Chick flick genetics

Last night we watched the finale of a sitcom, The Middle, that we’ve followed for nearly 10 years now. Tom was on a business trip, so it was just me and the three kids parked on the sofa. One of the boys left during the first few minutes of the show because he was magnetically drawn to the Xbox in the other room. The other boy seemed only halfway present, as he occasionally glanced from his phone to the TV screen while wearing headphones and listening to music. As the show’s big finale unfolded, two characters – who’ve been in love with each other all season but weren’t sure that the other person felt the same way – finally got [...]

Epic exhaustion

Remember that time you went to your high school prom and there were exotic birds, paid performers twirling fire torches, and a caged live tiger at the center of the dance floor? No? That didn’t happen at your prom? Me, either. At my prom, there were some balloons, streamers and a shimmery photo backdrop that went with the “Under the Sea” theme. No one even mentioned anything about the lack of a live shark. We didn’t need one because it was prom, which was already a big deal – no exotic animals required. But at a recent event in Miami, plain old prom wasn’t enough for one high school. Judging by the torches, the jungle drums, the parrots, the lemur [...]

No dice on the ice

Dear Ice Maker, I’m going to have to give you a new name. Your current one – ice maker – isn’t accurate any more since you don’t make ice and haven’t for two weeks now. From this point on, I’m going to call you Lucille. And in the words of country music legend Kenny Rogers, “You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.” The weather is warming up, and you’ve gone down. As far as I can tell, I gave you no reason to quit on this relationship. It has always been simple between you and me. I press the button on the front of the refrigerator door, and you shoot ice into my cup before I fill it [...]

Teenagers feel burnout, too.

Burnout. It’s not just for middle-aged workaholics anymore. Sometimes even teenagers get it. As the mother of two teens and one tween, I’ve seen it happen with all my kids at one point or another. It moves in like an unexpected storm cloud, and it’s more likely to strike late in the evening. The happy-go-lucky kid who chatted cheerfully at the breakfast table ends the day by morphing into a lanky, sullen version of Eeyore the donkey, consumed with gloom. The first few times I saw it, I was mystified. How can someone so young have the same feelings that people in a mid-life crisis struggle with? I tried talking him out of it. I tried pointing out the bright [...]

To bee or not to bee: One mom’s un-bee-lievable day

Bee removal in Northwest Arkansas Last Saturday, we saw something we’ve never seen before. A large, black cloud of swarming bees appeared in our backyard, hovering over the deck like a chaotic storm. We spotted it from the kitchen window and watched as they clustered on a wood railing. About 10 minutes later, they were gone. We assumed they were just passing through on their way to the hive or wherever it is bees go. But two days later, when the construction crew showed up to continue working on the home addition we’re building, we received some alarming news. That swarm of bees didn’t just pass through. They moved in. As the builders began work, a few concerned bees emerged [...]

Naked and afraid… of barnacles

A few days ago, I locked the door and stood naked in my bathroom, ready to perform my annual spring tradition –  the head-to-toe application of self-tanning lotion. It’s a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience, even though I’m alone in the room. I have to look in the mirror to make sure I’ve applied the lotion evenly, and looking in the mirror during April makes me realize that calories consumed during winter didn’t melt away with the snow. But there’s no avoiding this seasonal rite of passage. Without self-tanning lotion, I spend the spring and summer looking like one of those scary albino fish that live at the bottom of the ocean and never see the sun. Even though I get [...]

When good girls eat bad cereal

On the morning I turned 45 last month, Tom gave me a gift right after I dropped the kids off at school. Waiting for me on the kitchen counter was a birthday card and a box of cereal bearing a familiar face I hadn’t seen in the kitchen since my 20s – Cap’n Crunch. I nearly squealed with delight. I clapped my hands, as if a great performance had just happened right there on the kitchen island. Then I had to make a decision: To eat or not to eat? After all, I’d given up sugary cereals years ago because it felt like the grown-up thing to do. But I knew Tom was trying to remind me of a simpler [...]

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 [...]