If 6 Year Old’s Could Vote

dsc_0236We are on our way to an audition in Burbank for Kolby—a three hour drive for a three minute interview. Then we get to drive home. Oh joy!

Needless to say, my kid and I have long conversations.

 “Mommy, who are you going to vote for?”

I look in the rearview mirror at my six-year-old and chuckle. Oh boy, this is a big question. I decide to remain neutral. I am Switzerland. I determine I will not taint my kid with nasty politics.

“Well, mommy is not sure yet, sweetheart. I guess I’m not super excited about either candidate and that leaves me in an awkward place.” I smile and feign peace.

Inside I scream, “Dang it, I am a freaking Republican without an advocate, a leaf blowing in the wind of uncertainty. I’m so scared!!!!!

Kolby thinks hard, “Well Mommy, how are going to decide?”

Deep breath, “Well, ultimately, I have to follow my beliefs and determine which candidate best represents my interests and those things I am passionate about.”

Kolby pauses then belts out, “If I could vote I would be a Trump Girl!”

My mouth falls open. “Huh?”

“Yes it’s true. I think Hillary believes in mermaids and I don’t anymore. Its true Mommy, I believe mermaids are fake. You said it’s about what we believe Mommy, right? I think believing in mermaids is a deal breaker!”

I try to keep the car on the road and not die laughing.

My GPS makes a sudden detour and we exit off the freeway in East LA by Dodgers Stadium. Tears are running down my face and I’m wheezing from holding in my giggles, then Kolby shrieks and points.

“Mommy, lock the doors there a clown in the road!”

On the off-ramp of the 5 freeway stands a clown—a bulbous nosed, red haired clown who is juggling. He looks terrifying.

Fortunately, there are no woods nearby to drag us off into and kill us.

Ok Clown Dude, I understand it’s been a bad year for you guys with everything going on in Charleston and all, but this really isn’t the right place and time to build clown support.

And then I think about Trump and Hillary, mermaids, the media and the stupid clown and it all swirls into a cacophony of confusion. My head hurts and I want this circus to be over.

In a few short days the election is upon us. Here are my thoughts:

Please go vote. I don’t care who you land on. Vote for Him. Vote for Her. Write in a candidate if you must. Just get out there and engage. Never forget that voting is a privilege and people died for our freedom so we can bitch and moan about a less than thrilling election.

The candidates may both stink (in my opinion) but I feel fortunate and so grateful to live in a place where I have the opportunity to choose. And when in doubt on all those props in CA, use Kolby’s logic–vote “yes” for kids, vets and puppies. Vote “no” on everything else.

Now Get Out There and Vote!

—Samantha (still undecided)

The Sweet Side of Mom Fails

Christmas 2014 12I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I nail this mama stuff and other times, not so much.

After almost seventeen years of mothering, I wish I could say the successes stand out in my mind more than the epic catastrophes, but it doesn’t really work that way. Mom Guilt has a way of following us around, clinging tighter than the muffin top I have to lose every spring.

What I do know is that my kids are far less harsh on me than I am.

What they see is a mom who tries.

They see a blur of love, interrupted here and there by random blips of unmet expectations; maybe a harsh tone or a disappointment. But overall, the grace my kids give me is a gift I need to give myself this Mother’s Day.

Maybe you need some mama grace too. What I’m discovering is that behind most of my #MOMFAILS is a sweet surprise, but I have to be open to receive the gift.

In every disaster, there is a treasure waiting to be found. Here are a few of my more recent ones…

MOMFAIL #1   Mother’s Tea

“Excuse me, I need to speak with you about the Mother’s Day Tea for kindergarten,” I whispered under my breath to my daughter’s teacher.

The teacher stopped and swiveled, “What’s up?”

“I have a work conflict. It’s an event I’m in charge of at the exact same day and time. I feel awful but I don’t want to jeopardize my job. Is there some alternative form of celebration for the mom’s who miss this event?”

“I’m so sorry, ………(insert longest pause ever) but I don’t know because I’ve never had a mother miss this special day before.”

And this is where I tumble head first into the hole of #MOMFAIL

Never, ever, like ever?  I’m the first mom in all of Christian school history to miss this important day. Wow. Ok. I suck. I’m the worst ever.

A few days later I burst into tears on the school playground when I share with the other moms–you know, the ones ALL going to the event. They pat me on the back and love me despite my inability to balance work and kids,

For a week I torture myself.

Then I decide to reclaim my holiday, dang it! I pull out of my funk and make a plan. I will stop piling on the layers and layers of smothering guilt and take back my day from these unrealistic expectations of being a perfect Pinterest whole foods 100% available mom.

I finally put off telling my tell my kid and I break the news to her. She is sad, and so am I. We cry together and hold one another. And then after we dry the tears, we plan a special day where we will play hooky from school and work and life and simply be together. Grandma will go to her classroom party and I will do my job that helps to pay our mortgage so we can live in the home we both love.

A few weeks later, I am laying on the grass next to a bubbling fountain with my darling child snuggled up to me, the very same one I tragically disappointed. We are reading a book of inspirational quotes, eating a grand picnic of fried chicken and brownies and relaxing together looking at the clouds. We spend the morning at the pool, get smoothies, have our nails done and lavish  attention all over each other.

And I wouldn’t have had this delicious moment without the other disaster. This #MOMFAIL had a happy ending. Maybe not the ending I thought I wanted, but a beautiful connecting day only God could orchestrate.

 MOMFAIL #2   I have no hobby

My teenage daughter and I are driving. She is eating some handmade awesomeness another mom conjured up in her organic whole food kitchen.

I try some.  “It’s good,” I comment.

Then we pull up to the school and a J Serra mom walks by the car in her super awesome yoga outfit. My daughter mentions that’s her friend’s mom who is obsessed with Yoga. “She can bend like a twig, mom.”

“That’s cool,” I reply.

“Mom, what are you obsessed with?” my daughter asks slyly, knowing full well I have no hobby. Yes, I work out a little, cook modestly, read some, and watch one show a week, but I don’t really have a hobby. I am HOBBY-LESS.

I know this is a trick question and I have no trick answer.

“I guess you kids are my hobby.” I say with a shrug feeling like a loser.

“Awww, Mom, I like that hobby best of all!” And then my strong independent teenage girl smiles and gives me a big squishy hug.

And I am so freaking blessed!

MOMFAIL #3  My Kid Isn’t Going Away to a Fancy College

After a year of applications, standardized tests from hell, and calls from recruiters every night, my son finally decided on his dream school.

He had 11 offers and 4 walk-ons from Division 1 to D3 for football. I am so proud of my boy.

They were great schools.

And then when he tries to accept his dream school offer we hit a road block. The iron clad offer fell through. The school over-committed and bumped my kid. After signing day. After we turned down offers from other schools.

And although I won’t list the name of this college (thanks for breaking my kids heart you jack wagon defensive coordinator in the central CA area), it was a horrible experience.

So we scrambled and tried to put back together options, but some things you just can’t put back together–hopes and dreams that shatter.

After a grueling decision, my son decided to stay local and play football for a great Jr. College.

But this was not in my plan. It felt like a massive failure. When Amherst and Dartmouth and the University of Chicago call every week, this disappointment HURT MY EGO.

And I was forced to surrender once again.

After I got over myself, I realized my son was happy with his decision–vibrant even. The burden he carried so heavily on his shoulders lifted. Maybe he wasn’t ready to go away yet. Maybe I wasn’t ready for him to go either. And now I get another year (or two) with my beloved kid.

Maybe to the world of prep schools it was a #MOMFAIL, but I found tremendous joy in letting go of my own impossible expectations.

Happy Mother’s Day! May it be filled with GRACE and open arms to the failures that make us better!


If you are looking for a fun way to connect with your son, consider the Mother Son Brunch at J Serra!






The Jankiest Hood

christmas_lights_mishap.jpg (480×640)

Maybe it’s just me?–but when I see a home festively adorned with Christmas lights near Valentines Day, the word “janky” comes to mind.

Well, how about a whole neighborhood?  Is that like the “jankiest hood in town?”

Because that’s what I, what WE, the suffering people of Whispering Creek II are dealing with.

First of all, I LOVE our neighborhood!  We are what some might call a tad “eager” around Christmas time.

For the most part, we get our Christmas spirit on!  Our track sits right across the street from one of the more famous drive-by Christmas neighborhoods in Ladera, (just to clarify…that’s not a place where drive-by shootings occur, but instead it’s when you pack up the whole family in the car with some Starbucks and drive around and look at decorated homes. Because this is what we do in warm places with no weather)

So, although we don’t have the mega awesome light displays and hand out hot chocolate and fliers, we are “a nice on the eyes” place to go for a “look see.”

The majority of our homes put up lights galore, inflatable snowman, reindeer, animals and all the elf fixins.

I even have an inflatable Darth Vader and two Frosty’s, not to brag or anything…

Normally, as a group we rent a lift, blast some music and decorate together.  But this year, we decided to try something new and hire a service to put up and TAKE DOWN the lights.

Mistake #1: we paid the man upfront for the whole job.

The lights went up in late November.  And the lights are still up.

The light man has gone AWOL. With half of our entire neighborhood’s cash.

He has not returned phone calls or texts and we are SOL, as my dad used to say. All we have is a card. With no address. Who do we even sue?

So when you drive into our little Ladera neighborhood, try not to judge.  We know. We know. We so freaking know it’s the jankiest in town, but we haven’t yet figured out how to rectify the problem.

Do we send our husbands up to the roofs and high peaks of our two story homes? Do we risk life and limb or suck up the loss and pay more money? Do I send out my husband, because we own a coveted extension ladder, and make some extra cash? (just kidding babe)

Is our life insurance up to date?

These are questions we must ask ourselves!

In the meantime…James the Christmas Light Dude.  You are a wanted man and have lost the favor of this Ladera neighborhood!  At any moment, our ever vigilant Ladera association will start threatening us with fines if we don’t get these lights down…because Ladera has standards.

Merry Christmas James. You stink!


At least we put these guys away…


Throwing Stones

girl-sad-101artsSqueals erupt from the playground as a pack of pint sized girls tackle the monkey bars. The moms gather close, gobbling up grown-up time like precious pearls.

A small voice shrieks, “Mommy, sister said she hates me.” Tears fall.  A little sister sobs in frustration–she just wants to hang with the older girls. Be cool like them.

The lovely young mother administers a hug and kisses to her four-year-old, then calls the five-year-old over for a reckoning.

I watch the other girls stop their play. Somehow the word “hate” shocks us all out of our reverie. It get’s very quiet.

(When you play at the church school playground, it’s like God is watching)

I walk over and kneel down. A storm is brewing over their tiny countenance.

The girls are looking to lay blame.

“She said she hated her sister,” points out one little pig-tailed cutie. “That’s a bad word.”

I nod yes. “That’s true. But are you always nice to your little brother?” I probe, ever so gently.

A guilty smile sneaks out of the corner of her mouth. “No, she whispers.”

I turn to little Kolby. “Sometimes you and your sister fight, right?”

Kolby agrees sheepishly.

And suddenly they realize the “bad word” is in them too.

“Sometimes I say awful things I wish I could take back.” I confess.

I think of me sitting in the counselor’s office telling my husband his pride is an issue–as if I am somehow exempt from the very same malaise. 

And we all look down at our feet and the focus shifts off the bad child to the bad in us.

The next day the mom tells me her older daughter shared with her how she fears her friends like her little sister more than her.

In all truth, her little sister is a bit of a tot-sized hottie. She is vibrant and gorgeous with long golden hair and a winsome personality. She will probably be cheer captain and princess of everything.  I’d probably want to punch her in the face a few times if she were my sister too.  “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia ..”

Who wants to live up to that?

(I’m sure Jesus’ siblings struggled a bit too)

And then the mom laughs and said my little Kolby tried to empathize with her older daughter. Her daughter apologized for the bad choice of words and my Kolby explained that she too battles with jealousy towards her older sister Faith.

Kolby patted her on the back. “It’s tough, I know.”

The two hugged–closer now because of the rupture and the restoration.

I shook my head in disbelief. These are kindergartners–not thirty-five year old women. And yet somehow they are learning to self-identify and give grace and empathy to one another, not in spite of their brokenness but because if it.

I’ve learned down the long and bumpy road of life (and with a billion hours of therapy) that our broken pieces heal ONLY in relationship.

What a gift we give our children when we teach them to look within before casting stones and to share their hurt instead of bottling it up inside to fester and grow darker.

The mom and I hugged too–closer now because of the shared journey of parenting our girls together.

And I am grateful for friendship, forgiveness, and the sweet gift of grace we all desperately need.



How to be an Obnoxious Parent

I wrote this post five years ago and it feels like it needs to be updated.  Because maybe you don’t know how awesome my kids are now in 2015?

Random person-“Wow, your baby is really smart (pretty, adorable…amazing)!”

Me-“I know, right?”

Am I really that obnoxious parent who unashamedly brags on her kids?

Yep. I am. I can’t stop myself. I hear the words slipping out and I want to grab them back, whip out my lasso and coral them in, but it’s too late. Once again, I have over-shared regarding my kid’s total awesomeness.

(2010) Have I told you about Kyle?  We call him six-pack in training, our movie-star handsome, 4.0 GPA, nationally ranked football player, stud pitcher, kindergarten volunteering, gentle, loving, Godly, ridiculously humorous almost thirteen year old son?

lu7a0170Five years later…

(2015) Kyle is a 17 yr old senior in high school at J Serra.  He still loves football–although he is now a linebacker, fullback and tight end, instead of a center. He is in the process of getting recruited for college ball–more on that to come soon. He is a captain of his football team, still movie-star handsome, a good student, not playing baseball now and thinking of playing a little lacrosse in the spring?  He has no girlfriend (heck yeah!), is still soooo funny, even-tempered, hard-working, and is a county music, Jesus loving boy.  He’s building houses in Peru next spring, driving our old gas guzzling Ford truck around, and enjoying every minute of his friends and youth. Strangely enough, he is now violently allergic to his favorite food–sushi?  Suckaroo!  Kyle loves the beach, working out and snowboarding. If he’s not at football practice he is usually hanging out somewhere with Brad and Kelly.

(2010) What about my little beauty Faith? Let me tell you about my sweetheart girl who dances like a fairy, cheers like a maniac, is smart, fun-loving, a talented actress(recently starred in Peter Pan as the Indian Grizzly Bear), is a great big-sis, and leads worship with gusto? Did I mention she is shooting a spec commercial for the Vizio tablet this weekend?

(2015)  Faith is a freshman at J Serra and joins the Lions with her brother.  She is a JV cheerleader and is on the yearbook staff.  She is artistic, fashion-minded and dedicated.  She works hard in the classroom and wants to pursue photography as a career. Faith loves Campus Ministry–mainly because the worship director is “so beautiful mom,” which I totally get, because I think pastor’s are hot too!  Faith’s personality is mostly sunshine with a few storm clouds thrown in for good measure.  She is extroverted to the extreme and so beautiful, inside and out.




(2010) How about the Kolbster?  Baby Kolby is so freaking cute! She is months beyond her year, crazy clever, reads letters, knows every animal sound (including “hop” for bunny because I don’t know what the heck the bunny says), has killer hair, and talks incessantly about her big brother.

I just love Duck Chili mommy!

(2015)  Yep, Kolby still has killer hair.  I think we are all a little jealous.  Kolby is in kindergarten now–a real big girl–and the joy of our lives. She is clever and silly and smart as a whip.  Kolby plays soccer, does ballet and cheerleading, and is a part of a Daisy Troop.  She still loves her bro Kyle but talks about other boys now too (gasp!) On any given afternoon she rolls with the Claymont Street girls gang of blond beauties. She loves to color, play with Shopkins, read books with mama and play Barbies.  Kisses from Kolby are magical and her snuggles have true healing power.
KolbyK_selects_017I know. I know. Someone stop me from bragging. I have diarrhea of the pompous mouth when it comes to my munchkins. But, I’m guessing most parents feel thisway. They love their kids so, so, so much, they simply can’t help themselves.

But in my defense, even God brags on his boy a bit. “Have you seen my son Job?” he tells Lucifer. “He’s a total stud, blameless, upright and courageous.” (Slightly modified by Sam from Job 1:8)

Sounds like some swagger wagon to me…

So maybe my crazy love for my kids is annoying, boastful, and even bombastic.

But maybe it’s also… sort of a God thing.

Why Dodge Ball Matters

dodgeball-blog-jpg_180529_zps6e2f5270A ball whizzed by my nose. I squealed and jumped out of the way protecting the tiny infant in my arms from the rocking Dodge ball game on my neighbor’s lawn.

Holding my neighbor’s baby in the middle of a pint sized ball war wasn’t safe but it sure was fun.

As both our families fought to gain control of the ball and escape the pounding of hard rubber, my daughter Faith mentions how much fun it is to play the “real” game instead of the watered down version she was forced to play in school.

“What game did you play in Jr. High instead of Dodge ball?” my neighbor and good friend asks.

“Evasion ball.” Faith replied.

(My friend and I subtly give each other the WTF look…)

What’s Evasion Ball?

“It’s like Dodge ball but no one gets out.  Once you get hit you become a goalie.”

We look at each other in disbelief.

Let’s get this straight.

No one gets out.  No one faces the wrath of the ball or the pain of getting picked last.  Everyone wins and no one loses.

Now I certainly don’t like adversity or suffering, no one does at the time, but there are certain rites of passage that help us move into maturity and grow up.  Mastering the rules of the playground and how to survive helps a child navigate the ups and downs of life.

Who doesn’t remember the thump of the red ball on the face?

Why, why, why are we teaching our kids to “evade” reality?

kwdEe4TBy taking away the trials and avoiding the struggles we are raising a generation of kids unprepared for the harsh realities of the world.  When we remove loss and pain and disappointment from our children’s lives we also remove the ability to cope with loss and pain and disappointment.  And when those painful emotions inevitably hit, our kids (overwhelmed and unequipped) turn to drugs and sex and unhealthy self-soothing methods because they can’t process losing and sadness.

As a mom with a senior in high school. One of the recurring themes I hear over and over from colleges is that kids today are not “emotionally prepared” to handle life on their own. 

Well-meaning mama’s, you are not doing your kids any favor by doing all their laundry, dishes and chores.  Stop paying for their speeding tickets, stop doing their homework, and stop rescuing them when they get in trouble.

Be with them when they get their hearts broken.  Don’t call the parent and do an intervention.  Take them to a movie and buy them an ice-cream cone and help them process not avoid the pain.

Ground them when they come in late.  Have the balls to say “no” occasionally.  Also, have the balls to say “yes” even more than “no” and let them screw things up.  It’s far better to let them make a few mistakes under your roof than get hauled off to jail later.

I hear the martyr mom’s brag about their devotion and how spoiled their kids are—as if the mama’s who actually train their kid’s to function as future adults don’t love their kids as much as they do.  I say baloney!

Have we forgotten the goal is to LAUNCH these kids—not enable them to live on our income or sofa?

So I am raising the gauntlet…

Let’s teach our kids how to rebound and get back up after they get smacked by a ball.  Let’s let them suffer a little. (I am not advocating child abuse here, just natural consequences)

Let’s make our kids work for the trophy and for grades and even for relationships. Nothing good ever bloomed from apathy.

A long long time ago in grade school, I got punched by a bully, who then ran away and hid after I smacked him back. It was both traumatic and empowering. Was I scared? Heck yeah!  I cried as I fought back, but, he never messed me with again. Maybe he even respected me?  Gasp!  Thirty-five years later we are friends on Facebook.  That’s the dance of life.  It’s about confrontation and resolution, not evasion.

Sometimes getting whacked by the ball stings.  It hurts our pride and makes us cry.  But finding the courage to get back in the game and play says far more about our kid’s character than avoiding the game altogether.

I think Dodge Ball matters.  Bamm.


How to End the Clothes Drama With Your Teen Daughter

Kids rebel when they hit adolescence–it’s simply a part of pulling away from their parents and creating self-identification.

Every kid does this differently–hair, clothes, grades, parties, eye rolling, politics, religion, tone of voice, apathy. Pick your poison.  If you want to argue with me on this and say your kid is perfectly obedient, I will argue back and suggest you have raised a clone who can’t think for themselves. That’s called a co-dependent child and you have your own issues.

aafe4c51ee8357ec283b61d4d6918155.jpg (236×251)I also might argue teen girls do this “self-identification” the best.  Boys are good but girls are better. Adolescent girls just have a knack for pushing hot buttons.

When I think about my lovely teenage daughter, I know I am blessed. She is kind, loving, Godly, a diligent student, an entrepreneur at heart, a gifted photographer, and beautiful inside and out. She makes friends easily and is a strong leader. I have it good, I know.

But on the flip side, my darling girl is also a skilled instigator. She can identify weakness in people as quick as Jason Bourne.  In about 30 seconds flat, she knows what will yank your chain.  It’s a terrible gift.  And when the moment is right–bamm.  You go down.

This girl knows what drives me bonkers–black bras under white shirts, booty shorts with cheeks showing, tiny bikinis, mean comments and tones, Demi Lovato and tongues sticking out like Miley Cyrus.

So, it’s guaranteed that every day with my daughter will involve one of these irritants.

My best coping skill to combat my teen terrorist, beyond prayer, has been the school uniform.  The peace and happiness this one change made to our household in the mornings is truly priceless.

Junior High was a DISASTER! We used to struggle every morning. It was rare that any first outfit would pass muster and back up the stairs she would go. Occasionally she pulled a fast one and got out. We were at a stale-mate.

Together we would shop for and pick out clothes that are far too modest for her and far more revealing than I would like–but somewhere we met in the middle. Then we would bring the clothes home and she would wear them like crazy and dry them on hot until they either shrunk or she outgrew them and then they were perfect for her and another problem for me.


The sad thing is, her clothes were modest compared to many of her friends, but the modest side of slutty is still skanky in my book.

Why oh why, you ask, do parent’s let their teen girls dress like a hussy?

It’s because the girls relentlessly wear them down!  Day after day after day!

Enter the uniform for high school.  Yes, it also involves private school.  I know, I know, most people can’t afford it. We can’t afford it either, but we make it happen because:

It’s the best money ever spent in the history of parenting.

Blouses and sweaters and plaid skirts! Brilliant!

Now don’t get me wrong, girls will still try to rebel but the damage is limited in this arena.

AHHHH Peace!

My daughter comes down stairs in the morning with her Catholic girl skirt hiked up to her naval, but I can take a deep breath and let it go, because there is a neurotic ladies dean waiting for her at school with all-knowing eyes to give her detention. The pressure is off me!

On the first day of school, her cheer friend got three detentions! One for too short, and two more for every roll. Ouch! My girl has learned the tricks–she doesn’t roll, she just hikes.  Smart huh?


APRILphoto_StJoes_2.jpg (900×600)

Is this payback for my indiscretions?

I know it could be worse.  My son decided to express himself through hair, one time he died it white and there were a few pre-season mohawks with blue hair before football. We rolled through that mess and kept it light. It’s just hair we said and laughed it off.

I wish I could say the same about my girl–it’s just ass–but I can’t. I want to protect her and keep her safe like all parents do. Modesty and sexuality are scary topics with girls. The stakes are higher.

No parent is ready for the darker side of letting go. I don’t want her to get hurt. I don’t want some boy to use her for sex and leave her heart-broken. I want my girl to value her beauty far beyond her looks. I want her to know she is worth so much more than what the world will tell her.  She is not an object!  And darn it, I want her to figure this out before age 35–like I did.

Deep breath.  More prayer.

The uniforms help.

Someday soon she will dress herself without mom around and I imagine, that without me (and her step-dad) to piss off and other teenage girls to impress, she’ll probably dress quite nicely.  Maturity will sneak up before I know it because I believe she knows she is loved.  And God has her back.

In the meantime, the uniform (and prayer) is my best friend!


How Do Mom’s Survive Recruiting?

12004008_1229294673762843_1963274122960026051_n“Gentlemen, it is better to die a small boy than to fumble this football.” -John Heisman

Football, football, football…

It’s all we talk about in the Keller house besides Jesus and cheerleading.

That’s because it’s recruiting season of my son’s senior year. And truthfully, it’s not as much fun as I thought it would be. It’s actually hard work and I’m not even the one playing a full contact sport.

Recruiting is stressful and nail-biting. Your kid get’s an offer from a school(s) and you feel so blessed. But then there are these “reach” schools lingering around dropping seductive hints. And they are the “wow” schools that dazzle and woo, but they don’t pull the plug and offer until they have to.

These are moments where you throw up your hands and say “screw that school” only to get a phone call from the coach fifteen minutes later to affirm their interest and then you love them all over again.

It’s like a bad dating relationship. You wait by the phone and they call just enough to get you all hot and bothered.

Okay, I know, I talk about my kid and recruiting in “we” terminology. Clearly I self-identify with my child. I took the helicopter parent test and failed. So now I just own it. Truthfully, I think every football parent heavily invested in their child thinks in terms of “we” instead of “he”–but that’s another blog.

The Unofficial Visit

So, this weekend my kid has a recruiting trip planned.  It’s officially unofficial.  So the university can only provide us with tickets to the game and other “free” amusements. Sadly for my kid, I’m coming along with his five-year-old sister. We are like the antithesis of cool.

When I asked my son what the game day will look like, he said it involved:

  1. A tour of the campus possibly hosted by sorority girls (come again?)
  2. Time meeting the players and coaches
  3. Maybe a side-line pass?  (One for mom and little sis too?)
  4. Seats  (hoping for 50 yard line)
  5. And finally…”maybe some of the players could take me out after the game and show me around…please mom?”

Clearly, they are trying to woo the son not the mother because I’m thinking more along the lines of:

  1. Campus Crusade for Christ ladies school tour (Hottest is modest, baby!)
  2. A time to talk discipline and study plans with the coaches
  3. The football team job placement program after graduation
  4. After-party worship concert praising Jesus for a big win.
  5. Free Kool-Aid and cookies served to potential recruits

Oh boy, who knew when I signed up my kid at age 7 for tackle football I would be here?

But honestly, the hardest part of recruiting is not the reality of sorority girls and parties, or the waiting, or the endless college applications, it’s the constant reminder of minutes slipping by.

Every time a coach calls (nightly) I am reminded my kid is leaving soon.  Some parents “Yee Haw,” but I am more of a “Boo-Hoo” mom.

I confess I am happy and sad.  I’m anxious for me but thrilled for him.  Sometimes I want to shake this kid and force him to seize these crazy opportunities and go to the Ivy League, even if its far away, and then I change my mind two seconds later. I’m up and I’m down emotionally depending on the day. I lie in bed at night and hear him downstairs studying and I silently weep, knowing this little boy who changed my life and made me a mommy is packing up his room soon–and I can’t possibly take down the adorable football fathead of him.  I can’t.  I just can’t!

How does this joy and sorrow live side by side?  Hey kid, thanks for getting a football scholarship and saving me money, but maybe I could pay to have you a little closer to home?  Just kidding.  Not.

How do mom’s do this?  Is there a support network?  I want to hold onto him forever but know he’s ready to go and would resent me if I tried.

AHHHH!!!  Letting go sucks!

When I take the time to pray about this and surrender to God I am reminded of a few simple things.  Here is the cry of my heart…

The Football Mama’s Prayer

Jesus, help me let go!  I know I am merely a steward of this amazingly athletically gifted child who is about ready to launch into adulthood. I thank you for every minute with him.  For the tantrums and blond curls, chubby cheeks and endless stinky football pads.  I trust that I raised him to the best of my ability and it’s time let him go with a smile and an “‘atta boy!” and let you take over.  The best school for my kid is the one that you lead him to–not me.  I pray for wisdom in his choice.

I pray that football will be an outlet and a joy–not a job or a chore–because it’s been his passion since he can remember. I pray he stays sound in both body and mind and that you protect his physically, emotionally and spiritually. I also pray he meets a nice girl who loves you (and oh by the way, who grew up on the West Coast).  I pray for his professors and peers and dorm mate, and that he is challenged to grow and push past his limits. I ask for courage and strength for my boy as he faces adversity and meets them head on. I surrender this young man to you Jesus and I thank you for football because this game changed both our lives.  Amen.

Any advice or prayers, either on recruiting or letting go of my kid is welcome! 



The Bucket List


The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity – Dorothy Parker

Twice a week, for the entire summer, my girls and I drove to the meca of cheer land–OC All Stars–for Faith’s J Serra JV high school practice.

And twice a week, for an hour and a half, little Kolby and I tried to kill time.  We hit up all the chick magnets within the near vicinity–Target, Old Navy, more Target–and then ran out of money.  Eventually we found ourselves back in the giant gymnasium, bored out of our gourd, with no air, forced to listen to a repeating cacophony of Demi Levato, while breathing in the stench of a thousand sweaty girls.

One day, during the endless cheer torture, I had an idea.  I asked Kolby if she wanted to go on a little date with me to Starbucks and write a bucket list of fun things to do over the summer.

“Does Starbucks have air-conditioning mama?” she inquired.

“Yep and chocolate milk.”

“Let’s go!” Kolby proclaimed.

Once we arrived, we ordered drinks and found some barstools.  I pulled out the notes feature on my phone and we got down to business.  I explained the premise of a bucket list and how it worked.  I also explained how sometimes people make these when they are sick or dying, but ours was a list for savoring the goodness of summer.

And, oh by the way, my very last summer with my son at home before he starts college and Kolby starting kinder…tear, sob, hiccup, deep sigh.

Kolby’s and Mommy’s Bucket List 2015

Play in Sprinklers

Water Balloon Fight

Farmers Market

Bubbles, bubbles, and bubbles

Watch Outdoor Movie


Duffy Boat ride

Flying Kites

Merry go round


American Girl Store

Ladera Ranch Bucket Park

Pool and more pool

Ballet Lessons


Sleep in a Hotel

Climbing Trees


IMG_2154Guitar Lessons

Paddle Boarding

Movie-Inside Out

Vacation Bible School

Mini-Cheer Camp


Go to a Play

Make Cookies

Roller Skate


Get Ice Cream

Scavenger Hunt

Lemonade Stand

IMG_2295Hang out in a Bookstore

Mother Daughter photo shoot

Go to Jewel Mountain with Daddy (ask Siri for directions)

Finger Paint

Make Mud Pies

Pick Berries

River Rafting


3 months later

Here’s what I learned after checking off the items one by one.  We completed all but 4!

1. It’s not really about the list–the bucket list is simply an excuse to be together in companionship and relationship. 

 2. The little  things were just as fun as the big-ticket items.  The lemonade stand was a comical riot!  Girls vs boys with the boys terrorizing the girls via go-carts and trying to derail their business.  Girls still won!  Yee haw!

3. Setting intentional time aside to have fun speaks my kids love language.  It shows I am willing to invest all of me in her interests.

4. One on one time matters!  Ironically, the best part of the bucket list was simply making the bucket list week after week at Starbucks.  The twice-weekly date with the most adorable girl in Starbucks was a kick.  Every second basking in her goldilocks and giggles with a grande Americano in hand is a treat for this mama.  Normally she competes for my attention with two other siblings and a daddy.  This time I was all hers.

5.Savor Every Minute!  I have become so wistful and nostalgic as I prepare to release my son into adulthood.  It’s made me deeply appreciate the last days of little with my youngest child, the long days of teenager with my middle daughter and every sacred minute with my boy-man before he launches off to grown-up land.  I can’t stop the clock but I can sure make the most of my days.

Do you need to make a bucket list with someone special?

 And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years – Abraham Lincoln

The Irreverent Project

smiling-mother-teresa-black-and-white.png (242×371)

“Hey mom, I need to work on a group project tonight,” grins my seventeen-year-old son sheepishly.

Ding. Ding. Ding.  I suddenly sit up straight at the dinner table.  Oh bad, bad word! I hate group projects with a vengeance.

I think of vacations ruined by supposed “friends” who dumped all their work on my kid, who then dumped all their work on me.  I remember the Palm Springs trip where our entire family stenciled, cut and pasted presidents onto a behemoth poster board instead of frolicking in the pool.

“What is your part?” I inquire with dread.

“I have to make a Vine about Mother Teresa. I need the girls to help. Give me some ideas mom.”

“How about dressing up little Kolby and having her feed a homeless man with leprosy in Calcutta.  Then he can get up and dance.”

My freshman daughter moans, “Mooooom….that is so not funny.”

Kyle strokes his mini-beard deep in thought.  “Its a start mom, but I need to embellish.”

My pride pricked by my daughter’s snarky rejection, I throw up my hands and stomp over to the sofa. “Fine, I’m out. Make sure to finish the dishes when you are done with the video.”

The kids run off.  I hear giggles from the front porch.  Kolby rushes by enveloped in a black tablecloth.  I get bored, give up my mini-fit and end up clearing and washing all the dishes anyway–further confirming my enabling mothering status.

Finally, after an hour plus of filming, I get Kolby ready for bed and tuck her in with stories and kisses.  I hear Kyle downstairs grumbling and editing his masterpiece.

In the morning I ask to view the Vine.

Let me get this straight.  Mother Teresa (aka Kolby) gives wads of cash to a homeless farmer from central Mexico wearing a sombrero.  And then he Whip, Nae, Naes.

It’s so wrong, it’s right.  Irreverent? Stupid? Hillarious? Check, check, check.

Ok, kids…that’s funny.

Of course he get’s an A on the project.  I think even Mother Teresa would laugh at this one.

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