Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Parenting Book…written by Kids!

Please welcome our friend, Vanessa Van Petten, creator of and author of the parenting book, “Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?” (,  as our guest blogger today. Here at Macaroni and Chicken Fingers, we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her website and can’t wait for her book to come out!!!

When I was 16 I thought it was my Dad’s goal in life to make me miserable. I was convinced that he had a running list of all the ways he could embarrass me in front of my friends, trick me into doing more chores or make my curfew earlier.

Our relationship would have continued to devolve until one day I saw my Dad reading a parenting book. I flipped through it while my Dad was in the bathroom and realized a lot of the things he did that drove me crazy he was getting right out of this book! I looked at the other parenting books on our shelves and realized that they were all written by adults. I wondered—has anyone ever asked teens to write to their parents?

I decided to build a website where teens could answer questions and write to parents called I couldn’t believe how quickly it grew and how happy both teens were to get their voices out and parents were to have a new outlet for connecting with their kids! We now have over 120 teen writers who give advice.

Teenagers, when given a neutral space LOVE talking to parents and often offer some of the best insight because they are going through it themselves. We have also been so excited to help parents who feel like they cannot reach their kids and teens.

I think teens and parents can work together to overcome their differences and learn to work best together. We have just come out with our book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded and it is a radical approach to parenting because it is written from the kid’s perspective! We would love for you to check it out—if you are brave enough to see what kids have to say!

What is this book about?get my allowance cover

So, you have to forget the old parenting book approach - this book gives parents a totally new way to reach their teenagers because it's the only book that tweens and teens helped write - so we are hearing first-hand advice that actually works! It gets right to the heart of the problems and offers straightforward prescriptive - and effective advice. This is a very different approach to parenting that tackles these modern problems.

What makes this book different?

Before now there has only been resources written from one side of the family equation....the adults. This is the first book that gets both sides talking. What's more, the book goes a step further by using techniques that human lie-detectors use: What does a teenager's face look like when they are lying? What questions do parents need to ask to get the truth?

You are not a parent, what experience helps you write this book?
Actually me not being a parent is what makes teenagers feel comfortable opening up to me about what they really need from their parents. It allows me to be a translator for what parents need, what teens need and then bringing the two together so they can be on the same side.
You are not a doctor, what experience helps you write this book?

There are already amazing resources out there from doctors and psychologists, we take a very different approach to parenting. We believe that for most families there are really simple miscommunications happening that we just need to decode. With this book, I teach parents what kids really mean when they say, "I don't care" or "Can I have a later curfew." This is advice from teens in the trenches of family life.

Here is what Publisher’s Weekly had to say:

“Van Petten, founder of the popular Web site, offers parents a candid view of the contemporary teen’s world in this eye-opening text. Van Petten uses actual stories about teens and their often anxious, angry, or befuddled parents to introduce each chapter. Pointing out that she is neither a parent nor a teen (nor a doctor, therapist, or counselor), the college-grad author has nevertheless earnestly investigated her subject and includes current research on teens as well as hundreds of “real quotes, interviews, e-mails and advice from actual teens.” Van Petten explores a variety of timely subjects, including peer relationships, teen/parent communication, bullying, technology, and “risky business” (smoking, drinking, sex, and more). Her outlook on technology and “Internet savvy” is particularly incisive, emphasizing not only the hazards of “time-suck” activities (i.e., Facebook, chatting on IM, and texting) but also the many social and academic benefits of the digital universe. Like a crafty spy, Van Petten comfortably segues from parent to teen perspective, and while noting that each adolescent is unique, she skillfully opens doors to the collective teen psyche. “

Publishers Weekly

Vanessa Van Petten is one of the nation's youngest experts, or 'youthologists' on parenting and adolescents. She now runs her popular parenting website,, which she writes with 120 other teenage writers to answer questions from parents and adults. Her approach has been featured by CNN, Fox News, and Wall Street Journal. She was also on the Real Housewives of Orange County helping the housewives with troubled teens. Her next book, "Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I'm Grounded?" is being released in September 2011 with Plume Books of Penguin USA.



By the way, you can also find her on Facebook at

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Madness Which Is Monday

It's Monday (no kidding). So let me just start first with the apologies. Might as well get them out of the way and move on to new things, right?

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAREN!!!!!!!! She won't let me bring her birthday cake (see her last post) and it took me until 8:30 pm to call her (a disagreement with a family member threw me ALL kinds of off course yesterday) and she has a terrible cold. How awful to be sick on your birthday. This simply means whatever we do to celebrate it needs to be enough fun to make up for it. K- I hope you are feeling better and I love you tremendously!

OH!! SIDENOTE (of which I will blog about in the coming days...) My brother in law is brilliant and Karmel Publishing does not owe any tax penalties!!!!! I think that's good for a group happy dance? What say you?? Every one take five, get up and shake it!

Second, I'm sorry I didn't post a Friday Funny. Or a Saturday Sass. Not even a Sunday Song! Good night, what's wrong with me? It was a busy weekend, to be certain. Friday night and Saturday at the lake. Sunday morning- a long run (I'm in training for a marathon). Then church. Then house chores and finally dinner with my parents. Throw in quality time with The Hubs and kids and call it good.

And now we are back to Monday. I have already taken care of Lola, had quiet time, made breakfast, and the bed, gotten my children and the neighbor children off to school, called my insurance man, stopped at the pet store (training classes and a new collar), got a second breakfast (this training is wreaking havoc on my blood sugar!) stopped at the fruit stand, got a coffee and now I sit blogging to you about absolutely nothing and everything! In a few moments I will be off to meld the minds of future musicians. And clearly, most in this new batch are going to need an extra dose of reality with a splash of motivation in there. Maybe it's time for the "We are now on University Level, people" talk. What do you think? Is Week Two too early for that?

And what of your Monday? Anything like mine? Would love to hear what yours is turning out to be. I hate to be so one sided, you know. Do use the comment and let me know about your OWN Monday Madness. Hearing about others keeps me a.) humble and b.) thankful. So let it rip. I'm listening.

Yours, wishing you a happy and productive week,


Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Many of you have followed my weight loss over the past few years, so you know it’s been a struggle for me. Well, the struggle doesn’t end when the magic number appears on the scale for the first time, you know! The second part of the fight is just beginning then. The past year, I’ve been maintaining, and I’ve been pretty successful at it. Until summer hit!

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve gained all 50 pounds back! Not even close!!! Just a few. And I’m not all freaked out about it. Yet. But I know that if I’m not scalediligent, those few pounds can turn into 5 pounds, then 10, then more. So yes, I’m a little bit concerned.

Don’t forget, I’m somebody who has struggled with my weight my ENTIRE life. So indulge me here!

Now, I’m not going to turn into one of those neurotic, skinny girls who squeals “Oooooh, I’m soooo fat!!!!!” and makes a complete fool out of herself when she gains 1/2 pound. (Tee hee! Me, a skinny girl! Who would’ve thunk?!!!) BUT, since I’ve gained 3 pounds in 3 months (which, if you’re any good at math, that translates to 12 pounds a year, right?), I need to get my butt back to the gym and start counting those Weight Watchers points again!

So it’s time to buck up and get motivated. Goodbye chocolate and ice cream! Hello fiber!



Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Madness!

Every once in a while, I get this twinge. It doesn't happen often, because, well, I'm usually too busy to notice the twinge. But some days, it hits me out of the blue. SMACK! And then the twinge because a sigh. And the sigh becomes an,"I wonder if I...." I can usually fight the twinge. You know, that one that says,"Oh... are you sure? I mean REALLY sure that was right? You've got some time that you could change that, you know...."

It usually happens when I see someone with a newborn. Ah... newborn... that time when they are just SO stinking sweet. Everything about them (with the exception of waking up every two hours) is sweet. And even the waking up- you don't mind it so much because you are so in love with the baby. The baby hasn't said NO! or hit you, or thrown a tantrum in public, or had an absolute meltdown standoff of the wills with you yet. They just snuggle, and cuddle and burp their little burps and let you dress them however YOU want to and it's all Pooh and Piglet and heaven.

But you know, sometimes God has to remind you of how good you have it at the present and how far you've come. I mean, my kids can dress and feed themselves, do their own homework, make their own beads and do half the cleaning too! But still, there's that twinge. And then came this weekend. This weekend, within the space of 14 hours, (and only 7 of them did I get to sleep!) I dealt with the big four-

1. Vomit
2. Poo
3. Pee
4. Head Lice

Number 1- came from a certain Z Child eating too much licorice and then me taking the back roads home. I'm simply thankful said Z Child got most of it on the driveway and not in the car. (Only a tad on the door and none in the carpet. Alleluia.)

Number 2- (HA! No pun intended) Lola. In the studio. Such a voraciously smelly amount that you would swear she had not gone for a week! Then I went upstairs and found....

Number 3- Apparently another Z Child was walking in their sleep that night and thought the trash can was the toilet and well, that trash can leaked all over the floor. Poo I can handle because you clean it up and the smell goes away. Pee, on the other hand, has that stupid ghost smell that no matter HOW many times you wipe the entire bathroom down in bleach, it's there. ARGH.

Number 4-Poor Z Child. Discovered while trying to get a hair cut. This happened after #1 and before #2. We came home, cancelled EVERYTHING and started cleaning and fumigating like Merry Maids. (But I don't know that I was so Merry. And I'm not a maid, clearly, but I've been wearing an apron and gloves all weekend!)

So within that space of 14 hours, I have come to the conclusion that TWO is a very, very good number in the B House. And I love the stages both Z Kids are at (except when a certain Z Child is trying to impose tyranny, but that is another post all together). I love the way God can arrange things to remind you of how good you have it. Right now. I'm thankful. And I'm goin' with it!

Yours, happy THAT'S over!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Funny... In which The Hubs tries to convince me...

For those of you have been reading here for a while, you know that my full time occupation (beyond wife and mother- and let's face it, those are full time too!) is a musician/educator. God, in His infinite humor, paired me (a melancholy creative) with a very logical, left-brained, athletic organized man.

Yes, it's okay to laugh at that. I laugh at it daily.

The Hubs is the IT Manager for a larger sports supply company. That in itself is a hilarious twist of fate as neither of us are campers or hunters. We play golf. Seriously.... could you see me taking aim at a moose? Who would win THAT? My money's on the moose! (Sidenote: The Hubs is getting talked into being a den dad for the Boy Scouts this year. It's about to get interesting at the B House!)

Back to the subject at hand... He's been gearing up for today for weeks now. Today they take inventory. And after inventory, he will spend the weekend supervising the installation of the new software system. He's been trying to talk me into being there and helping out.

ROFLMBO! Seriously. Have you ever seen me work with a computer? That could be an entire sitcom series. It's just not pretty.

After one impassioned plea yesterday, I calmly replied,"My dear, you will be counting over 60,000 bins of product. You won't even let me balance the checkbook because I forget to carry the "one" occasionally and it throws everything off. Might I remind you: I am a musician. We count to 13 because that's all the notes we have. Thirteen is as high as I go."

Poetic justice, I would say, for all the times he's reminded me about how bad I am at the checkbook.

Yours, grateful on an entirely different level to be a musician today,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Yep, today is the first day of school for my boys and Melissa’s kids! All I can say is YIPPEE!!!

I love the lazy days of summer and spending time with the boys, but I really, really miss my “ME” time. And I don’t mean an hour when I “get” to go to the grocery store all by myself (although that is nice!).

So what am I doing today? First I went to Melissa’s house where we did our little Happy Dance and sat on her deck to relax and catch up on the past month (between visiting relatives and vacations and getting ready for school, we haven’t seen each other much, and that’s not good for us!). Then I worked out for a short while at the gym, picked up lunch at Chipotle, ate ALL BY MYSELF and watched a movie THAT I WANTED TO WATCH. After I finish writing this blog post, I’m going to go out back to the pool and read my book without being splashed or having to break up fights or hearing “Mom, look at this!”

Aaaah, heaven!!!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Madness... Truly, it is!

T minus 40 and 3/4 hours and counting!

School starts on Wednesday morning. I know you've heard me say this before a LOT of posts...
I DO love my children, I really do. With all my lifeblood. With every ounce and fiber of my being.But the time has come.

I've never understood these women who say that being with their children 24/7 is absolutely glorious and wonderful and they would not trade ONE.SINGLE.MINUTE of it for anything.
Honestly? Are they just absolutely CRACKED? Did I miss something while I was standing in the motherhood line? Because I can think of quite a few minutes.

Like the ones that make me pull over to the side of the road, put the car in park, turn off the engine, pull out a magazine and say,"When you all can get it together back there and stop your foolishness, I will turn the car back on and we will go."

Or the ones where you know your child is coming 5 blocks away because they are THAT loud.

Or when they have a total meltdown in public because you won't give them what they want.

Or when they tell your business to the entire PTO (PTA).

Yes, there are many, many minutes I would NOT trade, but at this point in summer vacation, I'm ready for a little quiet. Can I get a witness out there?????

Yours, warming up my version of The Hallelujah Chorus for Wednesday morning,


Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Madness...

Nope. No madness here today. Just the sound of the waves. So in light of that, Karen and I will be taking a break for the next two weeks. We may return early, but honestly, I KNOW what we are like after vacation. HA!

Hope you are having a fabulous few weeks. Looking forward to writing for you when we return!

Yours, enjoying every well-earned moment of the ocean,