Anxious Parents Make for Anxious Children – tricks to let it go

For as long as I can remember, I have been riddled with anxiety. On the playground, I studied my tennis shoes with hopes I wouldn’t be chosen for kickball. I sweated in the 40-degree weather with fear that my face would resemble a pug dog after one swift kick to my noggin.

Dodge Ball boosted my worries in middle school gym class. I cowered in the back corners pleading to get hit in the shoes because the other kids might not have a strong enough arm to reach me.

Please let me stay on the sidelines!

I waited until sixteen before I passed my drivers’ permit. Even though all my friends had their learner permits at 14 years-old, my parents had to physically force me to get behind the wheel. Why did I think I wouldn’t be able to do it? My wild imagination took over – and this was before violent movies and TV programs were plastered everywhere.

Before I became a nurse and took a Microbiology class, I was scared of trying anything new or getting hurt; but that class put me in a severe class of paranoia.


“GERMS EVERYWHERE! Run for your life!!”

I probably shouldn’t have signed up for the class; but it was a prerequisite and hindsight is 20/20, although it probably had a stigmatism.

Unfortunately, when I lost my first baby as a full-term stillborn, my fears seemed justified. For my next two pregnancies, I ran around with a rented fetal heart monitor in my purse. Any time I was worried about my growing baby, I would stop what I was doing, lube up and then listen to the soothing sounds of my healthy baby in utero.

You would think that after each of their births, I would be relieved and not worry; but then there was the chance of SIDS or choking or febrile seizures. It was never-ending.

Where did I come up with these ideas? Why was fear taking over my life? Some experts say genetics plays into this thinking. But I believe the behavior is also learned. Perhaps some people have a predisposition toward being a “helicopter parent;” but their role models at a young age, set an example of how they will react to situations.

This is not to blame anyone in my family for teaching me how to be a cowardly mess; for they obviously were taught that way too. I remember my grandmother, who was a smoker, checking and repeatedly re-checking her chair for ashes before she retired for the night. Every night.

So when a child does something physical and the parent audibly gasps; or if a kid falls down, and the parent quickly says, “Are you OK?” This is teaching your child to be fearful.

I didn’t think I was doing this to my munchkins. In fact, I have been trying for years to do the opposite. But it’s ingrained in my personality. After one child trips and bumps her knee, I gasp and ask if she is hurt. Then when I see it was nothing, I change my tune and say, “Oh, you’re fine!” brushing it off, like it isn’t a big deal. But I already made them anxious with my gasp and scared concerning remarks. Every time I do this, it is adding fuel to the fire of anxiety.

It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But I’m going to try my damndest to exhale when they trip and fall. No gasping here. I will look away and wait for them to come to me if they need my help. Not that I will ignore their needs, but to make sure not to make a mountain out of an anthill.

When my girls ask to climb a tree, I won’t say, “Be careful!” They don’t want to fall out of the tree. They are in grade school and know if you let go, gravity will give them a pounding. Warning them will only put fear and hesitation into their brains, and I want to end this cycle of anxiety suffocating our family tree, like an invasive vine.

Last week we went to the ocean for a family vacation.

Planes crash every day! Lord, they aren’t good enough swimmers. There might be sharks or riptides! This is not a healthy way to live life. I need to plug in the soundtrack of Frozen and have it on repeat for the song “Let it Go!

Photo provided by Disney.

Photo provided by Disney.

Needless, to say the planes did just great. No need to pull my seat cushion out in case of an emergency water landing. I didn’t have to put on my oxygen mask before assisting my children with theirs. In fact, we played a game with every take off and landing. It was ride the rollercoaster. As soon as the plane would lift off, I would throw my hands up in the air and shake them like I was riding the tallest rollercoaster. The girls loved it, joined me and squealed for joy each time. They don’t have the fear of flying because of this game. I took my fears and “Let it Go!”

When my family got into the ocean – despite my fear that a porpoise I spotted on the horizon was a shark – I made sure my girls didn’t know of my concerns. I didn’t have them exit the water, even though I had my finger on speed dial for 9-1-1 for five minutes. I successfully “Let it Go!”

As the girl’s older cousin, who had been body surfing all of his life, took my tentative 7 year-old out in the crashing waves to learn the art of riding a wave. A wave of nausea and explosive diarrhea rolled in me. But I didn’t gasp. I kept giving her the thumbs up from the beach, and prayed I could trust this savvy man of the water. I “Let it Go!”

Usually, when I collect my thoughts and feelings after a vacation, I determine if it was a success by if there was sibling bickering, whining or if someone barfed in the car. Was the place we stayed in clean? Could I relax and read a book?

Not this trip. The true success of our vacation was I let my anxiety go and let my daughters experience new things. They showed amazing signs of bravery and with that they received self-confidence and the freedom from anxiety. Watching their freedom is the best feeling I’ve had as a mother so far.

Maybe there is hope for my girls to break the strangling vine of anxiety. That makes me exhale just thinking about it!

Do you have trouble letting go, when it comes to your kids? Any tips on how to help me with this?

Here is a short video of Munchkin #2 body surfing after a 20-minute lesson and coaxing by her wonderful cousin.

Posted in Behavioral Issues, Motherhood | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Prenatal Chiropractor Speeds up Labor and Reduces Painful Labor


Even though this is a sponsored post, all of my opinions and bad jokes are my own.

Last year when Jen, from the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat, and I were hosting a book signing in Kansas City; I met the sunshiniest gal. Not only did this human light source make me feel better while briefly talking to her, but she told me about her job, where she can daily provide support and understanding for her patients.

PLUS, her name is Dr. Shine!! Coincidence? I think.not.

Dr. Kezia Shine, is a prenatal and womens’ health Chiropractor. As a registered nurse, I was surprised I had never heard of this specialty. However, there are several other practices in KC who do the same thing. I can only assume they don’t provide as much love and sincerity as this gal.

Align, Chiropractic Care for Babies and Mommies, was established in 2010 by Dr. Shine. This was immediately after she graduated from chiropractic school.

Prior to this career, this charismatic woman struggled to find her calling. (I sure can’t relate to this, since I change my career every ten years!) She was doing outside corporate sales and “selling pagers when pagers were cool.” But this work wasn’t satisfying.

Then she experienced the event which forever changed her life: a drunk driver hit her vehicle, causing her to fracture her pelvis. I’ve always believed that monumental changes and clarity in a person’s life came out of tragedy.

Now her practice is thriving. She partners with Dr. Brandi, who is a pediatric Chiropractor, specializing in neurosensory disorders like ADD, autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, slow developers, and kids with food sensitivities.

When I spoke with her recently, I asked Dr. Shine what her favorite part of her job was. She didn’t hesitate to say, “Hanging out with the moms. I feel like I’m giving them the VIP treatment. So many of them are emotional due to their pain, but I leave every day feeling fulfilled that I’m helping people.”

No wonder she’s so joyful. Her job sounds incredibly rewarding!

The doctor said that it is common practice for many pediatric chiropractors to treat three times a week. But she doesn’t feel this is good practice.

“Typically I see the moms following their OB appointments,” she said. “A normal appointment is 20 minutes, where I work on tissue and ligament exercises.”

Apparently, she can help the moms have “super fast labor” where their “pain is decreased. She also helps these women relieve sciatic pain and constipation and claims she can help women with infertility.

So if you are a pregnant woman or know of any woman, struggling with any of these issues, you should consider coming to her practice. I can’t promise that all of your problems will be fixed, but one thing I know is you will get tender-loving care, a good listener and a strong shoulder to cry on.

Check out Align on their website and on Facebook.

Have you ever gone to a chiropractor and/or would you consider going when you were pregnant? Also, what are your thoughts on pediatric adjustments? I’d love to discuss this!

Posted in Pregnancy, Sponsored Posts, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Milk anything? Udderly impossible!

THE KANSAS CITY STAR (July 12, 2014)

Summertime is a perfect time to chat with friends at the pool while your children work off some energy by sending waves into each other’s faces.

Mom topics are diverse, but when someone asked, “Can anything with nipples be milked?” some serious research was in order.

As a nurse, lactation is something I have studied and experienced first hand, but never had this question come up. So when choosing another adventure for my goofy Bucket List, I decided to prove my hypothesis: Only females can produce nourishment via milking.

Don’t worry, I didn’t poll scantily clad sun worshippers at the pool. That would be tacky. Instead I called our local goat farm, Landeria Farm, and asked if I could participate in their morning milking.

Driving my minivan down the gravel back roads of the countryside, I realized I was out of my element. I approached the milking barn wearing floral rain boots and a matching apron. No pearls for me that humid morning. It would have been ostentatious. Plus, I feared anything shiny around my neck.

Kathy and her daughter Rachel welcomed me, then educated me on all things goatish. After hearing of the two 2-old kids (babies) in the next barn, I asked Rachel to give me a peek.

The darling twins were much bigger than I had imagined. The kids’ mother, Thelma — of the goat sister duo Thelma and Louise — allowed me to hold each kid. I assumed all mamas were protective of their babies, so this was a pleasant surprise since I predicted a butt to my…rear.

Oh, clutch my pearls, this kid is cute!!

Oh, clutch my pearls, this kid is cute!!

Next, it was milking time. The 85 goats wait patiently in the holding cell. And by patiently I mean they bleated, snorted and jumped like a popcorn machine with the lid off. Twelve horned goats were ushered onto a platform and gently secured to a feeding trough. This is how they trick them into holding still for the milking. I had visions of the same apparatus rigged to my dinner table to keep my forever dancing munchkins in their seats through a meal. However, the Division of Family Services would surely veto that.


First the workers offer appetizers of apples, leftover fortune cookies, or something resembling Werther’s Original Caramels.

“You can feed a piece of the cookie to each goat,” said Rachel.

“Goats have teeth, right?” I asked, hoping for a demonstration so I wouldn’t lose any appendages.

After supplying the animals with food in their troughs and a sweet treat, I edged to the non-eating end — the end with kicking legs.

If I lose a tooth for this story, I’m going to be miffed.

I inched my way to the biggest udder on the platform. Hand-milking into a cup was going to be difficult. As a woman, perhaps I was sensitive to the amount of pressure required to express milk. Plus, my face was primed for potential hoof marks.

After several attempts, I asked, embarrassed, “Why isn’t it working?”

“You really have to pinch it off and then squeeze,” said Kathy, the owner.

After recovering from my internal shuddering and readjusting of my brassiere, I grabbed on tight, winced and then successfully squirted into the can.

Next Kathy wiped my victory smile off my face with, “Do you want to try some?”

Ex-squeeze me?

Noticing my confusion, she advised, “You squirt it in your mouth.”

I could barely squirt it into the can, so I was sure hitting my mouth would be an epic fail. But not wanting to be a ninny, I bucked up to face my fear and prayed I wouldn’t contract an intestinal infection.

I closed my eyes, aimed and squeezed like you are supposed to do with a fire extinguisher. The milk made direct impact with my upper lip and nose. Goat milk dripped down my mouth and chin, forming a goatee.

I felt like the new cover girl for the National Goat Cheese Lovers campaign. “Get a photo of my milk mustache!” I sputtered.

“Say, Cheese!” Click. Click! “Goat milk?”

Regretfully, I never discovered if my nipple hypothesis was correct. I will leave that research up to the professionals. I’m fairly sure the male goats would be utterly peeved.



Posted in adventures, Bucket List, Kansas City Star | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Are You Kidding Me? My Life With An Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives

Every two years, I am blessed to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. At this conference I meet so many hilarious women (and a few gents) who temporarily strengthen my abs by making me laugh until I feel as if I’ve just completed a Zumba class. Minus the throbbing thighs and glutes.

At my first Erma conference in 2012, I briefly met another humor writer, Stacey Gustafson. Throughout my life I have only met a handful of Stacey’s with an “e-y,” so I knew immediately she was good people.

So when she asked that I share with you her new book coming out this fall I gladly agreed. Not only does it do another talented writer a favor, but you have the opportunity to know of another good book.

Granted I haven’t read it yet, but from following her blog called, Are You Kidding Me? I can assume it will be hilarious. I love the way Stacey describes family life. Luckily, her husband and 2 teenagers aren’t too upset by her venting her frustrations online. At least if they are, she isn’t stopping anytime soon; so be on the lookout for her kids’ vendetta book in future. It will be on the biography shelves next to my munchkins book titled “Nurse Mommy Dearest.”

Here is what people are saying about her upcoming book, which will be available in e-book and print versions:

Hop into your minivan and get ready to cruise through the crazies of Suburbia! Humorist Stacey Gustafson makes an entertaining tour guide in Are You Kidding Me?, a brash, voyeuristic peek inside the topsy-turvy world of suburban motherhood, midlife madness, and all points in between. If you’ve ever called SWAT on a neighbor, faked a heart attack in church, or pulled your hair out while questioning the sanity of your family, Stacey’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor will resonate with you. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.

Stacey isn’t a nubie in the comedy arena. Her previous work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, several Not Your Mother’s Books, Midlife Boulevard, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Generation Fabulous, ZestNow, More Magazine, Pleasanton Patch, Lost in Suburbia, and Better After 50.

Look out for Stacey Gustafson’s book coming out the Fall of 2014. I’m pre-ordering my copy of “Are You Kidding Me? My Life With An Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives.” and waiting with baited breath.

And No! I don’t need a Tic-Tac, thank you very much!

Posted in Funny Stories | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Mommy Marathon Takes this Nurse on Weeklong Sabbatical

As of tomorrow (Friday 7/11//14) I’m going to do a Mommy Marathon with my munchkins for about a week. They are going to get all of my attention as I take a hiatus from the keyboard. I like to do this at least once during the summer to bond with them, reboot my personal hard drive, and drink margaritas after they go to sleep. Plus, we always manage to come up with a LOT of new blog material!!

See you right back here on the 21st for the update on our Munchkin Adventures!!

Just in case you forget what I look like, here is a printable to put on your computer screen while I’m away…



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