Tag Archives: full disclosure

You know you’re frazzled when…

We got back from Nebraska last night and I’ve spent the past half of a day unpacking, doing laundry, cleaning and trying my best to catch up on emails, blogs, articles and everything else.

Last night I wanted to also catch up on a show that Daryl taped for me while we were gone.  I rewound the video tape, got comfy on the couch and gave Alex a fistful of washable markers to decorate my feet to keep him busy while I watched.

Alex doesn’t really stick to feet when let loose with washable markers and Mama’s lower half.  I had mad, multicolored scribbling from my thighs down.  I also found out that “washable” is a relative term.  After 5 minutes of scrubbing with a soapy washcloth before bed last night, I decided to stay technicolored for the night.

Today I resumed my dash to catch up on things, tossing in more laundry, taking kids to the pool, cleaning the kitchen, writing articles, downloading pictures, checking on the garden and so on.

And I knew we were supposed to meet my in-laws at the Shady Drive-Inn for lunch but I somehow lost track of time until I was frantically clearing the last of our bags from the van and making sure all the kids had shoes and were loaded in.

And sure enough, as I jumped into the passenger seat, I looked down and saw these…

(Green has since been added in order to get this post published.)

Nobody can say I’m not a colorful character.  😉



Filed under the little stuff

We Are That Family

We have new neighbors across the street and I’ve spied a cute little girl who looks about four years old.  It will be nice to have more children in the neighborhood, especially since our beloved two-year-old neighbor and her parents moved away last month.

We haven’t had a chance to go over and say hi yet.  They seem nice, tidy, quiet.

Hmmm…. we’ve got one out of three going for us!

As much as I try to rein it in, we are the family with sidewalk chalk all over the front steps, wood sculptures stacked in the back yard, bikes tossed on the grass in a rush, the slip-and-slide and hose rigged to the slide in the back yard, dinosaurs hiding in the flower beds, baskets hanging from climbing trees and signs of children everywhere.

We are also the family whose kids are running around at dusk playing tag, enthusiastically calling to the bats after dark, screeching at unfair calls in made up games, having shouting matches, laughing in the sprinkler and generally always letting you know there are children about.

Yesterday, the following exchange could be heard from the front steps:

Anna:  Mom!  Alex is on your car again!

Me:  Well, get him down please.

Anna:  Jack is poking him with a broom!


We are that family.

Hopefully they’ll like us anyway.  🙂


Filed under the little stuff


When my girls were little, I sometimes came up with creative ways to occupy them when I was sick.  Between problem pregnancies and long-term illnesses, I spent a lot of time on the couch with little girls who were not the type to sit still and watch Sesame Street.

One of the ways I used to occupy them was to let them draw on the bottoms of my feet.  I’d give Victoria washable markers and she’d doodle halfway up my leg while I got to rest and not fall down or throw up for a little while.

(I still remember how idiotic I felt at the prenatal appointment when I stripped down and then realized I was decorated up to my knees in toddler art and had forgotten to wash it off!)

I still use the busywork trick.

Tuesday night, I really wanted to watch a television show.  My boys were bored so I sat Alex at the top of the couch with me and 25 Matchbox cars and Jack at the end of the couch with washable markers.

For a good twenty minutes, I lined up fire trucks and convertibles with one little boy while another enthusiastically decorated me.

On my right foot was a series of… well, I have no idea, but upside down they look a bit like a weird smiley face.  And on the left… I was orange.  Jack decided he wanted to make me an alien.

It worked.  I watched my show, the boys played and were happy (before moving on to the next busywork — even doing graffiti on Mom only works so long), and I’m pretty sure most of it was non-toxic.

And then today… I kept meaning to take a bath or jump in the shower but one thing after another happened.  And so I took a walk around the neighborhood with two little boys and decorated feet.  I drove to the lawnmower repair shop and rode along to the car repair shop to see about air conditioning.  I gardened and chased the kids outside.  I said “hi” to the passing teenagers.

All with these feet.

(Blue toenails courtesy of Annalee, who offered me a free spa treatment and pedicure the same night.)

My left foot kept scaring me throughout the day.  I’d forget about it all and then catch sight of that and think I’d missed some sort of terrible accident.

Even after I finally got that bath, my left foot is still pale orange.  And the brown heart appears to be permanent.  I’m surprisingly unconcerned, though.  It kind of makes me smile.

I can’t imagine what our townspeople must think of me.  🙂


Filed under the little stuff

Real Life

In the interest of balancing out all the perfect sounding mamas and houses out there, here’s another installment of small confessions just for you.  🙂

  1. Directly below this sign in the upstairs hallway is a doorknob-sized hole in the wall where a child opened the bathroom door a bit too enthusiastically. 
  2. I brought four pieces of dry whole wheat bread to stave off starvation when we headed out to a swimming event today.  By the time we got to the last piece as we were leaving, the kids were breaking off chunks and it was like feeding geese at the park.  With less honking and hissing, luckily.
  3. There are currently approximately 87 pounds of stuff on our dining room table.
  4. By the time Alex’s birthday came on Monday (our third birthday in four days), we were so tired that he didn’t even wear clothes for most of the day.  
  5. Most of his presents were from thrift stores.  But he loved them.  🙂

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Joyfully Imperfect

Photo by Alex, age 2 (identified by blue footie pajamas), who secretly swiped Mama's camera and replaced it after documenting cats and messes throughout the house

I’ve gone and done it again.  I’ve stumbled onto one of those blogs that has suddenly convinced me of what a total deadbeat I am.

You know the ones.  With perfect PhotoShopped children in perfect homes with handmade, organic, felted toys and descriptions of blissful daily joy.

I should know better.  I know those places don’t really exist.  I know Disney bluebirds don’t circle that mother’s head as she happily bakes bread every Saturday and her children laughingly play at her feet.

But the pictures…

But the descriptions of the days…

Suddenly I was sitting in my messy house with my children up way past when most people’s children are sleeping and feeling so inadequate.

And then I wondered if anybody ever wandered in here and accidentally got the impression that WE live that sort of life — all fairy doors and mud puddles and those ridiculous bluebirds.

So I’m here to tell you that we are not that sort of family.  This is not that sort of a house.  I am not that sort of a mother.

I try to say it fairly regularly and I try to include photos of the dirt and crumbs and stained shirts and chaos, but probably not enough.  I know how easy it is to sit on the other side of the monitor and imagine.

So once again, I’m posting a full disclosure post.

We are messy, loud, tacky, goofy and more than occasionally irritable.  The children bicker.  Their hair is usually messy.  My hair is usually messy.  My husband is half bald but the hair he has left is usually messy too.

My back yard is presently decorated with artificial Christmas tree parts that our neighbors gave us to craft with.  My six-year-old has used them to decorate the swingset, the lawn chairs, the lawn swing and several planters for “Christmas in April.”

I don’t know about those other mothers and what their homes and families are like.  I’m fairly sure they mean to inspire and not depress with those posts and pictures.

I have learned to read just enough of those blogs to get motivated — to clean the front porch, to try to bake bread in the bread machine tomorrow, to try that craft — but not too much that I start to think that I need to try to be that.

I’ve learned that I’m okay with not being perfect.  I like our loud, messy, crazy home.  Sometimes there’s yelling, sometimes there’s chaos, sometimes there are tears.  That’s real life.  But there’s also a whole lot of laughing and silliness and cuddling and talking and living the most perfect life for us.

Self portrait of the artist/thief, with runny nose


Filed under the big stuff

Latest Writing and Monkey Pictures

Just thought I’d post a few of the articles I’ve put up lately:

Join the 2010 Happiness Challenge!

Best for Babes looking for blogs to run its breastfeeding PSA

The AAP recommends no spanking and discusses why it doesn’t work

What to do instead of spanking

Parenting secrets for peaceful holidays

And have you heard of Nonja the orangutan?
She uses a camera that dispenses a raisin with every click
and the photos are automatically uploaded to
her Facebook page

She has over 70,000 fans!

and yes, I know she’s an orangutan and not a monkey
so here’s my own monkey pics.  🙂

Christmas photo outtakes!


Happy Sunday!

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Another Halloween Down

I hope you and your goblins had a happy Halloween!

Mine had a mostly grand time.

Towards the end, not so much for Alex.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a Halloween in 11 years of motherhood
that didn’t involve at least one child in this state.

Note the two pumpkins.
One is his big brother’s.
He wanted ALL the pumpkins
so Jack was a sweetie and let him carry his.

And he still looked like this.

I am not really much of a fan of Halloween.
I try to hide it but I do it badly.
The children have given me chocolate to make up for it.
I’m a big fan of chocolate
so I suppose Halloween is okay.  😉


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The Bad, the Good and the Magical

Today was one of those days.  Good grief.  I made up a giant list of things to accomplish around the house (cleaning jobs, laundry, paperwork, homeschooling, fun with each child, exercise, baking…).  I started at 7 in the morning and by 5 my house was messier than it was to begin with and the kids had about driven me to drink.

(Actually, since I had a glass of wine with dinner I suppose you could say they did drive me to drink!  And lest that sound like some sort of fancy dinner, I should mention that dinner was frozen pizza and grandma’s green beans — and the wine came with a screw cap.)

Some of the more memorable moments…

  • Alex took a black marker to Daddy’s new chair, the wall, the couch, the storage cubes, several toys and himself.  Thank goodness it was washable and came out of everything that mattered.
  • Jack spat on Anna.
  • Alex chased Jack around with a badminton racket and whacked him whenever he got close enough.
  • Victoria and Anna fought like cats and dogs.
  • A girl called Anna a freak for having sprayed pink hairspray in her hair.
  • Alex turned off the router and inadvertently disabled and reset it, leaving the house without internet and Daryl on the phone with tech support for 20 minutes to get it back — for the second time this week.
  • There was seemingly endless bickering, complaining, tattling, squabbling and general unhappiness.
  • My living room looked like it had been ransacked by the DEA and several savage dogs.  It still does.
  • I shouted more times than I can count at the whole lot of them, hubby included.

I ended up stomping off upstairs for an hour while Daddy took over.  He made dinner and I soaked in a bath and surfed the internet until I felt up to mothering again.

But despite the never-ending mayhem, there was some good today.  It took a while to be able to see it, but there was plenty….

  • I managed to get almost completely caught up on laundry, which I think last happened in March of 1999.
  • I played with the kids and they happily used their new workbooks that a friend gave us.
  • I got the back porch cleaner than it’s been in years.
  • I didn’t have to make dinner.
  • I got lots of that list done, even if it didn’t seem like it.
  • I made two loaves of bread and shared some with a very appreciative neighbor.
  • The kids and I got to meet and love on a very happy Springer Spaniel puppy.
  • Alex said a few new words and gave a lot of hugs.
  • Anna and I made each other over (I told her to make a list of 5 things she’d like to do with me today and I’d pick one) and she loved it.
  • Jack made some new friends.
  • Victoria made cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
  • And that girl was nothing but jealous.  Anna rocked pink hair.  🙂

And then there was the magical.  We all piled into the van and drove out to a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, where we leaned on the van and watched the Perseid meteor showers.  It was hours before the peak period (which is around 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.) but without the moon up yet it was easier to see the sky.  We saw about a dozen between us all, and one beautiful one that lit up the sky.

If you haven’t peeked at the wonders going on up there yet (and you’re on this side of the world), I really recommend it!  It’s magical stuff.  It sort of puts things in perspective!

Here’s to maddening kids, cheap wine, washable markers, pink hair spray, endless laundry, homemade bread, messes and meteors.  The good and the bad and the magical… it’s a package deal. 

And while it may not always seem like it, it’s a pretty great package.

Happy Thursday!

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Magical Moments– the Annotated Version

Lest things seem too perfect here, I offer up some behind the scenes not-so-magical moments from yesterday’s entry!

1.  Make mud art…

I’ve saved these plates from an estate auction (the stack was a dollar!) to use for something whimsical for years.  Shortly after taking these pictures, Alex threw a trowel at the stack that was left and broke them all.  

Also, Jack destroyed Anna’s mud art and made her cry.  I needed to come back out and mediate after I went inside and get everybody on the right track again!


2.  Put bubbles in the kiddie pool! 

We had our one year-old neighbor over the next day and Jack and Anna were both so wild I had to quietly take them each aside several times and remind them to dial it down a little — which didn’t work.  Jack splashed and flung bubbles so wildly that he soaked the neighbor (the one year-old’s dad!) a bit and I finally got frustrated and sent him inside.


3.  Make a density column

Okay, this was cool but there were still squabbles over who got to pour which layer and fussing about so-and-so jostling the table!  You can see that the colors mixed in places from it getting bumped too often.

4.  Go see a pageant (a historic play) or other outdoor show.

Jack talked the ear off the smiling lady next to him and accidentally dumped an entire bottle of water on his shirt and pants when he somehow missed his mouth!   Alex happily (and unhappily) shrieked at inappropriate moments throughout the show!  He especially loves to hoot to the horses.  Grandpa and Grandma were not fond of Alex hooting at horses.

5.  Better yet, sign up to be part of one!

The girls had plenty of moments when they had to be reminded why they signed up for all that work.  They are sad that it’s over and absolutely love being part of the pageant every year (this was their 5th season!) but see plenty of posts of mine from the past 2 months about what nights have been like while Daddy and the girls are gone until nearly midnight some nights with rehearsals and performances.  The boys and I sometimes had to be very creative to make it to bedtime!  🙂


6.  Look for shooting stars. 

In this picture, Victoria has just gotten over sobbing because Annalee has accidentally elbowed her hard in the eye!

7.  Play in the sprinkler! 

Victoria was annoyed at Anna for not playing frisbee well, Jack thought the water was too cold and Alex was scared of the whole business.

8.  Find a good hill and roll down it!

Okay, to tell you truth I don’t think a single second of unhappiness happened during hill rolling.  I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until someone rolls onto a red ant hill or over a sibling, but it’s a pretty innocent way to pass the time!  🙂


9.  Set up the tent in the back yard…

We got a little bit hot after a while and moved to the back yard, but it was windy and kept blowing the cards away!


10.  Break out the legumes! 

Other than the kids squabbling over who got to use the pan of beans, this one was pretty foolproof too.  You have to prepare to sweep up spilled beans, but it’s a small price to pay in my book!  Besides, I always tell the kids that spills are the only way my floor gets regularly swept and mopped!  🙂  It’s good for us!

You can also note the mostly naked toddler, the badminton net made out of an old hammock (plus a bamboo stake and a tent pole), the unbrushed hair, the stained tablecloth and other imperfections that crept in despite careful photographing!  🙂

I still count every one of those as magical moments though.  I tell my kids to hold on to the good parts of the day and dump the rest.  When we’re in those maddening moments, it can be pretty crazy-making.  At the end of the day, I try to let the noises and messes and fights fall away and remember the good.

It’s imperfect as all get-out, but it’s still magical.  🙂


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