My iPhone is learning my life

I saw something the other day, and I’m still trying to decide if it’s cool or creepy – or both. Perhaps you can be the judge. But first, here’s the backstory. Every three weeks, I go to a meeting in a town about 25 minutes away from my house. Sometimes the meeting falls toward the end of the month or near the beginning or somewhere in the middle. The only constant thing about the meeting is that it’s always on a Thursday, and it’s always at the same place. After the meeting, my business partner and I typically have lunch. Lately, we’ve been in a soup and sandwich mood, so we’ve been going to McAlister’s Deli, which is just a [...]

Clean two closets and call me in the morning

Today was the first day of spring but no one told the sun. It was an overcast day whipped around by a cold wind, so I stayed inside and did what people are supposed to do in spring. I cleaned. But I didn’t wash windows or scrub baseboards, even though they need it. I did something I knew would be good for my soul as well as the house. I purged and containerized. We’ve lived in this house for 12 years now – longer than we’ve ever lived anywhere else. And the past dozen years have taught me that homes, much like the people who live in them, tend to put on weight over the years. They get a little [...]

Mark my words

Here’s a little fact I didn’t know until today. Puppies – like the one we brought home last summer – turn into “canine teenagers.” It can happen as soon as 4 months of age and can sometimes last until 18 months of age, depending on the breed. Do you know what that means? It means I now have THREE male teenagers in my house as well as one girl hovering in the “tween” stage. Lord, help me. During the past few weeks, 9-month-old Cooper the Corgi has gone crazy, and he’s taking me with him. Our sweet little puppy with bunny-soft fur and oversized ears has become a bigger, bossier version of himself. This new version is a lot like [...]

The stroke he forgot

Today I told my dad, for what is probably the 20th time, that the reason he’s having trouble talking is because he had a stroke. It happened on February 10th, but he doesn’t remember. He also doesn’t remember the trip to the Emergency Room or the way a team of doctors and nurses descended on him to quickly assess what had happened to him during the night. He doesn’t remember the three days in the hospital that followed. He doesn’t know that, for the first few days after the stroke, the only word he could say was “No.” He has no memory of the stroke rehabilitation center he tried to walk out of a few days later. I wish I [...]

The rigged election of 1991

Today I confess a secret I’ve kept for more than two decades. In 1991, when I was co-editor of my high school yearbook, I rigged an election – sort of. Here’s what happened. As one of the leaders of the yearbook staff, I helped count votes for the various polling we did of the senior class – decisions like “Best Dressed,” “Most Talented,” and “Class Song.” As it was nearing time for the week of voting to close, I saw that there were two songs that had pulled way ahead in the polls. One of them was the song “Don’t You Forget About Me,” by a band called Simple Minds. The other song was the Garth Brooks anthem “I’ve Got [...]

Beware of full-grown toddlers

Those of us who have survived the toddler years know a thing or two about rage because we’ve seen it up close and personal. Even though my kids are tweens and teens now, I still vividly remember that tricky stage of development. It’s not called the “terrible 2’s” because of its healthy spirit of cooperation. It’s called “terrible” because you’re basically dealing with toddler tyranny. But the good thing about a 2-year-old is that his or her tendency toward irrational rage is balanced out by the attention span of a goldfish. When my 2-year-old pitched a fit, I’d act like I was fascinated by something shiny right outside the window. Or I’d turn on a silly song and start dancing. [...]

Teenagers’ Number 1 Fear (and how to avoid the slime)

About seven years ago – before I had teenagers of my own – I got an opportunity to interview a child psychologist for an article I was writing. During the interview, I asked the doctor for tips on how parents could better relate to teenagers. What he said stuck with me: “Parents need to remember that almost all teenagers have the same number one fear, and it influences nearly everything they do and say.” “What’s the number one fear?” I asked. “Embarrassment,” he said, matter-of-factly. “They’ll do almost anything to avoid it.” It sounded simple enough at the time, and, more importantly, it rang true. I could remember being a teenager myself and thinking that a root canal without anesthesia [...]

State of the Household Address

Husband, children, dogs, cat, my fellow housemates: Tonight marks the 20th year I’ve come here to report on the State of our Household. I ask that you join me as we lower our iPhones and raise our sights on a more perfect family union. If we all work in the spirit of progress, we can make this a better place to live. But parents and kids must reach across the aisle toward each other to find bipartisan solutions. No more petty bickering about who drank all the milk. Together we can address the challenges that are vital to the innerworkings of our household’s government. First, let us look toward the budget. I know the minors in this household feel that [...]

Workin’ at the dog wash

When we brought our new dog home last summer, I expected the usual trials of raising a puppy – the house-training, the chewing, the short attention span. But I never imagined I’d have trouble giving him a bath. I’d always considered myself somewhat of a professional when it comes to dog hygiene. When I was a kid, I’d always been the one to bathe our family dog. Then as a teenager, I got a job as a dog washer at our town’s grooming salon. I’ll never forget that first day at work. The groomer led me out back to a fenced area and pointed to the largest dog I’d ever seen – a Saint Bernard named Eddie. “Give him a [...]

10 Signs That You Might Be a Homebody

I have a confession that will make me look supremely uncool. I’m a homebody. It’s not an easy thing to admit in a go-go society where “more is more” and social media favors movers and shakers. But it’s true, and I was probably born this way. Even as a kid, I’d go on sleepovers at a friend’s house and almost always come down with some kind of virus the second I got back home – as if my body was rebelling against the separation from my own bed. One time in middle school, I went on a church youth group mission trip to Mexico, but the bus broke down on the side of the interstate on the way there – [...]