Please Help: Teenage Boy Room Smell

April 9, 2015 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

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.


My Dust Bunnies Aren’t Bunnies; They’re Rodents of Unusual Size

March 22, 2015 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

My dad had open heart surgery, and then my kids started puking. Of course they did. Of course they did. Because illness waits for no one, as parents everywhere know, and I did not have the time or energy for pukers this week. Nope; illness waits for no one, and it’s certainly not going to book a time on the calendar that’s convenient. 

My friend Valerie started texting me things like, “You have a puker AGAIN?” and “SERIOUSLY? AGAIN?” and then, because she’s a registered nurse who’s medically trained and knows how to combat things like viruses and bacteria, she suggested we purchase an isolation bubble for our backyard, or invest in a decontamination unit, or, and this is the most medically sound suggestion of all, “light a match and walk away.” 

I thought about it, but I can’t find the matches because our house is buried under mountains of socks who’ve given up ever finding their soulmates, and All the Papers that come home from All the Schools, and That One Stack of Stuff I Was Going to Take Care Of two years ago that has reproduced and multiplied and is now Seventeen Stacks of Stuff I Was Going to Take Care Of But Probably Never Will. 

So, instead of cleaning my own house (because UGH and ARE YOU KIDDING?), I headed to my parents’ house to clean theirs. After all, my dad is recovering from OPEN HEART SURGERY. They NEED ME. (Read: They didn’t actually need me.) And also, I can AVOID CLEANING MY HOUSE by being altruistic and SELFLESS and stuff, and no one — NOT ONE PERSON — can blame me for it. WIN/WIN, friends.


I asked my parents where I could start — what all they neeeeeeeded me to do– and, after my dad finished sighing the I-wish-you’d-go-away-because-I’d-really-rather-nap sigh, they said I could clean the floors because, and I quote, “Our floors DO indicate we’ve been living in sloth and squalor.”

FYI, for those of you who Weren’t Raised by Marines, the picture below shows everything — every single thing — I could find to sweep in their kitchen along with a penny for scale. 


THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is Sloth and Squalor to a Marine.

Let’s just take a moment to think about my childhood, shall we?

Thank you.

In addition, I found a dust bunny under my parents’ couch.

This dust bunny:


That dust bunny.

That teeny, tiny, adorable dust bunny.

Which I found after looking diligently for it because my dad had said, “There are dust bunnies everywhere.” 

Everywhere = one spot under the couch. 

Just one. 

One wittle baby dust bunny whose eyes hadn’t opened yet.

Under the couch where my dad couldn’t even SEE it.

It’s like the Princess and the Pea, except it’s the Marine and the Mess. 

For comparison, when I got home, I picked up the first dust mammal I came across. 

And, you guys, this isn’t even the biggest of my dust rodents.


Just the most available.

Let’s compare:





Cootchy cootchy coo:


Needs headgear:


And you know what I did with that dust rodent of unusual size?

I put it back where I found it. Yes I did.

Because I LOVE you, and, if your house is messy, I don’t want you to feel lonely.

I know. I give, and I give.

With love,


On the Importance of Wanderlust (and Why the “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” List is WAY Off Base)

January 18, 2015 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I read a terrible article yesterday titled 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. It made me crazy because it was so full of judgement, teeny, tiny boxes in which to shove women (and God), and proof texts, that poorest form of theology which makes the Bible into a rule book instead of an epic love story and makes a mockery of Jesus’ life and the way he championed people again and again.

To spare you reading it, the author’s list of women who make poor candidates for wifery is as follows:

  1. The Unbeliever
  2. The Divorcee
  3. The Older Woman
  4. The Feminist
  5. The Sexy-Dresser
  6. The Loud Mouth
  7. The Child-Hater (aka, any woman who’s unwilling to procreate)
  8. The Wander-Luster
  9. The Career Woman
  10. The Devotion-less Woman

He includes Bible verses after each category and explanations.

After I finished reading the list, gasping aloud in horror (honestly, I sounded like I was watching a YouTube video of serial kitten murders), and then checking the internet to make sure it wasn’t some sort of satirical joke, I realized I’m 40% a Good Wife Choice by this man’s measure. After all, I cling tenaciously to the ideal of equality between men and women; I wear v-cut t-shirts regularly (sexy, baby); I am very, very loud, although I’m certain the man who wrote the list would be somewhat relieved to know I used to struggle with accepting the enthusiasm and volume at which I live life; I’m a career woman; and I discovered years and years ago that the rote morning devotions I thought I had to have to be a good, Christian woman don’t have as much to do with faith as letting God out of the box, discovering that Love is sanctuary in the midst of the storm, and letting grace unearth the light and not just the darkness inside me.

I shared this guy’s article on the Five Kids Facebook page, because I just couldn’t stand it, and I am so grateful for all your “wows” and “what the…?s” because I felt so much less alone. But someone asked why I’d even bother to give this guy publicity for his article, which is a really great question that deserves an answer. My answer is this: there’s an enormous amount of garbage and judgement that happens in the name of Jesus these days from voices so loud they drown out the rest of us, and I’m not willing to allow this man or those who believe like him to speak on behalf of Christians like me who try and fail and try and fail and keep trying anyway to love each other well, and love each other loudly, and love each other with wild grace, which is the greatest commandment, above all other “rules.” (Matthew 22, etc. Proof text that, dude.

But the thing on his list that just astounded me — even more than the prohibition against Older Women which is just laughable — was his denigration of Wanderlust.

The more I thought about it, though, the more Wanderlust’s place on the list made terrible sense. It made sense because, of course, when we keep women only home, only focused on husbands and children, only giving of themselves and never caring for their own needs — when we feed women the ideal that their fulfillment comes solely from being a wife and a mother — when we tell them their dreams of both/and — both home and travel, both family and friends, both children and career, both God and grace, both boundaries and freedom, both our dreams as a family and my dreams as a person — are rich and full and a reality to reach for, we risk losing women to the wilderness. We risk losing women to complexity. We risk losing women to the place where they’re both human and divine — utterly fallible and also made in the very image of God — full of grit and grace and gratitude and grime and gory and glory all at the same time. We risk allowing women to be more than Stepford Wives and participate in the mess and find magic there and learn that there is that of God in everything. Just all of it. God in everything. Or Love, if you, like me, like to use God’s other name when The Whole God Thing becomes too muddied to understand.

It is easier, of course, to keep women contained. To squash the wanderlust that takes us physically away and the wanderlust of our hearts which lets us dream. It’s easier to keep us only home. To keep us feeling guilty when our entire fulfillment isn’t found in being a wife and a mother. Because when we women are set free to be fully who Love intended us to be, we are a force. WE ARE A FORCE to be reckoned with, and there are men and women in this world who are unwilling to do the reckoning.

To be clear, I am a woman who finds my greatest joy in my family; and they also drive me up a freaking wall. A FREAKING WALL, friends. Because my family is made out of humans, and I’m one, too, which is as awful as it is awesome, but my simultaneous desire to snuggle all five of my babies on my lap and also run away screaming to Mexico has nothing – nothing – to do with the depth of my love for or devotion to Jesus, nor my worth as woman, nor my value as a wife and a mom.

Truth is, I am a better mama and a better wife when I escape from time to time. To recenter. To rest. To live. To wander. To wonder. To think. To find myself beyond wilderness boundary and also longing to come home. To be terribly, deeply, beautifully both/and. And to be a woman fully loved and worthy of choosing, exactly as I am. 


P.S. After I read The Terrible Article, I offered to divorce Greg and remarry him ’cause I had an enormous urge to be an even bigger disappointment to the guy who wrote that drivel. 

P.P.S. Greg hasn’t responded yet, so I assume he’s considering divorcing me just to make me happy. That’s why I love him, and I’ll never leave him.

P.P.P.S. I’m writing this as I’m wander-lusting to Australia.

P.P.P.P.S. These are some pictures of me leading my daughter, Abby, astray and teaching her to be wanderlusty, too: 




Because if I bring a child up in the way she should go, when she’s old she won’t depart from it. 



Seeping Booty: The Bizarre But True Tale of Maleficent’s Real Magic

June 2, 2014 in Funny by Beth Woolsey

photo 1 (70)When Abby, my oldest, was a toddler, she couldn’t get enough Sleeping Beauty in her life and watched the Disney movie, the way toddlers do, over and over and over again – and over again – slamming her sippy cup on the TV when I failed to rewind the tape in the VHS player with a speed that met her expectations. Oh, Modern Mamas with your instantaneous DVD magic! May you never know the pain of prolonged rewinding.

Now, when Abby was 2, she couldn’t pronounce Sleeping Beauty, and so she called Aurora “Seeping Booty,” instead, which is, of course, a leaking butt and always made me think of the beautiful princess Aurora with a terrible, terrible case of diarrhea. Just horrible. The kind that leaves you chalky and pale and doubled over with pain and sure – sure – that you are about to DIE on the toilet, or, worse, pass out and soil yourself and have to live to face the person who finds you. There’s just… nothing beautiful about that. Nothing.

It changes the movie entirely once you consider it from the Seeping Booty perspective, to think of Aurora laid out on that bed, pale and lifeless from a dreadful case of the runs, the finger pricked on the spinning wheel a mere coincidence on which Maleficent capitalized in order to further her reputation as a wicked practitioner of the most nefarious magicks, instead of the truth, which is this: Maleficent is a just an accomplished food poisoner akin to the witch in Snow White who worked her spell on an apple.

And, really, let’s think of Maleficent for just one minute and how it might shape you to be born into a family of benevolent fairies only to discover your one magical gift is to cause people gastrointestinal discomfort. What would you do? Who would you become? Not so easy to casually dismiss Maleficent now, is it? And what if Maleficent’s gift applies not just to others, but also to herself? Wouldn’t a lifelong case of the craps explain the gauntness? The razor-blade cheekbones (even Angelina had to wear prosthetic cheekbones to play her)? The cruel disposition? The giant, fire-breathing dragon, which is obviously a metaphor for the trots, which drag on and drag on and drag-on… DRAG ON. Dragon. Right?

I don’t know. I don’t mean to be critical here, but I think Disney could’ve done a better historical job of making Maleficent a sympathetic character all along by simply divulging this information about her, rather than waiting for a 2-year-old to ferret it out. Of course, I haven’t seen the new Maleficent movie yet, so they probably corrected this gross oversight and I just spoiled the entire thing. 

photo 2 (76)P.S. This post is utterly pointless, FYI, and it occurs to me now I might’ve warned you of that at the beginning. Sorry about that. It’s just that Abby is recovering from foot surgery, which means she’s hopped up on narcotics, unlimited Disney movies, and a general but determined aura of patheticness, and she fell asleep watching Sleeping Beauty the other day which made me happy and maudlin at the same time to remember our Seeping Booty days, and now you’re stuck with this drivel. You’re welcome. It’s what I do.

Sleeping Beauty

P.P.S. Abby used to call Clifford the Big Red Dog, “Bullshit.” I thought you should know.

5 Probably Totally Scientific Reasons Boys MUST Clutch Their Penises

May 21, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

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

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

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

hand5 Probably Totally Scientific Reasons Boys MUST Clutch Their Penises

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

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

There’s Been a Misunderstanding

March 18, 2014 in Family by Beth Woolsey

We need to clear a little something up.

It’s my fault.

I should’ve known.

But I wasn’t thinking about explaining myself when I opened my big mouth and blathered on, and, well, here we are in the middle of a misunderstanding.

On March 8, as part of our 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects series, I posted this “before” picture on Facebook,

photo 1 (69)

…and asked if you could see the difference – any difference at all – in the “after” picture, as follows:

photo 2 (75)

Our project for the day was titled Spend 15 Minutes on an Enormous, Overwhelming Pile of Crap and Then Quit, which, since I’m a rule-follower (ha!) and got to make up the rules for this project (yippee!), is exactly what I did.

And then the kind-hearted, sweet, gentle, positive, optimistic friends that you are said things like,

“You did Laundry!”


“Folded laundry!!!!” 


“That’s a huge accomplishment – on the assumption that you folded them and put them away, rather than just moving the baskets – well done!” 

Which… bless your hearts.

And, au contraire.

Because I don’t fold laundry.


Like, never EVER. Except for occasionally my own jeans for reasons even I don’t understand. Because Mysteries of the Universe. And We’ll Never Have All the Answers.

And I certainly don’t put laundry away. Not in the traditional “away in dressers” or “away in bedrooms” or “away in closets” or “stuffed way, WAY under the bed” kinds of away.

But I didn’t just move those baskets, either.


I vanished them with my magic wand. Which I found in the ENORMOUS PILE of CRAP where it’s been missing for 1,000 years. And the only reason I didn’t vanish the entire pile is because the wand batteries died the way batteries always die when I really need them. This is why we need better sources of renewable energy, people. It’s critical for our future.

Except I didn’t actually find my magic wand. It’s still missing, unlike my car keys which I did find but which failed to magically vanquish the piles of crap because, no matter how vigorously you wave them, they don’t work that way. I know because I tried.

The real truth is, those baskets, full of clothes, have been sitting in my bedroom for months. At least 8 months, but who’s counting any more? And the reason they’ve been sitting there is because I asked my eldest daughter to go through her clothes and keep only those she actually wears, which she did. 

The problem is, Abby used to look like this:


And now she looks like this:


And thank God she’s still sticking flowers in her hair, but it’s not enough.


I just couldn’t face the culling and the giving away of all the STUFF she mistakenly thought she didn’t need anymore. Like the first pathetic scarf she painstakingly knitted, most of which was unraveled and might more accurately be called a Wad of Yarn.




…who listen to their mommies and follow directions and BREAK OUR HEARTS.

So here’s where I need to clear the air, friends:

I didn’t do those three baskets of laundry. I didn’t fold them. And I didn’t put them away.

But I DID sort them. And I DID purge them. And I DID give nearly all of it, minus a pair of bunny slippers, away.

So, while I regret to inform you I’m not the laundry hero you thought I was, I’m still going to give myself credit for doing hard work, OK? 

Not all of these 15 Minute Projects are easy. Some of them, despite the brief time commitment, are HARD. Which is why I’m glad we’re doing them together. Even if we have a few misunderstandings along the way.

I’m so glad we cleared that up.


LentToday’s project, for those of you joining me for 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects, hearkens back to Day 1.

A Surface. 

Any surface at all that needs your attention. A dresser. A table. A counter. A desk. Pick the one that’s crying out for help.

I’ve picked a surface familiar to all of us now; my bedroom dresser. Yesterday’s project was Cleaning Up Stuff That Is Blocking You From Cleaning Up Other Stuff, which I used to clear myself a path. Today, I’m tackling the top of the dresser. 


photo 2 (75)


photo 3 (52)

P.S. You can find a compiled list of all the 15 Minute Projects to date here.

P.P.S. You can find out how we DO manage laundry here. It’s weird, but it works.

P.P.P.S. You can find out other strange things we do which we loosely categorize as “home organization” here.

And P.P.P.S. You can find the absolute, guaranteed FASTEST way to organize a linen closet here.



Environmental Living Tip of the Day

Since I’m patently Not Qualified to offer environmental living tips, I’ve asked my friend Leslie to join us here periodically during our 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects to offer tips, tricks and simple solutions to treat the earth better.

Today’s Tip: Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz created by the Center for Sustainable Economy. It’ll let you know how much nature it takes to sustain your style of living. After the quiz, you can click on “ways to reduce your footprint” for practical ways to lessen your impact.

Leslie Hodgdon Murray is a Quaker pastor who is pursuing her Master’s of Divinity with an emphasis in Christian Earthkeeping. Her passion in life is helping people reduce waste, simplify life and reduce their ecological footprint, and I’ve asked her to weigh in here on all matters environmental. 


Congratulations to Wendy Gassaway
who completed the 15 Minute Desk Project





Nice job, Wendy!


My Husband Stopped Texting Me While He’s at Work

January 10, 2014 in Beth, Funny by Beth Woolsey

My husband has stopped responding to texts from me while he’s at work.


So my husband’s solution is to walk around with his penis goiter and tell people he’s just happy to see them? Um… no.


I haven’t heard back from Greg since I mentioned I’m a Penis Goiter Coveter.

I’d feel bad for Greg – I mean, no one goes into marriage thinking you’re getting a Penis Goiter Coveter for a wife – but marriage doesn’t always turn out the way you think. The person you marry changes. And they make new discoveries. And, well, sometimes Penis Goiter Coveting is part of it. This is what For Better OR FOR WORSE means, Greg.


P.S. I’d apologize for being a 14-year-old boy, except I’ve decided to stop apologizing for who I am.

P.P.S. In other news, mad props to Lizzy Pollard. While no one has been able thus far to fulfill my request for a copy of Be Bold With Bananas, Lizzy did find me the Banana Candles recipe which includes instructions for cutting off the curvy bit at the end, fitting it in the hole, and what to do if you don’t like nuts. My day? MADE. Thank you, Lizzy.

And… P.P.P.S. It’s time for the LAST DAY (Day 12) of 7+ Giveaways! (Day 11 is still open to entries here.) WE MADE IT. WOOHOO! I’d give you a long schpeel here except I’m afraid if my schpeels get any longer, I’ll trip over them. And I think we can all agree NO ONE WANTS THAT. 


SO. Today’s giveaway for one winner is the item of your choice from the 5 Kids Shop.

Pee Fight Pacifist t-shirt? We’ve got it.
Need to let folks know it’s an Angery Dragon kind of day? Done.
Definition of Parenting mug? You betcha. 

And, of course, we still have the always popular 5 Kids logo thong. Because telling my brother he could do “whatever he wanted” with the shop was a horrible, horrible idea.

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jaclyn, winner of the 5 Kids Shop item.  

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Monday, January 13th. One entry per person, please. A winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Tuesday(ish). This giveaway is open to international participants.

photo 1 (70)P.P.P.P.S. The thong is our best seller because you guys are HILARIOUS. Like Chris who bought it for his wife for their anniversary and had me autograph it. —>

I’m still laughing, Chris. Nicely done.



Greg DID text me back later in the afternoon.


You know; just FYI.