Oh, don’t mind me — I’ll be livin’ in a box down by the river.


Our mid-winter school vacation has ended. I spent 11 days trapped inside a small apartment with my kids. We had four snowstorms last week alone.

Coincidentally, our electronic “human-ignorer” gadgets decided to collectively shit the bed. My laptop froze. The tablet became possessed. Netflix was toast.

My toaster still worked. Thank god.


So we were forced to be together. In each other’s presence. Communicating and using eye contact and stuff. I had deep convos with my 11-year-old son.

“Go Fish, grandma.”

“Hey! I’m not that old!”

“Yes you are.”

“I’m still young!”

“Well…you’re kinda young…”

“Thank you.”

“Kinda, but not really at all.” [hard stare] “Because you’re old.”

So when my son told me he didn’t want to go back to school this morning, the words, “If you don’t go, I’ll be arrested and thrown in jail” just flew out of my mouth.

But thank god our dryer broke.

When your clothes dryer shuts down and you have two little kids, it’s panic time.  In order to keep my constant mountain of laundry at a manageable amount, I have to do about 382 loads every single day. Within two hours of the dryer breaking down I had to rent storage space just for my son’s dirty socks and underwear.

Thankfully, we had enough money to buy another crappy one and made good use out of the best toy any kid could ever want.

The box.


They quickly settled in their new home — hung some curtains,  set up the Wii, installed shag carpeting.

They even posted some solid rules:


And by the end of school vacation, there was only one place the kids could find me.

In the box out on our front lawn.


Please, feel free to drop by and visit me. I’ll be serving up some delish Toaster Scrambles with semi-real bacon and eggs.

Just remember: Don’t be mad and under no circumstances are you allowed to fart.


How did you survive school vacation? “Just barely” like me?

107 thoughts on “Oh, don’t mind me — I’ll be livin’ in a box down by the river.

  1. haha! i just finished the same and did a happy dance as everyone left for school. my youngest also asked if today could be a ‘day off’. i was like, yeah – for me! hahah! and yeah, there’s nothing like a box. so funny. and you might want to reconsider the fart thing. might be the only heat you have out there. 😉

      1. Deborah the Closet Monster

        Might be good to have a plan for if it takes a little longer . . . at more than a week, the adjustment could be a little while in the making! Fingers crossed this isn’t so. 🙂

  2. JUST BARELY. My child will live to tell the tale. School got cancelled last Friday after another deluge of snow, our washer broke and volunteering at kindergarten registration last week, I asked for, instead of a copy of a birth certificate from the prospective family, a copy of birth control. It didn’t help that they had 3 kids. And then I started giggling hysterically. I think I am officially done with winter.

  3. This winter has been a disaster and the whole time I’ve been safe and warm and happy in Florida… I can’t believe I’m considering moving back up north this summer! Love your box, though. Looks so homey!

  4. I laughed at the “no hats” rule! Is this some nod to the etiquette of not wearing hats indoors, or some other reason?

    As I keep telling anyone who’ll listen (which quite frankly isn’t many people), I’m desperate for snow because we’ve had none this year, NONE! And I love snow. Rain, we’ve had plenty of that, but snow, not a flake. It’s not too late yet, but it almost is.

    1. Y’know, I did the same thing, V. I read her list of rules and the only one that was a head-scratcher was the “no hats”. What’s she got against hats?

      And I will happily ship you some snow. Although, I did see London had some severe weather lately. Hope you weren’t flooded.

  5. School holidays are the pits for parents. Screaming kids in the supermarkets, whining brats not getting what they want, boredom as to how to keep them all entertained. Then we get in our car and drive home, ALONE, glad to leave said kids with their parents.

    1. It’s a good trade-off during vacations. The teachers look all happy the last day of school. Then the parents come back grinning like mad when they drop their kids off on them again. It’s a good balance.

  6. Oh, man I hate when catsdogs barge in on my hangouts…

    The other day someone mentioned to me the idea of a mid-winter break, and all the reasons to have one. I’d never heard of it before. In the week and a half since then, 3 different people from 3 different states mentioned it. They were all, as parents, complaining. I, as a teacher who has an embarrassing bounty of vacation time replied, GIMME GIMME GIMME.

    1. And god forbid one of those mad, farting, hat-wearing catsdogs knocks on her door.

      the best part of all this? They have another week off in mid-April. Then I take my kids to Disney in May for a week. I’m thinking I need to start stockpiling valium now.

  7. When life gives you a lemons, make toaster scrambles. Words to live by…or something.

    You deserve a medal that no small persons were harmed during the 11 day siege.

    1. Thanks, Shan! But is that a question meaning you want an apartment? or I should get my OWN apartment? Or do you mean do I live in an apartment?

      I technically live in a duplex, it’s a two-story ranch I share with my mother. But strangely enough, the walls start closing in and it becomes a one room studio by mid-February.

      1. “…trapped inside a small apartment with my kids.” When I read it, I actually broke out in hives. You may have missed it, but we really did live in a small apartment for several MONTHS last year while our house was under construction — temps in the 100’s. Mom and Dad shared a room, four kids shared a room, we ALL shared the kitchen and family. If being indoors with wacky kids for 11-days was an Olympic sport, the gold would have been MINE.

        PS — I had no idea your mom was living with you! Hope that’s going well. 🙂

  8. 11 days in the middle of winter? Stuck at home? With kids? That’s no vacation. By the middle of that week, I don’t care how hard we try, someone in this house would lose it.

  9. Yep. My own personal box out in my yard sounds pretty good. I’ll just need a bottle of cognac and…and…and…well, nothing else, just my box, myself, my bottle of cognac and the blessed silence. Enjoy your bit silence before the kids get home from school:)!

  10. Kristal

    ((((hugs)))) We homeschool, all year long. I went mad years ago, when we built our house my husband installed a padded room all my own. I didn’t even have to ask. I am still not sure why they are not mandatory on all new construction homes yet…..

    1. haha! I laughed so hard at your line “I went mad years ago…” One of my closest friends homeschools four of her ten kids (yes, ten) so I have sympathy. I could never do it. And I used to be a preschool teacher.

  11. School vacation? We don’t get one until the tag end of April. However, over the past 10 days, the kid has been in school for exactly one day. And today they have a 2 hour late start, due to snow. Yep, went all winter with about 3 flakes of snow that fell months ago, and now we get snow. I’m ready to pull my hair out one by one.

    Love the rules for the box, especially the no farting one. If I promise to bring some rum and coke can I join you in there?

      1. We got about 4 inches of snow- which is a lot for here. And after announcing a 2 hour delay, the kid’s school actually sent the kids home. The kid’s bus never picked him up; so after waiting outside for 45 minutes, a neighbor saw him standing there and she told him that school had been cancelled and he could go inside. I, of course, tried to listen to a meditation and fell asleep, waking up to the front door and kiddo coming back.

        I’ll bring the Bacardi gold and Coke!!

  12. I love the rules your kids made for the box. And I sympathize with your laundry woes: no matter how many loads I do, it always seems to multiply the moment I turn my back. And I don’t even have kids!

  13. It’s funny how kids think anyone over 40 is ‘old.’ I asked my son how old he thought mommy was and he replied, “83.” I told him that’s about right. That’s how old I am in mommy years!

  14. Renting storage space for socks and underwear – great line. Boxes are awesome, and so is making up rules for what you do inside them. Better get another one before Spring Break or I’m sure you’ll be checking into the loony bin.

  15. You have the college years to look forward to Darla. Jacob will be home next week. I will, of course know it because there will be dirty socks in the laundry room. And the kitchen. And just inside the front door …

    And there will be farts. I guess I’d better post some rules, huh.

  16. Oh, come on girls, let’s be honest, we fart, too – we just like to do it when we are absolutely alone! Or, as a german comedian once put it: “As children say about farts: The own ones are ok …”

  17. I live in South Carolina, and I would cry if my front lawn looked like your picture. I outgrew my fascination with snow the minute I got a job that didn’t give us snow days. Oh, you can call in and say you don’t think you can navigate the roads or that you’re subdivision is a sheet of ice, but you’ll be forced to take PTO. My current job is at a small college, but our campus director waits until The Last Minute to call anything.

    We had two days off two weeks ago for our snowpocalypse, which equaled around 4-6 inches. Yes, I know, that’s nothing compared to you folks up there, but we don’t spend millions of dollars on snow/ice removal because that equipment will sit around and rust the majority of the time.

    Luckily, I also don’t have kids to drive me even crazier during cabin fever. 🙂

    1. I hear you. I’m a college student right now and it pretty much takes a nuclear meltdown to get our college to call off school. Many days this winter I’ve had to take my life into my own hands so I can get to a class I will probably fall asleep in.

      1. He did. A lot of his jokes come from his experiences at my Catholic high school. The very saddest thing is I saw him on the cover of People Magazine. The story was about even though he was famous, he still was laughed at by women and couldn’t get a date. The next week, he was dead. The life of a celebrity can be brutal.

  18. Ah, Darla; you make my empty nest seem like heaven! This teacher spent vacation week with a pile of delicious homemade snacks, a couple of bottles of wine and the Extended DVDs of the Lord of the Rings. Plus a couple of “Mommy porn” books.
    It. Was. Amazing.
    But……you know…..enjoy that box!

    1. Ahhhhh! You are killing me here! I will enjoy the hell out of that box until MY upcoming spring break in March when the kids do NOT have school off. I plan on coming back inside and drinking large amounts of gin.

  19. I make no promises about the farting… but I do promise to bring rum, if that’s your thing. Man, your kids are super cute.

    Thanks for this post. It makes me feel a bit warmer about this awful winter we’re having. In Ontario, we are still buried deep, and it is so cold again.

  20. LOL, my grandkids not only had midwinter break but 11, I counted them, days off school because it was so cold here and windy and snowy (VERY unusual for this state). If I had known about your box, I certainly would have visited.

  21. We were closed for the 312th day of the year last Friday. Turned into a white-out, had a 30-40 car and tanker pile-up on US 127 (middle of Michigan) which closed down the expressway. Guess where most of that traffic was diverted to? Yup, my road, with continued white-outs and non-stop traffic all afternoon. Crazy. I could have used a box to play in…. instead I watched the parade go by. Never seen this kind of crazy on our road in almost 20 years.

  22. Hahaha! No farting is an excellent rule — with critical thinking skills like that, your kids are going to go very far in the world.

    And at least you’re not living in a van down by the river? A box is better, right? maybe?

  23. I’m extremely disappointed regarding the feline/canine exclusion happening here. But I suppose as long as Toaster Scrambles are allowed, I can make an exception. (Uncle Jesse has other thoughts on the matter.)

    P.S. – Oh that Miss J. Gorgeous and spunky. You’re going to have your hands full in 10 years. On the bright side, maybe she’ll know how to do her own laundry by then.

    1. The good news is Julia can already do laundry. And cook. As for her brother? He can barely figure out how to pour a glass of milk. I suspect when he’s in his 30s I’ll have to put another box for him next to mine.

  24. Being trapped in the house with our own offspring really can test a mother’s strength. I’ll never understand why awards are not given, unless the award is not going to prison. Thank goodness for dryer boxes is all I have to say!!! Hope you found your sanity safe and sound.

  25. I enjoy your posts and sense of humor, Darla. So much so, in fact, that you are invited to consider sending some of your stories for consideration for a couple of anthologies I’m compiling. Please email me @russtowne@yahoo.com if you’d like more details as to what I have in mind. Thank you.

  26. I used to love making forts with boxes and blankets, too! (Don’t tell anyone, but I even did this throughout UNIVERSITY. My best friend and I camped out in a basement blanket fort for a solid week in 2nd year. I’m so cool!)

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