Living Happily Ever After


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Working Mom Lesson #1: Let It Slide

“Sliding headfirst is the safest way to get to the next base, I think, and the fastest. You don’t lose your momentum, and there’s one more important reason I slide headfirst, it gets my picture in the paper.” (Pete Rose)

I’m talking about a different kind of slide: letting things go. (But don’t count on getting your picture in the paper for this!)

There are only so many hours in a day and I think all mothers, especially those that work full-time outside the home, could stay busy 24 hours a day if they had the energy or the ability to stay awake and work on their “to do” lists for that long! But not only would it be unhealthy, it would be impossible to do for very long. So let things go.

Let yourself let some things go…and don’t sweat it.

I’ve realized my children aren’t going to be scarred forever if there’s dust on the piano today, or this year (if we’re being honest.) And that our true friends will still like us (and won’t even comment, actually) if they walk by the open door of the laundry room and it’s piled up. Some things truly can wait for the weekend, or for an extra week (or more!) until you can get to them.

The only thing that can’t and doesn’t wait is…time. Put people ahead of tasks to be accomplished or work to be done and if you do that, you’ll have no regrets— and that’s the best way to live life, in my opinion: with no regrets.

Chat with your children and let other things go, if that’s how limited your time is. (That’s why sometimes I go a week, or a month, between blog posts! There’s just not enough time to do everything all of the time.) Finish up the rest of the dinner dishes in the morning if you have to. (I confess, I’m guilty of this on occasion. I just keep telling myself my children and my future children-in-law will be the better for my imperfections! I’ll never be the intimidating, “perfect” mother or mother-in-law; my children and in-laws won’t be able to do anything but look at me and feel better about themselves! Lol.)

As a new mother, some of the best advice I got came from a friend my own age, in my own situation and I believe it applies to mothers, especially working mothers as well. I’ve always tried to live by it. Even now, especially in the unexpected life. She said, “Make your list of things to do each day and give yourself credit, count the whole day as a success, if you accomplish just ONE thing on it!” As a working mother, words to live by, for sure!

Take your child to the park? Check. Your day was a success!

Make the bed, drive carpool, drop off at daycare, remember lunch money for children, commute, work for 8 hours, straighten a mess, cook dinner, do the dishes, fold a load of laundry, read to a child, pet the dog, go for a short walk or sit on the porch and watch your kids play, read for five minutes? Check. A SUPER SUCCESSFUL DAY! (Don’t let yourself even THINK about everything else that didn’t get done.)

And some days, if you just get out of bed and carry on? Check. That day’s a success too!

Be liberal with the credit you give yourself and your recognition of your day’s “accomplishments.” It’s actually simple to be successful, especially in my new world.

“If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.” (Will Rogers)

Proma Drama II

“Adolescence isn’t just about prom or wearing sparkly dresses.” (Jena Malone)

Yes, for my teenage daughter it’s about a lot of things—including working two part-time jobs, one of them at Cold Stone.

She came home last night to report the experience of describing her dress to her date so he could coordinate his attire. She told him it was black and champagne. But the boy couldn’t grasp the concept of that particular color description—champagne. My daughter said she tried a few other descriptive words and finally hit on the idea to put it in terms he could understand. (They both work at Cold Stone.)

“It’s the color of coffee ice cream!”

Light dawned in his eyes; he got it.

I guess you could say my daughter is heading to prom in a dress the color of hot fudge and coffee ice cream. And apparently, her date will be dressed to match. But here’s what’s really important, according to someone who ought to know: ”Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.” (Yves Saint Laurent)



“I don’t mind a little bit of anonymity; it helps on the subway.” (Hugh Jackman)

You know things are settling down in your unexpected life when you become anonymous again, at least in some circles. It happened to me last week.

In August 2011 a researcher for a television show contacted me via Facebook about appearing on her show. She could not have been nicer, more enthusiastic and wrote a great pitch. Unfortunately, I never got her message. And I found all of this out this week, when I finally saw her message. Eight months later.

“That’s so strange I never got this,” I thought. “Oh well, too late.” And although I was sure the email address probably wast even valid anymore, I decided to at least respond, let her know I never received her message, and apologize—I was sure she had moved on to other things. I knew I wouldn’t hear back, but at least I’d (finally) been responsive to the communication. I didn’t think I’d hear back, that is, until I did.

Not only was the address still valid, she was still interested in speaking with me after all of those months had passed! I hadn’t seen her show, so she sent me a link to check out. I took a moment to review it during a break at work when I heard a voice behind me say, “I didn’t know you watch that show! I LOVE that show! It’s my favorite show, I never miss it!” And I turned around to see one of my co-workers standing there.

I confessed to her I actually didn’t watch the show, I was just reviewing it to see what it was all about as part of my due diligence. She looked at me with a  very puzzled expression on her face. “I don’t understand why that show would want YOU on it—it’s a show about people who’ve been affected by crime, people who find out their spouse has been leading a double life and situations like that!”

What do you do when you’ve become virtually anonymous again? Here’s what I did: I smiled, nodded my agreement…and let it be. It’s three years into my unexpected life and I’m “unfamous” again. Pretty normal for me.

“The fact that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife.” (Barack Obama)


“…I’ve only had tragic haircuts and outfits.” (Kylie Minogue)

My daughter is mature, wise beyond her years, hard working, sensible, organized and many other things—none of them the typical light-minded, giggly, gaga-for-boys stereotypical of many teenage girls. Until prom season approached. She still wasn’t any of the above, but the drama factor of her life suddenly increased.

Suddenly, the boys began asking girls to prom and the girls began discussing who was going with whom, who hadn’t been asked yet and who was hoping they’d be asked to the dance. And then one day a tragedy occurred. My daughter reported it, “Oh, Mom! Today was so tragic!”

Apparently one boy had asked my daughter to prom just as another boy was going to ask her to prom and the girl who wanted to go to prom with the first boy was devastated. She walked around school, crying during all of her classes all day, because the boy she’d wanted to go to prom with had asked my daughter instead.  And not only did she walk around crying all day, she told everybody why!

Low drama moms like me might occasionally be inclined to roll their eyes at said drama. But not me. Not this time. I actually quite enjoyed it. Because I was remembering a time in my daughter’s life, just a few short years ago when she lived through unimaginable events at 13-14 years old including the loss of her entire life, family as she knew it and most material privileges (including a stay at home mom) that had always been a part of it all…and she used to roll her eyes at teenage girls that got worked up over boys, fashion, friends, other teenage girl topics of interest and all of the drama that went along with them because she knew there were much bigger challenges in life than showing up to school in the same shirt as someone else.

The fact that she experienced a “typical” teenage drama and considered it “tragic” was a sign, to me, of the healing that has taken place in her life. From the beginning, she has advocated forgiveness and “letting go” and I was grateful to be reminded, yet again, that she is living as she believes.

“The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of the world….The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” (Marianne Williamson)

Stressed Out

In the midst of all the adventures—moves, work and everything else life brings—we had a very special one. My oldest son began the process of belong called to serve as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was something I’d anticipated his entire life. You see, the majority of young men in the L.D.S. faith serve missions from the age of 19-21 years old. (You’ve probably seen them—clean cut young men, wearing white shirts and black name tags, walking or riding their bikes to meet with investigators, volunteering in the community and talking to people about faith, Jesus Christ and the gospel He taught.) When young men are of that age (or shortly before they turn 19) they submit their paperwork to serve a mission and then are called to serve where they are needed.

They don’t get to choose where they serve. Missionaries leave behind family, friends, work, sports, schooling and any other interests and dedicate their lives to their missionary service for two years. You don’t get to see them other than in the pictures they might send home. (They send letters and emails, they can call home twice each year, but other than that, they are focused on their mission and you don’t see them in person until they return home when their mission is completed.) And they pay all expenses associated with their missionary service.

I’d always hoped this son would choose to serve a mission. I’d planned he would serve a mission. I’d raised him to serve a mission. (I’m anticipating it for all of my sons.) But somehow, all too soon, the time is almost here.

He filled out his paperwork, met with the appropriate church leaders, and his papers were submitted to Salt Lake City for assignment. All that was left to do was wait for his mission call to arrive in the mail. (I think our official wait was actually less than 2 weeks by the time everything was submitted. But somehow it seemed longer than that. A lot was unknown, so it made the time seem to pass slowly.) In the meantime, I had no idea how stressed out I would become!

Lets just say this motherhood thing is a whole LOT more than I anticipated when I first became a mother. Those days, I remember sitting on the couch much of the day, holding and enjoying my newborn baby boy all day long, sometimes watching a video while he slept in my arms (I never wanted to put him down I was so thrilled to be a mom!) thinking, “I don’t know what all these mothers have been thinking and saying, insisting motherhood is such hard work! I don’t know what they think they are talking about!” I seriously thought they had to have exaggerated a little bit! (Ah…youth. And inexperience, huh?)



Waiting for that envelope to arrive.

And I, who rarely remembers that mail is delivered daily much less to pick up said mail from my mailbox, suddenly started checking the mail every day.

“I believe in opening mail once a month, whether it needs it or not.” (Bob Considine)


A Gentleman

“And though it is much to be a nobleman, it is more to be a gentleman.” (Anthony Trollope)

Before returning home from my Las Vegas business trip, I accompanied Donny Osmond to an autograph signing at a women’s event. I was heading directly to the airport after the signing to fly home, so I had my coat and suitcase with me when the limo arrived.

The driver approached, took Donny’s bottle of water from him and carried it to the car for him. All Donny had to do was walk to the car and get in. Instead, without a word (and before I could stop him), Donny grabbed my suitcase and coat, carried them to the limo, put them in the trunk and THEN got in!

Not only talented, genuine, down to earth and genuinely nice—a gentleman, too.

House Rules

“If you develop rules, never have more than ten.” (Donald Rumsfeld)

I’ve been asked to share my house rules. By request, here they are.

1. Family first. This means family first, friends second and family takes priority. We love each other and will seek to spend time with each other to make happy memories and strengthen our bonds for the future.

2. Participate in family meals, unless at work, school or church activity, because studies show families that eat regular meals together have more successful children. Please keep all food and drink, except water, confined to the kitchen area.

3. Be respectful of one another, communicate without yelling or profanity, strive to be cheerful, kind and pleasant. No slamming of doors, borrowing without asking, stealing–and please clean up after yourself (leave no trace!) Remove shoes upon entering our home.

4. Honor curfew because “after midnight you’re on the devil’s time.”  (That’s what my parents always told me, and my grandparents taught them.) No sleepovers, instead you may participate in “late nights.”

5. Attend church on Sunday, mid-week church activities, participate in church recognition programs.

6. Music, movies and video games are to be family appropriate. No “R” ratings. No internet use without a “buddy” when parents aren’t home.

7. No alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or their usage in the home or out of the home. Family members will submit to drug testing at the parents’ discretion.

8. Practice the life skills that ensure self-reliance: 1. emotional health (family members will go to counseling at the parents’ discretion); 2. financial health (don’t go into debt, eat at home as much as possible, pay 10% tithing, children save 50% of their earnings for college, parents will provide opportunities to develop talents as financially able, no allowance given–everyone is required to help with tasks around the house as it takes every family member to keep our family functioning and our home running smoothly); 3. physical health (eat at home as much as possible–not only is it cheaper, it’s healthier, go to bed at the appropriate time for your age established by parents, stay active); 4. get an education (your job is to focus on your education and learn all you can and do what you need to do to earn good grades); 5. work (everyone of age to work will have a job).

Clearly, “There are some good rules and there are some lousy rules.” (Harold Pinter)

But that’s life at our house.

And here’s the philosophy behind the rules:

Parenting is no popularity contest. As a parent, it’s my job to do everything I can to help my children be successful living our family rules which in turn will prepare them to be successful adults and enjoy happy and successful lives.

My efforts are based on my belief that basic needs (love, food and shelter) are a child’s right and I’m happy to provide them. But I believe everything else is a privilege and must be earned as children prove themselves through their obedience and performance (i.e.. their obedience to our family rules, academic performance, a good attitude, self-control, good behavior and good choices that show they are trustworthy, successful at enjoying their current level of freedom and privileges and are ready to attempt to be successful at the next level.)

Wrong choices, disobedience and setbacks based on behavior and poor choices result in consequences. I hate letting children experience consequences! As a person, I think it’s miserable to have to refrain from helping my children out of their troubles and as a parent, it’s painful to watch, but because I love them I have to allow them to learn from their mistakes. I think it’s the only way to help them learn to be successful. (And I’d much rather have them “fail” while they’re young, than continue to fail as adults because they didn’t learn what they needed to. I’d much rather have them get an “F” in elementary school for not doing their work, than have them lose a job as an adult because they weren’t doing their work.)

My parenting is somewhat based on love and logic. (My thanks to Jim Fay and Foster Kline, proponents of “Love and Logic.”) There are rules and expectations and there are consequences, consequences that will bring happiness and privileges when children make the right choices and other consequences should they choose disobedience.

My children have some input as to their consequences. For example, if they don’t clean their room possible consequences (some brainstormed/chosen by me, some chosen by them) include: temporarily losing their bedroom door until the room is tidy again, me coming in with a trash bag and collecting all of the mess into the sack and then they have to earn things back item by item by doing small extra jobs for me, me helping them clean their room and in return working extra time for me for the same amount of time I spent helping them do their job, or being “grounded” to their room until the work is done. I try to have the consequence connect to the choice. The key is to provide consequences both of us can live with and to providing more than one option/consequence so they have a choice. I also always try to have one of the consequences be a ridiculous option that makes them laugh, if I can.

And because I think there is far too little of people taking credit for their choices in life (it seems like everyone always wants to blame someone else), I’ve always made it a priority to teach personal responsibility as well. I want my kids to own their mistakes and not seek to blame others for their misfortune. When my oldest was little and experienced a time out he began to accuse, “YOU are doing this to me! YOU are making me have a time out!” so I quickly learned to teach him the role he played in it. I’ve even been known to ask them, “Who brought this upon you? Who actually is doing this to you?” just so they realize it was their choice that landed them their consequence.

And the whole “it’s not fair” thing doesn’t fly at our house, and never has. When my older children were little and shared that with me, I was quick to agree: “You’re so right! Life isn’t fair! We already know that, don’t we? If life were fair, I’d have a dad!” (I’m such a terrible mother to dash that childhood dream that life is fair. Sadly, that’s one thing my children have known at an early age although I had to laugh one day when a young child in my home uttered that and another young child, not much older, agreed, “Yes, life isn’t fair! If it were, mom would still have her dad.” I guess I taught that one a little too well, huh?)

But the great thing about all this? It’s all up to my children! I show them the way and help establish expectations and consequences with them, but they get to choose the type of life they live; they get to choose to be successful or not— and they quickly see that it’s much more pleasant to buckle down, get their work done, meet their responsibilities and enjoy freedom and privileges instead of choosing painful consequences and loss of privileges that result in childhood misery and woe! (I know, I know, my children aren’t going to have any stories of having to walk to school through two miles of snow but they WILL have stories about having me as their mother, I’m sure! And if those don’t suffice in showing they were sufficiently traumatized by the misfortune of their life in the parenting department, they can always play the losing-everything-to-a-Ponzi-scheme card! Lol. Just kidding. Hopefully they will always seek to be forward looking and choose to see how they’ve been blessed by the hard stuff to become even better than they would otherwise have been rather than dwell on any misery that came their way.)

But there you have it: what I do and why I do it. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to live at my house?

Oh. I should add that I try to do all of the above with humor, lots of laughter and hugs and love, without yelling (I am NOT a fan of losing control to the point of yelling or getting physical in a negative way) as well as dancing with my children whenever possible!

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.” (Angela Monet)

The Honest Answer I Didn’t Expect

“I don’t believe in dressing up reality. I don’t believe in using makeup to make things look smoother.” (Lou Reed)

My husband called me back less than 20 minutes later and the issue was resolved.

My husband and his daughter arrived in Utah the following evening and we moved her in to our home. When the settling in was complete, we sat down with her and went over the house and family rules, what we expected from her and what she could expect from us. (I printed them out and gave her a copy so there could be no misunderstanding.)

One week later, one night when she came to say goodnight before going to bed, I took the opportunity to ask her in more detail how things were going and how she was feeling about her new life.

“Ok, you’ve been here a week,” I said. “Tell me, how are you doing? How are things going? How are you feeling?”

I don’t know what I expected to hear, or what I expected her to say, but I wasn’t expecting to be so entertained by her reply: “I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought it would be!” she answered.

I kept a straight face and waited until she left the room…to laugh! I’ll never forget that (honest) answer.

And really, isn’t that pretty much life?   It rarely ends up as bad as we think it’ll be. And if it’s really that bad or worse, it doesn’t stay that way forever—I learned that myself from personal experience. Eventually, with enough faith, work and endurance, you’re on to a different happily ever after—if that’s what you choose.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” (Denis Waitley)

Game Report

“Failure is simply the non-presence of success. But a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions.” (Orlando Bloom)

The second soccer game was…a bit of a fiasco.

I dashed from work directly to the playing field, got caught in horrendous traffic, and made it there just in time for the start of the game. Not a moment to spare—or to change out of my work clothes. So once again, I coached in a skirt. But this time, in high heels as well!

I’m not sure why, maybe I didn’t look serious enough about soccer or sporty enough in my skirt and heels, but I experienced some coaching difficulties. I had dads on the sidelines sending boys into the game on their own; I had little boys arguing with me when I tried to rotate them out to give every boy a chance to play; and then one of my players got ejected from the game for getting a little too rough, hitting and wrestling the other players!

At the end of the quarter when the ejected boy was allowed to play in the game again, my son ran and welcomed him back with a quick wrestle—so the boy told the referee on MY SON! (Thankfully, the referee continued the game and I gave my son a quick reminder about not wrestling during soccer games, explaining AGAIN that we don’t wrestle during soccer games or we don’t get to play, as the playing continued on around us.)

The other coach/referee interacted with me so much during the game one woman on the sidelines approached and asked, “It that man your husband?”

As I walked to the sideline after that one, all I could do was shake my head and ask myself with a laugh, “HOW did THIS become MY life?”

I remembered, again, how far I’ve come in an unexpected life: divorced, traumatized financial disaster to remarried, at peace, first-time soccer coach in just two years! I recall shaking my head but not laughing, asking myself that very question in 2009 and having a very different answer. Proof again, and I can’t say it enough, that it IS possible to rise from the ashes of whatever misery you’re handed, to create a new life of happiness, to laugh and to eventually “win” again.

Yes it’s possible.

My son even scored four goals.

“We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” (Dale Carnegie)


“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” (George Bernard Shaw)

I’ve been remarried five months now. And as a parent and stepparent, how grateful I am for progress and change!

Progress since the wedding day one child cried through the love song the bridegroom sang to the bride; progress since another child told the bride their life had ended, their world was ruined, because of one wedding—mine.

We newlyweds returned from our honeymoon and went to work trying to effect some change, our sights set on progress, as parents blending families.

For example, I hug my kids each day as they depart for school. I added all children in the household (despite their initial lack of enthusiasm) to this daily tradition. And for the most part, it has worked. Only one day did one child treat me rudely, flat out refuse contact with me and departed for school with an air of hostility. (But in his and my defense, I wasn’t the only person he treated rudely, so I didn’t take it personally. I gave him some space that day. In fact, I believe that is key to parenting AND stepparenting: don’t take things personally, refuse to get offended; give the child some space “that” day, and try again tomorrow!)

Cut to present. Said child left town for two weeks to visit out-of-state family members. Prior to his return, I sent him an email, told him I had missed him and that I had a huge hug waiting for him when he came home. He arrived home, I said his name, he smiled at me, walked from behind his suitcase and toward me, opened his arms and…hugged me!

Soon after, that same child spent time with other family members. I didn’t see him for a few days but the next time I saw him I said, “Hey! You haven’t seen me for a few days, do you have something for me?” Give him credit for being a quick learner. (Either that, or he has given in (aka. given up! haha!) to my traditions; he smiled and hugged me.)

So…hope. Always hope. Hope for change. And see how you can effect it. Even in one tiny little thing.

Work for change. Remember that it’s possible to change any thing, any situation, with effort, work and time. (Very handy to remember in the unexpected life when certain situations, like 2009, or a new life, or a new job, or a health challenge, or a financial adversity, or taking on a new family would be overwhelming if you thought they were permanent!)

Look for progress. Seek to be positive and look for the good. Recognize every little baby step forward and be grateful for it—just don’t be surprised by the attendant slide backward despite the progress, either. It happens.

Keep your eye on the distant, long-term goal and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by every single aspect and occurence of the journey required to get there!

Because, “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” (Barack Obama)

Especially in the unexpected life.