In February, Hubs and I started remodeling our master bathroom.

More accurately, I should say that in February, Hubs and I casually wondered what was under the wallpaper, so we peeled a corner. Which revealed damaged drywall. Which revealed a roof leak. Which revealed the need to scrape popcorn from the ceiling. Which meant we might as well DO THE WHOLE BLASTED THING. (Ah, sweet togetherness.)

Four months, a few tears, some sore muscles and maybe a teeny-tiny argument or two (*cough*) later, and we are finished. And we got just exactly the look we wanted.

But first, a "before" shot (these were the photos I took after my paper-bagging-walls experiment, which ultimately worked out okay, but not great. It was pretty much intended to be a short-term solution to buy us some time):


Oooo, it's dark in there, isn't? I feel like I need to put on a headlamp to do anything. Here's the new version:


Ah, sunshine!

Another "before" shot, of the tub area:


Love this new version MUCH better (and we saved skads of money by using beadboard instead of tile as the tub surround):


(And by the way, yes, it's waterproof. We followed the advice of an issue of This Old House magazine and silicon-caulked the fire of that baby, inside and outside the beadboard.)

I don't have a "before" shot of the old closet located right behind that tub. Suffice it to say that it was great storage space, but the closet door was always opening up into traffic flow and driving us nuts. So we took the door off entirely and made it open shelving:


Look at those tidy shelves! DISCLAIMER: I have never lived a day in my life with my closets looking like that–this is just the staged version (more on that in a minute). Normally, you'd see mis-matched towels folded by a five-year-old, multiple expired bottles of Maalox, and three or four knee braces. But this looks much nicer, no?

(Originally I planned to put up a white shower curtain with black grommets over that closet space. But I love the openness so much I've left it like that.)

Last shots…here's a "before" of the toilet area:


….and AFTER:


One last thing, because I seriously need some kudos for this one: For the first (and, I might add, last) time in my life, I painted the insides of the cabinets to make them spiffy:


Isn't that pretty? It's kind of a shame to fill it up with toilet paper and band-aids after all that work.

So ANYWAY, the reason for all the staging is that we finished this bathroom on a Thursday and (oh, Irony, you pesky old friend) on the next Friday, we moved out. Vacated. Gone. We'd known a move was likely imminent for us, and we redid the bathroom with resale value in mind. But we didn't realize it would be quite THAT quick. So now we're gone, hoping that all the people walking through our on-the-market house are enjoying it, since we, um, never quite did.

(Speaking of which, does anybody want to buy my house?)

(P.S.  The paint color of the walls is Sherwin Williams "Sleepy Blue", and the cabinets are painted Valspar "Dark Kettle Black".)


If You Give a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy a Cookie

This afternoon I was sitting with my daughter as we tried to cram for the library's summer reading program enjoy some literary stimulation. I was reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for the 3,722,185th time in my life, when the 13-year-old wandered in to ask me for something listen and reminisce about his sweet preschool years.

We finished reading and closed the book. My son asked if I could fix him something to eat. Of course he did, because it had been a shocking TWELVE minutes since lunch, and how could an adolescent boy possibly be expected to survive that long without food?

As I asked him what was wrong with his own two legs got up to graciously fix him something, I was inspired by the circumstances to flex my own literary muscle. Hence, this (with a sincere hat tip and apology to this).

If You Give a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy a Cookie

If you give a thirteen-year-old boy a cookie,
he's probably going to ask for some soda.

But as you are a mom who is feeling the pressure to make Positive Nutritional Choices,
you will urge him to drink milk instead.

He will shrug, and you will pour a giant glass of milk–whole milk–
and you will reflect that if you drank that much whole milk you would have hips
as wide as Tennessee.

He will finish the milk and and wipe his mouth with his shirt,
and you will not complain, because this is better than the milk moustache he normally wears.

He will set down the cup and ask if you've seen his cell phone,
and you will tell him you turned it off, because
why-oh-why must he and his friends text each other Chuck Norris jokes all day?

He will shrug, and then he will think of Chuck Norris,
and this will remind him of the movies, which will remind him of popcorn,
and he'll ask if you can fix him some.

And you say sure, because you're thinking that popcorn is a much cheaper snack
than the bacon he normally asks for.

He will jerk his head around because he somehow heard you think the word "bacon",
and you will tell him "no, you're having popcorn, remember?"

He will take the popcorn to the living room, and you will remind him
there is no longer any eating allowed in the living room
because you stayed up late picking brownie crumbs out of the carpet
after the last youth group party at your house.

And his eyes will shine and he will say, "Brownie?" and you will say, "NO."

So he will eat his popcorn instead (in the kitchen, like a good boy).
And all the salt will make him crave another glass of (whole) milk. 

But he's polished off the third gallon of (whole) milk this week,
and he must therefore hike all the way out to the garage to the nasty old back-up fridge. 

As he walks out to the garage, you will notice that you can see the bones in his hips,
and you will sadly remember that your pants get tight if you even think about cheesecake,
and you will know that good metabolism is wasted on those young enough to think that Big Macs are gourmet.

He will return from the garage with the milk, but with all that physical exertion,
chances are he's going to want a cookie and a brownie and some bacon to go with it.

(P.S. — I just read this post to my son, and he laughed out loud. Then he said he was hungry. Then he said I should tell you that Chuck Norris once round-house kicked a salesman. Over the phone.)

Happy Father’s Day

He pushes them to take risks when I'm too afraid.


He tells them how to use a socket wrench, shake a hand, work a compass,
and paddle a canoe.

He helps me be firm when I want to be too easy, and he helps me stay calm when I didn't know I could.

He tells our girl that she's pretty and valuable, and he puts on a suit and tie to take her to dinner.


He mysteriously shows up at the perfect moment with a screwdriver, or duct tape, or an ace bandage, and he knows how to let go of a bike seat at just the right moment.

He handles all the dog poop, tile grout, and algebra.

He coaches and prays and quiets and scolds and laughs and pushes and pulls with a courage and will that is the bedrock to the rest of us.


Happy Father's Day to the far better half of this team–the man who is, in every sense, a miracle.

It Will Change Your Life, Or At Least Your Roots

If you are plagued with fine, straight hair that is naturally prone to flatness, you should read on. If you have bouncy, fluffy hair, you should stop reading, but only after you have gotten on your knees to thank the Lord for His bounty to you.

I fall in the first camp–my hair naturally has about as much bounce and volume as a twelve-ton rock. Eight years ago, I started having my hair cut by Sarah. She is brilliant and funny and talented and she has almost made all the flatness manageable, primarily by giving me eight years' worth of instruction of the proper root-teasing technique, which I have taken to heart with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

(Seriously. I can tease some roots. When I finish with them each morning, you could just about land a helicopter on them. But then I walk out the door to be greeted by Oklahoma humidity, and the flatness comes back, as it does for all of us who are thus afflicted.)

At my last appointment, Sarah told me about this stuff:


It's called Powder Play, by Big Sexy Hair.

I never buy salon products a) because I am cheap and b) when I have tried them, I couldn't tell a difference. But Sarah was insistent that this stuff was worth every penny–"life-changing" was the word, I believe. I tend to roll my eyes at products with names like "Big Sexy Hair", but on second thought, I realize we cannot afford the luxury of subtlety in our quest for root volume. So I gave it a go.


This strange little substance, which is very similar in consistency with baby powder, is a miracle drug. You sprinkle it in very small amounts directly onto your roots and then work it in with your fingers. It feels very strange, but let me just tell you that your roots will stand at attention like the President has walked in the room. And–here's the kicker–it will STAY fluffy. Even if you don't wash it the next day.

(If you did not gasp at that last statement, then you clearly have never suffered from questionable root volume and do not understand the plight of those of us who do, so please just turn away.)

I will confess I am a little curious about the ingredients of a product that will cause such impressive stand-up-ishness. My mom (who uses the stuff too–our flat hair is genetic but NOT ANYMORE) and I have wondered what, precisely, we are massaging directly into our beleaguered scalps. We have decided to live in happy, volume-filled ignorance.

(And, by the way, the Big Sexy Hair people are not in any way compensating me for this post, mostly because there has never been a less qualified spokeswoman for a product called "Big Sexy", unless they have a division I don't know about called "Medium-Sized Housewife-ish".)

Well, Hello There

I've gotten several kind e-mails from people who have wondered when I'm coming back to regular blogging (as opposed to blogging only about That Show Which Is Dead To Me And Shall Not Be Named). It never fails to astound me that anyone would notice I've been gone–thanks for your encouragement. (I include my dad, who called me to say, "When in the heck are you going to stop posting about that show because I'm sick to death of reading the headlines."  Thanks for beating around the bush, Dad.)

Actually, I never specifically set out to take a giant blogging break, it just kind of happened that way. Would you like to hear the very interesting and compelling reason I've been away?

*crickets chirping*

Yes, well, there isn't one.

But in the interest of seeing if these old blogging gears have any juice left, I'll give you an update on what I've been doing in my extended absence.

1. The plates, they are a-spinnin'.

Remember how I told you it gets easier when your kids get older? Yes, well,
it does, but it also ushers in a brand new version of chaos. All of
these people! With plans! But no car of their own
yet! And so I drive them! And not only drive them, but
occasionally provide Spur-Of-The-Moment Bits Of Eternal Motherly Wisdom
between the McDonald's drive-through window and the soccer field! And
still have enough mental energy when we get home to help with the
pre-algebra! (And by "help with the pre-algebra", I mean "lean over and
say, 'hey Babe, can you help him with his pre-algebra?'" Still, it's

In short, life is busy.

Ann Kroeker kindly sent me a copy of her book Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions For Frenzied Families. It is brilliantly wise, and it has completely rocked my perspective. I would really like to figure out some ways to implement these principles in our family, just as soon as I slow down long enough to, um, slow down.

2. The bathroom. Oh, the BATHROOM.

Hubs and I started remodeling our bathroom in early February. It's now early June, and we're still at it. And that's all I have to say about that. (But I will post pictures, eventually, if they have internet access at the looney bin.)

3. Over thinking things. (It's what I do best.)

Quite honestly, for reasons I haven't yet fully pegged, I have grown a little ambivalent about blogging over the last year. Some of it is good old-fashioned burn-out from the flurry of book writing last year. Some of it is a growing awareness that as my kids' ages go up, so does their need for privacy, and it's tricky to write a parenting blog without talking too much about parenting, you know? And still more of it is a sense that maybe–just maybe--I've said most of what I wanted to say here. It's tempting to fill up this spot just because it's here, but I don't want to say something just to hear myself talk.

("You don't?" says Hubs. "STOP IT," says I.)

So to those of you who have stopped by and wondered where I am–first of all, thank you. I'm still here, laying low while I do too much driving and introspecting. I'll still be popping in here and there, if you can be patient with a creaky old blogger who may not write nearly as often as she used to.

So that's that.

How have you been?

Works For Me: Easy Growth Chart

I’m hosting WMFW once more while Kristen is in Kenya. (I hope you’re following her amazing posts. You absolutely MUST read this one–be sure to watch the video at the end.)

I’m actually dusting off a very old WFMW of my own to share this week, because it’s especially relevant in my house even as we speak. At this very moment, my oldest son (almost 13) is officially as tall as I am. I have absolutely no idea how it happened; hence, this tip...

* * * * * * * *

When I was a girl, my parents regularly charted my growth by marking
my height on my closet door facing.  It’s a lovely idea, of course,
with one big hitch–when my parents moved out of my childhood home a
few years ago, my mom was devastated to leave those measurements
behind.  That prompted me to come up with a more permanent solution for
our family.

bought a long piece of lightweight lumber at Home Depot (about 2 inches
wide, and six feet tall–it looks and feels like a very tall
yardstick), and divided it into three long columns on the front, using
a Sharpie marker.  Each boy has his own column, and we mark his height
that way.  When Corrie entered the picture, we began marking her height
on the back (you could easily mark up to six or eight kids on one stick
this way).  It’s portable, stored away in a closet and pulled out every
few months.  Best of all, I will be able to keep it always, mounting it
to the wall in my nursing home someday, when I am old and gray and need
to be reminded of the fast-growing little monkeys that lived in my
house all these years.

Here’s a full-length shot of our growth chart (the mystery stains on
the carpet are included simply for your viewing pleasure).  You can see
where the boys’ names are written at the bottom of each column:


This has been such a fun thing to have–very cheap, and a real treasure.

Have a WFMW tip you’d like to share? Please enter your link below (if you’re a newbie, you can read the WFMW guidelines here). Please note that this list will be closed to new links after a few days, to ward off spammers.