Mama Diaries

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I have a special talent.  Do you know what it is?  I have the uncanny ability to booby trap refrigerators.  Yep.  I stack things into little itty bitty spaces, so that if you aren't careful, you might have food topple out when you open my refrigerator. 

Usually it's everyone else who gets bushwacked by my precarious piles.  Not today.  Today it was my turn. First thing this morning, I opened the refrigerator to get some milk for my kids' cereal.  I reached for the milk, without taking out what was in front of it.  Big mistake.  Because what was in front of it was a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and that bowl of chicken noodle soup flipped right out of there, onto the floor.

My feet were covered with broth and noodles.  "Dang it!" I yelled.  I had been bushwacked!

Our German Shepherd, Schultz, heard my cries of distress. He gallopped over.  He knew just what to do.  He whipped out his big pink tongue and slurped the noodles off my feet.  Then he cleaned the floor and the walls.  By the time he was done, everything was sparkly clean (sort of). 

It's nice to have a furry friend when you need one!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Turtle Lake

Today I decided to take my son to playground we had never visited.  (It's my goal this summer to see all of the playgrounds in my general area.)  As soon as we got there, my son noticed a lovely lake.

"Mama, do you think there are turtles in there?"

Before I could say, "I don't know," I group of kids shouted, "Look, a turtle!"

I guess that answered that question.

My son made a beeline for the lake.  He didn't even care about the playground equipment.  "Mama, look at all the turtles!"

There were no less than seven swimming around.

Apparently we had arrived at Turtle Lake, which was as close to heaven as you could get for my boy.  "Mama, we have to come back here every day!"

So much for visiting the rest of the playgrounds. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shop and Eat

My eight-year-old son has been eating me out of house and home.  Apparently he's growing.

"Mama," he said today, "I'm starving!"

"You just ate an hour ago," I replied.

"Yeah, I know.  But I'm starving!"

I looked in the refrigerator and noticed that our food supply was on low.  "Okay.  Time to restock.  Let's take a little trip to COSTCO."

For those of you who may not have a COSTCO in your neighborhood, it's a, 80,000 square foot warehouse building that sells bulk everything - food, medicine, furniture, TVs - you name it, it has it.  The nice thing about COSTCO is that there are always employees giving free food samples.  You can actually get enough food to equal an entire meal.  It was the perfect place to take my famished son.  While I shopped, he snacked.  

When we were done, he gave me a satisfied smile.  "Mama, I wish we lived here."


"Because then I'd never have to starve."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another Shedder in the House

No, we didn't get another dog at my pad.  (I know that's what you're thinking, because my German Shepherd is a real shedder!)  We have a new shedder, and it isn't who you might think it is.

This morning, I went over to the hermit crabs' tank.  It was the usual ritual - clean, feed, and wet their sponges.  But as I looked in the tank, I noticed something a little peculiar.  It looked like a dead hermit crab out of its shell.  Uh oh,  I thought.  A hermit crab bit the dust.

I picked that thing out of there and tossed it into the garbage.  "Hey, Bubba," I said.  "One of your sister's crabs died."

He came running over.  "Which one?"

"I don't know.  Let's see."  I turned over the shell of the first crab.  I could see the little claws in there, so it wasn't him.  I turned over another one.  Claws in that one too.  I continued with the other hermit crabs.  They were all in there.  "That's weird," I said.  "Apparently, nobody died.  Do hermit crabs shed?"

My boy and I did some research.  Guess what we found out?  Hermit crabs do indeed shed.  Apparently one of those crustaceans had plans to do some growing.

Bubba immediately went to the garbage and pulled out the exoskeleton.  "Wow, this is cool," he said.  "Can I put it on my shelf?" 

Um,  no!

So, how many of you knew that hermit crabs shed?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Running in the Dark

First of all, I want to let you all know why I think my son wanted to stay home and not go to his grandparents' house yesterday.  He came down with a nice case of poison ivy.  I guess it was only a matter of time before that happened.  He spends a lot of time in the woods.  So I had to deal with that today.

Anyway, my story here doesn't have anything to do with that.  It has to do with the power outages we've been experiencing due to the massive thunderstorms that have been rumbling through my neck of the woods.  This evening the power went out yet again.  It was pretty dark outside.  My son and our wonderful German Shepherd, Schultz, decided it would be a good time to have a berserk and run around the house.

They started running like complete maniacs, bumping into furniture and making lots of noise. Of course they could barely see anything.

"Hey, knock it off," I said.  "You're going to get hurt!"

But they were too riled up.  Around and around they went, giggling and barking like a couple of idiots.

Mother Nature helped me out a bit, because suddenly there was a huge clap of thunder right above our house.  Those boys stopped in their tracks.  They both came and sat down next to me.

"Mama, is Mother Nature angry?" my son asked.

"Yeah.  She doesn't like when  you don't listen to your Mama."

"Okay," said my son.  "I'll listen to you, because I don't want you or Mother Nature mad.  You guys are scary!"

Hee Hee.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home Body

My in-laws had been planning to spend a few days with my kids at their place, which is about four hours from where I live.  They were all excited about seeing their grandkids.  Today was the day.  Well, my son had other ideas.  He simply refused to go.

"I don't want to go.  I'll miss my home, and I'll miss Mama," he told them.

My mother-in-law spent a lot of time trying to convince him to go.  He wouldn't budge.  We decided not to force the issue.  They got my daughter, but not my son.

Now, I was expecting that boy to take off for the pond.  I figured the whole thing was a ploy to go turtle hunting.  But do you know what?  The kid surprised me.  He stayed home all day and played with me.  He didn't even go running off to his friends's house. 

What's up with that?  Does this mean I might actually still be wanted?  I think I'm in shock!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Death of the Monkey Spoon

My kids have had this monkey spoon since they were babies, and for some reason, they still like to use it.  It's this itty bitty thing with a brown plastic monkey on the handle.  Well, today it met its demise.

There was a pile of dirty dishes in my sink this afternoon.  (Imagine that!)  I cleared those out of there and loaded the dishwasher.  Then I ran the garbage disposal to get rid of the remaining crud that was in the sink.  Let me tell you, the noise when I turned it on was something horrendous.  What the heck? I thought.

I quickly turned that thing off and waited for the the little cutter things to stop spinning.  Then I carefully reached down to see what could possibly be stuck in there.  That's when I pulled out a little monkey.  Let's just say, it wasn't looking too good.  The spoon part was missing, so I knew there were pieces and parts still left in the disposal.

To make a long story short, it took me about twenty minutes to clear that thing out.  I tried the garbage disposal when I was done.  It sounded better, but not perfect.  I'm still not sure if my garbage disposal died after trying to eat that monkey spoon.

Later I told my son about the spoon. 

"Awww," he said.  "That was my favorite spoon."

Yeah.  And that was my favorite garbage disposal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Riding in the Rain

"Mama, can I go to the lake?"  my son asked.

"Sure," I said, not bothering to look out the window to see if any precipitation might be heading our way.  "Be back in an hour."

The boy hopped on his bike and took off.  I went about my business.  Soon, I heard the rumble of thunder.  I looked outside.  The sky was getting mighty dark.  I hope the boy has sense to come home now, I thought.

The boy didn't have the sense to come home.  Raindrops started to fall.  What began as a trickle, turned into a major downpour.  Thunder boomed.  Hail crashed onto the house.  Oh brother, I thought.

After about ten minutes of that, my son stumbled into the house.  He was soaked from head to toe, and he wasn't very happy.

"Mama, that was scary!" he said.  "I need a snuggle."

So he put his wet little body against me and I held him while the storm raged.

Of course, I was soaked by the time it was done, but hey, I guess that's what moms are for.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Turtle Catchers

Those of you who have been following this blog a while know that my son really wants a pet turtle.  He begged me.  He begged his dad.  He begged his grandparents.  His grandpa was going to get him a turtle for his birthday, but my husband vetoed that.  "No way!" he said.

Well, my son's buddies came to the rescue.  They knew it was his birthday, so they wanted to get him an extra special birthday present.  Four of his buddies got up bright and early to go turtle hunting.  They must've known  that the turtles would be out at that time.

They were armed with fishing poles, hooks, and salami.  They marched to the lake and cast their lines, determined to catch a turtle for my boy.

And do you know what?  They caught not one, but two turtles - a red eared slider and a painted turtle.  The boys marched to our house and delivered the special birthday presents.

You should've seen my son.  He was beside himself.  He couldn't believe that his buddies caught him a turtle.

I guess that's what friends are for.

(Now what the heck are we going to do with those things?)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Flying Food and Dancing on Chairs

It was party time!  My dad and my son had some birthdays to celebrate today.  We all went out to Iron Chef, a funky hibachi grill restaurant.  I didn't realize quite how funky it was until I got there. 

The "iron chef" came out and started making fire and throwing his cooking knives into the air.

"Whoa!"  my son said.  "You're crazy!"

The hibachi guy laughed.  Then he spun some eggs on the hot grill and flipped them into his hat and into his pocket.

"Cool!" said my son.  "Can I do that?"

Hibachi guy laughed again.  "It an ancient Chinese art form.  It take many years to master."

I guess that was a "no."

Next came the flying food part.  "Open your mouth," hibachi guy said.  He started flinging chicken pieces at us, expecting us to catch it in our mouths.  My little guy had some trouble, so hibachi guy said, "Close your eyes.  I help."  He whipped a piece off his metal spatula and it landed right in his mouth.  Bullseye!

That guy was good.

After the meal, a bunch of drum-toting Asian dudes gathered around us.  They pointed to my son and my dad.  "You," they said.  "Get up, and stand on your chairs."


So Bubba, who thought it was great to finally get to stand on a chair and not be yelled at, hopped right up with a big grin on his face.  Even my dad, who is now officially retired, got up on that chair.  The drum beats started.  My dad did a boogie, my son did something that looked a little like break-dancing, and the whole restaurant sang "Happy Birthday."  

It was a moment to remember.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cupcake Crumbs

Tomorrow will be my son's eighth birthday party.  (He now informs everyone that he is seven and four quarters years old.)  Since my boy loves turtles, I made him a turtle birthday cake.  It required two batches of cake mix - a full cake for the shell, and cupcakes for the legs and head.

Needless to say, the house smelled great.  Of course, my kids had their friends over while I was busy baking.

"Mrs. Ellis, that smells really good.  Can we have some?"

"No," I said.  "These cupcakes are for the party tomorrow."

They gave me sad faces.  I felt kind of bad, because I know how hard it is to be a kid and smell baking, and not get a sample.  Maybe if they're good, I can spare a few cupcakes, I thought.

I went about my business.

About twenty minutes later, I went to check on the kids.  They were in the loft with hermit crabs crawling all over them.  And do you know what else?  There were cupcake crumbs all over the floor. 

Uh oh.

"Kids," I said.  "What's going on here?"

They gave me the guilty look. 

"But they looked so good, we couldn't resist," they said.

I shook my head and got the vacuum.  "Glad you enjoyed them.  Now you can clean up the crumbs."

Hee hee. 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Onion Breath

I went outside to water my plants today, and happened to notice that one of my onions was ready to be harvested.  I pulled it out of the ground, washed it off, and laid down while I continued my watering. (Yeah, I probably should've left it in the ground until I was finished watering, but my brain wasn't working so well.)

Anyway, a certain hairy beast, AKA Schultz, the German Shepherd, came bolting out of the house.  (Why do my kids  always release him when I'm trying to water the garden? )  He ran into the water and trampled my flowers, as usual. 

"Schultz, get out of here!" I said.

To my amazement, he actually listened.

I continued watering the flowers.  When I was done, I put away the hose and turned my attention to the dog.  What do you think he was doing?  Yep.  Munching on the onion.

"Dog, what the heck is the matter with you?" I bellowed. 

He looked at me and cocked his head. 

"Get over here!" 

He got up and dropped the half-chewed onion at my feet.  I stooped down to pick it up and got a whiff of some serious onion breath.  Disgusting!

"Come on, dog.  You're getting your teeth brushed."

I took him in the house and brushed his pearly whites with chicken-flavored toothpaste.  I'm not quite sure it had the desired effect, because now the beast smells like he had a chicken dinner with raw onions.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saran Wrap Surprise

My kids decided to have a little fun today, at my expense.

"Mama, come here," my daughter said.

"I'm busy,"  I said.  "Can it wait?"

"No, you have to come right now," she answered.

I sighed and trudged upstairs where my kids were waiting for me.  They could barely contain their giggles.  I knew this was going to be good.

"Here, Mama.  Put on this mask so you can't see." 

I took the velvet eye mask.  "Seriously?  Can't I just close my eyes?"

"No.  You have to wear the mask."

I shook my head.  "Fine.  Let's just get this done quickly, because I have a ton of stuff to do."

I put on the mask and let my daughter lead me into my bedroom.  Then she directed me to where the master bathroom should be.  Except I ran into something - something plasticy and clingy.  "What?" I said, ripping off the mask.

I couldn't believe what I saw.  My kids had rigged my bathroom entry way with Saran Wrap.  It stretched across the entire door, and was held secure with Scotch tape.

Argh!  Do you think they were  bored, or something? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Flying Trays and Other Assorted Mayhem

It was Friday the 13th.  We were in San Francisco.  The day was as gloomy as could be.  Fog covered the land.  I could just tell it was going to be a day to remember.

The first indication that something was amiss was when we got on the Muni subway.  There were more bums on that thing than normal people.  The majority of them seemed completely stoned out of their minds.  I told my kids not to look at them, because they weren't the friendly sort that we met in San Diego.

We got off at Civic Center where the city hall was, and where the theaters and fine arts were located.  It was  a bad situation.  Homeless people were everywhere, and the air smelled like drugs.  In fact, one guy threw a blue restaurant tray at us, barely missing my daughter.

My husband quickly turned us around, and we got the heck out of there!  It was completely unsafe.

Later that day, we made our way to Fisherman's Warf and Pier 39.  There was an assortment of entertainers, including some mimes.  Now, I don't normally mind mimes, but these guys were scary!  Something was wrong with them.  I figured out what it was when I saw one completely gold mime huddled by a garbage dump, snorting drugs.  Fortunately, my kids didn't see that one.

San Francisco is not the place it was 15 years ago.  It is messed up big time!  So, San Francisco, here's what I have to say to you:  You're cable cars are cool, but your drug-addicted homeless are not!  You'd better fix that problem, or I'm not coming back!  

Pesky Coons

I have concluded that coons have attitude problems.  It doesn't matter where they are - west coast, east coast, no coast - they're just pesky.

Today's story involves a raccoon we came across on the Pacific Highway in California.  We had just visited Hearst Castle and were making our way along the coast up to Montery Bay.  It was getting dark and the fog was rolling in.  If you've ever travelled on Highway One, you know that it winds along the edge of cliffs that drop off into the ocean. Not an easy drive even in good conditions.

Before long, the sun set, and we were left in total darkness.  There we were, in the dark, in the fog, on an unlit road, winding along a cliff.  Not good.  Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse, what do you think happened?  Yep.  A coon decided to cross the road in front of us.  My husband slammed on the brakes, barely missing him.  And do you know what that stupid thing did?  He stopped and gave us a look like, "What the heck are you doing here, you idiots?" Then he meandered slowly across the street.  I nearly had a heart attack!  Fortunately none of us went careening over the cliff.

Fast forward to last night.  I looked out my front window.  What do you think I saw on my porch?  You guessed it.  The pesky coon we saw on the fourth of July.  I opened my door and said, "Hey, what do you think you're doing here?"

The stupid coon didn't budge.  He just sat there looking at me.

I decided to call Schultz, our big old German Shepherd.  I figured he'd like to have a piece of that coon.  "Schultz!"  The dog didn't move.  "Schultz!" I called again.  Again, the dog wouldn't budge.  Apparently he was tired from his ten days in the pet hotel.  (The workers told us that he had a lot of girlfriends, so I can just imagine what he was up to.)

I took matters into my own hands.  I charged at the coon.  That scared him off.  At least he knew not to mess with an angry Mama!    

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dancing with the Vagabond

I'm back!  Sorry I didn't give you a warning that I was going to drop off the blogosphere for a little while.  My family and I just came back from a lengthy vacation in California.  My husband asked that I not broadcast that information before we left, so I didn't.    It was weird to be totally unplugged.  I missed you guys!

Anyway, my family and I did the grand tour of California, starting in San Diego and working our way up to the Red Wood Forest.  It was a great time, and as you can probably imagine, it was full of laughs and crazy adventures.  For the next few days, I will share a few stories with you.  Please pardon any typos.  I'm extremely tired, as I haven't slept in two days.  (The red-eye flight back with the kids was a ton of fun!)

First story takes place in San Diego's Gas Light District.  For those of you not familiar with it, it's a section of downtown San Diego with lots of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.  My family and I had dinner down there one evening.  As we walked back to our hotel, an entertaining individual crossed our path.

He was a homeless dude with a cart full of stuff - clothes, pillow, blankets, a plastic head, and a radio.  This dude had the song, Party in the House Tonight, blasting from his radio.  He wore no shirt, even though it was about 50 degrees.  No... I take that back.  He wore no shirt on his torso.  His shirt was on his head.  And he was munching on a hot dog, dancing to the music.  A little sign in his cart said, "Disabled Veteran." 

Yeah, right. 

So this dude got one look at me and my family, and decided to follow us.  My kids thought this was great. 

"Mama, can I dance with him?" my son asked.

I looked at the strange vagabond.  He seemed pretty harmless, and we were with a crowd of people.

"Okay," I said.  "But don't get too crazy."

Well, my boy started doing something that resembled the funky chicken, and the dude did something that resembled the Macarena.

The crowd was totally cracking up.

Eventually, the vagabond headed off in the other direction, lost in his own world, and my son headed off in our direction, lost in his own world.  What a pair!  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bandit Strikes Again

I hope all of you Americans had a great Fourth of July.  My family and I did.  Lots of fireworks!

So last night, I happened to look out my front window.  I had to look twice, because what I saw was a big furry gray thing.  It was eating my cat's food.

"Hey!"  I yelled, knocking on my front door. 

The big furry gray thing looked up.  It had a black mask on.  Yep.  The gray furry thing was a coon.  And that coon didn't care that I was knocking on my door.  It just looked at me and went back to eating.

"So you think you're going to steal my cat's food, do you?"  I opened the door and looked at him.  He backed away a few steps and looked at me.  "Well? Don't just stand there.  Get lost!"

It just stood there.  Apparently I'm not very scary looking.

Then Schultz came to the door to see what was going on.  (Schultz is my hundred pound German Shepherd, for those of you who don't know.)  That coon took one look at Schultz, and he was out of there!  He ran as fast as his furry little legs could carry him.  I bet he was one of those rascals Schultz chased away a couple of weeks ago.

Schultz was pleased.  He didn't even have to chase it (although I'm sure he would've liked to).  Good boy, Schultz!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Poor Little Grasshopper

You wouldn't think anything weird would happen if you just go to Subway to get some lunch.  Well, in my world, weird things happen everywhere we go.

We got out of the car, and the first thing out of my daughter's mouth was, "Look, Mom, a cute little grasshopper!"

I thought she must've been seeing things, because no grasshopper in its right mind would be sitting on an asphalt parking lot in 103 degree heat.

I walked around to take a look.  Sure enough, there was a little grasshopper.  "Leave it alone," I said.  "Let's go get some lunch."

Do you think my son listened?  No way, Jose!  Apparently a little grasshopper was just too hard to resist.  He chased that thing all around the parking lot until he caught it.   "Look, Mama, I caught it!"

"Very good," I said.  "Now let it go, and let's get our lunch."

The boy had other ideas.  He brought the bug inside.  There he was, in Subway, with a grasshopper dangling from his hand.

The lady behind the counter freaked out.  Apparently she didn't like insects.  To make a long story short, we had to chase the grasshopper around Subway before he ended up becoming part of a sandwich.  We caught him and sent him out the door.

"Go back to your field bug, or next time you won't be so lucky!" I said.

Poor grasshopper!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Harvesting Hail

We had a wicked storm blow though here.  In fact, one house in the neighborhood got struck by lightening and caught on fire.  Not so good. Lightening didn't strike our house, but we got pelted by some golf-ball sized hail.  It was crazy!

After the storm, my kids decided to check out the ice chunks that landed in our yard. 

"Mama, I need a cup," my son said. (Sound familiar?)

I fetched the cup and gave it to him.  My daughter wanted one, too.

A short while later,  each kid had a full cup of hail balls.

"What are you going to do with those?" I asked.

"Put them in the freezer," my son said.

So now I have a freezer full of  hail.  A word of caution to ya'll:  If you visit my pad, and I give you a drink, it may contain hail balls instead of ice cubes.   

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bubba's Tree House

Today I took my kids to Lowes to get some building supplies.  They've suddenly expressed an interest in wood working.  Even my daughter told me that she wants to be a carpenter.  I don't know what brought that on, but I'm going with the flow.

We walked up and down through the lumber section.

"Mama, I need this," my son said pulling out a large plywood board.

"Dude, there's no way I'm fitting that into my car.  Pick something smaller."

He frowned and picked something else.

To make a long story short, we left Lowes with a toolbox, a tool set, nails, and some wood boards.  I couldn't wait to see what kind of concoction they were going to come up with.

When we got home, my kids went to work.  A short while later, my son called me over to inspect his creation.  "Mama, look at my tree house."

The boy had balanced a plywood board over a tree branch in such a way that it was sturdy enough to sit on.  He arranged another one so that it looked like a roof.

"How do you like it?' he asked. 

"Pretty impressive.  You have a future as an architect."