Friday, February 25, 2011

Girl drama!

As a mom of three girls I should be used to the drama, right? I mean, our girls fight all the time. Our house is one big ball of girl drama with a dog and a dad mixed into it.

But today the girl drama came to our girl scout troop. One girl was particularly upset, and rightly so. Other girls chimed in.

Some of the drama was strictly 10-year-old drama. Some of the drama wasn't. There were tears. Accusations. Assumptions. Anger. Laughter. And then more tears. We had to call in reinforcements. I'm not sure it helped. I hope it did.

I left the meeting exhausted. That raw feeling is still there. Enough of the drama!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just say no.

Jennifer Huffman
Napa Valley Register
Monday, February 21, 2011 12:00 am

I’m a reporter. I’m supposed to pay attention to what’s going on in my world. But did I know that the house next door to us had become a full-on marijuana factory? Nope.

It all started with a knock at the front door. A law enforcement agent, showing his official ID, informed us that our neighborhood was under surveillance.

Under WHAT?, my husband said.

Have you noticed anything funny going on at the house next door? The officer asked. People coming or going, lights left on all night or strong odors?

We think your neighbors have turned the house next to you into a marijuana grow house, he said.

A drug house, I said. Great. It’s hard enough to tell kids to “just say no” to drugs. Now we were living next to the drugs. What was next, a meth lab in the basement? Fields of poppies in the backyard?

Come to think of it, I had noticed a skunky smell in the air in recent weeks. But I figured it really was a skunk. I didn’t realize that marijuana plants smell like skunk. I may be from Northern California, but I am not a pot plant connoisseur.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the house next door. It had been more than a year since the original owners moved out and we’d hardly noticed our new neighbors since then. The lawn was mostly mowed, and the tenants kept to themselves.

Here’s how clueless we were. On one side of the drug house lives me, a journalist. On the other side of the drug house lives yet another journalist. You’d think if anyone would know what was going on in the neighborhood, it would be two so-called professional reporters. But did we notice the house in between us had been turned into a marijuana factory? Nope. Not us.

Turns out it was the neighborhood kids that had the first inkling of something goofy at the marijuana mystery house.

After the agent visited us, we gathered the girls around.

There’s something funny going on next door, we told them. We don’t really know what’s up yet, but it’s best to avoid playing in the next-door driveway for now.

No problem, they said. We already saw the camera.

The WHAT? There’s a camera on the house?

Yeah, they said. It’s attached to the garage and pointing at the front door. It’s been there for a long time, they said.

We were under surveillance by the police and the pot growers? Jeez, maybe I should call in the IRS as well.

After the agent left, I googled “suburban marijuana grow house.” Turns out that taking over a quiet tract home in the suburbs was the new hallmark of pot-growing gangsters. They move caretakers into the empty homes, cover all the windows, bring in a bunch of grow lights, and start watering little marijuana seeds.

We had no idea, said one neighbor in Sacramento living next door to a grow house.

I knew the feeling.

Weeks went by. Every time I came home, I avoided even looking at the house, for fear the supposed drug lords would catch me glancing their way and decided Ms. Nosy Neighbor needed to be “taken care of.”

One night while I was at the grocery store my husband texted me.

Don’t come home, he said. Agents and cars blocking the streets. They’re raiding the house.

I was missing the grow house raid! I’ll be right there, I texted. Take pictures!

Arriving home, I saw the pot house was filled with officers and agents. The window blinds were drawn up and the lights were on.

Over the past weeks I had imagined the home filled with a forest of pot plants with water hoses and watering spouts everywhere. But when we finally could see into the house, there wasn’t a pot plant in sight.

Was the drug bust a bust?

Turns out, no. About an hour later, the evidence finally appeared. Tall, leafy plants were piled into trucks and carted away. A PG&E truck pried the meter off the outside of the house and drove away. All that was left was a giant-screen TV sitting all alone in an empty living room.

Months later, the home was gutted, remodeled and sold to a very nice new family.

Did you hear about the pot? We asked them when we met them.

Oh yes, they said.

Did you find anything funny left over in the house?

No, they said. Only a bunch of Christmas decorations in the attic. We used them to decorate the lawn.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's munch time.

Napa Valley Register | Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011

The 6-foot-tall pallet of Thin Mints began to wobble slightly as it was wheeled off the back of a 24-foot truck Wednesday morning. A cry of alarm rose from a small group of women as they watched the tower of cookies shimmy, but after a breathtaking moment the giant stack stabilized.

Standing calmly nearby, Nancy Dempsey surveyed the drivers as they unloaded 35 pallets of cookies at the former Salvation Army store on Main Street. Dempsey is the cookie manager for 30 Napa Girl Scout troops. It’s her job to make sure the cookies arrive in one piece as the annual Girl Scout cookie sale begins in Napa.

That’s right, it’s cookie time.

(to read the rest of this story, visit

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


You know you're overwhelmed when the idea of going to bed at 7:00pm sounds like a really good idea. Yeah, I'm overwhelmed. So is every other mom in America. Or the world for that part. Our days never end. We run from one errand to another. We never finish our "To Do" list. There's always something that needs picking up, cleaning or hemming. Someone has a book report. Someone lost her house key. Someone needs a ride.
Well, here's a news flash people: "Someone" needs a break!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Eating it up.

Jennifer Huffman
Napa Valley Register

February 7, 2011

I know it’s normal for kids to eat and drink a lot when they’re growing, but with the amount of food our girls are putting away, it’s like some engine has been cranked into high gear inside their little bodies. Either that or they’re hoarding food and secretly feeding a bunch of friends hidden in their bedroom closets.

It used to be that we could get by with one gallon of milk a week at home. As they got older, we inched up closer to two gallons. But last week one of the girls intercepted me when I was making the grocery list.

Can you buy three gallons so we don’t run out by Friday night?, she said.

Three gallons! Were they joking? For that amount of milk, it might be cheaper for us to buy our own cow and stash her in the backyard. I could make the girls get out there and milk her every morning. I don’t think the neighbors would mind, especially if I slipped them some fresh cream now and then.

The girls aren’t just devouring milk. They’re after the bread too. I usually buy the longest loaf I can find, but even that has been disappearing within three or four days around our house. When five people eat two pieces of toast each for breakfast, or make sandwiches for lunch, you get the picture. Frugal mom insists we eat the end pieces as well, although it seems like I’m the one who always ends up with the heel.

Then there’s butter. Now I know we all like a little butter on our toast or rolls, but these girls have turned into butter-aholics. We must go through a pound of butter a week. Butter on toast, butter on corn, butter on pasta, butter on pancakes. Another good reason to get that cow set up in the backyard. Each girl could take turns churning butter for the week after she gets her homework done. I’m sure we could incorporate our backyard dairy farming operation into some kind of extra credit at school.

It’s gotten to the point where if I buy something for a potluck at work or special recipe, I better put a note on that item (“MOM’S — DO NOT EAT”) or it very well could be gone by the time I need it. Certain Huffman girls who like eggs for breakfast have taken to writing their names on the eggs in the fridge, as if to “reserve” them or prevent another sister from eating “her” egg.

They eat so much, and so fast, that often times I’ll reach for a box of something in the pantry, only to find it empty, as if the person before me was so hungry that she barely had time to grab the last granola bar before passing out from starvation and couldn’t possibly take the time to throw away the empty box.

The constant consumption has reached other parts of the household as well, like shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. Seems like every week one is asking for more shampoo, or insists that her tube of toothpaste is used up. Sometimes I can squeeze another week’s worth of suds out of the product, but most of the time, it really is all gone. They only have three heads of hair, and they only take one shower each per day, how much shampoo and conditioner do they need?

On movie night, out comes the microwave popcorn. Whereas one or two bags of popcorn on a Friday night used to be the norm, these days we can pop up to five bags. By the time all that popping is done, I have to take out the trash, which is filled up with all those deflated popcorn bags.

And we definitely create more than a fair amount of trash each week. The other morning on the way to school on garbage day, I noticed our neighbors had rolled out the smallest size gray trashcan. I couldn’t help but admire it. So slim. So compact. So easy to wheel to the curb.

Not at our house. We have the big monster can. And it gets filled up, every week. Last week I forgot to take out our trash on garbage day and almost wept at the thought of squeezing another week’s worth of trash into the already full can. There’s no way.

I know I should count my blessings. We’re only talking about three average-sized girls. It could be a lot worse.

We could have three boys.

Saturday, February 05, 2011