When You Give A Mom A Trip to Spain…

Every once in a blue moon, a rare thing happens. The stars align and a mom of 3 children is allowed to travel away from her kids, the chaos, and the never-ending car pools.

In fact it’s a delicate recipe of multiple ingredients, stirred, and carefully combined in just the right amounts and with perfect timing.

Here's a copy of the recipe:

  1. A husband who is traveling to Spain for work three times in a short period. (And, how exciting—you get to tag along with him for the second trip!)
  2. Frequent flyer miles; enough to fly grandma (my mom) IN to care for the kids while you’re gone! (Or if you’re luckier than us, grandma lives nearby in the first place!) And she conveniently heeds the mayday call and comes right away.
  3. Children who aren’t so little that you worry about leaving them home, and yet who are old enough to make their own school lunches and walk to and from school, so you don’t stress about making grandma do too much.
  4. A GPS device. (This literally saved my mom’s life!)
  5. Writing down the dreaded family schedule:

               * If your family is anything like mine it will take you several hours and you’ll still forget to list the early morning, student government meeting the 5th grader has on Fridays and the Tuesday Cub Scout meeting for the 2nd grader (don’t forget his book!).

               * You will make a resolution to get back in the meal planning game when after three nights in a row you suggest grandma go pick up pizza (since it’s what you’d do those nights).

               *And it will make you sad when you realize that you take the oldest to school at 7:40 a.m. and don’t see her again before 6 or 7 p.m.

               *But once ‘The List’ is complete you’ll realize it’s not so scary after all. And grandma has a lot of daytime downtime while the kids are in school, right? (So why does MY daily life seem so crazy all the time!?)

        6. Finally you will definitely, absolutely need to figure out Skype. With a 9-hour time difference it will be hard to connect at all, much less really SEE each other. And you can tell yourself it’s only 7 nights away, but after the 2nd night you will miss your kids something fierce—you’ll miss all the Good and the Crazy—and video chatting at 6 a.m. Spain time will totally be worth it!

So is it true?

Mom is never allowed to leave the country? Just like there’s no crying in baseball? Especially if the dad is also gone?! Not always. Sometimes all the ingredients meld together to create the perfect paella and even the hectic family schedule can be tamed…for a week.

I’m happy to report my mom my pulled it off! (Note: See the photo of Carissa's mom and her grandchildren, below). And I’m also beyond impressed with my kiddos. Things that, as a mom, you take for granted, become a thing of beauty when viewed through grandma’s eyes. My kids (even the 7 year old) wake themselves with their own alarms. When the high schooler is home, she’s a huge help, doing dinner prep work the dishes, and even helping with the younger siblings if needed. And with enough reminders, homework basically completes itself.

Other than the massive piles of papers needing to be signed, my kids are on their own for afterschool work 90 percent of the time. 

And when grandma is around, who needs to be entertained? I think they enjoyed her as much as she enjoyed them!

So, when do I get to travel again!?!

How do you manage the entire school schedule, activities, and chaos when you have to (or get to) travel?


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School's Halloween Carnival Equals Applause For teachers!

My fake Farah Fawcett wig is off to teachers who make a difference … kudos to teacher involvement in schools everywhere!

Three years ago, we experienced our first elementary “Halloween Carnival” at our current school. And I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled to attend yet “another” fundraiser. The week of Halloween is crazy-hectic enough with last minute family costume changes, church events, classroom parties, friend's parties, and … Trick or Treating, don’t forget!

Like many events, however, we absolutely enjoyed the carnival once we got there. (As if the kids would let me miss it!) We gathered up our ghosts and goblins and marched in to purchase our tickets. I was prepared with a few dollars so that each kid could buy popcorn, drinks, and whatever snacks were provided.

I wasn’t prepared, however, for the teacher involvement.

The what? You heard me.

It was something I had never experienced before. We’ve lived in 4 different states, attended 6 different schools, and I can tell you it’s a rare occurrence to see teachers in the building after school hours … much less RUNNING the whole school carnival!

After I snatched my jaw up off the cotton-candy crusted floor, I asked around. “Is this normal? Do the teachers usually attend after school events?” And the response was: “Well … this IS their fundraiser after all.”

Really? What a great idea! Turns out the funds raised are divided among the teachers for them to spend as they see fit: mainly on classroom supplies or as a year-end budget for simple field trips (mostly for transportation expenses.)

Our PTO gets involved and helps supply paper goods for the event, but the planning and operation is carried out solely by the teachers and our amazing Principal Krieger. Knowing this benefits the teachers directly—and my kids indirectly—has kept us returning year after year to enjoy the goodncrazy chaos and fun.

Apparently this carnival tradition has been tricking out for many years, because the game booths are substantial (they've obviously been built by hand) and have been improved over the years. Imagine running the popcorn stand or the pie throwing booth?!

Yes. They are ALL teachers.

Possibly the best part of the whole night? Seeing Principal Krieger dressed as a scarecrow!

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Going Solo on Halloween: A Salute To Single Parents Everywhere

My husband is an attorney. And surprising to many, that statement is not mutually exclusive of the fact that he is the funniest, silliest person I know, and the most likely   to dress up in witch-drag as “Elphaba” for Halloween! (This photo of the Rogers family is from Halloween 2010.)

He relives his high school thespian days on any given evening by transforming his face and arching his shoulders into a hunchback and pretends to attack our children. He teaches the kids Weird Al songs and can be heard singing “Dead Puppies” at the top of his lungs.


One of our favorite family traditions isn’t really a family thing at all. Every Sunday night he makes his special chocolate chip pan cookies with the kids. (My only job in this affair is to make sure there are plenty of chocolate chips in the house at all times!)


Our family has been known to dress in a theme for Halloween. We spend months planning what we’ll wear, who will be what, and then dad scours second hand stores to find exactly the perfect vest or wig to fit his vision.


I’m sharing all this to make it clear we simply cannot function on many levels without him. And I haven’t even mentioned that while I work a little from home, by far, he is the breadwinner in the family. I am the consumer.


Fast forward to the end of October: What are the Rogers’ planning?


What is our crazy dad going to be for Halloween?


... HE ISN’T.


The horror! (Insert Macaulay Culkin face slapping.) Why? Because he’ll traveling for work over the week of Halloween.


We try to adjust to his travel schedule throughout the year. Mornings are painful. Getting the kids up and ready and off to their various schools and bus stops, on my own, makes everyone grumpy. Afternoons are less stressful, since that’s my normal realm.


But the evenings simply kill me. Adult conversation, and someone to watch the latest Netflix movie with and share a few laughs during the Colbert report are evening pastimes that are simply wrong when alone. Plus, I stay up too late and my feet are cold without my husband/foot-warmer next to me when I crawl into bed.


But missing Halloween? It’s like collectively punching us all in the gut. The joy in dressing up is lost. I’ve contracted Costume-Refusal Syndrome. (Seriously, it’s real; Google it.)


I keep thinking about all the single parents in the world: The mom who folds laundry alone or the dad who watches “Modern Family” alone. They help their kids with homework after school and in the evening, then get up, feed them healthy breakfasts, and scoot them off to school — all without any help. The short-lived single-momness I experience cannot compare to their world. They do Halloween alone every year.


I salute single parents everywhere. 


The thing is there’s always another year for us. (Who knows, maybe we’re secretly planning to dress the whole family head to toe in blue Smurfalicious outfits next year? Shhhh don’t tell.) 




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My Child’s IEP is Bigger Than Your 10 Pounds

Imagine you’re having lunch with a couple of friends who are talking about weight loss…

And you jump in and mention that you’re still trying to lose those last 10 pounds of “baby weight” (okay my “baby” is 7 years old), and they collectively sneer at you? It seems your 10 pounds counts less than their pounds. But no less ideal is your ideal weight, is it?

Sometimes I get this same disdain when I attempt to describe my kids’ behavioral issues, or school related problems. When I talk about my 5th grade daughter’s frustration due to boredom in the classroom, the response often is pooh-poohed.

“My child’s issues trump yours by 10x!” is the annoyed response I get from them. They aren’t willing to listen to the concerns that might arise with a child who overall excels at school, yet still has specific difficulties, albeit small. It’s like they think I’m not worthy of getting to my ideal weight, nor is my daughter worthy of additional help in areas where she may genuinely need the help.

I’m not trying to compare child problems or gauge whose child struggles more. And certainly I’m not judging anyone! I’m simply in need of sharing a current parenting/school frustration at the collective mommy water-cooler.

Before you compare your child’s problems to another parent’s child’s problems, walk a few steps on their treadmill!

Believe me I’m well aware of the energy and effort required as the parent of a child with mild to severe learning differences.

  • I’ve spent a lot of time listening to other moms explain the pain they feel as they watch their child struggle with learning disabilities or ADHD or even a grade school bully.
  • I’ve gotten extra training in order to babysit a friend’s epileptic 5 year old, giving my friend much needed hours of relief.
  • I have watched carefully and learned alongside my sister while she raises a child with cerebral palsy.
  • And I’m a trained foster care provider. I’ve seen my share of behavioral issues!

What I’m saying is that the next time a friend asks you to join her in a local “biggest loser” workout group, say YES and be grateful for the motivation — instead of peeking at her scale!

And the next time the mom-next-door complains about her sons’ funny obsession with red crayons, instead of lashing out that she should be grateful that her kid is advanced enough to know his colors, take a step back and remember that every mom is working through all the ups and downs of their own kid’s peculiarities the same as you are. 

Have you had conversations like this? Do you have a hard time NOT comparing your child’s achievements to others?

And you can totally come work out with me. I’ll be at the gym at 8:45 a.m. After all, those last ten pounds are NOT walking off on their own!




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The Kids Are Back To School and Mom is Back To The Gym!

It’s 8 a.m., and the kids are all backpacked and out the door. I enjoy the quiet of that moment every single weekday.

Don’t get me wrong—massive crazy happens between 6:30 and 8 a.m.! But … we are slowly taking control of our morning routine (we are, I swear!). However, the after school rat race with one freshman and two active elementary kids apparently isn’t going to be tamed anytime soon because the beast changes every week!


I’m staging “Operation: Take Back my Mornings!”


I could hang around enjoying a hot cocoa, schedule a pedicure with a friend, or even get busy and make those East Coast phone calls I’m behind on. Nope. Not me.


Now that the kids are back to school, MOM is Back to the Gym!


I saw this bumper sticker the other day: “A Fit Mom is a Powerful Mom.” And I totally agree. Only I haven’t been fit or powerful or even able to walk up my stairs without huffing and puffing for months! I’m ready to get my powers back. I’m not about losing a bunch of pounds; I’m about defeating those dang STAIRS. Plus it helps tremendously that I have a good friend who is even more motivated to fire up her mom-fierce. I highly suggest finding a walking buddy, a gym treadmill friend or even an online group that will give you motivation or competition or whatever gets your blood pumping.


When I don’t have a chatty friend to make the minutes less boring, my new favorite Pandora station is “I Will Survive” … and I dare you to listen to that song and NOT crank the dial up to a fast walk or (ack!) even a jog! The other songs that magically appear are so fabulously disco that you can’t help but smile and keep walking (yes, I’m the one on the corner elliptical doing the hand signals to YMCA; don’t judge me).


Another favorite treadmill pastime is to download library books on my phone or MP3 player. Lately the best ones I’ve listened to are:


“The Help” — Kathryn Stockett (Oh.My.Wonderful.Book. Worth the movie—but DON’T miss the book!)


“Cutting For Stone”— Abraham Verghese (If you haven’t read this I feel very sad for you. My mostest favorite book in 2010)


“Hell Gate”— Linda Fairstein (This was a brain candy type of whodoneit, but I loved the voices of the narrator.)


Audio books and your favorite tunes are also great for getting your groove on while cleaning the house. I’ve been known to work up a sweat while dancing with my vacuum cleaner!


Come on, Moms, while those kids are at school get your powerful back! Pedicures can wait; I say a fit mom is a happy mom, and happy moms will raise happy children.



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Carissa Rogers Joins SchoolFamily as GoodNCrazy Mom!

At SchoolFamily.com, we are thrilled to introduce readers to our newest blogger, Carissa Rogers, who will be blogging here as GoodNCrazy Mom. An experienced writer in the blogosphere, Carissa has a devoted following at her personal blog, GoodNCrazy, where she writes about what's on her mind, what's going on with her three kids (pictured here with their mom), and the wonderful crazy world of parenting. Here, she'll be doing much of the same, though adding the world of school into the mix. Feel free to drop Carissa a note (contacts are below in her post) and welcome her to SchoolFamily.com!

— Carol Brooks Ball, editor, SchoolFamily.com


I am super excited to join the SchoolFamily.com team.  

I’ll be sharing all the good and crazy in my world; including all the ups and downs of parenting 3 kids in 2 different public schools.

I live in southern Oregon. 

Where the town is tiny and the air is clean.

The Fighter Jets Train and the Ducks Reign.
Where Good is Crazy & Crazy is Good.

I’m a Mom of all trades… Jack of NONE.

About my 3 GoodNCrazy kids:

* My oldest daughter is 13. She’s a freshman. And already ‘borrows’ my shoes! She’s in multiple honors classes, plays the clarinet in marching band, tried out for her first school play and still has piano, church youth group and duties at home. —Oh, and having a near 14 year old around means we have a built-in babysitter once a week. (Yay for us!)

Be prepared to hear me whine at least once or twice about the fact that I have just begun 10 years of this thing called HIGH SCHOOL

* My middle child is a very creative 10 year old girl. She is my uber determined child; I’m talking Tenacious with a capitol T! When she decided to ride a bike sans training wheels she simply marched outside and taught herself. 

She’s in the fifth grade and is an advanced student with oh so many girlfriends. Yes, that means...all the joys and nightmares of 5th grade ‘girl drama’! She’s most excited right now about three things: (1) starting band (I choose the FLUTE! Mom!) (2) passing off her nine times tables and (3) running for vice president of her whole elementary. (Let the drama begin!)

* My youngest is a little boy. He’s 7 years old and in the 2nd grade. He is obsessed with science and engineering. I’m not kidding—we’ve checked out every single ‘project’ book in the local library. 

With two older sisters, imagine how delightful it is to have an all-boy; who’s purely oblivious to all the drama! This year he has found his ‘social’ gene. And while he loves school and learning he is all about recess and the ‘ball’ games his friends make up on the spot. “Mom can I have a play date today?” Repeated over and over is apparently going to be the theme for his year. 

I have one GoodNCrazy husband. He’s an attorney who loves Halloween and is an excellent foot warmer. He generally makes me laugh till I cry on a daily basis. Best of all, he’s a great dad in all the right ways. 

When I’m not busy shuffling kids to and fro: 

In my former life I was a molecular biologist. In my current stay-at-home life I am the chief researcher of parenting dos (and some don’ts), I love experimenting with new recipes and for spice I pretend to be a photographer… 

In my work-at-home life I write and consult for several websites as well as play around with this thing called ‘Social Media’ (you can call me @CarissaRogers on Twitter!). I started my personal GoodNCrazy.com blog in February of 2008.

In my volunteer life I have sported many school roles including: PTO Vice President, helped run fundraisers, class parties, class social studies days, rummage sales, read-a-thons and all sorts of other ‘thons’!  This year I plan to step away from being Marge-In-Charge and focus instead on being a good soldier-volunteer mom. (Tell me what needs doing, and I’ll be your girl.) I also volunteer on a regular basis with my church. And new this year… I am the Den Leader for our scouting group! 

Feel free to email me at carissa at goodncrazy dot com or leave me a comment below, I’d love to connect about SchoolFamily topics!

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?

Yes - 31.6%
Sometimes - 25.4%
No - 37.4%

Total votes: 4919
The voting for this poll has ended on: June 25, 2016