posts in category family

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Little Housecleaning...Literally

The older I get, the more I desire a clean environment.  When you are young, you have so little that you spend a lot of energy buying and collecting things. At some point, though, you reach the apex, and you start to question all the crap you have around you. You go to those amazing craft fairs and tourist traps, and you begin to question whether you really want to spend the next 20 years dusting that personalized wooden...whatever. You start to groan when your MIL, despite having her heart in the right place, gives you another Hummel figurine, because you KNOW she is going to want it displayed (although this particular problem was temporarily solved when the toddler brought the curio cabinet crashing down and so many things busted). At some point, I became the person who will stop and do dishes in the middle of a get-together, because I simply cannot relax and tolerate the mess.

However, as much as I desire a neat environment, I work full-time outside the home and have three small boys constantly pushing the tide against me. My house will not be company ready for a few more years. 

That said, a gal can only take so much chaos, am I right? Occasionally I get the kids' dad to take them somewhere for a good chunk of the day, and I am able to get a good housecleaning in. However this only happens every couple of months, and that is just not enough. So I am going to introduce you to my survival trick for Saturdays like today.

First of all, after a crazy busy weekend last week, this weekend is blessedly open. Nothing on the table, just me and my home and my time. The best. But I awoke to a disaster. By 8 a.m. there was cinnamon toast crumbs everywhere, remnants of last night's feasting (I went to bed early instead of cleaning up) all over the table, piles of laundry waiting to be folded, dirty bathrooms, dirty carpets, some sticky, sweet something all over the floor, and a host of other horrors. I would get a picture, but the kids always steal my phone.

But I am at energy level: Recovery. This means I am relaxing as much as I can, so my stores build back up.

And that is where the 10-minute clean-up comes in. The 10-minute clean-up is exactly what it sounds like. For 10 minutes out of every hour, I straighten one room. It is important to focus on one area at a time during the 10 minutes to see progress, but you don't have to finish one room to move to another. For example, I usually start in the front room and/or dining room. They clean up the quickest, so I can see progress right away.  However, 10 minutes is usually not enough time for vacuuming, so the room is never completely done. During the next 10 minutes, I might move to the kitchen. Obviously, a trashed kitchen will not be cleaned within 10 minutes, especially since my dishwasher is broken. I might do a couple 10 minute sessions here. Sometimes I see so much progress, I keep cleaning. Sometimes I don't. Later in the afternoon, the big boys will go outside, and this is when I start to fold the laundry. Usually by the end of the day, at least the downstairs is straight and pleasant, and I don't feel wiped out or like I was cleaning all day. Plus, once he sees the positive progress I have made, Karl will usually get inspired and pitch in. And there is nothing like manly muscle for getting some jobs done (like that sticky stuff in the fridge-takes him 5  minutes to clean what I would scrub for 30).

So basically that is the lazy girl's guide to cleaning when you really just want to be a slug.

I actually use this method at work, too. When I have to start some less than stimulating paperwork, I tell myself I only have to do 10 minutes worth. Generally after 10 minutes, the flow is going and I continue working. But if I don't, I pat my back and call myself successful for meeting my goal. 

Works for me!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Lesson Learned-Thanks Covid!

First of all, after an exhausting day, week, month, I just have to say-Covid 19 has been a real eye-opener. Most of the year, we go to work-I am usually gone before the family is up, because I like to get in and have everything lined out for the day, socialize a bit, and drink all the coffee.  After work I get home around the time my daughter brings my toddler/preschooler back and await the kids arrival from the bus. The big kids play out with the neighbor boys and there is screen time and inside play. I am usually very tired, and lament all the work I have to do, especially if my daughter watches my son (along with hers) at my house, because then I usually have to clean up from the day as well. 
Let's just say, being at home sounds like a dream. 

And it sort of was. Working at home was pretty good for me, because my daughter picked up all three kids for the morning while I did my work and then I picked them up around noon and we relaxed most of the afternoon. The bad part was, we could hardly get the kids to do schoolwork. It was a fight for my daughter and a fight for me on days I let them stay home. You would think even asking them to do 30 minutes of Dreambox (math) and Lexia (reading) was asking them to walk over hot coals for the duration of the time. It was miserable. 

When I got an online summer school job, it was more of the same. When I found out I would have two online jobs, I had to leave them at their sister's longer, but their schoolwork issues remained. They were becoming antintellectual. Working all day at home was MUCH harder than working three morning hours. I still had all the housework. I had all the driving. When I tried letting them stay home all the promises to not interrupt during my class meetings disappeared and suddenly they were bored and attention seeking right as I was trying to explain how to do the four operations on fractions. The worst was during my afternoon class when I was screensharing Tynker with a student and my son climbed on the easel. As I picked him up to get him down, the thin metallic whiteboard side of the easel literally ripped the top layer of skin back on his foot. There were bloodcurdling (sp??) screams and oh blood and grossness. I had to end my meeting (who knows what that poor kid thought) and tend a nasty cut (it's much better, but going to scar). 

On top of all this is lawless kids and way too much screen time. It's been bad. When sweet Gabe loses it, he loses it. Liam is always a challenge and 24/7 Liam would try a saint. Alec can be a messy little terror who delights in smearing peanut butter or toothpaste or even worse things all over everything. It's been hard. I am 46, guys. I am not the sweet patient momma of my twenties. 

So what's my point? 
I don't think I want to homeschool. All the times I thought I wanted to be at home homeschooling. Nope. At least not if I also have to work on top of it. It is too much. I don't want to homeschool unless my days were otherwise free and I have a firm grip on the time usage of electronics in my home. I can't. I just can't.

Now, if my kids were in school and I could just tend the house and just Alec alone. Fine. That's nothing. But this three kids, trying to educate, teach house, work, all of the above is just a whole heck of a lot. 

If we do have to return to online schooling, I want clear attendance hours required by the teachers. Make class meeting mandatory and take attendance. Be the bad guys so we tired mommas don't have to. 

That's all.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

"Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One"-Reading now

Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash

This is an affiliate post.

My most serious book this month (meaning I am going through it carefully, rather than skimming through for nuggets of help), is the book: You Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One, written by Raphaelle Giordano. I am listening to it on Audible, which means it is taking me awhile to get through it because I tend to forget about my audiobooks.

It is a self-help book, written in fictionalized form. Sort of a like a Sophie's World in self-help.

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Another book it reminds of is ... I can't remember. Basically it was a fictionalized book with a simple romance built in and a genie who told the woman how to lose weight in small steps.

In no way are you going to be fooled into thinking this book isn't what it is, a thinly disguised advice book. The character is a little too perfect-good career, 10 pounds overweight (clearly European because 10 pounds is just a barbecue away here, make it 30 pounds and I will believe). She only has one child, which makes her a little hard to relate to for me. I mean how can you complain about raising kids when you only have one?  Anyway, she meets this man who agrees to take her on as a client and give her advice to help her change her life. 

The book does what it is supposed to: helps you imagine the steps to making changes in your life. First you have to decide what you want to change, then you have to start taking baby steps towards those changes. I found myself initially disappointed, because the book came highly recommended from my online book group people, and it is pretty basic. However, I can recognize the genius in writing this way because it does help the lessons to stick a lot better than a dry step-by-step advice book. Fictionalizing it makes it memorable. 

And finally, I haven't finished the book yet. Maybe I am totally wrong, and there is a plot twist making it a true work of literature. But I doubt it.

Camille is sort of the Bella of the self-help world. She is basic and her feelings are pretty stereotypical meaning most women are going to be able to relate to her. We all have fights with our spouse and feel like everything falls on us. We all would rather have a snack and glass of wine than go for a walk in the evening. We all get bored with our kids and feel the pressure of getting stuff done rather than bonding with loved ones.

If I sound negative, it is only in my disappointment in thinking the book was something else. It is definitely useful in accomplishing its purpose: to teach people how to change their lives in a simple step-by-step way. I do recommend it if you are trying to shake up a dull existence and reach for something a little more. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Little Late to the Game-The Five Love Languages

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I know the picture is odd to this post, but we took it in South Dakota (with my daughter's superior camera) and it is just so peaceful.

 I know, I know. The book has been out forever. It is just so Mars and Venusy, I don't wanna be like everyone else and read the book. But I have been thinking of the miscommunications issues I have been having with my spouse and I thought, welp, I will give it a look.

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I just started thinking that maybe the way I was interacting isn't quite the what he was needing.
After taking a short quiz online, I discovered my number one love language was Acts of Service, followed by gift giving/receiving, followed by quality time. And that is true. I love it when my husband does something sweet for me. I love it when he runs a bath, or thinks up a solution to my problems (not always, sometimes, you just gotta listen to me whine), or buys me a little surprise gift. 
However, he might not feel the same. He hasn't taken the test yet, but I am predicting he will score high on words on affirmation and physical affection. Two areas I score really low on. I am curious to see what he scores, and will update this when I know for sure. 

I think however, it may explain why the things we do for each other aren't received like we think they will be. I look forward to finding out!


So my original hypothesis was right. My husband's high scores were physical affection and words of affirmation. I guess it is true what they about men wanting to feel "respected." 

I think this is interesting, because the it gives us each insight into how to make the other feel loved. I feel like he should feel loved because I usually make (granted a mediocre and cheap-I'd rather spend my money elsewhere) dinner and do his laundry. But he'd rather snuggle and be thanked for the things he does and the work he does. Meanwhile being told I am amazing or do so much for the family, while nice from time to time, too often feels like groveling to me and makes me feel weird. Give me a bath, time alone, and some sushi, champagne, and chocolate if your goal is to make me feel special.

Which is also interesting. When I imagine love, I imagine the physical aspect and the amazing words. But when it comes to every day life, I want you to do things for me and buy me things. Ha! I don't know what that means!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Traveling During Covid-19: How We Chose to Safely Roadtrip

My Idea of a Vacation

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to leave this state and go "on vacation." Now my vacations tend to be short and sweet and busy. While lying on a tropical beach with a cool drink in my hand and just napping to the sound of the waves sounds incredible, when I bring three boys with me, that isn't going to happen.
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How to Travel with Children

Note: I absolutely recommend inexpensive handheld gaming systems which run on batteries. They aren't fancy pants systems, but if your child isn't too into the world of more sophisticateds systems, they will eat away at some of that boring ride time.
This affiliate link is similar to what my boys get to play with on car trips:

South Dakota or BustImage may contain: 2 people, child, outdoor, nature and closeup

So on a whim, because time was passing quickly and I needed to keep spending to a minimum, one of my daughters and I took my boys up to South Dakota to sightsee. This was THE perfect social distancing vacation. For one thing, there aren't that many people in South Dakota! The only time we ran into crowds was at Mt. Rushmore and even there, everyone clumped in their own little groups.
Driving through the Black Hills and Custer State Park was a pretty solitary adventure, as was the Badlands.

Cleaniness in the time of Covid-19

Although using public restrooms is a necessity when traveling some thorough handwashing and hand-sanitizing had us car ready. Keep a box of disinfectant wipes in the car, and you can wipe down handles, steering wheels, and oft-touched surfaces on a regular basis and keep it safe and as germ-free as possible. Now, I didn't have the wipes and periodically poured hand sanitizer on a napkin and wiped down surfaces. It is also recommended to wipe surfaces in your hotel upon arrival.
I definitely recommended stocking up on spray hand-sanitizer to keep in your car!
This affiliate link will have you stocked for months!

Making Memories

We spent three and a half days in the car. While I wouldn't call having three young boys in the back of a sedan relaxing (or quiet-they fight!), we saw some amazing sights and in the end, that is what we will remember.

I will remember the fresh pine and the towering rocks along Needles Highway in the Black Forest. Custer National Park was worth the $20 per car entrance fee to see the wildlife and wide open spaces. My boys were SO excited to see buffalo and they chased prairie dogs across a section of the park.
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The Badlands were simply spectacular. As the quiet warm wind whipped around us, I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the early pioneers traveling by ox and wagon across that desolate landscape. What did they think and feel? Were they in awe or overwhelmed? We went to the Badlands on Memorial Day and the $30 fee was waived, I assume due to the holiday. But how amazing! We spent 3 hours in the park driving, hiking a little, climbing some simple hills. It would absolutely have been worth the money.

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One of the scariest parts of the trip was when we were two hours outside of Rapid City on our way there. A huge thunderstorm had been lighting up the sky for awhile and we drove right into. Lights flashed all around us, nickel (and up to quarter) sized hail fell around us, and we slowed down but kept driving. We saw very few people on this stretch of the highway on a Saturday night. Strangely, we didn't hear any thunder. Eventually we got through the storm and arrived late to our hotel in Hill City.
Image may contain: 2 people, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 2 people, including Taryn Hessee, people standing, sky, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, child and outdoor

The worst part of the trip was an encounter with bedbugs at the dive hotel we stayed in a barely there town in Northwest Missouri on our way home. I felt too tired to continue driving so I stopped at questionable Super 8, and unfortunately, after a couple of hours, my daughter awoke me with bites across her face and back. Thankfully, we hadn't brought much inside and just shook out what we wore and hit the road. Everything was quickly washed and dried once we got home a few hours later.

If I had to do it over again, I would add one day of planning in and get a cooler full of fresh foods. Even kids burn out on McDonald's and gas station food after awhile. Also, we learned my 3 year old gets carsick, and Benadryl does appear to help some with that. I would stock up on the medicine before we hit the hills next time.

Self-Quarantine after the Trip

Overall, though I felt it was the refreshment my soul needed before starting the online classes I am teaching this summer. Seeing new places (well, I had been there before, but it had been 15 years), and just breathing in the air of "elsewhere" was soul-lifting. While we are now 9 days of mostly isolation, and I know the boys are dying to play with the neighbors after the next six days, it was well worth it.

Just Do It!

Depending on which area of the country you live, it is likely there is somewhere beautiful within a day's drive from you. If you can swing a short mini-vacay (or even just a day trip), I highly recommended getting out and doing it, especially those of you who are still working from home like me. With a few precautions you can remain safe and still make some memories!

What about you?

Are you planning a trip this summer? How do you plan to keep safe if so, and if not, what are your plans for beating those summer blues? I would love it if you'd drop me a line and let me know what you think.


I always pack a jacket or sweater when I travel because you never know what surprises Mother Nature will throw at you. While I wore a hunter green light field jacket, this cute vest would be perfect for chilly mountainside memories in the mid-summer!

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reading together, brotherly love

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It has been an effort to keep my ten-year-old reading during this break from school. He would much rather do a hands-on experiment, watch a YouTube video of someone doing a hands-on experiment, play Minecraft, or just ride his scooter around than sit and read a book. However, as both a teacher and a mother, I know how important it is to continue reading. Not only does reading practice those important skills, it introduces the reader to new vocabulary, and far beyond academics, enlarges the reader's worldview and the whole scope of their life. If you think I am being dramatic. I am. It is! Reading can absolutely change a person and change a life. Think back to those first chapter books which have really stuck with you. If you read and reread enough, those books become a part of who you are. That is why I love sharing books in my classroom, even if I am reading or we are listening to an audiobook. Stories broaden our world. I learned history though teen romance novels and science through adult literature-and learning this way is painless!

Off my soapbox now. I want my boys to understand and share my love of reading. I also want them to have a shared experience beyond who can ride their scooter the fastest down the road. So I have made a deal. Some might call it a bribe, but I prefer to consider it a business deal. My older son is reading this famous book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone aloud to my seven-year-old, and I am providing incentive to do so.

Now, you might be a little shocked over the incentive, but hear me out. First, my 10-year-old doesn't like Harry Potter. Magic isn't real and he lives very much in the world of real, or at least theoretical. However, we are a Harry Potter family, and I strongly desire to get his Ravenclaw butt hooked. My seven-year-old likes Harry Potter, but could use more opportunities to practice sitting quietly and listening. Also, I remember listening to my brother read books such as The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe aloud to me. I could see those gigantic spiders swooping in ready to gobble up the Bilbo and his friends. I could feel the respect and awe reserved for Gandalf. I, too wanted to step through the doors of the wardrobe into a magical world where adventures awaited. I want my sons to share that experience of wading through imaginary lands on an adventure together.

We have purchased the Illustrated edition, because it is so beautiful. I just love the pictures and I believe they will draw in the young listener. There is enough text, however, they will still have to rely upon their own imaginations to help create this world in the clouds.

It's risky-pushing someone to do something which I would like to come from the heart. If things work out perfectly, then they will enjoy it so much, they will ask for the second book, and continue on an amazing childhood adventure together. If it doesn't, then my son still won't want to read for fun, and the bonding I hope happens will form somewhere else. At that point, I will continue to read aloud to them in the evenings, but it is proving difficult to always fit the time into our evening routines since the three-year-old is staying up later.  They will have to bond over BeyBlade competitions and Minecraft discussions. I am excited to see how it turns out!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Silent Saturday

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Embarrassing First Date Confession

First I want to say, being a female is fantastic. Now I am not saying misogyny and sexism don't affect my world and aren't a real thing, but overall I like being me in this time and place.

Basic arm strength aside, I don't really think women are the weaker sex at all. We are amazing in the sheer amount of work we can get done(although my husband's ability to clean a refrigerator or room quickly without tiring is really impressive, and I envy that), the number of things we can keep on our mind (and this is not my strong area), and our ability to reason well and feel deeply(not saying you men can't do this either).  Women Rock! Go Rosie!

But there is an area where I feel some of us are lacking. Maybe not every female, maybe not you. But for me and some women I know, this is a problem.

But I am jumping ahead of myself. Let's get to the date.

My  mom had introduced me to Karl. He lived in the same apartment complex and my mom was always out socializing and meeting people. He had come to a group movie (I started to suspect he liked me since it was my mom, an elderly neighbor, and me only), and my mom's Halloween party. Finally he worked up the ask me out as friends. We had a few "friend dates" where we met at a local bar complete with some heavy kissing afterward, but more than anything I was just confused. Finally after a break, he asked me out on a "REAL" date. 

I was excited, but also wary. The three week break we had just come off of had hurt me, and I wasn't quite sure of his intentions, and I have a tender heart hidden behind a layer of false bravado, keep 'em guessing BS (which probably fools noone-but helps me feel safe). We went out for Mexican food, and then back to his bar again. I am not a bar person, and definitely wasn't then, but it was a small supposed-to-be lesbian bar, which seemed to attract its share of single men, hiding out from life I guess. Anyway, I got this amazing, big tropical drink. It had five shots, but I usually stuck with wine or champagne when I had alcohol, so it didn't really register with me that that might be more than enough. I think I even ordered a second. Everything was fine. I was relaxed and having fun, and then we got up to leave. 

And suddenly, the world swayed around me.  Sounds seem to blur as wave of nausea came over me and I clung to Karl for support. We went outside and decided to walk back to Karl's place. Both his apartment and my home were within walking distance, and taking the car didn't seem like a good idea since we were drinking. Outside the winter air seemed like it might clear my head and then...

I threw up. Right in the parking lot by the back door of the bar. That in itself is embarrassing, am I right? But you see, I was a female who had three children. Three beautiful children who barged through the door to my uterus weighing a range of 8 and a half pounds to a chubby 9 pounds 14 ounces. My pelvic wall had seen better days. So when I threw up, I also (you ladies guessed it, right) peed my pants. Right there by the bar, in winter, when we were too drunk to get in a car to get anywhere. 

I was partially mortified and partially 34 and developing wisdom (hey, men will go through a lot to get a little, ahem). I may or may not have squeezed out a tear. There was nothing left to do, but walk the 1/2 to 3/4 miles to his apartment. We got there, I showered, and then embarrassingly, fit into a pair of his jeans, and we hung out for several more hours, watching movies, kissing and eating lots of candy. 

On good days, I think it is a sign of our comfort with each other, that we could move on and finish the date. 

On bad days, I think it is an omen and I should have known better.