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5 Things I Wish I’d Known About Plumbing

Hey, y’all!  Sorry for the long absence; we’ve been battling bathroom plumbing issues the past week and tried to get a handle on them over the weekend.  Honestly, it’s been a long-time coming.  Our house is about 40-45 years old, and the previous owners did a rough job of “doctoring” the problems rather than properly fix them.  Nothing serious, but definitely a pain in the gluteus maximus.  One big problem we’ve been dealing with, especially recently, has been the bathroom plumbing.  None of it was installed correctly and totally half-assed.  The existing piping, according to our plumber, is likely as old as the house.  We decided to go ahead and get an estimate on what it would cost to re-pipe the entire house and, surprisingly, it isn’t awful.  Granted, we live in a small 1,350 sqft home.  Hopefully soon that will all be changed out, however, and we’re anticipating that the new works will at least slightly increase our home value.

Anyway, prior to calling a plumber my husband, dad, and I attempted to flush out the situation to attempt to save some cash.  I’m not currently working, so we’re on a pretty tight budget.  But, as luck almost always has it, we wound up spending twice as much on plumbing “band-aids” than we did on an actual plumber coming to fix our toilet disaster.  Lesson learned, ladies.  Occasionally, you may get lucky and be able to plunge or Drano the problem away.  But always, always, always stop after $30.  If thirty bucks ain’t solving shit, then an additional $20, $40, or $60 won’t, either.  HEED MY WARNING.  You are speaking to the queen of frugality, y’all.  When it comes to plumbing, tread lightly.  Which brings me to what I’m driving at today:

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1) Never, under any circumstances, pour grease down a drain.  This includes any type of grease and all drain types.  The damage won’t be instantaneous, but over time the fat and grease deposits collect and clog your system.  This can leave you with an overflow of sewage in your house.  Believe me, you don’t want that.  It may take 5, 10, or 15 years, but it’ll happen and it can be an expensive fix depending on whether you’re on septic tank or city sewage.  Don’t chance it.

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  • What to do instead: use a container (I use old detergent bottles) to catch the grease and a funnel (if necessary) to help direct it.  Wipe out any residue with a paper towel.  If any grease does get down the drain, pour some detergent that breaks down grease and hot water down the pipes to help further knock out the deposits.  Which brings me to….

2) Use a tough detergent.  Realistically, you can’t keep all the grease from escaping a pan or plate and going down the sink.  It’s gonna happen.  But, you can use a high-quality, non-store brand to help the eliminate any problems.  Again, I’m the Frugality Queen and I use a ton of store brand items, but dish detergent ain’t one of them.  I’ve even stopped using store brand and/or cheap laundry detergent due to the weird build-up they leave on my washer.  If it’s going down your plumbin’, make sure it’s properly suddin’.  You want your pipes as close to grime-free as possible.
3) On the opposite end of the toughness spectrum, you want to use something that easily degrades in the TP department.  Now listen, y’all.  I don’t mean use TP that don’t hold to blowing your nose, but it is SO important that you flush stuff that won’t clog or slowly disintegrate.  Our plumber recommends Scott or Angel Soft.  I’m not affiliated with either of those brands in a marketing sense, but I can tell you from experience that Angel Soft is where it’s at as far as being durable enough for a wipe but easily breaks down for pipes.  If you don’t use either of those brands, then be sure to follow-up monthly with toilet or plumbing enzymes such as Roto-Rooter.  In fact, Roto-Rooter has a toilet safe formula that is okay for those particular pipes.

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4) Invest in a good plumbing upkeep schedule.  Honest to God, this has really helped us keep BIG problems at bay.  There are all kinds of products that you can use to help things flowing well.  INVEST, INVEST, INVEST.  That bottle of Roto Rooter or Drano may cost $15, but fifteen bucks is a far cry from $1,500.  Again, been there — done that.  Looking for more of a green clean?  Check out Grove Collaborative for those options!
5) When in doubt, don’t flush it.  I’m not always 100% sold on “flushable” wet wipes and, as it turns out, neither are most plumbers.  Obviously you don’t want to stick other hygiene products, toys, etc., in the toilet, but sometimes crap happens.  You want to be prepared for the inevitable — especially if you have children or if you keep little incidentals around the facilities.  Lemme fill you in on a secret, guys: while it’s always good to have a normal vacuum, it’s also awesome to have a wet/dry ShopVac.  “What does this have to do with plumbing, Sarah?”  Well, I’ll tell you.  Having a ShopVac is freaking great for spills and floods.  Guess what it’s also good for?  Getting close-proximity clogs out of toilets.  Toys, stuck wet wipes, you name it — if it’s stuck within reach of an attached nozzle, you’re golden.  It’ll suck the lost item right out of there, no plumber needed.  BE CAREFUL not to push down on the object — you want the nozzle just close enough to pull whatever is stuck, out.  Bonus points: most ShopVacs have a reverse option.  Go outside or to a bathtub and let the vacuum do the rest (if using a tub make sure to have a drain catch installed so the object doesn’t relodge into another pipe).

Plumbing work is no fun and cleaning up water back-up is a nightmare.  Hopefully these five tips help you to have a better experience, whether you rent or own!

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Do you have any helpful plumbing tips?  Jot ’em down in the comments below!  I’m always game to add to my home-owner hack arsenal!

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What the Fork

Lately, we have been experiencing a shortage of silverware — forks, in particular.  We’ve an abundance of butter knives and spoons, but the forks?  Pftttt.  They have gone amiss.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, there is no chore I hate more than standing at a sink washing dishes.  So naturally, I decided to get to the bottom of the matter recently when I washed the same four utensils three times over the course of the day.  My Nancy Drew sleuthing brought me to this conclusion: my kids, upon scraping their plates, are also discarding our flipping forks.  Why?  Because they’re imps and they hate me.

Okay, so that’s a little dramatic.  Really, it’s because they’re children and they are not paying attention.  Nevertheless, we’re down to four pieces of this particular kind of utensil and I can’t deal.

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“Geez, just go buy some more forks, Sarah”, you might be thinking.  Ah, but it isn’t that simple.  You see, we’re a bunch of weirdos, and weirdos have to use specific eating apparatuses.  These things can be neither too thin nor too bulky, too plain nor too ornate.  They cannot be easily bent (read: husbands) nor can they be too hard too manipulate (read: kiddos).  The silverware set that I purchased a few years back was PERFECT.  The weight wasn’t off (tell me that’s not important — I dare you) and the handles were the perfect thickness.  Bonus: it was bought at Target for $19.99.  In short: this set was EVERYTHING.  And guess what?  They’ve discontinued that line.  Because why the hell not.

I’m the kind of person who has eleventy-hundred movies and/or series on her Netflix cue but only watches the same five or six that never let her down.  So, of course, I’m going to keep nose-diving into my first world problems and get all stupid over forks.  Obviously, I will eventually have to purchase another set.  And if Target would get it together and re-instate this particular set, then I’d be ready and raring to go.  But nooo.

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Don’t worry, y’all — I’m not nearly as on myself as I sound; most of the above has been said in jest.  But honestly, while most decor and utensil options come to me pretty naturally, this whole fork/spoon/knife thing has me frustrated.  I’ve looked at several options and I cannot find any that aren’t either A) over-the-top expensive or, B) something everyone will like.  My husband isn’t a particularly big guy, but he has big hands and doesn’t like to use small utensils.  My kids I’m not so worried about as I’ve recently bought them some colored, plastic tableware that I won’t flip my lid over when and if they’re accidentally thrown out.  I, myself, don’t care so much about the size as I do the thickness; I don’t like using anything bulky.  So here’s my question, dear readers: what brands are you using and what are the pros/cons of your favorite utensils?  I know I’m not the only one here who agonizes over tableware, so dish (pun absolutely intended).

I suppose I should be relieved that they aren’t throwing away entire dishes, although a few weeks ago a very bleary-eyed Connor nearly chucked his bowl that he’d been eating oatmeal out of.  He realized his error before I even got the chance to say anything, however, and begrudgingly grabbed it out of the trashcan.  “Ugh, mom”, he said.  “Why’d you let me do that?!”, he asked.

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“Because why the hell not”, I mentally argued.  “Why the hell not?!”

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Running + Screaming

Hey, y’all. Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. The days are long, but the years weeks are short, ya know? The boys started back to school in mid-August and we’ve been busy acclimating to the newness of kindergarten and fourth grade. Connor has situated nicely to kindergarten and, to be honest, I was totally surprised. Pre-k was kind of overwhelming for him on a social scale and I kind of figured he’d have similar issues this year. Much to my relief, he loves school and learning which makes life that much easier.

Gabe has entered into fourth grade. Our school and the teachers there are awesome, so lemme just preface with that. The homework given is in-line with their lessons and we parents are provided with resources so that we can adequately assist our kids. I’m a firm believer in homework for kiddos like Gabe, anyway, who are super bright but need consistency and repetition in order to make the grade. But y’all — this. kid. is. KILLING. me. We’re exactly three weeks in and I’d be lyin’ if I said I didn’t have an early nightcap last night (and I still had to treadmill once the kids were asleep).

This is not a new issue for us. Connor is a bit of a class clown but academically on-point, whereas Gabe is exactly the opposite. He’s well-behaved and well-mannered.  But when it comes to schoolwork?  LAWD HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS.  Can he do the work? Abso-freaking-lutely. The problem is that he doesn’t want to do the work. It’s boring for him and, if I’m being honest, a bit tedious. His double whammy of sensory processing disorder and ADHD has his focus all over God’s green earth. I totally get how that can be problematic for him (he’s a mini me if ever there was one) but I also get, from experience, that if he would just push through he could be UNSTOPPABLE. Y’all, this kid is no Billy Madison, but getting him from points “A” to “B” is a flipping chore.

I know you guys have seen this meme floating around the interwebs:

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And, yeah. This is pretty much totally accurate. But the hidden backstory here (I’m speculating, anyway) is that this was said by a mom who was on her fourth glass of red wine who just went straight T-Rex on her math-hating prey, er, kid. Again, speaking from experience here. We literally wrapped up his three items of homework, like, thirty minutes before bedtime. To sum that up, he gets out of school at 3:30. We got home at 3:40 and started homework at 4:00. He finished homework at 8:00 o’flipping clock. Gabe still had to eat dinner, brush his teeth, and shower. Yeah… he showered this morning because at 9:23 last night he was an hour past bedtime.

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Now, bear in mind — those four, LOONNGG hours were not spent strictly completing homework.  Lemme break it down for ya like a fraction:

4:15-5:45 — Gabe takes multiple bathroom breaks during which time he forms a one-man search party whose job is to locate — wait for it — his old toothbrush which was stamped with Elmo.  (Side note: he has not had that toothbrush since he was three years old.)

5:46-6:46(ish) — Me alternating face-palms of increased intensity and bellowed, “OH, COME ON” mental breakdowns, featuring the upbeat sounds of pencils being sharpened twenty-eleven times.

6:47-8:00 — This is the time slot in which the homework was actually done, but only by threat of Lego-tossing.  I managed to sneak into the pantry to stress eat an Atkins peanut butter cup and check out Google Maps to see how far away Timbuktu is from our dining room.  Checking for a friend.

8:15-8:45 — Our Tyson chicken patty sandwich dinner of champions was served.  The boys proceeded to argue over condiments.  I finally snapped and ordered absolute silence lest they sleep on the deck in sleeping bags.  All the wine is gone.

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Three weeks ago Gabe was excited to be back at school.  I, stupidly, thought things would go off without a hitch.  “He’s growing up!”, I said.

Two weeks ago Gabe mildly complained about having to write a paragraph.  He did it, but it took a little longer than necessary.  I was okay with it — fourth grade is a whole new ballgame.  No worries — he’ll get there.  His paragraph was well written, which sparked hope.

Last week he “didn’t need to study the science words” because he, “knows that a delta is rock broken down by erosion”.  I’M SORRY, SAY WHAT??

This week I’m bracing myself.  This week I’m gonna pray my way through the car rider lane and all the way home.  This week I’m going to look into those crystals that you chant to in order to prevent pre-mediated thought processes.

This week.  This week I’mma be a homework survivor in the land of Terdassic Park.

Fire up the grill!

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10 Things I’ve Said to My Children in Walmart

As we grow older, we develop life stories.  Some parts of these stories are light-hearted and fun.  Other chapters are dark and gloomy.  Some are just “meh”; you know what I mean — we all wander out of the “wonder years” and straight into the “not-even-using-dry-shampoo-give-a-damn’s-busted”- ‘meh’ phase.  It happens to the best of us — don’t knock ya’self.  If you’re a parent, at least one and a half of those chapters take place at the grocery store.  If you’re an unlucky parent, that grocery store just so happens to be WalMart.

Now, look — if any of you are employees of WalMart, I’m not hating on your workplace (much).  WalMart is a necessary evil.  A necessary evil that I should be a stockholder of, but I digress.

Point being, we all hold our own dialogue, with our own children, from our own personal experiences in the aisles and check-out lanes of various markets.  My kids are generally well behaved in public.  Sure, they get rowdy on occasion and sometimes I threaten to leave them in the frozen food aisle (“WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS, RANDOM HEATHEN?!”), but usually, the most damage that is ever done is me having to say really. weird. SHIT.  No, Classy Cathy; I don’t mean stuff.  I mean SHIT.  I have said some seriously off-the-wall, where-in-the-world-did-that-come-from crap.  And if you have ever had to run into the grocery with your children for, “Just eggs!” and you come out with everything but eggs, then you know my grief.

With that said, I’ve compiled a Top Ten list of my personal favorite “WTF?!” WalMart moments with my kids.

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10. You don’t have to have a new toy every time we come to the store.  Yes, that includes the poo emoji beanbag chair.
09. STOP POKING THE CHICKEN.
08. I don’t care if this is only WalMart and not Target, quit farting on your brother.
07. Quit staring at the bras.  You’re right — I don’t have a tiger striped bra.  Oh, I’m sure dad would laugh, alright.

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06. You know, they throw kids in WalMart jail for eating grapes that haven’t been purchased.  Don’t think I won’t let them keep you, either.
05. Yes, I see that she is wearing her pajamas.  No, you may not wear your pajamas next time.
04. Are you lic– WHY ARE YOU LICKING THE BUGGY?!

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03. No, you may not scan the baby’s butt.  Why?!  Because we’ve already paid for him, that’s why.
02. GET OUT OF THE FREEZER.
01. Go get in the car. Go GET in the CARGET IN THE CARRRRRRR.

All of the above was said in one shopping trip.  Last week.  The final week of summer.  Y’all, Connor started kindergarten today.  Do you know what that means?!  That means I get to go grocery shopping, nay, to WALMART, alone.  Unincumbered.  In (relative) silence.  There will be wine and dancing in the aisles and I don’t care who stares!

I hope I’m not alone in most of these (and seriously doubt that I am) and also hope you’ll comment below with your own grocery shopping proclamations and weirdness.  Like what you’ve read?  Hit the links below to follow me and subscribe for email notifications!

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Poop & Circumstance

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” – Mary Poppins

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There’s a reason her name wasn’t Mary Poopins, y’all, and clearly, she never had to deal with one of Jane or Michael’s poop diapers. Sometimes there simply isn’t a big enough spoonful of sugar to make those BM explosions go away.

You’ll find a common theme in my posts among the rest of my Disney references that involve Miss Poppins. Girl had it going on, y’all, and I’d kill for that bag (in an updated fabric, of course). But, as is characteristic of opinions, I have to disagree with one of my favorite fictional characters on her “element of fun” mantra. I just can’t see myself gettin’ jiggy with a poop disaster. Sorry, lady — “A” for effort!

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I’m not necessarily complaining about diaper changes, guys. It comes with the territory, after all, and truth be told I’d rather deal with having to hose my kid down than having a little one with constipation issues. On that note, however, a spoonful of sugar ain’t gonna help that issue, either.

Being a mom of three, I feel like I can confidently say I’ve seen my fair share of different tummy and booty-cover nightmares. All three of my guys have had varied tummy issues, all of which have been a chore to sort out. Gabe was lactose intolerant until pre-k and, thankfully, we figured that out relatively quickly. He took to almond milk products really well and still likes them even now. Connor was my easiest to figure out as far as gastrointestinal fun goes, but even now his tummy can’t hold much of anything which leaves him as a “grazer”; no lie, it takes him an hour to eat dinner — or anything, for that matter — and even then he becomes full quickly. Mason has occasional bouts of constipation, which can be normal for his age, but Lord when he is experiencing constipation it’s a doozy. He has been harder to figure out as far as formula goes because he also deals with moderate acid reflux from time-to-time.

When he hit six months he was able to begin eating small amounts of whole milk yogurt. I bought a brand that I’d been eyeing since he was a newborn and was so excited to give it a go. I was a little nervous giving it to him as sometimes yogurt can be a little sour, but I was determined to try it anyway and hopeful that it would grow on him eventually. As luck would have it, he loved it and, bonus!, his tummy loves it, as well. The probiotics in HappyFamilyOrganics have done wonders with helping regulate his digestive system and the taste is absolutely on point. They aren’t limited to just yogurt for babies though, guys! Their products begin with mommas (breastfeeding bars!), and move on to babies, toddlers, and kiddos!

Listen, I’m in no way getting paid or otherwise reimbursed for my opinions. This may be a no-no in the blogosphere, but I just really felt like other moms and dads out there might need a recharge for baby tummies. I sure did! You all should also note that this product is being used in addition to small amounts of gripe water (when needed!). I try really hard not to give in to gas drops and gripe water unless absolutely necessary, although neither hurt him (gripe water is 100% natural! — here is the brand we use for drops and GW).

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I’ll be so glad once we are all finally past the baby tummy ache stage — I hate it when they hurt! But I am relieved to know that there are products out there that help keep everything moving as they should. What are some remedies or products you use or have used? Hit me up! Like this post? Sharing is caring!

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What is This “Effortless” You Speak Of?

What is with all of these “effortless” families I’m seeing on Instagram lately? Like, seriously. There is no way on Earth that you always look like you’re ready for an impromptu photo shoot.

I mean, we get it. You like for everyone to think that you have it all together as though you’ve stepped out from the pages of a Nordstrom catalog. And it really helps brand your creative image. But just like those effortless buns, that, again, let’s face it, we all know took you 2 hours and a 1/2 a can of dry shampoo to put together, we know all about the righteous chaos that is your life. Why? Oh, honey. Because we’re there, too.

Embrace it. Accept it. Life with children, although a wonderful thought, is not a fanciful, whimsical world. It is chaotic, loud, and often a muddy mess. Even Princess Kate has her off-days — even though, thanks to royal protocol, her kiddos kind of have to always look put-together. But don’t be fooled! She’s definitely the kind of mom I’d want to have triple shot mimosas with.

Listen, I’m not mom shaming or even being judgmental. I’d love to be “that mom” who color coordinates with her kids and has matching (but not matchy-matchy) tee shirts. I’d also love for my own messy-yet-effortless bun to be less Miss Trunchbull and more sexy, exotic Pinterest board, but that’s just not my life. But I digress. Like I said, I’m not mom shaming. I’m inviting you to the ease of letting kids pick out their own outfits (within reason and season), pull on some leggings, and come sit amongst my laundry pile fort and have a margarita with me. It’s five o’clock somewhere, and even if it isn’t I’ll toast up some frozen waffles and we’ll call it brunch.

You can go back to your regularly scheduled programming of fake-it-or-make-it after you’ve ugly cried and even uglier laughed during a Boy Meets World/chips and salsa marathon if you want. I won’t mind. But come sit with us hot mess moms for a second. You may hate it — but I’m betting you won’t.

Just a heads up — we wear pink on Wednesdays. But only because Karen left a red sock in with her whites a few weeks back and, well, we still haven’t beaten that joke to death yet.

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The Safeword is “Paw Patrol”

“I need you,” he sighs.

Don’t lock your doors and switch your browser to Incognito yet, y’all.  It’s just my four-year-old on the other side of the bathroom door, needing me to poke a straw in his millionth juice box.

It’s an age-old story that we moms know all too well.  I’m sure if you go back in obscure history you’d see that even the cave-mommas were subjected to their offspring rushing to the designated toilet-tree just to ask if they could ride the family sabertooth.  Nevermind that cave-daddy was sitting on a nearby rock, scratching his backside and watching grass grow.  Because, obviously, mom grunts, “YES, GET OUT OF MY FACE,” BETTER.

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To be honest, I’m not really sure where to place the bathroom creeper blame.  Is it my fault for dragging their baby swing into the bathroom with me just so I could shower when they were small?  Is it the obligatory, “Herd all the children into the bathroom so they don’t flood the joint” mentality?  Actually, that second one is pretty legit.  They’ve both been known to flood bathrooms.  THANKS, KIDS.

Lately, I blame my eight-year-old who has become an expert bathroom lock picker.  No, he’s not creepin’ on people who are using the facilities.  He only does it to me and only when Connor has been whining for 2+ minutes about aforementioned juice boxes — or anything else, for that matter.  “Moooom.  He just won’t quit whiniiiing,” he, himself, whines.  But that’s another post for another day.

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In the way of motherhood privacy, there is no such thing as “privacy”.  The only me time I get these days is when a child’s nose is pressed into the corner of our bathroom or a fitting room.  “If they can’t see me, I can’t see them.”  (Yes, I know that’s not the saying and, yes, I know that doesn’t actually work.  But I’m doin’ what I got to do.)  For the past approaching nine years, I have been watched closer than a Russian spy.  My kids know no boundaries, and if one of them doesn’t one day have a career in the FBI, then I’ll be sorely disappointed steamed.

I don’t know when bathroom visitation ends, but I’m not seeing a clear end in sight.  I’ve got minimally four years left (Mason) until my privacy probation ends with no chance of parole.  What I don’t understand is why this glorious potty booty call doesn’t happen to my husband.  IT NEVER HAPPENS TO HIM.  No one ever busts up in the bathroom when homeboy is taking a shower.  No one slides notes under the door for him asking when he’ll be done.  No one goes in full Kramer-style with a mango and the TV remote asking for a hamburger (that actually happened).  They leave him the hell alone.  There have been no threats issued.  No discussion.  They just… leave him to his devices (read: cell phone).

I gave birth to these children.  My dignity has long since gone down the toilet.  My body has gone to crap.  My patience has been washed down the drain.  AND I JUST WANT TO URINATE IN PEACE, DAMNIT.

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“Safeword is, ‘Paw Patrol’,” she mumbles to herself, as she zips up her pants and shuffles, defeated, to the living room.