Costume Mishaps
October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is a big favorite for kids. They get all hyper and drive their parents bananas. All the excitement of finding a costume and gathering a stash of free candy - woo hoo! 
I guess I never outgrew the crazy get-ups. 
Sometimes it's not all it's cracked up to be, like when something goes wrong with a costume. 

I have bad memories of Halloween when I was in kindergarten and dressed up as a witch. I wore one of those cheap masks with an elastic string to hold it on. Our class paraded single file down the school corridors and through other classrooms. Johnny, the kid behind me, kept pulling and twanging that elastic string so it hit the back of my head. Nonstop.

I cried and cried, but he wouldn't let up. If only I'd had a broom stick...

One Halloween when my son was seven or eight, he wore a California Raisin costume. They were a hit back in 1986 or '87.

Read more

Spooky Story Time
October 22, 2012
I'm a big scaredy cat when it comes to horror stories, but I can appreciate a good, mildly spooky story that gets my heart racing. 

When I was a kid, we'd invite friends over for snacks and a spooky tale, the story of "Joshua Brown," who one Halloween night disappeared from town. 
Don't forget the sweet treats!
Dad was a great storyteller, so we'd sit in a circle outside in the dark and listen to the tale of Joshua Brown. It was the same tale every year, but we never got tired of it.

Mom Pulls Scary Prank
October 15, 2012
I finally received a photo a couple weeks ago of this freaky fake cat. I'd been bugging my sister Cindy for about three years to take a picture of the scary cat her neighbor Shelly uses for a Halloween prop, the creature Shelly had tried to prank Cindy with back then, hoping to scare her good, but being a prankster herself, Cindy didn't fall for it. 

Cindy borrowed it, though, to pull a few pranks of her own. Here it is, the freaky-looking cat. I have to admit, it IS pretty creepy, especially finding it in a refrigerator. Eek! Lost my appetite! Did you?

Cindy put the cat in her daughter's room. Ballerina, then age 13, wasn't startled at all, but it was still daylight at the time. 

So Cindy set the cat on her son Joker's window sill. By the time the high school jock jetted up the stairs to his room, it was dusk. Next thing, Cindy heard a loud, "Augh!" 

Pause. Next, "Mom, I hate you!"
Read more

Home Run For Mom With Cancer
October 8, 2012

In the sixteen years I've been writing, I think this is my all-time favorite piece. 

I'm just the messenger, the fortunate writer who heard about this from my sister, Cindy. She witnessed this event at her son's Little League game back in 1999. At that time, I wrote a weekly parenting column for the Highland Community News. Thankfully, I saved the clip.

Read on if you need a shot of inspiration.

Justin Lambert, 10 years old - 1999
Back in 1999, Maureen Lambert, a mother of two, was being treated for breast cancer. One Saturday she was feeling particularly tired due to her chemotherapy. 

Ten-year-old Justin wanted to know if she was coming to his Little League game. He'd been wanting to hit a home run in her honor all season, but it hadn't happened yet. 

"I feel a home run coming today," little Justin said.

Read more

What a Scream
October 1, 2012

It's October 1st, and I'm looking for Halloween-related stories, so if you have one you'd like to share, please leave a comment or email me at the address below. 

This is a re-post from last year, the very first in my parenting series, about a scare my kids gave me years ago. 

It was a few days before Halloween. All four kids still lived at home, and I dragged my husband, George, with me to a play at the Montclair Plaza, leaving 16-year-old Tulip in charge of her two younger sisters, Lily and Sunflower, ages 12 and 8. Our oldest, 17-year-old Puck, wasn't cut out for babysitting back then. I'll leave it at that.

The play was titled "Every Man in the Mall," and it started after hours when the stores had closed up. The audience followed the characters all through the mall for the different scenes.   

September 24, 2012

One look at the gorgeous tiki hut below makes me think of a tropical paradise. Peaceful, relaxing, a place to hang loose. Can you believe this is someone's back yard in a suburb of Los Angeles?

What a perfect setup for Alexis to house sit for her parents last June. She and little Zack, not quite two, could walk over to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lived next door. And what a fun yard for a toddler to run around in.

One late afternoon, Alexis took Zack outside with her to feed the fish in the pond. When she tried to go back in the house, she discovered the door was locked. There's a gate, but it was padlocked. The key? In the house, of course, and the gate was too high to scale. Read more

Little Mimics
September 17, 2012

Some kids get in trouble if they utter the dreaded 'S' word. Parents, you know what I'm talking about, and big, bad me, I'm going to say it right here in this post, so if your kids are looking over your shoulder, you might want to shoo them away. Here goes, the shocking, scandalous 'S' word - 'Shut up!' (Hey, that's actually two words.)

Rene Reiner is one of many parents who designated the 'S' word as off limits. In the wee hours one morning while doing paper work, she was startled by the loud voice of her 18-year-old son, J.R., telling her nine-year-old son, "Shut up, Charlton!"

It took Rene a moment before she realized that J.R. was in another state and that Charlton had been asleep for hours. Then once more she heard it, "Shut up, Charlton!" This time she pegged the speaker as their pet parrot.

When J.R. returned home, she asked him why he'd been telling his brother to shut up. Read more

Summer is Slippin' Slidin' Away
September 10, 2012

“Summer should get a speeding ticket.” ~ Author Unknown

Spring and summer are my favorite seasons. My kids are grown, and I don't have to deal with hectic school mornings anymore, but every year at this time I pause to mourn Fall casting its shadow on summertime.

Some of my favorite childhood memories:    

Surprise showers with tingly raindrops.
Marking the street up with sidewalk chalk well past 9:00 and still daylight.
When night fell, lightning bugs flitted around us, glowing with magic.

As a mother, summer fun with my kids and my sister Pam and her children bring more happy times to mind. These photos are from about 24 years ago, but it seems like just yesterday: Read more

60 Years After Eloping 
September 3, 2012

Sixty years ago in July, my parents got married. She was 16. He was 19.
She lived in Morningside and he lived in Shadyside. 
Both areas are part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Mom's wicked step-mother slapped her, so she eloped with my father.
They'd been dating since she was 14 and he was 17.

I think Dad and Mom made a handsome couple.
Still together after 60 years!
A lot happened during in those six decades. 

July 30, 2012
This is a sweet story my Aunt Walda, who goes by the nickname Sam, shared with me. It's from her childhood and offers some valuable lessons for us:

"When I was in third grade, I was taught by the most dear and gentle nun. It was obvious that Sister Saint Hubert should have retired years before, but she was still patient and kind when dealing with her class of seven- and eight-year-olds. 

Little Walda as a school girl
"One day, giving in to temptation, I took a quarter from Shirley's desk and dropped it into my pocket. In the school year 1947/48, a quarter had a bit more value than it does now. Especially to a third grader. Sister made a plea to the class stating that Shirley needed her quarter for the streetcar fare home.
Read more

Big Sis Hijinks
July 23, 2012
Charlene Parton shared some of her favorite parenting stories with me. Her eyes lit up as she relived those long ago moments. A mother of three daughters, Charlene's youngest, Kathleen, was born when Melinda was in high school. A special relationship developed between Melinda and Kathleen, despite the age difference. 

It seems Melinda had a ball teaching her baby sister things. She taught Kathleen that her elbow was called a "knee."

"She mixed up all her body parts," Charlene said with a chuckle. "And she told her that 'zip code' is a bad word!"
Read more

July 16, 2012
Years ago my Aunt Sam shared some of her favorite parenting stories with me. Here's some of her favorites, in her own words:

"My son Bill learned to say The Lord's Prayer very early and said it each night before going to bed. One evening when I was particularly attentive, I heard him say, 'And deliver us from eagles.' 

"Along similar lines, my friend, Joyce Cotterman, was telling her young son, Kevin, about Jesus, explaining that all you have to do is believe in Jesus to belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. Kevin considered this for a few minutes and then said, 'I'd rather be a Mouseketeer.'
Read more

July 9, 2012
This is one of my favorite parenting stories. It happened years ago when my sister, Cindy, was eight months pregnant with her second child. Her hormones were raging and she'd cry over any little thing. 

On a hot summer day, she relaxed on her front porch as she watched her two-year-old son (Soldier) help her husband, Jim, with his yard work. Soldier helped his dad roll the huge trashcan across the lawn. It was provided by the city, the kind with a heavy lid that hangs down when it's open. The lid almost scrapes the ground when you roll it at an angle. 
Suddenly, Jim disappeared. Read more

Never a Dull Moment
July 2, 2012
Mary Alice Parker writes family stories down to preserve them for future generations to enjoy. These stories took place in the 1940s but are incidents parents today can relate to:

"My cousin Dottie Chinnici's youngest son, Gerry, was a very active child who walked early. He had more locomotion than common sense. It was summer and still light when they put their 10-month-old baby into his crib, kissed him goodnight and closed the door.

"About a half an hour later, a neighbor rang the front doorbell. 'Does this child belong to you?' Gerry had managed to unlatch the window screen and open it, climb out of his crib and over the window sill, lower himself to the ground, and was apprehended walking down the sidewalk in his yellow sleeper with feet.

Read more

Senior Prank Backfires
June 24, 2012
(Note: The names in this post have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty!)
What is it about the tradition of senior pranks at high schools? It seems that some kids who aren't pranksters by nature are tempted to get in on senior pranks.

Ann Surles shared a story about her daughter Patricia and boyfriend Mark that happened at the end of their senior year. It was supposed to be a harmless prank. Mark wasn't a jokster, but he got caught up in the pre-graduation fun. "Patricia and Mark both did cross-aid training for grade school kids and rode a school bus to the elementary school." It was a small bus that transported them and other teens.

Mark hurried onto the bus before the others and pulled out a bottle of Essence of Sulfur, then splashed it on all the seats.
Read more

Boys and Bugs
June 18, 2012

Warning:  If you have a weak stomach, read no further!
One day when my nephew JW was three years old, he told my sister-in-law Debbie he came up with an invention. "First, you look for a snail. The bigger, the better. Lick them until your spit makes them really foamy. Then you stick 'em to the wall." He called his invention, "Lick'n'Sticks."
Read more

Pajama Day Sans Undies
June 11, 2012

When my nephew Joker was in kindergarten, his class had a Pajama/Pancake party on the last day of school. The family was leaving for summer vacation that day, but Joker had been so excited about the party the whole month prior to it that my sister Cindy didn't want to deprive him of the fun he'd been looking forward to. She decided they'd get a late start on their trip. 
That morning, Joker bounded into the kitchen in his favorite cartoon jamies. "Got your shoes and socks on? Cindy asked.
"Yep," Joker answered. 
"Did you brush your teeth?"
"Yes," he replied, flashing a smile. 
"Got your underwear on?" she asked.
"NO! You don't wear underwear with pajamas."
Read more

Baseball and Goofballs
May 21, 2012

My daughter Lilly and husband Bart are big Dodger fans. They invited my hubby George, me, and Bart's family to a Dodger game for Mother's Day. I hadn't been to Dodger stadium in 40 years. 
It sure brought back memories from when I was 16 and experienced my first Dodger game. I went with high school friends, and we sat in cheap seats in left field. Willie Crawford hit a foul ball our way. Some guy near us tried to catch it, but it ricocheted off his hand and landed under the empty seat next to me!
Read more

Absent Minded Moments
May 13, 2012
Let's face it, parenting requires a lot of energy. Mothers pour their hearts and souls into their children's lives. Fatigue causes many absent minded goof-ups.

Here are some of the answers I received when I asked moms I know to finish this sentence: You know you're overtired and need a break when:

You buy a week's worth of groceries, load them in the trunk, hop into the passenger seat, and wait for your husband to get in and drive when you suddenly realize you're by yourself. 
Read more

DIY - Piece of Cake
April 30, 2012
One of my favorite parenting memories is when we threw our oldest daughter, Tulip (nickname), a Sweet-Sixteen party. We wanted to make it an occasion to remember. In order to hire a DJ, we had to cut back on other costs, so I decided I could do the cake myself. No sweat.

We expected over 50 guests, so I baked four cake mixes, which required two roasting pans. I transferred the first layer onto a large tray, but the middle of the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan. Okay, no big deal. I scraped out the middle and fit the pieces back into place like a puzzle. There were huge fissures, but extra whipped cream would take care of that, and no one would be the wiser.
Read more

Baby Escape Artists
April 23, 2012

How young is too young to challenge a baby's problem-solving skills? 
At seven and a half months, Punkin is off to a great start. 
I probably shouldn't encourage him to escape. He's already trying to climb out of the playpen yard, inching higher and higher with each new day. He challenges himself.

Some babies are happy to stay put, but others, no way. 
They are our future explorers, inventors, athletes, innovators. 

This baby's parents couldn't figure out how he was getting out of his crib, especially with the mattress as low as it could go, so his dad put a video camera on the dresser. Read more

Locked Out!
April 16, 2012

You're in for some giggly treats today, friends. Has your kid ever locked you out? If so, I'm sure one of these stories will bring back some funny (or maybe not) memories.
Laughingmom from Where's the Funny Here? said:
We had date night interrupted because our son had locked everyone including the sitter (his uncle) out of the house. Uncle got fired as a sitter.
Robyn Campbell (mother of seven) from Putting Pen to Paper said:As you know we live on a farm, so one day I left them all in the house alone! I was only going down to the mailbox. Five minutes tops. I dilly dally in the quiet. When I got back I could not get in the front door. Or the side door. Or the back door. *sigh*
Read more

Forgotten Easter Eggs
April 9, 2012
Every Easter my husband's family gets together at Jim and Linda's. The highlight of the day for the kids is the egg hunt.
About 15 years ago, 10-year-old Donny found a faded egg in one of the bushes. Jim rushed over and carefully took it from him. "We don't want it to crack," Jim warned. He knew it was an egg from the year prior, now faded from the elements.
When the kids found out it was an old egg and might be rotten, they followed Jim to the trashcan as if he were the Pied Piper. 
Read more

No Ifs, Ands, or Head Butts
March 26, 2012
I recently posted this comment on my Facebook page:

"Today a grandmother got headbutted twice by her grandson. Then he grabbed a chunk of skin on her neck and pinched her and spit in her face and laughed his head off. 
That grandmother is me and it was my six-month-old grandbaby...."
Did you know that a ten-pound baby's headbutt has enough force to break your nose? Read more

Lost & Found
February 13, 2012
A lost child is enough to make a mother or father lose their mind. Even if it's a matter of a few minutes, they're some of the longest, hardest moments in a parent's life. Some of my readers have shared their stories with me. 

Here's ‪DebraKristi's experience:

     Gosh, I think the time that actually scared me the most was when I took my eldest to the Dorothy the Dinosaur consort (from The Wiggles). He was an only child then and probably around the age of three. 
     The isle was crammed pack full of miniature people and my little one decided to join them for some dancing and wiggling. Of course I moved in next to him. 

All of the sudden he rushed the stage, slicing through all the tiny little people like a magician. I fumbled and pushed forward as fast as I could to keep up with him but he was gone. Just gone. 
Read more

Fun Fibs
February 8, 2012
Kids have wild imaginations. That's one of the many things I love about them. Do you remember any magical moments from your childhood?
Theresa Milstein shared a wonderful memory with me: When I was about 4-years-old, I remember listening to the radio and not understanding where the sound came from. I asked my aunt how it worked. She told me there was a man in the radio. I was skeptical.
"But how does he do all the voices?" I asked.
"He's very talented." 
Read more

Embarrassing Moments
January 30, 2012

Ginger Calem left a comment on my Holiday Shopping With Kids post that still makes me chuckle every time I think of it. Here's a photo of her little darling when she was a little older than the incident Ginger shared with us. 
Ginger has a few nicknames for her daughter:
Little Pip, Sassy-Pants, Bossy-boots, to name a few!

Here's Ginger's parenting comment:
Ah … kids! Being embarrassed by them in public is part of a parent's initiation to the big leagues! Here's the first grocery store one that popped into my head. I was shopping with my very young daughter who was in the early stages of talking. I took her temperature that morning and announced she was running a fever, low-grade, no big deal. Off to the store we go. In the feminine product aisle (no less!) we pass two senior citizen women who smiled at my daughter and exclaimed how cute she was. My darling daughter announced in an alarmingly articulate manner, "I have a beaver." 

Read more

Heart Stopping Moments
January 23, 2012
When I first started this series, I put out a call for parenting stories. Thank you to everyone who's responded. Following are the kind of memories that get your adrenaline pumping again every time they come to mind:
C. Lee McKenzie of The Write Game shared a cliffhanger (just like a writer!):
Well, there was that one time when I looked out my window to see my youngest clinging to the end of a rope, his legs windmilling over the edge of our property. Now, so you'll see why my heart stopped, our property slopes to the edge of a canyon with a creek below. 
Read more

Learning to Fly Fish
January 16, 2012

I would like to thank JJ Botta of The Disconnected Writer blog for sharing the following parenting story with me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
Years ago, I used to fly fish for trout in the Catskill Mountains of New York. I had a business partner who introduced me to the sport, and I became a fanatic.

Now for those who have never tried it, or those who think fishing is just fishing, it would be a stretch to believe fly fishing is an art. But it is, and fly fishermen are serious about it. In fact, most of us eventually learn to tie our own flies. There is a special feeling of accomplishment for one to tie an artificial bug to the end of a line and fool a fish as cagey as a trout. 
Read more

Holiday Ding-a-lings 
January 2, 2012
Whew! I don't know about you, but I'm battling holiday fatigue. I do some pretty ditsy things when I'm overtired, like putting eye liner on my lips, pouring coffee into my cereal bowl, and paying the cashier for gas, then driving halfway down the street before remembering I didn't put the fuel in my car.

I know I'm not alone. While the hustle and bustle takes a toll on mothers, many fathers also feel wiped out after all the holiday cheer (especially after celebrating New Year's). 
Read more

Mom, What's a Babe?
December 26, 2011

Ah, I love how children are always surprising us.
My nephews Soldier (at age 5) and his brother Joker (at age 2)

One Christmas when Soldier was six, his mother read him the nativity story. When she got to the part about Mary bringing forth a babe, Soldier stopped her and asked, "Mom, what's a babe?"

Soldier's father Jim overheard the conversation. "I'll tell you what a babe is. A babe is your mom in a bikini." He winked at Cindy. She chuckled along with Soldier and Jim. Read More

December 19, 2011
When my niece, Ballerina, was two years old, she excitedly looked through the new Christmas toy catalog and stared lovingly at the pages of dolls and accessories, dainty dresses and shoes, pink buggies, strollers, and bassinets.

Ballerina at two-and-a-half years old

"Mommy, I want to go in there," Ballerina said. Cindy thought she meant the toy store. "No, Mommy, I want to go in there."
"You mean you want to go inside the catalog?" Cindy asked. Read more

Holiday Shopping With Kids
December 12
'Tis the season to shop, and the malls are packed with holiday shoppers. When we have to bring our children along, it can be difficult to keep an eye on them. Cindy Molina told me about the time her son Alex was eight years old. That was the same year Polly Klaus had been abducted, and the newscasters gave parents safety tips to teach their children what to do if a stranger tried to grab them.

So Cindy and her husband Frank explained to Alex and his nine-year-old brother Ryan that if you're out in public and a man grabs you and tries to take you with him, holler, "Help! This isn't my father!" Or if it's a woman, "This isn't my mother!"

Cindy explained, "Because if you just cry and kick and scream, people will think you're having a tantrum with your own parent." 
Read more

Teaching Your Kid to Ride a Bike?
December 5, 2011
When Steve King's oldest child, Rhett, was not quite five years old, he got a spiffy red bike for Christmas. Steve was excited about teaching his son how to ride his bike. They lived in an apartment complex with a swimming pool in the middle of the complex. Steve realized the pool could pose a problem, but he decided he would steer Rhett away from it. Read more

Raising Teenagers
November 28, 2011
Last week's post was an essay my sister, Pam, wrote when her boys were ages two and four. It's titled "You Can Dress Them Up But..."  If you missed it, you can read it here.

One year when the boys were teenagers, she wrote another essay for our mom for Mother's Day. It's even better than the first essay, in my opinion. I've been telling her for years she should be a writer, but she's not really interested. Clearly, she has a natural talent for writing. See if you agree!

                                                  Many Years Later
"My boys are typical teenagers in many ways. They have mood swings, they question authority, and they are outstanding debaters. At times, too, they are confused about life, but they would never admit to that. Read more

You Can Dress Them Up But...
November 21, 2011
This week I'd like to share an essay my sister, Pam, wrote years ago when her boys (now grown) were little. She wrote it for a composition class she was taking. 

Good thing I saved it because she didn't. When I sent her a copy, she wasn't impressed with it. Well, I think it rocks, but of course I'm partial. Here it is:

"Snazzy little high-topped sneakers, miniature pair of Levi's and an attractive flannel shirt, laced with colorful suspenders. Yes, you can dress them up, but can you take them out? Children, those fiery little bundles of energy, who are lacking most social graces, and who seem to enjoy driving their parents buggy every time they're taken to a public area. 

Read more

What a SCREAM! 
November 14, 2011

This is the first post in my new series, 
featuring true parenting & grandparenting stories! 

I had planned to post this right before Halloween, but then my hard drive died. Better late than never, right? Here goes:

This is a memory that gave me quite a scare many years ago. It was a few days before Halloween. All four kids still lived at home, and I dragged my husband, George, with me to a play at the Montclair Plaza, leaving 16-year-old Tulip in charge of her two younger sisters, Lily and Sunflower, ages 12 and 8. Our oldest, 17-year-old Puck, wasn't cut out for babysitting back then. I'll leave it at that. Read more

No comments: