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, [...]

Vices in a vice grip

You know what I think about sometimes right before I fall asleep? Cereal. I imagine how lovely it would have been to sit down with a bowl of my favorite kind of cereal for a late-night snack before bed. It used to be my nighttime ritual. On most nights, I’d have a bowl of Special K or Raisin Bran because they seemed like a healthier choice than the Froot Loops I truly wanted. But then a friend and exercise instructor told me that my cereal habit might be adding way too much sugar in my diet. And sugar is bad about making a body hold on to those pesky pounds it should really lose. “But wait! It’s not like I’m [...]

Remodeling: Pickers and choosers

Remodeling your house is a little like having a baby. It’s wonderful and exciting – right up until the sledgehammer smashes into the first wall. Then it becomes like childbirth itself – messy, scary and painful. We’ve remodeled a kitchen before, but this time around we’re moving our washer and dryer out of their tiny closet and into a new room of their own. (You know you’ve been married with kids for a long time when the idea of a new laundry room gets you this excited.) But the biggest part of the remodeling project is a new bathroom that will be used by 8-year-old Kate. She’s wildly excited about the idea of not sharing space with her two older [...]

Fruity chocolate

There’s a big bag of candy on the kitchen counter and no one is eating it. In a house with three kids and a chocolate-loving husband, this is bizarre. Candy and treats usually only last as long as it takes to rip them from their paper wrappers. So why is it still languishing here, three weeks after arrival? Two reasons. First off, the Easter Bunny overdid it. He shopped for candy when he was hungry and ended up getting enough stuff to put a small country into a sugar coma. You would think the Easter Bunny would have learned this lesson by now, as this is not the first time he’s gone overboard. But I’m not one to blame a [...]

Dear Greg

Dear Greg, April sucks. It really does. Each year as the calendar creeps closer to April 20th, the knot in my throat gets a little bigger each day until I’m nearly choking on the reality that I’ve missed you for another whole year. It’s been 14 years now since I got that phone call that changed everything for me and for Mom and Dad. If I let myself, I can almost replay the conversation line by line. I can hear exactly how the police officer sounded when he told me you’d died. “That can’t be right,” I said. “Are you sure? Are you sure?” “We’re sure, ma’am. I’m sorry, but we’re sure.” The days and months after that phone call [...]

Resting My Eyes

I opened my eyes and fought my way up toward the surface of consciousness after a deep, blissful sleep. The first thing I saw was 10-year-old Jack’s face, and I instantly recognized his expression of mildly frustrated disappointment. I recognized it because, when I was his age, I felt and probably looked exactly the same way when my parents spent part of a weekend afternoon doing what I’d just done – sleep. I remember stomping around our house hoping the louder-than-usual footsteps would get my parents up from their comfortable positions on the sofa or in the recliner. Weren’t they bored by all this time doing nothing? Didn’t they know there were about a million more interesting things to do [...]

How Spring Break nearly broke me

The world that exists inside your own head is a much kinder, gentler world than the one outside. I know this because, inside my head, I’m younger, I’m better looking and I’m physically and mentally tough. Outside my head? Not so much. What happened this week has made that much painfully clear. Yesterday was the first day of our kids’ week-long Spring break from school. The sun was shining, the temperatures were rising and I was determined to get us all out of the house to embrace the day. So we laced up our tennis shoes, strapped on our bike helmets and headed toward the closest bike trail. The first few minutes of the bike ride were lovely. The sun [...]

The Name Game

In Dale Carnegie’s famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he wrote that you should use a person’s name when you’re talking to them because “…a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” I’m not here to argue with Dale Carnegie because five million books sold can’t be wrong. But I do wonder if the sound of your own name is always as appealing as he says it is. The other day I sat across from a woman at the orthodontist’s office who was running my credit card so I could pay for our son’s braces. She glanced at the name on my card and said, “Oh, that’s a nice [...]

Have trash, will travel

When I noticed the delivery box on the front steps, I flung open the door and greedily grabbed it. I hauled it to the kitchen, grabbed a pair of scissors and sliced through the packing tape in one stroke. “What’s that?” Tom asked. “It’s my new trash can,” I said. “In that small box?” he said. “It’s a trash can for the car,” I explained. “Another one? What is this crazy obsession you have with car trash cans?” he said. “It’s not an obsession, Tom. It’s a necessity. Your children are very messy and I’m usually the one hauling them all over town.” He rolled his eyes because the kids are always “his” when they’re leaving a trail of crumbs, [...]

On Sound of Music and Seuss

A remarkable thing happened this month. The Sound of Music (the movie) turned 50 years old and readers all over the world celebrated the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss on the very same day, March 2nd. It’s perfectly fitting that those two things happened simultaneously because, for many reasons, the movie and the books should be required viewing and reading for every kid on the planet. Usually I don’t even like musicals. When I see one, I always end up thinking it’d be a better movie if people would just stop singing at each other all the time. But The Sound of Music is different. Even after 50 years, it still works. I’ve already had my kids watch the [...]