How to Know If You Have Buns of Steel

January 6, 2015 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I accidentally played Buns of Steel with my 8 year old twins.

FYI, for the uninitiated, Buns of Steel is played in one’s laundry room whilst clad in undies (or skivvies if you’re part of the Under 10 crowd), and the rules are as follows:

1. Clench your butt cheeks as tightly as you can.
2. Get someone to punch your butt – HARD.
3. Have the puncher declare whether you do, in fact, have Buns of Steel.

There I was, in the laundry room, minding my own business, trying to find something, ANYTHING, clean to wear when I was ASSAULTED by 2nd graders.

Now I have worked for years… yeeeeeears… to try to convince my children my butt is not a bongo nor is my tummy a timpani, although they’ve been reluctant adopters of the No Beating Your Mother philosophy. Similarly, I’ve tried to assist my adorable cherubs in understanding it’s impolite to giggle, and — OK — guffaw as the case may be, at the way my fine flesh reverberates and wobbles at the smallest provocation.

I thought we were making progress, too, walking that fine line between teaching my children that, while I refuse to be ashamed of being what my maternity nurse generously called “fluffy,” I also don’t need to be poked and prodded to gleeful cries of, “We just watchin’ you jiggle, Mama!” 

Yes, I thought we were making progress ’til I was punched in the rear in the laundry room.

I thought we were making progress, so I wheeled around — unhelpfully sending the whole ship a’shakin’ — to spear my precious angels with the hairy eyeball. The LOOK. The Oh No You Dih-Unt. 

They backed away with their hands raised, protesting their innocence. “We weren’t punching your butt, Mom!” they said. And, to my raised eyebrow, they followed up, “Well, OK, we WERE punching you, but just to see if you got Buns of Steel.” Because that’s way better than beating my butt like drums, I guess. 

So I asked, because I could not help myself, “And do I have Buns of Steel?” And they were caught.




Because not only had they punched me in the butt! Now they were forced to make a commentary they did not want to have to make. BWAHAHAHAHA.

No way out, baby dolls!

Full speed ahead!

Let’s see what you’ve got!

Which is when one twin looked at the other, beckoned him forward, whispered in his ear, garnered his agreement with a quick nod of the head, and said, “No, Mom. You don’t have Buns of Steel. You have Buns of Flexible, and that kind is good, too.”

So here I sit — on my battered Buns of Flexible — realizing we have, in fact, made progress. And for today, it’s enough.





P.S. You can see my Belly of Flexible – and read why I love it anyway – here.

On a Mama’s Intuition (and Acne)

May 6, 2014 in Beth, Family, Funny, Health by Beth Woolsey

I took a 1st grader to the doctor this morning. This is his 4th follow-up post surgery.

IMG_5565Although Greg and I argued about whether our son really needed to hear out of both ears (Greg: “He really does, Beth.” Me: “But GENERAL ANESTHETIC and he’ll probably DIE and you are SUCH A JERK and GAH!”), Greg prevailed, and so Cai got a brand new ear drum at the end of March, and, to go along with it, better hearing. Whatever, Greg.

But Cai’s been having a problem ever since surgery with a little spot on the skin above his ear canal. It’s small but red, swollen and painful to the touch, and, since they had to essentially remove his ear for the procedure, cutting it from behind, flopping it forward and then reattaching it (I know; gag), I knew we had to get it checked by the doctor because INFECTION and GANGRENE and he’ll probably DIE.

IMG_5562The doctor asked Cai lots of questions like, “Where does it hurt?” and “Only when you touch it or all the time?” and “How long have you had it?” before examining it with his bright light and magnifying lens. 

And thank God for Dr. Burningham’s diligence (and, not to pat myself on the back too much, but also for a Mama’s Intuition), because when he finished, the doctor looked at me and diagnosed Cai with…

…wait for it…

…a clogged pore.

“A what, Mom?” asked Cai.

“A clogged pore,” said I.

“What’s that?” asked Cai.

“A pimple,” said I.

“What’s that?” asked Cai.

And I looked at the doctor and the doctor looked at me and I sighed, because clearly it was my job as the mommy to break the news in a way my kid could understand.

“You know those red dots on Mommy’s face? The ones you point out every single time they appear?” asked I.

“Oh yeah,” said Cai.

“That’s a pimple,” said I.

“Gross,” said Cai.

“Yep,” said I.

And that’s the exciting news from our morning.

How was yours?


ALSO… come have lunch with me in Portland!

OregonianOmamasEventOregon and Southwest Washington moms and dads, I’d LOVE to see you next Tuesday, May 13th at the Portland Art Museum

The Omamas from The Oregonian are hosting a Making the Most of Summer discussion, and I get to join them as the guest panelist. Don’t worry; although my tips for summer include How to Justify Extra Screen Time and How to Panic While Taking Too Many Kids Camping, the Omamas have GOOD advice. Plus, there will be lunch. Yay for food!

If you’re an Oregonian Plus member, this event is FREE. If not, it’s just $5. GREAT deal and FUN. (Seriously. Come. Buy your tickets here.)

ALSO, I’m giving away 5 pairs of 2 tickets each (so you can come and bring a friend). TO ENTER: between now and Thursday (11:59pm Pacific Daylight Saving Time), leave a comment below. For an extra entry, you can also leave a comment on this Facebook post.

On Friday morning, I’ll announce our 5 winners!


Announcing our winners for this Tuesday’s lunch with the Oregonian Omamas and me at the Portland Art Museum: 
Jen Blew 
Ruby Ringo
Dominique Dobson
Hilary Newlin O’Halloren

If you didn’t win, please come anyway! Tickets (click here) are only $5/person, including lunch, and I would LOVE to see you there.

(Winners please email me at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.comfor your confirmation # for 2 tickets each.)

On Getting a Snake (and Possibly New Friends and Family)

April 23, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I’m so excited to introduce you to Isabelle, the newest member of our family.

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Isabelle is a Kenyan Sand Boa who enjoys snuggling and long walks on the beach. She’s really a darling. Also, she might be a boy, but whatever.

Of course, naming Isabelle proved to be a HUGE challenge. 

Greg wanted to name her “If you even think about putting her in our bedroom, I’m moving out,” and “no, seriously; I’m moving out,” and “of the house,” and “what part of I’m leaving you is hard to understand?” but I thought those were unwieldy names for a baby snake. Greg’s not very good at this.

I wanted to name her Fluffy, but my 1st graders thought that was the stupidest snake name ever, so I told them they were the stupidest ever. No, I didn’t. OK; yes, I did, but I assessed ahead of time that they’d understand I was kidding and would find it funny rather than hurtful, and I was right, so HA! Unfortunately, I failed to fully understand the implications of handing 1st grade boys the “Oh yeah? Well, you’re the stupidest ever” weapon, but my boys are driving the point home, one stupid sword thrust at a time, so if it offends you that I’d say such a thing to 7 year olds, you can go ahead and smuggly congratulate yourself on the natural consequences being heaped upon my stupid head.

The 7 year olds wanted to name her Radioactive or Sunshine. 

The 12 year old cried because Isabelle isn’t a unicorn

The 14 year old was sad because he still misses his fish. The one who died 4 years ago. Which is why, he explained to me, he was unable to finish his laundry room chores last night. The grief was just too much.

The 15 year old said she’s moving out with her father.

Having a new family member is an emotional adjustment. 

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Our friends suggested we name Isabelle Satan, Lucifer, or Beelzebub. Or Bob. Or Trouser or Inthegrass. Or Houdini. 

My cousin Leslie started a pool so the extended family can bet on how long it’ll take before we lose her or she escapes. 

Obviously, my 1st graders and I are scheduling interviews for new friends and family. Please feel free to apply below by answering any or all of the following questions:

1. What’s your tolerance for weirdos? (psst… High, Very High or Extremely High are all acceptable answers)
2. How do you feel about super sweet, darling, snuggly snakes?
3. Would you ever call your mama a stupidhead? What if she started it and she was, in fact, being a stupidhead?

Thank you for your time.

The Most Fun Thing to Do With Kids on a Plane

February 28, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I’ve told you before about the 3 Important Things to Pack for Airplane Travel with Young Kids. I call them the Trifecta of Airplane Actives: 1. teeny, tiny vials of bubbles, 2. cellophane tape, and 3. pipe cleaners, and you can read more about why here. But I’m telling you now, those are old news. History. Ancient advice. 

Because we just discovered the MOST fun thing to do on airplanes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A young child who’s not afraid of strangers; I used a 7-year-old, but this activity should work well for kids aged 4-10.
  2. Seat assignments for your family dispersed throughout 5 rows, only 2 of which are actually together.
  3. The Cal State Fullerton baseball team.**

Now, here’s what you do.

As you board the aircraft and usher kids to their seats, reminding them gently to use the activities in their backpacks and not kick the seats in front of them, you’ll notice your 1st grader – the chatty one with a little bit of crystalized cinnamon sugar around his mouth – will be seated in a window seat, surrounded by a sea of nice college men, all wearing their pristine nylon baseball warm-ups, all with perfectly styled hair, all with chiseled jaws and clean tennis shoes, on their way from Cal State Fullerton to play the University of Oregon.

MAKE EYE CONTACT with the young gentlemen sharing your son’s row and introduce him to them.

“This is Cai,” you can say. “He’s sitting in that seat next to you.”

Then it’s important to FOCUS ON THE ONE SITTING NEXT TO HIM.

The one in the middle seat.

The one looking a little shell-shocked to be suddenly playing babysitter on the flight.

A tiny bit unsteady.

The slightest bit unsure.

But trying – really trying – with good grace to be kind and welcoming.

Focus on that guy and say, “Don’t worry. Cai does GREAT on planes. He’s done this a thousand times, and I promise you, he’s really well-behaved and he only vomits a little bit after take-off.” Make that “little bit” symbol with your thumb and forefinger, and then think about it and correct yourself, “I mean, it can technically be a lot of puke, but it doesn’t last very long, and if you hold the barf bag steady for him, he should get it all in there just fine.” 

Of course, your child, who’s been stupidly taught to tell the truth, will immediately ruin everything by saying, “I do NOT throw up on planes, Mom. I NEVER throwed up on a plane. Not ever.” 

But I swear by all that’s good and holy in this world, that split second of sheer terror on that nice college guy’s face before your kid gives you away will be the most fun thing you’ve done with a kid on a plane. Ever. Guaranteed.

And all the people sitting around you – especially that guy’s buddies, who laughed until take-off – will agree with you. 


CalStateFullerton**Psst… you can try this activity with another baseball team or sports team of a different variety, but I think it’s important to have, say, well-groomed, clean-cut, gel-haired college people who care about not being ralphed on. Rugby players like my brother are more likely to yell, “VOMIT! YEAH, MAN!” and fist-bump the child in question as a form of harfing solidarity before being terribly disappointed to find out you’re joking. Choose wisely, is what I’m saying. 

And P.S., there was no puking. In fact, when we deplaned, several people complimented Cai on how well-behaved he was during that flight. Let this be a lesson to us all: if you set incredibly low expectations, you really can’t help but exceed them. 😉

A Christmas Miracle (and Day 4 of 7+ Giveaways)

December 17, 2013 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

I slept past my alarm this morning. It strummed the iPhone alarm strum mockingly at me and I hit snooze. And then I hit snooze again. And then I pushed my face deeper into my pillow and yelled, “why? Why? WHY?” and hit snooze again.

It was, in other words, a morning like every other morning.

Except this morning something wonderful happened. Something beautiful! Something miraculous!

This morning, my 7-year-olds woke up and, instead of going downstairs to cram as many cartoons as possible into their wee little heads to mitigate the imminent effect of school, they did the laundry.


My 1st graders woke up and DID THE LAUNDRY of their own accord. Like, dirty clothes in the washer, and the right amount of detergent, and the wet clothes in the dryer, and the dryer sheet, and all the right buttons, and everything

Who has ever even heard of such a thing as children doing laundry?

NO ONE. No one has! You know why? Because it never happens. EVER. It’s beyond unlikely. WAY beyond. It’s impossible. It could have ripped a hole in the space/time continuum! WE ALL COULD HAVE DIED.

Now, sure, it’s all sorted wrong.

And yes, some of the whites are going to come out purple or pink or a lovely light blue.

And yes, something is going to be shrunk that shouldn’t’ve been shrunk.

And yes, I’ll find crayon melted all over someone’s very favorite, irreplaceable shirt.




BECAUSE MY CHILDREN DID THE LAUNDRY. And if ever there was a time to yell, it’s this one!

And, look; even though I’m very Jesusy and very churchy, I do not ever, ever, ever push my faith here because I believe that whole Love My Neighbor Shtick to the tips of my toes, and I especially buy the bit that we’re ALL neighbors, and ALL worthy of deep respect, and ALL on an important journey in this life, and we can ALL learn important things from each other. I adore my friends who are Athiests and Agnostics, Buddhists and Pagans, Jews and Muslims, and Goddess-Something-or-Others. ADORE you.

But, seriously, folks, MY CHILDREN DID THE LAUNDRY, and we did NOT all blow up, and it’s Christmas time, and THIS IS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, friends! JESUS IS ALIVE! 


The End


P.S. This isn’t what I intended to write today. I intended to write a Mea Culpa about this unintentionally deceptive picture I posted on Facebook last night and the ensuing comments in which you expressed your (correct) disappointment. I intended to write my sincere apology and to link to this subsequent picture and the photo comments beneath it, in which I tried to make it up to you, but I think we can all agree that this morning’s miracle needed to take priority over last night’s Facebook missteps. This morning’s undeserved Grace over last night’s Shame. Light after Darkness, always, yes?


Nevertheless, I do want to show you this lovely picture of my immaculate bedroom because it is, in its own way, Grace and Light, too. The mess, surprisingly, always is.


Merry (early) Christmas!
And Happy Holidays!

And if you’re hoping for something actually lovely to staunch your bleeding eyes after that pic,
read on for a rad giveaway from Verve Stamps.



Today is Day 4 of 7+ Giveaways!
(Day 3 is still accepting entries: click here.)

I invited the 5 Kids Blog advertisers (see the column to your right) to join me for 7 (or more!) days of giveaways. CHECK BACK for a NEW GIVEAWAY EVERY DAY.


Today, Verve Stamps is giving a Brighter Days clear stamp set with classy flowers, funky arrows and several trendy, uplifting sentiments. These stamps are perfect for using on an encouraging card or note to a friend, or maybe just to create a beautiful little reminder for yourself that even amidst the chaos, brighter days are ahead.



This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Maira, winner of the Verve Stamps set!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Thursday, December 19th. One entry per person, please. A winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Friday.

This giveaway is open to international participants. International shipping provided by me.

Note: The 5 Kids Blog advertisers provided no additional compensation for these giveaways. Verve Stamps is paying for the cost of the giveaway and U.S. shipping. She paid me for her ad only, and this just seemed like a fun way to work together for your benefit. OK? OK.


On the Importance of Using Our Words

December 3, 2013 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

“OK, boys. We need to have a chat.”

I sat my twin 1st graders down last night before bedtime for a serious heart-to-heart.

“I know you like to sleep with me,” I said, “and that’s fine. You know, when we all get to SLEEP. Because, to be clear, that’s my number one main goal at night. To SLEEP as much as possible…”

And that’s as far as I got before the first interrupter interrupted. Which was RAD because I got out, like, three times more words than I usually do before the interruptions begin.

“Wait, Mom, wait,” Cai said, hand raised in the full stop position. “Wait. I thought your number one main goal is to keep us safe.”

“Well, yes,” I said. “That goes without saying. But my POINT is…”

“But Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. I think you should say it because it’s important to use your words, Mom. Like how would you like it if I say sorry without saying sorry? Because I try that sometimes and that is not OK with you.” Cai looked at me with his I’ve Just Made a Seriously Awesome Point Face. 

“OK. Fine. My number one main goal is to keep you safe AND to get as much sleep as possible, but last night…”

And Cael started to cry.

“Cael, honey, you’re not in trouble.” 


“Then why are you crying?”

“Because I thought your number one main goal was to LOVE US.”

Oh, geez. Knife to the gut, man.

“Yes, of COURSE, baby. My number one main goal is to love you. ALWAYS. AND…”

“Well, you should’ve said that with saying, too, Mom.”


“OK. Sorry.”

“Good thing she said that with saying,” Cai mumbled disgruntledly, and he grabbed his brother’s hand in a show of support while they made Significant Eye Contact. The same kind of Significant Eye Contact I expect them to make when they sit me down someday to tell me I’m going to the home. 

“AS I was saying,” I said, “my number one main goal, in addition to loving you and keeping you safe, which goes with saying…”

“Thank you.”

“…is to get as much sleep at night as possible. But when you’ve crawled in bed with me lately, you’re both sleeping AND kicking which isn’t really working for me.”

“We’re kicking?”

“Yes. Kicking.”

IMG_0939Cai and Cael looked at each other incredulously. “Did you know we were kicking?” “No. Did you?” “No.” 

“Mom, are you sure?”

“Um, yes. I’m sure.”

“Hm,” said Cael skeptically, “It’s just… we sleep together every night, Mom. So if we were kicking, probably we would’ve noticed.”

“Yeah, well, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. You’re kicking. And not just putting your feet on me like you’ve been doing since you were two. I mean you’re picking your legs up in the air and flopping them down on me. HARD. And repeatedly. Giant kicking motions, gentlemen.”

They started giggling which turned quickly to guffawing.

“I’m not saying we do that, Mom,” Cael replied, “but if we did, you have to admit it’s pretty funny.”

“No, Cael. No, it’s not. Also, it’s really happening, so we have to come up with a better solution like you guys staying in YOUR bed or sleeping on my floor. Or me sleeping in your bed after you get in mine. I don’t even care. I. JUST. WANT. SOME. SLEEP.” 

“Don’t panic, Mom.” Still Cael. “We can fix this if we work together. But not with your ideas. No offense, but your ideas aren’t very good because we like to sleep with you.” Cai nodded his agreement, the punk.

“OK. I’m all ears.”

“Mom! I’ve got it!” yelled Cael. “A plastic box with air holes, Mom! We just put you in one of those in your bed and then you get protected from us kicking!”

“So… you’re saying you want to put me away in a human sized box at night.”


“Like a coffin.”

“YES! Except more like a bug container ’cause AIR HOLES, Mom. AIR HOLES.”

Cai approved. “Cael, you are a GENIUS. And I’m not just saying that. You really are.” 

“See, Mom? This is why things need to go with saying. So we can work out our problems with words. I think we’ve all learned a very important lesson about that today.” 

Yep. I know I feel better.


The Last Doll

June 22, 2013 in Beth, But Seriously, Family by Beth Woolsey

I stood in the mall in the tiny store crowded with books and toys and trinkets of all shapes and sizes, and I stared at the wall of stuffed animals as I tried desperately to narrow down my choice.

I was 8 years old, and my fourth facial surgery was just a few days away. The stuffed friend I was about to pick would be my hospital companion, tasked to stay with me after visitor hours ended when my parents would be required to leave.

That’s the way hospitals worked in the early 80’s, without fluffy modern-day nonsense where parents remain with their kids in the hospital around the clock. And, of course, by “fluffy modern-day nonsense” I mean nothing of the kind; parents of the 80’s were made of stronger stuff than me, no doubt, because it would take an elephant tranquilizer, a team of Navy SEALs, and a reinforced cage to get me out of my kid’s hospital room.

Still, I was never afraid in the hospital as a child due to equal parts Unflappable Parents, Unlimited Popsicle and the kind of Unshakable Companionship only a teddy bear can provide.

Choosing that bear was tough, though. A whole wall of bears and lambs, and I had to hurt all their feelings except one. I was that kid. The one who truly, deeply believed my animals and dolls were alive. The one who hid outside my bedroom and then JUMPED through the doorway to try to catch them moving. The one who whispered that I was trustworthy and if they’d just let me in on their secret, I’d keep it. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. So when I picked my bear in the mall that day, I cried because I couldn’t take them all, and I told them quietly not to worry; their turn for a family would come soon.

When Abby, my oldest, was 10, she campaigned for an American Girl Just-Like-Me Doll. I resisted because Oh my word! EXPENSIVE. We’re not the $100 doll kind of people. We’re more like the Look It’s On Sale or We Can Get It at a Thrift Store or Hooray for Hand-Me-Downs kind of people. Plus, American Girl Dolls need clothes and a hairbrush and stuff, stuff, stuff. And Abby was a fairly grown-up 10 who was already more interested in make-up than make-believe. How long would she play with a doll, anyway?

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But then I remembered my hospital bear and my favorite childhood book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Have you read it? It’s still good. Much better than her more well-known The Secret Garden which is kind of spooky and sad and yellow.

A Little Princess chronicles the story of Sara Crewe after her father reluctantly leaves her at a boarding school. Before he goes, father and daughter search London for Sara’s Last Doll. “Dolls ought to be intimate friends,” Sara says. And finally, they find Emily, with her attentive gray-blue eyes that read as though she knew Sara all along. That’s because she does, I thought when I read it for the first time. She really does know you, Sara.

IMG_0688-EditAnd with that memory, I was done in. It was time for Abby’s Last Doll.

She picked Tiffany, who was everything you hope for a Last Doll to be.

But time went by, as it usually does, and eventually Tiffany was boxed up and put on a shelf and forgotten.

Until 6-year-old Cai found her yesterday. A beautiful box that revealed a beautiful doll. He pulled Tiffany from storage, and he held her reverently because he knew somehow that’s what you do with a doll like her.

I sat quietly in the living room yesterday, watching as Cai, with Tiffany in his arms, pushed Abby’s creaky door open. “Abby?” he said, “Is this your doll?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Can I play with her?” he asked.

And Abby was quiet for a long moment before she said, “Yes, Cai. Her name is Tiffany, and she’s very special. You’ll have to be careful with her and treat her kindly.”

“I will,” Cai said, and he withdrew from her room and closed the door.

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And I swear I saw Tiffany smile.


P.S. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is currently free on Amazon for Kindle.