Real life is scarier than Halloween.

So here are the undoubtedly anticipated pictures of my adorable children and their Halloween antics.


Despite the fact that Natalie wanted to be carried through most of the trick-or-treating trek, and that Clark had the leftover flu so he trick-or-treated in isolation with Matt instead of joining our group of friends, most of the night went off without a hitch.

At the suggestion of a friend, we implemented the “Great Pumpkin” this year.

The Great Pumpkin PatchThe kids put half of their candy in a bowl and left it out on the deck for the Great Pumpkin, who takes it away and leaves them a toy while they sleep.  I know you’re a smart bunch and probably don’t need a lot of clarification on this, but the Great Pumpkin is really the new name for my rear end after I finish eating all their candy.

So, on to the really scary stuff.

Grant got his card flipped at school.  There is a classroom management chart system where each child’s name has a plastic pocket next to it with green, yellow, and red laminated cards in it.  If you stay on green all day for good behavior, you pick up a little ticket at the end of the day for a weekly class lottery, most likely for some treasured prize like a glittery pencil.  Getting your card flipped to yellow indicates a warning, and a red card basically means that next week you and your family will be featured on Supernanny.  Well, let me remind you that Grant is an oldest child and obsessive rule keeper, enforcer, and pleaser.  Every day he reports to me that he stayed on green all day and he is quite proud of his consistent model behavior.  Yesterday, his card got flipped.  He forgot his science homework on the kitchen table, so he got a warning for his obvious academic mediocrity.  (I really don’t care about the warning, I think it’s good for him because I reminded him several times to put all his things in his backpack but he was just putzing around.)  However, if you are a first grader with a personality like Grant’s, this is the worst possible thing that could happen in your life.  It’s like he had to come home from school, look me in the eye, and confess that he’d become a serial killer and would now spend the rest of his life in prison.  Anyway, needless to say, Grant’s hopes and dreams have all been crushed and he and I may need counseling to get past this great tragedy.

On to Clark’s scary news.  He had the flu (He’s #4 out of the five of us, and Matt went down last night).  You’ve heard of “Return of the Swamp Monster?” Well, that’s the new subtitle for Clark’s nose, and a new sequel comes out about every 3-5 minutes.  We’re now on Return of the Swamp Monster LXXVIII (I think I forgot how roman numerals work.  Somebody flip my card.)  Eye hath not seen nor can mind comprehend the copious collection of green goopy slime that comes out of Clark’s nose.  Even with excessive tissue use and cleaning there is still a crusty residue at all times.  It’s truly amazing.  Think this, but on his face always:flubber

Now, Natalie’s scary story may have left her scarred for life.  I’m not kidding.  Last night I took the boys to their swimming lessons.  Natalie held my hand and we walked along the side of the pool to where I put our things down and sat on the bench to help the boys undress down to their swim trunks.  About 15 seconds later, I looked up and I could not see Natalie anywhere.  My mom heart sank and I panicked a little.  I stood up and spun around in circles looking for her.  “Where’s Natalie?  Grant, where did she go?”  I was scanning pool, hot tubs, spas all within feet of me and freaking out that she had literally just disappeared.  I started frantically asking the people around me, “Did you see my little girl?  I lost her.  She’s gone.  She was just right here.”  At that point I turned around and saw her walking up to the glass door a few feet away, making her exit from the Men’s. Locker. Room.  She put her little hands on the glass like “Get me out of here,” and I ran over, opened the door and scooped her up.  I hugged her tight, and she buried her little face in my shoulder and squeezed my neck.  For a long time.  I kept trying to talk to her about what happened but she would NOT look at me and just hid her face in my chest.  Finally by bedtime, she was able to admit through weak nodding that she had seen naked boys and then turned around to try and find her mother.  Poor kid.  *I* would be scarred for life if I accidentally walked into the men’s locker room at the gym, and I’m a few ripe years beyond two.  Sigh.  Oh well, maybe this will delay her dating life.  In that case, I’ll let it go.

And Matt’s got the flu now.  I just took him his morning dose of Day-Quil in bed.

As for me, if the Thriller video were remade, being acted out entirely by dishes, that gives you an idea of what my kitchen looks like right now.  So I’m going to be brave, pull up my mom zombie pants and get to work.

Anything scary going on in your family right now?


24 thoughts on “Real life is scarier than Halloween.

  1. Is it bad that this is my favorite post of yours lately? Too funny. You clever girl, you.
    Poor Natalie. Yikes. I thought you would say she fell in the pool, but naked men is so, so much worse.
    Hope Matt heals quickly. If your house is much like mine, sometimes the daddy has a harder time with the Swamp Monster than anyone else. 😦

  2. Poor Natalie! I’d be scarred for life too (ditto the age thing–even at my age–20something???–shirtless men give me the heebie-jeebies!). Copious amounts of princess movies or dolls or coloring books are the best balm for dealing with the male reality. (bleagh bleagh bleagh!!!)

    Scariest thing in my life is a deadline I’ve set for myself. I’ve already let one stomp on my head and the other is about to.

    Then there is the school form that I (bolded, underlined, italicized) forgot to send with middle school daughter today (it needed a check and some other information that only moms possess). Flip my card, please, and I’ll go sit in the corner! In my defense, the form got buried under the piles of other papers on the kitchen counter. It didn’t have a chance in heck to be remembered. Sigh.

  3. What an incredibly funny post! The scary things happening in my family right now are: cranky toddler, cranky toddler and cranky toddler. He’s not even sick, so I don’t understand!!! (Must be all the evil Halloween candy getting to him!)

  4. My son’s school, several thousand miles away from yours, also does the card flip thing. Dallin is in first grade and also recently had to flip his card for the first time ever. (and hopefully the last!) He was very tramatized! He got in the car with a look of shame saying “Yellow has good character too!” (They also take part in a “Character Counts” program.) It was a hard experience for both of us, but he has been even better since! Good luck!

  5. The smell in the men’s locker room is enough to scar any female for the rest of her living years. So sorry that she wandered in there! Not much scary happening over here, although the kids keep fighting over candy. We took it away from them last night after they started crying and arguing. Maybe the great pumpkin idea is something we should have done.

  6. Oh dear. Naked boys are scary for sure!

    When my oldest was in the first grade, he got his name on the board for the first time, and was so distraught, I had to go to school and pick him up. I found him in the principle’s office, crying his little eyes out… his teacher felt so bad! He’s a big, bad third grader now, and not quite so sensitive, but he still HATES to get in trouble. On the other hand, my second son gets his name on the board all the time and couldn’t care less… Funny how different they are!

  7. Oh, dear. Poor Natalie!

    I remember the first (and only, I think) time that Bria got her card flipped. She was in Kindergarten and we had a violin lesson right after school. She was really struggling in violin, so I stood up and asked her what was wrong and she just broke down in tears, “I got my card flipped to double red today.” Waiiiiillllll. So much for the lesson, and she was so scarred, she doesn’t dare step a toe out of line or she might get her card flipped or her token moved or whatever.

  8. Oh my! I have to say I can’t top this. Not today anyway. Wow! I am sitting stunned at your situation, and feel that I have a little bit under my belt, so why am I shocked? Maybe it’s the zombie pants.
    Don’t worry about the slime. Soon, your furniture will all match a nice shiny green color 🙂
    Hang in there!!!!

  9. 1. I WISH James worried about getting his card flipped. He always gets “outstanding” behavior reports but it wouldn’t bother him in the least if he didn’t. Interesting kid.

    2. Oh, poor Natalie. I actually think the less you talk about it (unless she brings it up), the sooner she’ll forget. That’s my approach to life. That’s totally healthy, right?

  10. I’m glad Hannah’s school does positive reinforcement. They get Grabbers for being good. Because she would totally be scarred if she had to do the whole green-yellow-red thing. That works for some kids, but for the perfectionists, it’s just added stress.

  11. I have two fluey kids at home with me and I keep telling them this is the consequence for eating candy before they got home from trick or treating.

    It is probably not so but what the heck… it may stop them from doing it in future.

  12. Still laughing over The Great Pumpkin Formerly Known as My Rear End ….

    So let’s see. Yes, we did the flu (but only two of us), and we just got over sixth disease. Like the flu, but with an awesome, freaky looking rash. Good times.

  13. Those flippin’ cards. It’s enough to give any child an inferiority complex! Red, yellow and green are bad enough, but oh, no, our school decided they needed pink and purple and black and brown and orange and lime green. Not even kidding here. Those kids are flipping cards every ten minutes! It really flips me off!

    Sorry about the strong language. But here’s a funny from school that I love: they actually take the kindergartner’s on a ‘field trip’ to the opposite gender bathrooms. All the boys have the opportunity to see what the girls’ bathroom looks like, and all the girls learn about urinals. It’s an interesting introduction to human anatomy, five year old style. But at least they make sure the bathrooms are empty before they go in…

  14. Oh the cards! Our school decided to change the colors too. I guess red was getting resentful of always being the “bad” color…political correctness even for colors. So when my boy comes home and says I was purple…I have no idea what that means. Oh well.

    Also they have started putting M, P or N on each paper instead of a check or a star…(M meets grade level, P Making Progress N not meeting grade level and needs support) so I need a code cheat sheet to decifer my kids kindergarten homework…

  15. I too would have been traumatized by the card flipping. I’m still dealing with the ramifications of a 5th grade teacher writing this on a report: You have met the requirements for an A, but I expected much more of you.

    She could have given me and F and I wouldn’t have felt any worse.

    I want to see the remake of Thriller starring your dishes. Sounds cool.

  16. Hi–

    I have been enjoying your posts silently, but I had to add my two cents about the card flipping. I too, have a pedantic first grade boy and his life would be *destroyed* if his card got changed from green. My husband and I have actually discussed the merits of asking his teacher to find some minor infraction worthy of card-flipping just to get it over with. The anticipation is killing him. Better a mental breakdown with tears in first grade than with illegal drugs in college, I say.

    Love your blog!

  17. Oh no, Poor Natalie!! That is really horrible. Kind of reminds me of the time that my little friend and I found a blue phamplet in her brother’s room entitled, “Am I normal? For Boys.”
    Except Natalie’s experience must have been much more traumatic!

  18. hey Steph

    You always make me laugh with your story telling. We had the swine flu while we were on vacation in San Diego. Thankfully, the kids were okay with being drugged up to visit Legoland and the American Girl store.

    They were a little droopy walking over the 1600 acres at San Diego Zoo, but they took some great pictures and enjoyed the small breaks on the sky chair and express bus.

    We are now mostly healthy, but Madeline threw up last night (I didn’t even know because when they turn 10 it’s all self contained !!!!!) But she still wanted to go to school so I left that decision up to her! Keep up the good work!

  19. I am feeling the odd mom out. We celebrated the first time my son didn’t get his card flipped. And when he went a week? We were ecstatic. By the end of the year it had become a rarity, but early on- every single day.

    Also, I hope none of those boys were traumatized, either! I have lost my children near water before. It is such a horrid feeling. I’m glad she was safe and sound.

  20. We are working to promote independence around our house this month. I’m trying hard — focusing my scripture study on it, asking for help on my blog.
    My oldest just lost 3 sweatshirts/jackets.
    I hear you on needing to organize their life a bit.
    Boys… {Sigh}

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