Category Archives: parenting


When the words ‘Why don’t we all go to the park?’ were uttered, the moment was not lost on me. I told Sean to get his socks and shoes and I closed my Bullet Jounal, left a mess and got my things.

Because…what if this is the last time?

When the boys were younger, going to the park was a daily occurrence, practically a holy sacrement for many years. It was a necessity among all the other daily requirements.

But these days, this doesn’t happen. Ever. I am usually pleased when all 4 are just home, under my roof (so rare these days) at the same time.

The little cartoon devil and angel took up residence on my shoulders and whispered their own versions of the events in my ears.

Devil: This is it. One of the ‘lasts’. You might never see this again.
Angel: Sun. Laughter. Running children playing with each other. Soak it in because it’s one of life’s beautiful things.
Devil: Who knows if this will ever happen again.
Angel: Who knows if this will ever happen again.

The moment did not escape me. I grabbed it with both hands and reveled in it. I packed up this memory, carefully, and made sure I noted each and every detail.

Lately, I’ve been hit with the sentiment that goes something like, “Little kids, little problems, big kids….” So, maybe when the problems get too big, we can still solve them at the park.


Our Brand of Homeschooling

Many years ago, I wrote about why we homeschooled, but what keeps us tethered to this very particular lifestyle?

Our family’s style of homeschooling has always been very hands-on, unstructured and casual. From the very beginning, I saw that the boys picked up the most information from ‘doing’ things, rather than reading about them – apple picking, beach trips, family vacations, board games, fairs, festivals, camping trips, museums, and visits to state parks, etc. have always produced much more meaningful knowledge than any textbook. I would rather help my kids develop a practice of ‘how to learn’ than attempt to fill them with facts. They can go on to learn anything they want once they can gather the resources to teach themselves. I want them to know and believe this.

This year, Gavin is a senior in high school. He entered school for the first time as a freshman and I have seen him use school as a tool instead of depending on it as his sole source of education. He continues to educate himself in more ways outside of that structure than he has within it. He has maitained a good balance of experiences that he has wished to have during his high school years  – most of which were not academic in nature. I am glad his education has been self-led. I firmly believe that I would never have made as good of choices for him as he has made for himself.

Mikey went to school as a 7th Grader for a myriad of reasons. He REALLY wanted to go. He needed to experience what was going on in those buildings and see for himself what ‘school’ was like. He was also working with an educational consultant at the time who felt that school could provide many academic supports and services that were not available to homeschoolers. While he enjoyed the structure of the school day and the social aspects and chaos, I can tell you that they did not, at all, provide what was promised and his experience was very flat, narrow and dull. School was limiting for him and it cut into valuable time he could be developing skills that will be more meaningful for him in the future. It became clear to Dennis and I that the opportunity cost of going to school was just too high for Mikey.

This summer, when we began to assess his strengths and challenges, it became clear that what we wanted for him could not and would never be addressed by school. He has several short years before he is an adult and we believe the time is best spent on an education that is extremely practical and as broad and experiential as we can create for him. During his time in school, Mikey came to believe that you are to sit still (which he did NONE of) and a teacher spoon feeds you information that you produce for a ‘test’. I can think of few things as dangerous as that for Michael. Seriously.

Nope. Photo op – Denied.

So, we are here. Back to basics in a very true sense.

Sean continues to attend the same ‘school’ that Gavin did at his age – The Costello Academy for Feral Children. His current focus is an obsessive pursuit of All Things Yo-Yo. Sometimes he watches videos and practices techniques for hours on end. He reads about the physics and how to repair and modify yo-yos. This might seem frivolous if you are not looking through the lense of self-education. Sean is laying a basis for a lifetime of learning. He chooses video series wisely, weighing the quality and camera angles for their ability to clearly show how tricks are mastered. He found reputable websites containing products and articles about the ‘art’ of yo-yo-ing. Although the topic might seem questionable to some, the skill set of teaching yourself ANYTHING is worth allowing him to spend as much time as he needs down this rabbit hole.

The truth is, some of my kids are living without school, but don’t confuse that with living without ‘An Education’.

See the source image

Have you ever watched anything by Sir Ken Robinson? Watch one. Then watch them all.

Driving & Life Lessons

I hand Gavin the keys to the car every chance I get. Yesterday was a long and winding, hour-long drive including highways, tricky corners and traffic circles. I’ve taken him out to drive in the dark and in the rain.

I thought I would be a super-cool mom that LOVED driving with my teen. It turns out that’s not the case. It makes me nervous, but his ability to be an experienced, competant and skillful driver trumps my need to not feel nervous. So I put on my seat belt, tune to a radio station I love and I crochet. It helps me to look more chill than I am.

At this point in life, he takes the wheel and decides on the speed and when to stop. With me as a guiding presence, a consultant if you will, he navigates the turns, calculates distances and chooses a different side road than I suggest to get to the same place. Of course.

I am accutely aware that without this junction, I leave him attempting to go from ‘non-driver’ to ‘driver’ status without the baby steps and trial and error that ensure he won’t take off the mirrors of all the cars on the right side of road. Oh, I’m so certain that is going to happen when he hugs that side of the road!

But it doesn’t. And we both learn.

I have so little time left for him to practice safely next to me – although I would prefer he take his seat in the back in a five-point restraint car seat and eat a granola bar. I have a little time to contribute my opinions to his decision-making and information bank. I feel looming pressure to make sure he knows everything he needs to know before he pulls out the driveway, alone, that first time. For now, he is a captive audience 🙂

He has begun, on occassion, to tell me to be quiet and let him drive. He assures me he’s ‘got it’ and that he is an excellent driver.

Thank God we’re just talking about driving and not his whole life, right?

Don’t Blog About Other People’s Kids

If you are a grown adult who has never used a blog to demean, slander and gossip about someone else’s teenager, feel free to move on from this post.

Read this blog or this blogCrochet an octopus for a preemie or bake these chocolate chip cookies for your family. Do anything else with your time that involves making the world a better place.

If you realize that you have, in fact, used your time and energy to publicly shame a child, I have a few things I’d like to say to you.

I am here for you and I mean that. I am willing to sit down over a cup of coffee, absolutely not tea, and have a conversation about what might be going so wrong for you that engaging in this type of activity was an option. I know exactly how it feels to find yourself engaged in behavior that keeps you from being the best version of yourself. I am willing to share the name of my wonderful and beloved therapist. I’ve done a lot of personal work over the last few years and I highly recommend it.

Writing nasty stuff about people on the internet sucks. Adults are fair game, though, if it’s how you choose to be in the world and on the planet ~ have at it. Slam your neighbors and complain about your boss. But, when this behavior extends to children, you cross a line and that type of abuse won’t be tolerated.

Being a teenager is hard. Don’t you remember? What they need is a wide berth to make mistakes and be provided with grace and forgiveness at every turn from supportive adults in their environment. Do you not want that for your teens?!? Even when you think someone else’s child has wronged your child – no matter how flat you make a pancake, there are always two sides. (I really appreciate what Dr. Phil has brought to my life).

Teens have done terrible things to themselves over internet harrassment. My God, can you imagine being party to something like that?

I will tell you that my kids have made some poor choices and engaged in what I like to call ‘less than desirable behavior’. Ugh, when it happens. They have also been accused of doing some things that in the end, turned out not to be what it initially looked like. These situation are always difficult enough in themselves, never mind with some watchful adult ripping it apart on the internet. See that? It’s gross.

Schools, parents and society in general are attempting to teach children that the idea of what we post on social media can be extremely hurtful and permanent. We as adults need to provide them with examples of how to navigate issues without posting them publicly and passing around rumors and inuendo.

If there is something weighing on your mind and causing you to consider posting it to a public venue, I suggest – NOT. Call up the other party, make a pot of coffee. I promise these situations do not call for tea. Have a discussion and illustrate for our teens what great conflict resolution looks like. Show them that we handle these incidents with empathy and integrity. Teach them about facetime and personal interaction.

Cease and desist. Pull that shit down. Erase it and apologize. Make amends. Mistakes are redeemable and people are forgiving.  

See this here? ^^^^^^^^        This is what I want my kids, your kids and all kids to know.



What I Want Them To Know

I have a dream of sending well-rounded, renaissance men out into the world. I want to embue them with the ability to write thank you and sympathy cards and make chicken soup from scratch. I want them to be adept at scrubbing pots and pans, unclogging the kitchen sink and making Tollhouse Cookies ~ by heart.

I have a Pinterest board entitled “Things I Want The Boyz To Be Able To Do” and it is a very long list. Skills on my list range from household, repair and social skills to and what I consider one of the most important skills any of us will ever possess – time and project management. Each time I think of something new, I make a note of it and look for opportunities for them to learn. I occassionally find myself doing something and realizing one of them hasn’t done it, so I call them to come for the experience. I am certain if you ask them – they will say that it is something about me that they really enjoy 😉

Mikey using a running stitch to repair a hole in his backpack.

I can attest that it is easier and quicker to get a job done without them, but in the long run, the benefits outweigh the cost. Please tell me the benefits will outweight the cost!


Both of our teens are enrolled in vocational high schools. Besides their high school requirements, they are learning an arsenal of skills that they can use to maintain their own property, employ themselves during additional schooling or develop a career in a society that is experiencing a real skills gap. We are extremely proud of both of them. 

So while their high schools might have requirements to issue my kids their diplomas, I also have my own ideas about money management, accounting and taxes, meaningful sex education, self-defense, survival skills and home economics. I also maintain a list of interesting certifications that people (even young people) can earn that might make them useful and marketable teenagers.

Oh! Who couldn’t use more useful and marketable teenagers?