Thar She Blows!

thar she blows

Now that we have moved to a hotbed of biodiversity, I’ve determined my children will become outdoorsmen. What’s the point of living in New England if you can’t legitimately rock some L.L. Bean?

Lots of men garner their sportsman skills during boyhood from fathers and grandfathers who lead them on this journey but in our house that is not the case. Sure, when we lived in Turkey I witnessed their father, The Turk, join army friends to hunt wild boars and wow me with sea fishing skills but none of that seemed to make it across the US boarder with his new American passport. This summer, as the Turk hid indoors from mosquitos while the boys and I enjoyed our new wooded homestead, I realized if my little men were to become outdoorsmen, it was up to me.

I decided to started with fishing and while it was a great idea to “teach my men to fish so they could eat for a lifetime,” I wasn’t certain I had the knowledge to be the master baiter. (Hehehehehe. See what I did there? A dirty fishing pun. I’m twelve.) The last time I’d fished was when we lived in Turkey. From a dock in the Aegean, The Turk taught me to angle like the native fishermen using a reel but no rod, bait that looks like bamboo and exercising caution over certain catches. “You catch that one, he electrocute you and you die. Do not catch that one.” My beloved warned. That was my lone lesson and we did pretty well but none of that was going to help me as a freshwater fisherwoman.

Prior to that Aegean outing, my experience consisted of pond fishing in Iowa when my dad would bait the hook, remove the catch and often help his lone daughter cast the line. (Because her coordination was a bit slow to develop.) I was not what one might call a skilled angler. I needed a refresher course if I was going to teach my offspring the ways of the sportsman. Fortunately a family friend is retired nearby and was more than willing to be a surrogate grandpa helping me to hone (Scratch that, I mean, develop) my fishing skills. After a morning at his pond I was ready for a solo run.

We headed to the sporting goods store where I normally spend copious amounts of money on items for peewee football, so it was refreshing to give them my money in a new department. (When I’m eating dog food during my retirement, I will constantly remind my offspring that my 401K was spent on football gear.) After gathering the requisite equipment it was time to make it official and get a license. The keeper of the fish department issued my license but must have been looking at Number 1 when he filled in the “physical description” segment. According to my fishing license I’m a blue-eyed blonde weighing 120 pounds and while that’s flattering, I’m a green-eyed burnette and haven’t weighed 120 pounds since the 5th grade, but I’ll take it.

Our first excursion was a success likely because I’d spent several hours at home preparing the rods while cursing the process. A fat dude at a skeezy bait shop recommended a nearby dock and though his shop likely doubled as a mob front, he knew his quality fishing spots. (Likely because he needed occasional drop spots for his mob business involving cement shoes.) The boys reeled them in one after another.

One thing I didn’t take into account about leading my boys to sportmanship was the gross-out factor. When you take two kids fishing alone, you are in a constant swirl of wormy hands, tangled lines and slimy fish thrust in your face. It’s parental purgatory. Who actually enjoys the touch of slimy fish while freeing them from capture or the feel of worm guts under mildly manicured nails? Not I, but just like you can never let dogs see your fear, you can never let your sons see your gross-out factor. That simply provides them with an upper hand. (P.S. – having brothers is a huge asset to a gal grooming boys to become men.) As the fish came flying at my face followed by “Mom! I got one! Take it off and help me put on a new worm.” I muttered my mantra, “I’ve touched worse…I’ve touched worse.”

Nugget is down with fishing but his interest only lasts about 10 minutes then I spend the remainder of the outing untangling his line, (that he’s attached to everything from nearby trees to my thigh) plying him with snacks and trying to keep him from falling in. Last week while he was in summer school I had the luxury of taking only 1 kid fishing. Foolishly, I believed it would be relaxing like fishing appears to be on beer commercials. With his first cast he caught a tree and needed his pole restrung, then there was a broken reel and the fish that swallowed the hook. After averting disaster for 5 full minutes and swearing non-stop under my breath, I was ready to test the repaired line. Immediately I  hooked something Number 1 and I were certain was the freshwater brother of Moby Dick.

“Hold on Mom! It’s a big one!”

I tried to be cool but it was impossible. This was it. I had a big one. “It won’t reel! I can’t get it to work!” (I’m still working on my repair skills.) I was frantically spinning the handle while watching my pole bend like a scene from a National Geographic show about Amazonian monster fish. The pressure was palpable. Here I was, showing my son girl-power in action. His mother was about to reel in a big-ass fish!

“Don’t lose it Mom!” His excitement was building and he was jumping up and down a little too close to the edge. I did not want to face the choice of saving my child or reeling in my big–ass fish because I can’t guarantee I’d drop my pole. (Don’t judge, the kid can swim.)

Fortunately I didn’t have a Sophie’s Choice moment because my line snapped. I watched as my bobber, bait and line all took off across the water. Moments later a penis-like head popped up near the bobber. Because I am missing the parental edit button that prevents me from the deletion of potty words in front of my offspring, I yelled – “Screw you dickhead! You might have broken my line but you head looks like a penis!” As the words came out of my mouth I wished I was with my one-eared kid who only hears half of my profanity.

“Mom!” My judgmental ten-year-old exclaimed. But within seconds he reconsidered, “I mean you are right. His head does kind of look like a penis.”

So it wasn’t a big-ass fish. It was just a big-ass turtle but it was a nice teachable moment for my son to understand the importance of accurate trash talk. My sportsman development has a ways to go but I’m finding more joy than anticipated in the ride. Especially when the Turk opens his beer fridge and screams, “What the hell? Why there are worm in my fridge?”

 

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Siri’s Cousin Done Lost Her Mind

female fire fighters

One of the tasks of moving into a new house is trying to understand all the idiosyncrasies of your new purchase. Do you need to lift and pull that bathroom door or pound it like Fonzi? For someone like me – my mother used to call it a vivid imagination but I think the real term is just crazy- this also leads to an in-depth psychological profiling of the previous owners. Thanks to our relentless years of relocations, the Turk and I have had a plethora of opportunities for both of the above.

Upon moving into one house we discovered vents stuffed with soiled children’s underwear. (Fo reals. Equal parts gross and disturbing.) Another home contained a poorly constructed sub-wall possessing a  hidden shelving system (I determined it was for the previous owners’ S&M life but the Turk just thought it was a bad construction project.) And then there’s our current home with the nursery’s doorknob installed backwards so the lock locks from the outside, conveniently locking the child IN the room. (All parents muse about this but who actually does it!?!) Nugget discovered that little perk and seized the opportunity to lock his unsuspecting brother in the bedroom. He claims to have done it “accidewentwee” but we know Nugget better than that.

All of those little oddities were strange but manageable. However, last night’s new house idiosyncrasy was nearly deadly. Our little Turks were tucked away in their beds (with the door NOT locked from the outside- just in case you were wondering) while the Turk and I lay in our bed watching an in-depth documentary on the current status of interstellar matter when…ok, we totally were not. We were watching what we watch every Friday night – Mama June, Not to Hot – I just can’t break free of that damn Honey BooBoo’s clutches and the Turk appreciates the way they caption the cast members with missing teeth and strong accents. We like to keep our trashy side strong. Just as all hell was about to break lose at the Vegas of wedding of Mama June’s daughter, a series of alarms began blaring throughout our house. I sprang from my bed with a speed and intensity only previously seen when a child makes pre-barf noises.

“Fire! Fire!” shouted the voice of a robotic woman who I immediately assumed was Siri’s cousin.

Siri’s cousin didn’t stick to her “Fire” line for long. She changed things up and began yelling, “Carbon monoxide warning! Carbon monoxide warning!”

While the blaring siren rang throughout, the Turk and I ran from room to room making sure we were not on fire or filling with noxious gas. Once we determined that bitch was a liar, we tried to quiet the broad but she would not be silenced. While the Turk wrestled with the batteries (Spoiler alert: we later learned they were hard wired so that was an exercise in futility.) I jumped up and down below the alarm waving a kitchen towel because that’s what you do when you burn popcorn right?

The blaring continued and my heart was about to beat out of my chest. It seemed I don’t currently possess the physical condition necessary for springing from the bed combined with repeated flailing with a kitchen towel. The combination of panic and exertion were taking a toll.

What if there was a smokeless fire in some area we couldn’t see?

Was the heater we’ve never turned on leaking gas and about to kill us in our sleep?

Was it the hot water heater we’d been putting off replacing?

How the hell will I get my kids back to sleep?

Why aren’t the kids awake? OH MY GOD IT’S THE GASSSSSS!

And then, silence. They stopped.

Ironically, our cracker box sized home has five, yes, five smoke detectors split between the three bedrooms upstairs and two more detectors downstairs plus two in the basement. If this house goes up, ain’t no way the entire state of Massachusetts won’t hear it. It wasn’t surprising that Nugget didn’t hear his. He’s only got one ear and if he’s sleeping on the ear he does have that kid can sleep though a war. As for Number 1, I worried he might be dead since he was still sleeping. I pulled up each eyelid and felt for chest movement. Not dead, just post-football tired.

I began throwing open all the windows to ventilate the house in the event that there really was carbon monoxide.

“Why you do that? It’s too hot.” The Turk asked. “Nothing is wrong.”

“Well if there’s not an issue, why do the alarms keep going off?” I asked.

“They’re not.” The Turk retorted.

Right on cue, Siri’s bitchy cousin started again.

Screaming over the blaring alarm and Siri’s cousin yelling, Fire! Fire! Carbon Monoxide Warning! Carbon Monoxide Warning! I countered, “What the hell do you mean the alarms are not going off? You hear that right?”

“Yes, I hear that. They are not going off. They are on. The keep going on.”

Touché Turk. Damn you English.

“Ok, yes. But in English we say the alarms are going off when they are actually going on.” It’s tough to defend English grammar during an emergency.

“That is stupid.”

“I know but you’ve been speaking English for like 20 years. How is this new information? Never mind. Just make them stop!”

When silence finally descended and we’d made sure there were no flames or gas, we returned to bed. The windows were open for ventilation, just in case, while I struggled to harness my crazy. I’d watched an interview earlier with two women who’d died and come back. I couldn’t help but believe this was a sign that the universe was preparing me for my forever nap. Then I began worrying about who would find our bodies. We don’t know anyone in the area yet and the Turk’s been traveling a lot so it wouldn’t be alarming if he didn’t come to work for a few days. Would the cat eat our faces? He seems like the kind of cat that would. Would the mailman eventually check in when the bills piled up? My only hope lay with Number 1’s football coach eventually calling the cops because his fullback hadn’t shown up for a few practices.

“I think we Google what is going on.” The Turk said but upon seeing the look of fear on the three inches of my face that was peeking out from beneath the covers, he rethought his directive. “Maybe, I do it. You will just see things that make you even more crazy.” He knows me well.

Ultimately he ruled the situation was linked to a recent electrical issue and power surges the electric company has been working on over the past month. (Stay tuned for that tale of horror.) According to Google, power surges can make Siri’s cousin go whacko and require a reboot or replacement. I voted for the latter. I couldn’t risk Siri’s cousin ruining my trash television experience again.

12 hours later we returned home with $400 worth of new detectors and Siri’s cousin got an upgrade. But the Turk and his own brand of crazy decided it was best if we didn’t leave our survival up to Siri’s cousin alone. He branched out and bought every fire and carbon monoxide detector he could find adding six more to the eight already in place, just in case Siri’s cousin hadn’t gotten zapped. When we sell this house, we want to make sure the next homeowners know from the start that we were some crazy-ass homeowners.

Hotel Horror: Free Breakfast Does Not Trump A Hairy Shower

hotel

If you’ve been following along (And I know you have been because our life has been a wreck lately and you all have gaper delay.) the past few months have been a special brand of relocation hell. The day school ended we loaded up and began the process of moving all of our worldly possessions from suburban Indianapolis to the Boston area, 957 miles away.

Having made it through the gruesome process of loading the moving van (read all about it here if you missed it) it was time to pack up the Hyundai like the Klampets heading to Beverly Hills.

957 miles in a car with two children, one spouse and a cat, provide a gal with lots of time to ponder. It’s not a journey I’d recommend so to save you the anguish, here are a few things I learned during those 957 miles:

  • Fitted with a ridiculously ugly car topper procured from a retiree on Craig’s List, one can fit an obscene amount of crap into a 10-year-old Santa Fe, including a box of things the packers missed and an Instant Pot in case one wants to cook in a hotel. (What was I thinking? Who even does this?)
  • Regardless of how much one researches about the best way to travel with a domesticated feline, if said feline decides he will be free-range on an inter-state journey, he will be free-range.
  • A Turk with road rage can intimidate even a psychotic truck driver in an 18- wheeler. (While simultaneously terrifying all passengers in the car to tears.)
  • When near the Canadian border, one can pick up a radio station broadcasting completely in Turkish. (Though full disclosure, it did stir up a little PTSD from my years in Turkey.)

And most importantly,

  • If a relocation agent says, “I’ve not seen the property but it checks all the requirements,” proceed with caution.

After two days of driving we arrived at our temporary housing ready for much deserved sleep. From the peeling paint and cigarette butts ushering us to the door like a trashy Vegas wedding aisle, we knew doom was looming. Relocations with the Turk’s company never take the discount route so the outward appearance of the dwelling was a big ‘ol red flag.

This “extended stay suite” might have better been labeled a “prolonged misfortune hell-hole.” Though the Turk became hostile the second the door swung open, exhaustion allowed me to look past the ceiling light hanging by a frayed wire, burned foil lining the stove burners with charred food remnants still in tact and the fist-sized hole in the “sitting room” where a television likely once hung. I was displeased but willing to give it a shot…until…I found a colossal pube in the in the shower before we even put our bags down.

Now I can risk death by electrocution by no-longer recessed, recessed lighting. I can put up a solid battle against salmonella on a dirty cook top, but showering with a stray pube from a freakin’ interloper? Ah hells no.

Immediately the Turk had me on the phone trying to sweet talk the good woman at a nearby Hampton into saving our pube-fearing souls. Alas, they were booked up but upon hearing my tale of woe (and of course, I included the ownerless pube for effect) she was able to book us early the next day in a “family suite.” Just what a “family suite” consisted of was yet to be determined and our skepticism was running high but we had no choice. We slept with one eye open, avoided the shower and awaited our new accommodations.

The Hampton family suite was exactly what we needed, a kitchenette with a microwave, mini-fridge and sink, 2 sleeping areas and as requested by Nugget, a hot tub (and pool)one floor away. (No one’s sure why Nugget loves a hot tub since he never gets in but Nugget is an anomaly.) Upon arrival I conducted an immediate ‘pube check’ and after coming up empty I gave the all clear for the team to unpack and commence wrecking havoc on our new temporary home.

We arrived in our new digs on Monday and our truck was expected to arrive Friday. After signing our lives away during the closing mid-week, I threw myself into the horrific process of sanitizing a home following ownership by some less-than-tidy dog owners. (FYI – trying to clean carpet that reeks of dog only makes it more oderifirus than one might imagine. Thankfully, 1-800-EMPIRE really does have next-day service.) I cleaned dog hair from every surface including the depths of the freezer but thankfully, no pubes.

Certain our truck was arriving on time, I strong-armed the Turk into painting the entire upstairs, inclusive of the rainbow stripes in Number One’s bedroom. (I’m love me the Pride flag in every form but for some reason my 10 year-old son doesn’t share my feeling. What evs kid.) I love my family dearly but at that point we were 6 days into sharing a hotel room and the depths of my love were being significantly tested. I was going to be ready when that moving van pulled in. 

Friday came and went with no word from the moving company. When Saturday turned out the same, I did the walk of shame to the stoner who took the weekend shift at our hotel’s front desk.

“Yeah, I’m going to need to extend our stay…again.”

“Whoa. No truck?”

“Nope.”

“Harsh yo. Any word?”

“Nope.”

“I’ll extend you until Tuesday. Positive vibes right?”

I made my best attempt at a smile for the stoner before schlepping 2 kids to the pool alone for the 7th time because the Turk has cootie fears regarding public pools. The man is a water engineer so he probably knows things but still… he sucks.

When Sunday passed with no attempt to schedule an arrival time from the moving company I began to break. Wine, chocolate and even those little happy pills my doctor gave me for the move were no longer quelling the hostility welling within. No woman deserves to share one room with her entire family for 8 days with no end in sight. Never.

Stress insomnia took over as I listened to 3 snoring Turks. I fumed as I pulled out a new book I’d purchased weeks prior. It was the tale of a mother gone mad, who had thrown her kids from a bridge before plotting to kill her husband. I made it through one chapter before determining this tome might best be left for later.

At breakfast, two hours later, the message finally came. Our moving van had arrived. However, it was stuck at the bottom of our narrow, winding and tree-lined driveway. It wasn’t ideal but at least I was getting sprung from hotel hell before I threw anybody off the bridge to Cape Cod. Thanks Universe. I look a little chunky in prison orange.

 

Load ‘Em Up And Move ‘Em Out

packing and moving

The email from our relocation agent concluded, “We realize that relocations can be difficult so we are here to make the transition as seamless and comfortable as possible for you and all members of your family.” Were this my first relocation rodeo, I might have bought this line, but I’ve done the relocation jam a few times so in response to the email all I could think was, “bitch please.”

From past experience, (And I’ve had way too much experience with moves.) I know that the load out is the worst. When you have control issues, like myself, it’s even worse. It might not be bamboo under your fingernails while being held hostage in a goat crate bad, but it feels about like that.

Load out week is when the proverbial crap hits the turbo fan. Packers show up and progress at a pace that illustrates utter disdain for any form of organization you may have attempted to put into place. Bubble wrap and packing tape flow like confetti at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Boxes form a modern art version of Mt. Rushmore in your garage and every ounce of hostility or contempt you’ve suppressed towards your spouse for the entirety of your union flows to the surface like the damn Mississippi. It’s an ugly, ugly time.

Having traversed this path before, I knew what was coming. However, I tried to block  out the horrors when I realized this particulair move out week would coincide with my end of the school year. The same week I would be wrapping up a job, finishing grades, preparing to close on a house, finishing underwriting on a new house and dealing with my own children who were done with their educational pursuits and ready to wreck summertime havoc, total strangers would be shoving my earthy possessions into a semi without my watchful eye. Conversely the children I teach were likewise ready to be done for the summer, acting like rabid monkeys while partaking in a final week full of exhaustive “special” activities. I was on the precipice of mayhem.

This timing meant there was no choice but to turn over the reins to the Turk but the mere thought of such an action gave me palpitations. In an attempt to maintain a sembelance of control, I woke at 4:00am daily to organize the packing and leave psycho post-it notes on virtually everything. “Pack!”  “Don’t Pack!”  “Pack Carefully!” (PS – had I encountered my own post-its, I’d have immediately hated me.)  I laid out all this psychosis before going to work at 7:00 where I did thinks like standing in a stream with a bunch of middle schoolers in 90 degree heat or leading group hikes without mentioning the giant snake that crossed the trail before us.

Initially I’d crafted a much more sensible plan. I was going to finish teaching Friday, have the packers on Saturday, load the truck on Sunday and leave Monday allowing me to orchestrate every moment without relying on the Turk. Perfection. But then the moving company changed their mind and the crap-tastic moving maelstrom began.

The packers arrived mid-week while I was at work rather than Saturday as was scheduled in my master plan. They then informed us the moving van would arrive on Friday rather than Monday shooting my plan completely to hell. While the Turk was awed by the two heavily tattooed and equally heavily muscled women packing our house, I was left void of all control and near death by anxiety. When I arrived home from work to the disarray, I’m pretty sure the look of terror in our cat Cengiz’s eyes was the same one reflected in mine. I harkened back to the earlier email, “…we are here to make the transition as seamless and comfortable as possible for you and all members of your family.” In that moment, even the cat was thinking, “Bitch please.”

The night before the truck was to load, I had to go to graduation to say my final, tearful goodbyes to my school babies. I tucked my mini-Turks safely away at grandma’s and left the Turk with some important tasks at the house in lieu of child rearing.

1 – Get Cengiz to what the The Turk likes to call, “The Cat Hotel” (aka boarding) to avoid traumatizing the surly cat any further.

2 – Clean the refrigerator. (Including scrubbing Nugget goo off the doors.)

3 – Clean so I don’t have to clean the entire house before we roll out.

If you’re a regular reader, (and I’m sure you are…) you know how the Turk responds to to-do lists. I rushed home from grandma’s the next morning before work only to be met at the door by Cengiz.

“Why is the cat still here?” I asked.

“He did not want to go.”

“You’re kidding me right? How do you know this?”

“He tell me.”

“You speak cat now?”

“Yes. Turks are very connected to animals.”

I tried to do one of those deep breathing techniques we teach the kids at school to keep them from having a meltdown. It worked for like two seconds until I opened the fridge.

“What the hell? Why is this still full and gross?”

“I can do it.”

“But the whole point was you stayed here to do it last night.”

“Well I started with the beer fridge. I got that done though.”

“You cleaned out the beer fridge? Let me guess, by drinking it clean?”

“Yes. How else I clean it?”

Before I could express my profanity laden frustration rant, a massive semi pulled into our little segement of suburbia. It was gameday and we were painfully unprepared.

I had less than an hour before I needed to be at work and my hostility and anxiety were in overdrive.

I began throwing orders at the Turk, “Get the cat in the carrier. I’ll take him to the Cat Hotel.” before heading off to instill adequate fear into the moving crew. I needed to insure supreme care and caution would be exercised in my absence. (I may be 5’4 and squishy but in my mind I’m like 6’7” and intimidating as hell.) Five minutes later I returned to find the cat holed-up under a futon with the Turk on his knees pleading.

“Come out Cengiz. It be ok. You will love the Cat Hotel. You meet friends. It be fun. I promise.”

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“See? He not want to go.”

“It doesn’t matter! Get the cat in the carrier. I have to go.”

I watched the Turk click, snap, use baby talk and even use Turkish sweet nothings but Cengiz wasn’t coming out. I’m all for letting people pursue their own methodology but sometimes there is no time for such madness when my method is proven.

I snapped to Number One Son waiting downstairs who magically appeared with his brother, both clutching the cat carrier. Stepping over the Turk, I clutched the futon and She-Hulked that badboy across the room, grabbed Cengiz by his neck scruff and put him in the carrier. Done.

The Turk put him in the car all the while cooing and reassuring the cat.

The entire load-out would progress in a similar fashion. The Turk was left in charge but I’m sure you know who had to finish the job with a hostile cleaning in 99% humidity at the end of the process. But hey, at least the beer fridge was clean.

Somehow, it all got loaded, the house got cleaned and Cengiz treated his first stay at a Cat Hotel like a spa visit. Most importantly, I will not disclose how much wine it took to get me through phase one.

 

Hold On, I’ll Grab My Metal Bra.

female viking 1 (1)

For the past few weeks my life has been nothing but anxiety, packing tape and exhaustion. Now that we’ve officially started the epic journey of relocating our family (and cat) from Indiana to Boston, I’ve spent every second I am not working or attending to the task of keeping my offspring alive, packing or painting or pitching or bitching and often it’s all of the above simultaneously. It sucks. Moving sucks. Selling a house sucks. Buying a house sucks. It all just sucks. What sucks more is that by no choice of their own, this has become my kids’ life too.

“Mom, where is my Eagles jersey?”

Sorry buddy, I packed it.

“Mom, where is my blue Nerf gun?”

Sorry buddy, I packed it.

“Hey Mom, I can only find one pair of underwear.”

Oops, perhaps I packed too much.

Due to our familial crap show of late, I owed my dudes a little fun while Baba was out in Boston house hunting. When my dear friend (who I’m about to abandon amid the Hoosiers) suggested we take our male-spawns to Vikingfest, how could I say no?

Full disclosure, I don’t know a lot about vikings. I know they’re scruffy and untamed. (Much like my children.) I know they are surly and hostile. (Again, much like my children.) I know they are all named Thor and usually wear horns on their heads and pigtails. I know they ride boats and like to carve broads with big hooters on the fronts  of said boats and I know that their female counterparts wear metal bras. (I learned that from Elmer Fudd so it’s legit.) But the ad for Vikingfest promised ax throwing, jousting and traditional food and unless it’s a cannibal convention, I’m always in with the phrase “traditional food.” We were in.

After driving past the venue twice, we finally arrived to a giant field with a huge fire burning in the center which I hoped was for viking burials or at least a good virgin sacrifice. (Spoiler alert, we caught neither but we were there during daylight hours so I hold out hope.)  Aside from the fire, the entrance was a bit underwhelming but we were all game for an adventure so we pressed on with hopeful souls.

As we made our way to the “Wolf Petting” (Spoiler alert – it might have been a husky.) we met our first vikings. She wore a metal bra (SeeElmer Fudd IS historically accurate.) and was wrapped in a skimpy but seemingly vikingesque ensemble. Her male counterpart wore horns on his head and was dripping in faux furs. That couple was all I needed and I was 100% in on the adventure. If grown-ass adults are willing to don full costumes on a chilly Sunday morning and commit to this adventure I was down enough to pretend that a husky was a wolf too.

We soon learned that first couple were just an introduction. Down a winding path through the woods, we found a viking village fully stocked with grown-ass adult cosplayers who were so into their roles, they refused to admit their real names were not Asgaut and Esbjorn. I get it. It’s hard to be a pillaging bad-ass named Larry. But that was real commitment.

These modern-day vikings committed to their roles so hard that most had even camped there over the weekend under nothing more than traditional lean tos. I respect commitment but it was 30 degrees that night and there was was a Holiday Inn just down the road – vikings are not a sensible people.

During the hands-on-fashion segment of the experience, one could slip on a nice chainmail top and a festive steele helmut while accessorizing with a throwing axe. Fearing the enticing combination of chainmail and cleavage, I determined my rocking such an ensemble might be too much for the nerd population so I left the fashion segment to Number 1 Son. As a viking supposedly named Asguat but likely named Steve, slipped the chainmail over my son, I waited for his Turkish conqueror genetics to take over. I expected him to embrace his proven link to Genghis Khan. (Fo reals – I heard it on NPR, 98% of all males of Turkish and Arab descent share DNA with Genghis Khan which so explains Nugget.) I hoped for a battle roar and an arm raised in victory. Instead I got, “Ow. Mom, this is heavy. I don’t want to wear it.”  So much for genetics.

Overall I’m pretty nerdy by nature. I’ve got a solid knowledge of all things Star Wars and if an episode of classic Star Trek is on, I’m there. Oh, and don’t expect to see me do anything but bask in the glory of the Christmas Doctor Who marathon. My nerd hand is definitely strong, but I’ve never cosplayed. I mean not since I rocked my Wonder Woman Underooos back in ‘82. I was a professional costume designer for years back in  Philly but it never once crossed my mind to get into this whole world of make believe. However, I’m ridiculously fascinated by the concept of cosplay. What makes these people go all in and what keeps me from joining in the nerddom?

The more weekend warriors we encountered, the more my fascinated grew. Walking around in pelts and a metal bra all day before bedding down on some pine needles and wolf-hides for the night in the middle of suburbia doesn’t call to me. At all. But these people were game-on all weekend long and that’s when I got it.

Vikingfest, just like all the other events that draw cosplayers like moths to flames, are escapes. That chubby dude in the fur tunic sucking on the giant turkey leg is likely an I.T. guy. The only war he wages all week is against people using PASSWORD as their company password. But for one weekend in some unnamed park in the middle of nowhere, he can pretend to be a total badass named Tahvo. Let’s let him have that with respect because tomorrow Tahvo will be the guy saving those files you thought you’d saved while staring over his glasses and scoffing at your stupidity.

If anybody could use an escape from reality right now it’s a full-time working mom at the end of the school year, selling her house while simultaneously buying another 1000 miles away, packing up an entire family (and cat) to move across the country the day school ends. So pass me a metal bra and pour me a drink Tahvo, Brunhilda might be joining you soon!

female viking

 

I’m Probably Going To Hell

woman hypnotist (1)

There is a 90% chance I’m going to hell. A few years ago it might have been closer to an 80% chance but it’s been a rough patch recently. Easter is usually a time when my heathenistic nature is made clear as the appearance of eggs, bunnies and crucifixes tends to spur familiar conversations between the Turk and I.

“I never get it, why bunny? Did Jesus turn into bunny?”

“No. That’s just stupid.”

“Is it? Every year I ask and every year no one can explain.”

“Oh I explain it, you just never listen.”

“And does rabbit come from egg? No. So why eggs?”

It usually goes on and on like this until I hide away like a mole rat in a dark, secluded area far from my husband who was raised in a Muslim country completely void of gummy eggs and chocolate bunnies. We’ve been doing this for a ridiculously long time so when this year’s round started I didn’t think much of it.

On a rainy Sunday, we drove past the local Catholic Church over-flowing with cars. I should probably note, this is the same Catholic Church I weaseled my way into a couple years ago for Number 1 Son to make his first communion. Though I’m a card carrying heathen, I’m also aware that mistakes can be made and if this whole Jesus thing pans out, I don’t want to have sacrificed the souls of my offspring, so I like to cover my bases. Every month the Church sends us requests for money with our names horrifically misspelled. We laugh manically while shredding the request and the Church keeps a family of ethnically diverse names on the registry amid the thousands of Smiths and Johnsons. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Seeing the crowded parking lot reminded me to ask the Turk, “Do you have Good Friday off?”

To which he replied, “Every Friday is good. Why is one more good than the others?”

Just as I was about to give myself a stroke from rolling my eyes back in my head, Number 1 chimed up from the backseat. “Baba, that’s the day Jesus died.”

The Turk searched for clarity, “But he come back again later?”

“Yes,” I chimed in. “He rolled up on the crowd a few days later and needless to say, they were a bit shocked. I guess it’s like when you think your boss is out of town and he comes back early. I mean, on a big scale.” (Sister Nora would be so proud.)

I thought that would end it but no. From the backseat Number 1 asked, “Wait, if Jesus died then got out of his grave later, doesn’t that make him a zombie?”

Being a long-time fan of all things zombie (old school Night of the Living Dead not this new school Walking Dead crap) I was more than proud that my little cherub had somehow taken in zombie science by osmosis from his mother.

We debated the concept for a while until Number 1 added, “So if we take communion then don’t we technically become zombies too?”

Kid, you spent one freaking year in Catechism and somehow you managed to pay attention to the one part of the whole doctrine that most find pretty creepy. Nice. Not wanting to get further into a theological debate with either Number 1 nor his father, I tried to shut it down by throwing my attention to the Nugget. However, Nugget was elbow deep in a bag of animal crackers and had nothing to say except, “Wook Mom, I ate dis guy’s head off.” He proudly held up a decapitated pachyderm. Nugget often chooses to utilizes the fact that he only has one ear to find a little peace in our nut-job family.

Fast forward to yesterday and me chasing a naked Nugget around the house trying to get him into the shower. In desperation, I tried a conversation technique to distract him long enough to cleanse.

“So how was school today?”

I expected a generic, “Good,” maybe peppered with a bit of “I had fun.” But no.

Instead he said, “Today at thool, I told da kids about Jesus.”

Noooooooooooooo!  “Um, you told the kids what honey?”

“First, I told dem dat Jesus died on de cross.” He stated.

Relieved I continued, “Really?” I wasn’t impressed that my kid was preaching the gospel in preK but since he’d only started talking a year ago and he’s still not a fan of interacting with same age peers, I was just happy he was having a conversation.

“What else did you talk about Nugs?”

By this point he was shimmying in the shower covered in bubbles tossing out information between dance moves. “Den I told dem Jesus is a zombie.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Jesus is a zombie. Dat’s what you said.”

Panic overtook me. Do they call CPS for training one’s children as  a heathen? Was there a red button on the desk for teachers to press in a religious emergency? This is Indiana and they take their religion seriously here. For the love of God, they made Mike Pence.

“So….” I ventured carefully, “what did your friends say to the news of zombie Jesus?”

“Nuffing. Michael said Jesus is in your heart so it’s ok if he’s a zombie.”

And there you have it. So on this Easter weekend just remember…If Jesus is in your heart, he might be a zombie…and clearly, I am going to hell.

Walkin’ The Floors…Carefully

Turk at work

“Welcome to Lowes, how can I help you?” The woman in the blue apron offered a somewhat fearful grin, a move I couldn’t blame her for donning. I was standing at the paint counter with one child repeatedly pushing the “For Help Press Here” button and a second doing a drum solo with paint stirrers. There also may or may not have been flour in my hair and pumpkin dripping down my sweatshirt. Can you help me? Girl, where do I begin?

“I need you to save my husband’s life.” I explained.

The Lowes’ paint lady’s face grew serious. She leaned forward, raised and eyebrow and said in the most sober voice, “Honey, I can help. I do this often.”

She stood back, adjusted her apron and continued, “What did he do? Wrong color? Wrong room? Giant paint stain in the middle of the living room floor? Or did he decide to do a quick ‘touch-up’ the night before Thanksgiving and ruined the entire wall?”

I stood there in slack-jawed awe, “How did you know?”

She nodded with a knowing smirk, “You’re my third one today.”

In a strange way, I was comforted by the thought that women across the tri-county area shared my dismay. Were they too victims of stubborn foreign husbands who watched too much HGTV which led these crazed foreigners to a false believe that DIY renovations were “easy”? Was it possible American husbands suffered this same affliction? It didn’t matter. What mattered was that I was not alone.

It started in September when the Turk found a deal on flooring at Costco. (If you don’t have a foreigner in your life, you will never understand the draw of Costco on the immigrant population of America. If you do have a foreigner- solidarity sister.) I’d been begging for new flooring from the day we signed the papers on our little slice of the American dream/money pit. The already disgusting, cream carpet we’d inherited was never meant for a world with Nugget. I’ve spent the last 3 years renting carpet cleaners every few months, crawling around with a spot cleaner and chasing Nugget with a bottle of my own cleaning concoction trying to keep our rugs from looking like those found in an Atlantic City casino (thankfully minus the cigarette burns). However this summer, the carpets won. There was no more saving them so when the Turk found his “great price,” on flooring, I was weak and I succumbed.

“It not cost much if I do it myself.” He boasted.

“But you don’t know how to do flooring.” I countered.

“It easy. I can do in 2 days. It so easy, it only snap together. All I need are few tools.”

“But…” I tried.

“No. I am engineer. I can handle putting in living room floor.”

“But you’re a water engineer and if we were putting in a living room fountain I’d be behind this 100, but…”

“I take off 2 days and I get done while you guys at school. You not even notice. We be done for Thanksgiving.”

As a women who has been married to this man for more than a decade, I knew this statement was absolutely false. I knew it would not take 2 days and I knew there was no way this man could disassemble half of our bottom floor without issue. But I also really, really wanted floors that were not crispy so sometimes a wife has to have blind faith.

Day 1: My entire home was covered in a thin film of carpet stank and dust but it was nice to arrive home to floors that didn’t look like they could be used on the a CSI episode. Plus we did have some quality family time pulling staples out. (The first of many things the Turk hadn’t thought of in this process.)

Day 2: Like a fool, I thougth I might arrive home after a long day of work to see the beginning of my new hardwoods appearing. Nope. Instead I found the exact same floor I’d left (stapeles and all) with the added bonus of gray strips and slashes on my tan walls.

“Um, what the hell happened here?” I tried to remain cool but off to the side Number One was muttering to Nugget, “I told you Mom was going to be sooooooo mad.”

“What?” The Turk feigned stupidity.

“Are you serious? What the hell did you do to the walls? You were working on the floors, how did you manage to destroy the walls in the process?”

“It still wet. It will match when it dry.” He pleaded.

“Fool, it doesn’t dry lighter it dries darker. You used dark gray paint to touch-up our tan walls. How did you not notice this?” Here is where I need to explain that the Turk didn’t simply touch up a couple spots above the baseboards (…where he put huge holes in the walls removing the carpet but that’s a story for another time.) No, he got so involved with his touching up that he painted swipes as far as he could reach and instead of touch-up dots, he went with large patches and whirling swipes of the wrong color. He felt so successful doing it on one wall that he went on to do it on 3 more, including the wall with the vaulted ceiling. When he does something, that Turk does it big.

As I sat on the staple-riddled subflooring staring at my tan and gray zebra walls, I wondered what were the odds the garbage men would notice if I rolled the Turks lifeless body deep within the recently extracted carpet. But then I realized I have children to raise and jumpsuits like those worn in the pokey certainly don’t work for my body type. Instead, I abandoned all hope of hosting Thanksgiving dinner, had a healthy glass of wine and called it a day.

Sunday afternoon, a full week after the “2 day” project had begun, it was over. With the help of that magical fairy in the blue apron at Lowes, some techniques I’d mastered back in art school and countless profanities muttered under my breath, I managed to fix my walls without any Turkish intervention.

To the Turk’s credit, my floors were beautiful even if they did take far longer than promised and to celebrate his craftsmanship, he promptly covered them with a massive Turkish rug.

You can take the Turk out of Turkey but…you know the rest…

Arrrrrrgggg, Fall Break, How Dare Ye!

Blackbeard

I’m having a difficult relationship with fall break this year. I’m torn and I think it might be best if fall break and I see other people.

Don’t get me wrong, like any human who spends their days in the trenches, dodging free-range sneezes and sauntering through unexpected fart bombs having chosen the title of Teacher, I love me some fall break. After two hard months of school, (2 months immersed in middle school hormones mind you) Mama needed a break. I mean, how long can one discuss worm poop and owl regurgitation before needing a breather? But somehow, this year fall break wasn’t what I needed.

It wasn’t like I was expecting an actual “break,” bingeing on Netflix and merlot while thumbing through People. No, that’s the stuff dreams are made of. For teacher-moms, a school break is never really a break. You just go from working two full-time jobs to working one (though not packing lunches and living via Crockpot for a few days is AH-MAZING!). Instead, I was ready for a break filled with outdoor entertainment with two tiny Turks, later bedtimes and a break from our insane schedule. What I wasn’t expecting was for fall break to show me how much I miss out on by working all the time.

Missing my babies didn’t hit at first, likely because the Turk and I made the error of taking a family get-away at the start of break. We were just going on an overnighter but as history has shown us, that never goes well.

This trip, like many through our history, went downhill from the onset.

“Why there are no signs for Cincinnati? We are driving for two hour, we should be there now.” The Turk muttered while making another obscene gesture at another passing truck.

Because I’m now well-versed in life with the Turk, I pulled up the directions on my phone to assess the situation. “You took 70. You were supposed to take 74.”

“What?” He wailed. “No. Your phone has problem. It is always wrong.”

Again, because I’ve lived this life for a looooong time, I pulled it up on his phone as proof.

“Oh.” He whispered. “They must have put wrong sign up back there.”

“I’m sure they did honey. I’m sure they did.”

Thus began an hour long journey through winding rural Indiana roads by two people terrified of Indiana (If you didn’t read my last post, click here. It explains everything.) with a ¼ tank of (PS- Rural Indiana, if you could replace just one or two of those churches with a gas station, that would be fantastic. Thanks.) and two carsick, starving children. By the time we reached civilization on the Ohio border, Number 1 was hangry, Nugget was nearly catatonic and I was surlier than normal. When the Turk proclaimed, “I think we just keep going to zoo. I am not so hungry.” after having stuffed his face with a family-sized bag of peanut M&M’s, I began to vividly imagine his death and wondered if the Twinkie Defense would hold up.

However, I didn’t get a chance to plot his demise because my darling offspring beat me to it. From the backseat came an uncharacteristically loud, “No Baba! Not this time. We are going to eat and we are going to eat now or you will regret it!” from Number 1. Never doubt the power of a hangry 9 year-old.

That incident was followed by stomping through a crowded zoo in unseasonable heat, a Nugget meltdown because a bird looked at him, a hostile tirade from the Turk because the gorilla exhibit was under construction (One word man, Harambe. The construction was justified.) and a skeezy hotel in which the elevator got stuck and the air conditioner fell off the wall. While it may seem dramatic, that’s pretty much how all of our family overnights pan out so it was no big thing and we made it out alive.

The boys and I spent the next chunk of break planning out Halloween costumes. Having a mom who used to be a professional costume designer, my boys think big when it comes to costumes. The day one of my children asks for a store-bought costume I may weep (in a sadness/relief combo).

Nugget had an exact image in his head but getting a four year-old with a speech impediment to explain that image can be challenging.

“Mom, I need a hooker for Hawoween.”

“Hubba whaaaaaa?”

“I hooker. I need one.”

I’ve never been one of those parents skilled in the art of keeping inappropriate topics away from little ears, but I’m also pretty sure a discussion of hookers never came up in our house. So hope was strong we were just having a miscommunication.

“You need a what?”

After a few charades it became clear what he really needed was a pirate’s hook for his hand. Because as he explained, “I can’t be a piwate wifout a hooker.”

And that was it. I was done. Sometimes it takes your 4 year-old asking for a hooker and your 9 year-old threatening harm to his father to show you how fast they’re growing up and to send a mom into a meltdown.

Our fall has been hectic with pee wee football (PS- We won the league championship though I may not be allowed to attend another championship game due to some language choices made in the heat of the moment.) a million other commitments and a raging battle with Nugget’s special ed class as I struggle to find out why he’s in a developmental standstill. I run out the door at 7:00 and rush back at 4:30. By the time we tackle daily tasks we’re lucky to have a couple hours together before bed. I miss my boys and spending a few full days with them always shows me how much.

So fall break, even though I longed for you, you suck. While I needed a few days without getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, I didn’t need the reminder that our life is like a raging river and I’m bobbing along like a flailing carp. If fall break left me in this state, all I can say is Christmas break- have mercy on me.

“I Ain’t From ‘Round These Parts.”

gun-totin-hoosier

I have a confession. I’m scared of Indiana. We’ve lived here for close to 5 years now and the only times we leave the Indianapolis-metro area and trek into the great unknown parts of the state are when enroute to somewhere safe, like Chicago or Philadelphia.

I’ve met a few people from the unknown parts and they are wonderful people but I am sure they are an anomaly – those who made it out alive.

My fear isn’t a simple unease. No. It’s a full-on, scardey cat, wussy-wuss, don’t make me go there, terror. In my mind, everything outside of the metro-Indianapolis area is filled with 7 feet-tall, (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Hoosiers as a people are HUGE.) camo clad Hoosiers toting multiple automatic weapons, ready to take out a city slicker with no explanation. I’m certain that if I stopped at a rural farmstand because I wanted to make zoodles for dinner and accidently dropped the word “zoodle” a hostile Hoosier will gun me down with the zucchini still in my hand.

Is it crazy and irrational? Of course it is! But you cannot expect rational thought to suddenly step in and take over my life when it’s never been invited to visit before. And the news is no help. Every night the local news is filled with stories of rural Hoosiers perpetrating crimes so bizarre that they often make the national news. Trust me readers, crazy-ass stuff happens in rural Indiana.

Many people in my life, especially native Hoosiers, find it hilarious that a woman who spent a chunk of her life in a major Turkish city (and let’s be honest, Turkey has never been known as a utopia of safety) can be fearful of the backwoods of a Great Plains state. But the fear is real I tell you.

Over the summer I registered for a workshop to fulfill professional development credits for work. Immediately after hitting “send” I saw the error in my plan. The workshop was in rural Indiana, a little too close to Kentucky. (Don’t judge, everybody is scared of Kentucky.) As the date approached I thought about ways to get out of it- faking a lung transplant. Claiming I was urgently needed in Turkey for family business. Blaming a hostile 4 year-old for losing my registration. I’ve got a good stock of viable excuses.

The workshop was to qualify me as a testing leader for Hoosier Stream Watch, an organization that relies on citizen science to monitor and report on the health of waterways statewide. (Yes, even in the Deliverance Zone.) It’s an amazing organization and I wanted to be involved, if I could find a way to get over my fear of death in the boondocks.

When I signed up, I assumed I’d be standing on the bank of a babbling brook, filling test tubes and maybe swirling a pH strip. That was it.

That was not it. The day before the workshop I got an email with a first line reading, “Don’t forget your waders.” Waders? Hubba-whaaaaa? The term “waders” suggests I’ll be wading and a city girl thigh deep in stream water, deep in the heart of rebel country makes her nothing more than a water-logged, easy to shoot, target.

When I broke the news of what I was about to undertake my husband, The Turk, was not a fan.

“I don’t think you can go.” The Turk proclaimed, the night before my workshop. (His crazy is not as extreme as mine, but he’s not heading to rural Indiana for fun either.)

“Why?”

“Why you stand deep in stream? What if you drown?”

“What??? Drowning? Why did you bring that up? Shot by a redneck yes, but I didn’t even think of drowning!”

“I am water engineer more than 20 years. I see things. One time, back in Turkey…”

“NO! Stop right there. Every time you start a story with “one time, back in Turkey,” someone meets an untimely demise in a horrific manner. Keep your death stories to yourself.” For reals, those stories are the stuff nightmares are made of. The only thing worse are his stories that begin, “When I was in Turkish army…”

“Ok. You go. Don’t say I did not warn you.”

Early the next morning I headed out to meet my doom. If I survived my foray into the backcountry and managed not to get shot, then chances were solid I would drown like a hairy Turk in a wastewater cesspool. Damn professional development.

I immediately learned most of my workshop comrades were homeschooling mothers from local farms, striving to keep their numerous young’uns safe from the heathenistic horrors of public education while giving them a biblical understanding of science…(Oh reader, I only wish I’d made that up.) Thankfully, none of them appeared to have firearms tucked into their mom-jeans.

As we hit the stream I was grateful I’d chosen this workshop during a month-long drought. The stream we were tasked with testing wasn’t so much a babbling brook, but more like a belching stream. I wasn’t going to drown today. But then our instructor sent us around the bend.

From her spot safe and dry on the bank, she instructed, “Next you’ll need to test the velocity of the stream from that spot right in the middle.” The lone dude in the group volunteered to go but he needed a partner and since I only have two children where the rest of the homeschoolers had between 8 and 9 children each (again, totally true.) I was sent to the middle of the stream.

If you’ve never tested the velocity of a stream, (And why would you?) it involves an apple, a stopwatch and math. As my extremely tall Hoosier partner headed into the stream, I timidly waded in. Thanks to my stump-like legs, the mid-calf boots I’d ordered hit me about mid-knee so I thought I was safe and I was, until the apple didn’t move. (Note to self- next time someone says bring waders…bring waders…)

We stood in the stream, stopwatches poised, waiting for the apple to pass the finish line. Thanks to a still day and low tributaries, we waited and we waited and while we waited the sludge beneath my boots began to open-up and suck me in. Like a 70’s superhero, I’d fallen victim to quicksand. (Or not, but quicksand seemed so much more dramatic in the moment.) My boots started taking on water. I was going down.

Then, the apple passed my timing arm and we were safe to head to dry land…safe, were I not butt-cheek deep in stanky swamp water.

After sharing a few new words with my homeschool moms, words they’d likely never heard before and words that likely burned their righteous ears, my man-partner helped me free my boots. While we fought with the sludge, I’m pretty sure the mothers on the banks sent thoughts and prayers into the ether for my nearly orphaned children and their potty-mouthed upbringing. Within moments I was safe on a muddy bank, soaking wet and smelling of stank water.

After another three hours identifying macro invertebrates and learning more about mayflies than I knew possible, I was sprung. I’d almost made it out alive when my joy turned to panic on the interstate ramp. As I was sprinting towards the safety of a northbound interstate lane, I was nearly side-swiped by a large pick-up truck sporting a window decal filling his entire back window. Half of the window displayed a massive gun while the other half read, “Careful, both driver and cab are fully armed.”

An overwhelming sense of justice swept across me. My fear was vindicated. The Hoosiers of the backwoods were just as I’d suspected. My crazy was validated. I could do nothing more than chuckle as I floored it back to the safety of suburbia all the while vowing never to leave again.

 

Get That Fat Kid Off My Baby!

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The night before any big game is the perfect breeding ground for a serious case of the jitters. Last Friday in our house, the jitters didn’t just pop-by to visit, but they settled in at the dinner table, somewhere between the tuna melts and green beans.

“I’m really worried about tomorrow. Coach said those guys are really big,” lamented Number 1 Son.

“Big? How big can they be?” I countered. “This is a 4th grade league. I doubt that 4th graders from the next town over are really that much bigger.”

“But Mom…”

“Don’t be a wuss. Get in there and take ‘em down and don’t come home until your pants are covered in grass stains.”(Though I’m a suburban mother, my inner spirit seems to have become that of a washed up high school football star.)

Because my husband, the Turk, occasionally carries the sanity in our union, he quickly chimed in and overrode my input, “If guy is too big you just hit his pads and run away. Got it? Run away so he not crush you. You can beat him. He will be slow because he is fat so just run away. You don’t want fat guy fall on top of you. Ok?” As if the Turk’s instruction was not enough, he punctuated it with a reenactment in the middle of the kitchen floor using 4 year-old Nugget as a visual aid.

“Run away?” I scoffed. “Yo, this isn’t your futbol where you fake a booboo when you need a rest. This is American football where we fight like the violent, obese people we are.”

“It is better he look like wimp than get crush by fat Hoosier.” -Quote, The Turk.

The Turk did have a point, Hoosiers – the government mandated term for the native people of Indiana- are not a small people. (For reals, I have 6th graders that tower over me and while I’m no giant, I wear really big shoes.) However, I’d seen all the teams in our burb’s 4th grade division and with the exception of a couple 5 footers, they were all regular sized 4th graders. We also have a 95-pound ball carrier weight limit, (I was well aware of this because my offspring and I held our collective breath at weigh-in hoping that with pads, he’d clear it. Like is mother, he’s short but he’s solid.) and 98% of the league had cleared it.

“Relax, Coach was probably just trying to psyche you guys up.” I assured him.

The Turk chimed in with another tip from his runt playbook. “But if your mom is wrong, remember, you are Turk and do what I say. Hit, run away, then jump on at end like you there whole time.” His father added.

At 7:30 Saturday morning, after our ritual 20 minutes of searching for cleats, struggling into pads and the ‘protect your goods’ check about all things manly, we were ready for his pregame drop-off.

While Number 1 and his team of 4-foot bobble-heads warmed up, the rest of us had time to grab a coffee before the coin-toss. After struggling 6 miles across wet grass like a Sherpa with chairs hanging off my back and a screaming Nugget, hostile about spending another day doing something for his brother, hanging from my front, I was ready to plop down and enjoy a little Saturday morning football magic. It was then that the Turk pointed out we were on the wrong field.

“This cannot be his game.” He said.

“Of course it is. We’re the red guys and there he is.” I gestured toward the cutest lineman in the universe…(known to the rest of the crowd as white-helmet-bobble-head-number-14)

The Turk countered with his own point toward the middle of the field where the coin toss was on. “If this our game, who those men?” On one side of the ref were two white-helmet-bobble-heads in red jerseys appropriately 4’ 6ish and scrawny, but counter to them were two man-sized players in orange jerseys who may or may not have been able to vote in the last election.

“WHAT ARE THOSE?” I screamed. “WE’RE PLAYING GROWN-ASS MEN!”

A mom behind me chimed in, “Right????!?!! If they’re 4th graders I’m 25.” Nice one girl.

I glanced down the sidelines to see that the two jolly orange giants mid-field were not anomalies. Their entire line-up was comprised of so-called 4th graders who could likely slap on a fake mustache and stop off at any watering-hole for a post-game highball.

“Oh hells no.” I yelled, “This cannot happen. This cannot be legal.” I stammered but before I could rush the field and throw a very un-football hissy fit, the whistle blew and the David V. Goliath Saturday saga had begun.

The Turk and I scanned the field and high-fived when we found our kid. Two parents have never been more excited to see their kid warming the bench. Our hopes were soon dashed as the starting offensive line took the team, and there in the path of calamity was my baby, Number 14.

My little lineman, being one of only two on his team over the 90 pound mark, was assigned the task of covering a kid that could best be described as the 9 year-old embodiment of Jabba the Hutt. Baby Jabba, we would soon learn, already had a nickname. Ten feet away from me, a family of larger beings cheered and screamed for their son/my son’s nemesis – Sugar Foot. “Come on Sugar Foot! Hold that line!!!!” the mother yelled and before struggling into a 3-point stance across from my son, Baby Jabba waved and possibly blew a kiss. My first-born was up against a fat man named Sugar Foot and all I could do was pray Sugar Foot didn’t fall on him.

Play after play Number 1 Son faced off with Sugar Foot and, after realizing early on that simple physics would prevent him from stopping an object twice his size, my son decided to take his father’s advice. He gave Sugar Foot the old hit and run, but made sure to jump on top of any available body pile to make it look good.

Meanwhile on the sidelines I chanted my mantra – “Fat man don’t fall on my baby, fat man don’t fall on my baby.” It was like a crime scene and the Turk didn’t make it through. He gave up early on, “I cannot watch.” and left under the guise of taking Nugget for a walk. “Call me from emergency room.” I, however could not look away. A good football mom never leaves the a death match unfolding before her because he might have to run on the field and pull a fat kid off her baby.

In the end, the fat guys were too slow and we beat a team twice our size. Except for a few bruises, Number 1 walked away unscathed physically. Nugget, however, saw an opportunity. Everytime he finds his brother in a vulnerable position, I hear him scream “HERE COME SUGA FOOT!!!!” before enacting a full body slam. Well played kid, well played.