Category Archives: Family Life


As expected homeschool is not all rainbows and butterflies.  Surprising, I know.   The kids and I have had our share of run ins over doing their work, fighting with each other and the normal things that would be expected from children.  However, the most unexpected challenge has been the making of new friends – not the kids making new friends, but me.

I miss my moms.

I miss chatting in carpool and catching up with friends at those stupid school fundraisers.  I miss the circle of support that you receive from a friend rolling their eyes with you during curriculum night. The knowing glare when the teacher explains the daily reading log and you’re both thinking, “yeah, that will never happen”.   The communal groan when the sign up sheet gets passed around for  the third classroom party.  The community you feel knowing that you are all just trying to survive – together.

Don’t get me wrong, my friends – my real friends – have been incredibly supportive.  We’ve had play dates and phone calls and I know that they are around me supporting me in my choice, even if it is different from their choice.  That is real friendship – a friend who can still support you while doing something different.  But I miss the community of people who ARE doing the same thing.  I miss the comfort and confirmation from other mothers knowingly nodding their head in agreement and encouragement.

Recently the kids and I attend a homeschool event and as we walked into the room we realized that everybody already knew everyone and as everybody happily chatted and played we were left in the corner.  I tried to make eye contact with several kids and moms but most smiled and looked back to their conversations.  The awkwardness and isolation washed over all of us — Lucy, feeling it the most acutely. As we left having not a single person talk to us Lucy said, “I need a break from meeting new kids.  Can’t we just hang out at home?”

I slinked home feeling defeated and insecure.  Perhaps I was not the best person to teach my kids to make friends. Perhaps I made the wrong decision ripping them from the bosom of their friends at school.  Perhaps they will grow up to be social outcasts.

Wednesday came and the kids and I went to Max’s first speech class.  As we sat in the lobby waiting for the speech therapist another family walked in.  The mom tall with long red hair, a young girl with glasses, about Lucy’s age and their youngest daughter with long beautiful blonde curls.  The speech therapist arrived and the youngest girl and Max walked off to class.  I introduced myself and asked if they were also homeschoolers (it was in the middle of the day so it was a safe assumption). She timidly responded, “yes, this is our first year” – I controlled my enthusiasm as much as I could when I responded, “ours too. How old is your daughter?” She pulled up a chair next to me and said “This is Madison, and she’s ten”

Thank the Lord above!!

Well, Lucy and Madison hit it off right away with a whole list of things in common and as the mother and I chatted so did we.  As we walked back to the car Lucy turned and said “I made a new friend.”  Friendship is always easy with the right person.



4 Reasons Why Being an Old Mom Rocks and 1 Reason Why It Sucks

I was 39 when I gave birth to Harper, medically classifying me as a mother of “advanced maternal age”.   It is so nice of the medical community to not just call me “old”.  Since then I’ve had more than one woman ask me if I have regretted having children later in life.  I find this to be such an odd question because it somehow implies that I chose to have children this late in life.  Although I’m sure there are many women who actually “chose”, I did not.  My late motherhood is a product of the natural progression of my life (marriage at 30 + infertility issues + one miscarriage).  As I watch my high school friends send their children to prom and college and begin to enjoy their empty nest I’m still trying to get my last little chick to poop in the potty.  And although I sit here physically exhausted after spending the past week dealing with three children with the stomach flu I can’t imagine my life unfolding any other way.  Here are my top 4 reasons it’s awesome to be an old mom and 1 reason why it sucks.

1.) I Didn’t Give Up Anything

Our society is obsessed with the role of women.  There are books written about it and specialists and therapists and TED talks all about the choice women face between career and family.  It is rather absurd since the real answer is unique to each person.  I feel lucky that I have been able to be both mother and professional.  I started working in advertising and media in 1992. I started in radio, moved to non-profit, then online media.  I’ve worked as a strategist, project manager, consultant, business analyst and a myriad of other titles.  I’ve had clients in England, France, Japan, Columbia, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere.  I’ve traveled and met CEOs and had large expense accounts, managing million dollar clients.  It was fun and exciting and when I walked away from that in 2006, when Max was born, I didn’t think twice about leaving.  I have been able to have both – family and career – and for that I’m lucky.  As an older mom you have the unique ability to experience both sides of the fence – wholly and completely without feeling like you are choosing one over the other.

2.) Selflessness Versus Selfishness

When you are young you are selfish and myopic.  This isn’t a bad thing, this is just biology.  You are consumed with your own life, your own career, your own needs.  Sometime in your mid-twenties you are ready to think about somebody else and so you get married but children demand a whole different level of selflessness.  In order to be a parent you must be willing to give up practically EVERYTHING.  The demands of parenthood are extreme.  The thing about being in my thirties is that I don’t mind giving all that stuff up. It is easier for me to understand the demands of the now versus the demands of the later.

3.) Money

I’m more financially stable.  With fourteen years of career under my belt and a solid salary I was able to pay off debt, invest in a 401K and build a nest egg. Yes, children are expensive and my kids won’t be going to private schools or fancy colleges but they also won’t be in debt. In addition we can afford the vacation here and there, a bigger house, and we don’t have quite all the same money worries that so many young parents face.

4.) Confidence

There are few areas of life that are filled with as much unsolicited advice as parenting.  The sheer number of books that populate the world telling you how to be a parent is mind boggling and when you add that to the advice given from well meaning relatives and friends — well it is a miracle anybody gets it wrong.  All that advice can make you doubt every step, every decision and you can find yourself feeling the need to stand so firmly in your convictions that you become the self-righteous parent.  The nice thing about being an older mom is that I don’t give two craps what other people think.  Your late thirties and forties brings you a good dose of self confidence and belief in yourself.  As a result the whims of parenting trends don’t ruffle my feathers nearly as much.

All of this sounds lovely but there are definite downsides to being an older mom and the number one reason is biology.  When you’re twenty and have kids your body bounces right back. The weight melts away and your stomach retains it’s shape.  The burden on your body is barely felt.  In my thirties having children has left an indelible mark.  My bladder control was gone after child number 2.  My ability to keep my stomach acid in my stomach left after child number 3.  My abdominal muscles were permanently damaged after child number 2 and just made worse by child number 3.  Far too often I hear doctors say to me, “yeah, well we can’t fix that, that is what happens after three kids in your thirties”.  These young mothers who so self-righteously complain that if women just watched their weight and exercised they could fit back into their bikini need to have their third child at 39 and then tell me how easy it is.  For the record I never gained more than 20lbs with any of my pregnancies and yet the damage to my body would tell a different story. The nice thing though is that nobody expects me to look good in a bikini at 43 so I guess it doesn’t really matter.


What’s In A Name?


Lucy calls me “Mommy” because she fears growing up and away from me.  It is her desire to never lose me that she clings to her childhood.

Max calls me “Mama” because he doesn’t want to be like his sister.  He’s a tough guy  – a guy who doesn’t want anybody to know that in his quiet moments he needs his mommy like everybody else.

Harper  calls me “Mom” because she desperately wants to be a big kid and free of all things that classify her as being a baby –  except actually using the toilet.

Lucy – The Original

As a parent you are always looking for yourself in your children, and sometimes you don’t have to look very hard.  You need to only talk to Lucy for thirty minutes to know that she is MY daughter.  The similarities range from the same crooked smile to our painfully logical minds (that exclude common sense).  She talks non-stop, has a strong sense of fairness and a passion for words and books that only rivals my own.  And yet, there are times when Lucy surprises me with her own independent streak – when I realize that she is not a smaller version of ME, but a smaller version of herself.

Lucy has developed an interest in photography.  She has been taking pictures on her iTouch for several months now and with a tiny bit of direction from David has started to develop her own “eye”.  She has been mainly experimenting with textures and nature.  Her natural creative and artistic abilities far out strip my own and are more similar to her father – or perhaps her grandmother – or perhaps Lucy.  Wherever it comes from it most definitely does NOT come from me.

I recently got around to decorating the powder room (it has only taken me 3 years to finally get that done, but whatever – don’t judge).  As I pulled together a couple of small items for the bathroom I printed and framed two of Lucy’s pictures.  The first two Lucy Morley originals.

There is a special feeling when your children excel at something in which you have a shared interest, but there is even greater pride in watching them succeed at something for which you yourself are not successful.  Bravo Lucy.



The Reading Ranch

In January when I realized Max was falling behind in school and still couldn’t read the most basic of words I started making phone calls.  I talked with everybody ranging from Max’s teacher to an academic diagnostician (yeah, I didn’t know they existed either).  I called literacy clinics and psychologists and It was during one of these conversations that I was referred to “The Reading Ranch”.

“The Reading Ranch” is tucked up in a small building next to a home security office.  Max and I walked in and found a very small waiting room with a brown leather loveseat on one wall and two chairs on the other.  The walls were decorated with the appropriate western signs and art. After all, it is the Reading RANCH. Max and I barely had time to relax on the tiny couch when Ms. Kim burst into the room.  Her blond hair towered over her small frame, she wore jeans with a western belt buckle and the southern accent to go along with it.  She gently guided Max into a tiny classroom that was just big enough for him and Ms. Kim.  Thirty minutes later Max emerged with a Popsicle and a smile. Ms. Kim invited me into a private room and gave me her assessment. With grand gestures, and a sweet twang in her voice she explained, “WELL, he’s VERY smart.  He just needs some extra time with his basic phonemes.  Don’t know about dyslexia but I would like to meet with him privately for the first couple of months so we can get him caught up with school.”  Max and I established a date and time and left the Ranch.

I would find out later that Ms. Kim is no ordinary reading tutor.  She has extensive experience in education and is in the process of completing her PhD dissertation in phonics. She believes in small classrooms with two students and one teacher.  All of her students receive a lot of individual attention.

Every Tuesday Max would leave school early and we would make our weekly pilgrimage to the Reading Ranch.  I would sit quietly in the waiting room while Max spent an hour, alone, with Ms. Kim.  She would emerge and reassure me that Max was doing great and making progress.  Max, being a boy, would say nothing.


And then last week as I was tucking Max into bed he asked if he could read a book to me.  I complied and handed him the National Geographic book on sharks that he had picked out.  He opened the book and with ease and speed he read straight through the book stopping only to point out interesting facts.  I tried not to cry.  He read it AND he understood it.

This woman, married to a bull rider and sportin’ cowboy boots has in less than 20 sessions  turned my son into a reader.  This woman has moved mountains.  How do you thank somebody who sees your child not as a number but as a person? How do you show gratitude to somebody who every week told your child “he can” when he thought he couldn’t?

Max will continue at the Reading Ranch, at least for the foreseeable future.  He has now moved on to advanced phonics and handwriting.  However, it is his confidence and belief in himself that has made it all worthwhile.



I have a confession to make.  I am a complete failure at getting my kids to do chores.  When it comes to delegation I am much better as a manager than I am as a mother.  As the kids have gotten older their messes have gotten bigger.  I’ve reached a point where I either need to say “screw it. I will just hope that we end up on Hoarders” or “fine, I will beat you into submission”.

And don’t bring up “chore charts” with stickers.  I’ve tried that and inevitably Lucy does all her chores, Max’s chores, earns her prize and then Max is left crying.  She also then follows up every request with, “if I do that will I get a star”?  At some point I get so frustrated I rip up the chart, and tell Lucy she’s a “star-grubber” and to back off.  In other words, it isn’t healthy.

A couple of months ago David directed me to Chore Monster and suggested I look into it and see if I thought it might work for our family.


Chore Monster is in no way compensating me or giving me free stuff for writing this blog post, although I would welcome both because I’m not above selling out.


I no longer have to remind my kids what chores they need to do because they both can access a customized list via their electronic device (for my kids it is old i-touch phones). They get reminders when chores are due.  They earn points for each completed chore, and then they can cash these points in for prizes.  DO YOU KNOW ALL THE PROBLEMS THIS HAS SOLVED?

1. ) My kids don’t ask me for ANYTHING – because now they know if they want something they need to earn enough points.  Instead, they just ask me to add it to the prize list.

(click to enlarge)

2.) I don’t have to nag at my kids to do their chores because they know what they are supposed to do, and if they don’t – they don’t get prizes.

3.) No stealing chores.  Now they each have their own list, and most importantly, they can keep track of their OWN chores.  Checking them off when complete.

(click to enlarge)

In addition, when the kids complete a certain number of chores they get to play ‘MONSTER CARNIVAL’ which is this little game where they get to spin a wheel and win monsters that they collect. The Carnival, along with other games the kids can play comes with a membership which is about $30 for 6 months.  If you want to use the basic chore application it is free – FREE!!! We started with the free version but after seeing how great it was working with our kids we quickly upgraded.

The interface is cute, slick and easy to use.  The tech support is fantastic with personal emails and fast response. I even made a recommendation for improved navigation and it was changed within 48 hours.

The only critical thing I have to say is that it took us some time to set it up.  David and I probably invested a total of 3 hours spread out over a couple of days to tweak chores, points and rewards to the point where we liked it.  However, it has made the weekly grind of getting chores done so much easier. Not to mention that now Max and Lucy COME TO ME with ideas of chores I can add or ways they can help around the house.  They are willingly making beds, emptying the dishwasher, picking up toys and doing laundry — and that is priceless.

Llama, Llama

His big brown eyes wide open and his soft pleading voice, “please mama, one more time.” I of course would relent. Max would snuggle his little head against me and I would start, “llama, llama red pajama”.   Between age 3 and 4 I read “Llama, Llama Red Pajama” almost every night to Max.  He loved that book.  However, as he grew up, the book became “too baby” and it was shoved to the back of the bookshelf.

Recently Lucy has developed fears – irrational fears — and for a child who is painfully logical this has been challenging (both for her and me).  Bedtime has become a time of unbridled terror.  Lucy shakes and cries and lists a string of fears that would frighten even the most stalwart safety officer.  She fears everything from tornadoes, to bad guys breaking in, to a bomb in our house.  In one minute she will admit the absurdity and the next she will shake in fear. I’ve tried several things to help her get past this stage but nothing has helped.  Recently, she begged me to let Harper sleep in her room.  I agreed, and before I could finish my sentence Max had moved in as well.

As I tucked the girls into the bed, and Max on the floor, Harper asked for me to read her a story. All of her books were in her room and I didn’t have the energy to slink down the stairs so I dug through Max’s bookshelf and tucked away was “Llama, Llama Red Pajama”.  I opened the book and started, “Llama, Llama Red Pajama reads a book with his mama”.  Max sat straight up and Lucy leaned over.  I sung my way through the book, incorporating all the sound effects and hand motions that I did with Max.  The kids laughed and squealed and the last page was finally turned.  Max quietly said, “I love that book. I remember you reading that to me.  I love when you read to us.”

The next night everybody was snuggled in and the book came out.  Max sat up and said “can I read it to Harper?”  I handed him the book and in his soft voice he quietly and slowly glided over the words, doing his best to duplicate my sound effects and voice inflection. He turned the pages carefully, looking at each picture.  When finished he looked up at me and said “I don’t read it as good as you.  Can you read it again?” I assured Max that he read it just fine and that a second reading wasn’t necessary.  Harper stood up in the bed and screamed “Sissy turn! Sissy turn!” So Lucy grabbed the book from Harper and she read it.  She flew through the rhymes, screaming at every exclamation point and finished the book in two seconds.  Harper then yelled “mama turn!! mama turn!!”  Lucy, Max and I all looked at each other and laughed in understanding, knowing that a toddler’s demands are not easily dismissed.  I read it again and as I read the last line of the book, “Baby llama fell asleep”, Max said, “and that is exactly what I’m going to do.  Night, night mama. I love you.”

I got up from the bed to see my three little Llamas all tucked into their beds, snuggled close to each other.  *snap* memory captured.

The Art of Debate

Lucy came home from school with two envelopes.  The first envelope contained a letter she had written trying to “persuade” us to grant a request.  The second envelope was for me to write my response, put it in the envelope without Lucy seeing the letter, seal it and send it back to school.  Below is the letter I received from Lucy:

Beloved mother and father,

I will make a deal with you guys.  Saige, the new American Girl doll is out and I want her badly. I have some reasons to get me her (not trying to be mean or anything).

First of all, it will get me away from the TV and into my imagination. I won’t use the TV for like two months. It will be like you can just throw away the TV and never get a new one!

Second, it will be totally cheap. I will pay for some of it with my bday money and chore money. And maybe max, if he wants to pitch in (which I highly doubt).

Finally, it will get me busier. Away from you guys. I won’t be bothering you forever. It will be like I am not there! So in conclusion, that’s why you should get Saige the new American girl doll.


Your beloved daughter Lucy

Throughout my childhood my mother used to say to me “if you can argue with me and win, you can argue with anybody”.  Battles were not easily won in my house and each opinion, request or idea needed to be well thought out and supported.  My mother was the emotional debater who frequently relied on “because I’m your mother”.  But my father could always be tricked using straight up logic and the Socratic method.  Unfortunately, I am more like my father.

I wrote my response and sent it back to school with Lucy.  A couple of days later Lucy opened her letter along with her classmates.  As a wave of gleeful exclamations washed across the classroom as requests were granted, Lucy opened and read the following letter.

My beloved daughter Lucy,

I appreciate the letter you sent regarding the purchase of the new American Girl doll Saige. Although I understand your claim that you will watch less TV and contribute funds towards the purchase, I don’t find this to be a reasonable argument.

First, you currently own two American Girl dolls and I have yet to observe a decrease in your television viewing.

Secondly, an American Girl doll costs approximately $125 and I know you don’t have those funds currently collected.

Third, I would rather you not be busy and “away from me” since you are never a bother and always a delight.

However, if you earn 7,500 chore points through I will gladly purchase the doll for you. I hope you find this to be an agreeable offer.

Love, Mommy

Lucy came home horrified.  As soon as the car door swung open she exclaimed “I WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN MY CLASS WHO DIDN’T GET HER REQUEST FILLED!! IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.” To which I responded, “Well, make a better argument”.