Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Dork That is Me

It was recently brought to my attention that I’m a dork. I mean, I knew that I was dorky, but I thought I’d done a good job of hiding it from other people. Apparently not. I may do embarrassing things in public with little regard to the horrified stares of bystanders. I may drive around town with my windows open singing loudly (and badly) for all to hear. I may constantly take pictures of random objects wherever I go. I may strike up conversations with perfect strangers in the check-out line of any given store, much to my kids’ chagrin. And I may not have been in fashion since before the Reagan administration. But that doesn’t mean I’m a dork, does it? (That was hypothetical. Which means – don’t answer it. Don’t. Just don’t.)

But, I think this video displays just how much of a doofus I am.  Some of you probably saw this back when Because I Said So came out this past summer.  But those of you who missed it, check it out now.  And make sure you watch it until the end for the bloopers!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shopping This Time of Year May Actually be Considered a Sport

I’ve come to the realization that I have a very low tolerance for many things. The sound of a person chewing with his mouth open makes my skin crawl until I want to shove his fork down his throat, then punch him in the face. Sharing the road with slow drivers, tailgaters, people who don’t use their turn signal, and people who are too busy playing with their phones to pay attention to the road makes me insane. In fact, it raises my blood pressure until I fantasize about turning green and all Lou Ferrigno-like, and actually picking up their vehicle and tossing it into a ditch. People who don’t know the difference between lose and loose, your and you’re, or their, there, and they’re make me want to gouge my eyes out. (Yes, I know I probably need therapy.)

But today I’m addressing the shoppers who are completely oblivious to the rest of the population who has to share the planet with them.  Especially now that we’ve officially entered the holiday shopping season, I think it’s important to go over some ground rules to ensure a pleasant shopping experience for all.

1.  The best way to spread holiday cheer is by not hitting, kicking, spitting upon, or pepper spraying your fellow shoppers.  Believe me, there is nothing so important that you must maim another person to obtain it.  People, this is not Somalia.  You’re not standing in a bread line all day in order to feed your family. As appealing as discount electronics are, unless you’re playing hockey, there’s really no need to smack people against the wall, trip them, pull their clothes up over their heads, or knock out their teeth.  

2.  Use the self check-out aisles if you have less than 80 items, have used them before and/or have the mental capacity to read and follow instructions, and if you don’t mind getting stuck behind some moron who will try to scan the same bottle of prune juice 52 times before realizing he has no clue how to actually turn the bar code toward the scanner.

For more information on self check-outs and how to use them, see my amazingly informational (and not at all condescending) blog post HERE.

3.  Don’t be annoyed by the people who stand in front of your favorite stores while ringing a bell next to that red kettle. Those people are volunteering their time, helping to make a difference in the lives of others. Smile at them and drop some money in the bucket! I don’t care how tight your budget is, everyone can spare a dollar. 
The bucket is not a garbage can. Do not throw your paper latte cup, your crumpled receipt, or your snotty tissue in it. Do not spit your gum into the kettle. Say, “Merry Christmas” or the holiday greeting of your choice, drop in some money and move on. Or, better yet, get the bell ringer some hot chocolate to thank them for their service.

4. The final, yet possibly the most crucial, point is this. Do not block the aisles with your cart, stroller, or body. Don’t stand there comparing the sodium content of various canned meat-like products while your cart blocks the entire aisle. If you do that, other shoppers are completely justified in ramming full-speed into your cart. Don’t stop to make small-talk with that friend whose name you can’t even remember while taking up enough space for an elephant, a limosine, a water buffalo and two chickens. And, if for some reason (there really are no reasons where this is acceptable), you find yourself in that position, at least be aware of your surroundings and when a mom on a mission to get the necessities of milk, bread, wine and chocolate heads toward you, move out of her way!

So, what makes you nuts when shopping (especially this time of year) – people who write checks, have 28 coupons, must count out $4.92 in change, try to negotiate the price on a loaf of bread like they’re in some ancient marketplace? Let me know your pet peeves.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful for the Little Things

I had planned to pack a picnic and head to the beach on Thanksgiving, but after looking at the weather forecast earlier this week, I changed my mind. They were predicting a 75 degree day for Thanksgiving so I thought it might be a little chilly to go to the beach. Yes, I know, I know. How things have changed that I would consider 75 degrees “a little chilly”. (I actually think that 75 is delightful, but not for swimming in a cold ocean.) So, we had a quick change of plans and went to the beach on Monday, instead. It was 85 and breezy without a cloud in the sky. We packed a picnic and hung out at the ocean all day and it was awesome! I’d woken up, feeling a little sick on Monday and the fresh, salty air helped me breathe a little easier so it was a nice day all around.

By Thursday, I was feeling awful and had completely lost my voice, so I was happy to stay home and cook instead of driving all the way to the beach. We had a nice meal and we enjoyed eating outside on the lanai, but it really didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. It was no different than any other day. My kids and I eat dinner together every night so, although there was more food than usual, it was just like any other day. I’m not complaining. It was nice. It just felt a little weird. Of course, since it was just us, I didn’t have to worry about my relatives’ reactions when we went around the table and took turns talking about what we were thankful for. Instead of listing things like our  family, our health, our home, beautiful weather, the fact that we’re all together, our freedom, etc., my kids had um, other things for which they expressed thankfulness.

“I’m thankful I’m not as annoying as Austin.”

“”I’m thankful for edamame.”

“I’m thankful for Mom and Lexi, but not really anyone else.”

“I’m thankful I’m not a goat.”

“I’m thankful I don’t sound like Mom (insert lovely Roz impersonation. “I’m watching you, Wazowski. Always watching.”)

“I’m thankful my eyebrows don’t look as stupid as Jackson’s.”

In defense of that last one, for reasons known only to him, Jackson took it upon himself to shape his eyebrows a couple nights ago. He used a razor and shaved the tops off them. His eyebrows actually do look stupid right now. In fact, every time I look at him, I see Joey from Friends . . .

Oh well.  I guess it’s good when you can find a way to be thankful for the little things.  Right?  Just go with me on this.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seven-Year-Old Boys Cannot Actually Fly

The other day, while at work, Savannah called me. My last class of the day had just left so I was able to answer my phone.


“Mom, Clayton’s hurt. He’s bleeding all over the place. I mean, he’s really bleeding. He jumped off the bunk beds and smacked into the ceiling fan that was going full-blast. He cut his eyelid. He’s bleeding a lot! We stood him in the bathtub and he’s filling the tub with blood. It won’t stop.”

I somehow remained calm and asked, “How bad is the cut? Does he need stitches? Can you wipe away the blood enough to see? Is it his actual eyelid or more like his eyebrow?”

“I’m pretty sure he needs stitches, Mom,” came Savannah’s answer.

“Okay, I’m leaving now. Just hold a clean washcloth or towel or something on it and press down. Don’t let go.”

You know when you’re confronted with an emergency like this and your mind just goes into one-track mode? You focus on what needs to be done, shutting out everything else. I grabbed my belongings, and as I locked my classroom, I texted the principal to let her know I was leaving because one of my kids just learned some of Newton’s laws of motion the hard way.

I hopped in my car and headed home on autopilot while dialing the school secretary to ask if I could just take him to Centra Care to get stitches. She thought they’d take care of him, no problem. I called home again to see how Clay was doing and update them with my ETA. According to Savannah, the bleeding was finally slowing down.

I got home, grabbed Clay, headed to Centra Care, filled out the paperwork, waited for about an hour, then saw the doctor who promptly claimed, “I can’t stitch him up. I mean, I can do stitches, but he’s a kid and he won’t cooperate with me and since it’s on his face, you really need a pediatric doctor at a hospital because he’ll need to be sedated. You need a pediatric doctor who will sedate him. He won’t cooperate. Kids don’t hold still for stitches. If he moves while I’m stitching on his face, that would be bad. He needs to be sedated.”

I glanced at my son who was lying there, calmly as could be, then I looked back at the doctor who seemed to be totally freaked out at the prospect of throwing a couple sutures in Clay’s cut. Although I knew Clay would be totally fine and certainly didn’t need the extra risk of sedation just for a couple stitches, I agreed that this doctor probably wasn’t cut out to perform the procedure. So, I left and headed downtown to Arnold Palmer. After Jackson’s injury, I’d been told that it was a good kids’ hospital and to bypass all other facilities and head straight there the next time something happened.

We got there at 6:00 pm. We got home at 1:00am. Yeah. As we sat in the waiting room which was overflowing with patients, I wondered why so many people who had arrived after us, were called back way before we were. I could understand if the kids being called back were seriously injured or very sick, but most of them appeared perfectly fine. Clearly, the majority of people were using the ER not as an emergency room, but as their primary care physician. At one point, a couple paramedics delivered a child via ambulance. They pushed the gurney into the waiting room and unbuckled the kid. She hopped down and proceeded to run around the waiting room, playing with the other kids there. Apparently, ambulances are used as taxi service down here.

After several hours, I asked a nurse how much longer she thought it would be. She told me, “Not too much longer, hopefully. The people who are going in before you are fast tracked. We know we can get them in and out really fast because they’re not serious. That’s why they’re being called before you.”

I just stared at her. I wanted to give her a lesson on triage because clearly those people don’t have a clue, but I instinctively knew my lesson would be lost.

Now, I understand why people without insurance would go to the ER instead of their doctor. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense. But, in my opinion, something is very wrong with the healthcare system in this country when a person with an injury requiring a doctor’s care has to wait for six hours while kids with snotty noses and hangnails are seen within minutes of their arrival. I don’t know what the solution is and every plan surely has it’s drawbacks, but these kinds of situations are completely ridiculous and unacceptable.

Anyway, he was finally seen and received four stitches, without sedation, of course. As the doctor was finishing up, he actually had the audacity to say, “Bring him back here in five days to get his stitches removed.” I just laughed at him.


I took Clay’s stitches out tonight and his eye is looking good. I think the scar will give him character. Maybe someone will concoct a story about how he obtained his scar one day.

And, in case you were wondering, I asked Clay why he jumped off the bunks.  “Were you trying to fly?” I asked.

“No,” he answered.  “I dropped a blanket on the floor and it was faster to jump down than to use the ladder,” he stated matter-of-factly. 

So, there you have it.  We’ll see if this lesson sinks in.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turkey for me, Turkey for You

While talking about Thanksgiving traditions a couple weeks ago, I brought up my indecision over what my kids and I were going to do this holiday now that we live across the country from our friends and family. We've decided to go to the beach to celebrate Thanksgiving. I ordered a smoked turkey from the men's group at our church. When I pick it up, I think I'll shred it, mix it with BBQ sauce, and make sandwiches to take to our little picnic. Along with deviled eggs, sweet potato chips, and little pumpkin pie tarts, I think we'll have plenty of Thanksgiving-ish foods to eat while lounging on the beach and soaking up some sunshine.

But what do you do after Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the herald of the official holiday season. Thanksgiving starts off the festivities that will last for more than a month. Do you arm yourself with sales ads, credit cards, and a taser and hit the black Friday sales? Do you put up your Christmas decorations? Do you pull out all the leftovers and make turkey sandwiches, turkey tetrazzini, turkey pot pies, turkey soup, turkey sausage, turkey turkey?

We also decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving. It's a tradition that I've carried over from my own childhood. I definitely make a bunch of turkey creations with the leftovers. On Subway's Fresh Takes on Family site, there's a great idea/recipe for making pizza with your turkeyday leftovers.
Check it out HERE! I usually make turkey sandwiches with a moist maker, of course.

Now, everyone head over to the
Fresh Takes on Family site and share your after Thanksgiving traditions for a chance to win a $50 gift card and/or have your family's story featured on the site! Go! Now! Or I'll start singing Adam Sandler's song. "Turkey for me, turkey for you. Let's eat turkey in my big brown shoe . . .

This website is a part of an incentivized online influencer network for Fresh Takes on Family Time Powered by Subway.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oh, the Stories I Could Tell

I went to a banquet for Savannah’s swim team last night. I figured I’d only know one person at the event (the mom of one of Savannah’s friends), and I figured that she’d be busy talking to other friends. I assumed I’d be spending the night sitting in the corner, talking to no one, and making up stories about everyone. When I arrived, Savannah took off to sit with all her friends. I sat down at a table by myself and tried to not to look like a loser. Shortly after, a middle-aged man approached my table, indicated a chair, and asked if anyone was sitting there. I enthusiastically flapped my arms in the general direction of the empty chair and said, “No, no, not at all! Please, sit down!” I was pretty sure he’d selected my table, not for my effervescent personality and wonderful company, but its proximity to the buffet line, but I was determined to supply interesting conversation and laughter nonetheless.

As we introduced ourselves and made small talk about how well the kids did throughout the swim season, I noticed a tiny, almost invisible scar at the corner of his eyebrow and I wondered how he’d gotten it. I bet it was from an errant hockey puck. But maybe, just maybe the whole hockey thing was just a cover. Actually, he’s a cop. And undercover detective. He got that scar when the blade of the druglord he’d captured, nicked the corner of his eye as he dodged out of the way just in time to keep from losing his eye. He then shifted his weight and used his muscular shoulder to barrel into the fugitive’s chest, knocking him back across the kitchen table, no wait, not a table, but a fallen tree branch because they were in some rainforest in Columbia.  Are there rainforests in Columbia?  I’m pretty sure that’s where drug lords come from.  And coffee.  Oops, back to the story.  He knocked the fugitive druglord back which bought him a couple seconds to reach for his gun . . .

I came out of my little world of imagination to find him staring at me as if awaiting an answer. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” I smiled up at him, gracefully covering for my rude behavior.

Instead of repeating the question, he asked, “What were you thinking about?”

“Hmmm?” I asked, innocently.

“You were staring off into space. What were you thinking about just now?”

“Oh, I was making up a story,” I stammered.

He raised an eyebrow, begging me to expound.

I took a deep breath. I noticed the little scar by your eye and I started creating a story about you being an undercover police officer and getting into a fight with a druglord in the jungle or a kitchen, and then . . .” I trailed off at the mixture of amusement and concern for my mental well-being that was playing across his features. I looked down, a little embarrassed, and finished by quickly spitting out, “I was just making up a story.”

He smiled then, a kind of slow smile that lifted one corner of his mouth, lazily followed by the other as he looked at me with fascination.  It was the kind of quiet, curious fascination you’d express if you were at a dinner party and a guest suddenly stood up on the table and started rubbing pâté on themselves while singing showtunes. Except that curious fascination wasn’t directed at a deranged diner singing showtunes or a person muttering to themselves on the subway; no, it was directed at the freak show that was me.

I’m not sure when I first became aware that normal people don’t make up stories about everything they see. Normal people don’t create backgrounds for the people they meet. They don’t construct bits of dialogue to fit into scenes they view across a crowded room. They don’t feel a breeze, smell something cooking, or see a tree and create a whole scene around it. So, although, I knew on some level that most people don’t have a host of characters and settings and bits of dialogue just rattling around their brains, I’d never given it much thought.

Since I can remember, I’ve done this.  When I was a little kid, I had imaginary friends.  Junie, Rabie, and Aprica were their names.  I know, I know, terribly creative.  (Or seriously warped.)  They were a whole family.  I made up scenes and dialog and played with them for hours.  I’ve never gone a day, nay an hour, without making up stories.  It’s subconscious; as natural and automatic as breathing.  There’s always some story running through my brain and I’d never fully considered the possibility that not only was this not normal, but some people might consider it downright weird.

“Do you do this often?” he inquired, a laugh in his voice.

I squirmed under his amused gaze. I really wasn’t sure if he found the whole thing interesting and wanted to know more, or if he thought I was crazy and wanted to know just how crazy I was. I realized I was quickly scaring away the only other person at the banquet who was at my table. I could just imagine him politely excusing himself to use the bathroom and then making a speedy escape into a crowd of people for whom he’d regal with tales of the crazy lady over there in the green shirt. But I’m nothing if not quick-thinking, so I replied, “Oh yes, we authors do this all the time. It’s how we create our wonderful books. We make up stories and then put them down on paper. It’s an occupational hazard.” I shrugged and gave a nervous little laugh meant to convey I’m confident and not at all weird, and you’re simply uneducated in the ways of writers.

(You want to know just how messed up my writer’s brain is?  None of the above even happened. I made up a story about making up stories! Except for my imaginary friends. They’re real. Or real imaginary. I mean, I really imagined them. Ahem. I may need professional help. Or more wine. Yes, let’s go with the wine.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanksgiving Edamame (and Other Traditions)

This Thanksgiving, I'm not sure what the kids and I are going to do. According to Brooklyn, they talked about Thanksgiving traditions in kindergarten today. Apparently, Brooklyn told her teacher that we eat chicken and edamame for Thanksgiving. Although I cook chicken and occasionally edamame (which is Brooklyn's favorite - weird kid, I know), I'm pretty certain I've never made either for Thanksgiving. Her teacher must think we're nuts.

We're far away from our family and friends, so it's entirely up to us how we spend our day. I suppose I could go the traditional route (minus the relatives) and cook a turkey with all the fixings. We could sit around the table, share the things for which we're thankful, gorge ourselves on the meal over which I slaved all day, then lie around for the rest of the evening. It would seem pretty normal (except for the fact that we'd be alone and it would be warm outside).

Or, since it's just us, we could start a new tradition! We could pack turkey sandwiches and head to the beach for the day. We could order a Thanksgiving pizza and watch movies until our eyes blurred. We could eat Thanksgiving soy beans and play board games for hours. The sky's the limit really.

So, what are some of your Thanksgiving traditions (even if they're non-traditional)? Share them on the new Subway site, Fresh Takes on Family Time, and you could win a $50 gift card! Not only that, but one lucky reader will have their story filmed and shared on the website each month! Right now, there's a great video by Apollo Ohno about his tradition of making and sharing dim sum with his coach and fellow athletes. (I feel this urge to shave that little goatee every time I see him. Is it just me? I may have issues.) Anyway, go watch the video HERE. Then share your traditions for a chance to win!

This website is a part of an incentivized online influencer network for Fresh Takes on Family Time Powered by Subway.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nothing Says "I love you" Like Poop

I love waking up and heading downstairs to start the ole caffeine drip. Actually, scratch that. I don’t love waking up, especially to an alarm clock that’s set way too early. But I do love the walking downstairs part. Actually, no scratch that too. I seem to have aged a lot in the past year or so because now, when I wake up, my feet and ankles are so stiff and sore that walking downstairs is a pain, and I’m pretty sure I look like an arthritic penguin when I do. But I love seeing what my kids have left me once I get down there. On any given day, I’m bound to be surprised and delighted by the little notes my kids leave around the kitchen.

Lexi and Brooklyn especially, are known for leaving sweet messages on Post-its in random places around the house.  While my parents were visiting, a few notes from Brooklyn appeared stuck to the kitchen cabinets.  They read, “I love Mom” and “Mom and Brooklyn” and were decorated with little hearts.  Is there anything sweeter than a random reminder that you’re very much loved?  Such little notes and pictures never fail to make me smile.  I mean, it’s pretty darn cool being the object of your child’s greatest affection (You have to enjoy it now because when they hit their teens, you’ll become the dumbest person in the family and they’ll be certain the only goal in your life is to ruin theirs.)

But the other day, I discovered a different kind of note.  Not a cute, flowery, “I love you, Mom” kind of note.  Nope.  I found some notes from Clay.

Ticket: have you seen my poop pet?
I shudder to imagine what a poop pet is, but I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it.

I have my poop missing
I can't imagine how one could have their poop go missing. I like the little "stink waves" emanating off the poop though.

more missing poop

I'm so glad he put these "Lost Poop" posters up all over the house. You know, just in case someone happens along some stray poop - they'll know it belongs to Clay.

good poop

I just shake my head (and wonder how long this poop phase is going to last). Maybe I should start saving for therapy. Hmmm, help me out and buy my books!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finally, an Answer to the Age-Old Debate

There’s a certain debate about who has it harder, stay-at-home moms or working moms. “They” say there is no answer to this debate. No one will ever agree on which position is more difficult. This has been going on since caveman days. When a stay-at-home cavemom’s cavehusband came home, she’d complain,”I spent the whole day cleaning, Mister! Do you have any idea how hard it is to sweep the dirt out of this cave when the floor is made of, you know, dirt? And here you come and plop this saber tooth tiger on the floor while you sit down and prop your feet up on a rock because you ‘had a tough day’! You don’t even know what a tough day is, you troglodyte! Do you know hard it is to watch junior and change his loin cloth and keep him in the cave so the pterodactyls don’t carry him off like his brother? And he didn’t eat one bite of the mammoth stew I slaved over! He spit it out and it hit the wall and when I scrubbed it off, the cave drawings came off too and it took me two hours to draw new ones!”

Meanwhile, the working cavemom came home from a hard day at the caveoffice. All she wanted to do was read her stone mail and sip a prehistoric martini while watching Hunting with the Stars for a few minutes. But did she get to do that? Oh no. She had to clean up all the messes that her kids left and she had to butcher a saber-tooth and complain that her lazy cavehusband never does a thing as she picks up his animal hide tunics strewn all over the floor.

Seriously, that’s how it went down in olden times. Ask any paleantologist.  It’s historically accurate.

Now I’m here to solve this debate once and for all. I’ve been on both sides of this equation, and I can say with 100% certainty that it is much harder (and suckier) to be a working mom. There’s nothing to debate. Now, I’m not saying that being a sahm is a picnic. I did that for nearly seventeen years. Especially when the kids are young, it’s a tough, thankless job. The only other people who can understand what it’s like are other stay-at-home parents.

However, there are no words to describe how hard it is to be a working parent. Brooklyn was sick last week and I had to stay home with her. My next paycheck will be cut in half because of it. My bills, however, will not. I wouldn’t wish the overwhelming guilt that floods a working parent when they have to choose their child or their job, on anyone. It sucks.

Coming home to find your mail scattered about the garage floor, Kool-Aid spilled on half of it can make the vein on the side of your neck do funny things. Walking inside to find dirty dishes, papers, a bowl of scooped-out pumpkin goo, and clean, folded laundry on the floor can make the most composed parent lose it. Discovering you missed one child’s conference and learning another child is failing a class because they’re not doing their homework will undoubtedly make any parent feel like a failure. Being bombarded by, “Mom, someone called for you… Mom, I need some posterboard for a project that’s due tomorrow… Mom, can I go to Kenzie’s house? Mom, my tooth is wiggly… Mom, I think I’m getting sick now too… Mom, the nurse said there’s head lice in my classroom… Mom, I need a new outfit… Mom, can I have $50 to get a yearbook… Mom, my computer isn’t working… Mom, can you take me to the store… Mom, what’s for dinner… Mom, there’s water coming out of the toilet upstairs… Mom, Mom, Mom!” can make even the best of parents crumble to their knees/drink excessively/go to bed for the rest of the week.

And it’s never-ending. You can never, ever, ever get caught up. Ever. Working parents are always two steps behind. You get the laundry done, and there are dishes to be washed and bills to be paid. You help your kids with their homework, and there are students’ papers to grade. You go to the grocery store, and there are phone calls to make, errands to run, bathrooms to clean, and a lawn that needs to be mowed.

Going to the bank or the post office, or making doctor or dentist appointments is a big deal when you’re a working parent. You have to get things done during very limited windows of time, or you have to take time off work which means less pay which means you drown in bills a little bit faster.

So, I’m sorry, sahms. I love you and I respect you and I know your job isn’t a walk in the park because I’ve been there and done that, but the working moms have it tougher, hands down. I admit that this is coming from a single mom of six kids.  Perhaps if I was married (and my job provided extra income instead of my kids’ bread and butter, literally), I would feel a little differently.  Perhaps if I had another adult around the house to help out even just a little bit, I’d have a different perspective.  And perhaps if I only had two or three kids, I’d think differently.  But as it is, I stand by my assessment that working moms have it much, much harder.  No need to thank me for settling this age-old debate.  It’s what I do.  You know, when I’m not working or screaming at my kids to pick up after themselves, that is.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Stripping

"I've gotta get me one of those!"
I took the kids trick-or-treating around my neighborhood yesterday. It was the first time since Savannah was a baby that the kids didn't need winter coats. Seriously, the kids carried hand warmers in their coat pockets back home in Chicagoland the last two years.

I've always tried to come up with creative, original costume ideas for my kids. This year, however, I dropped the ball. I just didn't have it in me. Brooklyn wore the Rapunzel dress she got for her birthday. After putting it on, she insisted she needed a frying pan to complete her ensemble (if you've seen the movie Tangled, you know what I'm talking about here).

Clay couldn’t decide what he wanted to be until the day before Halloween when he chose Jack Sparrow. In case anyone was wondering, you can’t go out and get the costume you want in the size you need the day before Halloween. You can find dinosaur costumes for your dog. You can find plastic vampire teeth. You can find orange and black spider rings. You can even find a size 3T Spiderman costume. And that’s about it. I did find a Jack Sparrow costume that I thought would be too big for Clay, but figured we could make it work. And by “make it work”, I mean, buy it, take it home, have Clay change his mind and insist he wants to be Darth Vader while Lexi says she doesn’t want to be a cheerleader after all because she absolutely must be Jack Sparrow this year. Thankfully, we had an old Darth Vader costume in our Halloween box so it all worked out.

Savannah and a couple friends came up with the idea to dress like the Power Puff Girls and they used items they had on hand to make their costumes. Jackson wore an old football uniform. Austin and I were party poopers and didn’t dress up at all.

After the first house, Clay whined that he didn’t want to wear his mask. I held it. He continued as a guy in a black cape. After the second house, Brooklyn told me she couldn’t hold the frying pan anymore. I held it. She want on as Rapunzel without a frying pan. After about the seventh house, Brooklyn had a blister on her foot and told me she couldn’t wear the dress-up shoes anymore. I informed her that she needed some kind of shoes to which she retorted, “But Mom, I really should be barefoot because Rapunzel is barefoot!” Sigh. I held her shoes. She continued on as barefoot Rapunzel. After about ten houses, Lexi whined that her hat was itchy. I held it. She continued on as a pirate with a headband. Then Brooklyn cried that her wig was too hot and itchy. I held it. She continued on as a little, barefoot girl in a dress. After another house, Lexi claimed she had a headache because the bandana was too tight. I held it. She went on as a cross-dressing girl with a mustache.

We went to a few more houses while I held a Darth Vader mask, a pair of shoes, a frying pan, a hat, a wig, and a bandana. I was tired of carrying everything so I donned the shoes, wig, mask, and hat, rang a doorbell, and held out the frying pan while saying, “Trick or treat!”

The little old couple who answered the door asked, “Oh and what are you supposed to be?”

“I’m a mom, of course!”

The couple smiled and gave me their entire stash of candy. (Okay, so maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that. Actually, I staggered home, laden with discarded costume pieces. Then I charged my kids for my services. “A Butterfinger, a Baby Ruth, a couple Almond Joys, and a peanut butter cup should cover it, kids.”

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