Evil Joy Speaks

Spawning the next generation of evil genius, one misadventure at a time

Category: Active Life (page 2 of 5)

I'm Baaccckkkk….

It’s been too long. Way too long.

Life has a funny way of … being life. Winter is my favorite time of year and frequently my busiest. Who am I kidding?  Life is just busy and it’s awesome.

We drove to Colorado between Christmas and New Years. It was amazing. I’ve never done a full blog post about the snowboarding trips we’ve taken. The time is coming.

January has come and gone. I turned 40. I LOVE IT!

February has arrived and tomorrow I get my birthday gift. Dr. Evil and I are taking off to ride (snowboard) without the spawn. And we’re FLYING – not driving – FLYING. (Please recall I’m the cheapest woman around so this is a huge luxury!) My awesome folks are here to watch the kids and make sure people eat food other than GoldFish and frozen pizza. (I stocked the freezer with chicken pot pie, chicken noodle soup, cod, egg bake, and a few other goodies.)

I’ll be back. I’m finding my mojo again and I’ve missed blogging. I’ve been writing a lot but not all I write is for public consumption – at least not yet.

If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to you can find proof of my hi-jinx on Instagram and Facebook. Check it out! (Just click on the blue words and you’ll head to my Instagram and/or Facebook pages.)

I appreciate you sticking around! The Best Is Yet To Come.

EJ out – to wash the clothes I need to pack.

Tis the Season 

It’s time. Friday our local place opens.
Tis the season indeed.

A weekend in pictures. 




Be A Good Fan. 

Just because you’re a die hard supporter of a sports team doesn’t mean you get to be an asshat to the fans of the opposing team.

While at a university football game Saturday I was so excited to be sporting my college gear and ready to go cheer on some amazing football. I love college football.

Within the first two minutes in the gate I heard the first comment that made me cringe. The opposing team was heavily out numbered and the words being slung at them were gross. Then another interaction occurred. Then another. I was embarrassed to be wearing my colors.  A fellow fan saw my face and simply said, “People should not be allowed to drink all day and then allowed in public.”

I am game for friendly banter. All in good spirit. Especially since we as fans are NOT the ones playing the game. We are not the ones juggling a college football career with a college academic load while learning to navigate the world away from home.

I love supporting my team. I love supporting both teams. It’s just a cool experience to come together with nearly 75,000 other people to watch athletes compete in an amazing venue.

I do not enjoy or support people being mean. Or taking pleasure in stirring the pot. A debate is one thing. Even a heated debate. But the level of asshatery I witnessed was impressive. It made me anxious.

And then I was in the receiving end. I sat next to a fan from the visiting team. I was “recruited” to cheer with them since I happily stated I was supporting both teams. I was pretty excited!

A lot of cheering went on. The vibe was amazing. It was positive cheering for the winning team.

The visiting fan did not take the cheering well. He took it personally. And then proceeded to cheer not for his team but against the home team. He was a complete jerk to be around.

Equal asshatery was displayed by fans from both sides. Way to go adults. So glad we are teaching our younger generations how to play nice.

Be a good fan. Support your team. Welcome visitors. Support the ATHLETES.

Disclosure. I am technically an alumni of BOTH schools. I definitely cheered a little harder for one but clapped for both each and every play!!! Either way “my” team won. Winner winner chicken dinner.





Raising a Man

My son left today for a month. 26 days to be exact.

26 days.

It’s not the first time he’s been away from home. Every year since he was 9 he’s spent about a week away at camp. He spent 10 days this summer being a counselor at a camp he was invited to attend last year. He was invited back to be a counselor this summer. It’s a nice feather in his cap and definitely college resume worthy.

He left for those 10 days in June. It was hard but he’d been gone for 7 days straight before. It wasn’t much longer and I consoled myself with my lower grocery bill for those days. While he was gone he sent me a text or 23. As the end of his stay approached he sent me one and ended it with, “I love you Mom.” I immediately texted him back and told him I loved him too and appreciated him telling me. I was over the moon touched by his words via text message.

He was home for 10 days before he left again today. I let him get away with a lot of computer time knowing he was going to be gone for so long. He quickly did the chores I asked and never complained. That was new. He always did the chores I asked, not as quickly as I’d have liked, and often with the normal teenage angst. Eldest came home from those 10 days after being a counselor at National Youth Leadership Training slightly older and more worldly.

We went camping this weekend. We dry camped with the RV on a friend’s lake front property. Jet skis, tubing, fishing, and swimming filled the days with campfires and smores taking over the evenings. Eldest was a good sport about camping the last two nights before his next adventure – more so than I expected him to be. He engaged and had a blast with his friends and even entertained and helped his little sisters on the water.

Today dawned and I knew we only had a few more hours before he left. Dr. Evil and I decided Dr. Evil and Eldest would make the trip to Tomahawk while I kept the girls at the lake. We were only a bit south of camp and it was a straight shot north to drop him off. About 11:30 Eldest got off the jet ski and started to prep for his 12pm departure.

I admit it. I hovered. I hovered and asked what I could do to help. “Need anything to eat? Want me to fold that? Need a dry towel for your camp bag? Don’t forget your trunks are drying on the chair!” He tolerated and even seemed to appreciate it all.

I snuck a card into his pack. He opened the pack and saw it and asked what it was. I just smiled through the beginning of tears. He said, “I didn’t see anything. I’m sure there’s something I’ll find later.” I laughed and started gathering the last of his things.

I was tearing up. More than I expected. Way more than I expected. I kept my sunglasses on hoping to hide but a stray tear got me and Dr. Evil noticed. I told him I was sad even though I was so excited for the opportunities Eldest was going to have. Then Eldest noticed.

“Please stop crying Mom. You’re going to make me start crying.”

That. Did. Me. In.  I was surprised he was affected as much as I was. I’m not sure when I forgot he’s still a kid. He is on his way to being a man but he’s just barely 15. And I’ll take every second of him still being a kid. We’ll be friends when he’s much older because right now my job is to be mom. But these rare glimpses into what our future relationship may be are amazing.

I pulled myself together, demanded two more hugs, and sent him on his merry way. I dried up my tears and went to play with the girls and enjoy the last hours on the lake.

I can’t wait to see him. IMG_8111

Chaos Fuels My Creativity

“How do you write best? What’s your ideal situation?”

Well…let’s see. Right now the Women’s US Soccer Team is playing on the big television in the living room with three children in front of it commenting loudly on each and every play. I’m standing in the kitchen with my back to the island. On the island the mixer is going to make home made pasta. Directly in front of me the Sound Freak is blasting “Pool Mashup : Just the Way You Are” by the Barden Bellas. Two more kids are helping Dr. Evil with the pasta. Three kids just asked if they could go the trampoline. Dogs are barking. My neighbor just popped over to claim a kid or two. I’m looking up a strawberry bread recipe because I promised Littlest we would make banana bread but Dr. Evil and Eldest ate all the bananas.




Littlest helps Dr. Evil


Neighbor kiddo helps Dr. Evil

And I sit – or rather stand – here and type a blog post.

Some days the disorder that is my life makes me want to rip all my hair out. Today…it’s fuel for my soul. It may be bedlam – but it’s chaos we’re blessed with and I’m going to embrace the hell out it.

“The Magic in Me” is playing now and I feel like these children, dogs, and all the noises around me are magic. After a crappy day where more things went wrong than went right I welcome this loud, loving, insanity inducing mess.

Right now in this moment, this is my ideal. Other days I’m fortunate enough to go sit at a local coffee shop, listen to some instrumental, jazz, or whatever music suits my fancy, and pound away on my laptop. Sometimes I sit in bed and type away while Dr. Evil watches something on the television, occasionally with the backs of his eyelids. Other times I’m in my car waiting to pick up or drop off a kid. On rare occasions I sit at my kitchen table and concentrate. I send my loving family outside (READ : anywhere but where I am) and accomplish great feats (in my mind).

I want to be a lot of things and blogger is at the top of my list. Today being a blogger means writing this in the middle of my life as it happens.

Yes, that is a retainer on the counter. Gross.

Yes, that is a retainer on the counter. Gross. And some sad sunflowers. And a house knick knack thing from Switzerland. And my diet coke with Heizenberg staring me down..

I’ll take it.

How do you do what you best?

EJ out – to jump with the Littles and chop some strawberries.

How to NOT Rock Summer

In the upper Midwest summer means a lot of 80 degree days and a few scorchers. Regardless it means sunscreen. And I use a lot of sunscreen.

Evidently expired sunscreen.

I applied the lovely spray lotion sunscreen three times in one afternoon on my blonde haired, blue eyed daughter and her red headed cousin. Until Littlest came along my children, while requiring sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, do fine in the sun with limited sunblock. They tan and rarely burn. Then I had this blonde child and now I’m uber aware of the sun’s intensity and the time between applications.

Expired sunscreen doesn’t work well. Maybe it has to be applied every 8 minutes and not every 60. I don’t know. I do, however, know I didn’t use it frequently enough.

IMG_8021Littlest got fried. I thought she had the worst burn I’d ever observed until I got a text from my sister in law.


Bad Auntie.

It gets better. Or worse if you’re my children or niece.

I know extremely little about gardening and plants. We had what I thought were wild carrots growing around our garden. They smell like carrots when you break the stalk. They look like carrots when you dig them up. My neighbor kindly asked several times if I was sure they were carrots and stubborn as I am I answered, “Pretty darn sure.” The kids asked if they could dig some up. “Sure kids, go play in the weeds!” Now infamous last words in my house.

My sister in law texted me today asking about poison ivy. I said, “I don’t think we have any but it’s possible!”  She sent me these pictures. A terrible sunburn wasn’t bad enough, I exposed her child to something in our weeds.

My children love active strips (aka bandaids by another manufacturer). When I peeled several off Littlest I found the same huge blisters from which my niece is suffering. A friend came over and thought poison oak or poison sumac. A third friend when I showed her the pictures iimmediately said “wild parsnip.” (And it’s Awesome Amy with the win!) Luckily the roots are NOT poisonous as the girls tried to eat some after I gave them permission.

The stupid wild parsnip is in the same area the kids threw several packets of carrots seeds a few years ago so my DUMB assumption had a little basis…but not enough.

So consider this your PSA – don’t play with wild parsnip. It hurts. Over 75 blisters between the three girls with my niece being the hardest hit having more than 40 herself.

The lesson here is I sunburn and plant burn children. Send them my way at your – or their – own risk.

EJ out – to hang my head in deep, deep shame.

Here are a couple of pictures of wild parsnip from my yard. And a link with more information.  


Worst Western – A Cluster Story

“Down the last hall over there is the nearest bathroom.”

I looked at the woman behind the reception desk with utter disbelief. I asked for a trash bin because my daughter, suffering from heat exhaustion, was feeling nauseous as we were checked into our hotel for the night. I honestly hoped my girl would barf in her  lobby. Who can’t spare their trash bin for a sick 9 year old about to vomit?

I smiled and asked to expedite the check in process while biting my tongue. A teammate of ours checked in just before us so I was prepared and waited to complete the necessary paperwork. We trucked up to our room past the pool. Even if she’d been completely healthy there was no way we’d have been able to utilize or enjoy the pool facilities. It was a complete zoo, overcrowded and crazy.

We found the elevator and headed up to the queen bed that awaited us. Except a full bed stared back. Awesome.

After a long day in the sun I wanted to relax in a cold hotel room and watch kid shows with the backs of my eyelids. But nope, the hotel made other plans for us.

The sultry temperature of the room made me question my sanity. The television didn’t work. Deep breaths were required as I calmly explained to overtired, sweaty children they couldn’t swim, would be playing rock-scissor-paper to see who would have to sleep in a chair, and now they couldn’t even watch television. I settled my then extremely cranky children for the night. They were warm but unlike me, they were comfortable.

I called down to the front desk only to learn the woman answering the phone had no idea how to help me and was busy with other customers. She took my room number and told me she’d call me back. I replied, “This has not been a positive experience.”

Are you freaking kidding me? First the lack of service while checking in. Then the overly warm room. Then the television.

By now it’s 10:30 at night.

Several children had been running about the halls. When someone repeatedly rattled and bothered with the door I didn’t think about it. The rattling continued. I stomped to the door and yanked it open. I expected there to be some crazed teen messing around.

A mom and her kid stared back at me. With room keys to my room. At 10:45 at night. I was a lunatic by this time. I spewed the issues we’d had since checking at her and assured her and her son they didn’t want this room anyways as I furiously grabbed the phone. I know I looked crazy with my frizzed out halo of hair and my reindeer pj pants.

I reached my breaking point. Another family was assigned to the same room. With keys.


“Another family has been given room keys and assigned to this room. I am very displeased.”

“Would you mind sending them down to the front desk?”

“It would be my pleasure,” I replied with more snark than I knew I was capable of. As I sent them off I believe steam from my temper and the hot room actually poured forth from my ears.

We had to be out the door at 6:30 the next morning to report for warm ups.  I turned in the keys and said, “I have some feedback about our experience.”

She replied, “I was informed you were unhappy. I’m so sorry. These tournament weekends are crazy”

I simply replied, “If you’re this full you should be staffed for it. Your management needs to enable you to do your job.”

I explained the issues we experienced in a calm voice. She refunded me $50 plus tax for our inconvenience. I didn’t have the time to tell her I wanted and expected a full refund. The key situation was so wrong. The safety implications of that situation scared me. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night after the room had been dual assigned.

Best Western earned a new nickname this weekend – Worst Western. Our experience sucked. Save yourselves a lot of trouble and make sure and read ALL the reviews for your hotel site.

EJ out – to write some reviews about our weekend.

Bumping Up and Down In My Little Red Wagon

When I was small I had a little red wagon. I loved that wagon. I rode and pulled my dolls miles in that little red wagon. That wagon was a source of fun and frolic. It took me more than around the block. With that wagon I had adventures to space and deep into the sea. I would load up my stuffed bear, whatever doll I picked to play with that day, some snacks and a thermos of water and I would begin the trek to the middle of the back yard….about 150 feet.

My mom has kept things she knows one day we will hold as precious. My wagon arrived a while back and my children have enjoyed it for more than 10 years. The wagon’s sides had become rickety. The brackets unhinged. Yet still I loved the wagon as though it was shiny and perfect. One day jumping in and out of the wagon brought it to pieces. Literal pieces.

I cried. Over a wagon. I wept because my wagon was in pieces. It provided trips through my imagination, hauled my treasures, carried Eldest on some of his first walks as a toddler.

Dr. Evil has been on a cleaning mission and I’m all in favor of removing clutter. I finally gave in a said, “Fine, burn it in the burn pile with the rest of the junk in the garage.” My heart was sad but I decided I needed to get over myself. It was simply a wagon after all and it had lived a good life.

I was gone all day yesterday. I got home and walked in. Dr. Evil and Littlest excitedly said, “Did you see it?!”

They did this. They may have had fun and thought it a sweet gesture.



They have no idea how much it means to me. They put my wagon back together, painted it, and Littlest even took special care with white paint and traced the little letters out with her sweet hands.


My wagon gets a new start. It may only hold up another summer or two but today it carried a blanket for a picnic, rocks to be painted, and shoes for dancing. Across a yard….onto a new adventure.

EJ out – to end my day full of gratitude.

What childhood memories live on for you? I”d love to hear!!! Leave me a comment! I’ll respond

Working the Weekend….

The Black Keys.


A Half Marathon.

Yup.  That’s how we roll here in the lair.

Friday night Dr. Evil and I took Eldest to see The Black Keys live in concert.  It.Was. AWESOME.  We had stellar seats and the music was beyond words.  The opening act Jake Bugg rocked as well.  Now we have someone new to find on Spotify!  A while back I took Eldest Female Spawn to see Demi Lovato.   It was there I learned that when taking a child to a concert, a large part of the concert as a parent…is watching your kid rock out.

This was no different.  Other than his rocking out was considerably more understated than her jumping up and down.

Watching him love music moves me.  Like I didn’t know it would.


Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 11.16.28 AM

He’s growing up so fast.  He’s already more than 4 inches taller than me and now I know when we wrestle if I win – it’s because he’s let me.  Eldest is a good kid.  He has a good heart and I hope – I HOPE – and pray that he stays his path.  I really enjoy hanging out with him and I know we’re not going to be friends until he’s in his 30’s because I’m his mom but I hope we can keep the relationship we have for a long time to come.

Before the concert we took Eldest to try sushi in Minneapolis.  He tried everything we put in front of him and even liked most of it.  And we went ‘real’ sushi on him – raw and everything.  Which made me nervous because….I was running a half marathon the next morning and one of my mantras is “nothing new the day before.”   Oh well.  It was amazingly good and I didn’t care.

The Half Marathon.  The Monster Dash.  Well…I finished.  In my second worst time ever for a half but I finished it.  The first 10 miles rocked.  I really loved the first 8 miles.  The next two were okay.  I was on pace for a PR.  Then mile 10 hit and you watch most everyone cross into the 10 mile finish lane except us crazy people who decided, “Well, I may as well sign up for the half – I mean it’s only a 5k further run than the 10 mile, right?”  It’s a great concept when signing up.  It’s a long 3 miles when you’re running it while watching others be done.  My half completely self destructed at mile 11 and I must have slowed down tremendously and I know I walked up most of the hills at the end.  And I walked on some of the flats.  I even walked a bit of the downhill I think.  I was just done.

I did entertain myself watching people…and…as always…talking to people.  I met this awesome lady at mile 3.5 from a near by town.  So crazy!!!  Running in St. Paul and there’s 18000 people and I meet someone from New Richmond.  And before the race even started I ran into someone I know from here!!!  How crazy is that.  At mile 8 I ran with another gal who was super friendly and chatty.  I learned more about her in a mile than I would have any other time.  At mile 11 I tried to chat with a gal but my brain was fried and I think I may have scared her a little.  I was trying to encourage her to keep going as she was running her first half and her feet were hurting.  I finally figured out she was waiting for me to get away from her!  Ooops.  Oh well.

I finished.  And then…you can’t make this shit up.

My phone died at mile 11.  No more music.  That’s okay.  The route was along the river and with the fall colors it was gorgeous. But…I took a picture of where I parked.  I paid attention too.  But the morning was screwy with some last minute changes and I came into downtown from Minneapolis and found parking.  I always come in from the East – except for that morning….so to ensure I didn’t lose my car I took a picture of the area and the signs.

When I finished the race I realized my phone was dead.  I remembered seeing the Xcel center across the street from where I parked so I started walking around the huge convention center.  I was laughing.  Then almost crying.  Then shaking mad.  I finally walked up to a lady who I could tell had run and asked, “May I please call my husband?  I can’t find my car and I’m hoping my pictures when to photostream and he can tell me it is!!!”  She graciously let me use her phone.  Dr. Evil didn’t recognize the number SO HE DIDN’T ANSWER.

Her ride picked her up and they EVEN OFFERED TO DRIVE ME AROUND!!!  That’s why I love the midwest.  I didn’t get in because honestly, I smelled terribly and didn’t want to waste their time.  I figured I’d find it eventually.

2 miles later – AFTER RUNNING A 13.1 MILES – I found the car.  I know it was probably good to walk a bit after running before driving home 45 minutes…but TWO FREAKING MILES?!?!?!?!?  And it was about a mile to the start of the race from where I parked so I would say I got my miles in for the day.

I got home and crashed for a bit and then enjoyed my family.

The moral of the weekend?


What did you do this weekend?  Are you looking forward to Halloween?  Love to hear from you all!!!!!

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