On Keeping A Relationship Fresh.

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Sometimes you can live with someone your whole life and still not really know them. You might think you have them pegged – especially if they share DNA – and know exactly what decisions they’ll make in each scenario. But then some random recessive gene will pop up and shock your socks off.

Such has been mine and Noah’s relationship of late.

I have logical children. Degreed as an Engineer and an Accountant, Chris and I have a significant amount of organized, calm, orderly genes in our pool. No, we don’t allow belly flops or dunking.

So when I was changing light bulbs and asked Noah to come take the old one out of my hand, it didn’t occur to me to say “CAREFULLY throw this away.” I mean sure he’s a six year old boy but he’s my six year old boy. And even more extreme, he’s Chris’ six year old boy.

So I just said “Take this and throw it away.”

After which I heard the crash and shatter and skittering pieces of glass in the kitchen.

“What happened??”

“You SAID to throw it!!”

“What?!? You know what ‘throw it away’ means – why would you THROW a lightbulb?”

I shooed both the children out of the kitchen and began angry sweeping.

(Thankfully these were old-fashioned bulbs – no immediately-life-ending poison in these babies.)

After carefully sweeping and then linting my floor (y’all keep dryer lint around to pick up tiny glass fragments too, right?), I followed up with Noah, who was feeling the weight of his sins in the living room. I think my angry sweeping was rightfully emanating throughout the house.

“Why did you throw it?”

“Well, actually I didn’t throw it. I slammed it against the counter to break it before I threw it away.”

“Wait. WHAT?!”

I angry-ran back in the kitchen, Noah leading the way then pointing out shiny objects. Sure enough, the counter was also covered in glass shards.

I spent the day marveling at his ability to surprise me. But then I remembered a couple of weeks ago when I did the same to him…

He and Ali were playing Hide and Seek. He ran into my room, quietly shutting the door behind him. Breathlessly, he said “Don’t tell Ali I’m in here.”

I was busy at work on my computer and nodded busily.

Ali finished counting and eventually popped her head in my door.

“Is Noah in here?”

I didn’t look up and answered as if I was giving her 1% of my attention. “Nope.”

“Okay, thanks.”

She ran downstairs.

Noah slowly rose up from the other side of my bed, starry eyed. With a lot of awe and a tiny bit of fear in his voice, he said,

“Well that…..is amazing. You can lie to kids.”

And he’ll never, ever know how good I am at it.

On The Killing Of The Rodent.

When your friend that spent 90% of her life living in Central America invites you over for Taco Night, you go.

No matter what.

Last night our small group had the privilege of just such an occasion. And besides the best tacos we’ve ever eaten (including the magical pork-and-pineapple mixture that I’m now kinda craving for breakfast), there was a guest of honor that made the night extraordinarily authentic.

I introduce you to the creepiest most fantastic Is-It-A-Matador or Is-It-A-Little-Girl-Playing-Dress-up (and by the way is it a girl or a boy) Piñata Mouse.

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Bought at a Mexican Grocery Store and as tall as some of our children, he/she was spectacular.

…As opposed to the American-Safe Piñatas that are not hit to their death and/or explosion, but instead have multiple strings hanging down. Each kid pulls a string until someone pulls the correct string, at which point the wimpy little creature safely opens to drop what I’m sure is gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free pseudo candy at the children’s feet. Or, more likely, kale.lion-pull-string-pinata-bx-35666

This, my friends, is sad.

When our litigious and paranoid society wanders into the territory of Pull-The-Tampon-Strings Piñatas, it might be time to take a step back and swing a stick at our obsession with safety.

Which is exactly what we did.

As they lifted her up into the tree, the sun glinting off her bulbous nose, she smiled, delighted that they were thoughtfully giving her a better view of the upcoming sunset.

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The children lined up in ascending age order, anxiously awaiting their turn to Meet The Mouse.

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Some swings were joyful.

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Some looked like Neville Longbottom trying to learn a new spell.

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Some kids swung for the home run,

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Some closed their eyes to shield them from the trauma they were inflicting on their victim.

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And some….were a little frightening in their intensity.

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But most alarming were the tiny adorable ones who swung with the facial expression of complete bliss that they normally reserved for seeing the cutest puppy in the world. Because they were also the ones screaming with derangement and wild eyes while everyone else took their turns. “Whack it right in the neck!! Knock a leg off!! HARDER!!!!”

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There were some hits squarely below the belt, at which times we prayed the mouse was indeed a she.

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And there’s always that one kid whose hitting face looks just like The Shining movie poster.

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After two rounds of Child Rage Release, it was a Dad who finally let loose the mouse’s guts, after a few strategic pokes to the middle.

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And it was another dad who kept the injuries coming so as to bleed her dry (and drop a few Skittle packs onto unsuspecting heads.)

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But the children weren’t done. It didn’t matter that her nose was plastered to her cheek, that her arms were nonexistent, and that one leg was barely attached.

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They had more punishment to offer.

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They didn’t rest until she was literally torn from limb to limb…

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And that cutest screaming drill sergeant was able to claim her body parts.

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A Tampon String Piñata could never have been so therapeutic.

R.I.P. Creepy MouseLadyMan.

Mom’s Worst Adventure Ever.

Sometimes Moms make mistakes.

Sometimes Moms have inadvertently terrible timing.

These things could both be said of me on Wednesday, but I’m going to choose to blame Noah instead.

You see, we had to do an errand. And he decided to wear his extraordinarily dapper hat that Chris and I bought him last year when we went to Isla Mujeres.

The kid looked amazing.

And I hadn’t taken any pictures of him lately.

On top of that, we had no plans for the rest of the day, and we were very near Aldridge Gardens – the perfect place to photograph a child when they’re looking ridonkulously fabulous.

So it would be dual purposed: we’d get outside and take a small hike, and I’d get some pictures of the kid.

Of course he didn’t make this easy on me. He in fact drove a very hard bargain.

“I’ll let you take pictures of me in my hat if you give me 100 pieces of candy.”

“I don’t have 100 pieces of candy.”

Ali: “Just get him a box of Nerds, Mom.”

(She’s so smart.)

Before I answered, he counter-offered, seemingly not wanting Nerds.

“I’ll let you take my picture if you let me pick out one piece of candy on our way home. Whatever I want.”

“Fair enough. I can do that.”

So he grabbed his hat out of the car and we headed toward the entrance of the gardens.

He wanted to get the picture taking out of the way as soon as possible (because he wanted to put his hat back in the car because difficult), so he posed for me two inches past the entrance.

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Yes, I’d made a good deal.

I told him I needed a close-up, so he became wiggly and found all his silly faces.

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He found great pleasure in the fact that he was being difficult to photograph, and laughed a mirthful, evil cackle.

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The irony was not lost on me.

I finally got the shot I was looking for,

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And he went back to the car to drop off the hat.

After all the bargaining, silly faces, and hat putting-up, some rumbling thunder could be heard off in the distance. As we walked back in, I mentioned it to the gentleman that works at the garden gates.

“It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to stay very long…”

“Oh, I think you’ll be fine. It looked like that earlier, too, then just sprinkled for a minute and was gone.”

I checked my radar. Off to the west was the usual summer pop-up storm that lasted 5 minutes and was entirely unpredictable in the direction it would choose to travel.

So we strolled back into the garden, reveling in the lovely day.

It started sprinkling as we were headed toward the lake, so I said “let’s go in the boathouse for a minute until it dries up again.”

The kids happily ran toward the little open-air house that sat out over the lake. It’s the best place to observe and feed turtles and fish and in general enjoy the view out of the sun or rain.

Ali dug some crackers out of her Mary-Poppins-like bag and they happily threw crumbs on the turtles, cooing at the tiny babies. I took pictures of the calm sprinkles on the lake. It was a perfect summer shower.

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Until very suddenly it wasn’t.

The rain cranked up to a level that was so heavy that you couldn’t see the fountain, and the lightning definitively reached our location. Soon, the wind was blowing in the open sides, the thunder reverberating all around us, and my children were no longer enjoying their stay in the boathouse.

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But we were trapped.

The rain was way too heavy to make a run for the car, a quarter of a mile away, and even too heavy to make a run for the house on the hill (home of the public bathrooms and gift shop) and OHMYGOODNESS DID THAT LIGHTNING JUST STRIKE THE HOUSE UP THERE??

It didn’t, I don’t think, but it was seriously close to it.

The lightning and thunder were now nearly on top of each other, and it seemed like we were surely next on its hit list. I listened nervously to the rain pounding on the metal roof above our head. I texted Chris electrical engineering questions.

FullSizeRender 90Unfortunately, he never liked his Electrical Engineering classes.

Chris and I both kept assuming that this thing would pass over any minute. ANY MINUTE. Summer storms do not stick around to attack unsuspecting families in boathouses.

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The minutes ticked by, except instead of ticking, they thundered by. See my little blue dot below? Just barely under all that lightning? Yeah. I didn’t even know my radar had that purplish color in the middle of the storm.

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The thunder got closer and louder to the point that each peal of thunder was followed by my son’s impressive high-pitched scream. Have I ever told you how very much noise rips my soul to pieces?

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Chris kept watching the radar for us and willed that storm to move on.

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I couldn’t look at the apparently lying radar myself because…Noah’s arms had gotten tired.

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After fifty minutes filled with a “pop-up storm” and my son’s screams and stomps and declaring it “your WORST ADVENTURE EVER, Mom!”, the rain finally let up a tiny bit. I measured it as “light enough to make it to the house but not to the car without my camera getting ruined” (it was safely put away in its carrying case but still. This was some seriously submersion-determined rain.)

We ran up the hill and splashed into the nice, dry house. The kids immediately began emptying the paper towel rolls to dry themselves, then plopped onto the floor and began playing cards.

One of the garden’s administrative staff walked through and was a bit surprised to see us on the floor of her bathrooms. We explained. She gasped.

“Oh! I thought I heard screams from my office and I was wondering where they were coming from…”

She disappeared around the corner and came back bearing a bouquet of lollipops.

“Each of you take one. I hear it can help with the trauma.”

She was the garden’s Professor Lupin, giving out chocolate after a dementor attack.

About a half hour later, we were able to make a run for the car, splashing through giant puddles on the way.

We found out later that our storm had seriously flooded the lower lying areas surrounding us – to the point of cars getting pulled into the (usually tiny) creek and carried downstream, turning flips as they went. The bowling alley, a couple car dealerships, some offices, and Chuck E Cheese were all completely flooded.

(Although Chris and I agreed that The Chuck was probably now cleaner than it had been in years. Maybe decades.)

So yes.

I made a bad decision that day.

But I got this picture.

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So there’s that.

Epilogue: Noah chose Bubble Tape for his candy bribe. Ali also got candy for surviving the incident with a bit more grace than her brother. For my prize, I chose spending the rest of the day reading in bed.