Category Archives: living better

The Truth of About “Going Screen-Free” this Summer!

time_unplug_children_summerI wish I could say it was a great epiphany or the culmination of the study of great parenting journals that helped me arrive at the decision to go screen-free for the summer.  No, it was nothing like that at all, it was an honest to goodness, full-blown, hissy fit. One of those not to be proud of parenting moments wherein you make a loud, impactful declaration from which you cannot back down.  Such is the birth of our screen free summers! Continue reading


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.

Continue reading

All Aboard! Setting out to see “the States”

It’s official, we are setting out to see the states!  The United States ~ the country we call home.1017615_10152101119519014_1702857193_n

After much deliberation and debate we have concluded that the best way for this family of five to see the states is by …. wait for it… TRAIN!  Thirty days, 12 segments and as many contiguous states that we can cram into one trip!  (For more information, click here AMTRAK USA RAIL PASS).

How did we arrive at this decision you might ask?  Well, it goes something like this…. I have always wanted to travel cross country and I anticipated that I would be doing it like the Griswolds (if you are unfamiliar check the video reference in our last camping trip post).  The Griswolds less the dead grandmother on the roof!

Seriously, my vision involved renting an RV and spending a summer month leisurely riding across America with my family.  I’ll admit I’m an optimist and an adventure seeker, but thankfully, I also possess a very practical and realistic mindset.  The idealistic version in my head collided with reality and produced these frightening truths about my family’s ability to drive across country together:

1)  I actually do not like to drive ~ I am a great passenger!

2)  My family loves each other but let’s face it my teenage children do not get along like the Brady Bunch.

3) Our marriage like most marriages has its strengths, however, after 2 decades together I am quite certain that getting lost while driving in a new city is not one that brings out the best in us.

4) The idea of driving a large RV, repeatedly parking and setting up in campsites, and copious amounts of gasoline all worked against this once dreamed of idea.

Enter the train plan.  Many years ago I traveled through Europe on a Eurail Train Pass and it was the time of my life.  A few google searches later and I stumbled upon the Amtrak multi-city pass.  For Christmas we surprised our children with the plan and gave them their first assignment, to choose the one city they can’t miss on our trip.  (Our only caveat was to start 10-12 hours outside of the northeast since that is within driving distance of our home and can be saved for a later adventure).

Now I need your help, my fellow bloggers and followers.  What advice can you share about train travel?  Where should we go?  What cities, places, adventures should not be missed on our next great adventure?  Any and all suggestions are most welcome!

I write the blog that no one reads…(sung to Barry Manilow’s I write the songs)

Do you ever feel like you write and write with absolutely no certainty that anyone is actually reading any of it?  As I skimmed my latest “stats” I began singing the song “I write the blog that no one reads…” When my son asked me if that is an actual song, I googled the following for those of you who are too young to remember Mr. Manilow’s big hit! (15)

After playing the song for him, I reworked the lyrics to fit my blog writing to date!  I hope you enjoy my new song and if you read this, then let me know, perhaps I will be able to sing a different tune in 2014!

I Write the Blog Lyrics:
I’ve been writing for a year,
And I wrote my very first blog.
I hit publish and waited anxiously
I am writer
And I write a blog.

I write the blog that no one reads,
I write the blog of spammers and money schemes.
I write the blogs with stats that make me cry,
I write a blog, I write a blog….

Sing it with me now and if you are singing, consider giving me a Like or a Comment so I know I’m not singing alone!

Cheers! Happy 2014  and I hope you are writing the blog that everyone reads!

More to love about Facebook than not!

facebook-like-button-takes-over-share-button-functionality-28804238feWe have all heard the stories, the scams, the bullying, the loss of time in the great black hole that is social media.  I too, worry about the time I spend on-line and of course monitor my children constantly.  There is the issue of FOMO and well there are also the very annoying posts.  Certainly nothing is perfect, and while we are so often bombarded with criticisms for how we choose to spend our time, it occurred to me this week that I truly enjoy being on Facebook.  There I said it,  I’m confessing to a guilty pleasure.

Facebook is my social media of choice, not because I think its better than any other, it just works for me and really I am too lazy and overwhelmed to learn a new one. (Here are my thoughts on Twitter)

Here is just a sample of my Facebook activity…

– Sent a friend a message about Mallomars 100th birthday
– Messaged my daughter that it was snowing and that I was out sledding
– Shared a video from this weeks Scandal show, featuring of all people Phoebe from Friends!
-Told my college roommates that I blasted our getting ready to go out tape “Don Dixon” for my kids this weekend… (anyone heard of him???)
– Helped our neighbors locate their lost dog
– Saw a beautiful picture of a former co-workers new baby
– Posted a picture of my 75lb lap dog sitting on my daughter
– Talked to (okay multiple messages) my husband’s cousin about buying an electric guitar for my son’s Christmas present
– Did some research for a book I’m writing and posted blogs to groups across the country and around the world.
– Creeped on _____ (I’m not saying who, that would be really creepy).
– Memorized a picture of some hot chocolate Santa pops
– Gave some advice on mothering multiples
– Was brought to tears by multiple stories and posts
– Laughed out loud several times!

In one hour, I learned, I laughed, I cried, I connected, I supported, I helped, I shared, and I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing… now this can’t be all bad…

Do you live better with Facebook?


Lessons Learned and Gratitude Month

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.

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.