Mom gone viral

Friends, today is a good day – one I’m especially grateful for as I emerge from a three-day virus that reminded me how quickly a germ can reduce a person to a miserable blob of mucus, praying for relief. This particular germ has become a frequent flyer at our house lately. In our five-person family, I was the fourth to fall victim to it. Our 17-year-old is the only one thus far to escape its wrath, and I’m pretty sure he’s safe because not even a virus wants to mess around with a moody teenager. Like most viral illnesses, this one came on suddenly and began with what felt like a mild burn in the back of my throat – [...]

Modern-day snow days

When we went to bed last night, we didn’t think it would happen. We prepared the kids for the cold Monday morning school day that likely awaited them. But then shortly after 5 a.m., phones across our great land pinged with the most glorious of text messages: SNOW DAY! Our oldest son was the first to see the text and promptly made the rounds to the rest of our bedrooms to share the joyous news, which was met with a groggy grunt and then an “Awesome” followed by a roll-over to resume sleep. Clearly, the Lord had heard the urgent prayers of kids across the tri-county area and granted what may be our only snow day of the year. With [...]

The wonderful world of weird news

It’s not easy to closely follow the national news these days. It can be frustrating and depressing at times. But recently I’ve found a refreshing option that gives news junkies like me a good dose of information, minus the political circus. It’s called strange news. If you do an Internet search for weird or strange news, you’ll find a few different sources. NBC has a collection of it, as does the Huffington Post. But my favorite stash of strange news is compiled by the National Public Radio’s website. It’s the kind of place where you can read about a rare sighting of the world’s largest bee – an insect described as a “flying bulldog” with a tongue that measures more [...]

Squinting into the future

Yesterday I chaperoned my parents, who are now in their 70s and 80s, to an eye doctor’s appointment. My dad is scheduled for cataract surgery next month, so he needed to have some pre-operative tests done in advance. As a young doctor sat in front of the three of us, I thought about how “full circle” we’ve come. My parents used to take me to the doctor and sort through my childhood ailments, and now I’m the one asking the doctor questions about dad’s upcoming procedure. While holding an oversized plastic model of the human eye, the doctor explained what happens inside the eye as we age. “See this lens right here?” he said, motioning to my dad who was [...]

Rocky Mountain Revelation

As a self-confessed homebody and certified “indoor person,” I don’t gush about outdoor adventures. I’ve been known to avoid them, especially when they include chance encounters with snakes, bugs or camping tents. But I’m about to gush for what may be the first time ever. My family and I just flew back from Colorado where we took a long weekend to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. We met them in Breckenridge, a ski resort town. We skied for one day, and I enjoyed it as much as possible for a person like me. Whenever I’m skiing, I appreciate the beautiful scenery and the feel of gliding down the slope, but I’m always mindful of the risk – how you [...]

Modern day procrastination

Here’s a tricky question: How do you teach your kids a lesson you’re not sure you’ve learned yourself? That’s the dilemma Tom and I find ourselves in as our kids struggle with the dragon of delay – procrastination. After a few extremely late nights with homework and dramatic angst and self-loathing, our kid, who shall remain nameless (and sleepless), has realized there’s a dark, ugly side to putting things off. For the record, I tried to help him avoid this situation. I reminded. I nagged. I pointed out how late it was getting. But teenagers tend to insist they’ve “got this” or that “they’re on it.” (They’re usually not, by the way.) He’d been lured into the waltz of the [...]

Climb every ladder

You don’t realize how important your floors are until someone says you can’t walk on them – for a week. Unless you have a weird system of monkey bars on the ceiling of every room, living in your house while not touching the floor is impossible. That’s why most normal families pack a bag and leave home when the work crew that’s refinishing their hardwood floor says they can’t walk on it for a week. But then again, no one ever accused us of being normal. When Tom first floated this idea by me – how to stay in the house while not touching the floors – I almost dismissed it as lunacy. But the more I thought about it, [...]

I blame Roy

Yesterday I showed up at the right place, on the right day and at the right time for my kid’s doctor appointment with an allergy specialist. The only problem? I brought the wrong kid. Exasperated and more than a little embarrassed, I told the receptionist about the mix-up and asked to reschedule the appointment. She nodded knowingly and said, “I have four daughters. I totally understand.” Her understanding made me feel better for mixing up my own kids and messing up the appointment. A fellow parent knows that some days go down in a blaze of missteps. Mothers often get designated as the family’s “Rememberer-in-Chief.” There’s an underlying expectation that moms will remember not only our own to-do list and [...]

Fight, don’t freeze

My eyes were shut tight, but I could hear his approach. His guttural breathing came out slow, deep, and just loud enough to let me know he was too close. I tried to be still, but my body flinched when he grabbed my shoulders. My eyes flew open and I lunged toward him, jabbing my fingers toward his eyes. When he instinctively leaned back, I kicked – hard – between his legs. I did it again, and again, and again, pausing only long enough to keep my balance before launching another kick. He finally fell to one knee. I froze for a moment. Then I heard a woman’s voice say, “Kick the head!” I obeyed instantly and kicked his head, [...]

Do hamster balls come in extra, extra-large?

Today I flashed back about 35 years ago to a time when I went to play at a friend’s house for the afternoon. This friend had a hamster named Harry, who seemed harmless enough, except that he looked too much like a mouse on steroids. When I asked my friend what she did with the hamster besides hold it occasionally, she showed me his “exercise ball.” That’s when things got interesting. She put Harry into a transparent rubber ball, a little smaller than a volleyball, and he took off, rolling all over the room. Now and then he – or rather, his ball – would bump into a chair leg or the sofa, and he’d simply go a different direction. [...]