Category Archives: Child’s Play

A Trip to the Montgomery Zoo


Like all mothers and daughters, Kayla and I have things the two of us like to do together.  One of those is going to the zoo.  Fortunately for us, the nearby city of Montgomery, Alabama has an excellent zoo.

Kayla did roll her eyes at me when we walked up to the zoo one day early this summer and I started by taking this picture of the entrance.

The Montgomery Zoo entrance

Entrance to the Montgomery Zoo

She thought that taking a picture of the entrance, even for my blog, was overkill. I told her it was my blog, not hers. Since our next stop was the parakeet enclosure, and I sprang for several seed sticks to feed the parakeets, she forgave me.

Because we were at the Zoo entrance almost as soon as the gates opened, the parakeets were hungry, and we had no trouble coaxing them to come eat from the sticks. At one point, we had six to seven birds each trying to reach the seed sticks, keeping both of us too busy to take photographs.

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The peacocks wander freely throughout the zoo grounds.  This proud fellow obligingly provided us with a full display of his plumage.

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Another of the first areas you walk through at the zoo is an aviary which includes several species of birds, including this scarlet ibis, and

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this duck.

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The aviary even had a turtle in it laying her eggs.

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Kayla’s favorites are the monkeys; the spider monkeys’ enclosure lies just beyond the aviary.

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This monkey seemed to have a lot on his mind,

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while this one was just hanging around.  (Yes, I know, it’s a bad pun but someone has to say it.)

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There was a family of ducks enjoying the moat around the spider monkey enclosure.  The group of ducklings above were swimming, anxiously watched by the parents (pictured below) who were watching from the rail protecting the enclosure.  The “accidental” zoo residents sometimes are as fascinating as the official zoo residents.

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Here is one of the Zoo’s pygmy hippos, Lola.  Although the pygmy hippo is from Africa, Lola and her calf, Monty, born in 2016, live in a special enclosure in the South American section to give them some additional space and attention.

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Roosters and chickens roam freely through the zoo grounds, just like the peacocks.  I thought this rooster’s coloring was spectacular.   Kayla rolled her eyes at me again for taking his picture.

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Here is one of the Zoo’s lemurs.

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One of the Zoo’s rarer animals is this maned wolf from South America.  He obviously was not ready to wake up yet.

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Here is a condor.

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The jaguar was sleepy, too.

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Here is a wallaby mama and her joey.

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The North American section includes the bald eagles, the otters (which unfortunately were not out to play on this day) and various deer, elk and buffalo.)

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The zoo also has an attraction which lets you feed the giraffes, so I bought Kayla and I each treats for the giraffes.  Only two of the four giraffes were interested this morning, the baby giraffe and his mother.

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In a move mothers everywhere will understand and cheer, Mama got a bit impatient with Junior’s attempt to hoard all the special treats, and came around to the side to be sure she got her share.

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This is where she first realized what Junior was up to.

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The zoo has a kiddie train ride that travels all the way around it; even if it is just kid stuff, the two of us always ride it.  On a really hot day, the breeze the train generates while it makes it rounds feels cool.  I let Kayla hold the camera during the ride, but this was one of only two pictures she took.  I’m not sure if she was bored at this moment. DSCN0339

This lake is part of the zoo grounds, too.  It formed in the remnants of the old quarry that make up part of the zoo lands.  It gives the zoo plenty of room for expansion.

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Then last, but not least, on this particular day, we were able to get this striking stork’s photograph in the Asia section on our way out.

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This is just a sampling of the animals at the Montgomery Zoo; they also have bears, tigers, lions, elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos and reptiles to mention just some of the things we didn’t get to that day.  In addition to the parakeet enclosure, the train ride and the giraffe feeding station, the zoo also has a skyride over the zoo and a petting area.

The residents of Montgomery, a city with a population of just over 220,000 people, are lucky to have such a zoo and far-sighted enough to fund it.  And I’m lucky to have a daughter who, even at the age of 15, is willing to go to the zoo with me!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

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Justifiable Homicide?


Good morning Everyone!

volcano

From http://www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved. 

 

Things got a little tense at our household this morning thanks to contacts and baseball, strange combination that it is.

Kayla got contacts about a month ago and after the first three days, which were rough, had most of the kinks worked out – until this morning.  I knocked on her bedroom door to tell her I was going to take a shower, so I would wish her a good day then and to have a good day, and

got screamed

yelled at 

was informed tersely that her contacts were just “not working” this morning and she was afraid she was going to miss the bus.  [How something with no moving parts or motor can “not work” is beyond me.]

When I told her she had nine minutes left so she should calm down a little, I struck a spark onto a pile of dry twigs and leaves.  I’m not saying I slammed any doors over the conversation, but I  slammed my bedroom door over the conversation.

However, as we all know, Karma works its magic at the worst possible times.

Field Trip

From http://www.clickartonline.com All Rights Reserved

15 minutes after the bus came, Kayla texted  – she had forgotten her permission slip for the baseball game field trip her class is taking today and would I please bring it to her at school so she wouldn’t have to sit in the boring classroom all day long and us lose the $20  we had plunked down for the field trip?  [I’m sure it was our losing the twenty dollars that was worrying her the most.][Insert sarcasm font.]

I contemplated telling her “no.”  I should have told her “no.”  I almost texted her “no. ” But instead I clenched my jaw and started looking for it.  Once I found it, the following dialogue by text ensued:

[Typos in originals]

ME:  Leaving house now.  Please be at front at drop off line to pick up form.  Do NOT make me park and come inside. 

KAYLA:  I can’t do that its against the rules.

[At this point, I think most mothers would agree with me that she has achieved reached the level of justifiable homicide.]

ME:  Then how the )^&*&%$%(*&^( do you expect me to get it to    [text typing interrupted by further communication from Kayla.]

KAYLA:  I’ll try it

ME:  [Deletes above text without sending. ]

KAYLA:  coach dean said I could come to the carrider line.

My mood was not improved by the fact that I managed to lose the permission slip form three times after I found it before I entered the car which probably wasn’t her fault but which I will find some way to blame on her anyhow.

Smiling Snail

From http://www.clickartonline.com All Rights Reserved

The smile on her face when she grabbed the form from me, though, made it worth it.

Have a great day!

 

Nancy

 

 

 

In Which the Ghost of Christmas Cheer Goes Missing


Good morning Everyone!

Last Friday was the last day of school for 2015 for Kayla.  The day before, her home room decided to plan a breakfast party in celebration thereof.  So far so good, but then my child (or perhaps this time she was Mark’s child!) volunteered to bring cheese grits for the class.

When she announced this to us, neither parent was thrilled.  Mark, because he had to go to Wal-Mart with her to get bags of grit after work and me because I was informed that I would be getting up to help her prepare them.  This announcement was doubly troubling to me since I had sworn off making her grits ages ago, since every batch I made was judged inferior to any batch made by either grandmother.  (See, Grits.)

Mark hates Wal-Mart and only goes there as a last resort, but by the time I got home that night, the two of them had already been and returned – with two five-pound flour bag size packages of grits.  I think he got off light.

When I awoke the next morning, Kayla already had plopped three stock size pots on the stove and filled with them water.  She was standing in the kitchen waiting for them to boil.

Unreasonable woman that I am, I studied the directions on the back of the package, and asked, “Did you measure out the water?”

“No, I don’t have to.”

“But the package says…”

“Well, Grandma Pat never does…”

(At this point I started gritting my teeth.)

The water in pot one started to boil, and Kayla added  about three pounds worth of grits into the pot.

My next question:  “Do you have the cheese ready to stir in?”

Disdainfully:  “Mom, you never stir the cheese in; you just put it on top.”

“It’s better stirred in.”

Aggravated sigh.  “Even Cracker Barrel and Huddle House just put the cheese on the top.”

(At this point I started biting my tongue and walked off into the other room.  With a decided lack of wisdom, I decided to reenter the kitchen.)

Studying the huge batch of grits stirring in pot #1, I suggested that pot 1 was all she would need.

“Mom, I have to prepare for 32 people.”

“Kayla, that’s enough for 32 people.”

“No it’s not.”

(By now, I’m ready to start snarling, so I jump to the true root of the problem.)

“You know, when you’re volunteering to bring something to the party at the last minute, you should volunteer to bring something we can just buy at the store.”

“I was going to bring plates Mom, but when people were saying what food they were going to bring, I kept asking for cheese grits and no one would bring them, so I did.”

The child then emptied another two pounds of grits into pot #2 and began stirring.

“Kayla, you have enough grits.  You don’t need the third batch.”

“Yes I do.”

“No, you have enough.”

“But mom…”

Then a shout came out.  “I don’t care what you say, I am now ORDERING you to not make the third batch.”

“Well, there’s no need to yell at me!”

I again left the room, this time to allow my blood pressure to come down.  After too short a period, I am called back in.

“Mom, did Grandma Pat teach me how to make good grits or what?”

(Note:  I don’t like grits; never have, never will.)

She then announced “You know I’m going to need you to help me carry this stuff in.”

I studied the kitchen counter, where a large assortment of very small Tupperware containers were spread out.  “Honey, you can’t take all my Tupperware containers.”

With a huff:  “Well, I have to take them in SOMETHING!”

After a moment’s thought, I found a very large stew pot that she could pour both batches in.  Now all she had to carry was her backpack, slung over her shoulder and the stew pot, which had handles and a lid.  She informed me I still needed to go in with her (which involves parking the car in the school parking lot and walking into the school) rather than just take her through the car rider line (which means I get to stay in the car while she gets on out.)   A snarling cross-examination established that the only reason I needed to go in was that she was embarrassed to carry in her large pot of grits by herself, which really set me off.

At the end of the appointed time, I managed to get the daughter and the grits to the right place at the right time.  My parting words to her as I walked from the school back out to the parking lot included a reminder to clean the kitchen as soon as she got home that day.

For the record, there still is at least one pot that has not yet been cleaned to my satisfaction.  It took all day Friday for my Christmas cheer to return!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Memories From Nashville


Good morning Everyone!

I am speaking today for an hour at a legal seminar here in Nashville, and driving up yesterday, it occurred to me that this is the first time I have been to Nashville by myself since Kayla was 4!  It was a never to be forgotten visit, but not from my end.

I had a few minutes free and was looking for some tiny souvenir to bring back for Kayla in downtown Nashville.  I went into a souvenir shop, where they had a bin of polished rocks.  You could buy so many rocks for a couple of dollars, then put them in a bag that said something original like “Rocks from Nashville.”  Kayla was in that four year old stage where kids pick up any kind of rock they find that they think is interesting, so I thought she would like it.

I had just walked out of the store, when my phone rang.  It was Mark.  I asked him what was up, and the conversation started with “Your daughter…”

I knew right then that whatever it was was not going to be good.  It turned out that Kayla and a friend had gotten bored at day care, and decided to amuse themselves by putting rocks into each other’s ear, then watching them fall out.   (Yes, you can see where this is going.)  Strangely enough, the rock in Kayla’s ear didn’t want to shake out.

Day care called Mark, who left work and took Kayla to the pediatrician.  To this day, he is not sure whether he is more amazed that he had a daughter silly enough to let someone put a rock in her ear or that enough other children had done it before her that the pediatrician had a specialized tool that could flush the rock out with water.

I waited until I got home to tell Mark what I had gotten Kayla for a souvenir.

Have a great day!

Nancy

The Kitchen Cleaning Caper


Good morning Everyone!

About three weeks ago, several round white spots, maybe two inches in diameter, and a long smear of white appeared on the kitchen floor.  Kayla said she had tried to mop them up, but it hadn’t worked, and neither had vacuuming.

I was tired of looking at them by Sunday, so yesterday evening I sat down on the floor and started working on getting those spots up.  The spots were made by a thick, hard substance, though, and the only way to remove them was to scrape the substance off with a knife.  It was too thin, too uniform and not stretchy enough to be gum but it was too tough to be something like sugar or icing.

After a while, Kayla joined me on the floor to help.  She wanted to know if I knew what the spots were.  I told her I wasn’t sure, but  I was beginning to think I might be better off not knowing.  Realizing I was talking about unwanted critters, she said “Eeee-youuuuuuuuuu!”

She helped me scrape for a while in silence, then she said, “These spots look exactly like someone  got mad and slung the stove top cleaner around without realizing that it wasn’t shut good.”

Happy Face Angel With Wings

from http://www.clickartonline.com
All Rights Reserved

I sat back to look at her, and she added, “Not that I did anything like that!”

I let her off on a technicality.

(For the record, Mark and I went into the bedroom and shut the door so we could laugh until our sides hurt at her non-confession.)

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN.  We have a glass cook top on our stove, and it requires a special cleaner that rubs on like a paste and then is wiped off with paper towel.  Apparently once the stuff dries without being rubbed off, it is impenetrable.

Communications


Good morning Everyone!

I finally have relented and allowed Kayla to join Facebook, with the single stipulation that I MUST approve all friends and follows before she either makes or accepts either.  Her first wave of friends includes most of our family (if there’s anyone out there I missed, it’s purely accidental and I apologize!) including my mother.

Last night, I went in Kayla’s room to check on her, and she was very proud to tell me she had just been chatting online with my mother (her Grandma Dottie.)  Kayla was happy and excited.

The conversation led me to think about communications.

Bare foot Girl

Messages By Foot
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For millenia, the only means of communication that people possessed was mouth-to-mouth.  Coupled with transportation limited to the use of the foot, it took a very long time for messages to get anywhere farther than maybe the next cave over.

Assyrian War Ship

Relief Carving of an Assyrian Battle Ship from around 800 B.C.

A few brave souls realized that you could travel to certain places quicker if you went by water.  There were unique dangers involved and the range of places you could reach by water were limited, but you could travel farther faster then on foot.

One day during those vast uncharted millennia, some enterprising soul evaluated the risks of falling off a horse trying to break it versus the rewards of being able to get a message three villages over in half the time, and the use of the horse for transportation and communication began.

Ox Cart

Ox Cart
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Another incredibly brave family apparently very fond of their possessions and wanting to move elsewhere without having to leave any behind decided to take two or four oxen and attach them to a wagon with their stuff in it.  Big animal + big horns = big problems, but someone persevered long enough to make it work.

Smack dab in the middle of antiquity, the Phoenicians, who were fantastic sailors, decided to invent the alphabet.  Before that, the Babylonians had invented a kind of picture language they inscribed on stones, and the Egyptians invented the hieroglyphics they wrote on papyrus and tomb walls, but while the Babylonians and Egyptians wrote primarily for local purposes, the Phoenicians were salesman, the tradesmen of the Mediterranean, and they need something fast, snappy, easy to adapt and relatively easy to learn.

Roman Road Algeria

Remains of a Roman Road in Algeria

So now, messages could be sent directly to someone else in a fairly far away place preserved in writing rather than dependent on memory and transmitted by ox, horse or foot power.  The Romans, believing that conquering required an excellent road system, aided this process with a series of excellent roads built throughout Europe and the Middle East.  Portions of those roads, some of them built over 2000 years ago, still exist today.

Bear in mind  that it took the world thousands of years to reach this point.  For another couple of millenia, communications’ revolutions were sedate, although people, being people, continued to make better versions of the equipage that animals could pull behind them, the ships that men could sail and the materials used to preserve and transmit messages.

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick’s “Puffing Devil” (Replica)

Then, on February 21, 1804, Richard Trevithick’s “puffing devil” steam locomotive made the first train run on a track from point b to point a.    It took  about a decade for the commercial ramifications of steam engines to come to fruition, but by 1850, there were over 9000 miles of track laid down in the United States, and over 6621 miles laid down in England.

In 1837, inventors in England and in the United States invented separate telegraph systems capable of receiving and transmitting messages across wires in mere minutes.  Communication possibilities exploded.

Bell 1880 telephone

Alexander Bell Talks on a Telephone in 1880

Until now, the driving force behind communication/transportation innovations was to improve commerce, (although train companies were quick to pick up on the possibilities of passenger service).  However, communications began its next evolution in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone, that is, the first device that was capable of producing a clearly understandable reproduction of a human voice.  By the 1900’s, not only had telephones spread throughout the United States, but their main switchboard facilities had begun to become mechanized.  As part of the effort to improve telephone service, the first digital networks began to be developed starting in the 1940’s, although it wasn’t until 1978 that Motorola developed and sold the world’s first mobile phone.

In the early 1970’s, my family lived overseas in Taiwan for a couple of years.  Even then, we could not talk to people back home by telephone very much or for very long, so we would record stuff on cassette tapes and mail them back home to the states.  I was very moved when, on my grandfather’s death a couple of years ago, I came across a cassette tape he had kept from that time.

1950 Rotary Dial Phone

Rotary Dial Phone from the 1950’s

Even when we came back to the states in the mid-1970’s, people had rotary dialing, not touch tone, and the phone stayed attached to the kitchen wall because cordless phones were either not invented yet or at least not inexpensive enough for normal people.

Now, of course, we take instant communication for granted.

New Model Cell Phone

New Model Cell Phone: HTC One, M9

If I can’t remember something I needed at the grocery store, I stop in the middle of the store and call home to find out what the unknown item was.  In fact, I get miffed if I can’t reach someone right away.

Instead of having to run for the kitchen phone from remote areas of the house when the phone rings, we now get to hunt for the cordless phone all over the house because Kayla and I both seem to be constitutionally incapable of putting the darn thing back in the same place every time.

When one of my bosses went to Germany a few weeks ago, he never missed a beat back here at home.  The speed at which he could obtain his e-mails was only limited by whether they were coming in at a time of the day when he wanted to read them.

Sometimes, (read “almost always” if you are below the age of 25), we don’t even talk on the phone anymore; we text messages back and forth on our cell phones.

Many younger people are beginning to eschew home phone lines altogether, keeping only mobile phones.  I can understand that, but it just seems so unrooted not to have at least one landline connected to your place of residence.

We can chat face to face by Skype to people on the other side of the world and receive news from anywhere in minutes through signals bounced up to and down from satellites orbiting the earth.

And we take it all for granted.

Until the smile on your child’s face after talking to her grandmother lights up your world as well as her’s.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Three Effortless Ways to Embarrass Your 13 Year Old Daughter


Good morning Everyone!

I did three things last week that embarrassed Kayla.  None of them was particularly dreadful, so I am curious to know if any of you can explain her embarrassment.

Embarrassment Number 1:  I joined Instagram.  I did not post anything, just got an account and followed Kayla and a couple of other people.  If I had posted weird pictures or Kayla’s toddler pictures (especially the absolutely adorable one of her looking like a mountain gnome, the bottom half of her face completely covered in chocolate ice cream from where she had tried to eat an ice cream cone in the dark FN 1), I would understand it better, but simply to establish an account?

Embarrassment Number 2:  I (gasp!!!) knitted while I was in a doctor’s waiting room while she was with me.  I didn’t hurt anyone, shake my needles at anyone, poke anyone’s eyes out or click the needles together loudly like a pair of castanets.  I even restrained myself from knitting when we were waiting at the orthodontist’s office, only knitting while we were waiting for my allergist.  (Lots of teens at the orthodontist; none at the allergist.)  Apparently I still committed a faux pas.

Embarrassment Number 3:  I did not mute the keys on my cell phone while I was texting.  The fact that I text at all is something she should encourage, noisy keys or not.  I like hearing the sound of the virtual keys; that way at least I’m sure I hit some kind of letter, even if it ends up being the wrong one!  If anyone can explain this one to me, too, I’d appreciate it.  And no, we were not in a crowded area, there were not any other teenagers around, and there was only one other person in the waiting room when I typed my text.

I would appreciate any enlightenment, although I can’t promise I will never embarrass her again, for two reasons.  The first is that the rules as to what embarrasses keep on changing.  The second is that embarrassing your 13-year-old can be a lot of fun.

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN 1.  That picture was nominated for the “first time we meet your boyfriend” album as soon as it was taken.  Two for, and one against, and I’ll let you guess who voted for what.

Ignore a Moose


Hi Everyone!

The Cracker Barrel where my family frequently eats dinner is tucked within an enclave of four or five family priced hotels, which means, depending on the season and tournament, we might be dining besides a junior high soccer team, a high school baseball team or an elementary school cheerleading squad.  On our way there Friday, we passed a man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Coach” printed on the front.  Mark made a comment about the man being a sports fan, and Kayla announced from the back that “Radiostiping is wrong.”  Both of us stared at her blankly for a few seconds (somewhat dangerous on Mark’s part, since he was driving), and then I realized that she meant “stereotyping.”

Once we got to Cracker Barrel, Kayla started playing that peg game that drives me crazy because I can only get one peg left once every ten or so times.  Suddenly she announced that “I am mumble mumble ignore a moose.”  My hearing is not what it once was, although I can’t get any ear doctor to agree with me, so I have learned that rather than continually ask “What did you say?” sometimes repeating what I thought I heard gets a better response.  Accordingly, I exclaimed “You’re going to ignore a moose!”

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t want to be an ignore a moose.”  That’s when we realized that she was trying to pronounce “ignoramus.”

Today, on my way to lunch, I saw that the local KFC’s advertising sign board had changed.  It now asks me to try its new “baked beans and lemonade.”  Without meaning to radiostipe, I believe I would be an ignore-a-moose to try a dish made with such an awkward combination of ingredients!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Church of the What???


Good morning Everyone!

Last weekend, Mark, Kayla and I went to Huntsville to attend a recital given by one of my sisters, who is a gifted soprano.  The recital was at her church, so as Mark and I were looking for the church’s address on our Garmin.  Mark asked what I was looking under, and I told him “Church of the Nativity.”

In the back seat of the car, Kayla (who fades randomly in and out of conversations these days with often hilarious results) said suddenly,” That’s a terrible name for a church!”

When asked to explain, she said,” The Church of Negativity? Who would want to go there?”

It took Mark 3 blinks and me 5 to contain our amusement where we could calmly explain that the deletion of two letters changed the meaning from something unpleasant to something wonderful.

She did roll her eyes at me when I announced after the explanation, “Coming soon to a blog near you!”

Have a great day!

Nancy

Maternity Fraternity


Good morning Everyone!

Copyright Protected by www.clickartonline.com.  Used with Permission.

Copyright Protected by http://www.clickartonline.com. Used with Permission.

We were driving around a shopping center this weekend to find an American Eagle Outfitter – Kayla had thirty dollars burning a hole in her pocket.  On our way to the store, Kayla suddenly piped up with “Gee, they must be really big to have one of those!  I didn’t know they had a college here!”

Mark and I asked together,” One of those what?”

She said,” You know, one of those places where college boys get together and have parties. ”

We were dumbfounded for about 5 seconds until light broke through our befuddlement.

We then took a few minutes to explain that the difference between the words “maternity” and “fraternity” was more than just spelling.

Maternity.  Copyright Protected by www.clickartonline.com.  Used with Permission.

Maternity. Copyright Protected by http://www.clickartonline.com. Used with Permission.

Have a great day!

Nancy