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I just turned 46. I was 10 years old when I started middle school. Those middle school years still taunt, tug, and tease me. I was a runt. I was smart, shy, and socially awkward. Oh, so awkward. Lord, I shudder at the thought of it. I was the ugly duckling who didn’t think her swan years would ever come. I was different. I stood out, but not in a sparkly I-want-to-revel-in-her-company sort of way. People jeered. I had no one to walk me through the brutality of those years. The developmental milestones went unnoticed and never discussed. I had no nurturing or joy to turn to. I’ve sworn to be a different kind of parent. Middle school is tough, and no adult I know would relive those years for any amount of money.

And now my oldest son, Bird, has almost a month of middle school under his wing. He too started sixth grade at age 10. He was ready but not so eager. Bird’s a bright kid and insightful beyond his years. I worried about his transition. I wonder if his insecurities eat him up and make him wince like mine did. These tween years are tough. On everyone. 

There’s a pretty fantastic piece out there about the top 15 things your middle schooler wants you to know. This is my mom version that.

15 Things I Wish My Middle Schooler Knew

  1. Let’s respect each other. It’s going to be hard. I love seeing you flourish and develop ideas of your own. We won’t always agree, and that’s hard for me, especially since I am opinionated and have a brick for a brain.
  2. I am a bit stuck in the ways we had fun when you were little. Help me find ways to keep a spark in our lives that don’t involve bubbles, crayons, stickers, and puppets. You’ll always be my little boy so it’s bittersweet to watch you grow up.
  3. I made a boatload of mistakes and want to hold on to you to prevent you from following in my steps. I did things that were unkind and unsafe. Sure, I learned from said mistakes, and Karma has had her way with me. I just want to save you the pain.
  4. Sometimes I’m going to be moody too. That’s because I’m the only woman in this house of dirt and noise so I get crabby sometimes. OK, a lot.
  5. It’s hard to build trust when I know it involves giving you room to falter. You’re a great kid. Neighbors email and text me to tell your random acts of kindness and ways you show respect. I swell with pride. You deserve more trust and credit than I give you. I’m working on it. 
  6. You are smarter than I am. Don’t confuse being wise with being smart. I have wisdom to share thanks to 46 years of life experience. But when it comes to smarts, you’ve got this. I couldn’t figure out Google docs, my Kindle, or wifi without you. You also teach me new ways to examine and experience the world. You are actually pretty wise for your 11 years.
  7. If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s our disdain for drama. I’m a girl. I’ve been there. It feels like it doesn’t end. And about that demon usurping your very being? I have one too. She won’t leave me alone, and I’m afraid she’s here to stay. Her name is Peri Menopause.
  8. Honestly, I miss the days when I picked your friends. My friends’ kids were your friends. Life was easy then. It’s hard to give up control. It’s worrisome to not know every inkling about the people you choose to hang out with. I just want you to be safe, make good choices, not get hurt (physically or emotionally), and choose kindness.
  9. When you need to zone out and stare at a screen, maybe we can cuddle up and stare together. I’m game to watch Spaceballs with you or watch you dizzyingly maneuver through Clash of Clans.
  10. I’m sorry to bark orders at you. It’s not fair that I expect chores and tasks done on my schedule. I’ll try to be more lax, but as a Virgo, that’s hard for me. I know it strains our relationship when I yell at you all the time. It’s unfair to you. I hate being a nag. 
  11. I’m a yeller. I’m not proud of this. I have unreasonably high standards and little patience. This is a most unfortunate constitution to bear. The three strikes you’re out rule should not apply to parenting. I’m hard on you, and as the firstborn, you bear the burden of being the guinea pig. I’m sorry. I’m learning to keep my mouth shut and my arms open.
  12. I have private jokes with my friends too. It’s best we keep them that way.
  13. Sometimes we feel like empty nesters already because you are always out with your friends. You are playing hoops, riding bikes, digging up worms, and frolicking in the simple pleasures of childhood. I want this to be the fabric of your memories. But I feel like I’m hanging on to your weaning childhood by a thread. 
  14. I’m a talker. When I sense stress or strife I talk. I’ve been diagnosed with verbal diarrhea. There is no cure. We should just go get some Goodberry’s frozen custard or ice cream when I start spewing. That will shut me up. And you never outgrow ice cream.
  15. I DO think you are awesome. I look at you and marvel that someone so fantastically smart, witty, curious, and hilarious came from me. You are my legacy, physical truth that I am doing something right and good and earnest. Truth be told, I envy your confidence. By all accounts, you are handling middle school better than I am.

It’s hard yet delightful to watch my baby Bird take flight. He’s snuggled in his nest as I write this and opened his arms to give me a squeeze when I kissed his forehead this morning. I’ll take it.




Bacon ‘n Bourbon – 5:00 Fridays TM

by Ilinap on September 19, 2014



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One of the great things about bacon is that it’s seasonless. I live in North Carolina, where pork helps fuel our economy and makes taste buds dance. I’ve just returned from an NC hog farm tour. It was a remarkable experience that opened my eyes and gave me new perspective on our food choices, farming, and feeding our nation. I’ve got a lot to process, but for now I’ll share a cocktail recipe inspired by this trip.


There’s the ever so slight nip in the air in the evenings, making bourbon my sip of choice. For me, bourbon, unlike bacon, is seasonal. I prefer its sultry bite when the weather cools down, while I prefer something clear and fresh in the summer months. As September inches towards shuttering her doors to beckon fall, I reach for something caramelly brown.

Bacon ‘n Bourbon
1 ounce bourbon
3 ounces apple cider
1 teaspoon brown sugar ginger simple syrup
finely crumbled bacon

Crumble bacon and put into a small dish. Wet the rim of a rocks glass with apple cider. Dip into dish of bacon to slightly coat the rim. Plop in a few cubes of ice. Add bourbon and apple cider. Stir in teaspoon of simple syrup.

Now this is a taste of city girl gone ag.




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Tweet   TweetShare

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