costumes goodness kids past summers travel

Happiness Is a Red Negligee


Two summers ago, we entered a merciful holding pattern…


For nobody got on an airplane.

And nobody died.

Nobody sprang a mutated version of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” evening on us.

Instead, we took a quick trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, meeting my sister there for a few days before she left for two years in Guatemala. We ate some bagels; we visited the Children’s Museum; we played Go Fish.

It was good. It was easy.

And the rest of the summer? Unfettered by huge life moments, we simply enjoyed Life’s Rich Pageant.

Rare photographic evidence of the Tooth Fairy.

Need. Just. One. More. Juice. Box. To. Push. Past. Stage. Fright.

Luigi’s been tossing pies for sixty years.
He makes homemade tortillas.
He scrapes paint off woodwork.
He fixes the dehumidifier.
He cheers like a big ole white boy (check out the overbite).
That’s the spoon we whack her with.
Er…: with which we whack her.
‘Cause we’re all about the corporal punishment.
And you can tell she’s a real handful.


Yes, he ate that donut with using the hook.

Then he put on his Buzz Lightyear helmut and went to infinity.
And beyond.


Is it possible for the father to be a chip off the son’s block?
A 4 for technique.

But a 10 for artistry and expression.


He’s painting the words “Die, Evil Spawn” on the

back of her neck with the ends of her wet ponytail.


Once he starts school, Wee Niblet and the principal will be on a first-name basis, ja?

Dear Glamourpuss, my boy wants to make the cut for your Well-Dressed Wednesday posts. It’s about attitude, confidence, and panache more than anything, right?

You think that’s paint?
It’s a puddle of pastel vomit.


One time she cleans her room.

One time.

Buzz and Niblet plot Mrs. Potato Head’s early demise.

Run, MPH! Run as fast as your spindley tater legs can tote your bulk! Run ’til you feel fried!

Under the guise of “working in the garden,” Groom and Girl shoot craps.

He wins away her allowance with nary a qualm. Then he spends it on booze.

Michael Kors makes hats out of paper plates, too.

Remember his Strawberry Shortcake line of 1999?

And that’s the bat we whack her with when she doesn’t clean her room.

Er, with which we whack her. Damn prepositions. They sure are something that’s difficult to put up with.

Crap. I mean, of course, up with which to put.

You know you sleep nekkid.

But have you tried Nekkid Wid Diaper?

Once you have, you’ll never go back.

After this, he put new brake pads on the min-van.

If he wants to stay, he needs to make himself useful and earn his keep. What? Does he think Little Debbie Zebra Cakes grow on trees?

Even if they’re in front of the tv, so long as they’re touching, it counts as a family dinner, right?

The thing about Lake Superior is that it needs more rocks in it.

Just as soon as he finds his glass slipper, he fully intends to suck your blood.

She’s got his glass slipper right there, in that purse.

Behind that impish grin lurks the smile of a diobolical genius.

It’s been two years now, and she STILL hasn’t told him she’s got it.

He looks and looks, every day, calling out, “Oh, glass slipper? Where are you?”

She never says a word.

And if he does ever find out, like he could catch her up there?

And in that bag on the front of the scooter?

She has Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

Not on the tail of the international shoe thief,

it’s Detective Dragon Dude.

The slipper thief serves out her jail time mid-air.

After her release, she intimates that true reform may still be a speck on the horizon.

Meanwhile, back at the clubhouse, Dr. Hypo gives shots of his legendary truth serum.

Then we took off the costumes and went to the creek.

We live by Seven Bridges Road.

This is the 7th bridge.

I know.

I know.

The whole notion makes me “ooooh” too at the very luck and magic of it all. I mean, if they’d stopped with the sixth bridge, that would have just been dumb. Who builds SIX bridges?

Oh, and we resided our 1930’s garage, too.


Thus, the dog days of the summer of 2005 passed in blessed normalcy. The kids’ personalities took shape even more; we rested; we ate a lot of beets from our garden; we made some pesto.

All was infinitely right with the world.

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kids scatological talk writing

“Poop Across the Genders”

I just couldn’t get a good photo here of what I want to show you. What you need to know is that this is a page from one of Girl’s “fast word” books from the past school year (first grade), wherein she was to practice writing certain words of the week by placing them into context and creating her own sentences. For example, if a word of the week was milk, she had to write, “Kee-rist, do I hate the milk of all hooved beasts,” or something equally precocious, in her little book.

What you can’t so much see in this photo is that her third-to-last sentence makes me retract my previous assertion that mostly it’s the little boys who are scatalogical. I know, I know, so many of you tried to set me straight, but now I’m convinced that little girls love da poop, too, although they are more metaphorical about it.

“So what did she write on this faintly-chicken-scratched page?” you ask. You poor, blind sod; I can help.

For her beloved teacher, Mrs. Anderson, our Girl composed the sentence: “I like his sh!t.”

What’s even more troubling about this is that Mrs. Anderson then reviewed the page and quite specifically put a purple smiley face above the sentence in question. Could it be that Mrs. Anderson likes his sh!t, too?

I had no idea.

And who is he?

And what’s so special about his particular junk?

Obviously, the sentiment in this sentence came about due to the acceptance of, even urging for, emerging writers to use creative spelling, and Girl, not so fond of the letter “r,” wrote sh!t instead of “shirt.”

But in my leetle head, I like to think of her uttering this sentence when she’s 14 and is scoping out her latest crush (he’s got sloppily-long brown hair and is playing air guitar at the end of the corridor) while leaning against her locker and gossiping with her best friends, LeeAnn and Trinity. They’ve just asked Girl why she has the hots for this guy–you know, Chess Club president Walter Schlinkman.

The Girl’s answer will be simple and succinct, drawing upon a memory from first grade:

“I like his sh!t.”

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adoption bunny kids Superior Hiking Trail

Family Expansion

“Family Expansion”

When Groom and I met, started the love groove, and launched into the Plan Making phase of our relationship, we had the whole “So, uh, you want kids or what?” talk. Since I knew I wanted have kids, and since I was irretrievably snagged by this guy, I got to do a big, dramatic “WHEWWW” and wipe sweat off my brown when The Groom replied, “Yea, I do. Just not this year.”

Since this talk took place on our second date, his statement was all good.

Four months later, I was pregnant (woops). Technically, however, we didn’t greet our Girl during that first year together. Nay, she didn’t emerge until a year plus three weeks.

During our initial kid talk, outside of setting a timeline of sorts, Groom also mentioned that he thought two kids would be a good number. On the other hand, I’d always thought three kids would be just about right (the fact that I’m a third child who sprinkled diamonds of sunlit joy onto my parents’ lives had nothing to do with it, either. I just, um, like the number three). A truce was struck with the words: “How about we take it one kid at a time?” Everything was all, all, all so very good.

And then I got knocked up, popped out Girl, nursed a lot, took a bit longer to get pregnant with Niblet (had to stop the damn nursing of Girl–who knew Da Milkies would work as Contraception for This Particular Redhead?), and then…

Well, and then I was really, really tired. Two? I could dig it as the magic number.

Of course, I can’t say that decision to stop expanding our family has gone unquestioned. Groom is completely set with our two. He’s all logical and rational and thinks it’s fine that we’ve essentially replaced ourselves, body count-wise. My gods, though, are Whimsy and Speculation–and they often, in the last few years, have sent me off to chase notions of babies unborn. I have often found myself caught in spirals of “what if” and “maybe we should just…”

But ultimately, over the deafening noise of my last few eggs shriveling up into sandstone fossils, I realized that I have only batted about the idea of a third child because I would want to know him/her as a 25-year-old. I’m not actually all that interested in the sleepless nights for three more years, in tripping over rattle-y keys on the floor, in putting in the sweat and tears required by everything leading up to Age 25.

Thus, we’re done with the whole procreation thing, Groom and me. Realistically, two kids pretty much tap us out, in terms of time, money, and energy; plus, we got two good ones, and since every new kid is a wide open crapshoot, we’re going to sit tight with these two and call it a day.

But still.

I do get the internal call sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I have space in my heart for another child…just not of my loins. And realistically, I’d need a child that could prosper from benign neglect.

Adoption seemed the answer.

So, last year–and most of you don’t know this yet–Groom and I adopted a third.

We did the paperwork. We went through the homestudies.

And eventually, we adopted “The Keene Creek Section of the Superior Hiking Trail.” I know it’s a long moniker, but it’s the only name the thing will answer to. For ease, you can just call it Baby. (that’s BAY-BEE)

The good news is that our 3.2 mile long Baby only needs attention periodically, for help with cleaning up, fighting natural erosion (much as I do with my home micro-derm kit), and a little chainsaw work. And, honestly, hasn’t every parent, at one point or another, wanted to take a chainsaw to his/her kid?

So a couple times a year, we shore up our little patch of trail, drop off a big blue stuffed bunny, and take the kids in for some bonding time with Baby. It’s all been very low key.

Woefully, Baby had a little tantrum last week, during the big wind storm. Yup, Baby got a little messed up. So Mommy J and Daddy Groom had to march in the other day and straighten the li’l tyke out.

Groom removes a splinter from Baby’s side.

Baby has brought some needed diversity to our family, as well, for she’s an Urban girl, running through the heart of Duluth. Just being around her broadens our horizons beyond our usual Quiet Whitey World. Look what she’s done with her blocks and fingerpaints:

Cootchie-Coo, Baby. You make Mama sooooo proud.

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