So, How’s Your Summer?

So you know how when it’s hot and humid all week, but you’re busy with work and baseball and everything else, and you promise your kids that you’ll take them to the beach on Friday IF they behave, and then Friday finally gets here and you get to the beach and it’s windy and cool and cloudy and you’re thinking how much Minnesota weather BITES, but everyone is swimming and having fun until after you buy them each a bag of chips and Justin decides he wants Fritos now after he’s already eaten Cheetos and he gets pissed and throws sand in your face? And so you pack up and leave, because it’s cold and sucky anyway, even though you’ve only been there an hour, and you get home and all you want to do is get in the shower and maybe work some more on a big project you launched this week, only to have Cameron crowd Alex out of the bathroom, resulting in a fight over who gets to pee first, and then Justin accuses Alex of peeing on the floor, and Alex gets mad at the accusation when I tell him to clean it up, and dumps a basketful of stuff from the linen closet onto the floor, then gets all apologetic and helps clean it up, only to blow a gasket again when you go into the bathroom and realize that he actually DID pee on the floor, purely out of spite, and you yell at him for it while you’re mopping up the floor with Lysol, and he’s still denying doing it, and gets mad and dumps the stuff out of the linen closet again, and you yank him out of it, and he accuses you of pinching his neck, and you’re thinking, you’re lucky that’s ALL I did, you little monster. Then Cameron, acting all high and mighty, tattles on him for squirting sunscreen on the floor, and you tell Cameron that if he hadn’t butted in line ahead of Alex in the bathroom, none of this would have started to begin with. And then Alex calls you an “asshole fucker” and dumps a basket of laundry out in your room, and you then completely zone out and the tears start rolling and you tell them all that you’re not speaking to them the rest of the day and that you will never, ever, in the history of time, ever do ANYTHING nice for them ever again because of their ungrateful and horrific behavior, then decide to screw it, and get in the shower anyway, even if you risk emerging into total destruction when you’re done, and while you’re in the shower, you think back to the other night when your husband came home and was annoyed because you didn’t load the dishwasher up to his rigorous standards, and had the audacity to insinuate that you didn’t DO anything to keep the place in order during the day, even though if it weren’t for you incrementally picking up and forcing them to clean up all day long, and for a twice daily sweep of the house to at least make sure the worst of the worst is put away, that if you didn’t do that, he would come home to nothing but a smoldering pile of ruins, and you get mad at him and decide that you are going to go drink tonight, and don’t care where or with whom. And then you get out of the shower and find that your devil spawn at least felt guilty enough to put the laundry back in the basket and are outside playing like nothing ever happened. And David is either sleeping or in his room through it all. And then you sit down to write and almost finish, and Alex comes in and puts his head on your arm and says he’s sorry, and kisses your arm, and you don’t talk to him, and he says sweetly, “Mommy, I love you,” and you can’t decide if you should continue not talking to him or acknowledge him, as he keeps kissing you while you type the last sentence of your rant.

Yeah, that.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013


Lessons Learned

Things I’ve learned over the course of a so far very trying holiday weekend with my children.

  1. It is remarkably easy to go through four bags of chips in two days.
  2. It is possible to get into a heated argument about who has and has not been to Mankato.
  3. Ditto Florida.
  4. A threat of “I’ll just pee on the floor then” should be taken seriously.
  5. Selecting one child instead of another to show someone a picture on your phone will lead to fisticuffs.
  6. Chopping up freeze pops and eating them from a bowl with a spoon is grand fun.*
  7. Just because you don’t want to eat your macaroni and cheese right now doesn’t mean that the dog feels the same way.
  8. Any time there are more than two proprietors of a lemonade stand, you really need a business plan and a good accountant.
  9. Yelling “Stay IN or OUT!” every time the door opens does nothing to deter kids from going in and out of the house a thousand times.
  10. I might be warming up to the idea of year-round school.

*This may be the junior version of the Seinfeld episode where everyone is eating their candy bars with a fork and knife. Someone get me Larry David.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Is It Wrong That Sometimes I Wish I Were Deaf?

Highlights from this evening. Subtitled: Why I want to send my kids to military school.

“Mom, I’m just being real with Cameron, he needs to know that he pitched terrible tonight.”
“I don’t want to go in there by myself, come with me.”
“David, my team doesn’t stink. This was only our second game.”
“Mom. You KNEW I wanted something. I called your cell phone FOURTEEN times, why didn’t you answer?”
“Because my phone was in my camera bag right next to you.”
“David was making faces at me while I was pitching.”
“OH. Come on, Cameron. Tattle tale much? You’re gonna get beaten up in high school.”
“David, why can’t you say one nice thing about your brother?”
“You guys are ALL criticizing me.”
“Well David, if you’re going to criticize, be ready to hear it in return.”
“Cameron, your teams never even work on pitching or anything.”
“Oh yeah, David, well at least I don’t lie about being the fastest one in my grade.”
“I never said I was the fastest in my grade. I said I was fastest in my GYM class. And you always say you’re the fastest.”
“That’s because I am.”
“Then why were you in the SHORT run?”
“Because I TRY for the short run.”
“I’m not sitting down. NOW I HAVE NOWHERE TO SIT!!!”
“I don’t WANT salami. You’re the worst cook ever. You never make anything good.”
“You missed the turn? I’m going to be late!!!”
“DAD!!! Pick up your stupid PHONE. Why won’t he ANSWER?!!!”
“Why couldn’t you have gotten some lettuce? All I wanted was a salad.”
“Alex, what did you scratch the TV with?”
“My science teacher is so stupid, I got all of this homework due tomorrow when everyone else had a WEEK.”
“I’ll tell you if you’re not gonna be mad at me. I just scratched it with a pin.”
“You said you’d buy chocolate syrup!!!”
“I’m not going to bed.”
“I’m not going to be quiet until you help me find my Dorothy doll!”
“I’m sorry but I got all the strawberries out.”
“Fine. I’m gonna make Penny mad.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Feeding The Beasts

Here’s why I don’t do a ton of shopping at Costco. Because the more food in the house, the more my four boys seem to eat. Tuesday I made trip there. Here’s a partial list of what I bought, and the disposition of the items.

4 lbs of plums – Gone.

32 tubes of Go-Gurt – Gone.

24 pouches of Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks – Gone.

5 boxes of cereal – 2 gone.

10 bananas – 7 gone. (Actually that’s more my fault, I ate like four or five of them. I love bananas.)

20 packages of mini muffins – Gone.

5 lb tub of Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough – 1/3 gone.

3 giant seedless cucumbers – 1 gone.

72 mini bagel pizzas – 12 gone.

They ate all this in two and a half days. I jokingly say that when they all get older I’ll have to take out a second mortgage just to feed them, but as that day approaches, I’m not altogether sure it’s a joke anymore. This isn’t even taking into consideration the four boxes of macaroni and cheese, 8 packages of microwave popcorn, four bags of potato chips, gallon of milk, gallon of ice cream, loaf of bread, and the pound of deli salami they went through over the weekend.

Tomorrow is the start of spring break. I might have to invest in a few Mega Millions lottery tickets to prepare.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Sanity Watch: Day One

Today was my first official day as a “stay-at-home-mom.” Other than making breakfast, getting kids dressed, walking Justin to the bus stop, letting the dog in and out, running errands with Alex, waiting for Justin at the bus stop, cleaning up everyone’s random junk everywhere, making lunch, cleaning up the kitchen, folding laundry, doing a craft project with Justin and Alex, begging and bribing them to take a nap (to no avail), giving baths, fixing toys, refereeing fights, getting dinner ready, helping with homework, and putting more of everyone’s stuff away, I accomplished nothing. And that was even with everyone spending a good hour outside this afternoon.

Here’s the only thing I have to show for the day. We made paint chip bookmarks for Valentine’s Day. Cost: a trip to Menards for free paint cards, and $1.50 worth of ribbon at Michaels. I’m worried about myself, folks. This lifestyle does not suit me. I’m concerned that pretty soon Spongebob and Patrick are going to sound normal to me.

Paint chip bookmarks. Outta my way, Martha.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

I Got Your $14 Gatorade Right Here

Seinfeld was on way back in the 90’s, but most scenes in that show are still relevant. Today I found myself channeling George Costanza. Remember the one where he goes into the liquor store with Kramer for a bottle of wine while Jerry and Elaine go to the bakery for a chocolate babka? That was me at the supermarket today.


We were assigned the chore of bringing drinks for Cameron’s football team tomorrow. Another family is bringing treats. I’m not sure how it was decided who would bring what. At the risk of sounding like my mother, I just don’t understand why it’s necessary for kids to have a snack and a drink after every sporting event. They bring water along with them for during the game, it’s not like they’re thirsty. It’s 11:00 in the morning and we live five minutes away, it’s not like they’re going to starve.

When I was a kid, the coach brought a big jug of water (or maybe…wow…Kool-Aid), and maybe we got a can of pop or a treat for the last game of the season. Certainly not every week. I’ve done this for like six years now and the only thing the end-of-the-game treat satisfies is a pathological “I want one too” reaction in my other kids who go to the game and don’t get anything. It’s hell.

Cameron insisted we bring Gatorade, and since I don’t want him to be the social pariah with the mom who brings juice boxes to a third grade football game, I went off to the store. The SMALL bottles were sold in six-packs, two for $7. Fifteen kids on the team, one for each of my yahoos, I’m in for at least four of them at $14. What the hell? The treats people are skating by on this one.

The reason I thought of George is because after he and Kramer settle on a $12 bottle of wine, he complains that Jerry and Elaine got the better end of the deal. “I guarantee you they’re not getting no $12 cake.”

Kind of how I feel about the Gatorade vs. cookies or whatever snack the other family comes up with. It ain’t gonna be no $14 worth.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

Stay With Me, Buddy

Wow, this week I just needed a break from writing. I have a few other things I’m working on, and the focus has just not been there. I found though, that once you skip one day, it becomes easier to skip two. And three. So I’m back on the wagon now.

I owe you a post about the second part of our trip to Wisconsin, which had its share of, for lack of a better word, interesting moments, but I’m just not into that right now. Instead I give you this little snapshot of my day.

Today I took the guys to see Cars 2. I realize it came out like three months ago, but I waited until it made its way to the cheap-o theater before we went. Cars wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite Pixar movies. Visually Cars 2 is an amazingly vibrant, detailed and stunning piece of cinematography. The colors in it are incredible. The plot though, considering it’s geared toward the younger set, is somewhat complicated and long. That’s likely why my four and five year-olds became pretty restless halfway through the movie. But we made it through and set off on the 20 minute drive home.

This is usually what you like to see on a car trip. There are exceptions.

We got out of the theater just before 2:00. When we got in the car I noticed Alex was pretty quiet. As we were driving, I saw him start to lay his head down. As a parent, this is DEFCON 3 territory. Because if he falls asleep on the drive, even for a few minutes, a nap when he gets home will be out of the question. It’s the equivalent of someone at NORAD starting to nod off on the job. It’s a situation that must be dealt with immediately. It’s a bona fide emergency because, cute as he is, Mama needs a break.

But since I can’t ply him with coffee or squirt him in the face with cold water, my only option is to keep him talking. Make him pay attention to something. Unfortunately there just aren’t that many points of interest from Hopkins to Chanhassen. So you just start asking questions and pointing out whatever random things you can think of.

“Hey Alex! Do you remember this song? It’s Party in the USA.

“So Alex, who was your favorite car in the movie?”

“Do you know who my favorite car was? Holly Shiftwell. Wasn’t she a cool color of purple? I liked that color. Or was it pink? It kind of looked a little pink.”

“What’s your favorite movie? Oh, Snow White? Who’s your favorite dwarf? I like Grumpy.”

“Why don’t you sing a song for me? Sing the one from Snow White. I haven’t heard you sing that for a long time. Please?”

“Hey Alex, look at that girl over there by the road with her car. I like her skirt. Isn’t it pretty? I think they must have dropped a box out of their trunk.”

“OH! Here comes someone walking a cute doggie. Wow, she has three of them, and that one looks like Penny.”

“Alex, did I show you the picture of the little puppy Kim’s friends are adopting? Wasn’t he cute? I love little puppies like that.”

“Hey look! A swamp!”

“Hey Alex, did you finish all of your Swedish Fish?”

“Do you think Anna has seen Cars 2? Are you gonna tell her about it tomorrow?”

“Hey Alex! There’s that park where we went geocaching. We should go there again sometime so you guys can play there.”

“Look! There’s the big crane!”

“Alex, do you think you’d be able to drive us home? Tell me which way we should turn.”

“Wow, look at that old car. That’s cool, it’s the same color as Holly in the movie.”

“Who goes to that church? Is that Rory’s church?”

“Look at that big bike with three wheels!”

“Hey! We’re just about home!”

I’m happy to report that he did take a lovely two-hour nap, at which time I had only the crises of three hooligans to deal with instead of four.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

Weekend Tally

This is what I heard from Justin before sitting down to dinner tonight. “Eeeehhww. I found sumfin’ gross. Cameron, come touch it!” That about sums up Saturday. Syrup from breakfast on the windowsill. The work of Alex.

So this weekend’s damage tally? One set of window blinds broken (Justin). One set of window blinds knocked down (Cameron) but successfully rehung. One Harry Potter book now missing Chapter One (Alex). One stem chewed on an a pair of glasses that already have teeth marks on the lenses (Penny).

I should have required a security deposit before letting any of these clowns move in here with us.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011


I don’t like to play legos (or play with cars, or color, or play basketball, or play baseball, or play tennis, or play with trains) with Justin.  Justin has control issues.  Tonight we set out to build a house with legos.  Justin wanted the house to have a door.  So I made a door.  The door didn’t go all the way to the ground.  So I made the door go all the way to the ground.  That didn’t work because you can’t open a lego door that goes all the way to the ground.  So we started over.  We needed to find the guy to go in the house.  Problem was Justin had just thrown it into his closet five minutes before.  Justin found the guy, but the guy needed a friend.  We couldn’t find his friend.  He improvised with two orange legos for his friends.  So we built a house with sufficient doorage, so the two orange guys were safe from the tornado, but their friend wasn’t, so we built a second floor, but it wasn’t working because the guy wasn’t all the way covered, so concern gave way to hysterics and soon panic because no one was going to be safe from the tornado.  Because I could no longer take the whining or demands, I began to dismantle the house and put the legos away.  That did not go over well.  I decided I was done playing with Justin and removed myself from the situation.  He ran to his dad and sputtered out between sobs, “Mom…broke…my…hooooouuuuse!!!”  A few minutes later after Barry calmed him down and was sitting with Justin and Alex on the couch, he said, “I love you guys.”  Justin responded coldly,  “Mom doesn’t love us.  She broke my house.  She puts toys away.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2009