The Town of Manere (A note from All that Remains protagonist)

Not every small town is quaint and charming. Those so-called hidden treasures are not nearly as mysterious as they claim. If you stumbled upon it merely by taking a shortcut, it’s not hidden. It just happens to exist on an alternative route from your original intended path. These places are not a secret, but I’m sure the illusion of being something undiscovered gives thousands of people every year a good story to tell their friends once they get home. Who doesn’t want to be the one to suggest a sweet little town off the beaten path? Who doesn’t want to claim to discover something? Christopher Columbus did it even though he didn’t have to look hard. It was already there, Chris.

 The truly hidden towns are the ones you’ll never know about, or for a few, you may discover only after something so shocking happens within the town, something that spills over into civilization, is there a possibility you will find out the place ever existed. Manere Valley is a town that was more than hidden, it was a deeply unseen township filled with residents who, for five decades, had no idea they were living a lie. They were unaware that the supposed refuge was not a sanctuary but a prison with banishment, or sometimes death, as the only shot at a release.


All That Remains

Release: January 16th, 2020

Angela Abrams of Manere, CA is like any other seventeen-year-old dealing with friends, crushes, and the politics of high school, but Manere is not like any other town. Nestled between desolate highways of the Southern California desert sits the community of Manere; a town too remote for even the most adventurous traveler to stop. After graduating, Angela has the opportunity to go beyond the town’s limits but must say goodbye forever as Manere does not allow one to return after they have made a life outside of Manere. Once she discovers a series of missing people, all of whom are being covered up by the corrupt Manere Police, Angela decides she must do something. Along with her best friend, Milo, Angela uncovers the truth behind a childhood friend’s disappearance and the mysterious circumstances of her father’s death during her final summer in Manere.

The High Cost of Making Sure My Kids Don’t Miss Out on Childhood Activities



I complain about things being too expensive at least once a day. It comes out so naturally, one would think it’s just a funny quirk that accompanies my outgoing carbon dioxide. For as long as I can remember I have been a penny pincher. When I was a child I would loan my stored-up money to my own mother when she was in need of some quick cash to go out for an evening of Bingo or some other last minute night out with pals. Even though she would pay me the next day when the bank was open, I charged her interest. I knew I was in the power position, supply and demand was not a foreign concept to me at the age of nine.

While I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, we were never in any serious financial trouble. I always had a roof over my head and food in my belly. My husband had a much different growing up. As a young teen, he was homeless by himself and would go days without a meal. Once we married and he worked hard for his money, he wanted to spend it because he could. I didn’t want to waste money and knew that we would just end up struggling down the road if we did. It was a constant argument, but over a decade later, we are on the same page. He is more of a saver and I allow the occasional splurge.


Since we homeschool our son and daughter, we encourage them to take part in activities so they are able to have structure and spend time around other kids their age. My daughter does soccer, and Girl Scouts, while my son does Boy Scouts and intends on doing basketball next year. I encourage it, I often suggest it, but boy does the cost of these activities add up. Along with registration fees, there are the costs of uniforms and all those little extras that somehow keep making their way in as a requirement for the program. Both Girl and Boy Scouts are exceptionally pricey because once you think you have everything for them, there is a new badge, book, or a fee to take part in one of the activities like going to horse camp.


These costs are worth it in the long-run because my kids are enjoying their time spent taking part in these activities. There is so much joy and excitement that occurs on the days they are going to their respective club or sport. I also gain a lot just seeing them grow up and become their own people among the other children.

Girl Scouts model contemporary uniforms.

When I was a kid, I was in Girl Scouts for four years but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. The other girls in the group were a bit snobby toward me and I always felt like an outsider. On top of that, the leader played favorites and we rarely participated in the things I expected from Girl Scouts. There were not any camping or fishing trips. To be fair, I grew up in Southern California which isn’t the best place to find places to camp and fish. We did go to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, but I had done that so many times outside of Girl Scouts, it wasn’t as thrilling. Now that I live in Washington state, I get to raise my kids doing all the fun stuff I missed out on. In fact, I even became a leader for my daughter’s troop.

While I was in Girl Scouts, I always wanted to do something else. Baseball was a sport I wanted to join because my older brother did it and I enjoyed practicing with him. My parents said they couldn’t afford it and that I wouldn’t stick with it. The same went for Gymnastics, Dance, and Kickboxing. I was adamant about quitting Girl Scouts so I could do something I genuinely wanted to do. The excuse that I wouldn’t stick with any of the sports I wanted to do made zero sense considering I stuck with Girl Scouts until we moved to another town that didn’t have Girl Scouts.


My children’s dad had a similar situation where he was placed in baseball for a few years and always despised it. He still has no interest in playing baseball and I am usually the one to suggest playing it with the kids. There were other things he wanted to do but his mom didn’t care what he wanted to do because she expected him to play baseball.


Not surprisingly, this is how we wound up in agreement that our children would only engage in activities that were their choice. The decision was to allow them to join what they wanted to join, as long as it was reasonable. We have been lucky that they have not asked to join ballet, play the violin, or have equestrian lessons, which would far exceed our budget by quite a bit. They know that we will make things work as long as we can make it work. Another way in which I am lucky is that my parents, their grandparents, are usually willing to throw a bit of cash their way to ensure they get to do what makes them happy. I don’t mind at all that my parents may be making up for whatever it was they denied me. In fact, I’m thrilled.

A great thing that exists now that may not have existed twenty-five years ago is that many clubs, activities, and organizations provide financial assistance. The Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, and even The Girl Scouts are just a few of the organizations that do their best to help out those in need. Just because a child’s family may not be able to afford such a program and its services shouldn’t mean they would be left out. Everything is expensive but allowing a child to build life-long memories and skills shouldn’t be beyond anyone’s grasp.

I am A Total Soccer Mom!


There was a conversation I had with my two college roommates about thirteen years ago that has come back to me lately. It went something like this:

Roommate 1: “Ugh, could you imagine being a soccer mom? Just escorting your kids in a sad mini-van to games and being in charge of snacks”.

Roommate 2: “If I ever did something like that I would need an intervention. What about you, Megan? Actually, I can’t even imagine you being a soccer mom. It would be weird”

Me: “Sure, me with a mini-van? right. Maybe if my kids wanted to play baseball, but soccer isn’t really a sport”

WELL, WELL, WELL, guess what? I am a soccer mom and I love it!! My seven-year-old daughter is playing in her second season of soccer and she adores it. She gets so energized just by seeing her soccer friends, and after the games and practices, her mood is elevated for the rest of the day which is saying a lot since she seems to always have high spirits. Her dad, brother and I make every practice and game. We bring out our chairs and just soak up the whole event. The games are especially exciting for me. Who knew that a soccer game featuring seven and eight-year-old girls could be so thrilling? I swear every game has me more enthralled than when Brandi Chastain tore off her shirt during the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

The other girls on the team all have their own strengths and fantastic personalities, the parents are supportive of all the girls on the team, and everyone is there to have a good time. Even their nineteen-year-old coach is an absolute delight.

I will admit that I feel I failed miserably on the snack. I volunteered us to do snack one of the first weeks. Not having a lot of experience with such things as my parents never allowed me to join any sports as a kid, I relied on what snacks parents brought for my older brother’s little league. Times certainly have changed since the late 1980s because Swiss-Roles and Capri-Sun just don’t cut it anymore. We are talking little baggies filled with homemade and organic snacks. How was I to know? Now, I know.  Next season, I am going to bring it with my snack game!

So, I have become the person I didn’t think I would be back when I was a silly twenty-year-old. We are even looking at buying a Mini-Van as our second vehicle. Yep, I went full soccer mom and I am pleased as punch.

How Rory Gilmore and Other Television and Film Teens Helped Me get Through High School


According to many, I am a millennial. I do not relate to most of what the media claims are traits held by millennials but this may be due to my “Older-millennial” status as I was born in 1985. While I did play Oregon Trail on an old Mac and possessed Giga Pets and Tamagotchis, my peers did not have cell phones in high school, save for a few rich kids, during senior year, who had old Nokias for emergencies. As a teenager, coming of age in this very specific moment in time, I had, in my opinion, the best role models that television and film had to offer. Going to school and making friends was not easy for me. In fact, most days of high school were spent faking sick so I could stay home. My anxiety was too high and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch the much more interesting lives of characters who resided in the confines of The WB network or the teen films of the 80s and 90s that I had re-watched ad nauseam.


Once while watching a rented copy of She’s All That, a film I had already seen a few time since its release, my mother asked why I enjoyed films about high school so much but hated going there for real. I couldn’t explain it to her as she was someone who looked back fondly at high school. She craved social gatherings and cared little about the academics, while I thrived in the books department but cringed at interacting with others. There was something magical about  Laney Boggs and Jake Stiler, just as there was something special about Kat and Bianca Stafford form 10 Things I Hate About You.


While staying at home, I would re-watch recorded episodes of Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity, Roswell, and Popular. If it was on The WB, it was almost impossible to escape my complete dedication. Though it may seem pathetic to be so entranced by fictional people, there was something comforting knowing that Joey Potter, Buffy Summers, and Felicity Porter would all be in my life each week. Even when the episodes were delayed for baseball games or presidential addresses, I knew that they would return. During a hiatus or summer break, I had my trusty videotapes that held six hours of recorded episodes each.


In the fall of 2000, I was fifteen-years-old and a sophomore in High School and it may have been my best semester in traditional high school ever. As a senior, I attended a Continuation school, but that sophomore year, I managed to attend most days, ace all of my tests and quizzes and even became part of the school newspaper and drama club. This was not simply a decision I made on my own accord, it was something I only attempted following the inspiration of my newest television role model, Rory Gilmore.


Years before, I related to the bookish Joey, Felicity and Willow Rosenberg but Rory struck an even bigger chord. Not only did she love to read and write, but she was also exactly my age when the show aired and she shared a nearly identical dynamic with her mother as I did with mine. Just like Rory and Lorelai, My mother and I are best friends who speak at a speed that only confused others. Watching Rory fight her way through the new atmosphere of Chilton and succeed in spite of her somewhat outsider mentality, she made being nerdy desirable. This was before nerdiness was the coolest thing anyone could be. This was before Seth Cohen was considered a teen dream and comic book movies became mainstream. Rory spoke about literary characters and obscure films and music on a regular basis. Every cultural reference filled me with knowing elation. Walking those halls during my sophomore year, I felt confident and supported by my band of fictional, female misfits, even if they only accompanied me in spirit.


After attending a continuation school where I became editor of the school newspaper, a very Rory Gilmore thing to do, I went to college. In college, something changed in me and I was able to branch out and make friends, real three-dimensional friends who existed outside of my 90s RCA television. Now in my early thirties, I pushed through high school, a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree, all in spite of the anxiety-filled school days of my younger self. To this day, even after being married, having two children, and making some fantastic friends, I still often revisit my old friends through dvds and Netflix. If it wasn’t for them, or film characters like Veronica Sawyer from Heathers, Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful or even Missy from Bring it On, I may have been lost in my own misfit status with no assurance that having different interests or having thoughts that may seem contrary to my schoolmates did not make me unlikable or destined to be alone. It merely made me believe that there was a real-life version of Pacey Witter, Lane Kim, Willow, Buffy, or Torrance out there somewhere, and I was right.

Having my children and partner with me most of the time helps me thrive and lessens my daily anxiety. Having so much support that doesn’t come from a screen helps, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t often return to the comforting world of 90s teen films and television. It’s become a part of me and always will be.

Why Homeschooling has worked for us (Most of the Time)


Homeschooling was never an option for me as a kid. In the first few years of my elementary education, I wasn’t aware that it was for secular children. My parents took me to church but I never recalled either parent being particularly devout. Religion is an entirely different post.

When my parents divorced and my mother moved my older brother and I to a small town as I was entering fifth grade, homeschool became a fantasy. The social aspect of school, the cloistering setting of a classroom became overwhelming for me. After having a sporadic attendance problem throughout elementary and junior high, I hit a wall in high school. I just couldn’t do it. There were terrible arguments with me and my mother and I couldn’t explain why it was so difficult for me to be around other students. I had entered high school the fall after Columbine, so it wasn’t a great time to tell kids that school was a safe place.

After too many lost years I was placed in Independent Study, and then to a continuation school where I flourished. I ended up going to college and earning a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and a Master of Arts in English with a Rhetoric Emphasis. Why? Because I always loved to learn but the way I was being taught made me hate school. Once I reached college, I was introduced to a world where there was no one way to teach or to learn.

Now my nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter are homeschooled and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach them. Each child has their own strengths and weaknesses and I am able to adapt to those things. While I have been the primary teacher for them since Kindergarten, it has not always been easy.

The opinions of friends and families: Everyone in my family scoffed at my decision to homeschool. My judgemental older brother, my mostly indifferent father, and even my usual nonjudgemental mother all responded with confusion and certainty that my decision was a poor one.

Initially, I started my son in an independent program in which we met up with a teacher once a week to go over the work. The school in our zone happened to be the one I attended when my mother had moved my brother and me when I was in fifth grade. The school was terrible when I attended and from what I learned prior to enrolling my son was that it only got worse. The teachers ranged from apathetic to disdainful to the entire education system. We were only living there temporarily, but even after we moved back to Washington state after his first year I realized how homeschooling worked for us. In the end, I continued educating my son and then my daughter. Eventually, my family grew to accept it because there wasn’t any other choice for them.
Now, after using a program created by Washington State in which we receive the materials and lesson plans, my son and daughter are in their fourth and third year respectively of homeschooling. The most exciting part is that they are thriving. My daughter was supposed to begin second grade but has been advanced to third-grade materials along with her brother. My son is doing fourth-grade level geometry and I only encourage him to use those abilities. Each kid has a subject they fly through as do they have one they struggle with and that’s perfectly fine.

When my family suggested that homeschool was a bad idea their only reasoning was that it didn’t allow enough social interaction. Both kids regularly play at multiple parks and engage with kids quite well. My daughter is also part of a soccer team which she adores. They learn at home and have friends outside of the home. I recently discovered there were Meetups in my area that were designed to bring homeschooled families together. Living in a community where teaching at home is common has been awesome.

There is one tiny drawback to all of this but it usually only lasts about five minutes. There is a level of stress that needles its way into me often. So many things to teach, so little time. Sometimes other important decisions or activities get sidelined in favor of teaching and learning. There are some days where it is the school work that must be sidelined in favor of other life responsibilities. The ability to move around schedules and adapt easily has been a real lifesaver for our family.

In the end, I would never change a thing about our life. I have an advanced degree and studied pedagogy throughout college which gave me a leg-up. I have the opportunity to spend my days with my two favorite people in the world and watch them learn and grow. Homeschooling is not for everyone but it has worked for us.

All that Remains-Chapter One

Having a blog can be a useful thing for a writer. While I do freelance for websites, writing novels is what I cherish most. Assuming there is any interest, I will post a few more chapters. The story follows Angela Abrams, a recent high school graduate who cannot wait to get out of her small town. There is something sinister about this town and it is up to her and her best friend, Milo to get to the bottom of it before they both leave for college at the end of the summer.


Chapter 1

     It was the time of the year when my entire room was under assault. Even with the blinds closed tight, the heat would sneak itself through the inhibiting slats, rousing my bare legs, arms and every inch of exposed skin that wasn’t hidden beneath the thin cotton sheet. Usually, I would become furious with the aggressive coaxing from the sun to start the day as it was typically a weekend in which I didn’t wake up before the sun. This was a morning, unlike the others. This time it was a signifier of summer. Not just any summer, but the last summer I would sleep in my childhood bed. The last summer I would have an east facing window. In only a few months, seventy-four days, I would be living in a dorm room away from everything I had known. My mom begged me to go to school nearby but living in the middle of the desert for nearly eighteen years was long enough, and I wouldn’t wish a lifetime in Manere Valley on my worst enemy. Manere became physically and emotionally exhausting and was more than I could handle for another year. My chosen University was Carnegie Mellon, a school I fantasized about since before I knew what I wanted to do there. I found a brochure hidden beneath old magazines and advertisements in our school library. There were pictures of young people laughing on the steps of historic buildings, others goofing off on the lush green lawn while some were studying under massive oak trees.

     Manere had none of that; just dirt, cactus, and devastating winds that would knock down innocent strolling pedestrians, regularly. There was rarely studying done outside because the shade was limited, not to mention how difficult it was to think straight with the blistering heat melting our developing brains. If it weren’t for hiding away inside and utilizing air conditioners and swamp-coolers, nothing would ever get done in Manere. Even so, many people walked around like depression-afflicted zombies unable to ask for help. Life was completely different across the country, the cheerfulness on the faces on those brochures sparked a motivation that never wavered. I was going to leave Manere.

     Beyond the most vital reasons to escape, I chose to go to Carnegie Mellon to get away from everything I had amassed in my life, so far. It was more than a pile of memories, it was a heaping junkyard of past indiscretions that needed to be cleared out, so I could start fresh. My friends were the only thing in my life that I knew I would miss when we all went our separate ways. Though, even that was beginning to become less true.

     I had the same best friends practically since birth.  They were my friends before we grew up and became deplorable. Maybe we weren’t any worse than the average awful teenager, it was just our natural state of being. This realization only occurred to me a few months before graduation. The first moment I became aware of the unkindness of my group came during Calculus. Mr. Machinski was giving some lesson on the rules of derivatives, but I became distracted by the notes Ellie and Lucy were passing back and forth. It was one of those long tables, not our standard single desks, so they were just passing back and forth a spiral notebook.

Look at Mr. M with those special Ed shoes and high waters. Vomit!

No wonder his wife left him.

Ugh, now he has a wedgie. I wonder if he even notices

He probably doesn’t even care. He’s probably just going to kill himself anyway

When I saw those words on the paper, which could have been so easily seen by Mr. Machinski, I just felt incredibly sad for him and more than anything, disappointed in my friends. There were plenty of times when we would make jokes about people, even Mr. M but some feeling of unrest swirled inside of me that day, making every interaction with my group slightly less appealing.                                                               

     That wasn’t the first or last time I felt isolated, even from Lucy who had been my best friend since we were three-years-old. The second moment I knew I needed to get out of Manere came when we were in line waiting to get our graduation caps. For four years, the concept of waiting in line seemed to have vanished. Elementary school was all about waiting in line. Coming from recess, going to lunch or the library, was all done in a single-file line. Once high school came around, there was no need for it. Everyone forgot how to behave, and it became impossible to stay civilized. The lack of civility may have contributed to the nasty attitude we all seemed to have developed. Sure, when we were kids, we teased and were teased. Once we became teenagers, it became a brutal psychological game that never let up. Every time I did something rude, I would feel instantly terrible about it. Sometimes it would make me feel sick to my stomach, I couldn’t eat, and my sleep would become all wonky. Yet, I would keep doing it. It was an addiction like anything else.

     Rather than seeking out some help for my addiction, I needed to cut off my supply by moving far away from these people who made it far too easy to scorch the world in which I lived. Since the world I lived in was such a tiny place in the universe, I knew it was time to expand where I had been, so I could develop who I would become.

     Lucy was running late and if there was one thing I could always count on it was that Lucy never showed up anywhere even close to on time. Her tardiness was just one of the traits I was not going to miss about Lucy, especially if it meant we would miss part of Ellie’s final soccer game ever. Lucy snuck up behind me and faintly smacked me in the back of my head.

“Dude, what was that?” I slurred, unsure of whether she left any permanent damage.

“You told my dad we weren’t going to go out of town for the camping trip? What was that


Lucy was indignant, but it was tricky trying to figure out when something was going to stew with her for days or if this was something that could be cured with a change of subject. I decided it was best to address the problem.

“I thought you said we weren’t going to go, anyway. My mom doesn’t want me to leave town until it’s time to leave in the fall. Your dad nearly had a conniption fit when you told him we were going to go.” I explained

“That was the best part, Angie. What is the point of doing stupid things if you’re not terrorizing your parents?”

“Lucy, you know we wouldn’t be able to leave anyway. I’m sure the trip will be canceled for everyone, once word gets out that a bunch of teenagers want to get out of town”

“It’s barely out of town limits” Lucy whined.


“Ugh, but it would be so entertaining to drive my father crazy” Lucy whimpered.

“I don’t know why you have to be so bitchy to your dad. He loves you, but you treat him like he just annoys you all the time.”

“Ding! Ding! Ding! My dear friend. That is exactly what he does.”

“Come on Lucy, he is not that bad. He just doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you. He’s a

worrier. I can understand that”.

     I used to worry about everything. When I was ten, the incessant worrying felt like part of my identity. It started out in ways that seemed inconsequential. I didn’t realize it was the beginning of everything else. When I was ten, Lydia Baker came over to play, and she didn’t close Squiggle’s cage after playing with him. That night, there was a clamoring which jolted me out of bed. The flimsy cassette holder that was standing in the corner of my room was now on the ground in pieces. Under the debris of cheap pine was my hamster, poor Squiggle, trapped. Squiggle gave out a single breathe and died. It was the worst experience I had ever had, and even years later I think about his tiny startled face. After that, not only would I check doors to make sure they were locked, anchored things to make sure they didn’t fall, but I also questioned the safety and potential outcome for all possible future activities. Somehow this led to an obsession with germs which lasted a bit longer than securing the house four times before bed. The concern made me physically ill at school. I spent half of the fifth grade in the nurse’s office.

     Along with discovering I had severe anxiety problems, my time there was how I met Derek Mayhew. I recognized him as the kid who transferred into my class mid-year. Through his persistence and the rest of our group taking an interest, he became part of our close-knit team too. That was back when Milo was still talking to me.

“What are you thinking about?” Lucy nearly shouted.

“Nothing. How it all used to be.”

“Oh, no Angela. Please don’t get all nostalgic on me. Is this about Milo?”


        “Yes. It seems like whenever you get lost in your thoughts, we start talking about him.”

   “I guess I just miss him,” I said under my breath, trying not to dwell on it too long.

  “It’s his fault. Don’t even think about him for another minute. He sucks, and you are awesome. What kind of friend just decides to ditch his friends and make them feel bad about who they are?”

        “I know, I just wish,” I said sulkily while I rolled my open palm on the pencil that sat on my desk.

“He is the one who changed. Not us. If he doesn’t like it, he can sit in his sad, dark room with all his friends. Oh wait, he doesn’t have any friends” Lucy smirked

     Milo was the one who had decided he didn’t want to be friends with us anymore. At first, I couldn’t understand why which made me hate him. It took me far too long to understand it all.  He could see what I wasn’t ready to see.

Back in the Saddle Again (This time with Celiac Disease)

Well, it has been over a year since making a blog post. In the blogging world, that’s pretty much the kiss of death. Luckily, I’m not too worried about all that. If I was, that would just be more stress in my already anxiety stricken mind.

There have been a few reasons for my absence. Living in a new place and getting used to it definitely took a toll. After moving to a city, my family and I mostly chose on a whim, I wasn’t sure I felt about the place. The city is over 1200 miles away from our last home, making things even more troubling. But you know what? It has worked out. There is no such thing as a perfect place to live, and after finally realizing that obvious conclusion, I felt relief.

Last year I also discovered that I had Celiac disease, or rather my doctor did. Having bizarre and limiting diets throughout my twenties was great practice for this new life. For anyone who isn’t sure what Celiac disease is, it’s basically this annoying malabsorption problem that exists when a person consumes gluten. It attacks your intestines and moves on to other organs if you don’t give up gluten completely. Some people go on for years never knowing they have it because they may not experience symptoms. I did, oh boy did I. The moment my doctor told me the results, I became vigilant in a non-gluten diet.

Things improved for the most part, and I even stopped having an iron deficiency, which is something I had for as long as I can remember.

If there is a more celiac slant to a few of my blog posts, it is only natural. It’s a completely different lifestyle, and luckily my children are fantastic about it. They make sure to wash their “Gluten Hands” after eating to ensure even the tiniest trace doesn’t end up on my own plate. Making separate meals for me and my family can be exhausting but necessary.

My partner, who is also the father of my children, does so much for me. He makes sure all the dishes are scrubbed and free of gluten, makes meals often, and even convinces me to buy the gluten-free alternatives for certain items even when I scoff at the sky-high price.

Some days are easier than others with this way of life. Fast food is nearly out of the question because even when there are gluten alternatives, cross-contamination is a huge issue.  Not having the ability to just have a burger and fries with my family on the way home from a soccer game can be mighty depressing. Food has always been an event for me. I always ate healthily, so when I did eat out or make myself something particularly unhealthy, I made it count. Now those options are limited.

We did find a small pizza place that made great gluten-free pizzas and had a very celiac, aware staff. I nearly cried when I ate my first bite, it was amazing. Unfortunately, not only was it far too expensive to do regularly, I grew tired of them even when it was just a special occasion treat. Honestly, I miss having Little Ceasar’s Hot and Ready.

I always encourage my family to eat what they want because they don’t need to change their diet. They wouldn’t because it would be unhealthy to do so in their non-celiac situation. I still sit with them at Dairy Queen and have a fountain drink and maybe bring a gluten-free snack along, or make my own meal when they bring home Chinese food. I will admit it is incredibly difficult to see the food, to smell the food, and know that even the smallest bite will have me sick for days.

So, that’s where I am now. I plan on incorporating the Celiac lifestyle to this blog but it will always be a parenting blog at heart because being a Celiac just something I happened to be, but being a parent is what I live for.

How Could I Have Been So Wrong About People?

Isn’t it funny when you reflect upon friends of your past and there are times when you cringe? Or maybe someone you dated or had a random hook-up? Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s tragic, but it is definitely part of getting older. I’m in my early thirties, and for the last few years, I have really noticed a disconnect from the person I was and the person I am today. Thanks to evil/genius of Facebook, it seems we never have to completely lose touch with everyone we have ever known. The best friend in 1st grade? The girl scout troop leader’s daughter? College roommate and college roommate’s boyfriend who she isn’t even friends with anymore? The dude you met once at a frat party junior year of college and would never remember his name if it wasn’t for his occasional post on the being vegan or saving the bees? They’re all there.

In the good old days (Again, I’m only in my 30s so this is mostly the 90s I’m talking about) people would be friends, lose interest and never speak again. And you know what? That was fine. It was more than fine, it was natural. Now with social media, we don’t get to just remember people fondly, we have to be reminded of their existence daily. Why do I do it? I know I will just be disappointed by someone. We all do it. It’s sick. It’s like popping people’s zits or reading the intricate details of serial killers on Wikipedia for hours. It’s a waste of time, it’s not healthy, and it’s depressing (which would also be unhealthy since it’s self-infliction).

When I talk to people from the past, which is rarely on the phone or in real life proving how minor our true connection is,  I try to remember why I spent time with this person. Were they always like this? Was their political leaning always this extreme? Did they always hate puppies and engage in hipster culture? Mostly, they didn’t. People change, and hey! that’s fine. I have changed substantially in the last decade. One of the more troubling services Facebook offers is a reminder of what you posted on a certain day each year. This is a horrifying glimpse at the kind of person I have been. There are times I laugh at how silly I was being over something minor. There are times when I feel nostalgic, but mostly I just want to scream “Megan! Why are you the worst?!” No wonder, I know these people, I was a terrible in many ways too.

In reality, I don’t really believe I was all that bad. Typically, I am reminded of how I felt in those moments. When I am having a tough time and am convinced my life was so much easier and I was so much more sure of myself when I was in my twenties, I  am reminded by Facebook that I was much more lost than I am now. It’s a  pleasant feeling.

As for my “Friends”, have I changed or have they? The problem with Facebook is that everyone gives snapshots of who they are, what they’re going through, and what they believe, in such a superficial way that it’s hard to connect with these people on a deeper level. Since I rarely reach out to these friends, some of who I was extremely close to at one time in my life, I never really find out how much they have truly changed.  Even sending a quick message seems like too much of an effort. I’m awkward and don’t know if I really want to carry on a long back and forth, so what’s the point? These people are not really my friends anymore. The likelihood of spending face-to-face time with most of them would almost be the same as spending time with Reese Witherspoon, Kevin Smith and Stan Lee (All of who I follow on Facebook). Is that who these people, who I used to go to dinner with, go to parties with, and believe would be my friends forever, have become? Now more integral to my life than celebrities I find endearing?

Along with the friends who I just don’t feel the desire to contact, there are also the few that I downright despise. Even though I have had the reasonable mind to unfriend quite a few people over the years, there are at least a half-dozen that I choose not to “Follow” but are still on my friend’s list. I haven’t committed to dropping them completely because even though I can’t stand anything they post and if I saw them, I may feel the need to punch them in the face, there is something stopping me from hitting that unfriend button. These are usually the people I try to remember all of the positive things about their genuine persona rather than their Facebook persona. There are also a few who I know will contact me if I unfriend them which would lead me to explain just how awful I find them. It’s not that I mind confrontation, it’s that I hate wasting time on something I care so little about.

I can’t even find it in myself to post something. I’ll glance at the feed every day or even check out someone’s profile, but post something about my own life? Nope. I am not much of a sharer because I’m not sure that anyone is all that intrigued with my life. Other than my mother who I speak to on the phone every single night. She doesn’t need my updates, I have her updated more than necessary.

One thing that I have seen people admit about Facebook and other social media is that people too often post pictures of their children. While I suggest and practice keeping your profile on private to keep the cuties unseen by the general public, I disagree with the complainers. I adore seeing people’s children. Whether the person is a close friend, family member or just an acquaintance I haven’t seen in a decade, I want to see those chubby cheeks and those days at the zoo.  It’s sweet, harmless, and just a relief from being reminded of the terrible politics of today. Be who you are, and I’ll continue to be who I am, but I probably won’t post anything on Facebook about it.




Lately, I haven’t been writing much for this blog. Keeping up with a blog can be time-consuming and problematic when your blog is about parenting and you still have to parent. That statement is false and I only said it as a way to show the sort of passive aggressive attitude that some mothers use on social media as a way to judge each other. The reason why I haven’t had time to write more blog posts has little to do with all of the time I am spending with my children and more about the time I am working on other projects. Currently, I am working on another YA novel and a few essays while also writing freelance for difference websites. I do spend an almost inordinate amount of time with my kids. Since I do spend so much time with my children, make sure they are healthy, happy, constantly learning and feeling loved, you would think that most observers would label me a “Good Mother”. I am confident in that label but I think there is always work to be done and more to strive for when it comes to parenting and making sure we are helping shape good human beings.

Now let’s move on to my main gripe, the social media judgy mothers. I am not an avid social media user and only have a Facebook and Twitter account.I have never had an Instagram and only had Snapchat for about ten minutes before realizing it was a way to pass dirty pictures to the desired sex who are long distance friends and want to get weird but pretend it didn’t happen the next day. I have complained before about hating Facebook. At one point, I even closed my Facebook account but returned to it only to keep in contact with family members because Facebook has become the place to keep in contact with parents, cousins and distant great-aunts who you haven’t seen since you were three.

One particular person on my “Friends” list is not my own family member but a cousin-in-law. I have known her since she was ten and had plenty of spunk. Today, she is going to be twenty-three, married, has two toddlers, and an unending stream of judgemental mother posts. A few of the highlights include; Breastfeeding is the only way, circumcision is basically murder,  kids aren’t expensive and people are just wasteful, vaccines are the devil, you aren’t using the car seat properly, and so many more things that I have lost track. I am not talking trash about this person, I know she is a lovely person but I think she has gotten a bit over her head in believing she knows everything. She’s in her 20s, that’s pretty much how it goes. Now let’s see,

  1. Breastfeeding is the only way- I understand the importance of breast milk and certainly, breast is best but it is not the only way. The very idea that she is naive enough to believe that everyone has the ability for free-flowing breast milk at all times is absurd. Some women just can’t keep up with the supply and demand and no one should tell them that there is anything wrong with that. There is already so much negativity between women, do we really need to add breast milk shaming to the list? I tried to breastfeed with both my children and the one who lasted the longest only managed for two months. After that, I was exhausted and bone dry. I wish there was something I could have changed about my biology but even a lactation specialist told me to stop worrying about it so much.
  2. Circumcision is basically murder: I am not exactly sure where her obsession with circumcision came from considering she does not have any boys but I will ignore that aspect of it. To say female and male circumcision is the same is a bit off but I understand where she thinks she is coming from. I do believe in circumcision because I have spoken to men who were not circumcised and wished they were. They talk about having infections when they were children because it was more difficult to clean and the fear of being naked around others because it is much more common in the United States to be circumcised. That being said, everyone has to make the choice for their own child when they are too young to make them for themselves. Whether the child will grow up to be angry that their parent had the procedure done before they were old enough to stop it, or if they are furious that their parent didn’t have it done. To make someone feel like a monster, no matter what choice they make, is cruel.
  3. Kids aren’t expensive and people should stop complaining- Telling other people that what they do and do not buy for their kids is wrong is the real problem here. Besides the fact that kids do get more expensive when they get older (bigger beds, more space in a home, possible braces, potential ridiculous accidents that end up with a kid in the ER, field trip money, birthday party gifts, more food, so much more food…). Kids are expensive to some degree because life is expensive. Everything cost money and to limit every little thing a child needs just to say you are a thrifty person doesn’t really work. Especially once the kids are old enough to question these decisions.
  4. Vaccines are the devil-Ugh, this is the most annoying argument from the last decade for parents. I am not even talking specifically about what is wrong or right.  I was vaccinated as a child, and my children are vaccinated. I believe in science and have not had any issues that would contradict my decision. I don’t care if you don’t want to vaccinate your child. If you go to Disneyland during a Measles outbreak, good luck. Please just stop posting nonstop propaganda on your feed.
  5. Everyone is putting their kids in car seats wrong. It’s simple, follow the directions on the piece of paper that comes in the box. If you are not confident in how safe the seat is for your child, go to any fire station and they will help you. Using Pinterest or Facebook as a guide, rather than common sense, is what is wrong with the world today.

The last one had me channeling Andy Rooney but I do believe it. I hate to make posts that are basically me ranting about things that people do but there is no way I am the only one who goes through this. Just as this blog gives me the ability to say what I want to a global audience, social media is a way for people to share and sometimes vent to others. To make uninformed statements about the way others choose to parent is shortsighted and even strange. I don’t mind the occasional vent but Facebook should probably be less about constantly re-posting political and social agendas until you alienate every family member and friend that you have, and more about funny things that happened to you in line today or maybe some pictures of you climbing Mount Whitney. Now, those are things that I would like to see.

I am Terrified of Everything because Everything and Everyone is Trying to kill me and my Children (Dealing with Anxiety while being a mom)

I am a self-admitted worrywart. I admit it but I am definitely not the first to diagnose myself with this  problem. I am beyond a worrywart, I am one of the unlucky anxiety-ridden people who often seek out assistance from therapist or pharmacists. I have a tendency to make things much more difficult on myself, so I deal with day to day anxiety without any prescriptions or much help at all.

While I have been an anxious person since I was a child, it seems that having children has only increased my obnoxious tendency to fear the world around me. I thought once my children grew out of infancy, that I too would grow out of whatever it was that I was so nervous about. However, this is not the case. When I take the kids camping, I fear ticks which cause Lyme disease, I fear mosquitoes because of the Zika virus, and I fear bears because THEY’RE BEARS! It doesn’t mean I am going to deny my children the experience of camping and hiking and exploring nature, but there will always be a little voice inside my head that reminds me of potential hazards.

Then there are car rides and long trips. Alfred Hitchcock never learned to drive and hated being in cars  because of the likely chance of a car accident.Car accidents are so common that it would be ridiculous not to be afraid of driving in them or riding in them. Again, I can’t keep my kids from taking road trips across the country simply because of the risk, because otherwise I am doing them a disservice from missing all of the best parts of life that I am trying so hard to preserve.

I am also terrified of dented cans which can expose us to botulism, as well as other risky food situations. Amazingly, I fed my kids peanut butter and sushi at a young age. I cannot explains my reasoning for anything because I do not believe I am being completely reasonable most of the time.

The most recent fear I had to overcome this week was general anesthesia. My son needed to be put under because quite a number of his teeth needed work. He is the first kid, which means we made dental mistakes and now we are dealing with them. Since he was so fussy while still awake, they had to dose him with some night night gas. I was completely against it and have been to four previous dentists who suggested it. I have read about so many children dying or suffering brain damage from anesthesia at the dentist that it was a definite no-go. The problem was that this poor kid’s teeth were only getting worse because the damage had already been done and there was no reversing it. I too had a lot of teeth issues when I was a child and I feel my crappy genetics were partly to blame as well. I am not an anti-vaccine person. In fact, I believe science is magical and I would never deny my children their vaccinations because  even if the autism risk was true (which it’s not) I would rather have a kid with autism than a kid who died from something preventable.

Anyway, after finding a dentist and practice I completely trusted. I booked the appointment and nervously counted the days. I dreaded this so much, I could not sleep the night before at all. Here I am the next day and I am so happy to report that it all worked out fine. He did great. The dentist did great and the anesthesiologist did great. I wanted to share this story because when I was googling experiences of children going to the dentist and receiving general anesthesia, it was all the worst possible outcomes. I am a googler. Any pain or strange feeling I have, I immediately start looking up to see how long I have to live. It is a terrible habit and I am trying to stop. I don’t do it nearly as much but it’s still too often.

I admit, I am a worrywart. More than a worrywart, but I am also a mom and what mom doesn’t worry?