Tag Archives: children

Hop to It!


The day seemed normal enough for the Curtis family as they made the trek to a Saturday afternoon birthday party. The kids were tucked in the backseat of the truck as they ambled down the country road, and Shannon sat in the passenger’s seat, giving the three girls a rundown of the upcoming phone call. No one had any idea that they were moments away from a vicious attack.

“Now Uncle Rusty may not be home, but we still want to leave him a happy birthday message on his machine.”

“Don’t you think it’s funny that we’re going to a birthday party and Uncle a Rusty is having a birthday in Louisiana?”

“Umm huh,” Shannon replied as she scrolled through her contacts. “Now wait for my cue, girls, before you start singing.” She half turned in her seat. “It’s ringing.”

“What time were we supposed to be at this party?” Nathan wanted to know. “At this rate we won’t get there before . . . Whoa!” He suddenly slammed on the brakes and threw the front seat as far back as it would go. “What in the devil?!”

“What is it?” Shannon demanded as she watched her husband start a swatting frenzy. “Is it a spider?”

“My lord!” Nathan yelled as he attacked his jeans with gusto. Shannon still couldn’t see the assailant, but Nathan flailed as if he’d kicked over a hornets’ nest. The girls joined the screaming enthusiastically, and suddenly an inch long grasshopper appeared, bouncing across Nathan and ricocheting around the dashboard. It was at this moment that Uncle Rusty’s voicemail picked up.

A real killer ...

A real killer …

“Hey there, Rusty! It’s Shannon, Nathan and the girls.”

“I see him, Daddy! He’s on the gear shift!” shrieked Savannah.

“Now he’s on the window!” yelled Sadie.

“Don’t kill him! You’re going to kill him with your palm!” wailed Sydney.

“We were just calling to wish you a happy birthday!” Shannon said, holding the phone in one hand and clamping her ear to her head with the other. “The girls and I want to sing to you just as soon as we get our act together.”

“Get this bug out of here!” Nathan bellowed as he punched buttons for the windows. The grasshopper had now made it to Shannon’s side of the truck, and as soon as he landed on her collarbone, she pinned him with her free hand and prepared to return him to the wild. She would have sung “Born Free,” but they were supposed to be cueing up a different ditty at the moment. Nathan stomped on the gas right as Shannon got the prisoner’s discharge papers in order, and this unfortunate burst of air rushing past the passenger’s window caught the little hopper right as she made the toss and propelled him right through the girls’ back window in a marvelous boomerang effect.

At this point it’s just hard to describe the joy that ensued, but Shannon said she’s pretty sure Uncle Rusty’s birthday well wishes sounded like something out of a Stephen King movie. I’m picturing the one with Kathy Bates and the sledge hammer. I guess you never know when terror may strike.

Happy birthday from The King of Horror!

Happy birthday from The King of Horror!

© 2014 – Traci Carver


Egg on my Face


My family believed in celebrations because those always came with food. And while the food itself was scrumptious, the whole scenario of sitting around, catching up on each other’s week, and relaxing with a cup of coffee and a slice of key lime cake was the real draw that partnered well with holidays. But even my mom had limits on the merrymaking, and one of those involved the Easter Bunny.

This is the way we roll in my family ... and this is only a portion of the offerings

This is the way we roll in my family … and this is only a portion of the offerings

The Easter Bunny was a festive icon that was never embraced in the Carver household. Even as a child, I always knew that the chocolate covered marshmallow rabbits that crossed the door were the compliments of the Dollar General and never the bounty received from an overgrown hare capable of bipedal locomotion while carrying a wicker basket filled with plastic, green grass. Sure, he was cute, but as the product of an agrarian society, he was also a tough sell. I mean, come on. Rabbits don’t lay eggs, and if he was peddling stolen goods, then he would have needed the help of a raccoon or a fox since those were the miscreants that farmers had to chase out of the henhouse. Bunnies never did much more than sneak into a garden and work over your squash blooms before their time, and you didn’t see them laden with multicolored vegetables.

The origins of an Easter basket sans rabbits

The origins of an Easter basket sans rabbits

But I do remember one Easter egg hunt that lives on in that file I have marked “Childhood Memories.” It was the year I found the prize egg. As an eight year old, I was at the peak of my egg-scouting skills, since I was still childish enough to run without fear of being labeled “uncool,” and yet, I was also smart enough to realize that the best eggs weren’t going to be perched on the church sign out front. If you wanted any chance of landing that Holy Grail of poultry products, you had to be willing to crawl, to dig, and to elbow when the chaperones weren’t looking. And I wanted that prize egg in the worst way. The year before the kid who had landed the prize egg received a blow-up bunny that was almost as tall as I was. You could hold its paw and take walks with it or simply bring it along and recount your victory to all of your friends who stood there coveting your carbon dioxide friend. So you can imagine my feelings of triumph when I fought my way into the bowels of a behemoth Cedar tree and wrapped my little mitts around that champion’s egg. I clutched that plastic trophy, formerly packing for women’s pantyhose, and wiggled my way back out, a little scratched for the effort but reveling in my glee.

The moment was short-lived. When it came time to take the winner’s podium, I was informed that the prize was inside the egg itself. I cracked open that egg to find a lousy five dollar bill, and my dreams of the giant bunny died. My great prize was fated to slip through the slot in the top of my owl bank, and a part of me felt the injustice of dozens of scratches all for something as ignominious as money. Prize egg indeed.

So I think between the egg hunt and faulty logic behind the Easter bunny itself, my focus will have to remain on the spiritual aspects of the day. But I’ll still buy lots of discounted chocolate bunnies the day after.


© 2014 – Traci Carver

Cupcake Confessions

I'm pretty sure I shouldn't mix brands, but I was like a severely depressed person getting dressed - who cares if your shirt and pants match?

I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t mix brands, but I was like a severely depressed person getting dressed – who cares if your shirt and pants match?

“So Savannah was wondering if you’d be willing to make cupcakes for her birthday party.”

The request wasn’t surprising since I’d helped out with this very endeavor a couple of times before, but I needed to clarify something before I could commit. “Wait a minute, does she mean those horrible box cupcakes that I made the first year, or can I whip up something from scratch? I could even do a lovely Coca-Cola cake that the kids would love. It’s so moist.”

“Well . . .” Shannon replied.

“At least ask her, ok? If she really wants the kind you dump out of cardboard, I’ll do those.” And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a grand concession. It’s not that I have anything against working moms who need to cut a few corners to save time or even those parents who simply don’t want to spend even five more minutes than they have to in the kitchen. But I love to bake. And I’m a darn fine baker. I may not be able to decorate a five-tiered wedding cake or sculpt the Golden Gate Bridge out of fondant, but I can make some mean brownies and my cream cheese pound cake always draws a compliment. So when the response came back that Savannah wanted the cupcakes that I had made in the past, I sighed and wrote “cake mix” on my shopping list in deepest black.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Why not just make cupcakes from scratch and never tell? What are the chances a child would notice?” Well, if they’re anything like my teenagers, they can spot the difference between homemade and store bought the way my friend’s Doberman knows that there’s a pill hidden in a pinch of bread. And here’s the part that should peel the enamel right off your teeth: they prefer store bought until you train them. I’ll never forget the day a group of my kids turned their noses up at my peach cobbler and then cheered when a classmate brought in a plastic tray of Walmart cookies, complete with radioactive green icing. It took me a week to recover from the trauma.

So I swallowed my pride and stood in front of the Duncan Hines section of the baking aisle, throwing furtive glances over my shoulder like a shoplifter with a Rolex down her blouse. I bought something with confetti in it and tossed a can of chocolate icing into my cart that probably has a shelf life that will postdate the next nuclear detonation. At least the roaches will have something to eat.

I baked and delivered my wares and received a report a couple of days afterwards that the party was a roaring success. At least I was in St. Augustine at the time, so I had a perfectly solid alibi against baking crimes committed that day.

© 2014 – Traci Carver