“The literary equivalent of a summer night, a good friend and a gin-and-tonic: Shannon is a deft writer; a natural storyteller with a wicked turn of phrase and frighteningly specific memory...”

Download Shannon's story, "Beautiful Boy, Brandon Lee," in its full length, excerpted from her book, Smash, Crash & Burn.

What Makes Me Feel Optimistic In A World Full Of Bad News

If you read my blog you know I’m capable of catastrophic Irish morbidity. Case in point. When my daughters strike an aloof attitude toward me as I leave the house, I have to muzzle myself from saying: “You should hug me

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6 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Kids Happy on Vacation (we’re in Paris) While Enjoying It Yourself

Welcome to my Traveling With Kids In Paris series: This year our vacation has been to Paris over the kids’ winter break. Here are my 6 tried-and-true ways to keep your kids happy on vacation while still being able to

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Let Them Eat Orange Rinds aka Traveling With Kids in Paris

TRAVELING WITH KIDS IN PARIS! Shhh. I’m hiding in an internet cafe on Rue Thouin across the street from the apartment we’re renting on the Left Bank in the Latin Quarter in Paris. Henry left us for the day to

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In Defense of a Commercial Christmas aka Soulless Loot Trolls

We Collearys are not a religious people. Henry’s a recovering Catholic. I was raised Mormon and love them dearly, but simply could not commit to “One True Church” or give up wine (the Mormon age for baptism is 8, but

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The Boy I Tutor Doesn’t Appreciate Me aka It’s Not About You, Shannon!

I’m embarrassing the pubescent testosterone right out of Miguel just by standing in the doorway of his homeroom class. Miguel’s a 13-year old 8th grader trying desperately to cultivate a mustache that looks like a black caterpillar, an attitude that

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My Name Is Tom

Last week I picked my daughters and a friend of theirs up from school. We made a pitstop at our favorite taco truck in front of a car wash on Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevards. As we waited in line

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How I Ended Up Holding A Package of Brains aka Public Education

I was a little startled to find myself holding a package containing twelve vacuum-packed brains last Wednesday. “Please tell me these aren’t what I think they are,” I asked Mr. Bishop, a sixth grade science teacher who has Multiple Sclerosis.

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Yea Though I Walk Through The Valley Of Lice

It hath come to pass that a plague hath beset the Colleary family whereupon we were ravaged by lice. No, they were not any of the particular louses that Shannon hath, in the past, lain with like the Whore of

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What Happened When I Said No To My Daughter

My daughters’ snuggles are my form of crack. On a biochemical level my body sinks into a deeper calm when I hold them. And it doesn’t seem to matter that they’re at that no-man’s land between toddlerdom and teendom where

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When Your Daughter Hits Below The Belt

It seemed like an ordinary night. There were no harbingers of doom — a murder of black crows on the telephone wires outside, a vanity mirror broken jaggedly down its center.  No, all was as it usually was. Henry was

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My Shiksa Daughters Want to be Jewish

We went to a Bar Mitzvah Saturday. You would have thought we’d asked our tween Shiksa daughters to shave their heads and flap their arms when they walked. The caterwauling. Yes, they had to miss part of their best friend’s

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The Drugs Talk With My 11-Year old

Middle school started on Tuesday. Would there be gang bangers? Mean girls? Nurse Ratched-style teachers? One-eyed drug dealers? Should I stop watching CNN? My daughter loves her new school, her teachers and the excitement of the next phase of her

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My Tween Daughters And I Love “Camp Gyno”

If you’re the mother of daughters just ramping up for puberty this Camp Gyno video is a must. (this is NOT a sponsored post). It’s both irreverent and empowering and a perfect launching pad for the awkward talk about puberty.

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My Kids Aren’t Me

I always think my kids will like the things I like. I was a water baby. I lived in the ocean as a kid visiting my grandma-Santa-Barbara every summer. I loved camping. The mildewy smell of a tent in the

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My Kid Needs A Therapist

I have a child who is anxious about a big transition coming up.  We’re moving to Nebraska where we’ll be installed in the Witness Protection Program as Amish farmers in order to avoid swimming with the fishes for a mafia

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I Could’ve Been A Milk Carton Kid – Which is Why I Helicopter Parent

My friend Amy told me she lets her 10-year old walk around our neighborhood alone. I tried to keep myself from gasping aloud. I gasped internally, imagining all the kidnappers circling her child in their unmarked, white vans. Then she

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My Daughter’s 11-Year Old Friend Got Her First Period

Right after the fifth grade culmination ceremony yesterday Clare’s good friend Gabriella (the names have been changed to protect the identity of the pubescents) got her first period. Sweet Jesus. It felt to me like the beginning of the end

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Little Girl Movie Star Parties Freaked Me Out, Not Anymore

I’ve been Professor McGonegle. I’ve been Medusa. And now I’ve been Makeup-Artist-to-the-Stars, Gilda. I blame my myriad incarnations on my daughter Bridget because she insists upon Theme Birthdays with no extra outside help every. single. year. When she was seven

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Castrating an Unwitting Softball Commissioner

A child who shall remain nameless (so if you think you know which child she is, you don’t!) came home tonight from her first softball practice of the season having discovered that none of her former teammates are on her

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You Read, Therefore I Am

I’m back!  Wait .. whaddaya mean you didn’t know I was gone? Didn’t your world feel a little bit empty? Wasn’t it harder to laugh, cry, flagellate yourself for eating that renegade bear claw that leaped out at you from

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Is Middle School The Mordor of Middle Earth?

This is me in middle school: Okay, I was thirty-five in that photo, but I’m worried that will be my daughter Clare if she falls in with “the wrong crowd” in sixth grade. Today we took her on a tour

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The Happiness Photos

I’m happy today. What the hell am I going to blog about? Oh, Happiness how you foil my creativity! How soft and sloppy you make me! How ineffably boring. Here are my happiness photos: But don’t worry, I’m certain my

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Do You Ever Get Sick of Yourself?

Every now and then I catch my Super Ego being an asshole. I love attention. I seek it like plants seek the sun, growing around corners to find it. And every now and then my better self, that which is Divine

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When Is It TMI For Kids?

Bridget came home the other day and said, “Mommy I love third grade.” What luck! Thought I.  She must love her teacher, unlike me with cross-eyed Miss Henzi who yelled, but you could never tell who she was yelling at.

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5 Things Not To Do In Front Of Your Daughters

Clare is 10, Bridget is 8. They still climb in bed with us in the morning. They still want to snuggle in front of the TV. They forever and endlessly want me to scratch their unrelenting backs. Sometimes they declare

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