Hi!  I'm Jen.  Teacher to teen girls.  Dorm mom to teen girls.  Photographer to teen girls.  And Mom to my own teen girl.

My mission is to help moms everywhere learn how to connect with and empower their own teen daughters.

I'm so glad you've joined me here.  I've got lots of great stuff for you!




How To Get Her Talking To And Trusting You
How To Get Her Talking To And Trusting You

 If your house is like mine, the kitchen is the hub of our home, and not just because of its central location, and not just because of the treats that I’m constantly stocking in our pantry (although our teen boy might think so).  The kitchen is where we talk. It’s where the kids hop up on the counter (yes, I allow this, even encourage it) and chat about the day, or bug me about being starving (again!), or ask me for whatever is on their wish list. The kitchen is the loudest room in our house, the happiest place in our home.  That’s how I see it. But lately things have gotten quieter.  The tall boy is now retreating to the living room where he can rest those long, gangly limbs while watching endless sports (it’s World Cup time!).  And our tween daughter is retreating to her bedroom now, where she prefers to sing along with Drake or Shawn Mendes or Ariana Grande. I can appreciate that they need their space now, that they’re older and want some privacy, but I also want to make sure they’re ok. Can you relate?  Have you noticed that your teens are getting a bit quieter with you?  Are you wondering how to get them chatting again (a LITTLE more anyway)?  Well, if you’re with me, I’ve got a few tips to share on how to get your teen girl trusting you and talking to you.  1. ...

Five Ways To Promote A Positive Body Image In Your Teen
How To Get Her Talking To And Trusting You

 My daughter is so beautiful.   She has the most beautiful blue eyes, the eyes I always wanted to have myself, but now love to look at on her.  She has this long, wavy hair- the kind of hair that she doesn’t have to do a thing to. She never blows it dry, never puts product in it.  Heck. she barely ever brushes it! But it’s got the perfect amount of wave and thickness. And it’s this sandy brown color that gets pretty blonde highlights in the summer. My girl is strong, too.  She’s the perfect combination of my husband and me, with strong, lean legs that scream for a soccer pitch.  She doesn’t really love sports though, so I’m trying not to push that. (It’s killing me, you know!) And her smile.  I can’t describe her smile, but it makes me happy.  I would give anything to see that smile more. Her smile lights up her whole face.  It lights up my whole life. I don’t really see that smile as much as I used to.  It seems the days of sparkly dress shoes that help her twirl have been replaced by ratty old skateboard sneakers, and that her confident smile has been replaced by a tentative, questioning expression whenever she looks in the mirror. What does she see?  How does she not see what I see?  If your daughter is a tween or teen, like mine, ...

Walking The Dry Road: My Life With a True Hero
How To Get Her Talking To And Trusting You

 I watch him every morning. Always drinking his coffee.  Always reading the news online, checking the scores of whatever sport is in season.  Depending on the time of year, sometimes I’ll find him grading quizzes. But it’s always coffee.  Always reading. Always preparing for some type of workout. A long tempo run.  A grueling track workout.  A recovery swim. Or race day. Coffee, reading, and running.  Such simplicity. To look at him, you’d almost think he was a bit boring, a bit “vanilla”.  You’d never know he was the strongest person you might ever meet. You’d never know he was my hero. This is my husband.  Twenty years ago today, he nursed his last hangover and got himself sober.  Twenty years ago, he tackled the greatest challenge of his life, and came out on top. This is my husband.  My hero. I never knew Scott, the partying alcoholic, but boy, have I heard the stories.  He got sober the year before we met and fell in love. The only Scott I’ve ever known is the disciplined, sober one.  The one who exchanged one addiction for another, and became the most insane runner we’ve all ever known. The one who keeps life “vanilla”.  Gosh, I love this man. But falling in love with him came with its own cost. ...

Are We There Yet? My Own Journey To Self Confidence
How To Get Her Talking To And Trusting You

 “You give yourself no credit!  You are self-sabotaging!” Her words, written there in her text, were like a smack to the back of the head, old school teacher style.  Wake up, woman! You’re self-sabotaging! I had been struggling with another moment of self-doubt, and she had called me on it.  I was a bit surprised, but then so thankful. Her honesty had woken me, not only to the moment, but to the journey. Self-confidence. The idea has been a stranger to me for as long as I can remember.  Despite growing up with two parents who poured love and support over me every single day, despite excelling in high school and college, both academically and athletically, despite having great friends, wonderful mentors, a loving and faithful husband, and 3 healthy and happy kids, this notion of self- confidence eludes me. Until recently, I hadn’t put much thought into this.  It was just who I was, and I figured I was never going to change.  But then I started noticing it in some of the girls in my dorm. I began seeing their self doubt.  And then I noticed it in some of my students- girls who were smart, capable, lovely young ladies. And then I began to look for it.  I began to see it in friends, in colleagues, in women who were beautiful, awe-inspiring, brilliant.   And then I saw it in ...

Five Tips For Better Smartphone Portraits
How To Get Her Talking To And Trusting You

 It never fails.   Every weekend, I get to my daughter’s soccer game, or one of the boys’ games, and I think “Aww man!!!  I forgot my camera!” Most days, I shake my head, and simply sit down to enjoy the game.  There’s something to be said about unplugging and being present with them. But there are moments when I want to remember them doing their thing, and so the phone is going to have to do, because yes, the photographer mama left her quality camera at home! I’m telling you, this happens all the time!   So, I’ve learned how to take a decent pic with my phone, and today I’m going to share my FIVE FAVORITE PHONE PIC TIPS with you!  1. FIND THE GOOD LIGHTEven with a smartphone, it’s all about the light.  If you can find nice, even light, you can capture a beautiful photo even without a fancy camera. The trick is to find even light, perhaps using open shade.  Tall buildings, or walls, or even thick hedges can diffuse strong sunlight and create a lovely, well lit portrait- even with your phone.2. CHECK YOUR BACKGROUNDAgain, regardless of the kind of camera you have, your background can make or break your photo.  Take a moment to remove clutter from the background of your photo, and if you can’t move the clutter, move the subject away from it. ...