Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Real Christmas Newsletter Excerpt....

Hi girls,

There will not be Christmas cards sent from my house this year, can't do it. But for my closest girlfriends I decided to compose a "real" Christmas card in honor of our favorite hearts at home mom, Julie Barnhill. So, here goes...

My true feelings about the reality of Christmas carols...

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS? Also known as the twelve most stressful days when on top of our normal lives, we have to "do" Christmas.
PEACE ON EARTH? Let me think about that...mmm....NO I don't think so, my kids will be home for 16 days.
SILENT NIGHT? I doubt it, relatives coming, last minute gift wrapping, tossing and turning because I may have forgot something, and those inevitable sleepovers. .
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? Your husband snoring so you can sneak into bed.
JOY TO THE WORLD? Yes, I don't have to pack lunches, get up early, or help with homework for two weeks.


Thanks for your true friendship all year long.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Gratitude Campaign

It's not about politics: Democrat vs Republican vs Moderate vs Independent...
It's not about the federal budget...
It's not about talking heads on nighttime TV...

It's about REAL men...
It's about REAL women...

Next time you see a man or woman clothed in the military colors of the United States of America...STOP...and take the time to express your gratitude.
It doesn't change your political views...
It doesn't balance the budget...
It doesn't shut the mouths of the endless pundits...

It's simple grace. And simply the right thing to do.

The Story of How it all got started

The Seattle Seahawks, in stadium at Qwest Field and on
The Pittsburgh Steelers, in-stadium at Heinz Field
The Seattle Storm, in-arena at The Key Arena
The Seattle Supersonics, in-arena at The Key Arena
The Portland Trail Blazers, in-arena at the Rose Quarter
KOMO 4 News,
KING 5 News,
AM 570 KVI, the Kirby & Co. show

My Christmas Wish List (may or may not require actual cash purchase)

  • Lifetime subscription to Publishers Weekly.
  • A sound machine that truly masks hotel noises.
  • Improvisation training with the guys from Who's Line Is It.
  • $100.00 weekly credit at Barnes & Noble for reference material (and occasional Allure magazine.)
  • MacBook Pro (as lightweight as possible) loaded with a gadzillion bytes of MacPro-stuff which can NOT be messed around with and/or otherwise inadvertently erased by a twelve-year old formerly referred to as "my son."
  • All my lost email files, folders, and sub-folders; see also, above
  • Lifetime working relationship with patient GeekSquad type man or woman who can teach me how to use (i.e. turn on) my MacBook Pro
  • Ditto patient Blackberry type
  • All published works/writing/musings of:
    • Dr. Francis Schaeffer
    • Frederick Buechner
    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • 7N580 Wagontire Rd., St. Charles, IL (Hey, every girl needs a place to call home)
  • Airbrush make-up tool for use with High-Def cameras and TV screens.
  • In-home studio tricked out with all the broadcasting tools and high-quality details for recording and hosting a radio show
  • Official home office completely set apart from the rest of my domestic domain (i.e. a place I can lock the door and no one can get in!)
  • Warehousing all print/audio/video material with a third party; no more shipping details! no more delivery fiasco!
  • Hire top-tier people to produce branding media concepts (which are about to make my brain explode.)
  • Snappy set of virtually indestructible "I Can Spot It Four Conveyor Belts Away!" lime green luggage.
  • A new Bible--a retro version with wide margins and blank pages for documenting life, faith, and everything in-between
  • Lifetime supply of Pepsi
  • Entire audio teaching library of Dr. James MacDonald
  • 300 cc's of Restylane

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just Say "YES!" to Ordinary Christmas Letters

Enough of those long-winded, read-how-fabulous-and-extraordinary my family is Christmas card newsletters/epistles! For the past eleven months I've encouraged tens of thousands of women (because we seem to be the wackos creating most of those fictionalized newsletters; not men) to write an altogether delightfully real update this Season. Here's one such real world example. God bless us everyone!

Merry Christmas 2007! We've had a wonderful year! My kids' favorite hobby seems to be disintegrating me into a screaming maniac these days. I've discovered a new 'escape' though;
I lock myself in the bathroom and pretend the pounding on the door is a passing car with a good sound system.

I've read a lot about 'Cocktail playgroups' and so I'm thinking of starting one in January if I can muster up enough energy. With all my "free time" as a stay at home mom, I've started reading a new series of books without pictures, in between watching Oprah and eating bon-bons, much to the envy of my working friends.

My new best friend, the pest control guy, stops by once a month for a chat about 'grooming insects vs. non-grooming insects', which is the highlight of my adult conversation as long as you don't count the postman. Mine just returned from three weeks of sick leave. I really missed her. The replacement guy just isn't friendly. I'm glad she came back, I was about to sabotage the washer so I could talk to the repairman.

Well, I have to go now, Oprah's almost on, and I need to brush my teeth and get dressed before the kids and my husband get home, I may even start dinner if I can find the phone number for the pizza guy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


My apologies...a glitch in my system hasn't allowed me to post to my blogspot for three weeks now. But I'm back and just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's a quick one tough mother thought as you load up your van today and hit those 4:00 am sales for whacked-out consumers (btw, I'm way to old for such a thing--I'll amble my way in around December 23rd and find something that works for everyone on my list) and it is this: Don't lose your mind during these next four weeks! Don't try and make up for all relational dsyfunction by charging gifts you can't afford for people you don't particularly like and say no, and say it often...

"No, I'm not buying you the New! Improved! Nintendo/PlayStation/Strawberry Shortcake Galactic-Mafia-Be-a-Pimp-for-a-Day game station and accompanying $125.00 games!"

"No, we will not event attempt to hit five different homes with five different sets of relatives in a five-hour time frame!"

"No, we will not feel guilty about the above no."

"No, I'm not going to count the carb/fat/calorie levels of the plate in front of me...or someone else!"

"No, I will not choose to defile the sanctity of the holiday dinner table hour to hash out all my pent-up issues with my brother and/or sister."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fright Night

More likely to resemble a paparazzi snapshot at today's Halloween get-up for girls is frightening. Scarier yet, parents actually buy this junk. Forget the days of princesses and tiara's--you're more likely to spot a wanna-be Paris Hilton decked out in incarceration-stripes with accompanying plunging neckline and cropped up-to-there hemline. Needless to say--but I will anyway--when it comes to sense and sensibility during Halloween the less your ten-year old daughter resembles someone off the cover of a tabloid the better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BIG NEWS: Me and DC's NUMBER ONE Morning Radio: The Jack Diamond Show

Kicking off November 7th at 7:20 EST, this One Tough Mother will join the fabulous programming team at 107.3 FM with refeshingly real, slightly irreverent, but always relevant expert parenting advice.

And what a show this is my friend: NUMBER ONE with women 25-54 (MY PEOPLE!) and top three with persons 25-54. Trust me, it doesn't get much better than this!

Stay tuned for more information and be sure to listen LIVE! November 7th via radio or internet

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?!

Every morning and evening I scour through news sights looking for stories which impact us both as mothers and a mothering culture. This one nearly knocked me off my One Tough Mother feet--despite a certain level of cynicism wrought over nearly two decades of parenting.

It's unfathomable to me that any parent--any mother--would sit quietly by and allow such madness as follows to exist within their school system and district. I've never advocated a "placard-waving-slogan-protesting" lifestyle...but if news like this doesn't have you looking for your wide-tip Sharpie, I don't know what will.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.

The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

There are no national figures on how many middle schools, where most students range in age from 11 to 13, provide such services.

"It's very rare that middle schools do this," said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.

The Portland School Committee voted 5-2 for the measure.

Chairman John Coynie voted against it, saying he felt providing the birth control was a parental responsibility. The other no vote came from Ben Meiklejohn, who said the consent form does not clearly define the services being offered.

Opponents cited religious and health objections.

Diane Miller said she felt the plan was against religion and against God. Another opponent, Peter Allen, said he felt it violated the rights of parents and puts students at risk of cancer because of hormones in the pill.

A supporter, Richard Verrier, said it's not enough to depend on parents to protect their children because there may be students who can't discuss things with their parents.

Condoms have been available since 2002 to King students who have parental permission to be treated at its student health center.

About one-fourth of student health centers that serve at least one grade of adolescents 11 and older dispense some form of contraception, said Mohan, whose Washington-based organization represents more than 1,700 school-based centers nationwide.

At King Middle School, birth control prescriptions will be given after a student undergoes a physical exam by a physician or nurse practitioner, said Lisa Belanger, who oversees Portland's student health centers.

Students treated at the centers must first get written parental permission, but under state law such treatment is confidential, and students decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive.

Five of the 134 students who visited King's health center during the 2006-07 school year reported having sexual intercourse, said Amanda Rowe, lead nurse in Portland's school health centers.

A high school in Topeka, Kan., on Wednesday stopped providing free condoms to students after district officials learned of the month-old program. The district has a policy against providing contraceptives.

God forbid any of us remain silent when it comes to our children. And, yes, you should read that as "children."

NOT little adults.

NOT pre-adults.

But children. Cognitively, developmentally, psychologically, and good grief, sexually! Do I really have to explain it?! Eleven, twelve, and thirteen year olds are children. I am the mother of a twelve-year son. A twelve-year old who balks at scooping the poop out of the cat litter box. A twelve year old who is in NO WAY WHATSOEVER capable or responsible in recognizing the big picture realities of sexual choices. And no, it's not because I haven't spoken to him or the result of my refusing to have him learn about the technicalities of hormones and such.

No, he doesn't get the Big Picture because....fasten your seatbelt....he is a child.

It's time to stand up (once again) and face the giant of out-of-control school boards and school administrations and systems. There's no way in creation you or I should allow ourselves to set back and condone a school--any school in any district--to disperse condoms, birth control pills, (gads, I can't believe I'm even typing these words in regards to middle-school children!) or anything remotely linked to the sexual (and therefore spiritual) health of children.

It's time to step up and be the Mom.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And You Are?..........

Someone has to be the boss but many times its not Mom who steps up. And when that happens it's bad for her kids, bad for her, and bad for the general public at large. Think not? Well, consider the alternative...which, by the way, can be observed and verified while cruising through the local aisles of your nearest grocery store, Box-Mart, or former favorite eating spot:

Ambivalent Mom: Poor thing...sometimes I just want to shake her and scream, "Quit being so darn skittish and DO something!" This Shake-n-Scream urge generally awakens after observing Ambivalent Mom's older child attempting to shove his younger sibling beneath a shopping cart basket and hearing the cries of, "Stop! You're hurtin' me. I don't want to go under the cart, etc." All the while noting Ambivalent Mom's reluctance to act...move...or pry Damien away from his little brother.

Expletive Mom: Oh, come on, we've all heard her. Vocal blue-streak streaming LIVE over teeming masses at Box-Mart or the youth soccer tourney. "I told you to pick up your *#&@! cleats while we were walking out of the ^&%! door, so don't look at me like it's my #*&! fault.

Oblivious Mom: Not to be confused with Ambivalent Mom, everyone BUT Oblivious Mom sees and hears and feels motivated to do something about her children. Perhaps you sat next to her last time you went out to eat with your husband or friend while OM's child ran about nearly tackling the wait staff or her teenagers spoke so loud and obnoxiously that you couldn't hear a word your companion spoke. (You know who you are! And I sat next to you at Red Lobster in 1999.)

We are such a mess sometimes as a mom, aren't we? But we don't have to remain ambivalent, cursing, or oblivious to our role as a mom. We can step up and start speaking and living some OTM reality. Here's one tip for you to activate in your home--do it and let One Tough Mother confidence begin.

Speak Truth
For years and years the following truth has been embedded into my children's little brains anytime they wished to usurp my "this is the way it's going to be" rulings. Feel free to follow suit:

Me: "Kristen/Ricky/Patrick, who's the boss?"
Child: "You are." (Usually said with abject sadness)
Me: "Kristen/Ricky/Patrick, who's going to win?"
Child: "You are." (Always said with resignation)
Me: "Kristen/Ricky/Patrick, why am I going to win?"
Child: "Because you're the boss." (Sighing gloomily and walking away)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Insatiable Carnivore Culture

It happened.

She lost custody of her two young sons and somewhere lost amidst the cacophony of competing headlines and scrolling "Breaking News Alerts," there is a family--an altogether REAL flesh and blood family composed of people (grandmother, grandpa, aunt, cousins, and extended life-long friends) not unlike you or me.

Such news has brought all manner of interest to the title of my newest book, One Tough Mother, as producers, anchors, and hosts, consider the seeming infinite interest in motherhood gone wrong. I look forward to speaking boldly of the ten life-changing non-negotiables which equip young and old mothers alike to step up and lead their children with confidence and graceful authority. As well as trust my words will perhaps reach the heart and life of a broken young mother and those hurting around her.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Price of Failing to Step Up

Like many of you reading these pages, I live in a community where under-age drinking is quite prevalent. Oh, the local D.A.R.E. program does it's yearly school thing but over the past twelve years of our living here children (yes, children, not mini-adults as some would seek to have you view them) have been caught drinking and parents have been slapped on the wrist for providing the alcohol, having it accessible to children, or looking the other way. So much for accountability and responsibility.

More than once, over the last five years of active teenage parenting, I have looked at my husband and honestly asked, "Are we the only sane parents!?" Oh, I know there are others--Anne, Dennis, Cynthia, Mark, Gary, Darla, and hundreds more--but sometimes it feels as if a warped Parallel Parenting Universe composed of mindless "can't-see-the-big-picture" fathers and mothers make up the majority of supposed adults.

Sigh. I'm sick of reading headlines and captions such as the one in the opening of this post.

What's wrong with us as adults?!

When did the safety of our children and others people's children come to mean so little?

When did we lose our brain and forfeit our soul.

For the love of the Creator when did we abdicate so thoroughly the role of Protector and Nurturer?

In my community several years ago a boy barely into his teens was dropped off in a cemetery by his equally drunken "buddies" to sleep off a serious night of binge drinking. It was winter time in the state of Illinois and after hours passed-out in the unrelenting cold this boy--this child--froze to death.


I've never been able to (and I pray I never will) shake that reality from my heart and mind. He was just a child--thirteen, maybe fourteen, years old. He should have been home playing Nintendo or flopped on the couch watching ESPN. We as a community should have been outraged and grieved and changed. Perhaps as individuals we were but as a community not enough to say, "Enough!"

We've dealt with these matters in our family and I'm no, "My babies would never think of taking a drink of alcohol," wacko-Mom here. No, I'm a realist when it comes to such matters--but that doesn't mean I capitulate and give up the battle.

Yes, teens are going to try their best to drink if they want to drink, take drugs if they want to take drugs, and a myriad of countless other things, but gads, that doesn't mean we should have Open Bar night in the family room and serve up shots. Nor give up the parental ship all together.

And when a parent DOES allow and/or encourages such asinine, illegal, and dangerous action and behavior by underage children, well, nothing short of being held accountable and judged to the fullest extent of the law should occur.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kate McCann's Journal Entries: ...and the truth shall get you arrested

I've been diligently following the story of missing four-year old Madeline McCann and read the following news comments in a September 13, 2007, online edition of Time magazine:

On May 3, nine days before her fourth birthday, Madeleine McCann, a British girl on vacation with her parents in Portugal, disappeared. She hasn't been found in more than four months despite one of the most intensive and far-flung missing-person searches in history. This past spring and summer, Europe and much of the rest of the globe became fixated on the disappearance, which carries both the international breadth of the Diana tragedy and the hypersentimental, at times prurient fascination that Americans brought to the unsolved case of another little blond girl, JonBenét Ramsey.The Pope and even bigger global celebrities--David Beckham and J.K. Rowling among them--have taken an interest in the search for Madeleine. People around the world have given more than $2 million to a private investigative fund begun by Drs. Kate Healy McCann and Gerry McCann, Madeleine's parents. Yet many Americans have only a vague sense of Madeleine's case and why it has mesmerized so many for so long. Only in the past few days, when it emerged that her parents might be charged with accidentally killing her, has Madeleine's image begun to appear with regularity in the U.S. media.

On September 7, Portuguese authorities named both parents as suspects and within a brief amount of time Kate McCann's (mother of Madeline) personal diary entries were being examined by Portuguese investigators as well as being quoted online in the court of public opinion.

I literally cringed upon reading the first online heading:

Kate McCann's diary 'tells of struggle to control Madeleine'

Look, I'm an ocean (or two) away from the all the details and I'm not about to purport to know what's-what when it comes to the investigation of this yet another horror story of loss and every parents nightmare. All I know is gleaned from what I read in online news articles and what I hear on television.

Clearly, the facts of the case are for the authorities to settle. However, I literally cringe upon consideration of a mother's personal journal/diary musings being copied, printed, and quoted for public consumption--especially given the fact that up until this moment, Kate McCann has not been officially charged with specific crimes against her daughter. Nor have these diary documents been presented against her in an official court of law. No, her words were filed away in the confines of her journal; read and copied by authorities; and then leaked to journalists.

Can you even begin to imagine YOUR journal entries made during the frustrating, weary, and difficult years of motherhood being read and dissected? Analyzed and judged? I want this little girl found as much as the next mother reading these words. And I understand ALL things must come under minute scrutiny to accomplish the end goal. I understand...but God forbid any one of us stand convicted based on our gut-wrenchingly authentic confessions and struggles squirreled away in a journal or computer document alone.

Friday, September 21, 2007

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention

I'm typing from my Gaylord Palm Resort balconey view room in semi-sunny (a tornado touched down just fifty miles from here last night) Florida. Over 4,000 women in leadership positions have converged sans children for three days and nights of training, fellowship, food, and frivolity. Ahhh....sweet!

Last night I spoke with a couple hundred of those wonderful women and reconnected at my book and product table regarding matters of the heart and home. You know stuff like toddlers refusing to poop in the potty, strong-willed toddlers (and teenagers); and mothes finding REAL LIFE-CHANGE from their anger due to the material and honest discussion offered in my first book, She's Gonnal Blow: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Check this out

Sometimes One Tough Mother simply needs to be reminded--gently reminded--of the glorious insanity of those earlier parenting years. Click on the video frame of a blue-shirted dad playing a guitar to your right under the title, "Pachelbel Bedtime" and enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2007


I watched the opening and just finished reading through a dozen or so "reviews" regarding Britney Spear's Sunday night come-back performance on the MTV Video Music awards in Las Vegas.


From the moment her eyes made contact with the camera, every Tough cell in me wanted to jump through the fiber optic cables (and/or whatever gets the image from there to here) and rescue a young woman imploding moment by moment on stage. To rescue a young mother of two little boys with words of hope and One Tough Mother truth.

The magazines, gossip sites, and sorry stand-up comedians who have reveled in her fall will no doubt continue with their vapid, useless, and soul-killing comments. But for those who have known grace (and please tell me we are many) there was no thrill or glee noting her...

vacant eyes,
lethargic and stilted dance moves,
forced, tired and over-played sexuality.

So, today, as you're going about your routine, mundane, and oh-so-blessed everyday life as a mom, think of Britney and pray for her. Pray for all the details which we need not know about via Star magazine or Pray for her own mother, Lynne Spears, and for their relationship. Pray Britney will discover her true worth apart from sculpted abs or the fleeting acclaim of an audience.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ricky Neal at (nearly) 18

Okay, this will totally out me age-wise but here goes....Remember the television dramatic series, James at 15? Hmm, just as I suspected. James aired in 1977 and my parents wouldn't let me watch the show (One Tough Parent censorship!) but I remember browsing through my best-friend's sisters Tiger Beat magazine and noticing what a cutie Lance Kerwin was.

I haven't thought about that show since, well, probably 1978, but after a late-night conversation with my oldest son, Ricky Neal, I thought of that character. Ricky is making his way...figuring out who he is and which direction he wants to take once the high school graduation hoopla is over and done. And he's considering--seriously considering the United States Marines.

Oh, dear. Talk about a One Tough Mother learning curve!

I'm learning one tough mother can't dictate to their quickly approaching official adult status eighteen-year old son, "Uh, you certainly do not have permission to join the Corps! Now go to your room until I tell you it's safe to come out."

Nor can I write a letter to future Commanding Officers of the U. S. Marines requesting any future deployments of a Marine who just happened to spring from my womb to be somewhere nice and safe--say, right here in his hometown.


This is a dramatic series to be played out in our home and family. This is Ricky Neal at (nearly) 18--desiring a life of nobility and leadership opportunities. And this is his One Tough Mother at 42--learning how to step up and be the mom by wisely and steadily learning how and when to let go. Far from easy, mind you, but nothing of lasting relational value ever is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

You Gotta Love It

Well, if any of you have even remotely wondered if your dear, sweet, adorable, toddler spawnling could be ma--manip--yes, manipulating you, take a peek at the laughter inducing video offered to your right. Click on the second screen (black and white image) and just watch this Oscar award winning performance. What a hoot! You shall "see" the truth and the truth will set you One Tough Mother free!

Disclaimer: I don't know what the heck the last video offered is supposed to be about. It's a strange one. I don't get to choose which videos accompany my Oscar nominated choice so just ignore the spawnling in the red devil suit. Weird.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Coming to a Radio Station Near You

I spent the better part of the morning recording multiple 60-second spots for your One Tough Mother listening pleasure. I'll post details and such as I gather them from the production team. If you happen to hear my voice over the airwaves or via cyber-communication, be sure to contact those responsible and let them know you enjoyed it and would love to hear more.

More than anything I'm holding out for one day hosting my own talk show. Be it television or radio--but I really like radio. Radio is personal and it doesn't matter one bit what I'm wearing nor what my current jean size might be. It doesn't matter to me and it doesn't matter to you--that's the best part. All you have to do is listen while you work or play or veg out over a long weekend. All you have to do is hear yourself in my stories and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are not alone in any manner whatsoever.

So, dear blog-o reader.....if you're a visionary and/or broadcast producer looking to put together a kick-butt interactive talk-show format of refreshingly real and relevant material for 21st century women...CALL NOW (309-775-4331).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Here's to You!

Here's a shout-out to all those mothers doing the right things, saying the right things, and maintaining One Tough Mother non-negotiables...

You're Fabulous!
You're the Best!
You're making a difference!
You're...well, you're weary aren't you?
Yep, I thought so.

Saying "no" time and time again (even though you know you're right) can wear you down.

Choosing to show up in your child's life and maintaining "I'm the Mom" authority and leadership (even though you'd prefer to check out, sit yourself on the couch, grab a bag of Lay's Sour Creme and Onion, and turn over to 'Scott Baio's 45 & Single') can wear you down.

And going to bed each evening knowing you get to do it all again, well, as guilty as we may feel to admit, it can wear you down.

I don't really have any magic solutions to all the OTM reality but I will share this with you...

It's worth it and you're not the only mom worn out and ready to wave the white flag!
That's why we need one another. That's why we have this place to come to--24/7--to find a respite from the day-to-day monotony of being present. That's why I wrote One Tough Mother.

To encourage you to stay with it because twenty years down the road--you won't regret what you did right. (You may regret the disproportionate amount of white hair growing on your head but that's another issue--that's another blogsite.)

Twenty years from today you will look back on all those times you stood firm.

Twenty years from today your children will remember a smidgen of the words you spoke, but you, One Tough Mother, will never regret the infinite amount of love, actions, responsibility, and grace, your being present in their lives poured into their lives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

OTM vs The Tweenager

What should have taken about fifteen minutes tops turned into a four-hour chore for my twelve year old son...

Late last evening I stepped outside to put some pork chops on the grill when I noticed my husband pulling weeds out of a pile of pea gravel next to our sad little excuse for a garage. I noticed him and then noticed Patrick the Tweenager shooting hoops about three-feet from his working father.

"Hey, you!" I shouted, "Get over there and help your dad get those weeds out of there so we can move the gravel elsewhere."

Patrick the Tweenager stopped dribbling just long enough to toss a smirky grin my way and then flippantly replied, "Helllllo, Mom, I'm working on my lay-ups." Dribble, dribble, dribble.

Oh, no he didn't.

Heads up shout-out to all readers: This One Tough Mother doesn't "do" smirky and/or flippant. Let's just say he was pulling weeds pretty quickly after. But here's the deal, he wouldn't shut-up while doing so. It was "stupid" this and "Stupid Ricky (a/k/a his older brother) never does anything" that, and I heard myself say once, then twice, "Patrick, close your mouth and just do your job."

Sigh. He no understand One Tough Mother-ish.

So he spouted off one more time and I clearly dictated the following: "If you open your mouth one more time to say absolutely anything you will be hauling the gravel out from this spot over to the other side of the garage where your father and I want it--by yourself. One more word and Ricky won't be helping. One more word and you'll guarantee a two to three hour work day for yourself bright and early tomorrow."

He no even try to understand One Tough Mother-ish.

I believe the word, his last word, was "Ooooooo."

And so it went.

"Congratulations, you just succeeded in creating a mountain out of a mole hill and I shall be waking you up at 8:00 am to complete the remainder of this task." He sulked-- Tweenager style--to his room (i.e. slammed the back porch door, muttered incoherently, slammed his bedroom door, muttered incoherently) and I didn't see his sulky face for another nine hours. (Thank you, Jesus!)

Now, here's the moral of the story. The "Ripley's Believe it or Not" wrap-up, if you will. I awoke said Tweenager at 7:45 am the following morning. He got out of bed. Ate a bowl or two of cereal and then went outside and did the remainder of his work.

Sans complaint.
Sans arguing.
Sans snarky adolescence snit of attitude.

And while Patrick the Tween would never admit this aloud, I know it to be true: he knew exactly who he was dealing with--One Tough Mother--and decided it just wasn't worth the effort to go against her.

So too your children as you firmly step up and be the One Tough Mother your children need and your sanity requires.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It Works!

Just had this pop into my email Inbox a few minutes ago:

Julie, I just finished listening to your workshops from this year's Hearts at Home conference the other night. I was about to shave my head as I am the OTM of a 9, 5, 3, and 1 year old. But I calmed down and put on your CDs instead and knew I was alright because I am the Boss!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Who's One Tough Mother?

For the past ten years I've found myself writing to and speaking with tens of thousands of women (many of them moms) and time and time again I'm struck by their tales of feeling out of control and somewhat (!?) ineffective when it comes to dealing with precocious toddlers, headstrong preschoolers, increasingly mouthy grade-schoolers, junior high know-it-alls or hormonally challenged teenagers. Sometimes all five in one family!

(Note: Oh, dear. Let's bow our collective cyber heads and pray reeeaaaaal hard for these mothers. Come to think of it, let's offer two prayers because I know a lot of you offered up this little sincere ditty: "Thank God that's not me.")

These moms live and hash out real life as far away as Debrencen, Hungary; Beijing, China; Stevenage, London; and as close as Brunswick, MO, and Bushnell, IL. I have to tell you, they've all lamented, wailed, gnashed their teeth, and/or otherwise pleaded for a mothering lifeline. And a large percentage have simply wanted me to tell them why they shouldn't just pack up the spawnlings and ship them off to Life Camp; forgot that sorry "day" camp or "summer" camp stuff, these women are desperate!

Here's what I believe, you don't have to (nor were you ever meant to) go through your days, weeks, months, and before you know it, years feeling as though you're anything but confident and in charge as a mom. You don't have to feel your life is worthy of a British Nanny 911 feature film. (As if a single one-hour program could fix all your "issues"!) You don't have to sit around waiting for someone other than you to step up and take the lead.

It's not only possible for you to step up and take charge of your kids, it way past time to do so. That's where this web site and my writing/speaking/resources come in. See, as I've made my way through nearly two decades of my own children's developmental stages--infant, toddler, pre-school, adolescence, early young adulthood--I've figured out what can't be put off, undermined, or denied.

As a result of those twenty-years, I've discovered and become convinced of what is absolutely, positively, without apology necessary. I've become convinced of the "non-negotiables" every mom needs to implement in her life and that of her children.

It is possible to step up and be the mom!
It is possible to have a settled confidence as a mom.
It is possible to hold fast your ground and steadily create a self-assured and healthy authoritative presence in the life of your child.

And I'm going to help you do it! So be sure to regularly check back and chime in with comments, poll casting, and any questions you may have for this One Tough Mother.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tag! I'm it

Rachelle, writer, former editor, and all-round wonderful friend, has requested answers to the following questions. Be sure to click your way over to and check out her answers and great writing as well.

1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?
This one is easy: in 1993 I typed the opening paragraphs for an intense and dark themed work of fiction. It's unlike anything I've written to date...waaaaay unlike. It will give voice to matters of which we're afraid to speak and doesn't promise or necessarily deliver some neat and tidy wrap up. Evil--true evil, seldom can be boxed and processed as such.

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with? Daniel Silva's newest release (July 24th) "The Secret Servant." Man, oh, man, I love this guy's stuff!

3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)? An IBM Selectric, circa 1981.

4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month? 8-12

5. What's your favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned? Well, I confess I still miss my yellow legal pad machines. Computers are all so bland and so, well, non-favorite inducing for me. I guess my current Dell which I've somehow managed to figure out how to autosave and back up my writing in progress.

6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read? I'm more a non-fiction bibliophile but without a doubt years the years between 1932-1949 always capture my attention when picking up a fiction work.

7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)? I could wax on about this forever so I'll contain myself. The one book would be The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Sigh. How I wanted to have two brothers and a sister to create a home in the woods near a babbling cool brook. How I wanted to purchase milk in a glass bottle and keep it chilled in the aforementioned chilled running water. How I wanted to live in an abandoned box car and decorate it with nearly discovered treasures. I wanted to be Violet...sweet, strong, and loving Violet.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Let the Polling Begin

I thought it would be interesting and hopefully both a bit encouraging & challenging to see how "refreshingly real" moms answer the question posed today on One Tough Mother. Perhaps your answer changes according to the mood you're in or the status of your hormone levels (or lack thereof.) Maybe you'd answer one way for one child and another for the kiddo that just seems to have a gift for pushing every one of your pushover mom buttons.

Whatever the case may be click the one(s) most appropriate to your probable response or actual real mom experience. And while you're here, go ahead and post a comment letting us know how an actual OTM moment went with your child. Give us the good, the bad, and especially the One Tough Mother ugly! *smile* After all, it's all about coming clean with our missteps and pressing forward to become the firm, kind, but in-control "I'm the boss" moms we were meant to be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

They're Everywhere

This week you could tune in and watch them via The Today Show or Good Morning America--moms (oh, dads were part of the problem too but for the sake of our blogging perspective I'll keep it focused on the XX-chromosome parenting unit) who just don't quite know what to do with their rambunctious and oh-so-headstrong toddlers and preschoolers.

Grown women.
Educated women.
Working and at-home women.

Demographics or location meant nothing as I watched, listened to their lamenting and fairly willed myself to magically appear in their living rooms and kitchens shouting,
"You gotta be One Tough Mother!"

Methinks I shall have adequate material for years and years to come. Then again, if moms everywhere (and dads are welcome also) will only read and implement the SANE and SENSIBLE non-negotiable material I write and speak about in One Tough Mother, maybe it'll only be a few more months or years.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Hey, You! Nice to have you stop in here at my newest blogging endeavor...One Tough Mother. You'll see things are a bit new (i.e. still lots of work to do) but I know you're going to enjoy bookmarking this spot and checking in and out throughout your, well, your days, weeks, months, and years of taking on children and mothering.

You'll find updated news hits informing you of newsworthy One Tough Mother hi's-and-low's dealing with (or not as the case may be) spawnlings across the world. As well as additional thoughts and cheering-on from me, your favorite One Tough Mother.

HTML Madness

Gads! It just took me 45-minutes to figure out how to configure a clickable web link from my home web site to here. (There are perfectly good reasons why some of us are less than capable when it comes to matters of the cyber-net kind.)

Nevertheless, I did it.
I stuck with it.
Googling and surfing my way through reference heaven I remained, as always, tenacious and unwilling to concede defeat. One could consider it a blessing or a curse, I suppose. This unrelenting drive to figure things out. To get things right and to get things done. It's Monday so I'll go with blessing. But come, oh, Thursday, I'll probably be singing a different tune.

Anyone else like me out there reading these words?
Anyone else prone to sinking their teeth into a project, goal, or, well, life?
Any other all-or-nothing types?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Speaking of Cheese Dips

Major crisis here on the home front.

I am a voracious consumer of white Mexican cheese dip. I travel to the local El Rancherito, belly up to the bar (no smart-aleck comments, please), and ask for a shot of the stuff far more times than I should. But here's the deal...I can not duplicate this tasty food item for home consumption for anything!

I've probably spent +$200.00 purchasing varying types of cheese that purport to deliver the delicious goods. But they don't. I've purchased and melted all manner of expensive Mexican cheeses from my groceries cooling shelves. I've tried white American cheese mixed with other stuff. I've looked online and typed in any and all "keyword" searches to can imagine. To no avail. So here it is.....for the love of all that is holy!!!!! Somebody tell me where I can purchase that fine, smooth, tasty white dip that is served in restaurants.

No cheese that melts into a greasy ball.
No cheese that has a funky grainy texture.
No cheese that is orange or off-yellow.

Just give me the stuff like they have at El Rancherito. (And yes, I've asked and they're not sharing their secret.)

Email me immediately and if it cuts the Jules Cheese Mustard, I'll post it for the entire world.

Allow me to introduce myself...again

Hmm...I'm thinking two and a-half years might be a bit long in-between posts. My apologies, really. Although I'm in to the early months of my fourth decade on earth, I still find it difficult to get done everything that needs to get done.

And there's always a Lifetime Movie Network program calling my name. Sigh.

But anyway. I'm back and it's my intention to show up quite routinely. I'm shooting for three or four posts a week, will settle for two, but promise not to go longer than two years. How's that for accountability?

There are chicken nuggets begging to be pulled from an oven right now so I'll wrap it up and be back shortly with far more interesting opines and such.