Lent: Day 1… and Some Totally Unrelated Evle Twens Stories

Mar 5 2014

There are certain things we do when raising children. Certain things that are, perhaps, counter-cultural so that our young men and young women, our kids in regular classes and with special needs, our kids of all make-ups and all colors can grow up as fully, wonderfully themselves. Strong and sensitive. Logical and creative. Responsible and wild. Just and merciful. Wise and loving. Leaders who serve others. And, depending on the child, we have to teach more or less of each lesson, don’t we? Balance their innate wisdom with their experiences and work together, in concert with them, to create deeper understanding of who they are. Of who they can be. Ultimately, we desire all our children to know that they don’t have to cherish some bits of themselves – the parts that our culture tells us are “acceptable” – and reject others. 

And just like our kids of different genders and different ethnicities and differently functioning brains have their own unique needs, so do our kids who are multiples. Ah, an added layer of complexity for twins!

We’ve told our twins that they needn’t be alike in their goals and dreams. In their dress. In their preferences. In their favorite colors. In the ways they express themselves. And we’ve tried diligently to shy away from the twin stereotypes.

To be counter-cultural.

To tell them, always, that we love them for who they each are and for the amazing potential of who they each will be.

But people like to have their boxes and they like to put other people in them.

So I wasn’t surprised – but I wasn’t thrilled – when my 1st graders came home from school one day last fall, mid-argument, and wanted me to referee by telling them which was the evil one.

Neither, I assured them. Neither was the evil twin, no matter what the kid on the playground said about one being good and one being evil. BOTH GOOD, I said. You both get to be the good one, and you don’t have to choose or ever — EVER, I said — to live into someone else’s expectations for you. Follow your hearts, instead, I said. You know who you are, I said. Even now. Even as 7-year-olds. You KNOW who you are.

And my wise young men stopped arguing. Instantly. They looked at each other and nodded, and they came to an agreement silently, the way twins sometimes do.

As I smiled and turned away, I heard them stage whisper simultaneously, “Both evil! We can BOTH be evil!”

And then, I kid you not, they cackled.

Please join me in rolling your eyes with me and saying a few Hail, Marys on our behalf. Also, you may pray that we will reconsider this whole “embrace all of who you are” parenting strategy. Probably your prayers won’t work, but we’ll all feel better that you said them.

photo (85)Today is the first day of Lent, and so I cleaned out under my desk as part of our brand new 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects plan.

In addition to unearthing Abraham Lincoln log cabin art projects from February (of 2013), 12 M&M’s, and 26 pens, I uncovered 5 Evil Twin stories written by my son after he decided he could share the evil title with his brother.

And so, in celebration of a clutter-free place to put my feet, I present to you The Evil Twins, in their original language and, in orange, translated into English for those of you who don’t speak Small Child Learning How to Write.

The Evle Twens
written and illustrated by Cai Woolsey

BOOK 1: Evle twens go to an ilend that is dsrdid
BOOK 1: Evil Twins Go to an Island That Is Deserted

The evle twens wr going to an ilend but that was wat eve buddey else thot. They wr reley going to git a lost treshr that was lost for evr. There was sumreams wr surowding it. They dshoway the sumreams and got the tresur.

The evil twins were going to an island but that was what everybody else thought. They were really going to get a lost treasure that was lost forever! There was submarines were surrounding it. They destroyed the submarines and got the treasure.

photo 4 (33)


photo 2 (76)


BOOK 2: Evl twens ned a evle lar
BOOK 2: Evil Twins Need an Evil Lair

The evle twens ned an evle lar. They fad an old liat house. They mad theselvs a home.

The evil twins need an evil lair. They found an old lighthouse. They made themselves a home.




BOOK 3: The evle twens ned wepens
BOOK 3: The Evil Twins Need Weapons

The evle twens ned wepens. At nihte, the evle twens robd a gun stor. No buty came. They wr all stel sleping. The evle twens got awae.

The evil twins need weapons. At night, the evil twins robbed a gun store. Nobody came. They were all still sleeping. The evil twins got away.


BOOK 4: The evll twens made an invenchen
BOOK 4: The Evil Twins Made an Invention

The evle twens made an invenchen. They made a mostr. It was nise. They ran wae aand the monstr followed them.

The evil twins made an invention. They made a monster. It was nice. They ran away and the monster followed them.

photo 1 (70)


BOOK 5: The evle twens pet fawnd a meedeer
BOOK 5: The Evil Twins’ Pet Found a Meteor

The evle twens pet fownd a meedeer. The pet it came home. The pet got the twens and the twens fall ode the pet. The evle twens pet did.

The evil twins’ pet found a meteor. The pet came home. The pet got the twins and the twins followed the pet. The evil twins’ pet died.

photo 3 (53)

The End


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Today’s 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Project is a desk or a table. On top. Underneath. Whatever you think it needs most. Set your timer for 15 minutes and quit when the timer beeps. Or don’t. No one’s watching; do whatever will make you feel like you can do this again tomorrow. After all, there’s no sense getting overwhelmed the first day.

That said, cleaning under my desk was TERRIBLE. I know; this isn’t how the story’s supposed to go. I’m supposed to write that it was fine and once I got into it, it practically cleaned itself. But there was a reason I was avoiding it, and that reason was cute cards from kids and adorable stories and piles and piles of dust and something unidentifiable and sticky. So I had to make DECISIONS about what to do with it all, and I had to throw away some of the adorableness because if I keep it all, I’ll be a hoarder and child protective services will remove my children from their dangerous home. And pffft.

However, it was worth it. Terrible, but worth it. 

Here’s the Before:photo 2 (75)

And here’s the After:

photo 5 (18)

If you did a 15 Minute Project today, remember send your Before and After pictures to me at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.com along with your website link; I’ll pick one to feature with each 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects post. 


P.S. If you’re looking for a great site for nontoxic cleaning tips (other than my nontoxic tip, Don’t Clean, which does end up being sort of toxic in the long run) and other gorgeous household ideas, I highly recommend Beth Ricci at Red and Honey. Beth is warm, personable and all-around lovely. I mean, I’ve never met her, but I’m willing to bet I’m right.

P.P.S. Neither Beth Ricci nor Red and Honey are affiliated with this site. I received no compensation, blah blah blah, for blah blah blah. Disclaimer, disclaimer, etc. Beth doesn’t know I’m writing this, so I can totally tell you to buy her Breakfast Revolution book without repercussions or the Affiliates Police coming after me. (Seriously. What even happens with this kind of stuff? I have NO IDEA.) Better yet, buy Beth Breakfast Revolution book and then use it to make me breakfast. Yum!


If you did a 15 Minute Project today, let me know in the comments below so I can tell you Good Job! Encouragement’s the only path through this mess; I’m just sure of it.


How to Have a Successful Family Vacation

Aug 5 2013

When I was pregnant with twins and completely out of my mind with Oh Dear God, I Can’t Do This Five Kids Thing, my friend Christy, a fellow mama of multiples, said, “Don’t worry. Every 3 months, something gets easier.”

Christy was right. Well, except when she was wrong. But mostly she was right. Every 3 months, in general, something did get easier.

Last week, we went on family vacation.


And family vacations can be a mixed bag, right? For us, having a kid with special needs plus 4 other kids who expect unreasonable things like quality time and attention and to eat food, our family vacation bag has been more like a burlap sack full of kittens someone tossed in the river, all noise and mewling and squirming and pushing and THIS IS HORRIBLE, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Honestly, though, this vacation was rad.

photo 4 (2)(Abby and Katee)

Just really, really great.

photo 4 (32)

(my brother and me)

You know, except when it wasn’t.

photo 5 (18)


But the times it wasn’t were fewer and farther between.

photo 1

(Cael, Aden and Cai rafting the Deschutes River, OR)

photo 2 (72)

(Abby, Katee, Aden, me)

And I will tell you what: it’s taken us a long time to get to this place. A long time full of working hard, giving in to exhaustion, falling apart, losing our crap, pledging to Never Go on Vacation Again, sighing, trying again, and making slow, incremental improvements. Traveling with tiny twins and a kid with special needs who relies on stability, structure and strict routine to maintain any amount of composure… well, it sucked. For lots of years and lots of vacations, until we found what works for all of us, it sucked. Like, it didn’t totally suck, but the percentage of suckage was very, very high, is what I’m saying. 

But every year, something got easier.

photo 3 (2)photo 4(Cai, Cael and Ian on the Deschutes River)

Until the last 2 years, when the rad percentage switched places with the suckage percentage.

photo 5

(Ian and Aden the opposite of attacking each other: a vacation MIRACLE)

The truth is, I love vacations. I love to travel.

photo 1 (2)

(Cael, Cai and Papa, canoe bosses)

I love to spend time with my ridiculous, awesome family.

I love that we’re creating weird, wonky, wonderful family memories.

IMAG0668(Papa, the Photo Bomber)


(Greg and me, minus the Bomber)

And I guess I just wanted to let you know that if your family vacation isn’t perfect like the commercials or your friends’ Facebook feeds or even your own childhood memories which are sometimes based on the photos that captured only the good moments and none of drowning kittens, that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s exactly right.

We went on vacation.

And yes, we fought in the car both ways.

And yes, a kid vomited on the first day and in my bed.

And yes, my phone screen shattered into a gazillion pieces.

And yes, we were impatient.

But we were also kind, even more than we thought we could stand to be.

And we laughed hard.

And we watched movies while sitting in a hot tub,
floating bowls of popcorn like tiny ships.

And we ate obnoxiously large bags of M&M’s and way too many ice cream bars.

And we gathered for family dinners.

And we swam the pool.

And we freaked out in the river.

And we rode horses that acted like my kids, which is to say they were majestic and stunning and beautiful and stayed on the path and followed directions, but only when they felt like it. The rest of the time, they were bonking us into tree branches and eating off the ground and farting and peeing in public and falling behind and running to catch up and making us laugh and laugh and laugh and love the ride more for it.

photo 4 (31)

photo 5 (17)

(Aden, Abby and Katee, high in the Ponderosas)

So, yes; our vacation wasn’t perfect. And yes, we have improvements to make. And yes, I came home and went straight to bed.

But our vacation was just what we needed it to be. Incrementally better. Easier than last year. And our own brand of completely awesome.

photo 1 (67)

(Cai and Ian, zonked on the way home)


How do you feel about family vacation? What makes them work for you?
We’re taking more family vacations closer to home these days, and traveling farther with smaller groups of kids. It’s working much better for the man-child who needs a routine, but I did have to mourn the loss of bigger family trips. (Although my bank balance is much happier.)

What about you and yours?


Why Not to Say “What Not to Say”: In Support of Asking Questions

Aug 1 2013

It was the great American philosopher, Cookie Monster, who once said, “Asking questions is good way to find out about things.”

Although I agree with Mr. Monster on this one, I always giggled when teachers said a similar thing, “Ask questions. And remember, there are no stupid questions.” Because there are stupid questions, of course. And rude questions. And thoughtless questions. And nosy questions. And ignorant questions, too.

I’ve asked them. I’ve been asked them.

When I had my first miscarriage, for example, a loss that blindsided me like a Mack truck in the night, a church lady asked me if I’d considered examining my life for sin or cutting aspartame from my diet. No kidding. All at once. Like miscarriage by sin and diet soda is a thing. I didn’t respond because I didn’t know what to say, but I have fantasized about a do-over in which I look Church Lady kindly in the eye, and say, “What the hell, friend?”

When Greg and I adopted our three-month-old daughter from Vietnam a year later, a stranger stopped me at the grocery store to ask how I’d tackle the uphill battle of teaching my baby girl to speak English. After cocking my head to the side, baffled, I replied, “I imagine she’ll just pick it up from listening to me.” The woman walked away, shaking her head at my pathetic lack of a plan.

When we brought our son home from Guatemala a few years later and his speech and development delays became apparent, we fielded loads of questions, usually from kids but not as exclusively as one would hope, about what was “wrong” with him. “Some of us wear our differences on the inside,” I’d say, “And some of us wear them on the outside. He gets to keep his on the outside where he can be loud and proud. That’s the way our family rolls.” And then I’d bite my tongue so I didn’t follow up with the question I longed to ask the grown-ups, “Why? What’s wrong with you?”

And when our biological twins arrived a few years later, we got to dispel the notion that we “finally managed to have kids of our own.” “No,” we said again and again, “they’re all our own. That’s what adoption means. That’s what birthing them means. They’re our own.”

So believe me when I say I know about the questions. The well-meaning ones. The heartfelt but poorly-worded ones. The stupid ones. I’ve heard them a thousand times in a million ways.

  • About having an only child. We had one for five years and one kid is a lot of kids, man.
  • About being a stay-at-home mom and a works-outside-the-home mom. I’ve been both. Both are awesome, and both suck hard.
  • About infertility.
  • About adoption.
  • About pregnancy.
  • About bottle feeding and breastfeeding.
  • About how to get kids to sleep. (Sleep? Ha!)
  • About developmental delay.
  • About twins.
  • About having five kids. “You have five?!” they ask, stunned. And I like to reply, “Yes, just the five.”

Sure enough, I know about the questions. I do. And I understand the special kind of crazy they can make us.

But there’s a writing trend lately that concerns me which I’ll call the “What Not to Say’s.”

  • What not to say to a mom of an only.
  • What not to say to a mom of many.
  • What not to say to a mom of none.
  • What not to say to adoptive parents.
  • What not to say to parents of kids with special needs.
  • What not to say when mom heads back to work.
  • What not to say when mom stays home.

I don’t know about you, but WHEW! Even though I’ve been all these moms, I can’t keep track of all the things I’m not supposed to say. And I realized these articles have made me afraid. Afraid to engage with my fellow moms. Afraid to take risks in relationships. Afraid to ask questions to find common ground. Afraid I’ll hurt a mama friend even with the best of intentions if I don’t word a question the way she’d like to hear it.

ID-10032700It’s not that I disagree with each What Not to Say specifically. When I read them, I nod in sympathy and chuckle in understanding. But I do disagree with these articles cumulatively because, while it’s a good idea to educate the public to respect our family make-ups, the myriad lists of Questions to Avoid risk shutting down conversations entirely. Instead of teaching people to use discretion or find compassionate language in general, the What Not to Say specifics silence well-intentioned, kind-hearted folks who’d rather say nothing than say it wrong.

Now of course there are people who ask questions for intrusive reasons. Or selfish reasons. And there are people with a poor sense of boundaries. But I’ve found over time that most people who ask questions are looking for a deeper connection. Or are trying to find answers for their pain. Or want to know how to better relate to someone in their life who seems to have a situation similar to mine. Or are trying to understand this shifting world. And, while I can’t always answer the questions, nor should anyone have to, I don’t want people who need answers to stop asking for them.

What’s more, even if we can somehow keep track of all the What Not to Says, silencing the questions will harm my children. My kids are going to have to deal with questions constantly, partly because of our family make-up and partly because they interact with other kids who, you know, ask questions.

I won’t always be there to coach my kids through responses like “I don’t want to talk about that right now. Let’s play.” Or “I have a hard time with words. Will you be my friend and help me?” Or “All the kinds of moms are real.”

When I engage with people out in the world — people who ask gentle questions, people who ask cruel questions, people who ask kindly-meant questions in a wonky way — my kids watch me model appropriate responses. They learn both how to engage and how not to engage as needed. And they learn I’ve got their backs. Always.

At the end of the day, I’d rather field the tough questions than shut down the conversation.

Turns out Cookie Monster was right. “Asking questions is good way to find out about things.”

Even if the questions sometimes suck.

photo 3 (48)BethAbby3


I’m very curious what you think.
Do you agree? Bring on the questions? Or are you, like, No way! There should totally be a list of What Not to Say!

3D Character With Question Mark image credit to renjith krishnan via freedigitalimages.net

You Don’t Have to Choose a Parenting Method to be a Great Parent

Apr 18 2013

I walked the floor with a baby on each shoulder gently bounce, bounce, bouncing them, my back burning, hoping to ease my twins to sleep. They must’ve been just a few weeks old, our fourth and fifth kids, recently out of the neonatal intensive care unit, all of us recovering from their premature birth as I tried to learn two new little ones. What worked. What didn’t. How to navigate a whole new life. Again.

One of the boys, Cael, my snuffler and snuggler and warm-skin lover, conked right out, comforted by the mama sounds and mama smells and chaos all around us.

The other twin, though? Oy. Cai didn’t settle. And so for him, I continued to pace. Was he colicky? Gassy? Burpy? Sick? Over-stimulated? Hungry? Bored? I didn’t know.

He cried and cried, and I walked and walked, and I didn’t know.

My mom-in-law was over, and she offered to help. “Can I take him for a bit?” Judy asked. “Give you a break?”

Sometimes I dream of being a grandmother. All the wonderful parts of childrearing with as many breaks as I need, full nights of sleep, less constant anxiety and barely any vomit at all. Other times, I think it must be a special kind of hell, this Grand Parenting, where I’ll have to ask permission to take the baby who owns a piece of my soul.

Judy asked for Cai. To give me a break. And I didn’t want to let her have him because I wanted to do it myself. All my byselfTo be the comforter. The soother. But my back was on fire, and I recognized Grandma’s need was the same as my own. So I let her have him, although my heart was grudging.

I assumed she would walk him. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth as I had done. Or, perhaps, she’d think she could sit with him in the rocking chair and she’d learn — quickly — that he cried harder when sitting. Instead, she laid him on his back on the couch and sat down next to him.

I thought, “You have got to be kidding me. I’ve been walking this child for hours. For days. And you’re going to take him and just lay him downThat’s not gonna work. That’s ridiculous. That’s

He was asleep.

Out. Arms askew. Blissful on the couch next to his grandmother. He twitched and then settled as if to say thank God you all finally quit touching me. 

That wasn’t the first time my kids were going to send my parenting method packing, laughing in the face of my One Right Way.

As for the twins, it turns out I’m parenting opposites:

Safety and DANGER.


Night Owl and MORNING GUY.

Vegetables and SUGAR.

“Hold Me” and “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Are your twins identical, Beth? Um, NO. Not to mention my other three children, all of whom think they’re entitled to their own individual preferences and needs.


When my oldest was a baby, we subscribed to the cry-it-out method of bedtime because it was the Right Way to Raise a Child. The Only Way, really. The Godly Way, for sure. I didn’t know there were other options, and, when I got wind of them, I was pretty sure they were Wrong because I had read a book.

I hated sleep training. It went against every grain in my gut if guts have grains. It went against my gut grain, is what I’m saying. My baby girl cried for me, and I sat outside her room and cried, too. And it didn’t occur to me for years — literal years — that both of us miserable indicated it was time to consider a change. I just thought… I don’t know… that miserable was part of it.

And then we had three children, and we made some adjustments. Night terrors and attachment issues and bloody noses and vomit and wet beds and sheer desperation will do that to you. We started sleeping on kids’ bedroom floors. Upright in chairs. With kids in our bed. And I use “sleeping” in the loosest possible sense of the word.

In the end, Greg and I settled on One Right Sleeping Strategy for our family, just not on the same one. Greg is an ongoing proponent of Make the Kids Sleep in Their Own Rooms THAT’S WHY THEY HAVE THEM, and also, THIS IS MY BED, GET OUT. And I wholeheartedly buy the But Someday I Want to Remember I Had Their Legs in My Bladder and Elbows in My Eyes and Hot Breath in My Hair and ONE DAY MY BABIES ARE GOING TO LEAVE ME method.

It works out well between us.

And, actually, it does. Because Greg and I agree easily on one thing: we’re never going to sleep again and the method we use to get to “Hey, look! More midnight laundry!” doesn’t much matter. Because, of course, the word “sleep” in “sleep method” is meant to be figurative, which the manuals decline to mention. No matter what method you choose to help your kids sleep? It’s unlikely to net YOU any at all.

Who knew, right? Well, not me when I was a new mama, that’s for sure. I thought sleep training or attachment parenting or whatever, if done right, if done the way it’s prescribed, was supposed to result in sleep for us all. Or well adjusted children. Or well adjusted parents.


I mean, eventually it does, right? Parenting takes time, after all. But, in general, WRONG.

Which brings me to the entire point of this post, and it’s this:

Dear New Mama,
Did you know?
You don’t have to choose.

Parenting. It’s just so… whew!… devastating and triumphant. And that learning curve is WOW! Learning your child and yourself and your partner and your method and your madness and your magic all at once? WOW. And doing it again with each subsequent child? Double WOW.

Then along come the people. ALL THE PEOPLE. Who tell you what to do. And that there’s just One Right Way. The gurus. The books. Facebook. The grocery-store advisers. And they all talk in snapshots, with stationary bits of information, instead of telling you the more complex truth: There are Lots of Right Ways. Loads and loads. And this parenting picture is never at a standstill. Never ever. It moves, friends. It’s a moving picture. A talkie. In color. And surround sound. And high definition. On the BIGGEST screen of all. Your life.

And so, New Mama,
Did you know?
You don’t have to choose.

Not a sleep method. Not a feeding method. Not a potty or a pee or a poop method. Not a once-and-for-all, ’til-death-do-us-part method. You don’t have to choose.

But, wait.


What is this, “you don’t have to choose?” 

That’s what I’m saying, friend. That’s what I mean. These parenting methods? The ones by the experts and from mama friends and the church and the schools and the doctors and the neighbors and the lady at the park who’s a specialist?

You don’t have to choose.

You don’t have to choose for once and for all. You don’t have to subscribe for forever. You don’t have to buy into this or to that. You don’t have to believe like in ice cream or world peace.

You can if you want to. You can choose, of course. But, new mama, you don’t have to choose.

You can try different things. It’s okay to try them. The sleep training and the all-night bladder-kicking. The cloth diapering and the ruin-the-earthing. The breast feeding and the bottle feeding. It’s okay to move in the picture.

If something’s not working, you can ditch it. Pitch it. Without ruining your baby or yourself or your mind. If something’s not working, you can do something else. You can, if you want. You can.

You can, and I know. I know ’cause I did. Or didn’t. Or don’t. Or, rather, it’s truer to say that I won’t. Not anymore. Now I just do what works. For right now. In this time. For this kid. In this space. For this night. For this meal. For this minute, what’s right.

Here’s the truth I’ve learned after five. And the twins at the end drove it home. All children are different. And all parents, too. With our needs and our wants and our whims. “Rock me!” “Hold me!” “Leave me alone!” So I try. And I move. And I breathe and I bend. And, in the end…

In the end, I’m happier and much better off when I’m me. Wild and free. And picking and choosing. And making mistakes. And making thing better. And making things best.

And my kids? Most important of all, my kids are better off, too. When I choose what works for us all, not a rule.


Oh, mamas and daddies, what do you think? What’s your story of methods and peace? And how do you choose when to bend?



I’m a Pee Fight Pacifist

Apr 2 2013

Look, I don’t usually take on extreme positions here. I’m just not that kind of girl. I tend to be all mushy and “well, there are two sides to every story” and “I’m sure she had the best intentions” and “there’s room for EVERYONE.” On the other hand, I believed Mr. Clinton when he said he did not have sex with that woman so I admit to a certain ongoing struggle with being a Pollyanna.

My point is, I hope you’ll forgive me for stating a firm political position here. It’s just that I believe this very, very strongly.

I’m a pee fight pacifist.


It’s out.

The whole world knows.

I am a pee fight pacifist. I disagree with all forms of pee fighting.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Surely, Beth, you understand that there are times when a pee fight, however distasteful, is necessary.

And that’s what I’m saying. NO. No, I don’t understand this at all. I’m telling you I believe that there are no circumstances which can justify a pee fight. NONE.

But what if the other person agrees to the pee fight, Beth?


Or if they’re really, really bad and have it coming?


Or if we try very hard not to pee fight but negotiations break down?


But what about peece keeping forces? Like, using one’s pee in defense of others?

Still no.

Just no, you guys. No.

I’m like a rock on this. NO.

But here’s another little secret. The Confession of a Confirmed Peecifist:

My children remain unconvinced.

It’s true. Sad. But true. I have not been able to pass my beliefs on to my children.

I caught my twin boys planning a pee fight yesterday. I mean, sure, it was all talk. So far. No shots had been fired. But still. It caught me up short, and I renewed my determination to impose my peecifism on my kids. This is no time for them to think for themselves, friends.

So I engaged in the talks, working hard to articulate my perspective. The correct perspective. The only perspective.

And they remained unconvinced. In fact, the words gross, sick, and I will literally vomit if I ever catch you doing that only seemed to encourage them.

In the end, I appealed to their sense of equity. Fairness. Egalitarianism. I said, “Pee fights aren’t fair. Only boys have hoses. Girls can’t play.” And I made a sad face.

Look, I’m not particularly proud of my argument since I think no one should play, but, like all good negotiators, I was willing to compromise if compromise meant getting my way.

And my boys were sad, too. They like girls. They like me. They don’t want to leave people out. So they called a cease fire. Thank God. Peece before the first shot fired!

Late last night, Cael handed me this drawing, titled “The Pee Fight, by Cael.”

photo (51)In it, he illustrates his inclusive war plan. Namely, to put me on stilts with a specially engineered pee sluice so I can battle the boys.

And look, Mom! We’re all sad ’cause we BEEN HIT. With all your pee, Mom. ‘Cause you are the BEST PEE-ER of us all. And I’m peeing on Cai, and Cai’s peeing on Ian, and Ian’s peeing on Dad. But Dad’s not peeing ’cause I don’t think he would do this game. He’s not really a Pee Fighting kind of guy. 


I have failed.

But all hope is not lost.

No, hope is not gone.

Even in the darkest hour, a glimmer remains.

“Dad’s not really a Pee Fighting kind of guy.”

I pass the Peecifist baton on.

It’s up to you now, Greg. It’s all up to you.



It’s Spring Break, aka March Madness (for Parents)

Mar 25 2013

It’s Spring Break, aka March Madness for Parents. Which has nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with how we play the parenting game.

So far, one of my kids fell in a river, and I lost another one in the forest.

Don’t worry, though. All’s well.

Sometimes, even ninjas lose their balance.

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But I dried that river kid off, and he wore my coat kilt-style in such a way as to honor our Scottish forebearers,

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with fierce pride, a whole lotta freedom and a few high leg kicks. 

And the child who was lost only felt lost to me and was never lost to himself. Which is often the way of it when we assign lostness. He knew where he was all along. He met me at the trail’s end with three of his buddies, perfectly happy to have found his own way and a little bewildered at my running and panicking and too-tight group-hugging and don’t-ever-stray-while-I’m-clothing-your-naked-brother againing. 

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Given my previous Spring Break successes, I wanted to think I had a pretty high seed headed into my March Madness for Parents bracket. Unfortunately, the river and the forest caused a surprise upset. What can I say? I played hard. The other team played harder. 

In other words, it’s Spring Break. The kids are home.


And the real March Madness has begun.


Are you on Spring Break, too? If yes, how’s your March Madness (for Parents) bracket holding up? You still in the game? Or did you already go down in a blaze of glory, like me? 😀

(And psst… if you want that Spring Break March Madness graphic, you can swipe it from the Five Kids Facebook page. Enjoy!)


On Being Wrong and Being Human: Thoughts From a 6-Year-Old

Mar 10 2013

We were driving in the car when one of my 6-year-olds said something. Something wrong, according to his twin brother. They argued it out ’til the Wrong One acquiesced, at which point the Right One said, “In your FACE. BOOM!”

Now, look. I’m trying not to raise a brood of gloaters ’cause no one likes a know-it-all, right? I mean, no one. So I said, “Dude. When you’re right and someone else is wrong, you can totally say in your FACE, but only in your head and with the look in your eyes. Saying it out loud is not cool.”

But he was completely high from winning his last argument, so he didn’t believe me. I tried harder, “‘In your face’ is just not a kind thing to say, baby. How do you feel when you’re the one who’s wrong?”

“Well, I LIKE being wrong,” he replied.

And I rolled my eyes because oh, brother. “You like being wrong? You like being wrong. Oh, really?”

“Yes,” he said. And then he explained why. And then I pulled the car over, turned it off, got out my phone, pushed record, and had him repeat it all for you.

This is what he said:

[audio Why I Like Being Wrong ]


“OK. What did you just say?”
“Do you like being wrong?”
“Um, yeah.”

“Because it’s just like being a human.”

“What’s just like being a human?”

“If you be wrong or if you be right.
If you forget or not forget.
You don’t know it or you do know it.
You make mistakes.
And that’s just like being a human.”

“Word, man. Nice work.”

Now, I know. I know we still have work to do on the in your face move. We still have things to teach on being compassionately correct. But you guys?

You guys.

Kids have truths we need to hear. This is one of them.

We spend part of our lives being wrong. That’s the nature of being human. And then we spend precious time after that feeling embarrassed or stupid or ashamed and reliving the moments of our wrongness in technicolor and surround sound. We berate and belittle ourselves for screwing up. Again. And then we rinse and repeat.


But don’t we all need this reminder sometimes? That we don’t have to play the record of our wrongs in our heads? That we can love ourselves better than that? Bigger than that? Stronger than that?

What if we accept that being wrong is just part of it? Part of a whole life. Part of learning. Part of growing up. Part of accepting grace. Part of learning to love ourselves well so we can teach our littles to do the same. And that it’s even something to embrace?

If you be wrong or if you be right.
If you forget or not forget.
You don’t know it or you do know it.
You make mistakes.
That’s just like being a human.

I’m a human. And that’s OK.
That is, in fact, exactly what I was meant to be.
I am wrong, and I am right.
I forget, and I remember.
I don’t know, and then I do.
I make mistakes.
And when I do, I will learn to give myself grace.
In my FACE.



 image credits to Master isolated images via freedigitalimages.net