Weekly Update

I used the Konmari Method on My House: Here’s What Happened

One fateful day, I listen to Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up” on Audible at 8.5x normal speed. I finish in 5 minutes and find myself inspired to experience the magic of tidying up. I wipe my Cheeto-dusted fingers on the white carpet and order a dumpster.

Marie Kondo instructs that I should start by imagining my ideal lifestyle.

I shut my eyes and imagine I live in a cabin in the mountains. BY MYSELF. I think about the fresh air, the tranquil views, and no toys underfoot. It is so peaceful in this imaginary world. A dimpled finger attempts to pry my eyelid open. “Mommy! Are you dead?”

“No,” I reply, “Not yet.”

Now that I have my ideal lifestyle in mind, I am to declutter by category, not by room.

Instead of going room by room, Marie Kondo recommends gathering all of my clothes/pencils/diapers/etc., putting them in a pile, and then deciding what to keep.

I start with clothes, taking my wheelbarrow from closet to closet, I grab all of the clothes. My job is made easier by the fact that 98% of the clothes are on the floor. Then, I visit the laundry room and gather all of the clothes that permanently hang on the rack, the ones that will never be brought back to their closets. I gather the stiff washcloths from the bathtub floor, the underwear my daughter put on all of her stuffed animals, and the dust-coated socks from behind the dryer. 

With that, I think I have everything.

I return to my bedroom to continue my task, to find that the room is floor-to-ceiling full. I realize I am in deep trouble.

I review the instructions. “Pick up each item one at a time. Ask yourself if it sparks joy – you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising. If it does, keep it! If it doesn’t, let it go with gratitude.”

I look at the room. The cells in my body sink. 

I don’t know what happens next- I think I black out. When I regain consciousness, I find myself standing in our backyard. The clothes somehow made it into a large pile outside. I stand with propane in one hand and matches in the other.

I watch as a lit match leaves my hand, sailing toward the clothes. I guess I’ve decided to let everything go with gratitude.

And then it happens. Joy is sparked.

I watch the flames climb, elated that I will never have to do another load of laundry. I am addicted to this decluttering. I must find more things.

I grab my leaf blower, run inside, and blow all the tiny plastic Barbie pieces off the floor, out the front door, and directly into the fire. “But what about Barbie’s juice box?” my four-year-old wails, “How could you?” “Have you seen Barbie’s stomach?” I ask, “She only eats kale. She doesn’t waste calories on juice. And besides, I already burned her. She’s gone.”

I watched gleefully as the Barbies’ faces contort and melt, as my never used yoga mat goes up in flames, and the wall art I planned to hang for the past ten years disappear. I ask my husband’s bobblehead collection if they’d like to join the fun. They nod their heads.

I shovel off our countertops and deposit the contents directly into the flames. My husband’s face turns white. “But what about the bill for the doctor that sat on the counter for the past year? Shouldn’t we keep it on the counter for another year? 

I grab the foam roller that I had planned to use but forgot to exercise. My four-year-old blocks my path, “I use that to roll out my stomach!”

“I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to do that,” I say, “but that could explain why you are never constipated. We should take that idea to Shark Tank.”

I’ve done good work, but I could do better. The more I watch things go up in flames, the more the cells in my body rise. 

And that’s how I find myself on the lawn, throwing a lit match onto my house that I had doused in propane. I hug my kids and husband tight and watch as it burns down. No more toilets to clean. No more smudgy glass shower doors.

There is no need to fret about future loads of laundry that I will always be behind on. All of our clothes are gone. We are naked.

Joy has been sparked. Marie Kondo? She had it right.

Her book changed my life. 


Straight from the Mouth of a 4 Year Old

I thought about writing a flowery post for Alice’s birthday, but that would do us all a disservice. Instead, I invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy Alice’s best quotes of the year:

Alice Advice

“Dad, it’s a little foggy out, so do your best” – to Chad while driving through rain


“Drive slow, but be a little fast”

Alice Compliments

These Dino nuggets taste great! Last time you made them, they tasted like markers.


After zooming in on a picture of my face “I have hair in my nose too, mom.”


Why I have body image issues: “You have a hot dog booty and a pig face and pig legs”

Alice Logic

Alice saw me looking at a picture of newborn babies on Facebook. And she said, “are you gonna buy a baby or adopt a baby?”


To her friend: did you know the sun could explode and everyone on earth would die?


Me: Mommy is probably a little more grumpy than daddy.

Alice: more like a lot more. 


Chad: hey girls, what does that cotton candy look like?

Alice: uh, moms hair?


Avery: What’s better than cookies?

Alice: Grandma!

Avery: what’s better than grandma?

Alice: nothing!


“If I was going to play hockey, I would go and sit on that spot where they rest (the bench) for the whole game.”


“You can never have too much stuff!” 


I have two friends named Gracie. One is named Gracie and one is named Gracie.


Does anyone know which way your hands are supposed to go?

*Flips hands back and forth.

I like this way (palms down)- it’s my useful hand way.


It’s hard to take care of 2 girls without a husband, right mom? (When Chad traveled for 2 days)


“Everyone who comes to my birthday has to dress up as a star nose” 

Me: What’s a star nose?

“A kind of mole. And I will dress up as Wonder Woman”


“I’m just an ordinary girl” (when explaining why she couldn’t try clam chowder)


I can eat when I’m baking because I can eat with one hand and bake with the other. (MY GIRL!)


I only have a few cries left, but they are really loud ones


Mom! My left eye can’t fall asleep!


“I thought it was markers, but now I know it’s my veins” (on the blue vein lines on her arms)


An overheard bathroom conversation: “Maybe some of your alveoli dripped into your poop.”


Alice: Siri is part of God

Me: No, Siri is not part of god. Why do you think that?

Alice: Because, Siri is always telling us where to go. 


Me: Why don’t you put noses on the people you draw?

“Because, I like them that way and they look happier. “

Alice Weirdness

After blowing her nose: “did you see the smoke come out?”


“It looks like a dead elephant squirting out his last water.” (Re: what a cloud looked like)


“I have a video of her dying in the lava”- about the dead Barbie sister

Alice Anger

Get out of my room before I get to zero! *Speed counts from ten to zero


“You’re not doing good as a mom if you are making us cry.”


I have a case of the mean wiggles. I need someone or something to be mean to!


Mad at Chad.

Me: should we put him in jail?

Alice: no! I want to put him in a cage!


Go! Get out of here! Never return a-gain!


I don’t forget treats. (After I ate her fruit roll-up, thinking she forgot about it)


You wasted my time. The teacher said I had to eat all my healthy food before I could eat my cookies. There was too much healthy food!

Alice Learns

Avery: are they teaching you numbers in school?

Alice: no, they just teach us letters and how to use knives.


“They are teaching me Spanish at preschool. “Gracias” means hello, and “see you later alligator” means goodbye “


When telling me that they didn’t get to play on the playground today: “I wonder if the termites are back.”


“China is real?!”


“Mom, do people get sick from other people?”

Me: Yes

“Then what made the first person sick?”


Church singer: the hand of the Lord will feed you

Alice: the ANT of the Lord??

Alice Cuteness

“When you get to heaven, can you ask God if he can send you back to earth for me?”


“Thank you for this beautiful world.” @bedtime prayers 


We gotta wait until it smells just like Grandmeres tomatoes (on when to pick a tomato) 


Me: do you want French toast?

Alice: only with syrup, I declare 


At whiskey tasting before every shot- whispered into my ear: “You’re going to wuv it”


What are you doing Alice?

“Causing a ruckus!” 


“I’m drawing a picture of our family. Aves, what color human do you want to be?”


“Will you still be my mudder when I’m 10?”


I’m fast, mom. I’m not a slowpoke junior 


Happy Birthday, Alice Jane! We sure love you.


Weekly Update

Stomach Ball

Here is another writing assignment from my class: sharing a childhood memory. Enjoy!

I clearly remember the first time I performed brain surgery. The patient had thick blonde hair, but it only grew around the perimeter of her head, leaving an open patch of her scalp. This meant that no shaving was required before the operation. Convenient, because my mom didn’t let me borrow her razor, and the sharpest tool I owned was safety scissors.

My patient, Sally, required no sedatives. Her blue eyes were wide open with fixed pupils; typically an ominous sign, but not when your patient is a Cabbage Patch Doll.

I’m sure you have questions about a five-year-old brain surgeon.

  1. No, I wasn’t allowed to have a scalpel, so I used a red pen instead. It was handy because it left a red trail of blood.
  2. My knowledge of the brain was essentially nothing, but I did have a great “Body Atlas” book that I referenced during operations. And yes, this is the same book that inspired me to draw anatomically correct naked bodies on our driveway in chalk. While my dad seemed impressed by the detail, he hosed them off the driveway immediately.
  3. Finally, to answer your burning question: the head of a Cabbage Patch Doll was too hard to cut through with my red pen scalpel, so there was a lot of imagination involved in these operations.

I finished up operating just in time to say goodbye to my oldest sister, Rachel, who was off to the Science Museum for a birthday trip with no siblings.

Was I jealous? Maybe, but there were other important things to be done: collecting acorns, drawing brain tumors, snooping.

The afternoon passed and Rachel returned home, toting in a little white bag, her gift shop purchase. Inside? Stomach ball.

I was enraptured, but of course, I was simply a peon in her rule of the house. I would not be allowed to touch this precious object.

Hold up, you don’t know what stomach balls are?

I’m sorry. I thought everyone knew.

The stomach ball was about the size of a baseball, and squishy, like a stress ball. It was clear, and inside were the stomach and intestines, bathed in green goop. It made a lovely noise whenever it was squeezed, the same gurgle you might hear from your stomach right before encountering explosive diarrhea.

When Rachel was not around, I would find it and squeeze it between my fingers, organs oozing out between my thumb and forefinger. I was intrigued by the intestines. What were they made of? How were they so squishy? I wondered what they felt like.

They looked lonely. No one wants to be stuck in a clear ball. Except for hamsters, hamsters do seem to enjoy it.

How, I wondered, could this problem be solved?

Red pen scalpel poked me through my pocket.

My brain ticked. Neurons fired. A lightbulb appeared.

My brain surgeries on Sally had never gotten far because her skull was too hard. Also because my parents didn’t give me a scalpel. But stomach ball? Oh, stomach ball was teeming with opportunity.

My fingers itched. While Rachel was practicing piano, a mandatory 30 minutes, I snuck into her bedroom and snatched stomach ball from the shelf.

I pulled out my scalpel and attempted to make an incision. But the ball was too squishy and morphed around the pen, unwilling to pop.

Dang, these red pen scalpels. Worthless. The wheels in my brain turned.

A kitchen knife? No, I couldn’t reach them.

The saw in the garage? Too violent. I did not want to maim the intestines in the process of extracting them. This was not “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

I needed something heavy.

I happened to know that beds are heavy because when I tried to run away, Rachel had helped me tie mine up so I could bring it with me. She was a kind one, that Rachel.

I lifted the mattress and slid stomach ball underneath, planting my 40-pound self on top, envisioning the ball bursting open, intestines oozing out.

I peeked under the mattress. Nothing. Stomach ball remained intact.

I found my sister Amelia and explained I needed help. This was a risk. Amelia was holy. She liked to play “nun.” I was not sure if she could be tempted.  

But it turns out Amelia is the kind of sister who is there when you need to pop stomach balls. She agreed; I needed more weight on the mattress. We both hopped atop the bed.

I remember laughing as we bounced, wicked grins plastered across our faces, sure our evil plan would work.

For a minute, we forgot about stomach ball and gleefully jumped on the bed. But I couldn’t be distracted for long; this was, after all, a pivotal moment in my life.

Carefully, we lifted the mattress. I pulled out stomach ball and examined it.

Sure enough, our plan had worked. There was a hole. I squeezed some of the green goo out and prepared to extract the intestines.

I was caught in the glory of the moment and hadn’t heard the kitchen buzzer go off, marking the end of piano practice.

Suddenly, the door barged open. Rachel stood in the doorway. Her steely eyes darted around the room. Scalpel. Stomach ball. Wicked grins.




Rachel ratted on us and our mom threw the stomach ball away. Rachel was devastated at the loss of stomach ball; I was devastated that I never found out what the intestines felt like.

Thirteen years later I went to college, and learned that skulls aren’t opened with scalpels; they are opened with saws. I got to touch real intestines; though the formaldehyde was overpowering and it was an anticlimactic moment.

Medicine, as it turns out, was a lot more fun when I was a kid.


Parenting Simulation Activities

So, you’re pregnant. Congrats! Now what? Here is a comprehensive list of activities you can do to practice parenting skills:

  1. Get up every two hours at night. Pull your boob out of your shirt or mix a bottle of formula. Watch horrible TV for 20 minutes while feeding your imaginary baby. Put baby back to bed. 3 minutes later, get out of bed. Try to sooth imaginary baby. Repeat x 20.   
  2. Rub melted chocolate into half of your baby outfits. Attempt to get the stain out. *In this simulation you are not allowed to eat the chocolate off of the outfit. That would be a fatal mistake in the real parenting world.
  3. Practice feeding baby food to a rock. Or a rabid dog. Both would be similar to what you will experience.
  4. Have someone scatter goldfish across your floor every day. Make sure they put them all over the house and in obscure locations. Then step on them or rub them into the carpet.
  5. When you go grocery shopping, throw one item out of your cart every 30 seconds. Pick it up. Put it back in cart. Repeat.
  6. Take $1,500 and throw it in the garbage. That’s to simulate paying for diapers.
  7. While eating dinner, wait 5 minutes between every bite of food you take. Sometimes for fun you can take 1 bite, pause for 30 minutes, and then return to your meal. At this point you can take 5 bites. But then your imaginary baby will wake up. Throw the rest of your meal away.
  8. Take a class on negotiating with terrorists.
  9. Have someone ask you the same question over and over for one hour straight.
  10. Before you leave the house, run up and down your stairs 10 times. Spend 10 minutes searching for a “lost” item. Put a coat on your cat. Try to herd the cat into the car. Once cat is in car, attempt to buckle into the car seat.
  11. Do laundry for your entire neighborhood.
  12. Bring a puppy to a restaurant. Make it sit in the high chair for the entire meal.
  13. Have someone interrupt every sentence you speak for the next 5 years.
  14. Sit in a rocking chair and rock for 24 hours straight. This will simulate length of time it takes to get baby to sleep and keep them asleep.
  15. Stop using half of your dishwasher to simulate amount of space required for baby bottles and baby things.
  16. Have hide 50 pacifiers throughout the house. Set an alarm for 3am. When it goes off, you must find one of the pacifiers in the dark. Alarms should also be set for 4am, 4:20am, 5am, and 6am. You must find a different pacifier at each of these time points.
  17. Every time you take a picture (of a person, place or thing), say “smile!” (while obnoxiously smiling yourself) at least 15 times before each picture. Take at least 100 pictures to try to capture one where your desired object is smiling.
  18. Shake a whole box of lucky charms into your car- make sure to get in the crevices.
  19. Sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” every time you are in the car for the whole car ride.
  20. Have someone respond “No” to you every time you ask them a question.  

I’d love to hear your own ideas!


Weekly Update

“Do Not Fill With Alcohol”

I write this after returning from a five hour stint at the pool with Avery and Alice. It was a relaxing morning, and the girls would have continued to play for many more hours had Alice not yelled, “Mom! I’m pooping in the pool!” (Disclaimer 1: she was wearing a pool diaper. Disclaimer 2: pool was full of adults who did not know this.)

We are currently at a PGA golf resort in Palm Beach, FL for a vacation while Chad plays in a nationals tournament. Palm Beach is on the East coast, almost directly across from where we live. It was a 2.5 hour drive across the Everglades/ Big Cypress National Preserve. Each side of the highway is fenced in, which we speculate is in place to keep the gators and snakes off the road. Chad asked me how long I would survive if I got stranded in the Everglades. I told him I would probably only last a day. “What would kill you?” he asked. “Starvation,” I replied. He smiled, “Do you know that most people can survive over a week without food?” Not me. I need food every 4 hours.

Chad is in his glory, golfing every day. I am enjoying being surrounded by like-minded golf widows while lounging at the pool. We will be here for a week and then return back “home” to Estero, FL.

Avery and Alice are turning into fishies and it has been so fun to watch them learn to swim. I think Avery will be swimming within a month or so- she’s doing great with kicking, paddling, blowing bubbles, and she’s starting to put her face in the water. Alice likes floating around in her life jacket and has become very proficient at paddling wherever she wants to go. Despite SO MUCH SUNSCREEN, we’ve all turned a few shades darker.

Other things to report on prior to this trip:

  • Our AC has been malfunctioning for about a week. It’s not completely broken but it keeps the house between 76-78 degrees. Apparently it is some rare problem that two different AC guys have never seen before. A part has been ordered & hopefully will be fixed soon. We are very appreciative of the fact that we are renting and this is not our financial problem.
  • Alice is becoming quite the chatty Kathy. While waiting for Chad the other day, she plopped down on the floor and remarked, “I’m just going to sit here and talk.” And that she did.
  • I made a 75 year old friend, Gene, who is always at the pool. The first day I wore mascara while in FL he looked at me and smirked, “I don’t know how to tell you this but you have black circles around your eyes. I haven’t seen that in a long time!” He’s honest so I will keep him around.
  • The weather in FL is very consistent- 92 degrees each day with a 30 minute rain shower around 5pm; otherwise, sunny. It is a bit too hot for my liking, but we try to do our outside activities in the morning/ evening to work around it. I’m loving all the sunshine.
  • I tried going for a run at 3pm the other day and it was a very bad idea. Way too hot. It is tough to stay hydrated even on short runs, so I invested in one of those water backpack things. It had the funniest warnings: “Do not fill with milk” (duh, I’m not stupid), and “Do not fill with alcohol.” I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! So now I carry my water backpack filled with wine. Makes life a lot more enjoyable!

That’s all for now. Sending love,



Out of Place

It was my turn to pick out a dinner spot. I did my due diligence and yelped the heck out of our options. I picked a French restaurant that was very well reviewed and off we headed.

Chad and I have very different styles of making decisions. I spend about 2 minutes in total researching different options and then I go with my best educated guess. Chad spends weeks, months, if not YEARS, researching different options, reading extensive reviews, talking to people, and trying things out. We noticed this difference very quickly when we renovated our first home together, just months into our marriage. On the record, I will not say that one style is better than the other. But off the record, I would concede and say that Chad’s style always ends in better results. I’m just too lazy to do the full amount of work that he puts into decision making.

The first sign that my restaurant choice may not have been the best is when the host asked “Can I help you?” Well obviously, we came for dinner. My eyes darted around the restaurant. Oh no. White tablecloths. Candles. Wine glasses already on tables. The restaurant was full, but it was so….how do I best put this? QUIET. My gaze returned to our motley crew. Chad per usual was in golf attire, I was in my obnoxiously pink leggings and a running top, and best of all, Avery was wearing her T-shirt that has a puppy and kitty wearing sun glasses. (Alice actually looked decent).

The host sullenly led us to a table. After we were seated, Chad shot me “the look”. He had a crazy look in his eyes and his mouth twitched as he tried to suppress a smile. This is the same look he gave me when I set up an interview for a nanny potential at our home; shortly after she arrived we learned that she was homeless. My bad.

It was a stressful meal. Of course there was no kids menu at this classy place, and definitely no crayons and paper. Alice took off her diaper so casually that I didn’t figure it out until I saw a wet diaper sitting next to me. She contributed to conversation with, “ ‘Scuse me, I burped” and “WHY IS THERE A SPIDER IN HERE?” in her yelling voice. The waiter wondered if the (super nice) water glasses would be appropriate for the girls? I confirmed that unless he liked cleaning up broken glass, this would be a bad idea. The girls feasted on a caprese salad (the closest thing to a kid friendly meal they had). And by feasted, I mean, they ate all the tomatoes and decided they didn’t like the rest. I supplemented the rest of the meal with the orange tic tacs I keep in my bag for emergency situations such as these.

If you’ve ever moved, changed jobs, or experienced a first day at a new school, you have probably experienced a similar moment. It’s that feeling of, “I am so out of place here”. It is never a fun feeling to experience, but I’ve found that it usually means I am on the right track to adjusting. To feel “in place” or like “these are my people” we have to jump out of our comfort zones and try new things. It may not immediately lead us to a feeling of belonging, but it will bring us a step closer.

Here is to trying new things, stepping out of your comfort zone, and finding your spot. May you find your people and your places. May you have the humor to laugh off the awkward moments and the grace to be kind to others when they might be experiencing such a moment.

And for now, we will be dining at McDonalds- the ones with a happy place.