Category Archives: children

Be my RED Valentine!

On the reddest day of the year, please Be my Valentine and order your FREE Kindle copy of my new book!

Please share the red! #Valentine’sDay #freebook

A gift for my dedicated followers, friends and family.****See disclaimer below

Valentine's Day Book Free****Disclaimer:  This book is in no way associated with Valentine’s Day other than the color red.  It is not a romantic read and should not be misconstrued as a nice Valentine’s Day gift – husbands take note.  Sharing this offer with your friends however is not only acceptable but greatly appreciated by the author!  My complex marketing research tells me that running a book promotion with a RED book cover is easily associated with a holiday focused on the same color.  Happy Valentine’s Day!


Thank You to the Best Bus Driver Ever

images (15)When we send our children to school, we naturally worry about their education. Who will their teacher be? What classes are they in? Will they succeed? What will they learn? Are they happy? Will they make friends? What is their day like when they are away from  home? And the list goes on and on…

I don’t think that I ever gave a second thought about my children’s bus driver.   And yet, much to my great pleasure, my children were fortunate to have one of the best bus drivers ever, Ben.

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Instantly Outnumbered

copies from old computer backed up oct 08 085As my book nears its completion (yup almost there, really, I’m pretty sure). I thought I would add some excerpts to spark your interest or perhaps amuse you.

“Instantly Outnumbered”

(excerpt from Barbies in the Horse Bin, Living Better with Organized Children)

I knew that I was having twins by my 12th week of pregnancy. I did not know that I had two babies to care for until they were wheeled into the recovery room, side by side, in one bassinet. They were just lying there, two hats, two blankets, two babies.

My memory of this moment is one of the most vivid of my life. I took a deep breath and apparently said aloud, “there are two of them”.  At this point the nurse looked at me with sheer amazement and asked, “Didn’t you know you were having twins?” As I recovered from the initial shock of seeing two babies, together, I replied, “Yes, yes I knew I was having twins, I just didn’t KNOW I was having twins.”

And so it begins, my new normal, instantly outnumbered by babies, forever changed and yet forever blessed. While I had always considered myself to be a relatively organized person, this new normal would challenge everything I thought I knew about being organized. I was instantly out-numbered, counting the two year old sister, there were three babies, all in diapers!

When people saw us coming, triple carriage and all, the most frequent comment I received was “Oh, God bless you.”  My response was always the same, “He already has.”  The twins will be 14 next week and together we have learned to live better everyday.    My mantra when they were young was: “You will never miss out on anything just because you are twins, we will make it happen.”  So far so good since we became instantly outnumbered!

Mom’s Christmas Card Photos ~ A tradition I love…

DSC02071Every year, for 16 years straight, we have managed to take a family photo for the Christmas card.  Sometimes it is the whole family of five, most of the time it is just the kids, and every now and then it includes one or two canines. This year was no exception and below is a quick glimpse of our “organized chaos” in 2013.

The family photo for Christmas is not a unique tradition by any means, it is however one that I have fiercely protected year after year.  Like many good ideas, and well meaning intentions, traditions for us  have started and stopped over the years.  For some inexplicable reason I remain adamant about keeping this tradition and it wasn’t until I was questioned about it this year, that I truly realized why.

Each year the photo is blown up to an 8×10 size and framed for the living room wall.  Sixteen photos now proudly hang, some are great pictures and some, well, I would possibly retake them, if I could.  It is not just the sequential marking of the passage of time that each photo represents, it is definitely something more.

One of my teenagers asked me, in that oh so delightful teenage tone, “why do we have to do this every year?”  I really had to think about my answer.  The truth is, it is the story behind every photo, not so much the photo itself.

It is the full family version, taken at the local portrait studio, that has the parents laughing, but all three kids looking petrified.  I explained to my children that their dear auntie was helping that year and that she was jumping up and down and making faces behind the cameraman.  Obviously, by the blank stares on your little faces in the photo, you did not find it nearly as funny has your parents did.

There is the year, I thought putting all of you  in a large Santa sack was a “cute” idea. IMAG0858 Thankfully the picture was taken prior to the tipping over of the large sack causing heads to knock together and ending in tears.

There is the photo taken at the boardwalk of one of our lovely beaches.  Look closely and you will see that everyone is freezing cold, red noses, watery eyes and hugging themselves.  That is the year that your Papa died, unexpectedly,  in October.  That could have been the year that the photos stopped, but something made me decide that a picture by the ocean he loved was just what we needed.  Too bad it is so chilly in December, in New England!

I showed my eldest child the very first Christmas photo.  It was taken on the IMAG0855 (2)floor of her bedroom in our first apartment, a place she does not remember.  Pre-digital days, this photo required 24 attempts on a roll of film that was rushed off to the pharmacy in the hope that one would come out okay.  You took off your hat, the dog (Norman Bates) lost his bow, in some pictures you crawled away and in others he put his head down.  Twenty-four takes and one success!    I would later make a collage of these photos on one of the earliest versions of Photoshop with the help of a middle school student who was serving detention in my classroom.

My daughter now uses the photo as her facebook profile and my sons were intrigued by my willingness to let a student on detention “work off” his misbehaviors.  I also had to explain how “rolls of film” worked and why you didn’t snap a photo of just anything.

So after wrestling with our dogs for the 2013 photo and reliving the history of past photos with my family, I was left thinking, when should I stop?  When they go to college? When they have families of their own? Next year, when the boys enter high school?

The more I thought about it the more I realized that I don’t think I will stop.  There will be a reason to be home from college for an afternoon, or to stop by when their work schedules get busy, or to visit when they have children of their own.  It’s time for Mom’s Christmas Card Photo – a tradition she loves.

“Family Matters” ~ not just at Thanksgiving!

Many moons ago I wrote a newsletter that contained a section called  “Family Matters”.  Here is a post from that section, written for Thanksgiving.

Family Matters

I have always liked the play on words that this particular title “Family Matters” represents.  For the most part I write articles that pertain to the ups and downs and ins and outs of everyday family life, living better, of course.  With the holidays in sight, I am writing about the other (and most would say more important aspect of the title) Family Matters.

While everything about our family matters, it is their opinions, spoken or otherwise, that matter most.  From holiday travel to the perfect piece of pie, family will offer opinions, suggestions, and some will make outright demands.  These are the ingredients that fuel the fires of holiday stress.  It’s not really the shopping or the cooking or even the long car rides,  it is the requests, expectations, and happiness of our family that matters most.

No matter what your definition of family happens to be, it will include those people whose friendship, blood relation or history have some bearing in your life and therefore they matter.  Matter is defined as “something that is being considered or needs to be dealt with”.  I think that family members fall easily into the two categories, often trading places.  We have family members that we need to consider and we also have ones that need to be dealt with, either way, they still matter.

Because “family matters” more than words can adequately say, I hope you enjoy the family you are blessed with this Thanksgiving, as we are never guaranteed that they will be there for next year’s holiday.  And, if you find that family matters are giving you some holiday stress, try humming a few bars of “Little Birdie”, it’s sure to calm things down.

Happy Thanksgiving to your Family from mine… LB

The Griswolds and the best kept secret for a waterpark???

What is the best kept secret for having fun at a IMAG0702 water park?


That’s right, you cannot get more bang for your buck than a water park in the rain!  It doesn’t even have to be raining, cloudy days and the prediction of storms later in the day work just as well!

This is not just my opinion, this is my EXPERT opinion, as I have frequented more water parks than the average bear.  My camp job for many years was “DayTripper”, yes that was my title, and I loved the job!  Once a week we travelled to the Northeast water park known as Water Country!  A day anticipated by every camper as the highlight of their summer.  I learned early that  have the most fun at a water park you actually need to go in inclement weather.

When rain threatened our last day of camping in Maine, I immediately jumped on the opportunity that Plan B presented and  announced “let’s go to a water park”.  My three children looked at me like I was half-baked (not an unusual look from them, but this time it came with the “you’ve got to be kidding us commentary”.  Even my husband, had the look that said, are you for real? “No, I shouted, I’m serious, this will be a blast!  Let’s pack the tent and get in the car, the park opens at 10:30 a.m.”

As the clouds darkened and a few sprinkles hit the windshield, I reiterated to my children my aforementioned expertise told them that this is the ultimate day for a water park adventure.  Teenage skepticism filled the car until we pulled into the deserted parking lot.  Acres and acres of empty spaces, we were like the Griswold’s pulling into Walley World!

Thankfully our experience was far better than the Griswolds!  The park was open and they even let us in early.  We parked in the front row so we could leave our dry clothes and lunch in the car.   We spent over four hours going on every ride possible, multiple times.  No lines, no waiting, no time to even catch your breath when you climb four flights of stairs.  No sunburns, no sweating, no standing on a crowded staircase for forty-five minutes to enjoy a 25 second ride (yes I did time some of them!)

Bathrooms and dressing rooms that were still clean and dry!  Our choice of picnic tables, lounge chairs, and life jackets for the wave pool.  When we finally decided to change and leave, our car was waiting by the door like we had our own chauffeur.  We drove home exhausted, thoroughly enjoying everything the water park could offer and not minding a few rain drops to do so!

I share my best kept secret reluctantly, as I do not want an onslaught of bathers running out to my water park the next time it rains.  We are however outgrowing these parks a bit and I feel it is my duty as an expert water park participant to share my vast knowledge on this topic.  I hope you find it helpful and let me know if you try it… you won’t be a Griswold!

PS For my New England AAA friends, you can save $8.00 a ticket if you are a member.  A quick stop on our way saved us $40.00!

Can You Sing!?

SUMMERSTARHEADER(click here and vote for #42)

Can you Sing!?

No, no I cannot sing and I really wish you would stop asking.   I’ve clicked on you at least a thousand times in the last five days and you continue to ask the same the question….Can you Sing!?  I couldn’t sing “vote” five days ago and I still cannot sing today.  But I can vote and voting is what I’ve been doing for the last five days virtually non-stop!  “vote”

You see, my eldest entered a singing contest that is really a popularity contest and then it is an actual singing contest. The top twelve vote getters are granted the opportunity to sing on the big stage at our local county fair.  When I asked my daughter what number entrant she was, she answered #42!  “vote”

#42 really?  We have to climb 30 spots for you to even get in this thing? “vote”  And so it started, quietly at first and then we were addicted no I think the accurate term here is obsessed.  We started to involve family and friends, we are using kindles, iPods, laptops, desktops, and phones.  Promoting with messages, email, facebook posts, pictures, and now shamelessly a blog post.  “vote”

I have voted in every room of the house, while brushing my teeth and watching a movie.  My kids and I went to the946248_631332966891753_1947997556_n library and I slid between empty computer seats with the website up on all and voted.  We have voted at 2:00 am and 10 pm and all times in between.  “vote”

So here we are, two and a half days of voting left to go.  Currently tied for twelfth place (or 11th depending on the moment in time).  We have learned so much about on-line contest the most important of which is to NEVER do it again!

But once you are in it, you really have to be all in so hence a post on my “business” page. I should be working on the book, posting interesting content, making new memes and getting the 52 TO DO blog off the ground.  Instead, I “vote” (and yes each of these red votes are me stopping while writing to vote!) am obsessively, voting at least until Thursday at 5:30 pm at which point we will either be headed to the big stage or sadly not…

A couple of things we have learned about trying to “win” an on-line voting contest:

– shameless plugs on all of your social media

– ask people to please share not just vote

– disable cookies on your internet browsers and repeat voting quickly

– don’t be shy

– yes it can become obsessive  “vote”

– be pleasantly surprised by the kindness of strangers!

So if you are so inclined, whether or not you can sing, please click on the banner at the top of this post and vote for my daughter #42!  We would be most grateful.  The very best part of this past five days is the helpful voting and sharing from total strangers.

How do you yell at yourself?

all pictures new camera up to May 2009 058While I see glimpses of myself in all of my children… I have one who is the epitome of all the stupid, not funny, ridiculous things that I ever did or said while growing up.  He is me.

Like the “cobbler’s children having no shoes”, it is even more embarrassing as a parent to also be an educator when the principal calls.  And, not just me, my husband, my mother, my grandfather, his grandfather… I think you get the picture, a family chalk full of educators.

Seventh grade has been a very long year in my house, with all the antics that twin seventh grade boys can bring.  Our school year has 12 more days, yet we couldn’t make it without receiving a detention for excessive laughing during a presentation. Apparently the culprit to the giggle fit was a “pet rock”.  I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.

Last month, I chaperoned a band trip to another school.  While waiting in the field before entering the competition gym, I noticed a tether ball hanging by its pole, just begging to be whacked.  Not two minutes later, my son bursts out of the group to run over and whack the ball.  Of course, being him, the Band Director had just turned around to see my son’s instrument in the grass and the ball careening through the air.  Once reprimanded, my son returned to the group.

I was left thinking, “he is just so me”.  I wanted to whack the tether ball and seriously contemplated doing so.  I guess it is the 30 plus years I have on his maturity that stopped me before taking such action.

His explanation for the detention was a “laughing fit that I just couldn’t stop”….”just like being in church and you can’t hold it in”.  I know that feeling and it is personally one of my favorites, laughing so hard you cry ~ now that’s a good time.

So when I sit down to parent my son, I feel as though I am looking straight at a frighteningly familiar person, a small version of me.  I struggle to parent myself, we have done the time and place lecture, the being respectful lecture, removed privileges and even grounded him from the semi-formal dance last week.

I am thankful that he is at heart a really “good” kid, I’m just not sure we are going to make it to adulthood when the maturity button will kick in when necessary and he will look forward to excessive talking and laughing that is acceptable and enjoyable in the adult world.

Top Ten Earbud Rules for Teenagers!

Let’s face it, ear buds have become the bane of many a parent’s existence for too many reasons to possibly state. This is the top ten list for acceptable and non-acceptable earbud behavior shared with the teenagers that reside in my house.  It includes but is certainly not limited to the following:

1)  Earbuds will not be worn at any meal, whether served at the table, at the counter or especially in a restaurant (we want to at least appear to the general public that we can converse like normal human beings).

2)  In conversation with any adult, you will remove both earbuds (not just one while you keep tuned in to whatever song you are listening to).  If you did not hear the opening line of the conversation, the appropriate response is “I’m sorry would you repeat that” not “Huh” or “What” as if you just crawled out of a cave for your first human conversation.

3)  I should NOT hear what you are listening to when you are wearing your earbuds!

4)  No earbuds at work!  The person that is paying you has a right to have your full and undivided attention to whatever it is that you are supposed to be doing, even if said activity does not involve hearing.  No matter how you slice it, if you are working with ear buds stuck in your ears, the natural and usually correct assumption is that you don’t give a damn about the job you are doing!

5)  There is NO good reason for your earbuds to be at school – why don’t you just ask for a detention!

6)  You may use your earbuds in the car for a long ride during which you may prefer your own music to my choice of radio station.  If however, I pick you up for one of our numerous rides about our small town, then you may not plug yourself into your preferred device and tune me out.  I am not your chauffeur and it will not kill you to make polite conversation until you are old enough to drive yourself where you need to go!

7) You may NOT borrow my earbuds because you have lost or broken your own.

8) This list applies to your “BEATS” as well!

9)  Do not pretend that you cannot hear me when I call your name.

10)  Last but certainly not least.  Earbuds are not appropriate at church, during the national anthem or pledge of allegiance, at a funeral or wake, during classes, visiting a relative in the hospital, or in the shower and I reserve the right to add to this list!

Spanglish – “No Space Between US!”

Spanglish quote

I love the unexpected.  I especially love when life gives you a moment in time that is so truly ordinary and void of expectation and suddenly (or even slowly) it turns into a pivotal moment.  An aha moment if you will, a moment of clarity and understanding.

Now, I never could have anticipated being thankful for the nasty cold virus that descended upon my house this past Spring.  As it made its way through the house, I suddenly found myself home on the couch with my teenage daughter, a shared box of tissues between us.

TV remote in hand, we found the movie Spanglish about to start.  I knew that I had seen it before but honestly my recollection of movies is sad at best.  I remember saying something like, let’s watch it, I think it’s pretty good or at least funny.  (A little sidebar from this post.  If you have not seen this movie I highly recommend it.  As a middle age parent, I think I related to every character at some point, even the drunken grandmother.  I included the trailer at the bottom of this post…let me know what you think.)

By the end of the movie the tissues were for more than the runny noses.  You see the end of the movie is a seen between a teenage daughter fighting fiercely for her independence and friendships all while she tries to shame  her mother by screaming at her on the way to their bus stop.  When the mother tries to speak to her daughter at the bus stop, the daughter stops her by saying “I need space.” The aha moment for me was the response from her mother when she says, “There is no space between us!”

The movie is narrated by the daughter as she writes her admission essay for college.  In the end she writes about “being her mother’s daughter ~ there is no space between us.”

At first I struggled with the concept because as a parent we worry about our children’s development and independence, “when to push them… when to back them”. If there is “no space between us” then does that mean she is not her own person?  Is she not living her own life, not mine?”

It has been several months since I saw the movie and have mulled over its message.  I am proud to be my mother’s daughter with all her strengths and her weaknesses, it is her blood that courses through my veins and I am proud.  I am not a perfect mother but it is my blood (sweat and tears) that courses through my children’s veins and for that, I am proud.   “No space between us ~ I am my mother’s daughter”, I thought that this was wrong, until I realized it was so right.

I would like to thank the cold that put life on hold and allowed me to watch this movie.  More importantly, I am grateful to have watched it with my daughter for whom I am absolutely certain, no matter where life takes her, there will be no space between us.