Don't Take a Holiday From Tough Conversations With Your Kids

I have a large extended family and so when we get together for the holidays we do it potluck style so one person isn't responsible for all the food. The hostess has to clean her house (if she wants, we don't insist) and make sure we have enough seating. She decides on the menu and sends out the sign up list to the rest of us and we pick what we want to bring. It really helps with the stress of having to plan a huge dinner for a lot of people and it gets everyone involved. I don't know when we started doing this, but I vote we never stop.

This year I signed up to bring dessert, but I had no idea what to make. So, I went on my Facebook page and asked for some dessert suggestions. I got the usual suggestions of peppermint brownies and gingerbread cookies, but I noticed that mixed in there I had a lot of people suggesting I skip the dessert and just bring booze. I know that many of my friends were joking, but it got me thinking. This is the time of year when it seems like everyone talks slash jokes about needing a drink to get through the season. Moms need the big bottle of wine to wrap presents, dads need a six-pack to hang Christmas lights, and everyone needs something a lot harder to deal with the in-laws. (I get it. I do. I wrote a whole book about the holidays for goodness sake!) 

Many of the people imbibing over the holidays are doing it responsibly. They're watching their alcohol intake, eating first, and always getting a ride home from a sober driver. But we've all got that one relative who can't seem to get his or her shit together. That one relative who is a boozehound and makes an ass of themselves at every family event. The drunk uncle who wants to talk politics with everyone on the opposite side of the aisle or the drunk aunt who can't stop weeping into her drink. Family get-togethers are tough enough without that kind of nonsense to deal with! And now that my kids are 11 and 13 that sort of behavior doesn't go unnoticed. At. All. And because I'm that parent, I get alllllll the questions. (Seriously, why don't they ever ask the Hubs the hard questions???) “Hey Mom, why was Uncle Bill yelling at everyone to shut up? Hey Mom, why was Aunt Frieda fighting with Aunt Karen over money she borrowed in 1987?”

Instead of ignoring or deflecting their questions, I use the opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with my kids about responsible drinking and making good choices. We talk about why Uncle Bill and Aunt Frieda feel the need to drink so much and why they tend to drink more when they get into stressful situations. We talk about positive and healthy ways to deal with the stress that the holiday season brings. Now that I'm on my third holiday season partnering with, I am armed with all kinds of useful info. As a blogger for their Ask, Listen, Learn program, I feel confident that I can guide my kids through these tough conversations. Here are just a few of the tips I use during the holiday season to help keep my stress levels low and my drinking at a responsible limit:

  1. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Yes, I'm the mom, but it shouldn't all fall to me. The Hubs can wrap gifts or bake a pie. Sure, it won't be pretty, but he'll get the job done.
  2. Limit your time with stressful family members. If you know that your spouse's Cousin Hilda pushes your buttons, come up with a safe word so your spouse knows it's time to go. Might I suggest: “Tinsel Tits.” As in, “Hey, Tinsel Tits, this has been great, but we have that other thing we need to get to...So...Yeah...I'll be in the car.”
  3. Stay in your lane. Don't worry about what the neighbors are doing. Worry about you and your family. If you don't want to put up a big light display, you don't have to. If you do want to put up a big light display, then you do you. You know your comfort level. Stick to it.
  4. And in the immortal words of Elsa, “Let it gooooooo.” Seriously. Every day does not need to be magical and memorable and special and glitter-covered. Just spend time with the ones you love and the ones you want to be with.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

This post was sponsored by I am an Ask Listen Learn blogger. They pay me to write, but I say what I want. Check out their site for more helpful tips for talking to kids about responsible drinking.

Photo by on Unsplash

Making Memories the Punch Way

So, in the past I've been accused of not being a very good mother.  I've been told that just because I refuse to make my silly little Elf make snow angels in flour on my kitchen counter or drape my Christmas tree with socks I'm a shitty mom.  Well, I'd like you all to know that tonight I made memories with my kids, dammit.  We created a new Christmas holiday tradition for this family.  I'm not sure it will stick around like our tradition to shop for the Todds of the world, but for tonight it was perfect.

Let me set the scene for you.  It was already dark out.  We'd just returned from a dinner out and a quick tour of our favorite Christmas lights.  The kids were in their jammies and we were all cuddled together in the soft glow of our fancy Christmas tree that the Hubs had slaved over for a day to light when Gomer said, "I learned a new song today at school.  Would you like to hear it?"

PIWTPITT's Official Elf on the Shelf Calendar

It's Elf on the Shelf time and so you know what that means, don't you? It's time to plan all of your Elfin' antics and this year our helpful overachieving friends have some up with a bunch of handy dandy calendars to help us less achieving souls get in on the fun too.

I've looked at several of these calendars and see a lot of the same things come up over and over. Ideas like: 

- Make a garland out of the kids' underwear.
- Decorate tree with socks and underwear.
- "Wrap" kids' bedroom doors with paper while they sleep.
- Elf writes the lyrics to "Jingle Bells" on toilet paper.

The Perfect Arrival Letter for Your Elf on the Shelf

December is here and the official Elf on the Shelf season has begun. First, you needed 101 ideas of what to do with your doll, then you needed a special calendar to keep your antics straight, and now I'm hearing about Arrival Letters.

It's not enough to dig your Elf out of the couch cushions where you shoved him last year. Now he needs to arrive.

I Have No Words For These Leggings

I loooove me some leggings. I jumped on the leggings bandwagon a few years ago and I've never gotten off. Wearing leggings is the closest I can get to wearing pajamas in public but still being respectable. I usually wear black leggings with an occasional gray or brown pair thrown in for pizzazz. Last year, a company in Canada called SweetLegs sent me my first pairs of funky leggings. I didn't think I could do funky leggings, but I wear the heck out of a black and gray pair with a geometric print. I love them. My newfound confidence has made me realize that there's a whole new world of patterned leggings out there that I've been missing. My eyes are open now and I'm looking everywhere for new funky leggings now.

Today these leggings came across my feed from RageOn. I noticed them right away, because: 1. They were kind of funky (they were patterned, but not too wild). 2. They were the right color (a mix of black, white, and gray). 3. They're obviously "in" right now since they're in my Facebook feed and I'm all about being "in" (hahahahaha). 4. And they were on sale (I hate to pay full price for anything).

I clicked the link and ....


Oh my God! My eyes! I haven't been seeing well these past few months, but I saw THAT!!! I saw it all. I saw that these leggings were way TOOOOO wild for me.

Are you ready to see them? OK, get out your smelling salts first.


What can I even say about these leggings? Would you wear these leggings? I could actually probably still wear these, because I never let my crotch show when I wear leggings. I'd look like I have great marble legs and no one would be the wiser that I'm sporting a ding dong under my tunic. Also, if I'm going to wear leggings with a schlong, I want it to be bigger than David's. Give me some meat to flaunt!

Get my books here! MY LAME LIFE is on sale today for 99 cents!

Photo: RageOn

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Well, it's that time of year again. If you're anything like me, you shop all year long for Christmas so that way you don't blow the bank every December. But if you're also like me, you'll lose the presents you've already bought, so that means it's time to start scrambling around the house and checking all your hiding places. While you're at it, you might as well look for that damn Elf too. It's time to dust him off and put him on the shelf.

This year I didn't buy much in advance since my kids are getting older and their wants change faster than I can keep up. Also, the number one thing they ask for now is: CASH. Cash isn't fun to wrap! I know, I don't usually enjoy wrapping presents, but this year I found some sweary wrapping paper that made me wish I had something to wrap. I also found some fun prank boxes that will be fun to put under the tree this year. I can't wait to see the look on Gomer's face when he gets an Ear Wax Candle Kit.

My mother would NEVER use the sweary wrapping paper or a gag box of money, so I told the kids that if they wanted anything from Grandma and Grandpa they'd better make a wishlist. This is what they came up with:

Gomer wants:

Magnetic balls - Gomer is a fidgeter. He's got all the spinners and clickers in the world, but he also finds magnets relaxing. He likes to make little sculptures and buildings with his magnet sets. He has several sets, but he always wants more.

Tripod for phone - Gomer is now officially a teenager with social media and all that jazz. He enjoys making videos and taking selfies and whatnot, so a tripod would come in very handy.

Xbox One X - "Don't we already have this?" was my question when I saw this on the list. Nope. Apparently this is the NEW one and now all our games are obsolete and we'll be the laughing stock of the world if we don't get this one or something to that effect. Even the Hubs was like, "Yeah, we probably need that." I can't say much since Adolpha and I probably spend this much on books and pens.

G-Shock watch - I added this to the list, because even though Gomer carries a phone everywhere he goes he still never seems to know the time and is always late. Plus he goes to camp in the summer where he can't have a phone and I think a watch would be helpful. It's weird that people don't wear watches anymore, right?

Gaming rocking chair - Supposedly this will make him a better gamer.

PopSocket - This makes taking selfies easier or something?

Longboard skateboard - I think a skateboard has been on Gomer's wishlist since he was 8. The boy loves skateboarding. He has a bunch, but he doesn't have a LONGBOARD. "There's a difference, Mom." I really don't care, I just know it gets him out of that gaming rocker, so I'm happy.

Adolpha wants:

PILOT Frixion Erasable Pens - Because she can never have too many pens. Also, they're erasable!! What???

Cat zip pouch - She needs a cute pouch to hold all her ah-may-zing pens.

Happy Planner - Adolpha is organized. I can't believe she's my kid. She loves this brand in particular. She enjoys putting everything in her planner and this one has cute stickers and tabs that makes it really fun. You can buy refills for it too.

Taco holder - Adolpha wishes every day was Taco Tuesday. The problem is tacos are messy, Adolpha is not.

Fairy lights - A girl can not have too many fairy lights. She strings these everywhere! I must admit, if fairy lights existed when I was a girl, I would have been equally obsessed. They're really fun. I even want some for my office now.

Sims 4 - Gomer's games involve a lot of shooting, but Adolpha's all about the world building and nurturing. She plays a game where she has a job and every night she's like, "Well, I gotta go to my job at the pizza parlor. See you later." What the heck??!! She's super excited for this game. It really should be at the top of her list.

Fuji Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera - I think this is the second year on the list for this one. I'm all about the digital, because I can remember the days of paying for crappy photos. Remember how we had to pay for the film and then to develop the film and half the pictures were blurry or someone's eyes were shut or whatever? Well, Adolpha longs for those days.

Pusheen - Pretty much any Pusheen will do, but the Rainbow Caticorn is the one she NEEEEEEEEDS.

The Hubs wants:

Bike Rack - This thing is amazeballs. I bought one over the summer because every time I went in the garage I got mad when I saw hundreds of dollars worth of bikes laying on the ground out there. My car was getting messed up from bikes falling over and hitting it, etc. So I bought this thing. It's fantastic. We really need another one now for scooters and skateboards, so I'm going to get the Hubs one because if moms have to get blenders and shit for Christmas, dads have to get garage junk.

Wheelie Crate - I think this is really for tools, but I use it for books and groceries and anything else heavy that I don't want to carry. It folds flat and it can hold 70 pounds of stuff. I keep it in the trunk of my car. The Hubs keeps borrowing it and he never returns it, so I'm getting him his own for his car.

Stabilizing Selfie Stick - The Hubs likes to take family selfies when we travel, so I bought him a selfie stick a few years ago. Now he needs this fancy one, because it has some sort gyro-thingy that stabilizes the stick and it's like having a steady cam. As long as it makes me look 10 years younger and 15 pounds lighter, I'm in.

Miracle Balls - Last year a reader recommended these little balls to me to help alleviate back pain. I had tried all sorts of things and so I was a bit skeptical, but they were cheap and I decided to take a chance. OHEMGEEE!! These balls are magic. I don't like sharing, though, so the Hubs is getting his own set.

Chromecast - We need a new one and since the Hubs is the gadget guy, this goes on his list.

Tech organizer - I've been traveling a lot this year for my book tour and I've found all sorts of fun travel products to help keep me organized. I have a Grid-It I like a lot, but I also love this little case. The Hubs carries his cords and plugs and earbuds and stuff in a Ziploc bag. The dude needs an upgrade.

Amazon Echo - This surprised me when he put it on the list. Normally he thinks this kind of stuff is silly. But it seems like he's coming around. I think it's because he wants The Nest and The Nest can be controlled with the Echo.

The Nest - This device is perfect for the Hubs. He will be master of the thermostat AND it's a gadget.

What I want:

Trunk organizer - I'm trying to be a better organized person, but I feel like my mobile command center is always a mess. I don't like it when my bananas get squished by a watermelon on the way home from the grocery store. I don't like it when baseballs and basketballs are rattling around in my trunk. I bought a couple of these organizers for the backseat and they've been amazing at controlling the clutter, so I'm hoping the trunk one would do the same.

Snarky pillow - If you follow me on Facebook, then you know I'm a big fan of the no pants movement, so I'd love to have this pillow on my couch.

Under the seat rollerbag - As I mentioned I've been traveling a lot and 2018 is looking to be another big year for me. I'm hauling hundreds of books everywhere I'm going and I've messed up my arm and shoulder from manhandling giant bags through the airport. I'd love to have a compact roller bag that can haul a lot and fit under my seat. This one seems perfect.

Cricut - My craft room has been neglected over the last few years, and I'm anxious to get back in there. I have an older generation Cricut that I like a lot, but this one seems magical and awesome and I feel like I could do some ah-may-zing DIY with this bad boy. It's sort of like how the boys feel about the new Xbox. I get it now.

Kindle Oasis - OK, I'm a HUUUUUUGE fan of the Kindle Paperwhite and normally I'm like, "Get the Paperwhite, it's the best" but this one is WATERPROOF. Do you know what that means? I can get in a bubble bath and have no fear of wrecking my Kindle. I can float in the pool and still read. This is a game changer, people. Yes, yes, it's pricey, that's why I'm going to ask Santa for this one.

Throat Punch vinyl decal - I didn't make this, but I want it BAAAAD. I want to put it on my (newly organized) swagger wagon and drive around town making everyone nervous.

Cards Against Humanity - I think I'm the only person in the world who doesn't own this game. I want it, but I also want it to come with a fun group of people to play with.

Electric tea kettle - I love me some tea. I drink it all day every day (when I'm not drinking Trader Joe's Chai). I normally use my Keurig, but I feel like it doesn't get hot enough. I'd like to go back to a tea kettle and growing up we always had an electric one. It's sort of what I know and I want to go back to that.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial  In addition to all of this, I want to get another year of Prime. Last year I finally pulled the trigger and subscribed to Prime. I'm not sure what took me so long. Part of it was the monthly fee. I felt like I wasn't sure I'd get my money's worth. I was wrong. Just in shipping alone, we save that much every month. Plus we watch movies and TV on Prime and I read books and magazines that are exclusive to Prime members. I think it's one of those things that you don't think you'll use it, but then once you have it, you're like, "How did I do anything before this?" I tried the free 30-day trial and then I was hooked after that and now you'll have to pry my one-click button from my cold, dead hand.

I can't make a gift guide without some books! Here are a few I read and recommend:

Perfect for vacation:

My Not So Perfect Life
The City of Mirrors
The Girl With All the Gifts
Rich People Problems

I love me some historical fiction:

The Last Tudor
America's First Daughter
A Column of Fire
The Nightingale

Nonfiction is my jam:

Radical Candor
Radium Girls
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
Killers of the Flower Moon

These kept me up past my bedtime:

The Breakdown
The Dry
Dark Matter
Artemis (Haven't read it yet, but really looking forward to it.)

Adults can read YA too:

The Hate U Give
The Gatekeepers
Three Dark Crowns
King's Cage

When I'm not reading, I'm writing:

And, of course, ANY of my books make great gifts too!! Get them all here. BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL: MY LAME LIFE IS ONLY 99 CENTS ON KINDLE.

Well, that's it for 2017! What's on your wishlist this year?

FYI, many of the links are affiliate links and I'll make some pennies if you buy from them. I have to pay for my book habit somehow.

I am the World's Okayest Mom

 World's Okayest Mom
World's Okayest Mom
We are coming into the dreaded holiday season where people mainlining pumpkin spice and holiday cheer start upping the ante and I can already feel my heart rate rising and the hairs on the back of my neck bristling. My Facebook feed is flooded with mostly humble braggy "thankful" posts from people who normally complain about everything - even the weather - on an hourly basis, mixed in with hundreds of (supposedly) unbelievably easy and adorable crafts to make between now and Christmas.

Luckily, I am able to skip right by those posts and tune out the moms at the playdates who are already worrying about how quickly their newest Easy Peasy Life Scheduling Apps ("I just downloaded it this month, and it is a life changer. I can make lists of lists I need to make!") are filling up with holiday parties, photo shoots, shopping lists, visits with the in-laws, gift exchanges, private visits to Santa, and more wedged in between the usual soccer practice, art lessons, chess club, and Kumon. Since I don't give a crap about most of that stuff, I just smile and say, "I'm so thankful that my kids want cash for Christmas this year, no one has invited me to their cookie exchange in a year now, and I just paid forty bucks for school pictures, surely no one expects me to take more pictures, right?"

No, I'm the Other Jen

A couple of weeks ago I saw Jenny Lawson post on her Facebook page that she's always surprised by how many people recommend her own book to her. Wait a minute. They do???

Actually, I'm not surprised.

You see, I possess one of THE MOST popular names of the 70s and 80s. That means millions, no BILLIONS probably, of little girls were bestowed with the name JENNIFER. If it wasn't Jennifer, then it was some kind of variation: Jenny, Jen, Jenifer, Jennafer, Jenapher, and my favorite, Jenni with an adorable "i" (dotted with a heart, of course).

My whole childhood I was referred to as "Jennimann." All one word, because I was one of many, many, many other Jen-types and none of us were allowed to be called by our first names only. When I went to college, I decided Jennimann was too babyish and I needed a more grown up name that would stand out. So I became Jenmann. Muuuuuuch better.

Is Nuts Better Than Balls?

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I wasn't enjoying third grade? All because Gomer won't kiss me good bye and he only wants to wear swishy shorts, which are really the boys' equivalent of yoga pants.

Well, in case my heart wasn't already broken in two, he finished me off on Friday. My baby is no longer a baby.

We were driving in the car and we have some of our best conversations in the car and Friday's was no different. Gomer was prattling on about something he did on the playground and I was concentrating on my Candy Crush game (Relax! Hubs was driving!) so there was a lot of me going "Uh huh. Uh huh. Oh. Wow." And that's when Gomer said, "So then I got kicked in the nuts."

Parents Who Steal & Are Disgusting

Yesterday I received an email from a friend telling me that her 6 year son had his scooter stolen while they were at a local park.  She was really upset because the park had been very busy and she'd taken her eyes off the scooter for just a few minutes and it was gone.

She started thinking about a culprit and she really couldn't come up with a "usual suspect".  There weren't any middle or high schoolers there on their own who might have stolen the scooter to show off or just be dicks.  It was all young kids who were supervised by (seemingly mature, law abiding) adults.  Ha!  Little did she know there was a thief with her at the park.

That Gainesville Cop? Yeah, He's a D-Bag

Remember last week when every woman on the internet lost her ever-loving mind and jizzed her pants over the "hot" Gainesville cops?

Source: Gainesville Police Department/Facebook

Yeah, I've got bad news. That fucker in the middle is a racist pig. Ugh. Screenshots were taken from Michael Hamill's Facebook account. One from 2013 where Hamill writes: “Who knew that reading jewish jokes before I go to bed would not only make me feel better about myself but also help me to sleep better as well. Here is one for everybody, ‘What’s the difference between boy scouts and jews?’ Anybody know? Well it is because ‘Boy scouts come back from their camps.'”

And this gem was from 2011: “so I find it funny that people will talk about how our government needs to do something about our economy and in reality it’s YOU who needs to stop taking advantage of our system and get a life and do something with your life. Gotta love reality when it hits you in the face. Stupid people annoy me. Put them in an oven and deal with them the Hitler way. Haha.”

You guys, I'm not even shocked anymore when this kind of shit comes to light. This is like the new normal now. What the fuck is going on? I'm just sick to my stomach. I'm furious. I'm sad. I'm hopeless. And then I'm back to furious again. I just don't know what to do or say anymore. I feel like I scream and yell and sign petitions and demand actions and change and nothing happens. But I'm not going to stop being outraged. I can't. 

I do know two things though:

1. I'm glad I didn't lose my shit and get my panties in a sweaty bunch over this fucker.

2. This sack of shit needs to be fired. Today. He has NO business being in a position of power. He has NO business protecting and serving his community. He's a disgrace and should be dealt with immediately.

The Gainesville Police Department needs to escort him from the building now and lock the door behind him. And if you're one of the ladies who creamed your shorts over him, you need to find that original post and unlike it and tell him what a piece of garbage he is.

If you want to read more of my writing, check out my books!

You Are the Number One Influence on Your Kid

Since July I've been dealing with some pesky eye stuff. I've been in and out of the eye doctor's office and every couple of hours I am putting drops in my eyes. These drops leave me feeling kind of yucky and my vision gets blurry and I can't see very well. Because of this, I've not been on the computer or my phone as much as I usually am. My work is suffering, but my relationship with my kids is actually improving.

No, this isn't a post about put down your phone you're a bad mom. This is a post about figuring out the best ways to connect with your kids.

Normally my kids are good communicators. In between begging for food and money, they tell me a little bit about their days, but I don't get all the good details that I want. Normally when I realize that my kids haven't shared much with me in a while, I pack them into the car and go for a ride. There's something about driving along a stretch of road that really gets them jabbering. With my eyes dilated to the size of dinner plates, I can't exactly go for a drive these days. So instead, I've been hanging out in my darkened bedroom with a cool towel over my eyes like some sort of Victorian lady with the vapors. It doesn't take long for my kids to find me. There is something magic about sitting together without making eye contact that makes kids open up.

Years ago I learned a sales technique where you stay silent and let the other person talk. People hate silence and naturally want to fill it. In sales, they tend to fill that silence with information that should not have been shared and is helpful to your deal. This technique works wonders on kids, because in addition to spilling the beans, I find that my kids come to their own conclusions based on conversations we've already had. It's like they remember the lessons I've been teaching them for the last 10 years. Hallelujah!

Over the weekend I was resting on my son's bed while he was supposed to be cleaning out his closet. I wanted him to try on his clothes and see what will still fit him this winter. (I can't read my phone, but I can see if his pants are too short.) Out of nowhere he said, “Kids in my grade are drinking.”

I played it super cool. “Seventh graders are drinking?” I said. “Friends of yours?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“How do you know?” I asked. “Could be a rumor.”

“They told me,” he said. “And guess what, Mom? Their parents don't even care.”

“Hmm,”I said.

“What would you do if you caught me drinking?” he asked.

I stayed silent, not even daring to peek at him from beneath my washcloth.

You would care,” he said.

I stayed silent.

“We've talked about this a lot,” he said.

I stayed silent.

“You've given me lots of reasons why I shouldn't drink until I'm old enough,” he said.

I stayed silent.

“It's just that I can't believe they'd do that. I can't believe their parents don't care. Don't they realize how bad that is for kids? They're supposed to be parents!”

I stayed silent.

“Yeah, so, that's happening,” he said. “But don't worry. I'm not going to do that.”

Finally I spoke. “Gomer, this is just the beginning. You're in seventh grade and I can remember when my classmates started experimenting with all kinds of things in seventh grade. Some of them will try and get you to try things too. And you're right, some of the parents don't care. Some parents would offer to buy us beer when I was in high school. But that that doesn't matter. You have to remember who you are and what kind of person you want to be. You have to remember what your goals are for the future and how underage drinking or doing other dangerous things could ruin that future. I don't know what exactly Dad and I would do if we caught you drinking. You shouldn't worry about the punishment. The punishment isn't what keeps you from doing something wrong. It's your own self-respect. Always remember that.”

He went back in his closet and left me alone in his room to over-analyze our conversation. Why did he tell me that stuff? What was I supposed to do with that information? Did he get the message I was sending? My mother once told me that she was surprised how much my kids tell me. She was raised in a house where if you talked about things like underage drinking, then you must be doing it, so she never talked about it with her parents. When she raised me and my brother she tried to do better, but there was still a lot of “we don't talk about that kind of stuff.” I don't want to raise my kids like that. I want to be their main source of information--nothing is off limits. I'm not naive enough to think that they're never going to make poor decisions, but I do hope that they'll always feel comfortable talking to me about anything that's going on in their lives. I hope that they trust me and come to me for advice. All I can do is keep talking to them and listening to them. When they stop talking to me that's when I'll know something is up. 

What about you? How do you get your kids to talk to you?

This post was sponsored by and I am part of the #Asklistenlearn blogger program. All views and opinions are my own. Thanks to for always encouraging me to find ways to talk to my kids about this important topic.

The Craziest Conversation I've Had With My Children in a While

As I've mentioned before, riding in the car seems to be the time when my kids really want to talk and I learn a lot about how their little brains work and what they think.  This is the craziest conversation I've had with my children...recently.

The other night we had a 30 minute drive and Gomer and Adolpha started talking to each other.  I'm not sure how the conversation got started, but by the time I figured out what they were talking about, I realized that somehow I have raised a femi-Nazi and Ward Cleaver.

Gomer:  Adolpha, are you ever going to be a mommy?

Adolpha:  No way.

Gomer:  But why not?  If you were a mommy I could be your kids' uncle.

Are You a Suburban Mom?

You might be a suburban mom if ... 

Your full-time job is unpaid volunteer at your children's school.

You've taken a crossfit, barre, hot yoga, pole dancing, kettlebell, or aqua zumba class.

You've ever adopted a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or paleo diet -- and it had nothing to do with allergies.

The people who work at the checkout at Target know your cycle.

You think yoga pants can be worn anywhere -- including formal events.

You pay hundreds of dollars a week to attend music, art, and gym classes to "socialize" your newborn baby.

You have a chandelier in your laundry room.

You have a home-based sales business where you sell makeup, cooking utensils, pre-packaged food, sex toys, or handbags out of the trunk of your minivan.

If We Treated Teachers Like Professional Athletes

Believe it or not, I really like teachers. Sure, I get a tad frustrated with the school supply shopping list. I've been at this for several years now and I still get confused by the plastic/poly folders with and without pockets and/or prongs. Argh! Honestly, my beef is with Wal-Mart, because they never stock enough YELLOW poly folders WITH pockets AND prongs!!

Sorry, I got off topic there. Back to teachers. I think that they have one of the hardest and thankless jobs (right after motherhood!). Teachers are right up there with saints. Think about it. I don't even want to spend eight hours a day with my kids, and yet this (crazy) person spends the day with not only my kid, but twenty more?? Not to mention the parents a teacher has to put up with. I've been That Parent and I'm fairly mellow. I can only imagine the conversations with the overachievers. And on top of that, he/she does this job for peanuts, personalized wooden apple signs, and sweaty sticky hugs? (Actually, peanuts are expensive, I should say teachers are paid in sunflower seeds, personalized wooden apple signs, and sweaty sticky hugs).

Teachers are some of the most influential people in our kids' lives, but you'd never know that from the way we reward them. Can you imagine if we paid teachers and treated them the same way we treat the athletes America worships?

Key & Peele took this idea and made a brilliant, funny video that is funny and sad all at the same time.

Pro tip: You'll need to watch it twice probably to get all the ticker information running along the bottom and sides and make sure you stick around for the BMW "commercial" at the end

Back to School

School starts Thursday and I am only a little bit excited.  OK, I'm really excited. This will be the first time in almost 8 years that I will have a house to myself all day long.  (The Hubs will be here too, but luckily we each keep to our own "area".)

There is nothing I love more than my alone time.  I absolutely love a quiet house.

I'm talking pretty tough today, because it's only Wednesday.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow.  All week long as we've edged closer to Thursday I've been thinking about Adolpha heading to all day Kindergarten and every now and again I become a blubbering mess.

Life is Hard When You're Six

I don't know about you, but there are so many times in my life I would just love to go back to Kindergarten. I'd love to spend most of my day learning to write my name, coloring pictures of puppies, and singing my heart out in between two recesses, a lunch break, and a rest time. Yesterday when I mentioned my desire to go back to the "easy" life of a six year old, Adolpha let me know that I have a pretty jacked up memory. 

According to Adolpha, life is incredibly hard when you're six. 

She gave me a look that said:

Dog Pedicures

You look like an ass when you walk your bedazzled dog.
Photo: Dog Community
OK, so I already hate the trend right now where everyone paints shit on their nails.  Who needs stupid owls or polka dots?  When did this happen?  What's wrong with pink or a simple French manicure? Why did it have to get so fucking complicated?  Why do we feel the need to bling everything? They're fucking nails.  They help you pick your nose and dig shit out small crevices.  There is no need to make them works of art.

The human nail obsession has been driving me crazy for a while, but today I saw something that pushed me over the edge:  Doggy Pedicures.  Not just a usual toenail clipping or something like that.  Nope.  Dog owners have decided they want their pup's paws to look as ridiculous as their own.  There is not one, but TWO companies, that make nail polish for dogs.  (BTW, I didn't even know a dog needed special nail polish.  If human nail polish isn't good enough for a dog what the fuck are we putting on our nails??)

Jen & Friends' Endless Conversation Loop

A couple days ago I showed you the annoying summer conversations I've been overhearing lately.  I didn't want to you think that my conversations are any better.  They're just not as me.  So here's what it would be like if I ran into 2 of my friends at Target, the pool and/or, the movies:

Me:  I'm trying to keep Gomer and Adolpha out of my hair this summer.  I can't get any work done.  They're always bugging me for food and shit.  Gomer!  Put down the Lego set.  You don't need another one!

Sandy:  I know what you mean!  Every time you come to my house Adolpha is asking for food.  Do you ever feed her?  Just kidding.  No I'm not.

I Am Coming to See You!!

Working with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Cantankerous Clients, Micromanaging Minions, and Other Supercilious Scourges will be released on September 12.

If you've ever toiled away in a cubicle or sat through the third meeting your boss scheduled to plan another meeting, then you can relate to this book. This is the book you'll want to accidentally on purpose leave on the desk of that blowhard in marketing. This is the book you'll just happen to drop next the microwave in the break room hoping that Jan in accounting reads it before she reheats last night's smelly leftovers for lunch. This is the book you'll mail anonymously to your micromanaging boss with certain passages highlighted.

The Punch List:

Company-wide happy hours. I barely want to work with you. I definitely don't want to have a beer with you.

The Ivy Leaguers. You do know every sentence doesn't have to start with, “When I was at Princeton…”?

The martyrs. You get sick days—use one. Stop dragging your sniffling, snorting, coughing, sneezing ass to work and infecting the rest of us. You're not that important.

Advance Praise for Working with People I Want to Punch in the Throat:

Working with People I Want to Punch in the Throat is Office Space meets The Devil Wears Prada.” - Faith Salie, author of Approval Junkie

“I connected with Jen Mann’s book more deeply than I’m comfortable with. It was brilliant and gross and hilarious and heartwarming and then hilarious again. I literally couldn’t put it down. For what it’s worth, the only book before this one that I read in one sitting without a break was Dances with Wolves. Don’t judge me.” - James Breakwell (@XplodingUnicorn), author of Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

The book is coming and I'm hitting the road for a book tour. I want to see you there.

I know, I know. Everyone's busy and life is hectic, but trust me, you're going to regret it if you miss this. We're going to have so much fun. Dare I say a "shitload" of fun? I mean, if I can put on pants and leave the confines of my house to travel around by myself and hope people show up to see me, then surely you can put on pants and drive across the city to join me, right?

Here's the thing, though, I can't go on tour unless I sell enough tickets. I need to buy plane tickets and rent cars and find hotels and bring enough books and I can't do all of that unless enough tickets sell first. So, I need you to buy your ticket today so I can start making my plans. You order tickets through the FB Events links below. Fyllan is one of my sponsors and you can get your ticket through them at a discount (the instructions are on the Event page) or you can order through PayPal link on each page. You get a signed book with each ticket you purchase.

Here is the list that I have so far (I'm adding to it all the time, so check on my Facebook Events page to see if I've added something near you):

September 12: Kansas City

September 20: St. Louis

September 26: Syracuse, NY

October 5: Austin

October 6: Houston

October 10: Chicago

October 11: Ann Arbor, MI (tickets are not required) Books will be available for purchase.

October 14: Lansing, MI (check with the library for ticket information)

October 18: Frederick, MD

October 19: Denver, CO

October 23: Pittsburgh, PA

October 24: Appleton, WI

February 4: Orlando

In the works:

New Jersey
Fairfax, VA

Also, I will be in Louisville, KY on 10/27 meeting with a book club at a private event. If you live in Louisville and can put something together for 10/28, I can be there.

If I'm not coming near you, but you still want a signed book, we can make that happen. Click here to order.

PS - Facebook is really limiting my reach on this one. Would you PLEASE share it and help me spread the word? Thank you!

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