Month: October 2014

Hauntiest Halloween

Ten years ago today was the hauntiest of all Halloweens. It was the day my life shattered. If you’ve read my book or know me, you know the whole sordid story. Suffice it to say, nothing is scarier than real life terror. I’ve been thinking all day about the ten years that have slowly separated that Halloween from this one – about the exhausting effort spent on communicating, learning, investing, crying, praying, and, sometimes, simply being. It wasn’t glamorous. It was clunky and rock-bottom messy. It haunts me still.

There were certainly times over these past years that one of us did or said something amazing, but mostly there were just times where one of us just did or said something. Small things. Simple things. There has not been a lot of phenomenal reactions between the two of us, but there has been a lot of eyebrow raising and shoulder shrugging. Mike has done a lot of being around which caused me to do a lot of second looking.

So I woke up today considering that most terrible Halloween and all of the ones in-between. Has it all been worth it?

kids in costumes

There was the Halloween when both of my girls began throwing up before we reached the first house, so I had a cheerleader throwing up in the bathroom upstairs and a witch throwing up in the bathroom downstairs, while Mike took the two Knights in armor to gather candy, which they volunteered to share with their sick sisters, as knights do.

And there was the Halloween when we took the girls to gather candy and returned home to find that Drake and Josiah had filled the candy bucket with lightbulbs and raw potatoes and had spent the evening laughing hysterically when kids took them.

And it seems fitting that tonight all of us will return from wherever we are to gather on the couch and watch Parenthood. The one hour show will take us two hours due to much commentating and differing of opinions. We will eat pizza and popcorn together and laugh at each other’s jokes. We will groan at the plot twists and shout our opinions.

When I consider our Halloweens I see the magic. It’s some of the haunting kind, but mostly the holy kind.



Smelly Hands

“Wow!” Mike said as we sat down to eat supper. “Something smells really strong!”

“Oh, that’s me,” Drake answered.

“Did you smell this way all day at school?” Mike asked.

“No. It just happened a little while ago,” Drake said, loading his plate with spaghetti noodles.smelly hands

“Weren’t you up in your room alone doing homework?” Mike asked.


“What happened?” Mike asked as he passed the garlic bread. “Did you jump on a cologne grenade?”

“No, I put cologne all over my hands and then lit it on fire.”

Well, that explains it then.

Highway S’mores

Highway bonfire“Hey,” I told my family at supper one day back in April, “did you guys see how the construction crew cut down all the trees and piled them in the grassy area between the exit and the highway? I think they are going to burn them, and when they do I will send out a text message and you guys must stop whatever you are doing and we will have a Middle of the Highway S’more Fest!”

I checked often, but the entire summer passed and the pile of trees remained. Until Friday! I saw the billow of smoke reaching the clouds and excitedly raced the half mile from my house to the construction site. I felt giddy as I texted my loved ones that the bonfire was a go.

Keep in mind that this was not a regular bonfire. It was a fire comprised of a forest. A real forest dug up by huge trucks and piled into a mountain of woody fire potential. Ya’ll, this fire was enormous. So huge, I had to speak southern. Seriously – it dwarfed a pickup truck.

Due to responsibly finishing work and such nonsense, we had to wait until late at night to commence Project roasting marshmallows by huge bonfireHighway S’mores. We parked our car just beyond the barriers and hiked in the dark black of country nighttime from the exit ramp to the inferno.

Here’s something I didn’t know: those spaces between the exit ramps and the highway are a much longer hike than you’d expect. In the dark. Tripping over  muddy  tractor tracks. And if you happen to leave the house more concerned about gathering s’more ingredients than putting on real shoes instead of slippers.

Also, huge inferno fires are hard to get close to. I may or may not have melted a good pair of slippers by stepping on what was apparently hot ashes.

But, I’ve never had better s’mores!


Mike and Sharla on a date“Let’s open the gifts now,” I told Mike, too excited to wait.

“Here? In the car?” he asked.

“Sure. Why not?” I said, grabbing the fat envelope with my name on it and ripping it open.

“It’s the book you’ve been wanting,” he explained when I stared at the unfolded paper. “It’s not out yet, so I preordered it and printed the receipt. Do you like it?”

“Um, I like it so much that I also preordered it for you.”

“What?” he asked. “This exact book?”

“This exact one,” I confirmed. “Oh well,” I said after several moments of stunned silence. “I got you two gifts, so just ignore the folded paper when you open your present.”

“Okay,” he said, pulling tissue paper out of of the red gift bag.

“You know what it is, right?” I asked when he stared silently at the DVD cover. “You’ve wanted this movie for a long time.”

“Yeah,” he whispered. “It’s just that I bought it for you this morning.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, I don’t know, but I’m a little freaked out right now.”

“Maybe we should eat.”


“Twenty-three years,” Mike said as our salads arrived. “It seems like someone should give us a Lifetime Achievement Award for making it this long.”

“I know!” I agreed, slicing into my delectable steak. “I’m just sad there aren’t any movies out right now that we really want to see. I hate going to one that we aren’t excited about.”

“Well, we could skip the movie and just rent one from Redbox.”

“And watch it at home with a house full of people?” I asked. “Not very romantic.”

“We could put a Do Not Disturb note on the door to the TV room.”

“Oh, yeah! Then we could watch a better movie in our pajamas!”


“Do you find it hard to focus on the movie when right out that window we can see the kids shooting off fireworks?” I asked Mike, snuggled under a fluffy blanket.

“It’s a bit distracting,” he admitted. “I’m sure they will be fine, though.”

“They were hoping to watch Dr. Who until we claimed the TV.”

“Do you want to call them in and we can all watch it together?”


Twenty minutes later Mike passed bowls of popcorn to all the teenagers crowded onto the couch, and I got out extra blankets.

“Hey,” Mike nudged me as the Dr. Who theme music filled the room, “there are your Lifetime Achievement Awards.” I looked at the row of kids tucked under blankets, sharing popcorn, smelling of outdoors, fire, and sweat.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “there they are. Happy Anniversary.”



I Owe Someone Food

My dog is all kinds of naughty. And his blue eyes mesmerize us into letting him get by with most of it. I know, though, that he is a

Arrow looking scary

bit scary. He looks large and powerful. When people see him, they think he might be a wolf. Then they think he might eat them. They don’t know that he lets babies pull his fur and poke him in the eye or that he runs terrified at the bark of tiny dogs. In fact, he ran away from a min pin so fast one time that he sprained his ankle. So, we’ve been keeping him chained up lately. There is a lot of construction going on near our house, and we don’t want him to frighten the workers. Also, we don’t want him to return home with cement plastered all over his paws and legs. Again.

He wants to run though, so he sneaks out any chance he finds. Which he did recently when we had a house full of door-leaving-open teenagers. I noticed him in our front yard a few hours later, and I was happy to see that he was mostly free of cement. I noticed that he was guarding something. I walked toward him and he picked up his treasure in his mouth and pranced proudly toward me. As he walked toward me across the yard, he pranced prouder and prouder. Wondering what he may have killed and worried that it might be a cute rabbit, I didn’t want to look at what he laid at my feet. Until I saw what it was.

A peeled orange in a ziplock baggie.

I’m sure that whatever construction worker he took it from was terrified. And hungry.