Don’t Look

I had just finished rinsing the shampoo out of my hair when my cell phone rang. I grabbed a towel. Who was calling?

My sister.

“Cover your eyes,” I said, draping myself with the towel. Water ran down my face.

She hung up.

Story_squareShould I call her back? Should I dry myself off first?

The phone rang again. It was my sister again. Oh, good, she’d accidentally hung up.

As I pushed the accept button, I noticed that she had used FaceTime this time.

Facetime is a video phone call.

Well, it was my sister and she only had to see my dripping hair.

“Why are you FaceTiming me?”  I have a knack for insightful questions.

“I wanted you to see my new tooth.” She’d just gotten an implant and so she stretched her mouth to reveal the bright tooth.

And then she started giggling. “Where are you?”

She tried to be polite. She really did. But her tale about the trip to the dentist and her report on her plans for her day were interrupted by snorts and chuckles.

When the techies worked on the chips and circuits that would allow us to combine phone calls with video, I think they had images of salesmen using charts to illustrate quarterly earnings. Or giggling babies reaching out to touch their grandmother who lived across the country. Or a soldier connecting with his wife and kids from a foreign country.

And I’ll bet all those things happen.

But I wonder if their vision ever included new teeth and dripping hair.


All Natural

I live in Colorado farm country. That blends a very dry climate with some hard-working and practical folks.

Which means you see some weird stuff at the farm store. As I stood in the checkout line, I saw a little display box containing little white tubes of a product called Chicken Poop Lip Junk.

Story_squareIt isn’t a joke product. It gets great reviews as the best lip moisturizer ever.

And there’s no poop in it, they state.

I’m a farm kid and there isn’t much that is gross to me, but I’m having trouble thinking of smearing Chicken Poop Lip Junk on my lips.

But there was more at the counter.

Near the Chicken Poop Lip Junk was another box of tubes labelled “Crack Zap It.” This stuff is guaranteed to eliminate the cracks in your fingers in three days. You roll it on like lip balm but on your fingertips, hangnails, peeling skin.

We’re talking dry skin like Mojave desert dry. This is skin that erupts from hard-working hands that handle oil, mud, and cold weather.

I asked my dear husband, who works outside a lot and knows all about cracked finger tips. He liked the idea of Crack Zap It.

“Why don’t you just use hand lotion?” I said.

“I tried it but it’s not thick enough. This stuff might work.” He stared at the wall for a moment. “Do we have any cow salve?”

Cow Salve is a thick product originally used for a cow’s chapped udder but has found new life as a heavy-duty skin ointment.

The lesson for today is that, if you live in farm country, your dry skin is not an issue. You can lather on Chicken Poop Lip Junk, Crack Zap It, and Cow Salve.

All natural, of course.

Those eyes

I’ve heard of husband eyes but hadn’t really experienced kid eyes until the Christmas tree deal.

This eyes thing shows up when someone is sent to a location to look for something and they can’t find it.

Story_squareMy older son, who is now a husband himself, tells me that his wife accuses him of that. This came up after he went looking for a box in a storage room.

“It’s not there,” he told me when he came back. “Although I’m told I have husband eyes so you might want to look.”

I found the box.

But it’s not just the guys.  Our youngest daughter came home from school to ask, “When did you take the Christmas tree down?”

“Three weeks ago,” I said.

“No way.”

Yup. So she pulled her younger brother away from alien attacks in the computer room. “When did Mom take down the Christmas tree?”

He looked up, his eyes wide. “The Christmas tree is down?”

They waited until their father got home to verify this amazing discovery. “Dad, did you notice that Mom took the Christmas tree down?”

He met both their faces with a calm smile and patted our daughter on the shoulder. “Did I notice?” He grinned at them both with that confident look that fathers get when they know the answer. “Did I notice? No.”

Family eyes. They all have it.

The new puppy

My nephews met me at the door of their house. Well, they bounced to the front door and shook their hands like wet rags while they rebounded like pogo sticks. I let myself in.

“We have a new puppy!” said the five year old.

Story_square“He’s our very new puppy. We have a new puppy!” said the four year old.

I gathered that he was new.

They were pointing down the hall to their bathroom. “Um, where is this new puppy?” I asked.

“He’s getting a bath!” said nephew #1.

“Mom is giving him a bath!” said nephew #2.

They were more excited than a hog waiting for the feed bucket.

“Can I go see him?” I asked them.

“Mom’s giving him a bath!” said nephew #1. “We have a new puppy.”

“New puppy,” said nephew #2. He didn’t get the whole sentence out. I guess he was tiring from all the bouncing.

I wanted to see the new addition so I called to my sister. “Are you done?”

“Done,” she said. “Here he comes.”

A long brown leg stepped into the living room.

“Our new puppy!” the boys squealed and wrapped arms around each of the dog’s front legs.

Apparently if you’re four or five years old, all dogs tower like giant sequoia trees.

Because this new puppy turned out to be a two-year-old Great Dane.

A bonding experience

When the mouse skittered across the corner of our kitchen, our family had a rainbow of responses.

Mom and oldest brother sprang to the attack, stomping the mouse’s terrified wake.

Younger sister leaped to a chair and stood there, holding her cheeks with her hands. She would have gotten onto the table but the mouse had interrupted dinner. She didn’t want to step in the gravy.

Story_squareThe mouse blazed into the bathroom where Mom and brother followed, slamming the door behind them.

Sister was doing the two-step on a chair while crashes and shouts came from the bathroom.

“Wonder what that was?” asked younger brother, who had joined me on the sidelines observing. We had both heard the thud like a tree falling.

I laughed. “There’s not much in the bathroom to knock over.”

“I hate mice,” said our sister.

“We can tell.” Our brother was master of the obvious.

Laughter blasted from the bathroom and the sound of boots slapping linoleum and bathtub. Then another crash.

“Hope they hurry up,” brother said. “I’m hungry.”

“Ewwww,” said sister. I was hoping she didn’t put footprints in the mashed potatoes.

“I wonder if the mouse can slide under the door,” said brother. He was watching our sister when he said it. She shrieked on cue and he grinned. Score.

More crashing rolled out of the bathroom and then a war whoop. The door swung wide and our brother emerged.

“Got it!” he said and dropped into his chair at the table to finish dinner. Second brother joined him and a feeding frenzy after a mouse attack seemed imminent.

A lot of bonding went on that evening. Mom and oldest brother bonded in the mouse war. Younger brother and I bonded in observing the chaos.

And our younger sister? Well, she bonded with her chair.

Saber’s Idea

The reason the boys were ready for me when I pulled up in the big van was what they held in their hands.

“We found these!” Saber unfolded his palm to show me a rubber ball on an elastic band.

Story_squareI’ve seen plenty of rubber balls. I began a jaded smile and then he threw the ball down. It bounced high over the building roof with the elastic band unfurling to let it kiss the clouds before rebounding and bouncing again. This little contraption had more energy than a litter of hungry puppies when mama pokes her head into their view.

The boys had finished a week at church camp and I was bringing home a gaggle of eleven-year-olds. Well, if a gaggle was seven, I was bringing a gaggle.

Each of the boys launched a ball above timberline blended with giggles. Boys really can giggle.

I’m a mother. I could see the potential here.

“OK, guys. No bouncing the balls in the van.”

They all nodded and their arms went into hyper drive to get bounces done before they loaded.

Finally we pulled away from camp and made our way down the mountain. All was well until I pulled up at a stop light in town.

Traffic was heavy and I had been watching cars surround us. Then I noticed giggling from behind.

Saber waggled his arm out of the side window. His ball ricocheted off car roofs and zig-zagged between lanes. The elastic band kept the ball in sight but not mannerly.

It took him a minute to retrieve the ball after his driver threatened to dunk him in the lake if he didn’t get the contraption back inside. The strap was pretty easy-going and not easy to gather. Maybe a little like Saber.

Then he rolled up the gadget and stuffed it in his backpack, giving me a smile fit more for angels than gaggles of boys. “I didn’t bounce it in the van,” he said.

No, but he had run the risk of kissing the clouds.

Not so ordinary

There were no ordinary days with our youngest at age five.

I was fixing dinner one evening when he wandered into the kitchen.

“What’s that?” he asked, studying the pan on the stove.

Story_square“Hamburger patties.”

He tilted his head. “Can I call it sook?”

“Those are still hamburger patties.”

But for dinner that night we had sook on a bun.

Another day we went shopping. He carried five pennies into the store and laid them on a shelf. As we were leaving, he discovered his loss and we had to backtrack in search of his loot. We searched long and hard but could only find four pennies.

“We need to go.” I finally laid the law down.

He went, with a long face. “I’m going to miss that penny.”

Not long after that, he came to me with eyes drooping and mouth downturned. “I’m sorry, Mom.”


“I’m sorry, Mom, but I can’t fly.”

How did he figure that out?

We were eating  breakfast when he announced over scrambled eggs, “Do you know what a Gurgler is?”

I had to admit my ignorance.

“They’re a machine that sucks down people and things.”

“Yuck,” I said.

“I hate to tell you this but if you meet one, you’ll die.”

“Oh, no!”

“But it’s OK because they live on the other side of the world.”


“Mom,” he said. “They’re on the movies.” He rolled his eyes while I wondered what movies he’d been watching.

He liked to help me bake so one day we stirred up a batch of muffins using a whisk to mix. Soon the batter stiffened and he lifted the whisk with the muffin ingredients clumped onto it. “Look! I have a lunk!”

He ate the lunk, too, after it baked.

Then came the day when he rushed into the kitchen, his arms flailing and his face red and hot. “Mom! Betsy says I’ll get wigworms if I drink my potty!”

I still can’t get that scenario figured out.

But I’ll bet it wasn’t an ordinary day, either.