Dear Moms: It’s Okay To Skip The Class Field Trip

Dear Moms: It’s Okay To Skip The Class Field Trip

Today I am filled with mom-guilt. Since there are more types of mom-guilt than there are Eskimo words for snow, I should probably be more specific.

Today’s guilt (or at least this hour’s guilt) is Guilt Type #26: When you have to tell your child that you won’t be chaperoning their class field trip today even though you never missed any of his big sister’s field trips. Even worse, the aggrieved child reminds you about how you used to drop him off at a daycare for the express purpose of being able to attend his big sister’s field trips (Guilt Type #37.) To top it off, you may have kind of, a little bit, fibbed (or at least exaggerated) about the excuses for missing the filed trip (Guilt Type #26.B)

Yes, I did need to take the dog to the vet to get his booster shot. Could the appointment have been rescheduled? Sure. Did I consider rescheduling it? Not really.

Yes, I also did have a tennis lesson scheduled for this morning. Did one of the other moms in our group skip practice to go to the field trip?  Yes.  Did another mom leave right from practice to join up for the second half of the field trip?  Yes. Did she offer to even drive me there?  Yes.  Am I filling the rest of my day with non-mission-critical tasks like farting around in the back yard throwing the ball with the dog, doing laundry and spreading compost on the yard instead of attending said field trip? Yes.

Perhaps it’s because it’s the Friday before spring break and this mamma has shit to do and would like to do it in a leisurely, methodical fashion vs a frantic and rushed mess.

Perhaps it’s because he’s the second kid and I SIMPLY CANNOT feign enthusiasm in the same museum that I have chaperoned dozens and dozens of kids through in previous years.

But mostly it’s because I have chaperoned dozens and dozens of kids to dozens and dozens of museums, parks, zoos, dairy farms and caves over the years and do you know how many of those kids have complained about a parent that couldn’t attend?  ZERO.  Do you know how many kids of parents who were there barely noticed the presence of said parent(s)?  Most of them. Sure, there are special cases when a child benefits greatly from having a parent, but for the most part, kids have a great time if their parents are there and have a great time if they aren’t.

I can also speak from the experience of growing up with a single, working mom who would have given anything to be the chaperone on those trips but simply could not. I never even gave it a second thought and in fact liked having the independence of being in some exciting new adventure with just my classmates. I also know from year’s of attending my daughter’s field trips that I was doing it more for my benefit than for hers.

Because I know this in my head, it makes no sense to feel guilt about falling short a “100% Parent Attendance” bar that I have set for myself over the years. So this week I stood tough and looked my 8-year-old straight in the eyes and said, “Honey, I’m sorry, mommy won’t make it to the field trip on Friday…and it’s the dog’s fault.”


Today is F-It Friday at my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook Group. To learn more about our daily micro-resolution prompts, head on over and check it out

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P.S.  I just received this photo of my son from the field trip (which he is surviving without me) with a note that she was feeling guilty being on the field trip instead of being home preparing for Spring Break.  See – there’s enough mom guilt for everyone to share!





The 10 Stages of Grief of Being Reported to the HOA Yard Police

The 10 Stages of Grief of Being Reported to the HOA Yard Police

I was recently subjected to the lowest of the low in Suburbia-shaming: I was reported to the neighborhood HOA Yard Police.

Please note, this is not an anti-HOA post. I have lived in plenty of neighborhoods where I would have gladly given up my exterior-paint-color-freedom to have an HOA that took care of broken-down cars parked in lawns. I’m particularly fond of our HOA as they have been extremely generous in supporting our school’s beautification efforts and making our neighborhood a beautiful place to live. 

My issue is the people who bypass the simple human interaction of discussing a concern with a neighbor and use the HOA to do their uncomfortable work for them instead.

In case you ever find yourself in the deep pit of despair associated with being yard-shamed by one of your friendly neighbors, who is waving, “howdy neighbor!” at you one moment, only to duck into their car and shoot off a report to the HOA about you the next, here’s my experience to help guide you through your stages of grief.

Stage 1:  See a car driving by your house slower than normal and automatically assume that they are planning a major heist to steal all of your finest Ikea furniture.  Say to yourself, “I better take a photo of this suspicious vehicle casing our neighborhood in case I need to report it to our neighborhood Facebook Group using the heading, “It Might be Nothing, BUT Keep Your Eyes Out for This Suspicious Vehicle!”


Stage 2: Witness said suspicious vehicle do a dramatic u-turn to narrow in on their target: Holy crap! I AM THE TARGET! Turn on the alarm! Hide the priceless Charming Charlie jewels! Oh wait…Upon closer inspection, realize that the suspicious vehicle is actually the Neighborhood HOA Yard Police there to respond to a complaint about your totally average, yet apparently totally unacceptable yard.


Stage 3:  Admit to the Facebook-World that your jungle of a yard is completely out of control and a danger to neighbor children and animals who could be entangled and trapped forever. Beware! Stay Away! Nay, LOOK AWAY! No one should be subjected to this level of turf-travesty!

susannekerns.comStage 4: Wonder if the complaint was actually about the weeds, or about the political and social beliefs of the woman behind the weeds who is vocal about running a pro-LGBTQ+ site called Informed Parents of Austin.


Stage 5:  Send an email to your awesome, all-natural, yard guy, who, like most yard services, is working around mother nature’s schedule because it has been raining just about every motherf*%$#g day for what feels like the past 17 months.

Stage 6: Find a letter from the HOA in your mail box two days later. Remember you’re late paying your HOA dues.  Wonder how you’re a 45 year old woman who has so many strikes against you with the HOA that you’re not 100% sure which issue this letter is about.  Open it.  It’s the yard.  Forget to pay HOA dues for a few more weeks.


Stage 7: Get increasingly ragey on the drive home from the mailbox. Pull over to the HOA common area next to your street and start taking a bunch of, “you think I have weeds, well look at YOUR weeds,” photos like an angry two year old.


Stage 8: Remember that the reason that your HOA common areas have some weeds is that they have a serious commitment to the environment and work their asses off to maintain common areas through hand-weeding and natural, non-chemical methods. Remember that this is one of your favorite parts of your HOA: that they value the environment and the health of our kids and streams over having perfectly pristine grass. Wonder why they don’t allow the same environmental commitment from their residents. Presume that they simply have to respond to reports made by other residents and probably had better things to do with their day than come take pictures of my yard.  Decide to focus rage on neighbor who submitted the complaint instead.

Stage 9: Work through rage by spending an afternoon hand-pulling weeds in the rain until you’re completely drenched because Austin, Texas is like some freakish jungle where weeds grow three inches in a day. Think of all the times that you packed up your lawnmower to go mow the grass at the school to remember that you’re not a bad person. Break your no-chemical rule and go nuclear on some weeds before they can enter your nice, next door neighbor’s lawn.

Stage 10:  Wonder if it WAS the nice, next door neighbor who turned you in. Get really sad. Remember the time she made you a platter of nice cookies for Christmas.  Decide even if it was her, the cookies make up for it.
Not actual photo. Hers were even prettier but I ate them all too fast to get a picture.

Stage 10: Complete a Kill Bill style list of all the neighbors who have ever wronged you. Realize that you actually like everyone in your neighborhood and if some stranger was concerned enough about the weeds to contact HOA without having the balls to just come talk about it, then they have issues that even the most pristine golf-course turn can’t fix.

In closing: To the neighbor who called me in, and to all of the neighbors who want to call me in but don’t: I’m trying. This whole “organic lawn care” thing was much easier in Seattle, but I’m not giving up. Also, if you think the front yard is bad, for the love of all that is holy, you better steer clear of our back yard.

Also, watch out for that whole “glass houses/throwing rocks” thing. As you look down on me from your lush lawn, remember that watering your lawn more than once a week is a violation too.  😉

Austin Watering Schedule


The moral of the story: Let’s try keeping the “neighborly” in neighborhoods. If an issue is important enough to report to the HOA, it’s important enough to do the neighborly thing and go talk to your neighbor face to face. You never know, they may be going through something that is keeping them from being able to attend to whatever issue is bothering you.

Let’s save the HOA’s valuable resources for real grievances that you haven’t been able to work out neighbor to neighbor….like that crazy lady who keeps making Bingo games out of our neighborhood’s Facebook group.


Come hang out with me at my Facebook Page – there are NO weeds there.

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How to Clean A Garage in Under Two Months

How to Clean A Garage in Under Two Months

For those not familiar with my Dusting Off My Parachute Facebook Group, each day we have a themed micro-resolution and Friday is F-It Friday, where the F can stand for Fix, as in, I’m going to fix that hole in the wall that has been bugging me for the past seven years.  The F can also stand for the more traditional F-word, and that’s when we just say F-It and give ourselves permission to permanently delete something off of our to-do list without actually doing it, because, well….F-it.

Today’s F-It Friday is brought to you by: My Garage. The F lies somewhere between the two examples above, in that I finally said, F-It, I’m finally going to Fix it before someone gets injured.

I forgot to take a photo to truly capture the depth and breadth of the donation mountain that had taken over, so I borrowed this one from the internet.

Actually, our garage is pretty organized around the perimeter, it’s the center of the garage that has become overloaded with:

  • Hoses, stored for the winter
  • Boxes from a dozen different appliances, we keep “just in case something happens and we need to return it.”
  • Piles of clothes and toys to donate or sell.
  • Broken lawn decor.
  • Outdoor cushions in various stages of being destroyed by the dog.
  • A rug covered by muddy dog paw prints that I need to have the space to lie flat and clean, but I can’t because there’s a pile of stuff in the middle of the garage.

Every time I look at it, I get so overwhelmed that I find any and every excuse to ignore it.

“I can’t sell the Playmobil castle, because it’s missing one of the knights.”

“I need to look up that doll on Ebay, because what if I donate it and it’s worth $100?”

So I just back out of there, pretending I didn’t actually need the thing that’s too dangerous to reach since it’s located on the other side of Mt. Garage.


Unfortunately, I’m running out of time for excuses.  Two years ago my husband put a down payment on a new Tesla and it is supposed to be ready in the next couple of months. Since the Tesla is an electric car which needs to be plugged in, for the first time in the eight years in our house, we will actually need to be able to park a car in the garage.

For some reason, he doesn’t like my idea of parking on top of the pile, so it’s time to address the elephant (or the pile the size of an elephant) in the room.

Since the hardest part for me is dealing with the overwhelming thought of having to do it all, I’ve decided, F-it – I’ve got a couple of months – I’m going to focus on throwing away/selling/giving away just one item a day.

Sure, I would prefer the immediate gratification of having a great before and after photo over the course of the weekend, but I would also like having the gratification of keeping my anxiety and sanity in tact.

What’s your BIG to-do item that you could break down to “one item a day”?  Say F-It, and take that first step today!


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While You’re Being a Squeaky Wheel, Don’t Forget To Keep Rolling

While You’re Being a Squeaky Wheel, Don’t Forget To Keep Rolling


As a little “Thank You Thursday” inspiration, I want to introduce the concept of a “Grateful Wheel.”

You’re probably more familiar with the concept of the “Squeaky Wheel.” You know, that’s when we try to affect change by being very vocal and squeaky about our opinions and complaints.

Unfortunately, when we’re being squeaky, it’s often when we’re fighting *against* something instead of fighting *for* something.

The thing about being in Squeaky Wheel mode is that we often confuse noise with movement. We end up squeaking in place to make ourselves feel like we’re doing something, but we’re just filling the space with our noise and negativity and causing others to squeak even louder to try to be heard.

Sure, there are times when when we need to squeak, but let’s try to balance out our squeaks by also being “Grateful Wheels.” It’s a gentle shift of going from just fighting against something to also supporting the opposite of that thing.

– Instead continually complaining about the clothes all over your kid’s floor, thank them for clearing their dinner dishes without being asked. (I need to work on this one.)

– Write a thank you letter to let a business know about an employee who went above and beyond. Maybe they’ll get a bonus and that other employee you wanted to complain about will be inspired to do better.

– While you’re boycotting a company which has policies you don’t agree with, be sure to also say thank you and show your support for a company that you do agree with.

Basically, while you’re squeaking about important things that need to be heard, make sure you’re taking time to say thank you for the things that are already rolling in the right direction.

“Thankful Thursday” is one of the daily micro-resolution prompts over at my Dusting Off My Parachute Group.  Come join us!

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