Traveling With Parents – Or What Are You Waiting For?

MaiseyYatesWe’ve done some posts on traveling with kids here on PBK, because traveling with kids is very often our reality. This past week, I was traveling with my mother!

Fortunately, my mom and I get along very well, we always have. So in terms of drama, we don’t have to worry about that.

As many of you know, the past year for my mom was spent recovering from surgery and chemo. I’m happy to report she’s very healthy, and her recent checks have been ALL CLEAR. Unfortunately, I think it sometimes takes a scare for us to mobilize and ask ourselves what the heck we’re waiting for.

Well, that’s what happened to me. I’d been wanting to go to the UK (the Harlequin editorial office I work with is based there, (in fact, there I am in the picture feeling fancy in said office!) and of course, London is a dream destination) and everything we’ve been through over the past year inspired me to want to bring my mother, who had never been to Europe either.

So we went! We met up with some friends of my mom’s who flew in from Texas, and for the past week, we took London and Paris by storm.

It was an amazing trip. A trip of a lifetime. I’m glad we jumped in with both feet and decided to go for it. (Even if that did put us in London in February which…well, you know, it’s not exactly the place to go and catch sun.)

I guess the question is…what are we waiting for? Not just to take trips or anything (because I understand that’s not necessarily possible for everyone, so I’m not advocating accruing mass credit card debt or selling your car or anything…unless you want to.), but to do the things in life we want to do. To follow a dream. To work less. To travel more. To stay home more. Don’t wait for health scares. Figure out what it is you want to do…and find a way to do it.

I know we’re glad we did.

Buckhingham Mom1 Mom2


The Big 4-0

vision page in my health planner

vision page in my health planner

So it’s almost March which means we’re getting pretty close to May which is when I become an official adult. I realize I’ve technically been an adult for years, but 40 just seems adult in a big way.

Needless to say when January hit and I recognized this was the big year I decided it was time to make some significant changed. I’ve put us on a budget, it’s time to pay off some debt. I’ve been working pretty diligently at my health – trying to eat right and exercise. I get it right some, but I’m still a work in progress.

I’m trying to simplify our lives to some extent – putting the girls on a toy rotation (for another blog), cleaning out closets and getting rid of a ton of stuff. In other words, I’m trying to take control and be responsible and all that adult-like behavior.

How about you? Have you ever made any big changes before a significant birthday? 

I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. The Professor and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is five and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a three and is too smart for her own good.

100 Happy Days Challenge


Many of us started off the new year with a new mantra or a list of resolutions. Maybe we decided to take better care of ourselves or lose weight.

And, maybe we haven’t done too well at keeping those resolutions or remembering that mantra.

But that’s okay. I firmly believe that no matter what’s happened in the past, we have the power to influence our present and our future.

So, even though it’s past the time when most folks are thinking and talking about resolutions, I’ve come up with another one.  And this is one you can share with your whole family.

It’s a potentially attitude-changing, focus-inducing resolution that revolves around being happy.  I’m talking about the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Have you heard of it?

My niece told me about it via Facebook—I love the way FB is helping me connect with family and friends all across the globe. When my niece “shared” the info on the 100 Happy Days Challenge, she said she could really see me enjoying it. And she’s totally right. I love taking pics of what makes me happy. Or taking a pic I think would make someone else happy and sending it to them.

That’s what you’re supposed to do with the 100 Happy Day Challenge—take a daily pic of something that made you happy THAT day. Post it on either FB or Twitter or another social media site using #100HappyDaysChallenge. Or, if you want to keep it private, you can email them directly.  At the end of your 100 days, you’ll have a collage of your happy moments.

Sure life isn’t always good times and smiles. Life’s tough. No matter what age you are. Sometimes we focus on the negative, allowing it to drag us down. This challenge is intended to flip that thinking upside down. Get you focusing on what’s good in your life today, in THIS moment.

Doesn’t that sounds like perfect dinner table conversation for you and your family? Sharing your pics or just sharing the moment that made you smile, even in the midst of a trying day.

So, I’m taking the 100 Happy Days Challenge, and I encourage you to join me.  I’ll be posting mine via Twitter using the #100HappyDaysChallenge tag. Find me via @prisakiss.

100 days from now, let’s see how we did. More importantly, let’s see how our outlook has changed for the positive.

I’m in, are you?


It was early afternoon, within an hour of dismissal. They were in social studies, reviewing explorers….Christopher Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca, Francisco Coronado,  Sieur de La Salle and Hernando Cortes’. Just an ordinary every day kind of day. Then the principal’s serious voice comes across the intercom with the words Official and Lockdown. He may have kept talking. He probably did. But everything blurred, kids scrambling into action, rushing to the back of the classroom and under tables while the teacher hurried to close and lock the door. A little girl huddled there, under a table, afraid to move, afraid to look. Images of Newtown flashed through her mind. She could see the parents who were interviewed that cold winter morning, and she tried not to cry. Shaking while she tried not to move, she thought she heard thuds and screaming, and she started to plan, and pray. She planned what she would do if the door was kicked open and the gunman came in, how she would go limp so maybe he wouldn’t notice her. And she prayed her parents wouldn’t have to be interviewed. She prayed she’d see her family again. Her dog. That her friends would be okay. Her teacher. She prayed and prayed, and then came the knock at the door, the assistant principal informing them that the drill was over.

The drill.

My daughter never heard that word, that key critical word, the one that would have made her not fear for her life, not until it was all over. She thought it was real. For her, for those five minutes when she crouched under a table in the back of her classroom, it was real. And when I saw her half an hour later, she vaulted into my arms, breathlessly telling me how scared she’d been, that she’d thought she was going to die.  And my heart just kinda broke. It broke for her, that she’d experienced that terror. And it broke for her friends, who were gathered around her, around us, saying that they’d thought the same thing, that there was a shooter in their school, like Newtown, and that they were all in danger. That they might die. That their friends might die. It broke for the world we live in, that this is these children’s reality. They know that sometimes people go to work, and bad things happen. That sometimes people go to the movies, and bad things happen. And sometimes, sometimes kids, elementary school kids even, go to school, and never get to go home.

When I was a kid, we had drills, too. We drilled for fire and tornadoes and even a nuclear bomb. For fire we’d leave the building. For tornadoes and the bomb we’d huddle under our desks, as if that would make a difference. But none of us were really scared, not in that Oh-My-God, is this the end kind of way.

But now, today, bad things happen, really bad things, and our kids know it.  They’re not immune to it. Little girls and boys walk to their friend’s house a few blocks away, and never get there.  How do you explain that?

Innocence. It’s one of the most beautiful aspects of childhood.  The hallmark. Childhood is that one time of life when you are surrounded by those who wish nothing more than to take care of you. Childhood is that one time in your life when you shouldn’t really have to worry, be scared. But I can’t help but think, in so many ways, that kind of pure, unencumbered innocence is now no more than a pipe dream. A fantasy. A fairytale of some heralded time in the distant past. But not real anymore. Not reality. Not with what our kids are exposed to far too early. Now they fear walking to their friend’s house, to the movies…to school.

This is their reality. This is the world in which our children live. And it makes me so, so sad.

I sit here tonight, thinking. Wondering. What does this do to them? Our children. What does this kind of fear and horror do to them? What does it do to their young hearts and their young souls? How does it scar them…shape them?

From the day I became a mother, my goal has been to protect my kids, shield them. But I can’t protect them from this, the stressed out, enraged world in which they live. In which we all live. I can’t make it go away, and I can’t keep them in some kind of timeless, suspended bubble.  Would that I could. So instead I find myself sitting here thinking, what can I do? What can I do to help them live in this world?

For me, what I think it comes down to is love. I can love my kids, wrap them in it like a soft, warm, strong blanket, create a safe place for them, a  haven, where no matter how dark and scary the world is, they always know where to find sanctuary.  All the while, inside I quietly mourn for that fantasy of another world, the fading, forgotten world, where children didn’t worry that someday, they might go to school, but never go home again.






Children’s Book Recommendation

As moms we know you understand how busy life gets. Right now life is super busy for our blogging mamas. We should have loads of new content soon, but until then, here’s a book recommendation for those of you with little girls in your life who don’t like to brush their hair.

Princess Galen hates to brush her hair, so when I found this book at an indie bookstore, I had to buy it.


The story is so cute and not preachy at all. Basically, this little girl won’t brush her hair and a few mice move in. Pretty soon, she has so many mice living in her hair, they eat her lunch at school.

photo(7)And they keep her up at night telling Knock, Knock jokes.

photo(5) copyShe loves the mice, but something has got to give. It’s a sweet, funny book kids from 3+ would love.

Have you found any new favorites?

How to Be a Mom and a Writer: Part II

Last time I blogged, I chatted about time management and said the first step is to set goals. You need both long-term and short-term goals.

The next step is managing your time to ensure you meet your goals. First of all, you have to make sure your project is a priority. I’m not saying you ignore your child if he or she is sick or tell your husband you won’t cook for a month, I’m saying that the time you set aside to work is to be used only for that purpose. A lot of writer moms, me included, fall into the trap of spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest during our writing time. That’s fine if you don’t have children who will need you later and your writing time isn’t limited. It’s not fine if that internet time is your only time to write.

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So during your work time, do not go online, do not answer the phone (unless it’s your child’s school), do not answer the door, do not do laundry, vacuum, empty the dishwasher, or any of that. Just work. If you’ve been trying to get your project or book done for a while and you’re having trouble finishing it, I am willing to bet money that it’s because you’re not working during the time you set aside.

Okay, moms, how do you find time to work with kids and husbands and all the rest? Take advantage of Mother’s Day Out programs or local day schools. My daughter goes to a school at church 5 days a week for half a day. That’s my time to write. Before she was old enough to go 5 days or to go at all, I had a college student come in two days a week for 4 hours so I could write. I wrote when she napped. I wrote after she went to bed and before she woke up in the morning. I still do! You can find 30 minutes or an hour a day. Whatever it takes to meet my page goal, that’s what I do.

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Now here’s what I’m not saying. I don’t watch TV (Winter Olympics? Haven’t seen them). I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like. I don’t go out with friends very often. I don’t sleep in. I don’t take weekends off (I may not write new pages, but I always have something I have to get done—like a blog, for example!). It’s not very fun to manage your time like this, but it produces results.

Still want to be a writer? Great. How are you managing your time?

<strong>Shana Galen, Multitasker Mama</strong>
I’m Shana G<strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”><img title=”Shana Galen” alt=”” src=”; width=”150″ height=”152″ /></a></strong>alen, AKA Multitasker Mama (and aren’t we all?). I’m a wife, mom to a four-year-old daughter I call Baby Galen. My parenting motto is, “Keep moving. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up.” Or maybe that’s my fitness motto?



How to Be a Mom and a Writer: Part I

A lot of moms ask me how I manage to write books and be a mom, a wife, and do all the stuff that goes along with that. Here’s an admission: I don’t do it all very well much of the time. Sometimes I don’t play with my daughter enough. Sometimes I don’t spend enough time with my husband. Sometimes I get behind on work. Almost all the time I don’t sleep enough.

Still, I do manage to write and promote several books a year. How do I do it? I wish I had a really glamorous suggestion, but the truth is the answer for me has been stringent time management.

If you want to write a book, or complete any big task, you have to do two things. First, you have to set goals. Secondly, you have to make a schedule.

Let’s talk about goals, and in the next blog (February 18) I’ll chat about schedules. There are two types of goals—short term and long term. When I’m writing a book, my long term goal is easy—the book’s due date. What if you’ve never written a book or don’t have a publisher-set due date? Let’s chat about that more after we discuss short-term goals.

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If you look at the above photo of the calendar I have sitting beside my computer, you can see (Maybe, it’s small!) on Sunday I have penciled in SS and numbers. SS is the manuscript I’m working on, and the numbers are the page number I should be on by the end of the week. So each week I have a short-term goal of 25 pages. Each weekday I have a shorter-term goal of 5 pages. My books are about 240 manuscript pages, so that means I can write the draft of a book in about 10 weeks. But I have to meet my goals everyday. That’s where time-management comes in, and I’ll chat about that next week.

Okay, so how do you know how long it will take you to write your book or complete your project?  It all depends on how much time you have in a day and how many pages you can write a day. Let’s say you have 1 hour a day, maybe during naptime, to write. Write for that one hour every day for a week and record how many pages you wrote each day. Average those, and you know how many pages you can do a day. When Princess Galen was a newborn, I could write 2 pages a day. Now that she’s 4, I can do 5. Let’s not even talk about the heady days before she was born when I wrote 10-15!

Most books are between 75,000-100,000 words. How long are your pages? 250 words? If you write 2 pages a day, that’s 500 words a day. You can write 2500 words a week (unless you also work on weekends). That means you need 30 weeks to finish your book. Want to finish it sooner? Write more pages a day.

The point is that if you break a big task, like writing a book, into smaller segments, you can get it done—even if you only have an hour a day!

**Since I’m chatting about writing, I couldn’t allow the chance to go by without telling you that I’m giving away free gifts!

Sapphires Gift

If you pre-order my upcoming release, SAPPHIRES ARE AN EARL’S BEST FRIEND, and send proof of pre-order to you get the free gift! Hurry because this ends February 28.


Shana Galen, Multitasker Mama
I’m Shana Galen, AKA Multitasker Mama (and aren’t we all?). I’m a wife, mom to a four-year-old daughter I call Baby Galen. My parenting motto is, “Keep moving. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up.” Or maybe that’s my fitness motto?

We Have Your Baby

She was found one cool fall afternoon, wandering alongside a busy road. She was tired and hungry, scared. She was picked up and given shelter for the night, but she had no identification, so with no way of knowing where … Continue reading

Love Notes

love notes image


Friday is Valentine’s Day; a day that celebrates love. But here’s a thought, why wait ‘til February 14th to show your loved ones you care?

It doesn’t have to be in big ways. Sometimes all you need is a gesture, a word, a smile… or a simple love note.

When my girls were younger and I left for a trip, I’d grab a dry erase marker and write a note on their bathroom mirror. That way, every time they looked in the mirror while I was away they’d see my message: Make good choices, XOXO, Mom or Love & miss you, XOXO, Mom. And they’d know I was thinking of them.

Occasionally I’d drop a note in their lunch boxes—even when they were teenagers and pulling out a napkin with a big red heart on it might not look cool. These notes might say something like: A+ Effort, XOXO, Mom or You’re awesome! XOXO, Mom or You ROCK! XOXO, Mom.

In high school I snuck love notes in their cheerleading or show choir travel bags, and later, when they later headed off to college and study abroad opportunities, I snuck notes in their suitcases. Messages like: Break a leg, superstar! XOXO, Mom or Have fun, be safe and know I love you! XOXO, Mom or The world awaits your greatness! XOXO,Mom.

It was a simple way to let my girls know that while I wasn’t with them physically in that moment, I’d always carry them in my heart and thoughts. My note was a tangible connection to home—where they are always welcome, always loved and always cherished.

Last month, at the end of the Christmas holiday, when my middle daughter returned to her graduate program up North, she left a few surprises for me. As I crawled into bed that first evening, sad because all my girls had gone back to their own lives, I pulled back my bed covers to find a love note on my pillow.  The next morning I moved aside a bauble on my vanity tabletop and found another one. When I tugged open my armoire doors, I discovered another.  Later, hiding amongst my jewelry boxes, yet another.

Over the next few days I discovered a total of seven love notes hidden throughout my room. Notes that read:

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I’ll admit it, I cried when I found the first one. And the second. Then actually giggled with glee when I found the third. By the fourth it was a delightful game.

As moms we try hard to pass along our positive values and beliefs. I strive to show my girls that family is important, and you have to let them know it in words and actions.

My daughter’s surprise love notes brought tears to my eyes for multiple reasons. One, just ‘cuz they show she loves me. Two, because it shows she “gets” it—even the small things make a big difference. Three, because I’m sappy about emotional moments. Four, because I love her so darn much. Five, because it was proof of the circle of love I’ve been trying so hard to create with my girls.

So what about you, have you left love notes for your loved ones? Or what do you do to show them how you feel in simple ways?

I do some stuff right….

There’s so much pressure in our world to have the perfect life or to at least strive for it. I know I fall into this trap a lot. But here’s the truth, my life is messy, my house gets messy, I’m always behind on laundry, my writing is messy, I don’t consistently exercise (though I’m working on this), I eat entirely too many m&m’s and I’m so not a perfect mom. But every now and then I do something that makes me proud of where I am that day, sometimes it’s only one tiny thing, but you know I’ll take it. So here are some things that I (mostly) do right…

miss_spiders_tea_partyI read to my kids. Even when it’s reading the same I-can-read book that has no plot, and zero excitement. I don’t play with them nearly enough – as in getting on the floor and grabbing a Barbie and using my imagination with them. But I do read them books. And I dance with them. And I snuggle them and get silly with them.

I’ve finally conquered the paper monster. I don’t know about y’all, but we get an extraordinary amount of mail, I’d say about 80% of this is crap (junk mail, flyers, political crap & credit card offers – you know what’s irritating? credit card offers from companies where you already have a credit card – check your mailing list, people). But after many trial and errors for the right process and solution, I finally have one that works that keeps paperwork from eating my house. (for the most part…)

IMG_0941I make sure we eat pretty healthily *most* of the time. My girls get lots of fruit and they eat veggies even if they don’t want to. And they have to try new things, even if the chicken is “wet” (Emily, can you believe Babybee said that to me last week? She is so my kid!) They snack on raisins and trail mix with nuts. I try to make sure that we’re all set for the week with healthy go-to foods, boiled eggs, cut up veggies, fruit, etc.

I learn from my mistakes. I don’t know about y’all, but I screw up all the time, in all areas of my life, but especially in parenting. But I think I learn from my mistakes and try to correct things in the future. As much as I hate it, I do recognize when I’m wrong and try to move forward in a better direction.

Hopefully there are other things I do right, but that’s my list for today. I could fill a book with all the things I do wrong, but I think we put too much focus on those things. Sometimes we need to step back and acknowledge that we do do some things very right. So what are your things that you’re doing right?