and just when we imagine we know everything

As my darling 4th daughter, Jodie, turned 20 this year, I was fairly confident that we have this parenting teenagers down. After all, ask any of our family, friends, acquaintances, people we pass shopping at Target and they will GO OUT OF THERE WAY TO TELL YOU HOW PAINFULLY DIFFICULT IT IS TO RAISE TEENAGE GIRLS!

No, really.

‘They have. Literally any and every chance that came along.

And they have been right…well, sometimes.

My darling husband and I have four amazing daughters, who as teenagers challenged us in ways that made us certain that our mothers’ curses upon us were very real…and in ways that we could have never, ever imagined. Raising teenagers in the brave new world of social media? Did we really see that coming?

But we survived.

We did not die.

None of us.

And now, with four young adult women making their way in this world in their own way, we have imagined that we might actually know what we are doing raising teenagers because pseudo-experts told us girls are hard and boys are easy.


All y’all know nothing!


Believe me.

But one thing, as parents of teenagers, remains true still. We are really, really good at embarrassing our adolescent children.


Taking your teenaged son to a Styx Tribute Band concert might seem to be a perfect way to provoke the best of eye rolls and more and because of all the eye rolls, heavy sighs and never mind, Mom. 

This should be easy. One would think so, but no. Although joking about wearing an old Styx concert tee might be too meta did result in a half eye roll coupled with a really, Mom.

You’re going to write about this, aren’t you, Mom?

Well, maybe.

Fine. Make sure they know I had fun, because I did.

Of course.

:::he rolls his eyes:::

He did have fun hanging out with Mom, Dad and all those old people.

Yeah, he is also suddenly so much taller!!!

He’s rolling his eyes again right now.

playing with sharp objects

Just in case you missed the other night in the land of Laura’s social media, this happened:

Three years ago he began this adventure with all the trepidation and tears any kid might have over the idea of shots literally every day. Still, we soon settled into a routine where mom or dad and sometimes sisters and even sometimes favorite aunties have given him his daily injections. But tonight, three years and ten inches and fifty pounds or more later, he asks if he can give himself the injection. And with his Dad’s hand on his for moral support, he does it.

We might still be in complete and utter shock over this here under The Big Top y’all.

He asks the next day if we are proud of him for giving himself his own human growth hormone injection.






He ponders this.

Well, most folks who need injections of medication aren’t so eagerly doing it for themselves. His own mama, who needed to inject a subcutaneous needle into her skin every three days while pregnant with her fourth child, just wasn’t that into that until her home health nurse told her that her darling husband can learn how to do it for her.

Yeah, no.

Necessary, Yes. But c’mon, not something we are falling all over ourselves to do to our own body with a sharp needle used to pierce our own skin….I get it son. I really do. Poking yourself with a needle is hard. But you did it. You really did it!

one last time

First day of school here under The Big Top, y’all. It’s just Daniel here under The Big Top but it’s still a big deal.

Dude…he grew TWO INCHES over summer vacation!!!

Meanwhile, here we are starting 8th grade and for me, mom of an 8th grader one last time. Lots of emotions and eye rolls under The Big Top this morning as we prepped for first day of school. Family and friends only encourage me to be that insufferable 8th grad mom as I shared the prerequisite First Day of School picture on social media. If I do become that mom, I make little apology because this is 8th grade, one last time.

:::eye roll:::

Mom, it’s time for school.

If you have been following this adventure since his very first day of school, you may join me feeling all the feels right now because here we are, eighth grade life, one last time.

I promise for him to try and restrain myself.

because it just isn’t December without the head-exploding stress


Holidays, December just isn’t holidays and December without some the kind of stress that might make your head explode…or at last feel the need to pause and let out a loud, long primal scream…you just can’t believe how healing that can be sometimes…as long as you are not primally screaming in front of the kids…don’t,..just don’t. But yeah, it just isn’t December under The Big Top without some sort of stress that might either kill me or make me stronger or perhaps cause me to retreat into the back of my closet and sob just a little bit.

Yay, December!

But sure, December has been good, mostly. A few minor headaches and WTFs scattered here and there over the last 14 days but, it’s been okay.

Thanks December!

Then last night while driving home from Safeway, just FIVE MILES FROM HOME it happened. Smoke…so much smoke. Smoke billowing everywhere out of the mom-car.

Okay, December.

But, it could have been worse?


That could have happened this morning while Daniel and I were driving down to Valley Children’s for his quarterly endocrinology visit. Now THAT would have been worse.

I told myself that all day long…especially after my darling husband texted me that it was going to be minimum $500-600 fix…MINIMUM.

And December is back as it should be!

But it could be worse I mutter to myself over and over and over again.

It could be. It has been. It usually is every December. At least it feels that way.

But this, this is pretty good.

Daniel has literally grown so much in the last five months that he is for the first time EVER plotting on the normal growth chart!



Okay, fine, he is plotting on 1%ile of the growth curve of boys his age. But he is on the curve and out of 100 13 3/4 year old boys, he is taller than one of them…and I saw that kid at my son’s school awards assembly last month…literally. No, really, there is literally a 7th grade boy in his class who is shorter than Daniel…barely.

Yes, my car is broke down but my son is finally growing in a very good way and I am so unbelievably, ridiculously happy.

Thankfully, December and son’s endocrinologist tempers that glee because glee like that needs to be tempered because it is December.

Dr. K. informs us that as of January 31st, she is leaving the endocrine practice at Valley Children’s in Madera. We can stay and have Daniel start all over again with a new endocrinologist or we can follow Dr. K.

So we will no longer enjoy our two hour drive down to Madera 3-4 times a year with at least one guaranteed overnight stay?

Absolutely correct.

We will now be driving 2 1/2 hours 3-4 times a year with at least one guaranteed overnight stay to Fresno as she joins the UCSF Pediatric Endocrinology faculty and practice out of Community Regional Medical Center.

It’s likely going to be time to consider the need for a new mom car soon.

Yay! December!

Things could be worse. Things could be so much worse as so many past Decembers have proven. Standing in the lobby of Valley Children’s looking up at this great tree, as Daniel and I have done literally every December for the last five Decembers, I tell myself that I can really let myself get carried away with the stress of paying the $$$ to the mom car in December along with other December stuff and following Dr. K.’s practice after years of good and familiarity at Valley Children’s.

I could.

I really could.

Everyone else does on those days with some good and some bad and it is perfectly acceptable…especially when it is December.

But no. Today I am going to focus on this good, this incredible good that has never, ever been a reality for my son here under The Big Top. Today I will focus on the wonderful awesome that my son plots on the normal growth curve for boys.



photo dump: the thankful edition

It’s Thanksgiving Day so I’m going to give thanks, as one should on Thanksgiving Day…and every other day.

For Thing 1 and Thing 2, generously provided by my employer and a co-worker who has no use for the 12 pound turkey they handed him as we left work early in the morning last week. Yes, I named them, as I do every year. Deal with it! Meanwhile, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are currently soaking in an icy cold, brine-y bath waiting to be properly roasted.

For bringing sexy back in the way that only Personal Protective Equipment can. This look is hot. No. It really is hot.

The perfect pick-me-up after running 4 miles before you work your 4th 12 hour night shift in a week. Hurray for Snickers and for running and for a busy, busy full NICU which means work!

For kick-ass looking compression socks to wear after running a few miles before working hard on your feet for 12 hours all night long. Oh, and, give thanks for the break relief RN who makes the moment where you get to put your feet up for 20 minutes.

Be thankful for the 2 hour nap you had after working all night before you take the time to drive your favorite Princess 125 miles in the rain and wind and fog across a couple bridges during drive time Bay Area traffic so that she can attend two hours of Princess training.

It’s totally worth it when she sends you this picture of her being fitted for the wig of her favorite princess, one of a few who she will be portraying. Yes, you can almost hear her squeeing with delight from the only open cafe in the area where you sat and waited during those two hours. Worth it. Totally. So was her telling you how much she loved you and was glad you were driving as you drove across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in the 0.25 mile visibility fog.

This card with this name on it which we waited for for 12 years because no matter what the social workers tell you, it isn’t as easy as it should be to get your child’s social security card with his name on it after the adoption is finalized because government agencies can be so frustratingly dumb sometimes. But not Maria at the Manteca Social Security Administration office. Sure it took her several hours to figure a way around the bureaucratic walls but she did it because, as she humbly put it, “there’s always a way around walls.”

Remembering when you said you couldn’t wait for your kid to outgrow his shoes and clothes before they wear out when you see that the shoes that you just got him are too small. Human Growth Hormones, we are so thankful especially when you see your son’s height and weight plotted at <1%ile on the growth chart because look at that, the kid is almost finally plotting on the normal growth chart!

Pretty scarves and jewelry and makeup and clothes that flatter what your mama gave you, no matter what your age is, that you wear for no other reason than because you want to; which has nothing to do with completely unwanted attention from any stranger who imagines that you got all dressed up because you want their attention.



Taking the time to catch part 3 of the 4 part Hunger Games Trilogy with this child of yours because that is what the two of you do together after the husbands and kids are asleep.

Running this for the third holiday season because otherwise you might just murder someone…or at least given them a really big hug with your hands around their neck because it is the holidays and because you like to eat and to drink because it is the holidays and because you like to run…a lot.

Moments of relaxation and the cat who makes you sit still and enjoy them. I plan to do just that today after I run a 10K and get Thing 1 and Thing 2 into the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!