Dementia, media literacy, Social media, Writing

Telling your stories

I’ve got to brag on my students a bit.

300x300I am an assistant professor at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. In my time here, I have taught all sorts of classes in communication and journalism: media law, feature writing, social media, public relations, introduction to mass media, intro to journalism, civic journalism – and that is not a comprehensive list. Every class, even those I’ve taught dozens of times, is always a new challenge because communication – and journalism in particular – is continually changing. It’s fascinating and fast-paced, and no two days are the same. I love my job. I really do. It’s not perfect, but I love teaching and researching my favorite subject: how people communicate.

This fall, one of the classes I’m teaching is copy editing. In a nutshell, the goal for copy editing is to teach students to think like editors for newspapers, magazines, broadcasting, public relations, advertising, online media, etc. They work with words, transitions, quotes, interviewing skills, and learning how to treat the AP Stylebook with the reverence it deserves. We talk about meaning and content in articles, how to work with writers, how to write headlines and cutlines, and how to handle ethical and legal issues. It’s a big, tough class – but it is so much fun.

This quarter, my students have partnered up with residents at Ruston Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. They are to write feature stories about their resident – the story topic really is up to them. Maybe their resident fought in WWII and they can focus on that. Maybe their assigned resident loved volunteering, maybe the resident raised a large family. The story isn’t meant to be biographical; it would be quite a feat to write someone’s biography in a single article. But the goal of this project was to capture a snapshot of that person, something that they found as relevant to other readers.

Everyone has a story. Every day, you have a story. My story today is that I got my teeth cleaned and I had no cavities. It sounds like no big deal, but there is a story behind it. Not that I want to go down a rabbit hole here, but the point I’m trying to make is that everyone has a story to tell – every day. Every day.

My students are to find that story.

I’m so excited about this project. SO excited. And part of it comes from my own story, with my dad dealing with Parkinson’s. I want these students to see these residents and talk to them. My dad loved talking to people, and even when he was unable to talk, he loved people to visit. I hope this project, small as it is, will instill in my students a love to hear people’s stories and to want to visit everyone, even people who grew up in a completely different generation. Sometimes age gaps and illnesses can be intimidating. I don’t want that to be the case.

Many of the students went yesterday to visit their resident for the first time. I can’t wait to hear later today about those experiences. What a fantastic journey they’re about to take, to talk to a stranger and find out about a life.

This is why I love my job.

Parenting, Sweet girls


There are times in our lives when we see someone else doing something and we think, “Why didn’t we think of that??” These are life hacks – like using an empty toilet paper roll as an iPhone speaker or using nail polish to identify different keys (this works unless you use cheap polish, btw). But this short list is specifically for Mom hacks. Some are original (such as the dog one), but some are from other amazing moms who are working to hack this life as best as they can. Cheers to you, Mom hackers – I toast to you!

  1. Spinach popsicles

I have blogged about how I get my kids to eat their veggies, and this is 100 percent still the case. I have found out, though, that fresh spinach works better than canned (which smells like dog puke — just being honest) and my new handy Ninja blender is amazing. I’m sure the Vitamix is swell, too, but it would have broke the bank.

  1. Paying my children

The Artist recently started getting paid for various good deeds, such as staying in her room after bedtime, getting on the good colors at school, and cleaning her room. I also have determined this works well on weekends. I pay her a quarter every Saturday and Sunday to entertain her sister until 8 a.m. Mommy and Daddy get up, drink their coffee, and get dressed before the kids are even out of the bedroom. I also pay her to clean her sister’s room. No shame here.

  1. Laundry baskets in the tub

I think my friend Sommer did this with one of her boys, and when I saw the picture, my mouth dropped. WHAT A BRILLIANT IDEA. When you have a baby who isn’t quite ready to be on his/her own in the tub, put the child in a laundry basket in the tub. The Engineer LOVED this. She thought it was the coolest thing ever, and so did I.

  1. Bathing the dogIMG_2191

Speaking of baths, the other night I put the girls in the tub with Vicki, our Chihuahua, and told them to bathe Vicki. They LOVED it. Vicki did not, but that’s okay. She smelled a lot better with some Johnson & Johnson’s.

  1. Cleaning with thieves

My kids think it’s super fun to clean. They do a really poor job wiping things down, but I don’t care. They’re learning, and at least that one stone square on the floor is quite sparkly. But The Engineer also likes to put everything – let me repeat, everything – in her mouth. I can’t give her a Clorox wipe! But I can give her a towel dipped in Thieves cleaner. So if she puts it in her mouth, it’s not so bad. Not great, but better than if she ate the Clorox. My friend Kelsey is a YL consultant, so if you’re interested, let her hook you up!

So those are five of my @momhacks. Feel free to share yours! We all need a little help surviving and thriving in this parenting life.

Social media

Kind of a big deal: My thoughts on the Kavanaugh hearings

I, like most of the country, spent last week – and really, this week – wrapped up in the Kavanaugh hearings. It was a topic of my communication classes, and I could not stop watching.

My heart hurts for the people who are suffering – those who are on the national scene and those who are watching this and reliving their own painful experiences.

I should have stayed off of social media – really. I absolutely should have never gone to Facebook, never gone to Twitter – but I did anyway. And I saw it – the one post that I can’t get out of my head, can’t stop thinking about. It was from a female and said something on the basis of, “I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times, and I never made a big deal out of it.”


Did you just feel the breath rush out of your body like you’d been hit? Because I did, even typing it nearly a week later. And that wasn’t the only one I saw similar to that, either. I told my husband it reminded me so much of a scene from “Sharp Objects” (semi-spoiler alert coming) where the Amy Adams’ character sees a man from her past who sexually assaulted her. He is apologetic, and she shrugs him off like it was no big deal.

But it was. It is.

Sexual assault, at any age, at any point in your life, is a really big deal. Whether it went all the way to rape or not and whether it happened when you were in high school, college, or whenever — it is a really big deal.

Let me say it louder for the people in the back: IT IS A REALLY BIG DEAL.

Never let anyone tell you differently.

I am thankful to live in the time of the #metoo movement. I am thankful to live in a time when people are beginning to realize that consent – at any time, date, or place – is mandatory. I am thankful that I am raising my daughters in a time when the boys around them will see what happens when “boys will be boys” and cross a line. I am thankful I have a husband who understands that my body did not become his property when we said “I do,” and that he daily seeks to earn the privilege of intimacy (an approach of daily consent), believing I have the right to say “yes” or “no” joyfully.

I hear the arguments against this all the time, people saying that girls need to dress in a certain way or not go to frat parties or, “Well, I guess boys will have to get a form sign and notarized for just saying hello to a girl.” For the last part – what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong about people thinking just a little before speaking? I know I need to think before I speak on a daily basis. Why shouldn’t we all take a page out of that politeness book?

People are discussing this, and that is a good thing. People are asking questions, and that is a good thing. And while it is sadly such a prevalent problem in society, one thing needs to be stated very clearly:

Sexual assault – yeah. It is a big deal.



Some food stuff here

It’s fall. You all know what that means. Crisp air, falling leaves, the smell of a cool, brisk wind –

Nah, y’all. It’s Louisiana. It’s still hot as Hades here.

At any rate, if you want to turn your AC down to 69 (which I did) and pretend it’s fall (which I also did), you might be interested in cooking one of these fall dishes. Now, first and foremost, I am not the food blogger who is going to tell you how much delight you will get out of making and eating this dish. I’m just going to give you the recipes, because OBVIOUSLY you will GREATLY delight in making and eating them. I do hope you, my culinary friend, will enjoy.

<The Unnamed>
Yes, I have a recipe called The Unnamed because Kyle and I can’t agree what to call it. It’s a dish my mom made when I was growing up, and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it – kids included.

Oh, one more thing — I do recipes a lot by the “taste and see” method. That’s why you can add another half pound of velveeta if you want or another pound of ground beef if you wish. Play with it. Make it your own. It drives Kyle insane because he follows recipes to a T – and then there’s me. “Did you add the oregano?” “Um, no. I added extra Italian seasoning instead.” “WHY????” “Felt like it.”

1 lb ground beef (go for 2 if you like meat a LOT)
1 lb velveeta
1 can Ranch Style Beans
2 cans chili no beans
Whipping cream (Whatever the smallest carton is)

Ground the ground beef. Drain it. Mix in the velveeta, three cans of beans, and rotel. Cook until velveeta is melted. Take off heat and add in whipping cream. Serve with Doritos. My mom likes to eat hers with rice, but when you can eat Doritos, always eat Doritos.

Sort of fried fish
Shut up, I know it’s not a fall recipe, but you NEED to hear about this. We got an air fryer months ago, and, really, it was used for cooking chicken nuggets and French fries. We weren’t really doing it justice. So I LOVE fried fish. I love anything fried, let’s just be honest. But you can fry CATFISH in your air fryer. WHAT??!! It was like magic just took place in my kitchen.

If you don’t have an air fryer, ask for one for Christmas. Start a gofundme account. Because while it’s definitely handy to have for chicken nuggets and fries, it is AMAZING for fried fish.

Catfish. I suppose you could use other fish, too, but I haven’t tried.
Fish fry seasoning (I use the Louisiana brand fish fry seasoning)

Heat the fryer to 400 degrees. Coat the HECK out of that air fryer with Pam. You don’t want your fish to stick.

Coat that fish in fry seasoning. Oh, what, you thought I forgot about an egg bath? No, I didn’t. No egg bath needed. Just dunk in the seasoning and transfer to the fryer.

Fry for 10-12 minutes on one side and then flip to fry about 10-12 minutes on the other. I have been able to put two pieces in at once, but you may only can fit one, depending on the size of your catfish.

Thank me later.