I’m Moving to Mexico

May 30 2014

We are 60 hours post-surgery on my kid, and I’ve officially lost all the the poo there is to lose. Which is a complete and utter lie. There is always more poo to lose, and I haven’t begun to hit the mother load because, let’s be honest, the mother load is a LOT of poo. There is a LOT of poo to lose. All the Poo. There is All the Poo to lose and I’ve but lost a tiny fraction of it. But I’ve been awake every hour on the hour for the last 60 hours straight, dispensing opiates and turning on the ice machine and comforting the teenager who’s all WHAT DID YOU LET THEM DO TO ME even though we’ve had her foot surgery planned for, like, ever, and I’m a little done in. A little fried. A teeny, tiny bit at the end of my rope. And the barest bit Yell All the Things I’m Thinking at Greg. Hold Nothing Back! Which would be nice if I was thinking about roses and puppies, but I’m not. I’m not. I’m really, really not.

I’d like to just take this minute to do a shout out (do you do a shout out? make a shout out? is that too like making a poo? or do you simply Shout Out without the doing or the making at all? HELP ME) to all of you who are Awake with Small Children All Through the Night. YOU ARE HEROES. Do you know? YOU ARE HEROES who somehow Exist Without Sleep but Keep on Tickin’ like that battery-operated toy at the bottom of the toy box that will not – WILL NOT – shut up already. Except, unlike that toy, which is creepy as hell at night, you ROCK. And as many bloody noses and wet beds and bad dreams and vomitty messes as I get up with in the middle of the night, I am out of your league, mamas and daddies of babies. OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE. Which the last 60 hours showed me in spades.

I left home tonight. Left Greg and All the Children and skedaddled. Outta there. Gone. Because I needed a break to find some of the poo I’d misplaced. And, just before I closed the front door, when the Children asked me when I was coming back, I said, “NEVER! I am NEVER coming back. I am moving to Mexico because they have beaches and sunshine and lounge chairs and BOOKS, and none of those things exist in Oregon. NONE.” And it was a very dramatic exit, but they all rolled their eyes at me, and Abby said in a stage whisper I’d probably be back tonight, and one of the littles asked me to pick him up a churro. A churro. Because my children MOCK MY PAIN. And Greg joined them saying, “You can’t go to Mexico ’til January, anyway” like he’s the boss of me, and I said, “January? January?? WATCH ME.” 

So this time, I’ve decided to do it.

I’ve decided to move to Mexico. ‘Cause that’ll show ’em just like it showed my parents when I ran away in the 3rd grade, which they never noticed, but whatever. 

I’m moving to Mexico, and I’m doing it right now. 

Right after I run some errands, I’m outta here. OUT, I tell you.

I’ve decided to move to Mexico, but first I have to go get a mouse for our snake and food for the dog and those chips Abby likes.

And I’ve decided to move to Mexico, but first I have to go to the pharmacy to renew the kids’ prescriptions.

Yes, I’ve decided to move to Mexico, but first I have to clean my house because my mommy told me to always wear clean underwear in case I’m in an accident, and right now my house looks like it’s been in a terrible, terrible accident, and none of its underwear is clean. Metaphorically or literally. So someone’s gotta fix that whole situation.

Sure, I’ve decided to move to Mexico, but I have to go home and see Abby through surgery recovery and physical therapy. Which will take at least 6-8 weeks, at which point she’ll have her 2nd foot surgery. But 6-8 weeks after that one, I’m gone. GONE. 

Assuming I’ve done the grocery shopping.

And the extracurricular planning.

And the extensive calendar-writing.

And, of course, the butt wiping. And the tear drying. And the boo-boo kissing. And the night-nighting.

And the hugging and the loving and the living and dying, which happens every day. 

And the breathing and the being.

And the moving and the shaking.

And the still-as-stone-ing and the stop everything-ing.

And the reckoning. And the gratitude-ing. And the attitude-adjusting. And the mama-it’s-ok-to-resting. It is, mama… shhhhh. It’s ok to rest.

… but right after all those things, I’m moving to Mexico. I am.

And I mean it this time.

Who’s in?

My Last Words on Earth Will Be…

May 27 2014

I’m sporting an enormous bruise on my right butt cheek after gracefully slipping in my bunny slippers down the stairs on Sunday. Of course, I yelled, “OH, SHIT” during the THUMP BOOM CRASH, and of course all my children heard me, even the littles, and of course they all thought I was HILARIOUS except the lone child who wanted to know if I was OK and who is now my Official Favorite. I’d like to get t-shirts made for occasions like these – Official Favorite Child t-shirts – which I can distribute with pomp and circumstance and a huge ceremony and cake so I can mock the rest of my children better, since they never, ever believe me when I make mere verbal pronouncements of favoritism. “He’s not your favorite, Mom,” they say, sing-songy and puffed up with misplaced confidence. “We’re all your favorites,” they insist. Which… whatever.

I was 18 years old and headed back to college when I first learned my last words on Earth will be OH, SHIT.

I was driving my snazzy, navy blue Toyota Tercel hatchback alone from Colorado to Idaho, petal to the metal, man, when I drove off the left side of the road and over-corrected which sent me careening to the right and spinning out of control on the sandy right margin where I came to rest within a few feet of a cliff with no barrier, at which point I noticed the narrator in my car, coming off a prolonged and rather loud OH SSSHHhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittTT, started in on the shit staccato: shit *breathe* shit *breathe* shit *breathe* shit *breathe*, followed by a whole lot of shaking.

Please understand, as soon as I caught my breath I was mortified by this entire situation because I was a nice Christian girl – a missionary kid, for God’s sake (literally) – and I attended a nice, small, conservative Christian college where I’m sure – positive – it’s written somewhere in the lifestyle agreement that our Last Words on Earth are not allowed to be Oh Shit or any derivative thereof. Yet there I was, about to approach the Pearly Gates with shit on my lips instead of a prayer or a confession or praise or thanksgiving or something – anything at all – more triumphant or sweet or … quotable… than an expletive, you know? And I couldn’t think of any way to prove myself less suitable for entrance to Heaven than bringing the shits with me. 

This is not how I thought I’d give up the ghost, so unladylike and crass and gauche, and so I waited until I was in my late 30’s to confess to my father that I’ve spent more than 20 years coming to spiritual terms – and getting my explanation ready for St. Peter – for what will surely leave my mouth should I come to a sudden, accidental end. Which is when my dad – my former Marine / retired pilot / missionary father – said, “Ah, yes. Of course those will be your last words, sweetheart. In the aviation business, we call it the Shit Trilogy.”

“The what?” I asked.

“The Shit Trilogy,” he said. “We say it when there’s trouble in the air. Ah, shit… Oh, SHIT… HOLY SHIT and we hope to have a resolution by the end of the litany.” 

And, I don’t know how to explain it, exactly, but the Shit Trilogy made me feel better. The idea that this is a common experience, yes, but especially the idea that even the most well trained and best prepared of us, well, sort of shit ourselves when we’re on the way down. Like, everything’s just falling apart and we’ve slipped on the stairs and we know we’re going to crash and burn and we’re not entirely sure we’re going to make it out of this one alive.

Like life, you know?

Like life with all the slipping and falling and crashing and burning. 

My friend Abbie says crapballs a lot. My sister-in-law Kim just says balls. I usually try to keep my shits to myself but we can all see how well that works when I’m falling. And I used to spend a lot of time embarrassed – maybe ashamed – of how I acted and the ways I flailed and the things I said on my way down. But I’ve had a lot of time these 20+ years to think about my Oh Shits in the heat of the moment, and to catch my breath at the almost-crashes, and to feel the bruises on my butt when I fall all the way down, and to watch my kids giggle at their mommy and to see that her mistakes and slips of the feet and the tongue are just part of it. And I don’t know; I guess I’ve come to think that God, who I call Love, accepts the cries of our heart. Even – perhaps especially – the shits.

5 Probably Totally Scientific Reasons Boys MUST Clutch Their Penises

May 21 2014

I asked my nephew to get his hand out of his pants, and he replied with ill-disguised disdain, “Not yet, Auntie Beth. I’m playing hide and seek.” So, you know. My bad.

Look. Boys hold on to their penises, folks, starting at age zero, and you can complain about it all you want, but they have to do it. There’s a biological imperative at play, obviously, because no matter how many times you tell a boy child to get his hand out of his pants, it ends up back in there. And if the boy is naked? Well, then penis-holding is essential, really. Crucial. A sacred responsibility. 

If you’ve ever wondered why small boys must clutch themselves with the concentration and single-minded attention usually reserved for Secret Service agents guarding the President, I’m here to help. Here are:

hand5 Probably Totally Scientific Reasons Boys MUST Clutch Their Penises

  1. It’s magnetic. The penis is not shaped like a pole coincidentally, ladies and gentlemen. It’s an actual pole with polarity. That’s why it sproings up from time to time and points in random directions like a bobble head. The penis is the south pole and the hand is the north pole. There’s no choice; you can move the hand away for a while, but left to its own devices… wooooooop… it’s pulled right back in place.
  2. For balance. Obviously, it’s easier to walk holding onto a rail. Frankly, the surprise here isn’t the fact that little boys have to hold their penises to walk; the surprise is that girls can manage to stay upright without a grab handle at all.
  3. The TV doesn’t work unless you grab your penis. There is a serious connection between functional electronics and penis-clutching. Reference: all the boys with hands down their pants during TV shows. You know all those times the satellite dish cuts out due to “weather?” Or the internet is “on the fritz?” Or a cable line gets “cut?” It’s because some mom somewhere spitefully made a little boy stop holding his penis. It’s like the penis version of “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings;” when the penis was released, all the TV-watching ceased.
  4. Contractual obligation. Before birth, at the gender station, God says, “You can pick Penis or No Penis, but if you choose Penis, I’m only giving it to you if you agree to hang onto it all the time, and I am not kidding. Do not test the Lord your God, kid. If you don’t hold it, it will float away like that balloon you’re going to lose at the fair.” And then God makes the little boys turn in their car keys and a major credit card and put down a hefty deposit, which they do not get back if they lose their penis.
  5. They’re explosive, like grenades, except penises are issued with the safety pins pulled, so boys have to keep one hand on them at all times. And all of us who’ve ever shared a bathroom with small boy children know the implications of penis explosions. It’s not good. Not good at all. They’re doing us a favor, really, by holding on so long and so well, like they’re saying, “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got a good grip on this thing. You run. Run to safety and DO NOT STOP ’til you’re clear. Do you hear me? SAVE YOURSELVES.” Which really should be the warning sign on my bathrooms. SAVE YOURSELVES.

Now, I am very scientifically minded, but, as we all know, science is always evolving, so I won’t pretend this is a comprehensive list. If you have any theories, therefore, please share. I think I can speak for everyone when I say this information is very, very important.

On Being an Aunt (And How to Make a Penis Out of Marshmallows)

May 19 2014

My nephew, who’s 3, keeps asking me when we get to play with booze outside. “Want to go outside, Auntie Beff! Want to play wiff booze,” he says, his face twisted pathetically – and effectively – to incite pity. My niece, 5, insists he means balls, but I’m pretty sure she’s wrong, ’cause every time I ask, “Booze or balls? Which one do you want to play?” he yells, “BOOZE,” which are my sentiments, exactly, since neither of us gets to have any these days; him because he’s 3, and me because I’m in charge of children by myself and, if anything happens, I don’t want it to be because Auntie Beff was all liquored up.

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I’m spending the week at my brother’s house watching my niece and nephews – 5, 4 and 3 – while their parents take their first vacation in, oh, ever. So, despite the facts that a) my nephew has serious medical needs that require a kind of hyper vigilance, b) I’m a bad influence on small children, who tend to learn new and exciting words, like shit, in my presence, and c) my family is simultaneously running a betting pool to see when our new pet snake will escape since I’m apparently not responsible enough to even keep an animal inside a cage, I – I – get to be responsible for 3 more real, live humans.

This is how desperate their parents are for a vacation. 

And this thrills me.

As in, this actually thrills me, because it means I get to spend extended, concentrated time with the weirdos who are my niece and nephews, something I haven’t done ’til now.

It’s not that I’m a particularly crappy aunt. I think. I hope. Although who’s really authorized to say? It’s more that I’m not the aunt I expected to be, which, it turns out, is a lot like being a mom, full of plans and expectations, most of which involve me being wildly awesome and perpetually fun and always, always having my shit together. Plans that look a whole lot more like only mildly awesome and occasionally fun and, really, very rarely having my shit together in real life. 

So here were are, four days sans parents, and the niece and nephews are, as I suspected, total nutjobs, like good children everywhere. Which means they’re hilarious. Horrible. Kind. LOUD. Sweet. Mean. Messy. Magical. Like humans, except miniature sized, with all the glory and gory humanity entails. Thank God they’re almost unbearably adorable since one nephew’s a drooler, two kids poop their pants, and my niece excels at being leadershippy, like her Auntie Beth before her, who invented leadershippiness back in 1977. 

NephewsThat means I’m spending the week saying “swallow your spit before it falls out of your mouth, dude,”  and “get your hand out of your pants; there’s poop in there,” which I always forget is more incentive than deterrent, and “I’ll see your Princess Complex, kid, and I’ll raise you I’m the Queen of Everything. Go ahead, sweetheart. See if I’m bluffing. I dare you.” And then she calls my bluff, which is discouraging since I’m almost always bluffing, so you can pray with me that humanity’s inevitable ruler will learn to use her power for good and not evil before she conquers this Earth and all the nearby planets. Amen.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not keeping up on my chin hair maintenance regimen, like, at all, but, on the bright side, I’ve learned how to make a penis out of both train tracks and marshmallows which is apparently as simple as shaping your medium to look vaguely ovalish, followed by yelling, “LOOK! It’s a penis!” and is a life skill I was previously lacking, so it’s all worth it in the end.

And it is. All worth it in the end. 

Isn’t it always?

Here I am with the nutjobs in the trenches, and I find myself exhausted, yes, and drowning in diapers and sippy cups, but also with this ocean deep sense of privilege that I get to stand in as caregiver for these crazies, knowing it’s in the waking up and lying down, the messes and the muck, the tears wiped and smiles shared, the trudging and the drudgery, that the magic is made. The imperfect, messy, muddy magic, which is always, always in the middle of the mess.


Everything You Need to Know About Big Sisters and Little Brothers

May 17 2014

I’m a big sister with a little brother, and I could write a treatise on the subject.

  • About how we boss leadership you because we love you (and because you’re pathetic and you need us.)
  • About how we use words to torture you because a) words are superior weapons and do longer term damage, and b) words cause you to lash out with your fists which is how we most reliably get you into trouble.
  • And about how much it sucks when you grow old enough and large enough to answer our leadershippy words by picking us up, tossing us over a shoulder, carrying us to the front lawn, dumping our asses in the grass, calmly strolling back inside, and locking us out of the house.

Instead of all of that, though, everything you need to know about big sisters and little brothers is summed up in this picture of my niece tackling her little brother to her princess bed and holding him down while she buttons up the pretty pink dress she talked him into wearing.

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From big sisters everywhere – this is how much we love you, bros.

P.S. All Big Sister ideas are good ones.

P.P.S. I’m staying with my niece and nephews for the next several days while their parents are on a much-deserved, long-anticipated vacation. You can pray for the children.


Also, it’s Saturday, so it’s time for:
5 Kids Reruns
where we review what we’ve been doing this week here on the blog
and elsewhere on the world wide webs

5KidsHand180x180New Posts Here on the Blog:

Practically Pinterest: New Ways to Use Golden Books. This post may or may not include shoving Golden Books in one’s pants.

On Playing Life Like a Beast. Mostly about depression… and finding thigh holes in my jeans.

Mother’s Day May Suck But It’s Not Our Fault – YAY! In which we find out Mother’s Day has been sucky for 100 years – historical FACT. FfffaaaaaaaAAACT.

That’s an awesome video. FACT.

Which reminds me of a video I made once upon a time. It’s a sex video called “If at First You Don’t Succeed,” and it’s based on a true story.

You can read the rest of the sex video story here. FACT.

Also, I’d like to apologize for the ads you’re seeing in the sidebar since I just wrote the words “sex video” three times. It’s alright. Just breathe and we’ll get through this together.


On the 5 Kids Facebook Page:

I wrote a bunch of stuff on Facebook, but this is the most important because it’s why we need a rolling eyes smiley. Seriously.

5KidsHand180x1805 Kids Elsewhere on the Internets:

New Podcast on my favorite dad site, Dadsaster, called We Love Moms!

RSS.socialmediaDon’t Miss a Thing

You are the driving force behind the 5 Kids blog. This space is about community; finding each other, finding ourselves, waving to each other in the dark until the dawn comes, and always – always – about Love. Stay connected. You can subscribe via RSS, Email, Facebook and Twitter.

5KidsHand180x180Thank You!

Many of you have come to meet me over recent weeks at various speaking engagements. THANK YOU. I don’t know how to adequately express how much it means to me that you’d take time out of your busy schedules to say hi and spend some time with me as a tangible Village. I’m so deeply grateful for every one of you momrades. Here are a few snapshots from events this Spring:



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5KidsHand180x180Advertise or Donate

Advertise here on the 5 Kids blog, where I write a lot about pee, occasionally about penises, often about the magic in the mess, and sometimes about Jesus, although maybe not exactly in the way you’d expect. So far, I haven’t written one single time about pee AND penises AND Jesus, which proves I have standards, so when you purchase your ad at the 5 Kids blog, you can be confident you are placing your ad somewhere with standards. As if that’s not compelling enough, I also offer ad discounts for writers, home-based businesses and artists.

If you’d like to help with the costs of this website, you can donate toward ad scholarships. (This link explains why I don’t accept traditional donations.)

Practically Pinterest: New Ways to Use Golden Books

May 16 2014

In the 70’s and 80’s – you know, back when spanking was a thing – my brother used to shove Golden Books down his pants when he got in trouble. That way, he was ready for any consequences, no matter how dire. Just like a Boy Scout, my brother. Always prepared.

It was a good strategy, overall, except that Golden Books are square, of course, and butts are round, but whatever. It was still a pretty quick move for a 4 year old.

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Today, I was watching my brother’s kids – ages 3, 4 and 5 – and, like the good, rule-following auntie that I am, I put 3 and 4 down for their naps as instructed, which took a while, mostly because I’m me and I’m a sucker so naptime involved laying down with the 3 year old who didn’t “wanna sweep, Auntie Beff.” 🙁 

I left the 5 year old with the television during naptime after I tried to leave her with books – also as instructed, listed in the schedule as “reading and homework time” – and she gave me sad eyes and pointed at the remote control. And I know; I know; I need help, but I could hear all of her TV selections, and I have 15 years of parenting down, so I know all the Disney princess songs. I was practically monitoring her, is what I’m saying. And the princesses were doing a fine job, too.

Or so I thought, until Miss 5 showed up, bedside, mid-nap, to whisper, “Don’t worry about me being alone during naptime, Auntie Beth. Don’t worry about anything, OK?” Which is, like, the figurative version of a square Golden Book on a round butt; a teeny, tiny hint to the mama mind that something might be ever so slightly out of place. And I thought, “I wasn’t worried, kid, but I’m reconsidering my original position thanks to your visit,” but I said, “OK,” and then I tiptoed downstairs two minutes after her to find the miniature punk – my brother’s daughter in more ways than one – with all the Golden Books stacked on a footstool pushed up next to the fridge to sneak candy off the top of it. 

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Turns out, even with the Golden Books, she’s still too short to pull it off, but it was a really decent attempt at being naughty.

And a great way to carry on our family’s time-honored, nefarious Golden Book tradition.

Well played, Miss 5. Well played. 

On Playing Life Like a Beast

May 15 2014

“Mom, I just played that game like a BEAST,” said the 7 year old, high on video games and higher on a bone-weary mommy who was just as interested in giving him extra screen time as he was in having it. “Sometimes I win and sometimes I just DIE, Mom, you know? But I played like a BEAST, and that’s the thing that feels good, Mom. That’s the thing.”

And Cael’s right, because sometimes we win, and sometimes we just DIE. But when we play like a beast, that’s the best thing. The best. I feel AWESOME when I play life like a beast and I get the kids to school on time, and I remember to set the coffee timer, and I finish all the laundry, and I scrub the blue frosting and gummy ketchup and petrified boogers off the couch more than, oh, say, every other month. A BEAST. Like, I can do all the things, humans! ALL THE THINGS. BOOM!

Sometimes, though, I don’t play like a beast. Sometimes, I hide my head and my feelings. And sometimes depression and anxiety and lethargy win. They play like a beast, and I… well… don’t. 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last month trying to rein the depression back in. Earlier this time. Before it got too far out. And I spent time wondering whether I was jumping the gun on calling the doctor and talking to Greg and increasing the meds or whether I was being proactive. Slowing the yo-yo. Shortening the cycle. Learning to listen to my mind and my body and my heart and my family. And giving myself the benefit of the doubt that the lethargy isn’t lazy and the overwhelmed isn’t an inability to deal. 

I keep hearing from depression sufferers that September is Depression Month. That depression often comes with the start of school and the brisk winds of fall and matches our moods to the feeling that winter is coming. That it’s time to wither. But I must be on the Southern Hemisphere Depression Plan where the seasons are upside down, because when spring springs forward, so does my depression, apparently. Like winter took its toll and I’m finally catching up, and even though everything else is coming back to life, I’m busy dying a little. And I’ve felt like I can’t do anything right if I’m depressed in May – I mean, who has the nerve to be numb when the sunshine returns or ragey as the temperatures rise? I’m even doing depression wrong, I think – but I know that’s depression talking, and if I’ve learned anything by now, it’s that Depression is a Lying Liar Who Lies. I’m doing depression just fine, Depression, so back off.

I’ve found myself thinking lately that I have nothing to say, which is one of the lies Depression tells me. Or, rather than nothing to say, (because the truth is I have LOTS of somethings to say – most notably that I wore a rather large thigh hole in my favorite pair of pants, damn it, and why do we sell knee patches for kids’ jeans and not thigh patches for my jeans which need ’em JUST AS BAD??), I’ve thought I ought not bother anyone with my senseless mental blather because, Depression whispers, I have nothing important to say. Nothing different than anyone else. Nothing new. Nothing pressing. Nothing earth shattering. Which is all true. TOTALLY true. I have nothing new or different or earth shattering to say. And so, the temptation when anxiety and depression take over, is to say nothing at all instead of to believe the truth, which is that all of us have overlapping, sometimes stunningly similar stories, and all of our stories are still deeply worth telling, over and over and over again, with whatever words or pictures we can cobble together, because we have all of this – this life, these questions, this doubt, this longing, this angst, these thigh holes – in common.

If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s places to come together. To be ourselves. To bring our depression and our thigh holes and our winning and our losing and lay it all out on the table together. To sort through it all, rummage sale style. To pick up pieces and do show and tell. Because the longer I live, the more I’m convinced that’s it. THAT’s playing life like a beast. To be in it, winning and losing and dying and quitting and coming back to life. To bring it. All of it. And to share.

So I wanted to ask today… how are you? How are you following Mother’s Day? How are you this May? Winning? Just DYING? Playing life like a BEAST? Tell me your story. I’d like to hear it, even – maybe especially – if you think you have nothing to say.