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 [...]

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 [...]