The Collection.

The listing service phoned to tell me that in 30 minutes strangers would be traipsing through our for-sale house.  After cramming figurative shit under beds, I raced outside to dispose of the literal shit in the backyard.

As I sprinted around the yard sweeping dog dirt into the pooper scooper, Akeyla called out from the swings. “Mommy, what are you doing?”

“I’m picking up dog poop so nobody steps in it.”

Her face lit up. “I have some dog poop!”

She climbed the ladder to the fort.

She dug around in the corner.

She grasped something in her fist.

And then, my sweet youngest daughter began to chuck petrified pellets of dog shit down to me.

“Akeyla? Why do you have dog poop on top of the playset?” I asked this as though there might be some satisfactory answer. Some method to her madness that wasn’t immediately apparent. Was she trying to keep the yard tidy? Was she planning to go into the fertilizer business? Doing her part to prevent bacteria from leaching into the water table?

She looked at me like I was crazy. Like the answer was so obvious I must be an idiot not to understand why she had lined up dog crap on top of the slide.

“I’m collecting it, Mommy.”

Perhaps Akeyla was onto something. Maybe her collection would be our nest egg. Our version of Star Wars toys in their original boxes. We could stop pouring money into her college account.

From Wikihow, the font of all knowledge, I learned that “the value of a collection increases with its uniqueness, presentation and display interest.” Based on these criteria, I think Akeyla had the right idea.

Every dog turd is a snowflake, no two exactly the same. In other words, the very definition of uniqueness. She presented her collection flawlessly, the lumps of excrement placed in neat rows, calling to mind a sleeve of Oreo cookies, if said cookies were fashioned out of feces. Display interest? Why, one could view the stools from nearly 360 degrees, enjoying their distinctive facets from many angles, like a brilliant cut diamond. A diamond made of dog shit.

But it was too late. She had selflessly dismantled the exhibit to help her mother. Mourning the loss of what might have been a real profit center for our family, I took her inside and made her wash her hands forever.

dog poop

Image credit: Adam Truncale

Posted in Home Improvement, Inappropriate Behavior, Land of Coffee | 28 Comments

Hiking Girl Strikes Again.


Not actually me.

Asheville families on Facebook will not shut up about the awesome hikes they are taking, posting photo after photo of their rosy-cheeked kids bounding around in meadows and peering wide-eyed at mountain vistas.

I want to be Hiking Girl so bad. How hard can it be? I’m already hooked up with swag hiking shoes I bought last summer, when I also aspired to be Hiking Girl. I wore them once to Staples and then another time to “hike” around the subdivision with our Saint Bernard for about a quarter-mile.

I convinced Astrid to join me. Destination? Some waterfall off the Blue Ridge Parkway. ETA? 45 minutes.

An hour and a half later, we were driving back and forth on a side road looking for the turn-off. Five miles down, five miles back. Finally I saw a brown sign that looked foresty so I thought, why not take it? What could go wrong? The road could fairly be described as “Deliverance Meets Breaking Bad.” It was dotted with what I’m guessing were backwoods meth labs and lacked any safe turnaround for about sixteen miles.

After this 32 mile side-trip, I pulled over in the dirt parking lot of a decaying Baptist church, my head sinking into my steering wheel.

“Why is this so hard?” I rhetorically asked my ten-year-old. “Why does everyone else just up and hike and I always mess up?”

“Mom, are you crying?”

“No. Maybe. Yes. I’m just really stressed out and now we wasted the whole nice afternoon and I JUST WANTED TO HIKE WITH MY FAMILY LIKE EVERY OTHER FAMILY IN ASHEVILLE. And post pictures to Facebook of you, like, walking behind a waterfall. It was going to be magical.”

“It’s fine mom.”

“NO!! I want to hike. I gained all this weight this winter and I just want to button my pants. Things were going to change. EVERYTHING HINGED ON THIS HIKE.”

“Aren’t you not supposed to talk to me about your weight? Isn’t that supposed to, like, scar me for life or something?”

“I’m sorry. I meant, um, I just want to be strong and healthy. And to button my pants from September.”

“Can we just go home?”

“NO!! We can’t go home until we hike!”

We ended up at the Folk Art Center. The Folk Art Center is technically on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it’s really just a big craft shop that is basically inside Asheville city limits and like two miles from Astrid’s school. Very “Man vs. Wild.”

The “trail” essentially curved around the parking lot for about two-tenths of a mile. Cars whizzed past on the highway below. The Folk Art Center remained in our line of sight the entire time. After about three minutes, we were back at the minivan.

“Mom, can we just go to Tastee Freez now?”

“Yes, but I’m not getting anything. Because of the pants.”

“Yes, you will.”

It was a long hike across the Tastee Freez parking lot to order my cookie dough Freezee, let me tell you that.

Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Inappropriate Behavior, Land of Tea, Self Improvement | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments

It’s Time to Overthrow all of the Groundhogs.

If you’re looking for “when is winter ever going to end please god let it end” news in Buncombe County, North Carolina, you’ll need to see Nibbles, our resident groundhog.

Nibbles is an asshole who will never let it not be winter. I hate her. Why is she so scared of her shadow anyway? IT’S JUST SHADE, NIBBLES. Is it “throwing shade” at her? WHO DIED AND MADE NIBBLES THE BOSS OF THE WEATHER ANYWAY?


Groundhog. AKA Woodchuck, Marmot.

So I did some digging (it’s funny because RODENTS) to see what woodchucks elsewhere had to say about the nearness of spring.

Things looked grim.

In Raleigh, Sir Walter Wally, perhaps irked by the redundancy of his name, freaked out upon seeing darkness about his corporeal form and shouted “MORE WINTER, MOTHERFUCKERS!” before dashing back underground. (It’s worth noting that Sir Walter Wally “is accurate about 50 percent of the time,” which really ISN’T BEING ACCURATE AT ALL, IS IT MISTER WALLY WALLY??)

In Charlotte, the predictably named Queen Charlotte was hoisted above the head of an adolescent and she immediately conjured up a blizzard.

I conducted a lot of research on groundhogs for this post, most of which just left me troubled about my fellow Americans. For example, “Ridge Lea Larry is a ‘stuffed groundhog’ from Western New York, and the Tennessee Groundhog of Silver Point, Tennessee is actually someone dressed up like a groundhog on a motorcycle.” I’m not sure if Ridge Lea Larry is “stuffed” like Build-a-Bear stuffed, or just dead. I guess one makes as much sense as the other in predicting weather. And Tennessee? Can we just do whatever the hell we want and call it a groundhog prediction? Can I don a furry hat and declare spring next year? (Note to self: Check Good Will to see if Macklemore left any furry hats in stock.)

But then I discovered (what I hope is) the quaint town of Garner, just outside Raleigh. Hi Garner! Garner has its own groundhog right inside of Sir Walter Wally’s kingdom, thumbing his nose at the state capital. I like that kind of chutzpah.

Not only did Mortimer, Garner’s jurisdictional groundhog, predict an early spring, Mortimer doesn’t even fuck with the whole “seeing his shadow” thing at all.

“Rather than seeing his shadow, Mortimer composes a letter to Garner’s mayor, who then reads the prediction aloud.”

THE GARNER GROUNDHOG WRITES A LETTER TO THE MAYOR. This seems completely legit. I’m sure it’s delivered from Mortimer’s burrow in a sealed envelope, probably by a representative from PricewaterhouseCoopers, so there can be no question as to the validity of the results.

I got hold of Mortimer’s 2014 letter:

“Dear Mayor,

I release spring unto you and the people of Garner. Aren’t you glad you’re not under the weather aegis of Sir Walter Wally, he of the oh-so-sketchy royal lineage, over in Raleigh? SWW claims to speak for all the people of Wake County but, in fact, all snow, chill winds, and dipping temperatures will stop at our borders forthwith. While Raleigh suffers winter power outage after winter power outage, here in Garner robins will alight, bunnies shall hop, and the croci will erupt into bloom.

Your Groundhog,


I’m packing up the family and moving to Garner until further notice. Suck it, Nibbles.

Posted in First World Problems | 23 Comments

The Rewards Jar.

reedster rewards jarI instituted a rewards system this weekend, because what kid doesn’t delight in seeing tangible evidence of their good behavior marked by cramming shit into a rinsed-out mayonnaise jar? No kid ever.

I read about it on Pinterest. Basically, you get little containers and every time you “catch” the kids doing something you want to reward, you stuff a cotton ball into the jar. When it fills up, REWARDS ENSUE.

I’d lost parental control of the household. THINGS HAD TO CHANGE AND THESE JARS WERE GOING TO CHANGE THEM.

For Akeyla, my behavioral goal was simple: She needed to quit losing her shit all the time. So every time she actively doesn’t lose her shit, she gets a cotton ball.

She decorated her jar with fairy stickers and checks on it a couple times a day. She’s into it. She’s six.

I asked her what she wanted her reward to be when it fills. “I want to go in the bathtub with mommy in our swimsuits.” So Jacuzzi swimming it is. I can hardly wait.

With Astrid, I’m trying to get her to be more independent, and also to pick up her goddamned socks in the living room. She eyed the jar with disdain. “So, you, like, put a cotton ball in here and what?” she asked.

“Well,” I replied, “when it fills up, you get a reward!” I was selling this cotton ball rewards jar.

“OK. I want to go to Great Wolf Lodge.”

If you haven’t been to Great Wolf Lodge, it’s a fun-for-the-whole-family indoor waterpark and themed lodge and also THE TENTH CIRCLE OF HELL. Never go there. You will not leave without a fucking cheap-ass stuffed pink wolf that cost you $15.99 per child and which you will lose in the parking lot on your way home. Your children will also require “color-your-own-t-shirts” at the Cub Club®, MagiQuest® wands, manicures at the Scooops® Kid Spa, and an uncountable number of pop-a-shot games at the Northern Lights® Arcade. Creepy characters will regale them with sketchy bedtime stories in the lobby and, if you stand under this bucket, eight tons of water might suddenly drop from the sky, crushing and probably killing you.

reedster great wolf lodge

Actually, by Day 3 you’ll be begging to die in this.

“We’re not going to Great Wolf Lodge.”

She tried again. “Fine. Then I want a sleepover with five friends.”

“No. It’s a small jar of cotton balls. I was thinking more on the lines of a Blizzard mini. Or bathtub swimming. That’s what Akeyla is doing. Do you want to win bathtub swimming with mom?”


“Then what? What might be something you’d want to work toward? iPad time? A sleepover with one friend?”

“You already let me do those. Are you going to take stuff away and then I have to win it back? This cotton ball thing is not really giving me any incentive to pick up my socks.”

“How about a medium-sized Blizzard?”



“Do I get a cotton ball because I agreed?”


“I know where the cotton balls are.”

I think I’ve got things under control already.

Posted in Land of Coffee, Land of Tea | 28 Comments

Bedbugs. A Guest Post by My Husband.

My husband is an IT professional, which means sometimes he gets to set up AV equipment for presentations about bedbugs, given by exterminators to apartment dwellers. He live blogged back-to-back events.

DAY #1: bedbugs screen 1bedbugs screen 2

DAY 2:

bedbugs screen 3bedbugs screen 4

Posted in Marital Bliss | Tagged , | 8 Comments