Sunday, April 21, 2024

Parenting & A Bottle of Ketchup


Parenting & A Bottle of Ketchup (Bonus post at the end)

Originally published on 09/22/2020 and Revised 04/21/2024

By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez, Parent/Writer/Behavioral Health Specialist

Parenting is Hard Work! 

By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez, Parent/Writer/Behavioral Health Specialist

Parenting is hard. Parenting is challenging. Parenting often knocks us sideways. Parenting needs a TEAM! World of Writer Mom loves TEAMWORK, even though I am really an introvert. I write way more than I talk sometimes. But you are ALWAYS welcome here. Please share this page. Please visit for posts about parenting, writing, and strategizing adult survival skills. I won't judge, preach, or get too sentimental. (Although my children will probably roll their eyes and laugh at that promise.) I have been known to share stories, be sarcastic, and squirt an entire bottle of ketchup on my kitchen floor just to get my children's attention. (That's a story for another time.)

I do share affiliate links but that is no obligation to you at all. I love to see the pretty boxes in my right sidebar. (Shiny, colorful beacons of quiet shopping opportunities created with introverts in mind.) I like to place promotions where they look great. If something happens to catch your eye, go ahead and take a look. Who knows...something may be interesting.

So, Parenting is hard. I already said that. But you don't have to feel alone! NOBODY is perfect, no matter how things look. Many of us drop a few "eff" words in moments of frustration. You are not doomed to damage your family if you're not 100% - 24/7 - 365 days out of the year. So, hang out here once in a while and ask me if I have a story for you to redirect those intrusive thought. And I will ask the same when needed OK? We have to take turns keeping the lighthouse lit, the boat afloat, the soup on the stove, the bubbles in our bath, the shine on our get the idea. Share your inspirational insights and let us know how you help contribute to Team Parent.

Here's the incredible "watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat" secret to this team. You might not even be a parent yet, but your contributions are no less significant. You may be the one that creates that "mom lit moment" when a parent is at their last portion of patience. Like the cashier at the drive-through window who smiles and encourages me to have a great day. Yes! Yes, Steve. I will enjoy this cheap ass sweet tea and remember you took a moment out of a busy morning of hash brown slinging and macfluffin egg sandwich presentations in that iconic brown paper bag to shoot me a smile and nod your head sympathetically as my cabbage headed children whine ominously in the back of my mini-van. (Insert breath to recover from my long-winded, run-on statement.) 

Come on, admit it. You know you were holding your breath! Who would have thought that parenting would require you to remember breathing! But there it is...that ache in your neck, the tension in your shoulders, and the sudden light-headed sensation that reminds you breathing is not always automatic. 

Here's a suggested post to get you started if you haven't read one yet: (Oh, wait. This is a post. So, here's another for you when you need a moment for yourself.) Thanks for reading, sharing, and commenting. I look forward to sharing more mom moments with you. (The name "mom" is literally the first part of moments.) 

Bonus Post

This is the story about how I used a $2.99 bottle of Heinz Ketchup to redirect my three children one day when they were arguing, loudly violating personal space, and just not responding to my love and logic parenting efforts. I was stressed for so many reasons, including what I was going to make for dinner that evening. No amount of de-escalation or requests to, "Hey, come help mom in the kitchen! I'd love to spend some time with you!" were making a dent in their armor of discord and doom.

Now full disclosure, I worked for many years in early childhood development, studied behavioral challenges and remediation strategies, and understood every bit of where each of my three children were developmentally.  IT DOESN'T MATTER!  That's all I can tell you. Ok, maybe it matters a little bit and gives your children a prayers chance that you will have an extra assortment of patience, skills, and creative ideas. But working in child development isn't the "get out of parenting hell free" card that you might think it is. It simply gives you perspective, and that perspective led me to what I am about to disclose to you.

I needed immediate response and resolution to the chaotic toddler frat house environment my children had so openly created.  Not sure what inspired me to open the refrigerator with the next scream I heard, but I had to do something to stop the throbbing in my head, and anxiety in my chest, and the fear that my children and I would remain locked in this moment forever.  I reached for a full bottle of Heinz Ketchup, the best kind, because it was the one thing I couldn't bring myself to buy as a store brand. 

I hugged that cold bottle of ketchup and sat on the floor facing the wall, with just enough space in front of my body to release that beautiful red condiment onto the floor. I started in swirls from the outside inward and then held the bottle in the middle as I proceeded to empty the container, all the while reciting a spontaneous combination of a prayer/incantation/cry for help into the universe:

"We're like this ketchup bottle. We just keep adding on and adding on to our mess. 
We open up our problems and allow them to spill out onto the floor.
It just makes more stress. 
Nothing gets solved by making more of a mess."

I'm honestly not sure what else may have been said in that moment of needing to redirect my children, but soon all three of them surrounded me. There was a mixture of amusement and concern while I continued to empty the bottle onto the kitchen floor. I have to admit, it was calming. It was mesmerizing. It changed the energy in the room. My daughter looked at her brothers, and said, "Do we need to call someone?"  Soon we were all sitting on the floor, talking about how we can be kinder to each other, and discussing how we can help each other when we're feeling stressed. Then we cleaned up the ketchup together and made dinner for the evening. 

So, this is not one of your conventional parenting techniques, and you will never find it in any child development best practices book. But it did create a memory that we still talk about, even though my children are now older and entering young adulthood. And we still use Heinz Ketchup as our preferred condiment for burgers, hotdogs, and fries. Now, we have our family story to add to our fondness for this addition to our recipes.

 Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

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Rates are negotiable.


Monday, April 15, 2024

Cherry Picking Anxiety


A Metaphor for Life's Unexpected Challenges

Originally published on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

It doesn't matter which cherries you choose from this bowl. Some of the fruit may be sweet; others could be sour.  Some still have a stem attached, while others remain free of their original connection.  But you can pretty much be sure that each one will have a pit.  It's the one thing you can assume. Knowing that one thing allows us to develop our plan. You can eat around it, take the pit out with one of those fancy cherry pitters, or cut the cherry in half to remove the center stone.  You could also choose to ignore the pit.  But then you need to be prepared to deal with the consequences of that decision too.  It's a good idea to always have a plan of action and not be afraid to follow your heart.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

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Monday, April 8, 2024

Challenges of Parenting & More

World of Writer is part of an affiliate program. This means that if you make a purchase through the links I promote on this site or on its related social media platforms, I may earn a small commission from that action to support World of Writer (Important: You will NOT be charged more when buying products through my link.)

 Challenges of Parenting & Reasons 
I Love Being a Mom ~ My List of Ten

Originally published on Tuesday, 08/13/2019
By: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Challenge #1

Teaching children how to stand up for themselves is hard.
You want them to be respectful, and you want them to be capable 
of defending themselves too. It's a fine line and requires finesse.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Reason I Love Being a Mom #2

I love hearing how my children stand up for what they believe
is right, just, and necessary.  They DO listen to me even though
some days it does not feel like they hear a word I say.
Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

 Challenge #3

 Allowing children to speak what is on their mind requires
endless patience and a willingness to let go of your own ego.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Reason I Love Being a Mom #4

I have learned that I can let go of my desire to prove I am "right"
all the time. Guess what?  Sometimes I can be totally wrong!
Children need to know they have points too. When you are
willing to relinquish your perceived control when the stakes 
are low, you are in a better position to call in 
the "Mom Card" on subjects that truly matter
 in terms of your child's physical, emotional, and 
social well-being.  Pick your battles 
or the small, insignificant crap will haunt you.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Challenge #5

Sharing your experiences, concerns, worries, and expectations often sucks. 
You want to impart wisdom in ways
 that help children develop an understanding 
of how to act and respond in today's world.
Figuring out how to manage these concepts can be tricky.
Each child processes information and assimilates it differently.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Reason I Love Being a Mom #6

 When I see how my children interact with others, 
how caring they have become,
and how much they love and respect those with whom 
they have connected, it makes me feel incredibly
 proud of the amazing young people they are.
 We are each on a journey here on earth, 
and it is so important for each of us to realize 
how we can use our gifts, talents, and interests
 to make the world a better place to live.

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Challenge #7

Exhaustion.  Sometimes I need to remind my 
children, "Mommy is a human mommy, not
an android."  We get tired too. It's part of the 
whole parenting deal. Accepting that these
moments happen is necessary. It's okay to
take a step back and admit it's time for a break.
(Sometimes that means dropping everything and
just getting on the floor to play, listen to the kids, or
watch a movie together. The dishes can wait.)

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Reason I Love Being a Mom #8

Teaching my children how to develop self-help skills,
life skills, and coping skills that will encourage them
to pursue independence is a wonderful way to build
their self-confidence.  When I see them self-initiating
tasks, it helps me realize that I am doing a good job.  
(Believe me, we still are a work in progress. But I do
feel encouraged every time someone empties the dish
washer or takes out the trash without being asked.)

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

 Challenge #9

Holidays, special occasions, and family get-togethers.
Sometimes it can be hard to live up to the
perceived expectations.  I never thought I would
be as great at pulling off birthdays, Christmases,
and other special events the way my mother could. 
She is a way better chef, baker, and entertainer than
I could ever hope to become. I have learned to be 
okay with my own way of taking care of my 
family and friends.  It is always worth the challenge.

 Movie Theater Fun ~ A rare treat

Copyright 2018 World of Writer Mom

Reason I Love Being a Mom #10 

 I have written about this many times, but it is worth
repeating for this post.  I have three bio-children 
and several kiddos I consider my "bonus children."
They have taught me to venture outside of my
comfort zone, experience a variety of adventures,
taught me to be more social and interactive...even
though I'd often rather stay at home and snuggle on the 
couch with them to watch a movie...and take the
time to have fun.  They are my constant reminders that
God, the universe, and this crazy planet have an incredible sense of humor, 
a wisdom for gifting me with these amazing children,
and the trust in me to bring them up to become 
decent humans.  World...I'm doing my best.

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

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I can also assist with written communication needs.
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Monday, April 1, 2024

Early Childhood Education - A Calling

Reflections on Early Career Choices 

Originally published on Monday, May 16, 2016, at Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree

by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

I have had opportunities to work for many types of schools in the field of Early Childhood Education over the past 20 + years.  Child Development has always my passion when it comes to a career choice.  I was fortunate enough to have amazing mentors during my very early years in this field and owe much of my continued interest in quality childcare to these individuals.  

My first experience in a "day care" setting was way back when I was eighteen years old and fresh off the Pan Am Jumbo Jet in Heidelberg, Germany. My first boss was Denise Flowers, who was kind and guided me through some rough moments as I learned the ropes as a Part Time Caregiver working with Infants and Toddlers. On the Army Military base at Patrick Henry Village there was a section of a billeting building that had been converted for childcare. I eventually moved up to working full time while I attended University of Maryland - European Division in the evenings and on weekends.  I was sometimes asked to help out at other locations, and I gladly boarded the military bus to go across town to help before attending evening classes. I couldn't get enough hours! I love working and learning about child development. 

The next director I worked with was Stephanie Morales. She had this amazing energy that was frenetic, sometimes frustrating, but very passionate about her role in providing quality childcare for the children of military service members.  We butted heads a couple of times, but I learned about management from her.  I learned that staffing needs are a dynamic process, and it is important to really get to know each person who works with you...that includes their strengths and where training challenges should be addressed. I learned that the hard way. I also learned about recycling.  One day we were driving through Kirchheim, a town with some narrow streets. We stopped at a red light right behind a Mercedes Garbage truck. There were several perfectly intact boxes sticking out of the open back. She got out of the car and had no hesitation going up to the gentlemen on the back of the truck to ask for those boxes to use at school. I will never forget her willingness to go the extra mile to commandeer supplies for our children.

When we moved to a newly constructed childcare center with a capacity for over 300 children, I was introduced to my new mentor and director for infant/toddler programming, Donna Repaty. I would not be the advocate and child development specialist I am today without her amazing influence and supervision. She was there for me as I worked through my social work degree and completed an internship with 130th station hospital - Exceptional Family Member Services (EFMS), which provided intervention and services for children from birth through eighteen who had medical and developmental needs. It was because of her and the center director, Kris Gingras, that I moved up to Infant/Toddler program director. I cannot thank those strong, incredibly supportive women enough for their guidance and encouragement. Never underestimate the power of mentoring those who are coming up in the field.

Where I am today......

I remember writing the above post, and ironically decided the go through my old posts today as I prepare for one of my assignments. I am now working toward my master's in clinical counseling degree, and this term I am taking Human Growth and Development. Reviewing early childhood concepts and theories reignited my memories from early career choices. I am forever grateful for those early mentors who coached, supervised, redirected, and provided endless encouragement during a critical period in my life. I was not only working and attending college courses, but also entering into early adulthood, with all the complicated nuances of getting my own apartment, figuring out how to be on my own after being in a large family, and being by myself in a foreign country after my father was stationed back stateside. So many warm feelings of appreciation have resurfaced as I revisited this post and reflected on my current employment situation. Wishing all employees had the opportunity to experience the mentorship that shaped my career choices from day one. 

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Elementary School Melt Downs

 Elementary School Melt Downs 
Consequences of Being A Brave Friend

Ten Year Anniversary of this Post

Originally published on Friday, March 28, 2014, at The Mother Freakin' Parent (Hood)

by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Recently my third-grade son got into the car after school and was in tears. These were tears of frustration after many months dealing with a challenging classmate. He finally reached his limit and provided his classmate with the universal sign for "leave me alone I'm tired of your @!#?"  The teacher who escorted my son to the car to explain what had gone down was sympathetic and almost apologetic that she had to inform me of my son's "communication technique". She promised to let the teacher know why this had happened so that the situation could be resolved.

I calmly informed my son that I was not upset with him and waited for him to settle down.  He told me that one of his classmates had falsely accused his friend of doing something for which she was not responsible. My son stood up for his friend and asked the other classmate to stop his accusations. When the classmate did not cease his finger pointing, my son became upset, and the conversation escalated to the point that inappropriate finger gesturing occurred.

It turned out that the "tattle tale" classmate had a long history of participating in his little game of judgments. He had a habit of falsely accusing his peers of activities just to get a reaction. I explained why some children may feel a need to act this way. We discussed appropriate dialogue and strategies to deal with such situations. The most important thing is that no matter what another child says, he should never allow himself to get so frustrated that he physically strikes out. I could see how such a situation could escalate to the point where punches are thrown, or someone is wrestled to the ground. NOT acceptable strategies.

I immediately called the school to report the incident and follow up with the appropriate individuals who could assist with this matter. I knew that the teacher in attendance during dismissal would be reporting the concerns as well. I left a message for my son's third grade teacher and for the school counselor. I gave the information that was available and also included what I hoped would happen:
"Please help the children discuss their concerns and provide them with some communication strategies to help them reach a resolution. Let me know how I can follow up with your recommendations at home."
This communication with the school was important because I wanted the school to know I was aware of the situation.  I gave a specific request for them to consider.  I also wanted the school to know I was a part of the solution to the problem and was willing to follow up with their recommendations.  The team approach was very necessary to ensure that a repeat of the situation does not occur.

I was pleased the get a follow up call the following day from the school counselor who had taken time to speak to both of the boys involved.  She made sure they knew to ask a teacher or counselor for help if they had any other difficulties with communication. Both children felt empowered to resolve their differences.  I let the counselor know I appreciated her time and quick attention to the matter.  I emphasized again how I feel that we are a team and I will continue to encourage my child to discuss his concerns in an appropriate manner.

Make no mistakes here. I am a mama bear. If I had not received a timely response to the matter or felt in any way that our concerns had not been addressed, I would have shown up in person. (I have no qualms about making an appointment with the principal or teachers involved.) The keys to ensuring that your child's voice is heard include:

1.  Use a Respectful yet Confident Voice to express your concerns.

2.  Be specific. What happened and what do you want the school to do to address the challenges?

3.  Inform the school what you have already done to help resolve the issue.

4.  What you are willing to do to be a catalyst for positive change?

5. Make sure you follow up with compliments and reassure the school that you appreciate the "Team Approach."

Advocacy for your child often involves unexpected and on the spot problem solving.  Confidently and respectfully pursue what you know is best for you child!

Additional note for the 10 Year Anniversary of this post

It has been ten years since this incident, and I am happy to report that all three of my children, including the one involved in this article, are showing signs of being excellent advocates for their peers, for themselves, and for their coworkers. Developing a sense of equitable treatment of others, ethical personal and business practices, and a sense of responsibility for self and others is a cumulative skill that requires practice. I also continue to demonstrate advocacy skills and practice communication in my personal and professional life. Although it can be uncomfortable to confront inequities, it is important to be true to yourself, represent what is right and just, and hopefully make things better for those with whom you share space on this crazy, spinning planet. We're here to support each other, and anything less than respectful interactions needs to be appropriately addressed. 

Speaking engagements & Advocacy Coaching

 Contact me at for information to schedule
a presentation, inspirational speech, or coaching session
to advocate for your personal cause or concern.
I can also assist with written communication needs.
Rates are negotiable.




Saturday, January 20, 2024

Moments for a Sunday 2024


Originally published 11/19/2017

Today's Goals:

S - Savoring these moments of peace
allows us time to
reorganize our thoughts,
prioritize our goals,
and replenish our strength
before the start of a new week.

U - Uplifting others who are 
experiencing life's challenges 
is a great way to boost your spirit.

N - Nourishing our body, mind, and soul
provides us with the energy we need
to help ourselves and help others.
Self-Care is not "selfish."
Self-Care is "self-filled."

 D - Defining our goals for the week
begins with a short list.
Find one thing each day to focus on
and write it down.
A - Avoiding the things that prevent 
successful completion of our daily goals
is another real challenge.
Every time you do something
instead of your main goal, stop!
Remind yourself, 
"This is another avoidance issue for me.
Why am I doing this?"
Y - YOU can stay on track by:
1.  Keeping your goals short and simple.
2. Giving yourself permission to get things done,
even if it's not perfect. 
3. Stop doing activities that get in the way
of your success. 

Wishing all of you another week of adventures, 
solutions to your challenges, 
and answers to your prayers.


Kindest Wishes,

c.2017 World of Writer Mom