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January 20, 2017


Ask Nikki Blog Art For Jan 19th

Hi Nikki!  I have a big problem. I’m not allowed to have my own phone until I am in COLLEGE! I’ve tried everything—from begging my mom to doing extra chores—but it won’t work! She just won’t get me a phone! What should I do?

Phoneless And Frustrated

Hi Phoneless And Frustrated,

Okay, I can TOTALLY relate to this problem! I mean, you’ve read my books, right???

But until college….wow. That IS a long time to wait!

I think the main thing is to figure out WHY your parents are being so strict about this. Knowing why might give you some ways to try to convince them otherwise.

So, here are some reasons they might have, and some ideas to go with them:

Your parents might be concerned about the costs of a cell phone and the monthly plan. ESPECIALLY if you have siblings. Because a whole bunch of cell phone plans would add up really quickly. This is a fair concern. But it’s also probably the easiest one to work with!

I mean, it’s obvious, right? You need to offer to help pay for it! Or maybe even pay for it entirely. (And before you freak out, as long as you’re not attached to having the latest, fanciest phone, there are some options that are still smart phones but don’t cost your entire college savings.)

So, unless you’re already sitting on loads of money, you need to make a plan. Do research to figure out what monthly plans cost for your needs. Figure out what you can do to earn extra money—babysitting, lawn-mowing, tutoring? Then present your parents with a well-organized proposal of how you would manage to pay for a cell phone, or how much of it you could pay for and how much you’d need from them.

Of course, cost might not be their issue. It might be more about your safety. This is fair. I mean, cyberbullying is real. Kids harass each other online. At the most extreme of safety concerns, there are creeps out there who pose as people they’re not and you do NOT want to get mixed up with them!

So if this is their deal, it’s all about making sure your parents have access to what you’re doing on your phone. There are parental controls they can put on your phone to be able to read your texts and social media accounts, and monitor what websites you’re visiting. If this seems like a HUGE invasion of your privacy…well, that’s understandable. I guess it depends on how badly you want the phone. And, if you want it for stuff you don’t want your parents to know about…they might actually have a point. (Sorry!) So again, do some research. Show them the different controls they could have on your phone to be sure you’re safe. If they see you’re willing to be open about your phone usage, that might help change their minds.

Also, the argument can be made that a cell phone makes you SAFER because if you get in a sticky situation, you’re able to call for help. As long as there are some smart limits and controls on the phone, you could carefully make this point to your parents. (Though definitely DON’T make it sound like they’re putting you in danger by NOT letting you have a phone!!)

The other thing your parents might be concerned about is too much screen time. Older generations seem really freaked out by how much time our generation spends on screens, whether they’re phones, tablets, or computers. They want us to talk to each other or something. ☺

They don’t fully understand that we ARE talking to each other when we’re using our devices. And I don’t know, maybe they have a point here, but I sympathize with this point less than the other two. Because hey! I’m fourteen and I love my phone!!! ☺

But if that’s their deal, maybe you could come up with some sort of agreement—and sign a contract with your parents—about how and when you’ll use your phone. Like no phones at the dinner table. Or no phone until you’re done with your homework, or after a certain hour at night, etc., etc. If they see you’re willing to limit your time on the phone, they might relax.

It’s probably not just one of these things, but some combination of them. And maybe other things I’m not even thinking of. If you’re thoughtful about your parents’ concerns and come to them willing to compromise, you might be able to convince them you’re responsible and ready for a phone.

And, you might not. Be ready for that. They’re your parents and it’s their call. It might not matter how prepared you are with research, responsibility and promises.

But, all you can do is try! I’m rooting for you! We all are!!

If YOUR parents are reluctant to give you a new phone, how do you deal with it? Or, how did you convince them to give you one?
January 18, 2017


Nikki's Diary Jan. 17th Blog Art

I have never been so sick in. My. LIFE!!!!

I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. I would like to leave all my art supplies to my BFF, Zoey, and all my cutest clothes to my BFF, Chloe.

I’ll even leave my phone to Brianna, since I’ll be dead anyway!

My head is POUNDING. I can’t stop sniffling and sneezing. I’m all sweaty from burning up, and then I’m freezing, and then I’m burning up again.

There is, at least, no puke. Yet.

I can only write a little bit at a time before I get dizzy.

When Brianna figured out how sick I was, she came rushing into my room with her Princess Sugar Plum First Aid Kit (which, BTW, was hot pink and FAKE) and announced that Nurse Brianna had arrived. She then handed me a real thermometer to take my temperature, and I almost put it in my mouth. But then, Mom came running in the room and stopped me.

“What’s the big deal?” I asked. “I think I have a fever.”

She snatched the thermometer. “Okay, but this is Daisy’s thermometer.”

Because of the fever it took me a minute to understand what she’d just said. Brianna brought me the thermometer we use on Daisy, our dog. And, we take her temperature by sticking it IN HER BUTT!!! And I almost put it IN MY MOUTH!!!

EEEEEEEWWW!!!!!! I threw up in my mouth a little bit just thinking about it!!

Brianna said, “Oops!” and quickly disappeared.

But then I had a CRAZY sneezing fit. I sneezed seventeen times in a row!! I’m not even kidding! 

I ran out of tissues, so I called for Mom.

Then Brianna poked her head into my room. “Nikki, are you still alive? Maybe Nurse Brianna should give you a shot!”

“Where’s Mom?” I snapped.

“She went to the store.”

“Then get Dad.”

“He had a work emergency.”

I blinked at her. I sneezed forty-seven more times. “She just left you here???”

“Yes,” she said, looking super proud. “In case you needed anything! And you do! Or you wouldn’t have called for Mom!”

I really did NOT want to rely on Nurse Brianna, who had tried to give me a dog-butt thermometer!!! But it was hard to imagine how she could mess this up.

“Fine. I’m out of tissues.”

She beamed and disappeared.

While she was gone, I took my sweatshirt off, put it on, and took it back off again. My body could NOT make up its mind whether it was hot or cold.

“Whoa,” Brianna said when she appeared in the doorway. “You look like a lion.”

That didn’t make any sense, but it was Brianna. That girl never makes any sense. I held my hand out for the tissue box, which she delivered.


“Can I get you anything else?”

“Unless you can instantly make me feel a million times better, I just want to rest.”

“Okie-dokie!” she said. And she disappeared.

That was suspiciously easy. But maybe she was afraid of catching the plague. I couldn’t blame her for that!!

A few minutes later, JUST as I was about to fall asleep, she was back.

“I know how to make you feel better, Nikki!” She held out my phone.

And there, on a video chat, was BRANDON!!!!

OMG!!! I could see myself in the little square at the bottom, and suddenly I knew what Brianna meant about looking like a lion. My hair was sticking out in all directions, like a mane! Probably because of all the times I’d pulled my sweatshirt on and off.

Also, my face was red and splotchy. That made me look more like…I don’t even know! A lobster?


Normally, I might have hung up and apologized to Brandon later for getting disconnected. But I was too out of it to think straight. So, I just gaped at the horrifying image of myself and Brandon’s adorable face.

“Um, hey, Nikki,” Brandon finally said. “Brianna says you’re really sick.”

“Yeah. Um. I’m pretty…”

And then I started sneezing. Like a million more sneezes. And the whole time I was sneezing, I was hoping Brandon understood what I was about to say… I’m PRETTY SICK. Because otherwise?!?! He’d think I said, “Yeah, I’m pretty.”

Which, I’m all for self-confidence and all, but let’s be honest. At the moment, I was a sweaty lobster lion who’d almost used a dog-butt thermometer!!!!

“Wow! Bless you.” Brandon replied when I finally stopped sneezing.

And then…I still can’t believe this…I said, “Well, I should go. I don’t want to get you sick.”

I mean, WHAT?!?!?!

But Brandon just laughed like I’d meant to make a joke. “You’re so funny, Nikki.”

FINALLY Brianna rescued me. She grabbed the phone and said, “Sorry, Brandon, but visiting hours are over. My patient needs to rest!”

And she hung up on him!! Which…normally I’d be super mad. But this time it worked out. I was too sick to even yell at her for calling him in the first place.

She WAS trying to make me feel better after all. And Brandon had seemed genuinely concerned! Also, he said I was funny (even if he didn’t realize I was actually delirious). So, I guess she sort of did make me feel a LITTLE better.

But, I’m not accepting any medicine from Nurse Brianna!! Who knows what she’d try to give me!!!!

When you’re sick, what usually makes you feel better? What do you do to help others feel better when they’re under the weather?

January 17, 2017



Hi Brandon! So, I’ve had this crush FOREVER. Yesterday in science, we had to move seats and now he’s MY LAB PARTNER!!! The good part is that he’s super funny, cute, kind, and a very great person to talk to. But, the bad part is that if I do something dumb, I’m afraid he’ll totally think I’m a loser. And since I’m horrible at science, it’s twice as worse! What should I do? Please tell me!!

Science FAIL

Dear Science FAIL,

Well first of all, it’s AWESOME that you get to be lab partners with your crush in science. Now you’ll have a reason to look forward to this class. (It sounds like it was NOT a favorite class before.) And besides that, you’ll have a built-in reason to talk to him every day. (Or however often science meets.) SOME people have to make up fake reasons to drop by their crush’s locker (not that I’d know anything about THAT). But, you just have to show up for a class you’d go to anyway. I believe my friend Nikki would say, “SQUEEEEEE!!”

But you’re stressed because…you’re worried he’ll think you’re dumb? He won’t be nice anymore if he sees you’re not an A+ student? I mean, that doesn’t really sound like the kind of guy you’ve described.

Look, let me flip things around on you. If HE screws something up in an experiment or gets a terrible grade on a lab, are you going to like him any less? Are you suddenly going to think he’s a total “loser?”

I’m guessing no? And if he’s as kind as you say he is, he’s not going to judge you if science isn’t your best subject. I promise.

Look, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. So you don’t feel confident in science. But maybe you’re great in English, history, or math. Maybe you’re the fastest runner in the school, or the best artist. Maybe you’re an amazing friend. Or maybe you’re still figuring out your strengths. But you have them.

And remember, your crush is not perfect (even if it seems like it). Maybe he’s great in school but a total klutz at sports, or a terrible dancer, or he forgets his mom’s birthday. Maybe he seems super smart, but he freezes up on tests.

So, when you’re stressing that he’s going to judge you for being imperfect, just envision him dancing HORRIBLY. Or, just remember that nobody’s perfect and this is a nice guy. And then be grateful that you get to sit next to him.

In fact…if he’s really good at science, maybe it’ll be an excuse to spend even MORE time with him! Because if you’re struggling, you could always get together to study.

I’m NOT suggesting you pretend not to understand something just to spend time with him. Playing dumb is NOT a cool way to get a guy’s attention. But if you need help, and he’s good at science…that sounds like a perfect fit.

So, try not to stress so much. This definitely sounds like a reason to celebrate. Science will be fun now. You’ll get to talk to your crush! And, maybe your grade will even improve.

Everybody wins!

Readers, how do you deal when you’re stressed about impressing a crush? Do you worry about not being smart enough/athletic enough/funny enough/whatever enough? How do you overcome that?
January 11, 2017



Hi Nikki!

I’m REALLY self-conscious of wearing shorts! I can’t wear them in front of people because I’m scared they’ll talk about my fat legs. Even when I’m in PE class, I still don’t like to wear them. I’m fine with skinny jeans but shorts are just scary! This was really hard to write. Please, please, PLEASE help me!!

Shaky Shorts

Hi Shaky Shorts,

Okay. First of all, it was totally brave of you to write in about this. This column is completely anonymous and SO many other people feel the same way you do, so by asking this question, you’re going to help a bunch of other people, too. Some people feel this way about their legs, stomach or arms. Some people are self-conscious about zits, frizzy hair, or braces. EVERYONE has a thing that makes them feel like people are looking at them and judging them. (Even CCPs! It’s true!)

And sure, it’s easy to say, ‘Don’t worry about what other people think!’ But it’s a lot harder to actually do that. I understand that. But when it comes to clothes, I think the main thing is to wear clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable. So part of me thinks, if you don’t feel comfortable in shorts…don’t wear them! There are other options besides jeans on a hot day. You could wear skirts (longer ones, not short ones) or lightweight capris, for example.

But, the problem here isn’t really what to wear when it’s hot. The problem is your self-consciousness. If you’re uncomfortable in shorts, don’t wear them. Easy. But if you WANT to wear shorts and you don’t because you think people will talk about your legs, it’s different.

I totally get how easy it is to think people are always talking about you. I mean, I’m fourteen! That’s my life too! But the truth is…I’m usually so busy worrying about myself that I’m not using my energy to judge other people. ESPECIALLY people who haven’t done anything to deserve it.

Like, I might call MacKenzie names in my diary, but I think we can all agree she deserves it, right? But just a random girl at school who makes an odd fashion choice or has a bad hair day? I don’t even notice. Or if I do notice, it’s not a big deal. It’s like…huh, Marcy’s hair’s a little off today. And then I’m on to the next thought. (Usually it’s about Brandon.) I don’t spend the rest of the day locked in the janitor’s closet with Chloe and Zoey, gossiping about Marcy’s hair. If I DID, that would make me a terrible person, which would be worse than having bad hair.

Here’s another thing. I’m 100% sure you are your harshest critic. You think your legs are fat. But I’m guessing they’re totally normal. Try to see yourself the way you see your best friend. If she were the one complaining about her fat legs, what would you say to her?

And look, maybe you are overweight. I have no idea. That’s the beauty of an anonymous advice column! :) But even if your legs don’t look like some skinny CCP’s legs, there’s nothing wrong with that. Beauty standards are so weird. Did you know that a long time ago, being fat was considered beautiful and being skinny was ugly? It was because being fat meant you obviously had the wealth to be well-fed, unlike those skinny peasants.

But the thing that’s ALWAYS beautiful, in any time period or place? Confidence and kindness! You could be a super skinny drama queen and still lack self-confidence. And people would be more drawn to the friendly, chubby girl who feels good about herself.

So try to wear clothes that make you feel confident, treat yourself like you treat your friends, and most importantly, try to focus on the things you love about yourself, so you can project some self-confidence to the world.

And for crying out loud, don’t wear jeans when it’s hot outside! :)

Readers, is there something about yourself that you don’t like? What is it, and how do you deal with your insecurities?
January 10, 2017



I have never been so cold in. My. LIFE!!!!!

I mean, okay, at least I have warm clothes and a roof over my head. But a lot of good that roof does me. You know why? Our HEATER is broken!!!!

This morning, I was in the middle of a dream about helping scientists in Antarctica. In my bathing suit!!! (The head scientist was a penguin. They were studying polar bears. I was trying to tell the penguin-scientist this seemed dangerous, but my teeth were chattering too hard to talk!)

But then I realized I WASN’T in Antarctica. Talking to a penguin scientist. In my bathing suit.

I was in my bed! At home!! But I was SOOOOOOO cold!!!

I looked down and realized why. I was only covered by one sheet!! And my blankets had vanished!! I assumed they had fallen on the floor, so I reached over to grab them. But, they were nowhere to be found!!!

I hauled myself out of bed and lunged for my bathrobe. The ground was like ice! I could see my breath in the air!

Had someone broken into our house in the middle of the night, turned off the heat, and stolen all our blankets??

I went out into the hall to the thermostat, but I passed Brianna’s room before I got there. And there she was, with all of MY blankets piled on her bed!!!

“Brianna!!! You little blanket thief!!!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

Her eyes peeked out at me from beneath her pile of blankets. “I was cold!”

“So, you left me to FREEZE?!?!”

“I would have climbed into bed WITH you except you told me the next time I did that, you’d teach Daisy to use MY bed as a giant pee pad!!!”

This was true. But STILL!!!

“Girls, what’s going on?” My dad shuffled into the room like the abominable snowman, all bundled up in his snow mobile suit, hat, gloves, scarf like he was about to go build an igloo. But, he was looking at me like it was just a regular morning!

“Um, we’re FREEZING! Can you turn the heat back on?”

“Well,” he said. “The heater seems to be broken.”

My bathrobe was NOT cutting it. I marched into Brianna’s room and grabbed one of MY blankets off her bed.

“It’s MINE! She stole it off my bed!” I complained before my dad could say anything. Then I wrapped it around me like a cloak. “Let’s build a fire while the heater gets fixed.”

“Well…” Dad mumbled, “We don’t have any firewood. And, I don’t know if you’ve looked outside but…”

I lunged for Brianna’s bedroom window and pulled back the curtains.

There was SNOW. Serious snow. Like, so much snow the roach mobile looked like a little mountain. All I could see sticking out were the roach’s antennae!!

“I’m afraid I can’t drive anywhere to get wood. And I doubt the fix-it guy will be able to make it to us to fix the heater. At least until some plows come through.”

“OMG! What if we all FREEZE TO DEATH?! Then I’ll never see Brandon again!!” I whined.

“I’m c-c-c-cold! I want my MOOOOMMMMMMMMMYYYYYY!!” Brianna wailed.

“All right, settle down. Your mother’s still asleep.”

“I dreamed I was in Elsa’s ice palace,” Brianna sniffled. “And it was all starting to fall down around me!”

I tossed my blankets back on Brianna’s bed. And then I quickly climbed in next to her. “scoot over, Brianna. Let’s have a sleepover!”

“Yay! I love sleepovers!” Brianna squealed happily.

She might have been a little blanket thief, but the girl had body heat! I felt better already. At least a little.

“Why don’t you two stay here, and I’ll go see about some hot chocolate with marshmallows?”

My dad waddled off toward the kitchen, looking kind of like a penguin himself in his bulky snow clothes.

“Nikki?” Brianna said, nestling her head into my shoulder. “Do you think we’re going to turn into ice cubes?”

“No way. We’ve got blankets and PJs. We’ve also got each other. And, Dad’s making hot chocolate. We’re going to be fine!”

Brianna nodded and snuggled in even closer. After a minute or so, her breathing evened out. She had fallen back to sleep!

A couple minutes later, my dad appeared with a tray of hot chocolate. “Aw, you two look so sweet!” he chuckled.

“SHHHHHH.” I did NOT want him to wake up my very favorite kind of Brianna—sleeping Brianna!!! :)

He set the hot chocolate down on the nightstand. “Want me to get you a book or something?”

I almost asked for my phone, but then I said, “Actually? Could you grab my diary and a pen from my desk?”

So, I’ve been sitting here writing ever since. And I am NOT getting out of this bed until my house is warmer than Antarctica!!!!

How’s the weather where you live? What do you do to you stay warm?
January 8, 2017



Hi Brandon. There’s this boy I like, but I’m afraid that if I wear my BAHA hearing aid, he won’t like me back. My teachers want me to wear the hearing aid so that I can hear better during class. What should I do?

Hear Me Out

Hi Hear Me Out,

Well first, you should really read EL DEAFO by Cece Bell, which is a graphic novel about a girl (well, actually she’s a bunny, but she wears clothes and goes to school like a real girl) who feels self-conscious about wearing her hearing aid at school. It’s awesome. So, check that out.

Second, I wasn’t sure what a BAHA hearing aid was, so I looked it up. For anyone else reading, you can google it, but basically BAHA stands for Bone Anchored Hearing Aid, and it’s this little box that sort of looks like a tiny cell phone, which attaches to the head just a little behind the ear. And makes it so hearing-impaired people can hear. Neat!

So, my thought when I saw it was that any guy would probably think it was AWESOME. Like, it sort of looks like you’re bionic. Like you’ve got super cool tech implanted in your body. Which…you kinda do?

I get that it makes you different. And at our age, we all struggle with anything that makes us different. We don’t want to stand out. But look…if you don’t wear your hearing aid, you’re going to be constantly asking the teacher, your friends, and even your crush to repeat themselves. That will make you stand out, too!

But more importantly, if your crush wouldn’t like you because of your hearing aid…he’s not a very worthy crush. I mean, he needs to like you for who you are, not for someone you’re pretending to be. And you are hearing impaired, right? So that comes with a hearing aid. Period. People who want to be in your life just have to deal with it.

And, what’s there to deal with? It doesn’t affect them, aside from making it so they don’t have to constantly repeat themselves to you. That seems like a bonus. Otherwise, it’s not any different than someone wearing glasses, or a wrist brace, or even an extra sweater because they get cold a lot.

So I think you should wear your hearing aid with confidence, because you should be up front about who you are. And if your crush can’t deal with who you are, then you don’t need to waste another minute of energy caring what he thinks. And if he CAN deal, then you’ll be able to hear him!

Plus you’ll be able to hear your teachers and, like, learn stuff. Which is cool! :)

How do you guys handle the little things that make you different from everyone else? Do you embrace them, or try to hide them? Would a hearing aid change how you felt about someone?
January 4, 2017



Hi Nikki,

I used to be super-popular and got all the friends I wanted because of my BFF. She and I pretty much ruled the school! But, ever since she started hanging out with some other girl, I kind of feel like I’m unpopular now. And, If I’m a DORK (no offense to you, Nikki), I won’t have Queen Bee status anymore and anyone to boss around. I can’t let that happen! What should I do?


Hey there! I’m going to be honest with you, CCP’s Ex-BFF. When I first read your letter, I was a little confused. Okay…A LOT. I mean, you’re frustrated because you don’t have anyone to boss around, and you don’t have Queen Bee status anymore? Can you see how it’s tough to sympathize with that as a problem?

Only a few people rule the school. And whoopee for them, but everyone else somehow figures out how to get by without being ruler and having their own personal minions.

Here’s something I’m wondering—did it truly all vanish the second your BFF started hanging out with another girl? If you were super-popular, surely you must have some friends you can still hang out with, right?

But I think, at the heart of it, your problem is really that you feel like you’ve lost your best friend. At least, I hope so. Because if your problem is really that you don’t “rule the school” anymore and that you don’t have anyone to boss around, it might be good for you to get a glimpse of what life is like to everyone who’s not in the top social circle of the school. It would probably be good for you to learn how to make friends, and have healthy friendships that aren’t about who has more power.

If you’re mainly upset that your BFF kicked you to the curb for another friend, that’s kind of a different problem. Getting treated like that is crummy, whether it’s by a crush or a friend. It makes you wonder what you did wrong, when the problem is really the other person’s.

So, I’m not going to give you advice on what you can do to get more power. I’m gonna give you some advice on how to make new, better friends!

First, it might help to recognize how messed up the school power structures are. Is it right that one person—your BFF—gets to decide SO much? I know it sure didn’t feel right when MacKenzie was ruling OUR school!!

But even if there IS a Queen Bee, there are still tons of great kids at all other levels of the school. You might find that kids outside of the top circles have more fun! When you embrace being a dork—sorry, but it’s true—there’s not so much pressure to be perfect!

You also might find that it’s MORE fun to have friends you’re equal with than to have people to boss around or compete with. When you’re on top, bossing minions around, you never know if people genuinely like you or are just sucking up to get some power of their own. When you’re a dork with dorky friends, they’re TRUE friends. They hang around because they like you. It’s not about power. You can trust them.

I think you’ll find that it’s way more awesome!! :-)

But, here’s a warning: if you’ve been ruling the school and bossing people around for a while, you might find it a little tricky to make friends with former minions (i.e., “dorks” and everyone else). You may need to gain their trust first.
So, you might have to prove yourself worthy of their friendship. And you’ll definitely have to be friendly to all sorts of people in order to do that. Start making eye contact and smiling at people in the halls. People you didn’t acknowledge before. Offer to help people with things when you see the opportunity. Introduce yourself to new kids. Join some new clubs. Volunteer.

See if anyone at your school is using the Sit With Us app. If not, consider setting up an account for your school! With this app, welcoming students identify themselves and anyone who wants to can sit with them for lunch. No one except you and the seat buddy will know that you used the app to find somewhere to sit.

It definitely sounds like you’re in for a readjustment. Maybe you’ll find a way to wiggle your way back into power. But honestly, I really recommend you shoot for true friendships. They last longer, they’re way more fun, and I honestly think you’ll be happier.

Readers, have you ever dropped from the top of your school’s social hierarchy? Were you a CCP, and then suddenly not? How did you deal with it? If you’ve always been a dork, what would it take for you to trust a former-CCP?

I’d love to hear your comments below!

January 3, 2017



For Christmas, my mom got a gym membership and she’s been going almost every day to an exercise class or something. She comes back all sweaty, exhausted, and…happy? It’s weird. But kind of inspiring.

So, I decided to try it.

NOT my mom’s old people Zumba dance classes. But just…exercise.

I mean, I get some exercise during PE at school. But let’s be honest. Usually I’m trying not to be a sweaty mess for the rest of the school day. So I maaaaybe don’t put in my full effort. (Shhh…nobody tell the PE teacher!)

But, my mom keeps coming home from the gym with a goofy exercise high. So I decided to try running. I figured, how hard can it be? I’ve known how to run since I was like two years old!

So I put on sneakers and comfy clothes, cued up an upbeat playlist on my phone, popped in my ear buds, and headed outside.

I hadn’t really planned WHERE I’d run. I mean, that’s the beauty of running, right? You can basically go anywhere. No limits! I hadn’t even started and I felt this awesome freedom!!

I picked a direction and started running. It was GREAT! The wind blew through my hair! I felt powerful, like one of those kick-butt Olympic gymnasts running toward the vault. Maybe I would BECOME an Olympic athlete! Or, maybe one of those track runners, probably the ones who do marathons. (Or whatever the longest distance is.)

And then…I got a leg cramp. Also, my lungs stopped working. I was pretty sure I was going to pass out. I hunched over and rested my hands on my knees. As I caught my breath, I looked down the street.

I could still see my house. Like two blocks away.

I hadn’t even listened to one whole song!!!

How was this possible??? How did my ancient mother come home from the gym looking like she’d had a massage and a bubble bath? And how did those Olympians run for HOURS???

“Nikki? Are you okay?”

I would have jumped if there had been any strength left in my legs. There was Max Crumbly, walking his grandma’s dog.

“Do you need help?”

I tried to answer, but I was so out of breath I couldn’t speak. I waved my hand in the air in a way that was supposed to say, “It’s fine! I’m totally cool! Nothing to see here! And would you mind not mentioning this to your best friend, Brandon?”

“Maybe you should sit down?”

I decided sitting would be better than falling. So I sat on the curb and Max sat next to me.

“New Year’s resolution, huh?” he said. “Jogging? I tried that once. Totally bombed. But you probably just need some more practice.”
I still couldn’t talk.

“I’d offer you my inhaler, but I don’t think it’ll help unless you have asthma. Do you have asthma?”

“No,” I managed to say.

“Wow. How far did you run?”

Max seems like a really nice guy. I considered telling him I’d only run two blocks. He’d probably be sympathetic. I held up two fingers.

“Two miles? Nice!”

He held up a hand. I couldn’t help myself. I high-fived him.

And THEN! Before I knew what he was doing, he’d whipped out a phone, leaned in, and snapped a picture of the two of us.

“What are you…”

“Just sending a text to Brandon! Showing him you’re a runner! He likes running. Maybe you guys can run together sometime! Okay, well I’ve got to be getting back to my grandma’s. Are you going to make it home okay, Nikki?”
I nodded, in shock. Somewhere, Brandon was opening up a text message to see a totally sweaty, red-faced me, slumped over his friend Max.

New Year’s resolutions are the WORST.

Just then, my phone dinged with a text alert. I looked down.

Hey Nikki! I didn’t know you were a runner! Want to hit the View Ridge Loop sometime? It’s only three miles, but there are some great hills. Let me know!

I mean, for half a second I considered getting back up and continuing to run. Training as hard as I could so I’d be up to running three miles with Brandon. Someday.

But who was I kidding??? I texted back:

OMG Brandon, that would have been SO fun!!! But my trick knee’s been acting up and the doc said I’d have to stop running if that happened again. I’m happy to give you some coaching tips, though! :)

January 1, 2017

January Calendar – Happy New Year

dd-janaury-calendar-single-preview1 vertical page – 8½ x 11in
December 21, 2016

When You’re Stuck With Kooky Family Members During The Holidays 

ask-nikki-big-family1Hi everyone, Nikki here!  Since we’ll all be stuck with our families for the holidays and the New Year, I thought I’d re-post this advice column about how to deal with your zany family members at family get-togethers.

I have a very large family. All of my relatives live in different cities, so during the holidays we have big family gatherings.

I HATE attending these gatherings because everyone gets pretty rowdy, including the kids. It makes me feel nervous and uncomfortable.

I can’t tell my parents that I don’t want to attend the gatherings because I HAVE to. What should I do?


Hi Gunjan! That’s so cool that you have a big family, though I’m sure it’s a little annoying that they get so wild. It sounds like you’re not as outgoing as everyone else, and you like things a little more chill and quiet.

I get why your parents would want you to be part of these gatherings, since they’re big family events, and you’re an important part of your family.

But I’m sure your mom wouldn’t be so happy if one night she found you curled up in a ball in the corner, plugging your ears, muttering, “So loud… too crazy… FREAKING OUT!!!”

Maybe it would help to tell her how you feel and suggest a few solutions.

You could explain that it actually makes you super anxious to be around so much activity and rowdy people.

Then you could ask if she’s cool with any of these ideas:

  1. Maybe after you chat with the whole group for a while, you can go up to your room and work on extra credit stuff for school, and then you can come back down toward the end of the night after having a little space. (Parents LOVE when you volunteer to do extra credit! To them, this means “eventual college scholarship and fewer nights eating spam and Raman noodles to save up for tuition.”)
  2. You can see if any of your cousins want to join you for a quiet activity in your room (or their room, if you’re at their house), like watching a movie or playing a game.
  3. If it’s nice outside, maybe you can ask if after socializing a little, you can sit in the backyard with your cousins and play Go Fish or another card game (if you have a table and light back there).
  4. If your parents aren’t cool with you leaving the main area, or no one wants to do something quieter with you, maybe you can bust out your iPod for a little while and listen to music when you start getting annoyed or stressed out.

It’s possible that your mom might say something like, “It’s once a month! Suck it up, loosen up, and have a little fun!”

And the last part isn’t bad advice. It IS only once a month, and maybe if you relax a bit, these parties will seem less obnoxious and more entertaining.

(My family is SUPER entertaining when they’re obnoxious…and I have a whole blog that proves it!)

What do you guys think?  Do you have any advice for Gunjan? How do you deal with kooky family members during the holidays? I’d also love to hear all about your kookiest family member!