7QT: Summer Scramble: Grocery Stores, Bedrooms, Socks, and Gorillas

7 Quick Takes06.03

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks around here with the end of school, graduations, and trying to establish some kind of summer routine. I’ve barely been able to form a thought, let alone write them down. So here are some truly random takes:

1: A couple weeks ago I stopped at a small grocery store on the way home from picking my kids yo from school. We needed some milk and the baby’s favorite crackers, but truth be told, I really wanted one of  their awesome salads. So just me and my 5 youngest children made a quick trip through the store. It was kind of crowded, but otherwise uneventful.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and found this on my Facebook:

So I saw you at Trader Joes today, and then I happened to be walking down the aisle after you had left it when I heard this:

Lady #1: Wow, what was that?
Lady #2: I know! I’m trying to get over the shock of it! She has 5 kids!!! That just doesn’t seem right.
Me (interrupting): Actually, it is. And she has several more than 5. And she’s an awesome mom to them all.
Lady #2 (while Lady #1 hurries away): Ummmm…she does? But how can she afford them all?
Me: Good kids are a priority to some families. We sacrifice for them because we love them. And we love our society.
Lady #2: Oh…ummm…okay…(leaves in an embarrassed hurry)

It felt SO awesome to get to defend someone else rather than myself! Your presence at Trader Joes was a blessing today.

I was so grateful to have that support. At the same time I was also a little jarred, it hadn’t really occurred to me that the negative comments would come after I leave a place. I always counted it a success to complete an errand without a confrontation. I don’t get many confrontations about my kids, and mostly they are just nosy questions, nothing overtly negative. But yes, I guess we do draw a bit of attention even when things go well. The biggest effect of this encounter for me was a reminder to say something nice to other moms I see out there, dragging their kids through stores and errands. A kind word goes a long way.

2: Introvert Problems. I also felt a little bad that I hadn’t said hello to my friend in the store. I was having such a day and was having trouble getting out of my head long enough to talk to my kids. There is just this conflict between “Yay! Friends!” and “Oh no! I’m not ready for conversation!” But you know, I never regret it when I make the effort and say hello.

3: Where Mom Books fail. Being a mom is hard. Some days it is damn near impossible. I still reach for encouragement in books written for mothers, by mothers. But while those books are excellent encouragement for those busy, exhausting baby and toddler days, they fall far short when the kids get older. Once you hit the point when you are dealing with cyber bullying, kids who stay out too late, calls from teachers about homework not turned in, when someone “accidentally” sets fire to the alley, older children who are not practicing their faith anymore or even doing things contrary to it. There are kids struggling with depression, medical bills piling in. There is figuring out how to live with adult children in the house and not let them act like children anymore while also not treating them like children anymore. Those are surprisingly different. Then there are the friends whose children got all the scholarships and sports trophies when you are just so glad that everyone passed their finals just well enough to not fail. It is so hard for moms to speak about these things because on some level, they are not our stories to share. Are we gossiping about our own children? Sharing things about them that they would rather keep secret? And what about the effect of all those things on us and on our marriage?

This stage can be far more lonely than when there are only little babies in the house and you are stuck at home for weeks on end because someone always has a snotty nose. In the early years it is easier to share the stories of messes, mistakes, and frustrations. Later on in parenting, there is only silence. I want to see more support for parents of older kids. It is just so hard to speak some of the problems out loud.

4: Well that last one was a real bummer, now I will tell you why my house is such a mess. (This time.) Since my son Ben graduated from high school, he gets to move into his own room. He is also a musician, and his former (shared) room was in between the rooms of the two babies, which made it difficult to practice. Also, the babies rooms were too close to each other and they sometimes woke each other up. We have 5 bedrooms, and one of them belongs to Jay and I. We aren’t switching with anyone. But the other 4 bedrooms… ugh, what a mess!

It goes like this:
Move Tessa out of room 1, move Ben in.
Move Lily, Molly, and Gus out of room 2, move Posy and her baby, Elliot, in
Move Ben and Max out of room 3, move Tessa, Lily, and Molly in.
Move Posy and Elliot out of room 4, move Max and Gus in.

There were no straight up switches, so everything has been up in the air (or, rather, down on the floor) for the last week. The positive is that since Ben was getting his own room, he was highly motivated to help out. The beds are all in place – well almost – we have to buy one more since Gus is moving out of a toddler bed. But the closets and dressers are still all mixed up and most of the shoes are AWOL.

Molly just came to me crying about the missing shoes. I may have to make a trip out just to buy flip flops in case we can’t find them in the next couple days. Seriously, they could be anywhere.

5: Socks. We have a lot of socks. An embarrassing amount, really. Since the laundry is always behind, it is necessary to have a few extra pairs of socks (and underwear for that matter) per person. A long time ago I had one big sock basket and just matched them up whenever I could, but with our quantity of socks and people, that became unwieldy. So I came up with this:


Top row: Mine (now holding sunscreen), Jay’s. Second row: Tessa, Ben. Third row: Max, Gus. Bottom row: little girls’ socks, little girls’ tights. Baby socks go in her dresser.


Mostly each person has their own bin, although I moved my socks into my room since they were forever being “borrowed.” The two little girls share a bin, since they are only one shoe size apart, but they also have a bin for tights, because those take up too much space to also live in their sock box. I do not match socks, except for Gus, and that is only sometimes. Oh, and I match my own socks.

Funny sock story: Tessa called me from school one day this past year to ask me to bring tights for her school concert. I asked her where I would find them and she told me they would be in box #3. The school receptionist overheard and couldn’t believe we had numbered sock boxes. Tessa thought it was cute because she didn’t even think the way we do things is weird anymore and had forgotten that everyone doesn’t just sort socks into boxes.

6: That whole gorilla episode. The whole internet has been held spellbound over the shooting of a gorilla when a 4 year old boy climbed into his exhibit. There has been entirely too much said about it already, but I’m adding my two cents anyway. I have a 4 year old boy. I live with a low grade level of terror over what it is possible for him to do. 4 year old boys are old enough to be trusted just a tiny bit – to walk next to you in a parking lot when your hands are full, to watch a video when you jump in a quick shower, to not put non-food items in their mouth, and a few other things. So when the internet began to vilify this mom for “allowing” her child to do this, I was horrified. Guys, pray for this momma. She is in her own personal hell right now. She watched her child dragged around by a gorilla, she watched him scream and cry in panic, and wondered if she would ever get to tuck him in bed at night again. It’s sad that the gorilla had to die, but the zookeepers knew what they were doing. Now this family has to recover from a very public accident and it won’t be easy.

7: Oh Hello, June. It’s June. It’s Phoenix. Welcome to the surface of the sun. The little kids went outside at 8am this morning and were back in after about 5 minutes, with cherry red cheeks and gasping for water bottles. Here we go!


Stay cool everyone, and go see more Quick Takes @ This Ain’t the Lyceum!


  1. Well said about the mom. We “lost” our middle son twice…it’s too easy for them to slip away!
    I always wondered how the kids played outside in the summer in Phoenix! SC was hot enough…the boys could only go out in the morning for a short period of time before it got too hot & humid. I can’t imagine how it is with Phoenix temps!

    • Today is really to hot to even go swimming. It’s ridiculously hot. I’m hoping to make it to the zoo this summer. With a membership they open at 6am. The real question is can I drag them all out the door so early?

  2. Your #3 is what I am looking for sometimes when I’m reading Catholic mom blogs! There are so many blogs out there with cute babies and devilishly clever toddlers (which are fun to read about, true), but few who address teen/college age kid stuff.. I see the same trend in some of the special need blogs I read too. After the baby/toddler stages, either the mom starts worrying about the kid’s privacy ,or the stuff they used to worry about are just part of the life now and doesn’t seem special enough to mention.
    I can’t point fingers – I don’t have a blog and I would worry about writing about my son’s inability to hand in homework, my teen daughter preference for skimpy shorts, or the senior who picked the wrong college. I’d probably just write about laundry every day. (Is 14 loads a week too much or too few?) Hardly riveting.
    I’m glad I’ve found your blog – not many blogger s have kids that span from toddlers to twenties. I’ll be looking forwards to your posts.

    • Regarding socks (#5), for a while I went with all kids in school wearing the exact same style of white socks. No muss, no fuss, no sorting needed! Now I’m at the stage where everyone gets a different brand and style. A bit of a pain, but sorting is much easier when I know son #2 has white crew from company #1 with gray trim and girl#5 has white crew with colored toes from store #2.

      • We always start off the school year like that, but then somehow quirky pairs show up, and then special church socks. Boys need black socks for pants and white socks for shorts (uniform policies) and so on. Before I know it all the socks we need are gone and I have boxes FILLED with weird ones. This is just the closest I have ever come to manageable socks where everyone can find something. But now? Yay for flip flop weather!

    • Thanks! I’m glad you found me too! I struggle between sharing their stories and needing support for myself. It’s a tough line!

  3. I like the sock boxes. I was describing the organization system in my sock drawer to my boyfriend last week, and he was a little bewildered. I was like, “There is a wide variety in women’s hosiery.” It’s probably best that he *didn’t* understand, though.

    And I, too, like reading mom blog posts about older kids and have noticed how rare they are! True, it gets more difficult to share when they’re nearly old enough to have their own blogs, but I kind of want to see how they all turn out. It’s like the oldest daughter on The Cosby Show (controversy aside, I like the show): they added her after the pilot because they wanted to show how good parenting would turn out. They wanted to show that all the work was worth it.

    • I never knew that about the Cosby show. That is really neat!

      And regarding socks – no one else is allowed to touch mine because they get them all wrong. I know those black socks look the same, but they are NOT. So if I’m going to be picky, it has to be my own problem. 🙂

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