Parenting

Death Of The Photo Album & How It's Killing Our Connections

Death Of The Photo Album & How It's Killing Our Connections

As a little girl, I remember spending the summers on my great-grandmother’s farm with my cousin, who’s only five months older than me.  

Most of our childhood was spent far, far away from each other because of her dad’s career in the oil business. His job had him living all around the world, in fancy places like France, Africa, and Switzerland.

But we would spend much of our summers together there on my great-grandma’s farm in southern Oklahoma, just right on the other side of the Red River from my childhood town.

We would play outside in the early mornings, when there was still dew on the grass. We would walk out to the hen house and collect eggs, and walk down the lonely red dirt road, telling each other spooky stories about what might be hiding in those tall rows of corn on either side of the road.

A Father's Day Wish For My Sons

A Father's Day Wish For My Sons

A version of this post first published June 9, 2016, when my oldest - now 20 - was still a teenager.

My teenager was forced to emerge yesterday from his dark hole of a bedroom because it was the first day of summer break, and we had to go get his passport renewed.  

Just a few days before, I'd stood on the front porch, bantering with him as he walked out to his car, watching him pull out and waving goodbye to him as he left for one of his last few days of his junior year.  

He hates when I do this.  

"Why do you do that?  It's so weird," he'll say in a tone that makes it clear he's disgusted by the whole thing.

Best Books To Inspire Travel In Teens And Tweens

Best Books To Inspire Travel In Teens And Tweens

Years ago, when we first started working with our financial planner - which sounds very fancy, but I assure you it’s not like that.

Our decision to work with a financial planner came about when we were living paycheck to paycheck, and Mark and I finally acknowledged that we are children when it comes to being financially responsible, because we like shiny stuff, and we needed a non-biased person - who’s also smart with money - to tell us what we should spend and what we should save.

In the beginning of our working relationship with him, we were tasked with writing out our family’s priorities so we could finagle a budget that would work for us.

How To Capture A Family Story Your Kids Want To Read

How To Capture A Family Story Your Kids Want To Read

My dad and I had the almost unbelievable luxury of traveling to England last year for a family research trip for my upcoming book, and we came away with some of the most meaningful stories our family’s ever shared.

Not just because of the memories we created by traveling together and getting good, solid quality time visiting my dad’s brother and his family, who live an ocean away from us, but the stories we pieced together of our ancestors based on the research we did.

What To Do When You Don't Like Your Kid's Friends

What To Do When You Don't Like Your Kid's Friends

Both my boys have all different types of friends - they don’t tend to run in just one circle. They both make friends very easily, and get along with pretty much anybody. Which is a great quality, I realize.

But the truth is, sometimes I just don’t like the kids they’re hanging out with.

How To Avoid Enabling A Child With Anxieties

How To Avoid Enabling A Child With Anxieties

If only I knew 14 or 15 years ago what I know now about raising a child with anxieties.

Our first-born, now 20, had bouts of anxiety from as early as I can remember - infancy, really - and they grew more and more paralyzing as he grew into elementary-school age.

When he was in kindergarten, there was a light bulb flickering in the school gym during PE for over a month, and he would freak the freak out so hard they’d have to send him to the counselor’s office during PE time until they could get maintenance down there to change that damn bulb.

Best And Worst Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Best And Worst Teacher Appreciation Gifts

You don’t want to be the a-hole parent who gives your kid’s teacher a cute plaque, personalized with the wrong spelling of their name, do you? (Ack! Been there, done that.)

Here’s a list of what teachers want, and a collection of funny things they’ve received that they don’t want.

Public Bathroom Safety For Your Child

Public Bathroom Safety For Your Child

Something happened recently that has me freaked out a bit over what could have happened.  I want to share it with you, not to be exploitative, but to bring awareness. 

And because writing about things is how I “deal.” 

Not that this is about me.

My 8-year-old son and I went to my favorite place in the whole wide world (Target, of course) to buy materials we needed for a school project.  My child had to, of course, use the bathroom, because using bathrooms in every store we visit is his most passionate hobby, so I waited by the registers for him to come out.

He came out of the bathroom and told me that something weird had happened.

Mothers Day Gift Ideas For The Impossible Mom

Mothers Day Gift Ideas For The Impossible Mom

Say whatever you want about how hard your mom is to buy for, but don’t think you’re going to bow up to me with a challenge on it, unless you’re willing to take that conversation straight to a level 10, because I will win that one every single time.

Honestly. Try me.

9 Steps To No More Tears At Homework Time

9 Steps To No More Tears At Homework Time

Let me start by saying that this is by no means a fool-proof or perfect plan.

In fact, it’s been literally less than 24 hours since there were tears shed over homework at this very table where I currently type these words.

My timing for writing this “how-to” type post is, as usual, (im)perfectly timed with a life occurrence that makes me think the universe is keeping me from getting all cocky by thinking I have all the answers.

This is just a guideline that works as a general rule.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

It requires that everyone do their own part.

Are You Screwing Up At This Mom Thing?

Are You Screwing Up At This Mom Thing?

Hey, you.

I’m looking at you, momma. I see you smiling that plastered-on smile to make everyone around you think you’re alright.

That you’ve got it all together.

That you’re feeling all “tight-and-right” about your momming skills.

But I know that look. And I know that your smile is a lie.

Simple Ways To Connect With Your Kids

Simple Ways To Connect With Your Kids

One of my favorite memories growing up is of my mom baking homemade Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies. She would mix up the dough and put the bowl in the freezer and bake small batches at a time during the next few weeks.

Her cookie-baking time meant I could be in the kitchen with her.

To this day, warm Nestle Toll House cookies are irresistible to me.

So much so that a bowl of dough doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell hanging out in the freezer.

Full transparency: there isn’t a “bowl of dough” happening, anyway.

In my house we do Nestle’s “break-n-bake” because - while I do think there’s something slightly missing from the taste by taking this time-saving route, you know that my claim to fame is cutting corners.

How To Deal With A Teacher You Or Your Child Can't Stand

How To Deal With A Teacher You Or Your Child Can't Stand

When our oldest son, who turns 20 in a few weeks, was in elementary school, we were asked to fill out a form at the end of each year, indicating which teacher we wanted him to have for the next school year.

There were other questions on the form, too, where you could give more information about your kid’s personality and their learning style, which the committee would take into consideration when setting class rosters.

They might still do this. I’m not sure.

It’s a nice gesture toward the parents, and I’m sure the school administrators found it helpful when they were putting the classes together.  

I remember that early each school year, there would be rumblings from parents who didn’t get the teacher they put as their first choice. And sometimes they wouldn’t get their second or third choice, either.

Aah, the things we get riled up about. 🤷‍

When You Start Believing Lies Of Self Deprecating Humor

When You Start Believing Lies Of Self Deprecating Humor

One of my favorite things about myself is my sense of humor. Not to be braggy, but I’m one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.

Nothing makes me want to smother a cigar under my heel and strut off like Kate Moss down the runway more than laying out a funny one-liner that makes people throw their head back laughing.

I’ve always taken great pride in being able to laugh things off, even in times of sadness and stress.

Even during the cycles of depression I’ve experienced in my life, humor was there, although it wasn’t as accessible to me as it is when I’m out of the funk.

The Dangerous Mindset That Throws Us Off Pace

Part of our morning routine on school days is for Cody to tell me, “But we’re not late - we’ve left way later than this before,” when I tell him he needs to get moving so we’ll be on time for school.

I’ve tried explaining to him that we might not be late at that very second, but that if he keeps the pace he’s currently keeping - slow AF - we’ll most definitely be late.

Getting him to understand that he’s still got eight more steps in the 10 steps it takes to get out the door in the morning, requires a degree in childhood development that reaches far beyond the likes of my wildly average parenting.

I get it, though.

I’m basically a living example of how my life has played out with this very same mindset.

The mindset that says, “I don’t need to get started right now. Things aren’t that bad.”

How to Get Your Kids The Help They Need At School

When my youngest son, who’s now in fifth grade, was in first grade, we already saw the signs of a child with ADHD. He didn’t have hyperactivity or behavior issues sometimes associated with ADHD, but he couldn’t focus for shit.

We had parent-teacher conferences, I sent many unanswered emails to the teacher, and time after time, we found that she was lumping him in with all the other students, and completely overlooking the specific educational needs of my son.

I wasn’t asking her for an effing kidney. I just wanted her to consider for just one flipping minute that my son wasn’t learning the way she was teaching.

I have a very strong opinion on this, by the way.

4 Lessons From Hosting A Classroom Party (or, How To Have Your Room Mom Of The Year Award Revoked)

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you how to win the Room Mom of the Year Award?  I didn’t want to just write about the craft that would help you win the award, I also did the craft myself, because what kind of person would I be if I just claimed I was sharing the magic recipe for Room Mom success, without even trying it for myself to make sure?

I want to take this moment to update you on the craft, the party, and about that day in general, so you’ll know how it all went down.  

Let me start by saying that a few days prior to the party, things were right on schedule and everything was coming together as planned.  

Community in Crisis Over Child Walking Home From Bus Stop Carrying Elf With Bare Hands

Trouble continues in a local neighborhood, where a mother is accused of allowing her daughter to walk down the street carrying her elf with bare hands in front of all the other children.

It all began last week when the incoming-text-notifications of eight moms’ phones and that of one stay-at-home-dad rang out simultaneously from an angry group text, initiated by Kayla’s mom, Patricia, stating that “FYI, the kids just got off the bus and there’s a little girl walking in the middle of the pack, carrying her elf. IN HER HAND, right out in the open where all the kids can see.”

A flurry of texts ensued, with everyone trying to figure out “who the hell is it?” and causing a data bottleneck that ultimately knocked out the nearby cell tower.

“We all suspected that it was that one lady’s bratty daughter,” one mother said, “because that woman always gives in to her child, and sure enough, my neighbor texted to confirm it after pulling out her binoculars.”

Why It’s Important Not To Leave Things Unsaid

Most of my professional life was spent in the advertising industry. Almost 25 years, in fact.

There are a lot of weird people in the ad industry.

As a tender little sapling in “the biz,” I always worked for the wackiest of wack jobs and had the most bizarre experiences.

It’s one of the reasons my college BFF, Jen, who - over the phone, when I’d steal a moment of privacy behind the dark, closed door of a utility closet, I would whisper the latest “story you’re not gonna believe,” she would say to me, through tears of laughter and shock, “Oh my God, did you write this down? You have got to write a book someday - you couldn’t make this stuff up!”

Incidentally, it’s the reason I named my funny memoir, “You Should Write A Book, True Tales Of An Unstable Life.”

Then I found a job where I felt like people were normal.

4 Things We Don’t Do Anymore

About 18 months ago, when we decided to put our house on the market, we had already found the new house we wanted to buy, so we had to get our old house staged as quick as little bunnies to get it listed and sold in an effort to not carry two mortgages.

The plan was that, while we were packing up stuff to clear the house out and make it look the exact opposite of how my family lives in real life, instead of culling out stuff to donate or trash at that time - which is stupidly time-consuming, but is what people have to do if they don’t want to MOVE THINGS TWICE, like a bunch of idiots - we would just have to chunk everything into storage and deal with it on the back end, after moving to the new house.

Sigh.