Saturday Wanderings


Back when he was in fifth grade, maybe sixth, my son created a simulated Black Hole for a project for science. Now, this was not just a table-top diorama. No. When my kid creates a Black Hole, it is going to be a big one.

He thought long and hard about how he would complete this project. On Amazon, he discovered that he could purchase a large sheet of black lycra. He set about to create a frame for the material, and he used PVC pipe and joints.

Actually, the finished product was pretty impressive. He carried it to school unassembled in his sister’s duffle bag. When he put it all together, it was three feet tall and four feet from one side to the other. His teacher was impressed. But as impressive as this project was, it is not the point of this blog post.

Fast forward to this past fall. The large sheet of lycra had been hanging around my house for awhile. We all knew it belonged to W, but it was in the living room; it was in the bedroom; it was in the basement. It really hadn’t found a home. After it had kicked around for too long, W picked it up one day and said, “Do you think I could make a hammock out of this?” And the next thing I knew, I had a hammock hanging from the beams above the ceiling tile in my basement. The best part was that the ceiling tiles had to be pushed aside to make this work.

But then he decided he wanted to make it into a real hammock rather than just a piece of lycra tied to some rope tied to the beams. He spent the better part of a day pleating the material and stitching it together on my sewing machine. The parts that were too thick—where he looped the lycra over and connected it to the rope—were sewn by hand. His newly reconfigured hammock passed the basement test with flying colors.

So last weekend, he took the hammock on a camping trip to test it out for real. Yes, it is February, which means that here in New Hampshire, it is the middle of winter. Personally, I am not sure if I would rather sleep on the frozen ground or in a hammock at this time of year. When I was discussing this issue with my daughter, she had the same first response I had. “Bridges freeze first!”

(And that, my friends, is a clear indication that if nothing else, my daughter learned one important fact in her Drivers Education class, and it is one that she will never forget!)

The argument on whether it’s warmer to sleep on the ground or in a hammock (if you must sleep outside in the dead of winter) is still out for debate, but here’s what I did learn. Getting out of a hammock in the middle of the night in the dead of winter to use the latrine is not too much fun.

[Image credit: / Orlando Alonzo]

Car Snacks

fullsizeoutput_2ae5I recently renewed the registration for both of our cars. Since both cars are registered in my name, they both came due in my birth month. After I completed the registrations, they sat by my front door waiting to be moved to the cars.

A week or so ago, I finally went out and stuck the new stickers on my license plates and put the documentation in the cars, first my car and then the car my teens use. As I rooted around in the glove compartment for the little plastic sleeve that we have to hold the registration, I noticed two individually wrapped ring pops.

Back at the beginning of the summer when I was in the car for some reason, my son had shown me the various snacks he was keeping in the glove compartment—ring pops being one of them. Therefore, I was aware of the car food and not surprised to find the ring pops there. I was a bit concerned about their condition, but since they were unopened, I figured I would deal with them another day. I slipped the registration into the sleeve and shut the glove compartment.

Yesterday, my daughter had somewhere to be and it was snowing. She took the car that was better in the snow, and W and I took the smaller car on our errands. As we drove down the long road home, he decided to search the glove compartment, a hobby of his when he is in either one of our cars. Of course, he discovered the ring pops and decided he was going to help himself.

Keep in mind, we are several months from hot weather, and candy that has been in a hot car over the summer has likely seen better days. And W certainly found that out when he opened the first of the two pops.


It was no longer its original shape, having melted several times over. The second wasn’t any different. While he did taste one before we threw them out, they were chewy and not what he was expecting.

Now I’m trying to come up with the best moral for this story. Perhaps it would be, Sometimes things don’t maintain their original form in a hot car. Or maybe, If you don’t throw out your car snacks before you go off to college, your little brother will do it for you.

Maybe we can just go with this one: Don’t store your candy in the glove compartment.

One final thought–Christmas antics


Stuffing stockings—one of my annual Christmas challenges. Have I found enough stuff to fill each stocking? Will I have too much stuff, and if so, what will I do with the extra? Even after years of filling the same stockings, I always second-guess myself.

This year, we approached the holiday in “scaled down” mode. Finances are a little tight, so when I was searching for stocking stuffers, I decided to go the practical route. In addition to some toiletries, toothbrushes, and a tiny puzzle-y-thing or two (okay, and the requisite chocolate…), I purchased socks and underwear to fill the extra space in the stockings because, well… practical (and necessary).

When I started to actually fill the stockings, I found that I did not have enough room for the underwear. I had purchased a package of underwear for each of the teens in my house. While the packages were a good idea and would have taken up a sizeable chunk of space, the stockings were full enough without them. So late on Christmas Eve, I made the decision to place the packages of underwear in the children’s rooms, as if Santa, himself, had gone to their rooms to check on them and placed the item there.

On Christmas morning, I wanted to make sure none of them missed this amazing Christmas treasure. W was the first one up. “Did you see that there is underwear in your room?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he told me, and then his face brightened. “I was so excited that I had to wake C to let him know. ‘Santa came! Santa came! And look what he brought us: new underwear!’” he recounted the scene for me, and I had to smile at his sense of humor and fun. In fact, he actually did wake his older brother with his humorous rendition of childlike Christmas excitement.

And because that childlike excitement of their younger days has tempered to a much calmer holiday emotion, I always smile at the moments like this one—humorous or not.

The big brother who is trying to sleep in … maybe he doesn’t find these antics quite so entertaining.



This evening, I was rooting around in the fridge, and I came across a large bowl with a very small amount of pasta sauce. “This can go,” I announced. “Especially since someone ate all the sausage out of it.” I placed the bowl in the sink.

“Who would do something like that?” W asked, feigning disbelief.

“Hmm. I wonder…” I let my voice trail off. “Perhaps your brother?”

“Oh, that’s right! He comes home for less than 24 hours, pillages our food, and then goes back to school. He doesn’t have to deal with the consequences.”

I looked at my son, nodding. Pillage. What a fitting word for what goes on with the food in my house. From now on, I am going to use that word with all of my teens.

Stop pillaging and shut the refrigerator! See what I mean? Perfect!

Slap bracelet


Because I grew up in a family with one sister and no brothers, I find it fascinating to watch the interactions of my two nearly grown boys. On Friday afternoon, C came home from college for a brief visit to watch his sister perform in the high school play. I went to get him, and when we arrived home, C walked in the door, and his younger brother was standing in the kitchen.

“Bro!” C exclaimed. “Give me a hug!” He wanted he hug (I think), but he was challenging his brother. Pushing to see if he’d oblige. C approached the younger, arms outstretched, and wrapped his brother in a hug.

What he didn’t expect was the snappy response he’d receive. W whipped his arms around his brother, wrapping him in a bear hug and pulling him off balance. From where I stood, I only heard the snapping of W’s arms against his brother’s back.

“Oh man!” C coughed as he caught his balance and straightened up. “You’re like a slap bracelet,” he said, referring to the way his brother wrapped around him.

I had to laugh. “Slap bracelet” was the perfect description of the aggressive, albeit playful—physical exchange (i.e. the “hug”) I had just witnessed in my kitchen!



I was in the shower when I spotted it, which means it must have been fairly big since I was wearing neither my glasses nor my contacts. As it moved across the ceiling at a brisk spider pace, an idea blossomed in my mind.

I finished my shower, shut off the water, and wrapped up in a towel. I grabbed my tablet and snapped a quick close-up picture of the spider. I sent the image to C, who was sitting innocently on the couch, one floor below me. “Can you come kill this for me?” I messaged, knowing the obvious answer.

“No. That’s scary,” he messaged back.

“Please?” I responded. I received no answer. I waited. By this time, the spider had moved to the far corner where it seemed to be setting up shop. I snapped another picture. In this one, the spider was far off, just a spot on the ceiling in the corner of the room. “See?” I said. “Not so scary.” Nothing. “I can’t reach it,” I lied. Still nothing. “Are you ignoring me?”


Now, don’t get me wrong. I am more than capable of taking care of the spider myself. I have dealt with every spider in this house since we moved in over twelve years ago. But seeing as C is now an adult, I want to see how he will handle this. And it’s actually quite funny.

“Why aren’t you up here killing my spider?” I ask him. Since historically, it has been him asking me to kill the spiders, I am expecting him to jump at the chance to repay the favor. Not.

“I tried to send W, but he refused,” he admitted.

And there it is, friends. Passing the buck to see if someone, anyone, might take care of the spider for him.

In the end, I trapped the spider and carried it outside where it will live a much happier life than it would in my bathroom. However,  I am not sure what C is going to do when he is on his own. I just hope he knows how many babies one spider can produce. To kill the spider or not to kill the spider? Adulting can be complicated.


After her drivers ed class today, my daughter assumed the “browsing position” in front of the refrigerator. She had the doors flung wide open, one handle in each hand, and she was searching. Up on tiptoes to check out what was behind the condiments on the top shelf. Bent down to look behind the bowls on the bottom shelf. I could tell this was serious business. It was lunchtime, and she was hungry.

She sighed. “Is there no tortellini left?” she questioned. Really, from where I was sitting on the opposite side of the door, it was tough to tell.

“Is it not in there?” I asked, not admitting that less than an hour earlier, I had offered it to her younger brother as a lunch option.

“I don’t see it.”

I opened the dishwasher, and the empty bowl presented itself as evidence. I closed the dishwasher. “No more tortellini,” I reported.

“And there’s no pasta salad left, either, is there?” She already knew the answer, but I could tell she was holding on to a shred of hope.

“No, there’s not,” I reluctantly reported. “We finished that for dinner last night.”

“So there’s nothing to eat!” she griped. “Why does everyone always eat all the food without me?”

Hmm… it must be a conspiracy.

Or, more likely, it’s the reality of life in a house with teenage boys.