November 15, 2016

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Soooo…it’s been quite a week. Anybody else make the mistake of taking their daughter voting last week? “Nevermind! Turns out the country is a lot more sexist that we thought.” Whew! Glad I’m not the only one who screwed that up.

My 9 year-old cried bewildered tears Wednesday. This was a very black and white issue for her, and she is a sensitive soul. Naturally, I felt like crap for having exposed her to needless sadness. I just really, really thought she would value being able to tell her kids that she was there, for this important day. She pushed the button. Yes, I’m that idealistic. Wednesday morning we explained that, though it seems like people liked the bully more than the smart girl, there are many other things going on, and she was safe. I wish every mom could have been able to say that, Wednesday morning.

Policy, anti-establishment sentiment, those damn emails – these were all cited as justifications to vote for Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the multitudes cared more about those justifications than about saying “NO” to racism, sexism and a whole host of other crap we shouldn’t allow out of basic human decency. The prevalence of that mindset was not something I could previously conceive of in my NPR-listening, blue state-living, white, middle-class, privileged bubble. I didn’t realize that so many people actually thought policy was more important than people. Holy crap, America.

Thinking as a parent, since this is a parenting blog (most of the time), I’m offering the following: No, Clinton was not an ideal candidate with an ideal track record. There are NONE OF THOSE. They don’t exist. Ok, maybe Justin Trudeau. #dreamy The problem is that in this election we have journeyed past politics. We are now disassembling basic morality for our children. Think about what we teach kids: You treat people the way you want to be treated. You take care of people. You welcome new friends. Your body is yours alone, it is a good thing, and it should be respected. How about the one preschool teachers keep on repeat, all day: “Keep your hands to yourself!” Dear Donald, “grabbing” means you are doing it wrong. 

Not to mention the tired old slogan, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” *sigh* Hang on, girls. Change comes slow, but it does come. Look at where we started.

Speaking of girls, as Clinton was on Wednesday: “And — and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Forget the sadness that we have to state that at all. “Valuable” is my favorite word, here. I’m still more of a believer in the social commentary and symbolism of this election than in specifically electing Hillary Clinton – remember, I just wanted a girl to win, for once. I just thought this was immensely cool to hear. They knew, she knew, that little girls had serious stock in this election. And she asked them to hang on, too.

You know what else was cool? A friend of a friend of mine made a beautiful design of the above quote, and posted it on Facebook. I shared it, and the designer was kind enough to send me the high resolution version. I grabbed a frame, and this actually cheered my kid up. She moved a My Little Pony art project off the wall to make room for this! This was important stuff!!

Thank you to for this lovely print. You do good work, girl!

Moving forward, I’m choosing to be hopeful and expect the best from people, including President-Elect Trump and his future cabinet appointees. I’m going to repeat the closing of my previous post. I’m praying it’s still true, though now it refers to a different “someone”. We’ve done enough of tearing people down. It’s my fervent hope as a mom and teacher that tomorrow our nation will raise up someone who will makes it their job to raise up others.

Also, I’m posting a link to a wonderful article containing the names of non-profits. If you liked this post, chances are you will find one whose ideals you agree with. If you’re feeling powerless in the wake of last week, and looking for something to do to feel more empowered, donating to any of these amazing charities is a great way to feel like you, too, are valuable.

Click here for the list of charities. Thank you.


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Alice and Sexy Cheeseburger

October 17, 2016

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This ad just makes me sad. I can’t find it on Youtube, but ispot has it up here.  I’ll break it down for you. (Sorry about the play buttons in the middle up of the photos – I screen-capped the video.) Don’t mind me including my own voice-over.

“OMG, aren’t we totes adorbs as Sexy Queen of Hearts, Sexy Mad Hatter and Sexy…Jenny, what are you, a Red Riding Hood/Wolf hybrid? Whatevs, we’re cute.”


“OMG WHAT is that Alice chick wearing? She looks… Like she works… At the deli.”
“OMG u guys we can NOT let her trick or treat with us, she is blowing our whole “Sexy Literary Character” vibe.”
“OMG she’s transforming! Is that the new Bright Idea Illuminating Stick from NYX Cosmetics?”
“OMG! That satin bustier = totes adorbs!”


“OMG u guys, we r🔥!”

Yes, these are (very young) adults and not teenage girls. However, teens are going to see this ad and assume it’s for them. They just are. Just like when we started reading Seventeen magazine at 13. Or was I the only one sneaking peeks at that at the dentist’s office?

Yes, this is a commercial for a costume store. Of course they’re going to show homemade costumes in an unfavorable light. They want you to plunk down $40 for an Alice in Sluttyland outfit, not make it at home!

Yes, Sexy Witch, Sexy Cop, and Sexy Pirate are your results when Googling Women’s costumes. Actually, I Googled “top women’s costumes” and got Sexy Cleopatra, Sexy Oktoberfest Girl, and – no lie – Sexy Freddy Krueger.

But: I do not like this ad, Party City. Besides perpetuating the Sexy Halloween epidemic, it’s just mean. I want to hug poor Alice. She does not deserve ostracization just because of a half-assed outfit. Actually, let me rephrase that: She does not deserve ostracization JUST BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT HAVE HALF HER ASS HANGING OUT. This makes me sad. It also makes me really, really proud that my daughters are going as Hermione Granger and a werewolf.  However, the sexy costumes are here to stay. So, in the spirit of embracing modern Halloween…

Submitted for your approval: My favorite “Sexy Halloween Costumes That Didn’t Need to Be Sexified”.  I will take votes as to which one I should buy and wear while I walk my kids around in suburbia.

“Sexy Deviled Eggs”


‘Sexy Cheeseburger”


“Sexy Dorothy Fish from Elmo’s World”


“Sexy Yoda”


“Sexy Olaf”

And, sorry, but you can’t un-see this one…

“Sexy Donald Trump”

I’ll take your votes in the comments.

Also, if your kid is going as something you’re particularly proud of this year, share it here! 

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12 Things I Want My Daughters To Know

October 2, 2016

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  1. Your intelligence should be ever-expanded with quality books, education, and conversation. Don’t stop seeking them out.
  2. I really don’t care if you don’t take a jacket. You’re not going to die of exposure in New Jersey. Just don’t be the girl who doesn’t take a jacket and then whines about the cold. She’s annoying.
  3. Focus on what you want your life to look like, not your body. Your body is a freakin’ beautiful miracle. Go do cool things without worrying how you look.
  4. If you stop laughing about stuff I’m pretty sure you die of boredom. So there’s that.
  5. Four hours into a night out, you probably won’t care what shoes you wore. But, you will care if you can’t walk. Or dance. Choose the shoes carefully.
  6. You’re both smart girls, but kindness is your highest goal. I care much more that you would invite the loner kid to sit with you at lunch than I do about you getting into the “right” college.
  7. There is no “right” anything, while we’re on that subject – not clothes, friends, college, house, career, nadda. There is only what’s right for your situation. But, Mom and Dad get to help you with that situation, so NO, you’re not wearing that skirt.
  8. To quote the internet, “Life is too short for fake butter, cheese, or people”. Steer clear of all three. Actually Cheese Whiz definitely has its place…
  9. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try it, and think long and hard before you quit. This does not apply to certain controlled substances.
  10. Make-up can be washed off. Haircuts will grow out. Tattoos are forever. Just saying.
  11. If someone does something that hurts you, try to understand them. It doesn’t make them right, but you’ll probably find that their actions aren’t about you in the first place.
  12. Your dad and I always, always love you.
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Now Hear This: Misfit Country

December 20, 2015

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Are you a total sucker for inspirational songs? It’s ok, you can admit it later.

I’m also an irrational disliker  of modern country music. I’ve tried, I swear. Please comment with a country song that will change my mind. I dare you. 

Through the wonders of my Discover Weekly list on Spotify, I’ve recently played to death enjoyed three psudo-country songs that share a beautiful common thread: Not fitting in. Whether they were judged and found wanting, or are just not measuring up to societal standards, these are musical offerings staring folks who don’t give a rip if you like them or not. And they’re country-ish at the least. BOOM. Horizons expanded.

Give a listen!

Elle King’s “America’s Sweetheart”

This is the 7th track off Elle’s Feb. 2015 album Love Stuff. Despite a handful of kind of cliched phrases in the verse, this is raucous anthem for girls who don’t feel the need to behave like perfect ladies. I also dig this because I, too, amfunny when I’m drunk (I think), and, unrelated, just aquired a stupid tiny chip in my front tooth. You just want to do a shot of whiskey and sing along with Elle here.

I also adore “Ex’s and Oh’s” from this album. Good stuff, Love Stuff.

Kacey Musgraves “Cup of Tea”

This is just a sweet little song that coos at you not to fear the blotches on your permanent record. The variety of sins and shortcomings listed are relateable but and entertaining. She reminds us that “We’ve all got the right to be wrong.” in a way that grants anyone permission to have hope, even if they’ve screwed up. Hey, I’ve screwed up! Sweet! “You can’t be be everybody’s up of tea”. Musgraves shakes off any judgement at the her final lyric, asking “Why would you wanna be?”

Her video for her song “Biscuits” is freakin’ infections and involves a puppet, in case you were wondering.

Josh Ritter’s “Getting Ready to Get Down”

This catchy song addresses some narrow-minded Christians forgetting that they know no more than anyone else, failing to leave the judging to God, and screwing with young people’s heads. It’s a little bit in the vein of Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young”. The girl to whom Josh is singing is sent away to bible college because she’s not fitting in with her town’s conservative ideals. Instead of coming around to their ways, she ends up absorbing all the acceptance and love messages in the Good Book, and none of the “Thou Shalt Not”s. Although I don’t presume to know Ritter’s feelings on certain major social issues of today, his lyric “Give your love freely to whomever that you please” hints at it nicely.

Plus, there is an official LINE DANCE to this song, people.

As you get quickly older and slowly wiser, you learn that whether some people like you has very little do with YOU. Thankfully there are pleasant songs like these to remind us. For instance, I have clearly judged country music unfairly. I’m sorry. There was all that association with confederate flags on the back of pick-up trucks.  However, Hubby has already requested I put in earbuds while working on this post.

Convince me that it’s not all honky-tonk bars and cowboy boots. What is your favorite “country” song?

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War on Thanksgiving?

November 24, 2015

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We have RULES in this family, dammit. There are certain expectations for all of us. We must uphold our values, no matter how societal pressures influence us. These restrictions are hard and fast and non-negotiable.

thanksgiving2 (1)
I am exaggerating. A little. But a certain sisterly person of mine…she better watch.

You can do whatever you like in your own house, of course. And if I don’t like a store’s policy of putting out Christmas decor or playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I don’t need to shop there. Oh wait, it’s Target and Walmart mostly, so yes, I do. But anyway. If it makes people happy, who am I to want them to delay their happiness?

However, I want to get up on my non-tinseled soapbox and explain why there is no Christmas music or decorations in my house before the turkey has had his due.

  • Because I love Christmas. I love it so very much, and I don’t want it to lose its meaning or specialness by stretching it out earlier and thinner.
  • I have an almost spiritual relationship with Christmas music (said the corniest dork in the world) and I don’t want to hate it because I hear it too much. Please. Occupational hazard: We music teachers start our Christmas concert rehearsals in September. Ugh.
  • It’s not “the most wonderful time of the year” if it’s like 1/4 of the calendar.
  • The pushing-it-earlier thing really seems to be mostly about consumerism. You can see this in the big controversy of whether stores should be open for Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving. I vote “no”, but with gratitude for anyone who is there for me to buy Tums or cooking supplies I forgot to get the day before. Love you. Hope you get off early. 
  • The giving part of Christmas isn’t emphasized in the earliness much, it seems. I’ve seen lots of ads for flat screens and toys, but not one Salvation Army bell ringer person yet. We have taken gift suggestions off the giving tree at work, though.
  • Remember the “War on Christmas”? I also embrace it as a cultural holiday that doesn’t need to have anything to do with religion, if you want to tar and feather me for that while we’re here. Shouldn’t we be outraged about a lack of (Christian, or whatever) gratitude?


  • My BIG (hippie, buzz-kill, left-wing, Scrooge) reason: This is very “Ugly American” to me. We are sweeping under the rug the holiday in which we celebrate the cooperation with and gratitude towards the native people who made it possible for European settlers to, oh, I don’t know, not DIE, and the only holiday for pausing to recognize that we are SO. DAMN. LUCKY to be alive and well. We should push for more GIVING in the “Thanksgiving”, too. I’m working on that in my own home this year, slowly but surely, I swear.

All of that is some important S#*T!  That is not Christmas Part 1!! I go on little rants about this to my own children and they stare blankly and think I’m weird. 


In your own home, you should do what you want. I will roll my eyes when I drive by your tree-filled window, and you can roll your eyes at this post. Whatevs. Nobody is over here telling me when to do stuff. Except the smoke alarms. The fire department is pretty keen on us checking those every time we celebrate Daylight Savings. 

Christmas is awesome. There are traditions and parties and special moments that are like yearly spiritual renewing in our busy lives. It’s a connection to our childhood and a stepping stone into the future as we build traditions with our kids that they will remember just as fondly.

But we owe it to the universe to emphasize the importance of truly counting our blessings first. That’s all.


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Why I Don’t Miss Church, But Also Really Do

July 3, 2015

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We don’t go to church anymore.

Let me attempt to explain the morality, silliness, and probable hypocrisy of our decision to stop being “church people”, as if I am solidly decided about any of it.

Background: We were very churchy people a few years ago. Hubby ran groups at the same Presbyterian church he’d gone to since high school. (He’d been pulled in by the music program there.) We had the girls baptized there. We felt very welcome and safe with our kids there, trusting the nice people around to keep half an eye on them, if we were in conversation or performing with the music department. Our kids’ first social interactions were in the church nursery. We were practically God-cheerleaders, running music for vacation bible school. I did the (I’m sorry, deadly dull and not particularly meaningful) membership classes. We met friends there.

Then one day Hubby gave them plenty of notice one day that he would no longer be running the programs that he’d run, so they could get replacements, and suddenly we were free on Sunday mornings. (I am an earlier church drop-out than Hubby, having stopped going most Sundays in favor of using that time to clean and/or spend time with my kids. I could do neither of those at church.)

Here are my reasons, and why they’re not quite right:

Reason: “Does God really send people to Hell?” “Can men marry men or can women marry women?”  “Were men really made first?” Oh, I should mention we’re liberals, and there is no way in Hell that ‘man is made like God and woman is a side project’ crap is being preached as truth to my daughters. Our big kid started to ask questions and understand the answers, and we weren’t sure we would like what she’d hear if she asked them of a church leader or Sunday School teacher.  I visited my grandmother’s church once and was told that TV was a tool of the devil and I was going to Hell if I watched Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles again. I was 8.  

But: There were some great people there. I honestly have no idea what they would have really said to my kid. A couple of them, Sunday School teachers – I could guess.




I feel like this is such a ‘duh’ issue, but I know it’s still coming about for half the country. We knew people who weren’t comfortable letting church friends know some pretty important things about them, for fear of judgement. The official view of the Presbyterian church may be acceptance, but we strongly doubted that ran throughout that particular church. A lot of that had to do with the general age of the congregation; civil rights for the LGBT community is really an age issue. More about that later.

But: The Presbyterian church of the USA (general governing body) voted to allow ordination of pastors regardless of sexual orientation in 2010 and voted to allow marriages in 2014. (Very late to the party, guys! But better late than never. We were already gone at this point, though.)  I don’t know for sure how individual people would handle this at any church, I shouldn’t presume to know.

Reason: We felt pulled in many directions, with work and family. I didn’t want another commitment. I also wanted more time with my kids. Yes, I joke about sending their butts outside constantly for “Don’t Bother Mommy” time. But on weekends, I didn’t want to be shipping them off to a nursery while I sat, not really interacting with my husband, in a church service.

But: I realize how selfish this sounds – Oh, I know how I sound . This cut a generally positive social situation from my kids’ lives. This is why I finally agreed to sign them up for soccer. I miss the social-ness of church too. We met some really great people who we would totally still hang out with, if not for feeling very awkward about leaving. Having places to go and people to see is a good thing in my book, usually!


We did try going to several other churches. For a about a year, we were “church shopping”, mainly Episcopal and a couple Lutheran. You get wooed really hard, when you walk into a new church with your little kids in cute dresses. The cookies come out very quickly. We spent six months going to one church that was great as far as the concerns I listed above, but had so few children that some days nobody would show up to teach Sunday School. And eventually stopped going there too, and relished the quiet Sunday mornings with nowhere to go and time to sit around, drink coffee and juice, and play and talk with each other.

I really miss the music of church services. Music and God just go together. I got most of my musical experience at the Lutheran church where I grew up. Some quality music education reached me there, and well as some good friends. It’s for this reason that I feel like my kids are (going to be) missing out, and I should probably do something about that.

You’ll notice I said nothing about actual theological beliefs. Or God. Every one of us could write a giant essay about whether they believe in God (I do, kinda) whether they pray (I do, kinda), and whether they are down with that whole no-wearing-two-different-cloths thing. (Really, Deuteronomy?)

I said something about this vaguely back at Christmas, but I’m basically not presuming I know anything, other than the fact that we should be as good as possible to each other and to trust that everything is going to be ok in the long run. I feel like that didn’t change for me, while going from one church to another, to going to no church. I’m good.

Would we go back again? Sure. If we found the right place for us. But we’re in no hurry, and we don’t think it’s bad that we’re choosing not to go at all, at this point. I would really love to hear some thoughts on church, choosing one, or your thoughts on religion and social issues, including the above. Please comment! If it’s too personal, use the contact info on the left sidebar over there, or message me. Ha! Look at me pretending people read this who don’t have my cell # or fb contact info. Hilarious!

But seriously, I’d love to hear your ideas.

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Advice, Gosh Darn It

April 22, 2015

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Last week at an indoor water park, I lost the giant black mumu very stylish cover-up that I had just purchased. I put the cover-up down on a railing, went to do something with my younger kid, came back, and it was GONE. *horror*. My flip flops were still there. This was not acceptable. I was now essentially walking around naked, as far as the self-conscious chick in my head was concerned. I will find you, and I will kill you, mumu thief.  I can act like I’m all cool and comfortable, but no matter what witty banter (ha) is coming out of my mouth at a pool-related gathering, my brain is going “Don’t look at my thighs. Don’t look at my arms. AHHHHH stop looking at meeeeeee!” *die*

My husband tells me that I have the worst self-esteem he’s ever seen. And not just about body image. The funny part is that most people think I’m pretty confident. (No, friend. No. It’s all in how you fake it.) Wait that sounded wrong…

Crap. Do you still like me?



I would advise my girls to love and value themselves, no matter what.

Cheeeeeezzzzy. But really: If you’ve got that down, you’ve got a lot. And you wouldn’t have to go out the next day and replace a giant black mumu.

Kids are not born comparing their bodies to perfection and finding them ugly. While I would like my kids to pull up their pants because nobody wants to see their impression of a plumber, I don’t want them thinking their body shouldn’t be seen in the daylight. I want them to enjoy the pool.  I shouldn’t feel that way either. Girls, you’re all kinds of beautiful.

It goes beyond body image, too. If a kid that my daughter approaches at the playground walks away from her, I want her to know that it’s not because there’s something wrong with her; he just didn’t want to play right then. He probably just doesn’t want to play Mario-meets-My Little Pony-meets-Monster High. And neither do I. Girls, you are good to be around and people like you.

If somebody doesn’t text them back or return their call or pick up their Facetime chat (or God knows what technology is being used by the time I consent to buying them a phone) I want them to understand that it probably isn’t because they’re not important enough to that person. That person is probably busy right now, and wrapped up in their own stuff, unrelated to how much they like them. Girls, you’re enough, and you’re valued.

I want to advise them to take a defeat as a challenge to work harder and a rejection as a sign, not that they weren’t worthy, but that there is something better out there. It’s not that you’re ugly, fat, dumb, boring, unimportant, un-valued, or whatever else that negative biotch in your head tells you. Girls, if you wake up every day being able to tell yourself that the world is a better place because you’re in it, then you won’t need anybody’s attention or affirmation, and that is freedom. Girls, I’ll let you know when Mommy gets there. It’s something we’re all working on. 

There is a lot of “BAD” that can happen to a kid, as he or she grows. But a kid who has a healthy amount of self-worth will hopefully duck and weave when those poor choices come at them swinging. Personally I think I did ok, if I say so myself, and I was (am) a secret self-doubter, always.

So if I had to pick one piece of advice to give my children, that would be it.

Yes, this is basically Stuart Smalley. What? That was a very good era for SNL…



If you could give your kids one piece of advice, what would it be? No really, I’m curious, and I bet it’s pretty cool advice. Some smart people read this blog…

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Leave my 2nd grader alone, Arne Duncan

October 30, 2014

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This quote and stunning portrait of Secretary Duncan popped up on social media last week. It’s from his speech during a 2009 visit to a Brooklyn elementary school. It is, of course, taken out of context here.  But that just means it’ll fit right in with every other quote on the internet, ever. Here’s a post about Mr. Duncan addressing the “educational crisis” in this speech.

He seems to be claiming that you can tell where kids will end up, higher education-wise, because of how they’re testing in second grade. Reading this on a friend’s wall, I actually said aloud,  “You leave my second grader ALONE, Arne!”  Yes, that’s a tad dramatic, but Arne is a fun name to say aloud.

Though well-meaning, this is some serious oversimplification, and rhetoric to sell the need to test small children.  I teach K-5 and let me tell you: By second grade, a couple of them haven’t even really mastered holding a #2 pencil yet, let alone having one help decide their future.  In second grade, they’re about 8 years old. Meaning that every bit of their little life has occurred in a shorter time than Seinfeld was on the air. Just let that sink in.

No, Arne, we should not.  I mean, I can totally pick out the future trophy wives by the time they’re leaving 5th grade, but that’s as cynical as I’ll allow myself to get as a teacher.

Read More…

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