Category Archives: Family

How to have the perfect apple picking experience

The sky is a perfect cerulean blue, there is a hint of chilliness in the air and if you listen hard enough you can almost hear the screeching death wail of summer. It’s finally time. Time to go apple picking! Because you promised yourself you would give the kids less stuff and more experiences. Which you didn’t actually mean but then made the mistake of mentioning it to them after your second glass of wine last night and they have NOT forgotten. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is get an early start. Because everyone else has also decided today is the perfect day for apple picking. And no, it doesn’t matter what day you pick. It’s always that day. 

Of course, this means gently herding everyone out of the house. And when that fails three times, screaming at everyone to hurry the hell up and get into the goddamn van. Which they will absolutely do after three trips to the bathroom, a meltdown over a weird sock bump and a fruitless argument about how many stuffies everyone is allowed to bring (in theory none, in practice three each). 

Now, no family-friendly fun-filled trip to the apple orchard is complete without a scenic drive down some picturesque roads. Try to remember this beauty and wholesome moment together as you finally arrive and immediately get into the Parental Parking Lot Fight. Because the driveway is right there. Right THER…well, you passed it. No, that’s the exit. Turn LEFT! Right THERE. See the sign! No, to the LEFT. Not that parking lot, it clearly says birthday party parking, the OTHER one. 

Don’t worry though. Any lingering anger over parking (and then getting out and then getting back in and parking again because you were wrong, it WAS the birthday party parking lot you were supposed to go to, not that you’ll ever admit you were wrong, the signs are stupid and confusing), will eventually dissipate when you head to the cashier and the Sticker Shock sets in. Because it IS that much. And no, it doesn’t include that. Or that. Those are separate tickets. 

But hey, you made it! It’s important to note here that the first ten minutes of apple picking is the Actual Genuine Fun Window. Savor this. Even when something in a hay bale bites your butt, ignore it because the kids are literally full of joy right now and running around in nature, squealing with delight in the fresh air. It’s downright magical. This is the time to take 600 almost identical photos. 

Soon however, you’ll notice how hot it is. It’s really hot. Stupid hot. Because every year you think September will feel like fall but it never does. Why did you wear a sweater? And why is this orchard so big? Oh, and look, somehow your youngest pulled off an entire branch of an apple tree even though she is the size of a pixie and you could yeet her over to the pear tree section if so inclined. And you don’t even know where your other kid is. 

This is when you’ll remember you saw a hard cider tent on the brochure. 

In total, there will be no less than five sibling fights, three tantrums and one dramatic storming off (before said stormer realizes there is nowhere to storm off to in this godforsaken Land of Endless Apples). Feel free to get creative with your hissed threats. As in “I swear to god if you little gobshites don’t knock it off we will sell you to the farmer and he will use you as scarecrows.” And don’t worry if anyone else hears you. They will be too busy threatening their own kids. 

After lugging a gigantic bag of apples around (one bushel being the equivalent of 780 apples) there is nothing you’ll want to do more than rest and have a hard cider. Which is why next on your agenda is going through the mazes! All three of them! None of which are anywhere close to you or close to each other.  

The first maze will take forever, which is why when you end up coming out the entrance you accept victory because at one point you did have a fairly legitimate fear you would die in there. 

Luckily the second maze is kids-only. Make sure to stand in the hot sun next to the super chill parents that use phrases like “it’s such luxury garbage” so that you and your partner can bond over how much you hate these other parents while you wait. 

Time for an apple cider donut break! Which you’ll awkwardly eat standing up on exhausted legs after standing in a 20 minute line because one of the kids saw a bee over by the picnic tables and refuses to get within ten feet of them now. But the good news is the hard cider tent is also nowhere near the apple cider donut stand. 

After fighting over caramel apples (because you are NOT getting back in that line) and pulling the youngest out of the goat pen that she somehow managed to get inside of, you will be ready to pack it up and call it a day. Once you find your other kid. 

Oop, but you forgot about the third maze and you PROMISED. And yes, the third maze is in the complete opposite direction of the parking lot. On the plus side, you will be only the second loudest arguing family in the maze, the first being the one led by Nate, as in “Dammit Nate, how do you keep finding every single dead end!?” If you make it out alive, you’ll hope to befriend these people who are just as miserable as you. 

It goes without saying but the hard cider tent is also not inside this maze. 

Finally it’s time to head home. After buying two gigantic pumpkins PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE that you’ll have to lug all the away across the parking lot because you just don’t have any fight left in you. 

As you drive away, you will finally see the hard cider tent. You give it a sad little wave and head off into the sunset, on your way back home where you will look up apple pie recipes that you never actually intend to make. 

So, how was school today?

Well, the first week of school is officially over. And what an amazing week it was!

I think.

I actually have no idea what is going on, because small humans are awful at communicating (albeit very good at communicating awfully loudly). So far, this is the information I’ve managed to glean from our chaotic post-school conversations:

No one noticed the first grader’s very new, very super cool LOL doll-thing snack bag. 

Third grader: Zombies!

OR HER NEW LIGHT UP SHOES!

Third grader: Zombie blood! 

Someone did mention her dress pockets though.

Lunch on Wednesdays is pizza. Duh. Everyone knows that. 

First grader is pissed they haven’t learned science yet. 

I did not pack them nearly enough snacks. 

So many more graphic details about zombies for some reason. Random reference to Minecraft. 

THEY’RE STARVING. 

First grader got a lollipop from someone. She thinks their name might be Fuchsia. 

Third grader’s teacher’s name is pronounced Frlskjfkshfkjsh (98 percent sure this is incorrect).

First grader LOVES her teacher. Teachers. First grader has three teachers this year ??? One is Mrs. Theolien. One has blonde hair. One is *indecipherable murmuring*

Zombie blood coming out of all kinds of eyeballs! And butts! And penises! 

First grader can take out TWO library books this year. 

I bought the wrong cartoon-shaped graham crackers. 

Apparently all zombie content is related to playground game and/or unsanctioned LARPing during class time. Or video game ???

Third grader can TOO wear a hat all day in the building, MOM.

Yasmin has better snacks. 

ON CHICKEN PATTY DAY THIRD GRADER DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO EAT ENTIRE CHICKEN PATTY. THIS WAS NOT OK. 

There are anywhere from two to five third grade teachers. They all wear glasses. One is a man. Although he might teach fourth grade. 

Once again, the first grader did not do any science experiments involving goggles and dangerous chemicals that go BOOM. 

Third grader may have illegally drawn a few new pages in his comic book during class time but the POINT IS he didn’t get caught. 

Comic book is about zombies. 

Wait, maybe Fuchsia isn’t her name. It might be Sparkle Shine. 

Third grader has a locker! His very own! 

First grader is devastated that she has a mere cubby. 

Third grader’s locker doesn’t have an actual lock, if that makes her feel better. 

It weirdly does. 

Can first grader spend the night at Lollipop Girl’s house, whose name is definitely Jessamalyn, this weekend? Or maybe her name is Fuchsia? Yeah, definitely Fuchsia. PLEASE?

Third grader’s socks felt weird but he didn’t have a tantrum because he was at school. Also he is going to be a zombie for Halloween. 

MOM! PERIWINKLE IS MY BEST FRIEND! WHY CAN’T I SPEND THE NIGHT AT HER HOUSE?

There’s no place like home alone

So…here we are.

Hey. 

Hi, I guess. 

Sorry. This just feels so awkward. It’s been so long since we’ve been…alone. As I’m sure you’ve heard (or actually not heard by the silence that has blissfully descended), the family is gone. Off visiting the in-laws. It’s just you and me, house. 

You and me for an entire week. 

I know, I can’t quite believe it either. You can thank the airlines and their ridiculous ticket prices. 

Wow, I can’t even remember the last time it was simply us. It’s been, what, years? Between having small children and then the pandemic with all its remote work and school. You look good, by the way. Although you’ve changed a bit. Though I suppose I have too. We both look older. And after the pregnancies, we both have things that were never put back the way they were. We definitely both creak and groan more. Now if only I could pass mine off as “it’s just my body settling,” eh?

Again, I apologize. I tend to make bad jokes when I’m nervous (and also pretty much during every other emotion, but I digress). 

This is silly though. Back in the day, we spent plenty of time alone together. You’ve seen me naked, for god’s sake. Like A LOT. And you’re still the only one who knows about the weird thing I do in the shower. 

Speaking of bathrooms, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that whenever I go in there it will still be in the same state I left it in. No towels on the floor. No giant mystery mounds of toothpaste in the sink that everyone SWEARS they didn’t do. And, oh my god, this week all pee will actually end up in the toilet where it’s supposed to be! 

We’re LIVING THE DREAM, dear house. 

So, what should we do? Do we reenact “Home Alone” or “Risky Business” first? Or eat? On the couch? While binge watching all the old “Sex in the City” episodes so I can say “wow, this has not held up well” every seven minutes? Or NAP! Oooo…should we nap? Just a nice little 14-hour nap? Or maybe light a bunch of candles and write all my very deep emo thoughts in a journal, straight up college style?

Even better, I could work on the truly terrible first draft of my novel without stopping mid-sentence to scream “turn off the kitchen light!” or “stop murdering each other, you’ll get blood on the floor!” 

Or…do you want to maybe get a bit naughty? Perhaps break open a bottle of wine, turn on some music and FINALLY go through the kids’ toy boxes? We can actually throw crap away! Without tiny humans wailing their keening songs on your floor. (And maybe then I’ll stop having that nightmare where I die under an avalanche of dismembered Mr. Potato Head body parts and what I hope are chocolate-stained stuffies). 

Or, even naughtier, let’s order an irresponsible amount of Chinese food even though we have a fridge full of healthy groceries and spend two hours complaining to my mom on the phone about my ungrateful children. Oof, I got goosebumps just thinking about that one. 

Man, I tell you what, house, I am so happy right now. 

Oh, don’t look at me like that. It’s not like I don’t love my family. They are the best thing that has ever happened to me. Truly. 

The best thing that happens day after day after day after middle of the night after before dawn after day to me. 

I can’t wait to miss them.

Geez, why is mom so angry?

A Poem

Stop

Please stop 

I said stop it

Oh, come on!

Why would you do that?

No

Knock it off

Are you listening to me?

Why? 

Get that out of your mouth

I’ve asked you three times

You need to apologize 

Are you listening? 

No. 

Seriously, WHY? 

Not there!

No, you go get it

That’s why we don’t do that

No! 

WHY?

Do NOT talk to me like that

Go get a towel please

What were you thinking? 

Absolutely not

Don’t make me say it again

Gross 

Stop!

What did I just say? 

Nope

NOOOOOOOOOO

Did you hear me?

STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP

Do that again and you’re grounded until you die

Yes, I am a big meanie

Go to bed

Did. You. Hear. What. I. Said?

Please

Seriously

Come on

I feel like you’re not listening

GO TO BED

I used to be fun, you know. 

One more time or so help me…

Yes, I love you too 

GET YOUR LITTLE ASS TO BED BEFORE I…

Welcome to summer school, kiddos

Well friends, we almost made it. Just a few more days left of school! Who is ready for summer!?

Summer school, that is! Yay! Oh yes, I know you kids were looking forward to a carefree summer full of sun and fun but learning never stops. Especially when you will be home for the next three months, wreaking havoc on my home and sanity. So welcome to Mama’s Summer School for Wayward (and Slightly Feral) Children! Get ready for exciting learning opportunities, such as: 

Are These Socks Dirty or Clean? A Symposium On Hampers

When Pants Attack! A Lecture Series On When Pants Are Optional & When They Are Mandatory

This Is Called A Dishwasher 

Proper Aluminum Foil Application On Leftovers

There Is Pee All Over The Floor: Who Should Do Something About It (YOU!) & When (IMMEDIATELY!)

Nutrition 101: If You Were Really Hungry, You’d Eat The Apple I Already Offered

Nutrition 102: No, You Cannot Have Another Snack

The Planet Is Boiling Alive & You Have Irish Peasant DNA: Sunscreen Basics For Genetic RedHeads

This Is Called A Broom 

Wet Towel Math: How To Calculate How Many More Times I Need To Yell At You To Pick Up Your Wet Towel Before You Are Grounded

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream About Screen Time: A Seminar On How To Earn Back Your Tablet

And later this summer, we’re going to take some refresher courses before you head back to actual school, such as:

Why We Don’t Wait Until The Second-To-Last Day Of School To Tell Mom About All The Missing Library Books

Where Is Your Snack Bag From Last Year: Fun With Hazardous Materials

You Need How Many Cupcakes!? When!? Son Of A…: School Fundraiser FUNdamentals 

Curse Words Belong In The Home, Not In The Classroom

Please Learn To Tie Your Shoes, People Are Going To Start Judging Me

What I really want for Mother’s Day

What I really want for Mother’s Day:

A standing ovation every time I put all the laundry away. And while we’re at it, roses thrown at my feet every time I clean the bathroom. Which you then scurry about and pick up so I don’t have to.

Acknowledgement in the form of a shiny trophy or perhaps a gift card to the snooty fancy wine shop for being the Carrier of the Mental and Emotional Load for the family. Complete with a heartfelt speech about how stoically I carry this burden and ask for nothing in return. 

A legally binding contract, signed and notarized, that any and all sibling fights from henceforth shall occur out of my direct eyesight and earshot. 

Gasps of wonderment on a regular basis at my mastery of taking ordinary ingredients from the kitchen and transforming them into a meal, NAY! a feast! every. single. day. A feast where every dish is overflowing with love (and butter) no matter how meager the contents of my fridge. I want you so in awe at this otherworldly power of mine that you are tempted to point at me and shout “WITCH!” because how could anyone take something as simple and common as a potato and turn it into a towering mound of pure comforting flavor using merely heat (and butter) if they weren’t the bride of Satan? 

For you to bend the knee like I am Khaleesi, Mother of Ungrateful Dragons. I want you to cower in awe at my ability to rip apart my own body so that you could be freed from the captivity of the womb. I want you to gaze in reverence at my tireless efforts to then help you gain independence even though you curse me and call me a she-devil, and marvel at my self control in continuing to rule benignly and not fall into the easy trap of tyranny because you refuse to brush your teeth every morning. 

And then! Then I want you to straighten the knee so I can pull these godforsaken ballet tights up because putting on ballet tights is a life skill you refuse to learn. 

Piggybacking on that former request, I would also like a dragon. 

Or three. 

And a fur-lined cape. 

And lastly, the ability to summon from my very cells, from my very core, the pure, staggering, unconditional love I feel for you until I am so overwhelmed by the power of this deep affection that I transform into a fearsome goddess-like entity, with eyes ablaze and lightning crackling between my fingertips. And I will rise into the air, a terrifying and beautiful manifestation of pure maternal being, and in a reverberant voice I will declare “BEHOLD!” as I place my hands upon your brow so that you, for a brief moment, can see yourself as I see you. As the most perfect creature to ever grace this plane of existence despite your inability to ever pick up your socks and put them in the hamper.

What I will actually get for Mother’s Day:

A breakfast at 6:30 a.m. consisting of PopTarts and a questionable looking banana, two homemade cards with adorably misspelled words, and a macaroni necklace held together by glue that is still wet. 

What I will say:

I love it. It’s just what I wanted. 

What I will mean: 

I love it. It’s just what I wanted. 

Welcome to Family Fight Night!

Hello everybody! And welcome to what is bound to be another epic Family Fight Night! We’re your announcers for the evening, Stan Boomvoice and Tucker McThundercords. 

It’s going to be hard to top last night’s bout, with its triple battle royale over the bathroom light, the Nintendo Switch AND Mom’s meatloaf, Tucker. 

It is indeed, Stan. Oh! And speak of a certain devil, here she comes, ‘ol El Diablo herself, aka The Cleaner, aka The Diva of Devastation, aka The Salty Witch with a Wine Glass. Trust us, you don’t want to mess with this mama. She’s coming out strong from the kitchen, carrying what appears to be…is that…a homemade casserole, Stan?

I believe it is, Tucker. You can definitely smell what she’s cooking. Gutsy move, that’s a gutsy move. Especially in light of her big finish last night, The Maternal Flex. I mean throwing the entire dinner into the trash can after everyone complained! I tell ya, Tucker, no one saw that coming! At this point one has to wonder if she’s simply just taunting her family with these meals made from scratch when they clearly prefer Burger King every single time. 

I’m inclined to agree, Stan. Oh-ho, and what do we have here? Looks like it’s Daddy, straight from the bathroom, aka The Pillar, aka The Keyboard Smasher, aka the Zoom of Doom. Standing tall at 6’2” and weighing in at a respectable post-pandemic weight of 180, he is every inch the mild-mannered father at the moment but when he whips out his famous Dad Voice Stunner, look out! 

Wait, wait, wait! Do you hear that? Sounds like the Second Grader Crusader, aka Doomfist, aka The Silent Fart Assassin, is making quite the stomping entrance from his room, fresh off a punishment for unsanctioned brawling with his sister before dinner. Look at his face, Tucker. You can tell he’s just itching for a fight tonight. If there is one thing The Crusader believes in, it’s extreme fairness and something in his expression makes me think he feels he’s been wronged. 

And from the corner, literally, it’s the Kindergarten Killer, aka the Cutthroat Cutie, aka Princess Black Heart. Don’t let the abundance of pink and glitter fool you, folks. She’s mini but mighty. That’s not the pitter patter of little feet you’re hearing. That’s the thump of war drums. 

And we’re off! The Crusader is coming out strong with his patented Fairness Doctrine, which is deflected easily by Mom. You know she had to be expecting this, Tucker. I talked with her before dinner about her strategy for tonight and she said, in no uncertain terms, “Who the hell are you? Get out of my kitchen!”

Those are strong words, Stan. Strong words from a strong lady. Oh! But The Crusader isn’t done yet. He’s gearing up for the Guilt Powerbomb, accusing her of not even caring about him! I can’t believe he went there!

Looks like Princess Black Heart is seeing an opportunity and might be hoping for a tag team here, Tucker. Despite the fact that she was also disciplined for her part in the earlier melee, she’s pulling out The Unexpected Apology followed by Siding With Mom! Talk about gutsy. She must get it from her mama, oh my! What do you think Mom will do next, Tucker? 

She’s in a tricky position alright, Stan. Even just being perceived as using the illegal Playing Favorites move can bring her down and bring her down quick. …Oh! But what’s this? I can’t believe it! The Crusader just executed the perfect Subtle Elbow right into his sister’s ribs! Oof, that’s gotta hurt! 

But he wasn’t quick enough, Tucker! Looks like Daddy saw and is now entering the ring. And he is NOT happy. 

No he is not, Stan. He only uses the What Did You Just Do Repeater on rare occasions. And it’s clear Princess Black Heart knows her role here, playing up her apparently extensive injuries to the audience. 

Wow, they are really going at it! The Crusader with the Moral Outrage and The Pillar with the Moral High Ground. Do you think Mom will step in here, Tucker?

She’s on her second glass of wine, it’s not looking good, Stan. 

Looks like Dad is getting ready to throw the hammer down with the Reality Check…except wait…what’s this? OH! The Crusader, out of nowhere, with the Tattle Tale! Princess Black Heart has been stealing flowers from the neighbor’s garden to make a witches brew in a hidden bucket full of water under her bed. Which is where the weird smell permeating through the entire house is coming from! Oh, I tell ya, Tucker, now the Diva of Devastation is paying attention!

I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! Princess Black Heart, in a desperate move, is pulling out the ‘ol Play the Parents Off Each Other Hail Mary. OH! It’s a high risk move, but one with high rewards if she can pull it off, Stan. …BUT NO! NO! It backfired spectacularly! Oh, the humanity! 

And it looks like Mom and Dad are gonna tag team it for the final blows of the night, Just Desserts Means No Dessert followed by the crushingly effective Brush Your Teeth, It’s BedTime!  

Wow! I mean wow. What a fight, Stan! What a fight. Truly a bout for the ages. 

At least until tomorrow night, Tucker!

Right you are, Stan. Right you are. Goodnight everybody! 

What I learned on my kids’ school vacation

Hey! Hi! 

Hey, guess what? Did you know that my kids had this entire week off school? Yeah! ‘Cause we live in New England where someone at some point inexplicably thought it’d be a great idea to send all the children back to their parents during February, the coldest and most miserable time of the year. 

Oh! And hey guys! Did you know that my youngest also got sick this week? Which meant we couldn’t leave the house. But that’s OK. It gave us time to learn lots of new things! Like, did you guys know that ancient Egypt is in Africa and they have mummies and they pulled the mummy’s brain out through their nose? 

Through their nose! 

And did you know that kitties are the cutest animals? Followed by puppies followed by unicorns, no WAIT, followed by baby unicorns followed by unicorns followed by baby foxes. 

Oh! And um, did you know the difference between mummies and zombies is that zombies are of right NOW and mummies are from long ago. Also mummies don’t eat brains. 

King Tut is from Egypt. Bet you didn’t know that. You know what else is cool? Ancient Greece. The Parenthesis is in ancient Greece. 

Oh, and hey, um…did you know…uh, did you…know…that, um, oh no, I forgot! YOU GUYS MADE ME FORGET! This is all your fault! This is the worst vacation EV…oh wait, I remember. Hey, um, do you guys think unicorns are real? Because they are. My daughter saw one one time. 

Also, it is too called the Parenthesis! It was in a book my son read so it has to be true. 

Oh, and hey! Guess what! My daughter’s one classmate never listens to the teacher and sometimes makes poor choices but that doesn’t make them a bad kid they just get in trouble sometimes and one time my daughter was on the swing and they wanted the swing so they pushed her out of the swing and she got a boo-boo but you can’t see it anymore but it was a big boo-boo, like really big, and Wednesday is pizza day and her reading buddy’s name is Tristan. 

Anyone want to hear a real quick fast fact? Dinosaurs did not live in ancient Greece. 

Also, dinosaurs are cool. But not as cool as baby unicorns. Everyone knows that. It’s literally a FACT. 

Oh! And here is something I learned that my kids didn’t teach me. Did you know a buttload is a real thing? Yeah, it’s a now obsolete but once very real measurement of weight that equaled about 384 gallons. Cool, huh? 

OK, well, I’m off to go drink a buttload of wine right now! Bye!  

Everyone should learn a foreign language

2022 Family Performance Review

First off, let me begin by thanking you all for making time in your busy schedules to attend this Family Meeting. I know that since the acquisition of the Nintendo Switch last quarter, many of us have been swamped with Mario Kart and the subsequent onslaught of Mario Kart trash talking.

However, with a new year upon us, I thought it would be a good time for the four of us to sit down and assess, as a family, how we’re doing. Especially as we enter, let’s see… *checks clipboard* …yup, year three of this godforsaken pandemic. 

Now, we’ve pushed this off for far too long, so to help keep us on track, I will be using this free employee performance review template I found online. I think we can all agree we don’t want this meeting to devolve into the Good Winners & Losers Discussion/Tater Tot Dodgeball Disaster of 2020. 

Alright, let’s see, let’s see. How about we start with something easy? Ah, here we are…

Attendance. Well, pffft. I mean, I think it’s fair to say we’ve all excelled at that. What with all the remote schooling you two did last year, and Daddy working from home since…forever? With his office just RIGHT HERE in the living room. Always typing. And talking with his ZOOM VOICE. When are you going back to the office again, sweetie? Not until spring now? Ah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, it’s a good thing that constantly being around each other in a somehow eternally shrinking house makes the heart grow fonder then. 

Okey-dokey, moving on…

Demonstration of core values: Hmm. Do we have core values as a family? Honesty? Meh, I suppose. Cheese? Is that a core value? We did expand to two cheese drawers in the fridge last year. One for fancy cheese and one for peasant cheese. That counts, right? 

Communicates clearly: Oh, well, overall I’d say we’ve done pretty well with this one. We are definitely loud. In fact, it’s hard not to hear all the communicating, as our neighbors have informed us many, many times. …What’s that? Ah, yeah, I suppose I could growl less at you. It just gets the point across so effectively, you know? Can I at least hiss? Yes, you can hiss back. 

Requires minimum supervision: Nope. Fail. You all fail. Moving on. 

Responsiveness in a timely manner: FAIL. Moving on. …Oh, you disagree? Really? Remember when I asked you to clean all the comic books out from under your bed? Three months ago? MOVING. ON. 

Works to full potential: Ugh. Who has the time? Next…

Problem solving: This one I feel we actually did pretty decently. We fixed the off-balance dishwasher with the sugar canister and those two menus from Pini’s. The duct tape is holding up the towel rack quite nicely and you can hardly notice the big hole in the ceiling since we glued that piece of cardboard up there. 

Takes initiative: I’d like to give a special shoutout to our kindergartner on this one. She definitely took the lead in demonstrating that you can both figuratively AND literally climb the walls if you have a wanton disregard for any and all household items. AND that swinging from the chandelier is not just a fun expression for having a good time. Yes, you’re still grounded. 

Deals with conflict: I’ll be honest, we could all use less swords in this area. And Nerf crossbows. Speaking of which, how did we amass so many crossbows? Eighteen seems a bit excessive. 

Listens and shows respect toward fellow group members: Again, this is an area that could use significantly fewer weapons.

Suggested areas of improvement: All? Probably starting with pants. We should definitely be wearing them. Oh, and how about screen time? I’m told there should be limits. And our eating habits could use some tweaking. You guys call cherry tomatoes those gross red grapes. Well, yes, I agree, they are super gross but the point is to at least make the effort. I mean, haha, we can’t always behave like we’re living through a pandemic. 

What’s that? The numbers are going up? Oh, record high numbers, in fact. Everything is in danger of shutting down again? Hospitals overflowing because of the Omicron variant? Wait, what? Now there is talk of a fused “deltacron” strain?

Ah. 

Well.

BIG CURSE WORD.

No, you can’t repeat that. 

Alright everyone. Pants back off. Who wants a brick of cheese for dinner? Brick of cheese? Brick of cheese? Maybe with a side of box o’ wine for mama? Of course we can play Mario Kart while we eat. I look forward to crushing all you losers. But first, has anyone seen my sword?