My redhead…

My youngest child is blessed with the most outstanding of hair colors. It’s not just slightly red. Nobody is ever going to mistake his hair as an auburn or a strawberry blonde. This kid has a head of bright, in-your-face-vibrant, RED hair. Let’s just say, in a crowd of a thousand, you would be able to pick him out pretty quick, as long as he’s not wearing his infamous ballcap. He also has the blessing, well I think it’s a blessing, of this hair being extremely coarse. With all that natural texture, his hair doesn’t even know how to be flat to his head. He doesn’t like his hair long, so he has this perfect, short bouffant going on all the time, even when he takes a football helmet off.

Living with such audacious hair, he gets comments–both teasing and praise–everywhere he goes. Yet none of it, not even the mean jeering he sometimes gets seems to bother him. This last week, one of the high school football boys told my son as he was walking out to our vehicle after practice that he should do something about the ugly red hair on top of his head. I had my window open so I heard the comment, but before I could say anything, my son turned around.

“Thanks,” he said to the older boy. “At least we can confirm you’re not colorblind.”

He hopped into our truck with me sputtering into laughter. Of all my children, I’m the least worried about this child going to high school next year. The boy is downright fearless–even in the face of older students. And with those kinds of comebacks, I doubt there will be many who will try to raze him too much.

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The dance floor affect–I never saw it coming

At the beginning of my daughter’s high school experience, she was placed in a class called social dancing. This course is all about ballroom dancing. At first, she wasn’t thrilled, but it filled a required elective.

“It’s either this or art class,” I told her.

Yeah she was even less thrilled with that idea so she stayed in social dance. Over the course of that semester something happened. what started out as a chore or requirement turned into a passion.

Now, she’s pretty inhibited in social settings, especially if she thinks anybody is watching her, so the stone-faced expressions she made during her first-performance-ever! cracked me up. And yet, she desired to go back for more. We had to move her classes around the next semester so she could be in ballroom technique, which is just another step above the basic social dance class, but she loved it. I think I even remember her attempting to smile during that second public performance.

This year, as a junior, she finally made the JV ballroom team, and her mania for ballroom dancing has only grown. I never thought anything could get my daughter to come out of that self-inflicted shell she puts herself in, but then her teacher decided to give the JV ballroom a tango.

“A tango…?” I say when I hear the news, trying hard to keep my expression neutral. I mean I’m no ballroom expert but I recall that dance being a kind of sensual one. “So how’s that going?”

“Good. I have to be careful not to wrap my leg around his hip too hard before he dips me–my heel caught him the butt one time.”

She laughed at her comment, but my spinning thoughts were still stuck on the fact my daughter was willingly putting her leg around a boy’s waist. “So…you’re liking the chorography then?”

“Oh yeah. It’s so cool, I think it may be my favorite type of ballroom dancing yet.”

And this upcoming performance may be my favorite one to watch, just so I can confirm with my own eyes that it’s my inhibited daughter up there putting her leg around a boy before being dipped. I’ve failed for years at getting my daughter to be more social with her peers. If I had known ballroom would have this effect on her, I would have signed her up much earlier in life.

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The illusion of perfection

A good friend of mind recently told me that I never seemed to have a hair out of place.

“Have you ever had a bad hair day? It’s like perfection 24/7.”

I laughed so hard I snorted. “Um…don’t be deceived. I wake up to some pretty crazy hair every morning, so I don’t really have a choice. It’s either wear a hat with a really tight bun sticking out the back, or I have to wash my hair and start from scratch every day.”

She didn’t believe me so I took a picture the next morning and sent it to her. Yeah, it gave her a good laugh, but it also got me to thinking… How often do we measure ourselves against others?

Maybe they’re skinnier, maybe their face is done up to perfection, or their clothes always look so stylish. Basically you look at them and think, man that’s what it means to have your crap together. And yet, here I am, failing like always. But it isn’t true. Nobody has it all together all of the time. Everyone has start-from-scratch moments. Maybe yours aren’t daily, like my crazy hair requires, but everyone still has them. So hold your head up, and be a little kinder to yourself. And just in case you need proof and a laugh to feel better, here’s the picture I sent my friend. I guess I can officially say I have no shame.

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Kissing post

In writing, there’s a saying. “Exclamation points are a lot like printing money; the more you make, the less they’re worth!!!!!!!!” This theory of diluted value by overuse or excess is even true in our everyday lives. Just think about diamonds and other rare stones. No one would pay thousands of dollars if they became as common as gravel.  Yet, I must admit, as a teenager, I didn’t worry too much about this concept, especially when it came to kissing. Back then, I saw it as more of an experiment—a very fun lip-locking experiment. And since the best experiments require a wide range of test subjects, I sometimes found myself smooching boys just for the heck of it.            

It wasn’t until college, and I met my husband, that I realized how foolish I’d been. For months, while we were just friends, I watched how kind and courteous he was to the female gender. He dated, went to dances, and hung out, yet he wasn’t like other guys.  He never kissed.

Once I decided my interest in him had changed beyond friendship, I elbowed my way to the front of the pack. (I am many things—shy is not one of them.)

It only took only a few weeks of dating for me to figure out that I had caught one dandy of a farm boy, but we still had never kissed. Finally, one night, as he turned to leave after having walked me to my door, I said, “Aren’t you ever going to kiss me?”

“Well, there’s a problem with that…” (Right about now, my heart was sinking)  “…If I do, you’ll never get rid of me.”  

You see, as a young man, he had made up his mind never to kiss anyone except his wife. If I kissed him, I would be his first, and his last. A rare pucker up indeed, one that went well beyond the common worthless kisses I’d indulged in throughout the years to satisfy my curiosity. 

It only took a moment for me to consider what he was offering. Anyone who made such a promise to themselves, then had the tenacity to follow it through, was my kind of man—committed. I laid one on him and never looked back.

Now here’s the important part I want you take away from this story. That first kiss wasn’t overly flashy with a lot of built up sexual tension like you see in the movies. What made that kiss riveting, and the many that have followed, is knowing they are all mine. No one else will ever experience them but me. I hope you’ll consider that before you make the same mistake I did, and dilute your kisses by sharing them with almost every person you meet.

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Blinded by electronics

For all the great things technology can do these days, I can say without a shadow of doubt it is ruining the rising generation’s interpersonal skills. As long their thumbs are doing the talking or they are speaking over a headset about the next plan to execute in a video game, they are fine. But you put them in a room together and they don’t know what to do. More often than not they don’t even bother to try. They just drop their eyes to their perspective phones and type or watch away. The real world is literally passing them by.

As someone who grew up before the internet was even a thing, it’s so frustrating to watch. I’m like a broken record, constantly reminding my children they need to work harder at building relationships with other teenagers–you know physically meet them. And there are days when I feel like I’m never going to get through to them. Won’t they be sorry if that’s the case–kissing your phone screen isn’t nearly as fun as somebody else’s lips. But if you can’t even carry on a conversation when somebody’s in the room with you, there’s a good chance those lips won’t be seeing any action–ever.

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Personal space is different for everyone

This week my sixteen-year-old daughter walked into my bathroom and caught my husband giving me a very long, sensual kiss. She acted way more shocked than grossed out.

“Whoa, I didn’t know you guys ever did that kind of thing?”

Besides making me laugh it also started a conversation about the importance of understanding your partner in a relationship. My husband is a quiet introvert. Interacting with people exhausts him, especially when they try to push into his personal space. Lucky for him he married an outgoing extrovert that doesn’t need constant touch to be assured that he loves her, so I don’t mind letting him be the one to initiate physical touch.

Public displays of affection wouldn’t bother me, but with my husband I know those are never going to happen. Because of this, to an outsider one might think we are never affectionate. Again, I don’t care how my relationship looks to others so this works for us. And like I told my daughter, “The sooner you figure out what you can or cannot live with in a relationship the better.”

And being the awesome mom that I am, I gave her a heads up. “By the way, you’re like your father so you’re not going to like a real clingy man.”

Groaning, my daughter pretended a shiver. “That I already know.”

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And the toaster wins!

My mom offered all kinds of advice when she was alive. When I was younger I didn’t listen to much of it, but as I grew older I found her wisdom to be most precious. On one of those occasions she told me to never give my children more than two presents for Christmas–a toy and some clothes. “Keep Christmas simple,” she said, “and you won’t overspend.”

I’ve kept to that formula for years and yet, between grandparents and other family members, my children always have more than two presents under the tree. Since I can’t seem to stop the inevitable, I do set a limit for my children spending money on each other–no more than $20.

This year, my daughter lamented that buying for her younger brother was impossible. “Every video game he wants cost more than $20.”

“Then don’t buy him a video game.” I hate them anyways, so I never see a reason to buy one.

“Then what should I get him?”

Wandering through the store, we found ourselves in the kitchen appliance aisle. My gaze fell on the many toasters being displayed and I smiled. “Why not get him a toaster?”

I’m not a big toast fan. In fact, I hate dried bread so owning a toaster had never been a priority for me, but my youngest son would come home from the farm all the time saying how much he loved that grandma gave him toast at breakfast.

“You’re right,” my daughter said, laughing. “That’s the perfect gift for him.”

I was pretty confident his sister’s gift would go over well, but his exuberant reaction still blew me away on Christmas morning.

“I’m just gonna try this, then I’ll be back.” He ran upstairs with the toaster, ripping it out of its packing as he went.

I guess denying him toast at home for the past thirteen years of his life really was a painful thing to endure. 😉

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Yes, being a mom has made me crazy in more than one way

This week has been one emotional roller coaster for me. But hey, since 2020 has pretty much been the meanest year ever it decided why not give us one last bang, literally, to finish it off.

Many of my readers might already know my daughter was in a severe car accident this week. She was t-boned in an intersection by a large truck going at a high rate of speed. Thankfully my daughter was alone when it happened for there was no passenger side left to our truck.

I received a call from a man notifying me that my daughter had been involved in an accident. I have no idea who the man was but he was so calm I figured it must be a fender bender and my daughter was afraid to talk to me.

I drove to the street address given, reminding myself the entire time to stay calm and not yell at her. A good mommy would wait to give her a stern talking to after I’d dealt with the fall out of her probably being a distracted teenager.

All thoughts of calm whooshed out the window when I turned onto the street and saw all the flashing lights of police vehicles and two ambulances. Out of my mind, I parked the car and ran across the street, giving very little thought to other moving vehicles. I couldn’t see my daughter for all the smashed glass and metal.

Calling her name, I shrugged off a police officer who tried to stop me. I had to know if she was still alive. And in that moment I realized no matter how difficult she can sometimes be, I desperately wanted her alive and talking back to me. Thankfully, my wish was granted. Some might think that makes me a masochist–I mean nobody can drive a stake through your heart with their words better than your own teenager–but they’re yours. It’s a weird relationship for sure. They drive us crazy but, when push comes to shove, a mom will give anything to always have that crazy with them.

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Worth The Read: The Traitor’s Reliquary by Chris Moss

Besides being a fantastic read, I had the pleasure of editing and designing the interior of The Traitor’s Reliquary. This fast-paced fantasy is filled with hilarious moments woven among a compelling story of betrayal, fate, and the many sacrifices made along the way to right a wrong done a thousand years before.

I know my family has heard me talking about his book for months, but it’s finally out and I couldn’t be prouder. The Traitor’s Reliquary is the first book in the series, something you’ll be very happy about when you read it. What comes next will be on everyone’s mind. Click on the book cover below to pick up your copy today.

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Being kind even when faced with adversity – it can be done

Over a month ago my youngest son was slapped by another boy in the lunchroom of his junior high. While the incident upset my son he managed to keep enough control over his emotions to not retaliate in the heat of the moment. The other boy was suspended for his actions but told the principle that he had heard my son spewing some pretty ugly and racists things.

My son has never been to the principle’s office in his life so the phone call to me made the situation even more harrowing in his young mind. He denied saying anything offensive to anyone, and quite honestly I struggled to believe he did it too. Of all my children, he’s the one I’ve never heard swear and is always telling me I shouldn’t swear either.

By the next day the truth of the matter finally came out. The boy had lied when he said he heard my son saying offensive things. It had started with a female classmate who told her boyfriend she thought she heard my son say something who then turned around and told his group of friends, but embellished the supposed words even further. In that group of friends was the boy who slapped my son. The stupid game of telephone had definitely gone awry that day.

With the facts in place I simply told my son, “You only have one choice. You have to pretend like it never happened. It’s the only thing that will take the air out of the situation.” Even I wasn’t going to ever say anything, but the young man who slapped by son surprised me last week. He apologized.

I blinked in shock when my son told me. “So what did you say?”

I hadn’t prepped him on how to respond because I never thought it would be something my son would ever hear.

He shrugged and took another spoonful of his after-school-bowl-of-cereal. “I shook his hand and said ‘it’s okay, we’re good.'”

I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about the importance of being kind even when others are not. Yet, my son’s response to the whole thing surpassed what I hoped my children would be like when faced with adversity.

If I’m honest, I don’t know if I could be as magnanimous after being hit for no good reason. On the other hand, I appreciate the young man’s courage for having the humility to approach my son, admit he was wrong and ask for forgiveness. The level of maturity both boys showed changed my mind about never blogging about this incident. They are a good example of what we all should be like.

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