That Time At TJ Maxx

A few weeks ago Scott said, “Listen, I love the blog and I love reading what you write.  But… you might want to lay off your Mom stories just a bit.  It’s funny to us, but people might think too much is… I don’t know… not nice.”  Huh.  Ok.  While she did offer to be my foil, it’s never my intention to be ‘not nice’.  Advice accepted.  I love you, Mom.

But then… she drops this next one on me and I would be eschewing my civic duty if I didn’t share it.  I can’t keep this stuff to myself.  It’s too funny.

In a rare moment of pure adult bliss, Scott had the kids at home and Mom and I were in TJ Maxx working on Christmas.  It was awesome.  I unashamedly spent 10 minutes in the spice aisle comparing bags of a pink Himalayan salt.  No one was crying or whining or touching things.  I was having a moment.

Mom casually wandered up behind me.

“Do you remember that time we were going through Colombian immigration on our way home from Peru and I got stopped because the drug dog alerted?”  It took me a minute to look back through my memories.  “Yes… yup I do.  Oh that was annoying, wasn’t it?!”  Continuing the walk down memory lane, “Sometimes I really miss Colombia.  We made so many memories down there.”

Pause.  Pause.  Eyes narrow.  “Mom, why are we talking about that time with the drug dog?”

“Ummmmm… ”  It’s not what she said, it was how she said it.

“Do you remember in Peru how we had to drink that tea so we wouldn’t get altitude sickness?”  Me, “Yes.”  Of note, we didn’t HAVE to try it.  It was offered.  When in Rome… {Bogota – where we were living – is higher than Denver.  We were acclimated.  It wasn’t an issue.}

The funny thing about the leaves is that they come from the cacao plant – the unbelievable awesomeness that is the cacao plant.  Among other things, it is the source of all things chocolate and therefore should be worshipped. The leaves also alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness.  The locals chew the leaves.  The tourists drink a little light tea.  It’s in all the hotel lobbies.

The traditional method of chewing coca leaf, called acullico, consists of keeping a saliva-soaked ball of coca leaves in the mouth together with an alkaline substance that assists in extracting cocaine from the leaves. When chewed, coca acts as a mild stimulant and suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue. (

Mom, “I brought some of the leaves to make that tea back in Colombia.”

And there it was.  That was specialness behind the ‘ummmmmm’.

“Come again now? You did what?”

Tell me you didn’t bring coca leaves through the international airport in Bogota.  Mom…. no.

If you’re a regular person, you don’t need to be carrying around those leaves.  What was a nice sip of tea in Peru could have easily turned into an international incident in Colombia.  The headline: American Grannie Nabbed As South American Drug Mule.  Awesome.

What happened to the leaves?  Apparently, she threw them out as soon as we got back to our apartment.  Is there no end to this horror story?!

Me to mom, “And why am I hearing about this now?”  “Oh, I don’t know… I guess it just took awhile to get the courage up to tell you.  You can’t write about this on that blog of yours.  You know… the DEA.”

The moratorium on Mom stories is o-v-e-r.



Mom, the kids and I went shopping the other day. I took a couple of quick snaps of Grandmom’s parking job to show Syd what not to do in Driver’s Ed.  (We’re the black car.)  She didn’t want door dings.   You Maine folks are weird about your cars!!  There are tires in at least 3 spaces… and honestly, front left, I call that touching a 4th space as well.


Spent an afternoon rock climbing.  If we lived in 1 place for a while we would definitely belong to a rock climbing gym.

Going to cut down the Christmas tree:

An original:



Traci Warren