End of School Year Musings

Please take a minute and lighten your day and read --->  the funniest blog post ever by Jen Hatmaker. She hits the nail on the head today with her end of school year musings of a worn out mom!  

My I'm kinda glad those days are over, though they were definitely fun then.

I planned a 4th grade Girls 101 workshop for next week, which meant I had to be advertising and talking to moms about it all last month. Comments I got were "help!! end of school year events!! been busy!!!" and "haven't checked email, sorry!! busy!!!"

I forgot. Forgot just how busy that is.

I'm sorry to moms who I helped irritate as I planned those end of year gifts and parties for the classroom years ago! I had my pseudo-over the top phase, but balanced out by my shrinking away from the mom who bought monogrammed lunch kits for each kid in class for the last day of school lunch. Really?? Let's be fun, but isn't that a bit much? Moms were too nice to say anything, but I still glanced around curiously at other moms during the party, trying to figure out if I was alone in my thinking....I don't think I was. You know, the nice Christian mom looks. We shouldn't really gossip about or say blatantly mean things about another mom, but we can give each other looks, widen our eyes, raise our eyebrows, give a questionable smirk....If nothing was said out loud, it doesn't count, right? 

Relief hit when one school we had our kids in said "No purchased gifts for teachers. It has to be homemade, handwritten, or flowering". YES! I'm sure those teachers probably threw away many homemade gifts, but claps for simplicity.

Times do change. Having only high schoolers at home now, I barely know what's going on with school. I doubt I could name two of my daughter's teachers (the one who goes to the large public school). I might be able to name two of my other daughter's teachers (the one who attends the large private school). Maybe.

In fact, two weeks ago, the funniest thing happened. Maybe you saw pictures of the Girls 101 Workshop I did at a local elementary school this semester. Well the 6th graders BEGGED me to come to their year end award assembly. So I did. It was so sweet to see all their awards and get attacked by their hugs.

Fast forward to my exit from that sweet assembly, I flipped through Instagram on my way out to the car and see a picture of MY OWN daughter, at the same time, at her school, smiling on stage with the title JUNIOR CLASS ASSEMBLY. 

I panicked and texted her, "AM I SUPPOSED TO BE AT YOUR SCHOOL? Did you have a school awards assembly??" She sent back, "No, it was super short and no parents were there."


But sad.

Oh well.

Enter the new era of ..not being busy with end of school year events!


5 Things Story- Bad Grades, Bad Friends...HELP!

Are you a fan of the 5 Things Stories on our website? If you're new to our site, click on this link to find a variety of stories written by moms of all different stages of parenting. 

We ask moms of unique experiences and different stages of mom-ming, "What are 5 Things you're glad you did in raising your daughter?"

Everyone tends to list regrets first, but when forced to think hard, most can come up with some basic things that were very beneficial, looking back. My hope is that these stories can be of encouragement to us who are still in the trenches.

As I was thinking through who to have write a 5 Things story for me, this friend came to mind. Though I haven't seen her much in recent years, when she lived near she always impressed me with her parenting style. She tells in this story that she was a single mom until her daughter was 12.  

I didn't know much of this story until reading this post. It is so good. I'll let it speak for itself.

"Mom, I need to talk to you about something." Here it comes, I thought to myself. I could tell by her face that whatever  she was getting ready to say wasn't something she thought I would approve of.  She was 11 years old going on 16 and had been hinting around about how fun and exciting it would be to kiss a boy.  She was a social girl who liked to be on the go and I loved that quality in her.  This also meant that she developed a precocious nature early on. 

"Okay mom," she says, "Please listen all the way through and let me finish before you give me an answer." 

I could already tell the answer was going to be no,  but I agreed to her terms and she continued. 

"I've been thinking about this for a long time, and you said I wasn't  allowed to kiss boys, but I feel like I'm ready, and I need to. If you would just let me do it then I wouldn't have to wonder what it's like anymore and that would get it out of my system.  Before you say no, please think about it".

"Let me get this straight,"  I said. "Your opinion is that if you get kissed, that will be all you need, and from then on out, until a few more years go by, you won't ask me again?"

 "Yes!" she piped in enthusiastically.  "I promise I will not ask about it again until I'm older." 

She was so sweet and I wanted to kiss her for her innocence and transparency.  Early on, we established a system of honesty, that she adhered to.  The agreement between us was such that if she was honest with me even when she made mistakes and was scared to admit it, then we would talk it through and I would help her find a solution. However, if she did lie or withhold the truth from me, there were consequences that would be applied from me, as well as the natural consequences of her mistake itself. So basically, she would be making it way harder for herself if she lied to me.   

While it had worked in past situations, this time I was in a catch 22.  If I told her no without explanation, she would resent me and most likely do it anyway. On the other hand, there was no way that I was going to give her permission. After some thought I told her, "Well, let me ask you a question. When you desire something like food for instance, do you want just a small taste of it, or enough to satisfy you?"

She pondered for a moment and said, "I would want more." 

I gently explained to her how in the history of humanity we have proven time and time again that we always want more of a good thing.  In this case that "good thing" would be more intimacy and physical contact. After all, it was natural to feel that way because that is how we are made. 

Sometimes, the experiences we haven't had yet can become the only thing  we are able to focus on. Kind of like a dog with a bone.

"I think you should allow yourself to dream about it for a little while longer. Trust me when I tell you that the mystery and desire for something is the first and often most pleasant part of things. After that, it becomes normal, like the chocolate cake you eat for dessert. It's good, but not near as delicious as it would be if I told you that you couldn't have it, while it was sitting in front of you. You would want it more than ever. However, if you put that piece of cake out of your mind and focus on something else, it will lose its power.  You are powerful and in charge of your choices, and before you kiss a boy, you need to learn more about yourself. Your journey will bring you to a boy's lips someday but until then, enjoy your cake."

That satisfied her for a time, but I knew this wasn't over and boy, was I right.  My sweet, precious, honest,  little angel turned into someone else when she hit 12.  Her body was changing and her hormones were bouncing around inside her like a jackhammer out of control. Concurrently, I met and married a man whom she liked as well.  Although he was very good to her and loved her, she was angry and feeling as if I had deserted her.  I had never been married before and up until that point had put all of my energy and focus into being a good mom for my daughter.  At the same time that I got married, I uprooted her life and moved to a small town where my husband was offered a job.  So there she was- 12 years old, feeling deserted, ripped away from her friends and home to start a new life that she didn't ask for. And don't forget the HORMONES!

She began to sneak out and lie to me.  I overreacted and made things worse, even though at the time I thought I was handling the situation correctly.  Nothing I tried worked.  She was dead set on doing what she wanted, regardless of the consequences and division it was causing in the house. The more she rebelled the more upset I became and the more emotionally I reacted to the situation.  I was at a loss.  My husband and I were going to her school several times a month to talk to teachers and to try and get some feedback on what we could do.  Her grades were slipping from A's to C's,  D's, and F's, but mostly D's and F's.  

I was scared and was watching her throw away potential opportunities for her future.  She didn't care. All the talking, screaming, grounding, taking away, and everything else we tried, was all a vain attempt that pushed us farther into a chasm of despair.  This was my beautiful daughter.  When did she turn into this mean girl? I didn't know this girl.
Her life was all about her social life and trying to be popular.  She was consumed with boys and fun.   I wished that I had instilled better values in her and I was feeling like a failure.  I prayed, cried often and worried about her all of the time.

Then it hit me!  If I didn't feel like I knew her anymore,  then that was the first thing that needed to change.  

Instead of losing my cool with her, I dropped the attitude and began empathizing with her. Instead of yelling at her, I decided to embrace her, accept her choices and help her through it calmly, just as I had done whenever she came to me with her mistakes. I had high hopes for her and I wanted her to hope for herself once again.  I began to listen and tried not to preach when she told me things that scared the "you know what" out of me. I would panic inside and still overreact at times. 

So I practiced taking  myself out of the equation.  When she broke rules I tried not to overreact, which changed the whole dynamic.

 At first, it was hard for me to grasp the idea of accepting her while not approving of her behavior. Then I began to hear statements like "I guess I messed that up", or "I will do that differently next time."  She began to see the importance of her choices! 

Instead of using the word "grounded", we told her it was just a moment to take a breath and think about things, and that it would be good to spend more time together and stay closer to home.  She knew that "technically" meant she was grounded, but the small changes in our attitude put all the ownership on her. It was no longer about her mean mother trying to control her, it was all about her.  

When she wanted to go out with her friends,  I monitored her plans by checking them and even confirming with other parents about the plans.  I did most of that without her knowing so she wouldn't feel controlled and mortified. Even then,  she would find new ways to lie.  It was always with the same bunch of friends that she got into trouble.  I didn't want to demand that she couldn't hang out with those people, because I knew she would miss the point, get angry with me, then use that as an excuse to justify her selfish behavior.  

I also didn't want to engage in the task of constant monitoring either, so I told her she could be friends with them if she wanted to, but she could not go to their houses ever again and unfortunately, they were not welcome in our house either. It felt like we were crushing her and it felt like torture for me to have to do it.  I didn't sleep well that night because I knew she felt scared to have to deal with it.  

When she saw her friends at school, she would try to catch up with them, but they began to resent her because they felt rejected.  She was watching old friends fade out and didn't have any replacements.  Within a couple of weeks, her friends grew tired of not being able to see her. It eventually became too much effort for them and they dumped her. 

By this time she was about 14 and her grades were still declining.  It was the end of the school year and she was complaining that it was taking too long for summer to arrive.  She had only a few friends that she could hang out with and felt lonely.  When she would complain, I would listen with empathy and instead of reminding her why she couldn't hang out with those particular people, I encouraged her to get out there and meet new friends.  

In short, I changed my approach but the rules didn't change. Instead of getting on to her, I rewarded her with compliments about how brave she was to go through it and come out on top.  She liked the compliments and the support and began to focus on what she was looking for in a friend.  

At this same time, her grades were a big problem and I was completely lost on how to help her.  She was getting ready to enter high school and I felt if things didn't change soon, she would ultimately bury herself in bad grades and give up altogether.  After many failed attempts and teacher student discussions, she still refused to study and didn't care about school.  The only thing left for me to do was talk to the principal and check out all her text books that she received a C or below on, and bring them home.  

I explained to her that since she decided to play while everyone else was working, she had to work while everyone else was playing.  After all, how was she going to move forward a year if she didn't know what happened the year before?  Since learning is something that is done in steps, she had to learn this step this summer or be held back.  The school wasn't going to hold her back  I was.  

She had managed to skimp by with D's but that was ridiculous and unacceptable in my opinion and she had to learn what she'd missed. That summer, every morning at 8:00am, she sat at the table and read a chapter then completed the questions and tests at the end of each chapter, then left it for me to check.  She could not go anywhere, watch tv, or do anything until her chapters were done.  She had to complete Math, History, Geography, and Science.  It was a difficult time for her but she knew she didn't have any another alternative.

When she complained, I reminded her that it was her choice to do it this way. She caught on very quickly to the idea that if she was going to have to do the work regardless, she might as well do it during the school year so she could enjoy her summer with her friends.

One day she asked me, "Mom, when are you going to trust me again? I'm not perfect but I'm trying." 

I thought about that piece of chocolate cake and how we as humans want what we can't have. Sometimes we can become so focused on that one thing we want, that we forget to enjoy what we do have. "If I have ever given you the impression that I expect perfection from you then I am sorry for that. All I expect you to do is your best and stop putting yourself in positions that are going to restrict your life.  This big world is your oyster. It starts here in this town, in this school, with these people. Get busy making it exciting.  All you have to do to replace trust and freedom is to be willing to say  no to three things.

"Huh?" she said, "What three things?"  

I said, "Enjoy everything this town has to offer except say no to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Just say no to those three things. There are so many things you have to choose from.  If you are dead set on putting your energy into any of those three things you are wasting your time and telling me that you need more time at home to evaluate your priorities. Additionally, if I can't trust you, then I have to spend my time worrying about you and I'm not willing to put myself in that position, so your freedoms will be limited to my convenience. Say yes to everything you want to do, within reason of course,  but no to those three things. Or, you can continue living with all these restrictions. If you think about it, I think you will find its a great offer." 

The light went on. Then  I decided it was time to get her very busy so her choices wouldn't be as hard.  She was very surprised when she was informed that each semester she needed to be involved with two after-school activities, sponsored by the school.  She could choose whatever she wanted to do but she must sign up for two at a time.  She signed up for soccer and drama club, where she began to meet other kids who had goals of college and scholarships.  Then after those were over, she went to sign up for two more, but couldn't make her mind up, so she did three.  

She became a driven leader and had a slew of people to hang out with who were all making excellent grades.  As the first year of high school progressed, her grades went from bad to good.  She began to feel that she was the driver of her own life and all her choices were hers to own

 She was now clicking along and because she was actively involved with school, she began developing relationships with her teachers and therefore didn't want to let them down by doing poor work.  She excelled in speech and received awards and honors for her work.  She began to excel in every area. By the time her senior year was over, she graduated on the Dean's list and received scholarships from local groups, as well as a full scholarship to a school in NYC.  She was also the senior class president and prom queen. 

Looking back, I'm so very glad those years are behind us.  It was hard for all of us and I can surely see how certain mistakes I made helped  lead her to the unhealthy choices she was making.
She now lives in NYC and all those memories are put away in time like an old box in the attic.  It's nice to thumb through old memories. It's as if they were old photographs being laid out to reminisce on. 

It is very ironic, though, that after all the preaching that I did to her, I would have learned a thing or two myself; but to be honest, I'm the one still trying to figure out how to say no to chocolate cake."

What a good story!!

This post has so much practical wisdom and advice in it. I chose 5 things to focus on that are great things to apply if you're having problems with your tween or teen. 

1.  System of honesty- I like the agreement. Tell me and I'll help you. Don't tell me and you'll have natural consequences PLUS mine.

2.  Step IN instead of OUT-  "If I didn't feel like I knew her anymore,  then that was the first thing that needed to change." It's so tempting, and much easier, to step away when things are hard. But this is true- sometimes at the hardest times, that's when the biggest effort should be made.

3. Take yourself out of the equation- "When she broke rules I tried not to overreact, which changed the whole dynamic." Listening and empathizing more feels risky, but may work. I remember when someone told me to try to think of myself as a judge- take the emotion out and simply dole out consequences. That helps when we want to overreact. Of course, we need to be more relational than a judge would be (lol). Instead of blowing up, we can remove ourselves a bit from the emotional state we may find ourselves in...calm down, breathe, listen, find empathy, and then give out any consequences that may need to happen. Not as a mean mad parent, but as a deliverer of the consequences of the choices that they themselves made.

4. Focus on the positive when you can- "Instead of getting on to her I rewarded her with compliments about how brave she was to go through it and come out on top."

5. Give a simple goal- Say no to these 3 things: say no to drugs, alcohol and sex. Stop putting yourself in positions that are going to restrict your life. This last sentence really shows that it's the choices they are making that are 1) their choice and 2) going to limit their lives. It gives them the power to realize different choices will give more freedom. 

Another point, we as parents often don't like to do the hard things that will make change in our kids. It hurts to cause pain or watch them suffer, but I think this is a great example of times when a little pain brought great reward and change. Parenting is NOT for the weak of heart! 

Be encouraged. Be strong. Do what you gotta do for that long term benefit of change. 

So Just What Are the 5 Things?

I had a friend ask me a question yesterday, as we sipped our Pina Colada Slushies.  A very good question.

She said, "My sister and I have a question. What ARE the 5 things?!"

I kinda like it that there's a bit of a mystery to the blog name. Yet I also realized, "Good heavens, I haven't explained myself well."

I forget that so many people read this blog on a smart phone and never see the actual website, on a real computer! The website solves a bit of the mystery.

I heard a person say, (actually it was a tweet I saw), "Don't assume people know what you do. You have to tell them." It's time to tell again.

So, the 5 Things name....

When I began this blog, I wanted to interview moms who have raised kids and ask them the question, "Looking back, what are 5 things that you're glad you did, in raising girls?"

Ya know, throw a few bones of encouragement to those of us still in the trenches! Give us some perspective. Please!

If you look on the actual website,, you will see a link called "5 Things Stories". There is a long list of stories where women have shared their varied experiences in raising children.

I figured women who have survived parenting years would have a good perspective on what's really important, in order to help us keep our focus. Stories of moms that have been through very specific situations have been shared too, in hopes of being an encouragement to someone going through the same.

It's easy for moms to start talking about the regrets or the "I wish" thoughts, but they have to think a little harder and hone their thoughts to answer this question.

In our busy worlds, sometimes it's just good to hear a succint message of encouragement from moms who have already walked our paths.

Hence, the stories. Go to the website and check out a few of them! I'll continue to add more. If you have a good idea for one, please message me!

Back to my friend and our slushies, her question prompted me to proceed with a series of posts I've been working on regarding the 5 Things theme I got excited! I needed a nudge and her question, right there in Taco Bell, was the nudge I needed.

It's time to take it a step farther, so stay tuned!!!

Let's Talk About Girls' Attire...( can of worms)

Today a friend sent me a link to this article from our local paper, Prom Dress Code Has Moms Up In (Bare) Arms. A New Jersey school banned strapless dresses for middle school formals and the parents protested loudly!

Here is a link to the original article in USA Today.

Let's just stir the pot today, there are bound to be all kinds of opinions on this topic...what is appropriate attire for girls. I'll get back to the prom topic, but first let's talk about leggings.

There has been alot in the news lately about girls attire in general. A middle school in California recently banned leggings as pants at school. Read about that one right here

Personal opinion, I have seen too many grown women who should be banned from wearing leggings as pants. But alas, there is no clothing patrol. I have seen "fashion citation" notepads that are jokes, perhaps we could use them for real?

Having three girls, I know the struggle of finding clothing to fit certain dress codes. We have had times of "being under" and "not being under" dress codes of schools.

My kids wear leggings as pants on occasion, but I'm always making sure the top they wear covers their rear end well. This legging-as-pants trend is on the rise, because now it's a constant thing to see girls and women of all ages, as well as celebrities sporting leggings, with nothing covering their rear. To me it just looks indecent. Call me the old Church Lady (remember SNL?), but I do. Even if you are in magnificent shape it doesn't work, in my humble opinion.  Huffington Post asked guys what they thought, and thankfully most questioned girls' judgment on the outfit, even though opinions differed on whether or not it was attractive.

I have had a daughter call me from school about being in trouble for wearing yoga pants, the day I let her do as she wished, knowing I'd be getting a phonecall later that day. Phonecall came. That solved it. I supported the school.

What is interesting and a little sad in both the legging and the prom dress episodes, the ones causing the backlash are parents! Well, let me correct that, the moms. In the legging incident, parents said:

"Frankly, the whole wandering eyes impacting academic performance is an issue for parents of said young men to concern themselves with," she wrote. "Boys should learn young that the answer to their inability to prioritize school work shouldn’t be 'cover up the ladies!'"

Another parent said, "Boys need to be taught to respect women no matter what they're wearing, and that's a big deal," Jerelyn Kruljac, a local parent, told

I agree with the lady that boys need to be taught to respect women no matter what, but from the article it appears that it was stated in defense of girls wearing whatever. I don't agree they should wear "whatever". No matter what she wears, the boys should still be responsible for their own actions and respect, yes. I don't believe we should put all of the onus on girls to be the responsible ones, no. But I do think there is some common decency in dress that girls should abide by, out of respect for nature, themselves and their guy friends and boyfriends.

Another girl I know wore a dress to school designed in such a way that certain parts were highlighted. A gutsy and caring male friend of hers said immediately upon seeing her, "Don't you know that when you were things like that boys will look straight at your boobs?" She was mortified.

Boys like this I would love to personally see and thank. Apparently he wasn't rude about it, but helping a friend out that he didn't think was the type to want that kind of attention.

I'm not against the school for having a dress code. I'm not opposed to a nice boy saying something so honest to girls. I don't think the boys are at fault for noticing what's in their faces. Sure, the boys need to learn to control themselves regardless of what females do or wear. But is it really fair of us to not respect them, or help them along by dressing decently?

Guys by nature appreciate beauty, we can't be mad at them for noticing. On the other hand, I've been very frustrated before in the language and talk of some boys who have no respect for females, and make unnecessary remarks, even to girls in jeans and a sweatshirt.  There does need to be a standard of respect from them definitely. I'm just saying let's help them a bit, as we more importantly help ourselves, by dressing with respect in general.

I know that girls secretly love to know that they are beautfiful and attractive. When girls discover they have a little power in their looks, I think the motives become a little blurred. Do you really just HAVE to wear leggings "to be comfortable", or is there a small thrill knowing guys are looking?

I have my own dress codes for my girls while they live here, or if I'm buying the clothing when they are in college. For example, I don't buy the dresses that are popular now that have stitching on the outside of the dress to make the front of the dress look like a bra. Not gonna buy it. If it's too short or too low, or says something crazy, I'm not going to buy it. Saw these at the mall yesterday:

Back to prom dresses. There was a trend that I hoped and prayed didn't catch on locally, after seeing it on celebrities and in pageants, and in some prom dress stores. Thankfully I didn't see any of it at our local prom. As my daughter and I were in Dallas shopping for prom dresses, she had a moment of fear wondering what I would do when I saw a load of girls in the try on area, all wearing the "current look" of faux see through dresses. They are dressy and beautiful, but have segments of the dress that are flesh toned, to give the illusion of being see through, though they aren't actually see through.
The girls were surrounded by smiling proud moms. I wanted to stand in the middle and say "Does no one here see anything wrong with any of this?!" But since I was with the one who doesn't like public attention or scandal, I spared her.

I just don't get it.  I know friends will disagree. But I'm so curious, moms of boys, what are your thoughts on your son's date wearing that?

Now. To the original article and the banning of strapless gowns. On one side, as a mom of girls who has had to shop for dresses, it is hard to find much that isn't strapless. On many girls it's completely appropriate. On others it isn't. I know of one girl who held her dress up all through prom as she danced because she would flop out of it otherwise. I'm more worried about super short or skin tight dresses that girls wear than strapless. We all have our own thing.

But if the school is making an effort towards appropriate dress, wouldn't it benefit everyone overall more to just go along with it, and be thankful they care? Yes it's a  pain and realistically we'll all probably complain about it.  But given the alternative, seeing some dresses that appear three sizes too small, perhaps it's a happy medium. Unfortunately not all kids have parents who will help them dress well.

At our own prom, I only saw beautiful dresses. This may be a more regional issue too, I don't know. But when attire in a school leans towards being out of control, and the school makes an effort toward decency, I think it's a shame for parents to lead an uproar against it.

What do you think? I welcome your comments, feedback, disagreements and opinions!  (Respectfully stated, of course, as they always are.)