Reviews for Sale!

{This is another one of those posts where I tell you what other “good” homeschooling blogs do, then I go and do the opposite. You’ve been warned.}

Product reviews! In Kelly’s fantasy land, I get lots of great books and materials mailed to me for free by people who think other homeschoolers hang on my every word. These free products would do everything advertised and blend seamlessly into my current lesson plans. My children would love the books, learn easily from them; I’d be hard pressed to say anything negative about the free materials. I’d write a glowing review, net tons of sales for the sponsoring company and maybe, get some sort of pink Cadillac, like a great Mary Kay sales woman. (If it was a Catholic company, maybe a pink 15 passenger van.)

However, I live in Kelly’s reality world which is currently humid and full of dust. The only free curricula I received in today’s mail were the charity solicitations I let the kids use as scratch paper in art class. But to prepare myself for that day when the companies come calling, I’m going to write a sample review about a product I downloaded a while ago from a well-known homeschool curricula site. We’ll call this product “The Stab Yourself in the Eye with a Test Tube Chemistry Book”, or just ‘the chemistry book’ if you prefer.

This 50+ page book was a pdf download I purchased for about $20. It boasted a research guide, experiments, reproducibles and instructions on how to tie everything together into a cool looking folder/ lapbook type thing. Even though my last foray into lapbooking went horribly, horribly wrong, I thought this book might make the overwhelming science of chemistry fun. My first mistake was in assuming that “research guide” meant more than ten pages about chemistry. So I just tacked a few more library books onto the hold list. No real problem yet. And then we did the first experiment….and I couldn’t explain our hypothesis or why that stuff in the test tube did those things and not what the book said it was supposed to do. And not only was elementary chemistry beyond me, I was once again outwitted by a simple file folder. Sure the instructions said, cut here, fold there, tape down here and, viola, an atomic elements pop-out chart should arise directly from the middle of your double joined folder, but it looked about as good as that copy of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ the baby tore into. Within a couple of weeks, I ordered this and this combined it with a boring homemade ‘My Science Experiment’ handout and before long, it was all Mr. Wizard like up in here.

If you love lapbooks, like getting lots of science books from the library,  then this might work for you if you have upper elementary kids who love origami and have an interest in chemistry.  (See? I can offer positive reinforcement as well as constructive criticism.)

Obviously, if you want to send your materials to me for review I will include big colorful photos of me, or my children with the materials. Since I have no photos of the chemistry book, or me stabbing myself in the eye with a test tube,  here’s me with a great Melissa and Doug abacus! I love it!

If I have not won you over with my prose or modeling experience, please be assured that I do have my price. For an agreed upon amount, which can be paid in greenbacks,  Kohl’s Cash or gluten-free brownie mix, I will say whatever you want about your wonderful product and stay out of all photos. With daily page views in the teens, how can you afford to not have me favorably review your learning materials? Advertising space on my blog, or the side of my van, house, family set of t-shirts, is also available. Contact me before it’s too late!

Seven Quick Takes That Meet You Where You Are

Quite a few homeschooling blogs tend to offer motivational advice; helpful quips to inspire you to aim high and achieve more. If you are feeling lazy and need a pick me up, I suggest you head somewhere else.  Like HERE, HERE and HERE. Instead, I present you with my demotivational advice. You’re going to feel really good about where you are and there’s no pressure to do better. And after a long week, don’t we all need to feel good about what we’ve actually accomplished, not worry about what didn’t get done?

1. Take every extra minute you need  in the morning to lay in bed and plan out breakfast/say quiet prayers/figure out how to get to the bathroom and shower without the rest of the family discovering you fell asleep in your clothes again.

2. Who comes to the door before noon? No one important that’s who. Just stay in your robe. But if you decide to get dressed…

2 1/2. No one’s going to notice that stain right in the middle of your shirt. And besides, what are the chances you’ll have to run out to get milk/take a child to the ER/meet the UPS man/converse with a freshly showered mom in clean clothes?

3. Ponytails make you look young, sexy and like you’ve only had one child, tops. You rock in that hot pink Hello Kitty scrunchy!

4. A daily schedule and routine? It’s all going to fall apart eventually so why waste your time setting one up. Now I’ve saved you time and future guilt. Go celebrate with some Facebook!

5. Don’t bother ordering the answer key. You took college level math. You can teach elementary math no problem. And your husband understands math.  He can take over teaching if need be. He was just saying he wanted to spend more time with the kids anyway.

6. Pre-planning dinner takes all the fun and excitement out of meals. Wait until 4:45 to decide so that supper prep takes on an air of Iron Chef.

7.  Don’t worry about the dishes tonight. After a hot cup of coffee tomorrow morning, you’ll definitely have the energy to tackle them.

It’s been a long week for me, but I’m feeling better already. In fact, I’d better take it easy and get out my box of wine. I don’t want to overdo it. And as always, be sure to read everyone else’s contributions to Seven Quick Takes, hosted at Conversion Diary. I mean, try to. I know I will, but everyone understands if the demands on your time are too numerous to allow a complete review of the links.


{pretty, happy, funny, real} Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

I finally got around to picking up the camera again, and not just on a Wednesday night. Beautiful weather equals more recess for everyone, including Mama. The kids finally took an interest in gardening (probably because I said I was giving it up this year) and are maintaining three raised beds of their own. Twenty-six baby chicks arrived so, of course, at least once an hour, someone needs to go check on them, especially during math.  The bikes and outdoor toys are strewn across the yard and driveway, which means spring is in full bloom here. Despite periods of heavy downpour, I think I manged to capture some of the sunshine that came our way this week.



I could call this picture “Two hot chicks” since it was unseasonably warm that day, however I don’t want my daughter’s picture turning up on some unsavory Google search. Instead I will reflect on children and chicks. Both are adorable when little but as adolescents would sooner peck you then let you snuggle them. However, only one will end up in the stew pot when her inability to produce eggs wanes.






He’s so loving this swing he doesn’t care he sitting in a hugely bulging wet diaper. I, in my quest for a cute photo, will ignore it also.


















The left group shot is the typical kids picture around here. My oldest son looks like one of those sad, hobo clowns.  Maybe he’s upset because my blonde haired daughter has become a zombie. Everyone else forgot why I was standing there yelling.  The right side shot is pretty good. I just wish my son in the middle didn’t look like he was posing for a daguerreotype. He’s got this stone cold expression, like I’ve asked him to sit still for 10 minutes to get the right exposure.




A real hard worker. It’s the same happy camper contributing to our home renovation project (in a clean, dry diaper I can assure you.) His fleece pants actually do the best job of collecting construction dust from off the floor. I’d like to think that his efforts could somehow speed up the completion of our new kitchen, but, unless he’s going to start threatening to break kneecaps with that Tonka hammer, I think we remain at the mercy of the contractor.







And, as aways, be sure to stop by the rest of the links at Like Mother, Like Daughter. I’m really going to do a better job of hopping around and visiting you all myself.


Laugh, Think, *TINK*, Drink

I’ve noticed a lot of blogs do weekly themes. I’ve jumped on some like {pretty, happy, funny, real} over at Like Mother, Like Daughter and Seven Quick Takes hosted at Conversion Diary. Lots of other blogs set daily or weekly themes like Wordless Wednesday or Thoughtful Thursday or Psychiatric Saturday or something.  Plus there’s weekly round ups and carnivals sometimes containing articles from all sorts of people and links to a million sites with reviews and giveaways galore. I don’t put that much thought into lesson plans, let alone my blog.

But I’m going to jump on this bandwagon and create my own weekly theme which will appear on no particular day. It will be called Laugh, Think, TINK, Drink. Let me explain. I will write on four things, with or without links that will (hopefully) make you laugh, make you think, make you see the silver lining *TINK* and make you want to grab a drink. (TINK, like flick your finger against something fancy and it makes a pretty noise? Get it?? ) Now on with the show.

To Make You Laugh

I don’ t understand the whole Ryan Goseling obsession or where this ‘Hey Girl’ thing came from, but I do know this makes me laugh.


To Make You Think

A good friend of mine blogs over at House of Virtue. This post about clearing out clutter from our lives, physical and otherwise popped up on my feed as I was taking a break from rearranging our entire first floor. I’m dealing with a ton of books, toys and miscellanea and wondering what can go and what needs to stay. I’ve found myself asking, do I own books, or do my books own me? Letting go of dramatic people,  grudges and that old vampire erotica book might be the perfect spring cleaning.

Find the Silver Lining *TINK*

I wouldn’t call myself a mean person per se, but I hear the sass mouths on my kids and I know their father isn’t responsible.  I’ve decided to try the advice of Kellie over at Building Cathedrals and hopefully not make the situation worse by getting all pissed off about not being able to be less pissy.  The silver lining is, hopefully someone in this house will offer this experience up (we’ll call it Mama’s happiness boot camp) and shave some time off purgatory for me.

Will Drive You to Drink

The talk. With your kids. Yeah, that one. My oldest daughter is nine and I know it’s time to start broaching the subject of “stuff” with her. When I was her age, they sent all the boys out of the classroom and made us watch a movie sponsored by Kotex and featuring some actress who played Annie in a Broadway musical. They sent us home from school with a manila envelope containing an informational booklet and coupons. When my mom got home, I handed her the envelope and said, “We learned about this today.” She opened the envelope, looked at the book and asked, “Do you have any questions?” I said no, and that was that. If only homeschooling was as easy. This post by Ask Mary Martha confirms that yes, you can wait too long to start that talk.

What made you Laugh, Think, TINK or Drink this past week?

I’m Thankful for…Seven Quick Takes

Last weekend the last two healthy kids in the house finally succumbed to illness. I was forced to accept the fact that some well laid plans for this week  just weren’t going to happen. I pouted and vented and got a little teary eyed. But my husband, rock that he is,  gave me a pep talk that went something like, “Yes, this is unfortunate but we’ll work around it. Don’t let it get to you. You’ve been negative lately.”


Of course my first instinct was to kick his sprained ankle, but I resisted. If my husband, who knows and loves me more than any one, is trying to calmly tell me that I’m been “negative lately”, it probably means I’ve been more like a bear for at least a month.

So I’m trying really hard to be more positive, accept circumstances and ask God for the grace to carry on. In that vein, here are seven things I’m thankful for this week.

(Note: I didn’t include things like God, or my husband or my kids because that stuff’s all a given. So don’t think because ‘the Blessed Virgin Mary’ isn’t listed, I somehow am less thankful for her than say, brownies.)

1. A bra that fits and is comfortable. Yes, it’s a neon blue sports bra from Target but I’m fine with that. I’ve accepted that five kids in 9 years means I will look like some lady from National Geographic. I’ve stopped trying to use under-wire to appear otherwise. It’s okay. My husband still finds me attractive and that’s all that matters.

2. Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownie Mix. I’d been getting sick in ways you don’t want to know about, so over Lent I gave up gluten. The good news is, I haven’t gotten sick. The bad news is NO GLUTEN. I quickly discovered that a lot of gluten-free products suck. Everyone in the house has sampled them and now, my kids make gaggy noises when I get out my “special” food. Thankfully I recently discovered that for twice the cost of a regular box of brownies I can make a much smaller pan of yummy gluten-free ones. They filled a dark, fudgey void in my life. Everyone is much happier now that Mama found good brownies.

3. Our township building inspector. I love you and I have brownies baking! ( I hope he’s reading this and will come out and inspect our new room so the contractor can start hanging drywall.)

4. Home Reserve furniture. I love this company. We bought a huge sectional from them years ago and it’s held up awesome. (No stains or tears with five kids-believe it!) Now that we’re rearranging the whole house, I was able to single-handedly take apart the pieces, move them and create three smaller sofas we can use in the rearranged space. We got a lot of physical education credits that day!  BTW, Home Reserve, I can never remember the name of your company because it sounds like it should belong to a winery. You owe today’s link to my husband’s mad Google searching skills.

5. Take Your Child to Work Day. I had no idea how much quieter my house would be without the two oldest here. Especially since for the last month it’s been non-stop chatter about them tagging along with Papa on TYCTWD. I tried to point out that it’s always TYCTWD around here but I guess no one heard me.

6. My oldest son thinks I’m pretty. And no, he wasn’t trying to butter me up for something. I entered a ‘Mom of the Year’ contest ( for the $112K prize money) and was asking my kids what  makes me mom of the year. First thing out of the boy’s mouth was “You’re pretty.” So even though I don’t have her followers, I got one up on Jen Piwtpitt.

7. Blog comment spam. Yes, it’s also annoying, but the spam comments I’m getting are in such broken English and are so irrelevant to my articles, I can’t help but laugh. These are my favorites from this week. Be sure to read like Balky from Perfect Strangers (or if that reference is lost on you, read like Borat.)

“I’ve joined your feed and look ahead to searching for extra of your fantastic post.”

“This subject makes me think of other things that happens to us every day, it makes me reflect a lot”

“This is very nice one and gives in-depth information. thank you very much for that extraordinarily first class editorial!” – on my post about Truck Balls among other things

“Extremely useful info specifically the last section :) I care for such information a lot. I used to be seeking this certain info for a long time, especially on escorts newzealand”

“Your writing taste has been amazed me!”


Check out all the other Seven Quick Takes and please, be sure to leave some uplifting comments of your own.


Twas the night before… My Sick Ode to Clement Moore

Twas the night before Monday, when all through my roost, all creatures stopped stirring once punishments were introduced.

The laundry still hung on the clothesline with care, forgotten by Mama who’d been summoned elsewhere.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, the fun of the weekend still fresh in their heads.

And Papa in his boxers, and I in my sweats,  had just settled down,  blind to stomach upsets.

When across the baby monitor, there arose such a clatter, I sat straight up, my husband exclaimed “What the @*&%# is the  matter?!”

Away to the girls bedroom, I ran like a flash,  found an old trashcan , delivered  bedside with a crash.

Moonlight through the window enveloped the room,  suggesting serenity  and not impending doom.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a trail of  puke flying straight through the air.

My littlest daughter, by day – lively and quick, had succumb to infection and wound up quite sick.

More rapid than eagles her expulsions came. I tried to give directions but she missed the can all the same.

On blankets, on pillows , on dolly and teddy. My sweat-shirt, her nightgown,  it persisted,  fast and steady .

From the top of the bed, to the top of the wall?!,  how to wash away, wash away, wash away it all?

As dry heaves took over, my husband walked in with a sigh. She soon finished vomiting and began to cry.

Off to the bathroom, we walked smelling sour, my husband grabbed paper towels  and began to scour.

And then in a twinkling, I suspected more to come, when after a cry from the boy’s room, my husband took off in a run.

As I threw back my head, an expletive muttered, a long night we were in for, the week’s plans now shattered.

Redressed in clean PJ’s and laid back in her bed, I thought of helping my husband, but ducked under my covers instead.

“He made it to the toilet” was all he expressed, before snuggling beside me and trying to get fresh.

“Go away!”, I recoiled, “Fat chance in hell ! Who knows when they’ll be up again! There’s no way to tell!”

With a shrug of his shoulders, he pulled sheets round his head, and soon gave me to know, I had nothing to dread.

I awoke to a child standing quietly bedside, with a pail in his hand, his needs plainly implied.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work and filled up the pail, then zonked out with a jerk.

And laying his finger up inside his nose, I tried cleaning his face with my stained bedtime clothes.

Many hours later, this cycle twice repeated, I hoped finally our  jobs as nursemaids was completed.

A virus so merciless, had made me it’s slave. The sleep that we needed would remain elusive ’til  the grave.

Too soon I make out the sun through eyes tired and bleary, as my husband exclaimed “There’s no rest for the weary.”



{SQT} Under the Weather

I thought the Easter aftermath couldn’t get much worse than two sprained ankles in a single day followed by a sick baby. But unfortunately, because I even let that thought cross my mind, fate laid the smack down on me by allowing a virus to infiltrate my kids. Despite telling myself, and my husband,  repeatedly that the baby’s puking, diarrhea, crankiness and incessant head spinning was due to “teething”  or “demonic possession” we both knew he was sick. And no sooner were his diapers less explosive, than the oldest two fell victim. It’s been non-stop naked Barbies and baby doll tea parties around here now that #1 and #2 are too weak to resist #3. By all accounts, the outlook  is grim.

And so, seven random thoughts on illness and our family.

1. When you have a family with more than one child, you know as soon as one child is sick, the rest will fall like dominos. The fate of your husband and yourself is equally perilous. There’s nothing you can do because despite your best efforts they will cough on each other for fun, give you big sloppy kisses without thinking and fall asleep in your bed for a nap while drooling and snotting up your pillow. And  it’s not like they’re going to start washing their hands on a regular basis now.

2. Children’s medicine comes in several flavors, but children come in only two; flavored medicine lovers or haters. I’ve got one child who loves the bubblegum pain reliever like it’s crack. If his first dose is at 7:48 a.m., he is at my side clamoring for a hit of drugs at 1:47 p.m., bottle in hand with the clack, clack, clack of the child-proof lid muffled in his hands.  I guess I should just be glad I found a way to improve his ability to tell time.

3 .Why does their late night hacking cough wake me up, but not them??

4. A house full of sick kids is great for the grocery budget.

5. My oldest takes a fresh tissue every time she wants to dab at her precious schonze. This results in a massive tissue mound next to her wherever she’s resting. (It’s a huge germ breeding ground! I look and I can see the germs getting all freaky and multiplying right there!) I’m ready to go back to the system I had when they were younger. I called it the “snotty rag” system. It consisted of an old cloth diaper stuck on the top of the toilet tank in the kids bathroom. When ever a cold ran through the house, I grabbed the snotty rag, found a clean corner and wiped noses. When it was green or too stiff to use, I washed it and put a fresh rag on the toilet. At the time, that seemed more sanitary to me than multiple piles of half used tissues throughout the house. The only downside was when family came to visit and needed a tissue. Once I had to buy tissues for the guests, the snotty rag fell out of favor.

6. My kids will stop exhibiting symptoms just long enough for me to assume they are healthy and make plans. But usually after arriving at a friend’s house someone will complicate said plans by projectile vomiting.

7. Having just read the Velveteen Rabbit to the kids, my husband is convinced the next course of action is to start burning toys and bedding.

I hate to wonder what the next week has in store for us. We do love bonfires. How do you manage with a house of sick kids?


Ultimate Blog Party 2012 Welcome

Hi I’m Kelly. Thanks for stopping by This Ain’t the Lyceum, where I hope my posts will make you laugh, and not run out to call Social Services.

My blog started out as an idea to share all my great homeschool advice and ideas. However, I quickly learned that my efforts at schooling suck compared to most homeschool mommy bloggers. So now I write about the reality of life and homeschooling which is sometimes messy, usually funny and occasionally leads me to drink. I keep it clean because I have lots of children who like to read over my shoulder, and I’m assuming you do too. I’m not controversial, unless you want to argue in favor of truck balls, and I don’t do serious or deep reflections because I’m not a deep and serious person. If you’re looking for an inspirational blog that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and all gung-ho about mothering and homeschooling I don’t know how you wound up here.

Besides blogging, I read, eat, sleep and when that’s done, educate my three oldest children according to Classical Principles. My younger two make every effort to thwart my efforts, and thusly, contribute greatly to my writing and high blood pressure. My husband and I have an unspoken agreement that I only portray him favorably so long as I want him to keep up with the dirty dishes.

Thanks for visiting me through the Ultimate Blog Party. Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to stop by your site too. I look forward to connecting with other moms who are sure to make me feel even more inadequate. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook and you can find all my other feeds at my Flavors page.

Don’t Buy Me Flowers

Honey, I love you, but don’t buy me flowers. Because, if you buy me flowers, I will have to find a vase to put them in. I will search high and low through every cabinet and shelf before locating a suitable one tucked in the pantry behind some old Christmas candy. I will then need to clean the smears of chocolate and dead ants off the vase. Once the bouquet is in the vase, I will have to find a spot for it which means either cleaning off the dining table, the kitchen table or squeezing it in on top of the piano. If I choose the piano top, I will have to move it again because it will make the piano teacher nervous. So now, to the sounds of the oldest plunking out Moonlight Sonata,  I have to clean the dining room table. When I clean all the kid’s school books out of the center of the table and set the vase down, they will yell “His books are on my side of the table! Her paper is touching my binder!” and in the tussle they will hit the vase and spill the water and flowers all over my lesson plans and into my coffee which I’d actually been enjoying hot for once, but now tastes like plant food. I will have to call a recess and clean up the mess. I will consider the side table in the dining room and set the vase on the floor while I move the mail off the side table and onto the dining table. I will reach down to pick up the vase and see the baby eating the flowers and submerging his sippy cup in the water. I will see the piano teacher quickly turn his head away and snicker. If you buy me flowers, I will want to put them where we all can enjoy them, to show my appreciation for your display of affection but I will wind up sticking them on a shelf wedged in between a Little People play set and a stack of dusty magazines because it’s a sure thing no one will bump or touch them. You will come home and ask, why I put them there all out-of-the-way like that and request they be placed in the center of the table for dinner. I will honor your request and not be able to gaze upon your face the entire meal over stems and foliage, which you comment look a little sparse. I will insist a hundred times that I love them and the kids will express their wonderment at your being the perfect papa and spouse. You will make a mental note that I love flowers and silently vow to mark each occasion with a fresh bouquet delivered to the door, which I will open in my stained bathrobe to the mortification of all parties involved. Except the kids, who are convinced that the UPS man is in love with me. Until the bouquet is tossed into the compost pile, it will travel around the house like a nomad, dropping leaves, petals and pollen as it goes; small tokens that get smashed into the carpet or shoved up the nose of the baby. It’s fair perfume will scent the air until the water I never change gets green and putrid and inspires the kids to make barf jokes. I love you, but don’t buy me flowers.  It’s much easier to make room for a box of chocolates.

Moms Night Out – Seven Quick Takes

I am so tired, but having promised my friends I’d write something ‘hilarious’ about our crazy homeschool mom antics, here are my Quick Takes for the Week; Seven highlights from the monthly Catholic homeschool moms social. If they aren’t funny to you, then you probably weren’t there.

1. Winking at the old guy in the liquor store as I purchased a fresh box of wine.  Yessirebob, you cannot even comprehend the craziness and debauchery that is about to ensue. Don’t let the big van fool you; I am a wild woman.

2. Learning about the connection between leprosy and armadillos. Whatever you do, if someone offers you armadillo meat-don’t eat it!

3. One mom insisted that cutting out on her mother-in-law’s birthday celebration to make the social didn’t upset her mother-in-law. Coolest. mother-in-law. ever. Either that, or my friend is totally kidding herself. If she finds herself written out of the will, I think we will all know why.

4. Explaining how to hide old art school friends on your Facebook feed because you’re tired of seeing their Occupy photos.

5. Chasing away eavesdropping children with a spray bottle usually reserved for the cat.

6. Everyone is in sweats or stained clothes and no one cares. It’s truly the one place I can go and expect a great time without worrying how I look. In fact, if I did my hair or makeup, no one would probably recognize me.

7. Dropping off a friend and her newborn at 12am and hearing her say she forgot her key, she’ll have to ring the doorbell and have her husband let her in.


I hope you ladies are happy, that is, if you’re awake and functioning at this hour. I know I’m going for my second cup of coffee.

Did I forget any thing memorable?

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real …does not do my week justice

Since our last installment, our family celebrated a joyous Easter Sunday before everything rapidly descended into chaos. Thankfully, we did manage ten minutes of visiting with friends on Monday before both my husband and oldest son sprained their ankles in unrelated incidents. But I’ve been unable to give them much sympathy as the baby came down with a stomach bug and nasty fever shortly thereafter.  Plus, everyone is heavily under the influence of Easter candy. Gotta love grandparents who give each child, even the 18 month old, three pounds of candy…yes, three pounds each. But true to my word, I managed to get the camera out.

So now without further ado….


It was so windy on Easter I couldn’t take many nice pictures outside given the sombreros the girls selected to wear with their new dresses. This was the best shot of the bunch because they’re smiling, looking at the camera and there’s no chicken trying to sneak her way in.











This picture just represents me getting psyched for tonight’s Catholic homeschool moms social. All the box wine, baked goods and birth stories you can handle! WOOT! My husband knows not to wait up.










When I think of Good Friday, I naturally think of AT-ATs. Or at least my son did, so when he brought me an empty cardboard box and said he wanted to make an AT-AT, I whipped this up. Those are not actual Star Wars action figures. My husband has original 1970’s Star Wars figures but he’s stopped letting the kids play with them since they lost Yoda a few months back. Now it’s up to some generic GI Joes to defeat the Empire. And this whole episode just proves, once again, kids don’t need fancy toys to be happy; just a mama willing to concoct crazy stuff from cardboard.









This is real air freshener-incense! My Greek orthodox friend always hooks me up with the best smelling stuff. I try to remember to use it a few times a month despite the exaggerated gasping and wheezing and dramatic fainting on the floor that inevitably results from its use. (“Mama I can’t breath with all the smoke. Won’t this set off the alarm? But I had to smell this stuff on Sunday!”)




And in case you’re wondering, no, I have not tried out the tire swing yet.  Maybe next week. Until then, check out the rest of {p,h,f,r} at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

I’m Not a Doctor, But I Know What I Need To Be Healthy

I have diagnosed myself with an auditory processing disorder. Symptoms include the inability to hear more than one child at a time, an increase in blood pressure while receiving input into each ear from different children and mood swings directly related to the volume level in the house.

It’s amazing to me that I manged to graduate highschool and get a college degree with this disorder. The trouble I faced trying to study chemistry while someone’s radio blared is nothing compared to mediating an argument with three screaming kids over a never-ending chorus of mama, mama, mama, mama from the 3-year-old. My brain, obviously overwhelmed and overstimulated, short circuits and instead of thinking up ways to address the needs of the children, it directs me to the fridge for an iced coffee or glass of wine.

I mean,  I love them all and I love talking to them about how hilarious Jar Jar Binks is ( real conversation I had today people) and the new outfit Barbie is wearing to Mass and then the Golden Corral buffet. I just can’t have all these conversations at the same time or it’s like listening to the adults in a Peanuts cartoon “Wwah, wwah, wwah, wwah wwah” coupled with a high-pitched yell in the back ground. When both the 3-year-old and 18 month old start yelling at the table,  I’ve had to stop what I’m doing and check to make sure my ears aren’t bleeding.

And don’t even try to get me on the phone during the hours of 8 am and 8 p.m. because as soon as I put the phone to my ear, somebody will be at my knee explaining why another child is screaming in pain outside. Even the automated phone system is flustered. “Please give your ID number after the tone, beep” “One, zero-Mama, I didn’t mean to push her off the swing but, Yes you did WAAAHHHHHH…..” “I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand that number. To try again please say yes, or representative to speak with a representative.” “REPRE—- WAAAAHHHHHH…you did that on purpose…no I didn’t…(sound of wrestling take down move onto the dining room floor)….AAAAAAA!!!”

(That last one is me screaming. I would love to know if they were monitoring that call for quality purposes.)

I once met a lovely couple who had the quietest four kids I’d ever met. This was back when I only had two kids, one of whom only screamed or used the syllable ‘buh’ for the first two and a half years of his life. My husband and I were both amazed and asked their secret. They said they never yelled or talked loudly at their kids or each other so then, consequently, the children never got loud with them or each other. So we tried that for like, three hours the next day and haven’t gotten around to trying it since. I do know when I had laryngitis, and couldn’t say anything for a week no one else around here stopped talking. I actually resorted to wearing a whistle around my neck to get their attention; inside, outside, at church, every where. It was pretty awesome. I don’t recall why I stopped that.

I’m also afraid my condition my be contagious.  As my husband and I were trying to hold a conversation, two children started talking to me at the same time. I, because of my underlying condition, snapped that they were interrupting and I couldn’t hear anyone talk when they all talk at once, which immediately launched them into passionate cries over who was talking first and a bunch of other nonsense which I couldn’t hear. My husband’s response was just to start saying repeatedly, “The noise! The noise!” and immediately end all conversations and walk off. But he’s still in denial because he thinks it’s a problem with the kids. I’m trying to be proactive, accept my disorder and find ways to better myself.

It’s to the point where I’m considering seeing a specialist to formally diagnosis,  treat and beat this disorder. Perhaps, medication is in order, but I’d also consider alternative therapies. If it requires a week-long in-patient stay at a secluded spa somewhere, I would do that for my family. They deserve to have their mama at 110%. And you can’t put a price on your health right? And if my husband ever admits he has a problem, we can hopefully get a two for one deal.

Easter Expectations

Holiday meals take all the fun and excitement of my daily dinner prep routine and combine it with high expectations and lots more mouths to feed. As I mentioned before, around here, Sundays have a good chance of being a leftover day. But on Easter Sunday, not only do I get to make sure everyone gets to church in a matching outfit, I get to slave away on a feast that, while inevitably staining my new dress, I know at least half my kids will snub.

Cooking a meal comprised of a huge slab of meat (in this case lamb), several vegetable sides, a couple starches and a few salads for a large groups requires careful planning and food prep. Or, there’s my traditional Easter dinner prep which includes the Holy Thursday freak out, Good Friday grocery shopping trip, the Holy Saturday shopping trip for everything I forgot and Easter Sunday debate over “do I get to finish putting my makeup on or do I get the lamb in the oven on time?” ( This year, after much deliberation, my husband intervened to prevent me from leaving the house in a state that would have caused him too much embarrassment.)

After Mass, I always take a family photo to remind me how nice we can all look with a little effort, before rushing home to finish cooking. My in-laws arrive shortly after and now the clock is ticking. Everyone is hungry and I can only feed the kids so much Easter candy to keep them happy before things get out of hand.

Eventually, or more precisely, 35 minutes after I said dinner would be ready, we sit down to eat. If I’m lucky, only one of my side dishes will be cold  and need to be reheated. The feasting commences and I’ll consider it a success if I finish my meal while it’s warm, the baby doesn’t throw himself from the high chair  and the big kids don’t start talking about poop. A compliment from anyone (“Hey mom, the sweet potatoes don’t taste as gross as they usually do.”)  is a welcome bonus.

And just like that, 40 days of fasting and penance gives way to 40 minutes of gluttony and indulgence. It seems like in only the blink of an eye my immaculate banquet is in shambles and pieces, littering the edges of the china and the table. Sitting back, sipping the last of my wine, I take the first moment of peace I’ve had all day to figure out ways to dispose of all the Easter candy my children acquired. The children, unaware of my plans, are content. My husband and his parents also recline in satiated ease. In these moments, intoxicated by the wine and my grandiose feelings of domestic expertise, I am fully convinced all the effort was worth it. At least, until the dishes need done.