An unromantic Valentine

My husband Tom once accused me of being unromantic. As much as I hate to admit it, I think he might be right. It’s ironic, too, because I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy, even the cheesy ones that get rerun on cable stations. I’ll watch them over and over and enjoy it every time. And a romantic novel? I’ll stay up way too late reading those, too. But when it comes to real life, I’m more practical. One time in college, a friend told me about her date during which the guy sang to her and read a love poem he’d written. The other girls listening to this story swooned over how amazing it must have been. I, on [...]

“It’s about life skills, kids.”

When you bring a baby home from the hospital, all the baby books say you should do something called “tummy time.” It means you should let the baby spend a little time on his tummy when he’s awake. Tummy time helps the baby strengthen the muscles in his neck, shoulders and upper body – muscles he’ll use to sit up on his own one day. There’s only one problem with tummy time: Babies hate it. Because the baby hates it, parents tend to hate it, too. I remember watching my babies the first few times I put them down on their tummies. They’d squirm and struggle to lift their giant heads. They’d turn their face to one side, furrow their [...]

A long winter’s nap

I did something the other day I’m not proud of. I’d just come home from taking the kids to school on one of the coldest mornings of the year. Raindrops from the night before had frozen in mid-drip off the patio table. The sun had called in sick, leaving behind a bleak, gray sky, and the piercing cold seeped directly into my bones. I couldn’t shake it. I crossed my arms and hugged them to my chest to conserve body heat. The heater couldn’t work fast enough on the drafty house. With goosebumps all over, I shook off a shiver and trudged toward my desk to start the day’s work. Halfway there, I had an idea: “I could just get [...]

Down with brown

All I wanted was a new paint color. That’s it. But that one little wish pushed over the first domino in a long line of chore-related dominoes that landed me neck-deep in paperwork. I blame the color brown for all this trouble. My home office, where I’m supposed to be creative and whimsical (on a deadline) was painted a horrible shade of brown. Inside the brown room was a brown desk. The built-in shelving unit on the wall? Brown. And guess what color the carpet is. If you said “brown,” you clearly see why something had to be done, right? I was bombarded by brown, and it was bringing me down. “Honey, we have to paint this room,” I announced [...]

And they call it puppy love

Don’t tell my Beagle, but I’ve fallen in puppy love. My friend Shannon and her family just adopted an 8-week-old puppy from a local shelter, and she is puppy perfection – a fluffy white Lab mix with a touch of butter-colored hair on the tips of her floppy ears. Shannon has been texting me puppy pictures – snapshots that could easily be featured in a “Cutest Puppies of 2016” wall calendar. With her white fur and coal black eyes, she looks like a snow-white baby seal. After some heavy hinting on my part, Shannon’s daughter appointed me as the puppy’s official Godmother. So I went to their house to play with my God-dog, who licked my face, snuggled under my [...]

Dishes and Dollars

As appliances are known to do, my dishwasher quit working on a holiday. Maybe it decided that humans aren’t the only ones who need a few days off work. It ran its last load of dirty dishes on the last day of the year and rang in the New Year by leaking water all over the kitchen floor. Our appliance repairman took New Year’s Day off, too. So for the past three days, I’ve been washing dishes by hand. I’m not complaining, mind you. As problems go, this one is minor, and I’ve got to admit there’s something almost therapeutic about washing dishes, once you surrender to the inevitability of it. While your hands swish through the hot, soapy water, [...]

Start by starting

Something about New Year’s resolutions has always stirred up a stubborn resentment in me. My inner toddler stomps her feet and yells, “No! I won’t do it.” Maybe resolutions bug me because they imply we’re not good enough, not doing enough, not fill-in-the-blank enough. I feel that way plenty all by myself, so I don’t need an extra dose of it to kick off the New Year. Often resolutions feel more like drudgery – like being forced to eat my January Brussel sprouts. And in our society in particular, we get so caught up in the frenetic pace of “doing” more that we stop “being” still long enough to appreciate any of it. Truth be told, we all want something [...]

What they never tell you about the “golden years”

Dear Senior Citizens, Those of us in the insurance industry, along with the oh-so-helpful people in the federal and state government, would like to welcome you to this exciting time of life. Congratulations on the wisdom you’ve gained through your vast life experiences. You’re going to need every bit of that wisdom as you navigate your golden years, which can often be tarnished by the avalanche of red tape that comes with getting older. Let us explain it to you in the most convoluted way possible. An aging body sometimes needs medical attention to stay healthy. The good news is that you’re old enough now to receive Medicare benefits. The bad news is that those benefits only cover about 80% [...]

Christmas List Inflation

Christmas used to be simpler. I’m not talking about way back when people roasted chestnuts and used flip phones. I’m talking about eight or so years ago, when our three kids were little. I don’t know why I worried about Christmas preparations back then because the kids were thrilled with the smallest things. We’d encourage them to rip the wrapping paper open, and they’d squeal with delight. We’d let them drink hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and stay up later than usual. They had Santa and Elf on the Shelf and Elmo. What more could a kid want? It didn’t even matter what was inside the gift boxes. They’d stick gift bows on the cat and play inside the empty [...]

The two most powerful words

I glanced around my office this morning and realized that, if I have a decorating motif in this messy place, it must revolve around words. They’re everywhere. On one shelf is a small plaque that says “My greatest blessings call me Mom.” Another one says “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Above my computer, a square stone has these words etched into it: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (I read that one a few thousand times when I’m on deadline and staring at a blank page.) On another shelf is a sign that says “If at first you don’t succeed, do it like your mother told [...]