What Can I Write for You?

I am an award-winning journalist who writes about parenting, pop culture, and girlpower. As mom to a tween, I find creative ways to guide my daughter through the highs and lows of growing up. As a grown-up girl myself, I still love sports, music, and getting down on the dance floor. I have been published in Parenting, Volta Voices, Healthy Children, VisitSouth.com, and parenting publications across North America. Email me to discuss your publication’s needs.

The smell of puberty

Ah, take a deep breath. Do you smell that? It’s the smell of puberty. And it makes parents of tweens everywhere ask three important questions before the kids head out the door each day.

“Did you put on deodorant?”
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“Are you wearing clean underwear?”

One day our kids are toddling around in footed pajamas smelling like baby powder, and the next they’re stomping around in week-old socks smelling like, well, week-old socks. A change has come … and many times they’re oblivious.

Click here to read the rest and come back and share your tips for getting these kids to care about their stinkiness.

 

Happy holidays

The holiday season has been good so far. Despite the usual bickering of a mom and tween, we’ve managed to make some fun memories with more to come.

We decorated our tree together, and it is beautiful with white and twinkling colorful lights, skiing rag dolls, glittery reindeer, old Santas, ballerinas, soccer stars, Elvis, angels, elephants, Bigfoot and a fox.We’ve watched “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “A Christmas Carol” (Disney version), and “Home Alone” dozens of times, it seems. We’ve baked and frosted cookies, created a gingerbread house, wrapped gifts.

Our tradition of seeing Fantasy Playhouse’s “A Christmas Carol” continued with a first-week-of-December show. We put lights on our patio, bookcases, around indoor windows, and on a bed headboard. We have three trees.

Getting the mail has become exciting: Is there another Christmas card?! Yes! Pictures with Santa are scattered throughout the house along with the memories they awaken.

The old ceramic tree glows as the centerpiece on our old hand-me-down dining table. And the Nativity scenes adorn the walls, the entertainment center, the bookshelf, the bar, and the chest and dresser.

Our apartment is warm, glowy, and filled with love. I hope your life is the same.

13 Things You Could Do Before 2013 Ends

One of the few good photos we took while baking Christmas cookies. It was a good day.

1. Stargaze. December offered three nights of meteor showers, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology. First up was the Geminids Meteor Shower, or Winter’s Fireworks, with Dec. 13-14 (well, we missed this one!) the best time for viewing. According to Telescopes.com, on Dec. 22, the Ursids Meteor Shower happens as
 Earth moves through Comet 8P Tuttle’s dust trail. With patience, you could see five to 10 meteors per hour if you’re looking closely at Ursa Minor, aka the Little Dipper.

2. List the good stuff. What made your family smile? Laugh? What will you always remember about 2013?

Shhh! Do not disturb this peaceful child.

3. Grab a camera and snap photos of your kids sleeping. If they’re like my daughter, it’s one of the few times they’re still and peaceful.

4. Make a playlist of your family’s Top 10. For us, it would be One Direction’s “Best Song Ever,” Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” New Kids On the Block’s “Remix (I Like),” and “What Does the Fox Say.”

5. Screen your favorite tween/teen flicks with your kids. We’ve watched “The Karate Kid,” “Grease,” and we are working our way to “Sixteen Candles.”

Somehow she turned an airplane shape into a Christmas tree cookie.

6. Let your kid cook. It can be as simple as grilled cheeses or cookies. Of course, you’ll need to be around to supervise younger children and help older ones, just in case.

7. Volunteer or donate together. Each season, my daughter and I gather up too-small clothing and donate it to a home for abused children. Most libraries take book donations. Or you can volunteer to serve meals to the needy. Drive your elderly neighbor to the grocery store. Do some good.

8. Create a memory album. Take the list you made earlier and find photos to match to make a 2013 scrapbook. Make it as simple or as fancy as you’d like.

9. Bundle up and walk outside. Alone or with your family, a bracing stroll around the block can wake you up, help you think or just decompress.

10. Drink a warm beverage while sitting outside. Hot chocolate, coffee or hot tea (with or without a little extra) will warm your insides while you get some fresh air.

In “London” just before Ebenezer Scrooge shows up to “Bah-humbug” the holidays.

11. Catch a play. We saw our local children’s theater production of “A Christmas Carol” this year as is our tradition. You might prefer a non-holiday show. Check to see what’s on stage and support the arts.

12. Head to the drive-in. The next best thing to watching a movie at home in your pajamas is catching one at the drive-in in your pajamas, well, pjs for the the kids anyway. No drive-ins around? Head to the dollar movie theater for cheaper fun.

13. Grab a book. Relax in the tub. Enjoy the quiet while you can. Soon it will be 2014 and the fun will start again.

What do you plan to do before the year ends?

Why should my daughter be responsible for your son’s thoughts?

I’m tired of people telling girls how they shouldn’t dress, how they shouldn’t dance, how they shouldn’t talk, how they shouldn’t wear their makeup, how they shouldn’t BE.

STOP! Enough with the shaming and blaming and lecturing. It’s time to accept that girls are not pretty playthings out to destroy boys and lead them down the path of wickedness. They are intelligent, strong, beautiful creatures made in God’s image and should be treated with respect. Even if you don’t like what they’re wearing.

Two occurrences brought about this post: a sermon and a viral blog post. I moved the first event to the back of my mind, but when the second happened, I knew I had to say something. Here’s that something.

The last time I wanted to get up in the middle of a church sermon and walk out, a preacher was talking politics. This time a pastor was discussing modesty.

“Girls, if it causes a guy, when he looks at you, not to be able to think about Jesus, then you probably have made the wrong decision.” And he went on to say that he didn’t mean only in church, and said no telling how many guys have made bad grades.

My brain and my heart were all, “Say what?!” I kept waiting for him to say something about boys controlling their thoughts. Or respecting girls no matter what. And I kept waiting. And waiting. And I’m still waiting.

I was so disheartened and shocked that I tuned out the rest of the sermon. I just kept thinking, “Boys have no responsibility for taking their minds off Jesus? Girls are to blame? That’s not right!” I scribbled furiously on the bulletin. And I was so upset that I called my mom and railed to her as soon as church was out.

Then this week a blog post made the rounds via social media, (and, no, I’m not linking to it) in which a mom of boys told girls who post “sexy” selfies that they cause her sons to look at them in a sexual way, and therefore, they are not good enough for her sons.

My daughter takes dance classes. She wears shorts and a sports bra to some of them. If your son sees her walk from the studio door to my vehicle and then has naughty thoughts, who’s fault is that? Not my daughter’s, that’s for sure.

Why are we teaching girls to shoulder the blame for how boys think?

Soon folks will be telling girls it’s their fault they were sexually harassed or abused or raped. Oh, wait … THAT’S ALREADY HAPPENING!

Do you think a boy has sexual thoughts only when he sees a girl’s shoulders? Or midriff or thighs? Really? A stiff breeze caused my high school male friends to have those thoughts. And sexual thoughts at this age are normal.

Teach your sons to NOT think of girls as sexual objects. Why not teach boys to RESPECT girls no matter what they wear? Or don’t wear? (I bet boys are quite capable of understanding this. They are smart, strong, beautiful creatures made in God’s image, too.)

I’m teaching my daughter to dress appropriately for the occasion (though she won’t always listen, so don’t shame her for it). I’m teaching her to not judge others for what they wear, have, or look like. And that nothing you post on the internet is truly private. But I’m not freaking out when she wants to wear a strapless dress out to dinner. Or a two-piece to the pool. Or when she does a stupid duckface selfie in her pajamas, with no bra. Or when she sees your 1011916_10201236353372263_2119174101_nshirtless son on the track and thinks he’s “hot.” I’m teaching her that sexual thoughts are normal, and I’m teaching her how to handle them.

Here’s a terrific post – Seeing A Woman – to help you do the same for your sons.

Comments? Please leave one.

Jon Bon Jovi never gets old

Bon Jovi in Nashville, 2008.

You say you’ve cried a thousand riversJBJ2008
And now you’re swimming for the shore

I was thinking about this video on the way to work this morning as I sang along to I’ll Be There For You. I taped it from MTV and watched it over and over and over … when it comes to Bon Jovi videos, this one is tops for me. Probably because Jon looks so fine in the brown leather pants, the shirt unbuttoned to his navel, and that hair, oh, that glorious hair, and because I wanted someone to feel that way about me:

I’ll be the water when you get thirsty, baby
When you get drunk I’ll be the wine

Those are some of my favorite song lyrics. Even as a teetotaling 17-year-old, I loved the imagery. Someone loving you so much that he gets a high just from being with you? Back then I understood “getting drunk” as acting silly, giddy, and having fun while nursing a wine cooler. (As an adult, I’d learn more than I’d ever want to know about what it really meant. I’ll expand on that in a later post.) “Getting drunk” was something college kids and grown-ups did, not something high school me did. I just loved the metaphor. And still do.

Twenty-four years later, I could still watch the video on repeat, only now I can see Jon and his leather pants in high-def on my 42-inch flat screen. YouTube through a Blu-Ray player is an awesome invention. <clicks play>

Keep me hanging on

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I got some great suggestions from friends regarding last week’s post on the rules of dating in an online world and my conundrum: to ask or not to ask?

* DISCLAIMER: No one knows the guy’s identity. I haven’t even told my closest friends his name. And I don’t plan to. *

I swear, I have the smartest pals. See for yourself:

  • There’s no rule that says you can’t call the guy. Besides, what do you have to lose?
  • CALL the guy!!! There are no rules anymore – everyone is figuring it out as they go. Might he say, ‘no, I’m busy, have a girlfriend,’ whatever, you need to shrug and go on, all the while thinking, ‘your loss, buddy, not mine.’
  • Don’t be weird about it. Don’t be coy. You’re grown-ups. Just say why you called. Be totally honest with yourself, too. Maintain your self-identity.
  • I think rules are a bother and we have to follow our own intuition. The standing rule I’ve found is, “screw it all, and do what you think is right.” If that doesn’t work out, then it wasn’t supposed to work out. No sense in acting like every relationship is the be-all and end-all at this point.

So while waiting for my daughter to finish dance class, I screwed up my courage and decided to give it a shot. However, I chickened out of spoken words, and instead went the written route. And like the post title says, I was left hanging. I got no response, but that itself is an answer, and that’s fine. He has his reasons, whatever they may be, and I respect that. Of course, I had to break it down for my buds, and again, they had me feeling good.

  • You didn’t lose … you needed to know. The main thing is you tried, and you haven’t quit.
  • Don’t get too invested in a single at-bat. It’s embarrassing to strike out, but even the best usually do. Remember: In high school, Elvis was cut from the Glee Club. Know and accept yourself. Others may or may not be right about you.
  • Well, so this one didn’t work out – and let’s face it – he could have been polite and just said he was busy. … Don’t let it stop you from trying again!!

So, while I’ll likely be a smidge embarrassed whenever I see him again, I’m glad I took a chance, swallowed my nerves, and went for it. How will I know if I never try? Sitting in front of this screen, at this keyboard, typing ain’t gonna get me kissed again. That’s going to take getting out there, being open to possibilities, and giving myself permission to let go, even if it’s just a little.

After thanking one of my Twitter pals for listening, he offered one final piece of advice:

Go get ‘em, tiger! (But not Tiger, as in Tiger Woods. i.e., don’t get ALL of them. At once, anyway.)

To which I replied:

Rawr!

 

Here’s my number …

Dating

I asked that question on Facebook last month and, according to my connections, the answer was yes, dating, especially among teens, is done mostly via social media.

But what about grown-ups? How is it done? One FB commenter said the rules are different when you’re back out there again. I want to know how. What are the rules?

Do men call women to ask them out? Can women call men?

Is dating even a thing anymore? Or is it just “hooking up” for most people? I’m a grown-up and I would like to hang out with a grown-up of the opposite sex. <insert Nelson’s Love and Affection here>

I spent my whole hour’s drive home from work tonight debating whether to call a guy I’ve known for years but haven’t talked to in a while. (Background: We went out a couple of times in college. We’re both single now.) Here’s how it sounded in my head. <pretend Call Me by Blondie was playing in the background>

Optimistic Me: He messaged me his number and said to call him sometime. (Grabs phone.)

Pessimistic Me: Yeah, well, then I gave him my number, too, and wouldn’t he have called me by now if he was interested? (Puts phone down.)

OM: Maybe he’s unsure. Or busy. Or shy. Or intimidated.

PM: Yeah, riiiiight. If I didn’t want him to call, why would I have given him my number?

OM: But … he did give me his number first …

See what I’m dealing with here? It’s a vicious cycle, and I’m fully aware that I’m an over-analyzing goofball. I talk myself out of a lot of things because I’m afraid I’ll become the punchline to someone else’s joke.

I mean, what if I call and someone else answers his phone for him? And I start blathering on. Yes, this has happened. Eighth grade. I called a boy I had a crush on to wish him happy birthday. The phone was answered, I started singing the stupid song, and when I was finished, his dad said, “He’s not here right now.” The guy told everyone at school about it. Sigh.

It’s ridiculous, I know! I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m attractive, I’m a good driver and a helluva kisser. I make people feel things by typing a few words. I know sports. I know movies. I read books. I’ve got soul and rhythm. And boobs and hips and a booty. I can check my own oil, buy my own tires, and make a delicious lasagna. I’m Every Woman here>

What is my problem? The worst he can do is say no. Then tell all his friends and laugh. On Facebook. Cynical? Me? Nah.

So what are the rules of the dating game today? Am I missing something? How does it work? Should I or shouldn’t I?

<insert Welcome to the Jungle here>

 

 

‘Tis the season for lights, lights, lights

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Riley, my mom and dad, and I drove out to the local Christmas light display tonight. It’s become an annual tradition since Riley was about 3 or 4, when we had to keep her from crawling out the car window to get a better look at Baby Jesus and Santa.

The Wrights go all out. Rudolph shares yard space with Spongebob and Frosty. Helicopters and semi-trucks have the transportation angle covered. Outlined kiddies jump rope and “wheeee” down slides. Candy canes and trees line the driveway and paths.

It’s not a professional job, but that’s what I love about it. The display is this family’s way of sharing the joy of the season with anyone who wants to drive out to rural Colbert County.

If you visit, be kind and drop a couple of bucks in the donation box so they can keep the lights on for another year.

Campfire story

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Daddy tells us about him and his buddies being stranded after the car ran out of gas. His pals were just going to sleep in the car but he decided to head home. He started walking by himself down spooky, dark Kerby Lane where rumor had it someone was once hanged. Listen … and yes, we have a bit of an accent.

Now he tells a silly joke, that cracks me up every time!

Best weekend in a long time

IMG_1637

 IMG_1641Riley and I spent Memorial Day weekend at my parents’ and it was good for my soul. Friday night, Momma, Riley and I went to visit Granma at the nursing home. I showed her some of Riley’s dance pictures and we had a nice chat. She’s doing pretty well.

When we got back to Town Creek, Daddy built a fire in the portable fireplace and Riley roasted “smarshmallows.” Or burned them. We sat around the fire and listened to Daddy talk about camping out under the stars when he was growing up, and about him and Momma fishing down at the creek when they were a new couple.

We also laughed about our camping gear when we were growing up. We had a shell on top of Daddy’s pickup and he created a makeshift bunk bed in the bed of the truck. My little brother Michael and I slept on twin mattresses on top of a plywood board anchored above the truckbed, and Momma and Daddy slept underneath on a mattress in the bed of the truck. It worked. And we always had fun.

Saturday, I got up early and went for a walk around the neighborhood before everyone else awoke. Then we spent the day at Jordan’s pool, celebrating his high school graduation. We ate BBQ, baked beans, pasta salad, buffalo dip, broccoli salad, corn on the cob, squash, and O’Charley’s rolls. And we swam. And laughed. And enjoyed being together to celebrate Jordan.

That evening, Momma, Riley and I went shopping at Target. And we stopped by Georgia’s on the way home, where they were putting a new liner in their pool. They finished up around 9:30 and we went inside and watched “A Dolphin Tale” (Riley loved it) until nearly midnight. I love days like that … no drama, no stress, just enjoying the company.

IMG_1637Sunday, Riley and I threw the softball and played volleyball, Daddy vacuumed out my truck, and Momma taught me and Riley how to play Rook. Momma and I beat Daddy and Riley. That was a lot of fun.

On the way home, I stopped by to see my best pal Kristi at her mom’s house. Her daughter just turned 21, so Riley and I had to swing by and wish her happy birthday.

After getting home and unloading all off our stuff, Riley’s dad came and picked her up. My friend Kim came over and we hung out on the patio until midnight, laughing, downloading music, and talking over a couple of beers.

I love my family and friends. They love me for who I am and who I’m not and what I can still be. They’re the best.