The Great Candy Exchange

As my kids grow older I continue to be happily surprised by the number of opportunities I have to exploit them for my own personal benefit. 

Halloween is a perfect example. 

Of course, I could save myself the trouble of driving to seven different stores to assemble the world's most perfect DIY SCUBA diver costume and just buy a few bags of my own miniature candy bars.  However, I beleive the sooner my children are forced to experience public humiliation the easier their high school years will be. 

Plus I like teaching them valuable lessons like 'what's yours is mine so hand over your candy, homie.' 

Now we all know nothing beats a good mini Butterfinger.  While someone rubs your feet.  In a hot tub.  But I think we can also agree that nothing's worse than the crippling regret of indigestion that inevitably accompanies downing an entire bag of chocolate.  And, let's be honest, we all know you have no self-control when that pile of soon-to-be cellulite is staring you in the face. 

So what's a girl to do?

I'm sure the thought of parting with your hard earned candy is enough to leave you shuddering in the back of your pantry.  But listen up, saddle bags - it's for the greater good to get that stuff out of your house STAT.  And by greater good I mean the good of your ass.  And the good of keeping your kids' teeth from rotting out of their head if you choose to share. 

This Saturday (November 5) from 10am - 2pm you can bring your leftover (or new) unopened, packaged candy to the Delta Dental Health Theatre (727 North First Street downtown) and they'll send it to our troops overseas.  It's really a win/win - save money on liposuction while supporting our soldiers! 

There will be tons of fun stuff for the kids to ease the sting of relinquishing your candy - interactive games, face painting, balloon art, shows, prizes and a meet and greet with Dora, Diego, Buzz Lightyear, the Tooth Fairy and the Delta Dental Health Theatre characters.  You can also get one extra wear out of that Halloween costume you can't beleive you paid $20 for only two hours' use. 

Area schools, clubs and classrooms can get involved too - the organization that donates the most candy (by weight) will receive free admission to a 2012 show at the Delta Dental Health Theatre.  And the school with the highest attendance will receive a $250 donation to buy books for their library.

I hope to see you all there!  I'll be the one singing "I Will Always Love You" into the candy barrel.

My ghost story

The following is a 100% true story; a departure from my normal baby poop fodder in celebration of Halloween.  Have a happy and safe one!

When I was a kid my Dad worked nights.  Which was really a huge inconvenience for me because my Mom forced us all to eat dinner together before he left at 4:00, just as the neighborhood games were getting warmed up.  Before my lunch even had a chance to digest. 

It was the summer of 1983 - the year after the movie Poltergeist was released.  At 7 years old I was too young to see the movie but the glimpses I saw on TV gave me my first introduction to what a real-life ghost might look like. 

Sometimes when I think back to that night I wonder if those previews had some sort of influence on me, and perhaps tricked my mind into thinking it was seeing something it didn't.  But then I remember the sheer terror I felt and know that it was nothing someone so young could have fabricated.

Like usual, that night my Dad left for work after dinner. 

At 3:30am I was awakened by a noise downstairs.  It sounded like someone shuffling around.  Though he was usually in bed by 1:30, I assumed it was my Dad and I laid awake for a moment as a formality - hoping to put my mind at ease.  My ears strained as I desperately listened for another noise like the refrigerator door shutting or a familiar sounding muffled cough to make sure it wasn't a burglar. 

But I heard nothing more for several minutes.

Just as I convinced myself that it was the cat and started to drift back off to sleep, I heard a creak on the stairs that jerked me back awake.  We lived in a split level house, three bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper floor.  My room was at the end of the hall.  Again I laid in bed, a little frightened now, but still telling myself that it was just my Dad, up later than usual.

Then I heard what sounded like someone slowly dragging their feet down the hall.  The noise was so quiet that I had to hold my breath to hear it.

Like any good horror movie I couldn't just pull the covers up over my head and go back to sleep.  Though the thousands of times I've thought about this night I wish I would have.

I sat up in bed and flipped on the lamp sitting on my headboard.  Listening once again, I called out to the hallway, "Dad?" 

For a moment I heard the shuffling stop, then after a couple of seconds resume again, my ears barely able to make out the sound.  My heart was hammering in my chest as I prayed that my Dad would just pop his head in my doorway and tell me to go to sleep.

But what came through my doorway wasn't my Dad.

What came through my doorway had the appearance of an old man, but I knew it wasn't human.  I could see through it and it looked as if it was being projected into the air by an old movie projector, flashing the image on and off so quickly that it appeared to be moving in slow motion. 

It was dressed in a gray jogging suit, and was jogging through my door right toward me.  When we made eye contact it smiled and its mouth opened slightly as if it was trying to tell me something.

Of course I'd be damned if I was going to wait around to see what that something was.  I dove under my covers, pulling every stuffed animal I had close, hoping they would offer some sort of protection.

I don't know how long I laid under my covers awake; it seemed like forever.  I was terrified that if I pulled them back the ghost would be hovering above me and eat my face. 

I must have fallen asleep because I remember waking up and being ever so thankful that I saw a crack of sunlight through the blanket.  My mind replayed the events which happened a few hours before, and before I removed the covers from my head I told myself that it was probably just a dream.  A horrible nightmare that I was happy to escape.

I knew that when I pulled the covers back if my bedside light was still on that it was real.  Slowly I peeled them back, willing the light to be off.  Please let the light be off.

But it wasn't off.  It shone brighter than ever, cheerily greeting me with, "Well good mornin', there missy!  What do you think about that?  Not so scary now that it's light out but guess what?  It's going to be dark again before you know it!  What are you going to do then?"

I didn't know.  Seven years old is around the same time that you start questioning things that you had previously held as truth, like Santa Claus and if babies really came from magical fairies (what?  Isn't that what everybody's parents tell them?) so I wondered if this was one of those things about the world that adults would eventually disclose when you were old enough to handle it.  Was every kid visited by a jogging spirit in the night?  Would he bring me presents some day?  Would he eat my brain?

Of course when I tried to tell my Mom about it the next morning she brushed it off. 

"Oh Hannah, it was probably just a dream."

"No, my light was on... it was real."

"Mmm hmmm, right."

I wasn't surprised that she didn't believe me.  Besides, what was she supposed to do even if she did?  Call Ghostbusters? 

A few months later it was time to pick Halloween costumes.

"What do you want to be this year?"  My Mom asked.

"I don't know."

"Well, what's the scariest thing you can think of?"

"A jogger."

And so it was.

We lived in that house for 13 more years, and I never again saw anything like that, either in the house or since we moved. 

However, I kept a secret stash of cotton balls hidden in my jewelry box and put them in my ears every night because the faint yet persistent sound of feet shuffling across my carpet became maddening.       

The Mexican

On Saturday I was a speaker at Show Me The Blog, a regional blogging conference where bloggers come from miles around to talk about, well, blogging.     

My friend Danyelle asked me to speak back in March so I had plenty of time to daydream about breezily delivering joke after joke, leaving the crowd in chaotic hysterics and one woman in the back clutching her chest, letting out one final guttural laugh before falling over dead. 

Of course those images quickly ran for the hills, leaving me exposed and stark naked as I walked into the conference room and saw over 100 people pulling out their laptops and actually expecting something in return for their hard earned 75 bucks. 

And any shred of false confidence I gained by listening to Gangster's Paradise on repeat for the 45 minute drive to the hotel was dashed as my friend Stef, who spoke immediately before me, talked about how she's been featured in People, Better Homes and Gardens, writes for Paula Deen and has about 700,000 people visiting her site every month.

As she spoke my mind flipped through my own lame ass PowerPoint deck.

I mean... this should get a laugh, right? 

Or this?  It's funny because it's true, see?  SEE?  LAUGH DAMN YOU! 

I wondered if I could butter up my belly and silently shimmy out the bathroom window, into the parking lot and directly to the airport where I would fly to Minnesota and assume a new identity.  It was the best I could do considering I didn't have my passport and only $153 in my bank account. 

Lunch was sponsored by Hardees/Red Burrito, and was served right before my presentation.  The pregnant part of my brain got into a major fight with the nervous part of my brain about whether or not it was a good idea to dump a bunch of spicy beans onto my small intestine right before a major speech.  

As usual, the pregnant brain won the battle but lost the war as I gripped the handicapped rail, bit down on my cell phone and expelled something that meowed in the toilet moments before I was supposed to go on stage.  

Despite forgetting a key joke about Steve Jobs locking himself in the bathroom and crying for three hours because Bill Gates wrote something nasty about him, everything went well and I was even able to work in the phrase "tap the meat keg". 

A lingual urban legend only dreamed about by world-renowned orators everywhere.   


Of course the glow from my self-appointed celebrity status got a bit dim an hour after I got home as I was wiping someone else's snot off my pants. 

But it was a nice change from my every day Mom gig to be the loudest one in the room, if only for an hour.     



The word 'misery' can mean different things to different people.

For some it can mean being duck taped to a fence post while a donkey with screw drivers bolted to its hooves repeatedly kicks you over and over in the kidneys.   

For others it can mean being bombarded by flocks of strangers every time you venture into public and the subsequent looks of horror and disgust on those strangers' faces when their one common question is answered with "I've got two more months."

And for a lucky few of us it can mean a magnificent combination of both. 

I remember being uncomfortable with both of my previous pregnancies, but this is unreal. 

Moving is fine.  Moving is good.  As long as I'm putting one foot in front of the other we have no problems. 

The problems creep up when, like an idiot, I sit down for a moment to rest and my back has a chance to regroup and plot its revenge.  A revenge that varies in degrees of pain - pain which is directly proportionate to my level of activity: 

Carrying load of laundry up stairs = little crick in lower back while taking first few steps after setting down laundry basket

Carrying child up stairs = sharp pain originating in back then radiating down both legs and around to belly, resulting in yelp and limping for at least two minutes while holding back tears and questioning life choices

Walking around zoo for three hours, lifting two children into and out of stroller several times, holding children up because view of rhino was obscured by god damned fence, lifting onto and off of carousel from Hell, into and out of car seats, carrying both children up flight of stairs because were dead asleep in said car seats by the time we got home = oh my fucking lord I think I just shit out my spine.  Yes, yes I did just shit out my spine.  And both kidneys.  Please Jesus just kill me.  Maybe if I army crawl into bathroom I can push myself up enough to lap some water out of toilet to quench thirst.  No, no, that hurts too much.  Maybe if I lay on stomach I can use toes to inch into kitchen, find butcher knife and perform emergency c-section on self to alleviate pain.

Frankly, I share the strangers' sentiments of horror and disgust when I think about having seven weeks left.  Getting off the couch is an Olympic sport.  Turning over in bed takes 30 minutes and involves a levy system made out of sheets while I scream and bite my pillow. 

Plus my stomach is already so big, by the time it's time to deliver I'm going to look like Jabba the Hut, perched in a Barka Lounger wading in a puddle of skin while Nick feeds me pancakes.

Suggestions welcome.           


Tea for two



Me:  I read on the Internet that this stuff called red raspberry leaf tea is supposed to make you go into labor.

Nick:  (robble robble) Hog wash!  Stuff like that is a total gimmick.  It's not scientifically proven to do anything.  But go ahead and buy it if you want to waste your time and money.


Me:  You know, if you're trying to go into labor you might try red raspberry leaf tea.  I drank it for three days, and on the third day my water broke.

My Friend A:  Okay - I'll give it a whirl!

Nick (In The Background):  (robble robble) It was a coincidence!  It's a gimmick!


Text From A:  I'm having contractions as I'm drinking the tea!

Nick:  (robble robble) Coincidence!  Gimmick!


Me:  You know, my due date right now is December 10.

Nick:  Right.

Me:  But my ultrasounds have been measuring about a week and a half ahead of that, so it's probably more like December 1.

Nick:  Right.

Me:  And with Lila my water broke five days before my due date, which puts me in the red zone around November 26.

Nick:  Right.

Me:  Thanksgiving weekend.

Nick:  Right.

Me:  And you're working Thanksgiving weekend.

Nick:  Just don't drink any of that damned labor tea and we should be fine.


So two things.

1.  I decided that it was high time for Ellie to move on up to what I will reluctantly call a "big girl bed."  Reluctantly because I sound like a huge douche bag when I say things like that.  It's right up there with referring to myself in the third person as "Mommy" or using the word "potty". 

I made this move knowing that it had the potential to destroy the one good thing I have going in my life right now - a guaranteed three hours of afternoon peace to eat peanut butter and watch Bridezillas while she was caged in her crib.  However, my cheap ass also knew that it would make better financial sense to buy a "big girl bed" (aaaack it burns) than to buy a third crib and I'm doing my best to get everyone settled into a routine before baby #3 makes his/her appearance.  So I bit the bullet.

Now, if you've read this blog for any length of time you'll recall Ellie isn't big on what many people call "change" or "unfamiliar things" (see previous posts on breastfeeding, solid food, sippy cups, crawling, walking, her little sister, potty training, swimming, bounce houses, playground equipment, bugs, rocks, curtains, leaves, garden tools, shopping carts, dogs, crayons and potted plants). 

So I was prepared for war.  And by prepared I mean I had no idea what I was doing but I was pretty sure we were going to get into a fight.

But... to my surprise... we brought the bed into her room and she exclaimed "oh my gosh!", got in, pulled the covers up, and took a nap.

In the past week she's been batting about .500, which ain't too shabby.  If she's not totally ready to go to bed (which happens about 1/2 the time) we'll hear the pitter patter of little feet in the room above us and if we don't get up there quick enough we pay the price.

So far the price has included:  27 clean diapers in the Diaper Genie because apparently blankie needed 27 diaper changes, every dresser drawer being completely emptied and clothing strewn across the room because apparently blankie needed some new jammies, and walking into a cloud of Oust, concentrated on her hair and arms because apparently blankie was "stinky".

The other side effect I'm still trying to get used to is being jolted from a dead sleep at 7:00am by someone opening my eyelids and breathing heavily on my cheek.  It's happened twice, which equals a total of 2 weeks taken off not only my life, but the life of the gestating baby inside me who experiences a lightning bolt of adrenaline equivalent to me being chased through a forest by a grizzly every time that happens. 

And, 2.  I've decided that Ellie will never be potty trained.  I had planned on trying again this week, which I mentioned to my Mom and got this encouraging email:

Hey Hannie,
Good news.  I looked up the potty training by the moon and now until the 9th (Sunday) is the best time to start....and also to castrate your animals, just in case you need that info.  So good luck.
Love you,

Contrary to what the Farmer's Almanac recommends, I just don't think there will ever be an ideal time for me to chase Ellie around the house wiping up urine.  Also, I really don't see how trying to keep two little kids from crawling under the Wal-Mart bathroom stall while Ellie takes a leisurely dump is easier than changing her diaper at my earliest convenience. 

I think we all know what the answer is here.  Ellie's just going to have to learn how to change her own diapers. 

That is the new focus of my energy. 


So Lila sprouted her eye teeth before her front ones, making her look like the cutest little vampire just in time for Halloween. 

Let me show you a picture. 

Hang on, I think you can get a better idea if I angle her this way...

Wait wait - maybe we should go outside and get some natural light so you can really get the full impact of these chompers. 

Well, that picture really doesn't do them justice. 

Here now.. just lay back here and cooperate... show the people your fangs like a nice little baby.

 Okay... maybe if I tease her with food... 

LISTEN!  I'm trying to run a blog here, dammit!  Do you have any idea what kind of competition I'm up against to be funny?  Now open up wider... and be funny about it!

That's more like it.  See?  Isn't that hilarious?