Larry’s Legacy

This is not the column I planned to write today. What I had in mind was something light and funny, but if I tried to write those words today, they’d be hollow. Even worse, they’d be fake. Because today isn’t light and funny. Today all I can think about is how our friend Jackie is dealing with the worst phone call of her life. She’s had to follow that phone call with dozens more of her own, letting family and friends know that Larry, her husband of more than 25 years, died suddenly last night, even before the ambulance could get him to the hospital. She was on a business trip when the call came. The shock of it is [...]

5 easy steps to getting your way

Whether you’re forty-something or only 4, we all want our own way. Toddlers are especially insistent about getting their own way which is why you’ll often see one out in public having a meltdown when things haven’t gone well. As we get older, we learn to relax a little but, underneath the seemingly mature, reasonable façade, we all want what we want. So here’s a handy how-to guide for how to shift the odds in your favor, especially when dealing with kids. (Feel free to try them on spouses and co-workers, too.) Some might think these steps are sneaky or manipulative. I’d just call them “effective.” Step 1: Make it easy for them to do it your way. We humans [...]

Color me happy

As soon as I spotted it at the bookstore last week, I wanted to slap my forehead and say, “Of course! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?” I rushed my copy of the “Zen Coloring Book” up to the front counter so I could pay for it. Yes, I’m a 42-year-old woman who got giddy about a new coloring book. But this is not your preschooler’s coloring book. This one is for grown-ups. Similar books are sometimes called “mandalas” or “adult coloring books.” (A friend pointed out that the phrase “adult coloring book” might make some people think that the pictures are of things you might see on a naughty pay-per-view channel. Trust me, it’s not that kind of [...]

“Parents, take your mark.”

I crawled into bed last night earlier than usual feeling completely exhausted. That swim meet really wore me out. But I didn’t swim a single stroke. The kids did, though. They swam freestyle races, backstroke races, breaststroke races and a couple of relay races, too. And even though Tom and I were in the stands watching and cheering them on, by the end of the night it felt like I’d raced my heart out as well. Every time the announcer said, “Swimmers, take your mark,” a ball of nervous energy ballooned up in my chest. Then when the starting buzzer sounded, I stood up as the kids dove into the pool and held my breath while they sliced through the [...]

Married to a frequent flyer

Well, that was a first. I just finished a conversation with my husband and there was 30,000 feet of vertical space between us at the time. Using the plane’s Wi-Fi connection – which they charge you for, of course – he texted me from a flight headed for… somewhere. He probably told me, but I’ve already forgotten. Chicago? D.C.? It might be one of those. At some point all the itineraries start to blur together. Lately his job has him winging his way around the country pretty often, which has forced us to adjust to a new normal at our house. We’re getting used to seeing luggage by the door, and the kids know that although the end of the [...]

No mood for rude

People are rude. Not all people. And definitely not you. (My research has shown that the people who regularly read this column are not only kind but are also much smarter than the average bear. Congratulations.) But some people – and you’ve no doubt met many of them – are just plain rude. It isn’t a new realization and yet, when I come across blatant rudeness, I’m still astonished every single time. We could “why” this situation all day long and sometimes I do. Did their mamas not raise them right? Were their mamas rude? Do they have some kind of personality disorder that predisposes them to rudeness? Are their shoes too tight? There are a million possibilities. No matter [...]

Calendar entries don’t lie

I typed the appointment time into my smartphone calendar app and then frowned down at the glowing screen. I was beginning to see a pattern, and I didn’t like it. Thursday: Oral surgery to have wisdom teeth removed Next Tuesday: Mammogram Third Thursday: Eye exam Fourth Friday: Annual physical Next month: Teeth cleaning Lately it feels like I’m always scheduling another doctor’s appointment. When I factor in regular checkups for our three kids PLUS the appointments with my hair stylist who expertly covers these pesky gray hairs that keep popping up, I’m realizing that a big chunk of my life is spent in appointments. Sometimes I see someone out in public and instantly recognize the face but can’t think of [...]

Welcome back, Summer!

Oh Summer, where have you been? There were moments during this winter’s bitter chills and this spring’s rainy season when I thought you might never show up. The days dragged on and we saw only a glimpse of sun here and there, just enough to keep us hoping that maybe one day you’d show up to stay. Today seems to be that day. It’s only mid-morning but we’ve already got bright sunshine and a picture-perfect 75 degrees with a slight breeze. It feels as though Mother Nature has handed us a bottle of all-natural antidepressants and said, “Here you go. You were starting to look kind of gloomy under all those clouds and umbrellas. This should perk you right up.” [...]

Awkward phase versus social media

Like many kids, I went through an “awkward stage.” A long one. Some days, I’m not even sure it has ended yet. It was particularly bad in the fifth and sixth grades, when I decided a colored piece of yarn tied in a loopy bow might make for a good headband. It didn’t. Beyond that, I wore purplish blue glasses on a pale, freckly face. And I was skinny to the point of being gangly. When I was old enough to start wearing makeup, it was the mid-eighties and we all thought blue eye shadow was a gift from the cosmetic gods. So I layered on tons of it until it looked like I had a blue shimmery dolphin arcing [...]

Am I exasperating my kids?

Whether you’re religious or not, most parents can agree on the absolute truth and wisdom of the verse in the Bible that says, “Honor your father and mother.” It’s such an important verse that it lands smack dab in the middle of the Ten Commandments, right above “Thou shalt not murder.” We parents are big fans of this particular rule. Any time this verse get read aloud in church, every parent in the room cuts his or her eyes over toward their kids with a satisfied look that says, “See there? God said so.” But lately I’ve also been thinking about another line from the Bible – one that kids are often thrilled to hear – which says this: “Fathers, [...]