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Craving "Constants"

As the oldest child approaches senior year of high school and the youngest breezes through junior high not far behind, a mom can get pretty sentimental, y’ know? It used to be that even when the older child went through big changes, I still felt connected to the “younger child years”, because my kids are four years apart in age. For example, when Allison became “too mature” to enjoy going to the neighborhood pool every day in the summer, I’d still get to sit at that pool on summer mornings, with other moms of young kids, as Emmie took yearly swim lessons.  When Allison and her friends were old enough to go to the mall by themselves, I’d still accompany Emmie on shopping trips. I had one foot in kid-land and one foot in teen-land. But this summer I am acutely aware that I have both feet pretty well planted in teen-land ...

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How To Help Your Teen Be A Successful Babysitter

Now that my 13-year-old, Emmie, is a bona fide, certified, babysitter (she took a course at a local rec center in May), she’s been trying to build her business and get jobs (saving for an iPhone can be a powerful incentive…). After she created a flier, gathered email addresses and sent out the flier, she has started to get calls. So I thought it was time to pass on to her what my childhood friend, Trisha, passed on to me and what I’d already passed on to Allison: the secret to successful babysitting. Trisha was a very successful babysitter; I took her advice and was booked solid almost every weekend evening (at least a Friday or Saturday night) during my junior high and early high school years , and in summer, some weekdays and evenings as well.

So what’s the secret?  Bring your own “stuff”. Yes, that’s it in ...

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Wake Me Up Before You YOLO: What parents should know about the latest teen trend in risky behavior

Ever heard of YOLO? If you haven’t and you’re a parent of a teen, you need to wise up. It’s an acronym that means You Only Live Once and it was popularized in a song by Canadian rapper Drake last fall, tattooed on actor Zac Efron’s hand, hashtagged by millions of teens on Twitter and immortalized in their Facebook posts as well. When I first heard Allison’s friends tease her that she was all about YOLO, I actually thought that was a good thing, like the “Carpe Diem” motto that Robin Willliams implores his students to follow in the movie Dead Poet’s Society, a movie that Andy and I showed to our daughters not too long ago...it also seemed related to my personal favorite movie line, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived” from the movie, Strictly Ballroom... But I guess another motto I should memorize (because I keep forgetting it) is “parents ...

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Are Teen Hang-outs An Endangered Species?

The title of this post is a question that has been on my mind since before I had kids, when I first moved to this suburb almost 19 years ago and was surprised at how early the “sidewalks rolled up” around here. Whenever Andy and I were out for the evening and wanted a late night dinner or snack, we were hard-pressed to find any eating establishments open past 9 p.m. And sometimes when we’d head to a little mom and pop restaurant in the neighborhood for an 8 o’clock dinner, by 8:15 we’d be the only patrons there, and even though their closing time was posted as 9, mom and pop would literally sit at a table near the kitchen, turn their chairs in our direction and stare at us until we finished, as if they were saying, ‘hurry up, we want to go home.’  It was weird, not to mention a little creepy ...

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Outsmarted and Outfoxed: When Kids Call Your Bluff

Dana Macario at the mom blog “18 Years to Life” recently wrote an account of how, to teach her kids to pick up their toys, she and her husband gathered up all the toys strewn about, stuffed them into large trash bags, put them in a closet and told their kids that for each night they picked up the rest of their toys, they could earn back one of the "hostage" toys. Logic would dictate that the kids would want their toys back badly, and it would take so long to earn them back, that once earned back, the kids would think twice in the future about leaving them lying everywhere. Logic would say this was a great way to teach kids a lesson in being neat without having to nag, “Pick up your toys!!”  Only Dana’s kids chose ...

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New Uncool Mother's Day Gifts!

Just in time for Mother's Day-- new women's tees at The Uncool Shop! I designed 'em and I think they're much more chic than the previous ones-- new fonts, several new V-necks in gray, black and white (or you can change them to make them whatever color you need) plus a new regular tee that has hearts instead of the "O's" in the word, "Uncool Mom" (see below for snippets of a couple of the new designs). The new regular tee is less than $12 and the new V-necks range from $16-19. And, until May 8th, you can get free shipping on any order over $30 with the code, MOTHERSDAY12. Click "The Uncool Shop" on the right-hand sidebar to order and to see more-- there are still laptop cases, umbrellas and aprons in the shop, too! Paypal accepted!
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Time for a Coffee Brake

When I first noticed the twitching, it didn’t alarm me much. I was sitting in church and glanced down at my left hand, resting on my leg. My left thumb was moving side to side slightly, without me telling it to do so. Weird, I thought, but we all sometimes get unexplainable twitches, twinges or pains that end up never happening again and not amounting to anything, right? I moved my hand and the twitching stopped. But when the twitching happened again the next day, I took more notice. I remembered Michael J. Fox talking about his early signs of Parkinson’s disease—didn’t he say it began with hand twitching? I consulted the Internet, which is where we all go to get a good scare whenever we need more medical information, and it confirmed my suspicions. Though Fox's first twitches were in his pinkie finger, when I Googled “thumb twitching” and ...

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"One Day On Earth" Premieres Today

Remember the 10-10-10 global film project in which my family and I participated? It was the first-ever simultaneous filming event occurring in every country of the world. Well, today is the worldwide debut of the finished film, entitled “One Day on Earth”. All over the world, the film is being shown at free screening events in theatres, cafes, churches, high school and college auditoriums—click here (or go to onedayonearth.org) for a list of cities/venues/times (make sure to scroll down to see the list). Unfortunately, none are close to the Dallas area so I’m going to have to wait until it comes out on DVD. I have no idea if any of our family’s footage made it in the final cut— from all the videographers, over 3,000 hours of video was submitted.

If anyone recalls, we spent 10-10-10 ...

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


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 ...

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Pinterest & Teens: A "Good Thing"?

I heard a sweet sound in the house over the past weekend I haven’t heard in a long time: the whirr of the sewing machine. A sewing machine, I might add, that I bought on a Black Friday years ago, getting up at four in the morning for a “Door Buster Special”. Allison was 10 at the time, determined to become a fashion designer and learn how to sew, and I was determined to help foster that creativity…

Ah, my daughters and I were once such a crafty bunch.  I’m reminded of that a lot—in the garden, where stepping stones the kids and I made (out of cement mix and pizza boxes) still mark a ...

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Uncool Mom Easter Post Featured at Mamapedia!

Just wanted to let readers know that an "archived" Uncool  Mom post entitled, “Building A Better Easter” was featured in the “blogger spotlight” this past week at Mamapedia, www.mamapedia.com (the direct link to the post is http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/building-a-better-easter). This is the third time an Uncool Mom post has been featured on the site, which is an online "mom community" of over 3.5 million members. It’s always exciting to be chosen by their editors--  it’s a great way for me to reach more readers, as Mamapedia emails a daily newsletter to its subscribing members and includes a link to the post. In addition, they add graphics and good photography to really give the post a boost. And this is a post I particularly like, about how we spent Easter afternoon bike riding around a city lake ...

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The Feng Shui of Family Photos

“The realtor has told me to put away any personal photographs,” said Mom the other day. “Is that right?” I just knew she was going to ask me that. She’s been asking me a lot of things lately since she just put her house on the market this week-- something she’s never had to do before. At least, not by herself. But Dad’s been gone for almost nine of the 50+ years she’s been in that house, and the kids all live far away, so it’s been a nerve-wracking and scary process for her. She phones often. While I’m no expert, I (and Andy) did sell a house less than six years ago (and shopped for a new one) and last fall, we helped his parents navigate a little bit of their move to “senior living”...

I’m sure my realtor friends would disagree, ...

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Paper Bag Popcorn

It's time to share another of my really GREAT no-brainer recipes. (Remember, to pass my test for greatness, a recipe must have minimal ingredients, not a lot of prep work, and so easy you can memorize it, yet it still also tastes good.)  This one passes all those marks and is healthy to boot. I first learned it from Martha Stewart many years ago, then tweaked it to make a Good Thing better.

Who needs Orville Redenbacher to decide how much fat and salt goes on your microwave popcorn? And who needs the extra appliance of an air popper when this popcorn turns out just as healthy, fragrant and fluffy? Try this for your next at-home movie night, which for us will hopefully be tonight, as we try to finish up our Netflix copy of "Evita"...

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"Spending Quality Time With A Teen" is Not an Oxymoron-- When You're Volunteering Together

When my kids were much younger, I was asked by a friend if I’d like to join The Junior League in our suburban town. I was flattered she would consider me, but after looking at the membership requirements (i.e. time commitment)  I almost laughed in her face. Going crazy trying to squeeze in freelance writing work and keep my house managed with two kids under the age of six, I couldn’t imagine also having the pressure of performing  a certain amount of required service hours and getting kicked out if I didn’t. How did my friend do it with two young children herself? (Um, on second thought, I think having a nanny and housekeeper probably helped her a lot…)

Fast forward about eight years, and another friend is asking if Allison and I might want to join her chapter of the National Charities League Inc., a nationwide ...

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A Scary Lesson in Door-to-Door Sales

NO SOLICITORS. Those are two words my Girl Scout troop doesn't like to see when they go door-to-door selling cookies, but I'm finally going to print them out on my label maker and post them by my own doorbell today, and hope that in the future, the football players, Scouts, Campfire Girls and other well-meaning kids will simply email me, as some already do, when they want to sell me something. Because there's just been too many not-so-well meaning door-to-door salespeople in our area lately, and I've had enough.

You'd think I'd have had enough long ago, since I've hung up on probably thousands of telemarketers (or fought with them-- remember the Gay Marriage telemarketer?) and I've had every nut in the candy dish knock on my door since I've been a work-at-home mom for almost 15 years. One memorable snaggle-toothed saleswoman slurped her bottle of miracle cleaning product ...
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Friday Freebie: Cheese!

Today’s freebie is easier than entering a drawing—at least if you live in Texas, or are here for Spring Break. Just head to your nearest supermarket and some really nice people from Tillamook are likely to be handing out free cheese (three kinds!) plus dollar-off coupons and yummy recipes. They’re driving all over the country in the cutest “mini-bus” you’ve ever seen, called the Baby Loaf bus, taking photos of their adventures and the people they meet. Check out the video on the left sidebar of this blog to see the bus in action (or head to http://unr.ly/w5SMGd) and you’ll also see Luke and Dale, two of the folks who are handing out samples.

While Allison and I were out shopping on Wednesday, we stopped by a nearby Kroger to check out ...

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A College (Re)Visit

This past weekend, we took  Allison (and Emmie) on our first “official college visit” as a family. Allison had already been on another, with her aunt, but this was the first “taking a child to see a college in which they’re interested” for the rest of us.  I thought I would feel really old but at first it didn’t seem like that—a lot of things brought back memories of our own college days for Andy and me and it really did seem like it was yesterday. It was fun remembering and answering the questions both girls peppered us with as we walked from point to point on our group tour. But we were reminded several times that it really wasn’t yesterday, and I’m surprised the girls would even consider us as a source of reliable college information.

For example, when Emmie asked me, “What do students do about ...

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Cirque du Spring Break

Well, I always say a parent’s real vacation happens after Spring Break ends, once the kids are back in school, but mine began early this time—two nights ago, the nice people at Endicott PR provided me with tickets to see my first-ever Cirque du Soleil performance, called "Quidam". Neither of my kids could go (too busy with homework, cheerleading workshops and theatre and band rehearsals) so it was a rare Girls Night Out for a friend and me. And all I have to say is—WOW. (Well, of course I can say a bit more. If you’re interested, check out my review at http://neighborsgo.com/stories/80760)

But in this space, I’ll share with you that the Cirque performers’ feats of strength, balance, and agility (and those performers were not all in ...

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"Race to Nowhere" Revisited: Two Innovative Approaches to Homework

So glad that the film, "Race to Nowhere", is still in wide circulation and that it came to our town three times in the last week, twice at our high school and once at a local church. The documentary, which I've written about before, touches on all kinds of things that are very relevant to today's parents-- over-stressed kids; restrictive teach-to-the-test teaching methods that don't teach kids to be problem-solvers; an unrealistic approach in America toward "college readiness"; in-school cheating; and teen suicide, among other topics. Love the film or hate it, it definitely gets discussion going about things that definitely need to be discussed. When I saw the film again last week, many parents stayed for a panel discussion that followed and probably wished that part of the program could have lasted longer. ...

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WAHM on the Run: A New Approach to Ending Arguments and Getting Older Kids to Be More Responsible

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Moms (or Dads) of teens (and other kids that try their patience) need a place they can retreat to, at a moment's notice, to get away from them. To think before flying too far off the handle. To de-escalate a situation, eliminate whining and cut the exchange of words short, with the promise of discussion at a calmer time. To be alone in order to come up with really good consequences for certain behavior rather than "grounding them from everything for life" in the heat of the moment. In other words, when the kids are too old to "go to their rooms" for a time out, you need to go to yours. Or take a walk outside. Just get away... only, sometimes that's not so fun to go to ... << MORE >>