Category Archives for Plano Mom Contributor

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What is life like when you support a First Responder – A Plano Moms Story

There are a lot of Plano Moms who have husbands who work as first responders.  

Like all homeschool moms, they want to know, how do you balance family time and homeschooling? Because their family situations are unique, I’ve dedicated a whole article to them. I interviewed six homeschool moms whose husbands serve as firefighters, police, and/or EMTs.. I hope their words help and encourage other families whose loved ones put their lives on the line every day for the rest of us.

1.How do you balance family time?

The most common answer here was, when dad is off, school is out! Family time takes first priority with first responder families. The moms were unapologetically honest that family always comes before school work. Here are two of my favorite responses to this question:


Sarah, wife of a firefighter and EMT – If he is off from work, we are off from school. Nothing will ever replace family time especially when you are a first responder family. We know that work schedules are hectic but also live with the reality that every shift can be the last so family time will always get top priority.


Amy, wife of a paramedic- My favorite thing about homeschooling is that we can make family time a priority.  The kids and I hit school really hard while hubby is on shift, that way if we want to have a family day we can.


Missy, wife of a firefighter and paramedic – Most of the time it’s in the evenings before kids (mine are 13 and 15 now) go to bed. I want my teenagers off their video games an hour or two before bed so we set aside that time for us to do things as a family. (We cook dessert together, love to play cards/dominos, watch reality tv or a movie in media room, etc)


2. What does your typical schedule look like?


An always changing and flexible schedule was the theme to this question. Just like other homeschooling families, no two days are always the same. When you throw in schedules that include overnights or a shift schedule, the day to day can really be different. Some responses also mentioned how the husbands and wives made time among the chaos. Here’s what these three moms had to say about their schedules:


Missy, wife of a firefighter: My husband and I cook dinner together on the days he is not working.


Amy: As most first responder families know… when you finally find normal it will change… But, on a regular morning, we have breakfast at 8, then kids get dressed and do their chores.  Our goal is to start school at 9 but sometimes we don’t start till 10.  Lunch is around 12:30 (or later if the kids just want to push through their work so they can have the afternoon off). We take an hour for lunch so around 1:30 we either go back to school or have some quiet time.


Rachel, wife of a police office:  I try to have them finished with school work by the time my husband gets up for work. That way, we can see him at least a little before he leaves for work.


3. How does dad get involved?


All of the women I spoke to have husbands that are very supportive of homeschooling. Some dads got involved by actively participating and some aren’t able to participate due to their shifts.


Victoria, wife of a police officer and she also works outside the home: He helps by quizzing them on multiplication tables, making sure they practice piano and takes them to lessons and doing their workbook.


Rachel: My husband isn’t too involved with schooling just because we do most of it when he’s gone. We take the time he’s here to do things as a family.


Valentina, wife of a police officer – With his schedule sometimes we will use that day as a field trip day and take the kids to the zoo or beach and learn while we are out.


4. What is the best advice you can give to other first responder families?


Sarah:  My best advice for other first responder families is to give yourself grace. Our lives do not look like other families and we deal with many different stressors that most “outsiders” don’t understand. It is ok to stop and take a few days off to spend time together as a family.


Amy: Being a first responder family is hard.  The schedules are weird and exhausting.  Hang in there.  You are NOT alone!  Find yourself a support group with at least 1 other family that understands what your life is like.  Having support is the biggest piece of advice I can give.


Valentina: My best advice would be to just communicate as much as possible and remember how much they do outside. I try to teach my boys that there’s a balance. We are home so let’s clean and cook so when dad gets home he can rest with us. Dad has a tough job out there so we do what we can to make home a fortress and relaxing place.


I want to thank Sarah, Amy, Rachel, Valentina, Missy, and Victoria for letting me ask them about their lives. I hope that if you’re a first responder family, this help! I hope that if you know of a first responder family in your homeschooling groups, that you’ve gained some insight into their lives.


This post is written and researched by Kristina Roegner, a homeschool mom of 3. She enjoys sharing about homeschooling with others and is always happy to help local homeschoolers connect. Visit her website at to see all DFW has to offer for homeschoolers.

Plano Mom, Rachael tells us about her Exponential Life

An Exponential Life

Kids are loud, crazy, messy, adorable little monsters. But something happens when you have more than one. Everything grows at an exponential rate. I have four little boys – oldest almost 7, a 5-year-old, a 22-month-old, and an 8-month-old – and nothing is just 4x [fill in the blank]. It’s more like 40x. Everything is bigger.

And that includes…


Take a journey with me to a time not so long ago. Last week.

It actually started the previous week I came down with what I thought was just a severe sore throat. I didn’t go to the doctor because, well, #momlife and who has the time or money for that anyway?

So, I’m kicking butt, as we moms do, and was diligent in not kissing the boys – which was really hard because I’m that mom that smothers her kids in hugs and kisses.

plano moms rachael and son


Anyway! I’m doing great, on the mend, things are looking up. Until Friday night, when… I accidentally kissed my oldest on the lips.

I then sealed my fate with, “Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine!”

I KNOW!! What was I thinking?! Murphy and his law immediately knocked on my door.

And so the tale of Exponential Sickness begins.


Oldest wakes up congested, but I figure it’s just allergies. We go to the first soccer game of the season and he’s a little sluggish, but he’s moved up an age level – we figured it was just the larger fields. Buuuut then we get home and he’s on fire. 104 degree temp. Commence cold shower, meds, and rest. Fever comes down. Ok, cool. We got this.


Still sick with fever, though not nearly as high. No church.


Doctor’s appointment reveals oldest has strep. YAY! Start antibiotics. Doc says he can return to school on Wednesday.


Second oldest comes home from school and sleeps for 3 hours. Has a low grade fever. Go to doctor for strep swab. It comes back negative. “It’s just allergies with a severe cold on top,” says Doc, “but we’ll send off the culture to be sure. I’m sure he’s fine!”

Meanwhile I’m over here like:

rachael plano momsAt this point I see the writing on the wall. There’s no sense in denying it anymore. We’ve been infested and it’s only a matter of time before more of my tiny comrades fall.


Everyone to school on meds.


Mommy goes off to a meeting and two youngest stay with sitter. I text her and she hits me back with “Sorry, I was changing #3’s blowout.” Another one down.

Naptime. Sweet silence. Until the phone rings. “Hi Rachael. Calling because #2 has a 103 temperature.”

[Heavy sigh] “Okay. I’ll be there in a bit. I have to wake up the babies.”

Change disgusting diaper and off to get Bubba. And then I hear it.


My poor little toddler has thrown up all over himself and the kitchen floor. Mom Mode activated! I turn to get the paper towels and Lysol wipes and I hear it again.


And then, my sweet little angel, starts walking through it toward me. Panic Mom Mode activated! “STOP! Do. Not. MOVE!” I lift him up and over, run to the backyard, strip him down, wipe him down, cover him in hand sanitizer, and start cleaning up. I call the school to let them know I’ll be longer than expected when I look into the living room.

Y’all. The world slowed down. My heart stopped.

With his chubby little hands, the toddler grabbed the baby’s cheeks and gave him a big, sloppy, toddler-style kiss. Directly. On. The. Lips.

I scream “NNNOOOOOOOO!!!” as I hang up the phone and leap, yes LEAP, toward them. Now, I’m neither small nor spry so for my big booty to move so quickly, well it was something.

I finally get to the school where they won’t even let me enter the building. They essentially open the door just wide enough for my son to pass, quickly close it, and wave at me safely behind the glass.

He throws up on the living room floor that evening.


Three youngest stay home. Toddler throws up all over the couch. I call the doctor for the toddler to be swabbed. “I was just about to call you. The culture came back positive.” Me:

rachel plano moms a

We all load up, go to the doctor for the toddler’s swab. It comes back negative. Obviously, I was skeptical.

Saturday and Sunday we took it easy and everyone seemed to be on the mend.

So now we’re halfway through this week and doing great. Number 1 is almost done with his antibiotics, #2 is back to his normal self with the help of good ol’ amoxicillin, #3 just had a 48-hour bug, and miraculously, the baby never caught anything.

Like I said. Life with more than one kid is exponentially bigger. But no matter how hard last week was I would NEVER trade it if that meant I couldn’t experience the exponential love and joy and craziness of my little crew.

But dear sweet, baby Jesus PLEASE don’t let the hellscape of multiple illnesses befall this house again!

rachel plano moms family

This post was written by Plano Mom, Rachael Armstrong. This insight into her thoughts and journey of life as a Mom is written in her own words. 

Meet a Plano Mom, Leslie

plano mom family leslie

Meet Plano Mom, Leslie

I’ve been to Basic Training twice (as both enlisted and officer). I ran special ops warriors through obstacle courses as a professional military training instructor. I’m in the 9G Club, having pulled 9 times the force of gravity in both the centrifuge and in the F-16. I’ve been in numerous military campaigns around the world in very hostile territory. But the hardest thing I’ve ever done is drop my son off at daycare the first time.

As I sat in my car crying, after about 45 minutes of stalking him stealthily through a two-way mirror, I looked up and saw a 125-pound mother of twin toddlers, calmly carrying one on each hip as she entered the Mother’s Day Out program. When she returned, she looked peaceful and ready to trot off to a yoga class or to have coffee with a friend. In that moment, she became my new image of toughness and I wanted to be like her.

My son is now 16 and drove himself to his first day of school for the first time. My husband I had to forgo our ritual of taking his first day of school off and going out to breakfast afterwards. Those early years it was for consolation but as time went on it was a chance to celebrate and measure how we were doing as parents. We’d vision a little bit about the upcoming year and set goals for our family. Now, I (somewhat) confidently watched him drive off knowing he would be ok and could handle anything that comes his way. Although the whole motherhood mission isn’t yet fully accomplished, I feel good about the job I’ve done so far.

My son Ryan recently proved he’s way smarter than I am by creating a free morning prayer app for my church, available for Android phone users. You can download it for free from the Google Play store by searching for Resurrection Plano Morning Prayer.

Before becoming a mom, I had a long career in the United States Air Force. I began my military career as an enlisted member in Air Force Special Operations. I was selected for a commissioning program and graduated with honors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach in 1999 with a BS in Human Factors Engineering and was commissioned as an officer.

Plano Mom meet a Mom








As an Aerospace Physiologist I completed Physiology Officer Flight Training. I trained fighter pilots and aircrew at the Euro-NATO Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX.

When my son, Ryan, was born, I transferred to an F-16 unit at the Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. While serving there, I became sure of my call to ministry. I left the Air Force after over 15 years of service to our country.

We moved to Plano because of the excellent schools for Ryan. I enrolled in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. I graduated in 2014, with a Masters of Divinity and Certificates in Pastoral Care and Anglican Studies. I was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2014.

I’m still breaking barriers. I’m the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas’ first female church planter! I accepted a call to plant Resurrection Episcopal Church in West Plano in June 2016. I was also their first female priest to serve as Chaplain for the Diocese in the history of the Diocese. I served in that capacity when we elected our new Bishop.

Baptism Plano Mom

I still take care of pilots too. I’m the official Chaplain to the pilots for the Plano Balloon Fest.

I also am a Col in the Commemorative Air Force that has their big airshow, Wings Over Dallas.

Resurrection Episcopal Church is now thriving and growing. We meet in the Betty Haun Elementary School at 4500 Quincy Ln. in Plano. Our service is at 10:30 a.m. Sundays and we have room for you!

Find out more about us at

This post was written and submitted by Leslie Stewart. The images are credited to Leslie.

Why Dara chose a Private School for her Daughter – a Plano Mom’s Story

I feel like if you tell someone in North Texas “My child attends private school at…” people will look at you as if you have spoken a foreign language.

The schools in North Texas are superior for the most part so why on earth would anyone consider anything else? Needless to say I was not interested but my husband felt that we should consider it for various reasons. I can be very stubborn so I got the opinions from those I value most and together we decided to book some school tours.

dfw private school plano1

I remember saying “This is the dumbest most obnoxious thing we’ve ever done. It’s a complete waste of our time.” When I walked in the school we immediately noticed the security features in place and we were greeted by the most lovely front desk person you could meet.

As we toured the school I began to fall in love, it was how I remembered school and what I wanted for my children. It was warm, friendly, colorful and the kids were excited to learn, very polite and best of all shamelessly loving God.

The very last thing the admissions rep said to us was “I hope you see that our school is diverse, we have a director of diversity here and we work very hard to include all backgrounds.”

This was a big deal for us because because it showed she wasn’t afraid to address the concerns minorities may have. It was a long quiet walk back to the car but when Carl (my husband) asked me how I felt and what my thoughts were I gave him a defeated look and said “I love it”. I cannot believe I had been so naive and so wrong which means others could be too.

Going into this we wanted strong academics, a school that was competitive within TAPPS, PreK – 12th, diversity, not too far from home, parent involvement, a good lunch menu (I have a picky eater) and a school that could help increase our child’s faith.

As we toured other schools I learned that the DFW area has several school options to offer such as parochial, university models, single-sexed, Montessori, private with online options and special needs schools.

dfw private school plano

Our daughter (centered) and two schoolmates

Once we applied and were accepted I did what most moms do these days, I went to Facebook. Only I couldn’t locate a FB group that included DFW families enrolled in private school or seeking info on it, I mostly found school specific groups. I needed to learn more so I created a group called DFW Private School Families for those in private school or considering it. We have managed to build an online community where we can discuss thoughts, concerns, misconceptions and remain supportive of one another as well.

The things things group members often want others to know are not everyone who sends their kid to private school is rich or anti-public school.

Most parents in the group are working two or single parent homes and all are making a sacrifices of some sort daily.

If you were to ask me what to look for here’s what I’d tell you;

  • One of the biggest myths is that private school teachers aren’t accredited but this is not always true. The school itself often cannot receive a lot awards or accreditations if the teachers aren’t.
  • Private schools can offer various financial options to help with affordability.
  • Look for security measures such as lockdowns and definitely bullying prevention.
  • Staff tenure, private educators sometimes make less than public educators so you want a school where the teachers want to stay.
  • There’s no STAAR testing so how do they assess your child’s academic growth?
  • The curriculum in any school you consider should be challenging but homework shouldn’t consume your child’s life.

If you’re truly interested in a school you should attend the schools open house and ALWAYS tour during the school year. This wasn’t the original plan but we like where it’s headed.

This post is written by Dara K. Tilghman, a Mom of 2. She has spent hours researching Private Schools around DFW and has some unique insight to share with Plano Moms. Her Facebook group is DFW Private School Families. Follow Dara on Twitter

For more another guest post about Home Schooling, click here

A Local Mom’s Insight to Home Schooling

You made the decision to homeschool. Yet despite your resolve, all those first day of school photos got to you, didn’t they? We are on our fifth homeschool year, and they still give me a tiny twinge of something I can’t quite put my finger on. I always enjoyed school. Am I depriving my own children of the experiences? What about your own life? How are you going to survive?

One aspect of homeschooling that I think was the hardest to adjust to was finding friends. Most of my friends sent their children to school. Sure, we did after school playdates for a time, but they can’t go to the park mid day. They didn’t understand curriculum struggles and asked questions like “How are you going to socialize your children?” This question always amused me and still does because, well, we were at the park playing, wasn’t that socializing?

The first year we homeschooled, we joined a park play date co-op. I wasn’t ready to commit to an academic co-op yet. The park co-op was a bit awkward as all new things are. A lot of the moms knew each other so I felt like the out of place newbie. Thankfully, because it was the beginning of the year, there were other moms standing around equally as shy. My oldest, thankfully,  is super social. He started playing with a little girl about his age. Her mother was one of the other newbies so I sucked it up and introduced myself to my first homeschool friend, Deanna.

I only went back to that park co-op one more time. Deanna and I decided we hated being new and struck out on our own. Our children got along fabulously as did we. Then they moved away, and I may have cried. Hopefully your first homeschool friends won’t move away so quickly!  Making friends with Deanna’s family encouraged me to try again. Finding these gems of homeschool friends isn’t hard, it just takes a bit more effort than you may be used to.


One thing I can promise you, is that you will find friends.Good friends. Fast friends. Friends you can call in the middle of the day and get it. Friends who help you rationalize why you decided to homeschool and who remind you that one bad day or week doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.

If you’re lucky your first homeschooling friends may find you. You may have to awkwardly introduce yourself to someone. They may awkwardly introduce themselves to you. I’ll let you in on a secret, we’re all a bit awkward in the friend making department! I have usually let my children gravitate towards others and then I start the first date like ritual of talking to a random stranger. But I have also made some amazing friends this way.

Next year about this time of year, you’ll see the first day of pictures again. That little weird twinge won’t be as big. Instead of second guessing yourself, you’ll  text one of your homeschool friends about going to the park later that day. Then you’ll lie back down and try to grab a few more zzz’s before you try to to make your child understand long division.

This post is written by Kristina Roegner, a homeschool mom of 3. She enjoys sharing about homeschooling with others and is always happy to help local homeschoolers connect. Visit her website at to see all DFW has to offer for homeschoolers.

Meet the Sherwins – a local family of Twins & Triplets

“You sure have your hands full!”- it’s a phrase we have heard countless times and we will probably continue to hear forever. The truth is, though the words have become monotonous they couldn’t be more true. We absolutely do have our hands full – literally! We have been blessed with a very unique family that is composed of my husband and I, 2 year old twin girls, and 3 month old triplets! It’s an interesting situation that often makes an “ordinary day” feel much more like a circus act.

After the triplets were born, they spent 10 days in the NICU learning how to eat and grow. The NICU experience was unfortunately not new to us, having spent 13 days there with their older sister Keona, one of the twins. It was during this second NICU stay that we got our first glimpse of what a challenge we were facing to care for the needs of 5 littles ones under the age of 3.

Since we’ve been home we have definitely been busy! Everyday brings at least 3 loads of laundry, 30 diaper changes, 6 hours of pumping, 21 feedings (or more)- Almost 100 oz. of milk, multiple outfit changes, and constantly revolving task of washing bottles and pump parts. All of this in addition to caring for our twins: 3 meals and snacks, potty training, conflict resolution, play time and crafts, bathing, reading books, and the list could go on and on. The twins have earned the term “twin-adoes” as they quickly leave a trail of toys in their path.

Luckily, the twins have blossomed into the MOST incredible big sisters. They are constantly putting pacifiers in babies mouths, helping with bottles, and giving their siblings hugs and kisses. The most important (and favorite) part of our job is getting 5 times the snuggles! Though we do have a big family with a LOT of needs, it is incredibly important to us that each individual child gets as many snuggles and kisses as possible. Luckily, we have been blessed with an incredible “village” of friends and family that have stepped up in a big way to help us achieve that goal. Often when people hear of our family dynamic they quickly call me “Super Mom”. Super tired? Yes. Super busy? You bet! Super blessed? Absolutely! But the truth is that I could never do any of it without my husband and my village.

When we first found out that we would be having triplets, the very first thing that I said to my husband, Robbie, was that we were going to have to be the absolute BEST version of ourselves. All we can pray for is that each day we will continue to better ourselves and our lives for the sake of these 5 little miracles. As the days go by we will continue to learn each child’s personalities/likes/dislikes a bit better, we’ll learn little parenting tricks to make our lives a bit easier, and we will work into a routine to help keep consistency in our home. Most importantly we will give these children every drop of love that we have in our hearts.. and then some.

In our 3 months as a family of 7, we have braved to get out of the house a few times. Getting 5 kids under 3 years old ready for a trip out of the house is stuff reality TV shows are made of! I can only imagine the spectacle we are running around the house collecting all of the things we need for even the shortest adventure out of the house. While we are out, I wish I could take pictures of the looks on people’s faces when they notice us! “Wait, you have twins AND triplets?!”, they say in disbelief. Yes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The phrase we hear the most often, sadly, is “I’m glad that it’s you and not me!”. Before you feel sorry for us though, please understand that though it may be five times the work, we also get five times the snuggles, kisses, laughs, memories and love. We may be outnumbered, busy and tired but if you think our hands are full, you should see our hearts! We fully believe that God does not give you more than you can handle, and for some reason He trusted us with these five beautiful souls.

The Sherwin family circus is officially in town! If you would like to join us in our adventure, please follow us at or on Facebook at