Saturday, April 29, 2006

Seth's essay

Here's what Seth wrote for the essay contest. He's had a long hard road, and has come very far.

I had fun last summer. I went to Port Aransas, Texas with my parents and my brother. My aunt, uncle and cousins were already there. We had a good time on the beach, but the most exciting thing I did last August was visit New Orleans for a week. I stayed with Uncle ___________, who is a priest while my daddy went to a conference.

During this visit, I went to the french Quarter and the River Walk. I also saw the Convention Center and the New Orleans Superdome. We visited the levies and Lake Ponchartrain. The lake is very shallow. My cousin, John, told me if the levies ever burst, and the lake overflows its banks, New Orleans will be in trouble. The next week, when we were back home, Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans. I was very sad.

One night, while we were in New Orleans, we went to "National Night Out" at my uncle's church. I made a lot of new friends while I was there. At the Riverwalk Mall, I met a man from Sicily who owned his own pizza restaurant. I am Italian, and I thought it was neat meeting someone from Sicily. One day I would like to visit Italy or Sicily.

I had fun on my vacation and learned how important life is. When I was at Cafe Dumond with my uncle, I thought, This is beautiful. I still haven't heard from some of my new friends. I may never, but I will always remember them and New Orleans.


Sunset from my porch

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The call

"Whee!" Robert yelled, rushing past me and jumping into the clothesbasket. A trail of muddy little footprints was evidence of my toddler's outside adventures. I sighed and watched tiredly as he rolled happily among the freshly washed towels I had just taken from the dryer. He looked like "Pigpen" from the Charlie Brown comics, and my once pristine white towels were dotted with flecks of mud. Well crap, there’s a load I’ll have to do over, I thought. I plucked my objecting child from the basket and was loading the towels in the washer when my phone rang for what I perceived to be the twelfth time in an hour.

On precious few days when I have little to do, the phone sits on the desk silent, like a sullen child being disciplined. "What now?" I fumed, stepping over a tantrum-throwing Robert, who was now flopping on the floor like a fish out of water.

This had better be good. I reached the phone on the fourth ring. “Hello?” I panted into the receiver. I heard background noise and the sound of heavy breathing.

“Hello!” I said louder.

“Pick me up at five today and don’t be late,” a raspy voice whispered into the phone.

“Excuse me?” The sinister voice on the other end of the line sent shockwaves of apprehension throughout my body.

“You heard me. Pick me up at five today and don’t be late.”

Apprehension turned to anger. Who the heck does this creep think he is? “Who is this?” I demanded.

“You know who this is,” the voice whispered.

“Look pervert, if you don’t tell me who you are, I’m going to find you, beat you senseless, then call the cops to find your bruised and mangled carcass.” That’s the way, Deb. Show him he can’t intimidate you.

There was a brief silence on the other end, then the sound of a loud, sometimes whiny, voice I knew so very well. “Mommy, you think I’m a pervert?”

Horrified, I realized it was the voice of my thirteen year-old. He rarely calls me on the phone, and since his voice is starting to change, he was whispering, and calling me from school, I didn’t recognize him.

“On no, baby, of course you’re not. I didn’t recognize your voice, I’m so sorry. Why were you whispering?”

“There was a cute girl around me, and I didn’t want her to know I still call you ‘Mommy’.”

Argh, already the girl problem is starting, I thought.

By the time I picked Seth up from school, the incident was forgotten, or so I thought. “Hey Daddy, guess what?” Seth asked the minute John got home. “Mommy called me a pervert today.”

Hubby eyed me quizzically. “Why did you call him that?”

“Long story,” I said, shaking my head. If you want drama, come to my house and have a seat. You’ll get all the drama you want.

Monday, April 24, 2006

On second thought. . .

In the middle of the night it hit me like a ton of bricks. There are more things I wanted to add onto the last blog post. Carefully, I peeped over at my hubby. He was surrounded by his usual mound of pillows, and snoring contentedly. Dare I turn on the computer? To carry out my mission would be self-fulfilling, but the repercussions. . .well, the repercussions would be unpleasant. A sleep-deprived hubby the next morning was definately not worth the risk. I wisely decided to wait until now to post. Here's the rest of my thoughts:

I am: fiercely independent, somewhat rebellious and stubborn; extremely loyal to my friends and family, passionate about life; too judgemental sometimes; to distrusting; want the very best for friends and family

I: believe dreams do come true, but you have to work at your goal and have faith in youself; ; put up emotional barricades if I think there's even a remote chance of being hurt; hate having my picture taken.

And now, my friends, enough about me. What about you? What do you like, hate, pet peeves, ect. . .?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

About Me

I got this from Nicole's blog.

I am: easy-going, blunt, slightly sarcastic, accident prone, mischievous, athletic, big hearted, sometimes aloof, sometimes hard to figure out

I want: to have all my manuscripts published, to be an editor

I wish: I could turn back the hands of time and right some wrongs I've done, tell deceased loved ones how I feel about them
I hate: bigots, child molestors, wife/husband/child/animal/elderly abusers, lazy people, bullies, liars, insincerity, brussel sprouts (Ha! Threw that one in one you!)

I miss: my dad, galloping across the pasture on my horse, my childhood best friend

I fear: snakes (of course), and not really much of anything else

I hear: mockingbirds sing outside, my children playing, the distant roar of cars on the roadway.

I wonder: what is in the near furture for me

I regret: stupid, moronic things I did when I was younger.

I am not: tolerant of people who try and use me.

I dance: with my children, when I'm tipsy, when I hear a song with a WONDERFUL beat.

I sing: even though my family begs me to stop and the dog howls. My vocals are lacking, but my instrumental ability is great.

I cry: not as much as I used to. Sad to say, life has hardened me, and some of my emotional scars run very deep. When I do, I cry for the death of a loved one, or if a friend is hurting.

I’m not always: as patient as I need to be. It takes a lot to trult anger me, but when it does. . .

I make with my hands: holiday gifts. homemade pasta, sauces, pasteries

I write: a little of everything

I confuse: and shock my poor dear mother with some of my crazy schemes

I need: to be more organized, sometimes think before I speak

I should: organize the laundry room

I start: sometimes what I can't finish

I finish: everything in my own time

I tag: anyone who wants to play

Friday, April 21, 2006


There were other things I was going to write about today, but I got this info and I just HAD to share it!!!!

Even as I type this, tears blur my vision and I can barely see the keys. I just got a call from the school; my oldest son, Jonathan, won the sixth grade essay contest. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but for us, it’s a huge accomplishment.

You see, almost thirteen years ago, my son almost didn’t make it into this world. After two days of my being in labor with him, Jonathan’s heart rate dropped drastically, and a C-section was performed.

In the years following, Jonathan was plagued with seizures, and it was discovered he had learning and speech delays. Various neurologists linked the delays and seizures to his difficult trip into the world.

In school, Jonathan is teased and tortured by classmates because of his delays. Still, he is a cheery little soul and endures much of it with a forgiving heart, something I sometimes lack.

There’s no need to ask if I’m proud; no book or magazine deal could top what I’m feeling right now. For once, something has gone right for my child.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Accident prone

You've probably figured out by now I'm a very accident prone person. Some days I'm lucky if I can walk across the floor and chew gum at the same time.

In my lifetime, I've been dragged and fallen on by horses, fallen down flights of stair, dislocated my shoulder playing tennis, dislocated my knee, broken my wrist riding my son's scooter, and well, the list just goes on. Sure, everybody has accidents, but how many people d you know that's been knocked out by a dog and beaten up by a toddler?

I was ten when I had the run-in with the dog. The July morning was humid, and native grasses bowed before the relentless sun, releasing a parched, slightly pleasant odor. Daddy was in the pasture, working on the hay baler, and as always, his faithful dog, Snowball, was by his side; I was riding my bike nearby.

We hadn't had rain since May of that year, and the black soil path around the barn was tightly packed and smooth, a young bicyclist's dream I remember the wind whistling in my ears as I flew down the path on my bike. Everything was I blur as I pedaled faster and faster. I had never gone so fast on a bike in my life. Then. . .it happened. To this day, I still don't know why, but for some reason, as I streaked past Daddy, the dog chose that moment to walk into my path. Horrified, I realized I was going too fast to stop. Helplessly, I ran into the side of the large dog, it was like hitting a brick wall. I remember vaulting over the handlebars, hearing the sound of my own screams, hitting the concrete-like ground, and then. . .nothing. I was enshrouded in darkness.

The next memory I had was of my daddy running to the house, carrying me in his arms. They took me to the ER, where I was treated for a concussion. That event triggered my "accidentitis."

Fast forward through all the years of joint dislocations and bruises to a year ago

Last Christmas, I was sitting on the couch watching television. Dr. Phil was on, and ironically, he was talking about out of control toddlers. Robert, my little monkey, scrambled onto the arm of the couch and stood up.

"Bonzi" he yelled, throwing himself backwards. His head and my nose connected with a sickening thwack. Pain burned through my face like a hot poker through a marshmallow, and for a brief moment, stars danced before my eyes. Only thing I cared about was my face at the moment. It felt like someone had taken a hammer and pounded it. Slowly, I opened my eyes and saw Seth staring at me, a concerned look on his face. "Does it hurt? Are you in pain?"

No, I'm just rocking back and forth and whimpering for your entertainment, I thought sarcastically. I try not to curse, and at that moment it was taking every bit of my willpower not to let a few colorful words slip. I slunk into the bathroom. Every step was torture to my face. I flipped on the light and stared into the mirror. Dark circles were beneath my eyes, and my nose was swollen. Oh great, I look like a raccoon doing an impression of Jimmy Durante.

"Anything look different about me?" I asked John when he arrived home from work.

"Yeah. How'd you break your nose? *What do you do, get into bar fights while I'm at work?" John, a former paramedic, looked at my nose and dedeuced it was a clean break; no trip to the ER was needed.

If my career in writing doesn't pan out, perhaps I should be a stuntwoman; I definately have the experience.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A confession

Okay, I'll admit it. Like I told Perpetualchocoholic, I had a brief period of insanity when I contemplated using Ritz crackers in the eggs rather than the traditional chocolate. In fact, it was a bad idea from the very beginning.

I started my Easter shopping last Thursday; in my opinion, it was a week too late. The scene in the Easter aisle of my local supermarket was chaotic, if not just plain scary. The faintest whiff of chocolate does the strangest thing to some people. Women, or what appeared to be women, eyed each other warily and snarled under their breath as they passed each other in the nearly empty chocolate aisle.

Finally, I saw what I wanted; the much coveted malted Easter eggs. With Seth in tow, and Robert clutching the sides of the shopping cart, I dodged through a sea of arms and legs before reaching my goal. Only one bag left, I gloated, reaching for it. “It’s mine!” a voice hissed in my ear. Slowly, I turned and saw the tallest woman I had ever seen in my life. Her hair stuck out, as if someone had tried to yank out by the roots. To this day, I swear her eyes blazed a fiery red, and flecks of foam dotted the corners of her mouth. I gulped, nodded, and took off down the aisle.

“I don’t need chocolate bad enough to die for it,” I told Seth.

“But what about the eggs? What will we put in the eggs?” he whined.

“I’ll think of something.” As I turned down the snack aisle, the box of dinosaur shaped Ritz crackers caught my eye. Hmm. Low fat and good for you? It will be a nice change, I thought, throwing the box into the cart.

“You’re not using those little crackers, are you?” Seth asked. I said nothing and steered the cart toward the checkout. “Oh no way! That’s lame!” he howled. All the way home, the mood was mutinous. Seth glared out the window and refused to speak.

Like I said in an earlier, my husband, driven by some unknown force, brought home the chocolate. Oh, it was tempting! The Reese’s sat round and cool in their bag, the M&Ms sat silently in theirs, both waiting for a trembling pair of feminine hands to rip open their bags and dive in.

Ummm. The first whiff of chocolate is always the best. It beckons to me as the sultry sirens beckoned to the hapless Greek sailors. Yes, I am a chocoholic, but I come by it honestly.

My mother is the guilty party. She started me on it at an early age, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This past weekend, I opened a cabinet door in the kitchen, and found several bags of chocolate candy. “What’s this?” I asked, motioning at her stash.

“Oh that,” Mama laughed, crossing her arms across her slender form. ‘That’s for whenever I feel down.”
“You must feel down quite a lot,” I quipped, eyeing the candy. Would you believe my remark didn’t score me one bag of candy? All it got me was a smirk and a playful swat on the backside.

The box of Ritz sits alone on my pantry shelf, where I’m sure it will sit for a few months before my boys become desperate and consume it too. If my candy scenario happens again next year, maybe I’ll follow the playful advice of Nankin and dip Ritz in chocolate. Maybe I can pass the dinosaurs off as super bunnies; anything is worth a try.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

You can learn something every day of your life, and this week I re-visted the lesson of taking nothing for granted. Last weekend, my "larger than life", perfectly healthy great-uncle passed away of a heart attack. I've tried to put on a brave face, but it's been so hard. His passing has ripped off the scabs off emotional wounds, leaving me vunerable to the barrage of emotions running through me. He was my dad's uncle, and had a personality like Dad's. He never met a stranger, and always a warm comforting hug and a word of encouragement for those who needed it.

These past several years Uncle ________ has always been there for me. Little did I know he would stay up at night worrying about me when I was a deputy.

I spoke with him a few months ago, and told him of my new career in writing. Before we hung up, he said, "I'm proud of you girl, and I love you." Those were some of the last words he spoke to me. If I had only known this would be the last time I would have talked with him, I would have taken the time to say how grateful I was to him for everything, to say how much I adored him. I didn't. I thought I had time. Time is fleeting, and is both a blessing and a curse. We are blessed for the time we spend with loved ones, and cursed with the lack of it when they're gone.

I am doing fine. I miss Uncle ___________, but one thing keeps me focused. He wouldn't want me to sit and grieve all the time, he'd want me to live life; to enjoy the time I have left.

Don't stop reading. . .changing the subject
I hope you had a wonderful and memorable Easter! Did you eat a lot of chocolate? Of course I did!

I thought I was going to be soooooooo good this year. I bought those tiny Ritz crackers to stuff in the eggs this year instead of candy. I was so proud of myself. Then. . .evil indulgence poked its head in the door in the form of my hubby. He brought home M&Ms and Reeses' Pieces. Traitor! I thought.

Reese's Pieces are my weakness. I'd probably body slam ET for his bag of Reese's. The bag of Reese's John brought home just happened to develope a tear in the sack, and a few pastel colored pieces just happened to fall into my hand. You see, it was all just an accident, and it would be a shame to leav the candy scattered where someone could stump their toe and fall over them. Yeah right; who would be walking on my table anyway. Yet another excuse to indulge.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

cRaZy NiGhT

The dawn of a new day has finally arrived, and I sit here in my wooden office chair, clutching my coffee cup as if it were a sacred goblet. Almost mechanically, I raise the cup to my lips, savoring every drop of its precious contents. I look out the window and see my dog, Blue, frolicking merrily in the yard. He has a habit of dragging things into the yard; last time it was a shovel from the garage, this time it’s my shoes. I really wouldn’t be surprised if that crazy dog found a body and dragged it into the yard, I thought.

That would be a hard one to explain to the police. Oh no, officer. My dog really did find the body and dragged it up here, honest. During my time as a deputy, I wouldn’t believe that crazy excuse, and neither would these officers.

Before I could say “Sopranos”, I would be cuffed, put in the patrol car, and whisked off to the county jail. My neighbors would stare after the departing car, shake their heads and say, “We always knew it would happen. She finally went crackers and whacked someone.”

As usual, I digress. I know I should go outside and discipline the dog, but it takes energy, and energy is something I don’t have. It was a rough night. The toddler woke up around three in the morning, shrieking with gas pains, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Seth brought an uninvited guest home from school yesterday, and that was keeping him up; the guest was a virus. The poor boy spent most of the night in the bathroom making friends with the toilet.

The toddler was still gasy, gained energy, and refused to go back to sleep. There’s really very little to do in the wee hours of the morn, so I entertained him by playing “Super Smash Brothers” on Nintendo. He’s still too young to play, but he enjoys seeing the Pikachu, Mario and Luigi characters. Later on, he lost interest, and wanted to watch, of all things, the news.

I was so exhausted; every time I closed my eyes, I saw the pink, gum blob shaped, Kirby character flapping his tiny arms, struggling to break the targets. Either that’s a sign of sleep deprivation, or I’m subconsciously yearning to become a gum blob shaped character in a video game.

The house is quiet now, and my precious angels are getting the rest they need. I'm off to seek the refuge of my comfy bed before I yanked out of dreamland by the calls of "Mommy, can I. . ."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ninty-nine. . .One Hundred!

This will be my 100th post. Before I race around the house, throw confetti, and dance on my kitchen table, the more practical side of me takes over, and instead I sit at the keyboard and sedately sip on a glass of iced sweet tea. There is no fanfare, but for me, this is an accomplishment.

Years ago, I would rather be tied to a stake, honey poured over me, and killer bees siced on me than to write in a journal. Can you actually 'sic' a bee on someone? I digress. When it came to writing about myself, I dug my heels in and balked like a stubborn young filly. In high school during my junior year, I drove my poor English teacher crazy. My English class met in the school theater, and my English teacher was also my drama teacher. Every day, at the beginning of class, it was part of our assignment to write in our personal journal. I was horrified at the idea of my teacher reading my posts, and formed, what I thought, was a wonderful solution.

I was busted from the very beginning. My teacher called me to her desk after the first journal entry. "Debbie, you can't write about a fictional character," she said.

"But you always say 'the minute we walk through the theater doors, we are to become someone else,'" I said, smiling, and staring her with big innocent eyes.

"That applies only to drama," she said, a tense smile plastered on her face. She looked like she was yearning for a good stiff drink

"Oh, thanks for clearing that up." My plan thwarted, I grudingly wrote every day in the journal. Soon I found myself looking forward to writing in it. I vented my frustrations, and my teacher offered solutions in red ink penned neatly in the margins.

Blogger was another story. Do I actually want to put my life out there? Why not! I have enjoyed posting, reading your comments, and reading your blogs. Here's hoping for another 100!


This is so me! What's your sign?

Your Personality Profile

You are funky, outdoorsy, and down to earth.
While you may not be a total hippie...
You're definitely one of the most free spirited people around.

You are very impulsive - every day is a new adventure.
However, you do put some thought behind all your actions.
Still, you do tend to shock and offend people from time to time!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Move over Martha

The last few days I have had a creative urge in the kitchen, I wish I could say the same thing about a story I'm working on. In that aspect, I have mental constipation, otherwise known as "writer's block." I'm so close to finishing the darn story I can smell it, and it's driving me nuts. Anyway, I digress.

I never really told you all what I wrapped John's brownies in, did I? It was a white plastic diaper wipe box. I washed it out twice, then dried and disinfected it. I left the labels on, and lined the inside of the box with wax paper. I gently stacked the brownies inside the box. Needless to say, I was very pleased with myself; it looked like a normal box of wipes. The next morning, I handed the box to John and said. "When you get older, you revert back to a second childhood. Here's something to get you started."

"Very cute," John said, smirking and throwing the box on the bed. "You can use them on the baby."

It was all I could do to keep from exploding with laughter. "You better look inside. You might want to take that last comment back."

John yawned and reached for the box. The expression on his face was priceless; his face lit up when he saw the brownies.

My creative spurt continued yesterday when I decided, out of the blue to make homemade pasta. Why not? I reasoned. I make the pasta sauces homemade. I have the pasta machine--crank style--but there's still A LOT of things you have to do before the dough is ready to go in the machine. The prep work to the dough is exhausting, and my muscles in my arms are sore today.

I was excited with the final result; two wooden dowels were filled with pasta. The pasta has to dry several hours, that's why it's draped over dowels or pasta drying racks. Tired but happy, I called my mom on the phone to gloat over my success. "That's nice, but I'd rather buy mine already made," she quipped.

Party pooper, I pouted. At the beginning of the week, I thought I might be able to give Martha Stewart a run for her money; but since the pasta making, I have a whole new respect for her.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My hometown's plight

I apologize in advance if I offend anyone.

As the final strains of “Country Road” by John Denver fade into non-existence, I drift once again into memories of my childhood. Again, I’m laying in the backseat of my mother’s Chevrolet Impala on a hot summer day and singing the song at the top of my lungs as she turns the car onto the gravel road leading to my house. Despite the air conditioning being on full blast, the relentless Texas sun is beating through the back window, making my hair stick to the back of my neck in dark sweaty ringlets

Finally, we are passing the oak trees lining both sides of the road. They stretch giant limbs high above the roadway, their leaves intertwining and forming a canopy; a haven from the heat. I sit up and lean forward, putting my face close to Mama’s as we belt out the song together.

This is one of my fondest childhood memories. The countryside in which I grew up will always be my home; the place where adventure lurked around every corner for me as a child. It now offers inner strength to me as an adult, and reminds me of “who I am” and “where I come from.”. As I walk across the well-beaten paths I’ve trod upon so many times, I’m reminded of lessons taught to me by my parents and grandparents. The countryside, beautiful and almost unspoiled, is a reminder that true beauty still exists; that is, however, about to change.

During the next several years, they will be building a 10 mile wide “superhighway” through the state of Texas. Sure it sounds great, and the developers paint a pretty picture in their speil, but they fail to point out the consequences of their goal. People’s land in the path of the highway will be seized by the way of iminate domain. In other words, the contractors will offer the landowners “rock bottom” prices for their land, if they refuse, the state takes possession, and the landowner gets nothing. Houses that have been around for a hundred years or more will be destroyed if they are in the path of the highway. In the path of this highway is a 100+ year old Czech church and cemetery. The cemetery contains bodies supposedly buried there before shortly after Texas achieved statehood. “What will be the outcome of the church and cemetery?” one person asked. The reply was grim, the historic church would be torn down and the bodies moved to another location.

This highway is coming through my hometown, and quite possibly through my mother’s property. One contractor, smirking, assured her they would tear her house down if it comes through her property. The house where I grew up, where my father lived. My mother called me tonight, and sobbing, told me of what she learned.

I always try and see the “sunny side” of things, but there’s not one here. I’m angry. Land my father sweated and cried over, land he once walked across as a boy and vowed he’d own, is in danger of being seized by cold unfeeling strangers. The majestic pecan and oak trees will be ripped from the earth, the scream of the red tail hawk will be replaced by the obnoxious honking of vehicles.

Part of me wishes I could bring back Caesar and his troops to assist me in my plight; or to stand on the property with a banner reading “Come and take it.” But then again, violence never solved anything, and “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

The contractors, dressed in high dollar suits, brag about the “thousands of people the superhighway will help,” but they fail to mention the thousands of lives it could destroy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Coffee. . .I need coffee and lots of it; maybe a gallon or so will get me through the morning. I've been a bad girl this weekend, and it's starting to tell on me. I thrashed my son when I played against him at a video game, and I tortured my poor hubby about his birthday. My devilment began on Friday afternoon with a brownie.

I am a recovering chocoholic, and sometimes a mear chocolate crumb will send me tumbling off the "bandwagon." I was baking brownies for John's birthday, and I knew from the very beginning I was in trouble. My mouth watered as I ripped open the bag and watch the silky cocoa mixure slide suggestively into the bowl.
"You don't need chocolate. Think of what the results will be," the voice of reason whispered to me.

I took a deep breath, added the eggs and oil, and stirred. The mixture shone like polished glass, and looked so fudgy and good. No one will ever know if I lick the bowl, I thought as I spooned the mixture into the baking pan. "Yeah, but my butt will," I said, rinsing out the empty bowl and putting it in the dishwater. I congratulated myself on my willpower as I popped the brownies into the oven. John is a terror to buy for, and the brownies were to be one of his presents.

After they cooled, I cut them and put them in the box I had. All were perfect except for one; a corner was broken off. "Oh, poor baby. You must be in agony. Let me put you out of your misery," I said as I popped the brownie ino my mouth. Wonderful!

I picked on John when he came home from work.

"Well, well. Someone has reached middle age today, and some of us are still in our thirties, I said, smirking. I couldn't help but razz him a little. I'm 4 1/2 years younger than he, and for years he has tormented me about the age difference.

When I talk about what I remember in the 70's, his retort is "Oh, what do you know? You were just a baby then." Snappy comebacks fly back and forth, but they're all in fun, nothing malicious.

Friday night, for John's birthday, we took him to Kobe Japanese steakhouse and suishi bar. If you've never been to one, it's an experience. I had seen the chef ignite the grill before, and tried to prepare my children for what was about to come. When the grill ignited, the flame rose several feet in the air. The heat from the flame was intense. The chef began his routine with the spatulas and my toddler yelled excitedly. I too found myself riveted to the spectacle before me..

"Wasn't the flame neat, Seth? Seth? " I turned and saw I was talking to an empty chair; Seth was across the room. He had ran away when the grill ignited. Other than that, everyone had a great time.