Tag Archives: kids

October Column Michiana House & Home Magazine: A Scary Good Time

Haunted House        It arrived in the mailbox every October like clockwork: the monthly newsletter from my bank’s “Kid’s Club” bearing a coupon for one free admission to the local haunted house. If there was ever a time I wished my letter carrier would lose my address, this was it. Unfortunately for me, he never did.

Now, I don’t want to imply that I was a chicken or anything, but I’ve never understood the entertainment value in being scared. I’m not a fan of things popping up in front of me, creeping up behind me, or going bump in the night. Why would I subject myself to this kind of thing on purpose?

It was bad enough that I slept with a night-light until I was a teenager, but I also possessed a rather vivid imagination that got the best of me at times. One night I saw the shadow of a stray cat with its back arched slink by the ledge of my bedroom window and thinking it was a kidnapper or severed head, my screams woke up the entire household and quite frankly I’ve never been the same.

Naturally, the idea of going to a place designed to freak me out held no appeal for me and I was quick to hide the newsletter in my desk before my mother could spot it and start planning a family outing.

Needless to say my older brother did not share my opinion of haunted houses and actually looked forward to this event every year, if for no other reason than to watch me squirm. I glared at him as he showed his coupon to our mother the night we received them.

“Oh look, it’s a free coupon to the Haunted House,” she announced as she cooked dinner. “We should go. Julie, did you get one as well?”

I thought about lying, but the smirk on my brother’s face told me he would rat me out if I did. Instead, I tried another tactic. “Yeah, I did but I think I am too old for haunted houses. You guys go ahead and I’ll stay home,” I told her. Did I mention I was all of eight-years-old at the time?

“Oh no, we should do this together,” she gushed. “I’ll talk to daddy and maybe we can go this weekend. It’ll be fun.”

There was no point in arguing. This was the same woman who bought a novelty album full of frightening noises to play on Halloween night. For added effect, she turned off all of the lights, fired up a few candles and greeted trick-or-treaters at the door wearing a witch’s costume. Like it or not, I would be dragged kicking and screaming to a place that would give me nightmares for a week.

To this day I avoid haunted houses. To me, a house should represent safety and protection from the outside world. It shouldn’t be the enemy and if the ghosts and goblins have laid claim to a structure, I’m certainly not going to fight them for it.

Happy Halloween!




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August Column Michiana House & Home Magazine: Neighborhood kids-the unofficial Real Estate Experts

If you are planning to purchase a new-to-you abode in the near future, then you know there are certain things you have to do: Find a reputable agent or broker, scroll through the MLS listings on your favorite website, employ the services of a qualified home inspector when you have found the place of your dreams, and make friends with the neighborhood kids.

Kids            Yes, you read that last part correctly – make friends with the neighborhood kids. Trust me on this; kids have a relationship with Real Estate grown-ups just don’t understand. Courthouse documents, walkthroughs and professional assessments will only get you so far but these are the people who have the skinny on every property on the block so why not benefit from their experience and expertise?

Even if they have never lived at your particular residence, chances are they have spent a lot of time there and probably know it like the back of their hand. They have seen it at its best, worse and every stage in between. They overhear every conversation, bear witness to every event and they think nothing of telling you everything they know about the place. They know which toilet handle requires a jiggle in order to insure a proper flush and what appliances tend to go on the fritz. They can tell you all about the day the septic tank exploded turning the side yard into a swamp, can point out which windows are the easiest to sneak in and out of and can show you a very simple way of getting into your back door without the necessity of a bothersome key. (You may want to call a locksmith after learning this last piece of information.)

As folks who have been in your house hundreds of times in the past, it does not occur to neighborhood kids to censor their comments or sugar coat the truth. In fact, they see it as their sacred duty to acquaint you with your new home and neighborhood even if that means telling you how much you overpaid for the place, that you are going to need a new roof next spring or that their dad hopes you’ll mow the grass more frequently than the previous owner did.

Although their names may not be on the title and they may not make the mortgage payment each month make no mistake; neighborhood kids are heavily invested in the place you plan to call home. They created memories there, memories that are not transferrable at closing and do not disappear with the moving van. So when they want to show you how Mrs. So-and-So organized her cabinets to maximize available space or point out the best spots to stake out during a game of indoor hide-and-seek, remember they have a vested interest in the place as well and sharing their knowledge is their way of staying connected.

Besides, give them 30 minutes, and you will probably find out the secrets behind every square inch of your new place…along with a few things you’ll wish you hadn’t heard.

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April MHH Column: Sizing up the truth

Me and Gleek    It happened right under my nose and yet, I failed to recognize the signs until the realization hit me one day as I stood in my laundry room holding an unfamiliar item of clothing and wondering to whom it belonged. Based on the style, I knew it wasn’t mine, which left only a few possibilities including an obvious one that I didn’t want to consider. After checking the size and gingerly fingering the fabric for a minute a strange sinking feeling came over me that I could not deny any longer. Gently, I folded the garment and laid it atop a nearby pile trying to ignore the sting of tears that threatened my eye sockets and burned the back of my nose.

The shirt belonged to my youngest son who somehow, without my knowledge or permission had grown up and was nearly the size of his father.

Now lest you think I am a sentimental idiot, I am well-aware that the boy has been taller than me since he was 12, sports the occasional stray hair on his chin and talks in a much deeper voice than he used to, but he is also the same person who still scatters Lego parts from the attic to the basement, sleeps with a beloved stuffed animal and leaves a sticky residue on every household surface that he touches. Technically I could have a toilet training toddler around here rather than an 18-year-old-soon-to-be-college student. So forgive me for feeling as if I have been lulled into a false sense of security.

So how did this happen without my knowing about it? It seemed that everything was fine when he was wearing those cute little cartoon briefs but changed when he graduated into those solid colored boxers that grew exponentially over the years and suddenly started landing in my husband’s dresser drawer.

“These aren’t mine,” he declared, handing me a stack of Hanes apparel, a Doctor Who shirt and several pairs of socks I’d long since gave up trying to match to their appropriate owner. “Can’t you tell the difference between my clothes and his?”

“Well of course I can,” I lied. Though in my defense, they both love Doctor Who, I hate folding underwear and seriously once a guy reaches a size 10 Nike, who can tell the difference anymore. Grab a pair of socks and move on!

Still, holding that gray shirt that somehow looked different to me when my son was wearing it, it was clear I had missed something and I instantly regretted every time I dreamed of being an empty nester, told him to grow up or act his age. How dare he follow my advice like that! Just for a moment, I wish I could travel through time like his favorite TV character in order to dress him in Garanimals rather than the Gap, fill out his preschool registration rather than the FAFSA or decorate the nursery of my baby once more instead of the dorm room of a man.




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