The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Blog Archive

Nov 13, 2013

Applying Business Principles to Your Family

Men talking to Men.

Oct 23, 2013

Gifts to the ex - would you?

This IS a topic that has presented itself in our family. To protect the innocent, I won't discuss here how it all went down. I haven't seen anyone write about it before but I love this perspective.

If the relationship between the adult parents (sometimes an oxymoron) is healthy (which it should be but realistically, often isn't), it would be completely acceptable for an ex to help facilitate a gift to their children's other parent. It still does remain my job as a mother to show my daughter & son to uplift & celebrate their father. The problem occurs when the relationship between the adults is not healthy, brings with it conflict & turmoil and actions as this are not meant in a genuine, compassionate role but as an act to cause turmoil. And/or the ex spouse/other parent wants recognition for their efforts, instead of allowing it to be a gift from the children.


"Recently, in a stepmom facebook group, a poster asked the following question: "How do you feel about BM giving DH a Father's Day present? If you are a BM, do you plan to give DH a Father's Day present (either from yourself or via the kiddos)?"

Presents and recognition for parents, bio and step, is often a source of contention and stress in stepfamilies. Biological parents feel the obligation to recognize the other on events such as Father's Day and Mother's Day, and want to set a good example to their children, but stepparents often feel infringed upon when a gift comes to their spouse from the ex, or even from the kids but made with help from the ex. Gifts inadvertently become another way of putting kids in the middle, even when all adults have the best of intentions- and not all do! Some exes even use gifts and recognition to manipulate and guilt trip the other parent, or to give something disrespectful or suggestive. One stepmom mentioned that her husband's ex gave him pairs of pants for Father's Day with the comment that he needed to "stay in them"?

So where should split parents draw the line?

Obviously, the answer is going to be different for everyone, but here is my general rule of thumb: Would you give it to your boss?

Split parents, with rare exception, have to work on forming professional relationships with each other and disengaging themselves from the personal history. So in order to find the right balance between respect and recognition, it would help if moms and dads treat each other as they would treat their bosses (or clients, if you prefer to feel more in charge of the situation) - with respect and good will, but not with familiarity.

So, would you give your boss a Christmas present? Well, it's possible you might give a card. And she might happen to eat some of the cookies you left in the staff room, but you probably wouldn't. Would you give your boss a father's day card? It depends on your relationship. If you saw them that day you'd certainly wish him a happy father's day, and sure f you both had kids and you were on pleasant enough terms that it was a common non-business topic of conversation a card might be in order. But you wouldn't get them a gift. You wouldn't help their children get them a gift unless for some reason you both saw the kids on a regular basis AND there was no one else in the picture to help them. It's possible, but unlikely. You'd certainly encourage them to give a gift, but you wouldn't be a hands on helper.

So parents (and stepparents) out there struggling with this boundary, I would say you can absolutely recognize the other parent with a card or something small, but refrain from giving major gifts yourself unless you are truly one of the rare ex-couples who have developed a friendship post-separation. And if your ex has a spouse in the picture who can help the kids get a gift, allow that individual to do so. They know your ex better now, after all, and it is their place. You can and should model appreciation for your children, but modeling boundaries and respect is just as important, and far, far more peaceful.

Oct 1, 2013

Get the....

The stages of parenting, through the education system eyes:

Elementary - participate, we welcome your presence. And your money.

Junior High - give us your kids, not your parental opinions. We still want your money.

High School - stay connected, don't abandon hope, it's tough but hang in there, ride out the storm. They now want your money.

College - Get the Hell Out.

We both want your money.

Sep 11, 2013

August Osage

"Life is very long" TS Elliott

"Thank God we can't tell the future. We'd never get out of bed."

Looks like a good one that will cut a little too close to reality.

Sep 6, 2013

Just today I was thinking how far our country has moved away from personal accountability. We work to circumvent owning up. We're allowing sex offenders to get away with offenses, murderers to work the program. The rights of the offenders have surpassed the rights of the victims. Thank you young man for being an example of what humans and our communities should be living.

"Well I won't go down that path"

Too bad more of us don't choose the easy road and stand up for what is truly humanly right and valuable.

Matt Cordle's confession, before being charged - of committing murder via drunk driving accident.

"The Time I Almost Killed My Child"

I had been waiting on eggshells for this day to come. I’d been waiting since our son, Rory, was 6 months old and diagnosed with a peanut allergy. He was now 3, and I was still waiting.

It was a Monday after work and I was shopping at Whole Foods in the gluten-free cookie area. My husband and I were due to go out of town that Friday and my mom was flying in to take care of the kids. I remember that I was exhausted. I remember picking up a box of vanilla gluten-free cookies, flipping it over, and reading the ingredients. The front of the box screamed “gluten-free!” and “soy-free!” and it appeared to be a company that cared about allergens in food. The cookies had cream inside, which Rory had never had before and I thought would be a special treat for his grandmother to give him. As I was walking away I noticed that the same cookies came in chocolate. I grabbed a second box and threw them in the cart.

I did not read the ingredients in the chocolate.

Fast forward two days, 8 p.m. My two-year-old was up past her bedtime when Rory saw the box of cookies in the pantry. He asked if he could have one and I said yes. They came in a two-pack. He said he wanted two because they came as two and I said, “So do my babies. One for you, one for Moo.” Emily was in a bad mood, took a tiny nibble and didn’t want it. Rory snatched up the extra, so excited about eating a cookie with cream. I took Emily to bed almost immediately so I was not in the room when Rory told his father, “This cream is spicy.”

40 minutes later Rory was watching cartoons on a computer in our bed. He came to the top of the stairs to call down to us that he was itchy. I took one look at him and nearly fainted. The back of one knee looked like it had been attacked by fire ants. I said to Andy, “Think. Help me think. What is new? What did we just introduce to him?” and I remembered: The cookies.

I ran to the pantry, grabbed the box and looked at the back. There were 12 ingredients and hazelnuts were the 10th one. I knew in that moment that I’d never seen this list of ingredients. I hadn’t even read the box.

We quickly double-dosed him with Benadryl and coated the hives in Benadryl cream. Residue from the cookies must have been on his hands and he touched the back of his knee. We threw him in the shower and washed his hair and skin. I sat with him bundled up in a towel on my lap and apologized over and over; telling him Mommy fed him a bad cookie on accident. I was so sorry and it would never happen again.

My son breaks my heart into a thousand pieces sometimes. He said, “Mommy, I think I’m going to be OK with that cookie.”

His eyes were bloodshot so I put an antihistamine drop in them. I asked if he could breathe and he said yes. I asked him to take a deep breath and he did. I asked him to show me his tongue and he did. It looked fine. My dinner was waiting downstairs so Andy stayed in our bed to keep an eye on him as he watched cartoons.

I was downstairs eating when he started to cough. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I listened. Cough. Cough. Cough cough. Cough cough. Cough cough cough. Cough cough cough cough cough–


“What? I’m here with him.”

“But he’s coughing!”

“I know!”

I ran up the stairs. They were sitting in the dark. I flipped the lights on. His eyes were swelling. He was still coughing.

“We have to call 911,″ I said. “Let’s find an EpiPen and call 911. Bring him downstairs.”

Backstory: We got an EpiPen prescription for Rory in 2011 when he was skin tested at an allergist. The allergist had sent us home without the prescription despite his maximum allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and cats, and serious allergies to egg, wheat, melon, grass, ragweed, and mold. The mothers on the allergy board of BabyCenter insisted that I call the doctor’s office the next day. When I did, I was told that it was the doctor’s policy to not prescribe anything of any kind for a patient unless that patient was going to sign up for a treatment plan. I shouted, “Exactly what treatment plan does this doctor want a 16 month old baby with a nut allergy to sign up for?” Many threats later, the prescription was called into our pharmacy, which we then renewed through another doctor every year since.

Rory was naked under a towel but Andy snatched him up and we went downstairs. I found the EpiPen. I found Andy’s phone.

“Let’s put him the car,” Andy said.

“No. We don’t have time for that.” I didn’t even know how to get to a hospital; we had only lived there two months. I dialed 911.

“911, What’s your emergency?”

My voice went shaky as the gravity of the moment hit me. “I need to know whether I have to use an EpiPen on my child,” I told the operator. She wanted my address, wanted my phone number, wanted to know how old he is and whether we needed an ambulance. “YES I NEED AN AMBULANCE BUT DO I NEED TO USE THIS EPIPEN ON MY CHILD?” I pleaded.

“Ma’am, I can’t tell you that. You need to calm down. You need to do what your doctor would want you to do in this situation.”

Rory was now coughing to the point he was going to vomit.

“She would want me to use the EpiPen.”

“Then you need to do that, ma’am. Stay on the phone with me. Do not hang up.”

I told Andy, “She says we need to do it. Do we really need to do this? What if he’s going to be OK without it?” I was afraid of the side effects of epinephrine. I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid of being the one to cause the pain.

Three firefighters came running up my stairs into the living room as we were getting clothes on Rory.

One firefighter pulled out a stethoscope and listened to his lungs. He was wheezing.

“You’ve got to use the EpiPen,” he said.

Two paramedics ran up the stairs to my living room. One was a female. She was so warm, so caring.

She took my hands in hers. “Mama, you’ve got to use this EpiPen,” she said. “It has to be you. You are scared and you need to do this because there will be a next time and next time you might not be where we could reach you. You have to learn to do this tonight.”

A police officer ran up the stairs into my living room. There were now nine people in my tiny living room.

Rory was gagging. I read the directions on the EpiPen for the 10th time.

A firefighter reached out his huge hands on Rory’s tiny thighs. The paramedic held his torso.

I said, “One, two, three” and tried to inject the EpiPen into his thigh. I didn’t work. I tried again. It didn’t work. I looked at the woman helplessly. She took it from me, looked at it, and handed it to another paramedic. He retracted the tip to reveal the needle and said there was no ejection; it would eject with the force of me hitting him with it.

I knew that. The pharmacist just told me about the redesign in January. Thank God all of these people were here to help me think.

Now I was on autopilot. “One. Two. Three.” Slam.

Rory howled like I’d stabbed him with a knife.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.” I pulled it out, threw it, and he leapt into my arms. I was crushed. I wrapped my arms around his skinny body and said I was sorry a dozen times. This was worse than the time he tumbled out of his stroller onto the sidewalk when he was 2 weeks old. This was worse than when he saw me give the dog away. I was the worst mother of all time.

“Mommy, I don’t want another one of those!” he begged. I promised him there would be no more of those, ever.

Andy came into his line of sight and Rory leapt from my arms to his. The paramedics asked which hospital we wanted him taken to. They asked if I could tell that his cough was not as tight now. No, I could not tell. The swelling was going down in his eyes, they said. I could not tell. He looked like he’d been in a fight.

“Do you like teddy bears, little guy?” they asked. He nodded. My sweet child.

They packed up the EpiPen and the box of cookies. They packed Rory up into the ambulance. They strapped him into a seat and handed him a bear, which he took and hugged. Andy got in beside him. I stood at the back of the truck peering in the windows on my tiptoes, crying. No one knew I was there. They drove away and I came back in the house, sat on the stairs and cried. I called my mom.

What if, what if, what if? What if we were gone to California and Rory asked my mom for those cookies and this whole thing happened on her watch, alone? What would she have done? How far would it have gone? What if he’d fallen asleep before it set in? What if he wasn’t coughing? What if she didn’t hear him? What if he suffocated from anaphylaxis in his sleep?

Andy texted at midnight to say that they were staying until morning. I finally fell asleep and woke at 4 a.m., then relived the entire thing all over again.

Emily and I picked them up at seven in the morning. I called to let Andy know that we were outside of the emergency room. A moment later the double doors opened and out walked my husband with my tiny, beat-up child beside him. I drove them home.

Andy said that the cookies were on a shelf in their hospital room and that as they were getting ready to leave Rory asked, “Hey Daddy, can I have those cookies?”

As I got Rory out of the car he said, “Mommy, I want to go to the spiral slide.”

“Sure Bub, anything you want. Daddy will take you to the spiral slide.”

He gave me a stern look and said, “Mommy, you hurt me with that EpiPen.” A knife to my heart; I can’t believe he even knew the name “EpiPen” now.

Three hours later they went to the spiral slide and Rory wanted to go to school. Andy didn’t ask me what I thought– I would have voted against it. The kid was just in the ER for crying out loud. Ultimately, due to the remaining events of the day, I was glad that I did not get a vote.

I spent the entire morning holed up in my office, trying not to cry, talking to the moms on the BabyCenter food allergy board. Two of them pointed me to the same website, Kids With Food Allergies. One of them said, “You have to read the After The EpiPen section.”

I try, these days, to listen to the universe speak to me. I knew I needed to follow up on what they were saying. I loaded the site and saw the anaphylaxis section. I clicked, but the site wanted me to register to use it. Forget that, I closed it out. I’m not going to register to use a website. A minute later I remembered the universe, went back again and registered.

I read the section. There were hundreds of stories over the last several years about EpiPen experiences but the one my eye went right to said, “Every time the medicine wore off the allergic reaction came back.”

What the what? The reaction can come back when the steroid and epinephrine wear off. It can be worse or it can be different, and the doctor didn’t tell Andy that. I picked up the phone to call him.

“The reaction can come back. He can relapse when the meds wear off.”

“Tell the school,” he said. “You have to warn them.”

I composed an email to the director explaining what I’d just read. I assured her it was not the norm. I told her the signs of anaphylaxis that we’d observed the night before so she would be on high alert. I explained that the EpiPen had been redesigned. It was intuitive to try to eject it but it doesn’t work that way anymore. Andy had already given him a dose of Benadryl but I asked her to dose him again right then. She said she couldn’t give Benadryl without doctor orders if symptoms were not present– it was state law. I had Andy fax the doctor orders over. She called me to say that they were not signed. She could not allow it. Rory was about to go down for a nap. She assured me he was acting normally and that she would keep an eye on him.

At 2:30 the school called to say that Rory was awfully itchy. Andy took off immediately to go get him.

Minutes later I was in the ladies room washing my hands, reaching for a paper towel. The assistant burst through the bathroom door and said, “Robyn, your son had another episode. His school is on the phone.” I ran. The receptionist transferred the call up to the closest desk.

They had EpiPen’d him again. The paramedic got on the phone. They wanted to know where to take him. “Take him right back to Children’s Hospital,” I said. His tongue was swollen.

I ran to the car. I called Andy to change directions. “Go to Children’s,” I said. “He’s in an ambulance.”

We raced.

I called the school again. Was he stable? Was he speaking? Did he seem like he was going to be ok?

A wreck on the highway held me up 10 minutes, of all the days. I called my brother and wailed. I was going to kill my child. This was entirely my fault. He was going to die from this. For a second I pictured our family without my son in it. My heart.

I pulled up to the ER and parked. The ER doors were at 2 o’clock. An ambulance pulled up to the emergency entrance at 10 o’clock. I looked back and forth between the doors as I approached the building.

My child is in that ambulance, I thought. Nonsense. He had to be here already with how long it took me to get here. My child is in that ambulance. No, that’s not possible. Regardless, I began to sprint across the parking lot in high heels toward the ambulance as a paramedic walked around its corner with Rory in his arms, hugging another bear.

“That must be your mommy,” he said.

Rory recoiled. “I want Daddy.”

I laughed through my tears. “Well, Bub, you’re going to have to settle for chopped liver right now.”

The paramedics told the ER nurse that Rory was exposed to a food allergen for a second time. I had to interrupt and assure them that was impossible. It seems that on the ambulance ride Rory told the paramedics he “…found a bad cookie in Daddy’s car and ate it,” and they believed him.

Andy arrived and the school director was in the lobby waiting to hear that Rory was going to be OK. I went to speak with her and what she said has me firmly convinced that she saved his life. He’d woken from his nap with itchy ankles, at which time they called me and I said Andy was on his way. She dosed him with Benadryl and watched him. He asked for help in putting away his nap mat because other children were still sleeping on the floor. He then began to tell her about how he flew around outside, and how much he loved paper clips.

She knows my child. He doesn’t speak nonsense. This was not like him. She grabbed the list of anaphylactic symptoms. Euphoria and confusion were at the top– I didn’t even know this. Andy would not have known this. She pulled him into her office with the EpiPen and asked if he was alright. He began to cough. His eyes immediately swelled out and blackened. She pulled him into a hug and slammed the pen into his thigh.

Within seconds the swelling was gone. He was normal. He was able to speak to her.

What if he’d been at home? How far would it have gone? What if he’d been asleep? What if he died?

Rory was admitted for 24 hours. The next morning I dropped off my mother to relieve Andy. I was telling Rory that I had to go to work and he held up two wrists with a most serious little face, flashed his hospital bands and sang out, “Power to the rescue rings!”

After a very rough weekend, it was Monday evening before Rory was off the steroids and back to his semi-sweet self. He was back in our bed, watching cartoons, when I went up to fetch a blanket. He said, “Hey, come here. I’m gonna give you a kiss.” I leaned in for a smooch and he said, “I wuv you.”

I melted. He couldn’t have known how much his mother needed to hear those words.

It’s going to be a long time before I’m over this, if ever, really. I spent the next week feeling like I had post traumatic stress disorder and I was the one that caused the trauma. Don’t tell me I saved his life. Don’t tell me I did the right thing at the right time with the EpiPen and the ambulance. I can’t even hear those words. The truth is that I was tired and I didn’t read the ingredients on a box of cookies and I damn near killed my child. That’s a fact. This is going to take a while.

About the author

Robyn divides her time between wondering where those 30 points of IQ snuck off to after the birth of her first child and silently judging parents who let their kids eat red dye #40. In her spare moments she updates her blog The Robyn Nest and compulsively checks her Facebook for Paleo crockpot recipes.

For more great mom blogs check out

Sep 4, 2013

God only gives special children...

What a tremendous uplifting story.

"A dinner out turned into an experience of a lifetime for a North Carolina family thanks to one stranger's heartfelt gesture.

Ashley England and her family want to thank a customer who paid for their meal Friday night and left behind a touching note about their special needs son. A photo of the note has gone viral, shared with thousands of people on Facebook.

England told CNN her family, including husband, Jason, 8-year-old son Riley, 4-year-old brother Logan, the boys' grandmother and their great-grandmother were together at the Stag & Doe restaurant in China Grove, North Carolina, for a family meal when their special needs son, Riley, started to get frustrated. He was hungry and couldn't get the Netflix on his mom's phone to work.

Since Riley suffers from epilepsy and is non-verbal, England said, it's hard for him to communicate and he screams and acts out when he's frustrated. England said he started to make screaming noises, beat on their table and threw her phone, catching the attention of some nearby customers.

Although a few customers were looking, it wasn't the worst experience her family has had out in public since Riley's condition was diagnosed when he was a toddler, England said. But she was frustrated, she said, and in the past few weeks it has been really tough controlling Riley's behavior.

So what happened next was just what the family needed.

As their waitress was delivering food to the family's table, England noticed another waitress, Tonya Griffin, walk up with a few tears in her eyes. She passed along a message from another customer that the England family says they will never forget.

Griffin told the family, "your meal's been paid for and he wanted me to give you this note." The note written on a customer's order slip read, "God only gives special children to special people."

England told CNN the gesture was really needed and it made her cry. "I just broke down, the past month has just been so hard."

She added, "He just doesn't know what we've been going through and how much it was needed at the moment."

When England updated her Facebook page about the family's experience Friday night, she ended it with this message: "Dear stranger, thank you for giving me a blessing tonight in a way you will never know."

England says she will be back at the restaurant when it reopens Wednesday -- its hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday -- in hopes she can find the man to thank him personally."


A True Love Song

Now this is a story to blog about - Don't bypass the video story below. If anything is worth moving souls today, this is.

My spouse received an email this week from his best friend, who's own partner passed away in mid life. Admonished us to grab our loved ones - enjoy the minutes we have with them. It's an often told tale. Death does occur. At any given moment. We cannot bypass the end. It's what we've done prior to the moment of passing that counts and leaves the imprint on the future. How we've shown those in our care that we truly love them with passion, dignity, loyalty, friendship, kindness, compassion and care. Stewards of the precious hearts handed to us during our time on this planet.

March on soldiers of the heart.


"If you happened to see the Top 10 songs on iTunes this past week, you may have noticed a sweet lullaby called “Oh Sweet Lorraine.” It’s there among all of the usual suspects: Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Robin Thicke, and Miley Cyrus. But this unlikely hit didn’t come from a musician. It came from 96-year-old Fred Stobaugh. He doesn’t sing or play an instrument. He’s an Illinois man who lost his wife of 73 years, Lorraine, in April. On a whim, the widower entered a song-writing contest he saw in his local paper.

Fred wrote the love song about his bride. “She was just the prettiest girl I ever saw,” he said about meeting Lorraine in 1938 at an A&W root beer stand. “I just fell in love with her right there.” Fred and Lorraine dated two years before marrying in 1940. They would have celebrated their 73rd anniversary in June. “After she passed away [at age 91], I was just sitting in the front room one evening by myself, and it just came right to me,” Fred says of his song. "I just kept humming it and singing it.”

He isn’t the only one humming it now. The tune has gone viral, beating out Justin Timberlake and skyrocketing up the charts. It’s a simple song – and that’s the beauty of it. “Oh sweet Lorraine,” the chorus begins, “I wish we could do all the good times over again.” The song continues, “Life only goes around once, but never again.” Ultimately, the song is a love letter set to music from a devoted husband who misses his best friend and the love of his life. It’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, and it just might make you cry.

Stories of enduring love have a way of doing that. Why? Because they are aspirational! We all want a love that goes the distance, overcoming hardships, and yet still stirs up passion within us to write a love song – even after 73 years of marriage."

Aug 28, 2013

90 Minute History of Fashion

Aug 16, 2013

From "No one's the Bitch"

Only something you can understand if you've done the time. A spot on article, "What divorced (biological) moms should know about step moms" -

1. She isn’t playing house with your child and your ex-husband.

Stepmoms are trying to build their own family, a very real family that includes their husband, and children who aren’t theirs.

Some of them will grow to love their stepchildren and some won’t, but they’re doing their best to ensure the child still grows up feeling happy and loved.

They’re nurturing a marriage and trying to figure out their role in the stepchild’s life. And while you knew your place in your child’s life from day one, stepmoms can spend years trying to find theirs.

2. It’s not about YOU.

A stepmom’s priority is her marriage. When she does something for her stepchild, often the motivation has nothing to do with you. It’s not about trying to make you look bad or make you feel “less than.”

The motivation is the safety and happiness of her stepchild. The motivation is the love she has for her husband.

She’s trying to do the right thing – just like you would.

Similarly, when she supports her husband, the intention is not to go “against” you. In fact, there are times when stepmoms actually side with mom, although — unless you have a decent relationship with the stepmom in your situation — you’d never know it.

3. Stepmoms often feel powerless and alone.

Stepmoms have no legal rights with their stepchild. They understand this; their stepchild already has a mom and a dad. But it gets difficult when they’re turned away for trying to obtain something as simple as a library card for their stepson or stepdaughter. Or when the doctor’s office won’t give them any information, even though they will be the one driving the child to the appointment and giving them their medication.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for stepmoms who have taken care of their stepchildren since they were very small.

It can make a woman feel unimportant and insignificant. It’s a feeling only a fellow stepmom could understand.

In addition, stepmoms are often powerless when it comes to their stepchild’s behavior. This is a struggle, because they are greatly affected by the unwanted behavior, but they don’t have the authority to do anything about it. If they’re lucky, their husband will be supportive and listen to their concerns, but this isn’t always the case.

4. When you contact their household, it often feels weird and disruptive.

Stepmoms know you have the right to call your children as often as you’d like. And they understand you need to talk to your ex occasionally about parenting issues. But it can still feel like an intrusion.

Stepmoms are constantly struggling to find ways to bond with their stepchildren. And when you call, it interrupts the activity in the house and their stepchildren are immediately distracted. Any bonding that was going on is gone.

Stepmoms may feel as though you’ve crept into every aspect of their lives. And your calling their house is another painful reminder of that.

5. Stepmoms don’t cross your boundaries on purpose, they just can’t see them.

Many moms complain that the stepmom is trying to “parent” their child. But a fundamental problem seems to be, what moms consider “parenting,” stepmoms consider “being responsible” or “supporting their husbands.”

Remember, many stepmoms aren’t sure of their role.

They’re stumbling along, figuring it out as they go. And it’s difficult to try and do the ‘right thing’ only to realize you’ve just caused mom a coronary. It’s not intentional.

Stepmoms wish there was a rule book. They wish the situations were black and white. They wish they could be on the same page as mom and dad, and know how to handle every situation.

But they don’t.

This is where neutral, open communication would be to everyone’s advantage.

Unfortunately, for many stepmoms, their first experience of mom is an emotionally-charged phone call, email or text telling her she has “no right” to do whatever it is she did. To a stepmom, this feels like you’re kicking her when she’s already down. It comes as a shock — because again — her primary intention was to help her husband and care for her stepchild.

6. A stepmom’s marriage has a 60-70 percent chance of failing.

And one Boston study reported that 75% of the women who were surveyed said if they had it to do all over, they would NOT marry a man with children. That says a lot about the difficulties stepmoms face.

This may not mean much to you personally, but it means your children will have to experience the prolonged process of a second divorce and deal with the aftermath.

7. Stepmoms are often disrespected or ignored by their stepchildren.

There are various reasons for this, chief among them understandable and agonizing loyalty conflicts for the child, but regardless — it still hurts. Stepmoms are only human!

Life isn’t always flowers and butterflies at the other household. Many children feel weird about having a stepmom. They don’t know what it means or what to do with it, so they act out or just ignore the stepmom, which is awkward for everyone.

And most stepmoms don’t have “unconditional love” to fall back on. When a child misbehaves, wreaks havoc, or throws a tantrum, parents may get angry and frustrated, but their unconditional love makes it bearable.

Stepmoms aren’t so lucky. There’s no unconditional love coming to rescue them from wanting to scream at their stepchild or run the other way, sob somewhere private, and never look back. All they have are difficult feelings and nowhere to put them.

But they do come back, day after day, because they believe their marriage and their stepfamily are worth it.

8. A simple “thank you” can go a long way.

Stepmoms wish you’d give them even the smallest acknowledgement. For a lot of women, being a stepmom is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. Often, their needs and wants come last, their schedules aren’t their own, and they’re affected by a situation they didn’t create.

Many stepmoms take excellent care of their stepchild, with little or no reward. They get no thank you, no love from the child, and no appreciation from anyone but their husband — if they’re lucky.

They make many sacrifices in order to be with the man they love. So to only be referenced as “she” (or even worse), or to be completely ignored by you, can hurt them deeply. What they wouldn’t give for a simple “thank you” or a nod in their direction.

I believe that kind of recognition can heal wounds.

Do stepmoms ever act from ego or a sense of competition with the ex-wife?

Sure, just as some moms do.

But it’s important to grasp the implications of a bigger context here: being a stepmom is uniquely difficult and confusing. If you’re a mom, could you see yourself struggling in her shoes?

Perhaps, one day, with a better understanding of each other, the mom/stepmom relationship will be one of championing the other, instead of automatic conflict.

Aug 13, 2013

"The day I stopped saying "Hurry Up""

The difficult part about parenting is you have to get stuff done! We must conform! We must succeed! Meet not some, but all the demands.

And we think...we're going to have this cute little bouncing baby and just squirrel them away on our train ride.

Parenting is about - making changes to yourself. It's God's way of taking a situation that yes, does bring out our worst and then turning that hopefully, into the best US.

Typically by blessing us with a child or two that have complete opposite engines from our own.

We are all molded, shaped by our parents - then I was remolded by my own children. I am a better human for my love of them, that ignites the desire to be my best.

I was (and still am) the hurried parent. Honestly, in today's constantly connected, demanding society, I don't know how you can not be.

One day I realized, I'm missing it. Last night looking at a photo of my son, my eyes teared up, my throat threatened to close as I realize - he's there. Teenage change is coming. I don't have much time left and I need to make the most of every single day. Because he's my baby. My oldest baby is in college and he's the bottom of the ladder. The end to what I've done with my life.

I thought - okay, I need to slow down. Enjoy. Capture (click click click...) Every - Single - Moment.

I choke up reading the end of this story because I too have had motherly enlightenment, regret and have learned to swiftly - turned my butt around and get on the same page.

I have Noticers in my house. And they are amazingly inquisitive! I love watching their brains think and move! Little eyes seeing all, taking it in and turning it around.

The best line of this story is:

The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the parent I want to be.

Absolute truth. Absolute healing. Absolute change. For them.

When you’re living a distracted life, every minute must be accounted for. You feel like you must be checking something off the list, staring at a screen, or rushing off to the next destination. And no matter how many ways you divide your time and attention, no matter how many duties you try and multi-task, there’s never enough time in a day to ever catch up.

That was my life for two frantic years. My thoughts and actions were controlled by electronic notifications, ring tones, and jam-packed agendas. And although every fiber of my inner drill sergeant wanted to be on time to every activity on my overcommitted schedule, I wasn’t.

You see, six years ago I was blessed with a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the roses type of child.

When I needed to be out the door, she was taking her sweet time picking out a purse and a glittery crown.

When I needed to be somewhere five minutes ago, she insisted on buckling her stuffed animal into a car seat.

When I needed to grab a quick lunch at Subway, she’d stop to speak to the elderly woman who looked like her grandma.

When I had thirty minutes to get in a run, she wanted me to stop the stroller and pet every dog we passed.

When I had a full agenda that started at 6 a.m., she asked to crack the eggs and stir them ever so gently.

My carefree child was a gift to my Type A, task-driven nature—but I didn’t see it. Oh no, when you live life distracted, you have tunnel vision—only looking ahead to what’s next on the agenda. And anything that cannot be checked off the list is a waste of time.

Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, “We don’t have time for this.” Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were: “Hurry up.”

I started my sentences with it.
Hurry up, we’re gonna be late.

I ended sentences with it.
We’re going to miss everything if you don’t hurry up.

I started my day with it.
Hurry up and eat your breakfast.
Hurry up and get dressed.

I ended my day with it.
Hurry up and brush your teeth.
Hurry up and get in bed.

And although the words “hurry up” did little if nothing to increase my child’s speed, I said them anyway. Maybe even more than the words, “I love you.”

The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the parent I want to be.

Then one fateful day, things changed. We’d just picked my older daughter up from kindergarten and were getting out of the car. Not going fast enough for her liking, my older daughter said to her little sister, “You are so slow.” And when she crossed her arms and let out an exasperated sigh, I saw myself—and it was a gut-wrenching sight.

I was a bully who pushed and pressured and hurried a small child who simply wanted to enjoy life.

My eyes were opened; I saw with clarity the damage my hurried existence was doing to both of my children.

Although my voice trembled, I looked into my small child’s eyes and said, “I am so sorry I have been making you hurry. I love that you take your time, and I want to be more like you.”

Both my daughters looked equally surprised by my painful admission, but my younger daughter’s face held the unmistakable glow of validation and acceptance.

“I promise to be more patient from now on,” I said as I hugged my curly-haired child who was now beaming at her mother’s newfound promise.

It was pretty easy to banish “hurry up” from my vocabulary. What was not so easy was acquiring the patience to wait on my leisurely child. To help us both, I began giving her a little more time to prepare if we had to go somewhere. And sometimes, even then, we were still late. Those were the times I assured myself that I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young.

When my daughter and I took walks or went to the store, I allowed her to set the pace. And when she stopped to admire something, I would push thoughts of my agenda out of my head and simply observe her. I witnessed expressions on her face that I’d never seen before. I studied dimples on her hands and the way her eyes crinkled up when she smiled. I saw the way other people responded to her stopping to take time to talk to them. I saw the way she spotted the interesting bugs and pretty flowers. She was a Noticer, and I quickly learned that The Noticers of the world are rare and beautiful gifts. That’s when I finally realized she was a gift to my frenzied soul.

My promise to slow down was made almost three years ago, at the same time I began my journey to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters in life. Living at a slower pace still takes a concerted effort. But my younger daughter is my living reminder of why I must keep trying. In fact, the other day, she reminded me once again.

The two of us had taken a bike ride to a sno-cone shack while on vacation. After purchasing a cool treat for my daughter, she sat down at a picnic table delightedly admiring the icy tower she held in her hand.

Suddenly a look of worry came across her face. “Do I have to rush, Mama?”

I could have cried. Perhaps the scars of a hurried life don’t ever completely disappear, I thought sadly.

As my child looked up at me waiting to know if she could take her time, I knew I had a choice. I could sit there in sorrow thinking about the number of times I rushed my child through life … or I could celebrate the fact that today I’m trying to do thing differently.

I chose to live in today.

“You don’t have to rush. Just take your time,” I said gently. Her whole face instantly brightened and her shoulders relaxed.

And so we sat side-by-side talking about things that ukulele-playing-6-ye​ar-olds talk about. There were even moments when we sat in silence just smiling at each other and admiring the sights and sounds around us.

I thought my child was going to eat the whole darn thing—but when she got to the last bite, she held out a spoonful of ice crystals and sweet juice for me. “I saved the last bite for you, Mama,” my daughter said proudly.

As I let the icy goodness quench my thirst, I realized I just got the deal of a lifetime.

I gave my child a little time … and in return, she gave me her last bite and reminded me that things taste sweeter and love comes easier when you stop rushing through life.

Whether it’s …

Sno-cone eating

Flower picking

Seatbelt buckling

Egg cracking

Seashell finding

Ladybug watching

Sidewalk strolling

I will not say, “We don’t have time for this.” Because that is basically saying, “We don’t have time to live.”

Pausing to delight in the simple joys of everyday life is the only way to truly live.

(Trust me, I learned from the world’s leading expert on joyful living.)

Aug 9, 2013

Song for the week

I love my kids music. The light that speaks directly into my soul.

Can you lift me up, turn the ashes into flames?
Because I have overcome,
More than words will ever say.

And I've been given hope,
That there's a light up the hall.

Aug 8, 2013

What's Integrity?

Today we are surrounded by a new mentality - everyone's good. The generation I developed from, everyone was not good. There was something in our character that always needed improvement. A long life struggle to "become" whatever it was that someone else determined you were to become. But today, the message is that everyone is okay, regardless of their decisions, choices or behaviors. Because there no longer is "good" or "bad". Well, that's not entirely true. Because we all still want to be "good" at whatever it is we choose to do or become. But there is no "bad". Whatever is done, we "tried hard". Gave it our best shot. And that's good.

Integrity - doing what's right even when no one is looking. Doing the right thing, even when you could choose an easier (not wrong...) option, which may benefit yourself but not the others involved. Whatever "fits you". Integrity - an admirable trait that builds trust, fellowship, loyalty between relationships, whether that is employment, friendship, marriage, family - is just plain decent. We no longer hear mentors or leaders in society talk about the importance and meaning of integrity. In order to discuss it, they might have to use the word - bad, wrong, incorrect, poor. And that would not be good.

What Strengthens and Weakens Our Integrity – Part II: Closing the Gap Between Our Actions and Their Consequences

In the first post of this four-part series on what weakens our integrity and how we can strengthen it, we discussed how our decisions to act in dishonest ways are influenced by two factors: 1) wanting to get a reward – often financial/material, but also things like pleasure or fame, and 2) wanting to be able to continue to see ourselves as good people. As psychology professor Dan Ariely puts it: “Essentially, we cheat up to the level that allows us to retain our self-image as reasonably honest individuals.”

How we decide to balance these conflicting motivations comes down to our willingness to rationalize our unethical and selfish behavior as really not so bad. The more you’re able to justify your immoral actions, the grayer the line between what you deem right and wrong gets, and the wider your “fudge factor” margin – how much immoral behavior you can commit without feeling guilty – becomes.

Last time, we talked about how taking just a small first step down a dishonest path can set off a cycle of rationalization and further dishonest behavior, which can lead you away from your principles and into more serious misdeeds. But what factors come into play when you do take that first step? Further, what keeps you going down that shady path once you do?

Today we will explore one of the most salient factors that increase our ability to rationalize a dishonest act, and how we can combat this force in order to maintain our integrity.

The Distance Between the Deed and the Consequence

One of these significant influences is the psychological distance between the act and its consequences. The more steps removed we are from how an immoral decision affects others and from having to think about the reality of what we’re doing, the easier it is to make the choice without feeling bad about it.

Ariely conducted several experiments that vividly illustrate this principle at work.

First he conducted a non-scientific experiment in several dormitories on a college campus. In the communal refrigerators of some of the dorms, he placed a six-pack of Coke. In other dorm fridges, he left a plate with six $1 bills on it. The Cokes and dollars were nearly equivalent in value, yet within 72 hours, all of the sodas had disappeared but none of the dollar bills had been touched. The students could have easily grabbed a buck and then used it to get a Coke at a nearby machine. But they didn’t. Why? Because taking a dollar – money in its raw form – feels like stealing, while taking a Coke – a step removed from the money – feels more okay. Ariely compares this to the way many people wouldn’t think twice about taking a ream of paper from work, but wouldn’t dream of grabbing $3.50 from the office’s petty cash box.

After this casual experiment, Ariely wanted to see if the same thing would happen in a more controlled environment. So he returned to the matrix test we discussed last time. If you remember, that test asked participants to solve as many mathematical matrices as possible in five minutes and paid them per correct answer. In the condition that allowed for cheating, the participants checked their own answers, shredded their worksheets at the back of the room, and then told the experimenter how many answers they had gotten correct in order to collect the promised cash payout (since the experimenter had not checked the worksheet themselves, the participant could claim to have solved as many matrices as they wanted). This time around, Ariely mixed things up by having the experimenter first give the participants plastic tokens instead of money, which they then redeemed for cash in the next room over. What happened when this small step was placed between the opportunity to lie and getting the money directly? Participants cheated by twice as much.

In another study, Ariely polled hundreds of golfers and had them imagine a situation where moving the ball (which is against the rules of the game) would offer an advantage. He asked them to predict how often the average golfer would move the ball by either 1) tapping it with his club, 2) kicking it with his foot, or 3) picking it up with his hand. The survey respondents thought the average golfer would use his club more than twice as often as his hand (with the foot falling in the middle). Even though the manner in which the ball is moved has no bearing on whether or not it constitutes cheating, tapping it with your club feels less dishonest, because you’re not making direct contact with it – you’re separated from what you’re really doing. It’s easier for the golfer to tell himself that it just kind of inadvertently happened, allowing him to chalk the act up as no big deal and keep on feeling like an honest guy. In contrast, Ariely writes, if the golfer were to grab the ball directly with his hand, there would be “no way to ignore the purposefulness and intentionality of the act.”

How to Counteract the Distance and Strengthen Your Integrity

The greater the psychological distance between our dishonest actions and their consequences, the easier those actions become to rationalize as morally and ethically acceptable. And the more our ability to rationalize increases, the more our fudge factor margin widens. Thus in order to strengthen and preserve our integrity, it’s important to remove the steps – if only in our minds – between our actions and the reality of what we’re doing and how it affects others.

This can be a tricky problem, because we’re counteracting a psychological issue. We first have to influence our mind to see the importance of what is going on. If we don’t mentally frame our disingenuous deeds as being in the wrong in the first place, we cannot work to remove them from our lives. Instead of letting ourselves ignore the problem (don’t let the left hand know what the right is doing!) we must work to consciously create more awareness of the consequences of our behavior.

Cultivating this awareness really comes down to cognitively stripping away the layers between something and its value or effect on other people. So for example, if you’re about to take some printer ink from work, imagine yourself instead taking $30 from your boss’ desk drawer. If you can’t see yourself pilfering the cash, realize that swiping the ink is really no different.

Here’s another example: say you get paid $15 an hour to do your job, but you spend an hour at work goofing off. You’ve essentially stolen $15 from your employer. Of course surfing the web doesn’t feel anything like stealing, but it’s really no different than pocketing a $15 item while shopping and not paying for it.

Another effective element to add to this kind of mental exercise is to imagine the person your action would most affect (or perhaps a loved one or someone who looks up to you) standing by you as you did it. Would you still take the ink or sneak in a nap if your boss was right there beside you? The need to hide something is a sure sign of its questionable morality. As it is often said, integrity is what you will do when no one is watching.

Of course, tracing your actions back to who they would most affect can be difficult if you’re working for a giant, faceless corporation. In such cases, dishonesty and rationalization become infinitely easier, because the gap between your actions and any consequences can seem wide and the effect of them small. Yet the essence of integrity is that an action is wrong regardless of its magnitude – stealing ten dollars from a rich man isn’t more okay than stealing ten dollars from a poor man. It doesn’t matter that the former wouldn’t “feel” it like the latter. Stealing is stealing.

It can also be much easier to make excuses for your dishonest behavior if you don’t like your job or the person that you’re dealing with. In another experiment Ariely conducted, people were overpaid $4 by either a neutral experimenter (the control condition) or one who was rude to them while giving the payout. In the control condition, 45% of people gave back the extra change (pretty sobering that more than half of people kept it). But only 14% of those who dealt with the rude experimenter gave the money back. For them, keeping the extra change could be justified as comeuppance for the experimenter’s behavior – they rationalized that he didn’t deserve the money back and/or it compensated them for being treated badly. You can see this kind of thinking acted out by someone who steals from work because they don’t feel they are paid enough. Or perhaps your ex-girlfriend has been a complete jerk to you during a break-up, so when she asks if a favorite necklace is still at your place, you lie and say you haven’t seen it. Or maybe you cheat on your wife because you feel she’s overly frigid and doesn’t have sex with you enough. It’s easy to justify a dishonest act when you feel owed something or when you feel you’ve been wronged. You can rationalize that you’re just balancing out the scale, but do two wrongs make a right?

One realm where we must be especially vigilant about increasing our awareness of our actions is online. Cyberspace can make everything we do feel truly nebulous and abstract. Communicating with friends, and even more so with anonymous strangers puts a whole lot of distance between our behavior and its real effects; we often forget there’s an actual human being sitting behind the screen you’re typing to. So here again it helps to imagine doing what you’re doing online in a more direct way. Would your ability to justify your online behavior evaporate if you did the same thing in the real world? Flirting with someone other than your wife might feel okay when you’re chatting via instant message…but how does it feel to imagine saying the same things to a stranger at a bar? What if your wife was standing right there? Hurling vitriol and scathing insults at someone on an internet forum might feel harmless, but can you imagine saying the same things to the person’s face? Saying things online that you would never say in-person constitutes a failure of the wholeness and consistency required of a man of integrity.


We must always remember that we’re all experts in creating rationalizations for dishonest behavior when that behavior serves our own interests. And the greater the distance there is between an immoral act and its consequences, the easier these rationalizations become to generate. We’re so adept at cloaking our dishonest deeds in the disguise of acceptability that we may not even recognize them for what they are ourselves, and will sometimes fight tooth and nail to defend our justifications.

Thus living with integrity requires frank and sincere self-examination and self-awareness. What are your true motivations and intentions? What are the consequences of your actions and whom will they affect? Strengthening your mental game and building this kind of awareness isn’t easy. It involves tuning into that little nagging voice in your mind that says, “Hold on a minute, this isn’t quite right.” Instead of ignoring it, write down what that voice says in a pocket notebook. Maybe seeing it in words makes it more real and shortens that distance between action and consequence. Or consider partnering up with a friend or significant other who you can send a text to when you feel that twinge of guilt coming on about something. To voice it to another person certainly makes it more real.

Winning the mental battle is the first step in being a man with great integrity. You haven’t won yet, and probably never will completely, but you make progress by not letting the smallest misdeed be rationalized away.

“The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care.”

-Juan Mascaro

Do you have any mind hacks you use to shorten that psychological distance when there are layers between actions and consequences?

Aug 7, 2013

Ryan's afternoon playlist...

I have cool kids indeed.

Desperation Song - Carbon Leaf - excellent LIVE performance

One of his new favorites - gotta let him roll...

Back in Black - AC/DC


Aug 3, 2013

This week was a little difficult.  I had to wade through soul leveling pain that I had left behind a long time ago.  I will be honest and say I haven't exactly been immersing myself in God's arms.  So I'm not sure why He chose this week to reach out and talk to me, face to face but His timing is perfect.  In the midst of the storm, my soul has been calmed.  Forgiveness has poured through me, in receiving and giving.

In the midst of trying to wade through emotional upheaval, listening to Pandora, Matthew West's "Hello my name is..." played.  I hadn't heard it before.  Suddenly, the fog lifted and God was succint with the crystal clear truth.

This morning, I was at Barnes & Noble with my son and as we sat and he perused the Lego Bible (chuckle), I spied the book "The Story" and picked it up.  Shuffled through it.  Interesting.  Returned home to my husband handing me "The Story" DVD & CD from the library.  Timing, as always, interesting.

I tossed the DVD in, which the DVD player replied by choking & distorting the picture making it difficult to see but I got the general gist.  We watched a few minutes, my husband asked me to take a walk & we set out.  I returned home, planning to remove the DVD & send it back.  But it started playing, screen clear and I thought - one more minute.  The song below started.  The first words "I am not my family tree" -  I sat up & paid attention.  He spoke with tremendous power, truth into my life, validating who I am, my choices, my message to my own children.

I am always humbled and my spirit bends when He chooses to reveal His presence. Especially when I've been thumbing my nose at religion and faith.  The world violates even the most sacred and it is difficult at times to keep a hand on the Father, with humanities perception of God.

I love the message and yes, these are most definitely different leaves.

I am not my family tree
These are different leaves, you know
There are miles and miles between
My roots and what I’m trying to grow

I am not the slave they sold
Nor am I royalty
I’ve worn them both, the finest coat
And rags that barely cover me.

But there’s mercy in the soil
Mercy in the sun
Learning to forgive
What cannot be undone

And what was meant to harm
Can’t harm you in the end
Stepped out on a limb I thought might break
But Love said, it will only bend
It will only bend.

I am not my past mistakes
Labeled by some place and time
Nor am I trophy case
Trying to maintain my shine

I have dreamed a thousand dreams
Watched a grain in famine, grow.

I am not my family tree
I have branches of my own

Oh, does fate resign us to
Find shelter for our wounds
Beneath the battered roof of broken dreams?

Oh, but I will choose to stand
In the shadow of Your hand
And see what grows when Grace has sown the seed 

These are different leaves you know.

But there’s mercy in the soil
Mercy in the sun
Learning to forgive
What cannot be undone

And what was meant to harm
Can’t harm you in the end
Stepped out on a limb I thought might break
But Love said, it will only bend.

Feb 20, 2013

Letting Go

You know it’s coming. You’re holding their hand and one day...they walk on, their hand slips from yours and you are suppose to - wait for it - 


No, parent.  You are not suppose to chase after them. You are not suppose to yell for them to wait up. You are suppose to quietly, stop.  So your child might be, let’s say - pick a random number.  Mmmm, 17.  No really.  SEVENTEEN.  And you know it’s coming. You’re ready. Okay. Okay. When? 

No. Not yet. 

What’s coming?  You know what's coming.  You've been shielding her from it for 17 years.  But you know - IT has to happen.  Life.  Outside the protective arms of a parent.  Up to this point, you’ve been able to oversee and keep all of it away. Sitting in your cushy little place in parenting. Control. But now, well now - it’s really time to let go.  You're ready. Here we go.

When? Now?  
Oh you mean, Now? 
Wait - Now?

The kid is dragging you along.  Do you see yourself?  You are like a toddler who doesn’t want to stop the playdate and your mom is dragging you by one arm as you lift up your legs and scream NO, I want to stay here! all the way across the playground to the car. Your kid looks at you first with teenage attitude - the eye of understanding and compassion hidden inside somewhere. But now, they are just a tiny bit disgusted. With you. And rightly so.  You’ve been screaming too long. You should have hopped off the merry go round quite a while back.

Yes. Now.  It's time.

Jan 16, 2013

I Love You

I dislike the phrase "I Love You'.

I am an action person. Prove it person.  See it person.  Not so much a faith overriding the proof person.  So if the actions, counter the words, I hear the action. Seems simple enough to me. Too many humans use "I Love You" to wipe away what they've done. Child predators tell their victims "I Love You". Abusive adults tell their children, their spouses "I Love You".  Cheaters tell their victims "I Love You".  I even once blurped out "Love You" on the phone to my ex husband, standing next to my current husband.  Entertainers, accepting their awards state "I Love You All!"   Really?  No.  It's a term that has come to have little meaning & used mindlessly or for selfish motives.

Which is why one of my all time favorite songs is "More Than Words" by Extreme.  What a message by a Rock Band. I Love Them.

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