A Letter To Moms & To My Younger Mama Self

Dear Moms of babies, toddlers, school-aged kiddos and teens, I have a little letter for you that celebrates you, includes a bit of reflection and maybe even feeds your Mama soul a little bit.  I hope so.

I write this to you because I just read a social media post by a super successful and well known business woman who is balancing it all with her beloved 1-year-old, whom she has fallen madly head-over-heels in love with…oh I remember that falling in love baby time!  In her statement, she basks in the love of her baby, but also wonders out loud if she could figure out how to dedicate a little more time to her career, that is also taking off at this point.  Of course, that is life’s timing.

As I started to type my response to her, I decided that I wanted to say this to all of you hard-working mothers, maybe struggling with how to balance it all and what to do with the guilt you may feel trying to do so.  I can now see those days of mine (that you are currently experiencing) in my rear view mirror.

That in itself, is strange to me.  That I am here now and that I got to this part of my almost post-kid life so fast.

It sure didn’t feel like time was moving so quickly then when I was trying to find a balance (and me time) in the haze of it all.  There were days back then that I craved to be where I am now.  I felt guilty about thinking that at times back then.  Don’t do that to yourself.

Instead do this, read my letter to you below.  I wish I had known my older self then, who now looks back with a full heart smiling…and sometimes longing for those busy hectic days with children hanging all over me to return.  If only for just a day.

That was then. I have to sometimes beg for hugs now. Bittersweet.

It is nice to have more me time now.  And sometimes it is also a bit painful as I adjust to my new normal, being almost a compete empty-nester (not quite, thankfully, but almost).

It is also nice to have my current perspective that I earned through 20 years of raising my two kids.  I am hoping that my current day thoughts in this letter to you can help those of you wondering how to do it all.  Spoiler alert – we can’t do it all and have it all every day, but maybe there are a few little tips in this letter that can help.  This is also a letter to my younger mama self…

Dear Moms (and younger me)-

You are doing a great job!  Please take a moment to pat yourself on the back!  Woot woot to you! 

Balancing it all is super hard. I know because my kids are 16 and 20 now and you truly won’t believe how fast it goes. And they won’t need you physically near as much as they prepare to leave home during the later high school years. Once they start to drive at 16, you see them a lot less.

During my years of raising kids, I went from having a big fulltime career as a marketing manager at Southwest Airlines to another big, but less demanding partime TV producer job.  Then I had several years off not working while having a toddler and an infant…oh I don’t like to call it NOT working…I worked, as you moms know!  Truly, the hardest I ever physically, emotionally and mentally worked was when I was a fulltime mom/homemaker.  I then went back to work when they were school-aged to a very fullfilling part-time TV producing/on air contributor position.  Then the teen years arrived, so I became a freelance work-from-home mother because my offspring needed to be driven ALL the time to ALL of their activities that were located EVERYWHERE.

Now my boy is away at college and my girl is 16 and driving herself, so I have more time to dedicate back to my career.  But it is always a balancing act. 

My mom once told me…

“That the one thing you can’t get back is time.”  I let that mantra guide me, as well as one a pal told me…

“When your priorities are in order, everything falls into place.”

SO true.

Being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding job.  I found that on some days I could have it all…but on many other days, I had to choose how to prioritize with help from hubs, fam and friends. You figure it out as you go along and then all of a sudden they are grown up. It is a crazy magic trick.

My best advice as you work so hard to find a balance, catch your breath and make daily decisions that affect multiple people, not just yourself anymore.  It is this…

Let your heart & your motherly instinct guide you.  Take good care of yourself.  Remember to give yourself me time, hubs (partner) time and gal pal time, too. 

AND most importantly, squeeze those little ones tight because it is so dang true when they say don’t blink! 

Back in my hectic mom days with little me time.  Energetic toddler & startled bath baby…LOL!   And now…

Me time meaning me with both of them together…that is now a hot commodity! Cherished time…then and now!


Less Blogging, More Living

Less blogging, more living.  Been blogging a lot less lately.  Some of it is due to that perfect phrase…how does it go…

“life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”

That is right on.

In the last year, I took several unexpected trips to care for family in need.  Those trips helped others, I am told and I am so glad about that, but the experience was also enriching for me, I discovered.  My head and heart both experienced a joy that comes from helping others that is unexpected and cool to feel.

Been blogging a lot less latey because my now 20-year-old son grew up way too fast and some of his years at home were spent with his Mama’s head stuck in my blog.  Yeah, I regret that now.  I always made time to be at his hockey games, school awards ceremonies, predance picture taking for the parents, etc.  But the quiet home life, with the ordinary moments that are taken for granted.  Well, some of that time was spent with my hands typing more and hugging less.  I missed some bedtime story reading as I chose to sit downstairs working on my blog instead of upstairs reading with my kids.  I didn’t do that every night, but I now regret the nights that I chose my blog over a book with my kid.

A few years back when I took those daily easily accessible hugs for granted!

This got here so fast. Unbelievable, truly.

With my second born home for only two more short years, I know better this time.

Been blogging a lot less with my hands hugging my girl more instead of my computer.  Ironically and truly typical of a teenager, there are days when she prefers to have me sitting at my computer and less standing there bugging her.

The only thing wrong with this picture is the phone in my hand. Let your phone go when you schedule your unscheduled time.

Growing up too fast, yet again.  An ordinary green juice moment and now she drives herself to buy a green juice, without me most of the time.

She doesn’t know this yet, as I didn’t know it when I was 16 so many years ago…but she will miss those annoying Mama hugs soon enough.

Teenager me back in the day not knowing just how much I would miss my Mommy when I had to start adulting.  I also didn’t know that my baby brother would be taken from us at only 22.  Cherished ordinary moments. 

Not long after leaving my own mother at 18 did I quickly discover just how much I missed my mother’s attentive touch and love that I worked hard to independently separate from during my teen years. It is a normal thing those teens do and they are supposed to do it.  So bittersweet.

But now I know to grab those hugs even if the annoyed teenager grunts and bears it.  And sometimes she even hugs pretty tight right back.  Whichever is the case, I’m not missing out this time on potential loving hugs because I chose my blog to work on instead of being present at home during those ordinary moments.

Been blogging a lot less because science says it is unhealthy to sit for long periods of time and blogging can quickly trick the mind into thinking one has only been sitting for an hour when the clock shows two hours have passed by.  Been blogging less and walking my neighborhood trails more. I am so lucky to have pretty desert trails to walk along in my hood.

Been blogging a lot less because the potential online financial returns for time spent on a blog have not been returned, which has been disappointing, but also freeing.  For those incredible bloggers who make the money producing a blog, my hat is off to you because I have learned that to make a profit, overtime hours must be put into that blog.  It is true what they say about time right now and why it is called the present. A lot of hours and travel and managing ad clients and more.

I am VERY lucky that my advertisers are super cool companies that are super nice to work with…thank you espeically to Boiron and to Toe Juice!

Been blogging less and living more because once one kid is raised and out the door, you can’t believe just how stinging that realization can be.

20 years ago, after I had my first baby, I laid in the hospital bed gazing down at my son completely head over heels in love.  I laid there carefully considering my very fulfilling fulltime career versus my new mommy role.  I discussed this with my mother, who had flown in from Maryland for the birth and after care (thank you Mom).  She listened thoughtfully and then she told me, “the one thing you can’t get back is time” and boy was she right.  I did go on to work in several awesome careers, some fulltime, some partime and some freelance.  And with each career decision I made, I considered her words and worked to find a good balance.  That never got easy, but I lived with another phrase my good friend, Lisa told me…

“when your priorites are in order, things fall into place.”

That became my mantra.  Thank you Lisa.  Family and friends.  What gifts.  Don’t miss out on those ordinary moments with these people, too.

Been blogging less because I have been living more.  Living incredibly joyful moments and experiencing some incredibly painful heartbreaks, too.  And those ordinary moments in between…I have been living those a lot more now.  Turning 50 helped with that realization, too.

Been blogging less because I made the choice to stop missing those ordinary moments at home.  Got off the keyboard and got the popcorn on to watch movies with my hubs and daughter.  Left the keyboard to run to the door when my son and his cutie pie girlfriend visit from college.  Departed from my desk and departed on airplanes to help family instead.

Been blogging less to cook whole healthy homemade meals more.

That time my son asked if his college buds could come for Thanksgiving dinner. The best!

I love my blog and will continue to write articles that I hope are helpful for my readers, insightful for parents and fun to read.  I really love to hear from my readers when an article has touched them or has been helpful, so a big thank you to the many of you who have left comments, emailed me or commented on my social media pages about my content.  I especially love blogging my 3TV segments, too.  So fun for me to share!

At my blog launch party in 2011! My good pal, Jill helped me to make the event great!

My little blog is my labor of love and gives me joy as long as I remember the important balance of blogging about life versus living it.

Product giveways will continue with less Freebie Fridays, mainly because some weeks the prizes go unclaimed, so doing a drawing instead lets those interested in the goods being offered enter.  So my blogging continues and I CAN NOT thank those who follow my blog enough for your support!  Managedmoms is still chugging along with a solid base.  But missing those ordinary moments (that are magical when looking back) to grow my blog…not going to worry about that so much.

More articles, recipes and giveaways coming soon and in the meantime, I will continue to chose my time on the keyboard with less blogging and more living.

Those ordinary moments at home are too important to miss.  Trust me on that 🙂

How is this five years ago?! Don’t miss YOUR ordinary moments. They are yours to cherish.

Finally My Mama Heart Feels Glimmer Of Hope

Finally.  I feel a glimmer of hope in my weary Mama heart.  Could this brave, articulate, passionate, focused and incredibly heartbroken and traumatized group of teens from Florida and beyond finally elicit change?  With the 24/7 screens that are around us all of the time now, I tearfully watched these students run out of their school on Valentine’s Day, then cry, then attend funerals, then board buses to meet with legislators and then speak so eloquently about the changes they are rightfully demanding.

I was struck.  My Mama heart was struck.  Especially since I am currently the Mama of one teenager and one college student.  My heart is especially tuned into this generation right now.

I am stopped in my tracks to hear their words.  My heart hurts.  And I realize something.  For the first time ever, when it comes to this issue…I finally feel a glimmer of hope in my weary Mama heart.  Could this newfound hope be a real thing?  It finally feels different.  Finally.  Oh please let this glimmer of hope be real.  Real change.

I am sick and I am tired of feeling this way every morning when I see my daughter off to high school and wish my son well with his college classes…

I am even more tired of feeling hopeless and helpless.  I don’t want to get political. I just want my kids to be safe and I don’t think that is wrong to ask.  In fact, as parents we should demand this. And only change will work to keep our kids safer.  Could these brave high school students appearing on our screens finally be the beginning of the agent of change?  I pray.  I cross my fingers.  I place my hand on my heart and wipe tears away from my eyes as I listen to their articulate, thought out, well researched pleas.  I am in awe of their bravery.  Their passion. Their smarts…

…and their broken, but ALSO strong and resilient hearts.

And with that, I take a stand to stand behind them.  These kids, who are our future.  And with many of them about to turn 18, the future has arrived.

Something must change.  Could it be that these kids, these school shooting survivors, these young adults, these future voters…these future parents…are the agent of change that is finally giving this manic managed mom a glimmer of hope?

My heart feels cautious as nothing has changed after Sandy Hook and so many other senseless tragedies.  But my heart also feels hopeful.  I hope that glimmer of hope that I am feeling really becomes real change that make our classrooms safer.

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Planning Ideas

Since I just received an email from one of my blog readers asking me for sweet 16 birthday party ideas, here is what we did for our daughter’s party. And for my blog readers…please share your sweet 16 bday ideas in the comments section to give our reader even more creative things to do when the sweetest of birthdays rolls around, the 16th one!  We love this blog to be a place where manic managed moms share tips to make our manic lives more managed.  Let me start by saying that my girl asked to plan her own gig.  So these ideas were hers, which is helpful since she is the demographic our reader is planning for!

The birthday girl back in November…

Idea #1Big ballon birthday numbers.  Kids love these giant numbers and the 16 one is especially sweet since it is the sweet 16th birthday.  They come in different colors.  Visit Party City stores for prices and sizes.  They make great decor and are especially fun for party pics, too.

Idea #2 – Make your own photo booth.  Simply make a backdrop with a white sheet and string lights across the top like my girl’s friends did for her.  So much fun!  Sweet 16 themed party decor, paper cups, plates, props and more can also be purchased at Party City hereProps for the photo booth can also be purchased at Party City as shown in this picture from the Party City website below.  Or make your own for creative fun.

Ideas #3 – Use more (like we did for the photo booth) white (or use colors) string lights for added decor.  My funny girl wanted to make her own from-scratch birthday cake! I didn’t argue with her as she is a better baker than I am!  She decorated it with fruit, so no fancy decorationg skills were needed and her pals loved the vanilla bean flavored cake with cream cheese icing.  She placed the cake in the middle of white string party lights laid flat and it looked great!  The white strung party lights can also be found at Party City.

*Idea #4 – Have the birthday girl wear a sweet 16 crown and/or sash, also sold at Party City.  In this picture below, both girls are wearing the fun sweet 16 sashes.  Since one of Lexi’s pals also turned 16, we did a double birthday party and we Mamas also had a great time! 

Idea #5 – Rent a bouncy house!  Yep, our girl and her almost fully grown teenage friends asked for a bouncy house!  I couldn’t believe it, but that is what they wanted and it was a hit!  I think sometimes our teens miss being little kids.  The bouncy house company I rented from told me that they rent to teens all the time.  Who knew?!  We rented from Slide and Bounce Around, Inc. and they were terrific to work with from start to finish.  I do recommend checking with your teenager before renting this, though.  It was cool with my own sweet 16-year-old and her buds, but that may not be true for all teens.  Definitely check with your kid first.

Idea #6 – Let your teen pick the snacks and food that will be served.  My daughter picked the snacks and the main fare, which was spaghetti tacos!  I forgot to take a picture of this crowd pleasing funny fare at the party, but I found a picture on Pinterest to share…Apparently, that was a big hit when ICarly aired when this age group was younger.  So we put out pasta and tacos.  Most of the teen guests did assemble spaghetti tacos and others either had the spaghetti (we ordered from Buca di Beppo and included Ceasar salad) and/or the tacos separately.  Again…who knew?!  The kids loved this party dinner idea!  Another good one is to get sub sandwiches catered from places like Subway or Jersey Mike’s, a favorite eatery of the teens I currenty know around our neighborhood.

Other Ideas – Another friend of mine surprised her sweet 16 daughter with a party bus rental.  Yet another one asked her to daughter if she wanted to invite several friends to stay at a local resort for one night.  Still others had a dinner party at Buca di Beppo, which is a good one to accomodate dinner parties.  And other pals took their newly 16-year-old to a quick trip to California, either San Diego or one of the beaches in LA like Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach.

I hope these ideas answer my blog reader who wrote in and other parents reading this, please feel free to add your sweet 16 party ideas to the comments section below.  16 is a sweet birthday, so happy sweet 16th to any of yours turning that magical number soon!  These two girls had a blast celebrating their milestone birthday a few months ago!  So much fun! 



A Very Special Giveaway Drawing

If you have a new driver or driver-to-be, this is a special drawing!  I have two sweet inspiring visor clips that say, “Never Drive Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly!” and both of my kids have one in their cars.  It is clipped to their visor, so they are reminded to be as safe as possible every time they see the sweet clip when they get in their car.  Here is what we will do the drawing for…

The first one says daughter and the other one can be for a girl or a boy.

I bought mine years ago and saved them until they each turned 16 and started driving.  I can’t believe how fast that got here.  We will draw for two winners through random.org.  The first one says “daughter” and the second one works for either a boy or a girl.  If you want to have a chance to win one of these to have for your own driver or driver-to-be, simply follow these quick and easy steps to enter…

  1.  Email your name, email address and address where you want your prize sent to [email protected]
  2.  Do this by this Monday, January 22nd by 10pm Phoenix time.  We will announce the winner on Tuesday, Jan. 23rd on this blog.

Good luck and good luck with this exciting new chapter with your kid(s).  You may also want to print out the driving contract my husband created that both of our children agreed to, signed and they keep a copy of the agreement in their glove boxes.  My husband told our kids that the most dangerous thing we will let them do as parents is drive a car.  Not a decision to be made lightly for sure.

Wishing all of you a safe road ahead and good luck in this drawing for a very special visor decor reminder.


My Mama Wellness Kit

Cold and flu season got you down?  Or are you trying to keep those germs away?  With two kids who are now 20 and 16 (guess I can’t say kids anymore), I have learned a lot of tricks and tips along the way when it comes to family wellness maintenance. And that can be a full-time job. Kids and teens are so busy these days with academics, activities, friends, jobs and more that keeping them well is important and when things become unwell, it is important to have a Mama 1st aid kit, or as I like to call it, a mama family wellness kit on hand ready for action.  Here is what we keep in ours…

Colds & Cough

The thing about some colds and some viruses is that kids can keep going as long as they don’t have fever. But they can still feel miserable, so these are the remedies we use when that happens…

*Traditional Seasonal Tea Medicinal Seasonal Sampler Herbal Tea – I buy my box at Whole Foods, but I have seen similar sampler herbal teas at grocery stores. This one houses four flavors that are all beneficial and work to ease symptoms.  The sampler incudes Gypsy Cold Care, Echinacea Plus, Throat Coat and Breathe Easy.

*EmergenC – My family loves this stuff!  So, at the first sign of a cold, this is mixed with water and consumed!

*Medicine Ball Tea also called the Jade Citrus Mint Tea – We found this ourselves when we asked the Starbucks barista which tea would be best for my girl as she had a big performance and a head cold with cough.  Not fun!  She told us about the Starbucks Sick Tea and we swear by it!  It has been renamed and the Starbucks website says that this is a customer creation that contains Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea, Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea, hot water, steamed lemonade and a touch of honey.  Try it the next time you are under the weather.  I will caution that a 16-oz. serving does contain 33 grams of sugar, so watch your added sugars the rest of the day after having this tea.  Other than that, I have nothing but praise for this amazing Starbucks remedy!

*Raw Manuka Honey – My daughter had a lead part in a big VYT production last year and on opening day, she barely had a voice!  First, we used the above recommended Throat Coat herbal tea, she took 2 Advil and she drank the Starbucks sick tea mentioned above.  Then we followed up with a ½ tablespoon of raw manuka honey.  By curtain time, she had a voice again and got through it!  We did see her pediatrician that day to confirm that it was a cold and nothing more serious and her doctor knew about the manuka honey remedy, too. WebMD has a detailed article about the benefits and research done about this honey and what ailments it helps.  VERY IMPORTANT:  never give honey to a child under one year old. It can cause botulism.  Also, be sure that your child does not have an allergy to bees. So, before you try honey, be sure you read up on it and then if all works for your family, you will probably find this to be a good remedy for coughs and more as our grandmothers did with honey years ago. Manuka honey is expensive, and I have seen it sell for as high as $35 a jar, but it has been worth it for us. I get mine at Whole Foods.

Injuries & Soreness

*Family Pack Band-Aid – Doesn’t it always seem like when you need one size of band aid, you only have the wrong size on hand?!  I finally purchased this cool family pack at Sam’s Club and this box contains 170 premium bandages in all shapes and sizes.  This has saved the day more than once.  And this box has waterproof band aids as well.

*Epsom Salt – For swelling following an injury or soreness from a sport or workout, an Epsom bath is a great remedy. Webmd.com says that in water, it breaks down into magnesium and sulfate. The theory is that when you soak in an Epsom salt bath, these get into your body through your skin. That hasn’t been proven, but just soaking in warm water with the salts can help relax muscles and loosen stiff joints.  I have personally found this to help a lot.


*Aveeno Oatmeal Bath – This has worked wonders for my daughter when she used to get bad eczema outbreaks.  Webmd.com explains that Colloidal oatmeal binds to the skin and forms a protective barrier that also helps hold in moisture and ease inflammation. Oatmeal for this can be made at home, but I love the convenience of buying it prepackaged at the drug store.  We really like the Aveeno brand.

Cuts, Scrapes, Minor Burns, Chapped Hands, Lips & Nasal Irritation from Colds

*Boiron Calendula Ointment Both my mother (who is very homeopathic) and me love this homeopathic medicine that soothes, protects and heals cuts, scrapes and especially chapped skin. It is paraben free and comes from the garden marigold plant.  I buy mine at Sprouts Markets, Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppes.


Here is one home remedy that everyone has on hand!  A washcloth and cool water.  Simply wet the washcloth with cool water and place on the back of the neck.  My mother-in-law, who was the head nurse at her hospital and taught nursing at NMSU, recently did this for me, just last month and it worked like a charm!

Did I leave out one of your favorite family wellness remedies?  Wishing you wellness this winter season!





Back To School Stress Busters

As seen in my KTVK 3TV segment that aired today at 10am.

Back To School Stress Busters

Sophomore is the big word around our house this year.  With a high school 10th grader and a sophomore in college, I now have a lot of back to school seasons under my belt.  A new school year brings excitement and stress.  We have found that the less stressed our kids are the better they do in school. Thinking about this got me thinking that I should share what stress busters have worked for our busy back to school family through the years.  Take a look and try these ideas for less stress and more success.

Food Fuel

Food is fuel especially with kids who are balancing school work, extracurricular activities and growth spurts.  I will admit that there have been hectic mornings when my kids only ate a bite or two before they rushed off. At some point, I told them no more skipping breakfast.  When kids become preteens and teens, it isn’t always easy to get them to wake up early and sit down to eat.

So here are some healthy ideas that work for both breakfast and/or after school snacks.  Grabbing fast food between the final school bell and practice, rehearsal, tutoring or whichever activity is on the calendar, is not wise.  I know at times we all must do it, but those empty calories that are loaded with sugar are not doing today’s kids any favors.  So, plan on the weekends and have some tasty and nutritious foods on hand.  Here are some ideas…

*On the run honey banana bun – This is my name for a quick meal/snack that is a healthier option than a typical white bagel.  To make my version, use Ezekiel Sprouted English muffins or bagels.  Sprouted bread is a healthy option because it is made from sprouts rather than white bleached flour, so the body easily digests sprouted bread.  With bread made from white flour, the body metabolizes it into sugar which makes insulin spike, which can contribute to inflammation in the body.  This is certainly not good for growing kids. Easier to digest, sprouted bread also contains beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  It must be kept refrigerated because it doesn’t have any preservatives, which is another thing I like about this bread.

To make the bun on the run, we toast the Ezekiel Sprouted English Muffin and then spread a good all-natural peanut butter on top (look for a brand that only lists peanuts as an ingredient).  








Next we add manuka honey and banana slices.  Let’s talk about manuka honey because it is expensive, but it is the gold standard in my opinion. 

But first before you read anymore…. this is very important…

***NEVER EVER give honey of any kind to a child under 1 year of age.  There are potential botulism risks associated with a child eating honey their first year of life. ***

Now back to school aged kids.  I first heard about manuka honey from my mom, who really knows her nutritional stuff, let me tell you! She did warn me about the price (ranges in price from $18 to $26 a jar…I know!!). Then when my daughter was ill (and was a lead in a big downtown Phoenix community theatre play, so we were stressed!) our pediatrician told us to give her a spoonful of that stuff a day!  I was awfully glad that I had purchased a jar to keep on hand because it really did help her heal faster from the virus she was fighting.  We have also found that our allergies are better with regular consumption of manuka honey.  Manuka honey truly does have medicinal properties, which is one reason our pediatrician recommended it for my daughter.

Next, we top the bun with banana slices.  Bananas provide potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins and protein.  Eat them green because as they ripen and turn yellow, more natural sugars will be digested.

So, with this banana honey bun on the run, my kids get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the sprouted English muffin, protein from the peanut butter, allergy fighting properties from the honey and potassium, magnesium and more from the banana.  And this is easy to take on the run, satisfies a sweet tooth with a much better option than junk food and is filling.  We love this option!

*Mom approved mixed berry yogurt – Yogurt is good for the gut, but oftentimes is loaded with added sugar.  To create a good naturally flavored yogurt that my kids will eat and that I approve of, I buy plain full fat yogurt.  Buying it full fat means it is less processed.  Then to sweeten it myself, I add vanilla extract, cinnamon and berries and either mix or blend.  If your child still wants it a bit sweeter, then add stevia.  Try it because this way your family is getting the good bacteria from yogurt without all of the added sugars.  Top with nuts or granola for crunch and protein.

For more food ideas and recipes, check the food section of my blog at managedmoms.com.

Get Organized for Success

An organized kid is a less stressed kid and I think that is true for adults, too.  Teaching them good organizational skills young sets them up for success later when high school coursework and college exam prep skills become crucial.

With so much academic work and calendars done online now, be sure to keep a back-up at a glance weekly calendar handy.  So, every week we write down what assignments are due, what tests are scheduled in addition to after school activities, appointments and more. Then on Sundays our family meets to go over the calendar so that we are all on the same page.  This avoids that inevitable night before when panic sets in because a child suddenly remembers that a project is due the very next day.  Most of us Moms have been there with this stressful scenario! We also work well as a team and are more supportive of each other when we discuss every family member’s different commitments for the week. Finally, an at a glance weekly wall calendar also serves as a back-up in case the computer goes down or an electronic calendar device is misplaced.

And the absolute best thing about doing this through the years is by the time my kids were in high school, they had learned to be organized on their own.  So, less nagging from me because they began to automatically use the organization tools that we practiced when they were younger.

I also love the Lakeshore Learning Store Keepsake Learning Portfolio that I showed in the segment.  A nice large expandable folder to save treasured school projects or organized files for your kids to use.  Great tool! These sell at Lakeshore Learning store locations for $19.99 each.

For more back to school get organized tools, see my blog under Family Matters.

My Fun Favorite Back To School Stress Buster Ever!!

A few weeks into the hustle and bustle of the new school year, spend an afternoon brainstorming and planning fun plans for fall break week.  Then once the plans are in place, whenever the kids feel overwhelmed, remind them that the fall break countdown is on with October just around the corner.  Like adults scheduling a vacation week, this incentive gives the family a date to look forward to and an incentive to work towards, which reduces stress and encourages hard work until that fun week break arrives.

The travel section in my blog is one of my favorite sections, so be sure to check that out for fall break ideas. Some you will find include…

*Classy Cabins AZ – In the lovely Flagstaff/Williams/Grand Canyon area, check out the beautifully furnished Classy Cabins AZ that are available to rent for a terrific family vacation.  I really like that these cabins are a mom and pop run business that is their passion.  Classy Cabins AZ owners, Steve and Amy Sorenson, custom build every cabin and then personally furnish and design each one, too.

College tour to UT Austin with our son.

*For teens schedule a college tour getaway – some of my best memories with my now college aged son, are the college tour trips we took.  It is beneficial to see and tour the university and the city that college resides in that your child may be considering.  And it is a fun vacation with a trip that motivates your student to keep working hard to achieve their goals.  So fun! I have college tour articles and links to several in my blog that include UT Austin, UCLA (will be published next week), TCU and more, so check my blog with the search word, college tour, to bring them up.

*Staycations are always nice, too.  I have reviewed almost every local resort in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area and I also did a write-up on a Tucson property, too.

Just look under the travel section of my blog to see the different resorts with links for booking.

So, food fuel, get organized tools and upcoming vacation break planning are our most successful back-to-school stress busters.  What are yours?  Share in the comments section as we like to share what managed mom tips make our manic lives less stressed!

Happy new school year.  Wishing you and yours a successful one!


Living 15 Again…There’s Something Special About 15

Here we go again.  My second born is at that age, 15 1/2 and everything is changing so quickly now.  I remember this time with my son. Getting a driver’s permit and actually enjoying  the time spent teaching him to drive (except for a few white knuckle moments) and knowing that on his 16th birthday, we would see a lot less of him.

Turning 16 with his keys to freedom, a car!

What I didn’t know is just how fast it would go from there.  Dating, first job, SATs, graduation, leaving for college!  A whirlwind.

Exciting.  Scary.  Wonderful.  Bittersweet.  All these words fit this extraordinary time in both a teenager’s life and in the parent’s life, too.

And now it’s happening again…slow down time.

Please.  Pretty please.

But time does not and the only time that time seemed to stand still was when I delivered these babies.  During the hospital stay, I checked out of the outside world, stopped listening to the ticking clock (except to time feedings) and was completely tuned in to time with my infant.  I was utterly consumed with my new little life.  I was instantly head over heels in love.

Driving, dating, SATS and all of that seemed galaxies away….hundreds of years in the future.

I am back in the passenger seat again.

But those days….yet again…my final teenage Mama ride is here again.  My girl is moving through these last few months of 15 so quickly now.

Just like that.  A magic trick.  Now you see a little baby.  Now you don’t.  Now you see a kid.  Now you don’t.

Now I see a cutie pie teenage girl before me daily.

Lunch with my girl. She drove me there. Cherished time.

Soon I won’t.  I know how fast it goes from here.

15 is pivotal.  So pivotal.  So good.  So hard.

So all of the above.

And this particular time for Mamas of almost 16-year-olds is a special and scary time.  A lot comes with that photo card that makes the kid an official legal driver.  Daily questions.

Can I go here? Can I go there?  What time is my curfew?  Can I pick up such and such?  Can I have some gas money?  Don’t worry, Mom and Dad….I know I am running late, but I won’t speed.  Can I have a later curfew than last week?

When I wrote about my son getting his license four years ago, the paragraph above wasn’t in my article. Because I hadn’t experienced those questions before.  I hadn’t yet experienced the joy and pride of watching him drive off.

And the fear.

Ugh.  Again so bittersweet.

Life gets easier for Mama when they drive.  But if you think you will now get caught up on lost sleep from all those years before….well…think again.

Now you get to worry from the comfort of your own bed when you wake up at the exact moment the clock turns to their curfew time.  And if they are late, you don’t want to text or call them while they are driving.  That is always a tough decision to figure out how long to wait before you call.

And then it is no fun punishing them for being late on a curfew.  But consequences matter.  And consequences still stand.  And now Mama has a big currency.  Taking away the car.  Hopefully when this happens they learn quickly to follow the rules of this new road to keep them safe.  And Mama sane.

But I don’t have to go there yet.  Soon, but not yet.

So yeah, there is something about 15.  It isn’t the start of the teen years with 13 or the official driving age of 16 or becoming a legal adult at 18.  15 isn’t a celebrated number, but it is a rite of passage time.  I didn’t get that the first time around when my son was 15.

It was all about him soon turning 16.  The countdown.

This time I am not counting down.  I am completely and 100% in the present.  I am all about 15 this time around.

15 is special.  15 is sweet.  Your 15-year-old is still with you a lot, learning how to drive and moving one big toe to the edge of the nest.  15 turns to 18 so fast that it will make your head spin.

Oh 15…you are the sweet one.  Sweet 16 for them, but 15 is sweet for the parents.  The last of that phase.  16 signals much more independence.  And it is right.  And it is good.

But I will greatly miss 15.

I am cherishing these days with my girl behind wheel WITH me BESIDE her.  So much will change this fall when she turns 16.

Here we go again and this time I have the pain of knowing how fast it goes from here.

So parents reading this piece.  My tidbits of advice.

It is a little unsettling at first, but cherish teaching them to drive.  Turn off the radio and listen to them, their driving questions and other topics that come up.  The more drive time put in, the more relaxed and experienced that teen of yours becomes.  And you, too.  Then casual conversation takes place.  They start to really talk to you at times, to open up.

Cherish that time.  Enroll them in professional driving lessons.  Then let them drive you all over town.  I do this when the pro driving teacher gives me a good report and tells me that they are freeway ready.

Cherish 15.  I know it is hard on some days.   VERY hard, I know.  I have raised both a boy and am nearing the teen years finish line with a girl.  I know it is hard on some days.  I repeat.  Very hard.  Tearfully hard.  Fights.  Hurt feelings.  Harsh words exchanged.  All normal. Hard but a part of them pulling away as they assert their independence.

To navigate the roads without you in the car. 

To navigate the roads ahead that life will take them without you right beside them most of the time.

And don’t you just want to jump in front of that moving car called life and point them in the right direction?!  I do! I do!  I do!

But 15 is the beginning of the end of being able to always do that.  15 is a big beginning for them and a beginning of really letting go for you.

Not easy.  Not for the faint of heart.

Parenthood is not for sissies.  Especially when they leave 15.

When my son proudly passed his road test with a 100% score in 2013, we celebrated.

And then he surprised me.

He asked me to please take him home so he could then drive off without me.  Ouch.  But I understood.  And I remembered doing the exact same thing to my mama in 1983.

I also remember thinking in 2013 that I had four years left before I had to go down this road again.  I had no idea that those 4 years would feel like 4 minutes.

Taylor Swift nails it with her 15 song.  It is a pivotal year.  Everyone thinks 13 or 16 or 18.  All big years.

But there is something about 15.  A time that sports a kid that is a combo of sweet, salty and spicy.  Hormones. Teenagers.  Change.  A lot for a teen to take in all at once.  A lot for the parents, too.

Deal with the salty.  Understand the spicy.  Cherish the sweet.

Communicate with your kid.  Listen to that soon-to-be 16 year old.

Oh 15…can you hang around a little longer with my girl?  Oh time, can you please slow down?

Time is telling me no again.  No way.  Not happening.  Sorry Mom.

My daughter is very thankful that I don’t have the power to slow down time!


I think I will go ask my daughter if she wants to take me on a drive now….me and my heart.

Bittersweet 15.

Teen Driver-To-Be? Institute for Drivers Safety A Must

Do you have a teen driver-to-be?  I do.  Again.  Already.  It is my second time around to teach one of my babies how to drive as child #2 edges even closer to the edge of the nest.  There is my girl behind the wheel.  Here we go again and boy, she can’t wait to go, that is for sure. So, as we did before with my son, we hired the first-rate, highly recommended Institute For Drivers Safety to take my girl on driving lesson drives.  She had her first one today and we are just as impressed as we were four years ago with this organization.  AND THE BIG GREAT NEWS….and a big bonus…now the institute offers the actual driver’s license test again so the pesky DMV can be avoided for the road test!  I’ll drive to that!

The Institute had previously offered this, but the state took the option away…but they have brought it back again.  Just in time for my girl to get her license in a few short months.  Yay!  And if you look below at the comments made about this article, Kimberly Bodine’s comment is right on when she says, “My daughter used them also and it was worth every penny and the pressure of not having to take the driving test at DMV was great for her anxiety.”  I am so excited that my daughter can take her test with the Institute for Driver’s Safety in a few months instead of having to endure the long wait at the DMV!

Today my daughter went with instructor, Joe Navarro and he was terrific.

There she goes on her first drive lesson with the pros!

He had her drive him on four freeways and in downtown Phoenix, too.  When they came back home after the 3-hour drive, he met with us and gave us a report on how she did and which areas she needs to work on to get her ready for the big day that she takes the road test for her license.  This is helpful to all of us and is smart!  Plus I feel more confident having her drive me to further distances now that she is taking these professional lessons.  She does the driving and the professionals do the teaching!  So read on to see how the Institute for Drivers Safety works, who goes behind the wheel with your kid and how to sign up.  More links and information are below in the article.  This is the one I wrote about my son and all is still current…

Oh and one cool item that is not in the article below is that my son scored 100% on the driver license road test (and that was at the DMV at that time) and he credits that to Institute for Drivers Safety.  Yep, this organization is a must for teen drivers.  Here is the scoop from the last time we did it in 2013…

Manic:  My mind as I realize that in 2 1/2 weeks my first born will get his driver’s license and drive off, without me next to him, for the first time.  Yay and yikes all in one!

Managed:  Enrolling him in a local top notch driving school has improved his driving skills and lowered my stress level. Many of you have asked me to share the driving school information, so read on to find out how to enroll and how it works. Yesterday our boy earned this Behind the Wheel Certificate of Graduation certificate that I have pictured, along with his driving report cards…. drivingWe are very happy to receive this completion certificate, not only as peace of mind that a professional driving teacher agrees that our boy is ready to drive by himself, but this nice piece of paper will also give us an insurance discount (as will his straight A report card), so we are celebrating that bonus.

The Institute for Drivers Safety is a terrific organization that I highly recommend.  The instructors are all trained police officers and all have had car control, collision avoidance, and accident scene reporting training at the police academy.

From start to finish, the process was easy and very beneficial.  To enroll your child (make sure they have their state issued drivers permit first), simply call 480-921-8834 or visit The Institute for Drivers Safety to schedule a drive.  You can also purchase a package of three drives and classroom instruction.  Call for different pricing information.  I paid $175 for his first driving lesson that we did back in May (right after he got his permit and before I let him drive me on any freeways) and we just paid $175 again for his last lesson that took place yesterday.

For that price, you get a qualified instructor who comes to your home (or even to your child’s high school) to pick them up. They leave in an instructional car that has a brake pedal on the instructor’s side (a perk that we parents don’t get when we are doing the teaching).  Your kid does the driving the entire three hours.  I especially like that the teacher had our son drive him through the airport, down different freeways, one way streets in downtown Phoenix and they did some parallel parking practice, too.

When they return, we parents are given a report card, which is pictured above.  It is quite thorough and it really gives the teenager some areas of improvement to consider.  I don’t know about your kid, but when a teacher or coach reinforces a lesson, sometimes it means more than if we say it to our child.  It packs a positive punch into their selective memory bank.  It does take a village and I like the support!

When our son returned home yesterday (and it was nice that the Institute for Drivers Safety was available on a Sunday morning from 7:30am to 10:30am), the instructor told us, and him, that he graded strictly because that is what the DMV instructor will do when the big day arrives.  With that, he told us that he believes that our teen is ready to take the road on his own (that is reassuring to us), but he shared with us that several areas need improvement.  More attention needs to be paid to always using his turn signals and he actually didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Really?!  And with the driver instructor with him?!  That is why they are called teenagers and not young adults!  The teacher also told us that our kiddo handles the car well and has good driving skills.  So with that, we’ve got two weeks left to hone his skills with us in attendance in the vehicle.

After that, we give him our blessing, say our prayers and let him loose behind the wheel, with rules of course.  Please son, do not text and drive!  He will have a curfew to follow and he will check in with us on arrival and before departures.  We will follow the law and limit his passenger load.  If he abuses his newfound privilege, he will be riding the schoolbus, we told him.  He didn’t like that idea!  So as we enter yet another parenting chapter, that is both thrilling and terrifying, I can tell you that hiring The Institute for Drivers Safety was worth the money and peace of mind that we have done all that we can to prepare our teen boy to take the wheel.at_the_wheel

But first, he has to endure 2 1/2 more weeks of his annoying parents back seat driving. Here we go!

My 3TV Segment: Smart Summer Solutions Stuff

If you caught my KTVK 3TV segment on the Your Life Arizona show today and want more details on the stuff I showed, it is all  here….

Summertime brings all kinds of stuff like travel, summer break from school, hot dry temps and more.  To keep summer fun and manageable, I found some cool gadgets that work great for solutions to summertime issues sun damage protection, traveling with kids, camping smart and more.  I also found some stuff that is cool for summer in fashion and fun.  Read on to see if one of your summertime issues is solved here and let the summer fun begin as you work to stay cool and keep the kids entertained.

Smart Snacking

With the kids home from school, snacks become a required part of the daily routine, which can throw parents off the diet track and contribute to unhealthy eating and weight gain in everyone.  So, my family came up with some smart snack ideas.  Here are a couple of our summer snacks that we place ahead of time on fun brightly colored Re-Play dishes.  I love these cool plates because they are made from recycled milk jugs, so they are earth friendly.  We try to live life as green as we can.  Here are some of our snack ideas…

*Red, white & blue food – Red frozen grapes (tastes like popsicles when eaten frozen), blueberries and popcorn without butter.

*A better chocoholic snack – Dark chocolate squares with almond butter for dipping or strawberry slices with dark chocolate syrup for dipping

*Guac & cucumbers instead of guacamole and chips

*Eat to hydrate snack pack – watermelon chunks, celery sticks with peanut butter and tomato slices with mozzarella cheese and a basil leaf.  Watermelon, celery and tomato are all hydrating foods.

The fun Re-Play dishes for your easy and earth friendly summer snacking are sold for $18 for a set of $6 at Teresa’s Creative Gifts on Facebook.  The Re-Play snack cups sell for $21 for a set of six and can be ordered at Teresa’s Creative Gifts on her Facebook account or email her at [email protected] or call 602-710-9181.  These dishes are made for babies, toddlers and kids and we also use them for our summer snack dishes as described above.

Smart Camping

Plan to camp this summer? Check out these cool accessories for smarter camping.  And some of these items make good Father’s Day gift ideas, too.

*Adventure Bracelet – This unisex bracelet can be worn or tied to backpack.  Multiple mini tools are all packaged neatly in the bracelet that includes a compass, temperature gauge, knife, screwdriver, whistle, scraper, fire starter, bottle opener and the cord can be cut if needed.  Teresa’s Creative Gifts sells 2 of these for $10.

*Fit Zip Illuminating Waist Pack – This expanding fanny pack holds a bottle of water, smart phone, keys and more.  Plus, it has a USB charging port and three LED flash modes so you can be seen when camping, hiking, biking and more. $15 each or 2 for $25 at Teresa’s Creative Gifts.

*O2COOL Battery 5 Inch Portable Fan – My family is addicted to sleeping with a fan, so if you are going camping, this portable fan will do the trick to keep you cool.  It also has a USB cord with an adapter for use in hotel rooms, etc.  I also like the white noise that this fan provides, which is nice when falling asleep away from home. Sells at Walgreens for $12.99

*Boiron Calendula Cream – This is a terrific go to homeopathic cream for all sorts of ailments like cuts, scrapes, minor burns, chaffing, bug bites and sunburn.  Calendula contains the natural ingredient, Garden marigold, which has been used for centuries as a healing and soothing substance. The light texture is ideal for use on dry or chafed skin and it is soothing and moisturizing.  This is such great stuff to know about for camping and for all sorts of summer activities that can result in skin issues.

Smart Sunning

Out in the sun for fun?  Don’t forget to protect yourself, especially here in the desert.  Here are some of my go to smart sun protection picks for all ages…

*La Roche Posay sunscreen – I like this line because different options are offered like the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids Gentle Sunscreen Lotion SPF Broad Spectrum 60 that is paraben-free and fragrance free.  I also like the Oil Free La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen because it doesn’t cause breakouts.  This one is also free of parabens and fragrance.  This brand is sold at CVS stores, Walgreens and Target.

*Sun Burnt Advanced After-Sun Gel – I keep a bottle of this on hand every summer because usually someone ends up getting too much sun.  This nonsticky formula is gentle on already sensitive skin and rehydrates chapped and burned skin with aloe, Echinacea, calendula and cantharis. These natural actives soothe, heal and rehydrate skin.  I buy mine at Walgreens.

*Flapjacks Reversible Hats for kids – With UPF 50+ protection, this cute reversible hat is a must for babies, toddlers and young kids.  90% of sun’s rays are blocked out with this hat.  Sold at Teresa’s Creative Gifts for $25 and because it is reversible, it is like you are getting two hats for the price of one!

I also showed some stylish and cute hats and bling visors in my segment.  All sell at Teresa’s Creative Gifts and the links are in my blog at managedmoms.com.

Smart Summer Kids Travel Tool

I love when I find parent invented tools that work, especially when it comes to traveling with kids, not an easy thing to do.

*Lugabug – Busy mom, Jennie Helman, came up with the idea for Lugabug when she was traveling with her young children at a busy airport. Lugabug is a child’s travel seat that secures to luggage, creating the experience of fun, safe and efficient transport for kids. It’s a collapsible, economical and multi-purpose family travel accessory for quality-conscious buyers who prefer a compact product that minimizes their load, not adds to it, and reduces chaos while traveling.The child travel seat secures in seconds without taking up extra space. It is multi-functional and versatile and can also be used as an extra pocket when hung over luggage, a camp chair and/or a sitting pad. The top strap can also be adjusted and worn over the shoulders to carry extra stuff. It is intended for children aged 2 or older; maximum weight of 60 lbs. Made in the U.S.A. It is available for $64 at www.lugabug.com.

Fun Summer Stuff

I found some fun summer stuff as I was putting together the smart summer stuff, so I had to share.  Love these items!

*4th of July stuff – Look no further than Teresa’s Creative Gifts for all kinds of red, white and blue loot to have you in the spirit of the day come the 4th.  I showed the red, white and blue giant makeup/all-purpose bag ($26) and the red, white and blue scarf/vest (sells for $25 at Teresa’s Creative Gifts).  She has a ton of 4th of July items, so take a look to be in the red, white and blue spirit with your dress, accessories, decor and more.  Shop Teresa’s Creative Gifts at her facebook account here or email her at [email protected] or call 602-710-9181.

*BigMouth Inflatable Pool Party Beverage Boats – I saw these last year at more expensive department stores, so how fun that these are now available for less at Walgreens for $6.99 for a set of two.  Unicorn and donut shaped inflatable drink holders float in the pool and keep cups close and upright.  So fun!

Did I share any smart summer tools or fun summer items that you will use?  Any I should know about for my blog and segments?  Share here in the comments section.

Happy Summer!