Locker Room Talk


I assumed that Locker Room talk is all that well – boys talk about. I figured it’d be where my 9th grader would be exposed to all that “talk” we didn’t want him to hear. Ends up the locker room is the best conversation. He said that they talk politics, sports, about their classes. Sex, and girls are never a topic of conversation and Gym class, which he has daily, he said is one of his favorite classes and an opportunity to relieve the stress that has built up from his academic classes. I was in shock- the locker room isn’t what they say it is. Or is it just his locker room?

So we began to talk further. Ends up the sex, the girls, the relationships, the rude conversations do happen, just over lunch. He sits at a table that he found the first day of school. He doesn’t have any friends at that table. I think routine is so important for his anxiety that even though as he calls it- he sits with the “asshole” table full of jocks and popular kids who talk a lot during lunch, he remains sitting there to keep his daily routine the same. Meanwhile “the weird kid” (he called himself that in this context) sits at the corner alone doing his homework. I asked him why he didn’t want to change tables and he said it was “interesting to hear what people talk about and it’s a good way to know what is going on at the school.” He also said “Mom- it’s good to know what people spout about. The sex, the girls- it’s just bravado. It’s all bull-shit!”

I am prouder than proud. The “locker room talk” I was worried about does happen but my kid hasn’t fed into it thus far. He’s a respectful young man who I hope will continue to be just like his dad, quiet, thoughtful, with a good heart. I am happy that he enjoys Gym class (I hated it and it was the worst class of my day). I grew up being bullied in gym and made fun of as I was not the most physically gifted person. Quinn is really tall and built like a football player and he is well respected in Gym. I find this so interesting. He’s also like his Dad in this respect. John is tall, and looks like a very sports oriented man but inside he’s a nerd through and through. Quinn is the same and it’s great that he manages to socialize throughout his day, just not at lunch.

So I am not sure what I need to be worried about but what I am glad about is that we have open communication at home. We invite friends over and we hear what they talk about. We are a pretty easy going family and I am open to talking to kids about pretty much anything as long as they bring it up and they are comfortable with it. So far we’ve talked about Sex, politics, Girls, relationships, marriage and parenthood. I haven’t asked my daughter about her locker room yet and I just might and my youngest isn’t there yet. But when he is, I hope he can talk to us about what goes on at school and that he feels comfortable to share it with me or his siblings.

School is just a microcosm of our society. It reflects real people and real life opinions. It’s where we can shape and help our youth to be tolerant and kind. I know my daughter is very vocal about her opinions at lunch with her friends. She has friends of varied cultural and religious backgrounds and she studies about children with disabilities using Ted Talks and You-Tube documentaries. I am very proud of her. After homeschooling for the past 5 years, I am proud that Quinn, Meghan and Cole have integrated into their school communities and that they are willing to share their experiences with us at home.

What’s going on in your kid’s locker rooms? Talk to your kids today, and be sure to ask about lunch conversation! 🙂

Fight for what you believe in


When you think something is unjust, when you feel you need to advocate for your child, do it. Don’t hesitate. Pick up the phone, put pen to paper or send an email and fight for what is right. Recently I got myself in hotwater doing just that. I fought for equality within an organization that is currently all boy and is transitioning to more of a family approach and including girls. Slowly at first but by 2019 sometime it’ll include Girls. I have 2 boys in the All-Boy program and was excited that my daughter could join her brothers. As a family it would be a tremendous opportunity to be in once place on one night at one function, together.

Last week that all changed when news came out that in fact my daughter can join the organization but that we as a family, as a sub-organizational unit will have to start a whole new group that will be all-girl. I was beyond upset. My daughter was beyond upset. She had wanted to join her brothers, be equal to her brothers. That was not the message sent down from the heads of the organization.

This is how I found myself in hot-water. I wrote a letter and I included some loose quotes from the local head of the organization who I had heard in a public forum mention that in fact my daughter could be with her brothers and that this organization in it’s future (years down the road) would eventually become more progressive and would someday be co-ed. I wrote that in my letter. Mind you I had written 2 letters previously to the local head of the organization with no response. So a few days later I composed a letter to the National organization and hit send. No sooner had I done that, I suddenly got emails from the gentleman I quoted. He wanted to sit and talk with me.

I was being called to the principal’s office and it was not a good feeling. I felt awkward and fired up and defensive. I did nothing wrong and I know I didn’t even today. I, out of courtesy, sat down with him and brought a friend who is also a parent in the organization and we sat and we talked. It actually went quite well. I am purposefully not stating what the organization is because I was asked NOT to mention the man I spoke with in public ever again. I still may but for now I will be respectful of our conversation because it turns out- he agrees with me but has to as a professional “tow the company line.”

I want my daughter to be fully included in clubs and organizations. I think the time has come to stop having genders be separate. Apparently there is a lot of research for girls and boys at the teen years to be separated but all I have found is that this research only applies to academic learning and I value that. Girls do learn differently than boys and vice versa but in a youth program that is not academic centered, I don’t understand why boys and girls need to be separated to benefit best from the program.

NO matter what, I will continue to fight for the rights of my daughter and also the rights of my sons. I value my sons having formed great bonds with other boys and that will not change if their sister and her friends join the organization. So whatever your issue is- fight for it. It will get you invited to the table, it will get you involved in the conversation and that is all I wanted. I wanted to be heard.

The Bra Fairy


Well in our house, having a teenage daughter means the tooth fairy gets replaced by the bra fairy. My daughter is 13 and began wearing a simple sports bra a year ago. She’s still able to just wear that type of bra but clearly needs a larger one. Will she try them on? NO.

So my solution, I gauge her size, I give her a hug, I measure her waist for pants (or so I say and maybe just maybe I miss and the measuring tape leaps further north…) and I manage to find out what her size might be? She’s in a women’s large top or medium even though she’s small. She’s got really broad shoulders and is 5′ 3″ tall and 122lbs. She’s in a size 6 pant. I figured that part out at least.

So now, I scan the clearance racks for sports bras. I found some great ones by Jockey. Now the tricky widget is they have to NOT be padded. So I find the ones you can slip the cups out of. I scored last week with 2 – marked at $14 each on sale and they rang up at $1.92/each. This was at Kohls, where I regularly score my bras and hers.

I shop, I drop them into her drawer in the night and the fairy has delivered. YET, the bra fairy is not sure they fit. So I have to strategically plant myself in the hallway when she’s getting dressed in the morning and barge in just as she’s about to put her shirt on. Usually I’m too late but last night, I hit at just the right time and sure enough the bra fairy was RIGHT ON!!! And she proceeded to get 3 more bras right away.

Phew- this bra fairy job is far harder than dropping a few quarters or a buck under the pillow. I’d much rather be a tooth fairy any day of the week.


Been a while

I hadn’t realized that it’s been nearly a month since I’ve been online here writing. I was pretty good for a long while writing daily but I think since Snickers passed away and my blogging buddy is gone I started sleeping in (mind you waking up at 3-5am was NEVER a good idea) but now that I am waking up at 6am and starting the day for the kids is just 30 minutes after that, I do not have time to blog in the early AM. So now I have to find a time during the day to get on here and share. Behind the scenes I have been working on 3 books. One is Advice From Allie– a simple and funny book with witty sarcasm and life tips. One is Continue to Live and Flourish- a Guide to Surviving it All, and the 3rd is How to Live with Anxiety (title subject to change). I have been feverishly writing on weekends and week nights trying to get these edited, refined and ready for public viewing and publishing in the next few weeks.

I hadn’t realized til I just wrote that sentence – that this is where I have been the past month. I have been writing daily, just not here. I hope that sharing my life experiences can help others but it is so scary to put it out there. I think part of me is working too hard at refining the books when honestly they are ready. I may add one last chapter to one of them but other than that, they’ve been read many times, reviewed and they are good. I think I am holding them back. I think I am afraid of sharing my innermost secrets, the skeletons in my closet, the trials and tribulations of my life with the world. Mind you- if nobody shares the book, nobody will read them anyway. I have to truly embrace what I have written and stand by it and share it. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be ready.

Til then I plan to be back on here posting about what we have been up to!



Losing a pet is a huge loss. For us it means losing the furry friend who used to wake us up in the morning. It means losing our cuddle buddy and the one who got us off the couch to walk around the block or two. For me it means so much more because Snickers was my girl. She was my buddy.  The past 8-10 weeks we bonded more than ever. She was diagnosed with a huge mass on her spleen back in November. She did not have a good prognosis. So when she started needing to go out multiple times during the night, I was her companion. At first and for most of the time, I actually walked her outside and sometimes even around the block at all hours of the early morning, 1am, 3am, 4am, I walked her. In her last 2 weeks I let her out back and that was sufficient. She still needed to get up often and the last week nearly hourly. I didn’t mind at all. I had gotten used to no sleep, extra coffee to keep alert during the day and thank goodness for the Hallmark channel as I could watch 3-5 movies a night!


Snickers loved her friends. She went to doggie daycare at Doggie Playhouse in Palatine 2 days a week. We quickly made those days Tuesdays and Fridays so she could be with Sheila (pictured above at daycare). Sheila not only hung out with her, she loved her. Snickers began to follow her everywhere. Sheila took her to go see the other dogs, to help feed the other dogs. Wherever Sheila went, Snickers followed. This was a special place, it is a special place. It was sort of appropriate that Snickers got to say her final goodbyes to Sheila on Friday. I got a call at Noon that she wasn’t doing well. I knew from seeing Sheila and Robin at daycare when I went and got her that it wasn’t good. Snickers lingered for one last kiss and we left. I had to run and do my part time driving job while we waited for our 2pm vet appointment. The boy in the car said “oh she’s so cute!” and she was, all curled up in her blanket. I knew it was the last car ride my dear girl would have.

We arrived at the vet’s at 2pm and she was gone by 2:20pm. She walked in, tail between her legs, head down and barely able to walk. She’d lost 10lbs or more- it was hard to tell with the mass being twice or more in size from when they’d seen her on the day of diagnosis. She was pale, her gums were white. I knew, they knew. She crossed over the rainbow bridge and ironically woofed, and snickered as she went. I wonder who met her first? Tyke? Scout? Both of them? For the kids, it’s hardest. They have had 3 losses in a little over 2 years. Tyke died in October 2015, Scout at the end of September 2016 and Snickers just 15 months later. It’s tough. Meghan is angry- “Why do all our pets have to die?” Cole is understanding but said “I never want to get another dog again, we have bad luck with dogs.” and Quinn said “well it wasn’t unexpected Mom but it’s sad.” I’m a mess. I’m not sure if it’s because she died or because of the lack of sleep I got over the past 8-10 weeks. Since Friday I have slept 2 nights. 8 hours one night and 10 last night and I feel worse than when I only got 3 hrs of sleep. I wonder if the adrenaline rush is gone. The adrenaline that kept me awake and on alert is gone. I am able to now rest and sleep and my body needs to reboot.

No matter what, loss is hard. I’m glad we’ve had the 5 dogs we’ve had in our life. Lucky, Cedar, Tyke, Scout and Snickers. I am open to getting another dog but I shook on it with John and we will not be getting another one. I understand his logic- we have 3 kids who are active – and we are gone a lot of weekends and we just don’t have the time. Had it not been for doggie daycare we wouldn’t have been able to have Snickers. There were many Saturdays we put her in daycare for the day while we did our weekend thing or we’d board her overnight so she was able to run around with her doggie friends while we ran around. I am forever grateful to have had 5 dogs though. They really did make up a huge part of our lives. I loved them all and we will someday see them all again.

Treat Yourself Well


Treat yourself! It’s important to take care of YOU. If you feel bogged down by life perhaps it’s because you are doing everything for everyone else and nothing for yourself. I have been busy volunteering, taking care of the kids and being a supportive wife and friend. I have sacrificed my time and my energy to care for others and with our dog having cancer my sleep has been greatly sacrificed of late. A lot of people would have put their dog down by now. She’s got cancer and a diminished life span but she’s happy for most of the day and so I can’t. As long as she still pees and poops outside she will remain with us. She even goes to doggy daycare at an expense which means I usually don’t buy anything for myself. Well that ended last night and boy-oh-boy was it fun!

Last night I was invited to a private Lularoe sale. No – I am not one of those people who can wear or wants to wear leggings as pants and if you are that person go for it- you probably have a smaller butt than me 😉 But in all seriousness, the leggings are buttery soft and the tees too so a combo of that and I’m in for pajamas/loungewear for home. I do however love their dresses and the price point on those is $65 or less. I wore one to the Christmas party for John’s work and it was so pretty and COMFORTABLE and it had pockets too! So when I had a chance to pick from her live sale and pay just $250 for a box I jumped at the chance. I was able to get 4 dresses, 2 tees, 2 pairs of leggings and much more. I can’t wait to go get my box of goodies today. I can even edit the box in case I don’t like what I chose. What a gift to ME! I opted to use the money my mom sent me for Christmas to offset the cost so it was a fun night, 3 hours online checking out different styles and items and chatting with new friends. It’s the first time I spent money without a care in the world and it was invigorating and it made me feel good to do something for ME!

So take time for you- whether it’s going for a walk you want to go on or buying a new this or that or getting a cup of coffee out because it feels good to be waited on, do it. Take the Oxygen mask first and take care of yourself. Some of us might take a few hours to read a book in the quiet of our rooms while our spouse takes care of the kids. Some of us would feel rejuvenated by going to dinner with a friend. Taking care of yourself looks different for all of us. For me- it’s buying something for myself. I do pretty well with reading a book and seeing friends but I refuse to spend money on myself.

I am taking money away from the family because I stay at home. Now before you get all mad at me for saying that- it’s a little bit true YET if you add up all the stuff I do my husband would be in the poor house if he had to pay for services rendered. Maid service, chef service, TAXI service (no joke I am in the car more than I am not), child care services, tutoring, and more, I do it all. And that’s ok. Our marriage is a negotiation and from day one we decided that we wanted to raise our kids and I would stay home until I felt the need to get a job. I did work outside the home for about 18 months until we homeschooled and let me tell you that was a huge job without any financial compensation and I loved it for 5 whole years. Now I am a part-time driver and am seeking a new business opportunity (making websites- check out my new venture Websites by Allie when you get the chance). I am contributing more than money can buy and that is good enough for me. We all negotiate differently for what we want in our lives and our marriages for me- I am happy to be here when the kids get home from school (after I taxi to get them of course) and I enjoy cooking dinners and taking care of the house although there are days that a maid seems appealing.

So take some time to take care of yourself today. Call a friend, get a coffee, buy a new dress or some shoes you’ve had your eyes on. Life is good and as long as you aren’t going to go into debt to get yourself something then by all means treat yourself. It means that you matter. You deserve it. You and I both know that if your kids needed something you wouldn’t hesitate so why hesitate with yourself? Treat yourself today!

Friday- a day to prepare for amazing


Fridays are amazing. At least they are for me. It’s the day I can prepare for the weekend and for Friday nights. Friday night is family night- games, popcorn, cookies, pizza, movies. It’s time to rejoice at the end of the workweek and to not to have to do any homework and to just have fun after a long week of work and school.

I am a stay-at-home mom so I am never off-duty but I am able to enjoy myself throughout the week and it brings me joy to prepare for Friday evenings when my husband and my kids can toss off the worries of the week and just enjoy themselves.

Today is going to be great. Cole, who has had some medical issues lately, is back to school and it’s a band field trip to play Christmas Carols at an Old Folks Home. Meghan and Quinn have regular school days and John gets to work from home today (maybe a lunch date is in our future?). No matter what we can have a great evening together.

We started the weekend early last night when we all stopped everything we were doing to watch “Psych- the Movie” complete with Pineapple dump cake. It was a homage to the pineapple in every single episode and something silly to make it fun. We had a great time and enjoyed sitting together on a Thursday evening. Normally it’s a rush of homework and reading and bedtimes but we took 2 hours and just sat together and laughed.

We may luck out and get some snow tonight too. I’m excited because tomorrow we will get our Tree. Tonight we should probably make room in the living room for it. There is really no good place to put it so we have to figure out how to reconfigure the room so we can still sit and watch TV but also sit and look at a beautiful Christmas tree. Hopefully we figure it out.

Life is good and Friday is a great way to start the weekend and begin to reboot for another long week ahead. So go and enjoy your Friday. I know we will.

Christmas Gifts that we just love

Christmas is that time of year when we get a week off in between Christmas and New Year’s to have some quality family time. No traveling, no running around, just quiet, fun days and nights doing a “stay-cation.” We are a family who love Board Games and books and doing fun things together. Here are some of our favorite gifts we have given the kids over the years which were a huge success.

One of our best finds is Animal Logic. It’s a game that you can play together or alone. It’s a logic puzzle game where you have to get the Safari animals out of desert in a pattern without breaking any of the rules. It’s great fun!


We have found that games are a great gift for our kids. It’s a way for us to connect. A bowl of popcorn and a good game and we are talking and laughing for hours. Coup is another great game. It’s a fast, quick paced, card game that is really fun. It’s all about strategy and keeping a poker face. We all love this game and the best part is each round is only 10 -15 min long! One of my all-time favorite new games is No Stress Chess. I never understood how to play chess so when my oldest was going for his Chess Merit badge and he wanted his brother to learn we purchased this game. One side of the game- you use cards and play each card which teaches you a move and a type of playing piece. Each card explains what your piece can do. You play the card you are dealt and you move. Once you have mastered that, you turn the board over and play Chess! It’s fun and engaging and a great time had by all!


Old school is what we do when we play Clue, Monopoly Deal andRACKO. Clue is a classic mystery game full of fun and excitement. It’s fun for all ages and a fast paced game with a twist! Monopoly Deal is a 20 minute or less version of Monopoly and it’s great for kids who can’t sit for too long or just for a night when you don’t have a lot of time to play a game or you want to play several games in one night. RACKO is one of my all time favorite games. You have to get your cards in order from lowest to highest despite being dealt anything but. My good friend, Lisa, introduced me to this game and it’s been a quick hit!


This Christmas we hope that these gifts arrive under the tree. We are looking forward to playing Oregon Trail and surviving! It’s supposed to be a fun game. Chameleon is a card game where one person (the Chameleon) is the only one who knows the answer. I’m excited to see how our kids enjoy this game. Timeline has a variety of card games which all form a timeline when you are done. Timeline Diversity is one of the series and we hope to enjoy it just as much as we enjoy Timeline American History which is a very popular game currently!

What I love about Board Games is how it connects us. We get pizza or make popcorn, drink some hot cocoa and share stories, laughs and music. It’s a great way to connect with your 11, 13 and 14 year olds. It’s even fun to invite their friends over who are somewhat shocked that we like to play games together but once they get into it they can’t wait to come back and do it again. Check out the games and see what you think? (affiliate links included- which keep Advice from Allie in coffee)

Another Teenager in the house


So today marks our middle’s entrance to Teenage-hood. Meghan is 13 today! That means we have a fourTEEN year old and a thirTEEN year old. In two short years we will have 3 teenagers in the house. What were we thinking? John always said “babies don’t scare me, teenagers do!” I’m not afraid. If anything I am in awe of this amazing girl. She has some really cool friends.

Last night for the first time since she was 5 or 6 she had a Birthday party. December is a rotten time to have a Birthday as hardly anyone can come to your party if you have one and the last real party Meghan had when she invited her entire class in elementary school only 2 girls came. Everyone else was at holiday parties etc. So this year we opted to offer her a party again. She chose Orbit Skate Center and we went there last night. Six girls, her 2 brothers and 2 of their friends and we were all set. It was so fun.

She was unsure if she wanted to open presents but she decided to and it was such a great idea. Gillian got her a Hamilton inspired game and a book about 2 of the female characters in Hamilton (the musical) and Meghan literally squeeled when she opened them. The grin on Gillian’s face when she opened her Llama card was even better. These girls get Meghan. From a Gravity Falls Journal to gift cards to her favorite stores, she scored on the “perfect gifts” and nothing she received was purchased by our family for her to open today. Today she’ll get a clock radio/CD player so she can listen to Christmas CD’s in her room for Christmas. Quinn got her “Herd your Horses” , a game we used to own but we passed on when we moved and they really missed it. Cole got her a Hamilton inspired tee shirt but that won’t arrive til Wednesday or Thursday.

After today we move on toward Christmas but for this moment we relish in Meghan’s Birthday. It was sad last night or rather bittersweet because Meghan doesn’t want to be 13, she doesn’t want to grow up and she’s mad about it. Hormones, life changes, going off to High School- it’s all closer than we think and she is fighting it with every breath. Her solace is in the fact that Grace, Emma, and Gillian will be on the path with her to High School. Sadly- the twins, Emmie and Ally will be moving to Indiana but with modern technology – they can video chat and we can visit- only an hour or so away.

Meghan sat in my lap last night (well creatively as she doesn’t officially fit) and hugged me tight. She’s my baby girl no matter how old she is and she is happy that no matter how old she is that fact will always be true.

Simple Saturdays


Today is not necessarily simple but it still can be. I am hitting the local high school’s craft fair to see if I can score some sweet teacher gifts (or gifts for others). I find that craft fairs are fun to attend and so it’s still a simple way to spend a Saturday morning. My oldest is camping (poor kid- it’s cold and it’s going to rain today) and my other 2 kids are exhausted. One’s recovering from a cold and the other is just tired. She and I went to see a play last night with her friends and it was great fun. So today- after the craft fair- I am volunteering to help an Eagle Scout complete his Eagle project. After that my daughter and I are hitting the craft store to get supplies so she can build a 3D model of a plant cell. Nothing extravagant but a busy day none the less.

Sometimes Simple Saturday’s don’t mean you stay home all day long but it means you fill your day with things you enjoy. I enjoy shopping, I enjoy helping others and I enjoy spending time with my family so I will hit all of those favorites today. What will my husband do all day? He’ll probably catch up on work- help the youngest catch up on his school work (he was out all week long) and hang out or play games with the kids. Tonight we pick up the camping son and hopefully do something silly like a stay home family movie night. That sounds just about right.

What are you up to this Saturday? Keep it simple- Life’s too short for a complicated Saturday.