Archive of ‘Sentiments’ category

Support Education: Box Tops


This is a sponsored post (but I believe in the mission and participate in the program!)

It began in California in 1996.

General Mills wanted to create a program to help support education and benefit America’s schools- so, Box Tops for Education was born. Two years after it started, over 30,000 schools were clipping Box Tops and earning cash to buy the items they needed: playground equipment, books, computers, and more.

Over the next four years, the Box Tops for Education program doubled to include popular brands like Pillsbury, Old El Paso, and Green Giant. By 2004, over 82,000 schools across the nation participated in Box Tops, earning more than $100 million toward education.

TODAY, America’s schools have earned over $719 million, and you can find Box Tops on hundreds of products throughout the grocery store.

Typically, each Box Top clip is worth 10 cents for your school. However, by purchasing three specially-marked General Mills Box Tops items at Sam’s Club, you can earn your school an additional 100 eBox Tops.

How, you ask?


Purchase three General Mills Box Top products and enter your receipt on to earn 100 eBoxTops.

You can also purchase 6 General Mills Box Tops products and earn 200 eBoxTops, 9 products to earn 300 eBoxTops, and 12 products to earn 400 eBoxTops.

What. A. Deal.

Redeeming your box tops through Sam’s Club is super easy and you can do it here. You must purchase the products between 8/16/16 and 11/16/16. Email your receipt to Once validated, come back to to enter eBoxTops code and assign to your school.

I’ve been a member of Sam’s Club for roughly a decade. The samples reeled me in, but the bargains kept me. I’m so glad I can get a good deal on items for my family while helping to give back to the community.

Cheers to that!




Look for box tops like THESE.


    Paybacks: It’s Not Worth It


    They say paybacks are hell. But who are they hell for?

    Last week I was in a car accident while I was driving with my 4-year-old daughter.

    Her school has chapel services that begin at 8:15. I don’t ordinarily get to take my daughter to school because of work commitments, and so being able to attend chapel with her is extra special.

    Many of the parents attend with their children, and I’m hypersensitive about being an “absentee mom” who is always at the office.

    I don’t want to fast-forward twenty years and hear my kids are sitting on a shrink’s couch humming Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle.”


    As I was at a stop light waiting to turn left once it changed from red to green, I felt another car slam into my bumper and heard a corresponding crash. I looked at my daughter, who was safely in her car seat, and made sure she was ok.

    I looked into the rearview mirror and saw a series of cars behind me, also waiting to turn left at the light. I assumed it was a multi-car collision, with the person in the very back at fault.

    Once the light changed, I stopped at the first available street and got out of the vehicle, preparing myself for the potential damage.

    The right part of my bumper was dragging on the ground.

    Great! One more car accident.

    I’m like a magnet for other people hitting me.

    And let’s be honest, I’ve had my share of mishaps as well.

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    This is why I drive an old Volvo SUV. Because I can’t have nice things.

    Oh, and because it’s paid off.

    Another driver pulled up behind me, a middle-aged white man in an Acura sedan. The front of his car didn’t have nearly the amount of damage as the rear of mine. I glanced in his car, and it appeared he was alone.

    He got out of his vehicle looking worried.

    The following exchange is crystal clear in my mind.

    What happened? I asked. Did you hit me, or did you get pushed into me by another driver?

    It’s all my fault, I wasn’t paying attention, didn’t stop on time, and just rolled into your vehicle. Nobody hit me. 


    I called 911, reported the accident, and asked for an officer to come to the scene and write a police report.

    As I checked on my daughter, who was still in the back seat, she became hysterical.

    Please don’t wait for the police man, we’ll be late for chapel (!!!)

    Her eyes were sad and desperate.

    She was right.

    It was 7:40 and if we waited for an officer to arrive, conduct an investigation, and prepare a report, we’d be late.

    She doesn’t do well when she’s late and out of her routine.

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    Please don’t wait for a police officer to arrive, he said.

    I’m a driver for UPS and if they find out about this, it will put my contract at risk because I’ll have an accident on my record. I’ve been insured with State Farm for 23 years and will pay for all your damage. It was my fault. Take a picture of my driver’s license and insurance card, and let’s exchange phone numbers in case we need it.

    Like my daughter, the man was desperate for me to not make a police report.

    He was just shy of begging.

    I looked at him and judged him.

    Seemed like a nice enough guy. Appeared “normal” (read: not a derelict or a drug addict).  Was being honest about his mistake and since nobody was hurt and the property damage was minimal, getting everything paid for shouldn’t be an issue.

    I gave him my number, he called me, and I saw his number appear on my phone’s caller ID. He took a picture of my driver’s license.

    I photographed his driver’s license and insurance card and was on my way.

    I called 911 and canceled my request for a police officer.

    We got to my daughter’s school in time for chapel.


    When I arrived at work, I called State Farm and reported the loss using the information contained on the man’s insurance card. The agent said someone would be in touch with me after they contacted their insured and verified he was at fault for the crash.

    No problem.

    Later that evening after we put the kids to sleep, I returned a call from State Farm.

    The insurance agent advised liability was being contested because the man who hit me was claiming the crash occurred because another vehicle struck him from behind and fled the scene.

    Well, that’s a complete lie, but what does this mean for me? I asked.

    We’re going to go to his house and check out his bumper. If there’s damage that jives with his story, then we’ll treat this as a hit-and-run and will not be paying for your property damage  or any injuries, if you have any.

    Vengeance and paybacks aren't worth the trouble | The Champagne Supernova

    My initial reaction to being told the guy who hit my car was blaming it on someone else and his insurance company may not pay for my damage.

    I couldn’t believe it.

    I did this guy a favor and he turned around and tried to screw me.

    And I didn’t throw out my “I’m a lawyer” card at the time of the crash (because I’m not a dweeb) but what an idiot!

    No good deed goes unpunished. 

    Of course, I advised the insurance adjuster that the guy was lying.

    If he was hit from behind, why didn’t he call 911? Why did he specifically deny getting hit from behind? What if he had pre-existing damage to his bumper that he’s trying to pin on our accident?

    The adjuster couldn’t have cared less. When liability is contested and there are no witnesses (except my four-year-old daughter), they have to side with their insured.

    Blah, blah, blah.

    They would investigate and get back with me in 2-3 days.

    I then realized I had this guy’s phone number from when he called me after the accident.

    So I called him.

    And, again, he was dumb enough to answer.

    Then my irrational alter-ego, “Jenny from the Block” took over, and he got an earful.

    Said if he continued these shenanigans, I would report him for fraud to the department of insurance. Make a complaint to the State Attorney’s Office. Call UPS, report the accident, and advise if they kept him on board as a driver, they’d face potential issues for negligent retention if he was involved in another accident. And worse, if State Farm didn’t pay for my damage because of his lies, he would be seeing me in small claims court.  I would blast my picture of his driver’s license and insurance card all over my the blogosphere.

    He. Didn’t. Know. Who. He. Was. Messing. With.


    I then called the police, called my own car insurance company, and lost sleep over it.

    Those are 12 hours I’ll never get back.

    Long story short, State Farm conducted an investigation and accepted liability for the crash. My car’s in the process of being fixed on their dime.

    I was subsequently on the phone with my mother venting about this hassle and how I couldn’t believe this guy was dirtbag enough to throw me under the bus after I did him a favor.

    Some nerve.

    Then, my mom said something wise, mature, and true.

    You could report him to his employer and do all these things to “get back and him,” but is it really worth all the trouble? He has all your contact information and knows where you live, what if he does something crazy? Sometimes, it’s just not worth it. 

    She’s right.

    (Yes, mom, I am publicly admitting you’re right. I need to write a blog post about all the things in my life my parents were right about that I didn’t believe at the time due to my lack of experience and maturity.)

    I’m still immature and part of me feels defeated for letting him off the hook so easily without any ramifications (that I’m aware of.)

    There’s a fine line between being a doormat and setting boundaries, and I felt (feel) like a wimp.

    But the reality is I’ll never see him again and his insurance company is paying for my damage, so going out of my way to make this dude’s life a nightmare will only waste my own time.

    Karma will catch up with him.

    There are times in life where seeking vengeance on someone is truly worth it. To me, this was not that time.

    And I hate that my mother was right. Just a little.

    Cheers to moving on.

      Miss Understood: How Assumptions can Ruin Relationships

      How making assumptions can ruin great relationships | The Champagne Supernova

      As an attorney, my career is devoted to collecting information, assessing the information, and reporting the information to my clients.

      I try to predict how a jury will react to the information and whether they will find a plaintiff, his or her medical providers, and witnesses to be credible. (After all, just because I perceive the “star witness” to be a lying schmuck doesn’t mean a jury will see him that way.)

      The devil’s in the details, and I try to turn over every rock so I don’t miss something important. The minutiae that accompany “lawyering” can be daunting, and I wrote an entire blog post about it here.

      You would think I’d adopt this “information collecting” to my personal life.





      I’ve done it all.

      Take my husband, for instance. Last week, I got mad at him because of something I assumed without first bothering to collect all the information.

      I came home from work on a Friday and was waiting for the babysitter to arrive so we could have a “date night” at an event that was on our calendar for months. Per our plan, which we specifically discussed, the sitter would arrive at 6, and we would be out the door by 7.

      When I got home at 5:30, my 4-year-old had her towel and bathing suit in hand, and was adamant that she wanted to meet her friend, Katie, at the local swimming pool.

      Do you mind if I take Arden to the pool to meet Katie?  My husband asked.

      I could feel my temperature begin to rise and my eyes were probably bloodshot.

      I was trying not to lose my cool in front of the kids. I was trying not to disappoint Arden, who clearly had her heart set on meeting Katie at the pool. I didn’t want to break it to her that she’d have to stay home with a babysitter instead.

      So now I was the “bad guy,” especially because my husband was seemingly asking for my permission, and I’d have to be the one to say no.

      After all, it would be impossible for him to drive her all the way to the pool and be home on time for us to get to the event by 7, as we planned.

      As we specifically discussed.

      More than once! 

      My mind was racing.

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      Why would he offer to take her to the pool when he knew we had to leave our house by 7?

      Why would he call Katie’s dad to make plans?

      This whole thing was his stupid idea. It definitely was! 

      Why, why, why?

      I was livid.

      When we were alone in the kitchen, I gave my husband an awful look.

      It was an accident, he explained. Katie’s dad called me when I was in the car with Arden. He didn’t know the speakerphone was on and invited us to meet them at the pool. Arden heard it and got excited and has been begging to go ever since. I haven’t been able to diffuse it.

      I wanted to crawl under the counter and hide.

      I felt bad.

      I got unnecessarily worked up because I created a story in my mind without having all the facts.

      I owed him an apology.

      Let me tell you. This anecdote was tame. I’ve made worse assumptions in other facets of my life.

      Then, I started thinking.

      How many good relationships have we ruined, or opportunities have we missed because we didn’t have all the information?

      How many times have we been annoyed with one of our friends or colleagues because we created a tale in our minds about something that never even happened, but convinced ourselves it was true?

      How many times have you confronted someone about something (or were passively displeased with them) because you didn’t have all the facts? Or you had some “facts,” but those facts were wrong and incomplete?

      How many times have we judged someone without knowing them, all because of something unsavory another person said that we assumed was true?

      How many times have we heard of friends or, worse, family members go years without speaking because of misunderstandings and false assumptions?

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      How many times have we gotten a “weird vibe” from someone and assumed they didn’t like us when, likely, they were just shy or introverted and it’s not personal?

      It’s so easy to think we know what’s happening inside someone else’s head.

      I’ve learned lot of headaches and relationships can be saved by collecting all the facts.

      In his popular book, The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz points out:

      “If others tell us something, we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something, we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something that we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”

      Ruiz goes onto state that of the four agreements, this one is the most life transforming.

      I can see that.

      I’ve painted pictures in my head because I didn’t want to ask questions and appear confrontational, and because I thought there was only one plausable explanation for why something happened, which only caused stress and hurt feelings.

      I’ve believed my own assumptions too dang many times.

      What a waste of energy.

      From this point forward, I’m going to adopt my work persona as being a “social sleuth” into my personal life. I’m not going to allow my incorrect perceptions to victimize me.

      Today is the last day.


        Election Season: I Don’t Care About Your Politics


        Ahhh… politics and election season.

        It’s a time you’re reminded that your “friends” think you’re an idiot because you can’t see how wrong your political ideologies are and how much of a lying, phony, nincompoop the person you’re voting for is.

        A time that people use the internet as a means of polarizing one another and promoting their own political agendas.

        It’s a time people share “news” stories in an effort to demonstrate their “side” is correct, and this is why you should agree with them and “see the light,” dagnabit.


        Raise your hand if your opinion about something important has ever been swayed by a social media status update or an adversarial conversation with someone who vehemently disagrees with you.

        (My hand is down.)

        What people ignore is that divisive comments carry an implication that someone isn’t “smart enough” to know what the issues are, understand the issues, and make an informed decision.

        I’ve been down the rabbit hole in the past. I’ve participated in dead-end conversations like these.

        It doesn’t feel good.

        When I was in law school (what seems like many moons ago), I was standing in a group having a conversation with a classmate who was a bleeding-heart (political party, which I won’t name, because that could make people miss the point). She clearly had different political philosophies than the rest of the people in the group and, in an ill-fated attempt to suggest that her views were right, and everyone else’s were wrong, she declared:

        My parents are highly educated, and they are huge financial supporters of (politician) and (politician’s) charity organization.


        So you’re assuming nobody else’s parents are “highly educated?” What if some of our parents couldn’t afford a formal education, but remain informed? Do their views not count?

        She’s a nice girl, and I haven’t seen her in nearly a decade but, when I think of her, I’ll always remember that ridiculous comment.

        I think most people are “smart enough.”

        Smart enough to know someone’s support for Donald Trump doesn’t make them a bigot, their support for Hillary Clinton doesn’t make them a freeloader, their support for Bernie Sanders doesn’t make them a communist, and their support for Ted Cruz doesn’t make them an ignorant Bible-thumper.

        It’s more complicated than that.

        Smart enough to know another person’s pro-choice stance doesn’t make them a murderer and their support for life doesn’t mean they think women shouldn’t be able to choose.

        It’s far more complex than that.

        Smart enough to know a person’s opinion that “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean they think police shootings are justified, or that disagreeing with Caitlyn Jenner’s lifestyle doesn’t mean they hate her.

        There’s more to it.

        Most people are smart enough to question what the media tells them; therefore, they do their own independent research before making (and voicing) an opinion.

        Smart enough to know that while they might be a Christian, their religious beliefs could have been different if they were born to some other family in India, Indonesia, Israel, or Iran.

        And here’s the thing.

        I don’t care about your politics. 

        Unless I explicitly ask, I don’t care what you think about gun control, immigration, same-sex marriage, Planned Parenthood, global warming, affirmative action, ISIS, euthanasia, estate taxes, legalizing marijuana, Obamacare, waterboarding, or the death penalty.

        I just don’t care.

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        I also don’t care who you’re voting for, why you’re voting for that person, and why you think supporters of another candidate are imbeciles.

        Here’s what I care about:

        Whether you’re a good person. Whether we have a good time when we’re together. Whether you’re loyal and sincere. Whether you confidently live by your own rules instead of hustling for the approval of others. Whether you work hard. Whether you are kind and humble.

        Whether you are respectful of others’ opinions and ideologies, even when they aren’t the same opinions and ideologies as your own.

        I care about whether you have a sense of humor and aren’t preoccupied with keeping up appearances. Whether you’re proud to be an American and grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given, even when there is room for improvement.

        I care about whether you’re not afraid to admit you’re not completely passionate about your job, or that you need a glass of wine because your kids have you “on edge.” Whether you’re willing to acknowledge things aren’t perfect all the time. I care about whether you’re dependable and are supportive during the bad times as much as you are during the good times.

        Those are the things I care about.

        I don’t care about your politics.



          Baby Bellies: Don’t Ask if She’s Pregnant

          How do you know when it's okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant |The Champagne Supernova

          Rule of thumb. Or bump.

          Two years ago, I did something evil.

          It wasn’t planned and, for all my lawyer colleagues, there was no malice aforethought.

          It happened one week after I delivered my second daughter.

          Overcome with a cornucopia of dreadful emotions, my husband convinced me to get out of the house and treat myself to a good old fashioned mani-pedi.


          So I got into my mom-mobile and skedaddled to the nearest “spa,” one of those stereotypical Asian nail salons wedged between a dry cleaning place and Mediterranean cafe in a strip mall.

          I’d been there a couple times before, but stopped going because, despite there being multiple female technicians, I always got stuck with the older man who never stopped talking.

          Don’t get me wrong.

          I love chatting.

          But when I’m trying to “relax,” I certainly don’t want to make small talk about the weather, my summer plans, or if I’ve been to any good restaurants lately.

          I just don’t.

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          It’s substantially more annoying when the talkative person doesn’t speak comprehensible English and I’m left racking my brain trying to figure out what he or she is saying.


          For the sake of saving time because this salon was the closest one to my house, I went there and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t get stuck with Jabbery Joe.

          I got Jabbery Joe.

          (Of course I did!)

          While he was giving me my manicure, he asked if I had kids.

          “Yes. I have two daughters, ages 1 and 3.”

          As I didn’t want to open up the floodgates to any additional questions, I omitted that I had a newborn baby back at the house, and felt my white lie was justified.


          Then, he moved me into the pedicure chair. As he glanced up at me while painting my toenails (this was after he went all crazy with the “cheese grater”), he took one look at my post-baby gut, which was in all its glory, and loudly said:

          “Ohhhhhh, you pregnant! How far ‘long?”

          I took one look at Jabbery Joe and glared.

          With eyes redder than the “Thrill of Brazil” polish he was using, I sinisterly replied: “I’m not pregnant.”

          Befuddled, he looked at me with the fear of God, seemed like he was going to vomit, and the only “save” he could muster up was:

          “Second baby bigga. Second baby bigga.”

          I guess this meant the woman is bigger after delivering her second child which, in his mind, happened last year.

          As if that was supposed to make me feel better.

          Jabbery Joe didn’t say another peep until he thanked me as I was leaving.

          Good, I thought to myself, serves him right for asking such a dumb question. 

          When I returned home and told my husband the story, he said I was being mean and should have explained that I had week-old infant at home and, to avoid further questions, been honest about wanting to decompress and not talk anymore.

          He’s right.

          He’s definitely right.

          Jabbery Joe was just being kind and showing an interest. Good customer service. And there I was, being grouchy and wallowing in my hormonal sorrows.

          Fast forward to last weekend.

          Over two years later.

          I went back to this salon and, as luck would have it, got stuck with Jabbery Joe.

          The first thing he asked me was how the girls were doing and then reminded me it had been years since I was there, “when my girls were 1 and 3.”

          He remembered. 

          He probably went home that night and got berated by his wife after he confessed to asking a non-pregnant woman how far along she was. And she likely schooled him that, unless someone is in active labor or there isn’t a shred of a question that she’s pregnant, you never ask a woman if she’s “with child.”


          When it's ok to ask a woman if she's pregnant | The Champagne Supernova

          Me, four months into my first pregnancy. This is how I look now when I eat a couple tacos.

          I debated whether to create any lists on pregnancy political correctness since I am the least P.C. person on the planet, but while our society is so stuck on “not-doing-this” and “stop-saying-that” to avoid offending someone, what’s one more?

          So here, my friends, is when it’s ok to ask a woman who is a complete stranger to you if she’s pregnant:

          When you see a human being physically emerging from her vagina. 

          This is why.

          A woman who appears to be pregnant could just be wearing a flowy dress. She could simply be overweight. She could have a tumor in her stomach. She could have just gone crazy at a Chinese super buffet. (M.S.G. is good!) She could have a thyroid condition. Or how about this… she could have recently had a baby, and asking her if she’s pregnant is digging the proverbial nail deeper.

          Do you really want to set yourself up for an awkward moment?

          And that post-baby gut… It’s normal.

          According to WebMd, it takes between 6 and 8 weeks after delivery for a woman’s uterus to return to its prepregnancy size.

          So if you have the gut… congratulations, you’re normal. If you don’t have the gut, Bless Your Heart.

          Me and The Mister when I was 9 months pregnant with my second daughter. I never got offended when people asked me if I was pregnant but really, don't ask. For the love!

          Me and The Mister when I was 9 months pregnant with my second daughter. I never got offended when people asked me if I was pregnant but really, for the love, just don’t ask.

          Cheers to minding your own bees-wax!

            Parenting in the Trenches: They’ll be Older Tomorrow

            My girls at ages 1 and 3. This was taken a year ago, but seems like it was two weeks ago. Photo by Synthia Therese Photography.

            My girls at ages 1 and 3. This was taken a year ago, but seems like it was two weeks ago. Photo by Synthia Therese Photography.

            I remember strangers approaching me when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, placing their hands on my stomach, asking whether I was having a boy or a girl, when I was due, and whether I had chosen a name.

            I received all sorts of parenting advice, most of it unsolicited.

            Which strollers and car seats were the best.

            Breast or bottle.

            Pacifiers or loveys.

            “There’s nothing wrong with letting your child ‘cry it out.'”

            There was one piece of advice I remember most.

            When you’re having a hard time, remember your child will be older tomorrow, so try to cherish it. 

            Man. Those people who said that (there were many) weren’t kidding.

            Looking back, I remember the reality of having a newborn baby set in, and so did those proverbial trenches.

            When you’re in the middle of those awful trenches, you aren’t thinking “this too shall pass.”

            You’re thinking you’re tired.

            That your boobs hurt.

            That you’re sick of not knowing what day it is and that you haven’t washed your matted hair in so long that it’s sticky from all the dry shampoo.

            That your house is a pigsty, but cleaning it feels like being on a hamster wheel.

            That you want to go out in public, but only if you have a personal guarantee from God Himself that you won’t see anyone you know because you look like crap and you might burst into tears if someone asks how you’re doing.

            That you’ll exchange harsh words with the grocery store cashier if she ID’s you in response to the fifteen bottles of wine on the conveyor belt and smirks as she stares at your photo and says, “Is this really you?”

            Yes. The picture was taken right after my honeymoon when I was freshly highlighted, sun tanned, and relaxed, thankyouverymuch. 

            That you’ve been wearing the same outfit for seventy-two hours straight, and it’s stained with formula and tears.

            That you love your baby, you really do, but you wish, for once, she would just stop crying so you could get through one episode of the trashy reality show you’ve been wanting to watch.

            You’re thinking you’d love for your stomach to not look like a deflated balloon and that you’re sick of wearing the oversized mesh underwear they give you at the hospital.

            Let me tell you something.

            When I was home on maternity leave with both girls, the hours seemed like decades. The monotony of folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and vacuuming the floor felt like Groundhog Day. The only reason I looked forward to the weekend was because it meant my husband would be home from work all day, and there’d be an extra set of hands to help around the house.

            I remember people telling me to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”

            Yeah, right.

            It’s like napping on eggshells.

            Now, my girls are two and four and I’ve moved out of those trenches and onto a new, unique set of obstacles. And you know what? There are so many times I was in such a stressed out fog while I was in those trenches that I didn’t stop and appreciate being in the thick of it all.

            Because, unless something crazy and unintentional happens, there will be no more newborns  in my house. And you know what didn’t really matter? That I was tired. Or that my boobs hurt. That I didn’t know what day it was and hadn’t washed my hair in a long time. Or that my house was a pigsty or I might run into somebody I knew if I went out in public. That a cashier thought I looked ugly or, heaven forbid, I was wearing the same outfit several days in a row. Or that someone knew I was having a hard time transitioning to motherhood. That I was tired of hearing my child cry and wanted to indulge in trashy television.

            The kids have gotten older pretty quickly, and they’ll be even older tomorrow. 

            And since I can’t stop time, all I can do is change my perspective, because I know I’ll look back on the trenches and obstacles when my girls are adults and wish I could do it over again. A hundred times.


            I’ll try my best not to rush through dinner and bath time after I’ve arrived home from a crazy day at work because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            I won’t care if getting completely into the water at the local swimming pool means I’ll have to wash and blow-dry my hair the next day because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            I’ll disregard that building sand castles and making mermaids at the beach will result in painstakingly vacuuming the car because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            I’ll try not to stress that fifteen extra minutes splashing around in the tub means a slightly later bedtime because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            That reading one more book or watching ten more minutes of Peppa Pig isn’t the end of the world because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            That unnecessarily spending twenty more minutes at the office finishing something that can be done later because there’s no real deadline isn’t worth missing precious time with the girls at home because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            That declining an after-hours obligation I don’t really want to attend with people I can catch up with another time so I can hang out with my family is still ok because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            I’ll embrace my little ladies screaming songs and laughing in the car at the top of their lungs instead of being annoyed because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            I’ll play sharks, Marco Polo, and underwater handstand Olympics with them in the swimming pool because they’ll be older tomorrow (and, soon enough, likely won’t want to hang out with me anyway.)

            I’ll let them hold my hand and bashfully cling to me when meeting a new friend or going to an unfamiliar place because they’ll be older tomorrow.

            I’ll try to be patient and hold my breath and count to ten when they accidentally knock over the bowl of Fruit Loops because they’ll be older tomorrow.


              Bag Lady or Beach Babe


              My family and I recently went on a week-long beach vacation in Boca Grande, Florida, and I quickly realized my beach-going of yesteryear was long gone. This week’s guest post from my friend, Julie Bedford, hits the proverbial nail on the head regarding the ordeal of taking young kids to the beach. Julie and I were college sorority sisters at the University of Florida and she hails herself as a “Potty Mouth in a Sweater Set” at her hilarious blog, The Bedford Wife. (Really, it’s one of my favorites). Cheers, and thanks, Julie!


              There are many blog posts on what to bring on a family beach trip.

              Posts like “How to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag in under 30 minutes” and “The Ultimate 10-Item Beach Packing List” and “7 Essentials for A Family Day at the Beach.”

              We took our son to the beach the week after Christmas (because it’s 90 degrees in the dead of winter) and I can tell you, all of these articles are…ahem…crap.

              If you are over the age of 18 and/or married with children, then the truth is, you’ll take 27 tote bags of sh&t with you on your next beach trip.

              Gymboree Sale On Now!

              It will not take you 30 minutes to pack.

              It will take you 7 hours, and you will still forget something.

              You will venture to the shore with saddle bags of:

              bathing suits, sandals, hats, protective eyewear, diapers, underwear, change of clothes (or two, or three, or ten) snacks, water, sippy cups, pacifiers, shade screen, stuffed-animal lovey, baby blanket, umbrella, sunscreen, face-sunscreen, snorkel, flippers,
              surfboard, volleyball net, frisbee, asthma puffer and medication refills, baby-sensitive-skin sunscreen, sand toys, seashell-collection-bag, kite, 57 beach towels, sheet, hair tie, baby powder, bug spray, band-aids, tampons, change for the parking meter,
              cash for the snack bar, lawn chairs, cooler, fishing pole, your phone with the fancy new all-weather case, the Nikon…

              My husband parks the car and leads the way to the perfect spot.

              He scouts out this spot like a hound dog on a crime scene.

              No, no… not here.

              Sniff. Sniff.

              Yes, that’s it… 15 more miles in that direction.

              He is a sleuth, and I am his bag lady.

              I am out of breath from carrying so much sh&t across the Sahara desert, and also from being a little fat (it’s the week after Christmas, remember.)

              However, I am wearing a Spanx bathing suit, which is very flattering, thank you very much.

              I am also wearing a tunic, sandals, and large sun hat.

              Suddenly, like a flock of seagulls, a dozen barefoot teenage girls flutter past me.

              I am blinded by their glistening tan skin.

              Do you know what they are carrying?


              They are prancing about without so much as a cover up.

              I take that back, one of them was carrying a radio.

              Because the only thing one really needs at the beach is Nick Jonas.

              (Incidentally, I forgot “music” in my above-mentioned packing list.)

              Why do I have 1,000 things, and they are drip drying half-naked in the warm winter sun?

              Because they aren’t afraid of anything, and I am afraid of everything.

              I am afraid that someone will get hungry, or tired, or melanoma (or bored God forbid) during the 2-4 hours we will actually be at the beach.

              I get so caught up in preparation, I sometimes forget the entire point of going to the beach is to HAVE FUN.

              Oops, mommy forgot to pack a positive attitude!

              When I finally settled into my lawn chair (so comfy, with the cup holder!) and caught my breath, I watched my son fly a kite for the first time.

              I realized, I love my life as a pack mule mom.

              There is nothing like building sandcastles and digging tunnels to China.

              Or collecting sea shells.

              Or eating too much ice cream at the Twistee Treat.

              Which brings me back to that Spanx bathing suit, and the cover up, and that bucket for the shells, and some extra cash….and…

              Ugh, we forgot the shovel!!!!!!!!!!!

                Real Life: 11 Ways Being a Lawyer Makes You Crazy

                How and why being a lawyer makes you go crazy | The Champagne Supernova

                Me and a close friend on law school graduation day in the year 2007 B.N. (Before Neurosis).

                On her first day of law school at Harvard, Professor Stromwell advised Elle Woods and her classmates:

                “A legal education means you will learn to speak a new language. You will be taught to achieve insight into the world around you, and to sharply question what you know.”

                No truer words have been spoken. Before I was an attorney, the world was riddled with rainbows and butterflies. Bad people only lived on Melrose Place and nobody habitually lied or cheated.

                Being a lawyer has opened me up to the world of the worst. It’s also been a giant mind game that’s difficult to shake. Every day is mental chess: staying one step ahead of your opponent so you aren’t caught off guard, upset your boss, or worse, the client.

                After all, you have to pay the mortgage.

                Once you’re a lawyer, being normal and mentally stable is impossible.

                Here are eleven ways being an attorney makes you go irrevocably crazy.

                Pun intended.

                1. Putting Everything in Writing. When you’re a lawyer, you send emails, texts, faxes, and letters confirming everything. A paper trail to a layperson is a documentary ultramarathon to an attorney. There’s no such thing as someone’s word or handshake being “good enough,” because when you’re a lawyer, you know it doesn’t count unless it’s in writing.

                Email to hair stylist you’ve known for 20 years: This is to confirm my cut and blow out for 10 a.m. this Saturday. See you then!

                Fax to your husband at work: Touching base to remind you we have a dinner meeting tonight with the accountant. Almost tax day! (Fax is necessary because there’s a confirmation page.)

                Text to your own mother: See you on Thursday at 7 p.m., thanks for agreeing to watch the kids, I really appreciate it! 

                2. Never Putting Anything Damning in Writing. On the other hand, when you’re a lawyer, you use great care to never put anything in writing that could potentially bite you later.

                For instance, you ignore the sign-up sheets for the end-of-the-year luncheon because you don’t want to formally commit to bringing homemade cupcakes. This is because you know you’ll probably procrastinate and end up frantically calling Domino’s Pizza at the eleventh hour.

                When you’re a lawyer, it blows your mind when someone puts something stupid in writing.

                Also noteworthy: during telephone conversations, you ask whether you’re on speaker phone or if anybody else is in the room. Just to make sure you don’t potentially offend a stranger.

                3. Conversations Become Interrogations. Lawyers know there are multiple parts, and sometimes even sub-parts, to every question. Normal conversations end up becoming depositions.

                The lawyer mindset never “clocks out.”

                Attorney to spouse: You’re going to the store? What time? What are you buying? Which store location are you going to? What road are you taking to get there? Where are you parking? In the shade or in the sun? Remember to use the reflector if you’re parking in the sun so you don’t damage the dashboard. 

                It gets better when you start asking leading questions.

                Isn’t it true you just went to the store yesterday?

                Isn’t it true you ate all the Triscuits in one sitting and didn’t leave any for me? 

                Isn’t it true that was rude and inconsiderate? 


                4. Your Life is a Giant Calendar. The deadline- driven nature of an attorney’s career means everything meant to happen must go on a calendar.

                Toddler birthday parties. Paying the mortgage. Getting a haircut. Going to the doctor. Girl Scout events. Church confessions. Dropping something off at, and retrieving it from, the dry-cleaners. The biannual dental appointment. Taking vitamins.

                When you’re a lawyer, life is in shambles if your Outlook calendar crashes.

                5. The Mindset Everyone is Lying.  Being a lawyer means you don’t believe a word of what anyone else says. This is because everyone is a self-serving exaggerator who is full of B.S.

                Someone saying they ran an 8-minute mile means it really took them ten.

                Someone claiming to make six figures probably makes five.

                And you ask for documentary evidence, like pay stubs and last year’s W2. (See Number 1: it’s not true unless it’s in writing.)

                The term “there are two sides to every story” is false. When you’re a lawyer, there are five sides.


                6. Numbness to Sadness and Tragedy. Before law school, Hallmark commercials and country music made you cry. You loved the nostalgia of your baby blanket and seeing old pictures of you and Great Uncle Albert, who passed away several years ago, wading in the ocean. You considered other people’s feelings before doing something inconsiderate.

                Then you became a lawyer and can pragmatically look at photos of a gruesome homicide scene without flinching. You don’t care that a youngster needlessly lost an appendage in a freak accident because you’re too worried about reporting to your client their outrageous damages exposure. You can depose a sobbing plaintiff who is detailing the loss of their spouse through hysterical tears without pause.

                Quit crying and keep talking. I’m starving and saw there was a Tijuana Flats down the street. It’s Taco Tuesday.

                7. Conversations with Loved Ones are Naturally Adversarial. Lawyers’ spouses routinely remind them the tone of their (one-sided) conversations sound adversarial. When you’re a lawyer, you often use the Federal Rules of Evidence during these conversations, imposing upon your loved ones many “relevance” objections.

                You do not always use the “prior bad acts” exclusion when pointing out your spouse’s shortcomings. In discussions with other lawyer friends, you often “impeach” them with prior inconsistent statements.

                8. Hypersensitivity to Hazards. When you’re an attorney, you are overly aware of potential hazards. You frequently point them out, and hypothetically muse about the types of injuries people could sustain. Then you ponder how much money the injury would be worth.

                Keep your son away from a raised toilet seat if he’s standing up to pee. It could fall down and squish his penis. (This actually happened in one of my colleague’s cases.)

                It’s really nice that you’re walking through the meadow of gorgeous wildflowers on some strange dude’s land, but be careful you don’t step into a slightly unelevated ditch and break your ankle. The landowner only has a duty to remove concealed traps which he has actual knowledge.

                Don’t let your toddler take gymnastics. She could fall from the beam and suffer major brain damage and have to eat from a feeding tube the rest of her life. 

                Apparently this thought process is abnormal among non-lawyers.

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                9. Lifestyle Manipulation. When you’re a lawyer, you encourage your spouse to send you plenty of sweet notes and gifts, and you engage in extravagant displays of affection (on social media and in real life). This way, if you ever died and he or she had to bring a wrongful death claim, their mental anguish and pain and suffering would be easier to prove.

                10. Seeing the World in 6-Minute Increments. Time is money, and your time is valuable, Goshdarnit.

                Going to the mechanic to address a flat tire just cost you a 1.5 and means you’ll have to work over the weekend. Your colleague’s stupid anecdote about his grandfather visiting from New England just wasted .2 of your time. Having to make a fresh pot of coffee because the jerk before you used the last of it was a solid .1. You don’t know if going on vacation is a good idea because it will hurt your chances of meeting your monthly billable requirements.

                11. Everyone Wants Free Advice. When you’re a lawyer, everyone wants free advice. It doesn’t matter that you make it clear that you exclusively handle real estate transactions because someone will, without fail, complain to you about their divorce, ask you about the reasonableness of their alimony payments, or want advice about setting up a (complicated!) trust.

                And then they act like you’re an idiot for not knowing the answer.

                One can only imagine what physicians go through.


                Of course, being an attorney has its perks. I met some of my best friends in law school at the University of Florida. After all, you don’t really know someone unless you’ve suffered with them.

                Special thanks to my fellow neurotic lawyers whose input and candor helped make this post possible. You know who you are.


                  Lady and Kuma: The Rescue Dogs Who Rescued Us.

                  Labrador retriever rescue dogs | The Champagne Supernova

                  It was November of 2009 and my husband, Jason, and I were five months hot off the heels of our wedding. We were living in a tiny rental home on Davis Islands in Tampa and I was burning the midnight oil working for Lucifer while Jason was busy studying for the engineering licensing exam.

                  We were far from having children and I needed a project, so we decided to get a dog. We were looking for only one, and because we didn’t want the responsibility of training a puppy, decided to adopt an adult. After researching breeds, we decided to go with one that was family friendly, smart, and physically active.

                  It would either be a lab or a golden retriever.

                  We did some digging and discovered the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to placing Labrador Retrievers in permanent homes. After filling out an application and having a volunteer come to our home (to make sure we weren’t wackos), we were given the green light to navigate their website and locate available dogs to meet and potentially adopt.

                  So began the process. The organization had a website that was essentially a Facebook for labs in foster homes who were available for adoption. Each dog had a profile containing a picture, the location of their foster home, and provided the dog’s name, age, gender, and personality traits. Some of the profiles featured videos of the dogs in action: chasing balls, swimming, and enjoying a smorgasbord of treats.

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                  The first dog we visited was a young male being fostered in Tierra Verde, about 45 minutes from our house. He was found chained to a tree and had been there for several days before a neighbor called Lab Rescue and a volunteer saved him. He was a sweet boy, but not a good fit for me and Jason, as he was hyper and needed a lot of attention.

                  Back to the drawing board.

                  The second dog we visited was a gorgeous chocolate male who lived in Clearwater with his original owners, who purchased him as a high school graduation present for their teenage daughter. As luck would have it, the daughter got pregnant her first year of college and moved home to have her baby. The dog spent all, and I mean all, of its life in a laundry room because nobody had time for it. The parents thought it was only right to put him up for adoption. Problem was, when we attempted to take him for a walk around the neighborhood, the poor dog must never have seen a leash before. Us walking the dog became the dog walking us.


                  After a couple weeks of frustration, we got a call from one of the head volunteers letting us know that two English-style labs (the ones that are shorter with the blockier heads), which she believed were brother and sister, were dropped off at a humane society a few days before. One of the humane society volunteers called Lab Rescue, who came and got them. Their foster names were Lady Gaga and Kuma, and the organization was giving me and Jason “first dibs,” even though we were under no obligation to adopt either of them.

                  We got in the car and made the hour-long hike from Tampa to New Port Richey to check out the dogs, expecting to be disappointed like we were with the others. We also anticipated bringing home only one dog, if any.

                  When we arrived, Lady Gaga immediately approached us, rolled onto her back, and wanted her belly rubbed. Smitten, we obliged. Kuma, her brother, was in a cage with a cone around his neck, having recently lost his manhood. We were also advised he had heart worms, but Lab Rescue was working with a local veterinary clinic to cover the costs associated with treating them.

                  The foster mom asked if we wanted to take both dogs for a walk around the neighborhood as she handed us two leashes.


                  Lady Gaga and Kuma were both perfect on the leashes. No issues. Bingo!

                  As we were walking them, Jason got the craziest idea.

                  “Let’s adopt both of them.”

                  “Are you out of your mind?” I asked. Going from zero dogs to two dogs in a tiny 1100 square foot rental while we both worked full-time jobs seemed like a horrible idea.

                  “We can’t separate them, they’re brother and sister. Plus, two isn’t much more work than one.”

                  Being someone who is easily talked into making bad decisions, I agreed. When we returned to the foster house, we signed the paperwork and brought the dogs home.

                  Burby, family of four!

                  Picking up rescue dogs from foster care in 2010 | The Champagne Supernova

                  Me and Jason with Lady Gaga and Kuma after signing the adoption paperwork in the foster home.

                  We had in our minds we would shorten Lady Gaga’s name to Lady and would find another name for Kuma.

                  But then we couldn’t figure out another name and kept referring to him as Kuma, so it stuck.

                  Turns out, Kuma is Japanese for “black bear,” and he did look like a little black bear, so the name was well suited for him.

                  Lady and Kuma were perfect dogs. They were house trained and well mannered. Our shoes remained intact, the floor remained dry, and Jason and I got lots of snuggle time from pets who would become “velcro dogs,” following us everywhere we would go.

                  We were obsessed with them. My friends were probably tired of hearing anecdotes about the dogs and I would literally sit at my desk when I was at work, wondering what Lady and Kuma were doing and whether they were also thinking about me.

                  I kissed them on the mouth and you would think that I gave birth to these flipping dogs, that’s how much I cared about them.

                  I was the crazy dog lady.

                  I even asked our veterinarian if dogs could feel love.

                  He said yes.

                  With regard to their former owners, I don’t know the story and don’t want to judge. However, I couldn’t imagine there were people out there somewhere who could just drop two perfectly good dogs off at the humane society, not knowing what would become of them.

                  Totally judging!

                  The adage was true. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and we just hit the jackpot.

                  Rescue labrador retrievers playing fetch near the water | The Champagne Supernova

                  Jason, Lady and Kuma playing fetch.

                  How rescue dogs changed my life for the better. | The Champagne Supernova

                  Life is rough!

                  Labrador retriever lounging on a boat | The Champagne Supernova

                  Kuma engaging in his favorite hobby: lounging on the boat enjoying the salty air.


                  Labrador retriever playing fetch near the water in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

                  Lady capturing the view of Davis Islands in Tampa.

                  As it turned out, Kuma had a host of medical issues. In addition to the heart worms, he also was epileptic, had a strange growth on his gum, and cancer on his scalp. We didn’t know about the latter until after we adopted him, but it wouldn’t have changed our minds.

                  We got through it, one seizure at a time.

                  In the years we had the dogs, there were so many memories.

                  Like the time I rushed Kuma to the vet’s office because what I thought was a huge tick on his belly turned out to be a skin tag.

                  Thank God I didn’t try to light it on fire!

                  Or all the times I’d have to hide my dinner or Lady would steal it right off the plate.

                  She had an affinity for Mexican food.

                  Eventually, weekends spent with Lady and Kuma at the park or on the boat were replaced with time spent inside the house with our real children.

                  Get the Best Deals at Gymboree!

                  They didn’t hold it against us.

                  I swear, Lady knew I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, Arden, before I even knew it. She’d come upstairs as soon as she heard me stirring in the morning and would accompany me to the bathroom to provide moral support, as I was cripplingly sick with nausea the duration of my pregnancy.

                  Lady started limping over Labor Day weekend in 2013. Turns out she had osteosarcoma, an incurable form of bone cancer, which originated in her back left leg. Amputation and chemotherapy were options, but they would only buy us a small window of time, and we didn’t think it was worth it to put her through the loss of a leg. The vet estimated Lady would make it six weeks but she, in the true spirit of a fighter, made it to twelve.

                  Five months shy of meeting our second daughter, Elle.

                  Through tears and grief, life went on with just the five of us. Kuma got older and his black face became a little grayer, but he was content relaxing in his favorite spot outside near the trees.

                  Life happened. We got busier with work and doing the fun things that accompany having young children: trips to the pool, Saturday morning gymnastics class, vacations at the beach, and rounding the kids’ birthday party circuit on weekends.

                  Two weeks ago, Kuma got too weak to come inside the house from the back yard. His age and arthritis got the best of him, and he was no longer able to move around or go to the bathroom.

                  It was time.  

                  Jason and I loaded Kuma into Arden’s red wagon, waited for the babysitter to arrive, watched the girls say their goodbyes, and drove him to the vet’s office.

                  While I knew this time would eventually come, I couldn’t believe the crippling sadness and regret.

                  Sadness for closing a special chapter in our lives. Lady and Kuma were there for us when we were navigating the beginning stages of marriage, buying our first house, and creating our family.

                  Regret for all the times Lady and Kuma got the proverbial shaft once we had our kids and the dogs couldn’t be as much of a priority as they were before.

                  We cried and petted Kuma’s head as we watched him take his last breath inside of Arden’s Radio Flyer.

                  There is a sense of emptiness around the house, but the memories are vivid.

                  I can close my eyes and still feel the way Lady’s silky head felt when I rubbed it. I can hear the sound of Kuma’s tail beating on the floor downstairs. They will always be here and I thank God for those memories and that we got to experience their faithful love.

                  I sometimes wonder what would have happened with Lady and Kuma if we wouldn’t have picked them up from foster care and taken them home with us. Would someone else have adopted them? Would they have been separated?

                  Some say that Jason and I are the ones who rescued them, but Lady and Kuma rescued us.


                  Special thanks to Dr. Christine Lynch and the team of compassionate pet lovers at Animal Doctors of South Tampa for being there with us through the good, the bad, and the ugly. We appreciate you more than you will ever know. 

                    Parents: Stop Saying “It’s Hard”

                    Parents: stop telling your kids school is hard! | The Champagne Supernova

                    Are children less likely to succeed at something when they are initially told, “It’s Hard”?

                    Would they have flourished if they didn’t have preconceived notions of potential failure that were planted by adults?

                    By shutting our pie holes, let’s give our children better chances of success. 

                    Let me illustrate.

                    In my young childhood years, I was a perfectionist. So much so, I think it could have been a borderline personality disorder, if those things would have been routinely diagnosed in the 1980s the way they seem to be these days.

                    Parents: Stop Telling your Kids Things are Hard! | The Champagne Supernova

                    Me in 1986. Apparently, someone told my mom giving a home perm would be hard.

                    Eventually, my aspirations of academic perfection were superseded by an interest in boys, MTV, and being social with friends.

                    Moving to a new town, my parents enrolled us at a small private school, where adults said would be much more challenging because of the stereotype, which truth is immaterial, that private schools were more difficult than public.

                    On top of that, I’d be enrolled in Algebra, which adults warned would be really, really difficult.

                    Not a knock on my parents. Just adults in general.

                    While my strengths and interests were more aligned with social studies and language arts, I had always performed just fine in math and science.

                    There’s a formula. Plug the formula into your Ti-83. You get an answer. Boom!

                    Ultimately, I took to heart what adults said about Algebra being hard, used it as an excuse to slack off and not pay attention in class or do well on tests, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy because I earned a B instead of the usual A.

                    It was my first B. Ever.

                    Who cares that I got a B? It was in Algebra and, dangit, Algebra was hard.

                    But did I really think it was hard, or was I just adopting someone else’s opinions?  

                    Sure, I didn’t do well in math because, as I the school year progressed, I cared more about whether Puck was getting kicked out of the San Francisco house on The Real World than about whether a2 + b2 = c2.

                    But what would have happened if everyone would have said Algebra would be a piece of cake? Maybe it wouldn’t have freaked me out, I would have paid better attention in class, and killed it.

                    I should’ve gotten that flipping A.

                    So began the domino effect of my hatred for mathematics and why I became a lawyer instead of a plastic surgeon.

                    I couldn’t bear the idea of sticking it through classes like anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, and immunology.

                    All because some nimrods said they would be hard.

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                    From personal experience, preconceived notions about something being difficult have spilled into adulthood. I’ve seen it happen with friends and colleagues. There’ve been times I’ve observed a supervisor walk into a co-worker’s office, hand them a new assignment, and said: “this is a very complex legal issue, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of case law that supports the argument we want to make.” Psychologically, they’ve already set themselves up for failure, both in locating the applicable law and finding a successful outcome for the client.

                    Who can blame them?

                    Where difficulty and potential failure are a “first impression,” it can seem nearly impossible to come out of that mindset, plow through, and succeed.

                    There’re so many stereotypes, especially with education.

                    I think it’s bad.

                    Then, it got me to thinking.

                    How many times has someone not tried or succeeded at something, just because somebody else said it would be too hard?

                    <Raising my hand over here. At least twenty times.>

                    As parents, can we stop perpetuating stereotypes to youngsters about things being difficult, keep our mouths closed, and just sit back and watch what happens?

                    Maybe Junior would join the chess club if nobody projected their opinions it would be hard.

                    Or perhaps Sally would have no qualms about training for the marathon if ole’ Daddio didn’t tell her she’d never finish and it would be murder on her knees anyway.

                    Dang. Maybe David would take a chance and send his longshot application for college at Princeton if step-mom over there didn’t tell him it would be too hard to get in, and he’d be better off just applying at the local junior college.

                    A 2015 study from the University of California found a positive correlation between parents’ supportive (academic) interactions with their children and success. Further, it found that whether or not parents expected their children to attend college was a key factor in the children’s success.

                    The takeaway: if you expect your children to succeed, they likely will!

                    Look, there’s no denying some things are more difficult than others. But kids are all different. One child might find art to be tedious and marine science to be a cake walk, while his sibling is the exact opposite.

                    What would happen if, instead of blowing something off as hard, we just tell our children it will be hard work?

                    There’s a difference.

                    Let’s let our kids decide what they think is hard and easy.

                    Let’s stop poisoning the well.




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