Schadenfreude: The Pants Edition

Aug 31 2011

I had some pants altered.

(Heh heh… that’s the best start to a blog post EVER.

After all, who doesn’t want to hear about pants?  No one!  That’s who.

No one doesn’t want to hear about pants.

Double negative = positive.

This is the problem with the world, people.  Sometimes, two wrongs do make a right.

It’s all so very confusing.

But back to my pants!  Which you cannot WAIT to hear about…)

I had some pants altered.

They’re good pants.  Black.  Soft.  Classy.  Double-button closure.  Nice, long lines… if you can ever say that a woman who cheats on her tip-toes to reach 5′ 2″ has long lines, that is.  (I have to believe it’s possible.)

They’re versatile pants.  I can wear ’em to work.  I can wear ’em to church.  I can wear ’em out to dinner.  I can never, ever wear them where my kids can wipe their noses on them; snail trails show up really well on black.  OK; they’re mostly versatile.  I take away that part about church.  My children go to church.  I wear jeans and flip flops.  Sorry, God.

But, despite their wonderful qualities, I haven’t worn the pants much.  See, I got them when I weighed a lot more than I do right now.  And even though I’m still generously overweight (which is a way, WAY better term than obese… take that, stupid BMI!), I had to have the pants taken in.  Taken in! Best pants phrase out there.  Taken in.  Taken in.  Taken in.  YEEHAW!

So I buckled down, found a tailor, and dropped trou in front of a perfect stranger to have my pants fixed.  I figured, correctly as it turns out, that alterations are cheaper than buying new.  And, other than exposing stretch marks and celulite, which I had the uncontrollable urge to explain to this kind woman (really – I stood there stuttering things like “twins” and “I swear I’m working on it” and other things I’ve blocked from my memory), it was a relatively painless process.

My pants were magically altered in one week.

Well, they were probably altered using mad seamstress skills, but it might as well be magic, as far as I’m concerned.

So I’m calling them my magic pants.

Stop it.  I can call them whatever I want.  Magic pants, it is.

I threw them on to wear to work today.  And, guess what?  They fit like magic.

After a morning of dealing with a flat tire (by which I mean Greg dealt with a flat tire… but what’s his is mine, right?), getting 1 out of 5 kids dressed (the others are still in their pajamas, as far as I know), feeding 3 out of 5 dry cereal and granola bars (what? you feed all of your kids?), and rushing to work a mere 30 minutes late (a marked improvement over last time), I was wearing pants that fit like magic.

I sat down in my car (on one pen and a whole pile of fingernail clippings… seriously, who’s sitting in the driver’s seat and clipping their nails?), and the pants… the non-lyrca, non-spandex, non-elasticized-in-any-way pants gave with my body.  They flexed and bent just right.  They didn’t bunch up.  They didn’t snag.  They didn’t cut or pull or do any of the weird things pants sometimes do.

And I thought, “Ah.  Pants that fit are one of life’s great pleasures.”

And then I thought, “I must be losing more weight magically in my magic pants.”  ‘Cause these pants, while they fit wonderfully when I tried them on at the tailor’s place, didn’t have quite this much give to them.

And then I thought, “This is the best day ever. Who cares about flat tires and parenting failures when you’ve got great, loose-fitting pants?

I walked into work a happy and content woman.  Amazing, considering that school starts for the kiddos next week, and I’m grossly unprepared from a planning, scheduling, and supplies perspective.

I wandered around work, completing tasks, and I considered the miracle of the pants.  I reminded myself that, sometimes, when we least expect it, things just go right.

And that’s the same moment when I discovered…

my fly’s been unzipped all day.

Um, oops.

Wearing suddenly tighter pants,

(Happy Schadenfreude!)

On Being A Good Vacation Role Model

Aug 26 2011

I’m way more mature than my children.

I just thought I’d put that out there in case any of you have ever wondered.

Oh.  You need proof?

That’s OK.  I’m not offended at all.  I understand completely.

So, for example, say my family is on vacation.   We’re cruising on the Disney Wonder – Day 3 of our journey – through gorgeous Tracy Arm fjord in Alaska.

The bright blue glacial ice and deep green water are majestic against the backdrop of high-reaching mountains.

The sheer volume of ice is spectacular as we work our way further and further north.

I suspect the ice is even more spectacular for the people who don’t sit on board wracking their brains trying to remember exactly how big an iceberg has to be before it punctures a ship’s hull, a la Titanic.  But whatever.

The weather is cooperating, cold but clear, and this is our chance to brave the outdoors and soak up those iceberg rays.  (“Iceberg rays,” you say?  Just you shush.  I’m a warm weather vacationer, and pretending icebergs have rays is one of many self-deceiving ploys I use to pull myself together.)

We take the family up on deck, armed with hot chocolate for the kiddos and hot coffee for the mama.  We feel the temperature plummet as we near the ice fields.

And some of us – specifically one kid and me – finish our hot beverages faster than others.  I maintain that Cael and I weren’t hoggishly fast, sucking down our drinks.  The others were just agonizingly slow.  “Right, Cael?”  “Right, Mom!”

Because coffee and hot chocolate are sustenance, folks, not unhurried pleasure.  This is no time to leisurely savor sips, wander slowly around the outside decks, and drink in beauty with our eyes.

No, I say.  Nay!  This is time to check “Lookin’ at the Ice” off of our vacation to-do list, throw back our drinks, and go do another activity!

Why, whatever do you mean that I’m impatient, don’t know how to relax, and have to be constantly on the go?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.

This, most emphatically, is NOT time for nose-pickin’, appearances to the contrary aside.

So you can see how frustrating it can be to Cael and me – who are ON SCHEDULE with our beverage drinking – to have to watch others deliberately dawdling over their own.  Ours are gone.

But back to me being way more mature than my children.

See, when someone has something I want… something I may slightly, in the smallest possible way, regret consuming faster than a seal grabs a salmon dinner…, I don’t stare longingly at it.

And I don’t pout.


Despite the fact that my friend Jody taunts me in photo after photo by holding her own coffee perilously close to me,

I never falter.


And I never break.

Gosh.  It’s just a really good thing my kids have such a strong role model to show them proper behavior.

Vacation & The Thing I Miss The Most

Aug 24 2011

Go, us!

Ten straight days of togetherness, and we survived it.  Six out of seven of us even enjoyed it!

I will undoubtedly get around to blogging more about our once-in-a-lifetime Disney cruise to Alaska.

The beauty.

The wonder.

The way we convinced our kids that taking pictures standing outside on a windy, freezing ship deck in the middle of glacierful Alaska is worthwhile, enjoyable,

and crazy fun.

But, for now, just a quick update to say, “We’re home!” and to tell you about the thing I miss the most.

The Disney Cruiseline Facebook page, which I OF COURSE follow (doesn’t everyone?), occasionally posts questions like: When you come home from a Disney Cruise, what do you miss the most?

Hundreds of people answer:  The food!  The kids’ clubs!  The wait staff!  Room service!

And I love all of those things.  I do, I do.  But, honestly, I also love sleeping in my own bed and getting my kids back to a routine, so I always have a difficult time answering that question.  What do I miss the most?

Well, we’ve been home for 24 hours, and I feel like I have my answer.

We arrived home last night just before 9:00pm after an 11-hour roadtrip.

(Which I realize is nothing compared to my friend Heidi’s Oregon-to-Georgia-and-back roadtrip with her kids and her silly, can-do attitude.  Or Carina’s east-coast roadtrip with her even littler kids and her equally silly, can-do attitude.  But I’m a whiner, and we were tired.  And it was 11 hours.  And we were tired.)

(Tired, I tell you.)

To be fair, we weren’t hungry.  (Good grief.  After cruising, we should never eat again.)

But we were a little bit, completely sick of each other.  Impatient.  Crabby.  Ready to be done.  He-poked-me!-But-she-hit-me-first! done.

Greg and I put the kiddos to bed, and they fell asleep in record time.

I unpacked nothing except my toothbrush and face wash.  There was no energy left for my usual luxury items like deoderant and shampoo.  I apologized to the rest of my body parts and told my teeth and face that they were going to have to carry the clean banner for everyone else.  It was a lot of pressure, but they said they’d do their best.

Unfortunately, as I squeezed my face wash into my hand, I realized that the past 10 days of cruise travel did nothing to prepare me to come back home.  No.  I’m afraid to say, in my time away, I became accustomed to the high life.

Lavishness.  Extravagance.  Opulence.

In a word…


As I stood there last night staring at the glob of face wash in my palm, I realized I lost the joy of washing as I used to do, by scrubbing my hands onto my bare flesh and then splashing water about until the slippery soap disappears.  Blindly groping for a towel that I didn’t locate before soaking my eyes in runny make-up and astringent face cleaners.  Grabbing the closest piece of cloth-like material from off my dirty bathroom floor and hoping that whatever’s on it isn’t as bad as whatever’s leaching into my eyes.

I longed for a bright, white, clean, soft bit o’ cloth sitting conveniently next to my immaculate, stateroom sink.  Waiting… no, begging… me to soak it in hot water, breathe in its mild bleach-and-fabric-softener scent, and color it foundation-orange, lipstick-pink and mascara-black.

A wash cloth I could use, abuse, and then toss into the shower only to find it replaced, dry and folded, by the sink the next day.

A magical, fresh, self-replenishing washcloth.

A spotless, unsoiled, daily miracle.

One week ago, we sailed on the Disney Wonder.

And today I can tell you what I miss the most.





It was a Wonder-ful trip, indeed.

(Washcloth, if you’re reading this, call me.  XOXO.)


East Coast Meets West Coast: A Guest Post by Carina

Aug 22 2011


I’m away this week on our grand Alaskan vacation.  Five kids.  Ten days.  Infinite excitement!

While I’m gone, I’ve had several people graciously write guest blog posts.  Today, I’m introducing you to my friend, Carina.  Although we’ve never met in person, Carina has become my regular Dutch pen pal, and I hope someday to visit her in Holland (or have her visit me in Oregon!).  You’ll see where the following post gives me hope.

Here’s what I love about Carina.  Carina’s got game.  She’s enthusiastic.  She’s an ain’t-gonna-let-life-get-me-down YAY-sayer.  And, get this!, she doesn’t think I’m CRAZY for having five kids.

Here’s what I don’t like about Carina.  English is not her first language, and yet she’s mastered it better than me.  Geez, Carina.  Can’t you make us native English speakers feel good by mixing up your your and you’re?  Or ending a sentence in a preposition?  Or, oh, not already knowing all of our idioms?  When I first met Carina, I truly believed she was a U.S. or British citizen living in Holland.  Sheesh!  (You’re awesome.)

Carina wrote about her recent trip from Holland to the U.S., with 3 young kids, a husband and her pregnant belly in tow.  I always love my letters from Carina because of her willingness to be silly and her hilarious take on my country of origin.  I forget the enthusiasm with which I can greet my favorite fast food chain when we’ve been apart a while, but Carina helps me remember.  In this case, I’m uber impressed that she pulled off her trip report within 48 hours of returning to Holland.  I told you she has game.

Thanks, Carina.




East Coast Meets West Coast
by Carina

East Coast meets West Coast.

No, this is not a rap star story.  There are no actual thugs in it. (Note that I said ‘actual’ — more on that later). It’s actually about traveling from Europe to the US with our kids and our plans to do it again. Better. Way better! (But not very soon, mind you.  We need time to heal. And save up money. Lots of it.)

So let me tell you some high- and lowlights of this trip for which we booked the plane tickets in November 2010 and about which my husband had been worrying ever since…

You see, we had never flown with our kids (6, 5 and 22 months) before.

We spelled out Beth’s blogs and all the other online ‘tips & tricks for flying with your young kids‘ pages, but did we think we were prepared for the undoubtedly exciting & exhausting experience? Not really. So I did what I had to do. Where my husband (the sensible one in our relationship) kept seeing possible situations in which we might be escorted off the flight due to misbehaving kids, or maybe not even making the flight at all due to similar circumstances, I kept seeing the positive in all of that, drawing a silver lining on every dark cloud. (Yes, sometimes against my better judgement, but hey, what’s a girl to do, right?)

I tried to convince him that everything would be fine (FINE I say!), but it did not always have the desired effect.  Sometimes, it even made him worry more because he started feeling that he had to worry for the both of us.  At one point the night before we left, I even started laughing out loud at him (poor guy, but he had it coming 😉 ) when he was absolutely convinced that our suitcases wouldn’t fit in the Dodge Grand Caravan we’d booked for our two-week stay. I laughed because they fit in our car over here and the US cars are so much bigger than ours, I was convinced it would fit easily.

Also, I thought the laughing would make him see the sillyness of his newest worry. I failed.

For those of you who wonder who was right about this: well, I’m happy to announce that not only was I right, it was actually declared out loud by said husband. Yay! 🙂 (On a different note: I’ll never forget the look on the face of the car rental-guy when asked whether we could take some of the seats out of the car so we’d have more space. Priceless!)

You’re probably wondering whether we were chased off our plane, boo-ed, shunned or even avoided on our 8,5 hour flight from Dusseldorf (Germany) to New York. Good news: we weren’t! Though our 5-year old daughter at times had trouble being quiet-ish and keep her hands to herself (in regards to her older brother, whom she just can’t help but touching every once in a while), the flight was fine! Which might be a small step for mankind, but a HUGE step for us. Might this mean that the rest of the worries be a bit premature as well? Might it? Ha, of course!

Though my body would not agree, my mind was ready for the rest of this trip, which obviously would be a breeze. A breeze I tell ya! 🙂

Little did I know that the US customs really didn’t want the Te Witt family to visit the US. And we thought we’d had the worst of customs experiences when taken apart by the Germans.  Who knew that a lock we keep in our stroller is actually a weapon?  It had never looked like a weapon to us… until the officer picked it up and held it over his head like he was going to smash somebody’s brains in with it.  Did I mention thugs?

Anyway, we were finally allowed into the US with a toddler sleeping on daddy’s shoulder, two fighting siblings and an extremely tired and hot pregnant lady who tried not to cry with relief. We tried not to smile, being unsure of the effect that would have on the dutiful customs officers. Who knows? They might think they did not break our spirits in quite enough places.  (If anyone reading this has a special fondness for customs officers, or is maybe even related to one, I apologize, but could you ask them to be a bit more gentle on us next time? I swear we mean no harm.  We’re just European, that’s all!)

After getting up at 5 am the next morning (hooray for jetlag!) we got an early start on the day and found out that some of the stores in Virginia open at 8 am! EIGHT in the morning!!!

Most of you are now probably shaking your head about this much ignorance, but honestly, this shook our world. It sure did.

Most shops don’t open until 10 am over here, and then all of them are closed on Sunday (the whole day) and Monday mornings (making up for having been opened on Saturday), so I guess you could see where this marvelled us. It was just magic, pure magic.

After hitting the Dollar Tree, we packed up and drove further down to North Carolina. There we reconnected with our friends & family whom we had not seen in ten years.

Notice how I just skipped over the two-day drive there? Did you? I guess the main reason for that is the fact that it’s too early for me to relive it. Way too early. Let’s just say that the judgement call we made at JFK airport on where to put the kids in the car (resulting in the two eldest kids sitting way in the back — what a mistake to make!) was not our best work.  And after having packed all of the suitcases, bags, baby bed, stroller etcetera in the car, there was just no way of changing it. So we sucked it up and hoped for the best. It wasn’t good. Or best. But we all lived through it (and daddy only gained three more gray hairs).

As we had not had more than two decent summer days in our country this summer, we were delighted about the weather in NC. It was warm, sunny and humid and we thoroughly enjoyed all of it thanks to the airconditioning unit all over the place. Bliss! Of course, like it is with all good things, we soon started experiencing the discomforts that go with 95+ degrees weather in combination with over 85% humidity, but now that we’re back home (where it’s still cold and rainy) we’re trying to think back and feel those rays of sunshine as much as we can.

For our next US trip, we’d like to drive from east to west and experience how the summer in the (mid)west differs from the east. Doesn’t that sound like the roadtrip of a lifetime? (I know, you guys are probably shaking your heads in disbelief again, wondering what those silly Europeans are exactly thinking, wondering why on earth we wouldn’t catch a plane to travel from east to west… I guess we’re quirky like that!)

What we enjoyed most during our stay in the South besides the weather? First of all, the friendly people (which made it much harder to adjust to the NY folk at the end of our trip).  Besides spending time with the sweetest North Carolinians we know, I’ve never had so much fun talking to strangers than during our visits to the NC Zoo and Kure Beach!

Second place for “most enjoyed” goes definitely, most definitely, to our Chick-Fil-A visits.  We had just two, I’m afraid, as my husband made it very clear that it was not an option to go there twice a day. 🙁  I’m still not over the shock that they close on Sunday. I know. I adjusted quickly to your lifestyle, I guess.

I should stop talking about food, because not only is it making me hungry, it’s also making me want to have some of those nuggets with polynesian sauce and a cup of coleslaw… Okay, I’ll stop now.

And then of course there was our first encounter with Bojangles, their sweet tea and biscuits, yum!

I guess you could say that for a great part of our trip, it was all about the food and I’m not embarassed about that at all! (Which doesn’t even really convince me, so I’m just going to play the European card again, hahaha!)

It was so great to be able to visit Walmart, pick myself up a copy of People (which I so need to subscribe to if only I could figure out how to do that) and Mountain Dew. Okay, I feel like I’m ready to fly back already!

Now let me tell you about how we think we’re going to improve our next trip, a.k.a. ‘The Mother Of All Roadtrips’.

First of all we’re planning on NOT being pregnant next time we do this. I should have known this, as I’m always telling everyone how every pregnancy can be totally different from the former one(s), but it still crept up on me: the exhaustion combined with a whopper of a jetlag, the three other kids running around at 5 a.m. and in the meanwhile trying to get in touch with my inner hormones, trying my darndest to calm them down… I tell you what, that was quite the interesting experience! Fortunately, behind every great woman (I feel I’m allowed to call myself that for at least a week after surviving this trip!) stands and even greater man (are you reading this, dear?), so we pulled it off. Barely, but still, we did it!

Second of all, we plan on renting an even bigger car so as to be able to leave even more space between kids, also since there will be one more by then. We’ll probably put some more thought into who to place where and next to whom.  And I’m hoping my husband will be on the ‘let them watch some dvd’s while we’re driving’-train by then. There’s always hoping, right?

Third of all, we’re going to put some serious thought into a route, maybe even letting the kids choosing one or two they’d really like to see (like we did this time, when we went to see the Statue of Liberty, which our eldest really wanted to see). Theoretically that sounds like a really good plan, doesn’t it? Let’s just hope it’s not going to turn around and bite us in the behinds….

And finally I’m hoping to receive many tips&tricks from all of Beth’s faithful readers (I know you’re out there!) about what to do, what not to do, what to see and which places to definitely avoid. Don’t let me down, people! (I wonder if it would help if I made this into a contest, which always seems to work really well if Beth does it. Maybe you could tell me whether you think I should?)

Much love to all of you, Carina (a.k.a. ‘The Dutch One’)

Landon Christopher: A Guest Post by Janelle Wheeler Olivarez

Aug 20 2011

Hi, Friend!

I’m on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska with my family.  Five kids.  Ten days.  Infinite excitement.  While we’re away having grand, bloggable adventures, I’m sharing some special posts by guest writers.

I’m excited to introduce you today to my friend, Janelle.  Janelle bears a large part of the responsibility for this blog.  See, Janelle’s an encourager.  Back in the day, I was an infrequent blogger.  I posted every two to six months.  I wanted to write more, but I was exhausted with twin babies and special needs kids.  Where in the world would I find time to write?  Janelle, though, was unswerving in her consistent barrage of kind words.  Randomly but frequently, she told me she’d like to hear more.

Encouragement has consequences, friends.  And Janelle’s consequence is this: I write.  Feel free to blame her.  I do.

Thanks, Janelle, for being a part of making something that allows me a creative outlet and introduces me to new friends around the world.  You’re a gift.

Now, Janelle’s no stranger to raising kids.  She’s the mother of a teenage daughter.  And the mother of a grown son.

Janelle and her son, Landon, have journeyed together the winding paths of diagnosing his differences.  She writes,

Neither Landon nor I have any confidentiality issues with his diagnosis. You can call it Autism Spectrum Disorder, but I don’t like to emphasize the pathology, just the difference. I’m looking forward to the day when people are educated enough to feel comfortable respecting the differences instead of labeling them. I’m really proud of how far he has come.

Janelle has advocated, defended and loved her baby boy all along the way.  There’s darkness on the journey; I know from my experience.  But we moms – of all kinds of kids – ride to find the light.

This special blog post is one Janelle wrote several years ago about a stage on the journey with Landon.

Thanks, Janelle.



Landon Christopher
by Janelle Wheeler Olivarez

I wrote this when Landon was in about first grade. It is only my point of view. I can’t say how much it reflects his reality. He doesn’t like to think or talk about how he was when he was younger, so I don’t know what it was really like for him. This is what it seemed like to me.

Once upon a time there was a little boy. He wasn’t very big and most people hardly noticed him, but he had a lot of bigness inside. All that bigness hurt, but he didn’t know how to let it out. Sometimes when he was playing a game he could forget about it. The bigness would get too busy to bother him, so he spent a lot of time at the computer. He lost himself in computer games.

Once he started to draw. He wrote a word and covered it with little spirals. Cinnamon rolls all around the word. Then he put spirals around the spirals until the page was full. Maybe if he could draw enough circles, the bigness would get lost, but it didn’t go away. So he drew mazes for it. He drew big and little mazes. He made mazes out of every piece of paper he could find. Some had three or four entrances. Some had loops and loops and fantastic beautiful designs. Some were very, very small. He filled notebooks with mazes. And on every one he wrote IN and OUT. But the bigness found its way through every maze, even the ones that were impossible, and some days the little boy thought he would explode.

He started folding origami. He found some books and learned to follow the pictures. He made deer and camels and pigs and butterflies. He made fortune tellers and sampans and hats and boats and wild fantastic shapes that fit together. He made offerings and spiders and lobsters and hearts and flowers and cranes and nesting birds. He invented beautiful, intricate symmetrical shapes without names. He took paper with him everywhere and folded everything. He folded handkerchiefs and napkins and money, gift wrap and homework and newspaper. It was as if he had to keep folding to keep the bigness inside from defeating him. He filled his room with folded paper figures. He hung them from his ceiling. They were everywhere all over the house, stuffed in pockets or drawers, under the couch. No matter how many his mom threw away or put in boxes to keep, the next day there were more and more.

Sometimes she cleaned his room. Throwing almost everything out, stacking papers neatly with scissors and tape and keeping some of the neater and more unusual shapes. But before long the paper creatures had covered the room again. He slept with them all night and they went everywhere with him. But the bigness is still there inside this strong little boy.

He can see how the world should be, he just can’t see why it’s not. He can understand a lot of things, but he can’t understand his own BIG, BIG feelings. They take him over sometimes and no one is there to help him.

As long as he is folding, he is making a different world for himself. It doesn’t matter what happens to these creations, it’s the folding that is important. As long as the paper doesn’t run out, there will always be another shape to coax out of its flatness and there will be a reason to pick up





Getting School Off To A Smooth Start: A Guest Post by Susan Heid

Aug 18 2011


I’m on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska with my family.  Five kids.  Ten days.  Infinite excitement.  While we’re away having grand, bloggable adventures, I’m sharing some special posts by guest writers.

I’m excited to introduce you today to my friend, Susan Heid.  I met Susan through our mutual blogging adventures (thanks, Kelleigh!), and I have greatly appreciated her advice, encouragement and thoughtfulness.  I’m even more excited to run my first 1/2 marathon this October with Susan!

Susan is the mom behind The Confident Mom where she loves inspiring moms to make small changes managing their home and family life giving them more time, less stress and stronger family relationships! She enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom and foster mom to 4 awesome kids – ages 18, 14, 10 and 19 months; is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.  Her FREE 5 part mini series: “The Opening Act” is helping moms become the calm mom they want to be!  Join the community of moms on Facebook or find her @ConfidentMom on Twitter.

I love it when moms help other moms!  It does my heart good.



Get Off to A Smooth Start
by Susan Heid of The Confident Mom

It is nearly time for that school bell to ring and start a new chapter in your children’s lives. I know the time before school starts is a time of anticipation, excitement and even dread for some – personally I like the feeling of getting back to a strong routine.  After a few months of more random days, it fits my personality to get back to a flow that I can anticipate a little more.  I find I get more accomplished when there is more structure to my day.  Funny, my kids are the same way!

Some moms find it a breeze to make the shift, but others struggle with finding ways to make the transition easier on their kids.  If you’ve got it down – then read no further and just go to the comments section and leave a few tips for other moms who could use some encouragement, otherwise – keep reading and hopefully you will come away with one or two fresh ideas to make your family transition a little smoother.

Complete the List

Make sure you have gathered all the school supplies that your child will need.  This is critical. I love to shop for the pencils, crayons, notebooks – all that stuff, especially with all the great deals you can find.  I enjoy seeing how “little” I can spend to get my kids set up.  I even purchase items that may not be on their lists, as I know we will always need pocket folders, index cards and more pens throughout the year.  I have a bin in our upstairs office where the kids know they can find extra supplies most anytime.  This saves running out late at night to gather a forgotten item – plus usually saves me money too.

Control Center

Set up a place where you can “know” that you can find all the school papers, notes, permissions slips, homework sheets and schedules.  Find a spot in your home that works for you, either the kitchen or an entryway table – but set it up so that you can stay organized.  Have a shelf or folder for each child and help them become accustomed to placing all their items in one central location so that you can then look through them.  This will certainly alleviate those early morning frantic frenzy’s where you are looking for misplaced papers.  Pick a spot and use it!

Rise and Shine

Have younger kids start getting up a little earlier in the morning about a week before school actually starts.  If they have been sleeping in until about 8:30 AM and their normal time to get up during the school year is 7:00 AM, we set the alarm for 8:00 AM and then each day progress 15 minutes backwards to help them adjust.  With my older kids, well I give them this idea, but it is up to them whether they want to use the idea or not.  They can feel better the first day of school with this idea or suffer with their own way of adjusting to the early mornings!  It becomes all about choices.

Morning Routine

If you have been in a habit of being a drill sergeant in your home during the mornings, see what you can do to allow your child to take more control of their morning.  Even younger kids can start doing personal hygiene duties on their own with only a little help or point of reference and you won’t be left following them around on their heels reminding, nagging and basically being their puppeteer.  You can get creative about a system that works for your child, either a list they can check off, a board they can move tags, whiteboard they can write on or even a little voice recorder with directions that they can use each morning.  Something simple that will help them be self-directed is your goal – how can you help them achieve that? You may be amazed at what they can accomplish on their own without your constant direction.  It gives them a sense of pride, accomplishment and gets your day started in a less stressful way too!

Be Prepared

Take a look at tasks that are normally done in the morning and determine what you can do the evening before.  Can you set out breakfast dishes and make cereal or other breakfast items within reach of little hands?  Can the kids pack their backpacks with their homework and school related items?  How about making lunches or at least a portion of a lunch the evening before?  Truly evaluate what tasks you AND your child can accomplish the evening before in order to make mornings run a little smoother and everyone can get out the door with a smile on their face!

What have you done at your house to get prepared for school to start?  Please share your ideas so that other moms can lower their stress level too!


Honey, The Neighbors Hate Us: A Guest Post by Sarah King

Aug 16 2011

Hi, Friend!

I’m on the trip of a lifetime to Alaska with my family.  Five kids.  Ten days.  Infinite excitement.  While we’re away having grand, bloggable adventures, I’m sharing some special posts by guest writers.

Today’s guest writer is my friend, Sarah.  Among other talents that include things like graduate school and working in higher education, Sarah and her husband, Bubba (for reals), raise pigs.  Specifically, right now, as I type this, they’re raising my family’s pig.  The one we will certainly savor for many a dinner and not a few breakfasts.

Sarah grows me bacon.  And she buys me massive amounts of local butter.  And she once gave me a shot of whiskey.  Yep; that’s what we call a triple threat in the local food biz — bacon, butter, whiskey.

I might have a few inappropriate feelings for Sarah.

(I love you, Sarah.  Call me.)



Honey, The Neighbors Hate Us
by Sarah King of The Collective

Two years ago, my husband and I had a tree removed from our yard that had partially grown into the fence and therefore required a section of our fence to be removed.

Today, my friends, the neighbor started putting back the fence section that’s been missing for two years.

We’ve finally pissed them off enough that they can’t stand the sight of our yard anymore and are rebuilding the fence.


But seriously, can we blame them? I mean, we have 4 chickens and 4 ducks, 1 dog, and they don’t even know we have one more pup on the way next month. Not to mention the fact that a food distribution truck makes deliveries of large quantities of flour and butter to our home every quarter and then a bunch of mysterious cars pull up and drive away giggling about how much butter and flour they managed to order.

So what the hell are we doing?

Well, some call it being crazy, but we like to call it “community development and sustainability.”  They’re buzz words that are kind of like the word “consultant”- they cover a multitude of sins.

See – we want to be farmers. Not because it’s trendy and certainly not because it means that we can legitimately wear skinny jeans and flannel. (Skinny jeans don’t make Bubba’s butt look as bootylious as we might hope.)

We want to be farmers because we believe in being salt-of-the-earth people who work hard for the things we have and are confident in our abilities to provide for ourselves and our families. Not only do we want to do this for us…we want to do it with our community.

We believe that communities should be able to provide growth, nourishment and sustainability from within. We also believe that people should share resources that include goods and services and education. When we work together within our communities, we find our special skills and qualities that allow us to serve and support one another in ways we may have never known, or simply sought from other places.

So what does this have to do with Beth’s blog? Well, you might remember the post from Greg about preparing for the apocalypse. Bubba and I chimed back about our willingness to be a neighboring commune based around the work we are doing under the name “The Collective.” We have the pig thing down as well as several other domestic abilities so we hope that you will consider joining the larger community with the communes.

If you say yes, we’ll tell you the secret password so we know you’re not a zombie.

You can find information about The Collective and its crazy community doings by visiting or