Camp NaNoWriMo

Some of you may have noticed a new badge in my sidebar.  The Camp NaNoWriMo participant badge.

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant Badge 2012That’s right.  I’m doing it again.  50,000 words of a novel in a month.  I figure if I managed it last November when I was working, I can certainly do it now that I’m not.  It might even be easier.  And better.  Surely it could be better because the last one sucked.

No, seriously.  It wasn’t good.  I read over it now and laugh and laugh.  It’s a great pick-me-up after a rotten day.

So I’m going to try again, using a character from the old one and anything I can salvage from it (that won’t count toward the 50,000 words because that would be cheating and I’m not a cheater.)

Or maybe I’ll write something new.  Who knows?  I’ve got time.  23 hours to figure out what in the world I’m going to write about.  No biggie.

The only reason I’m doing this is because somebody asked me to.  I didn’t even know about Camp NaNoWriMo until she opened her big mouth.  Then I opened mine and said I’d do it.  Now, we’re both committed.  Thanks, JM.  (JM writes the wildly entertaining blog, Accidental Stepmom.  She’s stepmom to 5 fabulous children, one who has a serious addiction to bacon.  Then again, who doesn’t?  You should check out her blog.  You can thank me later for introducing you.)

Just to pass on the “holy crap, what have we done?” vibe, I sort of talked my friend into participating, too.  That’s not accurate.  I let her talk herself into joining in and neglected to tell her what she was in for.  Misery loves company, and all of that.

I’m an excellent friend.

Coincidentally, she also has a blog (*gasp*  *say what?*) and she just wrote a fabulous post about what it means to be a military family.  It’s not easy (duh) but it’s even tougher when you have 4 kids, all with special needs.  She’s sort of my hero.  Yeah, she’s got her issues (don’t we all) but she does a much better job of hiding them than most people.  Go.  Read her post.  You’ll see.

Change @ Mom’s Mixed Nuts  (Isn’t that a great blog name?)

After you read these wonderful women writers, you’ll understand my panic about doing Camp NaNoWriMo with them.  They set the bar awfully high and I’m a terrible jumper.


Scheduling Summer

It’s the second week of Summer Break.  We spent the first week staying up and sleeping late, cleaning house, watching television, and just knowing it was really and truly summer and we didn’t have to go back to work and school for a long time.

Miraculously, the kids haven’t been fighting too much.  It’s tough for five kids in a relatively small house with one TV and a small yard not to fight and they’ve done so well.  But I know it won’t last.  Sooner or later (I suspect sooner) they’re going to get on each other’s nerves and then they’ll get on my nerves.  There will be screaming, picking, hitting, and tattling.  Oh, the dreaded tattling.  There’s nothing like hearing, “Mo-om” in that tattling voice.  It sets my teeth on edge.

To ward this off, I’m making a schedule.  A summer activity schedule.   And if it works out, I might even get some alone time.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

1.  Bowling.  I signed the kids up for free bowling.  You read that right.  FREE bowling.  There are time restrictions, but not very many.  For $25, you can add up to four adults on the pass.  Me, my 5 kids, my husband, and my husband’s parents get to bowl all summer for $25.  You still have to rent the shoes or do like I did, and buy cheap bowling shoes.  If we go 7 times, the bowling shoes are paid for and we don’t have to wear those scary rentals.  But don’t worry, cheap bowling shoes are every bit as ugly as the rentals, so you still have the genuine bowling experience.

Oh, did I mention that when you sign up, you also get a gift certificate from  A gift certificate for $25?  Yeah, that’s right.  That makes the bowling absolutely FREE!

The website to sign up is

2.  The YMCA.  We’ve been members of the Y for years.  We haven’t actually been to the Y in a while.  Where we lived before, it was too far.  There was a local Y, but it didn’t have a pool or the super awesome sprayground.  Now, we’re less than 15 minutes from the Y.  I plan to take the kids to the pool/sprayground at least twice a week.  The only downside to this is that I have to get a bathing suit.  Is there anything more stressful/horrifying on the planet than shopping for a bathing suit?  No, there is not.

old-fashioned bathing suit

Think I can find one like this?

Another great thing about the Y is the childcare.  I can drop my kids off for up to 2 hours while I work out.  I can attempt a spin class.  I can start taking Pilates or yoga again.  I can spend some time on the elliptical.  I can sit in the locker room and read a book.  Kidding.  (Sort of.)  2 whole hours by myself.  I get giddy just thinking about it.

3.  The Jacksonville Zoo.  We’ve been planning this trip for a while but something always comes up. (See my tips for dealing with vacation letdown here.)    We will do it this summer.  I love zoos and it’s fun to get out of town, even if it’s only a 2 hour trip.

sand pail on the beach4.  The Beach.   When I was younger I wanted to live close to the beach.  I pictured spending my summer lying on the beach, soaking up the sun.  Well, I’ve lived 30 minutes from a beach for 10 years and have actually set foot on the beach about 10 times.  That’s just crazy.

I had my reasons.  A lot of those years, I had infants.  A beach outing is a pain in the butt when you have to tote pack and plays, diaper bags, baby food, formula, umbrellas (for shade) and all the other crap that infants require. By the time you lug all that down to the sand, you’re exhausted.  And then you have to drag it back to the car.  Not fun.

Now, my youngest is almost 3.  She doesn’t need anything but a bucket and a shovel and a buttload of sunscreen.  She’ll adore the beach and I’ll love watching her adore it.

Basically, the idea is to keep my kids busy.  The more they have to do, the less likely they’re to pick on each other.  Also, the more we’re out of the house, the more likely it is to stay clean.  It’s a win/win.

What about you?  What are your plans for the summer?  How do you keep your kids from whining, “I’m booooooooored.”?

Tropical Storm Beryl and Other Things That Blow

Tropical Storm Beryl is just off the coast.  She’s been teasing us with gusty warm winds and spurts of heavy rain.  Other than that, it’s been clear blue skies.  I must say, as far as tropical storms go, she’s not that impressive.  Then, we’re not supposed to feel the full force of the unfortunately named storm until late tonight and tomorrow, so I might regret those words later.  In honor of Ms. Beryl, I’ve put together a list of other things that blow.

1.  The name Beryl.  Beryl is Greek for “blue-green.”  Blue-green is a beautiful color, but its name sounds like something you’d hear in the backwoods of Georgia or in the hills of Kentucky.  Or maybe in a quaint small town in Vermont.

Larry, Daryll, and Daryll from Newhart

“Hi. I’m Larry. This is my brother Beryl and my other brother Beryl.” (Yes, I know Beryl is a girl’s name, but this is what I thought of and, admit it, it’s funny.)

The word, “Beryllium” derives from Beryl and is much prettier.  And useful.  If you recall, a Beryllium Sphere was what powered the ship called the NSEA Protector in the movie Galaxy Quest.  Without a working ship, the crew might never have conquered the evil galactic war lord, Sirris, thereby saving the Thermians and returning to Earth.

Beryllium Sphere and the cast of Galaxy Quest

If you haven’t seen this movie, well, that’s just unacceptable. It’s hilarious.

2. Air conditioners that don’t work.  (For this fascinating story, look here.)  Yes, it’s blowing.  No, it’s not cooling.  Still.

Food prices sky high.3.  Summer grocery bills.  When school is in the kids eat a bowl of cereal at home and then dinner at night.  I only have to worry about lunch on the weekends.  When school is out I have to worry about three meals a day, plus snacks.  Lots of snacks. I don’t know what it is about being home that makes kids want to eat all day, but it does and they do.  I went to the grocery store today and had to buy 3 loaves of bread, 3 packages of lunch meat, 2 containers of Kool-Aid, 4 gallons of milk, and 4 boxes of cereal.  By the time my cashier had rung up all that plus what I’m going to need for dinner, I was whimpering.   Next week, I’ll be whimpering again.  5 kids are murder on the grocery budget.

4.  Summer Birthday Parties.  Two of my kids have birthdays in the summer and it blows planning a party that nobody will attend.  One is July 6, which is a terrible day and the other is  in June, right when a lot of families take their family vacation.  The party is a week away and I’ve had no RSVPs.  Now, maybe this is because people are notoriously bad about RSVPing (myself included) but I know of at least one girl who will be on a cruise.  We rented a cabin with a pool for a sleepover–my attempt to make the party cool enough not to be missed after my daughter lamented the fact that nobody ever comes to her parties.  I’m hoping and praying it’s not a flop.  I can’t take the hurt on my little girl’s face.

sad girl

 5.  Bathing Suits.  A picture is worth a thousand words and there are some incredible pictures out there on the interwebs, but I’ll spare you that.

You’re welcome.

Related Posts:

Summer Road Trip–Alone With Five Kids
And So It Begins:  The Dreaded Summer Vacation


It’s 90 degrees in my house.  The A/C is kaput.  The good news is there are men here putting in a whole new unit.  The bad news is, I can’t even run the fan while they’re doing that.   So it’s just sit and wait.  And it feels hotter in here than it has for the last few days, even though the A/C hasn’t worked for a while.  I think it’s kind of like the thing when you have to go to the bathroom, but you’re in your car, 15 minutes away from home  and the closer you get to the house, the more you have to pee.  It’s excruciating and gets worse and worse, as you unstrap your toddler from her car seat, fumble to put the keys in the lock, and run to the bathroom just as your 8 yo little girl–the slooooowest pee-er in the entire universe–shuts the door with a “I’ll just be a minute.”  As you do the potty dance outside the door, seconds away from sweet, sweet relief,  you feel like your bladder is going to explode. The bathroom is right there and knowing that fact makes you have to go all the more.

cat on a toilet

If it’s not the kids, it’s the cat.

Wait.  Where was I going with that?  Oh yeah.  Sitting in a 90 degree house while men are outside for 5 hours, putting in the one thing that will cool you off, is exactly like having to pee.  The longer it takes and the closer you are, the worse it feels.  I’m hyper aware of how stinkin’ hot it is.

I’m going to use heat exhaustion as an excuse for the bathroom analogy.  It’s the best thing I could come up with, in my weakened and sweaty state.

Is there anything worse than sweating in your house while you’re sitting still?  I don’t like to sweat ever.  That’s why I don’t exercise.  Well, that and the fact that I’m extremely lazy.  My aversion to sweat is unfortunate, as I live in Coastal Georgia–a virtual sauna with biting fire ants, sand gnats, and a thriving mosquito community thrown in for good measure.   And hurricanes.  Seriously, what am I doing here?  Why aren’t I in Satsop, Washington, where it’s a lovely 53 degrees?  Or Sublimity, Oregon , both for the coolness of its weather and its name?

Sublimity, Oregon


The kids are getting restless and with every degree get a little more annoying.  They’re all covered in sweat, looking like they just got out of the shower, because they haven’t learned that when you’re hot, it’s best to just sit still.  No, they’re bouncing off the walls and getting meaner by the second.  If I could move, I’d do something about it.  As I can’t, I’ll just sit here and scream at them to stop and they’ll go on being awful, as they learned at a very early age to tune out mom-shrieking.

I will say that being hot makes my kids cuter.  They get that rosy glow to their cheeks and a sparkle in their eye.  You know the one.  The on-the-edge-of-lunacy sparkle?  Oh, and the 2yo, whose blonde, crazy hair gets curlier and curlier the more she sweats?  Is gorgeous.  Good thing, too, because she’s the meanest of them all.  She literally clawed her brother’s eye a few minutes ago while doing her baby pterodactyl shriek.  She takes after me.   Well, except for the gorgeous part.

baby pterodactyl

Who knew there were pictures of ACTUAL baby pterodactyls? *smirk*

Oh, good news!  The AC guy is finished!  The system is up and running.  In a little while, maybe the kids will return to their normal, only slightly annoying selves.  It’s not like I’ll notice.  I’ll have my face plastered against the only accessible air vent,  greedily hogging the cold air.

It’s good to be the parent.


The Best Things About Summer Break, According To A Lunch Lady

Oh my.  It’s finally here.  Summer break.  11 glorious weeks of staying home with my 5 loud and obnoxious children, refereeing their fights, cooking their food, cleaning up their messes, trying desperately to find ways to entertain them, knowing deep down in my heart that if they ever organized an uprising against me, I’d be toast, and trying to hide my fear behind a scowl and a mom-shriek that would give the mythical banshee a run for her money.

Irish Banshee

I wish I could say this is way off, but that’s pretty much exactly what I look like on a Monday morning. Except fatter.

I’m starting to rethink the idea that summer break is a good thing.

I’m kidding.  Of course it’s a good thing.  For a lot of reasons.

1.  I don’t have to wear a hair net.

2.  I can wear earrings, a necklace, my wedding ring.  Jewelry isn’t something I feel I have to have, but when somebody tells me I can’t, I want to.  Because I’m basically 12.  Or is it because I’m a woman?  You can tell me in the comments which you think it is.

3.  I don’t have to put my hair in a bun.  Or a ponytail.  I will, of course, because I live in Georgia and my hair is down to the middle of my back and I really don’t want to spend the summer with hair sticking to my neck and face and passing out from the heat.  But wearing my hair down is still an option if I want to garner some sympathy and maybe a day in the bed, resting, after I faint dead away in the middle of my kitchen while screaming at my husband and kids the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?”  Coincidentally, the ONLY question that they don’t know the answer to.

4.  No scrubs.  Scrubs are comfortable.  Unless they’re at least 2 sizes too big and make you feel like a big shapeless blob.  Also, if they come in colors like carnation pink (Pepto Bismol) and yellow (Big Bird.)  So embarrassing.

Hmmm.  I see a trend here.  Everything is related to appearance.  I swear, I’m not that girl.  I wear jeans all the time–even to church.  But when you look like a lunch lady every day for 9 months, the glamorous side of you (even if it’s the size of a pinhead) starts screaming to get out.  Luckily for me, my glamorous side is appeased by a pair of stud earrings and sparkly flip-flops.

sparkly flip flops

High Fashion, indeed.

5. I still have to serve kids lunch and clean up after them all day, but when one of them asks, “Can you take the crust off my sandwich?” or “Chicken nuggets again?!”  I can smack them.

6.  Not waking up at 5:30 AM, screaming at kids to get out of bed, searching desperately for matching socks or the mysterious missing one shoe (they wear two at a time and presumably take them off at the same time so how do they end up on opposite sides of the house?) and being able to sit and have that all-important first (or 5th) cup of coffee and playing stupid FB games for 2 hours, until you’ve had time to wake up properly.

7.  I don’t have to wear a hair net.

Wait.  Didn’t I already say that?

Related Posts:

Spring Break for Moms
Dial 9-1-1.  We Have A Fashion Emergency
Ten Things I Learned On Summer Vacation

read to be read at

Teachable Moments

Ever had one of those weeks you could just do over?  This past week was one of those.  A lot of unpleasantness.  For starters, I’m feeling stabby.  About everything.  Pretty much every person, everywhere, is getting on my nerves.  Some because they’re bossy.  Some because they’re holier-than-thou, stupid, or mean.   And some, I just don’t like their faces.  I’m pretty sure this has something to do with my diet.

Me, consuming no sugar, bread, or pasta=me, wanting to throat punch people.

The week started out badly.  My son, Mikey, is in band.  He had a big spring concert that he’s been looking forward to for months.  We had everything planned out.  After school, we’d go to the Dairy Queen and the library to kill time before he had to be back at school.  After the concert, we’d go out for a celebratory dinner.  We were going to be on time for once.  I even remembered to bring the camera.  Everything was great, until we arrived at school and Mikey discovered he left his clarinet in his Nana’s car.  I didn’t have time to get it and his Papa did bring it to him, but it was too late.  He got to the gym just as the 6th grade band was finishing their second song.  He tried to put his clarinet together before they started the third and final song, but he didn’t make it.  He missed the concert.

He went ballistic.  Screaming, crying, wailing, gnashing of teeth–the whole bit.  And who could blame him?  Everybody was staring.  We went back to the car.  He blamed his brother for not getting his clarinet out of the car.  He blamed me for not going to get it in time.  He blamed his dad for making him leave and miss the rest of the concert.  He cried.  I cried and felt guilty (though I wasn’t.)  I didn’t know what to do.

In hindsight, I see that this was one of those “teachable moments.”  If my husband and I were June and Ward Cleaver, we’d have sat Beaver, er, Mikey, down in out pristine living room, explained to him the importance of being responsible and how this experience would make him a better human being, blah, blah, blah.  But I’m not June Cleaver.  I don’t vacuüm in pearls.  Heck, I don’t even vacuüm.

So I took a different approach.  I took my dieting son to McDonald’s and got him a large Big Mac Extra Value Meal.  Then I bought him a video game.

June Cleaver

“Sorry you’re upset son. Have a Big Mac.”

Later in the week, I was driving home and got stuck behind a police car that was blocking off the lane for the school car line.  The officer was taking his sweet little old time securing traffic cones to a sign post.  I, as I said before, was feeling stabby and tired and impatient, so I went around the car.  No big deal, right?  Other cars behind me did the same thing.  I get stuck at a traffic light and suddenly another police car was behind me with his lights on.  I didn’t know what was going on, but I pulled over.

The officer comes to my window, asking for license and registration, which I hand over as I ask, “Can I ask what this is about?”

He says, “You sure can,” in a pleasant enough voice, and then proceeds to give me the following speech in a not so nice, drill sergeant-esque, clipped voice, “Do you mind telling me what possessed you to endanger the life of my fellow officer and your fellow drivers by passing that police cruiser on the incorrect side, thereby encouraging other drivers to do the same…blah, blah, blah.”  That’s not a direct quote, but it was close.

cartoon police officer swinging a billy club

I, in my best dumb blonde voice (I’m brunette and have a terrible “best dumb blonde voice”), “Oh, I’m sorry sir.  I didn’t realize..”

It was at this point he read my last name and recognized it.  We established that I’m related to someone he knows and, apparently, likes.  He handed me my license gave me a short and polite speech, in which he basically said I caused other people to break the law, not to do that again, and to “drive safe.”

He drove away and my son, Mikey, said, “I thought you were breaking the law when you drove around that cop.  You got caught.”

I agreed it wasn’t smart and that was teachable moment #2. “Don’t do stupid things because you feel stabby and ticked off that other drivers on the ‘correct’ side to pass a police car won’t let you get in front of them, and drive by you, laughing in your face and pointing and saying, “Ha ha.  You have to wait for that slow cop to secure traffic cones to a sign post while I drive right past you on my way to my nice and cool house where I will kick off my shoes, put my feet up, and have a cup of coffee and you’ll still be sitting there, fuming, and deciding how you’re going to get out of your car, throat punch a police officer, and drive away without anyone seeing you.”

So let’s recap.  I had several teachable moments this week and this is what I taught my children.

1.  When something disappointing happens,  you do the following:

  • Scream, cry, and throw a fit
  • Blame everyone but yourself
  • Eat your feelings
  • Go shopping

2.  When you break the law and a cop pulls you over to give you a ticket,  you can totally get out of it if:

  • you talk like a dumb blonde
  • the cop happens to know one of your relatives or friends, even if you are a rebel rouser that “endangered” the lives of police officers and regular people in your lawlessness.

It’s only May and I have 7 months of teachable lessons to come, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to win the “Mother of the Year” award for 2012.

mother of the year award

Related Posts:

Growing Pains
A Day In The Life
I Can’t Help It