Warning: Instructions Not Included


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

How are you most like your parents? How are your most different from them?

It was submitted by: http://thelieberfamily.com    

Reading my secret subject this month literally made me cringe. I procrastinated writing for days, when I finally did write, I wrote…I deleted…I wrote again…I deleted again. Now here I am at the last minute trying to throw something together. The thing is I’ve been estranged from my parents for almost 6 years. This topic hit me hard, it took me back to places I’d rather not visit, emotions I thought I’d gotten in control, feelings I positively believed I’d handled. I’ve always prided myself on my transparency. What you see is what you get, and I’ve strived to always be honest about my struggles in pretty much every area of my life, except this one. It hurts too much. I don’t know that it will ever not hurt. Has what I’ve been through and experienced changed the way I parent or view parenting?  Absolutely. Someday I might be ready and willing to talk about familial estrangement and how it not only changed my life, but changed the way I think and feel as a parent.  I’m just not there yet, and I can’t figure out how to write about this subject without going there, and I’m just not ready to go there. Forgiveness is a tricky thing. I’ve learned it’s not something you do just once and all is forgotten. Forgiveness is a daily practice.  Some days I’m better at it than others. Today is not that day.

So, I decided to focus instead on questioning whether parenting is harder today than it was when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I saw this meme on Facebook and it made me laugh and gave me this idea for a spin on my secret subject this month.


Can you relate?

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Is parenting harder today? The short answer is no. Parenting IS hard, regardless of decade or century, time or place. In my opinion, the biggest difference that exists today that makes parenting seem so much harder is the judgment. Everyone has an opinion about how YOU should raise YOUR kids and they aren’t shying away from feeling they have the right to tell you all about it.

I remember riding my bike to the local 7-11 with my allowance money and buying all the candy I could afford. My sister would ration hers out so that it lasted a long time, but not me. I ate all that candy in pretty much one sitting and then plotted and schemed to figure out how to get into my sister’s stash. I saw a mom on Facebook get absolutely reamed as a bad mother because she bought her daughter the infamous unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks. Because it was her daughter’s birthday. Because her daughter loved unicorns. This poor mom was forever stamped and labeled by strangers as winning the title for Worst Mom Of The Year award. Clearly she doesn’t love her kid, otherwise she would NEVER let her have a beverage filled with so much sugar and artificial ingredients and colors.

Everyone is an expert on how to raise YOUR kids, except you.

I’m sure everyone remembers the tragic death of the gorilla, Harambe, in the Cincinnati Zoo that was killed after a 3 year old climbed into his enclosure. The mother that took her eye off of her child for probably 2 seconds, received death threats and screams of outrage that her children be taken away from her.

We are so quick to jump on the parenting fail bandwagon. Is it because it makes us feel better about our own parenting? When did we become so unforgiving and harsh to each other? Certainly there are bad parents out there that probably deserve condemnation, censure, critical and harsh judgment and shouldn’t be allowed in the presence of children ever. I’m not talking about those parents and I think most of us know the difference. It’s become almost an olympic sport to publicly eviscerate any parenting style that differs from our own or what has been acknowledged as politically correct.

I don’t know about you, but I fail as a parent ALL THE TIME.  Like many other parents, I’ve felt the sting of judgment from my peers, the looks, the “well-intentioned” advice and opinions. I’ve somehow resisted the strong urge to punch all of them in the face. I feel that entitles me to an award of some kind! I don’t need you to tell me how I’ve failed, there are hundreds of articles published daily all over the internet to ensure I never feel good about the decisions I’ve made as a parent, how I’ve failed my kids on some level and how messed up they are in general.  I mean I’ve raised three millennials, and apparently they are the WORST generation EVER. (insert sarcasm)

I think most of us are doing the best we can. I believe two basic things as a parent.

  1. I neither deserve all the credit nor all the blame for how my adult children have turned out, the decisions they make, the people they’ve become.  They are autonomous creatures unto themselves navigating the same murky waters, making similar mistakes or inventing new ones all on their own. They are human. I am human. We are perfectly imperfect and made in His image, meant to be loved, cherished, protected, accepted and embraced for not only our similarities but also for the things that make us beautifully unique and different.
  2. Forgiveness. Unfortunately parenting is a learn as you go type of education, and it’s not one-size fits all. Forgive yourself. As a parent, show your kids you can admit when you are wrong. You can own your mistakes. The words “I’m sorry” go both ways.  They will fail you as children, and you will fail them as parents. Forgiveness. It’s one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. There needs to be more of it in the world today. We are quick to judge, slow to forgive. We need to turn that concept on its head, judge less and forgive more. No one has it all figured out. No one.

If you see a mom or dad struggling with their kids today, give him/her a word of encouragement. Even a smile. A sympathetic nod. Let them know and feel that they are not in this parenting thing alone, they are not doing it all wrong, and that you’ve got their back. Remember that golden rule we learned in Kindergarten? If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. Resist that urge to make a snap judgment about a parenting style you witnessed at your kids school or in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant and then post about it on Facebook so all your friends can jump on the parenting fail bandwagon making you feel justified and vindicated, confident in the knowledge that you are at least better than one parent out there. If you’re like most parents, you beat yourself up all the time about the mistakes you’ve made, you don’t need someone else swinging that bat for you. You need someone to take the bat away and give you a hug instead. Tell you it’s going to be okay. You are not alone. You are not a failure. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. Together.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                   http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom            http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Not That Sarah Michelle                    http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                    http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com


Have Courage, Be Kind

Use Your Words

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

Blue ~ Balloon ~ Bubbles ~ Park ~ Strawberry ~ Miracle

They were submitted by: http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I’m sitting here, eating a strawberry, trying to figure out what I want to write about and how to fit in these words.  I’ll be honest, my inspiration for what I wanted to write about hit me literally in the middle of the night, and the only word I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate was strawberry, so I decided to eat one and tell you about it.  I’d even go so far as to say that I bought them with the express purpose of having one to eat, but I’m not that organized.

I usually shy away from hot button topics, not because I’m short on opinions or afraid of confrontation, but because that’s just never what my blog has been about.  It’s always been a place to confront my own failings and shortcomings as a wife, mother and woman in a hopefully humorous style, shining a bright light on all my imperfections and inviting you to laugh along at me or with me.

I’ll be the first to admit that in general I probably suck at this parenting thing.  My mistakes more numerous than the stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach.  Thankfully, my mistakes have never been broadcast on a global scale for everyone to see.  I’ve never been tried in the court of public opinion, found lacking, and verbally executed for my failings as a mother or as a wife.  I’ve been lucky.  I’ve dodged my fair share of bullets.

Which brings me to my point.

The death of the Cincinnati Zoo’s 17 year old rare silverback gorilla, Harambe, left me feeling blue.  I watched the videos with the same mix of horror and sadness as everyone else.  It was awful, a tragedy, as the loss of any life should be.  If you for some reason have no clue what I’m talking about, just google the name “Harambe” or “Cincinnati Zoo” to bring yourself up to speed and then tell me what rock you’ve been living under so I can join you, I’ll bring food.  And fun, frothy beverages. The story was appallingly horrific and my heart goes out to the mother, the child, every witness of the tragic event as well as the zoo officials.  But what I found equally horrific, was how quickly and easily everyone turned on the mother of the child that fell into that enclosure.  Or jumped.  Or climbed and fell.  Whatever group of adjectives you want to string together to describe what happened that day.  Comments on the event ranged from “that mom should be in jail” to “the child should be shot”. I took myself off social media and avoided the television for a few days because I couldn’t even fully process the things I was hearing and reading.  The angry vehemence and hatred of the masses, the opinions, the statements, the public outcry so vicious and quick, on both sides of the proverbial fence.  The whole incident left me feeling bruised and heartbroken.  I just wanted everyone to stop, take a moment.  Take a breath.  Think.

I was completely blown away by the hatred and condemnation pouring forth from the lips of both parents and non-parents alike.  I hate to stick a pin in the “that would NEVER happen to me because I’m the perfect parent/person” balloon, but what happened that day could have happened to ANY of us.  It was a freak accident that couldn’t have been predicted or anticipated.  It was a tragedy that couldn’t have been foretold.  When did it become so easy as parents, or even human beings to turn on one another?  Those fingers of judgment pointing, condemning, so quickly, so harshly.  When did mom or parental shaming become a sport or national pastime? Is it fear that makes us react so?  Because deep down, we know it could just as easily have been one of us?

I don’t know what kind of mother or person she is in her daily life, but my heart goes out to her.  We’d all like to wrap our kids in safety bubbles before we send them forth in this big and scary world, because we know that our eyes and hands can’t be everywhere, foreseeing every twist and turn in the crazy and sometimes terrifying journey of parenthood. We’ve all taken our eye off the ball, gotten distracted.  I left my infant daughter strapped in her carseat on top of the washing machine at home and didn’t realize it till I got to the grocery story and opened the back door of my car to get her out.  The feeling I got when I realized I had forgotten her, I can’t even describe the panic, the paralyzing fear I felt in that moment.  I couldn’t get home fast enough, my mind racing to all the horrific possibilities.  What if my house caught on fire?  What if by some freak accident, her car seat fell off the washing machine and crashed to the floor.  What would people have said about me if any of those scenarios had happened.  How could she forget her child?  She should be shot! Her kid should be taken away!  She should be in jail! Worse mother ever!  She was fine.  I was lucky.  It took days for the guilt and fear of those few moments to leave me.  Even now, 21 years later, I still feel sick to my stomach thinking of it.

Or the time, our entire family was at the beach.  It was crowded.  It had been a long day.  We gathered everyone up to head home, half of us heading to the car, the other half to the outdoor showers to rinse off the sand and sunscreen sticking to our bodies.  So none of us noticed immediately that we had left my youngest daughter behind, she couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old.  We dropped everything and ran back, screaming her name.  She was standing right there where we left her.  Crying.  There aren’t words I could put down right now to convey how I felt as a mother in those terrifying moments.  What if she had been snatched up?  Or wandered into the ocean by herself?  What would the headlines say about me?  She was fine.  It’s a story we still talk about today, some 14 years later.  A cautionary tale. Again, I was lucky.

I can’t quantify how many times I’ve taken my eyes off my kids, even for a second, at the park, the store, the mall, or even the zoo.  Anywhere. Everywhere. By some miracle, I’ve managed to raise 3 of my 4 kids to adulthood, relatively unscathed.  I’m loathe to even put that down in writing, I don’t want to invite trouble.  Make no mistake though, it’s not because I’m a better parent.  I’ve been lucky, blessed even.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel wretched about what happened to Harambe.  Could it have been prevented?  Maybe.  Possibly.  Honestly though, that’s true about anything.  It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback a situation, talk about how you would have done it differently, or better.  In some ways, I think it’s healthy and natural to have those kinds of conversations.  Learn from our mistakes, move forward.  When it comes to situations like this, we certainly don’t want history to repeat itself.  But when did it become ok to do so in a way so hateful, nasty and downright violent?  When did we all become so collectively “perfect” that we can eagerly and quickly tear down this mother, this family, this child or the zoo.  This parenting thing is hard.  Imagine if we spent more time building each other up and supporting each other rather than tearing each other down, ripping each other apart or pointing that finger of judgment and condemnation.  Take a moment and really think about the mistakes you’ve made that could have gone another way, and imagine those mistakes caught on film and broadcast for the whole world to see.  I don’t know about you, but that shuts my mouth in a hurry.

I hate what happened.  My heart hurts for everyone involved.  EVERYONE.




These are easy words to shine in the face of someone else’s mistakes.  Be careful though, one day you might find that spotlight shining down on you.  How would you want to be treated? Remembered?  Should we be defined only by the mistakes we’ve made?  I sincerely hope not, or I’m doomed, and so I would venture to guess, are most of you.  If you’ve never screwed up or made a mistake, please contact me, tell me how you do it. I’d love to learn from you, save myself from the inevitable guilt and sorrow of my future failings and shortcomings.

Otherwise, in the words of Cinderella:

“Have courage and be kind.”

Always.  Especially to each other. Let us stand up for one another.  Be a friend, be a champion.  Love one another, that basic golden rule, so easy in theory, so difficult in practice, not in spite of our failures and mistakes, but because of them.

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking in a Tornado





Dinosaur Superhero Mommy



Confessions of a part-time working mom


Feel The Burn


Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on the links at the bottom of my post for a peek into some other homes.


“Having a little girl has been like following an old treasure map with the important paths torn away.” – Heather Gudenkauf

One of my most popular and most read posts of all time recounts the night my daughter’s vagina fell out.  You can read it here.  Crazy times. Every time my daughter calls me with some physical ailment or another, we measure it on the “vagina falling out” scale.  God love her, but she can be a tad dramatic.  I don’t know where she gets it.  Like AT ALL.  One time, she got a boil from an ingrown hair and was convinced she had ebola.  Dr. Google is her physician and he’s always presenting her with worst case scenarios.  I keep telling her to quit asking him.

One day a short while ago, this same daughter and I were taking our daily walk with her new puppy and I notice she’s kinda walking funny.  I’m torn between ignoring it and asking her about it.  I just never know what she will say.  She has a tendency to overshare.  On the one hand, I’m thrilled that she trusts me enough to talk to me, really talk to me, about anything and everything.  On the other hand, there are some topics I would be happy to avoid…forever.  I watch her continue to kinda waddle along until I can’t stand it anymore and I ask her.  I should have kept my mouth shut.  When will I learn.

Apparently, she’d had a rough day a couple of days ago.  This guy she’s dating had come over to her apartment to hang out, and when he arrived, she’d been crying.  Naturally, he asked her what was wrong, and she proceeded to sob all over him, recounting her tale of woe.  Basically, if it could have gone wrong, it did.  It was one of those days where a thousand tiny things go wrong, and you just get overwhelmed by it all and want the day to end.  Taken individually, none of these things were a big deal, but piled up on top of one another…well, sometimes you just need a good cry.  He patted her on the back, listened and then offered to make her tea.

Feeling slightly better, she accepted.  Tea sounded comforting and perfect for the situation.  She gave him a watery smile in appreciation of his thoughtfulness.  One moment, she’s cradling the cup in her lap waiting for it to cool, the next moment she’s accidentally dumping the entire boiling hot contents in her lap.  She jumps up screaming hysterically, ripping her yoga pants off.  Her date just sitting there on the couch in stunned silence.  I’m looking at her horrified as she tells me this.  She looks over at me and says “Oh, and did I mention, it’s also that time of the month?”  Oh no.

me:  “So you stripped down naked? Like…completely? With him just sitting there?”

daughter:  “Mom!  I dumped scalding hot water all over the crotch of my yoga pants.  I just wanted them off, panties and all.  I don’t think he noticed the pad though, you know with all the screaming, I’m pretty sure he was panicking and not really paying attention.  I hope so anyway. I kept my shirt on though.”

me:  “omg, well are you okay? I can’t believe you didn’t call me.”

daughter: “What could you have done?  Yeah, I’m okay, I mean I have burns all over my vagina, and it hurts to wear clothes, or walk, or sit…or do anything really. But I am walking better today at least.  I was walking really bowlegged at work, and now it’s more of a slight waddle. Like a pregnancy waddle.”

me:  shaking my head

daughter:  “Yeah so I ran into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, it was excruciating, I couldn’t think what to do.”  Her date brings her an ice pack.  “Yeah it was kinda awkward, him helping me hold the ice pack to my crotch, because I’m shaking so bad.”

me:  there are no words.

daughter:  “I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly how he imagined seeing me naked for the first time.”

me:  I’m speechless.

daughter:  “Really I’m fine.  Don’t worry.”

me:  “You and your vagina are going to be the death of me.”

daughter:  “Mom, don’t be dramatic.”

me:  “You know I’m going to write about this right?”

daughter:  “yeah, I figured.”

me:  “I’m taking that as approval.”

daughter:  sighs.

A week later, she breaks her hand.  Sigh.



Man-child turned 10 last month.  His birthday was on a Thursday, so we decided we’d let him skip school that Friday.  He was super pumped.  On the following Monday, I put a note in his folder.  I might have fibbed.  A little.  I mean he did have a big piece of birthday cake.  A stomach ache wasn’t exactly a lie.  Exactly.  Ish.  I pick him up from school and ask him if he gave the note to his teacher.

Man-child: “Yeah I gave it to her.  I told her you lied though.”

me:  “WHAT?!?!”

man-child:  “Well, mom…come on, she wasn’t buying the tummy ache.  She knew.  And you didn’t raise me to be a liar did you?”

me:  stumped.


My son left his iPod on the coffee table in front of me, and I notice his screensaver.


Then my husband sends me this requesting I buy it for him:






I used to worry that my husband and I wouldn’t have anything to talk about when our kids had all flown the nest.

husband:  “I find that I poop before the gym and then I need to go again when I get to the gym.”

me:  “How is that even possible?  Are you cutting it off before you’re finished?”

husband:  “No, I feel done when I’m done.  I’m not holding it back, it’s just like after moving around a bit more, I’ve jogged some more loose.”

me:  “I’m happy if I go once a day. I need to drink more water.”

husband:  “I can’t imagine going less than 4 or 5 times a day.”

me: “Well, you eat a tic tac and you have to poop it out.  Do you have an eating disorder?  Do you weigh your poop?”

husband:  “Is that a thing?”

me:  “Well, I saw it on a criminal minds episode once.  A girl with an eating disorder kept a food diary with her poop measurements.  So I guess so.”

husband:  “huh. The more you know…”

Clearly, my fears were unfounded.


Man-child and I love to spend our weekend nights playing with the filter on Snapchat.  We really know how to live it up. If you’re wondering what my husband is doing during this funfest…he’s tilted back in his favorite chair, eyes closed, mouth open, gently snoring.  He’ll grunt occasionally during our antics, letting us know he’s annoyed by all the laughter.  Sometimes he’ll ask when we are going to bed? I’m not going to bed at 7pm, I don’t care how annoyed he gets.  Be jealous.  Here are some of our favorite outtakes:


MC (man-child) Kardashian




I’ll leave you with this horror show 😛



“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius

Buzz around these houses next:












A Pig and an Owl Walk into a Bar…

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg

Use Your Words

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them. 

My words are:

velvet ~ ham ~ spanked ~ batman ~ owl

They were submitted by: http://dinoheromommy.com/

I’ve carried these words around with me all week hoping inspiration would strike.  Well, strike it did.  In the form of one man-child.  

Yep, man-child strikes again.  In the car.  

man-child: “Mom?”

me: “Hmmm?”

man-child: “I know what I want to be for Halloween.”

me: “Halloween?  You know it’s not for like…8 months right?”

man-child: “Yeah.”

me: “Well it seems a bit early to be planning Halloween, just sayin’.”

man-child: “Yeah well…do you want to know what I decided to be for Halloween?”

me: “Sure.”

man-child: “Ask me?”

me: “Ask you what?”

man-child:  sighs

man-child: ” Ask me what I want to be for Halloween!”

me:  sighs

me: “What do you want to be for Halloween?”

man-child: “I’m not telling you, you have to guess!

me: “I don’t feel like playing the guessing game.”

me (thinking): wait!  I think I have a way to work my words into a blog post about this conversation!  I’m brilliant!  Yay me!  Whew, such a relief!

me: “okay okay, I’ll guess.”

man-child: “yay!”

me (thinking) you have no idea kid!

me: “A pig?  Cause you know, you’re such a ham?”

man-child: “A ham? Mom (shaking his head), if I was a pig, I’d totally be bacon. But NO!  Wrong guess. Guess again!”

me: “hmmmm. Let me think.”

me: “A red velvet cupcake?”

man-child: “What?!  Mom! These are terrible guesses. Are you even trying?!”

me (thinking): if you only knew…

me: “What do you mean? That was an excellent guess!”

man-child: “A cupcake mom?!?! Why are you being weird, guess for serious! A cupcake… I mean, come on!” 

me: “Desperate measures kid! Desperate measures!”

man-child shaking his head.

me: “Ok.  Ummm.  Let me think.  Okay! I got one!”

man-child: waiting patiently

me: “a sad Carolina Panther fan after getting spanked by the Denver Broncos?”

man-child: “Mom!” (face palm) “Do you even know me!? Just forget it.  BATMAN!  I’m going to be BATMAN!”

Confession: now I was pretty sure he was going to say Batman.  The movie is coming out very soon and the whole Batman vs Superman debate is a regular feature in our house.  If he hadn’t said batman, that would have sucked, but I’m sure I could have worked it in a conversation somehow. I’m pretty impressed with myself, working these words into our conversation.  I’d pat myself on the back, but I’d probably throw my back out.  Of course now I just have one word left…

man-child: “Oh, I have jokes. Wanna hear them?”

me: “Sure.”

man-child: “What do you get when a dinosaur fights with a pig?”

me: “I have no idea.”

man-child: “Jurassic Pork!”

man-child laughs hysterically at his own joke, which is actually funnier than the joke itself.  

man-child:  “What do you get when you play tug-o-war with a pig?”

me: “No clue?”

man-child: “A pulled pork!”

man-child: bhahahahahhahahaahhahahahahahahahahaha

man-child: wipes tears from his eyes

man-child: “ok, one more. Ready?”

me: “Go for it!”

man-child: “What do you call a magic owl?”

I almost wrecked the car when he said my final word! We need to take this show on the road! I’m laughing before I even know the punchline which makes him laugh harder so he can barely tell me.  I love this kid so much!

man-child: “A Hoo-dini!”


May you be as excited for your weekend as this precious pup!

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” Plautus

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:













Fun Is My Middle Name! Or not…

My third buzzword for 2016 is

FUN 🍾🎉

FUN 🍾🎉

and more

FUN 🍾🎉

When I shared this goal with my husband, he had three thoughts:

  1. a stripper pole in the bedroom
  2. more gym time
  3. his/her tattoos

As appalling tempting as those ideas sound, that’s not exactly where I was going with this idea. Although, I do think my husband would rock the g-string and pasties.  If you actually know my husband, then you’re welcome for that visual 😛

It’s difficult to find time to vacation with my husband’s schedule.  We’d love to take more family vacations and romantic couple getaways.  Family vacations are difficult financially with four kids, and then trying to find a block of time we can all go is virtually impossible.  Our 3 girls work full-time, go to college full-time, I’m lucky if I see them more than once per week, forget a full-fledged vacation!  Couple vacations are more manageable financially, but we can’t just leave our 10 year old son behind, not to mention our dogs, and for the reasons listed above we don’t want to burden our girls with this added responsibility, they already do so much.  Extended family isn’t really an option for us either for many reasons.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to romanticize our vacations.  During the planning phase, my visions of family vacation time are Instagram and FaceBook post worthy.  My kids all get along, my husband and I don’t argue, everything goes smoothly and according to plan.  We are the poster children for family fun, togetherness and happiness.  People will want to be us.  They will envy my planning skills, covet our shared photos. 

The reality is usually far different.  For example, the time my husband took off the side of our dodgy RV with a gas station pump.  Or when man-child’s penis got caught in the netting of his swim trunks causing him to cry during the entire walk from the beach to our rented house, every step excruciating pain, not being able to communicate the problem and being yelled at for crying and carrying on.  It’s with fondness that I recall the time my oldest daughter ate the side of a mountain with her face on our first ski trip, and sported a nasty black eye for the remainder of the trip.  Or the time my husband played chicken with a semi-truck in our dodgy RV.  Ah, that RV…such memories. We look back and laugh at these stories now, or at least most of them, but they don’t exactly live up to my expectations.  Our family trips bonded us (tested us) in ways different than we expected. However, I wouldn’t trade one memory or experience, the good, the bad or the ugly.  


The Dodgy RV

We’ve learned, out of necessity, to rock the staycation.  The six of us have fun just hanging together, playing games, watching movies, eating, drinking and general merriment.  Despite the fact that we haven’t seen much of the world, we’ve done a good job of instilling a sort of wanderlust in our children.  They love to travel, are open to new adventures and places.  Sometimes the best adventures happen in your own backyard.

 The bottom line is that fun is what you make of it.

Honestly, who needs a romantic getaway when you can send your husband sexy videos like this in the middle of his work day.


He couldn’t get away home fast enough 😉

Anyway, there is so much in our home state, even our local cities, that we haven’t yet experienced.  Our fun goal for 2016 is to do a better job of exploring the great state of Texas.  It’s practically it’s own country, or so the locals like to say 🙂  

Given my fitness goals for this year, I also wanted to find a way to incorporate exercise into our daily life.  I think 5k’s are great way to do this.  We can train as a family, and some of them are really fun!  Our German Shepherd loves being with all of us.  I thought scheduling scenic hikes with her and the whole family, little day trips, would be fun.  I’m not a huge fan of camping, but I’m willing to give it another try.  Maybe. Possibly. I’ll put it on the list…at the bottom.

In the next few months, our youngest daughter will be moving out (insert sobbing emoji here) and it will just be the three of us.  I’ll have even more time to pursue things I think are personally fun, like blogging, writing, reading and binge-watching television shows on Netflix. I am currently super addicted to Criminal Minds, eleven seasons all waiting for me!  I’m on season 2 and already an expert on profiling.  

My kindle is armed and ready.  


My kindle queue changes all the time, and I’m always looking for suggestions.

What kinds of things do you do for fun?  What books are on your reading list this year?  Do you have any fun family vacations planned this year that I can envy from afar?  Romantic getaways with your significant other?  Please let me live vicariously through you, share ❤

One Big Happy…


Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.


Man-child and I enjoying lunch together at the restaurant where my oldest daughter works.  Man-child’s food basket is lined with a newspaper from Honolulu.

Me:  “That newspaper in your basket is from Honolulu, do you know what state that’s in?”

Man-child ponders.

Me:  “I’ll give you a hint.  The state starts with an H.”

Man-child: “Hollywood?”

Me:  “Hollywood?!  No, Hollywood is not a state, it’s in California. Hollywood?  Really?”

Man-child sighs.  Man-child giggles.

Man-child: “I know.  HAWAII!”

I sigh.


Car Ride:

Man-child:  “So, mom?”

Me:  “Yes?”

Man-child:  “Who would win between Pelé and David Beckham?”

Me:  “Pretty sure you said Pelé’s name wrong.”

Man-child:  “No, I didn’t. Who would win?”

Man-child:  “Mom!”

Me:  “I don’t know, win what?”

Man-child face palms.


I’m trying to get ready for a night out with the hubs.  Our daughter Emily has agreed to babysit.  My phone buzzes…incessantly

Emily:  On my way

Man-child:  Why do I have a thing called group

Emily: It’s a group chat

Man-child: Ok but why do I have it and how did I get it

Emily: Because I started a group chat with you, me and mom

Man-child:  But how

Emily: OMG

Man-child:  What

Emily:  I’ll explain when I pick you up or ask mom

Me:  lol I’m trying to get ready

Man-child:  I know

Emily:  I think she was telling me not you

Man-child:  Ok can you stop texting me plz

Emily: No

Man-child:  Why

Emily: Why don’t you want to text me, don’t you love me

Man-child:  I am watching YouTube

Emily:  You always watch YouTube

Man-child:  I know

Emily:  You never text me

Man-child:  I know by I like YouTube

Emily:  You don’t like texting me?

Man-child:  Talk later? Bey bye

(meanwhile I am trying to ignore the constant buzzing of my phone)

Emily:  Did you just send me an auto response

Man-child:  No

Emily:  Guess I might rethink this whole taking you to dinner thing


Emily:  Since you like YouTube more than your own blood

Man-child:  I like you more than YouTube and mom and dad

Emily:  That’s what I thought (kissing emoji)

Emily:  Who’s your favorite sis?

Man-child:  I am not telling you plz stop texting me

Emily:  Not until you tell me

Me:  Wait! You like Emily more than me?!?!?!?!?!?!!??! (angry face emoji)

Man-child:  NO



Emily:  *LIE

Man-child:  it is equal to all

Me:  Omg I have to get ready, go to dinner!



Man-child:  Ok

Man-child:  Hi Emily

They are texting each other now in the same house.  I am about to lose my mind.


Man-child:  DO NOT TOUCH

Man-child: CHILLYS (his restaurant choice, misspelled)

And that’s what a group text looks like with a ten year old, a 19 year old and a tired mother


Same Car Ride:  Minutes Later

Man-child:  “So, mom?”

Man-child:  “Mom?”

Man-child:  “MOM?!”

Me:  “What?”

Man-child:  “So, who would win between Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant?”

Me:  “I don’t know.”

Man-child:  “You have to pick one.”

Me:  “Fine.  Dirk.”

Man-child:  “You’re right.”

Me:  “I usually am.”

Man-child:  “Sure you are, mom.”


Emily:  “Mom were you aware my brother has an Eminem song on his iPod?”

Me:  “Yeah, I gave him permission.”

Emily:  “Mom, it’s got explicit lyrics.”

Me:  “No, it said “E” for everyone.”

Silence in the car.

Emily:  “Mom, just no.  E is not for everyone.  It’s for Explicit.”

Me:  “What?  No?  Really?”

Emily:  “OMG mom, I’m putting this on FaceBook.”

For the record, all these ratings should be the same!  Video games, movies and music!


Still In The Car…

Man-child:  “So, mom?”

Me:  “Yes?”

Man-child:  “Who would win between Tony Romo and Tom Brady?”

Me:  “I’m not answering that.”

Man-child:  “Why?”

Me:  “Romo just sucks but Brady is the anti-Christ, so lose-lose.”

Man-child:  “Wait, what?  What’s anti-Christ?”

Me:  “No one wins, they both lose.”

Man-child:  “They both can’t lose mom.”

Me:  Sighs

Man-child:  Sighs

Man-child:  “I’m a Seattle Seahawks fan now.”

Me: “What? No, you have to root for the home team.  You can’t be a fair weather fan.  It’s the Cowboys or Bust.”

Man-child:  “I don’t know what that means.  But I’m a Seahawks fan. I’ve decided.”

Me:  “You never even visited Seattle!  You like the Cowboys!”

Man-child:  “Ok, I like the Patriots.”

Me:  “Ok, you can like the Seahawks.”

Man-child:  “Thank you.”

Me:  Sigh


Man-child:  “Mom, why are those signs everywhere?”

Me:  “What signs?”

Man-child:  “The signs for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and lots of other people.”

Me:  “Oh, it’s an election year.  They are all people running for an office.  We get a new President this year.”

Man-child:  “Mom, if Donald Trump wins, we should move to Canada.”

Me:  “Has your dad been ranting again?”

Man-child:  “One problem.”

Me:  “What’s that?”

Man-child:  “I don’t speak Canadian.”

Me:  Sigh

Man-child:  “Mom is England in the United States?”

Me:  “What? No. Are you serious?”

Man-child:  “I want to be in the Geography Bee next year.”

Me:  “Yeah, you get right on that.”

Man-child:  “Wow, that doesn’t sound very supportive.”

Me:  Sigh

Man-child:  Sigh

Longest Car Ride EVER:

Man-child:  “So, mom?”

Me:  “What.”

Man-child:  “Who would win between Batman and Superman?”

Me:  “Superman.”

Man-child:  “No way mom.  Come on now.  I gave you an easy one this time.”

Me:  Sigh

Man-child:  shakes head


Man-child:  “What’s for dinner?”

Me:  “Chicken with pasta and a white sauce.  You’ll like it.”

(Chicken Tetrazzini, but if I say that, he’ll never eat it.  I am forced to break it down into things I know he likes)

Man-child:  “Of course I will.  I love your cooking.”

Me:  looks over sharply detecting sarcasm

Man-child:  looks innocent

Me:  “Mmmhmm.”

Man-child:  “What?  I do!”

Me:  “Sure you do.” oozing sarcasm

Man-child:  “Mom, are you bringing up the BBQ sauce incident again? You need to let that go.”

Me:  “Never.”

A week or so earlier, I fixed BBQ chicken thinking it was an easy victory.  He loves BBQ chicken!  He’s not eating his BBQ chicken.  Why isn’t he eating his BBQ chicken?!

Man-child:  “I don’t like BBQ.”

Me:  “SINCE WHEN?!?!”

Man-child:  “Well, I only like McDonald’s BBQ sauce.”


He’s killing me, this kid.


Our two oldest daughters moved out last summer and currently live together in an apartment.  They surprised us on Monday with news.  Apparently, I am now a grandma.  Of a furbaby. Which they adopted.

My response:  “You did what?!?  WHY!??!  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!”

My husbands response to me:  “Did you hear what they did!??! WHY!!?!?  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!??!”

Kids response:  “Why can’t you be supportive?”

unsupportive: the word your kids use when as parents you don’t agree with their choices

So this is me being “supportive,” taking my new grandchild to PetSmart to shop for treats and a collar.  She’s terrified of everything, but too big to carry around, she rides in a cart quite nicely though.  People took photos.  We’re probably internet famous.

Muttering under my breath:  “tell me I’m not supportive…”

She is very sweet.  But still…A DOG?!




Man-child:  “So, mom?”

Man-child:  “Mom?”

Man-child:  “Mom!?”

Me:  “WHAT?!?!?!”

Man-child:  “I love you.”

Me:  Sigh

Man-child:  giggles


Family Birthday Dinner photo: Something is a little off…



Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:














WWE Smackdown

Use Your Words

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.  

I’m using:  karma ~ sort out ~ direction ~ packed ~ shooting star ~ magnificent

They were submitted by:  http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/  (Confessions of a part time working mom)

My son and I have some of our best conversations in the car.  He knows I can’t walk away or leave the room, I’m at his mercy.  I’m forced dragged invited to participate in conversations about comic book characters, video games, Star Wars, basketball, soccer and most recently, wrestling.  In fairness, he never wants to discuss the latest book I read or the new workout clothes I bought or listen to my most recent workout rant.

“Mom?” man-child

“Mom!?” man-child

“hmm?”  me

“Okay, so I have a question?” man-child

With a sigh, I turn down the radio.

“Mom?” man-child

“Yes, honey?  What’s your question?” me

“Okay, so who do you think would win in a battle between John Cena and Mark Henry?” man-child

“Who is John Cena and Mark Henry?” me

“Mom!  John Cena?!  He has bigger muscles than dad!  He can pick up 400 pound men and throw them down!” man-child

John Cena…John Cena…oh oh oh, a thought and a certain image has occurred to me!

“Oh, the guy from Trainwreck” me

Now I’m reliving that awkward sex scene from the movie.

“No, he wasn’t in a train wreck.  Tell me John Cena wasn’t in a train wreck!”  man-child painfully grips my arm in alarm.

“No no no, it’s a movie called Trainwreck, he was in that movie I think” me

“Oh, I need to see this movie.” man-child

“No, you can’t watch that movie.” me

“Why not?” man-child

“It’s not appropriate for you.” me

“You let me watch inappropriate movies all the time.” man-child

“No we don’t.” me

I quickly look to the sky.  Whew, not a cloud in sight.

“Yes you do!  I’m just not allowed to talk about it, remember.” man-child

“What? No, we don’t let you watch rated R movies! Do you tell people we let you watch Rated R movies?!” me

“Pretty sure you have mom.” man-child

“Umm no.  We haven’t. Name one?” me

“Mom, that movie Dad was watching that he thought was PG-13 but really it was R.  Mmm-hmm, now what mom? And I’m not even sure I should be watching PG-13, I’m only 9, but I’m not complaining” man-child

“You’re giving me a headache.  I don’t remember any such movie. And you’re almost 10. PG-13 means “parental discretion”, Star Wars was PG-13, are you saying we shouldn’t have taken you?” me

“Relax mom, I’m not saying that and yes you do remember. But anyway, you didn’t answer my question?” man-child

“Are you telling people you watch inappropriate movies?” me (totally casual-like, not panicked at all)

“Don’t worry mom, your secret is safe. Now answer my question.” man-child

“There is no secret.  We don’t let you watch inappropriate movies.” me, exasperated

“Ok, mom, whatever you say…now John Cena and Mark Henry…?” man-child, exasperated

We spent 20 minutes discussing the merits of John Cena and his magnificent muscles.  We don’t let him watch Rated R movies, he says this stuff to wind me up.  Our girls complain that we aren’t nearly as strict with him as we were with them and it’s true.  I can’t deny this.  I explain that we’re old and tired now, that they have ruined us.  At which point, they roll their eyes and sigh and man-child giggles.

So man-child is obsessed with all things wrestling…this week.  The other night he came home from Tae Kwon Do very upset.  I asked him what was wrong, and he mumbled something under his breath and proceeded to lock himself in the bathroom.  Husband now enters the room looking chagrined.

“What did you do?” me

“What makes you think I did anything?” husband

*eyebrow lift*

“Ok well…I might have done something.” husband

Apparently, man-child asked my husband if “wrestling was real?”  I imagine man-child got into a heated debate with someone at school about the validity of wrestling.  His hero, John Cena, was being maligned and he needed answers!  Enter Dad.  Daddy would sort out this mess and make it right!  He would restore John Cena’s good name and defend his honor. Or not.  The conversation did not take the direction man-child thought it would, clearly.  

“He asked me if wrestling was real.” husband

“And you said…?” me

“I said no, it isn’t real.  I explained it’s a performance of sorts. Then I looked up in the rearview mirror and saw that my response had confused and upset him.  Don’t look at me like that, I tried to fix it!  I told him that they were real athletes, and that parts of wrestling were real but that it was a theatrical performance, like fight scenes in movies.  What?!? Stop looking at me like that” husband

“I think you’re just jealous of his man-crush on John Cena.” me

“Don’t be ridiculous.” husband

“You’ve never told him Santa isn’t real.  Is it because Santa is fat?” me

“Really?” husband (shaking his head)

“I’m just sayin’…  Your wrestling name could be Dreamcrusher” me (lol’ing my own jokes)


Maybe it’s too soon for jokes.

“You should go talk to him.” me

“What do I say?” husband

“I don’t know, I’ve never crushed a child’s dreams before.  What?  Too soon? Sorry.  Look, you didn’t know.  He’ll be fine.  Eventually.  Hopefully.  After therapy, most likely.  You have to say something, your karma points are sliding fast.” me

Husband sighs.  Poor guy.

Husband did try to go talk to him again, telling him about the Von Erich brothers and how much he admired them when he was growing up, praising the athleticism of wrestlers, John Cena in particular.  Man-child listened quietly.  He didn’t say much.  It broke both our hearts to be honest.

Man-child still believes in the magic of Santa, the power of wishing on a shooting star, the whimsy of the tooth fairy, the wide-eyed wonder of the Easter Bunny.  He will be 10 next week, and he’s our baby.  His 3 sisters are much older, so I cling to these last vestiges of childhood.  I cherish his innocence and imagination, the spontaneous hugs and exclamations of love.  He always surprises us with the depth of his sentimentality.  I remember when his oldest sister moved out, and she left behind her dresser, which was bigger than the one in man-child’s bedroom.  He still had the same dresser from his nursery.  We thought he’d be excited to be getting a bigger more grown-up dresser, but on the day we packed up his old one, he cried.  He said, “But I’ve never known another dresser!”  

For us, it was a practical decision.  We assumed he wouldn’t care, that he’d be on board, but we had to sell him on it.  He eventually accepted the decision, and he likes his new dresser now, but the force of his emotions about his baby dresser still shocks and surprises me.  I just wanted to hold him in my arms forever and protect him from all life’s disappointments, both big and small.  The feelings invoked when your children are sad or upset and feeling the pains of growing up can be so visceral, so tangible you can almost taste it.  It’s one of the hardest things about being a parent.

Letting go.  

Watching them grow up, and knowing that you can’t protect them from everything.  I love what each new day with him brings to my life.  I feel this way about each of my children and couldn’t imagine my life without them.  I’m very blessed, humbled and thankful for all of them.  They changed my life forever and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

Man-child isn’t talking about wrestling much these days.  This isn’t unusual, it’s his 4th obsession this year alone and it’s only January 15th.  In fact, he came home from school yesterday and announced that he wants to be a software engineer.  It was my husband’s turn in the hot seat of parental mistakes or failures, it could very easily have been me, and probably will be next time.  As parents, my husband and I don’t always have the right answer or handle things the way we should, but we would do anything for our children.  I mean look at this face! ❤


Volunteering at S.O.U.L Church on a very cold morning

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:


http://bakinginatornado.com                                     Baking In A Tornado

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/              The Bergham Chronicles

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/                  Spatulas on Parade

http://www.renasworld.com/                               Rena’s World

http://dinoheromommy.com/                     Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com                Not That Sarah Michelle

http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch           Confessions of a part time working mom

http://www.southernbellecharm.com                        Southern Belle Charm

http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com                     Someone Else’s Genius

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/              The Angrivated Mom

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com                               Climaxed

http://mybrainonkids.net                                     My Brain on Kids