No food in my food, please

When it comes to what I eat, there’s one rule I almost never break – no food in my food. Simply put, it means I don’t mix things. Gravy and mashed potatoes are about the only two substances I allow to co-mingle on a dinner plate. I typically eat one food at a time and then move to the next food on the plate. It’s boring, I know, but it works for me. I reject the theory about how different foods “mix together in your stomach anyway.” Perhaps they do, but by the time the food hits my stomach, my taste buds don’t have to know about it. My husband Tom, on the other hand, has almost no rules when [...]

Teenage tunnel

It’s happening. I’ve seen the symptoms before so it’s easier to diagnose it this time. And even though I know what it is and I know it’s not permanent, it’s still unsettling. My kid – my sweet, kind-hearted middle kid who always loved a good hug and thought I was smart and funny – has become a teenager. It became official a few days ago when we celebrated his 13th birthday, but he’s been accelerating up the teenager on-ramp for months now. The symptoms are all there. The dramatic eye-rolling. The heavy sighs. The increased skepticism that I know what I’m talking about. The conviction that anything I pick out for him to wear must be, by default, uncool and [...]

Women versus the machines

Sometimes I yell at inanimate objects. Usually it’s one of the electronics – the printer, computer, television, garage door, microwave, and even the remote control. And the question I yell most often is this: “Why do you hate me?” I try not to take it personally – the fact that electronics always seem to malfunction when I’m the one using them. But I’m beginning to see a pattern. And I’ve spoken to several female friends who’ve experienced this same type of phenomenon, which backs up my theory: Household electronics hate women. Before you assume that the real issue is me or some lack of knowledge into what makes things work, let me assure you that’s not it. I’m as techie [...]

I heart Band Geeks

Last night, I went to our middle child’s 7th grade band concert, and it felt like going home to my roots and my people. Like my son, I’m a proud “band geek.” Always will be. I had some friends in school who weren’t band geeks, kids who were in athletics or cheerleading. Those activities are great, too, and I’m sure they build character and make great memories. But there’s something special about the bond between band geeks – a bond you only get from marching down the road less traveled. One thing that hasn’t changed in the 32 years since I’ve been in middle school is the political pecking order. Football and cheerleading are still at the top of the [...]

Swim down memory lane

I read a magazine article today about a new type of portable pool you can install in the back of a truck. It’s called a Pick-Up Pool, and it looks like a sleeker version of a waterproof mattress cover sized to fit perfectly in the back of a pick-up truck. I can’t wait to show the article to my dad, who was apparently way ahead of his time when, in the late 1970s, he turned his new dump truck into a swimming pool in our backyard. Judging by family photos, I must have been about 6 years old, and my brother was 12. The forest green dump truck was new – Dad’s big investment in his one-man landscaping business. But [...]

Small cart, big dreams

I went to Wal-Mart yesterday while the kids were at school and glanced longingly over at the new, fun-sized shopping carts lined up outside the automatic doors. Have you seen them yet? They’re about half the size of the regular carts and they have an upper and lower deck. If shopping carts were cars, this new cart is the cute convertible – easily navigating around those tired old minivan carts we usually drive down the aisles. It’s the perfect cart to use when you’re popping into the store for “just a few things.” I grabbed one of the “cute carts” about a month ago during what I thought would be a quick errand. I zipped down the bread aisle and [...]

Academic Football

Ours is not what you’d call a “sports family.” We like to watch college football and basketball and our kids compete in a few swim meets during the summer, but we’re not hard-core about it. We don’t take the kids to a practice every day, and we don’t do travel teams. In the South, that almost makes us weird. Most parents we know have the opposite situation. They’re constantly shuttling one or more kids to practice, and on weekends they go from one game or tournament to the next. During spring, there are some “baseball mom” friends I don’t see for months, unless I track them down at a ball field or a game gets rained out. But last weekend [...]

Anniversary of the worst day

Every year about this time, I wish there was a fast-forward button for life. I wouldn’t skip much – just a few days or so. Like most families, mine has an anniversary we don’t celebrate – one we dread the approach of because it renews the grief we felt the day we got the news. Even though it has been 16 years since it happened, we remember with painful clarity how devastating it was when my 34-year-old, larger-than-life big brother died suddenly in his sleep on April 20th. Loss imprints on people in a way that often includes the season in which it happened. Even though I love Spring’s warmer temperatures and blooms, I doubt there will ever be another [...]

Restaurant Wars

Of all the questions Americans grapple with, there’s one that pops up more frequently than the rest: “Where do you want to go eat?” Deciding should be easy. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. But when two or more people are involved in the restaurant-picking decision, things can easily go off the rails. The problem has everything to do with “food moods.” Finding two people in the mood for the same food at any given time is tricky. The more people you have in the car, the harder it is. I’ll demonstrate with the following conversation: “Where do you want to go eat?” “I don’t really care. What do you want?” “I’m kind of in the mood for [...]

Parent and kids post reviews on each other

As most parents know, one of the requirements of the job is to drive. Especially as kids get older and have more activities, the driving demands go way up. Often, time alone in the car with a kid can produce some of the best conversations a parent ever has. But sometimes, the miles are long and the conversations are either brutally brief or non-existent. During one of my recent trips, I started wondering what it would be like if moms and kids could post reviews of each other – much like drivers and riders do on transportation apps like Lyft and Uber. Here are a few of the reviews I imagine you’d see from both sides of the car. Review [...]