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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Parenting Articles

As we’re moving from spring into summer, we all have a moment or two where we look forward to summer because of its slower pace.  When summer arrives, in all its glory, we then recognize the lie that we had been telling ourselves. Summer is crazy busy.

Between pool parties, summer sports and sleepovers, how will we ever fit working in to our schedule? Here are a few tips on how to make it work.

Plan Your Work Times

I know it seems impossible, but planning work times into your schedule is something we must learn to do. Each day holds something different during the summer it seems, so we may have to do things like get up early and work, plan out work during naptimes or stay up late and burn the midnight oil.

Know Your Priorities

Knowing when you’re going to work is only half the battle. It can be easy to say to ourselves that we’ll work during naptime, but then we sit down to get to work and don’t know where to start. So, one simple technique is to keep a running list of projects and tasks, ordered by priority. If I know exactly what I need to work on when I sit down, I’m much more likely to get it accomplished.

Be Flexible

It’s easy to say we’ll follow a schedule in the summer, but it’s a much harder task to actually stick to it. Kids throw a lot of variables into the mix, so we must keep ourselves in the attitude of adjusting as necessary. We’ll also have those days when we sense God calling us to rest or to visit someone specific or whatever it might be. We need to be sensitive to His leading and flexible with our schedules. Read More→

May
09

Covert Code for your Kids

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I wrote a previous article about teaching your kids a code of ethics/values.  It was awesome and you can read it here.   

This article is about the type of code that is a lot more clandestine . . . that is to say “secret,” and can help your kids manage social interactions without their peers becoming aware.  It’s especially valuable in helping your kids stay safe as they start visiting other friends and are out of your watchful eye.

Here is a situation:

Mel has been playing over at your house all afternoon.  You, being the great dad that you are, have been helping your wife make dinner (or, maybe she’s helping you) while you keep an ‘eye’ on the kids playing.

At some point, Mel, asks your kid if he can stay overnight for a sleepover.

Your son/daughter still sleeps with a stuffed Snoopy, and doesn’t want to have to explain that to Mel because he/she will be the laughingstock of the school the next week.

So, your offspring comes to you:  Dad, can Mel spend the night?  We can put up the old camping cot in my room . . .

You have arranged a secret ‘code word’ with your kid . . . and “camping cot” is the term that means:  “please say no to a sleepover.”

So, you reply, “Oh I’m sorry, but we have to [_insert excuse_] and you can’t do a sleepover tonight.

Your son/daughter turns to Mel, “Oh rats! Sorry, maybe next time.”

Crisis averted!

You can see by the above example that the idea is simple:  Set up a secret code with your kids to give them an appropriate social ‘out’ if a situation is tense, uncomfortable, or unsafe.

I suggest having a family meeting and arranging some codes.  The sleepover one is good.  You might also want to construct one for friends that ask to stay for dinner, etc.  You might need to have the codes work both for kids wanting to stay at your house, and transversely when kids invite your child to social engagements. 

Codes can be non-verbal also.  Rubbing your head (I’m bald and this one works for me) could mean ‘come rescue me from this conversation.’  Rubbing your elbows could mean ‘say no to anything I ask.’  Rubbing your forearms could mean ‘steal second base.’

Quick note:  Kids need to learn how to be assertive and tell people ‘no’ and speak honestly.  However, there are always those situations where visiting kids don’t pick up on social cues, or beg, or situations that might involve protection from social ridicule or embarrassment.  It’s probably a good idea to discuss the difference with your kids in a family meeting. 

There are many uses for a family code and one of the best is to keep your child safe.  When kids are teens, they are sometimes invited to social engagements that turn illegal or illicit.  What if your kid rode with several other kids to a party?  Then, the party gets ‘out of hand’ and drinking/drugs are involved?

Peers:  Come on!  Stay, it will be fun.

Your Child:  No, I think we should go.

Peers:  We’ll I drove, and I’m going to stay for a little while.  I’m not going to drive you home and come back.

This is a great opportunity for your kid to call to check in (because you have set up that they check-in on a regular basis throughout the night – good job Dad!), or to have your son/daughter drop you a quick call/text that includes the code.

For phone calls, the code can even contain a prompt for you to start asking questions.

[Ring]

Child:  Hey dad, I’m checking in. (dramatically rolls eyes to friends to show that he hates having to call to check in) I’m excellent.

Dad:  [Recognizes that your child used the code word “excellent” instead of fine] Do I need to come and get you?

Child:  Yeah, we are just messing around playing ping-pong and stuff.

Dad:  Ok, I’ll come.  Do I need to create some emergency text and excuse to get you?

Child:  Sure, I’ll check in again later.

Dad:  [Hangs up.  Waits about 15 minutes, then texts “Hey, something came up and I have to come get you.  I’ll explain in the car.  Tell your buddies sorry.”

Child:  [Shows friends the text and feigns disappointment while cursing all parents for being ‘losers’]

I recently read online about using a similar system where the code is just a texted ‘X’ to mean “make up an excuse to come get me because things are ‘not good.’  The article even added a little suggestion that is worth including.  If you have to rescue your teen/pre-teen from a “not good” situation via the secret code, then don’t ask any questions about the situation on the ride home – that way your son/daughter won’t have to elaborate how they got into a rescue situation.  They can bring it up on their own time.  (Kids will always bring things up later if they can trust you.)

Codes don’t just have to be for extraction.  In our house, we have the accepted code “for real” to mean “tell the truth.”  If my wife or I think that there is a lie involved in something we are hearing, we say, “for real.”  That gives our kids, or each other, the prompt to tell the full, gritty truth because it will be worse if they don’t. 

Wife:  Did you kill that enormous spider in the bathroom?

Me:  Yeah. Guts went everywhere.

Wife:  For real.

Me:  No, It was freaky-big.  I was trying to figure out how to kill it, then the little sucker ran at me and I panicked.  Turns out it was just a feint and it ran under the cabinet to escape.

Wife:  Great.  Now we have to burn down th bathroom.

Here is something you might find interesting:  They used secret codes in the Bible, and early Christians also used a code to stay safe.  When the idea of ‘church’ had just started after the first Easter . . .  the FIRST Easter, the one where Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven . . . people that followed Jesus and met together could be arrested or killed by the Roman government.  Christians would draw a fish on their door as a secret code.  The Greek word “ΙΧΘΥΣ” means “fish” and those letters are also the initial letters of the phrase, “Lesous (Jesus), Xristos (Christ), Theou (God), Yios (Son), Sotare (Savior).  If you saw the fish drawing, then you knew there was a secret meeting of Christ-followers that met at that location.

Well, either that or a bass angler lived there . . .  which probably led to some awkward situations. Read More→

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May
08

Prepping Your Business For Summer

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beach playI can hardly believe it, but another school year is coming to a close. As I stumble through this month of end-of-school parties (not to mention my own graduation from Grad School-yay!), I find myself left with very little time in which I can actually get “work” done. Which leads me to wonder – what will the summer look like if I’m already in such a jumble?

So, I’ve decided that in order to start the summer off right, I need to take some time NOW to get my mind and heart ready.  Here are some things I’ve decided to do to get ready for the new season God has for my business – maybe they’ll help you, too.

Set Aside Time

It’s easy to forget the importance of setting aside time to work on our business in and of itself. We are commonly focused on our customers, daily tasks and the like that we don’t take time to think solely about what the future holds for our business.

As we near the end of this school year, let’s dedicate a couple of solid hours to sit down and dream a little, plan a little. If you have a team of people that you work with, consider pulling them all together (provide some Starbucks, of course) and have a brainstorming session.

Set Goals

During the time that you set aside to “think business,” make it a point to set goals for the summer and fall. I generally make a list – 3 months goals, 6 month goals, etc – to help aid me as I plan out where I see my business heading for the upcoming months.

Try to stretch yourself in your goal-setting. Be specific and make some of your goals measurable so that when you look back next year, you can truly see the growth your business has experienced. And then cover each goal in prayer throughout the year. Read More→

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May
03

Play Date Haskell Style

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This turned into a really long series on Dads facilitating good manners and etiquette. Well, mostly it was a long series because I TOOK THREE MONTHS OFF.

But I’m back to finish off our series with one of the big issues our kids experience in testing their manners in social situations: The Play Date.

But first, a couple of short disclaimers. This first one you’ve seen before several articles ago but I thought I’d better add it again. I don’t want anyone to think I am the EXPERT on all things social, because I’m not. I’m an introvert that grew up lonely and isolated in the barren wastelands of Indiana. Ok, Indiana isn’t that bad . . . but I was pretty much a loner.

Disclaimer #1
I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid. I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least). So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent. The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues. Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.

Disclaimer #2
In my day we didn’t use the word “Play Date” it was more commonly referred to as “having someone over” or “Going over to ___’s house.” “Date” makes it sound like it was planned or involved ‘romance.’ I’m pretty sure ‘Play Date’ came as a result of parents that wanted to control their kid’s interaction into prearranged and encapsulated time periods. That’ would be nice. But we dads know that kids need some flexibility and will use this article, and my others, to make even the most unplanned get-togethers a successful experience. For the purpose of easily talking about the process of “going over” or “having over,” I’m going to use the term “play date” to indicate any such informal get-together.

Now, on to the article . . .

Those of you that grew up in any age that wasn’t considered “Millennial,” will probably remember Leave it to Beaver. This TV show originally ran in the 1950’s/60’s and was rebroadcast frequently when I was a kid in the 80’s. It’s had resurgences over the years and you can usually watch it on one of the stations that broadcasts ‘classic’ TV. If all else fails you can probably find it on YouTube.

The show was a depiction of the ideal upper-class family, with good morals and ideals living in a small suburban town somewhere in America. In this family named the Cleavers, there was a mom, dad, and two boys. The show centered around the adventures of the youngest son that had the nickname ‘Beaver.’ However, every story needs a villain, and one of the main foes to this idyllic family dynamic was the teenage neighborhood friend that would frequently visit: Eddie Haskell.

Eddie was deceitful, rude, and mean in his dealings with Beaver and the other kids on the show, but when he visited the Cleaver family, he transformed into an over-the-top, sugary sweet gentleman. All of this being a lead-in to today’s topic of teaching your kids how to show good manners while participating in a play date with their friends. Read More→

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Apr
11

The Perfect Coffee For Your Mom Problem

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coffee and computerThink outside the Keurig. With so many coffee choices why limit yourself to just drip? Instead, pick the java for your situation. But which coffee choice is best for daily mama drama? For every situation your little lovelies create there is a brew waiting to spark some energy.  Let’s discuss a few winning combinations to help through typical mom tough spots.

 

No Talkie before Coffee – You need black coffee straight up, in shots. Find the smallest setting on the Keurig. Now, make three shots. Forget the cream and sugar, there isn’t time! Okay, now you can breath, which is good because, trust me, they do not understand quiet before coffee. Remember to enjoy their somber moods when the teen years arrive.

 

Tiny Tornadoes — French coffee is the way to go for untidy tots. Cafe Au Lait, to be exact. A dash of steamed milk, a whole lot of java and the impossible becomes possible again. Don’t rush, enjoy every sip until the last drop of heavenly nectar is gone. Now equip yourself with a trash bag and a broom, it’s cleaning time!

 

Empty Container Equals Empty Brain — No coffee in the container? Have no fear! Time for a trip out of the house. Drive to the nearest coffee shop for a fill-up on the way to the grocery store. You’re a stay-at-home-mom, multi-task! Grab a latte before ticking items off the grocery list (If you forget the list on the kitchen counter again, wing it)!

 

Braving Walmart at Night — An Americano coffee will make the drive to Walmart more enjoyable without all the caffeine. I won’t even suggest the D-word, Walmart at night requires caffeine. Make the excursion even better, keep the kiddos at home with hubby.

 

Cooking Requires Coffee — Macchiato to the rescue! An espresso, a shot of steamed milk, and caramel make cooking spaghetti more enjoyable. Grind some fine beans, turn on the milk steamer, and create a delicacy to cope with the noise and bubbling pots. Nothing goes better with cooking than an excellent frou-frou drink!

 

Bugged Out — Game on, lice don’t stand a chance against a determined mama. But, you don’t have time for anything at the moment. With sheets to wash, beds to steam, hair to shampoo and pick, your hands are on overdrive. Make time first for a double shot of espresso. Chances are, if one noggin comes home with these nasty little blood suckers, soon multiple noggins will be teeming with creepy crawlers. Down your caffeine quickly, but make sure to enjoy the robust flavor.

 

Cuddles on the Couch  — Pull out the milk foamer, because if you’re sharing coffee with a coffee snatcher, your elixir needs to be more milk than brew. I would suggest not adding the mocha this go around. Keep your mama chocolate milk a secret. Lets face it, with you and hubby already addicted to coffee, do you really need the kids addicted too? Read More→

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Feb
07

Hypocrisy and Parenting

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Becoming a hypocrite is very easy for parents. Do what I say, not what I do, because sometimes adults can do things children cannot, but it still makes adults look like hypocrites. I strive to set a good example for my children, and sometimes I actually succeed. One thing I have done is not teach my children there are bad words (aka swear words); there are adult words and children words. My children have no right, whatsoever, to correct an adult they hear swearing. No, no, if I hear my children correcting an adult, even a stranger, I will stop them. Adults can swear, children cannot. If you say swears are bad words you are setting a precedent and telling your kids, adults who swear are doing something wrong. Now, this isn’t to say swearing is right, but the point is to teach the children they cannot correct adults because children are under a different set of rule than adults.

This is the point, children are under a different set of standards than adults. The difference is in the home and in society. Teachers at school can use the microwave to heat up leftovers for lunch; students do not have access to microwaves. There is a different set of rules for teachers than for the students. Mom and dad can stay up late and play video games; children cannot because there is a different set of rules.

What I want to share with you today is a memory from a few years ago. First, I need to say Christians have a different set of rules than non-Christians. Read 1 Corinthians and see what Paul has to say about this topic. Right now, I am building up to something and need you to understand that the rules for my children and the rules for Christians is why I am bringing this story up.

When I was in college, studying the Old Testament, I was learning about the different ceremonies God commanded His people to celebrate. Now, I have no intention of following all of the Old Testament ceremonies and feasts, I am not under that covenant as a believer in Jesus, but the Sabbath is another story altogether. The Sabbath is mentioned in the second chapter of Genesis, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on that day he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” The Sabbath’s holiness is mention before God has established a covenant with any man or group of people.

Not only is the Sabbath mentioned in the very first book of the Bible, but it is also referred to in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8). Now, the Ten Commandments do fall under the Old Covenant but are still the commandments by which we are governed (along with the new commandments to love God above all else and to love others as we love ourselves. Found in Matthew 22:36-40). The Ten Commandments still serve the purpose of recognizing sin and showing we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), even under the new covenant. Read More→

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Nov
29

Series Interruption for the Playground

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I

Photo Credit: Brad Washburn

Photo Credit: Brad Washburn

n the last article we took a short side-step from our Mr. Manners series to talk about one of the greatest potential God-centered holidays, Halloween.  So for this article we were planning to get back on track and talk about Social Media Manners for your kids.  It’s a great topic and we’ll definitely feature it.

Unfortunately though, while I have been compiling wisdom and manners on social media, I have been experiencing the election process here in the U.S.  I’ve had some first-hand witnessing to a lot of bad social media behavior, especially on Facebook.  So my list for social media manners has a lot of “don’t.”  Before I flooded you with “don’ts” I need to take an entire post and set the stage for the idea of a border marking off a really safe and fun area.  Sure, there are don’ts in life, but there is also a free and fun area that they boundary.  So, I think it’s time for me to give you my Playground Analogy.

I hope you are ready for this.   The Playground Analogy is one of the Top Ten great analogies of life.  It helps describe a healthy relationship with God, and positive attitude for your life.  Great Christian psychologists are humbled by this analogy; it puts books like Boundaries into the “Amateur Psychology” section of Barnes and Nobel.  And, most importantly for us dads, it is a great mindset to teach your kids.

I went a little far describing the importance of this analogy.  Or did I?  You may be the judge.

The Playground

Some of you may not have had an elementary school experience and it’s an essential part of this analogy.  I’m going to describe the typical elementary school playground environment to give you the basis for this fantastic metaphor.

At my elementary school in the late 70’s there was a brick building that was the school.  It was pretty typical of a school: teachers, principal, music, art, gym, cafeteria – the whole thing.  As students, we would sit in class for a portion of the day, then we would have recess.  We would all line up and file out to the doors opening up into the . . .  playground.

The playground was an area directly outside the school.  Part of it was asphalt, and there was a portion that was a grassy field.  In the playground there was a kickball field painted on the asphalt.  There were slides, there was a merry-go-round (now condemned by most schools as a ‘death trap’).  There were swings and monkey-bars, and basketball hoops and teeter-totters (seesaws) and one of those new play equipment things that one kid used to call the Big-a-bang.

. . . and there was a fence around the playground.

The fence was an important part of the playground.  On one side, it created a safety barrier to the road and the downtown neighborhood.  Another side bordered the high school, where sometimes teenagers could be seen walking the track, skipping school, and having class outside.  Another side bordered a woods and graveyard. Read More→

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Nov
25

Making A New Relationship Work When You Are A Busy Single Mom!

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momsonoutsideI have many single moms who have shared with me the challenges of dating when you are a single mom. After all, it’s a complicated dating world with apps and online sites. And we often feel guilty about dating again when we have little ones. When you meet someone you like, it can often be a challenge to make it work when you are so busy with your kids. But he could be ‘the one,’ so it’s worth giving it a go. Therefore, here is how to make a new relationship work when you are a busy single mom.

Explain your priorities at the beginning

To make the relationship work, you need to be honest with your guy at the beginning. You need to make it clear that your children are your priority and that they have to come first. After all, if you have to cancel dates as your child needs you, he has to understand. If you explain your priorities at the start, it can make it easier as your relationship develops. It will also give him time to process the situation, and decide if he does want to move forward with the relationship.

Make time for him

It can be a challenge finding time while you are a busy mom to spend time with your new guy. But if you want to make the relationship work, you need to make time to spend with the man. Find someone you trust to look after your little ones while you head out on a date. Try and meet up at least once a week at the start, so that you can spend some time getting to know one another. And make sure it’s outside of your home to keep it separate from the kids for now. Spending time together will help you both decide if the relationship is something you want to continue.

Show him you care

When you are so busy with the kids, it can often make the new guy feel a bit pushed out. And it can be hard for him to know that you are interested. Therefore, make sure you text and ring him to ensure you can make it work. And as Christmas is on its way, make sure you get him a great card and gift to show him you care. You can find brilliant sites with gifts for him if you are stuck for ideas. And make sure you have honest conversations with him about how you feel the relationship is going. That way, he will know you are keen, even if you are really busy to see him.

Don’t rush for him to meet the kids

To make the relationship work, it’s better for the two of you to meet up on your own at first. After all, if you rush meeting the kids, it might put a strain on your new relationship. As this feature explains, don’t put them all together until you are sure there are real possibilities for the relationship. That way, they won’t be left dumbstruck if it ends sooner rather than later. Still, you might want to refer to him as a ‘special friend,’ so your kids can get used to the idea of a guy in your life.

Hopefully, you can make the relationship work, and you can become one big happy family!

Categories : Parenting Articles
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Oct
18

Knock Knock Knockin’ on Friend’s Doors

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Img Src: Brad Washburn

Img Src: Brad Washburn

Quick Preamble:  The organic flow of kids

I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid.  I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least).  So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent.  The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues.   Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.

Ok, back to our previously scheduled blog article . . .

Knocking:  Essential to relationships.  And just like other activities that involve others, there are some manners and ethics to knocking.  I’ll cover just a few in this article:

  • Don’t be afraid to knock
  • Be safe to knock
  • Don’t knock at 7am
  • Jesus knocks

 

Don’t be afraid to knock.  Sometimes my kids would want to fill out a street-kickball game, but they needed a few more players.

Me:  Why don’t you ask Kyle?

Kids:  He’s usually playing x-box

Me:  Did you actually ask him?

Kids:  But there are no cars in his drive.

Me:  [leveled stare]

Kids:  Fine, we’ll ask him.

 

Minutes later Kyle has been shooed out by his parents to get some sunshine and he is standing on second base (which happens to be a pile of leaves they put in the road).

Sometimes people need to be asked.  Some people even need to be approached and asked to be involved.  Our world is full of loneliness and people that are disconnected.  Knocking on a door to ‘hang out’ and/or ‘play’ isn’t that tough – the worst someone could say is, “no.” Read More→

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Sep
01

Last Comic Sitting . . . in the Waiting Room.

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kids healthMy wife has white coat syndrome.  She grew up in a military family where she was taught to respect people in authority, especially if they are wearing a uniform.  Doctors wear a uniform and are in authority at their office so they benefit from the double-whammy of respect from her.  So my wife gets pretty stressed when she goes to the Dr. and sometimes needs someone to advocate for her.

I suffer from the opposite malady of “white coat syndrome.”  I have the, as yet to be diagnosed, Rebel Syndrome.  I think people in authority are not to be trusted and uniforms only serve to identify the people to people to mistrust.

So I go with her to doctor appointments.  Sometimes I try to be comedy relief for these appointments, but most of the time my attempts fall short.  As it turns out, my wife doesn’t think joking with the doctor is a good thing.  I think she’s afraid they will take revenge on her somehow medically if I am not funny.  And, I should probably add, that my wife rarely thinks I am funny.

One time when we were dating, she was trying to run away from me (it’s a loooong story that does NOT involve creepy stalking . . . unless you count throwing pebbles at her dorm room window trying to get her to come down and neglect studying and hang out with me).  I had some flowers for her, but she did not want to hang out; she wanted to study. So I brought the flowers to the bottom of the stairs at her dorm and she came and got them, then started sprinting up the stairs before I could get kissy.

. . . So, we were at the emergency room with her having a broken leg.  I was there to be supportive, it was probably one of my first stints as “doctor companion,” plus, she was blaming me for her leg being broken.  We had another friend with us also; one of Giselle’s girlfriends named Jennifer.

So, I’m doing my ‘thing’ and trying to keep Giselle entertained and her mind off of her leg.  It was all falling flat.  In the hazy memory of my mind, I think I might have been making the doctors, staff, and the whole waiting room laugh, but not Giselle.

Our friend Jennifer picks up a pamphlet for STDs . . . and asks Giselle if she needs to read it.  And, that cracks her up.

I can’t win.

Anyway, I go to waiting rooms with Giselle a lot.  As you might guess, a lot of women also go to some of these appointments and many times I see them toting their kids along because they are too young to stay by themselves.  So, I’ve had a good vantage point to observe how kids take advantage of moms when they are involved in something that my wife would say is quite stressful. Read More→

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