How to Live Forever: The Fountain of Youth

We’ve been thinking about death way too much around our house.


Well, it’s October…close to Halloween. 

There are spooky decorations everywhere. 

We are reading some scary books.

My selection::

Go ahead and laugh.

Ghouls Gone Wild (you can stop laughing now) is a very fast, campy read.  I normally don’t read books like this because they are kind of far fetched.  But, I do love a good ghost story. 

I’m also reading Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier for book club.  It’s also a tad creepy.  A girl marries a guy twice her age and can’t seem to live up to the standards set by his dead wife…which are evident everywhere around the giant mansion in which they live…in the entire wing of the house they keep as a shrine to her like she never left.  It’s a spooky Downton Abbey…at least that’s how I see it in my head.

Here is what The Fourth Grader is reading::

He is reading any one of these at any time.  Sometimes he reads all the way through, sometimes not.  Some are choose your own adventure, which is cool.

He’s also been watching Goosebumps and R.L. Stines The Haunting Hour on tv.  Creepy stuff.  It’s like The Twilight Zone for kids.

With all of this creepiness, it’s hard to not think about death and the afterlife.  The other day The Fourth Grader told me he’d figured out why we don’t live forever.

“The thing is, our skin.  Our skin rots and we need to prevent that. If we could just come up with some chemical to coat our skin, we could preserve it!  And, we’d live forever!!” 

I had to explain to him that’s not how things work.

Apparently, he blew off my knowledge and decided to continue his research on his own.  In the back of the van, I heard him explain to his brother that he had found the secret to living forever:

“I know what we need to do to live forever.  I’ve found the chemical we need to put on our skin to preserve it forever.”

Wait for it….

Wait some more….

Are you really ready?

The secret to living for ever is Chapstick! 

Simply rub it all over your body, from head to toe, and you are covered…literally.  You will live forever, and your skin will be supple and silky smooth. 

Win, win.

You are welcome.

I’m also wondering if Lansinoh will do the same thing…you can read about how my daughter covered herself in that gooey sticky concoction HERE (and see a cool picture of her also).

Live long and prosper people!


Things I Learned at 3:00am On a Road Trip

We waited until the end of the summer to take vacation.  It was bittersweet…we were excited to leave town, but knew when we got back it was a mere week and a half until school started. 

We went to St. George Island, which is where I vacationed as a kid. 

It was great to share my memories with the kids. 

I’m sure they got sick of hearing “Hey, see that big yellow house?  When Uncle Keith tied a kite to a fishing pole and let out all the string he crashed it onto the roof!”


“Hey, see that house?  When Uncle Keith stretched in bed in the loft bedroom, his head busted through the ceiling!”  That Uncle Keith…he’s the one who also crossed his eyes in our family portrait.  What a guy.


This trip meant a lot of time on the road.  It was a 12-14 hour drive.  With three kids.  How do you make the best of that?  We decided to leave at 1:30am and drive in shifts so that the kids were asleep as much as possible.  This actually worked. 

But, it’s boring driving by yourself in the dark at 3:00am. 

Here are some things I learned:

It is not as funny as you might think to scream at your husband, who is dead asleep, “Aaaagh!!!  Wake up!  I’ve been going the wrong way for hours!!” and point to the Philadelphia, Tennessee sign.  It’s not funny when you see the Cleveland, Tennessee sign either.  Party pooper.

I’m hilarious at 3:30am, in the dark, all alone with my own thoughts.  Or, so I think.

My husband has a strange love of classic country music.  If I hear Barbara Mandrell sing You Can Eat Crackers in My Bed Any Time again, I will throw a box of saltines at his head.  I hate it when the kids eat anything in my bed.  Why does she let a man eat crackers in her bed?  What does this mean?

That song about someone leaving the cake out in the rain is equally annoying.

There are no good songs on the radio between 2:30am and 4:30am.  Did you already catch that theme?

All road side “Food” and “Gas” signs that have a little circle on them look like Starbucks signs at 6:00am.  Every time I saw a BP or Steak and Shake sign from a distance, my heart skipped a beat.  My hopes were quickly dashed when I got closer.

There are very few Starbucks after you leave the Cincinnati area and head south.  And, none of them are open at 3:30am…of course.

Driving through Jellico, Tennessee at 4:00am is super creepy.  I did have time to create a whole vampire escape plan in my head during this quiet portion of the drive.  In my scenario, even the sheriff of Jellico was a bad guy…obviously I’ve watched too many bad horror flicks.

Once the kids woke up, it was no longer quiet…or creepy. 

Middle Child:  Are we still in our world? 

The Fourth Grader:  How much longer?

Baby Girl:  Aaaaagh!  I don’t want to watch Pokémon again!!

Finally, we crossed the five mile bridge to the island and felt the warm salty air blow through our open windows and tickle the backs of our throats. 

Everything was just as I remembered it…except for the new wine shop…momma didn’t get to enjoy that back in the day!  Woohoo!

Finally, we have arrived.

We had a great time, and the kids did not tire of my never ending “Hey, see that??” memories.  Nor did my husband…miraculously.  Before long, it was time to pack up the van and head back to Kentucky.  And, another long road trip.

An hour in, because we left at 10:00am, not 1:30am, Middle Child asked…

“Are we in our world yet?”

It was a long 13 hours.


Why Digital Photography is so Wonderful

Remember back in the day before digital photography?  You’d take a picture and not know for maybe a week if your eyes were closed or if you got the perfect shot? 

Thank goodness we can now see immediately if our picture is perfect. 

This is why we made the birthday boy pose three times and re-lit the candles with every shot. 

Seriously, he looks like a bird in this picture.  And, where are his eyes?  He jumped up at the last minute to take a deep breath and blow out each candle.  It would have been a great shot if he’d just held still.

And put on a shirt.

So, we tried again.

With much worse results…

It’s like a slow motion camera…
Really??  Is he getting sick?  Burping? 
That’s kind of how he looks when he gets mouthy with me. 
That’s horrible.  We can do better than that.  Third time’s a charm.  And, it was. 
For the most part.
 At least he looks normal.  Now to get a shirt on the boy.
But, what about the days before digital cameras? 
Remember when your mom would take you to the photo studio at Sears and get some nice professional pictures taken? 
We had pictures taken when I was in fifth grade and my younger brother was in first grade.  They were beautiful. 
We had the faux library behind us.
We posed leaning across a wooden fence.
It was fantastic.
But, we didn’t realize the best part until two weeks later…when we saw the proofs.
Here’s how that went down:
My Brother: (rubbing his hands together like an evil genius) I cannot WAIT to see the one where I crossed my eyes!!
My Mom:  Oh ha ha.  Hilarious.  You did not.
Photographer:  Oh, yes. He did. 
<< Sound of crickets >>
I wish so hard I could go back in time and get my mom to buy that particular picture.  But, alas, I cannot. 
I only have the story to tell my kids.
And you.
So, on this day, let us rejoice and celebrate the wonderful invention that is digital photography.
Thank you Steven Sasson!
And, you learned something new today.
You are welcome.

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The Steak People: Solicitors of the Month

I love steak.  My husband loves steak.  My kids love steak.

But, I’m not going to buy it out of the back of some guy’s truck.

We’ve had a lot of solicitors in our neighborhood lately…The Money Girl, the 35 year old ‘college’ student offering to paint our house number on the curb, magazine vendors, some weird guy on a bike with a clipboard, and…

The Steak People

That’s what my kids like to call them.

The other day the kids were all in the back yard. They don’t always stay there.  They like to run around to the front door and bang on it so they can come back inside and get a forgotten toy…or a drink…or a bathroom break…or just to say ‘hi’.

Why not go back in the door they used to go outside…that would be the back door?  Probably because they like to see the annoyed look on my face when I unlock the front door and let them come inside.  Or maybe they like to see the smoke come out of my ears.  Who knows.

While the kids are out back, or supposed to be out back, I hear a knock at the front door.  I know right away it is not my kids.  It’s that annoying rhythmic knock:

Dum-da-da-dum-dum—–DUM, DUM!

My kids aren’t that coordinated.  Well, maybe The Fourth Grader.  But, I know it’s not my kids. 
None of my neighbors are home so I know it’s a solicitor.  Fantastic.  Bonus for the solicitor that I already want to punch him/her in the neck for that annoying knock.

I go to the door and see a young man, let’s call him Slick, because he looks exactly like Matt Dillon in “There’s Something About Mary” with his narrow eyes and pencil thin moustache.  Also, he is standing there with his hands in his pockets rocking back and forth on his heels.  He obviously needs to take a course in professional skills from The Money Girl.

I see the logo on his truck and it has the word ‘steak’ in it.


Hello Ma’am!  Your neighbor…

Wait a second. Let me stop you.  You guys were here a week and a half ago and I wasn’t interested.  I am still not interested.  I have already been to the grocery and I don’t have a deep freezer. 

Huh….that wasn’t us.  We’ve never been door to door.  What did their truck look like?  Black?  F10 pick up?

Uh-oh.  I’ve caused a commotion in the world of meat sales.  Meat madness?  Steak war?  It could be a reality show.

Yea, I don’t know.  But, I don’t need any meat.

Well, I’m just here because your neighbor Jane Smith’s credit card was declined for her regular order and my boss said I could see if any other neighbors wanted to buy it.

Likely story, buddy.

Nope.  I don’t want to buy my neighbor’s meat.  Or any other meat off your truck.  Or any other truck.


Now I know who has bad credit in the neighborhood. 

And, my kids have a new character with whom I can threaten them.

Do you have a lot of solicitors in your neighborhood this summer? 

The Difference Between Me and June Cleaver–or, Why I don’t Wear Pearls When I Vacuum

In an effort to get the kids to watch more ‘wholesome’ television, we borrowed Leave it to Beaver from the library.  Now that I’m a mom, in the year 2013, I really got a kick out of the differences in parenting today and back in Beaver’s time…here’s a few of the differences I noticed between me and the Beav’s mom:

June gets a call from another parent asking if she can host the teacher luncheon at her house next Thursday.

June:  Why sure!  I’d love too!  It would be an honor.

Me:  Holy cow, are you kidding me?!  How can I get out of this…what can we be doing next Thursday and every day leading up to it??  Am I saying all of this out loud?!

Ward has great news for the boys.

Ward:  I get to work on the committee to help develop the Youth Center in town boys!

Me:  Geezil Pete I got suckered into another committee.  How in the heck am I going to find someone to watch the kids so I can go to more meetings?  Or maybe I can bring them and everyone will hate me…then I can cross it off my list….

The principal (surprisingly, a lady!) calls the Cleavers at home and talks to June.  She tells her Mr. Cleaver must come to the school as soon as possible to talk to her about the Beav’s inappropriate behavior.  He has made a funny face in the class picture, but she will not tell June this detail.

June:  Oh my.  Well, could you tell me what happened?  Oh, I see.  You need Ward.  Well, I’ll tell him to call you.  Thanks!

Me:  Whaaaat?  You want to talk to my husband?  Fantastic.  Could you also ask him to start checking the kids’ homework?  Thanks.  I’ll get back to my stories now.

Ward gives June parenting advice after she blames herself for the Beav losing the Community Chest money he has collected.

Ward:  Oh June.  Don’t become one of those modern parents and blame yourself for something the kids did. (I can’t make up this stuff.  That was really what he said).

Me:  Blame myself?  Please. 

It is pretty entertaining to watch Leave It to Beaver so many years later.  I always thought Eddie Haskell was pretty slick, but he’s really a jerk!  Framing the poor Beav by changing that D- on his report card to a B+. 

Clearly, I have no life. 

Before my husband expects me to start wearing pearls and vacuuming more, I think we’ll switch back to Gilligan’s Island.  I can handle making a few coconut cream pies…especially since Kroger has them in their freezer section. 

And, I don’t have much more tolerance for words like “swell” and “gee”. 

Stay tuned as I search for more golden oldies to force my kids to watch in the van…where they are restrained quiet.

What shows from your childhood have you shared with your kids?

The Money Girl…She’s Probably Not Who You Think She Is

We live in a nice, quiet, safe neighborhood. 

For the most part.

We’ve had some solicitors lately.  Just the normal variety…my kids call them:

The Money Girl
The Steak People

I picture the Money Girl as a lady carrying two big bags of money, one in each hand, with giant dollar signs on them.  Sometimes she is crying because no one will give her more money.  Sometimes she is scary like a witch and steals children.  Hey, the picture I paint in my head is created by my kids!

Who is the Money Girl?  I’ll tell you.  It all started one day when we were in a hurry to leave for guitar lessons…please note, we are always in a hurry…please note again, we are always late.  As I am rushing around the house, I hear a knock at the door.  Said knocker has probably been standing there a while because I’m sure she’s been ringing the doorbell.  I unplugged that sucker when Middle Child rang it every 15 seconds while playing on the porch.  It was not a pleasant ‘Ding-Dong’ but instead an annoying “Ding-Dong-Ding-Dooooong……Ding-Dong-Ding-Dooooong’.

Back to my story.  The Money Girl.  The lady at the door was cheery and fast talkin’. 

Hi!  My name is Linda!  I’m from such-and-such program and am going door to door practicing my people and professional skills so that I may move back into the workforce with ease!  How am I doing so far?  Am I maintaining eye contact?  Firm hand shake?

She grabbed my limp hand and gave me a couple of good pumps.  Yikes.  And, that’s not eye contact, that’s a stare down, Linda!

My three kids have piled up behind me, along with the dog, and we are standing there with a crack in the door that is letting in every fly in the neighborhood.  I hate flies.  They love my house.  Maybe because of the smell?  Who can tell.

I informed Linda that I was sorry to be rude…hey, she was working so hard and I am totally shooting her down…but we were in a hurry to leave for guitar lessons. 

Fantastic, I have just told a stranger with crazy eyes and a crushing handshake that I’m leaving my house empty.  Brilliant move genius. 

What to do??

I left and called my neighbor…and asked her to call the cops. 

Don’t judge.  I still have my television and family jewels.  Of course, who is going to want my 500 pound Trinitron t.v. and high school class ring?

Why do we call her The Money Girl?  Because, after she came to the door, a friend posted on Facebook that a lady was going door to door asking for money.  After this, I told my kids they could only play in the back yard, in the fence, and if they saw someone they did not know that they should come inside right away. 

Of course, they like to question authority.

-Why should we come in?  Who will we see?

-Well, there’s a lady going around asking for money.  We don’t know who she is or what she wants.

-A money girl??  Is she bad?  Does she have bags of money?  What does she look like?

And thus, the Money Girl, was born.

How about the Steak People?  Well, you can read about them next time. 

We are late for a meeting, as usual…

The Boys’ First 5K

Sometimes when things don’t go as planned in my life, I am already imagining a blog post in my mind. 

The boys’ first 5K was one of those moments.

After I ran my first half marathon, The Third Grader was so excited to start running races.  I use the term ‘race’ loosely.  When I run a ‘race’ it’s more a fun run for me.  I am only competing against the voices in my head.  Extra points if you got a chuckle out of that…

I am not fast.  I used to use the excuse of “Oh, I’m getting older.  I can’t be fast.”  But when I heard a 91 year old woman ran the half marathon also…because she hurt her foot and could no longer do the full marathon…I just shut up and have no excuse now.  Everyone is built different?  Some people just aren’t fast?  I feel like I’m walking on glass in the morning because of plantar fasciitis?  Whatever.  I still try.

When The Third Grader said he wanted to do a 5K, I was all over it.  I love when they show an interest in setting a goal and working toward it. 

We signed up for the library’s Racing to Read 5K.  It’s kid friendly, flat and in a scenic neighborhood.  Well, scenic for our area. 

Of course, Middle Child found out and did not want to be excluded.  That’s fine…he ran 2 miles in the neighborhood with us. Surely he can do this.

My first clue that maybe this was not a great idea should have been when he told me he was tired that morning…as we walked toward the starting line.  Yikes.

The second, in my face, clue was when I carried him on my back the first mile.  And the third mile.  I could have just dropped out, turned around and waited for The Third Grader at the finish line.  But, that is not me.  I paid for a race.  I started a race.  I was going to cross the finish line of that race…even if we were dead last.  Even if the lady with pig tails riding the scooter passed us.  Even if the man strolling at parade pace wearing jeans and gigantic head phones passed us.

And they did. 

At first I was mad.  I wanted to run at least some of the race.  I wanted to enjoy the run with my boys.  Both of them! 

Then I started to see things I don’t normally see during races…because I am so fast…ha ha.  We walked strolled by the river and we saw a duck.  We meandered by the statues sitting on benches on the sidewalk.  We enjoyed the beautiful old houses lining the road in scenic downtown.  We got to talk while Middle Child laid lazily on my back. 

As we approached the end I put him down and told him he had to run across the finish line.


“Because that’s what you do in a race.  You finish strong.”

He took off and sprinted like someone was chasing him.  I heard someone yell “Hey!  Good job!!  You’re beating your mom!”

I resisted the urge to punch that person in the neck.

He finished strong, grabbed a water bottle and his medal. 

We searched for The Third Grader.  He finished long before us and had time to walk around, eat a pancake and search the raffle board to discover he had won a duffel bag.

Overall it was a success, but it will be a while before I carry another kid on my back…racing or not.

Are you training for any events this summer?

Just Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear a Tale…

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship

Cue thunder and lightening…because I am not sure how to spell that particular sound effect.  Although, I can hear it perfectly in my head right now. 

Why am I singing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island?  And, you are also probably thanking me for getting it stuck in your head.  You are welcome.

I LOVED Gilligan’s Island when I was a kid.  I could not decide if I wanted to be Mary Ann or Ginger, because both ladies are so fabulous.  I had a huge crush on the Professor.  My husband laughs at this, but when I point out the other possible love interests on the island he understands.  Looking back, I do wonder how the Professor kept those white shoes and shirt so clean and those neatly pressed pants so crisp.  Now that I’m approaching forty, I may have to change my crush to Mr. Howell…he could buy me things.  I don’t need a coconut phone, Professor.

Back to why I am on a Gilligan’s Island kick. 

I get so tired of the kids watching Pokémon, Adventure Time (really we don’t watch that much because I hate it), Gumball, or Jessie.  These shows are so fast paced and too mature.  Maybe I’m a prude.  So, while I was perusing the videos at the library, I ran across Gilligan’s Island.

Wooohoooo!!!  Jackpot!

Seriously, I loved that show.  I can still remember sitting on the floor in my mom’s living room eating vanilla wafers watching the episode in which they thought the island was haunted.  I know.  I’m exciting. 

Luckily, the kids love it too.  We’ve been through all of the DVDs the library owns.  They know the song by heart…who doesn’t?!  And they all have their favorite character.  They all love Ginger.  For different reasons. 

I love hearing Middle Child ‘talk’ to Gilligan on the screen…

“No, Gilligan!!  Don’t eat it!!!”

Of course, Gilligan eats it.  Oh Gilligan.

Listening to the show from the front seat of the van makes me wonder…how in the heck did so many guest stars get on and off the island, but through a comedy of errors those poor castaways were stuck?  I heard Zsa Zsa Gabor from the driver’s seat the other day!  She made it off the island!

I know I am over thinking it. 

I had the great idea that all five of us could be the castaways for Halloween this year.  Of course, how many other kids are going to understand that?  The Husband loved the idea, but I could not convince The Third Grader to be the Skipper.  Nor would Middle Child be his little buddy.  Party poopers.  Baby Girl was all about being The Movie Star though….of course.

We’ve moved on to “Leave It to Beaver”.  It’s not the hit that Gilligan was.  They say it’s too boring.  I need to find more Gilligan DVDs.  Middle Child is particularly interested in finding the episode in which they get off the island.  He wants to see them get to Hawaii and make sure the Skipper gets his nice, juicy steak. 

Do your kids watch any of your favorite childhood tv shows?  Are they as awesome as you remember?  For me, Gilligan’s Island kept its charm.  But, when I showed them The Dark Crystal, I was shocked at how cheesy it really was.  I’m sure they’ll look back on some of their favorite shows with the same feeling.

Stay tuned to hear my review of Leave It to Beaver…

Swim Team 2013

I was so excited this year.  Both boys are on swim team.  The Third Grader is actually excited about it this go ’round.  Middle Child is okay with it.  He can swim the length of the pool, but isn’t excited about early mornings in cold water.

Yesterday was the first day.  They both did fantastic!  Not perfect, but I was proud.  The Third Grader swam two laps at a time and has moved up to the next level with all the other kids his age.  Middle Child got in the water and swam laps with his new team mates.

This is going to be a great summer!!  I get to hang out with my swim team moms again and drink my wine pool side from my adult sippy cup….

Well, as with most of my stories, you know where this is going…

Today I dropped off the boys and did not stay at the pool.

My mistake.

I picked them up an hour later after enjoying my vanilla chai and a brief moment of quiet.

The Third Grader was having a blast.  After an hour in the cold water all the boys run to the shower and stand there until the hot water is gone.  He even took his towel in with him.  I didn’t care because he was all smiles and was excited to tell me how he did the Butterfly stroke today.  That’s a hard one.

Middle Child came over and was wrapped in a towel.

“Hey, your towel is dry!  Thanks for not taking it in the shower!”


We got home and he looked at me and smiled…

“I didn’t even get in the water today.  I just sat on the sun deck the whole time.”

Joke’s on him because I later found out he was messing around and tied the drawstring from his shorts to the fence and got stuck for a while.
Maybe next time he’ll get in the pool?

First Impressions and Why Shoes Are Important

Today I wore a tank top.  Why is that important?  I’ll get to that.  But first, picture the tank top.  It’s old.  It’s white.  It’s got some stains…that are covered strategically by my super cute fitted blazer that I wear over it.  Problem solved. 

Kind of.

Remember that description.

Today I dropped off The Third Grader at his art class after school.  He hopped out of the van on the street and ran in the door.  No need for me to go inside.  Awesome.  Now I can go home and start dinner.

I felt so accomplished!  In 45 minutes I made peas, mashed potatoes and Asian slaw.  The ham was already in the slow cooker.  I set the table and filled water glasses.  We could eat as soon as we got home.  Whew! 

Alright kids, it’s 5:10, let’s get to the car!  Baby Girl pops into the kitchen wearing a bright poncho I crocheted years ago that I had tried to get her to wear in the Fall.  It’s a rainbow of colors.  She’s wearing Minnie Mouse socks and has three dolls with ratty hair bundled in her arms. 

Baby Girl:  Can I bring Snow Girl, Dora and Hurley Shirley?

Me:  Sure that’s fine.  Wait for me on the front porch.

Baby Girl:  Do I need to wear shoes?

Me:  No.  That’s fine.  Just go!  We are late!

Middle Child:  Hey, do I need shoes? 

Me:  NO!

We hop in the car.  As I pull into the art studio’s parking lot I realize…

I have to go inside. 

We have to go inside.

I forgot my blazer.  I am wearing a stained tank top that is more appropriate for car wash duty and my two kids are not wearing shoes.  Fantastic.

I spot my running jacket.  It is bright pink…all the better to be seen while running, of course.  It is blinding pink and looks better with running shorts and running shoes.  It looks a little stupid with my jeans. 

Then I see a giant green flip flop for Middle Child.  I think…well, one shoe is better than none right?  Fortunately, I find another.  Unfortunately, it’s three sizes smaller.  Oh well.  Beggars can’t be choosers. 

I can carry Baby Girl. Shoes aren’t important.

It gets better. 

This is the last day of art class.  The Third Grader has made a friend and desperately needs me to meet his mom so we can arrange play dates.  Awesome. 

We meet.  She is holding a cute little girl in a teal blue tutu and matching silky top.  Her hair is in a beautiful bow. 

I am holding a dirty faced (cute) little girl wearing a bright yellow, teal and pink poncho better suited for Ugly Betty and black bottomed Minnie Mouse socks.  Zooming around me like a deranged bumble bee is Middle Child.

flip, FLOP, flip, FLOP, flip, FLOP

Because one shoe is three sizes bigger than the other. Remember?

We exchange numbers.  As we are leaving I see her toss mine in the trash. 

I’m kidding.  She didn’t really do that. 

Hopefully, we made new friends and we’ll look back on this day and laugh.  I’m thinking that may not be any day soon though.  Right now Middle Child is wearing a life jacket, top hat and spiderman bike gloves.  He’s carrying a toy carving knife. 

I’ve got some work to do.