Lent: Day 1… and Some Totally Unrelated Evle Twens Stories

There are certain things we do when raising children. Certain things that are, perhaps, counter-cultural so that our young men and young women, our kids in regular classes and with special needs, our kids of all make-ups and all colors can grow up as fully, wonderfully themselves. Strong and sensitive. Logical and creative. Responsible and wild. Just and merciful. Wise and loving. Leaders who serve others. And, depending on the child, we have to teach more or less of each lesson, don’t we? Balance their innate wisdom with their experiences and work together, in concert with them, to create deeper understanding of who they are. Of who they can be. Ultimately, we desire all our children to know that they don’t have to cherish some bits of themselves – the parts that our culture tells us are “acceptable” – and reject others. 

And just like our kids of different genders and different ethnicities and differently functioning brains have their own unique needs, so do our kids who are multiples. Ah, an added layer of complexity for twins!

We’ve told our twins that they needn’t be alike in their goals and dreams. In their dress. In their preferences. In their favorite colors. In the ways they express themselves. And we’ve tried diligently to shy away from the twin stereotypes.

To be counter-cultural.

To tell them, always, that we love them for who they each are and for the amazing potential of who they each will be.

But people like to have their boxes and they like to put other people in them.

So I wasn’t surprised – but I wasn’t thrilled – when my 1st graders came home from school one day last fall, mid-argument, and wanted me to referee by telling them which was the evil one.

Neither, I assured them. Neither was the evil twin, no matter what the kid on the playground said about one being good and one being evil. BOTH GOOD, I said. You both get to be the good one, and you don’t have to choose or ever — EVER, I said — to live into someone else’s expectations for you. Follow your hearts, instead, I said. You know who you are, I said. Even now. Even as 7-year-olds. You KNOW who you are.

And my wise young men stopped arguing. Instantly. They looked at each other and nodded, and they came to an agreement silently, the way twins sometimes do.

As I smiled and turned away, I heard them stage whisper simultaneously, “Both evil! We can BOTH be evil!”

And then, I kid you not, they cackled.

Please join me in rolling your eyes with me and saying a few Hail, Marys on our behalf. Also, you may pray that we will reconsider this whole “embrace all of who you are” parenting strategy. Probably your prayers won’t work, but we’ll all feel better that you said them.

photo (85)Today is the first day of Lent, and so I cleaned out under my desk as part of our brand new 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects plan.

In addition to unearthing Abraham Lincoln log cabin art projects from February (of 2013), 12 M&M’s, and 26 pens, I uncovered 5 Evil Twin stories written by my son after he decided he could share the evil title with his brother.

And so, in celebration of a clutter-free place to put my feet, I present to you The Evil Twins, in their original language and, in orange, translated into English for those of you who don’t speak Small Child Learning How to Write.

The Evle Twens
written and illustrated by Cai Woolsey

BOOK 1: Evle twens go to an ilend that is dsrdid
BOOK 1: Evil Twins Go to an Island That Is Deserted

The evle twens wr going to an ilend but that was wat eve buddey else thot. They wr reley going to git a lost treshr that was lost for evr. There was sumreams wr surowding it. They dshoway the sumreams and got the tresur.

The evil twins were going to an island but that was what everybody else thought. They were really going to get a lost treasure that was lost forever! There was submarines were surrounding it. They destroyed the submarines and got the treasure.

photo 4 (33)


photo 2 (76)


BOOK 2: Evl twens ned a evle lar
BOOK 2: Evil Twins Need an Evil Lair

The evle twens ned an evle lar. They fad an old liat house. They mad theselvs a home.

The evil twins need an evil lair. They found an old lighthouse. They made themselves a home.




BOOK 3: The evle twens ned wepens
BOOK 3: The Evil Twins Need Weapons

The evle twens ned wepens. At nihte, the evle twens robd a gun stor. No buty came. They wr all stel sleping. The evle twens got awae.

The evil twins need weapons. At night, the evil twins robbed a gun store. Nobody came. They were all still sleeping. The evil twins got away.


BOOK 4: The evll twens made an invenchen
BOOK 4: The Evil Twins Made an Invention

The evle twens made an invenchen. They made a mostr. It was nise. They ran wae aand the monstr followed them.

The evil twins made an invention. They made a monster. It was nice. They ran away and the monster followed them.

photo 1 (70)


BOOK 5: The evle twens pet fawnd a meedeer
BOOK 5: The Evil Twins’ Pet Found a Meteor

The evle twens pet fownd a meedeer. The pet it came home. The pet got the twens and the twens fall ode the pet. The evle twens pet did.

The evil twins’ pet found a meteor. The pet came home. The pet got the twins and the twins followed the pet. The evil twins’ pet died.

photo 3 (53)

The End


photo (85)

Today’s 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Project is a desk or a table. On top. Underneath. Whatever you think it needs most. Set your timer for 15 minutes and quit when the timer beeps. Or don’t. No one’s watching; do whatever will make you feel like you can do this again tomorrow. After all, there’s no sense getting overwhelmed the first day.

That said, cleaning under my desk was TERRIBLE. I know; this isn’t how the story’s supposed to go. I’m supposed to write that it was fine and once I got into it, it practically cleaned itself. But there was a reason I was avoiding it, and that reason was cute cards from kids and adorable stories and piles and piles of dust and something unidentifiable and sticky. So I had to make DECISIONS about what to do with it all, and I had to throw away some of the adorableness because if I keep it all, I’ll be a hoarder and child protective services will remove my children from their dangerous home. And pffft.

However, it was worth it. Terrible, but worth it. 

Here’s the Before:photo 2 (75)

And here’s the After:

photo 5 (18)

If you did a 15 Minute Project today, remember send your Before and After pictures to me at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.com along with your website link; I’ll pick one to feature with each 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects post. 


P.S. If you’re looking for a great site for nontoxic cleaning tips (other than my nontoxic tip, Don’t Clean, which does end up being sort of toxic in the long run) and other gorgeous household ideas, I highly recommend Beth Ricci at Red and Honey. Beth is warm, personable and all-around lovely. I mean, I’ve never met her, but I’m willing to bet I’m right.

P.P.S. Neither Beth Ricci nor Red and Honey are affiliated with this site. I received no compensation, blah blah blah, for blah blah blah. Disclaimer, disclaimer, etc. Beth doesn’t know I’m writing this, so I can totally tell you to buy her Breakfast Revolution book without repercussions or the Affiliates Police coming after me. (Seriously. What even happens with this kind of stuff? I have NO IDEA.) Better yet, buy Beth Breakfast Revolution book and then use it to make me breakfast. Yum!


If you did a 15 Minute Project today, let me know in the comments below so I can tell you Good Job! Encouragement’s the only path through this mess; I’m just sure of it.


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42 responses to “Lent: Day 1… and Some Totally Unrelated Evle Twens Stories”

  1. Thank you for this.
    I love your blog, and I meant to get around to the writing contest but didn’t, so am doing the Lent decluttering instead.
    I had a go at 15-minute desk cleaning yesterday. I got a tiny bit done, but the baby woke up 5 minutes into it, so I didn’t bother taking an after photo because it looked too similar to the before photo. But I discovered in the process that a lot of the clutter on the desk is DVDs and CDs that cannot be put away because the cabinet is already overflowing. So I ordered a tall, narrow DVD cabinet for only £25 to go in the space that’s been made next to the desk by moving some of the other clutter.
    Maybe that’s counterproductive because the aim is to purge the Stuff and I just bought another piece of Stuff. But it’s Stuff to help tidy and declutter the other Stuff so I think it’s OK.
    Also, having started decluttering the desk yesterday I’m finding myself able to do another 5 minutes of it today.

    • Ha! Love this, Rachael. Yes, I agree that Stuff to declutter the Other Stuff, especially Other Stuff you’d really like to KEEP, is all within the Spirit of the Stuff Purge. Nicely done.

  2. Definitely proud of how I read the Evle Twens books without the grown-up translations! Yup, I read fluent (most of the time) kid! It might have something to do with being an elementary and special ed teacher, baby-sitter, summer camp counselor, etc. But I’ll take it!

    I didn’t do any purging today, though I’ve done a lot of it over the last few months, and recently been figuring out how to display all those treasures that I love so much! I tried to do ALL the scrapbooking with all of my pictures from camp but then realized recently that sheet protectors of various sizes and binders work great! Finished it all in an hour or so and it took me 5-10 years to do 5 pages of scrapbooking approximately 10 pictures. And the nice thing about the sheet protectors is that I can take out those cards and read them or lay them flat to see both sides unlike on a scrapbook page! And I didn’t destroy my 5 pages but just slipped them into a sheet protector! Done!

  3. Always a day late and a dollar short over here, but my desk… good lord it is the WORST place in my house. So yeah, one entire SCC CD later and it’s looking… better.

    But I just thought you should know:

    a) I found some leftover Christmas cards from… Christmas of 2012. Yeah. And also some birthday cards from that same year (my birthday is right before Christmas) as well as some from this year – and this year’s leftover Christmas cards too. But how do you throw out stuff like that??? It’s definitely the sorting that’s worse than the cleaning.

    b) my twins are learning the evil ways early. See my picture on FB this evening of their climbing potential… and they’re not 2 until next week! Oh, and one of them totally has the evil cackle down already.

  4. 15 minutes accomplished!! I worked on the office…not done, but started. Thanks for the motivation and the encouragement to “just do a little”!

  5. Wow, Beth, you really have amazing ideas. And I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your idea, while I’m getting rid of STUFF, and running with it, too. I’m going to go clean off my desk now.

  6. Does it count that we unclogged the kids’ toilet using only a plunger, dish soap, and hot water? I also “cleaned” a container of Pepperidge Farm cookies in well under 15 minutes.

  7. Love the Evle Twens book! Congrats on the desk–funny how little accomplishments feel so good, right? Especially after putting them off for so long. I know quite a bit about that…

  8. For lent, I decided to be less lazy in mind, body, and home. So it was fortuitous when I read your blog. Today I worked for 15 minutes on one side of my garage. Definitely needs more work, but it is so much better already! Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Well done, Mary Kathryn. We just did a garage purge a few weeks ago, but it took an army of extended family and teenagers to do it. I’m impressed you tackled even part of yours alone.

  9. I cleaned my sink. I’ve lived in this house for almost 3 years, but I’m not sure I’ve cleaned the sink that whole time. Maybe my mother in law did, though. It’s fun to see how nice things get without much effort and a little borax.

  10. Um. Good job!!

    I spent 15 minutes clearing off my dresser. And wrangling kids. The dresser is better than it was. Maybe tomorrow I’ll see the pretty surface.

  11. Woman, I just want you to know I probably got myself grounded from ever hanging out on your blog or FB again. There I was, last night, all ready to log out of FB for my annual lenten-give up when I saw your blog and thought, “Gee, 15 minutes sounds totally doable.” Today I was writing away on my next book and my lent reminder popped up. So off I went, purging the master closet. “Gee, that was easy. And look! I still have 3 minutes left.”

    So this just happened:

    (all kidding aside, I am totally crushing on this lenten purge!!!!!!!) Hubs, maybe not so much 🙂

    • Ha! Yes – I’ll block you on Facebook, STAT. But not really – we DO welcome ALL people here, even the ones who can purge a master closet in 12 minutes. 🙂

      Also, Greg’s having mild panic attacks at everything I’m tossing and giving away. That’s part of the fun.

  12. So I started by moving one pile of kids stuff off the desk into a box in the basement I was saving for that purpose. Half an hour later I had gone through the craft stuff in my basement and found some things to throw away. So my desk is still messy, but my craft stuff got done! Sorry, no pictures.

  13. First I would like to say that your desk looks amazing. 15 minutes. Impressive. I imagine you will feel instantly less stressed when you sit down to work.

    Second, I would like to say how grateful I am that my child who writes stories is a girl. I embrace the stereotype and appreciate the lack of evil lairs and weapons. Of course, when my son is able to write stories… I’m sure I will have my fill.

  14. I never leave comments anywhere, anytime, for any reason, even when I really want to, because it’s just too much of a commitment. Does that make sense to you; I think it may. Anyhow, to get to the point of it all: I have identical “twens.” They are young still, only 22 months, but I am trying to instill in them a sense of individuality. Ah, the complexity of a twin relationship, I shudder to think about whether or not I will be able to handle it well. Hmm, getting closer to my point. I had tears streaming down my face when you told the story of the evil twin argument and then I absolutely laughed out loud, which I rarely do, through the tears when the boys said that they were both evil. Oh, my. I have been stalking your posts for a few months now and I wanted you to know that so much of what you have written in your honest and eloquent, and sometimes sarcastic way has really helped me have moments of “ok-ness.” Shit, life is hard much of the time. I want to be your neighbor. We are hoping to move from overwhelmingly expensive central coast CA to Portland this year. Let’s have some coffee sometime and hide away from the kids. Thanks again, Beth, for your ability to express in words all your awesomeness.

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