The Post in which E disrespects a Founding Father

I love history. I try to learns as much as I can about the past by reading different varieties of history books. I am an avid reader and the last 6 years or so, I have been into mostly non-fiction. I feel that reading about our past, helps us understand our today. Whenever I’m reading a political biography, a former president or political figure, I am struck by how similar things are to now. As I am reading certain situations, I think, yep that is happening today. I literally could insert names and it would be a news article from today. I’ve learned that human nature doesn’t change. We go in circles. We think we are super progressive, but we are just living the same thing over and over again with different players and different means. Alexander Hamilton might not have had twitter, but you know what he spent all his time doing? Writing letters. Sometimes anonymous, sometimes signed, sometimes set up to look like it was from someone else. They would be posted in newspapers. That’s how the political storms played back and forth. Jefferson vs Hamilton writing anonymous editorials back and forth. Hamilton’s children said sometimes they wouldn’t see him for days. He was locked up in his office writing letter after letter after letter. Not just to newspapers but to friends and such. We have always needed something to do with our hands. Knitting, cards, crossword puzzles. Now it’s the phone. The phone is incredibly addicting, but my point remains the same about human nature.

I don’t limit myself to political history. I also read books about certain disasters or time periods. I am fascinated in general by history.

I try to pass this love onto my kids. My A girl might not remember the date of my birthday, but she knows probably about 80% of the presidents and all 50 states. Knowledge is power, so they say.

The nice thing about living in PA is that there are so many historical places to visit. In the last year in a half we’ve been to Gettysburg, Mt Vernon, Philadelphia, DC and more.

When we are touring through different places I try to educate A as we go and tell her facts about the different places. I am always happy to see what she has learned and it’s fun to see her take an interest in history as well. It being one of her favorite subjects at school now. Second to Art.

When we were in Philadelphia about a year ago, we were trying to visit the US mint. We all really wanted to see it. We had already visited the firefighter museum, and liberty bell, and independence hall. When we got to the mint, unfortunately it was temporarily closed until further notice.

We started to walk back to the main historical square. Walking back we took a different road than we came. We saw a pretty church and connected to it was a cemetery. A and I read on the plaque that this is where Benjamin Franklin was buried. There was a group crowded around his grave on the other side of the iron gate and a tour guide was talking to them about Ben Franklin. If you have ever been to his grave, you know the tradition of people throwing pennies on it. I don’t really know why. I did hear that it cracked the old grave from all the pennies, and they had to replace it. But I didn’t hear why they did it, because as he was explaining it, I noticed some of the tourists eyes in the group looking down in my direction, sort of by my feet. I looked down to see what they were looking at, and I saw my son, E, stealing as many pennies off the grave as he could get. His little arm sticking through, stealing them, putting them on the ground by his feet and repeat. I was horrified. I pride myself on making sure that my kids behave in important situations and if they don’t, removing them. With the fence, I didn’t think that we had anything to worry about about so I wan’t as attentive.

I grabbed his hand away apologizing quietly to the group so I did not interrupt the tour. I tried to put as many pennies back on the grave without making too many noises or cracking it again, because that was the last thing I needed right then.

Eric and I exchanged a look of mutual embarrassment. Like in, didn’t see that one coming, E stealing from Ben Franklins grave that is. I asked Eric if we could go in the cemetery to get a closer look, but sadly, he told me that you had to pay to get in. Not one to be deterred by honesty and already taken to thievery, E let go of Erics hand and took off running into the cemetery at lightening pace. I ran after him as fast as I could. He started running toward the group gathered around B. Franklins grave and I started to run faster. I grabbed him right before he got to the pennies again, thankfully. But as I was running, I heard the tour guide say, now lets have a moment of silence for Mr. Franklin in honor of all that he has done for the great city of Philadelphia. When I grabbed E’s arm to get him out of the cemetery, he started shrieking at the top of his lungs. E clearly did not respect B Franklin or his contributions to the city. Eric had to help me with him because he was very angry, so the two of us had to haul him out while the tour group did their best to ignore this disrespectful, unpatriotic family of four.

I am sure our disrespect and thievery was the topic of many dinner tables that night. Luckily they did not know that we are from Harrisburg. A and I decided that as citizens of the capital city of PA, it is our duty to be good examples to all the other cities in PA. We definitely were not doing our job that day.

Next time we go to Philadelphia as a family, we will be better.


Bars of Soap

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. Sometimes we refer to it as self induced poverty because the reason for it was my dad getting a PhD. He went to Ohio State, excuse me, The Ohio State University. You know they trademarked the, THE right? Anyway, he did his undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, and he did his masters and PhD at THE Ohio State University.

School is expensive in itself. Student loans, books, but also in the loss of wages. No job. We made do and as a small child I was none the wiser. Because of our self induced poverty, SIP, small things that I take for granted now, and my kids definitely take for granted, I thought were the most amazing things in the world. One example, getting a Happy Meal. This was back in the day when McDonalds Happy Meal Toys were legit. The toys were well made and you could play with them for a forever. Happy Meals in daily life were extremely rare. It could be a reward after getting your shots for school. Maybe for your birthday. The only time we could get them in excess was a road trip. On road trips, we were able to stop at McDonalds several times. Collecting variations in the current toy collection they were featuring. Our favorite toy series was the Barbie dolls. My uncle called them pin head Barbie’s because their heads were so small. There were a few variations. There were also cabbage patch dolls that were fun. Same size as the barbies and had yarn hair.

If we ever got a duplicate on one of these road trips, my mom would go up to the counter and trade it out for a different one. This was also the era when McDonalds had cookie boxes. That is a story for another time though.

Candy bars were also something special. My mom did 2 week grocery shopping. We stocked up and when we were out of something we waited until the next shopping trip. She had the meal planning and snack planning down to an art. If I went with my Mom on the 2 week shopping trip and helped her, which I usually did because as the 2nd out of 4 kid I wanted the alone time, I usually could convince her to get me a candy bar. This was the only time I really got candy. I remember that they were .25 cents. 4 for a dollar. When they went up to .33 3 for a dollar a few years later, we were outraged. Who do they think they are, charging 3 for a dollar for a Hersheys Bar? Oh if only I had known what lay ahead.

The ultimate luxury was a hotel. When I was younger and we were moving cross country, we had to break our trip down into several days. We stayed at Motel 6 at night time and it was the very definition of luxury to me. Whenever I would see those signs, I would get so excited for what was in store for me. At this point it was just three kids. My older sister, myself, and then our third sister who was just a year old. My older sister and I would go into the hotel room and marvel at the beauty. The tightly made beds. The clean vacuumed floors. The TV’s with cable which included the coveted Disney channel. Cable was expensive back then and at home we were limited to just a few basic channels. Best of all out of all the luxuries were the soaps. Not soap operas. Like literal bars of soap. The soaps with the waxy paper wrapping. The soaps that were so fancy that they had the Motel 6 logo actually imprinted into the soap. My older sister and I ended up with a few soaps each at then end of the trip. We would save them and smell them ultimately, while being so careful with them as not to break them. We never used them and I’m sure they’re sitting somewhere in a box of our childhood things in storage.

Life can be good, whether you have a lot or not. There is always something to look forward to, whether it’s the latest McDonald’s Barbie toy, a bar of soap, or maybe if you had more money, a new bike.

I don’t think I have stayed in a Motel 6 in over 30 years, but when I pass them, I can almost smell the soap in the air as I drive by. The memory forever in tact in my mind.

The Legend of Estes Park

There was a story that my uncle used to tell my cousins and I growing up. It was a horror story. Excuse me, it was THE horror story. This story included everything that nightmares are made of.

This story was usually told in Estes Park. You see Estes Park was also the location of this story.

We stayed at a cabin there in the summer sometimes. At night when we were about to go to bed, the story would start.

It was often told when we kids were cuddled up in bed, brave, obviously because we were together. The story included a flashlight on my uncles face with the lights out and usually ended in one of our legs being snatched or grabbed at. Or the flashlight battery “running” out. There were a few times that this story was told closer to the actual location of the story. An old abandoned cabin. The scene of the crime. Or part of it. The last act anyway.

This story starts like all stories do, on a dark cold stormy night. There was an engineer working on some machinery after hours at a factory. The company that he worked for was all about safety and the first rule was, never be alone while working on the equipment. The story is fuzzy after all these years, but I believe the equipment may have required two people. One to press the emergency shut off if needed. This man was of course above the rules, and was working alone that night. The machine that he was working on was a special kind of press that compressed things into cubes. Unfortunately for this man, he got stuck into the machine. Being dragged in and his head being pressed into a cube.

When they found him the next morning, he was alive, but unfortunately had a cube for a head. He was terrifying to look at- they screamed as they saw what was left of his features. One big gaping hole where his mouth used to be. The company knew that this could not get out. And this man was too terrifying to look at, so they devised a plan. They found an old abandoned cabin and chained him to the top floor. If you enter the cabin and listen very carefully, you can hear the chain dragging on the floor upstairs. This was how Cubie came to be.

This story was best told on the drive where we had to pass by his cabin. My uncle would start the story a mile or two away from the cabin and we knew what was coming. We were terrified but also exhilarated with the fear of it all. He would start slowly and calmly, like any old story, but as the story progressed, so did his voice. His timing was impecccable really because we would end up right in front of Cubies Cabin right at the part where he would tell us how he was chained up on the top floor. At this time, the car would all of a sudden stop working. The headlights off. The engine killed. Screams filled the car as my aunt protested telling him to stop scaring us. In the light of the day, we would see the cabin and sometimes even go inside of it. We couldn’t see Cubie though becuase the stairs to the top floor were boarded off.

This story was the ultimate thrill. My Goosebumps books had nothing on Cubie.

When my two oldest cousins and I were early teens, we were on a camping trip for our church. We three shared the tent with three other girls. When it was late and we were telling ghost stories to freak each other out, my cousins and I pulled out our Cubie story. Telling it as masterfully as we could, we were shocked to not see them trembling in fear. They were not horrified, they were not afraid. They just started at us blankly. Maybe they went into a catatonic state based on the pure terror of it? ‘So,’ one of said ‘what did you think?’ One of the girls answered, ‘Wait… so I don’t get it it. Is his head just a cube then?’

It was in that disappointing moment that we realized not everybody is sophisticated enough to understand the true horror of Cubie. That day I learned that the world is divided into two types of people. People that understand the complexity and horror of Cubie, (my cousins and I) and the rest of the world.

Letting Go of Things


With this kind of post, there is a tendency to see it as a pity post or complaining. that is not the intent. With issues like OCD and ADHD along with others, I think transparency is very important. Part of the difficulties of being neurodiverse in these ways is feeling like you are alone. I think talking about the things that are difficult for us are important.

I love a clean house. A clean car. A clean yard. You get the picture. I really like things clean. I actually don’t mind cleaning. It helps me to destress.

Having kids in general challenges that. There is a certain level of mess in between cleanings that you just have to learn to live with or you are constantly cleaning all day, doing nothing else.

When the kids were younger, it was manageable to keep things clean. I had a system. I would clean at night time and return everything to its place. If needed, I’d pick up a little during the day. I made sure that everything had a place and then it was easy to clean up. I got a roomba and that helped with the floors.

But then E got older annd learned to get into things. He loves food, and he loves making messes. He craves the sensory aspect of smearing things. (Not just food if you catch my drift.) We lock up our cupboards. Lock up the cabinets, lock the rooms he is not in, but he still manages.

I cannot watch E every second and so I have had to learn to be okay with his messes. His trails of crumbs. His getting into my purse and tracking things out. Turning on the water. Taking things off bookshelves. It is like having a perpetual two year old but with the intelligence of an 8 year old in figuring out how to do things. He has the emotional age of 2-3 and the intelligence of an 8 year old.

He is a smart boy and sometimes when I am not looking, if I have the cabinet open to get dinner ready or something else, he will grab food coloring or crystal light packets. Something. And hide it for later. Then when I leave the room, I come back to red floors and walls. There are certain things that we stop buying, but on the other hand, there are certain things that I do want to have on hand. Crystal light helps him to drink more fluids.

We use lockboxes for keys ever since he stole my keys once and started the car and locked us out. (That’s a story for another day)

He has discovered a fondness for art and drawing. He has also discovered that his preferred medium is my walls. It’s easy to say, lock up anything that writes, but harder to do. Especially when you have a 10 year old who might leave something out for homework or forget to lock her room. Or is playing with E in her room and he grabs a marker and hides it.

I have learned that if E wants to do something he will find a way to do it. I try to then simulate the desired experience in a controlled environment. Like having E help me bake a cake, however he desires his independence and wants to do these things alone.

With the constant cleaning up after E, some things can wait till night, while others like sticky or wet things can’t, I don’t have time to do other things that need it. The car, my room, laundry, bathrooms. Some of the things I can hire a cleaning lady for, but others are more difficult.

Learning to live with this mess has been very difficult for me. In the past, cleaning is how I maintained a visage of control. It is my outlet, and it is my OCD. Without it, I don’t know how to cope.

I don’t judge other people on the cleanliness of their houses. I don’t even notice it. But mine, hugely.

I will create organization plans and schedules, how to keep on top of things. Those work for a little while. But then I get sick or am out of town, and things go downhill again, and I have to make up for it.

I wish I did not care about the cleanliness of my house. I wish I could let it go. I am trying, but old coping skills are hard to break.

With ADHD, there is a lot of all or nothing thinking. Like either it is all clean or not at all. Once my room starts to get messy, I think whatever, and then am not careful about putting things away.

I like to have time with my kids and I don’t want to pass on unhealthy habits or have A afraid to make messes, so I am learning to let things go and be okay with something level of mess.

I tell myself that there are more important things than a perfectly clean house.

So in the mean time, until I find that happy medium… Don’t judge me for dirty baseboards and messy room.

TLDR; I I hate messes but am learning to deal with them and not be a control freak.

What do you all struggle with? The hardest thing for you to let go?

A Story About Clay and Skepticism

When I was 6 years old, my older sister took a pottery class. We lived in Columbus Ohio at the time. While we did not have a lot of money, there were some community free one-time classes that we were sometimes able to attend. Because we did not have a lot of money, this kind of thing was more of a special experience.

My sister brought a home a bowl from the class. What interested me about this bowl was that it air dried. I had seen videos on PBS about making things out of clay and putting them into the kiln. This was something I had never heard of! I made things out of play-doh but those never dried into anything tangible like a bowl. She told me about her class and explained the clay to me and how it was already dry but what would harden up even more.

Everything that my older sister did was interesting to me. I envied most activities got to do and toys that she got as gifts. This was no exception.

I was in awe. It became an obsession. I watched it in continuous astonishment throughout the day. Most of my brain believed her, but there was a small piece that thought maybe she was mistaken. Or perhaps the teacher was mistaken.

How could something like play-doh turn into a usable object.

I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head. I would play a little bit and then come back to this bowl. I’d touch it softly when no one was looking to see how far along we were on the process.

When you are a child, time goes on forever. This story may have spanned a few days, but because I was younger, I don’t remember exactly the timeline.

What’s important is that I just didn’t think it was hardening and I was beginning to think that one of us had been duped in this situation. I even felt a little bad for my sister. Poor, naive, going into this pottery class so excited to make her masterpiece. The teacher was an art major, but of course as a child, we always know better than anyone else. It was definitely a possibility that she was wrong.

After being warned off of touching it a dozen or so times, over the span of a few days maybe, I lay in bed at night thinking about the bowl. I wanted to believe in this magic, but my belief was fading.

My sister and I had bunk beds. I was on the bottom. She was on the top. I was pretty sure I could sneak out after she was done reading to check on the bowl. I needed to do it on my own without people telling me to stop touching it or to get away from it.

Our bedroom was upstairs right by the staircase. The bowl was downstairs on the dining room table just off of the staircase a bit. I checked on the top bunk to see if my sister was asleep. She was. In the hallway, I listened carefully for my parents. Were they still awake? Not hearing anything, I made my way downstairs. I checked on the bowl again. Finally in peace assessing the masterpiece. Again I was disappointed.

Since no one was around, I decided to test its strength. Pretty sure they would thank me for this later. I picked the bowl up off of the table and raised it high above my head. With force I threw it down on the ground. It made a huge breaking sound because turns out it was dry.

My parents and my sister came down to see what was going on. They looked at me standing guilty by the table and the bowl broken in pieces all over the floor. My sister was devastated. She already saw me as the obnoxious little sister and let me tell you, this did not help things at all.

My parents were so confused. What in the world? Why did you wake up in the middle of the night to come and break your sisters bowl? I didn’t know really how to explain it except with the truth. I wanted to see if it was dry. I don’t remember the rest of what happened. I am sure I was duly punished, but there was no replacing my sisters bowl.

Whenever I complain about my sister being mean to me as a child, this story inevitably comes up along with a few others. But, I can’t blame her. It was pretty weird of me.


Later in life, I was diagnosed with OCD and incidents like this made a lot more sense.