A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

My Worst Nightmare May 17, 2014

There are things that happen to people.  Bad things.  Things that test the limits of their sanity.  Things that can break them.  That can push them over the edge and change them.  Things that cause people to lose themselves.

One of these things happened to me.  And I knew that if I didn’t conquer it, I would never be the same.  And while it may not be easy for others to understand, for me it was real.  Very real.  I knew it was a battle that I had to win or it would defeat me.  It would define me for the rest of my life.  It would rule me.  If I didn’t finish that bologna sandwich…if I didn’t force myself to eat the entire thing…if I didn’t consciously choose to chew it up and force myself to swallow it…I’m quite certain there would have been permanent damage in my mind.  I was on the verge of being broken.  Yes, my battle was a bologna sandwich.  I’m not proud of it, but we can’t control these things, can we?  Stay with me.  I’ll explain.

To set the stage, I need to share just one tidbit of background information:  I’m terrified of frogs.  Boy, it feels good to have that off my chest.  Yes, I’m scared of frogs.  I’m scared of frogs!  I know that by disclosing this, you may never look at me the same.  You may think of me as the weird woman who is scared of frogs instead of as me, an otherwise normal individual who functions just fine in society.  But I had to share.  You had to know this in order to understand the sandwich.

So, it all started, well, let’s be realistic, this story started somewhere back in my childhood.  But we don’t have time for that.  We’ll skip over the traumatic frog experiences of my life (did you know they scream when on fire?  did you know they pop when run over?) and get right to the events leading up to the bologna sandwich.

It was a dark and stormy night (seriously), and we were camping.  I thought I would take the dog for a little walk even though it was wet outside.  After all, we were camping anyway.  So, I leashed the dog, and we took off.  A girl and her dog.  Off for a little walk in the rain.  In the dark.  I know, I know – what was I thinking?  I was practically begging for a frog encounter.  But, honestly, I thought I had my fear under control.  I thought I could handle walking in the general vicinity of croaking amphibians without losing it.  And I probably could have.

Until it happened.

My worst nightmare.

I’m not exaggerating.

This is something I have obsessed about ever since I was a little girl.  Something that has been in the forefront of my mind every single time I walk outside at night.  Something I have lain in bed at night an contemplated, only to give myself the shivers and force the thoughts from my mind.  Literally, my worst nightmare.

I stepped on a bullfrog.

Remember, it’s pitch black dark!  It’s raining.  I can’t see a thing.  But I felt that bulbous mass under my left arch and I knew right away what it was.  It was a hideous feeling – worse than I imagined.  But, I had a lightening fast reaction, and I rolled my foot to the left to get my precious foot off the beast.  And something worse than I ever could have imagined happened.  The frog jumped up the leg of my pants.

I immediately flailed and kicked until I caught a glimpse of the reflection of the moon off his grotesque white belly as he flew spread-eagle through the air.  And then I was frozen.  I couldn’t move.  I mean, how could I?  I couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t know where that villainous creature was or if he had an army of cohorts nearby ready to attack.  But I knew the longer I waited, the greater the chance that I was being surrounded, so I began a panic-stricken shuffle back to our campsite.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was doing some sort of high-pitched moan that didn’t quite sound human – certainly not something that’s ever come out of me before.  I couldn’t think.  It was the longest 100 feet of my life – just trying to reach safety.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my panic attack.  Let’s just say it was ugly and leave it at that.  It took hours to stop crying, to calm my racing heart, to stop shaking.  Hours of laughing and crying and laughing while crying.  I was not in control of my emotions, to say the least.

And when I finally calmed down, I was hungry.

Enter the bologna sandwich.

I sank my teeth into that sandwich, and all I could think about was the striking resemblance between the cold, clammy, moist skin that was pressed up against my left leg and the remarkably similar texture of that cursed bologna.  Every time I chewed, I felt that frog on my leg.  I felt it like it was really there.  And then I tasted it.  I felt that amphibian skin in my mouth.  I looked at that slice of bologna between two slices of bread, and I saw that frog looking back at me with his ugly little froggy eyes and his arms and legs overhanging the crust of my bread.

I had to finish that sandwich.  Don’t you see what was happening!?  If I didn’t finish that sandwich, the frog would have won.  My mind would have never been the same.  I would have been broken.  I had to force myself to overcome those temporary pangs of insanity.  I had to eat a bologna sandwich made out of a frog.

And I did it!  I gagged my way through it.  I concentrated.  I dug deep and fought to keep myself.  I chewed that sandwich.  I ate that sandwich.  I finished that disgusting, froggish, nightmarish sandwich, and I was victorious!!  I WON!  I will not be controlled by my fear.  I will live a normal life!  The frogs will not rule me!  I will not make accommodations for amphibians.  I will live my life to the fullest!  I finished the sandwich!!!

But I will never wear boot-cut jeans again.  I mean, skinny jeans don’t look good on me, but let’s be realistic – they are much safer.

And I will always carry a flashlight.

Oh, and I’ll never eat bologna again.



Our Own Terabithia September 25, 2012

The king made the decision – they would seek refuge for the night high in the trees.  And so the royal family made preparations to camp perched in the branches of a towering poplar.

They climbed into her branches and peered through the leaves into the enchanted forest.  The queen and her two small children settled in for the long, cold night while the king scavenged for firewood with their trusty Boxador.

He returned with a cart full of freshly chopped wood and built a fire high above the forest floor.  The family huddled around the small fire and roasted their dinner, keeping the aroma of sweet meat in the leafy canopy in the growing darkness.

When the stars began peeking through the leaves to get a glimpse of the royal family, the queen prepared pallets upon which they would slumber.  The king stoked the fire and the queen tucked the small boy and girl into their downy blankets.

The poplar embraced the family with her giant limbs while they gave way to sleep.  The ever-attentive dog kept watch for the wild things of the night…

We had a true Terabithian adventure last weekend – we spent the night in the tree house directly under the stars.  It was all Ronnie’s idea, and the kids were understandably thrilled about the plan.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t really what you would call a happy camper.  It was cold and windy and I was miserable.  We only own two sleeping bags, so the kids naturally got those, so Ronnie and I covered up with rather inadequate (for the circumstances) blankets and froze our butts off.  The cool breeze chilled me from every angle – it had the unique advantage of even being able to get us from underneath since we positioned ourselves in a tree.

Ronnie tried so hard to make me comfortable.  He was really sweet.  He moved my cot closer to the fire and told me he’d be fine if I went to the house.  I couldn’t sleep at all.  I swear every time I closed my eyes, the fire went out.  We spent all night trying to keep it going.  All I could think about were Copperheads.  And when I did manage to doze, I dreamed of fighting off the bears that were trying to eat us.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Ronnie and I were lying there, freezing and resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to sleep, and he said to me, “At least you’re being a good sport.”

“I am?” I asked, a little surprised, but proud of myself.

“Not really,” he answered, “but at least you’re doing it.”

And that kind of summed up the night for us.  I wanted morning to come so badly.

Then, to our surprise, we heard Kendra’s sweet little voice.  “The stars in the trees look amazing.  This is so cool.”  I looked over to see her sleepily enthralled by the view above her.

That changed everything.  Even when she needed to walk all the way back to the house to use the bathroom and get more socks, it didn’t bother me.  I didn’t even notice the cold while we walked.  Well, while I walked and she skipped and chattered about how cool it was to walk in the dark and how amazing nature is.

When we got back to the tree house, I zipped her back into her sleeping bag and she went right back to sleep.  I checked on Max.  He was snoozing happily even though he was completely uncovered.  I felt him and he was  somehow warm as can be.  I zipped him back up, too.

I climbed back in my cot.  Even though we had hours left until dawn, we were out of firewood, and it was getting colder and colder, it was somehow not quite as terrible knowing how much fun the kids were having.

I think they’ll remember it forever.  And we will, too.  And I think we all might remember it as the royal family on an enchanted adventure…


At least lightning doesn’t strike twice…Right? July 31, 2012

It all started with a lightning strike…

Our dogs are contained by an invisible fence.  When the lightning struck, it fried the fence, so obviously, it didn’t work any more.

This meant the dogs could now get to the garden that contains the rabbit hutch, and the dogs seized the opportunity.  I barely saved the rabbits from becoming a snack, and I moved them temporarily to the garage until we could repair the fence.

The fence is finally repaired.  The dogs are back where they belong.  The rabbits are back where they belong (and are enjoying weeding the garden for me again).

However, in the meantime, one of the chickens crossed from the back yard where they are safe to the front yard where they are closely observed by very interested dogs and then to the driveway where they are in the territory of dogs who have felt unnecessarily teased by the presence of chickens just out of their reach.

A dog ate the chicken.

We learned that hamsters are nocturnal.  Ours enjoys running in its ball all night long.  Not that it keeps me awake or anything.

Meanwhile, the goats got sick.  Very sick.  They had awful diarrhea and we had to sanitize everything and nurse them back to health.  “Poop” is not a strong enough word to describe what I scrubbed from their bottoms.  I straddled them backwards while Ronnie held their heads and comforted them while I cleaned caked-on sh*t from their behinds, legs, and tummies.  It. was. disgusting.

They’re better now.

But, Sparkles, our cat, is missing.  We haven’t seen her in several days.  Kendra is out looking for her right now.

So, currently, we have two dogs, six five chickens, two rabbits (thank goodness!), two goats (that was a close one, too), four toads, a tree frog, a hamster, and a missing cat.

Why do we have animals again?



Roxy and Zeke, meet your new little friends. May 14, 2012

I’ve already made it pretty clear that I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to animals (or much else, for that matter).  If you missed Welcome to your new home, little goats, you may want to read it before reading this.  It explains a lot.

Ronnie and his dad (thanks, Papa Sherm!) built the fence for the goats on Saturday.  Up until that point, they were in a dog kennel – a less than ideal situation, to say the least.  I never realized how baby goats cry.  It’s loud.

Anyway, we worked all day getting their new pen ready.  As we were finishing up, my parents stopped by.  Add my sister who lives next door and my two kids, and we had enough characters to produce a true comedy.  Of course, that’s not we had planned.  It was strictly business – moving the goats from point A (the dog kennel in the back yard) to point B (the new pen in the woods) while avoiding the obstacles named Roxy and Zeke (obviously, the dogs).  Kind of like a covert operation…or an episode of American Gladiators.

Of course, this was complicated by the facts that the goats were wearing collars entirely too big for their necks and that they go crazy if separated from each other.  I hooked them both to leashes and had Max entice them forward with a bucket of food.  It kind of worked.  A little.

Then, my dad’s mind flashed to the nativity my mom displays every Christmas and what were those Biblical shepherds holding?  A broom!  Well, not really, but that’s what he used to scoot them along.  So, we had Max and my mom shaking goat food in a bucket calling them, me trying my best to pull them while not allowing the collars to slip over their heads, and my dad (still in his arm sling from recent shoulder surgery) bumping their butts with a broom and sounding very shepherd-ish.

We made it!  We put the goats in the pen and closed the gate, and that’s when the dogs went ballistic, barking and lunging at the fence.  Whose idea was it to put the dogs in there to “get it over with”?  I’m not sure in all of the confusion that was going on.  But, that’s what I did.  I put Zeke on a leash first (I thought his natural instincts would take over since he’s an Australian Shepherd mix) and brought him in.

He walked over to the goats and tried to nip at one.  That baby goat put his head down and deflected the dog with a swift upward motion that introduced Zeke to what those cute little horns are for.  Zeke quickly got the idea.  He walked over to the feed bucket and ate some goat food.  Weird dog.

Next was Roxy’s turn.  What.  A.  Disaster.  She immediately lunged at a goat in attack mode (of course, now I realize what a stupid idea this was.  I never would even consider putting Sparkles the cat in the chicken yard.  I amaze myself sometimes with my stupid ideas).  The goats fought back.  I tried to pull Roxy off but she was so strong the cable I was restraining her with slid and blistered my fingers.  I think I almost lost my pinky.  It was bad.

And then it turned worse.  She slipped right out of her collar.

I screamed for Ronnie, who happened to be about two hundred feet away.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that both my dad and my dad-in-law were right on the other side of the fence.  They both barreled into the goat lot to help.  Papa Sherm blocked the goats and my dad picked Roxy up (remember, he only has use of one arm) by the nape of her neck and threw her out of the gate.

I won’t go into all of the polite conversation between my husband and me that happened at this point.  I was a little worked up.  And he was slightly perturbed with me.  Slightly.

Well, the goats are in their lot.  The dogs can not get in the lot.  Ronnie and I are still married.  My family thinks I’m a fool.

I’d say it was a successful day.


Welcome to your new home, little goats. May 11, 2012

What in the world am I thinking!?  I am NOT an animal person, and I just spent the better part of the morning wrestling with two baby goats that we brought home last night.  Goats are strong, by the way.  And stinky.

Why do I have two goats in a cage?  That’s a good question.  Let me begin by sharing how we acquired our other animals.

The day we got our dog, we were not even considering a puppy.  I took the kids to the pet store just to look at the animals.  Then I saw her.  She was sitting in that pitiful little pen.  Just sitting there looking at me with those big sad eyes.  Begging to be rescued.  Then I noticed the sign on her pen – CLEARANCE.  I knew I had to have her.  So I paid the slashed price and asked the shopkeeper to hold her while I ran to Wal-Mart to buy the things normal people purchase in preparation for a puppy.  And to call my husband to inform him of the new addition to our family.

Who could resist those eyes?

I was guilted into our next pet acquisition.  Kendra really played me on this one.  How could I not buy her the little kitty when her brother had a puppy.  After all, she had always dreamed of having a kitten for her whole entire life.  So, we bought the kitten and then went back to Wal-Mart for kitten stuff.

Sparkles the kitten.

The dog and cat were enough for a long while.  Until one day, the kids really decided they absolutely couldn’t live without pet rabbits.  So, we bought them.  They had to live in a dog kennel in the garage for a few days while Ronnie built them a hutch.  Why?  Because, once again, we were unprepared.

Pleeease, Mom and Dad, pleeeease!?

Well, after that, we tried fish, but that didn’t work so well as you remember if you read my post To Flush or Not to Flush.  Moving on.

Time went on.  We went through several rabbits, and my sister added a dog to the mix, but we pretty much stayed the same for a few months.  Then, my son started really taking interest in frogs.  Since I’ve always been very determined not to pass my irrational fear on to my kids, I helped him build a habitat in the unused fish aquarium, and we put four frogs he captured in it.  I have to concentrate on not letting it bother me that there are frogs in his bedroom.  I don’t go in there much.

Then, Ronnie decided to get chickens.  Fresh eggs, teaching responsibility, all that good stuff.  I went along with it because the baby chicks were so cute.  However, since we were – you guessed it – unprepared! – the chickens lived in a container in my kitchen too long for me to end up liking them.  And, honestly, now that they’re older, they scare me to death.  They’re like frogs with feathers.  And beaks and long claws.  Terrifying.

So, that brings me to the goats.  We knew we were going to buy them, so we bought all the supplies to build a fence for them.  We even started on it.  Good, huh?  Unfortunately, that’s all we did, so when we went to get the goats last night, we brought them home and had nowhere to put them.  Typical of us, really.

I was supposed to put collars on them this morning, and tie them to something so they could be out for the day until we finish the fence tomorrow.  Good plan, huh?  Well, it was a failure.  Goats don’t like collars.  Goats don’t like being led on a leash.  Goats make a lot of racket, poop all the time, and jump around like bucking broncos.  Who knew they’d be kind of like little donkeys?  Not me, that’s for  sure.

So, Max and I managed to get them to the backyard, but the collars I bought were too big, and everything that could go wrong went wrong, and they probably hate me already, and they’re only 106 days old and now they’re probably traumatized, and I’m afraid they’re going to bite me, and the dogs are barking at them like crazy, and the goats are bleeting at the top of their little lungs, and I have goat pee and poop and hair all over me, and I’m not really sure how I feel about goats now.

We’ll build the fence tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’ve heard a rumor that someone we know has a pot-bellied pig they don’t want any more…



Balloons and Dog Treats March 30, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Max,parenting,Silly Situations — mandyholbert @ 6:29 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ahhhh…Friday evening. The end of the work week. The beginning of the weekend. Time to relax and have fun. Kick back. Chill.

We thought we’d go out for pizza, a regular thing for us on Friday nights. It’s easy and the kids like it. Especially since the restaurant gives out balloons on Fridays. All the kids have to do to get a balloon of their choice is to behave and eat their dinner. Should be an easy task since dinner is pizza and fries and the atmosphere is relaxed and family oriented.

Well, let’s just say that Max was having a little trouble behaving tonight. Well, maybe more than a little trouble. He wiggled, threw things on the floor, and was otherwise unruly. At one point, he got up from hs chair to do a bizarre dance of some sort in which he ran in place while flailing his arms and shaking his head back and forth (of course with his tongue out). Sparing you the more embarrassing details of his (shall I say?) uncharacteristic behavior, let’s just say that he forfeited his balloon quite early in the meal. Not that we didn’t give him ample opportunity to redeem himself – I can’t even begin to count the number of times we said something to the effect of “Max, if you’ll sit there and be a good boy now, you can still get a balloon.” No such luck.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine are usually in cohorts with each other. If one is bad, they are both bad. If one is grumpy, they are both grumpy. You get the idea. But, there, at the other end of the table, sat Kendra eating her dinner with impeccable manners and perfect behavior. You see, she had her eye on a yellow balloon from the time we walked in the restaurant, and every breath she took, she took with that yellow balloon in mind. She couldn’t have been any better.

So, what were we to do? We had to let Kendra get her yellow balloon, and we certainly couldn’t go back on our word and let Max get one too. So, our little princess pranced out of the restaurant with her prize, and our little devil left empty-handed.

Everything was fine until we got to the truck and Max realized we were really leaving. Then, he had a slight meltdown. He kept saying, “Mom I a good boy! Dad I a good boy! I want a balloon! Go back Mom! I want a balloon!!”

That hurt. No matter how naughty he was, it still hurt to see him sad. Especially with Kendra sitting there enjoying her yellow balloon a little more than she would have if Max would have gotten one too.

Well, the crying finally subsided. Things were calm. This was good. Then, Kendra said she needed to spit out her bubblegum.

So, naturally, what did I do? What did wondermom do? Rolled down the window, of course. And, yep, out went the yellow balloon. I think time froze as Kendra’s face went from shocked to horrified to accusing to devastated in a matter of seconds. Time froze, that is, until her earth-shattering sobs started. That was not one of my finer moments as a mother.

Well, Ronnie stepped up and calmed the situation by suggesting a peace-offering for the next day. So things were good again. And we were finally home. Time to spend a little quality time with the pets before bed. I thought it would be fun to give the pets a treat, so Max gave one to Roxy and Kendra gave some to Sparkles.

I’ll never really know what goes on in that head of my son’s, but when I went to look for him after he fed Roxy, I found him in the garage squatting on the floor next to the box of dog treats.

“I bite one Mom. I eat a treat.”

One smell of his breath confirmed it. The boy ate a dog treat.

Okay, so obviously it was time to go in and get cleaned up and brush teeth and stuff. I apologized to Kendra for the sixty-seventh time and romped on the floor for a while with the kids. We decided it was time for bed when Kendra tried to flip off the couch as Max did a cannonball off the top of the furniture…

Not exactly the relaxing evening I had in mind. And just think. It’s only Friday. We still have the whole weekend ahead of us…


Thursday Reflections March 29, 2012

Filed under: family,food — mandyholbert @ 9:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

My middle sister who lives next door to me and owns a dog named Zeke – I’ll call her Vickie to maintain her anonymity – told me this was going to be a hard week *sigh* *mean face* *sigh* (she was kind of mad at me).  She was mad because we decided to move the dogs’ invisible fence Monday night, which she thought meant she would spend the whole week training Zeke on the new boundary.

Well, it’s Thursday, and it’s been a pretty darn good week.  The dogs are trained.  That allowed me to move the rabbits out to their new home in the garden without fear of the dogs eating them.  That in turn allowed me to get our new six baby chickens out of my kitchen and into the garage.  And I did all of this without our cat killing anyone involved!

I discovered a nest full of eggs in the bird house in the garden.  The blueberry bushes and grape vines have new growth.  The hostas have popped up and filled out.  The honeysuckle is blooming.  And I don’t have chickens in my kitchen.

It’s spring, and I can’t wait to get out there and get my hands dirty.  To grow vegetables and prune the flowers.  This week has me so looking forward to the next few months.  Months that will be spent outside with my family and our little farm we seem to have started.

I’m sure there’ll be stories about these chickens.  They pretty much freak me out.  But, until then, I’ll enjoy watching them like I enjoy watching our two little bunnies hop around.  Yep, it’s been a pretty good week.