10 Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas



I’ve seen the Elf do amazing work. Does an Elf visit your house? What magic or trouble has he stirred up for your child?

Take care of yourself and each other!

Five Things Teachers Want Parents To Do Right Now


Five ThingsTeachers Want Parents To Do

In my previous life, I worked as a special education teacher. I was in public schools for about 11 years. I am currently raising two kids in our local school district (The third one graduated. Eek!). I’m still around the schools and talk with some old co-workers. I have witnessed trends happening out there that need to turn around. Consider these five things that teachers want parents to understand and implement.

Hold your child accountable for more than homework at home.  Household chores are lifelong skills. If your son’s only responsibility is homework, he can start to resent the teacher and develop an entitled attitude. Why should he do his homework when he doesn’t have to do any work at home? If he refuses to do his homework, or not to study, the natural consequences should be on him. Learned helplessness exists and is hurting your student. And no, Kindergarten is not too soon to start.

Put time into your kid and provide the individual help they need outside of school. A teacher has many students. She cannot dedicate large chunks of class time on basic remediation for each child at the expense of the others. You are the parent and the most important teacher he will ever have. This help can come from yourself, an aunt, a friend, or anyone you can recruit. His education is not 100% of the teacher’s responsibility. On the other hand, if he is easily getting straight A’s, he might not be challenged with the regular curriculum. You should talk with the teacher in this situation. However, these circumstances do NOT automatically deem your little guy gifted. Simply, he may be average or above average earning high grades. Even with average grades, average kids succeed in school and life. Don’t try to make your child out to be something they are not.

Send your child to school prepared. Schools have many cases where they are the only ones feeding, clothing, and caring for a child. Don’t let your child become part of the burden that the schools have taken on (in place of the parent). If your student lacks any of his basic needs, he misses valuable instruction. Of course, if these are things you do not have the resources to supply, and the school is in a position to help, that’s a different story.

If you find that Common Core is blowing your kid’s mind, take a breath. Then, practice the basic skills with him. Math facts, sight words, spelling lists, and other basics are all areas that kids slide backwards on during the summer/semester breaks. Also, it’s not his fault you don’t agree with this teaching method. Don’t punish him by refusing to help him. Don’t complain about it around him. The Common Core is here, till the next big thing. So support your student with as little negativity around him as possible.

Which leads me to…

Don’t bash your child’s teacher in the presence of your student. Yes, teachers make mistakes. They are all human, like you and me. Assignments could be unclear to both you and your kid. A test could have a weird question. A school dance form never came home. In the grand scheme of life, do you want to teach your child respect and understanding, or would you rather teach him to criticize and disrespect those in authority? Speak thoughtfully.

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So there you have it. Any educators out there have any others to add? Parents, do these seem appropriate to you?

Take care of each other and yourself,





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Photo Credit: Here, CCL: Here,  Changes: Photo placed on green background with text above.

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!




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,

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!

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,


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!

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,

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!

[Tweet “A selfie of a group = #USSIE. Post and #Linkup via @LauraWTGC”]

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