My Twinkie Apocalpse Story

 

Yeah yeah, this is everywhere today. Deal with it.

In case you were living completely in the dark and haven’t heard the news, Hostess, maker of Twinkies, is crocodile. DONE-dee folks. Doors are closing and production has stopped. The little cakes of golden goodness stacked in the semi trailer out on the interstate right now are the last Twinkies. EVER.

Upon hearing this I quickly realized that, to the best of my knowledge, my children had never had a Twinkie. And soon, the opportunity would pass. My children could very well be members of the first twinkie-less generation in many decades. How horrific!

I knew that I had a very important mission to complete this morning. I HAD to find my children some Twinkies. My poor deprived children should not have to suffer through a life completely devoid of Twinkies!! No soda. To cable. No tv in their rooms. I have no problem being a mean mom. I kind of enjoy it sometimes, truth be told. But, I have to draw the line somewhere. Come Hell or high water, I was getting my babies some Twinkies!!

I prepared myself for a long and arduous journey. I strategically planned my route. Grocery stores, dollar stores, gas stations, they were all fair game. I checked my purse for my knife. Try and take my kids Twinkies and I WILL CUT YOU. Totally kidding. I don’t think my pocket knife could cut warm butter. I *might* give you a dirty look, or even call you a name though.

After I felt mentally prepared for battle, I took a deep breath and entered the first grocery store. I tucked and rolled from one row of shelves to the next. Then dove behind the liquor for cover. I sprinted that last few yards to the snack cake section. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was completely SHOCKED by what I saw.

(And really? Um, that would have totally messed up my hair. I just strutted right over there, pausing briefly at examine the wine selection)

Anyway, back to the shocking moment. ****imagine suspense building music****

***more music***

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THE SHELF WAS FULL! Like completely stocked.

The problem? FOUR FREAKING TWENTY NINE A BOX.

Yeah, my kids were gonna have to manage a full and happy life without Twinkies.  Sorry kids.  Your momma is a cheap skate.

But, I DO love my children.  Very much.  So I stopped at Wal-mart as I made my way to the office.  I had a few other things to grab anyhow.  I didn’t bother being all covert or anything.  I even saw a few lovely ladies from church and told them they better stock up!  See how nice I am??  There were still several boxes on the shelf- and only $2.50.  Take THAT Mommy guilt!  Ha.

Now, this is where the story gets interesting.  You know my life doesn’t operate on a normal wavelength, right?

I am loaded down with my 50lb purse (really, it weighs more than each of my kids.  I don’t even know what is in there anymore.  Apples, hot wheels, cows, tractors… occasionally turkeys or two liters of soda.  Whatever.  I ALWAYS win at the purse game.)  My laptop bag with computer and like 8 books, some files, and other random junk on top of that, then, of course, my diet coke.  My phone starts ringing as I approach the door.  I somehow manage to get to it without dropping anything, only to see it is the office calling.  So, rather than politely answer, I yell out “I am here!  WHAT DO YOU WANT??”

Damn Twinkies.  I am 5min late for an appointment.  I drop half the stuff and run back out the door.  But I stop short as I climb into my poor battered minivan.  I had been contemplating stashing one of the two boxes of yumminess since in the store.  Now, I was rushing out the door to the appointment for which I was already late.  With NO breakfast.  It would be incredibly rude to allow my stomach to grumble and growl in the presence of clients.  RIGHT??

Before I go any further I need you to understand something.  I used to eat Twinkies.  A lot.  Like every day after school I would have Twinkies and a grape soda.  Or Cheetos and a grape soda.  Yeah, no wonder there is an obesity epidemic!  I stopped eating Twinkies long before I, erm, bulked up.  I, prior to this morning, had not had a Twinkie in what I would estimate to be around 20 years.

So, I threw open the van’s sliding door, digging frantically (I am late remember) for the right bag.  Upon finding it I tore the box open, sending cream filled cakes everywhere.  I grab one, hop into the driver’s seat and off I went.  I looked at it longingly, mouth-watering as I maneuvered out of our parking lot.  I held it oh so gingerly, being careful not to smash it and cause the precious filling to spill out as I fumbled to buckle my seatbelt while speeding toward my destination.  Finally, using my teeth I tore into the crinkly plastic wrapper.  It didn’t resist my demands and soon, the Twinkie was all mine.

I savored the first bite.  Chewing it slowly, carefully.  I let the flavors roll around my tongue, consume my mouth.  I took note of the textures.  The creamy sweet filling.  The… saw dust like, chemical tasting cake.  WHAT??  It was grainy and weird and squishy and GROSS!!  I immediately threw the rest of the Twinkie I fought so hard to find out the window.  I tried to force myself to swallow the rest of the awkward combination, a mix of sawdust and sweetened shaving cream plus some formaldehyde or something.  I couldn’t do it!  At the next stop sign I thrust my door open and spit that nastiness onto the pavement.  I sure hope some poor squirrel doesn’t lose his life in pursuit of THAT.  I was still doing a diet coke gargle when I pulled into my appointment.

Sorry Hostess.  I am not going to miss you after all.  I am, however, so very sorry for all of the families dealing with the losses caused by this closure.

 

Now, what on earth do I do with all those Twinkies??  Think I could sell ’em on eBay in a few years?  They last foreverrrrrrrrrr you know!

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Parents PLEASE read!!

My five year old daughter rode the bus home yesterday.  The problem?  I didn’t know it.

She wasn’t *quite* this happy when I got home last night 😦

Now, this post is not at ALL about HOW that happened.  I know the sequence of events that led up to it, and I am confident it will not happen again.  I am comfortable with the procedures in place to keep this from happening.  It was just a fluke.  There is no blame, no anger.  That is not what this is about so please don’t try to take it there.

What I want to talk to you about it what happened after she got off the bus.

She pulled her key out of her backpack and went inside to wait.  She watched some tv.  She had a snack.

Thank God- praise God- that we had conversations about this.  Thank God I had given her a key!  She doesn’t ride the bus home often, but a little over a month ago I decided she should have a key just in case.  When we talked about it I told her that, while it would never be planned for her to be home by herself, it could happen… I told her that I could have a flat tire or something.  Nothing scary.  Then we joked about her having the run of the house- and tv!  No brothers there to demand Mighty Machines or He-Man.  Plus no one to dictate her choice of snack (though she would probably choose an apple over raiding the freezer for ice cream.  Not sure how she is my kid sometimes).  Fortunately we talked about it a few times, but always in a light and fun way.

I know she was scared last night.  She was obviously very upset when we finally made it home… about 2 hours after she made it home AND about 15min after it got pretty dark.  I thought she was at her school, so we had gone there to pick her up!  The drive home from the school was the longest of my life, but because I knew we had these talks and had plans in place, I was not freaking out.  I was just anxious to get there and hug my baby.

She sobbed a pretty good relieved cry when we got home, but she was fine in just a few short minutes.  Of course we talked about it most of the evening.  She was pretty sick of hearing how proud we were of her by night’s end!  After she had ample time to calm down, we went over a few more instructions in case it were to ever happen again (praying it doesn’t!).  Those may have included doing some laundry and sweeping the floor to help her pass the time… What?  Keeping her busy will surely make her less anxious!  In the end though, she was relaxed enough about it all to joke, even last night.

I am not a big “what if” scenario kind of person.  I really just don’t see the point.  But I would have died to think that my baby girl sat out in the cold all by herself for almost two hours with no clue what was happening.  I think that knowing it was something we had covered made all of the difference for both of us.  Even though I never thought it would happen, it did.  The best laid plans…

Now, all of that said, I know I can never cover every what-if with my kids.  Nor would I want to!  Talk about a way to pave your kid’s path to zoloft!  But empowering kids so they can handle unexpected situations is an awesome thing.

This, by the way, is not at all me patting myself on the back.  I really hope that I am the idiot parent for waiting a month into the school year to have this conversation with my child.  I pray that every person that reads this has already gone over all of this with their wee ones.  If not, I hope our little fiasco will change that.

The other thing I learned- don’t judge.  Nothing wrong with a 5yo having a cell phone!  Only kinda kidding.

No, I am not buying my daughter a cell phone!  I am going to actually plug a phone into our landline that we have never, ever used.  Oh, and teach her what a regular phone looks like and how to use one!

*Also please know the administration has contacted me, is following up on exactly how this happened and what additional procedures can be put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  Good things will come of this!

Pay it forward peeps!

 

 

As many of you have already read on Facebook, the kids and I were blessed by a random act of kindness a few weekends ago.  We were grabbing some lunch at Taco Bell and when I pulled up to the window I was informed that our order had been paid for by the gentleman in front of us!  I had been so busy trying to figure out what the kids wanted to eat, getting them to sit still, stop fighting, stop yelling, stop making me insane, that I couldn’t even tell you what kind of vehicle it was that paid.  I have done this a time or two, but I had never been on the receiving end!  I was so taken by surprise that I, sadly, didn’t immediately pay it forward and pay for the person behind me.

The cashier was clearly moved by the gesture.  She handed me a note from the gentleman, saying that the Christian radio station he listens to had been doing a campaign of random acts of kindness (JOY FM) and he wanted to participate.  It led to some wonderful conversations on the ride home, discussing how God wants us to show love and kindness to everyone, even strangers.  Even when we get nothing in return- especially when we get nothing in return.  Isabelle even asked that we pray for the “nice guy that bought us lunch”.  It was such a great real life teachable moment!

As I posted on Facebook, we can all benefit from being on either end of a random act of kindness.  Since it happened, the kids and I have been discussing different ways we can show God’s love to those around us, including strangers.  I thought that, especially with the upcoming holidays, it would be a great time to share some of our ideas!

We have had the opportunity to do several of these, but not all of them.  We are working on it though!  Some are for strangers, some are for people you know.  These are some simple and inexpensive ideas that would be easy for anyone to do… so be sure to fill us in and share your stories!  The kids will love hearing about their ideas in action!

1) Pay for the person behind you at a drive thru.  (make sure it isn’t a full conversion van or bus if you are on a budget 🙂 )

2)  Blessing Bags- we are in the process of making our 3rd batch!  Fill large ziplock baggies with some toiletries- soap, toothbrush/paste, deodorant, comb, etc.  We always include a pocket Bible and a note from our family and a picture or two from the kids as well.  Have them handy in your vehicle to give out to people asking for help at intersections, etc.  These can also be a huge blessing to your own family when you realize you have forgotten to pack toothbrushes or other toiletries when you are out of town!

3)  Send a card.  Just let someone know you are thinking of them.  Or send it incognito.  I recently sent a card “from” Justin Bieber to a friend’s daughter, who happens to be a HUGE fan.  She taped the reaction for me.  That was worth 10 times the cost of the card!

4)  Send a Box of Sunshine.  This one takes a little more effort, but it is worth it!  Gather a bunch of yellow stuff… candy, gum, stickers, candles, just fun random stuff.  Shove a big yellow smilie face balloon on top and tape it up.  Send to a friend that needs a little pick me up.

Kind of like a box of sunshine… a carry-on with a kid!

5)  Leave your quarter in the cart at Aldis when you return it.  It really sucks to get to Aldis and realize you don’t have any quarters!

6)  Put a thank you note or funny card in the mailbox for your mail carrier

7)  When you stop at a gas station on off the highway, pick up a cup of hot soup, or a cold drink depending on time of year, for the homeless person at the overpass.  (side note- this one can be tricky.  Much to Keith’s amusement, as he tends to roll his eyes when I do this stuff, the last time I did this we got back to the highway and the guy was GONE!  Luckily he had just moved across the road.  Otherwise Keith’s remarks would have earned him the soup.  In his lap.)

8)  Smile.  Just smile at people.  This doesn’t cost a thing and can really brighten a day!  Repeat often 🙂  ALSO!  This applies particularly to the people giving their time to stand outside Wal-Mart, grocery stores, etc to collect for the Salvation Army, MDA, etc.  They are doing a great thing, so instead of ducking your head and avoiding eye contact, smile at them!

A smile just makes everything a little better!

 

9)  That brings us to THANK YOU!  *Hopefully* you already tell anyone that holds a door for you, waits on you in a restaurant or store, or generally helps you with things thank you.  Think outside the box here!  Those people collecting for a good cause- tell them thanks for giving their time.  See a member of the military?  Police officer or firefighter?  Thank them for their service!  Thank the cart pusher, as it would suck to have to lug the cart allll the way back to the store on a rainy day.  Thank the person in the hardware store that knows the crazy random part you are looking before you even finish explaining it.  Thank the salesperson in the clothing store that sets back the new inventory they knwo you will love, in your size, until you come in again (that really hasn’t happened for years… they can only do a 24 hour hold now)  Also, please be sure to thank the trash man, septic tank people and telemarketers (as you hang up on them is fine).  Thank the people around you for all they do in your life.

10)  Purge, then donate!  Clean out ALL of your closets.  Clean out the toy box.  The bookshelf.  The pantry.  There are so, so many organizations that will gladly take the help.  If you don’t know what to do with your stuff, contact me and I WILL find a place that will put it to use.

11)  Write a letter.  With a pen.  On paper.  Make sure you show the kids too- and for fun show them a cassette tape and a record, then cry because they have no idea what you are showing them.  Lament about it to your old friend in the letter, and reminisce over your favorite record and trying to record it off the radio on a cassette, only for the best part to get cut off because you sister put Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen on there.  Yes, they had cassette tapes before they took over the world.  Show your kids how you mail a letter.  Thru the post office.  While you are there, buy a book of stamps and ask the clerk to give it to the next customer asking for stamps.

A special note from a really special kid!

12)  Speaking of the post office- buy a bulk pack of packing tape.  Every time you go in the post office, leave a roll on the counter.  Since the fury of God will rain down on any USPS employee that tapes a package, or allows you to use their tape, there is ALWAYS someone in need in the PO.

13)  A Coke and a smile!  I once told my husband, upon him surprising me with an ice cold fountain (diet) Coke that it was a better gift than a dozen roses.  Diet coke is totally the way to my heart, and I have been lucky enough that many people know that!  This may not be everyone’s cup of tea (or, Coke) but for us die-hard Diet Coke fans, this is huge!

Um, of course I have a picture of my beloved.

14)  Compliments are always a day brightener!  Tell someone when they do a great job, that they look especially nice today, you like their outfit/hair/jewelry…  Who doesn’t love to hear their butt looks great in those jeans??

15)  Make extra.  Muffins for the office?  Cookies for your kids class?  Or maybe for your dinner?  Oh wait, no one would do THAT.  Right.  Anyway, make an extra batch.  Deliver them somewhere.  Homeless shelter, police or fire station, nurses station in the hospital, teacher’s workroom…

16)  I live in the midwest.  In the rural midwest.  Ok, basically in the middle of nowhere.  Or, in the middle of everything.  It is all about perspective.  Who else can say they are within like 2000 miles of ANYWHERE in the continental United States?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Anyway, part of living in the midwest is waving while driving.  The ‘ol farmers just bring a smile to my face when they wave.  Not just at me.  They wave at every single vehicle they pass.  Always.  I used to think it was a little silly, but considering how many times people choose to use just one of their five fingers to wave, I think the farmer wave is kind gesture that should be appreciated.

17)  Letters of appreciation.  A former teacher of mine put out a challenge a while back to write a daily letter to special in your life to let them know they are appreciated.  How special would it be to receive a letter like that?  When issued I knew I would never manage a letter a day.  I was aiming for a letter a week… I managed to get the first one out, aaaaaaand I am working on the second.  Or working on starting it…

18)  Put enough change in a parking meter to max out the time for the next person… or several people!

19)  Lend a mom a hand… without judgement.  Kids are rather unruly little creatures that love to go all gremilins-with-a-snack- after-midnight when in public.  If your kid is perfect and hasn’t done it, congratulations on your new baby.  Then ask your mom.  I promise YOU did as a kid.  So help the frazzled mom carry her groceries, or put away her cart… or even help her pick up the case of soda with busted cans spraying everywhere that her kid knocked over while climbing out of the cart to get the bink for the crying baby that the middle child stole and threw because the baby was looking at him.  Not that that ever happened to me.  But if it had, I cannot tell you how much a hand would have been appreciated.

20)  Leave coupons for others to use… in the grocery store, clothing stores, etc.  Easy peasy.

21)  So I am a few days late on this one, but there is always next year!  Reverse trick-or-treating.  Say wha?  A few days before Halloween, get all dolled up and decked out in your costumes and deliver Halloween treat bags to your neighbors.  No need to run off.  Say hi!  Get to know them a little.

22)  Leave a sweet message in sidewalk chalk for someone.  But check the weather forecast for rain first.

23)  Tape a $10 bill to a pack of diapers.  Those things are so darn expensive!

24)  Every time you read a book from the library (yes, some people still do that!)  leave a note for the next reader.  Something you learned from the book perhaps?  Just be sure to give a spoiler alert if needed.  It wouldn’t be so kind to completely ruin a great book!

25)  Help EVERYONE you see stranded/broken down roadside.  No, I am not suggesting you hop out and change the tire.  Just call *55 for the Highway Patrol (in MO anyway) and fill them in.

26)  Instead of the typical meal delivery for a new mom or someone recovering from an illness or surgery, take them a pack of paper plates and cups.  If you are feeling really generous, include a gift card for a local food joint that delivers or some housekeeping services(provided by you or a company you pay).

 

27)  Give of yourself, literally.  Donate blood.  To find a drive near you click here.  Sign up to be a bone marrow donor here.  I have no idea on sperm donation if your wife isn’t interested.  Google that one for yourself…

28)  Just say YES.  When asked if you would like to donate $1 at the gas station, grocery store or wherever else, for whatever the cause may be, just do it.

I stole these from an excellent blog entry that really inspired me:

27)  Tape some change in a baggie on a vending machine.  Score!  Like trick-or-treating without begging door to door in costume.

28)  Hide a few dollar bills in the toy section of the “everything is a dollar” type stores.  Some lucky kid just won the lottery!

29)  Leave a few diapers and some wipes on a public changing table

The rest of these are straight from the mouths of my babes.  Talk about random!  But I love the simple sincerity:

30)  Give a stranger a hug and tell them you love strangers.  (We will need to work on rephrasing that one)

31)  Hold the door open, but don’t slam it when they get close.

32)  Give some of our toys to kids that don’t have any.  Not just broken ones either.

33)  Work at the soup kitchen (they included with Grandma and Connie, but I am sure help would be appreciated even if Grandma and Connie aren’t at your soup kitchen)

34)  Get one of those angels off the tree at Christmas for some kids that need something

35)  Give the tree guys hot chocolate (Isabelle has the memory of an elephant… there was a crew trimming trees at our house a few years ago, on a very cold morning.  We took them out some fresh muffins and hot chocolate and coffee)

36)  Help the neighbors when their cows get out

Now you know why we have to check the gates!

37)  Tie shoes for a kid that doesn’t know how

38)  Tell someone you will be their friend

39)  Share my blankie with someone who is sad

I have some hard core blankie babes.

40)  This one just melted my heart… the kids suggested we pray for the strangers.  Really that seems like the ultimate random act of kindness to me.

The list could go on and on and on, but the point really is to DO SOMETHING.  Think beyond yourself, think outside of the box.  Think about what would bring a smile to your face.  Step out side of your comfort zone, and in doing so bring comfort to someone else.

“Never get tired of doing little things for others.  Sometimes those little things that occupy the biggest part of their hearts.”

 

Why I don’t Homeschool

Last week I posted a video on Facebook, jokingly, about how homeschooling is done in our household.  It consisted of a Big Foot (monster truck) documentary playing in the background while the boys jumped off the chair into a sea of blankets and pillows.  I said we were working on counting skills and studying gravity.  The boys were having a great time- Eli was actually dripping with sweat!  They were counting.  We did discuss gravity.  Really though, they were just playing.

That was followed by lunchroom lessons studying volume… as in how many hotdogs can you fit into your mouth at once.  Eli.  Yeah.  There was a brief lesson on density as well, when Henry started dropping pieces of hotdogs into his milk.  Praise God there is a nap time in our little home school.

So fast forward to the next morning.  Eli had preschool.  He and I have some rather interesting conversations on that drive.  I remember having some great little talks with Isabelle too, but Eli just takes things to this whole other level.  I regularly tell my kids that it is good to be a little weird, but he seems to be taking it to an extreme.

So, we are driving.  It is a gorgeous drive, as the trees are all changing to glorious shades of bright yellow, rusty orange and deep reds.  We see the leaves falling off of the trees and swirling to the ground and Eli informs me that the leaves falling is why it is fall and not summer anymore.  Then we talk for a minute about gravity pulling the leaves to the ground when they fall off the trees, because without gravity they would just float around forever.

We then come upon our special morning prayer spot.  This started with Isabelle.  At a particular point in our drive, we say our good morning prayers.  They always start the same, “GOOD MORNING GOD!  Thank you for this beautiful day!”  From there we go into what we are thankful for, then praying for the kids (and Aunt Lala, cousins and neighbors) to have a great day at school and Mommy and Daddy (and a laundry list of other friends and family) to have a great day at work.  Isabelle would typically include things like “please keep Buddy and Horns (cows) warm today” or help so and so feel better, etc.  Eli has to include every day- and insists that I repeat because he “don’t know the right words”- the yellow monster truck and Nascar funny cars and that he gets to see them again some day (I have no idea what a Nascar funny car is, so don’t bother asking).  Hey, God wants it all, big and small right?

This particular day, he threw in something about a super hero.  I don’t recall which one at this point.  Anyway, we finished up our prayers and I asked him if he knew who the best superhero EVER was.  He replied, “HULK!”  When I said no he started in on the laundry list- HeMan, Voltron, Batman, that blue and red transformer (really there are far too many for me to keep straight.  My head is filled with far more important things, like 90s song lyrics).  Exasperated, he gave up and asked who I was talking about.

When I told him Jesus, I could see those little wheels turning.

His first argument “But he died on the cross”

“And he rose from the dead.  Let’s see HeMan do that!”

“But HULK is super super strong!”

“You remember the HUGE boulder they put in front of the tomb when Jesus died?  And it was rolled away when he came out right?”

“ok.  But HeMan’s sword is MAGIC”

“Jesus performed miracles.  He made blind people see.  He brought dead back to life.  He healed the sick”

There was an unusual, albeit brief, silence.

“Whoa,” in amazement, “He IS a superhero!”

I nodded my head as I smirked to myself at what a great job I had just done.  I may have even let go of the steering wheel to pat myself on the back for my awesomeness.   While I am sure God approved of my little lesson, I guess my cockiness was not looked upon so highly.  So, the Big Man used the little man to put me in my place… like He (and he) does so often…

“So, Mom… when we die, if we have Jesus in our heart we go up to Heaven, right?”

“yup” My heart melts when he talks about having Jesus and God in his heart!  The little drawl he says it with is just about the sweetest thing ever.  It left me blind-sided for what was coming…

“Well, what about gravity?  How can we go up to Heaven and not get yanked back to the ground?”

Really kid??

“Oh look!  A tractor!”  I am not always the best at thinking on my feet, and Eli’s lack of attention span is often my only saving grace.

These kids are always one step ahead.  I bring my A game and they manhandle me like a peewee player.

That, my friends, is why I cannot homeschool.

That ‘ol Git ‘er Done Attitiude, and why it may be the death of my husband

Two nights ago I had dropped the kids off at church for the evening and came home.  When I pulled into my driveway, I hit a brick wall.  Head on.  Figuratively, of course.  The bushes in front of my house caught my eye, they needed trimmed.  Immediately.  I got out of my van and headed straight to the shed.  Did not pass go, did not collect $200.  Didn’t even get my purse out of the van (which really confused me a few hours later when I was looking for it).  Keith kind of scowled at me as I entered the shed, as that is very much his territory.  He also knows if I grab something out of the shed, there is a good chance he will have to deal with it sooner or later.  I grabbed the loppers, ignored him asking where I was going and what I was doing and went in full on attack mode.  Those bushes didn’t stand a chance.

Is tunnel vision a medical condition?  I have this slight problem of getting something in my head and being able to focus on nothing else until it is done.  While this may seem like a great attribute, it is not.  At least not for my wonderful husband.  Much to his chagrin, there isn’t too much I won’t give a shot.  Why would me being an ambitious and driven woman be an annoyance to him?  I can think of a few instances he might use to state his case…

1) I am not an electrician, but I will play one in my house.  Don’t worry, I have never burned a house down (side note: future blog entry- the time I set the house on fire… but I did NOT burn it down so lay off).  Anyway, Keith was not moving at an acceptable pace for whatever home improvement project we were working on at the time.  Seems like it was in the kitchen?  So, being the amazing wife I am, I thought I would help him out.  I started changing out the outlets just like my momma taught me.

Keith gets home and sees what I am doing and starts yelling at me for having the electricity on while changing the outlets.  I told him proudly that out of five outlets I had only been shocked twice, and I thought that was pretty darn good!  He was not impressed or amused.  As he ripped the tools from my blackened, trembling hands (KIDDDING!), I told him that I was doing it how my mom taught me and she never turned off the electricity.  He then either called us both idiots or said that explains a lot… something along those lines.

I then had to waste the rest of my evening playing musical breakers to find the correct one to shut off followed by holding the flashlight while Keith finished the job in our now dark home.  I was highly irritated, as I would have already been done (or dead according to him.  He is such a downer sometimes).  Now, instead of doing something productive like watching Beavis and Butthead (this was a long time ago) I had to listen to him complain about the angle I was holding his flashlight.  I suggested adjusting it to be perpendicular to the back of his skull, but I think he skipped geometry because he, as usual, was not amused.

2)  The case of the missing earring.  This was also many years ago.  Keith had gotten me a set of diamond earrings for Christmas!  I dropped one down the drain around New Years.  Now really, this was not entirely my fault.  Had Keith bought BIGGER diamonds, they wouldn’t have fit under the stopper and down the drain.  So really, what happened after that is all on him.

I kinda freaked out.  I was upset that I lost the earring and I really didn’t want Keith to know I had dropped it down the drain.  Being the resourceful gal I am, I headed to find Keith’s tools.  (Keith would ask, if he contributed to- or read- this blog, that you notice a trend of problems when I use his tools.  I would ask that you notice the face I make mocking him in response.)  I tried a handful of wrenches to no avail.  I contemplated leaving it, waiting until Keith got home to advice deal with it.  But I knew in my heart of hearts, that if I left it, my earring would not be there when I returned.  This would be the day our house got robbed and the thieves would be sure to practice good hygiene after using our restroom and wash my precious earring away as they washed their hands.

I had no choice.  I had to get the earring out.  Calling the police seemed a bit premature, as the thieves hadn’t shown up yet.  I also knew that if I called a plumber I would never hear the end of it.  Although, in retrospect that *may* have been the better choice.  Whatever.  Desperate times call for desperate measures people.

I went back to the tools.  The stupid wrenches may have been worthless, but I found something I knew would work.  The perfect tool to get my earring back in my hands.  I squatted down and twisted my neck so I could see what I was doing and I began.  Back and forth, back and forth I sawed away through the drain trap.  Sawed the whole thing right off!  Go me!  I dug my earring out of the nastiness that fills the trap and put it in a bowl to clean it.  You didn’t think I would go near the sink with it did you??  Besides, there was no drain trap.  I couldn’t exactly run water and rinse it off.

On my way to the office I called Keith to let him know he should probably pick up a new drain trap on the way home…

“WHY??”

“Because.  We need a new one.”

“WHY??”

“Ours is gone.”

“GONE?”

“Gone.”

“GONE???”

“Is this connection bad?  Yes, gone.”

“WHERE did it GO?”

“In the trash”  Why must he ask so many questions.  Really annoying.

“WHY?”

“What are you, two?  What is with all the whys?  Just get a new drain trap ok”

“WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH THE OLD ONE??”  Keith has a potty mouth.  He says I bring that out in him.

“It didn’t match.  It was PVC, our fixtures are brushed nickel.  It had to go.”

“ARE YOU F******G KIDDING ME?”

“About what?  It really didn’t match.”

“SO YOU TOOK IT OFF AND THREW IT IN THE TRASH?!?”  He really was yelling at me.

“Well, I didn’t really take it off… I couldn’t find the right wrench”

“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?”

“I used the hacksaw.  You told me to leave the power tools alone, and I didn’t want to make you mad.”

“YOU ARE NOT RIGHT IN THE HEAD”

“Duh.  I married you.  Anyway, I got my earring out too.  Love you!  See you tonight!  Bye!”

By then I was at the office and had to explain why I was late.  I got the usual chorus of “poor Keith” as the guys rolled their eyes.  They were all missing the point.  I GOT MY EARRING.

After a while, I came to a stunning revelation.  I am pretty sure I picked it up watching Keith attempt laundry.  If I started a project, I could make sure to do it just enough “wrong” when Keith came in the room, he would begrudgingly finish it.  Sure, I had to listen to him complain but it gave me ample time to watch Beavis and Butthead (really not sure I ever even watched one episode).  We had a perfect system going for years.  I would ask him to do laundry.  I would get annoyed and do it the RIGHT way.  I would start/screw up a project and he would get annoyed (or in an effort to keep me away from his tools) and he would finish it.

<a href=”http://bringingfamilieshome.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/img_2540.jpg”><img src=”http://bringingfamilieshome.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/img_2540.jpg?w=1014” alt=”Image” width=”1013″ height=”724″ /> He will let the two year old use his tools, but not me.

He ruined it.  He caught on and quit the little game.  AND he still doesn’t do laundry.  I am really getting the short end of the stick here folks.  So after I trimmed ALL the bushes we own (because after doing the front two, the four or five on the side of the house looked just plain ridiculous) I went after his wheelbarrow.  In the past, he would be all over it wanting to know where I was going, what I was doing.  He kinda looked up and raised his eyebrow.  I think it may have been a dare.

I loaded all that I had trimmed and hauled it over and parked it at his feet.  “Here you go!”  If you say things cheerily to the kids, it often garners a better response.  With Keith, not so much.

He scowled at me “What’s that?”

“uh, branches.  And leaves.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeaaaah”

“So why do I want them?”

“I thought you could build a fort.  It could be fun”

“You cut them, you deal with them”  I told you, he RUINED our perfect little arrangement.

I dealt with them alright.  Deer season is upon us.  Keith rarely has time to make it in the woods.  Because I love him so, and I want him to be able to do the things he enjoys, I thought I would help him out.  I unloaded the wheelbarrow into the cab of his truck, making a camouflaged deer camp of sorts.  I am such a good and thoughtful wife.

Noooooo.  I didn’t really do that.  But I did laugh at the prospect while I unloaded the branches and leaves into the burn pile.  Dumping the wheelbarrow was easy peasy.  I have bigger projects to sucker him into.

The day Eli got punched in the forehead by a big kid at school.**

My precious little punk.

Before I go into the story, I need to give a disclaimer.  It seems I am always telling stories about Eli.  The kid is just so full of it, I can’t keep it all to myself.  Isabelle typically tells me to leave her alone so she can listen to music and Henry speaks this interesting but indiscernible combination of English, pig latin and maybe Mandarin?  Not sure.  Doesn’t make for great stories though.  So, in case my kids ever read this:  IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU ARE MY FAVORITE KID, HANDS DOWN!  If you are reading this with your siblings:  I LOVE YOU ALL EQUALLY, I HAVE NO FAVORITE.  Unless you are being bratty.  Then you better go vacuum or something so you can be my favorite.

Now, back to Eli.  He started preschool about a month ago.  He goes 8-11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He has been dyyyyyyyyying to stay for lunch, as many of the kids stay all day.  It worked out best for him to stay thru lunch yesterday, and he was stoked about it!  He was all smiles when I picked him up.  I started asking him about his day, particularly about lunch.

Eli:  There are big kids that eat there too you know!

Me:  Yup!  Cool huh?

Eli:  Yeah!  (still excited) And one of the big kids, yeah, he just (making the motions to illustrate) punched me right in the forehead!  Right here!

Me: (doubtingly) Oh reeeeeeally?

Eli:  YEAH!  Really.

Me:  A big kid just PUNCHED you in the forehead?

Eli:  (enjoying himself) Yeah!  Just right here (again illustrating in case I didn’t comprehend the first time)

Me:  Huh.  Good thing he missed your eye.  A black eye wouldn’t be very cool.  Did you tell a teacher?

Eli:  No.  He got another kid in my class too!

Me:  Wow.  So this big kid punched TWO of you in the forehead?  And no teacher saw it?

Eli:  No.  No, he didn’t punch the other kid.  He just got him.

Me:  Huh.  Sooo… did he say anything, or did he just walk up and punch you in the forehead?

Eli:  He just walked right up and *WHACK*

Me:  Hmm.  Why do you think he would do something like that??

Eli:  I dunno.  He must’ve thought I was a little punk I guess.

Well, that seems fairly probable.

For a fraction of a nanosecond, I considered turning around to go find the big kid and punch HIM in the forehead.  However, after some consideration I am thinking it is more likely that the kid was doing cheerleading moves or something equally odd and Eli tripped and fell with his forehead landing on the kid’s fist.  Or, Eli was just being a little punk.  In which case, maybe I should go high-five the big kid?  Not that it seemed to phase Eli in the least anyway.

Side note: I have never punched a kid in the forehead.  Or anywhere else.  Except when I was a kid.  I punched my cousin Ashley.  We got in a full on fist fight.  We were maybe 8?  10?  But I am pretty sure I didn’t punch her in the forehead.  That said, if a kid is taller than me, I think they should be fair game.  So look out 4th graders.

Side note to the side note: If you plan on calling DFS because I just threatened to punch any kid taller than a large midget in the forehead, at least read the rest of my blog so you have better ammo.  Because really?  If you call DFS and tell them a midget is threatening to punch the 4th grade class in the forehead I am pretty sure you will be the one getting a knock on the door, but from the folks at the state hospital.

Now I have to go re-read this entry to remember what I was talking about.  I think I know where Eli gets the attention span of a gnat.

Ok.  Eli is a little punk.  That really sums up so very much of my life.  But how I love that little punk!

Now, let’s address the asterisks in the title.

**  Eli is also a little liar.  Or, maybe the more PC term would be an “imaginative” child.

My mom drilled him about his day after I told her about the “incident” and there was no mention of it.
When I returned we were again asking him about his day.  Nothing.

So, I flat-out asked him about the big kid that punched him in the forehead.  He made the same face the DFS people made when you told them about the 4th-grader-punching midget.  He was all HUUUUUH?

Yeah.

I put my hands on my hips and my eyebrow raised even above where it was 10 years ago.  THEN he remembered.

“Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  He punched me.  Right in the forehead”  He was getting excited again, as Daddy and Papa Ross were now witnesses to his little tale.

So we started peppering him with questions.  What did he look like?  What color was his hair?  How tall was he?  Was his hair long or short?  What was he wearing?  He lost interest before we finished the first question.  He went back to his tractor, completely ignoring the fact we were even in the room, let alone speaking to him.

I guess I *should* talk to his teacher about it.  To make sure ELI didn’t punch a big kid in the forehead for being a little punk…

A Last Resort, where it all began.

Traditions have this cool way of sneaking up on you.  A neat idea turns into something that your year is just not complete without.  As time passes, the tradition morphs and changes as do the people involved.  Yet, the emotions invoked remain.  The fondness with which you look back on the tradition grows with each passing year. ***

To understand why our annual float trip is so dear to my heart, I am going to take you all back to the beginning.  All the way back to Rich’s Last Resort.  I am going to be completely honest here, I cannot remember the year.  It was in the 2001-03 range.  Often times with traditions like these, the memories begin to blur together and form one big warm fuzzy rather than year after year of individual memories.  I DO remember the month and day!  It was September 15th.  Justin’s birthday!

We meet at McStop bright and early, a group of about 15 of us.  Except it wasn’t bright.  It was a cold and dreary day for our first float trip.  We drove like 15 hours (ok maybe a little less) all the way to the Big Piney.  Besides Keith and myself the group was composed of many of my very favorite people.  We had all gone to high school together, grown up together.  We have a really special group with a very special bond.  These people are family to me.

The float itself… was disasterous.  As previously mentioned, it was mid-Septmeber.  Maybe not the best time to book a float trip.  Whatever.  We were young.  It was COLD.  The water had a skim of frost.  Not really, but it felt like it.  It also drizzled about half of the float.  Most of the guys actually bailed!  We were in rafts, so they didn’t leave anyone entirely alone but still!  They took off, in shorts and water shoes, through a random cow field.  They hiked like 3 miles back to the camp.  Their legs were scratched to pieces and I am pretty sure there was some poison ivy involved.  Yet they beat us they left behind in the rafts!  That wasn’t ALL bad though, they had a good fire and dinner going by the time we finally returned.  Lots of apples too.  We were young enough that it didn’t really bother us to sleep in our cars, as most of us did not own tents.  We survived.  I am not sure if you would have asked us that next morning if we would have ever agreed to go again though.

Luckily, time heals all wounds.  (alternate version- we were all young and kidless and ready for some summer fun)  We tried again the next year.  Some changes in the cast of characters.  Change of venue.  Plus- A CAMPER!!  The ladies were all quite happy about this!  However, Bennett Springs State Park was not a fan of our group.  Nor was the Dallas County Sheriff.  We don’t go there anymore.  (note- if you do, DO NOT PARK ON THE GRASS.  OR THE ROAD.  Better yet, just don’t go.  This trip  sealed that up for me.)  The next year brought more changes in characters and another location change.  Plus a torrential downpour the night before the float which soaked all of our stuff.  That, combined with age, caused us to seek out more substantial shelter the following year.

Eagle’s Nest Lodge.  Oh my.  It was more substantial than a tent.  It was also worse than most foreclosed homes I have been in, and there are some doozies folks!  The old stained couch sat on bricks.  Random fist holes in the 70’s wood paneling.  I will refrain from describing the mattresses… or bugs.  BUT!!  There was a BATHROOM!  SHOWER!  STOVE!  FRIDGE!  IT.WAS.AWESOME!!  That was also the longest float evvvvvvvvvvvver.  I think we were on the water over 12 hours.  But, when you have a floating party with 3-5 large rafts bungee corded together, you tend to not move very quickly.

The next year Cari found us some beautiful NEW and CLEAN cabins!!  We went to this place on the Gasconade several years.  It was one of these that I did not float.  The only one I have missed over the years!  I was pregnant.  Not hugely, but enough I didn’t want to be stuck on the river with a bunch of rowdy folks for hours on end.  Plus, I am part midget.  I am entirely uncoordinated.  Getting me into the raft is much like those greased pig contests they used to have at fairs.  Or so I would guess.  Anyway, considering bladder size with pregnancy plus the added girth, it just seemed like bad news!  I could not, however, miss out completely.  So I went down with everyone and hung out Friday night and hung out.  I was so happy I did.  These people just make my heart happy.  They were also the first to find out that Isabelle was Isabelle and not Hoss or some other ridiculous boy name Keith would pick.  I told them just before they got on the water and I went home… before we told our families!  (This is the first my sister has heard of this.  Lori, simmer down.  Its been 6 years.  You found out later that day.)

How did I only miss one with 3 kids?  Sadly, there was one year there was no float.  We got Eli instead.  He was born a few weeks before our usual time frame.  We have changed locations yet again, a little closer to home.  Still in cabins.  We almost have it down to a science now.  We have gotten smarter about some things- this year we had dinner going in crock pots in the cabins before hitting the water rather than the usual trying to grill with flashlights and eating half raw meat because it is too dark to see and everyone is starving.  We have the most awesome cooler stereo (thanks Justin and Craig!) rather than someone buying a CD player the night before only for the batteries to die halfway through the float.  Rum gummy bears are so much better than jello shots.  Less work, less mess, just awesome.  Try them if you like to imbibe in spirits on occasion!  Cari finally, after losing probably 20 pairs of flip-flops over the years, got water shoes!

But some things, my favorite things, never change.  Justin and Ryan have never missed a year.  Yet, their approach could not be more different.  Justin will tell me he probably isn’t going to go, or ask if we are going to cancel it, or ask if there isn’t something else we can do on a regular basis as the float draws near.  I don’t get to see Ryan as often- or nearly enough!  But I think he may be the most excited of the bunch about the float every year.  He is one of the first ones up, and always raring to go with a big smile on his face!  He is our lead navigator and rarely gets in a raft, preferring to walk the float.  Kaleb usually helps him with this.  occasionally we get to see a back flip off the rafts from Keenan.  Keith is always rescuing some girls, unless he is inadvertently giving them a black eye (sorry Cindy!).  Or doing his obligatory pull-ups on some wayward tree branch…  No, it’s not me and a bunch of guys!  The ladies of the group are usually involved in very deep conversations.  Or karaoke.  I was telling Keith I am not sure what exactly it is about floating I love so much.  I think it is that I can just hang out with people I adore, with no outside distractions.  They can’t escape (without hiking through random pastures), they have to just sit back, relax and float.  Gorgeous surroundings, great friends, good music, lots of laughter.  How could I not love every minute of it?

We’d never make it anywhere without Cari and her mad organizing skillz!

SEE! Justin IS glad to be on the river! Maybe.

Ryan 🙂 Not in a raft, as usual!

Ashley and friends just afloatin’!

Aww! Justin and the always smiling Alisha.

Then there are the precious memories.  Not a float passes without me thinking about the amazing Johnny, what an inspiration he was to LIVE life, every minute of it… and how much I miss him!  Dallas County.  I can’t even think about it without smirking.  Milking the river for everything its worth, with a little help from friends.  JJ losing his keys to Woody(his old Jeep), in his backpack.  That was on his back.  Cari and the badger (aka bullfrog) in her tent.  The drowning little girl (much more funny in retrospect.  And yes, she was fine.  Physically anyway.)  Keith in shorts!!  Paddle fights.  The snoring.  O.M.G. THE SNORING!  Grape salad and ceiling fans.  Gilman versus the kyack.  Cherry drops from ceiling beams.  Poor sweet Ashley’s first float, and flat tire.  Part beagle smelling dogs.  Cruising the campground in Kaleb’s jeep.  Washers.  Pickle cake.  Shuttle van full of bullet holes.  Possessed oven.  Black eyes.  Broken bones.  Friends.

I know that to most people, that is all just a bunch of odd random weirdness.  Odd random weirdness makes the best memories.

I am so blessed to have such awesome people in my life (the ones that float, and the ones that don’t!).  Go out and make memories and don’t take the time with special people for granted.  Life is so very short.  Be sure to take the time to enjoy it.  Go floating!

*Cheers to next year!*
***Justin would be the exception to this rule.  His disdain for the entire event has remained fairly level over the years.  But he still joins us!

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