Children Are Our Future

I work in childcare and ECE so my opinion is probably obvious, but I’m pretty sure I’d feel this way even if I went to law school or got into construction.

Take care of the people who take care of your children. Treat them well. Pay them well. Make sure they have the resources they need to do a good job.

From your babysitter, to your daycare, to the school where most kids spend most of their day, these people are caring for your children.

If you don’t think they are doing their job well enough to deserve decent pay then stop letting them care for your children and find someone that meets your standards. Stop leaving your children with someone that you don’t think deserves to be paid well and treated with respect.

This should not be controversial.

People who are satisfied with their job do a better job. I want everyone who works with my children to do their best work.


The Elephant In The Home School Classroom

First, the disclaimer. As I mentioned in my last blog, this is our path, and I am not judging your path. When you choose an alternative path people ask a lot of questions and sometimes they are not very polite about it. I’m going to address that. Home school works better for us. That’s why we are doing it. There are plenty of reasons it might not be better for you, and I am not attacking you for that. These disclaimers may seem over the top and unnecessary, but I see too many arguments born out of defensiveness. You do not have to feel defensive here. Finding the right path is hard and I’m not questioning your direction.

Home school faces a lot of criticism, but the most frequent (and annoying) question is that of socialization. I searched “define socialization” on Google and, no joke, there’s a picture of a school bus.


Sometimes our friends, but more often people we meet in public (you know, society) are very concerned about how my home school children will get socialized. Some people mean, “aren’t you afraid your kid will be weird?” Others mean, “how will they learn the rules of society, like sitting still and listening to the teacher?”

If you never go to school sitting still and listening to the teacher aren’t essential skills, but I assure you, kids still figure out how to do it. Sharkboy had never been forced to sit still and quietly before he started kindergarten and yet his teacher raved about how great he was at it. He might be an over achiever, but I have no doubt that any home school student that chooses to go on to college will be able to sit still and listen to a teacher or future employer. It’s not something you teach. You can encourage it with captivating lessons, or by threat of discipline, but they already know how to do it. Schools don’t hold the key to this skill. (Research shows that sitting all day isn’t good for you, anyway.)

(While some people think sitting still and listening to an authority figure is a necessary part of the workplace, my life is very much the opposite. I am on my feet most of the day and I don’t have anyone to keep me on track but myself. Mentally ticking through my friends and family I can come up with over 20 occupations that do not involve sitting still and listening to an authority figure all day. Even those with employers have to be self disciplined most of the day. The skills I find most necessary,work to my job, critical thinking and problem solving, can be learned outside of a classroom.)

Children learn the customs and values of society by being part of society. A public school classroom is one small part of society. Children of the same age (and often the same race and economic status) sit together and are taught the same material. Far more actual socialization takes place on the playground and after school. For some reason, this statement, more than any other, pisses people off. I don’t feel it is a negative statement. We don’t learn the norms of society at a desk, especially if that desk is surrounded by people just like us. Society is not made up of people just like us. It’s made up of all kinds of people and we all need to learn how to respect and interact with people of all of them.

Home school kids do not actually sit at home all day. We are part of society. We go on field trips. We shop. We go to the post office. We go to movies and parks and the fair. My kids meet and interact with a variety of people everyday. I’m rushing to write this so we can get to a play date. I know, I know, you knew a super religious family that kept their kids home all day and never let them watch TV. I don’t care. If you think that’s the norm you are the one with a socialization problem, not us. I assume that is where the misconception that home school kids aren’t getting socialized comes from. Welcome to 2016. I’m sure some people do still try to shield their children from society and I can’t really blame them, but that’s an outdated view of how and why people home school. Some people do still home school for religious reasons, but most of them still seek out social opportunities for their children. I think that if the worst thing you do for your kids is shield them from the parts of society that you find vulgar or violent, you’re probably an okay parent and people should mind their own business about it.

When I try to make these points in conversation with people who want to convince me my kids will lack social graces I always hear about the home school family they encountered that had no manners. Everyone has met this family and I’m starting to wonder if it is one family, traveling  the nation, on a mission to make home school families look bad. There are always several children and at least one of them is in pajamas. (Accurate. Or a costume.) One kid always throws a fit in public. Another budges in front of the speaker’s polite, well mannered child in line for the slide. The big kid uses foul language. Right? You’ve probably met this unruly band of home school hooligans? Pardon me while I roll my eyes in to next week. Bad behavior is not a home school construct. I went to public school. I sent my daughters to public school. Don’t tell me those kids don’t cuss and cry and budge. Or tell me, but stop trying to convince yourself that, 1. one family represents them all, and, 2. only home school families behave that way.

A lot of people who ask about socialization actually mean “home school kids are weird.” Ya know, that’s definitely true. Home school kids are weird. Today, at our home school play date, three kids were picking up another kid by his arms and legs and dragging him around as part of their Angry Birds/Pokemon game. That’s weird. Little S likes to drink the water at splash pads and Sharkboy is carrying around a lemonade bottle full of water with red food dye, calling it his energon. They are really freaking weird.

Beauty and Goldy are weird, too. This blog isn’t anonymous enough for me to tell you all the reasons, but trust me, they are. All my kids are weird and all my kids would be weird even if I paid top dollar for the best private school in the area, or sent them to public school, or bought them UGGs.

Kids are weird. My kids might be extra weird. I’m cool with that. I hope they stay weird. I hope they never strive to fit in so much that they lose the part of them that makes them stand out.

I don’t want to make it sounds like it’s us against the world. We meet a lot of people that are genuinely curious about how we do things or why. I welcome that conversation. I welcome the misconceptions, too, but it can be frustrating trying to fit all of these points into a conversation with people that are openly insulting your parenting choices. This blog is one of many on the topic of  home school and socialization. I could have posted one of the others, but sometimes I need to write down what I am thinking, and hopefully if we flood the internet with information people will start to read some of it.

This is our path, and it is working for us. I hope you find yourself on the right path, too.

Stay weird.







No one cares what you hate.

No one cares what you hate. Except me. For a little while, I’m here to listen.

Let’s talk about Pokémon Go.
I want to understand why you hate it.
It’s a phone app, very similar to Geocaching, except I’ve never heard anyone complain about Geocaching.
In fact, people are usually very positive about it.
I’ve never seen memes bashing Geocaching.
Then there’s Pokémon Go.
I realize that some players have been disrespectful and some have made stupid mistakes.
When millions of people of all backgrounds enjoy something, some of them will be stupid or disrespectful. Take football for example. Some football fans do stupid and disrespectful things before, after and during games. There have been riots at, or because of, football games. People have been seriously injured or died playing football. Does that mean watching or playing football is a stupid way to spend your time?
*I* don’t like it,  but I’m cool with millions of people enjoying it even though it sometimes interrupts what I’m interested in and causes traffic issues and invades my newsfeed.
Sometimes it’s annoying, but I accept that people enjoy it and I don’t try to put a damper on their good time.

I don’t like Candy Crush,  either. Just throwing that out there since I’ve spent the last week reading how much so many people hate Pokémon Go. I don’t watch The Bachelorette or Big Brother and I’m not a fan of Sriracha.

This is what you sound like, only a lot more hostile. Boring. No one cares what you hate.

I downloaded Pokémon Go because I enjoy geocaching and I read that it was similar, and also because of a second hand Pokémon nostalgia. A lot of the kids in my life loved Pokémon and dreamed of catching them in real life. It was a big part of their childhood, so it was a part of my life, too.
I’ll probably never get into the way they do, but I have enjoyed hunting with my daughters and my friends, and I’ve enjoyed meeting people and making friends at the places that attract a lot of players.
The backlash I’ve seen towards this game is weird, at best.
I get that it’s cool to hate things that are trendy, but it doesn’t make you edgy because everyone else is doing it, too.
So if you are hating this game for its popularity, you’re in on the second most popular trend at the moment.
You’re a nonconformist just like everybody else.
If you hate it because out of the 15 million people downloading it some turned out to be stupid and disrespectful, then you probably hate a lot of things, including me and this blog.
There are a lot of stupid and disrespectful people in the world and if it took this app to make you aware of that you need to get out more.

Or less, because you’re kind of crabby and intolerant.

If you hate it because you don’t understand it or you refuse to find out what it’s about and prefer just to make the assumption that 15 million people are stupid, I probably don’t like you and don’t care what you think anyway.
If you have some other reason to hate it please comment.
I want to understand.

Enjoy Every Moment (In Defense Of Screen Time Part 1)


My cell phone is broken. It broke on my birthday over a month ago and at the time it was a tragedy. I’ve healed and mostly moved on since the loss, but sometimes I still miss it. Yes, I’m still talking about my phone. Like a lot of mothers, and people in general, I have become attached to my phone because it gives me access to the things I enjoy, my friends, books, Netflix, Words With friends, and my favorite feature, the camera. My phone had thousands of pictures, and yes, I had them backed up. I love taking pictures of my kids and my world.



Remember that book Penny had on Inspector Gadget? I always wanted one of my own.

Cell phones get a bad rap, especially parents with cell phones, or parents that let their kids have cell phones, or parents that let their kids look at any kind of screen, or parents in general. If you are a parent everything you are doing is probably wrong, especially if what you are doing is reading this blog on your cell phone. Look up, see, that lady is judging you.

I read a post on Facebook the other day about a mother that observed her toddler at play. She made a note of how many times he looked up at her and the tally was 18 in however many minutes and she posed the question, “what if I had been on my cell phone?” She would have missed her toddler looking up! Eighteen precious looks!

I wish I could find the post again because I have so much to ask her. What if her toddler had looked up and witnessed her reading a book? What if her toddler looked up and saw her chatting with a friend? What if her toddler looked up and saw her taking his picture? What if her toddler looked up and saw her helping a friend with a parenting dilemma? What if her toddler looked up and she was *gasp* in the bathroom?

I wouldn’t really ask her any of that because I’m not trying to give anyone a hard time. She was making a valid point. Some parents probably do spend too much time on their phones. I’m not going to give them a hard time either. Parenting is hard enough without me sticking my nose in their business. You can’t tell by looking at a parent on their phone if they are on it too much. Even if you witness them missing a moment they might have enjoyed that does not mean they miss every moment. They might have missed that same moment because they were tying their shoe. We can’t possibly observe every precious moment with our children and trying might be worse for the soul than your cell phone. It’s stressful trying to “enjoy every moment” because we all hear all too often “they grow up fast.”

It does go fast, and you will miss it, I can’t deny that. My daughters are old enough for me to realize that the cliches are true. That does not mean you shouldn’t enjoy a book or a chat with your friend or play Candy Crush Saga. You do not need to witness every time your child looks up at you and your child should sometimes witness you doing more than staring back.  It’s good for your child to see that you have hobbies and interests and friends. It’s okay for your child to wait a moment while you finish what you are doing. If you were speaking on the telephone you would not hesitate to make them wait their turn to speak. If you were reading a paperback you would probably finish the sentence, or even the chapter, before responding, depending on the age and urgency of the child.

This is a new generation of parenting. We are still figuring out how technology fits into every aspect of our lives. We chat with our friends by text and read books on digital devices, and that’s okay. It’s okay to accept the progress and make it work for you. Read, chat, play, live. Enjoy every moment of your life.


It’s all in how you look at it.


In loving memory of my phone.

Every Year Is A Revolution

My community lost many good people this year. Some suddenly, without warning, and others slowly, gracefully, giving us time to rally and support them and their families. We also didn’t lose people we thought we might, and that is always a miracle. I wanted to write a blog about that and more to end the year. I wanted to say something profound, something wise. I wanted to end my fortieth year with something more than a messy house, the sounds of two little boys playing with a Star Wars science kit, and Firefly on Netflix.

Really, what more is there?

(Side note: Wow, we are geeks.)

This is everything. It makes me happy to know my friends are getting ready for a night out with music and chaos and the people they love. I’m content hanging with the boys, knowing the girls are at work with my boyfriend, at the business he bought this year, and they will all be home soon, at least for a minute.

Instead of something wise or profound I’ll leave you with my favorite Facebook comment from this year.

So fragile, and yet, they cut my head open, moved a bit of my brain, pulled a tumor off of a very tiny bundle of nerves (only damaging the single nerve that it was attached to!) and stapled me back together, all in the course of one day. Ten days ago. And today I went on a hike. Up a hill. It’s kind of amazing. My recovery has not been exactly typical, I admit. They were able to retain my hearing and leave other important nerves intact, and don’t let the hiking fool anyone, I’m still a hot mess, but… I spent the day with my kids.
Fragile, but amazing. All of us.

See ya in 2016.


Ten Simple Answers

20180604_221008_0001Note: This blog has been edited to clarify that while we all have a right to our beliefs that doesn’t mean we can choose not to believe facts. Answer number 3 will only apply to limited situations. Don’t lie to your kids.

When in doubt stick to the top two answers.



I’m going to need everyone to calm the fuck down about pretty much everything. Some super conservative dad that apparently just woke up here in 2015, saw a Princess Leia doll in a bikini with a chain around her neck and had no idea how to explain it to his children. (What grown man hasn’t seen this movie?!) This is just the tip of the crazy iceberg. These parents have no problem sitting their kids in front of violent television, but scantily clad heroines are a step too far. One Million Moms, which only has 75k likes on Facebook, by the way, and others like them, are worried about explaining that now any two consenting adults can get married legally. It’s a pretty simple concept and I bet their kids have a better grasp of it than they do. Transgender people not only exist, but now they are getting media attention and parents are freaking out. And of course mothers everywhere are feeling empowered and standing up (or sitting comfortably) for their right to nurse in public. Sit down, mom and dad, I have all the answers.

“What Will I tell my children?”

  1. I don’t know, let’s look it up together.
  2. That is none of our business.
  3. Yes, some people believe that, but I don’t. I believe _____________.
  4. It is a natural human function.
  5. I don’t know, we should ask him/her/them.
  6. 42
  7. Every American has the same rights, no matter what.
  8. If you don’t like it you don’t have to look/listen/buy/whatever.
  9. People with different backgrounds or cultures sometimes do things differently.
  10. We should not judge this situation with such limited facts. (See the first two answers if you need to expand.)

Now, print this list, stick it in your pocket, and next time your delicate senses are overwhelmed by all the side boobs and gay innuendo you can whip it out and pick the right answer. When in doubt, choose 1 or 2.


Jester Park Natural Playscape – Real Reviews For Real Families

Jester Park Natural Playscape

11407 NW Jester Park Dr, Granger, IA 50109


Jester Park is not a long drive from Des Moines, but once you hit the front entrance it feels like another 20 minutes until you find the playscape. It’s a lovely drive, though, so just keep going and follow the speed limit. My kids like to sing songs from Into The Woods while we drive through the heavily wooded area. Do not go towards the playground, which is also nice, keep going towards the elk and bison, you will find the playscape.

A natural playscape is not a typical playground. There is no plastic or metal or rubberized surfaces. There are wood chips and rocks, dirt and weeds.  Kids need nature and they are not being exposed to nature the way we were growing up. I use “we” assuming that if you have a family you probably grew up with skinned knees and wet shoes in the summer, but I’m not exactly sure when they started paving and padding everything. Goldy and Beauty were lucky to have a playground and a pond directly behind our apartments most of their childhood, so we didn’t frequent other parks very much so I didn’t notice the change until it happened.  I love the exciting, modern playgrounds that I have previously written about, and they play a wonderful part in making sure our kids are moving and not spending too much time with screens in their faces, but if you want a true outdoor experience with all the comforts of a playground you can’t beat a playscape.

There are 3 playscapes in the area, currently, that I am aware of, and another going in right in our neighborhood at our favorite splash pad, McHenry Park. I am always looking for more. (Hint hint leave a comment if you know of one!) Jester is probably our favorite because it is closer than Brenton Arboretum, which I will write about next, and the water feature is more fun than Sargent Park.

There is always plenty of parking fairly close to the play area. The bathroom is in the parking area, just a small building with an outhouse toilet and plastic urinal, but they keep it clean and provide antibacterial soap. There is also a water fountain but I recommend bringing your own water bottles. There is not much shade anymore. They cut down our favorite shade tree that we usually sat under to eat lunch. There is a lot to do but my kids always go straight for the water. If it gets crowded or unruly we go down the hill to the sandbox. There are also wood blocks, a prairie grass maze, and prairie animals to view. There are no picnic tables at the playscape but you can lay out a blanket or drive to the nearby picnic areas within the park. There are benches and one by the water that even provides a little shade. I imagine it would be a handy place to breastfeed a younger child while an older sibling played in the water. The website says this play are is best for children over 5, but mine have been having fun their since they could toddle. When it gets busy you may want to take little ones to the sand box.

For the love of all things pink and sparkly, though, please watch your children of all ages. My sister in law and I witnessed several little boys throwing large rocks into the water while other kids were playing. The adults responsible for them sat under a shady awning, ignoring them. When one little boy got a rock to the scalp and was gushing blood, his mother patched him up. They told the kids not to throw rocks and went right back to their shady hideaway. The kids continued throwing rocks into the crowded water area, and slowly other families began to leave. I think I have mentioned that I dislike trendy names for parenting types, helicopter moms and free range parents. I think we need a new trend. Common sense. If all the other parents at the play area have to make their kids leave the water because yours are being unruly, you need to hover a little more. That doesn’t make you a helicopter parent. It makes you and your child decent people. If your child is throwing rocks into a crowded play area they are showing you they are not ready to be left alone there yet.

I don’t want to give you the impression this is a dangerous play area. Far from it! Kids can and do throw rocks anywhere. We go to Jester Park several times a year and have only had this one incident.

My family has been picnicking at Jester Park since before Beauty was born. I know because we have pictures of her there in utero. There are several nice shelters you can just show up and use as long as there isn’t a reserved sign, or you can reserve them for an event. There is a large modern playground with modern bathrooms and showers across the street, an equestrian center, an amphitheater, a golf course, camping, fishing and more. There is also a lodge for events and they hold classes there, as well. If your family loves nature or needs more time in nature you must check it out.

We had a great time and I hope you do, too!


An elk was watching us dig in the sand.


The boys are playing with the wood blocks under a somewhat shady awning.


Sharkboy and his cousin, playing in the water.


This is the elk and bison viewing area.


Little S is playing in the sand.


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