Dinner Conversations Not for the Faint of Heart

The other night, we sat as a family having supper and discussing our days. It’s the typical dinnertime routine in our house. Usually, we discuss the best parts of our days. I’d watched a video earlier in the week where TobyMac talked about asking his kids, “What did you see God in today?” So, we discussed that as well. And then things got dark.

We showed our kids a video about the dangers of meeting strangers online. It’s basically a scenario set up by a dude who runs a Reality TV show on the web. He’s worked out a situation with the parents of preteen girls to convince these girls online that he’s actually a teenage boy, and then ultimately make a plan to meet up. The girls have no idea he’s actually much older. So, they of course – stupidly – agree to meet him. The parents are always with him when they meet up and it typically ends with the parents screaming in disbelief at their daughter and the daughter, in turn, sobbing and apologizing.

After we watched this video, we asked our kids what they thought of it. What was the problem with meeting someone you don’t know? We talked about stranger danger – but then we mentioned what could have happened to these girls. The list was long – and terrifying: abduction, injury, murder and rape. Rape was an interesting subject to explain. They asked me what it meant and then one of my kids defined it for us: “doing sex to someone.” Well, yes, but… We explained further that it meant to force someone to do something without them saying okay first. I’m sure even that definition could use some help.

Man, dinner was not quite what I was expecting that evening. Sometimes the atypical conversations are what you need to break routines and really get to the heart of some serious life lessons. Especially considering our typical dinnertime conversation somehow circles back to farts.


Passing On Our Fears




Open water


They are all the focus of horror movies (well, I’m not sure about the leeches one, but still…) and they are all the center of my nightmares. My kids know I hate clowns. They know, because I have had some sort of reaction around them when encountering one. Every year, our community has this big indoor trick or treat event. And every year, there are freaking clowns wandering around to eat greet our kids. And every time I see them coming, I make an NFL-worthy swerve and run. (I am not a sports person. I am sure there is a term for this kind of play.) While I have tried to not let my children see my fears getting the best of me, there are just times when I can’t avoid it.  But, I’ve tried really hard to not show them how much it impacts me.

Last month, I was down visiting my brother in Michigan. We all went out on his boat into Lake Michigan for a sunset cruise. It was breathtaking – the gorgeous colors of the sun reflecting off the water. They all jumped in. All of them but me. Because I was afraid of the water. I’m not the best swimmer and there’s just something about open water that gives me the heebie jeebies. Then, my brother told me I really should get in. And I started thinking about it. I was scared. Of what, exactly? My brother and nieces were all in the water. If I was really concerned that this was a dangerous situation, wouldn’t I be stepping up and saying something to protect them? No. I would not. Because my fear was exactly that, MY fear. And, I was letting it get the best of me. So, I took a baby step. I asked my brother to jump with me. And to hold my hand. I’m a 35-year-old woman. But, man, that really made the difference. We held hands, we neared the edge of the boat, we counted to three, (I had a floatie tube to hold on to. You gotta conquer your fears, but every little bit helps!) and we jumped. When I hit the water, I kept dropping down, down, down. And then, buoyancy kicked in and I started rising up, up, up. That process seemed to take a lot longer, and just about the time I thought I was never going to reach the surface, I finally did. I took a big gasp of air. My brother was saying something about the water being “magical.” I started doggy-paddling my way to the boat ladder while saying, “it’s. not. magical.” But, it kinda was. I wish I would have been able to get past my fears enough to stay in the water longer and enjoy the moment. But, I am now enjoying the memory of jumping. Of just doing it. Of pushing past my fears to make a choice to experience something in life. And that, that is what I want my kids to see and learn from me. Not to be afraid of clowns or sharks, but to push past those fears and not let fear be the master of your life.

Who wants a relaxing lunch?

Remember lunch breaks? When we were kids, it meant lining up on those cafeteria tables with your best buddies – trading an orange for a pudding cup. In high school, it was getting in your car and leaving campus to buy a slice of pizza in town, just because you could. In college, it was cramming for a test with your classmates while wolfing down a burrito. After graduation and in my first job, it was lunching with coworkers at new restaurants. And then there were kids.

At first, when I was pregnant, my lunch break turned into a time when I drove home and laid on my left side. Then, when my daughter arrived, lunch became me rushing to her day care to nurse her for a few precious minutes before rushing back to work.

When you’re a stay at home mom, lunch breaks pretty much mean you turn into a short order cook – serving up the masses and, if you’re lucky, grabbing a leftover chicken nugget off your child’s plate. Good luck ever having a meal sitting down, served the proper temperature and uninterrupted by a child demanding you wipe their butt.

When you work outside of the home, lunch breaks turn into this hybrid event of “get everything you can’t do after business hours done in 45 minutes while also cramming food in your face.” It might be meeting with a teacher or dropping off a payment at the bank. Or, it could be my lunch today: driving to Lenscrafters to beg them to repair my 9 year old’s glasses after what appears to have been a Tiger fight gone bad.

This kind of hybrid lunch seems to be a larger trend – with most moms I know turning a few lunch breaks a week into a marathon errand run. Is it that our lives have gotten so chaotic that we now must multi-task all the time? While I wouldn’t change my life for anything, I do occasionally long for the days when my friends and I would pile in my truck and speed to town to exchange $3 for a slice of pizza, a soda and a carefree lunch where all we worried about was getting back to school before the bell rang.

Let’s Play Mommy Bingo!

When was the last time you went out with the girls? No kids. No husbands. Just a moms night out. A friend recently had such an event with several girlfriends and they found themselves discussing all the elements of going out, sans kids. They talked about how you should get bonus points for things like not wearing yoga pants. And from there – the idea of Mommy Bingo was born. And so, I present to you the official Mommy Bingo game board. Print and take this with you on your next moms night out. See how many squares you can fill. Compete with your fellow mommies and see who can get five in a row first. You’ll notice there are bonus squares for wearing matching bra and panties. That better be a bonus square! The chances of that happening are like that of spotting a leprechaun riding a unicorn. And now you know too much about my underwear drawer…

Mommy Bingo

Summer Brain Drain

My soon-to-be 4th grader has a handwriting journal he’s supposed to be doing every day this summer. There’s a question prompt for each day – you know, things like, “If I had a super power, it would be….” Children’s abilities to find a way to shorten an exercise like this never cease to amaze me. Like, “My favorite color is_______ because…….” And the child responds with, “My favorite color is red because it rocks.” The end. No more.

Meanwhile, my soon-to-be kindergartener comes home from preschool typically lamenting the fact that he’s had to work on “projects” – aka, writing his name, coloring shapes, etc. Pretty much all the prep-work for kindergarten. If he hates it now…

And my soon-to-be 7th grader is happy to just read, which I think is great. She brought home a book she was given at the library that seemed a little dark to me. And yet, we’re loving reading it together.

I’m really trying not to overload them with too much. BUT, I’m also wanting to keep my kids on track and prevent summer brain drain. I found some useful worksheets online. http://www.education.com/worksheets/all/ Oh yes, I’m sure my kids will be just loving me for it. I at least want to make sure to keep my 4th grader’s handwriting improving. As of now, it’s looking like it’ll head down the path mine took – serial killer/doctor signature/hieroglyphics.

Do you make your kids do homework over the summer? Oh, and how many of you are already back to school? I just saw a friend post that her daughter started her first day back today. It’s still July!

I Hate Hitting

My youngest son has a new dirty habit: hitting. And here’s the fun part – I’m his only victim. When he gets mad, really mad he lashes out. I’ve found it’s the small things that set him off:

  • Don’t let him hang out in the arcade at the movie theater
  • Didn’t give him food fast enough when he asked for it
  • Refused to read a third book at bedtime
  • Won’t allow him to stay home alone instead of going to preschool
  • Made him put his shirt away

Any one of these infractions could (and have) lead to hitting, slapping and/or choking. And yet, again, it’s only me he does this to. Apparently this is a fairly common problem for moms out there – enough so that I found a variety of websites offering advice – everything from, “help her understand why she is getting angry” to “notice when your child is doing something positive, and reward the good behavior” to “look for patterns.”

Most of these sites talk about ways to prevent temper tantrums and/or hitting – but few actually give you a play by-play of what you should do during the actual act of violence. I think I need something more like “karate for kindergarten moms” or something like that. Although, I must say I did find some nuggets of advice on dealing with an actual attack – primarily, take them to timeout or lower your voice (reminds me of that meme about whispering to your child and how much scarier that is than yelling at them.)

Do your kids hit you? How did you get the abuse to stop?

Top 10 Alarming Calls From Your Kids

My two older kids are staying home by themselves today. They’ve been checking in with me a lot, all the time, so much my phone’s battery is dropping faster than a dollar bill at a strip club regularly. Most of the time it’s with questions like, “Can I go out and play?” or “What’s (insert friend’s name here) phone number?” and even the question-turned-tattle “How many times do I have to vacuum the floor because my big sister keeps saying I have to do it three times!” Yet, sometimes the calls I get from them end with me scratching my head and wondering what’s the rest of the story and do I need to come home right now?

And so, I bring you – the Top 10 Alarming Calls From Your Kids:

10. “I finished the laundry. Now all your clothes fit me, Mom!”

9. “Don’t worry about making dinner, Mom. We’ve got it covered.”

8. “How do I get the microwave to stop sparking?”

7.  “The dog just ate something funny but it’s okay because he threw it up and now he’s being really quiet.”

6.  “You wanted me to get my hair cut. Wait ’til you see it!”

5. “What time did you say you’d be home?” (Followed by a hushed voice in the background of the other sibling saying “We’ll clean it up before she gets here and she’ll never know.”)

4. “What kind of snacks do bears like?”

3. “Mom, where do we keep the first aid kit?” <— an actual question from my son today who wanted to know, not because someone was hurt but because he and his sister wanted to reorganize it. What?!

2. “That stuff in the bottle under the sink tastes gross.”

1. “Should I answer the door for the man with the weird bushy beard?”


Any more you’d like to add to the list?

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