7 Quick Takes about carpet beetles, Minecraft, Pong, and pirates

October 11, 2013 | 100 comments

— 1 —

Everyone’s telling me to get hardwood floors. I know, guys, I know. Trust me: this topic has come up pretty much every day since that unfortunate carpet beetles incident. When my clean-freak husband realized that the bugs we’d been seeing on the couch were actually part of an infestation of insects that feed off of filth, it took all my effort to keep him from throwing out the couch, ripping out the carpet, and transforming our living room into a bleached stone floor with a few toys on it.

The problem is that, now that we’ve been married 10 years, we suddenly need to replace everything:

  • Parts of the refrigerator are held together with duct tape.
  • The dishwasher is on its last legs.
  • We’ve outgrown the kitchen table.
  • The couch, while rid of the carpet beetles, looks like something you might see sitting on a curb. In front of a crackhouse.

We’re saving up to be able to make a few replacements, and I can’t decide where hardwood floors sit on the list of priorities. Would I rather have a couch that guests aren’t afraid to sit on or a floor that guests aren’t afraid to walk on? A freezer that doesn’t regularly turn the entire bottom shelf into a block of ice or a kitchen table that will sit the whole family?

The traditional 10th anniversary gift is aluminum. We need to change that to be “massive gift cards to Home Depot.”

— 2 —

7qt236-atariWe did end up getting a Wii, which is all that matters to the kids. I was strongly leaning toward it after the computer game issues I mentioned, but there was another incident that finally pushed me over the edge:

Someone gave us a little console you can plug into the TV that contains Atari games from the early 1980sย (I think it might have been a white elephant gift at an office Christmas party). The kids tried it out and actually found it to be mildly interesting. Since they are unsocialized homeschoolers, they had only rarely seen real video games and so had nothing to compare it to. One day a neighbor kid came over to play, and my son immediately wanted to show him his new game.

I happen to know that this boy owns both a Wii and a brand new Xbox with all the hottest games. And so I wish I could describe the look on his face as he watched the homeschooled kid point excitedly at the dot moving across the screen and say, “Isn’t this SO COOL?!”

— 3 —

My publisher‘s marketing department recently sent me their standard author questionnaire. As I’ve mentioned before, every time I imagine my name among their list of authors, it’s like one of those kids’ worksheets where you have pictures of a space shuttle, a limousine, a yacht, and a bowl of oatmeal, and you have to pick out which one doesn’t fit.

The types of questions they asked were, umm, not designed for people like me. Here was my first stab at filling it out:


I’m telling you, the “I am so sorry, a horrible mistake has been made” call is coming any day now.

— 4 —

My dad recently told me that some of our ancestors were pirates. “Pirates??” I asked. “Like…pirates?” Indeed. And, considering that they came to Texas when coming to Texas was pretty much guaranteed to cut your life expectancy in half, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps they were intentionally seeking out a place where the law wouldn’t bother finding them.

Meanwhile, this summer Joe signed our son up for children’s sailing lessons, and everyone was shocked by the aptitude he showed for this activity. Evidently our eight-year-old was literally sailing circles around older kids with more experience in the sport. When I heard this, it combined with the information that my dad told me and it aaaallllllll came together.

I’ve always known that my children are loud, rowdy, fearless, insanely strong-willed, and relish play that mimics battle. I always wondered what’s up with that. But now that I see that they also love seafaring, I get it. They’re pirates.

— 5 —

Let’s do a word association experiment. If you have a son between the ages of 8 and 18, tell me what response this word evokes in you:


— 6 —

I just got tickets to go to the benefit gala for the wonderful John Paul II Life Center where my friend Patrick Madrid will be speaking. My aunt will be in town from Atlanta, and she and my mom and I are going to make it a girls’ night out.

Thinking about this event and the upcoming Texas Alliance for Life dinnerย made me realize that I love socializing that involves dressing up. LOVE. If I could go to a fancy gala every night, I would. Which is weird because I am an introvert to the extent that I’ve sometimes wondered if I missed a call to be a desert hermit.

So…I guess the perfect life for me would be spent in a remote cave, only coming out of my seclusion to attend lavish cocktail parties. I’m sure this indicates something very troubling about my character.

— 7 —

I just discovered this Youtube channel called Great Depression Cooking, where a sweet 96-year-old lady shares tips she learned from growing up during the Great Depression. (Perspective alert: she mentions that she had to drop out of school because they couldn’t afford socks.) Her stories are fascinating, and her meals are super helpful for families on a budget:



  1. Jeni

    Oh so where can I pick up an Intergalatic Federation of Mommy Bloggers membership card?!! Do I get discounts at liquor stores?

    I’ll put it in my wallet next to my pants pass. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      You’re close: Send me gift certificates to liquor stores, and I will send you your official membership card.

  2. Jackie

    I love wieners! Except everyone knows to get the pan hot and put the oil in the pan and get the oil hot THEN put your potatoes in the pan along with the other stuff . I think I’ll make it . She forgot to mention the onions maybe? Oh well . It looks tasty anyway.

  3. Reb

    I don’t know how outgrown your dining table is, but since most of your fellow diners are small you can try dropping chairs and putting them on benches instead. Skinny little kids don’t need a whole chair each. My mom’s trick for the kid table at holidays. (She joked that she should just replace the plates with a common trough, too.)

  4. Melody

    #2 made me laugh out loud – I love it that your kids not only know what Pong is, but have played it!

  5. Joanne

    Funny you mention hardwood floors… We just had them put in. While I have not actually lived in the house yet with the new floors (we are moving back TODAY!!!) they have got to be infinitely better than carpet. We had carpet in our dining room area which was a disastrous mess with 2 (very soon to be 3) people under the age of 4 to liter it with spilled cups and dumped trays. Be prepared to move out though – it has not been the most relaxing 3 weeks of renovation happening but it has been pretty tolerable – knowing the outcome.

    • Marcy K.

      You don’t have to do hardwood, you can do laminate. Like hardwood don’t get it wet, but it is great stuff. Here in Florida, with our humidity, hardwood is not that common. I don’t like walking on tile (which is why I also hate my ugly grey terrazzo floors) so laminate it was. We just had this installed in our kitchen on Monday: http://www.armstrong.com/flooring/laminate/weathered-way-earthen-copper-stone-ceramic-tile-L6578/floor-118459.asp It has a 30 year warranty. About 7 years ago we installed throughout most of the house a laminate that looks like wood, and it is still beautiful even though I pretty much don’t take care of it. We did not put it in the bathroom (we like vinyl in the bathroom) or the pantry.

      Don’t have a leak in the kitchen though. Or maybe a leak is what you need! This January a pipe in the wall behind out kitchen cabinets sprung a leak. It ruined the cabinets on that side of the kitchen and my beautiful laminate floor ๐Ÿ™ Our insurance company paid for a new set of cabinets, and because the laminate floor went through the whole house they paid for the whole floor. We decided to take the money and buy new cabinets, but also replace only the floor in the kitchen and use that extra money for the rest of the floor to buy new appliances. We couldn’t have afforded it otherwise since some appliances are so expensive. I still can’t believe the CHEAPEST oven at Sears is like $1200, and don’t get me started on refrigerators!

      So my advice is to consider laminate. Get a good brand and buy the top of the line, or the next step down, if at all possible, because you will NEVER regret it. If you buy cheap stuff you will end up replacing it fairly soon and the stuff is not inexpensive. You can also have different looks in different rooms, but I did SO like one continuous floor.

      Jen, if you want please email me and I’ll send you pictures and answer any questions. And no, I don’t sell laminate. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Marcy K.

        Oh, and I forgot, you can pick a design that does not show dirt, pet hair, etc. I thought I was bad years ago when we bought a “swirly” dark floor so I would not see the cat and dog hair. I felt better when my m-i-l told me SHE bought HER kitchen floor 50 years before specifically so she wouldn’t see the Rice Krispies! ๐Ÿ™‚

        • JaneC Duquette

          My mom picked out her carpet by dumping the crumbs from the cookie jar on the counter at the store and instructing the salesmen to “match this”. Our recently redone bathroom has real linoleum. It should last at least 50 years We have old wood floors and we love them BUT we live in dry California.

  6. LeAnna

    #6 reminded me of the Friday Formals at my husband’s college. Academics in evening finery + their robes (so like a scene from Harry Potter) sitting down to a fancy dinner followed by whiskey in the college bar… Everyone has emerged from the introvert/work-induced caves for the evening before crawling back in for another week.

    So no, it doesn’t say anything wrong about your character, or at least I’m refusing to admit it does because I feel the same way!

  7. Mary

    MINECRAFT=time drain!
    And not just for boys. My daughter build a huge ranch covered with 100’s of ponies,
    Very angular box like ponies.

    • Jen

      Wow – 100s of ponies!!! My daughters also love minecraft. They like to build hotels and farms. personally I just don’t get it.

  8. Erin McCole Cupp

    I now so very totally want to make time to watch the Great Depression Cooking channel!

  9. Mary

    I have an unsocialized non-screened 9 year old boy so Minecraft only makes me think of wasting my time playing Minesweeper while I was supposed to be studying in college. Something tells me I’m not missing much?

    What’s under your carpet? Any chance you could paint what’s under there? I’ve actually seen people paint subfloor or concrete and it’s not half bad. Maybe?

    • Sara McD

      Phew! We have no idea what it is either.

  10. Linda

    PIRATES!!! So funny…at least you know now what you’re dealing with. ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. regina

    My son saw his friends playing minecraft snd asked if he could buy it with his savings. I did not at firstthink it was a good idea. But eventually I said yes, especially after watching him scrimp and save his allowance over a month. But on one condition which he agreed:he is only allowed 30 minutes on schooldays after lessons and chores and 45 min per non school day if his behavior is satisfactory. He has actuallybeen very enthusiastic about the time limit, except an occasional “5moreminutes”to get to a stopping point. Since we talked about how addictive it can be. We also have a similar re about the wii: we play it in the evening on wii Wednesday, and it’s allowed on nonschooldays after chores and an hour outside.

    Oh I also saw him create villagers and animals then kill them (not greusome) a nd made a new rule not to kill unless it was a bad guy or for food. Although I don’t really understand the game, I try to regularly sit down to watch and ask about it.

  12. Michelle

    Minecraft ~ good.

    And I know you didn’t ask what hardwood floors evoke, but the first things that came to mind is noise, dust that doesn’t settle like it does on carpet and for some reason it looks messier when toys and debris are scattered upon it. Unless it’s laminate, you may obsess over damage inflicted by pirates. At least consider berber.

    This is the combined wisdom of two moms that have 8 kids each. God luck.

    • Michelle

      *good But really, after I thought I typed good luck, I thought to myself, well, there is no such thing as luck. So, God bless instead.

      • Nadine

        Wood floors do not look as clean as carpet. But they *are* cleaner. It is a tradeoff – look clean versus be clean.

        • Michelle

          BTW, I’m not against hardwood. I love it. I was just listing some of the cons as we have experienced them. Namely with a lot of children.

  13. Kyra

    Minecraft: my five-year-old son’s whole brain consists of, in equal parts, Minecraft, Phineas and Ferb, and Duplo.

    He’s been playing it since he was either three and a half or four. I think. It’s sort of our problem-solving and spatial stuff curriculum for homeschooling. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I hadn’t thought of that. I’m totally going to call it homeschooling too now.

  14. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    We are in the middle of living #1 right along with you. Sigh. #4 KILLS me. And I have absolutely no idea what #5 even means. But I’m thinking the comments should be interesting…

  15. Bonnie

    My kids love Jake and the Neverland Pirates and I think they’d be jealous of your real life pirate kids. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for sharing the Depression cooking channel. I’m intrigued!

    Lastly – I think you SHOULD submit those funny answers to your publishing company. One of my favorite parts of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is that Dave re-wrote and made funny every page. His author page says he has no pets but he’s pictured with a bird on his shoulder and dogs by his side. Maybe that doesn’t translate well here, but it is funny and it’s definitely his sense of humor.

  16. Cammie

    I had always wanted hardwood floors but I have to say… we have them now in the rental we live in and… I really miss carpet. The thing about hardwood floors is they’re so unforgiving. They show every tiny crumb that falls on the floor. I find myself compulsively resisting the urge to get the broom out fifty times a day (because it’s really useless before the kids are in bed and the 11 month old will just try to attack the broom and the pile of crumbs to play with them). My husband pointed out that I only want carpet now because it hides the problem and I have to say “absolutely” to that.

  17. April

    My library provides a free online language program called Mango languages. Your kids can actually learn to speak “Pirate.” My kids had a great time with it. It’s really funny.

  18. Amy

    You made me laugh this morning. The couch. The video game. The author questionnaire. I love it. And I am the same way about loving to dress up to go out. I think it has something to do with the fact that I rarely ever change out of yoga pants and a T shirt most days ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the laughs.

  19. Stacy

    You hit a gold mine with those youtube videos! I’m fascinated about that time period anyways (since that’s when my grandparents grew up and they are no longer alive), but also need the budget meal ideas. Thanks for sharing!!

    And if I were a guest, I’d prefer you replace the couch because my butt and back have to touch it ;). My socked/shoed feet could withstand the floor critters.

  20. Kathryn Jones

    You can buy gift cards at carpool.com or gift cards.com to get a discount on your home improvement purchases. They regularly have card at 6-8% off of retail ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Jules

    I really like the Wii, and I have played console games all my life. I don’t have one though because testing it at my friend’s house resulted in a hole in the ceiling. My lack of athletic ability finally caught up with me in the gaming world!

    Thanks for the video link in 7!

  22. Kristin

    Our carpet beetle situation was actually the worst in the living and dining room with hardwood floors. It took lots of vacuuming the edges and treating the whole house (by the bug guys). Dealing with those critters was not what I needed to deal with the week I brought home #7!

    I thought of minesweeper too!

  23. Tammy

    It takes a lot of courage knowing that you are the bowl of oatmeal but if a person were starving, they would want it more than the yacht.

    This month Im giving a talk at a presentation at a professional conference where the faculty is 24 Physicians, a Genetic Counselor, a Midwife and me. My content is stuff that no one ever teaches them …I know its needed and valued but I will walk into that group knowing that I’m the least educated person (an RN Diploma) there but with things to teach them. I have to be a proud and capable bowl of oatmeal

  24. Cindy@ The Veil of Chastity

    Minecraft = Obsession

    When our son first started talking about it, I thought it was *Mind*craft and associated it with Witchcraft. ha ha We had to outlaw it in our house because, depending upon the child, it can really take over their little minds. Cindy

  25. Christine Johnson

    1. You might want to see if there’s a Re-Store near you. It’s from Habitat for Humanity, and they occasionally have really good finds for a good price.

    3. Your comments about your biography questionnaire crack me up! My 14 yo decided the other day thy her Facebook page bio was boring, since she’s, well, not quite 15 and also homeschooled. She is a Doctor Who fan & has just added that she has been working at the Time Lord Academy of something or other since 1906 (it wouldn’t let her day from 1908-1906), and she moved to Gallifrey in January 1998. Her 15th birthday is Tuesday. I about died laughing.

    4. Please, please find out what pirate your ancestors sailed with. PLEASE!! Mine sailed with LaFitte, and wound up in New Orleans after the US pardoned him for his help in the War of 1812, but I know some of his crew went to Texas. If our ancestors sailed together, how cool would that be? We’d have to take a cruise together! Ha!! (Okay, that came out a little bit stalk-y.)

    6. I totally get this. We went to a women’s center gala last month & I loved it. I don’t need to talk to everyone, just out me in a pretty dress once in a while and take me somewhere there’s food. Drinking is also nice, but doesn’t happen at the crisis pregnancy dinner. (That’s what the Past Grand Knights’ dinner tomorrow is for.)

    Maybe I can get a quick takes done. In any case,
    Have a super day!

  26. Colleen Martin

    Oh my gosh, your story about Pong and your son’s friend made me spit out my coffee! That is so funny, and I wish my kids could live in a homeschooling bubble!!

  27. Kathleen Basi

    Well, my beloved toddler just closed the browser window in the middle of my attempt to comment on Minecraft. I have an 8 year old and it just hit our radar. I’m more curious to know other people’s reactions, as my child wants this game VERY BADLY. It’s like last year and Angry Birds.

  28. Beth (A Mom's Life)


    Well, obsession for my son anyway. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I guess I am okay with it because it’s based on building and creating and not just guns, car chases or matching candy. But all he wants to do is play Minecraft. No homework, no exercise, not even any tv, just Minecraft. I think we need an intervention.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I know. It’s about intervention time over here too. My seven-year-old daughter also likes it, but in a more normal way. With my son, it is ALL he EVER wants to talk about!

  29. Kierstin

    Oh I love Clara too! I post lots of her recipes…she’s just so precious. And yes, do do do get hardwood floors. They are about a million times better than carpet when you have children. You will save so much time cleaning you wont know what to do with yourself.

  30. Laura the Ringmistress

    On #1: You want tile, not hardwood. We just had ALL our hardwood ripped out this summer due to a teeny tiny backup in the HVAC drain pipe. Buckling, soggy floors led to a crew invading our house, tearing out everything, and leaving loud hot fans on for 5 days. In June. In Texas. Get tile and be happy. They even make some that look like hardwood.

    On #5: Obsession. The good that has come out of out is improved spelling and math abilities, and my discovery of multiple baking channels on YouTube. (Though when I’m going to have time to make Angry Birds Pizza and Minecraft cakes,I have no idea.) But no other game had required me to be as aggressive in my use of timers.

  31. Mrs. K

    I love your blog. This post is cracking me up as I laugh out loud while nursing newborn.

    What kind of socks do your pirate kids wear? Arrrrrrrrgile. (Thought your kids would like that one)

    The Pong reference took me back to my childhood. I think it’s so cool. Meditative, really.

    I love my hardwood floor but they aren’t easy for waddling babies or inside cartwheels or wrestling. They are easy to clean.

    Thanks for starting my day with a huge laugh.

  32. Carolyn @ 4Life4Life

    This was a goodie. I’m encouraged by your needed house updates still 10 years later. We are closing in on 5 years married and I find myself periodically frustrated that I still don’t have a shiny yellow KitchenAid stand mixer, among the things that look like your couch or are also falling apart. It’s a marathon, marriage and family living: getting fed a steak dinner at the starting line will probably just make us nauseous. Or maybe not, but that’s what I’m telling myself.
    Your author questionnaire shall now be my template for all questionnaires ever.
    I look forward to watching Great Depression Cooking this weekend. I have been making your Fried Rice recipe- only I swapped out the bean sprouts for water chestnuts, and I added an extra lb of meat.
    I bag and freeze individual lunch sized amounts and this becomes my lunch for a week or more. I affectionately refer to it as “Mommy gruel”. I’m happy for a much healthier lunch in replacement of bagels. Thank you for sharing!

  33. Emma Elizabeth

    So I have to ask: how did you get rid of the carpet beetles?!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      There was some fabric on the bottom of the couch that had been, unbeknownst to us, trapping crumbs and stuff over the years (which was odd since we don’t allow eating in the living room). When he ripped out that fabric and cleaned those spaces, the bugs went away. So gross.

      • Emma Elizabeth

        Thanks for your reply! My house has dealt with bedbugs last month and just moved back in to find carpet beetle larve… Incredible. I’m not sure where they main hiding spot is yet. I will find and kill them, hopefully soon. Overall though, I’d so much rather have carpet beetles than bedbugs!


        • Lucy

          Dear Emma Elizabeth,

          Please know that I write this out of concern – did you have your house and furniture “heat treated”?

          Because otherwise, leaving for a month – unless you were in and out using dry ice traps (no, that’s not a joke!) – will do absolutely nothing for a bedbug problem. Bedbugs can hunker down, and wait, for up to a year without eating. They can just stay hidden, leaving no trace of their existence that is visible to the naked eye.

          So even if you had a pest control company spraying chemicals in every room, there is a very good chance that the bugs did not move, and therefore are still alive.

          If this is your situation, you should:
          – Have a canine inspection by a reputable pest control company.
          – Have the pest control company continue to treat your rooms.
          – Purchase climb-up detectors (you can get them from Amazon) and put them under the feet of the bed. Spray “organic diatomaceous earth” into the traps, and also spread it between the mattress and the box spring, and into the crevices of the bed frame. (Your pest control company may or may not know about these, but this step is an ABSOLUTE must.)
          – Isolate the bed. Let nothing of the bedframe OR the bed linens touch the floors or the walls. The only path “out” of the bed for any pests must be through the traps at the bed’s feet.
          – Remember that mattress and box spring covers only “keep in” what might already be hiding there. They’re good to have for that reason, but they do not “repel” bugs.
          – Sleep in the bed. Horrid, I know. But if you go to sleep on your couch, you will only bring the problem to other rooms.

          God bless you.

  34. Carolyn @ 4Life4Life

    and yes. Desert Hermit who only comes out for lavish cocktail parties. I’ve often thought this too. What does this say? Probably a Will Ferrell: “Hey everyone, come see how good I look!”

  35. suburbancorrespondent

    If you do get a new couch, get the Ektorp line from IKEA. Removable slipcovers (for all those fun vomit episodes and failures at potty training that occur in large families); 6 removable cushions for fort-building (what? You don’t shop for play value in couches?); and indestructibility (still have ours after 11 years!). Also? Cheaper than other couches.

    Borrow money for hardwood floors. Easy to clean, healthier, easy to spot dangerous creatures on…the list is endless. And with all those kids, at some point one of them is going to turn up with a dust allergy anyway. Just make sure to get a natural (i.e., light-colored) finish – easier for the above-mentioned bug spotting…

    • Amy

      I love ektorp. It also has a 15 year warranty on it. And you can get laminate flooring at Ikea too. We put some down in our kitchen. It wasn’t terribly hard to install, but your subfloor really needs to be level. You can get leveling compound in a home center. It’s durable flooring. They use it in their showrooms.

    • Katie

      Yes – Ektorp!! Mine is 10 years old and on it’s second cover – white because it was on clearance for $10. It has had vomit, pee, wine, various food and probably other stuff I don’t know about spilled on it and still looks great. (After washing, obviously!)

      Another vote for hardwood (or Ikea laminate). Actually, you could probably get all the stuff on your list at Ikea for a lot less than you think!

      • Sara McD

        Ditto the ektorp love.

      • Brianna @ Just Showing Up

        Yes. Ektorp. Love, love, love my white Ektorp couches! And pretty much most things IKEA.

  36. Verena

    Long time reader! I dont have a blog, but sometimes I wish I did.
    Anyway, have you thought about buying your dining roomt table, refrigerator etc at an estate sale?
    My husband and I LOVE going estate sale shopping and most of our home is furnished from these shopping trips.
    You can find almost new appliances for a fraction of the cost.
    For example, this past weekend I picked up a new wifi enabled fax/printer/copier, for $30…retail is $200! It had hardly been used!
    My favorite site is estatesales.net. You can preview what will be at the sale so you dont waste your time with duds.
    Send me an email if you need any tips or need to see examples of awesome finds! I also got a new patio set, a day bed, and a couple of other odd finds….or maybe I should just start a blog about estate sale shopping.

    Good luck!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I’d never thought of estate sales. Hmm. Interesting. Thanks for the tip!

      • Amanda

        If you can, shop Mondays at estate sales. The things that are left are deeply discounted. Also there are fewer shoppers, so navigating with children may be easier. Austin should have some good ones!

  37. Kris

    We went all hardwood in the downstairs a couple of years ago and now I’m chomping at the bit to get rid of the 19 year old carpet in the upstairs. HATE. IT. When I saw what was UNDER the downstairs carpet when they pulled it up, I was on a mission. We are also in that mode of “things falling apart”, so it’s lower down on the list (and also because it costs a lot of money!), but it’s going to happen. And I have 4 boys between the ages of 8 and 17. Three of them play Minecraft. I can’t even answer the question about what that evokes in my mind because there are just so many words. And most of them are not family-appropriate.

  38. Nella

    Hard floors 4EVAH!!!! We have one last section of carpet in my upstairs hallway coming down the stairs and when it is gone it will be the best day. Hard floors always come clean, carpet never really does, and I don’t have it together enough to be a “spot cleaner”.

    #5–Minecraft = Arguments Ex. “MOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!! Anna’s in MY world and she DUG A HOLE!” What do I do with that?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      โ€œMOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!! Annaโ€™s in MY world and she DUG A HOLE!โ€

      Oh my gosh. Yes. I cannot tell you how often I hear something like this.

  39. Sara McD

    I LOVE prioritizing for other people and giving unsolicited advice. It’s what makes me so popular. So in this order…
    *Fridge first.
    *teach the kids to wash dishes (ha! I know, right?)
    *a board on saw horses with a vinyl tablecloth
    *replace the couch with wood rockers and benches from a thrift store OR Ikea makes fairly inexpensive couches with washable and replaceable covers. Of course, the nicer the cover, the more expensive it is. I once bought a cover from them for only $10 because it was PINK – and yes, it was hideous.
    *wood, tile or even linoleum rather than carpet.

    Seriously, carpet with kids and pets is usually kind of gross.

  40. Kinga

    My boy is just 3 year old, but I have daughters that are 8 and 12. Yes I know Minecraft:)

  41. TheReluctantWidow

    #5 my immediate reaction to the word “minecraft” is Aaaarrrgh! I have three boys that fall in the demographic and Minecraft is only on my iPad right now. The fights that take place during the few times I will give them the password to my iPad are enough to make me delete it permanently. Bane of my existence.

  42. Amy

    My 10 year old loves Minecraft. He has built some totally amazing things in creative mode. We regulate his use carefully because he has some obsessive tendencies, but I am regularly amazed by his imagination. Lately he’s been begging for server so he can host his friends in Skyshroom City. We are in negotiations with him over that.

  43. Christine

    I have a 17, 15, 12 and 10 yr old who all play Minecraft at the same time. Building worlds and trading stuff etc… It is an amazing game.

    Just found out they now have stain glass windows on the game! From last nights dinner conversation.

  44. Kathryn

    Minecraft. It is to boys what Pinterest is to moms.

  45. Debbie

    Minecraft- Me: All things in moderation, My sons: Can we play it? Can we watch it? Can we talk about it? All day long…

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      That’s really the perfect analogy.

  46. Lisa

    Back when we were first married, we bought things brand new. But then those lovely things were demolished by our horde of lovely children. So now we have realized the benefit of resale shops (they’re not just for clothes and toys) and craig’s list. We have an embarrassing number of fridges and freezers (4!) with a grand total of $1000 invested. They may not be pretty, but they work. We use benches for half the table and chairs for the other half. It saves space and allows for more seating. We also made a 4 x 8 table from a sheet of plywood and cannibalized our old table for the legs. $100 for wood and poly. It now seats 12 comfortably–but I can never seem to get everyone to sit down at the same time. To fit that giant table, we switched the functions of our living and dining rooms. Also, the white carpet that was in the dining room (why, oh why?) was so gross after a year of us, we had to get rid of it. At the time we couldn’t afford hardwood so the kids and I pulled it up and laid some stickum, wood-looking, vinyl planks and those have worked wonderfully for 4 years for about $100.

    Pirates! Your world must make so much more sense now!

  47. Laurie

    Hi Jen! I’ve been reading your quick takes for years and, though I rarely participate, I figured with #1 and #2 promptly me to laugh out loud and nod vigorously I did need to just tell you “thank you”. If you figure a good system for repairing and replacing everything you own on a tight budget, please let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. Jessica

    Minecraft? Depends on the day. Sometimes it’ll be: “Wow honey, that’s really neat.” Other days it’ll be, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE MATH AND WRITING DONE!!! MINCRAFT!?!? YOU BETTER HOPE THE ZOMBIES GET YOU BEFORE I FIND WHERE YOU HID THAT iPOD!!!”

  49. Sydney

    These are gold nuggets, not “quick takes”!! Favorites: the discovery that your children are pirates and they come by it honestly; your answers to survey questions. They’re going to give you the “something just went very, very right” call, if I have anything to do with it! (Which I don’t, just FYI.)

  50. Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

    Love the “Great Depression Cooking” videos! I always love to look at old cook books and now I can watch the recipes being made.
    Thanks for the link!

  51. Karen

    Poorman’s Meal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    I found that lovely grandma’s channel a few years ago. Poorman’s Meal is my 18yo son’s favorite go-to meal. Anytime, anywhere, any amount, he’ll eat it and like it. Awesome quick dish for teens!

  52. Anna

    Number 5….conversations I don’t understand.

    side note: I am scrolling oh so carefully so as not to accidentally view the giant bug of doom in the next post.

  53. jenny

    Jen i was watching HGTV at the gym last night (like how i legitimized the behavior?) and I watched an install of a ‘wood-grained tile’ floor in a kitchen/living room for 2 grand. It was touted as being super durable and longer lasting than a hardwood, esp in high traffic situations, and it honestly looked pretty awesome once installed. How’s your family set for head injuries?

  54. Hannah

    I love depression era cooking! It always seems to be in line with whatever ingredients that I am missing… Completely cool that your kids are pirates…

  55. Cynthia

    Hi Jenn !! I love your blog and have for some time. Great job being a mother of many, slayer of scorpions and writer of witty prose.

    In my humble opinion, you should spring for a floor. In my experience a floor outlast the couch. Also, it is possible to come across a used sofa on craigslist, or a friend of a friend. I have never seen anyone offering flooring that way.
    Have a wonderful weekend

  56. Patty

    I would put hard wood floors pretty far up on my priority list, unless your refrigerator is not running at all. Or if you can’t afford socks! When we pulled up our carpet, it was NASTY underneath and we have a good vacuum cleaner. This is what we got:


    Ours is hand-scraped, not completely smooth, which helps camouflage little dings. It’s very durable though. We did the living room, dining, kitchen, and attached hallway, but I hope to do bedrooms someday.

    Oh, and I LOVED the Great Depression Granny!!!

  57. syd

    Vinyl wood plank flooring.

    Do it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  58. kim

    minecraft= good and bad. We have known about it here for several years. My sons were some of the first players by their login numbers…but in the last few years that game has exploded. The only thing that I think you NEED to know is that there are different versions of this game. I was not aware of it. there is one called Minecraft HD which is nothing but a PORN game. Seriously…be wary all you moms! I would ask, what are you guys playing and they would reply minecraft–and I thought it was all the same—had no idea there were certain servers that could take you places you don’t want to be. So watch out. Other than that….it is an educational game I guess. My kids have built cities etc…also be careful of chat modes as well…I tell my kids to turn off chat or they can’t play. But, in the last few months I only let them do the downloadable version… so its not technically online. Xbox has a minecraft game but wii doesn’t so far.

    • kim

      i mean minecraft hardcore not just hd and minecraft hg (hunger games)is questionable. the point is the various servers are not always kid safe.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Yikes, I didn’t know that! Thanks!

  59. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    You are constantly finding the best stuff, I swear. That cooking channel: delightful.

    And, just out of curiosity, did a package ever make its way to your door?

  60. Teresa Rodenbaugh

    Young children and hardwood floors? I’d like to recommend you think of going another way… vinyl that looks like hardwoods and lays out like wood planks. We took up the hardwoods in our kitchen and put this down and I LOVE it. The dogs can’t/don’t scratch it up and when something spills or mud is tracked in I can just get a mop and go. I don’t have to treat it ‘special’ because it’s wood. Every single person that comes into my home tells me how beautiful my hardwood floors are and when I tell them it’s vinyl they are dumbfounded. I am not kidding. It is not cheap – it’s as expensive as hardwoods but I totally think it is the way to go. I live north of Dallas and my husband and his brother own the oldest business in town which does just happen to sell flooring and appliances. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you ever want to see how these look with a real family living in a real house you just let me know the next time you are up this way.

  61. Nod

    Minecraft is a simple, yet addictive, block building game. It offers creative play and non-linear exploration.

    The problem comes with the addictive part. ‘Gaming gives instant rewards to those who enjoy playing them and so it can become quite addictive.’ For ADHD kids, the rewards are exaggerated and they can end up hyper-focusing on it to the point of obsession.

    My son has Aspergers and ADHD, so does the neighbor’s kid. The neighbor plays Minecraft, my son does not on the advice of his counselor.

    Which is right? Sorry, dunno.

  62. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    I firmly believe that the publisher’s marketing department is having a field day with your answers. I’m sure they get straight bio information all of the time, and that people can find on Google. You, my dear blogging diva, are making them laugh, which is a blessing and a pretty good motivator for getting others to promote you, I might add.

    I am fairly certain you already know about this wonderful gem by Veggie Tales, but in case it has somehow escaped your watchful eye, I highly recommend that you make the classic song “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” the background music for a family video shoot. It would be perfect in light of your recent discovery that your little people are quite good pirates. Of course, you have helped them along in developing the true traits of great pirates: having the courage to tackle nature, be colorful and adventuresome, and the wisdom to know when itโ€™s time to slink back to your cave for a while ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I did know about that song, but I’d forgotten about it. EXCELLENT idea.

  63. Colleen

    I was so excited when I stumbled upon your post about carpet beetles awhile back. Being the neat freak in my family, I was literally driving myself insane when all these tiny little creatures started appearing in my house! And they were not just in the carpeted areas either, honestly they were the worst in the kitchen (eeeeewwwwww!!! bugs in the kitchen!!) but the exterminator said they are attracted to light and I have a bright kitchen. thank you for being honest and helping me to know I’m not the only one with this issue!
    Also, estate sales are a great idea as someone mentioned or tent sales at local furniture stores! We got a new table recently for 75% off because they wanted it out of their inventory! Also check Scratch and Dent stores near you for appliances. That’s where we got out front loaders and we got 2 for the price of what you’d pay for one in the regular stores. The appliances are in perfect working order, they may just have minor cosmetic issues. And they are sold at extreme discounts! Happy shopping matey!

  64. Rita @ Open Window

    Clara is just wonderful! I love watching her cook. Having to leave school because they couldn’t afford socks….that does put things in perspective. Wow.

  65. Lynn

    You can pull up your carpet and then paint the subfloor to live on while you wait to afford hardwood ๐Ÿ™‚

  66. Misty

    Minecraft = recently replaced by Disney Infinity (which is basically a Minecraft/Skylanders combination) Be warned. It is coming!

  67. Barbara

    Table fix: We still have our small table, but have added a topper. We put some of that squishy, non-skid shelf liner directly on the table top, then laid a big board over it. We have a 4′ x 8′ particle board (my husband rounded the edges and coated it with polyurethane) and a narrower (40″ x 8′) solid wood board (rounded, stained, and polyurethaned). Advantages: We can still use the small table sometimes, the fix was quick and easy (no serious construction), and the board is a good craft surface (not pretty). Since the boards aren’t attractive, we use tablecloths all the time. I buy them on sale at BBB, and they are easier than a plain table–shake off the crumbs, launder when necessary. Washing and wiping a large table was a lot more of a pain. Not convinced? There’s more here: http://thinkaboutthesethings.blogspot.com/2010/08/in-praise-of-tablecloths.html

  68. FloridaHSMom

    Table- IKEA! Love their tables..;) and benches.
    Minecraft – UGH! What is the obsession with boxy zombies and animals??
    Floors – porcelain tile and done. It’s amazing stuff. Hardwood or laminate causes problems here in florida tho with the extra humidity and heat, and Texas sounds hot and humid too. Also, when those pesky centipedes come about, and Joe squishes them, it’s easy clean up. Not that hardwood is bad, just more expensive. Laminate is cheaper, but still can get pretty scratched up we found. The mom who loves berber.. well, as long as it’s not the kind that gets pulled up and suddenly you have a line down the middle of the carpet that you can’t put back together..;)

  69. JUD

    You know what’s really weird, I am backreading blogs from last year, I do not want to miss anything. Sometimes I check for recent posts. Today I was reading this blog about Minecraft. I thought, in America the kids were already addicted to Minecraft last year. Anyway, no use replying to a year old mail. But then I saw, 2013. I checked the date and yes, it was last Friday’s post. I don’t get this game with the square stuff, but my son is allowed to play. I have been checking a lot thought, especially the language they use in conversations, that gets really bad sometimes (he has his own server and plays with friends, sometimes in real life and sometimes on the computer). He did learn a lot of English, but the pronunciation is terrible sometimes.

  70. elizabethe

    Having just gone through an 8 year project of getting our house in order, including replacing/dealing with all of the things you have described (okay, not duct tape, but I did have a very bad fridge we replaced at some point) I can unequivocally state that this is the order in which you should attend to those things in terms of highest quality of life payoff to expenditure.

    1. slip cover for sofa which you can wash on extra hot. Get two.
    2. hard wood floors (this is triply so if anyone in your family suffers from allergies, my husbands allergies were GREATLY diminished when we ripped out our carpet, and we didn’t even have that much carpet).
    3. table
    3a. INSTITUTE RULE THAT THERE IS NO EATING EXCEPT IN KITCHEN/DINING ROOM! I have auntie leila backing me up on this, so just do it. It will take like 3 weeks of draconian behavior on your part but it pays off in so many different ways.
    4. Dishwasher
    5. Fridge
    6. sofa (get a leather one, cf. discussion at Danielle Bean’s website about best sofa material for large families many many years ago. Sure they will scratch is up, but that looks charming, whereas stains just look disgusting. Speaking as someone who has scratched up leather furniture and stained upholstered furniture).

    If you suddenly find an estate sale or bargain for one of the others things you need to buy, then jump on it. Also, if the fridge or dishwasher actually breaks, then obviously, they come first, although I’m with the person above who says you can live without the dishwasher. Sometimes, just for fun, I do all the dishes by hand for an entire day and it’s not that big a deal to just wash it right away and put it away. The dishwasher is really just a storage place for dirty dishes that lets you choose the time of washing. Once you are handling all the dishes to put them into the thing it doesn’t take that much more effort to wash them.

  71. Liesl

    I like that being listed on Camp Patton’s blogroll is listed as one of your honors. SO TRUE.

  72. Marcie

    I wanted to give you a suggestion regarding the kitchen table. We recently bought a picnic table for our growing family. After it was stained and varnished, it looked really cute! There are some nice ones at Fifth Room, but even a $99 table at Home Depot has charm!

  73. Sarah

    My initial response to the word “Minecraft” was literally a mental “augh!” No words, just an inarticulate shriek. Avoid it if you possibly can!

  74. Rhonda Ortiz

    Catching up on blogs – #3, LOL. If it’s any comfort, my academic husband’s day looks closer to yours than the long list of academic qualifications would have you believe. Especially the potty-training bit.

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