Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Rules of Being a Baseball Parent

It’s baseball season once again, which means it’s the perfect time to remind everyone of the most important rules of the sport. And I’m not talking about stuff like infield flies, here. I’m not even talking about how to be supportive without trying to relive your glory days through your kids, or why you shouldn’t yell at the poor high school kid who’s umping for your son’s game — which are all good rules.

Nope, I’m talking about those truths that veteran baseball parents know. But really, most of these can apply to any sport your child plays. Pay attention, rookies! You’ll thank me later.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Tires 101 For Dummies

I had the opportunity to visit the Cooper Tire & Vehicle Testing Center (CTVTC) in Texas last week and wow, did I learn A LOT in the couple days I was there! I feel a little stupid; I feel like I should have already known these things, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one out there who is undereducated when it comes to tires. I attribute my ignorance to the fact that I was married for 18 years to a guy who took care of all my car maintenance. I never had to give it a second thought. Also, and I think most of us fall into this category, who thinks about tires? Really, as long as your vehicle is running, who really ponders the tires on which it sits?

This happened to my tire a few months ago. It happened on my way to work in a really bad neighborhood. Thankfully, it was only inconvenient for me; it could have been disastrous. Yes, I realize it's extreme and most people would have recognized that their tire was completely bald long before it split like this. I didn't. I never considered checking my tires. I never thought about it. When the tow truck arrived, I had them take my van to Walmart where I bought one tire to replace the flat. I'm a single mom of 6 kiddos, trying to make ends meet, and I was going for the cheapest option possible. But, as is always the case, you get what you pay for.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn much about tires and tire maintenance, and I'm excited to share that information with you because there's no reason for a flat tire (like that pictured above) to happen to anyone!

Check your tires once a month

1. You can't see when your tires are low.
At the CTVTC, folks from Cooper had me walk around a truck to inspect the tires, then they asked me which one had low pressure. "The back right. No. Yes. Wait, maybe it's the front left. Yeah. No, wait. I'm not sure.Yes, definitely the front left." They had me check all the tires with a tire pressure gauge. The back right one was low. The moral of this story is that you cannot tell if a tire is low just by looking at it. By the time you can visually see that the tire is a little flat, it's significantly low on air. That is why you should check them regularly.

2.  Those little caps don't hold in the air.
These caps don't keep the air from escaping the tire, but they do keep dirt, gravel, salt, and other debris away from the valve, preventing problems with it. You should always keep the valves covered. If you're missing some caps, pick up new ones at an auto parts store.

3.  Maintain proper inflation.
Do not go by the number printed on the tire itself; that number indicates the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for the tire/vehicle. The correct amount of inflation for your tires is specified by the vehicle manufacturer and is usually shown inside the driver's door (and also in the owner's manual.)

4.  Check your tires when they're cool. 
Wait at least 3 hours after driving to get an accurate measurement of tire pressure.

5.  Use a tire gauge to measure pressure.
Make sure the slide ruler part of the tire gauge is pushed all the way in before measuring to get an accurate reading.

6.  Do not overinflate.
More is not always better. At any given time, the surface area of the tire which is in contact with the ground is about the size of your hand. (We teased the good folks at Cooper about being hand models here!) If you put too much air in the tire, you reduce the area of the tire in contact with the pavement. Less contact - less control.

7.  Save money.
Proper tire inflation leads to better fuel consumption, saving you money. It also helps you get the most potential wear out of your tires, so they don't need to be replaced as often.

8.  Inspect tire tread while checking inflation. 
Visually check your tires for signs of nails or other embedded objects, gouges, cuts, bulges, or other irregularities. Check to make sure you still have enough tread. Traction and resistance to hydroplaning is diminished as tread wears down. An easy test is to place a penny, upside down, in one of the grooves. If part of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, you're okay. If his entire head is showing, your tread is too worn and your tire needs to be replaced.

9.  Check the Wear Squares.
Cooper Tires come equipped with a number of Wear Squares on each tire. This is a super-handy, fool-proof indicator that takes the guess work out of deciding when you need to replace your tires. When your tires are brand new, you see a full square imprinted on the tire. As they wear, you see the sides of the square disappear until you're left with an "!" as a message to replace the tire.
(This video features a different tire than the one I tried out, but it has a great demonstration of the Wear Square.)

10.  Compare your tires.
Compare the Wear Squares and/or the tread on all 4 tires to determine if they're wearing evenly. Uneven wear may indicate a problem with alignment that needs to be corrected.

I hope you have found this information as helpful as I did. Stay tuned for Tires 102 for Dummies coming this week, as there was much too much information to condense into one blog post.

Cooper Tire paid for my trip to learn about their tires. The opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

Legally Blonde on Netflix

Now on Netflix: Legally Blonde! I love Reese Witherspoon and I enjoy this movie, but I think it's especially cool because I met the writer, Kiwi Smith a few years ago when I was in Hollywood for the Glamour Reel Moments movie premiere. 

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is Miss Popularity. She's the president of her sorority, dates Warner, the cutest guy on campus, and is loved by all. When her boyfriend leaves to go to Harvard and dumps her because she's too "blonde" to be accepted by his blue blood family, Elle is determined to win him back. She works to be accepted into Harvard law school, then proves to Warner, and more importantly, to herself, that she's more than just some blonde.

Me and Kiwi Smith at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood after the Glamour Reel Moments premiere.
I love movies that demonstrate a girl can be pretty, feminine, sweet and kind to everyone she meets, and still kick a little butt in the intelligence department! I enjoy watching these with my teens girls. It's important to me to teach them to believe in themselves.

What's your favorite Girl Power movie?


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

12 Photos I Guarantee No Other Parent Has on Their Phone

I was looking through the pictures on my phone the other day when I came to the conclusion that my kids are nuts. I think all parents probably feel this way at some point. (At least that’s the theory I’m going with here.) But my kids specifically? I just don’t know what goes through their heads sometimes.

What could possibly possess a 20-year-old to suction half a dozen rubber duckies to his face? And why would a 9-year-old voluntarily get into the (thankfully clean) Guinea pig’s cage? These are questions that plague me on a daily basis. See for yourself.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Standardized Tests Sucked the Love of Learning Out of My Child

You may or may not have seen this viral video of 9-year-old Sydney Smooth schooling her school board on the hypocrisy of standardized testing. As the parent of a 9-year-old daughter who is currently feeling the pressure of the FSA (Florida’s standardized test), I applaud her for speaking up to school administrators. I have a somewhat unique perspective in that I’m the parent of six kids, several of whom will be taking the FSAs this year, and I’m employed in a middle school in Florida.

As a parent, I can say with certainty that the standardized testing in Florida has sucked the love of learning right out of my daughter. As an educator, I can say that teachers aren’t any happier about this than parents are.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mako Mermaids, an H2O Adventure on Netflix

A guest post by Lexi Meehan on Mako Mermaids, an H2O Adventure now on Netflix (and she's well-qualified since she's my kid who wants to be a mermaid when she grows up!)

At first when I heard of Mako Mermaids, an H2O Adventure, I thought it was just a copy of the original H2O, but it turned out to be different, and pretty cool. I say it’s the best. I especially liked the second episode because when they were walking because they looked so funny!

Mako Mermaids, an H2O Adventure is a show all girls will like. It’s about three girls who have to protect the Moon Pool in order to be part of a pod (a pod is a group of mermaids), but a guy named Zach falls into the Moon Pool. Zach turns into a mermaid and gets powers. While he’s telling his friend about this, the three mermaids: Sirena, played by Amy Ruffle, Lyla, played by Lucy Fry, and Nixie, played by Ivy Latimer overhear him and find out. The mermaids try taking away his powers and his mermaid abilities, but . . .  (I would ruin the surprise if I told you! Watch Mako Mermaids, an H2O Adventure on Netflix for yourselves to see what happens!)

Friday, April 17, 2015

I Can't Stop Thinking About the Woman I Turned Away

One night last week, a knock sounded at my front door. My kids jumped up to answer it and I followed behind, wondering who could possibly be at my door at 8:00 on such a rainy night. I looked out over my kids’ heads to see a strange woman standing there, holding a plastic shopping bag and soaked to the core.

She said she lived across the street and started mumbling something about having to watch kittens. She asked me if I knew where some place named “Pages” was. I couldn’t figure out if the woman had been drinking or if she was just unwell, but something didn’t seem quite right.

I don’t know my neighbors across the street well, but I knew I’d never seen this woman before. I tried to clarify, “You live across the street?” She said she did. Disbelieving, I asked again, “You live right across the street there?” I pointed to the house. She insisted that she did indeed live there.


10 Things That Scare me as a Single Parent

Being a part of the single parent club is not easy. When the other parent is absent and/or you have no family around to help, it's even harder. Some days, it feels impossible to let go of the paralyzing fear that grips all single parents at one time or another.

The worry about having enough money to fill your gas tank or put food on the table, the worry that you can't be at your son's baseball game and your daughter's talent show at the same time, the worry that you'll screw up your kids more than married parents do, the worry that you'll be alone forever ... they all rob you of the joy you could experience every day.

I have to remind myself to let go of these fears almost daily ... and I admit it isn't always easy.

Here's what keeps me up at night:


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jewelry in a Candle Winner!

Thank you to everyone who ordered from Jewelry in a Candle! I hope you all enjoy your candles and love the jewelry surprises!

The random winner of the hostess credit from my Jewelry in a Candle party is . . .

Marti Danan! Congratulations! Email me at and I'll give you instructions for redeeming your credit of $22.82!

If you'd like to have your own Jewelry in a Candle party, contact Cherokee here!  

8 Times Handmade Trumped Store-Bought Gifts in My House

What do you do with those gifts your kids get you for Christmas/your birthday/Mother’s Day that aren’t exactly what you wanted? You proudly display them, of course! The best presents I’ve ever received were homemade ones from my children. The macaroni necklaces, the glitter-painted ornaments, the freshly picked dandelions, the little misspelled notes, and the handprints pressed into clay. The absolute best part about getting a homemade gift from your kids is the smile that lights up their little faces when you exclaim over the present and let them know how much you love it. I could just live on those proud little smiles! Who remembers the sweater or the coffee maker they received that one year? But ask any parent and they can probably tell you about a homemade gift from their kid that they cherish.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Can Sum up Parenting in These 13 LOL Texts From my Kids

As a mom to 6 kiddos, I've been there, done that, and have the T-shirt to prove it. On the surface, I may seem like an expert. I've given advice on breastfeeding, potty training, and temper tantrums. I've shared my knowledge on raising tweens and how much freedom is enough (and creative punishments when they push the boundaries of your well thought-out freedom parameters.)


Friday, March 6, 2015

9 Horrifying Photos of Stuff My Kids Destroyed (Including Themselves)

I have six kids. They’re creative. They’re artistic. They’re expressive. I love their talent. I do not, however, love their choice of medium when they’re creating their masterpieces. I remember losing my mind over some of my kids’ um, “artwork.” I mean, seriously losing my mind! I thought my head would explode when I’d walk into a room and see diaper cream smeared all over every surface, or the dog’s fur covered in blue yogurt, or maple syrup painted on the dining room wall.


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