I know this seems like a weird post to post right after all that lovey-dovey Christmas stuff, but this has been a draft forever and I may as well just get it all off my chest πŸ™‚ 
Here are my pet peeve confessions.
1)  It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard when I see these cups.  They drive me nutty.    

I know everyone has their vices.  Mine is chocolate chip cookies loud and clear.  I totally get that some people love soda.  But the cups just drive me crazy.

2)  Our high school has only full-hour lunches available so a lot of kids opt out of lunch so that they can get in the credits they need.  Teenagers need a break in the day!  I think they perform better when they have a little while to unwind during the day.  And that social time helps unify the whole school!  When I was in high school lunch was it.  That’s really the biggest thing I remember.  Sure, I remember things like an awesome teacher here and there, and I’m grateful for all I learned, but that lunch hour made school interesting.  Different groups of kids got to mix together, kids branched out or even just observed other kids.  Sociality is part of education if you ask me.  Especially when this generation spends so stinkin’ much time on technology.

I know I’m not in charge of schools around here, but boy howdy if I was, I would have two or even three overlapping lunches that would be only 35-45 minutes (that’s what we did at my high school).  And I would have a rule that kids put away their technology and actually talk to each other face to face during that time.

Yes, that’s in my dream world.

3)  I would also vote for bringing back lockers here in the desert because seriously, I loved having a locker.  I feel bad for these poor kids lugging around all their books all day.  And there’s nothing to decorate on birthdays πŸ™‚

4)  On a different topic, this happens all the time around here:

Kids put our water filtrating pitcher back in the fridge with a quarter inch of water at the bottom.  I promise it’s really not that hard to fill up.  Leave it out if you must, but don’t put that thing back empty!

5)  That I have to fumble through my bag and pull out my Costco card to show the people every single time I enter in that place.  Come on people, you have to know me by now!  I am in there like every other day and I could probably call everyone who works there by name at this point.  Besides, what would be the point of sneaking in without a card anyway?  You have to have one to check out, right?

Just let me walk into the store in peace I beg of you.

6)  Dirty socks.

All over.

That’s all I have to say about that.

7)  Ok, my last pet peeve (at least that I’ll complain about today…) is that it doesn’t seem like schools require hardly a stitch of reading these days.  I mean, seriously, Max, as a sophomore last year, read two books!


And they didn’t read them at home, they read them as a class together at school.  Is that a normal trend now or is that just how they do things here in the desert?  Are my kids going to even know how to read a decent book when they graduate?

I talked to a couple teachers why this is the case and do you know what they said?  They said that they’ve found that “kids these days just won’t read.”  What??  What happened to requiring them to read?  Now we just let kids do whatever they want?  They need more time to text and Instagram things??  We’re too worried to step on toes to actually have a reading list?  Do we have to pay for private schools to actually expect the best?

These kids are the future of our country.  Reading is SO important!  My kids think I am the meanest mom in the world that I make them read for a half hour each day outside of school.  A half hour?  When we went in to the Jr. High meet-the-teacher night Grace almost crawled right out the door in embarrassment when I asked her English teacher about his reading schedule and what was required.  But this is a big deal!  Why are we not reading more?!

I know, I know, as a parent I can require reading at home.

And I do.

But it’s different when it comes from school.  And it changes an entire generation if they are readers.

Ok, I must excuse myself while I go clean up dirty socks strewn around the house and fill up my water filtering pitcher that I’m sure is sitting empty in my fridge.

Oh man, life is oh so good, but sometimes you just need to let off a little steam:)


  1. I wholeheartedly agree about the reading pet peeve! Mine too! My kids have reading time every single night. And every now and then just to mix things up, I ask them to choose a biography, or their favorite animal, a far away place, etc. Good to know that I'm not the only "mean mom". πŸ˜‰

  2. I'm with you on the dirty socks! Can't we just all wear flip flops all the time?! πŸ˜‰

    As for the reading, my younger children read more than my high school kids. It really is a shame because at their age, I always had my nose in a book and still do.

  3. The reading thing is REALLY strange. My children went to high school in California and now Hong Kong. They have always had extensive reading assignments. My youngest daughter is in her Senior Year of High School, and so far this school year alone she has read 6 books. ??? My kids love to discuss the literature that they have read in classes. They love Shakespeare and the classics as well. Maybe you can supplement your children's reading?

  4. My kids have to read…a lot. I think my high school junior has at least 9 novels we had to buy for this school year! My 8th grader has read at least 4 books this year, and the younger ones read all the time as well. I agree, it is very important!!!! Good for you, Shawni!

  5. Why not have a second pitcher? Or prefilter water and put in a gallon container on the counter to add to the fridge container.

    I don't understand the credit thing and skipping lunch. I had 7 periods in a school day and had to include religion, two years of foreign language and sill get in 4 years of math and english, three years of social science and science, four years of music, some classes for electives.

  6. The Costco thing used to drive me crazy as well. Last year I was so bugged I finally asked the greeter why I have to show my card at the door when I'm only going to have to show it again to check out. She said if they didn't ask to see the membership card at the door then people would come in just to look around and hang out and there would be larger crowds. Ugh! Makes sense but I still hate pulling it out. πŸ™‚ The reading thing surprises me! My oldest kids are only in 2nd and kinder, but they're both required to read 30 minutes every day and I need to sign each day off. My 2nd grader then needs to write a weekly summary of the book she is reading. Perhaps you guys can sit down together and look at book reviews on Amazon and the NYTimes Bestsellers list. I do this with my 8 year old and she gets crazy excited about reading a book or series once she has read reviews and knows a bit more about the book before reading it. I also created a Goodreads account for her and she gets *a lot* of satisfaction each time she adds a book to her virtual list of books that she has read. She's still young and of course it can change once she is a teenager, but for now she loves looking at books on Amazon and Goodreads and participating in that community.

  7. For encouraging reading, I collect fun books as I see them at Sam's or Costco throughout the year and store them up for Christmas. By Christmas we usually have 50-60 books stored up. They are one of the gifts my kids get the most excited about at Christmas. I've asked them why they enjoy the books so much and they said that with other gifts, the newness eventually wears off, but with so many new books to read, they know that gift will keep giving for several months, if not the whole year! So fun! I find out which new series are great by asking friends on Facebook and by reading reviews on Amazon. Oh, and I buy a lot of books on Amazon for really cheap. I just make sure they are at least "Like New". Making reading really fun at home keeps me from worrying about how much reading they are doing at school.

  8. I loved this post! Many of those things are on my pet peeve list too! I agree about the reading. My daughter is in 6th grade (still elementary here) but there is no required reading for them like there was up until 5th grade. The only reading they've done in 'reading' class is a book they read together that took the class forever. I am also the mean mom making her read each day.

    And my husband is also included in the putting empty water/oj bottles back in the fridge so be happy it's just the kids. πŸ™‚

  9. I'm in Illinois and although there are things that bug me about our schools our kids do have a lot of reading assigned to them which I'm really happy about. On the younger levels they require at least 5 night of reading (at least 30 min each) that has to be signed off by parents and turned in every Monday morning. They also offer an optional reading list (http://www.rcyrba.org/pdf/2014%20MasterList.pdf)that students can read throughout the school year. Those who complete the reading list are recognized and awarded at the end of the year in front of the school with a trophy which seems to motivating for the kids.

  10. Reading!! Ugghh…why isn't this more important in schools.

    On a similar note, our local middle and high schoools encourage the children to print or type papers. NO cursive. They have short lessons in 4th grade on cursive and then after that they are encouraged not to use it. So basically if they don't grasp it in the time alotted they won't learn it in school.

    So frustrating especially for the kiddos that dont' have the needed support at home.

    …and dirty socks! Why can't they be disposable! πŸ™‚

  11. are you kidding me about no reading? here in northern california our kids have DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) in jr high and high school. the amount of time varies from 15-20 minutes. kids are expected to bring a book, that is NOT a textbook, and READ…the whole time. teachers have books for students who think not bringing one will get them out of it. and it is 'be quiet and read' time. period.

    wow, and no reading as part of their English curriculum either? i'd be speaking up at my school board meetings, and writing letters to the principal and English department head over that one. in the first semester alone this year my daughter, a junior, has read 5 or six books already. classic novels.

    good thing your children know of your passion for reading.

  12. Hah! You made me laugh as I have some very similar issues. My kids just drop their socks wherever they happen to be and do the water thing too! That is crazy your school only had two books on the reading list! I would write some letters like another person commented, or go to the school board!

  13. I share a ton of your pet peeves. And I think the same thing you do every time I enter Costco. Is that really necessary? The answer: it's not. I've decided to think of it this way: I am helping somebody have a job by showing them my card. It makes me feel better, but it still drives me NUTS.

    Second, like others, your reading comment made me so sad. How is that possible? We were required to read books constantly, and that task, along with my mom's programs (more on that in a minute) taught me to love and crave books. And I think reading should be a required life component. The very act teaches you to speak well, write well, and express feelings better. But all of that aside, it teaches greater empathy, because through books we are able to step into other people's minds, experiences and lives. I am an attorney today because my mom taught me to love words and writing.

    One idea, my mom was an English teacher and we still refer to her as our very own academic Nazi. Her standards were far more strict than the schools I attended, and she single-handedly taught us (me and my four brothers)to read and write. During the summers we had reading lists and we had to complete the books and answer questions she prepared, write essays, and have discussion groups in the car with her on the way to practices.

    If we went on a trip, she required we read historical accounts of the places, and if there were books that were associated, we had to read them.

    Before our first U.S. History class in middle school, she and my dad would take us to Washington D.C. where we would enjoy a whirlwind trip of historical places and sites. We would start at 7 a.m. and wouldn't be in bed until after midnight. We all anticipated the trip, but complained that the reading list we were required to complete prior to leaving was exhausting.

    We were required to keep journals and free-write. She also worked diligently to critique our writing. Growing up, I thought all parents did the things she did, and now I know how lucky I am. She also didn't flinch or reward us when we graduated from high school. She told us that she was proud of us, and that she wanted to see what we could do in college and graduate school. I didn't even know that college and graduate school were not options; they were absolute expectations in my home.

    I am so grateful every day to a mother who valued education and drove us to learn. I appreciate so much that she taught us to love books. My favorite app in the world is Audibles. To this day, my family shares an account so we can download and listen to the same books throughout our busy days, and discuss them with each other, over emails, etc. We all live in different places in the world and still love to connect through books and reading.

    I also am grateful and appreciate how much energy it took from her. We were obstinate and bratty and complained, and she still persevered, when any sane human being would have quit and let us argue with each other about chores. Left to our own devices, we would have been lazy children glued to a television, but somehow she has turned out two doctors, two lawyers, and a business guy who love education and books. We all owe our love for learning to her and we all know it.

    Thanks for being such a dedicated mom and sharing all of your good ideas. You are in the thick of the arguing and fighting and molding, and only years for now will they be so thankful for all you do during these thankless years. You are awesome!

  14. I always find crazy the short time you allow for lunch break in the US, in France we have to have at least 1h30 or 2h to eat… So we can go home for lunch, or eat at the school cafeteria at school (we can't bring stuff from home to eat at school). This way you actually have time to seat, enjoy your meal, talk to your friends, relax… But we often have classes until 5 or 6pm, i guess we would go crazy without a real break in the middle of the day…
    ANyway, it's always interesting to see the cultural differences!

  15. I also heard that kids aren't learning to write cursive anymore. Schools are saying that it's not needed because everyone types everything now. Seriously? My husband and I have agreed to teach our kids cursive at home. I can't believe they're not learning it in school!

  16. I had to carry my books around my last few years of HS because our school was being remodeled (finished right after we graduated, of course…) It wasn't fun and I even had a car trunk to hold half of them so I could switch at lunchtime.
    Meanwhile, my kids have lockers in kindergarten. Real ones without combinations, but still!
    Don't they do real book reports? I suppose the thinking could be that it's too easy to bring someone else's work.

  17. We do not have lockers in Southern California and it drives me crazy. They need to carry their lunch around with them all day. Girls cannot keep any "extra" things in their lockers, so that goes in the backpack.

    Reading bothers me too!! It stops in middle school. My daughter has an honors Language Arts class and they read 6 books. I was so excited; however, they do NOT read the entire book. Just portions. Our high school does has a program that requires each class to have sustained reading time once a week. Again, most kids do other homework or social media during this time. UGH!! I still make my kids read every night too:)

    I hear you with the Costco card!

  18. The reading thing makes me sad!! I'm a 5th grade elementary school teacher, and my students are required to read 20 books (at least 100 pages long) each year. This is the bare minimum, but I challenge my students to read 50 books. Only a few meet this challenge, but on average, most of my students read 30-40 books each year. I know our middle schools require a lot of reading as well. I sure hope that trend isn't disappearing once they hit high school!

  19. I totally hear you on the locker thing. While our kids don't have to cart around their textbooks (each classroom carries and copy and they have one at home) their backpacks are still HEAVY from all those notebooks and other stuff they have to cart around because they can't just leave it in the locker.

    Our high schools have just one lunch that is 40 minutes long, I can't imagine skipping lunch to take another class? However, nowadays it is so much more competitive for college applications that I could see some kids wanting that extra edge (my son is considering taking summer school this year to give him time for more classes next year).

    As for reading, I have no idea how much my sophomore son reads in class. I do know we had to buy two books for English last year that they read and they have DEAR where he is expected to read as well. Thankfully that kid likes to read so I'm not too concerned (my younger one coming up is the one that needs to be forced to read–thankfully the junior high still forces 30 minutes every night of reading and 15 minutes of DEAR every day).

  20. You would love this article on what reading as children does for us as adults:


    Totally agree with you, Shawni, and no, lack of reading is not just happening in the desert. Lucy has been in sixth grade for an entire semester (a gifted and talented sixth grade, mind you), and she has not yet had to read a single book for school.

    Not one!

  21. I just stopped showing my Costco card. One days one of the greeters said, "I see you have your hands full. Don't worry about it. " and since I was shopping with my two Littles I agreed with him. πŸ™‚ Now I just waltz in like I own the place. Are they going to bounce you if you walk past? Maybe my Costco is just more laid back. Our greeters have a counter they click when we walk in, but it's usually just the same 4 or so people greeting. I dare you to introduce yourself and next time say, "Hey Bob! How you doing? Just getting some milk." and walk right in. Snicker.

    As for water. AMEN on that and so I make my husband actually change the filter in the fridge twice a year and we get our water and ice from the fridge door. The pitcher was too small for my water-consumption needs and took up too much precious fridge real estate. I can't wait for that thing to get cold.

    Completely disagree with you on those cups. I hate soda, but once the cup is empty I reuse an reuse and reuse those foam things with just water. They keep beverages so cold… If you are just annoyed by people leaving their crud in your car, begin stating to your family, "Grab two things" every time you get out of the car and be an example of constantly removing stuff each time you get out.

  22. Hello! Just started reading your blog! A friend had been telling me about it and I finally came on-and I know you and some of your family! How fun!
    As you know I am a former teacher, and I wholeheartedly agree with the reading issue. And sadly, so many teachers have their hands tied. This article was sent to me from a friend and when I read it I thought the author was telling MY story. It is completely accurate.


    (And I am in NO WAY insinuating that the parents spoke of here are like you! Or the majority of parents in general.)

  23. Oh my HECK I agree on the Costco thing!!! My husband switched us from Sams to Costco because its 10 minutes closer and I cannot WAIT for this year to end!!!
    And, my 6th grader has to read 40 books at home this year. My only complaint with that is that they have so many required for each genre. I have no problem with trying new genres, I have a problem with my child refusing to continue a series because he's filled that genre's quota. πŸ˜› And he IS a reader!
    I guess that's my dream world since we're not quite to the technology… πŸ˜‰

  24. My girls (both in high school) are required to read several lengthy books each semester for English/lit class. It is at-home reading. In-class time is for discussions and essays and group work involving the books. They only have 25 minutes for lunch, though. Thankfully, they have lockers and the girls can bring purses/boys a small string bag to class. This is in MD.

  25. Bless your heart – my BF can't refill our glass water bottles in the fridge – grr! He puts almost anything in the fridge with a smidge left.

    I solved the water bottle one, now he has 'HIS' bottles (with a sippy bit) and I just plain won't refill them. So if he wants water, it's on him. It's working!

    Amazingly, he's good with socks, bad with boxers, as he takes them off when I'm sleeping and he showering, and doesn't bring them into the clothes hamper in our bedroom. But I'm just as guilty of this after my run in the mornings, when HE is sleeping, so I can't complain!

  26. I am a kindergarten teacher and it drives me crazy that my teenage sons don't read more. Check out this video about a high school teacher that lets her students read what they want to read instead of assigning them books to read. YouTube: Why Students Don't Read What is Assigned in Class

  27. – I am a long time reader of your blog (probably embarrassingly long time reader) but love learning about raising a family through your stories and family experiences.
    – I went to Greenfield Jr. High and Highland in Gilbert and we always had a long list of required reading for over the summer that we were tested on during the first week of school and then read many books during the year, at home, to be tested on or write essays on as homework or an in-class test of sorts. I loved it though.
    – I LOVE your blog showing the process of building your new home. Not only are you making choices with each step that solidify that you are building my dream home too, but comments about the build make me miss AZ badly since a lot of the things you can do there aren't as practical in northern Utah.

  28. Nobody uses lockers here in Vegas either. They have them, but they all carry everything in their backpacks. My son's back and shoulders have been hurting him alot. It's probably totally messing up his alignment carrying that heavy thing all day!

  29. Nobody uses lockers here in Vegas either. They have them, but they all carry everything in their backpacks. My son's back and shoulders have been hurting him alot. It's probably totally messing up his alignment carrying that heavy thing all day!

  30. You actually filter the water and then put the water in gallon containers, then from the gallon containers you put water in a non filtrate pitcher in the fridge. You make enough to last until the kid has to do that chore that evening or that week.

    Or put a water filter right on the faucet.

  31. Way to solve the locker dilemma?? – my son is in Middle School – they have lockers and don't use them either (to cut out wasted time going to the locker & the maintenance) BUT they have a second set of books at home! They are issued their books when they register at the end of summer & are responsible for them. Second set of books are in the classrooms. He attends a school with 1500 children for 7-8th grade! It totally works!

  32. You should move to Australia! At school students have an hour long lunch break and thirty min recess break and all students have it at the same time – no opting out. Unless there is sport training or something once a week. Plus we have lockers. Haha, would fix two of your seven pet peeves!

    Love your blog πŸ™‚

  33. As an elementary teacher, I hate to hear that about the reading. Yikes!!! I know in my county that is not the case in our high schools. Our super int. would not let that happen. That is surely a big pet peeve!!

  34. I graduated HS in 2000, and the reading thing was definitely not the case. We had a TON of reading to do. In fact, high school was definitely harder than college. I also know that is still the case at my alma mater. I agree with a few of the commenters here – you should protest that and get in front of the school board etc. My cousin is currently an English teacher at a low-income NYC public school, and her kids do a ton of reading. Not all of them do it I'm sure, but they are definitely assigned a significant amount of reading. If that can be expected of students in an inner-city school it can *definitely* be expected of students in a community where parents are involved and have the time and means to spend energy and money on their kids' education!

  35. AMEN on the Costco card! We only have a Sam's where I live πŸ™ but it's the same and it drives me NUTS! And what's worse is having to show your receipt on the way out. What other store does that?!

  36. YES–thank you for the perspective on reading. I teach 11th grade English in Denver–my students are assigned reading every night, and must come knowing the material and take a quiz when they get to school to pass. I wish all parents had your attitude!

  37. We don't have a Costco, but we do have a Sam's Club. My husband refuses to show them his card. He just walks straight past the card-checker without looking at her, and if she happens to stop him, he says he's going to Customer Service to get a card. I think it is so funny.
    As for the reading, I have spent the last two weeks substitute teaching an 8th grade English class, and the whole time we have listened to a book on tape. The AR Reading Level for the book is 5th grade. The kids are supposed to follow along, but they don't. When I asked the teacher why she does it this way, she says it is because the kids don't have the reading skills to read it on their own. I wonder how they are ever going to develop those skills if we don't expect them to read. The crazy thing is that my elementary kids are expected to read every day for at least 30 minutes. I don't know why we suddenly stop expecting it in junior high. So, yeah, it isn't just you guys in the desert. Sorry for the novel. This is more of a soapbox than a pet peeve for me. All I can say is, if you have a child who resists reading, find something interesting and read it together. (Easier said than done). That's the best way to encourage reading in kids of any age.

  38. No lockers? No lunches? They certainly do things different there.

    I agree with everything else, too. Except the soda cups. I don't drink much soda, but the cups don't bother me. πŸ™‚

  39. I totally agree with you about the reading. I am trying to raise readers and I need help from the teachers. I will admit that I would put the pitcher back in the fridge pretty much empty. Sorry!

  40. As far as the reading thing goes, I would say that your school needs to reassess this issue. We are stationed in Germany and our two kids attend school on post (DoDEA schools). My son is a 6th grader and is required to read 25 books of their choosing for the school year as a part of Language Arts. The completion is worth 40% of their grade the final grading period. My daughter, a 3rd grader, is required to read 30 minutes a day, including weekends. During the summer I have them both read for an hour a day. I would find some like-minded parents and approach your school administration. Kids that tend to read little, typically, don't ever develop a love for reading. Kids who don't learn to love reading tend to become adults who don't read much.

  41. I teach I'm Wisconsin and our district requires 60 minutes at least of kids reading to self/ small groups. We also require 1 hour of writing and we have 25 minute lunches.

  42. The water pitcher!!! Same thing at our house!!! Ahhhh!!! And FYI, I pulled that darn card out at Costco every single time (and it made me batty too, bc I usually have a kid on my hip!!)… but I finally just STOPPED getting it out, and walked in like I owned the place (just keep walking!!!), and they never say a word!! It's so true! You have to have your card to check OUT, so it doesn't matter!!! Be a rebel, and try it. πŸ™‚

  43. I feel like I should comment in defense of teachers. I taught for 5 years at a charter school in Gilbert. Before I started teaching I would have said the exact thing you did. It would be a requirement and thats that. In reality it doesn't work that way. To require something that so many students and their parents dislike means you are constantly defending your assignments to everyone. You have to meet with your team leader and then principal and then the special needs team. While continually communicating with multiple parents about the assignment. This cycle continues throughout the school year; in which you have spent multiple hours defending yourself rather than improving your lesson plans, grading, researching, etc. It is exhausting and really breaks you down. I admit over those five years of teaching I assigned less and less work and I was rewarded for it! The students liked it and so their parents like it and so the special needs department and my principal liked it. In the end I learned our education system is broken and teachers will always be the scape goat for that.

  44. To require a certain books doesn't tell the whole story. Is there also an anthology of literature they are reading as well? I'm not sure what we moms think as literature is really going to grab the boys. Pride and Prejudice, Scarlet Letter, Romeo and Juliet are really not going to grab them. I think they are reading more nonfiction, which is good. Are they reading books in other subjects?

  45. Soda cups: check!
    Club cards: check! and then my receipt on top of it!
    Dirty socks: check! They are everywhere!
    Reading: check! Except for my 5th grader:)
    Lockers: We have an opposite problem. Our kids aren't allowed to carry their backpacks so they have to go to their locker after every class.
    Lunches: they're my pet peeve because of what passes for a healthy lunch and that means I've gotta handle lunch making at home;)
    Refilling: for us it's the ice cube trays! Why put the empty tray back in the freezer?

  46. #5 – Costco card – I couldn't agree more! I always think the same thing. "Why show it now when I'll have to show it at check out?" And even more curious, I don't have to show it at the food court. So the pizza isn't protected but the samples are?!

  47. Oh I COMPLETELY agree with the importance of reading! Our rule growing up was that we could always stay up a half hour later at night if we spent that time in bed, reading. I loved that rule & still adore curling up with a good book!

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