My parents stopped by for a visit this afternoon. They live about 30 minutes from us and it’s always a treat when they come over. Today they brought their three Schnauzer dogs to “visit” my one. So, it was a rowdy treat.

After they left, my five year old found me reading in my big comfy chair.

“Mom, can I ask you a question?”


“Do GaGa and Pawpaw have any children?”

I tried so hard not to laugh.

I shook my head yes.

“Who are they?” she was totally serious.

I raised my hand.

And if she had been a cartoon character, a LIGHTBULB would have appeared over her head.

“Oh, that’s why they like you so much.”


I’m gonna need her to stay 5 years old forever.

Warning: This Post Contains Bad Words

I buckled my little girl in her seat and closed the van door.

“Where we going Mommy?” she asked, as I backed out of our driveway.

“We are going to wash and vacuum our stinky van!”

She didn’t answer.

I looked in the rearview mirror at her little face deep in thought.

And then she said, “Yep, it sure smells like cr*p in here.”

Y’all. I nearly had a wreck.

“What did you say?” I said s-l-o-w-l-y.

And so she said it again.

“Honey, that is a very bad word,” I said disapprovingly.

“Which one?” she asked innocently.

I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to find out where she heard it. It’s not something we normally say. I didn’t make much progress and tried to turn it into a teachable moment.

But it was also hard not to replay the moment over and over in my mind. It made me laugh every time (secretly, of course). It was just so unexpected.

Later that day, my oldest and I were alone in the car and I told her what happened. Except I said, “Your sister said a bad word today. You will never believe what she said.”

But only the next part didn’t go like I planned.

Because my nearly 12 year old said, “Did she say @!&*#?”


And I nearly had my second wreck of the day.

“Um, No, she didn’t. WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT WORD?”

She nervously laughed. I joined her. Nervously.

“Mom, I go to public school. You can try and shield us from all the bad things in the world, but we are going to be exposed to things that are worldly. We know right from wrong. I’ve never said that word. It was just a guess.”

And then we both giggled. For real this time. My child is so wise and her words were true. I tend to overreact about things like “bad words.” It was good to just chill and learn from my kids.

Later that night, my little one said, “Mom, remember when I said that word today?”

I waited.

“I can’t remember what it was,” she sighed.


“I know! Will you tell me all the bad words you know so I can remember?”

Clearly I have my work cut out.


I’m Sensing a Theme Here

I was nearly done getting ready in the bathroom. I was just finishing up my makeup before I tackled errands and doctor appointments with my kids. My 4 year old was playing next to me and decided to offer me an impromptu dance.

I watched from the corner of eye and applauded at all the right places.

“I think that deserves a kiss!” I said of her unique improvisational dance.

She closed her eyes, leaned in and puckered.


Before I could turn around, she put her hands over her mouth.

“That was a prickly kiss!” she said.

“Oh, did I shock you?” I questioned.

“No, it was just your mustache.”

Botox and now this?

I’m sensing a theme here.

And Now, I’d Like to Talk About Rodents

My kids love animals. Pets, to be precise.

They would have every species living in our home if they were allowed. They are not allowed. I’m not THAT mom. Much to their disappointment.

We have a dog, which is technically the kids but she loves me (secret: I love her, too). After Hurricane Ike devastated our part of Texas a few years ago, we adopted a cat (named Ike) because hundreds were going to be destroyed. He’s technically theirs too, but loves my hubby.

So, we quenched their pet-loving obsession with fish a few years ago.

Turns out fish are a temporary fix.

The kids have been campaigning HARD for hamsters for several years now. I don’t do rodents, so the answer has been obvious. But they persisted. My oldest started wearing me down by saving her money, talking about being responsible, growing up, yada yada yada….

For a year now, I’ve been saying, “maybe after we get back from Africa we can talk about a hamster.”

Guess what? We’re back from Africa.

My daughter finally had enough money saved (thanks to a big clearance at Petsmart. Sheesh.) I told her when she returned from visiting her grandparents we’d do the deed.

Meanwhile, my other two were chomping at the bit for their own rodent. They talked about pooling birthday money together. Plus, the grandparents got involved by offering odd jobs.

Clearly, there was a conspiracy to make me hold a rodent.

Last week, my mom’s friend called and heard we were looking for a hamster and asked us to take her beloved miniature hamster (with cage, food, accessories). Great, now the world is against me.

Then some hamster drama happened, but I will spare you details. It’s really a long story that ends with every kid in my house owning their very own hamster.

So, let’s review: We went from no hamster (not going to happen-ever) to owning THREE in a week.

God does provide (according to my kids).

I like to think He is wanting to stretch me spiritually.

And also to check this off the proverbial parenting list.

If I close one eye and tilt my head, they are kinda cute.

In a rodent-kind of way.

But I’m still not going to hold one.

P.S. Turns out getting your kids a hamster makes you MOM OF THE YEAR (for the week, at least). Tell me your rodent story…. Yes, I had two “sister” hamsters as a kid that turned out to be a boy and girl and we woke up one day to 12 babies. And then the mom started eating them. I kid you not.

I Miss These Mugs

Just like *that* my older kids are old enough to spend an entire week at my in-laws farm– hundreds of miles away from me.

In my heart, they aren’t nearly 12 and 10 years old, searching for independence, growing up and away from me with each passing day …

I will always see them like this:

I might be a writer, blogger, non-profiteer…but the best job (and hardest) I’ve ever had—-is being a mom.

I miss my kids and will be so happy to get them home this weekend!

How long have you spent away from your kids?

P.S. Seven days is too long.

Taking Care of Business

My third grade son has spent a fair amount of time learning about economics in school this year. During the first semester, they created a product as a class and had “Market Day” to sell their item to the other classes who did the same. They learned the art of an advertising campaign, pricing and about product demand.

His class is rewarded with “bucks” for doing their class “jobs”, turning in homework, outstanding behavior, etc. They have to pay weekly class “taxes”, but can spend their remaining “money” on items out of the Treasure Box (orange pencil grippers are HOT) or save them for “No Homework” and “Extra Computer Time” coupons.

[Remember, the “air quote” is your friend].

My son is a spender.

(Christmas money from Grandma that didn’t get to meet his wallet).

He has three orange pencil grippers. I know this because I vacuumed up one and saw our black cat batting another one around the house. Several times this year, he has borrowed Bucks from friends just to pay his taxes. I encouraged him to save and plan ahead, but mostly, I’ve let him learn the hard way. (Plus, I’ve been busy trying not to suck up orange grippers with the vacuum).

The unit ended with the semester in early January.

But my son was just getting started.

He came home last week and said, “Mom, I’m starting a biz. You know, a business.”


Then he explained: “Some kids are cleaning desks for extra Bucks, others are selling erasers. I’m thinking bigger. Since those orange pencil grips are 20 Bucks in the treasure box. I’m selling mine for 10 to get startup money for my big idea.”

Um, okay. Donald Trump.

“I used the money to hire a couple of friends to advertise for me, you know to get the word out. I talked to my teacher and she said I could sell my leftover Lego necklaces on Fridays.  I’m gonna put everyone out of business.”

KAPOW. (I wasn’t sure if he should be grounded or commended since this was new territory for me).

Who was this 68 pound, 8 year old entrepreneur?

When I picked up my son from school on Friday, the first thing I noticed were more than a dozen or so kids wearing familiar Lego necklaces. I could see my son’s smile before I saw him.

“Mom, I sold OUT in 5 minutes. I have loads of money, wads and wads of Bucks. Plus, I’m not in debt anymore,” he said excitedly. “I’m going to come up with a new product.”

He had me at debt. What??

“I told you Mom, I’m taking care of business.”

Air quotes.


Dear Claire,

Tomorrow you turn 11 years old. ELEVEN! You are more young lady than little girl. With feet the size of mine, shoulders nearly reaching. You borrow my shoes, scarves, jewelry. You steal my heart.

Some days it’s a tug-o-war relationship. Me pulling, you pushing. But we are holding on-together. Learning and growing–I am learning on you, my oldest. You are growing on me, this girl-turned young woman.

You tell me of your friends and their iPhones and Kindle Readers. I hear longing in your voice of this not-too-distant grown up world. I whisper in your ear, “Is it a grown up toy like this you want for birthday number eleven?”

I bite the inside of my lip.  I am afraid of the answer. I feel the pulling.

Your dark wide eyes stare. “No, do you know what I really want this year?”

This is big. I can feel it.

I think of the tiny silver flute earrings and  gel pens and post-it notes, hidden, waiting for you. I think of the empty place, waiting for me to fill.

“I want a doll house. The grand kind you build from the ground up. Where you paper the walls and hang tiny fixtures. And I want to build it with you and Dad,” she says excitedly.

And it was all I could do not to explode with joy. YES! The little girl in you pushed to the surface, during this year, the one of the in-between.


We will build a grand miniature world. Together.

And in my heart, I will remember your bright eyes and keep you small forever.