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Something unfinished.

I do not know her personally.

Or maybe I do know her personally but in the same way many others know her personally. After reading a writer’s thoughts for a long period of time, it can feel personal. It’s more accurate to say we have never met face-to-face.

Her name is Ra.

She is an incredibly gifted writer, one of the greats I can’t compare myself to. No, really. If you spend a few minutes on her blog or read her book, she’ll easily pull you in. Her life story is a fascinating one but I’m only giving you a tiny part of it.

A few years ago, her husband tried to get her interested in Instagram by giving her a 30-day list of “somethings” to post. Something fragile, something shocking, something terrifying, something lucky, something obvious, something far, something near…

Tragedy struck.

Ra’s husband died. Ra is a young widow. She found her late husband’s 30-day list and is taking his challenge. She welcomed others to join too. I will post it all to my Instagram. If I can, I will write about each one too because I love a good writing challenge.

Writing is my Olympics.

Read the 30-day list here.

Day 1: Something unfinished.

I could make this one easy and tangible. I never finished the Game of Thrones books because the TV show is better. A year after moving, Scott’s home office is still unpacked with boxes scattered on the floor. And I still need to install a toilet paper roll in Emma and Kate’s bathroom. Once the butt-wiping days disappeared, I didn’t even give them a decent toilet roll set-up.

I’m not going to write about those things.

Continuing education is my “something unfinished.” This may sound odd to some because  I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kansas State. Class of 2004.

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I was 22 years old. A baby. A mere one year into walking out of a liquor store with a bottle of cheap whiskey. I mean, legally speaking.

Did I know what I wanted to do with my bachelor’s degree and cheap bottle of whiskey? No. I was 3 years deep in a state of panic over deciding a major. I wasn’t good at anything. I was a 3.2 average student with no desire but to just pass class. 

I couldn’t decide.

Education degree? No. Kids can sense apprehensiveness and they would destroy me immediately.

Medical degree? I’m squirming and trying to hold down chunks at the thought of it.

Chemistry degree? Kansas State University can thank me for not choosing a chemistry degree because I’d probably blow up one of their buildings and my lifeless body would be wheeled out live on CNN.

Business? My negotiation skills at a garage sale can be summed up by my “it’s all free” sign in my driveway.

Math degree? Yeah, I don’t speak Chinese.

Art degree? Wait, did you say I need a portfolio from high school? No one told me that.

Journalism? Fine, I’ll do it. I read the newspaper.

A journalism degree. A Bachelor of Arts degree: Mass communications with an emphasis in advertising. Technically.

Marriage, kids, various sales jobs filled the years since 2004. I was terrible at sales. I’m an ok mom and an even ok-er wife.

In 2013, 9 years after college, it clicked. I found my major. I found my drive, my obsession, my purpose as a human in this world – writing. People that are good at what they do have confidence. Writing doesn’t scare me. “I could have wrote that” is a common thought of mine. I’m jealous when my kids bring home book reports or anything that involves a lot of writing. I told you a writing challenge is my Olympics. I’m good and I strive for great.

My something unfinished is an English degree. My words are small. My vocabulary is weak. I’m still the 3.2 average student and I can only work with what I know. I know how to start and keep a dialogue in front of thousands of people, people I don’t know personally. Writing is a way to release my creativity, wit, and maybe a little humor.

People assume I’m silently correcting their grammar when they find out I write. That’s not true. The editors are. When my words are put on the stage, there’s always a person behind my name. It’s the editor. Editors make writers look good. They are masters of the language. I want that. I want to be a master.

I own English textbooks even when I don’t have a class to attend. I read books on writing by famous writers. I’m searching for better ways to string my words together. It sounds simple – stringing words together, letter by letter, but it’s difficult. It’s unfinished.

English is my something unfinished.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. I have 29 days to go. What’s your something unfinished? 

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Screw you, anonymous.

I couldn’t sleep last night.

There were monsters under my bed. Ok, that’s not true. They were in my phone. Fine. More like monsters in my head. And they weren’t monsters. They were people yelling at me. People named anonymous.

These people read the New York Times article, Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children.

I don’t know why I read the comments.

Internet rule number one: never read the comments. It takes some thick skin to read what anonymous has to say.

I couldn’t sleep last night because my thin skin got a paper cut.

I read the comments because I am this article. The author admits she screwed up and she’s not writing about her kids on her blog anymore. This author’s blog was not different than the thousands of other blogs written by parents – she wrote about her children growing up for the past 7 years. Parenting is and will always be a hot topic because becoming a parent is life-changing. It’s metamorphic. It’s relatable. Your life, your body, maybe even your personality can be separated into before kids and after kids.

She wrote about her son starting puberty.

“It seems an obvious line-crossing that I wrote about such an intimate detail, but I did. At the time I didn’t pause for a split second; I was more than willing to go there. I had been writing and reading extensively about parenting tweens. I knew people might be mildly shocked, but mostly interested.”

Her dad called her and said she should stop to think about respecting his grandson’s privacy. She made the decision to stop writing about her kids. Now she writes about nature and trees.

I am not the author of this New York Times article. I don’t know anything about trees. I managed to kill three of them in our backyard.

This author might as well be called a witch and burned at the stake. I’m next. The commenters, anonymous, were talking to me too –

“You’re a narcissist. This blog is all about you.”

“Your kids will hate you when they’re adults. Have fun with that.”

“You just wrote about your kids by saying you’re not going to write about them.”

“Get over yourself.”

“How would you feel if your mom wrote about your first period?”

“You have no respect for your children. You are a terrible mother for giving them no privacy.”

“These bloggers think they can call themselves writers for using their children as stories.”

“That grandpa is a hero. Hopefully, this writer listens to his advice. Shame on her.”

“I hope your kid’s friends don’t read your blog. You just caused your son to be bullied.”

Then I woke up.

I can only speak for myself.

Screw you, anonymous.

I write about my children. I tell their stories. I write down what they say for others to read. I share pictures. I use their real names. I started this blog when Kate was 6 weeks old. My first post documented Kate’s first smile – which is funny because she hates smiling for pictures now. I have been writing about Emma and Kate for 7 years. It’s the only thing they know – “my mom is a writer.” They are proud of that. They are proud of me.

My kids know I write stories about them for others to read. I think they would like their stories as adults. I would want to know what I said as a child. Everyone loves to hear stories of an early childhood they don’t remember.

My kids have never read my blog in its entirety. I’m not sure they would want to read about my bikini wax or my advice to men on how to get laid. Maybe one day, they’ll appreciate my writing as a woman. Or not. I am not the first mother to publicly write about adult topics. I do not write about Emma and Kate’s changing bodies or their drama at school. I don’t write about their insecurities. I do not write about them as much as I used to but that is just because of their ages. That is life. They are becoming independent. My life – my blog – is opening up to more than just my kids.

This little blog – yeah, it’s about me. I’m the main character. It’s my perspective on life as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I know my kids because I raised them. They are two of the funniest people I know. And they know it. I want the world to laugh with them.

If you think I’m taking away their privacy then don’t read it.

Oh, and make sure you tell Mark Zuckerberg that because, to me, a blog post about my kids is just a long caption to a photo. I wouldn’t post a picture of them naked much like I wouldn’t write about which future boyfriend makes them cry.

I can sleep tonight because I know I am doing the best I can. As for my future adult children – I hope they write. For damn sure, I hope they read and write. I hope they write stories about their crazy mother in the nursing home.

I hope they write better than me.

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Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 10 and Kate is 7. 

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Kate: Daddy, why do you make mommy pay for everything?

Scott: What?

Kate: Every time we go out to eat, she always pays with her credit card. I think you need to pay sometimes too.

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Kate: Look at that! Take a picture of that! That sign says wine.

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On our family vacation, Emma fainted due to dehydration. Scott and Kate were granted permission to join Emma and me in the hospital room.

Kate: UGH! I had to pee three times in the waiting room because daddy keeps making me chug water like I’m Emma or something.

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Emma: The back of this menu says, “All the sand between your toes take out all the troubles and the woes.”

Kate: HA! Unless you faint before you get to the sand.

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Kate changed into her swimsuit in front of me. She dropped her pants and underwear to her feet.

Kate: Don’t you be putting my business on Facebook.

Me: I would never put that on Facebook, Kate.

Kate: Or Instagram.

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I took the girls shopping in Florida.

Me: Look at these necklaces, girls. So cute.

Kate: HA! Emma – look. That necklace says, “Shell yeah.” You know – like hell yeah.

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Me: Girls! Wave at the people on the boat! They’re waving!

Kate: I don’t wave to people I don’t know.

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Kate: I can’t wait to leave Florida! NOT!

Scott: Not? Where did you learn that?

Kate: I made it up.

Me: No, you didn’t.

Kate: NOT!

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We were swimming at our friend’s house in Florida.

Rob: What time do you girls go to bed?

Kate: 9!

Emma: No, Kate. We go to bed way after 9. Why would you say that, Kate?

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Emma: Will you download Music.ly on my iPod?

Me: Well, only if you are friends with people you know in real life. Do your friends have this back in Kansas? I’ve never heard of it.

Emma: They do. I actually knew about Music.ly but I didn’t think you’d understand.

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Me: Emma? Kate? Where are you ?

Emma: We’re in Kylee’s room!

Me: Oh. Hey what are you guys doing in here?

Kylee: I’m trying to figure out a name for my fart since Kate’s is Bob.

Me: What.

Kate: Say hi to Bob. (farts)

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Emma and Kate were done with art camp. They received free t-shirts on the last day.

Me: Oh, these shirts are cute! Everyone signed it on the back! Aw!

(I turn the shirt around and see Emma’s signature on Kate’s shirt – “You are a butthead. Love, Emma.”

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Kate had some friends over. I overheard them talking.

Friend 1: My mom doesn’t fart.

Friend 2: My mom doesn’t either!

Kate: Well, MY MOM FARTS. All the time.

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Emma: Will you make us pancakes?

Me: What about waffles?

Emma: Nah.

Me: Doesn’t a big, fat Belgian waffle sound good? Buttery…syrup in holes.

Emma: Fine. Pancakes today and waffles tomorrow.

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I drove Kate to gymnastics. She had a stuffy nose.

Me: OH MY GOSH. KATE. THAT SMELLS SO BAD.

Kate: Now I’m mad because I can’t smell my own farts.

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Kate walked in the room.

Me: Why do you look guilty?

Kate: Uh, don’t know what that means. (walks out of the room)

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Kate: Cool means “I don’t care” in my language. Tell me something.

Me: I love you, Kate.

Kate: Cool.

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Emma and Kate were talking about something in the car.

Kate: FREAK YEAH, EMMA!

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Kate: I don’t know why but I love staring at things.

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Emma: Something is at our front door. What’s this?

Me: Oh. A phone book. Throw it in recycling.

Emma: What’s a phone book?

Me: It’s a book with everyone’s landline phone numbers. We have the internet now so no one uses phone books anymore. I don’t even know why they still print them. What a waste of paper and ink.

Emma: So it’s like an antique or something? (Open phone book and starts reading it.)

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I opened my eyes to Kate staring at me in bed.

Me: What are you doing?

Kate: I’m not getting out of your stinky breath until you ask Nana if we can come over.

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Me: Hey, Emma. Do you want the rest of this donut?

Emma: No.

Me: Really?

Emma: Well maybe. Just put it in front of me and I’ll think about it.

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Special Edition: Oh kids.

I was at my friend’s house with the kids.

Christine: STOP SLAMMING THE DOORS! (runs upstairs, then comes back down)

Me: Is it Emma and Kate?

Christine: No. It’s just chaos.

Kid (listening on the couch): Chaos? Oh, I love chaos! (runs upstairs)

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Mom: Look at that guy mowing the lawn, kids! He’s mowing perfectly straight lines.

Kids: Wow. Those are perfect.

Mom: Can you smell that fresh grass smell?

Kid: Nope, that’s just my fart.

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Kid: SHUT UP!

Mom: Did you just say ‘shut up?’

Kid: No. My barbie did.

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Kid: Siri, please make the TV work. Siri, PLEASE MAKE THE TV WORK.

Mom: She can’t make the TV work, she is just a computer voice.

Kid: Oh ok, got it. Siri, can you please make Netflix work on the computer?

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Kid: Mom, someday when you get a lot of money, you could buy a cookie dough shop. If you do, I might buy some from you because I like cookie dough.

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Kid, 5: Mom, does your baby inside you have a uterus yet?

Mom: Um, yes. Wait, how do you even know about uteruses?

Kid, 3: Yay mom! Give me a high five!

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Are your kids hilarious? Of course they are!

If you have any kid sayings that you would like to see here, please email me at: jbugbytes@gmail.com

Your child’s name will be kept anonymous.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

 

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Game of Thrones.

I should be writing.

I mean, I know I’m writing. But this sort of writing is a guilty pleasure type of writing. I don’t need to worry if this writing is any good or not. This kind of writing doesn’t have a deadline or a boss or tens of thousands of readers.

I’m the boss and I can write what I want. My life. My blog.

My favorite qualities in my dear husband, Scott:

  1. He’s encouraging. Scott will find what makes you you and then he’ll remind you. Every day if he has to. He’ll remind you what you’re good at. He will pick you up, take you fishing, and build you a writing room. I mean, if he has to.
  2. He has a cute butt. Two perfect bubbles. You can look. He won’t mind.
  3. He has an mania-obsession for Game of Thrones that should be looked at by a psychologist but it’s so damn funny I don’t want his jokes to stop. The man makes me laugh.

 

Scott: Bug, you need to watch Game of Thrones with me.

Me: I’m reading the book. And you know what happens when we watch shows together – you go out of town and I continue watching without you.

Scott: What?

Me: What.

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Scott: So Bran fell because he saw some dude having sex with the queen?

Me: If you’d read the book, you’d know the ‘dude’ is her twin brother.

Scott: SHHHHHHH I’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

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Me: I quit reading Game of Thrones. Too many characters. I’m getting confused. And I have other books I want to read.

Scott: Then watch it with me!

Me: I’m not really into fantasy.

Scott: It’s not fantasy.

Me: Yes, it is. Castles, knights, and dragons. It’s fantasy.

Scott: It’s violence and romance. It’s not fantasy. Don’t say it’s fantasy.

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Me: How was work?

Scott: Fine, m’lady.

Me: M’lady?

Scott: Wait, are you going to turn this into a blog post?

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Scott: Every time I take my belt off, I feel like I’m taking off my sword.

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Scott: Man, we got hammered last night. What did we drink?

Me: Well, Lindsay and I split a bottle of wine and then you decided you wanted wine too and you poured yourself a glass. Then you kept ordering more bottles of wine. Maybe it’s because we’re in Florida.

Scott: Oh yeah! I had one glass of wine then imagined myself on Game of Thrones and kept pouring more. I’ve been craving wine ever since I started watching.

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Scott: I climbed 100 flights of stairs on the stair stepper today.

Me: That’s insane. I did 30 flights. How do you not get bored?

Scott: I watched an episode of Game of Thrones.

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Scott: Did you notice what the band played at the 4th of July neighborhood party?

Me: Hm, no? They’re an Irish band. Devil Went Down to Georgia?

Scott: No! I mean yes, but they also played the Game of Thrones theme song.

Me: What.

Scott: I’m like ‘hey! I know that song! Game of Thrones!’ I looked around and no one was watching. So I got my phone out and I filmed them. Want to watch?

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Scott: FEEL MY FOREHEAD.

Me: Ew, no. Why?

Scott: Season 5 just ended. I broke out in a sweat. Feel it. Feel my heart race.

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Me: Scott. Get up. All you do is come home from work, eat, and sit on that damn couch and watch Game of Thrones.

Scott: Do you remember when we first got married and we couldn’t stop watching 24? We would go all night watching just one more episode.

Me: Yeah.

Scott: It’s just like that but better. I’m emotionally connected to these people.

Me: You’re what?

Scott: They’re like my friends.

Me: Oh. My God.

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Scott: I only have one more episode left before I’m caught up.

Me: WATCH IT.

Scott: I think I may save it for tomorrow. I’ll have something to look forward to after work.

Me: NO, WATCH IT NOW.

Scott: Goodnight.

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Scott: What do I do now? It’s over.

Me: Hang out with your family. Even Kate growls when she hears the words ‘Game of Thrones.’

Scott: I feel like…like college just ended or something. I don’t know what to do with my life.

Me: What?! And you think I’m dramatic.

Scott: Hold on. I’m downloading the soundtrack.

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Scott: I can’t fall asleep without Game of Thrones.

Me: Why don’t you watch the outtakes or something? I’m sure there’s something on YouTube.

Scott: …let’s see…mother of dragons Jimmy Kimmel.

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Me: Fine, Scott. I’ll pause my book and start Game of Thrones. I just don’t want to go to your level of not being productive.

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Scott: HOW COULD YOU WRITE THAT?

Me: Huh? What did I write?

Scott: You posted something on your Facebook page that was a Game of Thrones spoiler! Look at Jessica’s comment! You’re already pissing people off.

Me: But there are spoilers everywhere. That movie I saw last night had a spoiler! And that soundtrack you downloaded shows dead faces! I like spoilers. I can emotionally prepare myself and not get too attached. And thanks for telling me Jon Snow dies.

Scott: WHO TOLD YOU THAT?

Me: Bad Moms, the movie I saw last night. My mouth dropped. There are spoilers everywhere, Scott. You can’t get mad at me.

Scott: Just don’t post anything else or you’ll get people making comments about more spoilers.

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Me: I heard on the radio today that Game of Thrones’ last season will be season 8. Like final – no more ever.

Scott: Yes. I knew that. Duh.

Me: But they announced it yester…

Scott: Yeah, I know.

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Scott: I woke up last night and I heard you watching Game of Thrones in bed.

Me: Oh, you should have asked me to turn it down.

Scott: I turned around, smiled, and went back to sleep.

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I should be writing.

But now I have Game of Thrones to watch.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. I won’t post any Game of Thrones spoilers.

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An elk runs my fitness routine.

There’s an elk roaming a mountain in Colorado right now.

He’s 11,000 feet above me.

It’s a bull elk. His antlers tower four feet above his head. He eats grass and flowers. He drinks from the clear, cool mountain streams. His surroundings are majestic, a wilderness untouched by man. There are no roads. No trails. He screams a bugle into the thin mountain air, challenging another male for his prize of getting laid. They always want to get laid. 

This elk runs my fitness routine.

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I will never see this elk, not alive anyway.

I don’t have the desire to shoot an elk. I’m content with killing my meat with a swipe of a debit card at the grocery store.

Scott will see this elk. He’ll lure this elk to him with his come-hither calls. He will pull back his bow and close one eye. And he’ll release. That’s what happens when the only thing on your mind is getting laid.

Scott is an outdoorsman. That’s what they call a man like him in 2016. But back in, oh I don’t know, 1870 circa Little House on the Prairie – Ma and Pa Burton would be chatting it up with Ma and Pa Wilder while gnawing on a turkey leg.

A turkey shot by Pa Burton. His survival instincts are incredible.

Fast forward to 2016 – the era of selfies in a cornfield. The hunt Scott is about to embark on is for elite fitness levels. Imagine carrying your house for the week on your back. Now imagine you’re carrying your house on an incline, not a smooth treadmill incline but a rugged incline. You’re going 6,000 feet up. You will be whacking down tree limbs, crossing streams and losing oxygen.

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And that’s just the ascent.

If successful, descending will be brutal. Add 100 pounds to the house on your back and stumble back down the mountain. And then you do it again because elk meat weighs more than 100 pounds.

Scott will be accompanied by his friend, Hunter. They will not have any communication with the world, not even a nagging wife text. Scott and Hunter will be hunting an elk but they will also be surviving whatever mother nature decides to throw at them. A mountain lion. Freezing temperatures. Wounds that require stitches. I know how it sounds. It’s hunting at the highest level. It’s insanity.

It’s Pa Burton.

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Scott’s workout routine at the gym includes a weighted vest and hiking boots. He spends hours on the stair stepper. He hikes in local parks with rugged terrain. He hikes with his backpack filled with 100 pounds of corn on the weekends. He drags me into the oven of 110 degree heat index. We don’t hunt together but we do workout together.

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“I’m hot and this is bullshit.” – Ma Burton

Scott is training his body to handle the extreme and unexpected. And I am choosing random times to sprint towards Scott – BOOM! – to see how fast his reaction is to an angry bear. Have you seen The Revenant? He could die if he’s not prepared.

There’s an elk roaming a mountain in Colorado right now. He’s taking me to levels of fitness I’ve never felt before.

 

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty.

How was your trip?

How was my trip?

How was your trip?

Hold on, I lost my script. Oh, here it is – my trip was why isn’t my life filmed. 

There is a lesson to be learned after my vacation to the Florida Keys and Ft. Lauderdale and it’s this: you eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty.

Nutrition labels. Calories. Gluten. Sodium. Dairy. Fat. Carbohydrates. Screw ’em. Screw ’em all. You’re in vacation mode. Feed your body. Pour drinks down your throat.

It’s called vacation-you.

If you want key lime pie for breakfast, you eat key lime pie for breakfast.

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If you want blackened mahi fresh off the boat, grab a reel and start fighting.

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One fish won’t do. The mahi mahi doesn’t turn into counted calories on vacation. Eat a cooler full. Vacation-you can eat it all.

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Go ahead and pour yourself a glass of Screamin’ Reels IPA while the mahi cooks because vacation-you always looks like the cover of GQ magazine.

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Don’t like beer? Grab a Jamaican and ask him to slash open a coconut for you. Lick that sweet coconut milk off your lips and make sure you tell him thank you. Vacation-you should always be thankful to eat when you want to eat and drink when you want to drink.

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Don’t forget to rest the body of vacation-you. That’s just as important as eating and drinking. It’s as essential as water.

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It’s a vacation rule. You eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty. This simple life lesson is told for a good reason – an ambulance ride with a 10-year-old.

It was Sunday, a travel day. It was the day we left our home in Kansas City with plans to arrive at Hawk’s Cay Resort in the Florida Keys.

We arrived at Hawk’s Cay around dinner time. We had our condo keys in one hand and a complimentary vodka lemonade in another. The kids followed us onto the property, dragging their luggage and lemonade. We were starving. Dinner took priority over unpacking. We could smell french fries. We had a mission.

We walked along a sidewalk. Emma’s body hit me. Her head slammed a rock. She was quiet. I screamed for Scott to turn around. My body couldn’t move. I saw blood on Emma’s legs. Scott lifted Emma’s head up. Emma whined.

“Scott, she fainted. I think she fainted.”

Concerned guests stopped and asked questions.

“Did she faint? Has she been in the sun all day?”

“I’ll get the hotel staff.”

Emma’s face faded to grey. Her lips turned white.

“Hold…uh..head. Down. Feet. Up.”

A woman with some sort of European accent put Emma’s feet in my arms.

“Hold. Feet. Up. Ok? I medicine. Nurse.”

Scott asked Emma if she was ok.

“I can’t see anything. I can’t see. My head hurts. Dad, my head hurts.”

Paramedics showed up with a stretcher and took her vitals. Scott explained that we just checked in after traveling all day. Emma’s face was still grey. Her eyes were closed. The paramedics evaluated Emma.

“After assessing her, we’re not comfortable with letting her stay here. We think she’s dehydrated but we can’t take the chance with her head. She’s needs to be taken to the hospital.”

Emma was carried out on a stretcher. People stared. Parents held their kids out of the way. I walked behind the stretcher. I was in shock.

“Mommy, how did that girl get hurt? Is she hurt?”

“What happened? Oh, I hope that little girl is ok.”

Within twenty minutes of checking in the resort, I rode with Emma in an ambulance down one of the most beautiful highways in the world. Cars moved over. Sirens were blaring. Emma was still. Her eyes were shut the whole time but she was answering the paramedics’ questions. I held Emma’s hand. I prayed I wasn’t re-living the nightmare my niece had almost three years ago – bleeding on the brain. My niece survived after emergency surgery.

“She’s not bleeding on the brain, is she? That happened to my niece. This can’t happen to me again. I can’t do this.”

“Her vitals are still good, Mrs. Burton. All signs are pointing to dehydration. We just want to make sure. It’s a good sign she’s talking.”

Emma received an IV at the hospital. Her CAT scan didn’t show any bleeding on the brain. The resort sent Scott off to the hospital with turkey wraps, chips, applesauce, yogurt, and waters. They sent enough for the entire family. The manager asked Scott to keep the resort updated on Emma.

Emma was back to her normal self a few hours later. The IV turned her face pink again. She was awake, talking and laughing at Kate running around the hospital without shoes on. The doctors and nurses reminded us to keep her fluids up, especially in the sun. Keep food in her. Wear sunscreen. Relax.

You eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty. It’s a vacation rule. It’s how vacation-you survives.

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Emma was fine the rest of the vacation. We kept a close eye on her and made sure she had something to eat and drink. We soaked in salt water because everyone knows that always helps vacation-you.

You can’t get that in Kansas.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Vacation-us is back in the Sunflower state, far away from any hospitals in the Keys.

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Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Greetings from the Florida Keys! 

We landed on the shores of Duck Key, Florida for part 1 of our vacation. 

Not even two minutes after we checked in, I was high-tailing it with Emma in a screeching ambulance to Marathon Key’s hospital. Emma is ok. I’ll keep you in suspense on what happened until we get back. 

We’re only here for a few days then we’ll head somewhere else – location to be determined because I don’t know yet. 

I’m being vague. I’ll stop. 

Here is the latest Oh Emma, Oh Kate – a series of funny things Emma, (age 10) and Kate (age 7) say.

(I had to type this from my phone. Please excuse any format issues. Wifi is hard to find in the Keys.)

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Me: Kate. Wiggle that tooth out!

Kate: NO!

Emma: Fine, Kate. Have little baby teeth white dots in your mouth when you’re an adult.

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Me: Kate, let daddy pull your tooth with a string.

Kate: I trust no one.

Scott: I can do it fast. You won’t feel it.

Kate: I don’t trust you. You. You. and You.

Me: You said “you” 4 times.

Kate: You, daddy, Emma and the string. I trust no one.

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 Me: DINNER TIME!

Kate: Ugh. Worst time.

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I was playing 40s radio/big swing music one morning.

Kate: What is this? Sounds like a ferris wheel in here.

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Me: Let’s put on sunscreen before we go to the pool!

Emma: Nah.

Me: Um, yes you will.

Kate: Don’t need it.

Me: Yes, you do. This is not for debate. You will wear sunscreen or no pool.

Kate: We really don’t care if we get burnt. I’m fine with being red and hurting all over.

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Kate: I need a new purse for Florida.

Me: No, you don’t.

Kate: They make me look pretty.

Me: You’re already pretty.

Kate: I think I need two now.

Me: Why?

Kate: Because we’re there for a week, honey! (snaps)

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Kate: I told my friend’s mom that my tooth is wiggly.

Me: Did she wiggle it?

Kate: No, why?

Me: No reason.

Kate: There has to be a reason for everything. Why did you ask that?

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I was outside, writing on our patio.

Me: Hey Kate, will you run inside and get me some headphones?

Kate: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

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Emma: Why are there school buses driving on the road when there’s no school?

Me: Oh, sometimes a church will use them. Or a camp. Anytime there’s a lot of kids, you can rent them.

Kate: So, like, if you had a 3rd kid?

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Kate wanted me to come to her “salon” to get a pedicure.

Me: Hello miss! Thank you for squeezing me in, I am so…

Kate: No speak English.

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Me: Shark week! YES! Let’s watch, girls.

Kate: I’m scared of sharks.

Me: Well, we live in Kansas so there’s nothing to be scared of.

Kate: Well, I’m a girl.

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Emma: Mom, you know this song?

Me: Uh, yeah! Dave Matthews. I listened to him back when I was cool in late 90s and when I was in college.

Emma: So he’s probably dead now.

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I went to a girls’ night with some of Scott’s co-workers. We were talking about Emma and Kate. I was in the middle of explaining that Kate is really shy around strangers and she’s only sassy around people she’s comfortable with.

Me: Oh, Kate is calling on FaceTime.

Women: Answer it! Let’s see what she says!

Me: Hello?

Kate: Daddy took us out for ice cream and we got you NONE. Nothing. No ice cream for you.

(Women giggle)

Me: What?! Now what are you doing?

Kate: Waiting for daddy to get out of his bubble bath.

(Women fall over laughing)

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Me: First day of summer! You know what that means? We start losing light! Ah!

Emma: Perfect. I get more time for night swimming.

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Kate names her farts “Bob.” She blew up a small balloon and wrote “Bob” on it.

Kate: Emma, do you want to play “don’t drop Bob on the floor?”

Me: Wait. Bob is a balloon now?

Kate: Bob is still my fart. He’s in the balloon now.

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Kate: I wish funner was a word.

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Kate: What do married people do if they don’t have kids? What do they do all day?

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Me: Let’s go to Hobby Lobby and find a craft to make daddy for Father’s Day.

Emma: Yeah!

Kate: Can’t we just order something already made from Hobby Lobby?

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Kate: Mom?

Me: Yes.

Kate: Back in your day, was there such thing as pets?

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Emma: Why do you have so many candles and tiki torches out here when you write?

Me: There are lots of bugs.

Emma: Do they not like fire or something?

Kate: No one likes fire, Emma.

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Kate: The moon looks like daddy’s toenail he picks off and flicks in the sky.

Me: Gross.

Emma: What are the stars, Kate?

Kate: His dead skin when it peels off.

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We passed a rainbow flag on a building.

Emma: That’s a pretty flag.

Me: I think it’s a gay club.

Kate: What’s gay?

Me: When a boy dates a boy or when a girl dates a girl.

Emma: Well, I’m not going in there.

Me: You don’t have to be gay to go in. I’ve been in a few. They’re just people having fun. Or wait. Actually, I think it’s a drag queen place.

Kate: What’s a drag queen?

Me: When a man dresses up like a woman. They’re called drag queens. They usually perform a show.

Kate: So they dress up like girls to try to get more girls in there? Like to trick them?

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We were at the doctor’s office for Emma. The doctor was talking to Emma. Kate was on my lap.

Kate: What’s that? (Pushes my face)

Me: Shhhhh. A zit. Quiet. Doctor is talking.

Kate: How did you pop it?

Me: My fingers. Stop it.

Kate: I want to pop a zit with my fingers.

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Me: Let’s go to Quick Trip. I love their hot dogs.

Emma: I love their taquitos! (Spanish accent)

Kate: And I love their Doritos! (Spanish accent)

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Emma: Ugh, you stink, Kate.

Kate: I wish I could smell it.

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Me: What are you watching on Netflix?

Kate: Mako Mermaids.

Me: Huh? Mako Mermaid?

Kate: sssssss.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please continue to follow our adventure in Florida!

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State of emergency.

Florida is having a shit show of a year.

I have another Florida story for you. It doesn’t involve deaths.

Although, it may involve deaths. You never know if our plane will crash into the ocean off the coast of Florida. You never know if we’ll get shot in Miami by a man holding a gun and a Cuban cigar. For the record – and you can totally call into Anderson Cooper and tell him this – my last words were, “Scott, is that Pitbull?”

My Florida story starts back in March. Emma and Kate decided to have a few words with us after our trip with friends to Colorado. They told us our vacations without them need to stop because it’s not fair.

I told them they better start lifting weights to fight a sailfish in Costa Rica. Scott told them they better get their alcohol tolerance up for Nashville, Tennessee. I told them they better start learning how to breathe out of a straw as I push them down a mountain in Breckenridge, Colorado.

If only the kids could see we’re trying to become expert level empty nesters.

Fine. They’re right. We weren’t being fair. They don’t need carseats anymore. They aren’t in diapers. They’re old enough to remember a vacation. They don’t require anything but an iPod on the plane. They are easy ages to travel with.

We booked a vacation to Captiva Island on the west coast of Florida. The land of beaches, seashells, manatees and maybe booking a small fishing charter for the kids. Scott and I can’t sit and look at the ocean. We crave adventure. If we’re bringing the kids this close to salt water, we’ll teach them our ways. The best way to see a beach is from the water.

Then Florida’s shit show shined its light up on us, the little family in Kansas.

We don’t know where we will be waking up in four days.

Cyanobacteria – toxic algae blooms are sitting along the Florida coasts. The algae spilled in the ocean from Lake Okeechobee. This algae is not safe to swim in. It’s not even safe to breathe. Lee County, Florida is in a state of emergency.

“Hi, my name is Julie Burton and I live in Kansas. And we’re not bringing our kids to that shit show there. Thank you for your understanding.”

Scott and I crave adventure. Florida is giving us one. We’re leaving in four days because we couldn’t tell the kids vacation is cancelled this year. They’d murder us. Did we ever figure out if Lizzie Borden murdered her parents because she couldn’t go on a summer vacation?

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Four days. No hotel reservation. No car reservation. No plans. My itinerary plans – deleted. The girls’  half day manatee camp – cancelled. I memorized the resort’s layout – I don’t know if I’ll ever see it but in my mind.

We will be walking out of Fort Lauderdale’s airport with two kids, 1,500 miles away from home. We have friends in South Florida. We’ll be showing up on their doorstep.

Emma and Kate told us our vacations without them needed to stop because it’s not fair.

Our planned family vacation is cancelled. And it’s not fair. The only adventure we can give them is spontaneity.

And maybe we’ll run into Pitbull in Miami.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Please follow our adventure. I don’t know what will happen.

 

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Things that piss me off more than they should.

Summer is a good time to let the demons out.

It’s hot. It’s sticky. Clothes fall off. Father Time shows his marks every summer. The once perky boobs now hang low. Lines show up on the face. Even the beer dehydrates the body faster in the summer. Tolerances are at an all-time low. Show me one more empty Pop Ice wrapper and I’ll slit you with a pair of sticky, dull scissors. 

It’s ok to judge. I don’t mind. I’m here to vent steam. It keeps me cool. It keeps me from exploding.

It started while scrolling Pinterest late one night, hours after my demon summer spawns went to bed. This pin showed up in my feed.

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My mind filled with more images, like a highlight reel. These are things that wouldn’t piss off normal human beings. I can’t even tell you why these things piss me off. They just do. And I’ve had it.

Gas stations not thanking me. Gas stations not displaying a “thank you” on the screen when I’m done pumping. I have choices where to get gas and I choose your gas station, never mind I came rolling in hot on fumes. I would like a simple “thank you.” Please.

Scott responding to any argument with “relax.” He just pushed the “crazy” button and now I’m holding the sticky, dull scissors.

Shopping at Hobby Lobby and hearing Scott’s “relax” voice in my head. Did you just call me a beach too? Now I’m mad at Scott and he isn’t even here.

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Big spoons in silverware sets. You heard me. The big spoons. Not the big forks. Not the knives. I can’t even look at this picture. They need to go to Goodwill. But then I’ll be left with more big spoons because they come in a set when I buy more little spoons to replace them.

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Dogs slurping their crotch at 4 am. It’s like they don’t even feel the pillow thrown at their head.

Walking into my other half’s closet and looking at these hangers. Did you just tell me to relax?

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Game of Thrones. I mean, I get it. It’s a good show. It’s so good that Scott ignores me and my saggy boobs. He breaks into a sweat after every episode only to watch one more, just one more.

Scott taking off his belt. The man has to change clothes. He can’t watch Game of Thrones all the time. He takes off his belt after a long day at work, pretending he has a sword attached, and says, “yes, M’lord.” Hey watch – I’m the mother of dragons. Tell me to relax and watch what happens.

People telling me they love my blog in person. But I didn’t even know you read my blog. I realize this sounds teenager-ish but I don’t have any way of knowing if you – yes, you – read my blog unless you interact with me online. I need encouragement on a consistent basis because I’m really just a teenager.

Grey streaks of hair. Teenager on the inside.

Leftovers. It’s a big pile of cold mush. I’m sorry, starving kids in Africa. I can’t do it. Would you like a to-go box sent to Africa?

Realizing maybe cats really are assholes. Penny invites herself to the dinner table. She insists on meat. I can tell her no, like a dog, but she won’t listen to me because she’s an asshole cat.

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Do you have a Target RedCard? No. Do you have a grocery store card? No. Your gas station doesn’t tell me thank you. Do you have a library card? Wait, yes, I do have that. Stop the cards. Just give us a discount for not writing a check.

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That felt good.

Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Tell me your vents. Let off some of that heat. It’s summer.

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How to find the Holy Grail of Neighbors.

You may have read it.

10 Signs You Have Found the Holy Grail of Neighbors.

I didn’t write it but I agree with the writer, Lauren Lodder, on every point. Good neighbors are your in-case-of-emergency people, therapists, babysitters, and they make vacations possible because they’re willing to kick the ass out of the wet bandits and take selfies to prove it.

Well, at least my neighbors would be willing.

When you find the Holy Grail of Neighbors, you’ll know. The roots you dig will find a way down into the earth and intertwine with your neighbor’s roots. The roots will strangle you and hold you captive so you will never move again. That’s when you know you found your people.

The article didn’t explain how to find the Holy Grail of Neighbors. I got this, you guys. Follow me. Let’s fly!

 

I say Beetlejuice three times and he shows up on my blog. I don’t know. I live next to the guy.

Define your Holy Grail of Neighbors. Do you even want neighbors? Maybe your Holy Grail of Neighbors is a couple of birds. I know several people that don’t like living close to others. They like privacy and freedom to walk around naked. If this is you, take everything I say and do the opposite. There’s no privacy where I live but I like it like that way. My front door is a turnstile of kids and the eye in the sky is always watching neighborhood parties. If you want to walk around naked, this is not the place to do it because I’ll throw you out on my blog.

The real estate city search. To the beach! I would love nothing more than to live by the beach but I don’t. I live in Kansas. Suburbia, actually – a place where we need to get creative on the weekends to cure boredom.

Sure, white picket fences and kids chasing an ice cream truck paints the ideal place to call home. But here, in Suburbia, the Holy Grail of Neighbors are trying not to spill their margarita while chasing a street taco truck. Kansas can be a beautiful place. All it needs is a little tequila, salt, and lime.

We are not alcoholics. We just like margaritas and tacos at our front door step.

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Location, location, location.  Cul-de-sacs are prime real estate if you have kids. Cul-de-sacs allow kids to run freely. There’s no need to worry about a car hitting a child straight into the next news story. The Internet doesn’t need to scream at parents on the cul-de-sac for being neglectful. We’re not neglectful.

Calm down, it was a photo opp.

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Look for children on the neighborhood search. I have no clue where my kids are right now. Good. That’s called responsible cul-de-sac parenting. It takes a village. Just don’t hit our village with your car.

Don’t expect perfection in any neighborhood. Street taco truck and margaritas aside, perfect neighborhoods don’t exist. Perfect people don’t exist. I mean even Jesus left mouth germs on the Holy Grail. Probably. Our neighborhood pool got pegged as weak by teenagers. They destroy property. They are loud. They don’t listen to us when they’re asked to leave. I’m guessing there will be an increase of video submissions to MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. 

I’m also guessing one of those teenagers has a police chief dad that won’t listen to our complaints either. Time to get out my dad’s gorilla suit and call in the fake SWAT team because my kids swim in that conception water, dammit.

The Holy Grail of Neighbors will always show you signs they’re there. I’m talking about out-of-the-ordinary signs. Our sign was a sign from above, if you will. It was a beer sign hanging from someone’s back deck. A large, canvas, beer sign with the week’s bar specials. It was there for weeks. I later found out that was the football pot loser’s sign.

Other possible signs: A drone flying, golf carts for the sole purpose of neighborhood driving, college kids sitting on roofs, houses with indoor lights that change colors according to their mood, and hot air balloons landing on rooftops.

The fun people will always let you know where they are. It’s just their nature. They like a good show.

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I realize how this sounds. Before you write us off as rich snobs, we live in Kansas. Home of cheap real estate. Join us!

Stalk before you buy. You don’t buy a car without test driving it. You don’t marry a virgin. And you don’t buy a house without stalking first. I’m the expert, trust me. Slow-drive the street behind the street in question – search for fire pits. Slow-drive past their house during a nice day. The Holy Grail of Neighbors will always have adults on the front porch. Stop and say hello. Ask to use their bathroom. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the Holy Grail itself – the neighborhood’s Best Costume award.

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Next year, the trophy will be in my house. Come use my bathroom. Snoop around. My roots run deep, grounded into the earth.

Well, at least until the next drone ride.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram