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Elf on the Shelf? Hell to the No.

Okay, guys. I’m going to go ahead and preface by saying I’m no Scrooge and I am not bashing any of you parents who have gone the Elf on the Shelf route.  I think the actual little Elf, itself, is precious and I understand that the idea behind it is less so teaching kids proper behavior and more so good, festive fun.  This post is mostly targeted at myself and my inability to properly “mom”.  With that said…

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Mother of three boys and ruler of utter chaos, here.  I know most of you have 2+ children, are rulers of your own chaotic kingdoms, and are still able to fulfill your Elf Shelf duties.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of those time-management skills.  And while I love my boys and the insanity they bring (that’s a lie.  I am not a fan of the madness), I am the queen of absentmindedness.  Case in point:

I struggle to remember what needs to be put on my grocery list.  If I remember what needs to be written down, I forget to remember to put it in my purse.  And if I remember to put it in my bag, the list will, inevitably, somehow get left behind in my car.  And if, IF, that list actually makes it’s way into the grocery store, a breeze will steal it away in a last-ditch effort to give my attempt at organization the ultimate middle finger.

I left my phone at home Friday.  Actually, I thought I’d left it on the roof of my car and lost it to the great outdoors.  However, my husband was kind enough to send me a picture of it via messenger of it sitting on the bathtub.  Because that’s CLEARLY where it belongs.  (FACE. PALM.)  Once I finally retrieved it, I realized I’d forgotten my wallet at the office.  With my debit card, checkbook, and license in it.  And also, my Burt’s Bees which, obviously, is infinitely more important than say, MY LICENSE.

I forgot to take my keys out of the front door last night after I’d unlocked it to get my heathens inside.  After a frantic thirty minutes of searching for the “lost” keys the next morning, I found them on my way out said front door to search my vehicle.  Y’all.  I can’t make this crap up.

So do you guys really think I need to attempt to remember to move an elf every damned day of my life?  No?  I didn’t think so.

seriously?!  this would be part of their christmas gifts.  have y’all priced foil lately?!

Listen, I’m from a generation where we didn’t need a rogue North Pole spy to remind us to behave — especially during the holidays.  We fully relied on, and were totally okay with, being told once that Santa, an old man who knew our every flippin’ move, could see us 24/7.  We didn’t need to see that Christmas-y creepiness to believe it — our parents took full advantage of our fear and innocence stupidity.  Nothing was ever moved, there were no elaborate schemes, and mom didn’t have to bold-faced lie to us with an outrageous story-line about why an Elf had or hadn’t been moved because THERE WAS NO FREAKING ELF NARC.

As a product of the eighties, I distinctly remember belting Alvin & the Chipmunk’s version of, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on my Fisher-Price cassette player every day of my existence when I was a kid.  Yes, even then I was that obnoxious person who played Christmas songs on loop all year ’round.  There was no doubt in my mind that I risked “losing it all” if I didn’t get my act together.  My parents didn’t have to waste precious hours of sleep and ungodly amounts of aluminum foil to keep us in check.  The simple white-lie of Santa’s existence was enough to go on.

And I get it.  These days, kids literally (think they) need elaborate plots and twists and turns.  Most of these kids have everything on demand — and I’m not even talking about the bratty ones.  No, today is very much an on-demand kind of life.  So maybe the purest form of Christmas magic is simply fading into the background.  I remember the excitement of driving around neighborhoods just to look at lights and decorations.  These days?  That simple kind of happiness just doesn’t exist.  I can’t even say that my kids are ovely-excited at the prospect of light searching.  Sure, they love the festive twinkling of lights that only come once a year.  But does it thrill them?  Not the way it did when we were kids.  Now, if there aren’t a couple of inflated Nutcrackers in addition to the lights, it’s just… “meh”.

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I guess I’m just too old-fashioned, and too absent-minded, to fully appreciate the newness that is Elf on the Shelf.  Or, perhaps, I’m just stuck on the simpler magic.  The things that left me breathless.  The things that, growing up, I couldn’t wait to share with my own little ones.

I suppose, though, that traditions are fine but are sometimes meant to be broken or bent.  Not only that, traditions are best when they’re made or reinvented with the ones you love.  Rest assured, there is no hate for the Elf and his (or her) antics, and if y’all could package up some extra energy and Ginko Biloba and send it my way, that’d be swell.  😉

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Ten Ways Children Are Like the Government

Growing up, I was so blessed to have parents who not only discussed with us current events and political/moral beliefs, but who also allowed us to have our own opinions — no matter how laughable or illogical those opinions happened to be. The same could be said with their methodology of parenting, though; nothing was off-limits as far as discussing why things were the way they were. We didn’t have to agree with their standards, we just had to respect them. Having since grown up, I realize that we, as kids, did respect our parents for this — even though it wasn’t necessarily a conscious effort. We recognized from early ages the work and effort our parents put in to our raising and, even though we obviously saw them from a childlike standpoint, my siblings and I developed strong work ethics and values.

That said, we were kids and made mistakes. Our parents allowed us to make those mistakes and we knew fully that there would be varied degrees of consequences when those missteps were brought to light. A lot of these occurrences were brought to light by discussing with us similarly-happening current events/politics and the outcomes that came from the choices that had been put into motion. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for those life-lessons; it’s something that my husband and I are subsequently (attempting to) instill into our own children. Now with that said — the one thing my parents never fully explained to me that, sweet Lord, I wish they would have, was how BLOODY FRUSTRATING it would be to develop and mold our children into productive, decent, non-life-sucking individuals.

Y’ALL. I. CAN. NOT. EVEN.

What’s more, since becoming a parent and a more involved adult, it’s occurred to me how similar raising small children and sorting through political garbage tends to be. Seriously, it’s baffling. Is it because our children are politically geared and diplomatically minded? Anyone who has ever listened to an argument between two or more ankle-biters know that that’s not the case. No, it’s because politicians and their individual agendas have become so mundane and juvenile. Think back to the latest presidential election if you aren’t catching what I’m throwing. I couldn’t watch or listen to the debates half the time because of how much they sounded like my kids’ arguments. No joke, sometimes I replaced the words “foreign affairs” with “sneezed on my pizza” and the comparison was uncanny.

I’ve decided to share with you all my epiphany, so sit back and enjoy my list of “Ten Ways Children Are Like the Government”.

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  1. Someone is always watching you.
    Never was I so paranoid — until I had children. These days it’s a miracle if I’m not constantly looking over my shoulder. Forget about “Big Brother”; it’s “Tiny Terror” that you should really be worried about.
  2. They argue even when they know they’re wrong.
    I tell my husband regularly that if our kids don’t grow up to be successful lawyers I’m going to be pissed. Seriously, these kids would argue with Jesus. My two oldest boys argued recently over whether the name of breakfast was “banana blueberry pancakes” or “blueberry banana”. Facepalm, guys. Face. Palm.

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  3. There’s a lot of name-calling.
    Look, I could be okay with this part if the names being called were at least witty or came from a place of some intelligence. But no. My kids dig down deep and go low and it doesn’t even have to MAKE SENSE. That’s the worst part. My kids were both in tears the other day because they both called each other, “Mick McBootyFace”. I cannot make this shit up, y’all.
  4. Denial, denial, denial.
    A few days ago I walked into our bathroom to get something or other. I don’t remember what. But that’s not important. What is important, is that upon walking into our bathroom, I noticed my once white and turquoise bath mat was stained a gross shade of mud. Naturally, both suspects adamantly denied having even been near the bathroom. One even blamed his sleeping (infant!) brother. Not today, Satan!
  5. They’re wildly out of touch with reality.
    And I’m not just talking about the Santa & Tooth Fairy stories we pump into our kids. No, kids in general, like most politicians, have zero sense of time & zero sense of reality. Case in point: Connor said we bought our house for $50 and a four-wheeler trade. Gabe threw in that if there weren’t so many of us that we could have a DeLorean or a motorcycle with a sidecar. SAY WHAAAA? Adulthood is going to hit these kids hard.

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  6. You never have a shortage of bed partners.
    Okay, so at least the only thing I’m catching from my bed partners is an occasional black eye or the flu. Nevertheless, co-sleeping can be a beeyatch and I’ve got a dislocated shoulder to prove it.
  7. Whatever it is, it’s never their fault.
    Oh, sure. You might have witnessed your kid dump an entire gallon of milk onto the floor because he was attempting to impersonate Captain Underpants. But was it his fault? According to him, no. Why? Oh, it could be anything. The floor made him slip; his foot was itchy; he got too “into character”.
  8. Things aren’t always what they seem.
    It’s quiet in the house? They’re all “sleeping”? Think again. They know they’ve got you where they want you… and they’re coming for you. “He’s right behind me, isn’t he? HE’S GOT THAT WATER GUN AGAIN, DOESN’T HE?!”
  9. It’s all a big mess.
    Nobody is ever on the same page, we’re always running thirty minutes late, and we’ve misplaced homework or doctors’ excuses for the millionth time. Our house is clean, but only because our closets aren’t, and if we can distract you with something over-the-top to keep you from seeing what a shambles our lives are then, dang it, that’s what we’re going to do.

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  10. No one ever really knows what’s going on.
    We’re all just winging it, guys. Doing the best we can day by day. So long as everyone is fed, (fully) clothed, & dry shampooed, I can deal. Did we throw out the permission slip instead of the two-year-old water bill? Probably. Did I make a grocery list and leave it sitting on the kitchen counter (again)? You betcha. Are my kids going to need therapy in adulthood? Psh — I’m not paying for it.

I’m just trying to raise kids who won’t grow up to be entitled man-children. If they grow to be successful and happy, then I’ve done my job. If they end up being life-suckers? See numbers 4 & 7.

However, if they grow up to be politicians…. eh, can’t say I didn’t see it coming.

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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!