Bottoms Up!

The hubby and I married in our early twenties. After announcing our engagement, I remember a handful of people, including my dad, ask if I was really ready. My mom and dad had married young and were divorced, so I understood their concern. After making assurances about my decision my dad offered a piece of sage advice:

Be very careful what chores you do. Whatever you do more than three times in a row will be your job for life.

I must not have been careful enough because as the years progressed I somehow found myself responsible for emptying all the trash cans upstairs. Downstairs? Those bins are different. Either of us will take their contents to the curb as needed. It stinks or overflows, and out it goes without further prompting. But bins upstairs? Those must be weighted like the hammer of Thor as only I appear to be worthy of lifting them.

Most of the bins upstairs are small and accessible, except for the one in the laundry closet. Instead, that room has a kitchen sized container wedged firmly in the narrow space between the dryer and the wall. The only way to empty it is to pull the entire thing up over the dryer, a difficult task when the can is full but not much better when empty. I am, as they say, vertically challenged, reaching above and around the dryer is no easy feat for me. When I realized I’d been tricked into dealing with the small bins, I asked the hubby if he would at least help with that one. I thought it was a pretty good offer; he wouldn’t have to empty it nearly as often as I did the others.

But I still expected it to be emptied sometime. As I pulled clothes out of the dryer this weekend, I noticed that the can was overflowing with rodent sized globs of dryer lint. Empty detergent bottles were stacked up like the Tower of Pisa. Exactly how long had it been between cleanings? (To be fair, the hubby does plenty of other chores around the house, he is just terrible remembering this one. I suspect is it on purpose.) The next trash day I found myself alone in the house with a few minutes before I was to start work. Fine, you win. I’ll do it myself.

I opened up the laundry closet and hopped atop the dryer. As I pulled the trash can up, empty plastic bags and more lint bunnies tumbled to the floor near, what was that, an empty raisin box?! How long has that been there? Visions of house fires and roach invasions filled my thoughts.

In retrospect, I should have simply grabbed my vacuum, but instead I lay on my stomach and tried reaching over the side to grab everything on the floor by hand. It was just out of reach. I inched forward. I learned my dryer’s surface is surprisingly frictionless.

death by dryerI began hurtling over the side like a penguin sliding on ice. Man, did I ever pick a bad day to wear a skirt. I was going to crack my head on the floor. My body wouldn’t be found until the evening with my hind quarters up in the air for all the world to see. My friends would toast my memory with a ‘bottoms up’ and wouldn’t even pretend not to giggle. It was just the way I always dreamed of going.

I thought fast as the ground rapidly came closer. I threw my head back so that it came in contact with the wall. It was enough to slow my downward momentum, but not completely stop it. I felt my body slip another fraction of an inch.

As I hung there with my rump in the air and blood pooling in my face, I found myself wondering, was I really content with the legacy I would be leaving behind? I mean sure, Elvis may be known for dying on a toilet (or at least within a few feet of it), but at least he also had revolutionized rock n’ roll and served his country with honor. I wanted to be known for more than just being the petite lady who met her end via a dumpster dive inside the house.

Continuing to use my head as a tripod support I slowly pushed myself back up. Returning to an upright position, I nearly lost my balance as my blood returned to its regular circulation, but I survived. This time.

Our eldest will bemoan that we “never buy him anything!” and has recently begun asking for an allowance. It may be time to make him earn it. In any event, I need to get this second book published before life kills me.

Before you ask – yes the book is actually nearly done (yes – done, done). I’ve edited and refined all but the final chapter. I’ll be asking for volunteers for a round of beta reads in June. Please stay tuned for additional details or contact me if you think you might be interested.

How I’ve embraced cheap child labor



Oh that glorious moment when you realize your children are finally old enough to really help around the house…



Our sons are lucky enough to have a large extended family, many of whom happen to live close by. This is great when the hubby and I have found ourselves in need of a babysitter, but can be expensive during the birthday and holiday season. Especially as most of the cousins are now old enough to understand the concept of presents and note their lacking. As there are several of them, birthday season now spans from July until February.


Up until very recently our eldest son (now aged 5) had been paralyzed by shyness in social situations preferring to cling to either his father or I during non-family hosted parties. Whatever had been holding him back was suddenly switched off. This change has resulted in him being invited to more birthday parties, meaning more gifts.


My husband, ever our family’s jokester informed our son that he was going to have to give his friend one of the toys he received from Christmas in response to one of his latest invitations. Our son looked at me as if to say “HELP! Dad can’t be serious!” I decided to play along with his father offering our son a deal: If he could complete enough chores to earn ten points by the end of the week, he would be able to keep his gifts and pick out something for his friend.


kindergartener supervising infant labor - _MG_1339
kindergartener supervising infant labor – _MG_1339 (Photo credit: sean dreilinger)


We drew up one of those fundraising thermometer graphs marking all ten points needed to fill it to the top. He quickly embraced the idea doing all sorts of chores around the house like emptying out the dishwasher and dragging the garbage cans back to the house, but was still sort a few points short and losing interest in the game by the end of the week. We had to think up something and think up something fast!


Then my husband had an idea. A brilliant idea. The kiddo could scrub toilets! I just had to show him how much fun it could be. You would have thought we just gave him the keys to the city! Not only was he being given some crazy blue substance that squirted out of a bottle, but Mom and Dad were actually happy he was pouring it all over the sides. If that wasn’t the best part there was a secret brush that was just his size hidden in the back corner of the bathroom.


What started out as a joke turned into a fantastic experience for us all. The hubby and I probably earned a free hour or so in the process, but the benefits to our son were even greater. He worked hard for his points and was more excited to give his friend the gift he had earned and selected than had I just picked something out. He also was able to practice math, and took pride in his results. If he figures out how to outsource work to his little brother, we may well have another budding entrepreneur in the family.


Unfortunately ever since our game, our son has taken over the bathrooms as if they were his own personal fiefdom. Woe on you if you happen to leave it in a state of mess. He will make sure to tell everyone he knows how badly you left it and how important it is that he take care of it right away. We might consider working with him on tact next.




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