Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Parenting Answers on Quora (What's a Quora?)

I haven't been blogging a lot lately because life has been incredibly busy. I've also been spending a lot of time on Quora, so much so that within about a year 500,000 people have read my answers.

What's a Quora?  It's a question and answer site. Mostly I answer questions about parenting, teaching and judo because I consider myself to know a bit about these topics. Just in case you are not on Quora, here are a few of my answers on parenting.


Wow, I wish I had secrets. The best advice anyone ever gave me was “Ask yourself if you are dong this for yourself or for your kid. If you can honestly answer you are doing it for your kid, you won’t go wrong.”
The second best advice came from a coach who said, “AnnMaria, I’m 53 years old. I don’t need a 15-year-old friend.”
I have gone through some hardships in my life - juvenile hall, foster care, divorce, the death of my husband. After you’ve been beaten, had someone take you to court and try to get custody of your child and had the person you love most die, there isn’t much people can threaten you with. As a result, I really don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about my parenting or what the neighbors or relatives thought when I let Jenn drop out of high school at 16 and go to community college or let Julia go to boarding school at 14 or let Ronda move across the country to train for judo or let Maria start school a year early.
Often, I hear parents give lip service to how important their kids are but then they put up with an awful coach or won’t switch their child’s school because they care what the other adults will think about them.
I think education is important and it is one thing you can give your child that will help them their whole lives, so I made sacrifices to give them the best possible education, from working 2 or 3 jobs to pay for NYU to moving to Minot so Ronda could get speech therapy.
I believe in that Greek ideal of a sound mind in a sound body and tried to get all of my children involved with sports, although they weren’t all equally on board with that, none of them entered adulthood obese or unhealthy.
Ever wished you could learn math without tears?  How do you compute a median? How do you say that in Spanish ? Aztech Games teaches statistics and Latin American history.  In the app store, for your iPad.


What are some good parenting tips you can give me (a teen who is looking forward to being a parent) that I can use in the future?

Never hit your child unless you’d hit an adult under the same circumstances. I have four children and I have hit them a total of 4 times (one of them twice and one of them never). I hit one for running into the street so she would never do that again. I hit one when she was trying to wash her little sister’s hair with bleach. She didn’t know any better but she never tried that again.
Experiences  > stuff. I spent a lot of money on private schools and training camps for my children, but none of them had a new car until they made enough money to buy their own.
Do parents ever look at their teen/adult child and just stop to appreciate that they raised an amazing person and brought them into the world? Like, "That's my child. Look how great they turned out". 

Yes. Just about every day. I tell my children whenever they get down on themselves, “Just because you’re not perfect, doesn’t mean you’re not great.” They are great.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

4 Tips to Avoid Travel Disasters (clearly, some of you need this)

Since I travel a lot, to a wide variety of places, I see many travel disasters happen to other people, disasters which could have easily been prevented. Most of them don't happen to me any more because they happened once. Here are four tips which, if followed, can erase 80% of your problems both huge (my computer was stolen) and small (I couldn't brush my teeth this morning):

  1. Have at least two pieces of government ID. For an extra $30 (when renewing by mail) you can get a passport card when you get your passport. I always have at least my drivers license and passport card. That way, if I lose one, I can always use the other as ID to get on a plane to get home. They accept the passport card for travel in the U.S. , Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It cannot be used for international air travel. I presume that means you can get into the Caribbean or Mexico by cruise ship with a passport card, or drive to Canada or Mexico.
  2. Anything you absolutely must have, never let go. This includes my computer, phone, ID , money and credit cards. While I have to let my computer and phone go through security, I have my ID and cards in my hand when I go through the scanner. I mean, literally, never let go of it. I never check my phone , computer or contacts.
  3. Bring a small overnight bag. Think you are smart because everything is in your carry on? Think again. Overhead storage is full and now you need to check it and your flight is late so you are spending the night in Minneapolis. So, you're in first class and you are sure they'll be room for your bag?  Guess what - the second leg of your flight is on a smaller plane and roller bags don't fit in the overhead. You'll have to check it but, gee, too bad, your bag didn't make it on the flight so you are meeting that client tomorrow morning wearing the same clothes you had on this morning. If I check a bag, my carry on is a bag small enough to fit under the seat next to my computer. It includes clean clothes for 1 day, charger for my phone and basic toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, contacts and deodorant. If I only have a carry on , I have a small cloth bag in it that I can throw my one-day stuff into in a few minutes if it turns out that I have to give up my carry on to baggage claim. 
  4. Realize that you can get your prescriptions filled almost anywhere in a pinch, that includes contacts, prescription medications. In Missouri, I realized I only had 5 days worth of contacts left and I was not going to be home for two weeks. I was able to get a trial pack for the next five days from a local optometrist, and my optometrist's office emailed me the prescription so I could get another three months' supply in Missouri. What if you can't get hold of your physician? There have been occasions when I was coaching and an athlete forgot or ran out of a prescription, we were out of town and could not reach their doctor. In that case, if you go to a local pharmacy with the empty bottle with your prescription they will usually give you a few days' supply if it's something you absolutely must have, like anti-convulsants. I'm pretty sure they will not do this for controlled substance like pain pills, for reasons that should be obvious.

When I'm not traveling, and sometimes even when I am, I'm working on making educational games.  Head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)