Shred It

Shred it

This is the load of scraps my boys and I shredded. It was stressful and crazy but the boys had the time of their lives.

What day is nearly as exciting as Christmas around here? Shredding day.

Yep. You guessed it. Whenever I get out our small, black, at-home shredder, my kids go crazy like it’s Christmas morning.

To them it’s thrilling and exciting.

To me it’s stressful and terrifying.

Each time I “shred” stuff my boys are like moths to the flame. They can’t get away. They love to watch it. They love to help.

My 18-month-old is the worst. I have to use one hand to swat and scoot him away while using the other hand to regulate the shredder. I’m worried about his cute little chubby fingers and he can’t resist checking out the metal grinding gears.

It scares me to death.

My oldest two are pretty good at helping shred stuff. It’s their favorite chore. But my heart still skips a beat whenever I think their tiny fingers are getting a little too close. I go crazy when they try to shred small receipts.

For me shredding papers is an athletic sport. I’m constantly going back and forth chasing the baby while grabbing more papers to hand to the oldest two, then checking for paper jams and dumping the bin. It’s exhausting.

The worst part (for them) is when the machine overheats and we have to take a break. I’m grateful for the break. It’s a chance to gather up more papers and regroup for the next round.

We have had some good times shredding. We usually end up with tiny paper flecks scattered all throughout the house.

But we’ll never forget the first time we used our shredder. We were shredding hundreds of papers last fall that I had sorted out from my old junior high and high school days. We were on a roll when all of a sudden the machine made a horrible grinding, screeching sound.

Something was jammed.

Apparently there was a penny left in the bottom corner of an envelope and we didn’t notice it until it had been partially “eaten” by the shredder. I’d like to blame it on the fact that I was trying to keep an eye on my little ones’ fingers and that’s how it got through, but who knows.

Our brand-new day-after-Thanksgiving-deal shredder was toast. It took half a dozen screwdrivers and a couple of hours to get that stupid metal coin dislodged. It was cross-cut into the metal.

The boys were so sad that our new “toy” was ruined.

But we got it fixed and have had several shredding parties since.

It may be crazy, I may get nervous and we may end up with a floor filled with paper confetti but I guess at least my boys are excited to help with something. I better take it while I can get it. One paper shredded at a time.


What’s in a Name?

Jayden ClemensWhat’s in a name? Well if you ask my five-year-old he’d tell you everything. Especially since he thinks I gave him the wrong one.

Last week I got some papers ready for my boys to go with their school art contest entries. I was hurrying to get to a meeting and asked them to sign the papers while I got my shoes on.

When I looked at the papers while rushing out the door, my kindergartner had written “Jayden Clemens” on his paper. What?

Now I don’t post the names of my living children on my blog, but you can guess that my second son’s birth certificate does not say “Jayden.”

I was so frustrated. It took me a long time to get the documents ready, only to have him mess them up by signing the wrong John Hancock.

I lectured him about why he should write his right name. I talked to him about how I loved his name and gave it to him for a reason.

Then I told him that his teacher wouldn’t know whose paper she was grading if he wrote the wrong name on things. The very next day I found a backpack full of papers with “Jayden Clemens” written on the top.

He had been using the wrong name at school!

Why does he hate his name?

Because deep down he is the Red Power Ranger from the Power Rangers Samurai – aka Jayden.

How did I not know this?

I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m ruining his life by not rushing to the courthouse to legally change his name.

Now most kids my son’s age are just learning to spell their first given name. Let alone their last name, or the name they wished they had. I should be grateful that he’s smart, witty and capable.

But I love his name. It may not be fit for an aspiring power ranger wannabe but to me it’s fitting for him.

Dutch Oven Bug-Cooking Disaster


A slug roasting on our Dutch oven lid.

It’s a miracle any of my children survived to eat the Dutch oven lasagna we cooked last week. Cooking outside in the wild ended up being just that – wild.

By the time we were ready to eat it I was ready to throw in the towel on motherhood. I swear I’m not cut out for most of these things.

I was cleaning up inside while my husband set up the Dutch oven in our cooking pit outside.

When I made it outside to check on our meal I was greeted by my two oldest boys who were so excited to show me something in a bubble bottle they couldn’t hardly contain themselves.

What was it?

A drowned Black Widow Spider. I’m not kidding. I’ve lectured them about touching them. I’ve tried to scare them to death with stories of how they will infect them with poison. But they just don’t seem to get the fact that spiders are dangerous. And Black Widows are number one or two on the danger list.

They assured me that they didn’t “touch” it. They used a set of pliers to pluck it from our backyard window well. Then they drowned it in the water.


What was even more repulsive was when my husband dumped the stupid spider out of the bottle and it started wriggling around on the ground. The “drowned” spider was still alive and kicking.

I’m going to have to bug bomb my entire house to keep from having spider-fang-piercing-my-skin nightmares.

After the spider episode I went to the backyard to look for some cantaloupe from our garden. I was so stoked about a yellow-orange melon that fell off our vine that I forgot to keep an eye on our one-year-old. Where was he headed? You guessed it, straight for the fire-hot Dutch Oven.

The next thing I knew he was screaming and crying. He had burned two of his cute, chubby fingertips on the hot metal oven. I was horrified.

I can’t believe I forgot to keep him safe. Worst. Mother. Ever.

It took forever to calm him down. I kept running his hand under the cold water in our bathroom wishing it were my fingers that were burned not his.

To make me feel even better, my oldest son pointed out at dinner that it could have been much worse. Our baby could have fallen into the Dutch oven pit and burned his face.

Nice. Thank you for the mental image. At that point I couldn’t have felt worse.

We all went back outside and my two oldest got in a fistfight over a toy. My oldest ended up punching my five-year-old in the mouth several times.

I carried swollen mouth boy into the house and made him sit on one couch while the aggressor was forced onto the other couch. They sat in timeout for several minutes. Those were the calmest minutes of the night.

Then they were let off time out and back outside.

Just before our meal was done cooking, I heard my oldest shouting next to the Dutch Oven. Seriously? I thought he was burned too. But no, it was only his slug that was burned. And he wasn’t mad that it was roasting on the Dutch oven. He was mad that he dropped it prematurely.

Turns out that while my husband and I were cooking lasagna on the inside of our Dutch oven, our oldest two boys were cooking up a bug buffet on the outside.


They were grilling insects on the lid of the oven. I nearly threw up.

In one hour my children had handled a wickedly dangerous venomous spider, boxed their brother’s face swollen, burned blisters to the tips of their fingers and roasted a delicious dinner of grasshopper and slug.

They were out of control and I was ready to give up.

The only thing that made me feel better was eating two giant slices of the homemade Dutch oven lasagna.


It was delicious.

Then I went to bed, pulled the covers over my head and prayed that the next day would be more serene.

Luckily it was. Otherwise I may have quit.

Herding Cats at the OBGYN

Word to the wise: don’t ever take your three boys to an OBGYN appointment. Ever.

If you think you are going to have to drag them along, call me. I’d be happy to come and babysit for you.

I took my boys to the doctor with me on Monday.

Never again.

It wasn’t like it was an invasive appointment. It was supposed to be a simple in-and-out-I-may-have-a UTI check-up.

But some things can never be simple when you bring three little boys along.

After banning my two oldest to different couches on opposite walls of the waiting room because they wouldn’t stop fighting, we were finally taken back by one of the nurses.

It took at least six tries to get an accurate reading on my weight. Every time I stepped onto the scale, I had a little hand, foot, knee — you name it — weighing along with me.

Then we went to the exam room. It was pure chaos the moment we stepped inside. My 6-year-old headed straight for the plastic colorful female anatomy sculpture and stuck his hand inside.

When he asked me what it was, I lied and said I didn’t know. Luckily he decided it looked like an ear.

I had to fight my one-year-old off of the mini red biohazard trashcans that he kept trying to open and reach inside of.

My four-year-old thought the swirly doctor’s stool was his personal merry-go-round.

They scrambled through the room wreaking havoc within seconds. Then they noticed the blood pressure cuff and boxes of blue plastic exam gloves hanging on the walls.

It was all I could do to keep them away from pretty much everything.

I was worn out long before I ever made it to the restroom to give a urine sample.

That was another challenge.

I tried to sit my baby on the bathroom floor sandwiched between his two brothers to keep him from crawling all over the place. I positioned the three of them just outside my stall.

Bad idea.

My boys both tried to “help” hold their brother in place by squeezing and smashing him. I bet everyone in the entire clinic heard him screaming.

On the way back to the exam room I told my boys that they could quietly look around the halls of the office where the doctor has posted pictures of babies he has delivered.

That’s when they sprung into a mad-dash-“Where’s Waldo?” search, looking for the picture we sent the doctor of my youngest after he was born.

Again, mass chaos. I found the picture, pointed it out to them and dashed them back inside the exam room.

That’s where the PA asked me to hop onto the exam table. I sat up there and watched my four-year-old nearly strangle my one-year-old in a tight-thigh-death grip while she pushed on my stomach. Meanwhile my oldest kept begging to take home one of the blue plastic exam gloves.

It was exhausting.

The best part? I went through all of this only to find out that I am fine. My test results came back normal.

I’m not one bit sick.

Talk about a let down — all of that hard work for nothing. Especially after I had to pay a co-pay. We all know how much I love paying those.

Broken Fence, Broken Forgiveness

I tried to teach my son a life lesson but ended up freaked out instead. Here’s what I’d like to say to the scary man who treated us like dirt.

Dear Angry Man who rejected my broken-fence apology,

Thank you for keeping me from teaching my 6-year-old a valuable lesson.

I brought him to your house, despite his serious anxiety, to fess up and apologize for accidently knocking over a section of your decrepit cement-slab fence. He was scared to death as we waited on your porch for you to answer your door.

We told you he bumped into the fence a couple of weeks ago and part of it fell to the ground.

But you didn’t believe us. Instead of allowing us to apologize and help you fix the fence, you got angry and shouted at us to break the whole thing down. You snapped at me telling me you didn’t think he was the one who did it.

Do you seriously think I was the one who broke it? Then I blamed my child?

Anyone who has ever walked by your fence will agree that it looks so unstable that if someone whistled while walking by it would topple over.

Other sections of the same fence are missing. Surely he is not the only one to bump one loose.

I hesitated to make him knock on your door and admit to breaking the fence. But I wanted to teach him that he needs to admit to his mistakes and make them right whenever possible. We stopped by your house two times before to talk to you and you were not home.

Now I kind of wish we never talked to you.

Then again now that I think about it, maybe you did help me teach my son a lesson or two, or even three.

1. How not to be a complete jerk if someone accidently damages some of your property.

2. How to graciously accept an apology and an offer to help.

3. How to forgive.

None of those were the lessons I intended, but now they seem even more important than the one I set out to teach.

I can’t help what happened, but I was willing to pay to fix the fence. Now maybe you’ll have to do what you suggested to us and, “break the whole thing down.”


A tired, busy mother who is trying her best to teach her children manners



Surviving a trip to the dollar store with my two oldest boys and walking out empty handed is like surviving three hours of church with my baby and walking out without him pooping all over his Sunday best.

Neither happens very often.

For some reason my boys LOVE the local bargain store. They could spend all their time – and money – shopping around its shelves. I don’t know what they see in that place. I don’t know what they see in the toys they find there.

Me? I’d rather steer clear. Because if I get anywhere near that place I know I’m probably going to end up with a new cheap toy that will get broken, or worse, lost.

It doesn’t matter what I go to the discount store to find, the second we step foot inside my boys make a beeline to the back wall. They know that’s where they’ll find all kinds of realistically fake and desperately discounted treasures – knives, swords, guns, ammo, helicopters, dinosaurs – you name it. And all of them priced $6 or less!

I hate how I have to hustle down the aisle hot on their heels because I’m scared to death that they’re going to wreak havoc on the cheap made-in-China-plastic-99-cent bargain toys. Let’s be honest, most of the toys sold in dollar stores aren’t made to last. Well, they don’t last at our house anyway. But I would like to be able to have the chance to take them home before busting them. I can’t tell you how many of our swords split in half or our gun triggers crack.

But my children are more than willing to take the toy-breaking risk. They’ll pay good money for the stuff.

When it comes to shopping at our local bargain outlet, they never seem to run out of spare cash. I know they get money from their grandparents for birthdays and Christmas, but that only happens twice a year. I know that my oldest son sold a ladybug to the neighbor girl but he only took in $0.79 cents for that. Where are these extra $1 bills coming from?

Because the second I announce we are heading to the store I turn around to find my two oldest boys stuffing their pockets with cash.

Every once in a while it’s me who chooses to go to the dollar store. I like to go there to get little gifts for neighbors and friends.

Usually on these occasions I try to prep my boys and get them in the giving spirit. But it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them we are there to buy something for someone else, they don’t understand. Or they don’t listen.

I took them to the store last week to help pick out a little something for our friend. On the way to the store I told them at least six times that we weren’t going shopping for them.

Sure enough, less than 10 minutes later we all ended up in the far corner of the toy section butting heads about buying another cheap toy.

I stood my ground and we checked out buying only our friend’s gift. But we went back the next day to buy what they “had to have.” And according to my 4-year-old, “that was the best day of his life.”

I want to be able to take my children to the store to help pick out gifts for others, but I don’t want to fight them every time.

I guess it’s only natural for them to want to get something when they see that someone else is, but I’ve got to figure out how to teach them that it’s OK to give – even when they are walking out of the store empty-handed. Otherwise I’m going to go crazy with all these cheap, crappy toys.

Now if I can teach them that, and manage to make it through church one of these weeks without my baby’s diaper exploding, I’ll have it made.

Sick of Screaming – Ready to Quit

button4-tmCan I go 365 days without yelling at my children? Doubtful. But after stumbling upon The Orange Rhino Challenge website, I’m determined to try.

The woman who started the Orange Rhino Challenge has gone more than 400 days without yelling at her children.

If she can do it I can, right?

At first I had some serious doubts. Surely this woman’s children aren’t normal. Or she isn’t normal. Are they perfect angels who never make messes? Are they timid and shy – afraid to anger their mother? Is she doped up on vallum?

But then I started reading more into her blog and I think she’s real. Very real. And I think we would really get along. She’s a stay-at-home mom raising four young boys. Sound familiar?

When I scanned her “Orange Rhino” alternatives to yelling I could see myself doing those same things. Here are some of my favorites:

– Go to the bathroom and scream into the toilet, then flush it away (um symbolic?)

– Go through yelling motions but don’t let voice out (shocks kids and yourself that you didn’t yell, releases endorphins from pride!)

– Look at TV and pretend there is a hidden camera (fear of judgment works wonders)

Anyone who’ll admit to screaming into her toilet instead of at her kids is my type of woman.

But this isn’t going to be easy. I’m a loud person.

Growing up to be a mere 5 ft. zero inches and 100-pounds I have learned that I am better heard than seen.

It’s not only that. I love my house to be clean, my boys to be calm and my plans to go uninterrupted. Couple all that with my quick temper and I’m a sitting grenade. You never know what will pull the pin.

But I’m sick of yelling at my kids. I’m sick of them ignoring me until I’m screaming in neck-vein-bulging tones. I think they don’t “hear” me anymore unless I yell.

Honestly I really don’t think my yelling impacts my boys. It’s like at the sound of my voice invisible earmuffs cup over their ears and my words fall upon deaf ears.

At this point I am pretty sure the only volume my 9-month-old thinks is out there is LOUD. He’s been mimicking my monstrous roar ever since he could utter, “da-da.” I don’t want him growing up thinking that’s the norm.

All my kids are going to have to tune in as I turn down my volume.

I’m tired of going to bed feeling guilty that I snapped – again. And I don’t want to apologize to friends and family anymore for growling at my kids.

I’m going to stop.

I don’t know how many times I’ll have to reset my counter on this challenge, but I’m not a quitter.

Per The Orange Rhino Challenge Details, I am allowed to use a potentially raised stern voice and I get an “oopsie” snap. Sounds like a piece of cake, right?

Right. I’ll put a counter at the bottom of each blog post so you all can see my progress or regress. Hopefully that will help me stick with this challenge.

Bear with me. If I can’t yell at my kids then Boogers on the Wall may features a lot of frustrated writing in the coming weeks. I’ve got to get it out somewhere.

And while I’m thinking of getting it out somewhere, are there any volunteers who’ll let me text them when I am on the verge of losing it? That’s another one of my favorite Orange Rhino yelling alternatives.

If you’re willing to be on call and will help talk me down when I’m going to burst, message me your number. But keep in mind I may use it often. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

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