Raising Teens, Tweens & Killer Dust Bunnies

Grounded Until Boot Camp

It's been 36 minutes, since I hugged my son and wished him luck, reassuring him "not to worry," and "you got this," as I followed him through our front door and watched him get into his recruiter's car. I then proceeded to spend the next 36 minutes reliving the last 17 years, as parents do, with every passing milestone, I suppose.

However, this time, Garth (not his real name) isn't home to reassure me that "he'll be fine," and there's really "no need to cry," because he's staying at my parents' house, helping to take care of my Dad and getting him to his dialysis appointments, and then taking him to visit with my Mom in a sub-acute facility (she's recovering from a real bad fall), while I continue to work from home, until the weekend, when we switch places and, well, the last six weeks haven't been easy on any of us.

"I don't feel like you guys are here for me."

Most especially, our son.

"I talk about my enlistment and all you do is shake your head and look sad."

I have had sooooo many thoughts and opinions about my son's imminent enlistment into the Marine Corps, but I've been pretty much keeping them to myself.

"I don't feel like you support my decision."

Until now.

Needless to say, my husband and I are very proud of Glen and, as an American born of immigrants, I'm humbled by our son's dedication to "honoring his Grandparents and all their hard work, wanting a better life for future generations" (those were my son's exact words, when explaining his desire to enlist, during our interviews with each of the military branches).

"We've done everything we can to help you get here, haven't we?"

Keeping every deep, dark and terribly awful fear imaginable from creeping out of my heart and slithering its way up onto my face, not so much.

"So yes, I'm sad. And afraid. Just as your training will involve learning how to protect others, while protecting yourself, you're going to be a pretty tall target, and there will be people whose job will be to try and kill you."

I was being brutally honest with him, and myself, because it's been 60 years since my parents first set foot on American soil and danged if it doesn't seem like the world is moving backwards, we're ALL standing on shaky ground, right?!?!

"As your Mom, my first and foremost wish has always been for you to be happy."

It's hard sometimes, you know? Pretending to be fearless. Especially for someone who wears her heart on her sleeve...[raises hand]...not without leaving a permanent dent on my face, I mean.

"And your father and I will always fear for your safety (okay, mostly me), but do NOT mistake that as our being unsupportive."

So, I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m., which every parent reading this will undoubtedly understand it to have been unnecessary, as I was awake for most of the night and I finally gave up on sleep when my son's alarm went off at 3:00 a.m., as we sat together, in a mostly dark and quiet house, waiting for him to take his next steps towards gaining his independence and logging in another sleepless night for me and his Dad.  

36 minutes later, I became >this< much closer to graciously accepting my new role as a military mom...as reasonably and as calmly as possible, at 5 o'clock in the morning, I mean...so, yeah, there isn't a parent prouder than I am of you...RIGHT THIS MINUTE...my son...AND DO NOT EVER FORGET IT...or consider yourself grounded until boot camp!!!

Edited to add text received from my husband, GarthNHRN: Your post sounds like he's going now. You should make it clear this is a medical and he doesn't go until next summer.

Okay?!?! Soooo, we good?!?! Good!!! Which pretty much guarantees you guys another post, next August, you're welcome!!!


© This Full House 2003-2016

The Book Thief

My husband and I have always been avid readers. I'm not sure exactly how many books (hardcover and paperbacks) we've collected over the 25 years we've been married, because that would involve digging them out, dusting them off and actually counting them and, well, ain't nobody got time for that, but I'm pretty sure the number is in the hundreds.

And I have a confession to make. Ready? Okay! Here it is: I am a historical romance novel addict, from way back. 

My love affair...ahem...with historical romance novels...siiiiiiiigh...runs deep...heh, I said deep...and long...oh my gosh, fiiiiiine, I'll stop, right now...and I'm pretty sure I've read (and re-read) every Lisa Kleypas novel in the house, because my oldest daughter also happens to be a big fan of Ms. Kelypas (seriously, Lisa, you write good!) and the kid buys way more books than I do, which works out very well in my favor.

Aaaaaand, if you happen to be a newbie parent...WELCOME ABOARD!!!!...this is where you should be thinking to yourself...heyyyyyy...you know what?!?...I can't wait until my babies grow up, start making their own money and buy books that I happen to like to read, too...not a bad gig, you guys!


My in-laws have been married for 60-something years and have collected probably close to eleventy-trillion books, which they have started sending over to our house, because we only have a couple hundred and...HEY!!!...what's eleventy-trillion more, right?!?

Actually, they sent over a box or two to donate to our local library and, as I was going through the boxes, I realized many of them were really old (and musty) books. I love really old (and musty) books!


I took a bunch of my favorites and organized them by the color of their spines...okay, it was my youngest's idea to color-coordinate the darn things and NO she did NOT get her OCD from me...anyway...I think these books add to the vintage-y feel of our house.


I also found an inscription in one of the books gifted to my Father-in-Law from his sister on Christmas 1945 and, well, Aunt Jeanne passed away last spring and I'm not even sure my Father-in-Law even realizes we have this book, because he's still not over the fact that he and my Mother-in-Law were not well enough to travel up to Massachusetts for her memorial, so I'm keeping it.

14yo: Oh...my...gosh..would...you...guys...just...LOOK AT THIS!!!!

Our youngest also loves books.

Hope Books

Except her taste runs a little darker (and scarier) and it must have been all the Stephen King I read while pregnant with her.

14yo: This book says it belongs to the library!!!

[one beat, two beats]

14yo: Which means Grandpa never returned this book to the library!!!

[eyes go wide]


Me: Actually, Grandpa probably bought that particular one during a book sale at the library.

Grandpa: Nooooo, I stole it.

I'm a little scared of what we'll find out during next week's Sunday supper (or Sunday Suppuh, if you're from New England) yah!

© This Full House 2003-2016

If Wonder Woman & Mr. Mom Had A Baby

GarthNHRN and I have been married for 25 years (and YES, it totally does sound like a lot of years to be married and IT IS a very long time to be married, to the same person!) and we've been parents for 22 years (wut?!?!) and I've been a full-time mom (while working part-time from home as a professional blogger, writer and content producer) ever since.

Until this past April: When I accepted a full-time position at my current job.

And then my husband lost his job, in October.

This is the first time I'm speaking of it in a public forum, because my husband is much more private about his thoughts and feelings, while I'm more of a better out than in type of over-sharer.

You guys have lived through some of the best and possibly THE WORST times in my life, most recently with my Father recovering from heart failure AND kidney failure.


Watching a new day unfold from my parents' kitchen window and hoping for a better day for Dad. His recovery has been a...

Posted by Liz Katkics Thompson on Saturday, January 2, 2016

I can honestly say, without hesitation AND with complete confidence that GarthNHRN would also agree, these last 5 months have been absolutely dreadful AND have offered up some of the MOST stressful periods of our ENTIRE marriage, EVER.

On the OTHER hand!

We've experienced some of the BEST stop, drop, laugh your ass off, snort-worthy funniest moments...EVER!...as a family...and, oh YES...there is the food!


My husband made us lunch. And my first thought was...WOW!!!...he really needs to lower the bar, a little. And then I ate it in like four bites. Carry on, Garth(NHRN)!

Posted by Liz Katkics Thompson on Monday, November 2, 2015

Now that I am working full-time and commuting into the city (a.k.a. New York City, if you're NOT from Jersey) my husband and I have gone through a sort of Freaky Friday role reversal kind of thing. For example, GarthNHRN does ALL the:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Driving kids to school
  • Food Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Picking kids up from school

And then, he does a whole lot more:

  • Drives my Dad to (and from) dialysis every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
  • Does the food shopping for my mom, while Dad is at dialysis 
  • Because dialysis takes about 3 - 4 hours
  • Each time
  • Has met with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and pretty much every "ist" there is to make sure that "my" parents are getting the best care possible
  • Without going bankrupt
  • That last bullet is ongoing

Aaaaaaand yet, the man still manages to make the rest of us feel pretty gosh-darned thankful he's around.


GarthNHRN (singing from the kitchen): Tiiiiiiny bubbles, in the wine...Me (singing along): Maaaaaakes me happy...GarthNHRN: All the time...I love it when my husband ad libs :)

Posted by Liz Katkics Thompson on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Long story short: If Wonder Woman and Mr. Mom had a baby, he or she wouldn't be even half as awesome as GarthNHRN, however, I imagine it would look a lot like this:

Have you seen Channing Tatum & Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)" vs. Jenna Dewan-Tatum's "Pony" lip sync battle?!? It. Is. EPIC!

Aaaaaaand, before you get your boxers all in a bunch, honey (not YOU, I'm talking to GarthNHRN, but feel free to hang around, Queen Tatum Bey, honey) this post is meant to be a reminder...for the times when...you know...you are feeling most un-awesome...or whenever we're having a bad day...but not today.

Okay? Okay. Now YOU do me (TWSS!)

© This Full House 2003-2016

NaBloPoMo 2015: Happy ThanksgivingChristmasNewYearsValentinesEaster!

I used to be a planner, also super-organized (and this is the part where my husband would insist otherwise and I would end any possibility of a long, drawn out debate, by insisting back "WAS SO!" Because I am a great debater, like that!), but those days seem so long ago.

I knew if I just held out long enough, mismatched plates and glasses would become a thing (are so!).

In our house, the holidays were my Olympics! I researched recipes, collected odds and ends for binge-crafting sessions with the kids and made lists for ALL things holi"daze". 

This year? I'm lucky if I remember to wear matching earrings, and leaving the house with shoes on, and I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself wondering if I had remembered to use shampoo after already having gotten out of the shower.

My mommybrain is all grown up and waiting for someone to strain my carrots, dammit.

Now with Dad in and out of hospitals and rehab centers, since the end of August, I can't seem to think past remembering to eat lunch. Our parents play a large part of our celebrations and, now that our kids are getting older, (us too!) I keep reminding myself that every day we spend together is a gift.

"What's gonna happen on Thanksgiving?"

Thanksgiving has ALWAYS been my son's favorite holiday and now that he's turning 17 (ugh, really?!?) and has the appetite of a 17yo (a.k.a. never NOT hungry) he's taken over the menu-planning :)

"I haven't even thought about it, so don't know what we're doing, Bud!"

Truth be told, I'm still trying to figure out where September went.

"Well, if Papa is still in the hospital, we'll just have to bring Thanksgiving to him, that's all!"

[one beat, two beats]

"I mean, it doesn't matter where we have it, or if we cop a squat in the corner and eat off of trays, as long as we are together, right?!?"

I'm still trying to clear the massive goober that has formed in my throat, so I have yet to get back to him on that one, but I think maybe he already knows the answer and it was more of a rhetorical question, because these kids are way smarter than me. 

"Wait, is that Christmas music you're playing?"

My oldest daughter, on the other hand...

"YUP! Don't judge!"

Gahdfuhbid, it's like she doesn't EVEN know me!!!!

© This Full House 2003-2016

Pink Hair, Don't Care, Unless You Happen To Be My Kid!

I have straight fine hair (and by fine I mean not like...duuuuude, you got some fine-looking hair... but more like...duuuuude, your hair is soooooo fine, can't do nothing wit-it!), so I keep it short and make sure to take many selfies on good hair days...you know...to document...on the Internet...forever and ever, amen.

"What color are we doing, today?!?"

Fortunately, my hairdresser has known me for a very long time and happens to be a good friend of mine.

"Oh, I don't know, surprise me!"

She is also a master colorist and a Ninja with a pair of razor shears. We have pretty much lived through every color on the Redkin spectrum, together.

"I have decided to dye my hair pink!"

Okay, I lied, except pink. Which is probably why our youngest daughter...who has dark hair and looks a lot more like me than any of my other kids...poor kid...decided it would be totally awesome to dye her ENTIRE head pink, because...warning, parental spoiler alert ahead...TEENAGE GIRLS DO NOT WANT TO LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THEIR MOTHERS!

"But you will need to bleach your entire head, you know that, right?!?"

She is also fourteen, which is that magical age in between "Read me a bedtime story!!!" and "Loooook at meeeeee, Mommy!!!" to "What?!?" and "WHAT?!?" because teens are super-inquisitive, like that.

"I already Face-booked Lori about it, she gave me several options and mentioned she may have to bleach it twice!"


"Aaaaaand, I'm okay with that!"

Which is Teenagerese for: If it helps her stand out from her older sisters and brother, even better!!!

"I have [birthday-graduation] money saved up!"

Aaaaand, she was saving THAT one for last. As the youngest of four, she's learned to watch...wait...and spring it on Mom when she's SUPER tired.

"So you don't EVEN have to pay for anything!"

Well played, indeed.


Before picture of our mom/daughter prettifying appointment, so excited! And a little scared, because...well...you'll see :)

A photo posted by Liz Thompson (@thisfullhouse) on Aug 14, 2015 at 10:02am PDT

Long story short (you're welcome!): A very large part of me admires her bravery, because being a freshman in high school is hard enough (personally, I'm still waiting to grow out of my awkward stage!) and then there's this teeniest, tiniest voice inside my overly-processed head that's all, "But does it really have to be your ENTIRE head...and pink?!?"

Add to the list of 7 words that you really don't expect or even want to hear, as a parent: Feel how hot my hair is getting!


It's getting real up here, you guys!

A photo posted by Liz Thompson (@thisfullhouse) on Aug 14, 2015 at 1:45pm PDT

But then the color started going on and...Holy Hannah Montana...that IS sooooo waaaaay pink!!!


This kid, tho! She is fearless :)

A photo posted by Liz Thompson (@thisfullhouse) on Aug 14, 2015 at 3:41pm PDT

The salon was very busy (because mah girls at Trio specialize in "I don't know, just make me look good, dammit!") and there were three distinctly different reactions:

1. My favorite: You are SO brave!

2. Okay, I like this one too: Wish I could do pink hair!

3. And the one that stopped me dead in my tracks, because it was not so much what was said, but the delivery: WOW, that's a different look, isn't it?!?

It was when my friend Lori began layering on the two colors (magenta and way more magenta), so I was actually on my way out to pick up my two oldest girls at work. The woman was getting her hair toweled off and I'm pretty sure the grimace pasted on her face wasn't from the toweling.

"I don't think you can get MUCH pinker than that, can you?!?"

Did I mention, I don't do well with passive aggressive asshat comments?!? My kid, on the other hand, took it in stride and without skipping a beat, said:

"I don't know, Lori is pretty good, I bet we can go even pinker!"


Now she wants to drive the car. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea... #PinkHairDontCare

A photo posted by Liz Thompson (@thisfullhouse) on Aug 14, 2015 at 3:46pm PDT

Did I mention, this kid is way smart?!? Well played, kid. Rock on with your pink self :)

© This Full House 2003-2016

They Say Humor Helps Your Heart, Mine Is Cry-Laughing!

It's been a week since I've been home from the hospital and, well, did you know that laughter lowers blood pressure? Good thing, too -- now that high blood pressure and I have a history, dammit.

Me and Hope Trying to Ignore the Needle in My Arm!
She fainted while visiting her grandfather in the hospital a few years ago, so we've never been allowed to even mention the word and refer to it as "The place where really sick people go".

Long story short (you're welcome!): I haven't been feeling very well for quite a while and waited until "Holy crap!" and "MY CHEST HURTS!" oh, and by the way "I CAN'T BREATH!" before getting myself some serious medical attention.

"Your blood pressure is 193 over 112!"

Because of my family history, I am very vigilant about getting a yearly physical and I've never had a history with high blood pressure, until now.

"And it's not going down, so we're going to have to admit you!"

[one beat, two beats]


I don't remember much after my inner-twelve-year-old showed up, but my oldest daughter filled me in later:

  • I apologized to the nurse dude, while the poor guy tried to remove my shapeware-type camisole (because, OF COURSE!) and my industrial-strength bra (because, midlife girls need serious support, yo!)
  • He then removed my flats and I apologized for not freshening up my pedicure from 3 months ago
  • I apologized to the other nurse attempting to insert a port into my arm -- prematurely, since I did not end up biting her, I think
  • I apologized to the guy (or woman!) in the emergency bay next to me, because I pass gas when I get nervous...okay, fiiiiiiiiine...I fart, like a boss
  • I apologized to the nurse dude...and to anyone and everyone...FOR EVERYTHING...just in case I pass out...or something

Even longer story, short (seriously, you owe me a thank you note!): The next couple of days were scary...as all get out...and, well, let's just say I'm bruised from head to toe with all of the prodding...and the poking...HOWEVER...I'm not afraid of needles, any longer...okay, not as much...fiiiiiiiiine...my stomach still hurts!

"And then she kept apologizing for wearing her industrial-strength bra!!!!"

Because teenagers love embarrassing their parents, I think it's called payback.

"It's probably why she couldn't breath!"

And those were perhaps the BEST five minutes spent...just sitting around the kitchen table with my kids and Garth (not his real name)...cry-laughing...yeah, life was good.


"Well, now that we're all together, we have something to tell you and Daddy!"

My husband and I looked around the table and opted for the "shut up and listen" parenting strategy.

"We ALL pooled our money and rented you guys a studio apartment in Cape Cod to spend your 25th anniversary in August!"

To say that both our eyes went REAL WIDE would be an understatement AND THEN our middle girl (i.e. the spokeskid) looked me dead in the face.

"Sooooo, now YOU have something to look forward to!"

[one beat, two beats]

Garth (to me): "In other words...we can't get our deposit back...DON'T DIE!"

I gained back close to two years, that day!

© This Full House 2003-2016

Why I Won't Be Calling Dibs On The Bath Tub, Anytime Soon!

One of the many things I miss (sort of) from when our kids were littler (i.e. being able to shop for 3 girls and 1 boy, at the same time AND at the same store) is bath time and the kids loved bath time, too! Except for our youngest, Hope -- she hated taking showers, even more!


The girl hated, Hated, HAted, HATed, HATEd, I mean absolutely HATED taking showers!

She even faked taking a shower with a container of baby powder (aftermath pictured above), because her middle sister insisted that their father and I would NEVER...EVER...know the difference and, well, Hope has since learned to NOT listen to her sisters!

Except for yesterday, she was feeling...ummmm, you know...thirteen.

"You should take a nice soak in the bath tub, Hope!"

Long story short (you're welcome!): Things have been a bit stressful around here...okay, a lot...fiiiiiiiiiiine...try living with 5 other people (who happen to be mostly adults) and see how long it takes before someone HOLLERS dibs on the bathroom...with the bath tub!


Two hours later and we're back to lowercase, again:

"Okay, I'm done now."

So, yeah, bath time has...once again...become our family's go to relaxation/survival technique.

"HEY! Wait a minute!"

Until it's MY turn to use the bathroom!

"Come get your dirty clothes from off of the floor!"

Teenagers are generally not very good multi-taskers.

"Aaaaaaand, you need to put ALL these candles back!"

Teenagers aren't very good at putting back stuff, either.

Displaying 20150318_184141.jpg

Every time I turned around...BOOM!!!...another candle.

"And I mean put them back where you got them from!"

Because I sure as heck-fart can't be expected to remember where they ALL go...and daaaaaang, but we got a lot of candles...AND DID YA REALLY HAVE TO USE ALL OF THESE CANDLES!!!

"Maybe YOU should take a bath next, Momma!"

[one beat, two beats]

"You know what? You're right? I'mma take a shower!"

Because I'm 5' 9"! Our bath tub isn't long enough for me to soak properly...without something sticking out of the water...but let's NOT open up THAT can of whoopass, m'kay?!?!


Don't you just WISH you could live here?!?!

[sound of water, dripping]

Stupid shower, dumbass water heater. 

© This Full House 2003-2016