Fabulous finds: Rats in a cage edition

May 29, 2013 | 23 comments

Summer is off to a rolicking start here in the Fulwiler household, and by that I mean our TV is about to explode from overuse. Every weekday I announce dramatically that we cannot spend one more day sitting around the living room, solemnly promising that there shall be activities, starting tomorrow.

Then, the next day, I wake up and count on one hand the number of hours of sleep I got the night before. I think through the logistics of getting myself and six young children out the door, and my brain starts melting around the time that it occurs to me that we’d all need shoes. Long story short, I throw some crayons and paper on the table, they spend five minutes drawing before I have to shut it down because everyone’s fighting like the rats in a cage that we are, and we end up spending another day sitting around the living room.

I did sign the kids up for some real activities like art camp and swim lessons; in fact, at one point I worried that I’d overbooked us. But then I calculated that there are approximately 60 weekdays in summer, each presenting me with a breathtaking 12 hours to fill, and realized that a couple of kids going to a couple of morning camps is not the life-saver I’d hoped it would be.

It’s all good, though, because now I have plenty of time to surf the web while pretending like I don’t hear “I’m booooooored!” over and over again in the background. Here are some of my favorite finds:

* * *

– More proof that cilantro is the most vile substance on the face of the earth: it smells like bedbugs.

– You need to read Sarah’s post about the birth of her son, who was diagnosed in utero with spina bifida. Personally, I find that the mix of profound insights and heavy profanity give the piece a refreshingly candid feel. I know that f-bombs aren’t everyone’s thing, but you won’t be sorry you read this post.

– Want to inspire your kids to clean? Try taking before and after pictures.

– Some inspiration for summer workouts: 16 fitness experts who used to be overweight.

– More inspiration for summer workouts: this website lets you pick music by the beats per minute. You can even tell it how long it takes you to run a mile and it’ll find the tunes with the perfect beats!

Sock buns: someone who has talent with hair styling needs to try this and tell me if it works.

– There are a lot of “advice for new moms” posts out there, but this one is particularly good.

Dude builds Stonehenge in his back yard using only primitive tools to demonstrate how the original creators might have done it (video).

– Brandon Vogt’s new project, Strange Notions, is getting a lot of buzz. It’s a forum where atheists and Catholics dialogue about life’s big questions. They did a very nice announcement video too:

* * *

That’s it for this round! I need to get back to pondering at what point “stir crazy” becomes “actually, seriously, throw-us-all-into-a-padded-cell crazy”.


  1. Dorian Speed

    Was intrigued by the “before/after photos” idea until I read the post and realized every single one of her “befores” is my idea of an “after.”

  2. Jeff Miller

    Cue Smashing Pumpkins:

    despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
    despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
    someone will say what is lost can never be saved
    despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

    • Jennifer

      I’m so glad I’m not the only person who had Smashing Pumpkins playing in their head while reading this post. It’s also nice to know that I’m not alone in my hatred for cilantro.

  3. Cate @ DaintyCate.com

    Sock buns rock! They are super easy and stay put. Best of all they actually make me look like I have more than ten strands of very fine hair! 😉

  4. Mary

    I love your blog, Jen, but I highly recommend Montessori school for your children. Send them to a nice, real, AMI-approved Montessori school. I know of at least one in the Austin area–in Georgetown. In my mind, homeschooling is only an alternative if there’s not a great Montessori School in your area. All the things you’re trying to avoid by sending your children to a public or even parochial school are not going to be found in a Montessori school. You will end up with intellectually inquisitive, loving children who are pleasantly stimulated by truth and beauty and who are not cooped up in the house all day.

    I don’t think you’ll regret it looking into it.

    • Amy

      The point of homeschooling is not just avoiding the “big bad world” out there :). The point is to grow your kids around you, in a faith-filled home. There are a lot of schools out there that are good, even great! But, that doesn’t mean you want to put your kids in them. Montessori schools, parochial schools, and pretty much any kind of school will have a lot of secular “stuff” in them, and of course the usual issues with teachers, learning styles, problem students, etc. Moreover, the Montessori by me is EXPENSIVE! Can’t forget not everyone has the money..;)
      Finally, this post is about summer, and the last I checked, Montessori schools are closed in summer too..;) So, we all have the issue of filling up free time for the kids. For Jen, I’m thinking that the new baby is overwhelming, and if any one lives by her who has any compassion, they will take the kids out for the day to a park or zoo and give her a break so she can feel less “mommy-guilt” for the moment..;)

      God bless,
      Homeschooling Mom of 4 (expecting #5)

      • Patty

        Amy, YES to all that you said. Five of our seven kids are out of high school after homeschooling for many years. They all have strong faith and are close to each other. They are not afraid to be who they were created by God to be, and each one has a distinct personality and unique gifts. And they definitely weren’t “cooped up in the house all day”! Having “intellectually inquisitive, loving children” stimulated by truth and beauty was my goal, too, and was reached through homeschooling.

      • Dorian Speed

        I think the most important thing to consider when evaluating the merits of cooping kids up indoors is that Texas in summertime (which started a few weeks ago, for the purpose of heat-indexing) is not a place for humans to walk freely outside during peak daylight hours. If you’re not at a pool, being inside is the way to go.

        As far as homeschooling, I can’t speak for Jen, but I do know both of the Fulwilers to be very smart, well-rounded parents who are raising bright, inquisitive kids. I think their decision to homeschool, like ours, was more about giving the kids space to explore and learn and less about protecting them from a laundry list of school-related perils, real and imagined. So I’d take this particular list as both hyperbole for comic effect and a realistic assessment of life immediately after bringing home a newborn from the NICU.

  5. Cristina

    Sock buns–yes! yes! definitely yes! I have very sad hair skills and this is my new favorite hairstyle for both ease of use and its ability to make me look as though I do have hair fixing skills as well as much more hair than I actually possess. And you can repeatedly ask your husband “Can you tell that I have a sock in my hair?” “No really, there’s a sock on my head.” “You would tell me if you could see my head sock, right? Right?” Husbands love that 🙂

  6. Theresa

    Hooray for summer camps! Really!
    And thanks for the StrangeNotions video clip. It looks very interesting!
    Happy summer vacation!

  7. dave

    Just remember to keep “stirring” and you will be fine. Well, at least you will have the “illusion” of sanity. Just remember, retirement is out there — somewhere. I made it and so can you 😉
    God Bless you and yours,

  8. Peter Kieffer

    No, the vilest substance on earth is yogurt. Or caffeine-free diet coke.

  9. Rosie

    Cilantro is VILE. VILE, I tell you!!! For years I couldn’t figure out why the water at Chili’s always tasted like soap, and then I realized that somehow their CILANTRO was tainting it!

    So I ordered margaritas.

    • Martha

      Ditto that. So glad to hear I’m not the only one who can’t stand cilantro. And this coming from someone who likes all food, even cafeteria and airplane food. Blech.

  10. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I am so glad to hear that your days sound exactly like mine. Our “activity” today? Walking around the house and finding all of the red things…

  11. Jessica @ Grumbling & Gratitude

    I went to a military high school and wore sock buns every day for two years. It’s so funny that they’ve become “cool!” Yes, definitely a bonus for us fine-haired ladies.

  12. Barbara C.

    Jen, I feel your pain.

    10-month-old wouldn’t settle down to sleep until 1 am and then woke up with cold-related coughing fits at 4 am. At 4:45 she finally hocked up a loogey and fell back asleep. At 5:00 I moved the 2-year-old over to give myself more room to try to sleep and realized she had a diaper leak all over the bed. I took off her skirt (that she wore to bed), changed her diaper, and put down a towel over the wet spot. Just as I started to doze off, I had a cold-related coughing fit and spent about 30 minutes trying to breathe without coughing and waking up the two sleeping children in my family. Then the alarm went off at 7:00 for me to take my 10-year-old to school.

    I couldn’t even go back to sleep on the couch after the school drop-off, because the 5-year-old decided she was actually going to sleep in her own bed last night. This would normally be considered a good thing, but instead of sleeping until 9:00 in my bed next to Daddy and her sisters, she was up at 7:00 am,too.

    You know that saying: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”? On a day like today it gives me hope that there actually will be a time when I might get some sleep.

  13. Joseph Moore

    I eat cilantro.
    We’ve never seen a scorpion anywhere near my house.

    Can you, of all people, take the risk that this is mere coincidence? I think not.

  14. Laura Pearl

    Thanks for posting the link to Sarah’s birth story. I just read it and it was so incredibly inspiring! You were right: despite the salty sailor talk, I am definitely not sorry I read it.

  15. Elisa | blissfulE

    We got rid of our TV. It’s sort of like getting rid of junk food. We feel that life is healthier without it.

  16. Retro Coke

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  17. Kristi

    I love this post! Thank you for not trying to be a perfect Pinterest mom, and sharing Real life! God bless you! We start our (home)school year today, and I am dreading trying to corral everyone each day and meet my goals, I hope it works out.

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