The End of Endless Spring Break

I’m writing this the day before our first day of school for the year. Our family chose to do remote learning this semester, as I’m still working from home and we felt that was the best option for our family. And technically, right now all the students in our school district are remote for the time being, but knowing that we have a full semester ahead of us feels a bit daunting. Instead of focusing on the unknown, I’m looking back at the summer we were able to have, even with the restrictions due to the pandemic. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to safely and cautiously travel a bit this summer, both to Colorado and multiple trips to my family’s lake cabin. After being together in our home working and schooling and living for months and months on end, a change of scenery was extremely welcome.

I want to remember all the good times we had this summer, not just the disappointments, cancelled vacations and camps, and challenges. I want to remember Lucy falling in love with skateboarding in Aspen, Tate learning how to waterski, watching my brother-in-law get married in the mountains, hiking and biking, watching the sky change at sunset and staring at the Milky Way at night. I want to remember watching my kids actually play together, laughing and acting silly, not putting on a facade for friends. I want to remember sitting around a fire pit with my family, making s’mores and listening to them talk, laugh and share. I want to remember that the summer of 2020 wasn’t all bad. In fact, there was a lot of good in there too.


Dear Lulu,

Happy 14th birthday, my beautiful girl! I know this birthday isn’t exactly what you were hoping when you thought about turning 14. I mean, for one, I’m sure you didn’t imagine you’d be a few months deep into a quarantine due to a global pandemic? But here we are.

It’s hard for me to even look back on your 14th year on this planet without getting stuck in the pandemic section…we have remarked that February feels like a hundred years ago. But there was a whole 10 months of your year before coronavirus stopped the world, and they were a good 10 months. You really grew into yourself at school and with your friends, and I have loved being able to watch from the sidelines. Because that’s what it’s like being a parent to a middle schooler…a lot of watching from the sidelines, while telling yourself to sit down and stop cheering so loudly because you are so embarrassing OMG.

You learned to snowboard, got your braces off, dyed your hair red, went to two sleep-away camps, and generally became a young adult before our eyes. It is extremely weird to go back through photos from last summer and see how much you have changed. I thought the big, dramatic, yearly growth stopped after kids turned 4 or 5, but the amount you have grown (physically, emotionally, mentally) in the past year is just completely bonkers. That’s not to say we haven’t had challenges, because we definitely have, but the good times far outweigh the more difficult times. And every hard time has been worth the lessons learned, even when it didn’t feel like it in the moment.

Then the pandemic hit. And my girl, I have never been so proud of you. In the span of a few weeks, your entire life changed. You lost every sense of normalcy, your schedule, your friends and your school. You went from a busy teenager with daily play rehearsals, homework, skating lessons, and lots of time with your peers, to being sequestered in our house with your parents and little brother. You were right on the cusp of independence, getting dropped off for activities, staying out later, meeting up with buddies on your own with no parents involved…and then it all ended. School? Cancelled. The school play? Cancelled. Skating? Cancelled.

I am so proud of how you have handled this season of disappointment. The silver lining of this dumb pandemic has been watching you get back to some of the basics of childhood that were squarely in the rearview mirror prior to the quarantine. You head to the park and the creek with your brother, you play board games with us, you hang out for movie night. You ride scooters down the street as fast as you can. You put together an entire Hogwarts Lego set.

Unfortunately, I feel like this season of our life is going to be weird for a while (if only people would just wear their damn masks!), but I know that you will handle it with grace, laughter and joy. Of course, there will continue to be hard moments. There will be times that you can’t stand to look at us anymore, and you yell that you need privacy. There will be times that you put in your headphones and refuse to talk to us at all. There will be days where you slam the door on your little brother and scream at him to leave you alone. I get it. But I also know you. And if there is anything that is constant, it’s that you, my Lulu Light, will always find something to smile about.

If I’m going to be stuck in quarantine for a while longer, I sure am glad it’s with you.

Love you,


Lucy's 12th Birthday


Each year I write a birthday letter to my kids on the blog…you can find Lucy’s previous letters here: tennine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one.

Dear Lucy,

First of all, how is this real life? You’re twelve. TWELVE! That is so many years of being alive in the world, it absolutely blows my mind. These letters are always filled with cliched sayings about time going by too fast, so I’ll try to keep that to a minimum…but TWELVE. Holy crap.

Lucy 12th Birthday

You might notice when checking out links above to your past birthday letters, there isn’t a letter for your eleventh birthday. Well, I have no idea how that happened. Let’s blame the insanity of last year (Trump becoming president, me jumping both feet into advocacy again, starting my new studio) for that oversight. To summarize, eleven was a great year for you, but it was when we started to see inklings of future Lucy, which have come out full force in your twelfth year. To put it plainly…you’re a tween. It has happened.

Lucy 12th Birthday

Tween is a term that I abhorred until I had a kid in this stage, because it’s exactly as it’s cringe-worthy name suggests. It’s in between. You’re not yet a teenager, but often you think you are and sometimes act accordingly (the begging for social media and slamming doors come to mind). However, you’re still a kid too. You still come crawling into our bed when there is a loud thunderstorm and need lots of hugs when you’re struggling. This flipping back and forth between kid and teen is EXHAUSTING for me, so I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for you. Oh wait, I once was tween myself, so I can imagine it and now I’m wishing I couldn’t because I’m even more exhausted!

Lucy 12th Birthday

However, even with all these changes happening in your brain and body, you’re still my Lulu. It’s been really incredible to watch you grow into the young women you are becoming. You’re a kind and loyal friend, a loving big sister (most of the time), and a helpful neighbor. You’ve found your love for performing in choir, ice skating and theater, and I’m excited to see how that evolves as you start middle school in the fall. You graduated elementary school with honors and worked through tough situations where you didn’t always agree with teachers or other adults in your life. You started questioning things more and more, and you will no longer take “because I said so” as a valid response to a question. You will push and argue your point, which can annoy me to no end when I just want to move on, but I know will serve you well as you continue to grow up.

Lucy 12th Birthday

As for growing up, you have a love/hate relationship with the concept. You often talk about missing being a little girl, but you also love having the freedom that being a bit older gives you. This will be a constant battle for the next few years I’m sure…wanting to have privileges of being older, but not necessarily loving the responsibilities that come along with them. I get it. We all have been there. It’s a struggle we all have to go through, and unfortunately, you can’t just skip over it. The lessons you will learn in the next few years won’t always be easy, but they will shape you as a person. I know that’s not what you want to hear today (I can picture you rolling your eyes at this very moment), but it’s true.

Lucy 12th Birthday

I love you, my sweet Lulu. Thank you, as always, for making me a mom and for teaching me every day. Parenting isn’t an easy gig, but having you as my firstborn has been a gift. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.



Women's March 2018

What’s Your Superpower? Women’s March 2018

One year ago I hopped on a giant bus full of strangers and drove to Washington DC to participate in the Women’s March on Washington…it was an incredible experience that I will never, ever forget. I am so glad I was able to be there and it was incredibly cathartic to be around so many women (and a few men) who cared about many of the same things I did. In 2017, I’m grateful I was able to do more than just march (more on that here and here and here), but I was still excited when I heard there were going to be a few local opportunities to march again in 2018. And this time, I got to bring my 11-year-old daughter with me.

Women's March 2018

One of the new struggles I’ve had in the past year is balancing being an activist and a mother…on one hand, I’ve had to be away from my kids more than before while working on issues, attending meetings or summits and participating in the political process. But on the other hand, I think it’s incredibly important for our kids to see us being active and fighting for what we believe is right…especially our daughters.

Women's March 2018

I want my daughter to grow up not only being told she “can do anything,” but surrounded by women who are really doing it. I want her to look at the people I surround myself with and learn how to surround herself with good people too. People who don’t only care about themselves, but will give up hours, days and weeks to help others. So I was extremely grateful to be able to travel to the nearby Women’s March in Lawrence, Kansas with my cohorts from Education First Shawnee Mission and their kids.

Women's March 2018

We listened to speakers from many different groups, from leaders at Haskell Indian Nations University to the local leader of the NAACP and many, many more. Then we marched down Massachusetts Street chanting “Show me what democracy looks like…THIS is what democracy looks like!” The significance of this moment was not lost on me as we marched down a street that held good and horrible memories for me as a female college student (Mass Street is where many of the local bars are located, and I was assaulted and harassed there by drunk college men on more than one occasion). I was surrounded by strong, smart women (and some men!) who were there to support each other.

Women's March 2018

My favorite part of the day was watching my daughter and another Education First Shawnee Mission mom’s daughter starting chants and their excitement when the chants caught on with the crowd. Their faces would light up and they would hi-five each other. “We did it!”

Yes, girls. You certainly did.

Women's March 2018

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

A (Sort of) Harry Potter Halloween 2016!

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016 is in the books, and even though it wasn’t as epic as last year, it was still a pretty fun night full of candy, fun, candy, friends…and candy! Last year Halloween was on a Saturday, our street had a block party AND our Kansas City Royals were in the playoffs, so everyone had TV screens out in front of their homes watching the game and cheering while the kids went door-to-door. We stayed up late and got to sleep in the next morning, which helped a bit with the inevitable sugar crash. Also, since the big day was on a Saturday, school parties were held earlier in the week, which helped the whole day to be less overwhelming.

Halloween 2016

This year was definitely much more mellow, since it was a Monday night, but the kids are still calling it “the best Halloween ever” so I think that counts as a success. Now, the sugar crash and having to wake them up for school this morning was decidedly less fun than last year. I feel like I need to send all the teachers a spa gift certificate for what they must’ve gone through today!

Ron Weasley Halloween 2016

Last year we did a pretty awesome family costume, and the plan was to do a Harry Potter theme this year. However, we ran into a snag when Lucy decided she couldn’t be her favorite character (Ginny Weasley) because in the end (spoiler alert for all you weirdos that haven’t read Harry Potter yet!) Ginny marries Harry…and if Tate was going to be Harry, Lucy just COULDN’T be Ginny! Gross! But we thought it would be a bit weird if we went as Harry Potter characters without Harry Potter…so Lucy decided to skip out on the family costume and instead dress up as a “cat person” which is something she made up. Apparently it’s half person, half cat, and she explained this to every adult who dared to say, “Aw, and you’re a kitty this Halloween!” No, she is a CAT PERSON. Totally different.

Cat Person Halloween 2016

Trent dressed up as Luigi from Mario Brothers for his work Halloween, which of course meant he had to shave his beard into an insane mustache. It was hilarious, but when he left the mustache for his evening costume change, he ended up looking like the creepiest Ron Weasley I’d even seen! The photo of the three of us cracks me up, because I think this is exactly how Hermione would feel about Ron with an insane mustache.

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Now, if you need me, I’ll be off stealing mini Twix bars from my kids’ candy stash! Happy Halloween!

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