Monday, May 31, 2010

When boys impulse shop

I left them in the produce section for less than 30 seconds, and the next thing I know AJ was excitedly holding up a coconut that Daddy had told him he could get.

Why exactly did AJ feel the pressing need to buy a coconut?

"Because I never tried coconut milk before," he told me.

And so, when we arrived home, Jeff and AJ experienced a bit of a bonding moment as they tried to extract said coconut milk. It was the sound of a power drill that first attracted my attention. Before I could grab the camera and get out to the garage, I could hear Jeff's loud laughter.

I missed the best photo opportunity: AJ's expression after sipping what he later described for me as "rotten water."

By the time I joined them, Jeff had pounded open the hairy fruit so that AJ could try some of the white interior

Don't mistake the smile. He didn't like it. At all.

Rationalizing it all, Jeff says the look on AJ's face as he spit out the coconut milk was well worth the $2.79 purchase price. He also told me this was an important life lesson in case AJ ever should find himself stuck on a desert island.


The lessons being: if you're stranded and dehydrated and in need of a coconut, run to your nearest Walmart. Equally important: be sure to remember your power drill and make sure the battery is charged so that you can bore into it for the gross tasting liquid.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial weekend memories

It's always the sign of a good weekend when you struggle to find time to write about it because you're too busy having fun.

I think this picture says so much about all that I am thankful for this Memorial Day weekend. With a flag flying in the background, my favorite veteran is able to spend a sunny afternoon playing baseball with our son at a local park.

This morning, one of the network news programs showed video of flags being placed by the rows of graves at Arlington National Cemetary. So many lives sacrificed so that we can enjoy these simple pleasures. So many families that have lost a loved one and can only hope to recover a new sense of normal because of the hatred of anonymous strangers.
We are truly blesssed to have all that we have. And with that, I'm making the abrupt transition back to the fun we had yesterday.
AJ is obsessed with baseball. Much to Jeff's delight. They play catch almost daily, with neighbor kids often joining them. On Saturday, we headed to a nearby field for batting practice.
It's pretty funny to watch the facial expressions. AJ is trying so hard, while Jeff is trying so hard to act like he can't quite catch the ball or keep up with AJ as he rounds the bases.

Ummm... I think AJ might be just a bit outside the base path on this one.
As for Sydney and me, we spent time at the adjoining playground. The swing was a welcome break for Sydney, who was having issues with the wood chips on the ground migrating into her crocs.

Walking around on her tip toes to minimize what was getting in her shoes, she cracked me up each time she proclaimed, "That's di-GUS-ting!"

Friday, May 28, 2010

AJ and the beanstalk

So that's what he was thinking.

At dinner last night, AJ seemed unusually excited to have green beans on the menu. He proceeded to open up each bean, pluck out the seeds and line them up in a long row.

I wasn't sure why he was doing this, but as long as he was eating his vegetables without arguing, it was all okay with me.

About an hour later, I was outside watering flowers. AJ suddenly went running into the house, only to return a moment later. He was carrying one of the bean seeds.

He then stuck it into the dirt of my flower pot.

Let's be honest here. My thumb isn't exactly green. Anything I plant has little enough chance for success, and I'm thinking a bean seed that's been nuked for four minutes inside a microwave oven has - to be blunt - zero chance of sprouting.

If I wanted to be kind, I would buy a pack of bean seeds and sneak a few into the soil. But I really don't have the time to nurture a small seedling. Instead, I think I can take an easier route. In the two days since I transplanted flowers into the wheelbarrow pot, AJ's already tipped it over once, effectively killing the contents. I think it's safe to assume he'll do it again, which means I can blame the lack of bean growth on his own carelessness.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The gardener

Cheapskate gardener that I am, this year I am again attempting to contain the Johnny Jump-ups that are - literally - growing like weeds in my rock garden, by transplanting them into my wheelbarrow-shaped flower pot.

What's new this year, is my little shadow who eagerly tries to help.

I can just imagine the thought process. "Let's see, first Mommy picks some purple flowers..."

"Then she carries them over here,"

"and she sticks them in the dirt."

"There. That wasn't so hard."
Roots? Who needs roots? I think I better plan on picking out the shriveled up petals before my little gardener has a chance to see how her flowers aren't growing. She may develop a green thumb someday, but right now, it's too covered in spaghetti sauce and other dirt that accumulated since supper to tell.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joy rides

Nothing accelerates father-daughter bonding quite like a few laps around the yard on the lawn mower.

The novelty of "helping" Dad seemed to wear off for AJ about mid-summer last year. But it remains a highlight for Sydney and, I suspect, for Jeff, too.

Sydney patiently waits with me on the sidewalk as Jeff starts up the big green riding mower. Then, when he comes around the corner of the garage, I lift Sydney up and onto his lap.

"I go for wide on the gween twactor!" Sydney excitedly tells me each time they finish.

Lucky for her, with the rain and then sun we've seen this week, I think she'll be getting another ride in just a few days.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


It's a good thing they like each other.

Between the set-up time and the three days of our garage sale, AJ and the girl he says he's going to marry when he grows up, have spent a lot of time together.

And when the sale was finally done, what did they want to do? Play together a little more.

And so, as exhausted as all of the adults were, we headed to dinner at Gordy's, followed by ice cream and the playground next door.

AJ and Hanna have had a special friendship ever since they met as toddlers in daycare. She started it, by giving him a kiss. Her dad repeatedly jokes about "needing to have a talk with that boy."

Interestingly (or sadly, depending on how you want to look at it), as much as they enjoy playing together, they've become aware of their gender difference. When it came time to cross the parking lot back to our car, Jeff directed all the kids to take hands. I caught the brief look of "uh oh" on Hanna's face. Hold hands with a boy??? I quickly stepped in between them, offering a hand to each. They both quickly accepted.
I guess at this age, chaperones are much appreciated.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The latest from AJ

He's got the hat, the t-shirt and the enthusiasm. Now he just needs his first real practice and he'll be set to go. They're still two weeks out from the first practice, but AJ got to meet his baseball team on Saturday and get their pictures taken. He was only too happy to re-create the pose when he got home.

As always, AJ's been entertaining me with his observations and interpretations.

Sunday morning, trying to get him ready for church, I pulled out a pair of his dressier shorts and asked if they still fit. The shorts are a 4T. AJ is now up to size 6 in pants.

AJ, who to date seems to only grow taller not wider, answered, "Are they shorts? Shorts always fit."

Later at Sunday School, we sat together for a special family session. It was the last week of the year so they kept us all together. It was also Pentecost Sunday, so the pastor, to illustrate the significance, pulled out a birthday cake and explained to the kids it was the birthday of the church. "This is God's birthday," he said.

AJ, who knows his birthday is in February, looked up at me and whispered, "My birthday is before God's."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cheap entertainment

Whew! We survived our first garage sale. What an incredible amount of work!

I found a parallel between trying to sell the kids' stuff and raising kids. Just like they'll tell you about having kids, people will warn you that a garage sale is a lot of work, but you simply cannot fathom how time-consuming it is involved until you actually do it.

At least with kids, there's the payback of sweet hugs and unconditional love. With garage sales, the "reward" is the dollar handed to you by a tattooed freak who then walks away with your daughter's beloved Dora the Explorer sweatsuit.

Ironically, in the midst of my weekend filled with bargain hunters, I discovered an amazing value for keeping the kids occupied. Sidewalk chalk.

One dollar for a pack of 12 at Walmart, and it keeps them busy for hours. AJ announced he was going to draw a robot, but after adding teeth he decided it looked more like a shark.

Sydney colored on the driveway much like she does in coloring books: bold scribbles in pink done with total enthusiasm. She sure had fun with it. Three days in a row.

AJ really got into it. Below is his dinosaur. (The one behind him is the masterpiece of our next-door neighbor, Jolene.)

Besides the ancient reptiles, our driveway now features a viking ship, several "race tracks" (the very long line in the picture above is one of them), plus two hop scotch boards and many other scribbles. The kids have spent hours coloring the pavement over the last three days.
Not bad a bad way to spend a buck!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Manly meals

AJ is now a grown up. At least that's what he told me.

It started at breakfast time. He announced he didn't need a plastic bowl featuring Batman, sharks or Lightning McQueen. No sir, not for him. He wanted a "big boy bowl" (his words.)

I got him one of our glass bowls. And what did he want to put in it? Magic Stars - the generic version of Lucky Charms.

By dinner time, he'd matured even further. We went out to eat at the Giant Panda Buffet. As we walked into the restaurant, AJ announced he was now a grown up.Based on what criteria? Because he could unbuckle his seatbelt and shut the car door all by himself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sprinkler fun

AJ be nimble.
AJ be quick.
AJ jump over the...
Ice cold water shooting out of the sprinkler.

Can you blame him? He'd just "graduated" from pre-school and got to come home early on a sunny day with temperatures in the upper 70s. When you're five, does life get any better than this?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Almost a kindergartener

With a quack, quack, quack and a few other animal sounds and gestures, AJ is now done with his preschool readiness class. The last day was Tuesday, and the kids performed a special show for their parents.

The theme was fun in the sun, and the kids marched onto the stage in the school's theatre wearing bright yellow t-shirts, colorful hats and cute beach-themed necklaces. They then performed about a half dozen songs.

It was tough to get a photo of AJ looking up. Most of the time, he and his classmates were staring at the front row, watching their teacher for choreography cues. The one time you could count on him to make eye contact was at the end of each song. He knew exactly where Jeff and I were sitting, and had to check each time to make sure we were clapping.

Their parting song was particularly touching because the hand gestures were actually sign language.

After the program was over, we got to go back to his classroom for root beer floats.
Interestingly, as we walked to the classroom, I couldn't help but glance over at the "lost and found" wall, which is really a row of hooks filled with misplaced coats and other outer wear. I was hoping that somehow AJ's missing coat (the one he lost a month ago, which we have since replaced) might have magically reappeared.
I didn't see AJ's coat, but I did see a big black jacket with a Bosnia map embroidered on the back. Hmmm... Jeff had to spend six months in Bosnia to get a coat like that. How common could they be? You don't suppose...
I caught up to Jeff and AJ in the classroom, and got Jeff to follow me back to take a look at the jacket. Why yes. It is his coat, which he didn't even realize was missing. He must have forgotten it after baseball practice. As he was pulling it from the hook, I took a closer look at the remaining coats, and guess what... AJ's missing coat had also turned up.
I guess I can't yell at AJ too loudly. It appears he comes by it honestly.

Now that I've totally gone off on a tangent, one last comment... note to self: On the same day your 5-year-old wraps up preschool, it is not wise to also be pricing baby clothes to sell at a garage sale. The combination of the two events messes with emotions WAY too much!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


With Daddy and AJ fishing, Mommy and Sydney got to enjoy some girl time this weekend. We went on a walk, kicked a ball around for a (very short) while and then discovered a bottle of bubbles.

It was a windy enough day that usually the bubbles took off and rose quickly, giving Sydney a bit of a challenge to try and pop them. But, of course, that's what made it fun for her. For me, it was simply fun to listen to her squeals of excitement each time she popped one and shouted, "Bubbles!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

The salesman

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I suspect that was part of AJ's motivation in helping us get ready for our upcoming garage sale. A small part. A fascination with money (greed?) probably was a bigger part.

From the moment we got home from church on Sunday, AJ wanted to go fishing. (Note the life jacket he put on all by himself.) Jeff, who needed to clean out the garage so I'd have space to set up for the sale, told AJ he'd had to wait a little bit.

Well, that little bit took a couple hours. AJ alternated between playing inside and outside, and finally came over to see what I was doing as I labeled and priced the endless piles of baby clothes. That's when he decided to "help."

Reaching into a bin of toys that still needed to be sorted, he pulled out a plastic golf club. "5.00 AJ" is what he wrote.

"That might be a little much," I told him.

He wasn't listening. He was too busy searching for others toys to sell. He next came out with a plastic fighter plane. "One dollar," he told me. I think that's about a quarter more than what we paid for it at a garage sale last year.

"That still might be a little much," I advised.

"How about 100 cents instead?" he suggested.

Please tell me that's just one of the many cute things he's prone, and not an indication of the slick salesman he's going to be some day.

He next tried to sell one of my stuffed animals. Uh, no. After that, he priced a pen at a dime. Good luck with that.

As I continue to dig down through bin after bin of baby and toddler clothes, it amazes me how much he's grown. I made him hold up the outfit below. It was always one of my favorites.

Jeff and AJ did finally go fishing. It was a short trip. Nothing was biting. Not even the bulleye (walleye, I finally confirmed) that had scratched their worm the day before.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fish stories

I need to teach Jeff to think like a blogger. That means, take more pictures. Even if the big one gets away while fishing, since AJ was involved, we're still probably going to get a story that's a keeper.

For the fishing opener, Jeff and AJ headed for their favorite spot in Carlton. As AJ described it, it's the place "with a lot of rocks where I found the pretend worm."

Alas, it was not their most successful fishing venture. AJ came home and announced, "Dad caught one little fish, but I didn't catch any."

"You got skunked?" I asked sympathetically.

AJ look confused. "No, I just didn't catch any fish.

Talking a bit more with AJ this morning about the fishing trip, he told me that one time a fish scratched one of their worms. He also said that the little fish Jeff caught was a bulleye.

I asked AJ, "A bullhead? Did it have whiskers like a catfish?"

"No! It was a bulleye."

"A walleye?" I guessed again.

"No. Bulleye," he insisted again.

I'm going to have to wait until Jeff wakes up to clarify that.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The more things change...

... the more they stay the same.

Technology may be advancing faster than we can fathom, but a child's ability to embarrass his/her parents has found a way to keep pace.

Friday evening, while shopping with the kids at Sam's Club, I had to go to the bathroom. AJ was sitting in the back half of the cart, happily playing games on my iPhone, so I left him there while I took Sydney with me into the bathroom.

We emerged a couple minutes later and found AJ still in the cart, still playing games. He said, "your friend called, but I told her you were in the bathroom."
What? How does AJ know how to answer an iPhone? Especially when the incoming call interrupts his game?
I took the phone from AJ and checked the list of recent calls. Sure enough, there was my friend Crystal's name and number. I called her back.
Thankfully, Crystal has young boys. And a good sense of humor. She answered the phone laughing. "Did you flush?"
According to her, AJ didn't even wait for her to ask if I was there. He simply answered the phone, "Hi. My mom's in the bathroom."
I use my phone a lot for work, and exclusively for my freelance writing. As embarrassing as this was, it could have been much, much worse.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

International fame

Jeff came home from work tonight and said, "Hey AJ, remember when we went to Canada last year? Because they remember you!"


Jeff spent the day north of the border, representing the DPD at the funeral of a Thunder Bay police chaplain. While there, Jeff got to talking with a Canadian Mountie we'd met last September when Jeff took part in a law enforcement memorial event. The Mountie remembered meeting AJ at the luncheon following the ceremony, and said there are actually pictures of him on the Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps website.

Don't believe me? Here they are:

If you want to see for yourself, go to the website, then click on "photos", "2009/2010" and "Police Memorial". Scroll all the way down and there we are. By my count, if you go to the seventh to last shot, you can see Jeff carrying the U.S. flag. The fourth to last shot shows the entire family eating. And then the last two photos are the ones I copied here.

I called AJ over to the computer so that he could see the photos. He grinned, remembering the day, then said, "Hey Dad, he's got a haircut just like you!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day

I've been thinking since last Sunday that I should write something poignant and touching about motherhood and all that my kids mean to me. Something sweetly funny about how - as I do my best to shape my kids into good human beings - they, seemingly without trying, have shaped me into a better person.

But the fact is, when you're stuck in the trenches and functioning on less sleep than you thought was humanly possible, it's hard to be philosophical.
I'm a mom who is trying to train for a half marathon in five weeks, at the same time I'm preparing for a garage sale in one week, while trying to squeeze in a freelance writing assignment that's due in three weeks. I have roughly four hours from the time I arrive home from work in the evening until I fall asleep (often unintentionally while snuggling with the kids at bedtime.) And last night I spent at least 45 minutes of that time in the bathroom, trying to convince a stubborn toddler that her tummy will feel better if she simply allows herself to poop.

Even if I had a deep thought, I'd forget it if I didn't immediately write it down.

I guess I should be grateful that my battle of wills with Sydney centers on bowel movements. In years to come, that power struggle will no doubt shift to boys and curfews and other expressions of independence.

Earlier in the week, during a similar struggle with Sydney over her bodily functions, AJ came bursting into the bathroom. I tried to tell him he needed to wait until Sydney and I were finished, but he excitedly interrupted me, presenting me with a purple viola he'd pulled from our garden, "Look Mom, it's the most beautiful flower in the world, and I picked it for you."

I couldn't ignore the irony of the moment. I was simultaneously changing a dirty diaper and being handed a lovingly plucked wild flower. Just like that, my children had managed to sum up the highs and lows of motherhood. No philosophical thinking required.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just seemed like the thing to do

I don't have time to write much today. Thankfully, I don't need to write much.

Afterall, when you have a child who comes to you looking like this, what is there really to say?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The games we play

Aaahhh... the allure of toys that haven't been seen in a while and will soon be going away (hopefully) forever.

I've finally advanced beyond the planning stages for a garage sale. Translation: instead of thinking about signage and tables and how to price things (in other words, stalling), I've actually begun sorting through the massive piles of baby stuff that's gathering dust in my basement.

I should have started a month ago.

There's a lot of stuff. And a lot of dust.

For some reason, my mental focus has been on all the outgrown baby and toddler clothes I can sell. I forgot the mounds and mounds and mounds of toys my kids have also outgrown. Night one of sale preparation was spent simply pulling toys out of storage, wiping them down and trying to match up missing pieces. Let me just say, pairs of animals may have been key to Noah's success, but they certainly aren't fun when getting ready for a garage sale.

AJ is embracing the whole idea of a garage sale. Perhaps he's a little too excited. There are several new toys he wants to buy, but I've told him not until we've cleared out all the toys he isn't playing with now. So he's more than happy to bring me toys to sell, but I'm questioning if he understands the permanence that once they're gone, they're gone for good.

Watching the kids, and the fun they were having "helping me", I ended up implementing some new rules. I'm using the guest room as a staging area and so have told them that anything that's on the bed is being sold, and once something is on the bed, it doesn't come off.

The sale starts 10 days from today. This is when I remind myself that I work better under pressure.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pancake days

If you find something you like, stick with it. That seems to be AJ's meal mantra during a recent 24-hour period.

Thursday night, with Jeff working late, I took the kids to the Lions' Pancake Day in Duluth. As we were getting ready to eat our pancakes, AJ announced he'd had pancakes for lunch at school, too.

Friday morning, I asked AJ what he wanted for breakfast, and guess what his answer was.

Three meals in a row of pancakes. Perhaps part of their appeal is that I allowed him to use a butter knife to cut them himself. That's even more exciting than being allowed to use a scissors!
Though, I wonder what it says about me and my priorities that I allow him to use a knife, but still don't trust him to pour his own syrup. Hmmm...

AJ is a smart kid. After he finished his third straight meal of pancakes, I asked him which ones he liked best. "The ones for breakfast," was his prompt reply.

I really shouldn't feel too proud. Nuking them in the microwave for a minute and ten seconds really doesn't give me much to brag about.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wha... wha... WHAT?

Please pardon me as I ponder, for a moment, a few questions that come to mind as I gaze out my window this morning. Questions like:

Did I miss something? Maybe... oh... perhaps... SUMMER?

Or perhaps the more direct query: Are you freakin' kidding me?!?

It is May 8. Normally in these parts, we don't see leaves on trees this early in the year. But for once, after an incredibly warm and early spring, we do.
And now those leaves are covered with snow.
Do you suppose, after a reception like this, that they will ever want to bud this early again? I'm guessing not. Way to go Mother Nature!
I suppose I should accept my share of blame in this. I did pack away the kids' snow boots last week. I even made a joke about it on Facebook, suggesting something like this was bound to happen.
The last two weekends have been incredibly blustery up here. As I pushed myself to run 6-plus miles despite the gale force winds, I thought to myself, "Is it really too much to ask to have a Friday, Saturday or Sunday for a long run, when the winds aren't gusting at close to 20 miles an hour?"
Perhaps I should have been more specific. Our neighbor's flag, which is what I use to gauge just how windy it is, is fairly calm today.
Next time, I guess I need to be more clear in requesting a day with calm winds and NO SNOW!
AJ, at least, found a little amusement in all of this. For a while. His initial reaction was to laugh and ask, "Why is God teasing us like this?"
By yesterday afternoon, he'd embraced the snowy day, asking for hot cocoa with marshmallows and watching The Polar Express.
This morning, when he came stumbling out of his room, I told him to look out the window. His face first shifted into a look of shock. But then, in the midst of a yawn, he announced, "I... hate... snow."
Join the club my boy!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Give a child a little encouragement and look out!

Sydney posed yesterday for her first modeling experience. She and I (and potentially AJ, too, depending on the final shot chosen) will be on the cover of the St. Luke's Foundation annual report. The Foundation is one of my agency's clients, which is how this came about.

For the picture, we needed her to color. Crayon, marker - it didn't matter. She just needed to look adorable while holding some sort of writing utensil.

Now, for anyone who hasn't had an experience such as this, let me tell you, it's a long and tedious process to find the best angle, get the lighting just right and then capture the perfect expression. The photographer and art director are both great with little kids, but it still tested Sydney's attention span.

To keep her focused, they praised her profusely for her ability to draw circles. And so we drew a lot of circles. Big circles. Little circles. We went through about a dozen sheets of paper, front and back, and at last they felt they had a good selection from which to choose.

A short time after we got home, guess what Sydney wanted to do.

"I draw circles!" she announced, helping herself to AJ's new markers and pad of paper.

She didn't stop there.

"I draw big GIANT circles!" she excitedly told me. "I draw purple circles and green ones!"

Thank goodness circles can be such fun!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dinner IS the show

Who needs to go out for entertainment when you have these two?

Wait, don't let me answer that.
But assuming I didn't desperately want an evening out with just my husband, let's continue the story...
Wednesday, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I suggested we have tacos for supper. The response was less than enthusiastic. Apparently I am the only one in my house who likes tacos. So when I was reminded that Sammy's Pizza had a special deal going on this week, I offered that idea as an alternative. Ole'!
I called ahead and ordered, Jeff and the kids picked it up and so, by the time I got home from work, supper was waiting on the table.
Sydney was dancing around with excitement, "We got Sammy's Pizza! We got Sammy's Pizza!"
AJ interrupted long enough to tell me how many days he has left at pre-school.
It was about this time I noticed Sydney was wearing a different pair of pants than I'd dressed her in that morning. It's a tell-tale sign that she once again is not ready to wear "big girl underwear" to school. (While I'm thrilled that daycare is trying to encourage her potty training in this way - it was her teacher's suggestion to send her in underwear - I'm wondering why I'm the one stuck each evening washing the wet pants of a stubborn little girl who clearly is not figuring out to tell them ahead of time when she needs to go.
I asked Sydney, "Did you have another accident today?"
She paused for a moment, clearly not wanting to address the topic, and so did her best to quickly change it, excitedly announcing, "We got Sammy's Pizza!"
With everyone finally sitting down, Sydney jumped to the next step in the routine, "God is great and..." she started praying.
"Why does she get to pick?" AJ interrupted. "She got two turns."
"It is AJ's turn to pick," Jeff quietly confirmed.
"Fine," I sighed. "AJ, what prayer would you like to say?"
He thought for a moment, considering his options before announcing: "God is great."
Part of me wants to bang my head on the table. Luckily, my head reminds me that as long as they act like this, I will never run out of blog material.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The costume party

It's not every day you walk into a bowling alley and see masked superheroes channeling their strength into rolling a ball to destroy the forces of evil, otherwise known as bowling pins.

Or maybe it's not such a rare sight. I have to admit I don't visit bowling alleys very often anymore.

In this case, AJ was invited to a birthday party for a school friend, Parker. Parker's mom apparently is very brave, or just plain insane. (Or maybe she started out brave and ended up in the loony bin by the end of the afternoon.) For the party, which was held at a local bowling alley, all the kids were invited to come dressed as their favorite superhero. I counted one other Wolverine besides AJ, a couple Batmen, a Hulk and a few others that I didn't exactly recognize. All told, there were 10-15 superheroes attempting to save the world while wearing borrowed bowling shoes.

Jeff was busy at a baseball tournament, so I had to bring Sydney with to drop off AJ. Of course since her brother was wearing a costume, she couldn't possibly leave the house without wearing one too. We got a few odd looks at the grocery store, which is where we ran to after Parker's mom assured me she had enough friends lined up to help with all the kids.

Melodramatic princess that she is, Sydney whimpered as we shopped, alternating between her personas. "I miss AJ," she whined. "Sweeping Beauty misses her wowverine!"

We returned to the bowling alley a short time later, only to discover that the battle of good versus evil had not gone off without a hitch. A very sorry-looking wolverine pointed to the lane he'd been bowling on and confessed, "Number 10 doesn't work anymore. I got a little excited and threw the ball too soon and broke the thing that knocks over the pin."

"Uh oh," I responded.

"But they called a lady and she said she could fix it in five minutes," he quickly assured me.

I'm sure it's not the first, or the last time, the pin setter has been knocked by a bowling ball. And seeing what a very, very lo-o-o-o-o-ng time it took for the ball to roll down the lane when AJ threw it, I'm thinking the impact was slight at best. (Parker's mom also assured me that everything was fine.)