How to ReLent

Apr 10 2015

I wrote to you a few days ago about ReLent, which, OBVIOUSLY, means “to Lent again,” or, in other words, is Lent for those of us who missed it the first time. 

Lent for procrastinators. 

Lent for the wildly busy.

Lent for the forgetful.

Lent for the chronically behind. 

ReLent: It’s like Lent, but with grace for imperfection.

Lent for People Who Need Second Chances.

Sometimes I wish you could spend time in my brain so you could see how substantially you impact me, how much you change me, the ways you encourage me, and why I insist you’re my real life friends even if we’ve never met in the flesh. After all, we’ve met heart-to-heart, and that’s more important anyway. Of course, there are other times I think about Clark, my right armpit skin tag, and then I’m glad you don’t have to spend time in my brain. Really; it’s mostly a win for you.

Still I’ve spent time this week thinking about ReLent after reading your comments and emails, and I have a few things to say to us, heart-to-heart. Friend to friend. 

In that original missive about ReLent, I suggested a path forward, in three steps. 

1. We will take the next 23 days — until the end of April — to celebrate ReLent. Yes, I know Lent is 40 days, but that is LENT. This is RELENT for the wildly busy, and we are not going to string this out. THIS IS OUR GIFT TO US. Twenty-three days. Can we build it? YES, WE CAN.

2. We shall answer three critical questions:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?

3. We will work in concert with Love to refill our souls. I mean – we will really LISTEN to Love loving us, and we will be open to receiving that.

But some of you got stuck on Step 2. 

Which DUH — I should’ve known. Because I forgot to mention that Step 2 is practically impossible and is more a set of questions for, oh, say, A LIFETIME. 

MamaJedi wrote, “What drives me? EVERYTHING! Everything either drives me crazy or drives me to distraction. I have gotten so lost in this that I have no idea what inspires (breathes life) into me.” 

And, man, do I hear that to my toes. 

There have been times in my life when I was so busy sinkingso desperately trying to stay afloat — that questions like “what is actually relevant to you and what drives you” would have been wholly laughable. My answers would have been “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, MAN” or “BREATHING. BREATHING IS RELEVANT TO ME, BUT I DON’T GET TO DO THAT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I AM DROWNING, SO STOP IT WITH YOUR EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS, LADY.” 

True truth.

Those would’ve been my answers.

And I would have been right to give them.

So I want to make a suggestion for those of you who tripped over Step 2. A stumbling block if I ever saw one. 


I mean, just shove it aside if it doesn’t work for you.

Step 3 is the important step anyway. I mean, Step 2 is good. And I do think those questions are critical — you know, eventually. Someday.

But Step 3?

Step 3 is Where It’s At.

Step 3 is Gold.

Because Step 3 is where we learn to listen to Love loving us. Love, which is God’s other name, you know. 

Step 3 is where we begin to imagine it’s possible to even be lovable.

Step 3 is the place we quiet the constant criticism of ourselves long enough to wait on the Still, Small Voice who whispers that we’re made in the very image of the Divine and that Love and Light long to embrace us.

Step 3 is where the deepest truths I know — that we are not alone in the dark; that dawn is coming and is, in fact, already on its way; that we are, all of us, created to be worthy and treasured — stand a chance of being heard.

So if you have to abandon Step 2 in order to ReLent with us, please do, friends.

Kick Step 2 to the curb.

Do things out of order.

Break the rules.

But don’t let go of Step 3, friends. 

This is how to ReLent: Work in concert with Love. Let Love refill your soul.

Love’s waiting. I swear it. Love is, in fact, already here.

I’m sending you love tonight, too, friends. And waving in the dark.


Please Help: Teenage Boy Room Smell

Apr 9 2015

Dear the Internets,

I have a situation.

A dire situation.

And I need you.


The thing is, my teenage son’s room smells terrible.


Or, in French, which is the language of high drama, his room smells TERRIBLE.



Now, before I had a teenage boy child, I heard other parents talk about a teenager’s room smelling bad. It’s not like this is a surprise, you know? It’s just, I assumed they meant body odor.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to correct that misunderstanding. 


It is not – I repeat NOT – a B.O. smell I smell every time I’m in, oh, say, a 100 foot radius of this child’s room.

I WISH it was a B.O. smell because B.O. smells can be fixed with bathing and deodorant, but nooooooo. We are not that lucky, and washing does not fix this.

Instead, this smell is… I don’t know… the smell of hormones? 

The smell of hormones plus nervous energy plus angst? 


No idea. 


But I need a solution anyway.

A solution that’s NOT extreme like washing all the sheets and blankets and pillows and pillowcases every week, because I WANT to be that mama, but HA! That is not happening, friends. 

So I need a non-extreme solution, please, like moving my son into a tent in the backyard. 

Or to Tahiti.

Or moving ME to Tahiti.

Or buying some of that anti-hormone spray they sell at the pet store, except for teenage boys at a teenage boy store. 

Or heavy chemical fumigation where they have to wrap the whole house in plastic and we go stay at a hotel with a pool.

Or nose surgery where they remove my sense of smell.


This is a cry for help, y’all.

Help a mama out.

What’ve you got??

Sincerely yours,





P.S. To be crystal clear, this is no reflection on my teenage son. He’s doing nothing wrong, other than growing into a man like all the other teenage boys around him. Turning Into a Man is, of course, problematic in its own right with its emotional / hormonal upheavals, but it’s no one’s fault, per se, other than God’s. I am working on that problem, particularly as it includes a disturbing amount of sparse facial hair and the occasional straggly pit hair I’m supposed to marvel over, but I’m tackling that whole issue separately by sending emails to God. Now, I realize God is Very Busy, but I have yet to get EVEN ONE response to my multiple missives and concrete suggestions for improvement. Should God respond in the future to my email string titled “Adolescence. REALLY, GOD??,” you will be the first to know. ‘Til then, we’re on our own.


5 Fun Things to Do at the Hospital (And a Message for the Nutjobs Who Work There)

Apr 8 2015

After the last month’s maudlin, weepy, emotional post about my Dad’s open heart surgery, I thought I’d provide you with the other side of hospital life. The fun side, man! ‘Cause the hospital isn’t all bad, you know. It can actually be pretty fun.

Without further ado, here are:

5 Fun Things to Do at the Hospital

IMG_25791. Science Experiments

Hospitals are all about science, so hospital staff LOVE IT when you conduct science experiments there.

“AWESOME,” they think when they see you Doing Science. “We ADORE science, and there you are DOING it. What a GREAT IDEA,” and then they are very encouraging and want you to continue.

If you’re not sure what kind of science to do at a hospital, I can help you.

IMG_2578Did you know, for example, that if you buy a Seltzer water and then decide you wish you’d bought a Diet 7Up or Diet Sprite or Diet Anything That Doesn’t Taste Like Seltzer Water, you can add a yellow packet of sucralose like Splenda or Sweet Life, and the result is a geyser?

It’s true!


An enormous, spewing geyser of soda and Splenda all OVER the place.

Of course, it’s important to choose an appropriate spot to do science. Personally, I recommend the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit waiting area. I’ve found the quiet atmosphere really makes the exploding soda sounds and your cries of, “OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH,” reverberate, and causes the most people possible to pay attention to your scientific demonstration. 

P.S. Be prepared to be soaked by the end of doing science. I hear that happens.

2. Case the Joint for Good Advice

You can find informational signs just everywhere in a hospital. I didn’t have a ton of extra time on my hands while I was at the hospital, but I did find some helpful new information, like this:


Keep that in mind next time you’ve punctured your groin. SAFETY FIRST.

3. Photograph EVERYTHING

Photograph everything — EVERYTHING — so your friend or family member who’s hospitalized can relive it later. They may THINK they don’t want to scrapbook this experience, but they’re probably not thinking straight what with all the surgery and trying not to strain their groin punctures. Ignore them and take pictures anyway. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY, I always say. 

For example, when that large, burly man appears in the doorway with a razor and a grin and says cheerfully to your macho, Marine father, “Hi, I’m Gavin. I’m here to shave you.” YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT MOMENT BACK, friends…


… not EVER.

4. Decorate

Decorate the patient’s room. This is crucial. Hospital rooms are, well, a little cold, emotionally speaking, and scientific studies have shown conclusively that patients recover more quickly in warm, home-like environments. (I can’t site a reference for those studies because I just made that up, but that’s no reason to believe it isn’t true.) Therefore, you owe it to your friend or father to decorate his or her room with comfortable, familiar items.

picstitchThis does NOT have to be expensive or break the bank.

picstitch (1)For example, we decorated my dad’s room with artwork from his grandkids, cards from well wishers, and pages from his favorite magazines, like People and US Weekly.

Yes, my dad says he detests People and US Weekly.

And yes, he always grumbles and groans and generally throws fits while my sister-in-law and I thumb through them and talk about Kim Kardashian’s latest hair change. 

But he is just kidding. He secretly, deep down inside loves People and US Weekly. Deep, deep down inisde. And he doesn’t think we’re “wasting our lives” or “carelessly throwing away brain cells” for devoting an afternoon here or there to discussing who wore it best or why everyone’s wearing pasties to awards shows these days. 

That’s why we tore our favorite pics from these magazines and put them on his wall, far, far above where he could reach with his newly cracked chest and included encouraging messages like, “Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Cher and Nicki Minaj are rootin’ for you, Dad!” and “SEE? Kim’s TOTES sporting a ‘get well soon’ face for you!” because the only thing my dad likes better than People and US Weekly is when I butcher the English language with words like TOTES. 

5. Ask Questions

Seriously. ASK QUESTIONS, friends. Good healthcare means being part of the team. While doctors and nurses are specially trained in medicine, YOU need to advocate on behalf of the patient. 

Good hospitals, like the one where my dad was treated, will give you a number of opportunities and various methods for communication with the medical team. USE THEM.

When there’s a white board, for example, with questions like What Is Most Important To Me Today? and Questions for My Care Team, USE IT. ASK QUESTIONS. Important questions, so they know how to help.


Which brings me to the end of my list with one final, important note:

Dear Doctors and Nurses and Hospital Janitors,
and Dear Night Shifters, and Food Servers, and Bold Blood Draw-ers,
Dear All of You Nutjobs Who Make Healthcare Your Life’s Work,

Thank you.

For all of you who are spending your lives serving yahoos like us,
who went to school for countless hours
to learn to do work for which people aren’t always grateful, 
giving your time and your energy and your love

day in and day out,
to make the world a better, healthier, happier place,
one person and family at a time,


Your work is
outrageously beautiful,
and super gross,
and wildly awesome,
just like your patients,
and our family joins millions of others
(even the ones who forget to tell you),

in abiding gratitude for all you do.

With love,



Announcing: ReLent! It’s like Lent, except after Easter is over.

Apr 7 2015

Today is April 7th. Two days after Easter. So it’s about time I got around to participating in Lent.

I mean, sure; Lent is the 40 days before Easter. And yes; that means it’s already over. But I don’t think that’s a very good reason for not participating, do you? Especially because Lent is a good idea. I like Lent. And I seriously meant to do Lent this year. I did. I meant to participate the heck out of Lent. But Lent showed up on time like it always does, making those of us who are tardy for the party look procrastinate-y instead of fashionably late. In other words, ugh.

Now, I realize not all of you are familiar with Lent or the High Church Calendar or any of those Strange Christian Things I talk about from time to time. I deconstructed Lent once here, which includes why I care about it and why I’m taking up all this space to talk about it again:

According to Google, which we all know is the very best place to get religious information, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.”

Lent starts today and continues for the 40 days (not including Sundays) until Easter. In practice here in the States, it’s the time when each participant fasts from something specific to himself or herself. Facebook, traveling by car, mojitos, nachos bell grande – the more creative you are about what you give up, the more Lent points you’re awarded. Minus the part about Lent points, which aren’t a real thing but which would totally make it WAY MORE RAD.

The truth is, Jesusy people in America freestyle when it comes to Lent. We like to participate for loads of reasons. Sometimes to feel closer to God, sometimes as a spiritual discipline, sometimes to draw attention to a cause, and sometimes because our best friends in the whole entire world, Caffeine and Chocolate, come to us in our dreams dressed in red riding hood cloaks with cloven hooves and horns on their heads and tell us with maniacal grins that they own our souls, and we wake up screaming and sweating and longing for big cups o’ Joe and entire bags of Hershey’s nuggets. Lent – it’s a high church synonym for Caffeine and Chocolate Rehab.

At its center, though, Lent, like other cultural and religious observances, pulls us into community with each other and ties us with thick cords to our historical roots. It makes us stop for a season to reconsider who we are at our core. It forces us away from the insignificant things that entangle us and turns our eyes to examine what’s relevant, what drives us.

At its best, Lent isn’t about deprivation. At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls.

At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls. And I missed it. I miss it.

IMG_2823So I was a little bit mopey about not Lenting this year. I’ve just been busy, man. My dad had open heart surgery the same week our kitchen flooded. OF COURSE IT DID. The water mitigation people came. Our floors are still ripped up. Wheeeeee!

And even with everything else going on — surgery and work and water and the occasional full-family bout with incessant, vomittous flu — my kids still wanted things like attention and dinner. Lent just blew by, in other words, and now here I am, Lentless.

Lentless in a season when my soul could’ve used a little refill.

Lentless in a season when I suspect our community could’ve used an infusion of Love and a little reminder that Love pursues us.

Lentless when I wanted to be Preparing for Rebirth.

That’s when I stopped.

That’s when I decided to break the rules.

That’s when I decided to ReLent.

ReLent, which means “To Lent Again” (OBVIOUSLY), and is for those of us who forgot to Lent the first time.

It’s Lent for procrastinators. 

Lent for the wildly busy.

Lent for the forgetful.

Lent for the chronically behind. 

ReLent: Lent with GRACE for Imperfection. Lent for People Who Need Second Chances.

Because, honest to God, if I never did anything I’m behind on – anything I’m late for – I’d never do anything at all. I am behind on All the Things, after all. Always. Always behind. Which, whatever. Just whatever, friends, you know? WHATEVER. I am behind on All the Things, and so I shall do Some Things and not Other Things, and that will be Enough. Which is one of the miracles of life, after all, and of motherhood; that we cannot do All the Things, and so we do Some of the Things and we learn they are Enough, and we are Enough, and we are, in the midst of it all, wildly worthy of Love. 

So. Here is what we shall do to celebrate ReLent:

1. We will take the next 23 days — until the end of April — to celebrate ReLent. Yes, I know Lent is 40 days, but that is LENT. This is RELENT for the wildly busy, and we are not going to string this out. THIS IS OUR GIFT TO US. Twenty-three days. Can we build it? YES, WE CAN.

2. We shall answer three critical questions:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?

3. We will work in concert with Love to refill our souls. I mean – we will really LISTEN to Love loving us, and we will be open to receiving that.

You, of course, are invited to join me for ReLent. I’m going to answer those three questions below, and I’d love it — if you’d like to participate with me — if you’d answer them in the comments section as an encouragement to our ReLent group and so we can do this together. Here goes:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you? Spreading Love. Sending Hope. Helping my fellow momrades and dad-rads and rad people of every variety know we are not alone in the dark and that dawn is coming. Already on its way. 
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant? I clam up sometimes, and I’ve been in a season of clamming, uncertain my words are compelling or even relevant. I worry, still, even at this stage of my life when I’ve learned to love much about myself, about being Too Much. Too Loud. Too Big. Too Irreverent. Too Jesusy. Too ME. And so I sit quietly in this space because I’m afraid of blabbing too much and being irrelevant and laughable. 
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days? I choose to release worries about being Too Me. So I will put my butt in my chair and I will write to you every day for 23 days. Some of it will be drivel, and I will publish it anyway, believing that this discipline — this ReLenting to be fully who Love made me to be — isn’t just OK or Enough… it’s where Love calls me. 

So, friends, what do you say?

ReLent with me?

Who’s in?

Sending love… always, always,





P.S. Just to be clear, ReLent is also for those of you who already Lented and want a do-over or a repeat, because we are a radically open community here, and we welcome everyone, even you overachievers who do things on time and are Pinteresty and stuff. Love to you, TOO.

This Is for All the Parents Who Aren’t Ready for Easter, Either

Apr 3 2015

It’s Good Friday which, yes, is the day Jesus died on the cross, but that’s not important right now**, because Good Friday is ALSO is the day well-intentioned mamas like me die a little inside when we realize we have done nothing — nothing — to prepare for Sunday’s Easter celebration.

No eggs.

No candy.

ID-100194758No dresses.

No suits.

No bonnets.

No hot cross buns.

No chocolate bunnies.

No ham.

No lamb. 


Just nada.

Zilch and zip.

And then we get a little stressed out and a tiny bit overwhelmed because we wonder how — how — we will resurrect this thing by Sunday.

We’re sure it’s not possible.

I mean, our expectations are just dead, man. Not to be dramatic, but we kind of tripped, and face-planted, and landed hard, and smashed our expectations all over the ground, and now they are DEAD-dead, and the skies darken.

It is BAD, friends. BAD NEWS. Rather hopeless. Just AWFUL.

We descend into Mama Expectations Hell.


And I know you won’t believe me about this next part. That’s OK. I never believe me, either. What I’m about to tell us is, after all, unbelievable. 

But I have lived through Mama Expectations Hell, and here’s what I’ve discovered…


We will rise again. 

SOMEHOW, unbelievably, we will rise again. 



We have miracle powers — all is not lost, after all — and WE WILL RISE from what we knew was certain death. WE WILL KEEP ON RISING, too, because this doesn’t apply just to the Easter Plan and the Eggs and the Baskets. 

No; we will keep rising on repeat. Over and over. Dying to Expectations. Dying to Ourselves. Dying to How We Thought This Life Would Be and WHO We Thought We’d Be in It. Descending into All Kinds of Hell. And Rising Again. 

You know why? 

Because we are a Resurrection People.

Because we believe in Unreasonable Hope.

Because we have learned what it is to Release Expectations and the Things That Tie Us to the Tomb. 

Because we have learned to look for the Things That Matter instead of the Shoulds and Ought Tos. 

We do something that matters — sometimes one thing — and we discover it’s enough. 


So I have planned nothing for Easter, friends. Not one single thing. 

My kids are going to go to church on Sunday in — and I’m not kidding here — whatever they want to wear, which will undoubtedly include jeans with holes in the knees and shoes covered in duct tape. 

I will — almost certainly — boil some eggs over the next couple days, and we’ll dye them or we won’t, and Easter will come anyway.

We’ll dine on Sunday on… food. Whatever I find in the freezer and the cupboards that makes the least number kids say EW. 

We’ll hide Easter baskets for the kids to find, probably even with something in them. 

And we’ll talk about resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus, yes, and the resurrection of us, too, and we’ll celebrate the hell out of rising from the dead. 

That will be our One Thing That Matters. 

So, in case you, like me, are unprepared for Easter, know this: you are not alone. We can sit here together and wait for the dawn, which always comes after the dark. And we can celebrate the hell out of rising from the dead.

With love,




**Sometimes I make Jesus feel sad. Sorry, Jesus. 


Image credit “Part Of Eggshell Broken On White Floor” by Keerati via

5 Books by Friends of the 5 Kids Blog

Mar 30 2015

Happy Monday, friends! I don’t know how your day started, but I woke up to the sun shining and the birds singing and the soothing sounds of my dog harfing on my bedroom carpet.

Ahhhh… bliss!

AND — a bonus I didn’t realize right away — the dog also had the runs. Wheeeee!

I love Mondays. 

love Mondays. 

Actually, I kind of do.

You know, not at first or anything. 

Not before lots of grumbling and griping. 

Not before I’ve laid in bed and hit snooze and begged my children to feed themselves because I don’t want to.

Not before Everyone Is Annoying.

But eventually — eventually — I love Mondays.

Mondays are like All the Other Days around here, after all.

Someone ralphs. Someone poops. Sometimes literally. Sometimes figuratively. Not always in the appropriate location or at a convenient time.

And then we clean it up.

Sometimes we’re crabby with each other. Sometimes we can’t find anything to wear. Sometimes our brothers and sisters and moms and dads and kids are awful and oh my gosh JUST STOP.

But eventually — eventually — I remember that life is a mess and muddy and mucky, yes, but there is magic here, too.

Big magic.

Insidious magic.

Permeating magic called Love.

And I can see it, too, if I can just remember to Keep Watch.

Keep Vigil for the Magic and for Love and for the Dawn which comes, always, after the Dark.

Keep Watch in the Mess, and Have a Cup of Coffee, because Magic is on the way. Even — eventually — on Mondays.





P.S. None of that was my point.

I sat down with A Point, gosh darn it!

And then I got sidetracked which is TOTALLY NORMAL in these parts, but still SO ANNOYING. Like the keyboard gets away from me and then BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, off I go.

So the Point was this: Friends of this blog sometimes write books! And I want to celebrate their work by telling you abou tit. (<– That was supposed to read “about it,” but I always type “abou tit,” and it makes me giggle, so I decided to leave it in in case you’re pathetic and immature like me and need a giggle, too.) I want to celebrate their work by telling you ABOUT IT. 

So the following are 5 books written by our friends here at the 5 Kids Blog. Plus a bonus book at the bottom, a small part of which I wrote. Please peruse these titles and send a little encouragement their way, friends! I’m so proud of our community!

hand5 Books by Friends of the 5 Kids Blog


1. The Secret Life of Book Club

Secret Life of Book Club, The - Heather WoodhavenGenre: Ficton
Author: Heather Woodhaven
Where You Can Buy ItAmazonBarnes and Noble 
Facebook PageHeather Woodhaven
Website: Writing Heather
BlurbBook Club Just Got Real. Jeanine Phelps is tired of reading about other women who grab life and have epiphanies. She challenges her book club to live like the heroines in the books they love. At first, seizing the day is pure fun until it generates an upset in each of their lives: Jeanine’s husband is so inspired by her new vitality it triggers a bizarre mid-life crisis involving tacos. Paula, the model PTA soccer mom, starts fighting with her man about the family printing business until she’s drawn back to her secret passion. Kate, a single mom and teacher, can’t figure out if the rekindled friendship with the new museum creator is worth the romantic risk. Anne, a mother of four babies, works to hold the book club together while trying to figure out her own identity. When everyone heatherprofilewants to quit the challenge, the media’s spotlight makes it impossible. Can they rely on each other while keeping their priorities? And more importantly, is their sanity worth the chance to each become a heroine in her own life? 
Heather’s Favorite Review: “Moms. Books. Messy relationships. Lots of fun adventure. Count me in. Even better, the story did not disappoint. In fact, it made me laugh, cry, and then laugh some more.” -Kristine McCord, Author of Outrunning Josephine Finch and The Santa Society
2. Hard Core Poor: A Book on Serious Thrift
KellySangree1GenreFinance, Money Saving
Author: Kelly Sangree
Where You Can Buy ItAmazon
Facebook PageBooks, Bikes and Budgeting 
BlogBooks, Bikes and Budgeting
BlurbThis isn’t your average money saving book that tells you to fire your maid, buy regular gas, and cut back on Starbucks to save money. KellySangree2This is a book that finds ways to wring money out of super tight budgets. This is a book for people who don’t just want to save money, they NEED to save money.
Kelly’s Favorite Reviews: This blog post on Penniless Parenting and this Amazon review, “
Kelly, thanks for the great book! I liked how this book presented both tried and true advice as well as new frugal tips which I had never considered. I also appreciated the nonjudgmental tone of the book. It was as if I was listening to a wise friend”


3. Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would be Bon-Bons

HardyBoysGenre: Essays, Columns
Author: Nathalie Hardy
Where You Can Buy ItAmazon, Book Launch
Facebook PageNathalie’s Notes 
BlurbI’ve been keeping it real since before that was even a thing. In my journals, anyway. For more than half of my life I was excruciatingly shy and a host of other unfortunate adjectives. But now everything is all better. Except not. But I’ve learned that inner peace thing people talk about is only possible when you give in to fully embracing NathalieHardy2your life exactly as it is instead of lamenting the one you thought you would, or should, have. This book is a collection of my notes while I attempt to do exactly that while raising my own pair of Hardy Boys.
Nathalie’s Favorite Review
“I love Nathalie Hardy’s honest style and thoughtful portraits of family life. Hardy’s quick, relatable essays are full of comfort, warmth, and humor. Raising the Hardy Boys is full of hope and everyday wisdom for anyone who’s ever been part of a family.” Lela Davidson, author of Blacklisted from the PTA and Who Peed on my Yoga Mat?, Managing Editor of and Associate Editor of Peekaboo magazine


4. What Color is Monday, How Autism Changed One Family for the Better

Genre: Autism MemoirCover
Author: Carrie Cariello
Where You Can Buy ItAmazon, Barnes and Noble 
Facebook Page: Carrie Cariello
Blog: Carrie Cariello
Blurb: “One day Jack asked me, ‘What color do you see for Monday?’ ‘What?’ I said distractedly. ‘Do you see days as colors?” Raising five children would be challenge enough for most parents, but when one of them has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, life becomes a bit more chaotic, a lot more emotional, and full of fascinating glimpses into a unique child’s different way of thinking. In this moving memoir, Carrie Cariello invites us to take a peek into exactly what it takes to get through each day juggling the needs of her whole family. Through hilarious mishaps, honest insights, and heartfelt letters addressed to her children, she shows us the beauty and wonder of raising a child who views the world through a different lens, and how ultimately autism changed her family for the better.
Carrie’s Favorite Review: This is quite distinct from most autism memoirs. While others can certainly be positive, and usually end up that way, Cariello does what a growing number of adults with autism are advocating for – embraces the condition as what sets her son apart and allows him to see the world in ways which typical brains cannot. By extension this allows his family and those around him to at least experience these different perspectives tangentially, a compatibility that Cariello celebrates without sentimentality. Her style is open and fluid, and while she certainly doesn’t shy from the many profound frustrations of living with a child with autism, her approach to these challenges is inspiring. Whether she intended it or not, too, the book is incidentally a great outlay – and celebration in itself – of the sprawling, mess-filled love that comes with raising large families, which is a joy to read about as well.


5. Someone I’m With Has Autism

SIWHA Final CoverGenre: Autism Essay Collection
Author: Carrie Cariello
Where You Can Buy It: Amazon, Barnes and Noble 
Facebook PageCarrie Cariello
BlogCarrie Cariello
Blurb: “Joe and I haven’t really considered a strategy for explaining to Jack that he has autism; we figured it will be apparent when he’s ready to know. But I have a feeling that the time is coming soon, because slowly but surely Jack is learning that he’s not quite like all the others.” The Cariello children-first introduced to us in the heartwarming memoir What Color is Monday?-are growing up. And while their parents struggle with the same things all parents struggle with, Carrie and Joe have an added challenge: When and how do they tell their kids, including Jack, that Jack has autism? In this brilliant sequel culled from her many essays and articles, Carrie Cariello shares with us how she and her husband show Jack that he is not alone, that there are others who know, understand, and love him for exactly who he is.
Updated Press CropCarrie’s Favorite Review: This new collection is even better than her first book, What Color is Monday? Her writing has grown tighter and more powerful, and I found myself laughing more often and crying even harder. It’s a very, very touching story about how Jack and the other kids are growing up, and how they are all learning about Jack’s autism. I’d never really thought about that before, but it must be one of the toughest things any parent of an autistic child has to face. (Tougher, even, than “the sex talk,” which she explains in one chapter!). Cariello shows us how it’s done, never once pretending it isn’t hard while still managing to make it all uplifting and–most importantly–real. I hope she keeps writing more of these.


And a Bonus:

I wrote an essay for this adoption anthology, edited by my friend, Melanie Springer Mock. It’s about grit and grace and the ways my theology — my understanding of God and Love — changed through the desolation and consolation of our second adoption

The Spirit of Adoption: Writers on Religion, Adoption, Faith and More

TheSpiritofAdoptionGenre: Essays on Adoption and Faith
Editors: Melanie Springer Mock, Martha Kalnin Diede, Jeremiah Webster
: Melanie Springer Mock, Beth Woolsey, Jere Witherspoon and more
Where You Can Buy It: Wipf and Stock PublishersAmazonBarnes and Noble 
BlurbThe Spirit of Adoption explores many of the complexities inherent in adoption and its relationship to spirituality, challenging us to move beyond the common mythologies about adoption to consider the more difficult questions adoption raises about the nature of God, family, culture, loss, and joy. Rather than hearing from experts in adoption, this collection uses the narratives of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees themselves, bearing witness to the ways adoption shapes its participants’ spiritual lives. By allowing others to narrate their spiritual journeys through adoption, we hope to proclaim that adoption can be a wonderful, powerful, hopeful experience, and one that is difficult, painful, despairing–and that these paradoxes of adoption might be held together in God’s handMelanieSpringerMock.
Beth’s Favorite Review: “…As my mother first explained it to me, [adoption] seemed simple. Sometimes mommies can’t take care of their babies, and sometimes other mommies and daddies want a new baby, so they adopt. And they all lived happily ever after. As I grew up, I knew that the subject was much more complex. … This collection of essays is a must-read for anyone considering adoption or any adoptee ready to undertake the journey of integrating past and present. Though all of the essays include a spiritual lens (hence the title), beth-equals-boss-099the range of theological and philosophical traditions should help all spiritually-attuned readers, even “bad Christians “who claim Anne Lamott as a patron saint, find their place in the text. The writers are sometimes parents of adopted children, adult adoptees,and birth parents. To understand the subject, one has to listen to all of the above.The only conclusion after doing so is that God is both loving and paradoxical, never magically removing pain completely, but always holding parents and children tenderly whether or not they can comprehend the grace of their existence.” Shirley H. Showalter


An Important Essay on Penis Tendons by Two 8-Year-Old Boys

Mar 26 2015

Dear Reader,

My twin 8-year-old boys asked to guest post on this blog. What a great learning opportunity, I thought. What a wonderful way to pass my craft on to my children, I thought. And so I agreed and set about creating parameters for them.

“Yes, you may guest post,” I said, “but — BUT — you will need to pick an important topic, you will spell words correctly, you will have a POINT, you will have reasons for that point, you will have a conclusion, and it will be about something that will improve the lives of other children.” In other words, none of the parameters I have for my own writing because DO WHAT I SAY, kids, NOT WHAT I DO, which is hypocritical, yes, but it’s the same way I treat drinking milk out of the carton — OK for me, not OK for you hooligans — so I’m being consistentsee?

In conclusion, my boys wrote an important essay on penis tendons — in which they spell words correctly, have a point, have reasons for that point, and have a conclusion — so that they might improve the lives of other children.

Please make sure your children read it.

You’re welcome.






An Important Essay on Penis Tendons
by Cai and Cael Woolsey


This is a bull’s full size penis tendon.

It is made out of a full grown bull’s penis tendon.

You make this by killing a bull and taking out the penis tendon and drying it out. Or you can buy it at the pet store. 

Sometimes we called it a buffalo’s penis tendon, but it is not a buffalo’s penis tendon. It is from a bull which is a boy cow.

Sometimes we called it a bull’s penis intestine, but it is not one of those because penises do not have intestines.

A bull’s penis tendon is for your dog to chew on, but it is also for you to play IMG_2702with.

You can use a bull’s penis tendonIMG_2697 for many things.

You can use it as a spear because it’s really, really stiff.

You can poke people with it.

You can use it as a flag pole.

You can use it to bend it to regain your strength.

You can use it to see how far down water is.

You can use it to rest your arms.

If your fan stopped, you can push it with the penis tendon.

You can use it as a fishing pole.

You can chew on it until your mom says to stop it.

You can use it as a walking stick.

You can use as a ninja stick.

You can stick it into the ground and mark where something is.IMG_2696

You can whack bugs and other things with it, because it is a really good whacker.

You feel happy when you play with a penis tendon.

We learned about penis tendons about a week ago at the pet store. We did not know about this before.

It is important that other kids can know about penis tendons because you can use it for many things, and it’s fun to play with. 

The End