Appreciating Mommy, Humor, Raising Teenagers

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…

Blog Nuts 'n Bolts


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Time for a few updates, for all of you Uncool Mom readers who are dying to know the answers to such burning
questions as: Did my now-17-year-old ever get her driver’s license? Did she ever get a job? How is the exchange student doing now that she’s gone back to France? What was the outcome of the CBS
DFW Most Valuable Blogger contest? Read on to find out the answers, and other things I promised to “keep you posted” about in 2011:

The Diet— In August, I posted
spending the summer doing the Atkins Diet with Allison and how we were both having success with it. She stuck with it until
about a month after school started (it’s a really hard diet for a carb-loving teenager to do, especially when everyone around them is eating chips and pizza). I’m still at it, …


Two Family Movies Worth Watching (Again)

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I cried a bunch yesterday. When the doctor finally came in to see us after two hours of waiting
at Primacare (a walk-in clinic) and saw the tears rolling down my cheeks, he probably thought I was worried about Emmie (she has bronchitis)… or that I was fed up with having to wait so long
with a bunch of sick people ON THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. But Primacare was showing The Rookie on their in-clinic movie system– why wouldn’t everyone cry at that?

It was the second time I’ve seen it. But I think I cried not only because it’s a great, true story about second chances, it’s also a really well-made movie, and well-made movies are hard to come
by– great soundtrack (tunes by Steve Earle, Willlie Nelson, John Hiatt, and Ryan Adams, among others); great acting (Dennis Quaid in the lead role of Jimmy Morris); …

Celebrating Holidays, Humor

Who Spiked the Punctuation? Why Most Holiday Cards Need A Ride Home From The Party

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Okay, okay, I know…who am I to criticize holiday cards when I haven’t sent any out in…
hmmm…a couple years? But I’ve been wanting to say something about them for a long time. No, not about how good friends I haven’t seen in ages expect me to read the long letters they’ve composed
but don’t even bother to personalize it by signing their name at the bottom, let alone write me one or two lines. And no, not about how some families spend tons of money and time on getting that
perfect holiday card portrait taken by a professional photographer when sadly most of those gorgeous cards just end up in the trash…but my biggest beef with holiday cards is with the use of the
apostrophe. Or, I should say, misuse. I know most adults have long forgotten many punctuation and grammar rules they learned in school, but I think most remember …

Being a Better Parent, Humor

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, Random Thoughts

Jim Bob, John-Boy, and Me

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If you’re familiar with The Duggars of Arkansas, the family with “19 kids and counting”, you may have looked at them like they’re crazy. I know I
have. Packing up the family for a road trip must not be too easy, y’ know? And cooking for that many must take all day. But…I bet their holidays are a blast…

For some reason this holiday season, I’m feeling “big family envy” more than ever. Maybe it’s because it’s the first year my mom, who is 87 and lives 13 hours away, is choosing not to spend
Christmas with us or any of her children. (“I’m 87 years old,” she said, “and I don’t want to travel in winter weather, and I don’t want to worry about anyone else traveling to see me.”)  Maybe
I’m missing Cleo, our French exchange student who lived with us from August 2010 to June 2011. Last Christmas was extra special with her here. Or …

Being a Better Parent

Too Many Wimps, Not Enough Warriors

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Sometimes it takes awhile to get inspired to write a post and sometimes a topic just keeps bugging me until I
do something about it. One that has been knocking on my door a lot lately is the topic of doing the right thing when you view an injustice or crime or something just plain wrong,
especially when it involves a child. Do you stop it from happening? Do you call police? If it involves bad parenting, do you say something to the parent? If you catch the child doing
wrong out of sight of the parent, do you let the parent know later? What do we teach our children about “doing the right thing” and how do we act ourselves?

Of course, the highly publicized Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case brings up some of those questions. After assistant football coach Mike McQueary witnessed Sandusky allegedly committing child
sexual …

Celebrating Holidays, Humor

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 …

Being a Better Parent, Great Parenting Tools

The Unbearable Lateness of Being: Breaking the Tardy Habit

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I’ll never forget it. I was in first grade, and it was the last day of school. My teacher, Mrs. Cook, was wrapping things up for the day and passing out things for us to take home, like art projects, old papers, etc. “I’m going to pass out the attendance cards for you to take home to your parents,” she announced. “Some of you have no tardies, and some of you have a few. SOMEbody in here has been late in arriving to class TWENTY-ONE times! Can you believe it?” We all dropped our jaws. We couldn’t imagine who that was. After the white, 3 x 5 cards were distributed, I looked at mine. In the blank next to the word “Tardies” was a penciled “21”.

Humor, Raising Girls, Raising Teenagers

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 …