Your Teen and the Social Media Question

So it’s time for The Talk in the Bausinger household.

No, not that talk.

The scenario: I pick Mancub up from school. He tosses his backpack, binder and lunchbag in the back seat of the car with all the care of a baggage handler at the airport. The car groans from the weight of his treasures–for all I know he’s got bowling balls in there.

Don’t laugh. The first time I let him pack (for himself) for a weekend trip, he skipped the non-essentials such as clean t-shirts, deodorant and underwear. Instead, he brought what he viewed as nonnegotiable: his laptop (aka “the Craptop” ) and his discus for track which weighed approximately as much as 20 gold bouillon bars. I found this out when he splattered ketchup on his t-shirt and I told him to change.

 Let’s just admit that sometimes teens don’t make the best judgement calls. Heck, sometimes ADULTS don’t make the best judgement calls either.

bad judgement

Exhibit A: I decided to try on a hotel shower cap and pose for a photo at the church Ladies’ Retreat.

The conversation:

Anyway, the first thing he asks me is, “Mom, can I get on Twitter? Actually, can I get on social media altogether?”

Apparently, one of his teachers has been tweeting about his classes and the students have been talking about it. Those who follow  this  teacher on Twitter are in the “know” and those who don’t, well, don’t.

I’ve been avoiding this as best I can…I know many of his friends have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I’ve been able to say, “No Nate. IT’S AGAINST THE LAW FOR KIDS TO HAVE FACEBOOK.”

Technically this was true up until last year because you’re not supposed to sign up for Facebook until you’re at least 14. I could totally blame it on the rules, but now I can’t chicken out anymore. It’s totally my call to say yes or no.

But now, it’s not really Facebook anymore. Twitter is still hot (#awesome), but more and more Instagram, and something even more terrifying to me: Snapchat. It’s an app that allows the user to take photos “in the moment” with the mistaken idea that there’s no permanent record of the interchange. This kind of creeps me out.

Here’s a link to an article: “A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat”

According to NPR, teens are getting away from Facebook because they feel the old geezers (which is pretty much anyone who would actually use the term “geezer”) are taking over. They want their own geezer-free zone.

Read the Blanca Bosker’s article “Teens are Leaving Facebook for Facebook” on the Huffington Post:

As a college professor, I can tell you that schools and bosses, as well as potential bosses, immediately Google for information on prospective employees and students. In fact, an employer I used to work for had a guy whose entire job was to find employees on social media and to see how they were representing the company. Yes, this is absolutely true.

Anyway, it just seems like a bad idea to me. Since teens are not the best decision makers, it seems reckless to give them access to such a powerful platform. It’s similar to giving a kid who’s never driven a car the keys to an 18-wheeler.

But you know what? They’re already on there. Many of them have Facebook and Instagram accounts already.

They are Skyping their friends instead of calling. They talk to strangers all the time with online gaming. Many of them have smartphones with unlimited internet access which makes it nearly impossible to monitor their activity. Sure, there are apps available, and my son’s password for his computer is fair game. I can check his activity, the sites he visits, how long he stayed there, and what time his computer was in use. Is this creepy? Maybe.

There’s a fine line between freedom and peril. We have to know what our kids are doing online. Period.

I told Mancub that he could begin with Facebook but that the same rule applied to him that applied to his sisters: I get to be his friend and have access to his password. Of course he’s super excited about this.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What social media sites do you allow your teens to be a part of? Do you monitor their use? 

5 Reasons Why Moms Should Be Writers

jody recital

This week has been one of the busiest ever. My daughter Jordanne played her senior clarinet recital at the University of Texas at Tyler last night and we planned the most elegant of receptions to follow. Ok, it was an epic nacho bar — so not elegant, per se, but still fun. I don’t care who you are: put out free nachos and students will flock in like stoners to Colorado.

I was sitting at the computer goofing for a few minutes yesterday afternoon and Jody comes in. She has her hair in a stunning 1940s type up-do and she’s wearing her floor-length formal dress–all black lace and satin–and she’s gorgeous.

“Help me with my buttons?” She asks, completely unaware of how lovely she looks. Her makeup is perfect–her green eyes, the exact color of my mother’s and her mother’s, are lined and shadowed subtly.

She turns around and I slide the tiny black buttons into their corresponding hoops. “Don’t forget your pearls,” I manage to say.

All I can think is this: I don’t want to forget a second of today.

So much of our lives come and go at such a break-neck pace and certainly some days seem a bigger deal than others. But you know what? Every single second is just as precious as the moment that I watched my grown daughter play her recital, standing in the spotlight on stage, the sweet melody sounding to me every bit as lovely as music the angels sing.

One day, the memory will fade. I might not recollect the hush of the auditorium as she took the stage, the expression of the pianist, how Sarah sat next to me recording everything on her iPhone. I might forget how my husband stood behind silver serving trays and spooned nacho cheese out onto plastic containers for an hour, smiling and chatting with Jody’s friends who came through the line for seconds.

Lee serving nachos

I might forget Mancub and Watergirl as they sat in the row in front of us, transfixed on Jody’s performance onstage.

Yes, we took video and pictures, but there’s something special about writing the words down, describing every moment. Here are 5 reasons why moms should be the writers and transcribers of the family.

1. In the words of Trace Atkins, you’re gonna miss this. There’s too much happening every day to notice the tiny diamonds along the way. Kids grow up, people move on…this moment is never guaranteed to happen again. If you write about it something, it’s never really lost.Every moment, no matter how mundane, will someday be a treasure to take out and remember.

2. We’re the historians of the family. If we don’t write it down, chances are nobody will, and there’s something special about the point of view as seen through the eyes of a mother.

3. There’s a place where pictures fail and only words suffice. You can’t take a picture of the sound of a crowd at a little league game. You can’t snap a photo of the scent of freshly mowed grass at the park, or the smell of concession stand nachos and hot dogs. You can’t photograph the excited dialog of your son chatting along on the ride home about his first grounder.

4. There’s a form of honor in writing about an experience. Sometimes people just don’t know how much they mean to you until they see it in print. By taking the moment to put the words together on paper, you elevate what might seem like a common experience to the uncommon–the mundane to the special.

5. Moms are the treasurers of the family. We keep everything (well, almost everything–I did throw away some of Nate’s first grade homework that he guilt-tripped me into saving). Doesn’t it make sense that we keep the records of our family…the history of where we came from?

You don’t have to buy a leather-bound journal. You can blog, Facebook, or write a letter. The important thing is this: just start writing. You’ll be glad you did.





7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen

7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen.

War Eagle Women Mentioned on USA Today: “Must-See Book Trailers”!


My Southern gothic novel, War Eagle Women, is mentioned on the USA Today’s website under “Must-See Book Trailers” by Robin Covington.

Must-reads: 'Best Kept Secrets,' 'Baby Love'; interview with Tina Coleman Bausinger

She writes:

There is something compelling about gripping stories told simply, and the trailer to War Eagle Women by Tina Coleman Bausinger is a perfect example of this. The story revolves around the stories of generations of women — their good and poor choices in life and love — as told to a young woman who hovers between life and death. The video is pared down to a haunting piano melody, stark imagery and an intriguing script.

Here’s the link to the article and the trailer.

Nothing in writing is done in isolation. The book trailer, entitled “Sam’s Story,” was written and directed by Konner Hudson, a fellow student at the school where I attended and now teach for. We met last summer on a China Immersion Trip sponsored by the school.

The piano music that’s featured is composed and performed by Jay Williams, a very talented composition major at UT Tyler as well. My daughters, Sarah and Jordanne Bausinger, also music education majors at UT Tyler,  recommended Jay for this and hooked us up.

They also were instrumental in acquiring one of the locations. In fact, part of the trailer was filmed in Braithwaite Hall, a small concert hall on campus. We received special permission from Dr. Thrasher, the head of the music program at UT Tyler.

And I can’t forget Kalloway Hudson, the lovely actress who plays Samantha. Such outstanding acting.

Sometimes, writing and promoting a novel can be harrowing, heart-attack-inducing, and stressful.

But other times, it can be what’s it’s meant to be: so much fun.

Don’t have your own copy? Here’s the link.

7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen


My awesome nephew Chris. No, I’m not advocating giant donuts as a lunch option, but if Nate had his way…

Here’s the thing: if I just send my son to school with lunch money, he will invariably fill up on tiny (expensive) pepperoni pizzas and Doritos. The $20 I sent at the beginning of the week lasts little more than Lindsey Lohan’s current sobriety experiment.

The result: he comes home from school, it’s like he’s recovering from life in a war-torn, famine-inflicted country. He can’t shovel it in fast enough. My kitchen looks like it’s been raided by a pack of starving wolves.Cheese wrappers have been ripped off and dropped with the wild abandon of an extreme couponer on double punch day. Cereal that’s meant for breakfast has been devoured as if by emaciated pirates, leaving nothing but a sad empty shell of a box…a mere shadow of what could have been. Either Nate didn’t get enough lunch, or the Incredible Hulk has been through my kitchen.

Meanwhile, my fridge is empty … and so is my heart.
My solution? Send a sack lunch with him that is both filling and nutritious. It’s easier on the wallet and kinder to my pantry. This can be tricky, though, since Mancub is a bit picky and has acquired a taste for food additives and artificial coloring. It can’t be just a PB&J, and sandwiches get old fast.

The best lunches are a combination of proteins, carbs, and fruits and vegetables.

1. Lunch meat rollups. Take
his favorite lunch meat and cheese. Get a large tortilla and spread some onion and chive cream cheese on the tortilla then lay the ham (0r turkey) and his favorite cheese down. Next, put some lettuce and any other shredded vegetables you want to try to sneak in. After that, I put a bit of ranch dressing on it and roll it up like a burrito. These are super popular…sometimes they don’t make it to the lunch table. For Nate, who is 15 and 6′ 4″, I pack two of them as the center of the meal.

2. A giant vegetable salad. Don’t laugh! Depending on your teen’s favorites, this can go a long way to your two goals: filling him up and slowing him down. Of course, pack in dark romaine lettuces and maybe some leftover chicken (or even a package of tuna or a sliced boiled egg–some kind of protein is crucial)  from last night’s dinner.

Some vegetables (like shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers) do fine on top, but if all you have in the fridge is sliced tomatoes, you will want to go ahead and pack that in a separate baggie.  In another baggie, you can put croutons, bacon bits, cheese, that sort of thing. He can assemble it himself and put the dressing on at the last minute. Hidden Valley Ranch makes single-serve dressings perfect for lunches.

3. A cold pasta salad. Boil up whatever noodles you have–macaroni is fine. Then, add a bit of olive oil or Italian dressing, parmesan cheese, chopped chicken, black or green olives, green peppers, tomatoes–whatever you have. It’s really good, and won’t go bad if it’s not cold.

4. High protein Greek Gogurts–you can’t go wrong with these! I freeze the Gogurt and it’s thawed by lunchtime. PLUS it helps keep the other food cold.

5. Sliced fruit (apples, pears, etc). For some reason, if it’s sliced, it has a better chance of being eaten. Of course it goes without saying that bananas should be avoided unless you want everything to taste like banana.

6. Some kind of protein: peanut butter/almond butter singles (perfect with the apples) or sliced cheese. It doesn’t have to be paired with crackers–you can use a roll or cinnamon toast.

7. A vegetable-juice blend. I also freeze these, and it’s a sneaky way to add to his veggies and he’s usually so thirsty he drinks everything.

Good luck with trying these ideas! Let me know how it goes!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What do you pack for your Mancub or Water Girl’s school lunch?

5 Easy Ways to Reconnect With Your Teen

5 Easy Ways to Reconnect With Your Teen.

5 Easy Ways to Reconnect With Your Teen



I picked up Mancub from school the other day and I’ll just admit it: it was tense. We had an argument that morning before school and it pretty much ruined most of my day. My stomach was in knots about it and my overactive imagination was running away with me. I pictured him never speaking to me again, joining a gang and getting in a rumble downtown. That’s where rumbles happen, people.

If I didn’t nip this in the bud, we were a Lifetime Movie waiting to happen.

I asked myself why we had that conversation. Why did everything go down that way? Why did everything feel so sad, so desperate? Where did my sweet little boy go? And, perhaps more importantly, where did his patient Mama go?

With school, work, band, church–sometimes it feels like the only time we talked with each other is when I’m asking him to wash dishes or checking on his homework. That wasn’t working out so well. We needed to connect positively–to make a deliberate effort to spend time together in a non-nagging environment…STAT. I’ve been watching too much Grey’s Anatomy.

When he got in the car, I didn’t take the normal route home. I was honest–I told him our argument had bothered me all day long.

Get this: he apologized.

Afterward, we stopped by Chipotle and I bought him a giant burrito (you know the kind–it’s roughly the size of a newborn baby). There are few things besides Water Girl and Minecraft that put THAT kind of a smile on Mancub’s face, and I love that smile. It’s sort of my world. I need more of it.

I’ve experimented to find ways to reconnect with Mancub, and I hope you don’t mind if I share it here.

5 Easy Steps to Reconnect With Your Teen

1. Have a weekly lunch or dinner date, just the two of you. Here’s the kicker: let him pick the restaurant. Even if he wants to go to the greasiest hamburuger joint or the most questionable Chinese food in town, let him. His arteries won’t likely clog from this one event. Let him be the boss on this. He has so little control in most areas of his life.

2. Make him breakfast. It doesn’t have to be fancy–you don’t have to make heart-shaped crepes or anything. Rice Crispies are fine, as long as you are there. Take a minute to say hi to your sleepy Mancub–bringing a food offering is a safe way to approach him in his early morning jungle.

3. Take an intererest in his activities. Mancub plays horn in the band and if it’s at all possible, I’m there at every concert and most home ball games. I cheer at a volume that frightens flocks of birds. He knows I’m there.

4. Share your interests with him. I’m an English professor, so I love books. I have little hope of converting Mancub to enjoy love poems written by the British Romantics, but I might be able to engage him with the hottest YA titles. We are currently reading the Divergent series. I put the audiobook on the car stereo when I pick him up from school. It’s sort of the only choice. We talk about the story–try to guess the protagonist’s next move. We make fun of him/her when she screws up. It’s a good time.

Here’s the link if you don’t already have this book series.

5. If the teen won’t come to you, go to him. Sometimes I just hang out with him in his room while he’s on his computer and chat. When he asks me, “What’s up?” I just say, “Nothing. Just missing you.”

And I DON’T mention that his room resembles an Exxon bathroom. It doesn’t matter today. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What are some easy ways you connect to your teen? Write your suggestions in the comment box below.

5 Reasons Why Raising Kids is Like a Trip to the Amusement Park

5 Reasons Why Raising Kids is Like a Trip to the Amusement Park.

5 Ways to Spot a Southern Gentleman


My Southern gentlemen: That’s Paul on the left. He’s already taken by the lovely lady (Q) on the right, so back off ladies. Hubby is the last on the left and Carl (also taken) is right across from him. The rest of the boys (Noah, Sam and Nate (aka Mancub) are Southern gentlemen in the making, folks.

I’ve lived in the South most of my life, and always consider myself a Southerner. When we moved from Arkansas to Texas, nothing shocked me as much as the name-calling that occurred on my first day on the job.
After being chided about my accent someone even called me a “Yankee.” WHAAAAAT?

Disclaimer: For any of you who align yourselves with Yankees, I want to say that I have nothing against you. There’s no reason why Southerners and Yankees can’t just get along. We’re all Americans, are we not? (Insert the Star Spangled Banner Here).

After all, Yankees have done much to promote American society. The eradication of slavery, the industrialization of the nation, the emergence of feminism, deep dish pizza…all great things. Some of my best friends are Yankees.

But back to the story. After feeling my justifiable righteous indignation, I said, “Really? A Yankee? Because I’m from Arkansas.” I hoped that would stop him dead in his tracks, and that he’d see the error of his ways.

No such luck.

He looked me straight in the eye and said, “That’s North, ain’t it?”

I was called a Yankee TO MY FACE by someone I just met. At least get to know me first! To use a Southern phrase, “You coulda knocked me over with a feathah!”

Note to self: to Texans, IT’S ALL NORTH.

Since then, I’ve come to terms with my Yankeeness…no offense to those who are similarly afflicted. It is still my dream, however, that my son will grow into a fine Southern gentleman, like Rhett Butler (minus the whole Belle Starr thing). Ok, scratch Rhett Butler. I’ll take Atticus Finch (the original, thank you…not the horrible impostor as seen in the BOOK THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED). He’s good with a gun and has lawyer smarts. I’m not saying Yankees can’t be gentlemen–it’s just a preference, ok?

Besides my dad and my hubby who’s a transplant from Southern California (but I’m happy to say he’s assimilated), the sweetest Southern gentlemen I know are my cousins Paul and Carl.

Anyway, I’m taking positive steps to ensure this process of training in Mancub. It’s important to me to train my son to embrace this part of his heritage (we’re still a work in progress here). For those of you who might be fuzzy on the topic, a man doesn’t have to have ALL these traits, but here are a few pointers to get you started.

          5 Ways to Spot a Southern Gentleman

1. He’s nice to women. You can say a lot about Southern men being wild and unruly, but even the reddest of rednecks will open the door for a lady. A Southern gentleman doesn’t curse in front of a woman, and he’ll chastise those who do. If he does really need to “cuss up a storm,” he’ll signal with a warning: “Pardon my French.” If you hear a Southern boy say these words, you can reckon he’s pretty upset and if there’s time, you best get out of there, buddy.
2. A Southern gentleman respects his parents and his elders, especially his mama. You can say and do a lot of things in front of him, but don’t disrespect her or it’s gonna hit the fan. The same is true for his wife or family. He’ll defend them with his fists if necessary, but most of the time he doesn’t have to. He just needs to stand up (that’s enough).
3. He always says “Yes, Sir,” and “No, Ma’am…” without prompting. It’s second nature. He both earns and demonstrates respect.
4. A Southern gentleman is hospitable to guests and friendlier than expected. He’ll stop to help a woman change her tire or to check strangers who are having car trouble. He probably even has the tools in his truck already. Afterward, he’ll ask you if y’all want to come over to the house to grill some ribs. I’d take him up on it.
5. He’s patriotic, church-going and not afraid to “show you the door” if you put down his country. He’s probably been in the military, and if he hasn’t, then his daddy or granddaddy was. He stands to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He takes off his hat when he prays. Which is often.

To all the Southern gentlemen out there, thank you! And to you Southern women who snagged yourself one, well done.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What traits do you recognize in a gentleman?

5 Reasons Why Raising Kids is Like a Trip to the Amusement Park

5 Reasons Why Raising Kids is Like a Trip to the Amusement Park.