The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Page 60 of 69

Are you a Mary or a Martha?

When I was pregnant for the first time, somebody gave me a beautifully hand printed copy of the following poem:

The Value of Values

Oh Mother! Oh Mother! Come shake out your cloths.
Empty the dustpan and chase off the moths.
Hang out the washing and make up the bed.
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is that mother, whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due.
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing to stew.
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo.
But I’m playing “Kanga” and this is my “Roo.”
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait until tomorrow.
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep.
I’m nursing my baby and babies don’t keep.

I thought it was a really sweet gift at the time.

Only, that little lyric really f#*ked my sh!t up.

Because three children and two incredibly hairy pets later, I feel guilty all the time that my house is “so shocking” AND that I never spend enough quality time with any of my babies.

And this has really been on my mind this week, as I’ve struggled with all the to-dos leading up to Valentine’s Day… the making, the baking, and the faking.  Kidding on that last one… just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

To make matters worse, a few days ago in my weekly Bible Study class we learned about the parable of Mary and Martha in the Gospel According to Luke (10:38). Do you know that one? Oh, it’s a humdinger. In a nutshell, Jesus goes to visit two sisters in Bethany named Mary and Martha. And while Martha is running herself ragged with all the housework, Mary is just kicking back with JC, listening to his tales and soaking up all his glory. Martha gets all pissy and basically says, “Hey Jesus. WTH? Would you please tell Ms. Lazy Bones there to get off her culo and help a sister out, yo?” And Jesus is all, “Chillax, Martha, dang. You are stressing out about all the wrong things, baby. Mary gets it. You should take a tip from your sister and check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

Well, more or less. Just go with it. Or better yet, go dust off your Bible and read the real version. It is only one paragraph. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Isn’t that a great Bible story? I just love that one. Mainly because I am such a Martha, but I wish I were a Mary. And by Martha, I mean a frazzled nag with messed up priorities who wastes way too much precious time sweatin’ the small stuff. And by Mary, I mean a calm, cool, collected Earth Mama who is just oozing peace and harmony. How about you? Are you a Martha, or a Mary? Discuss amongst yourselves.

You know what else is so great about that one little paragraph of the New Testament? It clearly demonstrates Jesus’ “openness to and acceptance of women among his followers.” (NOAB, 4th edition, p. 1851) If Jesus didn’t think women were worthy of his discipleship, he wouldn’t have been sitting there teaching Martha how to be a better person. He would have been like, “Shut yer yap and bring me a camel pot pie, woman.” Something to ponder, your Holiness, the next time you are wondering WWJD with regards to female Deacons and Priests. Just sayin’.

Anyhooo, my point is, now the author of the poem above AND Jesus are telling me to prioritize my life differently. But you know what my Priest says? He says we can’t all be Marys or nothing would ever get done. And I say, AMEN to that.

So in summary, we all probably need to be a little of both. A little Martha so you and your family don’t starve to death or resort to hamper-diving for undies come Monday morning; and a little Mary so you can remember to slow down and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. Because really, that’s why we’re here… to build the Kingdom on Earth, and the only way to do that is by loving each other. Of course it’s much easier to love each other with full bellies and clean undies, but whatever.

Also, if I may be so bold; easy for Mary. If Jesus were in my family room, I think I’d rather hang with him than fold the loin-cloths too. But since what I have in my house right now is a bunch of wild-eyed hooligans shouting “It’s MINE!” “NO, it’s MINE!” “GIVE IT TO ME, YOU LITTLE TURD.” “You’re a dum-dum. I’m telling!” … I think I’ll just duck into the other room and try to look busy. Yep… Martha wins by a nose. Sorry Mary. Better luck next time.

'Christ in the House of Mary and Martha' painted by Vincenzo Campi (circa 1536 - 1591)

Image credit:

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


I don’t often get to say that I’m ahead of the game, so cooking with my Crock Pot is always a nice boost to the self esteem. I just love being able to get all that pesky meal prep out of the way early in the day while I’m still all hopped up on the French Roast and not totally consumed with beating my children trying to survive the Witching Hour.

So tonight we’ll be eating barbecue pork sandwiches made from my children’s favorite cut of meat, The Boston Butt. This just tickles their funny bones like nothing else in my kitchen, with the possible exception of wieners and porcupine balls.

My three year old, Bucket Head, is especially fond of this meal. But this is a child who frequently just stops for no reason, points to his pooper, and says “Butt.”


Personally, I love this meal because it requires just a handful of ingredients, and I can toss it in the Crock Pot and forget about it for the whole live long day.

I’m not very good at taking pictures while I cook, so I can’t show you step by step how I did most of this, but here’s what it looked like right before I put the lid on it and walked away:


To make this yourself, all you need is a big ol’ Boston Butt pork roast. I like the kind with the bone in, but I’m sure you knew that already. Oh yes I did.

You will also need a few onions, some fresh thyme, and a can of Coke.

This recipe is so easy, I could probably do it blindfolded with my toes while texting The Star Spangled Banner, Christina Aguilera style. All you do is liberally season your big ol’ butt with salt and pepper, then brown it on all sides in an oily skillet, and toss it in your Crock Pot. Chop a few onions into big wedges and throw those in too. Then add a few whole sprigs of thyme and pour an entire can of Coke over the whole thing. Put a lid on that sucker and go about your bidness. Cook that bad boy all day on low. Or if you get a late start like I did today, give it a couple hours on high and then turn it to low for the rest of the day.

When it’s almost time for dinner, take that gorgeous tender butt out and let it rest for a spell while you whip up some cole slaw and open a can of baked beans. Once it is cool enough to touch, have your hunk-a-hunk-a-burning-love chop it up for you. Or do it yourself… I just couldn’t chop and take pictures at the same time, der.


Just so we’re clear, those hairy knuckles are not mine. They belong to The Gatekeeper. Now where was I? Oh yes…

Now mix in some barbecue sauce and a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar if you like it North Carolina style like we do. If my kids weren’t so wimpy I’d add some heat too at this point. No biggie though, I can just put it on my own sandwich at the table.


Now gather up the fam, say a blessing, and dig in! Butt jokes are optional, of course, but at my house this meal always spurs numerous compliments like: “Oh Mom! Your butt is so tender and juicy!” And “I yike your butt, Mommy.” And “Mom, your butt rocks.”  So yeah… no wonder I love cooking this meal.

Happy trails,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Clutter Rehab: A Book Report by Iris Beard

So my very own copy of Clutter Rehab: 101 Tips and Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It! by Laura Wittmann arrived in the mail yesterday and I curled up on my couch and read that cute little book cover to cover!

And man oh man have I been doing it all wrong for 41 years.

On the VERY FIRST PAGE, in the very VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH, Laura says:

Let me start right off by admitting my little secret: I’m an organization addict. Yes, it’s true! But this doesn’t mean I have all my soup cans lined up in pretty little rows with their labels facing out, my spices alphabetized, or perfectly color-coordinated bins and baskets. My sheets aren’t folded and stacked pristinely, and I don’t make my kids sort their Legos by color!


Uh… I totally just spent a week of my life sorting Legos and then spent over $100 on a Swedish-engineered storage masterpiece. Seriously. The handle on my 3 year old pleather Target purse is broken and shedding little vinyl dingleberries everywhere I go, but I spent $100 on a fancy toy box? What is wrong with me?

What would Laura have done?

Oh, here it is, Tip #15: Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive–make do.

Damn it.

Wanna know what else I’m doing wrong?


What I used to think were oh-so-clever labeled and color coded laundry sorting bins.

Yes, Laura says “Stop sorting your laundry” (tip # 86). She just puts a basket in each of her three kids’ closets and when the basket is full, the whole load goes right in the washer. Brilliant!!! She does have a few other laundry tips on that page to keep the colors from running, but I don’t want to give the milk away for free, if you know what I mean. You’ll just have to get her book if you really want to know (and you do, believe me!). But truly, she said this tip was LIFE CHANGING for her. And can you imagine how much easier it would be to put clothes away, or even have the kids do it, if the whole basket was filled with just one kid’s stuff? I’m going to rip those fancy shmancy labels right off and stick one hamper in each kid’s closet… pronto. And you know what else… I’m going to take it to the next level and teach my 11 year old Nature Boy to just do his own damn laundry. Of course I’ll have to clean out the laundry room first since I’m the only one in this house who knows where the detergent is and the difference between a Tide To Go Stick and a Clorox Bleach Pen. Stupid men. But anyway… I’ll just add it to my list… as soon as I find it. Not kidding.

There is ONE thing I’ve been doing right that I think might make my organizing guru proud… Tip # 78: Designate a charging station. I created this little custom space saving charging station all by myself a few weeks ago. Laura is all about re-purposing items for creative storage solutions and utilizing valuable “real estate” efficiently. I think this one is a winner! How about you?

My custom cat litter box and charging station. Super!


Okay seriously. Get this book. Totally worth it. I pretty much own every organizing book ever written, and this one, by far, is the most practical and user friendly one in my collection. I’ve tried Feng Shui, I’ve tried Fly Lady, I’ve tried Peter Walsh, I’ve even tried books written especially for people with A.D.D. I’m also a subscriber to the Organizer Lady daily Yahoo group newsletter. None of them compare to Clutter Rehab or Laura’s blog, I’m an Organizing Junkie, in my humble opinion.

Well… get to it. Your house is not going to organize itself, you know.

with love and optimism,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

The ONE kitchen gadget I can’t live without.

How does a busy mom-on-the-go feed the kids, discipline the pets, and manage the household all at once? Easy. All you need is a handy dandy large glass bowl like this:

What? You don’t see how a simple glass mixing bowl could possibly do all that? Well let me paint a picture for you, friends.

It’s 8:00 AM, and Bucket Head sits down to eat his freshly toasted store-brand waffle. At approximately 8:01, Bucket Head senses the call of the wild and runs to the loo, leaving his vulnerable waffle alone and afraid.

Ike the Terrible is lurking on the outskirts of the kitchen… patiently watching and waiting for this very moment.

Halfway there, and realizing the potential for loss, Bucket Head shouts: “Mom – protect my food! I gotta go potty.”

That’s my cue. I am the official protector of the food. But I’m also terribly busy checking my email. I can’t just idly sit there and keep the dog off the food while Bucket Head is dropping the Browns at the Super Bowl.

But with a quick flick of the wrist, I can turn this regular glass bowl into something we like to call The Dome of Doggie Dispair.

And voilá! The waffle is momentarily safe and warm, and I am free to go about my business while Bucket Head takes his time on the Sir Thomas Crapper.

Added bonus, The Dome is equally effective for dogs and cats.

Good thing too, because look who just pulled up a chair to the breakfast buffet. Check out that sweet little gray beard. She looks just like her Mama.

As always… lazy, but somewhat clever,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Oh, sh!t.

So I go to take Bucket Head to preschool this morning and as I’m getting into the car, I notice that something is wrong.

Hmmmm. I don’t remember leaving all these plastic baggies in the front seat, I thought to myself. Upon closer inspection, I realized “the baggies” were actually just one baggie that had been shredded into numerous pieces. Near the plastic baggie shreds were also several fruit snack wrappers and granola bar wrappers, also torn to bits.

But the big give away was the torn tissues and napkins. I knew as soon as I saw the white fluffy confetti on the floor of the passenger seat that Ike had made his way into the car sometime in the last 12 hours.

"Who, me?"

What the…? How in the world did he get in there?

Then I remembered getting home from my in-laws’ Super Bowl party and carrying one of the sleeping kids into the house, leaving the van door wide open… which to Ike, is simply an invitation to an all-you-can-eat-buffet, doggie style.

I’m a mom. I drive a mini-van. I transport three children to and from a variety of activities every day. Thus, my van always has a cornucopia of crumbs and snack-stashes and dirty napkins strewn throughout it. For a dog like Ike, it is The Promised Land.

Usually, I don’t mind if he takes a quick tour of the van and sucks up the stray crumbs. But the shredding of the baggie, the wrappers, and the tissues means that he had way too much unsupervised time on his hands last night. My bad. Come on, the Steelers were on!

Scrounging for crumbs in the van isn’t his typical hunting style though. He’s usually much more brazen than that. He’s more of a kitchen-counter dine and dash kind of guy. And he’s not very good at covering his tracks. Like the butter wrapper I found on the kitchen floor this morning after my shower.

Or the toothpaste tubes I used to find under my bed before I got wise and started keeping them out of his reach.

The kids are pretty good about not leaving food around. We watch out for each other if someone needs to leave the table, and it’s not uncommon to hear Bucket Head say to his siblings “Protect my food. I’ll be right back,” because inevitably, Bucket Head always has to get up and go to the bathroom the minute he starts to eat. He is Ike’s favorite source for unattended food.

But Ike’s appetites aren’t limited to food, tissues, and toothpaste. He enjoys a variety of toys and art supplies as well. Usually we can hear him unabashedly chomping away on something suspicious and can save the toy before he swallows it. Some toys, like this vintage Fisher-Price Little People girl, put up a really good fight and are hard to swallow.

But other toys, like the stretchy green skeleton that Bucket Head carried around for weeks after Halloween, go down silently and quickly, only to be horrifyingly encased like Han Solo in the black Carbonite. Lucky for you, dear reader, I just so happened to notice this little gem while we were playing in the yard not too long ago. Poor green stretchy skeleton. We will miss you.

My husband, The Gatekeeper, would like you to know that he does not endorse my apparent affinity for scat photography or dressing the pets in Hanna Andersson pajamas.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

It’s about frickin’ time.

Finally, after 4 years and 5 months of waiting, lamenting, begging, hand wringing, and bribing… my first-born child, Nature Boy, has won a Principal Pal Award.

Perhaps you’ve heard me mention this highly coveted Elementary School prize a time or two?

Well a few days ago, he bounded off the school bus, ran to me as fast as his little 11 year old legs could carry him, and shouted “Guess what?… I GOT THE PRINCIPAL PAL AWARD!!!!!”

I practically peed my pants I was so excited. I jumped up and down and hugged him and gave him noogies and told him it was about frickin’ time he finally had a teacher who recognized what a Prince he is, only I didn’t use those exact words, I hope. I was practically apoplectic, so who knows what the hell came flying out of my mouth.

Then I blurted, “Well, where is it?! GIMME MY CAR MAGNET!” Because even though I’m truly thrilled for him to finally be publicly recognized for his outstanding character, I really just have to have a Principal Pal magnet on my car or I will simply die of shame.

And that is when he pulled out of his pocket a wrinkly little snack-sized plastic baggie that contained a school pencil, a little slip of paper with instructions on where/when to report to have his picture taken with the Principal, and a bag tag.

A mother effing bag tag.

Sooooooo not fair.

I swear I am the only mother in this county who is not driving around with one or more of those damn magnets on my mini-van. It is like an invisible bumper sticker that says “My kids and I totally suck.”

But apparently they aren’t giving out magnets anymore. Lord only knows why. But a bag tag instead? Really? Are you kidding? That’s all I get? Because I just can’t see someone at the airport luggage carousel noticing the 2″ x 2″ plastic bag tag on my suitcase and saying, “Congratulations! You must be a truly remarkable mother to have such a wonderful child!” No. This just isn’t going to cut it.

No car magnet? Fine. I’ll just improvise:

"Finally, one of my kids is a PRINCIPAL PAL! They don't give out magnets anymore, so this will have to do."

What do you think? Will this suffice? Unlike a Principal Pal car magnet that lasts forever, this will be gone after a good rain. So I’m also wearing a necklace I made with the bag tag. Luckily, it goes with everything.

"Who is Mommy's yittle Principal Pal?"

"Mom. Seriously. I think they get the point."

Don’t worry, Nature Boy is LOVING all this attention. Later that night when I tucked him in I said, “Goodnight sweetheart. I love you and I’m so proud of you for being yourself. And I’m really happy that you have such a great teacher this year who sees you the way your Daddy and I see you.”

He just smiled and said “Thanks Mom. I love you too.”

Then I asked, “Can I call you P.P.?”

“No,” he replied, totally void of enthusiasm or humor.

“How about Principal P?”


“P. Pal?”


“Okay. Goodnight sweetie.”

“Goodnight Mom.”

The next day he sent me an email about something and sure as I’m sitting here, he signed it “Love, P.P.” I’m pretty sure I did a very animated full body fist pump when I read that. YES!

So Nature Boy has a new nickname. Feel free to use it.

And in the meantime, if you see me driving around the ‘burbs of Atlanta in my tricked out mini-van, or see me at the grocery store wearing my fabulous PP necklace, please do give me a knowing smile or nod or high five about my clearly awesome parenting, I mean, child. Because really, this is all about him. Not me.

with excessive pride and vindication,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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