How am I still alive?

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Looking back on my childhood, I often wonder two things:

Was my mom smoking crack while I was growing up?

How did I survive my childhood?

For example:

I was encouraged to eat raw ground beef.

My Life and Kids Mom Shaming

They’d buy it from the meat market, bring it home, and serve it to me on a spoon with salt and pepper.

On that same note, my mom kept hotdogs in the freezer.
These were fair game for snacks at any time of the day – we’d snap one off, hold it in a paper towel and eat it uncooked and frozen. She didn’t even cook them for us – so she certainly didn’t take the time to cut them up for us.

She offered to buy me some love with a footlong.
You can read more about that here.

They bought my brother a bb gun.

My Life and Kids Mom Shaming

I was shot repeatedly.

One of our games was to wait until my mom hung the sheets out on the clothesline. I would run back and forth behind the sheets, and my brother would try to shoot me. To this day, most of my mom’s sheets have perfectly round holes in them from his bb gun – and just so you know – it hurts to get shot even if it goes through sheets first.

We lived on a highway.
The speed limit was 55 miles per hour with a double yellow line. In elementary school, I was allowed to walk alone to my grandparents’ house – about a mile away.

On the highway.

Without sidewalks.

I didn’t even have to call when I arrived.

I was allowed to eat Crisco straight out of the can.
There’s not much more to say about that.

There was no seat for me in the car.
We took several long roadtrips with extended family while I was growing up. We had a 7-seater suburban, but on more than one 12-hour roadtrip, there was no seat for me.


My official seat was on the floor between the two bucket seats in the middle row. My mom would give me blankets and pillows, and that was that.

I was often drugged on roadtrips.

My Life and Kids Mom Shaming

They called it the “recipe.” You can read more it here.

And more on roadtrips…
We used to go camping in the upper peninsula of Michigan every summer. And to get there, my brother and I would ride in the bed of my dad’s pickup truck. There was a cap on it, but that was it.

My dad would tie a rope down the center of the pickup truck to keep the cap door closed and also so that my brother and I would stay on our side of the truck. My mom would toss in our sleeping bags, some games and our pillows.

There wasn’t even a window looking into the cab of the truck, and we certainly didn’t have cell phones to chat back and forth. So we created a system to make sure everyone was alright.

One knock meant that we were just saying Hi.

Two knocks meant that there was a police officer, and we needed to lay down and be still.

Three knocks meant that we needed to go to the bathroom.

Four knocks meant that we needed to eat.

She screamed at me in 1984
The windows rattled. And she had to go to the doctor afterwards. You can read more about that here.

See what I mean? I think we’re all pretty lucky that I lived to tell about this!


  1. Kristy

    October 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

    hahahaha!!!! OMGSH.. I also ate “seasoned” raw ground meat as a kid, encouraged by my mom.. OH the HORROR of it now!
    We had a station wagon growing up and all of our road trips were spent with the seats folded down and blankets and pillows thrown in the back, where we would slide around constantly. We even had a game where mom would gun it so we’d shoot to the back, then slam on the breaks so we’d go flying forward! It was a BLAST.. but really… it’s a wonder we all survived never being harnessed it.

    Your child hood sounds alot like mine! At one point I was dared to touch an electric fence (on a farm)… Think I did it??? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Katie

    October 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

    OKAY, SERIOUSLY!!!!!! Your life sounds like a Tuff Mudder contest ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am literally peeing in my pants while falling off my chair laughing…. THIS IS SO AWESOME! Every part is my favorite part.

  3. Katie

    October 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

    ps. I love your mom and dad!

  4. Robin Jingjit

    October 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I feel like at least half of these were true for me, too. We didn’t freeze our hotdogs, but “raw hotdogs” (ie cold from the fridge) were a normal snack for us, too. Weird.

    When my family of 5 moved from Alaska to the lower 48, we drove/camped our way down the Alcan highway for 2 weeks in a regular pickup truck. My sister and I didn’t have seats. The whole time. We rode in the back with a shell on (with a broken door like yours. Wait… is this you, Corey?)

  5. The Dose of Reality

    October 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I can’t stop laughing!

    We never used seatbelts and bike helmets didn’t exist. I often left the house in the morning on a summer day and my mom never saw me until dinner time. She had no idea where I was at all! We played “King of the Hill” on top of a huge metal dumpster and pushed each other off to the pavement…FOR FUN. We didn’t eat Crisco…but we did eat butter sticks. Oh, I also sat in my dad’s lap during car rips and “drove”.

    How did we all make it to adulthood????

  6. Erin K

    October 16, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I feed my kids raw hot dogs to this day.

    And I think raw ground beef was less dangerous then. I hear a lot of folks like it. I can’t even try.

    Your childhood sounds awesome actually. I wish times were that way now sometimes. (although I do like carseats)

  7. Shelly

    October 16, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Ahhh, this brought back so many fond childhood memories. Like the time I was in bed sick with a cold, and my brother walked in with his BB gun and said “Hey, let’s see if this hurts” and proceeded to shoot me in the leg, thankfully through the covers. Hey guess what, IT HURT! To this day I have a large dent on my upper right thigh from that darn BB. (Yes, I was the little sister and was constant prey for my brother.)

    Cold hotdogs. When I was around 4-5 years old, a family friend would occasionally watch. “No Mom! PLEASE don’t make me go to Aunt Joyce’s house!” Aunt Joyce thought the idea of a snack was to snag a cold hotdog from fridge and hand it over like she just gave me a piece of pizza. She never even washed the hotdog slime off the outside. To this day if I make hotdogs, I get the willies when I have to pull them from the package.

    Road trips. We often went to PA to see family, and I think it was about 4 hours in the car. Dad put the seats down and loaded up the sleeping bags. And it was on. My brother and I used to wrestle non-stop. It was from these trips that I added the phrase “If I have to stop this car…” to my vocabulary.

    I think my Dad wishes he had known about the recipe…

    And your Mom’s response? Priceless.

  8. Donna M.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Surely you also got to ride your bike, without a helmet, on that highway. We were allowed to do that so we could search for soda bottles to cash in. My parents had an old “hippie van” with only 2 seats. The 5 of us kids sat on the floor or on lawn chairs that would tip over whenever they turned a corner. Also, one word, Dramamine. Just make sure you don’t use the non-drowsy formula. Makes for a very peaceful trip. You can always tell people it’s cause they get car sick.

  9. Janine Huldie

    October 16, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Anna, this was great and I too am surprised many days I lived to tell my tale too. We never had car seats and also set in the front seat in the middle of two bucket seats traveling in our car as a child and that was seriously one of the many things about your post that I could indeed relate to!!

  10. Toulouse

    October 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Ummm, yeah. I used to get dropped off at the pool for swim practice at 7am in the summer and then was not expected home until it got dark. No one even wanted me to call. For 12 hours. And I was 10. How are we still alive, indeed.

  11. Lisa

    October 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I like medium rare steaks but raw ground beef? I think I just threw up a little.

  12. imklvr

    October 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Anna, Anna, Anna. What am I gonna do with you? The dollar signs are just flying out the window. But this post did give me a thought. Maybe some of these commenters would like to collaborate on a book! Make it twice as big, twice as fast! Ooop…the dollar signs are flying back in!

    Hilarious! Count me in as one who survived! And I lived in the country…6 miles to the nearest store. Snakes and such around. ‘Hunted’ each other with the neighbor. Ouch. He could shoot me 6 times in the time it took me to cock my ‘rifle’. Swimming in the irrigation ditch, complete with a pretty good current and no life guard. Yep, electric fences too! Ahhhh…the good ol’ days. Thanks, girl, for the laugh!

  13. Pam

    October 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    LOL “You can always tell people it’s cause they get car sick”

  14. cyndy

    October 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    This is HILARIOUS! Except the raw ground beef part- THAT is nauseating!!

  15. sparkling74

    October 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I never ate raw hamburger but my mother always told us that she did when she was a kid. NO way was I doing that. We didn’t freeze hot dogs but we ate them right out of the refrigerator without cooking them. Now I know they are cooked first, so it’s not like it’s totally raw, just not plump. My sister used to STAND on the floor of t he back seat and hold on to the front seat. She actually fell alseep like that once. And who can forget “the way back”? Once we were old enough to be out of car seats, which must have been about 2 years old back then, we were allowed to sit in the way back. Once, our family of 5 and another family of 5 rode in their van to the beach. Like 2 hours away. All 10 of us in a van that had 4 bucket seats and a couch. We drove from Annapolis into DC to go to the zoo in my dad’s pickup with my parents, me and my sister and cousin. At least 2 of us had to sit in the bed– without a cap or anything to hold on to. It was much colder than I expected!!

    Imagine if we did any of that stuff nowadays. Jail time for everyone.

  16. Mom

    October 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Okay – I’ve been quiet all day….and I have to object to the raw ground beef comment. That wasn’t me – that was Grandpa Lew! Yes, I do/did eat cold hotdogs – and I realize now looking back – that letting Nick try and shoot you through the sheets on the line wasn’t the smartest decision – but I never dreamed those BB’s would go through or that he would even hit you – he didn’t have the best aim afterall.
    I could go on but I won’t – you are welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Mom

    October 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I do think a book would be such fun – I would even volunteer to babysit while she writes for free…especially since she is getting a new bed for “Yiayia and Papa’s room” which is probably a whole other chapter! I appreciate you encouraging her ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lets meet for coffee!

  18. imklvr

    October 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I’d love to do coffee! When you comin’ to Arizona? (hehe…isn’t this fun?)

  19. Robin @ Pink Dryer Lint

    October 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Entirely brilliant because it’s so fabulously true!

  20. Mya

    October 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I found your blog from ‘So I Married A Craft Blogger’ and I have to say you are fricken hilarious, you had me in tears laughing. Keep up the great work!!

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  24. melissa Cuevas

    March 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

    OMG you reminded me of my child hood lol and I thought this was only Latin Ghetto families who lived like this. Thanks for sharing this took me back and now we are so over protective with our own but thanks to how we grew up we were fearless lls thanks

  25. Sue

    March 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Ok, seriously, you are killing me…my family actually thinks I’m nuts. Ok, they know I’m nuts, they just ignore it until I read something funny like this post, laugh until I cry and hyperventilate, and then they ask if I’m ok.

    Anyhow, I remember the days of eating raw dog (spiced raw ground beef served on crackers at parties) and laying in the back window of my grandparents car on road trips with them and my aunts because I, like you, did not have a seat.

    How did we survive?

  26. Sue

    March 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Oh, and I LIVE in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so riding around in the back of pickup truck with just a cap over the top is very familiar, too. As is riding in the back of said pickup truck, minus the cap but plus a Christmas tree way bigger than will fit in our house on the way home from picking out the tree. You know, just in case the tree falls out. Like my 12 yr old body is going to keep a 14 foot tree IN the truck.

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  28. anniemh20

    May 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I remember riding in my Dad’s work truck with my mom and him… There were only two seats then a partition before there were all manner of tile saws and such in the trunk. Where did I sit, you ask? Well… in my mom’s lap until I was big enough to sit on the upside down bucket between the seats. Yeah, and I bought new a new car seat for my third child because the old one expired… hahaha

  29. Suzanne

    July 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I have this page bookmarked, because I use it as a pick-me-up at work! I think I’ve read this and forwarded it about 10 times in the last 30 days! Also, I’m pretty sure this was standard operating procedure in the 70’s and early 80’s. I recall eating raw ground beef, frozen hot dogs, sleeping on the floor of the car. Seriously?! I wonder if my parents self-medicated on car rides, because the best part of a carseat is keeping my kid from moving around and all hell breaking loose!

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  33. Natalie

    March 24, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Um, if you weren’t shot at by your brother with a BB gun, it’s my opinion that your childhood was shit. I was shot MULTIPLE times, once in close-range, indoors, in the butt. No bueno.

    Also, my parents drove a 67′ corvette with two bucket seats in the front and just a flat “area” that pointed into a sort of triangle in the back. That was my coveted seat.
    When we weren’t in the death trap, my dad drove a pickup as well, which we rode in the back of. Except there was no cap, but we most certainly were told to lay down if we saw any po-po or drove by their station!

    Thanks for the memories!

  34. Kari

    March 24, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Both my husband and I grew up on raw beef and onions (now affectionately called cannibal sandwiches by us both). Seat belts in cars? They were there, and boy did they make an annoying sound when they’d flap around when we drove on the interstate. Few people wore them! They were fun to try and lasso the arm or reach around and buckle in a dozing sibling. Although it never ended well as I couldn’t run away after the loud click woke my older brother. My weekends were spent on my grandparents’ dairy farm. I drank unpasteurized milk for years.

  35. Birute Efe

    March 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

    You should definitely think of a book or maybe a stand up comedy. Your posts nail every time. Talking about childhood, I remember 1 thing that makes me feel lucky to be alive and write this. When I was 5 my mother decided to teach me how to swim. She put me in the small boat, took us to the middle of the lake (it’s huge) and dropped me in. Oh, and she screamed: swimmmmm! I did learn how to swim but had trust issues with her for a while ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. Lisa R. Petty

    March 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I wonder how I survived, too. So many stories I could tell! That is why I am writing a memoir called Making People Cringe. I’m sure my son will write one some day, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Thersea

    March 24, 2014 at 10:05 am

    This is so similar to my own childhood, except we had a station wagon where we would all just roll around in the back of it with no seat belts or seats. There were many a summer trip to the lake in the back of pick up trucks with no shell or cap roofs, we roamed the roads behind our house on foot and on bikes while my mom took a nap in the afternoons. Visited our neighbors who were basically strangers until we knocked on their door and asked to use their bathroom. lol Lawd, how we weren’t all abducted or run over I’ll never know

  38. My Special Kind of Crazy

    March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Oh, this brings back memories! We used to ride in the cab of my grandfather’s truck and he would actually swerve and go over bumps on purpose to see how much we’d get flung around in the back. We thought it was great. My grandparents would also buy us butt loads of bottle rockets and other very dangerous and explosive fireworks at 4th of July and my brother, my cousin and I used to get into “bottle rocket” fights. We’d stand at the end of the driveway and light, then throw, bottle rockets at each other. I actually have a scar on my thigh where one hit me. My grandpa would be sitting in the porch swing, “Oh, that was a good throw! Whoops, almost got her there!” Yes, my parents would leave us with this level of supervision every summer for 2 weeks. Not that they were much better. When we were at the beach they’d be sitting in a circle with their friends and told us not to “interrupt the circle” and that if we needed anything that ‘s what lifeguards were for.

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