Friday, September 21, 2018

Five on Friday: Rhetorical Questions in the Bathroom

Ah, the bathroom. Not just a small room for fulfilling basic bodily functions but also a tiny sanctuary. Where do we run and shut the door to make a phone call (or to be interviewed on the radio, if you're me)? Where do we sometimes pretend we're still pooping just so we can read in silence?

Of course sometimes they follow us there, but that's what locks are for.

I'm beyond those days of having a young visitor, but based on these five rhetorical questions I frequently find myself asking while I'm in the bathroom, my kids are always with me while I'm in the there. Like:

1. When oh when will they all be old enough that I'll no longer find pee on the seat or the floor?

2. Does this roll of toilet paper feel . . . damp????


4. Really little dog? The kids don't follow me in here anymore but you love me so much you willingly enter the room of your seasonal water torture?

5. Oh sweet Jesus what fresh hell is this?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Five on Friday: Bullshit Reasons Why I Couldn't Write Last Week

I could attempt to justify each one for you, as I did for myself mentally, but I think that goes against the stated theme of BULLSHIT reasons. I'm putting them here, to embarrass and remind myself that every single one of these is bullshit, I should stop trying to justify them and just WRITE.

1. The kids have a day off from school.
2. I'm tired.
3. I don't have time.
4. I have time but not enough so why bother getting started.
5. I haven't written anything new in awhile, so . . . (wanders off to find a toilet to clean)

I know.

I'm awful.

But I'm working on it . . . stay tuned for more writing, including something brandy-new on a blog that's not even mine on Sunday!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Five on Friday: It's a New (School) Year!

When my sister’s youngest son was 4-years-old, he desperately wanted to go to school with his older brothers. That big yellow bus was particularly appealing to him. “Next year,” my sister kept assuring him.

That January, after the bigger boys' holiday break, it was time for heading back to school. That morning, the littlest brother packed a backpack and lined up at the door.

“Where do you think you're going?”

“School! It’s next year now!”

Of course he hadn't realized there was a difference between next year and next year. Grown-ups are so confusing. 

Even though I'm well aware of those differences, I think they do have a lot in common. It's a new school year for us now and it's filled with bright shiny promise just like every January is. Instead of new calendars waiting to be filled with appointments and doodles, there are now new agendas longing to be filled with homework assignments and amazing doodles!

It also similarly feels like a time to make some changes, set some goals, make some resolutions if you will. This year I'm also reassessing some of our previous ones, perhaps they were too lofty or just not relevant at this stage in our lives anymore. Here are our school year resolutions, some altered old ones and some completely new:

1. I am no longer bothering with trying to get the kids to pack their lunches at night anymore. Evenings are busy with chores, homework, lounging, sports and meetings. My kids are generally easy risers and their morning routines are pretty streamlined, including making lunch for themselves at breakfast time. As long as they're packing for themselves, I'm happy. 

2.  Oh bedtime. You are so difficult to regulate after summer and then with the start of homework and sports. We're totally going to wrestle you back into submission. Soon.

3. This one is for Mom and Dad: Stay consistent in checking the kids' agendas and homework. 

4. This one's for myself: I've been working outside of the home for a year and a half now. It's time to accept the fact that even though it's only 15-20 hours a week (and they're even while the kids are at school!) it completely affects my ability to consistently make the kind of dinners and snacks I like to make for my family. Concessions need to be made, like more store-bought snacks. Changes need to be made, like prepping or even cooking dinner before work.

5. This last one is brand new and I'm not sure yet how we're going to do it: get through searching for and applying to colleges without completely stressing ourselves or our daughter out. (I'll gladly take tips on this one, we'll need to hone these skills for the following four kids!)

Friday, August 31, 2018

Five on Friday: School Supply Hacks

The Internet is rife with memes about insane school supply lists . . . mainly because it's true. I used to get a new Trapper Keeper each year; my kids get mile-long lists of required supplies. I'm happy to help the teachers out but shopping with five kids each with their own insanely long list is not exactly my favorite yearly tradition.

This year the lists didn't seem quite as long and I'm grateful for that. For today's list, I am going to share some tricks I've come up with to make the school supply situation easier on myself, hopefully something will be helpful for you, too:

1. At the end of each school year, we save things that aren't totally trashed. Folders or binders with a just a name label on them, notebooks with three pages used. No shame in sending my kid to school with like-new supplies.

2. But where do I store these items over the summer? A-ha, I'm glad you asked!! Because I feel like this was one of my best ideas ever:


3. When we are shopping for the new stuff, I always grab a few extra folders, notebooks, etc. because inevitably someone is going to need one--usually for the very next day--and it just makes my life easier. Also they're generally on sale this time of year.

4. I also try to remember to grab a package of poster board while I'm out. Someone always ends up needing one and it's always urgent.

5. If your kids got new shoes for back-to-school, hold on to those shoe boxes! It seems fewer are needed as they get older, but sometimes the big kids need them for building certain projects. I like having several on hand so I can offer one to someone else that was caught off-guard as I know there will be about a million other ways I'll need help during the school year so this is my one little way of giving back.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Five on Friday: Vacation is *So* Over

Hey neighbors! Hope you enjoyed the peace and quiet while we were away for ten days. To make sure every single one of you realizes we've returned, the younger kids and friends managed to somehow kick a soccer ball into our not-very-busy road exactly as a truck was driving past. Apparently he slowed to try to avoid it but somehow the ball lined up exactly with his wheel and as he rolled over it, the pop created such a loud bang we ran outside to make sure nobody got shot. We're baaaaaaaack!!!!

Other signs vacation is over:

1. We returned to all the joys of old home ownership with a bang. Or our old humid house fared poorly in all the rain in our absence, sprouting little mold growths ON THE COUCHES, YUCK. The dishwasher is still broken, a kid clogged the toilet, another one plunged it but maybe messed something else up in there . . . aaah, it's so good to be home.

2. We returned to the joys of community. My neighbor had given me her old steam cleaner a few years ago and it was the perfect tool for quickly and easily knocking that mold right out.  Our dog was loved up by friends while we were gone and now we're helping care for a guinea pig and some chickens.  Neighbors and friends helped entertain my children a few times this week so I could get . . .

3. Back to work! Not a terrible thing at all as I do like my job and I was reminded, once again, of how lucky I am to have such flexible employers who are okay with me saying things like, "So I'll probably work two hours today and maybe an hour tomorrow and the next day may or may not be a more regular day." (It wasn't.)

4. Back to school shopping. Nothing like last minute . . . a Wednesday night run for the High Schoolers who were starting on Thursday morning. The next afternoon I took the younger kids out for their supplies. I would have preferred to put it off a little longer (they don't start until Thursday) but they wouldn't stop hounding me.

5. Back to school, at least for the older two. Once again I had myself convinced that they'd only have a half day the first day, once again I was wrong about that (at least my daughter checked this time and they went prepared with lunch . . . unlike last year. Whoops, still sorry about that guys.)  Time for everyone to start getting to bed on time, waking up early . . . and for Mom to try to pay more attention to the school calendar.

Home sweet home

Friday, August 17, 2018

Five on Friday: Things I Forgot/Things I Never Want to Forget

In last week's Five on Friday list I told you about the things I need to keep in order to easily pack for a road trip for a family of seven. The last thing was to "keep . . .
Here I am now, on vacation, and it's true . . . I have forgotten several things. I sort of knew that would be the case, I was trying to do way too much last week.  We have all the important stuff so I took my own advice to:

Maybe if I share what things I forgot here I'll remember next time. THIS time I forgot:

1. That I was so good at preparing the camping bin last time, I already had a small bottle of olive oil in there! So on this trip we have two small bottles of olive oil!! Though with my kids, the likelihood is pretty high of someone getting stuck in something and olive oil could come in handy to slip them out . . .

2. Foil. We make a lot of lunches to pack when we’re road tripping. We improvised (reused a plastic bag that grapes came in, for example) but when I saw some at the supermarket I bought it. This box will henceforth be kept in the camping bin.

3. A can opener! But I brought some cans that need opening! Oh well. Hopefully I'll see one at the thrift shop and remember that I need it.

4. My previous notes to self say “matches, newspaper, fire starters” but I only had matches. Why do I take the notes if I forget to reference them? Maybe I need to make a note to remember to check the notes that I made before.

5. Umbrellas. I should know by now that it rains every single time we camp.

While all this forgetting was going on, lots of really beautiful memories have also been being made.  That's right, this week's list is a double feature! Here are five things I truly hope I remember, both funny and sweet:

1. Best car game ever: the kids each say a body part to draw (Droopy eyes! Fierce lips!) and then they all draw it. The results are always amazing:

2. Our youngest daughter gasping, "I think I saw a sand cow in the water!" (after hearing that there were manatees--also known as sea cows--in the area)

3. Based on ages and interest, we sometimes divide into different groups for activities during vacations. Like when Daddy-O took the littles for a bike ride on Tuesday morning and I took the bigs to hit some thrift shops. No can opener but plenty of funny things to see plus a few thrift scores.

We questioned the placement of this--uh, statue?--on a chair. That could hurt.

4. “Mama you look so much beautiful when you’re underwater”

5. In spite of what I just told you about splitting into groups, this family really enjoys being together. I keep realizing that all seven of us are frequently physically close together in places we don't have to be--like the pool or the slightly larger Gulf of Mexico. Just all of us close together, hugging, holding, wrestling, giving shoulder rides, reconnecting and having fun. I hope that this, above all, is something that all of us always remember.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Five on Friday: Things to Keep When Packing for a Family of Seven

It's road trip time! My preparation process has gotten somewhat streamlined, which is particularly good since I'm too busy these days to spend a week packing. Everything goes much smoother as long as I keep calm and keep:

1. All the camping gear together in bins in the basement so I don't have to find and gather it all every single time.

2. A note on the top of the bin to make note of anything that needs to be added (things I don't want to permanently store in there like the good flashlight).

3. A note on my computer on what worked or didn't on each trip (previous notes include things like: better long sleeve options! Fewer toys, more notebooks and pens for the ride!) Sometimes things change and I know I won't remember what they were.

4. The travel candy well hidden so I don't have a "I've been on my feet running around all  day and I totally have PMS and goddamnit I'm going to have my period on vacation I need candy" freakout the night before and eat most of it. 

Okay, fine, I'll do this one next time.

5. Reminding myself that anything I forget we will either live without or purchase while on vacation. So I just need to relax . . . vacation is starting.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Five on Friday: The "Signs" of Summer . . .

No, I don't mean things like wet bathing suits left on the floor after I asked you at least a hundred times to please hang them up immediately. Though we have plenty of those signs of summer around as well . . . I mean actual signs.

Last night I was searching through my pictures to try to find one in particular. I never found it but as I was looking I realized that I've taken a lot of pictures of funny signs I've seen this summer . . . does everyone do that?

If you don't (or even if you do!) I'm going to share mine with you for today's Five on Friday list:

1. If you looked at just the top portion of this sign hung outside a campground pool, it seemed pretty funny. So that's how I cropped it:

We actually prefer swimming with toilet-trained people

2. From the same campground, this was hanging on the wall and presumably was meant to have . . . anything else inside of it.

In case you wondering what this was, read the sign.

3. At the local pizzeria. It struck me as very sweet, hope this Jack of all Trades has found a great place to live by now:

Good luck, Jack.

4. Seen at a friends' home on the Fourth of July:

It is a good day for a good day!

5. While kayaking at the lake, my niece said she could see a sign in the water. Our collective interest was piqued and the kids got to work trying to find it and pull it out. When they did, this is what they found:

You don't say . . .