I’ve always called myself a bookworm.

But why? Why do we call book lovers bookworms? Maybe it has to do with teachers and an apple and a worm? Or maybe book lovers bury themselves in a book like a worm buries itself in the earth?


I searched the depths of google.

“The bookworm expression stems from years ago when books were destroyed by moths, beetles, silverfish, and other insects. Books today do not have this problem. The type of glue has changed to deter an insect’s destruction. Books are also kept in better conditions, such as air-conditioned and heated homes.”


And welcome to Bug Bytes.

I’m not here to talk about what we can learn from google. I’m here to talk about what kids can learn from books – National Geographic Kids books.

I got the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Emmett, VP of Kids Content and Erica Green, VP and Editorial Director of Kids Books at National Geographic Kids.

Jennifer and Erica are bookworms too. They gave my fellow National Geographic Kids Insiders and me an overview of their favorite books for our future generations of book lovers. *

* I say future generations of book lovers but I totally mean me. I steal these books from my kids’ backpacks. Come on, it’s National Geographic. A place where nature becomes a story. King of photography. King of videography. King of the Jungle.


Tales from the Arabian Nights by Donna Jo Napoli Ages 8-12. Hardcover. This book helps kids understand a culture rich with history – the Middle East. Tales of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad the Sailor, and Aladdin show kids there’s more to the world than a Disney movie. Pretend-riding a magic carpet is still acceptable.

Ultimate Oceanpedia by Christina Wilson Ages 7-10. Hardcover. National Geographic has access to parts of the world you and I will never see. The oceans cover 70% of earth yet there’s a lot that hasn’t been explored. National Geographic Kids dives deep with the best underwater photographers in the world. This “oceanpedia” focuses on preserving the health of the ocean “land” and what kids can do to help. Even if those kids live in Kansas.

2017 Almanac Ages 8-12 Hardcover and softcover. This book is one of National Geographic’s best-selling books. It covers everything – games, wonders of the world, history, culture, discoveries, and explorers. Kids can read about scientists dressing up as polar bears to study them. Or learn about the real species of spiders named sparkle muffin.

Weird But True 8 Ages 8-12 Softcover. Ah, Weird But True. “Mom, did you know..” Spoiler: you’ll most likely not know, question the fact, and go to google to confirm. It’s always confirmed. This is the 8th installment of the series. Kids forget they are learning when they read that death metal music attracts sharks or Kansas produces enough wheat every year to make 35 billions loaves of bread. Kansas smells like home, kids.


If your kids love these books, make sure they watch the new Weird But True television show every Saturday morning.

Famous Fails! by Crispin Boyer Ages 8-12 Softcover. This book is my personal favorite because I fail a lot. Failing is a learning process and this book shows kids failing is ok. Michael Jordan was cut from the basketball team. The Leaning Tower of Piza was not supposed to lean. Einstein was told he wasn’t smart. The book itself is printed with mistakes. Emma Burton even fails.


The Ultimate Dinopedia by “Dino” Don Lessem Ages 7-10. Hardcover. If you have a kid that loves dinosaurs, this is the only kids book that lists every dinosaur ever discovered. And 125 species are explained in detail. Fun tidbit: the illustrations had to be carefully considered because the editors didn’t want them to be too gory. Dining with a dino is not served on a plate.

Little Kids First Big Book of Animals Ages 4-8. Hardcover. Ok, littles! Here’s a book for you! Big, small, slimy, furry, rough, cold-blooded, warm-blooded, brown, blue, polka dots, all the animals are here! This book is can be easily read by an adult to a small child. It answers questions little kids want to know- how do they eat? What do they eat? Are they fast? What do the babies look like? Let’s find out, kids!

Edible Science by Jodi Wheeler Ages 8-12. Softcover. My question to Jennifer and Erica: My kids love to cook. They also love making up their own recipes and a giant mess in the kitchen they leave me to clean. Is there a book out for Emma and Kate that mixes recipes with the science behind cooking? This book was the first book to pop in their mind. Cooking is chemistry and this book turns the kitchen into a science experiment you can eat. I still have to clean the mess though.

National Geographic Kids Cookbook by Barton Seaver Ages 8-12. Softcover. This cookbook is for kids to bake from year-round. It’s not a normal cookbook because Nat Geo is never normal – there are crafts, activities and challenges within the pages. Host a dinner party, pack a school lunch, bake a holiday dessert, family cooking competitions, snow day recipes, and the kids get permission to play with their food. I give permission to clean up your own mess.

Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin Ages 8-12. Hardcover. Yeah, that Buzz Aldrin. The Buzz Aldrin that went to the moon on Apollo 11. Going to the moon is so 1969. Kids today imagine going to Mars. Could Mars be colonized? Well, we’re moving closer to the possibility. This book explains what a real life would be like on the red planet.

And there you have it, from the National  Geographic Kids headquarters in Washington, D.C. Go turn your kids into a bookworm!

But not that kind of bookworm. The cute human bookworm from 2016.


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Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 10 and Kate is 7. 


Scott: True or False?

Kate: I love this game!

Scott: One day, in college, mommy showed her boobs to people at a bar.


Kate: Hmm. False.

Scott: Correct. Because if mommy were to do that, she would go to jail.

Kate: No, she wouldn’t.


Emma: So Donald Trump will be the new President?

Me: Yeah.

Emma: So he has to move into the White House?

Me: Yep.

Emma: He probably won’t like that too much?

Me: Really? Why do you think?

Emma: That must be much smaller than his other houses.


Emma: Mom, I saw Kate today at school.

Me: Aw, you did? You guys never see each other.

Emma: Our lines crossed in the hallway.

Me: That’s cute.

Emma: Yeah, Kate pushed me against the wall and then she goes back into her line and waves at the rest of my class and says, “oh! Hello, everyone!” And the class is like, “oh your sister is soooo cute!”


I waited in the school office for Emma. I had to take her to an orthodontist appointment. The school office has all glass walls. I see Kate’s class walking down the hallway. I looked for Kate and found her.

Kate sees me and does a double look.

Me: (waving) Hi Kate!

Kate: (makes an angry face, points at me, and continues walking)


Kate: Did you know Siri doesn’t know everything?

Me: She’s a computer.

Kate: Google knows everything.


Kate’s friends came over and asked if Kate could spend the night. I said that was fine. Kate brought down her overnight bag and headed towards the door.

Me: Wait! Kate! Give me a hug! I’m going to miss you!

Kate: I’ll miss you too, mommy.

Me: You can stay here if you want.

Kate: When I’m packed, I’m gone. Bye!


Me: Here’s my birthday list, girls. I’m going to send daddy and you all over town!

Emma: Mom. Don’t treat us like slaves. I’m learning about slaves now. Don’t treat us like that.


Kate: How much was your tattoo, daddy?

Scott: About $1500.

Kate: Ha! Well, that’s a waste.

Me: A waste?

Kate: Yeah, that’s a lot of money, honey. (snaps)


Scott was putting our Christmas lights up on the house. Kate and her friend stood on the driveway, watching.

Friend: My dad would never do that. He’s scared to be on the roof.

Kate: My dad is scared of Alice in Wonderland and NOT Game of Thrones.


Kate: Why does your middle name only have two letters?

Me: Ann has three? A-n-n.

Kate: Oh, I thought it was A-n. Like the word.


The girls were watching Full House. It was the episode when Rebecca and Jesse get married.

During the middle of the wedding…

Kate: Man! This is horrible!


In the car.

Kate: Can I play with your phone?

Me: No. When I was a kid, we didn’t have phones or iPods to play with in the car. Look out the window.

Emma: When I have kids, I’m going to say we didn’t have whatever new invention they have.

Me: Probably.

Kate: When I have kids I’m going to tell them we had iPods that went dead and when they died we couldn’t use them in the car.

Emma: Yeah, and that GRANDMA wouldn’t let us use her phone.


Kate: How do you say meatloaf in Spanish?


Me: Let Stella outside. She needs to go pee.

Kate: No.

Me: Please, it’s my birthday.

Kate: You’re not the queen of me.

Me: I’m asking nicely.



Me: Kate, before you go upstairs, will you put my glass in the sink?

Kate: I’m not your wine maid.


Emma: Mom, there’s only two ice cream bars left. Kate has one and I have one. You can have mine if you want. I can find another snack. I know they’re your favorite.

Me: Oh, can I? I’ll take it if you want to eat something else.

(I look at Kate, holding her ice cream bar)

Kate: They’re so gooood! You can’t have mine!


Me: Where’s my pillow?

Scott: Oh. Forgot to tell you. Kate came in here and took your pillow.

Me: So now I have this dink kid pillow?

Scott: She said you could have hers. Yours is much better so she’s taking it.


Text message from Kate.

Kate: Mommy, will you get me and Emma Dunkin Donuts?

Me: Yes, when I wake up.

Kate: Go now.


I was reading “Weird But True” facts from a National Geographic Kids book with Emma.

Me: Ha! Listen to this – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has the world record for amount of selfies taken in one minute.

Emma: Why is that funny?

Me: Your dad loves him.

Emma: Why? Because dad’s middle name is Duane?


Still reading the Weird But True book with Emma.

Me: Aw, kids that grow up with a dog have a less chance of developing asthma in their lifetimes.

Emma: Did you also know that kids with dogs have a higher rate of being late to school?

Me: What?

Emma: Can’t blame me for being late to school now.


Me: It’s 8:30, girls! Bedtime!

Emma: Nope.

Me: Uh, yes. School night.

Kate: Nina told us you didn’t go to bed until 9:00 on school nights.

Emma: New bedtime!


Scott and I were getting the kids’ school things ready in the morning while the girls looked for Buddy, the elf. They left the kitchen but we could still hear them.

Kate: Where is he, Emma?

Emma: I don’t know.

Kate: Where’d they hide him?



Are your kids hilarious? Of course they are!

If you have any kid sayings that you would like to see here, please email me at:

Or friend me on Facebook and I’ll pull quotes from statuses. You and your child’s name will be kept anonymous, if you wish.


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Hello, November 30.

Well, I didn’t write a novel.

That’s ok. It wasn’t my intention. I wrote for 30 straight days. It’s something I’ve never done before.

I don’t know why I agreed to the challenge. 30 consecutive days of writing, or anything really, takes a lot of discipline. This discipline happens to fall in November. November is not a care-free month like sexy July over there. Thank you, Pilgrims.

I finished Nano Poblano. I finished the damn thing.

Whether it made me a better writer, I don’t know. I didn’t go into 30 days with a plan. I didn’t use pre-written posts in the draft folder. I wrote every post on that day, at that moment. I learned it’s possible to find a story every day. I can write when I don’t feel like writing.

I also learned there are people that will read anything I write. You guys showed up for 30 consecutive days to read, spy on my family, laugh, cry, drool at Brett, glare at me in fury, or just escape your life for a minute or two. You shared my blog. You commented. You let me know you were listening. I gained readers.

After 30 days, I realized this is why I write. You.

There’s nothing special about me other than I write about my family. I’m not paid to do this. It’s not easy writing to an audience that includes my parents, ex-boyfriends, old elementary school friends, my kids’ teachers, Avatars, haters, my friend that shaves her face with me, and people I don’t know.

The people I don’t know are the easiest to write to.

Writing to every one of you in the same voice is, well, brave. It’s brave. I rarely speak to my parents about my sex life but I definitely speak to the friend that shaves her face with me about my sex life. My family and close friends see me when I’m sad or angry. Opening my door for everyone to see that puts me in a vulnerable spot. A joke is only a good joke if it’s told right. Maybe that’s why I’m good at making fun of myself.

Writing to a room full of people is a balance. You’re all watching.

I’ve been blogging for almost eight years. In those eight years, I never posted three days in a row. 30 days in a row pushed my writing limits. This is the real me. This is what goes on inside my head.

Thank you for letting me share my family and parts of my life with you.

You are so very loved.


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These are a few of my favorite things.

I don’t want to write.

I’m tired. I’m stressed. I have a headache. I need to get my hair dyed. I look like I’m 80-years-old.

I have an idea! Let’s pretend I’m Oprah!

Here are a few of my favorite things…Or wait, maybe that’s Julie Andrews.

“Here are a few of …” (I’m singing.) “Here are a few of my favorite books.” Don’t even think about it Scott, this is not a cheat sheet. I already have these books. I’m helping others.

I love almost all books but my favorite genre is historical fiction. In order for me to classify which books are my favorite, they usually leave an impression on me years later. These books all get a 5/5 star rating from me.

  • Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill – this story is about a little girl that falls down a mine shaft. The story then goes backwards, through her family lines, to tell you how she came into existence. If you have any interest in family history, you would love this story.
  • 11/22/1963: A Novel by Stephen King – This is a time travel book. A high school teacher discovers a way to slip into the past. He tries to stop the JFK assassination. I won’t tell you the rest. This is written under the assumption that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy. I have doubts about that. Yes, I’m a conspiracy theorist.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Gotta love a classic. Go Set a Watchman is not as good. It’s not horrible; go give it try. You can’t really top your one and only classic, Harper Lee. You probably knew that and that’s why it wasn’t released until after your death.
  • Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffery Eugenides – Every time a pregnant woman wants to know the sex of her baby before a sonographer or blood test tells her, I think of this book. Cal was born a baby girl but is actually a boy. The book is a little uncomfortable. But it’s uncomfortable like looking at car wreck as you drive by. You can’t help but look and send a prayer.
  • Timebound by Rysa Walker – I did not want this book to end. This is another time travel book. A girl realizes her grandmother and grandfather are time travelers and she discovers she has the gift to travel back in time too. And OH MY GOD, AMAZON. Kindle. Who’s in charge of telling me this information? IT’S A TRILOGY. No wonder I wanted more. Ok, Scott. You still reading?  You can add Time’s Edge and the Time’s Divide. Thank you.
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – I’m not a smart person. I’m not a smart reader either. This book made me feel smart. It’s about a woman discovering a family secret. She sets out to solve the secret – to find the real Dracula that hasn’t died in thousands of years.
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – Clearly, I have a time travel book problem. I know this is a movie with Rachel McAdams but the book is better. This is a love story. The husband time travels to his past and his future. He doesn’t get a choice when he travels, he just disappears. He knows his future before it happens but he has to put the pieces together like a puzzle because he doesn’t travel in order.
  • The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls – This is not a time travel book. It’s a true story. Jeannette Walls writes about growing up poor, living a nomad life with her mom, dad and siblings. Today, she is a news writer for She hid her flawed upbringing until she wrote this book.
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – This book reminds me of Game of Thrones but uh oh. Time travel. I need a new book genre.

And there you go. These are just at the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll think of 20 more time traveling books I forgot to tell you about.

There. Done writing for today. Now I just want to read. You should read too.


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What if.

Scott is out of town and he took my computer. He left me with his computer to use tonight. I swear on my life there’s a dead tick under the “j” key.




Wow. November 28th. It’s my 28th day writing in a row. Am I spiraling downhill yet?

Story time!

Do you ever think about how the smallest decisions can turn your life down a whole new path? Maybe you forgot your wallet at home while going to work. You turn around, only you turned away from an accident that would have left you with life-threatening injuries. Or maybe you agreed to make sweet, sweet love to your husband and for the next two years you don’t get one full night’s sleep because there’s a tiny human hanging on your teet, calling you mama.

I’m not complaining, I’m just making a point.

Small decisions can turn into huge decisions. The built-in huge decisions are definite road-turners. What will your major be in college? Are you ready to sign on the dotted line for your new house? Do you take this woman to be your wife? Or are you sure you want to make sweet, sweet love tonight because you know what happened last time.


Thank you, Forrest Gump. This is the point I’m trying to make.

I can’t seem to put the words together because it’s day 28 of the November writing challenge.

It was all Scott. He’s the one that got me thinking.

Scott: Do you know how much money I’d have if I never got married or had kids?

Me: Well, I know you wouldn’t be living in this 4 bedroom house.

Scott: I’d be on a farm.

Me: That sounds lonely. I guess anywhere would be lonely if you didn’t have a family? Maybe? Would you be a farmer?

Scott: No. Maybe. I don’t know.

Me: I don’t see you by yourself on a farm.

Scott: I’d probably be roommates with Brett and Kitt down in Florida.

Me: Hm, your wives.

Scott: Bachelor pad.

Me: Wait a minute! You would be living in South Florida with Brett and Kitt? And you won’t move your real family to Florida?? Come on! I thought you hated living in Florida!

Scott: Florida is good for bachelors.

Me: That’s bullshit. I wonder where I would be?

Scott: Your ass definitely wouldn’t be living here.

Me: No, probably not. If we never met, and I never got married and never had kids all these years…hmmm…

Scott: Not in Kansas.

Me: Yeah, I’d hightail it out of here. I’d be in a tiny apartment in New York City. YES! Maybe Chicago. I’d be in a big city. Well, maybe. It’s hard finding friends in a new city. I think it would be harder if I didn’t have kids and other moms to meet. I don’t know. I’m not good at making friends.

Scott: You would make friends.

Me: Maybe I’d move, like, way far away. Like England. Can I just get up and leave the United States and move to England? Would that make me unAmerican? I bet it’s easier to make friends there. I’d have an American accent and that’s always a good conversation starter.

Scott: England.

Me: Too cold? Wait, I guess so is New York and Chicago. You’re lucky you can live in Florida and have built-in friends there. I don’t have a city where I have built-in friends. Where do you think single-me would go? Which city?

Scott: Florida.

Me: Ohmygosh! I’d meet you at a bar! Awww! We would have K-State in common. And I’d tell my new friends that you look like Prince Harry. And that’d be your nickname – Prince Harry. 35-year-old us would get married! And you could take me fishing! And we’d have two daughters, named Emma and Kate. Maybe. My eggs went bad yesterday.

Scott: What?

Me: Advanced maternal age. 35. You know, I get the check mark if I ever get pregnant. It’s just harder to get pregnant. Starting yesterday. OH GOD. We’d have twin girls. Emma and Kate twins.

Scott: Huh?

Me: Eggs start dying off and they start shooting doubles and triples. But I’d get my wish of living in Florida with you and the girls. That’d be nice. The kids would be tan. And they’d cuss at us in Spanish.

Scott: Nope. Moving back to Kansas.

What if Scott and I never met? That means Emma and Kate wouldn’t exist. That means I would have never started a blog with a mommy group in 2009. That means I wouldn’t be sitting in front of this computer, trying to avoid hitting the “j” key. 

Gross. It crunched.


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Dear Football Gods.

Dear Football Gods,

It’s November 27th. It’s my 35th birthday.

35 candles to wish on. 35 flames extinguished on one wish.

Did you feel it?

I won’t come to you asking for my health or food on my plate. I won’t ask you to forgive my horrible, unspeakable sins. I won’t come to you asking for world peace.

That’s not the kind of deals you make. I know that. What I’m asking you doesn’t involve peace of any kind.

In fact, maybe I’m sending a prayer up to the Football Devils.

Whoever you are, you are up there performing miracles on Hail Marys or shifting the winds ever so much for a kicker to miss a field goal. Whoever you are, I blew out candles tonight for you.

I want a Kansas City Chiefs win over the Denver Broncos on this night, November 27th, 2016. On my 35th birthday.

Would I put my health, empty plates, unforgiving sins and world peace on this game? Why, yes I would. Are people calling me childish for not inviting friends over because they are Broncos fans? Yes, Scott did call me childish. Did I wake up this morning and think, “today’s the day! Chiefs vs. Broncos! The day the Chiefs will win because it’s my birthday.” Why, yes sir, I did. 

You see, I’m a good fan. I’m what a fan should be. I will not deviate from The Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals, Sporting KC, or the Kansas State Wildcats. The lows and the highs, I’m there. I pray to you. I cuss at you. I cry. I scream. I trash talk on Twitter. I text my football soulmate, Carmen, because she understands that my behavior is not childish behavior, it’s just superstitious behavior. I laugh. I smile. I high-five. I threaten to pull out the 4th of July fireworks. I pray.

I pray to you again. Please. I didn’t even do anything that fun today because I have a cold. I have a cold on this grey, rainy day in Kansas City. Only you can pick me up.

All I want is a Kansas City Chiefs win over the Denver Broncos on this night, November 27th, 2016. On my 35th birthday.

Thank you.

And thank you for nicknaming the Denver Broncos, “donkeys.” That’s hilarious.

Julie, the 35-year-old Chiefs fan.


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34 things I learned in 34 years.

Today is my last day as a 34-year-old.

In a lifetime, 35 isn’t old. It’s probably better defined as the era of your prime.

To my younger siblings, I’m old. To Scott, I’m young – even if it’s only by four months. To my kids, I’m old. My ob/gyn is checking off the advanced maternal age box – not that that will ever be checked. 

35-years-old. There’s no hiding that I am an adult. I’m not old and wise but I’m not young and dumb either. I learned a few things. As I toast off 34 years, I can reflect how much I’ve grown since that bitter cold November morning in 1981.

34 things I learned in 34 years.

  1. People aren’t against you, they are for themselves. I saw this quote floating around Pinterest. This doesn’t mean people are evil or selfish. It just means the world isn’t against you. It’s nice to remember when someone is flipping me off on the highway.
  2. There comes a point in parenthood when others tell you, “your kids are so cute” to “your kids are so big.” And that’s a sad day. I’m used to it. I get it – they’re big.
  3. When ordering a beer or wine or whiskey shot at the bar, always ask for a glass of water with it. You’ll thank me tomorrow.
  4. No amount of advice, money, or prayers can prepare you for parenthood.
  5. Yes, you do too have room for dessert. 
  6. The labrador retriever is the world’s friendliest dog. But damn, they are some shithead puppies before earning that world title.
  7. The book is better. *Except for Game of Thrones. That’s the only exception. **My own opinion. Don’t throw books at me.
  8. A pet’s death is just as traumatic as a family member’s death. You have every right to mourn a pet as you would a human. You have every right to tear up while writing a list of 34 things you learned.
  9. Everyone has a good, gossip-worthy story. No one is that boring.
  10. Marriages’ change. You are not the same people after 1 year, after 5, or after 10 years. Respect each other as you both change.
  11. Ask an expert, not the internet. I learned this from writing for a magazine. Someone that is an expert in their field puts every waking hour into their job. They are filled with information that is 100 times better than google.
  12. I don’t know why but music is a mood changer. Use it often.
  13. Having children means you will relive your past. Middle school. I’m talking about middle school. The only advantage from this seat on the roller coaster from hell is you can tell your kid about the light at the end of the tunnel. You can tell them how old bullies will write you and tell you they’re sorry.
  14. Everyone is human. Everyone makes mistakes. We have all had a shitshow at some point. Apologize when you can. Accept apologies and move on. Remember you are for yourself. Don’t be against the world. 
  15. It’s acceptable to blow up at the word, “relax.” I am still female.
  16. Have the guts to say no.
  17. Have the guts to say yes.
  18. Speak about others as if they were in the same room. This also goes towards people hiding behind a keyboard. Keep unkind thoughts to yourself.
  19. People are put into your life for a reason. People are taken away for a reason too. You can learn from every one of them. Everyone has a story.
  20. Age doesn’t matter when you become a parent. The 25-year-old mom of a preschooler has a lot in common with the 45-year-old mom of a preschooler.
  21. Donate when you can. This can be material things or just your time. Never expect a thank you. (Scott taught me that one)
  22. Find your passion and focus on it. When you find it, be 100 times better than google.
  23. Time doesn’t heal everything. Time shifts everything but it doesn’t heal. You need to use time to adjust.
  24. Get dirty. Jump in the pool. Jump in the ocean. Jump in the mud. I guarantee you’ll smile. (Scott taught me that one too)
  25. Tip well. Maybe they’re having a bad day.
  26. Find a sports team and never let go of them.
  27. Take pictures with your kids. I didn’t say take pictures of your kids. I said take pictures with your kids. Selfies are acceptable. Your kids will thank you when they’re older.
  28. It’s always acceptable to bring a blanket to the movie theater. 
  29. Learn how to give a firm handshake. My first internship boss taught me this. I was embarrassed at the time but I’m grateful he taught me. If I learned anything from that internship, it was the handshake.
  30. Compliment strangers. You’ll make their day.
  31. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a pair of flip flops to a wedding. Or hot pants under the dress if they’re serving whiskey.
  32. There is no material gift in the world that can top visiting a place you’ve never seen before.
  33. When playing roulette, always split the green zero and green double zeros. I’ve won a lot of money in Vegas with that bet. It’s also a nice reminder that the world isn’t black and white. Or black and red.
  34. Remember to tell your mom, “Happy Labor Day” on your birthday. The day is just as special to her. (My kids taught me that)


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Duke’s dog treats.

You’re lucky I’m not a food blogger. I hate bacon.

I also can’t cook.

“Oh Julie, yes you can.”

Knock it off, old ladies from the 1950s. No, I can’t.

I don’t like cooking. I don’t like baking. The main reason for my dislike is I’m impatient. It bores me. I’m not interested. There are too many fractions. It’s just like walking into a chemistry lab, blowing something up, the teacher/child food critic gives you an F, you feel bad, and then you have to clean up the mess.

Grab me a pencil and point me to the English class. I’ll blow your mind in English class.

“Don’t you get bored writing something every day? Doesn’t it feel like a chore?”

Knock it off, Scott. If it felt like a chore, I would quit.

I’ll be writing a recipe today.

It’s one I make every year. I look forward to this recipe. I haven’t met a food critic that didn’t love me after trying this recipe. These food critics love this recipe so much that they lick the bowl, utensils and my fingers. I don’t need to clean much.

Meet Stella, the food critic.


Stella, look at me.

Ah ha! Now look!


Who’s your mama, Stella?

Peanut Butter Dog treats. They’re easy. They’re loved. And if you give your neighbors a treat bag for their fur babies, they’ll totally look the other way when your husband hangs dead animals up in your garage. 

Duke’s dog treats.

*I named them after my in-laws yellow lab, Duke. He passed away years ago. My mother-in-law, Kathy, used to bake these for Duke. I stole her recipe and make them for every dog I know. I haven’t heard one complaint. They must be good. Duke said so.


Duke’s dog treats.

2 C Whole wheat flour

1 T Baking powder

1 C Peanut butter

1 C Skim milk

1/2 C oatmeal


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour, oatmeal and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. 

Add wet mixture to dry and mix well.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut using cookie cutters. 

Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Cool on rack and store in an airtight container.


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To Emma.

To Emma,

You are me. Ok, you’re not me me.

You’re the daughter I always pictured when I was a kid. I could see you in my mind. I could see you every time I looked in the mirror at 10-years-old, 15-years-old, and 20-years-old. You had dark hair and dark eyes. You had my face. You didn’t exist, of course.

Then you were born. I’ve watched you grow from a baby to a toddler to a preschooler to a 10-year-old. You’re a miniature version of myself.


And here I am, at 34 years old, sitting with my 10-year-old self at Thanksgiving. You’re not a clone obviously, that’s genetically impossible.

You’re better than a clone.

You got the best of your dad. You are your dad. You hunt and fish. You have more deer mounts than any 10-year-old I know. A Thanksgiving turkey can be had with a drop of your bow and arrow. When you’re hurt, you rub dirt on it. You are the happiest when you’re outdoors. You are never scared.

On this Thanksgiving – I am thankful for you, Emma. In some ways, I feel like you grew up with me. You are the little girl I pictured myself with one day. I just didn’t know you would turn out to be a badass too.

And don’t say badass at the dinner table. Only your dad and I can call you a badass.

I love you, Emma Grace.

Love, Mom



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To Kate.

To Kate,

You were born on May 7, 2009. Your dad remembers your birthday as 5-7-9. This day is one of only six dates in this century that has three consecutive odd numbers.

A rare and odd birthday. It’s fitting. You were rare and odd when I first met you. You were born with sparkles in your hair. Yes, I did have drugs when I gave birth to you but hear me out – when the sun hits your hair just right, a single strand has a million colors.

Against all Mexican genetic domination odds, you have your daddy’s blonde hair.


It’s darkened as you’ve gotten older. Most people probably wouldn’t call you a blonde anymore. But I still see the sparkles.

On the eve of this Thanksgiving – I am thankful for you, Kate. You were handed to me by a nurse on May 7, 2009. I couldn’t believe the baby with the sparkles in her hair was mine. I am thankful I am your mom.

And damn you grew up to be funny.


My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is after Thanksgiving we celebrate my mom’s birthday. We basically have to get her a little more because Christmas is coming up. My mom is jealous of me, Emma and my dad because we all have summer birthdays.

You’re right. I am jealous of May 7. I love you, Kate Audrey.





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