Using Excessive Force To Make The Arrest

Thing 2 and I ran into his “recess teacher” at Walmart this afternoon.  She gave him an enthusiastic wave from across the aisle, and said, “Hello, Thing 2!”  My boy tried to hide his head a little bit, but then he reluctantly looked straight at her, returned her greeting with a little smile, and gave her a shy wave.

We moved on down the aisle, with my red flags flapping in the breeze of MOTHER’S INTUITION.

As I pushed Thing 2 around in the cart, I asked, “How was recess today?”

He said, “Oh… fine.”

I said, “Did you stand on the wall today?”

Thing 2 nodded.  “Yep.”

I said, “Should we talk about it?”

Thing 2 said, “We were playing Cops and Robbers, Mom.  And our recess teacher has no idea how you play it RIGHT.  She thinks you just have to tag a robber and send them to jail, but she doesn’t know that sometimes a robber fights and doesn’t GO to jail, so then you have to tackle him.  And she just yells, ‘NO TACKLING AT SCHOOL!’  But if a robber won’t listen to the cop and go nicely to jail, then you HAVE to tackle him.”

I asked him, “Did you stand on the wall by yourself?”

“No.  Four of us stood against the wall… for tackling robbers too much.”

I asked my boy, “So what did you learn about this?”

And, people, I was hoping beyond hope that he would say, “MOM, I HAVE FINALLY TURNED A CORNER IN MY LIFE, RECEIVED ENLIGHTENMENT, AND I LEARNED TO FOLLOW RULES!”

But no.

Thing 2 looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “I just learned that our recess teacher has no idea how to play that game the right way!”

So now I’m just trying to decide if this situation should be paired with a glass of white or red wine tonight.

December Odds And Ends

Let me just start by saying that I love getting the mail in December.

For eleven months out of the year, I make the trek down our steep driveway, to the mailbox, about twice a week.  It’s irresponsible of me, and not how our founding grandmothers would have wanted me to handle the mail situation, but it is what it is.  I can’t work up any enthusiasm for hiking down the long slope, just to gather a handful of college brochures, the electric bill, new credit card applications, and Walmart sale flyers out of my mailbox.

But then December rolls around, and I pretty much run straight down the driveway immediately after the mailman pulls away from our mailbox in his little car.  BLESS ALL THE CHRISTMAS CARDS, AND BLESS THE SCHOOL PICTURES OF ALL THE KIDS, AND BLESS THOSE HOLIDAY LETTERS THAT FOLKS WRITE!

Bless.  Them.  All.

And I have a system, people.  I’m hesitant to admit it on the World Wide Web, but every afternoon, after collecting the day’s intake of Christmas cards, I ORGANIZE them.  Just knowing from past experience over the years, on who is going to include school pictures of their kids, and who is going to send a fabulous card, and WHO IS GOING TO WRITE A REAL LETTER FOR ME TO SIT DOWN AND READ, I stack my cards accordingly.

Are you just going to send a stock card, with nothing but your name signed to it?

Top of the pile.  I read it first.

Are you going to send a great photo card, but nothing else?

Middle of the pile.  I want to treasure the anticipation of opening it, after I get through the ones that were stamped at the printers’ shop and read, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, FROM JOHN AND JANE DOE, in embossed gold, with nothing else included.

Are you going to send a holiday letter?  ARE YOU SHOVING YOUR KIDS’ SCHOOL PICTURES INTO MY ENVELOPE??!!

You, my friend, will get the bottom of the stack.   Your card will be saved for last, on the day it arrives, because I WANT TO SAVOR IT!!  In other words, the bottom of the stack is where the TOP GUN cards go.

And now I have confessed my sins about how I rate Christmas cards, and the order in which I read them.  I’m sure I could cause all kinds of outrage on every manner of social media with my declaration of my Christmas Card Rating System.

And this is where I’m just going to confess that on Saturday… and today, which is Monday… I GOT A BIG, FAT ZERO AMOUNT OF CHRISTMAS CARDS IN OUR MAILBOX.

Zero.

I struck out, two mail days in a row, making my hike down our driveway a complete waste of my time, as I brought in the satellite TV bill and yet another college brochure, trying to get my son’s tuition money paid at THEIR university.

So don’t mind me, over here at my house, humming, “It’s beginning to look a lot… LESS... like Christmas…” as I sit, empty handed tonight, with no stack of cards to organize.  Clearly, y’all need to coordinate your mailing times, so that I end up with AT LEAST ONE CARD each day!

Anyway.

Our weekend was just a weekend… just a normal weekend.

We had a little babysitting snafu last week, so Hubs brought Thing 2 to me at school.  He got to attend my last PE class of the day, where he met up with three of his FAVORITE FRIENDS, who go to my school.  These three were all so excited to see Thing 2, since his school’s kindergarten class gets out an hour before their class does each afternoon.

Of course, all Thing 2 wanted to do was blow my whistle and be the Acting Assistant PE Teacher, because apparently he felt a little need to be in charge, and then he asked me, “When do you give these kids their recess?”

“Um… I don’t.  Because it’s almost time for school to get out, and they’re in gym class.”

I think it’s safe to say that Thing 2 lives for the recesses.

Our Elf on the Shelf is still going strong, although… it’s December 11th… and Hubs and I are already admitting to one another that THIS MAY BE RIDICULOUS!  Because what we clearly have on our hands are memories that cannot keep up with thinking about that elf at bedtime and the creativity to invent some new location for him to land in, on the fly, when what we really want to do is put our elderly selves to bed.

Yesterday, our elf was on the light fixture, high above our kitchen island.  He was still there this morning, because WHO FORGOT TO MOVE HIM ALREADY ON DECEMBER 11th??!!  That explains why I was out of bed at 5:30 this morning, knocking him down with a broom handle.  He experienced a touch of head trauma, which is to say, I’m pretty sure I knocked him out cold, when I tipped him forward with the broom, seeing as how he hit the kitchen island, face first, and then bounced, only to crack the back of his skull on the hardwood floor, where he came to rest…

… completely motionless, and in need of a 911 call.

Thing 2 named that elf Zach Williams.

Not Sparky… or Elfie… or Batman… but… Zach Williams.  I told Hubs, “It sounds like he’s naming our first grandson.”  I asked Thing 2 why he chose this name, and he looked at me like I was a touch on the side of all the crazy.  (Which… JUST YES.  I am.)  He said, “Mom… I like how Zach Williams sings on KLOVE radio.  I like that song, Chain Breaker.”

Well.  There you have it.  Our Elf on the Shelf was named after a Christian singer, and I didn’t even recognize it.  I’m sure Jesus stood up and slow clapped His approval for Thing 2, over his name choosing abilities.

Anyway.

A friend asked me the other day, “Hey!  Does Thing 2 still use those fuzzy slipper socks as his security blanket?  You know… like he did when he was little?”

People!

DOES HE?  I decided to document his security blanket issues with the fuzzy slipper socks, which he calls HIS BOYS, and which he has clung to since he was a CRAWLING BABY.  He doesn’t need the boys during the daytime any more, like he did when he was a tiny boy of… say… FOUR YEARS OLD, because we are a very mature five and a half now.  But!!!  They are all good buddies at bedtime, those slipper socks and Thing 2.

On Friday night, Thing 2 went to an open gym at the new gymnastics center in Small Town, USA.  I’d say he LOVED IT, but LOVED IT isn’t quite strong enough of a phrase.

Thing 2 went BAT DUNG CRAZY over that open gym!  He couldn’t quit smiling, he couldn’t quit running around, trying out every!! single!! piece!! of equipment!!, and he NEVER wanted to go home again.  He wanted to live there and change his mailing address to the gym’s address.

And that’s pretty much why his mama signed him up for a gymnastics CLASS, that starts tomorrow afternoon.  He has only asked me four hundred and fourteen times this evening if IT’S TIME FOR GYMNASTICS YET.  At least I have some massive bargaining power at bedtime tonight.

“What?  You don’t want to STAY IN YOUR BED, and you don’t want to GO STRAIGHT TO SLEEP?  Hmm.  That is so sad… considering… you know… that we have gymnastics tomorrow… and YOU’LL BE TOO TIRED TO GO!!”  I feel like I’ve hit the mother load of gold with this piece of power.

The kids all got together and decorated Mam and Pa’s Christmas tree this weekend.  Mam bought a tree from a tree lot in town, and it is EVERYTHING that a Christmas tree should be.  It’s smallish.  It’s adorable.  It’s well-behaved.

On the flip side of that, OUR Christmas tree is the size of a Greyhound bus, and is already an EXTREME fire hazard that shouldn’t have the lights turned on.  It has already started to turn brown, it is disrobing and dropping all of its pine needles in a quick effort to become a nudist… or, at the very least… a totally naked Christmas LOG, come Christmas Eve, and I hate it.  It’s drying up enough that it smokes when I turn the lights on now.  It’s so enormous, the only way it’s coming out of our living room is with an industrial-sized winch, on the front of a Massey Ferguson tractor.

I’m just a touch jealous of Mam and Pa’s tree, while I’m dealing with the Jolly Green Giant’s poorly-behaved tree at my house.

Also?

Just this:

THAT is exactly how dinnertime shakes down at our house, all of the time.

Bless those children.

And… Thing 2 is very much into his hair these days, as he begs me every morning to use the gel, to make his hair SWOOP AND STAND TALL.

Swoop.  And stand tall.

The reason I teach PE is because my spiritual gift is not DOING HAIR.  The reason the Lord gave me boys, instead of girls, is because my spiritual gift is not DOING HAIR.  The reason I always look like I slept in a dumpster and drank spoiled milk for breakfast is because my spiritual gift is not DOING HAIR.  But… I think we’re kind of getting the hang of swooping and standing tall.

And that’s about it, y’all.

Happy Monday night.  When you sit beside your well-lit Christmas trees tonight, just think of us… over here… watching our tree smoke a bit, as the dry branches start to singe.

A Well-Rounded Education

Thing 2 came home from school this afternoon, and I quizzed him on how his day went.  This is a ritual that we go through every single afternoon, and it’s like encouraging a baby sloth to HURRY AND GET DRESSED, PLEASE.  The information is SLOW to emerge.

“How was school today?”

“I don’t know.”

“Was it good?”

“Probably.”

“But probably it… maybe… WASN’T good?”

“Maybe it was good.”

“So you had a good day?”

“I actually had an OUTSTANDING DAY.  My behavior clip was on OUTSTANDING, Mom.”

“Who’d you eat lunch with?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, who sat beside you at the lunchroom table?”

“A kid from my class.”

And then I turn to the wall and just knock my head against it, because that always seems to alleviate some of the burning pressure that is a sure-fire indication that the top of my skull is going to explode off, into fragments of QUITE THE MESS.

This afternoon, after asking Thing 2 sixteen questions to determine that YES, AND ALSO INDEED, HE SAT WITH HIS BEST BUDDY, AS HE USUALLY DOES AT LUNCH, I asked him how recess went.  I do this to kind of check on which kids he’s playing with, and to also kind of find out if my beloved son spent any time standing against the wall, in a RECESS BREAK, for such offenses as PERHAPS pushing or shoving.

Today, he immediately answered my question on recess, with GUSTO and EXCITEMENT, as he exclaimed in his loudest voice, “OH, MY GOSH, MOM!!  Recess was so much fun today, because we played MUTANT ZOMBIES!!”

So… you know… clearly we’re getting our money’s worth out of those tax payers’ dollars we give to the public school system, because we had no idea what mutant zombies were BEFORE we started kindergarten.  I think we’re getting a well-rounded education.

 

Dear Elf On The Shelf People, We Have Become One Of You.

As if December isn’t already crazier than we need it to be…

… the North Pole has gone and sent an ambassador to us.

Are Hubs and I a little afraid of what we’re in for during these next twenty nights?  Yes.  Yes, we are.  Did we just inform our seventeen-year-old son, “Start thinking.  You’re going to be helping move that elf around the house, or Santa will put YOUR name on the Naughty List”?  Yes.  Yes, we did.  Hubs and I are just disappointed that this ambassador from the North Pole showed up with a full-color storybook, that explains to little children what he’s all about, instead of a bottle of wine.  Hubs and I always have the worst kind of luck.

When Your Christmas Tree Starts To Undress Before December Even Hits

I don’t  mean to brag, but OUR Christmas tree (which is standing up, but still undecorated) is going to lose ALL of its pine needles WAY BEFORE yours does.   Our living room currently looks like a grenade went off in a pine forest.  You cannot even BEGIN to imagine the amounts of joy that this brings to me.

Thankfully, the little man who drops by to run my vacuum cleaner every hour is cute… and he works for gummy worms.

Thanksgiving 2017

I can’t believe that we’ve managed to flip enough pages in our 2017 calendars to be at the end of November already.  It seems like I was just griping about the heat… THE HEAT… STOP THE CRAZY HEAT AND THESE 96 DEGREE DAYS… last week, and here we are now shivering, because it is RAINING in Small Town, USA today.

Yes.  Raining… exactly like it’s November on the equator, in a tropical rain forest.  Apparently, Mother Nature did not read SUGGESTED DATES FOR RAIN in her operating systems handbook for our area, because… come tomorrow… this rain is going to be frozen into sheets of ice on our streets that make bobsled runs look mediocre in terms of HOW FAST CAN YOU SLIDE?  The end of November is not our optimal time for rain, what with the frigid overnight temperatures and all.

Go home, Mother Nature.  You’re drunk.

This is the type of weather that makes me crazy, as I send my seventeen-year-old off to school, yelling, “THE HILLS!  The hills in town will be icy!!  Try to drive on only FLAT streets!”  To this he yells back, “Ma, the high school is ON THE TOP OF A HILL!  And I’m a professional driver, Ma.  My skills make Richard Petty look like a preschooler!”

Hubs and I are really working on the boy’s self esteem.

But yes.  Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and it treated us fairly well.

We started Thanksgiving Break by joining Thing 2 at his elementary school for their annual Turkey Trot.  This is when the entire school — all three hundred of their students and teachers — are joined by sixty-two million parents, and everyone trots along the streets, for a mile-long loop around the neighborhood.  The kids love that a policeman leads the way, with the lights flashing on the top of his car.

Although this particular Turkey Trot is not a race AT ALL, Thing 2 walked two blocks with me and Hubs, and then announced, “I’m totally going to win this trot!”  His competitive nature couldn’t take being twenty-five people behind the leading police car, so off he ran, leaving Hubs and I alone.

Clearly, it was a family affair… but the polar opposite.

At one point, Thing 2’s teacher asked us, “Are you two on a date without kids?”

Yes.  That was exactly it.  What we love to do together, when we find ourselves childless, is to walk a mile with three hundred other children who DON’T belong to us.

I suppose that it goes without saying that Thing 2 WON the non-competitive Turkey Trot, as he was the first one to step onto the school’s property, behind that policeman.  He was a little disappointed to learn that this was not a competition, and that NO, YOU’RE NOT GETTING A MEDAL OR ANY MONETARY AWARD.

Hubs and I finished somewhere around 30th and 31st place.  Come to think of it, I guess that’s not a bad finish, out of three hundred students and all the accompanying parents.

The kids didn’t have school on Wednesday, so they each did their favorite things.

The boy slept in until 11:30 that morning, and Thing 2 went ice skating with their cousin.  Cousin R is a freshman.  She is a SEASONED ice skater, and she ended up saying, “I can barely keep up with him out there!”  As much as the boy thinks he’s Richard Petty behind the wheel of his car, Thing 2 believes he’s Apollo Ohno and Wayne Gretsky, all rolled up into one small package, on ice skates.

After he’d gone to open skate with Cousin R, Thing 2 had his REAL hockey team practice.  He has been so excited to finally be old enough to play REAL hockey, that he could barely stand it.  That group of 5 and 6 year olds broke into little teams to scrimmage one another on Wednesday night, while we all cheered them on.  It was Thing 2’s very first experience playing in a real hockey game, and he LOVED IT.

He came away with a hat trick, plus one.

Yes.  That stinker scored FOUR GOALS for his little team in their little scrimmage.  He had a ball.  He came off the ice dripping sweat, grinning wide enough to split his face in half, and happy as he’s ever been in his life.

Ultimately, this means we may be traveling for hockey games IN THE WINTER.  Do you know what I HATE, LOATHE and also DESPISE doing in the winter?  That would be TRAVELING.  I had been hoping that Thing 2 would just play baseball, which is such a SUMMER GIG.

Anyway.

Every Thanksgiving, our church puts on a dinner.  It’s a rather popular place for members of our congregation to go, and everyone seems to bring friends.  We gave it a try this year.  Hubs and the boys and I joined Mam and Pa for dinner there.  The menu included all the traditional foods of turkey and mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casseroles, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies.

And then Hubs smoked four racks of ribs.  His biggest disappointment with the Pilgrims is that they decided bagging a turkey for their feast was good enough, when they could have shot a wild boar, trimmed it out, and smoked it right up over a roaring fire.  He threw the ribs on his Traeger grill at 6:00 Thanksgiving morning, and by 1:00 that afternoon, he wrapped everything up in aluminum foil and shouted, “These may be my finest masterpiece yet.”

We’re working on his self esteem, too.

I was a little reluctant to have him set SMOKED RIBS next to the traditional turkey on the buffet table, but listen, y’all.  EVERYONE THERE complimented Hubs on his ribs.  People argued over who got MORE ribs than others.  While I was in the kitchen, getting paper towels, one elderly gentleman came in to grab plastic wrap.  When he saw me, he smiled sheepishly and said, “I stole two extra ribs to wrap up and take home for a snack later.  I love them!”

In other words, Hubs just proved that what everyone wants for Thanksgiving dinner is a piglet with a thick, seasoned, smoked crust.

Also, it was exactly like I didn’t even know myself on Thanksgiving Day, because I took ZERO PICTURES of my children that day.

Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.

The only picture I took on Thanksgiving 2017 was this one:

When you live in a house dominated by boys, you’re never surprised at the weird things you find.  I walked downstairs on Thursday afternoon, to find Spider-Man, hanging out, tearing both of his rotator cuffs, as he whispered, “Could you bring me a plate of turkey with extra gravy and some Ben-Gay?  My shoulder muscles are a little achy.”

Every single year, on the  Friday night after Thanksgiving, Small Town closes off our main streets in the downtown area, so that everyone can mill around, jaywalk and enjoy some nighttime shopping.  It’s kind of a big deal here, as the entire town’s population shows up.  Every single year, we pop in to see Santa Claus.

This year, Thing 2 was a wee bit worried that he was actually on Santa’s Naughty List.  He kept telling me, “I’m not going to ask him for anything, in case I really AM on the Naughty List.”

I guess he knows himself pretty well.

In the end, Santa asked him what he wanted, and Thing 2 blurted out, “I want a drone and a real snow blower.”

A REAL snow blower?  He IS his dad’s boy, with the same motto of “Go big or go home.”  I just worry that Santa isn’t going to come through on that gift.

In fact, I already know that Santa laughed his head off over that and didn’t even bother to write it down on his list entitled WHAT AM I TAKING TO THING 2’S HOUSE?

Later, after we’d left Santa Claus behind, Thing 2 looked at me while he was holding my hand and asked, “Mom?  Did I ask for a drone?  Did you HEAR me ask Santa for a drone?  I was so nervous to talk to him, I don’t even remember if I asked him for that!”

Later, Thing 2 wanted to ride one of the tractor-pulled wagons, and he talked his big brother into riding it with him.

We managed to bump into EVERYONE we knew downtown on Friday night, because… well… EVERYONE WE KNEW was actually DOWNTOWN.

Thing 2 scored a skewered marshmallow, which he roasted over a fire pit in the street.  He toasted it to an absolutely picture-perfect golden, toasty brown.  It was the most beautiful marshmallow I’d ever seen come out of a campfire!  How OUR KID pulled it off, without shoving that chunk of spun sugar straight into the flames and incinerating it to black ash, is beyond me.  But, it was roasted perfection.  Thing 2 gobbled it straight down, and then he looked at me, sighed and declared, “This was the best day of my life!”

And really?  Everyone should enjoy the simple things in life, to where a toasted marshmallow and a wagon ride can give you the best day of your life.

We did a little shopping in the stores after that, roamed the street in the dark, bought the boy a pair of loafers that were on sale for Black Friday, and talked and talked to everyone we passed.

Hubs and I ended up taking Thing 2 out to eat dinner, while the boy met up with friends and stayed downtown.  Then we took our little man to the 8:00 fireworks show, where he managed to watch the FIRECRACKS without screaming like a banshee with his robe on fire this time.

We chalked it up as a Christmas miracle.

On Sunday morning, we had to WAKE this kid up for church:

The Thanksgiving holiday had taken its toll on him.

The boy and Cousin L looked kind of cute at church, so OF COURSE there was a picture.

And I couldn’t resist a picture of my boys together this morning, seeing as how the boy actually GOT UP EARLY ENOUGH to stop and smile.  That in itself was a Thanksgiving weekend miracle.

And the answer is YES.  The boy really IS wearing the same shirt today that he wore to church yesterday.  But, in his defense, he wore it for ONE HOUR on Sunday, and then he tried to take it off and throw it into the dirty clothes.

UM… SON?!  Hang that shirt back up in the closet, save your mama some unnecessary laundry work, and wear it again!

Anyway.  That’s how we spent OUR Thanksgiving Break.  What did all y’all do?

Thanksgiving Ribs And Parties

Well, it’s the eve of Thanksgiving, and everywhere across America, turkeys that are hopefully completely thawed and ready to go, are soaking in good brine recipes, in eager anticipation for the feasts tomorrow.

And then there’s us.

Hubs and the boy are preparing four racks of baby back ribs and getting them securely wrapped in aluminum foil, in eager anticipation of putting them on the smoker before the sun is up tomorrow.  Apparently, I missed that part of history class, when the pilgrims slaughtered a pig and invited the Native Americans over for ribs and pumpkin pie.  But, if anyone has ever said, “You know… what I WISH I had slapped right here on my plate… right next to the mashed potatoes and the Stove Top stuffing and the cranberry sauce and Aunt Mary Beth’s green bean casserole… is a couple of amazingly-smoked pork ribs,” then our family has you covered, because the pigs who breathed a sigh of relief that this was THANKSGIVING and NOT EASTER, had never met their worst nightmare… named Hubs… before.

Thankfully, there will still be a turkey tomorrow and all the carbs that make us sit up and give thanks for our best stretchy pants, but there will also be ribs.

You’re welcome.

And also?  Well, six entire years ago, on Thanksgiving Eve, Sister and her husband got a phone call that said, “SHE’S ARRIVING EARLY!!”  And the little girl who was due the second week of December, who was being born on the far side of our big state, decided that she should be born that very day.  And since her birth mama had handpicked my sister’s family to adopt her and become her forever family, Sister threw a thawed turkey at our mother and said, “We’re leaving!  She’s here, she’s here, SHE’S HERE, and we can’t host Thanksgiving dinner!!”  Except Sister shouted all of that into the phone, in one long breath that was almost impossible to decipher, right before she slammed the lid on her suitcase, with the arms of a sweatshirt hanging OUT of it, and jumped into her Suburban.

And that was that.

Six years ago, November 23rd was on Thanksgiving Eve, and little Cousin H arrived in this world.  Sister texted a snapshot of her, as soon as they could, and that little picture on our phones stole all of our hearts.

Because she was just THE SWEETEST THING.

They drove home with her on Thanksgiving Day, when she was a whopping twenty-four HOURS old.  We all fought over WHO would get to hold her first, as we welcomed that teeny, tiny, newborn girl into our family, through the miracle of adoption.

And tomorrow… on Thanksgiving Day… she turns six.

Sister had Little H’s birthday party this past weekend, to celebrate BEING SIX.  Or rather, to celebrate being NEARLY SIX, as she still has to wait until tomorrow to be OFFICIALLY SIX.

I have no idea how she’s this old already, because I swear it was JUST YESTERDAY that Sister handed me a bundle in a pink blanket and whispered, “Do you just love her?”

Yes.  Yes, I truly DID love her, right there on the spot.  Which was, you know, YESTERDAY.  Except apparently it wasn’t, because that adorable little stinker is already in kindergarten and told me that her favorite word to read is the word IS, because the S is tricky and sounds like a Z.

Little H got everything her heart desired at her party, because her heart desired pink Legos, Elsa costumes, Barbies and every troll doll in existence.

And because she’s as girly as girly can get, she picked out a fancily-decorated cake, with a big vanilla flower smack on the top.  Nothing says LET’S DO THIS SIX YEAR OLD THING quite like an elaborate flower constructed from pure sugar.

Of course our big kids were at the birthday party, too, but they seemed rather hesitant to jump into the crowd of kindergartners and ooh and ahh out loud over the presents.  Apparently, when you reach high school, you like to sit on the sofa, out of the reach of the camera’s lens while the troll dolls are being opened, but you still like to score a piece of the birthday cake.

Happy birthday, Little H!  May six be as wonderful to you as five has been!

And to all of you, may your turkeys be cooked to perfection, may your potatoes be fluffy and lump-free, and may your plates bear the pilgrims’ offerings of a good, pork baby back rib.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Y’ALL.  Count your blessings and hold them tightly.

Digging In The Backyard

Yes, there are folks who have fancy backyards.

And by fancy, I mean they have things like actual grass, that is probably watered with actual sprinklers in the summer, and where digging a hole with a shovel might be frowned on, because… well... YOU DON’T BURY TREASURE CHESTS IN MAMA’S YARD, BECAUSE YOU’LL RUIN ALL THIS LOVELY LANDSCAPING!

And then there are people like us.

Our front yard is landscaped, because WHAT WILL THE FOLKS WHO DRIVE THROUGH THE CUL DE SAC THINK?!  We put on a good show out front, y’all.  We have the immaculate lawn with the rock wall and the bushes and the decorative rock.

Our backyard, though, is an entirely different story, that starts with ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS A PLACE OF DIRT AND SEVERAL WEEDS.  But… lo!  It has a happy ending that goes, AND THE LITTLE BOY DUG IN THE DIRT, TO HIS HEART’S CONTENT, AND HE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

And everyone likes a story with a happy ending.  And… if that story also ends with a giant hole, dug by heavy Tonka machinery, that goes clear through the earth’s crust, and comes out in China, then I believe the story ends even happier.