Thursday, November 19, 2009

No money for Christmas

Dear Mom:

Now that the semester is almost over, I have been thinking more about Christmas. The problem? I have little money to spend on my friends and family. I want the gifts to look cool, not cheap. What should I do?


Penny Pinched

Dear Pinched:

Here's my take on cheap Christmas gifts that don't necessarily look it.

1. Think before you buy. Make a list. You will spend your small wad very quickly without one. Call this material hunger-sort of like going to the grocery store when your belly is crying out for food. Your Christmas list will help you curb the spending you might otherwise do without one.

2. Take the list wherever you go so that you can pull it out and remember your plan. Often I find the most creative items when I'm not looking for them. Without the list, you will be scrambling to remember if this gift will go along with your initial idea.

3. Get Creative. Every Christmas I shop at thrift stores for baskets to hold theme gifts. And every year my loved ones are thrilled about the thought and energy that it must have taken me to put it together. They don't need to know how much it cost me, and it shouldn't matter anyhow. A themed gift for the "cook" in my family can drum up many wonderful things such as a cookbook from Barnes & Noble (I get these on the discount racks right within the store) and the Dollar Store (I have also found some pretty neat utensils at a buck a piece).

4. Think Smart. If you are stressed for time, don't run, thinking you will find all the items on your list in one or two hours. Plan your day. Allow for an enjoyable experience, which goes without saying, don't do all of your shopping on Christmas Eve.

5. Shop with a friend who is budget conscious and/or take only cash, and when the money is gone, it's gone. When I write my list I also include a budget amount for each person. If I spend too much on one person, I am obviously left with less for another. I find it's usually best to stick to my original plan. Friendships are great motivators in sticking to your budget. A good budget conscious friend can persuade you to put the item on hold until your check with other stores to find the cheapest price, or to put the "horrible" gift idea back on the shelf. There is nothing worse than taking a gift back during the holidays that initially appeared "wonderful."

Good luck! And Merry Christmas!


This is my last semester at SLCC and I'm getting "trunky."

Dear Mom:

This is my last semester at SLCC and I'm getting "trunky." I don't have as much interest in my homework and I'm dreading finals. I just want it to be over.


Dragging my Heels

Dear Dragging:

Keep your chin up and keep walking. The last few weeks of any semester are never "joyous" especially the last one when you can finally see that old light at the end of the tunnel and hate the fact that you're still "in school." Just so you know, I'm here with you and I've had struggles of my own these last few weeks.

It is easy to start thinking, I've done pretty well the last few months, how could missing a few assignments hurt me? Or, I really don't need to go to class. I've gone all this time; what could missing a couple hurt?

Plenty. If nothing else keep going because you'll be able to take a better look at yourself later, you know, for not giving up and coming to the end of that grand old race. That's what I'm doing.

One of the things I have focused on is taking time out between assignments to clear my head and to have that well needed break. Another thing I have done is to cram all homework and study into one sitting; rewarding myself after all is said and done with a special treat-chocolate works fine at my house. I have also experimented with doing the worst homework first, ending with the best one from the stack. I have also joined with other students this semester who are feeling a bit more motivated than I am. Together, we get things done.

Whatever you decide to do, don't give up, the last leg of the race is at hand.
I will never forget what I heard Tim Allen say in one of his best movies-in my opinion. "Never give up; never surrender." The line is from "Galaxy Quest," though I have heard that the saying came originally from Winston Churchill. When I looked it up, however, this is what I found.

"We shall not flag nor fail, we shall go to the end; We shall never surrender" (Winston Churchill, Speech before Commons, 1940).
Similar language. Still, the message is clear, don't you think? Going to the end is a grand thing, something not to be missed.

Until graduation,


Monday, November 9, 2009

Ask Mom... Holiday Pickle?

Dear Mom,

My parents and in-laws have invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. We want to spend time with both families. What should we do?

Hungry for Fairness

Dear Hungry,

This is a dilemma I've had to deal with personally, probably the same dilemma most of us married folk have had to deal with. How do you balance out the holidays with two sets of parents? In this case, we're talking about turkey, stuffing and that infamous sweet potato. Then comes Christmas.

Used to be I could hardly think about it. Every year it was the same. The house we didn't go to for dinner would be disappointed at the very least. Sure, they would say they understood, but I could see the sadness in their puppy eyes. I wasn't stupid, you know.

Then my husband came up with this ingenious idea. We would go to both houses! Stuff ourselves sill and really enjoy the day! Unfortunately, both families planned the meal around the same time so going to both proved difficult.

We decided on another strategy - Thanksgiving Day swapping. The first year was the most difficult, of course. We went to my parent's home as I remember, and spent most of the day with them. The evening was spent at my in-laws' eating pie. The following year, we went to my husband's parent's home for dinner and came over to my home-away-from home for dessert.

For the most part this strategy has proved successful. However, there have been some years that we have forgotten whose house for dinner is on the agenda. Fortunately, the correct set of parents has informed us that it's "their turn."

As our children have grown older, there have been times we haven't gone to either house, preferring to have dinner at our own home or at the home of one of our children. This has meant we have had to get back on track with our parents and in-laws; no easy task.

In the long-run though, our parents from both sides have appreciated the swapping arrangement. Sure, they don't get us for dinner every year, but they do at lest get us for desert.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Would it be a good idea to take a "blind date" to a steak house?

Dear Mom:

Would it be a good idea to take a "blind date" to a steak house?



Dear Stuck:

When I first read your question, I thought, "Well, sure. I like steak, and most girls I know like a good meal. Why not?" A short but sweet answer.

While discussing this question with my husband, however, he quickly reminded me that questions aren't always asked at face value, and neither should they be answered that way. "What he's really asking," he said, "is if he should spend money on a girl he has never before set eyes on. Steak houses are not cheap," my husband continued. "By the time you're done with the steak, potatoes, dessert and drinks, you are looking at a nice fifty bucks."

Well, I knew that was right, at least subconsciously. I'd been on plenty of dates since I'd married my husband, a good percentage of them at steak houses, and we'd never gotten out of the place under anything less than forty and that was probably because we'd ordered water with our meal.

"You're probably right," I said. I don't like to admit when my husband is right, not even "probably" right, but this time, dare I say it, he was.

I started to think about the first dates my husband and I experienced before we married-a movie, a day at the zoo, a dance at the church house; and then my mind wandered to the sometimes less than desirable kind-those blind dates that quickly turned to chaos.
Here's one: This guy, I can't even remember his name, took me out on a date to Lagoon.

Remember this was a blind date. Expensive in its own right, but I haven't gotten to the good part. I wasn't even sure I liked him yet and he was taking me on all the "dark" and/or "smushy" rides. You know the ones.

What they used to call the "Wild Mouse," and those dark and stupid ones like "The Terror Ride," which they amazingly still have. I didn't even know I liked him but he kept reaching for me like the Grim Reaper. I was more than happy to come home and leave him for good, okay, even after all that money he'd spent on me.

Was the money wasted?

You bet it was. The guy was a creep. In about an hour I saw that guy for what he was and wanted nothing to do with him.

This brings me back to your question. Why spend an evening at an expensive steak house with someone you have no idea about? Okay, other than what the person who lined you two up, told you?

Better to go to a doughnut shop, hang out for a bit. Talk. You know. Guaranteed, in about an hour, maybe even less, you will know if you're interested. And then what are you out? A few bucks? An hour or two?
A lot easier to swallow, don't you think?



Monday, September 21, 2009

How do I get my kids to go to bed and stay there?

Dear Mom:

How do I get my kids to go to bed and stay there?


Lost in the Quagmire

Dear Lost:

You didn't tell me if your children are up to the same old tricks; the glass of water, numerous trips to the bathroom, never being satisfied with one story, but I have a feeling these tricks are being played to their fullest, otherwise your children would be in bed-asleep.

You may even be dealing with the dreaded television monster. "But the movie doesn't end until later" sort of excuse. My oldest daughter has resorted to using "the monster" to get her children to stay in bed. Yes, the television is in her children's room. She plays "Finding Nemo" or "Cinderella" or something else equally entertaining to her children, and usually by nine they are out. She says she was tired of their old tricks and decided that movies were the only way they were able to relax and go to sleep.

Other mothers and fathers have resorted to horseback rides to the bedroom, even personal songs they have made up themselves to coax their children to sleep, while others use a tape or CD version of their children's favorite songs played only at bedtime. And then there are the joke parents, who tell their children funnies before retiring or the story parents who tell their children a story about their personal past-something kids love and always like, say the experts. Then there are the bath parents, who use warm water, perhaps with bubbles, to sooth the muscles of their children before they put them in bed and the special goodnight kiss and hug ritual begins.
Though some parents have resorted to lying down with their children before they go to sleep, 33 percent said one Parent Center survey, others, 23 percent; say they merely get upset with their children and have no idea what to do. Four percent "revoke privileges" while another 7 percent, "put up a gate or lock" on their child's door. Only 5 percent out of the 23,298 surveyed admit they "give up and let [their child] stay up late," while 19 percent have the courage to take their child back to bed "as many times as it takes," leaving 5 percent who extend "other" techniques when their "child refuses to go to bed" (

What does this say to you?

What I see is less than 20 percent of parents following through with a bedtime ritual.
The greatest thing we can do for our children is to develop a fun routine with them, say the experts; a routine parents and children have set up together. Every night bedtime is the same. The time is the same, the routine is the same; whether the routine includes a horsy ride to bed and a bedtime song or the infamous story read-perhaps in a squeaky voice for effect.

Whatever you decide to do, don't cave in to any excuses your child gives you, including tears when the time has come. Take your children back to bed and keep taking them back to bed every time they get up. Don't give up. In time, your children will see you not only mean business, but will look forward to what used to be the most dreaded of all times!

Happy bedtime!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why is lint blue?

Dear Mom:

Do you take less than serious questions? Well, I have one. Why is lint blue? No matter what color I am wearing I get blue lint, even when I'm wearing red.


Blue Lint Hanging On Me

Dear Blue,

Your question made me laugh and then I had a thought. Thoughts come to me every now and again. It was almost like I was hearing the question, "Why is the sky blue?" all over again. I decided to look it up.

What I found was a course on belly button lint.

Seems there was a man by the name of Dr. Kruszelnicki who was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for his research in 2002 regarding belly button lint. For those of you who don't know, as I didn't, what the Ig Nobel Prize is, let me tell you.

Each year in the fall ten winners are announced for their parody in areas of science that at "first make people laugh, and then make them think" (

Such was the case with belly button lint and Dr. Kruszelnicki.

Kruszelnicki discovered some fascinating things about belly button lint, such as the "existence of navel lint [being] entirely harmless, and requir[ing] no corrective action," but perhaps more importantly, that the "navel lint's characteristic blue tint is due to the existence of blue fibres in clothing."

Another source revealed that the color of lint in your navel had to do with the color you were wearing, suggesting that if you wear blue clothes you will have blue lint.

Not a likely concept however, if you are getting blue lint from a red sweater, for example.

Still, this same source suggests that "if you wear lots of different [colors] then the lint collected is a kind of blue grey rather like the stuff you find in your clothes dryer" (

I couldn't help it. I started to ponder my dryer lint. Most of the time, yes, it was a sort of blue gray but occasionally, very occasionally it was pink. So what was up with that?

This brought me to Graham Barker who is the record holder in the Guinness Book of Records since 1984 for the collection of the most belly button lint.

Barker never collects blue in his button, but "a particular shade of red," though he rarely wears the color.

What's up with that?

No one seems to know. I even checked one site where the person's belly button lint was discovered in almost all the colors of the rainbow!

But I'm taking you a bit off track. You asked about blue lint, and not the lint in belly buttons, I am guessing, but the lint found on your favorite red sweater, for example.

I say the answer is the same. Whether the lint goes in your button or on your sweater's sleeve, the color will more than likely be blue for the "blue fibre" reason stated above.

If it's not, you might want to check with Graham Barker.


Friday, September 11, 2009

My parents hate my boyfriend.

Dear Mom,

My parents hate my boyfriend. Whenever he comes over my mom gives him the third degree; you know, how's the job, the grades, your life? My dad does the same thing, only he's a lot quieter and likes to glare at him. I feel as if they don't think he's good enough for me or something. What should I do?



Dear Bothered,

You might be right about your boyfriend not being good enough for you in the eyes of your parents. This fact rings especially true if you are the oldest child. And it doesn't help that you're a girl.

Parents tend to be more overprotective with their oldest child. And for some reason, being a girl only makes the matter worse. It took me having a second and third girl to mellow a bit and realize that my strict behavior with my first often shut the door to potential conversations both with her and those whom she dated.

That said, your parents want to know about your boyfriend so they will feel more secure about you dating him. If something creeps up in a conversation-he says something like, "I hate my job, it sucks," your parents may be inclined to ask even more questions on this subject because they are wondering how motivated your boyfriend is. If you become real serious, the last thing they want for their daughter is for her to be hooked up with some "loser" who can't hold a job.

This is not to say, however, that your boyfriend's job always needs to be exciting and that he always have to "like it," but your parents, whether you are their first-born or their third, are going to be concerned about someone who "appears" to lack motivation.

Another problem may arise with parents who see a huge age gap between you and your boyfriend. If this is the case with you, be assured that this would give your parents cause to worry. Say you are 20, just beginning college, and your boyfriend is 27. Seven years is a big gap, not only in levels of maturity but interests and attitude. And let's say your boyfriend is considering dropping out of college because "book work" just isn't for him.

Does this make him a loser?

Of course not. But it might be something you'll want to take a look at.

It may be that your parents don't like your boyfriend because he reminds them of someone else, maybe someone they dated whom they consider a mistake. They see similarities between the choice you are currently making, and the choice they made. They don't want you to go through what they had to go through. They are trying to protect you.

Take a look at their concerns. Talk to them. Express your feelings and don't leave your boyfriend out of the loop. He needs to be involved in understanding where your parents are coming from. They also need to understand his feelings.

You can be the catalyst for change. Invite your boyfriend to dinner. Invite him to join in some of your family activities. Talk to your parents about your concerns regarding their treatment of your boyfriend. Perhaps they like him after all-surprise! They are merely interested in learning more about him. But whatever the case, be respectful of your parents' views and in-turn, their hearts may soften.

If not, you will know you have done all you can. Though it's nice to have the support, it feels nice when your parents are positive about your choices in life, in the end, the decision of who you choose to spend your time with is yours.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

How do I teach my children that I need time to study?

Dear Mom,

I am a full-time college student. I am also a single parent. How do I teach my children that I need time to study; that along with being their mom, I also need time to do my homework?


Stuck between the lines

Dear Stuck:

Try not to pull your hair out. Balancing school and anything else-especially children-is no easy task. On the one hand, you want to make life better for your family, thus the interest in going to school. On the other, in order to have a good family life, time must be spent with your children. We all know this. And yet, how is this balance achieved?

I have a sneaking suspicion that having time for homework when children are around is something like talking on the telephone. Your children don't necessarily need your attention until you're on it. When they see you occupied with something, or someone besides them, they suddenly want your attention.

Why is that?

They need you, plain and simple. They need to feel your love, and they need to feel secure in their environment. This often means your undivided attention.

I have great respect for a friend of mine who waits to do her homework until her children are in bed. Only then is it "quiet enough" she says, to do it. Besides, she wants to spend time with her children as well. This is a good idea, but not the only solution.

Another friend takes her homework wherever she goes. She uses every spare minute to do her homework. Others I know take the bus. There is much you can accomplish on the bus, that is, unless you get "bus sick" like I do.
Spend at least ten minutes with your child doing something they love before pulling out your homework. Experts agree, by focusing on your child first, he or she will feel better about themselves and allow you to take some time to do what you need to do.

Keep a schedule. That is, have a time for homework, a time for dinner, a time to read stories before going to bed. Let your children in on the plan and stick to it. Children crave order and you will find that the more organized you are, the easier it will be to complete your homework.

Talk to your children about the importance of getting your homework completed. Ask for their help. Children are pretty smart. If you tell them, "I will need to work on homework until 7:30; after that, if you've been good, we'll go out for an ice cream cone," they will want to be good to receive the promised reward.

Have some toys in your home that are brought out and played with only when you are doing homework. Your children are less likely to be "bored."

Praise your child when they have been especially good while you have been working on your homework instead of focusing on their bad behavior during a similar time.

Praise equals better behavior.

Lastly, have your children give you ideas about what they would like to do while you are doing your homework. Get your children involved. Children like to be a part of anything new and exciting.

Happy homework!


Monday, August 31, 2009

How do I stay awake during class?

Dear Mom:

How do I stay awake during class?



Dear Sleepy:

I remember hearing a story not so long ago of a guy who fell asleep in class. He didn't wake up until the class was dismissed. Only after he'd gone to the restroom, did he notice the terrible secret-he had a lovely saying written on his face.
If this is you, I apologize for letting your secret out to those who didn't see you walking down the hall. In either case, it's really not a good idea to fall asleep in class even if you're afraid of seeing the words, "I am a cute guy," written across your left cheek (face that is).

As for me, this would be as good a reason as any to stay awake-except for this.
You may just learn something. If you haven't had enough sleep the night before, or have struggled to stay awake because the professor is well, boring, or the subject doesn't interest you quite near as much as "you know who" from across the room, or you would just rather be someplace else, listen up.

I tried this trick not too long ago.

I was in one of my classes. We meet at the un-heard-of hour of 8 a.m. (the hour I had signed up for, mind you) and I was just scrambling for a little shut eye when I realized I had begun to zone out. My body was in the chair, but my stomach, well; it was wondering what to eat for breakfast. The night before, I was up too late and the following morning I'd slept in as long as possible, not giving myself time for that most important meal of the day.

To make a long story short, I could have been that dead guy in "Weekend at Bernies," being carried around all day long. I was that dead tired. It was hard for me to focus, and participating, well, let's just say I was sitting quietly in my chair.
I have learned some things since then, and re-learned a few others.

First, always get a good night sleep. I know, I know, you have homework. You have a life outside of college. But you also have a life inside college. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night is essential for not only good health, but for mental and emotional functioning, and personal safety as well. Not surprisingly, only about 11 percent of students get it.

Second, eat a good breakfast. Simple enough, but harder to do when you are running out the door.

Third, study the material. Sure, your teacher may not ask you any questions on the text, but by looking over the material, you will be better prepared to contribute to class discussions and ask those questions if she does. By being prepared, you are not only better able to understand the material presented, but to be an active participant, and less likely to close your eyes.

Fourth, get some exercise. Walk the stairs to class instead of taking the elevator. Take the bus instead of driving your car. Take a morning walk before school. Most experts suggest at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will help you feel less sleepy.
Last, stress does wonders to your body. It can make you feel as dead and listless as a drowned cat. I know it and feel it every day I forget to take some time to smell the roses. Take some time.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mom Remembers

I still remember the morning.

I was sleeping easily in my bed, not wanting to get up and face the day.

A call came.

"Did you hear the news?" a voice asked. It was my sister-in-law and she was babbling about some buildings in New York, screaming into the phone. "You need to turn on the television!" she wailed.

I told her, half asleep, that I would, and then hanging up the receiver, closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. What did she mean the buildings? What had happened in New York? I couldn't sleep, suddenly got up from my bed and walked downstairs to the television. I was not prepared for what I saw.

It was like I'd suddenly been whisked into a horrifying movie, the reality of which didn't hit me for some moments. I watched the World Trade Center crumble before my eyes, and people, so many people rushing from buildings and down streets through white ash and destruction. Later, I would watch news broadcasts and see people dropping from windows, others walking through streets, blood dripping down their faces.

"The hijacked planes were used as a bomb to destroy [the] buildings and the people in them," I wrote in my journal the day following the attack. "At last count there were 800 lives taken. The TV was on all day yesterday and I have been a little slow in getting my day going. I am thinking about all of the people-dead because of a senseless act."

Soon enough I would hear about the terrorists, the heroes of flight 93 and the loved ones left behind. I would begin to pray more fervently than I had in previous days, and speak kindly to the lady ringing up my groceries at Smith's. For almost two weeks, no one would cut me off in traffic and I would think twice about doing the same to someone else.

Nine days following the attack, I recorded, "In the midst of war, it is difficult to see adversity as anything but terrible and life-consuming. But because it is also an opening of the soul, we can look at ourselves, and perhaps for the first time in months or years, discover where we have lacked, where we have forgotten. We [can] begin to see anew what is truly important in life. It isn't the stuff, or our jobs, or the business of the day-it is each other."

Here's to never forgetting.



Friday, August 28, 2009

I have a difficult teacher!

Dear Mom:

How do I handle a difficult teacher? I can't drop the class because it's the only time I have available.


Stressed out

Dear Stressed:

I know just how you feel. I have had my share of difficult teachers; and I'm not just talking about college.

When I was in the fifth grade, I had this pretty terrific teacher. We all liked him. His name was Mr. Wilde, and we thought his name fit perfectly. We were able to goof off in class, talk loudly and pretty much do what we wanted. We must have had assignments, but I don't remember any of that. I just remember how much fun I had.

The reason I mention this story is two-fold. First, I often think a teacher is difficult in the beginning when he or she expects more than the average amount of work from me. If I see tests, quizzes and the grand final on the syllabus all of a sudden I get freaked out. If I see that I have to write a lot of papers or that the teacher expects me to be in class-every time-or even if the teacher, bless his or her heart, expects me to get an A out of the class without offering even one ounce of extra credit, let's just say I'm a bit bummed out.

And then my greater senses take over. Did I really expect to get through college without having to make an effort, even stretch a bit? What would that degree mean if I was able to slide through every class? Probably not much.

Second, sometimes the teacher is difficult because he or she gives dry lectures, or ones I can't follow. This is hard because if I don't understand it, my grades are going to reflect it.

When I was young I used to be afraid to go up to the teacher and ask a question or raise my hand in class. I thought this would make me look stupid. Now, I know that not asking that question was stupid. I know that 99.9 percent of the time the teacher will be more than willing to help me, and if they're not, someone in class will be happy to help. And then, of course, there's the Learning Center on campus where I don't have to pay one red cent for help.

In the long run you can't change your teacher, but you can change yourself. Do all you can do in class to understand the material. Ask questions. Do your homework. Study your tests. Ask for help. Do I sound just like a mother?

You've got it.


Friday, August 21, 2009

How Do I Keep An Old Relationship Fresh?

Dear Mom:

How do you keep an old relationship fresh?


Bored to Tears

Dear Bored:

I can tell you first hand it isn't easy to keep an old relationship "fresh." The longer I've been married-and I'm going on 30 years mind you-the more I realize that things just ain't what they used to be.

This isn't always so bad. Because of the length of my relationship I feel much freer to express my feelings. If I have something negative to spout, it is much easier for me to do so. I am more comfortable in the relationship the longer I have been in it. I feel as if I can be my own person, and that my husband can be who he is as well. Dropped are all the games we played in the beginning; all the falsehoods about ourselves that we presented. We were on our best behavior, but with time came change and a falling away.

I am thinking this is what you must be feeling. Where is the romance that once was? Where is the fun? The laughs? Things have changed and you wonder how much longer you can wallow in the muck.

I remember feeling this way about a week after I married. Don't laugh, I'm serious. I was sitting outside the apartment, my new husband was at work, and I thought, "What have I done?"

Suddenly, a thought came to me. My husband and I could still have fun like we did in the glory days before we married; but I had to realize that with marriage came responsibility. We couldn't forever dwell on romance; there were other things in life that had to be taken care of: bills to pay, an apartment to clean, jobs and multiple tasks through our church service and other things that would surely come up.

In the beginning, of course, our relationship seemed more "fresh", but that was because we were only focused on the relationship. It was the beginning stages of romance, of love and all that goes with it. We didn't think much on the other stuff.

But the other stuff is a part of life too and I truly believe it's the compilation of romance, stuff and the working through it that makes a relationship "fresh." You want to spend time doing fun things in the relationship, but at the same time doing those necessary tasks of life. All relationships go through steps of transition and growth anyway. To expect your relationship to be completely the way it was in the beginning is not being very realistic.

What should you expect? Surprises sometimes-a dozen roses on the doorstep, a love note under your pillow, a call from your partner while you're at work-those things that kept your romance alive and ticking when it was new. You should expect to spend some time together doing those things you have always loved doing. You should expect to hear the words, "I love you." You should expect romance.

You should also expect some growing times, times when you must be separate so that each of you can go to work and times when you must do things alone. Perhaps he's in a bowling league, and you are taking a night class, times when you must clean the apartment while he makes dinner. And the bills… there is always the bills.

In the end, a true, growing relationship is always "fresh" because you are not dreaming of how it used to be, but making an effort as a couple to move forward to something even better.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

My relationship with my mom can't withstand our different political views

Dear Mom:

I'm a voting democrat; my Mom's a republican who works at party events, etc. Because we feel strongly about our views, we end up not being able to talk. What should we do?


Off the Ballot

Dear Off:

One of the things I've learned about being a mom is that my children will rarely, if ever, agree with me. And if they do, they will rarely admit it.

If you look at your friends you will also see that you don't relate completely on every issue, but often you are able to work through this difference of opinion simply because you like this friend and don't want to lose them.

The thing with family is that we are pretty much stuck with them. If they say something we don't like we usually don't resort to divorcing them. We may move away, but in the moving we distance ourselves from the possibilities we would have had if we'd stayed on and worked it out.
What I have also learned is that there are two heated topics in life; and these two topics get most of us up on our high horses. The first is religion, the second, politics.

The reason for this, I believe, goes deep. We are not just fighting a war about who gets the last Twinkie in the cupboard, we are warring about our innermost beliefs, and these beliefs cut deeply when someone we care about, and in this case, Mom, feels differently and isn't afraid to express her feelings either.

I have a family member whom I used to have to walk on eggshells with. There were certain topics of conversation that just made her angry. She felt I was judging her. That I didn't understand where she was coming from, and believed my way was the only way a person "should" feel.

For a long time, our relationship was built on our differences. We would talk, but mostly yell about why the other person was wrong instead of focusing on what we shared in common. This hurt both of us until we discovered that what we wanted was a healthy relationship built on trust and understanding.

And so we began focusing on topics other than our issues. In time, our relationship grew stronger, we spent more time together and there came a day when we could share our opposing views more openly; but this was only after we'd built a strong foundation first.

Perhaps you already have a strong foundation of trust with your mom. Perhaps you can talk about everything else; just not politics. If this is the case, remember your mom doesn't have to agree with you to be a good mother, and you aren't a bad son if you don't agree with her. Respect her feelings. Listen when she shares them. Acknowledge that her views are valid and important.

Though you might not always agree with them, she has a right to her opinion the same as you.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Should I date a friend? Should I date a young teacher of mine?

Dear Mom,

There's a girl that's expressed romantic interest in me. We've been really good friends for awhile now and she says she doesn't want to mess up our friendship. I want us to be together and think we can only strengthen our friendship. How can I get her to drop her reservations?



Dear Anxious,

Seems like you're getting two kinds of messages here: She has a romantic interest and she does not have a romantic interest.

While I'm usually in favor of promoting a bit of romance, you might want to think twice about hurrying this one along.

Obviously, your friendship means a lot to this person; otherwise she wouldn't be asking you to back off in the romance department. I think some of the problems we have in relationships are due to the fact that we hurry to the romance, and when it burns out, we wonder why we liked that person in the first place.

I think that you may be right when you say that your friendship can only be strengthened by romance, but if the girl only thinks bringing romance into the picture will ruin things, I wouldn't keep trying to change her mind. Stand back a bit. Allow her to decide what she wants. You know what you want, now give her the space to see what she wants. Continue to be that good friend and no matter what happens later, she will always know that you cared about her and her wants in favor of your own.

From my experience, when I've told a guy I only liked him as a friend (and this is going way back before I was married, mind you) I truly liked him as a friend and wasn't in the market for a romantic relationship with him. Truly. Even then, I often found him hounding me, trying to get me to change my mind, etc. Nothing serious, just a bit of pressure until we were both on the same page; the message was received, and the guy went elsewhere.

I would stick with the friendship and I wouldn't put pressure on her to "drop her reservations." If your relationship is meant for romance, it will happen soon enough, or later, no matter. The fact of the matter is this:

It will happen if it's meant to happen.

And if it's not meant for you to be together romantically, count yourself lucky for having a good friend to talk with in the first place


Dear Mom:

My Math professor is five years older than me. Should I make a move on her?



Dear Puzzled,


Allow her to teach. Sit back and learn.

After you've graduated and your life begins anew either at your dream job or at a different college, and if you're still interested, ask away. If you still like her after two years of the college mayhem, make that move. You never know.


Monday, July 20, 2009

My Girlfriend Won't Cook!

Dear Mom:

How do I get my girlfriend to start cooking? She has an aversion to the kitchen. She won't help me. If it entails too much prep she won't do it. What should I do?



Dear Hungry,

The sickness your girlfriend has is one I can relate to. You may believe your girlfriend is merely being lazy, uncooperative and uncaring of you, but this is probably not true.

Though eating is an obvious fact of life, there are, yes, some females on this planet who really don't enjoy cooking. We like to eat it, of course, but the idea of standing in a hot kitchen for hours on end cooking up what should be a spectacular dish is about as pleasant and desirable as cleaning out the bathroom toilet.

What I find interesting in your question is that for centuries it was the woman who was portrayed as "belonging" in the kitchen like some sort of household appliance. She was "expected" to cook even if she didn't enjoy it, to have a hearty meal prepared for her man the minute he walked through the door.

In this "so called" modern era of equal rights and opportunity, there are some men who yet insist that the woman still belongs in the kitchen. What is so fascinating about this concept is that more and more women are working outside the home bringing in pretty hefty paychecks themselves, and yet at home, they are still expected to cook full-time for their man.

Though the roles are reversed in your case, and you find yourself cooking your heart out while she may be sitting leisurely on the couch, consider this:

She obviously does not enjoy cooking like you do and the only way she may help you with this undesirable task is if you give her some room.

Ask her for help, and with that help don't expect a fancy meal. If she is comfortable with macaroni and cheese (boxed), be thankful you have a night off. The next night-your turn-cook something gourmet if you want, but don't make it a contest; rather an opportunity to share your love. Be satisfied with her efforts and don't brag about your own.

She may not want to cook with you in the kitchen because she feels a bit intimidated-her lack of culinary skills and your great abundance. You might even be the biggest bear in the kitchen that she has ever seen. I can relate. My husband, calm and soothing in most cases, turns into something else when I try helping him in the kitchen. I usually settle for setting the table.

For some years now, my husband has been cooking the majority of our meals. He loves to cook and I let him. He hates to clean. I can manage it. So after the wonderful gourmet chef meal, we pat our full tummies, and he goes and watches television while I clean up the wonderful mess called dishes.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Dating A Guy At Work - Is dating a co-worker a bad idea?

Dear Mom:

Should I date a guy at work?



Dear Interested:

That depends. Can you date this guy and still remain co-workers at work? Can you stick to a purely working relationship, never allowing your personal relationship to interfere with your business one? Perhaps the best way for you to answer this one is to look back on your previous relationships.

How would you describe your attachment-what I mean to say is, were you always holding hands, winking at each other from across the room, whispering, giggling, making coy suggestions you thought only your partner could understand? Did this previous relationship easily distract you from even simple tasks? Was it hard for you to concentrate when away from him? And with him, was it hard to think about anything but him?

These are typical responses to being with someone you like, responses which are normal, even desirable in a relationship. When you mix romance with work however, some pretty amazing things begin to happen, not all of them pleasant or positive.

I am quickly thinking of one experience I had. I was working this job and had a desire to date this particular guy. When he asked me out I accepted. We went to Lagoon together and I cannot tell you the feelings that stirred within my soul as I was with him; especially on those close and steamy rides like the wild mouse.

At any rate, from the first date on, I found it difficult to concentrate on my work. When I would see him I would suddenly be transported away. My focus was poor. It was difficult for him to work as well, and yes, we made many moony eyes at each other, and spent a pleasant majority of the time thinking about other things besides work.

The fact that he was usually at work when I was only added to the drama and made it difficult for me to do my job; I wanted to be with him more than I wanted to do my work. And this proved difficult for me for a time until we broke up. And then I had a new problem to face while at work with him.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Not Passionate Anymore

Dear Mom:

How do I get passionate about my life? How do I find purpose?


Dear Bored:

I think you've already begun to answer your initial question. When someone like you isn't passionate about their life, it's usually not because they aren't busy-and being a student definitely leaves little time to just be sitting around. The listless feeling is usually due to the fact that there is no variety to spice up an otherwise pretty intense college life.Now, by that I don't mean going out and getting drunk or skipping class, because surely that would equal variety. To truly be passionate about life, a person needs to take inventory of what they enjoy but never seem to have time for. And I'm not talking here about any grandiose events or expensive ventures.

Let's say you enjoy the mountains but never seem to get up there. Or you enjoy reading but only feel as if you have time to read, you know, textbooks. Maybe you enjoy going out to movies with friends or spending time on a hobby. But, you know, school is there and who has time for anything else?

You do. How do I know? You're reading this column. Take a moment and do an inventory. I'll wait.

Okay, now take a look at your list. Which passion jumps out at you the most? This passion is your assignment for the week. Now, I'm not asking for a whole day, I'm not even asking for an hour. I'm asking you to start where you can. But I'm asking you to start. No excuses.Yesterday, after returning home from my first French class, my mind was in a whirl of words and phrases; most, I can assure you, meant nothing to me because I had no idea what I was hearing and repeating in the first place. I came home and tried to work on the homework, but learning was difficult. I was tired; my mind was tired, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Instead, I went outside and began to weed the flower bed.

For many of you, probably all of you who read this column, you're thinking, "You're kidding, right? Weeding can't be on your list. Weeding is work, and work's not fun."
Well, perhaps I'm a strange one, (I've been told that before) but weeding gives me a chance to take out my frustration on the weeds. The time spent weeding clears my head. I love the smell of the garden, the feel of the earth. I love weeding because when I'm done there is instant and immediate success. The flower beds are beautiful!

Most days I feel passionate about my life because I have a purpose, and my purpose isn't merely to wade through class, but to experience every breath of it; returning home to spend time doing something I enjoy like weeding, doing homework, laughing with my family, and preparing for the next day; because there's always a next day whether I feel passionate about it or not.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Should I Lie To Spare My Sister's Feelings?

Dear Mom:

Should I say something to my sister who is thin but wears jeans so tight that they make her belly hang out?


Tummy Tucked

Dear Tucked:

This is one of those questions I believe most people would have the answer to, but far fewer would have the courage to act on. I hope this response will help you to act.

I remember once a few years ago a friend of mine came over to my house wearing the worst shade of lipstick I had ever seen. It was an orange rust color and looked terrible on her fair skin. She asked, "What do you think?" I didn't know what to say. Should I tell her the truth and hurt her feelings, forever distancing our friendship, or should I tell a little white lie and say the lipstick looked just fine?

I decided on the white lie. She put her hands on her hips and replied, "This is the ugliest lipstick I have ever worn! This was a test, and you failed!"

After being angry at her for playing such a trick on me, I began to see that what she wanted to know was if I would be truthful with her even when being truthful was difficult. If she couldn't trust me to tell the truth on the small stuff, how could our friendship weather the large ones?

Talk to your sister. Talk to her alone; not within a group where she is sure to be embarrassed. Sit down with her and spell it out. Not in so many words; the best ones; the words you'd want to hear if your belly was hanging out.

One of the best ways I know of to do this is called the sandwich trick, and is less like a trick and more like a way of smoothing things over a bit while you tell her.

A sandwich is made up of three parts-the bottom piece of bread, the inner layer and the top piece. First, tell her something positive; something you like about her. Add the inner layer, your concern. You might say, "You are so beautiful, but it's hard to see your beauty when you wear such tight pants and your belly hangs out." Finish your concern with the top piece of bread; another positive comment, so that your sister will know you're not just picking on her or something. Leave her knowing her self-esteem and your friendship is still in place.

Good luck!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dating Someone With Different Beliefs

Dear Mom:

I am a (non-practicing) LDS student dating an atheist. If I end up staying with him, will I end up hating him and myself?



Dear Stuck:

That you have this question in the first place gives me reason to believe you have some pretty heavy concerns about this relationship. If you had little or no concern, it would not have occurred to you that you might later hate him as well as yourself, bringing me to this question:

Do you believe in God?

I know this is a bold question, but it is the basis, whether you realize it or not, of your initial question. If you were an atheist as he is, there would be no concern. But because you have been taught Christian values through the LDS faith, this leads me to believe that some of these values still hold true for you-if not, again, you probably would not have asked this question.

As a Christian myself, I believe in God and that means I believe God is the driving force of things-nature, the human body, hope, faith and trust. He is the basis of my faith. Atheists, as I understand it, believe in nature, the human body, hope, faith and trust as they see it, and as they choose to live it. Some atheists believe in spiritualism within the constructs of their being; most don't believe in God at all.

While I am a firm believer in people choosing for themselves, I am also a firm believer in people being true to themselves; the cost is too high otherwise.

If you stay with him, you may later, when the romance has softened to a fine glow and you begin to relax a bit (because this always happens) find that the feelings within your heart are battling with the feelings of his heart. This doesn't mean you don't love him; even that you can't love him, but that this difference is driving a wedge between you. Being in a relationship is hard enough without having this additional splinter under the skin.

I have known people who have married outside of their faith. I know you are only dating, but "dating," as my mom always used to tell me, "leads to marriage." And you will "always marry someone you date." This is a fact that can't be disputed nor ignored.

Most of those who marry outside their faith are miserable. Sure, some of them still manage to hang on to the love they have for their spouse, but most (dare I say it?) run into major difficulties. The only thing that saves them is living a separate life (divorce), doing things of a spiritual nature, like attending church for example (alone) or choosing to follow in the footsteps of the other; letting go of what they believe.

Be true to yourself. If you can't talk about God now because you feel he will be offended; if you shy away from certain topics or find that you are listening to his feelings and feeling sick inside as you do so; if you are uncomfortable in any way, listen to those feelings. Be true to what you feel. If you're not true to yourself, you will end up hating him as well as yourself.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Balancing school with work and fun

Dear Mom:

How do I balance full-time work and school and still have a social life?


So stressed I can hardly stand it

Dear Stressed:

I know just how you feel. No, I wasn't working, but one summer I was taking a three week anatomy and physiology class.

Okay, people warned me that it was going to be hard, and yes, I was told that the regular semester class was difficult, but I thought, "Three weeks and I'll be done! Anyone can handle three weeks!"

Every moment of my life was spent studying, sleeping or eating-okay, and peeing. There was not much time for anything else. I did have a column at the school paper, and the editing stuff I had to do, but truthfully? My plate was full. I'm glad it was only full for three weeks.

"What's normal?" you ask. Living a busy life, but not so busy that the most important things in life take the back seat; like friends, family and getting out and just having some fun. Sure, you won't be able to get out every night; that would be unrealistic, unless you don't care about getting good grades, and I am supposing you want good grades because of your question.

With that said let me suggest some pointers:

1. If you work full-time, cut down on your class load. If you're a brain, you might be able to handle it; if you're like the rest of us, it's truly not worth your insanity putting too much on your school plate.

2. On the other hand, you may be able to cut down a bit on your work hours. See what you can do to free up some more time for study and fun.

3. Balance your day with free time as much as possible. If you're studying becomes a five hour stint on Tuesday (your only day off) for example, try cutting it down to two and taking a half an hour break in-between. A half an hour in a full day will not hurt your grades and will give you that breather you need. Believe me, after awhile your brain shuts down anyway, so why not have some fun?

4. Have the courage to make changes when you know you are over your head. A friend of mine recently dropped a class because she knew she was quickly reaching her limit. Dropping a class doesn't mean you are dumb; just smart enough to take care of a potential problem before it becomes a real one.

5. Finally, remember you are in school, and with that comes sacrifice. When all is said and done, you will be spending less time with friends, family and all those fun events you wish you could go to until you have graduated. Fortunately, school doesn't last forever. I know it seems like it, but I also know that with a will comes a way, and the best way I know of to make the change from stress to success is to take an honest look at where you are now and what needs to happen to reach the finish line-in one piece.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Mom's Credibility

Dear Mom:

Are you really a mom? You don't look old enough. Well, at least not old enough to have teenagers.



Dear Curious:

You know what they say about what happened to the curious cat. Seriously though, yes, I am a mom, and I do have children-three girls to be precise. All three are married, the two oldest with children of their own. So yes, that also makes me a grandmother. I have four grandchildren; three granddaughters and one grandson. I had always heard that grandchildren were your reward for having successfully raised your children. I can believe it. It's like the bonus round or something. I can spoil them rotten, feed them all kinds of good stuff; like chocolate before dinner, and send them home without feeling even the remotest bit of guilt. It's taken me a long time to feel that.

I always feel good when someone guesses me younger than I am-also a bonus round. Thank you and keep reading.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moving Back Home

Dear Mom:

I'm 25 years old and I've just had to move back with my parents. How do I balance my own life and own sense of individuality and still live with my parents and respect them and their rules?



Dear Frazzled:

Take a deep breath. Let the air out. Take another deep breath. Let it out. Okay. What you are doing is probably one of the most difficult things there is to do on this planet-second only to divorce. I should know, the first I have done; the second I have been close to doing because of the first.

When I lived in California and it became paramount that we return to Utah-I will spare you the grueling details-it also became necessary to live with my parents for a time. Neither my husband nor I had a job; we had just enough money to get here, and couldn't even think of renting a place without the well-needed cash. Without the help of my parents, I have no idea how our family would have been able to get back on our feet. With that said let me suggest something for which you are probably already well aware of: coming back home sucks. It's not that you don't love your parents; you do. It's not that you don't appreciate their willingness to help. It's just that you have some trouble coming back home and being treated like a kid again.

When I came back home with a husband and three children safely in tow, I met up with some surprises. My parents sat us down. They'd made a list of rules which we were expected to follow. This was fair; after all, we were living in their house. The problem? I had my own way of doing things; and my own ways didn't always coincide with what my parents wanted.

A case in point: I had to keep the basement clean. This was a fair rule, but a rule not easily kept with 3 children. I had to dust. I had to make sure the kids toys were picked up after use. I had to make my bed. I had to cook three times a week-they would cook four. I had my share of the household chores not including what I had to do in the basement. Clean the bathroom. Vacuum the floor. Take out the trash. All was written down in perfect black and white.

Now, before you think me a slob, let me just say that I wasn't used to the high standards of cleanliness my mother was keeping. My ship had been 'tight' just not this tight, and so I struggled to keep to the rules at the same time trying to manage my own and my children's (and yes, husband's) sanity. In the end, we were out in 3 months. My sanity was kept because my visit was short. I also spent some time looking for work (while my mother was kind enough to tend the children) and reflecting at night alone or with my husband what I was going to do with my life when I got out. Whatever moments I had to reflect and be my own person, I took. And in the end I was grateful that my husband was able to get a job and we were able to move out.

Living with your parents will not be easy. It's not supposed to me. But if I could recommend anything to you; something I did not do myself, I would suggest focusing on the positive side of the time spent with your parents. Love them, spend time with them. Make some good memories so that when you're back on your own two feet the time you will have spent will mean something in your life, something more than endless headaches and an unlucky bunch of blisters.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How do you remove the romance, but keep the friendship?

Dear Mom:

How do you get rid of a guy you've been dating and still remain friends?


Want to move on

Dear Want:

What you want is to separate yourself from someone who has been a part of your life in a romantic way and go back to the friendship stage as if the romance never happened. You want to go back to the way things were before the romance. You want to wipe out all the time you have spent together and pretend all you have is a friendship when you know there has been more. This emotional connection is a very real thing and cannot be severed because you desire it to be; just like getting rid of a guy and still remaining friends cannot occur simply because you want it.

Sounds like the guy still like's you; if not, you wouldn't have to get rid of him. I would suggest that you speak to him (and not over the phone; in person); share your feelings about where the relationship has gone and why you would rather remain friends. This won't be easy. He may still try to keep you, believing he still has a chance. He may even think that friendship is out of the question.

Put yourself in his shoes. He still likes you. How can he stick around when he feels the way he does? How can he pretend to be friends when what he wants is your friendship mixed in with what he had before?

After talking with him, he may have something to say to you. You may not like to hear it but listen anyway. He may be understanding on the outside but boiling on the inside. You might find out later that he wants nothing to do with you. You might know right away how he feels. He might leave angry. But whatever the case, give him some time to cool off. Don't call him, don't do anything. Wait. When you see him, be polite. If he calls you, listen. Stand your ground. If he wants to get back together and you still want a friendship, hold your ground. In time he might feel differently about the friendship you have offered. If not, you need to be prepared to live with his choice.


My mom is making me go to graduation

Dear Mom:

My Mom is forcing me to go to graduation. I'm sorry, but graduation at a college is lame. It's long, boring and I don't even know the people like I knew in high school. What should I do?



Dear Bummed:

Quit being bummed. Granted, the event is usually long, and sometimes boring, but
have you ever been to the college variety graduation? Okay, I haven't either, but how can you knock what you haven't tried? And how can you say it's going to be lame and boring when you don't even mention who the speakers are going to be. Do you even know any of the speakers?

Let's say you don't know any of the people there, including the speakers, which I truly doubt. And let's say you're practically at the last of the line, having to wait almost the entire time to get your standing ovation from your mom-and a thousand pictures of your wonderful physique from her camera. Isn't this worth it? I mean, making your mom happy and anyone else who is choosing to attend. I know it's YOUR graduation, but try thinking outside of your head for a minute. The graduation, yes, might be totally, completely and utterly boring, but think of your mom and her feelings. I'm one of them; I ought to know.

Happy walking!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How do I unscramble my time management?

Dear Mom:

I'm always at least five minutes late to my first class of the day. How do I schedule my time so that I'm not late?

Scrambled Up

Dear Scrambled:

Forgive me for using such a "churchy" example, but I believe it will work in your case.

When I was a young mother, trying to get ready for church was a nightmare. Not only did I have myself to get ready I had my three children as well. And then I had my husband who did alright on his own most of the time, unless he couldn't find his shoes.

At any rate, this is what I was told by a very well-meaning person, though the name escapes me now. Let me just say that I hated her at first, telling me what to do as if I couldn't figure it out for myself. And yet, what she had to say made sense.

In a nutshell: Lay out your children's clothes and shoes the night before. Bathe them the night before. Get the diaper bag ready and set it by the front door. That way, in the morning when you are scrambling to get ready there will be less scrambling out the door.

In your case, decide on what you're going to wear the night before. If you don't want to lay your clothes out, put them in an area in your closet where you can get to them easily the next morning. Get all of your books and stuff ready for school the night previous. I have one of those unattractive suitcases with wheels that I load up the night before with all my books and papers. In the morning I just have to cart it downstairs and into the car. I wouldn't be able to handle showering at night but after hearing one conversation recently about the five roommates and being late to school because the person couldn't get into the shower-I wonder if this might be one of your considerations.

The bottom line is this: I do what I can do at night so that I'm less scrambled in the morning?

While some suggest setting the clock ahead, I wouldn't recommend it. After a while you remember you have fifteen minutes more than the clock says and adjust your mind clock accordingly. I would suggest, however, leaving your home earlier than the time you think you need to get there (and if you're getting most everything ready ahead of time the night before, this step is that much easier). If it would regularly take you a half an hour to get to class, (And I'm speaking of class here, not how long it takes you to reach the parking lot and find a spot), give yourself an additional 15 minutes for commute. That way, if there is a car accident, slow traffic or bad weather, you can still get to class on time. I know, I know, you want to sleep in as long as possible, but giving yourself some extra time for variables will ease your stress in being late and will give you the freedom to step into that class-on time.

See you in class!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to gain a mothers acceptance of a gay lifestyle

Dear Mom:

I live a gay lifestyle. How do I get my mother to accept me?

Sincerely, Too hurt to cry

Dear Hurt:

This is a serious question demanding a serious answer. The bottom line as I see it-all you really want from your mom is love, right? To be loved is to be accepted because you and I both know that not everyone on the face of this planet is going to see things in exactly the same way. We are all individuals-unique individuals who, when all is said and done, want to be accepted. The problem arises when someone we know should love us most seems to love us least.

As I write this I am filled with sadness for your mother. I am sad because she is missing out on knowing her child, in developing a relationship that can handle any difference in lifestyle or opinion. Not that I think that working through this difference is easy; I don't.

I have three children of my own. If one of them came to me with the news that they were gay, I would be shocked. My first reaction would be to stare ahead of me in dumb amazement. I hope I wouldn't yell. I hope I wouldn't say something I would later regret. One thing's for sure. I know my heart would be pounding. I would probably cry. And when all was talked out on both sides, I pray I would have the courage to see beyond the moment. I pray I would remember how much I loved my child.

Your mother is afraid. She thought she knew everything about you. And then the bomb hit. You may have even known it was a bomb before it hit, because you have known your mom for a long time too. You know many of her thoughts, her quirks, and her issues. But perhaps you had no idea how easily she could shut you out of her life.

So here we are again at the bottom line. Though you want to be loved, to be accepted by your mother, this can't be forced. I could tell you that she loves you though you don't feel it, but I don't know if you'd believe me. I could tell you that she's afraid to confront the issue because she wants to think of you the way you were before she knew. I could tell you many things that you may or may not believe. But know this: You cannot change your mother. You can pray for her. You can feel sorry that she currently does not seem to want a relationship with you, but you can't change the way she feels, just like she can't change the way you feel.

This may sound discouraging, but I wouldn't give up hope. There may come a day when your mother wants to regain your friendship. Be open to that day when it comes, for it will be a day of healing for you both.

With love,


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dear Mom:

My boyfriend is allergic to my cats. Every time he comes over he gets sick. What should I do?

Sincerely, Furful

Dear furful: I have a nephew that is allergic to cats. Last week he and his family came over for a visit. My sister had forewarned me-"Remember, my son is allergic. Can we keep the cat away from him?" I promised her that I would vacuum the floor and the furniture; especially the furniture our cat loved to sleep on, and that the cat would be kept in the basement.

When my sister arrived with her children, however, our cat Spooky had managed an unwelcome visit on her favorite TV chair. I was surprised. Spooky usually hid from children.

After showing the cat downstairs and apologizing to my sister for the oversight, telling her son to stay clear of "that" chair, we got down to business-eating dinner. The evening went smoothly enough, and surprisingly, there were no allergy related symptoms from her son.

I was relieved. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for her son to get sick and the family wary about coming to visit us again. Fortunately, my sister had taken precautions as well. When I told her how relieved I was that her son hadn't gotten sick, she said, "Oh, I gave him some allergy medicine before we left." So that was it. She had planned for the worst, and had ended up with the best case scenario.

Though I have no idea how your boyfriend's allergies compare to my nephew's. You might be wise to choose alternate places to get together-making sure when choosing your place that you have done everything you can to make your boyfriends visit as "fur free" as possible. A friend of mine suggested covering the sofa with a recently washed blanket.

Of course hardwood or vinyl floors are best to reduce the furry problem, but if you are living in an apartment or a rental unit this is no option. Fortunately, where your greatest problem's lie, you have the greatest control: fabric upholstered furniture and curtains. Limiting these two items helps, say the experts, as well as limiting your cat to only certain rooms, not including the main living space. Some experts even suggest that if your cat is washed weekly there is a decrease in allergen levels, though I'm sure my own cat would have a scratching fit if I tried that one on her.

Your cats are members of your family. Getting rid of them is neither a valid nor a humane solution in my opinion. But getting rid of the boyfriend? Well, that's an entirely different story.

Good luck!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Ask Mom" - What's it all about

Not sure where to turn for your next staple? Spending too much money on school supplies and not enough on your girlfriend? Afraid to ask your mom for a loan?

Ask me.

That's right. I am a mom and a former student of Salt Lake Community College and The University of Utah (BS May 2009,) and no, I won't give you any money either. But I'm full of advice-some of which you may even like or well, find you like better than the advice your mom gives you. You don't tell her everything anyway, do you?I want to hear it all.

That romantic stuff you call love. That overwhelming balance you are trying to achieve in your life, mountains you are trying to climb-even the stuff of money. Yes, I can even talk about that if you want me to. Not sure what major to sign up for? Let me help. Having problems with your roommate? Tired of the piles of trash inside the place she calls her room? Sick of your overprotective mom? Your hair? That stuff called homework?

I want to hear it. No, it doesn't have to be pretty, it doesn't even have to be too terribly serious, but it does, yes it does have to be true. And if it's not happening to you personally, I don't want to hear it. This is not the place for gossip-unless its gossip based on your life of course.

Just write me in the form of a question. You can give me some details but please keep it to a tight paragraph-kind of like your favorite pair of jeans. I don't want to hear some lengthy sermon on your life. Yes, it may be interesting but I don't have time for it. Here is a question I received today through an enlightening conversation; a question I will probably use at some point through my "Ask Mom" career: "How do you get rid of a guy you've been dating and still remain friends?

"Who told me this? "The heat is gone" of course.

I will not print your name in the column (unless you really want me to) even though I may see it on the email I receive from you. I will merely give you a cute name like "cuddle bear" or "lost in line" or something equally cheesy like the one above but not your real name. You will be attending this school for at least two years and I want you to be able to walk around campus with your head held high.

What else?

That's it.

Post your your questions and comments here on the blog.

I look forward to hearing from you.