How to Raise a Happy Teen

Possible? Plausible? Urban legend?

Actually no. Listen all you parents of young girls, you don’t have to stress. I have the secret to success and since I have been asked, many times to share it, I thought, what better way than my daughter’s sixteenth birthday week.

First off, throw out the schedules, unless you want your child a stressed out ball of anxiety, screeching monkey, and peeling the wall paper. Micro-managing is not the answer. Forget it. I think the most routine we had was Barney singing on TV and bath time. Those were pretty reliable. I can’t even remember if I made her brush her teeth much less have a bed time. It was by nine (or ten).

She slept with me as an infant until after breastfeeding. Then, I laid down with her as a toddler until she fell asleep. Eventually I just gave her my bed – problem solved. A three-year old in a double bed with no worries of her falling out of it. Heck, the twin wasn’t so bad (heh). If I had only known what it took for her to fall asleep on her own, I would have given her that big old bed moons ago.

She had a room with her very own bathroom by age ten along with a cell phone. Yes, a real one. She grew up on McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries except for the occasional dinner I would cook, ground beef in a bowl or Kids Cuisine. Yeah, McD’s was much better. Let’s not forget mom’s breakfast either. Cinnamon toast, hold the toast, just pass the butter and sugar. She had candy and soda when she wanted and never gorged on it. Never thought it was a big deal. Never obsessed about it (unlike me).

Right now, that girl has EASTER candy from last year on her dresser. IN PLAIN SIGHT. Never opened. Yeah, it’s gross but my point is, she used to have to hide candy from ME. She could care less about it while I hunted it down. She eats it when she wants to, no big deal.

She dressed herself from age two on. I didn’t care if it matched. I don’t think anyone else did either but she had a scary eye for colors and shoes even at age two. Of course, she did change clothes – a lot. Luckily, I like doing laundry.

I took her EVERYWHERE to EVERYTHING from a week old up. Plane rides, car rides, shopping, showers, funerals, weddings, movies, sporting events, work, and many, many kid things too. We sang. We danced. I never missed a Barney beat. Mary Kate & Ashley? The Olsen twins – AFTER Full House – they rocked. We had every VCR episode on tape. I’m not kidding. Every. One.

In our house, if you heard Sponge Bob come on the Cartoon Network, you were to immediately drop what you were doing. Run, not walk, to the living room and BELT the theme song at the top of your lungs.

I guess I could have put her in time out if she didn’t, but I don’t think she ever had time out. Nor was she spanked (maybe once?). I think she has been grounded twice (her entire life that is).

She had bad grades in elementary, 2nd grade, but then again she was diagnosed with ADHD. She had been through a big move from one city to another, from one school to another. It’s no wonder. Poor kid.

Maybe you think this is a recipe for a “bad” kid. I mean…I didn’t follow all the rules, right? Spoiled, entitled, does what she wants with no consequences. I’m too much of friend not a mom. Is she really sneaking out to party?

Busted! New Year’s Eve boozing it up!

Well, no. Actually she likes hanging out with me. I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s how I roll….

I have never held anything back from Sydney. She knows my mistakes. BIG ONES. She knows my failures. EVEN BIGGER. I was never anything but honest to her. I’m not perfect. I’m just mom. No one ever said I had to be. If I do admit to any regret, it’s from not enjoying her baby years more. I was too worried about being a mom, not sure when that changed. Maybe after my 1000th and one one MILLIONTH and one mom failure.

One thing is for sure, she never doubted I loved her. The only thing I stood firm on was NO DRUGS. I promised to shave her head if she ever tried them (still would Sydney! Bald as an egg). The only horror I put her through (besides ex #2) was riding the Jurassic Park Adventure at Universal Studios. She cried in line. Hey, we came all the way to Orlando, she was RIDING IT! She STILL denies enjoying it. Of course the picture tells a different story, it was pretty pitiful with her and her cousin hunkered down under the bar, faces twisted in horror frozen in a scream. My bad. That really was an awesome ride, those dinosaurs looked soooo real.

So hear me out. Stop stressing. Be honest. Don’t say, DO. Laugh, at everything. Sing, off-key. Dance, radically. Live, so your inside child never dies. RELAX. Have faith. Enjoy every moment before it’s gone.

Just be careful who is watching. You may influence a new generation.

Hey Sydney….

Thanks for being so incredibly amazing. You really did it on your own (didn’t you?). I feel like I was along for the ride (except when you drive, please let me out at that point). You never cease to amaze me with your funny humor, easy-going stride, and your slice of pure cool awesomeness. I am so grateful you are my daughter.

My mom swears I didn’t get the experience of raising a “real” kid. Whatever you are, I hope you always stay the same – glowing with your inner brightness and child-like spirit – I hope you stay a happy teenage girl forever.

The Fine Art of Car Dancing

I’ve been car dancing for as long as I can remember. Maybe I got a little more free with my moves when tinted windows became popular. I guess I thought I was semi-hidden until someone I knew saw me and never let me live it down. Eventually, I just didn’t care anymore. I busted my moves, cut my rug, and mashed those potatoes – in the car, in the grocery aisles, on the sidewalks. If the mood struck, I was DANCING.

Of course the fine art of car dancing is no fun alone, so I taught Sydney. And we didn’t just dance there but everywhere. It wasn’t too long ago we were getting down in the doorway of Pappasitos, waiting for Jason to pull the car around. Laughter bubbled over and who knows? Maybe it infected the restaurant patrons and staff. I’m sure it made a good show, or laugh. Or to them we might be The Crazies, as in the movie we recently watched.

Here is the thing, I have two little girls that are going to be my step daughters. The tradition has to be passed. We are a family of car dancers. They will teach their children, and those children theirs. I started training them last summer in the parking lot of Tom Thumb.

Let me tell ya, it didn’t take long. These kids are naturals. Imagine my delight when Lance from Jungle of Life emailed me about a special project to participate in – an International day of car dancing – brought to you by Katie from The Levity Project. If any of you were around for our mall Laugh fest it’s the same Katie, and the same Levity Project.

Our assignment – to jig it up car dancing all day and video 15-30 seconds of it. A-ha! Our mad skills would be recognized. Our greatness recorded. It was like making it to the Olympics after training all summer. Go team car dancing USA. I have to tell you, it was crazy cool. Contenders for a medal? I’ll let you decide.

I have a full length video of our car dancing day that is just not ready for release (unless you want a DVD mailed). What is ready is the official -GLOBAL- video just released today that includes our segment (3:14) that we sent in.

Great job done by ALL participants from all over the WORLD. I was stunned by the movement of this passion and where it ended up. Lance always includes a note that we are ALL CONNECTED, especially when we do a project of this kind. His post is here. Katie’s post is here.

Funny thing is, one of my GOOD friends is in this video from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I was so surprised and happy to see her grooving away. I met her a few years ago in person with a group of online ladies in Ohio. We all met on a thirty-something Ediets message board together. Who she knows from the Levity Project? I have no idea. But TRULY, it is a small world and we are ALL connected.

What an honor to be part of this event. I can’t even describe how proud it makes me to know such a life giving group of individuals seeking out ways to touch others with love and laughter.

Get ready to smile, laugh, and don’t forget – DANCE. Please share this video with everyone you know to brighten their day.

If you have trouble viewing please click



The Insane Morphing Mutant Clown

He lives in my head. He’s insane, scary, mutant, and ugly. He’s been living in my head the last week. Ahhhhh!!!!

Okay, it’s really a COLD in my head, but it was so much more fun to call it a clown. Don’t ya think?

IMM Clown arrived wearing his funny shoes. He had orange lapels, with a sequin black and white vest. What can I say? He has a passion for fashion. His first trick was a deep rumble in my chest. It was like a freight train was coming out of my throat. I tried to cough him out, but no luck.

Then my clown decided to turn on the funhouse faucets of my nose. Drip, drip, sniffle, snort. The SOUNDS he made. OMG! Most embarrassing of all was when I went to buy cold medicine at CVS. Laughingly he cranked the faucet as I was punching in my ATM code. No amount of sucking that sniff with all my might helped. I still dripped in front of the clerk. The horror!

That’s when I knew he was evil and that he had to go. I brought out the big boys. NyQuil and Mucinex to kick the stuffing out that clown. To show him who is boss. This wasn’t a three ring circus. Well that showed him alright.

Except…..we didn’t realize he was a MORPHING MUTANT. Yeah. He morphed to something like half his size. Climbed up into a sinus crevice behind my eye. Right next to my BRAIN (whimper). He proceeded to beat his drum, not the snare, but the big booming bass.

It vibrated through my noggin’ on the entire right side of my head. Dizzy, nauseous, and miserable. I had a feeling this clown was trying to bring me down. Break my spirit. Make me not happy. HA.

I showed him. Sydney, Jason, and I went to a movie. The Book of Eli. Good show. How do you like them apples clown?

Well, he doubled his efforts. Playing Rock Band like it was the end of the song and he was banging away for the bonus points. That was a mean trick. Then, he piled into his tiny clown car doing wheelies, and honking the horn over and over. Ahhh! That is likely to make a person beg for mercy and leave work early.

I went to the clown exorcist. He worked his mojo magic. Clown scrabbled. He morphed. He mutated and I think his head spun around three times. When the exorcist sent the steroid heads in. He knew he was doomed. Just look at em’.

They are mighty. They mean business flexing their pecs and they are out to annihilate the clown man. Funny they look familiar?

ANYWAYS, they brought their arsenal.

Clowns HATE pink antibiotics missiles that run them down in their clown car. And they really, really don’t like nasal tear gas.

You are smoke buddy.

Say good-bye. No more insane morphing mutant clown in my head. I am finally horizontal and ready to face the world again. It was a doozy of a ride and not funny at all. Clowns stink.

If you decide to come back, making it a sequel, be prepared. My roid friends are close at hand. Cue Terminator music. Dun, dun, dun, dun. Dun, dun, dun, dun.

On a personal note- The last few days, I have only read blog posts sporadically from my iPhone while I was waging war with the clown in vertical position. Now that I’m back in the land of the living – sane (ahem). I’ll be by soon. Can’t wait to see what’s been going on in your lives.

Oh and for those who missed it. Insane Morphing Mutant Clown = cold. Doc + medicine = Cold eradicator. Yay! And yes this is very silly, but I am SO HAPPY to be feeling better. 😀