Tripping over shoes is exactly why I agreed to a puppy, as if four kids isn't enough. Leave your shoes at your own risk with this terror around. You can tell by his shifty eyes he's up to no good!

Unfortunately this cuddly deterrent, capable of devouring his weight in Christmas ornaments, hasn't scared my 15-year-old daughter, the Imelda Marcos of footwear, who has no less than a closet full of shoes laying around on any given day. I have threatened to throw her shoes on the porch with her three brothers' fragrant locker room beauties, however, that's become an expensive proposition with three pairs of hers already stolen.

Apparently her fashion style is in high demand and less rancid than the boys', so I opted for a shoe rack inside, allowing two pairs at a time while training the puppy the rack is off limits. Needless to say, my advanced math teenage daughter cannot count. She entirely consumes the upper rack and most of the floor on any given day, as I'…

Tsunami Before Coffee

This morning began like any other, dogs out, coffee on, my starving 15-year-old daughter accusing me of running out of food in the house, rushing my 8-year-old to the bus stop, wetting down my 13-year-old's hair, lest he look like a rooster at the band concert tonight, and verifying my 11-year-old had black pants and a white shirt that fit for his first band concert. This was all before my first cup of Joe! Determining I'd have to add 'buy black pants' to my endless To Do list today, I made my ritual stop in the boys' bathroom to flush the simmering pot whatever they had deposited. A boys' bathroom is a Petri dish of disgusting bodily fluids and this morning was no exception. Little did I know it was a ticking time bomb ready to explode. Like a Magic Tree House book, I was transported on yet another Adventure In Motherhood: 'Tsunami Before Coffee'!

Flushing the handle, I turned to jog downstairs for a cup of coffee before stopping cold in my tracks. My …

Flipping Awesome!

"We are the only kids that don't have smartphones at school!” insisted my four children when we moved to Oregon two years ago. Even my 1st grade son had children in his class with the latest and greatest smartphones at that time. I recall a similar conversation from my own childhood revolving around getting a corded telephone for my bedroom. New technology, even greater challenges; flipping awesome!

Having moved halfway across the country at the start of my daughter's 8th grade year in middle school, we were keenly aware of her need to build social relationships ASAP. When she named every known child her age with a smart phone, we quickly realized that she was quite possibly the only 8th grade student in Oregon and Colorado without one. Having experienced traumatic family moves during my formative teen years, my daughter knew I was an easy sell, and my three younger sons began their campaign as well.

Fortunately as parents, we had Bill Gates on our side. How can children …

Parenting Gun Safety Beyond Imagination

FFF Success

Bowls full of crock-pot dinner, facing a 40-minute commute in traffic, I didn't know what to expect as we piled in the car last night without screen time devices. Surely bitching and moaning, touching and arguing would ensue, and not just with my husband. "Boredom is good!" my husband and I agreed. Optimistic, I hoped for the best. Forced Family Fun (#FFF) time together giving back during the holiday season. What could go wrong?

I decided to mix it up this year, volunteering the six of us as a team packing food and fun at the Oregon Food Bank. Donations of allowance to charity and serving pie and turkey at the Salvation Army in years past were too predictable. I prayed my children would step up to the challenge.

"Why don't you tell the brothers about your day?" I asked my 15-year-old daughter trapped in the middle of the car. "Perhaps they can problem solve your dilemma." I was having a hell of a time figuring out the situation myself; saving face…

What Don't I Know?

"You believe in me, but I don't think you really know," my teenage daughter insisted as I rounded the corner on our street. I burst out laughing, "What an awesome quote. I love it!" She honestly had my attention with 'You believe in me'. Thank God, I've done something right I thought to myself, relishing my brief success as a parent before pausing terrified...hmmm, what don't I know? Admit nothing, ask questions later; I spied another CIA skill worthy of parenthood.

Usually she's like a tall shot of espresso in the morning before coffee has prepared me for teenage drama. With enormous social media pressures, teenagers have a full-time job keeping up with Snapchat, Instagram, etc., in order to stay relevant before the school day even begins. Throw in the pressure of scheduling activities, hair, clothing, makeup, acne, an unfortunate glance from her brother, a coat she can't find, and our breakfast table is a chaotic board meeting daily, b…

The Gift of Observation

I took my chances this morning; parking my mom-minivan next to a red Ozark camping tent zipped tight on the sidewalk. Eyeing my surroundings with caution, I rifled through my wallet for a credit card to plug the parking meter before the Social Security Administration line grew longer. A used syringe, empty box of handcuffs, first aid kit, dirty white crew socks and a mess of take-out food littered the pavement, just blocks from one of the wealthiest high schools in Portland. Carefully sidestepping the evidence of someone else's misfortune, I crossed the empty street.

Noticing an abandoned black backpack by the tree, I surveyed the citizens of similar long-line fate rocking uncomfortably outside the SSA door. Ah, the humanity, my first thought interrupted by a barking security guard, the size of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson wearing latex gloves. "Who's backpack is this?" he shouted. Like a jolt of caffeine, the drill sergeant got our attention making me wonder if a backp…