Diary of a Tired Mom – The Please No More Words Edition

It’s been a weird month for me.

My subconscious wants to write very badly – I have dreamed about writing blog posts multiple times in the past month.

And those dreams have not been limited to when I was asleep.

When I got my first dose ever of “the gas” at the dentist, I was so trippy that my entire being was spinning out in staticky, multicolored, 8D spirals, and as the galaxies orbited what was left of me, I began realizing deep truths such as “I don’t even exist anymore. But I faintly hear the dentist still drilling on my teeth. I wonder if she realizes I don’t exist anymore. Someone should tell her she’s wasting her time except it can’t be me because I don’t exist anymore. But wow this would make a great blog post. Wait until I describe these new colors and sensations to the world. It will CHANGE IT.”

(Right after that, I came back to existence enough to rip off the gas and vomit three times.)

(I’m pretty sure my dentist will not allow me to have such services again.)

So yeah, a weird month. But despite my desire to write, I have had a rough month health-wise, so I haven’t been able to write. I’m getting better, so I’ll try to document some of my jotted-down notes from the month.

(Except not the rest of my thoughts from the dentist’s chair. Because those would change the universe too drastically and I’m not ready to pull the rug out from under y’all like that.)


Tiers of Childhood Monologue.

In case you haven’t noticed, kids talk a lot.

They ask a lot of questions, tells the same things over and over, and LOVE to, once they can read, tell you everything they are reading.

The prime ages for this phenomenon, I believe, is between 6 and 10. Which helps me understand a little more why toddlers are middle schoolers are my jam.

(But, Noah is the snuggliest nine-year-old boy that ever lived, which entirely makes up for his endless words. Most of the time.)

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(Also he’s prepared for anything. Which comes in handy more often than you’d think. Though I did tell him I was afraid this particular preparation belt would keep me from having grandkids if he fell at the wrong angle.)

Car rides are especially difficult for words with me, because the multi-tasking of operating a large machine AND listening to my kid (because I learned long ago that I am entirely incapable of tuning out any words ever) is tricky. So I have tried to hone the quality of words that come out in the car.

And so, there needs to be a helpful chart – a continuum if you will – of the things read or narrated to a parent while said parent is driving.

Level Negative Ten: iPad narration. I DO NOT CARE what your Monsters are singing about. THAT IS GREAT that you just killed all your Minecraft villagers and goats, but is it really? Did those angular goats really deserve that slaughter? But whatever you want to do to the goats, do it – just don’t tell me about it while I’m driving. (We even have a family code word (more on that later) for QUIT NARRATING YOUR IPAD GAME TO ME.)

Level Negative Eight: Unnecessary and/or repetitive questions about the future. This seems like a placeholder in conversation that my children love to use to fill space. Thankfully Ali learned my terror of answering questions about the future a couple years ago and ceased doing it most of the time, but it’s still a favorite hobby of Noah’s.

Level Negative Six: Jokes from a joke book. Or worse, jokes they know and have already told you ten times. Jokes are excruciating 99 out of 100 times. But then there’s always that one joke that catches you off guard and actually makes you laugh, which makes it not so bad.

Level Negative Two: Trivia books and Guinness Book of World Record books. These facts, read aloud, can be sometimes interesting. But then they seem to read the same pages over and over and they begin to feel like jokes.

Level Positive Two: Hearing about the books they’re reading, or their school books. I like knowing that they’re interested and involved in what they’re reading. Although Noah sometimes gets too involved in his history book, throwing his book on the floor and screaming at our forefathers for their prejudices, poor decision making, and foolish life-ending dueling. But that can be entertaining as well, giving this oration an overall positive rating.

Level Positive Four: Family Feud Cards. This is the one random Car Conversation Savior that I’ve found I enjoy. Someone got these for Christmas, and Noah loves quizzing Chris and I on Family Feud categories. They’re actually entertaining with the same magic that Family Feud is entertaining as a show – magic I don’t necessarily understand but appreciate nonetheless. But what makes them most fun is the children’s uncertainty about whether they’re inappropriate or not when they don’t understand them.

I present this example:

Noah: “Name things that start with the word ‘skinny'”

I snorted. My first thought was “Skinny B**ch”

I wondered if it was on the card, but I certainly wasn’t going to ask.

Chris and I got a few right, then trailed off.

Noah: “Do you give up?”

Us: “Sure.”

Noah:”There’s only one left but I think it’s inappropriate.”

Me: “Oh here it comes.”

Noah: “It’s ‘Skinny Late’ with Two T’s.”

Chris and I thought for a second, then exploded with laughter.

And immediately dared each other to go into Starbucks and order a Skinny Late with Two T’s.


I’m learning how to live with an apparent extrovert.

I held out hope for a long time that Noah was just an outgoing introvert, but the evidence continues to suggest a strong strain of extroversion. The amount of sounds that need to come out of his mouth at all times is staggering. It’s mostly questions but also comments, sounds, random thoughts, and just a stream of consciousness.

As such, over the past few years, we’ve created a collection of Callahan Family Code Words. I only have to say one word, and he knows exactly what I mean, rather than me having to use up all my words telling him to use less words.

Here is the legend to the Callahan Family Code Words. We haven’t copyrighted them, and so we offer them free to help you, too, have a less verbally overwhelming life.

Rubiks – “You’re making random, repetitive, completely unnecessary noises and I let it go for a while but I now need you to cease.”

Honda – “That question is either a.) a question about the future, b.) a completely unnecessary question, or c.) you’re just out of questions for the day because you’ve asked more than my brain can possibly handle. So I’m not answering it.”

Blubbermuffin – “NO ONE wants to hear your narration of your iPad game. If you don’t want your iPad to disappear forever, you’re gonna have to keep your mouth shut while playing.”

Banana – “Quit using your mouth and start using your eyes. We’re on a hike forgoodnesssake can we enjoy the sounds of nature PLEASE.”

The nicest part of these words is that I have to be less rude as a mother. There’s much less emotional content to just say “Honda” rather than “FOR THE LOVE DO NOT ASK ME ANOTHER BLOOMIN’ QUESTION, CHILD.” He knows what I mean and he accepts it without emotion. AND, the magic of the code word keeps him from arguing with me – it just ends the conversation.

But despite my code words’ helpfulness, I do assume this blog post has fully informed you of where my headspace has been going and why I haven’t had any words left for writing.

The Calamity of Educational Gaps.

Sometimes people ask me how I know what all my kids need to learn in their homeschool education. “How do you make sure there’s not a gap in their learning, or be assured that you didn’t forget anything?”

Since I was homeschooled, and know very little about the pre-college group education scene myself, I suppose I could ask the same thing back – how do you know your kids don’t have gaps? My Dad was sick a lot in the fifth grade and totally missed fractions – but was an absolute genius in the construction, mechanical, and art genres without them. (Fractions are totally redundant, apparently.)

But, if we’re being honest, there were gaps in my education.

For instance, I somehow made it to the ripe age of 17 before I had ever heard the word “turd”. It’s not that I didn’t know much worse stuff, but somehow that particular word had slipped through the cracks. When my boyfriend/future-husband used it for the first time in my presence, I actually had to inquire as to its definition, and it took me more years than you would think to find where it went in the order of profanity – somewhere between “silly” and “butthole”, I think – but I could be wrong. I believe that being able to line up all the words in order of badness is one of those developmental processes that once the age passes that you’re supposed to perform that cognitive task, you can’t get it back. Like learning to skip. Or speaking eight languages.

So yes, sometimes there are gaps.

Thankfully, sometimes other kids fill those gaps in for your kids, and it’s always amusing when you find out, via another kid, where your kid’s gaps were.

Last Wednesday was one of those gap-filling days.

We took one of Noah’s friends, Levi, home with us between events for a little while, and in the car on the way home, Ali, who incidentally was in the process of turning thirteen that very day, was delightfully narrating a made-up choose-your-own-adventure for the two boys. Ali was choosing Day One of Thirteen to prove that teenagers were amazing and she wasn’t done enjoying entertaining her brother and his friends yet.

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So it went something like this.

Ali: “Levi. You just came up to a bridge over a river or a normal path. Do you choose to walk across the bridge, or the plain path?”

Levi: “I choose to walk across the bridge.”

Ali: “You got to the middle of the bridge, but there was a troll under it. He just jumped up onto the bridge and is blocking you. What are you going to do?”

Levi: “Kick ‘im in the nuts!”

Noah. Lost. It.

He started screaming with cackles and repeatedly saying the phrase over and over. Like me at 17, he knows much worse things – he knows all the biggie words and we’ve had The Birds and the Bees talk. But the melodic beauty of “kick ‘im in the nuts” was clearly a first-time experience for him, and I as his mother was nearly as happy to get to witness this developmental milestone as I was his first steps. Except oh yeah – I wasn’t responsible for Noah or Ali’s first steps so I didn’t see either of them. But at least I got kick ‘im in the nuts.

Fifteen minutes later, while in line at Chick-Fil-A, this was the toned down version of his ongoing mirth over this amazing phrase:

(Note A: We were also behind a car with a BUTS sticker on it, which is the name of our local trail running club – Birmingham Ultra Trail Society. Hence the “butt” in front of us.)

(Note B: That was newly thirteen-year-old Ali trying to calm them down. While her much more mature mother was sneakily recording the entire thing.)

I cannot explain to you the level of joy that Levi gifted my son with that day by teaching him such a useful tool, and I will be eternally grateful for his filling in the gaps of my educational system.

And, on the way home, Noah offered in-kind information to Levi, because we in the homeschool community work together to help each other.

Noah: “Do you know about the Wright Brothers?”

Levi: “What were they right about?”

Noah: “No, their name was WRIGHT. With a W.”

Levi: “Oh. No. I haven’t met them yet.”

Noah: “No, they’re dead. You can’t meet them. But they invented the airplane.”

Levi: “Oh! Cool.”

Although I’m sure that Levi would have learned about the Wright Brothers soon enough on his own, I feel like this was a completely even informational gap-filling trade. But in Noah’s mind, Levi definitely brought more to the table.

Epilogue: Kicking the troll in the nuts did not work. The troll told Levi a riddle, which he got wrong, so the troll ate Levi. But thankfully, trolls eat humans whole, and Levi caused a bit of trolly indigestion, and so the troll threw Levi up and Levi was able to make an escape, albeit a bit covered in Troll Bile. The moral of this story is: trolls don’t have nuts. Or it was a girl troll. Or I guess we don’t really know enough about this particular troll situation to accurately draw out the moral.

Introducing: Buddy The Snake.

We are a little over a month into being A Pet Family.

Meet Buddy the Snake, Noah’s much awaited ninth birthday present, a tiny baby Ball Python. 

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Buddy is an extrovert,

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always doing crazy things like hanging upside down to drink his water (show off),

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Fixing my hair in new and creative ways,

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Curling up with his gauges,

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And helping me edit pictures.

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He’s definitely a people snake, loving to cuddle with us and crawl around, stealing our heat. And our heart.

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But he is opinionated. He will sniff a visitor (with his tongue) and turn around and scamper up my arm if he deems the visitor unsavory.

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And he will camp out on Chris, because he is always emanating heat. (I’m not saying that Chris does lift his shirt to allow Buddy to curl up on him like a heat rock, but I’m not saying he doesn’t.) 

He is also a bit like a Look ‘N Find book, with all sorts of fun patterns and shapes.

We call this his row of Bunnies,

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This is his keyhole,

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This is his Monsters Inc. tattoo,

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And this is E.T.

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The first three weeks of Buddy ownership were a delight. He was always willing to play, a super easy pet to own (Only feed once a week! Play with him if you feel like it! No hair on the furniture!)

But then.

It Came to Pass that it was time for Buddy’s first shed. Turns out, baby snakes shed a lot – every 4-12 weeks, whereas adult snakes can shed as little as once a year. I did not know that the shedding process is a long, ugly, stressful one. And when you’re a baby snake whose mother abandoned you in the egg, nobody is there to explain the facts of life. Nobody is there to answer your snakey questions.

“Why is my skin so itchy?”

“Why don’t I have fingers to scratch my itches?”

“Why am I suddenly blind?”

“How to I remove this outer layer from my body?”

“Is this how I’m going to feel from now on?”

And so, Buddy entered into a severe season of Man Flu. Gone was his quirky personality and high activity. He was now a mopey, hormonal teenager who didn’t know what was happening to his body. 

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He spent a day in his hide. Then he spent two days in his water bowl, as if he were in a hot tub, chillin’, waiting for the ladies to show up.

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His coloring changed dramatically, dulling and becoming gray.

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He spent another two days in his hide.

Then finally, he began to shed. We woke up in the morning and there were a couple scraps of shed in his cage. Which isn’t how it’s supposed to happen – it’s supposed to come off in one long un-holey sock, including the eye caps, which was what had been making him blind for the better part of a week – because yes, they shed the outer layer of their eyes as well.

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Now. The first thing that the Google tells you about your snake not fully shedding is that it’s definitely somehow your fault. OF COURSE. Your tank isn’t humid enough, pet owner. But alas, Google, we have a humidity and temperature gauge on both sides of the tank, and it IS humid enough. The second explanation is that perhaps he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, and this too shall pass as he gets older and more familiar with his body. 

So then I started reading about what one must do to help when their snake struggles to shed. Even though shedding should be a five minute process, you don’t interfere for the first 24 hours. After that, the internet resoundingly agrees that the best way to help your snake is to put them in a sauna – a bowl with a lid and warm water and placed under their heat lamp, then peel them with a wet, warm washcloth.

Oh my goodness I get to peel my snake. Like a freakin’ banana.

(I mean Noah’s snake. Obviously Buddy is Noah’s snake.)

So that’s what I did.

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It took three days of Sauna-then-Peeling to get all of the skin off of his body, but his head (and eyes) were still covered because of course he couldn’t soak those as easily.

Buddy The Snake IMG_0717 smallThe beautiful color transformation mesmerized me.

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But on the fourth day of his Spa Treatment, the skin lifted up from his head enough that I was able to grasp ahold of it and slowly pull and …. Yes. I peeled Buddy’s eyes off.

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He wasn’t excited about the concept, but he never once, in all of this or for any other reason, snapped at me. If I May Say So Myself, pretty much any dog would have snapped at me if I peeled his eyes off. But our snake is a kind, loving, trusting, pacifist sort who has no interest in hurting me, his loving owner.

(I mean his loving owner’s mother. Because of course Buddy is Noah’s snake.)

So I peeled his eyes off (which was a much less violent solution than one thing the internet suggested, which was sticking a piece of scotch tape on their eyes and ripping them off – DO NOT always do what the internet tells you, people), and immediately, it was as if the scales fell from his eyes (oh wait they did) and he was the happiest, most excited snake I’ve ever seen. He crawled all around me and hugged my arm with love and appreciation for de-blinding him. I’m pretty sure he was singing the first verse of Amazing Grace repeatedly in his tiny snakey head. We bonded that day, Buddy and I.

So Buddy has continued his happy residency with us, enjoying cuddling and smelling us with his tongue and making slo-mo videos of said smelling. 

He’s pretty much the best pet I’ve ever had.

(I mean he’s the best pet Noah ever had. Because of course Buddy is Noah’s snake.)

Yesterday was Noah’s actual ninth birthday (he got lucky and got his present six weeks early), so while we were remaking this important birthday photo,

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Back Camera

We went ahead and had a photoshoot with Buddy. So that we could always remember what he was like when he was just a wee little precious puppy snake.
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Merry First Christmas, Buddy.

After this Christmas Photoshoot, Buddy has requested a Buddy The Elf Costume for Christmas, but we’ve yet to find one that fits a small creature with no limbs. Hoping that since he KNOWS Santa, his Christmas dreams will come true.