10 Rules for Peeing: A Primer for Kids


1. No playing in your brother’s pee stream.

“Only play in my own pee stream? Got it, Mom.”

2. No playing in your own pee stream.  No playing in pee streams in general. Under certain circumstances, and using your own equipment, exceptions can be made for activities like peeing straight down into snow and then measuring for comparison. I mean, I’m not a monster. ...  read more

3 Road Trip Games for the Whole Family

We’re away on vacation this week.

Our family has a favorite road trip game.

Our third favorite road trip game is the Hay Game, where you see a field of hay or a truck transporting hay or a bailer bailing hay or a cow eating hay, and you yell, “HAY.” Except, of course, you have to say it as though you’re irritated with your neighbor, like “Hey!” and hope they fall for it, getting all worked up because they didn’t do anything wrong. Then you can smugly point at the hay. ...  read more

Community Question: What Do You Do When You Feel Inferior to Other Parents?

Every once in a while, I get a letter from a friend of this blog that touches a tender place in my heart. Usually a place that’s been well worn or is still a little sore or takes me back to the desolation that was there before the consolation. This is one.

Hi Beth,

I am an avid reader of your blog and really enjoy your writing.

I have a weird question. I feel a sense of community on your blog because you talk about the insanity of parenting and about crazy kids who do crazy things. ...  read more

Pictures on My Phone: an And Then Story

This in an And Then story.


Here we go.

I was looking through the pictures on my phone because my friend Jody got married this weekend, so Facebook needed updating. Obviously. After all, everyone knows you weren’t really there until you’ve Facebooked it.

photo 2 (68)

Besides, I had some specific pictures I didn’t want to lose.

Jody let me coordinate her wedding, which is an activity I highly recommend to mamas everywhere. See, when you coordinate a wedding, people listen to you and do what you say. It’s like a miracle. During pictures, for example, you get to say things like, “Come here.” And they come. And, “Stand there for 2 minutes and don’t move.” And they stand still. And, my favorite, “Look at the camera and smile.” And get this — they look at the camera and smile at the same time. I’m still totally high from this experience. ...  read more

You Are Not a Bad Mom If…

ID-10091061My kids found stale pancakes in the freezer today and yelled, “JACKPOT!” This tells you in one word how attentive I’ve been to cooking lately. I have lots and lots of excuses. Want to hear them? They go like this:

1. It’s so hot! Turning on the oven would be a HUGE mistake.

2. It’s important — critical, really — that kids learn self-sufficiency and life skills. Like how to forage for food. Good for me for giving them this opportunity. ...  read more

Turns Out, I Don’t Know the Muffin Man


We’ve been singing about the Muffin Man for years. My whole life, really.

Do you know the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man?
Do you know the Muffin Man who lives on Dreary Lane?

And I thought I knew the Muffin Man. Raggedy guy. Bakes muffins. Hates his job. But understandably, right? I mean, he’s been pushed down by life. Never went past the 3rd grade. Had to go to work at the muffin factory to help feed all those brothers and sisters. Gets paid a ha’penny and a bag of stale muffins once a week. Shuffles to and from the monotony in his threadbare coat. Never could manage to save enough to leave Dreary Lane behind. ...  read more

The Evolution of My Cape


Truth is they won’t remember (nor do they care) how many baths they took, what they ate for supper, if their clothes were folded or even clean. They will remember how we love them.”
Five Kids reader, Charlie Collier

Cartoon Credit: Steve Nease


It was after dark in October 1998 in a stranger’s house in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam when I was issued my Mama Cape. Of course, it was invisible like such capes always are, so I didn’t see it clip itself to my shoulders the same instant I took Abby from her foster mom’s arms. I only had eyes and ears for my baby. I didn’t feel the cape begin to unfurl down my back or smell the residue of its plastic packaging or hear its starchy snap as it caught the wind on our way back to the hotel that night. ...  read more