Tag Archives: kids

Have Kids, Will…Make a Fort (No Boys Allowed)


Having a space of my own became an urgent priority a few years ago.  As the only female in my household for the past 20 years, I’ve desperately yearned for a place to call my own.  Our sweet little, old farmhouse only has one bathroom upstairs that we ALL share (go ahead, ladies, gasp!).  So while I’ve semi-patiently tolerated all sorts of bathroom issues that come with five males peeing all over the one toilet that I, too, have to use, I hit a breaking point when I was trying to work/write from home.  Having a home-based business has many upsides, but too many distractions for this lady to function well.

Much too long after man-caves became a “thing,” women have now been allowed the same accommodation… a little escape from the shared household spaces.  It never did seem fair that the fun, casual drinking spaces were reserved for the guys–a space that didn’t need to be cleaned very well or used to entertain guests other than more guys who also sought refuge from those damned feminized rooms within the home.  I like drinking and relaxing as much as the next guy (or gal) but I needed a space that didn’t require me to look around and think, “Oh, so-and-so didn’t put his laundry away.  I’ll just do that before I get to this article.”  Or, “Gosh, those dirty dishes in the sink are going to stink if I don’t load the dishwasher before I work on this floor plan.  Better take care of that.”

Obviously, if we’re only working with one upstairs bath we also don’t have a spare room to use as an office.  Eventually, I was able to wrestle this space above my garage into my own private fort.  Or, as one of the boys calls it, my tree house.  We painted the whole thing glossy white to maximize the light that comes through the fabulous round window that a client couldn’t use.  Then, I found these great light fixtures from Cedar and Moss, a lighting company in Oregon.  They’re way cool and great quality!


Even though the furniture is all upcycled, repurposed, and second-hand, it came together nicely to provide a very comfy mom-cave work space that I absolutely love.  And it has a bathroom!




Have Kids, Will…Nurse My Ego

Having boys has opened my eyes to a special kind of flattery:  the kind that only a Mommy can get from her little boy.   In his eyes you’re a princess…beautiful, nice smelling, kind, and infallible.  He wants to snuggle, hold your hand, and marry you because you’re the most wonderful woman in his world.  Your heart absolutely melts when he looks into your eyes and tells you how beautiful you are.  And you are.  I’ve no doubt about that.

But then, he gets bigger.  Older.  Wiser.  Maybe a little cynical.  Suddenly you’re being picked apart like last week’s garbage.  Your breath stinks (somehow that coffee breath previously went unnoticed), you’re mean and unfair, your butt is big, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.

My big nose and big teeth were recently subjects of scrutiny and raillery.  The boys were being very funny, cracking each other up as I stood there, a witness to my fall from familial eminence.  And this was on the heels of having my youngest draw a picture of me on the back of a restaurant menu…as a green witch.

Despite the slight bruising to my ego, I do find a sense of relief when my kids hit this point.  There’s a lot of pressure involved in being the most awesome person in the world.  When your children finally realize you are, in fact, a flawed human being and not the smartest person in the world, you’re off the hook.  I’m totally comfortable admitting to my mistakes and physical shortcomings because I have nothing to prove except that this ugly witch loves them unconditionally.

Have Kids, Will…Eavesdrop

Don’t you just love listening to your kids talk to one another when they don’t know you’re listening?  Or when they have a friend in the car and they suddenly start whispering and giggling together?  Considering I have all boys all the time, I regularly hear some really great (and equally appalling) potty humor.  All my best jokes have come from first and seventh graders.  It’s all ridiculous stuff that is innocent enough, whispered through the hot breath of little boys who don’t always brush their teeth.

Just last week I was carting a couple of elementary schoolers to a party.  They were playing a Nintendo game during the drive.  One friend asked to have a character created for him and, glancing up at me in the rear view mirror, whispered, “Name him Penis.”  The belly laughs that that comment induced were adorable, even if the subject was completely stupid.

The chalkboard in my mud room recently announced, “Welcome to Butt-town!”  Yes, indeed.  I live in Butt-town.  Every gross, stinky body function or body part is up for grabs in regular conversations and jokes alike.  Car rides are filled with farts, burps, and armpit noises.  Outside, it’s seeing who can spit or pee the farthest.  Words like “balls” and “nuts” garner snickers no matter what we’re actually talking about.

On the other hand, the sweetness that I get to witness when the boys are in their beds, with lights out as they settle in for the night, is sometimes miraculous.  Ages ago, when my oldest two were maybe 4 and 6, I heard Eli say, “I love you, Max.”  Just like that.  It was so out of the blue and surprising that Max replied, “Wow, Eli.  That makes me want to cry.”  I remember thinking, Same here! 

The younger two, who also share a room, were recently having a quiet argument as they were lying in their beds.  When I walked into their room, ready to tell them to be quiet and go to sleep, I realized they were actually arguing about how many moons Jupiter has.  Scientific discussions?  Declarations of love?  Why doesn’t THIS happen during the day?  I just better keep my ears open and savor all that good stuff.

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Have Kids, Will…Clean (Again and Again and Again)

There must be something very gratifying about having a clean house.  You can welcome guests with ease, confident that they’ll be comfortable in your lovely, uncluttered home.  You can have an impromptu gathering for coffee or cocktails, serving refreshments in clean glassware that’s been neatly put away in the cupboard and is free of dust or dried on gunk.  You can even sit back, put up your feet, and sigh a breath of gratitude for how lucky you are to live in such a nice, tidy space.  I wouldn’t know.

With four kids, all of whom are BOYS, a husband who is just as messy as the kids, a dog, a cat, and a house in the woods, where every stinkin’ pine needle, leaf, and clump of dirt comes in on everyone’s shoes and paws, my house is rarely ever clean.  And when it is, it’s because a monumental effort has been put forth to get it that way.  Admittedly, I HATE to clean and I can find a million other things to do with my time other than even basic maintenance.  As a result, it can get pretty gross.

Yesterday, I decided the upstairs bathroom really needed a good scrubbing.  Resigned to spend a precious half hour or so on the room, I wiped down the cabinets and walls which had been covered in several clouds of baby powder dust over the past week.  This is a new passion for the youngest two…a thorough dusting after every shower, which leaves a fine white coating on every surface.  A good, deep cleaning followed and, with pathetic pride, I stood back and admired the loveliness of having at least one clean room in my house.  Until they all came home.

By evening, nay by 4 p.m., I smelled a strong chemical odor coming from the upstairs bathroom.  Turns out, my boys can’t simply sit on the toilet to do their business, they have to keep busy!  One of them decided it would be fun to coat the counter top with Compound W wart remover while he was sitting there.  I imagine he was thinking: Let’s add a little baby powder to that.  Why don’t I trim my bangs while I’m at it and the scissors are right here in the vanity.  Oh, Mom might not like all this.  I’ll just grab one of those freshly washed towels to wipe it all off and then leave it on the floor.  Phew!  That was a close one.

At least I know who’s getting bathroom cleaning duty this weekend…not me!

Have Kids, Will…Marvel at the Treasures Within a Dirty Car

Minivans are cool.  No, really, I mean it.  Ever since “having” to purchase one because our family could no longer fit in a normal size vehicle, I have offered mighty praise for this under appreciated set of wheels.  I like that all six of us can travel comfortably in it, along with all the gear, entertainment devices, and bags of snacks that usually travel with us.  We even have room for a couple of friends.  But, it’s all that “stuff” that tends to get left behind.

Anytime we’ve gotten a new (used, but new to us) car, I always consider it a fresh start: a chance to have a nice, clean car, and to keep it that way.  No food or drinks.  Muddy shoes in a plastic bag.  Wipe your nose on your sleeve.  That lasts about a month if I’m extra mean.  Otherwise, it’s about two weeks.

Now that we’ve had our current minivan for several years, it’s looking just as shabby as the last one did when we traded it in with a peppermint still stuck in one of the cup holders.  That thing just would not budge.  Recently, though, out of complete disgust, I cleaned that baby out, ready to take it to the car wash where they would vacuum it, clean the windows on the inside, and wipe away the inch of dust that was forming peaks on my dashboard.  Hopefully the funky smell would go away, too.

As I was sorting through the items that needed to be taken inside from the trash that needed to be tossed, I came across all sorts of treasures.  (You know it’s been awhile since you’ve cleaned out your car if you’re dividing things into piles!)  There was last week’s homework that was never turned in, a field trip permission slip that was also overdue, a library book that I had to pay for because it was thought to be forever lost, candy wrappers, cracker crumbs, juice bags: all the normal kid trash.  Then, lots of pens, pencils, and markers that are never around when we need them, rogue socks (but not a pair, naturally), a jacket, tiny rubber bands from one kid’s braces, and most surprising of all, a tooth.  A DNA crime lab could have a field day with all the hair and bitten off finger nails that were left behind, but a tooth?  Who lost a tooth and just left it in the car?

At least the tooth fairy has some money to leave whichever kid has a fresh gap in his smile with all the loose change I just found.

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Have Kids, Will…Play Hooky

About this time every year, after all four boys have gone back to school, my husband will suggest we play hooky together.  Just us.  Alone.  It’s a proposition he makes with a wistful longing in his voice and a twinkle in his eye.  Like something forbidden and extra indulgent, he’ll devise a secret plan to get me to go along with him…on a datein the daytime!  I usually concede because, really, who doesn’t want to spend most of the day on a boat or at the beach without the kids and without paying a babysitter?

After a summer filled with fun vacations and much-needed “down time” at home, plenty of sunshine and water activities, as well as whining, fighting, and bleeding (as in noses, knees, fingers, and toes), we need a break.  When school is finally in session it’s the perfect opportunity to take one.  So, yesterday, we did!

Our clandestine plan was put into action without the kids knowing.  I dropped them off at school as usual, but with my bathing suit smartly hidden and my paperback tucked into my purse.  The idea of quietly reading on the beach without interruption was titillating! Meanwhile, my husband packed his truck with beach chairs, surf boards, and a cooler full of beer, sandwiches, and Prosecco (he thought we were really going to party!).  Then he met me at a hotel parking lot near the school, which added to the sense that we were being kind of naughty.  We drove to the beach with the windows down and music blaring, savoring our mischief.

Even though we were on a tight schedule, being an hour and a half away and needing to get back in time for pick-up, our precious few hours on the beach were refreshing.  As much as I love taking my kids to the ocean, going without them feels pretty good, too.  I’m not advocating regularly shirking responsibilities at work, but just like on those rare occasions that I skipped school as a teenager, doing something just a little out of the ordinary creates a kind of spring in my step.

Of course, once the boys saw all the sand in the car and the pink in our cheeks that afternoon, we were totally caught.  That’s okay–they should know that their parents still have fun together.  I hope the same for them someday!