Boo

Whenever my twitter notifications start blowing up it can mean only one thing – someone is talking about scaring people. And that someone is usually me, Cindy Warren, or Jessica Buttram. Who knew that social media would let those of us with a passion for frightening friends and family celebrate this well-honed skill together? ONLINE? It’s a technological miracle, really.

There are some among us (Ricky Anderson) who feel it is cruel to hide under your child’s bed and jump out unexpectedly, or lurk around a corner as they exit the washroom unaware that you are about to pounce. To those people we say “it builds character.”

And so, in honour of Ricky and Halloween we will share our favourite frightening stories with you, kind readers.

Be afraid

Let us begin with Scream Queen, Jessica.

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There’s something so rewarding about crouching in the dark lying in wait so long your muscles start to cramp and you suddenly have to pee like SO BAD. I never have to pee as urgently as I do about ten seconds into hiding.

My son is my favorite to scare. He’s ten now, and naturally skeptical. My daughter, age four and a total wimp, just cries when I, or her brother, try to scare her. Just the other day when I picked her up from preschool, I hid in the girls’ bathroom right outside her classroom while she grabbed her stuff from her cubby, and before I could even get a good crouch going she ran out into the hallway in hysterics. I’m hopeful she’ll outgrow that reaction, but meanwhile, scaring my daughter makes me feel like the terrible parent I am for hiding in the dark peeing myself.

And my husband is virtually unscareable. He’s the worst. The one time I can remember actually successfully scaring him, he just sat up a little and said, “you scared me,” so the payoff isn’t even worth it.

But my son is a FANTASTIC mark. His reactions are emotional GOLD. He is the reason just last week I crouched behind his dirty, smelly basket of laundry for like, TEN MINUTES waiting. He’s the reason I’ve bought a pack of adult diapers. (Just kidding.)

I’ve tried to get it on video for this post, but the lighting is always pretty bad, and the video always turns out shaky from trying not to pee. So here’s just a little taste of the joy I experience.

Again, he is ten, skeptical, and alllllll prepubescent boy. Timing is EV-ER-Y-THING with his scares. It has to be in a dark or dimly lit room, and I have to space them out just right so he doesn’t expect them.

Frightened rage looks a bit like this.

Frightened rage looks a bit like this.

I realize everyone responds to fear differently. Like, I squeal and literally jump in the air. My daughter has an emotional breakdown. My husband shatters my dreams of being a professional scarer.

My son, however, screams and tenses up with a pure and unapologetic RAGE. The fury that flashes across his little face is AMAZING. I have no doubt he is more Fight than Flight, and if he were to ever TRULY believe there was a monster in his closet, I guarantee he would instinctively try to karate kick it before running away. In the split second before he realizes it’s just his sweet mother lurching out at him, I imagine his thoughts going, “I AM SO TERRIFIED AND THAT MAKES ME SO ANGRY oh wait, —it’s just you, that was hilarious, let’s do it to Dad.”

I look at it as reward for all the thankless jobs that come with parenting.

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Dear readers, Jessica is right that scaring husbands is challenging, but with commitment and stealth it can be done. Here’s my story.

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When I go for the scare, I don’t shy away from the long game. I’ve been known to fall asleep in my hiding spot on more than one occasion. Limbs going numb will not deter me. I will lie in wait with the patience of Job.

Keep looking, you'll see it in a second.

Keep looking, you’ll see it in a second.

One evening, Bearded Husband came home late from his baseball game and clearly assumed I was already in bed. I heard him unlock the front door and panicked at all the possibilities at my disposal. Do I lie on the floor and play dead? Sit on the couch and silently turn the light on? SO MANY OPTIONS. My indecisiveness forced my hand – I lurked in the living room watching him unpack his gear hoping he would glance over and then be terrified by my silent presence.

No. He was oblivious. So I did the obvious thing and just casually followed him into the kitchen and whispered, “how was your game?”

Turns out he has the same terrified range as Buttram’s son, and IT WAS AMAZING. His revenge was swift, but it was completely worth it. And rest assured, he had it coming.

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This tribute is wrapped up with perhaps the best spontaneous scaring I have heard and I tip my hat to the one and only, Cindy Warren. I wish she lived closer so I could shake her hand.

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If you can tour a church building at 9:00 PM with friends, and NOT take advantage of the opportunity to scare said friends, then we need to have a conversation about missed opportunities. My church was given a building this year, completely free of charge. One night, before it was officially ours, the pastor took several of us on a tour of the building.

Churches are not creepy after dark. Not at all.

As we walked around in the dark (why did we not have lights on- I really couldn’t tell you), I wandered off on my own and happened upon the nursery before the others did. There it was in all its glory, a terrifying room full of cribs, with the light from the moon (or maybe from street lights- who can say) coming through the window.

So I did what any good person would do. I sat in the lone rocking chair and slowly rocked while staring at the door looking like the ghost of nursery workers past. I heard the lighthearted discussion as my friends got closer.

“What’s this room? Ohhhh, it’s the nursery. That’s so creepy…I don’t wanna go in…”

*unsuspecting friends slowly push door open*

They scanned the dark room from right to left, and landed on the moving rocking chair lastly. There was screaming and genuine fear. It was glorious.

Y’all- greater joy hath no me than this: to watch my friends fight each other to get out the door the quickest.

My only regret is that I didn’t video their reactions…and that they didn’t swear. A swear is the only thing that would’ve made it better.

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We have one year, ladies – to accomplish the ultimate scare, preferably on video.

 


Why, it’s your Uncle Q, of course

Unknown

Why is this guy on so many of our boxes?

Oh, him? That’s your Uncle Q – don’t you remember?

He’s our uncle? 

Yes. He’s really into oatmeal. We used to go camping all the time together.

Really?

He’s a pretty good guy except he always brings that terrible layered Jell-o salad to everything. Uncle Q, guys, stop pretending you don’t know him.

Well, maybe we’ve seen him. Was he at the big party in the park that time?

YES – and he was laughing at all his own jokes, wait, no, that was your other uncle.

Jell-o salad? The kind with all the different colours? 

That’s the one. And that’s why we stopped inviting him to Christmas.

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Sometimes, I CAN’T HELP MYSELF.

#YearofJan FOREVER


Dancing Flowers

“Guess I can mentally plan my to-do list,” I thought as I bemoaned my driving decision.  Of course I had chosen the route to the store that was under construction.

Library, bank, maybe the dollar store – do we have time for the dollar store? What did I need to get there again?

A tiny voice pulled me out of my reverie. “Look! Mommy, the flowers are dancing!”

I turned my gaze in his direction and discovered he was focussed on the weeds at the side of the road that were flapping in the wind.

“They like this song, too! They are dancing. Like me!” he said with an added little wiggle.images

I wasn’t particularly stressed out or harried that morning, but his preschooler observation derailed me from my “gotta-get-it-all-done” attitude of the day. The days when I keep looking toward the next thing. You know what I’m talking about. When you aren’t present in the current moment, but rather jump two steps ahead to your other tasks or obligations.

Life is busy, and some days are more hectic than others. Seasons of life bring their own challenges and obstacles. But with these hurdles also come opportunities for joy and wonder. It is easy to let the stress and pressure dictate our responses and attitudes, but it is so much better when we don’t.

I can choose to look toward the next chore on my list, the next meal I need to plan, the next load of dishes I need to wash, or I can take a breath, pause, and put on the lens of a three-year-old. Try it with me, you’ll be amazed at what you see.

Rainbows in the patch of oil in a parking lot.

Birds perched at the highest tip of a tree.

Leaf impressions left on the sidewalk.

A bean bag chair can be a pirate ship, beware the alligators on the bedroom carpet.

The floor really is hot lava.

The farting noise when you close the garage door.

The realization that you can be invisible just by closing your eyes.

The way a stick takes on magical properties and transforms into endless possibilities.

When I let these moments take priority in my day I smile more, feel more at ease and calmer. Yes, those chores need doing, children need to be fed, toilets need cleaning (repeatedly), but they needn’t be my focus.

Every day we make choices. We can choose to begrudge the extra few minutes that road repairs cause or we can watch the flowers dancing.

I see them, you’re right – they are  dancing. Thank you.

 


My New BFF

Being home full time is great, but truthfully it can also be lonely. The majority of my day is spent with a three-year-old. While he is a decent conversationalist, the content is somewhat lacking. I can only discuss the plot of “Umizoomi” for so long and he’s really not that interested in “Friday Night Lights”.

That’s why I made a new friend. I highly recommend it if you, too, are a stay-at-home-parent. How else can you make the most of nap time? By exercising or resting? No, having your own personal companion keeps you alert and helps your productivity level stay high.

There were many options for a new friend, but I finally decided on this guy, and let me tell you it has been amazing.

photo 1-17

He is an excellent listener

We do all kinds of things together.

He has excellent meal ideas

He has innovative meal ideas

We have so much in common

We even take our coffee the same - black, of course.

We even take our coffee the same – black, of course.

He's become a bit of a muse

He’s become a bit of a muse for me

Chores are no longer tedious.

He is a whiz at folding fitted sheets, I don't know how he does it.

He is a whiz at folding fitted sheets, I don’t know how he does it.

A good friend takes on those tasks you might find overwhelming.

His accounting skills are astounding.

His accounting skills are astounding.

Life is short and the days pass quickly, make the most of them with your own special friend.


Don’t Be Creepy

“Yes! You’re right, there’s your leader from day camp last week. Would you like to say ‘hi?”

Superhero socks are the perfect conversation-starter

Socks are the perfect conversation-starter

Off we went so that my outgoing five-year-old could see his leader from the previous week whom he adored.

He got about four feet away and clammed up, barely making eye contact.

“Why don’t you show her your new socks, buddy?” I suggested as a way to break the ice.

He quietly lifted up his leg so she could see his Ironman socks. She feigned the exact right level of enthusiasm, but my little guy was still acting shy. We headed back to our group of friends to continue our conversation.

As we left he piped up, “her voice sounds different.”

“Maybe she has a cold or something.”

A few moments later he was making eyes at her again from behind my legs.

“Would you like to go back over?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Alright, but this time you need to say something to Hollie otherwise it’s just creepy.”

So off we went again and he belted out a hearty “HELLO” and scurried away, giggling nervously (not creepy at all, nicely done).

It was as I trailing behind him that another friend quietly whispered in my ear, “um, that’s not Hollie, it’s Nicole.”

Of course it was, I knew it all along.

No, not creepy at all.

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No names have been changed as the only identity needing protection is mine.


Who’s the Biggest Loser Now?

It’s time to face reality: I am not going to magically lose the lingering bit of baby weight. Our youngest is three now, so I’ve definitely given it enough time. I’ve tried all the popular fads: M&Ms Neolithic, The Oreo Fast, The Hershey AND the Cadbury, all for naught. The scale has not budged (in either direction, so there’s that). I’ve accepted this reality and have decided to take control of my health and fitness.

Yes, I’ve tried this before with varying results. I almost killed Bearded Husband with my bare hands when we attempted the P90X regime (and I would have done it, too, if I could have lifted my arms above my waist). Jillian Michaels can go shred herself. And Denise Austin‘s voice makes me sleepy.

That’s why I’ve decided to hire a personal trainer. I think the dividends will be worth it and I have found the perfect candidate.

Wish me luck!

Photo

Don't let the loose dress fool you - she's ripped.

I like my role models to demonstrate obtainable goals

Photo courtesy of Man on the Street, TW.


Lunchtime Made Easy

Making lunches is a lot of work.

Well, making lunches, breakfast, and dinner is a lot of work.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, morning snack, afternoon snack – so much time preparing food. And then there’s the clean up. My knees are developing arthritis from the amount of time I’m spending at the kitchen counter. I might invest in orthotic indoor shoes.

Let’s not even start in about the grocery budget.

So where does every parent go when they are looking for meal ideas for their family? Pinterest, of course. But what I found there was not time-saving lunch ideas. Nooooo. Instead I discovered a cornucopia of pins dedicated to sandwiches cut into fun shapes, fruit kabobs, and smiley faced vegetables. Um, I was looking to do less preparation. Who are these people?

As a public service, I decided to share my own great tips for Easy Lunches On A Budget. Here’s my first instalment.

Easy Mac and Cheese Your Kids Will Love.

1. Get two boxes, you don’t want to run short. Your kids are counting on you.

Two boxes lets them know you really care

Two boxes lets them know you really care

2. Prepare as directed. But why not go with 5% cream? It adds just that hint of decadence your family craves.photo 1

3. Serve. But not in those plastic bowls from IKEA. The real dishes, mom. Because nothing says “your worth it” like breakable dishware.

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4. Here’s a secret I debated about posting. But it’s too good not to share. Fresh-ground paper for a gourmet twist.

Just like grandpa used to make when he was left in charge.

Just like Grandpa used to make when he was left in charge.

Future Posts Coming Soon: Frozen Pizza – Not Just for Dinner, Bologna and You, and Sometimes Leftovers Are Your Friend.


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