The Associate is an IB learner.

Over the last couple of years our school system has been transitioning to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Below is the mission statement.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

It sounds sophisticated and wonderful, but I was sure that if we allowed our teachers to teach without interference they would come up with a similar plan. I do still believe this, because all the teachers I know are awesome, but I have to say this program appears tailor-made for The Associate.  She is quite dynamic and strives to embody all 10 IB traits. (Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk takers, Balanced, Reflective.)  We are consistently negotiating these ideas.  For example, being a risk taker does not mean hurling yourself over the couch blindly,  and nobody told her she could inquire as to where I put my chocolate, but you get the point.

We were at a park this summer and all of the kids were running around in circles,  The Associate was picking up garbage while running full speed.  I yelled to her “What are you doingggggggg?”  she relied without skipping a beat.  “I am being Pricipallllleeeeddddd!”  That is adorable.

She has an entire school set up for her big eyed fluffy animals and spends hours discussing the IB traits.  I have since rearranged her room to move the classroom out of the stairwell and avoid death by stuffed animal.  IMG_1025







When we got the paperwork for her to sign up as an ambassador,  I was hoping she would want to do it. After much consideration she did and was accepted.  One of her jobs is to welcome new students to our school and make them feel welcome.  When I woke her this morning, she said and I quote “we received word that there would be a new student today, I have to get ready.”  Quite a departure from the normally groggy jerk that I encounter in the morning.

So far so good,

P.S. Thank you teachers!

learn more




The Teenager is 16.

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant.  I remember it vividly.  I was 28 and fresh off of NYC, living in a three bedroom apartment, in Wilmington NC.  Those who questioned my choice of apartment didn’t understand the closeness of NYC.  I rented three bedrooms so I could breathe and because it was 500.00.  I was most recently paying 1500.00 for one bedroom 20 minutes outside of Manhattan.  I gleefully moved in, spread out and suddenly had room for a new choice.

The circumstances were not ideal, the road ahead wasn’t at all clear, but the choice was mine. Could I put this being’s well-being ahead of my own for, well…. ever? ? ? Me alone in the bathroom with a stick covered in pee, could answer that question definitively almost immediately.  I felt that space in my heart and soul could be rented out permanently.  I knew that if I was not able to give it the best of me, I had options.  It is because of these options that I could willingly and excitedly make that choice.

Imagine the same scenario, but that young woman doesn’t have a choice.  It can become forced, coerced, unwanted.  Months later that child is brought into this world by a woman who didn’t get to decide those answers for herself.  The consequences are unknown.

The now Teenager and I have a great relationship,  I trust her, and she trusts me.  I respect her and she respects me in return.  She isn’t the cleanest person in the world, but she is kind, self-assured, smart and emotionally intelligent.  I looked at her the other day and said “I am glad I didn’t abort you.”  she replied “thanks mom!”  I put everything I could into that human, let’s make sure she has the same choice.

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Discipline “motivators”

It seems a pivotal, life changing moment when you figure out the “motivation” that will make your kids listen.  The Teenager is mostly well-formed by now, but when she does get snarky or forgets herself I pull out my perfectly formed threat and she tightens up quickly.

“If you don’t (insert offense here) I will call Shaker Dance Academy and sign up for the adult hip hop class.  I will insist on choreographing a dance that you and I will perform together at the end of year recital.”  The behavior is miraculously transformed, as she visualizes the fallout.  Of course there is always the I can take your phone away “motivation”, works like a charm every time.

The Associate is quite different.  She is competitive and a ferocious negotiator.  She plays soccer and does Karate and still finds time to kick me in the shin.  I know she can behave,  her teachers think she is delightful.

The Ah ha moment hit the other day as I observed Karate, and the class began to learn the basic rules of tournament scoring.  The teacher said something like this. “The only time you are allowed to make contact with your opponent during a tournament fight is if you are blocking a punch or kick.”  Wait, WHAT?  The teacher continued “If you cannot control yourself and you hit someone while sparring it is a point for your opponent.”

“Oh this is good!”  I thought to myself.  I pretty much checked out at this point planning my next move.  I practically skipped out of Karate.  The very next time she kicked me, I very calmly said,

“Point for me.”


nobody is perfect :)

The Teenager wanted to work at the local Ben and Jerry’s and waited patiently until she was 15.  We went over the whole job applying process very thoroughly from start to finish, and when she started was teased because she had never mopped a floor.  She came home a little forlorn, and I said “It’s my fault, I never taught you how.”

It can be argued that I employ a “different” parenting style with The Teenager.  Much to the chagrin of my husband and increasingly myself this focus is not on house cleanliness.  In my mind I am arming her with different information.  Information on how to move about this crazy world with empathy, self-confidence, kindness and fun.  Some of these lessons are impossible for a person of the male persuasion to understand, and I understand his confusion.

Our conversation that mopey mop day continued and the topics ranged from global politics to the difference between baking flours.  Weeks went by as they tend to do and I began to see large gaps in my parenting agenda.  Most of the problem areas are related to cleaning, and we begin to imagine the messes we will make in her future home.  Tea bags in random places, smoothie cups drained dry but not rinsed, blender stuck to the counter. I will most definitely leave my underwear on her bathroom floor tangled up in the soaking wet towel that I took from her hook. I relax thinking about it, my eyes twinkling.

I am startled out of my reverie when I realize that I also making these same mistakes with The Associate.  I temporarily talk myself up and deny my faults.  “If she knew how to clean up after herself, than we wouldn’t know what the sneak is up to.  We can hear her eat sugar from the bowl because of the clink of the fiesta ware as she puts the spoon back in.  I cannot hear the brown sugar container open or close, but I can always read the telltale signs of a powdered sugar meltdown.  The sprinkle of dust goes all the way down the cabinet, under the burner on the stove and into a little heap on the floor.  There is no good way to justify this behavior in her or me, especially when a steady stream of ants invaded for a couple of days.

What to do now, how do I right this wrong? Now that I am finally seeing the light, The Husband can stop banging his head against the wall (which is good), but The Descendants aren’t thrilled with the change.  The Associate yelps out NO! like she is two and The Teenager smirks and lurks off to work or dance or something else of vague importance.  What to do…..?  I know!  Demerits!  (stay tuned.. he…… hee…..)

Why is this in the fridge?


Evidence that The Associate has been trespassing in my studio.


key to my heart.

Anyone who knows me or has seen my work knows I have a thing for cocktail stirrers, as seen below in my TV drawer. I have made and sold many earrings and other accessories made from these molded plastic sticks of wonder.  The whole idea of them overwhelms me, don’t know why.


One of best selling earring sets is made from a long key, so when I found this little bag of awesome, I pounced.


More earrings!!! A very good friend told me I had to do a better job of bullet pointing my process so here goes.

1. Measure and mark the center of the stirrer.


2. Using a sharp wire cutter gently snip it in two.  Any shape wire cutters will do this is just what mine look like.


3. Using a thin drill bit, drill a hole in the top of each piece. I used my monster drill press, but you could a cordless drill (just make sure you brace it down somehow so it doesn’t slip)


4. There are talented people out there that make the own earring wires for earrings, this is how I avoid learning this skill.  I buy commercial ear wires from my local craft store and make them look nicer by snipping off the loop on the bottom that holds the spring and the cheesy bead.


5. Once I have snipped off the loop without taking out an eye (those suckers take flight) I use round nose pliers or looping pliers to make a new loop. It turns out looking like it wasn’t bought at my local craft store.


no that is not my hand.

6. Cut a small length of heart chain and attach a Lucite heart to one end using a jump ring. I just happened to have this adorable heart chain but any would do.

7.  Attach the other end of the chain to the ear wire and key using another jump ring.  Walla!

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Check out my etsy store to purchase. Electricbelle on Etsy

First day I have to myself, and I clean my cabinets, then scarf.

I love summer and I am lucky to be able to be around when my kids are off,  but by mid August…  Anyone that stays at home with their children and attempts to have any semblance of a career can relate that it starts to suck.  In addition to my home duties I am starting a non-profit and I actually have things to do that require total concentration.  Apparently this idea is a bit too abstract for my spawn. I get a lot of “oh ya, that… ” from The Teenager whereas  The Associate simply wants to know if I am the boss.  When I answer “yes?” she wants to know if I can fire people.  Besides bringing the The Donald to mind and sending a nasty shiver down my spine I try to explain the concept of collaboration, and she quickly loses interest. *Sigh*

Purgatory is over and school is back in session. I can answer all my emails, complete those important phone calls, write a blog and get back to business.


The Associate on her first day of 3rd Grade.


This is the only image I was allowed to take of The Teenager.

As I poured myself a second cup of coffee in my blissfully empty home a cabinet door crashed to the ground.  By the time I rounded up a new hinge, screws, drill bit and successfully charged up the drill, I had gone crazy cleaning out my cupboards in the mudroom and kitchen.  I forced myself to finish the chore I unwittingly started and attempted not to lament my dream of a peaceful morning.

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However! I did find something to play with while digging through the mudroom.  Even though it is too hot outside yet to wear scarves I don’t let myself hesitate.  I have had this idea for a couple years and every year I end up stuffing them back into a bin because I miss the boat.  I guess it can be argued that I have little control over my day, even when no smaller people are bugging me.

Momentarily I am distracted by the most wonderful package EVER!!!


Seriously does this woman know me or what??? *Thanks Julia!*

The project is simple.  I have somehow accumulated 9 plaid scarves from various thrift shop adventures.  They are all different and all too short.


After washing them and matching them up  I debate sewing them with a machine.  I give this a shot but feel like it looks lame.  I am trying to create lush and vibrant neck wear and the small stitching looks silly.  I trim off that mistake and decide try my absolutely favorite glue in the entire world!


Some off the scarves are wider than others, but I really like the way the patterns and colors hang together.  I use the trim from the middle scarf to cover the overlap, and let dry.  The bond is very secure and in my past experience will hold up in the wash.  I discard ideas of decorative stitching in contrasting colors (mostly because I am terrible at it.)


I then attempt to take pictures of my creations, but recall my model just started 10th grade.   This is the best I could do after discovering them in pile on her floor still un-selfied.

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Now I will put them away until the temperature goes down.  Maybe I’ll go answer some emails, answer phone calls. Oh wait, The Associate is home sick.




Label reading

When The Teenager was just a wee lass, she accompanied me everywhere.  We were always learning on the go.  For instance, if she wanted me to purchase crappy food at the grocery store she would have to read the label.  Keep in mind she was five when we started this and she couldn’t read much at all.  She could however pick out the word sugar with surprising quickness, and we won’t buy a product if sugar was in the top 5 ingredients.  As “new and improved” sugar substitutes became available we learned that if it sounded like a crazy chemical it probably was and it was best not to consume it all, and always be skeptical of “natural ingredients” packaging.  As the years went on and she had a firm, slightly jaded view on pre-packaged food we moved onto math and price illusion (as I like to call it.)  Now she is 15.75 year old educated consumer, and we did a little vacation shopping.  We paused and gave a nervous giggle, snapped a picture and entered into a bewildering, obviously recently re-branded grocery store chain.


“Who do they think they are fooling?  There is no farm in there!”

We were instantly struck by the ridiculous lengths that this chain went through to make people think that their crap was any better than anybody else’s crap or fresher and local? The Teenager was horrified by the “Chicken Kitchen.” Stuck to the floor leading up to the counter where a man stood wearing a chicken hat butchering chickens and selling it in every configuration I could imagine were chicken feet decals.   “MMMOOOOOOMMMMMM”  “It looks like the chicken are walking to their death!!!!”


OY!  no chicken today.  We quickly turn and The Teenager’s disgust turns to laughter as she gawks at the single muffins.  “Look mom they are single and ready to mingle, but that is a pricey date.”


Right next to the muffins were half loaves of bread.  Not a small loaf, but a whole loaf that was broken up into two loaves and then sold for the same price as a whole. I mutter that “I can waste my own bread thank you very much” as The Teenager counts the slices and declares that “you can’t even make four whole sandwiches”  we laugh the laugh of the confused, but begin to draw attention and step away without photographic proof.  “This place gives me the creeps!” she whispers.  We wind our way around to stop dead in front of yet another petrifying sign.


“MMMMMOOM??  do you see all the gears?

I begin to conjure images in my head of a boardroom full of executives howling with maniacal laughter as they try to scheme us out of our money.  How gullible do they think we are?  That windmill isn’t creating energy it just a vertical fan! Those are not greenhouses, they are filled with frozen food! That bakery smells like a cookie candle! Quickly we grab our absolute essentials  (ice cream and coffee) and depart hastily.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because of the recent ruling about GMO labeling voting nonsense.  All of my meticulous training for nothing!  My instinct tells me to teach my children not to eat anything genetically modified, but how will they ever know in order to make that choice? Maybe I need to teach The Associate a different method all together and we can start by never going back to that “store” again.



7.5 years apart


I actually planned to have my children this far apart, and most of the time it works out alright.  The age gap became ever so much larger when The Teenager started to drive.  In the space of 30 minutes I went from indulging The Associate in a game of “I am a kitty take care of me (pictured above)”, to explaining to The Teenager how to drive responsibly.  Surprisingly enough I didn’t cry all over myself and was repeatedly astounded by my calm demeanor.  She chauffeured me all over the winding roads of Lakeview Cemetary, around dead people that she couldn’t kill because, you know, they are already dead. Each turn became a little smoother and her foot more leaden.

stopping for gas on the way home.


We arrive home to The Associate panting at the back door. “Yes, you are a sweet kitty, here is some milk”  “NO MOM! I need you to take my picture so it looks like I am stopped in mid-air!”

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The manual is read and highlighted.  It is full of useless information, but I don’t tell her that.  There is no driver etiquette, or even common sense, so I begin to point these out quite obsessively when we practice.  I go over what I think a young driver should know, but the DMV has very different ideas.  I am all for it being difficult to get a driver’s license, and the questions to be tricky, but two questions she got wrong are utterly ridiculous. They are so bad I woke up thinking about them.

The first question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.  “If a driver is over 18, who in the car has to wear seat belts?”   My cautious and thoughtful teenager that I have spent 15 years buckling in, over 16 if you count me buckling my giant pregnant belly, answers: Everyone?  Sounds good, safety first, but to her surprise and my horror, this is incorrect.  The correct answer is: Only the people in the front seat.!  Thanks DMV.

The second question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.   “If a driver under the age 21 gets pulled over for drunk driving how long do they lose their license?  Again, The Teenager reasons, well the driver is drinking underage which is bad and driving under the influence, that’s really dangerous.  Her answer is 2 years. This however is incorrect, and the correct answer is 60 days.  Soooooooo. Let me get this straight…… A person under the age of 21 and over the age of 18 can drive around with people unbuckled in the back seat (kids included), while under the influence of Alcohol that they aren’t even legally allowed to drink yet, AND it is really not a big deal. 60 days and they can get their privileges back.  SERIOUSLY who do I call? Even if this messed up stuff is the law, is it necessary to put it on the NEW DRIVER TEST?? I have 7.5 years to get it changed, who is with me?

The Associate sums it up nicely and slightly incredulously.

TA- Mom, why are you smiling? (The Associate asks as I beam at my phone)

me- I am happy because the highest court in our land decided that a person can marry the person they love.

TA-  huh?

me- The Supreme Court says it legal for a man to marry a man or woman to marry a woman.  The point is that if you love someone and want to commit to them legally you can.

TA- wait illegal is bad, and legal is good.

me- in this case, yes.

TA- Wait, it was illegal before today?

me- in some states, yes.

TA- well, I am glad they finally figured that out.  Makes sense to me.


last days scramble

As the teachers of the world scramble to get the last days of school done, those parents that are at home with the children all summer scramble for a last bit of sanity.

My conversation in my head goes as follows.

Monday! Only four more days of school!  There are meetings I must schedule. done. now how to spend any possible free time I might have. One last alone trip to the grocery store, start meditating (too late), sit on the porch quietly? think clearly while not being hit with a water gun? organize my life? take a uninterrupted shower?

Monday starts off ok, as I get interviewed for our local paper.  I struggle through the parts about me that I have yet to nail down, and of course gush about my new project and my team.  Slightly proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and not having a panic attack, I go on with my day, and manage to organize the mini studio a bit while fielding phone calls.  I spent the evening fretting over The Teenagers study habits, because she didn’t call off work and had a math final in the morning. I have already mentally prepared myself for the bad news, and I am irritated with her when I pick her up from work.  I do manage to calm myself and tell her that my attitude stems from my desire for her to be able to become whatever she wants when she grows up. I don’t want her to be held back by grades.  Her chilly exterior defrosted and we move on.

Tuesday starts by waking up The Teenager and her dragging her butt to school, LATE for her exam.  I know this particular child only learns when she messes up, but I find it difficult to hold my tongue. The Husband and I head out to a doctors appt in the maze of The Cleveland Clinic. We attempted to have a nice brunch ALONE after only to have my eggs delivered with a hair draped across them.  (I could scrap it off,  NO, I could cut around it, NO, I could send them back, YES, but appetite is unfortunately gone for good :(.  For some stupid reason I decide to spend the rest of the beautiful afternoon cleaning out the garage!  sit down! be quiet! do a puzzle! I do manage to meet my friends for dinner and relax until I get a phone call from The Associate begging me to come home because her orthodontic paraphernalia has popped out of her mouth.  Asleep by 10:30 I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to call the orthodontist and beg for an immediate appointment. I only have two days of peace and quiet left!!!! The woman felt my pain and told me to come right in. As soon as we are back in the car The Associate begs for donuts, because we always get a donut as a reward for orthodontia! FINE!  We are not allowed to go through the drive thru anymore because The Associate learned it was bad for the environment. I somehow manage to get her to agree to a simple glazed donut opposed to the double chocolate one that she wants and all is right with the world, until she starts to negotiate for a second and third donut. deep breath. I drop her at the front door of the school and peel out of the parking lot.  (five hours and 15 minutes) I take care of some paperwork, take care of my mind and head to pick her back up from school.  The Teenager lets me help her study for a bit, of course it is the exam that she is really prepared for because she has a great teacher and she loves it.

Thursday I dragged them out of bed and to school and I took care of my important meetings.  On my way home we crammed a bunch of teenagers in the car and they proceeded to lay around on each other, eat and zone out.  We retrieved The Associate from school and I almost immediately went into shock.  My brain stopped working. After substantial amount of time, I snapped out of it, and I realized how lucky I am, and decided to stop complaining. HAPPY SUMMER.