Category Archives: Family

Together Again

A million years ago Sandra Scheller allowed me to observe her journalism classes at Rider High School when I was an MSU student. After four years she let me take over the Rider newspaper after I was hired as an English teacher.when I left Rider last year Sandra took the newspaper back after 22 years. Now we’re at Gloria Shields Workshop together. Life is so awesome. 

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to the woman who taught me visits with Grandma were the best vacations, Young and the Restless is timeless, kissing on a bridge was not “making love,” there’s an art to walking in high heels, knowing if you’re a winter or a summer matters, the birds and the bees talk using the dust on the dashboard could be traumatic and hilarious, dance parties make everything better when you’re a little kid, shorts can be too short, sunscreen matters, koolaid and popsicles make hot summer days amazing, the best stories are the ones you make yourself, Writer’s Digest is a thing, Silhouette Romances are the best, kissing the man you love on the couch in front of your kids is a good thing, Mary Kay makeovers are the best, roses roses smells delicious but it’s brutal on those with allergies, matching Mother’s Day dresses can be a blessing and a curse, there’s a way to hold your mouth just so to get that perfect curling iron curl, the feathered hair haircut is perfectly achieved by putting hair in a ponytail and snip, great legs are genetic (wah!), great nails are too (yay!!!), chocolate fixes everything (wah!), fresh tomatoes-onion-cucumber does too (yay!), power through when you mess up singing, practice so the mess ups aren’t constant, it’s worth it to wake up early to see a royal wedding, reading is fundamental, recipes matter, “don’t make me stop this car” strikes fear in the heart of all kids even when they’re not in a car, and a whole bunch of other stuff. ❤️ Love you Mom.  MB

It’s not a funny story

When DD was almost two a new kid named Stevie started in her class. DD loved Stevie. When she saw him she reached out, almost touched his skin, then yanked her hand back. She thought his skin was hot because it was black.

Her teacher told us about it and we laughed. Stevie’s mom, me, the teacher, the other moms. Everyone.

And DD and Stevie went about their business, fast friends in the toddler room.

I don’t know how long it took me to realize that Stevie’s hot skin wasn’t really funny.

Stevie was the only black person my daughter knew. She was almost two and knew no black people.

IMG_9108Not long after that DD ended up with her black dolly, Miss Sally. She named Miss Sally because her teacher had brown skin and the doll reminded DD of her teacher. DD loved that doll. I still have Miss Sally even though DD is 26 now. But other than Stevie, DD didn’t really have black people in her life until she started elementary school.

The second year of DD’s elementary school life she was labeled the bad kid. I was a young mom, a dumb mom, and I let that happen, but I knew enough to go up to the school. She wasn’t bad. She was bored because she was in first grade and they were doing math on a chalk board and she’d read all the books in the teacher’s library. The other little boys sitting on the “bad kid” wall with her weren’t bad either. They were rambunctious. And they were black. The rambunctious little white boys were precocious and precious. Bored, hyper girl=bad. Black boy=bad. I was outraged but silent. It was the only blatant racism I saw in DD’s school career, but it stayed with me.

And still, DD did not have black people in her life. Not really. That wasn’t until later. Much later.

It wasn’t intentional, but in my separation, in my homogenized existence of whiteness, I contributed to this world we live in today where people of color feel less than.

Now I’m listening to the aftermath of  what was supposed to be a peaceful protest where shots have been fired and up to 10 police officers are down. CNN just said three are dead.

God help us all. Violence is not the answer. Silence is not the answer. What is the answer?

 

 

Wherein I venture into TMI Territory

I thought about starting with one of those clever little stories that make people laugh, but ditched that idea to get straight to the point.

I started menopause early. As in before 40. As in almost a decade ago. (If the word menopause freaks you out, stop reading now because EVERYTHING that follows is about that.)

Dr. said it was unusual but since I was healthy, no big deal.

And I bought that. I mean I had an 18-year-old daughter at home going through all those preparing to leave the nest growing pains. Who the heck cared about a little menopause grumpiness added in for good measure?

The next year I was fumbling through empty nest syndrome AND recovering from a nasty injury. A few extra tears meant nothing.

I’ve gained and lost 140 pounds–70 pounds TWICE–since then. (I’m on the losing side of things again now. It’s Low Carb High Fat for life where I’m concerned from now on. Feel free to eat cake in my presence. I’ll be snacking on a ribeye and maybe a cheese stick.)  I’ve always been a yo-yo dieter, but dear God in Heaven menopause made things crazy.

I gained enough weight this yearbook season to make yearbook distribution a symbolic birth. No kidding. My ability to hold tight to positivity in the face of darkness has switched to snarky sarcastic bitter don’t-mess-with-me-I’ll-go-Mommy-effing-Dearest on you. I’m usually pretty good about keeping those moments to myself….but sometimes it ekes out, and boy is it ugly.

Hot flashes….ha. More like dips into the Lake of Fire.

Simmering rage….uhm…never mind.

Stress…I used to love stress. I used to LIVE for those double deadline computer crashes, teenage drama, come on guys let’s have a dance party moments. Let’s just say there’s been a flip in feelings there. And OhMyGod if a kid gets mouthy, something I used to laugh off…no. Just no. I have to literally bite my tongue.

Exercise helps. Low carb helps. Escaping into a great book helps. Large groups of people make me want to rip my hair out. Large groups of rude people nearly send me over the edge. This year it’s like I’m not even me.

I’m giving it three months to get better, and if it’s not better, I’m going to the doctor and saying give me the hormones who cares about the side effects. It’s that or take up daily doses of tequila. Never mind. Tequila gives me hot flashes and God knows if I have more of those I’m liable to find out that X-Files about spontaneous combustion was actually based on fact.

So pray, people, pray. Something has to change.

 

 

DGD Makes An Appearance

It happened. Actually it happened quite a while back now. I’m a grandma, and I finally understand all the talk about how amazing and wonderful that miraculous journey is.

People have always told me nothing beats being a grandma. Now I know it’s true. For future reference on the blog this will be DGD (Darling grand daughter). You can see from the photos that we’re kind of in love with this sweetie.

Generation Homelander: Something Needs to Change!

homelandersHomelanders.

That’s what this generation of students is known as. That was the big lesson I learned at yearbook camp this summer.

They’ve never lived without security cameras everywhere. They’ve never known life without a cell phone. Their parents know where they are at all times. Their lives are orchestrated with calendars, every hour planned. Instead of play, they take classes. Even their time at the park is scheduled with play dates. They fear being alone and believe absolutely that evil is out there, and could strike at any minute in school, at the mall, at the movies, while they’re out for a morning run.

They grew up in the US after 9-11. After everything changed. And in an effort to keep them safe, I wonder if we’re not actually making the world a more dangerous place.

One common denominator I’ve heard time and again in discussions with other educators this summer is how many teenagers are on anti-anxiety meds. I’ve taught relaxation techniques to students for years. We can do the 13th floor like nobody’s business and Pilates deep breathing is a must. But this is different. This anxiety can’t be visualized or breathed away.

When we bought my daughter her first cell phone, I was excited. I remembered being a teenager AND I remembered the whole “we’re staying the night with… switcheroo.” With the cell phone that was over. Sort of. With today’s cell phones parents can just look at the GPS to see where their kids are. And they do. Constantly.

A couple of my former foreign exchange students recently posted pictures of their summer European trip. They’re not 18 yet, but they were traveling across the world without a guide or chaperone, just having fun, making memories, learning. When I saw the photos, I was shocked at first. I had a hard time letting my 18-yr-old daughter drive to Dallas. No way would she have gone on holiday around Europe without a parent present. No way. I’ve seen the movie Taken, complete fiction. I’ve watched the Natalee Holloway story again and again on the news, awful truth.

9-11 changed everything. We knew it when it happened, but I don’t think we truly understood. I hope we can change this overarching feeling that the world is evil, that the “bad people, terrorists, killers,” are out to get us. I hope we can find a way to give our kids time to breathe.

We have to. Our kids need a chance to have a new name. Something closer to Generation X and Y. Homelanders can’t be our future. It just can’t.

*******

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Angel Eyes,Angel Eyes 6 The Guardian Book 3 released this week. Yay! And Dead Girl Walking, The Guardian Book 1 is free for the last day. Get your kindle copy now. The DGW audio book will be out soon! I can’t wait to share it with y’all. You Will Love It! ❤

 

 

Proud Day Memory

College graduationThis is the one picture I have of college graduation in 1993. DH took it. I was sick as a dog, but at the time I thought I had a little headache. Turned out a tiny bit more that that. My one and only experience with strep that I can remember, and I’d put it up there with swine flu. (If you’ve followed this blog, you know I got that experience in 2009. Ugh.)

That little girl in my arms and the man taking the photo were the two biggest reasons I have degrees today.  The little girl was my daily inspiration to go to school, do the work and get done. ❤

Family reunionThe man taking the photo was my biggest cheerleader, motivator, calm in the storm ROCK.

(This is us in May this year. 21 years after my first MSU graduation. 15 after my second.)

It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

If you’re struggling right now with school or a career path, find a rock and an inspiration. If you don’t have one, use the comments here and let me be your rock. It’s easy to not go. School is expensive. It’s HARD. It seems so pointless to take classes like Zoology and Botany and College Algebra when what you want to do is teach journalism. But that degree is as much about persistence as it is about learning the content. And if school isn’t your path, that’s okay, too. But only if you have a path, a plan, a goal to a successful life. Research shows college graduates earn more over a lifetime, but college is definitely not the only answer. Find someone who successfully does what you want to do and ask the how to get there. People are incredibly helpful, but you’ve got to ask.

If you want to know about advising student media or writing, I can answer questions. I know there are others out there willing to help.

Whatever you do, don’t choose to let life live you. YOU LIVE LIFE. If you don’t know the difference, feel free to ask. I’ll explain. 🙂

*****

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Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3–Out July 20!!!!

 

 

 

Blink and They’re 24, Living in Ohio

katie 1stWay, way back when I first started writing, about the time this photo was taken of DD, I developed a writing schedule. Back then I never wrote before 9 p.m. when DD went to bed and I’d write until whenever.

When I was student teaching, my amazing cooperating teacher Jan Adams gave me some great advice. She said NEVER take your work home with you and to remember that teaching is a job not your life.

I don’t think it’s possible to truly leave your work at school if you’re a teacher. There’s just too much to do. But it is absolutely essential to remember teaching is a job, and teachers need lives outside of the classroom. If we don’t protect our time with our families and our time for ourselves, we’ll burn out. Burned out teachers are NOT good in the classroom. They can’t be. (This is all EASY, PEASY in the summertime!)

I have to believe my writing has helped keep me from burning out. I have friends who are artists, and I see the same thing there. When they practice their art, they are better teachers. When they cook or redecorate houses or play games or travel, they are better teachers.

I feel confident this is not just a teacher issue. Any job that consumes life is bad news. Writing kept my job from consuming my life. And it helped me remember family first.

Back in those days when DD was little, scheduling time to write was easy.

katie nowNow that she’s 24 and DH and I are empty nesters and DD lives 1300 miles away….

It’s a good thing I ingrained the writing schedule into my brain. Today, I still write more from 9 p.m. until whenever than I do the rest of the day.

I write more unless I’m intentionally taking time off. Time off like last week when DD came to visit. 🙂

*****

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Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 releases July 20!

Dead Girl Walking, The Guardian Book 1 releases in audio this month. More info soon! (I love, love, love the book in audio!!!! I can’t wait to share.)

 

 

 

THANKFUL #mywana

The British Museum always makes me think of Harrison Ford. Another thing to be thankful for.

The British Museum always makes me think of Harrison Ford. Another thing to be thankful for.

Things I’m excited about September edition: Survivor, cooler temperatures, the Colonial Marriage Ministry Sacred Marriage class, teaching InDesign to kids after school, watching the freshmen become Raiders, first amendment memorization, watching new editors learn to make lists, revising Sharlene book 3, more dominoes with Mom and Dad, kisses, decorating the living room of the new house, watching DD transform from a kid into a woman ready to take on the world, seeing Pam B on Wednesdays if only for a minute, remembering the freedom of an empty nest during deadlines but also remembering the newsroom is not life, orange, learning new low carb recipes that rock, CS6, gearing up for NaNo, high school football, hockey, halftime shows. Funny, when I started this, I thought the list would be small enough for a Facebook status update. Goal this year: start every day thankful.

Happy Birthday Dear Brother!

Dear brother dear,

Oh me, oh my.

Is this a birthday day I spy?

Why yes, why yes, why yes it is.

It’s time for the middle aged quiz.

🙂

Okay, just joking. No quiz. BUT there are some truths. One of which is OUCH MY KNEE hurts and how the heck did pulling a suitcase hurt my back?!? lol!!!

Don’t worry. As my friend said today, we’re holding at 35. HAPPY BIRTHDAY and I love you!

*Remember that time when we were little in Minnesota when you begged me to crawl under the bed and grab your Charlie Bear, and then you jumped on the bed and slammed my chin into the floor? That still hurts. j/k