For the adventurer.


I don’t know how you got here but here you are. You stumbled upon my blog.

My name is Julie. My family nickname is Bug, if you’re curious where the “Bug” came from in “Bug Bytes.” And “bytes,” well – it’s a decision I regret. I don’t know what a byte is but it has something to do with computers.

Bug on the computer.

I’m married to Scott. There’s a lot I could say about Scott but for now, all you need to know is he’s my husband.

I have a daughter, Emma. She is 11 years old and in 6th grade. It’s called middle school now, not jr. high. Just so you know.

I have another daughter, Kate. She’s 8 years old and in 3rd grade. She’s a good kid other than she refuses to “fake smile” for pictures.

There they are. My family. We live in the Kansas City area. No, we don’t live on a farm. This is at Home Depot. We have Home Depots in Kansas.


There’s nothing special about us or this blog. It’s just a place for me to write about my life as it happens.

I write for a Kansas City magazine – Simply KC magazine.  I am a contributing author to the New York Times Bestselling “I Just Want to Pee Alone” series, a parenting anthology titled, “But Did You Die? Setting the Parenting Bar Low” by a Bunch of Know-It-Alls. and you can find my words sprinkled around the Internet.


I am a humor writer.

There you go. Sometimes you need a re-cap on who I am and what you’re reading. I am a writer, wife, mother.


You would think I have a handle on parenting after 12 years of being a parent – but no, I don’t. The rules keep changing. You know – the rules:

“Jarred baby food is bad. It’s best to make your own baby food.” – Whoops.

“Keep your children on a consistent bed time.” – But how will they catch the lightening bugs at 10 p.m. in the summer?

“Don’t read your kids’ notes they pass to friends in class. Respect their privacy.” – But that’s the highlight of my day – opening a backpack stuffed full of post-it notes. ‘Can I borrow some duck tape?’ – ‘Well aren’t you fancy.’ I just want to make sure my kids are funny in the written form.

“Limit screen time.” – Limit screen time. I agree with that. Adults should limit their screen time too – ah hem, Kardashians. It’s not good for your eyes or your butt.

I don’t limit my kids screen time.

Computers, iPads, iPhones – or Androids! Sorry! Shoutout to the Androids – texting, social media. We’re raising kids in a digital era. I want my kids to be proficient in technology. They need to know how to open a website. They need to be able to speak the digital language if they’re going to be successful as adults. They need to know how to be safe on the Internet too. I’m not saying I give them full access.

I am also an ambassador for National Geographic Kids. I let you know what’s going on inside those big National Geographic Kids offices in Washington, D.C.

National Geographic Kids partnered with Pleyboxes are a monthly subscription box for kids. Each Pleybox takes kids on an adventure to a different part of the world. The amazon, the arctic, the virunga. The virunga is the home of gorillas – didn’t know that, did ya? That’s National Geographic Kids. 

This is the Great Barrier Reef Pleybox. I believe this is month two in the series.


And this is what you get inside: A National Geographic Kids Great Barrier Reef t-shirt, a National Geographic Kids book, a sticker sheet, a cloth bracelet, two small figurine animals from the Great Barrier Reef, an activity booklet, a certificate of achievement, and access to a online digital games that features the Great Barrier Reef – because kids in this generation still need to learn from a computer. National Geographic Kids knows this. We all know this.


These two figurines are pretty small, hence the 5-11 age group recommendation.


National Geographic Kids books are magical unicorn books that get kids to read. And even I still learn something new from them – hello, virunga gorilla land.


You like that trick, don’t ya. That’s the power of the digital age. Watch, I’ll do it again – the activity booklet.


If you’re looking for a Christmas present that keeps on giving to the kids – check out There are also pleyboxes focused towards younger kids, without the small toys and chapter books. You can choose just one box or six boxes or subscribe all year.

Here are some deals I’m passing along, if you order before December 19th. All orders placed before Dec. 19 at 12 p.m. EST are guaranteed to be delivered for Christmas.

  • Get your 1st Disney Princess Pleybox for $10 (+shipping), when signing up for a subscription (CODE: DP10)
  • Get your 1st National Geographic Kids Pleybox for $10 (+shipping) when signing up for a subscription (CODE: NG10) — This is ours.
  • Get your 1st Hot Wheels Pleybox for $10 (+shipping) when signing up for a subscription (CODE: HOT10)

One more thing! Oh my gosh, how can I forget?

You remember my daughter, Kate? The one that is a good kid but doesn’t “fake smile” for pictures?

This is Kate after exploring the contents of the Pleybox, playing the Great Barrier Reef computer games, and wearing her new National Geographic Kids t-shirt.

She smiled for a picture.


And there’s your review from the most brutally honest kid, behind-the-scenes at National Geographic Kids.


Link: National Geographic Kids

Link: The Virunga


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”


Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 11 and Kate is 8. 


Me: Why are you so evil?

Kate: Must be genetic, MOM.


Me: You jealous I saw Bruno Mars in Atlanta?

Kate: You jealous I saw Bruno Mars in Kansas City and he said, “Hey, Kansas Citaaaaayy!”


Me: Were you guys hot or cold last night?

Emma: Hot.

Kate: Hot and cold.

Me: How can you be hot and cold?

Kate: I got hot but then I just put one leg outside the blankets.


I chaperoned one of Kate’s field trips. It was at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop, a working farm where kids learn about 1860s Kansas and the trails to the west.

Employee: What did the kids do for fun on the Oregon trails? Remember they had to walk the whole way to Oregon.

Boy: Play on their iPads.

Employee: No, they couldn’t do that because they didn’t have….anyone?

Kate: WIFI!


At Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop.

Employee: Welcome to the California Trail! You read in the newspaper that someone found a little bit of gold in the Sutter River in California! 2,000 miles away, a 4-month trip! Would you give up your home and drag your family to California for a tiny bit of gold?

Class: No!

Kate: YES!


Me: Let’s go to the pumpkin patch!

Kate: I want to bring a friend with us.

Me: I’m your friend.

Kate: No, you’re my mom.

Me: Your friend too.

Kate: No, my mom.

Me: And friend.

Kate: No.


I picked up Kate from school.

Me: Where did you get gum? Did your teacher let you have some?

Kate: My friend gave it to me at the end the day. Because, you know, it’s the end of the day and I’m outta here so the teacher can’t tell me no.


Stella put her head on my chest while I was laying on the couch.

Kate: I think she wants milk.


Me: Take a shower!

Emma: Nah, ponytail day tomorrow.

Kate: Good one, Emma! Ponytail day.


Me: See, Kate? That’s it. The eye doctor is the easiest doctor you’ll see. No needles.

Eye doctor: Yep! Easy!

Kate: Hair cutter doctor is easy too.


Kate: What are you doing?

Me: Watching our Uber Eats guy drive on the map.

Kate: What?

Me: You can see his car. Look.

Kate: No, I’m not a stalker like you.


Me: Any other questions before you babysit Ethan?

Emma: So when he goes to bed, do I just sit in the corner of his room and watch him sleep?


Me: Hey, do you two have any floss in your bathrooms? Can I borrow some?

Emma: I’m out.

Kate: No floss in my bathroom either.

Me: So what have you been flossing with?


Kate: I have one string left for me tonight.


Me: Your teacher gave you such a good report at conferences, Kate! You’re the kid that is friends with everyone!

Emma: Pssh. She’s not like that at home. She’s evil here.

Kate: One time I saw Emma’s name on a test and I crossed her name out.


I took Kate out to eat at a restaurant while Scott and Emma hunted.

Me: You want guac, don’t you?

Kate: How did you know what I was thinking?

Me: I’m your mom and I always know what you’re thinking.

Kate: What am I thinking now?

Me: You’re thinking I don’t know what you’re thinking.

Kate: WRONG. I’m thinking of Eric Hosmer eating a taco. (KC Royals first baseman)


Emma: Which celebrity do I look like?

Me: Probably anyone that looks like me.

Kate: I know! You know that one actress…she’s in that one movie…Oh! Yes! I remember! POOP!


Emma: Who was your first concert, dad?

Scott: Smashing Pumpkins.

Emma: Play them.

Scott put on Smashing Pumpkins in the car.



I put on Snoop Dogg. I start singing and dancing in the car.

Me: “Drop it like it’s hot….Drop it like it’s hot. When the pigs try to get at you…Park it like it’s hot…park it like it’s hot.”

Emma: Gross, mom. This sound so old.

Kate: You’re dying mom, face it.


Me: Ok, looks like one of you will take your cousin Ben for Christmas. And one of you will take Lucy.

Kate: I CALL LUCY! I like her style of stealing Ben’s toys away on FaceTime.


Me: Did you brush your teeth?

Emma: Yes, we both did.

Me: Floss?

Kate Who does that?


Me: Hey, Emma? Can you pour me a little bit more wine?

Emma: Sure. Hey, wait, how do I open this?

Me: It’s already opened. Just pull the cork with your hands.

Emma: It’s not working!

Kate: Got it.

Kate walked over to Emma. Put the cork in her mouth and yanked. And then poured the wine.

Kate: You don’t pour a lot of wine in a glass, Emma. Just like a few inches. And there we go. Ready to serve!


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”


Life isn’t fair.

 Life isn’t fair. 

That was my original post for today.

My original post was about me reading books my whole life. Authors are my heroes. They pull me in with words, like magic. They keep me up at night and I never want to let them go. I wonder what kind of world lives in their heads. Other than a few local authors, I’ve never met my favorite authors.

Scott reads one damn book since college and a few days later, by coincidence, he meets the author. 

Scott rolled through the library’s book drop, returned the book, headed to the airport, arrived in Florida, sat through a few sales meetings, showed up for the inspirational speaker tonight and Robert O’Neill walks out.

Robert O’Neill is the author of the book Scott read.

Scott met the man who killed Osama bin Laden.


The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior by Robert O’Neill.

And that was where my blog post was supposed to end. Scott reads a book – he meets the author. I read 1,000 books – I meet two authors. Life isn’t fair, in my egocentric point of view.

But sometimes my blog is its own creature. It weaves through my life, repeating itself, giving me lessons and sometimes, even a theme shows up. My day – my blog post – decided it wasn’t over.

I heard the words life isn’t fair one more time today.

I asked Emma and Kate if they knew who Osama bin Laden was.

Kate: Nope.

Emma: Maybe. His name sounds familiar.

Me: Osama bin Laden was the guy that planned 9/11. He was a terrorist. He was the reason why two planes hit the Twin Towers in New York and another plane hit the Pentagon and another plane crashed in a field. Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Emma: He was?

Kate: GOOD.

Me: I believe an American woman found where he was hiding but a group of men on the SEALS team went in to kill him. Daddy met the guy who shot Osama bin Laden. Here’s the picture daddy sent. His name is Robert O’Neill.

Emma: So wait, that guy with dad – is he good or bad?

Kate: He’s a good guy, Emma.

Emma: But shouldn’t he be in trouble for killing a person? Shouldn’t he be in jail?

Kate: Pssh, no. That Osama guy needs to be dead.

Me: He didn’t get in trouble because he had orders from President Obama to kill Osama bin Laden. He was doing his job, a very dangerous job. The President wanted Osama bin Laden dead because he was still a big threat to America.

Emma: Ohhh. Ok.

Kate: All those people died on the airplanes. Still not fair.

Me: No, it’s not fair. But Robert O’Neill probably saved others before Osama bin Laden got to them.

Kate: And now he’s got his arm around daddy.


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”




The after-fire commentary by Emma and Kate.

Day 11.

Over a third of the way done.

If you’re just now joining me, I am writing every day for the month of November. It’s called NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month. I am a part of a writing group that calls it Nano Poplano because peppers sound better.

All you need to know is that I’m posting every day. I don’t plan the posts. I sit down when I figure out what I’m going to write about and I write.

Two days ago, I wrote about a 9-1-1 call I made. My toaster caught on fire. [If only the firefighters didn’t call me gluten free]

It’s the most popular post during this writing challenge so far. Writing a story like that is easy to me because the story wrote itself. If you re-read about that day, the only people that didn’t make an appearance were my children. My daughters, Emma and Kate, were at school at the time.

They’re making their appearance now.

The after-fire commentary by Emma and Kate Burton:


Emma: Wake up, mom!

Me: Hey, boo. Will you turn on my coffeemaker? All you have to do is flip it on, I already set it up last night.

Emma: Yeah. Hopefully you didn’t screw that up and it catches fire too.


Kate: So what happened when you dialed 9-1-1?

Me: Well, they ask what kind of emergency it is.

Kate: (high-pitched voice) Um, hi! My name is Julie Burton. And um, I, like, totally set my toaster on fire. I am a horrible cook. (laughs). Can a firefighter save me?


Kate: I told my class you set our house on fire with a toaster.

Emma: I told all my friends too!


Me: I wish you girls were here to see the firetruck. Here’s a picture.

Emma: No, mom. So embarrassing. The smoke alarms didn’t even go off.


Emma: Can I have Eggos?

Me: Uh, no toaster.

Emma: Toast?

Me: What about bread and butter?

Emma: That is so disgusting. Who sets a toaster on fire?

Me: I didn’t do it on purpose! I’ll put a toaster on my birthday list.

Emma: Here, just buy one today and that’ll be my gift. Don’t make us wait that long for Eggos.


Kate: Does dad know you called 9-1-1?

Me: Yes. I called and told him what happened. Why wouldn’t he?

Kate: I don’t know. Sounds like something you would tell us not to tell dad.


Kate: I’m going to make biscuits for breakfast. Is that ok?

Me: Sure.

Kate: Don’t worry. I won’t burn the house down like you.


Kate: Hey, Emma! Remember when mom set the house on fire with a toaster and the firefighters showed up without a smoke alarm?


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”



Should have drank the whiskey.

How did you sleep last night?

How did I sleep last night?

How did you sleep?

I’ll tell you how I slept – shitty. I slept shitty.

I wasn’t prepared to sleep shitty. In fact, I was going to have an amazing night’s rest. Scott went out with some friends last night and he left me in all my fabulousness in the middle of my king size bed. I pulled the comforter back and crawled in. I opened my phone to start scrolling, and poof. 

The hiss of the pillow blew out the sides of my head. There was half an inch of pillow in between my head and mattress.

What the hell.

I examined the pillow. The pillow case was mine. I squeezed the pillow. I could feel my palms touching each other between the pillow.

This is the world’s flattest pillow. 

I threw the pillow on the ground and grabbed Scott’s pillow. Poof. 

My head fell to the mattress.

Is this a joke? It’s like laying on a pillow case. Did Scott change our pillows? Why would he change the pillows? I’m so tired. I’ll ask him in the morning.

I fell asleep. Scott woke me up.

Scott: Hey, I’m home. Brett, Colby, and I are going to keep drinking in the kitchen. Come drink whiskey with us.

Me: No. What? Hey, wait. Did you change our pillows?

Scott: Huh? Why would I change the pillows?

Me: Feel how flat these are.

Scott: I didn’t touch the pillows. Come out if you want to drink.

Scott closed the door.

Now I’m wide awake. Maybe I should have a drink. Pillows. Flat pillows. These must have come from upstairs. I don’t have pillows down here. Guest room? But Brett and Colby are using the guest pillows. Hmmm…who would do this? Emma? Kate?

An old picture buried deep in my phone flashed in my mind – something about it stood out – a certain facial expression or the way she stood. It was like my brain pulled a file out for me to consider while searching for an answer.

I opened my phone. I scrolled back two years. There it was.

The tilt of her head and her small smirk. Her smile was not for the camera. Oh, no. Kate doesn’t smile for photos. The smile was for herself. The mischievous sparkle in her eye. It’s a sparkle she can’t hide from her mother.

Who changed my pillows?


It was Kate.

The mastermind behind the great pillow switch was Kate. Kate changed my pillows. I looked at the time. 12:54 in the morning. There was no way in hell I was going to wake her up and Kate knew this while pushing her flat pillow into my own pillowcase.

I fell asleep. I slept shitty. There was no pillow to hug. Nothing to flip to the cool side. Nothing. My head rested on nothing.

7:50 a.m.


Kate stretched.

Kate: Yes, mommy?

She smiled with her eyes closed. I yanked the pillow from under her head.

Kate: HEY!


The picture flashed in my head again.

Kate: Emma did it too! It’s so much more better.

Me: So you decided to take my pillows?

Kate: Uh, YOU took them from ME. Nana gave me and Emma those pillows and YOU took them first! YOU!

Me: That was like two years ago. Whose idea was this?


Me: I’m switching them back.

Kate: No, you’re not.

Me: While you’re at school. Yes, I am. I didn’t sleep at all last night on that pancake pillow.

Kate: Not very fun is it?

Me: Stop it. I’ll get you new ones.

Kate: You’ll get yourself new ones.


I should have drank the whiskey. Scott slept great.


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”


Snitches get stitches.


“I don’t want to hear it unless someone is dying.”

“Stop tattling on your sister.”

“But did you die?”

No one likes a gossip. Parents don’t like tattletales. Even the Supreme Court doesn’t like hearsay.

And no one likes snitches.

Because snitches get stitches.

The beauty of becoming an adult is you’re an adult. Anything you say or do is none of your parents’ concern anymore. Get arrested? Oh well. Didn’t pay your taxes? That’s your problem. Halloween candy for breakfast? Sure, go ahead.

Scott and I are living with a snitch. Her name is Kate. She’s eight. When something doesn’t go her way – she tells our parents.


Kate: Mom, can I see your phone? Hello? Nana? It’s Kate. YOUR SON THREW A CURVE BALL AT ME AND IT HIT MY BOOB. AND YOU NEED TO YELL AT HIM.


Me: Stop eating all the Halloween candy! It’s not good for you!

Kate: Your dad said it’s fine. YOUR DAD. PAPA. You have to listen to your dad so that’s your problem.


Kate: Dad, can I see your phone? Hello? Papa? It’s Kate. Will you come over here and pick me up? I want donuts. BECAUSE YOUR SON IS BEING LAZY AND WON’T GET HIS DAUGHTER BREAKFAST.


Kate: Wait, so why were you drinking sangria in this picture in Spain if you were in high school?

Me: In Spain, you have to be 18 to drink, not 21. I was 18.

Kate: Did your parents know?

Me: Not sure. I was 18, didn’t matter.

Kate: Telling your mom what you did.

Snitches get stitches. Snitches get thrown out on my blog.


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”



Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 11 and Kate is 8. 


I walked in the living room. Emma and Kate were watching Princess Diaries 2.

Me: Hey girls. Oh, I love this movie! Did you know Julie Andrews is Mary Poppins? (singing) Just a spoon full of sugar helps the….

Kate: Princess Mia is 21 and she can drink wine now.


Me: Don’t put a lot of salt on your food, please.

Emma: That’s your own opinion.


We took the girls to an outdoor concert in Minnesota. Kate followed me to the port-a-potty. I used the handicapped stall so we could both fit inside. I didn’t want her waiting outside in the dark by herself.

Me: Here, hold my wine glass.

Kate: Ok.

Me: And here.

I pulled my phone out of my back pocket. Kate “cheers” the wine glass to my phone.

Me: Hold my phone too.

Kate: Oh, I thought you wanted to cheers.



Kate: Knock it off, mommy’s teenage son.


Kate: Can I make lunch?

Me: Sure. We have mac and cheese, sandwiches, and ….

Kate: Blah blah blah.


Emma: KATE! Oh, my gosh! I think there’s a rat in your room!

Kate: WHAT!

Emma: Oh, wait. It’s you.


Scott: You can never have boyfriends, Kate and Emma.

Emma: Neither can you, dad.


Me: Let me pull that tooth out, Kate. It’s just hanging there.

Kate: No! I’m going to pull your teeth when they fall out!

Me: Mine already fell out. I have adult teeth.

Kate: I mean when you’re an old granny.


Kate: Where did you go?

Me: I did a workout class with Cody.

Kate: Did Cody make it funner?


In a crowded grocery store aisle.

Kate: Oooooo!! MOM! Remember these things?! Sooo good!

I took the margarita mix out of her hands and put it back on the shelf.


Me: You better not be texting boys on your iPod, Emma.

Kate: I have a boy I text.

Emma: What?!

Kate: Papa’s my boy.


I tried on a new shirt in front of Kate. I was checking out my backside in a mirror.

Kate: NOT cute on the back.

Me: What?

Kate: Just my opinion.


Scott, Kate and I went shopping at Nordstrom for their Anniversary Sale.

I took Kate to the kids section while Scott shopped in the mens. I checked out at the register.

Saleslady: These socks are nice colors.

Me: Oh. My husband picked those out for himself downstairs. He’s down there now.

Saleslady: Such a good deal too.

Me: Yeah, he’s good at finding deals.

Saleslady: These jeans are adorable.

Me: For my other daughter. She’s not here.

Saleslady: And I’m guessing these are for you, young lady?

Kate: Yeah.

Saleslady: And what about you? The whole family got something but you!



Kate walked in my writing room with one of my expensive charcoal facial masks smeared all over face.

Me: KATE! HEY! Is that my charcoal mask?! Those are so expensive! You need to ask me before you go through my face stuff.

Kate: (lips not moving because the mask hardened) Don’t make me laugh.


My in-laws were driving the girls somewhere.

Nana: People with food allergies are getting bad nowadays, huh? Even Southwest Airlines won’t serve peanuts if someone is allergic to them.

Kate: Maybe those people need to think about driving to their place.


Scott, Emma, Kate and I were driving in the car.

Emma: Can we go to Winstead’s? I love their shakes.

Scott: No.

Kate: Mom, you don’t have to let dad decide. You’re the mom, you know.


Emma knocked down Kate’s hula hoop.

Kate: HEY! Dad! She knocked down my hula hoop!

Scott: Then defend yourself, Kate. Hit her back!

Me: SCOTT. Don’t tell Kate that! She’s going to …

Kate hit Emma.



In the car.

Emma: Stop smiling, Kate. It’s annoying me.


Kate: Can I have a Luden’s? My throat hurts.

Me: Ok, but your friends can’t come back over.

Kate: What?! Why?

Me: If you’re throat hurts, that tells me you’re sick. I wouldn’t want your friends to catch something contagious from you.

Kate: (swallows) Just checking. Yeah, my throat doesn’t hurt anymore. Weird.


Special Edition: Oh, kids

Lane, 2nd grade: Has anyone ever told you that a candy cane looks like a crow bar?


Lane: Wyatt, rain is just God sweating.


Gabby, kindergarten: You can call me Cicada now.

Me: Like, the bug?

Gabby: Yes. That’s my name now. Cicada.


Me: Goodnight, girls!

Savannah, preschool: But I want to talk about booties.


Colton, 1st grade: I remember when Stella was a puppy!

Me: Aw, I know! She was so little!

Colton: She was tinier than my sister’s head.


Evelyn, preschool: Can I watch Sofia on your TV?

Me: Well, the TV isn’t working.

Evelyn: Maybe it’s dead and it needs to be charged.


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

This picture cost me $20.

I don’t post many pictures of my kids on social media.

It isn’t because I don’t want others to know what my kids look like or I’m trying to protect their digital footprint.

I am in a unique position when it comes to social media – I have public accounts. Anyone can look at my Facebook page, Instagram page or Twitter page. We don’t necessarily have to be “friends.” I made those public because it’s a platform to showcase my work. I’m a writer.

And to be honest, an Instagram account with pictures of my kids would be boring to everyone but me. It’s the same concept as handing someone my kid’s scrapbook – anyone can look at it and enjoy it but I am the most proud of it. Social media only shows the good memories. Happy moments. Sometimes people forget that and families appear to be perfect.

I’m not perfect.

My family is not perfect. Happy – yes, most of the time, we are. Do I patiently wait for my family to run out of clean clothes before they realize I’m retired from picking up their dirty clothes? Why yes, I do, because I’m a mean mom and evil wife.

I don’t post many pictures of my kids because I ask my kids’ permission to post pictures. Emma is eleven and Kate is eight. They both realize people they’ve never met will see the pictures. For the most part, Emma always gives me permission and Kate never does. I also never ask Kate because she rarely smiles for posed pictures. Her reason is because she “doesn’t like fake smiling” and no one needs to be in her damn business. Ok, she didn’t say damn but I know she’s thinking it.

I asked Kate to take a selfie with me at a neighborhood party this weekend.

She agreed.

I was shocked.

We took the photo.

Kate: That will be $20.

Me: What?

Kate: You heard me. I know you sold one of your books and you have a twenty dollar bill in your pocket.

Me: I’m not giving you twenty dollars to smile for a picture.

Kate: What if I let you put this picture on Instagram or Facebook?


This picture cost me $20.


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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?” 

Kate will take your money.

The letter P.

You guys, I fell asleep writing this last night.

I kinda want to leave it how it is because it slowly doesn’t make any sense which is exactly how life goes. I won’t do that to you. I’m re-writing P. And now I have Q to write today too and this is the point where I regret starting this A to Z writing challenge.

I struggled with P yesterday.

P is inappropriate – penis, poop, period, puberty, pimples.

P is boring. Pregnant. Oh, hell no. Pinterest. Meh. Purple. I don’t know. Pancakes! I suck at turning pancakes. There. That’s all I have on pancakes.

I decided to go with the mother of all Ps.

The letter P.


Parenting is a broad subject. I mean, what are we talking about here? Helicopter parenting? Newborn parenting? Teenager parenting? Biological vs. adopted parenting? Mothers vs. fathers? Step parenting? 

I’m not an expert. I’m not an expert at anything really. Even writing – am I an expert? “NO!” shouts every English teacher. I’m definitely not an expert on kids. I have two. I only know my own experience.

Unsolicited parenting advice on the school-age years? Maybe it’s more of a heads-up.

That’s the letter P for you.

  • If you have a daughter, you will need a bonnet. No, not for cutesy pictures when she’s an infant but for school dress-up projects. I don’t know why no one ever told me this – there are times in your kid’s school life that they will need to dress up like a pilgrim, the wax museum project, or a Civil War era woman. There’s always a bonnet and long skirt involved. Start looking now. And get your son a top hat.
  • It’s totally cool that your 2nd grader doesn’t know how to tie shoe laces. I still need to teach Kate. No one from the school has said anything to me about her velcro shoes. We’re cool.
  • Opposite sex parents are heavily favored. If you lost the lottery in passing your sex gene along, the school helps make it all ok. The father-daughter dance. The mother-son Kansas City Royals game. What about the mother-daughter? I’m special too, damnit. Oh! No, I don’t want to volunteer to plan an event.
  • Summer camps are worth every penny. Sure, it’s hard to shell out $400 for a 4-day, half-day camp for two kids but it will feel like a two-week vacation. Start saving money now. These things should have been paid for in February of 2014. The kid’s summer camp is a breath of fresh air in the middle of summer. A glorious Monday through Thursday in half day solitude. Bonus! Your kids will be exhausted.
  • You’ll ugly cry on the first day of Kindergarten. You’re a newbie parent. Us older parents – we get it – it’s a sad day. I give it one year and you, too, will be toasting your kid off to first grade with a coffee in hand, a skip hop back to your car, and the biggest smile on your face that will rival your wedding day.
  • After-school activities might just kill you. Financially and emotionally. Dinners are quick. Weekends are gone. It’s fine. We’re all fine. We totally have a life. I heard some great advice from my ear doctor – what? – cherish the time in the car. It’s really the only time you have trapped in an enclosed space with your school-aged kid. Use it to talk to them and tell them, “in my day, I didn’t have iPods to play with in the car so talk to me.”
  • Don’t you worry. If you have daughters, they will talk to you. And talk. And talk. And talk. WAKE UP! She’s talking again. I don’t have sons so I don’t know if they talk as much but the rumors are they don’t. I could be wrong, maybe it’s school-aged kids in general. My kids won’t shut up. I’m rambling. I’ll stop.
  • Long division will appear in your life again. It’s complete bullshit.
  • Foreign languages start earlier. This may vary from state to state or even district to district. My kids speak Spanish. They started learning Spanish from a girl named Dora in preschool and they never stopped. They know everything I learned in middle school. Middle school teachers no hablan ingles. By high school, my kids will be fluent in yelling at me in Spanish cuss words and I’ll be giving them the blinking Dora stare.
  • By the way, it’s called middle school. If you dare drop the words “junior high” your kids will scream at you. “No one says that anymore, mom! Stop it. That’s embarrassing.”
  • Practice equality with the kids. Your kids will remember. Kids won’t have any memories from before ages 4 or 5. Only you will remember your baby’s first step or your toddler using a plunger to plunge the potty training toilet. The school-aged years are fun because not only do you remember what happened but so do your kids. If you eat lunch at school with daughter number one, daughter number two will find out by recess. She won’t confront you that day. Oh no. She’ll file that shit in her brain. She’ll confront you months later and will threaten to tell her teacher that her mom plays favorites if you don’t eat lunch with her too.
  • Practice creativity because the parent projects are heading your way. Oh, yes. You will have homework such as printing off pictures of the family at midnight or interviewing Google headquarters. The parent at-home projects are 50% of your kid’s grade. The other 50% is to show off your parent skills in the hallway. I saw that on Pinterest, nice try. 
  • Remember that lice is not a medical threat. Lice isn’t a medical threat but it will make you want to set your house on fire because an arson charge is easier to deal with. Stop scratching your head. You’re fine.
  • Get a calendar. The school calendar will become a full time job. You won’t be able to memorize anything; it’s overwhelming. You will spend at least an hour of your life per week filling in spaces. If you let go of the calendar, your crazy mom will show because your life and your kids’ lives will collapse.
  • Dress your kids in something you would wear. My point here is that you will naturally want to make your kids’ lives better than your life at that age. I will never forget the day my junior high math teacher pointed out to the class that I was wearing roman numerals all over my shirt and she was so proud. The class busted out laughing and I’m just going to die right here in that memory.
  • Get a backbone. The insults are coming. You will be called the worst mother ever by your daughter and your daughter doesn’t even know why.
  • “Hi, this is the school nurse calling…” This is how your day gets ruined. Plus a doctor’s bill.
  • You’re always exhausted. Unlike new parents, you sleep through the night undisturbed. Doesn’t matter. You will fall asleep in bed while working on your favorite hobby. Parenting – it’s like magic.


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The letter K.

She came into the world with a middle finger up.

The wild child. She never did take a bottle. Her toddler nickname was “the bulldog.” She wouldn’t let me feed her baby food; she had to feed herself. She refuses to “fake” smile for pictures. The kid doesn’t take shit from anyone. Scott and I can tell which daughter is walking into our room at night based off the heavy footsteps of confidence. I’m scared shitless for her teenage years.

There’s only one.


The letter K.


Coming from a family of four kids, I knew what I was getting into with two kids. You need balance. Equality. Treat all kids the same or you will pay. I hope Kate never realizes we took Emma to Disney World for her 5th birthday and all Kate got a Kansas City theme park.

I wrote a blog post for the letter E – Emma.

I asked Kate if I could interview her for the letter K on my blog.

She told me to go straight to hell. I’m kidding. But she did tell me no one needs to know her business which is the 7-year-old equivalent of telling me to go straight to hell.

That’s fine. I expected this answer so I told her she could interview me. She agreed.

An Interview with Julie Burton by Kate Burton

Kate: What makes you cry?

Me: Geez, Kate. Well, when someone in my family is hurt or sick. I don’t like that.

Kate: That’s boring. Think of something else like the time Stella bit your earring off your ear.

Me: Yes, physical pain can make me cry too.

Kate: What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Me: Being your mom.

Kate: Correct. Next question. If you were two animals mixed, which two would you be?

Me: A fish and a human. I’d be a mermaid chasing a blue marlin.

Kate: Mom. Stop it. You can’t pick a human. Ok, new question – what is love?

Me: What is love? What kind of question is this? This is kinda abstract. Ok, let me try to put this in words. It’s a feeling. No. It’s, like, a strong desire to protect someone and you would do anything for. You love the soul.

Kate: You’re not answering the question right.

Me: Ugh! KATE.

Kate: If you could change anything on your body, what would it be?

Me: My honest answer? I’ve always wished I had smaller boobs.

Kate: Oh yeah. You got those big ‘ole boobies hangin’.

Me: Stop it.

Kate: If you owned a country, what would it be called?

Me: Uh, I’ve never really thought about…

Kate: NEXT! If you had a million dollars to spend, what would you buy?

Me: I’m not sure how big of a house it would buy – but I would love to own a vacation home in the Florida Keys. Right on the water. I would spend any money I had left on a boat. I’d be there all the time. Writing and fishing.

Kate: Correct. Work on that cuz I’m comin’ with ya. What is the best joke you’ve told?

Me: Oh. Ok, let me think…

Kate: Mom, you have bad jokes. You can skip this one.

Me: Wait, I tell bad jokes?

Kate: Mom. You’re not funny. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Me: I would love to fly. Travel to places like a bird.

Kate: Uh, no. You should have said snap your fingers and the house be clean.

Me: I thought you were interviewing me. You’re not supposed to change my answers!

Kate: Name some of your best friends. I’ll start for you – Christine.

Me: Ha! Yes, Christine. Cody.

Kate: Correct.

Me: KATE! This isn’t a right or wrong question!

Kate: Uh, yeah it is. It’s my interview.


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