Digital tattoo

My friend Shannon and I recently went shopping for swimsuits at a clearance sale. Swimsuit shopping is a team sport in which you need a partner willing to grab a different size for you when you’re in the dressing room, someone who will tell you the brutal truth when a swimsuit is not doing you any favors, and someone who will commiserate about the fact that trying on swimsuits is like the root canal of shopping. Shannon and I have enjoyed this level of brutal honesty for a decade now, so we waded into the treacherous waters of swimsuit shopping together. After we searched through racks and racks of suits and collected a handful of “maybe’s,” we had the following [...]

Watch at your own risk

Tom and I have a problem. Summer television is mostly reruns so lately we’ve been binge-watching episodes of Fixer Upper, Property Brothers and Love It or List It on HGTV. We love these shows, but the producers should really begin each episode with a warning: “The following program contains images of renovations you will want in your home and that will look easier and less expensive than they actually are. Such renovations may be more than your skill level or bank account can withstand. Watch at your own risk.” If we’d been warned, maybe we would have gone out for a walk instead of getting caught up in a dizzying whirlwind of home improvement possibilities. Last week, we found ourselves [...]

A search for stillness

This will sound weird, but lately I find myself fantasizing about learning to knit. Even though I’m not a “crafty” person, I can’t get this image out of my head – me sitting serenely on the sofa, yarn in hand, needles at the ready, just knitting. I even looked up “learn to knit” on YouTube and watched a video about it, wondering if it’s something I could learn on my own. But in the back of my mind, I can hear this baffled voice questioning the would-be knitter: “What’s up with this sudden desire to knit? Don’t you have enough to do already?” The answer to that internal question is “Yes. In fact, I have way too much to do [...]

Embracing the great indoors

American culture likes people who are “outdoorsy.” Society sees it as a healthy, wholesome way to live. Outdoorsy people are generally considered to be adventurous, energetic, and down-to-Earth. Some people boast about their outdoor hobbies on dating profiles, or they post photos of their adventures in the wild on Facebook. But what about those of us who don’t want to hike or bike or ride the rapids? Does that make us bad people? Have you ever noticed that no one ever brags about being “indoorsy”? In fact, indoorsy isn’t even a word. (The spell checker on my computer is losing its electronic mind every time I dare to type it.) The closest word to “indoorsy” is probably “homebody” or “hermit” [...]

Sometimes things turn up

In our laundry room, we have a small bin for “lost socks.” The irony here is that the socks in the bin aren’t lost at all. We know exactly where they are. It’s their twins that are missing, wandering around out there in the domestic black hole where I assume all lost things go, if for no other reason than to torture us. But I keep those single socks, sometimes for up to a year, because of this universal truth: “Sometimes things turn up.” Does it always happen? No. I waited for years for the key to our grandfather clock to show up before finally caving in and buying a replacement key online. But every now and then, the domestic [...]

Work-life balance myth?

When our three kids were babies and toddlers and I stayed home with them full-time, I often felt guilty about doing one thing instead of the other. When I was pushing them on the swings in the backyard, I felt guilty about how long it had been since I’d mopped our sticky kitchen floors. When I was mopping floors, I felt bad about the kids being parked in front of the television, (which, by the way, was the only way to keep toddlers off a wet floor). Even as a stay-at-home mom, I felt like I was failing in my quest to balance work and life. There was never enough of my time to go around. Today, after 10 years [...]

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 [...]