perils and we ended up having a lot in common in the Raising Kids Department which, in the end, makes all the ugly snarkiness on both our parts disappear (LIKE!)
  • sometimes, people FINALLY got what they deserved and although I know smirking at this revelation requires me to ante up to the Karmic Tollbooth, I secretly think it’s worth it 😉
  • some friends I would LOVE to reconnect with have never materialized on Facebook (or perhaps more accurately, I am not savvy enough to locate them) and this makes me sad
  • Some people who said they were going to do something or said they were going to be something ARE and that’s REALLY awesome and inspiring

The bottom line is, things didn’t turn out the way I thought they would for a lot of people I knew Way Back When. Just as my own did, their story veered off the course it was set for and went in a totally unforeseen new direction.

And at the end of the day, that’s ok.

Perhaps those same people are creeping on MY Facebook page wondering why I didn’t become this or that, how come I didn’t stay married or, let’s be honest, why on earth I am STILL living in the Midwest when everyone knows you can take the girl out of California but nothing on earth can take the California out of the girl.

So, when you’ve finally logged off  Facebook, maybe you have to Byron Katie it back to you and realize you probably didn’t turn out the way you thought you would either.

And that’s ok too.

Byron Katie

*For my mom, the definition of creeping courtesy of urbandictionary.com:

creeping
Following what is going on in someone’s life by watching their status messages on Instant Messengers such as MSN, and their updates to their social networking profiles on websites like Facebook or MySpace. Akin to stalking in the real world, but usually done to people who are your friends that would normally share this information with you, however you’re just too busy to keep up conversation with them.
I see you’ve got a new cat, dumped your girlfriend, moved to a new apartment, had a fight with your sister, and your goldfish died. Yes, it’s true, I’ve been creeping you, just been so busy with finals that I haven’t had a chance to call or write until now.

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?

Ever?

and for good measure…..

MOM

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!)

summer

The Sticky Trap Scenario

When we moved into our new house, we had a bit of a spider situation that needed to be addressed. Because our house had been vacant for over a year, the spiders apparently felt free to move in and take over. Brown Recluse spiders are not uncommon in this neck of the woods and I was no stranger to them. I called a pest control service, and as an extra precaution, set out some sticky traps that I got at the Dreaded Wal-Mart.

Prominently displayed on the package of the sticky traps was a picture of a snake as well as spiders and other vermin. Although I shivered at the thought, I laughed at the picture of the snake, thinking it a ridiculous notion such a thing could happen on a rectangular piece of cardboard with adhesive on it.

As with anything one thinks improbable, typically an opportunity to prove otherwise presents itself. My opportunity came while preparing for a garage sale. Things that go into garage sales generally reside in places unvisited for lengths of time. My stuff was in the downstairs storage room below the car port. It hadn’t been left unattended completely. Intermittently I would venture down there to retrieve something such as holiday decorations, a stray DVD or a forgotten piece of furniture. On several occasions I had gone down there in flip-flops desperately trying to locate a missing photograph or the likes.

On Friday morning when I set out to organize for my garage sale, the only thing on my mind was determination. I had the day off work and the sale was scheduled for the next morning with no time to waste in between. I was on a mission and enlisted the help of two of my bestest friends, Tammy and Stacy. (One has to insert words such as “bestest” when referring to friends helping with such things as garage sales). I warned them there could be Brown Recluse spiders and advised them to avoid the sticky traps as they were hard to remove from shoes.

I went solo to get started, rushed as usual, wanting things to get done so when I flipped up the plastic shelves, it took me a moment – ever so brief – to realize what I was holding in my hands.

A sticky trap…

Stacy later posted on Facebook “Heard a scream from Melle Richardson like I have never heard come out of another human being. Tammy and I were fairly certain a dead body had been found or a limb had been amputated. Thank goodness it was “just” a snake.”

Actually it was”just” two snakes. Two snakes stuck to the sticky trap. Just like in the picture from the sticky trap wrapper that I found to be a ridiculous notion. According to Tammy (who launched into BEST FRIEND EVER status by going down and dealing with the snakes) one was still alive!  (Spoiler alert: Photo below!)

The three of us weren’t that interested in making money at the garage sale once we realized snakes were involved  but our choices were limited. Signs had been hung up. There was an ad in the newspaper. It had been announced on Facebook. People were coming at 7

“We should have had the Hemlock!”

o’clock the next morning and the stuff needed to be brought up to the car part so it could be priced and prominently displayed. Stat!

So we donned our big girl pants and our gloves. Stacy, pregnant to boot, offered to get the boxes on the top but not the bottom (launching her to BEST PREGNANT FRIEND EVER status). Tammy assured me we could tackle any more snakes we might encounter and I believed her.

We survived without any further ado with snakes.

Later, I spent some of our garage sale profits on more traps and lined the storage room floor with them. It’s my feeling if there were two snakes, the rest of their family is probably plotting their revenge.

But that’s just me.

To Blog or Not to Blog…That Was the Question

Everyone is blogging.

Okay. Maybe not everyone. But let’s face it.  Almost everyone.

Right?

Lots of people I know blog. They blog about the fabulous trips they’ve taken around the world, or the good deeds they’re sprinkling across the universe. They chronicle their savvy parenting skills or regale recipes and craft masterpieces they stole from Pinterest. They scatter sports statistics that make your head spin. You name it, they’ve blogged it.

Me? Blogging will go from Beta to Blu-Ray before I narrow down a topic to write about…

  You’re a blogger,

He’s a Blogger,

Wouldn’t you like to be a Blogger too? ♪

So I ask myself the question:

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Of course my blogging thought process goes from zero to Arianna Huffington personally handing me the Blogger of the Year award even though I am not even sure there actually is one.

But that’s just me.

And then I realize that is the point because really, at the end of the day, blogging simply translates to “Enough about me. What do you think about me?”

Eureka, the glass slipper fits, thank you very much! I have FINALLY found my niche in this world.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout.

So without further ado (pun totally intended), let’s get this blog started.