No, We’re Not Trying For a Girl.

No, We're Not Trying For a Girl

We get many comments when we take out troops out in public all together.  Some are funny and do make me laugh.  ”Starting your own football team?”  Some make me smile, “I raised 5 boys too.  Boys are such a joy!”

Some make me think, “Did you really just say that in front of my children?” This isn’t meant to be a rant post but rather a “think before you speak” post. I did address this in my post 10 Things to Never Say to Moms of Boys but this one in particular I think needs extra attention.

The things that strangers say that bothers me the most is “So, trying for a girl?” I know you are not meaning to be offensive (or I hope so) but I don’t find this funny or appropriate, especially in front of my children.  It belittles who they are.  Kids are great at connecting the dots and saying that will likely lead to them thinking we don’t want him because he’s a boy, especially #3 and 4. They might think we were disappointed when they were born because they weren’t our longed for daughter.

Let me clear the air for everyone.  I have 4 boys because I wanted 4 children.  If we had had 1 boy and then 1 girl, we still would have had 2 more children. Boy or girl does not matter.

I like surprises but chose to have ultrasounds with all of my children because I didn’t want others to be disappointed at their birth. I knew I would be over joyed meeting my child for the first time, boy or girl, but I didn’t trust others to be as joyful and that made me sad. I didn’t want their birth to be clouded with disappointment.  I know most of my wonderful family would be truly happy and some at the very least would fein joy but I would still feel the disappointment in the air.

I saw a TV show once where a mom of many boys (I believe there were at least 6) was pregnant and the ultrasound showed a girl.  But they were wrong and she birthed another boy.  The mom was crazy with grief and wouldn’t even hold the child.  What kind of mother bases her love for her children on whether they are a boy or a girl?! What did that show her other children? I had to turn it off, I was so mad. And this was before I had my own houseful of boys. Maybe she reconciled her feelings at the end but no child should enter the world unwanted like that.

If we decide to have more children, there is a high chance it’ll be another boy and I’m fine with that.  Apparently we don’t make girls and I’ve accepted that. Heck, if I have a girl, I’d get booted from the Moms of Boys club. I’d have to buy all new clothes, very few hand me downs (I admit, I see that more as a plus than a minus).  It’d be a pretty big paradigm shift for me. All I know is boy. And I have to admit, girls kind of scare me, especially teenage girls.  I was one.

Even if someone were actually trying for a girl, it’s not something you bring up.  In most cases I’m sure the family loves each and every one of their blessings whether they are a girl or a boy. Even if the mom or dad were disappointed in not having a girl, chances are they are not disappointed in the child they did have.  And planting those thoughts in the child is not very thoughtful. If they are a good parent, they would keep those feelings to themselves and not want them aired in front of their children.

Please don’t ask a mom that question. And of course, this goes for moms of only girls as well.

A Boy and His Cowboy Boots

A Boy and His Cowboy Boots

“Go get your shoes on.”

“Dey not shoes!”

“Then find your boots.”

“Dey not boots.  Dey Cowboy Boots!”


Don’t call them shoes. They are so much more than that.

They aren’t just any old boots either.

They are cowboy boots!


Crumpled Paper: An Object Lesson in Being Nice

An Object Lesson in Being Nice.

I hear many people bring their kids home to homeschool because their kids were bullied in school.  Sadly, bullying can happen even in a homeschool situation.  We’ve actually been dealing with this more than I would like.  With 4 boys, it’s easy for 2 or 3 to gang up on one.  Yes, I’m there to intervene but I would rather it not happen at all.  I want them to treat each other with respect when I’m there and when I’m not.

My super, amazing, awesome, really cool friend told me about this idea she got from Pinterest.  Use a crumpled piece of paper to teach about treating other people with respect, not to bully and just plain treat each other right. Sometimes I’m astounded by the sheer awesomeness of some people.  Who comes up with this stuff?  Just amazing.

So I gathered the boys together and gave each of them a perfectly crisp piece of paper.  Then I told them to crumple it up into a ball to which they happily obliged. They crumpled it, stomped on it, sat on it, threw it across the room, and mashed them into oblivion. They were more than happy to do their worst to their poor piece of paper.

Next I asked them to smooth it out.  They smoothed it out on the table, tightly pulled it along the edge, one of them even ran it under water to try to smooth out the wrinkles (which thankfully didn’t really work either).

Then I asked them, “Is it fixed?  Is it like it was when I first gave it to you?”  Nope, not even close.

“Ok, now say you’re sorry.” Which they all did, in a silly mocking way.

“Did that make it better?”

“No.” Of course not, it didn’t fix anything.

“How about if you say it like you really really mean it?”

They gave it their best, some very heartfelt apologies. They are surprisingly good actors.

Nope, the paper was still a horribly marred mess.

“What did make it better?”

Smoothing it out did make it better than a crumpled up ball.  So action, doing something, did help.

“Is the paper like it was before you crumpled it up into a ball?”

No. It’s scarred. It will never be the same.

“So what can we do to keep from scarring the paper?”

Aah, don’t crumple it up in the first place.

The same goes for our relationships with others.  If you are mean to someone, say something bad, call them a name, even hurt them physically, it’s like crumpling them up into a ball. You can apologize but that doesn’t fix what you did.  You can pick them up, give them a hug, do whatever you can to make them feel better and that might really help.  But there will still be scars.  When they see you, they’ll be reminded of how you treated them before.

So if you hear me tell my boys, “Don’t crumple your brother!” you’ll know what I mean.


Candle Powered Heater Flower Pot Heater


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Is it frickin’ freezing where you are? We are just pulling out of our cold snap and might even see 0F.  Sunday’s high was -21F and yesterday we spiked the thermometer at -10F and it almost felt warm.

At -10F, the house heaters are able to keep up just fine, especially with the sun shining during the day.  But when it gets colder than that and there is wind, it can get chilly in the house.  I saw this little trick a few weeks back and thought we’d give it a shot.

I am amazed at how well it actually works.

Of course since we are dealing with fire, it’s uber important to make sure kids understand the danger and that you put the heater in a safe place, out of reach of small hands.  These can get quite hot pretty quickly.

These heaters can lead to a great discussion about heat conduction.

This video is a great tutorial on how to put one together.

It’s very simple to put together and can be done a few different ways.  The first version I saw didn’t bother with nuts and bolts and simply stacked 2 pots on top of a couple bricks over a few candles.  Easy peasy. We opted to bolt them all together after experimenting with the simple version just to make it easier to move.


  • 10″ diameter clay flower pot
  • 8″ diameter clay flower pot
  • 6″ diameter clay flower pot (optional)
  • one 4-5″ long 3/4″ bolt
  • three bolts, 3/4″
  • 3 washers, 3/4″, must be bigger than the whole in the bottom of your pots

1. Place first nut and washer on the bolt.  Gently put the bolt through the hole in the bottom of the biggest pot.

2. Add the second largest pot and one washer to the bolt. Wind the second nut on the bolt, about an inch or two from the bottom of the second pot.

3. Add the small pot (if using) and one washer to the bolt. Wind the third nut onto the bold, about an inch or two from the bottom and add washer.

4.  Very careful, turn the whole thing over.  The internal pots should be resting on the washers.

Using my mad graphics skilz, the order on the bolt goes:

flower pot heater diagram

Place pot onto of something.  Air flow is important.  The candles will extinguish themselves if there isn’t enough air. We used a few different things and found these mason jars worked the best.  Bricks are another great option (I’m planning on grabbing a couple the next time we run to town). We tried a square glass dish as shown in one video we saw but it just didn’t have enough air flow.

You can use simple cheap tealights to power this but you can also use an oil lamp like we did. An oil lamp with fiberglass wicks last much longer than tea lights.  Here are great instructions for making an oil lamp out of a mason jar:

Here is ours all put together.

Candle Powered Flower Pot Heater.  It really works! ~Noise Covered in Dirt

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Fun in the Cold

It’s negative nasty here.  Seriously, if you think it’s cold where you are, don’t whine to me unless you hit colder than -30F because that’s how cold it got here last night.  The high yesterday, as in highest temperature of the day, was -20F.  Not to mention the evil wind that makes it feel colder than it actually is. What does -60F feel like? I don’t know, I refused to go outside when it was that cold.

At the time of this video, it was -12F and the wind had calmed down.  It almost felt warm… almost, not quite.

We thought we would do a little experiment today to see if the temperature of the water mattered when making an ice vapor cloud.  It does, it really really does.

Tiger Boy is manning the cold cup, Ninja Boy is in charge of the warm water and I took the boiling water. Computer Boy and Dragon Boy manned the camera.

Uh, so no one told me that one of my pant legs was up.  And yes, I’m wearing my pajamas pants.  I did put a sweater on. And no, Ninja Boy forgot to grab his hat and decided to put a light jacket on.  We were 10 steps away from the door so I let it slide.  We were only out for 2 minutes, maybe. It’s only -12F anyway, not that cold :-)

Before we went outside, we made our hypotheses.  It wasn’t really much of a discussion because we’ve thrown boiling water before.  We’ve just never thrown cold water or warm water. The three older boys all guessed that the boiling water would make the best cloud, the warm water would make a small cloud and the cold water would not make a cloud.

So what is an ice vapor cloud and why does it happen?

When you throw water into the air, it spreads out creating more surface area and freezes into a cloud.  The hotter the water, the better the cloud.

Hot water works better because hot water actually freezes faster than cold water.  Weird, huh?  You can read why here: Can Hot Water Freeze Faster Than Cold Water  (another experiment for another day). One of my theories about why hot water turns into a more spectacular vapor cloud is the fact that it’s already just one step away from being a gas anyway.  As water gets hotter, it’s molecules become more active.  Throw that active water into dry cold air and you get an brilliant ice cloud.

Warm water did create a cloud, just not as spectacular as the boiling water. Cold air was a dud and just turned into ice when it hit the ground (which happened to be on the driveway, whoops!).

The next thing we’d like to test out is how warm the outside air can be and still work.  There are more factors than heat that affect the outcome but we have consistently dry air here in the winter.  We’ll record the humidity as well as the temperature when we do this.  Stay tuned….

Teaching Respect With Respect

Teaching Respect With Respect

I almost jokingly entitled this “Dealing with Back Talk From Those Pesky Teens” but I didn’t want to confuse people with my sarcasm. What’s wrong with that title? I’ll explain a little later on.

I have a 13 who looks like he’s 15.  He just surpassed me in height and that says a lot because I’m not short.  I started wearing heels more often just to make sure I stay taller than him a little longer.  I might make him shave his head soon too (I jest, I’d never force him to cut his hair).

We began struggling with him talking back to us not too long ago.  It really took me by surprise because he’s normally a very respectful, mild mannered child.  I think that is where I went wrong.  I’ve still been thinking of him as a child.

We were at taekwondo camp this last week and he was picking out his nunchucks, or numb-chucks as all my kids insist on calling them (sahng ja bong for those in the know) and he grabbed a child sized pair.  I told him, “Put those ones back.  You’re an adult.”  Those words stopped me cold.  You’re an adult.  Holy crap!  He’s not a child, he’s a young adult.  When did that happen?!

That’s exactly where I had been going wrong.  He’s a young adult and I’ve been treating him like a child.  Expecting him to obey me without question.  Telling him to do things rather than asking.  My tone of voice with him was very different than it would be if I were talking to an adult.  That’s gotta be frustrating for him!  And then I imagined how I would feel if someone talked to me like I talk to him.  You know what?  I would good and well talk back.

I’ve been now trying to make a more conscious effort to speak to him like I would any other adult.  He is still a child in many ways yet, after all, he is only 13.  But in many ways he is very much an adult and I need to treat him as such.

Instead of demanding he do his chores, I remind him they need to be done and allow him the freedom to choose when to do them (within reason, of course, we have living creatures that depend on him).  There are consequences to not getting his chores done but they are directly related to not getting the chore done.  For instance, if he forgets to take the trash out to the road, he has to pay for the week of missed trash pick up.  If he does it a second week, he has to buy me a new trash can.  Now, rather than waiting for me to tell him to do his chores, he gets them done right away.  He figured out that if he does them early in the day, he won’t have to worry about forgetting to do them later.  Plus, he said he loves the look on my face when I ask him to do a chore and he tells me he already did it.  I’ll admit, I do sometimes lose it when I want to make dinner and there are no clean dishes to even make dinner with.  I try to remember to take a deep breath and inform them that there will be no dinner if there are no dishes to cook with or to eat off of.

We also talk about how back talk is disrespectful.  I’ve told him, rather than getting snotty, just tell me in a respectful manner what is upsetting him.  I’ll listen.  Respect goes both ways.  Show them respect and they’ll desire to show you the same respect.

Since I changed my mindset, the back talk stopped. Take note of that.  I changed my behavior first and his behavior changed as a result.  I didn’t demand that he change.

And this whole experience made me think, should I be talking differently to my younger children who are still children?

Do we really want our children to be trained to obey adults without question?  Do we want children to accept that they are subhuman, unworthy of respect?  I sure don’t.  I’d much rather have a child who questions authority than a child who blinding accepts it.  I’m not raising sheep.  I’m raising world changers.

So back to the title I almost used “Dealing with Back Talk From Those Pesky Teens.”  Back talk?  Maybe not.  Maybe they are just expressing frustration at being treated like a lesser human.  Kids (and adults) do things for a reason.  Address the cause and the symptoms (behaviors) should subside. Pesky?  Gah, don’t speak so negative about your kids.  Teen?  I think I’m going to strike that word from my dictionary and replace it with “young adult”.  The term “teen” wasn’t coined until the 1900′s. The term teen carries with it vision of immaturity, shirking responsibility, and an extended childhood. Before that, they were adults. You’d be surprised how kids will rise to our high expectations the same way they are more than happy to sink to our low expectations.

So my wise words of wisdom regarding teens?  Stop thinking of them as children or even teens and start thinking of them and treating them as the adults they are.  I’m still working on this.  I can’t count how many times I’ve had to apologize for disrespecting them and talking to them like they were subhuman.  But I do apologize and they respect me for it and we move on. I’m still a work in progress.


A Year in Review: 2013

What happens when cousins get together?  You get a big pile of boy.

What happens when cousins get together? You get a big pile of boy.

Noise Covered in Dirt celebrates its first birth day on January 18th so this post is more like a life in review.  I started Noise Covered in Dirt on a whim while on vacation to visit family in Minnesota.  10 hours of nothing but time to think got me thinking, “It’s time to start a blog.” The idea of Noise Covered in Dirt had been on my mind for quite a long time, I just needed 10 hours of boring highway to flesh it out and a first story to write.  Some of my bestest funniest stories come from adventures on the road.  My first two stories I Haffa Go Poop! and The Boy Who Cried Poop were the reason I had to start this blog.  Stories like that need to be told. While those 2 stories did not make the top 10, here are the ones that did.

#1 10 Things to Never Say To Moms of Boys

#2 Got Worms? Make a Worm Compost Bin Out of Buckets

#3 Japanese Multiplication Trick

#4 Banana Egg Pancakes

#5 Get on the Potty Train!   My experience with potty training boys both the “wait until they are ready” method and “elimination communication”.

#6 Everybody Farts A Truly embarrassing story.

#7 Organized Packing For a Family

#8 You Know You’re a Mom of Boys When…

#9 What’s Red and Tastes Like Dirt

#10 Breastfeeding With Boys

#11 Public Embarrassing Kid Stories

#12 Mommy is Sick This post is why I chose 12 things instead of 10.  This is one of my most favorite posts of the year.

Happy New Year!

Organized Packing for a Family

Organized Packing for Families

I’m going to pass the secret to packing that I got from my grandma.  She was the mother of 9 so she knew what she was doing. Nice, tidy, little rolls of clothing.  Everything you need to wear for one day in a roll.

I make these clothing rolls not only because they are convenient but they are compact, they keep clothes surprisingly wrinkle free and easily accessible.  I don’t know about your kids but if I were to fold their clothes and put them neatly in a suitcase, it would end up a big ball of crazy only a day into the trip.  This keeps that from happening.

Clothing rolls consist of everything you need to put on your body for that day.  Pants, shirt, undies, socks. Lay the pants out, place the shirt on top, add the undies and socks at the top and start rolling.  Keep it nice and tight.  Make a roll for every day that you will be gone.  Some days I skip the pants and just make a shirt/undies/sock roll because we re-wear jeans as long as they aren’t dirty.

We have 3 suitcases and 1 duffel bag  for the 6 of us. 1 suitcase for 2 people, each person getting half of a suitcase and a duffel bag for while we’re on the road.

While on the road, I pack just 1 bag for everyone with exactly what we need for the days we’ll be on the road.  I can get 3 days worth of clothes for 6 people into 1 medium sized duffel bag.  I’m good.  I deserve an award. This makes our hotel stay much easier.  Only one bag to drag in and out.  Dirty clothes go in one large garbage bag.

Now repacking to go home is a different matter entirely.  The dirty clothes bag gets stuffed into one or two empty suitcases and any remaining clean close goes in the last suitcase or duffel bag. Unpacking is no fun. I’d much rather pack for a trip than unpack.  We’ve been home 5 days and I still haven’t unpacked our bags from the last trip.

Do you have any packing tips?  Share in the comments!


Boys Will Be Boys

Boys Will Be Boys

Husbeast and I were talking about stereotypes tonight. Here are some of our thoughts.

Stereotypes are around for a reason and they don’t have to be bad.

Boys are, in general, rough. When my boys meet their friends, they run at them full bore and fall into a heap on the ground to wrestle. They like building things, they like cars and construction vehicles. They will turn anything into a sword or a gun. They seek to protect.

Girls, in general, are more nurturing so they do tend to go to dolls for play and they are, in general, more gentle. When they see each other, they are more apt to hug than wrestle. They giggle, a lot. I don’t have girls but I was one. I remember this.

When a group of kids get together, the girls tend to play with girls and the boys stick with boys, in general.

Breastfeeding Around Boys

Dragon Boy with Baby Bobby

That doesn’t mean that every boy is rough and tough, nor does it mean every girl likes to wear tutus and play with dolls. It’s all good. Boys can learn to knit and play with dolls and girls can dig in the mud and kick butt in taekwondo.

There are actual differences in the brains of boys and girls. We are different and that is just fine.

Stereotypes are based on truths.  They are only bad when we base our expectation on those stereotypes.

Love your kids for who they are.



Taming the Laundry Beast

Taming the Laundry Beast

How much laundry does a family with 4 boys and 2 grown ups make?  Almost sounds like the beginning of a joke and sometimes it seems like it is a joke. A joke on me.  It’s quite an amazing amount especially in the summer when they are outside all day and uber stinky and dirty.  Winter isn’t too much better because they need more clothes to keep warm. The only funny part about this post is the fact that it is me writing about housekeeping.  If you know me, housekeeping is not my strong suit.  But, laundry I do have mostly under control. Mostly.

Laundry In One Central Location

All laundry is kept in one central location.  For us it’s the bathroom.  I’d rather it be in the laundry room but it just doesn’t fit in there.  If the children change clothes in their bedroom, they have instructions to bring the dirty clothes immediately downstairs to the bathroom be sorted. Whether they actually do that or not… yeah, not all the time.  They usually change clothes in the bathroom anyway.

Sort Immediately

I have a laundry sorter with 4 bags.  Get a sorter with as many bags as you need (usually they come with 3 or 4 bags). I sort mine by color, keeping things simple for the boys.  Whites, colors, jeans, and towels.  Handwashed or delicates are usually mine and I keep them in a separate basket in my room. If things get put in the wrong basket, I’m in the bathroom many times during the day so it gets put in the right place soon enough.

Wash Often

Rather than doing all the laundry on one day of the week, I do one or two loads of laundry every day of the week. I don’t think there is enough time in the day for me to get all the laundry done in one day unless I went to a laundromat.

Fold and Put Away Immediately

If you are lucky enough to have a folding table in your laundry room, fold the clothes as you take them out of the dryer.  I don’t so I take the basket of clothes to my room to fold and sort on my bed.  This doesn’t always happen but I try very hard to never let laundry sit in baskets unfolded (I say this as I’m looking at a basket near my feet that has been sitting there unfolded for about 3 days). I hand the boys their pile and they are to immediately put them away in their drawers (or at least that is the plan).

Wash a Load Every Day

Well, most days at least.  I need to do about 2 loads of laundry 5 days a week to keep up.  If I need to take a day off here or there, no big deal. I don’t even think I could do all the laundry in just one day, there is just too much. I’d much rather devote 15-30 mins a day to laundry than spend the entire day doing it.

Enlist Help

The boys help with laundry.  The 3 older boys know how to start a load and transfer it to the dryer.  They help fold clothes sometimes but I prefer to do the folding myself.  I have them do it occasionally so they get practice (I always end up refolding my own clothes).

What does your laundry routine look like?