Category Archives: the lived in house


The other day on a Target run for toilet paper and paper towels, we happened down the detergent aisle. I always buy fragrance free detergent and we still had a fairly large jug at home, but I was drawn to the detergent. I thought, what the heck? and bought a big ol’ jug of scented detergent. (I know, I live dangerously.) (I also know that two of the people who live in our house are boys and well, it’s been hot, and well, they kind of stink.)

Anyway, we bought our no fun $80 worth of toilet paper, paper towels, detergent and feminine products (how I hate to spend $80 and get such boring stuff) and I didn’t give it another thought.

I was sitting in bed yesterday afternoon reading a book. (In the middle of the day!) Maggie was in her room and Nick was watching a show. It was quiet and peaceful. It was like we had finally gotten the hang of summer. It started to rain a bit. I settled in a little deeper into my bed, because the only thing better than reading during the day is snuggling up to read on a rainy day.

A few minutes later Maggie came down to join me because “the lightning was freaking her out.” She was in my room for about 4 minutes before I jumped up a little panicked realizing I needed to check the basement.

See, we have a basement that has flooded on more than one occasion. The great flood of last year being the worst by far. We lost the carpeted portion of our basement, a nice leather couch, a water heater, and all the drywall.

I ran down the stairs much like I did last year upon realizing how much rain had come in such a short time. It was already wet on 1/3 of the basement and water was pouring in under the door. Usually, for such a small amount of rain this means that the french drain outside the door has gotten clogged with leaves. I opened the door and to about 6 inches of water which came flooding in before I could slam the door closed again.

Maggie was really freaking out now.

Did I mention the lightning? There was lots. I ran outside to try to unclog the drain when I realized the drain wasn’t the problem. The sump pump wasn’t emptying.

Now I was beginning to freak out.

Luckily we left the lowest shelves in the basement empty so if we could keep the water low, we wouldn’t need to move much. So I just had to get the water to stop. But how?

Well, naturally, I would grab the loads of clean, folded towels and blankets that were right within reach to try to plug up the door. (Or at least to make the water not sound so ominous as it poured in.)

I unplugged the sump pump and plugged it back in. I tried the breaker.

And then I gave up and called Mike in a panic.

He headed home, but I knew with the speed at which water was still coming in, that something had to be done.

I kept imagining a lightning strike hitting any of the yard which was now like a wading pool. I also had to unplug many things in the basement while standing in an inch of water. Not my favorite way to spend an afternoon.

I blocked the main flow of water outside with a big piece of wood. That at least changed the flow of water so that all the water coming from the roof wasn’t riding the gutter to the basement stairs and into the house.

By now the whole floor had about 2 inches. I goofed around with some little containers, but there wasn’t even anywhere to bail it to. The rain was coming so fast and hard. It took 40 minutes to flood what took over a day during last year’s flood. It.Was.Freaky.

Mike got home, rigged up our secondary/temporary sump pump and emptied all the water out within an hour or two. The rain stopped and the sun came out. Our street which was completely underwater at 3:30 was completely clear by 4:45.

sump pump

I grilled chicken outside for dinner. It was so bizarre. If you weren’t home for any of it, you would have no idea what had happened. (Well, we would have because our stuff was floating.)

As soon as the road cleared, the sump pump had somewhere to pump the water and our main pump turned out to be fine. I was convinced it had to be broken for that much water to back up so quickly, but I was wrong. It was a freaky, fluke of a storm that dumped 3.5 inches of water in less than an hour.

Mike worked most of the evening to make the temporary pump permanent. Now all I have to do is plug it in if we ever need it.

Did you know water that runs off your roof, into dirt, around a corner, down the basement steps and under a door gets quite dirty?

It does.

So today? Today I have re-washed countless loads of laundry with our scented laundry detergent, but we didn’t lose our water heater or our new washer and dryer and for that I am grateful.


days like this

Yesterday was one of those days. It started out decent enough. We slept in, ate breakfast and got dressed without any major battles. Oh, I forgot, there was one battle. My son flicked about 35 little beads off his bead instead of putting them in the bucket like he was supposed to. When it came time to clean them up, he insisted I help him.

Which I did not.

I saw him flick the first one and mentioned that he would be cleaning up any beads that fell on the ground.

And he continued.

So, I didn’t feel too bad when he cried for my help in cleaning them up.

“Who put the beads on the ground?”


“Who will have to pick them up?”



First he shoved them all under the bed. When I came up to look, I pointed them out to him and he crumbled into tears again.

As a show of support, I moved them from way under the bed into a pile of sorts next to the bed. And then I walked away.

After a half hour battle of wills, he cleaned them up.

The next part of the day was right out of a movie. We went for an oil change and I brought a book to read. What? you ask. Why yes, I brought a book and my children each had an activity and we sat like civilized people in a crowded waiting room and all was right in the world. I actually read a little.

We did a little consignment shopping. (Got some great deals!)

Then we came home and the bottom fell out.

We have had a 10-day struggle going on concerning Maggie’s room and the cleanliness of it, or rather the lack of cleanliness.

I had a post almost ready to publish of my superior mothering abilities (insert tongue in cheek) of how I was going to let her figure out for herself that if things get broken and trashed and lost it’s because they are littered all over the floor. I was prepared to let her learn the lesson at age 7 instead of when she was off in her first apartment or whatever. (I like to torture myself by projecting 12 years into the future.)

Add in the fact that I just bought Maggie a whole freaking new wardrobe and realized she was walking all over the clothes she has worn in the last week, I started to fester a bit.

I would love to have a few new (to us) bags of clothes.  Hell, my pajamas don’t even match anymore.

My husband and I have differing opinions on the room cleaning issue. I kept hearing his disgust over my permissibility and I lost the battle going on in my own head.

I gave her an hour to clean her room up.

I checked back when she said she was ready.

And I found a clean-enough room that met my lax inspection. I brought the vacuum in to do away with the beads that were littering her floor. (What idiot bought these children all these beads? Oh, I did? Hpmf.)

And then the wheels fell off. (Not the vacuum wheels. The mothering wheels.)

I lifted the bedskirt to find everything that had previously been on the floor shoved under the bed.

It was not pretty. I was not pretty.

I gathered a laundry basket and started emptying the room. After the second (rather large) laundry basket and lots  and lots of 7-year-old tears, the room was considerably, ahem, cleaner.

She will get to earn things back for each day that her room stays clean. And the beads are going away until a time when they don’t make me twitch, if such a time ever exists.

She was beside herself with grief at her losses, but quickly explained to her dad when he got home what had happened and how she would earn things back. She bounced back much more quickly than I did.

I’m still not sure what to do about the room situation. I have my own messy room (my office) and don’t respond well to criticism of its cleanliness. It’s my room. Close the door. Don’t go in there.

So why shouldn’t my 7-year-old have the same luxury?


It’s the last day of school! Kind of. Nick’s last day, anyway. And Maggie only has a half-day tomorrow, so no lunch to pack.

I approach this summer with excitement and a little apprehension. I really do well with a few hours of being alone. I’m one of those people who could stay at home by myself for three days and not care. I’d be happy, in fact. Not all the time, but often enough to consider myself a loner.

Of course, I love my children and my husband. I love them dearly. Desperately.

And then I like to take a break from them to think, and write, and create.

I’m trying to cut myself some slack and cull my to-do list to only the absolute must-do stuff. When I have a manageable to-do list, I’m a little more relaxed and able to have more fun.

That’s one of my goals for the summer – to kick back and really have fun. To not take myself so seriously. Loosen up. R-E-L-A-X.

Another goal is to launch an Etsy shop. So, there’s a little give and take that will have to go on, but I can’t go the whole summer without creating.

We have some OT and PT skills to work on with Nick, which can almost all be introduced in the form of “play.” I just have to be on the ball enough to have them ready to introduce and remember to do them.

I’m determined to schedule a night out every week where I get to visit with friends, eat food someone else has prepared, or even go to the Y for an evening workout.

The whole time, I will be making a list of projects to tackle after the kids are back in school. (I *may* even start a list for 15 months from now when they are both in school full-time. That’s just how I operate.) So we have 81 days to soak up all summer has to offer. At this moment it’s a live performance waiting for me in the basement.

laziness FTW

On this, our 382nd snow day of the month, my laziness has come in handy. Mike tried to empty a laundry basket yesterday that was filled with some of my “junk.” He thought it was the kids’ stuff, but I told him it was mine and that I would deal with it tomorrow. (Famous last words.) He may or may not have rolled his eyes.

Since I actually told him I would deal with it, I decided I should go ahead and do it.

Look what I found – craft projects! Yay! Perfect for a snow day.

Do I normally have super cute craft projects waiting in a nearby laundry basket? Well, no. But I do if I was in charge of a craft project for Maggie’s first grade class on December 18th and I never got around to emptying my bag until yesterday when I transferred everything to an empty laundry basket so I could begin filling the bag for its next outing.

I thought these snowman measuring sticks would be kind of like having a snow shovel – totally unnecessary. Hahaha. Turns out the kids have actually had snow to measure this year.

If you live near me, you will be happy to know the snowmen now have a place of honor on the refrigerator so they will be handy for measuring all future snowfalls. (Meaning there will be no future snowfalls. Right? RIGHT!?)

The Cat

The cat ate tuna.

The cat then ate a ponytail holder.

The cat threw up the ponytail holder and tuna.

I cleaned up the ponytail holder and tuna vomit.

I will never eat tuna again.


I may never wear a ponytail again.

That is all.

pancakes, footballs, and light bulbs

The family headed out this morning for a nice leisurely breakfast. Maggie feigned a minor stomach ache to try to get a change of venue, which did not work. I vetoed the change to Cracker Barrel to go to a local diner we had already decided on.

We enjoyed a lovely meal and then headed to Target to exchange a duplicate gift that Nick received. And my husband totally got the lady at Target to give us a credit even though we didn’t have a receipt.

We started the search for a game/toy/item that the birthday boy would like. Since it’s right after Christmas and his birthday, this is harder than it sounds. Throw in there that my husband and I have polar opposite ideas of what makes a good toy, not to mention the input from Maggie, it was much harder than you can imagine.

Finally we headed back to the sporting goods section. Nick had been rather indifferent about most of the things the rest of us had suggested. But we turned the corner and he spotted a football and the decision was made. I asked if he wanted the smaller version that might be easier to throw. Ummm, no.

You have never seen a happier boy than Nick marching up to the check out with his regulation size football “which has an N on it for Nick.” (Or NFL.)

And then the battery in the car was dead.

And our leisurely breakfast turned into another trip into Target for jumper cables, a quick text to a friend, a kind** stranger who gave us a jump, and a trip to Walmart (eww, I know, but it was the only place open) for a new battery.

And since we were in Walmart with a little time to kill, we searched out the light bulb we needed for new Maggie’s Easy-Bake oven. Not long life, not frosted, not this, not that.  We found the only one that met the conditions and for just under $100 we were on our way home (umm, including the battery, of course.)

We spent 45 minutes making the tiniest cake you have ever seen. At the same moment the bubble over my head was planning the Craigslist ad for the Easy-Bake Oven, Maggie said “When I have children, they can have my Easy-Bake Oven.”

She and Nick shared the tiniest cake you’ve ever seen. And Maggie declared it the Best.Cake.Ever.

**It crossed my mind that we have just started doing Random Acts of Kindness and here we were, in need of one.


One word

My writing mamas and I meet each month to share and critique our writing. What started as a group of virtual strangers has become a close-knit, multi-faceted group of sisters.

But the writing has, well, let’s just say floundered.

We love our time with each other that is carved out of every month. There is rarely a lack of conversation and recently the conversation has taken over our mama nights. And that’s been a nice break. A welcome refuge as we all deal with life’s greatest joys and deepest traumas.

By December of this year, we knew there wasn’t much time in anyone’s lives for an in-depth writing assignment. So we chose a one word assignment.

What is the one word you would like to encompass 2011? And why?

Most of us didn’t even write it out, but we had thought out our intentions and it made for a lovely evening of sharing.

My word: Simplify.

Every part of my life could benefit from some simplicity. I tend to make some things much harder than necessary. This year, my goal is to simplify.

I got to test myself before 2011 has even rung in when we threw my son’s 4th birthday party. We have always hosted it somewhere outside the home, because after the Christmas rush, it’s nice to get out. And cleaning before and after toddler/pre-school parties in not high on my to-do list.

So we chose a “playtown” that allowed a lot of free play. I made ginger bread cookies, since my son doesn’t really like cake much. We had juice boxes, grapes and pretzels. My dad played music on his guitar while the children ate. It was lovely. And simple.

The workers of the playtown mentioned numerous times how relaxed we were. They said everything was so easy. The kids had a blast. The parents were happy because no one left totally jacked on sugar. I left happy because the party was very affordable.

I think I’m going to like this simplify thing. I’ll keep you posted.

What will your word for 2011 be? I’d love to hear what you choose.

(p.s. – oh, and the writing mamas? We’ve got plans. 2011 is already shaping up to be full of ideas. I can’t wait to share some of them with you!)