Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

Blogging Buddies Can Be the Real Deal

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Have you popped over to check out the Ladies’ Home Journal Ladies’ Lounge blog recently? One of my favorite writers, and a blogging buddy of mine, Louise Sloan, has a terrific post, “Best Mom Bloggers (and BFFs!).”

Reading the post reminded me of the fact that I have closer friendships, and more frequent contact, with some fellow bloggers whom I rarely (or never) see in person than I do with some friends who live nearby. What would I have given, back in 1995 when I was the mom of a newborn, to have had these connections, these wise women writers who shared so honestly about the very things I was going through? These women who would be there, at least in blog form, at 2 a.m. when I was up feeding Matthew?

Of course, this virtual embarrassment of riches now stretches far beyond parenting tips for me. From my blogging buds, I learn about everything from how to make the best use of a day at Disneyland to how to organize my finances to how to get the best deal when buying a car.

And sometimes it goes much deeper than the “how-to” stuff: When a child becomes seriously ill and the blogging community rallies around a worried family. When a blogging buddy is walking to raise money for cancer research and we all spread the word and help fill the coffers. When someone takes a deep breath and reaches out to discuss a personal challenge — and receives support from around the world.

With blogging, when it’s done right, we’re not just consumers of information. Those of you who leave comments here become part of a “the gang.” Sometimes we take the conversation to email or phone. And sometimes connections are made that become as valuable and meaningful as any “in-real-life” friendship. Blogging, done right, is a two-way street. And as Louise points out, there are some pretty terrific potential friends waiting for you on your virtual block.

The Cult of “I’m So Busy”

Monday, September 6th, 2010

This school year, I’m not going to buy into it. I’m not, not, not. And I’m going to mark my calendar for the beginning of Oct. so I’ll come back and read this post again and remind myself, once again, that I’m NOT.

Not what? I’m not going to let myself get sucked into the “I’m sooo busy” trap. You know it. Chances are, you’ve been in it with me. We may have seen each other at the grocery store, church, our kids’ school, and said “What’s new?” “Oh, I’m just so swamped I can’t see straight.” “Oh, I know what you mean. Between the school fundraiser and the kids’ activities and work and…”

“Blah, blah, blah.”

I may be bold this school year and take a Monday morning off and go to a coffee shop with the newspaper. Go get my hair cut on a Thursday afternoon. Read a BOOK. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m so important because of how darned busy I am every hour of every day. This year, it’s going to be OK to relax now and then. And to actually admit, in public, that I did, indeed, relax.

It’s a false set-up anyway. We moms seem to have to one-up each other in this area, and it’s a crock. I hear it every time I go to the grocery store and see two women parked in front of the dairy case, comparing kids’ schedules. Heaven knows I’ve done it. It gets old to listen to, and it really is a boring thing to discuss, over and over.

So let’s take a bit more time to relax this school year. And when we run into a friend? Let’s talk about the great book we’re reading, the fun new thing we did with the family the other day, the movie we want to see, the new hobby we’re enjoying. Anything but “If I have to spend one more minute in that car this week I think I’ll scream.” Because, frankly, if I have to have one more conversation about nothing more than that, I’m going to jump straight into the dairy case and hide behind the milk.

Thanks Goodness for Girlfriends

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Fellow moms, are you ever just POOPED? I am. Right now.

This week I’m looking at work deadlines, the church youth newsletter, baseball games, the church bake sale (gotta make some brownies), Hell Week (final rehearsals and tech week) for the church play… (Gotta love the words “Hell Week” and “church play” in the same sentence.)

The laundry is piled up. (Both clean and dirty.) The dog is begging to be walked. The fridge is almost empty.

And what do I want to do most? Meet a girlfriend for coffee. It’s my great stress reliever. It makes me realized how BLESSED I am to have such a full life with all these activities that, taken separately, I truly love. (OK, not the laundry or the grocery shopping.)

My girlfriends give me perspective. A laugh. A chance to vent and compare notes. In truth, sometimes wine is better than coffee for a girlfriend get-together. (AND as you can see, sometimes there’s CAKE.) But right now I’d settle for 30 minutes with a good buddy and a chance to sit back and look at our lives.

And laugh.

“Quality Time?” Don’t Believe It

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Father's Day Fishing

Jason Kotecki said something over at Dumb Little Man (Tips for Life) the other day that really caught my attention:

The real world reveals the truth about quality time. A number of fathers could tell you about spending an entire day fishing with their child. You enjoy a great lunch on the boat, share some good laughs, soak in some sunshine, and even catch a few bluegill. But it’s only in the last ten minutes — as you’re turning into the driveway — when your kid finally opens up about getting bullied at school.

Your kids need quantity time out of the relationship with you. It’s not their job to be able to fit all of their stories and questions and hopes and dreams and fears into the sliver of time you’ve carved out as “quality time.”

Sometimes a meaningful interaction only takes five minutes. But sometimes you need five hours to get to that five minutes.

Kotecki makes so much sense here, and he says it so well. Check out the entire post and let me know what you think. We always-busy parents have been reminded of this for years, but rarely has anyone, in my experience, been so on the mark. Thanks, Jason.

Who’s In Charge Here?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Top and bottom retainers

I was talking with a friend who works in an orthodontist’s office recently, and the subject of retainers came up. I mentioned that Matt, my son, will get nagged to wear his retainers, which we picked up today. And then I said “but you probably hear that from all the parents, right?”

“You’d be surprised,” she said, and she went on to describe moms who say things like “Well, I can’t make her wear it. It’s her mouth.”

(Insert screeching-tire sound here.)

Wait a minute. Who’s the mom? Who’s the kid? Who is paying for those braces, that roof over the kid’s head, etc.? Who is supposed to be the mature adult who knows more and who is in charge of making good decisions for the sake of this kid’s health and future?

Do I sound a little fed up? Good.

I see so much of this in my community, and I can only assume that the “kids-in-charge” trend is spreading across the land:

“My kid will only eat fast food.”

“My three kids like three different things, so I have to make three different meals at dinner.”

“My kid won’t go to bed on time. I explain to her that she needs sleep, but she just won’t.”


Your kid has enough friends. He doesn’t need you to be his buddy — despite how much you don’t want him to be mad at you for acting like a parent. He doesn’t need you to never frustrate him. To tip-toe around and make three dinners every night and pay the ortho bill while that retainer sits on the bathroom counter.

He needs a parent. Be one. He’ll fuss and fight and complain. But secretly? He’ll be glad that you care enough to be the adult, the person who helps set him on the right path in life.

And when he looks in the mirror when he’s 25? He might even see straight teeth.

Why Sleeping With Adam Lambert’s Dad is Too Complicated

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I’m happy to introduce a new guest writer for Parent Talk Today, Amy Wallen. This piece originally ran in The Faster Times and is used with permission. Amy is the bestselling author of MoonPies and Movie Stars and is a frequent contributing book critic for the Los Angeles Times and other national magazines. She is also the founder and comedic host of the popular reading series DimeStories, 3-minute stories…

With families taking so many different forms these days, what we call each other does indeed matter. But that doesn’t make it an easy thing to sort through. I think Amy says it well — and with a light touch. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Take it away, Amy…

“I sleep with Adam Lambert’s dad,” I have been told by a special someone, is a tacky way to introduce myself.  But I have run out of explanations, and that seems to be the most succinct description, and well, one that shuts everyone up.  But I’m not ready to shut up about it.  I do sleep with Adam’s dad.  I live with Adam’s dad, but apparently there isn’t a word for what I am.  I’m not Adam’s stepmom, nor is he my stepson (stepstar?) because I’m not married to his dad.  But I’m having sex with his dad, and I’m paying a mortgage with his dad.  But, I’m not a wife. So what am I?  What do I call the relationships in this non-traditional household of rockstars, sinners and one fellow who before the 2009 season thought American Idol was a game show?

It was somewhere between the first few horrific audition weeks of scathing remarks from Simon and the last week when one of the American Idol directors grabbed my arm and pulled me out of a camera view of a “family shot” with the explanation, “Amy, I leave my conscience at home for this job,” that I introduced myself with my tacky quip to the mother of  contestant Megan Joy. I was standing with Adam’s dad and mom, Eber and Leila.  For weeks all of Middle America (who apparently not only believe everything Sarah Palin tells them, but also believe that reality TV is reality and not staged at all) had blogged about Eber and Leila.  What a close family they seemed to be, the bloggers said, wasn’t it wonderful that they had stayed married after all these years? (more…)

Happy 14th Birthday, Matt!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Wow. Given that I can remember so many details of the trip to the hospital, labor and delivery, coming home from the hospital on Christmas Day, 1995… How can it be that my son, Matt, is 14 today?

Happy birthday, Matt. I love that you are such a wonderful young man with a good head on your shoulders and a love for God, your family and your friends. Dad and I are so proud of you and of the man you are becoming!

And just know that, no matter how much taller than me you are, you will always be my baby. (And yes, I know that you’ll have your driver’s permit in just 18 months. Yikes!)

Guest Post: Do Interesting Things

Friday, September 11th, 2009

“Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Goethe

I'm feeling a bit giddy over the fact that one of the people that inspires me the most, Leo Babauta, is guest posting here at Parent Talk Today. Just reading Leo's blog, Zen Habits, always inspires me, calms me down, excites me with new ideas and makes me want to be a better person. That's a lot to ask of a blog, but Leo delivers.
I like this post because I think one of my jobs as a parent is to inspire my 13-year-old son, Matt, to look at the world in new ways and to try new and exciting things. I think this post is a great one to share with our kids. Check it out. I'll bet it will make you want to try something new. Take it away, Leo…

We live in interesting times. We’re blessed that way.

The world is changing rapidly.

The way we work is changing, the way we live has already changed.
Entire industries are crumbling, and more are growing on their ruins.
People are empowered to express themselves, to create, to become a part
of a global conversation and transformation in a way that has never
existed before.

What will you do with that?

What will your place be in this new, interesting world? Will you have a voice? Will you be a creator or just a consumer?

Do something.

Do something interesting.

Be a part of the conversation and say something remarkable. Create
something unique, new, beautiful. Build upon the works of others and
transform it into your own.

How to do this?

Write a book. Or an ebook.

Write poetry and publish it on the web.

Create interesting, lovely or funny videos and put them on You Tube.


Write a web app that will solve a problem in people’s

Become a watchdog to replace the faltering newspapers.

the world and blog about it.

Try something you’ve always been afraid
to try, and put it on video.

Be yourself, loudly.

Start a new company,
doing only one thing, but doing it very well. Start a business that
does a service you’ve always wanted, or that you are frustrated with in
other companies because the service sucks.

Put your heart into
something. Say something that no one else dares to say. Do something
others are afraid to do. Help someone no one else cares to help. Make
the lives of others better.

Make music that makes others want to weep,
to laugh, to create.

Inspire others by being inspiring.

Teach young
people to do amazing things.

Write a play, get others to act in it,
record it.

Empower others to do things they’ve never been able to do

Read, and read, and then write.

Love, and love, and then help
others to love.

Do something good and ask others to pass it on.


Find focus in a world without it.

Become minimalist in a
world of dizzying complexity.

Reach out to those who are frustrated,
depressed, angry, confused, sad, hurt.

Be the voice for those without

Learn, do, then teach.

Meet new people, become fast friends.

to be wrong.

Take lots and lots of pictures.

Explore new cultures.


Paint a huge mural.

Create a web comic.

Be a dork, but do it

Interview people. Observe people.

Create new clothes.

Take old
stuff and make new stuff from it.

Read weird stuff.

Study the greats,
and emulate them.

Be interested in others.

Surprise people.

Start a
blog; write at least a little each day.

Cook great food and share it.

Be open-minded.

Help someone else start a small business.

Focus on less
but do it better.

Help others achieve their dreams.

Put a smile on
someone’s face every day.

Start an open-source project.

Make a

Start a movement.

Be brave. Be honest. Be hilarious.

really, really good at something. Practice a lot. A lot. Start now. Try.

From Munchkin to Tin Man — How Fast They Grow Up

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

I have "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" on an endless loop in my brain because my son, Matt, is the Tin Man in a 52-kid production of The Wizard of Oz put on by the children's theater program at our church.

Now 13, Matt has been involved in these productions since he was 5. He loves it.

Of course, nothing those kids do goes unphotographed by at least 25 moms. (You've been there, done that, I'm sure.) So I have a wonderful record of every show (I've lost count) from The Nutcracker to Mary Poppins to TWO productions of The Wizard of Oz…

And that allows for a real picture of just how fast time is passing. On days when I'm going crazy running from school to play rehearsal to baseball practice, I'm reminded of the phrase "The days are long but the years are short." Ain't it the truth!

Now I'm watching the current crop of Munchkins (they look so little!) and thinking back to just six years ago to when 7-year-old Matt was a Munchkin himself. Now he's 5'9", covered in silver face paint and metal and singing "If I Only Had a Heart."

It's enough to make a mom's heart pretty full.

Shame on Del Taco, Indeed!

Monday, April 27th, 2009


Del Scorcho sauce!

My friend Lynn Armitage, who blogs over at A Mad Mom, had a less-than-stellar experience at her local Del Taco. Let me let her tell it (with her permission):

Yesterday, I was out and about with my two daughters, mid-afternoon,
and they had the after-school munchies, so we stopped at the first fast-food haunt we saw – Del Taco.
We order, pay, and drive off. Ten seconds later, my 11-year-old in the
back seat asks, “Mom, what does ‘I bagged a hottie’ mean?”

Come again, sweet little girl who shouldn’t be saying such things?!

handed me the bag that contained all our food, and printed in BIG, bold
letters on the Del Taco bag, it said, “I bagged a hottie.” Oh . . . I
get it. Del Taco must have just launched a new advertisingcampaign. Well, aren’t they clever?? I was so impressed by their wit. And my daughters and I laughed all the way home.

Uh, in your dreams, Del Taco execs!

Check out the rest of her post here. Me? I'll be making my tacos at home.

P.S. Want to tell Del Taco how you feel? Their number is 800-852-7204.