Sunday, October 30, 2011

A True American Horror Story....

Tomorrow is Halloween.  Since you can never get enough Halloween fun, here is another story.

It was a dark and stormy night.  Cliché … but true.  It was 3 am and a cold-front was moving in which brought moisture from the gulf, creating a long, mild thunderstorm.  It all but guaranteed cooler weather tomorrow.
Perhaps the storm woke her from her dreams.  But that didn’t feel quite right. Normally the storms were comforting, more relaxing somehow. No. Something else woke her. Something quietly nagged her. Still hidden, waiting.
She lay quietly in the dark listening to the thunder and the occasional wind burst that forced rain onto the windows.  She snuggled back down into the covers enjoying the warmth.  Yeah, she was just being silly.  Must have just been thunder.
Just as she began to drift back to sleep, as the storm seemed to strengthen, suddenly she was awake again.  She turned under the warm covers.  What had disturbed her? That same nagging, burning feeling lurked in her subconscious.  Like a sleeping giant threatening to pummel the small village.   
Instantly her vivid imagination awoke.  Was someone in the house? A ghost? Vampire? Giant alligator?  Dang, she really should stop watching all the scary movies.  Stupid Syfy!  Ok.  Think.   She lay quietly waiting for something.  A noise perhaps?  No.  Only silence.  Wait.  Was that something in the corner of the room?  She blinked, tried to focus.  The shadow appeared to move. She drew in a sudden breath just as a bolt of lightning lit up the room.  The dark thin shadow that moments before was a zombie, was merely a jacket thrown over a chair.  Not nearly as frightening as a zombie. 
She sighed, relief flooded her mind.  In the brief second it took to over-react to the zombie shadow, all her muscles were tightened into hard knots.  One by one the muscles began to relax and she managed a half smile.  How ridiculous!  Suddenly she was glad no one else was awake to know how silly she was being.  The horror movie marathons had to stop.
Well, since she was awake, she should use the bathroom.  Her aging bladder wouldn’t allow waking in the middle of the night to pass by without a quick trip to the potty.  Yet another sign that growing old stinks. 
Well, no sense in delaying.  Once she had the first thought of the need, it wouldn’t stop until she went. Experience taught her that it was best to get it over with early on. She quietly tossed the covers aside and padded into the bathroom.  The rain was hitting the windows in a more consistent rhythm now. 
Lightening brightened the room as she passed the corner where moments before the zombie stood.  Watching. Waiting.  Craving her brains.  She shook her head as her feet hit the cold tiles in the bathroom.  Her vivid imagination had gotten her good grades in school, but now she wasn’t sure it was an asset. 
She finished and began the short, but chilly trip back to her bed when she stopped.  A dark mass lay just inside the door of the bathroom. Even in the dark, she could see the long, narrow outline of the beast lying on the white tile of the bathroom. It was huge and dark in contrast to the white tile.  It coiled near the doorway, poised…ready to strike.  Her heart pounded in her throat. 
How did a huge anaconda get into our house? Our bathroom? And how did it not attack her on the way in? Wait, what? Anaconda?  Risking life and limb, she reached down and moved the black sweatpants the teenager left carelessly on the floor.  Well, as frightening as a sloppy teenager was, it as the lesser of two evils.  Tossing the anaconda to the side, she managed to find her way back to bed without fighting anymore monsters. 
Back in bed, warm and safe she began to question how any sane person would automatically jump to anacondas and zombies.  Seriously, maybe this was some sort of mental problem.  It was 3am.  She would ponder this another time. 
She snuggled back into the warm bed.  Suddenly, as if she had been struck by an unseen fist, she was thrown into a new horror.  The feeling of dread began to build from the pit of her stomach.  Oppressive, almost physical pressure began to weigh on her chest.  The zombie and anaconda scares were nothing compared to this. This was real. 
Her pulse sped up.  Breathing became difficult.  It felt as if her heart would pound out of her chest.  The fear threatened to overwhelm her.  She tried to combat the fear.  Think positive, happy thoughts, but that didn’t help.  Nothing would help drive the fear and hopelessness away. 
Her eyes widened, she clung to the covers and took in a deep breath as the awareness sank in.  In a few hours, the alarm would go off, and she would be forced to deal with reality.  This was not a drill.  Nothing would prevent this.  Best just deal with it head on.
She resigned herself that it was beyond her control. She steadied her nerves and prepared to meet the beast head on. That beast?  The shocking knowledge that today was Monday.
Oh…. The horror!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On the road again... yea... I now it's cliche, but it's my blog... so there!

Last weekend, the hubs and I went to Memphis for a nice, romantic weekend.  Given that all of our time, money and sanity is tied up in travel softball, this weekend was meant to be romantic and relaxing.  And by romantic and relaxing, I mean kid-free, eating my weight in fried food and bisKITS… oh… the biskits…., and sleeping in. 
Memphis is about a five hour drive and the majority of that is through Arkansas and way Southern Missouri.  So for our traveling pleasure entertainment  mind-numbing boredom, we enjoyed unbelievably curvy roads (I tend to get car sick, so I was Dramamined up), lots of farm land, and small – let’s call them interesting – towns. 
Given that it’s nearing Halloween, I’m all alert for zombies and werewolves.  I mean… you can’t be too careful these days.  And given that we were deep in Redneck  hillbilly Ozarks country… there’s always the chance of redneck zombies.  Almost an oxymoron there… but you get the idea.  Sidenote:  Would one be able to tell the difference between a traditional zombie and a redneck zombie?  Something to ponder later. 
We pulled into a small town to use the rest room.  It was our second stop… apparently I forgot to pack my adult-sized bladder.  The place we stopped was our only option.  I know you are thinking that it must have been simply lovely and quaint.  You would be incorrect.  First off, the “gas station” (with only four gas pumps, I wasn’t positive it qualified for a “station”) was also the town grocery store.  So walking in there were isles of food, toilet paper and oddly a corner section of electronic casino machines.  Yea… no I don’t get it either.
Perhaps it was the Dramamine induced stupor or that I really had to tinkle, but I took in the odd sight with amazement as I was dashing toward the wood paneled doors marked restrooms/store room.  Yes.  The bathrooms were in the storage room.  No time to ponder who thought wood paneling would be THE best look for a grocery store/gas station… but whateve!  As I’m taking in the instant weirdness, I notice that three deer hunter men-folk were perched at the “casino” corner.  More so, I noticed that they were noticing me.  I couldn’t decide if they were indeed redneck zombies who were looking to munch on my brain… or if they wanted to take me home to meet their mamas.  I choose to believe it was the zombie thing, because I’m sure my brain is irresistible to the redneck zombie.  I have no proof to base this on… just a hunch. 
I flashed back to the movie Deliverance and wondered where the hubs was.  Oh… he found the candy isle.  Ok.  I caught him, asked him to wait in the store room for me to finish before he left.  Not sure if it was for him to protect me or vice versa.  Anyway, we exited the grocery store/gas station unharmed.  I like to think my evil eye, threatening zombie-watch-out look that protected us, because they let us leave unharmed or unbitten.  Whew!
As Willie Nelson as I’ll ever be… we were on the road again.  Speaking of Willie Nelson (and I don’t often)… there needs to be a compromise with radio stations between here and there… some channel that isn’t gangsta rap and country/western!  Yes… I mean country/western.  Barbara Mandrell anyone? Ok then!
Anyway.  since we barely made it out of that town alive… overexagerate? Who me?  I really tried to NOT have to stop again.  So I needed entertainment.  Because some road engineer thought the roads should mimic a coiled rattlesnake, I couldn’t read in the car (well, I could, but not without barfing.  Barfing might damper the romantic weekend).  The radio situation was less than desirable (aka crap!).  My ipod was dead.  The hubs was on the phone, so I had to entertain myself by looking out the window.  Hmmm… cotton field, cotton field, horse, cotton field, old barn, a few trees, cotton field, mobile tattoo parlor, cotton field … wait … what?!
Yes.  Some entrepreneur had created a mobile tattoo parlor from an old converted ambulance.  I didn’t even know you could buy old ambulances… wait, who would buy old ambulances…. Oh, right… mobile tattoo businessmen!  I squealed in delight, the Hubs nearly dropped the phone in fright and I promptly asked if we could stop and get matching tattoos.  What would be more romantic?  Well, Hepatitis C… that’s what.  Ok.  Point taken. And here I am, sans-tetanus shot! Dang it!!!  But still… I could have my picture taken by it! But no. The hubs is always cautious around rednecks, possible mobile meth labs and fields as far as the eye could see, so we continued on. I pouted a little… maybe a lot.  *sigh*
Well, he might damper my fun, but I won’t let him deny you guys.  Since I was so shocked that I couldn’t find my camera on the way down, I thought I would try to remember on the way back. Then on the way back I was in a Dramamine fog/sleep/high and missed it… again.  So you’ll just have to take my word on it.  It was a thing of beauty. 
But I won’t be deterred.  I couldn’t deny you the amazement…. I decided to draw you a picture of it… using my mad drawin’ skillz, yo!
Bask in its beauty my friends!
P.S.  Oh.  And we had a wonderful time, ate amazing food, saw the Broadway show Memphis! (it was excellent), and overall had an awesome weekend… of course the mobile tattoo parlor was the best…but what could top a mobile tattoo parlor? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another public service.... the more you know...

Halloween is just around the corner, and this is THE best tv watchin time of the year.  Oh, yes... the Christmas holidays always have great heart warming shows, and I do love the new fall season.  However, this is the season of horror movies.  And lots of them. Good, Bad, Stupid.  Great entertainment.  So I've definitely been enjoying the season. And because I'm nothing if not observant (shut up!), I've discovered their secret.  Oh... men have searched for it for years, and I... I have found it.
The secret to all horror movies.
Yes, indeed I have found the secret to all horror movies.  It doesn’t matter the circumstance or the evil foe.  It doesn’t matter location or solution needed.  Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, Evil Entities, Haunted Houses, Aliens you name it. They all have one common denominator. 
Stupid people.
You have to have a stupid person (or two) in every movie.  You have to have the stupid person to go back into the house.  You have to have the stupid person to try to rescue others.  You have to have the stupid person who says things like “It’s gonna be ok.  All we need to do is wait right here.” Or “It’s just a little bite” or my personal favorite “I don’t think they want to hurt us, let’s just go see what they want.”
So I’ve come up with a top 10 list of things that will help the stupid survive: 
1.       If that old house you just moved into tells you to leave.  Seriously, leave.  Nothing good will come from a talking house. Ever. 
2.       The dude covered in blood is probably the killer.  So don’t trust him.  Especially if he has crazy eyes.
3.       If your buddy comes back with any bite marks.  Yea, he’s gonna turn into something.  Vampire, zombie, werewolf… you the idea.  Probably shouldn’t hang with him.
4.       When all your friends have disappeared, don’t go looking for them.  You are the next victim… seriously, get out a Dodge!
5.       If the creepy neighbor seems weird to you.  He is.  Keep away!  And never “invite” him over…. Seriously, find a non-creepy friend!
6.       If weird stuff is going on in your town, there’s no need to go investigate it.  Really, curiosity didn’t kill the complacent, couch potato cat. It killed the nosey, busy-body cat.
7.       Get a real weapon.  Knives, swords, guns.  And always go for the head.  Beheading kills most scary movie villains.  Think about it.  Vampires, werewolves, zombies… yep... can’t hurt you with no head.  I bet Jason, Freddy and Michael wouldn’t have made a billion sequels with no head.  Just sayin’.
8.       If any animals go all crazy on you, remember they are still animals.  Sharks can’t live on land no matter how smart they are.  Hello? Common sense… don’t get in the water! For further advice on animals, read this post.
9.       Don’t be slutty.  The slutty girls always get killed first.  Fact.
10.   Don’t be stupid.  Seriously, it IS that simple.

So now if you ever find yourself in a scary movie, you will not be one of the early casualties.  More face time!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A tale of Facebook Love.

She had known him for a few months.  Not deeply personal, but well enough. Friends. Most good relationships started with friendship, right?  She had admired him from afar; monitoring his posts, watching his progression on Farmville and happily observing his occasional postings about being tired and his hatred of traffic.  She enjoyed his photo postings of his favorite foods and the occasional buddy pose with his friends.  You know the one: arms around each others’ shoulders, camera extended, goofy smile. She found his fondness for puppy videos endearing even though she herself preferred kitten videos, but tomato/tomato.
She also observed as girls shamelessly toyed with him.  Truthfully, she was a bit jealous of the way they flaunted themselves. Flirty comments and their occasional “poke”.  Oh, the innuendoes were not lost on her.  Desperate often?   
Some of the more aggressive girls she monitored more closely.  Looking at their pages, their friends.  She had mentally placed labels on them.  “Hussy”, “flirt”, “fake”, “what was he thinking” and “for reals?”  Fortunately none of the girls stayed around for long, she assumed this was their norm.  What with their persistent “liking” and smiley face comments and the dozens of bathroom photos. How many photos of yourself in a bathroom mirror do you really need?  She especially despised the photoshopped photos that made their eyes unnatural colors.  Who has purple eyes she often wondered?  Seriously! How could he even entertain the thought of having a meaningful relationship with someone with such terrible grammar, spelling and a penchant for saying things like “OMG, I totally LUV these shoes…. They are only $300!!!  I think I’ll get a pair in fuchsia too!”  Babbling geese!
She meticulously scanned her own photos to be sure she looked acceptable.    Deleting any photos that portrayed any hint of bad hair, weird eyes or chubby arms.  She chastised friends who tagged her in unflattering poses.  Yes… I had a great time, but hanging out eating cookie dough and watching movies in my fuzzy socks does not need to be announced to the Facebook world. Even her game avatars were well dressed and groomed to perfection.  Online appearances are so very important these days.
For weeks she watched.  Waiting for the perfect moment.  If she was going to make a move, her timing had to be perfect.  Her response, ideal.  Casual and interesting.  It had to be well thought out, but have the appearance of quick wit and charm.  Oh man!  Even just thinking about it made her break into a sweat! Would he respond? Would he remember why they were friends?  The hard part was already over…. They were already friends. But part of the trouble with admiring from afar was waiting in the shadows. He had over 1000 friends… she was but one of them.  But she couldn’t allow herself to worry about that now.  She had to remain focused. Like a soldier on the battlefield or a properly trained boy scout.  Ready at all times. 
And then, one day… it was there. Perfect. The Babbling geese were not online – probably out shoe shopping. His post was casual, innocent even.  “Who wants to catch me for the new movie tonight?” 
This was it.  The time had come.  It was now or never.  It had to be quick, prompt and the precise response.  She wrote her comment.  Rewrote it a dozen times, and almost hit the “x”.  Could she really go thru with this?  All the months of planning, waiting, watching.  Like an Olympic athlete at the pinnacle of his performance…. The time was now.  Well, here goes nothing… just her whole life. 
She hit send.  Immediately she regretted it… could she take it back? Oh… why had she been so foolish? Think… why didn’t Zuckerberg put a cancel button here?!?  Stupid Zuckerberg! How could he be so careless!!!  Well, if he didn’t respond favorable, she could just say “just kidding” or blame her phone for mixing the message up.  Yes… that was a good plan. Maybe she could fray innocence.  Someone hacked her account… or she mistakenly posted to the wrong friend.  She took a deep breath and let it out slowly… slowing her pulse.  Ok.  Better to appear the victim of a faulty phone or a mean hacker than expose her true feelings.  Rejection is an ugly thing.  But, chin up.  No sense in worrying yet.  He probably hadn’t even read her comment yet.  More deep breaths.
She waited. The minutes drug out like the drive through lane at Hardees.  Staring the app on her phone.  Heart pounding.  A million thoughts running through her head. She blinked and there it was.  His response.  She closed her eyes and looked again… was that? it couldn’t be… yes.  His response was “So you like Vin Diesel too?”  No way!  Unbelievable!  Seriously? She barely contained the laughter and she couldn’t erase the goofy smile from her face.   She was such a girl!  But a happy girl!
And so began their Facebook romance.  Private chats, instant messages and gifting Farmville animals to each other.  To show her true feelings, she even joined Frontierville to help him with challenges.  They played cards, bejeweled and joked about who was better at Sudoku. (She let him think he was better – it was best for the relationship).  Late night chats and sharing funny videos became the norm.  A more perfect romance was not possible.
Oh sure, they never dated in the “traditional” sense.  Movies, dinner, bowling… those were boring habits of the past.  She was happy.  He was happy.  They IM’d about their happiness. 
Then it happened.  She had dared not dream of it, but it happened.  A sign of true love.  Only a select few ever reached this point.  He changed his Facebook status to “in a relationship”.  This was definitely true love.  With the click of a mouse her wildest dreams came true.  Facebook love.  She instantly and secretly began planning their Frontierville family.  
To be continued….

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heavy breathing.... now you know where it began... kids Halloween masks

Long, long ago, in a town far, far away, your friendly neighborhood blogger was a little girl.  And a cute one at that! 
One of my first memories of Halloween was about age 3 or 4 when I dressed in a cute princess costume and collected candy from the neighbors.  Way back when… the costumes were much simpler.  My princess costume was a blue plastic “dress”, complete with a full hard-plastic mask with eye and nose holes and a small mouth hole (which I cut my tongue on because it was waaaay too tempting to poke my tongue through).  The mask rested completely over my face and was attached with an elastic cord that was too tight.  Always… too tight or too loose. The masks were not good.  You couldn’t see thru it, when you exhaled it fogged up the inside and made your face sticky, and sounded like a big heavy-breathing monster was following you.  So why not send the little kiddies out in the dark, further obstruct their vision and breathing.  Oh… and let’s dress them in some kindling and send them to the home of strangers where they can stumble onto porches filled with open flames to beg for candy. So the question here is really … did our parents realize this or did they just not care?  Best not to poke that sleeping monster now…

On a side note, I find it mildly greatly disturbing that in order to find this example, I had to Google “vintage” Halloween mask. Vintage… seriously? 
I was led around the neighborhood where I collected a lot of candy.  (told you I was cute).  Mrs. Stevenson (not her real name…. I’m protecting her identity.  No, it’s not that I can’t remember her name… ok, yes it is) was known for her flavored popcorn balls. Because she was friends with my grandparents, she always gave me two popcorn balls AND a full-sized candy bar.  See, this narcissistic behavior is not all my fault.  Ok, yes it is. 
There was nothing better than going out with pre-teen friends trying to be “big” kids, braving the haunted house.  There were never enough street lights to take care of all those shadows.  For someone with a very vivid imagination…. It was both terrifying and thrilling to run around our small town on the most terrifying night ever.
As I grew older, my Halloween fun morphed from candy collecting to other, less savory behavior.  Because our town’s teenagers were known for their “fun” pranks, our high school clubs sold Halloween Insurance to local businesses to raise money –genius idea, really.  For minimal cashola, any shenanigans that occurred to a business’ storefront on All Hallows Eve was promptly cleaned up early the next day by very tired and grumpy band geeks.  So clearly it was our duty to use soap, shaving cream, and toilet paper and toss eggs and raw biscuits (don’t ask) all in the name of fundraising.  Gotta support the team! 
Consequently I have very fond memories of Halloween which I have tried to pass on to my girls… sans the vandalism.   (Turns out I did NOT do a good job with one daughter in that department, more on that in a later post). The Hubs does not share my love of zombie, werewolf, or vampire nor does he appreciate the pure magic of tossing an egg at someone so this job is all mine.  And I take the Halloween learnin’ very seriously. 
We carve very cool pumpkins at my house – no boring jack-o-lantern faces will do.  We make caramel apples, roast pumpkin seeds and I’ve decorated my garage in black trash bags for a dozen young basketball girls.  The light on the garage motor is still green to this day. 
I have purchased more fake spider webs, mums and pumpkins than you can imagine.  But I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.  So fast forward to 2011. 
Yesterday, I had the rare occurrence of having all three girls with me AND I had some free time. If you have teens, you understand just how rare this is.  Stinker had been asking for her Halloween costume for like a year now, so I stopped into one of those temporary Halloween stores.  You know the ones that take over the old Blockbuster for the month of October.  As I’m pulling into the store, I’m telling the girlies how fun Halloween was and the appropriate way to toss a raw biscuit.  (They only rolled their eyes a little). 
So I was quite shocked when I walked into the store.  Halloween is definitely different.  Maybe it was because I’m feeling old nostalgic that I hadn’t notice this transformation before.  The fun, non-flame retardant costumes of the olden days (shut up, I’m not THAT old… ok, yes I am) have been replaced by freak-me-out scary costumes, life-size figures that talk and move, and hussy girl costumes.  Exactly how do you make a fairy princess costume for a 6 year old horribly inappropriate?  …. Ah yes.  Fish net stockings.
Now don’t get me wrong.  This gal loves her some zombies and scary stuff…. But these were even a bit much for me.  There was an entire isle – like a long isle - of severed hands.  How many severed hands does one need? 
Yes.  As if clowns weren't creep enough... now there are zombie clown babies!  Kramer would be so  freaked right now!!!

He's blurry because he was moving.... probably trying to kill me in the store!

Yes.  Creepy zombie baby is eating his foot.

Ok.  Aside from the fact that someone would actually buy the exorcist doll.... where would one store this gal in the off-season?  Seriously... would she sit in the corner of the garage?  eeeekkkk!!!!

Send me comments on here or on the book of Face about your favorite Halloween memories.  What disturbs you about the new fangled Halloween?  You know I like attention… send me comments dang it! Which reminds me.... go and like my Facebook page. (or I'll sic creepy foot eatin' zombie baby on you!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yes. Yes it is another post on my hatred of running, thank you VERY much!

Disclaimer: This conversation may or may not have actually occurred in the manner it is presented... or not.  You should not attempt to recreate the conversations displayed in this blog, or you too may find yourself in a padded room. 
Disclaimer #2 (wow… two in one post…. Fancy!)  This conversation that may or may not have occurred was several months ago.  I was feeling all over achieve-ey one night and wrote several posts.  Today however, I’m feeling a bit tired and fussy …. So I decided to be lazy. The current state of my work out routine is… shall we say… non-existent.  However, between the guilt, tiredness and tight jeans, I will be starting it up again in a week or so.  I will keep you informed of my impending torture exercise routine as it seems to continue to be great entertainment to those around me.
Simon Pegg in the movie Run Fat Boy, Run!.  "I'm not fat... I'm just unfit!"

You may wonder why I choose to write again on my fancy schmancey walking routine that I call running.  Well, here’s the deal.  I really don’t like running.  Exercise, really.  I know it’s important to do, and I like the results. But the truth is, I can’t find anything about huffing, puffing, sweating and almost puking that is fun.  The only solace I find in exercise is making fun of it and myself.  Sorry if that’s boring, but no one said the truth had to be fun.
After a recent torture exercise session the hubs and I had the following conversation (or not):
Me: My knee is hurting.
Hubs: Let me see….(He pokes around on said knee and sizes it up to the other knee.) Yea, it’s just tendonitis.
Me: Tendonitis?  Will my leg fall off?
Hubs: No, your leg won’t fall off.  Don’t over react.
Me: Who me? Over-react… never!!!  So about this flesh-eating disease.  How long do I have?
Hubs: It’s just tendonitis.  It’s painful, but it’s really not that bad.
Me: But my knee really hurts.  Are you certain it isn’t gonna fall off?
Hubs: Positive.  (HE’s positive… uh… right.  I’m ALMOST a Dr. … or at least could play one on tv… except for that whole acting thing – which is crazy because I got mad doctor and actin’ skillz, yo!)
Me: Hmm …so you don’t think I have gout? What about leprosy?  Rabies?
Hubs: Nope, no, and really, rabies?
Me: So my running career isn’t over?
Hubs: Nope. 
Me: (Dangit!) ok, what about meds? Can I get good meds with it? Maybe some high powered muscle relaxer or morphine? 
Hubs: No.  And no one needs to see you on morphine.
Me: Oh yea… I don’t do well on that do I?  (Recalling morphine incident of 2000.  Lots of puking, not fun.)
Hubs: You will be fine.  Maybe rest it for a day or two.
Me: So no running for a few days? 
Hubs: Sure.  Yea. Whatever.  (clearly bored with this conversation – what with the baseball game on and allNo, honey, don’t worry about me.  I’ll just hobble over to the corner and curl up in a ball and die.  Never mind that I gave you three beautiful children… which is why I have to run to begin with!).
Me: Pretending to be sad.  Well, ok… if I must rest, I must.
Later that evening, my youngest (10) comes into the room, and I have ice on my knee.
*Pickle: What’s wrong with your knee mom?
Me: It’s gout… It’s really bad.  And my running career is over.  (pretending to be sad).
Pickle: What’s gout?
Me: Go ask Dad.
From the other room…. A deep groan. 
Again, I would petition you to pray for my poor husband.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Someday these kids will be big enough to realize just how messed up I’ve made them, so at least they will have animosity anonymity on their side.