Guest post: Captain's Log

Captain’s log: What happens when Mom is left alone with three boys under six for five days. 

Three boys, one mom, five days, no dad. There are many strong humans who are used to this sort of thing and roll with the punches. For me, one soft with the presence of consistent reinforcements, it seemed like an eternity; every second brought a crumbling of my mental stature. 

While alone, I documented my condition through a series of logs shared via social media. The following is a transcript and photo-log of how I survived using the my life raft of sarcasm and my 72 hour kit of cynicism. 

Captain's log, Day 3 sans reinforcements: 

Captain can’t remember the last she changed her underwear. Found a band aid in hair this morning, not sure where it came from. Natives are growing restless, their access to sugar and screens is increasing dramatically.

Captain survives nights by watching too many episodes of Hoarders and eating unspeakable amounts of ice cream. 

Captain fears an uprising is imminent, and requests, if she perishes, to please bury her near a quiet bathroom so at least in the afterlife Captain can pee in peace.

Captain's log, day 4 sans reinforcements:

Shower managed, but at the expense of a box of Cheerios, the contents of which still remains ground into captain's new, expensive, and impulsively purchased wool area rug. 

Natives have learned 2 new swears, claiming captain yelled them at various natives throughout the day. Captain denies such claims. 

Morale is looking up as captain's extended family has sent pizza to the ship and crew and natives are now dining in peace. Captain’s motivation to cook meals is all but gone due to crushing fatigue and growing indifference to the ‘five servings of fruits and veggies a day’ rule.

Captain still seeks a quiet place to pee, as solitary urination has not yet been achieved.

Captain’s log, Day 5, help arrives:

Reinforcements have arrived, and not a moment too soon as natives had grown deaf to Captain's voice and anarchy was building. Her commands now make natives laugh and throw food. 

Order has been restored, but reinforcements may be sleeping on couch after complaining about free massage received on voyage.

Also, if reinforcements do not stop talking about luxury of 5-hour-long solo flight, Captain may be forced to feed natives diet coke and leave the house right before bedtime. 

Captain has, at last, peed alone.


"Cooking dinner with a toddler underfoot is always a blast." from Instagram @robynn.garfield

"Cooking dinner with a toddler underfoot is always a blast." from Instagram @robynn.garfield

Robynn Garfield has worked as a professional writer and journalist for 10 years. Her employment adventures have included out of Salt Lake City, freelance work for NPR and CNN, and a fruit salad of writing projects featured in published anthologies, blogs (), and angry letters to the editor. 

Robynn currently stays at home with her three young boys. She staves off insanity by reading crap on the Internet and waiting longingly by the front door every night for her husband to come home.

Five crazy kid alarm clocks

We start school in two weeks. Over the summer some of the kids shifted into different bedrooms and how we managed school mornings last year isn't going to work this year. While we were discussing our new wake-up routines, I told the kids about the alarm clock that I had as a kid. It was a rooster playing the guitar and it sang the most annoying song over and over again until you pushed on its head. And like any millennial parent, I thought I'd see if it was on youtube to show my kids. Ten seconds later we were watching the terror of my childhood mornings:

Can you feel the emotion?

My brother had the alarm clock with a gorilla playing the drums. And my mom had a clock where a wino clown whistled at the top of the hour. That one freaked out my friends during high school movie nights. 

Apparently I don't own enough whacky clocks as an adult. But watching all of these clocks from my childhood caused my children to want a crazy alarm clock for their school mornings this year. We did a little internet searching and here are some of the whackiest and most amazing alarm clocks we found right now:


A dancing, rapping bacon alarm clock. What is not to love? (LINK)

gun alarm clock.png

This gun alarm clock has my little boys the most excited. You have to shoot the target to get the alarm to stop, which sounds fun to them and painful to me. (LINK)

If your kids like cars and racing, imagine how revved they would be to wake up every morning to "start your engines" and the intense sounds of race cars. I might have a heart attack, but if you've got a deep sleeper, this could be your/their answer. (LINK)

Star projection at night and eight different sound options to wake your child. I love this one, but my boys aren't buying it. I love ceiling projections. (LINK)

A cuckoo alarm clock perfect for kids. It's vintage and current and I want one for my room. (LINK)

A new alarm clock might be just what we need to get everyone up on the first day of school. And every day of school thereafter. Let's hope so, at least.

Do your kids wake up with an alarm clock or do you wake them up?

You learn and you learn

I was at a youth camp last week, helping young women "learn and grow" (and yes, I intended those quotation marks every little bit). There was one day that the girls got in groups of 10-15 and walked around different ropes courses with themes and team building exercises. I was put in charge of one where eight girls had to stand inside a small roped-off area that was a "sinking ship." Somehow they had to figure out how to grab a rope suspended from two trees six feet away to get them off the ship and over shark-infested waters to a tiny marked-off "island." 

If they fell off the rope or dragged in any way, the sharks won and they would "die"... but then go back to the end of the line. In other words, just like real life. I would have four groups of girls come to my little ropes course where I would give them the rules, watch them work through it, and then guide them through discussions about what it all meant and represented.

My first group came through and it consisted mostly of the girls I knew (including my own daughter). Since it was my first group, I STUCK to the rules, I strictly left them to figure it all out, I might have even had my arms crossed while watching them struggle. I thought that was my role, I thought it was how they would learn. Then an old leader who has watched this activity hundreds of times came over and gave them big helps. 

I felt like a moron for not doing it sooner. Three out of fifteen girls got across and the discussion was lame. 

They left to their next course activity and I got my new group, where I felt much more prepared. Everyone got a shot at crossing the shark-infested waters, but some girls were unsuccessful and I let them give up super easily. I figured they at least got to try. They slunk over to the logs and sat while everyone else finished and the discussion was moderately better.

The third group of girls came and I had great passive suggestions that helped them all get across, save for a couple who tried a few times but didn't want to keep going. I get it, I thought to myself. I have strong legs, but my upper body struggles in carrying all of my weight. I didn't want them to feel self conscious, because I know that I would. The discussion was more spirited than the previous two, but still a bit stifled.

Do you see where this is going yet? 

The last group came and I was ready for it. I had all of the wonderful suggestions that I had learned from the previous groups. I had much better insight and was more aware of the girls' moods and skills. They fed off my energy and killed the whole activity that they ALL got to the island (even those with less upper-arm strength than THIS GAL), had a really inspiring conversation, and they all tried crossing again. 

It was a completely different experience than the first group. I kept thinking about the differences and what I could have done better. But, in the end I realized that I had to learn how to lead the group just as much as the groups of girls had to learn how to successfully complete the course.

Is it any surprise that with FOUR kids of my own that I kept thinking about how my four groups are like my parenting? With my first, I had it all figured out. She wouldn't ever be messy, she would always be super polite, eat all her dinner, have a bedtime, get straight As, and overall prove that I am a great leader/parent. Arms folded and everything, I would make sure she learned.

Second child, I am a little more relaxed, but still probably too hard and assuming. Third child gets a lot of love and leeway (probably too much leeway). I've learned how to accept who he is and his strengths. My last child is spirited, understood, and so far successful in all he does. He even gets chances to do more than the others ever did, because we have both learned a lot more quickly how to get through the challenges. 

It's the same song and dance I hear my parents and older siblings talk about. No matter how hard you try, the first child gets the arms-folded parent determined to prove that THEY are good parents. The baby of the family is confident because maybe his nose wasn't on the wall as often. I don't know. Sometimes I think my youngest needs his nose on the wall more often. And perhaps our generation of parenting (and the one just beginning) is so afraid of being "mean" parents that we are raising over-indulgent, over-privileged humans. How do we have fourth-group ropes-course experiences with our first kids without the brattiness? 

It's so tricky, trying to learn how to raise good humans. Who knew that our PARENTS were also LEARNING to lead while being all parent-y on us? What do you do? Any tricks for the rest of us needing a seasoned older leader who has seen this course hundred of times before?