Train puppies – Mentor kids

via Daily Prompt: Mentor

“Training- training is everything; training is all there is to a person. We speak of nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what we call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us.”
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

When I was 19 I lived in Madison Wisconsin USA on the isthmus between 2 lakes.  There were bike trails, the university, outdoor festivals and farmers markets on the capital square.  My neighborhood was a mix of students and hippies.  My next-door neighbors were a young family and much to my surprise one day I found the 5 and 6-year-old had written in sidewalk chalk – Subvert the dominant paradigm.  I wasn’t sure what it meant so I looked it up and I liked it immediately.


My parenting style may be different than others – or I should say it absolutely is different from others.  I want my children to function successfully in the school system and to be respectful.  I do not however want them to lack in critical thinking and to just accept everything they are told at face value.  I also don’t want the personality conditioned out of them so that they can be docile and easy to control.  As you may intuit this has led to some challenges for me and some calls from the school over the years.


It has also led to parent teacher conferences where a teacher tells me how much my kids contribute to the discussions and how my son saw something in a story that has been in the curriculum for the last 15 years that she had never noticed and how insightful it was.

Children need boundaries but they also need to have space to develop their natural gifts.  A bright child with logical arguments should be directed to the debate society instead of the principals office.   Aggressiveness can be honed on the athletic field or basketball court.  Creativity can be explored in art club, band, chorus or drama.  Trying to force kids into a box only stifles them.

Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

If we want our kids to become leaders instead of followers, we need to encourage then to test their boundaries.  Don’t be afraid to let your kids fight for what they believe in and see what they can accomplish.

Fear and suspicion



Every day at noon I would walk around the corner from school and meet my mother and the crossing guard.  I was a “home luncher” rather than a “carrier” or a “buyer” meaning I  got to leave school and spend some time just me and my mom.  I am the youngest of five children, the only girl.  I loved lunchtime.

One day I was on my walk home for lunch and a van pulled up in front of me.  A tall man with reddish brown hair and a mustache started walking toward me.  He was saying something that I couldn’t understand, not because it wasn’t English but because I was terrified.  I knew there was something wrong with a stranger getting out of a van walking toward an eight year old girl and trying to talk to her.  I ran to the corner to where my mom and the crossing guard were waiting.  As I did, the van peeled around the corner fast.  I relayed the story to my mom with tears streaming.   I was out of immediate danger but felt fear after that when I would walk home.

I have often thought about that day and wondered, was the man talking to me at all? Was he really some kind of a creep?  The school is very close to several highway on ramps and it would have been easy for him to jump on a highway and be long gone before anyone knew.  Maybe he was there to meet his girlfriend and he was talking to himself in anger that she wasn’t there and didn’t have any bad intentions at all toward me.  I will never know what may or may not have been the reason that this situation imprinted itself on me.  Something about it made it different that the thousands of other contacts with people that quickly vanished from my memory.  Perhaps it is just a healthy fear of  strangers, especially those in windowless vans.  Kids have been taken.

About four years after the van incident a girl who lived a few blocks from me went missing.  I knew her but not well.  We were on softball together one season and she was a year older.  She had glasses and short straight blonde hair.   She had a paper route which was a big deal.  That was one of the few jobs a kid could get.  All of my brothers had paper routes and I helped them and wanted to take on a route when I was 13.  But that was never to be.

Writing this is emotional, I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.  I didn’t have the language for it then but now I would say it was surreal, terrifying.  Where was she and why didn’t she come home?  There were 7 blocks between her house and her paper route.  It felt like she would have to turn up, like it was all a mistake.  Being a kid there is a naive sense of hope that kept me focused on her being okay, but also the sense that something was wrong.  All the parents were visibly shaken and when the adults are worried the kids feel it.  Deep down we all knew this wasn’t going to be okay.

They found her.  She was dead. My friends mother explained a little bit of the news story because we didn’t understand what had happened.  Looking back, I wish she hadn’t.  I didn’t need to know how ugly the human mind can be and how a depraved man can steal a beautiful child from this world.  I had nightmares for a long time after that and my seemingly safe little working-class neighborhood suddenly felt like a danger zone.  In my dreams, when I saw her it was either as a scary ghostly floating vision or as one of the kids at school as if nothing had happened.

There was no paper route for me or any other girls in my neighborhood after that.  In gym class we started a pretty aggressive chapter on self-defense.  I remember being scared.  We were learning how to put a man’s nose through his brain or groin kick him to do damage.  I didn’t feel empowered to take out a bad man, I just felt like the bad men could be anywhere and they wanted to get little girls.

As I grew up and the initial fear of being taken began to fade, I started to read books about criminals.  I had this idea that if I understood how they thought and worked then I could spot one and I would be safer for it.  I had a conversation with a friend who was police officer for years and I got some serious wisdom from him.  There is nothing different about these people.  There is no key to it all that will illuminate why someone will wake up today and do something that most of us would never do.  They just make these choices.  That is so sensible and yet also difficult to accept.

The normal quiet man in the blue house with the nice lawn could be a killer, trust your instincts and suspicions.

via Daily Prompt: Suspiciouscreeper

Don’t stop get it, get it……

A few months ago, as a result of one of my favorite podcasters – I signed up for an app to listen to books on my commute.  I enjoy reading but don’t always have a lot of time.  Listening to books gives me access to the stories I don’t have time to read and helps me avoid the inundation of negativity in the news.  I am currently listening to Dale Carnegie – How to win friends and influence people.  It was published in 1936 so some of the anecdotes are dated but still accessible.

I can use my iPhone and listen to the books via the Bluetooth in my car which is convenient.  There is a glitch though, or, to my mind a glitch.  When my 13-year-old runs out on a cold morning to fire up my car the book begins to play – so she turns it to the radio.  That is fine and honesty I prefer to have the book stop so that I don’t miss something.  The issue is that when I switch back to Bluetooth my Apple library kick on the free U2 album.  I like U2 – but why are they the go to for my library?  Try as I may to skip to Oasis all it would do was lag for 5 seconds and then BAM!


– U2 popped back up.  I know this is old news since my google search of the U2 Apple hit how to delete it.  But I wasn’t using my phone for music – so this revelation hit me in 2017.

So, I am driving along unable to switch on Audible because Suri wants my password and trapped in an album I don’t want to hear again.


AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No More

oh no

As I skip songs I finally get to a song that I bought years ago on my old iPod. Check it out on this link Everythings gonna be alright

The Babysitter Circus – Everythings gonna be alright


I found them when I was helping my son search for music from New Zealand 4 years ago.  It makes me happy every time I hear it and the video is great too.

happy happy

I was getting upset about something minor – and then the universe delivered a gift that not only made me feel better but made me happy.



Don’t Fear the Reaper Or How a total coincidence made my kid think I’m insane.

via Daily Prompt: Coincidence

Autumn is here

The magic of autumn is the combination of cool air changing the landscape as robust trees lose their leaves and the empty spaces echo with mystery.   There is a spooky energy in the short days and long nights.

Full moon, cold air on my neck and the rustling of dried out leaves in the breeze can have me looking around for someone to hop out of the shadows.

Who is sneaking up behind me?  Probably no one right?

zombies dancing

I totally understand why the northeastern portion of the US was home to some great stories like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”  by Washington Irving.  We still worry about the dead walking but now their not headless, just mindless.

Zombies are everywhere in popculture and though my kids like them, they don’t like it when I initiate a game of “What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?”


This is a silly question when logic tells us it is unlikely that the dead will walk and try to eat us – but in the spirit of fun – what would you do?

Myself, I would try to survive for as long as possible, but if it became clear that there was no way that I was going to make it I have a contingency plan.

  • Step 1 Glucosamine: mega doses of glucosamine.  The reason that the zombies are always limping along is that their joints are deteriorating from lack of synovial fluid.  While this is not a forever solution I think that flooding my system with some glucosamine might keep me spry for a while.  And I think that the flexible zombie gets more brains. (It was a total coincidence that my old joints were achy and I bought some glucosamine – my 13 year old spotted it and assumed – well,.. probably that I am nuts.)
  • Step 2 Wear athletic outfit and nice sneakers.  Who wants to be some rag a ma tag zombie limping along barefoot in torn clothes?  Spoiler Alert – I’m gonna be a zombie – #Track Suit Zombie

running (2)

  • Step 3 Get close enough to get a bite on the arm and have a weapon to keep the zombie from eating me.  In order to pull off the track suit zombie ensemble I can’t be walking around all gored up.
  • Step 4 Position myself where there will be some people to chase so that once I wake up all dead and ravenous there will be something to snack on.

Death is inevitable but being some smelly half eaten limping around bag of bones is optional – I prefer to go out in style.

Come on baby, and she had no fear
And she ran to him, then they started to fly
They looked backward and said goodby, she had become like they are
She had taken his hand, she had become like they are
Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper“- Blue Oyster Cult


ok fine for sure for sure

Taking the drive from Binghamton, NY to Virginia Beach was not boring for a minute.  We played “yellow car” think Punch bug but with yellow cars, trucks, buses, and excavators.  Bluetooth songs streamed a wide variety of tunes from radio top 40 to Nirvana Unplugged, Dave Matthews, Depeche Mode, the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and on.  Then at the beach there was a band playing 80’s hits and my daughter who is on the cusp of her teens grabbed me by the hand and pulled me onto the dance floor to Walk like an Egyptian and hit a lighted beach ball with the crowd.  For the first time in a while I was able to truly relax and enjoy it all.

Being a parent is hard work and more often than not it can feel like a battle.  Maybe I should introduce Love is a Battlefield next?  I used to love music and now I listen to podcasts and NPR.  I guess I forgot how the right music can set the tone for an experience and driving down the highway imitating Moon Unit saying “like Oh my God” literally opened up the playful silly part of me that loves to laugh and even better they got to have that experience with me.  My 17 year old son who plays classic rock on a guitar with doves inlaid on the fret board, my 14 year old son who has an amazing sense of rhythm and can dance to anything and my 13 year old daughter who can sing along with any radio song plus rock out to the 80’s.

I am happy that I was able to take a moment to appreciate the simplest pleasures on our trip – music and laughs with the people that I love.