I’m still alive

I’m still alive, in case you were wondering. The man cold hasn’t killed me yet.  Boy8 and Boy11 have been making me toast and caressing my brow and saying, “Poor little bunny,” throughout the day.

Boy8 asked me what I used to do when I got sick and they were babies.  Thinking back I remember having woman colds back then.  I’d manage to tend to them while being sick at the same time.  I told him, “Well, one always takes care of the babies, so I would take care of you no matter how bad I felt.”

Thank goodness those days are over!  Man colds are way better than woman colds.  Bring on more toast and poor little bunny carresses!  Of course, when I’m done suffering through my man cold I’ll add a home ec class to homeschool so I can teach the kids how to cook my favorite meals for the next time I’m stricken with a man cold.  A woman cannot live on toast alone. A little Tuna Helper is welcome from time to time.

I Have A Man Cold

I have a Man Cold*, people.  A Man Cold!  Ahhhh!

I’ve never understood those women who talk about how their husbands become big babies when they’re sick.  When Darling Husband is sick he still goes out and shovels snow and mows lawns and irons clothes and basically never stops and won’t let me play nurse.  I’ve given up.  Now when he’s sick I just sort of wave my hand in his general direction and say, “What, sick?  Do you need some aspirin or something?” and leave him be.

But me?  When I’m sick?  The world stops.  It’s into the bed for long naps, it’s balled up tissues littering the floor, it’s bottles of cough syrup and bags vitamin C drops on tv trays, it’s whimpering and looking for sympathy and letting my voice crack when I try to speak.  I was going to take a picture to show you how miserable I look but that would involve standing up and pressing a button.  It’s just all too much.  Blech.

Darling Husband and Boy11 have been coughing for 5 weeks straight now. They’re getting a little better. Boy11 can shift positions on the couch without going into a coughing fit.  Now he only coughs if he bounces through the house.  He certainly hasn’t been to his karate class in 3 or 4 weeks.  Running around like that would set off an embarrassing coughing fit.  I’ve honestly been a little nervous that maybe the karate people would call some sort of child protection agency to tell them I was hiding my child.

For the past few weeks I’ve been leaving Boy11 at home when I drop off Boy8 at the karate studio so he doesn’t have to breathe in the cold air. But since he’s getting better today I took him with me to drop off Boy8 and then Boy11 and I ran some local errands.  After the errands we arrived at the karate place and the karate instructor saw Boy11 through the big window and came out to greet us.  He had a confused look on his face.  At first I wasn’t sure if his confused face was because Boy11 was actually there, or if it was because Boy11 was wearing his fez. Yes, fez.  It’s a Doctor Who thing.  Boy8 wears his cool fedora everywhere he goes and Boy11 wears…the fez.  Sigh.  It’s a darn good thing he’s homeschooled or he’d get beaten up after school, I know.

Anyway, the karate instructor comes out, glances at the fez, and says, “Boy11!  We wondered where you were!  I thought your parents might have sold you for some extra cash.”


Hang on.  I just remembered that Boy8 ordered himself some bowties.  They should arrive any day now.   It’s a Doctor Who thing as well.  I guess they’re both equally nerdy.  A fez and bowties. Hey, what’d you expect with parents like Darling Husband and me?   They’re doomed, poor dears.

And now I need to go lie down and watch some TV.  I’m almost at the end of Breaking Bad** and realized that Netflix doesn’t have the last 8 episodes.  Ugh.  And when I’m sick, too.  What a world, what a world (yo)…


*After I finished writing this I looked up the link to Man Cold.  Hilarious!  That’s exactly how I am when I’m sick.  It’s uncanny.  Do you see all those tissues around the guy and the stuff on the coffee table in front of him?  That’s me right now so you don’t even need a picture to know what I look like.  Yes, when I’m sick I look like an overweight British guy.

**Speaking of selling people, I’m on the episode where Jesse thought that Gus was selling him to the cartel.

Cool fedora below.  We didn’t take pictorial evidence of the fez.


Why do we have to learn this stuff? When will we ever use it?

Huge tactical error on Boy11’s part.  Huge.

Boy11’s usual grammar assignments are for him to read sentences and then diagram them.  But yesterday under the Challenge section in his grammar book he was given the assignment to compose four sentences and then diagram them.  Ok, no biggie until you get to the end of the instructions.  You must compose sentences to be diagrammed and the sentences must include…are you ready for this?  no, really…are you ready?  The sentences must include direct objects, compound indirect objects, predicate nominatives, and predicate adjectives.

Boy11 sat there miserably for our 40 minute grammar class staring at the paper and not actually doing any of the work.  This mean that he would have to do it after dinner for Homework.  Nooooooo!  Homeschoolers aren’t supposed to have homework!  What is the world coming to?  It was like Charlie Brown having to read War and Peace on his Christmas vacation. I mean, homework involving “predicate nominatives”? Was this assignment even real?  Does anyone even know what a predicate nominative even is?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Darling Husband loves grammar and loved diagramming sentences in school.  Today, when Boy11 was given the task of diagramming 14 (14!) sentences he asked Darling Husband to help him if he got stuck.  Darling Husband was delighted to be asked: he always loved diagramming after all.  There Darling Husband was, home due to a snow day and merrily ironing our air-dried wrinkled clothes, and he was asked to diagram sentences.  What a happy day!  He assured me from the next room, “I can help Boy11 diagram his sentences.”

With a concerned frown I hollered back, “Um…are you sure?  Do you remember how to diagram an indirect object?  Or a predicate nominative?”  Shifty-eyed silence from the room beyond and then, “Uh….Boy11, ask your mother for help.”

Anyway, back to yesterday’s assignment.  After dinner he managed to write the sentences and diagram them and they were mostly right  But look at what he handed in:

Sloppy work

Are you kidding me? What a mess!  As Miss Shields would say, “Margins, margins, margins–F!”

This morning I looked it over, checked the work, and then told him to re-write it, but this time to actually follow the rules of basic sentence structure, like, ahem, starting each sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a punctuation mark.  Yes, there was a touch of exasperation in my voice when I told him to re-write it following the rules.   I mean, he totally knows better.

So he re-wrote the assignment:

Neat work

Do you see how beautiful that is?  He has never, ever turned in anything this beautiful.

And that’s the tactical error.  He set the bar too high.  It’s not like I’m going to ignore this.  I am the same mother, after all, who made him write sentences with compound indirect objects in the first place.  You think I’m going to let him get away with sloppy work ever again?

Poor, poor Boy11.


Why in the world would I make Boy11 diagram sentences and learn what predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives and all the rest are?

Because one day he might want to be a history teacher in the state of New York.  In order to be a history teacher in the state of New York you have to pass a certification test.  On that test you have to read passages by our Founding Fathers and then write an essay based on the passages.  The passages are something like this:


Those are the practice passages New York gives to you.  The practice assignment is to write an essay explaining what government actions these two men would support based on the passages you read.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised at how many people who are looking to me for help on this sort of essay are completely miserable over trying to decipher these passages.  They tell me, “I tried to write my essay, but I can’t figure out what these guys are even saying.”

This type of English isn’t esasy, but if you can sort through which words are modifying which words and who or what the direct object is, you can understand these essays without too much effort.

Boy11 may never becomes a history teacher in New York or an early American historian, but the exercises are still good for his brain.  That’s why we do it.

You want to be a brain surgeon? Can you even spell brain surgeon?

News alert!  There are rules for spelling in English!  Who knew?!  It all seemed so random and inexplicable.  Well, it is random and inexplicable but not as random and inexplicable as I thought.  You can learn a lot if you go back to a 3rd grade spelling classes.

I should know.  Boy8 and I just spent about 57 hours straight on a single spelling lesson.  It was the longest spelling lesson in the history of spelling lessons and Boy8 and I are one second away from having our heads pop off from the sheer frustration of the lesson.  At least we now know why there are two p’s in apple.  Why couldn’t we have been born somewhere with a reasonable language like in Rome where they speak pig latin and you know how each word ends?  Eesh-shay.

And don’t even get me started on our piano lessons.  After 3 months of fruitlessly trying to explain to Boy8 how the lines and spaces on sheet music tell us the names of the notes, he finally told me, “Apparently I’m not a good boy, because I’m not doing fine.”

Every Good Boy Does Fine is a mnemonic to help you remember the names of the notes.  Mnemonic?  What the heck kind of spelling is mnemonic??  Oh, save me from the spelling lesson where we learn how to spell mnemonic.  And when did I ever say I wanted to grow up and be a teacher? I don’t remember ever saying that.  How did I end up spending 7 hours every single day teaching?

Here are all the things I’ve ever wanted to be:

1.  A clerk in a dollar store.  Yes, a dollar store.  I like dollar stores.

2.  A maintenance guy, because don’t you think you’d have a lot of job satisfaction as a maintenance guy?

3.  A truck driver.  Tooting the horn.  Bullying your way into the next lane.  Sleeping in the little alcove above your seat.  What a great life.

4.  A brain surgeon.  That was a short-lived desire and I read too many novels to be a brain surgeon.  When Barbetta was getting her Nurse Practitioner degree, she didn’t read a novel for three years due to all the studying she had to do. Yuck! I could never do that. Brain surgeon is off the list.

5.  A librarian.  Ah.  A librarian.  Who doesn’t want to be a librarian?  I never understood why Clarence was so distressed when he told George, “She’s just about to close up the library!”  Sounds like Mary made out pretty well whether George lived or not.  Lucky Mary.


Here is why there are two p’s in apple:

First, let’s look at the word with one p:


If there is only one p the word is Aaaay-ple and not Aaaaaa-ple.

But why?

It has to do with syllables.

First.  Split the word aple into syllables.  Whenever a word ends with a consonant-le, the consonant-le is its own syllable.  So we know to split the word at a/ple.

Ok.  We know how to say the “-ple” part.

But the “a” left all alone is an open syllable.  There is no consonant closing it–the vowel just dangles there.  There are rules about open syllables.  A vowel in an open syllable has the long sound.  It sound like it’s name when you recite the alphabet.

Think of hotel vs hot.

In ho/tel the “ho” is an open syllable.  There is no consonant closing up the vowel, so the vowel is long.  O.

But in hot, that’s just one syllable.  Hot.  It’s a closed syllable.  There is a consonant closing up the syllable.  So, now the vowel is short.  Hot.

Same thing with aple.  A/ple.  The A is open.  It says its name.  Ay/ple.

In order to close up that syllable without changing the sound of the word, you add another P.  Ap/ple.  Now the first syllable is closed and can make the short vowel sound.

Eight-year-olds don’t follow this sort of logic very well.  They get bored and start falling off their chair and doodling on their paper.

You can see why our heads just about popped off.

No Gym Class for Homeschoolers

I didn’t get to be a gym teacher today.  Oh, rats.  I had my whistle ready by the door and was going to wear my jaunty sport clothes and everything.  I might even have put my hair in a pony tail.

I was supposed to teach gym at the homeschool co-op today, but those homeschoolers have an aversion to leaving the house to go to school, and they decided to cancel the entire co-op.  It was just a little freezing rain, people!  No need to stay snug in bed until 8 and then eat a lovely breakfast of cream of wheat instead of scraping an inch of ice off the windows and sliding down the road….wait.  Today sounds like the perfect day to stay snug in bed until 8 eating cream of wheat for breakfast!  Those homeschoolers are genius!

And we need a gym class.  The kids needed to learn a few of the basics.  Last year when we started the class the gym teacher had the kids count off 1, 2, 1, 2, etc. and then told all the 1s to go here and the 2s to go there.  The kids were all confused and ended up in a big jumble.  Most of them forgot their numbers.  They didn’t know who was supposed to go where.  There were 40 kids on one team and 10 on the other.  Guess counting off to make teams isn’t something we’re born knowing, like knowing how to build a nest or knowing how to swim upriver to our spawning place.

Sometimes people ask homeschoolers odd little questions like, “But if you homeschool, how will your kids know how to stand in line?”  Yes, that’s a real question people love to ask.  Homeschoolers are a little baffled by this question, but I suppose they mean, “How will they learn the self-control to stand still facing one direction without dancing about or shoving the people around them?”

Eh.  I think that they’ll figure it out when they’re kicked out of the DMV for dancing about and shoving people.  If that happens to you even one time, you’ve got that lesson down pat.  No need for 12 years of standing in line to learn that one.  Lesson learned in a single day!

Just today, after Boy8 was totally irritating the heck out of Boy11, I told them, “You know, homeschoolers get asked this question a LOT:  ‘But if you don’t send your children to school, how will they learn to deal with difficult people?'”

Boy11 gave a loud snort and knocked his brother off the couch.  I guess that’s how.

Ok, I have no idea where this post is going.  I’m mostly making things up now, so I need to stop.  I’m heading out (in the freezing rain) to my 4th celebratory birthday dinner out.  Birthdays are great.  Everyone should have one at least once a year.

Nibbled to Death by Coughs

A true story:

Once upon a time there was a little girl.  She didn’t have any brothers or sisters.  Her father worked shift work.  It rotated: for two weeks he worked all day; for two weeks he worked all night.  After working all night he would come home, put a thick blanket over the window, and sleep all day long.

During the weeks when her father was sleeping all day, 26 of them every year, the little girl had to stay very, very quiet in the house.  She learned how to play quiet games like Traffic Jam where all her little matchbox cars would be lined up in a row and silently move forward an inch at a time.  She learned to doodle with smooth ball point pens, never scratchy pencils.  She learned to walk noiselessly and never snapped any twigs in the hallway when stalking prey.  She read many, many books.

She grew to love the silence of the house.

At that same time there was a different little girl.  Her babyhood was one of quiet happiness.  And then a little sister came along.  Then a brother.  Another brother.  Another sister.  Another sister.  Another brother and a last sister.  Her life stayed happy, but was never again quiet.

Babies cried, toddlers tantrumed, mothers hollered, brothers shouted.  Though she was the oldest of all the children, she stopped growing earlier than the others and ended up being the smallest.  In order to keep her younger brothers and sisters in line she had to learn to speak her mind.  She had to be bold.  She had to be LOUD.

She grew to love the noise of her home.

When the two little girls grew up they became acquaintances.  One day they met at a bowling alley where their children were bowling with a group.  The alley had just opened for the day and the group was the only one there.  There was the smell of stale cardboard pizza, the sight of the faded neon carpet, and the sounds of children laughing and talking and balls rolling and pins falling.

Twenty minutes after the group arrived, the bowling alley owner turned on the music.  Loud music, so that it could be heard over the laughing and talking and rolling and falling.

The quiet little girl, now all grown up, frowned and turned to her loud acquaintance and murmured, “Why did they do that?  Everything was just bearable and then they had to turn on that music.  I wish they hadn’t.”

The loud little girl, now also all grown up, looked shocked and boomed, “Oh I love it!  It was too quiet in here.  I love the noise.  I was the eldest of eight.  When I moved away from home I lived in an apartment all by myself.  The silence was oppressive.  I would feel twitchy unless I had on the television and the radio at the same time.”

“Really?  When I’m alone I keep my house completely silent.  Listening to music in the house makes me twitchy.  I never use the tv for background noise and when it’s on, I keep it as low as possible and still be able to hear it.”

The two woman gave each other friendly “huh, well, waddya know” looks and went on their way—the quiet one sighing over the music and the loud one humming along.


Oh the noise!  Oh my poor little ears!  Oh the cacophony!


As happens every year, Darling Husband and Boy11 have been afflicted with Coughs since 7:52 a.m. on December 14th.  Ahhh….remember way back to December 13th when our house was peaceful and quiet?

At first they coughed just a few times here and there….and then it got worse….and worse…and worse…until the two of them were hacking away and doubled over and getting tears in their eyes from all the coughing.   Cough, cough, hack, hack…a few times every hour…a few times every half hour….every 10 minutes….every three minutes!


I haven’t been able to finish a sentence without pausing to wait for someone to stop hacking in 3 weeks.  You should have seen me trying to read to them.


The extraterrestrial peeked (pause for cough, cough, hack hack) through the louvers of the closet door.  The boy had (pause for cough, cough, hack hack) returned to bed.  The mother placed a tube in the boy’s (pause for cough, cough, hack hack) mouth and left the room.  The boy quickly held it up to the light above his bed, (pause for cough, cough, hack hack) heated the fluid within it, and placed it back in his mouth (pause for cough, cough, hack hack) as the mother returned.

The old scientist nodded. (pause for cough, cough, hack hack)  A trick known around the galaxy. *


Boy8 and I were being as patient as we could but the constant cough, cough, hack, hack wears on a person.  It was all we could do not to say, “Would you just STOP MAKING ALL THAT NOISE!?!?!”

Boy8 handled it the only way he could–by making fun it.  He’s developing quite the sense of humor and his impressions of Darling Husband coughing are hilarious.  Well, they’re hilarious to everyone except for Darling Husband.

Darling Husband is getting better, but Boy11 is still hacking away.

It doesn’t help that I started watching Breaking Bad in the middle of this whole mess.  The main character is diagnosed with lung cancer (first epiosde, I haven’t spoiled it for you) and HE COUGHS, TOO!   I just can’t get away from the coughing.  Every time the actor coughs I shake my head and think, “Lame!  That cough was lame!  If you want to hear a real cough, just head on over to my house and I’ll show you a real cough (yo.)”


* Excerpt from “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in his Adventure on Earth” a novel by William Kotzwinkle.  You probably recognize that author’s name from the very famous book “Walter, The Farting Dog” (which I also own).  With a resume like that you know he’s a good author.

But seriously, it’s a fun little book.  It’s based on the movie E.T. and does a nice job of flushing out the details.  I read it as a kid and recently bought it to read it to my kids.

(Do I need to state the obvious, that I was the quiet little girl in the story?)

Whining Averted and Getting Beaten Up By Your Friends

It’s 3 hours later.

Boy8 and I watched a bunch of America’s Funniest Videos, so I defected the Whine Session.  He’s still never happy to leave the house, but is good-naturedly resigned to going out to dinner now.

And Boy11.  Oi.  Last night he was running around in the pitch dark and lost a tiny piece to his favorite toy.  (A sonic screwdriver, from Doctor Who.)  It was THE Christmas present.  He was devastated.  His friends had no clue about the drama going on and he yelled at them for not helping him.

Yeah, it was a mess.  Boy11 was a mess.  The friends were like, “Dude, whatever.”

Boy11 apologized, but no one was interested in hearing it.  New Year’s Resolution this year–make Boy11 read “How to Make Friends and Influence People.”  I’m pretty sure yelling at your friends at a New Year’s Eve party at 11 at night is not the way to endear yourself to anyone.  I need to tell him the story of my coworker who got beat up by his beefy lacrosse playing friends in college for being mouthy.

Mike was on the slender size and all of his friends were beefy college lacrosse players.  Mike’s always been lightning quick witted and can have a cutting sense of humor if he’s not careful.

One day, he was nagging and nagging at one of his lacrosse player friends and said friend had Had Enough.  So he started beating on Mike’s face.  He had him pinned on the floor and was punch/punch/punching Mike.  It took 3 of the other lacrosse players to pull him off Mike.

Mike ended up in the ER.  He called his dad and told him what happened. “Dad! My buddy beat me up!  I’m in the ER!”

Instead of the concern and words of comfort that Mike expected to hear, his dad sighed and said, “Mike.  What did you SAY?  What did you SAY that landed you in the ER?”

I don’t want my scrawny Boy11 ending up in the ER when his beefy lacrosse playing friends have Had Enough.

Anyway, after a tearful evening for Boy11, he went back to our friend’s house this morning in the light of day and found the missing toy.

We’re supposed to arrive at dinner in about a half hour.  Guess I should get dressed.

It’s still Happy New Year!

Nobody leaves without singing the blues

Sometimes you plan your life and sometimes life plans for you.

Apparently Boy8 is destined to be a blues musician.  A few weeks ago he bought himself a fedora and he wears it everywhere.  See?


For Christmas he asked for, and received, a pocket watch.  And also for Christmas Gerhard bought him a harmonica.  Turns out Boy8 has been wanting a harmonica for quite some time.

Fedora, pocketwatch, harmonica?  The boy has a destiny, people, and I’m seeing cool blue neon lights in his future.  But we’re a musical family around here.  A few weeks ago I dyed my hair red…


…for an 80’s Murder Mystery Costume Party.  My character was April O’Neil.

Never heard of her?  Neither had I.  And neither had anyone else at the party.  Apparently she was the reporter on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon.  It took half the party just to explain to everyone who I was supposed to be.  “Oh, look!  There’s Crocodile Dundee!  And Madonna!  And Jessica Rabbit!  And…Dustylizard….um…who are you supposed to be?”

Kevin took pictures of everyone at the party.  The first is of Darling Husband in his Teen Wolf costume.


See Darling Husband’s chest hair?  Nothing like getting dressed and having your husband holler out, “Where’s my chest hair?  Has anyone seen my chest hair?! I can’t go to the party without my chest hair!”  After the party the itchy chest hair was flung in the back of the van only to be discovered days later by the boys.  “Aaaah!  What in the world is that?!  …Oh, wait.  It’s just Dad’s chest hair.”

Darling Husband was quietly amused that his character was Teen Wolf.  Teen Wolf probably didn’t have grey hair and wear bifocals.

And here I am in my April O’Neil costume wearing some ninja weapons for good measure.


Anyway, for Christmas this year I asked for, and received, an Irish Tin Whistle.  With my red hair and tin whistle and Boy8 with his fedora and harmonica, I can play some peppy Irish reels and Boy8 can play the blues and we’ll have people totally confused at our expensive sold-out concerts.


A Christmas picture for you.  This rose bush sits under an overhang outside the local library.  Water drips on it all day and then freezes encasing the buds in ice.


Is your 8 year old bored? Won’t leave you alone to rest? Read here for The Answer.

So Boy8 gets home today after a lively afternoon of playing with friends and announces a full 50 seconds after walking in the door, that he’s bored. Wow. Don’t tell me kids have short attention spans. 50 seconds, people. That’s a lot of seconds. I’m so proud.

I couldn’t help him. I spent 109 hours yesterday afternoon trying to take family portraits of a good natured dad, sweet mom, happy first daughter, engaged second daughter…and an 18 month old third daughter. If you’ve ever tried to do that then you’ll understand that I’m Wiped Out. My legs are aching from all the running around, squatting, lying down and jumping back up that had to be done. 18 month olds absolutely do NOT want their pictures taken. Ever. Ever, ever. Boy8 and Boy11 even came by later as reinforcements to stand behind me and dance about. She loves them and they always make her laugh.

And yup. They did make her laugh. She was grinning and chortling and having a grand old time…about 4 minutes after I tidied up my lighting gear and camera. Argh!

But bored Boy8 was not about to let his weary old mother rest. While I was busily employed bringing all the fruit to the bottom and clearing out all the jelly Boy8 kept hanging on to me and reminding me that he was still bored.

I spied the glass bunnies that I used to play with when I was a child and told him  in my Storyteller voice, “Way back in the olden days when I was a young girl and everything was in black and white, I used to play for hours and hours with those glass bunnies. Yes, those very same ones you see there! Would you like to play with them? You’re old enough now.”


“Don’t you have any matchbox cars? When I was a little girl, I used to line them all up in a big traffic jam. The first car would move forward an inch. Then the second car would move forward an inch. Then the third car would move forward an inch. I could fill days and days playing Traffic Jam.” Boy8 stared at me incredulously and said, “Did you really play that? Really?” I could hear Darling Husband snorting from the other room. Hey. I was an only child and had a very boring childhood. You gotta do what you gotta do to fill the time. Yes I played Traffic Jam.

Boy8 politely declined playing Traffic Jam.

“You could read a book. I have hundreds of children’s books I’ve collected just for sweet little you.”

No. He claims he hates reading. Oh, just break your mother’s heart in two why don’t you?

He wanted to do something physical he said.

“Make an obstacle course out of couch pillows and whatever else you can find and run through it.” Surely he’ll do this. He loves doing this and it makes a ghastly mess.


Sigh. “Then how about we put this lazy boy chair back and you massage my scalp while I fall asleep.”

And he did. Honestly. He really did. I just woke up about 20 minutes ago.

And that is how you do it people. If your child is bored I’ve just given you The Answer. Don’t give me your silly excuses that it’ll never work with your children. That’s not my problem. I’m busy. I still have all that fruit and jelly to clear out.

Candy, Girls, Taco Sauce, and Terrorists

Trick or treat night.

First—the costumes.

Boy8 was easy: pirate.

I thought Boy11 would be easy, too:  Jedi.  A few years ago I made monk’s robes for the boys when we were learning about monks in our history classes. My sewing skills are about as good as my cake decorating skills so you know that was a fiasco. The only reason I forged ahead with the monk’s robes is because Jedi knights are really just monks with telekinesis. I knew we’d get a lot of wear out of them.

About half an hour before we headed out I said, “Well, Boy11, what’re you wearing for Halloween?”  He surprised me by saying he wanted to be a wizard.  He would wear his monk’s robe and carry a staff.  Ok–that’s easy.  We have the robe and the staff–no problem. See?


Darling Husband on Exciting Nature Walk from Oct 13th last year. With staff.

We had the robe and the staff, but we didn’t have a wizard’s hat.  But we did have a “Eurasia” hat.  At our church, we had a thing where we learned about Eurasia and everyone got hats.  We haven’t worn our Eurasia hat since then.  It turns out that the Eurasia hat makes a plausible wizard’s hat.


The first person who saw Boy11 asked if he was Noah.

The next person asked if he was a hobbit.


A dwarf.

Blind man with a stick?



We finally made it to Gerhard’s house. He asked what Boy11 was.  Boy11 said, “Whatever you come up with.”  We explained about the wizard and the Eurasia hat and Gerhard said,  “Eurasia, huh?  So you’re a terrorist from Afghanistan demanding candy.”  He gave Boy11 some stale Easter candy and taco sauce.

Yes, really.  Taco sauce.  He knows Boy11 likes that brand and it turns out that Janet (Gerhard’s wife) doesn’t.  Janet was happy to get the taco sauce out of the house and Boy11 was delighted that he scored a jar of taco sauce while trick or treating.  Win-win.

While the boys trick or treated, I had fun peering into people’s houses. Sure enough the neighbor from Texas with the 800 shiny painted ceramic statues of animals in his yard had a deer head on his wall and was watching a John Wayne movie.  Of course he was watching a John Wayne movie.  I’ll bet they play on a loop all day long.

I pretended to take a piece of candy from Boy8 at another neighbor’s house.  She was very disapproving that I would take candy from a child and reprimanded me.  I suppose she thinks I’m a Horrible Mother. I’ll probably get the stink eye whenever I pass by her house: “There goes that Horrible Mother who steals candy from her children. Those poor little dears.”

At another house, with a porch light on, we knocked and a girl peeked through the window in the door.  The boys heard her yell in a panic, “Oh no!  Mom!  We left the porch light on!” The mother came rushing to the door with a pan of freshly baked cookies and gave each of the boys a cookie–still warm.  Guess they didn’t want terrorist tricks played on them.

All in all, even though it rained on us we had a blast.

But Boy11 almost missed it. All throughout this past month there was a contest at church to see who could bring more candy for the church’s Light the Night event—the boys or the girls.  The boys won.  The prize for winning was for the girls to serve the boys ice cream–tonight.  Oh, Boy11 wrestled with the issue—trick or treat and get candy or make the girls serve him ice cream while he demanded more, more, more!  Boy8 just snorted and knew the truth:  candy is way better than girls.

We bumped into a 12 year old friend of Boy11 while we were trick or treating and the two of them bemoaned the fact that they could have been being fed ice cream by the girls at church right at that very moment.  And such is the confounding life of an 11 and 12 year old.  Candy or girls?  Candy or girls?  This year the candy won, but I’m thinking not for long.

And since I know this won’t last much longer, it was all the sweeter.  In a few years, I will dearly miss going trick or treating.