Parenting

When Your Kid Is A Perfectly Fine Loser

When Your Kid Is A Perfectly Fine Loser

As my son came off the ice yesterday following his hockey game, he looked at Mark and me, shrugged up one shoulder a bit and gave a, “meh, what are you gonna do?” expression.

They’d lost another game - they've had plenty of experience losing this season, which has been hard on the team’s morale.  

Except for my child’s.

He still comes off the ice with a smile.

It drives Mark insane.  

“It would be nice if he was just a little more competitive,” he’ll say.

Putting Yourself Out There & Finding Your People

Putting Yourself Out There & Finding Your People

Do you ever wonder what you’re here for?

Not like when you walk to your pantry, fling open the door and think, “Wait, what did I come over here for?” then you have to retrace your steps and go aaallll the way back to the couch, sit down, and get comfy, and THAT’s when it comes back to you, so you sigh really hard, heave yourself back up off the couch, schlep back to the pantry, muttering curse words at yourself about how this is happening more and more frequently, and then - because alzheimer’s runs in your family, you convince yourself this is a sign of early onset dementia, then you launch immediately into a panic attack (because naturally anxiety also runs in your family).

No, I’m talking about: do you wonder bigger picture what you’re here for?

I do.

Best Classroom Craft: How To Make A Scrapbook For Each Student

Best Classroom Craft: How To Make A Scrapbook For Each Student

When my youngest was in elementary school, I got a wild hair and started doing a class scrapbook each year. 

Here’s what that looked like: going into his classroom twice each month of the school year - once to take pictures of each student doing a certain activity, then - after having the photos printed - going back a second time to hand out the photos, along with a scrapbook page for them to decorate.

At the end of the school year, I assembled the loose pages into books for each student to take home, and they absolutely loved it.

It wasn’t technically my idea.

My sister-in-law was doing it for her daughter’s class, and - not to ever be outdone by her - I immediately stole the idea and took it to my son’s school, claiming all the credit for my own, WHICH IS HOW I ROLL.

The 7 Best Texas Historic Landmarks That Your Kids Need To See ASAP

The 7 Best Texas Historic Landmarks That Your Kids Need To See ASAP

Having given birth to my first-born on Texas Independence Day, March 2nd, it’s only natural that I’d be somewhat of a Texas history buff.

But alas, I am not.

History buff? Yes. Texas history? Meh.

I really only know about these historic sites because my dad IS a history buff - all the history, and I grew up being dragged around the state to visit these places, and they were always accompanied by a long and mind-numbing lecture, which I only now can appreciate.

Can A 504 Plan Be Used In College?

Can A 504 Plan Be Used In College?

This is a question I often hear, and it’s one that I also hear and see answered incorrectly. The short answer is: yes. Colleges must provide accommodations through section 504.

In case you don’t know what a 504 Plan is or what it does, here’s the full definition, per the U.S. Department of Education.

In a nutshell, it is this: a written plan that ensures that a student who has a disability identified under the law receives accommodations to ensure the student receives the same access to academic success as everyone else. 

It levels the playing field for students who have a disability - no matter how large or small, and no matter if it’s permanent or temporary.

Tween Boy's Bedroom Update

Tween Boy's Bedroom Update

We’ve only lived in this house for two years, but we’ve already ruined it. 

Am I the only mom who’s raised a bunch of filthy animals who shove things onto shelves and set things aside to “deal with later,” creating piles everywhere, until, before you know it, you’re surrounded by so much clutter, you can’t escape and your family’s had to carve their names into the sides of the cave that used to be their bedroom, just so that someone knows there are humans inside, if they’re ever rescued?

No? Just me?

I had a few projects planned to tackle this summer, to rein in the clutter, and I’ve finally completed the first one: my 11-year-old son’s room.

He had a hodge-podge of furniture from his Texas-themed room at our old house that didn’t match his new Texas Stars hockey theme here at the new house.

Also, he’s not into toys. So all the toys he’s gotten for Christmas and birthdays have just gotten shoved onto shelves, where they’ve sat collecting dust.

Why I Am Not Teaching My Kids To Be Color Blind

Why I Am Not Teaching My Kids To Be Color Blind

Scrolling through Instagram recently, I came across a post that bothered me so much, I have to address it here.

It was from a mom who said that her daughter told her, “Yesterday I played with a really nice black girl,” and the mom was mortified, and commented that she’d failed as a parent.

She replied to her daughter, “That’s not nice,” and then admitted that her daughter was confused by this comment from her mom.

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. 🤷‍