beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger


Today’s vocabulary word is paraphernalia.

Paraphernalia – (noun, plural) personal belongings

Used in a sentence:  Five kids have a freaking lot of paraphernalia.

I swear on the Environmentalists’ Holy Handbook that I do my ever-loving best to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but every school day we still have to handle:

  • 3 backpacks
  • 2 homework folders
  • 3 lunches
  • 4 snacks
  • 2 preschool buckets
  • 1 dance bag with 5 different pairs of dance shoes, bobby pins, hair nets, leotards, tights, shorts, and  hip hop gear
  • 1 preschool sharing bag complete with sharing item and written clues
  • 1 martial arts uniform
  • 1 tumbling leotard and shorts
  • 5 coats
  • 5 pairs of shoes

I love it when that stuff leaves my house.

I’m not such a big fan of managing it while it’s here.  It’s particularly tricky to designate places to keep it all so we can find it when we need it.

In related news, my husband is a genius.

In case you’re curious, I am not a genius.

To clarify, I mean genius as in, on the IQ test, certifiably, Mensa-qualified genius.

Technically, I may have made that last bit up, as I’m not entirely certain Greg’s been tested.  But by way of anecdotal evidence, I offer the following:

  1. For fun, Greg built his own digital video recorder.  I’m pretty sure he used a stick of gum, a pair of pliers and a Mac Classic from 1993.
  2. Sometimes, to get Greg to understand the world around him, I have to draw computer-based corollaries between his world and mine.  Usually, these corollaries involve me throwing around archaic computer terms and Greg kindly not laughing at me… things like “If you give your wife lots of flowers as input, guess what your wife’s going to do for output?”  I get lots of flowers, so I’m standing by this whole corollary idea.
  3. Every time Greg correctly predicts something relational on TV (Is she flirting with him?  She’s flirting with him, right?) he exclaims, “YES!  I got it!”

As if those three things aren’t enough to prove geniousity (go with me on that one – it’s a cool new word), Greg also put his genius power to practical use in Paraphernalia Management.

That’s our entry way.  And, yep, those are school lockers.

Each member of our family has one, and all our paraphernalia is stuffed inside as soon as we walk through the door.

Gene E. Uss

Now, since I promised you honesty and I tend to sometimes unfairly blame the chaos on the children alone, I’ll tell you that I can fit a lot of paraphernalia in my locker.

In fact, we cleaned out the lockers recently.  And, by “we,” I mean I hired a couple of high school girls to help.  Thank God for kids who need money for camp.  My household would grind to a halt without them.

Here’s one of the girls, holding only the stuff from my locker.

I kid you not.

I can cram all that stuff in one locker, and I can spell paraphernalia.

You know what?  I might be a genius, after all.

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25 responses to “Paraphernalia”

  1. ps: right now it’s actually ‘That 70’s show’ and ‘Rules of Engagement’ that we use to perfect our English! (and I’m still hooked on Oprah, if only my hubby would let me visit Chicago this summer… Though his cousin moving there might help, a bit… keep you fingers crossed! Couldn’t we meet halfway? Let’s say Nebraska-ish?) Besides that we also like to watch Friends with the English subtitles on, pretty educational don’t you think? 😉

  2. Thanks Beth! Mark said to me the other day that he got the feeling that Dutch is becoming to be my second language as I’m constantly speaking ‘Beth’ to him (seriously, that’s what it’s called at our house by now), hahaha!
    ps: MacGyver does rule! As do they guys from the A-team who go into a barn with two pieces of scrap metal, a hammer and two cardboards boxes and exit with a tank! 🙂 And did I mention (just to stay in the 80’s for a moment) that we actually saw KITT last Sunday? No? Well, we did!!! (he didn’t talk though, just flashed his little red lights at us, but we were still real excited, ha!)

    • Yay! I have my own language! I’m quite certain that must be the first step to ruling my own country. After that, I’ll take over the world.

      MacGyver, A-Team, and Knight Rider… best shows of the 80’s. No wonder your English is so good… these shows are excellent training. 😉 Greg’s not going to believe you saw KITT. He might die of jealousy.


      • Of course when you start your own country, you have to form some sort of a government, right? Or is it going to be a country Cuba-style? Either way, it’s all okay be me (really, it’s ALL okay by me, just in case you’re going to go all power-crazy-Fidel on us I’d like to be on your good side 🙂 ) but I was wondering: can I be in charge of parties? Like ‘Head of the Ministry of Partying’? I’d like that. I’ll just let you sleep on that one, okay? 😉
        Oh, and I hope Greg didn’t actually die of jealousy, especially given the single parent circumstances and all. I’d like to send you a picture of KITT, but it can wait. Don’t want to upset ‘Pa’ too much, given that he has to survive not only 5 kids but a blizard as well… 😉

  3. ps: forgot to tell you how impressed I am by your ‘cramming stuff in a locker skills’, IM-PRES-SIVE!
    pps: thanks for teaching me how to spell ‘paraphernalia’! I thought it was ‘paraphernelia’… Seriously, I don’t know how I ever got that teaching degree. Did that diploma come in a cereal box after all? Can’t remember… 😉

    • Okay, I see now that my comment says ‘Mark’, whom I’m not, pretty sure I’m not… See how I’m starting to doubt my very existence now that I’ve found out that I’ve been misspelling paraphernalia for all those years? It’s rough I tell ya…

      x Carina!

        • Oh, you’re cracking me up. You should always post tired. So funny!

          I say, when English is your second language and you can reference MacGyver, you’re allowed to spell paraphernalia any which way you want!


  4. hold the phone. WHERE did you get those awesome lockers? I.Must.Know.

    It’s so nice of you to call it all paraphernalia – around here and under my breath, I call it crap.

    Good job to Greg!

    • Hehehe. Kristen, I had to read back through that post, amazed that I didn’t use the word crap… ’cause that’s what I call it in reality, too. Tell it like it is.


  5. I found the lockers at a scrap metal warehouse, recycled from remodeling a local school.

    It’s true, I’m a MythTV open-source DVR user. My first and coolest project turned a used Mac Plus into a 1Ghz Linux server that kind of reminded me of R2D2. here’s the inside and the outside.

    • Wow, Greg, I just checked out the MythTV link and I didn’t understand ANY of that… I think I’m just gonna sit quietly in a corner and cry a bit 🙁 Or not, maybe I’ll be able to convince myself that the world really really really needs digitally&technologically challenged people like me! Wish me luck 😉

      • I usually rock in the corner and bang my head on the wall, but you can cry if you must. 😉

        Greg’s smarter than the known universe. Don’t be sad.


    • You, too, can have lockers! Surplus supply stores. Amazing stuff. Plus, a surprisingly great conversation piece when people come over.


  6. ps: those girls could make some good camp money over here as well! (let’s see if airfare’s on sale this week… 🙂 )

    • Ha! Don’t let the girls see this “invitation!” They’ll be on your doorstep lickity-split.


      • I say ‘yay’! We can easily make some room for them to stay (the more the merrier, right?), so come on over girls, you’ll love Elst! 🙂

  7. love it! love it! love it! where can we get those lockers? don’t tell me Greg built them himself too… (using a pair of pliers, two paperclips and an old minivan – gotta love those MacGyver-men 😉 )

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