14 Sep

15 Things Your Nine Year Old Doesn’t Tell You After School (And the one thing he does!)

  1. What he ate for lunch.
  2. Who teaches him science.
  3. Who he sat with on the bus.
  4. Who he played with at recess.
  5. If he turned in last night’s homework.
  6. What he has for homework tonight.
  7. If he had his regular teacher or a substitute.
  8. How he got that new bruise on his leg.
  9. When his map project is due.
  10. Where he left his library book.
  11. How many minutes he lost off recess.
  12. The location of his glasses.
  13. Where his jacket could be from that morning.
  14. Where he left his band instrument.
  15. Why there’s a number 3 written in marker on his hand.

And the one thing he does:

1. The name of a specific server, which he wrote down in lunch and placed in his lunchbox so it wouldn’t get lost, to play Minecraft online with his friend from school while Face-timing, because he also wrote down the friend’s Apple ID.

I’m thinking that it’s not just in my house. Do you have any to add to the list?

Laugh on!




09 Sep

Depression Doesn’t Own Me

I write about my mental illness to fight the stigma. I write about bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression because these illnesses lie to us, telling us that we are alone in a depressed hell. I want to reach others so that they can hear the truth:

You are not alone.

depression mental health bipolar suicide prevention

My rain clouds, black dogs and gloom aren’t haunting me. It has taken me over 15 years to get here. Depression does not own me today.

I walk the mall, grocery shop, and go to movies. All things that I could not tolerate.

I shower, do my hair, make plans with friends. All things I had no desire to complete.

I maintain my housekeeping (in no way perfect), follow a different schedule every day (Mom’s taxi service), and heed a recipe for cooking dinner. All things that I could not accomplish independently.

I appreciate the smell of bacon, seeing pink skies at night, and reading a good book . I recognize my early signs of anxiety and help myself instead of panicking. I’m honest with myself, my family,  and my therapist.

I still have rough days occasionally. Everybody does, though. I cherish these better days and keep them as my reality. So when the depression lies again, I remember.

There is light. And air. And hope. There is always hope.

I am not alone.


I wrote this post in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Logo

Take care of yourself and each other,

08 Sep

Did you know? #TuesdayTen


Tuesday, September 9th is National Wonderful Weirdos Day! In the spirit of Individualism, I’m listing ten lesser-known facts about me! (Psst…If the words are underlined, it’s a link. Go ahead and click and read more about it.)

1. I worked at a ranch resort in Colorado the summer I was 16. I was there on vacation with my family. A job opened up for a maid/waitress, and I applied for it. My parents left me there with all college kids. I loved it.

2. In 2004 DH and I visited Ireland with his rugby team. They played three matches against Irish teams and we toured all over the island. It was amazing. Yes, we toured Guinness and the Gravity Bar.

3. I cannot stand the sound of unnaturally running water. I love listening to rain, waterfalls or streams. But PLEASE for all that is holy, do not leave the kitchen faucet running while you walk around clearing off the table. Don’t turn on the shower and leave the bathroom to make your bed. It makes me stabby.

4. I have never been arrested, but I was patted down once in my younger days. I giggled the whole time because I am so very ticklish.

5. I was raised on a working farm. Every afternoon I collected the eggs, fed the chickens, and checked the rabbits. Our cows had babies throughout the year. In the fall, we sold  pumpkins.

6. I attended a rural high school whose mascot was The Golden Beaver. Anyone else? No?

7. I’ve been married twice. Both times to the same guy! DH and I were first married in 1994, divorced in 2000, and remarried on 2-29-04. Love him!

8. I love bread pudding. I could eat the whole dang pan every time. My mom’s recipe is custard-like and my recipe is more bread-y. Either way, I could eat it all. (This baked French toast casserole comes real close.)

9. I was one of 20 contestants in our county’s Junior Miss (now called Outstanding Young Woman) competition when I was 17. I didn’t win a thing, but it was a huge honor, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

10. I actually researched the cost-to-alcohol content for boxed wine. For the record, the best deal is Fish Eye Pinot Grigio. You get three liters for under $18.00 with 12.5% alcohol. And it’s yummy. You’re welcome.

Thank you to The Golden Spoons and The Liebers for hosting this link-up!


I’d love to hear what’s unique about you in the comments below. Come on, any other Golden Beavers out there???

Take care!

02 Sep

Top Ten Skills To Master #TuesdayTen


Happy September! My kids are back in school filling their brains with all sorts of knowledge. They’re not the only ones learning in our family. I’m setting some goals for myself, too. Lisa from The Golden Spoons is hosting her #TuesdayTen link up with the topic of ten things we’d like to learn. As a former teacher, I enjoy taking in new information. I believe that even learning one of these skills would be a personal gain.

Top Ten Skills To Master #TuesdayTen

1. Knit – I’d love to knit a chunky scarf. My daughter, B(19), just taught herself last fall. I think I know whom to learn from.

2. Yoga – Last November I went through lower back surgery #2. Using yoga, I hope to develop a stronger core. Also: RELAXATION.

3. Photography – My point and shoot digital camera has many features that I don’t use because I just don’t know how.

4. Basic Coding – This blog is hosted by WordPress and maintained by ME. I could use some coding skills for the minor changes like font size.

5. Housekeeping – I’d appreciate any resources from moms that have a weekly go-to list for certain chores on assigned days. I need this so we don’t have to spend half a Saturday every weekend cleaning the house all grumpy-like. It’s not a pretty picture.

6. Bake Cheesecake – I know I’ll need a spring-form pan thingy. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Golden Girls.

7. Social Media – I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I just don’t get the when and how of using them to help my blog readership grow.

8. Budget – I’ve attempted this in the past. I suck with the follow through. The whole numbers thing gets foggy, and I get way too lenient.

9. Listen Carefully – I just get so excited about what others (first) say, it gets hard to follow the rest of what they’re saying.

10. Converse – I’d like to talk with teenage girls (ahem, daughters) so that every basic conversation we have does not turn into a screaming match an extremely loud discussion. SRSLY.

What are you setting out to learn this school year? If you have a list, come link up with Lisa and the gang at The Golden Spoons/#TuesdayTen. Or, I’d love to read about it in the comments below!

The Golden Spoons

Take care of yourself and each other,


26 Aug

First Day of School Success

First Day (1)

Happy First Day of School!

Woo-Hoo! We were thrilled on the first day. Not only for the kids to get out of the house continue their learning, but also for our fourth grade son’s successful morning. See, last year, it took eight long weeks for him to cooperatively complete his morning routine and agreeably go to the bus stop. Too many of those days started with crying and screaming.

And that was just me. HA! NOT!

In a few words: it sucked.

This year, we prepared in May to keep his morning routine in place all summer. We didn’t drag him out of bed at 6:30 am every day. He would sleep until about 7:30 am on his own, and then we’d just keep the morning routine in place: eat breakfast, take meds, get dressed, and brush teeth. Last summer, there was no timetable for these steps. This summer, we kept it to one hour, similar to school mornings.  He didn’t love it and reminded us many times that it was “summer, not school.” We’d agree and keep going. We were determined to have a better fall than last year.

The week before school, I pulled a stunt that really ticked the little guy off. He was used to having his iPad to watch his Netflix in the morning. It was a distraction that slowed him down in the morning. I put his iPad away. He could still watch TV or Netflix on the living room television. But, to get his iPad Mini, he would have to complete his four morning “chores.” While he gnashed his teeth and spun his head, we remained calm. He may hate this rule, but he follows it cooperatively!

Another amazing thing that happened over the summer: our house became the neighborhood hangout for kids and we LOVED it. There’s about 5 kids that live on our street ages third grade to seventh grade. They’re ALL GIRLS and they all love Minecraft, playing outside, using their imagination in our game room/basement, and battling Pokemon. It was amazing! Now, it wasn’t Nirvana. They are kids with kid drama. Many days, though, there were kids playing here for 4-5 hours. They are good kids.

Lastly, see the jean-wearing kid in the picture? Yeah, him. For the first time in EVER. He picked out jeans while we were school shopping. (Sweat and athletic pants have been it since he was three.) He actually picked out four pair of jeans. He wanted to try them on. He picked out the jean jacket and wore it home. He’s 9 going on 19 and this is the stuff that makes me get a little teary-eyed. But then I dry ‘em up when he’s SO LOUD in the house. And I’m thankful he’s getting on the bus, happily going to school with his neighborhood friends.

Take care of yourself and each other,





PS Should I just call my family by their real names? I can’t remember made up names, and the whole DD, DS and DH can get annoying to read. Leave me a comment with your vote!

18 Aug

Stigma Fighters: My Story

I wrote this post about living my life with a mental illness. My hope is to reach others who are living with this disease, so they do not believe the lie depression tells.

You are NOT alone.

It was previously published on the site Stigma Fighters. Stigma Fighters is a blog series about real people living with mental illness. My blogging friend Sarah (Old School/New School Mom) runs Stigma Fighters. 

My first suicidal plan occurred in college when I was a freshman. I’d had a break up, self-medicated with alcohol for 1 ½ semesters, done poorly in my classes, and felt like a complete failure. I wanted to jump out the window of my dorm room. At least by ending my life, my roommate would get an automatic 4.0 for the semester, and that was the least I could do for her. She was my best friend. . .

Click HERE to continue reading this post.

Click HERE to read more about how I live with a mental illness.

Take care of yourselves and each other,

02 Aug

Summer Family “Ussie”

Apparently, there’s a name for group selfies…any guesses? USSIE. It’s the inspiration for the Ketchup With Us(sie) Link Up this week. I got that shizzle covered.


We visited Punta Cana this summer. It was our first visit to the Dominican Republic. As a family we absolutely loved it! We will certainly return annually. Here’s a pic of our pool:

It was even more beautiful than this picture!

It was even more beautiful than this picture!


Our silly USSIE taken at the tram stop between dinner and that night’s entertainment. Aparently, the DS considered himself the entertainment.


Yep. That's all 5 of us. Happy.

Yep. That’s all 5 of us. Happy. Cooperating.


How about you? Did you take an “ussie” lately? Include your family or friends? If you’ve got one that you’d like to share, click here- Ketchup With Us.

It's a Link-Up!

It’s a Link-Up!


Hope to see you soon!

02 Jun

Three Visual Summer Routines for Kids



Our last day of the school year is this Friday, and it’s not even a full school day. It’s called a turn-around day. Seriously. The buses come and pick up the high school kids and drop them off at the high school. Then they go around and pick up the elementary kids and drop them off at their school. Then the high school kids go home. Lastly, the little kids go home. While in the building, they all get handed their report cards. The whole process starts around 7:10 and ends around 8:45. My son is gone about an hour. Then let the chaos that is summer break begin!


In the past, our family has just done the “go with the flow” thing. When DS was little, and had a wrap-around (TSS), he did have some things that were scheduled. He met three to four days with the TSS for 60 minutes/afternoon. He also attended our school’s ESY (Extended School Year) for five half-days per week for the month of July. He attended ESY to maintain his academics and social skills over the long break.


Last summer, though, I made the judgment call for DS not to attend ESY. I thought it would be great to have flexibility in our summer with no ESY obligations. I believed that he had made great strides and I wanted him to “graduate” from those services. I was right in one way. We did whatever we wanted: Slept in, went swimming, played on technology, played outside, played with a couple of friends, etc. The summer was very relaxing.


But I was so very wrong in another way. My poor DS, even after practicing the whole week before, could not get back into the school morning routine without suffering meltdown after meltdown. He flat-out refused to get ready or go cooperatively. He cried, kicked, screamed, hid under the dining room table, pushed away, wouldn’t eat, take his meds, get dressed, or brush his teeth. It was mentally and physically exhausting EVERY MORNING for the months of SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER. I’m not exaggerating or kidding. It was one of the top 5 worst phases we’ve been through with our kids. Potty training him at 4 ½ was a snap compared to those two months. Then, he woke up one day in early November and cooperated. It was a huge relief.


This summer, I’m not messing around. He is signed up for ESY, and it is four half-days per week for five weeks. I’m thrilled! Also, we applied for and received an Autism Grant from the state that will pay for a day camp in August to continue the morning routine. It will also give him more time to hang out with other kids his age in a social setting. The summer camp ends August 19th. The remaining week of summer is all on us here on the home front. We MUST stick to the school morning routine ALL SUMMER. To help with that, I’ve come up with some ways to follow a daily routine.


I like a good list. Do you? Here’s a few ways you can create a visual summer routine for your family.


Three Visual Summer Routines

1. Use a reminder APP on your technology with sounds as alerts.

We used this last November on an iPad for his school morning routine.

We used this last November on an iPad for his school morning routine.


2. Use a paper list, put it in a cheap frame, and use a dry-erase marker to check off as you go. This one is from another blogger-mom, Jen, from I Heart Organizing.


Jen hung hers in a frame on the fridge.


3. Make magnetic tags that stick to the fridge to rearrange daily. I made these all by myself! I should do a Pinterest lesson, huh?


These are made from craft sticks with button magnets glue-gunned to the backs.

These are made from craft sticks with button magnets glue-gunned to the backs.


DS saw the sticks up last night and tried to dispose of the chores magnet! Nice try, buddy!


I’m hoping this system of daily routine keeps us as close to on track as possible. However, I’m not shooting for perfection. Average would be great.


Let me know what you think! Do you use a daily routine with your kids over the summer? How long do you practice school mornings before the first day? Should I add anything to my sticks? I’d love to hear from you!


By the way – if you hover or tap on any of the images in my post, you can pin them on Pinterest! Pretty neat!


Take care!

29 May

Weekend Chores With Kids

What a beautiful holiday weekend we had here in SW PA! My dad is a Vietnam Vet, so we always appreciate those who were lost in combat. We try to use some of the weekend to perk up the inside and outside of the house. To start it all off, we came up with a plan of attack: The To-Do List.  As the secretary of our administration, of course, I took notes. Kids seem to cooperate with the work when they have a say. Somewhere along the way, though, I got ambushed!



How did “scrub your butt” make the list?


My big job was finding the kitchen counter and dining room table. Those are the nasty landing zones that catch-all of the paper and crap. Mostly crap. I hope it stays this way until my in-laws visit in three weeks.


Here’s the finished product:

Yes. That is a dog butt. I'm not sure it got scrubbed.

Yes. That is a dog butt. I’m not sure it got scrubbed.


See the GIANT window over on the right? That’s 1/3 of the front window-wall. It’s a bear to keep clean, so I used to throw up my hands and give up. Not anymore! I found this great product called a window squeegee. I know, not a new thing. We got an eight foot extendable handle, slapped the squeegee on it, and the girls went to town! The sun actually shines through the glass. Kinda bright in here. Ow.


It was a fun day with all wecrashedkid accomplished. At the end of the day, we had a small bonfire. Extended family came over to roast s’mores, drink coffee and have a great visit. The three boy cousins ran around for about three hours playing some kind of combat game. My little guy crashed hard before we could even get him to bed.


*FQT = Family Quality Time – Coined by us in the ’80’s


To comment- Just fill in your name and email. You don’t need a website. If it’s your first comment, I’ll approve it and off you go!


To sign up for a weekly newsletter- Enter your email in the sidebar space. I’ll only send you a notice when I post a new post/or weekly! Promise: NO SPAM.


Take care and love each other,

18 May

Limiting Kids’ Technology Time

Our kids have way more technology options than we ever had. Our game systems weren’t as fancy or flashy, and playing Asteroids on the Atari, was nothing like multi-player Minecraft on the computer. For kids on the Spectrum, computer or iPad games offer stimulation, puzzle and problem solving, academic reinforcement, and can offer social interaction.


The struggle in many homes, including ours, is striking a balance between tech-time and life. I recently reached out to you for technology management ideas. We had a fabulous brainstorm session! I found that we came up with five main themes.


  1. Play around to earn the tech time – By doing a non-tech activity (reading, playing outside, Legos, crafting) for 20 minutes, he could earn 10 minutes of tech time (up to 60 minutes).
  2. Complete household chores to earn computer time – By doing chores that are above and beyond his normal routine, he can earn 15 minutes of tech time for each chore (up to 60 minutes).
  3. Complete regular chores/tasks before tech use – By completing his regular chores, he may use his technology for one hour per day.
  4. Weekly punch card – Hand him an index card with 14 spaces around the edge that equal 30 minute tech-time increments. Can use 1 or 2 spaces per day. No carrying over to the next week.
  5. Weekly coupons – Hand him 14 coupons that are worth 30 minutes of tech-time each. He may use 1-2 coupons per day. No carrying over to the next week.


My son’s strongest addiction is with Multi-player Minecraft. So we are implementing plan number 4. By using this punch system, he will have a concrete visual reminder that Minecraft time is DONE for the day. After a week or two of using this system, DH and I are going to require ALL daily tasks be completed before playing technology.


Here’s the one I made on Picmonkey-


Minecraft Time Punch Card

Minecraft Time Punch Card


We implemented it today. He hates it, but that’s to be expected. His attitude won’t sway us. We’ve encouraged him to get out cards and games. Some he’s played alone and some with us. As he sees that we are not budging on this rule, his behavior will get worse before it gets better. (He’s already threatened to live in the bathroom with the door locked.)


The second issue to address was the getting-off transition. Number one works for the laptop. The second (link) is a list of Apps for Apple products.


  1. Setting a timer and placing it near him. Build in a 5 minute warning.
  2. Apps to help set limits on iThings


For those of you with kids with special needs: Consider implementing new rules on the weekend during the day. This is especially important for us because DS’s ADHD medication wears off by 3:30/4:00. After that, he is less cooperative and less able to process stress appropriately.


Thank you again for all your input. What do you think of our ideas? Do you have another plan that works in your family? Will you adapt your rules when school lets out or do they stay the same?





You can subscribe to my blog and receive email notifications of new posts by leaving your email in the subscribe space on the right of this page.

%d bloggers like this: