We’re going to be featured on Hoarders!

by Janelle Hanchett

We’re going to be featured on Hoarders!

No, we are not.

That was a lie.

[But you probably knew that already, because who the hell would excitedly announce online “We’re gonna be on a show featuring sociopaths who collect shit!”? Okay, I know. I know. It’s a mental illness. It’s serious, very sad, what a shame, etc. But it’s a damn funny mental illness. And a weird one. And I make fun of everybody, including myself. Plus, I’m rude. The end.]

Though we didn’t actually get invited to Hoarders, I bet if we sent them pictures of our hallways, living room and kitchen, we might get the green light.

Now you may ask, “Why does your house suddenly appear like one of those whack-job homes on Hoarders?”

Let me lay it out for you in plain English: because my husband and I are fucking psychos.

That was not a lie.

So you all know what my life has been lately, right? Okay, perfect. So the full gravity of the following story will hopefully sink in appropriately: on Tuesday the husband and I went to Ikea (swoon – so much crap! Most of which I can afford! And it looks only like semi-crap once it’s installed in the home! Yay!). No seriously I love that place. Don’t judge.

ANYWAY, so we get there and we’re buying a few organizational items for what will become the homeschool room, and Mac sees these fake wood floors for very, very cheap and announces “Dude, let’s put this in the homeschool room, TODAY.” And since I’ve been asking for non-carpet in there and we’re poor and I’m a total and complete lunatic, I say “for real? Yeah. Good idea.”

Holy fuck why can’t we just  be like normal people? You know, the kind who plan shit?

Why isn’t there a little voice in my head that says “MAYDAY JANELLE MAYDAY!! – redoing the floors requires moving everything out of the room in question and all that furniture and stuff will be in your hallways and living areas and it NEVER takes one day to do projects like this you steaming pile of idiot! SAY NO SAY NO!”

 But I say “yes.” Because there is something wrong with me.

So for the last 5 days you have to walk sideways down my hall and there’s a piano in my entryway and we’ve all been eating in little huddles on the floor, where there’s space. The best part is trying to carry the baby down the hall, sideways, so she’s facing the photos hung on the walls…and grabbing for them. So you have to like DART quickly sideways down the hall.

Somebody please shoot me.

Because it’s even worse than previously indicated. Once we got the floors down I realized I hate the wall color with the floors. So.we.painted.  But while at Home Depot buying the paint for the walls I saw crown moulding and said to myself “well now looky there! Ain’t that pretty?!” So we bought some. But it had to match the base boards. So we painted all.of.that.too.

And now? We’re running like hell to put this together and I ask you, from the bottom of my heart, “WHY DO I DO SHIT LIKE THIS?”

Perhaps more importantly, “Why do I never LEARN from doing shit like this?”
Because I can guarantee you the next time we do work on our house, the circumstances will be just like this time.

And it will suck just as bad.

Though in our defense, it looks damn good (I’ll post pics when it’s done). Plus, we’re having a really good time making up “caulking” jokes [read: “cock-ing”]. Yes, we’re classy.


[To cheer me up, please CLICK HERE (or on the badge on the right) to vote for me for CBS Sacramento’s Most Valuable Blogger Award. I’ve never been nominated for anything, let alone won anything. So please. Hook it up, friends.]

Do they ever stop talking? EVER?

by Janelle Hanchett


So yesterday I went out with the three kids. Mac was working (shocker), and I was feeling ambitious and altruistic, figuring “I can handle this. I’m a good mom.” Plus, if I’m OUT of my house I don’t have to deal with the mess IN my house.

I know. I’m a thinker.

So we went to breakfast. Then we went to a craft store to pick out fabric for curtains I’ll never actually sew, and we walked around the 2nd-hand baby store (where I bitched about the prices, realizing I can buy the same shit for cheaper at Old Navy and it’s NEW)…then we went to a couple other stores, then Costco.

And really the little hoodlums were pretty good. I mean they’re kids, so they can’t be THAT good, but for kids, they were alright.

But by the end of our outing I realized something: My kids never stop talking. They never, ever, ever fucking EVER stop talking.

“Mama, do you think it’s weird when girls talk about boys they like?”

“Mama, why are we going this way? Can’t we walk to the next store? Why can’t we walk? I wanna walk. We never walk ANYWHERE. Why do we never walk anywhere?”

“Mama, can we buy this wooden chest of drawers for my doll clothes?”

“Mama, I love it when I fart in my underwear.”

“Mama, Georgia has a booger.”

“Mama, you never buy us anything.”

“Mama, how do the police tell the bad guys from the good guys?”

“Mama, how did the Russian Revolution start?” (Yes, Ava actually asked that.)

“Mama, how come Hitler used gas on the Jews when  all the countries signed that agreement after World War I promising never to use gas again during war?” (and that too.)

“Mama, will I ever grow up as tall as daddy? How tall is daddy? Is he taller than an elephant? I want to be taller than an elephant. A crane is taller than an elephant. But what about a giraffe? Is daddy taller than a giraffe? A crane is taller than a giraffe for sure. Pretty much everything isn’t as tall as a crane. Right, mama? Is a crane taller than everything?”

And ON and ON and ON and ON.

And on.

And on.

And on.

Please give me a break. One break. Two minutes of silence.

Holy fuck do they EVER stop talking?

No. They don’t. They are relentless. I don’t think they breathe. They only talk.

When I’m with all three of them, there is always one of them making noise in my direction, needing me. Always.

Whether it’s whining or crying or wailing or squealing or talking…there’s always noise coming at me from the little people.

My husband can sit there and, by all appearances, not hear a single smidgen of it.

I on the other hand hear every single speck of chatter and feel compelled to answer each and every question they pose. [Unless it has to do with farts or poop or underwear. Most of those questions I let go unanswered, realizing the purpose is usually just to say the word “fart” or “poop” or “underwear” – any response being almost wholly irrelevant.]

I do okay at the beginning. But after a few hours…my Lord I’m tired of people talking at me. I’m an extrovert and all, but shit. Everybody’s got a limit.

And then I start giving one word answers and my daughter starts picking up on my impatience and I start feeling guilty so I try again but my heart’s not in it but they don’t stop because they actually physically cannot (by the way, is that some sort of ailment?)…so we just go on like that…forever….it’s all really quite a lovely little picture.

So I turn on music. Loud.

But they talk anyway. OVER THE MUSIC.

Sometimes I pretend I can’t hear them.

But they only TALK LOUDER.

Deep breaths. Mantras. “I am a rock in a stream.”

Yeah right. That shit never works.

I tried telling them once about the Dalia Lama stating that “senseless chatter” was a bad thing, clouding the mind and separating us from our Buddha nature. While it appeared promising at first, that particular strategy backfired miserably when they started accusing me of “doing senseless chatter” almost every time I brought up a subject they didn’t feel like hearing.

Oh well.

I know I’ll miss this in 20 years.


The only time I get any peace from the NOISE. Except wait a minute. Ava is not in this picture, which means she was probably with me. Talking. Talking to me. Talking to me endlessly. Shiiiiit.

I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe

by Janelle Hanchett


Yes. That was me.

I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe.

If I knew we were about to do it, I would recite the little rhyme in my head, mentally jumping from person to person to figure out where the last word would land…then I would strategically place myself in the optimum position based on my objectives. And when I “won,” I would act surprised.

Maybe all kids act like that. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve always looked out for number 1, first and foremost. From the beginning, if there was a way for me to win, “come out on top” or get my way, I’d do pretty much everything in my power to make that happen.

It never really occurred to me to think of you.

It never crossed my mind that perhaps I should yield a bit for the benefit of others, even sometimes.

I figured “well, if I’m able to get what I want, why not do it? If you really wanted what you want, you’d try harder.”

I was not mean. In fact, I used to give all my toys away to my friends. I was deeply sensitive and loved hard. It’s just that I thought I knew the best way to do everything. Always. And I never questioned myself. I had a terminal case of Captain Justice syndrome – I knew the right, fair, smartest way to do it, damnit, and IT MUST BE DONE THE RIGHT WAY.

The consequence? I was bossy. Really, really bossy. Not a bully physically, but a verbal bully. I was a yeller. I was a shithead. I simply had to have my way.

This behavior pretty much continued until, well, I’d rather not talk about it. But I’ll give you a hint: I was over 29 and under 31. Yeah. I’m a slow learner.

As a result, I never had too many friends growing up. I had my one best friend in the whole wide world, Claire, who I met in 2nd grade and have loved like a sister ever since. We also moved a lot, which made longstanding relationships difficult. But mainly it was my personality. I probably wouldn’t have liked me either.

And the other day my little Ava was talking about her new school and she said something like “This is the year I’m going to make some real, close friends. This is the year when I’m going to get a BEST friend like you and Claire.”

And I realized the child is


She’s bossy. She wants her way. She gets pissed when others don’t comply and just can’t figure out why they won’t just do it her way because her way is obviously the smartest and the best and the brightest and the quickest. Isn’t it clear to you people? This is the ONLY WAY. It’s right damnit. Justice must be done!!

Unlike The Seal Incident, which rendered me speechless, I feel semi-confident in my ability to give a little guidance on this particular situation, since I lived the exact same thing and have learned some very tough lessons in the department of extreme self-centeredness.

So I suggest she take it easy on others – that even if she sees her solution as the only plausible one, perhaps she use her friend’s idea just for the hell of it, to give her some room, some respect. Some space to just be.

And maybe her way is indeed the right way and the smartest, but does it really matter?

In 20 years are you going to care what happens right now on the playground? Is the friendship more important than who gets to be the queen or the princess?

I tell her that just because she has a stronger personality than the other kids, just because she’s outgoing and quick and super confident, that doesn’t mean she has to USE her power ALL THE TIME, just because she can.

Maybe she can CHILL sometimes, let the other girl win.

I wish I could just implant in her what took me 30 years to learn…that I am not the center of the entire fucking universe…that my identity is not wrapped up in the outcome of every single situation that comes my way…that it ain’t all my problem and it ain’t all my concern…and that most of the time (and this is a big one folks), when I think I am dead-on, 100% totally and completely RIGHT, I’m 100% dead-on totally and completely wrong.

I want to teach her that there’s freedom in forgiving. In letting shit slide. In letting something else or somebody else or even nothing at all handle some of the big shit. Captain Justice can take a nap.

What a tough gig, huh? Trying to protect another human from themselves. Trying to shield another from walking down the EXACT SAME ROAD that nearly killed you. Trying to help her be somebody, anybody other than me.

Or perhaps I should just forgive. Myself. For being me.

And her. For being me.

Chill. Let it slide. Let us both just be.

Cause I’ve never really been equipped to handle the big shit anyway.


"I may be a princess, but I'll kick your ass." P.S. this kid does not lack confidence.

And then, we moved to Borneo.

by Janelle Hanchett


Houston, we have a problem.

Janelle is out of shit to say.

NOOOOOOO!!!!! (voice fades off into the distance…)

There’s no way.

OR, she has so much to say she doesn’t know where to begin.

Enough with the third person.

Ever feel like your life is one giant holding pattern? Only you don’t know what it is exactly you’re waiting for?

For things to settle down, maybe. Get stable. Easier.

For more money to come around. For the real career to begin. For the kids to get bigger.

(Even though you nearly cried when your boy showed you his first loose tooth yesterday.)

For life to start fulfilling you all the time, for the vision to become reality. For the image you held of adulthood to become what IS.

Yes, please.

I’ll take some of that.

And I know what y’all enlightened people will say… “Live in the moment, Janelle. Wake up! Be present! Be conscious! Don’t waste your life!”

But none of that self-talk changes the fact that this shit is really hard. And sometimes it appears REALLY QUITE MEANINGLESS.

I mean check it out. We get up. We go to work. We drive around. We do shit. We eat. We sleep. We have fun occasionally. We work and work and work again. My husband works and works and works, pretty much 7 days a week.


So we have a house and a car and food and some “savings” and retirement money and an occasional vacation somewhere, so my kids have an opportunity to misbehave in a new environment.

And my kids go to school so they can become good working Americans.

And we go to work so my kids can go to school to become good working Americans.

But what about living?

When do we do THAT? When do we get to just BE? When do we get to stop struggling for the bigger house and bigger car and better clothes…For the time and date when we look around at our lives and say “Sweet. We have ARRIVED.”

I lived in Barcelona for a year (studied abroad in college), and my Spanish friend told me an expression they use over there: “Spaniards work to live. Americans live to work.”


That’s true.

I’ve never forgotten that. And I saw it when I was there. I thought those Spaniards just didn’t have any drive – I thought they lacked ambition, the way they just kinda hung out and worked as little as they could, spending much more time in cafes and bars with friends…not really concerned with getting ahead or getting rich…leaving work at 3pm in the summer cause it’s just too damn hot, taking 2 months of vacation a year…closing their businesses for the afternoon siesta…every day.

But even then, I had to admit: those people seemed HAPPY.

I’m not trying to stereotype an entire nation. Those were just my general observations, of a culture I was living in for the first time.

But I think they have a few things figured out. I think their priorities make sense: do what you have to do to enjoy your damn life. Then, enjoy your damn life.

Because this is it, folks. This is the only chance we get.


Am I going to give a shit how big my house is when I’m 80 and dying? How nice my cars were? How much money my kids make?

Probably not.

I will, however, probably feel it deeply if I wasted my life in the ego-driven pursuit of STUFF, buying into the well-established fallacy of the American Dream, at the cost of my contentment, my time, my joy.

My life.

Part of me wants to fuck this whole deal, move elsewhere (Borneo, perhaps?), run some goofy dive shop or café and just live. Let my kids run around. Let my mind run around. Stop seeking earning running.

Sit in cafes with friends. Make enough money to get by.

Work to live.

Clearly it’s too hot. I’m losing my damn mind.

Or, I’m ready for a change. I think I’m on the brink of change.

I just don’t quite know what it is yet…

what it is exactly I’m waiting for.


Remind me again why we brought these kids?

by Janelle Hanchett


Remind me again why we brought these kids on “vacation?”

Because we had no choice, due to the startling lack of cheap, temporary kid-boarding houses.

No, that’s definitely not it. Rather shocked at the implication, frankly. (Although, now that I think about it, that’s not a wholly bad idea. It’d be like a pet boarding hotel…only for kids. Omg that is so bad. I’m never saying that out loud again.)

Because you want to look good to other mothers, hoping it’ll outshine your obvious deficiencies: “See what a good mom I am? I take my kids places! I yell a lot, and have never once completed a baby memory book, and occasionally my children eat frozen food for 3 days in a row, but I take them places!”

Nope. Not really it either. I gave up caring what people think about me quite a while ago, right about the time I realized I’ll never, ever, no matter how hard I try, figure out how to stop saying “fuck” at inappropriate moments. Or hold my tongue when I really need to.

Alright. How about this one…so when your kid grows up an out-of-touch derelict, you have photographic evidence that you at least TRIED.

Okay, that’s getting closer, but it’s still not quite right.

Oh, I got it!…Because you continue to rely on the vision you’ve crafted in your head [of some idyllic family vacation], rather than accepting REALITY, which is, of course, that vacations with your children are comprised of heinous inconveniences and sheer unpleasantness, dotted with random, fleeting moments of the sublime.

Yes. Right. Pretty much that.

 And the derelict thing.

For those of you who may be new here, the italics represent the voice in my head (well, one of them) – don’t be alarmed, though. It’s a friendly voice. Little crazy, but friendly. Means no harm.

AND, seriously.

Why the fuck do we bring kids on vacation?

They are just so bad.

Let me paint a picture for you: we’re in old-growth redwood forest, alongside the Smith River, one of the most stunning, pristine rivers in California, it’s sunny, 70 degrees of perfection, there’s space everywhere and about a million things to do, all of which should, theoretically, entertain the hell out of kids, (sticks and rocks and bugs and trees and crafts I brought and books and campfires and food)…and what are my kids doing? Arguing about who gets to play in the tent. Arguing about who got to hang in the hammock 1 minute longer than the other. Arguing about whose fairy house is better. Arguing about WHO OWNS THIS PARTICULAR STICK.

There is wild open space in all directions, and my kids are within 3 inches of each other at all times, even though they can hardly stand one another.

And I want to chuck them into the river.

Do they know how much work this is? How much money it costs? How much effort is being exerted to create this little nature soiree? How drastically they’re messing with the mama vision I have floating in my delusional head?

I bring watercolors. Rocket FLIPS his lid because the wind catches his painting and it falls on the ground. Henceforth uninterested. Ava paints, but is so sure her painting is horrible she sulks and whines in the depths of self-pity for a good 15 minutes.

If they’re in the river, they want to be in the campsite.

If they’re at the campsite, they want to be in the river.

And so it goes.

Are my kids just bad?


Or maybe, and this is probably more likely, I’m holding so tightly to what I think vacation should be that I am unable to accept reality. Accept what is. I fight it and I get pissed. I project my unrealistic vision of Waldorf nature moments and family memory-creation so severely onto the situation that I miss the beauty that’s right in front of me: my kids being kids. My family being my family. Whatever that means – with all its imperfections.

Because when I really look at it, what bothers me the most, what really pisses me off, is that they’re messin’ with my idea of “camping with family.” They’re fucking with my plan. I hate that.

Or, they’re just shitheads.

Either way, I know what I’ll remember next year are the moments of sublime. The mind is sick like that. It only remembers the good shit, so you fall right back in the same trap, thinking for sure this time, it’s gonna be different. It’s gonna be amazing. We’re all gonna sit and meditate and paint together in deep contemplative quiet of the universe and all that is holy and good. And we’ll sing songs and play in the dirt and nobody’s going to bicker or complain because how could they? Look where we are! We’re in the damn redwoods.

No, we’re not. We’re in a bigger version of our living room.

And I. Where am I? In my head, of course, wishing I could get these kids to get in my head too, so at least they could cooperate with my nice peaceful vision.

I know they’d like it in here if they’d just give it a try.


Our campsite. See all that space?

walking down to the river from our campsite. okay. I miss it already.

One of the moments I won't remember in a year or so. As I recall, he was weeping that I wouldn't let him get fully submerged in the river. Feet only. Note Ava's look of total disdain.

He got over it.

Especially once he discovered the river's infinite rock-throwing potential.

Okay FINE. I adore her.

Georgia and her rock, which she called "owl", because she calls everything "owl", because she's perfect. Oh right. And there's Mac, too. 🙂

Stout Grove - redwoods that were on the planet before Jesus arrived. Literally. Yeah, my kids weren't very impressed by that particular factoid either. (I just said "factoid.")

One of the trees had a burl on it that Rocket said looked like a monster. We asked him to show us his "monster face." This is what we got.

On a hike along Mill Creek.

On the Mill Creek hike there was a rope swing out over the creek. I offered Mac $100 to swing on it and launch into the river. He denied me. As usual, nobody appreciates my plans.

I did not pose them. This is how they sat spontaneously on the tree. What a trip, right? They're already THE SAME. Ahhhhh. That's actually really sweet.

Rocket & Ava dancing. On the trail. Suddenly, for no reason. That was sweet too.

One must make do when camping. Oh goodness. I want to go back! That was a great trip! Wait. STOP IT BRAIN! STOP IT! uncool! I'm already forgetting the PAIN!