Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Back!

Hello Hello!
I'm finally back at it. It's been few months since I last updated my blog. Can you believe 2 months have gone by!?! It's great to be back. We're looking for a house and going thru the whole pre-approval and financing process. Ugh. Everytime I think we have it under control something else pops up. Kinda like Financial Whack-A-Mole. So keep your fingers crossed and send positive thoughts my way.
Kisses! Heather

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Total Drama Tuesday

The first high school play of the year starts next weekend, and I couldn't be happier. The prep just doesn't stop! Girlie has been swamped with sets and lights for the past two weeks. I'm not thrilled as this has taken a lot of her personal time as well as homework/study time. I had to set some limits today because she was up until midnight last night trying to finish her homework. That's a big No-Go for me.

Does your teen cram his/her schedule full of extra-curricular activities?
How do you deal with it?
Do you set limits?

I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Dressed up & hamming it up for the first choir concert of the year.

Matching Wits

This is a guest post from my sister, Casey. She writes the funniest stories about her twin 6 year olds. Check this one out, it had me rolling!

This is why you should never try to match wits with a child.

Me: Katie, quit bouncing on my bed.

Katie: I'm just bending my knees up and down really fast. Your bed is the one bouncing me.

Me: I...wha...huh? NO!

I think kids are so great at arguing because there is no argument too ridiculous or implausible that they won't give it a try. They simply have no shame.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I needed a laugh and here it is!

Homecoming Havoc

Ah, the parties of youth. And the craziness of getting them out the door. Girly left for her homecoming dance a few hours ago. I've been on the couch recovering from the whirlwind preparations. Even though I asked her to get everything prepared a day in advance, we still had all the last minute OMGs. Her pantyhose had a run in them. The black bra she needed for her dress was nowhere to be found. The eye shadow is MIA.

So we ran to WalMart, my second home, to gather all the supplies. We got back just in time to throw everything on and slap on some makeup. Then, she remembered that she needed to have her school i.d. with her. After much searching, we located that in her back pack, where it is supposed to be anyway, and the first place she was supposed to look. Ugh!

I have a little time to myself before curfew arrives and she (better!) comes home. Yah!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Four Eyes" Emergency

Ugh. Could my week get any worse? I guess there's no way but up from here.

On top of all the school expenses, I had to get new frames for my glasses. Why is fate treating me like money just falls out my ass when I walk? It all started last night when I stepped out of the shower. I picked up my glasses and they just fell apart in my hands. Seriously! Not joking. They just broke in the middle, the part that goes across the bridge of the nose. The split was so "clean" that I couldn't even glue them together.

I am totally blind without my glasses. So, how do I drive to the eye doctor if I can't see? I tried to tape the glasses back together, but that didn't work. My daughter was able to find her old frames. My lenses were too small to fit, so I had to put tape around the lenses to get them to stay in. I looked like a total freak, but at least I could drive. I felt so self-conscious because I looked like a dork. I didn't even want to leave the house, I hated the thought of people laughing at me. But I had to suck it up if I was to get this fixed. I told myself that people wouldn't even notice my glasses while I was in my car since they'd surely have their eyes on the road. Wrong! At the very first stoplight I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a car full of teenagers pointing and laughing at me. I sunk down in my seat. Ugh.

When I finally get to the optician, I figure my troubles are over. I don't have time (or money) for an eye exam, but I thought it should be easy to find a pair of glasses that I could pop my lenses into. Wrong again. My lenses are shaped for "cat's eye" frames, which was very popular a few years ago. Obviously the fashions have changed. Fashions change, sure, but I never thought eye glass frames would change so dramatically. We looked thru over two hundred, yes, 200 (!) frames without finding a match. The new frame fashion is flat on the side, where mine are slightly pointed.

After an hour of searching we were able to find one pair that worked. My lenses don't fit exactly, there are two very small open areas by my nose and by the ear. It really is very small, hardly noticeable, so this will work until I have time and money for an eye exam and new lenses. Since I haven't had new frames for awhile, our insurance covered most of the expense, leaving a balance of less than $30. Cool.

Hopefully, nothing else will go wrong this week, and I'll be able to get my new lenses. For now I'm just glad I can see. *sigh*

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday Social

This has been a rough week and I'm glad it's finally over. It's probably plain to see, since the Saturday Social is being posted on Sunday. *blush* I prefer to keep my blog light and funny, but I just can't be that today. I'm not feeling very humorous.
School expenses continue to pile up. I think I've written about this before. What happened to a free public education? Our mandatory school expenses have exceeded $500. Tuesday we have to pay another $40 for choir dress hemming, purchase several dozen cookies, and start collecting money for a fundraiser. The expenses have been such a strain on our budget. What really REALLY irks me is that money is being charged to us and we have to pay it. I feel like we're being held hostage.
What could be sadder than that? We are not a rich group of people. This year 49% of kids in our section of the school district qualified for free or reduced lunch prices. Dude! That's HALF of the student body! Our family applied, but we make too much money. WTF? We missed the "cut off" by $15. School lunches cost $2.50 but everything is served a'la carte. A'la carte! You can't just order a lunch. A $2.50 "standard" lunch. No, the kids have to go thru the line and order individual items. You can't just get a lunch. Even if my daughter orders just a few items and a drink it is never less than $3. So, our $15 per year over the cut-off that denies us reduced lunches, translates into $60 per month in lunch charges. I think the school should have to take our total income, subtract the cost of attending school, then calculate our reduced/free lunch eligibility.
Grr. Thanks for reading my rant. I'm going to crawl into bed and cry now.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!

How To Tuesday

How To Drive Your Teen Bonkers

Driving your teen bonkers is actually a very simple process since they have so many buttons to push. Since I've recently become the least "with it" person and the most embarrassing person in the whole world, I decided I'd work with that. Here are simple ways to clear a room of teens and get a little peace and quiet as an added bonus:

1. Mispronounce words.
My daughter is a big fan of Japanese cartoons called manga. It's "main ga." I pronounce it "mahn ga" and wait for the fireworks!
2. Refer to old names for current technology.
Instead of asking about my teen's PSP, I ask if she needs to recharge her Atari before we leave on our errands.
3. Ask why ninjas in cartoons are wearing orange jumpsuits when everybody knows ninjas wear black pajamas.
4. Reminisce about the days when vampires were dark, evil characters. Now they sparkle and have moussed hair.
5. Wait until their friends are at the house, then tell cute stories about your teen's childhood. Better yet, pictures!
6. Remind them to rewind the DVD before putting it back in the box.
7. Pepper your conversations with "lol" speak. Here's one of my favorites, "BTW, before you go out, that room better be clean."
8. Become a Facebook friend and post sweet notes on their wall.
9. Wear a geeky shirt, everywhere.
10. When they insist on going to the store with you, purchase something really embarrassing. Example: Hemorrhoid cream, and don't even try to hide it. You'll be shopping solo for awhile.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Safety Seminar #3

Please note: I have been collecting and reviewing vehicle safety tips to help my daughter as she works toward getting her driver's license. The information I share is from my own experience and research. I hope you find these tips useful and as a spark to learn even more about vehicle and driving safety.

Winter Driving
There are many things you can do to prepare for and improve your safety during winter weather. This subject will be presented in several parts. The first topic I'll cover is preparing your car for the winter and making a supply kit for your car.

Prepare your car:
Get a car tune-up concentrating on the following components
1. Tire condition: Check the tread quality. If needed replace or rotate your tires. When in doubt, switch 'em out. The money you invest in your tires is most likely less than repairs/deductibles if you do have an accident. Remember this: Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually touches the road (hopefully.) You can have every safety feature ever invented, but if you don't have good tires, what use are they?
2. Brakes and brake pads.
3. Anti-freeze. Not just water, which you might be able to get away with in the summer time.
4. Battery and connections.
5. Windshield wiper fluid with de-icing properties. It won't clear an inch of ice off your windshield, but it can be helpful if your windshield starts to ice up while you drive.
6. Windshield wiper blades. Cold weather can cause the rubber in older wipers to crack, leaving uncleared swaths on your windshield.
Note: This list is not meant to be comprehensive. Please ask your mechanic for guidance.

Prepare for roadside problems:
1. Shovel
2. Ice scraper
3. Brush or broom to clear snow
4. Jumper cables
5. Spare tire and equipment needed to change a flat tire. You might need this if you slide into a curb and "pop" a tire. Consider purchasing a "full-sized" tire rather than the usual "donut" spare tire. If the weather was bad enough to cause a problem with one of your tires, a small spare tire could be even worse.
6. Bag of salt, gravel, or kitty litter.
7. Warning flares, reflective markers, bright cloth or ribbons
8. Flashlight with spare batteries

Prepare a survival kit.
If you become stranded, these are some items you might need:
1. Water and/or nutrient drinks like Gatorade
2. Snack/energy bars
3. Vital medications if you have a condition that requires a constant blood level, such as insulin or aspirin. Accidents are very stressful and can exacerbate existing conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
4. Warm blankets. (Store these in a water-proof bag.)
5. Extra hats, gloves, scarves, socks and boots. It is important to change out of wet socks/shoes to prevent frostbite.
6. First aid kit. You'll need this if someone has been injured.

Prepare for accidents:
(Prevent accidents by avoiding driving in hazardous conditions, if at all possible. Check your local news for road closures and worsening weather.)
1. Disposable camera to document damage and surrounding elements like icy streets that could have contributed to the accident.
2. Current insurance card
3. Keep a credit card in your wallet that is just for emergencies. You'll most likely need one to pay for towing and other expenses that require "up-front" payment.
4. Paper and a pen to jot down information like drivers involved in the accident, witnesses, and police case numbers.
5. Safety items to mark your car (see Cold Weather Necessities)
6. Fully charge your cell phone before leaving the house.
7. Add contact numbers to your cell phone
a. Insurance agent
b. Towing company covered by your insurance
c. Repair shop covered by your insurance
d. Hospital or Urgent Care facility covered by your insurance
e. Your doctor
f. Work number in case the accident should delay or prevent you from going to work
g. Your children's school phone numbers
h. Someone who will be able to contact loved ones
i. Someone who will be able to pick up your children from school if you're delayed. (It's good to have at least two contact numbers, just in case you can't reach the first.)
j. A trusted neighbor who could meet your children at the bus stop if needed.

I hope this list helps you to prepare for emergencies. If you have any hint or tips to contribute, please leave a comment. And remember: Buckle Up!


Saturday Social for 9/26

The topic of today's Saturday Social is "What is your teen's favorite movie and why?"

Girly Girl's favorite movie is "District 9" because (in her words:)
"The commercials made me a bit worried about how the movie was going to be. I was worried that it would just make me confused like "Cloverfeild." But, I took a chance and it absolutely blew my mind. At the beginning it starts by giving you small bits of information. Piece by piece the story slowly came together and it actually made sense instead of just leaving you in the dark. District 9 shows how people are scared of things that they don't understand. It shows how stubborn people are to accept what things are. Instead off trying to understand it, they try to control it. If they can't control it, they kill it. They don't give a second thought about its humanity. Try picturing a normal person put in the place of a tortured and beaten alien. It's horrid and sad how people he once knew and loved immediately turn on him and trying to kill him. THAT'S why I loved District 9. It was deep and chaotic and it left you cheering on the character every step of the way, regardless of his changes. It honestly left us on the edge of our seats as it stepped ever closer to the climax. I would watch that movie everyday if I had the chance. "

Well there you have it, folks! My husband took Girly to see the movie at the theater. It sounds pretty good. I might have to rent this one.

Over The Top Award

My first award! I've been given the Over The Top Award by Sandy at Smart Cents Mom! Thanks Sandy!

There are the rules for the Over The Top Award:
Answer the following questions with one word only. (It's not as easy at you might think.)
Copy the questions and change the answers to suit you and pass it on to 6 of your favorite bloggers.

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Describe your hair? Dirty
3. Your mother? Nurse
4. Your father? Funny
5. Your favorite food? Spaghetti
6. Your dream last night? Scary
7. Your favorite drink? Coffee
8. Your dream/goal? Bachelors
9. What room are your in? Office
10. Your hobby? Crochet
11. Your fear? Poverty
12 Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Bed
14. Something you aren't? Boring
15. Muffins? Blueberry
16. Wish list item? Video-Camera
17. Where did you grow up? St. Charles
18. Last thing you did? Dishes
19. What are you wearing? Pajamas
20. Your TV? On
21. Your pets? Cats
22. Friends? Crazy
23. Your life? Comfortable
24. Your mood? Medicated
25. Missing someone? Brother
26. Your vehicle? Convertible
27. Something you're not wearing? Headband
27. Your favorite store? WalMart
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When was the last time you laughed? Lunch
31. Last time you cried? Morning
32. Your best friend? Sister
33. One place that you go to over and over? Kitchen
34. One person who emails you regularly? Sister
35. Favorite place to eat? Buffet

Now I'm passing this Award on to my six favorite bloggers. I don't know all of them personally, but I enjoy reading their blogs.

Organize With Sandy:
The Clan McLeod:
A Hen's Nest:
Me and Bella:
The Review Broads:
A Couch With A View:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September is National Safety Month

If you haven't noticed, I'm all about safety. Well, I'm not alone in that fact. September is National Safety Month. National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security. Preparing for an emergency is a four-pronged approach including:
1. Get a kit.
2. Make a plan.
3. Be informed.
4. Get involved.

Read more about the Ready Campaign at this link:

Wordless Wednesday (Continued)

My husband just forwarded more pics of Saturday's outing to the Japan Festival. Due to budget constraints, we were unable to take a summer vacation. I was really bummed, but our StayCation has been even better than I had anticipated. Today's outing was a school trip to the Natural History Museum. You'll see those pics next Wednesday. (Sorry the picture quality isn't all that great. My wish list includes a camera.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Kinda)

The Japan Festival in Overland Park, KS
Girly & a friend in the entrance way. (My husband is such a great photographer, huh?)

They had a great time. The festival was hosted at our local community college. I was surprised how many activities were available. It was amazing! There were musical concerts, martial arts demonstrations, so many things to do. We learned about Japanese Tea Ceremonies, language and culture. What made the Japan Festival truly fantastic was the number of volunteers. I'm so thankful that we could participate.

Upcoming festivals and events:

The Natural History Museum: Wednesday
The Renaissance Fair: This weekend
The Kansas City Motaku Anime Festival: October 24 & 25th

Stomping The Invisible Brake Pedal #5

Girly Girl had her first "inclement weather" driving experience yesterday. I had my life rush before my eyes at least twice. In all fairness, the fault was mine. I should have checked the local traffic report before we hit the road. And very nearly hit another car.

We discussed driving safety and checked the car. Then we headed to the main road that we've traveled a few times. At first, all was well. Then, all of a sudden, there were a million cars (give or take a few) entering the main road. I'm thinking, "Where are all these cars coming from?" The highway is about a mile away and parallels Antioch, one of our main roads. So there we were, be-boppin' along, when all this traffic came out of nowhere. Worse, people were driving like bats out of hell! What we didn't know was that the highway was backed up and people were exiting to use Antioch to get through town. Of course, people were in a hurry to make up for lost time and driving like complete jerks.

Poor Girly Girl. We were stuck in the middle lane with cars passing us on either side, cars riding our back bumper, people weaving thru lanes in front of us. It was awful. We couldn't get off the road! (Here's the scary part.) When we finally got a chance to exit the road into a parking lot, some guy in a huge SUV was smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot entrance! Girly tried to slow down, but we hydroplaned anyway, stopping just inches from his bumper.

He gave us a "gesture!" The nerve! When we finally pulled into a parking space, we were both near tears. How awful is that? We switched places and I drove us home. Poor Girly Girl. We wanted to practice again today, but it's raining, and I don't want to tempt fate. Or jerky drivers.

Safety Seminar #2

Please note: I have been collecting and reviewing vehicle and driving safety tips to help my daughter as she works toward getting her driver's license. The information I share is from my own experience and research. I hope you find these tips useful and as a spark to learn even more about vehicle safety.

Driving in the rain

Trajectory: Path of a projectile or other moving body through space.
hydroplaning: loss of steering or braking control when a layer of water prevents direct contact between a vehicle and the surface of the road.

Prepare for inclement weather:
1. Keep a clean, soft cloth in the glove box to wipe the inside of your windshield.
2. Keep your tires properly inflated. This will help provide traction and save you money on gas. (Really!)
3. Replace/Rotate tires as needed.
4. Check/Replace wiper blades as needed.
5. Keep windshield washer fluid filled. This is important if you happen to get stuck behind a large vehicle that may throw back dirt and mud.

Things to remember:
1. Before you head out into inclement weather, check the news. Watch for warnings, flood advisories, and traffic issues.
2. Take a look at your tires before you pull out of the driveway. Your tires are the only part of your car that actually touches the road. (Hopefully.) You can have every safety feature ever invented, but if you don't have good tires, those little wiper blades on your headlights won't make a difference.
3. Turn on your headlights. Not only will this increase your visibility, it will make your car more visible to other drivers.
4. Watch for road hazards. Rainy roadways are only part of the problem, high winds can blow obstructions such as tree branches into your path.
5. Slow down.
6. Keep a greater than usual distance between you and the car in front of you.
7. Watch for cars entering and exiting the road. Water tends to pool along the side of the road, increasing the risk that other drivers might hydroplane. Be ready to stop.
8. If your car begins to hydroplane, do NOT slam on the brakes or jerk the wheel. Let off the gas and slowly turn your wheels in the direction of the skid. If your car is sliding to the right, slowly turn your steering wheel to the right.

Here is the most important thing to remember! (You can see it's important because I used an exclamation point.)

Never ever ever EVER try to cross a flooded section of road.
According to FEMA (
1. 6 inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
2. One foot of water will float most vehicles.
3. Two feet of water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.

Please share this information with your teen driver. And remember: Buckle up!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shawnee Mission West High School Choir

My daughter is raising funds for her school choir department. She's very involved in lots of school activities and this is our absolute favorite. I would just love it if you could take a moment and check out the magazines available for purchase. If you purchase a magazine, please send me an email at for 10 extra entries for each item ordered into each of my contest thru the end of the year.

The link to the online order form follows:

Thanks ladies! Heather

Stomping the Invisible Brake: Part 4

The driving adventures continue! This weekend Girly Girl clocked some more hours behind the wheel. In our state, a permit holder must complete 50 hours of driving practice, with 10 of those hours at night. When I first started filling out the daily driving log, 50 hours seemed like such a long time. I'm surprised how fast those hours are flying by!

Friday we left the side streets and headed out on a busier road. Girly was a little freaked out sharing the road with other drivers. Cars behind us, cars beside us, oncoming traffic. It was scary for both of us, but we stuck with it, and she relaxed a bit.

Yesterday, Sunday, we logged 3 hours of driving. Girly didn't want to go back on the main road, so I made a list of places she likes to go. We drove across town to Michael's craft store for a super sale on beads. Then, we headed over to JoAnn Crafts to look thru material and patterns to make a kimono. From there, we went to Aunt Casey's house to visit with her and the twins and hear about their trip to Disney World. All in all, we logged three hours of driving. She got a lot of experience, but most importantly, she's a lot more comfortable behind the wheel.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

PenPal Notes Winner

Congrats to Heather (Roxxyroller)! She's the winner of the PenPal Notes giveaway on The Mom Union! Thanks to all who participated, I really appreciate the follows, subs and tweets.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Small Change Friday

Thanks to Heather K. from My Red Apron ( for starting our Small Change Friday Meme. The purpose of Small Change Friday is to challenge moms to do something for themselves, whether the change is permanent, for the week, or even for a day.

When I was a teenager I had so much time for myself. One thing I really enjoyed was doing my nails. I can't afford to go to a salon for a mani-pedi, so I'm setting aside a little time to give myself a mani-pedi. I have the foot bath warming up and my potions and lotions on the coffee table. I'm going to soak and scrub, preen and polish, and watch a movie. Yeah!

I hope that all moms out there can take a little time for themselves today. I also hope that you join in the fun, and get any support you might need at our Moms of Teens Network (MOTNET)

Heather G.

Saturday Social

I've started our Saturday Social meme a day early so everyone has a chance to join in the fun!

Welcome to MOTNETs first Saturday Social. We'll begin with a round of introductions with our members.

My name is Heather G.
My blog is The Mom Union at
I'm a member of the Moms of Teens Network (MOTNET for short) at

5 things I love about being the mom of a teen:
1. Remembering my high school days.
2. Hearing new and interesting excuses.
3. Knowing that my daughter is growing more independent each day.
4. Laughing at the latest fads and remembering mine.
5. Listening to stories about new friends and club activities.

5 things I don't like about being the mom of a teen:
1. Remembering my high school days.
2. That room!
3. The phone bill.
4. The drama.
5. I feel old.

I'd like to extend an invitation to all moms of tweens, teens and college students to become a member of MOTNET. Scoot your desk chair over to and join in the fun.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stomping The Invisible Brake: Part 3; Safety Seminar: Part 1

Girlie Girl spent two more hours behind the wheel today. The state requires a minimum of 50 hours of accompanied driving with 10 of those hours at night. I think we will probably need a little more practice, and Girlie understands my reasons. Working in various Emergency Rooms, I've seen some bad stuff. Sure, this makes me very nervous because I've seen the aftermath of bad decisions like speeding and impaired driving, but it has also steeled my resolve to dedicate my time to help my daughter become a good driver.

According to the CDC, Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVAs) are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. The high rate of accidents and deaths can be attributed to several factors:
1. Teens tend to underestimate dangerous situations and are less likely to recognize road hazards.
2. Teens are more likely to exceed posted speed limits.
3. They have the lowest rate of seat belt usage compared to all other age groups.

Teen deaths are usually linked to poor decision making skills, such as drinking and driving. Almost 25% of teen drivers killed in MVAs were legally intoxicated. Distractions involving other passengers can also be deadly, with accident rates rising in proportion to the number of teen passengers in the vehicle. When combined with other factors such as lack of experience with night driving, this deadly mix peaks at certain hours of the day and on certain days of the week. Half of teen deaths from MVAs occur between 3 pm and midnight, with the number of accidents peaking on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

These statistics are scary, but you can take actions to help your teen avoid accidents and increase their chances of surviving an accident. Today I'm going to focus on seat belt usage. Buckling your seat belt is the easiest and the most effective way to minimize your injuries in an accident. Since teens have high rates of accidents and low rates of seat belt usage, this is the most obvious way to start out my safety seminar.

1. Insist on seat belt usage. Explain why it is important that they wear their seat belts every time they get in a car and for the entire time they are in the car.
a. Airbags are supplemental, they are not restraints. You can easily "submarine" as we call it. That means an unrestrained driver slips down in the seat and either misses the airbag, or impacts the airbag at an incorrect position. Another situation exists when the driver rises up from the seat. In this case the roof can be struck and/or the driver impacts the airbag at an incorrect and ineffective position.
b. You can not "catch" or "brace" yourself if an impact occurs, especially at highway speeds. If someone threw a bag of cement, weighing as much as you, at 70 miles per hour, do you think you could catch it? Think about your last accident, did you see it coming? Probably not, or chances are, there wouldn't have been an accident. Have you ever heard someone describe an accident by saying "It all happened so fast!" Wear your seat belt. Encourage everyone around you to wear their seat belts. Insist that your teen driver wears his/her seat belt and that everyone in the car wear their seat belts. Stop people in the grocery store and remind them to wear their seat belt. Get a t-shirt that says... Okay, maybe that's going a little far. But it's not a bad idea.

So this is your safety assignment for today. Set an example for your teen by wearing your seat belt, and remind everyone you know to wear theirs.

Thankful Thursday

I don't feel very thankful today. We are completely broke and payday isn't until tomorrow. My meal plans for this week have been creative, but not well received. I'm trying my best and I know that next week will be better. School fees hit us hard, and it seems there are more mandatory fees added every week. My daughter attends public school, so the fact that we are required to pay fees is unbelievable!

What happened to a free public education? And I'm not talking about $20 for class materials. Oh, no! Textbook rental, student i.d., course fees, the list goes on and on. These are mandatory fees. Seriously. "Base" fees were over $200. In addition to that, there are class fees, such as $10 for English. We SPEAK English! It blows my mind that we have to pay for everything. We live close to the school, so my daughter can walk to and from school each day. God help you if you live farther than us. Bus fees are $90 per semester. That was no typo, NINETY DOLLARS! It's unreal.

Keep in mind, this is not an advanced school or performing arts high school, this is a public high school. All together we've had to lay out over $400 for this semester. We didn't have that much money. In order for our daughter to start school, we had to sign a payment agreement. This agreement states that we would pay the entire amount due within the first month of school. They wouldn't even give us her class schedule until we signed it. Just in case you think they aren't completely serious about getting their money, last year they wouldn't give us her first quarter report card because there was an additional course fee of $25 when she switched from study hall to art. What really burns my biscuits is that these are required credits to graduate. OMG!

Back to Thankful Thursday. Sometimes we have to look past our troubles and find something to be thankful for. Sometimes thankfulness is difficult to muster. I suppose that's the reason for Thankful Thursday, to look past those things that bother us, and find some amount of peace. Today I am thankful that my daughter takes her studies seriously and really enjoys her time at school. I'm also thankful that sticking to my diet has been pretty easy this month.

Kisses to all.

Stomping The Invisible Brake: Part 2

Wednesday I headed back out with Girlie Girl for driving practice. I must say I've been pretty patient, which is surprising even to me. We started out on this trip by listing a few driving skills which I felt were important.

The theme for yesterday's practice was "Staying in our lane." That's a big one, and rather important, not only to us but to on-coming traffic. We've mostly been tooling around the residential area where we live, there's not much traffic, and we encounter few cars at intersections. This weekend I'd like to move from the side streets to our main roads of Antioch and 87th Street Parkway. Both have traffic lights (OMG!) and two lanes in each direction. I'm a little concerned because she tends to take her right turns to sharp, barely misses the curb, then goes into the left lane to straighten it out and back into the right lane. That's when the invisible brake pedal gets a LOT of action. Left turns: she doesn't take sharp enough. She doesn't begin the turn until she's almost past the road where we wish to turn. Then, she comes to a complete stop, takes the left, goes into the other lane, and over corrects into our lane, barely missing the curb. Meanwhile, I'm clutching my chest and stomping on the floor.

We needed some serious practice. You think? Yeah. So where do you go when you need something? WalMart! Our local WalMart has a very large parking lot with a "nose bleed section" off to the side, separated by a long divider, almost as if it were an entirely different parking lot. It's always devoid of cars and equipment, but it has the "islands," light posts and lane markings. Perfect!

I started by taking the wheel and showing Girly the correct way to make a left turn. Hand over hand, then straightening out the car, all while staying on the correct side of the lane. Girly was very attentive. Isn't it amazing how attentive teenagers can be when they really want something? I let her get back in the driver's seat and we went up and down the lanes, taking left turns at each end. It was a bit like the Indy 500: drive, take a left, drive, take a left. Except ours was a wee bit slower, and awkward. But it worked. After about a hundred rounds, she was pretty good at it. The only problem that persists is the five second freak-out before every turn.

We then proceeded to work on right turns. Down the row, take a right, down the row. For some reason she's experiencing more trouble with the right turns. She just doesn't know when to make the turn, we either hit the curb or swing it wide. After about half-an-hour of practice, she made a lot of improvement.

I think she'll need a lot of supervised time behind the wheel to build up her confidence. All in all, not a bad day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stomping The Invisible Brake

OMG! My baby is driving, or rather, trying to drive. I'm trying not to have a heart attack.

Riding shotgun with a new driver at the wheel can be terrifying and entertaining. But mostly terrifying. Remember the invisible brake pedal your parents used to stomp on? It's in my car now. I haven't needed to use it much. But it gives me something to do when objects like curbs, mailboxes or trees jump in front of our car.

Girlie is just beginning her training. She got her driver's permit yesterday and couldn't wait to get behind the wheel. We've traveled around the block a few times and she improves on every round. I didn't realize how much finesse is needed to operate the gas and break pedals smoothly. I alternate between being blown into the seat by G-Force accelerations, to whip lash inducing stops. Each is followed by a hundred exclamations of "Sorry Mom!"

Right now, I'm satisfied if we stay on the pavement.

All Together Now

Are you the mom of a tween, teen or college student? Do you feel left out because so many contests involve baby and maternity products? Then you should join the Mom of Teens Network (MOTNET) at We're lining up contests and blog posts focusing on moms just like you. Stop by and check us out!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

PenPal Notes Review and Giveaway

This contest is now closed. Congrats to #9 Heather (Roxxyroller)!

Recently I was afforded the chance to review PenPal Notes. These clever little cards are a great way to spark a child's interest in several fun subjects. The creators of PenPal Notes wanted to find fun, educational notes to connect with their little ones at school. The result was the creation of Taj, a friendly panda that travels the world on a magic carpet and brings children on an interactive adventure.

PenPal Notes come in a small folding envelope that contains the "deck," and introductory card and stickers which you can either place on the notes like postage stamps or to secure folded lunch sacks. PenPal notes provide enrichment thru new vocabulary, puzzles, and little post scripts which encourage conversations with your child. The reverse side has room to write a short message to your child, just like a real postcard! PenPal notes are reasonably priced from $6.99 to $9.99 per deck, each containing 20 to 40 notes.

PenPal notes come in a wide variety of 8 subjects with 2 more on the way.
Discover Africa
Dinosaur Days
Traveling Taste Buds
Meet The U.S. Presidents
Taj and the Big Cats
Amazing Animal Facts
Coming soon: Famous Artists
Coming soon: Great Women of the Past

In addition to the PenPal notes cards, you can purchase PenMats. These super cute, laminated place mats supplement the PenPal lessons. It's also a great way to keep those little hands (and brains!) busy while you prepare meals. You can purchase PenMats for only $5.9)9.

My sister Casey gave the notes a test run by placing them in her children's lunch sacks. They were so excited and showed them off to all their friends. When they called to thank me, they gushed about how cute Taj the Panda is and how all their friends wanted PenPal Notes, too.

Oh Look! A Giveaway! This is what you've all been waiting for. One lucky entrant will win a PenPal Notes of their choice. You must be at least 18 years old and have a valid e-mail address. This giveaway is open to the US and Canada. Please leave your email address in your mandatory comment or be sure it is visible in your profile. You only need to enter your email in your first entry. You don't need to enter it in every entry.

Mandatory Entry:
Go to the PenPal website (,) come back here, and list your favorite deck in the comments.

Extra Entries:
1. Follow PenPal Notes on twitter (@penpalnotes): List your user name in comment.
2. Follow me on twitter and tweet. List your user name and link to the tweet in your comment.
3. Grab my main button. (2 entries!) List location in your comment.
4. Grab my Early Enrollment Button (2 entries!) List location in your comment.
5. Follow my blog via Goggle Friend Connect (3 entries!) List your user name.
6. Follow my feed. (3 entries!)
7. Subscribe via email. (3 entries!)
8. Techno fave me. (2 entries!) List user name.
9. Facebook Fan. (2 entries!) List user name.
10. Stumble (2 entries!) List user name.

This contest ends on Sunday, September 20th. Good luck to all!

Welcome to The Mom Union

Thanks for stopping by! Let me introduce my new blog, The Mom Union. This blog is geared towards moms of teens and tweens, but there will be the occasional child and mom stuff too. I figure many of you have younger children and since this is a new blog, I don't want to miss out on any PR opportunity.

I enter sweeps everyday and I see a lot of innovative and clever products designed for pregnant women, breast-feeding women, and small children. I think those products are great and the companies that sponsor the giveaways are very kind. However, I believe that teens, tweens and their parents could use more representation in the form of reviews and contests appropriate to our group as a whole. Some available items which appeal to our children and us "seasoned" moms, based on what I've seen while sweeping are stationary, jewelry, bags and totes, electronics, gadgets and gift cards. Please enter the polls on the left sidebar so I can get a rough estimate of your children's ages and products you'd like to see reviewed.

My daily blogs will focus on these drama-filled days of teenhood and the mothers who suffer through it. Please contribute any hints, tips, solutions or need for advise. The weekly posts will actually run for 2 weeks. The first week will be a presentation of facts and requests for comments. The next week will be a summation of the comments. Here's a breakdown of the week:
1. Manic Monday: Back to school; helping your child organize their school projects; etc.
2. Total Drama Tuesdays: Breakups & Breakdowns; fighting with friends; etc.
3. "What's That?" Wednesdays: Trends for teens & tweens; teen speak
4. Teen Tech Thursdays: Gadgets; social sites; etc.
5. Finally Friday: Weekend plans; curfews; suggestions for activities
6. Saturday Social: Wide range of topics dealing with teen health, safety, drinking, driving, etc.
7. Suddenly Sunday: Avoiding last minute issues; back on track for the school week, etc.

To increase my chances to bring you products, I need numbers. It's just a fact of "life" for blogs. So this is what I need from you:
1. Please fave me to social sites.
2. Follow my feed or subscribe via email.
3. Add my buttons to your sidebar. The Early Recruitment Bonus button will only be available to "grab" for a short time. Once it's down, it's gone. Those who have the Early Recruitment Bonus button will receive an extra entry for all my contests through the end of the year. This will give you, my loyal supporters, a higher chance of winning. Please pass on this info to your friends.
4. Take the polls on the left sidebar so I can provide items specific to your needs.
5. Tweet about The Mom Union with a @momunion tag. I'll note tweeters for an extra entry in contests thru the end of the year.

I'd like to thank you for your support and I look forward to working with you to make these drama filled years of teenhood a little easier to handle.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tie a Yellow Ribbon...

When you're a mom of a teen, it's so hard to keep a straight face, much less know how to respond during conversations. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don't, and sometimes you're just left wondering "What???"

I had this conversation with Girlie Girl (16) this afternoon, or rather, the conversation had me:

She burts thru the door with this piece of yellow yarn in a bow around her neck and starts yapping about this guy and that girl and who said what. She's going on and on and on, and the whole time I'm looking at this yellow yarn bow around her neck. I want to ask... but I figure she'll either explain it, run out of breath, or a friend will call.

Finally, she sighs and says "Don't you even want to know about the BOW? I've been talking and standing here and you haven't even asked about the BOW. Did you even SEE the BOW?"

"Yes," I said, "I saw the bow. I just didn't want to interrupt you while you were telling me about your day." *Teenager smiled! Mom scored!* "So, tell me about the bow?"

"It's for Yearbook Staff Initiation!" *WTF? Yearbook staff has an initiation? What do they do? Make the newbies chug a case of Red Bull and send them off on ridiculous missions to the dark room or computer lab? Reignite the age old Yearbook staff vs. Newspaper staff rivalry?*

I said, "Oh! That's great!" *Wrong answer.*

"No! It's NOT great! We had to wear our bows around ALL DAY! It was soooooooo embarrassing I could have just DIED!" *Hmmmm. Die of embarrassment? That's cheaper than college! What could I do to push her over the edge?*

Phone Rings. She's off to talk to someone who'd obviously more interesting than mom, leaving me to ponder the many ways I could embarrass my child to death.

Post Script. An hour later she went to the football game, wearing the bow. Came home, wearing the bow. She did take it off before her bath. I've got it. Just in case.


I'm just getting everything transferred over. Again. This process shouldn't take too long as I feel like I just went through it a few weeks ago. Oh wait! I did! Am I a sucker for punishment? Not so much. What I thought would be a quick fix was quick but it didn't stay fixed. *sigh*

So it's back at it again. Everything you see here should be up and running. If you experience any problems please let me know so I can fix them. Just leave a comment in any post. Thanks.