Friday, May 31, 2013

A Visit from Under the Tiki Hut

Today I'm turning my blog over to Carol Kilgore, the talented author of,, In Name Only, and, Solomon's Compass. Carol writes 'crime fiction with a kiss' (check the bottom of this post for links) and I'm very excited to host one of her famous Friday Top Ten Lists.
First of all, huge thanks to Johanna for hosting me today. We’ve been blogging buddies for a year or so, and I love reading her stories here. I think she’s a fantastic mother with great kids.

For those of you who haven’t visited my blog – Under the Tiki Hut – my Friday feature is a Top Ten List.

When I realized I would be blogging here with Johanna on a Friday, I decided to have some fun with that. So I’m offering you ten things about me that you may not know – in a DOUBLE Top Ten format.

Ten statements about me are below.

Visit Under the Tiki Hut at http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com to learn the answers.

So without further ado . . .

The top ten things about me you may not know:

10. A snack I try not to eat or I can easily eat the entire bag.

  9. The fictional creature that is most frightening to me.

  8. The real creature that is most frightening to me.

  7. One word I think describes me.

  6. On a scale of 1-10, how weird and quirky I think I am.

  5. On a scale of 1-10, how happy I think I am.

  4. The top three things I do with a Bright Shiny.

  3. The voices of two men have fascinated me since the instant I heard each of them – not together, but each one many years ago. What are the names of these two men?

  2. Batman, Superman, or Spiderman?

 And the #1 thing about me you may not know:

  1. Do I always follow all the rules?

How would you answer these questions?

To see my answers, go here: http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com
Carol Kilgore is an award-winning author with several short stories, essays, and articles to her credit. Her two novels, Solomon’s Compass and In Name Only, are a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. Carol and her Coast Guard husband live in San Antonio, Texas, with two herding dogs whose mission is to keep them safe from all danger, real or imagined.
You can find Carol and her books here:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Healthy: We're Done. It's Over. I'm Through.

Physically, I'm pretty healthy.Can you  hear the sound of me knocking on wood?

I eat right, exercise, don't watch too much T.V., walk instead of drive, don't smoke, etc... In fact, I'm so healthy that it's probably kind of annoying, which is why I'm not going to write about that kind of healthy.

Mentally, I'm less of a paragon of virtue.

I worry, angst, agonize and indulge in relationships that are anything but healthy. My husband, who is not on the list of unhealthy relationships, has long said to me, "Stop wasting your time on these people who make you miserable."

Which, like all good advice, is easier said than done.

Especially because some of the people who make me the most miserablest (I'm in the middle of a confession here, please don't correct my grammar or spelling) are tangentially related to me.

This year my book club read, The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch. It's an autobiography and the author talks about creating your own family filled with warmth and love.

That idea resonated deeply.

Instead of letting the flow of negative, hate-type speech wash me down into the gutter I decided to back away, slowly, from certain relationships that are the equivalent of toxin-filled car wrecks. Even though I made the decision, it's still hard to let go. This weekend I took the first definitive step to backing away, in the most twenty-first century of ways.

I did some unfriending on Facebook.

The first thing I felt was a sense of loss. It felt reckless, like I had cut away a part of my life that had always been there, which is true. It always has.

The second thing I felt was relief, the bone-deep kind. I'm free from Facebook-feed stealth bombs of generalized hate and negativity. True, it's a small step, but it felt skywriting enormous.

It left me thinking about family; not the kind that tries to draw blood with venomous words, but the other kind, where love is a given and unconditional.

If you aren't borne into that kind of extensive network, it's up to you to create it; your tribe, your friends, your village and your life filled with love. We get the love we accept and I'm getting healthy by insisting the loves in my life be radiant and poison-free.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bronies and Peg-a-Sisters

It all started with an innocent conversation about Shutterfly, you know, the website where you can order pictures.

"Do you mean Fluttershy?" asked my son. "Because if you do, that's a My Little Pony and I'm a member of the My Little Pony Club."

"Isn't that something your sister had when she was three?" I asked. "The plastic ponies with the sparkly mane and tails?"

"Uh-huh"

My daughter and I giggled, but now, three months later it seems my son is having the last laugh.

We are in the midst of a full-on My Little Pony craze. My daughter is a convert. She knows all the characters and their cutie marks (yes, I just said cutie marks). At breakfast I overhead a conversation comparing my friend Georgie to one of the ponies.

"Yeah, she's totally a Pinkie Pie," said my daughter. "She and Pinkie Pie love to give parties."

"Which pony am I?" I asked.

"You're Rainbow Dash," my son said. "You're always dashing off on adventures."

The conversation shifted to how one of the ponies was lucky enough to get a princess babysitter who also happened to be a unicorn and I rainbow-dashed out of the room before my ears started to bleed.

Later that morning I ran into the mom whose son is the root cause of the second-grade boys' My Little Pony obsession.

"It's a counter-culture hipster thing," she explained. "Even my fourteen year old is into them. She's getting my son a 'Brony' t-shirt for his birthday"

Apparently My Little Pony is so ridiculous it's done a 180 degree spin and become cool. And in case you didn't know, 'Brony' is the term for a guy who's into My Little Pony.

So what's a mom to do?

I'm considering a My Little Pony themed birthday party for my soon-to-be nine year old son...which is a sentence I never expected to write. And as long as I'm at it, I might pick him up a Brony shirt (in black of course, because he wants to be a Ninja-cool Brony). If he's getting a Brony shirt, my daughter should probably have an "I'm a Peg-a-Sister" shirt. Maybe I'll even pick up a tank top for myself, with the Rainbow Dash cutie mark, of course!

But I draw the line at buying the plastic action figures.

Although, as I think about it, a summer of My Little Pony pretend play is probably not the worst thing in the world.

If anyone laughs at us, we'll tell them we like it ironically. And then we'll remind them this is Portlandia, home of the Naked Bike Ride and a place where people bring their urban chickens to work because they can't bear to leave them home alone. 

Ah Portlandia....if there's any place to get your alternative-hipster My Little Pony fix, this is it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Can We Love Our Second Children As Much?

One of my very first blogger buddies was Hart Johnson. We have Oregon and writing in common and as I got to know her through comments and blog posts, I realized we also have slightly wacky senses of humor in common too...which is why I'm so excited to have her here today to help celebrate and promote her cozy mystery, The Begonia Bribe. I read The Azalea Assault in, like, a day and I'm setting aside a summer day for The Begonia Bribe too.


So you know how when you have a baby you are clueless? You make tons of mistakes, and are totally paranoid and practice CONSTANT VIGILANCE and every single BEST PRACTICE so your baby will be perfect... or as perfect as it's possible to be, considering you are CLUELESS and trying to parent from a BOOK...

And then you have a second baby, and you figure, I'm an old pro. I've done this before. I've GOT THIS.

And then your second child is totally opposite your first, and the tricks learned the first time don't work. And the advice you'd learned to ignore because it DIDN'T work is now what you need to do... And your first child suffers for lack of attention and jealousy...

It's like that...

While my books in the Garden Society Mystery series were technically written 7th and 9th, they were the first and second published, respectively... And MAN, am I going through second time mom syndrome... I'm all relaxed when I ought to be panicking, totally forgetting certain details... And I'm embarrassed to shout to the world HELLO!!! I know you gave me the FABULOUS gift of love and support a year ago, but I need it again!!! Pretty please! And things that I did and were unnecessary the first time, I skipped and totally should have done this time around... The Begonia Bribe is definitely going to need YEARS of therapy.

And all the while, I can't help comparing my children... the first was so perky and personable... she got right out there in people's faces—on a Barnes and Noble TOWER in the peak book buying month—and I got pictures of her all over the world being held by various friends... This second child seems just a little slow to warm up. I'm not sure what to do about that. Maybe she resents that I didn't eat as carefully or watch my weight as well during my pregnancy.

Erm... okay, so that strains the metaphor a bit...

She's still on a tower... so that's something. But not nearly as many shipped. Oh, I know... it has to do with how many SOLD the first time—they are trying to match better, but I'm worried it will give her an inferiority complex!

And all in all, I ALSO had a much harder time getting this book written... second in a series... how much do I retell? What portion of readers will read the first first so they know already? What portion will read them out of order so I have to watch out for spoilers? Because these are in ORDER, but the murders stand alone... so the only REAL spoilers that matter are who died and who killed them. But those sort of matter, yeah?

I'm not sure why #2 was so hard and then #3 was relatively easy... In fact my beta readers both loved #3 best of the set, but there it is. They also say with parenting: When you have one, you spend all day just gazing at your child. When you have a second, you spend all day watching your first child to make sure they don't hurt your second. When you have a third, you spend all day hiding from your children... so there's that.

Begonia Bribe Blurb Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’s job to promote them. But when a pint-sized beauty contest comes to town, someone decides to deliver a final judgment … A beauty pageant for little girls—the Little Miss Begonia Pageant—has decided to hold their event in a Roanoke park. Camellia is called in to help deal with the botanical details, the cute contestants, and their catty mothers. She soon realizes that the drama onstage is nothing compared to the judges row. There’s jealousy, betrayal, and a love triangle involving local newsman—and known lothario—Telly Stevens. And a mysterious saboteur is trying to stop the pageant from happening at all. But the drama turns deadly when Stevens is found dead, poisoned by some sort of plant. With a full flowerbed of potential suspects, Cam needs to dig through the evidence to uproot a killer with a deadly green thumb. Hart (aka, Alyse Carlson) writes books from her bathtub and can be found at Confessions of a Watery Tart, on Facebook (author page, profile), Twitter, or Goodreads. Book links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Friday, May 17, 2013

While the Cat's Away...

As of Memorial Day weekend, I'm going to be a solo parent.

No, don't worry. There's no divorce pending, but there is going to be a separation of the job-enforced variety. I promised my husband I'd be fine with it...and I am, sorta, kinda.

Did I mention it's for the whole summer?

On its face the analysis makes sense. Of course, my kids would want to spend their summer in Portland with friends and family. The idea of hanging out by ourselves in a muggy, suburban, beltway town isn't exactly appealing.

My husband will be working long hours. The kids won't have any friends yet. And still, I'm tempted to end this sentence with a pouty, frowny face. But I'll refrain...barely.

I know that military wives do this on a regular basis. Single moms too. I'm impressed, inspired and amazed by their ability to raise and provide for their families on their own. Even so, I don't want to join their ranks.

Here's the good news. At least it'll be summer.

There won't be homework to wrangle or bedtimes to enforce. In fact, aside from my kids' summer swim team, we won't have much of a schedule at all. We'll be footless and fancy-free without even the reminder of "daddy's coming home from work soon," to whip us into shape.

It's possible there will be successive days where we skip all regular meals in favor of fresh-picked fruit from Sauvie Island.

 Have I mentioned before my kids think it's the Biggest Treat Ever to skip meals? They're weirdos! I know!! They get it from me, the weirdo part that is, not the skipping meals.

One of my summer schemes, concocted as an antidote to cheer two sad little daddy-missing faces, is parent for a day. Saturdays or Sundays, one kid will get to make all the important decisions.

"You can't expect me to decide everything all summer long. I'll get decision fatigue," I told them, which, unaccountably, cheered them up.

"Can we do the grocery shopping on our parent day?" my daughter asked.

"How about if I give you cash and you buy whatever you can afford?" I said. "I'll wait at the front of the store and read a book."

They both LOVE this plan. In addition to our strawberry-filled days, it's possible succulent treats like Cocoa Krispies and Lucky Charms will be on our menu (and by ours, I mean theirs).

It's only until mid-August.

Everyone says the key is to keep busy and we're excellent at occupying our time. As I write this, there's a made-up game of, Piggies Fly, taking place in the basement.

The important thing, I keep reminding myself, is how my husband is little-boy excited about his new job. I get to feel that way whenever I start a new book. It's intoxicating, delightful and I don't want to deny him the chance to feel the same way.

In the end, his smile when he talks about what he'll be doing, is the factor that makes all the moving, packing and alone time worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Catharsis

The last week and a half I've been wandering through my house trying to figure out what to pack away and what to leave for my unknown tenant. Sometimes I wander physically and some days its more of a mental exercise.

In the dead of the afternoon, that wasteland of time called 4:00, when my brain doesn't work and the kids are being shuffled here and there I pack boxes and make decisions.

We've all been asked the question, 'What would you take with you if the house was on fire?' Now I'm asking myself the same question with a tweak. 'What could you never replace?'

I'm in the process of discovering most of the things in my home are replaceable. Of course, I've packed away my Great-Grandma Ruth's china and the photograph albums that predate digital pictures uploaded online. There's a chair that's very important to my husband. I've had to take down all the photographs in the upstairs hallway and my bedroom, which makes sense. Even though my children have great smiles, I can't blame my future tenant for not wanting to wake up to them.

What's more interesting is the stuff I'm not taking. My Grandma Peggy's china...didn't make the cut.

I should feel bad, I suppose. But I don't. Even now, as I write this post from my dining room, I can feel it glaring at me with accusations of neglect. The truth is I've never loved it and if a piece gets broken, my heart will remain intact.

The handsome antique clock on the mantelpiece; my parents gave it to us. It's sentimental, but I think it's going to stay and not keep time for my tenants. They too, can be amused when dinner party guests panic at its false advertisements of the lateness of the hour.

All this cleaning out and putting away makes me long for the days when I could move everything I owned in one or two carloads. I hate the way all these possessions press down on me. Sometimes when I'm making my mental tallies at two in the morning, I swear I can feel the physical weight of all the things in this house.

This weekend I packed two large boxes full of my children's possessions; things I think they'll want, but won't miss.

After that I filled two garbage bags with things they'll never know are gone. Just in case I'm keeping the garbage bags in the garage for a while, but the lightness I felt after I went through those things made me want to pare down even more.

Maybe our new house will be sparse and minimalistic!

Maybe we'll be able to control that human impulse to gather things, like squirrels gathering nuts for a long winter.

It's this size!
In the basement, lying in a crumple, is an enormous museum banner advertising 'French Impressionist Masters at the Morgan Library'.

It was a gift to my husband from a family friend. It's cover-the-front-of-the-house enormous with no practical use. It's been in our attic a long time and I'm wondering if it's recent appearance in the basement next to my overpriced pink flats that give me blisters means we're both ready to acknowledge the limited use of certain items and let go.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Torture, Cupids and Other Writerly Thoughts.

A friend of mine was distracting me with faux books plots on Friday; the kind of stuff that makes me laugh and cringe all at the same time.

They started out simple: The alien overlord is thwarted.

And progressively got more complex:

The beautiful Russian KGB agent was snatched by a secret criminal group along with the missing toxic gas formula with the capacity to destroy the world.

The hopeful boy wizard's new elf friend was enspelled by an evil creature and is about to stomp on the cutest girl in the boy's class who is also the object of his first crush.

The math teacher at an all-girls school finds out her fiancĂ© has been shot down over German lines, but she still holds out hopes of getting her students a spot on the all-Europe math quiz show.

A boy scout troop on a nature hike discovers fields of marijuana grown for a Mexican cartel just as giant pinecones fall from demon-possessed trees.

Later in the day I was thinking about how some of these giggle-worthy plots could probably be successful books.

Which, in turn, made me think about the diverse nature of the people who create books.

Sure, writers have some things in common. We all know what it feels like to fill up a blank page with hope and ideas. We have our editing woes and the dreaded moments when we think we've saved, but haven't and the computer crashes causing us to lose a chunk of  our precious words. But those are just mechanical similarities.

What fascinates me most about writers is probably the same thing that fascinates me about life. Writers, like life experiences, come in every package imaginable. It makes sense, because we reflect our individual interests back to the segment of readers who share those particular interests.

So yes, I'm glad I don't write the kind of book plots my friend was using to torture me. But I know  somewhere out there, is someone who does. And for every person who writes a book, their soul mate reader is also out there, waiting to read it.

Kinda like love, on a literary scale.

We're writerly Cupids, shooting our book arrows to infect readers with our passion, and in the process we often get shot ourselves.

When you stop to think about it, it's perfect for everyone; writers and readers alike.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Judy Blume Moments

This is how we broke the news to our children:

Husband: You know how you guys have been begging for cable TV? Now, you're going to get it, just not in this house.

Kids: We're going to get cable?!? Cartoon Network and everything??

Husband: Yep, but it'll be in Washington, D.C.

My son pumped his fist in the air and shouted, "Go Redskins! Does this mean we can go watch them play?"

My daughter slumped down in her chair and gave me an accusing look. "You're ruining my life. Don't you know it's impossible to make friends in sixth grade? Everyone's all grouped up! My clothes are going to be all wrong."

Technically, it'll be Northern Virginia. Some suburb-y beltway town where the schools are good and big trees will cover our lawn with leaves in the fall.

And we're only going for eighteen months. It's a sabbatical year and a half, at least that's how I've been trying to sell it to my daughter. But she's a suspicious customer and not overly interested in purchasing my version of reality.

She is, however, interested in the shopping trip I've promised to alleviate her fears about fitting in.

The things is, I get it. Every woman gets it.

Part of the long-lasting popularity of Judy Blume books is due to their enduring themes of girlhood trauma. No one wants to walk into a room full of sixth grade girls wearing Keds when you're sporting Converse. It's a small, seemingly unimportant detail, but to my sixth grade girl it's more monumental than any of the actual monuments we'll soon be able to see on a weekend whim.

What's more, I completely understand my daughter's angst. Already I'm mourning the loss of my Saturday morning eighties step aerobic class with friends, followed by coffee and conversation that kickstarts our day and keeps us sane.

What am I going to do without that? What am I going to do without them? What if the women in my temporary suburban home don't want to have coffee with me because, you know, women of my age are already kinda grouped up. What if they're not taking on any new friends?

The kids have had almost a week to adjust to the news. There've been ups and downs. I've discovered the reason parents bribe their children is because it works. I've also discovered the parameters of bribes should be clearly defined.

Me (handing them a catalog): It's going to be so much fun! You can design your new room.

Daughter (after 20 minutes spent absorbed in said catalog): I'll take the room that looks like it has a connected bathroom, a window seat and a deck.

Me: I meant bedspread and curtains.

Son: Can I get a loft bed shaped like Darth Vader's head? And what about my own iPad? That would look good in my room.

Me: Let's just focus on bedspreads and curtains.

Other high points have been the realization we can visit Colonial Williamsburg and the Liberty Bell.

A low point for all of us, is my husband has to start work the first week of June which means we'll spend the summer sans daddy, but soaking in more time with our beloved Oregon peeps, both family and friends who feel like family.

There's no doubt it'll be an adventure. But we're still inching along the diving board and all of us, with the exception of Child #2, are a little bit nervous about the temperature of our new swimming pool.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ouch!

I had all kinds of things I wanted to talk about in today's post, but then on Saturday I got a text from my husband saying my daughter might have broken her arm.


It's one of those messages that, as a parent, you dread getting. It's up there with finding out your kid has lice or had a tooth knocked out during a soccer game.

I dropped what I was doing, literally dropped it, and ran to take my daughter to the emergency room. My daughter is...how can I say...not so tolerant of pain.

She was sitting on the porch when I pulled up and my husband told me the neighbors had all been over to inquire about her well-being. "You could hear her screaming for a three block radius," he mentioned as we hustled her into the car.

At the emergency room she was calm enough to argue with the admitting nurse. "I can't get out of the wheelchair to be weighed. Can't you just weigh me and subtract the weight of the chair?"

"Is it her leg?" the nurse asked.

"No, no. It's her arm," I assured her.

The X-ray technicians received similar treatment. "You have no idea what you're asking me to do," she wailed at the suggestion she move her wrist a few degrees to the left. This statement was followed by the same kind of loud shrieking you might hear at a One Direction concert or a maternity ward.

From the safety of the protective X-ray screen one of the techs told me, "You're gonna have fun with that one when she's a teenager.

"Yes," I said. "When the time comes, I'm betting natural childbirth won't be the path she chooses."

Later, when she'd be duly weighed and filmed we settled in for the interminable wait familiar to anyone who's ever visited an emergency room. We alternated between upbeat talk about plans for the summer, sad tears about the possibility of not being able to participate in any more Maypole performances and frustration.

"What's taking so long?" she demanded, eyeing the call button. "The service around here is terrible!"

 In the end we left with a splinted arm that's bigger than anything else on her body. It's a small fracture. We find out if she gets a cast later in the week.
,
Before I sat down to write this post I checked on her in her room. "Mom, I think Ibuprofen makes you cry," she said looking at me with weepy eyes.

"No, it's just for the pain."

"But I feel so sad!!!! I know it's the Ibuprofen. I'm certain of it! It takes away the physical pain and just leaves you with the emotional part of it."

I was tempted to tell her it's normal to feel sad about a broken bone or that it could be a surge of tweenage hormones or generalized angst about all the big changes coming up in our lives (more on that later), but instead I decided not to argue.

"You're probably right," I said which brought out a smile.

Because sometimes, depending on who you are, being right is more important than being factual. Of course, that's not something I know from personal experience or anything.

Seriously, you should all just reread the first sentence in the last paragraph and go with me on this one.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May Day Reflections

May Day was a big day at the Garth household.

First thing in the morning, I heard some very nice things about the book I just finished which put me in a spin-around-the-kitchen mood.

It was breakfast time and the novelty of me acting more giddy than my children wore off fast.

"Good job, Mom. I'm proud of you," said my daughter. She gave me a hug before turning conversation back to really important things....like her Maypole Dance that was to be performed that evening.

My son also had important business that needed attention. He had a baseball game that night and also wanted to describe, via ten minute monologue, the costume he'll be wearing in the second grade play. He's a pilot. He gets to talk a lot. I think the casting people knew what they were doing!

Breakfast set the framework for the rest of my day. Me, floating up in my giddy clouds. The book's not garbage. Other people like it as much as I do. Joy. JOY. JOY.

And being pulled back down like a helium balloon owned by my children. "Mom, where's my mitt?" "Mom, watch while I twirl my skirt." "Mom, make sure you bring the video camera!" "Mom, when are Grandma and Grandpa coming?"

After the Maypole dance performance my daughter and I sat on my bed together and I listened to her talk. She wanted to know my favorite parts. "Was it the Grande Ronde or did you like our peel off? What about our weave? Did you notice a difference between the first weave and the second?"

After I'd been educated about the difference between white and red ribbon holders and odd and even dancers," she leaned back on the bed, sighed, and said, "It was a really good day!"

"Yes," I said. "It really was."

She looked at me like she was surprised. "Oh yeah, your book. That's good news too."

And that's when I remembered two things. One, perspective is everything.

And two, without real life inspiration; the Maypole, the baseball mitts, the sad disappointments, momentary triumphs and the end of the day spent rehashing it all, I would never have anything to write about.

It's one of those writing/life truths that sometimes slips away from me. By writing it down I'm hoping to keep better track of it.

Oh, and Child #2 wanted me to inform the readers of this blog he had two good hits and a moonball (which means pop fly, I think??)

Like I said, it was a really good day!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spiders and Asparagus

As a parent, I learned early on that consistency was not on the menu (from them or from me, but that's a separate blog post).

During the toddler years, I marveled at how while peas were on the yuck list, sippy cups swished around in toilet water were totally, A-ok, fine.

Now that my children have reached, what I believed when they were two, would be the ever-so-rational ages of eight and eleven, you'd think their likes and dislikes would have some rational basis in human experience and western civilization.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

When we decided to stop and try the spiders being offered at a small roadside stand in rural Cambodia (sort of redundant, I know) I assumed we'd take pictures of them en masse, watch them being prepared and buy a few.

The buying, I assumed, wouldn't happen out of any desire to eat the spiders, but more because the people who are selling them are extremely poor and my family can amply afford thirty-five cents worth of spiders that we don't plan to eat. Heck, we could even afford two helpings.

My husband had a whole different take on  spider tasting.

He inspected the live spiders (according to Child #2 they're tarantulas, but we don't know for sure because when we asked everyone just agreed with us). While I was snapping pictures of the market, playing with two local children, a praying mantis and my own kids, I turned around to find him nibbling on spider legs.

The next thing I knew both children were following suit. "Yum, it tastes like crunchy barbeque, Mom," said Child #1. "You should try them."

 Given the toilet water years, their adventurous palates shouldn't have surprised me, but they did.

We're now home to a place where spiders are smaller, uncooked and usually unwelcome surprises found in the shower. The other night I made asparagus grilled in olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

"That is disgusting!" announced Child #1 as I was parceling it out onto plates. "You don't expect me to eat that, right?"

I could have mentioned the spiders or the toilet water or the strange baking soda heavy creations she and her best friend make and call cookies, but I didn't.

Instead I just told myself that I was off by about ten years. Maybe they'll be rational when they're in the twenties or thirties. Or maybe I just need to expect irrational behavior will be on the menu for years to come.

And the other thing that's on the menu....spiders. At least now I know my kids won't starve to death in the event of an apocalyptic food shortage.