Hidden Danger


For the first time in the twenty years that we have lived in our home, we have a mole problem.  I mean the small furry mammal, not the skin kind. There are little soft mound of dirt throughout the yard and in some of the flower beds.  I have researched on Pinterest how to deal with the problem, I just haven’t taken any steps yet.

Now, I’m not an avid gardener, nor do I dote on my flowers.  I always have good intentions, but very little follow-through.  If I remember, I might water the plants.  Fertilizer?  I bought some once, but I don’t think we ever used it.  I only pull weeds once or twice during the entire summer.  For the most part, the plants are on their own.

Today just happened to be one of those rare weed-pulling days.

I worked on one area, pulling at dandelions, clover, and renegade grass, snapping them off at the ground level.  Even with the help of a trowel, I seldom managed to get the roots.  Oh well.  At least it looks a bit better right now.

I stepped over weed piles and crossed to the other side of the house to work on another flower bed.  I noticed a couple of mole hills there.  No big deal, I thought, as I settled down to attack the weeds that had invaded the space.  Again, I pulled on dead foliage, snapped off my dandelion roots, and yanked at the wild grapevine that had wrapped itself into a hosta.  All the while I had this funny feeling someone was watching me.  I avoided getting close to the mole holes.  Is there something or someone in there?  I stared at a small hole in the dirt.  They don’t attack humans, do they?  I mean, if there was a mole in there and he felt threatened, what would he do to defend himself?  All I could think of was there is no way I could get my fat ass off of the ground quick enough to escape a savage mole attack.  I could imagine the ER personnel laughing behind my back.  I clenched the trowel tightly in my hand, just in case.  In case of what?  a two-pound ground rodent decided to go for my jugular?

In light of the distressing proximity of the mole hills, I gave up weeding and went inside and did what any sane person would do in the same situation.  I had a bowl of Fruit Loops and blogged about it.

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Mommy vs. the Toilet

It was an ordinary day of cleaning in my attempt to get to house under control.  Things were going as expected:  I was working hard, the children, not so much.  But there was a sense of accomplishment in the air.  Dirt and germs were under attack and I was winning the war, baby.

Until I started cleaning the toilet.

I have cleaned this toilet many, many times and never had a problem.  Until now.  It started as a normal, toilet-cleaning experience.  Blue clingy stuff was squirted and sliding down the inside of the bowl.  The toilet brush was in hand, ready for action.  I attacked.  Scrub, scrub, scrub.  Swish, swish, swish.  But there was some stubborn staining on the very bottom, right where the water flushes out.  Toilet-cleaning had been passed on to the kids lately and this area apparently hadn’t received as much attention as it should have.  This, I thought, needed some extra toughness and scrubbing.

I launched at the aforementioned trouble spot with a vengeance.  This toilet was going get clean.  Maybe I was putting a bit too much elbow grease into it.  Maybe it was the awkward angle of scrubbing.  Maybe it was the poor quality of the toilet brush construction.  Whatever the cause, whatever the reason, the bristle head of the toilet bowl brush lodged in the hole and the handle broke off.

My mood was already a bit grumpy due to lack of enthusiasm from the kids about participating in this cleaning day.  Now, to see part of the toilet brush stuck in the toilet really pissed me off (excuse the pun).

Even though I had mostly cleaned the toilet and flushed it a time or two, there was still the ick-factor at the thought of sticking my hand in the toilet.  I shoved those thoughts aside and plunged my hand into the clear water to retrieve the head of the toilet bowl brush.  Or, should I say, to ATTEMPT to retrieve the head of the toilet bowl brush.  That sucker was stuck in there and not budging.  Still holding the empty handle in my other hand, I decided to use it to pry the stuck object .  I only succeeded in pushing it further into the drain.  In fact, I pushed it so far down that I could no long see the blue and white bristles.

The head of the toilet bowl brush was lodged so far into the toilet, it couldn't be see.

The head of the toilet bowl brush was lodged so far into the toilet, it couldn’t be seen.

CRAP!  (Yes, pun intended again.)  Now I started to panic.  How was I going to get this thing out?  Would I have to hire a plumber to fix this?

Closing the bathroom door behind me, I sternly announce to the children to NOT, under any circumstances use the toilet.  Being a one-bathroom household, I feared someone going in there, doing his/her business, and not being able to flush the contents down, making this task even less pleasant (to say the least).

I went to the kitchen then returned to bathroom with something I hoped would help me extract the stuck toilet bowl brush from the toilet:  grill tongs.  Frankly, I couldn’t remember the last time we actually used them so I didn’t mind so much sticking them in the toilet.  Surely, I thought, this would do the trick. The long handle, the pinching action of the tongs… I was already congratulating myself for this brilliant idea before I even walked through the bathroom door.  The premature celebration turned sour as soon as the tongs touched the toilet water.  The handle was too long and I couldn’t maneuver the tongs through the turn at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

The grill tongs failed at retrieving the toilet brush head.

The grill tongs failed at retrieving the toilet brush head.


OK, time for a new plan.  Again, I left the bathroom and sternly announced to the children to NOT use the toilet.  They could tell by looking at me that I was serious.  My face was sweaty and flushed (yep, I had to put in another pun) and my eyes were wild with frustration and anger.  The tone I my voice told them I meant business.

After a trip to the garage to fetch some pliers from my husband’s toolbox, I went back to the toilet with a new resolve.  Surely, this HAD to work.  And it did!  Not as easily as I expected, as it took several tries to dislodge the stuck toilet bowl brush.  Oh, what a triumphant moment when I pulled those dripping wet bristles from the water!  Once again, I congratulated myself, this time it was well-earned.  The best part about the ordeal?  The toilet bowl got really clean, even in those hard to reach places!




The pliers taking a sanitizing alcohol bath after unclogging the toilet.

The pliers taking a sanitizing alcohol bath after unclogging the toilet.


Several hours later, I was relaxing, telling my husband about my toilet war.  I was proud of myself for not giving up when the problem arose.  I kept working at it, solved the problem, and now had a nice, clean, toilet.  The sense of satisfaction I felt for seeing the job through to completion was broken when the Princess came in to see me.

“Mom…” she said timidly with legs crossed.  “Can I use the bathroom now?”  Oops.  I guess I forgot to tell the kids the bathroom was back in business.

The Evil Toilet Brush in its two parts.

The Evil Toilet Brush in its two parts.


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A Computer Warning

Recently, some important-sounding organization, governmental agency, and/or university study released this statement:


I apologize for not being able to recite the exact quotation, nor attribute it to the correct author (OK, it was me), but I seriously believe this.  With all the fiber of my being, I believe that the majority of my computer issues, frustrations, and cursing would cease if we didn’t have computers in the house.  Just like parenting would be much easier if it weren’t for these darn kids.

The latest hair-pulling situation comes courtesy of our dilapidated laptop-turned-desktop.  This poor laptop computer had been abused so much (carried around open) that the hinge went bad and now is in a permanently open position on a desk, NEVER to be moved (or you may result physically harmed) thus rendering it now a desktop computer.  This poor, lowly, beat-up computer wants nothing more than to please its people, but, alas, it is having recharging issues.  Despite being plugged in and having plenty of time with Thomas Edison Juice, it just went kaput.  RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A GILMORE GIRLS MARATHON!  Given the precious nature of its use, I suspect sabotage.  Someone doesn’t want me lounging about watching Netflix when I should could be doing dishes, laundry, mowing, etc., etc., etc.

Another problem with laptops is that they are mobile.  I went in search of another laptop so I could finish watching my Gilmore Girls episode but I couldn’t find it.  I tried looking in the usual locations — the boys’ room, the girls’ room — to no avail.  Maybe one of them hid it, which has happened before.  By hiding the computer, they think they can then have priority when they get home.  Silly, silly children.  Have you forgotten our no-screens after school rule?  Now, dear children, you are just frustrating your mother, which is NOT good.  Unless…maybe they are the saboteurs, thinking that if Mom doesn’t have access to computers they will have a homemade meal!

Well, well, little devious offspring, I have two words for you:  Kindle & cellphone.  Ha ha!  You can’t keep me from my technology addiction!  I still have ways to Facebook and stuff!  In fact, I am going to go crush some candy right now!  And as for dinner tonight….PB&J!  Again!!!!!

Computers may cause woe, but there are ways to deal with it.


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Juggling: Part 2

In my previous post, Juggling: Part 1, I made a visual representation of the many tasks, demands, and responsibilities I am juggling.  This little exercise helped me realize that, yes, I am legitimately busy and it is no wonder I feel overwhelmed.  The many balls I juggle stresses me out and I feel I am constantly one step away from dropping them all.  I very, very seldom take any balls out of rotation, yet I seem to easily add more.  Seeing my chaos diagrammed out will hopefully help me prioritize and possibly eliminate some of these balls and make my juggling job as a wife and mom more manageable.

As I take a deeper look at my lists, I realize that not all of these balls in the air are exclusively mine.  Laundry, cleaning, cooking…I can get some help with this stuff!  Enter child labor!  I already have a new laundry system in mind and we have made small steps toward implementing it.  Cleaning…obviously there are many ways to break this down.  That is a whole different set of juggling balls that I don’t need to juggle alone.  Once I sit down and break it down, I can then assign different balls to the kids.  Won’t they be excited?

Multi-tasking is another way I can manage my life easier.  I already multi-task to a certain degree, but I think I need to plan it a bit better.  For example, when I go to visit my parents, I like to make some freezer meals for them to make their lives easier.  Why do I wait until I go to do that cooking?  Although I sometimes freeze food for them when I am cooking for us at home, it is usually when I find that I have made extra.  Seldom do I actually plan to make enough to take to my parents.  If I include them when I do shopping and cooking for my own family, it will make my visits with them less hectic and more enjoyable.

I also really need to push myself to finish tasks.  I do have attention issues to a certain degree, but I can’t use that as an excuse.  What does Yoda say?  “Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.”  I tend to get to easily distracted by the other balls I have up in the air which draws my attention away from the tasks at hand.  For example, as I was typing this I needed to stop and get something for my sick child.  Then, she wanted lunch.  I ended up making her lunch, then lunch for the other kids, then for myself.  While I was in the kitchen I unloaded the dishwasher then loaded it and ran it again.  In the meantime, a disagreement was starting between the kids.  In order to stave it off, I took time to go and fix the TV that wasn’t working properly.  By that time, I needed a little break.  Again, the sick child needed my help, so my break was over.  While I was in the kitchen getting medicine, I realized the dishwasher had finished.  I turned my attention to unloading it once again  Oops…forgot to take the medicine to the child in need. I sat down to finish my break (playing just one more one more level of my video game).  After getting up to let the dog out, I returned to the kitchen to find the dishwasher open and partially unloaded.  Oh, yeah…forgot about that.  I finished unloading then filled it up again.  Noticing that my sink was gross, I started to clean the sink, only to get side-tracked by a few storage containers that didn’t make it into the dishwasher and needed to be washed by hand.  After that was done, I remembered I was in the middle of writing a blog and headed back to the privacy of my bedroom….followed by the Princess.  After drawing some pictures together, I am finally back at the computer to finish the task I started five hours ago.  Waiting for me in the kitchen is the partially clean sink and counter, which I didn’t have any intention of working on yet.  But my attention darted from here to there, not letting me finish what I had started.  Even though I did accomplish some stuff, I left other stuff undone.  Will I ever get back to the kitchen sink?  That wasn’t even on my to-do list for today.  None of this was!

I always knew I was busy, but it is therapeutic to see what I am busy doing.  Writing down my tasks, obligations, and duties was very helpful.  Now that I can see on paper (most of) what I have been juggling, I can take steps to smooth things out.  No, some of these balls will never disappear, nor do I want them to.  But hopefully, identifying the balls in the air can help me manage the juggling and ask for help when and where I need it.


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Juggling: Part 1

When I was in high school, I remember my brother coming home from college one weekend and showing me a new skill he was learning:  juggling.  He wasn’t great at it, but he could keep three balls of socks going for a few seconds.  Like any easily-impressed younger sibling, I wanted to learn, too!  Like the good older sibling he is, he gave me some pointers.  Although I never became good at it, I learned to juggle three objects for a few seconds which seems to impress people.  That’s good enough for me.

Now that I am older, I find myself in a different type of juggling game, one in which I don’t juggle balls but priorities and obligations, demands and responsibilities.  Recently, I was talking to my husband about how overwhelmed I am and how much I have to do.  I used the juggling metaphor, commenting that I never seem to be able to eliminate one of the balls and take it out of rotation.  Pondering upon that, I decided to do a little exercise.  I sat down with a paper and pen and drew a picture of myself juggling and labeled all of my “balls”.

This is the first picture I drew:


That’s a lot of balls to juggle.  Some of them are pretty big.  I decided I needed to divide those into smaller balls:


After looking at it for a bit, I realized that to be totally honest with myself, I needed to divide some of those balls again AND I added more:


I am sure I am forgetting some, and I know these can be divided even further, but I decide that’s all I want to deal with at the moment (can you say denial?).  Some of these balls were meant to be only temporary, but they sure have been up in the air a long time!  Others are perpetual and are always there or get completed and then reappear.  Looking at my pictures really gives me a new perspective.  I have so much up in the air and I need to admit that to myself.  My life is busy.  I keep running from ball to ball to keep them (or me) afloat.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to eliminate some of those balls or pass them on to others?

But how do I do that?  What can I do to make my life easier?  How do I go from juggling chaos to juggling with grace and confidence?  That, my friends, is the question.

Stay tuned…




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Happy Fall!

fall picture
Happy first day of Autumn!

Happy apple time!

Happy pumpkin time!

Happy harvest time!

Happy sweatshirt time!

Happy pretty leaves time!

Happy football time!

Happy bonfires!

Happy I-don’t-have-to-shave-my-legs-as-often time!

Happy Fall!

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This is Gross

NOTE:   The contents of today’s blog post is kind of gross and disgusting.  If you think you may be grossed out or offended by talk of vomit, don’t continue reading.  If your curiosity is piqued, and you want to read an anecdote that many people, especially parents, can related to, please continue.  And I won’t be offended if you laugh at my expense.


At 1 A.M.  My body woke me up with an urge.  “That’s what happens when 5 babies have used me as a trampoline!” taunted my bladder.  As I roused myself out of bed, I noticed a light coming in under the door from the hallway.  Someone else was up.

As I made my way into the hallway, I noticed the kitchen light was on, although I didn’t hear any noise.  I planned to investigate, but my first stop was the bathroom because I really had to go.  To my surprise, I found Mr. Dude, my seven-year old, asleep on the bathroom floor.  After hurriedly doing my business, I woke him up to see what was wrong.

“I threw up,” he said.  Poor kid!  I asked him how he was feeling, did he think he was going to throw up again, did anything hurt, etc.  No, and no sign of fever, either.  That was good.

“Did you make it to the toilet in time?”  I asked while I scanned the floor looking for vomit.

“No.  I puked in the kitchen.  I was going to get a drink.”

Oh.  That explained the kitchen light.

I tucked Mr. Dude back in bed and found a small trash can to use as a Barf Bucket next to his bed…just in case.  Then I made my way to the kitchen, bracing myself for what I would find.

First, let me explain something.  I don’t do well with vomit.  Not at all.  I get near it and I start gagging and heaving.  I know that isn’t an uncommon reaction.  Who wants to be around barf?  But I very, very seldom vomit.  In the twenty plus years my husband has known me, I have only thrown up once, and that was when I had the flu.  Before that, I threw up once in college from a suspected case of mild food poisoning.  You would need to go back to the mid-1970’s to find the rest of my puke-history.  Despite my personal non-regurgitation tendency, I do have a very strong gag reflex, and I swear, one of these days I’m gonna blow.

My husband usually takes pity on my and cleans up and takes care of the kids in these situations, but he was asleep and I didn’t want to wake him up.  Besides, I’m a big girl.  I’m a mom.  I can do this.  That became my mantra:  I’m a mom, I can do this.

Like the Little Engine That Could, I shuffled toward the kitchen, chanting to myself, “I’m a mom…I can do this…”  I was bound and determine to successfully complete this task alone, without waking my husband, and without gagging and heaving.  “I am mature.  I can handle this.”  I continued to coach myself as I made my way to the kitchen, mentally preparing for what I would find.

And I found it.  Mr. Dude must have only taken two steps into the kitchen before it all came out.  It was all right there.  After about five minutes of just staring at the mess, coaching myself to deal with it, I knew I couldn’t delay it any longer.  It was time to take action.

Paper towels.  I needed paper towels.  My eyes searched the kitchen for the ever-wandering roll of paper towels.  Found it…on the OTHER SIDE of the mess.  After muttering a few choice words to myself, I found a piece of construction paper on the table and put it on the floor to act as and island in the middle of Lake Vomit.  I carefully crossed to the other side, reaching the paper towel and letting out a little cheer for this small victory.  This mess was going to require a LOT of paper towels, and soon the roll was empty.  Crap.  I needed to cross back over to get to the basement to get another roll.  I utilized my construction paper-stepping stone once again, and soon had a new roll of paper towel in hand.  I proceeded to put a layer of paper towels over the mess, hoping to minimize my gut reaction.  However, it didn’t work.

As soon as I bent down to start wiping up the vomit, I started to heave.  I ran to the bathroom, gasping and gagging, trying to keep it together.  Again, I thought about waking my husband, but quickly dismissed that.  I WAS GOING TO DO THIS!  I was going to conquer my Puke Reaction and clean up after my son.  This was a form of motherly love and I was going to follow through, even if it meant adding to the puke pile myself.  After another self pep talk in the bathroom mirror.  I stood upright, straightened my nighty and marched back to the task that awaited me, determined to follow through.

And I did it!  I wiped up that vomit (with a nice thick layer of paper towels, lest some actually leak through and come in contact with me) without any more drama.  I then got out the bleach cleaner and sprayed the area, killing any nasty germs that might have the audacity to think they could infect anyone else in this house.  “HA HA!”  I thought in my best inner-superhero voice.  “Take that!  And that!  DIE YOU SCUM!!!!”

After thoroughly washing my hands and putting away the paper towel and cleaner, it was time to head back to bed.  I checked on Mr. Dude, who was sleeping soundly, and gave him a kiss.  I started toward my room, but I felt like I was forgetting something.  Aha!  I headed to the bathroom put my feet in the tub and gave them a wash.  Ahhh…much better!  After what seemed like two hours (although it was only 30 minutes) I returned to my bed, proud of my accomplishment and happy to have at least one clean spot in my kitchen.

Before I end, I thought I would share a few thoughts that went through my head during this whole episode:

  • I’m glad this wasn’t very colorful.
  • Thankfully the dog didn’t follow my or he would have “helped” with the clean-up.  (Apparently vomit is a delicacy for dogs.)
  • Whew!  There’s not a lot of liquid.  That would be bad for the laminate floor.
  • Well, evidently he had carrots today!  (A big plus for my picky eater.)
  • At least it’s not on the carpet.
  • It’s a good thing tomorrow isn’t gym day because sissy’s shoes were in the “drop zone”.
  • I am very thankful Mr. Dude is feeling better.  This appears to be a once-and-done thing.
  • Boy, this would make a good, but gross blog post.


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And They’re Off!

Today is the first day of school for my kids. Believe it or not, everyone got up and ready without much stress. We could have even been out of the house and hour early if we had needed to. I don’t even think my husband had to bark out his daily time-to-go mantra, “Socks! Shoes! Teeth! Hair!” We even had time for first-day pictures.
PicMonkey Collage
Back-to-school also means back-to-blogging. The other day one of the kids asked why I don’t blog anymore. I just stared at her blankly. I wanted to scream, “Isn’t it obvious? I have been busy being Mommy-taxi and you guys have been computer hogs. I haven’t had time!!!” Instead, I calmly replied, “I hope to start blogging more soon.”

Although this vacation from blogging was unplanned, it did have it’s bright side. I am now super-excited to get back into the swing. My blog ideas had gotten a bit blah this Spring. Now I am ready to make a fresh start.

Back to reclaiming my house! Back to working on my faith! Back to becoming a better me for my family! Let’s hope the kids have the same enthusiasm about the start of their school year.

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A Farewell to Summer

This summer has been crazy hectic. I just counted and we had seven week-long activities: Cub Scout Day Camp, dance recital week, Boy Scout Camp, dance camp, American Heritage Girls Camp, 4-H judging week, and a mission trip for my oldest two kids. Also, several multi-day trips to visit my parents. Add in various doctors and dentist appointments, scout meetings, 4-H meetings and events, graduation parties, and other family stuff, and that makes one very full summer!

And a short summer at that! The kids go back to school in two days. I am not ready (nor are they) to give up our summer break, but getting back into a regular schedule sounds appealing.

Do I regret my family being involved in so many activities? Yes and no. Yes, I wish we had more time. No, I’m glad my children had these opportunities. I feel like each one helps him or her grown in a positive manner. These are good things that my kids are in. They are fun and rewarding. Although it looks crazy and over scheduled, not one of them is in all of these things. This is a cumulative look at the schedule of a family with five kids.

As mom and family CEO, I probably bore the brunt of the craziness, but I don’t think the kids have any regrets about their summer . Each of us had to do some give and take and they were all good sports. The older ones picked up the slack with babysitting and some housework, and the younger ones didn’t complain too much about having to tag along to their older siblings activities. I am so grateful and blessed that my husband or I were able to participate in these activities, too. Jayson go to go to Boy Scout Camp for the week and to most of Cub Scout Camp, and I got to go to AHG Camp.

With this crazy schedule and the kids home fighting for computer time, I haven’t been able to blog lately. I am still here. I am still alive. Hopefully, I can get back into the blogging groove soon. Don’t give up on me!

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The Kitchen Table

Something exciting happened at our house a few months ago.  We got a new kitchen table!  OK, so it isn’t lottery-winning-exciting, but to a 40-something stay-at-home-mom, this is super cool!  It was custom made for us by a local artisan.  Before we met with the maker to discuss our expectations for our new table, my husband and I had to evaluate our needs.

Size was a big factor in our decision.  Our most obvious need was a table long enough to fit our family of seven.  The old table only comfortably sat six.  Ever since our youngest was out of the high chair, the Dancer has (voluntarily) sat on a stool at the corner of the table.  We needed a table that we could all fit around. However, the physical space for a table in our kitchen was limiting.  Do we need an expandable table?  Drop leaf?  What about seating?  Should we keep our current chairs?  As my husband took measurements and the kids debated a new seating chart, I began thinking of how we use our table.

Our kitchen table is not merely a place to eat meals.  It is so much more.

The table provides extra kitchen workspace.
table as workspace (1024x553)

It welcomes groceries as they are brought into the house.
table w groceries

The homework hub.
homework zone

Game time.
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Home office.
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A magical hideaway for imaginative play.

A place of refuge for a little dog in a big world.
DSCF2707Not only is our kitchen table a place where we share meals and conversation ranging from deep theological discussions to episodes of SpongeBob, it is a special part of our family life.DSCF2180 (1024x768)

We need a table that is strong and sturdy to support all of these needs, yet beautiful to represent the love surrounding it.  And that’s just what we got.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I please present our beautiful, new, custom-made kitchen table.
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And bench with storage cubbies (we decided to also use the kitchen chairs we already had).
bench (1024x768)

Many thanks for Kathi Jackley at https://www.facebook.com/kathikountrykrafts for crafting the perfect table for our family! She and her husband do excellent work at a very reasonable price. This table fits our family perfectly! And it fits our many needs.









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