The Smell of the Barn

The barn of my dreams.

The barn of my dreams.



Today, I’m jumping into Finish the Sentence Friday, so I’m writing from a prompt.

Today’s prompt: If I could live anywhere, I’d live…

On a farm. Specifically the farm my grandparents owned when I was growing up.

I’ve looked. It’s not for sale. Maybe some day it will be. And maybe the day it comes up for sale I will just happen to be driving by, with one of those giant cardboard checks from the lottery in my backseat. Hey, you never know.

My grandparents didn’t live there. My parents, grandparents, and aunt kept their horses there, and my aunt and uncle lived in the old white farmhouse shaded by enormous trees. My grandfather had some cattle, and there were some chickens, but it wasn’t a livestock farm.

We spent summer evenings and weekends at that farm. My parents mucked stalls, repaired fences, and groomed horses while we waded in the shallow creek, overturning rocks to look for the crawdads that would dart just out of our reach. We climbed trees, tried to catch the chickens, and played in the barns. Many evenings we would drive back home after dark, a summer breeze blowing in the window of the station wagon, falling asleep to the sound of the Cincinnati Reds game on the radio.

While we helped out in the barn and groomed the horses sometimes, the horses were really for the adults. They had enough injuries to know how risky riding and caring for horses could be. My parents also knew full well how expensive the care of horses could get, so although we grew up around the horses, we were never encouraged to pursue riding as a hobby. We rode on occasion, usually at the encouragement of my daredevil grandfather, but for the most part the equestrian life was the grown-ups’ domain. Except for my cousin.

I can remember driving up the long road to the farm and seeing my wild child cousin, no more than 9 at the time, riding bareback through the farm fields with her hair flying out behind her. She was as comfortable on a horse as she was on two feet, often leaping onto the horse’s back straight over the rump like you see in the movies. We were close then, my cousin, my sister, and I.

But life marches on, and adult decisions were made that didn’t involve us kids. Sometime in my early teens, my grandparents sold the farm and all of the horses and de-camped to a condo in Florida. My parents gave up the riding life, finding golf to be a less dangerous pursuit. I did learn to ride passably, but it was at summer camp, not at the hands of my parents. My aunt, uncle, and cousin moved out of state so my uncle could take a high level corporate job, and we rarely saw them any more. At some point after that, my cousin began to founder. Despite my aunt and uncle’s efforts to help her, she is now lost to us.

My memories of that time in my life are like the Super 8 movies we took back then. Fuzzy and out of focus in spots, and soundless, but bright. Everything is bathed in sunlight.  And we were all together.

To this day, the smell of a horse barn is like a tonic to me. Leather tack, hay, saddle soap, grain, and the antiseptic smell of Absorbine Junior takes me back to my childhood and a simpler time. My kids don’t understand it yet, and they think it’s funny when I drive by a stable and roll down the windows to inhale the scent. But they’ve all been on horseback, and like the rest of my family they are comfortable there.

My  hope is that someday I can buy a small farm. (I’d love for it to be the family compound, with a few houses on the property so my entire extended can all live there, but somehow I don’t think my parents share my utopian vision  of togetherness. Hmph. Fine.)   We may live there, we may not. But with a couple of horses, my kids and I can all work side by side until sunset, and drive home dusty and smelling like the barn. And I’ll have the Reds game on the radio.

Spring Break by the Numbers

I-75 sign

Our 900 mile yellow brick road to warmth and sunshine.


The little cast of Notes from the Shallow End escaped frigid Ohio temperatures and  headed south  last week, just in the nick of time as we were all on the verge of turning into the Donner party. Great fun was had by all. Here’s a summary of our trip, by the numbers:


Number of Miles Traveled: 1800

Number of electronic devices brought on trip: 10

Number of DVDs brought: 12

Number of minutes the DVD player actually worked: 2

Number of times I was asked “Can I use your Nook?”: 56

Number of times phrase “How many more hours until we get there?” was uttered: 6,418

Number of sibling squabbles: 446

Number of times “He’s/She’s touching me!” was yelled: 209

Number of times Taylor Swift cd listened to: 6

Number of times VP thought it was okay to stop: 1

Number of actual stops: 9

Number of bags of snacks eaten: 10

Number of different hotels stayed in: 4

Number  of times my sandal-clad toes were stepped on by my children while waiting in line for rides at a theme park: 32

Number of tween girls at theme parks spotted wearing  t-shirts with inappropriate slogans: countless (These were t-shirts that said things like “I Got Crabs from Dirty Dick’s” and “It’s Not a Party Until the Sausage Comes Out”.  Um, darlings, did no one check to see that you were appropriately dressed before you left the house? I suppose not. See you on the cast of Teen Mom Season 9.)

Number of water slides I went on: 2

Approximate decibel level of my screams on said water slides: 125

Number of water slides I will go on in the future: 0

Number of times my son was told not to run around the pool: 5

Number of band-aids used on my son after he fell as a result of running around the pool: 5


Make no mistake,  in case you think I didn’t have a good time, I did. More importantly, my kids had a great time, and seeing their joy at going on  roller coasters, eating cotton candy, and playing in the ocean more than makes up for some of the minor headaches of traveling with children.  So in that vein I’d like to add…

Number of vacation days I was blessed to enjoy with my family: 10

And I’d do it again tomorrow if I could. Happy Spring, everyone!


The Bagel from Hell


It's a bagel, not quantum physics.

It’s a bagel, not quantum physics.


Scene: Hotel, spring break.  Continental breakfast bar. 8:00 a.m. I haven’t yet had coffee.  This fact is important.

Five: Can I have a bagel?

Me: Of course you can.

Five: I don’t know where the bagels are.

Me: I’ll come with you and help you find them.

I get up to search the breakfast bar.

Me: Oh, look, here they are.

Five: That has seeds all over it. I don’t want it.

Me: That’s the only kind they have. They’re just sesame seeds. If you want a bagel, that’s your only choice.

Five: Okay. I’ll have it.

Me: It’s really big. How about you just have half?

I glance around for a knife. Meanwhile, the line behind us grows longer. The person next in line offers his knife.

Using an elaborate system of tongs and butter knife, I attempt to remove half of the bagel without touching it so it doesn’t go to waste, while the line of impatient breakfast eaters behind grows even longer. Finally successful, I am unsure what to do with the guy’s knife. I attempt to hand it back to him but now he looks at the knife like it is carrying the Black Death  so I put it down.

Five carries the  bagel to the table. Sits down. And then…

Five: Can I get it toasted? I want it toasted, Mom.

Me: Yes, you can toast it.

Five: But, I don’t know where the toaster is!

I point out the toaster, and he goes off to toast his bagel.

A minute later, he is back, looking glum.

Five:  Mom, I don’t know how to use that toaster.

Husband gets up to help him toast the bagel. They come back in a few minutes. Victory! Oh, wait…

Five:Mom, I want butter on my bagel!

At this point I’m growing slightly impatient with the whole process of the bagel. This next bit may have been said with clenched teeth, but I’m not sure.)

Me: Then. Go. Get. Butter.

He goes to get butter, comes back. Attempts to put butter on bagel unsuccessfully.

Five: Mom, I can’t spread this butter!

I reach over and put the butter on the bagel. Kid settles in to eat buttered, toasted bagel. Happy, he swings his feet while he chews.

One minute and two bites later:

Five: Mom, I don’t want this anymore.

Aaaaand, scene.


Happy Spring Break, everyone! May your week be sunny, or at least less complicated than a kindergartener ordering breakfast.

Maybe He Was Waiting for the Throw Up Fairies


"Psst... so you know, when you get home from this business trip I'm leaving for Hawaii for two weeks."

“Psst… so you know, when you get home from this business trip I’m leaving for Hawaii for two weeks.”

Hi. You might want to finish whatever you’re eating before you read this. That looks delicious, by the way.

All set? Good. As a blogger, sometimes I am stuck for ideas in terms of what to write about. And sometimes, like last night? The posts practically write themselves.

The VP has been out of town on business, and by last night I felt wrung out. So to try to make things easier, instead of cooking I took the kids to a Chinese restaurant to get take-out. Because when he’s away, I am all about making my path easier. So far so good, right?

But… while I was paying, my five year old son came running up to me with tears streaming down his face. When I asked him what was wrong,  he said he had choked on a piece of candy.

Unbeknownst to me, he had grabbed a peppermint out of the dish while on his way over to look at the fish in the tank. He’s not supposed to eat hard candies, due to his horrific gag reflex that, on a regular basis,  makes me think he’s going to choke to death. One of my biggest fears, but I digress.

He was talking, which I knew meant he wasn’t in imminent danger, but he was still crying and saying “It’s still in there!” and was in a panic, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I tried to figure out how to help him while comforting him at the same time, because he was really upset, when all of a sudden, his eyes got wide and this happened:


Yep. The kid upchucked all over the carpet.

Not a little bit. A lot. As in, the entire contents of his stomach. Oh, hello, gag reflex. Nice to see you too.

So now I was trying to comfort my son while apologizing to the manager for the copious pile of barf he had just deposited. And the unholy mess was right in front of the door to the restaurant. I was concerned for my son, and now I was dreadfully embarrassed. I of course offered to clean up the throw-up. As you do.

The manager said no. He was very polite about it. “No, no. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it”, he said, smiling.

My son was starting to feel better. The nice manager brought him some water.

And the vomit still sat in the entryway.

Again I offered to clean it up, and again the manager said no, and waved it off.

Surely if the manager wasn’t going to let me clean it up,  that meant he was planning on doing it, right? He was going to run get some of that sawdust stuff like they use in schools, or maybe some carpet cleaner? Some paper towels? Anything?

No. The vomit continued to sit right where my son left it. Was the guy waiting for fairies to come clean it up?

Customers came in, and I held my son with one arm while I weakly gestured toward the mess with the other, indicating that they should go around. I didn’t feel comfortable articulating it, though. I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear “Hey! Watch out for the vomit!” when they arrive at a restaurant for dinner.

Mmm. Who wants egg-drop soup?

My son was  feeling better, even giggling with his sister, and we should have been leaving, but I just couldn’t. There had to be something I could do, so I started surreptitiously checking the counter and our bag of take-out for napkins. But there was nothing.

The vomit was still in the entryway. At this point it had been almost ten minutes.

And the manager just continued to sit behind the desk, smiling beatifically.

I tried one more time. “Are you sure you don’t want me to take care of this? If you can just bring me a rag or some napkins, I can clean it up…”

And then the manager said this:

“No, no. You don’t have to clean it. They clean every night when we close.” And he smiled some more.

Um, what?

I pray that I am wrong, but it sounded to me like the vomit was going to stay in the entryway for the next four hours, until the cleaning crew took care of it.

In the end, we finally left, leaving an unfortunate pile of throw-up in the doorway during the dinner rush.

The good news is, my son is fine. He’s not allowed to eat peppermints until he’s 21, but he’s fine. And I still can’t figure out why the guy wouldn’t let me clean it up, or didn’t clean it up himself.

So to anyone who lives in our area and might have gone out for Chinese food last night:  my sincerest apologies. It was us. I hope it didn’t get on your shoes. And from now on I promise I’m keeping a roll of paper towels and a bottle of carpet cleaner in the car.

If you liked this post, please consider voting for me for Blogger Idol! Voting is now live, and runs through 10/31 at 12:00 am CST. I’m in the top 8, but I need your support if I am going to remain in the competition for another week. Thank you!

Notes from the Shallow End


Don’t Set Your Sitter’s Porch on Fire


"It's really quite simple. all you have to do is make them some mac & cheese and have them in bed by 9:00."

“It’s really quite simple.  All you have to do is make them some mac & cheese and have them in bed by 9:00.”


Oh, my friends, it’s almost that time of year again. Time for college acceptances to start rolling in, thus sweeping your favorite babysitters along in their thoughtless wake. That’s right, some of your sitters are seniors in high school, and a good number of them sadly will not be available any more come fall. You can’t stop it. Begging and pleading “Please don’t leeeeeave meeee!”  doesn’t help, nor will a lecture on how “Pre-Med is so passé, I heard child care is the hot career nowadays. Specifically care of my children.”

What can we do? On the day of the scheduled departure, do we plant ourselves in a  lawn chair behind their packed mini-van and refuse to move, in a sort of “Occupy Driveway” protest? Probably not. Unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing. Besides, you probably  need her to babysit when she comes back for the summer. Best not to torch that bridge behind you, if you know what I mean.

But some very smart people a while back, I think it was Johnson & Johnson, or maybe Captain & Tenille, put together a very helpful list of the stages of grief that one goes through upon the departure of your best babysitter for college. I’m sharing them with you because I’m super helpful that way, and also because I kind of will need some sitters next fall, so if you happen know anyone… you know the drill.      


Stage 1: Denial

Disbelief and shock are common upon  learning of the impending departure of your best babysitter.  You may deny the reality of the loss of the babysitter at some level, in order to avoid pain. This may come in the form of saying to yourself, “There is no f*#&ing way she is a senior this year. It’s impossible! I… I mean *she*… can’t be that old! I’m positive she’s only a junior!”  Don’t worry, this is normal. What is not normal is sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “la la la la I can’t hear you!” when she tries to tell you where she has been accepted to college.

Stage 2: Anger

Frustration and anger are two emotions very likely to come next when you learn your sitter is going away to college. After all, there are very lovely community colleges quite close by that would allow her to live at home while still making her available for babysitting saving her parents money. It is unwise to act on these emotions, however, as that could lead to unsavory acts such as stealing college acceptance letters out of her mailbox, lighting them on fire, and leaving them on her front porch with a note pinned to the door that says “Matriculate this, Miss Smartypants! While it is normal to want to release pent-up emotion, we suggest taking it out on your husband  a nice activity such as kickboxing.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Do any of these sound familiar? “I will never stay out past the time when I said I’d be home again if you just bring her back! Wait, I’ll pay her more! I’ll spring for the deluxe cable package! I’ll get a subscription to People Magazine just for her!” If so, this is called bargaining, a hopeless, desperate attempt to make a deal with a higher power to reverse the inevitable course of action. Spring for the deluxe cable package and People Magazine anyway, though – you’ll need entertainment at home because you’ll never go  anywhere ever again.

Stage 4: Depression

At this point, a long period of sadness, emptiness, and despair is likely. Well-meaning but sadly delusional people will try to be helpful. “It’s time to let go and move on!” they say. “You’ll find another babysitter!” they say. “Put the box of wine down and take a shower!” they say. This type of unwelcome encouragement  is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. The only thing that is helpful? Is the name and number of another goddamn sitter thank you very much.

Stage 5: Acceptance

In the last stage of grief over the departure of your favorite babysitter, you will learn to accept your situation.  Given the agonizing loss you have experienced, you can never completely return to the you that existed before your favorite babysitter so selfishly left for college. You realize you  will find another babysitter soon. And although you will start to look ahead and actually plan a night out once in a while, you will unfortunately always be left with the knowledge that they all leave. Because, let’s face it. You want someone watching your kids that has smarts and ambition. The 42 year old still living in her parents’ basement who works part time at the Slushee-Freeze and lists her hobbies as “gaming and catfishing”  is not gonna cut it.


I hope this has been helpful to you as you process your loss. By the way, I was serious about needing the names of a couple of sitters. I’ll be waiting by the phone with a box of wine.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: What’s Your Parenting Style?


Pauilne waited eagerly for the day when this would become the latest trend in parenting.

Pauline waited eagerly for the day when this would become the latest trend in parenting.

Well readers, another day, another parenting label. The latest to hit the lexicon? Apparently it’s “Snow Plow Parenting”. I hadn’t heard of it before yesterday – apparently it’s the kind of parenting where you remove obstacles from your child’s path to make things easier for them. So, Snow Plow parent,   Helicopter parent, Bulldozer parent… is this what we’re doing now? Giving parents labels based on modes of transportation? Because I can totally do that. Here are some others that haven’t quite caught on yet, but are certain, certain I tell you, to be the next big thing. Look for them  on a segment of the Today Show in the near future, featuring a very concerned looking Savannah Guthrie.

*note – the reason all of the following are references to moms is that any time a new parenting label comes out it never ever seems to reference dads. Dads have no labels. I don’t know why. Send all of your complaints to Savannah Guthrie.      

Sanitation Truck Parenting– Follows behind her child and cleans up messes, literally and figuratively.  Despite her better judgment, often seen in restaurants. She’s the one asking for paper towels or extra napkins.  At the park, she’s the mom whose kid just punched your kid or stole his shovel.  Distinctive characteristics include a harried expression,   and an apology always on her lips.

Acela Train Parenting – A type of parenting based on efficiency, organization, and a strict schedule. Seen in parking lots trailing many kids behind, hands linked. Half of them aren’t hers, but she damn sure has juice boxes and snacks for all of them.  Distinctive characteristics: a shame inducing fully stocked first aid kit from which she is able to produce the exact right size of Princess or Batman Band-Aid at a moment’s notice. You, however, will be lucky to produce a used Kleenex to staunch blood flow.

Flatbed Trailer Parenting – Often seen loaded down with all of her kids’ stuff. While her kids skip happily ahead, she struggles to balance the cooler, pool bag, floatie toys, and towels.  If you get behind her in line at the pool sign-in desk, you’re likely to help her pick her shit up that she drops while searching for her passes.  Distinctive characteristics:  Two different shoes.

Taxi Cab Parenting: This type of parenting is based entirely on dropping their kids off at other people’s houses. They will drop their kid off at your house on Friday afternoon, and won’t come back until you finally reach them sometime Sunday after dinner. Distinctive characteristics: Disappearing taillights, unanswered cell phones.

United Van Lines Parenting – A parenting style based on hauling her kids and their stuff all over the country. (Also known as Dance moms, Select sports moms, or Pageant moms) Distinctive characteristic: Mini-van loaded with stickers touting her kids’ activities, iPhone embedded into hand. Caution: May or may not have reality show cameras trailing behind.

Fed-Ex Parenting – A parenting style based entirely on delivering her children places on time. She is constantly overscheduled, especially around the holidays. Distinctive characteristics: A well-used minivan, an ever-present diet soda, and a tendency to never shut up about how busy she is.

Tandem Bicycle Parenting – Parenting style  based on arrangements with other parents. Without her co-mom to drive half of the carpool days, take her kids so she can get a manicure,  or watch her kids for the weekend so she can have some “me time”, her world will fall to pieces faster than dried out Play dough.  Unfortunately, this parenting style is often out of balance.  Distinctive characteristics:  one of the moms is pedaling way more than the other.

Carnival Cruise Ship Parenting – A parenting style based entirely on fun but without a plan or a regard to safety. (See “It’s always funny until Johnny loses an eye” for reference) Spending time with this parent starts off well, but is likely to end with someone crying, injured, or covered in throw-up. Distinctive characteristics include ATVs, rented bouncy castles, and margarita machines.

 Canoe Parenting – A precarious type of parenting based on “not rocking the boat”, but often one tantrum away from flipping over and sinking.  Also seen among parents of newborns whose parents haven’t moved a muscle in three hours because the baby is asleep on their chest and they don’t want to wake him up for god’s sake. Characteristics: Large, frightened eyes and a finger to the lips.

Clown Car Parenting – Often the result of suspected but undiagnosed ADD, this mom parents based on whatever shiny object attracts her. Life with this mom is unpredictable. You never know what will come next. Is she doing an art project? Is she letting her kids make cupcakes? Is she taking a nap? Is dinner at 5:30 or 7:30? You just never know.  Note: This type of mom is often a blogger. Distinctive characteristics:  A house full of kids. Oh, and yoga pants and wine, of course, what else?



Please Send Clorox

Darla was dismayed to learn her future would mostly  consist of many hours of bathroom cleaning.

Darla was dismayed to learn her future would  consist of many hours of bathroom cleaning.


I ran across an article this morning about the Texas woman who just gave birth to two sets of twin boys. You read that right. Not one, but two. For those of you who haven’t had enough coffee today, that’s four total. In addition to the newborns, she has a 2 year old at home. Again, I’ll be helpful and spell it out for you. That’s five boys ages two and under.

Now, I only have the one boy. He’s a great kid, don’t get me wrong. He’s cute as a button, keeps me on my toes and offers boatloads of blog material.  (What? I’m being honest. Anyway, I’d keep him around even if he didn’t. Probably.)

But, five? Like, mostly at once? That poor woman has no idea what she has in store for her.

And I’m not talking about noise, activity level, or general rambunctiousness. I’m talking about pee.

My advice to her: Delay potty training for a while.  Really, you have no idea how good you have it right now. Cause after the diapers come off? So much pee. Pee everywhere.

Seriously, I had no idea about the pee thing. Why didn’t someone tell me? I would have liked to be prepared. I had girls first, and they’re not nearly as messy. With the girls, we could call it “tinkle” or “piddle” and it was all cute and fine. I didn’t even use the word “pee” because, frankly, I thought of it as a vulgar word. But with the boy, all of the cuteness has left the building, people. No more adorable euphemisms. It’s. Just. Pee. And it’s kind of nasty.

Because it turns out boys can go just about anywhere. While this can be handy at certain times, such as on long car trips, other times? Not so much. Sometimes they revel in exercising that ability exactly where and when they shouldn’t.  Everywhere but in the neat and handy receptacle we call a toilet. And even when they do shoot for the toilet, they have an uncanny knack for  missing from a foot away.

It’s why when the VP heads out the door for Costco on a Saturday morning, it’s a rare occurence if I don’t tell him to pick up a multi-pack of disinfecting wipes and/or  toilet cleaner.  The wipes in the canister are my version of the “mother’s little helper”, to quote the Rolling Stones. And that tells you how far away from edgy my life is. “Didn’t I just buy those a couple of weeks ago?” VP asks.

“What are you, monitoring my Lysol usage?” I snap. “So you know, I can quite any time I WANT.  Now, be quick about it, and while you’re there pick up some Glade air freshener too. The six pack.”

You often hear about companies  donating diapers, baby equipment, etc. to parents of multiples. I get that, and I’m sure it’s very helpful. But might I seriously suggest that the Clorox or Lysol Company make a charitable donation to this family, in the form of hundreds of canisters of disinfecting wipes?  Because unless she wants her house to smell like Eau d’ Urine in a few years, she’s going to need lots and lots of them.

And the funniest part of the article, at least to me, was the quote by the husband saying they ”aren’t done”, because he “wants to try for a girl”. Dude, what? What are you going to do next week, surprise her with a puppy? I notice the woman who just gave birth to four boys wasn’t quoted as offering her opinion. Probably because “Are you out of your #%&*^* mind?!” followed by a bunch more swearing (and then a description of her throwing something at his head) does not make for an uplifting article.

In the meantime, while they work out what their reproductive future entails,  help the family out. Send them  as many wipes as you can. And while you’re at it, would you mind sending some my way too?  Thanks a bunch.


The Fears of a Clown

Well, now I know what we won't be doing for his birthday.

Well, now I know what we won’t be doing for his birthday party.


My five year old son, like a lot of kids his age, has some fears and anxieties. He doesn’t have too many, and for the most part, his fears are ones I am fairly certain he will grow out of in time. So I don’t push him into situations I know he will be uncomfortable with. What would be the point? He doesn’t do heights, so he’ll skip the three-story climbing apparatus with the “mesh net of death” suspended precariously high above the cement floor, thank you very much.  Ditto large, animatronic dinosaurs.  And he will literally run the other way from anyone in a costume that includes a large head. (Hello, Mickey Mouse, I’m looking at you. Sorry my kid wanted nothing to do with you when we were at Disney.)

As well as I thought I knew his few minor fear triggers, I was still caught off guard the other night when the subject of Lent came up at dinner. VP asked our girls what they would be giving up for Lent. To no one’s  surprise, they both said “school”.  Eye roll, sarcastic laugh.

But, because he’s five, Lent is a whole new concept for my son.

“What’s Lent?” he asked.

To which I answered, “well, it’s a short period of time where you  give something up.”

My son thought for a moment, his brow furrowed, before he replied evenly, “Well, then, I’m giving up… anything related to clowns.”

So, yeah, we can add that one to the list. But, just think of all the money we’ll save by not buying circus tickets.


Ten Questions I Usually Regret Asking

Darlene cuddled Bobo, reassuring him that he was not as messy as the children.

Darlene cuddled Bobo, and reassured him that he was not as messy as the children.

As a mom of the stay-at home variety, I ask a lot of questions as I go about my day from the rhetorical (“Um, do you want to go upstairs and clean your room?”) to the important (“Sweetie, where did you put Mommy’s car keys?”, “Who wrote on you with a Sharpie?”, and “You drank what?”)

Then… there are the “You Don’t Wanna Know” questions. These questions are the domestic equivalent of the expendable blonde bimbo in the horror movie calling, “Who’s there? Is there someone in the basement?” Sometimes we just don’t want to know, but we foolishly plunge in anyway, oblivious to the fact that there’s a hatchet-wielding murderer hiding under the stairs  poop in a lunchbox left there by a creative toddler. Not that I know anyone that ever happened to. (Looks the other way and whistles).  In other words?  We. Never. Learn.

Here, without further ado, are my top ten questions that I usually regret asking:

1. “Aaaghhh, what did I just step in?”

2. “What’s that smell?”

3. “What is that smeared on the wall? Is it… chocolate?”

4. “What’s in your mouth?”

5. “Are those underpants clean or dirty?”

6.”What was that crash I just heard?”

7. “Did the dog just throw up?”

8. “Who did this?”

9. “Where are your pants?”

10. “Did you just lick that?”

Those Clorox commercials, the ones about “life’s bleachable moments?” In my house they’re considered documentaries.  Uh-oh, gotta run. I think I heard a noise in the basement.



CSI Suburbs

The children glumly  realized they had spilled their last juice box when Mom made them ride outside of the car.

The children glumly realized they had spilled their last juice box when Mom made them ride outside of the car.

CSI Suburbs: Automotive Neglect Unit

The Crime: Minivan Abuse

The Accused: Suburban Mom, with three small children as accessories



Several police officers have gathered. All look somber.


I see we’re all here. Gentlemen? I’d like you to present your findings, if you don’t mind. Robinson? Let’s hear what your initial examination of the victim yielded.


Well, Sir, my initial exam found the victim, a 10 year old mini-van, to be suffering from neglect, if not outright abuse. Crumbs, stains, a missing floor mat, and an unidentifiable smell were what I noticed right away. There was some sort of residue on the rear passenger window of an adhesive nature. Outside of the van, some strings tied to the roof rack appear to have been used to secure a Christmas tree.  And yet, Christmas was months ago. Also, there’s a mysterious dent in the rear fender.


I’ve seen this before, years ago, when I was first on the force. I’ll bet the culprit denied seeing the fire hydrant before she backed into it, am I right? Some things never change. Next we’ll move on to the zone search pattern. Lipschitz? What have you got?


Starting at the front of the minivan, on the driver’s side, there was evidence of coffee spillage and “Secret Doughnut Crumbs of Shame”.


“Secret Doughnut Crumbs of Shame?” Can you explain that term?


Yes Sir. It’s when the driver hastily eats a doughnut in the carpool line, and brushes the crumbs off of her face and lap onto the floor of the car, so the kids don’t know.


Thank you for that explanation. I know that may have been hard for some of you to hear. There are some sick, sick people in this world. We have counselors available for any of you who think you might need someone to talk to. Moving on… Anything else, Lipschitz?


Well Sir, the front passenger side didn’t yield much, except for some hair and window nose prints that appear to be of canine origin. Moving toward the rear of the mini-van, though, it started to get interesting. I found at least 27 different types of what appeared to be snack-food related crumbs, wrapper shreds, several mittens, a hairbrush, hairbands, broken crayons, intact and broken cheerios, a set of flash cards,  children’s drawings, overdue library books, and  a stick-on Christmas bow. Also, it appears as though someone drew on the window with a Sharpie.


Hmmm. Okay, let’s move on to the biological examination of the contents. Johnson! I understand you have completed your analysis of the “under the seats” debris. What have you got?


I think you’ll find this interesting. The under- the-seats debris consisted of a solid mass, fused together by temperature changes and the passage of time. A chemical analysis found it to be a mixture of melted crayons, sand, granola bar crumbs, lost marker caps, amputated Polly-Pocket limbs, Smartfood popcorn, and juice box straws. Carbon dating of this incredible substance indicates a half-life of 100,000 years. And the tensile strength is like nothing I have ever seen before! As a matter of fact, I used some it to craft this really cool bullet-proof vest from a pattern I found on Pinterest!

(Holds up bullet-proof vest proudly, as others gather around)

See how I did the stitching here? Oh, yeah, the zipper was the trickiest part. The ladies at Joanne Fabrics were super helpful though…


Gentlemen! One, two, three, eyes on me! Can we please get back to business?  Lipschitz, did you thoroughly examine the back windows? What was the origin of the adhesive that Robinson found?


Hey! I thought I’d have more lines in this script!


Can it, Robinson. I told you after the fiasco with the Jell-O and the Honda Pilot you were being demoted. And also I just like saying Lipschitz. Well, Lipschitz?


Yes I did, Sir. The adhesive appears to be of the free grocery store sticker variety.  And there was human saliva, appearing to be from small children smooshing their lips to the glass and making the puffy blowfish face.


Ha Ha! I love the puffy blowfish face! Man, that is hilarious!


Robinson, quit trying to grab more lines. How about you make yourself useful and get me a coffee? Moving on. I’m most interested in the splatter analysis of the substance in the rear window. Barnes? What do you have for me?


It appears to be pink nail polish, sir. Projectile analysis indicates the bottle was flung at a medium rate of speed at a 45 degree angle from the launch point, the launch point being the child who was called a poopyhead by her sister sitting in the back seat. Missing its target, the open bottle traveled approximately 5.2 feet before coming to a sudden stop upon connecting with the rear window, causing the lateral splatter pattern you can clearly see.


Good Work Barnes. Well, it appears our case is cut and dried. Let’s bring the mom in and see if we can get a confession. People like this shouldn’t even be allowed to own minivans.


(Bursts into room, panting and out of breath)

Sir! Sir! We’ve got a situation! The suspect sprinted 3 miles on foot to the nearest car dealership! She’s locked herself inside a brand new SUV!


I was afraid of this. Quick! Give me all the details! What is she doing in there?


They tell me she’s practically catatonic, stroking the seats, muttering things about” Mine all mine”, “New car smell” and “can’t let the kids in this one ever ever ever”.


She’s finally snapped! We’re going to need all our available men on this. Let’s move it out people!


Even me?


How about you make us some sandwiches, Robinson?