The Working Mom by Kay Luna

Those little V-Day cards mean something …

February 14th, 2012 4:42 pm

Happy Valentine’s Day, or Happy VD, which I’ve seen on Facebook over and over today … and whenever I see that, I don’t really think about Valentine’s Day anymore. Eeeuuuww.  But anyway …

Thanks to a mommy friend of mine, I stumbled across this Valentine’s Day post today by Amber Dusick over at her blog, “Parenting. Illustrated With Crappy Pictures,” which took me right back to about second grade.

Don’t you remember going through those cheapy little Valentine’s Day cards you buy in the cardboard boxes, trying to pick out the most special ones for your best friends — and the most meaningful ones for your little crushes.

Should the card that says, “I’m bananas for you, Valentine” go to the boy who eats Elmer’s glue, or not? You know, that sort of thing.

Amber’s blog post nails it.

Last night, I worked the night shift, so I missed out on Valentine’s Day card-making duty with 5-year-old Babycakes this year.

But this morning, I tried to decipher her mindset about which card she chose for each person. And, honestly, I don’t think she thought one moment about it.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I noticed that she wrote cards for four people in the same family, and every single one of them ended up with the same cards. So, yeah, I don’t know if she even flipped them over.

Maybe this whole “which one should I give her/him?” mentality happens as we get older? What do you think?

Did your kids make Valentine’s cards to take to school today? Did they leave you feeling nostalgic for your own Valentine’s cards of (not so) long ago?

Also, on a related note, how many of you were up at 2 a.m. to bake cupcakes for your kiddo’s class party today? I’m hearing a lot about moms freaking out about getting Valentine’s Day treats ready for school today. Are you one of those people?

Blog reader: Make a plan, make it legal

February 6th, 2012 11:56 am


The other day, I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours sipping coffee and talking with Cristy Tackett-Hunt, who says she’s passionate about women’s advocacy issues and likes to read this blog (yay!!!).

Hunt — a working mom and estate-planning attorney at Snyder Park Nelson & Schwiebert law office in Rock Island – wanted to visit with me, so I could get a message to all of you.

First of all, this is not a commercial for her. But she wants us all to know how important it is to file legal documents to prepare for what might happen if we die suddenly, especially if we’re leaving children behind.

Hunt said she realizes this is something people might not want to think or talk about, but “this is really important to women,” she said.

For most moms, the urge to provide for our loved ones is ingrained in the very fiber of our being, so how could we not prepare what might happen if we’re gone?

The first step, and maybe the most important step, is to designate a legal guardian for your children in the event that you and their other parent were both to die. Who do you want to raise them in your absence?

It’s not good enough to just tell someone, “I want you to take care of my kids if I die.” You’ve got to put it into a legal document, she said.

“If you have a child, you need to do this immediately,” she added. “And if you don’t have a plan, you do — and that’s to let the court decide that for you.”

Hunt also talked about why it’s important to get help preparing a comprehensive estate plan, which could include financial trusts and other safeguards for your loved ones.

“Estate planning is not just for rich people,” she said. “We all have people we want to take care of.”

If you were to die tomorrow, would you have a plan in place to designate who would take care of your kids? Did you know children can’t own property until they’re 18? Who would you trust that property with until they are old enough to take it over?

What if you and your child’s other parent both are injured in an accident, and can’t take care of the children temporarily. Who have you designated as their short-term guardian?

What about life insurance? Long-term care insurance?

Have you thought about any of this yet?

I want to go home

January 31st, 2012 4:58 pm

Old habits die hard.

That’s why I still slow down when I drive on the highway that runs past my grandparents’ old farmhouse, feeling a sudden urge to pull into the driveway and park in my usual spot in the grass.

Sometimes, I do it, peering through my car window into the kitchen, looking to see if I can see any lights on or my grandma moving around inside.

I don’t. Of course not.

The house is empty, falling apart. My grandparents are never coming back there. Granddad died a few years ago, and next week, it’ll be a year ago that Grandma died.

But I still look.

Sometimes, I can’t help but walk up to the house and peer inside the front door, or even step onto the back porch. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the hum of the TV, and hear Grandma moving around in the kitchen.

When I inhale, I feel like I’m home. Isn’t it strange, but wonderful? The smell of moth balls and country air is just the same to me.

But when I open my eyes,  it’s starkly different now. It’s empty and sad.

“It’s no one’s fault, it’s just the circle of life,” I tell myself.

And I cry.

It’s a habit I can’t seem to break.

What’s rolling around in my head

January 26th, 2012 2:31 pm

Here are some recent headlines from my life:

1) Kay discovers Red Box DVD rental isn’t as complicated as she feared.

For a long time, I successfully ignored those red machines that stand outside the doorways to Walgreen’s and grocery stores, beckoning me to slide my credit card and take home movies to watch whenever I want.

But a few days ago, I started wondering, “What if?”

Could I really rent “Bridesmaids” and “Smurfs” through that contraption without suffering confusion and heartache?? On a whim, I decided to give it a try for the first time.

Yes, I’m serious. The. First. Time.

This moment changed my life.

I rented one movie the first night, three more the second night. I had to work a few nights, so I got out of my rental groove, but I feel a magnetic pull to go back.

One of the many movies I’ve watched so far, thanks to this new discovery, is “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Have any of you working parents seen it?

I could relate to parts of the running-myself-ragged theme, but don’t think I’d spend the time or money watching it again. What did you think about it?

2. Kay wonders aloud to herself, `What in the heck am I doing onPinterest???’

Pinterest. Are you on it? Familiar with it?

It seems like most females I know are obsessed — and that’s how they describe it — with the website, found at They talk about how they plunk down on the couch with their laptops at night and get lost in the site for hours.

Their enthusiasm is what made me want to learn more. And when I found out that you have to get “invited” to play on this website, well, I wanted it more. I didn’t give up until a friend finally was able to successfully send me an official invitation, and felt victorious when I joined.

But now, I’m facing a hard truth. I really stink at Pinterest.

As much as I found using Red Box refreshing and simple, I find Pinterest confusing and fight the urge to apologize to people every time I get an email that says someone else is following me there.

What am I supposed to be doing on this online bulletin board, where people “pin” photos of their favorite things?

Are you on Pinterest? Have you made a new recipe or done a new craft, or revamped your entire kitchen, after finding something amazing there? Please, help me out.

What are you into lately?

Davenport pageant mom says her side

January 6th, 2012 5:10 pm

A year ago, I met a pretty memorable Davenport couple, Jameson and Kelly Smith, and their three kiddos.

The reason they invited me to their house — after a fairly nasty snowstorm … I still remember trying to drive through it to get there early that winter morning – was they were awaiting a film crew that day from the television network TLC.

Their middle child, 2-year-old Natalie, was going to be a star on their reality show about children entered in beauty pageants, called ”Toddlers & Tiaras.” They were all very excited about this.

Here’s the story I wrote about it:

After their initial episode ran, that led to follow-up interviews with the show “Entertainment Tonight,” clips of Natalie and her family airing frequently on TLC commercials and even a recent interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network, according to 26-year-old Kelly, who I talked to again this week.

And why did I talk to her again this week, you ask? Because her behavior on a subsequent episode of “Toddlers & Tiaras” is causing quite a controversy. That probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, with this being a fairly controversial subject — beauty pageants for wee ones — and a reality show.

But what shocked people the most was Kelly’s reaction to how Natalie’s pageant experience is going in the episode, according to babble on some blogs online. Here are links to commentary and video clips:

Kelly said she hasn’t replied to any of these bloggers, but she did talk to me, explaining that filming these shows really has been fun — and honestly, she might even consider doing it again.

But it’s a reality show, and they like to splice and dice footage to make things look more dramatic than they were in real life sometimes, she said.

For instance, the show took footage of a house that wasn’t even theirs. They don’t live in Bettendorf, like the show said. The car they showed wasn’t theirs, either.

Their daughter really didn’t throw fit after fit, like it appears on TV, either, she said.

Kelly did get mad, but she also felt the film crew was sort of egging her on.

“We watched the episode and just laughed,” she said. “We know the truth, and we know the truth about reality TV.”

As for their daughter, Natalie, she doesn’t really like doing pageants and probably won’t do anymore … unless she really wants to sometime, her mom said.

But will their youngest daughter, Annaliese? Probably, she said.

Without getting personal or attacking, what do you think? Did you see any of these episodes?

Our adventures at home

January 4th, 2012 11:30 am

Hello, friends! I’m finally back to work after a nice holiday break away (at home).

Here’s a recap in photos. First, check out Miss Babycakes – a brand-new 5-year-old – making a gingerbread house with her parents:

We spent a lot of time hanging out, playing with her new books, games and toys … and, ummm, Mama’s new toy: An Xbox. I’ve been dancing along with my new Dance Central game nearly every day since Christmas. No photos allowed. Ha!

I also did quite a bit of sewing. I made this dog bed:

I made two quilts. This one was for my husband, who is big into racing (and I got help from Miss Babycakes, who I’m teaching how to sew, which makes it extra-special):

The other one was for another relative:

I kept them pretty simple in design, but felt good about how they turned out.

We also celebrated Miss Luna’s birthday on Dec. 21 and her Daddy’s birthday on New Year’s Day. Somehow, I didn’t take any photos of Babycakes with her cake (at least, not on my camera. Will have to check my hubby’s).

I do have a photo of Mr. Luna blowing out his candles on his birthday cake, but he’d cringe if I posted it. So, I won’t. See, it’s another birthday gift for him: my kindness! LOL!

Babycakes brought a tear to my eye when she blew out her birthday candles. She told our family her wish had already come true: She was spending time with the people she loves.


Then, she repeated that theme on my husband’s birthday, when she told him, “Just look around you. Does any of this stuff matter? I mean, you’ll get a birthday cake and that’s nice, but is that important? No. What’s important is that you’ll get to spend time with your family and friends for your birthday.”

Along with her poignant statements, that girls keeps me entertained with her occasional zingers, too.

Like the question she innocently asked me this morning: “Mommy, why do you wear a bra?”

Yeah, that was a fun one to answer.

What’s new with you?

Just laughed so hard, I cried

December 20th, 2011 11:03 am

My morning didn’t start out well, and that’s an incredible understatement.

So, maybe the tears were closer to the surface than I realized just now when I dissolved into a confused mix of laughter and tears — right here in the newsroom — as I watched a link to the Jimmy Kimmel show on

WARNING: This is hilarious, and might make you wet yourself a little.

ANOTHER WARNING: The content of this video is not suitable for a younger audience.

The premise of the video is that Jimmy Kimmel asked parents to wrap up bizarre gifts for their kids,  present them like early Christmas presents, videotape the kids’ reactions and then send them into his show.

Most of the clips were innocent enough, and with a little explaining, the kids would maybe even laugh about it afterward.

I loved the kid who said, “A hot dog?”

And what about the kid who said she really loves her mommy’s cooking, like when she makes Hot Pockets, but why did she only give her a sandwich?

“And why’d you have to eat off of it?”

Oh, my gosh, it makes me laugh all over again!

But if you were the parent of the boy who was terribly upset by the Hello Kitty garment he received (oh, my goodness), would you have sent in the video to a comedy show to air on national television?

Thinking about the backlash that kid might be facing since this aired, and the fact that the adult videotaping it allowed the farce to go on that long, I feel a little bit like crying again.

What do you think?

Cutting back on Christmas cards

December 12th, 2011 11:10 pm

Are you getting many Christmas cards this year?

It occurred to me tonight that I’m not. Should I worry that I’ve royally ticked off a whole list of friends and family? Or are you seeing a similar trend at your house?

We mailed out about 50 holiday cards this year, which is about the same as we always do. But I think we’ve received about, oh, four or five. It’s weird.

By this time in December, we usually have the whole fireplace mantel filled with cards from friends and family.

Maybe the lack of snow has slowed people down from mailing out their cards until now. Or maybe people are sending emails or just skipping this tradition altogether.

What are you seeing at your mailbox?

Elf on a Shelf: Creepy or not?

December 12th, 2011 11:04 pm

Do any of you have those “Elf on the Shelf” dolls at your house? You know what I’m talking about, right?

The story goes that the elf sits on a shelf and “watches” your child’s every move, and then runs and reports what he sees to Santa in the middle of the night.

Some dear friends of ours got Miss Babycakes an “Elf on a Shelf” doll and book last Christmas. I pulled it out of storage with the rest of our Christmas decorations, but haven’t put the elf out on a shelf yet.

Why? Because I’m a little worried the storyand the doll might freak out my kid.

We already have trouble getting her to worry less about Santa “seeing her when she’s sleeping.” I’ve had so many conversations with her about this topic, I couldn’t even count them all. I’ve explained to her that I believe this song lyric is merely a story, but she keeps going back to it.

I don’t have the heart to worry her with an always-watching elf, too.

What do you think? What do your kids think about these elves?

And speaking of elves, I think we’ve watched “Elf” about 524 times so far this holiday season. We’re moving on to “The Grinch” now.

Hello, holidays

November 23rd, 2011 4:25 pm

Doesn’t it seem like the holidays are ushered in earlier and earlier every year?

I mean, I’m OK with it. I like prolonging fun times when I can get together with my family and friends, eat good food and enjoy gift-giving festivities.

But it does seem a little strange when you think about it.

Case in point: I dressed my 4-year-old daughter in a green velvet Christmas gown and red Santa Claus hair bows, and took her to the Festival of Trees holiday event in Davenport last weekend … five full days before Thanksgiving.

Fall pumpkins and scarecrows are still our main decorations in the yard. The sun was shining. Not a speck of snow could be found.

“This just seems wrong,” my husband muttered as I helped Miss Babycakes put on her tights and dress shoes.

Meanwhile, my favorite radio station, Mix 96, has been playing Christmas music 24-7 for a while now. This irked our daughter just a little.

“Does that mean they won’t play `Eye Tiger’ anymore?” she asked, referring to the 1980s song “Eye of the Tiger” by the band, Survivor.

“I do like Christmas music, though,” she added.

That’s good.

She also likes sugary sweets, which was the focal point of the “Teddy Bear Tea” event we went to last weekend. She would have licked her plate clean, if Mama would have let her.

Honestly, I can’t blame her. The treats were delicious.

But we’ll keep ‘em coming, starting tomorrow: Thanksgiving.

After we put away the turkey and fixings, and get over our turkey coma, maybe we’ll start putting away the pumpkins and pulling out the Christmas decorations.

Hey, some people will even be running out of  their Thanksgiving events to get in line for Black Thursday night/Friday holiday shopping deals.

I won’t go that far.

But I might start my Christmas list, and maybe download some photos for our Christmas cards.

Until then, I’m still hanging onto fall and remembering how thankful I am for my family and friends, my home, my job … and that I don’t have to make the entire Thanksgiving meal by myself. Ha!

I better stop writing and start looking up websites that say how long I’m supposed to cook those turkeys tomorrow.

What are you doing to celebrate the holidays (and, yes, that includes Thanksgiving)?!?