In Retrospect…

August 2, 2015 in Funny by Beth Woolsey

In retrospect, taking 6 kids in 100+ degree weather in a non-air-conditioned vehicle for a 7 hour road trip isn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

On the bright side, it’s also not the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, and we invented the most fabulous on-the-go, do-it-yourself, totally-Pinterest-worthy air conditioning system while we were at it. Our system is called ICE EVERYWHERE — ice every damn where — and it worked! It worked!

Please don’t feel sad if you’ve never thought of that elegant solution yourself. It’s OK. You’re OK. Some of us are Pinteresty, and some of us aren’t, and we accept all comers here. As for me, I’m Pinteresty. Obviously. I mean, I even shoved ice in my hair, man.



Just in case you’d like to create your own DIY Air Conditioning, I’ve created a step-by-step guide below. BECAUSE I CARE, friends. Because I care.

DIY Portable Air Conditioning
A Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Borrow a large passenger vehicle. We borrowed an airport shuttle from my father-in-law, but I imagine any bulky, unwieldy, beast of a van absent air circulation will do.
Step 2: When the vehicle’s owner notes the lack of air conditioning in said vehicle and asks if you’re really sure you want to borrow it, given the time of year, assure him you’ll be just fine without air conditioning. After all, you live in in a temperate part of the world and you grew up in Southeast Asia. Be sure to say things like, “Pacific Northwesterners are enormous wimps,” and “How bad can it be?” Scoff loudly.
Step e: Arrange for a 5 hour road trip. Make lots of potty stops and also sort of crash your borrowed vehicle into a coffee shop awning so it becomes a 7 hour road trip. I mean, you could just make a 5 hour road trip in 5 hours, but where’s the fun in that? Honestly.
Step 4: Bring a half dozen children. They needn’t all be yours. In fact, it’s better if they’re not all yours, because being responsible for other people’s children while you’re crashing your borrowed vehicle into coffee shop awnings and keeping them locked in a metal can in the blistering heat creates maximum enjoyment for everyone where the word “enjoyment” is replaced with “dear God, what have I done?”
Step 5: Decide that if this isn’t going to be The Worst Road Trip of All Time, you’re going to have to Do Something and Do It Quick.
Step 6: Buy a boat load of ice and twelve hundred dozen million frozen treats and tell the 6 children there’s UNLIMITED EVERYTHING. YOU CAN HAVE WHATEVER YOU WANT, KIDS. SHOVE THAT ICE WHEREVER YOU LIKE AND EAT ALL THE POPSICLES. HAVE A BALL!
Step 7: Giggle when they actually shove ice every damn where.
Step 8: Be supportive when they craft their own elegant, DIY air conditioning system titled Screw Pants.


^^^The inventors of Screw PantsTM ^^^


In conclusion, take that, Pinterest.

Also, Screw Pants.

With love,





P.S. If you’ve ever wondered how to greet your neighbors when they come home from a 7 hour road trip with 6 kids in 100+ degree weather, wonder no more. THIS IS HOW:


Cold beer. Cold Coke. Praise Jesus and people who really do love their neighbors as themselves.

UPDATED with Winners: Worst Contest Ever

June 20, 2015 in Beth, Family, Funny, Uncategorized by Beth Woolsey

Hey! You know how you go on vacation with your five kids, and one starts puking, and you’re all, “Dear Jesus, please, please, please let this be food poisoning or an anxiety attack or anything other than a bug that’s going to take us all down” and then Jesus forgets about that whole Wave a Magic Wand and Make Everything Better part of his contract, and a second kid starts puking and you’re all, “OH MY GOSH, JESUS, WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS,” but Jesus is all, “It doesn’t matter how many time you TELL me to be a Magic Wand, Beth; still not my gig,” so you hold the bucket for Kid Number Two and rub his back and tell him All the Poor Babies and All the I’m So Sorrys and have a minor crisis of faith, because JESUS CHRIST, and then you remember that Jesus said to Love Each Other well, and didn’t give any cool bonus features with that command — not Love and You Will Be Loved, not Love and Then I’ll Wave My Magic Wand, not Love and Everything Will Fall Into Place, just Love Period — and you realize that’s exactly what you’re doing at 3:00am with Kid Number Two? You’re exhausted, and you’re in a hotel room, and you’re beginning to have wall-to-wall pukers, and your husband can sleep through anything, and you’re sure you’re coming down with the pukes because there’s nothing like the sound and smell of vomit to make you want to do it, too, but you manage be Love anyway? You know how THAT happens?


In conclusion, Jesus is a sometimes a sneaky JERK with his agenda.

Also in conclusion, I write very long run-on sentences when I’m tired.

Also-also in conclusion, one of my besties suggested we play Clue: Woolsey Puker Edition, which is just like a regular game of Clue except instead of trying to deduce who murdered whom with what in what room (which is too easy because I murdered Greg with a pillow in our hotel room WHILE HE SLEPT THROUGH ALL THE PUKING*), we try to figure out which Woolsey will puke next, where, and into/onto what.

Clue: Woolsey Puker Edition

What We’ve Already Learned: 

1. Ian, in the minivan, rim shot into the gallon ziplock baggy.
Also acceptable are the following:
Ian, in the bathroom, mostly into the toilet,
Ian, at Craker Lake National Park, under a fir tree, and
Ian, in the hotel room, into the garbage can.

2. Cael, in the hotel room, into the ice bucket.

What Players Are Left:

1. Greg
2. Beth
3. Abby
4. Aden
5. Cai
6. Grandma
7. Grandpa
8. Zoey the Service Dog


We’re in Southern Oregon for the next four days and will be making a day trip to the Redwoods in California.
Feel free to use your imagination for puking sites; after all, that’s what we do!

How to Enter:

Leave your guess!
Include 3 parts:
1. Who will puke
2. Where
3. Into/onto what.

THERE WILL BE TWO PRIZES: ONE for the person who guesses closest, and one for the person who guesses funniest, because DEAR GOD, WE NEED A LAUGH.

It may not be a great prize, but it will NOT be puke, so Win/Win!
I’ll probably mail you some local (uncontaminated by Woolsey hands, I promise) Oregon chocolate. Or something. I don’t know. I’m open to suggestions.

I cannot wait to see your entries. Cannot WAIT.

With Love as endless as the Woolsey germs,


*P.S. Greg got up with all the kids and let me sleep in. I shall hold off smothering him with a pillow for another night.

UPDATED: We are three days post-puke-fest, and in a SHOCKING twist, we’ve had NO NEW PUKERS. (I know, I know; now that I’ve typed this out loud, it’s a’comin’, but that’ll have to be a story for another time.)

Our winners are as follows:

1. The person who got closest to NO NEW PUKERS is Ami of who writes, “Ugh. So sorry. I get really pissed when Jesus doesn’t stop the puking. I mean seriously, we’re not talking curing leprosy or raising the dead here; help a mother out. I pray there will be NO MORE PUKING BY ANYONE AT ALL. EVER.” 

2. The person who wins for funniest comment is Katie with, “Ooh! Ooh! I’ll use my real life experience with my pukey pants sister to predict a future trend for the Woolseys. I predict Cai will puke on the back of Cael’s head in the middle of the night. The next day, Aden will puke in Abby’s lap in the car. In conclusion,younger siblings are rude and puke on older siblings, and then your mean mom won’t let you be mad at your little sister, because it’s not her fault she gets car sick, even though she could have chosen to puke in her OWN lap. But I’m not still bitter 26 years later or anything.” Heh heh. This is something that would TOTALLY happen to us.

Ami and Katie, send your address to me at with the subject line “I WON,” and I’ll send you your prizes!

I Want to Be Free and a Half

January 26, 2015 in Beth, But Seriously, Family by Beth Woolsey

IMG_2294This is Oliver.


IIMG_2293 met him in Australia last week, and I’ve decided to be him when I grow up.


IMG_2415Oliver is three and a half, and he’s got some things figured out I haven’t yet.


Yes, Oliver is three and a half, except Oliver can’t say the “th” sound yet, so Oliver says he’s “free and a half.”


Free and a half.


IMG_2416And he says it like he means it.




I think that’s more truthful anyway than a mere recitation of his age, because I watched Oliver eat an ice cream cone, and he knows there’s magic to be found in the mess and to dive headfirst into the sweet even though it’s sticky there.


I’d even be willing to bet Oliver likes the sweet more because it’s sticky there, which is a level of freedom I’ve rarely obtained, grumping as I do about about the muck and the mess and wishing for a life that’s more clean than cluttered, more joyful than jumbled — more pristine and perfect and orderly and organized than the life I have.


I’ve heard a lot about freedom in my 40 years and I’ve tried to listen to the rules so I can live a life without chains, but it turns out I know more about what it is to feel stuck. Stuck in the darkness. Stuck in my brain. Stuck in my faith. Stuck, well, rather loathing myself


But in recent years, I’m learning to look for the lights that lead the way to freedom. To abandon the isolation of the Shoulds and the Oughts in favor of the community of Wild Grace and Messy Mamaraderie. To tell you the truth of who I am in the hope you will tell me, too. And to discover that Love really does set us free.


I’m learning to look for the joy in the madness, but not rule out the madness as joy.


I’m learning to look for the sweet in the sticky, but rejoice in the sticky, too. 


I’m learning to find the magic in the mess. Because it turns out the life I have is sticky and sweet, magical and mundane, steady and unstable, and more chaotic and crazy and fabulous than I ever planned. I have a funny feeling that’s the path to freedom.


And to finding our way to Free and a Half.


Happy Classy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 in Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Let’s say, hypothetically, your cousins showed up at your house last Thanksgiving in a massive RV and made references all weekend to the Griswolds and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

GriswoldRV“That there’s an RV, Clark.”
“Yeah, Eddie. It looks so nice parked in front of the house.”
“Sure does, but don’t you go fallin’ in love with it, now,
’cause we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.”

And then let’s say you have the opportunity to borrow an airporter — you know, those enormous, bulky, sexy shuttle buses? woot woo! — to make the 6-hour drive to see said cousins this year which means you can totally, completely WIN the Classy Cousins Contest. For, like, ALL TIME.


I think you’re pretty much obligated to do it, right?



And to spend the 6 hours on the road making important announcements over the intercom? 


Yep. That’s what I thought, too. But I just thought I’d check.

In short, 

Happy Classy Thanksgiving
from our family to yours


Wishing you all a fabulous time.




P.S. We may or may not have used the wheelchair straps in the back to secure the keg of home brew we brought. Just saying – we TOTALLY win.


Griswold RV photo credit Old Navy


Here’s Something Thoughtful to Do When You’re 40 and Your Parents Are Out of Town

September 17, 2014 in Beth, Funny by Beth Woolsey

You’d think when you’re 66 years old and your daughter is 40, you can finally leave home for a few weeks to go on vacation and ask her to water the plants and trust she won’t throw a party and raid your beer in your absence.

You’d think that.

But you’d be wrong.

You know what’s fun to do when you’re 40 and your parents leave town? I mean, other than steal their convertible and act confused about why the mileage is always suddenly higher than when they left, which you’ve been doing for years.

What’s fun is throwing a party at their house because they were foolhardy and unwise and gave you their house keys, car keys and the garage code.

And even better than throwing an unauthorized party?

Is sending them pictures like this… 

photo 1 (70)

…of a police car in their driveway.

And this…

photo 2 (77)

…of beer bottles and some random couple on their bed.

And decorating their house for their return like this…

photo 4 (34)

… just, you know, to let them know you thought about them while they were away. 

Because you’re very, very thoughtful.

And you want them to know you missed them.

And that they should never, ever, EVER leave town again.

Or think you’re responsible enough to water the plants.

The End

P.S. Some of those pictures might be the teeniest, tiniest bit staged and may not reflect the actual nature of the party.

P.P.S. I might have flagged that cop down while he was driving by. And I might’ve asked if he’d do me a favor. And I might’ve mentioned it wasn’t actually law-enforcement related. And he might’ve looked at me like I was propositioning him before skeptically asking how he might help me. And I might’ve said, “I’m 40 and my parents are on vacation and I’m throwing a party without their knowledge.” And he might’ve started laughing before he offered to pull into the driveway and turn on the lights. And I might’ve told him he’s the BEST police officer in the WHOLE WORLD. You know, MAYBE.

P.P.P.S. I also might’ve just met those people who are pictured on my parents’ bed. And they might’ve offered to pose for it after seeing the cop in the driveway because they heard I was sending sketchy pics to my sweet, retired parents. And now I might be working on a campaign to force those bed people to be my friends forever and ever and ever. 

P.P.P.P.S. My parents gave me their house keys, car keys and garage keys, “just in case something happened,” but they didn’t give me their bank codes and passwords. Weird, right?

P.P.P.P.P.S. My parents used to be missionaries, and they love Jesus very much. The Bible tells us I am their reward. “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Some people think the Bible can be interpreted different ways. Those people are probably wrong.

Mamas in the Wild

August 4, 2014 in Beth, But Seriously, Family by Beth Woolsey

They sat at the table near us at dinner most nights of our cruise. A mama, a dad, a grandma and a baby. The baby was oblivious to semi-formal and formal nights and not at all impressed with the concept of a lengthy, leisurely meal, and so she cried sometimes. She cried like she meant it, full of gusto and heartbreak at being offered peas while she was tired or substandard potatoes when clearly only apples would do, because 11 months old is a hard age to understand your family’s on vacation and it’s time for fine dining. 

I wanted to go over to their table every time. To say, “She’s precious” and, “You’re doing a great job” as they cajoled and consoled her. To say, “You’re sitting next to a sympathetic crowd, friends.” And to say, as they looked around furtively, “It’s OK. Really. I swear it gets easier.”

Instead, we studiously ignored them because we wanted them to think we didn’t always hear the baby’s squawks of frustration, her hungry demands or her exhaustion. To maintain the illusion for them that no one noticed, and therefore no one was judging them harshly. And when they’d pass our table on their way out, leaving sooner than the rest of us, we’d only say, enthusiastically, “she’s so cute,” hoping, even though we knew it was inadequate, to send a You’re OK message with those words. An It Gets Better message. A We’re Here for You message.

I’m certain we failed, but there’s a fine line between acknowledging a common experience between parents and projecting all my new mama feelings on others. I wanted neither to disrupt their vacation nor their attempt at calm with my suppositions about what they must be feeling.

photo 2 (76)And then we saw them one day off the ship, as we stood at the perimeter of a grassy meadow, at the base of a wide hill covered with evergreens, at the side of stream where eagle pairs circled and a mama bear and her twin cubs sauntered toward the trees and back again. 

We saw the mama and the dad and the grandma and the baby, and we smiled again and said our She’s So Cutes, followed by We’ve Seen You Near Us at Dinner. 

The mama looked struck. Surprised and a little bit guarded in the way the vulnerable are; not wary, necessarily, but a little unsure of her welcome. She blurted, “She cries at dinner. I’m so sorry.”

And I said, “No worries. We have 5 kids. We get it; I promise. They’ve cried all over the world, and especially in restaurants. Babies cry; it’s one of their best things.”

She said, “Five kids? FIVE? How do you do it? I only have one, and it’s taking all I’ve got.”

So I poured it all out, floodgates style. I was incapable anymore of holding myself at bay.

I told her it doesn’t matter how many kids we have; any number of kids is a lot of kids.

I told her that parenting my first kid undid me.

I told her she’s dying to herself right now and she’s also being reborn and that birthing a new self is as messy and beautiful, as terrible and triumphant, as birthing a baby. “You’re giving birth to new life,” I said, “but you don’t know it yet because you’re still trying to gasp for that first breath. It’s coming, though, the oxygen you need. It’s coming.” 

I told her we’re weak and we’re strong in equal measure, and that’s how it should be, because there’s no other way to build strength except to begin from a weaker place. 

I told her we’re lost, sometimes, even while we’re being found, and that there’s grace in that place.

And I told her this life is more Both/And than I ever suspected. Both better and worse. Both bigger and smaller. Both higher and lower. So much wilder and far, far freer.

She kept saying, over and over, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear this. No idea.” But I think I do, because I am her. We all are.

I’ve thought a lot about that mama ever since, and the difference between when we met in civilization and when we met in the wild. 

We couldn’t meet in the formal dining room, I think. Not in any sense that’s real, anyway. There’s no room for the truth or our whole selves while we still have perfect manners. We don’t want to butt in. To intrude. To disrupt. To assume. But out there in the wild with the mama bear and her cubs? Out there in the beauty and the splendor and the rawness of the wilderness? It’s the place to take chances. To risk. To be bold. To be wholly ourselves. Because our survival can depend on it. And on each other.

So here’s what I’d say to us… let’s go to the wild with each other, friends. 

Which brings me to this:
How ARE you?


photo 1 (70)And, P.S…. because I’ll always show you mine when I ask you to show me yours, I’ll tell you: I’m OK today. I’m away from home, at camp, getting ready to teach a series of classes to 200 high schoolers on questing for truth, forging faith, and living Love out loud, and I gotta say, I’m equal parts excited and anxious. Excited because I get to be a mouthpiece of Love and Grace this week, and there is no task in this world that makes me happier than telling people they are deeply worthy of unfathomable Love. And I’m anxious because I’m afraid I won’t do Love justice. 

Best iPhone Photo Apps (I’ll Show You Mine, You Show Me Yours)

July 7, 2014 in Family by Beth Woolsey

Psst… I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Painted in Waterlogue

Come on. You know you want to. I’ll even go first.

Here are my favorite iPhone photo apps for summer. I’m using them a TON on our vacation. And I’d love to know what your favorites are, too.

1. AVIARY. It’s FREE, and it makes adjusting light and color a snap so the pictures look sharper and more like real life. Although it has a lot of bells and whistles, I primarily use their cropping tool and the adjust tool, which lets me tinker with brightness, contrast, warmth and saturation. Here are some examples of my pictures before and after using Aviary:








2. PICSTITCH. It’s also FREE, and it lets me easily combine photos to create a collage. I know there are fancier collage-making apps out there, but this is basic and the editing software is powered by Aviary, so it’s easy to navigate… no need to learn multiple ways to edit pics, which is a bonus for me. Note: you can also leave one of the collage picture spaces blank so it’s easy to add text (with another free app like Over) later.


3. My newest, SUPER FUN toy, WATERLOGUE, which turns your pictures into watercolors. Now I don’t know what it is about apps, but I just hate paying for them. Hate it. I agonized over the $3 this one cost, but it’s been more than worth it. (Psst… Waterlogue isn’t sponsoring/paying for this post. This is just a really neat find.) Note: Waterlogue works better with scenery and shapes than with faces or portraits. Here are some of mine, before and after Waterlogue:



AFTER WATERLOGUE:Painted in Waterlogue


the view from our ship, departing Seattle:




OK! Now it’s your turn!
What are your favorites apps for family pics?
For platforms other than iPhone, too. We’re a mixed-platform household.