As I was raking leaves a few weeks ago, I found a strange mushroom in our lawn. It was almost a foot tall and grey. I tapped it. It was concrete. I asked my wife and daughters about it, but nobody knew anything.

It is too heavy to be blown in from tropical storm Irene. Where did it come from? We were tempted to call it a miracle. But we normally reserve that for apparitions on a piece of toast. We concluded it was a mystery.

Over the last few years, we have had more than our share of unsolved mysteries in our home.

The dead squirrel mystery

My wife spotted a dead squirrel in our back yard, resting at the base of our tulip tree. She asked me to clean it up. The next day she thanked me for removing the dead squirrel. I had completely forgotten. I had done nothing. The dead squirrel had moved itself. I went into the back yard and couldn't find the squirrel anywhere.

My daughter, Caroline, was in second grade. She imagined that the dead squirrel had gotten up and walked away. She told us of adventures that the dead squirrel could have gone on.

At the time, she had another imaginary character that she was obsessed with named Chickey. Soon she told stories of "Chickey and the Dead Squirrel." They became superheroes. They fought crime, solved mysteries and together went on amazing road trips. For about six months, visitors to our house were regaled with tales of their exploits.

The dishwasher mystery

Someone in our home put dishwashing detergent made for hand-washing dishes into the dishwasher, causing bubbles to spill out of the sides and cover the floor. Everyone denied it. Thank goodness Julia had a finger printing kit from Christmas. (We give unusual gifts , and she asked for it.)

On the bottle of liquid soap, we were able to find only one usable finger print: My wife Laura's. When confronted, she denied it. She claims that her fingerprints were on the bottle since she washes the most dishes. We suspect she "doth protest too much." Officially it is an unsolved case, but we know we have our perp.

The white-fox mystery

My wife was up late one night and spotted a white fox on the lawn. It really shocked her. She even woke me up. The white fox was gone by the time I got downstairs.

At that late hour, she started Googling and discovered that in some Asian cultures, seeing a white fox meant a dead relative was trying to reach out to you. I tried to point out that we were not in Asia, and I wanted to go back to sleep. We did have Thai food for dinner, and maybe it was not agreeing with her.

A few weeks, later I saw a magnificent large white cat on our street. Laura insisted her vision was not a cat. She maintains she knows the difference between a cat and an Asian ghost fox.

The holiday-tree mystery

Years ago, we placed our dried out holiday tree at the curb for collection after the New Year, as did our neighbors. The trees all disappeared, and I thought nothing of it. About a week later our tree was back along with all the neighbors' trees. They were back on the curb from whence they had disappeared.

The neighborhood was stumped, until we talked to The Cain Brothers.

They were about six and nine years old, and they had wanted their own private forest. So they walked through the neighborhood with a wagon and collected all the trees and, via the hatchway, put them in the unfinished part of their basement.

They spent a few happy days in their forest until their mom discovered the dry fire hazard in the basement. She did not share their vision. She sent them back around the neighborhood returning the trees.

Mysteries solved and not

There were also many short-lived mysteries. My wife thought she saw a platypus by the roadside. It was a sandbag. My daughter thought they saw a Chupacabra (a mythical creature that sucks the blood of goats). It was a coyote.

But this mushroom thing has got me stumped. I wonder how expensive it would be to hire Chickey and the dead squirrel to solve this for us?

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at: