I’m reposting this from another blog I follow. Check it out!

Becoming Cliche


I like watching movies with my kids. Who wouldn’t? A cold, rainy afternoon simply begs to be spent under the covers watching a treasured classic. As I dust off the old favorites, I’m finding I get a lot of questions. And some of them are a little hard to answer. I am at a loss as to how I should explain the following:

***Spoiler Alert***

The Road to El Dorado– This is an older DreamWorks production (2000AD) with stylized animation and a fabulous Hans Zimmer soundtrack. A star-studded cast, it’s well-acted and often funny. It’s rated PG. For human sacrifice. Thumbs up, DreamWorks.

Toy Story III – A continuation of the story of Buzz and Woody. Except this time, they’re abandoned by their beloved Andy and are eventually taken to an incinerator where the characters say goodbye to one another in  anticipation their fiery end. Sweet dreams…

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Survival Tip #4

It’s Monday. I can remember back to the days of being a kid. Saturday morning would come and I could hardly get out of bed fast enough. There were cartoons to watch!!! I’d tear out of my bed faster than a cat trying to avoid a bath (trust me, that’s fast)! I’d flip on the TV and turn the volume down as fast as I could so I wouldn’t wake up my parents (that’s something my kids haven’t learned yet, I guess). And I’d turn the channel to the USA Network, ready to take in what they referred to as the “Cartoon Express.”

Cartoon Express: One of the few good things to come out of the 80's!

These days, however, there is no tearing out of bed Saturday morning for me. There is no racing to the TV to see what I’d be missing if I had slept in. No, sadly that eagerness has been replaced with the adult (boring) habit of attempting to sleep in. I say attempting because it rarely ever happens.

One thing I fail to understand is that the same kids you literally have to threaten to get out of bed for school each morning mysteriously can’t seem to sleep past the first hint of sunlight come Saturday morning. I guess I could understand it if the Cartoon Express still existed…heck, we don’t even have cable!

So, with that in mind, I present…

Survival Tip #4: Learn to ENJOY the Weekend

Monday through Friday I’m awake before 6:00 AM. Sunday I’m up around 7:00 to make sure we make it to church on time (five kids take time to get ready!). So, when Saturday rolls around, my natural instinct is to cling to every last bit of sleep I possibly can. Unfortunately, as I mentioned about, those natural instincts are usually destroyed disturbed by the results of some other natural instincts.

So, since sleep isn’t really an option, why not enjoy the weekend? Hang out with your kids! Do something fun!

I can hear you saying now, “But Mike, I have five kids. I can’t afford to do anything fun!” Hey, I have five kids too, I know how it is. But your idea of fun (fun=expensive) doesn’t equal your kids idea of fun (fun=cardboard box or fun=making strange noises). Make sure you’re not so eager to cross things off your to do list that you just leave your kids to do whatever they think is fun on their own. Odds are anyway that their idea of fun will be to be directly in the way of your idea of productivity (more likely, their idea of fun will be to destroy everything you’ve accomplished).

Saturday is most likely the only day you’ll get in a week to have fun. Sure, you might squeeze something in on an evening somewhere. But bottom line is, you’re usually too wiped out to try to have fun on a weeknight. So, next Saturday, take your family and do something fun. It can just be running around in the yard. It can be having a family movie day in front of the TV. It can be whatever your imagination can dream up. Kids are entertained very differently than you, so just make sure you’re doing something to recharge your emotional and physical batteries.

And if you don’t get Saturdays off, pick another day of the week to be your fake Saturday. You need it. Your kids need it. Your health and life depends on it.  Am I typing this as someone who has been great at doing this? No!  It’s more like I’m preaching to the choir here! It’s something I am going to try and be more purposeful about.

So go, enjoy your day off and have fun.

Until next time.

Some Days You Gotta Pick & Choose

Let me start my latest blog post by saying I’m sorry it has been three days since my last post (feel like I’m in a Confessional or something). When I started this blog, my goal was to post every day. I missed one day in the first week due to illness, which couldn’t be helped.

This time around, missing three days in a row causes a variety of different reactions in me. On one hand, I’m frustrated because I didn’t achieve the goal I set. But on the other hand, I know that my reasons for “skipping it” were valid. The first day I missed posting was because I had a long day and needed to just unwind and not think about “doing” anything. The two following days, we had company over.  We played games, ate dinner, goofed off, and had fun. And, I have to keep telling myself that is ok.

You see, as a parent your life is a constant juggling match (is that a thing?), spending every waking hour trying to keep all your priorities straight and trying to make sure you get everything done that needs to be done. From the moment you wake up, until the time you actually fall asleep, there are demands (not just children) pulling you in every direction. When you’re single, you can go home after work and do NOTHING. Even when you’re married without kids, you get home, spend some time together and you can both decide to do NOTHING.

But once you have kids – and remember, I have five of them – you very rarely have those NOTHING moments. Somebody needs help finding pants. Someone else needs help tying their shoe. Somebody is hungry. One of them is thirsty. This one needs help with her homework. This one forgot he has a paper due in the morning. There’s always stuff…never NOTHING.

I ran across a shirt online that is a good idea (in theory), but in reality doesn’t work with multiple children:

The person who designed this shirt clearly has no children.

With one kid, you might be able to keep them busy playing toddler/parent ping-pong. But if you have multiple children, there’s always another one standing in line, waiting (<sarcasm> patiently, of course </sarcasm>) for something from you. Bottom line is: Life with Children = Busy Life.

So, as a parent, you just have to sometimes choose to let things go. Some days you have to decide that although you desperately need to shave, it can wait. Some days you have to just decide to let cleaning the garage go another week. Some days you just have to find someone to watch the kids and take some time to do NOTHING. It’s the only way you can survive as a parent.

So, although I feel bad about missing a few days blogging, life goes on. I had to take a few days to have fun and relax a little. I’ll try not to miss another day, but it’s bound to happen. So, with that in mind…

Until next time…

The Art of the Melt-down

In my years as a father, I’ve noticed something alarming. I am thoroughly convinced that our children are secretly plotting together in a concerted effort to destroy any scrap of sanity we might have remaining (which is not a lot with five kids).

We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of the store and one of your kids totally loses their cool. It might be a fit over not getting that toy they so desperately “need.” It could be they have to go potty 2 1/2 minutes after you just took them to the potty. It could be they are so hungry they simply can’t wait another minute for you to provide sustenance for their frail, weak, emaciated little bodies. (If you made it through this paragraph without picking up on the thickly-laden cynical sarcasm, please do one of the following: (a) Re-read that paragraph using every ounce of sarcasm in your being, (b) Stop reading now. This obviously isn’t the blog for you, or (c) Dress like a pirate, go to the grocery store, and address everyone as “Me Matey!”)

"Where be your ranch dressing, Me Matey?!?"

Or maybe you’re catching up with friends right after church. One of your kids obviously must’ve stumbled upon a hidden stash of pure sugar, and is now running in circles all around the foyer, despite any attempt at discipline. You’re embarrassed out of your mind, worried that one of the well-meaning church ladies might try to cast a demon out of them if they don’t stop (sometimes YOU wonder).

But have you ever noticed that only on very rare occasions will more than one of your children have a melt-down? Sure, there’s certain days where more than one will have issues – such as the day after Halloween, the day after Easter, anywhere within a two week window either side of Christmas, etc. But outside those “special days,” that is a rare occasion. And that, I submit to you, is no coincidence.

Late at night when you’re convinced they’re sleeping, I’m convinced your children are gathering for a conference. For the sake of this blog post (it’s my blog, suck it!), I’ll call it the “Crazy Conference.” At this meeting, your children are secretly plotting together to ruin any shred of mental health that might exist. In my head, this is a very organized meeting. I imagine the children follow Robert’s Rules of Order and make up an official agenda. Although I have yet to find a meeting agenda for one, I’m convinced the agenda would look something like this:

Derrickson Children
Crazy Conference Agenda
Monday, January 30, 2012

  1. Call to Order – 2:00 AM
  2. Reading of the Minutes from the Previous Meeting
  3. Unfinished Business
    1. Grocery Shopping Prevention Measures
    2. Re-evaluate Effectiveness of Church Foyer Policies
  4. New Business
    1. Stopgap Plan to Prevent Future Dinner Invitations
    2. Fundraising Strategies to Replenish Hidden Candy Stockpile
  5. Next Meeting – Monday, February 6, 2012 – 2:00 AM
  6. Adjournment

"And then you'll climb up on Dad's head like this..."

My plan is to try and infiltrate one of these meetings and see if I can dismantle this organization. My sanity depends on it. If you don’t hear from me in the next week or so, please alert the local authorities to look for my body in the McDonald’s ball pit.

Until next time…

Getting Organized

For 2012, we’ve been working on bringing more focus to our lives. For January, this involved cutting Television out of our life. During all the times we’d just default to turning on the TV and plopping on the couch, we instead devoted that same time to doing productive things. We’d do something with our kids, knock out a project we’d been wanting to do, spend time talking together, etc. This blog was one of the things that was birthed from our “No TV” month. I discovered I desperately needed a hobby – and now this is it.

For February, our focus is to find ways to be more organized in our lives. If you couldn’t guess, when you have seven people living under one roof, life tends to be kind of busy. So, we’re looking for ways to get organized and keep track of the busyness of life.

We first attempted to map out what we needed on paper. It looked a little something like this:

Makes sense, right?!?

Our list consisted of my work events, Becky’s work events, church events, personal things, family events, etc.

So, instead we opted to go the electronic route. We both have Android phones and are Gmail users, so we decided to create several different shared calendars that we’d be able to take the chaotic list and bring some organization to.

We downloaded an app for our phones that would pull in calendar events and tasks from Gmail into an easily readable list on our phones. I have been using the app – called Gtasks – for quite a while with my personal calendar, so I knew how to use it already.

For the better part of the evening, we’ve been plugging in events on each calendar. The nice thing about going this route is if I only want to see family events (days off from school, birthdays, etc.), I can deselect the other calendars. Or if I just need to know what my wife’s schedule is, I can only select her calendar.

Of course, if we have all calendars visible at once, it begins to look a little bit like the photo above, but you can look at the whole schedule by month, week, or even one day. We’re hoping this can be effective and we can stay on top of everything.

It should be more effective than our current system!

If you have any other ideas to help us get organized, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Until next time…

Survival Tip #3

For my regular readers (as regular as a little over a week blogging can be), you’ll remember that Survival Tip #1 was “waking up early.” With that in mind, I present:

Survival Tip #3: Staying Up Late

I realize that to the uninitiated, this tip stands in direct opposition to tip #1. I can hear you (or the sleep-deprived voices in my head) saying, “But Mike, if you’re waking up early AND staying up late, aren’t you tired?!?” And my answer to you is, “YES!” (My answer to the voices in my head is, “Shutup! I’m trying to write a blog post here!”).

According to the National Sleep Foundation (who knew that existed before now?), adults need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. But if you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, obviously they’re dealing in averages. There is no such thing as getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep! You can get 7 hours of sleep, you can get 9 hours of sleep, or you can get anywhere in between. So, if they’re dealing in averages, it must mean that there are adults out there who can survive on less sleep, and adults out there who need more than that. And with my scientifical hypothesis (made up words make things sound official), I’m perfectly fine only getting an average of 5 to 7 hours of sleep (again with the averages!). Most nights I get at least six hours of sleep, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. And sometimes, I get a lot less (not very often).

I’m just confident that out there somewhere, there is some man or woman who sleeps an average of 12 to 15 hours per day. But the problem with that is, either this person is living in his or her parents basement or they’re working some job that they get paid $80 an hour and only have to work 20 hours a week. (Where can I get that job?!?).

If you’re a parent with five kids, you just have to learn to survive on little to no sleep. You see, after the kids go to bed is the only time you get with your spouse and with yourself. From the time you wake the kids up in the morning, to the time they fall asleep, life is constantly demanding things of you. You wake the kids up, they need help finding socks (or pants).  You get to work, and the day is full of people demanding stuff from you.  You get home, and there’s always things to do around the house (with five kids, there is ALWAYS stuff for you to do around the house).

So, that time after the kids are actually asleep (which is sometime well after the kids’ bedtime) is your only time to relax, decompress, spend time with your spouse, etc. If you want to survive as a parent with a lot of kids, this is your only saving grace.  You see, if you don’t have any time to relax and decompress, you’ll end up like an overcooked hot dog (which as a parent with a lot of kids, you’ll see a lot).

This one, specifically.

So, although you’ll be tired and sleep-deprived, you’ll need to wake up early AND stay up late.  It’s the only way to have a chance at remaining sane in any way at all.

Until next time…