If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Tuesday, June 29, 2010


If I were to play word association this time of year it would go something like this: "July 4th ~ fireworks. Fireworks ~ explosives. Explosives ~ dangerous. Dangerous ~ my husband"......and to be honest, I can't help but cycle through that string of associating words every year as we approach America's Birthday.

It should come as no surprise to learn that my husband has an infatuation with things that carry potential to inflict bodily harm, so why should long wicks on shiny pieces of explosives packaged in brightly colored boxes at Walmart be any different? And those are the legal ones. Our friendly neighboring state is kind enough to sell the illegal variety right off the interstate.

For many years I was able to limit him to the legal, albeit dangerous, assortment from Walmart. With exception of a few minor mishaps, those were pretty uneventful. That is until a 'friend' from work gave him a half a stick of dynamite. The details of that exchange are still unclear. I have no clue why that 'friend' had any dynamite or why the topic was ever brought up in normal conversation. It's not outside the realm of possibility that his eyes lit up at the mention of it, but how that turned into 'gifting' him with some is beyond me. I'm embarrassed to admit that the dynamite lived in one of my kitchen drawers for several months. (I'd like to think I'm smarter now.) I thought he had forgotten about it. Little did I know the plans he had in mind.

Enter July 4th, 2000......He duct taped that dynamite to a bottle rocket from Walmart in the middle of the street in our crowded neighborhood. I have no idea what he thought would happen, but I can tell you what did happen. As expected, his preparations drew a large curious crowd.....red neck, duct tape, dynamite, bottle rocket.....that's a no-brainer. (Another quick word association: "Crowd = witnesses.") Anyhoo, the stage was set and the wicks were lit. Here's a tip: The explosive with the shortest wick will detonate first. That being said, the bottle rocket was the first to go, but instead of going up, the weight of the dynamite pulled it down and straight through a crowd of witnesses, who scattered just as the bottle rocket hit the front porch of a house across the street.....and then the dynamite detonated.....and exploded a perfectly good set of patio furniture. Before the smoke cleared, he ran into the house to hide. When I found him he was repeating, "I'm going to jail, I'm going to jail." I finally convinced him that his only option was to go apologize and pay for the damages. (There were witnesses, after all.) I was the one hiding in the house as he dragged himself across the street and was surprised when he returned just a few minutes later and happily announced, "Great news! They were evicted two weeks ago!"

He was much more careful in the years to follow. There was a small lapse in judgement in 2001 when he threw what he thought were 'duds' into our bonfire pit. Turns out they weren't 'duds' and a few months later we were flying out of our lawn chairs and taking cover as we initially thought someone had opened fire on us while we were roasting hot dogs.

But things went terribly wrong again in 2003 when he decided to go to that friendly neighboring state and load up on 'big ones' for my family get together at my uncle's house. Did you know that there are fireworks that, once lit, shoot off twelve at a time? Did you know that once lit, there's no way to stop the process until it's over? Did you know that if one of those should tip over from the force of the first shot that the force of each shot thereafter would continue to flip it in different directions causing a catastrophic game of 'Firework Russian Roulette?' With all of that in mind, my husband single handedly almost killed off my entire side of the family who stood on my uncle's porch in a state of shock watching each explosion like a deadly tennis match and counting down from twelve. (If not for quick reflexes and military training my cousin wouldn't be here today. My other cousin ran with her baby to the basement as though it were Armageddon.) After the twelfth and final shot, we breathed a collective sigh of relief and for several seconds nobody said anything. My Mamaw Putter finally broke the silence when she said, "Where'd you find the kind that shoot off to the side like that?" (At least someone was impressed and nobody had the heart to tell her that he had just almost killed her and all of her off-spring.)

There is a 'no fireworks' rule at our house. A couple years ago we had to expand that rule to ban him from even 'helping' with fireworks at any house after he assisted our neighbor with his display and a flaming firework landed back into the box of unlit fireworks, detonating them all, and sending our neighbors family flying for shelter.

I'm convinced that God is watching out for us and those who have the misfortune of coming into contact with us. I picture morning 'staff-meetings' with all the guardian angels and God randomly draws a name to see which guardian angel has to cover the Courter Family that day. I can't help but wonder how many have gone into early retirement on July 5th.......

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's a hard knock life.....

It's our goal to be a normal family. We try to be a normal family. I think it's even possible for us to be a normal family. But when things don't go as planned, our efforts at normalcy fall by the wayside, and it causes a domino effect.

We went to see a live production of 'Annie' in the park Friday night. (I've been sworn to secrecy about sharing all the details of that experience, due to the public nature of this blog, so please forgive me.)

On the way to the park there was a little encounter with a guy driving a tree trimming truck. He was sitting in the middle of his lane and we were at a standstill. I made a gesture to him. Not the finger, but more of a questioning shrug. He didn't like that and started screaming toward my closed window. Suddenly my window lowered and I looked over at my husband who was pushing the button and he said, "Get him, babe. I got yer back." (Have I mentioned how much I love that man?) I choose to believe that I overwhelmed that driver with my witty snark and I'm relieved that my husband never had to 'get my back' during the exchange. (He's had to save my butt before.) But as we drove away, Z calmly said, "None of that was necessary" and I had no argument. (Unexpected words of maturity from a teenage boy are annoying.)

When the show began I was sitting on the edge of my lawn chair, giddy with excitement and anticipation of loudly singing along. But I was immediately distracted. There were two women standing up on the stage who were interpreting the show in Sign Language. Let me say right now that Sign Language in itself is not distracting and I'm a huge supporter of what they do. One of the women was perfectly normal as she did her job. And please allow me to clarify what their job is. It is NOT to play the part. It is to interpret what the person playing the part is saying. I wish someone had told the other interpreter that, because from the looks of things, she was convinced she was actually playing the role of Miss Hannigan.....and Mr. Warbucks....and several orphans. I tried desperately to pay attention to the musical, but to be perfectly honest, it wasn't that great. Maybe I had my hopes built up too high or maybe it was Z leaning over asking when it was going to 'get good' and I had no answer for him. But when the distracting interpreter caught the bored eyes of my husband and Z, and they began entertaining themselves (and others) with imitations, I knew I'd lost them and at intermission I whispered, "Now's our chance" and we gathered up our chairs and headed out. Our family obviously isn't cut out for live musicals....or dramatic interpreters.

Next stop; Schulers bakery for Fathers Day donuts. For those who don't know what Schulers is, there are no words to describe it. For those who are familiar with Schulers, enough said. It's the best bakery in the worst part of town. (At least the worst part I've ever experienced.) It was decided beforehand that we would leave with twelve donuts. But we no sooner crossed through the entrance and my husband was begging for one to eat on the ride home, in addition to the two he was getting for Fathers Day. He got that look on his face, started rubbing my back, and repeatedly saying, "You know you want to" and I had flashbacks of our fourth date....and I caved. (On the donuts.) One by one each of my family members told the employee which two donuts they wanted in our box and which one they wanted in their hand and we quickly headed out to the van, trying to avoid being shot at, while holding our fresh donuts and a large white box with blue writing. (The sight of that box alone can make my mouth water immediately.) Mission accomplished and homeward bound.

We passed our neighbor's pitch black house. We didn't notice. We pulled into the driveway of our pitch black house. We didn't notice. We sat in our van and pushed the garage door opener a couple hundred times while pointing the remote closer and closer to the windshield and cursing dead batteries without once suspecting something was amiss. K offered to get out and push the keypad on the garage door even though it was drizzling rain and occasionally lightning. We let her. When that wasn't working we assumed she forgot the code and began yelling out the numbers until she finally gave up and yet still nothing occurred to us. We all got out of the van and took turns with the keypad and finally Z said, "Do you think our electricity is out?" (That makes two smart things he said in a six hour time frame. By our standard, I think that qualifies him as our new leader.) My husband hoisted Z onto his shoulders to unlatch our gate and despite the risk of stepping on baby kittens, we voted daddy the lucky one to make his way through the completely dark and cluttered garage to let us in. We heard him 'find' my mop bucket shortly into his journey and the kids got to hear what daddy says when he's mad. We finally made it into the dark house.

A Massage Therapist is never short on candles. We filled our bedroom with them and chaos ensued when C began making her way around the room blowing them out as we lit them. There we sat around our candle lit room with no Wii golf, no Facebook, no tv, and nothing but idle conversation with each other. The topic of the Amish came up. How could it not? A shared that she would like to be Amish. Z informed her that she couldn't have an Ipod. A changed her mind. C began listing television shows she'd like to watch one by one until we put a stop to that. When we heard the train behind our house I wondered aloud how the train was able to run with no electricity. My husband sighed dramatically and banned all talking. (Add 'idle conversation' to the list of things our family doesn't handle well.) The mention of sleep was followed by the moans of children accustomed to sleeping with the background noise of box fans and therefore can't sleep in silence anymore. We were in for a long night.

Two hours later in the deafening silence, just before I drifted off to sleep, something occurred to me. I woke my husband up and said, "Hey. Don't we have a generator in the garage?" and for the second time in one night, the kids got to hear that word that daddy says when he gets mad.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

You know it's finally Summer when you start to see the Fathers Day cards appear. Regardless of what your relationship is with your biological dad, it's been my experience that God gives everyone a man in their life who deserves to be celebrated. Whether that be your husband, an Uncle, your Grandfather, or Father-in-Law, I bet it doesn't take any woman very long to think of that special man in her life who brings her laughter, joy, happiness, and a whole lot of.....confusion.

It's the kick-off to Fathers Day weekend and lots of my time is spent thinking of my husband and planning his special day. Thankfully there are enough weeks in between Mothers Day and Fathers Day that I've almost forgotten the borderline disastrous weekend planned by my husband and children. (Yep, there's a story here, but I'm not quite ready to share yet....I'm still working this one out with my therapist.) My to-do list for my husband consists of stocking up on Schulers chocolate creme-filled donuts for breakfast and picking up his gift. He requested a box that holds his hose. I have no idea what that is but my plan is to walk into Lowe's, find a blue vested employee, and tell him I'm looking for a box for my husband's hose and hope for the best.

Despite the Mothers Day debacle of 2010, I'm excited to honor him on his special day. With the help of his wonderful dad, he has spent the past couple of months working like crazy on our backyard. He had a patio laid behind the pool, put up a new privacy fence, and just completed a heart-shaped bonfire pit out of stone even though his initial reaction to that request was a big sigh with a dramatic eye roll that he must have learned from our daughters. (Or maybe they learned it from him? Hmmmm.....)

The fact is, my husband deserves a special day more than once a year, and I'm probably not the only wife that feels that way about her husband. I wouldn't have enough time to list all of the wonderful things about him so here are just a few. He works hard to financially support our family, thus allowing me the choice of staying home full-time to be with our children, he doesn't go out with friends because he'd rather hang out with us, he constantly tells us how much he loves us, and he's our protector. (Let's face it, there isn't a whole lot hotter than a big guy in a baseball cap armed with a shotgun.)

Are there things that irritate me? Of course. That's normal. Do I like watching him pull his butt cheeks apart before he passes gas to maximize the sound? No. Does he vacuum his back with my hose attachments? Yes. Is he a die-hard believer that Sasquatch exists? Unfortunately. Did he almost let me die from a nut allergy because it happened during an Ohio State game? Yep. Does he still blame me for missing part of that game? He does. Am I still bitter about the whole thing? You betcha. Know why? Because that's not normal! And I won't even mention how he sprays ants with Windex while he sits on the toilet in the downstairs bathroom.

But he's my very best friend in the whole world and with anything, it's the good and the bad that make up the whole package, and he's my whole package. Sometimes he listens to my voice of reason, most times he doesn't. We're partners in crime and we're in it for the long haul. I knew it from the first time I laid my eyes on him when he picked me up for our blind date our Senior year in High School. I knew it when he smacked my butt like a football player instead of giving me a kiss goodnight when he dropped me off from our second date. And the deal was cinched on our third date when he got me laughing really really hard....and once you find the guy that makes you laugh so hard you pee yourself, you snatch him up and keep him forever.....or risk having some guy running around telling his friends about the psycho he dated who couldn't control her bladder. I chose A.

So here's a big Happy Fathers Day to all of those men in our lives who never cease to amaze us all year round. And never forget how much we love you every single day, not only during your good moments, but even as we see you reach around to pull your cheeks apart.....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Invasion of the Rednecks

Our family's favorite place in the whole world is Hilton Head Island. We began vacationing there when Z was four and A was two and it was love at first sight. This year is my family's tenth trip to the island and it marks our first trip since I began my blog. So here, in diary form, is what a week looks like when our family of rednecks goes on vacation to an upscale resort. I'm sure it's quite a culture shock.....for them.

Departing our home with our mini van packed with as little as humanly possible. Strictly necessities. That means bathing suits and snacks. The kids know this is their final chance to go to the bathroom because our van doesn't stop until it needs gas. If you've gotta go, you've gotta wait....we stop for nothing.

Breakfast at IHop with a friend from youth group days from a church we attended together as teenagers. (She and I count ourselves lucky that we survived and I have no doubt the church counts itself lucky that we're gone.) She lives in North Carolina and this was our second annual breakfast with her family. A very fun time and well worth the stop in our trip. 9am: Back on the road, cruise control set at eighty, and we're on the home stretch. Hilton Head Island or bust! 11am: Moving C's car seat to the very back seat might not have been the best idea. Going eighty mph in the daylight with a belly full of pancakes isn't a good combination and vomiting has begun....pass back a Walmart bag because this van ain't stoppin.....Noon: I tried to convince the security guard that I'm really a smart person after a minor snaffoo with the front gate. I don't think he's buying it. 1pm: We've been in our condo for less than an hour and the kids have already mistaken their bathmat for a hand towel. 1:05pm: So has my husband. (Sigh) I live with animals. 1:30pm: Z just found two plastic Easter eggs full of candy hidden in our condo. I was surprised and asked him how long he thinks they've been there. He replied, "I'm not sure, but I'd have to guess since Easter." (Smart***.) 2pm: Beach! This is C's fourth beach vacation in her three years of life and she decided that this is the year she hates sand. (Unlike the year we cruised to Jamaica two years ago when she ate it by the handfuls. My how things change.) 7pm: After our traditional ordering of the pizza, we headed to the pool. It didn't take my boys long to realize that when they straddled over the two fountains that were streaming into the toddler pool, it looked like they were peeing. (So of course they proceeded to try out lots of different poses. Would you expect any less?) 11pm: We're ready to crash! Aaaahhhh.....Home Sweet Hilton Head......

I asked A if she'd like to join me on a fast walk on the beach for some exercise. 9:45am: She informed me that it wasn't very 'fast.' (We'll just see if she gets any sunblock today, won't we?) 3pm: After completely water logging ourselves at the beach and pool, it's time for a cookout, cornhole, and playground before heading to Harbour Town, one of our favorite traditions. 7:30pm: Our traditional climb to the top of the lighthouse! Hot, crowded, narrow, steep, 110 steps....and I'm claustrophobic.....so once again, my apologies to anyone I may have shoved and/or trampled on my way to the top....or bottom. 8pm: We're at the top of the lighthouse and completely hogging the live web cam as we call all of our family members so that they can see us in Hilton Head. We can only assume they're thrilled to put their lives on hold, go to their computer, and watch us wave at them. 9pm: Coligny Plaza to order our favorite treat. The Chocolate Fudge Brownie Feast! A huge brownie covered in four scoops of ice cream, tons of hot fudge, piles of whipped cream, sprinkled with nuts (or Reese Cups if you're my husband), and topped with a cherry. We order one for my husband and A to share and another one for K & me. C eats from both and Z sits there drinking a normal size root beer float while pretending not to be related to us. Then we devour those suckers while ignoring the stares from strangers....and Z. 10:05pm: We found out the hard way that the pool closes at 10pm and that it's non-negotiable. PS. The security guard still isn't amused with us. No surprise there since we rarely get along with the 'special' personality it takes to be a gung ho security guard that I suspect comes from their deep rooted IN-security from some childhood trauma. I wish them well with their therapist. 11pm: Two flashlights + six family members = twenty minutes of non-stop fighting during a night walk along the beach. (Where's a security guard when you actually need one?)

You'd think the beautiful view out the gym window would take away the pain of the elliptical workout.....you'd be wrong. 11am: Unbelievable huge waves today!!! We weren't real surprised to see our lifeguard heading our direction. That usually happens at least once a year and since we had C out in ten foot waves in her inflatable whale, we kind of expected it. But when I asked him if we were doing something wrong, I was surprised when he said, "No, I just wanted to try these rad waves!" I resisted the urge to use words like, "Righteous, dude, and gnarly." Instead I said, "Totally" and gave him the hang ten sign. (All credit for my extensive surfer lingo goes to Crush on 'Finding Nemo.') But the waves were a little too 'rad' for me. My first clue was when I was thrown down face first and realized my boobs were not only exposed but dragging behind me in the sand. I figured I should get out before a small child tried to use one as a flotation device. 5:45: I ate a column of oreos by myself and spent an hour bonding with the bathroom. 8pm: We rode for two hours on a twelve mile bike ride. We could have gone faster but my husband kept jumping off his bike and running onto the golf course to gather stray balls. 9pm: At the pool! 9:15pm: K: "I need my goggles for the hot tub quick!!!!" (Uh oh......)

While having my coffee a large frog hopped by my chair....in the living room!!! (Remind me, is it good luck or bad luck when a frog crosses your path?) 8:20am: Time to leave for my massage! (This is technically 'work' for me. It's called research, people.) 9:45am: Forty-five minutes into my ninety minute massage I was pulled from the depths of my semi-conscious state by the sounds of a bird whistle. I'm not a fan of nature sounds during a relaxing massage so I was immediately annoyed with his c.d. Then I noticed that the strange bird call perfectly coincided with each of my exhales. I was finally forced to face the embarrassing realization that the bird sound was coming out of my own nose. (Crap, is that embarrassing.) 10:45am: Security gate debacle #2 but this time I'm not even tempted to convince the 'In-security' guard that I'm super smart in real life. After all, I'm not the one who needs the therapist. (Please refrain from commenting if you disagree.) 12:15pm: While sitting on the beach, C announced that her ear hurts. 1:15pm: Ten trips to HH and we're just now seeing the inside of their Urgent Care. (Not bad!) 3pm: Amoxicillin and drops are prescribed. (FYI: It's true when they say people move at a slower pace in the South. Do they not realize that we're on vacation?!? So hurry up for crying out loud!!!!) 6pm: On our way to the Hilton Head Diner for a cheeseburger that my husband had last year and he's been talking about it ever since. 7:30pm: Slow service with a sub-standard waitress and when my 'deluxe' cheeseburger was delivered to me plain I was a little perturbed. I asked her where all of my toppings were and she informed me that you only get toppings when you order fries. (Huh?!?) I turned to shoot her my very best 'WTF face' when my husband suddenly apologized to her because of my misunderstanding. (And that's when the fight started......) Note to self: The next time a frog crosses my path, go back to bed immediately.

10am - 12pm:
I parked my beach chair in the waves while my family slept in. Heavenly! 4pm: Z successfully passed his driving test before vacation, therefore our family now has three licensed drivers. In the interest of confidentiality, no names will be used in this portion of my entry. We have drivers #1, #2, and #3.....and today, driver #1 accidentally hit a guy riding a bike as driver #2 chatted on the cell phone in the passenger seat. Okay, technically #1 just barely bumped the guy's back bike tire. No injury, no damages, but that didn't seem to make the bike rider feel any better about it. Driver #1 waved an apology but the guy on the bike put his shocked and angry face up to #1's window. Driver #2 continued their phone conversation and tried desperately to avoid eye contact with the angry face in the window. Driver #1 explained, "I said I was sorry, I don't know what else you want from me" and drove away. (Yet another Hilton Head first because shockingly we've never in our our ten years hit anyone on a bike. So much for that record. Also in the interest of privacy, I won't tell you which driver # peed their pants from laughing so hard afterward. 7pm: Riding our bikes to McDonalds for milkshakes. (Let's hope for Driver #1's sake that Karma is a myth.)

**This clearly calls for a vote. What do you think? Who hit the bike rider? Go to the top right under the picture of the brownie feast if you'd like to take a guess**

10am - 4pm:
Typical day....Beach followed by the pool. (A quick soapbox moment if you don't mind: Kids need a vacation too! So will the over zealous dad who was pacing around the pool all afternoon with a notebook as his three young daughters, sporting professional swimming goggles, did continuous laps of the butterfly stroke and practiced flip turns, please just let them play and have fun?!?! Better yet, get in and play with them! And the same goes for the mom forcing her son to practice speaking French by the pool. Not everything has to be educational! Thank you. Soapbox removed.) 7pm: This evening on our bike ride we noticed a 'No Trespassing' sign on the golf course. Hmmm....wonder if that's new? 9:30pm: I told a young teenager in the hot tub that she looks just like the actress who played 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch.' She seemed pleased until K followed it up with, "You look like the witch on 'Bewitched' too." (For future reference, one comparison to a witch can be a compliment, two comparisons to a witch has the potential to give a young girl a complex.) So when Z jokingly said, "Gee, why don't we tell her she looks like the witch off 'The Wizard of Oz' while we're at it," I decided we should go back to the room before we inflict further damage.

Our last day! We're a little sad but a little excited to get back home. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the beach and pool and the rest of the day cleaning, packing up, and taking some final pictures. With exception of Z tossing a Frisbee up onto someone's third floor balcony and taking out a solar light with a football, it's been an uneventful day. (Better go knock on some wood now.) We'll end our vacation with our traditional stop at Golden Corral and a final souvenir stop before beginning our night drive back home. 7pm: Driving across the bridge. We had a wonderful week but it's time for us to go back where we came from.....and the island rejoiced.