Humor

Many Happy Returns: Some Post Tax Day Humor and Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money

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Whew- so glad to be done with the taxes! Yep, that’s where I’ve been over
the past few days—glued to Turbo Tax and barely coming up for air. I HATE DOING TAXES because I always wait until the last minute. I used to do them all by myself, but I think Andy was tired of
driving to the post office at 11 p.m. on April 15 in a panic (but hey, the postal employees always made it so festive and welcoming and would be standing out there waving signs and holding baskets
and you could just drive up and throw in your envelope…) and so a couple years ago we started splitting the tax prep responsibility, so he does half and then hands the file over to me, usually in
February or March. But I’ve always got a million other pressing things to do that keep me from opening that file, and so there I sat on Tax Day, finishing up “under …

Appreciating Mommy

The Circle of Pride and Embarrassment

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While I generally have an “I don’t worry about what people think about me” attitude, it’s funny that when you have kids, you do care about how they “show” in public, in part because you feel like their actions are a reflection of your parenting skills. You wince when they’re young and throw tantrums in Target, pick their nose while walking down the aisle during a wedding ceremony or point a finger at a stranger in a parade and yell out something brutally honest (“That man is HUGE!!”). And you rejoice when they remember to say “Thank you” to Grandma, sing a song perfectly at a recital or run to greet you in front of school with a big hug. I hope I never forget the time when Emmie and I were sitting in a bookstore coffee shop– I was looking through a stack of cookbooks and she was engrossed in one of her Rick Riordan novels, when all of a sudden she looked at me and my books and said, “I am so glad I have a Mom that cooks, and plans out all of our meals, because a lot of people don’t do that very much anymore.” Yes, I about fell off my chair at that sign of appreciation, and yes, the elderly couple walking past our table right at that moment almost dropped their lattes in astonishment, then offered some words of praise to both Emmie and me. It was a proud moment and I think it made that elderly couple happy, too…

Being a Better Parent

Helping Kids Study for Tests: Just Do What You’re Told and No One Gets Hurt

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I did something last night I’ve never done before– I helped two teenagers study for semester
final exams, at the same time. See, this is the first time for Emmie to have an exam week like this, and we discovered yesterday that today, she and her sister both have
finals in similar subjects– for Emmie, Texas History, and for Allison, U.S. History. So last night, I asked them if they needed anyone to quiz them on definitions or dates or anything. “We can
sit in a circle and I can fire off questions to each of you, and when it’s not your turn, you can figure out if you know the answer, too, or just listen.” Surprisingly, they were
enthusiastic about this, and so we sat in the living room, dogs and all. To my left, I’d fire off questions about early Texas Indian culture to Emmie …

Celebrating Holidays

A Thanksgiving Full of Turkeys

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Whenever I used to be on the verge of making a decision that Andy didn’t think was a good idea, to try to
remind me of a past bad “I told you so” decision, he would say two words– “Bill Hicks”. That was in reference to a time when I played a comedy album (on cassette) of that late profane
comedian for my parents, who were visiting from out of town. “I wouldn’t do that,” he warned. “It’s pretty blue.” I insisted on playing it anyway, telling him I’d play side one only, that
the stuff he was thinking about was on side two.”I think you’re wrong,” he warned again.He was right. It was more than blue, and my face was more than red to be listening to it in my
parents’ presence. But now I finally have two simple words that …

Humor

The Last Official Day of Being a Kid

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Announced the other day by Emmie, the day before her 13th birthday: “Today is my last official day of
being a kid…that’s kind of sad.” I could have said something sage about how “13 is just a number” or “everyone should honor their ‘inner child’ no matter how old they get”, but I didn’t…I
didn’t want to minimize the wiseness of her observation, because it’s true in a way. Plus, the whole concept of a “last official day of being a kid” intrigued me… I thought back to what
I might have been doing on mine…was I dreading another awkward day of 7th grade? (Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I pulled up a ’74 calendar. The day before my
13th birthday was a weekday, a Friday.)  Was I lugging my snare drum case down the long flight of stairs to the jr. high band hall, trying not …

Appreciating Mommy

Another Dream Retreat for Parents?

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Just the other day, when Emmie was balking at cleaning her bedroom, I reminded her how lucky she
is that she has her own room, a space she can call her own. We talked about how not all kids have their own rooms, and how parents definitely don’t (unless maybe if they have a home office with
LOCKING doors…I wish, I wish…). The average parent usually has to share everything, with either their spouse or the rest of the family– their bed, their bedroom, living spaces…even a
“master bathroom” can have kids marching in and out at all hours of the night. And when they get to work, well, the average parent who works outside the home still doesn’t have their own
room/office. And of those that do, only a small number have one with a door. That shuts and …

Humor

Button, Button, Who Wears “The Button”?

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Recently we officially became a “two-button” family– i.e. both of the kids are now in extracurricular activities which generate photo buttons
of their faces, for parents/grandparents to wear when attending those activities. The Mom version is usually blinged out with colorful ribbons, beads and plastic charms surrounding it and/or
hanging off the bottom; the Dad version is usually “just the photo”, to be more manly of course, so they’re more likely to wear it. But, sadly, my husband Andy is currently a no-button man
living in a two-button world.

I understand his reasons completely, mainly not wanting to buy into every “parent pride” merchandising opportunity that comes along, like yard signs (got ’em), expensive ads in printed programs
(“You go girl!! We love you SOOOOOO much!!”) and personalized car decals (got those, too, although Allison is still too embarrassed by our vehicles to allow us to …

Humor

Just Chequing Things Out…

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I’m out of checks (or as you Brits spell it, cheques). Yes, I ignored the “TIME TO
REORDER” warning sheet at the top of the very last bunch and here I am, nary a check in sight. I keep writing “Order Checks!!!” on my To Do lists and it’s not getting done—but I better do it now
because I’m tired of going to the bank for cash, and hubby has started having to write a few from his own account—and I know he might have heart trouble if he sees just how many checks have to be
written from the joint account each week.

And so, since I’m one of the “lucky” ones whose bank lets them order any kind of color and style and design they’d like, I
thought this time I would finally chose something “different”. I mean, writing checks is boring and never-ending, …

Humor

Musings on “Meet the Teacher”

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Around here, late August not only
means The First Day of School but also very soon after, “Meet the Teacher” night. Growing up, I remember we had “Open House” in the middle of the semester, so we could show off our work to
our parents and introduce our teachers (if they hadn’t already met them by then) but I don’t ever recall anything like this:  About a week or even a few days after school starts, parents of
elementary and secondary students get to “walk their child’s schedule”, without the child present, visiting each classroom via a “special bell schedule” and sitting
in class while hearing a brief presentation from the teacher. Each presentation takes only about 10-12 minutes, and you have five minutes between them, so you may or may not get to personally meet
the teacher on Meet the Teacher night …

Humor

Sunday Scrapbook: If My Life Were An Ikea Store

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I love Ikea. For those of you who don’t have an Ikea nearby, it’s basically a Swedish-based home furnishings and decor store (with a few
cinnamon rolls thrown in) that gives you the ability to have very modern design at very affordable prices (we’re talking lower than a K-Mart blue light special). It’s a leader in
environmentally-friendly business practices and has been named one of the top 100 companies to work for by Fortune. Our huge area store feels like it’s having a grand opening all
the time even though it’s been open for six years– still filled with customers, still long lines to check out. But in spite of all its sleek, inexpensive stuff, don’t the
Swedish titles for everything sometimes bug you? I mean, at Ikea, it’s not a laundry hamper, it’s “Peva”.A measuring cup is “Fläckig”; bathroom mirrors, …