School… Check list please.

This morning at the dog park I was talking to a teacher and the husband of a teacher.

Teachers don’t drop out of the profession because of the kids. It is the parents and administrators who make them sick and tired of the crap.

Most of my readers know what parents I’m talking about. It is the crazy ass mom who constantly complains that the teacher is unfair to her little darling (evil monster.) It is that mom who argues with the professor during a field trip to the planetarium saying there are aliens living on Mars. It is those parents who teach their kids to lie, cheat, stalk, and generally act like assholes, then complain loudly about their poor little darling being treated unfairly. It is that parent who thinks her child is the most brilliant child in the world and therefore the only one who matters. You know who this mom is. She is the one who stands up at the yearly parent information night in the school multipurpose room and states how her eight year child should be talking college level math, and she wants everyone to know how special she (the mom) is.  Once my kids moved onto high school I noticed the teachers and administrators shut these parents down – or at least it seemed that way. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… Really, those hyper crazy moms are the people who suck the joy out of elementary and middle school out of the rest of us. So many times I’ve just wanted to yell, “GO THE FUCK AWAY,” but school authorities don’t look too kindly upon that sort of behavior…but they put up with…oh never mind. Anyway…

School is starting again. Summer was way too short this year.

My kids are awesome. I’m going to assume if you’re reading this your kids are awesome too (even if they aren’t Vampires.)

One of mine is getting ready for her senior year of high school. The other is a junior in college and getting ready for his upper division courses.

One says she doesn’t have time for boys. The other can’t think of anything but girls.

So I made my official 2016 back-to-school check list.

  • School supplies (Target)
  • Tell Dad what day school starts.
  • Tell Dad again what day school starts.
  • Ask kids if there is anything else they need.
  • Ask kids again if there is anything else they need.
  • And for the third (but not the last time) ask the kids if there is anything else they need.
  • Check emails for last-minute information from the school.
  • Ask the college junior why he is packing up a chain saw, and a 1968 set of the Encyclopedia Britannica to bring back to school with him.
  • Ask the college junior to please return the two pairs of panties (different sizes) to their owners when he gets back to school.
  • Tell Dad what day school starts.
  • Get extra batteries for calculators and other small magic boxes.
  • Give them both Dutch Brothers cards just because you’re the best mom ever.
  • Remind them that there are clothes that are not band shirts.
  • And last of all remind them again that their white trash thermos is ok for summer, holidays, and weekends, but not in the classroom unless it has a lid, and maybe not even then because glass shatters if dropped (a WT thermos is a large mason jar containing morning coffee when one has lost his/her travel cup.) Also remind them that it is not Mom’s fault if she knocks over the damn thing in the car because it won’t fit in the cup holder and has no lid. It is the child’s responsibility to keep their own coffee safe.
  • Ask the kids if they need anything else.
  • Tell them not to stress out. Tell them they’ll do great – even with the hard classes.

I’ll be checking my email over the next week for more information from the school. This is our last year in high school so I’m going to savor it all. I’m going to try not to get sad because, well, you know.

As the school year starts the one thing that I can stress it to listen to your kids. Let them know that it is safe to talk to you, their parent. Talk with them. Don’t take shrugs and grunts for answers. Engage them. Listen, listen, listen to them. And let them talk. Really let them talk. They’ll tell you a lot. You’ll learn something too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman









“Everything Was Easy For You” or “High School Sucks” – Musings from the Parenting Frontline

“Everything was easy for you.” I could hear Clara yelling at her brother.

He blew through AP classes with a smile. It was all fun and easy. His only problem in high school was the fact that he was always in love. Or he wasn’t watching where he was going (because he was looking at a girl.)

Clara said, “I’ve learned NOTHING since fifth grade.”

I look back and see that her Middle School was a bust. History was from the Age of Aquarius. Only a hand full (yes, about five) of kids were allowed to take algebra. That was sooooo wrong.

The school administrators listened to “Montessori experts” and reorganized the 8th grade like 6th grade. There was more or less no science, no useful math, a bit of English that was worth something, and not much else. By the time the 30 graduation kids graduated they were so sick of each other they could hardly stand it.

Yes, I loved the smaller K-8 Montessori Charter School, but in hindsight it sucked. No I would not have home schooled (I’m the parent, my child needs real trained teachers who are experts), and I would not have sent my kid to the local Middle School (mixed reviews.) Had I known I would have sent her to one of the expensive private schools – maybe.

But I sent her to a school that was safe, but the last two years the administrators were assholes and wouldn’t let the kids grow. Yes, I’m pissed off but there is NOTHING I can do about it now.

That said, life is like that. My child is brilliant so it is time to suck it up.

She gets pissed so pissed off with the feeling that half the kids in the AP classes are ahead of her. But half are below her – a fact that doesn’t matter.

The idea that people are smart in different ways came out of our conversations. The students who memorize without original thought are like the butter that comes to the top. The rest of the kids are just fed to the tigers.

But no, I say. You have to take the challenge, buck it up, deal with it, study hard, talk to your teachers after school, LET YOUR PARENTS HELP, and just do it.

By LET YOUR PARENTS HELP I mean letting them look over work and make suggestions. That is make suggestions without any eye rolling, sarcastic remarks, horrified looks, or invitations to go away. And never tell your parents that they don’t understand. They understand all too well.

By helping that means that you don’t do the work for your kid. You help, like a teacher or a study partner.

I asked Clara about forming a study with two other friends who are in one of her AP classes. She said, “I’d be studying with two kids who are as clueless as I am. We wouldn’t learn anything.”

This too shall pass. Last year she complained like this and ended up with a 3.8 GPA.

There is so much stress on teens due to the looming COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE rates. They fill up on statistics about acceptance rates and the spaces being purchased by wealthy foreign students. They are stressed to the max. Yes, they are learning valuable lessons, such as life isn’t fair no matter how hard you work, but that isn’t what I think they should be learning.

They should be learning to have passion for knowledge. They should be learning how to think. They should be learning how to have discussions. They should be discovering. Yes DISCOVERING.

This is only the first week of school so it will get better. Maybe not better, but at least more comfortable. Maybe not comfortable, but it will be fine.

The child got ALL of the classes she wanted with ALL of the teachers she wanted. They are damn good teachers too. They are the kind of teachers every high school student should have.

So what can a parent do? Just listen. Listen to the rants and raves. Don’t discount feelings that your teens have. Give them hugs. Know what is going on. Help them. If they turn away, gently turn them back. Talk to them and with them (not AT them.)

Yes, it is hard being a parent sometimes. And don’t beat yourself up. If you have a smart frustrated kid that is ok. You know you have done your best. At least your kid cares.

And not all kids have that three million word vocabulary, or can do Algebra in pre-school, or are accepted into every Ivy League College and UC.

Anyway, the sun is up and the cats want to go outside so I’m done.

Like Scarlett said, “tomorrow is another day.”



~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman (who will have more Vampire and cat and other amusing stuff later – but this IS a parenting blog.)

School starts Thursday and I’ve lost my train of thought…and my car keys.

School starts Thursday.

Last year started out as a trip to Bedlam asylum, complete with Boris Karloff. It ended out being a pretty good year with a lot of smiles and friendships that will last forever. Best of all the kids LEARNED stuff.

I wrote a 1,500 word rehash on all the weirdness of last school year. It turned into a lecture on teaching children early on and about reputation and the company they keep. All lessons based on experience and grounded common sense. See what I mean, it sounds like a lecture. Needless to say I did not post THAT tonight. You’ve been spared.

We didn’t think of the future much when we were kids. I didn’t. Maybe the boys did. I knew the future would be full of bright dreams and lace dresses and that it would all fall together as soon as I arrived in Paris with my paints. That was just one dream. I’d be educated but with little use for my knowledge, at least not at first. Save that thought. Everything you learn will be useful one day. Your brain is like a toolbox. You never know what tool you’ll need, but when you need that weird obscure tool you’ll be glad you have it.

Anyway… see, this post is leading in the same direction. Absolutely nowhere. Or somewhere, like inside of a shoebox or the back of a coat closet (no trap door to another world either, just coats, umbrellas, old guitars, blueprints and sun hats.)

So, where was I?


School starts Thursday.

It will be a good year.

Better than the year I turned 16 when one of my friends almost killed my future husband, but that is another post, another day, and another time.

Someone is asking about a misplaced backpack so I have to sign out.


~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman




Just think - your teens could be listening to this crap.

Just think – your teens could be listening to this crap.




Back-to-school and musings about growing up and being a Vampire

Due to several years of elementary school dress codes my children both abhor khaki pants and polo shirts. They both avoid khaki pants like holy water or the plague. Clara will no longer wear another polo shirt. Garrett also avoids them at all cost. But that isn’t a problem. Polo shirts and khaki pants aren’t a good look for vampires anyway.

At this point in the world of parenting Vampire Maman doesn’t really need to worry much about back to school shopping, at least when it comes to clothing. They’re at that age where they get clothes when they need (want) them. They aren’t growing much at 15 and 18.

The youngest will need to pay an exorbitant amount for a year book, get a couple of school tee shirts for PE, a student body card, paper, a new binder and binder dividers plus an assortment of pens. Much easier than the 24,000 item list from the average elementary school year.

The eldest is going off to college. That will drain our bank account and our patience (I felt the same way about kindergarten with the 3 page supply list). I don’t know what else to say. It isn’t just off to school. It is off to adult life. It is enough to give even a Vampire nightmares. It also makes us (the parents) proud.

We just got back from four nights at Lake Tahoe in a cabin with no phone service or Internet. Just like old times. It was a nice break before school started.

When we’re all alone with family and friends we spend a lot of time talking about everything under the sun. The teens are always included.

Imagine two cabins full of Vampires and their dogs. My kids brought friends. My brother had his family there (college and grad school kids and their friends), plus we had other assorted family members and friends. There were fifteen of us in all. Plus all of our Vampire friends in Tahoe dropped by.

Oh my goodness we laughed so hard some nights I thought I’d break a rib. There is no better time than time spent with Vampires.

This post is sort of a kick-off post to the fall blogging season. School is starting up again. Summer is ending. Maybe the drought will end (it rained for two days in the mountains and one down in the valley.) It is also the beginning of the holiday season – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year, not to mention quite a few other holidays of various folks that we know.

This time of year also brings a lot of talk about relationships. No relation to anything, but it always seems that way. Maybe it has to do with school starting.

Relationships are always in the front line of our world. Vampires are all about relationships, be it with each other or with our Regular Human friends (and those who aren’t really friends.)

Our children, and those who have recently become one of us, start to get, well, a bit more predatory and mature. It is just the way it is.

So  along with holidays I’ll be posting more on relationships. Romance will be a big part of it, but the day-to-day stuff will also be covered.

Even Vampires can make each other walk on eggshells and be cruel and unthinking. They can be stupid (my brother Max for example) or they can be brilliant in their choices and romantic bonds. We all have stories to tell – and I have a lot of stories.

In the meantime, I’m back… back to work, back to school activities, back to sports, off to college, back to my cats, and my life outside of the woods.

I’m also back to writing – outside of this blog. A few weeks ago I published my first short story collection on Amazon (Morning in the Vineyard), but my current projects are much larger. I’m finishing up some novels.  We’ll see what happens. They were all started long before this blog.

Teddy is busy with his business. My brothers are having adventures or misadventures of their own. The elders are needing more help. Werewolf friends and Zombies are sending me messages too. Plus there is a certain ghost I need to deal with.

August is still in the middle of the summer but sometimes it seems like fall, at least in the heart – a time of change and a time for old leaves to fall and new thoughts, dreams and experiences to grow until they take bud later in the year.

Have a good week everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman



Back to School – Tips for the First Week

TeensSchool will start in a few weeks. That is a good thing for teenage girls who always look forward to seeing how the boys have grown over the summer. Skinny kids suddenly, over a few short months, grow tall and muscular. Awkward adolescent faces become angled and handsome. Shoulders grow broad and voices deepen. This includes my 17-year-old son Garrett and his friends – who of course, being Vampires, are exceptionally handsome and strong. It is a wonder to behold – especially for the girls.

And speaking of girls, especially one who doesn’t care what Garrett or his dorky friends look like is his 14-year-old sister Clara who starts high school in two weeks.

Clara and Garrett’s Tips for the First Week of High School

  • Don’t wear all black, head-to-toe flowers, a pink tutu, rabbit costumes or anything else extreme or too weird. First Impressions are EVERYTHING. OK don’t go off on your “self expression” rant. I don’t want to hear it. We’re talking practical truths here. The first day of school is like a job interview for both fellow students and teachers. Clara knows she can’t wear her band shirts with the red and black Zombie blood on them, black jeans and black combat boots (or I won’t let her out of the house). She’ll opt for the black pants and boots with a fashionable flowered tee. Or she’ll wear her denim shorts and black shirt and combat boots or flats. The Zombie shirts and Band shirts will come later. The all black and way too much black eyeliner can be worn later but not the first week. This is real world stuff. Making a good impression on the teachers and everybody else is so important. It isn’t shallow – it is reality (think job interview). By the third week of school go ahead and let your freak flag fly high with pride. By then everybody will love you anyway (for exactly who you are).
  • Freshmen girls – don’t get involved with Junior and Senior boys. Clara (age 14) says first of all they just want to take advantage of you. Garrett (17 and will be a senior) says it makes you look stupid if you’re a senior boy and go after Freshmen girls. End of story. Don’t be stupid. Stay with kids your own age. If I have to explain this one then you ought to consider home schooling or a single sex school.
  • Boys – don’t skip. Just walk.
  • Girls – don’t show off in high heels. Your feet will thank you for wearing your Vans or flats.
  • All kids – the first week of school in a large high school can be tough. Clara is coming from a Middle School with only 33 graduating 8th graders and entering a school with almost 2,500 students. She knows about a dozen of them. So anyway IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP. If you can’t find your classroom – ask for help. If you’re lost, confused, frightened, baffled, or totally overwhelmed – ask for help. If you can’t find an answer go to the nearest teacher or to the front office. They can help – and they’ll be glad to help. It is their job. You’d be surprised how many kids feel the same way.
  • Smile (but for Vampire kids make sure not to show your fangs). Smile. Smile. Smile. Everybody likes a smile.
  • Wear sunscreen. Always.
  • Make sure you always have a pen, pencil and pencil sharpener and erasers in your backpack.
  • Don’t let anyone bully you. And don’t bully (or everyone will think you’re an asshole and you don’t want that.)
  • Listen to the teachers.
  • Don’t worry about looking cool. If you worry too much about being cool you’ll look like a dork (to the point where even the dorks think you look stupid).
  • Have fun.
  • Be open to making new friends.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Brush your teeth and use good personal hygiene (nobody likes to sit next to a stinker)
  • Join clubs. It will be fun and you’ll meet friends. Plus it will keep you connected and look great on a college application.
  • Try to learn something.

Special tips for Vampire Teens:

  • Don’t lunch on your friends – lunch with them.
  • Don’t ever show your fangs.
  • Watch for the Werewolf kids. That means protecting them from any harm. You don’t have to be friends with them but you need to help them out. They can feel isolated and shunned – so just help them out when needed.
  • Don’t fall asleep in class (I guess that goes for all kids, no matter what kind of kid they are).
  • Don’t read your teacher’s minds or do any other paranormal behavior in class. Please, know that your parents are right on this issue.

So have fun. And check out Target for cute binders. We found some great ones yesterday.

And DON'T be like THIS GIRL. Your reputation is everything ladies!

And DON’T be like THIS GIRL. Your reputation is everything ladies!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My mom blogs about vampires

My mom blogs about vampires