Nobody Loves Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I’ll Go Eat Some Worms

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the ones where nothing seems to be going right? Just a terrible, no good kind of day.

And then something happens to put things in perspective and makes you feel okay with the world again.

Like when bird poop lands 6 inches from where you are sitting.

It not only makes you thankful, but makes you realize someone else is having a pretty bad day too.

His aim was obviously off!

photo courtesy of PhotoBucket

photo courtesy of PhotoBucket

Wishing you all a wonderful day!

Melissa

I Think We Entered the Twilight Zone

Memories are a funny thing.

It’s not always the best, most pleasant occurrences that stick with us; that lodge themselves deep inside our brain. Often times it’s something shocking, absurd and downright frightening that we seem to latch onto forever.

We had one of those moments on our recent cross-country trip. Even though we experienced plenty of really cool, beautiful things this is the memory that I know will be engrained in our minds as one of the “highlights.”

We were driving down the highway mid afternoon somewhere in South Dakota. No houses were in sight and very little traffic. Every little bit we would see some grazing land with a few beef cattle roaming in the distance. Out of nowhere we noticed a sign in the distance stating there was a general store at the next exit selling buffalo jerky. My husband is a big fan of dried meat so we decided to pull off and visit the shop.

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The place was called Buffalo Ridge General Store. As we stepped out we noticed things weren’t exactly in pristine condition. The building was a bit dilapidated and there was no other vehicles in the parking lot. However, we forged on with our mission to get some buffalo jerky for my husband.

The front of the store

The front of the store

As we entered the store I was dumbstruck. It appeared as though we had exited the year 2013 and were catapulted into a time warp from 1978. The merchandise scattered here and there had a thick layer of dust on it. Everything was dirty including the floors and shelves. I really had to go to the bathroom but there was no way I was going to explore the facilities that were located right up front with the door half off it’s hinges and the words “Bathroom” painted on in crude handwriting.

There was even a pay phone in the store for their patrons use! Who still has a payphone??

There was even a pay phone in the store for their patrons use! Who still has a payphone??

Two men greeted us. One was fairly old and the other was middle-aged. I’m assuming they were father and son. They were very friendly and asked where we were from. When we told them Wisconsin, they wanted to talk football and we enjoyed some banter with them for a bit. On the counter in front of them sat a bin of packaged buffalo jerky. We inquired about it and they told us that they make it themselves and that it’s the best around. We purchased $20 worth. The men then motioned to another door and told us there was another room that the kiddos might enjoy.

Here is what we saw when we entered:

Well, isn't this special?

Well, isn’t this special?

It appears that it is just another room filled with more merchandise that they are trying to peddle. Tucked away though in various corners of the room were life-size animated figures behind cages. When you put a quarter in the slot the rooms would light up, the figures would move and a recorded commentary or music would come on.

Here is an old saloon set-up:

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There was also one with a man tanning buffalo hide:

Notice the layers of dust on this guy!

Notice the layers of dust on this guy!

I think Iris is saying, "I can't believe we paid a quarter to see this!"

I think Iris is saying, “I can’t believe we paid a quarter to see this!”

And then we found the icing on the cake:

This one played creepy music and the gorilla's eyes lit up red.

This one played creepy music and the gorilla’s eyes lit up red.

The gorilla guy is quite possibly one of the freakiest things I have ever seen. I also think he scarred my children for life. Notice the looks on their faces while they are watching him:

Cesar is thinking, "No 2 year old should be subjected to something this scary."

Cesar is thinking, “No 2 year old should be subjected to something this scary.”

Bency is saying, "I am going to have nightmares the rest of my life."

Bency is saying, “I am going to have nightmares the rest of my life.”

It’s safe to say that Buffalo Ridge General Store is like nothing I have ever experienced. It will be a memory I will carry with me until my dying day. It’s not just due to the bizarre, off the wall nature of the store itself either. It’s because 3 hours down the road, my husband asked me to crack open that bag of buffalo jerky I purchased so he could give it a try. As I began to search the car I realized I didn’t have it. I must have set it down to put a quarter in one of those crazy animated shows and forgot it. My husband will never let me live that one down.

The buffalo pasture adjacent to the store.

The buffalo pasture adjacent to the store.

Duct Tape for My Heart

As you may know, my middle son, Bency is a rip tail peeler (other people use that term to describe mischievous children right…or is it just my family?).

Bency's Kindergarten picture

Bency’s Kindergarten picture

He is the epitome of what this blog is about…finding the humor in parenting or else you would probably cry.

People often talk about the amount of money it costs to raise a child. Diapering, clothes, food and college tuition are a few items that are often mentioned but I never saw anyone mention the BREAKAGE or the LOSS.

Perhaps it’s because they never parented a Bency.

For Heavens to Betsy (or in this case, Bency) I have never seen so many things broken and lost this year. He started off this Kindergarten year armed with new clothes, shoes, backpack, lunchbox etc. Guess how many of those things made it through the year. None I tell you.

Well, actually, the backpack did make it through only because I duct taped it all over after it got ripped in many places.

this back pack is all duct taped up now!

this back pack is all duct taped up now!

He broke 3 lunch boxes, put holes in every pair of pants, broke the soles off of shoes and has lost 2 water bottles. He also lost several articles of winter apparel and was reduced to wearing two different mittens at the end of March.

Also in Kindergarten you have rest time which requires a rest mat that basically consists of foam that is covered in a nylon fabric. Guess who managed to break their rest mat and have it sent home several times. I refused to go buy a new one so I just kept duct taping up all of the holes where the foam was falling out. With 3 days left to go in the school year he is basically just sleeping on one big pile of duct tape!

Yesterday I sent Bency to school with an umbrella that has only been used 3 times. It came home broken because he said he tried to chop down a tree with it.

I don't think I can fix this with duct tape

I don’t think I can fix this with duct tape

He is a bundle of energy and is always racing through the house and being loud. The other day after a particularly rambunctious episode that left me feeling weary I told him to go sit down on the chair and not make a sound.

He replied with, “Okay mama, but please don’t get mad if I breathe. Sometimes it makes sounds when you breathe and you know we all need to breathe to stay alive.”

I sighed and answered with, “Yes, Bency. You can breathe. I would never get mad at you for breathing.”

And then I walked out of the room and chuckled.

There is something about that boy that makes me want to pull my hair out and laugh all at the same time.

We are about to embark on the celebration of his birthday this weekend. I expect him to break one more thing. My heart. It breaks my heart to see that boy grow older and there is no amount of duct tape to fix that.

Do I look like a rip tail peeler?

Do I look like a rip tail peeler?

Happy 6th Birthday Bency!

I Go Out Walking After Midnight, Out in the Moonlight

Some of you may have recognized my title from the Patsy Cline song, “Walking After Midnight.” However, this story has nothing to do with Patsy Cline even though I am a huge fan of hers. It is actually about an event that took place last week at our house.

If this event had turned out differently; there is a good chance that I would still be sitting in the fetal position, rocking back and forth and muttering incoherent sentences somewhere.

I’ve mentioned before in the story You Can Sleep With Me Forever that my 5 year old son, Bency, has sneaked into my husband and I’s bed almost every night of his life. On the nights that this doesn’t happen, he sleepwalks, and we find him somewhere else other than his bed.

Most of the locations are pretty tame:

the living room floor

the living room floor

his bedroom floor

his bedroom floor

or a living room chair

or a living room chair

However, there was the time that we almost called the police. One night as my husband and I were getting ready to go to bed, I looked in Bency’s room. He was not there! We began searching the house for him everywhere. We looked in every room, every closet and under the beds. No Bency! As I was starting to come unglued I happened to look in the attic playroom and lo and behold there was Bency fast asleep.

sleeping in the attic

sleeping in the attic

We have also had a few instances where Bency has sleepwalked downstairs while my husband and I are still awake watching television. Bency has walked into the living room, pulled down his pants and has come close to peeing on a chair. Thanks to my husband and I’s quick reaction times we have been able to escort him into the bathroom, wake him up enough that he is able to use the toilet. Bency has never had any recollection of any of these occurrences happening!

Now onto my story of what happened last week. My husband and I were in the living room watching television. The kids had been in bed for a few hours. All of a sudden we heard footsteps coming down the stairs that we assumed had to be Bency. Instead of the footsteps entering the living room they went the other direction in the house and we heard the basement door open. My husband and I each shot each other a quizzical glance and quickly got up and bounded to the basement door. When we looked downstairs we saw Bency standing at the bottom of the stairs looking around in a daze.

We asked him what he was doing and he answered with, “Oh nothing, just going to go to the bathroom.”

We responded with, “No, No Buddy. You’re in the basement. There’s no bathroom down there. Come back upstairs and we’ll help you into the bathroom.”

So Bency gingerly made his way back up the stairs and my husband helped him into the bathroom.

But what happened next will explain why if we hadn’t found him right away and ushered him into the bathroom would have caused me some serious cleaning and possibly mental toil.

Bency had explosive diarrhea.

In unrelated news. I finally finished my children’s book yesterday! I sent it off to be made up and it will be shipped to me soon. If everything looks good, I will be holding a giveaway on my blog’s 1 year anniversary July 6th! Here’s a sneak peak of the cover:

the cover of my book, What's in the Bucket?

the cover of my book, What’s in the Bucket?

 

Every Moment in Time

I take an obscene amount of photos every month. I whip out my camera almost every day to capture something special, something I deem cute, something that makes my heart sing.

Cesar enjoying swinging

Cesar enjoying swinging

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Taken the other day at the park

Taken the other day at the park

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I often ask myself, “Self, is it really necessary that you take hundreds of photos every month? Do you really need to capture every moment?’

The resounding answer is always, “Yes. Yes it is important to me. For every one of these great moments there are an equal number of not so great moments. During those times I can reflect on those incredible instances. I can look at those photos. I can think about those memories. I can trust in the knowledge that this too shall pass and just over the ridge there will be another moment that will make my heart sing!

Let's face it, life has plenty of these moments too!

Let’s face it, life has plenty of these moments too!

 

 

 

Someday This Will Be a Law

Have you ever heard about some of the ridiculous laws that some states have?

Take for instance, in Alabama you may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time or play Dominoes on Sunday.

In Billings, Montana no person shall raise pet rats.

Do not try to put a coin in your ear in Hawaii because yes, you guessed it, it’s against the law!

I'm sure in some states it's against the law to play hopscotch in rain boots and no pants!

I’m sure in some states it’s against the law to play hopscotch in rain boots and no pants!

There are hundreds more equally strange laws in different cities and states across the country and I found myself thinking about them the other day when the kids and I were driving down the street.

As we were driving, my 5 year old son, Bency, asks, “Mom, is it against the law to drive backwards down the street?”

I immediately said, “Yes! Well, ummmm…..I think so. Well, I don’t know. If it isn’t a law, it should be.”

I tried looking up the answer to this burning question but have yet been able to draw a definite conclusion if this is in fact a law. However, you can bet your patootie that when Bency reaches driving age I will be constantly monitoring him because if anyone would try to drive backwards down the street, it would be Bency.

I'm sure Bency is trying to figure out how to put this car in reverse!

I’m sure Bency is trying to figure out how to put this car in reverse!

This also brings me to another burning question. How in the world do these strange laws get enacted?

I’m taking a wild stab in the dark here but if I had to guess based off the examples of weird laws I gave above; I would be willing to venture they all have a fed up mother behind them.

If I had the ability and drive to put a new law into place I certainly have a few in mind.

I have a feeling this might be against the law!

I have a feeling this might be against the law!

My most recent annoyance has been stickers. You know those big stickers that people hand out to kids at stores, doctor’s offices, fairs etc. The ones that are encouraged to be put on your child’s shirt as soon as they receive them. Yes, those little gifts of kindness that my children enjoy receiving are one of my biggest pet peeves.

Why you ask? How could a simple sticker be the bane of my existence? Well, the problem with these stickers is that we forget about them and the clothes go through the wash with these stickers still adhered. After we pull them out of the dryer the sticky substance is still there in a perfect rectangle with bits of the paper still remaining. I either have to deem these clothes as a lost cause or sit for hours trying to get it off. Just this past weekend I pulled out my favorite sweatshirt and there on the front was a sticky patch left over from one of the kids putting their sticker on me!

I’ve had enough of stickers and am ready to march down to City Hall and fight the fight. I want the production and doling out of all stickers to cease.

I want it to be a law!

Look closely at Bency's shirt...yep, it's one of those stickers!!

Look closely at Bency’s shirt…yep, it’s one of those stickers!!

 

All of Their Belongings Fit Into a Volkswagen Beetle

Have you ever found yourself wondering how different expressions come about? Take for instance the phrase, “Bite the bullet.” People often use this expression when they are referring to taking a chance on something. This expression came about due to a dangerous army practice in the 1850’s. Prior to using their rifles, soldiers had to bite off the head of the cartridge to expose the explosive to the spark which would ignite it. This was extremely dangerous and needed courage and firmness to pull it off.

In our family we have many expressions. Many of them are originals. I owe this fact to a particular reason.

They came about because my mother and father have been together for a long time. They are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary today. They got married young, came from the same area and know all of the same people. They have many inside jokes.

For instance, when the house gets a little messy one of my parents will say, “It’s starting to look like the Coggins around here.”

Apparently, a family that they both knew from their childhood days were not very good housekeepers. I have no idea who the Coggins are, but seeing that I have heard this expression over 5000 times in my life you better believe that when things are getting a little out of control in the upkeep of our household I say, “It’s staring to look like the Coggins around here.”

I am determined to keep this expression alive, along with many more.

My parents started from meager beginnings. They started out their life living above my grandparent’s general store. They soon moved into their own apartment with their new baby. My Dad went to college and worked full-time. My Mom worked as a nurse and took care of my sister. When my Dad graduated from college he received a job offer 3 hours away, working for the State of Wisconsin designing roads and bridges.

My parents say they moved themselves, my sister and all of their belongings across the state in a Volkswagen Beetle and that included a rubber tree plant.

My Dad always brings up this fact whenever my mom brings home a new piece of dilapidated furniture she recovered from the thrift store to refurbish. He then adds, “Now we would need two semi-trailers” which my mother likes to retort with, “Well, if we didn’t have that stupid treadmill in the basement collecting dust we would have more room.”

They’ve added more than just belongings in the past 50 years too. They added 2 more children, 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren with one more due any day. Plus many memories….many, many memories.

If you ask them how they managed to stay together so long their answer would be because they are best friends and they know that no one else would put up with them.

However, I do know one other key element that is part of the longevity of their marriage.

Whenever my Mom gets angry with my Dad and yells something along the lines of, “Gosh darn you (insert my Dad’s full name here), why on earth would leave grape jelly blobs on the counter? Why can’t you just wipe them up gosh darn it?”

My Dad busts out in a baritone version of Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” song.

Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Dad!

I’m so glad you “bit the bullet” and got married and stuck it out all of these years!

Mom & Dad's Wedding Day

Mom & Dad’s Wedding Day

Memories, Like the Corners of my Mind

Memories,

Like the corners of my mind

Misty water-colored memories….

It has been brought to my attention by my mom that my memories and some of the things that I recount here on my blog aren’t always factual when it comes to my childhood.

Remember when I said that my older sister gave me a home perm when I was a kid? Well, it was actually my mom that gave me the perm. My mom has finally figured out how to comment on WordPress so now if I get some facts wrong she will kindly set the record straight. Also, my aunt pointed out the other day that my Grandma didn’t eavesdrop too much on the party line. My dad may have exaggerated a bit that it was often.

The point that I’m trying to make is that everyone’s memory of a situation is different…especially when it comes to a kid’s memory.

Someday, I want my children to read this blog and see all the wonderful and not so wonderful memories of their life and their family’s history.

So today I am writing this post for my 5 year old son Bency.

When Bency was 3 years old he tackled his then 5 year old sister, Iris, on the recliner in the living room. She immediately began screaming, “Get off of me, you’re hurting me! Get him off of me…he’s hurting me!”

I was sitting on the couch adjacent to the scene and my husband was sitting at the computer desk next to them. After we both asked Bency to get off of his sister and he made no motion to discontinue his jumping on his sister, my husband reached over and pulled Bency off of her.

We heard a pop.

Both my husband and I looked at each other with wide eyes and then Bency let out a blood curdling scream.

Bency began holding his elbow and continued to scream at the top of his lungs. We instantly knew that something was seriously wrong so without a second thought we scooped him up and we all raced to the doctor’s office 5 minutes away.

Once inside the clinic, they immediately ushered us back to the examining room and the doctor came in within minutes as Bency laid in my lap still crying softly. He briefly felt Bency’s arm and elbow and then looked at me and said, “This will only take a second but hold him tight and expect a pop and a scream.” The doctor quickly pushed and turned and within seconds we heard the pop and Bency let out a yelp. Bency cried for a few more seconds and then we asked him if his arm still hurt. He thought about it for a moment and then answered, “no” and proceeded to hop off of my lap and start jumping around.

The doctor then explained that this is a common occurrence in children between the ages of 1-3 years old and is often called nursemaid’s elbow. It happens because the ligaments in that area haven’t fully developed at that age. You have to be extremely careful not to pull a child by their elbow. There is however no permanent damage done and it just pops back into place.

We breathed a sigh of relief and after spending a mere 15 minutes at the doctor’s office we left with a happy boy.

Over the last few years we have brought the story up occasionally because it was slightly horrific at the time. Also, Iris was 5 years old and remembers it quite vividly so she has told her brother that his elbow popped out of his socket. Bency, however , obviously doesn’t remember the situation at all.

The reason I believe this is because last summer Bency said, “Mom, do you remember the time my elbow popped out of my socket and blood started spewing all over? There was blood flying everywhere and my bones were poking out and you were trying to get my bones back into my body?”

I immediately sat Bency down and told him the whole story and assured him there was no blood involved and no bones were poking out of his body. I went over it a few times to make sure he fully understood. I was certain I had set the record straight.

A month ago at the dinner table Bency said, “Remember the time my elbow came out of my arm and all of my skin started melting off of me and all of my fingernails fell off? It was so terrible. The skin was literally just peeling off of me. And bones just started falling out of my body and blood was just dripping everywhere.”

I let out an exasperated sigh and once again found myself telling Bency the whole story all over again. Step by step. Every detail. I once again reiterated that there was no blood involved. No skin peeling or melting off. No bones protruding or falling out. Not one fingernail fell off.

So Bency, this one is for you. This is the real story. Please don’t tell people “your version”!!

Can you believe my bones were falling out and blood was everywhere and my skin was melting off??

Can you believe my bones were falling out and blood was everywhere and my skin was melting off??

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Welcome to the Party Line

Two longs and one short. One short and one long.

These were my parent’s phone numbers back in the 1940’s and 50’s. They both lived in rural Wisconsin and were on party lines. Back then several houses would be connected by one phone wire. Each house was given a different ring for their crank phones. When you heard your particular ring you knew to pick up the phone because someone was trying to reach you.

old crank phone

old crank phone

The disadvantage to this system is that everyone on your circuit could listen in on your conversations.

The advantage to this system is that you could listen in on everyone’s conversations!

I love when my Dad tells me the story about his mom (my Grandma) and the party line.

You see, my grandma was a sweet, soft-spoken lady. She was a farmer’s wife living in a house with no running water and no television. She worked hard raising her four children, tending to the garden and taking care of the chickens. She couldn’t drive a car. The one time my Grandpa did try to teach her, things didn’t go so well, so she refused to try again. Therefore, she only made it into town every few weeks when my Grandpa drove her.

My Dad tells me that many times he would walk into the kitchen and there would be Grandma with the phone to her ear. She would be perched on her chair sitting still as a mouse and listening intently. She would shoot my Dad the “look” and put her finger to her lips to ensure his silence. My Dad knew the drill and would mosey on his way.

I had never heard about this until she passed away some years back. The thought of my dear old Grandma Freda eavesdropping just puts me in stitches. The grandma I remember was always full of news. She would update us on everyone in the family and tell us the goings on in the town. She wasn’t a gossip…just an informer of all the important tidbits!

I think back to that woman who was around the age I am now, listening in on the party line. In all likelihood I may have very well done the same thing.

In a way, I do listen in on the party line. In a way, we all listen in on the party line.

I think it’s human nature to want to know what other people are doing and how they are. It’s interesting to see how other people live. It’s nice to have connections with others and to learn from other people’s experiences.

If this wasn’t true then Facebook, Twitter and blogging wouldn’t be so popular.

Our whole life is submerged into one big party line. The only difference nowadays is you can hit a “like” button or leave a comment and let the person know you’ve been by to catch up on all the juicy news! There is no need to sit in silence or shush the children!

Grandma Freda in 1942 with two of her children. My dad is the baby on her lap.

Grandma Freda in 1942 with two of her children. My dad is the baby on her lap.

Reading Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

My soon to be 8 year old daughter, Iris came home complaining last week that she couldn’t see the board at school. They recently got one of those new fan dangled Smart Boards in her classroom that is basically a huge computer hanging on the wall. I’m sure it’s wonderful but I am a little sad that my children will never experience the daily chore of clapping erasers at the end of the day and being lost in a cloud of dust as they sputter and choke to get the erasers ready for another day of learning.

I made Iris an eye appointment for the next day that was scheduled directly after school.

I picked Iris and my 5 year old son, Bency, up from school and along with my 2 year old, Cesar, we headed off to the optometrist. As soon as we arrived I could already smell trouble. For one thing, there is not really a waiting area. There were only two chairs in the corner amidst all the racks and racks of sample eyewear. There was one little basket of magazines and nothing else for two little boys to occupy themselves with.

I encouraged each boy to pick out a magazine and plop themselves on the chairs while Iris and I strolled around looking at the various options for glasses. Cesar chose an issue of Birds and Blooms while Bency began perusing the latest copy of Good Housekeeping.

I obviously should have brought books from home!

I obviously should have brought books from home!

Problems started to arise as the wait went on forever. The boys tired of reading about the newest bird feeders on the market and cleaning tips on how to remove lime scale from your bathtub. They started in on impromptu games of leap frog and seeing who could conceal themselves in the tiny basket of magazines. I tried my best to keep them under control but even when they were still they would make silly faces at each other and erupt into fits of laughter.

I soon glanced over my shoulder and noticed the lady doctor drinking in this chaos with a disapproving look on her face. She beckoned for us to come back to the room but did so with an eye roll and a huff. I asked Iris if she wanted to go in by herself but she adamantly shook her head “no” and really I couldn’t blame her for not wanting to be left alone in a room with a lady with such a sour look on her face. As we entered the room the doctor flippantly told Iris to sit in the examining chair and said, “I guess the rest of you can find somewhere to sit over there” as she motioned to the one chair against the wall and spoke in a tone that was laden with rudeness.

Bency and I made our way over to the one chair while Cesar made a beeline for the doctor’s swivel chair. I immediately began to tell Cesar that he had to come by me but the doctor interrupted with shouting at my poor 2 year old exclaiming, “This is my chair! No one sits on here but me!” At this point I wanted to get up and leave because there is nothing that gets my goat more than someone yelling at my child when I am already trying to remedy a situation. Somehow I managed to hold my tongue and the eye exam proceeded.

The doctor asked Iris a few questions and then asked her to read the eye chart on the wall ahead. Before Iris could get a letter out my 2 year old, Cesar began reciting the letters in a sing-song voice, “E-R-V-B-S-U-W-A-T.”

Needless to say, this sent the doctor into dramatic sighs, huffs and under the breath muttering as she made it clear that Cesar had ruined everything and she would need to push a button to change to a different chart.

After what I am sure was a streamlined short exam the doctor made the diagnosis that Iris has weakened her eyes by too much reading. She has perfect eyesight but apparently since her nose is always in a book it causes her eyes not to be able to focus on things faraway.

She sent us away with a prescription that Iris has to wear glasses while reading and after a sigh of relief she said, “Good bye you monkeys!”

I made a silly face and the boys and I burst into fits of laughter as we leap-frogged our way out of there!

Iris with her new glasses!

Iris with her new glasses!