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Loralee Choate

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Talking about teens. And drinking. And driving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When I was studying opera in college, there was one particular person that stayed with me in my memory.

Her name was Betty.

She was much older than most of the students...probably in her late 40's.

The reason she stays in my memory is not because she was vocally gifted, she wasn't, really...I remember her because one day we were talking and I asked why she always had some kind of M.A.D.D paraphernalia on her, be it a bag or a pin or such.

Turns out that she had not one, but TWO children killed by drunk drivers.

In SEPARATE incidences, years apart.

And BOTH of the people driving drunk were underage drinkers.

I've thought an awful lot about her over the years...especially after losing my own little one.

You have a lot of fear as a parent anyway, but I think I have a LOT more fear and worry and over-protectiveness that happens since Matthew died than I would have probably had otherwise.

I've come to the internet to talk about a lot of things that worry me, especially as a parent. I've asked you if you would buy condoms for your kids, I have asked you if I should let my 12-year-old start riding the bus to go places by himself, we've discussed how to talk to your kids about things like death and religion, what to do about 'introducing' my toddler to the big brother who passed away that he will never know,  and how to get a child to be less emotionally attached to objects (Dude. I held a funeral for a balloon with a face on it that popped. It was a big problem.) And every time your feedback has been helpful to me.  There is something about broaching a subject and having a discussion with people online that is really beneficial for me in lots of ways. For whatever reason, it often helps me come to, or solidify a decision. Maybe that is why I have been blogging so long, who knows?

So, today we have another topic that has been weighing on my mind for the last, oh, FIFTEEN YEARS or so.

(To continue reading click here)

James just turned 15 and started high school this year.

In less than a year's time he will be driving.

You have no idea how much this scares the holy hell out of me as a parent.

For so many reasons.




So, here is the thing.

I was a GOOD kid in high school.

I didn't smoke.

I didn't do drugs.

(CONTRARY to the opinion of my parents who told me not long ago that "We always just assumed you were on drugs". Mmmm....k, thanks?!) (Seriously, what does one DO with that information?) (Yeah, I may be a bit eccentric at times, but damn...) (Actually, I was not only never on drugs, I was probably the most naive person in the WORLD about drugs. For reals.) (In fact, the first time drugs came on my radar I was in college, walking late at night with a group of people and someone commented "WOW, someone is hitting the marijuana HARD tonight!" and I sniffed the air and BRILLIANTLY EXCLAIMED, "Man. That smells like burning weeds." Yes. I know. )

I also didn't drink as a teenager.

(Well, that is not entirely true. I full on cop to underage drinking exactly ONCE, but I was in college.) (Not that that is any excuse, mind you.) (I totally bowed to peer pressure.) (I had a roommate from Orange County.) (Not that Orange County is full of teenage lushes or anything, but ya know...she was about a million times more experienced than the chick from Bountiful, Utah, ya know?) (She came home from a trip across the state line to Idaho with a bottle of vodka and a gallon of orange juice and I was introduced to The Screwdriver.)(Man, was I drunk.) (It was awful.) (I didn't know you were, um, supposed to drink water.)(I made a 2 HOUR drunk dial phone call (LONG DISTANCE ON A COLLEGE BUDGET, MIND YOU) to my ex-boyfriend.)(I vaguely recall alternating hysterical crying with throwing up.)(I'm also pretty sure I told the very scared looking pizza delivery guy that I wanted to have his babies.) (Or something.)(And I woke up with the most horrible and unbelievable hangover EVER EXPERIENCED.)(I literally puked for 4-days.)(It took me about 4-years before I would even TOUCH orange juice.) (And another, oh...11-years before I touched another drop of alcohol.)(So, I would say that was a freaking powerful lesson, no?)

Where was I again?

Oh, yes...teen drinking.

It scares the living crap out of me.

I have seen what happens to the lives and futures of kids who have drinking and drug issues as teens.

It's a life ruiner.

And that is if you are lucky enough to STAY alive, unlike Betty's children.

I worry that when James starts driving next year, I will think of them most of the times he walks out the door with the keys until he is back safe at home.

So, what to do?

Well, honestly...my husband and I have spent a freakish amount of time discussing things like this and I didn't really think there was much we could actually DO in this situation other then just monitor the best we could as parents.

Then I got an email that perked my interest...it was about a personal breathalyzer.

And not just a breathalyzer...it's the first one of its kind to be able to remotely access the information. Your kid blows in the straw and it takes a full face photo of the person blowing into the straw, a GPS location of where they tested, a time stamp and their alcohol level, then it's sent to a smart phone or email address within seconds:

I didn't know anything like this existed.

Pretty impressive.

And it seems pretty darn fool proof in the technology.

(Although my geeky-I-can-beat-any-system-husband wonders about that.) (But you are talking about a guy who was an EXTREMELY precocious kid who was so intellectually board that he did, um, interesting things in his youth to liven things up.) (Like taking his parent's van out at night AT THE FREAKING AGE OF TWELVE to joyride around Logan listening to Tiffany in his Member's Only jacket.) (SEE THE THINGS I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GENETICALLY WITH MY CHILDREN, DUDES?!)

And it opened up a whole SLEW of questions for my husband and I. (You know, aside from that whole "I could probably create some method to bypass it because I am just that smart and just give me time, woman!" conversation.)(Which, no offense, I just doubt highly.)

Would we use something like this on our kids? I mean...I do NOT believe that a teen's privacy is sacrosanct but...I also know that trust and privacy are important.

Talking to your kid (repeatedly) about things like this is important. My kids (right now, that is) don't strike me as kids that want to experiment with it. They are more interested in Mormonism (no drinking with that) and they lecture me when I curse. And really...where we live being sober is the cool thing to do. But I also fear it can mean being too naive about drinking (like I was) and lead to some really crappy situations, too.

Humans are humans.

Kids are kids.

And teens, as well all know, can be into things at 17 that they aren't interested in at 15.

And my kid's lives and futures are too important to just rely utterly that they would never try it...or never drink and drive.

What the hell to do?

I think after a lot of discussion I have come to a couple of conclusions. I don't think something like this product will be purchased before I allow him to drive. I have built up enough trust in enough situations that I don't think I would use it right from the get go.


I am not THAT naive...I know that if someone is that hell bent to do something, eventually they WILL find a way.

And if I had one WHIFF that there was a problem?

That he had tried drinking?

That he had close friends experimenting with alcohol? (Because anyone who has been a teen knows that your friends influence you FAR more than anything else as a teen.) (After members of the opposite sex, of course.)

AND I WOULD HAVE HIM BLOWING IN TO THIS SUCKER EVERY FREAKING TIME HE LEFT THE HOUSE. (Assuming he wasn't grounded until the end of time, that is.)

If I were a teen and I had to participate in it, I would HATE it utterly but as a parent, I don't really care how much I would have hated it as a kid.

I'd do it and have zero qualms about it.

My goal is neither to have them emerge as non-drinking adults or adults who do drink...my goal is just to have them stay as unharmed as possible legally, physically and emotionally until they become responsible adults.

I know, better than most, that at the end of the day there is only so much you can do to really protect your children.


That doesn't mean I will not freaking TRY as hard as I can, you know?

Thanks to SoberLink for sponsoring this discussion. We'd love to hear your take and experiences about teen drinking, driving and if you were also really, really stupid in college. Or ya know...when you were twelve. ;)

P.S. My husband would like me to clarify that not only was he very stupid and young at twelve, but that he is now an EXTREMELY upstanding and responsible person who never drank underage nor did drugs of any kind.

P.P.S. I am also supposed to mention that he was NOT "joy riding" around Logan. His parents were out of town and he wanted to return an overdue video and his bike tires were flat. (It conjures up images of Anthony Micheal Hall having a fake ID to vote, no?)

P.P.P.S. Sigh...AND he neither owned a Members Only jacket NOR listened to Tiffany.

P.P.P.P.S. Way to ruin a perfectly AWESOME visual image with honesty, Jonathan.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. ;)

MasterCard MarketPlace: A smarter way to shop online. Win a $100 MasterCard from BlogHer!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This is a sponsored review from BlogHer and MasterCard MarketPlace.

I have always had to be very money conscious when I shop and I am always on
the look out for ways to stretch a dollar or nab a great deal.

I have fallen IN LOVE with online shopping. There is no better place PERIOD
to find the best bang for your buck. So, I was very excited when BlogHer
offered me the opportunity to check out MasterCard MarketPlace.

It's a pretty sweet site, people. It's very easy to sign up, their tutorials
and help section is excellent and holy deals GALORE, Batman! There are great
savings that happen all year round, but there are some especially great
deals during the holiday season.

FOR example...I was having fun, browsing around, when I saw that there was
an offer for Buy.com.(I love this site.) I clicked over and lo and behold!

I saw them.

Diamond stud earrings.

I have wanted diamond stud earrings for as long as I can remember
(especially wrapped up under my Christmas tree!) but I have never been able
to afford them.

And there was a GORGEOUS pair that retailed for $500 that had been marked
down to $99 bucks. (This offer was available when my post went live but may no longer be available.)

With all of my discounts, I ended up with 1/3 carat diamond earrings for $75 bucks.


For the holiday season every day (until December 24th) at 1pm EST,
MasterCard® cardholders can take advantage of Holiday Overwhelming offers
(OO) at 50% off on top brands by registering at MasterCard MarketPlace.

It's Black Friday 7-days a week, people.

Since these offers go so quickly, so I would recommend signing up for the
email alerts to get notice of them in your inbox. (Also, practice typing...some of
these offers go FAST and typing the word verification in time can be

Like I announced in the title, BlogHer is giving away a $100 MasterCard (and
just think how much further it would go on MasterCard MarketPlace, y'all!)

Check out the official rules on BlogHer and make sure you go here for more
chances to win!


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment
on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on
this post

d) Read the official rules for alternate form of entry.

Sweepstakes ends 5 PM PST on December 31, 2010.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.

Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.

You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be

The Official Rules are available here.

Win an iPad from BlogHer!

Monday, December 20, 2010

This is a compensated review by BlogHer.

I'm totally stoked to be a part of BlogHer's iPad giveaway.

As many of you know, BlogHer recently re-designed their site and added a whole bunch of new features and improvements. (Please ignore the eleventyhundred tabs I keep open at the top of my browser, m'kay?)

I'd like to tell you about a couple of them that are my particular favorites.

Series and Features: I love this. I actually did a series on homeschooling for BlogHer and I like that there are things that are not just stand alone posts, but a series of information that we can look forward to and rely on.

She vs. Her: I LOVE this addition. It's when two bloggers take opposing sides to an issue and everyone talks and discusses it and how they feel. I am VERY excited to announce that I will be doing the first "She vs. He" at the end of the year with BackPacking Dad. (So keep your eyes peeled, people!)
Most Popular: This is probably my favorite addition to BlogHer. It tells you which posts are hottest in regards to comments, traffic and "sparkles" (favorites) from readers. It is handy to quickly check out what 'the buzz' is in the BlogHer world!

I LOVE BlogHer. And I hope that you do, too! And if you don't, I hope you get to know it better, because I think you'll fall in love with it, too. It's a terrific community and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of it!

Now for the fun part! BlogHer is giving away an iPad. Click here to enter and read the rules. It runs until December 26th! Good luck! I hope you win!

COMMENTS OFF (You know, so you can go enter over there!!!)

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Thanksgiving Holiday Traditions: $100 Visa Gift Card giveaway from Welch's

Monday, November 08, 2010

This is a sponsored post from BlogHer and Welch's.

Is your family big on holiday traditions?

Mine is.

And I am fond of many of them, really.

Especially the ones we have on Thanksgiving. Christmas Eve is my number ONE favorite night of the year, but Thanksgiving is a close second. It has everything, really...family, fun, tradition and pumpkin pie.
We do NOT watch football and we DO assemble huge puzzles, lounge about, laugh, and it is, of course, the time that we break out Christmas Carols and sing and then that night we always (usually) (some of the time) (really it is highly dependent on my sanity and preparedness level) set up our Christmas tree and decorate the house.

Most important on the list: EAT.

My family is HUGE on food. And even HUGER on PIE. (I don't care what you say, Webster. 'Huger' is TOTALLY a word.)

We have simple tradition in my family: We only make pumpkin pie.

LOTS of pumpkin pie.

About 2-3 dozen every Thanksgiving, depending on the year and my mother's energy. Again, they are all pumpkin. I DO make 2 chocolate pudding pies on my own time because my husband doesn't like pumpkin pie.

(I KNOW, right?!)

(I seriously don't know how he copes.)

(Although, that also means there is more pie for me, so really, I think I'm OK with it.)

This is one of my very favorite holiday traditions and memories: making pie for thanksgiving with my mother and sisters. It began the way most of the truly memorable and loved traditions in families start...by all being together and doing something that brings you closer as a family unit. We all love pie, my mother makes the best pie crust on the planet and working together to make the quantity we consume takes teamwork and includes lots of love and laughter. (Unless someone is really cranky. But then we just through little balls of pie dough at one another until the bad mood goes away. You should try it sometime. Pie dough wars can be hugely therapeutic.)

We start making pies about 3-days before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving breakfast is ALWAYS a slice of pie.

(Hush. It's fabulous, y'all.).

(I probably shouldn't mention that I LOVE, err...'sampling' the pumpkin pie mix.)

(Yup, you heard me. I could drink it by the cupfuls.)

(Again, hush! Do not knock until you've tried it.)

(And no horror stories about salmonella, either!)

(If I die from it, I die a happy, happy woman!)

(Is it weird that I love this and loathe eggnog?)


Where were we again?

Oh, yes! Holiday traditions!

I love the family traditions we have. Well, I love MOST of the holiday traditions we have. But there are a couple that I am very decidedly NOT fond of. One of them being...(looking around to see if maternal parental figure is somehow lurking around the shadowy corners of this blog)...my mother's annual "Red Punch".

I. cannot. stand. it.

The recipe is straightforward. Take 2 liters of fizzy lemon-lime soda and dump a big bottle of Hawaiian Punch Concentrate into it.

Now, look, I am not out to be hating on Hawaiian Punch, but I just DO NOT LIKE this punch. I didn't as a child and to be honest, the feeling hasn't diminished with my advancing age over the years.

Every year we beg her to make something else, but no...Thanksgiving is at her house, her recipe stands.


We are having Thanksgiving at my brothers.


I'm really excited to try something new, and as it happens, Welch's and BlogHer came around just in time to save my punch-making heiny for Thanksgiving. When I buy juice, it is almost ALWAYS Welch's and I love these recipes. Growing up in a non-drinking household, we buy Welch's sparkling juices a lot for holidays. All the fun fizz, without the alcohol. And I am grateful that there are so many options I can make and serve at the various family gatherings we have over the holidays.

I'm really leaning towards making their Sparkling Cranberry Punch to take with me to Thanksgiving dinner. It looks divine and a huge improvement on the red punch of yesteryear.

I admit, I am a tiny bit sad about losing the red punch of my childhood as a family tradition but VERY excited (and ready) to start a new tradition. Isn't that what it's all about when you have a family of your own, anyway? Incorporating existing traditions to new ones?

As I mentioned, I am giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card in this giveaway. (YAY!)


Make sure you check out the other holiday stories on the BlogHer roundup page for 11 more chances to win! Don’t forget to check out my review post next week for 2 more chances to win!

For a second entry, you can:

1. Tweet about this post with a link to it (and put your tweet URL in a separate comment below)
2. Blog about this post with a link to it (and put your blog post URL in a separate comment below)
3. Follow this link and provide your email address and your response to the sweepstakes prompt.

Sweepstakes ends 5 PM PST on December 31, 2010.

For Official Rules click here: http://goo.gl/PPqgR.

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Younger Brother, World's largest snitch!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Each comment left on this post benefits DoSomething.org with a $0.50 donation!

My husband and I are big on trust with our children. We have been talking about it to them since they were little. When they are caught lying or when they make poor choices, they know that along with a consequence we let them know that it hurt our trust with them. We have also made it clear that the amount of freedom we allow them as teenagers will not depend on their ages, but on our level of trust with them.

We gave my 14-year-old his first cellphone last year. His 11-year-old brother is currently trying very hard to prove to us that he is responsible enough to have a phone soon. He is not quite there with us yet. I honestly thought 13 was too young for our son to have a cell phone but he had legitimate need for it as he travels by bus to get to his father's house for visitation and to wrestling practice and we need to be able to reach him.

When we got it for him we told him that how he handles the use of his phone will be a huge chance to show us how responsible (or not) that he is. We also reminded him that it would behoove him to be as responsible as possible when it comes to his phone because 16 is not too far off for him. Turning 16 may mean that they have the legal right to drive, it does NOT mean that they automatically get the RIGHT to drive.

And if he cannot be responsible with a cell phone, I told him his father and I would have major doubts about trusting him with a car. And we would have an even harder time trusting him with a cellphone IN a car. We've had the "texting and driving" talk. He's a few years off from it, but I figure it can't hurt, right? Since more and more studies seem to show that teens don't equate texting in the same realm as driving under the influence (and since it is a much more socially acceptable thing and habit than teen drinking might be), we repeatedly tell our kids that texting and driving impairs you as much as driving under the influence or sleepy driving.

We are also training his younger brother to be the world's largest snitch.

My kids already know that texting and driving will result in huge consequences. Huge consequences meaning they will not have the privilege of using phone nor car if they do it. And they may be locked in a tower until they turn 40*. It may sound strict and mean and horrible to them, but I am ok with that as long as my kids stay alive and in one piece.

How do YOU handle teen texting and driving? I'd love to know. Not only will it be a great conversation butDoSomething.org (an organization that uses "the power of online to get teens to do good stuff offline") will receive a $.50 donation for each comment on this post up to a total of $5,000, so I hope you will join in and comment your heads off, peeps!

*The tower thing is probably negotiable. Maybe.

Visit LG Text Ed and read tips from Dr. Joel Haber on how to teach our teens to turn off their mobile phones before they start their car. You can also watch Emmy award winning actress, Jane Lynch, as she teaches parents how to talk to their teens about the dangers of texting while driving.

DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the US that helps young people rock causes they care about. $0.50 donation per comment on any "LG Text Ed - Moms Discuss Teens and Texting" post, up to $5000 total.

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