The little tree that could

The fall season gets a ton of attention around here. The leaves put on quite a colorful show before they drop off for winter – going out in a blaze of fiery reds, oranges and golden yellows. But as comedian Jim Gaffigan puts it, this awe-inducing display is part of a seasonal death march for the leaves, as the trees starve them of the chlorophyll that once made them green. It’s gorgeous and a tad depressing all at the same time. Maybe that’s why Spring is my favorite time of year here in the cul-de-sac where we live. Lately it looks like this place is dressing up for a summer garden party. With a flash of lavender and a pop [...]

Life After Diana

When I look around the house, I miss her. It’s been a few months now since she left, and this place is not the same. I met Diana at exactly the right time. I was almost nine months pregnant with our third child. In addition to the baby kicking around in my womb, there was also a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old kicking around the house, making messes wherever they went. I was in that early phase of motherhood when you foolishly believe being a “supermom” is an attainable goal. I was in a constant quest to keep the house clean – awkwardly bending over my pregnant belly to mop the kitchen floor or get Lego blocks off the rug. And [...]

Lessons learned from a streak and a shadow

In our house, we have a doggie dynamic duo. Charlie, who is a rescued mixed breed of beagle and Italian greyhound, is part sighthound and part scent hound. Cooper (the Corgi) is a herding dog. As far as life philosophies go, they couldn’t be more different. Charlie’s personal mantra is this: “Dash out any open door and run wherever thy nose doth lead you. When the squirrel scampers up a tree, stand at the base of the tree and loudly bellow up at it to express your frustration. The neighbors love that.” Cooper, on the other hand, takes his job as C.F.H. (Chief Family Herder) extremely seriously. His mantra is this: “I shall stay with my human sheep. The sheep [...]

Academic speed dating

Twelve years ago, I sat down at this keyboard and wrote a column about the day Tom and I took our son to his first day of Kindergarten. And here I am back at the same keyboard typing up a report on an entirely different first – that former Kindergartner’s first college visit. Judging by what I’ve heard and read, visiting colleges during your junior year of high school is a little like academic speed dating. You spend a couple of hours on each college campus sizing it up and asking questions. Then you decide if you can envision yourself spending four years with that college. Not only is this process new for our 17-year-old son, it’s new for us, [...]

Mom gone viral

Friends, today is a good day – one I’m especially grateful for as I emerge from a three-day virus that reminded me how quickly a germ can reduce a person to a miserable blob of mucus, praying for relief. This particular germ has become a frequent flyer at our house lately. In our five-person family, I was the fourth to fall victim to it. Our 17-year-old is the only one thus far to escape its wrath, and I’m pretty sure he’s safe because not even a virus wants to mess around with a moody teenager. Like most viral illnesses, this one came on suddenly and began with what felt like a mild burn in the back of my throat – [...]

Modern-day snow days

When we went to bed last night, we didn’t think it would happen. We prepared the kids for the cold Monday morning school day that likely awaited them. But then shortly after 5 a.m., phones across our great land pinged with the most glorious of text messages: SNOW DAY! Our oldest son was the first to see the text and promptly made the rounds to the rest of our bedrooms to share the joyous news, which was met with a groggy grunt and then an “Awesome” followed by a roll-over to resume sleep. Clearly, the Lord had heard the urgent prayers of kids across the tri-county area and granted what may be our only snow day of the year. With [...]

The wonderful world of weird news

It’s not easy to closely follow the national news these days. It can be frustrating and depressing at times. But recently I’ve found a refreshing option that gives news junkies like me a good dose of information, minus the political circus. It’s called strange news. If you do an Internet search for weird or strange news, you’ll find a few different sources. NBC has a collection of it, as does the Huffington Post. But my favorite stash of strange news is compiled by the National Public Radio’s website. It’s the kind of place where you can read about a rare sighting of the world’s largest bee – an insect described as a “flying bulldog” with a tongue that measures more [...]

Squinting into the future

Yesterday I chaperoned my parents, who are now in their 70s and 80s, to an eye doctor’s appointment. My dad is scheduled for cataract surgery next month, so he needed to have some pre-operative tests done in advance. As a young doctor sat in front of the three of us, I thought about how “full circle” we’ve come. My parents used to take me to the doctor and sort through my childhood ailments, and now I’m the one asking the doctor questions about dad’s upcoming procedure. While holding an oversized plastic model of the human eye, the doctor explained what happens inside the eye as we age. “See this lens right here?” he said, motioning to my dad who was [...]

Rocky Mountain Revelation

As a self-confessed homebody and certified “indoor person,” I don’t gush about outdoor adventures. I’ve been known to avoid them, especially when they include chance encounters with snakes, bugs or camping tents. But I’m about to gush for what may be the first time ever. My family and I just flew back from Colorado where we took a long weekend to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. We met them in Breckenridge, a ski resort town. We skied for one day, and I enjoyed it as much as possible for a person like me. Whenever I’m skiing, I appreciate the beautiful scenery and the feel of gliding down the slope, but I’m always mindful of the risk – how you [...]

Modern day procrastination

Here’s a tricky question: How do you teach your kids a lesson you’re not sure you’ve learned yourself? That’s the dilemma Tom and I find ourselves in as our kids struggle with the dragon of delay – procrastination. After a few extremely late nights with homework and dramatic angst and self-loathing, our kid, who shall remain nameless (and sleepless), has realized there’s a dark, ugly side to putting things off. For the record, I tried to help him avoid this situation. I reminded. I nagged. I pointed out how late it was getting. But teenagers tend to insist they’ve “got this” or that “they’re on it.” (They’re usually not, by the way.) He’d been lured into the waltz of the [...]