Let me introduce myself. I’m Sheila Downey, full time employee for Beck’s Hybrids, mother of two farm boys who love all things outside, wife to Nathan, and dog mom to Lil’ Britches, the Blue Heeler. Yes, we are part of the Downey clan who owns “the white cows on 9”. In my spare time, I sell freezer beef for the farm, make earrings for vacation money, and attempt to keep peace and order at the house. I hate to cook, love to eat, and laugh as much as possible.

Laughing is good for the soul. God gives us the opportunity to choose how we react to certain situations and although it doesn’t always happen right way, most of the time I try to choose joy. It might happen in the midst of the situation…or it might come in the morning. But choosing to see the funny, the innocence, the learning lessons of an adventure makes things seem less stressful.

Living with the circus I co-orchestrate with my husband, there is always an adventure. During a Study Abroad trip at Purdue, our professor constantly reminded us that “We don’t have problems, we only have adventures. Everything is an adventure unless someone loses their passport or someone dies.” So, we don’t have problems at our house. Only adventures. My hope is that sharing our adventures will bring some joy to your life. The following is an adventure from…well…yesterday. As I typed that last sentence, the kids burst in the house asking about shovels and a snapping turtle. Sounds like another adventure is in the making. No matter what happens, let me urge you to choose joy.

It’s about 2:15 p.m. on an unassuming Thursday afternoon. The boys are supposed to be unloading and reloading the dishwasher so they can go swimming with their cousins in the creek. I’m on the front porch with my laptop, working. Elijah comes out with a somber expression and plops down in the chair next to me.

“What’s the matter, Buckwheat?” I ask.

He just shakes his head. I know that look. That’s the “I-just-did-something-bad-and-I-should-apologize-but-I-don’t-want-to” look.

“What broke?” I asked.

He put his eyes and head down toward the concrete, takes a deep breath, then looks at me as tears start to well up. “You know those clear plastic spoons you have in the drawer? I broke one. I’m sorry Mama! I didn’t mean to!”

“The big ones??” I ask incredulously. He nodded and started to cry harder. I laughed. “Oh Buddy! Those are disposable! I bought those in case we had to take a meal somewhere and I didn’t want to keep track of a nice metal serving spoon. It’s ok!!” I smiled at him and gave him a pat. He wiped his eyes, said “I’m sorry Mama” with a little more confidence, and disappeared back into the house.

What I failed to do was think that though. We hadn’t been anywhere, or done anything, to use those spoons in months. They are in the far back of the silverware drawer so any opportunity to touch one has to be intentional. But like I said, it was just an unassuming Thursday so I went back to my work and didn’t give it another thought.

At 7:30 p.m., I got home from Praise Team practice and started fixing supper. There were a couple of things I needed still dirty in the sink so I turned on the hot water to warm up. The water didn’t drain.

I stuck my hand down and tried to clean out what I assumed was food. Instead, I pulled up a solid white...substance. It was brittle, like grease can be sometimes when it’s cold, but it was harder than grease. It reminded me of candle wax...

...wait a minute. Before Praise Team, I noticed the bathroom candle I had lit earlier in the day made its way to the kitchen and extinguished. But again, I didn’t think anything of it. (Twice in one day. I’m slipping on my game!) Surely they didn’t...

...they wouldn’t...

...did my kids dump candle wax down the kitchen sink drain?!

I tried the drain on the other side of our double sink. No food or visible obstructions over the drain hole; just water continuing to rise with no signs of it washing away.

Nobody was home so my head might have exploded. I called Nathan to see what their ETA was to come back home. Then I Googled “How to get candle wax from your sink drain.”

The boys were in excellent moods when they got home. It helped their case. It also helped that I had the opportunity to take a deep breath and ask for the whole story before blowing up. I muttered a couple of prayers under my breath. I know I’m constantly asking for wisdom to be a better parent but God certainly has a sense of humor about it. Here is “the rest of the story.”

(Rewind to 2 p.m. this afternoon.) Logan found a paint stick and Elijah snagged a big plastic serving spoon and they played swords in the kitchen.

(They were supposed to be unloading and reloading the dishwasher.) Logan’s paint stick connected with the spoon and it broke. Tape didn’t work, so they got the grill lighter out and tried to “weld” it back together. (I am actually impressed at this train of thought but the execution demanded a stern lecture from their Dad about using lighters without an adult watching.)

The grill lighter wasn’t staying lit long enough, so they found a small candle in one of the drawers. They lit the candle, then turned the spoon above it like a rotisserie to melt it and attach it back together. It wasn’t working, and somewhere along the line, they went back to the tape idea. Only now, the spoon had two big melted blobs on each end. From my understanding, this is when the front porch apology happened.

While Elijah was outside, Logan went to the potty and discovered the bigger lit candle in the bathroom. (That bathroom smelled like a locker room!) He brought it to the kitchen and extinguished it with a wet towel. (I know, I know, this is dangerous. They know now too. I assumed they already knew from previous life lessons we’ve had but apparently kids don’t always think clearly. Or they have selective memory. I seriously was just on the porch. They were not home alone.)

Elijah comes back inside, and for whatever reason that nobody can seem to tell me, proceeds to dump the hot wax down the kitchen drain. “We washed it down!!” Logan exclaimed when they were done telling their story.

Take a deep breath, Mama. You have to explain this slowly.

“What physical state is the wax in when it’s hot?” I asked

“Liquid. It just ran right down the drain!” Logan exclaimed.

“And what happens when the wax gets room temperature or hit with cold water?” I asked.

Blank stare. It’s starting to sink in.

“It turns into a solid.” Logan said, slower this time.

I opened the doors under the kitchen sink and pointed to the plumbing. Behind me, Nathan is at the kitchen island with his head in his hands.

“That’s called the ‘P-trap,’’ he sighed. “Your wax filled up the pipes and it’s backed up the sink. You have to take off the P-trap and clean it out.” Clearly annoyed, he finished with, “Go find a bucket to catch the water.”

The boys got a bucket, put it under the sink, and unscrewed the trap themselves. The amount of wax they pulled from the pipe was at least 3” long. “Woah! I had no idea we put that much wax down the drain!” Logan was shocked. “No wonder the drain didn’t work.” This is when I put my open hand to my forehead. I swear I do that a hundred times a day.

So, we had a plumbing lesson before it was all over. Where each pipe goes, what the valves are for, how to shut off the water, and the difference between blue, red, and white lines (cold, hot, dishwasher).

Tonight we got lucky. Really lucky. It could have been much worse! On the bright aide, my boys can now clean out the P-trap under the sink all by themselves. They know what happens when you dump wax (or too much grease) down the sink. They know playing with the lighter is prohibited and not to play swords in the kitchen. I thought about making Logan do a Health & Safety video demo for 4-H regarding fire, candle wax and P-traps but when I suggested the idea, he refused. “No way!” he exclaimed. I’m still pondering the idea. Heck, we could turn this into a Poster Project!

So friends, don’t put candle wax down the drain.