Decluttering kids school mess

When most people hear the question, “Paper or plastic?” it usually doesn’t make their skin crawl; unless of course, you are like me and you left your cloth bags in the back of your car for the millionth time. That does get a tad old.

What I am referring to has nothing to do with shopping, bagboys, or keeping your meat separated by plastic. I’m talking about the inordinate amount of paper and toys which collect in my house during one calendar year.decluttering

I have two young grade school-aged children, and apparently their teachers like them to keep busy drawing, and writing all the live long day.

Every day.

I think perhaps their teachers are sneaking into my home in the middle of the night and having my kids do art projects in their sleep because of the towering stacks of paper we collect at school year’s end.

Of course I’m not asking for the teachers to prop my girls up with a juice box and a bag of chips in front of the precariously sitting TV upon the portable audiovisual cart. No, I’m happy they are teaching my children motor skills, handwriting, math and spelling words.

Schoolboy being stressed by his homework, isolated on white back

But oh, for the days of those slate boards with the minimalist wooden frame! Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ma had it right. No recycling bin vs. scrapbook decisions for her. Just making a cellar full of apple butter and staying clear of the locusts. Good times!

Summer is my time for getting our house organized. Twelve months of an angry woman hoarding my children’s crap is my cut-off. I have to get rid of it or else I will end up on one of those reality shows, and if I’m going to have some quality airtime, it sure as heck isn’t going to have the word CRAZY or HOARDING in the title. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Make a List

1) Sort school paperwork into three boxes labeled
a) sweet mementos for mom
b) touching items kids will treasure
c) tormenting evidence for future public events

I thinned down this pile already throughout the year! OY!  ~

I thinned down this pile already throughout the year! OY! ~

2) Find the bottom of my desk and remove any food particles or spores which may have appeared during the year. This also includes a good sucking of lint and hangnails from my computer keyboard.

3) Pitch any clothing that has holes or stains that have been attempted to be removed more than 2.4 times. Remaining clothing and shoes that no longer fit, must be shoved into paper sacks in back of van immediately. Put keys in ignition, place gear into reverse and back out of drive to the donation center so you will not leave those suckers in the back of your closet or car for the next 6 months.

4) Sadly, there is always a natural disaster around the corner and the only positive thing that ever comes from those is I can tell my children truthfully there are other kids who have no toys. This brings out the empathy in my girls and they start cleaning out their bins of plastic junk they aren’t playing with, which makes me one happy and philanthropic mama.

5) Then there’s the project of burning our music CD’s which I started when I married my husband. We were married in our thirties, merging two full houses; however, neither of us had children. We assumed we had all the time in the world, but were stupidly unaware our lives would change dramatically after we spawned. Which we did right away. Why not, right?!

Needed panoramic lens to capture full collection. ~

Needed panoramic lens to capture full collection. ~

Unfortunately, with summer camps, going to the pool, ball games, vacations, sleeping in, running around like crazy-free kids and just playing in the sun, it will take the entire summer to get through all five of these projects.

(previously posted in July of 2013)

Do you have any projects that you can’t get done over the summer? Or do you just say forget about it? I need some tips to get through all this junk!


Ladies, Even YOU can Have a Midlife Crazy

To Burn In Hell. Grungy female portraitGo ahead, you know you want to do it

I’m a slow bloomer – at least in the midlife crisis department. I could give a rip how old I am, or that I don’t drive a sports car. Why stress over the fact that my abs are donned in a fat parka ready for the first hard freeze? But what I am noticing are scores of women making drastic changes in their lives. They’ve got a case of Midlife Crazy.

Once believing only men went through radical midlife plights, I am now forced to reevaluate my judgmental ways. I have known handfuls of women performing extraordinary measures (occasionally up to a DD) to get noticed. Tiny tucks and nearly nips have been common practice by hoards of women on TV and a neighborhood near you. Needles filled with paralytics inserted into their facial features are just as common as melting the skin off your face with acid.

Thank goodness for Facebook or I never would have experienced these people’s insecurities firsthand. It’s not just a Hollywood competition anymore. The women of the Midwest are collecting their spare change and/or ruining their credit score to smooth, cinch, and plump their parts.

Tats and Piercings
If I had a dime for every female acquaintance that got pierced or tattooed when they turned 45, I would have…a bunch of dimes.

Thanks to Facebook, I get to watch graphic photos of these women putting their brave panties on in the name of beauty. Due to social media, I have fantastic zoom-in capabilities of all piercings and oozing, red skin art. Just can’t get enough of that!

Praise the Lord! nose piercing is still the rage. I don’t really get this one. You can’t wear your new cute dangly earrings or big hoops in your nose. You would look crossed-eyed all day and not be able to focus since you’d get distracted by something attacking your nose. Plus, the thought of getting a cold and then having to plug your hole so you don’t blow out your diamond rhinestone is EW!

“Willow, you have a bit of glitter on your… (swats incoming hand) Sorry!”

Pimp my Ride
After years of minivans and car seats, it’s understandable a woman should yearn for a nice looking automobile – sans stains, unrecognizable sticky spots and Goldfish cracker crumbs looming in every crack. I have visions of clean floor mats and a petite vehicle that doesn’t beep when you put it into reverse. But Ladies, do you think you appear younger when you are cruising at high speeds in your convertible roadster? Now you resemble a confused middle-aged woman who meandered into tornado winds. And since you can only fit one child in your 2-seater at a time, the school pickup lane is going to take all afternoon. You’ll have to go through it three times to collect all your kids and backpacks. A+ in time management for you!

Guns For Show This last one truly took me by surprise – with my hands up in surrender! The charming paralegal across the office could be packing heat and she isn’t afraid to whip it out. These mid lifers share photos of them at the shooting range, and framed shooting range targets can be found decorating many dining rooms across the country. When they said, “I love Target!” I really thought they were into the 5-percent sales with every REDcard purchase.

So lately all of these observations have made me feel a little off – like my midlife choices are as exciting as watching paint dry. However, is noticing these differences the precursor to behavioral changes? Next summer I could step outside my comfort zone and paint my toenails crimson to match a designer purse while touring around Italian wine country in a smoking, hot red Carmen Ghia.

That reminds me…I need to swing by Target before picking up the kids. There’s a REDcard sale on Goldfish crackers.

Join me for fun on the Nurse Mommy Laughs Facebook page or Twitter.


Drama Queen Daughter Crying Over Spilled Yogurt

drama queen daughter



Time for a Drama Queen Intervention

(Stacey Hatton, RN) Do you happen to have melodramatic, or as I like to say Drama Queen daughter in your home? In the medical world, we say these creative kids are predominately using their right-brain more than the analytical or left-side of the brain.

At our house we are a 50-50 brain split. My husband, the engineer has his mini-version of himself (our cute – but girly daughter, Munchkin #1) and this writer/nurse/ex-theatre gal has a “mini-me.” (Prayers are welcomed!)

It works out great during family arguments as long as you don’t mind tie breakers to be implemented with every household vote. Coin tosses or Paper, Rock, Scissors usually do the trick.

Several years ago, when my munchkins were five and six, it was a beautiful day with the normal balance of drama queen-ness and sweet giggles coming from my daughters. We had changed activities only 43 times and it was only 10:20am, so basically it was a smooth sailing day!

When out of the blue, a darting figure entered the kitchen, swiped a yogurt out of the refrigerator and without any warning, she took a strawberry yogurt and squirted it all over the hardwood floors. An odd practice for one of our girls, but who am I to judge?

Normally, the next thing you would hear is one of the munchkins hollering for me to come clean up their mess or one tattling on the other; but the strangest string of events occurred. A scream echoed from the other room, followed by soft cries that crescendoed into panicked wails.

“Mom, come quick! Yogurt… (sob, sob) …is…” Munchkin #1’s voice trails off into hysterical tears.

I slide around the corner to find a small yogurt container which has been jimmied open by young fingers. A tiny portion of the contents had dripped onto the floor. And for some reason, a tablespoon of the mixture is rubbed into a pink mitten. Why the children have mittens in May is beyond me, and why they are wearing them to open yogurt containers is something that only a child of mine could justify.

Normally my drama queen daughters would NOT be crying relentlessly about spilled yogurt; or even notice they made a mess, but malay had ensued in the fullest degree. Without some sort of intervention, these young ones weren’t going to gain control.

After practicing some deep breathing exercises and various yoga poses to calm them down, their breathing returned to a natural pattern. I felt it was safe at this time to begin the interrogation process.

“So you wanted some yogurt for a snack? Good choice!” I smiled.

(They both nodded affirmatively, with lips quivering.)

Praising their efforts, I said, “Those yogurt lids are really hard to open, huh?”

(They repeated with the head nodding.)

I continued, “Boy, I hate it when yogurt spills on the floor, don’t you?”

“WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” Munchkin #1 started crying uncontrollably again.

Ah, crap! What did I say? It’s freaking yogurt!!

“Please don’t make us get rid of our favorite pink mittens. I don’t want to give them to kids who don’t have any!” wailed the oldest drama queen.

Sometimes when we lead by example to demonstrate kindness and goodwill, apparently it can backfire. I didn’t know this until that morning.

Perhaps I’ve have been donating too many clothes to good will lately.

Also, it might be a good time to start teaching them about the art of laundry.

Please join me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest to swap stories. I love hearing about other moms who have daily drama at home. Do your kids do OK with you donating items of theirs? Any tricks?


According to Kids I Have No Job


Do you dread going to work? Every Sunday night, do you curse the alarm clock, reminding you have 128 hours until you can clock out for the next weekend?

You aren’t alone. According to an October 2013 Forbes article, 13 percent of workers have a strong passion for their job and employer. A whopping 63 percent are unhappy and “putting little energy into their work.” And the remaining 24 percent of American employees are what the Gallup folks call hatin’ on their jobs.

With almost 90 percent of the country not enjoying their jobs, I didn’t feel so bad six years ago abandoning my career as a pediatric nurse. I desired to focus on raising my children, so I folded up my scrub pants and started folding footy pajamas.

It wasn’t until I dove into being a full-time stay-at-home mom that I discovered the “Mom Job” was harder than figuring out chemotherapy doses for kids. But I knew this was the right decision for me and relished the time I had to educate our kids the way my husband and I felt necessary.

So the other day, six years later, I overheard my eldest daughter telling my youngest, “What are you talking about?! Mom doesn’t have a job!”

That sucker punch knocked all the air right out of me. I knew my girl was only a third-grader, but I had been preaching equal rights for all women, teaching them about Gloria Steinem at an early age and how girls can do anything just as well as any boy.

Where did that information go? How loudly did I need to sing Helen Reddy’s song, “I am Woman” (hear me roar), to make a lasting impression? But what was I to think? My children thought I was lazy and unemployed.

I gently broached the subject, assuming that since they were young, maybe they hadn’t retained our previous conversations.

“Honey, did you say that I don’t have a job?” I asked, hiding any judgment.

With a no-nonsense look, she plainly stated, “Well, you don’t.”

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…

“Do you mean outside of my writing job?” I asked.

Then she took the dagger in my heart and twisted it back and forth. “That’s not a real job. You don’t go to an office.”

Not only did this child — who was quickly becoming my least favorite — say that my countless hours of writing don’t count, but I was also quite certain she didn’t consider “running our home” a job either.

I remained calm, but I’m sure my word pace quickened. “I do have an office, with office supplies and computers and filing cabinets. Just because I don’t have to put on pants to go to work, doesn’t mean I’m not working!”

“But that’s it,” she said. “You get to be on the computer all day. It’s not fair!”

Ah, the missing link! A mere misunderstanding. She sees being on the computer as being fun. Math and spelling games. Mindcraft and Candy Crush. Taking away the computer is the worst parenting crime ever, by most children’s standards.

I didn’t realize she wasn’t paying attention to what I was working on. Plus, I had a cuddly, sleeping kitten on my lap while working. Why wouldn’t she be jealous that I get to stay home with all that fun, while she has to go to school?

After ensuring that both my daughters understood what I did all day, including cleaning, making healthy food for their bellies, and washing clothing so they don’t reek like a bag of stale Fritos, I finally saw their perception of me change.

And don’t think I didn’t make them listen to the DVR recording of Patricia Arquette’s rousing speech on the Oscars. Thanks, Patricia, for reinforcing my teachings.

Way to roar!

What did you think of Patricia’s Oscar speech? Or her getting an Oscar at all?


The Many Stages of Parent Volunteers

“Excuse me. (tap, tap) Welcome, to the 2015 InsertAnyClubHere meeting. Before we start, I’m going to need a few parent volunteers.”

Crickets chirp.

“Where did everybody go?”

Does this scenario sound familiar? Whether it’s your child’s school, a society, your church/temple/synagogue, you have surely witnessed this battle of the wills.

As I see things, there are two types of people: “those who help” and “those who think they help, but are sorely incorrect.”

What is it with people not wanting to volunteer? I don’t know if you got the memo, but “not volunteering” is the new “thank you notes.” Gratitude is so last season.

I realize not everyone acts this way, so I don’t want to come across as bitter or cantankerous. But for those of you who are gracious and generous of your time, this rant is not aimed at you. However, those who rarely volunteer probably don’t give a rip and have moved on searching for something regarding their awesomeness.

Generally, in parenting the Volunteer Police start you off slowly. Volunteering is never expected of someone who has a newborn. Ever. We’ve all been there and feel your loss of free time and sleep.

The next stage is where it slowly starts. Careful when you announce your child is potty-trained. You will get that first call in 48 hours. Obviously, you have more free time since you aren’t always in the powder room. Plus, now you must have extra money since you gave up the diapers.

How about a big donation to the preschool carnival?

Most preschools require that you bring your child a snack. Sometimes it’s every day for just your child, or they take donations of bulk snacks and when the teacher runs out, she will ask for more contributions. This is the beginning of the end. You are now in the throes of the Volunteer Police until the day you die. Prepare for those parents who don’t “remember” to donate snacks to the classroom. They will be the same ones who remain on the “Too-Busy-for-You-List” through high school.

Seriously, life is so busy you don’t have time to pick up a jumbo-sized crate of Goldfish, while you are doing your weekly grocery shopping?

Now I realize not everyone can afford purchasing snacks for the entire class, so obviously you get a free pass. And I’m so sorry you are having a rough patch. But Ms. Lazy Britches needs to make a note, a list, or set a timer on her phone to pitch in a tad.

In grade school, the amount of things for which to volunteer increases tenfold. The children are not only in school all day – thus, requiring numerous parent volunteer requests – but many kids are in multiple extra-curricular events, which require each game: snacks, drinks, massages, throat cultures, pedicures…

If you boldly choose to get involved in PTO, you know that filling up your slots for volunteers is as much fun as a root canal. Or if you are the non-coveted position of Room Parent, you might as well plan on bringing backup treats for every party.

Even if you send out an email asking for the volunteers to acknowledge what they will be bringing, don’t expect to get more than a 10-percent return rate. Just pray the parent dropping the ball won’t be the one assigned to the sweet treats! I’ve personally seen that and the mayhem is NOT pretty.

So you might say, “But does it really matter if the kids don’t get all the snacks?” No, I don’t enjoy my kids running wild like they are on crack. But yes, it is a big deal that so many people expect to be catered to. If they don’t volunteer, some other sucker will cave in and do it.

It’s those flake’s own fault that they agree to everything.

Maybe you should go back to your Candy Crush marathon or balancing your business’s budget and let all the slacker stay-at-home moms take care of your kids?

It’s time for everyone to step up and join the volunteer game. What ever happened to the, “It takes a village” attitude? Afraid if you are weak and help out, forces will draw you in with their gratitude spell, make you sing Kumbaya, and add you to the PTO board?

Take a chance. Prove that you care.

You can always say “NO” when you have reached your limit. But you won’t know what your limit is if you don’t throw yourself into the game.

Any juicy PTO stories? Which group seems to be the worst at getting volunteers in your town?