“They won’t mind if we sort of steal these pumpkins.”

I needed twelve mini-pumpkins stat for Akeyla’s birthday party craft – the only craft I’d planned for the preschoolers who would be descending on my home in a mere two hours.

The pumpkin patch was closed.

Who the fuck closes a pumpkin patch an October 28?

“Let’s just take them and I’ll leave a note,” I said to Astrid. “We’ll come back later to pay.” I began to examine pumpkins and stuff them into the fair trade basket I bought to look like I was headed to the farmers’ market even though I never go.

“Isn’t that stealing?”

“Nah. It’s more like a rent-to-own situation. Look. I’m writing in my best handwriting and leaving my name and number and how many mini-pumpkins we took.” I scrawled my explanation onto the back of a Dunkin Donuts flyer. “See? I made a little invoice that shows I know how much I owe them.”

Then the clincher: “They won’t mind.”

I’m big on ‘they won’t mind.’ “They won’t mind if we park in this reserved spot for twenty minutes” I might say. “I’ll leave a note.” The leaving of the note is essential for the ‘they won’t mind’ to work. The note cancels out the wrongdoing, making it okay to temporarily break the rules.

I wedged the note inside the screen door and heaved the basket into the car.

Astrid glanced across the parking lot. “Why don’t we just go in that building and ask?”

I followed her gaze. The world beyond the pumpkin patch resolved into focus. She was pointing at a church.

A church. I was quasi-stealing pumpkins from a church.

We crept in the side entrance, my confidence in the whole rent-to-own scheme wavering. To the distant hum of unfamiliar hymns, we tiptoed down the stairs in search of answers to our pumpkin dilemma.

“Mom, what’s that rumbling sound?”

I panicked. “THEY’RE GETTING OUT!” Parishioners, freed from their pews to go in peace to Cracker Barrel, stampeded like herd animals to the exits, ready to lose their church offering envelopes in the nearest collection basket.

We tore up the stairs. “Mom! Why are we running?”

I didn’t know. All I knew is that we were strangers in a strange land and I had a load of hot mini-pumpkins in the passenger seat of my van. I imagined the Town & Country surrounded by pitchfork-wielding churchgoers demanding atonement.

I turned to Astrid. “Act natural.” We folded ourselves into the crowd. I tried to look like my soul had recently been nourished.

We ambled to the car and left with our loot, promises to return flapping in the autumn breeze.


Click on photo to enlarge instructions.

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Apple Hell: A Fun Fall Family Tradition.

The girls and I were going apple picking. So what if it was 90 degrees? This was guaranteed fun.

Maybe I should have turned back when they waved me into the third overflow lot and directed me to park on a rocky outcrop. Instead, I snapped open the orchard map so we could check off fun activities. This place was about SO MUCH MORE than apples.

Previous fun-loving families had stripped the low-hanging fruit like locusts, so we pushed deeper through rows of Galas, Honeycrisps, and Jonagolds in search of apples we could reach without a ladder.

We trudged by goats. We felt sad about penned-up peacocks. We explored the incongruous bamboo forest. We dodged a tractor dragging a trailer full of slack-mouthed Carolinians. The hayride, apparently.

Astrid stopped. “I’m hungry.” I handed her an apple.

“It’s covered in pesticides.”

I polished it on my shirt.

“Seriously, mom?”

“One carcinogenic apple’s not going to kill you,” I said. “Today.”

When we had checked off every fun thing on the map, it was time to pay.

The check-out barn smelled of sweat and sorrow.

We stood in line behind all of America. A grown man nearly cried when he reached the front, only to be turned back for failure to bag his apples first. Another woman, dripping with perspiration and toddlers, learned the hard way that the orchard only took cash. A man towed a Radio Flyer wagon filled with apples. The Duggars couldn’t have eaten that many apples in a lifetime.

I slapped our apples on the counter. But we required EVEN MORE APPLE MERCHANDISE. “Hey!” I asked Apple Guy, “Can we buy all our apple stuff right here?”

“Of course!” Apple Guy said, “Whaddya need?” I ticked off fudge apples, caramel apples, cider, donuts. I handed Apple Guy all my money.

I waited, but no products appeared.

“So the cider’s over at the cider counter” – he waved at the barely visible far end of the barn – “the candied apples are in the gift shop, and you can grab the donuts in the Donut Hut.” He stuffed a handful of checkered twist-ties into my hand. “Just give these to the cashier and she’ll know you paid.”

No one was going to crack that code.

I sent Astrid to stand in the block-long donut line, twist-tie in hand. I dragged Akeyla to the gift shop (ten people in line) and the cider counter (uncountable number of people in line). Twenty minutes later, we rejoined Astrid, who hadn’t moved.

The heat index was soaring above 100 degrees. I hung my head between my knees. “Are you, like, going to pass out?” Astrid asked. “Maybe you should eat an apple.”

I was panting. “I (gasp) don’t (gasp) like (gasp) apples.”

“You don’t like apples?” Akeyla asked. “Why are we here?”


“Nobody likes apples!” Astrid said, “You come for” – and here she pulled out a pair of air quotes – “the ‘experience.’ And the donuts.”

At last, toting a piping hot box of donuts and guzzling cider from the jug, we staggered up the hill in search of the cliff upon which our car was parked. I backed out, avoiding dogs, children, and a dude carrying a black backpack filled – I presume – with apples self-baking into a not-delicious pie.

On the main road Astrid spotted an apple stand. “We totally could have just gone there,” she said.

Akeyla yawned. “I really, really, really . . .” she trailed off, rubbing her eyes, “never want to go there again.”

chewed apple

the remains of the day


Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Inappropriate Behavior, Self Improvement | 21 Comments

The End of Camping.

There will come a day when I recover enough to tell the tales of The Reedster Camps.

Today is not that day.

Instead, I leave you with this image (click for larger view).

Whoever said “life begins outside your comfort zone” is full of shit.

Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Inappropriate Behavior, Self Improvement, The Reedster Camps | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Reedster Camps | The Movie Trailer

This movie trailer was scheduled to be released yesterday, but our production department ran into some issues with YouTube. Apparently, they weren’t keen on my use of “Under Pressure” by Queen + David Bowie for the soundtrack. Which is odd, because the remaining members of Queen were TOTALLY OKAY with it (hi Brian!), so I’m guessing that David Bowie, suspecting a viral sensation, was all “I WANT MORE MILLIONS! GIMME ALL THE MILLIONS!”

But did I let this minor setback crush my creative spirit? No. No I did not. Instead I went with a royalty-free stock music sound-alike called “Absolute Rush.” I think you’ll enjoy it.

tl;dr David Bowie is probably a greedy asshole so I’m using a fake Rush song instead.

And so, without further ado…

The Reedster Camps | The Movie Trailer

In this rare on-camera interview, Cindy Reed of The Reedster Speaks discusses her highly anticipated camping trip and the challenges ahead. Some people are calling it the best 3 minutes and 43 seconds on the internet.

Posted in Self Improvement, The Reedster Camps | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

I guess I’m going camping.

We’re spending a week with my family in Minnesota so I thought, hey! We should totally extend that to two weeks and camp ourselves silly on the way there and back.

How hard could it be to take the girls on a road trip by myself?

Sure, I’ve never hiked in the four years we’ve lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but those trails are tricky to find. But I do I have kickass hiking shoes. The right one got tons of use this summer when I needed it to balance out the Velcro boot on my broken left foot.

I think the first word most people would use to describe me is “hale.” Sure, there was that bout with mono last fall. And yes, I spent part of our Disney vacation in the Celebration, Florida hospital after Harry Potter tried to kill me, but doesn’t everyone have a funny story like that?

I’ve never towed a trailer, but my dad pulled one behind our station wagon for years so that probably rubbed off on me. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully put up a tent either, but I’m kind of counting on Astrid to handle that.

I wanted to rent this super-cool pop-up camper called the Aliner. You can set that sucker up in like 60 seconds. But I kept not calling the place and not calling the place so when I finally called today, two weeks before our trip, can you believe that it wasn’t available?

Aliner with drop shadow

Sick pop-up trailer. Aliner should totally pay me for mentioning it on my blog or else sponsor our trip.

So I rented a tiny teardrop trailer instead. It’s pretty much a queen bed on wheels. You can’t stand up in it or anything, but it has this place in the trunkish area where you can pop a Coleman stove or just set your Happy Meals out in a line. I’ve never lit a propane stove but my grandma had this old oven you lit with a match and only one time did it sort of explode and melt my sister’s argyle socks.

little guy

Spacious travel trailer for three.

We can’t all fit in the queen bed, but luckily the trailer comes with this tentish thing called the Side Mount Screen Room™ that you suction onto the door. I’m not sure if it has actual sides or if it’s see-through but who cares? I’m comfortable with my aging body.

Tent that may or may not be translucent.

Tent that may or may not be translucent.

I’ll need a hitch and it appears welding might be involved, which is no problem because my dad ran a welding supply company. I practically grew up with a blow torch in my hand. I mean, he never actually let me touch one, but sometimes he would let us suck helium out of a cylinder and make funny voices.

Come to think of it, I’m not completely sure I actually rented that trailer. I talked to the lady and she said to fill in the online form but when I filled it out I realized that my car insurance card expires on July 28, which is two days before I would need the camper. Matt wasn’t home and I tried to get into the USAA site so many times to see why my card was expired even though they keep auto-taking my money that I locked us out of the account. So I just put the expired date down.

I hope she’s not a hardass about current insurance.

Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Self Improvement | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments