My kids and their online friends

I grew up in a time where there was no social media, no cell phones, no tablets and for a time, no home computers. You made friends and played with the neighborhood kids. You had friends from school or from church. Maybe you played with cousins or kids on your sports team or from girl scouts or boy scouts.

Nowadays, kids still find friends in these places. But now, there is another place to make friends – online. In the age of computers and social media, our kids are exploring a world that I didn’t have growing up. They now can meet people while playing online games or on social media.

Lexie and Jase both know people in Minnesota and Virginia and who knows where else. Lexie chats with her friends online or facetimes them. Most of Jace’s interaction takes place while he is playing online video games.

With these distant relationships comes concerns. Are the people on the other side who they say they are? Is Lexie really speaking with another teenager? Or is it someone only pretending to be one?

We have gone over – multiple times – not to divulge personal info to their online friends and not to take at face value anything that they are told online. They know that the person on the other side may not be who they said they are. I’ve listened in on their conversations, and I’ve seen several of the kids on Facetime. I can verify they are students my kids age.

Lexie and one of her friends exchanged Christmas presents this past year. And she has mentioned wanting to meet some of these friends in person but when she talks about it, she talks about her and I meeting up with them. She knows never to make plans to meet them without me around and if for any reason one of them showed up in our city or outside her school, she is not to meet with them or go any where with them.

And if anyone does anything she is uncomfortable with or asks her to do anything she shouldn’t be doing such as sending photos or giving out personal information, she knows to tell me and if necessary to block them from contacting her again. As I am writing this, I once again had a discussion with both kids about the people they meet online and the rules. But, they really have been just hanging out with the same friends for the past few years. There hasn’t been anyone new.

Of course with any friendship, there has been ups and downs. I say this more about Lexie’s friends as Jase really just plays video game missions with his online pals. But Lexie chats with hers so there is bound to be drama. But we handle that the same way we would if they were friends who lived in our neighborhood.

I encourage my kids to hang out with their local friends too. They need that in-person connection and to learn to handle those type of social situations. But, I also am glad they are meeting friends who live in different locations and have different backgrounds. It certainly isn’t something I would have imagined doing with such ease when I was a child. But then again, if I had a distant pen pal, they would have had my address and we would have thought nothing of it. Gee, how times have changed.

Planning for next school year…already

I wrote last week that my kids were already picking their classes for next school year. Well, I too must make some decisions about my volunteer positions for next year.

Middle School PTA

This is the easiest one. This is Lexie’s last year in middle school and my last as PTA president. I’ve been an officer (2 years as treasurer and 3 years as president) every year my kids have been here. It will feel weird not to be involved here next year.

High School PTSA

Each PTA position is typically only held for two years. That means my job as communication chair is over. I have enjoyed doing the PTSA newsletter and posting on social media. There are only a few other positions that interest me. But what I do with the orchestra association may affect what I do on the board.

Orchestra Association

Again, I am at two years of doing my job as the program chair. I have said that I would be treasurer next year , but I think they would rather have me take over as president. If I did that, I could make that my position on the PTSA board. But I am not sure I want to be president. I have been PTA president for four years (3 in middle school and 1 in elementary). I think I need a break of “being in charge.” Plus, I don’t feel like I know what I am doing with the orchestra.

Council PTA

I bet you can guess what I am going to say…I have held my position as training chair for two years so it is time for something new. My friend Debbie is submitting her name for president and has asked me to submit mine for one of the other officers. I decided to put my name in for second vice president. I would be in charge of all emails for the Council. I’ll find out in the next week or so if I will be put on the ballot for that position. If that doesn’t happen, I guess I’ll have to look at what other positions are open.

So, unlike my kids who are done with decisions for next school year, I have a few more weeks before my volunteer positions will be set. All I can say is that it will be interesting to have all new positions with each of my boards.

Picking high school classes

Yep, it is that time of year again….it is time for my kids to decide which classes they will take next year. I always feel like it is early. The spring semester has barely begun, and it is time to decide what courses they will be taking beginning in August – a whole 7 months away.


Next year will be Lexie’s first year of high school. Lexie knows what she wants to do with her life. She wants to go into animation. She wants to work with Pixar. We have already looked up colleges in Texas that have animation majors. One of them even offers internships at Pixar – and is only 2 hours from here. Lexie is so excited. So, now it is just picking classes that will help her get there.

She will have the basics – honors English, honors Biology, geometry and world geography. She also need to take a year of physical education so she is going to get that out of the way. It leaves her with 2 electives. The Audio Visual tract here is the one that is for animators so she is taking the first class. (Jase is actually taking that class right now.) And for her last class, she decided on digital media, which is an art class that uses the computer to draw. That is perfect for her as she already is great at drawing on her iPad.


He will be starting his junior year. He also has no clue what he wants to do after he graduates high school. This is why unlike Lexie who has her tract already picked, Jase is taking something called multidisciplinary studies. It means instead of taking several courses on a subject (law, video production, journalism), he takes four classes of each of the major areas of study – math, English, science and social studies – and then takes intro classes in other areas to see what interests him.

Now he hasn’t picked his last class, but so far he will be taking precalculus, English, US History, Physics, Orchestra and Spanish II. This will be the fourth high school math class so it should be the last one unless he decides to opt for a fifth one next year. (He took high school algebra in middle school as did Lexie.) For his last class, he could take the next class in audio visual or law enforcement. Or he could try psychology or do debate. He is meeting with his counselor today and hopefully will make a decision.

I’m just happy that both kids will be at one school – at least for the next two years.

Recipe of the Month – Snowball Cookies

With the colder weather of winter, I originally was looking for a nice, hot soup recipe, but then decided that we rarely make soup. So I thought I would do a cookie recipe as baking cookies can be a great activity to do when it is cold outside. These cookies are called Snowball cookies but they go by many other names – Italian wedding cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, and Pecan balls to name a few. I remember making these every Christmas as a kid. Yummy!!!



1 cup butter softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 cup powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In stand mixer cream butter and powdered sugar. Turn to low and mix in salt, vanilla, flour and pecans. Roll into one inch balls. Place on parchment covered baking sheets a few inches part. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until very lightly browned. Do not over bake
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool just enough to handle them. Pour 1 cup powdered sugar in large Ziploc bag or in a wide bowl. Gently add 3-4 cookies at a time and roll them gently in the bottom of the bag. Use fork to scoop under each cookie and gently shake to remove excess powdered sugar. Place on cooling racks. Once completely cooled roll in powdered sugar bag again.

Yield: 30-36 cookies