Monday, April 27, 2015

Helicopter Parents

My kids spent the weekend away at a youth group event. This is not a big deal on the surface, as both of my kids spend the summer at sleep-away camp. A weekend away to them is a walk in the park.

However, it was my 8th grader’s first time at this youth group event, and for some reason, she has been nervous about it since she heard about it in the winter. Even though her sister talked about how much fun it was, even though her sister’s friends talked about how much fun it was, she was nervous.

She was afraid she wouldn’t make friends. Anyone who knows her would laugh at this, because she’s outgoing and silly and has no trouble making friends. But she was convinced it wouldn’t happen.

The stress built and built and built, even though as the date got closer, she became excited about going. The week before she left, her stress levels were at an all-time high, which meant mine were as well. She had a ton of homework, several tests before and after the weekend and I’m pretty sure our house vibrated from all the stress. Add in the “what do I pack” dilemma and oh, boy. Be glad you were not in our house.

I could totally relate. I was bullied as a child and the thought of going to any event run predominantly by kids (who, in my experience, were mean) rather than adults (who, in my experience, were safe) would have sent me over the edge. But my older daughter has loved it, my husband loved it as a kid, and I decided long ago that I was not going to let my fears influence my kids. I encourage them to go to camp, even though I hated it as a child, and this youth group is similar enough that I’ve encouraged both of them to at least give it a try.

So this weekend was my youngest’s turn to “give it a try.”

I drove the two of them to the bus location, gave them each a quick hug in the car and left before the bus arrived. There were a ton of kids waiting there, and from previous experience with the bus situation, as well as being the mom of teen girls, I know that waiting with them for the bus would be a disaster. They would be embarrassed and I would be tempted to get involved—suggesting they make friends, asking questions or really just embarrassing them by breathing. So I took a last look at both of them and drove away.

And heard nothing. Not a thing.

Now, what you have to understand is one key point: despite my closeness with my kids (and we are very close), I am not a helicopter parent. I suspect, however, that they might be helicopter kids. You see, with texting, I hear from them all the time. All day, every day. What’s going on in class, who’s being mean to whom, what grades they think they might have gotten, what grades they’ve actually gotten, who’s hungry when, etc. Despite my questioning why they’re texting in class (they always seem to have a “good excuse”), they text me multiple times a day, almost every day. I couldn’t even become a helicopter parent if I wanted to—they don’t give me time to consider it.

When my older daughter has gone to these youth group events, I usually hear from her a few times. I at least get a “goodnight I love you” text or an early morning “good morning” text. They’re reassuring, even if I don’t initiate them, because I know she’s okay.

But I heard nothing. And that was fine, because I know if they’re too busy to text that means they’re having a good time. Until my husband asked if I’d heard from them. And I started wondering why I hadn’t. And wondering if they were having a good time. Especially my youngest. But I didn’t want to text and ask because I didn’t want to pull them away from what they were doing or whom they were meeting. And if I happened to text them at a bad moment, I didn’t want to hear about something that would pass far quicker for them than it would for me.

At camp, there’s a no electronics policy. So unless they write me a letter, I don’t hear from them. That causes its own set of issues, but it gets me used to having them away and it makes me realize that what I hear about in a letter happened five days ago and of course the bad things have passed (maybe even the good things, too).

But with this texting thing? I’m doing my best to let them go and it’s like they’re trying to make me a helicopter parent. So unless that helicopter is going to take me away to a deserted island, I really don’t need that kind of help. Thank you.

Friday, April 17, 2015


The work below is from Book 3 of my Women of Valor series. I really need a title, but in the meantime, Book 3 will have to do. It’s a hot encounter between Aviva and Jason. They’re on a date at the bowling alley—Chelsea Piers, to be exact. I hope you enjoy it.

“You’re up.”
He jumped, not realizing how lost he’d been in his thoughts. “Sorry.” He looked up at the scoreboard. “You’re beating me.”
She smiled. Was it his imagination, or did she stand a little straighter, preen a tiny bit? In her heels, she’d only come up to his chin; now, in the ugly bowling shoes, she barely reached his shoulder. Her eyes twinkled and with her short hair, she looked like a pixie. A mischievous one at that.
“Yes. Yes I am.”
Jason rose, on his way to get his ball. “I’m not sure my manliness can handle this.”
She lowered her gaze from his face, down his body to his feet and back up again. Jason’s neck heated and he shifted from one foot to the other.
“Oh, I don’t know. I think your ‘manliness’ will survive. Flourish, even.”
His breath hitched and he reached for the bowling ball. Her smile broadened and although her gaze never wandered from his, he’d swear she knew what was happening to him physically.
Two could play this game.
His gaze swept from the top of her short-cropped, pixie haircut, down to her chest, where he lingered for a moment. He continued past her waist and hips, down her legs to the tips of her ugly bowling shoes. When he finally returned to meet her eyes, her face was bright red. He leaned toward he, his bowling ball between them. He could feel her breath on chin, warm and unsteady. A lock of hair fell across her forehead and he pushed it back in place with one finger, one finger that drew across her smooth skin and traced her fine boned skull. She bit her lip and he pulled slowly away, even though he wanted to do more.
“Oh, yes, I’ll flourish,” he said. “But first, I’m going to win.”
He winked, walked to the foul line, adjusted his address, swung his arm back and let the ball go. It spun down the lane and at the last moment, hit the gutter. Jason’s jaw dropped. He shook his head, turned and stopped.
Aviva tapped her fingers on the table as she stood and watched him. “Interesting strategy you’ve got there.” Her eyes sparkled and her tone told him she wasn’t being mean. He’d liked her sense of humor before; he couldn’t decide not to like it when it was turned on him.
He nodded in acknowledgement, turned and took his second turn. The ball knocked down seven pins. It was her turn.
She grabbed her ball, patted his arm and took her shot. Strike. She didn’t move. Jason couldn’t figure out why she stood so still, until he saw her shoulders begin to shake.
She was laughing. At him.
She turned around and he saw tears running down her face. She took a deep breath. “I’m so sorry. I swear I have no idea how that happened.”
“Sure you don’t.” He tried to keep a straight face, but couldn’t manage it. He grinned at her, then folded his arms and did his best to look sad. “What a way to get a guy when he’s down.”
“You’re not down, you just challenged the bowling gods and they don’t like being challenged.” She took a step toward him and looked at him expectantly.
“Bowling gods?”
“Of course. How else do you think recreational bowlers manage it?” She took another step toward him. Her green eyes were wide with fake innocence.
“Bowling gods.”
“Exactly. And you challenged them.” At this point, they were toe to toe. Her floral scent wafted around him and he refocused on her words.
“To imitate you, Aviva, technically I challenged you.”
“Yes, but with bowling skill, so you actually challenged them too.”
She looked supremely satisfied with her circuitous bowling logic and Jason had an urge to kiss her. Her lips were full and pink and tantalizingly close. How would they taste? How would they feel? He was dying to find out. He rested one hand on her waist and clasped the other hand behind her neck. She leaned toward him. This close, he could see gold flecks in her eyes. Her pupils widened. He tilted his head, leaned down and softly kissed her lips.
She sighed and ran her hands up and down his biceps. His skin tingled through his sweater and he didn’t want her to let go.
With a groan, he pulled her tighter and kissed her deeper. She tasted sweet and he was hungry for more. But it was their first date and they were in a bowling alley. Things he’d blocked out as he focused on her lips returned—voices around them, fried aromas from the snack bar, blinking lights—reminded him how public this place was, and he pulled away.
“Looks like we’re challenging each other,” he whispered.

For more hot encounters, hop on over to and check out the other entries.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Do-Over, Please!

I love Mondays. I really do. After a busy weekend with my family, whom I love, there is nothing I like better than a quiet Monday to get myself centered. The kids go to school, the husband goes to work and I do everything I sit at my computer and write, with an occasional break for errands.

But yesterday I got an inkling of why most other people hate Mondays.

It began with a phone call at 6:47 a.m. Now, first of all, any time my phone rings that early, I assume someone died. So I race to the phone, only to identify the caller as my daughter, who left five minutes before for the bus. Now I’m assuming she forgot something.

“Mom, I think I missed the bus. No one is here and the bus usually comes by now.”
“Well, I didn’t hear it go by. Why don’t you give it a few more minutes and then if it still isn’t there, I’ll drive you.”
“Wait! Um, I think there might have been a delayed opening.”

Yup, there was and I forgot about it. The school didn’t plaster us with emails about it and somehow, the one email I did receive didn’t make it onto my calendar.

You can imagine the mood of both teen girls when they found out they could have slept for another two hours. But eventually, they both got to school and I settled into my routine. And then I took a break to paint.

We just had out entire house painted, and in true If You Give A Mouse A Cookie fashion, new paint has led to new light fixtures, new rugs and other decorative items. One of the new light fixtures has a smaller base than the previous one, so the ceiling needs to be painted the correct color of white so it blends. I went into the basement, grabbed the China White can of paint, set up the ladder, got my brush and began painting.

When the painter was here, I noticed that when he painted, it seemed to dry pretty quickly. Well, for the next several hours, I kept checking the spot I painted to make sure it blended with the rest of the ceiling and to make sure the marks were covered. Except every time I checked, it still looked wet.

And then it dawned on me. I’d used the correct color, but I’d painted the ceiling with satin finish, rather than flat. Because who would think to look at the paint can?

Apparently everyone else.

So I went back and repainted. At least it was easy to see.

Today is Tuesday. It’s quiet. The kids are at school. My husband is at work. And I’m going to spend the day pretending it’s Monday.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Passover Is Killing Me

I’m starting to think that Passover has it in for me. Not religiously, of course. And not because it forces me to cook from scratch three meals per day to please the picky eaters in my family while still following the laws of the holiday, although I have to admit to really disliking that part.

No, the reason I think Passover has it in for me is because major breakdowns occur around it on a regular enough basis that I’m going to have to start to prepare for them.

One year, my oven broke the night before the seder. The seder that was being held at my house. The seder for which I needed. The seder for which I needed my oven. I was lucky that year. The appliance repair person I called heard the desperation in my voice, sent someone over immediately, and fixed the oven for me so I could use it.

The utility people were not as helpful. Another year the power went out at 4:45 the evening of the second night of Passover, an hour before people were arriving at my house. I called the power company and because it was before most people in my neighborhood had arrived home from work, they didn’t have enough power outages reported for them to consider it an emergency or to send out a truck to fix it. My mother suggested flashlights. Those would have been fine to read the Haggadot, but not since using my friend’s Easy Bake Oven have I tried cooking anything by light bulb and I’m pretty sure nowhere in the seder does it talk about Moses and the Israelites getting salmonella. Luckily, my friends agreed to host and I packed up everything, including the tray of raw chicken and brought it over to their house. Have seder will travel.

This year, we did not host any seders. We were away on spring break right before the holiday and my family and friends were kind enough to play host. So one would think we’d be safe.

One would be wrong.

Our water heater broke. I found out because when I went into the basement to get a few bottles of wine to bring for the first seder, I found liquid on the floor. For a moment, I thought the wine had leaked, but we don’t own that much wine. I quickly realized it was the water heater and the plumbing company instructed me how to turn it off while waiting for them to arrive today, three days after I found the leak.

Cold water, lots of cooking and constantly cleaning up matzah crumbs. Either Passover has it in for me or we really have gone back to Pioneer days.