Of Skimpy Underwear and Extreme Marriage Proposals

Seen the news lately?

For those of us of an age, we can remember back to the days of straight-faced, sometimes somber or monotone, anchors, when news was news, important stuff like gas lines and hostages in Iran, state-of-the-art medical breakthroughs, the economy, etc. This week, as I settled in with my morning news, I was treated to the brewing controversy over at Duck Dynasty, an update on an unmarried pregnant…I don’t know what she is…reality star?, outrage over skimpy underwear, and an elaborate wedding proposal, all of which all got me thinking, not about the news so much, but…us.

We find ourselves living in an era of extremes,  stunts done not by professionasl trained to do that kind of thing, but regular people who think it’d be awesome to do something insanely dangerous and put it on YouTube. Sometimes they get their fifteen minutes. Sometimes they die. We’ve got lingerie companies marketing hot sexy underwear to teenage girls (Call Me, Feeling Lucky? Wild Thing!), but insisting that they aren’t, despite the fact they said they are and that their teenage buyers are their fastest growing segment. Then there’s the elaborate wedding proposals, intricately planned an executed…events…that get press coverage all over the country (heck, maybe all over the world…who knows!).

It’s not just videos that go viral anymore. It’s us. We’ve gone viral. We perform our life now, instead of living it. We’re all on stage, living out loud, our lives punctuated with exclamation marks instead of periods or commas or, my own personal favorite (according to my uber wondermous editor), ellipses. (As an aside, am I the only one who experiences a visceral reaction, this quick jolt of adrenaline, every time I’m slammed by a whole bunch of !!!!!!! or CAPS!!!!!! I mean, sheesh! It’s like BREAKING NEWS! That used to mean something really bad was happening, not that there was a chance of a thunderstorm later that day!…  Ellipses, you see?)

And you know, it’s funny. Remember the old adage, the only about, “when I was a kid, we had to walk to school a mile each way, up hill, all in the snow?” Well it occurs to me that has been replaced by “when I was a kid, there were only three channels on TV and our phones were attached to the wall, there were no computers or Internet and the only way to hook up with your friends in the evening was to cruise the boulevard and find them…”

But seriously. It was only ten years ago that my husband sat in a meeting with a company promising to revolutionize…everything. They’d perfected streaming on the Internet, which meant content no longer needed to be static. There could be…gasp! …videos. And they were right. Streaming content on the Internet has changed everything, including us.  In so many ways it’s fun. Goodness knows I love posting little videos of my kids and dog, but ever the people-watcher/life-observer that I am, I sometimes find myself stepping back and wondering….why.

Why do wedding proposals need to be a public event now? Why isn’t it a private moment, the culmination of one phase of a relationship between two people, and the beginning of another? Why does it need to make the news? Why does it need to be a spectacle?  (Personally, and I think my husband knows this, if he EVER did something that put me on the spot like that with an audience watching,…well, it would not be a very good thing.)

And why do we need to run through grocery store with gallon milk jugs in each hand, then pretend to slip and fall, sending the milk spewing everywhere, while our buddy diligently records it all and everyone else looks on in horror?

Why do we need to plank on a railroad track or try to pendulum swing through a rock formation?

Why does a company need to market lacy thongs to thirteen-year-olds? And why does said thirteen year old need to wear said lacy thong to make herself feel good about herself?

Why do we need to constantly post new pictures of ourselves online?

Why, why, why do we need everyone to Look At Me, Me, ME….!

Why?

And you know, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. That’s one thing I’m constantly telling my parents and in-laws. This isn’t about any one person. This is about society. Us. Who we’ve become. Sometimes it seems we’re all so busy performing our lives, making sure The Moment is actually THE MOMENT, that, in turn, we end up losing the moment. The real ones.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t know why we Live Out Loud now, all I know is I have the increasingly frequent, increasingly strong, longing to step back and take a deep breath, find my little house on the prairie and live my life. MY life. For me. My family.

….and I can’t help but wonder: What would Pa say?

If You Take Your Kids to the Store to Buy Milk

The other day I decided to take all three kids to the store. By myself. Well, I needed some things and it seemed the most efficient way to get it done. It seemed like it. I was wrong. The whole experience somehow reminded me of the popular children’s books “If You Give a (insert animal) a (insert baked good)”

And I created my own story. To amuse myself while I dragged them all through the store at the detriment to my mental and physical health.

Ahem. Here it is:

If you take your kids to the store to buy milk…

They’s going to be little displays of tempting things kids want everywhere.

They’re going to ask you for some toys.

When you choose the toys, you’ll realize they don’t come with batteries.

When you go to buy the batteries you’ll pass the cereal.

When the kids see the cereal they’ll want to pick some!

They’ll each want a different kind.

When you get all the cereal in your cart and continue on to the batteries, your youngest will have a meltdown about something silly.

When a passerby sees your youngest having a meltdown over something silly, they’ll look at you like you’re a terrible person.

Having a stranger look at you like you’re a terrible person will remind you of the pile of laundry sitting in your room.

Thinking of the pile of laundry sitting in your room will remind you that you need to get laundry detergent.

You’ll realize you forgot the #(*)*$% batteries.

You’ll turn around and head back toward the batteries.

On the way there your middle child will throw a fit over something stupid.

Someone will look at you like you’re a horrible person.

Being looked at like you’re a horrible person will remind you that you also need to buy your kids socks so they don’t have to have bare feet under their shoes anymore because they lost them all (not that I do that…who would do that?)

So you have to back track to socks.

After back tracking to socks you close the loop and go to check out. But you grab the batteries first.

Going to check out reminds the oldest child that he has yet to panic about anything. He decides to get upset that you didn’t buy him a watch.

Seeing their older sibling get upset will remind the other two that they need to cry too.

After you make it through check out, and make it home, you’ll have the kids help you unload the car. Unloading the car will make them thirsty. They’ll ask for some milk.

And chances are, if you went to the store with your kids to buy milk…it’s the one thing you’ll come home without.

Guest mom: Rhonda Peyton (Robyn’s sister!)

Image 4This is Robyn and today we have a super special guest blogger…it’s my older sister, Rhonda. I asked her to guest blog today because we’re getting close to summer vacation time and she’s a veritable expert on traveling with children regardless of their age. So without further ado…I give you my sister…

My name is Rhonda, I am the mother of 2, married to my best friend and and we have been traveling across America together for the past 20 years. As I look back on our travels I realize that not only did we travel well with young children, but have given our kids, now 20 and 18, a love for the great Road Trip. In part, passed onto me from my own childhood.

Here are the trips we’ve taken over the last 18 years.

Disney World (flew) ages 2&4
Washington DC. 3&5
W.Virginia 4&6
Florida 5&7
Colorado 6&8
Mississippi/New Orleans 7&9
Big Bend, TX 8&10
St. Louis, MO 9&11
Disney World (flew) 10&12
Tennessee 11&13
St. Louis/Chicago, IL (drove/Amtrak) 12&14
Mt. Rushmore 13$15
NY/Niagara Falls/DC. 14&16
Tennessee 14&16
California/Las Vegas/New Mexico 15&17
Wisconsin/St. Louis 16&18
Big Bend, TX 18&20
Beach trips (10 or more times) from the age of 2 and up. Corpus Christi, Galveston, Padre Island, Bolivar (all beaches in TX)

TRANSPORTATION: 5 different vans, Taurus, Suburban, Highlander, steam engine, Amtrak, subway, taxi, trolly, bus, fairy, boat and airplane.

Image 7FOOD: White table-cloth steak houses, Triple D diners, local dives, fast-food and chains.

AMUSEMENT PARKS:  Six Flags, Astroworld, Sea World, Fiesta Texas, Busch Gardens & Disney World.

ZOOS: Amarillo, TX; Ft. Worth, TX, Houston, TX, San Antonio, TX; Waco, TX; DC.; St. Louis, MO

AQUARIUMS: Corpus Christi, TX; Moody Gardens (TX); Chattanooga, TN; DC.

OTHER SIGHTS: Museums, mounments,bridges, national parks.

CAR TUNES: Joe Scruggs, Veggie Tales, various vbs, Toby Keith, George Straight, Beach Boys, WOW’s, oldies, and music from multiple shows we were in or saw.

Image 2Each time we decided on our next destination, I began the research. I think making as detailed of plan as possible is the key to having a successful and enjoyable trip. I would divide the miles to be traveled by the hours and then begin preparing my 2 lists:  the 1st list was of items we always traveled with and the 2nd list would be more specific to the particular trip at hand.

Usual list 1: gallon ziplock bags,mileage bags, cd’s, addresses & stamps, first aid, wet wipes, towels, travel cups, snacks,box of sandwich bags, books on tape, swim suits, cooler with drinks, receipt envelope, window shades, travel boxes….

Gallon bags : these I used to pack the kids clothes in. Each bag had the childs name on it and date to be worn. This helped when planning which clothes were for traveling (for comfort) , which were for parks, museums, the White House or meeting famous people like senators or Mickey Mouse! Packing in ziplocks also helped save room (like space saver bags) and made for a great way to store dirty clothes separate from clean, by putting them back in the same bag they came in. (Great for wet swim suits too)

Image 3Mileage bags: these were life-savers when traveling with small children. I used small paper bags, each numbered and labeled with kids name. Each bag usually contained 3 items : a snack (animal cookies, fruit snacks…) an activity (crayons & book, silly puddy, wipe off  bd,paper dolls, stickers…) and a character for pretending (action figure, small stuffed toy). I would divide the miles we were going to travel into small sections, like about every 90 to 120 miles and then the kids would get their bag. This helped pass the time, and taught them about mile-markers and time of travel.

CD’s : music we All liked as a family that we could sing to….without judgement.

Sandwich bags: were for all the treasures we would find during our stops and a sharpie so I could label each bag so we knew whose treasures they were and where they came from.

Travel boxes: each kid had a plastic box with a lid that could hold all their travel needs and double as a desk. This helped things not get lost, and not be so cluttered in the back seat.

ImageBeing a stay home mom with a 1 income (educator’s salary) we were usually on a tight budget, so we found ways to enjoy our trips without spending too much, especially on the traveling days. I did however, research the trip and area we would be in so if we were going to be near a park or a specific interest of 1 of ours….like my son went thru a phase where he was interested in bridges. Well when I did research I found all kinds of bridges we would have missed had I not been looking. Seeing these extras didn’t add much time to the trip and were free! Maybe you are going to be near a famous persons place, in history, like Billy the Kid or Laura Wilder. Just do a search for interest that are near where you will be traveling.

A typical, long travel day for us would have looked something like this…we packed the car the night before and had everything ready for departure, so when we woke them up all they had to do was get dressed and we would each grab our travel cups. We would leave as early as possible, before breakfast, so that we could get as many miles as possible behind us before stopping for breakfast. I know fast-food is not the healthy choice, but we would look for a stop that had one of those indoor playgrounds, this way we could eat while they played and then we would all visit the restrooms and bring any of the kids breakfast with us when we left. When we got back into the car the kids would eat and then they would get their first mileage bag. We would just talk and let the kids get the most out of their 1st mileage bag…we wanted it to entertain them for long as it could. We would then play a book on tape, music or play a car game to pass the time. ( ie… Car bingo, alphabet game.)

Image 6Our kids did not have a movie playing device for the car until they were 10 & 12, so we had to use what we had to entertain them. We tried to plan our lunch by packing one with us or we would stop and pick something up and head to the nearest park or rest area. We tried to go somewhere outside so that they could walk around and get some exercise. This is when we would use the little ziplock bags and let each kid pick up some ” treasures” rocks, acorns, a leaf….the point was to get some moving in, so that just maybe they would nap when we got back on the road. After lunch and hopefully a nap we would sometimes look for another indoor playground stop, we could get a drink, maybe a small cone, the kids could play and of course we would all go to the restroom before loading back up. The kids always knew that these stops would be short, so they were prepared for us to give them the 5 min warning and they seemed fine with it. 10 – 20 min went a long way in helping the weary traveling kid, and helping them…..helped us!

On travel days we always tried to stay in a hotel that had 3 things in common: cheap, free breakfast and a POOL! We would try to get to the hotel with enough time for us to swim, for at least 30 minutes. Swimming is great for tired, stiff muscles that have been sitting in a car all day and it makes for a great nights sleep. We liked to go out to dinner to a place with the “local” flavor. If time permitted, we would try and swim in the morning too, this would cause us to have a later start on morning 2. When scheduling our trip we tried to have our heaviest travel day on day 1 so that day 2 could be lighter. If we had several days of travel in front of us then we often alternated long then short travel days.

Image 5We have traveled 35 of the 50 states, we even had one of our new teenage drivers get his driving hours in 25 of those states. We have seen the Grand Canyon, Pala Duro canyon, the white sands desert, Hoover Dam, Niagara Falls,the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, the giant red woods, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Pacific, Crater Lake and a great lake, the mountains of Colorado, the Smokies in Tennessee and all the plains in between….memories for a lifetime

My advice, make your trips as personal as you can, for your family. Maybe you and your family like a specific food show, make a list of places and dishes you would like to try. Maybe architecture is interesting or battlefields, maybe courthouses, Route 66 , national monuments or windmills…..whatever your family finds interesting will add to your family trips. When crossing state lines stop at the welcome centers, they have clean restrooms, complimentary maps, information about state wide attractions and often a state-themed activity book for kids. Just do your homework so you know how much things cost, so you can plan for it. Be prepared for plans to change due to unforeseen things that Will come up. Rain closed an attraction, sick kids, car trouble….we have sat on the side of the road and played cards or gone to a movie because of a rained out attraction. Don’t let things outside of your control ruin your trip, you are making memories…make them good ones!

Image 4Souvenirs. We did like to buy post cards to send to family, friends, teachers…we helped the kids write them until they were old enough to do it themselves. We sent them to a variety of people depending on when and where we went. Our souvenirs were not always the same but we did have some usuals. I like coffee mugs & christmas ornaments, my daughter liked bells or playing cards my son liked things that were specific to the trip, sometimes both son and husband got hats. We also liked getting music from someone we had seen on our trip or a soundtrack from a musical or show that we got to see. We tried to keep them to small items, with a few exceptions…like the walking stick my son had to have and has traveled with us to every park since. He has it with us on this trip we are currently taking to Big Bend and we are also listening to our soundtract from Grease that we got to see on Broadway.

We have a shell luggage carrier we put on top of our car, so that everything inside the car is for traveling purpose and that gives us a lot more room. The luggage carrier makes our vehicle look like a turtle and so that is what we call it, it also makes it easy to find in a crowded parking lot. As we take this trip to Big Bend and plan for a summer wedding trip to Gatlinberg, I am mindful that any of these trips could be the last “family” trip we take. My kids will both be in college next year and our lives are changing daily. I cherish the travels and adventures we have had and look forward to getting postcards from them when they travel with their own families some day. I wish you safe and happy travels, now go make some memories!


Image 9

Rhonda Peyton is a wife and mother. She’s a former Dance Team instructor and taught high school for ten years. She’s the sister of the fabulously famous Robyn DeHart.

Starting One Parent, One Child Traditions

Every year when it comes to holidays, our family tries really hard to continue past traditions and think up of at least one new tradition to start. For some reason, before now I’ve never really thought of starting a non-holiday tradition for an individual child.

It all started when, about a month ago, 3.5 year-old SuperGirl stopped taking naps (I still cry a little over this). I think it took a full week of trying to put her down and having her get up for my husband and I to realize that this was it. The day had come. Naps were a thing of the past!

Then, it took me another week to realize that this was something I could take advantage of in terms of building my relationship with SuperGirl, as every other time WonderGirl is always with us. I actually only have one shift during the week with SuperGirl during naptime–Tuesdays, the day when I go to Bible study in the morning and our usual schedule gets shifted around.

I finally thought of something we could do every Tuesday together, something that would not only bring us closer together because it’s something only she and I do, but something that’s good for the entire family: cooking!

Specifically, cooking desserts. In my continual effort to keep my husband from bringing junk food into the house, it seemed like a good idea to make a sweet treat once a week that could last us until the next week. And since SuperGirl already has a sweet tooth, this way I can teach her how to make better-for-you desserts (for us, that means vegan; although we try not to use oil in other recipes, I’ve found that some desserts just aren’t the same without it, so I make an exception).

Last Tuesday was our first Dessert Day–a new tradition for just SuperGirl and myself. We looked through some of my cookbooks, and she chose to make a Blueberry Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Walnut Crumble Topping (from Let Them Eat Vegan!, if interested). It was delicious!

This coming Tuesday (tomorrow) she’s chosen to make a Red Velvet Cake with Buttercream Frosting (from The Vegan Table…just typing that recipe name is making my mouth water). So far I approve of her choices! 😉 And I have to say that on my own, I might never be so adventurous; in fact, the coffee cake was the first “cake” I’ve ever made!

But Dessert Day is not the only tradition I’m creating with SuperGirl; I decided to also take a picture each week with SuperGirl and the dessert she creates, a sort of photo collection we’ll be able to look through in the future and see not only how much she grows over time, but all the different things we’ve created. Since I’ve come up with a million excuses in the past for why I always forget to take pictures now that the girls are toddlers, this is a great weekly reminder.

Here’s a picture of SuperGirl with her first creation, the Blueberry Coffee Cake. =)

SuperGirl blueberry coffee cake

Do you have any specific traditions you practice with your child apart from the holidays? Or if you haven’t gone so far as to call it a tradition, what is something special the two of you do together?

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I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too! www.lukasholmes.com), but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 8 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart. www.eliserome.com

Bring a Book Saturday–Boo’s Dinosaur

It seems like just yesterday Baby Galen could not sit still while I read a picture book. Actually, that was yesterday. But once in a while she can sit still, and now that she is “a big girl” who constantly tells me, “I’m big, Mommy. I’m big. Right, Mommy?” she wants to read Big Kid Books. She insisted on taking Beezus and Ramona home from the library. Yeah. That didn’t go over so well. But we also accidentally stumbled upon a book by Betsy Byars titled Boo’s Dinosaur.

boo's dino

Betsy Byars usually writes books geared for late elementary school/early middle school, but this book is perfect for a 3 or 4 year old with an imagination. It has glorious pictures on every page and a cute little protagonist and her put-upon older brother. We have read it again and again. And we just ordered another in the series, Boo’s Surprise.

boo and dino

If you’re looking for something with chapters that is simple and easy for kids to understand, this would make a great before-bed read.

Holiday Affair Cover_compressedHaving grown up children means the chaos of everyday life takes on a different perspective. The only peanut butter I have on my keyboard is actually sticky fingers on my iPad when my grandchildren come to visit. They love watching Mickey Mouse cartoons, and of course Nanny’s chocolate cake, and jelly sandwiches always end up on the screen.

This post is for all you writing mothers out there. I came to writing after I retired from teaching. (I did retire young!) Years of regimented schedules with a husband, two children, assorted cats and dogs, a house to run as well as full time work theoretically prepared me for a structured writing career.

Ha. Didn’t work out like that. Even though I try, I still live in chaos. Deadlines are always met at the last minute; I spend way too much time on social networking and always have my best ideas in the middle of the night and don’t write them down.

But there was one thing that I knew how to do well. Years in the corporate world taught me how to market and promote and I was very successful establishing my brand as an author prior to publication.

My debut novel with Entangled Publishing, Holiday Affair,  stayed in the Amazon best seller lists for  twelve months after release and I decided to write a little ‘how to’ book to share my marketing strategies with aspiring authors. Imagine my surprise when that little marketing book also went straight to the bestseller lists!

Promotional Tips and Tricks for Aspiring Authors in the Digital Landscape.

So now between deadlines for my Entangled series books, I am writing another ‘how to’ book. I hope if you read them, they help you on your journey!

Come on down to the beach and visit with me http://annieseatonromance.com


Annie_Seaton (2)Annie Seaton lives on the beautiful east coast of Australia, where she loves sitting in her writing chair, gazing at the ocean and writing stories. She has always been fascinated by all things historical and has found her niche writing romance, ranging from contemporary, paranormal and a foray into steampunk, where strong heroines and brooding heroes fight together to make their alternative world a better place!

Annie lives with her husband, and ‘Bob’ the dog and two white cats, in a house next to the beach in a small coastal town of New South Wales. Their two children are grown and married and she loves spending time gardening, walking on the beach and spoiling her two grandchildren.

Crappy Book Winner

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by to comment on Amber Dusick’s post and also thank you to Amber for taking the time to visit us.

The randomly chosen winner of Amber Dusick’s novel Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures is Kim! Check your inbox, Kim.

If you didn’t win, don’t forget the book is available for pre-order now and will be on sale March 26!

A short blog to go with the giveaway post.

I once read that children have behavioral ups and downs every six months. Six months of a happy, easy child will be followed by six months or a cranky, difficult, unhappy child. The writer speculated it had something to do with growth and development. I feel like Baby Galen must grow more than other kids because she usually follows one week of easygoing behavior with three weeks of difficult behavior.

For some reason, I am always surprised when the difficult behavior returns. I quickly get used to the easygoing Baby Galen. But just as soon as I think, I kind of like this parenting thing, her head starts spinning around again.

Bottom line? Parenting is hard. But like anything else that’s tough, the rewards make the hard work worth it.

I Wrote a Book With Two Kids At Home by Amber Dusick (from Crappy Pictures!)

I wrote a book with two little kids at home and I survived. Barely.

This is how I did it.

mom-writer

Late at night, fueled by pints of ice cream. The kids were asleep so the only distraction I had was Crappy Cat stepping on my keyboard. He loves the delete key and is super skilled at pressing it.

Of course since the kids were asleep it technically meant that I was supposed to be asleep too. Which I wasn’t. Which meant I was tired. Always.

I did learn a few very important things along the way though.

1. Backing up a manuscript isn’t a good idea. It isn’t a great idea. It isn’t an idea at all. It is a requirement. It must be done. It should be #1 in “book writing 101” classes. (Maybe it already is. I don’t know, I never took that class. Is there a class?) Anyway, I lost a handful of pages before I learned this lesson. Those pages that I lost were the best, most funniest thing I have ever written and had I backed them up I’d be rich and famous and living in a mansion with a hot tub in every room. Instead, I don’t have a mansion or even a single hot tub. See? Not backing up will ruin your life.

2. Haagen-Dazs® chocolate ice cream is too darn hard. It doesn’t ever seem to melt. You have to leave that one out for a good 20 minutes before digging in. Which is basically impossible to do so I stopped buying it. Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough and half baked are also way too distracting to eat while writing. You spend too much time digging for the little dough or brownie nuggets. Stick with the simple flavors like chocolate, strawberry and mint chip. Those are writing-friendly flavors. I told you these were important things. You’re welcome.

3. Did I say I learned “a few” things? I should change that to “a couple” things. Whatever. You know what I mean.

Honestly, I can’t remember much.

I do remember telling myself that “I will never, ever, ever do this again” but I can’t for the life of me remember why I would feel that way. It wasn’t so bad. Was it?

I should probably try it again just to make sure.

Or maybe this is just an excuse to eat ice cream.

Amber_Dusick_2013

Amber Dusick’s novel Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures is available for pre-order now and will be on sale March 26!
Want a copy? One person who comments today will win a copy, courtesy of the PBKMoms!

You can find Amber Dusick blogging at Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures.