How to Swim in Cat Pee with Dignity

posted in: Crazy Town, Large Family, Photography | 9

It’s only fair, since I work so hard to make my children miserable that they (or their cats) return the favor.

After our  amazingly miserable day at the river I decided to take my children to the local pool. Actually, I was determined to get Apollo back in a pool so he could keep up all the skillz he had gained at his recent Safety Around Water classes. I was excited to see what he could do on his own, out of the swim lesson environment.

Plus I was dying to try out my Olympus TG4 Waterproof Camera

^^^ Yes, that’s an affiliate link,. Now you can go buy your own.Swimming in cat pee; every mother's dream. At least I have the Olympus TG-4 underwater camera to help capture the memories. 

I was not disappointed! This is a kid who three weeks ago was afraid to stick his face in the water. Um…I think he’s over that particular fear. He is now in the stage where he is terrifying to be in the water with because he has more courage than skill and endurance.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the joy of cat pee.

Swimming in cat pee; every mother's dream. At least I have the Olympus TG-4 underwater camera to help capture the memories.

Ten minutes before our scheduled departure for the pool yesterday, I grabbed my swimsuit. Remember, I keep all of our swim gear together in the laundry room for easy access?

Easy for me, easy for the kids and easy, apparently, for the cats too.

Swimming in cat pee; every mother's dream. At least I have the Olympus TG-4 underwater camera to help capture the memories.

How do I know this? I know because when I grabbed my suit yesterday I was greeted with the very distinct smell of cat urine. And my swimsuit was slightly damp.

Well, I knew I hadn’t peed in the suit. That and cat urine has a very distinctive (and persistent) smell.

Swimming in cat pee; every mother's dream. At least I have the Olympus TG-4 underwater camera to help capture the memories.

Well I had only ten minutes until we needed to leave…

…so I did what any self-respecting mother would do. I rinsed it out in the sink.

And I rinsed and rinsed and then rinsed some more.

Because cat pee.

The smell. Never leaves.

I didn’t have time to actually wash it. So we headed out on our Grand Adventure, the kids with goggles, suits and towels. Me, with a soaking wet, urine-smelling suit.

I very seriously thought about hanging it out our window as I drove, like we did with Avi’s dress…but decided it was too risky and 15 minutes probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference anyway.

Now please don’t leave a comment about how unsanitary it is to enter a public pool with cat-smelling swimsuit.


#1 It was CLEAN…just smelly. 

#2 We all know kids pee in these pools constantly. That’s what the chlorine is for.

#3 At least it wasn’t a dead body.

#4 It’s bad enough that my suit got peed on.

Swimming in cat pee is a small price to pay for bonding with your children. Am I right?

Jubilee took this image while going down the water slide!

Happy swimming! I hope  your summer is as exciting as mine.

How to Make Your Children Completely Miserable: 7 Easy Steps

posted in: Humor, Large Family | 6

How to Make Your Children Miserable in 7 Fabulously Easy and Enjoyable Steps.

I mean really, who doesn’t want to make their children completely miserable? Follow these simple guidelines and  you too will be in the running for Worst Mom Ever. 

How to make your children completely miserable.

Step 1: Pick a sunny day.

The kind of warm sunny day that was made for lemonade stands and long, leisurely bike rides to the corner store for Big Red and Fun Dip.  The kind of day that makes you nostalgic for the 80’s when kids could play outside without having their neighbors call the police for child neglect. Yeah, pick a day like that. 

How to make you children completely miserable. 

How to make your children completely miserable.

How to make your children completely miserable.

Step 2: Tell your children you are going to take them to the river to swim and play with friends (this helps build anticipation).

Make sure they pack their swimsuits*, water bottles, sandals and towels. Once you arrive, let them frolic in the water, washing all of their worries (and sunscreen) away. 

*If you are looking for modest, full-coverage swimsuits check out these sewn by a local mom. Avi and Jubilee’s suits came from Land’s End on clearance. $10 a piece!  

How to make your children completely miserable.

Step 3: Feed your children before you leave. 

Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. If you do, you will have to pack snacks for your kids. Instead, feed them a good lunch so you don’t need to pack a snack. That’s called being efficient. This is important because it will give them something to whine about later. 


Step 4: Spend hours outdoors in God’s beautiful creation.

Let the kids swim and play, frolic and tube down the lazy river.

With friends.

How to make your children completely miserable. How to make your children completely miserable.  How to make your children completely miserable.

Step 5: Supply plenty of cute toddlers and babies.*

Because life is just better with adorable babies, don’t you think?

* As I edited these photos I realized I photographed the births of FIVE of the kids at the river with us. How fun is that?

Wyatt, Lydia, Mary, Abigail and Odin.

Step 6: Let your kids throw endless sticks and rocks into the river. It’s hard to find a more wholesome, timeless source of fun than that.


Step 7: Bring them home and serve them a hot, delicious, homemade dinner. 

No take-out, fast or processed food for your kids! Plan ahead by putting drumsticks in the crockpot. When you arrive home, grill these to make them crispy, roast red potatoes and supply a huge salad full of fresh veggies. Eat together as a family and tell dad about all the fun you had that day.

Step 8 (for moms only):

Spend the rest of the evening hearing about how, “You never take us anywhere fun. Only dad takes us fun places. Why don’t you ever take us anywhere?” 

Because spending 20 hours a day together is never enough

*** Warning: this perfect afternoon at the river only made one of my children completely miserable. The rest seemed to enjoy themselves, likely making the kind of memories that happy childhoods are made of. Attempt this at your own risk.***

Ideas for Learning with LEGO

posted in: LEGO | 3

 Ideas for

You know we love LEGO® in this house. We have had LEGO parties, have an amazing LEGO organizing system and gone on a scavenger hunt to find the Lion Temple. Chuck and I have always prioritized open-ended toys that require imagination over any other toys. We lean toward blocks, toy animals, art supplies…and, once they were old enough, LEGO!

While I am a huge fan of unstructured play for kids, some kids need a little bit of encouragement. Avi struggles with appropriate unstructured play and building with LEGO is a real struggle for her (and yet so good to encourage creativity!). Here are way to encourage learning and creativity with LEGO. 

LEGO Scavenger Hunt

There are so many ways to do this! 

Number hunt (find a 4×4 brick, find 3 2×6 bricks, etc).

Color hunt (for younger kids): find all the yellow pieces, red pieces, etc. Sort LEGO by color. Make a rainbow. 

Have your kids build a LEGO mosaic.

Tilly has so much fun recreating the classic LEGO logo. We created this using this book, but this link has instructions and some cute printables! 

Learning with LEGO: challenge your children to build a lay flat LEGO mosaic.

LEGO Building Challenge

We played this game at Avi and Apollo’s LEGO birthday party a couple of years ago. It was a hug  hit and I was so impressed with the pieces the kids built. You can download a free printable here

Encourage your child's creativity by using this LEGO building challenge.

LEGO Piece Guessing Game

Place a LEGO piece in front of the child. Put a handful of LEGO into a small bag or box. Have your children reach in and try to find the matching piece. This is a great sensory activity. 

Learning with LEGO: LEGO marriage proposal.

Tell a Story

Have your child tell a story with LEGO. After BEN! proposed to Adalia, Enoch reenacted the scene with LEGO pieces. This play can be extended endlessly. Kids can build scenes from history, from their favorite books, their dream vacation… 

The Upright Citizens Brigade has been using LEGO to tell stories in their improv (be sure and check out their video on YouTube). This is another great way to incorporate LEGO into your learning (especially if you have a reluctant builder).

While my kids love the themed LEGO sets  such as  the Chima Lion Temple and LEGO Friends sets, I am a huge fan of the LEGO Classic. These sets yield themselves to endless creativity. While the boxes do come with instructions for a few projects they are more ideas to launch the child, than directions. These make the perfect give for the LEGO fan (when you don’t know what sets they already own). I loved that LEGO Classic came with a couple of new colors (a mint green and lavender) that we don’t have in other sets. 

Pro Tip:

When you open a new LEGO set, always have your kids dump the pieces onto a cookie sheet. That way tiny pieces don’t get lost or knocked out of the way before you even have a chance to finish building the set. 

How do your kids play with LEGO? Do you have reluctant builders? 


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Large Family Minimalist: How We Live with Less

posted in: Humor, Large Family | 13

The large family minimalist.

I am a minimalist by nature. Chuck commented years ago that if it were up to me we wouldn’t even have furniture…just a couple of pillows on  the floor. My response? Think of how easy it would be to clean! My friend Sara and her husband recently renovated an RV and now live in their tiny home with their two children. I’m just a wee bit jealous. Recently I was daydreaming about a minimalist lifestyle and suddenly I realized all the ways in which large families naturally live a minimalist lifestyle. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Large Family Minimalist. The surprising and humorous ways in which large families live with less.



The Large Family Minimalist can live with:

Minimal Supervision.

Lets face it, no parent can watch six or ten kids every moment of every day. This form of large family minimalism allows kids to have freedom to explore the world, stuff a goldfish in their wallet and wear their sister’s dresses. Want to teach independence? Have a large family.

Minimal Time in the Bathroom.

Truth: if you live in a large family you will learn to take two-minute showers, brush your teeth in 45 seconds or less and don’t fix your hair in there I need to use the toilet. This also has the bonus benefit of allowing you to use less water there by saving the environment. You also learn to be flexible about where you evacuate and how to survive on a single roll of toilet paper.

Minimal Money Spent on Haircuts. 

Not only will you learn to cut your children’s hair because who the heck is going to pay $8-10 a head for ten kids, but I can almost guarantee with less supervision (see above) your child will learn to cut their own hair

Minimal money in general. 

If you family is large enough, you too can experience less money. From smaller allowances and a nonexistent retirement, you can learn to get by on less, stock your freezer and manage hand-me-downs efficiently.

Minimal dinner leftovers.

Food and the large family. Anyone who grew up with half a dozen or more siblings can surely tell stories of there never, ever being leftovers. Years ago when we still had a small family of only 7 or 8 kids I was talking to the mother of 10 children. She was telling me about her and her husband’s weekly date night. She explained how she would buy a bag of fish sticks or chicken nuggets and tater tots, get out the calculator and divide the number of kids by the number of processed chicken and fish-like pieces. Yep, leftovers are rarely a problem in large families. On the bright side? You don’t eat mystery meal or have to deal with “Mom’s Special Casserole” at the end of the week.

Minimal Square Footage Per Person

The average family home was not built to house a dozen or more people. In a large family you learn to manage with less square footage per person. This is great prep for life in China, apartment living, or a calm, comforting padded room. In fact, as a parent of a large family you might just find yourself in a bedroom so small it fits your bed. And nothing else. I prefer to think of our room as a sleeping pod. It makes me feel ever so productive and worldly.

Minimal Pairs of Matching Socks (while simultaneously owning enough socks to start a monopod revolution).

Socks. We have no shortage of socks in this house. We have wool socks and cotton socks. Knee socks and crew socks and ankle socks. Super hero socks, sport socks and Bombas socks. The only thing we are lacking is matching socks. In a large family you quickly learn: two socks equals a pair.

So there you have it. You had no idea large families were actually minimalist, did you?

Did I miss any large family minimalist areas? Let me know in the comments. 

1 2 3 4 482